Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paleo-No Faileo

Everyone needs to stop right now and go HERE.  Debbie has reached the 200 pounds lost mark without being on the Biggest Loser, without any sort of drastic measures.  Go - no run - and say congratulations to her!!

Shelley has her Sit and Knit diet, Lori came up with the Scrub and No Chub diet over the weekend so I was feeling the pressure to name my foodstyle.  Before I could really give it any thought, Lori came up with 

Paleo=No Faileo

Thanks Lori, I love it!

I shared how I was going to try to make some recipes from a couple of the newest Paleo blogs I'd found so I spent Sunday doing just that.

I don't know about others who follow a Paleo/Primal diet but for me it requires quite a bit of planning if I don't want to get completely bored with what I'm eating.  Sure it's easy enough to eat meat and vegetables, vegetables and meat, but I'm such a foodie I really like to have great things with exciting flavors.

When I make the Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta, I prepared all the components and packaged them up separately so I could make it one serving at a time.  It worked perfectly fine and I have been enjoying my fake "pasta" all week.

I decided to make the Cranberry Sweet Potato Breakfast Cakes on Sunday morning because it's a bit involved but I figured I could find a way to do it and have the ingredients ready so I could eat this again on one of my 3 workouts in 24 hours mornings.  The sweet potato cake combined with the egg are just about a perfect recovery food.

As I looked at the recipe, I realized it was too general for me.  Not that I don't cook on the fly but in order to know the nutritional makeup of the food I'm eating I need to be a bit more specific than the original recipe.   So I went at the recipe and weighed and measured and figured it all out - for me and for anyone else who wants to know.  Holy deliciousness is this recipe good!  Not only is it good for breakfast, but it would be good for any meal (I'm talking to you Shelley, instead of yogurt?).  Here's my version:

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cakes with Cranberries and Caramelized Onions
2 cups cooked sweet potato
    1/3 cup dried cranberries
    1 T dried parsley (or 2 T fresh)
    1/2 cup diced red onion (~1/2 a large onion)
    3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 tsp. sea salt
    3 egg whites, beaten
    6 whole eggs
    2 T olive oil (or coconut oil or bacon fat)
    1/2 large red onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 425. Take two large sweet potatoes (10 oz each), wash and prick with a fork. Put on a cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour until soft.

In a large bowl, scoop sweet potato out of skin and mash well. Stir in cranberries, parsley, diced red onion, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Whisk in beaten egg whites.

Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Turn oven down to 400.

Heat 2 T olive in a large non-stick skillet. Using a half cup measure, scoop a scant half cup into skillet, spreading a bit if necessary to make a crab cake shape. Skillet should fit at least 3 cakes. Fry 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Put finished cakes into prepared baking dish. Repeat with the other half of the potato mixture.

Make an indentation in the top of each cake and crack an egg into the indentation. Put dish in oven and bake for about 20 minutes (more or less) depending on how well done you want your eggs.

While cakes are baking, put the sliced red onion into your frying pan and cook until soft and golden.

When cakes are finished, top with the golden onions and serve.

6 Servings - Per Serving:
201 calories, 8.8g fat, 21.9g carbs, 3.3g fiber, 9.7g protein

Since I am the only one eating this sort of thing in my house (although if I could get Mr. Stubborn Helen to just TRY it I'm sure he'd love it), I needed to figure out how to make the recipe and be able to easily reheat during the week.

My solution was to prepare the cakes then put them on a cookie sheet.  I put the cookie sheet in the freezer, uncovered, until the cakes were frozen, then popped them into a freezer bag.  The caramelized onions are in a container in the fridge. This morning when I wanted this meal again, I took one cake out of the freezer and quickly microwave defrosted it.  Then I popped the whole shebang into the oven to cook the egg and heat the onions and it was every bit as good as when I made it on Sunday!

Success for me really is all about the planning!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brought to You by Social Networking

Last Wednesday I had a hell of a day.  I spent almost the entire day feeling hungry and wanting to eat.  It's a fairly easy issue to deal with when I'm at work because I eat what I bring and too bad if I stay hungry.  Though there is a vending machine, I refuse to pay $1 for a small bag of chips or a candy bar.  If I really wanted it, I would leave the office and drive the half mile to the CVS where I could get two candy bars for that same dollar.  Thankfully, I'm mostly too lazy to leave the office just for that.

By my lunchtime I was tired of feeling hungry and thought some distraction might help so I took a ride to TJ Maxx.  I've been on the hunt for a new Calphalon 8" skillet for a couple months and I finally scored!  I also bought that outfit for my Caribbean trip that's coming up the end of April. Interestingly enough, even though I walked through the aisle that has the gourmet foods, all I bought was some sea salt. Evidently I was distracted.

When I'm having a day like this, trouble waits for me once I get home.  To further intensify everything, on Wednesdays Mr. Helen is always occupied with our nephew for their weekly "man time."   So I was home alone and could have eaten anything I wanted in peace. (Secret eating anyone?)

Obviously I could have used more distraction but I already had my pajamas on so I wasn't motivated to get up and go out. I'm not one to jump into Blogger and do a short post about how I feel, although there's nothing wrong with that.  But I did get on Facebook and wrote this as my status:
I hate having hungry days. H-A-T-E them. I've eaten good healthy food in the proper portions all day but still I feel hungry.  I sit and think is it stomach hunger?  Is it emotional hungr?  What is it?  It just seems no matter what I do I'm hungry.  There's a distinct possibility that I will be in bed by 6:30 simply so that I don't eat.
That little status update ended up having 40+ comments before I actually did go to bed. Probably the most comments I've ever gotten on a status update. Definitely more comments than I've ever gotten on a blog post and I have more followers than FB friends. Interesting.

I was just venting, but I got advice anyway.  Most of what I got, I've used at one time or another and ran the gamut:

"Drink hot tea"
"Try knitting" (not from Shelley believe it or not!)
"Eat a little good protein"
"Chew on ice"

along with a couple of diatribes on food and menopause from one of Mr. Helen's classmates who is a teensy bit nutty and I think suggested I twirl around while eating seaweed or something like that - ah well we've all got at least one FB friend like that, right? Even my mother eventually jumped in (though as a separate post on my wall because she doesn't quite get FB yet) suggesting I brush my teeth and go to bed. As this was the next morning I filed that one away to use on Thursday if necessary....  I also got lots and lots and lots of empathy comments and offers of knitting needles and yarn LOL!

I think what astounded me most was whether it was advice being given or just empathy there are so many of us who deal with this.  Misery really does love company! Others would have no way of knowing, but I looked at those comments and realized that some women who commented, I consider to be "normal" eaters.  Women who have been at a good weight and are good exercisers for all the time I've known them.  Which basically screamed to me that it's not just those of us who are overweight or have food issues that go through this!  Somehow I found comfort in that.  Additionally, one of the commenters pointed out that it was only women who were responding - does this mean that when a man is hungry he eats?  Does this fall into that same category of women asking "Does this make me look fat... my thighs too big?" etc. whereas it wouldn't occur to most men to ever say anything like that.  Things to mull over and lessons to be learned, at least for me.

Very, very interesting indeed.  As one commenter said, " Please let me know when you have resolved this issue. "  I wish I had resolved it, but no.  I never did come to any sort of conclusion and sort of just used sheer willpower and thoughts of my butt in a bathing suit in 9 weeks not to eat another thing.

While I sat and waited for it to be time to go to bed, I found this on Pinterest (what would I do without all my social networking sites?!) and printed it out for my fridge and my desk.  I have my eyes on a prize and I want to stay focused.  Things like the comments on my FB status, this blog, my friends both in real life and virtual, and inspirational sayings help.  They help a great deal.

Bottom line is that 'I' am worth everything.  If I need to eat, I will.  If I don't, I suppose I'll continue to rely on the power of social networking and wait for the yarn and knitting needles to arrive at my house.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday High Five - and a Big Thumbs Down

I haven't had much to write about this week.  Lots of posts rumbling around in my head but nothing I've been able to flesh out.

Before I got to the High Five, I'm giving a BIG THUMBS DOWN to Blogger's new verification system.  Sometimes it has taken me typing in the combination of words 3-4 times before I get it right because they are so hard to read.  If I normally comment on your blog and I've stopped and you have that turned on, you know why...


 Last night after work I ran 3 miles outside with no jacket.  (Didn't have Muay Thai so I slept in yesterday morning - woot!) We hit record temperatures here yesterday.  This morning, woke up to a surprise snow storm.  Now I know how it must feel to live in Texas!  You wouldn't think that I, the queen of disgust when it comes to snow, would give today's weather a High Five but I am.  Well, not the weather.  I'm giving a High Five, with two snaps and a z-formation to Mother Nature who fooled every single weather person in Connecticut who all predicted snow.  You go girl!


I have been stuck like glue to my planned eating and exercise. (After the day I had on Wednesday - post coming Monday - that is definitely a mini miracle.)  I always feel better emotionally and physically when I do that. Sort of makes me wonder why I ever would deviate... High Five!

I've been toodling around looking for some new and refreshing recipe ideas to add to my Paleo repetoire and this week I found two websites that will result in some cooking this weekend.

The first is Multiply Delicious - The Food.  Honestly I haven't seen too many recipes for paleo style baked goods that appealed to me but the photo alone of her Paleo Pumpkin Streusel Muffins made my mouth water.  It would be nice to have something like this for breakfast once in a while instead of eggs.

As is often the case, one blogger leads to another and this one led me to paleOMG.  Love that name!  There's a recipe for Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta that immediately made me think of Shelley because it's made with spiralized zucchini.  The other recipe I'm going to try involves a sweet potato, which I eat usually on my third workout in 24 hours days. The Cranberry Sweet Potato Breakfast Cakes sound so good and I think as long as I get the base of the recipe prepped on the weekend it's something I could easily make while I get ready for work.

While I haven't actually made these recipes yet, they get a high five simply for the fact that it made me happy to find such delicious looking Paleo recipes that didn't require a bunch of weird ingredients! High Five - on the Downside - *Slap*

I purchased my first outfit for our 20th Anniversary trip to St. Martin!  The trip is weeks away but I found this at TJ Maxx and you know you can't walk away from things there because when you go back it might not be there.  What I really love about this is that it fits me now and in ten pounds it will still fit and look a bit better.  It's motivatingly hanging right where I can see it every single day.

Yes, I bought shoes too - what?  You didn't thing I would?
(and WHY do they put the size stickers on the top instead of the bottom - so annoying!)

Double Handed High Five!

Finally, here's some inspiration to get you through the weekend and its temptations.  If you think change is too far away to grasp or that it's taking too long, you need to read my friend Heather's story.  She's a mom of five children who has transformed herself over the past few years (notice I did not say 'months').  I've been bugging her to share it because I just know there are people in similar circumstances who need the encouragment.  If you met her right now (and wait until you see her current photo!), you'd never believe she once weighed 220 lbs.  Go ahead, go read it - you'll be high fiving me after you do!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli - Fantastic!

I found a Crockpot Beef and Broccoli recipe through Pinterest that I wanted to try and finally got around to it last weekend.  It was really yummy.  What made it work well for the Helen household was that I was able to just eat the beef and broccoli, thus staying Paleo, and Mr. Helen had his over rice. This recipe gets a spot in the notebook, with my changes, of course.  Since I made some changes in proportions to pump up the vegetables and seasonings, I'll share my version.

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

    2 medium onions, sliced
    4 cloves garlic chopped
    1 T toasted sesame oil
    1 1/2 lbs. top round cut into bite sized pieces
    8 oz. sliced mushrooms
    1 T roasted red chili paste
    1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
    1 tsp. ginger
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    2 cups beef broth
    24 oz. frozen broccoli florets
    2 T cornstarch
    1/4 cup water

In a non-stick skillet heat toasted sesame oil and stir in onions and garlic, sauteeing for a couple of minutes until clear. 

Pour onion mixture into a 5 quart crockpot. Add beef pieces, mushrooms, chili paste, soy sauce, ginger, black pepper and beef broth. Stir.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About an hour prior to end of cooking, in a small bowl, stir cornstarch and water together. Add into crockpot and stir in broccoli florets. Continue to cook an additional hour until thickened and broccoli is cooked.

Notes:  I like spicy stuff so I ended up stirring some chili garlic sauce into my bowl.  Mr. Helen who does not like things too spicy said he could have handled his a bit kicked up too so next time I'm going to add some crushed red pepper into the spice mix.  I considered using fresh broccoli but had frozen and went with that.  Honestly, because I did not overcook it, you'd never know it was frozen.  This recipe could easily be halved if you don't want as much.

Makes 8 servings about 1 1/2 cups per serving; 187 calories, 5.4g fat, 11g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 24.4g protein.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Straighten Up and Fly Right

I had the most wonderful walk/run on Saturday!  Ordinarily I wouldn't be happy walk/running 7 1/2 miles but this was the best I've had in a long while, because I got to walk/run with Pete!

Longtime readers will remember that Pete is my running mentor.  He taught me everything I know about running and we ran long runs together for 8 years.  He trained me for every marathon I did and you can only imagine the vast knowledge that I was the beneficiary of during many 20 mile training runs.  But in 2009 he told me he wouldn't run with me anymore stating that I had gotten good and fast and he didn't want to hold me back.  No matter what I said to him he wouldn't budge and so my Saturday runs with Pete ended.

I've mentioned him a couple of times here on Doing A 180 because I always kept track of him.  He had several races that he's been faithful to for years so I would always check to see if he had run. The last time I checked, he did our local half marathon in September of 2011 with a time of 2:58:32.  If you look this up there's an asterisk by his name because that finishing time is under the USATF guidelines.  Maybe that's puzzling to you until you realize that when Pete ran that race, he was 85 years old!

He turned 86 in December and I found out through the grapevine that he planned to do some racing this year.  So I began a campaign to get him to run with me once in a while.  He finally agreed to run with me in honor of Sherry Arnold - and then it snowed.  I was frustrated because I didn't know if I could get him to agree again and then at the end of the week, he emailed me.

So we met Saturday morning and by the end of our time together we had done 7 1/2 miles.  Yes, the pace was very slow for me but I didn't even care because I got to spend some time with my running mentor.  At the end he said, "Will you help me work up to 13.1? You can set your Garmin for intervals so we do better than today."  My heart melted because the roles have reversed and here is my teacher asking for my help.

Anyone who knows anything about running knows that it's all about putting in the miles and not about pace when it comes to long training runs.  Getting your legs used to turning over and over and over for hours.  It was Pete who taught me that.  Of course I'm going to do it - with joy!


Just when I think everything is under control, I get a reminder that I'm not all that after all.  Over the last couple of weeks I've had a myriad of things happen that individually would be just a bump in the road but piled on together created a derailment of sorts for me.

The result has been that I've spent February in maintenance - not because that's what I planned but because of the involved stress.  I've pretty much been losing a pound then gaining it back the next week.  Fine, I'm not going backwards, but honestly, not fine as I've still got a ways to go.

Additionally, right where I am at this moment is very much a danger zone for me... I feel terrific and I'm seeing the results of the work I've put in .  I've dropped two full sizes in clothes, my running paces are quicker and especially in the last two weeks people have been asking me what I'm doing because I'm looking great.

Right here is where it's easy to get lacksadaisical - just to let things ride.  But that's not what I really want and certainly not getting me towards the long-term goal I've had to be at "goal" (whatever that is) by the time I have to start my black belt cycles in July.

So today, I'm challenging myself.  For the next 12 days I'm doing what I'm calling the "Straighten Up and Fly Right" challenge.  Once again concentrating on eating and exercising for my best health and honestly, just saying no to some things I've been indulging in.  Why 12 days?  Well, that brings me right to my birthday and I already know what's going down that weekend.  Then, I have another plan which I'll tell you about later.  For now, I'm just going to straighten up and fly right!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday High Five

This week's edition of the Friday High Five: favorite feel good moments of the last week... or so.


I'm not kidding when I tell you that sometimes the biggest highlight of my week is getting a manicure.  I enjoy the pampering and even though my manicurist and I often spend the time talking up a storm, it's so relaxing.

High Five for a classic French Manicure!


Valentine's Day.  For years and years we did nothing more than exchange a card.  I was totally fine with that.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, in the last few years Mr. Helen has taken over Valentine's Day and turned it into a date night.  You won't hear me complain!

It was a great evening with cards, balloon, dinner made by him and cupcakes!  We opened one of our more expensive bottles of wine, sat at the table and ate dinner, and talked while romantic music played in the background. High Five to eating at the table and talking!

Balloons shaped like flowers

I know he loves me because he roasted asparagus, which he hates!  I walked into the kitchen at one point and literally cracked up laughing at what I saw. See the demarcation line on the roasting pan?  

"The green beans and the asparagus must not touch!"

My Surf & Turf Dinner:  Filet Mignon, Baked Stuffed Shrimp, Roasted Asparagus

(Biz, I know you wanted a recipe for the baked stuffed shrimp but we have a fresh seafood market here that makes them so all we have to do is cook them.  We've tried making our own but their stuffing is amazing so now we always buy them premade.)

Dessert! I adore the hearts on the Red Velvet Cupcakes.  The others were Oreo cupcakes.

Each month I change the photos on one of the living room tables to reflect something in that month:  photos of us with our mothers in May for example.  Because it was Valentine's month I went with a couple of photos of us.  In trying to take a photo of the cards we exchanged, I also got in this candid shot that was taken some years ago at a party.   High Five!


Shelly has been bugging me suggesting that I start showing an occasional fashion shot as I am getting into smaller clothing.  So not my thing but I thought this outfit looked pretty cute and I have to admit it was one of the week's High Fives, so here you go Shelley.  It's a mix of new and old.  The sweater is one I picked up at TJ Maxx a few months ago.  Didn't fit me when I bought it but I knew it would sell out so I grabbed it anyway.  The slacks I've had for years and liked them so much I never did give them away.  I'd say the last time I was able to get these on was sometime in 2008.  So, hurray for new pieces that revitalize my old clothing making it new again!

Love the slit on the ankle of these pants


I thought my highest five of the last week was Feeling normal.  But then, the day I wore that outfit above, I walked into my house and Mr. Helen greeted me with, "Hello there skinny minny.  You make that sweater look pretty, is it new?" Oh yeah.

Great way to end the work week.  What was your high five?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

For a Minute, I Felt Normal

As a person who has been at both over and normal weights during my adult years, I know the struggle that takes place between the reality of what I actually look like and my brain's perception.  It's not only something that happens as I lose weight but also as I gain.  Even as my pants are getting tighter, it often takes my brain a while to catch up. In other words, no matter the reality, I have a hard time perceiving it for a while, whether going up or down. I'm fully aware of this but I'm not sure there is anything to be done about it except to wait it out and let the brain catch up.

When my mind is in "heavy" mode and I have to be present at events and in situations where there's a chance others may scrutinize me, my usual silent form of self defense is to quickly scan the room to make sure I'm not the heaviest one there.  Hopefully there is at least one other silent sufferer - and hopefully they are heavier than me.  At least then there is a chance that any scrutiny will land on them. At it's worst I am the heaviest and the room is full of beautiful people.  All I can do then is stand silently in a corner so that no attention is brought to my person.

In the ups and downs of my weight, especially over the last 10 years or so, I've also realized that it's rare that I'll even leave my house unless fully done up:  hair, makeup, nails, jewelry. I can't even say that it's tiring to be this way as I've done it for so many years it's automatic, although I know it's probably wearing on others who are waiting for me to get ready or watching my self-criticism.

Last Friday after we laid Mr. Helen's Aunt Gloria to rest, the immediate family gathered at her son's house. At this gathering I got to meet some of Mr. Helen's relatives who don't live in this area - fun to hear stories of their growing up years.

During the course of the afternoon I floated around from room to room at the house speaking with various friends and relatives. At one point I was leaning up against the kitchen sink and a young woman came over and started chatting with me.  It wasn't long before another cousin joined and then another and as women tend to do we went from topic to topic as we chatted.  I'm not sure exactly how we got on the subject of exercise (maybe due to the fact that we were in the kitchen where all the food was) but the next thing I knew I was talking about Muay Thai and running and finding out that one of the cousins likes to do sprint triathlons.  She then went on to explain that over the last 18 months she's lost 100 pounds and went from barely walking around the block to doing 3 sprint triathlons last summer.  I told her how much I admire people who tackle that event as I can't swim worth a darn.  Then she looked at me and said, "It's funny how you admire my triathlons and I would love to be able to run distance.  The thought of running more than 3-4 miles just does not compute in this former fat girl's head.  You probably don't understand that at all do you?"

My immediate reaction was "Oh of course I understand that, I can't swim."  but then when I saw the confused look on her face and the faces of those in the circle, suddenly a light bulb went on and I understood she wasn't talking about my lack of swimming skills, she was referring to my size.  I realized the women standing there saw me as a normal weight person.  Normal size.  Normal weight.  Normal.  Not fat.  Not chubby. Not formerly fat. Not someone who needs to lose a little bit more.  Normal. N-O-R-M-A-L.

Perhaps even better was the second realization that came a bit later as we were saying our goodbyes.   I realized I had gone to this gathering and not one single time had I thought about my weight or looked to see if there was anyone at all heavier than me or thinner and prettier.

In other words, I felt normal.  It was an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Ten: I Work Out

10.  Here's a shot Mr. Helen took of me last week one morning before I went out to run.  It's pretty much how I look this time of year around 4:45 am as I head out the door.

9.  I mentioned briefly that our dojo schedule is changing drastically and I'm trying to figure out what to do.  I'm about 9 months from testing for my black belt but the schedule change is major: the classes we have been attending have been changed to start a full 90 minutes later. In fact all the classes across all the dojos have been changed to start later.  I've been struggling trying to figure out how it will work with the rest of my life as getting home at 8:30 at night not even having had dinner when I need to get up by 4:15 or so, isn't really an option.

8.  I asked for and got a meeting with the Kyoshi to explain that while I understood it might be the best decision for the dojo as a business, it wasn't good for me.  I think most people who know me whether IRL or because of reading Doing A 180, would describe me as a person who runs a lot - a runner.  You can only imagine my astonishment and dismay when she looked at me and said, "You need to stop running so you don't have to get up at 4 am.  Just come to classes 5 nights a week.  You run too much anyway, no one needs to run that much."

7.  In addition to making me even more upset than I was,  I lost some respect for her because I am a runner through and through - and she knows that. That comment made it completely obvious to me that she didn't hear a word I said or actually even care to hear what I was saying.

6.  As I mentioned, I planned to participate in Lori's Heart Healthy Weekend.  Since I was off work Friday to go to Aunt Gloria's funeral, and since it was another unseasonably warm and sunny day, and since the forecast for Saturday was snow, rain, etc. I decided to add to my Friday High Five by doing 5 miles instead of the 5K I normally do.  When I got home, Mr. Helen took a couple shots of me so I'd have something to send to Lori.  Don't make fun of my pathetic attempt to make a heart!

5.  Then I decided I wanted a photo to show I'd run 5 miles but Mr. Helen was gone so I went back outside and tried to take one myself.

Then I said forget it let me just take a shot of the Garmin.  I actually LOVE this picture because you can see my shadow!

4.  On Saturday I did indeed wake up to a light dusting of snow - thankfully not the 2-4 inches forecast - wet roads and with a terrible sore throat.  There has been a virus going around my job that includes cold like symptions and a sore throat that is intense for a day or so.  Saturday ended up being my intensely sore throat day.  Though the roads weren't slick, I decided that it probably would be better for me to stick to the treadmill so that I didn't get soaking wet from the snow falling.  Saturday was also the day I wanted to run in honor of Sherry Arnold.  So I decided to go for 6 on Saturday - or rather a bit over a 10K.  To prove to you I can do two things at once:

3.  Finally on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Helen and I were able to sit down and talk about the dojo schedule changes.  I didn't want my emotions to allow any rash decisions and I also wanted his input because I originally started doing Muay Thai so that he and I could do something together.  Not to mention that he has paid for my classes for the last three years and they aren't cheap. He was also upset that it was suggested that I quit running, but he was more able to keep calm and after looking at all the options, I think we've figured out a way to get me to black belt.  Unfortunately, for the most part I will not be training with the people I've trained with for the last 3 years but at least I'll get to black belt, and then I'm done.

2.  Sunday, you would never have known it was messy weather on Saturday because the sun was bright and the skies were blue, just like on Friday.  The difference?  The temperature.  We got a blast of arctic air overnight. The temperature was rising but the wind chill was wicked!

I had determined I was going to exercise all three days of the Healthy Heart Weekend, but after 5 on Friday and 6 on Saturday, my legs needed a break so I decided to walk.  Only one way to deal with a wind chill of 6 and that is to bundle up!  I did and took off and got in a 5Kwalk.

1.  So when people say I shouldn't exercise as much as I do, or tell me to stop getting up at 4 am to do my running, my response is to ignore them.  Because I know by working out and eating healthy, I can walk through the mall and buy an outfit with skinny pants at Macy's that doesn't fit me yet and BE CONFIDENT that one day it will! Photographic proof for you, as promised. (Mr. Helen said I had to show the backside to prove it was those pants):

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday High Five!

I cannot tell a lie - this has been an exhausting week mentally and emotionally.  In addition to the lovely trolling email I received, there has been a huge change in the schedule at my dojo which may mean I will have to stop taking Muay Thai.  I still haven't decided what I'm going to do.  Because of the level of stress and disappointment I have decided to let it rest for a week or so before I make a decision.

(By the way, thank you all so much for your lovely comments on the Dear Anonymous blog.  I almost didn't allow comments but I'm glad I did!  I got some regular readers to delurk - nice to meet you! - and found out someone in New Zealand is reading Doing A 180.  I feel like one of the cool kids.)

Also, today I'm attending the funeral of one of  Mr. Helen's aunts.  Granted she lived a nice long life - 88 years - but still, it's hard to say goodbye to those you love.

ANYWAY, because I am under orders from my doctor to try to reduce my stress as much as possible, I have been working on accentuating the positive so I'm going to give you a Friday High Five!  A few things that shout happiness and joy, or show that something really awful can be turned into a positive.... ready?


Along with my Giants decorations, I should have put a sign up somewhere in my house:  Superbowl Party by Pinterest.   Because most of those recipes came straight from pins I found there.  Instead of reposting in full the ones that were the most requested after you saw my photos, I'm just going to post the links here along with explanation if I changed anything.

Baked Polenta Fries:  These were so good I'll make them again just to have as a side dish over a potato fry.  However, this makes a huge 10x15 pan's worth at least, so I'll cut the recipe in half for sure.  Also, next time I might try stirring in a different cheese.  If you happen to be vegan and don't want the cheese you could feasibly just eliminate it and make the recipe with all water which I also want to try next time simply to reduce calories.  Honestly, we didn't love the dip on this recipe and I wouldn't make it again.

Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip: Holy yum!  I will make these again just as a different way to make a vegetable.  I'm not a huge fan of Panko bread crumbs - they just never work well for me, so I substituted regular seasoned bread crumbs and they turned out great.  Also, the dip is AMAZING.  We all ended up dipping our polenta fries in this dip as well.  This recipe makes a lot too so don't be tempted to make more than the 3 zucchini it calls for.

Asian Flank Steak Skewers: These were so good they will go into our regular meal rotation, especially in the summer.  I didn't and wouldn't change a thing about this recipe!

Turtle Cheesecake Balls:  This was one of the first things I pinned on my Pinterest Food board and have been long suffering waiting for the perfect occasion to make as Mr. Helen doesn't care for cheesecake and I love it.  With the guests coming I knew it would be the perfect time.  As I do a lot of cooking and creating with food, I've learned to taste as I go along and I didn't care for the taste of the cheese mixture so I added a 1/4 cup of sugar.  Also, I used only the 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs.  Perfection!  These would be a great dish to take to a potluck or a brunch or if you are having a heavier meal and would just like a bite of dessert.  This recipe is also a keeper and has gone into the permanent binder.


I have some in real life friends who have launched a new blog. It sort of cracks me up that we are friends because they are around the same age as Little Helen but I guess that's what happens as you age - age doesn't matter!

If you know me via Facebook you saw this link yesterday when it launched.  But I also wanted to share it here.  Heather, Damian, and Kara are some of the healthiest, fittest people I know:  Kara is actually a star player for the WNBA's Connecticut Sun. They epitomize the goal I'd like to get to myself, and I'm honored that they are friends with this old enough to be their mother lady!  I present:  Laws on Wellness

In particular if you are looking for vegetarian/vegan ideas, Heather has become an amazing Vegan Chef.  She's sweet too because every time she comes up with something that doesn't contain soy (I can't have soy due to my thyroid), she shares her creations with me.  

Take a look, maybe add this blog to your reader - you won't regret it!


It's not too late to participate in Lori's Heart Healthy Weekend.  Pick today, tomorrow or Sunday and move!  You can run, walk, bike or any other type of movement.  Once you've done something, take a photo of some sort and send it off to Lori.  I'm participating and hope you will too.

Guess what?  I can do two things at once!

In addition to participating in the Heart Healthy Weekend, I will also be doing the Virtual Run for Sherry Arnold tomorrow.  Sherry Arnold is the woman who, a few weeks ago, went out for her morning run at 6:30 and never came home.  The FBI caught the men involved in her abduction and they admitted to murdering her but her body has never been recovered.  You know, I think this is something that has gone through every runner's mind at one point or another and her cousin who writes the blog associated with that link up there touched a huge nerve when she organized this run.  At this point, in addition to some famous and elite runners participating, they had so many people contact them who couldn't run but wanted to participate they've changed it to run, walk, move or whatever you can do in honor of Sherry.  There is a link to a printable bib and everything.

If you've ever wanted to participate in a huge road race, here's your chance as this one has gone world wide.  Print that bib out, wear it proudly and move in honor of Sherry.

Have a great day and make it a positive, healthy weekend.  There's nothing negative about the weekend, right?!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dear Anonymous,

Dear Anonymous Emailer (you know who you are):

I tried to respond to the email you sent but it bounced back as "unknown."  Maybe I should be flattered that you created that email address just to send one email to me. Or maybe I should just call you out for the troll you probably are.  In any case, I want to write you back so I thought I'd respond here.  You say you won’t read my blog again, which is fine, but I suspect you will lurk because something about me is driving you crazy. 

Yes indeed, I had a great checkup at the doctor and was pleased with my results.  But the fact remains that I have a long way to go.  Contrary to what you think, I am not a perfect eater or exerciser and I’m certainly not the “Perfect Prissy Princess” you said I am.

As we all do, I have some particular personality traits and characteristics that cause me to live and act the way I do.  Years ago Mr. Helen and I took a marriage enrichment class and part of the class was to have a personality test called the DISC assessment.  The DISC assessment grid looks like this:

At the end of the test I was told what I’ve known about myself all along:  I tested as a very high D. So high I fact that the instructor said only a very small percentage of the population tests the way I did.  A high D is defined as:

Very active in dealing with problems and challenges, High "D" people are described as demanding, forceful, egocentric, strong willed, driving, determined, ambitious, aggressive, and pioneering.

If you are so inclined, you can read a bullet list of my characteristics here.

The other small percentage of my personality tested as a C (read here) which is defined as someone who adheres to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. "C" people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, and tactful. 

As you can see from the grid, I am not a people person; I am 100% a task person.  Each time I am faced with something that I can approach as a task to be finished, I tend to excel because I hammer away at it.  These personality characteristics mean my soul thrives on that sort of stuff. 

I don’t need much socialization nor do I have many friends. That’s also a “D” personality trait – we tend to have very, very few people we trust and consider true friends.  It’s probably telling that one of the people I consider to be a good friend is literally a virtual friend, someone I have never met in real life. I’ve held many jobs where I am by myself in an office all day long and I’m fine with that.  I’m actually not sure what I would do if I suddenly found myself working with a group of people all the time. 

I have such a teeny bit of the C personality I can tell you for a fact that I did not inherit the diplomatic and tactful traits.  I am a say what I think person – don’t ask me for my opinion unless you really want it and are willing to hear whatever I have to say.  The one thing I've learned to do (most of the time) as I’ve matured is to not speak right away.  I’m not sure if that means that I've absorbed some of Mr. Helen’s people person traits (and my personality has shifted a bit towards I/S) and care what others might think,  or if I just don’t want to deal with the backlash I might get if I speak too quickly.

So, this weight loss business and exercise are a task for me. While some people find it hard to get in their exercise, I view it as a task to be done – it’s a daily appointment that I rarely consider breaking.  Everyday I have an appointment to exercise and I keep it.  Then I can check it off my task list. Your snide remark in the email about how I “think I’m all that – all athletic and stuff” is your opinion of me, but it is not my opinion of myself, nor is it true.   I am so not athletic and  I am quite sure if you met me in person you would be astonished by the amount of fat and rolls and wrinkles I have.  It's true:  many, many times I've gotten the "YOU are a a runner?!" exclamation from others. 

I’ve been working at my overall task of getting back to pre-thyroid weight for many years and have never managed to complete it. One reason is the medical issue, but the bigger reason is that I am not perfect at all.  I have my temptations, slips, and complete spirals downward just like anyone else.

When I’m tired, I want to eat even if I’m not hungry.  Sometimes I want to eat because I am stressed to the max, or simply because something looks good, or smells good – and if it tastes really good then I often want to overeat. Sometimes I have two martinis on Saturday instead of just the one I plan for.  Sometimes I take an extra handful of nuts but don't count them.  Yes, lots of times I am able to set that aside, but believe me I’ve had my days when I’ve eaten an entire (fill in the blank) and hated myself for it afterwards.

Blogging is a funny thing because people who read think they really know you but the truth is, they really only know what you choose to write about.  Just because I am trying to reinforce the positive within myself and don’t write about every downfall I have, doesn’t mean at all that I’m trying to present myself as perfect, because I’m not and I know it.  

Maybe you'll be glad to know your email made me cry and want to stop blogging.  Who knows, maybe I still will.  Would that satisfying your trolling soul?
No, I’ll take that back. I'm not going to let your cowardice stop me. Also, you should know that I am perfect at one thing: being me.

Helen, the "Perfectly" flawed human

Monday, February 6, 2012

Go Big Blue!

The Giants have been Mr. Helen's favorite sports team since he was 10 years old.  He's a true fan too - sticks with them through thick and thin.  Needless to say, our household was full of excitement over their participation in the Super Bowl.  Once we knew they were in I asked Mr. Helen what he would like to have to eat - or if he would even prefer to go out somewhere to watch the game.  But he's a homebody at heart, plus he has his new HD TV so was excited about watching the game on that.  He chose chicken wings, ribs, and guacamole.  I sort of looked at him and said, "Would you like a vegetable with that?"  He replied, "Isn't guacamole a vegetable?"  Ha!  I began to make plans for our menu and flesh it out a bit.  I didn't want to make too much food as it would be just the two of us.

Then in the middle of last week he and Little Brother Helen, who recently moved back to the area, moved a treadmill together and LBH asked what we were doing.  Of course Mr. Helen immediately asked him to come over.  Wednesday morning I had to call my father-in-law about something and he asked what we were doing, "I know my son is excited about this game..."  So I said, "Pop, would you like to come over for a while?"  Suddenly there would be four.  So I added another item to the menu. Friday evening after work I went out and bought all the items I would need so that I could just spend Saturday at home doing my housework and prepping for Sunday.

I woke up Saturday morning and as usual after my couple of cups of coffee took off for a run.  I decided to keep up my trend from last week and ran 8 miles.  Arrived home happy because I beat this wicked hill in the route I ran and I did it with the wind straight in my face.  As I unloaded my fuel belt I looked at my phone and saw that my sister had texted me asking what we were doing for Super Bowl.  By the end of that textversation, I had two more adults and 2 kiddies.  Now we had a party!

I did spend quite a bit of time on Saturday prepping and when Mr. Helen saw everything I was doing he said he wanted to take me out for a bite to eat, which I took him up on.  We went to our local Mexican restaurant and I had the Steak Burrito Bowl - so good!

Sunday dawned and Mr. Helen took off for work, hoping that he would be able to get off a bit earlier than his scheduled time of 6 pm as he wanted to be home and cleaned up before the National Anthem was sung.  I realized that since my simple Sunday evening had turned into a party I would probably be going to bed way too late to get up at 4 am for a workout this morning so I made myself do my Monday workout.  It felt hard because my legs were feeling a bit fatigued from Saturday's longer run.  It was totally worth it as I didn't even get to bed until 11 p.m. and this morning I was glad to be able to sleep in until 5:45!

We really had a fabulous evening and of course the Giants GIANT victory over the Patriots made it feel like perfection.  Not to mention that it was a blast for me to remind Mr. Helen that all four of the Giants' Super Bowl wins have come since we've known each other - I am his lucky charm!

A pictorial of some of our evening... I'll be sharing a couple of the recipes in this week's Recipe Round-Up.

Homemade decorations to surprise Mr. Helen. He loved them!

The spread:  Ribs, Chicken Wings, Asian Flank Steak Skewers, Polenta 'Fries' with Spicy Dip, Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus, Zucchini Sticks with Sweet Onion Dip, Ham & Gruyere Pinwheels,  Hummus with Pita Wedges, Potato Chips, Tortilla Chips with Guacamole and Salsa

My sweet Gracie:  "Aunt Helen, can you put something on the downstairs TV for me?  Football is dumb.  It's for boys!"

Dessert:  Banana Pudding Pie

Dessert: Turtle Cheesecake Balls

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Half and Half Because Variety is the Spice of Life

Cooking over the last couple of weeks has bee a mix of healthy foods and treats.  As I thought about it I realized that my cooking has reflected my real life.  While I'm fairly strict with myself Sunday through Friday, usually one day a week,  I look forward to some sort of splurge.

Here's a breakfast I had recently that was super simple yet so delicious! I halved and seeded an avocado then pushed the half into a small ramekin.  I then dropped a raw egg into the hole that was left by the seed, salted and peppered everything and threw it into a 350 degree oven and baked it for about 20 minutes.  Oh my goodness this was terrific!  The avocado was creamy and buttery and the egg was, well, an egg. But so good.  The only thing I'll do different next time is to go ahead and peel the avocado all the way.


I tried a couple of recipes over the weekend on my treat day.  Both were absolutely terrific. No nutrition information on these because I don't calculate treats, nor do I track on my treat meal/day.

The first was Pecan Pie Muffins.  I can't explain it but this recipe works - a muffin that tastes like pecan pie.  We actually ate them as dessert on Saturday evening. Mr. Helen plopped some whipped cream on the top of his and declaired, "You can make these every weekend!"  Well no, I won't but still there were simply hand-held heaven!

The other recipe I tried was BLT Pasta Salad.  We really enjoyed this.  I did change things up in the recipe as I decided I didn't want to saute the tomatoes in bacon grease.  I simply cut grape tomatoes in half and added them into the pasta before dressing it and we only added the lettuce to our individual portions.  I just think if lettuce was to sit in that pasta it would get soggy.  I think next time I make this I'm going to increase the dressing a bit, it didn't seem creamy enough to me. Also, I only made a half recipe.  I like bacon and pasta too much to have a bunch of that leftover!


Finally here's a good, healthy veggie recipe that came about because I had a bag of pre-washed and prepped kale that I needed to use up.    I wanted to do something different with it other than the usual cook with ham hock Southern style. When I looked at the bag there was a recipe on the bacl that sounded good.  It really is delicious - as a side dish or you could even have it over rice for a heartier meal.  This one goes into my regular repetoire.

Sweet and Sour Kale

    2 T olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3 T Dijon mustard
    2 T apple cider vinegar
    1 T sugar
    2 cups organic vegetable broth
    16 oz bag prepared kale (~12 packed cups kale)
    1/3 cup craisins

    In a large stockpot, heat the 2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the mustard, vinegar, sugar and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add kale and lower heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the craisins and cook for 5 more minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Makes 6 one cup servings, 168 calories, 5.6g fat, 26g carbohydrate, 6.3g fiber, 5.5g protein.


The trend of some super healthy and some treats will continue over this upcoming weekend because of the Superbowl.  Mr. Helen has already told me what he'd like to have as it's "his" Giants playing against some other team. Do you watch the Superbowl, even if it's just for the commercial and half-time show?  Are you making anything special?