29 July 2009

Small Plates

I grew up in a family of 7, my parents, 4 siblings and myself. Informal meals were always served on a long counter with 4 bar stools on either side. The counter was actually a half wall between the kitchen and dining room. Food was always served "family style" with lots of dishes and platters placed in the middle of the counter. We would pass the dishes around so everyone could load up their plate for the first serving followed by seconds and sometimes even thirds. This is how I developed my early relationship with food.

When I married and had children of my own, I kept the same habits and found myself serving food to my family the same way I learned as a child. Once the boys got a little older, we all started loading our plates up in the kitchen so we could eat in front of the TV. I know, I know.... this was a terrible thing to do, but it seemed like such a good idea at the time.

Now that we are older and wiser, we have developed new methods to help us stay focused on our new relationship with food. I have retired all the 12" inch dinner plates and started using the 9" inch salad plates to serve all our main entrees. I now plate all food in the kitchen and carry the plate to the dining room table. Serving dishes and platters are left in the kitchen with the pots and pans, so there is no going back for a second helping. The only exception to this rule is when we have company.

I find it really is true... "We eat with our eyes first." So, presentation has a lot to do with meal satisfaction. Here is the photo from last night's home cooked dinner. We split an 8 ounce Ahi Tuna steak, seared rare on the panini grill, dipped in toasted sesame seeds and a sugar-free teryaki sauce. This was served over a bed of stir-fried garlic spinach with key lime juice and a side of brown & wild rice. We also had a small cucumber, onion and grape tomato salad tossed in a creamy Greek yogurt & cider vinegar dressing. It wasn't a lot of food, but it was delicious and more that satisfying. Total number of calories: 397

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16 July 2009

SparkPeople & "Me and My Shadow"

A couple of months ago the morning news show, Good Morning America, ran a segment on weight loss. They interviewed a female doctor that has recently lost over 100 pounds. She had been overweight for years and felt it was important for her to loose the weight and set a healthy example for her patients. She said she owed a lot of her success to the motivation and tools she found on the web site SparkPeople. After the show, I looked up SparkPeople on the web and after reading some of the success stories I decided to sign up as a member. I have have been a yo-yo dieter most of my life, but the tools for tracking nutrition and exercise have made it so easy to stay on top of our daily goals. Now that I have mastered a balanced diet and portion control for the first time in my life, I use the SparkPeople tools to track our food intake and browse the recipes members have contributed to find new and interesting meals.

There is also a community forum for members were we can post stories, words of encouragement, etc. Today there was an interesting story from one of the members that echos my goals for the future.

I asked Trudy, another SparkPeople member, if I could share her post on our blog and she has graciously agreed. Here it is...

"Me and My Shadow...

How does that song go?

I was walking the other day and looked down at the sidewalk and saw this stranger walking with me. I stared at the image and for a brief moment I asked "Who the heck is that?" "This person doesn't have all those lumps and bumps of ugly fat on her that I do"... A brief moment, then tears came to my eyes as it hit me. This was ME.

I weighed myself yesterday. The scales said 141.6...I realized that I had now lost 70 pounds! Then I put on my gift to myself- a pair of size 8 Kymaro jeans I was saving for this moment. Never in my life have I worn a size 8. They look good, yes, I can honestly tell you that. Oh, the journey is not over, far from it with another six pounds to go in order to reach my goal and then toning up my body. All in good time, but for now I reflect on some of the things I have learned on this my journey of a million steps.

I have learned that the prison of shame and guilt that I had built was my own creation and that I had the power to tear it down, or to build it up. It is all up to ME.

I had to learn to take personal responsibility for every bite of food that I put into my mouth, and that I had to eat healthy to BE healthy.

I had to learn that you either do IT (diet/exercise), or you don't -- there's no middle ground and that life is full of choices and I choose to be happier and healthier with mine.

I learned that I could acknowledge myself in ways other than eating. I no longer have to be an "emotional eater" to do that.

I learned to admit to myself that I was fat and unhealthy because I chose to overeat and I chose foods that were unhealthy and fattening.

I learned I just needed to find a diet plan that worked for ME. For me this is the idiot proof diet plan. Eating the right combination of foods, eating small portions knowing I will eat again in two hours, and eating healthy food was and is my key to success.

I learned that I am not a failure even though I may have "failed" when I dieted in the past.

I have learned that "temptations" along my journey are merely a test to my commitment. And, if I give myself the "gift" of an occasional temptation it makes the journey go much better.

I have learned that losing weight is not the end result but the beginning of a new chapter -- complete with new challenges, commitments and dreams!

I have learned that the journey will NEVER be over for me, that this is just the beginning of another journey to a happier and healthier life full of mountains and valleys, but with the help of all my SparkFriends I will accept the hills and valleys and travel with them...with the knowledge that I CAN continue, and I CAN do this, with their help and support."

Thanks to Trudy for sharing...
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13 July 2009

In my last post I mentioned John and I have lost 85 pounds between us. We have changed our eating habits and discovered we can eat just about everything if we limit the quantity and adjust some of the preparation methods. It's not rocket science, but in the past, neither one of us paid much attention to what we put in our mouths. We really enjoy eating, so it became paramount that we find a way to lose weight while satisfying our hunger with tasty foods.

Now that we have been committed to this since February, it has truly become a way of life and I don't think we could ever go back to our bad eating habits again. The price is just too high!

We have adjusted our calorie intake to an average between 1200 and 1500 calories per day. We eat 6 times a day, so we are never hungry. Since this calorie intake is so much less than what a normal body requires, we can't help but drop the pounds. I did a little research to back this up and here are the calorie requirements recommended by the "experts" at our goal weight:

Daily Calorie Requirement for MEN
Height: 5' 10"
Lifestyle: Lightly Actively
Desired Weight: 160
Calorie Requirement: 2000

Daily Calorie Requirement for WOMEN
Height: 5' 3"
Lifestyle: Lightly Actively
Desired Weight: 135
Calorie Requirement: 1600

I am now preparing meals that average 300-350 calories each. We supplement the meals with 3 snacks a day that average 100 calories each. The snacks are eaten mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening.

We started this journey by joining the Jenny Craig Weight Loss program. In the beginning, we got all our meals and snacks from them and then gradually I started adding in meals I had prepared. Now, I prepare all of the meals and most of the snacks. We still go to our local Jenny Craig center every Saturday to weigh in and keep ourselves on track.

There is a link to our family cookbook at the top of this page. I am going to start sharing all of my low calorie recipes with anyone looking for a healthy, well balanced meal. I will add the letters "*WP*" to the title of each low-cal recipe. I also plan to go back and edit each of recipes I have already posted to add in the nutritional information.

Below the blog postings you will find a ticker tracking tool we are using to mark our progress toward reaching our weight loss goal. At the rate we are going, we expect to be showing off a new wardrobe next year.

Next, I will tell you about all the new recipes I have come up with that make it easy to stick to this lifestyle....

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11 July 2009

Time to start blogging again...

I have been very negligent as of late and I have not kept up with our blog entries. It’s time to bring our readers up to date on what we’ve been doing lately.

In February, John and I decided we had to get serious about our health and weight, so we dramatically changed our eating habits. I am pleased to report we have dropped about 85 pounds between us. You could say we have lost the equivalent of a 10 year old child. This is not a diet, this is a total lifestyle change and I think we will probably eat this way for the rest of our lives. I will blog more about this later.

I’m still without employment, so in late March I was able to take a road trip to Ft. Worth, Texas where John attended a conference. We both managed to come down with bad colds which turned into the coughs from hell.

We took a trip to Costa Rica for 12 days in mid April. Even though we still had our coughs, we had a great time. We really didn’t have any work that needed to be done around the house, so we took the time to visit some places John hadn’t been to before.

We took a day trip to Monteverde where we rode the Canopy SkyTram followed by a walking tour of the jungle canopy. I was really glad I remembered to bring a sweater with me because it gets chilly up in the mountains.The vistas were amazing.We ate lunch in town at a typical Tico restaurant. We ended the day with a visit to the Monteverde Dairy for one of the best ice cream cones in the world. Yummy! The ice cream is not on our normal menu, but everyone needs a little splurge now and then. The secret is in the portion control. We bought some Parmesan cheese and the best smoked cheddar I have ever tasted. This is true smoked cheese, not artificially flavored. I now know I had never had the real thing before.

We have actually found the Costa Rican way of eating is more in line with our new dietary changes.

John had never been to the Pacific side of Costa Rica, so a few days after Monteverde we headed out for Puerto Limon via the Braulio Carrillo National Park where the mountain views were majestic. Once we got to Puerto Limon we headed south through Puerto Viejo and eventually found our way to Punta Uva. We found a wonderful hotel in Punta Uva. The hotel had a nice restaurant, pool and large cabins with hot water, a/c and a veranda. John heard howler monkeys for the first time that evening, so we decided to sit out by the pool where we were serenaded by the local frog population. The restaurant staff accommodated us and served our dinner and drinks poolside.
The next day we headed back to Atenas via the southern route through Turrialba, the Orosi Valley, Cartago and San Jose. Again, the scenery was spectacular.

The only downside of the trip was Isuzu Susie decided we didn’t need any air conditioning, so it just quit working.

Vinicio promised to have it fixed for us before our next trip to CR. He is also going to get trees planted along the east property line. It is great to have such wonderful friends as we have in Vinicio and Maritza.

When we got back to Houston the bathroom scale reported John had lost 5 pounds and I had lost 3.

More to come later…

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