Monday, February 28, 2011

Finding Motivation to Work Out

So, I'm working on my fitness. 

I have gone through workout binges in the past, I even went through a 6 month period in DC where I'd wake up every other day and hit the gym before work.  Then daylight savings came... and it became harder and harder to wake up early, so I stopped going.  That would be during weight loss #1. 

During weight loss #2, I decided that it was obvious the gym and I weren't compatible, so I ate right and lost weight without ever stepping foot inside of a gym, or popping a workout video into my DVD player.  Another failed idea, since the introduction of a new relationship and new friends meant more food and beer, and without any sort of exercise, my body once again found those 20 lbs.

This time around, I'm just trying to feel good.  I've been working out at home, but after a month and a half of that, I really feel the need to switch it up a bit.  I'm not interested in spending very much money on my fitness, so I looked into less expensive options than a gym.  Turns out, my office is a member of COSE- The Council of Smaller Enterprises, and through them I get two free days a week at my local YMCA.  Now- COSE is specifically a North Eastern Ohio regional business group, but if you get health care through your office, chances are your health care provider offers savings on gym memberships, or even has free options like COSE Y-Days.  It never hurts to ask- even if you already have a gym membership, they might even have reimbursement programs! 

The YMCA near my house isn't the best gym in the world, but it's free and a change of pace from my spare bedroom.  My question is, dear reader(s), how do you keep it up?  I mean, beyond the initial weight loss period,  what motivates you to keep going?  I have friends who LOVE to run, or are crazy about the gym; but what about people like me, who aren't jazzed by the idea of heading to the gym?  Do you just bite the bullet and go, even though it doesn't make you happy?  I mean, YES, looking good, losing weight, feeling healthy makes me happy.  But running a mile?  That makes me miserable.   I'm trying my best to switch up workout routines and locations, but I'm afraid the day will come when I decide the couch looks like a better idea than the work out room.  It's happened before, and while I NEED to maintain a fitness regime for my personal health, I want to be realistic about it.   I hope I don't sound too lazy here, but I'm just being honest. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Remember last week, when I only lost .2 lbs?  WELL, hold the phones.  This week.... I weighed in.... I lost a whopping 2.6 lbs!!!!  My biggest loss thus far!  Needless to say, I'm pumped.  I tried on these J. Crew corduroys this morning that are my favorite winter pants, and guess what!  They fit!  I mean, technically they "fit" before, but that was loosely based on the fact that they buttoned.  Barely.  Well now, they fit like I should be modeling them in the catalog.  (Not true, my legs are NOT that hairy)

I feel like I should take a minute to tell you about my WW leader- she's this tiny Scottish woman who is hilarious, not serious about anything, and inspiring.  And drinks whiskey.  (not in meetings, of course)  She usually closes the meeting with a poem or passage from a book that leaves us with a little nugget of wisdom for the week- this time it was a message about how we're in charge of our happiness.  It was like she was reading my mantra- this is my body, this is my life and health, and I am the only one who is in control of that.  I can complain and bitch as much as I want, but it doesn't change the fact that I am the only one who is responsible for my weight loss and gain, and I am the only one who can do anything about it.  Yes- there is more to life than weight, for sure, but feeling healthier has definitely had an impact on my happiness.

Take charge, people!!   Live your life for yourself, be healthy so you can have MORE of life. 

Week 6: -2.6
Total: -8.2

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weekly Recipe Round Up!

So... I've been cooking.  A Lot.  Instead of doing a recipe review of each and every recipe I make, I've decided to just do a once a week (ish) post on the delicious fare I've been whipping up in the kitchen. 

Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells
Skillet Lasagna
Zucchini-Feta Pie
Smoke-Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers
Spinach and White Bean Stew
Scallops Over Orzo With Spinach

I've made all these recipes in the past few weeks.  I've been able to modify each one (except the Scallops!  those were for Valentine's day!) to be Weight Watchers friendly. (i.e. 99% Fat Free Ground Turkey Breast instead of Ground Beef, etc.)  I've been trying out all sorts of new things in the kitchen- even my food processor!!  I'm really getting the hang of meal planning- I'm trying to make recipes that are multiple servings, so I have a healthy, portioned lunch to take to work with me.

You'll notice so far, most of my recommended recipes are from The Well-Fed Newlyweds or Smitten Kitchen, and that's because I'm currently obsessed with both.  They have a large variation of recipes to choose from, vegetarian options, and are really fun to read.

Tonight's weigh in- wish me luck!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe Review: Roasted Stuffed Peppers

Wow.  That's all I can really say for this recipe... It really knocked my socks off.  You've probably realized at this point that if I'm going to post about a recipe on here, it did exactly that, but I never fail to be amazed when I make something with simple ingredients, and it just turns out so fantastically.

I found this over at Smitten Kitchen, when trying to find a good pairing with grilled steak.  My patio finally thawed enough on Friday to pull the grill out from under the eaves of my house, so Nick and I decided to grab some juicy steaks and throw them on the grill.  Normally, we just chop up random veggies (broccoli, red pepper, red onion, tomatoes, you name it) and roast them in the grill pan- but I felt like something a little... prettier for dinner.  After some internet searching, I came across this recipe for Smoke-Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers and thought it'd go well with steak.  Who ever came up with the idea of stuffing peppers with more peppers- genius.

This is my version, with a little tweaking.

Grill Roasted Stuffed Peppers
Serves 2
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 Large Red/Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper
1/2 Jalepeno, seeds removed (or with seeds, depending on your heat index)
2/3 C Corn- I just used frozen out of the bag
1 Tbsp Butter
1/2 C Red Onions
2 Cloves of garlic- crushed
1/2 Medium Zucchini- chopped
Handful of Chopped Fresh Herbs- I used Parsley
Ground Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1/4 C Panko Bread Crumbs (you can use any kind, I just have these on hand)
4 Small Sweet Peppers (or you can use more bell peppers- about 1/2 C)
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese

Pre-heat grill to 350º

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of Butter.  Once hot, sautee red onions for about 4 min.  Throw in garlic, sautee for another min or so.  Throw in jalepeno, sweet peppers, chopped zucchini, corn and herbs; let cook until veggies are tender.  Salt and Pepper to taste- throw in bread crumbs to soak up any remaining butter in the pan.  Set aside.

Cut Bell pepper in half- de-seed, but leave stem.  Salt and Pepper the inside of the bell pepper, then fill with the stuffing from the pan.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top.

Place peppers onto grill, but NOT directly over heat source.  Turn one of the burners off to achieve this.  Close grill cover and let it cook for about 20-30 min.  Enjoy!!!  I'm sure you could cook this in the oven too, if you don't have a grill... I'm sure the cooking time/temps wouldn't vary too much.

This went great with steak, and looked beautiful.

The next day, I was hungry for lunch, and had an extra red pepper, and some leftover stuffing.  Not enough to fill both halfs, so I mixed a 1/2 C of Pinto Beans in with the stuffing... This was SO great.  A tasty vegetarian lunch.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Glorious Day

Today- I felt like this when I got up and looked outside:

Actually, I felt like this BEFORE I looked outside.  It's just been a great morning.  I don't know exactly why- it just seems like good things are not only coming, but they're already here.  I read a blog post over on The Grateful Sparrow about making a list of five things you're grateful for every day.  Now, I might not physically make a list everyday- but I think it's a wonderful idea.

Today I am grateful for:
1. Wonderful weather!  We have a spring thaw here, and it is 60º out!!  Paired with the sun, it's practically a miracle here in Cleveland.
2. Support system- I have the greatest boyfriend, my wonderful family, his wonderful family, the best friends and the cutest niece in the world who are always there for me.
3. The best dog!  Sure- he's dumb sometimes (all the time) but it's just the greatest to have a dog that's all mine.
4. A job that I love- not ALL the time, but no one loves their job ALL the time.  I plan on being here long term, and couldn't be happier about it.
5. A roof over my head- not just a roof, but a well built, sturdy, beautiful roof.  I'm so proud of my house, and everything I've done to it ever since living there.

These are things that I am grateful for not just today, but every day.  (Well, except for the weather- although I know that good weather will come eventually)  It's easy to be grateful when things are looking up- but I'm going to try and do this for myself everyday- even when I'm going through a rough patch.  But what a GREAT day to start!!!

Cleveland, I love you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baby Steps

Well... I weighed in yesterday. I lost, but only .2 lbs.  I'll be honest, I was pretty disappointed.  Granted, two days prior to weigh in it was Valentine's Day, and I made one hell of a dinner.  I don't regret that though, because it was a very special evening for Nick and I.  I'm glad I made dinner, dessert, drank wine, and just in general had a fabulous evening.  I made these scallops- (my sister's recipe she made up for my birthday a few years back, hence the name) and mmmmmm they were worth EVERY calorie. 

I guess we just pick and choose our battles- this week I knew I'd probably have an "eh" weigh in, but I also had a great Valentine's Day.  So this week, I'll try and fit in a few more workouts, eat a few more veggies, and remember that -.2 is still a step in the right direction.  Albeit a small one, but still, a step.

Week 5: -.2
Total: -5.6

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lunch... for the Whole Week!

This winter I've been really into making my own soup.

Last time I did WW, I would buy canned soup by the cart load, and then bring them in for lunch every day.  It worked well for losing weight, but there are only so many that I actually enjoy eating, plus they aren't that filling.  Also, (obviously) that solution wasn't great for actually KEEPING the weight off.  This time around, I'm sticking with my goal of cooking more of my own food.  I still keep a few cans of soup in the office just in case I don't have time to make my lunch, but I much prefer my own soups.  There is so much more variety, and I know exactly what goes into them.  The possibilities are endless!

Which brings me to this winning recipe I found over on Smitten Kitchen- Chard and White Bean Stew.  Now- I did not have any chard on hand (nor do I know what that is yet- I'm hoping to soon though) so I used spinach instead.  Other than that I didn't really tweak the recipe at all, except for using chicken broth instead of veggie, and did not use Thyme (I HATE how it smells).

Looking back at the recipe... I wish I could eat it like they have pictured... with a poached egg on top, and a big ol' piece of crusty bread.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.

It's VERY filling- much akin to chili with all the beans, but with a totally different taste.  It's very fresh tasting with pureed tomatoes and white wine, yet hearty and wintery with the white beans.

...Back to the point... I made this on Sunday, and have been feasting for lunch every day since.  I got the idea over at DoorSixteen, where Anna says she spends Sundays cooking lunches for the week (Nick does this too).  It's a lot of time spent in the kitchen Sunday night, but then you don't have to rush around making meals in the morning before work on weekdays. Just toss in a tupperware and go!  (It's especially exciting if you get to toss your tupperware into an adorable lunch bag!)

Any suggestions on what would be good to start packing in the spring?  I am loving soup right now, but I know come 60 degree weather, soup will be the last thing on my mind.  I'm on the hunt for some filling lunch ideas!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Fruity Valentine

As I've said about a million times before, fruit is !!FREE!!! (as in no points, not monetarily- don't go stealing it from the grocery) on the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program.  So naturally, I eat a lot of it.  I've been re purposing many of my serving bowls for fruit in my house lately, to make it easier to reach for a healthy snack instead of something else.

Anyways, I was over at Design Sponge and stumbled upon this little gem from Twig & Thistle: Naturally Sweet DIY Valentine.

Now look how cute my fruit is!  Cheesy... YES.  That's why I love it.  I'll just put one on the Boy's forehead so he knows they're for him.

Friday, February 11, 2011

5 Down, 15 To Go

I did it!!!  I reached my first goal of 5 lbs lost.  I've been setting small goals- 5 lbs at a time- so the whole thing doesn't seem too intimidating.  Losing 5 lbs might seem like a trivial thing, but it makes a huge difference.  I find already that my clothes fit a little better, I feel more confident in everyday situations, and I am motivated to keep going.

I even had lasagna the other night.  With a cannoli for dessert.  And I lost 1.8 lbs this week!  How awesome is that.  You might be saying to yourself... sure, but without the cannoli or the lasagna you might have lost more... but why would I want to pass that up?  I'm trying to lose weight WITHOUT depriving myself of the things I love.

That's why, while continuing to lose weight, I plan on:
-Drinking wine and beer (good beer, not that light crap)
-Eating pasta and pizza
-Having the occasional dessert
-Going out to dinner

Why?  Because I love these things.  And if you take away things you love, you're bound to fall off the wagon with a resounding THUD.  I can eat pizza while losing weight because I know tomorrow I can eat a salad for lunch.  I know that eating pizza won't ruin my whole week, as long as I'm not eating pizza every day.  Moderation is the key to success.  Don't deprive yourself, and don't punish yourself.  If you mess up, don't starve yourself the next day, just eat some fruit and veggies, along with well balanced meals.

My favorite tip from this past Weight Watchers meeting:  If you're "hungry" but all you want to eat is sweets or salty snacks... you're probably not REALLY hungry.  You're probably just bored.  If you're hungry and fruits or vegetables sound GOOD- go ahead!

Week 4: -1.8!!!
Total: -5.4

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Put An Egg On It

I'm one of those people who cannot go without breakfast.  Even if I'm running late (which I usually am), I MUST eat.  Or I will most likely murder you if you speak to me before I eat.  I've never been able to understand those people who are like...  "oh, I can never remember to eat breakast" or "I don't eat until lunch" blah blah blah.  That's certifiably insane in my book.  My morning just feels right if it's started with a hearty breakfast and a cup of coffee.  Cereal doesn't really cut it for me, either.  I'm hungry in like 34 minutes if I have a bowl.

I used to make an English muffin topped with an egg white, slice of American cheese and a microwaved strip of bacon.  It was mmmm delish, but I noticed the hunger pangs creeping in earlier and earlier.  Being on this "whole foods" (not the grocery store) kick of mine, I started reading what was in this American "cheese" and these English Muffins, and sadly realized it sounds like my breakfast was made in a lab.  The ingredients in Kraft American Cheese read like this: "MILK, WHEY, MILK FAT, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM CITRATE, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, APOCAROTENAL (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), ENZYMES, VITAMIN D3, CHEESE CULTURE."

Buster trying to get in on the Breakfast action
It's cheese, people.  So, I started buying sliced deli cheese from local farms at Heinen's.  I switched my eggs to organic when possible, and pastured when I see them.  I switched my bread to Food for Life's Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Sesame Bread.  It sounds all snobby, or hippie, or something, but I like knowing what's in my food.  Not only that, but I feel better in the mornings!  Like, great!  I'm not hungry until noon, and I don't get tired of eating this for breakfast.

All I do- spray a shallow glass with non stick spray, microwave an egg white for 40 seconds while the toast is in the toaster, then slap a piece of cheese on my bread.  Salt and pepper it, and you've got a breakfast going!  Buster's always trying to get in on the action.  Points Plus wise- I spend as much on this breakfast (or less) than I would on a bowl of cereal.  It just makes sense (except for time) in every way.

Oh, hey there, Buster
Even though I'm sitting in my sunroom enjoying my breakfast, this is my usual view while eating.  "Don't forget about your ol' pal Buster!!!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Always Better When We're Together

I picked up a new lunch tote the other day at TJ Maxx.  I figured, if I'm going to be bringing lunch most days now, it might encourage me to bring it MORE if I had a cute bag to bring it in.  That might sound stupid, but it totally works.  I think my bag is adorable, and thus I really like packing my lunch in it every day.

Now that I'm back at Weight Watchers, I've noticed I'm also spending more money at TJ Maxx- it's my downfall, and it's right next door to my meetings.  Nick's pretty sure they planned it like that, and he might be right.  I've found some handy kitchen do-dads there though, like a mandolin slicer, this cute lunch tote, some new soup bowls, etc.  Also... a few pairs of shoes.

Anyways, an additional reason I like my lunch tote- it matches Buster's winter coat and leash.
How could I resist?  Can't you just see the JOY in Buster's eyes?  If it costs me $7.99 to encourage myself to bring lunch everyday, it's worth it.  I'm eating healthier lunches, plus I'm saving money by not going to restaurants.  So I'm just spending the difference at TJ Maxx.  :D

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stop What You're Doing and Make the Hell Out of This

I'm serious.  Do you like pasta? and cheese?  and sauce?  of course you do.  You're alive, right?  That's just the basic rules of life.  If A then B, etc, right? So make this.  It will make you happy.

First off, it's vegetarian.  I've been trying to cook more veg meals lately, but it's hard!  A dinner without meat just seems to be lacking a lot of times.  I had actually planned on throwing some crumbled chicken italian sausage in here, but for some reason (laziness) I decided not to.  All in all I'm glad I didn't use the sausage though, because this is just perfect.  Maybe I'm hyping this up a little bit, but I'm pretty sure upon further review at lunch, I will be sure that I'm not.

Spinach Cannelloni
A Weight Watchers adapted recipe

10 oz fresh spinach (like 3-4 large handfuls)
1 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 dry lasagna noodles
2 C spaghetti sauce (I prefer Cleveland's Own Little Italy Spicy Pasta Sauce)
2 slices Mozzarella cheese
Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese

Cook the noodles according to package directions.  Drain and lay flat.

Wash spinach- don't drain, just throw into the noodle pot and wilt, about 3-4 min on med heat.  Stir continuously.  Drain well, squeezing out all liquid.  Chop finely.

In a separate bowl, combine chopped spinach, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Spray a 9 inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  I prefer using a Misto with Olive Oil.  When the lasagna is cooled slightly, place the spinach and ricotta mixture on one end of the noodles; roll up, then place, seam-side down, in the baking dish.  You could probably half the noodles and only use 4 if you wanted, its a lot of extra noodle in there.  But they're NOODLES! who doesn't love them?

Pour pasta sauce over cannelloni.  Place a 1/2 slice of cheese over every 2 cannelloni; sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan.

Bake until browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Makes 4 heaping servings- (2 cannelloni's each).  Approx. 8-9 Points Plus points, depending on what type of cheese and sauce you're using.

Look... just look how beautiful.  Sure, mine could have been more browned and bubbling... but I was hungry!  Also- I used Swiss cheese, because I didn't have any mozzarella.  It was still amazing, but I'll go with mozzarella next time I make this.  Which will be soon, I can assure you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Warning: Meal is Much Tastier Than Pictured

I should start by saying that this "picture" taken with my iPhone does NOT do this meal justice.  It kind of looks like... I'm not even sure.  But I can assure you, (as can the Boy) that it was indeed delicious.  And Weight Watchers friendly!  Coming back to WW after being gone for a few years was kind of daunting because I never really cooked before.  I ate a lot of the prepared frozen meals for lunch, along with really simple stuff for dinner... so this time I feel like I'm really learning to eat.  I'm trying to shy away from processed foods, because they're so EASY- plus it turns out, not so great for you.  Sure... low WW points, but made of... what? Corn? Soy Beans? A mixture of the two?

So this time... I'm doing all the cooking, and I know what I'm eating.  For dinner last night- I made two recipes off of The Well Fed Newlyweds- my friend Katie's blog- it's a plethura of delicious recipes.  Her mom is also a huge fan of her blog, and offers up low-cal substitutes in the comments.

Last night I made the panko-crusted Crispy Chicken Fingers, along with the Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I substituted Frank's Buffalo sauce for BBQ, but they were delicious!  Super crunchy on the outside, and very tender on the inside.  I'm never making chicken again without first soaking in buttermilk- it makes the chicken insanely moist and delicious.  I think next time I would opt for the BBQ sauce, because Nick agreed, they could have used a dippin' sauce, but all in all, a successful, homemade dinner.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another One Bites The Dust

Another week, another pound!!  I weighed in a day early this week and lost another pound!

We talked about anchors this week- when you're having trouble staying on track, what helps you get through it?  For me, I have anchors all around, through my family and friends.  What helps me the most, though, is being able to talk about it with Nick, the boy.  I should say Boy though, he's definitely deserving of a capital "B." He's been so encouraging through my return to Weight Watchers, and while I know that he'll appreciate a slimmer, more svelte me, his biggest praise for me has been that "I had something that made me unhappy, and I decided to change it."

If you're unhappy with something, be it your weight, your job, anything- CHANGE IT!!  You're in charge of your happiness!  Outside factors will play big parts- but it's how you react to those outside influences that will stay with you. 

My favorite quote from the meeting: "A hole in your heart cannot be filled with food."

Week 3: -1
Total: -3.6