A new day, a new plan

So my weight loss has stalled because I’ve become very frustrated with counting calories. I *always* feel hungry. If I exercise, I feel even more hungry. I don’t want to, and can’t exercise everyday – but that would probably be the only way to “buy back” some extra calories so I can eat more than a sliver of what is already a healthy meal. I also can see that any time I eat bread or pasta, it screws things up. I had some success on South Beach and Atkins in the past. I know the theory behind those and it makes sense – but the rigidity of those plans is also daunting. This is a “lifestyle change” after all – and if that change means “You can never eat another piece of chocolate again” – or you can only have it once a month – well, that’s going to make that change really difficult to stick to. Additionally, on the weekends we’ll often get together with family for big dinners and trying to be on a “diet” when I’m with everyone – it’s not a lot of fun. Our get togethers always seems to revolve around food – there’s no escaping it. For example: We’ll get together with my brother for dinner – and he loves high quality wine and cheese – and he’s an AMAZING cook and makes gourmet-style AMAZING food. Seriously? You want me to eat some celery sticks while I watch everyone eat everything else? Not gonna work!!

Christine has been raving about the “4-Hour Body” plan she’s been on, and sounds like she’s lost a decent amount of weight. About double what I’ve lost in half the time. Granted – if I had been able to STICK with my plan more precisely, we would have been closer to being even – but that’s the problem with my plan. Eating only 1200 calories a day, and not giving into hunger… it’s not sustainable. It’s how I ended up gaining all my weight back in the first place. I initially figured the Four Hour Body was just another Atkins or South Beach – but the one thing that drew my attention was the “Cheat Day”! The general idea here is that you follow the plan (which does not let you go hungry – but does restrict what your options are) 6 days a week. Then 1 day a week you reset your metabolism by having a cheat day. I know people are losing weight on this, but I have my doubts. If it does work, this would be awesome and would totally fit my lifestyle perfectly. The plan encourages eating the same meals repetitively – which would also work for me. I usually have the same breakfast every day and I could easily rotate the same 2 or 3 lunches every day too. For dinner I like to add variety – but that’s doable here too. And then for “cheat day” – that’s family day.

Since the calorie counting has just about run it’s course this time around, I’m ready to try something new – so we’ll see how it goes. So far my plan for breakfast is 2 hard-boiled (organic) eggs, with black beans and (no sugar added) salsa. (FYI – Green Mountain Gringo Salsa is my absolute favorite!! Not only does it not have sugar added – it tastes AWESOME!!!! I may also add Canadian or standard bacon every now and then.) Lunch for now is bean salad – This recipe in particular was really good: 5 Bean Salad – I added some canned mushrooms to that recipe. I’m also thinking that hearts of palm and/or artichoke hearts might be good in there too! (I believe both should be good on this plan) I’ll probably also vary it to by adding either some cooked turkey breast or tuna fish on occasion.

For dinner last night I made this Chicken Fried Faux-Rice. OMG. I loved loved loved it. (I even got Zach to eat a small bowl of it – with only a minor battle! Probably the most fiber he’s had all year!) Tonight – I’ll be making this recipe: Egg Foo Young. Wednesday will be this recipe: Black Bean Salsa and Chicken

The one thing I’m a little disappointed with is that on this plan, going completely vegetarian isn’t really possible. (Or at least it makes it really really difficult!!) Oh, that and Quinoa is on the “no” list. I did love Quinoa! I’m still trying to work in more beans and vegetables (and eggs) as the primary, reoccurring food so we’re not eating STEAK every night – and when we have meat – focus more on fish and chicken. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes….

My experiences with Topiramate (one of the major ingredients in Qnexa)

My husband and I have caught glimpses of some recent news about the debate of Qnexa – which is a combination of Topiramate and Phentermine. I’m sure just the mention of these two drugs will bring all kinds of interesting traffic. But I thought I would post about my experiences with Topiramate specifically – because what happened to me was real and wasn’t some bizarre side effect that doesn’t really happen to most people. I can’t speak for Phentermine, as I have never taken that before.

I’ve taken Topiramate twice before. The first time was a few years ago for the treatment of migraines. I was getting them a few times a month, and my doctor was concerned that my taking “normal” migraine medication like Imitrex several times a month wasn’t a great idea. So we gave Topiramate a try (Also known as Topamax) It did a great job for my headaches. Little did I know, it also did a great job for my waistline. I was, at the time, trying to lose weight. Watching calories, exercising. During that time I was able to get my weight down to an incredible low. A number I hadn’t seen since High School! I thought it was all the exercise I was doing, and my appetite was under amazing control. But I did have some weird side effects. One I noticed was that (aside from the appetite reduction) I couldn’t taste carbonation.¬†All carbonated beverages tasted flat to me and I stopped drinking them. Not really a bad thing – but just kind of weird. It makes you wonder what the heck is going on with the drug that makes you unable to taste carbonation! I wasn’t really aware of the biggest side effect the first time because most of my work was being sent to me by one single client, and I didn’t need to interact with anyone. Everything was done via email and Skype – so speaking wasn’t really an issue.

I stopped taking Topiramate because my doctor said there was a problem with taking it when you also use Mirena – it reduces its effectiveness. (DOH!!!) After I stopped taking it – all the weight slowly crept back on. My appetite kicked back into full swing. I had originally lost 30lbs – and before I knew it – all 30lbs came back on.

I started to take it again almost a year ago. A new doctor I was seeing didn’t think the Topiramate and Mirena together was a problem (at least initially). The side-effects came on instantly. And this time, they caused some serious problems for me. My work had shifted and I was doing a lot more client interaction. I was on the phone with clients discussing projects, explaining to them what my skills were and how I could help them, etc. But the Topiramate gave me terrible terrible brain fog. I didn’t realize what was happening at first. I thought I was going crazy. I was on the phone with a client, and I couldn’t for the life of me, gather my thoughts to explain what I did EVERY DAY. Words, ALL WORDS, were totally elusive. When I started doing some research online, I found some forums where people talked about experiencing “brain fog” while on Topirmate, and then it hit me that’s exactly what I was going through. That was it. I tossed the pills in the trash! My livelihood depended on my ability to interact with clients, and if I sounded like a moron – then my business was going to suffer.

Shortly after, my doctor contacted me and told me to stop taking Topiramate because she finally did confirm that it did reduce the effectiveness of Mirena. So that sealed the deal.

I’m sure under certain circumstances this new drug Qnexa will be the wonder-weight-loss drug some people have been waiting for. Given that the weight started coming back almost immediately after I stopped taking it (And the drug isn’t intended to be a permanent course of action) I question if it will really make a difference long term for people. I see it as kind of a temporary fix. In the same league as Jenny Craig. Once every meal isn’t specifically planned out for you, or in the case of this drug, once your appetite comes back to normal – that’s when you realize, despite all the weight your already lost – keeping it off will be probably be just as hard as it was losing in the first place. (In fact, it will probably be harder!)

I’m back to trying to lose that weight again and it’s going along, but a lot slower and more difficult than last time. I’m hoping this time once I get down to where I want to be, that I’ll be able to maintain it better than I did last time. I’m still also hoping that one day they’ll figure out a more permanent “fix” (or help) for weight troubles. (and don’t give me a story about how you just need to eat less twinkies. I’m eating very healthy and exercise for an hour 4x a week. I’m certainly living a healthy lifestyle – but the food that is made the most accessible to us is more often than not, unhealthy – and for someone like me – the “daily calorie allowance” is so low it’s practically a joke. It’s VERY DIFFICULT to stay in that calorie range and not feel hungry.)

Zumba Fitness Rush – Week 1

So this week I skipped the gym and stayed home and used Zumba Fitness Rush on the Xbox Kinnect. So far so good. Overall I’m very happy with it. I’m not sure if it’s really better than doing the exercise with just the DVD (I don’t have the DVD set) but I did burn a fair amount of calories. They actually tell you how many you’ve burned and they’re pretty accurate. The first time I did the “class” I wore my Heart Rate monitor so I could compare it with what it was saying, and it was dead on – scary enough. Although – my daughter joined me for PART of the class – and then disappeared – and it said she burned the same amount of calories – but maybe it’s just taking the average for the class.

Either way – I got a good fun workout at home. I was plenty tired and sweaty at the end of the hour – and I didn’t have to get into any fist fights with people to make room. So I would call this a success.

I do wish it would give more feedback during a *class* on how to improve. Some of the steps in the class vary more than they do in a regular in-person class – or they’re just a little difficult to follow. As well, some of those steps don’t have a “tutorial” mode on them so the only way I’ll figure them out is doing the same class a few times. I also wish they had a clock on there. More than once I’ve wondered how much more time to the class I had left. Again, though, I’m really happy with this “game” and plan on using it from now on as my main exercise plan.

Found a New Vegetarian Recipe

Ok, I’m back on track after the holidays. I fully expected xmas and new years to be flops diet wise – I wasn’t going to try and fight it and really just wanted to have fun. My plan was to just get back on track as quickly as possible which I have done. Zumba is back on track. The gym is nuts at the moment though. Everyone’s there for their New Year’s resolution. =sigh= So the class ends up being super crowded with people who don’t understand the whole personal-space thing. I think the worst offenders are the ones who don’t even do it on purpose – and especially those same ones that have no grace at all and flail like a crazy person in the class – always missing the cue when the entire class moves to the right or left… It’s dangerous! LOL!

In any case – I found a GREAT vegetarian recipe. I made it for dinner tonight and it was really yummy and filling and just awesome. The recipe is Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili. Sometimes I have to modify the recipe, short of just using more zucchini than the recipe probably called for, I followed the directions almost exactly. I had some extra calories to spare today so I threw 1/3 of a cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Yum!

One thing I’m on the hunt for some good lentil recipes. I tried a curried lentils and paneer recipe a few nights ago but it was a big flop. I really like lentils – they’re healthy and filling, but I need some flavorful recipes! I’ll keep hunting.

Vegetarian Recipes

I‘ve been trying to eat more veggie based dishes – initially fueled by a paper my daughter wrote for school. It started with some research from that Food, Inc. book – and as we dug into the issue more and more, I wanted to do better too. It’s not a change that can happen overnight – so my goals are simple – try to limit our meat-based meals to once, maybe twice a week. Buy organic when possible. Buy local when possible. I’m not going to be die-hard about any of this – but I figure any small effort will help. And as we do more and more, we’ll become more “green.”

I am of course also trying to lose weight – so when I found a bunch of diet vegetarian recipes on eatingwell.com – I was really happy. Here are a few from there and a few other places I’ve found:

Acorn Squash stuffed with Chard and White Beans.
This was really tasty – but rather than just filling the acorn squash, I’ll probably scoop it out – mix it with the “stuffing” – and then either serve inside the acorn squash shells for appearance – or just serve in bowls. I personally liked to have it all mashed together.

Chickpea Stew
I love chickpeas – but unfortunately my kids do not. So this is one I’ll make when I’m just serving myself and Sam. It was really good though.

Quinoa and Black Beans
I really love quinoa – mixed with the black beans in this dish is a nice alternative to rice and beans.

Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed with Kale and Rice
I actually substituted quinoa in this dish and it was really good. I also wasn’t so thrilled with the whol red pepper stuff thing – same as the acorn squash dish… I know it “looks” prettier that way – but I’d rather have everything sliced up nice and easier to eat.

Roasted Vegetables Galette with Olives
Ok this one was really good – and I did not expect to like it nearly as much as I did. Looking at the ingredient list I was expecting not to like it all actually. It’s not like I often eat parsnips and beets. But the mixture was great and tucked in the bread like that it was really good. I will probably use less goat cheese next time. For starters, I think that will help the calorie count of the dish – but also my daughter was not a fan of the cheese.

Chiles Rellenos
There’s a restaurant in our town that makes the best Chiles Rellenos I’ve ever had. In an effort to try and save money, diet, etc. I was determined to make this at home. They have you frying the chiles in this recipe, but I’ve been trying to use less and less oil to see if I can still have these taste ok. Maybe I’ll try just using PAM and a tiny bit of oil. The recipe takes a little practice, and I have to watch how much cheese I put in the peppers (Also I found BIG Pasilla peppers to work the best) – but this can be a decent diet dish if modified a bit. I dare say my Chiles Rellenos give the restaurant in town a run for their money!

And now for a bonus recipe… I made a big batch of gazpacho to have for lunches. This recipe comes from a coworker of mine from like 14 years ago. I have no idea where she got it:

“Regina’s Gazpacho”

Ingredients:
1 Garlic Clove
4 cups V8
2 or 3 Tblsp Olive Oil (Min 2 – if it’s still not the right taste, add the third. I think you can get away with just the two though and save the calories)
2 Tblsp Lemon Juice
1 Tblsp Lime Juice
3 Tsp Sugar (I used splenda)
black pepper
1 or 2 big cucumbers (I love cucumbers so I use lots)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup scallions
1-1/2 red peppers diced
Cilantro
Oregano
Tobasco
1 or 2 tomatoes peeled and seeded (Again, I love tomatoes, so I add the second one)

I actually just dumped it all together in a bowl and put it in the fridge. But here are the specific directions if you’re not as lazy as me:

Cut garlic in 1/2 and rub bottom and sides of bowl. Add V8, olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, splenda and pepper. Beat and chill for 1 hour. Beat again, then add remaining ingredients.

I’m not sure why you’d beat and chill and then mix… when you dump it all together it’s just as good.

I have a bowl of this with 1/4 of an avocado. Depending on how many calories I have available for the day, I may also throw in a few tortilla chips with it. I’m also planning on throwing a few black beans in there today to add some protein.