Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lunch Project: Week 7!/Busy Weekend

I'm terrible! I totally thought I wrote this post but I definitely didn't. Last week was an EXCITING week for the lunch project because I made my first dish on the slow cooker! It was lentil soup and it came out really well. I found a simple simple recipe. I didn't want to get too over ambitious with it. Though really... I could have. The soup came out really well and totally flavorful. Something about just letting them sit and stew there, I guess. I was really happy with the outcome. I have a 3 1/2 quart slow cooker and I probably could have halved the recipe. I'd say I ended up with 7-8 servings. I ate a lot of lentil soup and brought it for Jamie and myself for lunch TWICE.

It also called for a whole chopped onion. I feel like I've mentioned my onion catch-22 before. Here's the deal. I love onions. Pretty much however you want to prepare it, I like me some onions. However. I cannot cut them. Period. I cry. I run away. It's a 30 minute endeavor and it comes out a shoddy mess. The lovely and talented Anika gave me ONION goggles for my birthday. You look like a goon, but they actually work incredibly well. In fact, my eyes only started bothering me AFTER the onion was chopped and I took off the glasses. Which is both funny and miraculous as far as I'm concerned.

So I got that onion chopped!

I found cooking in my crock pot to be both incredibly satisfying and incredibly anticlimactic. I guess I'm used to very hands on cooking and the thought of all that prep and then.... hours... was something new. I chopped things, threw it in the pot, went to bed. Whaaaaat? No stirring?

With all the extra time I had NOT cooking. I took pictures of my slow cooker.

Slow cooker action shot!!

The next morning I just stirred in some kale and balsamic vinager and packed it for lunch. Jamie and I both really really enjoyed it even with the simplicity of all the ingredients. Honestly it tasted like it had more spices/flavor than you would guess considering the recipe. I thank slow cooker goodness for that.

I had extra kale from my slow cooker recipe and decided to make some kale chips. They are delicious and pretty low cal. Combine the kale with a teensy bit of olive oil, balsamic vinager, salt pepper and whatever other seasonings you'd like (I added chilli pepper). Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until the chips are green and crispy (but not burnt!).

Yummmmmmmy snack. I always have good intentions of making a batch and saving some. But it never (read: NEVER) works out like that.

Jamie made a really delicious southern comfort food. Black eyed peas! I'm going to try and recreate the recipe as far as I understood it.

Olive Oil
2 cans black eyed peas - do not drain
A couple cloves of garlic
5 slices of turkey bacon
Bunch of kale - chopped and rinsed

Saute the garlic, put aside. Slice the turkey bacon into bite sized pieces and cook in the same skillet that you cooked the garlic. Towards the end of cooking add the kale and let the flavors combine and the kale to cook down a little. Put the beans in a pot and add oregano and paprika to taste. Add the garlic, kale and turkey bacon and cook until heated through.

Really pretty simple and SUPER delicious. Jamie brought apple sauce for dessert.

This weekend I kept up my exercise kick and went to a yoga class that KILLED ME. It was an open level class (which means all levels -- but it's pretty much catered to higher level yogis, and then if you're not up to it ... you don't do it). And I am SO PROUD OF MYSELF because I did my first handstand! Well my first ASSISTED handstand, but still. I really truly didn't think it was going to happen, but I figured I'd try anyway. Throughout the class the teacher spent a lot of time talking about the wholeness and completeness that is you. Somehow that was very inspiring for me. I also had a really nice woman assisting me in the pose. I didn't have my back quite soft enough when I first tried to do it, and she was able to point that out to me. I didn't quite come out of the pose well (aka I crashed and burned) but I was GLOWING. It was such a nice feeling and I felt strong and accomplished. The teacher came up to me after and said, "You totally didn't think you were going to do that did you? A crash landing isn't ideal, but it's a start!"

My roommate and I also went for a run on Saturday morning. And by run I mean a 10 minute relaxed (for her) jog. We probably spent about half an hour outside walking though.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to skip my yoga class I usually go to tomorrow, but I'm hoping to actually get my butt out of bed and go to the 7am one on Thursday. Fingers crossed, yes? I bought a 10-class groupon card and so I have 9 classes to use before the 14th. Yoga master by Valentine's Day anyone?

I went out with my boy and my roommates on Saturday as well and I really liked my outfit so I took a classy classy mirror shot of myself. I'm two pounds away from 70 down. I'd love to hit that in the next week or two though this week seems like it may be a little complicated eating-wise. A LOT of going out.

I told you it was classy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Exercise Update

Well, I've made a solid attempt at exercising! Last week I went to yoga twice. Once, I mentioned here and the other was with my brother's girlfriend. She took me to Yoga to the People which is a free yoga studio. We went to the location on St. Mark's but I believe there are others (including one in Seattle or something). Everything they do is donation based and so the classes are jammed packed. We got there early and had a really great time. They whip you through poses, but it all felt really good in my body.

I really think the reason I prefer yoga to any other exercise is the mind/body aspect of it. Just the conciousness of your breath and your movements in yoga is unlike any other exercise I've done. Obviously in every exercise class or workout video or whatever they tell you to breathe, but yoga really flows. Breathing is as much a part of your practice as anything else.

This morning I went back to the class at my gym. Not a great class but really convenient (it gets out 15 minutes before I am supposed to be at work, giving me enough time to run to Starbucks, run to the office, change and start my day). I bought a groupon for a yoga studio by work and it's 10 classes and expires on Feb 14!! Need to get my butt to those classes, but I tend to book my after-work activities and their morning class is at 7am... which is early. (Though I think this may be a situation of suckitupandgoanna.) I think I need to find classes, put them on my Google Calendar (I do everything my GCal says I should!) and have that be the end of it.

Still though, I got on my scale (in the evening ... to be fair) and was WAY up. I whipped out a little food journal I stopped using in October. Christine says that I get lazy at night and just don't count the calories that I eat at that point, so I'm hoping something like this will make me more accountable. I don't really know how that happened, but clearly I need a little bit of a reality check. Complacency, I guess, is not enough. It was a little distressing especially after how hard the last 5 pounds were to lose. To see them back plus some was not ideal. I didn't let Christine weigh me last week for a variety of reasons, but I don't think I get two get-out-of-jail-passes in a row.

Hopefully if I can keep my eating in check this week and continue to exercise, I can get them off (again).

She suggested I cap my alcohol at two drinks a week. We'll see. I'll make the switch (again) to wines and light beers. Sigh. And compensate for alcohol by not drinking. This may be questionable but if you don't eat, you get drunk faster and therefore don't drink as many calories. So if getting inebriated is the goal...

She suggested I seriously consider night eating and cap it at 150 calories. Fine. My favorite evening snack right now is a chocolate VitaMuffin with 2 tablespoons of PB2 and some fat free whipped cream. Sinfully delightful for 150 calories!

PB2 is powdered peanut butter! They take out all the oil and fat and what's left is powder. You add water and it's sort of like peanut butter. It's not quite the same, obviously. And some argue that the healthiest part of the peanut butter is the oil. However, on a low fat diet, it's kind of a detriment. So... it's a solution to my peanut butter problem. And at 45 calories for two tablespoons, it's pretty kick ass low cal alternative. I even made ants on a log today! It was super good. Brought me back to the good old days.

Also I just joined this site called fitocracy.com! (If anyone wants an invite, let me know!) It basically tracks your work outs and gives you points for going to the gym. Variable points depending on what you do. You can level up and everything. They also have forums/groups/whatever and people tend to give a lot of support. Let me know if you join. We should support each other there!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lunch Project: Week 6

So I stumbled across this recipe when looking for neato lunch ideas for Jamie. I paused, not because it didn't look delicious, but because of the large amount of fat in this dish. The recipe as is is totally Atkins/South Beach/Lo Carb whatever friendly, however I'm on a low fat, moderate carb diet. I've been thinking more and more about whether or not that MATTERS, but as it is, it has worked. Pesto is one of my guilty pleasures. It's not quite at the level of peanut butter (which could be deemed an obsession), but it's still up there.

I could get around a lot of the oil in the recipe. Pam is great like that. Just use a little for the roasted tomatoes and a little to fry up the shallots and garlic. And the more I stared at the recipe the more I just justified how 1/3 cup of pesto was not going to KILL my diet. If I got six servings out of it it would only be 1/18th of a cup per serving I actually told a friend. So, having fully justified my oil choices, I headed to the supermarket.
There was no pesto! Haha! A sign from the Gods! I was still determined to make the recipe, but to modify it. I feel like it changed enough for me to repost what I did here.

a couple splashes of extra-virgin olive oil - divided
a pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
3 cups water
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 bag kale, spinach or other hearty green (or as much as your preference is!)
1 block extra-firm tofu
Paprika (optional)
1/3 cup Romano cheese (plus more for serving)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted*
Sprinkle of soy sauce (optional)
1 carton cherry tomatoes
Spoonful of brown sugar

The whole thing took me about 45 minutes to whip up! I started with roasting the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Mix together the sugar and just enough olive oil to coat the tomatoes. Toss the cherries in the mixture and arrange on some parchment paper on a baking tray - cut sides up. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 45 minutes or until they look shrunk and sweet.

I then boiled the water, added the quinoa and cooked it until the water was absorbed - about 15 minutes.

While that cooked, I drained and cut the tofu into bite sized pieces and then tossed it in just enough cornstarch to cover it. I fried it in Pam until it started getting crispy and brown (or however cooked you like your tofu!). I cooked it on two sides for about 5 minutes each side. Cooking time will vary depending on how drained your tofu was. I then sprinkled a little paprika on top. Totally optional but delicious and let the cooked tofu sit on a paper towel.

Then, in a large skillet heat a little bit of olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and garlic and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the spinach until it's more or less reduced and then add corn and cook until heated through.

Stir in the quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the cheese and pumpkin seeds. Mix well. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of Romano cheese.

Serves 4 - 6.

*I put some pumpkin seeds in my toaster oven and cooked them for a short while in some soy sauce. The pumpkin seeds puff a teeny bit and absorb the soy sauce. If you're not into that, just toasting them would be sufficient, I'm sure!

Today, Jamie adapted this recipe pretty severely. I tried to get her to type up her own recipe but she said she followed that recipe except with no tomatoes. To quote: "Basically we're having soup of chickpeas, mushrooms, kale, basil, carrots, onions, and garlic." The mushrooms gave it a real earthy feel.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


So yes. Sorry this is turning more into a food blog than a weight loss blog. I guess I feel like my weight isn't super interesting right now. As of last week, I'm up about 1.5 from my lowest weight because I basically took a vacation from dieting last week. This is not to suggest, by any means, that I "fell off the wagon." I just indulged myself a little more than I usually do. Christine says that she's impressed by how "natural" of an eater I am. And I've been working on that. Eating good wholesome food is appealing to me and by going on a "vacation" I'm not giving that up! Just ... not being obsessive. This is what I'd imagine maintaining to be. Or I guess my ideal of what maintaining is. A small handful of chocolate chips here and there. Some peanut butter. Glass (or two) of wine. These are my indulgences.

Though. Let's be real. I'm not ready to maintain yet. I'm close. But not there yet.

I find it easy to be complacent when I'm happy and when I'm busy. And I'm both of those things right now. I feel like my life is coming together in a good way. I'm feeling optimistic. I'm working on a show outside of my job, which is a relief. I'm dating a boy who I anticipate I will be dating for a while. I have a job at the company I want to stay at. So I'm settled. This HUGE year of change for me is winding down into something I'm happy with.

Yet none of these things is COMPLETE yet. Including my weight loss journey. So how do I get drive to get through this last bought? Christine asked me if I even wanted to. Or if this was where I felt good. I think she'd be okay with me sitting at this weight.

I think I will (once again) try and incorporate exercise. I got up early this morning to go to a yoga class. It's right by work, gets out 15 minutes before work, and was only an hour (so I wasn't getting up at CRACK OF DAWN). I carefully planned and packed my lunch (today is an exchange day -- stay tuned), I had my change of clothes all ready and my workout clothes laid out. And I went! I actually did it. Was 10 minutes early and it felt really nice to be in my body and move it. I am very sedentary these days.

However, because it was at my gym and not a yoga studio, the walls were lined with mirrors. And I couldn't help comparing my body to everyone's around me. This is a habit I anticipate I'll have a hard time breaking. And I still felt bigger. It was sad and disappointing. I guess you have to contextualize who is at a 7:45am yoga class, but still. I felt insecure and disproportioned. And after a LONG time of not feeling that and after a LOT of self-acceptance work. I feel like I took a back step.

But maybe this is a fuel to keep me going? Though I've always known (and I think what separates THIS journey from my THOUSANDS of other weight loss trials) is that change for me cannot (and must not) come from a place of negativity. Also I'm loathe to try and motivate myself for superficial reasons, but the fact is I think I'm pretty healthy right now. I'm sure if you ran all my blood tests and whatever, I'd maybe be a little low on muscle, but a healthy, average 20-something.

So. Lose the negativity? Use the negativity? Break the complacency? Enjoy the complacency? I don't really have it figured out right now. And maybe that's okay. I think I'll just stick to my one goal of exercise. And to try and not do exercises that make me ravenous (a problem in the past). But exercise, enjoy my body. The rest will fall into place!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lunch Project: Week 5!

So Jamie and I both cooked this week which was really lovely. Nice having two home cooked meals for lunches. Also means I have EXTRA leftovers. Score!

I had an impulse buy last week. I was in the tofu section and saw a tube of polenta and was drawn to it. Like a moth to a flame. Why? No idea. Did I even know what polenta WAS? No. All I knew is that somehow, someway, some day I would eat it. I was reminded of its presence every time I opened the fridge. Annaaaa make meeeee!! So I started googling recipes for polenta. Most used it as a side dish... which I didn't really have in mind. A woman at work suggested I fry it up with some veggies... though frying wasn't really it either.

I stumbled upon this recipe and I thought it had promise. Veggies. Cheese. Tomato sauce. Can't go wrong. I do acknowledge that this is vaguely in the same vain as the lasagne last week but it was pretty delicious. The polenta was a nice base and all. I chopped some tomatoes and put it on top which was a nice touch. I also kept my polenta in rounds... cutting lengthwise didn't seem like the best option when it was already in this nice tube for me. This recipe is also very forgiving. I probably didn't do anything quite like it said and it still turned out fine. The only issue is my water didn't get steamed up in the amount of time so I ended up pouring a lot out of the bottom of the pan.

Though really. Steamed veggies, cheese and polenta. It's hard to go wrong. It baked up really well and was a lovely dinner and then lunch the next day.
The very same night I bought a bunch of apples debating whether I should consume them or make Smitten Kitchen's Apple Sharlotka. After I came home to a roommate in distressing boy situation -- the answer became obvious.

Yes, yes, I know. Smitten Kitchen doesn't always do the healthiest recipes. Especially not when it comes to dessert. BUT this recipe has NO oil and NO butter... which is really where the calories stack up. It really truly is mostly apples and super easy to make. And delicious. So if you're craving a healthier dessert and you're into apples this recipe was a winner.

Cheered my ladies up!

The leftovers were also good the next day but I'm not sure the Sharlotka would last longer than a few days... so have it with company in mind! Jamie and I had a nice semi-leftovers meal at lunch.

Then on Thursday, Jamie made us some quinoa burgers with melted cheddar cheese on top. This was the recipe. The only thing was that they came out a little dry. We talked about maybe adding another egg if we did it again. The cheese really balanced it out and we both ended up eating two whole burgers! Though I felt stuffed for hours after.

Also my supervisor at work introduced me to Chia seeds. I actually think they might really be Chia as in Chia Pet (seeds) but whatever. Apparently they're a super healthy complete protein. Some sort of combination of quinoa and flax except you don't boil it and you don't mash it. I think you can sprinkle it on top of whatever you'd like and it adds extra omega boosts as well as protein and other good stuff. Of course, they're kind of caloric. Not horribly so but here are Christine's thoughts on the little buggers: Chia seeds, have in 1 tablespoon, 6.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein, maybe they would be a good afternoon snack with 2 tablespoons measured in a baggie. The fat content in 2 tablespoons is like the equivalent of t tablespoon of the low fat peanut butter, so I wouldn't be eating handfuls of this stuff, they are also high in omega and are a complete protein. So all in all, sounds like approval (in moderation). If you stick them in water they sort of gel up too into some sort of combo of rice pudding and tapioca pearls with a little crunch to them. My supervisor says they help you stay hydrated too (especially when put in water). And apparently if you add lime juice it's like a natural sort of Gatorade!

I'm still sort of figuring out what to do with them, but they're a pretty good little snack. Even if kind of goopy and odd. Let me know if you have any fun recipes that incorporate them! Also try them. They're pretty flavorless -- all texture. I'd get the feeling they'd take on whatever flavor you put them in and probably if you find the right water/chia ratio you can make a sort of pudding of it.

Here's to a good weekend!

Friday, January 6, 2012


I know I haven't mentioned it in a while but I love priorfatgirl.com. I truly do. So much so that I bought the t-shirt. And water bottle.

Elle is one of their bloggers over there. She's lost about 50lbs is 27 years old and single. Today she posted this article and I thought it was important to share. She put into words something that I feel to my core but have trouble expressing. The difference of who I am versus who I was. Self acceptance? Seeing change as positive.

Maybe that last bit sounds weird considering this is a blog completely devoted to patting myself on the back for weight loss. But I frequently have feelings of resentment about my weightloss. I hate that my family takes great pride in it. I hate that some of my friendships with people I felt close to are forced to change. I hate that people want to date me more.

I don't know why I kept the weight on myself for as long as I did. I tried to do some soul searching at the beginning of the process to learn how my fat was helping me. For Elle, it served as a kind of shield. But I still don't totally understand what it was for me. I was a happy person. I didn't hate myself. And I wonder if it's part of the issue?

Some of my relationships are being forced to redefine when I didn't think my weight impacted them in the first place?

And not to mention boys. I got hit on before... but the attention I get now is way greater than any I ever got before. Though I still sort of feel like the "ugly friend" when I go out with my friends at night. And no, I can't go flirt with the super attractive guy because he'd NEVER be into ME. I will flirt with his not-as-cute friend. One of my friends even said to me outright, "You've lost so much weight you can date guys hotter than THAT now!"

I think it was meant to be encouraging but it really made me think. How has my "status" changed? How has my "date-ability" changed?

I almost wish I had been dating someone through this process. Someone who I felt loved and cared for me BEFORE I started all of this. I have a hard time trusting relationships right now. And I do think being more conventionally attractive has led to longer relationships. I think I don't have to be on 100% and have to make sure my sparkling personality shines through. If I have an off-night, it will likely be forgiven. I have more power in the situation.

And of course, I'm dating. I'm dating people who don't really know that I've lost weight. Though we're Facebook friends so if it were ME, they'd be obsessively stalked by now. But ... not everyone is me. I don't know how to/if I should come out as a prior fat girl. On one hand, I love being at a new(ish) job where people don't really know me as a "fat girl". I can relate to all the women in here trying to lose weight (my workplace has a small but mighty Weight Watchers contingent). But I can also go out with the girls and giggle about boys and I don't feel like the odd heavy girl on the sidelines of all the action. Because I am dating. Because people do flirt. Because I have changed. But on the otherhand I still don't understand the change. Like how people (especially from my "old" life) relate to me now vs before. My relationship to THEM has not changed exactly because THEY haven't changed. Does that make sense?

Gah I don't know. I have a lot of rambling and conflicting thoughts (clearly).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lunch Exchange: Spinach Lasagna

So I was getting a little sick of beans for lunch with Jamie. I toyed with the idea of fried rice. Fried quinoa. But nothing was sounding super appealing. In my obsessive stalking of skinnytaste.com, I stumbled across this recipe. My roommate then texted me asking if I wanted to go out for dinner. I asked her how she felt about lasagna and dinner was born!

It was SUPER easy to make (just a little time-consuming since it bakes for 40 minutes). And one roll was really satisfying for me. Gina at skinnytaste.com suggests a side salad to go with it. I didn't do that but it sounds like a nice idea to get some greens in.

The leftovers keep really well and servings are really clear/manageable. The only issue I had was that I was SUPER specific about measuring everything but I only had enough filling for 8 rolls. Also only 8 rolls fit in my pan so it actually worked out kind of well though the calorie count was probably a smidge higher on mine. Not too worried about it.

It was kind of a perfect lunch food. It was great for dinner but kept really well. I also bet it would freeze really deliciously too.

Jamie and I both brought clementines for dessert. Great minds, right?

We then went to the farmer's market and they had a deal for 2 big bags of apples for $5. Usually Jamie and I are really picky with our apple selection but this seemed like a deal too good to pass up. Plus some of the bags had some PEARS in them. Delicious. I meant to take a picture at the market but my fingers were numb!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Great Weekend!

Happy 2012 everyone!

I had a truly wonderful new year's weekend. I went down to DC to see my college roommates and it was totally lovely. I took a lot of pictures. I left from a crowded Penn Station.

When I got to DC, my friend met me at the train station and took me to this adorable bookshop/cafe. I got spicy vegan tomato soup (so freaking good!) and a quinoa, cashew, carrot and sundried tomato salad. It was super tasty and felt nice to have a lovely meal after sitting on a train.

We then went shopping for the party. I thought the shopping cart gave us away. I insisted we buy carrots and hummus (my friend is a reader of the blog and a very good sport).

The party was glitter themed and my other friend in DC tried to convince me to wear this to the party. It did not work, but I did end up feeling like a pretty mermaid for about 10 minutes.
I really didn't feel like I overdid it at the party. Having the carrots there just to munch on was infintely helpful. There were also fondue fixings and I will admit to dipping a few pretzels into the mix... but I do think the amount of chocolate that stuck was pretty minimal. I didn't drink much and so I didn't get drunk munchies either. I also made a little pact with my friend before I even went to DC. We didn't bring it up at the party but it was nice that I had some unspoken support there.

Though this was FAR from a dry party. Champagne bottles lined the windowsil.
 And there was a solid bar complete with a sombrero.
 New year's day my friends and I reunited for a day of snuggles and crossword puzzles. Very low key. No sightseeing but just a really perfect weekend.

I had Monday off as well and met a friend to go shopping. I bought this blazer and the pants as well!

 I didn't buy any of this outfit but I was really proud to be fitting in 29 Uniqlo skinny jeans.

The lighting in H&M was subpar but I bought this dress too. What you can't see is it has an exposed zipper running down the back. Very cute.

So now... I'm poor! But very happy. Shopping with my friend was really nice (she also has lost a lot of weight lately) so we had fun admiring our new outfits.

I'm grateful to have the amount of support I do. Here's to a great 2012!