Thursday, March 31, 2016

tonight's dinner: steak and mushrooms

Tonight I made rib eye steak on the grill, along with sauteed mushrooms.

Normally I don't buy rib eye.  I find it too fatty tasting for me.  Plus, it's usually more expensive than my preferred cut, the leaner strip steak.  But I got it for half price at the grocery store and it's been haunting my freezer for a few weeks.

I threw some Borsari seasoned salt on it and then grilled it.  I made sauteed mushrooms for my side dish; Bob got Mexican rice and corn. I sauteed the mushrooms is some olive oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little Worcestershire sauce.

This is the whole steak, which I didn't eat.  I was able to eat the left side of the steak and a few mushrooms.  Bob got the rest of my steak.

I really need to liven up my dinner plate with some color.  It's just a big plate of brown.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

bbq chicken quinoa casserole

I tried a new recipe over the weekend:  BBQ Chicken Quinoa Casserole.  

A few weeks ago, on my "me" weekend, I cooked a bunch of quinoa and stuck it in the freezer for just such an occasion when I wanted something different and didn't want to wait for the quinoa to cook.  This was the perfect opportunity to use it.  Surprisingly, I didn't need to buy anything. I had everything on-hand for once.  Shocking, I know.

This was super easy to make.  Basically, just dump all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, put in a casserole dish and bake until it's heated through and the cheese is melted.  I had to cook chicken breast ahead of time to make this, but I was planning on cooking a package of it anyway.  I just used a couple breasts for this, and then packed the rest away for lunches during the week.  You could definitely use a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you want it even faster.

It tasted great, although quinoa and BBQ sauce together seemed a bit strange at first.  It was more of a texture thing, though.

I will say that this is NOT light on calories or carbs, BUT it's got a lot of protein.  And it's not pasta, which is something I'm supposed to stay away from.  Plus, it's much more interesting than boring old pasta.  I put the recipe into My Fitness Pal and it came out to more than 600 calories per serving.  But that assumes 6 servings.  A weight loss surgery patient is going to get at least double that.  I changed it to twelve servings and it comes out to 337 calories, 15g fat, 31g carbs (!), 12g sugar (from the BBQ sauce) and 21g protein (!!). I'm guessing you could probably squeak out another couple servings if you wanted to, which would lower the calories more.  Or you could maybe cut back on the quinoa or cheese a bit.

I forgot to take the picture before we dug into it.  As you can see, I used quite a bit of cheese.

Friday, March 25, 2016

my work in progress: eating

I've been putting of posting this part of my book for a while now. But I think it's time to just suck it up and do it. It will be broken into several parts, as it's pretty long.

And here's the standard kitty pic as your reward for reading. :) This is Tiffany.


I used to minimize to myself and to other people the amount of food I ate.  “No, I didn’t eat that entire bag of chips!”  “My husband had a handful last week.” “No, I didn’t eat the whole box of chocolates! I dropped one on the floor and Cindy ate two.”  “No, I didn’t eat a whole pizza!  I stripped the cheese off the last slice and didn’t eat the crust from two of the other pieces.” Surprisingly, one does not get to be 343 pounds by eating “just a few chips”, or “one cheeseburger with a diet Pepsi.”  Shocking, isn’t it?

Time for me to publicly admit what I used to regularly eat before I had the gastric bypass surgery.  I’ve avoided it for a long time. It was just too embarrassing.  Still is. But since I’m writing a book, I guess it’s time to be honest and just lay it all out there for the world to see.

When I was a kid living at home, I would usually eat a second helping at dinner.  That’s assuming I liked what was being served.  (Until the day my mom died, she insisted that I “liked” the things I was sometimes forced to eat.  Seriously, what young kid actually likes stuffed peppers??) Not unusual. But I would often precede that with a big after-school snack, like a sandwich, or a couple Little Debbie snacks.  My mom always bought those for my dad’s work lunches. She would hide them so I wouldn’t eat them all, but I knew the hiding places and I’d just dive right in.  I never had just one. It was always two.  And that trend continued up until my surgery. Actually, I still struggle with that now, even after losing 135 pounds.

I used to have a small paper route, a weekly circular actually, and my mom would take me after school to deliver the papers.  My route took us down near the Burger King.  Every week I would beg my mom to take me to Burger King so I could get something.  Some weeks she would give in and others she wouldn’t. When she did, I always got a double cheeseburger with fries and a soda. And then I’d go home and have dinner on top of that.

My parents usually had ice cream in the house.  Sometimes it would be the dreaded Neapolitan or Butter Pecan.  Those were flavors I dubbed, “Old People Ice Cream.” But most often it would be Heavenly Hash—not great, but doable—and I was a sucker for chunky ice cream.  Typically, I’d get home from school and on days when my mom wasn’t home, I’d pull out the ice cream carton.  I’d grab a spoon, open the carton, and proceed to eat all the chunks. I’d then scoop the ice cream over the spots where I’d taken the chunks out so no one would know I’d eaten them all. I’d sometimes follow dinner with a giant bowl of ice cream while watching TV.  If we had only chocolate ice cream, I would get really creative. I would spoon in some peanut butter, or maybe Rice Krispies cereal, or even some Nesquik powder (so delicious on ice cream!).  Sometimes it was all three if we had them on hand.

Speaking of being creative.  When I had a sandwich, I couldn’t just have a sandwich. It had to be topped with something, like chips.  Most of the time it was either bologna or ham, American cheese, and lots of mayonnaise.  (Actually, the amount of mayo depended upon whose house I was at.  My parents always bought Miracle Whip, which I barely tolerated.  Once in a while they would buy regular mayo, but not that often.  Cindy’s parents, on the other hand, always bought Hellmann’s.  I’m sure you know whose house I preferred for lunch.)  Peanut butter and jelly was a candidate for topping with chips, also. My favorite chips for topping sandwiches were Doritos or Fritos.  Cindy used to laugh at me when she ate lunch at my house.  We would be sitting in the sunroom, quietly eating lunch. She with her bologna and cheese on white bread with a bit of mayo, chips on the side.  I with my bologna and cheese on white bread with an obscene amount of mayo, topped with a handful of chips.  I would push the sandwich down, not only so it would fit in my mouth, but so the chips would adhere to the mayo-slathered bread, thus ensuring a minimum amount of chip spillage.  (Yes, it was a science.)  I’d then bite into my sandwich and all you could hear was a loud “CRUNCH”, followed by loud chewing.  Cindy would usually start laughing, which got me laughing; it was an enjoyable lunch.

And toast.  Toast is a wonderful thing. It’s great for breakfast, as part of a sandwich for lunch, or as a snack. One can put just about anything on toast and it tastes good.  I used to get a bit carried away when making toast. Not only did I usually make at least three pieces at a time—four if no one was around to see—but I would add things to it.  Usually it was just a lot of butter and jam, but sometimes I’d get creative and do peanut butter with Nesquik powder (instant hot cocoa powder works in a pinch), or peanut butter and Fluff.  If we didn’t have jam I’d do peanut butter and butter—one of my mom’s favorites.  I may have added Rice Krispies a few times….

Anyway, the point is that I often got creative with my food, whether it was a sandwich, ice cream or even toast, which basically ensured I got the maximum amount of fat, calories, and sugar just about every time I ate. I’ve always felt the need to embellish my food and have some variety.  It’s not enough for me to have the sandwich and chips.  It has to be a sandwich topped with chips.  And I can’t have just one of something.  It always has to be two or more.  And when I went to a restaurant, I had to get the meal and an appetizer, sometimes two appetizers, even though I couldn’t finish it. I can’t explain it other than to say I felt like I was missing out on something if I didn’t get the meal and the appetizer.  I felt like if I didn’t make the most of my meal when eating out, the restaurant might close down and I’ll never get to eat that particular item ever again.  I know that sounds strange, but that’s how it was. And I still feel that way sometimes; however, the size of my stomach after surgery and my desire to spend less money usually prevents me from ordering all that food.

For a long time I've been trying to figure out why I've always turned to food for everything.  When I'm bored, I eat.  When I'm happy, I eat.  When I'm upset, I eat. When the sky is blue, I eat.  Food was something to do when I was bored, happy, sad, stressed, or used as a reward.  You get the idea:  I could always find a reason to eat. I always assumed I ate because I enjoyed it.  It was very pleasurable—still is—and gave me a little high. (I seriously don’t understand the people who say they eat to live, or don’t enjoy eating. My mom was like that.  She ate because she knew she had to in order to control her blood sugar, but she didn’t really care all that much about food.)

But it’s not just the enjoyment and pleasure I get from eating that caused me to eat.  It was the instant gratification I got from it.  I've always been someone who needs results now and eating gave me that enjoyment immediately.  Now that I’m older, I see that pattern throughout my life.  I was never a money saver.  I knew kids who would save up their allowance for weeks in order to buy something. Not me.  If I had $1.00 in my hand, I had to spend it.  I just couldn't save it.  Why wait all that time to buy something bigger later, when I could buy something smaller now and get instant gratification? Lots of times I didn't even wait until I had the money in my hands.  I was often in the red with my allowance.  I would beg my parents to buy me something and then tell them to keep my allowance until the item was paid off.

I realize now that I also felt a compulsion to eat. I don’t mean that every night I stood in front of the fridge, in the dark, at 11 pm and binged on anything I could get my hands on, or that it completely took over my life.  What I mean is that when I was presented with a meal, it was like someone was giving me a job to do.    There was a plate of food in front of me and it was my job to finish it.  Since I was very driven in my work life, that’s how I treated food:  it was a job that had to be done to the best of my abilities.

Lots of people say that if someone’s obese it’s because they had a traumatic childhood or they’re depressed or they have family issues.  I’m sure that’s true in many cases.  But sometimes people are obese because they love to eat, and their desire to eat outweighs their desire to be thin.  Sure, they would love to be thin and are likely upset that they can’t get themselves under control.  But the instant gratification, the high, which someone gets from eating is a very powerful force.  I know, because I spent my whole life chasing the feelings that come from instant gratification. I’m sure part of the reason I wanted that high was because I had such an awful time as school.  I felt horrible about myself all the time and food made that feeling go away temporarily.  When I was eating, I was focused on the moment: the smell of the food, the texture, the taste, and the look.  I wasn’t thinking about being called ugly names for the umpteenth day in a row.

So, what does it take to become 343 pounds at the age of 38?  It takes years of sustained overeating.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

oh, my sore muscles!

Well, they're not that sore.  Not yet anyway. But it's only the first day after my first training session. I'll probably feel it even more tomorrow.

Last night was my first formal personal training session, and I can't believe how quickly it went by!  45 minutes was over before I knew it.  Mark, the trainer, said 45 minutes is a long time, but it didn't feel like it.  However, he gave me a lot of rest breaks.  He said the purpose of the first few sessions is to acclimate my body to exercise.  Not that I've never done exercise, but I've never really done anything outside of jumping on the treadmill or elliptical for a 30 to 45 minutes, and some weight machines. He said it takes some time to build up the muscles and get the body used to doing different things.

The routine started off with three sets of jogging in place, jumping jacks and mountain climbers.  I had to go slow with the mountain climbers.  I've never done them before, so my hands kept slipping and my feet kept getting caught.  (Note to self:  remember to use the bathroom before training, even though I don't feel like I have to go and even though I went recently. Kind of like when kids say they don't have to go--yes they do and they just don't know it. Jumping jacks made me realize that!)  Next it was body squats, lunges, and then squats with a 12-pound medicine ball, which I had to raise over my head and then slam it down.  Each of those was three sets of ten. Then it was a few arm exercises.  Finally, he showed me some stretches for my back, since I have back issues, like muscle spasms and mild scoliosis.

As I was leaving, Mark told me to make sure I hold onto the railing while walking down the stairs, because legs will "feel funny."  He wasn't kidding!  Even with holding on to the railing, I still nearly fell down the five stairs!  And walking up and down the stairs at home last night was really tough. 
Walking the stairs is still tough today, although not as bad. My upper arms are sore, and my leg muscles just feel worn out. 

I like the trainer's style and the fact that he explains everything and repeats himself in order to cement it in my mind.  I also like that he's into the same music as I am. He's into AC/DC, so he's OK in my book. :)  During our session he played some Bon Jovi, Queen, and some 70s stuff.  No top 40 music for us!  He said he hates the "thump, thump, thump" music.

I'm excited for the next session, which is Friday. And I'll make sure to hit the bathroom right before I leave. (Speaking of which, it's becoming harder and harder to sit down and get up from the toilet as of the time I'm scheduling this post.  I'm making a point to use the upstairs bathroom so I have something hold on to. LOL)

Let's call this my "before" picture.  I probably should have worn something a little more form-fitting, but taking the picture was a spur of the moment thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

my first meeting with the trainer

I'm sore.  Not super sore, but sore nonetheless.  My inner thighs hurt when I stand up and my upper arms hurt when I left them.   

Wednesday night was my first appointment with Mark, the personal trainer.  He said it would be an "easy night," which would be spent at "an easy walking pace on the treadmill for 20-25 minutes" while he asked me a lot of questions. He would then do some physical assessments so he could make a training plan for me. Sure, that's great.

I got there and we got right to work.  I got on the treadmill and he had me set it to my liking.  I typically warm up at a pace of 2.5 MPH and then increase to 3.0 to 3.5 MPH and walk for 30 minutes or so.  I set it to 2.5 and we started.  He asked me all about my health, physical condition (have I injured anything or do any parts of my body give me problems?), home life, work, etc.  Pretty much everything except my sex life.  About 10 minutes in I started getting out of breath--I had forgotten that I would be talking the whole time and wasn't used to talking while on the treadmill. He pushed the speed down a bit and then I was fine.  We talked so much that I ended up walking for 40 minutes.

Then he did the physical assessment, which would help Mark determine what my training plan should be.  He said he needed to asses my core strength, my range of movement, any weaknesses in my joints, and any other trouble spots.  It involved balancing on a big ball while sitting and holding out one leg and arm, balancing while standing on a soft platform (harder than it sounds!), squats, and lunges. He also tested my pulse, had me use some big ropes attached to the wall (think Biggest Loser), and then tested it again.  He said it was good, so I'm happy about that.  He didn't want it to spike to 140 or 150; mine went from 80 to 110.  Then, the dreaded pushup.  UGH!  I've never been able to do a pushup and Wednesday night was no exception.  I got into position and could hold it, but once I started going down, gravity just pulled me the rest of the way.  And I couldn't push back up. Well, eventually I'll be able to do it.  If so, then it will be the first time in my life.

That night I was very sore.  I started feeling it almost immediately in my hamstrings.  Yesterday my inner thighs and arms hurt.  They're still a little sore today, but not bad at all. It's surprising, though, because I didn't feel like I really did anything of substance.  Guess my muscles haven't been used in a long time.

I really enjoyed the appointment and I really like Mark.  He's very nice and not nearly as intimidating as I expected (former MP!  trains state police!).  He's very open and honest, and explained the why and how of everything he did, what he will do, what I will do, etc.  I think I'm going to like working with him.

So, my first homework assignment is 20 lunges today and tomorrow, and 8,000 steps everyday.  It doesn't seem like much, but I barely break 4,000 steps since I sit at a desk all day.  And watch a lot of Golden Girls on the weekend.  However, just by walking around the outside of my building at work I can easily add about 1,500 steps; it's about a 1/2 mile around.

My first real appointment is on Monday night.  Wish me luck!!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

time to get fit!

I have to admit, weight loss surgery has made me even less inclined to exercise.  Mainly because the pounds just fly off in the first six months.  The post-ops who go on about how they love exercise, love the gym, the gym is their life, etc., just totally baffle me. Don't get me wrong--I understand they've found a new habit and that helps them stay on track.  But I just get the whole love of exercise.  Do I have a lot more energy since losing weight?  Yes.  Does it make me want to get off my ass and go to the gym?  No.  I'm much more inclined to go run errands or do stuff around the house or yard.  I've exercised off and on since surgery, but haven't put any real effort into it. But that's about to change.
A couple weeks ago I finally made the decision to go to a personal trainer. Why?  Three reasons:  1) I need the push; 2) I need to learn what I should be doing and how I should be doing it so that I get maximum benefit and I don't hurt myself; 3) I eventually want to have the excess skin removed around my abdomen, and in order to have a successful surgery and easier recovery, I need to have a very strong core.
Now, before someone says, "Just exercise and the skin will go away!", no it won't.  The surgeon told me that, the dietitian told me that, the trainer told me that, and I know it from researching and talking to other WLS patients.  So please don't even go there. (I get highly annoyed when people say crap like that. I shouldn't because they're not in my shoes and don't know better, but still.) I've had a whole lifetime of weight gain and loss and back again.  My skin is worn out and no amount of exercise will make it snap back.  Imagine an old pair of elastic-waist pants.  You stretch the waist and it doesn't snap back.  Same thing with my skin. Anyway...
I chose a place close to my house.  I went to see it last week.  The owner, Ryan, opened the place last April.  I like the place:  it's very clean, it has two private training studios (it's not a gym), and there's a nice variety of equipment.  I'm sad there's not an elliptical machine, but I can go to the gym for that. I'm a little nervous that there are no weight machines, as that is what I've used any time I've gone to the gym.  I've never used the barbells or free weights. He mentioned a pull-up bar and all I could think about was elementary school; I could never do even one pull-up.  I thought it would be a quick look around, but I was there for almost two hours!  We talked about my diet, my past weight loss efforts, physical ability, etc.  Ryan didn't try to sell me anything, and actually said that I don't need to come three to four times a week.  He feels two days is best, because it can get very expensive very quickly.  He said as long as I supplement with at least two other days of exercise, two days with them is enough:  I'll learn what I need to learn in order to move on, I won't get overworked, and it won't be super expensive.   He said the only way I should do more training sessions is if I'm completely unmotivated to exercise by myself.  He also explained that he has several trainers and he wants to make sure it's a match on both ends, so I shouldn't feel bad if I want to switch for someone else.
When I emailed Ryan initially asking for pricing information, I totally expected him to tell me I have to come in and we'll talk about.  Nope.  He actually gave me the information.  That impressed me and gave me the sense that he's not going to give me a hard sell.  And he didn't.  Didn't try to sell me supplements or anything like that either.  Best part was that a Groupon came up in my email that same night. Plus, Groupon gave me a promo code for $30.00 off. So I get 5 training sessions for $70.00 total.  Then after that I'll start paying the regular rate. I won't be able to continue past three months due to cost, but this should give me the solid foundation I need.
Ryan paired me with another trainer, since he's not available at the same time I am.  The trainer trains the state police cadets every morning, which is a little intimidating.  But I had a nice long conversation with him on the phone and he explained he's not one to work his clients so hard they puke or can't move at all the next day.  He said he doesn't do that, because then no one would want to come back and they would probably give up.
I had my first appointment last night, which I'll post about this weekend.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

power crunch protein energy bar: dark chocolate

I found something new at the Vitamin Shoppe:  Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar.  It's 1.5 ounces and it looks just like a chocolate candy bar, which is why I bought it...

When I broke the bar in half, I thought there were almonds in it; however, I read the wrapper and it turns out they're Proto Whey Crisps.  Basically, crisp rice-like crunchies made out of whey protein isolate.  It made it a little more interesting to eat.

It tastes very close to a dark chocolate candy bar and it's quite big. Sure, it doesn't taste exactly like a real chocolate bar, but it's very close for someone whose had weight loss surgery and really doesn't eat this stuff anymore. And the crispies inside don't really have a taste.  They just lend some texture to the bar.

Here's the nutritional stats:

These were pricey at $2.59 each, but they're worth it for a once-in-awhile treat. This is something I'd tuck into my purse when going to the movies.  I'd rather pay $2.59 and get some protein out of it, than pay $4.00 for a small bag of M&Ms.