Friday, April 29, 2016

apple wood smoked boneless chicken breast

I used the smoker for the second time this past weekend.  I had a big pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer and decided to smoke it.

I scoured the Internet for a rub or marinade to use.  I didn't want a repeat of the skirt steak I made a few weeks ago; it was good, but too smoky without a rub or marinade to diffuse it. I found one on the Food Network website.  it called for a whole chicken, but I really only wanted the recipe for the rub anyway. This particular recipe calls for 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper AND 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes.  That's just too much heat for me these days, and I knew Bob likely wouldn't like it either.  So, I reduced the red pepper flakes to just a sprinkle.

The chicken came out really good.  There was some spicy heat, but it wasn't scorching hot.  About halfway during smoking I realized I should have put some water in the pan in the smoker.  The outside of the chicken seemed dry, so I added some water to the pan.   It still looked dry when the smoking was done, but it actually wasn't dry when eating it. As implied in the recipe name, I used apple wood for the smoker.

It looks pretty good, but I can't really see the smoke ring much.

Here's the recipe for the rub.  If you want the full recipe, chicken and all, here it is:  Apple Wood Smoked Chicken.

Spicy Chicken Rub

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used just a sprinkle)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and use as a rub for chicken, or any other meat you like.  Let the rubbed meat sit in the fridge for at least an hour and then cook it.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

small victories

Today's small victory:  I prepared lunch for my husband and didn't eat any of the potato chips.  Not even one.  Was I tempted?  Definitely.  But then I thought about all the progress I'm making these last few weeks and that stopped me. Plus, I knew that having just one would likely start a craving for carbs--something I've been limiting lately.  The carbs I'm limiting are crackers, chips and bread. I've noticed that since I've starting do that again, I'm not craving them anymore.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Look what I'm growing!  Cherry tomatoes!

I don't have a green thumb.  That's not something I inherited from my mom, who loved gardening and could grow anything.  I've never been able to keep anything alive, except for hostas; hostas live outside and require no maintenance. When I got my first house, I tried to have house plants, but the cats ruined that.  They either chewed the leaves or they knocked the pots out of the window sills, because that's their territory, not the plant's.  And cats are assholes. I don't bother with house plants anymore.

Now that I have this house and a much bigger yard, I'm making more of an effort to learn how to garden.  Although, I admit, it's not something that's exciting or relaxing for me.  It's more of a way to say, "Hey, I grew that all by myself!"  Or more accurately, "Hey, I didn't kill all the pre-existing plants and look, they're growing again this year!"

This is our second Spring in the house and I've decided to grow cherry tomatoes from seeds.  I bought one tomato plant last year, which I kept alive and actually got a couple tomatoes off of.  But I didn't get much, so I decided I'd try seeds this year and then transplant them into the garden (yet to be dug) or into containers (I have no idea how they will do in containers, or if it's even advisable to do that). I also started daisies and purple coneflowers (they look like purple daisies).  I wanted something perennial that would look natural; our house was built it 1735 and I want it to look like the flowers have been there all along.

Even though I'm using a seed starter kit that's pretty much fool-proof, I'm still absolutely amazed that the seeds sprouted and are growing.  I started this kit on March 10 and look how big they are! (Sorry for the awful picture quality.)

Now I just need to decide where to put them.  Dig a new garden or use containers?  I have a large side yard, but it faces the street and it pretty much my front yard, too, so I'm not sure if it would look weird to have a garden there.  I'm thinking I'll plant it somewhere near the barn, since it's behind the house.  I've never started a garden from scratch, so this should be interesting...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

small victories

I've decided to start posting when I have a small victory. Whether it's avoiding sweets, or carbs, exercising when I didn't feel like it, or not pushing a coworker out the window, I'm going to post it.

Today's small victory: We're having a bake sale at work today, which benefits the American Cancer Society through the Relay For Life. Goodies came out at 8 am, 10 am, and 2 pm. It was going strong when I got in this morning. I took a look and drooled over everything, but I didn't buy anything for myself (but I donated money!). That's actually a huge victory for me, as I have a hard time avoiding bake sales.

exercise update

Just thought I'd give an update on my progress with the personal trainer. I haven't had my weigh-in or body fat measurement this week; that happens Friday, and I'll be sure to post!

Mark has been increasing my weights gradually. I didn't actually notice it last week, but I sure noticed last night! When I started the kettle bell swings he has me using a 10 lb. bell, and last night I was using a 25 lb. bell. And for the medicine ball slams (you can see them here) I started at 8 lbs. and am up to 20 lbs. I was tired last night, but I felt good. And I'm finally starting to feel it in my abs.

My home routine is the same for now, but that will be changing next week. Mark is going to add kettle bell exercises and small free-weights, so I'll need to go buy those this weekend. I'm anxious to see what the new routine will look like, because I find it tough to do now. I can do it, but when it comes to the squat jumps I feel like I'm ready to die when I get to about 13..and I have to do 15--three times! That's probably because all the exercises at home involve my quads (lunges, body squats and squat jumps).

I'm doing better with my pushups. I can't do a full one yet, but I am going down a little lower and I can do 10 to 12 at a time.

I'm also practicing the plank. A couple weeks ago, I started out holding the position for only 15 seconds (I have a very weak core) and I'm now up to 38 seconds. Mark was happy with that improvement, but wants me up to 45 seconds by Friday. I can do it!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

today's breakfast

When I went to New Hampshire for Easter, I stopped at a store on the way and picked up some fresh maple breakfast sausage and fresh Polish kielbasa.  I'm not sure whether to call it a convenience store, since there's a gas station there, too, or whether it's a county store.  Anyway, they make a lot of foods from scratch, like pies and pastries, and they also have deli-type foods, like sandwiches and salads.  Pizza, chicken and burgers, too. When I stopped this time, I discovered they sell meat and freshly made sausages and kielbasa. Of course, I had to buy some.

I made the maple breakfast sausage today. Look how big these links are!!  I couldn't eat all this.  I had the egg, two bites of sausage and about half the toast.  The sausage was good and reminded me of the sausage at my favorite diner back home.  That said, I'm not really a sausage person anymore since surgery.  It just seems too greasy for me.  I actually prefer the vegetarian sausages these days, or turkey or chicken sausage. This was good for a rare treat, though, and it actually wasn't greasy at all.

Friday, April 15, 2016

adventures in smoking

No, I haven't started smoking cigarettes!  Gross.  We got a smoker a couple weeks ago and I used it for the first time this past weekend.

We got the Brinkmann vertical smoker, which was on clearance at Home Depot for less than half the price.  (I later found out Brinkmann is in bankruptcy, which would explain the rock-bottom price.) I wasn't even thinking about buying one, but I know several people who smoke meat and they really enjoy it.  I figure maybe it will be a new hobby. Plus, I have dreams of delicious fall-off-the-bone ribs and juicy mesquite chicken.

Saturday I decided to cure it.  Smokers have to be cured before they can be used.  It's to protect the smoker from rust and to burn off the smells from manufacturing.  First of all, their instruction booklet (Yes, it's paper!  I didn't have to download it.) leaves a lot to be desired.  I think whoever wrote the steps needs to learn how to put them in order correctly.  Obviously, that made the process confusing, since I've never cooked with charcoal before. I eventually got it going, but it never reached the correct temp for curing (250 for two hours and 400 for one hour).  I think it was because it was cold outside. Also, I had to coat the whole inside with vegetable oil first, which as a bit messy.

I used it Sunday and this is what I made.  It's skirt steak (one of my half-price meat purchases).  I didn't use any marinade.  Just salt and pepper.  I smoked it for about two hours, maybe a little more, and the doneness was perfect (I like mine medium rare). I used charcoal and about five chunks of mesquite wood.

Fresh out of the smoker. It was so hard to wait 15 minutes to cut into it.  Gotta let the meat rest! That's always the hardest part, since I'm a steak lover.

You can't see it very well, but it has a nice smoke ring.

How did it taste?  It was...smoky.  I definitely will use a marinade next time, as all I really tasted was the smoke.  It wasn't bad, but just too smoky for me. It was very tender and juicy.  I used it on top of a salad the next day, and Bob took some to work for lunch.

Overall, I like the idea of smoking meat.  Pretty much hands off except for making sure it stays at the correct temperature. I'm all for things that are "set it and forget it."

I think next time I will try chicken.  Any suggestions for wood type and/or marinades?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

today's lunch

Today's lunch is a salad topped with onions, Colby jack cheese, grilled chicken breast, and bacon vinaigrette.

I'm not much of a salad person anymore.  Mainly because I've eaten SOOOO much of it during my dieting days and the two weeks leading up to my weight loss surgery.  But, for some reason, a salad topped with smoke skirt steak sounded really good last night.  I stopped at the store on my way home from seeing the personal trainer.  I was so excited to eat it, but a couple bites in I just wanted to throw it away.  Or just eat the toppings and not the lettuce. I ate it anyway, but it didn't really hit the spot.  Every once in awhile I crave salad, and about two bites in I decide I don't want it anymore.  It never tastes as good as it looks.  Also, I'm not very creative when it comes to salads, so they usually look like this. It's not horrible looking, but it also doesn't look very enticing. I wasn't looking forward to lunch, but I ate it anyway.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

homemade herbs de provence and seasoned salt

I have a big love for seasoned salt, especially Borsari.  It makes grilling meat so simple:  just shake it on and then grill.  It gives the meat a ton of flavor and people will think you used some Jedi mind trick to concoct a complicated spice rub.

I went to Whole Foods this weekend to get some more Borsari salt, but I just about fell over when I saw the price:  $8.99!!  I checked the Borsari website before I left the house.  Their price is $4.99, plus about $6.00 in shipping (I put two in the cart).  Last time I bought it at Whole Foods I remember it being $6.99, so I was pretty shocked yesterday to see $8.99.  Needless to say, I came home salt-less and sad. Instead, I bought some sea salt at the discount store and decided to make my own salt.

I found a recipe for Herbs de Provence seasoned salt, which calls for lavender (yes, I actually have that!), Herbs de Provence, and salt.  Of course I didn't have Herbs de Provence, so I found Emeril's  recipe online and made my own.  It didn't call for lavender, but I added it anyway since most Herbs recipes call for it. I then just added two tablespoons of the herb mix to 1/2 cup sea salt.  Viola! Seasoned salt.

Herbs de Provence (my version)

2 TB dried savory
2 TB dried rosemary
2 TB dried thyme
2 TB dried oregano
2 TB dried basil
2 TB dried marjoram
2 TB dried fennel seed
2 TB dried lavender

Put it all in a bowl and mix.

Herbs de Provence Seasoned Salt

2 TB Herbs de Provence
1/2 cup sea salt

Mix together in a small bowl.  Store in an airtight container away from moisture. Sprinkle on meats before grilling.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

making progress...slowly

Things are getting harder in the exercise department. Diet department, too.

I've been seeing the trainer, Mark, for about three weeks now.  I'm not feeling the pain nearly as much as I did that first week.  And what a painful week that was! I had to use the handicap toilet stall so I could use the railing to lower myself down. For the most part, I don't have any soreness the next day. That's good for me, but it also means Mark will work me harder. That's actually a good thing, but it doesn't feel like it in the moment.

Last Monday I did mostly arm work, like sumo squats with a kettle bell; reverse lunges with a kettle bell, which alternated from side to side; and kettle bell swings, to name a few.  And push-ups, of course; that will never go away.  Surprisingly, my aren't weren't sore the next day.

Last night was a combo of arms and legs.  Or quads, I should say.  More sumo squats with a 20 lb kettle bell; an exercise where I hold a weight in each hand, squat down and touch the floor, and then come back up and press up over my head; squats where I slam down a 12 lb medicine ball when I go into the squat; and a few other things.  He had me start using the barbell, which didn't have any additional weight on it...yet.  I know that's coming soon.  Mark then showed me the plank position, which is much harder than it looks. My base time is 15 seconds.  Not great, but it's a start.  It was a very tough workout and I was so tired when I finished last night! I'm a bit sore today, but not as bad as that first week.

My "home work" for the next week or so consists of:
  • Jogging in place, jumping jacks and mountain climbers, alternated three times for a total of 8 minutes
  • Total of 50 walking lunges
  • 3 sets of 20 body squats
  • 3 sets of 15 squat jumps
  • 4 sets of how ever many push-ups I can do:  I still can't do a full push-up, but I'm getting there.  I can do about 7 to 8 per set now.
  • Plank, as long as I can hold it
Mark measured my weight and body fat last night for the first time:  226.4 lbs and 38.4%.  Not terrible, but I have some work to do.

I have to say, I'm definitely not in the mood to do it today, but I will do it anyway.  I want results and I eventually want this extra skin removed.  It's mainly my abdomen that's an issue.  When I was doing the squats where I had to touch the floor with the weights, my stomach was definitely in the way and prevented me from going down farther. It was annoying.

I'm enjoying the whole experience overall.  I feel like I'm getting stronger, I have a desire to be more active, and Mark is a great trainer.  He's patient, but firm.  He's not like the trainers you see on The Biggest Loser.  Although some trainers are like that and it works for some people, that's not something I would want. He makes me work, but doesn't yell at me; he's encouraging.  He's also a fountain of information. Since I have guidelines to follow at my surgeon's office, Mark doesn't try to swing me to his side of the nutrition spectrum.  He gives me tips and tells me to use what I can, but also work with the surgeon's office.  I listen to what he has to say and try and incorporate what I can, like sticking to hard cheeses (much less processing) and limiting salt.

Well, I guess I should go do my exercise routine now...

(But I'd rather be doing this!)

Friday, April 8, 2016

my work in progress: eating, part three

Told you this was going to be long!  I think this is the post I've dreaded the most. I've considered not posting this at all, because it's really embarrassing, but maybe someone else will recognize themselves here and know they're not alone.

Continued from last week...

Eating, Part Three

I’ve talked about my eating habits, but I haven’t yet shared what I actually ate.  I mentioned that I would finally share that with you all what I used to eat on a typical day before my weight loss surgery, so I will now.  It's pretty embarrassing, but I think it needs to be done.  I won’t talk about childhood eating, since it was they typical junk food and such.  Adulthood is when it really came into its own.

Are you ready?

So, let’s say Bob went camping for the weekend. He usually left right from work, which meant we was gone when I get home from work.  That left me Friday night, all day Saturday, and half of Sunday to indulge.

Let’s start with Friday night.  On my way home from work I would pick up something from McDonald’s.  If I were going to be ordering a meal, like pizza or sushi, I would get just a double cheeseburger and a 9-piece chicken McNuggets. Then I’d go home and order sushi.  I would order two mango shrimp rolls, a spicy tuna crunch roll, a shrimp tempura roll, and a lobster tempura roll. Yes, FIVE rolls. I would also get an order or either crab rangoons or fried chicken wings.  I would eat about 70% of that and eat the rest the following day. After all, I had McDonald’s before that so I was already on my way to being full.  If I wasn’t ordering a meal later, I would get a double cheeseburger, a 9-piece chicken McNuggets, and a Big Mac value meal.  And I’d eat it all. Once in a while I would have some nuggets left over, which I would eat before the end of the night.

Saturday morning I would go to the grocery store and buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and some other snacks.  On my way home I would stop at McDonald’s and buy my breakfast, which I would eat at home.  I would order the steak, egg, and cheese bagel value meal, an extra hash brown, and a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.  And I’d eat it all.

Lunch might be a trip to McDonald’s or Duchess.  If I went to McDonald’s I would get a Big Mac extra value meal, a double cheeseburger, and a 9-piece chicken McNuggets.  If I went to Duchess, it was usually a Crispy Chicken value meal and either a hot dog or a 9-piece chicken nuggets.
I would then snack throughout the day on whatever I bought at the grocery store.  Usually chips or maybe a bagel.

Dinner would usually be some form of fast food or delivery again.  If I had sushi Friday night, I would usually order pizza on Saturday night.  I would get a large or medium pizza and an order of Buffalo wings. I was never able to eat a whole pizza (I know that’s the image people have in their heads when they see an overweight person), so I would eat the wings and maybe three slices of pizza. Maybe an hour later I would have another slice.  All accompanied by a couple cans of diet soda.

Then Cindy would come over for a “movie and ice cream” night.  We would break out the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream—one pint each, no bowls. Sometimes we would also have homemade popcorn, popped with oil and loaded with Land O’ Lakes butter and salt. So delicious!

Sunday morning was another trip down the road to McDonald’s for a steak, egg, and cheese bagel value meal, an extra hash brown, and a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.

Sunday afternoon Bob would get home from camping and we would usually go out for a late lunch, where I would order an appetizer and meal, like usual.

After eating all this food, I would be absolutely busting full.  It was as though I had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner--twice.    I ate like that so often that it distorted my perception of feeling full.  It was so far off that I didn’t think I was full unless I was almost ready to puke. (It's something I have to be very conscious of, even now that I've had weight loss surgery and lost over 120 pounds.)

I also ate a lot at work.  When I started working as a bank teller, I was in the downtown area.  My branch was across the street from a restaurant, Roberto’s, which served everything from pizza and burgers, to steak and seafood.  I eventually got in the habit of going across the street to Roberto’s just about every day for lunch.  I would order a Philly steak and cheese grinder with heavy mayo, and an order of fries with a side of tartar sauce (if you haven’t tried tartar sauce on fries, you should—it’s delicious!).  Several years later I was working in the administrative offices of the bank. I worked in an office building that had a sandwich shop downstairs.  I would go there before I even went upstairs to work.  I would order a sausage, egg and cheese on a toasted sesame bagel and also a buttered hard roll.  I always felt self-conscious ordering all that, so I would usually tell the clerk that the roll was for later, or that I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted to eat that morning.  That was a lie, of course. I ate all of it as soon as I got upstairs to my desk.  At lunchtime, I would often go to the Italian deli or to the sandwich shop downstairs and get a big sandwich, a bag of chips, a bottle of diet soda, and some sort of sweet.  That might be an average lunch for a lot of people, but it was a lot of food when I was still full from breakfast.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

car shopping, exercise, and egg muffins

That just about sums up my weekend.

We had to go car shopping Saturday, because Bob's car decided to die last week.  He tried his best to fix it, but it's a bad valve, which means replacing the head.  A huge job to do himself (he hasn't done it before) and expensive to have someone else do (not worth it for the age of the car).  So, we went shopping for a used car.  Since this was unexpected, we can't quite spring for a new car yet.  We ended up getting a PT red.  PT Cruisers are actually pretty nice. They're roomy in the cabin, have lots of storage space in the back, and get good gas mileage, which Bob needs because he drives 120 miles round trip for work every day.  We hope to pick it up tomorrow night.

My trainer gave me homework to do this weekend.  My session was Friday night and I have another tonight. Last weekend he didn't want me doing anything over the weekend, but I'm not a newbie anymore so it's time to turn up the heat.  My homework this past Wednesday and Saturday was:
  • Jogging in place, jumping jacks and mountain climbers, alternated three times for a total of 8 minutes
  • Total of 40 walking lunges
  • Total of 45 body squats
  • Total of 30 squat jumps
  • 4 sets of how ever many push-ups I can do (since I can only do about 1/3 of a push-up, it wasn't many)
I did it outside Sunday in the cold and wind (I admit I got lazy Saturday after car shopping).  Not fun, but I survived. I bundled up in my fleece jacket and wore gloves so I could do my push-ups and not have to touch the freezing cold pavement.  I have a really old house, and I don't want to do jumping jacks and jogging in place inside the house. It's a well-built house, but it makes me nervous.

Friday's routine consisted of mostly arm work using kettle bells at different weights. What a workout that was!  I wasn't sore Saturday, though.  Thankfully!

After doing my exercise, I decided to make some egg muffins.  I'd bought some Irish cheddar cheese a couple weeks ago and wanted to use it.  I also had some jalapeno Havarti, which I got at Aldi yesterday. I made 6 with cheddar and 6 with Havarti.  I didn't want to use regular breakfast sausage due to the high calorie content, so I used 3 Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patties. I also didn't want the added grease from regular sausage. I've found since my surgery that I don't have much of a taste for greasy food anymore. I also added a little skim milk this time, which made them fluff up a little and have a softer texture.  I've never added milk, but just decided to this time for some reason.  The nutritional facts for work out like this (per muffin):  130 calories, 8g fat, 2g carbs, 11g protein.

Irish Cheddar Egg Muffins

8 large eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
3 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
6 oz. Kerry Gold Skellig Sweet Irish Cheddar, chopped (use whatever cheddar you want)
Preheat the oven to 350.

Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and heat the onions on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, scallions and garlic and cook about 1 minute. 

Beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper. Add the cooked ingredients to the egg mixture and stir.

Spray a regular 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Spoon the egg mixture into the cups. Sprinkle the tops with cheese. (You could push the cheese down into the mixture, if preferred.  Then you'll have warm nuggets of cheese inside when you cut them open.)

Bake until they are set in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Pop them out of the pan within 10 minutes so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. 

These taste best when warm from the oven, but they will chill and reheat just fine for at least 4 to 5 days.  Great for freezing, too. If using the microwave to reheat, use 60% power so they don't turn out rubbery or hard around the edges.  100% power might kill them.

Friday, April 1, 2016

my work in progress: eating, part two

This is continued from last week.  It's long so I decided to split it up.  

Eating, Part Two

As you’ve read so far, I snacked an awful lot as a kid, added tons of calories by way of chips and mayo without any thought about calories, begged for fast food before dinner, and ate second helpings at dinner quite often.   Even though I played outside a lot and rode my bike, I was never able to work off enough calories, so my weight steadily climbed.

As a teenager, I would get fast food when I went over a friend’s house.  Cindy and I lived only three houses apart, so when her parents went out on a Saturday night I often slept over.  The added bonus was that her parents would buy us fried chicken from Roy Rogers before they left for the night.  We would eat our dinner and watch TV.  Then later on we might have some ice cream.  The next morning her dad would get up early and get us chocolate muffins for breakfast.  Sometimes we had cereal, too.  At another friend’s house, her mom always ordered pizza when I came over.  Once I got a driver’s license and a job, I really shoveled in the fast food; we were close to McDonald’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

What I ate greatly depended on several factors.  Was I alone or with someone?  If I was with someone, was I was comfortable being my "eating self" with that person, or was it a stranger or acquaintance?  Was I eating out in public, or was I at home?  If I was at home, was I alone or was my husband home?  All of these factors greatly affected the type and quantity of food I would eat.

If I was home alone, I ate whatever, whenever; it was almost like a vacation or a special treat.  One of the things I always looked forward to, whether I was a kid or an adult, was having the house to myself.  It was basically a license to gorge.  As a kid, those times when I was home alone were usually after school and maybe sometimes on the weekends if my parents went out.  As soon as I got home from school I would fly through the cabinets and fridge at top speed, searching for anything I could get my hands on.  I don't mean I would grab a bottle of ketchup and guzzle it.  I'm talking about chips, candy, snacks, crackers, etc.  I'll add that usually the reason I did that after school is because I would eat just some toast for breakfast (I never got up on time and would have to grab something fast) or a Pop Tart. At school I would eat my lunch my mom gave me, but lunch was very early, usually around 11:30 am or so.  That's pretty early when the school day ends after 3 pm.  In high school I normally skipped lunch, so I would go all day without eating.  I usually ate something small at home in the morning, but that’s it.  Although, many times I would go to the school’s store and buy a ton of candy.  I would often walk out with at least three candy bars; they would all be gone by the time I got home.  And when I got home, I would eat as much as I could in the short amount of time I had alone.  I didn’t want anyone to see that I was eating the equivalent of a whole meal before dinner.

I met my husband at the ripe old age of 15.  Our “dates” consisted of driving around in his 1988 Plymouth Horizon—that was a fun car!—while listening to music and drinking; Bob was 21 so he was able to buy alcohol.  We almost always went out to eat, either to the diner or for fast food.  Since we saw each other almost every day, that was quite a bit of eating out.  And, typically, when he drove me home, we would stop at 7-11 and I would buy a Slim Jim, a 7-11 cheeseburger (those things are so addictive for some reason), and a Nestle Quik.  (Nutritious meal, huh?) I think that’s when I really started to gain weight.  Eating out was something we both enjoyed, and since we didn’t have all that much in common, eating was what we did for fun; it was our common bond.

When Bob and I got married and bought our own house, I had much more time to myself.  Bob often worked nights, so I would get home and just raid the house, just like I did after school when I was a kid.  But now I was working and often bored, so I would order out sushi, Chinese, or pizza.  Or I would go to McDonald’s, which, unfortunately, was at the end of my street.

And then there were the times when Bob went camping for the weekend.  I would plan my eating while I was at work.  As I said before, having the house to myself was a license to gorge.  I would plan to order sushi usually.  But I would stop at McDonald’s on my way home from work to get started. I would order the sushi.  But not just sushi.  I would usually add a Chinese appetizer—the restaurant I ordered from sold both Chinese and Japanese food.  The following day, Saturday, I would go grocery shopping and buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and brownies and M&Ms for topping the ice cream, which would all get eaten that night when Cindy came over for a girl’s night.  Oh, and of course I would stop at McDonald’s for breakfast on the way home from the grocery store.  Sunday morning I would get up and drive down to McDonald’s again for my breakfast. Then Bob would come home and we would usually go out to the diner for a late lunch.

If I was eating out, I would normally order an appetizer for myself, plus my meal.  Bob would get his own appetizer and meal, also.  Depending where we went, sometimes there was a bread basket, or chips and salsa, or sometimes even popcorn. We would eat all of that. Then we would eat most of the appetizers.  When the meal came we were able to eat about half our meal and the rest would go home with us.  I often ate my leftovers later that night, but sometimes I would eat them the next day.  Oh, and I would have lots of diet soda with my meal.  I didn’t usually go too wild when I ate out, since I was in public and didn’t want to embarrass myself.

If I was eating with someone at home or at a friend’s house, how much I ate depended on how comfortable I was with that person.  Most of the time I was with Bob, so I would eat several cheeseburgers for dinner, along with some type of side dish.  A little while later I would have a snack.  And then another snack a while later.  Then maybe another mini meal after that.  If I was with Cindy, or over her house or a family member’s house, I would usually limit it to one cheeseburger and the side dish, and then maybe a snack later.

When eating with an acquaintance or a stranger, such as at a business lunch or a seminar for work, I would eat a “normal” portion, but I was usually thinking about a big steak the whole time. And I almost always finished my whole meal.  I was used to eating huge portions, so it took me a lot to feel full, or what my definition of “full” was at that time.  The whole time I would feel very self-conscious, wondering if I was, in fact, eating like a “normal” person, or if I was being a pig.

To be continued...