Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Whoa.

I made it over the 54 hour mark for being smoke-free. This is about the point where I start to get agitated, ridiculously. The third day. The day from hell. The day that really counts the most.

I'm trying not to let it get the best of me, but this round of Chantix is feeding me some of the crazy side effects. Last night (and the night before) I was having these crazy livid dreams. I woke up feeling like they were still happening and it took a good 3 minutes until I realized that no, I was in fact alone in my room.

WEIRD.

Also, in other non-awesome news, I look pregnant today. All that talk about maintaining my weight is out the door. I was holding strong at 152lbs for many many weeks and I weighed myself yesterday (as I've been doing pretty much every 2 days to stay on track) and I'm up to 156. Yikes.

Back to salads for lunch, I guess.

Today I'm going to Bikram Yoga with my friend "other Nicole" and we'll sweat out the stress. I'm hoping this will be the perfect time for a little detoxing from the smoking, and it will feel great to get some sweat working again. I've managed to have 3 good workouts so far this week, and this will be a nice active rest day.

How are your workouts going?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh, hello.

Wow.

Life is distracting.

I've been trying to make goals here and there and find ways to let this new chapter of my life play into the goals I've had for years. One super easy motivator of dating as an adult is the very real idea that you'll be naked with someone you really don't know that well. That will get a girl to the gym.

I quit smoking again yesterday, so we'll see how that goes.

I've also committed to #30daysofbiking in April. If you're a twitter user, do a twitter search for #30daysofbiking or go to http://30daysofbiking.com/bike/ for more info. It's me and a couple of friends, which ended up turning into more than 100 people from all over. The premise is simply to ride your bike every day of April, regardless. Could be around the block, could be across the state, and then you tweet about it with the hashtag #30daysofbiking. I'm a contributor to the blog, so I'll be updating here and there with my adventures in addition to the tweeting.

Another motivator: one of the events planned (well, that I planned) for the 30daysofbikings is a SHORTSHORTSRIDE. Tiny tiny shorts. Why? Because it's hilarious.

Additionally, I've gathered a handful of ladies to run the Women Run The Cities 10 miler with me this year. Remember last year, that was the race I chose for my first 5k? We will be Team Jeff, in honor of Kassie's dog.

I've been having some ridiculous binges yet somehow have maintained my weight, probably because I'm back on my bike and riding more often. I've also been trying to get in walks with girlfriends as chat-time because I am broke and the sun has finally returned to MN.

I wish I felt like I had time to catch up on everyone's blogs. I am going to make a point to at least pick them up where they are.

If you feel like summarizing for me, please do!

Can you help me brainstorm some goals that might help me get back and stay back on track?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hall and Oates Make a Comeback - in my Living Room

Oh ladies.

(and like... two gentlemen)

I am smitten with the single lifestyle. I'm also WORRIED about the single lifestyle. At the rate I'm going, I'm moving more, but definitely not eating less. How in the world do people date and stay fit? I've been out to eat like 800 times in the last 4 days and I have been to the gym once.

Granted I'm back in the saddle with my bike and I've traveled many miles, but it is in NO way canceling out the damage I'm doing at the table.

I refuse to be that girl who orders a salad on a date.

What do I do!?!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whoops... sort of.

I skipped my Weight Watchers meeting (again) yesterday in favor of walking around Lake of the Isles with a girlfriend and making dinner at her apartment. I feel it was a better choice. I'm starting to question whether switching to meetings was a good plan for me.

I know I am definitely not OP right now. I'm not tracking, but I'm eating well for the most part. I have been feeding a peanut butter craving for a week now, but in reasonable amounts and simple building meals around it. Peanut butter is a life source.

This is a predicament however, because you must be a meetings attendee to become a leader once you have reached goal weight. This frustrates me, but I totally understand that you must first know the culture and the working ways of meetings to become and effective leader.

My new plan is to switch back to online only for a month or two. Now that I have successfully shed most things that were causing the most stress, I think losing (when I actually commit) will be much more simple.

I have also decided to quit my gym, The Firm. I joined The Firm in October, firmly needing a swift kick in the ass. It gave me the motivation I needed to be excited about cardio again. It served its purpose and I no longer need it. I am interested in switching BACK to the YWCA for the benefits that I didn't feel were necessary prior to the switch, but that I now crave. These include a gigantic indoor track and a lap pool.

I got back on my bike and I haven't looked back. In fact, lately, I have been saying that every day has been "the best day ever." It's going to start to sound cliche, but honestly, each day keeps getting better than the one that came before it. I am falling back in to myself which is ultimately the most exciting thing ever.

You all know that Jessica is my best friend ever in the world, (BFEITW) and while we were out the other night we had a short but super meaningful [to me] conversation about my epic return to nicoleness. I realize now how captive I had been kept and kept myself, I completely lost me, but I'm coming back.

Speaking of being out, and being awesome, here is what we did the other night.

#bikegangride with bunches of friends. That's me in the front.


Video of said awesomeness. (That's my butt with the yellow belt)

But here is an example of "being back." Standing outside of Busters on 28th, a super delicious bar near a super delicious bike shop, I got the sudden urge to do a cartwheel. The sidewalk was wide open and had obviously been swept recently. I walked up to my new friend Zach and said "So, how do you feel about cartwheels?" From there, we did many many cartwheels, in front of a bar with a very large picture window. It was the most fun I've had in many years and I was delighted to see someone caught it on video.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hesitation.

I hesitate to post anything. Not that everything in my life is a big secret right now, and not that I don't overshare every single second of every single day.

I've been living a lot, offline, which seems to be the norm for me the last year or two. I spend all day tethered to a computer for work. I chat, I tweet, I look at people's kid's pictures on Facebook and I read articles in between. I have to put in the plug for twitter being my new friend matching service, however. I have officially met some of the most amazing people I know through channels I've discovered via twitter. The important lesson was to make sure we met IRL (in real life).

It's too easy to do and say things online that don't end up playing out in your life. I worry about that with this blog sometimes. I worry about goal setting that I don't actually care about. I worry that talking to you guys about how my motivation is waning again will kill yours. I worry that we soak up so much strength, positivity (and negativity) from each other that it's so weird that we aren't the kind of girlfriends chatting over mimosas on a Sunday morning.

I'm happy to be here for you. I'm happy that you feel like you "know" me and I feel like I get a glimpse in to your day, your plan, your life. I love that relationship. I count on it more than I'd care to admit.

Sunday I went to Duluth. My plans were nothing more than to watch my brother play music to the brunch crowd, perform a couple songs with him, and go for an exorcism walk.

Yes, exorcise.

Does that look weird? It's because I had some "demons" for lack of a better word, following me around. I hiked the Sucker River, the scene of the crime where I first fell in love. I went there to forgive. Y'all have not been privy to important information about the beginning/middle/end/contents of my previous relationship - and you shall stay in the dark - but it was hard. I kept my head up and tried everything I could to keep it going when I shouldn't have, but eventually grew courage, left, and now I'm here - happier for it. I had to exorcise the resentment, the belief that I gave so much and got so little. Those are not true. I am a better person from that relationship, but I needed this walk to remind me that.

Sucker River Sun

Yesterday I wore "skinny jeans." I had to laugh at the irony of the statement because while I'm "in shape," I will never have "skinny" legs. They're quite muscular and curvaceous at the same time. I looked like an ice cream cone. I felt weird for as long as I concentrated on it and eventually it just went away. The second I stopped obsessing over my triangle-ness, the second someone complimented them.

I've realized that the more I agonize over the little things - that mini snickers I ate at my board meeting, the fact that I skipped the gym all weekend - the more likely I am to continue a downward spiral. It's a shame cycle. "You already sucked, why not suck more?"

Well, there's a saying in my Weight Watchers meeting: "You can suck at it, but you can't quit." I've just decided to alter what I think of "sucking at it." This is mostly in regards to my life right now, not so much the weight loss aspect, but I think they come hand in hand.

My main focus currently is earning back the friendships I lost while I was busy being a "good girlfriend." It was hard for me to keep up with all my responsibilities in my past relationship and also maintain healthy friendships. I ditched out on a lot of plans. I wasn't there when I should have been. I didn't call. I'm also extremely interested in meeting new people, so I can kill two birds with one stone on that one and just title the "goal" Relationships.

Relationships get hungry. I'm a good cook. I would like to buy into a CSA this year and attempt to cook only from these boxes with supplemental protein. Not only would this force me to be more creative in the kitchen, I would save money and almost certainly always have too much, allowing said Relationships to join me for dinner in my backyard.

Speaking of backyards, the city is my playground. I'm so horribly embarrassed that I have been on exactly 2 bike rides so far this year. Not this season, just the year in general. I love biking. I am a huge bicycle advocate. With amazing opportunities on the horizon, I hope to drastically drop my car dependence that I adopted over the winter. I will re-become a bike commuter this year or at the very least only be allowed to drive when it's absolutely required.

I feel when life is going your way, the weight loss aspect becomes easier. I need to switch the focus off again for a little while. I started running in the mornings. This helps me make wiser decisions all day.

I may cancel my gym membership in favor of running/biking/tennis/walking/pushups/pullups/real activity with real people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Out of the Loop

I've fallen off the map for a couple days. I've been distracted by something (or someone(s)) and for some reason hadn't even touched Blogger in a matter of days.

I'm all caught up on your blogs now and while I wish I had some sort of exciting news, weight loss tips or a full report on an amazing thing I did this week - everything I've been up to has been somewhat super secret and I fear my tendency to overshare would lead to poor repercussions on my part.

Know that I'm well, excited, and big things could potentially be coming (for me, not necessarily for you, but you can celebrate with me!)

I'm headed up to Duluth today to see my brother. He plays (music) during brunch at a restaurant where we both used to work and I'll be singing a couple songs will him, visiting with some of our friends and then heading to Gooseberry Falls for a nice long foggy walk with my ipod and Mother Nature.

I love Duluth in March. Things have thawed just enough for it to look like a city straight out of the old black and white industrial photographs. It's just gorgeous.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frittata For All!

As I explained in yesterday's post, frittatas are awesome. They're the BEST vehicle for utilizing your vegetables that will soon turn or little bits of hard cheese you just don't know what to do with. Leftover meats. Whatever you've got, a frittata will probably make it taste good because all it is really is a crustless quiche. It takes a little finesse to become a frittata expert, but with a practice you'll be great.

And so I give you the basic recipe which you can try to low-cal-it-up by using Egg Beaters, but it will be gross and will not set, trust me. This is PURE protein, just eat it. It's best served with a good mixed green salad.


Basic Frittata

You'll need:
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil or marjoram
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmessan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
You'll do:

First, preheat your broiler and have a rack ready in the upper quarter of your oven.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add the fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese. Melt the butter in a heavy oven proof medium sized non-stick frying pan on medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the egg mix. Turn down the heat to low-medium and let the eggs cook gently for 10-15 minutes or so. (Seriously. Be patient.) Check to make sure the underneath is set and notice that the very top of your frittata is slightly runny.

(To check while it's in the pan, you'll continue to run a heat proof rubber spatula around the edges of the pan. You can gently lift it at that point when it begins to set)

Pop the pan under the broiler for a minute or so to set and lightly brown the top. YOU MUST WATCH THE ENTIRE TIME or you'll probably burn it.

Take it out when it's done.

Slide a spatula under the frittata to free it from the pan, slide onto a warm plate and serve in wedges.

ENJOY!

Monday, March 8, 2010

From Farm to Fork.

This weekend went by a lot quicker than I wanted it to. I managed to get myself in to a good amount of trouble in that brief couple of days, but that's a story for another time, or perhaps, another blog.

I followed through with my pledge for the TUTU Challenge on Saturday. 2 miles on the treadmill at 6.3 mph (about 9.75 min mile), 1.25 hours of Step class and 1 hour of Circuit Training.

I didn't barf, though I may have entertained the idea as an excuse to leave the room, which gets extra sweaty when you stay an extra hour. Amazingly enough, come Sunday morning, I wasn't the least bit sore. I managed to burn 1,139 calories! Amazing.

Later on Saturday I took off for my cooking class: The Solo Cook. Here's that adventure:

Mississippi Market Coop's new(er) West 7th Street store in St. Paul

All cooperatives in our area typically remind you that you're MEANT to be there. #gocoop!


This is Kristin of Farm to Fork setting up her station



If you don't have a Microplane, you should probably get one.

Our first dish: a lentil, chard, sausage and bacon stew served over crostini. This can be eaten just as a stew, over toast, or made in to a salad of sorts. So many ways!

We spent a fair amount of time talking about what "the solo cook" needs to have in their kitchen. I tend to have an extremely OVER stocked kitchen, so I was excited to know that I'm in a good place as far as equipment goes.

I do NOT, however, have a cleaver, and now I really want one.

Chocolate bread pudding

I kind of liked it. Can you tell? Yes, those are finger swipes.

The frittata, the highlight of the class. A simple yet complicated dish to master. It can be the perfect vessel for any veggies you have in your fridge that are becoming questionable.


All done, now to slide it out.

My friend Stephanie and I really enjoyed the taste testing aspect of the class.

Frittata

Oh.

Yum.



All in all, the class was fun and informative as far as giving me some ideas with how to better utilize whole foods (less processed) more often in my cooking and taking the emphasis on making solid "meals" in the realm that we always imagine them. It doesn't always have to be a big production. For instance, this afternoon I was feeling lazy and didn't want to "make" lunch. I didn't have any frozen meals to fall back on but didn't feel like "making" anything. I remembered back to the beginning of all of this, how I "assembled" things. I grabbed a chicken breast, spread jalapeno hummus on it, dumped some black beans on top of that and served myself up a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. It was pretty much the most delicious thing I've had in a long time and it took no effort. I need to remember things like this when I'm digging around in the freezer. I will be FAR more satisfied if I take the extra 3 minutes to put something together.

However, I was hoping for a little more advice on how to cut down on food costs or some good recipes that serve two. No go. All 3 of the recipes we took home served 4-6, and most of the class was focused on having a well stocked kitchen for a "live alone." I think this would have been a really great class for the recently divorced man. As a seasoned cook with a well stocked kitchen and pantry, I got little use. However, Kristin was really kind to answer a lot of my questions about freezing best practices, so I can continue to make the recipes I loved to cook for the family and freeze myself individual portions.

The best part? Hanging out with my friend Steph whom I hadn't seen in forever, spending some time out and about doing something productive and having a portion controlled lunch!

What was the highlight of your weekend?


Friday, March 5, 2010

The Challenge (and why this weekend will rule)

Tomorrow morning I am embarking on a challenge. A serious challenge.

So, I've talked to you about my Step instructor, Doug, the one in the speedo, the one who makes me gargle my lungs every Saturday morning at 8:30am and drags me through the moves until 9:45am.

And I've told you about Brad, my super fun but equally crazy Circuit Training teacher who fools me in to thinking I'm just dancing around even though I'm basically doing jumping jacks for an entire hour.

And right now I'm telling you that I am going to take these 2 classes BACK TO BACK.

Tomorrow morning, I will set foot in the gym at 8:05am, jog 2 miles on the treadmill, suffer through an hour and fifteen minutes of ridiculous Step class and then subject myself to an additional hour of Circuit Training.

If I had to estimate, I'm going to say this will be worth WELL over 1,000 calories burned, which is good because later in the day I am going to the Mississippi Market Coop for a cooking class called "The Solo Cook" to learn how to adapt my family cooking skills to my new single self.

After that, who knows? I might just have a date.

Oh there will be pictures, my friends. Pictures of my red/sweaty/exhausted face after the workout of a lifetime, pictures of my cooking class, and pictures of everything in between.

and THAT is why this weekend will rule.

What are your big plans?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another Taste Test from the Goody Bag.

All of the ladies from the PriorFatGirl meet up have been working their way through their goodybags this week. I tried those delicious cookie bites, and today I thought I'd give the Funky Monkey freeze dried fruit a chance.


The flavor I took home was "Pink Pineapple" (pineapple and guava)
The package states it's 100% real fruit, fat free, with no sugar added.


It looked weird, like old pizza crust, but here goes...


hmmm...


Do not like.


What do I do?


Yuck.


Sorry Funky Monkey. Not a fan. I'd rather have an actual pineapple.

In their defense, my friend took home a bag of Cinnamon Banana flavored Funky Monkey and said they were good. That's a flavor I probably would have enjoyed in crunch form. This was way too sweet and just way too.. gross. They were so repulsive to me that I felt it necessary to put up such unflattering photos. JUST. NOT. IN. TO. IT. Eat real fruit, benefit from the water content.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reader Question on Cooking.

Well I'm feeling very unoriginal after the fridge post! Apparently everyone likes to take pictures of their own and look in another person's fridge. This still confuses me, you're all fridge perverts.

However, my friend Lycia, who is not new to dieting but is new to the lifestyle change posed a great question: "Did you start out cooking your own meals? Right now I'm completely overwhelmed ..."

And the answer is, yes (and no).

When I first started getting serious about Weight Watchers, I wouldn't say I "cooked" so much as "assembled." I kept my menu VERY simple. Oatmeal for breakfast, turkey sandwiches and fruit for lunch, baby carrots and cappuccino for snacks, and I, too, survived on Lean Cuisines and Smart Ones for dinner at first. I didn't want to force the boys to have to eat the way I was eating, as if "healthy" eating would be a chore for them. And I honestly didn't think I could eat "real food" and lose weight.

It wasn't until I started exploring Weight Watchers fabulous website and their giant database of recipes that I started cooking. When I realized we could be eating most of the things we had always eaten only "lightened up," they were on board (not necessarily by choice, I just started cooking). I started investing in cookbooks, utensils, new pans, and any other gadget I could get my hands on that would make me excited to spend time in the kitchen doing something other than leveling off a pint of Ben and Jerry's while avoiding the giant pile of dirty dishes.



I have built up an amazing collection of cookbooks that keep the meals simple to prepare with limited ingredients as those are the two main points of importance to me when I'm making a meal. a) Do I have (or do I want to spend) time to make this meal? b) Can I afford everything it requires and still utilize what's left over?

That is why my favorite book to date is a Weight Watchers cookbook called Now and Later. The premise of the meals is that you will follow one recipe for dinner "now", and a portion of that recipe will be used "later" to create a separate meal. It's a fantastic time saver, and it also adds variety without forcing you to buy too many "non-staple" ingredients to spoil away in the fridge.

I'd love to hear about YOUR favorite cookbook. Particularly one with simple healthy recipes to get Lycia started (and, perhaps, to add to my collection as well).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fridge Raid!

Since I've moved in to my new place I've had a number of girlfriends over, many of whom are trying to lose weight. For some odd reason, even though I haven't lost anything of significance in a long time, these ladies look to me as a role model in the weight loss world.

I'm not discrediting what I've done in the past. I've certainly been successful. I've lost more than 50 pounds and kept it off for 2 years. I want to lose the last of it, but slow and steady wins the race and I'm not rollercoastering up and down as I have in the past. This is a HUGE accomplishment and should serve as a reminder to those of you who are "stuck" that you've already come so far. Don't give up on yourself.

So, when these girlfriends came over, they took pictures inside of my fridge.

No. I'm not kidding.

I found it odd and off-putting at the time, but I realized... hey.. that's pretty clever. If what I eat or keep in my fridge inspires you in some way, awesome.

Here's a little tour of my fridge.


The fridge.


Pictures of me and my favorite lady, also family and love notes serve as a reminder for WHY I am on this weight loss journey. I have a life and I want to live it in the most healthful and exciting way that I can.


One of my favorite "pick me up and keep me going" quotes.


Inside!


Top Shelf: Raw chicken breast in tupperware for tonight's dinner. On top of that, leftover polenta (also for tonight). Half a banana from this morning's breakfast, Fage 0% Greek yogurt (two of them) and a multitude of fat free single serve greek yogurts. Organic fat free cottage cheese. Left over black bean and corn salsa with 1/2 an apple in a tupperware on top of it.


Middle Shelf: Herb and Mixed Greens in the big tub, bagged spinach on top of that. Spaghetti sauce in the back, turkey tenderloin leftovers from the "roasting incident" Saturday, tupperware of thawed shrimp, behind that are the rude "roasted" veggies waiting to be made into soup, two little tubs of hummus (one roasted red pepper and one cilantro + jalapeno), carton of rice pudding, 2 cartons of eggs.


Bottom Shelf: wine for my wino habit, chilled water, asparagus, tapioca loaf gluten-free bread, corn tortillas, my work lunchbox which is empty but just chilling in the back, some cilantro, a tube of prepared polenta, Diet Hansen's ginger-ale and a few Diet A&W root beer.


Veg Drawer: red pepper, green pepper, tomato, carrots


Fruit Drawer: 2 grapefruit, mango, 2 apples, honey tangerine, pomegranate seeds



Deli Drawer: two tomatoes, soy cheese, lox, prepped green and red pepper slices, 1/2 a lime?, deli turkey, low fat string cheese


Door: smart balance butter, salsa, blueberry pomegranate applesauce, peach cups, condiments, Light Silk, Green Goodness juice by Bolthouse Farms, egg beaters, Jello Pudding cups, FF redi-whip, beer, more beer, bottled water from the move and a can of Sparks.

Are any of these items weird and worth photographing? They're pretty much staples in my house. What do you keep in your fridge?