Discovery of the day: Setpoints suck

I'm closing in on two months straight with absolutely no weight loss. I'm trying to not let it get to me but I'm getting a little annoyed.

I've settled into a reasonably do-able eating plan that I can pretty much stick with, even in times of stress. Sure, there are a few things that I could probably cut back on (did someone say peanut butter?) but overall I think I'm doing OK.

But I'm stuck at my old setpoint, the one on my driver's license, the one I've been bouncing around for years. If I could just get a couple more pounds off I think it would propel me forward to the next (lower) level.

My running class finally starts Saturday, for real this time. As much as I dread the first month of getting moving again, I have a feeling that exercise is the key.

Why is it that the thing you hate the most is the most important part?



Discovery of the day: Surviving Costa Rica

The good news: it's easy-peasy!

For the first time in recorded history, I made it back from vacation without gaining a single pound. My boyfriend lost a couple pounds but he doesn't recommend his method -- he got hit with a fast-moving intestinal bug.

I've decided that I am in love with gallo pinto, the unofficial Costa Rican national dish. It's black beans and rice, but it's so much more. The secret is Salsa Lizano, a beloved Costa Rican condiment with a worcestershirey-vinegary-'green' flavor. Good stuff!

The 90 deg temps helped suppress my appetite, and the abundance of fresh produce coupled with a reasonably safe water supply (and the fact that we rented a house --> we had a kitchen) made it all work. Plus, Costa Rica isn't a major food destination so the temptation to eat out a lot just wasn't there.

It was funny to see the signs for Quizno's, KFC, and Pizza Hut, though.

All in all, a good break. Now that I'm back at my desk, I realize how much of my eating comes from boredom. I've made great strides in controlling that over the years but there's still work to be done. There's always work to be done, isn't there?



Discovery of the day: Sweet, sweet Friday....

Less than 18 hours left until I head to the airport to catch the plane to Costa Rica! It's going to be a very slow afternoon. I am leaving a couple of hours early because I haven't exactly packed yet.

Yesterday I somehow managed to forget to eat dinner! I ended up eating peanut butter toast at 8 pm. And you know what? I was OK with that. I noticed later that my ankles were swollen, probably from the pho the other night. Damn! I really like pho, but apparently it doesn't like me.

Tonight my boyfriend & I are going out to dinner to celebrate our first anniversary and I doubt I'll be too strict in my ordering. Oh well. Even if I do backslide, I've found that even when I do eat "regular" food, I can't seem to eat as much of it as I used to.

So as of tonight, I'm officially going to be scale-free for the next week. Can't wait to see what's waiting for me when I get back.

Have a good week, and I'll see you back here on the 28th unless I decide to bring my laptop and post by dial-up.

p.s. My co-worker said that "bebida del paraguas" is "umbrella drink" in Spanish. Is that right? Anyone know?




Discovery of the day: Salty lass

Took my boyfriend and son out to the pho place for dinner last night. I had the tofu pho, which I love, but it must've been a sodium disaster! My hands are all swollen today and I'm not even going to mention the scale. Let's just say we're not speaking today.

Met my pal at the fancy-pants grocery for lunch today and achieved my goal of making myself a not-quite-BAS at the salad bar that cost less than $10. The way I build my salads these days (and at their prices) that's no mean feat. Apparently beets, beans, and peas are very expensive things. It gripes me, but I try to remember that I'm getting more salad for less $$ than if we met at a regular restaurant for lunch.

I'm just a little anxious about my food opportunities in Costa Rica, but if I eat as much fruit as I can and eat just what I need of the other stuff I should get by OK.

I'm hoping that a week of R&R will get me a) over the tail end of this virus and b) excited about trying new stuff again. I still have a lot to learn about producing interesting food that fits in my pyramid, especially as soup season draws to a close. Although around here, soup season could well extend into July.



Discovery of the day: The slow crawl back to normal

I'm not at 100% yet but the headache is down to a dull roar. I did OK with my standard fruit breakfast and BAS lunch yesterday and today, although I did succumb to a chocolate-covered-graham-cracker craving at Starbuck's this afternoon. They didn't have dark chocolate -- only the milk chocolate -- but I bought them anyway. And I ate them both. They weren't perfect, but they were pretty damned close.

My package of high-quality soup bases from Penzey's Spices arrived today. I'm itching to give them a go, but I doubt I'll get to them for the next week and a half or so because...

I'm going to Costa Rica!

My boyfriend & I are heading out Saturday for a week in the tropics. I've never been (he has) and I'm so excited! I hear the fruit is amazing, and I shouldn't have much trouble eating beans & rice. And there will be many long walks on the beach, of course.

Anyway, I won't be cooking much the next few nights what with the travel preps and all so my soup base experiments will have to wait. Just gotta get rid of the rest of this virus and I'll be ready to rock. And I need to learn to ask for an umbrella drink in Spanish. :)

p.s. I managed to walk for a full 60 mins today! I'm hoping I can get another day in before the weekend.



Discovery of the day: Un-comfort foods

One of my big issues is comfort eating. When I don't feel well it's really difficult for me to not eat unless I'm actively puking. Carbs and fat are what I go for. I'm the only person I know who almost always gains weight when I'm sick.

Yesterday I was at home all day, I had lettuce, and I could certainly had eaten a BAS... but I just couldn't do it. I ended up having a giant piece of peanut butter toast for lunch. I felt too crappy to go out to dinner :( so my boyfriend brought over really good sub sandwiches and a big bag of those thick, crunchy potato chips. I am ashamed to confess that was my second potato chip binge in two days.

I was not surprised to see the scale up a lb. this morning.

I'm at work today which will slow down my food consumption a bit. I brought my BAS. I want to walk at lunch but I just am not feeling up for it.

I have to get over this virus before I completely fall off the wagon!



Discovery of the day: Blech.

Well, the weekend didn't go at all as I'd thought. My boyfriend was feeling cruddy Friday night and Saturday we both felt cruddy, so we didn't go anywhere. Instead we mostly just hung around enjoying the freakishly warm, sunny day. The high temp was almost 30 degrees warmer than the days before and after. Weird!

At least I didn't have to contend with a lot of meals out. On Sunday we did eat a totally underwhelming lunch at TGI Friday's. I ordered their Cobb salad sans chicken and cheese. Way skimpy on the lettuce, but otherwise adequate. Service was dreadfully slow, which probably wasn't helped by the fact that we weren't feeling that great and my son was bored.

I'm home today feeling cruddy with some weird sinus-thing. Ick. Good news is that it is suppressing my appetite a little. Bad news is that today is the 1 year anniversary of our first date and I really wanted to go out for a nice dinner tonight. I hope I feel better later on today.

Maybe there will be a silver lining and the scale will budge a bit....



Discovery of the day: BAS on the fly

Usually I bring a BAS for lunch, but there are days when a) I'm out of lettuce, b) I "forgot" to prep the lettuce I do have, or c) I simply walk off without my BAS.

The fancy-pants grocery store (not their real name) has a salad bar, but that shit's expensive! Last time I made myself a close-to-standard BAS, it was over $10. And none of their containers are even large enough to hold a full 8 oz of lettuce. I'll suck it up when I meet my pal there for lunch, but otherwise, um, no.

One day it occurred to me that I could buy a 10 oz bag of pre-cut romaine (usually ~$2.50-$2.75), a can of three-bean salad (~$1.50), a can of other beans (< $1.00) and an avocado (depends, maybe $2.50-$3.00) and put together a BAS plus have beans and avocado left for the next two days. And if I remember to grab beans and avocado from home, so much the better.

The first day I decided to try it I realized that I didn't have a BAS-capable bowl with me so I bought a 3-pack of good-sized (4c? 6c?) reusable/disposable plastic food storage containers. I took two home but kept one at the office for future emergencies.

I've used the On-the-fly BAS option maybe once a week since then. I have been pretty good about either having a bowl at work or remembering to grab one along with my fixins on my way out in the morning. I even brought in a few smaller containers to have on hand to hold the rest of the beans, etc. Yes, I had it nailed. Everything was going along smooth as soymilk... until yesterday.

I was out of lettuce yesterday morning, so I grabbed an avocado and decided I'd buy a can of 3-bean salad (the marinated beans kind of take the place of salad dressing) and bag o'lettuce at the store. Completely forgot about the whole bowl thing until I got back to my office. Crap!

Nowhere in the kitchenette was there a container anywhere near capable of holding more than a cup. Paper plate? I eat at my desk (read: over my keyboard) and it didn't seem prudent. It certainly wouldn't hold more than a cup or two anyway.

I've got my lettuce, my beans, my avocado, and I'm starving! I went into the kitchenette to rinse off the lettuce (yeah, they say it's pre-washed. Hmph.) and it occurred to me that I could just use the bag.

Took me awhile to get the hang of it, but it worked! I ended up cradling it in my left hand while forking it from the right. I had to keep cutting the bag down as I ate my way toward the bottom, although I suppose I could have just folded it over. I also learned that I pretty much had to keep my fork and my mouth right over top of the bag, but I usually eat that way anyway.

BAS on the fly! If it keeps me from hitting the Burger King drive-thru just down the hill, it's gotta be a good thing.



Discovery of the day: I can walk!

I walked again at lunch yesterday. That's twice this week! I'm not sore anymore, and that makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere.

One benefit is that by walking 3 days a week at lunch, I make three fewer trips to the grocery store. That means a lot less impulse buying.

The next few days are going to be a challenge, food-wise. My ex and I are meeting up at my son's parent-teacher conference this afternoon and we usually go out to dinner after to compare notes. That's one meal out. Tomorrow evening I have to get my son's shaggy, shaggy hair cut, and that is traditionally followed by a dinner out. That's two. And my boyfriend and I were talking about taking my son to Seattle one day this weekend to wander around the International District. That would be three, although it might be lunch instead of dinner. Or maybe both... that would be four! Yikes!

But all I can do is all I can do. Eat the right stuff when it's available, and try not to gorge on the less-right stuff.

But I'll tell you right now, if Tim's potato chips are available, I'll be screwed.



Discovery of the day: Tempeh? Eh...

I've been looking for something protein-ish to add to my stir-fries since my son got burned out on tofu. I saw something on TV about tempeh and figured it might be worth a go. I bought a package a few weeks ago and it has since been sitting in the fridge glaring balefully at me. Finally, last Sunday it was time.

I looked up some recipes and decided to go with a simple marinade. I cut the block into cubes and set it soaking for the afternoon. Come cooking time, I fried it up first before adding the vegs and sauce.

Verdict? Eh. My son took one bite and avoided it for the rest of the meal. I ate it, partially out of sheer stubbornness. Probably not wise, since that was four days ago and I can still taste it. Urp.

It was supposed to be good! Why wasn't it good? I feel like I was deceived.

I'm also discouraged. I may just go back to small fried plain tofu cubes as a garnish for my stir-fries. Those were good and my son doesn't have to eat it. Or maybe I'll try some pre-baked tofu from the store. I haven't had luck making my own.

In other news, I'm getting more interested in TVP, texturized vegetable protein. I remember having it around when I was a kid -- my grandpa was a food broker and always brought us new stuff -- and I don't remember it sucking. Besides, it's what some bacon bits are made of. Mmmm... bacon!

I have also heard that today's TVP is new and improved. My only reservation is that my boyfriend adds it to his oatmeal and for some reason that kind of weirds me out. But it can't be worse than the tempeh. Can it?

Anyway, I plan on buying some and giving it a go. I just ordered some really high-quality concentrated soup bases in attempt to pump up the flavor of some of my bean dishes. Think really good bouillon cubes in a jar. Maybe flavoring the TVP with some of that will imbue it with meaty goodness.

Maybe I should stop worrying so much about the meaty goodness and just embrace the natural, clean beauty of the bean-and-veggie lifestyle. But it's a fun project and it would be really cool to find something that we all like.



Discovery of the day: Nowhere to run

I mentioned last week that I signed up for that 5K running class, allegedly scheduled to start last Saturday. Key word there is allegedly. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Friday eve I dug out my running gear from the far back recesses of my closet. Saturday I got up a 6 am(!), shoveled some chow, and headed over to the Park & Rec to hurt myself in the chill (37 deg!) but dry (phew!) morning.

Nobody there.

To say I was miffed would be polite. Then I remembered that last year the first class was held at a park down the road. Maybe they forgot to send me that info because I signed up late. I drove over.

Again, nobody there.

Drove back and forth between the P&R and the park a couple of times, just in case, but no joy. Just as I was getting ready to give up and go home I spied a small group of women huddled on the corner by the P&R. They were wearing exercise togs. That seemed promising.

Alas, they too were waiting for the class that didn't seem to be happening. After a few minutes consultation we agreed to go for a walk anyway. Hell, we were standing outside at 7 am on a Saturday morning. May as well.

Turned out to be a nice walk! The clouds stayed just far enough away so as not to threaten us with wet and the temperature was downright pleasant once I got warmed up. We probably did about 3 miles. I was nice and sweaty by the time we finished our loop.

Called the P&R on Monday and eventually got the definitive answer: Instructor is out with an injury. No class until May. I was kind of relieved, but disappointed. I had myself psyched up to put in my month of pain (and there definitely would be pain) to get my ass back on the road.

But it was a little unnerving how sore I was from Saturday's little walk. And I definitely had felt the unhappy reaction of my heart and lungs on the hills. Maybe I'm not as ready as I thought I was.

So, as often happens, a setback reveals an opportunity. I figure it's time to step up. I will be walking 3 miles (~45-50 mins.) at least 3 days a week this month. I'm banking on the notion that it might cut down on my training curve next month.

I walked yesterday at lunch; that's a start. I was really sweaty when I got back but I have my own office and I don't deal with customers face to face so no one cares. I even brought my old running shoes to leave at work. I'm aiming for no excuses although I'm sure I'll find some.

It's important to me that I give this a good, honest try. I ran (off and on) for 10 years, even starting up again after I had my son at age 40, until a series of respiratory infections knocked me off track 6 or 7 years ago and I was never able to get going again.

I was a fairly inactive youth, and learning to run (and sometimes even enjoy it) at the age of 32 was one of the hardest things I ever did. There were days that my ex had to practically drag me out, whining and moaning, but somehow I kept going. I never could break a 10-minute mile, and I only ran maybe 15 miles a week (OK, that's generous), but I still count it as one of my greatest successes. I had always said that I couldn't run and that I hated exercise. I did it anyway and didn't die. It was the ultimate triumph of Me over Me.

I'm hoping for a comeback. I would love to be running regularly before I turn 50. Now that would be a triumph, for sure!



Discovery of the day: Scales of justice?

This weekend I noticed that my boyfriend had bought bathroom scales. Or maybe they finally surfaced from his move last year, I don't know. I decided that it would be fun to step on them. It wasn't.

I was shocked at the number that appeared. Once my vision cleared, I realized that it was only (!) 2.5-3 lbs more than my scale, which is probably well within the range of tolerance between bathroom scales. But when one has lost only 10 lbs, that represents a quarter to a third of that effort. Even though I know it's silly to compare numbers between scales, seeing that "old" number affected me.

Upon (honest) reflection, I have to admit it makes sense. Last time I was at the weight currently reported by my scales, I was moving into the next size smaller pants, and that certainly ain't happening now. I was blaming the discrepancy on my lack of exercise, but I wasn't exercising then, either.

Which means, if his scales are accurate, that the weight I was at before I started this time was an all-time (non-postpartum) high.


Which means if I gain the weight back plus some extra, as usually happens, that would be Very Bad. I would probably have to go shop in a different section of the clothing store. I so don't want that to happen.

It also means that I need to figure out how to get the weight loss going again. I stalled last month and I want to get going again before I fall into complacency which often leads to backsliding.




Discovery of the day: Blue Box Big Ass Salad

Blue Box -- aka mac & cheese 'dinner' from a blue box -- is a familiar, much beloved friend from my youth. In accordance with the circle of life, I've been serving BB to my kids for over 20 years now. I know it's not the 'best' possible food, but I try to make up for the insult to their overall nutrition by serving it with frozen vegs, either peas or (on special occasions) mixed vegs, in as close to a 1:1 ratio as I can get away with.

I was home this morning with my son. Lunchtime rolls around, he requests BB. OK, I can do that. The hardest part of preparing the meal is not eating the other 2/3 of the box.

I'm nuking the peas, I'm stirring the macaroni, and I'm thinking to myself I really do need to eat a BAS for lunch today, but I can't think of anything to put on it that sounds good, and boy, that BB is looking mighty fine..."

Hey! How about a BBBAS?

Best of both worlds, right? I threw a (generous) portion of BB on top of a bowl of lettuce and topped it with a respectable mound of little green peas. And it was good!

Now, I need to confess that the BB we're eating these days is not your old-school Kraft made with mass quantities of butter and milk. I do have a special place in my heart for it, but it's just too expensive, fat-gram-wise. I've recently switched to Annie's Organic, which doesn't call for butter, and I make it with rice milk.

However, I learned quickly that I had to adjust my technique.

Took me a few iterations but I think I've got it down pat. First trick is to drain the macaroni, but not to excess. Don't shake them dry. Some pasta water sticking in and on them is a good thing (ask Mario Batali). Dump them back into the pot and add the cheese stuff (I'm talking about the dry cheese sauce mix in the pouch). Stir it up well. There should be enough pasta water hiding inside the macaroni to get the sauce going. Then, add just a splash of milk (rice or otherwise) -- I swear, just a tablespoon or so -- and keep stirring. Add another tablespoon if necessary.

Adding just enough milk is the key. The first couple of times I added my usual amount of fluid and ended up with something closer to mac & cheese soup.

Another note: I've only tried the macaroni shape. If you're talking spiral pasta or shells, or cheese sauce in any color other than fluorescent orange, YMMV.

There you have it; my first recipe!

My boyfriend says artichokes for dinner tonight -- yay! We all know an artichoke's primary function is as a mayonnaise delivery system.



Discovery of the day: Once the seal is broken...

My favorite bit of drinking lore involves "the seal." Urban Dictionary defines it thusly:
Your first piss in the pub, usually after 2 hours of drinking. After breaking the seal of your bladder, repeat visits to the toilet will be required every 10 or 15 minutes for the rest of the night.

I think a similar thing happened to me yesterday. I think the pizza broke the seal. Oh, I had my BAS for dinner, but there was 1/4 of a cheese quesadilla in the fridge leftover from my son's dinner on Tuesday. Normally I would have had no problem passing it by (or just tossing it out) but I went for it.

On my way to pick up my son, I realized I needed to gas up the car. I usually head up to Costco since prices are a couple of cents cheaper than the Arco. Son and I filled the tank. Then I realized that Dairy Queen was right across the street.

It's just a small vanilla cone, I thought. I may as well -- I'm already tainted by pizza and quesadilla....

I tell you, it was the best damned small vanilla soft-serve cone I ever had.

Of course I realize that one slice of pizza, a fourth of a quesadilla, and a small cone aren't going to send me hurtling down the road to ruin, but after gaining and losing the same 20 lbs repeatedly, I can say with authority that this is how backsliding starts, at least for me.

It starts with a small transgression or two. The scale lets me get away with it. The slips start coming closer together -- first every weekend, then twice a week, every other day, daily -- and the scale stays pat. I relax my guard and/or get distracted and suddenly it's 5 lbs.

Not a tragedy, only 5 lbs, right? But then Something Happens, either holidays and winter and my resulting hibernation, or something else that wrecks my attitude or saps my energy, and I stop eating the right things. And boom! It's back in the fat pants, usually with a few extra lbs for flare.

I'm still determined not to let it happen again, but I'm old and jaded enough to know to Never Say Never.

Fingers crossed....



Discovery of the day: Take a walk on the wild side

My pal talked me into having pizza for lunch today. We try to meet once a week at the fancy pants grocery store where we usually hit the salad bar with occasional trips to the soup bar just to mix it up a little. They also have, unfortunately, a pizza 'n' hot dog stand which we have studiously been avoiding for months.

Today, however, she worked her magic on me and I succumbed. She's smooth, real smooth:
P: Hi!

L: Hi!

P: I'm thinking pizza today.

L: Sure!

See what I mean? I didn't stand a chance. She's a temptress, that one.

The pizza (pesto & cheese) wasn't as good as it should have been to justify the calories, but it was still damned fine.

Tonight my son is eating at his dad's so I will find solace in a BAS. Hopefully I'll be able to redeem myself.



Discovery of the day: Romaine season

Apparently March is not prime romaine lettuce season. As the month wore on, I had an increasingly tough time finding decent romaine. And the stuff I bought yesterday -- alleged romaine 'hearts' -- was the worst yet.

My theory is that it's now too hot in the south and not yet warm enough in the north.

This makes me increasingly not happy, romaine being my main food source. I suppose I'm going to have to suck it up and start buying other (sniff) lettuces. The red and green leaf stuff looks pretty good, although I haven't yet examined it closely.

I was whining yesterday about how I hadn't lost any weight in March. Turns out that I may not have seen any new numbers on the scale, but I have noticed that my ten lb loss is much more solid now.

I'll take that.

Today I signed up for the 5K running class that I dropped out of last year. It starts this Sat. at 7 am! The other session is (gag!) 6:30 on a weeknight! After work! Bloody painful (on many levels) but I really have to give it the good old college try.

Recently I heard a quote that went something like this: "No matter how old you are, you'll never be this young again."

Yikes! That really shocked me. I need to get my thinking straight.