Sunday, February 27, 2011

Week 8 - Beef and Ricotta Lasagna

So I'm into my 8th week of this weight-loss journey.  So far things are moving along quite nicely.  I lost another pound last week for a total of 10.4 pounds.  I have 69.6 pounds to go until I hit goal.  I'm excited to get that weight off.  I would say I'm excited to get to the end of this journey, but it's going to take the rest of my life to maintain the weight loss. 

I'm loving this new lifestyle.  It's not always easy.  There are days when I want to eat everything in sight.  There are days I don't want to go to the gym.  But so far, I'm making more good choices than bad, and that's what matters.  I've been very excited to learn that I can eat out without totally blowing it.  Today, my mom and I went to Outback Steakhouse for lunch.  I found out that you can ask for your entree "on the lighter side."  That means they prepare your meal with no fats, butters, oils, etc.  I got a 6 ounce sirloin, plain baked sweet potato, and season vegetables, on the lighter side.  I got a huge plate of food for 10 points.  The veggies were fantastic, and with a little bit of salt the sweet potato was phenominal.  The steak was really good and flavorful as well.  All with no butter.  I think its my new favorite dinner spot. 

I also tried a great new recipe tonight.  I made lasagna for the first time.  I was really nervous, but it turned out really good.  the portion size is huge, and it's healthy!

Beef and Ricotta Lasagna - serves 8

1 1/2 pound ground beef (extra lean)
4 cups Marinara sauce
1 8 ounce box of oven ready lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
2 1/2 cups fat free ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray 9x13 pan with Pam.

Spray large skillet with Pam and put over medium heat.  Add beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook until beef is browned and all liquid is evaporated (10 minutes).  Tilt skillet to drain off any fat that might be left in the pan.  Meanwhile mix basil and garlic with ricotta.

Spread 1 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of the baking dish.  Cover with 4 lasagna noodles, overlapping them slightly as needed.  Cover with half of the beef, dot with 1 1/4 cup ricota mixture and spread another 1 cup marinara on top.  Add another 4 noodles, and cover with remaining beef, ricotta mixture, and another 1 cup of sauce.  Add remaining 4 noodles, spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Spray foil with Pam, cover dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake another 15 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes, cut into 8 squares and serve.

10 points plus per serving
390 calories, 10g fat, 33g carb, 43g protein, 2g fiber


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spin-Dip Chicken Roll-Ups

I can't believe it's almost been a week since I last blogged.  I guess I just haven't had a whole lot that inspired me to share.  I did lose 2.6 pounds last week, which was a huge victory for me.  It felt really good coming off a .4 gain.  What prompted me to blog tonight is a new recipe I just had to share. 

A few weeks ago the idea for stuffed chicken breasts popped into my head, so I decided to try it out for dinner tonight.  The idea was to make spinach dip and roll it up in chicken breasts.  It turned out fantastic!  The hubs actually gave me kudos.  For those of you who may not know, I'm not the best cook.  I can follow a recipe out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook perfectly and it'll taste like pooh.   These were wonderful!  They are so rich and indulgent it feels like you're cheating, but you're not!

Spin-Dip Chicken Roll-Ups - serves 8

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 8 4 ounce pieces
8 ounces Weight Watchers cream cheese                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
8 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons minced garlic (fresh or bottled)
Season salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Pound out the chicken breasts until about 1/4 inch thick.
3.  In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, spinach, and garlic, until evenly mixed.  Spread the mixture evenly over the chicken breasts.  Roll up the chicken breasts and secure with toothpicks.
4.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and transfer chicken breasts.  Top chicken breasts with seasoned salt.
5.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Each serving is 260 calories, or 6 points plus for my WW peeps. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Right Tool for the Job

When we remodeled our laundry room a couple of years ago I would bet that a quarter of the cost went to tools.  I thought my husband was crazy for buying as many tools as he did for the job, but in hindsight, having the right tools readily available made the job much easier.

The same thing can be said of a weight loss journey.  If you're not propery equipped it can be very hard to be successful.  I spend $40 a month for Weight Watchers.  That gets me unlimited meetings, as well as unlimited access to their website and all of their online tools.  This includes a place to track the food I'm eating and the exercise I'm doing, as well as message boards, challenges, support groups, scientific information, and recipes.  I also get an app on my iPhone where I can look up the points values for thousands of different foods and activites, as well as calculate points values, and track my food and activities.  I also pay $30 a month for a gym membership.

Some people think I'm crazy for paying anything in an effort to lose weight.  To me, it's well worth it to have the tools I need at my fingertips.  Before when I'd done Weight Watchers, I never paid to have the online tools.  I'm kicking myself in the butt for this.  I should have spent the money way back when and I probably wouldn't be on my sixth attempt.  Can you lose weight on your own?  Absolutely.  Can it be more difficult?  Absolutely.

A baker wouldn't try to make a cake without flour, eggs, cake pans, or spatuals.  A carpenter wouldn't try to build a house without nails, boards, or cement.  A hairdresser wouldn't try to give a haircut without scissors or a comb.  So why would someone try to lose weight and change their lifestyle without having the proper tools?  I'm not saying you have to join Weight Watchers, or any other weight loss program for that matter.  There are lots of free websites where you can track your calories.  I'm not saying you need a membership to a gym.  There are plenty of places you can walk for free.  What is important is that you identify the tools that you need to make it work for you and put them in place.

This all came to mind today because I left my cell phone at home.  The  Weight Watchers app has become my lifeline when I'm out of the house.  At the drop of a hat I can research points values and make smarter decisions a lot quicker if I have it.  I decided to tag along with my roomie at work for lunch today, but when we left we had no idea where we were going.  I had to make a blind decision and I hated it.  I could have made a better choice, but fortunately the choice I made didn't blow me out of the water for the day.  But had I had my phone and known ahead of time the points value of what I was going to eat, I would have ordered something else.  For me, not having the information staring me in the face makes it easier for me to ignore it.  I need my tools to be successful, just like we needed the new tools to complete our remodel.

What tools do you need?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Putting On Your Big-Girl, or Boy, Panties

Today was just one of those days.  I was extremely groggy this morning and had a very hard time waking up and getting out of bed.  Work was just odd today.  I wasn't really busy per say, but I had a bunch of different stuff going on.  I never did feel like I woke up, and I was hungry all day.  The last thing I wanted to do after work was go to water aerobics.  I was trying to think up all kinds of excuses, that ranged from I'm tired, to I have too much to do at home, to my ankle hurts.  My biggest excuse was I didn't want to be sore because that could potentially affect my weigh-in on Saturday.  But at 5pm I decided that I needed to put on my big-girl panties and go to water aerobics.

Unlike last week, I'm not dying of pain tonight.  I think I actually had a harder workout this week, so I'm kind of shocked.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  But I digress...I am so glad that I put on those big-girl panties and went because I feel fantastic tonight.  I'm alert, I'm feeling good, and yes, I'm even feeling skinny :). 

I had some time to reflect on the way home tonight, and I realized, that I've been making excuses for the last 10 years.  I still find myself making excuses.  I'm too tired, I have too much to do at home, I don't want to leave the hubby home with the puppy, I'll go tomorrow, the roads are bad, I'll do it later, I don't look that bad, my husband loves me anyways, I'm bored, I don't know what to do, I don't feel like cooking, I want chinese food NOW, there is no food in the house, blah, blah, blah - these are all of the common excuses for not working out, not trying to lose weight, binging, etc.  I've even used medical issues as the excuse for not losing weight.  Granted, a certain medical condition can make it harder to lose weight, but by no means does it prevent it. 

Well, today, the excuses end.  No more.  The more I work out the more energy I will have.  The dishes can wait.  The puppy can survive without me.  If I go today too I get more activity points.  If I can get out of my driveway I'm going; if not I'm shoveling.  There is no later, only now.  I'm fat, I need to deal with that, and I'm sure even though my husband loves me he wouldn't mind me looking better.  I have an app with hundreds of different work outs.  The hubby can cook.  Chinese food isn't going to disappear over night.  There's a grocery store around the corner.  These are the answers to my excuses. 

The mental shift starts today.  No more whining and making excuses.  From this day forward, the big-girl panties stay on for good!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let's Change it Up

I'm finding that it's a lot easier to stay on track with my lifestyle change and weight loss journey when things are either going really good, or really bad.  This week has been just kind of ho-hum.  I've had a few stumbles, but nothing too serious.  The scale is moving downward, slowly but surely.  There just isn't anything to jump for joy over or to beat myself up about.  I've found that this can very easily lead to complacincy. 

I've kind of been on auto pilot for the last week or so.  I've been taking the same foods and snacks with me to work every day.  I know that if I grab those things I stay within my points.  But it makes it so much easier to go out for lunch when I've already brought my food, because then I get to taste something different.  I went to the grocery store last night with a surprisingly short list for the next 2 weeks.  Had I stuck to my list, I could have gotten out of the store with about 3 bags and having spent only $40-$50.  But, I decided that I needed some new foods and snacks to break out of the boredom. 

I went up and down every single isle at the grocery store and looked for things that both sounded good and were somewhat healthy.  I had my points calculator pulled up on my phone and I think I checked about half of the foods on the shelf.  I ended up buying almost 3 times the amount of food I went in for, but I'm actually excited to try my new goodies today.  I really think this is going to be the key to keep me from splurging at lunch.

Here's my menu plan for today so far...

Breakfast: 7 points
     Jimmy D's French Toast Griddler - 6 points
     Apple - 0 points
     Can of Tomato Juice - 1 point

Lunch: 10 points
     Marie Calendars Rosemary Chicken with Sweet Potatoes - 4 points
     Reduced Fat Wheat Thins (29grams) - 3 points
     1 Wedge Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb Cheese - 1 point
     Jell-o Sugar-free Chocolate Pudding - 2 points

Afternoon Snack: 2 ponits
     Apple - 0 points
     Special K Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar - 2 points

Dinner: 7 points
     WW Potato Chowder - 6 points
     1/4 cup Kraft fat-free Cheddar Cheese - 1 point

That's a lot of food!  And I'm only at 26 of my 31 points for the day, so I can have a snack after dinner. I'm finding that it's important to have variety in my diet.  If I get bored, I binge, and binging isn't good.  I constantly have to remind myself that I'm not on a diet, but instead I'm changing my lifestyle.  Every day I need to ask myself, "Am I willing to eat like this for the rest of my life?"   If the answer is no, then I'm probably in a food rut and need to dig myself out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just Let It Go

It's been almost a week since my 80 point binge.  I gained 0.4 pounds this past week.  It put me in a funk yesterday.  I only gained less than a half a pound, which given everything I ate last week, is pretty darn good, but I hate seeing that gain on the scale.  Today, I decided that I need to just let it go.  I can't stew about that bad day anymore, and I can't stew about the gain either.  What's done is done, and I need to refocus on this moment and what I can do right for next week's weigh-in. 

I'm finding that this lifestyle change is more about attitude than anything else.  Attitude can make you or break you.  When I'm in a funk, all I want is salty, fatty, greasy foods, and I will eat everything in sight.  When I'm in a good mood, and have the righ attitude, I can't wait until I can have an apple or a sugar free pudding.  When I'm in a funk, I don't care if I go over my daily points and dip into my weeklies.  When I'm in a good mood, I do everything I can to make sure that I get to eat as much as I can with only my 31 daily points. 

Instead of thinking about and focusing on my screw ups and bad days, I need to celebrate in my good days and achievements.  I've decided to do that this week.  So far, so good.  Yesterday I earned 14 activity points by cleaning my mom's house, and walking around the remodeling show.  Today, I earned 12 activity points by walking 6 miles round trip for breakfast/lunch.  Now, both days I have dipped into my weekly points allowance, so that's something I need to work on, but getting the extra activity definately helps. 

So far I'm up to 26 activity points for the week.  I only have 23 left to earn to make my challenge for this week.  That's completely doable.  Tomorrow they will be earned by grocery shopping and putting said groceries away.  Not to mention I have a bunch of laundry to do.  I LOVE that housework counts!  Tuesday will probably be earned by more laundry and some fitness games on the Kinect.  Wednesday of course is water aerobics, and I think Thursday will be taking the puppy for a walk.  It's supposed to be almost 70 here on Thursday. 

My goal for this week is to maintain my positive attitude so that I can earn those extra activity points, and have a big gain at the end of the week!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Holy Water Aerobics Batman!

So I just got home from water aerobics about half an hour ago.  I already hurt.  Just sitting here on the couch and typing this is causing me pain.  I can't bear to think what tomorrow is going to feel like.  It was one heck of a work-out.  The only unfortunate thing is, I was shown up by a pregnant woman.  I was huffing and puffing and towards the end it was hard to give 100%, and this lady was barely breathing.  In fact, I saw her in the locker room putting on workout clothes so she could go do more stuff in the gym.  Meanwhile I was putting on my sweats and trying to get out the door as fast as possible. 

When I was younger, I was very athletic.  I started figure skating when I was 2, and started skating competitvely when I was 8.  I did that until I was 14, which is when I took up volleyball.  I played for 2 years through school, and then played on our church team.  I was always on the go, and very physically fit.  Then I graduated from high school, moved away, and all that activity ended.  I did play the occaisional round of golf every now and then, and even joined the gym and did some classes, but that didn't last real long.  That's when I ballooned up.

For basically the last 10 years I've lived a sedentary lifestyle.  I made an attempt to get back into the swing of things last year by hiring a personal trainer.  He definately held up his end of the bargain.   Every work out was hardcore and out of the 8 sessions we had, I threw up 7 of them.  He went easy on me during the first one.  While I was working out with him I didn't lose a single ounce, but I went down 2 pant sizes and a shirt size.  But once my sessions ran out, I quit going. 

So here I am 6 months later, trying to start all over again.  Thinking back, I've tried to lose this weight many times.  I've even been on Weight Watcher's multiple times.  But I've always been concerned with just the food.  Cutting calories alone will cause you to lose weight.  It's a basic equation: calories in vs. calories out.  You need to take in fewer calories than you expend.  Seems simple enough, right?  Let me tell you, it's way easier when you're doing some kind of physical activity. 

It doesn't have to be much.  The key is doing more than you've been doing.  I'm a couch potato, and I like it that way.  I would much rather come home from work and sit on the couch with my husband and my dogs while watching a movie or playing around on Facebook, than going to the gym, or going upstairs to play Zumba or EA Active.  But I know I will lose this weight, and inches, faster if I move more.  It can be as simple as walking around the block a few times a week, or walking up and down the stairs during a commercial break.  Heck, even go do a lap around the mall (and no, you don't have to be one of those dorky mall walkers). 

I joined a challenge on the Weight Watcher's website today.  The challenge is to earn 49 activity points each week.  To put this in perspective, an hour of water aerobics earns me 6 points.  I need to average 7 points a day to make this goal.  I have already earned 27 for this week, but that means I need to earn another 21 points by midnight Friday.  I'm not sure I'm going to make it this week since I started late, but it's on for next week. 

Who's with me?  Who is going to commit to moving more?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Have I Been Thinking?

I have felt so incredibly awful today.  I had an extremely hard time getting up this morning, and I don't feel like I ever completely woke up.  I've been sluggish, unmotivated, bloated, and cranky all day.  I had a hard time concentrating and focusing, and couldn't wait to get home to go to bed.  I know it's all because of the food I ate yesterday.

What I don't know is why I kept doing that to myself day in and day out for years.  I've basically been the same weight, give or take 20 pounds for the last 11 years, and it was all due to the fact that I was eating like I did yesterday every day.  I really do think I have a bit of a food addiction.  For years it was all about where we were going out for dinner, or what we were having for lunch.  I could tell you all the best places to eat, and quote menus for restaurants in 3 major cities.  I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm sad, I eat to celebrate, I eat to console. 

I learned last night that I'm ready to not live like that anymore.  To tell you the truth I really don't remember anything that I ate yesterday tasting fantastic.  Ok, the cajun fries at 5 Guys are coming to mind, but I could have done without the burger, and defiantely the 32 point baked potato! (Yes, I'm still pissed that a simple baked potato had 75 grams of fat!  They had to have injected it with an entire stick of butter because based on the toppings I saw, it's completely unfounded.)  I'm learning that I like healthier food.  I'm sure there will still be splurging in my future, I mean, we need to enjoy life, but yesterday was my last binge.

Monday, February 7, 2011

No Good, Horrible, Awful, Rotten Day

Today was probably the worst day I've had since joining Weight Watcher's.  My roomie at work suggested we go to 5 Guys Burger and Fries for lunch.  A little cheese burger and half an order of fries is 23 points.  I get 31 in a day.  That's a lot of points for 1 meal, but do-able.  I had 9 points for breakfast, dinner should have been 6, so I was going to dip into my weeklys, but that's ok, it's totally worth it for 5 Guys.

But then, I got a Kit Kat while we were at Target.  Ok, so a few more weeklys, still not a huge deal.  Then I got home from work, and the hubby brought home an xBox360 with the new Kinect.  Well, that prompted us to run to Best Buy to pick up EA Active 2, and Zumba Fitness.  Hey, I'm getting work-out games, that's good right?  Well, Kevin said something about getting a Kit Kat while we were at Best Buy and I gave in.  they are my weekness.

Then we went to Jason's Deli for dinner because I was starving.  I figured a half of a Plain Jane potato couldn't be that bad, maybe 15 points (I had already resigned myself to the fact that I would be using all of my weeklys today).  Well, upon looking at the nutritional information on Jason's Deli website, I see that my half a potato had 75 grams of fat.  That's as far as I've gotten.  I don't know how many points it was.  I don't care at this point.  It's a pretty safe assumption that I have no weeklys left, and I'd be lucky to have any of the 16 activity points I've earned left.

Ok, so I just calculated the points on that potato, it was 32 points.  I could have had a way better sandwich and soup for that.  Ugh.  Jason's Deli is off my list of places to eat.  I have now eaten 80 points today, have no weeklys left, and only 2 of the 16 activity points I earned this weeked.  I didn't even eat this many points the day we went to The Melting Pot for my birthday.    *sigh*

I now realize why I am fat though.  I used to eat like this all the time and think nothing of it.  I really want to cry right now.  But that won't do me any good.  What I need to do is have a smart plan for the rest of the week.  I need to leave today behind...everyone has these bad days once in a while...and move on.  One thing my Weight Watchers leader always stressed is that Weight Watchers doesn't ask you to be perfect.  No one can ever be perfect on a weight loss journey.    Thank goodness I got those fitness games tonight. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I'm Back!

I can't believe I haven't blogged in almost a week!  Last week was just awful.  Work was crazy, we got a ton of snow and I was actually snowed in on Wednesday, the puppy had to go to the vet, and I had to get the house cleaned for a dinner party that I had on Saturday night.  Oh, and I ate horribly.  I was hungry all week, and I wanted everything that was bad for me.  In a way, the snow was a blessing, because the 2 and a half hours of shoveling probably saved my weigh-in. 

I am happy to report that I lost 2 pounds this past week!  I am now down a total of 7.2 pounds in 4 weeks.  That only leaves 72.8 pounds left to lose.  To some of you that might seem like an impossible task, to me, that number sounds completely doable.  The first min-goal I had set for myself was to lose 5% of my starting weight.  The first week I weighed in, I weighed 210.4 pounds.  That would put 5% at around 11 pounds.  Satuday I weighed in at 203.2.  I only have 4 more pounds to lose before I hit my 5%.  I would love to lose all of that this week, but I don't think my body will do that.  I'm shooting for 2 pounds this week and 2 pounds next week. 

This week my big goal is to move more.  Last week I earned 32 activity points, but those were for 1 day of cleaning the house and 2 and a half hours of shoveling.  The rest of the week I was really sedentary.  This week I'm going to make use of my Wii and I'm definately going to water aerobics on Wednesday night.  Other than that it will be business as usual this week. 

Oh, I have a recipe to share...Apple Struesel Cupcakes
  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  1. Mix cake mix, water, apple sauce, egg whites, and oil with an electric mixer until just mixed.
  2. Stir in apples.
  3. Divide mixture evenly to make 18 cup cakes
  4. Top each cupcake with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Yields 18 cupcakes, 161 calories each (or 4 Points Plus)