Breaking the fast.

April 28, 2010

I struggle most in the mornings. I don’t know why. I think it comes from years of sleeping until the last possible minute in the morning – actually, who am I kidding? I still do it! – leaving me little to no time to eat breakfast before I leave the house. I think breakfast is a meal that sets the tone for the day, at least for me it does. If I eat well at breakfast, odds are that I’ll eat well throughout the day so as not to “ruin” the day.

Back in January and February, I almost always ate breakfast. Whether it was just smearing some peanut butter on a sandwich thin or eating a bowl of cereal, I had usually eaten something by the time I got to work, which made it easier for me to avoid public enemy #1. I have a 45 minute commute each way, and I have learned to enjoy having that time to myself. But when I don’t eat breakfast, I’m usually pretty hungry by the time I approach my office, which makes it a little TOO easy to pull through the drive-thru at McDonalds or Dunkin’ Donuts. “Well, I’ve gotta eat something!” is what I tell myself.

I am ashamed to admit that I’ve been doing this a lot lately. And it all comes down to a lack of planning. It comes down to me not getting up 5 minutes earlier, me not having enough breakfast food options in the house. Me not making it a priority.

Needless to say, I haven’t been doing so great on the weight loss effort lately. I guess you could say there hasn’t been much effort at all, really. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month, although I have walked outside a few times. I haven’t weighed in at WW in almost a month. I’ve counted my points only a handful of days in the past month.

But I have managed to make some improvements. One of these is that I’ve stopped buying iced coffee. I LOVE iced coffee, and as soon as spring hits, I start craving it. The only thing is that when you buy one at McD’s or Dunkin’ Donuts, you don’t know how much cream or sugar they’re putting into it. And yes, they are delicious with real cream and sugar. OF COURSE! Everything is better with real cream and sugar! But I started wondering if I couldn’t make something comparable myself.

And so I did.

I fill the cup to the top with ice, then pour in the coffee. Then I had some fat-free half & half. I would guess I add 2-3 tablespoons to get it to the right color. Then I add 3 Splendas and stir. Then, since the hot coffee melted some of the ice, I add some more ice to the top.

Is it as good as a “real” iced coffee? No. But it satisfies my craving for probably 1/3 of the calories and none of the fat.

At this point, I figure that doing anything, however small, is better than doing nothing.

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Public Enemy Number One.

April 23, 2010

Friends of the internet, I would like to introduce you to my nemesis in my weight loss battle.

This is the snack tray at work – our equivalent of a vending machine. It’s located straight down the hall from my office, in our kitchen/break room. There are little boxes where you can put your money, which are very hard to see in this picture. A company comes about every two weeks to collect the money and re-fill the snack boxes.

And oh, the delicious things that it is filled with! Snickers, Twix bars, Hershey bars with almonds, Twizzlers, M&Ms…all of it delicious – 99% of it unhealthy.

At almost every other place I’ve worked, we’ve had your standard, run-of-the-mill vending machine. Put in your 75 cents, get a Snickers. If you didn’t have change, well…no Snickers for you. Because these vending machines have always called to me with their delicious and fattening treats, I learned that I couldn’t keep change or $1 bills in my wallet. It was too tempting, and could get too expensive for those days when one pack of Twix was just not enough (and it was almost NEVER enough).

And therein lies the reason why this snack tray tortures me so. It doesn’t matter if I have cash or change anymore. I can just grab something from the tray and pay for it later. Of course, you’re not supposed to do that – but its just too easy.

I think I’ve written before about how it’s easier for me to just stay away from something completely than make an attempt at eating it in moderation. I have certain “trigger foods” that I KNOW will just serve as a gateway to a binge. For me, candy (any kind, really) is one of those things. Once I start, it practically takes an act of God to get me to stop.

So, I’ve been trying very hard to just STAY AWAY from the snack tray (Hey! That rhymes!). I was really successful for a long time. Then, earlier this month, I made the grave mistake of thinking I was “cured.” That I could suddenly pick just one item from the snack tray, eat it, and be satisfied.

I was very, very wrong. I am not cured. I will never be cured.

It’s like my aunt. She LOVES Coke (the drink, not the drug, thankyouverymuch). She admitted openly that she was addicted to it. Then, last July, when she started on Weight Watchers, she decided she needed to give up Coke. Forever. She knew that if she drank one, she wouldn’t be able to control herself. She hasn’t had a Coke since then. Even one sip, she said, would probably put her over the edge.

That is what I need to do with the snack tray. I can’t make excuses for why I’m getting something out of it. It doesn’t matter if I only want a bag of pretzels. If I eat that bag of pretzels, I will want something sweet to go along with the salty. Before I know it, I will have grabbed a bag of pretzels and a couple of candy bars and will be chomping away back at my desk. It’s disgusting, really. And it’s terribly embarrassing.

So, I’ve been trying really hard to bring snacks to work. I have a little stash in my desk drawer. Fiber One bars, Kashi bars, Vitatops. I keep Greek yogurt and applesauce in the fridge. I bring a baggie of celery and carrots sticks with me to work every day. Whatever keeps me away from the snack tray.

What are your tactics for avoiding the vending machine?

Un-tagging.

April 21, 2010

My friends have been posting pictures a lot on Facebook lately. Some of the trip to Pittsburgh the other weekend, some of the trip to Virginia last weekend.

I absolutely hate how I look in all but one of those pictures. I’ve spent a lot of time un-tagging myself in the last two days.

I avoid pictures like the plague. My friend Jenn wrote a great post about this recently, and I echo her sentiments completely. If I have to be in a picture, I prefer for it to be from the waist up.  I have to hold my head a certain way. And I HATE candid photos – I look terrible in every single one.

I look at pictures of myself and I almost feel like the person in them is someone else. I feel like it doesn’t really look like me. I mean, I look at myself every day in the mirror. I know what I look like. I know every scar, every flaw. And when I see the person looking back at me, I feel like I barely recognize her. There is a disconnect there. I don’t know if its just a lifetime of denial, but I feel like I look better than that in “real life.” Yes, I’m overweight. But sometimes, there are days when I feel pretty.

The girl I see in these photos is not pretty.

It’s in those pictures that I can see how far I have to go to get to my goal. It’s in those photos that I can see that my thigh is almost the size of a smaller friend’s waist. How unflattering some of the clothes I wear are. How my hair, which I thought looked good, looks awful.

I want to keep those photos in the front of my mind so that every single time I don’t want to exercise or I want to pull through a drive-thru one of those photos flashes in front of me, and I remember what I’m trying to accomplish. I think I need that constant reminder. It’s too easy to forget or to make excuses. I need those pictures in front of me.

I would love nothing more than to get to the point where I don’t mind being in pictures. Where I don’t have to worry about a double-chin or a fat arm or a giant thigh. Because, right now, when I look at pictures of myself, that is all I see.

Revived.

April 20, 2010

I had a really, really lovely long weekend. It was damn near perfect, actually. While I don’t necessarily feel rested (two nights on an air mattress might have something to do with that), I feel incredibly relaxed and rejuvenated. It was exactly what I needed.

A group of my friends from college, who I only see three or four times a year, all got together down in Northern Virginia. We went to Great Falls Park and watched two guys go OVER the falls in their kayaks. This was both thrilling and terrifying to watch. It was also there that I had to use the most disgusting port-a-potty in the United States of America. I was seriously considering just going in the woods, but there were too many people around as it was a beautiful day. After Great Falls, we went to Benihana for dinner. Oh man, was it ever fun (and tasty)!

Sunday we went on a little wine tour and did tastings at three different wineries. I am not a wine drinker and so I was not necessarily excited by at the prospect of doing this, but it FAR surpassed my expectations. I realized that I don’t dislike ALL wines, just dry wines. After the wineries, we stopped briefly at the Leesburg Outlets, where I purchased 4 pairs of flip-flops and 2 scarves (yes, I have a problem) at Old Navy and where I watched one of my friends take a ride in one of those little coin-operated rides for children. It was an awesome day.

Yesterday, we woke up fairly early and had breakfast. I made my special monkey bread, which looked a lot like this:

We left Virginia and drove back to PA, and my friends from New England (Connecticut & Massachusetts) decided to go slightly out of the way so they could come and see my house, which meant a lot to me. Once they left, my friend and I hung out, went to dinner, went to T.J. Maxx (my new favorite store) and then visited our friend who is about 3 months pregnant. We called her and she mentioned she was hungry for an ice cream sundae, so we bought some stuff and went over there for a bit.

I feel calm and relaxed in a way I haven’t felt in months. I feel re-focused and motivated. My eating and exercise habits have not been very good over the last few weeks, but I can feel that turning around, finally. I have about 6 weeks before I go on vacation. I want to see how much I can lose by then. I feel the need to make up for some lost time.

Rant.

April 13, 2010

So, as I have mentioned before, I am in a wedding on July 3.

My friend who is getting married got engaged on New Year’s Eve, so she basically had 6 months to plan the whole event. Which, of course, can be done. She has mostly everything lined up – she has her dress, the reception site, church, photographer, etc.

It’s the bridesmaids that can’t seem to get their shit together.

Here is the cast of characters:

Maid of Honor: The bride’s younger sister, who has never been in a wedding before. She is also engaged and getting married in August.

Bridesmaid #1: Married, elementary school teacher, has a 20-month old son, pregnant with baby #2. Has been sick for the first 3 months of her pregnancy.

Bridesmaid #2: Married, Ph.D., lives in New England. Wanted us to schedule the bridal shower and bachelorette party around HER schedule. Is not coming to the bridal shower because of a schedule conflict.

Bridesmaid #3: Me.

Bridesmaid #2 is a lot like me – the kind who takes charge and get shit done. She was the one who, about 2 months ago, proposed that we start thinking about the bridal shower and bachelorette party. She starts lobbying hard to have the bridal shower and bachelorette party on the same weekend so she can participate in both since she lives ~8 hours away from the rest of the bridal party.

So, the bridesmaids and bride’s mom go back and forth for 2 weeks figuring out a date for the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Once we established that we were NOT going to have them on the same weekend because the bride didn’t want that, Bridesmaid #2 got a little miffed. Once we picked a day for the bridal shower (May 1) and she realized she wouldn’t be able to make it, she got full-on annoyed.

Because time was of the essence, I stepped up and said I would do the bridal shower invitations. I love doing crafty projects like that, so I didn’t mind at all.

But then, no one would make a decision about the time of the shower. The groom’s mother wouldn’t respond to e-mails and phone calls requesting her list of names for the ladies she wanted to invite. The bride’s mom couldn’t seem to get me the names of the stores where the bride planned to register – all things I needed in order to get the invitations out.

After a week of being pushy, I got all of the information I needed. I sent out the invitations last week – roughly 3 weeks before the shower (which, in my opinion, is about a week too late).

In the meantime, I e-mailed the other bridesmaids to let them know the invitations had gone out and that we should probably start thinking about the other details for the shower – food, decorations, games, favors, etc. The MoH responded to basically say that she felt like she should “be the one taking charge” but admitted that she didn’t know what she was doing. I responded with ideas based on my experience hosting a bridal shower and attending ~15 bridal showers in the last few years.

I haven’t heard a peep since then.

Bridesmaid #1 has been totally MIA through the entire process. I know she is probably the busiest of all of us, but if her lazy husband could pull himself away from playing computer games long enough to watch their toddler for a minute, she might be able to actually respond to an e-mail. (Can you tell I don’t like her husband? Oh, the stories I could tell about him…)

This is all hard for me to deal with because I want the shower to be nice for the bride, and I just don’t think something like this can be thrown together the week before. I don’t know how to gently prod the MoH along without being accused of trying to take over. This is the story of my life – wherein I am forced to take the lead because no one else wants to and/or is capable of doing it.

Have any of you dealt with a situation like this before? Is there a way to keep trying to move things along without being too pushy or “taking over”?

If…

April 9, 2010

I saw this on Fat Bridesmaid’s blog and I felt compelled to post it here. I love to do memes like this, I think mostly because it makes me stop and think about myself in ways I normally don’t. You should try it to! You can leave a link to your post in the comments. I’d love to read it! 🙂

If I were a month I’d be October.

If I were a day I’d be Thursday.

If I were a time of day I’d be 9 a.m.

If I were a font I’d be High Tower Text.

If I were a sea animal I’d be a turtle.

If I were a direction I’d be East.

If I were a piece of furniture I’d be a colorful accent chair.

If I were a liquid I’d be iced tea with lemon.

If I were a gemstone I’d be Aquamarine.

If I were a tree I’d be a Douglas fir.

If I were a tool I’d be a Phillips-head screwdriver.

If I were a flower I’d be a daffodil.

If I were an element of weather I’d be a cool breeze.

If I were a musical instrument I’d be a mandolin.

If I were a color I’d be grass green.

If I were an emotion I’d be giddy.

If I were a fruit I’d be a peach.

If I were a sound I’d be a sigh.

If I were an element I’d be Aluminum.

If I were a car I’d be a VW Tiguan.

If I were a food I’d be a coconut cake.

If I were a place I’d be Ireland.

If I were a material I’d be fleece.

If I were a taste I’d be sweet, but tart.

If I were a scent I’d be freshly cut grass.

If I were a body part I’d be the hands.

If I were a song I’d be sung by The Avett Brothers.

If I were a bird I’d be a finch.

If I were a gift I’d be handmade. (This was FB’s answer but I kept it because I felt the same way.)

If I were a city I’d be Seattle.

If I were a door I’d be open.

If I were a pair of shoes I’d be trendy, comfortable flats.

If I were a poem I’d be What We Want Is Never Simple by Linda Pastan:

What we want
is never simple
We move among the things
we thought we wanted;
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names–
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don’t remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

What’s cookin’?

April 6, 2010

I’ve mentioned before that cooking does not come naturally to me. I want to learn to cook well, but that’s hard to do when you’re just cooking for one person. So, when I see a recipe that seems easy enough for my low-level cooking skills, I jump on it.

I saw this recipe for Outside-In Turkey Tamale Pie in a Hungry Girl e-mail recently. It was a crock pot recipe, and I remembered that the crock pot I received for Christmas was still in its box, in my basement. I like recipes that make a lot so that I can divide it into a bunch of containers and take them for lunches.

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/4 lbs. raw lean ground turkey
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
One 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped (note: I added this after I looked at the mixture and thought it needed something green)
3/4 cup canned sweet corn, drained
1/2 cup canned kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup sliced black olives, drained
2 tsp. chili powder (note: I didn’t have chili powder, so I used 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper instead)
1 tsp. ground cumin

Bring a large skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat on the stove. Add turkey and spread it around to break it up a bit. Cook and crumble until meat is brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and add turkey to the crock pot. In a bowl, combine cornmeal with broth and whisk thoroughly. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add cornmeal mixture to the crock pot along with all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on high for 3 – 4 hours or on low for 7 – 8 hours.

I cooked mine in the crock pot for a little over 3 hours on high. I stirred it occasionally so the cornmeal wouldn’t get clumpy. The recipe said it would yield 7 one-cup servings, but mine only yielded a little over 6. I divided it into 5 containers and kept a bowl for myself for dinner, and added a small spoonful to each until it was gone.

I have to admit – when it was done and I was dividing it into the containers, I tasted some and wasn’t impressed AT ALL. It didn’t have a whole lot of flavor, and I wasn’t in love with the consistency. I almost thought about throwing it out, to be honest. But I didn’t, figuring that it might be tastier after it was re-heated and/or I added some cheese.

I was right!

I brought some for lunch yesterday and re-heated it with 1/3 cup of WW shredded Mexican cheese on top. I also added a few shakes of Frank’s Red Hot and mixed it all up. It was SO GOOD. The turkey stuff was 5 points for 1 cup, and the 1/3 cup of WW cheese was 2 points – so all in all, a 7 point lunch. Not bad!

Also, I have the easiest recipe in the world to share. Take one box of this:

and one can of this:

Mix together and bake according to the directions on the muffin mix.

That’s it!

Each muffin is 1 point each (if you are doing WW). I made these for Easter dinner and they were a hit!

There’s a similar recipe which is 1 can of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) and 1 box of cake mix (you can use any kind, but I like spice cake or carrot cake). Mix well – initially you’ll think the two will never mix, but just keep stirring. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350. Again, each muffin is 1 point each. Please note that canned pumpkin is REALLY hard to come by these days (I can’t find it in any local grocery store) because of problems with the most recent pumpkin crop, but if you live somewhere where it’s still in stores, stock up!

Are there any recipes that you are loving lately? Let me know!

Getting back on the wagon.

April 5, 2010

I woke up on Friday morning for work (yes, I had to work on Good Friday…it was a bummer) with a killer sore throat and a voice that sounded like Patty and Selma from The Simpsons. I also just so happened to have an important meeting on Friday afternoon wherein I needed to give a presentation. Awesome! By the time the meeting rolled around, my voice had improved only slightly, but I got through the meeting.

By the time I got home, I was exhausted. It had been a long and emotional week as I dealt with some family issues, so by Friday I was totally spent. I went to bed at 7:30 and didn’t get up until 8 the next morning. It was glorious!

Saturday morning I felt only slightly better, but I knew I had to be productive anyway. I had two weeks worth of laundry to do and 30 bridal shower invitations to make (more on that soon).

But first, I decided that I needed to face the scale.

I didn’t want to go to weigh in. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. The week before I went to Pittsburgh was terrible, and although I didn’t totally blow it that weekend, I knew the damage had been done. Combine that with the fact that I didn’t do so hot Wednesday through Friday of last week AND the fact that I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks…yeah. It wasn’t going to be pretty. I was actually on my way somewhere when I approached the highway exit where Weight Watchers is located. At the last second, I decided that I needed to go.

The thing I’ve learned through my multiple attempts at Weight Watchers is how important it is to keep going – even after a bad week (or weeks). I need to go step on that scale to make me fully realize the consequences of my choices. So many times, when I had a bad week I would allow myself to skip a weigh in to save myself from the disappointment on the scale. I would promise myself that I would do better the next week, and that the next time I weighed in, the scale would be down. Except that I wouldn’t do better next week, and then I wouldn’t weigh in, and the cycle would just continue until I re-gained everything I lost – and then some.

I became so afraid of seeing a gain on that scale that I just avoided it completely. I guess I thought that if I didn’t acknowledge the gain, it didn’t happen. Yet, I’m sure that I knew subconsciously that I had gained. You can’t eat fast food and huge quantities of candy every day and expect to lose weight. But it was hard to go to Weight Watchers after a week of not following the plan and admitting not only to myself, but to the lady who was weighing me in, that I had fallen off the wagon.

Over the past two weeks, I gained 1.8 pounds. I had prepared myself for about 4 or 5 pounds, so I was pleasantly surprised. And in reality, that gain is actually probably more like 1.3 or 1.4, as I had eaten and drank water before I weighed in, which I never do. Still, a gain is a gain.

Today, though, I am back on track. I have two months before I go on vacation and three months before my friend’s wedding. I’m not going to try and do the math and figure out how much I need to lose a week in order to lose a certain number of pounds before then. I’ve been there and done that, and it’s only set me up for disappointment when I didn’t lose what I was “supposed” to lose.  So, I’m just going to focus on doing what I know that I need to do and go from there.

How do you get back on the wagon after you’ve fallen off?

Vacation, all I ever wanted.

April 1, 2010

It dawned on me today that I haven’t had a vacation since September 2008.

Sure, I’ve gone away for a few weekends to visit friends. I’ve traveled out of state to a wedding. I spent time hosting friends at my family’s cabin. But I don’t consider any of this a vacation. To me, vacations are a time of rest and relaxation. They are a time to do whatever you want; read, watch movies and trashy TV, sleep in, shop, and eat. To me, a vacation requires that you go somewhere. Screw the “stay-cation.”

The last time vacation I had was to Vancouver Island in Canada with my mom, aunt, and cousin. It was beautiful, but it was tiring. Lots of driving and sightseeing and nights sleeping on an air mattress. It was fun, and I had a great time, but it wasn’t relaxing. I came home, moved back to PA, and started a new job about 2 weeks later. I haven’t stopped since.

I am going on vacation to WA in June, but it is with my entire family (11 people). It will be lovely, I’m sure, but probably not very relaxing either.

So, here’s the plan: I’m going to take a vacation. By myself.

Here are my requirements:

  • I don’t want to have to fly to get there.
  • I want to go somewhere with a nice hotel or resort with really comfortable beds.
  • There must be at least some good shopping & decent restaurants.

I’m planning to take a 3-day weekend. I looked at my calendar and I will probably end up going May 21-23. It’s basically the only free weekend I have until mid-July. I’m not going to tell my parents where I’m going, because they’ll tell me I’m being ridiculous and wasting money.

So, all that said…I am looking for suggestions on where to go. Been somewhere great? Let me know!

I am willing to drive up to 5 hours from where I live in south central PA to get to my destination. I might be willing to drive further if the place sounds exceptionally good.

Anticlimactic.

March 29, 2010

I had high hopes for my weekend, as evidenced in the post below. However, as per usual, things didn’t turn out quite the way I hoped.

Here are the things that my weekend did NOT consist of:

My friend R and I got to Pittsburgh about 10:30, and our friend T had a veritable feast waiting for us. We went to bed around 2 a.m. and got up around 10. He made breakfast, we showered, and generally pissed about as we tried to figure out what to do. Our friend J, who was driving from California, had some car trouble along the way and was running about a day late and wasn’t going to arrive until the afternoon.

I had really wanted to go to Ikea, where I needed to return a pair of curtains. I figured it was a lot easier to return them while I was in a city with an Ikea rather than having to drive an hour to the one closest to where I live. However, my friend didn’t feel like driving across town, so there was no Ikea for me.

We ended up going to a fancy outdoor shopping center and went into Sur la Table and Urban Outfitters, where I bought this and this to add to my growing collection of E’s. I have a minor obsession with typography, and plan to have a shelf with all of these somewhere in my house.

Then we headed back to  T’s apartment, as our friend J had finally arrived. We chatted and pissed around for another few hours, then headed to a local restaurant/bar for dinner. There was a band playing there later that we wanted to see, so we bought our tickets, at dinner, and had some beers.

Then, I got accidentally drunk.

This happens about once a year. I seem to forget how rarely I drink, and halfway through my first drink, I’m already feeling tipsy. That fact, combined with the fact that I hadn’t eaten much during the day, led me to be drunk by my 2nd beer. Then we all decided to take a shot (!?) When we went upstairs for the show, I had 2 more beers and 1/2 of my friends drink that he didn’t want. It was pleasant, though, and made standing for 4 hours more bearable. And, luckily for me, there were tons of these at the show:

The show didn’t start until 10, and there were 2 opening bands. The second opening band was awesome, and they really out-shined the headliner, who finally took the stage at about midnight. We stayed for about 3 songs, but just weren’t feeling it, so we left. Went to bed around 2 again, woke up at about 11 on Sunday.

We had talked about going to Fallingwater on Sunday, but it was rainy and cold and generally unpleasant. I wasn’t the slightest bit hungover, thankfully, because I had chugged about a quart of water before I went to bed. T made his famous french toast for breakfast, and we just hung around until about 4 when R decided we’d better hit the road. I wasn’t ready to leave, and I technically could have stayed and left with J this morning, but I decided not to prolong the inevitable. I am kind of sad now that I didn’t stick around, especially because J is moving to Austria to live with his girlfriend and I have no idea when I’ll see him next.

The drive home last night SUCKED. It was rainy and foggy and generally unpleasant.

I am one of those people who, if I am going to drive 3+ hours to go somewhere, I want to do/see/eat things that I couldn’t do/see/eat at home. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of that this weekend. But, it was good to see my friends. And it was especially nice to come home last night, for the first time after a weekend away, to my OWN house. That almost made the whole weekend worth it.