Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two months to go

OK. It's official. I now have two months until the wedding date and I have yet to lose more than 5 pounds. The good news is that I'm perfecting the art of eating healthy. I just still eat too much.

New strategy as of Monday. I'm eating six small, tiny meals a day of very healthy food. Yesterday I had two meals that consisted of a piece of cheese and a bunch of tiny tomatoes.

I tried on wedding dress today. Yikes. It looks pretty and I know I'll have a wonderful time. The best part of being with the right man is that you don't really care if you are thin enough or pretty enough. You become content with knowing that someone loves you for who you are. Having said that, I really do want to get to a more healthy lifestyle and weight. But not for the same reasons.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Wedding menu

Well, on Monday, it's officially 2 months and counting until the big wedding date. I had a huge pow-wow yesterday with my wedding major domo (maid of honor) and we've got the timeline down, much of the rentals and the design hammered out and -- ta daaaaah -- the menu.

I'm not going to reveal all, but we are having a lot of seasonal foods and I'd love to include some foods from our own garden, such as beets and Brussels sprouts. It's going to be a four-course meal with lots of resting time in between courses. We are also using two very interesting main course foods and pairing them together instead of allowing people a choice -- less fuss when it comes to doing place cards and seating arrangements and keeping track of RSVPs.

News on our garden: It's a huge hit. The only problem is that it's hard to keep up with the weeding. This week we have not stop moving for a minute (why didn't someone tell me that school supply shopping is a major ponzi scheme by teachers who accumulate masses of dry-erase markers, clipboards, erasers and boxes of Kleenex and sell them on the black market!) We seriously have had zero down time this week and the next time we have the kids, we are on vacation Up North for a week. Fun! Am planning that menu as well and of course have to do a frontal lobotamy to get my mind away from just picking the kids' favorites and really sticking to foods that Tim and I like and enjoy. More on that menu soon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm ba-aaack! With great camping stories

I'm so sorry that I've been gone for so long, but it's been so busy, I hardly know where to start.

First, I've got a new major client and that always takes a lot of time to get them up and running. Another client has been very busy, so that usually means that I'm going to be busy. Then, the kids being home in the summer keeps me hopping as does Tim, who has been working hard as well.

The good news--aside from all my great clients--is that we got to get away as a family over the weekend camping. We went to Big Foot State Park in Lake Geneva, which I highly recommend to anyone who doesn't care for completely rugged wilderness camping. We had a terrific time. The kids were true sports, really pitching in. Isabel, the oldest, kept asking me how she could help. We always have a good time together and this weekend was no different. Eden was also a lot of fun. She and I went for a walk along the lakeshore walking path and it cracked me up how this 7-year-old walks like a 30-year-old power walker. I had a hard time keeping up (I was attached by leash to our dog) and she's just walking along, looking around and keeping up a pretty constant chatter about which houses, boats and gardens she likes. It was fun! Colin and his dad got a lot of quality time together, too (as did the girls, but it seems to be critical to Colin's wellbeing--he gets jealous when Tim takes time out for the girls one-on-one).

The other fun part was cooking together. The children always offered to help. The menu had to be creative to fit with my 'Eating Real Food' diet. They didn't even seem to notice. I had one rule, and that was we had to cook everything over the fire (and we did except the first night because we arrived at about 9 p.m.). Everything with an asterisk was not on the diet, but was considered essential by the kids. I had very little.

Friday night:
Cream cheese and onion dip
Potatoe chips *
Sliced cucumbers


Scrambled eggs and cheese

Apples and cheese

Sandwiches on sour dough bread
Potatoe salad
Chips and dip*


Turkey brats
Pesto Pasta Salad with peas *
Tomatoe slices


Blueberry buttermilk pancakes with whipped cream

Real hot dogs
Potatoe salad
Pasta salad

Fish (fresh caught) steamed
BBQ chicken
Green beans
Roasted potatoes

Jiffy pop *

Bagels and cream cheese*

Lunch (at a restaurant in Delavan)
Chopped chicken salad
Corn soup

I wasn't perfect, but it was pretty fun and the kids had a great time helping to cook. No one said they didn't like the food (and if they did, they ended up trying it and loving it anyway). Fun! Of course, Tim chowed down and, for once, I didn't eat as much as I usually do. Yay!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ideas for eating on the road

My friend Nancy is doing a lot of traveling and is looking for ideas on how to keep your lifestyle healthy. I'm going to provide some of my ideas. Everyone else please chip in!

1. Split dinners and lunches with a pal at the table.
2. If you really want to order something interesting, order it with a few people and everyone take a bite.
3. Google restaurants that are all natural, seasonal, local cuisine.
4. Ask your waiter not to use any fat other than butter or olive oil on your food.
5. Don't eat anything deep fried.
6. Carry snacks with you (this from my nutritionist) including fruits, a jar of juice, cheese, raw nuts, raw veggies and hummus. Keep it all in a small cooler that travels with you at all times.
7. Eat small meals between the big ones so you aren't as tempted.
8. Keep alcohol to a glass a day and two on Saturday.
9. Don't stop for fast food ever! Find a grocery store and have a sandwich and a piece of fruit or veggies.
10. Don't eat salads if you are hungry because you'll just be hungry again later and eat a big dessert or something. I skip salads and just get some steamed veggies with a piece of fish, lean meat or chicken. I'm more full and less tempted to cheat.

Any other ideas?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer travel/visitors

Whew! Summer is a whirlwind of traveling, visiting and visitors and the past weekend and one coming up are no exception.

Last weekend I met some of Tim's family for the first time (at least met them for any length of time). It was nervous because it's the first family get-together since Tim's separation a few years ago and I was worried I would be the outsider. Fortunately, after a bit of awkwardness at the beginning, typical of getting to know a new person (mostly on my part), it all went well. Tim's family was really gracious and we had a great time!

The hard part was the food, since I am really trying to eat seasonally and organically. Eating healthy really has a different meaning for everyone. Tim's mom had planned burgers and brats for Friday and Saturday, so I supplemented that with chicken breasts for my own eating. Her side dishes were potato salad and chips and this cream cheese onion dip (really good), but I knew I needed more veggies and fruit so I added a big fruit salad with kiwi, melon, grapes, raspberries, blueberries and a big veggie salad with artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, grape tomatoes sliced in two, broccoli, carrot slices, garbanzo beans and snow peas. The veggie salad is also yummy with salad dressing. I also made a pesto pasta salad with fresh peas and cherry tomatoes. Our collaboration went very well and we pretty much kept dipping into the same dishes all weekend.

On Sunday, we all had the Meidl Sunday traditional meal of pizza and I'll admit that I dug right in. When I came home, I wasn't surprised to find that I had gained 3 pounds, but today it's already gone. Probably water weight.

Tim's mom is great about just eating really small portions and I tried to match my portions to hers. I also stayed away from snacking except when Tim and I took all of the kids to Night at the Museum. I can't resist movie popcorn, which is why I rarely go to the movies. It was a great time and I don't regret the flubs at all.

I balanced it out this week. Yesterday, I had eggs for breakfast made by my Tim, then chicken breast, cheese and veggies for lunch on the road. Dinner was out at the Green Lantern in McFarland by boat with friends and I had steamed shrimp, broccoli and a salad. Yay me!

Now this weekend, we have guests with two children coming in to town. They are friends of Tim's from Oshkosh and I don't know their eating habits that well, although they seem pretty easy going. While I'm excited for the visit, I always stress a bit planning the menu. I want it to be good for the kids as well as the adults and I always seem to cook a bit too fancy for kids. The only blessing here is that our garden is coming in pretty lush, so the seasonal aspect will be pretty easy.

Here's what I've come up with thus far.

Friday night
Salmon on the grill (hot dogs if kids don't like salmon)
Corn on the cob
Cous cous with summer veggies and herbs
Dessert: Blueberry cobbler

Saturday breakfast
Breakfast burritos (make your own) with egg, onion, mushroom, fried taters, salsa and cheese.
Also rhubarb muffins

Saturday dinner
Ribs and chicken on the grill
Salad with oninos, radishes and raspberry vinaigrette
Potatoes sliced thin on grill
Seasonal veggie side dish (I'm heading to the Farmer's Market)
Lemon curd tart with raspberries and strawberries

Sunday breakfast
Egg frittata
Fruit salad

Sunday lunch
Pizzas on the grill

Any other suggestions?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Retreat menu/party fun!

It's taken me a few days, but here's the menu from my retreat with Tracie:

Start up: 8 a.m. Warm chai tea with milk and a little coconut oil (This is kind of like having a smoothie, but cozier).

Breakfast: 9:30 a.m. An egg and some watermelon

Snack: 11 a.m. carrot salad

Lunch: 12:30 p.m. Veggie broth soup and watermelon

Snack: 2:30 p.m. egg custard with raspberry sauce

Dinner: 5 p.m. (this was on my own) Chicken breast with a sauteed mesclun salad topped with onions and fresh strawberries and a little olive oil and raspberry vinegar.

I went to the best birthday party last night: my friend Patti's 50th and all of her appetizers were from the 50s. The food was fun (gherkins rolled around coldcuts that had been smeared with cream cheese, wieners wrapped in croissant dough "pigs in a blanket" and cheese whiz and green olives on Ritz crackers), but it was also a showcase of how food got "bad" right about 1959. The snack was a bunch of Hostess cupcakes, Twinkies and Hohos. We drank Harvey Wallbangers (o.j., vodka and Galliano) and Cosmos.

I had a couple of everything, but fortunately it all tasted so bad, my favorite treat was the cucumber slices and the fruit Kabobs with really yummy pineapple and watermelon.

We did have a terrific time dressing up. My expensive beehive fell before the party even started and my friend Tori saved the day by pinning it up.

I hope you like the photos. The one on the left are two very good friends who love to dress up (and do a good job) and the one on the right is my "greaser" guy, Tim.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A retreat with my nutritionist!

Today, Tracie and I are in a writing retreat all day. I'm working on the writing and she's going to work on my diet. All day, I'll be eating what she says I'm to eat (and she has to say what I write). Fair trade, right? I'll post later to let you know what we ate. Right now we're enjoying a filling cup of hot chai tea with a tablespoon of coconut oil in it. She says it will set me up for the morning!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Heat drives the drive right out of me!

The heat is so dense and moist that the thought of working in my garden makes me itch. I have broccoli that needs cutting and eating, however, and the carrots and the salad needs weeding. I also have lots of greens that need picking.

Tonight, believe it or not, I'm making a lovely grass-fed pot roast with taters and a big green salad with sauteed broccoli on it.

Oops. Gotta go. Tim wants to take the kids fishing! More later.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Best dinner ever!

I love it when it's high fresh food season! Tim and I had the greatest dinner on Thursday night as follows:

Roasted free range chicken breasts with organic lemon pepper seasoning, salt and a speck of butter.
Sauteed spring greens in onions and red peppers
Steamed asparagus with salt, pepper and a tiny drizzle of hazelnut oil.

It was so delicious. Then, last night I had a similarly terrific dinner with free-range chicken breasts grilled with herbs and a huge salad of mesclun greens and buttercrunch greens with radishes, steamed broccoli and purple young onions -- all from our garden. I also sliced some organic tomatoes on top. Tim and the kids had brats, but I was thrilled with my chicken. For dessert we had some all natural ice cream (Hagen Daz) and some strawberries from our garden. Yummmy! I just had a little ice cream, but it was the perfect ending. I felt so great. I had one glass of wine and some lemon water. It was a great dinner. The kids were busy with happy chatter to their Dad and I, we all loved what we were eating and no one felt yukky after dinner from eating too much. The kids tried the salad and although it was a bit different than an iceberg lettuce salad with a ton of dressing, they still liked it a bit.

My latest happy discovery is Pellegrino water. I just love it. When I feel like a soda, I just buy that instead and I'm always happy and refreshed.

I'm finding that I'm feeling really good lately. I can tell my stomach is getting smaller and I'm definitely having more energy. I played soccer last night with Colin (he's pretty impressed with my scoring ability), and ran all over the backyard. I dasn't step on a scale because I'm starting to do the hop-on-hop-off thing and that can get hairy. I did have to wear a bathing suit on a boat on Sunday and it was scary. I have a pretty full-coverage suit and a large coverup. I always remember feeling that my legs were my best asset if I covered up everything else. I want to feel more comfortable in a suit!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another pound bites the dust!

Happy, happy, happy day! I'm down another pound. I love that I am hopping on the scale now and looking down to see another pound gone. It's fun! That's 7 total so far and I'm really happy to be close to getting into a lower weight decade.

(BTW: I can tell I've not been a newspaper reporter for a while, by the way, by the drastic increase in the number of exclamation marks I use [almost used another one there]).

At any rate, today I'm going to stop eating all leftovers and focus once again on eating fresh foods. Lately, it's been a festival of eating leftovers that are "almost right" or "not at all right."
Below is a recipe I'm going to try tonight as I also want to get my Tim some healthy foods as he is working so darn hard around here. I think I'll serve it with lamb chops.

Asparagus Citrus Salad (from The Daily Green recipe list).

1 bunch fresh asparagus spears, ends trimmed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
small block Parmesan cheese (optional)

3-4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
zest of half a lemon
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
extra virgin olive oil
1 blood orange, peeled and segmented (leftovers reserved)
1 orange, peeled and segmented, (leftovers reserved)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup), and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until bright green and tender-crisp.
2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, honey, lemon zest and mustard in a bowl and slowly whisk in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Plate asparagus and drizzle liberally with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Top with orange and blood orange segments and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette, to taste. Garnish with thin ribbons of Parmesan cheese.

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Diet Help - Baby Raccoons

No, you don't eat the baby raccoons. But if you have them in your house, the smell will gross you out to such an extent that you won't want to eat. Just thinking about them will make you go off your feed, although alcoholic beverages will seem more appropriate as the duration of their stay goes on.

I haven't eaten much since Friday, at least not while at home, except for a delicious fish feed put on by Tim last night, but even then I didn't have more than one small serving. On Thursday evening, my oldest stepdaughter, Isabel, called to report that our dog was playing with a baby raccoon in our backyard. I was at a picnic with Eden, the 7 year old, so I told her to find her Dad, who was outside gardening. When Eden and I got home, there were two baby raccoons in our dog kennel and Tim was up a tree rescuing a third. At first, they seemed cute, but they quickly became stinky. And the smell is so funky (kind of like the smell of bad dog food) that you don't want to be anywhere near them. The neighbor dog had already killed one who had wandered out of the tree and the mom had been killed more than a week ago by the neighbor after it attacked his dog (and a second baby would be killed by the dog later). So there were really no options for the tender-hearted Meidl clan.

They seemed fine on Friday morning when we got up, but by Sunday morning, Jasper (Isabel named them Jasper, Monkey and Bandit) seemed quite ill and barely alive. So Isabel began to valiantly use a straw to feed him watered down milk every couple hours-even through the night. Not the right formula for a baby raccoon, but it was all we could do. They are taking them to the Humane Society Wildlife Center this morning hoping to drop them off to be "rescued." Poor little, stinky critters.

In the interim, the mud room where they have been staying has become so funky, stinky and noxious that one must hold one's breath while scuttling through as quickly as possible to avoid any of the stinkage clinging to one's clothing. The damage to appetite, however, will already be done.

I've called about a thousand numbers trying to find someone to take them off our hands. No one returned our calls, thus we are doing the dropoff at the Humane Society's Wildlife Center. I hate to contemplate their fates.

To partially quote Churchill, "nevah, nevah, nevah, nevah" take in a baby raccoon. Much less three of them. It is, however, an excellent supplement to a diet.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Seasonal Notes: Rhubarb, Morels and Asparagus

With May each year comes the gardener's delight at once again having fresh veggies and fruit available for their dinner table. Yay I say! For me, lettuce and radishes pale in comparison to rhubarb, morels and asparagus. I eat asparagus almost every day in May and June: in my eggs, steamed with a meat or fish, sauteed with rice and pureed for soup (which I freeze)! Here's a terrific article form the New York Times listing a few recipes and praising the yummy flavor of asparagus.

Sure, it's delicious, but I also have such fond memories of hunting asparagus with my Grandpa and Grandma Schwenn along fence lines in rural Dane County. Walking carefully so you don't inadvertantly snap off a stalk in a less-than-optimal spot, you would push aside the tall grass. The hunt made it seem all the more precious. If anyone had asparagus gardens back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I sure didn't know them. Now, of course, my parents have a large asparagus garden and everytime I head out there, they load me up.

The same is true of rhubarb (I love it, eat it a ton and get it from my parents). My honey Tim's favorite is a rhubarb custard pie, which I've finally mastered to the approval of my stepchildren. They have even asked me to make it over their Grammy, who is the state champ at making rhubarb custard pie. Here's the recipe:

3 slightly beaten eggs
2 2/3 Tablespoons milk
2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups rhubarb
Mix all together and put into a pie crust (I use Pillsbury in a box when I'm in a pinch--it's the only frozen or refrigerated that's any good.) and then bake at 400 for 60 minutes. I've also made the custard without the crust and then put ice cream on top. Yummm.

Finally, morels are another favorite. I want to learn how to forage for my own since they can cost anywhere between $10 and $20 a pound. I only like them one way: sauteed on their own with garlic, onions, butter and salt and pepper. The kids even ate them and liked them -- although one waited until they were cold. Not a good time to try them.

I also want to share a very cool Web site my friend Amanda posted on Facebook today. Eatwellguide.org has some of my favorite local businesses on it. Put in your zip code and you'll find all of the best local, sustainable businesses (restaurants, farmers markets, co-ops, farmers, etc.) in your area.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weight, weight go away (and don't come again).

Well, another two pounds has left the building! Yay. It's clear to me that my renewed sense of energy and commitment is paying off! More later, but it's a kids week and I'm swamped!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Welcome new family member!

Before anyone gets too excited, please understand that the new member is not a child—at 47 years old, I consider this new family member better than a child because I'm too old to take care of an infant! It's a new Viking range. A gigantic 60-inch-6-open-burners-with-24-inch-griddle/simmer-plate-and-two-ovens-hallelujah-Viking range. For a cook it's definitely the holy grail of ranges.

I got it from a couple who are interior design clients. I love these clients for so many reasons. Yes, they are very picky and occasionally make me do something over, but they always pay me for my time realizing that it would be impossible for me to always know their taste as it is very, very specific. They never quibble about bills, they understand me and my aesthetic, they trust my taste and are extremely loyal. So when they began redesigning their Madison-area kitchen (they also have homes in Illinois and Florida), they asked if I'd like their range as they didn't like the gas ovens and wanted something different. Of course, I said yes.

We're going to have to reconfigure a part of our kitchen to make it work, but we'll make it work 'as God is my witness!'

As for my latest nutrition research, I've been checking out Matt Stone's Web site at 180-Degree Health. He's another of those who believe that eating Whole Foods is the way to go, that diet foods ruin your metabolism by affecting your endocrine system and other ideas.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Do it the right way—for yourself!

I've made a lot of stupid choices for the sake of weight loss: becoming a vegan without a plan for eating enough protein and taking vitamins; trying the cabbage soup diet; fasting for days; and the biggie—an eating disorder in my late teens and 20s.

But I never tried diet pills, thank goodness. Already made crabby by dieting, I would have been impossible to live with had I tried them.

Good Housekeeping has a great story in its June issue about 5 women who once took diet pills, but only managed to lose the weight when they went on sensible diets with a true commitment for exercise (except one woman with muscular dystrophy who did it on diet alone). One woman in particular had dieted almost constantly since high school taking diet pills and after she had her first child, her husband asked her to lose weight without taking them. I guess he didn't like the potential for health problems or perhaps her mood while taking them.

Also in the article is an excellent essay by Geneen Roth, a recovered food addict whom I've long admired, about dealing with the "Contant Food Critics" in your life. Every person trying to lose weight over time has them. I know I do, but I just try to remember that they care about me and just want me to succeed. But I also wonder, how does their constant criticism affect people's dieting attempts. Those five women trying to lose weight using the pills might have tried them in an attempt to make easier something for which they were being criticized. Who knows, because the articles don't say. But I do think it's really important to remember that the critics love you (probably) and the best thing to say is, "It's my body and I'll decide how to do this."

I do find myself wanting to lose weight in part to satisfy the criticism of others (especially my ex-husband and perhaps an ex=boyfriend or two), but I am forcing myself to only think of myself. For a long time, I didn't understand why needing to please others was a problem in losing weight. Now I do. The reason is that when it comes to making choices, if you aren't making choices because you want to hold yourself accountable but rather are thinking of others at the time, you aren't going to make the same choice. The emotions surrounding your relationship with the other person (acceptance, respect, security, belonging, guilt, etc.) will interfere every time. It's only when you know that you are important enough to take seriously, when you know that you need to do a great job managing your own life and when your ideal is to act from your highest self instead of your emotional, crazy self will you make the right choices.

Here's to loving yourself enough to do it right!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Blubber Blahs

There's something about being overweight that creates not just a physical lethargy, but an emotional one too. Funny thing, the best cure for both is a good bit of exercise. Something I am always loath to do when the blahs set in.

The meds have definitely been helping. I have been able to face herding three distracted children, keep the kitchen relatively clean, make three meals a day and still get lots of projects done outside. What I haven't been able to do is get a little "me" time, which is so valuable when trying to lose weight.

And now here it is Monday morning, and it's crucial that I get together a shopping list for the week, complete with meal plan. I had blahs for several hours this morning, so I laid-abed reading a cheery book and eating a cheese sandwich (yikes!).

So I'll be using my trusty blog to help me do my planning. Now that Tim is up to his eyebrows in handyman work for the summer (busy through June for sure), I need to also make sure the food satisifies his larger appetite (he continues to lose weight and weighed in recently at 168 -- although he's up to 174 again now).

Lunch: Leftover pasta salad with watermelon
Dinner: Salmon, salad, and asparagus (from Mom and Dad's garden).

Breakfast: Salmon & asparagus frittata and fruit on the side
Lunch: Cottage cheese, fruit and veggie salad
Dinner: Hamburgers (no bun) with veggie salad and grilled potatoes

Breakfast: Cottage cheese, fruit and a piece of sourdough toast
Lunch: leftover frittata and veggies with watermelon
Dinner: Roast chicken on the grill, snow peas and potatoes

Breakfast: 2 eggs and fruit
Lunch: open-faced turkey and cheese sandwich with veggies and hummus
Dinner: Venison steaks on the grill, asparagus and potatoes

Breakfast: 2 eggs and fruit
Lunch: yogurt and fruit and veggies with hummus
Dinner: Fish and baked fries and vegetable salad

That's all for now. I'll plan the weekend on Thursday or so. Now I'm off to ride my horse, which never fails to dispel the Blubber Blahs.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Feeling better already!

Wow. Only four days on the Armour and today I'm noticing a difference. I'm still having a hard time sleeping, but today I feel the weight of depression totally lifted off of me for the first time in months! I feel happy, excited and—here's the difference—hopeful! I'm not typically a depressed person, so I think I've had lots of happiness, but it's always been muted for the past 2-3 years. Today, for the first time in absolute ages, I feel this awesome sense of hope.

The most interesting part of it is that I really hadn't noticed that I didn't feel hopeful. I knew I was a little off, but didn't think it was a big deal. Well, feeling this exhilaration and happiness makes such a big difference that I now know it was probably affecting my mood more than I knew.

Here's the kicker. I feel hopeful about losing weight. Before it almost felt overwhelming. I would go off my food plan because it really didn't seem to matter what I did. This morning, I made excellent choices because I knew it would matter. I had a high-fiber cereal with my organic milk and didn't make another choice that was tempting me and has before (toast with butter and probably lots of it).

Last night was an odd night for mealtime. My oldest stepdaughter had her State Fair, which is a display her class puts on. Each child researched a state and had a small booth that included smells, taste, feeling and sound, plus an extensive book about each state. So we got to taste a lot of flavors. So, I did taste a few things, but you had to take your time. Within a very short time, I was totally full. I had a wonderful smoked halibut spread, a pork and pineapple delicacy, a really nice blueberry crunch and some elk sausage. I didn't have more than a bite of each. It was amazing how full I was!

It gave me an idea for a dinner to cook for kids and I'm thinking I'll just make a few small dishes of items they've never had, but that are healthy, and we'll each have a bite or two before going on to the next item. Stretch it out over an hour and we'll get full faster, have a fun adventure and not break the calorie bank!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yay for Armour!

Well, I finally made it to my doctor and was so thrilled to get a prescription finally to address my low thyroid. I've been feeling so tired lately, constantly slightly depressed, having insomnia, dry skin around my ears and back (yuk) and a pretty low temperature, that I knew I was having trouble. Also the fact that, while not perfect, I have been doing better on my weight loss efforts and the scale is barely budging.

I'm taking Armour thyroid, a natural thyroid replacer. My sister takes synthroid (synthetic) and has been for 20 years. She recently lost almost 100 pounds and is running the 1/2 Madison Marathon this weekend. I'm so proud of her.

I just love summer menus, don't you? Since I was out and about last night, the kids had pesto pasta with green peas in it (I also add spinach and zucchini puree to it for a boost in vitamins). I was out with the girls and had 3 drinks and a glass of wine over 4 hours! We also had some shrimp, feta cheese and sundried tomatoes and two thin-crust pizzas. Not the healthiest, but I'm back on the wagon today. This morning I had cottage cheese with blackberries, rapsberries and strawberries. For lunch, I'm havin a little leftover pesto pasta (just a bit) and some sugar snap peas and chicken breast (about 2 oz). For dinner I'm having grilled chicken, sweet potato fries and broccolini. I'll probably also grill some tomatoes (I love that!)

I'm waiting for Tracie to weigh in on my food journal to see if I'm doing better.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My first visit to the Trautman Farm

Yesterday, I finally braved the Trautman Family Farm on my own. They provide grass-fed meats: veal, beef, lamb, pork and chicken. It was a lovely trip over to Stoughton. They also sell beeswax products, coconut oil, honey (Bee Barf) and eggs. I found everything reasonable and came away with some discounted lamb chops, a tip roast and some wieners. We're going to try the wieners out on the kids (apparently they are the best tasting wieners ever) and the roast on Monday night. Tim and I will eat the lamb on the grill tonight (it's my birthday, so we're celebrating with a cookout).

The farm is open on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, or you can place an email order and arrange a pickup time to your convenience. I paid in cash (they also accept checks).

I love the idea of directly supporting a farmer who uses humane and healthy farming practices, but I do know there are many other resources in the area if you can't get to a farm. Again, I love Paoli Local Produce (the Ruegseggers run it and they have a farm) and Willy St. Coop also sells local meats.

I was sad to hear that Artamos closed (formerly located at Whitney Square next to the Seafood Center. I always felt they could do a better job advertising.

I'd love to hear of any other resources for grass-fed meats, fish sources, etc.

Friday, May 15, 2009

In Praise of Coconut Oil

I had a very inspiring meeting with my nutritionist yesterday. In the meeting was another of her clients, who had come to her to help solve her irritable bowel issues. Interestingly enough, that client was drinking coffee with a heaping spoon of coconut oil and a little real maple syrup. Yum, she said. She calls coconut oil (which comes in a solid, white form) her miracle drug. Not only has she lost a little weight by eating it, but her bowel issues have greatly reduced and are about gone, I believe. My goal this week was to do more research on coconut oil and then add it to my diet daily.

My nutritionist, Tracie Hittman, has always loved coconut oil, but I was afraid of the taste. Today I added it in my coffee. It was virtually tasteless. It just added a little body to the coffee and a little oiliness which I didn't mind at all. I also fried my eggs in it and it tasted great! All I could taste was the egg, and when I use butter, I really taste the butter.

For research, Tracie steered me to the Weston A. Price Foundation Web site. It's a scientific organization that promotes the eating of real foods. It has researched many issues surrounding food and is a key player in the movement toward eating real foods. I see that they also praise coconut oil as being among the few fats that are truly healthy.

So this week, I'm going to experiment by trying the coconut oil. I'm going to try to stick to my same diet, but substituting coconut oil for butter at least a couple times a day. I'll weigh myself now and at the end of the week and see how it goes. I'll also note my moods, my hunger levels and my fatigue levels.

Next week I go to the doctor-- Ann Stanger, M.D. -- to take a look at my thyroid levels. Although much of my thyroid damage can be solved with food, I believe, I'd still like the help of taking Armour or another natural thyroid until my body is more healed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yay, weight does go down

Well, I'm happy to report that my weight has gone down for the third week in a row. Not a lot, but I'll take even a pound or two. I really don't want to do this the wrong way and just get thin for the wedding and then find out that it's easy to gain it all back. Inch-by-inch, rather than hell-bent-for-leather is my preferred method.

So I am now down officially four pounds after gaining back everything I had previously lost. Time to update the ledger!

I watched the Biggest Loser last night and was a bit scared! Did anyone but me notice how ill the two top losers looked and how fat many of the others still looked? Yikes. Usually I'm so thrilled at everyone's journey, but so many had really failed to make significant inroads. Carla and Joelle both have lost some weight (Carla lost over 100 pounds), but she still has a long way to go. One of the sisters--Mandi or Aubrey—had actually gained weight since the show. But I was totally horrified at how Helen looked. I'm hoping she did eat in the past two months! Her skin hung, her skin didn't shine (at least it didn't look like it did), meanwhile the host, Allison Sweeney, looked marvelous.

I am proud of our girl Tara on the show. She really seemed to be focusing on strength and health and not being skinny. I like that. I hope she continues to lose another 5 pounds, or whatever she feels she has left and does it in a healthy way. She really seemed to be the true spokesmodel. Nicole looked good and so did Estelle, Jerry's wife. Jerry, the at-home winner, looked near death. I have to say that the horrible appearance of those two winners (Jerry far worse than Helen) seemed to contrast horribly with the excitement surrounding the weigh ins.

Today, I have a pot of Chicken Stew simmering on the stove. I put all of my edible vegetable scraps in a pot after soaking the flavor out of leftover chicken bones. It smells so great! And I clean out my veggie drawer before anything goes bad. Another reason to love a rainy day—it reminds me to make soup.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Motivation Help

Here's some motivation help from Women's Health my friend Sue sent me. There are some really great tips for staying motivated, including the first one which is my favorite!

Healthy picnics!

Picnic and barbecue season is here and there's no more reliable way to fall off the wagon in the summer than forgetting to adhere to your rules while picnicking. I'm hosting a Mother's Day picnic for family and friends today and, although every food won't be low calorie, they will still fit into our food plan.

Grilled chicken and grass fed burgers
Sourdough buns
Organic pickles, catsup and mustard (I love mustard!)
blue cheese potato salad with vegetables
cheesy potatoes (from my mom)
Fresh vegetable salad
fruit salad
rhubarb custard with real ice cream
lime curd with fruit

I'd love any suggestions of other options. Obviously fresh sliced tomatoes later in summer will be great!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My garden and my hormones!

We are putting in a huge garden. Here's a photo from about a week ago as Tim is rototilling in our compost! The area is about 100 x 20 feet and includes beans, peas, 7 kinds of tomatoes, 10 kinds of peppers, 5 kinds of greens, red and white onions, garlic, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, squash, potatoes, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, Brussels sprouts and herbs.

Now for the hormones. Be warned: this is going to get personal. Since about mid December I've not been getting my period. I just thought that since I was 46, perhaps I was repeating what a few of my friends had gone through and was hitting menopause early. That's fine with me. Although my nice little stepson wants us to have a baby boy, I'm not interested in complying! Too hard on my body and a lot of work. Three new children is already a lot of work. Then, bammo, last Friday the darn thing reappeared. What the. . . ?

Well, a little research on Woman to Woman, a Web site on women's health indicated that hypothyroidism can make your menstrual cycle irregular. (Naturally, Tracie had already told me that, but I really thought it was menopause.) As you may remember, I have a confirmed case of Hashimoto's thyroiditis as per the UW oncology department (no cancer, just my immune system attacking my thyroid). Hashimoto's results in reduced leves of thyroid hormone in your body. Symptoms are increased lethargy, depression, weight gain and other hormonal imbalance-issues such as hair loss, irritability, dry skin patches and period irregularity. But, because I'm eating foods that support my hormone production rather than throw it off wack, perhaps this is a sign that I'm doing better! Yay.

On May 19, I'm going to see Dr. Stanger, a medical doctor who supports natural medicine. Just a couple miles from my house, she will take some tests to see where my T levels are at and, hopefully, prescribe a natural medicine to stabilize my thyroid levels so that I don't have to deal with the symptoms I suffer: weight loss resistance, lethargy, dry skin and isomnia. Yay! But I'm really hoping to make the largest change with my eating habits.

All there is going pretty well. if I can just stay away from the processed foods a bit more (although I'm doing so much better) and stick to the real foods, I'll be good. A big part of that is continuing my habit of just buying the foods we are going to eat over the next couple days. We're going to clean out our fridge a bit more and really be eating fresh.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Choices for May

My friend Nancy and I share May as a birthday month. We're both going to think of one healthy habit to engage in for the entire month that puts our health first. While she's thinking, I've come up with mine!

I'm going to buy our dinner daily or almost daily. We have the same thing for breakfast here: I have two eggs in an organic tortilla with a tiny bit of cheese and some veggies and the kids have cereal and milk with bananas or yogurt and fruit. So I keep that on hand. I also have a sandwich (one piece of bread) for lunch most days, so I keep those supplies on hand. But for dinner, I've been eating out of the fridge and so often nothing I have matches. I have celery, but nothing to stuff it with or to cook it with (I can't stand raw celery-too blah). Sometimes i do use it in soup, but often I don't have enough soup fixings. I have a beautiful bunch of organic, local spinach that needs to be eaten, but nothing to cook it with (I'm remedying that today). So to prevent foods from going to waste, I'm going to shop more often and eat it while it's fresh!

Any other suggestions on healthy changes to make?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Welcome little Laura!

My friend and follower Ann has had her baby! Laura Violet appeared some time yesterday and is apparently doing well, as is her mother. I am continually amazed by Ann's ability to be healthy, fit and cheerful while very pregnant. Now she's going to amaze me further by continuing to do so while nursing an infant and running after her busy toddler Ray.

Having three stepchildren who appeared in my life just over a year ago—and really only in earnest since last June—I can't imagine the thrill of raising your own baby. You get to decide how you want to proceed, how much to spoil and how to pursue that goal of raising a responsible adult.

Which brings me to my real point. When you are raising your child, what would you think of a parent who chooses to put unhealthy food into that child. I rarely do it with my stepchildren. In fact, they tend to eat better than I do. So, I'm going to pretend that everything I eat, they will have to eat. I want them to have good eating habits. They serve themselves and it must include at least a bit of everything (I sneak pureed vegetables into dishes so that I don't have to force feed them vegetables). They have to clean their plate, so we tell them to start with just a little food and only add more if they are really hungry. And if they are full, they can stop—they just can't have dessert (wasting was a huge problem when we met). They are getting really good at gauging how much they want to eat and only eating that much so they have room for dessert. It's funny how kids don't really like to stuff themselves! I remember those days.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bye-Bye Soda, But I Can't Give Up Coffee

I am so darn in love with coffee, and now the new book Biggers Loser trainer Jillian Michaels has written, "Master Your Metabolism" suggests that you stop. No way Jose! I'll do a lot for weight loss—give up my favorite cereals, cut way down on bread, stop eating pasta except once a month and get rid of diet soda—but there's no way I'll give up coffee. I will, however, limit it to 2-3 cups a day. Satisfied?

Soda on the other hand is easier. I find that I still crave it at times, but when I finally get one, it doesn't taste good, which makes the weird cravings seem a bit diabolical (what is the secret ingredient?). I've never been a fan of sugar sodas because I don't really like sweets that much. On the other hand, I've been known to have up to 4 diet colas a day! I alternated loyalty between Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke—the whole Diet Dr. Pepper thing never caught on with me like it has with others I know and Diet 7-Up is a joke. It's barely even soda! But the ingredients in the diet colas have finally forced me to give it up (not to mention whatever it is that makes me crave it when I don't even like the flavor). I can no longer truck with the fake sugars, fake flavoring and other insidious miscellany.

Bye-bye soda!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Local Produce is Everywhere!

My learning curve on buying local is extremely steep! I thought it would be easy: just shop at the farmers markets. But what about when you need something mid-week? Or buying a food that isn't produced locally? (Don't buy it some would say, but I'm not quite there yet. I love my pineapples!)

Well, I'd go broke running to Whole Foods every day (and they don't use a lot of local growers), so I'm looking for other resources. First, I am planting a garden—a big one—for this summer. Tim is a great gardener and together we plan to grow and pick enough vegetables to take us into winter either through canning or freezing. But we aren't quite ready to grow all of our vegetables (we won't grow mushrooms, corn, broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, for example).

Well, I can go to Williamson Street Coop, but the problem there is that all of the vegetables, etc. aren't from local growers. Some are, some aren't. But it's a good backup plan. Fortunately for me, there's Paoli Local Foods, just a couple miles from my house. I could ride my horse there (and I might try it some day.) They have a wonderful, wide variety of grass-fed, locally grown meats from Ruegsegger Farms (Ken and Sherrie Ruegsegger operate it). They also have locally grown honey, organic essentials and a farmers market every Saturday.

There are also many CSA's in the area, including Ruegseggers who run a meat CSA. To find them, go to the Web site for Madison Area Community Support Agriculture Coalition. Many are already full for the year, but there are still some really fun places accepting orders. Each has their own specialty. We are planting a lot of heirloom vegetables in our garden, but if we didn't we'd specifically look for a CSA that offered heirloom vegetables.

Finally, it seems to me the the key to having plenty of locally grown fruit and vegetables year round is canning and freezing. I'm not a huge lover of canned vegetables, but I do like canned tomatoes and pickles. My friend Sue always has a lot of frozen blueberries and I love it when she shares. My mom always has raspberry and strawberry freezer jam, another favorite and Tim's mom saved the day when she froze a ton of rhubarb for us last year. We've had rhubarb custard pie at least once a month all year (Tim's fave). You don't have to grow your own to can and freeze. Buy tons when it's in season or during pick your own time and then get to it. The Farmgal's Web site provides you with instructions on both if it's new to you, as does this one for Pick Your Own.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why do I do what I do?

In my last blog—a week ago now—I mentioned Nina Planck. Well, I ran right out to Borders and bought their last copy. What a great book. It's not the typical book about food with recipes and resources (although there are some resources). It really provides the science behind the idea. I love it. It really helps with some of those questions I have about why certain foods are better. It also backs up what Tracie has been telling me.

I also had the opportunity to learn why I sometimes choose to eat foods that aren't part of my plan. Thursday night I heard Dolores Kokinos of The Empowerment Cafe speak about the Empowerment Principles. The principles are guidelines that help you understand why you do what you do and how your thinking affects those behaviors. Instead of saying 'I have no willpower' now, I now know that I fail to put myself first in almost every situation.

Basically, Ms. Kokinos said that to be fully happy and empowered in life, you need to feel well-grounded in terms of Security, Belongingness, Respect, Intention and Acceptance in all areas of your life (she breaks them into Relationships, Spirituality, Career, Health and Play). I realized that in my Relationships and Health areas, I always put other people first, feeling that I don't respect myself as much as I should. It's been a pattern in my life to feel that people won't respect me unless I go overboard helping them out.

I also have some shakiness in the Security aspect of my life (that means that when Security is good, I feel good, but when it's not good, I feel bad—whereas if someone doesn't appear to be Accepting me for who I am, I'm still feeling good because I am strong in that area. I've never had to fit in with the crowd.)

Wait, now that I think about it, my Belongingness is strong because I don't have to fit into a crowd. Perhaps my Acceptance is shaky as well because I feel that people won't Accept me if I'm not thin and that worries me, so I do too much. Hmmm. Now I get it. I have no problem speaking up for myself and I almost always garner Respect for my skills (almost always). So perhaps when it comes to Career, I'm more worried about Respect, but for Health and Relationships, it's more about Acceptance. Now that I think about it, that makes a lot more sense.

I do remember when I was thin, there were some people that were always watching me to mess up in other aspects of my life (romance, work, etc.) and then would be very harsh with me. I hated that. I felt very unworthy of the accolades, but really hating their antagonism. I also hated unwanted attention from men. If I wanted it, I liked it. But gross old men or someone's boyfriend, I hated. I had almost forgotten that. It's not that I thought everyone hated me or wanted me. It was really just the mean girls and the guys I didn't like. They're the ones who scared me the most.

She also taught us to look at our behaviors and assess which type of emotions (Avoiding, Denying, Sabotage, Defending or the good one, Embracing) you are using in those behaviors. So here goes. . .

Eating the wrong foods when I know they are wrong: Avoiding or Denying, meaning that I am not believing that I am deserving or worth making the right choice—too expensive—or waiting to diet tomororw.

Not exercising: Avoiding or Denying.

Not writing down what I eat: Avoiding or denying.

Hmm. I have to get a little deeper, but I think Avoiding is the real emotional behavior here. I do it too when it comes to balancing my checkbook. If I don't balance it, then I won't know that I don't have any money (what do you mean I don't have any money, I have plenty of checks!)

Ok, so I am avoiding dealing with food and exercise because in part I want to pretend it's not a problem and also because then I don't have to put myself first, which is scary. Those who know me may not think so, because I can be very outspoken, but I have felt a little panicky when I start losing weight, even though I often feel good.

Well, to deal with this today, I'm going to print out my food journal and write down the two eggs, blackberries and grapes and English muffin (woops on the E.m.) I had for breakfast. Then go to the fridge and plan what we will eat today. It's rainy outside, so I won't be walking (it's also windy and really kind of dark). But I will go do 100 situps and at least 5 pushups. Wait, I'll do it all before I sign off.

Ok food journal is printed. For snack I'm having gelatin in fruit juice. For lunch I'm having leftover cold baked chicken with sugar snap peas. For afternoon snack I'm having some cottage cheese with strawberries and for dinner I'm having leftover ribs with green beans.

Now for the exercise: Oh my gosh! Those crunches were harder than I thought. But I did about 103 and the pushups were ok. I did 5 (I probably could have done 8.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Viva Nina Planck

First order of business is to state that I did a horrible job of staying on diet this weekend. I won't go into the list, but I capped it off last night with a healthy serving of Tim's pizza. It's so delicious--I have to find a way to fit it into my diet on a regular basis when I've been doing good. Not a topper on an already bad weekend.

My friend Nancy is in town—she's a frequent commenter on the blog—and we talked about why we are having trouble. At first we both had excuses. The kids won't eat what we do, the men in our lives are skinny and eat what we can't, we're under pressure, we don't have time to work out. But the real truth is, we're not giving it 100 percent.

What does 100 percent look like? Well, I can't answer for Nancy, but for me it means always eating less food than my eyes would like me to have. Always finding time for exercise, even a walk with the dogs, and always eating real foods rather than processed foods. Shopping the farmers markets rather than the supermarkets whenever possible.

I discovered Nina Planck's Web site today, and she's a real inspiration. She's the true champion of the small food farmer and has written a book talking about how when you eat real food—not low-fat makeover foods with tons of additives and less nutritional value—you'll be healthy and feel good. Her book, Real Food, shares why butter is good for you, but the polyunsaturated oils are not. Why grass-fed beef is a superfood and why those who don't get enough Omega-3 oils are in trouble.

Today, I'm going to do my best to only eat real foods and, even though my guy or kids won't always, I will make what's best for me no matter what.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friends in town

This has been a fun weekend! Lots of visitors from out of town. Tim's brother is in town as is his mom and stepdad, so we've had lots of delicious food in the house. Then tonight, my friend Nancy (and blog follower), is in town for an interview for a job on Monday, so we of course had to eat when we got together. Here's the thing. I want to be a great hostess, but still stay on the healthy eating plan.

So tonight, I made Nancy leftover roast chicken, roasted garlic potatoes and spinach gratin (which she doesn't really like) and noodles alfredo. She did a great job and stuck to a few potatoes, chicken and a bite of spinach. Whereas, I enjoyed some of the noodles, a few bites of chicken and a large serving of the spinach gratin. (She's editing as I type.)

So I want to really think about what I'm eating in terms of how to feed those I love without feeling like I have to overdo, German grandmother style. Tomorrow, I'm going to make a nice fruit salad with yogurt for breakfast. I think we'll do some lean meat on a salad for lunch with a nice piece of bread and dinner will be something a bit more fun (I'll just have less).

Tim's brother, who's a real honey, bought treats for everyone today -- chips and salsa. Fortunately, I don't like them and won't feel tempted. Nancy, on the other hand, says she would have eaten half the bag if she would have known before we had dinner. (Ouch, that smack hurt, Nancy!) I guess, the moral to this story is that different foods trigger pigouts, and I have to be conscious of bringing foods around me that aren't my own brand of comfort foods.

So when guests come into town, I need to plan for their comfort, which might be healthy foods and not fattening foods that are misguidedly meant to love and nurture them. They want to feel good as much as I do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recipes from America's Test Kitchen

This weekend a kind friend loaned me her DVDs she purchased from America's Test Kitchen, the PBS show that airs on Saturdays at noon. The test kitchen does dozens of tests on recipes to find the best methods and ingredients for a dish. It's put on by the founders of Cook's Illustrated magazine.

What was interesting was that many recipes fit my eating plan because when you get back to nature, everything seems to taste better and work better.

Many of the recipes called for some kind of fat, and what was discovered is that fats such as those found in certain kinds of meat, butter and dairy were often the best. For example, making scrambled eggs with some half and half rather than 2 percent milk keeps the protein molecules in the eggs from compressing too much and leaching all the liquid, thus making dry eggs. I use one tablespoon of half and half to every two eggs. The difference is amazing!

They also made a meatloaf recipe using all beef and a little gelatin instead of mixing veal and pork with it. The veal and pork make the consistency of the meatloaf softer so you aren't just eating a large hamburger. Here's the basic recipe for the meatloaf, although it is better explained on the Web site (you have to become a member to see the recipes).

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 lb ground chuck
3 oz. of grated Monterrey Jack cheese (put in freezer for 10 minutes before using)
2 small onions minced
1 stalk of celery minced
21 crushed saltine crackers (these provide best consistency, but I used dried sourdough bread crumbs)
1/2 tsp. powdered gelatin (they used Knox)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 eggs
1 TB butter
1 clove garlic crushed
2 TB dried thyme
1 tsp. paprika
2 TB tomato juice
1 TB soy sauce
2 TB parsley
1 TB dijon mustard
salt andpepper to taste

First, you put tinfoil on a cookie sheet, then put a rack on like you might use for cookies to let air circulate and fat run out. On top of that, make a 6-inchx10-inch tinfoil pad with holes poked in with skewer. You'll put your meatloaf on that so it doesn't become enmeshed in rack. Spray a little olive oil or butter on it to keep meatloaf from sticking (I didn't do this and it didn't stick anyway).

Saute onions and celery in 1 TB of butter until they are soft. Add garlic, thyme, tomato juice and paprika after they are almost done. Let cool.

Put chicken broth and eggs in a bowl. Bloom the gelatin in it by sprinkling it over the top. When it looks like wrinkly skin, wisk it all together.

Mix all ingredients together until it starts to form a loaf. Scoop it out and form it on the tinfoil pad. Use a spatula wetted under the faucet to smooth the sides and top. Put it in a 375-degree oven on the center rack for about an hour or until it's 135-degrees inside. About half-way through cooking, make a glaze of 1/2 cup catsup, cider vinegar, brown sugar and dijon mustard with a little hot sauce then spread 1/2 of it on meatloaf when there's about 15 minutes left to cook. Add the rest when it is done and put it under the broiler for a little bit to brown it up.

Really pretty and yummy meatloaf. It sounds complicated, but it goes quickly.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Posting comments

Some of my friends have said they've had trouble posting comments. Here's my understanding of how it works. I really like comments and have heard that some comments have helped other people. So keep commenting!

First, you can post as anonymous. To do this, you click on comments at the bottom of the page. If there are no comments, it looks like this (0 comments) and comments is underlined. Then write your comment in the box. Then click on the drop down box and click on "anonymous."

Second, you can open an account. To do this, I've used Google, and set up an account using my main email and then using a password. The process for commenting is the same. Write comment in comment area, use drop down to click on Google account, then when google account comes up you put in your email and password, then hit ok or whatever, and your comment will appear.

Thanks for commenting!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Why be fat?

I'm taking in all of this great nutrition information that Tracie Hittman Nutrition is giving me and I really notice now when I eat right and when I don't. I feel it in my bones, my skin, my organs and my attitude. But sometimes I can tell that I'm sabotaging my efforts or not believing that I deserve it. Why is that?

I'm writing a book with Dolores Kokinos, a business consultant who works with company and organization staff (and private individuals as well) to help them understand why they might be making choices that don't get them the results they want. The information is exciting and really intriguing, but now I'm beginning to think I should apply that information to my struggles with weight loss/ Why am I fat?

I now know what to eat, but I don't always do a good job. I think about being thin every day. I like exercising, but when I go on a diet it seems like pulling teeth to get me to do anything really strenuous. Why? Wish me luck on my journey!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cut the crap, people!

I've really started to pay attention to food labels and I must say it disgusts me when I see how much extraneous junk food producers are putting in their food. You think you're eating healthy when you get low-fat, but you're not. All those gums I've mentioned previously are in EVERYTHING! (I so rarely type in all caps and use exclamation marks because then I look like an 8th grade girl, but this calls for it, I swear.)

And cheeses. My gosh, you'd think the ones that say "all natural" would have nothing but milk and salt and other cheesy stuff in them, but they always seem to add a bunch of other junk: coloring, weird enzymes, etc.

If I had all the money in the world, I would shop at Whole Foods every day, but I don't. And if I had all the sun in the world, I'd grow my own. Again, problem. So I have to be a picky eater, which doesn't come naturally to me. I just wish food manufacturers would stop adding junk to their food. Jeez.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New inspiration

After two months of trying to eat right, I had a tough week last week. Lots of emotional ups and downs appear to really affect my commitment to healing my body. I could tell that Tracie, my nutritionist, was worried about me. My feelings were quickly confirmed on Friday afternoon (yesterday) when I met with her at her office. While on my way to our weekly appointment, I was fighting to keep the tears from starting. After a really tough week, Tim and I had just found out that a business deal we are working on will be delayed at least another two weeks while one party deliberates further. When Tracie called to confirm, I was munching on a Snickers candy bar with a trusty Diet Pepsi by my side! Tracie was sympathetic and admitted that she was worried that I would give up since I hadn't had dramatic weight loss. You know how it goes, a little hug in a time of crisis can sometimes nearly cause you to let down your guard and your emotions can spill over the dam you've so carefully constructed to keep going. "Don't be nice!" I said when I got to the office and she stooped to hug me. I just couldn't afford to let myself cry because then the negative emotions really come in and take over.

Fortunately, Dodie, Tracie's mentor and collaborator in California called, and it quickly became apparent what was going on with me.

I explained my weight history: I had never been overweight as a child and didn't really start developing until I was about 16. Scrawny and self-conscious until then, I started to fill out a bit, but didn't really put on significant weight (or bust size) until I was 18 and in college and starting birth control. I gained a bit of weight then as well—but stayed on birth control and about 160 pounds throughout that time, occasionally dipping down to weigh about 140 (my best weight). I didn't put on weight again until I was about 34 and stopped birth control -- I also had my first bout of depression and really lost energy. At about the same time, it became clear that my thyroid was developing a goiter—becoming enlarged. I was still able to take the weight off and get back down near my usual weight of 160 again until I hit my 40s. Since then, I've never managed to get to a happy weight. My thyroid illness was finally diagnosed at 42 as Hashimoto's Disease, a disease in which your immune system destroys your thyroid. I've never been medicated for it.

"That's great," said Dodie, because medicine for thyroid disease kills the thyroid and puts you on synthetic thyroid medicine. She points out that much of my weight gain is due to hormonal activity: development when I was 16, birth control when I was 18, thyroid illness when I was in my mid 30s and then menopause now. Hmmm.

Dodie, who has a peaceful, caring voice that isn't at all sticky sweet, said that when my thyroid is low, a new hormone cortisol takes over the thyroid's job, and cortisol is catabolic—it tears down the body. So you develop more wrinkles, more stress. You also show more effects of stress such as irritability and weight gain in the stomach. So now I'm going to have to visit a doctor to see if I can get a prescription for a healthy thyroid medicine.

At any rate, Dodie said that it might take me months to heal my body from its thyroid issues, but I will lose weight. First, though, I'll gain energy, quit being depressed and look healthier. The weight will drop once my body heals and recovers enough to start dropping weight naturally.

Initially I was depressed because because weight loss will be so hard, but then I became enthusiastic because it means that I can still heal my body. Dodie, who is about 70, said she started much later than I did and it took about two years to heal her body. Tracie, who is in her late 20s, healed in about two months. It all depends on what has happened. Dodie became quite ill and while I'm rarely ill, I am having lots of negative effects from my thyroid problems: weight loss resistance, lack of energy, occasional depression and insomnia.

By eating more "whole" foods, such as organic meats, bone broth, vegetables, fruit, rice as well as saturated fats (butter and coconut oil) and olive oil, I will heal my system so that it can start releasing weight. I can lose weight by seriously limiting my diet, but my insomina, irritability, tiredness and aging will progress much more quickly. I'm not sure I'm willing to go that route.

How will I do this? First, I'm going to start taking my temperature and pulse every day. Your temperature and pulse rate are indicators of what your metabolism is doing and low metabolism often means low thyroid. So I'll watch and see how the eating plan affects my thyroid by monitoring my temperature. Today, at 10:30 a.m., my temperature is 97.7, a bit lower than normal which is 98.6. My pulse is about 80, which I think is a bit fast, but I 'm not that good at taking pulses.

Second, I'm going to write down how I'm feeling when I eat, what I'm craving and what I eat so that Tracie and Dodie can begin to tell what's going on with me. I should add fats if I'm having a lot of craving and low blood sugar--which is apparent when you crave sugary foods. Yesterday I was craving a candy bar.

Third, I'm going to do a better job of eating fewer PUFAS (vegetable oils) which go rancid in the body. It's best to eat more natural fats like butter, olive oil and coconut oil. It sounds counterproductive, but Dodie and Tracie both swear that it works. I'm going to try it because I've not eaten butter for years and I still gain weight.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My sisters rock!

I am so proud of my little sisters. If I'm not careful, I'm going to be known as "the fat one." As in, "Oh, those Schuetz girls all look alike, but Lisa, she's the fat one."

For a long time, that title belonged to Helga (not her real name), who is five years younger than I. Although not at all overweight as a child, she was always cuddly. As an adult, she's been chubby forever and sort of fat for many of the most recent years. But no more. She's now bordering on thin and is known to run 5 miles. In a row. That is so cool! For longer than I can remember, Helga's primary form of exercise was gardening or walking over to her neighbor's for a chat. All that has changed and I'm really proud and super happy for her. And the only reason that I say she's bordering on thin is that she's almost to her goal and once she's there, we're all going to say "You're so thin!" But let's save that for the big moment, right?

Then there's Lucy (also not her real name), who is nearly two years younger than I. Lucy has always been pretty thin. She's always had the best hair, perfect skin and her body rebounds from babies faster than my do from a fish fry. She's always been super organized, prompt with her schoolwork (or office work) and knows exactly how much is in her checking account. She seems to have the same kind of willpower that my mother has (veeeery German, if you know what I mean). Well, she fell in love and gained a bit of love weight after her marriage to Luis. They have a great time together, and great times often mean celebrating. So after a couple years of relaxing and having fun, she's again buckled down to the very unfun job of taking off the pounds. So Lucy's now on Weight Watchers and heading out to the gym all the time, probably even as she recuperates from elbow surgery. I have no doubt she'll soon be as thin as before.

My youngest sister, Honey, has always been thin. Her version of overweight is weighing 10 pounds more than her super skinny weight. She has beautiful children (but all my siblings do) and always has a little smiley light in her eyes. So, I'm proud of her too, but for different reasons. Honey has Lupus and although she's often in pain, she's really trying to get her life in order. She can't work out and she can't run. Sometimes it's even hard for her to sit for long periods of time. She always tells me she's feeling fine because she knows medical complaints make me crabby. In November, when Oprah had her weight loss show taping and I got tickets, I brought Honey along because getting to see Oprah is on everyone's Bucket List. She had a lot of fun even though we didn't get any free stuff or makeovers.

So, I'm going to dedicate my eating tomorrow to my sisters. When I feel like having a piece of Eden's chocolate, I'll think of Helga running all over town or Lucy lifting weights with her good arm. Or I'll think of Honey, who is trying to feel better than the day before. And then I'll have some snow peas and humus!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hell Week

Well, I know most people have a hard time sticking to their diets during the Christmas holidays, but around our house, it's St. Patrick's Day. The Irish-American holiday also happens to be Tim's birthday and I've found that, while cooking for children complicates matters, going to friends' parties and preparing a birthday meal and birthday pies also adds a new factor.

Friday night, at a celebration for a friend's birthday, I split my meal with a friend who is also food conscious. We were eating at Jolly Bob's and, if you know Jolly Bob's, it's fairly easy to stick to rice and a protein, but the vegetables are hard to come by. Fran and I split the Avo-Cat, a catfish dish with rice. Delicious! But I also had a few drinks, which I think cancelled out my smart food choice.

On Saturday, it was the annual holiday bash at one of my best friends' house. I do a lot of the cooking, which is always corned beef and cabbage, beef tenderloin, baked steak fries with cheese and huge fruit and veggie platters. I didn't eat too much, but it seems that I must have because my weight went up a pound!

I'm frustrated.

Friday, March 13, 2009

How to Support Your Fat Friend

One of my favorite aspects to writing a blog is helping others struggling with the same aggravating problem that I have. But, we need support from everyone in our lives—those hoping to lose weight and those who are already where they want to be.

Most of my friends are supportive in that they're happy to hand out the attaboys when deserved. Others will go out of their way to make sure the meals they serve when I visit fit with my current eating plan. Others just don't comment, thinking that if they don't comment, I won't know that they think I'm fat. And a few area always passing on tidbits from their eating plan that they believe I should take on, regardless of what my nutritionist says.

I have a hard time asking for help. I may subtly suggest something that would help. But, despite my cuff-up-side-the-head method of communicating on most issues, it's really hard for me to express how truly hard it is to address this issue. It's hard to explain the mixture of dread/hope one feels at starting a new eating plan.

Imagine you find a coffin with some sort of breathing tube. You realize that someone has been held in there for a while. You know you need to open it because they could still be alive and if you wait for help, they might not be. But you could also find a moldering dead body that would be really gross and hard to get out of your head. That's a bit graphic, but it's exactly how a dieter feels--especially one who has struggled with weight for a long time. You know you have to start now, or you might never get thin. But you're afraid of who you'll find when you start. A lazy person? A bitch? A failure? It's hard to say who you are when your weight isn't protecting you.

If you're really skinny and have always been very controlled about what you eat, you might think about how you would feel if you put down the low-fat mayo and had a steak with a baked potato, butter, sour cream and vegetables with butter. Or if you had to eat a fish filet sandwich from McDonalds. You would be afraid of what that might do to you.

I hope to be someone in the middle, who can have a little bit of naughty, as long as most of it is nice.

So here's how I think most of us dieters would like to be treated (ladies, hand this to your men as well)!

1. Don't raise your eyebrows at what the dieter is eating. That is not support, that is monitoring. For all you know, that person is eating well within their points. It's also co-dependent, meaning that you believe the other person can't do this without your input. Be interdependent. Offer to help by serving a meal that fits with their food plan and inviting them over.

2. Suggest an outing together that includes a physical activity you know the other person likes. Don't offer to go running if they don't run or couldn't possibly keep up with you. If all of my friends offered to go for a hike, a fast walk, a trip to the gym, canoeing, rollerblading, ice skating, downhill skiing, swimming or biking, I would always say "yes." If they offer to go running, biking a super-hilly route, cross-country skiing, walking in the cold rain, or spinning indoors on a bike, I'm going to say no. So know what your friend likes to do.

3. Only ask how they are doing once every other week or so. Don't ask when they are eating a brownie, etc. This only adds guilt. If they have a blog, read it instead of pointedly acting as if you haven't read it.

4. Don't listen to a friend joyfully revealing a hurdle they've overcome by reminding about another still to be tackled. That's called being a joykill. Don't rain on their parade!

5. When they do start losing weight, don't remind them of how much better they look now compared to their ugliness when they were fat. Believe it or not, that's not fun to hear either. Just tell them they look beautiful without adding the "finally" at the end.

6. Don't invite them over for ice cream, invite them out for all you can eat fish fry, or have "girlfriend" meetings at buffets. Fortunately, none of my girlfriends would do that, but I have heard a few fellow dieters complaining about such.

7. Don't ask how much weight they've lost. If they want to tell you, they will. And don't ask when it's clear the answer is "not much." '

8. And finally, for the men out there particularly, don't come sit on the couch next to your dieter eating a big old sundae or Girl Scout cookies, or a huge bowl of greasy popcorn without offering something within the dieter's scope of eating. That's just mean.

Basically, a big part of weight loss is feeling good. If your name isn't Jillian or Bob (or Tracie in my case), chances are pretty good that you are not going to be the one qualified to motivate them to lose weight. And if you watch the Biggest Loser, it's not done by telling them how bad they are, but pushing them in a positive way. By saying, you can do it.

I'm so lucky to have so many friends who support me, but lots of people out there face sabotage, etc. And sometimes its from those who don't even know they are doing it. Regardless, I'm going to do it this time, even if it takes me a year. I'm getting on track with what I'm supposed to eat and really learning to cut out what I'm not. Keeping wishing me luck!

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's a new week!

What a great weekend!

First, I had a terrific workout with my nutritionist, Tracie, on Saturday morning. I'm still sore. I was horrified to find that I had a really hard time doing the machine-assisted pull ups (no upper body strength), but was thrilled to actually job for several minutes at a time in my fast-slow interval training. I loved it! I had forgotten that I really like being at the gym. Not going to the gym, but being there. There's something horrible about knowing you have to go there and dreading or avoiding the leaving to get there. But once you are there, you always love being there, right?

I also did a great job on my food.

And although I didn't work out yesterday, I had a great time groaning every time I had to use any of my stomach muscles. I forgot how much I like a good muscle-ache from working out. Not to state the obvious or anything, but I really do have to work out to lose weight.

Last night I made lean pork chops with roasted beets. YUM! The beets were phenomenal. Here's what I did. I scrubbed the skin a bit and cut off the greens (left a little stem) and the tap root. I set them in some parchment paper (a pretty good sized rectangle) then drizzled a little butter on them and salted and peppered them pretty good. I brought two opposite sides together and then rolled it down like a paper sack, then tucked the two open ends underneath to make a nice, neat package. I roasted them at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. They were still firm, super moist and really yummy. Tim was amazed.

Here is my menu for the week (I just spent $200 at the grocery store--3 kids are expensive).

Breakfast all week: Fruit and eggs or fruit and organic cottage cheese.
Snack all week: piece of cheese and fruit or gelatin and whipped cream
Lunch all week: either potato soup, peel and eat shrimp and salad or turkey breast and vegetable.
Snack all week: pea pods and hummus or piece of cheese and fruit.
Dinners (here we go!)
Monday: Chicken thighs with olives and red peppers with rice.
Tuesday: Pizza for everyone but me -- I'll be having turkey and vegetables.
Wednesday: Shrimp scampi and spinach.
Thursday: Venison and beets with sweet potatoes.
Friday: Chicken breasts on the grill
Saturday: Party -- beef tenderloin and vegetables.
Sunday: up in the air.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I'm not sure what the latest ruling is on the 8-glasses-of-water-daily thing, but I am now back on the stick with that.

And, my lengthy walk on Wednesday night with Tim up and down vale has my legs a little sore! It feels good. I am going to do it again today. I rode my horse on Tuesday and did my sit ups yesterday, so I am getting closer to my goal.

Food yesterday was not perfect at all. I had very little food in the house. i had an apple and some cheese for breakfast. Then for a snack I had my gelatin and whipping cream, for lunch I had some string cheese while on the run with a little juice. Then, it all started to break down. I let Tim use the cooler, so didn't have one today. I stopped a the grocery store for food and saw a really good chicken sandwich, so I had it, but the bread really tasted yucky. Then I had pizza that Tim made at a friend's house for supper. But I only had four pieces (small squares).

I did pop a roast in the crock pot for food to grab over the next few days and will go shopping for better food. I have pineapple and can have that tomorrow as well as the gelatin, fruit juice, cheese and sugar snap peas and hummus. So I'm good for tomorrow. Now, what to have Saturday . . . ?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring blahs

Well, staying off the scale is going to be key for a while here until the weight really starts dropping. I hopped on on Monday, and it looked like I went up about 1-2 pounds! Argh.

Here's the positive side. I have finally stablized my appetite, meaning I'm rarely craving things I shouldn't have (Girl Scout cookies excepted, see below). I also am feeling fairly good.

I have been eating the gelatin in broth and added to juice and I do see a difference in my hair and nail quality as well as my satiety.

The area in which I am slipping is bringing juice to bed with me so that I have something to sip when I wake up in the night. I'm still waking up at about 2;30 or so, but lately it seems dog-related. Hopefully, we can change some routines so the dogs will sleep through the night and not bug us. But when I woke up last night at 2;30 I was starving. I drank a glass of water and went back to sleep, fortunately. But I did have a slip up last night. A friend and I went riding, then had a glass of wine or two (three?) and I had a couple Girl Scout cookies. Now I know it's not the end of the world, but if that keeps happening, I'm not going to lose weight.

So here's my new, new commitment. I'm going to ride my horse every day at lunch, or later if I have a meeting, and I am also going to walk my dog in the mornings from now on--especially now that it's getting warmer. I also am going to do situps every day and pushups every other day. That will do for now. I'll have to step it up later, but baby steps are required. None of these are particularly hard for me, it's just about getting organized.

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A weekend of entertaining-success!

Whew! It was a great weekend with lots of entertaining. Between cooking for the children and friends, I got a lot of practice learning how to do all my fun cooking, while staying focused on my goals. Right now, that's largely just eating the right foods.

Friday night, was the only tough night. Tim made his fantastic homemade pizza. The crust is what usually does me in. But this time it was extra thin. I did have a few pieces, but not as many as I usually do. Probably equal to 2 regular slices. His pizza has a lot of vegetables on it and not too much cheese, so I think it was alright. Friday nights are my free night anyway. Before bed, I had a little gelatin dissolved in juice, which we are trying to help me sleep through the night. I'm having a lot of sleeplessness.

Saturday I did great. I had made some orange juice and gelatin "jello," with some sugar-free (meaning no sugar added) whipping cream. I have a small scoop on top of the jello for a perfect carb, fat, protein snack. The jello squares are about 2 inches square. Very yummy and the gelatin is supposed to be healing to the system. I had a potato and vegetables for lunch with some turkey and then went to Tori and Denny's house for dinner. Tim grilled venison and I made crab legs, roasted potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes and green beans for dinner. For dessert we had Colin's favorite, which is fruit with lime curd and whipped cream. It was delicious! It was the kids' first time for crab and they ended up eating all of mine. We didn't even add butter to it.

On Sunday, I had gelatin for breakfast. Then we went Bowlin' for Colons -- fun exercise. For lunch I had chicken Italian sausage and tomato soup. Then we had our friends Lee and Ann and their darling son Ray over for dinner. I was going to make lamb, but Millers didn't have any. So I substituted salmon. We also had roasted sweet potatoes, steamed asparagus, Ann's delicious fruit salad and a organic succotash. The kids had ribs and succotash with a little sweet potatoe and fruit as well. It was delicious. My challenge was not to have seconds of anything that is high calorie. The trick I used was not to have any succotash on the first go round and to take a really little serving of fruit. Then for "seconds" I had the succotash and another small spoon of fruit. I felt satisfied. Then we had the delicious lime curd dessert again. It's almost perfect because it has eggs, lime, butter in it, but it also has about a cup and a half of sugar. Not great. I'm going to experiment on cutting down the sugar, but it is so delicious!

Here's the salmon recipe. I took a side of salmon and put it in a very shallow oval oven baker. Sprinkle salt and pepper on then place it in a bath of water in a large, straight-sided fry pan. The water should not come up over the side of the baker. Put a lid on it and turn the heat on high. I usually wait until I hear the rattle of the baker on the bottom of the pan, which means the water is boiling. Don't remove the lid. Let perk for 7 minutes. The outside will be light pink and the very inside should be a brighter pink. It will be super moist.

The sweet potatoes are peeled (3 big ones are enough for about 6 people) and cut into 1-inch chunks. I toss them in a tablespoon of melted butter and add pepper and salt and a little bit of Italian seasoning (I use Penzey's Tuscan Sunset blend). Put it in the oven at 400° for about 45 minutes to an hour -- it should be pretty soft, but still hold it's form. I usually take it out and stir it around to redistribute the juices 1 to 2 times during the baking. Otherwise, the butter drips off into the bottom and they don't stay moist.

Looking forward to a great week! I started out with a little bone broth this morning and about 1 cup of strawberry smoothie. Yum.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Yucky fillers in "healthy" foods

Yikes. I just looked at the label of the cottage cheese I've been eating. I thought it was a healthy food until I really read the label! It's jam-packed with "fillers" such as guar gum, xanthum gum carob bean gum, potassium sorbate, etc.

Guar gum and other gums are seemingly ok foods processed from plants. But when I looked them up, they really start out sounding as an ok thickener for foods, until you get deeper into the explanation. For example, guar gum was once used in weight-loss foods, but were recalled when they realized that they can cause blockages in the esophagus and they slow or reduce the absorption of calcium and other minerals into the body. They also can cause diahrrea. It also sounds like it might be bad for people with diabetic conditions. Hmmm. I want a cottage cheese that just has milk and salt.

Last night I had a whopper of a sinus headache that kept me awake for hours. I also had it this morning, and it really made me sick to my stomach. Now reading about some of these additives, which are rampant in foods like cheese and cottage cheese as well as any processed foods, makes me wonder what they had to do with it.

Here's what I ate yesterday. Cottage cheese with fresh pineapple chunks. Then an orange and a piece of cheese. About 3/4 cup of the leftover jambalaya. Some cheese and an apple. Then for supper we had stuffed baked potatoes. I had a tablespoon of that dratted cottage cheese, some broasted turkey, broccoli and a little salsa. I also had a small portion with the venison chili I made the other day. I only used 1/2 of the baked potatoe, but I was stuffed! It's good to see my portion size starting to shift. I am eating smaller meals -- I really notice it.

Unfortunately, I also made Tim's favorite cherry pie and had a small slice of it with some ice cream. I'm finding out most ice creams have all those fillers too, so I am switching to Hagen Daz, which doesn't.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finally having fun!

Two months ago, I dreaded each day of "dieting." It seemed like a punishment and as if I was opening myself up for criticism from my skinny friends. But the truth is, I'm having a ton of fun. Finally! I've been getting really creative with my menu planning. Last night I made a protein and vegetable jumbalaya for the kids that was really healthy and a little spicy and, for the most part, they ate it all! I think at first it was weird for them, but now they like it. Colin, the 9-year-old, even asked to help make meals, which I think is a pretty big milestone.

Of course, the area that I still need to step up my game is exercise. I'm going to get going on that again today. I'm hearing a little grumbling from Tim about my lack of participation in exercising the dogs. Of course, these are crazy, circling dogs that constantly put me in danger of falling. At first, like dieting, it won't be fun. But I assume that if I get them straightened out and focused on the proper way to behave and good choices, they'll enjoy the walk and then so will I!

Yesterday, I was gone all day, yet still did pretty good on food. I had a smoothie with yogurt, whole milk and fruit for breakfast. Then cheese and pea pods for a snack. I had some chicken bits at the food store for lunch--not great, but not horrible--and then some plain chicken and pea pods for a snack. As you already read, vegetable, chicken and chicken sausage with rice for dinner. No naughty snacks, so that's good!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vindication via television

I was happy to watch the Today show's feature on Eat This Not That. David Zinczenko said that often marketers will lie about whether a food is healthy for you. In fact, some food's labels say they are "all natural" or "multigrain" or "reduced fat," but that doesn't necessarily mean good for you. Click here to see more.

Stonyfield Farm fat free has a lot of sugar -- equal to two scoops of Edy's double fudge brownie ice cream. Yikes. I know I look specifically at the food label and try to have no more than 10 grams of sugar in foods, especially those that get into the kids. Zinczenko recommended greek-style yogurt, which has fewer calories, but double the protein and way less sugar. Avoid meal replacement bars with high sugar, and look for those that have fewer ingredients.

Here's another surprise. Low-fat peanut butters can be bad for you! They put some really nasty filler in them to make them low fat, which reduces the important monounsaturated fats you would get from the peanuts. He recommended finding peanut butters that have only two ingredients -- peanuts and salt. He said the low fat versions may remove all healthy ingredients and replace it with this low-fat filler that only reduces calories by 10 per serving -- still equal to a Krispy Kreme donut.

I like that! They also talked about how butter is so much better for you than most replacement butters. "One comes from cows and the other comes from a lab." To make them low-fat, they have to add other oils, usually adding 2.5 grams of transfats -- again -- bad. Go with whipped butter instead, he said.

He also recommended all juice juices -- no sugar.

I'm so happy because several of these rules match what my nutritionist is telling me. Butter is ok rather than replacement oils, juice is fine as long as it's all juice. And regular fat yogurt is way better than low-fat yogurt which uses either chemical sugars or real sugars in order to replace fat. Thank you Tracie!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Creatively lazy

Being creative has its pluses and minuses. On the positive side, I'm pretty good at changing a recipe so that it fits what I'm supposed to eat. The other night I made a lamb recipe and used goat cheese and vegetable puree as the stuffing instead of the breading called for. It was so yummy and the cheese with vegetables had a great consistency!

On the other hand, I can look at a crappy hot dog in a bun or a Fish Fry and imagine that it somehow fits into my diet just by using my amazing powers of persuasion. Sad! So, yesterday I had a hot dog -- again in a pinch -- and went out with my fiance for Fish Fry at this terrific dive restaurant in Belleville. I had hoped they'd have baked fish and baked potato, but no luck. I should have called ahead. Still, it wasn't a huge plate and I'm back in the saddle today. Cottage cheese and apple for breakfast.

My creative juices really ramp up when it comes to exercise. I can convince myself that 18 degrees and snowy means there's a good excuse for not exercising. Really, Lisa! Get on the stick. Tim is outside right now snowshoeing with the dogs on the hill behind our house.

I'd love ideas on how to be more motivated about getting outside. But I already know the answer courtesy of Nike (I think it's Nike): Just do it!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Planning to succeed

OK. My nutritionist, Tracie, has busted me for not planning my meals. In fact, my friend Sue has busted me, my mom, Ann, my fiance . . . pretty much everyone. So here's my plan.

I've cleaned out my little cooler and I am going to start packing a jar with juice and water mixed, some cheese, some vegetables and hummus and some lean meats -- lamb chop, chicken, pork roast. Then, when I run into a situation like I did yesterday, I'll be prepared.

I had a meeting with a client who provided food! Argh. Shrimp and fries and coleslaw. Well, I had a few pieces of the shrimp and skipped the fries but had a little of the slaw. The shrimp was breaded and deep fried. Not good. But I really didn't have that much.

Here's what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast was pineapple and cottage cheese.
Snack was a lamb chop and cheese.
Lunch at 1 p.m. was really snacky -- two cheese sticks and orange juice
midafternoon snack wa at 4 p.m. and was 4 pieces of deep fried shrimp and coleslaw.
dinner was at 8 p.m. (I waited for Tim) and it was a pork chop and Brussels sprouts and a glass of wine.
I really felt great yesterday!

As you can see, I did fine except when I wasn't prepared. Always, always, always the case. If hadn't been hungry at 4 p.m., I wouldn't have eaten. I should have had something right before the meeting since I knew I was getting hungry. Argh!

The good news is that I have a lot of energy today. I already got two bedrooms cleaned up (the kids') and have gotten a lot of work done!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fueling with Vitamins

Well, one thing I love about my new way of eating is making sure that I am pumping enough vitamins into my system. So I get to really feel good about what I'm eating and truly thinking about it as fuel instead of nurturing myself. Sweet potatoes, beets, squash, pumpkin, collards, spinach, lamb, venison and bug-eating chicken all taste so delicious to me, especially now that they are full of nutrients. Yesterday for dinner, I had a small lamb chop, about 1 oz. of cheese and some sweet potatoe mash. Yum!

My nutritionist also suggested that I start using Gelatin since I have been having a lot of joint pain. She said that not only does it work better than glucosamine chondroitin, but it also balances out amino acids in your body. In the olden days, people often cooked with bones -- they used everything! Today people cook much less often with bones, so are missing those key nutrients. Adding Gelatin to juice or a broth can really help, she says. I'm willing to try it and will be buying some today.

One thing I have noticed while watching the Biggest Loser is that you can see who is going to lose weight and who won't just by watching their faces. You can see who is determined and who is just sitting back and phone it in. I really admire Tara. Even when she's not working as hard, she still works harder than everyone else. But my real takeaway from last night is that when she worries about her lackluster partner, Laura, she doesn't do as well. It saps her energy and demotivates her. I've also noticed that in my life. In areas where I'm already doing well, such as staying organized, writing, public relations, horses, relationships, etc., I do really, really well helping others. But in areas where I struggle (finance and weight), I get completely off-course when I try to help others. You might notice that while I try to provide some information in my blog, most of it is about me. That's also why I appreciate all the comments from Nancy and Ann on this blog, as well as the emails I get from friends and the phone and personal support from my nutritionist, Tracie Hittman. I have nothing to give others in this area, so I have to be a bit of a taker right now. But believe me, when I'm fit and have licked this issue, I'll be ready to give!