Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Battle of the Bulge - Week 4 : Attack of the Scales

I think the picture says it all. The scales are in attack formation!

And, why yes, all those scales are in our bathroom currently! I wanted one that was a little more precise because the one I was using (the top one) only does weight in 0.5 lb increments - we have had this one for a while.  So, I got the black one - it does increments of 0.2 lbs, but it is really flimsy and when I would step on or off it would tip and I almost fell a couple of times. The third one does increments of 0.1 lbs, it is really stable feeling, and so far so good.  

I will say it is really funny to watch AJ weigh himself on one, then jump to the next, and try to claim that he had gained weight while he was in the air. Interestingly enough, none of the scales ever weigh near the others.

This week has been as crazy as the weather down here has been. One day nice and bright and sunny, then two days of cold rain, then back to sunny. I still think it has to do with this medicine. I am fairly ok during the day when the sun is out, but the darker it gets the more melancholy I get. I have also been going to bed really early (for me) around 10:30, but then waking up at 3:30 and fighting the rest of the night to go back to sleep.  It is really annoying!

I did lose 2.7 lbs and another 1/2 inch of both my waist and my thighs. I am really happy about that. I will say that I wish it was a bigger loss since I didn't have any last week, but I will take this progress. 

My calorie count has been all over the board, too. The first half of the week I was focusing on trying to keep it around 1500 even with exercise. The second half of the week has been 1500 not including exercising. It means that the last three days has been around 1000 final count. 

As for the exercise, I found some of the Biggest Loser workouts on our On-Demand. I have checked out several of the other workouts, but haven't really found any I liked until now. I like the Biggest Loser ones because they have a modified version of the workout. This is important because my back can't physically do all of the moves, and I like being given that option instead of just standing there trying to figure it out on my own. The other nice thing about the modified version is that they encourage as I get stronger to actually try the non-modified version. I have done that on one or two of the moves already, but I know I am not ready to move to that point permanently. I don't have the strength in my ankles or the balance needed to be able to hop on one foot while lifting weights, but I will get there - I know I will.

I also did better on getting fruits and veggies this week. I have played with some different food options, too. We had salmon teriyaki with veggies one night, then chicken and broccoli another night. I think it is interesting that I am cooking more Asian inspired meals lately to get in the lower calorie options and vegetables. We did eat out a couple of times, but I don't think Subways is such a bad thing, IKEA was a little harder to figure out, but it was yummy and I was really hungry! I still haven't made myself sit down and do a meal plan. I really need to, but I just can't make myself do it. 

How did you do this week? Where were your ups and downs?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Battle of the Bulge - Week 3

This week has been rough. My doctor put me on a medicine that is supposed to be helpful for pain, but it has really caused havoc on me. My stomach isn't working right and all I have craved is carbs and sugar. I also feel like I am trying to function surrounded by mud. So I am really sluggish and just tired all the time.

I am proud that even with these cravings I have been sticking to my below my calorie count and I have been doing my exercising. I will say that there were several days that I was under my count by only 200 calories, but that is still under. 

I didn't loose any pounds this week, but I did loose some half inches around my waist and hips. I will gladly take that! I am glad I decided to take measurements after all.

I have done some looking around the blog world for some other ideas to help me along this journey. I really like what Donielle at Naturally Knocked Up is doing. I like the idea of cutting out junk oils (actually we already have), and the idea of cutting out refined sugars and flours. I am not 100% sure how to do that, though. The other idea I like is one raw item with each meal.

Hopefully, next week will be a little better as I get used to this medicine, or I will get taken off of it next Thursday (which is what I am hoping for).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In A Jam - Strawberry, Actually


Florida strawberries are in season! Which, means that they are currently fairly cheap and VERY yummy! Publix had them on sale the other day for $1.67 a lb, so I stocked up, but then I had to come up with something to do with all those beautiful strawberries...

Well, my momma had just brought me this wonderful book, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This book is amazing. I looked up strawberries and found the basic jam recipe, but if strawberries stay cheap I am going to make a couple of the others - Strawberry Kiwi Jam, Strawberry Lemon Marmalade, and Strawberry Margarita Preserves.

The recipe said it should make 8 8oz jars, well, I learned last time that I should wash a couple of extras. I am glad I did because I got 9 jars out of the batch. The only problem with this this time is that we didn't have any extra to just put into the fridge.

The Recipe:

7 cups granulated sugar
8 cups whole strawberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 pkg pectin

I washed all the jars in hot soapy water, and then put the canner on to boil. Then I put the glass jars in the water. I kept out the metal rings and lids, but I did put the metal lids into warm water to start letting the glue soften. 

Next, I started washing the strawberries under cool water. When they were all clean I cut off the tops and hulled them with a potato peeler. I know there is such a things as a strawberry huller, but I don't have one and I am not sure where to find one (I looked at Wal-Mart, Publix, and Winn-Dixie). The potato peeler worked really well though, so I will probably just stick to that. Then I put the strawberries into the food processor. The recipe said to put them into a pie pan and mash them with a potato masher, well I don't have either, so I used what I did have. The food processor worked really well!

The I dumped the strawberries, lemon juice, and pectin into a giant wok. They had to come to a boil, and then I could add the sugar. This was a really big pot of lovely smelling liquid napalm (it is VERY hot and VERY sticky, and really burns). When it had come to a solid boil that couldn't be stirred down it was timed for 1 minute. 

Now it can be put into the jars. I pulled them out of the boiling water one at a time and filled them with the yumminess. Then, I put the metal lids and bands on. When all 9 jars were filled they were returned to the water bath, and boiled at a steady boil for 10 minutes. Then they were turned off and let sit for 5 minutes before I pulled the rack out of the water. (Sorry there aren't any pictures of this, but I had to work quickly, and since I was doing it by myself I was a little short handed.)

Within 5 minutes all of the jars had made that lovely popping sound that scared me last time. Now that I know what that noise is all about I am very happy to hear it. 

 The jam looked amazing! I love the bright red color of it. Our garage is starting to have some very pretty colored jars in it. What little bit we did get to taste (there was a tiny about left in the cook pot that AJ and I shared when he got home) was totally AMAZING! I really want to open one of the jars to keep in the fridge, but before I do that I need to make some homemade bread. It just seems like it deserves the respect of having something nice and homemade to go with it.

Also, I need some label ideas for the jars. Does anyone have any good suggestions? I am thinking of cutting circle labels for the tops out of mailer labels and decorating them. I want something that will go just on the metal lid  because when the jar is empty I want to be able to refill it and not have old labels on the jars, and since the lids aren't reusable it makes sense to put the label there. Does anyone have any pretty templates for this, or would this make another good craft project?

Oh, and does anyone have suggestions on the next thing I should try to can? I am really loving the process of all of this and of course the outcomes. I am looking forward to tomatoes coming into season because I really want to make some tomato sauce!

I am participating in:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Battle of the Bulge - Week 2

This week went fairly well. I lost 2lbs. That isn't a staggering amount, but it is a good solid number, and I am sure that it isn't just water weight. I also measured around various parts of my body to be able to use that as a guide for loss on weeks that the scale doesn't show much or any movement. I have lost 1 inch around my stomach already!

I tracked almost everything that I ate this week. It gave me a really good sense of how I was doing. It also gives me a good sense of nutrition. Most days I did good on getting 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables, which is a goal I have for myself. I also can see that I am still eating more "processed" foods that I would like to be, and we ate out a couple of times this week. It was a busy week in that we had friends in town and wanted to spend time with them, so we ate out. I am happy to know that even eating out I stuck to my calorie limits.

I also worked out in some way most days of this week. I will say it isn't the highest impact workouts or the hardest I have ever worked out, but I am enjoying the way I am doing it. Some days I work out a little harder and I can really feel it the next day, others I get the length and the difficulty just right and feel really good. I have used the Exercise on Demand on our cable a couple of days, and that is neat. The only problem is I can't always do what they want because of the problems I have, so those sections I just skip and keep moving in ways I can.

So, overall a good week. I am still trying to figure out how to do all of this, but this seems like a good start. I know I need to put a little more time into my meal planning, and I know I need to find ways to increase my staminia for excercise. I am hoping that with more daylight I will be able to do more outside in the afternoons. I want to start walking around the neighborhood when AJ gets home (and let him play on his rollerblades).

How are your goals coming? What are your struggles this week? What are things that worked and didn't work for you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Biggerst Loser - Reality?

This weight loss thing is really on my mind (and body) lately. This has even caused me to watch my first ever full episode of  The Biggest Loser. I was dumbfounded when I saw how much weight these people were losing in such a short period of time - it was week 7 of the season. The  people has lost amounts from 45lbs to 110lbs. That just seems unreasonable to me.

This episode was about making the people think about what it was going to be like "back in the real world", where they were going to have to go back to work and life was going to get in the way. They made them commute an hour each way to their job at a food bank, they had to pack their own lunches, and they only had a limited time to workout in the gym. I guess that is a good approximation of real life, but without the family, the stress, and the well things that don't ever go right some days - or even the celebrations for the happy things that happen.After a week of living in this fake real world, they had their typical weigh in. The people didn't lose as much weight as they had in previous weeks or even as much as they hoped for.

It was an interesting thing to watch. It made me pose all these questions to myself (and well AJ since he was in the room). I had to wonder how these people survived when they really did go back home? How do the maintain the weight loss when they can't work out for 6- 8 hours a day. How do they learn to cook these great tasting healthy meals for themselves? How do they handle the reality of real life and not just the fake reality of a reality show?

Well, apparently, Discovery Health had the same questions. I was channel surfing when I saw this special, Confessions of a Reality Show Loser. This show was the flip-side of The Biggest Loser. It follows the winner from season 3. He had lost 200+lbs on the show, and when Discovery Health was doing the filming he had gained most of the weight back.

Confessions went into what happened when he left the show. It delved into the questions that I had. He didn't survive the reality of real life. It swallowed him up and spit him back out. I know that not all the contestants have that problem, but I can see how it would happen. He stopped working out because it wasn't convenient to try to shove it in around a family and work. His wife did all the cooking (along with his mom feeding them several times a week), but they didn't change their cooking habits because they hadn't been taught the new way by the show. 

The family blamed a lot of the backslide on The Biggest Loser. They said that as soon as the show was over no one cared what happened to them. That is until they did contact him to be on a reunion show. The guy wanted to do it, but he was desperately trying to lose some of the re-gained weight. 

Seeing both these shows made me realize something important to me, that rapid weight loss isn't something that is going to work. It does have to be a process of reconditioning, and that isn't something that can be forced by an outside person or situation. I have to want to change. I have to be the one that actually takes ownership of who and what I am. I would love to lose all that weight that they lose on tv, but I know it wouldn't last for me either.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bento Blast From the Past

What is bento?

Bento (written 弁当), or obento (お弁当) to use the honorific term, is the Japanese word for a meal served in a box. Beyond that basic definition though, just about anything goes as to what kind of box or container is used, as well as what is put inside that box. - http://justbento.com/

I used to really be into bento making. I still really enjoy looking at pictures of amazing little lunches. I have a friend who is just really getting into bento making, and when I saw these pictures I thought I would post them for some inspiration. I think I could easily get back into bentos if I worked a more normal job. I have kept the practices of compartmentalizing my food, but I haven't kept the make it pretty part. I am also thinking that going back to using my fun bento containers might make it easier to control my portions on my weight loss plan. These little boxes don't hold much food and combine that with the trying to make it pretty, and you loose even more space.

This is actually one of the first bento I had ever made. It contained nano-burgers (the meat is actually baked inside the little buns), apple slices and carrot sticks, homemade potato chips (one with a butterfly cutout), and a chocolate chip cookie. I made these for a Labor Day picnic - it was also the first food I ever gave to AJ. He didn't eat the nano-burgers, but he decimated the rest of it.

This one was a little more traditional Japanese. I never really got into authenticity at that point, but now that I am learning more how to cook Japanese, I could see it becoming more of a likelihood. This one has stir-fried chicken and carrots over soba noddles, carrots and apple slices, a kids yogurt with a container of granola.

I think this one was a tribute to Saint Patrick's Day. I took a shamrock stencil and used English peas to make the shape. The meat is diced pork chops. There is also apple and carrot slices and a container of kid's yogurt.

I remember really liking this one a lot. It was oven cooked salmon, home cooked green beans and potatoes. There is a side dish of baby bananas (they were so tiny!) and a small square of dark chocolate.

This one was a breakfast bento that I packed while I was on the crazy diet. I had this same bento for weeks because there was no option for variation, luckily I really liked this stuff. It has diced strawberries, dried cranberries, a died boiled egg, brie cheese wedge, apple slices, apple teddy bears, and two pieces of melba toast under the green grass. There is also a really cute pig container that has salt in it for the egg.

Like I said, I had this same bento a lot. It did give me a chance to play with some of my different tools. This one has two boiled eggs that were put into egg shapers to look like fish.

This one has two boiled eggs put into the egg shapers to look like bunny rabbits, and then died to look like they are wearing hoodies. This one was also a good chance to use some of my pretty divider papers and wax paper cups. The Japanese paper cups are like our cupcake papers, except the pictures are printed on the inside and have a wax coating to keep wet things from making the dry things damp.

I know I made lots more bento than just these, but apparently I didn't always take pictures. I remember some that were really cool technically, but they didn't turn out very well in the end. If I do start making them again I want to be better at taking pictures.

Looking at these pictures really makes me want to go out to the garage an pull out my stuff and repack my lunch for today. Maybe I will. Maybe this will be the next mini-step I take towards my weight loss goal. Maybe the pretty pictures will make you want to play with your food. What do you think? Would these make you smile when you opened them to eat? What are some neat and interesting ways you can think of to help loose weight while still enjoying your food?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Battle of the Bulge - Operation Weight Loss

 (Image taken from blisstree.com)

Weight Loss - This seems to be a major topic going around the blogs I read lately. A lot of people seem to be trying to lose weight for things ranging from weddings to vacations.

I wish I could say that I didn't have some of those same motivations, but in my heart I do. We are supposed to go to AJ's little sister's college graduation in May. I would like to look a little better for that, but I would like to be in better shape. We are planning on going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg on that trip. We want to do this mega backstage tour that goes in depth into all their roller coasters. I want to be in shape to tackle all the walking and climbing that the tour would require. There are also some really personal goals that I need to lose the weight for, but I don't want to share those for now.

I have struggled with my weight most of my life. This post is probably one of the hardest I have written to this point. It isn't pretty, but it is real.

Before our wedding I went to a weight loss clinic. I knew in the beginning that this plan wasn't going to be something I could stick to long term. It was really restrictive and required some very specialized diet supplies. I was only allowed to eat about 1000 calories a day, and that included the liquid supplements that had to be drunk four times a day. The supplements made me very sick, so I think some of the weight that was lost was because of the constant nausea. The other thing that was required of this system was keeping my body in a constant state of ketosis. They advocated not eating carbs so that the body would have to burn fat to get the energy it needed, but it is fairly dangerous and because of that I had to check in twice a week to make sure that the ketosis hadn't gotten "too bad". I did lose about 25lbs on this system. But like I said, it was just to crazy to stick with.

I have been officially on Weight Watchers about three times. I have been on Weight Watchers unofficially about four other times. Every time I have had some luck with it, but I can't ever make myself stick to it. The best luck I ever had on it was in 2002, I went from 245lbs to 175lbs. I was very proud of myself and it only took about 8 months. The problem is that I didn't really learn anything. The weight loss lasted about a year, and then I slowly started gaining it back.

I restarted WW unofficially in 2008, I posted about it here and here. I lost some weight. But then, about two weeks after that last post we got the call that AJ got hired down in Orlando, and we had to have him moved in two days to start on Monday. It was really stressful - I had to quit my job, live in Gainesville a month without AJ, find a new apartment, move, be without a job, frantically hunt a job, found a night job at Universal Orlando (with some of the best people ever), took a new lab job with the craziest person I have ever met, quit Universal, soon there after quit the lab job, pay off all our debts, back to frantically looking for a job, found a new job (that I TOTALLY LOVE!), start house hunting, buy a foreclosure house, pack and move again (the second time in 9 months), and finally settle down. Combine that with the fact that I am an emotional eater and well the weight that was lost came back.

I did go back on WW in 2009. I went from 220lbs to 200lbs. Again, I was happy. It was barely in our budget for me to be going, but we were making it work. Then I broke my ankle and I couldn't go to the meetings. But, I was also getting really frustrated that the meetings I was attending were only advocating "fake" foods. Lots of frozen meals (which were a huge budget buster) and canned/ processed foods.
There are only so many frozen meals that I can make myself eat because I like my food to taste good and to be real food. I don't like diet drinks either, but I made myself drink them for years. 

I was holding really steady at the 200lbs up until October, then the weight started just piling on. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I was in such pain I couldn't move. I was trying not to stress eat and to watch what I was eating, but I wasn't having the best luck with that. I gained 34lbs by December. I knew I was gaining like mad, but when we went to the endocrinologist in December - January the gain had stopped and I was maintaining at 234lb. I was at least happy that I had stopped gaining. 

The last month or so I have been trying to count my calories. I have been trying to just track what I am eating and how I am eating. Just in the last week I have been trying to cut back on the calorie count from 2000 to about 1700-1800 a day. Nothing drastic, but it is a small step. I have also switched most of our food to REAL FOOD.  We have cut out lots of chemicals, but we aren't fanatical and I know the world isn't going to end if I do have a Coke. I will say that cutting out the chemicals and processed food hasn't been that hard for me because I cook most of our meals at home. The only difficulty we have had so far is going out to eat. That isn't a common occurrence, but when it does happen I hate having to pre-look at menus at home and try to find something that will fit into my calorie count for the day.

Also, the last couple of days I have actually felt better (I am thinking it has something to do with the fact that I had to have a steroid shot to clear up hives that I got in response to a new antibiotic). This feeling better has lead me to wanting to get moving. 

AJ also bought me a pedometer because my last one got broken. I have also broken out my mini-trampoline and pilates bands. I have done lots of other exercises in the course of this weight loss journey and these are the ones that I like the most. My pedometer gives me something to strive for by seeing how close I can get to the 10,000 steps. I enjoy bouncing on the trampoline because it doesn't hurt my joints and honestly it is fun. I am still working on getting up to bouncing for 30 minutes, but so far it is 10 minutes twice a day. I also enjoy the pilates workouts because they are slow and controlled. I don't do well with feeling rushed. I also have had really good luck toning up with them before, so it is a known potential outcome. 

I am setting the goal for myself to do a weekly update on this process. I need to do this for me. I need to know that there is a weekly check-in, and even if no one else reads it or comments, this is something I have to do.  If anyone is interested I would be willing to post my meal plans and calorie counts for more accountability. Is anyone interested in joining me on this journey?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Eye-Fi Rocks!

I am not a "tech" person. I married AJ for that reason. I want my technology to work and be easy for me, but I am generally not the one in our house that seeks out new nifty products. AJ is normally the one who comes home wanting something newer and spiffier and is the one to tell me about neat products that are out there.

Well, this time the roles were reversed. A while back I had a friend on facebook who bought an Eye-Fi card. She mentioned that it was uploading her pictures while she was playing with her camera in her backyard. I thought, "hey, that sounds pretty cool." Then I did nothing with that information.

So, we fast forward about six months. My little Canon camera got broken in September. Since then, I have been looking for a new camera to replace it. But, while I am looking for cameras I am also looking more into the Eye-Fi card. It is starting to sound more appealing since my main workhorse computer is upstairs. It is the computer I keep all my pictures on because it the hard drive is bigger. But, like I said, it is upstairs and I don't want to have to go up there every time I need to dump my memory card.

Well, we bought a new camera. We also bought the Eye-Fi 4gb Share Video card. It is AMAZING! It has the ability to upload to not only my computer, but to all kinds of social media sharing sites - Facebook, Flikr, and YouTube. I haven't used those aspects yet, but I like having them as choices.

It is really easy to use. All I have to do is turn on the camera that the card is in while we are on our network. It does it all in the background when the camera is on. It doesn't slow down the camera while taking pictures, and you would never know it was transferring. From what I can see while it is transferring the card will keep the camera turned on, too. This is nice because we have our camera set to turn off fairly quickly when it isn't in use to save battery life.

The only negative I have heard so far is from AJ. He says that the video is a little slow. I haven't used the card for many videos, so this hasn't been a problem for me. I have manually copied them on to the desktop or laptop. The card also came with a card reader, which made the manual process much easier, too.

All in all, I love this card. It was a little expensive, but we had a $10 gift card for Best Buy when we bought it and it brought it down into our price range. I am really happy we got this card. I would highly recommend this card if you are as slow as I can be about getting my pictures off my camera.

EDIT: I am submitting this post to WFMW (being hosted this week at Rocks In My Dryer, but normally at We ARE That Family). Go check out all the other Works For Me Wednesday links, because they always have fun stuff!