Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Ten

10. Do you think it's weird that I am more motivated by a shopping date I set in April with my shopping friends than I am by my vacation date?  I am SO MOTIVATED by that shopping date.  The thought of trying on fun, smaller clothing just appeals to me.

9.  Speaking of shopping, I had to buy a couple pairs of slacks.  There is a Gloria Vanderbilt style that I really like for work and believe it or not, I can only find it at BJ's.   Last Friday I'm in BJ's and check the aisle and find one brown and one grey in my new size so I grab them.  Monday morning I go to put on a pair of the slacks and there are some hard plastic-feeling tags on the side digging in to me so I take them off to cut them out.  Why I actually looked at the tags I don't know because I never have before.  Take a look at the style name of these slacks - you literally have to see it to believe it.  No wonder they fit me so well!

8.  Ahem.  Totally rocking my running mileage in 2012.  I logged 106.16 miles in January.  Yes, I'm counting the .16!

7. Remember me mentioning that the color I chose for my holiday party mani-pedi was Purpleopolis, a discontinued OPI color?  Katie J, who was my first blog follower, read that and went online to see if she could find the color.  She did and look what arrived at my house last week!

6.  So my doctor walks through the door into the exam room, takes one look at me and exclaims, "Oh my goodness!  Did Cynthia weigh you?  How much weight have you lost?!!"  Then she looked at my chart and told me I'd lost 20 pounds since my last weight.

5.  Then she said that it was probably more like 23 since my previous weigh in had been at an 8 am appointment and this one was at 4 in the afternoon and she was sure I was carrying hydration and food...."You did eat today didn't you?" That question struck my funny bone and I sat there giggling.  I told her that was OK, I'd take the 20. Then she said, "I'm sorry I just can't get over this. I don't know if I've ever had a patient who so completely took charge the way you have.  Did I tell you that you don't even look like you weigh what your actual number is?  You look so strong and muscular and athletic."   Then she asked me a bunch of questions about the Zero Scale. She thinks it might help motivate some of her other patients.

4.  Then she began to question my new way of eating and told me that 'somehow' I'd managed to raise my good cholesterol by 13 points and lower my bad cholesterol by 8 points.  Plus my blood pressure was spectacular.

3.  Then she told me that not only had I turned around my weight and cholesterol but that my thyroid had gone from completely hypothyroid to borderline hyperthyroid.  It has never ever gone that low in the 6 1/2 years we've been working on it.  Adjustments are now being made.  First time ever I'll be taking less thyroid medication.

2.  Then she told me that I had 'somehow' managed to drop my fasting insulin level by 4 whole points so NO METFORMIN and to keep up the good work and she'll see me in May.

1.  Then I told her, "That appointment will be after my anniversary trip so I'll be skinny and happy and tan - prepare to be dazzled!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Missed it by Four-Tenths and I'm Outing Shelley

Warning: this post is a bit wordy as I brain dump and try to work some things through.

I appreciate all the love ya'll gave me on Shelley's post about me being her personal Dolvett aka Dolvelen.  But here's the real truth to our Best Internet Friendship (BIF):  while we are very much alike in many ways - actually in most ways, we are quite different when it comes to food and exercise.

Shelley has often described herself as 'lazy' to me when it comes to exercise.  While she loves it and what it does for her body, she finds it quite easy to set aside and actually get out of the habit of doing.  I have actually been called Crazy Running Woman, Exercise Queen, and the not quite accurate Athletic.

I have a love for food that I am not sure there are words to describe accurately.  I love everything about it:  the aromas, the textures, the nutrition and the sensual pleasure of it.  I love to work with it and create fabulous meals.  Cooking is something I do for stress release.  I literally run for food.  Shelley, whose husband travels a lot, could eat Fage with granola on it three times a day with a couple hard boiled eggs thrown in for good measure, for weeks on end and not. even. blink.  Whaaaaaat?

In other words, we complement each other in our areas of weakness - a true case of opposites attract - perfect healthy lifestyle BIFs!

So while I may be Dolvelen, when it comes to me and eating and dieting, innocent little Shelley turns into Jillian Shellian. More explanation to follow.

Today is the day I have my big doctor's appointment.  The ONE.  The one I've been dreading and looking forward to all at the same time.  I'm not exactly sure that 4:10 eastern standard time can get here fast enough.  At the same time, I'm frustrated with myself.  When I started the Zero Excuses challenge back in November (remember Shellian is the one who said I should do it - insisted I do it!), I had an unspoken mini goal of 20 pounds lost by this appointment... and I did not make it.  Here's my latest weigh-in (and yes I realize I haven't been feeling well but that's not acceptable as an excuse!):

Side note: Mr. Helen was sweet enough to point out that by the time I'm weighed on the doctor's scale, it may in fact be 20 lbs. He also thinks that since I'll find out my real weight, I should consider the weight loss from when I last found out my real weight.  As he pointed out I was so freaked out by that weight I may have lost some prior to the Zero Excuses Challenge starting.  

While I continue to practice the Zero Excuses life I started back in November, there is an explanation for why I didn't make the 20.  I chose not to weigh myself on December 31st.  I knew from the sheer volume of wine I'd had between Christmas Eve and that day,  it probably would not be pretty.  Not that I drank excessively, but two glasses  of wine every couple of days when I hadn't been partaking much at all would definitely show.  Not to mention all the extra food goodies involved in the family gatherings. That week between Christmas and New Year's was such an aberration from my usual life I decided to treat it like a vacation week and skip the weigh in.

As is demonstrated in the photos above, with the Zero Scale when you weigh yourself, you get your loss from the last time you weighed and you get your total lost.  When those numbers popped up on my January 7th weigh in, I ended up at exactly the same point I was on December 24th.  I gained and lost the same 1.8 lbs during that two weeks.  My next weigh-ins were losses of 1.6 on January 14, .6 on January 21 and 2.6 on January 28.

I've always felt January to be a sluggish month and it showed in my weight loss as well.  4.8 lbs. in a month is nothing to sneeze at but is still only about half the amount I was losing prior. I'm sure I know why.

I know that hard-core Paleo is not how I want to eat forever.  I've been doing some research and found that there are different variations of Paleo out there.  I started adding some reduced fat cheeses and went back to using some real reduced fat milks (aka Lacto-Paleo).  I also added in some beans and an occasional serving of brown rice (Beano-Paleo?  Graino-Paleo?).  Honestly that's very close the the low-glycemic eating where I think I'll end up.  I suppose I knew my weight loss would change with that, still it's weird to see it happen.

Thoughts about it all have been running non-stop through my head for the last couple of weeks... and then I booked our anniversary trip. Suddenly I was presented with a hard-core date of when I'll be on a beach in a bathing suit. It doesn't seem that far off.  Now my pea brain was screaming "diet hard? or lose slower?"  over and over. Frustrating.

In the course of our daily communications Shelley and I conversed about all this.  I won't repeat it all here but suffice it to say, Shelley 'listened' to everything I said which basically was "I need to learn how to eat the things I'll eat in maintenance.  I don't WANT to diet!"  With no warning, Shellian appeared and said:

"Will you be able to live with WL slowing drastically?  Especially since you just booked your trip to the beach?  What about cycling 3 weeks dieting and one week maintenance?  That would get you there and keep your body confused enough to keep losing."

Gah!  Does the woman have to be so logical?  Does she have to show me I can have my cake and eat it too? Doesn't she know how much I love food?  (Of course she does which is why she responded that way.)

So now unless I do something like that I'll have Shellian on my shoulder holding a bikini and haunting me with her nonchalant food attitude.  Not to mention that I really should listen to my BIF, who has lost 100 pounds and maintained that.  She probably knows something about eating and losing weight.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Weeks Worth of Random

I woke up in the middle of the night Monday-Tuesday with a raging sore throat.  It was so bad it felt like I was swallowing razor blades.  Once I was up Tuesday morning, it started feeling like my tonsils were going to shut my throat down.  Every swallow was agony.  I called my doctor and of course, they wanted me to come in but I begged hard not to have to do that and asked for a prescription.  Thankfully I have an eight year relationship with my doc and she did that for me.  Have to say that even with the antibiotics I've felt off all week.  But, of course, against advice I received, I didn't rest and as usual I pushed myself to do it all - get to work, get my workouts in, etc.  My eating has definitely been off - I've either been really hungry or not hungry at all.  Should make for an interesting weigh-in tomorrow.  Have to admit, I'm tired and looking forward to the weekend, although I don't know if there's any rest there either.


For the second year, I am going to take part in Lori's Bloggers' Heart Healthy Weekend.  When she posted about it and I clicked the link for last year, I had completely forgotten I ran 10 miles.  That is how far away I've gotten from distance.  Not sure I can be back to a 10 miler by Feb. 10-12 but in any case I'll be participating and running.  You can do any movement you want so I hope there are lots of bloggers who take part.


True conversation between Mr. Helen and me this week:

Mr.: What size are you wearing now in case I want to buy you something for your birthday?

H.: Well, I'm wearing what I call large 10s and small 12s.  Mostly because my midlife middle hasn't let me leave 12 completely behind.

Mr.: Does this mean when I go to look for sizes I look for 10L or 12S

H: No there is no such thing, it's just the way they make women's clothing.  Just buy me a 10 since I'm pretty much there.  Otherwise I'll end up with pants that are too long or too big and too short.

Mr. I don't understand women's sizing at all!  Why can't they just be like men's?  I wear a 33x32 pants and if I buy 33x32 they fit!

H.: I don't understand either babe, it's one of life's great mysteries...


My two favorite salads I had this past week, both spinach based - a nice change from lettuce.  One is an old standby, the other was an idea I got from, where else?  Pinterest.  The Pinterest one called for candied Pecans but I felt I didn't need that sugar so I just pan toasted them. The dressing was supposed to be a raspberry vinaigrette which I don't care for so I used Annie's Naturals Lite Poppy Seed.  I don't think I missed a thing, this salad was delicious.

3 cups spinach leaves, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/4 cup reduced fat Feta cheese, 3/4 oz. chopped toasted pecans.  

3 cups spinach leaves, 1 medium carrot julienned, 1/3 cup chopped Granny Smith apple, 2 heaping tablespoons dried cranberries, 1/4 cup gorgonzola crumbles again with the lite poppy seed dressing.  


Running on the treadmill and watching The Biggest Loser. Got to laughing so hard I had to hold on for a minute. "Get your hands off my treadmill!" Ghosts of Dolvett...

Dolvett goes to visit the brother/sister duo who have the chance to earn their way on to the ranch next week if they've lost 50 lbs. on their own, at home.  When he arrives the sister says something like "Oh Lord Jesus I don't know how I'm going to be able to concentrate on working out with this fine man standing here."  Uh-huh, I feel ya sister!

Then I got serious as I watched  Dolvett work with another contestant who was giving him a lot of lip.  Finally he looks at the camera and says, "What is this?  Talk Back to Dolvett hour?  I don't need lip service, I need movement!" (And let me just editorialize that I LOVE that he kicked her out of his gym!)  That got me to thinking how true that is for all of us.  

Too often we just pay lip service to our diet and exercise plans when what we really need to do is move on them.  No excuses.

What movement will you work on over the weekend?  Will you plan meals?  Will you commit to regular exercise - or even up the ante?   For me one thing is going to be working at getting back my Saturday 10 mile runs.  Saturday run used to be my favorite run of the week.  I want that back..

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Have Your Protein and Eat it Too - Without Meat!

I had to put my weekly grocery shopping trip off to Sunday because of Saturday's snow.  It actually turned out just fine and the grocery store was quieter than usual - probably because folks had panic shopped on Friday evening.

As usual I came home, put the groceries away and started working on some items to be eaten this week.  For the first time in a while, I did not roast carrots or make a soup because I had leftovers and soups in the freezer.  

Some weeks I am just stumped and I'm often faced with the dilemma that if I want to make things I really like, I have to cook twice as much because Mr. Helen can be a stick in the mud sometimes is hesitant about fully committing to new things.  It's ironic because he really is a good, adventurous eater.  But the man likes his meat so meatless meals are not his thing at all, whereas I'm fine with it.

His favorite football team, the New York Giants, was playing in the NFC Championship and the game was starting just about the time he got home from work so I knew it would be no use in trying to get him to sit at the dinner table.  While it wasn't quite traditional football food, it was food that was easy to eat sitting in front of a TV:  Salmon cakes, coleslaw and french fries.  I also made a big pan of Chicken Tetrazzini for him to eat during the upcoming week.

As much as I don't mind certain types of fish, I am so not fond of salmon so I took this as an opportunity to make myself something that I didn't think he'd eat.  Seemed like a perfect chance to make yet another thing I'd pinned on Pinterest.

For those of you who cook, have you ever looked at a recipe and thought that the proportions of ingredients just didn't seem right?  That's exactly what happened with this recipe!  But, I usually try to make things just the way they're written the first time so I forged ahead.  Unfortunately, I was correct, something was very wrong, but with my mad cooking skillz, I was able to course-correct and the end result was fabulous.

Herewith are Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers based on a recipe I saw at Natalie's Killer Cuisine.

The first thing you have to do is roast the peppers.  I cut the tops off and cleaned them out then put them in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Then I turned the broiler on and broiled them turning them every minute so that the skin would char and blister. Then set them aside to cool.

Try not to look at my "well-seasoned" pan, concentrate on the awesome roasted peppers...

Then you make the Mexican Quinoa Stuffing and fill the peppers. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the stuffing alone because I got distracted by the fact that it was the stuffing that was out of proportion, and that was after I changed the ratios. The original recipe just called for too much stuffing for two peppers and I had reduced the amounts! I still ended up having to go back and roast another pepper. Once I had the peppers filled, I put them on a plate and stuck them in the fridge.  When it was time to eat, I baked one pepper in the oven at 350 degrees so that the filling would be warm and creamy.

These were so good!  The original recipe said to serve with an avocado cream but I forgot about that and in the end, didn't even need it.  I actually like this stuffing way more than a rice based stuffing and this recipe - or my version of it - is getting a permanent place in the favorites cookbook.  Not to mention that this dish is vegetarian, if you're so inclined, and I'm sure there are acceptable substitutes for the dairy that a vegan could figure out.  Definitely worth making!

My pepper drizzled with some Cholula Hot Sauce

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers  
(Makes 4 large peppers)

4 large bell peppers
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar or reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (use black pepper or dried chipotle or red pepper flakes - whatever you like)

Cut tops off bell peppers (you can use any color pepper you want). Clean and put on cookie sheet cut side down(put tops as well) and cook at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Turn on broiler and roast the peppers until they are charred.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Put quinoa and all the other ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Stuff each pepper with 1/4 of the mixture.

Bake in a 350 degree oven to warm the stuffing and melt the cheese.

4 servings - 1 stuffed pepper per serving, 259 calories, 6.3g fat, 38.8g carbohydrate, 6.6g fiber, 12.3 g protein.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Party Like A Rock Star

The company holiday party was held on Saturday as it is every year - the third Saturday in January.  It actually is nice to have the party after the craziness of the Thanksgiving to New Year's time frame, not to mention that it gets one out of the house for a nice evening during dreary January.

But more often than not, it snows.  Last year I think we'd had so much snow by party night that we weren't even thinking about it.  This year, the first big snowstorm of the winter season started in the early morning hours party night... and it snowed all day. We ended up getting record snowfall (for the date) because the storm decided to hug the coast where I live.  Poor Mr. Helen started blowing snow at 9 am and didn't finish until 4 pm.  He did our driveway, then went next door to our single neighbor, then up to the elderly couple, then to his dad's.  By the time he got back to our driveway, another 3-4 inches had fallen and it was 3:00 and I was panicking because we needed to leave for the party a bit earlier than we normally would have. My panic drove me out to the driveway with a shovel. .  Believe me, it wasn't the afternoon I'd been expecting.

In the midst of all this, while I was trying to stay really Zen, the hairdresser called and cancelled my hair appointment.  I had a feeling that might happen and had lined up a friend who said they could do something for me but when I called, they had gone skiing.   GAH! Stupid snow.

That meant instead of having my hair done and being able to just slowly sip a glass of wine and take two hours to get ready for the party, those last few hours ended up being a blur of shoveling and me cussing the snow.  Followed by me desperately trying to get my hair into some sort of updo.  It was bad people and the only thing that calmed me down was texts from a friend who saw my Facebook update in which I blasted the snow. Honestly, by the time we walked out the house, I was patting myself down to make sure that I had my underwear on, it was just that crazy!

Mr. Helen was sort of grumpy and I guess I would be too if I'd blown snow for 7 hours, so he wasn't super cooperative about taking photos of me prior to us leaving.  Thank goodness, I had a back-up plan... Tall Friend's cute boyfriend who would come to the rescue at the venue.  In the meantime, I tried to take some accessory shots on my own.

The drive that should have taken around 35 minutes, took an hour but we arrived in one piece thanks to Mr. Helen's Bluebelle and her 4WD.  I arrived in style in my gorgeous dress.... and snow boots.  When you see my shoes, you'll know why I didn't want to risk getting anything on them!  I don't have a boot photo but everyone in the check-in area got a kick out of it.

After we were there and I finally got my martini!! I settled down and we really had a great time.  Discussing it on the way home we decided for all the pre-party discombobulation it was one of the funnest we can remember.

Alright already, I know you are dying to see the photos so without further ado, here they are!

No closeup of my hair.  I did manage to get it up but it really didn't look as pretty as I'd pictured in my mind.  But I needed it up to show the gorgeous neckline of the dress and my beautiful earrings.

The other accompaniments.  My bracelets and the beautiful ring on my finger is the black diamond ring Mr. Helen gave me for Christmas this year.

These shoes may be my favorite fancy shoes ever!  They are high, high heels and sparkly as get out - what's not to love?  I am sort of proud of these shots... on the left I was trying to show you how high the heels were and after I took the photo I noticed you can see my other foot on the floor.  I also love the shot of the shoes alone because you can see just the corner of my handbag on the right.  

Here's the one shot Mr. Helen took before we left.  I don't like how this dress photographs (or maybe it's me?) - it really does look so beautiful in person!  

A nice shot by the boyfriend (and you can tell how high my heels are... Mr. Helen is 5'11 and I'm 5'6 - I'm almost as tall as he is!)

Tiny Friend and her Mr. She has a corsage because she is a previous Employee of the Year.

Tall Friend and her Boy-Toy (we hope he'll be her Mr. we like him a lot!)

Three Shopping Friends - don't we look gorgeous?  I say we do!

The Boy-Toy said, "Work it ladies!" We have so much fun together.

A superb time was had by all.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Foto Finish Friday

It snowed a bit here last night.  There seemed to be a layer of slickness under the snow as it began to accumulate but I was home safe and warm, worrying a bit about Mr. Helen who was Sensei Mr. Helen and had not gotten home from the dojo.  As I sat on the sofa perusing Facebook and Blogger, I heard a thud.  Got up to look out the window and this is what I saw:

I live on a hill that gets steeper as you come down.  I don't understand why people try to go down the darn hill when it hasn't been sanded or plowed yet!  That's my neighbors retaining wall.  The car is stuck on a berm that's on the edge of the property and blocking our driveway.  Long story short, the guy walked away and the neighbor finally called the police.  They came, got Public Works to drive up the hill with a small plow/sander because the car was blocking the road and because the tow truck needed to get up the hill.  The guy did show up just before the towed him... but they wouldn't let him have the car because the plates were expired.  Adventures in living on a hill!


Here's a preview of my party manicure.  It's one of my favorite OPI colors that unfortunately has been discontinued.  Of course I had it in my stock!



Finally the most exciting development for me since November 7th.  Have a great weekend!

Size 10 Jeans!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Relatives and Recipes

Another sort of random post.  I don't seem to have many cohesive thoughts this week for some reason.  Maybe the winter weather that has finally settled in has frozen my train of thought.

 I just have to show you guys this little person and her friend Murphy.  This is my great-niece Emmeline Jane (she's a month old).  The first "great" on my side of the family, making my brother the first of us siblings to be a Grandpa.  I can't wait to meet her in person!


Did ya'll notice the new reply feature in Blogger comments?  I'll be using it.  If you ask me a question that I feel can be answered publicly, I'll reply right back in the comment thread.


In the what a difference a year makes train of thought, last year I was miserable getting ready for my Holiday Party (which is always held the 3rd Saturday in January).  Not only did I feel fat and out of shape but I actually was not feeling well physically as I was fighting my SI joint and who knows what internally.  Right at the last minute I found a dress that I thought was at least acceptable and I only bought it because it cost $30.  I didn't buy a thing to go with it or do anything else special.

This year, I feel fabulous.  I have a gorgeous dress, shoes, and accessories, I'm getting a manicure and pedicure and having my hair done.  There's something a lot to be said for feeling better physically and mentally!

The only concern I have at this point is the snow that is forecast for Saturday.  I'm not kidding when I tell you it always seems to snow on the day of the party and I find myself trying to negotiate salty sidewalks with high heels.  I've already made up my mind if this snow materializes, I am wearing my boots to the door of the party and changing.  The shoes I got to go with my dress this year are so fabulous there's no way I'm taking the chance of ruining them.


Debby, I hope you're not disappointed by this week's recipe round-up.  Since the two I wanted to share are already online, I decided just to link to them.

As I shared before, I have been making some sort of vegetable soup each week to compliment meals or to use as a snack.  Yes, I snack on vegetables - more often than fruit actually.  This week I went back to an old faithful, Roasted Zucchini Soup.  At 95 calories, 6g fat, 9g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2.6g protein per one cup serving this soup is a superstar!

A new recipe I tried this week came from the latest issue of Cooking Light:  Chicken Piccata.  This came out delicious!  If you don't want or like to use wine when cooking you could substitute more chicken broth.  Their serving suggestion was to pair this with root vegetables and mashed potatoes.  To make the meal somewhat Paleo, I skipped the potatoes and ate it with roasted carrots and roasted cabbage from Kayln's Kitchen - yet another new to me recipe.  The lemon flavor on the cabbage really complimented the chicken.  I do not have a photo because my cabbage did not stay together as well as Kayln's!  Oh well, it tasted yummy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Ten

10.  I was woken up at 1:30 this morning by a loud rumble.  At first I thought it was a thunderstorm because when I went to bed the temperatures had been rising away from the arctic numbers of the last few days.  Then, with horror, I realized it was the sound of snow plows!  I lay there for about an hour and finally got up to look out the window.  Yep, snow.  Went back to bed and finally fell back asleep around 3:15 only to have the alarm go off at 4.  Got up and it was raining on top of the snow.  Perfect for driving to work in ICE.

9.  I have officially gotten so many new recipes online lately that I decided to make myself a homemade cookbook.  I put tabs in a 3 ring binder and after printing the recipe out, I'm 3-hole punching it and putting it into it's appropriate category.

8. In the category of perspective, this morning as I got dressed I was again reminded that what at one time is painful can be joyful on the other side.  When I last wore the outfit I have on today I was frustrated as my weight was going up.  Today I'm happy because it fits again!  While I still have not looked at my 'real' number I am certain I weigh less than I did this time last year.  Maybe only by 7-8 lbs. but those pounds feel like a different person altogether.

7.  Went to get my blood drawn for the all important "deciding if I have to go on Metformin" results.  Because it was a fasting draw, I knew darn well I'd better be hydrated before I went as I've had issues in the past so I drank around 32 oz. of water prior to going.  Long story short,  the phlebotomist couldn't find my vein.  I was seeing double after the doubles I went through:  two different phlebotomists, two sticks and two digs in each arm, followed by two baby butterfly needles.  At one point the tech exclaimed, "Look at that, not even any water!"  Both arms were aching, throbbing to the wrists all day Saturday.  I have to go back tomorrow morning.  Wish me luck.

6.  I've already run over 50 miles the first two weeks of this year, putting me back in-line with my old 100 miles a month thing.  Let's see if I can keep it going or if some dumb injury derails me like several of them did last year.

5.  I have gone back to having Saturdays be an eat whatever I want day.  I know some people can't do that but I really don't have an issue doing this then getting right back to my regularly scheduled eating.  I tend to make excellent choices for breakfast and lunch and then splurge a bit at dinner.  This past Saturday my splurge was a bit of baked brie, 2 slices of homemade pizza, and a Chocolate Pecan Pie Bar. I'm just going to tell you straight up these are phenominal and if you don't feel like doing a whole pie, this is the way to go.  Mr. Helen said there were too many of them.  Uh, yeah. I had one and yet they are already half three-fourths gone.  That's all I'm saying.

4. Some of the things I've read on blogs lately have me wondering... do you feel as a blogger with followers that you should use discretion and be a good example? Or is it OK to let it all hang out so to speak.

3. I just got the renewal for my driver's license in the mail. Do you think I'm silly that I will wait until the last possible day to renew because I want my face to be as thin as possible in the photo?

2.  Mr. Helen has suddenly appropriated one of my kitchen drawers.  It's the drawer I use to put smaller kitchen doo-dads, like birthday candles, the rubber jar openers, the plastic scraper that you use on stoneware, my wine opener, biscuit cutters, stuff like that.  The other night I went to get something out of that drawer and couldn't find it for all the *&^%$ tools!  The baggy in this photo is filled with nuts and screws and hinges. Why???????

1.  For those who have asked, yes, I'm still losing weight and still using the fabulous Zero Scale. I'll check back in on all this at the beginning of February, after I see my doc and get the results of my bloodwork (if they can find my veins)!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Composing Blogs While I Run

As is known, I get up very early in the morning to exercise.  Usually by 4:20 a.m. I am sitting on my sofa, cup of coffee in hand, watching the news and maybe browsing Facebook or Pinterest.

Around 4:40 I get up and proceed to do whatever strength and core exercises are on the agenda for the day.  This takes anywhere from 20 minutes to half an hour.  Once finished, I take my Garmin outside, start it and then come back in to gear up for my run.

These dark and cold mornings the gearing up requires ear muffs, head lamp, gloves, jacket, and reflective vest, one 6 oz. bottle of water tucked into pocket, phone and keys.  Phew!

Once I take off on my run and get into a rhythm, I often find myself reflecting and composing blogs while I’m running.  Lots of my Tuesday Ten tidbits come when I’m running.

On Tuesday morning when I was out, I found myself thinking about Marisa’s comment on my Shopping Extravaganza post.  In part she said, “…And I hope your friend picked the red dress - she looks amazing in that, too!”

As a reminder, here are a couple of shots of her in it:

The reason I started thinking about this is because Tiny Friend DID NOT pick the red dress.  Tall Friend and I tried every which way but loose to get her to choose it as she really did look spectacular.  But her personal demons got to her.  That woman is an adult onset athlete (Triathlete, Adventure Racer, Boxing) who has taken her body from a size 14 to a size 4! She’s petite (5’2”) and just has the cutest figure.  But do you know she thought the dress was too ‘form fitting’ and made her butt and abdomen look huge?  We couldn’t convince her otherwise, so we helped her find a different dress because after all when you’re going to be wearing a formal dress you do need to feel comfortable and she just wasn’t.

That whole shopping day was really a revelation to me as I shopped alongside these two beautiful women.  Tall friend?  She has Marilyn Monroe’s figure.  She is so gorgeous and curvaceous… and yet so hard on herself at the same time.  I kept telling her I wished I had her height and her curves.  Same with Tiny Friend whose petiteness and defined arms would make my day.  WHY OH WHY DO I HAVE TO BE SO MEDIUM?!

Because I know I can be so hard on myself as to make myself miserable when I shop,  I made them promise to be honest but not to let me whine and spiral down into self-hatred.  They promised and as I said before were fantastic shopping companions.  As I picked myself apart, they were realistic about what worked and didn’t with my figure and in the end, I got a great dress.

On Sunday, probably fueled by my great dress, I finally decided I needed to do as Mr. Helen suggested and get rid of some of the baggy things I’ve been wearing.  I have another co-worker who is in the midst of weight-loss – 80 pounds so far and wants to lose another 20ish.  I texted her and asked her what size she is wearing right now and when she texted me back, it was the size of most of my baggy stuff.  I asked her if she wanted a bag of clothes that were just a few months old and she excitedly said yes, please, and thank you I am desperate for clothes.

So I packaged up the baggy stuff and took it to work on Monday.  She emailed me and said she was excited to get home and try things on.  Later that evening she texted me and said almost everything fit and the couple of things that didn’t she’d be wearing in a few more pounds. 

This made me reflect during my Tuesday morning run how some people’s agony (me buying my freak-out size) is another person’s victory.  Which brought me full circle to thinking about my shopping friends and how hard they were on themselves and how silly to be that way.  There's a lesson in that for me, for sure.

After all that reflection and thinking about blogging this I went off to work and around 10:00, my co-worker came to my office to show off her 'new' outfit.  
My co-worker showing off how baggy clothes have become victory clothes,
how joy can be found in a previously painful blouse and pair of pants.

Whatever torture you are putting yourself though, stop it right now and learn to love yourself more.  Treat yourself just like you would treat a co-worker or the friends you shop with.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recipe Roundup: Soup's On

I'm going to start a new "feature" on Doing A 180:  sharing a favorite recipe, maybe once a week.  All this Paleo/weight loss business has found me trying hard to be creative in the kitchen and I thought it would be nice to document that.

Mr. Helen claims to like soup but other than when I make it and put it in front of him as his meal, he never voluntarily goes back to have more.  So, even though I love soup I sometimes hesitate to make it.  Many of the recipes I've found just make so darn much even if I eat half of it I still have half a dozen containers of soup left to freeze.

I may have found the most perfect soup recipe ever.  Not only does it make just a few servings, but after making it I see that it could have many variations. I did end up making some changes to the original recipe but all for the good!

I originally found the recipe, where else?  On Pinterest.  The blogger who developed the recipe, Peas and Thank You actually cooked hers in a slow cooker but my crockpot was busy with some beef so I did mine stove top and it was ready in 30 minutes.  As it came together around 2:00 Sunday afternoon and I hadn't eaten lunch and it would be 5 or so hours until dinner, I ended up adding some shrimp to make it a complete meal.  Without the shrimp, it's just a great soup to pump up your veggies (I'm looking at you Kelly) - or perhaps you've been participating in Meatless Mondays?  Again, perfect for that.   I've been taking it to work to have with my salad.  Here is my version.

Coconut Curry Kale Soup
1 c. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 t. curry
2 1/2 c. vegetable broth

2 medium carrots, sliced
One 14 oz. can light coconut milk
One 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, with juices
One 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups torn kale
1 tsp. sea salt

Pepper to taste
Olive Oil cooking spray

Spray a 5-6 quart stockpot with olive oil cooking spray.  Heat over medium heat then add chopped onion and garlic. Saute onion and garlic for a couple of minutes then add remaining ingredients except kale.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add kale and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until kale is tender.  Season to taste and serve.

Serving Size: Makes 6 1-cup servings. Per serving: 97 calories, 4.5g fat, 13g carbs, 3.6g fiber, 3.4 g protein.

Variations:  I added the kale then portioned out one serving into a smaller sauce pan.  Then I added 6 large shrimp and cooked them with the kale. It changed the values to 210 calories, 6g fat, 13g carbs, 3.6g fiber and 27g protein.

If one didn't care for the middle eastern flavors of this soup (which I don't understand!) the spices could be changed to basil, oregano, etc. and the beans to cannellini to give it Italian flair.  You could also substitute spinach for the kale, etc.  In other words, so many possibilities!

This one is definitely a keeper!
(Shelley & Kyle,  just try to imagine it without the shrimp...)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shopping Extravaganza

My two co-workers (who I consider friends because we socialize outside of work) and I put aside last Saturday to go shopping for dresses for our work holiday party which is always held in January.  If you saw the 3 of us, we are quite the motley crew because we literally are small, medium and large when it comes to height.  While one of the women is 2 years younger than me,  the other is the same age as Little Helen. You wouldn't think that she would even want to hang out with us, but she does and we enjoy her too.  We also could not be more differently shaped, which I knew would make this shopping trip interesting and fun.

The only problem with going to a mall that has so many stores, is, well, so many stores.  There's just not enough time to get through 170+ stores even if you are there all day.  Even if you eliminate the stores that have no appeal, there are still too many stores.  But we gave it the college try.

We took off Saturday morning at 9 am because we wanted to be there at 10 am sharp when the mall opened.  Little did we know that it would be 8 1/2 hours later (and $20 for parking!) that we would be leaving exhausted but happy.

Because we pretty much knew that we would probably get our party dresses at Macy's we started there.  We were almost the first people in the women's dress area and it worked to our advantage.  Tiny Friend immediately went bombing through the racks and had about a dozen dresses in her arms within in 10 minutes.  One of the ladies working the dress area asked her if she'd like a dressing room and told her only 6 garments at a time.  Tiny Friend replied that she was here with "those two" (pointing) and wanted to wait.  The lady then replied, "Well, let me give you the big dressing room and all three of you can go in together."  It really worked out fabulous.

I had taken my camera because I wanted to have photos for this blog, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and from now on when I'm doing serious shopping, I will take it with me.  You ask why?  Because I took photos of us in our dresses and we were able to see ourselves from a completely different perspective and noticed things we would not have had we just been looking in the mirror.  It was a great tool!

Here is my starting pile.  Would I find the magical dress in this mess?

I tried and I tried and I tried... and I went and got more dresses and tried...

 Tall Friend took this photo of me and Little Friend and she got hysterical over my knee highs.  She was laughing and begging me to take them off - said she couldn't concentrate on the photo or the dresses.

Tiny Friend and I are nearly the same age - and we kept picking the same dresses! We both loved this throwback Jackie-O style dress but couldn't justify the $185 price tag.

Believe it or not, we found a dress that all three of us liked and tried on!  Again, couldn't justify the $175 price... but if I had the money I would have bought it for Tall Friend.  She look more gorgeous than this photo shows.

With the multiple trips back and forth to the dressing room, Macy's alone took us 3 hours just for the dresses!  We needed to refuel for power shopping decided to take a break and go to lunch. We had about 8 restaurant choices plus the mall food court but ultimately chose the Cheesecake Factory.  Did you know they have a new 'Skinnylicious' menu?  We didn't order off it because all three of us consider Saturday our splurge day, but still it's there.

Fried Macaroni Balls that we shared as an appetizer.  Oh my goodness, delicious! Not the best but not so bad when you share and we sent the 4th ball to Tiny Friend's son.

The Cobb Salad - lunch portion which is still huge!

After lunch we went back into the mall to look at everything we could cram in and to find accessories for our dresses.  Tiny Friend and I left the mall decked out but Tall Friend did not buy anything at all, because she just couldn't find what she liked and she had ordered a dress that she thinks (and hopes) she will love.  However, Tall Friend was a super big help and actually ended up picking out Tiny Friend's dress and my accessories and shoes.  She's another tool I need to take on serious shopping expeditions. Purchases ultimately didn't matter because it was a day filled with fun, laughter, and lunch!  Honestly, there's nothing like having a day with other women who like you just the way you are - who encourage you and root for you, and are proud to be with you - and vice-versa.  Truly a wonderful day.

If you're wondering which dress I bought? That will have to wait until I'm ready to debut it for the party!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Week One Done!

Can you believe almost a full week of 2012 is gone already?  How did you find yourself doing with the resolutions/goals/promises you made?

For me it was a pretty good week of getting, and staying, back on track with eating and exercise. Not perfect mind you (a couple chocolate covered cherries come to mind...) but good nonetheless.  I restarted the Zero Excuses exercise program using heavier weights and I have to admit, after the break I took,  I was sore after the very first day. If you don't think you'd be sore, try doing 5 one minute planks after not doing them for over a week.  I guarantee you'll feel your abs the next day!  I also went into hard Paleo mode, which I am going to maintain at least for a couple of weeks. Lori's Banana Bread Breakfast Pudding (that I make with 3 egg whites instead of 2 to pump up the protein as I don't top mine with anything)  has been my go-to breakfast this week.  It's so warm and comforting with the cold weather we've had.  Interestingly, I noticed that the minute I cut carbohydrates back, my running pace was affected.  Not sure how I'm going to reconcile that.  I also have to admit by Wednesday pretty much the only thought going though my head was, Sore, Hungry, Tired... it's what you get for having a week of fun.  By today I was almost weeping with tiredness and soreness when I got up to work out but I know it will be better by next week.


I know I have mentioned before that Mr. Helen doesn't really struggle with his weight. This sometimes makes it hard for him to understand my struggle although in the past few years as I've had the thyroid and insulin issues develop, he has tried.  Honestly, in the entire time we've been together, he's never changed sizes except to go down a size in his slacks when he started martial arts 10 years ago.  He's been a 33 waist ever since.  So you can imagine my huge surprise when he turned to me at some point during the week between Christmas and New Year's and said, "Even I'm looking forward to January 2nd.  Since the Black Belt Show, I haven't done much of anything except eat all the goodies that seemed to be out every day at work and uhhhhhh, I'm feeling it my pants."  I'm afraid 'I' wasn't very supportive at first as my first reaction was to actually guffaw with laughter.  (Sorry, honey). Of course in a week or two I'll still be working hard and he'll be back to having some room in his pants and I'll be totally disgusted.  But for now, I feel a bit of satisfaction that maybe he'll have more empathy when I'm frustrated.


Maybe the reason Sensei Mr. Helen's Muay Thai class was spectacular on Thursday night is because of the above-mentioned tight pants.  Believe it or not, just like your gyms, our dojo has been packed this week.  I've seen people that I haven't seen in months.  I think the class last night had 40 people in it.  The room is not huge so that number is challenging for the sensei.  What I loved was that he kept us going just enough that I felt really worked out but not overwhelmed.  What I did not love is that when he was making us do some particularly hard drills he kept yelling, "BYE, BYE CHRISTMAS PIE!"  Just kidding.  It was sort of funny actually.


My favorite recipe this past week did not come from Pinterest, believe it or not.  Rather it came about because of a photo a vegetarian friend posted on Facebook.  It looked so good I knew I'd have to try it: Avocado and Grapefruit Salad from Ina Garten.  Such a nice change from a green salad... and it's Paleo!  This is definitely going into my rotation.  Kristen, not sure if you like avocado but I know you love citrus.  You should give this a try!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tuesday Ten on Thursday

10.  Tuesday, all day, the temperature dropped and dropped and the wind picked up.  Wednesday morning when I got up to have coffee and check the weather before my run, it was 11 degrees and -2 degrees wind chill.  Hmmmmm.  No thanks.  Especially not when combined with darkness.  So, I took my boyfriends, Bob and Dolvett, and went out to the treadmill where I did a one hour run in my balmy, 20 degree garage.

9.  Believe it or not, I am generally warm and have a hard time wearing full boots because my legs get sweaty!  With that temperature drop I decided to try a dress I haven't worn in almost two years and it fit!  Bonus, I got to wear my boots! (Crappy iPhone photo):

8.  Last Win = Best Win!  That's right, I won the football picks again this week.  I really wanted to win too because with that win, Mr. Helen and I split the season with the same number of wins each.

7. For the past few years, Mama Helen has given each of us the same Christmas gift, usually based on gender.  This year, I think she may have hit the jackpot as she bought all the ladies fleece vests.  When we started opening our gifts and realized what had happened, we HAD to pose for a photo, tags still on and all - because we were stylin'!

L-R: Little Helen, me, Sister Hannah, Sister-in-Law April, Sister-in-Law Katharine

6. Shelley and I are going to meet face to face this year, come hell or high water.  Even though we have not finalized anything yet, she knows it too, because she has begun making food requests in my comments.  I need to start keeping a list of all the things she wants.

5. Though it seems odd, we still haven't had any snow except that freak Halloween storm.  I'm fine with that.  I can handle the cold, even the bitter like we've had.  Snow causes all sorts of other complications that I can live without!

4. I am struggling with my clothing right now - not quite down another full size.  Here's an outfit I wore to work this week.  When I got home, Mr. Helen informed me that the whole thing is entirely too big and baggy.  That sort of made me sad because I love this boiled wool jacket. What say you?

3. Speaking of clothing, I'm going shopping to a big mall in Rhode Island to look for a holiday party dress.  Two of my friends from work are coming and we'll make a day of it.  I hope I can find something pretty, that fits (see #4).  Mr. Helen asked me why we were even bothering since all 3 of us would just come back with "another little black dress."  And that right there explains a fundamental difference between a man's brain and a woman's.  He thinks "another black dress" we think "200 stores!  Shopping!  Lunch!  200 stores!"

2. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I run/walk at a 2:1 ratio for two reasons.  One, I want to do intervals as my cardio and two, those are Muay Thai days and I like to try to save my legs a bit.  Since I've lost a bit of weight, I've seen my average pace on those go from an average of 13:15/mile to this morning's stellar 11:48. Same courses, same 5K distance.  Weight matters for exercise performance.

1.  The new season of the Biggest Loser has a theme: “No Excuses.”  How crazy and appropriate is that?  I guess it just rang a bell with me since I just got my mojo back using the Zero Excuses Challenge and Scale! My favorite quote from the first episode: "Make excuses or make a change."  I'm choosing change, how about you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good Eats

We are big fans of little plates - tapas - appetizers and that's what we decided to do for our stay at home New Year's Eve.  While you’d think that would be a lot easier than making a full blown meal, it’s not really if you make everything from scratch, which is how I roll.

As my Pinterest food board is the one with the most pins (no surprise there!) I went looking and actually ended up making four items that I'd pinned.  With three of them I didn’t really make any major changes to the recipe, so I’ll share the links for those later in this post.  The fourth one, Buffalo Chicken Bites, I made several changes to, based on what I had on hand and what sounded better to me. Biz, when I made this appetizer I thought of you because I know you love all things Buffaloed and all things Balls!

Buffalo Chicken Bites                     
(based on a recipe from www.sweetpeaskitchen.com)

18 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
4 oz. light cream cheese
1 ¾ cups reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped green onion (the green part)
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup dried seasoned bread crumbs

Put chicken breast in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes until cooked.  Remove from broth and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper then spray it with Olive Oil cooking spray
When chicken breasts are cool, either finely shred and dice a bit or put into a food processor and pulse a few times to shred the chicken.

In a large bowl, put the shredded chicken, hot sauce, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and green onion.  Mix until well combined (I used my hands).

Make an assembly line:  the bowl of chicken mixture, a clean plate or baking sheet, a shallow dish with the flour, a dish with the beaten eggs, a shallow dish with the panko and dried bread crumbs combined and the baking sheet.

Roll a heaping tablespoon or so into a 1-inch ball.  Place on plate and repeat with remaining mixture.
Dip each chicken ball into the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumb mixture.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Place them close together.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Makes 36 bites.

My family had shared appetizers on Christmas Eve so I made Southwest Egg Rolls, which are a knock-off recipe of the Chili's version. The recipe made more than I thought they'd eat, so I froze half a dozen of them prior to cooking.  Mr. Helen requested that I cook a couple of them for New Year's as he loved them.  I'm pretty sure these must be a lot less fat and calories as they are baked and not fried.  The only thing I changed was using my own recipe for a creamy guacamole as a dipping sauce rather than the one in the recipe.
My favorite appetizer was this Bacon, Cheddar, Ranch Pull Apart Bread. Maybe it was my favorite because I've been a bit bread starved with the Paleo style of eating... or maybe because it was superbly yummy! The only adjustment I made here was to use the small size Boule(and therefore adjusting the ratios of the other ingredients) since it was just for Mr. Helen and me. This was also the least work to make yet with fabulous results.  I suspect I'll be making/taking this to potlucks and events quite often.

Finally, I wanted to make us a little dessert and these individual Deep Dish Cookie Pies seemed like they would fit the bill.  The only change I made was to use dark chocolate chips in place of the milk chocolate chips as I'm a dark chocolate fan.  These are a dessert that I would serve to company, they are that good. 

I had mine with a dollop of ice cream, Mr. Helen had whipped cream.

The bonus with this dessert is that I had so much leftover cookie dough, I put it out on a cookie sheet just like I was going to make cookies and then froze the dough balls.  Once frozen, I scooped them up into a freezer bag.  Now Mr. Helen can bake a couple of cookies anytime he wants to!

As you can see, we really enjoyed our year-end indulgences.  All of these recipes will stay in the rotation and reappear on special occasions... after all not all eating has to be "diety" right?