Sunday, February 2, 2014

What a difference a year makes

I started this blog a long, long time ago.  I just checked and I haven't posted in over a year!  I'm not even sure I'm using the correct font.

I'm excited to revive this blog and I'm going to start with a little story about a girl.... ok, it's not a story but some true ramblings all about me!  Just what you wanted, right?

February 1, 2013 I weighed myself and I had reached 189.6 pounds.  It was heart wrenching to face what I had been denying for so long - I needed to change.  I was killing myself with food and my short body struggled to carry my weight.  Almost a year prior, my better half and I had discovered Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (FSND) and it inspired us; I made us re-watch it to find some new motivation.  We dusted off the juicer and began a fast that lasted us about 14 days.  We weren't looking for a quick fix but to reset our brains and hopefully break some of the chains that were holding us back from enjoying life away from the dining room table.

For Valentine's Day, we went to Tahoe.  We prepped for hours, loading up a cooler full of juice and we were determined not to fall off the wagon.  After long days of snowboarding (ok, long days of me watching my other half snowboarding), we broke our fast and ate dinners while continuing to juice for breakfast and lunch.  It was great!  We both felt good and I was down to about 175 after only two weeks.  I felt like I was in control.  

On Valentine's Day, my better half and I went tubing since I don't ski or snowboard and we wanted to do something fun together.  We were the only adults there and we were having fun but it was really rough on me.  Walking up the hill from the bottom of the tubing course was difficult, getting up off the ground was hard, and I just felt ridiculous, very much like the brother in A Christmas Story when he falls and can't get up.  

Then my jacket blew out.  It had been fully zipped up and my zipper failed; I had to have my husband help me fix it and I couldn't zip it up for the rest of the day which resulted in snow up my back for the rest of the run.  I felt horribly uncomfortable but continued on - hurling down the hill, rolling around trying to get my butt off the ground, trudging up to the ramp out of breath, getting pulled up the hill, and repeating the whole thing.  I was tired and breathing heavy; I considered quitting after about 30 minutes but I kept telling myself I could do it, that it was fun being outside doing something that normal, healthy people do.  My body was begging me to give up but my brain and husband wouldn't let me.

I didn't think it would get worse but it did.  On one of my last runs, I overheard an employee making fun of someone who was "300 pounds."  I immediately wondered if they were making fun of me.  They easily could have, since we were the only adults taking part in a kid oriented activity.  I was more than ready to leave and I was broken.  I had lost weight!  I felt like a failure even though I knew I was a success.  The scale had told me so.  

That was a low point for me and I could have gotten depressed, ok well, let's be honest I did get depressed.  I could have quit.  Well, losing weight hasn't been linear but I could have given up for good.  I didn't.  I veered off from juicing and joined a facebook group in April to help get motivated; I also bought a fitness kit which still sits unopened on my bookshelf and started drinking shakeology as a meal replacement.  I was super shy and it took me a while to become active in the group.  I was ashamed of myself and ridiculously self conscious about posting pics of my body and weighing in.  I didn't even take my starting measurements and I skipped the weigh in on week one and maybe week two.  About one to two weeks after the group started, I found my voice and I was greeted with warmth.  I hadn't ever experienced such acceptance; the outpouring of support started rebuilding my broken soul and I started accepting the body I had grown to resent.  

I quit shakeology because I couldn't justify the price to my husband and it was awkward to drink my shake then watch him eat so I'd often drink a shake and immediately afterwards eat a meal.  The program wasn't bad but I wasn't seeing great results which didn't leave me super motivated.  

In September I spent way too much money to have a professional photographer take new photos of my husband and I.  I thought it would be nice to have some good pictures of us.  I had lost weight and bought brand new gorgeous dresses.  I had such high hopes!  I was under the impression that I would magically be transformed into a model with this professional photo shoot.  When I received the proofs, I didn't even recognize the woman in the pictures.  It still breaks my heart to think about it; I cut off communication with the photographer and never ordered the pictures I paid for.  I'm embarrassed I spent so much money to chronicle what I feel is a sad time in my life.  I still feel like my appearance doesn't match how I feel inside and it makes me deeply ashamed after working so hard.  

Around October, we started juicing again for two meals a day which continued until we went on vacation in December with some intermittent breaks.  My goal had become to be able to enjoy our vacation in Costa Rica and I made great achievements even though it was still physically challenging.

Fast forward to - today!  We'll ignore January which had a noble beginning and lost steam when I got the flu and what I am still fairly sure was food poisoning which lead to eating too much processed food.  I don't know my weight because I haven't weighed in lately but I will tomorrow morning.  We are also going to begin juicing again which I'm excited about!  I have been getting skinnier, I know this is true because my coworkers are now commenting on it saying things like your boobs look so much smaller (this is not an insult for me) and it feels great!  It's not just about weight loss but about being comfortable enough to enjoy life!  I want to be active and take life by the balls - something I can't do if I can't move in the body I'm in.

Some people will judge me for juicing but I don't care!  I know my body after 32 years and I know that when I'm juicing, I feel good.  I feel like I'm doing the right thing which I never felt when I was doing other programs - those made me feel like I was doing what I should not like I'm using a temporary method to achieve what I hope is a permanent solution.  I am so excited and I know coupled with eating real food, I can heal myself inside and out.  I can heal my soul and my exterior will match the beauty I know I possess inside.  

Over the past year, I estimate that I've lost about 25 pounds and learned more than 25 lessons.  That picture of myself on this blog is from my wedding in 2008, when I felt my prettiest.  It is my goal to get back down to that weight.

I look forward to this journey - more pounds lost, more lessons learned, more strength built, more friendships cultivated, more love given, more wisdom earned, more life lived.  Tonight I found my cooking mojo and I made a healthy meal - my first in a long time but not the last.  I took a picture and hashtagged it - "cooking for myself with love."  That's my 2014 resolution - to treat myself with love!  I hope you join me on this journey.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A rap for my neglected blog

My s'bucks gold card is here
So I may be actin a bit queer
A peppermint mocha latte
Won't chill me out like beer
So you should have some fear

And then the hubby told me I would have been good at a Playstation game I've never heard of.  (Which is even more queer than my rapping because I have an aversion to video games and any other activity that requires eye-hand coordination beyond typing.)

The end.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Take what's (going) bad and make it good

Who's got veggies in their fridge that should have been eaten last week?  Raise your hand!  Oh, you don't?  Well, you must be a better person than I.  I like to get ambitious and buy too many veggies and then eat out 4-5 nights a week.  It happens all the time.  Last week when the hubby was sick, I decided to raid my fridge and make a soup.  I call it my kitchen sink minestrone since it pretty much had all but the kitchen sink.  Recipe as follows and you should not follow it to a T, make your own variation saving what you have from turning greener.

1 lb bacon (diced)
3/4 large white onion (diced)
3-4 carrots (diced)
1/2 bell pepper (soft spots cut off, diced)
1 super large parsnip (diced)
1.5 stalks celery (sliced)
9 tomatoes (from my garden, blend of heirloom varities)
12oz (give or take) button mushrooms (sliced)
1 package of Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausages (5)
1/2 - 3/4 box of elbow pasta (Dreamfields)
1 tbsp better than bouillon
Water (6-8 cups?)
2 bay leaves
1 branch thyme (fresh)
3 large sage leaves (fresh)
Hot Paprika
Smoked Paprika

(*all dried seasonings to taste)

In a large soup pot, I sauteed the diced bacon until it was crispy, then removed it with a slotted spoon (only burning myself in the face twice).  Set aside in a bowl.  Saute diced onions in bacon fat until almost golden/ transparent (I cut all other veggies except mushrooms while onions were sauteing).  Saute the celery, bell pepper, carrots, and parsnip with the onions, sweating them.  

Prep the tomatoes: to get the tomatoes ready, I used a paring knife to cut the part where the stem attaches out (ok, I forgot to do this part and regretted not doing it so I'm telling you to), then I used the paring knife to put a small "X" in the bottom end of the tomato.  Put tomatoes in lightly boiling water for about a minute each (until you see the skins lifting around your "X" cut), then put in a bowl of ice water to cool. Skins should peel off easily.  Quarter the tomatoes and then push the seeds into a bowl with your fingers, set aside.  Dice the tomatoes to add to the soup.  

Add tomatoes and stain seeds over pot to get excess tomato juice.  Add water (by eye depending on how much broth you want, you can add more later) and bouillon.  Add garlic and herbs - thyme, sage, and bay leaves (you can add more sage but I wimped out when a massive grasshopper scared me in my garden).  Add pasta.  Simmer until pasta is tender or up to 45 minutes, pasta will get super soft but also thicken the broth a bit.

Saute sausage in a separate pan, add to soup when done.  For some extra flavor, I sauteed the sliced mushrooms before adding them to the soup.  Add about 3/4 of the bacon back in.  Add salt and paprika(s) to taste.

Use rest of bacon as a garnish.  Enjoy!

PS- this recipe makes a pretty big pot of soup so use a large stock pot and make sure you've got room to store it in the fridge!

My hubby said this is some of the best soup I've made so I hope you enjoy it! Pretty soon I'll be off to buy all these ingredients again to make this on purpose.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Creating Healthy Habits

I wrote a post the other day and it kinda got all screwed up so I will be re-posting that later.  I'm going to make an effort to make this blog fun with a focus on food and while I am changing my lifestyle and how I view food, I will make sure this does not become some place where I rant about how much I hate to diet.  

The Habit has become quite the habit for us (more about that later) and I've got to thinking about habits and what they symbolize.  Experts say it takes 21 days to create a new habit so therefore it should take 21 days to break a bad habit by replacing it with a new one.  Unfortunately, I've found that you can't quite "forget" how awesome the gallon container of cheap nacho cheese from Costco tastes or the smell of cinnamon buns.  

Most Americans go from one extreme to the next when it comes to health; we go to extremes in most aspects of our lives - we're the ones who created the X-games!  My journey towards health has been slow and there have been pitfalls everywhere. You can see from pics on here that I go big or go home when it comes to indulging.  I'm not here to preach but over the past few years I've looked at what others have been doing that makes them happy plus gives them the body they want.  My plan is to implement some of these, give them a test drive, and if I love it adopt it, if I don't then I won't.  

Right now, I've cut sugar and grains from my diet (did you know the biologically corn is a grain?).  I am also emphasizing more whole foods versus processed items.  Seeing good food in my home makes me happy.  I have found myself making the right choices when going out and I am to the point where I'm not jealous if those around me are eating tortillas or chips - my mind is in the right place for my body.  

My newest habit attempt is smoothies and I will share my breakfast recipe with you.  If you try it, comment on here and let me know what you think.  Even if you hate it!

Breakfast of health geeks:
In a magic bullet cup (about 20 oz?  Note: I don't measure anything, just toss it all in)

Fill cup 1/2 way with ice (or a touch less)
Cover ice in coconut milk (1 cup?)
Add 1 large leaf of kale (break off stem, tear into pieces)

- blend a bit -

Now you have more room add:
1 banana (in pieces)
1 packet Stevia (eq to 2 tsp of sugar; I need the sweet esp if the bananas are not super ripe)
2 tbsp of Chia powder

- blend til smooth -

Enjoy!  I love the balance these represent in terms of omegas from Chia, calcium from coconut milk, vitamins from kale, and potassium from bananas.  It can be a perfect superfood and the banana is the dominant flavor so it feels like drinking a sweet shake (if you don't look down and see that it's green).

I've even got the hubby saying these aren't bad and he is such an eggs and bacon type of guy.  You can freeze your bananas and use them to substitute ice but take the peel off before tossing in the freezer.  (I learned that one the hard way and they don't defrost nicely!)

Here's to your health!

Got a new health focused habit?  Share below!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Healthier Dill Sauce

One of my hubby's fave childhood Czech meals is roasted or boiled beef in dill sauce.  The dill sauce is creamy, tangy, and sweet - it's probably something you would find my Norwegian ancestors putting on herring.  

Converting this recipe wasn't easy.  First of all, it's not fully Paleo because this does include cream but I used locally sourced, organic cream so I wouldn't have to feel as guilty.  I haven't found a replacement that gives the sauce the same flavor.  The original Czech recipe includes lots of flour and sugar so I think I did pretty well replacing it with healthier options and retaining the flavor.

There are some cheats here since we made it to serve with a pre-made pot roast.

Dill Sauce:

1/3 cup butter (this can be ghee or another neutral flavored oil)
1/4 cup coconut flour or almond meal (I did 1/2 & 1/2; almond meal is gritty)
2 tbsp white chia powder (for thickening)
1 cup cream divided (1/2 cup servings)
1 cup chicken broth (or broth from boiled beef)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (get the good, raw organic stuff)
4 packets Stevia (equivalent of 8 teaspoons sugar)
1/2 bunch chopped dill (pre-chop since you'll be stirring the second you start)

Mix the vinegar, dill, and sweetener in a bowl.

In a saucepan (or frying pan, as I prefer), melt the butter and then add the coconut flour and/or almond meal and chia powder.  Stir constantly, cooking on medium heat until the ingredients melt together and thicken up.  Add one half cup cream, watching your heat isn't too high.  Cook until the mixture is thick, add the vinegar/dill/sweetener mixture.  Add the broth, stirring constantly to keep it blended to prevent burning and keep from clumping.  At the end, add the last half cup of cream and salt to taste.  Cook until desired thickness (it will get thicker the longer it goes).  

Serve over beef and veggies; it's also great over salmon.  You can keep a pinch of dill for garnish as the dill in the sauce will brown a little as it cooks in.

*Side note:  This was my first sauce experiment.  Next time I plan on using only coconut flour as it's got a finer consistency than the almond meal does.  Our sauce was gritty and super noticeable when taking spoonfuls from the pan but once it was on the meat, the texture was not a problem.  Neither flour substitute left a strong flavor but I made sure to really cook all the ingredients together to meld the flavors.

Parsnip Fries

After making my goulash soup (recipe to come), I had some leftover parsnips I had to cook.  It popped in my head that I had to roast them, so one night I julienned them and stuck them in the toaster oven.  My hubby was impressed and said they were like "fries."  So the parsnip fries were born!

parsnips - julienned
granulated garlic
cayenne or hot paprika (optional)
olive oil

Julienne your parsnips, which means cut them into cute little matchstick shapes (but slightly bigger than a match stick; you can google and see a video if it's confusing).  Put them in a ziplock bag and toss in olive oil until they're all coated.  Spread out on your pan (hopefully you're putting a silpat under these); dust with salt, garlic, and paprika.  Put into a 425 degree oven (I use a convection toaster oven) for 15 - 25 minutes.

I like mine cooked well so they dry out a touch so I go for about 25 but the ends get a little burnt which I really like.  I also like to shake them about every 5 minutes and turn the pan if the back ones are cooking too fast.  Dave says they get too "parsnipy" tasting if you don't use enough olive oil.