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….
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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)
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
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.
I ran out of calories yesterday and went to the grocery store after dinner to find some veggies to snack on. I know veggies are not calorie free – but I think their benefit both health-wise and snacking-need-satisfaction-wise outweigh the calorie cost. So if I have to snack – I’ll snack on raw celery and green beans. (Another good one is cauliflower, sprayed with “butter flavored PAM” and then roasted in the oven for when I’m craving buttery popcorn.)
In any case, I started browsing the aisles – looking for anything low-calorie that would make a good snack or meal… I’d been craving chocolate – but it’s hard to get around the calories for that one. Then while in the tea aisle I found this:
Chocolate… Tea…?? Not really sure that sounds appetizing. I pictured something like hot cocoa – but really runny/watery. I put it down… I picked it back up. Really?? Chocolate tea? I put it down… I picked it back up… I bought it. Actually it’s really really good. It’s NOT hot cocoa – but that’s probably a good thing. (re: runny/watery hot cocoa = yuck) But it has enough of a chocolate taste to make it feel like a dessert. And under 5 calories for something that resembles chocolate… I’m happy. They also had other flavors too. Red Velvet. Strawberry Chocolate… I’ll be going back soon to try them all!
In other news, I’m down another pound this morning. (again, I’m sure this is going to slow soon – my guess is it’s just bloat weight I’m losing right now) I planned out the food for the day – with my Zumba class planned for tonight, my calorie count is REALLY low. I may be able to sneak in chocolate of the real-kind variety tonight!! So feeling pretty good about things at the moment. I can still see the fat on me – but I’m also feeling better – healthier – just a wee bit skinnier. Success is the biggest motivator.
Holidays are especially rough when you don’t live near family. You look out the window and see that everyone’s driveway in the neighborhood is full with visitors. Meanwhile, your house is nearly empty. Just a tad bit depressing. My parents know this, so whenever they can, they try to spend some of the holidays with us. So I’m really glad they’ll be coming for Thanksgiving this year. They won’t be able to stay too long, just the long weekend – but I’ll take what I can get!
My mom usually cooks dinner – even if it’s at my house. I don’t mind. I’m not the greatest cook, so my daughter and I act as her “sous chefs” 😉 But because they won’t be here until the night before Thanksgiving, I’ve been tasked with going out and getting all the ingredients. As fate would have it – I just haven’t had a ton of time to get out and do this task and have scheduled to do it tomorrow morning. Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving.
I know, I know… it’s going to be insanity at the grocery store. I’m just hoping that everyone else in this town is more organized than me (which is probably not too far from the truth). I DO at least already have the turkey! It’s been sitting thawing in the Fridge – so I’m not completely out of my mind. (I already made that mistake one year. If I recall correctly – we had to try to “quick” thaw the turkey with hot water. NOT an easy task with a huge turkey!!) But the rest of the ingredients are staples that I just can’t expect to suddenly disappear from the shelves. Green beans? Sweet Potatoes? I don’t really want all this food sitting around my house until we need it. We don’t have room!
Maybe this will be another year a “lesson” is learned. I’m hoping not. Either way, the available time just isn’t there.
In any case, I’ll be enjoying company the next few days. (Hopefully with all the food we have planned! LOL!) Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!!
Before I started counting calories, I hadn’t paid much attention to nutrition labels. At least, not nearly as much as I do now. Sure, I would check fiber and protein counts occasionally. Sometimes I’d double check to make sure a product didn’t contain any trans fat. Beyond that I was in the land of ignorance-is-bliss. I figured that similar products would all be about the same calories, unless something was marked as “light” – and then I assumed the item was ok to have on a diet.
When I did start to track calories, obviously this required me to pay close attention to those labels. It was a huge eye-opener. Products that seem exactly the same – can vary in calories to a huge degree. Once I saw that, reading the labels of everything I buy has become both a necessity and an obsession. It certainly has made shopping trips take a lot longer, but the quality of food I’m buying is worth the extra time. Something that can look and taste almost the same, can differ in calories by a few hundred. And the big surprise, not all of those items labeled “light” are really lower calorie.
Just today, I was looking for some quick, easy lunches. I found some instant-noodle bowls that looked interesting. They all looked about the same, but read the label and one package was around 500 calories. Another was under 300.
Another thing to watch out with those nutrition labels, sometimes I feel like they design them to fool the consumer. Something that may look like it’s a low-calorie item, may not be at all – it all depends on the portion size too. I see this a lot in cereals. We found an awesome tasting cereal that was made to look healthy and low calorie, but the one serving the nutrition label was basing it’s numbers on was so small, there would be no way to feel satisfied with it.
Scanning the labels is pretty time consuming, and with a husband and two kids usually in tow – it’s not very practical. The first few weeks of calorie counting, I had to go shopping on my own so I could spend the time to look at all the labels on the shelf. Thankfully, now things have gotten a lot easier. I’m starting to be familiar with what to expect for calories for certain items. I’m getting to know the brands that have the lower calories so shopping trips aren’t as slow as they used to be.
It took time to make this part of our regular routine and way of eating. But it’s well worth the time we invested.