Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food and Exercise, Exercise and Food

Since I have still been getting some questions about the food and exercise program I am following during the Zero Excuses Challenge, I thought I'd share just exactly what the program is like.

Each day we do 3 exercises:  one for the upper body, one for the lower body, then one for the core.  That is followed by any type of cardio we choose, but done in interval style where you go hard for a minute then easy for a couple of minutes.

As the challenge has progressed, the number of reps and how we do the exercises has changed up a bit.  The first two weeks we did the upper immediately followed by lower body then rested for 45-60 seconds.  Repeat for the prescribed number of sets.  Once that was all done, we did our core work.

Week 1 we did 2 sets of 25 reps for the upper and lower and 4 sets of 10 reps for the core.
Week 2 we did 3 sets of 20 reps for the upper and lower and 4 sets of 12 reps for the core.

Last week it changed so that we did the upper, lower, core one after the other as 1 set then rested and repeated.  We did 4 sets of 15 for upper and lower and core.  This week it has gone to 5 sets of 12. 

I have to say, I'm already using much heavier weights than the first week and my planks have gotten to the point where Monday morning I did 5 one minute planks.  Proud of that.  I'm also extremely proud that I'm sticking to it.  As ya'll know, I am a cardio queen.  I think the reason I'm finding it easy to stick with this is that it only takes 15-20 minutes to do which still leaves me plenty of time to run 3-4 miles when I'm done.

If you'd like to see the exercises in action:  Here are the links to the videos Rich did for us.  If you watch even a portion of them you'll see he did them fron his own couch.  Even if you don't have access to a gym, there are Zero Excuses!

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday - no link because Wednesday is a cardio only day and we shoot for 45 minutes.
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

Also, I find the stretch from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning and then again from Thursday to Friday really hard.  I've been pushing the morning workouts and with the addition of the Muay Thai classes in the evenings, I wake up Wednesday and Friday feeling too pooped to pop very tired and really hungry.  Those are the days where I have to just gut it out and get the workouts over with. 

I have to say, if you're a person who says I don't have time to strength train and do cardio, you should try this program.  It takes less than an hour a day - even if you choose to do 30 minutes of cardio at the end. The bonus for me is that this week I am finally feeling my clothing a bit looser and I noticed in the big mirrors at Muay Thai last night that I'm developing some definition in my arms that wasn't there before.  Bye, bye grandma jiggle!!

As for the food, other than my Thanksgiving indulgences I am really sticking to the Paleo style of eating.  I do try to make things for the dinner meal that Mr. Helen will eat and he adds carbs from pasta, potatoes or rice.  Here's what I've eaten so far this week:

Monday
Omelette made with 3/4 cup egg beaters, 1 cup mushroom pieces, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 tsp. evoo
Banana
1 cup homemade tomato basil soup
Large tossed salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, lettuce) with 3 oz. lean ham and 2 T balsamic vinaigrette
Apple
6 oz. Swiss Steak over 3 cups baby spinach, 1/2 cup roasted carrots
Tangerine
About a gallon of water

Tuesday
Omelette made with 3/4 cup egg beaters, 1 cup mushroom pieces, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 tsp. evoo
4 oz. grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup roasted carrots, 1 cup roasted zucchini, 1 cup roasted asparagus, Tangerine
Banana with coffee
Creamy chicken curry (a recipe I've made for years and it's made with coconut milk so its very Paleo!) over 3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup 0% Fage with 3/4 cup blackberries
Another gallon of water...

Normally if I'm going to eat a higher carb fruit like banana, I try to do it in the mornings. However, on Tuesdays, I've been eating one in the afternoon because in addition to my morning workout, I'm taking a Muay Thai class at 5:45.  I feel like I need the little bit of extra carbs as fuel for that class.

I'm not saying that's perfect, but it's what I'm doing and it's working.  I have to say it has been a nice reprieve from the calorie counting I'd been doing for years.  I still haven't stopped missing grains, but I am no longer craving them the way I was.  I will definitely reincorporate a few things (my beloved oatmeal!). Once this challenge is over I am becoming more and more sure that low-glycemic eating will be the way for me to go with a Paleo week or two every month mixed in until I can get all my weight off.

Weight off or no, the real test of all this for me is going to be that bloodwork in January - that's my real goal.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  This past long holiday weekend was just about the best holiday I can remember in recent years.  The actual day was hosted by my sister and her boyfriend.  It's nice to see her genuinely smile... and I'm not sure whose eyes are bluer - hers or his.


9.  Serious games of chess were played

8.  The littlest niece is a teensy bit afraid of dogs.  I think some of it is because she's such a peanut that most dogs are bigger than she is.  But my sister's boyfriend has a tiny little pug.  So Sammy tried to be friends with Bugsley - which worked mostly.  The only problem was that Sammy would get excited and skip across the room and Bugsley would think she wanted to play so she'd bark and run after Sammy with her tail going a mile a minute.  Which would promptly cause Sammy to burst into tears.  Hey, when you're 2 it's a learning process!


7.  Amazing Gracie was waiting for me to get there as she had very very important and exciting news! Did you know the Tooth Fairy gives $3 now?  And sucker Uncle Mr. Helen gives $5?!!


6.  Little Helen got a belated birthday gift, one worth waiting for - a new Coach bag!

5.  Friday we avoided all retail outlets and went to get our Christmas tree because we realized with our schedule we literally did not have another free time to do it.  Mr. Helen was the tree cutter, while Little Helen and I were the tree pickers,  She was quite excited as, since she left home, she rarely gets to take part in this tradition.

Where are you going?  I thought you girls wanted this one?

Are you SURE this is the tree you girls want?

Glad to have her home!

4.  Little Helen and I left the tree farm and went straight to the Princess Diana exhibit.  Worth every single penny we paid to get into it!  It was really well done - a mini story of her life.  There were even home movies of when she was growing up. The wedding gown was displayed  with the train fully extended, along with the shoes and bag she wore that day and the little flower girl's dress.  One whole room was dedicated to some of her most iconic outfits.  Those gowns were so gorgeous and classic that they could be worn today!  I wish I had photos to show you but no picture taking allowed.  But I did get a nice memento - an ornament for my tree.


3.  Saturday was a day of tree and house decorating.  Even though I was super busy all day it felt good to just hang around the house!  I think it all came out looking pretty good.



2.  Saturday evening we went to our friend's fund raiser for the scholarship they established when their 27 year old son was killed in an accident several years ago.  They give out two $500 scholarships each year to a graduating senior.  Since they are from St. Martin, they threw a big party that included Caribbean style food, a comedian and dancing.  It was so much fun and a great way to cap the weekend!


1.  Best of all?  Wonderful to have Little Helen home and not even a drop of extended family drama. Just good times and great memories!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Zero Excuses Challenge - The Holiday Mix

This is the end of the third week of the Zero Excuses Challenge.  Starting in the second week, Rich kept warning us that the third week would be the hardest.  The warnings continued with him mentioning it several times in emails and in our exercise videos.  Sorry, Rich, but I disagree.  Last week (the second week) was almost unbearable mostly due to what I felt like were out of control grain carb cravings.  No amount of fruit or vegetables ever satisfied that and I truly felt miserable. Then of course, to top it off, I lost only .2 pounds.  Frustrating and discouraging.

But I have a stubborn streak that won't quit and I'm also the type who, once they commit, sticks. Pretty much there was no option except for me to hang in there - at least for the prescribed six weeks of the challenge.  Much to my pleasant surprise it ended up being a week where I felt like I was cruising - finally getting into the rhythm of the exercise plan and the eating.  The urge for grains backed off a bit and I knew I'd make it until Thanksgiving, my planned "off of plan" day.

The Thanksgiving Holiday was everything I hoped it would be... a wonderful time with family!  Of course the best thing of all was seeing Little Helen.  It had been far too long and it was like chicken soup for the soul having her home. Errrr chicken soup with no rice or noodles that is!

I also did as promised - to Rich and to those of you who read - partaking of some indulgences that I carefully planned out.

Thanksgiving morning I got up and did my three exercises and then went out to do my cardio.  I decided that I would do intervals for at least 45 minutes or longer since I normally would have taken a Muay Thai class that night.  Plus, I figured the extra burn would only help with the calories later to come.

It was unusually warm and sunny here so I hit the pavement and enjoyed getting my exericse outdoors, with hills, which made it even more challenging.

While I was gone, I baked a breakfast casserole that had soaked overnight. You've probably got a similar recipe of buttered bread cut into cubes, crumbled turkey breakfast sausage, shredded low fat cheddar and eggs and milk whipped together then poured over the top of it all and left overnight. When I got back, we all had a portion of it for breakfast.  I ate probably around 3/4 of a cup of it.  As I ate I thought about how the turkey sausage and eggs made that thing semi-Paleo - HA!  Can't we justify when we want to?

Our main meal was not eaten until 4 p.m. and consisted of the usual suspects.  Prior to the meal I chose to have 1 glass of wine instead of eating appetizers.  I had another glass of wine with my meal.  The items I chose were about 4 oz. of turkey, 1 cup cornbread stuffing, 1 homemade roll, 1 1/2 cups roasted brussels sprouts.  It filled me up both physically and emotionally.  Everything tasted so good that I was satisfied and really did not want more.

We waited for a while to have dessert and that was my real dilemma.  The dilemma being that I was choosing to have just one thing.  Out of everything I made, just one.  Very hard to choose since I made the desserts and knew they would all be good!  Mama Helen requested my homemade Chocolate Cream Pie.  The chocolate cream is made from scratch and of course I use real whipped cream for the topping.  Mr. Helen asked for Pecan Pie and Brother Helen asked for Pumpkin Pie.  No one else requested anything but I wanted to make the Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake that I had made last year, which had been a smashing success.  So I did.  Here's a picture of this year's version:

When Little Helen walked through the door and saw the cake she exclaimed, "Oh Mom!  I can't believe you made that cake.  It's my new favorite Thanksgiving dessert!"  This is coming from a kid that doesn't eat sweets.  Then, as soon as I arrived at my sister's house and she saw the cake she said, "I just told Eric (her boyfriend) that I wasn't going to eat dessert today because I'm always too full and never enjoy it,  and really the only dessert I'd want is the cake you made last year.  Now that I see you made that cake, I'm having dessert today and I'm keeping a piece for tomorrow!"

I chose the cake too as did my sister-in-law and of course, Little Helen.  It was amazing.  Seriously, this recipe is a showstopper.

On Friday, I got right back on track and even tried to drink a lot more water.  Surprising to me was that I had not triggered any cravings by partaking of my indulgences on Thanksgiving.  I found it easy to get right back in the swing of things.  A nice surprise, indeed.

Still, when I stepped on the scale Saturday morning, I have to admit a feeling of nervousness.  Because you know I lost only .2 last week and there had been no indulgences.  But I knew if it was terrible, Shelley would cheer me up somehow lol!

So I stepped on the scale and saw

Holiday indulgences and all - I LOST 2 POUNDS!  This is unheard of for me... I would have been thrilled with 1!  What made it even better?

Seriously, this is still my favorite thing about this scale!  I love seeing that total progress.  5.8 lbs. in 3 weeks - not too shabby!  And I have to tell you straight up that I feel so much more motivated just seeing these numbers rather than the 3 numbers of my weight.  I'm not sure why, but being the person who lost 2 lbs. this week makes me feel like a rock star whereas being the person who weighs ___ and it's a weight I don't want to be makes me feel not so good.

At this point I say, the Zero Excuses Challenge is working for me.  When I see results like this, I have to admit, it has been worth the effort of putting in the work, doing the exercise and following the eating plan!

If you would like to own your own Zero Scale, go here: http://thezeroscale.com/, click "buy now" and in the promo code box, type in the word "Zero" to get a 15% discount.  This offer is only good until December 23rd so why are you waiting?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Midweek Mix

Mr. Helen was as amazing as I thought he'd be during his testing.  The testing took place during 3 two-hour sessions.  The second session was 6-8 am on Saturday morning.  They started off with many boot camp style exercises - 500 Jumping Jacks, 250 pushups, 300 crunches, running in place, etc.  Then it was light outside and they went out for their run.  It is about 2.25 miles and they tell the students they need to do a 10 minute mile so about 22 minutes.  Mr. Helen did it in 16:50.

Once everyone was in they made them run over to a bank parking lot that has a hill and proceeded to drill them with hill sprints and bear crawls - forwards and backwards! - for 45 minutes.  Then the Shihan told them they had to run again, only the route they did this time was 2.5 miles.  He actually gave them 30 minutes to complete it since their legs were worn out.  Mr. Helen did it in 19:15. Holy speed batman!

He passed.

I'm scared though.  In a year I'll be going through those same drills.  I don't care that I won't be near that fast, although I am hoping over the next year to get close to the 10 minute mile.  What scares me is the sheer physicality of it all.

Unlike Mr. Helen, I am a mere mortal.

Perfect pushup form!

Hundreds, maybe a thousand situps done

Coming in from the first run.  He took it easy (16:00 minutes - ha!)

Cheering on the other candidates.


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I was recently given the most unexpected, nicest gift.  One of my coworkers approached me and asked me if I would like a really nice, brand new running jacket. Well, that's a silly question!  The next day she came to my office with this!

This is a gorgeous jacket.  It is mesh lined so that it breathes while you run along with wicking and reflective properties.  One of the really cool features is on the back.  There's a switch inside the jacket that turns on a flashing bar so that people/bikes/cars approaching from the rear see you better.

Alas once I had it home and looked carefully this is what I saw:

Sigh. I am not a medium right now peeps.  My first thought was that I'd ask Little Helen if she wanted it and if she didn't then I'd send it off to Shelley.  Then I thought, why not keep it and use it as a reward for making goal! Because when I get to goal (hopefully sometime in 2012) I will be a medium again!  Sorry Shelley, that's what I decided to do.

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Don't have much more to say.  I'm off work today baking and making pies and prepping the sweet potatoes for our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.  I will be making this again.  I have a feeling it is going to become a regular holiday dessert.


I won't be blogging anymore this week - my Little Helen is coming home and it has been 11 months since I've seen her!  She and I have some fun things planned and ultimately, cherishing time with family is the most important thing.

I am thankful for all of my blogging friends - I don't care what anyone says, you're real to me!  Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Zero Excuses But Lots of Frustration

This is a long post cram packed with information and not a lot of photos.
Don't say you weren't warned!

Before I get to the weigh-in, which is what I know ya'll are dying to see, I wanted to expand a bit on Thursday's post.

The only reason I said that I wasn't sure I'd made the right decision is because I was still really craving grains when I got up.  Sometimes I wonder if it's not better to just give in to a portion controlled amount of the item one is craving?

I can futher expound on that thought by saying that again all day Thursday I was having a very difficult time.  I had to return an item to TJ Maxx and they had put out all the holiday candies. Some of these candies are items that are found only during this time of year.  I usually buy a package or two, just to have around.  But that day I was so distracted by the candy that I couldn't even browse the store and once again decided I just needed to leave.  No, I didn't buy any - yet - because I honestly felt I might cave and eat some.

Thanks for your comments and support though - I especially love how Shelley reminded me that a buttery pretzel probably wouldn't be something I'd eat no matter what diet I was using.  So true!  Do you know how many times I've been to the dumb mall and may not even have noticed the smell.  I also loved what Lori said when I referred to my Thanksgiving cheat day:

And I would not call it a cheat day. I don't like that term. You are making a conscious and informed decision to eat off of your prescribed plan. You aren't being deceptive about it.

You are correct Lori and I'm hoping that my conscious decision is going to help me with conscious, controlled eating as well!

Now to answer a couple of your questions:

Debby asked: "Are you planning to try baking with the coconut and almond flours?"  My answer right now is "I don't know."  The challenge lasts for six weeks and after that I am planning on eating more of a low glycemic style which wouldn't require those items.  Sometimes I think about buying some and experimenting and other times I think it's just easier to do without baked goods for now.  That's why I'm wishy-washy!

Kelly asked: "Do you allow yourself splurge meals or days?" Right now, other than Thanksgiving, I have not planned any.  I did splurge on Saturday night and have a glass of wine to toast Mr. Helen's new black belt.  But honestly 1 glass of wine per night is Paleo-allowed.  However, my personal opinion is that wine and alcohol stall metabolism so I've chosen not to imbibe. Additionally Rich Kreps tells us that in order to lose weight we need to eat 95% Paleo 5% non-Paleo at most.  Assuming 21 meals per week, that means 1 meal per week that could be non-Paleo. More on this in a minute.

On to the weigh-in.

This photo shows my loss for the week.

The reason the scale shows 6 days instead of 7 is because it has a clock that starts when you install the battery.  The days do not reset at midnight so if you weigh yourself at 9:00 am one week and at 8:45 the next, it will show 6 days instead of 7.  Make sense?  I've already suggested to the scale manufactureres that they figure out a way to change that so the scale runs from mindnight to 11:59 as that is how most people perceive a day.

This photo, which is the next screen that flashes shows my total days using the Zero Scale and my total weight loss in that time frame. As you can also see it shows the total days as 14, because this feature calculates differently.  I would like to say that I LOVE this feature of the scale,  Especially when I have a weigh in like this week's.

Sadly, I lost only .2 lbs.  Very, very frustrating considering the massive grain carb cravings I had that I did not give in to.  Nor did I overeat last week with my average caloric intake being 1423, including the day I ate the extra nuts.  FRUSTRATING!!   IT'S NOT WORTH IT!!!

I texted Shelley with an "I'm sick of this crap" attitude.  As you know, not losing weight even when I've been picture perfect with my exercise and eating has been my issue for over 18 months.

Prior to the weigh in, I had been tossing around whether or not to eat a whole grain hamburger bun with the burgers that Mr. Helen chose as his victory meal for passing his third degree black belt testing.  The minute I saw this .2 lb. loss, I decided right then and there I was going to eat it.  But of course my brain also said "screw it" and I started thinking about how to not only have 1 non-Paleo meal but how to have a complete non-Paleo day.   So I ended up having that 1 non-Paleo meal last week after all, even though that wasn't my original plan.

Bless Shelley's heart, she reminded me that even on The Biggest Loser, the second week weigh-ins are notoriously terrible. I don't know why, but that simple statement immediately cheered me up.  It also kept me from just throwing in the towel altogether and sticking to a simple hamburger bun - 1 non-Paleo meal.

I am grateful that it still was a LOSS and Rich is going to work with me to see if there is anything I can tweak in my eating as he knows just how much I exercise.  My goal now is to focus on other gains I am making and wait to see what happens over the next few weeks.

Now here's the exciting news:  I am happy to tell you that I can now offer anyone who wishes to own the scale, a 15% discount on the Zero Scale.  You're seeing it in action right here and if the idea of simply seeing your progress rather than your weight appeals to you, well, you need one of these, right?  All you have to do is go here: Zero Excuses Scale, place your order, and on the left side of the page where it says PROMO CODE type in ZERO.  It's that easy to get a 15% discount!  Plus the scale is on sale right now and you get a free pedometer when you order. This offer is only good until December 23, 2011 so you'll need to act by then.

Maybe your perfect gift this year?

The Zero Scale was given to me for taking part in the Zero Excuses Challenge.  All opinions on the scale are my own.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Joy and Pain

Brrrrrr!  It was c-o-l-d this morning when I went out to run - 34 degrees!  I had to pull out my winter running gear.  But at least there was no wind and honestly, there's something to be said for running by moonlight as dawn is breaking.  Here's a skyline shot from the patio just as I got back home:


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Interesting how things I see in everyday life now remind me of blogging friends.  In the last week, I saw this, on the car of a person who keeps parking next to me at work lately - have no idea whose car it is, but I immediately thought of Lori!


On Monday, I was making a salad for lunch so I pulled out the fixings and saw something that made me think of Fran.
For some reason, it amused me greatly that my mini cucumbers were from Holland!  What the heck are they doing all the way over here?

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As I stated earlier in the week, I have been looking for the lusciousness factor with my Paleo food and boy oh boy did I score with one of this week's meals! 

To begin with, I made this beef that Biz had mentioned on her blog.  I cooked it in the crockpot while at work on Monday - no fussiness about that at all.  Once I got home, I shredded and chopped it a bit.  Hmmmm how to eat?  I decided to do a lettuce wrap.  A butter lettuce leaf, some beef, some chopped tomatoes, and some guacamole.  Hands down my favorite meal of the week.  Let me tell you, no matter how you intend to use the beef once it's cooked, it's so good.  In fact as we ate dinner Monday night, Mr. Helen kept looking at my plate and talking about he was going to make it using a real tortilla style wrap.   This is definitely a keeper!  Here's a photo of all my stuff ready to assemble:

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Tomorrow we will attend the memorial service for our brother-in-law who passed away.  Not so much with me, but with members of Mr. Helen's immediate family this seems to have dragged up some of their feelings about losing Pam.  I don't expect it to be easy and I'll be glad when it's over.

This also happens to fall right smack dab in the middle of Mr. Helen's Third Degree Black Belt testing, which up to this point had been our planned focus of the weekend.  He has three sessions to get through: 7-9 pm tonight, 6-8 am tomorrow morning and 1-3 pm tomorrow afternoon.  The memorial service is at 10 am.  Maybe it's a good thing that he will have to go back to testing and sweat it out. 

I am awed by him and his mad skillz so I'm sure there will be photos/videos next week.  The man is 56 years old, fit and healthy, but more so he really is a super athlete.  Do you know what he did last weekend?  He tried to simulate what he would have to go through this weekend!  Friday, after working all day he came home and ran 2 miles as fast as he could (that's the run requirement).  Saturday morning he got up and went to the special prep class from 7:30-9 then came home and proceeded to work out THREE more hours.  During that three hours in addition to going through all his weapons and katas, he lifted weights, did umpteen sets of pushups and situps, and ran 4 miles.  He finished the workout with 22 - yes that's twenty-two - sprints up our hill.  He's ah-mazing!

Joy and pain.  Sunshine and rain.  That's my weekend, how about yours?

Come back Monday for my second update on the Zero Excuses Challenge, and I'll answer some more of the questions I've been asked this week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

Yesterday, I had a very grain carb craving day but fought it off all day long the best I could with fruit and veggies - easier at work because options are limited to what I've brought.  After work, I had to go to the mall to get moisturizer and hairspray. (The kind I like is only there.) I thought maybe I'd look around a bit too as Christmas is fast approaching and I haven't done a darn thing towards gift buying.

I entered through one of the anchor stores and went to buy the moisturizer.  Then I proceeded out into the mall to go buy the hairspray.  As soon as I got out into the mall area, my senses were ASSAILED with the fragrance of freshly baked bread.  Oooooh....

You see, we have not one but two pretzel places at our mall, one on each end.  The buttery goodness wafting around me was calling my name, begging me to pay attention and give in to the cravings that were now making every nerve in my body stand on end.  At this point I was glad that both places were on the floor below me.

I walked quickly to the store, bought my hairspray and as I came out, decided right then and there that there was NO WAY I could stay in that mall.  I couldn't even concentrate because I wanted to run straight to one of the pretzel makers and buy a cup full of the soft little warm pretzel pillows that pop in your mouth and delight the senses with their buttery goodness.


So I left. 

I went home and after doing a couple of quick chores, I had a sensible dinner.  But that feeling?  That feeling of wanting something.... something..... something BETTER never went away.  Finally around 8:00 I ate an ounce of almonds and 2 pieces of dried fruit which put me over my calories for the day.  Then I went to bed.

This incident is exactly why I plan to have a "cheat" day on Thanksgiving where I will be eating my family's famous cornbread stuffing, one of my mother's homemade potato rolls, and some dessert.  This is also why I will eventually shift to low glycemic eating over Paleo.

This morning, I'm still not sure if I made the right decision or not.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Staring Down the Challenges

Last week during the first week of my Zero Excuses Challenge, I had the additional challenge of eating out a couple of times.  The idea of eating out initially filled me with dread.  Especially since I so badly wanted to really give this challenge a good chance.  However, these plans were made before the challenge and I did not want to back out because then I would have missed out on a fun time with friends!

Friday evening we met two other couples out for dinner - at an Italian restaurant.  Yes, I was in the land of pasta, bread and grain type carboliciousness.  Our friends were very generous and even offered to change the restaurant but I told them no, I was up for the challenge, so off we went.

Of course, the very first thing that arrived at our table after the drinks (I stuck to ice water with lemon!) was oven hot homemade foccaccia bread with flavored olive oil.  OY. I determinedly ignored it and Mr. Helen said thank you he'd eat my piece.  I sat there perusing the menu trying to figure out what to do since most of the items had cheese and/or pasta or both.  Even the baked fish was wrapped in potatoes.  Then I came across this:  Penne "Jack" Style: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp, Sauteed With Sweet Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Basil With Marinara Sauce.

I knew I could make this work if they would just serve me the meat and sauce with no penne!  I didn't even look for a substitute for pasta as ya'll know I don't believe there is any and would rather just do without. (No fake spaghetti squash Rich!)  I did however ask if they would serve it over sauteed spinach to up the veggies in the dish.  Everyone else ordered pasta and fish and you know what?  When my meal came to the table, several people were oohing and aaahing and saying they were going to get the Penne "Helen-style" next time they visited the restaurant!

My second eating out experience came on Sunday afternoon.  My friend Em texted me on Friday and asked if we could get together for lunch.  She's in the midst of dieting to get into her wedding dress so she requested I find a place with Big Ass Salads!  I knew just the place:  it's actually a pizza place but their salads are really yummy.  I chose the Grilled Vegetable Salad:  Mixed greens, grape tomatoes, black olives, topped with grilled summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, red onions and feta cheese.

I asked them to remove the feta cheese and add a grilled chicken breast.  It was delicious.  Since I forgot my camera, Em took a photo so I could share:
Doesn't it look yummy!  I have to admit, I honestly did not miss the cheese because this salad was so flavorful.

Overall I am just pleased that I was able to go to dinner, have fun and fellowship with good friends and also enjoy good food. 

The other challenge that I haven't talked about yet, well, it's a bit hard for me.  You know I went to the specialist last week.  What I really wanted was to walk in and have them say this is what is wrong, this is what you should do and this is when you'll be all better.  Unfortunately, no such luck.  In fact, in addition to having to submit to even more testing, I got some upsetting news, though I had suspected as much:  It looks like I am pre-diabetic. Because my numbers are just over the top of the range, I am not being given medication but I am being encouraged to eat a very clean diet and continue my exercise and see if in a few months the numbers - both my weight and my sugar - will come down.  All fine with me since I didn't want to have meds anyway.  But I have to admit, Wednesday was a hard day for me - I was very upset and disappointed, feeling once again as if my body has betrayed me.  I mean really, isn't being hypothyroid enough to deal with?!!

Then on Monday I went back to my GP (who has managed my healthcare very well according to the specialist) wherein she informed me that in the report she received from the specialist and in looking at the bloodwork I had done in September, I am also insulin resistant (the specialist never mentioned this!) and she wanted to talk to me about Metformin. Additionally it seems that my thyroid levels are trending upward.  (Both of these things would explain my unexplained weight gain of late.) I could feel my brain starting to shut down and I just wanted to lay down on the exam table and cry.  We spent a few minutes talking about it, with me telling her about the challenge and the Paleo style eating I'm doing.  I told her I lost 3.5 lbs. in the first week and I begged asked her to let me try this for a few weeks. 

As she was listening she also seemed to be skimming the specialist's report and suddenly said, "Dr. Gonzales tested your insulin and thyroid again?"  I answered yes but that I'd only gone on Saturday.  She told me to wait that she wanted to see if the results were available in the lab's online system.  A few minutes later she came back and said, "I have good news and so-so news:  it seems like maybe this Paleo thing is doing for you what Metformin would do because your insulin has dropped 1 1/2 points since September.  So I will agree to hold off on the Metformin for now.  (HURRAY!!!) However, since September your thyroid has climbed 2.5 points and right now you are in complete thyroid shut-down.  Also, your irons levels are terribly low.  Both the iron and thyroid would explain the fatigue you keep mentioning.  So, we are going to up the meds for that and you'll have to start having bloodwork done every 2 months again."  (SIGH.  SIGH.  SIGH.)

A mixed bag for sure.  But I'm going to deal with it and face it down like I am facing down the Zero Excuses Challenge.  I will not let these things get the best of me! What I'm proud of, is that even though I cried a little and whined to Shelley and to Mr. Helen, I did not turn to food of any kind, not even "good for me" food. 

Eating out, not eating for comfort - little challenges met with victory.  I'll take them!



Monday, November 14, 2011

Zero Excuses Challenge Update 1 and a Weigh In

This is the end of the first week/beginning of the second week of the Zero Excuses Challenge I am participating in.

It has been an interesting week for me. As per my life-long pattern, I had no problems at all with the working out, but a myriad of interesting things to deal with and learn when it came to the Paleo-style eating that Rich Kreps, our trainer/nutritionist, has challenged us to follow!

First of all I should say that I am not a person who craves various foods.  I like lots of foods but I've never been one who specifically craved anything.  Perhaps because I've always eaten a large variety of things, I don't crave sugar or sweets or wine or even bread.  I'm just not a cravy person.  So, while some of my other fellow challengers have noticed that their cravings for sugars and grain type carbohydrates have decreased, I actually  felt myself develop cravings.  It was a bit unusual for me to feel like if I could just have one little piece of whole grain bread I'd feel better.

By Wednesday morning my body and mind were so sick of hunks of meat and chunks of vegetables I felt like every nerve in my body was standing on end.  Not to mention that while I had not had a lot of stomach growling hunger during the daytime, I'd been waking up to gnaw on my bedpost hunger.

I have the additional challenge that I cannot eat a drop of food before I've taken my thyroid med a full hour before eating.  This makes it difficult for me during the week when I get up at 4 so that I'm able to be exercising by 4:45 or so.  Even if I take the med, I don't have time to eat before I work out, etc., etc...... aaaaarrrggghhhhhh!

As you guys know, I generally watch Biggest Loser while I run on my treadmill on Wednesdays and that's exactly what I did last Wednesday morning.  However, instead of quickly stopping the treadmill while I went to write down something inspiring, I stopped it because about 10 minutes into my intervals my brain was going crazy to the point where I wanted to get into the freezer and eat a piece of frozen bread. (The freezer is in the garage with the treadmill.) Yep, it was that bad.  My solution was to get off the treadmill, run into the house put the oven on 400, scrub a small sweet potato and pop it in. When I finished my run 45 minutes later, the potato was cooked.  I ate that and 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast that day. Sweet potatoes are actually allowed in moderation in the Paleo diet, mostly as a great post workout food, which is exactly what I did!

I truly believe that the reason my cravings were so strong is that my carb intake on Monday and Tuesday was extremely low not to mention that on Tuesday I had done both the assigned workout and attended a one hour Muay Thai class that evening.  It turned out to be one of the hardest MT classes I've ever had.  My body really did need a carb boost.  In addition I tried to eat extra fruit on Wednesday and not only did it seem to do the trick of settling my cravings down, it also made me feel better on Thursday.

So, I feel like the food part of this challenge is going to continue to be a bit experimental for me.  I need to figure out how to eat  to prevent the cravings that I'd never had before! I also need to figure out how to eat on days when I have a double workout:  mornings with the assigned challenge workout and evenings with Muay Thai.  Additionally, I continue to struggle with the sensory side of the eating thing.  Don't get me wrong, I am eating very good food, seasoned well, etc.  I'm just missing the "oooh this is luscious" factor and I need to figure out how to bring that back.  I'm also missing (a lot!) my cheeses and oatmeal.

Now for the part I know ya'll really want to see:  the weigh in.  I need to apologize in advance for the photo - it's terrible.  I forgot my glasses upstairs and didn't realize it until I had the camera pointed at the scale and once that number pops, I need to take the photo because of the way this scale works.  Between my poor vision and my excitement, it's a very blurry photo that I had to crop due to all the backflash - sigh.  BUT WHO CARES?


BOOYAH! 3.6 lbs. down!!

Thanks to my fabulous photog skillz, what is sort of hard to see is the word "loss" under the 7.  The 7 is how many days since I weighed myself.  A full week in other words.  Unlike some people I know, I don't have a hard time at all staying off the scale.

How did this weigh in make me feel?  Encouraged is the best word I think.  Because it wasn't a huge, huge number (like 7 or 8 lbs.) I don't feel it was as much water weight as I thought it might be.  So I feel encouraged that it's 'real' weight loss.  I'm also encouraged because it's been a loooooong time since I've seen any downward movement on the scale.  Additionally, I have to admit, I LIKE not knowing what I weigh.  In the past, when I saw the 3 digits the fact that the numbers was so much more than I want to weigh discouraged me to the point where I could not concentrate on the truth:

I lost 3.6 pounds!

Pretty good for a hypothyroid, menopausal 51 year old, right?!



Friday, November 11, 2011

Never Enough Ways to Say Thank You

I have run the Marine Corps Marathon twice.  It's my favorite race because you basically run through American history.  Plus I get to see my favorite monument of all, based on this photo:


Here's a photo of me with the monument and a friend who had come to support me when I last ran that race in 2008.

I also live in a military community with a Naval Submarine Base.  Mr. Helen is a butcher in the commissary at the base so he has daily contact with military folks of all ages - from the baby 18 year olds who are there for the submarine school to the 90 year old retirees.  You know what he says they appreciate more than anything?  A simple "thank you." 

So today I salute our veterans, active duty and retired.  Thank you for all you have done to secure my freedom.  I also want to say thank you to their families who send their fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, sisters and mothers into the battle not knowing if or when they will return.

If you know a veteran, please make an extra effort to thank them today.  If you don't, you can always say your thank you silently to the universe.  I'm sure they'll feel it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Expect Weight Loss

As promised I'm address some of the questions and comments I've gotten this week over the Zero Excuses Challenge and the Paleo diet I am trying in conjuction with it.


Fran asked: do you have to do your fitness exercise 7 days a week or do you get a "day off"? 
The exercise program is set up so that we exercise 6 days a week.  M, T, Th, F, Sa we have an upper body exercise, a lower body exercise, and a core exercise, followed by cardio.  The daily strength training alternates between pushing exercises (like a chest press) and pulling exercises (like a chest row).  Wednesday we get a break and get to do cardio only and Sunday is a complete day of rest.  I have to admit I'm looking forward to Sunday.


Karen asked: Are you going to work your Muay Thai kickboxing workouts into the challenge's workouts...or will kickboxing be in addition?
I will be doing my Muay Thai in addition to the other workouts.  When I did my very first workout I was thrilled to discover that I'm much stronger than I thought I was and I give all the credit to Muay Thai.  Having said that, I thought I was going to D-I-E at Muay Thai on Tuesday night.  I didn't realize how much that extra hour of exercise Tuesday morning would affect me!


Lori saidAnd strength training every day? I don't think I could do that.
Yes you could Lori!  Because it's only 3 exercises per day and they work all different areas... not at all like the strength training you usually do!  This morning I did supersets of  Dumbbell Shoulder Presses, Standing Calf Raises (1 set of 25 each then rest one minute and repeat).  Finish with 5 sets of 10 Seated Knee Raises with 20 seconds of rest between each set.


And many of you are looking to find out more about the Paleo food plan.  I think the best way for me to share with you will be through some of my recipe experiments, but basically, Paleo does not include grains, dairy, gluten, sugars of any kind.  If you really look around the internet, you'll see most Paleo eaters use coconut flour, almond flour, etc.  No wheat!  The emphasis is on lean meats, healthy oils, fruits and vegetables.  In my search to find more definitive information, I came across this website which actually has lists of foods to eat, to be moderate with and to avoid.  Click there if you'd like some more information. 


Again, while I know this will not be something I want to do forever, I am hoping that by trying it as strictly as I can for a couple of weeks, it might jump start my weight loss.  Having said that,  I am not willing to buy odd ingredients that I won't use in the future nor am I willing to substitute certain things (I'm talking to you, spaghetti squash).  Honestly, I'd rather have no pasta at all until I'm ready to re-incorporate it.

Based on how I've been feeling these past few days (cranky and grouchy extremely hungry first thing in the morning), and from the carbohydrate restriction alone, I definitely expect to see weight loss this first week. Carbohydrates help to retain water (that's why distance runners carbo load prior to a race!) and without them, water flushes out.  I think the hook for me will be to see continued weight loss in the weeks that follow.

Look for my first weigh-in on the Zero Scale on Monday.  As curious as I am even today, I'm going to keep my weigh-ins to once a week.  Before the end of the challenge, I will be able to offer a discount for anyone who wants to purchase the scale so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  If you have questions regarding the Zero Excuses Challenge I started this week, ask away! A couple of people asked in yesterday's comments so I decided I'm going to do a post on Thursday answering questions.

9.  My 'last supper' on Sunday night before I started the Zero Excuses Challenge was Braised Short Ribs, Crockpot Smashed Red Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Homemade Biscuits.  Of course the ribs and brussels sprouts can be eaten again during the challenge but Mr. Helen is in biscuit heaven because he doesn't have to share!


8.  I think I've already found one way I'm going to "cheat" the Paleo diet:  salad dressing.  I use Newman's Own Light salad dressings, mostly the balsamic vinaigrette and the honey mustard.  Technically, on Paleo, I shouldn't use them because they have a bit of sugar in them.  But you know, they're organic and have all natural ingredients so there you have it.

7.  In some ways I think "cheating" a bit might be good for me overall.  I have the tendency to be such a rule follower that I can end up trapped by things I don't even like.  Then I'm resentful and nothing good comes of that.

6. As I stated, this Paleo thing is going to make me a creative cook.  With all the veggies I'm actually chomping on, I wanted to come up with some sort of soup to use as a starter for dinner time meals.  What I came up with is Roasted "Cream" of Broccoli Soup.  I'll share the recipe in another post but here's what it came out looking like - pretty good, huh?  Tasted good too.


5. Every diet I've ever tried has left something with me that I've kept as I've moved on.  For example, Weight Watchers taught me about portion sizes and to use a scale in the kitchen.  That was 15 years ago and to this day I keep a food scale in my kitchen.  I wonder what Primal/Paleo will leave me?

4.  Here's a tip we got from Rich yesterday - a tip everyone can use! To lose weight, take your "goal" weight and multiply it by 10.  That's the approximate number of calories you want to eat in a day.  So easy to remember that.

3. I've not been hungry at all but neither have I felt satisfied, even though the food I'm eating is very good.  I feel like "something" is missing.  I'm also sure that the satisfaction has something to do with the emotional part of eating.

2.  Yesterday's breakfast:  an omelette made with 1 egg, 1/2 cup egg beaters, 1/2 tsp. olive oil, 1/2 cup mushrooms pieces, 1/2 cup chopped asparagus, 1/4 cup scallions, 1 cup baby spinach.  It was delicious and kept me fairly full but I have to admit, I missed the whole grain English muffin I would have normally had with it.  There it is...there's what I'm missing:  grains!



1.  Just for giggles, I tracked yesterday's food mostly because I was curious about the carb level.  I had only 59g of carbohydrates!  Mmmmmm, I don't think my running legs are going to like this very much at all.  In fact I'm wondering if my running will be slowed to a walk by week's end!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Zero Excuses Challenge

Today is the first day of my six week challenge.  Prior to beginning this, I received the Zero Scale at no cost to me to use for the challenge as they are the sponsors.  As this challenge progresses, I promise you that any opinions I post about the scale will be my own.

So, let’s get started and let me share what the next 6 weeks will include.  First off, I had to weigh in.  Yes, I know!  I haven’t weighed myself in ages because I got so frustrated with working hard and not seeing those 3 stupid numbers change.  Then, if you recall, I went to the doctor and she informed me that I’ve gained 15 pounds in the last year and promptly sent me for the blood tests that resulted in me being referred to the specialist, who I see Wednesday.  But I digress.  Here is my first weigh in:

 How awesome is that?!  I WEIGH ZERO!  My dream finally came true…. Of course you know I’m kidding.  But, the fact that my weight would start at zero is one of the reasons, I  agreed to even try this.  From this point forward, when I weigh in the number on the left will be how many days since I last weighed in and the 0.0 will change to number of pounds lost/gained. Since I have no idea what my total weight is I’m hoping this will help me to stick this challenge out and not be discouraged.

The second component of the challenge is a fitness program.  This program was designed by Rich Kreps, who is the personal trainer/nutritionist working with the challenge participants, and who also has his own website with fitness and nutrition information. When I spoke with Rich and he told me that this program is based on one that celebrity trainer Harvey Pasternak used with Halle Berry when she was in training to get into the suit she wore in Catwoman. Not that I think I’ll end up looking like Halle Berry but jeez who wouldn’t want to try?!

The fitness program consists of 35 minutes of cardio and 3 strength training exercises per day:  one upper body, one lower body and one for the core.  For example, this morning I did 5 minutes of walking on my treadmill to warm up then I did 2 sets of 25 of chest presses and squats (no gym so I had to sub for leg presses).  The core exercise was planks and that was followed by 30 minutes of interval running.  Since I decided to just run for 3 miles.  Three miles of intervals is hard!  But I got it done in 34:15.  Not too bad.
Now to the food.  As I’ve mentioned many times I do not like restriction and it makes me want to stomp my foot and yell “no way” like a 2 year old.  When I first got the information Rich sent us, that's pretty much exactly what I did.

The preferred diet for the challenge is Primal/Paleo which means eating protein, vegetables, some fruit, and nuts – NO beans, grains/gluten carbs, or dairy to speak of!  While I know that people who follow a very low carb diet to lose weight seem to lose successfully, I honestly do not believe this is something that I would do long term.  Therefore, this truly would be a diet for me,  not simply a lifestyle change.  As the secret to success for weight loss maintenance seems to be finding something you can do the rest of your life, I am concerned about this.  While I am not a huge consumer of grain/gluten carbs or dairy, I do like a portion or so each day.  No dairy means eliminating even cheese, which Iis where I almost exclusively experience dairy and I do like pasta and whole grains.  Eliminating those items is not at all something I would do forever.  When Rich and I spoke about this, I was quite honest about how I felt:

Rich: How about using spaghetti squash in place of pasta?
Helen:  No.  I don’t like spaghetti squash in place of pasta.  I like spaghetti squash but when I want pasta I want pasta.  Also?  Don’t call turkey bacon.  It’s not bacon.  If I eat bacon, I’m eating pig bacon, okay?
Rich (laughing):  OK, I see you are going to be my nutritional challenge.

Ultimately my concern sent me out hunting around the world wide web for more information to see if there was some things I could do that would help me stick to this at least for a couple of weeks. Based on what Rich sent, I was wasn't feeling very confident that I would last more than a day or two. In my surfing I came across Robb Wolf's website and by the time I finished reading the information he has there, I felt a lot better.  As it turns out, since I generally eat low glycemic, my current eating is not very far off of Paleo with the exception being that I eat desserts! Based on this new information, my plan is to eat more Paleo than Primal and to try to stick exclusively until Thanksgiving.  On Thanksgiving?  Well, right now I'm thinking I'll have some stuffing and pie. We'll see.  Anyway if you go to Robb's website and look at the FAQ page, you'll get an idea of how I will eat.

I will say that doing all this thinking about how NOT to eat beans, grains and dairy made me sit down and write out a meal plan for myself that I could then add some things to for Mr. Helen.  Look at these pretty Prosciutto Rolled Asparagus I made to eat as snacks!


I’m planning on posting a weekly update on Monday telling you honestly how I did and how I feel about the challenge and the Zero Scale.  I hope you’ll follow along.

Now, let’s rock and roll!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Attitudinal

I so appreciate the thoughts and kind words on my Wednesday post.  It felt like hugs from around the world.  We are doing fine but still in a bit of shock and denial that David is gone. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As usual on Wednesday morning, I watched the Biggest Loser while running on my treadmill.  This weeks lesson came from something I saw rather than what was said.

Attitude matters.

The oldest female contestant on the show, Bonnie,  has been training with Anna Kournikova.  For whatever reason these two just did not mesh.  (I'll admit I've wondered if she resented being told what to do by a person so much younger than she?)  Even considering her age, her weight losses have been OK, but not the usual spectacular results that are generally achieved. Something always just seemed off and I know even out here in blogland a lot of people put the blame squarely on Anna, the trainer.

This week's episode included a trainer swap so that almost everyone ended up with someone new, including Bonnie.  She made no bones about letting everyone know how happy she was about the switch.  So the new teams (no longer divided by age but made up of teams with one each of young, mid, and older) work out like crazy with their new trainers and go for the weigh in.  You would think that since Anna was such a "terrible" trainer her team would suck once again, right?  I mean, even the people on her new team barely gave her the benefit of the doubt at the beginning.  Surprise!  Her team actually won the weigh in overall.  However what or maybe I should say who was really telling was Bonnie.  With the switch, her attitude towards the training did a 180.  Nothing that she was being given to do was any harder than anything Anna ever gave her to do - in fact, some of it might have been harder.  But her attitude towards her trainer (my new boyfriend, Dolvett) was completely different.  In the end, she lost 7 lbs., which I believe is her largest weight loss to date.  The only thing that changed was her attitude.

Needless to say with my upcoming challenge which starts on Monday, I've been thinking a lot about that. As I said before there are some aspects of this challenge that indeed are going to be a true challenge for me.  I've spent a day or so having the hissy fit Mr. Helen thought I would but I think I'm mostly over it.  Come back Monday for a play-by-play and honest opinions.  In the meantime, I think I will spend the weekend working on my attitude as well as my meal plans. I want to have the best results possible, after all.

Attitude matters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life is Shorter than You Think

Over the last week or so I've been thinking a lot about how time seems to fly by as you age.  While my favorite times of year - summer, early fall, go by in a blink, winter and spring drag on and it should even out.  But it doesn't and each year seems shorter than the 365 days alloted.

Yesterday morning, I was sitting at my desk when I recieved a phone call that made time stop but also reminded me that our days are numbered and life is short.

My brother-in-law, David passed away unexpectedly.  David, as you remember was married to Pam, Mr. Helen's sister who died last June.  He was only 56 years old.  We don't have many details yet, only that some sort of fall was involved, that he some how got to the hospital and died there. He was making plans to come back to Connecticut because literally all of his family - his only sister and only cousin, as well as most of  us - his in-laws, live here.  I can only hold on to the belief that he is at peace and reunited with his beloved Pammy, as he called her.

Taken in 2008 at their 25th Wedding Anniversary party.

Thank you David for your presence in our lives.  Thank you for being such a great uncle to Little Helen... for taking her out for dinner every single time you went to Washington DC on business.  For calling her weekly to make sure she was OK.  I'm sorry you were alone but I hope you know how much you were loved. 

Rest in peace with Pammy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  I can't believe that three weeks from Thursday, it's THANKSGIVING.  I haven't even begun to plan for that.  Where did 2011 go?  I am beginning to believe that time really does pass by faster as you get older.  Not sure I like it though.

9.  I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving because Little Helen will be home!  We haven't seen her since last December. 

8.  Last Saturday, Mr. Helen was once again willing to show that I won the football picks that week.

7.  Here's my meal:  Penne pasta with grilled chicken in a pesto alfredo.  It was soooooo good.  You know what else I loved?  It was at max a cup and a half of pasta.  Along with the bread and flavored olive oil that was served with it, there was plenty of food.  Supposedly since we were taking advantage of the restaurant week deal and lunch was 'only' $10.11 for appetizer or dessert plus an entree, the portions were downsized.  I thought it was perfect! I wish more restaurants would lower their prices and serve smaller portions!



6. I was so excited to find this item at BJ's.  It's our very favorite cheese that we only find in St. Martin as it's a French cheese.  I didn't even care how much it cost (in fact I didn't even look), it felt like I was bringing St. Martin home.

5.  We've been talking and dreaming a lot about St. Martin lately, I think because of the freak October cold and snow. Trying to generate warmth through warm thoughts, you know.  My part of the state only had a dusting and we never lost power.  Just forty-five minutes drive north or north west of me there are towns with 100% power outage and a FOOT of snow!  It has been in the twenties at night.

4.  Last night at our celebaration of the 25th anniversary of our first date, we went to Mystic to take advantage of the restaurant week deals - $20.11 for an appetizer, main course and dessert.  Appropriate also because our first date started in Mystic.  Towards the end of our meal, a couple was seated at the table next to us and we started chatting.  They had come to Mystic and checked into a hotel because they had no power and no water since they have a well.  Their power isn't expected to be on until the end of this week. Again, it has been in the twenties at night.

3.  Dinner was delicious:  I had a mixed salad, hangar steak that was served with spinach - yum! - and mashed potatoes but I swapped Mr. Helen for some of his risotto, with pumpkin bread pudding for dessert.  (Mr. Helen had spring rolls, duck breast with risotto and bread pudding).  Again, smaller portions but plenty of food.


2.  All of the food related socialization over the last couple of weeks got us to talking about food and what sort of role it plays for us individually.  He very much enjoys good food - but it really is so much more of a basic I'm hungry my body needs fuel so I'll eat thing with him.  I thought it was hilarious when Mr. Helen said, "This new challenge thingy you're doing?  I hope they don't restrict you because if there's one thing I know about you is that someone telling you that "You Can't" makes you stomp your foot and tantrum like a 2 year old." Actually I think he's afraid my foot stomping is going to destroy his peace lol!  He knows me pretty well after all these years.

1.  Ironically when we got home, I had received some preliminary information about the challenge and, well, it looks like it really is going to be a challenge for me.  But I'm trying to keep a few things in mind.  Stay tuned.