Thursday, January 26, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board

How I'd Like to Feel
I've been really frustrated with this plateauing.  I talked with my nutritionist last night about it, and we went over my food journals for the last month, and she seemed almost confused as I am.  I'm eating within the right range of calories and getting in the right type of nutrients, and I'm still at a stand still.  (*despite my angry/rambling post on Tuesday, one spiked day shouldn't throw my entire good week off they way it seems to be doing.)  She thinks I need to shake it up a bit, so for the next week, I'm going to severely restrict carbohydrates.  Starting with today, my week will look like this:
Thursday- 50g Carbohydrates
Friday- 50 g Carbohydrates
Saturday- 75 g Carbohydrates
Sunday- 75 g Carbohydrates
Monday- 100 g Carbohydrates
Tuesday- 150 g Carbohydrates
This is a big change up for me, as I usually view a day with less than 100 g of carbs as a really low day already- typically even 100g would not allow for any bread.  So basically, for the next week, any bread/oatmeal/rice etc is out of the question.  This will be especially hard, because with such a limited amount of carbs, how am I going to get in the right amount of fiber?  Things that I would usually eat: bananas, apples, beans, and quinoa are all really high in carbohydrates.   My food intake today will consist of eggs, meat, lettuce, yogurt, strawberries, avocado and chili (made with ground turkey and beans).  Even that is slightly over my allotment of carbohydrates.  I was told to stay between 1300-1600 calories per day, but with this low amount of carbs, I'm finding it difficult to even reach 1300 calories.  I know something needs to be shaken up in my diet, so I'm going to try this, keep a close eye on how I'm feeling, and track the results. 

This week: +1.2
Total: -10.6

I have made up what my reward will be when I reach my goal- an hour long massage!  I haven't gotten one in forever, and it's hard to justify normally.  (A good massage is NOT cheap!)  But I think that would be an excellent goal reward!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recognizing Your Weaknesses

I'm at the point in my life where I have done a lot to educate myself on nutrition, I'm learning more and more about fitness, and yet- I'm stuck because I refuse to have one weekend where I eat well the entire time.  I know what you're all saying (the same thing TallBoy says to me): it's the weekend!  Pizza's okay on the weekend, as long as you don't eat it during the week!  My nutritionist even told me that when I showed her my food diaries last week.  That could be true, if I were trying to maintain.  But I'm not.  I'm actively trying to lose and I keep sabotaging my progress.

During the week- I eat healthy.  I mean, really, really healthy.  I'm so good about watching my food intake, getting in the right nutrients, going to the gym, etc.  Even on Saturdays, most of the time I'll make it to a Group Groove class at the gym, write down all my food, and eat healthy most of the day... but then, Saturday night comes.  Which is fine, because I exercised and ate healthy all day.  But THEN Sunday morning comes.  Let me just write out what I ate this past Sunday:

Breakfast: pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, coffee. 
Snack: The rest of the pancakes.
Lunch: Half of a frozen pizza from Heinen's.
Snack: Made a batch of no-bake cookies.  I ate half of it, TallBoy ate the rest.
Dinner: (not that I was hungry, mind you- I was STUFFED. And yet... I ate again anyways.)  Plain noodles with butter and Lawry's seasoning salt.
Throughout the day- a bottle of Framboise Lambic.  

I added it up- it was 3,000 plus calories of mostly refined carbs.  Guess how much exercise I did? Zilch.  I barely moved off the couch.

Now, lazy days every once in a while are fine- everyone needs a break.  But this is my Sunday.  Every week.  This is my problem.  I know what I'm doing is wrong.  Even when I got out the ingredients to make no-bake cookies, I said to myself... WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? And I went ahead and made them anyways.

I spend Sunday destroying the progress I've made during the week, and then spend the rest of the week trying to recover and maybe just *maybe* lose a tiny bit more.  I'm making this so much harder on myself than I need to, just because I have this voice telling me, it's okay!  You earned it!  But I haven't yet.  I guess I'm just pissed off and disgusted by myself today, angry that I'm on this plateau because of my self-sabotage.  I know the only way out of it is to just power through, but it's so hard.  My nutritionist told me that addictions to sugar and fat are literally just as hard to break as addictions to hard drugs, and while I've thankfully never been addicted to heroin, I love white flour and butter.  A lot.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Green Monster and Two Pounds

You guys!  I lost 2.2 lbs this week.  I've been sick this week, so I haven't been working out as much- but I've still tried to eat cleanly and well.  It seems to have done it's job.  I'd chalk this loss up to being sick, but as I've said in the past, I'm not one who looses their appetite when they're not feeling well.  When I felt the worst (Monday night), I came home from work and just kept looking through the cabinets for more food.  Thankfully, I keep my pantry and fridge full of healthy, filling foods, so my binge consisted of spinach and almonds.  Yep.

I realized I've had a bit of a sweet tooth lately, and so I looked around the internet for some fixes that would fill me up and satisfy that hunger without breaking my budget.  As a result of this, I'm totally a smoothie person now.  I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize how awesome a good smoothie is... but the past is the past, and smoothies are the future.  Yes, I just said smoothies are the future.  Did you know that if you put SPINACH into a smoothie with other flavors, it doesn't taste like spinach!?!?!?! It tastes like the OTHER stuff!  It's amazing, and green!  Here is my new favorite snack, inspired by this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats.  I found it on Pintrest, like every other awesome thing in the world.

Green Monster Smoothie
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
1/2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
1/2 Frozen Banana (peeled and cut into chunks prior to freezing)
1/2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt (0%)
1 Cup Ice
2 Cups Raw Spinach

Put all of the above in blender; blend.  Keep in mind, you'll probably need a pretty high powered blender to pull this off- and if it doesn't seem to be blending, try adding a little more liquid (like water or almond milk.)  If you want to up the protein, try a little more yogurt or peanut butter.  If you want a little more flavor, add more frozen banana and less ice.

Stats: (via LoseIt) Calories: 185; Fat: 6.2 g; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Fiber: 3.9 g; Protein: 7.6 g.

It will be beautiful and green, taste like peanut butter, and not like spinach.   Yay smoothies!!

Anyways, weigh in this week went well.  Due to the smoothies?  Who knows?  All I knows is I've got a new favorite snack!!!  How about you?  Any great smoothie recipes or add ins I should know about?

This week: -2.2 lbs
Total: -11.8 lbs

Goals for this week: Try and get in 10,000 steps a day, or at least 70,000 for the week.  Starting... today!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Beans

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Beans
2 Bell Peppers
1 Jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
1/2 Medium Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, diced
1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
1/2 lb 90% Lean Ground Beef
1 Tbsp Taco Seasoning ***
1/2 Cup of diced tomatoes
1/2 Cup Canned Pinto Beans
2 oz shredded cheese (I used Horseradish Cheddar)
Salt and Pepper to taste

***I used the linked recipe to make my own taco seasoning- super easy if you have a well stocked spice cabinet.  It tastes awesome and avoids any of the preservatives/icky stuff found in the packets.

Pre-heat your oven to 400º.  Chop the bell peppers in half and de-seed, but leave the stems.  Place the four halves on a baking sheet.  Roast for approx. 15-20 minutes.

While peppers are in the oven, sautee onion, jalapeno and garlic until fragrant.  Add ground beef and taco seasoning and sautee until done.  Drain any excess fat.  When peppers are done roasting, take out of the oven, and drain any excess water.  Turn oven to 350º.  Place peppers open side up on baking sheet.

Probably should have gotten a meltier cheese...
In mixing bowl, combine quinoa, pinto beans, tomatoes and beef mixture.  Stuff each (pre-roasted) pepper with about 1/4 of the stuffing.  Cover each stuffed pepper with about a 1/2 oz of shredded cheese and bake at 350º for another 10-15 minutes, and if cheese is not brown and bubbling, turn on the broiler until it is.  Watch it closely!

Serving size: 1 stuffed pepper.  
Stats (via Lose It recipe calculater): Calories: 278; Fat: 12.4g; Carbs: 18.6g; Protein: 22.8g

I liked this with the quinoa, but both my Dad and TallBoy said they thought it was a little bland and would prefer it with rice (I also added negligible amounts of salt to this recipe).  I think sour cream, avocado or some Siracha might be a good way to up the yum factor as well, but for me- this was a really healthy dish that was also really satisfying and tasty as is.

This would be incredibly easy to make into a vegetarian dish- just sub some more/different beans in for the ground beef.

My inspiration for this recipe came from Ashley over at The Edible Perspective.

Friday, January 13, 2012

After A Year....

via- It's a picture of a plateau, get it?
Well, Ladies and Gents, The Cleveland Dilemma has been around for roughly a year now.  I know most blogs are all, hooray! we've been around a year!  But I knew my yearly blog post would not be quite as joyous.  I know partially it's due to me not meeting my goal of losing twenty pounds within a year of starting the blog.  Nonetheless, I think this blog has been good for me- even if I didn't reach my goal, I did manage to lose 9.6 lbs over the course of the year.  This is MUCH better than a flat out gain; which has been the trend the past few years.  So. I already did a round up of things I learned this year and planned out my 2012 personal/blog resolutions, so I guess all that's left is my final weigh in after a year.  Unfortunately, I gained .6 lbs since last week, and my total for the year was a total loss of 9.6 lbs.  Looking back through my journals, I see that this means I pretty much got down to this weight in MARCH of last year.  Holy crap, that's more than nine months ago.  Now- even though that was a while ago, and I've been hanging around this current weight for three quarters of a year, I'm still glad that I've been able to at least maintain instead of gain. (the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain)  I know I haven't been as constantly vigilant as I clearly need to be to lose more, but I still have managed to keep off around 10 lbs for an entire year.  So I'm happy with that.  What I need to do now is step it up and start losing again.  It's been just little ups and downs (or as we in the weight obsessed world call it, plateauing) and I'm sick of it. 

Time to move on, folks.  I'm going to up the exercise and start taking my eating really seriously.  I also think I really need to focus on restricting refined carbohydrates.  Sorry, TallBoy, that means more quinoa, less rice.  It just has to be that way.

This week: +.6lbs
Total (For the year!): -9.6 lbs

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Educational Link Up

That title sounds boring.  However, I think I'd like to start doing a link up to interesting articles I've read relating to food, health, wellness, Cleveland, and whatever else I find interesting.

How To Eat Out Without Putting On The Pounds- From NPR, Allison Aubrey discusses exactly what the title says.  Basically it involves being mindful of what we're putting in our bodies.  Which we should be already doing... right, people?

The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods- From The Atlantic, an interesting article about the Frankenstein-like foods being grown and sold to us.  And how it's changing out bodies at the DNA level.  Scary stuff.

The Fat Trap- A New York Times article on genetics and obesity.   Honestly, one of the most frightening articles I've ever read about weight loss.

***Editors Note- there has been a lot of uproar about this article- even a petition started here.  I suggest reading the petition and deciding for yourself, but I still think the article AND the petition have a lot of interesting things to say about weight loss, and how we view and treat obesity in this country.***
'“After you’ve lost weight, your brain has a greater emotional response to food,” Rosenbaum says. “You want it more, but the areas of the brain involved in restraint are less active.” Combine that with a body that is now burning fewer calories than expected, he says, “and you’ve created the perfect storm for weight regain.” How long this state lasts isn’t known, but preliminary research at Columbia suggests that for as many as six years after weight loss, the body continues to defend the old, higher weight by burning off far fewer calories than would be expected. The problem could persist indefinitely. (The same phenomenon occurs when a thin person tries to drop about 10 percent of his or her body weight — the body defends the higher weight.) This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off; it just means it’s really, really difficult.'
'If anything, the emerging science of weight loss teaches us that perhaps we should rethink our biases about people who are overweight. It is true that people who are overweight, including myself, get that way because they eat too many calories relative to what their bodies need. But a number of biological and genetic factors can play a role in determining exactly how much food is too much for any given individual. Clearly, weight loss is an intense struggle, one in which we are not fighting simply hunger or cravings for sweets, but our own bodies.' 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coconut Almond Chicken Over Curried Lentils

Messy looking, but delicious, I swear.
Actually, the title of this post SHOULD be Coconut Milk Soaked Almond Encrusted Chicken Over Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes, but that seemed kind of long.  I should make up a catchy name for it like... Chicken Wowza or Chicken Yum Yum, but that's not descriptive enough for how yummy it is.

I've been really into lentils this winter- I never made them before, and they're probably one of the most filling foods I've ever eaten.  I made this Smitten Kitchen recipe last night- Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes.  I made up a little chicken ditty to go with it, as we all know TallBoy doesn't eat a meal that isn't accompanied by meat (and we all know I love encrusting things).  The lentils are curried, spicy and sweet.  The chicken is moist, crunchy, nutty and sweet and compliments the lentils and sweet potatoes nicely.  Just a warning- this meal takes approximately two hours to make (no joke)- but it's really delicious and you'll have a ton of leftovers.  And when I say two hours, I mean, most of it is prep work and actual cooking, not just throwing stuff in the oven for two hours. 

Follow the directions for the Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes over at Smitten Kitchen- it's way too long to type out here.  But make 'em- they're worth it.  At least once.

Coconut Almond Chicken
1 Can of Coconut Milk (I used Light)
1-2 lbs of chicken breast, cut into smaller pieces, about 1-2 oz each
1/2 C raw almonds with skin
1-2 tsp Wasabi Powder
1-2 tsp Soy Sauce
1 1/2 C Panko Bread Crumbs

1. Soak chicken pieces in coconut milk for at least 2 hours.
2. While chicken is soaking, preheat oven to 375º.  Toss almonds in soy sauce and wasabi powder to taste.  Remember, these will be coating the chicken, so they can be pretty intense tasting.
3. Roast almonds for about 15 minutes.  Remember to check them often and move them around while they're roasting so they cook evenly.
4. Let almonds cool. 
5. Pulse almonds in your food processor until they're in small chunks.  Mix in panko, pulse a few more times until nuts and panko are combined well.
6. Make your Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes.
7. While lentils are cooking, dredge coconut chicken in the almond/panko mixture.
8. Spray wire rack on a cookie sheet with Olive Oil, and then place chicken pieces on wire.
9. Bake for about 20 minutes at 450º
10. Serve together with the lentils.  Your tastebuds will probably explode, so watch out.

I'd say this dish is probably best for either impressing company that likes spices, or making for you and your significant other and having leftovers for days.  Either way, it's a ton of work, but you'll be impressed with what you can do in the kitchen.  I know I was.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

10,000 Steps

I got a pedometer yesterday.  I've never had one before, and I love new gadgets, so it was probably more exciting than it should have been.  I was told that I'm supposed to get in 10,000 steps a day; seeing as how I have no idea what that really means, I was both intimidated and completely underwhelmed.  For the average American, it apparently equals about 5 miles.  I sit at work about 70% of the time, and at home, I cook dinner, clean, and watch TV.  On non-gym days I clock more couch time than I should.

I was given a new perspective on TV watching yesterday- it's not that it turns our minds to mush (well, it probably does that too)- but we SIT while we're watching!  After sitting all day, we come home and sit some more.  Humans weren't made for sitting all the time- we're built for moving around.  The average sedentary American gets in about 1,000-3,000 steps a day- between a tenth and a third of what we're supposed to be getting in.  That's a lot of movement that isn't being done.

Anyways- I got in 6,252 steps yesterday, after putting the pedometer on around 10 AM.  Better than I thought, considering it was a non-gym day.  I was also very aware of it- around 9PM when I had only taken 5,000 steps, I might have walked around the living room for a while- I wanted to get in at least 6,000.  The guidelines for increasing weight loss are a little more- it ups me to 12,000 steps per day- about double what I got in yesterday.  Looks like I need to start moving more.  Now- today is a gym day, so we'll see that that comes out to- but it's daunting to say the least.  It's also interesting to find out what you're really doing movement wise.

This is also my weekly weigh-in post- so here goes:

This week: -.4 lbs
Total: -10.2 lbs

Now that the holidays are over, I can be proud that I am now below where I was a week before Thanksgiving.  There was a lot of rollercoastering in the last two months, but I feel like I came through the holidays unscathed.  Or, at least, not fatter.  Go me!  Next week will be one year since I started this mess of a blog and I'm excited to see what I've lost and kept off after a year at this!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!!!!

NYE Headgear!
We had to rip his hat so it'd fit on his huge melon.
...And just like that, it's 2012.  That's insane.  2012 means that I've been out of high school for TEN years.  I actually had a dream last night that I was at my ten year high school reunion, and I was wearing pajamas for some reason.  Maybe I'll actually do that, who knows.  2012 (I keep typing 2010, btw) is officially going to be the year of continuing good habits.  I really learned a lot in 2011, and plan on building more on that foundation.  For the majority of last year, I tracked my food and exercise either on Weight Watchers or LoseIt.  I joined a gym and have actually been going on a regular basis.  I have eaten less meat and focused on eating whole foods.  My yearly weigh in isn't until next Thursday, but it seems like I'll have lost around 10 lbs since last January.  I have found that losing weight more slowly has really helped nail in good habits- even when I fall off the wagon, it's much easier to get back down to the weight I was at, and the gains aren't as drastic.

I hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve- TallBoy and I stayed in, drank champagne, ate scallops, watched Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, cuddled with Buster and generally had a wonderful time.  It was probably my favorite New Year's ever- just relaxing and calm.  Oh, and we lit sparklers on the driveway.  We also worked on our resolution lists- mine looks like this:

  • Keep tracking food, as much as possible.
  • Keep going to the gym- learn more about strength training.
  • Keep working on the blog.
  • Lose another 10 lbs and keep it off!
  • Start and keep track of a budget- put money in SAVINGS!
  • Cut down on drinking.
  • Floss everyday!
  • Keep the house neater.
  • Give Buster less table scraps
I know this list is long, but I think it's doable.  I've set up my monthly budget already, and it seems like a natural extension of food logging- just another place to put numbers.  It makes a lot of sense to me, and I'm excited to not mindlessly spend money.  I can't even tell you how many times I hit up Marshall's or TJ Maxx last year because I was bored- it was like my bored eating became bored shopping.  I'm hoping to channel that 'bored' energy into something better this year- like working out or reading or cleaning.

Here's to a productive 2012- what are your resolutions?