Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weigh in #44

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  The day above all others that is most about food presented an incredible challenge.  I wasn't really "dieting" on Thursday, but all of the work I have done in the last 10 months really paid off.  My stomach is nowhere near as large as it used to be, and after one plate I couldn't do much more than nibble for the rest of the day.  I chose to indulge in adult beverages, but I also drank a lot of water, and my body never got into retention mode, which certainly saved me some immediate weight gain.  I had not weighed myself since and I had a holy crap moment this morning when I got on the scale:

Current Weight: 288.8 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 1.2 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 151.4 lbs

That is correct, I lost weight on Thanksgiving week.  To be honest I am surprised, because though I wasn't anywhere near as bad as I might have been in years past I certainly did not work that hard either.  Now, I weighed exactly that on Wednesday morning, so I only maintained through the holiday, but that is a huge success.  I will take results like this any week, and particularly on a week where so much could have gone wrong.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking With Tofu

Once upon a time this wanna be home gourmet was very afraid of tofu, both cooking AND eating.  When I decided to do the whole Meatless Mondays thing I know I would have to get over that, at least eating it from time to time.  I love Thai food, so that is where I started, and for the most part I have enjoyed it.  Of course, the cooks I am frequenting know what they are doing.  I, however, have only what I have gleaned from Food TV and some web research.  Nonetheless I decided the time was ripe for a DIY tofu meal.  I saw the package in the grocery and picked it up.  I let it sit in my fridge for a week.  I finally got the courage up and got cooking tonight.  I decided to stick with what I know and made my usual Thai basil recipe, but substituted some tofu that I pressed and marinated for the chicken.  I must say I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.  The marinade I used wasn't quite what I was looking for, and needs some tweaking, but I will definitely eat the leftovers, and try again.  It isn't as good as my favorite restaurant, but that may partially be quality of ingredients.  Next time I will go to the Asian grocery and get some higher quality tofu, but in a pinch the supermarket stuff isn't too bad.  What I did learn is that I enjoyed the mushrooms as a meat substitute much more than the tofu.  I am not a full time vegetarian, so the need to supplement my protein isn't great.  The mushrooms have a much more meaty texture, and I love the way they taste.  In the future I may stick with mushrooms, especially considering the calorie savings. What I can do, though, is maybe have an extra meat free meal every now and again and still have the filling serving I am looking for.  I don't know that there is anything wrong with saving some cholesterol and calories by skipping the meat a couple more times a month.  I think that may be an added bonus of cooking my vegetarian at home.  There are always leftovers, so the likelihood I eat more veggies is very high.  I think the moral of this story may be that practice makes perfect.  This won't be my last home tofu experience, and that is a success for the day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weigh in #43

What a busy week!  Between the show, which officially opens today at 2:30, but we have been previewing since Friday, and the new job, which I have been in training for since Tuesday, I have not had much time for cooking or writing.  Yesterday I had work, a dress rehearsal and a preview, so I did not have time to write anything, but I did weigh myself super early and here are the numbers:

Current Weight: 290 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 1 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 150.2 lbs

Hmm.  Not great, but I did lose some weight.  I have still been snacking a bit more heavily than is prudent, and not always the best things, but I am making the better choice more often, so I am seeing some success.  This week things should normalize a bit in terms of sheer time spent running around, but Thanksgiving is coming, so I will settle for maintenance this week.  I do plan on bringing some healthy, filling options to the Thanksgiving potluck I am going to, including the fall lasagna I posted earlier.  Since I have to be downtown at 5:45am to rehearse for our performance in the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade that morning, I think I will have earned a bit of a cheat meal, though.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Kitchen Escapades

In the last couple of months the blog has been as barren as the trees around the lakefront.  Id like to keep my pace around the 10-12 post a month mark, not only to keep interest up (both for you and me) but to keep my work in the forefront.  I may not have the urgency of the beginning of my journey, but I can certainly make the work as conscious as it has been in my most successful times.  The trap for me is saying "this should be automatic" and then quickly falling back into my former bad habits.  I may have personal inertia, but my personal friction seems to pull me back to the bad habits, hence the need to stay deliberate in my work.  I realized that I had not done an "In The Kitchen" blog post for quite some time.  I did a bit of cooking this week, so I thought I would take a few snaps to share.

One thing I wanted to try was to take more control of my snacking.  I am cooking most of my meals, why not my snacks?  I had a hankering for chips and decided if I made them myself I would have less on hand and I would have earned the indulgence.  I got various root veggies and some oil and got frying.

What you see here are sweet potatoes and parsnips.  I had a turnip, but the water content was so high that the chips burned before crisping.  As a famous hot lunch once said, though, "two out of three ain't bad".  As you can see there aren't a bunch of chips, this is probably two parsnips and one and a half large sweet potatoes worth.  Probably two to three hearty servings.  It was great that the yield wasn't that high because I didn't have a huge bag of chips sitting around tempting me, and I was more careful with them because I knew how much work went into them.  Not only in the cooking, but cleaning.  I had never deep fat fried before, and I do not have a fryer, so I used a normal pot.  There was oil EVERYWHERE.  Drips on the floor, aerosolized oil on most of my cooking surfaces, and on the ceiling.  I got the kitchen clean, but my apartment still smells like a McDonald's.  There was certainly a sense of accomplishment for all of the work, though.

The next kitchen project was a test recipe.  I had been inspired by a cooking show to make a fall lasagna.  Pasta is not on the top of my "healthy foods" list, but it looked incredible, and the annual Davis' turkey day potluck is coming up, and I am aiming to impress.  I trolled the internet looking for recipes and I found a Martha Stewart offering that looked promising.  In the comments I saw that people had success making substitutions with less fat and calorie ingredients, so I decided to improvise off of the recipe and see how it turned out.  I have to say I knocked this one out of the park.  This is butternut sage lasagna:

I was a little worried about the flavor initially, hence the missing piece.  It turned out great, though.  Creamy, savory, and surprisingly not as dense as I expected.  The absolute best part is that according to my calculations it is only 200 calories per slice.  Even if I am off by 50%, and I doubt I am, this is a reasonably healthy side dish for a fall occasion, and a great vegetarian entree for the meatless days. This one is definitely going in the recipe book.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weigh in #42

Sorry the post is so late today, friends, but rehearsal called and I have been out of the house since late this morning.  This post is my 100th on the blog!  I don't know that I have ever been as consistent or diligent at any other project I have set myself, but while the moment to moment choices can be difficult I will never go back to the way I was.  This past week was not particularly great.  I had a pretty indulgent weekend and spent most of the week working that off, but at least I did not gain any weight.  Here are the numbers:

Current Weight: 291 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 0 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 149.2 lbs

I admit that beyond the indulgences I did not take as full advantage of the time off I had this week as I could have, but I did cook more than I have been able to in the past couple of months, and I got in two good walk/workouts.  Once the new day job starts, and we go into tech with the show I can't imagine things will get better, but at least I will have less time in the apartment being tempted by snacks and the television. In the couple days off I have left I plan to get some serious cooking done so I will be able to brown bag to work and eat well even in the time crunch of tech week.  This week I will break 290, so stay tuned for good results next Saturday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On The Nature Of Failure

A few weeks ago I made a trip to one of my favorite stores, Half Price Books.  For a tight-fisted nerd like me HPB is great because I like to own my books, but I don't really enjoy paying out the nose for a brand new book.  I had a mission: I was picking up sequel books in the Ender series, which I started reading so I could discuss it with my little brother, but enjoyed it for its own merits and decided to get the next few books in the series (at a discount of course).  While there I saw that the store had received a shipment of Craig Ferguson's memoir, "American On Purpose", that were brand new, but slightly off in some way, so unsellable in a big box book store.  So I picked one up.  I love Ferguson's show, and his patriotism and humor are inspiring.  I started reading last night and was immediately struck by the preface.  Ferguson has fallen in love with baseball.  His son now plays little league.  Ted Williams has famously said, "Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer."  Ferguson disagrees a bit, though, and so do I.  He sees baseball as an allegory for the American experience and is thrilled that his son loves this "most American game."

"He will know from an early age that failure is not a disgrace.  It's just
a pitch that you missed, and you'd better get ready for the next one.
The next one might be the shot heard round the world.  My son and I 
are Americans, we prepare for glory by failing until we don't."
I can't say that I expected to learn more about failure from baseball and a reformed alcoholic Scots immigrant comedian than in theater school or from all of my family and friends put together, but that may be a bit over-dramatic.  Those two may have just been the right lens through which to view my other lessons.  As an actor getting one callback out of ten auditions is about average, and booking one out of ten roles you callback for is about average too, or so I have heard.  I am lucky that I have been more successful in theater than booking 1% of my auditions, but certainly far from a .300 average.  That paragraph hit me immediately though, because it started to knit together many threads of thought I have had about this experience.  They are lessons I should have taken to heart sooner.  I have until know thought of failure as just that, failure.  Each instance was a separate test.  Pass or fail.  I should have been thinking about my failures in two ways.  In the immediate moment of course I have failed and a certain amount of disappointment is expected.  But in the grand scheme of things it is one of one thousand opportunities in a day to make the right choice, and one failure may teach me the lesson that leads to more success in the future than I could have had otherwise.  This of course applies not only to my health, but also to my acting, and even when dating or working at the day job.  I spent so long paralyzed by fear of failing even once that I never gave myself a chance to succeed.  Now that I have seen that the wins far outpace the losses, even at my worst, it is easier to keep going.

I look back on my posts and I can see that this way of thinking has been just around the corner for me for some time, but it is easier for me to think this way now because of how far I have come.  I have realized that if I never lost another pound I wouldn't too upset about it.  I like the way I look and feel.  I am not where I need to be for my health, however.  Today I calculated my BMI, or Body Mass Index, which, while crude, is a decent indicator of how one's weight is likely to impact one's health.  My BMI is just over 35, which is considered Obese class 2.  The website suggested I talk to my doctor about ways to lose weight.  Any BMI over 30 is considered obese.  Any BMI over 25 is considered overweight.  Now, as I said, the standard BMI calculation is crude and does not take muscle mass or frame into account.  Just to break the overweight/obese line I need to get down to 246, and to be considered "healthy" I need to get down to 204.  This is ridiculous.  I have a very large frame, my waist to height ratio equates more to the border between overweight and obese.  Supposing I split the difference between the two measurements then a weight of around 220-230 and a waist size in the 36 region are good final goals, as long as I work to tone and keep my fat/muscle ratios healthy.  At some point I am going to need some professional advice as to where is a healthy place to start the maintenance portion of my health journey.  Educated guesses have done me right to this point, but I can see myself stopping short of where I need to be without some advice.  Hopefully my new day job will provide me the means to get a decent health plan so I can actually see a nutritionist or bariatric specialist.  For now I need to keep moving in the right direction, and take more steps forward than back.  I have lost some of the urgency from the start of my journey.  I am okay with that, though I imagine the effect on the entertainment level of this blog might be detrimental.  What I have to do is channel the energy I had previously devoted to weight loss totally to other areas.  Now is the time for me to really focus on my career.  After this post is done I am buckling down to write cover letters for submissions to agents.  I start a new day job next week.  I open a show in 10 days.  I have plenty to do, but in the new world of "good enough" is not good enough, I can always do more.  Now off to do it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Weigh in #41

Another week down.  Rehearsals for Miracle move apace and I am having a good time, though it is a completely different kind of environment than Spelling Bee.  Both were professional, but this one is more businesslike.  Because of how quickly we open (13 days from today) I have not had much time to get out and walk or exercise, but my diet has been pretty good.  Here are this week's numbers:

Current Weight: 291 lbs
Starting Weight: 440.2 lbs
Weight Loss This Week: 3.8 lbs
Weight Loss Total: 149.2 lbs

40 weeks worth of work and I have lost almost 150 pounds.  I like he pace, even though things have slowed down a bit.  Last weigh in, I realized after the fact, was exactly 9 months worth of weight loss.  Since this week gives me such round numbers to work with I will go with this week for my averages.

Weeks: 40
Weight Loss: 149.2 lbs
Avg. Per Week: 3.73 lbs
Weeks to goal at current pace: 19.03

That puts me at 220 (if that is indeed where I end up) by mid-March 2011.  I am shooting for my sustainable weight by the time I can go out in a tee shirt, which in Chicago is April or May, so I can afford the occasional slowdown.  Where exactly I end up becomes less and less important to me the more I get used to the size I am at now.  One of the security guys at my building and one of our regular homeless guys outside of work both commented on my weight loss this week, which is quite gratifying.  To have people who are barely more than strangers notice and congratulate me pushes me to further success.

I was thinking today about what goal to set for myself next.  I don't know that one makes sense at the moment.  With the holidays fast approaching I think a commitment to make good choices in the whirlwind of possible negatives is as good a goal as any.