Sunday, June 30, 2013

Party Prep

Multitasking and planning ahead.  Two things that are weaknesses for me, and two things I am trying to do today.  One of my friends has a birthday today, and we are grilling on the beach.  Normally I might use this as an excuse to cheat a little bit, but this week I want to buckle down as much as I can.  Since I have the time I decided to prep some good choices to bring with me.  As we speak I am putting together my turkey meatloaf burgers to take along with me.

For those newer to the blog this is a recipe I came up with a couple years ago.  I take about a pound or so of veggies and run them in the food processor to a coarse paste.  Today I used a couple bell peppers, a few mushrooms, a whole onion, and some zucchini.  I cook the paste down to concentrate and dry it out and then I mix that with the ground turkey.  When all is said and done I end up with meatloaf or turkey burger that is about 1/3 veggies before I even top it.  This stretches the meat too so I can fill up on an appropriate serving more easily.  Today I will be using lettuce instead of buns, so I should be able to fill up smartly.  The week has felt mediocre so far, so I hope I can use this as a springboard to a strong finish.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Weigh In 4:15

A solid week.  I weighed in this morning at 386.4, which puts me down another 1.2 pounds.  Still not the kind of numbers I would like, but solid.  I had 2 days where I churned through pretty much all of my regular points and weekly bonus points, and the other 5 I ended up about 3-5 points below my daily target.  A big improvement this week was with exercise.  I got out for a 40 minute walk on Thursday, a 45 Minute walk on Sunday, and a 22 minute elliptical session last night.  That added up to 26 activity points, or a large meal's worth.  I did not include a session of weigh lifting I did, as I still have not quite figured out how to track that at the pace I go.  I usually take about 20- 30 minutes and curl and crunch and lift while watching tv.  I will take a break between reps, and if I get caught up in what I am watching maybe a longer break.  I would rather track conservatively, so I left it out, but that was probably at least another point or two.

I am hoping that though this week's weight loss was modest I have set the table for bigger weeks to come.  I cooked for myself  lot more consistently this week, with only a handful of meals that I did not prepare for myself when I had the chance.  That is a trend I definitely need to keep moving with into this week.  Some of my meals were a bit more rich than is probably advisable for a quick weigh loss plan.  I made a big pot of stew that, though balanced and veggie filled, had beef which I know stalls my weight loss.  That is ok this week.  Getting into the habit of cooking again consistently is more important in the short term.  Some of my meals were excellent, and this week I plan to make better strides in that direction.

So, the plan for the coming week:
-Keep cooking!  The more I make for myself the better.
-No booze.  With a party and a baseball game and the Stanley Cup Finals this past week I definitely drank more than is advisable for weight loss.  This week I will abstain and see what happens.
-Better water intake.  I think this week I was a bit lax in my hydration.  Water keeps things moving and keeps me healthy.
-At least as many points worth of exercise as this week.  The goal is 30
-Keep at least 20 of my weekly discretionary points.

I want a big week and I think this should put me on the right path.

Friday, June 21, 2013

If Some Is Good...

Then more is better.  Or so goes the tale.  I am trying to get back to the kind of results and enthusiasm I had 3 years ago.  Part of that is getting back into the habits that served me so well.  One of them was blogging regularly.  I have been doing my minimum one post a week for a while, but I think a few days of extra attention to myself and to organizing my thoughts should be helpful.  Another positive habit I had previously was cooking for myself with consistency.  I have been a bit lazy about that, so this week I am making the choice to buckle down.

Yesterday I made a trip to Costco and picked up some heavy duty supplies.  Peppers, Broccolini (my new fave veg), potatoes, asparagus, stew meat, wild caught salmon, sweet corn,and a few other goodies.  I have gone now a full day without eating anything pre made, and let me tell you it is a HUGE difference.  It is always nice to know what is going in your body, but the points savings I have been able to make are just as fantastic.  Last night I had 6.5 ounces of salmon, a handful of broccolini, and two ears of corn with a little bit of seasoned butter that I whipped together.  I cooked everything on my cast iron grill pan to get a little bit of summer going.  Altogether it was only 15 points, 13 if you 86ed the butter, but at that low of a total why would you?  It was super filling and super flavorful, and having bought in bulk super cheap.  Even with wild caught salmon if that meal was more than $6.50 I would be shocked.  When cooking for 1 price is a real concern, so finding a good repeatable meal from bulk food is awesome.

Last night I also threw some ingredients in the crock pot and I have been feasting on beef stew all day.  I used a generous amount of Guinness in the sauce, and potatoes aren't the best health food, but it is a good balance of veggies, meat, and carbs and is very filling.  Again a large bowl is in the 15-20 point range.  If those are the kind of meals I can stick with then I am going to have very positive results.

Last night I got out for a 2 mile walk, and that is another habit I need to get back into.  I need to be gatting out for at least 45 minutes of aerobic activity 3 times a week, and 3 sessions with at least a little bit of isometric exercise weekly would be good too.  Aerobic exercise is going to strengthen my heart and increase my stamina.  Isometric exercise is going to build muscle mass therefore increasing my resting metabolic rate and helping me burn more calories with less effort.  You can't really lose large amounts of weight solely through exercise, but paired with diet it should help me get much more impressive results, and more importantly feel and be more healthy.

I often forget, but this blog is also about my life as an actor.  It has been a really slow 6 months, and I think I need a bit of a kick in the pants.  The only person who can do that effectively is me, so I am taking steps to be more active.  I am shopping around to get my voiceover demo reel done, I just picked up a new box of headshots (same pic, but it was a feeling of accomplishment to get through an order).  Today I received the next weapon in my marketing arsenal: business cards.  The website I used is a little pricey, but the results are hard to argue with.  Two sided, full color, well designed cards for less than $0.50 a piece is a small price to pay, and if they are a hit I will order in bulk next time.  I also included a QR contact code, which seems to be the new wave in actor marketing.  I can have my info uploaded directly to their phone, direct them to a URL with my resume, website, or reel.  It should be a powerful tool.

The weekend has begun and it is going to be a busy one, so I am making the decision to be mindful now.  I'd love this to be a 5lb week, and that requires 7 straight good days and a little luck.  I can control the first part, and here's hoping for the second.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


This is more exciting than it probably has any right to be. Last week I went to dinner at an amazing farm to table Lowcountry style restaurant not far from my apartment. One of the appetizer plates they had was a selection of homemade pickles. In addition to a bread-and-butter pickles they had fennel fronds, okra, and onions and all kinds of different vegetables on the plate. Pickles have always been one of my favorite better for you snacks, and I figured: if this restaurant can do it why can't I? So this week I set out to make my own bread-and-butter pickles at home.

Part of the inspiration was seeing canning sets at Target last week, so I picked one up on a quick trip over there and set about to making my pickles. I found pickling cucumbers at the grocery store, and most of the other ingredients I already had on hand. Since I was making a refrigerator pickle it was pretty easy. I didn't have to waterseal the jars or do any of the other really difficult and time-consuming stuff that goes along with true preservation. Also, since I was making a bread and butter pickle there is far less sodium since sugar is used in the brine far more than salt. I did salt the cucumbers and onions before covering them in the pickle juice, but this was just draw excess moisture and I quickly rinsed off the salty leavings. This means these particular snacks, though a little higher in calories than the traditional pickle, are far better for me in terms of my blood pressure. 

Here is a photo journal of the process:

This is the canning apparatus after a 10 minute sterilization in my oven.

Here is my brine containing apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, mustard seeds, sugar, celery seeds, turmeric, garlic, red pepper flakes, cloves, and a little water so that it didn't get too concentrated as I boiled it.

Here are the salted cucumbers and Vedalia onion. Also my foot is in the picture.

There are the veggies in the jar, and then after I poured the pickle over them. I let them cool and then threw them in the refrigerator to set.

According to the recipe these are best after about a week, but I did open a jar last night to give one a quick try and they already taste fantastic. I can't wait to see how they develop and have 6 pints worth for snacks over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Weigh In 4:14

Mediocre week.  I wanted to get some exercise and really didn't.  I had some back issues last week, but those are mostly cleared up now, so I probably could have gotten at least one good walk and some weight lifting in, but I decided to do other things. Not that that is the end of the world, but I feel that if I want to get the kind of results I expect (larger numbers) I need to commit more fully to doing all the right things.  That also includes cooking and avoiding alcohol.  This week I drank with some regularity, which is fine.  A beer or two every once in a while keeps me happy and sane.  But 4 times this week is more than I should indulge in a week if I want to keep losing weight.  That is on me to be able to be in party/theater situations, particularly where there is free beer (That is not even FAIR!), and not indulge every time. I don't need to, but I want to, and putting myself and my goals first in that situation is paramount.  I also need to allow myself to leave those situations.

This week I did a moderately better job of cooking and not eating out, but again I didn't do as well as I could have.  The next big step is always having an option that is quick and easy at home so I can remove excuses for eating out.  After that I need to start bringing meals with me when I am out and about.  Particularly with my heart issues I need to take more control of and responsibility for what I put in my body.  I am starting to have things to do and people to see, so I need to plan ahead so I can do those things.  Procrastination and self sabotage are not an option.  I deserve better.

This morning I weighed in at 387.6.  That is a very modest loss of 0.8 pounds.  I stick by the rule that any week where I lose weight is a good week, but I know I can and could have done better, so while I am pleased to continue moving in the right direction I am far from satisfied.

Expect a food post later this week!  Snacks are always difficult for me, so I am making my own.  I am canning a big batch of bread and butter pickles today, and making a pickle that has very little salt is going to be a great snack and flavor enhancing condiment for me.  Pics to come!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Weigh in 4:13

Lucky number 13!  Great results this week, and that on top of what I would consider not really being as present and active in my choice making this week.  I had some parties, I had some dates, and I didn't get too worked up about what I ate/drank.  This week goes to show what attitude and momentum do for me.  I felt good and had a good time this week, and I have several weeks of positive momentum behind me to keep me moving in the right direction.  That doesn't mean I can go nuts and stop tracking or anything, but I am getting to the point where I have built strong habits that can carry me through in less than ideal situations.  The hardest thing about committing to weight loss is constantly feeling like I have to think about it actively.  It burns you out.  This week was great because I wasn't constantly thinking about it, but I still made good progress.

This morning I weighed in at 388.4, which hit several goals for me. I lost over 2 pounds this week, which is where I want to be on a week by week basis.  2 pounds a week is a little over 100 pounds in a year, which gets me where I want to go in a reasonable amount of time.  If that can be my floor, at least until I get to around 350 or so, then I will be pretty happy. Weight Watchers also informed me that I hit 5% weight loss this week, which was my first goal! 5% is a considerable amount and something I am pretty proud of.  The next goal is 10%, which is right about 369.  I'd like to be there before the end of July, if not sooner.  I also got under 390 this week, which was my goal for the week, so it was nice to be able to set an immediate goal and hit it when I said I would.

This week I would like to land somewhere between 386 and 385.  I did OK this week cooking, but I think committing to making more of what I eat is going to be the next big step I can take to get more consistent, and larger, weight loss numbers.  Because of a couple of injuries recently (I rolled my ankle, AGAIN, which messed up my back, AGAIN) my commitment to physical activity has been lackluster to say the least, so I want to get healthy and get out in the nice weather we are having in Chicago.  Anything to add a little boost to my metabolism and to help me feel good about myself is going to be important right now, so that is another positive step I can take. So until next week I will make like Fozzie Bear and keep Movin' Right Along.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Weigh in 4:12

     Okay!  I took a few weeks "off" due to a big road trip to Texas.  I left pretty early on a Wednesday, which is of course weigh in day.  I did get to weigh myself but did not get to write a post.  I weighed in at 392 exactly that morning, which was a very small loss.  As I get more used to the side effects of my new medications I am coming to realize that this is the new normal.  There will always be more that I can do to get better results, but the fact that I am still losing weight on a drug that causes weight gain is a success that I will own.

     So, the trip was not my greatest moment as a healthy eater.  For most of the trip there wasn't a lot I could do.  I went home to do a benefit performance for my high school theater teacher and the department.  Well, three straight days with ridiculous, and I mean insane, rehearsal responsibilities meant: 1. moms were buying pizza and kolaches for everyone to eat, for which I was grateful to have something to eat, but not for my diet, and 2. called for quite a bit of drinking.  At that point it was just medicine and I do not feel bad about it at all.  By the time I got back to Chicago I had stabilized things a bit, but on Friday morning a quick check on the scale had me up around 395, which was not what I was hoping for.

    This morning when I got on the scale things had changed a bit, and for the good.  I weighed in at 390.6 this morning, which is only 1.4 pounds down from my last "official" weigh in 2 weeks ago, but about 4-5 pounds down from this Friday when I did my status check, which is the light I am going to choose to see it in.

     A big positive this week, and something I intend to take forward with me, is my goal management.  One of my biggest bugaboos is getting overwhelmed by everything there is to be done.  Whether it is cleaning my apartment, doing all it takes to be successful and make a career as an actor, or any of the other thousands of things we all want to do with our lives I see the distance to the finish line and how little I have done and I get discouraged.  It seems impossible and I quit.  I am not proud of it, but there it is.  This week I managed to completely clean my apartment for probably the first time since I have been living here.  I made a huge list of every little task I had to do.  There was a lot, but it was manageable.  I was able to get going on a task and if that got boring or overwhelming I had a list of other things I could switch off too.  As things got done I could cross them off the list, and as I crossed more and more tasks off the list the list got smaller.  I was able to build momentum rather than feel was pushing a rock up a hill that would roll down on me at any second. I have talked about my personal inertial in the past and this time I was able to put that tendency to my advantage.  I had a great week.  I really feel I am moving in the right direction in many aspects of my life and I know that attitude is going to lead to better results here.  Under 390 next week.  I am looking forward to it.