Thursday, April 23, 2009

Food Blog Revisited

Ok, here's my totally honest, if not all that great food blog for today.

2 slices TJ's rye bread: 120 calories
1 tsp. butter

1 salmon burger (170 calories)
2 slices TJ's rye bread (120 calories)
Assorted veggies
1 tsp mayonnaise

Small House Salad at Jim and Nick's BBQ with honey mustard on the side (not the creamy mayonnaise kind, more of a vinegarette)

3 little cheddar biscuits at Jim and Nick's.

Here's the bad bit: 5 beers. I know. This was bad. But, hey, at least I'm writing it down, right?

Come On, Take a Joke!

The Challenges of Living in a Museum

Eating well is challenging for me at the moment. My budget does not allow me to eat out, especially because restaurants that serve healthy food tend to be expensive, so I have to eat in most of the time. As I may have mentioned earlier, I am in the process of selling my house. This means that the house has to look as if nobody lives in it, including the one person and two cats who do. So how exactly is a person supposed to cook meals every night and leave the kitchen looking and smelling like it is a showroom?

I'm having a lot of problems with this. I find I don't want to cook at all, so I've been eating more salads and sandwiches because I just can't deal with messing up the kitchen and bringing it back to perfect every single time I want to eat. I think this has had an effect on my eating habits and I will relish the day my house sells and I can go back to cooking and not worrying so much about what the kitchen looks like or worrying about eating eggs or salmon because they'll stink the house up!

The agents who want to show the house sometimes don't give me a lot of notice, so the house has to be ready to show at any moment, which sucks if I'm in the middle of making myself a yummy, yet many pot using, messy meal.

Life happens, and although diet books and plans will spell out what you're supposed to do, there always seems to be something getting in the way of that idyllic plan of cooking healthy, gourmet meals every night.

If anyone has any ideas for healthy things to eat that don't require a lot of clean-up or even cheap, healthy eating-out options, please let me know because this is driving me crazy.


This blog post is a direct response to Ms. RD's last one. I agree with everything she says, but I think there's also a dirty little secret that dieters don't admit to their dietitians: they get complacent. I can feel it happening to me and I am going to have to kick my bottom back into shape.

At the beginning of the weight loss journey, we measure everything and write everything down. Then as we get used to what we are eating, we stop doing that. It becomes more clockwork and natural. That's good, right? Lifestyle change and all that. It is good in a way, but you have to go back to measuring and writing down and general accountability every so often because otherwise the portion sizes start getting bigger and before you know it, you're using tablespoons of olive oil instead of teaspoons and drinking 16oz of juice instead of 8 and slowly the pounds stop coming off.

You rationalize it. You say, "I changed my lifestyle like they told me to and it's just not working. I could have told them it wouldn't work for me. I'm just doomed to be fat." But at the same time, we know inside we just don't want to do the work and we want to make excuses instead. I've done all of this, so I know that other people do it too. It's hard to reign yourself in and make yourself accountable and I am going through this right now. This week I am starting the food journal again, so you, my readers, can keep me on the right track. I promise to be honest about what I eat and drink and as a result, I hope the pounds will keep coming off.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hitting the Wall

An issue I hear not infrequently in those trying to lose weight is this: Initially weight loss is quite rapid and regular, then little to no further weight loss comes despite keeping up the good eating habits that lead to the weight loss to begin with. How completely frustrating right!?
The reason this happens is that your body has kind of adapted to your new lifestyle, your metabolism isn't in shock anymore and your body can maintain itself with less calories coming in. Therefore, weight loss slows... major bummer.
So what to do? Now is the time to change things up. I wouldn't suggest a lower calorie level at this time. The secret weapon is doing some different exercises that works your body in ways it hasn't become accustomed to yet. For instance, if you've just been eating better, start some power walking too. If you've already started walking, try some jazz dancing, pilates, kickboxing, or something that makes your body work in new ways. Get that body thinking again, and you can press through that brick wall that often comes with well-intentioned weight loss effforts :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chocolate Cravings

As our regular readers may already know, I gave up alcohol for Lent, which has mostly gone well other than that I held the rather naive opinion that simply x-ing out alcohol from my life for a few weeks would magically turn me into a fabulously motivated person who gets up at 5 a.m. to run miles every day while munching on carrot sticks. Guess what? It didn't happen.

I thought this magical transformation would lead to some sort of spiritual and physical epiphany and I would experience some sort of cleansing of body and soul. Yeah right.

What really happened? I didn't drink, but I missed my wine. I didn't get anything more done and I still procrastinated as much as I always do. I went to bed later. I got up at the same time (i.e. when I needed to get up). I exercised less, amazingly enough. All in all the experiment was lacking the great chunk of meaning I was supposed to get from it.

I've also craved chocolate like mad and eaten more of it instead of drinking wine. I guess a person just needs to allow for a certain amount of vice and it's going to come out somewhere. I won't fight it in future. I'll take Ms. RD's advice and just allow for it. And next year, I'll find something else to give up, like unrealistic expectations, for example.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's the Power of ... Food

Something Ms. RD said in a recent post got me thinking, as her comments often do. I recently read a book called Death by Supermarket, which basically said that regular grocery store processed food is poison. There have been numerous books written on this subject, most of which I have perused over the years. The most recent, which I have yet to read, is called Swindled, and it compares the poisonous ingredients in food in Upton Sinclair's (The author of The Jungle) time to now and makes the point that we think that our food is safer now because of our "modern" technology; however, that technology might actually make our food more dangerous.

I digress, but the author of Death by Supermarket insists that we eat poisonous food, then take drugs to "fix" the harm we are causing to our bodies because we deny them fresh and unadulterated, chemical free food.

This leads me back to Ms. RD's comment about her dad's management of his diabetes: "[He] chooses to think that as long as he takes his pills he'll be fine." I know other diabetics in my family who are exactly the same - they eat a piece of chocolate cake and then complain because they have high blood sugar the next day, like that should come as a surprise.

Being overweight puts you at risk for so many health problems, even if you're otherwise healthy and active. I guess the point I am slowly arriving at is that if you lose weight, you don't have to take pills. You can control many health issues by simply changing your eating habits.

I got scared a couple of weeks ago. Now I am wary of eating too much fat. The scare was good for me and now I have another reason, other than vanity, to watch what I eat. I'm scared of an early grave. I'm scared of illness. I'm even scared of being reliant on medication. I'll stick with food and I'll eat good stuff.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Paella Pan - Worth the Investment

I love my paella pan. It might sound like a strange extraneous piece of kitchen equipment, but believe me, it's worth the money. I use mine all the time. Occasionally, I even make paella in it!

Because I usually cook for one, I tend to use this pan to make all-in-one dishes like fish, vegetables and perhaps polenta. A paella pan is perfect for this because you can cook it all together and only dirty one, if rather large, pan. It also has a lid, which makes it perfect for sauteing and for making dishes with sauces.

The other night, I actually used it for its intended purpose: paella. If you've never made paella, you should. It's really easy and if you make it and you control what's in it, it can also be healthy.

I threw this together the other night because I was hungry, didn't have a lot of ingredients, or patience, and it came out great. There's no exact rules for paella, but here are some basic guidelines:

I used the Seafood Medley from Trader Joe's. It has shrimp, calamari, and bay scallops. You can use any shellfish or other fish too. Mussels are cool because they make it look pretty, but I didn't have any on hand.

Just saute the shellfish from frozen (if necessary) in a spray of olive oil. At the same time, add about 3 cloves of garlic and 1/2 to a whole onion (depending on preference). Next, and this is so easy, it should be illegal: dump in a large can of diced tomatoes (the big fat can) with the juice and everything. Then dump in 1/2 cup uncooked brown medium-grain rice (long-grain won't work). Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup wine or cooking wine or broth (I like using wine) but you could just use water. This isn't strictly necessary, but I wouldn't make a paella without it: add a sprinkling of saffron. It gives a rich color and an aromatic taste that is unmistakably paella. Without this, I think, it's just another rice dish (although probably a reasonably tasty one). Now you can add any vegetables you like. I added some frozen artichokes and a yellow pepper, but experiment away. Pop the lid on the pan, turn it down to medium and let it simmer away for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the rice is cooked. You do want to check for burning (and add more liquid if necessary) but you don't want to stir it too much because a good paella has a crust on the bottom where the rice has almost stuck to the pan.

This is a great dish to impress your friends with. You don't have to tell them how easy it is. Just act like you've been slaving over it all day and add some fresh chopped parsley to it a few minutes before you take it off the stove. You also don't have to tell them it's good for them.