Dec 19, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts are all the rave this year and I for one have made this my favorite veggie recipe for 2014. I am posting this recipe, because I want to make it more often.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed with outer leaves removed
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut off the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove the outer leaves. If the Brussels sprouts are large, cut them in half. Leave the smaller ones whole.
  3. Place sprouts in a medium bowl. 
  4. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 
  5. Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 15−20 minutes or until sprouts are just barely tender and maybe even still a little crunchy. 
  7. Turn the sprouts over once halfway through cooking.
  8. Remove from the oven, place in a serving bowl and enjoy this amazing side dish.
WARNING: these are not your mother's Brussels sprouts! They are incredibly delicious, so be sure to have plenty of meat to eat with these or make a smaller amount so you don't eat more veggies than meat.
 Recipe and photo source

Zucchini Pizza

Jill made an incredible Zucchini Pizza for our holiday gathering of a handful of key friends I've come to know over the years through this blog. This recipe is so incredible, your non-key friends will never even know they're eating zucchini instead of pizza dough.
Zucchini Pizza. Photo by Jill
 Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet sausage
  • 6 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini...
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2.5 oz freshly grated asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1.5 cups marinara or pizza sauce
  • 3 oz pepperoni finely chopped
  • 6 oz grated mozzarella cheese
  • Any additional pizza toppings
Directions
  1. Place the shredded zucchini in a strainer or on paper towels.
  2. Let stand for 20 minutes and squeeze as much moisture out of the zucchini as possible.
  3. Let stand another 15 minutes and squeeze out the moisture a second time.
  4. While you are waiting for the zucchini, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Combine the zucchini, eggs, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, granulated garlic, parsley and basil.
  6. Spread the zucchini mixture into a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  7. Bake zucchini uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the edges are brown and the top is starting to turn lightly golden brown in spots.
  8. While the zucchini bakes, brown the beef, sausage, and pepperoni in a small amount of olive oil.
  9. Spread the sauce over the baked zucchini mixture.
  10. Top sauce with the beef, sausage and pepperoni and any other toppings.
  11. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and Italian parsley.
  12. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and heated through.
Key-friendly foods at our holiday gathering

This is me, serving up some of that Zucchini Pizza

Bacon- Egg Muffins

During the holidays I like to make some of my favorite key-foods for my friends and family and this bacon and egg muffin recipe (this is a mock muffin - there is no bread in this recipe) is a dish that I can make anywhere and anytime because you can add whatever ingredients you have on hand. Of course it you don't have eggs, you're out of luck!
Bacon- Egg Muffins
Sometimes I make a quiche with a crust and then cut off the crust for my piece before I sit down to eat it. It's so much easier to say on program if I don't add a crust at all. Another option is to make both a quiche with crust and these muffins, which makes everyone happy.

Also see my similar recipe sausage egg muffins.

Ingredients
  • 6 - 9 eggs (6 eggs for a flatter "muffin" or for a taller 9 eggs)
  • 12 slices bacon (uncooked)
  • 1 cup cheese
  • 1 cup meat (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetables (onions, peppers, and corn are my standards)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Line each spot with a bacon around the edges.
  3. Whip eggs in a large bowl.
  4. Mix in cheese, veggies, and meats.
  5. Evenly pour the egg mix into each tin.
  6. Bake about 25 minutes or until bacon is cooked.
  7. Pop out and enjoy!

Recipe above is modified from is modified from this Bacon Egg Wrapped Cheddar Egg Bites recipe.

Pickles for the Holidays

When was the last time you ate a pickle? There are healthy reasons why we should eat pickles, although having pickle juice to prevent muscle cramps is a big enough reason alone. Did you know that when you're craving cheese and crackers a pickle will satisfy you just as much? Or that pickles can cure hangovers?
Photo source
Many of us learned from Julie that pickle juice is a natural remedy for muscle cramps. I don't know about you, but man oh man I've had some wicked bad muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are often caused by mineral deficiencies: night cramps indicate you probably need more magnesium and day cramps suggest more potassium.

I hadn't thought about this, but pickles are a good item for us to bring to holiday parties, along with some protein, because they provide a good crunch and a good chew. When you're tempted by the cheese and crackers at your next holiday party — reach for a pickle instead.

When I was putting together my menu for a party I had last weekend, a jar of pickles was on my shopping list, but somehow I didn't buy them. This weekend I'm sticking to my instincts and bringing pickles to the party I'm going to. I know there will be plenty of protein, because they're serving three pounds of my meatball recipe.
Myths About The Christmas Pickle
This morning my friend shared a link to a story about the myth behind The Christmas Pickle, and while these stories are funny, there is truth behind these myths: the alkalizing effect of the vinegar in pickles helps to restore balance. So it makes sense that when (in one of these stories) the evil innkeeper put the boys in a pickle barrel they were miraculously bought them back to life. 

After reading this article, I realized I'd moved away from eating pickles on a regular basis, mainly because of the '30-day toss foods in a jar from your refrigerator' rule (refrigerated foods begin to break down after 30 days). I disliked tossing pickles, so I stopped buying them. I love pickles and it's time to bring them back. (After posting this one of my key friends informed me to wash the lid of the jar in the dishwasher for three cycles on hot. She said Julie told her group to do with the tops of tomato sauce jars. Thanks Magie!)

As far as the concept that pickles cure hangover (see Keep a Jar of Pickles Handy), I've never tested this theory and I won't need to. Drinking too much vodka, the only alcohol option on program, can lead to making poor food choices. In my opinion, no amount of pickle juice is going to help you get back on program after drinking too much and eating foods not on program. No amount of pickle juice will resolve the guilt you'll feel the morning after. Plus, if you do this on New Year's Eve, what a horrible way to start the first day of the New Year.

Did you know that pickle juice can be re-purposed? After you eat all the pickles, add the remaining pickle juice to mixed veggies, green beans, etc.  I haven't done this, but it's worth exploring. And for those of us who have experienced leg cramps, anything we can do to prevent those cramps is a bonus!
English Christmas Pickle (source)

Dec 16, 2014

Reach Your Goal Size

During the holidays it's more important than ever to stay focused on reaching your goal size. It's time to pull out your "before" photos to remember how far you've come on your weight loss journey. Do you remember when you pushed away food cravings even though it was tough? It felt great right? Push away those holiday temptations and stay steady on your journey. You've got this!
Dec. 2009 vs Oct. 2014
Looking back to a photo of me in one of my favorite blouses in 2009, it's so hard to imagine that I did not realize just how obese I was. I am shocked at my size in the photo on the right from Oct. 201, but I'm shocked by how much weight I've lost. I struggle with keeping this in perspective some times, but I'm working on this. Looking back helps me keep my perspective.
Dec. 2011 vs Nov. 2014
In the photo above I'm wearing a red winter coat that I had bought the winter of 2011, ten months on the key program after losing a lot of weight. I felt terrific in this red coat. When I look at the 2014 photo of me in my new plum colored coat, I see a thinner me than I've ever seen before. Woohoo! Talk about a change in perspective: I never before felt thin wearing a winter coat! This is a step in the right direction.
12/13/13 celebrating my birthday with my brothers
Looking further back in time,  the photo above is from ten years ago. On 12/13/04, I celebrated my birthday feeling really good about myself, as I had lost a lot of weight that year. In the year ahead, I gained back all the weight I had lost and then some. It's easy to forget about all the diets we went on and failed at. Success feels so much better! We can take this weight off one time and be done with dieting!
12/13/14 celebrating my birthday with my brothers
This weekend, on 12/13/14, I once again celebrated my birthday with friends and family (something I like to do once every decade). Who would have thought that ten years later I would be happier and healthier than ever before? Not me! What a difference in my life today compared to ten years ago. I feel a hundred times better than a decade ago! I have energy that I never dreamed possible in 2004.

During the holidays temptations are high. Remind yourself that not eating x, y, or z, is just for now, it's not forever. Focus on the people in your life and not the foods being offered. Stay the course and allow yourself to reach your goal size and stay there!

However you celebrate the holidays this year, my wish is that you give yourself the best gift ever: to stay your course on your weight loss journey. Let now be the time for you to stick to your promises and become the healthiest you've ever been before, so that you too can look back at photos in years to come and feel really proud of your weight loss transformation.

May you find peace and joy this holiday season and may you ring in the New Year feeling proud!
Friends and family help set up his little tree
At my birthday party on Saturday, friends and family helped me set up this little Christmas tree with the mini Hallmark ornaments, a gift from my parents many years ago. This morning as I write this post, I pause to remember the wonderful gathering of friends and family over the weekend and ten years ago, and I  remember friends and family who are no longer with us, including my parents and my oldest brother David. 

Dec 4, 2014

Mental and Physical Freedom

Today's incredible weight loss story is from Martine, who no longer needs to take diabetes medication, has reduced the amount of BP meds she needs to take, is at her goal size and learning how to cycle in and out of the river (on maintenance), and is more engaged in life than ever before. Wow - talk about transformation! Martine you inspire us all. Thank you for sharing your story. 
Martine before and after weight loss
The Key to My Mental & Physical Freedom
by Martine Dorsey

I started my Journey with The Key Hypnosis on January 20, 2014. After ten and a half months, I am now ready to embark on the maintenance part of this amazing, physical, mental, emotional, and medical transformation!

I have been fighting obesity since I was twelve years old. I was a scrawny twelve year old until I broke my arm the second day of summer vacation. Because I couldn't play much with my friends, I ate my way through the summer and set up my "fat cells" for life. Even as a young teen, I tried every fad diet. I have lost and gain hundreds of pounds. This continued into my early forties. Then I pretty much gave up on dieting, because I would try and fail so often.

I was a CNA for thirty-five years, so I guess you can call me a professional caregiver, which is my nature at home and at the hospital. So, in my mind, there was no time to concentrate on me. That needed to change to save MY life!

I went to my doctor, which I do yearly, in November 2013 and she suggested Julie. I was getting desperate. The doctor was ready to increase my Metformin meds for my diabetes. She told me that she had many patients on The Key Hypnosis who had been successful. The following week I signed up.

From my first session with Julie, I was hooked! I was changed from that moment on. I was mentally ready and, with Julie's guidance and GIFT, I knew that I would see this through. I have to say, Julie made it easier than I ever imagined! I set my mind to the fact I was going to follow her instructions to the letter. 

I do have to tell you, I was going to make this worth every penny it cost me! I worked hard for my money! My health, myself esteem, and wanting to watch my grandson grow up had a lot to do with my "mindset." 

I was one of the extremely fortunate ones that lost quickly. I really don't know how that is possible, because the last fifteen years, that was definitely NOT the case.

One thing I remember Julie saying is that the longer you yoyo diet and eat badly, you actually put your metabolism in reverse. 

My husband would say. "You don't eat a lot and your always busy and moving between work and home....I don't understand why you can't seem to lose"...he was frustrated right along with myself.

When Julie said in my session "You don't have to exercise" I thought I had died and gone to heaven! But after four months and going down at least three sizes, I felt I needed to move. Even if it was just to get my blood flowing. I started out really slow due to issues of working 35 years as a CNA: lower back, rotator cuff, fusion in neck, and flat feet issues. All which I might add are all 85% better! 

Also, NO more diabetic medication and only on 1/4 of BP meds. High blood pressure runs in my family and is non-weight related.

So my exercise consists of 30 minutes elliptical daily(weekends off), planking for as long as I can hold it (which is 2 minute 40 seconds due to rotator cuff issues), and and a daily two-mile walk in good weather (in place of the elliptical). 

I am retired 64 year old. I feel better than I did over 15 yrs ago. I am ready to tackle maintenance the same way I did with the weight loss part. I think my success has a lot to do with "just doing it!" I made sure I always had something "key-friendly" available. And I made this a part of my life without "over analyzing" it. Like Julie said in my sessions..."Do exactly what I tell you...it is not Rocket Science!"

So I go about my life enjoying, so much more, non food related milestone, pleasures and a love for life that I didn't have before "Key." 

I am mindful of what I put in my body and how it will affect me in the long run. 

I will always "Eat when I'm hungry, not when I'm not!

Chicken Soup

Here's my favorite chicken soup recipe, just in time for these cold winter days. Vary the veggies to suit your taste. or if you have leftover veggies, save them and use them.
Chicken Soup. Photo by Theresa
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts*
  • 1 box (32 oz) chicken broth, use equivalent amount of fresh or canned broth)
  • 4 carrots (sliced)
  • fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn or peas (or some of both)
  • 1 small onion
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
*You may use any part of the chicken. Sometimes I cook a whole chicken or buy one from the store and add pieces of chicken to the soup once the all the vegetables are cooked.

Directions

This soup can be made quickly on the stove or slowly in a crockpot. It depends on my level of hunger, time available or what kind of chicken I have on hand as to which method I use.
  1. Cook the chicken and save the broth.
  2. Place a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a deep pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Add chicken broth to the pan while the onions and garlic are steaming hot.
  4. Add ginger, corn, carrots and lower heat. If you need more chicken broth add it at this time
  5. When the carrots are cooked, add the cooked chicken.


Corn Chowder with Sausage

I love a bowl of hot corn chowder, especially in the winter. This recipe is on my short list to make and when I do I'll add a photo.

Ingredients
  • 2 packages organic sweet frozen corn
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • 2 poblano chili peppers (if you can find them)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 packs Al Fresco chicken sausage of whatever flavor you like (or any other sausage you prefer)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • salt & pepper (salt optional)
  • cilantro
Directions
  1. If you are using the poblano peppers, cut in half, remove seeds and veins(wear gloves for protection), place under broiler until skin blisters, put in paper bag for 10 minutes, then peel and chop.
  2. Cook sausage and cut.
  3. Saute onion, celery, carrots and garlic, covered, on medium-low heat until carrots are a bit soft.
  4. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and add corn, peppers and simmer for just about 5 minutes until corn is done.
  5. Using food processor or immersible wand, puree about half of the mixture…that will give you thickness without flour or other thickener.
  6. Turn off heat, add as much chopped cilantro as you like (or if you don't like cilantro you could add fresh dill, or any other herb you prefer), and sausage
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

Fritatta:
I'm going to give you the base recipe and then you can put in whatever you want, whatever you have hanging around in the fridge. I tend to make a lot because then there are easy leftovers.


Ingredients
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 package organic turkey bacon-diced (or any other kind of meat you like)
  • peppers/mushroom, summer squash, left over broccoli, whatever
  • 8 large eggs, beaten with a couple of Tbs of water I sometimes add some parmesan to the beaten eggs)
  • any kind of cheese you like
  • any herbs you like
  • olive oil
Directions
  1. In large non-stick pan saute onions and bacon in olive oil until onions are soft and beginning to caramelize 
  2. Add in other veggies and stir if pan has gone dry, add a bit more olive oil 
  3. Heat pan on high for a minute add beaten eggs and immediately reduce heat to lowest setting
    cook over heat until eggs are set on the bottom and it looks like they are cooked at least half way through turn on broiler to low and place rack about 8 inches from flame 
  4. Wrap pan handle in foil to protect from heat 
  5. Put some more cheese on top  
  6. Place under broiler until brown on top and eggs cooked all the way through…usually about 5 minutes

Cilantro Crack Sauce

This silky sauce is perfect drizzled on grilled shrimp, carne asada, steak, sausage, chicken, dolloped over tacos of any kind (I eat tacos without a shell all the time), or used sparingly as a salad dressing. Intensify your dish by sprinkling the top of your dish with piquillo or chopped red peppers.
Cilantro Crack Sauce
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches of cilantro with stems chopped off, washed, and shaken; the extra water will help the sauce
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves (more if you love garlic)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon white vinegar (this is the secret ingredient; if you don't have white vinegar use lime juice, but the white vinegar really is the secret ingredient)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor and blend on slow speed. 
  2. Stop the blender intermittently to push ingredients down with a wooden spoon if necessary.
  3. Taste the sauce and if it doesn't make you feel ALIVE--add 1 more tablespoon of white vinegar.
For a thicker and creamier sauce, to use as a spread, use half the olive oil and double the mayo.

You may also substitute mayo for Greek yogurt, but it may not be as silky.

Sauce should keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge.

Recipe and photo source: Real Foodies

Oven Baked Rutabaga Fries

Here's a recipe that is as healthy as it is tasty. The rutabaga, also known as turnip or yellow turnip, is a root vegetable that is high in antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds. According to Dr Mercola, "Beta-carotene-rich rutabagas are also an excellent source of potassium and manganese (for energy), and a good source of fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6 (helps support the nervous system), calcium (for strong bones), magnesium (helps absorb calcium and combat stress), and phosphorus (helps metabolize proteins and sugars)."
Oven Baked Rutabaga Fries
Ingredients
  • 2 rutabaga (swede turnips)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Ariosto potato seasoning (contains: juniper, sage, and marjoram as well as basil, rosemary, and salt)
  • 1 tsp Ariosto chili garlic seasoning (contains: salt, rosemary, garlic, sage, juniper, bay leaves, oregano, parsley, and garlic)
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top
Ariosto seasonings are available via Amazon.com.

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Peel the skin off the rutabaga and julienne it. 
  3. Use a good sharp knife to cut the rutabaga into equal french fry (not too skinny) size pieces.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Layer the rutabaga slices on the paper and sprinkle with olive oil and seasonings. 
  6. Mix well.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes or so, so that they bake even.
Serving Options
  • Once baked, lightly sprinkle top of fries with grated Parmesan cheese. 
  • Serve with ketchup.


Recipe and photo source: Novice Housewife

Dec 3, 2014

Swim Through the Holidays

Swim through this holiday season by staying in the river (on program)! Celebrate the joy of welcoming in 2015 feeling good about where you are on your weight loss journey. Don't give in to holiday treats this year--the real treat is reaching and maintaining your goal size.
Photo by Theresa
Stay strong in your resolve to stick to the basics of this program (eating clean). All the information you need to reach your goal size is within you...

Can I have...
When in doubt - leave it out. There are no gray areas - you are either on key or you're off.

Cheese, oh the cheese!
Cheese is a condiment - break up with cheese if it's problematic for you. Cheese is trouble for many of us, because we think "well, at least it's not sugar!" The problem is that too much cheese stops our weight loss. When I broke up with cheese, my weight started to drop again. See a trays of cold cuts at a party? Have some, but pass on the cheese.

Fatty Foods
Be aware of your daily fat intake. Yes, we're allowed chicken wings (without breading), but be mindful of how often you have them. The same applies to bacon.

Bite for Bite Meat and Protein
Stop eating more veggies than meat. If you go back for more food, because you're still hungry or because it tastes so darn good, keep your meat to veggie ratio in balance.

Hungry?
An increase in appetite is best met with lots of meat, organic if you can. It may be a sign that you're eating too many veggies. I've had hunger last for nearly a week before it went away. The hunger will pass if you just stay the course.

Craving Sweets? 
Avoid sweet veggies. Protein and green veggies calm down those sweet cravings. Push back on the cravings ("I want to not want this") and they will subside. Give in and your cravings will only get stronger.

Bored with Food?
It's time to change up your menus. Start by making your meals tastier than ever. Look for recipes ideas on Julie's website or this blog.

Swim through the holidays and when New Years Day rolls in you won't need to join the millions who start a diet only to give up a few days or weeks later. 

You can do this. You are doing this!

Dec 2, 2014

This Is a Marathon

This weight loss journey is a lot like a marathon: there are no shortcuts and no skipping steps. You must be prepared. You must be focused. You must stay the course and go the full run. This means planning ahead and doing what's necessary to reach the finish line.

These photos are from 5k and 10k races I've done since starting this program. The July 1998 photo was taken in a garden where I walked less than ten minutes. Back then, that was all the walking I could do. My heart was broken that I couldn't do more, but that was my life in a size 30/32. My weight loss journey has been a long one, but I am happy with where I am today: my goal size is in sight and my resolve to stay the course is stronger than ever.

Last night I ran the Bright Nights 5k at Forest Park with key friends Megan and Lou. Support is great to have when running a 5k and it's equally true on our weight loss journey. I experienced a fun non-scale victory moment with Megan before the race when a photographer looked at us and said "This is a great photo opp!" That never happened to either of us before!

Looking at this photo taken before the race with Megan and Lou, I ask myself: who is this woman? It's me - antlers, blinking lights around my neck, and all! I never would have worn those antlers when I was a size 30/32! It was great to let myself have fun like this!
Before the race with Megan and Lou
Five months ago I started training for last night's 5k. This gave me plenty of time to complete my eight week c25k app, but for no particular reason I stopped training after week four day two (6 weeks ago). I continued walking an average of 13,000 steps daily and I stayed committed to this run. Last night I stayed in the moment and let go of what I could have or should have done. I pushed myself as best as I could and in the end, my race time was my usual 5k race average: 44:57.
Finish time: 44:57 for this 5k (3.1 miles)
Sometimes when I'm walking or running I want to take a shortcut. There's a course I take just outside my neighborhood where the road dead ends and sometimes I REALLY want to turn around before the end of the road, but I don't. I push away those thoughts, just like I push away food cravings. 

One day while training for this 5k, I started an inner dialogue to encourage me to keep running. I realized my words of encouragement to stay the course while running were also applicable to my weight loss journey. As I alternated running and walking along with my c25k app, I used another app to record my thoughts on how training for a 5k is similar to my weight loss journey...
Stop hesitating.
Get focused. Stay focused. 
At some point you have to stop thinking about it and just do it.
Don't let anything get between you and that finish line.
It's not just about the finish line - it's about today and what I do now. Right now is about putting one foot in front of the other and seeing my commitment through.
Go for it. Define what "it" is that you want and stay the course. In this moment "it" is about finishing my training today. With my weight loss, "it" is about staying on program today.
I paused for a moment and asked myself: who is this woman?
At some point while recording my thoughts, I realized multitasking was not a good idea, as it took my focus away from running. I must stay focused, so I can reach the finish line as fast as possible.

This weight loss journey isn't a marathon, as weight loss isn't about getting to our goal size as quickly as possible. It's about changing our way of eating so we can lose weight and keep it off. Perhaps we should act as if it is a marathon:
  • Make a plan and stay the course
  • Keep your eyes on the finish line
  • Reach and maintain your goal size
Whether you're training for a race or just starting this weight loss program, you need plan. The program gives you the plan and it's up to you to embrace this new way of eating and to stay the course. Once this new way of eating becomes an instinctive part of your lifestyle, your focus shifts away from "all things food" to other aspects of your life. Once we "get it" (how to eat on the key program), we can incorporate more into our life and spend less energy focusing on how to stay on program, as that becomes automatic.

The timing of this "shift" varies for each of us, just as how long it takes us to reach our goal size varies. You and I may start at the same size, but you may reach your goal size in a year and it has taken me nearly four years. There are many different factors behind why this is different for each of us, but it takes as long as it takes.

It's about finishing what you started.

You don't have to become a runner if you don't want to, but do what it takes to stay the course and reach your goal size!

Are you ready to finish what you started? Yes, you are!


Nov 22, 2014

Good Enough

You are far more than a singular life struggle and that struggle is not your whole identity. As we lose weight, many of us have times where we are frustrated because the weight isn't coming off "fast enough," but this kind of thinking can get the better of us. Perhaps when we feel this way it's time to step back a bit and see if there's something else in our lives going on. Is it possible that this moment of doubt is really about not feeling "good enough" in another area of your life?
Don't let your struggle become your identity
You are "good enough" just the way you are, but sometimes we lose our focus and become discouraged about our weight loss journey. Perhaps giving yourself permission to change your way of thinking about yourself will help you regain your focus to stay the course.

This excerpt, from the blog of Marc Chernoff: Marc and Angle Hack Life, Tips for Productive Living: 20 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough, written by Marc Chernoff, is full of sage advice that I couldn't resist sharing.

Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is simply believing you’re worthy of the trip.
  1. Nobody is doing better than you because nobody can do better than you.
    YOU are walking your own path. Sometimes the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes circumstances with everyone else’s public highlight reel.  Forget what everyone else is doing and achieving. Your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself to live YOUR best life.
  2. Where you are right now is a necessary step.
    Sometimes we avoid experiencing exactly where we are because we have developed a belief, based on our ideals, that it is not where we should be or want to be. But the truth is, where you are right now is exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow.
  3. Everything is coming together… maybe not immediately, but gradually.
    When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose. Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you. Pain is part of growing. Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you. When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.
  4. It is your resistance to “what is” that causes your suffering.
    Remember, happiness is allowing yourself to be perfectly OK with “what is,” rather than wishing for and worrying about “what is not.” “What is” is what’s supposed to be, or it would not be. The rest is just you, arguing with life. Think about that for a minute. This means your suffering only ever occurs when you resist how things are. You cannot control everything that happens to you; you can only control the way you respond to what happens. In your response is your power.
  5. Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.
    Choose to be miserable and you’ll find plenty of reasons to be miserable. Choose to be peaceful and you’ll find plenty of reasons to be at peace. Think about it. Are you skilled at making yourself miserable? With those same skills you can make yourself motivated, effective and fulfilled. Do so.
  6. You are always good enough to try, and that’s what’s important in the end.
    Everything you achieve comes from something you attempt. Make the attempt. Trust me, twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. Give yourself a chance.
  7. There’s always something small you can do.
    There is absolutely nothing about your present situation that prevents you from moving forward, one tiny step at a time. Remember, vision without action is just a daydream; vision must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, you must step up the stairs. And all you have to do is take one step at a time. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take that step.
  8. Failures are really just lessons that need to be learned.
    No day is ever wasted when you live it with purpose and presence. Value and enjoy the journey, even when there are detours along the way.
  9. Yesterday’s impossibilities may be possible today.
    Experience is the hardest kind of teacher; it gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.  But this is really a blessing. It means you’re growing stronger and more capable with every passing day. So don’t you dare give up on today because of the way things looked yesterday.  Don’t even think about it.
  10. What “might happen” can only stop you if you let it.
    Rather than worrying about what might happen, move forward and use your energy and intelligence to deal with what does actually happen.
  11. The quality of your vision drives the quality of your life.
    It’s up to you how you visualize things and what you focus on.  Forget what you don’t like.  Focus on what excites you.  If you see a possibility, explore it.  If you have a dream, live it.  Those who are passionate and excited about what they’re doing have an advantage that is nearly impossible to conquer.  Be one of these people.
  12. You don’t need to get everyone’s approval first.
    Stop listening to what the world says you should want. Start listening to who you are. Truth be told, there are only a few people in this world who will stay 100% true to you, and YOU should be one of them.
  13. What you’re capable of achieving is greatly based on how much you want it.
    When it means enough to you, then you can do it. When you are willing and committed and persistent, you will get yourself there, every time. Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural outcome of consistently applying your focused effort to what you want.  The fatigue might be there sometimes, but you must understand that putting it aside is the single most important factor in succeeding.
  14. Your best bet is to give yourself no other choice.
    It’s amazing what you can do when you have no other choice. In fact, achievement consists mostly of giving yourself no other choice. You are more than good enough; you just have to own it – you have to own everything you are and everything you’re up against. If you believe your troubles are too powerful, then you’ll never allow yourself to rise above them. Stop fretting. Quit worrying. Don’t complain. You know what you must do. So do it.
  15. You have to work hard on yourself too.
    Self-respect, self-love, self-worth… there’s a reason they all start with “self.” You can’t receive them from anyone else. Earn the respect of others by having the audacity to respect yourself.  Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with pots of gold at both ends. It’s your responsibility, above all, to see your own value. And this responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and deciding for you; it means learning to use your own brains and intuition to make things happen – hence, grappling with hard work.
  16. You are stronger than whatever is troubling you.
    Use each setback, each disappointment as a cue to push on ahead with more determination than ever before. When something bad happens, you can either let it define you, let it destroy you or let it strengthen you. The choice is yours. So pump yourself up! You are a lot stronger than you think you are. You may not be where you want to be yet, but look how far you’ve come.  Celebrate the fact that you’re not where you used to be.
  17. For everything you’ve lost, you’ve gained something else.
    Appreciate what you have today. Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. No regrets, just lessons. No worries, just acceptance. No expectations, just gratitude. Life is too short. The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end.  So stop re-reading the bad one already, and turn the page.
  18. You have made the best of some tough situations.
    Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy with everything. Sometimes it just means you’re strong and smart enough to accept it and make the best of it.
  19. Your scars are symbols of your strength.
    Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with. A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed.  It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward. A scar is the tattoo of a triumph. So don’t allow your scars to hold you hostage.  Don’t allow them to make you live your life in fear. You can’t make the scars in your life disappear, but you can change the way you see them. You can start seeing your scars as a sign of strength and not pain.
  20. You are still here trying.
    If you have no other testimony right now, you have this one “I’m still here trying.” Be positive, patient and persistent. The more you feel like quitting, the more there is to be gained by continuing to do all three. Because the strongest people aren’t the people who always win, but the people who don’t give up when they lose.

Nov 7, 2014

Saved by the Blog

I have a few short non-scale victory stories for you today. Small moments in time, glimpses into unexpected but significant changes in my life because of my weight loss. Moments that easily go unnoticed, but today I pause to celebrate them. A comment made by a waitress that would have a whole different meaning if I was still size 30/32. A moment when you, yes you reading this blog, saved me. A moment with me and my little black skirt.
Theresa and Alanna at Johnny's in South Hadley
The Waitress

This is one of those moments that people who have been obese can appreciate, but the humor and the awesomeness may be lost on those who have not struggled with obesity.

Last week I was at Johnny's Bar & Grille with my key-friend Alanna, enjoying great conversations over salt and pepper wings with roasted Brussels sprouts. After we were finished eating, the waitress cleared our table and before stepping away she said something that momentarily rendered us into silence.

"I can't believe you ate the whole thing!"

I was speechless, as I tried to grasp the meaning of what she said: I can't believe you ate the whole thing.

"Wow!" I said to Alanna, "That is not something someone would have said to me three years ago when I was wearing size 30/32 -- it would have had a whole different meaning!"

Alanna said she had too been quiet for the same reason: the waitress saw us as "normal!"

We claimed this as a great non-scale victory!

Before I move on to my next story, I must share these incredible before and after photos of Alanna. One year and what an incredible transformation! 
Alanna September 2013 vs September 2014
Saved by the Blog

I can't tell you how many times this blog has saved me. Really, I'm not kidding! Once in a while when I'm in a grocery store and someone pass me, pauses, backs up their grocery cart, our eyes lock, and they say "Are you Theresa from the blog?"

You know who you are--and thank you for saying hello and chatting for a few minutes! You saved me a few weeks ago!

It is because of those brief encounters that I could tap away (push away) intense cravings. I was on the way back from Rhode Island and all the way home all I could think about was chocolate -- and where I could get some. I was obsessed for two solid hours.

What saved me is that no matter how I played it out in my mind, and believe me I visualized EVERY store between my brother's house (where I left my car) and my house, no matter where I envisioned myself stopping, I imagined one of you would be in that store, our eyes would lock as you recognized me and then you would see me -- holding chocolate -- what would I say?

Oh no, I could not let that happen!

I tapped it away -- I pushed past the moment and I drove home nonstop.

So, thank you for saving me!

Me and My Little Black Skirt

I bought a little black skirt at Lane Bryant at the end of summer. I know, I swore off going back there, but I knew I could get great bargains in my size because when I was a size 30/32 all the best sale items were size 14.

I always hated those women who came into Lane Bryant's in their size 14’s and scored on bargains. This visit I was one of those women! This was an egotistical non-scale victory, but I must admit: I was proud to be one of those women!

A few days later I brought the skirt back. When the sales clerk asked why I was returning it, I told her "because I don't have any tops to wear with it."

"It's a black skirt - everything goes with it!" she said.

The sales clerk's comment haunted me. I kept thinking how sassy I'd felt when I tried the skirt on in the store.

A few weeks later I had to have that little black skirt.

Back in Lane Bryant's again, I looked through the (much smaller) section of summer close-out sales, but it wasn't there. Then I remembered: when I was a size 26/28, there were always 14's mixed in with 26/28's. Sure enough -- there was my beautiful little black skirt -- now on sale for even less than I paid before!

Three years ago I would not have worn this little black skirt. In fact, back then, I didn't wear dresses at all. Today, wearing short dresses and skirts is one of my favorite non-scale victories. 

I wore my little black skirt for the first time when I went to dinner with key friends. The knee length black skirt paired perfectly with a blouse that had been in my closet all along.
Susan, Karen, Theresa at Plan B looking at the very key-friendly menu
The blouse, which I'm wearing in the photo above, is one of many beautiful hand-me downs that I’ve been blessed to receive from key friends -- you know who you are!

I don’t always remember who gave me what outfit, but it was fun when Jill saw me and smiled. I knew immediately that the blouse had been hers.

"I always loved that blouse!" Jill said, "It had always been one of my favorites!"

I've dropped more weight these past few months (yeah!) and it's been great to pass clothing on to other key friends.

What about you? What non-scale victories have you experienced?

Meat Bagels

Meat Bagel
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ onions, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 pounds of ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Sauté onions over medium heat in butter and sauté until translucent. 
  4. Allow onions to cool before adding them to the meat.
  5. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients including cooked onions. Mix well enough to evenly distribute the spices.
  6. Divide the meat into 6 portions. 
  7. Using your hands, roll each portion of meat into a ball and then indent the middle and flatten slightly to form the appearance of a bagel.
  8. Place the each meat bagel in the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until meat is fully cooked.
  10. Allow the meat bagels to cool. 
  11. Slice the meat bagel just like a regular bagel. 
  12. Fill meat bagel with your favorite toppings, such as tomato slices, lettuce, onions etc. 
  13.  
Recipe and photo source: Ditch the Wheat

Spaghetti Pie

Wow - I can eat Spaghetti Pie and lose weight - how amazing is that? I encourage you to modify this recipe to suit your taste, as I have done. I used a mixture of sausage with sage and hamburg, but you may prefer the original recipe, which only calls for Italian sausage. I also skipped the suggestion to use pizza sauce and instead finished off a jar of opened tomato sauce. Make this your way, but any way you make it, as the texture is different from anything else in my usual menu. Plus, it's a good idea to expand our menus and not make the same foods again and again.
My slice of Spaghetti Pie
Prep time: 25 min.
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 25 min.

Ingredients
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • ½ pound Italian sausage 
  • ½ pound hamburg
  • ½ onion, diced 
  • 3-4 pieces of garlic minced or chopped(optional, I love garlic and couldn't resist adding it)
  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (pizza sauce or any kin of tomato sauce)
  • fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
  • Italian spice blend (or your favorite blend of Italian spices)
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional - I did not use either)
  • 3 eggs, whisked 
 Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place whole spaghetti squash on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the skin of the squash gives when you press on it. When it's done, set aside to cool.
I baked two spaghetti squash so I have one to make Lemongrass Shrimp Soup tomorrow
3. After the squash has cooled enough to handle it, discard the seeds and then place the spaghetti threads into an 8×8 baking dish.
Use a fork to remove the squash in spaghetti-like threads.
4. Place a large fry-pan over medium heat and cook Italian sausage, hamburg, and onion. Break meats into pieces as they cook.

5. Add the chopped or mince garlic to the pan as the meats cook.
Chop 3-4 pieces of garlic
6. When the meats are no longer pink, place the meat in a colander to drain the fat and then return the meat to the pan.
Cook the meats until no pink remains.
7. Chop the basil (if you used fresh basil) and then add to the pan with tomato sauce, and spices, then mix everything in the pan well.
Add fresh chopped fresh basil and other spices to the meat mixture
8. Add sausage mixture to a baking dish and mix well with spaghetti squash threads.

9. Add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix everything together until you can no longer see the eggs.

10. Remove mixture from the edges of the dish before you put it in the oven, as the egg batter and stuff you see in the image below burned and made the dish a pain to clean.

11. Place dish in oven and bake for 1 hour or until the top of the mixture forms a slight crust that doesn’t give when you press on it in the middle of the dish.
I didn't wipe the mixture from the edge of the dish and later it was hard to clean.
11. Let dish rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Second time around I wiped the mixture from edges of the dish - much easier to clean.
When I made this dish a second time, I kept an eye on the oven and when the top started to burn I covered the dish. It came out less crunchy than the first time and I'm torn as to which way I like it better. I also used less squash and I sprinkled in a little bit of corn. I liked the extra texture the corn added and having less squash it gave space for the egg flavor to be present.

This is one of my new favorite recipes now. When you make this dish, think of the flavors you like on pizza and use those ingredients so this dish comes out really flavorful!

Inspiration for this dish came from the recipe Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie by paleOMG's. I modified this recipe to meet my taste buds and you should do the same!

Lemongrass Shrimp Soup with Spaghetti Squash

Lemongrass Shrimp Soup with Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds) 
  •  ¾ pound shell-on medium shrimp 
  •  2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced 
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced 
  • 1 3" piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced 
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 8 cups chicken broth 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • sliced Serrano chiles
  • lime wedges
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  2. Pierce squash all over with a knife to vent. 
  3. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet, turning every 20 minutes, until tender (knife will easily slide through), 60–90 minutes.
  4. Let cool slightly. 
  5. Halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds; discard. 
  6. Scrape flesh with a fork to remove in long strands. Spread out on paper towels to drain.
  7. Meanwhile, peel and devein shrimp, reserving shells. 
  8. Place shrimp in a medium bowl; cover and chill until ready to use. 
  9. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high. 
  10. Cook shrimp shells, stirring occasionally, until bright pink and browned in spots, about 30 seconds. 
  11. Add scallions, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. 
  12. Add broth and bring to a boil. 
  13. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors marry and come together, about 30 minutes. 
  14. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean medium saucepan; discard solid.
  15. Bring broth to a boil. 
  16. Reduce heat, add chilled shrimp, and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes; season with salt.
  17. Divide squash among bowls and ladle shrimp and broth over to cover. Despite the name, spaghetti squash is still a vegetable and can get mushy when overcooked. Simply ladle the hot broth over the noodles when you are ready to eat.
  18. Top with cilantro and chiles and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Original recipe and photo source: Bonappetit