Friday, August 31, 2007

Crock Pot Cookin'

I'm going to let you in on a little secret that will forever change the way you cook pork chops. Well, maybe. It has for me.

I bought some massively thick chops - more than 1-inch - and threw them in the crockpot with a homemade bbq sauce. (More on that later.) After cooking for 7-8 hours, I literally cut them with a spoon. They were intensely good!

I've been afraid of my slower cooker in the past, because it actually cooks a little fast. I couldn't just leave it all day for most recipes. Now that I work at home, I can keep an eye on it. It's freeing me up to try things I hadn't before.

Now about that bbq sauce...

I haven't tried to calculate nutrition info on this yet, but here's the rough version of what went into it:

1/2 c. ketchup
1-2 tbsp. apple butter
1 tbsp. apple cider
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. water

I mixed it all up in right in the slow cooker. The apple butter gave it just the right touch of sweetness without adding sugar, and the spices really worked together well. Yummy! I'm going to try it on the stovetop next time and see what happens.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Well, whaddya know?

Weight loss can be an interesting thing. As those who've traveled this road can attest, there are times when it blows your mind. Like this morning, for instance. I didn't weigh in last week because I was out of town. After making many awful food choices and avoiding exercise for the past two weeks, I was sure I'd see a gain this morning.

You can imagine my shock when the scale informed me I was down 2.4 pounds. Huh? How is this possible? I had cold fries, greasy hamburgers, decadent ice cream - you get the idea. The only thing I can figure is that I might've lost a bit of muscle mass, though I'm not sure I've been working out long enough to have built up much.

Speaking of exercise, I didn't last night. I'm having difficulty getting back into the swing of that. I swear tonight I will work out. If the USPS site can be trusted, I will probably get my last set of videos & equipment in the mail tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers - I'd really like to have it soon, since some of my new DVDs require the equipment.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tired & Struggling

I did not do well yesterday. I felt awful (not at all like cooking), and I wound up eating a fish sandwich & fries from McD's after I'd already gone through my points for the day. Maybe it's post-convention lag, or maybe it's because I was off my thyroid meds for a few days - but I am really struggling. I have no energy and I'd like to curl up in bed with a hamburger and fries and just stay there.

I didn't exercise last night because I had an unbelievable headache. Might've been a migraine - but how exactly does one define a migraine? At any rate, I thought my head would explode, and the least movement or noise just made it worse. It lessened by the end of the day, but not enough to even think about a full-blown exercise routine. I really need some yoga tapes. That shouldn't be so strenuous for days I just don't feel like it.

Today is a new day. I'm eating a little more than usual for breakfast, but maybe it'll keep from the munchies later today. I have to decide what exercise to do tonight, too. Gotta get back on track!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Duplicate DVDs, Whole-Wheat Couscous, and Energy Pills

I finally assimilated most of my new workout videos into my collection yesterday. Naturally, all but one arrived while I was out of town. I was rather disappointed to find that I'd managed to duplicate two of them. My first set of Firm videos was a 3-disc set. Braeden broke one of the DVDs by accident. Since that time, they've changed the covers for the set, so when I ordered online, I didn't realize I was duplicating the set I already had. Prunes! I'd already opened the DVDs before I caught the mistake. It could have been worse - I got a DVD to replace the one that broke plus one that wasn't in my original set.

I also received upper- and lower- body workouts, as well as a new cardio video. I hate cardio, but I make myself do it anyway. Hopefully my last set will arrive soon. When it does, I'll be in good shape to work out with variety!

I'm hoping the new stuff motivates me. I'm tired. Two weeks in a row of being totally off-kilter and off-schedule has sapped some of my drive. Sure, I'll recover - I just hope it doesn't take too long to do it. I started a lower-body video last night, but just didn't have the energy to finish it. Tonight is cardio, and just the thought is already making me exhausted.

On a brighter note, I went grocery shopping last night. The pickins' are much better today! I'll be having crock-pot pork chops (cut-them-with-a-fork-tender!) and probably whole wheat couscous. I have 8 pounds of ww couscous. Yes, that's a lot - but to order from the net, I had to get a huge amount. Least I know I won't run out anytime soon!

I wish they packaged energy in a pill. Real energy, not the fake kind derived from ephedra or ginseng or stuff like that. Four-year-old boy fresh from nap energy - now that's what I need!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Wagon

There's a reason I like Weight Watchers. When you fall off the wagon, you can just jump on the next one that comes along.

I had a ball at CKU this weekend. Mom and I got to spend some much-needed time together. Unfortunately, food choices at the Opryland Hotel are not the best. In fact, they're just plain awful. The only place to get fruit was on the opposite end of the hotel, and there simply wasn't time to get there. I did the best I could, but it was easy to see that I couldn't possibly stay within points.

I also tried to exercise, and I did the first night I was there. But on Thursday we ran around so much that I got extremely hot and sweaty - and wound up with a horrific heat rash in a place that couldn't have been more uncomfortable. It completely eliminated any possibility of exercising for the rest of the weekend.

So I'm expecting to see a nice little gain on Thursday, especially considering that I didn't weigh in last week at all. It's a little frustrating, but I decided not to get too stressed about it. When there's nothing else you can do, just go with the flow.

Tomorrow's a new day. I can eat well again. I also got most of my new workout videos in the mail while I was gone. I'll have to pick them up from my friend tomorrow. I can't wait to try them out!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Please don't laugh. . .

I'm begging you. I did something crazy and added a section to the side showing my weight loss progress. That number is a hard thing to put out for the world to see. I'm hoping it will be a motivator to me, knowing that I have to post it every week. I could've just put the pounds I lost for the week, but I thought the actual weight was more important. Don't laugh at me. I hate what I've done to myself enough as it is.


Don't tell Jeff! (He's never read any of my blogs, so I am not the least bit concerned about him reading the news here.)

The DVDs I ordered a few days ago haven't even shipped yet, and I've gone and ordered some more. Oooh, I am such a glutton for punishment! I got the TransFIRMer set, plus the Jiggle-Free Arms/Buns bonus pack. I debated long and hard over whether to get those or to get the bonus pack for my new TransFIRMation set. Finally I decided I needed the step worse than I did the newest set. Besides, maybe I can con someone into buying the new ones for me for Christmas!

This will give me a total of 14 DVDs to rotate, plus the WATP & Tae Bo DVDs I already had. That probably seems like overkill, but you have to understand - I get bored very easily. If I am going to consistently do this at home, I simply must have variety. I'm slowly learning the moves to the current set, then I'll gradually work in the others as they arrive.

Maybe I shouldn't have spent all that money on myself, but it's a big motivator for me. I'm enjoying working out again. . . well, sort of. I don't actually look forward to working out, but I always feel better for having done it. In my gut I know it's good for me, and that keeps me going even when I really don't feel like it.

I'm looking for a yoga DVD. I don't get into the New Age mind/body/soul bit, but I want something quiet (and easy!) that will help me stretch. If you know of one, please let me know!

I can tell you right now, after the workout I had tonight, I am going to be hurting for a couple of days. My arms are already cursing my existence.

That's a good thing, right?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Shrimp Fried Rice

It's officially the weekend, and I officially find myself wanting a hamburger. Maybe if I can get all the 8HGs in before suppertime, I will let myself have one.

Last night I had a yummy supper - Shrimp Fried Rice. It made a huge serving, plus enough for leftovers for a couple of days. I am all about leftovers - they make the best lunches! Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Shrimp Fried Rice
Serves 4

2 tsp. canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 scallions, sliced
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 c. cold cooked brown rice
1 c. frozen petite peas
2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3/4 lb. cooked small-medium shrimp

Heat 1 tsp. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally, until scrambled and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining 1 tsp. oil in the same skillet. Add the scallions and giner; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice, peas, soy sauce, vinegar, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 4 minutes.

Add the shrimp and egg; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Per Serving (generous 1 cup): 267 Cal, 7g fat, 237mg cholesterol, 467mg sodium, 5g fiber, 21g protein, 72mg calcium. Points value: 5

Friday, August 17, 2007

New things

Now that my air conditioner has finally been fixed, I've started my exercise routine again. Since I missed several workout days, I decided to backtrack a week. It's unreal how quickly muscles can lose ground.

I made some exciting purchases yesterday. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I finally found tahini. It was in the weirdest place - by the peanut butter, of all things. I was expecting it to be either with the spices or the ethnic foods. Weird.

Then I came home and made two separate orders. From Overstock I found a total of 5 FIRM videos. One is a cardio video that comes with a stretchy band, and the other is a set of 4 of the older Body Sculpting System sets. I need variety in the worst way, and figured that since I have the old Fanny Lifter (isn't that a funny name?) I might as well put it to good use.

After that I moseyed to Amazon and bought two popsicle molds and a humongous jar of whole wheat couscous. I've been searching for the molds everywhere, but I guess since it's the end of the summer everyone must be out of stock. The kind I bought has the plastic bottoms so the popsicle won't drip as badly, perfect for a wild four-year-old. I'd given up on finding the ww couscous, and this massive jar will probably last me for a year, after which I'll probably give the jar to Braeden.

Moving on...

Have you ever had the iced coffee from McDonald's? I didn't especially like it, but I liked the idea quite a bit. I splurged on some of the Starbucks French Roast (couldn't find Sumatra, my fave blend) and made a bit vat of iced coffee. I flavored it with sugar-free daVinci syrup and sweetened with splenda. Now it's sitting in my freezer getting ultra-cold. On a day like today, I seriously need the caffeine boost! :)

As bizarre as it might sound, all these things should help me with my dieting. As far as I'm concerned, the coffee is a decadent treat. Couscous is my new best friend because it's so versatile. And I've found oodles of recipes for sugar-free fat-free popsicles that will be cheaper than storebought and good for both me and Braeden.

My logic goes something like this: I need healthy living to be a lifestyle, not a quick-fix. If I can truly enjoy the things I'm eating (and drinking) I believe it will be much easier to stick with in the long run.

Maybe that's not logic so much as it is common sense!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


My weigh-in this morning was not what I'd hoped. I lost, but it was only 0.8 lbs. This is really getting frustrating. The last time around, I lost an average of 2 lbs a week. I am just not doing that well this time, and I really don't understand why.

Perhaps my experiment didn't work. I'm seriously considering using the older version of daily points and dropping back down to 30 a day. I think maybe I'm eating too much. The thing is - I did things right last week. I stayed on plan, only with the deliberate splurges. Maybe I'm getting older so I just can't do that anymore. It seems, though, that I shouldn't notice that much of a difference in just two years.

If I didn't have a previous stint to compare, I don't think I'd be so disappointed. I just really thought this time would go as well as the last did, and it ain't. Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Small Town Dilemma

One of the most frustrating things about WW (and cooking in general) is that my tastes can run rather exotic - or at least well beyond the realm of good ol' Southern cooking. I love to experiment with funky new recipes, and most WW cookbooks have divine-looking dishes that I'd love to try. The problem is that half the ingredients simply can't be found in this rural area. This is particularly true of the ethnic foods - things like tahini and rice noodles are impossible to find. I've searched every grocery store in the county with no luck. I'm about to jump into the internet-grocery store fray. I feel a little weird ordering food online, but since I'm not likely to find cannellini beans or whole-wheat couscous anytime soon, that may be exactly what I have to do.

Last night I felt the frustration again. I love hummus. It is the best dip known to mankind. For those of you who don't know, hummus is a Middle Eastern dip made with chickpeas. It is fabulous with veggies and flatbreads. One of the key ingredients in hummus is tahini - a paste made from sesame seeds. I've been looking for tahini for months now with no luck. Last night I searched the internet for 30 minutes trying to find a hummus recipe that didn't include tahini. Eventually I threw my hands into the air and decided to make my own. I come from the Rachael Ray school of cooking (I don't measure anything) so my quantities are estimations at best. But in case you want to try something yummy that doesn't include tahini, here is the version I came up with last night:

Amanda's Tahini-less Hummus

1 15-oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 tbsp. EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
coarsely ground black pepper

Heat chickpeas in saucepan on stove. In a blender, mix lemon juice, EVOO and pepper. Drain most of liquid from peas and add to blender. Pulse until well blended. Serve veggies (carrot sticks and peppers are my fave) or tortilla chips/flatbreads.

I found that heating the peas helped them puree better in the blender. I don't have a food processor so I have to make it blender-friendly. Besides, I like my hummus warm anyway.

I know hummus sounds a little strange to someone who hasn't tried it - but trust me. It's gu-uuuuud!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An Experiment

As I mentioned previously, WW has changed since my first time through. Some of the changes are minor (like the Core program giving "approved" snacks - ha!), and some are more significant; mainly, the way daily points are calculated. It used to be that male or female, your daily points depended on your weight. Every 25 pounds lost saw two points per day lost.

Now it's different. There's a quiz you take, and your answers assign points values. It's based on a combination of age, weight, height, sex, and daily activity. Even though I am completely sedentary for my job, I started out with four more points than I did last time. That's roughly 200 calories extra per day. On paper, that doesn't seem like much - but it seems like a ton to me.

I had trouble eating 30 points last time. Now I often find myself coming to the end of the day with 10 points left, and absolutely no desire to eat a thing. One thing hasn't changed - you are supposed to eat all of your daily points. Because I'm struggling to get in my daily points, I've hardly touched my Flex points (the 35 extra you get each week to "spend" however you choose). This is where the experiment comes in.

My weight loss has not been as good as it was the first time. I haven't decided yet if it's because I'm eating more, because I'm doing some serious muscle-building exercise, or because I'm not digging into the Flex points like I was before. So for this week, I decided to take two days to burn through the flexies. Since the air conditioning has been out, cooking has been a laughable pursuit, so it seemed a good time to eat out and blow some points. Yesterday I had a burrito, cookies, and ice cream. Gotta love WW!

My theory (at least the first one) is this: I've had a pretty consistent daily caloric intake for the last several weeks. It could be that my metabolism is getting complacent b/c it thinks it knows what I will be feeding my body. My hope is that by shaking it up for two "heavy" days, I will actually burn more calories in the long haul. I know this sounds weird, but there is some scientific research to back it up. I just don't know if that's my actual problem or not. I'll find out soon enough - Thursday is my weigh-in day.

I'm crossing my fingers and toes that today the a/c will be fixed, and I can go back to cooking today. I have so many yummy veggies in the fridge, just begging to be eaten!

Monday, August 13, 2007

where I came from. . . and where I'm going. . .

I first joined Weight Watchers two years ago, just after my 28th birthday. As had become the pattern, my birthday sucked, and I sat alone, wallowing in self-pity. Something inside me clicked, and I realized that even though my world was spinning out of control, there was one thing left for me to take charge of - my health. Before the moment of inspiration could pass into the oblivion of good intentions never realized, I signed up for Curves, and the next Monday, Weight Watchers.

I jumped into both with a spectacular enthusiasm - and I did remarkably well. In nine months' time, I'd lost 80 pounds and went from a 24W to a 16. I was closing in on my college weight, and felt oh-so-good.

Then the inspiration fizzled. I went through even more life changes, and my dieting responded well to none of them. Before I knew it, I'd gained back all that I'd lost - plus a few extra pounds to boot.

Fast forward to my 30th birthday. This was the day I was supposed to be at my goal weight. I was supposed to be svelte and sexy and beautiful - and instead I felt like an elephant. Once again, something clicked. I realized that I'd been looking to Weight Watchers for a quick fix, a cure-all to an overeating problem that was far deeper than I'd understood. For the first time, I realized that food was my addiction - just as some people are addicted to alcohol or cigarettes. I used food as a pacifier, as a rebellion, as a friend. I'd been lonely and sad, and instead of turning to God with my hurts, I had allowed food cover them over like a temporary local anesthetic.

Once I came to this understanding, I knew it was time to try again. This time I had to face the whole situation differently. Dieting and exercise couldn't be a solution - they had to be a lifestyle. And that's what I'm working toward. The journey is going slower this time. It annoys me to no end to see myself in the mirror, knowing that I failed so royally. I don't like to admit my own shortcomings.

I work from home now, so it's been necessary to adjust my routine considerably from my last go-round. Having my son at home with me has made it especially challenging to exercise. I've started using the FIRM workouts. Hopefully I can gradually build up my library so I don't get too bored.

I'm also struggling to teach Braeden healthy life habits. I've been a rotten example, and the result is an overly picky kid who won't eat much of anything but mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, apple juice, and french fries. Sometimes he'll "exercise" with me - I hope that he will learn that fruits and vegetables are good things, too.

The plan is a little different than last time (more on that later), so I'm re-learning, and brushing up on the things I'd forgotten. I pray that this time I've given myself the tools to do it right - and to do it permanently.