Monday, February 28, 2011

The Crap List

I really can't believe the amount of crap I used to put in my body. There are things I used to eat that I wouldn't dream of eating now. It used to be hot dogs and boxed macaroni and cheese were on the weekly menu. I can remember many nights per week that the husband and I would sit on the sofa chowing down on frozen pizza rolls while watching the tube. Midnight runs to Taco Bell were not uncommon. I've given all that up and I can't imagine turning back. But, there are still a few things that I hold on to that are still considered "crap" and you know what, I'm ok with that. . .for now.

I'm making a crap list. This list contains the current things I still eat that I consider to be poorer choices, but I'm not yet ready to give them up (and not sure I ever will be).

Coffee-Mate non-dairy creamer
I have no idea why I like this stuff, but I do. I know most coffee drinkers would say it ruins their coffee but I've tried other things and I just don't like the taste of anything else. I've tried regular half and half, I've tried fat-free half and half. I've tried mini-moos. I've tried milk (2% and skim). Nothing compares to that highly flammable, highly processed Coffee-Mate non-dairy creamer. I drink quite a bit of coffee so, coffee-mate stays.

Diet Coke
I know it's full of chemicals and artificial stuff. I know it's not good for me. But, I love it. I'm happy to say I've decreased the quantity I drink but I still require at least one diet coke per day. I don't see this going away anytime soon, but perhaps many moons from now I'll look back at this list and think, "wow, I remember when used to drink diet coke like it was water and I haven't had one for years." Until then, I'll take the one per day as a huge improvement.

Yes, indeed, I use margarine. I use Brummel and Brown so it is made with yogurt, but nonetheless it still has hydrogenated vegetable oil (but no trans-fat, which I honestly didn't think was possible, hmm) but this means it's the bad stuff. However, the trade off is butter. I don't do butter. Real butter is so terribly high in saturated fat that I'll take my chances with the dab of margarine that I eat. I have greatly decreased what I use this stuff on. I don't use it on veggies, I enjoy those steamed. Once in a while if we have a baked potato I will use it on that or if I have toast. That about sums up my margarine usage, so I think it can stick around.

Sugar Free Red Bull
I don't drink this often but I do drink it when I need a pick me up on like final exams week or weeks where I'm short on sleep. I know this stuff flows down crap road, but alas, I still splurge on it occasionally.

Flavored Yogurts
mmhmm, I know, it's yogurt, why crap? Well, have you looked at the label? The amount of crap needed to make my yogurt taste like carrot cake, boston creme pie, wild berry crumb cake or any other dessert that natural yogurt does not taste like is a laundry list long. Yes, it is a better choice than say, the carrot cake, the boston creme pie, well, you get the idea. But better choice and non-crap are not exclusive. However, this little piece of crap keeps me from splurging on much larger pieces of crap - so it stays in the daily play.

Artificial sweetener=chemicals=crap. Right? Probably so. But, I consider my obesity issue a health reason for which I need to avoid refined white sugar added to things like my coffee, tea or cereal. Certainly, I could adapt and learn to consume these things without the added sweetness, but for now, I choose not. I enjoy sweet coffee. I enjoy sweet in my oatmeal. So, for now it stays on the list, all the while I know it's crap. It's just better crap than say. . .the added calories sugar would pile on to these items.

The point of this is, living healthy is not an all or nothing thing. If the majority of our food choices are healthy and our "crap" lists are used in moderation - it's OK. Certainly if human beings ate in a lab and were only fed the best of natural ingredients day in and day out, in the perfect portions, at the perfect times - well we wouldn't exactly be human would we? Of course, unless the lab was air tight and we lived there 24/7, environmental pollutants would still put chemicals into our bodies. The point being, we LIVE! We live to the best of our abilities, trying to reduce as much crap as we can, within our control.

I'm thankful that my crap list is shorter. Can you think of items that you're not willing to give up so you just work them in your healthy diet?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weight Watchers PointsPlus Just 5 Cookbook - One Word - YUM!

Today I prepared meals for the week. It's so exciting to try new recipes and I always enjoy adapting them to my own tastes.

I used the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Just Five cookbook which I picked up at my meeting a few weeks ago. We tried a couple of the recipes last week which were fantastic.

I changed just a few things. I believe these recipes would be fantastic as they are written, but the slight adaptations I made suited the tastes of my family but didn't change the nutritional value of the recipes by much.

I'm just glad my children (ages 9, 4 and 2) will eat nearly anything. I can say there were no complaints at the table this evening.

 If you are following the Weight Watchers PointsPlus program, I highly recommend getting this cookbook. The meals are easy to make and come together very quickly. I am far from a trained chef, but honestly I felt like one as I was cooking tonight. 

 Seafood Salad with Lemon and Orzo - 6 pointsplus values per serving
Ingredients for Seafood Salad with Lemon and Orzo
This was the first thing I prepared this evening. I think it will be great to pack in lunch this week.

Five ingredients:
whole wheat orzo pasta
olive oil
frozen seafood medley
red onion

Shrimp in Steamer with Bay Leaves
Unfortunately, I could not find whole wheat orzo pasta in my store, so I settled for regular orzo. I added celery and cucumber which I think were really nice additions. I also don't care for calamari or mussels so just used shrimp for this salad.  I steamed my shrimp, rather than boiled and added bay leaves for flavor. After it was all mixed together, I added a bit of dill weed.

The finished product smells and tastes so fresh and crisp. I really can't wait to have this for lunch tomorrow and the next day. Because it's seafood, that is the longest I'll trust that it's still fresh enough to eat, but with four other people in my house I have no fear that it will all be consumed. This is definitely a new favorite! This recipe alone make the purchase of the new book worth every penny.

Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Beans - 8 pointsplus values per serving
Ingredients for Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Beans
I have class with a final exam tomorrow evening. I know I won't have time to cook before I leave the house for class and any minutes I have to spare I want to spend hitting the books. I also didn't want to wait until after the test to have dinner. So I prepared tomorrow night's meal, tonight. I knew I wanted something with pasta as it warms up well.

My kids also love pasta, so that's just a little added bonus. 

Five ingredients:
whole wheat rigatoni
spicy Italian sausages
chicken broth
red beans

I substituted organic chicken sausage for regular Italian sausage as it is what we really prefer. I only added garlic and the left over red onion I had from preparing the seafood salad. Both were nice additions. This dish is so pretty and the flavor of the kale is really complimentary to the spiced sausage. I know they are going to love this one tomorrow! I sprinkled just a few red pepper flakes on top and I think we will probably have a few sprinkles of fresh Parmesan cheese to finish it off.

Scallop-Broccoli Stir-Fry - 5 pointsplus values per serving
Ingredients for Scallop-Broccoli Stir-Fry
I ventured into the unknown. I cooked with ginger, which is not something I normally cook with nor order in restaurants.

Five ingredients:
canola oil
sea scallops
reduced sodium soy sauce

So good!
I only added four more ingredients. Garlic was a must! I'm a garlic lover though. I also squeezed the juice from 1/2 a lemon. Close to the end of the recipe I added a can of water chestnuts which were a fantastic addition. We served this over Steamfresh Brown Rice (additional PointsPlus values), which is so easy to prepare (microwave for 4 1/2 minutes) and it was so good!  I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the ginger! It wasn't overpowering and this recipe would not have been as good without it.

It was a hit!
We will make this one again, for sure. It was also very pretty on the plate, which makes you feel like you've made something that would compete with something out of Chef Ramsey's kitchen ( no matter how delusional the thought LOL).

I'm also happy to report that during all this cooking and picture taking I did not get my phone wet in the process. 

Have you tried any new recipes or any new cookbooks? If so, share what you've liked recently.

Week 41 - Weigh In

My week numbers have been a bit off, when I added the weekly weight loss tab today I found this little tidbit of information, so going forward they will be correct. This is week 41! I've missed a few meetings and had a few challenges towards the end of this week - so I saw a gain. It was only a pound but just a reminder that I need to refocus again. I know with going to the trainer this week and all the fantastic food I purchased yesterday that I'm set up to have a great week.

I added two new pages to my blog. The Weekly Weigh Loss section has my weight and losses running from start to current. I really love looking at that and seeing the progress that I've made - it's a motivator to stay on track. It also shows me that in the last few weeks, while I have still seen some losses, it's slow and time to kick it up!

Additionally I added a new About Me section which is well, about me, but includes a new before and after photo.

Here's to a great week friends! Next week's weigh in is going to be great!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What's in your refrigerator?

Would you let someone look inside your refrigerator? If they did, what would they see? Are you proud of the healthy foods? Do you have any hidden little nibbles that you don't want anyone to see? If so, why is it there?

If you don't want someone else to see it - you shouldn't see it either! At least, that's what I'm saying to myself.

So, we are getting a little intimate. I'm revealing all! Here is the picture of the inside of my refrigerator. Now, obviously there are a few items that aren't the greatest choices, but in moderation, it's ok.

Would you like to join me on this mission of transparency? If so, email your refrigerator pic to and I'll include it in this post. If you wish to not have your name revealed, I'll keep it anonymous. Just send me your refrigerator pics!

This should be fun. :)

*Your email will not be collected nor used for any purpose other than receiving the picture in response to this blog.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Wake up and smell the muscles!"

I finally did it. I DID IT!! I met with a personal trainer this morning and his first words weren't, "This is Hans and Franz, and we are going to pump *clap* you up!" Which I felt was a good sign. When you are on a mission to lose 230lbs,  you have to really take steps to make that mission stay on track.

I honestly feel I have a pretty good grasp of my food choices. I'm doing well. I try to minimize temptations and for the most part my day to day feels under control. That isn't to say I don't have days that have more temptation or more struggle than others, but it's time to kick this up a notch and give myself another boost.

At the first of the year I made the goal that I would work with a personal trainer. My thought was I would just get the initial consultation, learn what I need to do on a few weight machines and then take care of the rest myself. However, I've come to realize that I need more than that. I need that appointment. I need to go to the gym and work out with a professional. I need him to push me and I need him to keep me in line.

So, I'm doing it. I met with "my trainer" today and we are set to go. Tuesday I start training.

I can't believe how much this is exciting me. I honestly can't wait to feel that soreness in my muscles, reinforcing and reminding me that I'm doing something so beneficial for myself. I can't wait to sweat and feel that complete feeling of exhaustion. Most of all, I can't wait to start seeing the results of these efforts.

Do you work out with a personal trainer or did you at one time? What was your experience?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm losing more than just weight

Several days ago I was driving in my car thinking about my weight loss, my personality, actions that pushed me to gain as much weight as I gained and of course, actions that pushed me to finally make a change in my life. I do this a lot while driving, as it is a time where I'm alone, trapped, unable to do anything else but drive, think and perhaps listen to music.

I determined on this drive that I am a creature of excess. I don't mean I'm greedy and it's not exclusive to gluttony. No, it's excess. I can't do anything moderately. From the time I was a little girl I was a spirited, opinionated, tenacious and passionate to the point of it nearly being obsessive, individual. I was a perfectionist. My emotions are just as excessive (not to be confused with a disorder like bipolar, I'm not a manic/depressive). When something makes me happy, I'm really happy, when I'm sad, I'm REALLY sad. If something pisses me off, watch out because my anger competes with that of a grizzly bear.

When I was in fourth grade my great uncle passed away. I come from a very close knit family. My family had moved nearly 1000 miles away from "home" but upon the news of his death we had to travel back. The morning we were to be leaving for the flight, I insisted on going to school. My mother wanted me to stay home but I felt I couldn't miss a day of school. Before she could stop me I was out the door and on the bus.  Two hours later she had to pick me up on the way to the airport.

My pre-teen years were no different. Anything I did it was an all or nothing deal. At 13 I was obsessed with New Kids on the Block, as many other pre-teen girls were! My fan-dom did not stop at a few mix tapes or a couple of posters, no, my room was covered, wall to wall (not a spec of white space to spare) with posters. This included the ceiling. I recorded every television spot, even if it was just a commercial for a television show. I went to every concert there was in the area. I purchased every piece of crap I could find that was about NKOTB - shirts, hats, buttons, pins, pillow cases, sleeping bags, necklaces, key chains, trading cards - you name it, I had it. My actions were over the top.

By high school, it was politics and social issues. I wanted to save the world, in between getting stoned. But, when I got stoned, I got REALLY, REALLY stoned. I had to smoke enough to be numb.  I remember (from what memories there are of the events) times when my lips were numb and my limbs tingled. I remember getting so blitzed that I nearly passed out (and sometimes did). Perhaps I was self medicating the pain I felt from all the torment of being an obese teenager. Perhaps I just wanted to get high. I don't know. I really think it was more about me not doing anything in moderation. I had that feel good feeling and I wanted it to the MAX. 

In my early twenties, it was the Internet and chats. I became addicted to technology. I would spend the day hours working and then immediately come home and get on the computer. There I would stay until I would get ready for work the next morning. Often I would go for days without sleeping. Weekends I would stay awake from Friday morning until finally crashing sometime into the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning only to wake up and do the entire week of no sleeping again.

Two years ago I decided to go back to school. My first year back in school I took 38 credit hours while working a full time job, having a baby under a year old at home. . .EXCESSIVE! I'm happy to say I did get a 4.0 during all of those terms, but could I not have been a bit more moderate in my selections? While it was beneficial to get such a large chunk of my education done during that year, I nearly broke my back and took on a major risk of failure by doing so.

This change in my life is about so much more than just dropping some weight. It is a transformation of mind, body and soul.

I'm learning to be less excessive and more accepting.

Would you consider yourself a person of excess? When reading this could you relate to any of these "non-food" binges?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A little reflecting after a very long day

Tonight, I sit here with the consistent beeping of the heart monitor keeping a steady rhythm. The soft hum of the IPC (intermittent passive compression) machine inflates and deflates around his "good" leg. I hear the chatter of the nurses at the desk outside of the door, beeps of iv pumps in other rooms and the rushing air conditioning. My husband is dozing and as I sit here in this dim, semi-quiet room I can't help but reflect. Perhaps I'm weird (well, there is no question there) but I love hospitals. I really do. Life takes place in hospitals.

Tonight, I left for a short time to get my children settled in at their grandma's house for another sleep over (they stayed with my mother last night and with my husband's mother tonight). I saw a family sobbing in the hallway. My husband's room is very close to the ICU. Two brothers, (I assumed they were brothers and they had a familial resemblance) where embracing one another, one brother comforting the other as they sobbed together. I wondered about their story - what terrible event had evoked such sadness. I assumed a loved one had passed on. I teared up a bit as I got on the elevator, said a prayer asking for comfort for the family and went on my way.

Returning this evening, when the elevator doors opened I saw over 20 people sitting in the lobby outside the ICU. The brother's were there also. Stress, sadness, anxiety and grief all filled the room. You could feel the emotions just walking passed. I realized that more than likely, whomever had brought all of these folks to this waiting room tonight, and caused the two brothers to sob and comfort one another, was still alive.

My friends, that is HOPE. What I witnessed in that lobby was LOVE. Walking down the hallway, seeing the caring nurses work so devotedly to serve their patients, that's COMPASSION. Watching the lady from one room over take her first steps on her new hip, that is a MIRACLE.

Many of life's most important events take place in a hospital. First hello's, last goodbye's, healing from tragic accidents, lives being reclaimed after severe illnesses, painful, old joints being replaced with brand new ones with the promise of a better quality of life, families coming together, some celebrating, others comforting, but sharing LOVE - all of these things, and many more, happen in this single building.  Each day the people that work in the hospital get to touch these lives, they get to comfort pain, heal the sick, share just a fraction of the love that flows in the tears of those facing some of the most difficult times of their lives. Perhaps they get to be the angel, sharing a glimmer of light in the darkest of days. Perhaps they receive a glimmer of light, in their own darkest of days.

This is why I want to be a nurse. This is why I love hospitals. I miss feeling ALL of that, the happiness and sadness, the empathy and compassion, on a daily basis.

It is my dream to become a nurse that prompted the start of my weight loss journey. As I pull yet another all-nighter, I'm reminded of my goals, which only re-motivates me. Now, I really should hit the books while I sit here in this quiet room, reminding my husband every ten minutes to hit his morphine pump button; but first, where's the coffee?

Christmas Wishes Do Come True

The day is finally here. Today, in less than six hours my husband will go to surgery to get his first knee replacement. The second will be scheduled as soon as he makes it through the several month recovery from the first. With this surgery comes hope. Hope that one day, he will walk with far less pain. He will be able to do many of the activities he has given up through years of having Rheumatoid Arthritis.

For years, a unique request has been on his Christmas list. Often it's depicted in a picture, one year it was a tree that had knobs that appeared to be knees. Another, it was frogs legs with MS Paint drawn arrows pointing at the little green knees. Each year, it was there. Often we would chuckle out of the creativity used to request said knees, but down deep, it always made my heart hurt.

So, this is it. A Christmas wish that is being fulfilled.

I'm excited, but I'm also apprehensive. This has been a major decision. Not only will he be getting new knees this year, but also a hip replacement. Each surgery carries it's own set of risks and of course, painful recovery time. Our life is changing in so many ways right now that I sometimes, for a brief moment, want to yell for the ride to stop and let me take a breather. But, time is precious and not something that should go to waste. There is no time better than now, today, to do this.  I wish it was as easy as buying a car though - and car buying is far from easy. But, buying new knees is far more difficult!

Over the weekend we had a very difficult experience. At first, I wasn't going to write about it. I spoke to my Weight Watchers group about it and was going to leave it at that. But, my blog is honesty, so I'm going to share it here as well.

On Saturday we decided it would be a nice family fun day to take the children to the Magic Kingdom. Since it's in our backyard and we have means to get free admission, we thought it would be a nice thing to do right before he went to surgery. He's been in much pain with the knees but our plan was to just walk from handicapped parking into the park (requires the monorail or ferry boat) and then rent the ECV in the park for him to drive around. We were psyched! Even though we live so close to the parks, we actually haven't taken our children. Well, correction, our nine year old has been once to the Magic Kingdom but he was a baby when we went the first time. Honestly, due to the husband's inability to walk long distances and my previous weight making an outing to an amusement park painful, we have avoided that activity. We also have wanted to keep it special for the children and I just don't think they would view it as magical and special if they went on a regular basis. Anyway, I digress.

We arrived at the park around noon. We were able to get a very close handicapped parking place, loaded our youngest children into the double stroller and set out for an amazing day! About halfway to the ferry boat loading dock, and right when the kids spotted Cinderella's castle, it happened. His knee locked up completely, he was in unbelievable pain and he had instant swelling. I helped him to a spot where he could sit down but lifting or moving the leg, moving his knee, was impossible. We sat for a short while waiting to see if he would get any relief and unfortunately, the answer was no. I went to a gift shop that was at the front and rented a wheelchair. With his arms around my neck, my arms under his, we were able to pivot him into the chair. We allowed a few more minutes to pass before making the ultimate decision to go home.

I cannot even begin to tell you how difficult it is to tell a nine year old boy, a four year old little girl and a two year old little boy that loves castles and just spotted one of the most amazing things he's ever seen; that we are going home. All three handled it very well. My daughter sobbed for a moment and then with lots of hugs and whispers in her ear that we would be back, she stopped, as she said she didn't want to make her father feel worse than he was already feeling. They love their father. They were concerned for their father. That love and compassion shined through and I have never been more proud of my kids.

The injury is pretty severe. The last few days have been extremely difficult. The bruises just keep appearing, first behind the knee, then down the calf, now the blackness has set in his ankle. Fortunately, this is the knee that he is having replaced today and the doctor took x-rays and there are no broken bones. It is suspected that he tore his ACL just from the stress of walking on the severely eroded knee. So I suppose, in some ways, if this was going to happen it's great that it did only a few days before surgery.

So yes, new knee=hope. Hope for a day in the fall that we can recreate a magically day that our family can enjoy, without pain! Hope that my husband will soon be able to reclaim much of his life back as a mobile, 36 year old man.

Goodnight friends. In two and a half hours we will be waking to go to the hospital. I am going to try to get a few winks before the big day is here.