Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken separated into 8 pieces 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 large onion sliced 
  • 3 garlic cloves minced 
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced 
  • 1 yellow bell pepper sliced 
  • 3/4 c chicken broth 
  • 2 tsp vinegar 
  • 1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add olive oil to a large high sided sauté pan or heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium-high heat. 
  3. Add chicken, skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Flip and cook until browned on the other side. 
  5. Move chicken to the side of the pot. 
  6. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until soft. 
  7. Add the bell peppers and sauté for a few more minutes. 
  8. Season with salt and pepper. 
  9. Add the chicken broth and vinegar and simmer until reduced by half. 
  10. Add tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. 
  11. Partly cover pan and simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes. 
Submitted by Sue Zuron
Ingredients
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3 large handfuls lacinato kale, torn into shreds
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Directions
Preparing to Bake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Combine the salt, smoked paprika, and garlic in a small bowl.
  4. Wash the kale. 
  5. Rinse the kale leaves, then put them in a salad spinner and spin until the green becomes a blur. Round and round, spinning and spinning — let the kale dry.
  6. After removing kale from spinner, dry it even more with paper towels. Those leaves should be bone dry.
Oiling the Kale
  1. Put the kale leaves in a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  3. Massage the oil into the leaves. You might need more. You might have larger hands than I do. Use your judgment.
Bake the Chips
  1. Arrange the kale chips onto the sheet try and slide it into the oven. 
  2. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch but still a dark green. When they turn brown, they turn bitter.
  3. Check at the 12-minute mark, to be sure.
  4. Remove them from the oven. 
  5. Sprinkle with the garlic smoked paprika salt.
  6. Let them cool a bit. 
  7. Eat.
Play with the spices to your liking. I like to add a bit of lemon juice to the oil.

Recipe submitted by Doryne Pederzani-Dinneen
Steak with Mushrooms
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 3/4 pounds skirt steak, cut into 4 pieces 
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and quartered 
  • ¼ teaspoon cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Season the steak with salt and pepper and cook, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, reserve the skillet drippings.
  3. Let steak rest for 5 minutes before slicing. I removed all the fat from the steak before serving.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the drippings in the skillet and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. 
  5. Add the balsamic vinegar, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and syrupy, 2 to 3 minutes more; season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Top steak with the mushroom sauce and sprinkle with the parsley.
In mid-July I was on my morning walk when I realized: this road isn't taking me where I want to go! My morning walk literally leads to a dead-end. As I walked, I wondered: what other paths do I take throughout my day that don't lead to where I want to go?
Is the road you on taking you where you want to go?
This realization felt symbolic of where I was on my weight loss journey: at a dead-end. I started to think about the food choices I'd made that led me to gain weight instead of reaching my goal size. What foods was I justifying as okay, when in reality they were keeping me from reaching my goal? Why was I choosing to stay on a dead-end road?

Here are some of those non-key foods my self-talk justified as okay:
Why not have cheese? At least it's not sugar!

Yes, I'll have corn tortillas with my eggs. At least it's not bread!

I have 20 minutes before my students arrive and it's just me and a tray of Girl Scout cookies. Who's going to know?
This was the wrong way of thinking! I realized I needed to start making different choices. Each time I justified eating non-key foods, I was choosing a dead-end path that led to weight gain instead of weight loss. I started asking myself: is this food going to take me in the direction I want to go? If the answer was no, I made a different choice.

Weight loss is all about choices. Weight gain is also about choices. We have the freedom to choose which direction we want to go: up or down in clothing size.

I've been struggling on my weight loss journey for the past year. In the past six months I've gained weight and my clothes are too tight. Over a month ago I decided it was time to get back on the right road again.

One of the things I did was to look back through my weight loss journey photos and that's when I had a big AH-HA moment!
There was a time when I was excited and proud to be the size I am today. Why can't I allow myself to feel good about being this size today?

I haven't gained all my weight back and I choose to stop feeling horrible about my weight gain, because all that negative self-talk from my inner-critic (Little Mean Girl) wasn't helping.
I've always advocated of taking photos while on this weight loss journey and taking them often. New discovery: this is a good idea when you are struggling as well.

This first of August I took a few photos of myself, including an OMG side profile. I'll take more photos in the same outfit at the end of the month. I'll repeat this every month for the rest of the year. Those photos were a big reality check for me. I had to hush my Little Mean Girl, and I'm not ready to share them, but I look at them daily, to remind myself of where I am today and to help me make healthy choices.

I encourage you, whether you're On or OFF program or somewhere in between, to take a photo of yourself today. Mark your calendar to take another one in 30 days and repeat each month. You don't have to share the photo today (or ever), but do this for yourself. Hush your Little Mean Girl if you don't like what you see and use that photo to motivate you to make healthy choices.

I'm editing a video about a place in New Hampshire that was called Freedom Acres; it closed decades ago. The interviewer asked the woman telling the story "why do you think they named the place Freedom Acres?

"Because it gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted," she replied.

We have the freedom to choose whatever we want too: to continue on our weight loss journey or to call it quits. I'm choosing to stay on my journey and I'm going to use Freedom Acres as my metaphor of where I want to live.

My Freedom Acres doesn't have dead-ends, it has fields of unlimited possibilities and gardens full of unseen spirits that guide me when I need it. In my Freedom Acres my body is free from stress and struggles, because I'm connected with my life purpose and I choose to live my best life every day. I'm relaxed, calm, peaceful, and I choose to eat healthy.
My Freedom Acres
Where are you on your weight loss journey? Are you on a path that leads to a dead-end? Is it time for you to get off that path and onto one that leads you to success?

You have the freedom to choose where you're going - where do you want to go?
During my recent struggle to stay on program, I've been talking with Linda, my key-friend and blog contributor, who was also struggling. We were both shocked to find ourselves by the river side (off-program). Now that we're back in the river, we want to share this part of our journey.
Step away from the river side and jump back into the river.
Theresa:
It was hard for me to believe that after five years of being on program, I would found myself on the old familiar roller-coaster ride of on/off program and obsessed with thoughts of being a failure. Round and round I went. I couldn't find a way to get off the ride.

I was finally able to get off the roller-coaster when I decided that feeling good far outweighed the restraints I once had to keep me from eating whatever I wanted. My stomach-churned from unhealthy food choices. I started having lower back pain at night. I felt lousy all day, day after day, for weeks. Then there was the absence of the visceral thrill of the drop in size; after all I had not reached my goal size. I felt like a failure. I felt shame for gaining weight and for wanting to hide.

Linda and I had long phone conversations to talk about our struggles, successes, and to support one another. Despite those inspiring conversations, jumping back in the river didn't happen right away for me. Sometimes I caught a ride on the roller-coaster for days. Other times I did well for a month or longer, but then I returned to the roller-coaster and was on and off program again.

Finally, sick to death of feeling so poorly, I cashed in my roller-coaster ticket for a one-way-ticket back to the river. I focused on how, just a few months earlier, I had been I was so comfortable in my body, full of energy, and living pain-free. I incorporated a daily visualization of feeling good in my body to reinforce my commitment to stay the course.

I reminded myself how happy I was when I last reached the size I am today, to help me push away those thoughts of shame. Today, I choose to feel proud of where I am and where I'm going! No more roller-coaster rides for me. I feel nauseous just thinking about getting on another roller-coaster.

Life is about making choices. Each time I make choices that take me where I want to go in my life, to eat healthy and to exercise, my life fills with hope.
Linda:
I was so off course and I hit a VERY BIG pothole in my journey. I wrote in a journal how I felt, how miserable, how unhappy, and how frustrated; I got all my emotions out. Then I wrote my plan for the day, In big bold letters:
  • I WILL STAY ON PROGRAM.
  • I WILL EAT ONLY MEAT AND VEGGIES
  • I WILL NOT EAT CHEESE
  • I WILL NOT EAT SUGAR — SUGAR IS POISON!!!
I continued writing each day how I physically felt, mentally felt, and my plan for the day.
  • I WILL WALK WALK WALK!
Each day I got stronger.

I really believe writing these thoughts down on paper helped. I was SCARED!!! I had gained weight!!!

I began thinking positively. My thought process changed as each day became another step. I forgave myself.

I do not dwell on where I was. I dwell on how happy I was when I reached the size earlier in my journey.
What about you? Are you struggling to get back and stay in the river? Stay tuned, as we continue to once again share our weight loss journey.

What as that noise? That was water splashing — as you too jumped back in the river!
For those of you struggling on your weight loss story, here's a story from one of our key friends who overcame the many obstacles in her life and successfully reached her goal size. Melissa shares how she went off program three times and got back on program on her own.
It's been an unforgettable four years!
April 19 was my four-year anniversary since hypnosis. To say the least, it has been an unforgettable four years.

When I began this journey I was 42, weighed 232 pounds, was stuffed into a size 20/22 with high blood pressure, a fatty liver and I was a borderline diabetic with a five-year old daughter. I was the epitome of unhealthy.

I will never forget my doctor appointment in November 2011 when I was told if I didn't change my lifestyle my daughter would grow up without her mother; that's all I needed to hear. I called Julie's office and I was added to the wait list. I finally received my call for April 19, 2012.
That call changed my life.

I went nearly 2 ½ years 100% on plan, cycled through maintenance and I have had 3 rough patches of screwing up, because I'm human.
When I went off-program the first time, I chose to disappear and hide instead of owning my mistakes. Since then I learned a valuable lesson: to make the conscious decision to do it so I must own it. Being vocal about it seems to have helped others know that it's OK, shit happens, we're all human, and that by owning it I became accountable. It's made it easier for me to be honest and embarrassed in hopes I can give other the motivation to get back on track. 
I'm happy to say that I'm in a really good place now. What I've come to realize is we are never fully happy with our bodies and this is something I am working on now. I totally went off plan, but I also know that it only brought me more sadness, frustration, and sheer fear of never being able to regain control.

But guess what? It's mind over matter...
I've gone off program three times and I've had the mental ability to get right back on track without a refresher to do so.
I went back on-program with this theory: the time is going to pass either way, I can make the best of it and follow what I've learned or be miserable and unhealthy again. Time is not going to stop for me and so I need to commit.
Before I knew it, five months passed, and it was honestly mindless.
It's been since 2012 when I was initially hypnotized by Julie and nearly three years since my last refresher. I've got this on my own. So if your still questioning, "Can we get back and lose without a refresher?" the answer is absolutely, positively, 110% yes!
Never give up hope because it's all within you. I will continue this lifestyle, because it's taught me so much about myself and I'm so much happier as a smaller me. 
My weight loss progression during the last four years:
My starting picture taken the night before hypnosis.
April 2012 - November 2012
At my smallest being a size 4/6.
June 2013 at my fittest
September 2013
December 2014
Off-plan from Dec, 2014 back on by May 2015
February 2016
February 2016
Current photo
I guess my point is this: we will have ups and downs. Just be aware that your capable of anything you put your mind to because you have all the power! 

I'm looking forward to see what the next 4 years brings!
Fitting into one leg of my starting size pants
The picture above to show the pants I started with and working my butt off to get my body in just one of the legs, to me that is success! That's my last 4 year journey after hypnosis!
Thank you Melissa for sharing your journey with us. For those of us who have been struggling, it's refreshing to hear from others who have been where we are and have made it to their goal size.

You've inspired me in so many ways. One way, is that I will begin to share more about my imperfect year, so I too may help others who are struggling. Another blog contributor is joining me in posting the successful journey back from the side-trip and on-program once more.

We're all in this together, but it is a solo journey as we make each choice to live a healthy life!
I continue to feel great about the healthy choices I make each day: walking and eating clean. I'm sleeping better and my days are full of optimism. This is my truth and yet this morning I woke up feeling hungover. I had a headache, my mind was a bit foggy, and my body was slow moving. Regardless of how I felt four hours ago, I choose to see this as a positive.
No more hiding - this is where I am today.
Why? Because this means my body is detoxing from the foods I ate. Foods that converted to sugar in my body and my body reacted to as if had been poisoned.

The hangover feeling has passed and I feel great, especially as I just came back from a short walk. I'm on a new road in my weight loss journey and it's exciting to be moving forward again.

I share this selfie of where I am today, because I haven't wanted to be seen in my tight clothes. I'm not hiding anymore.

As I made my morning coffee, I pondered over why I felt this way. I haven't had non-key foods for some time, so why today? Then I realized what's going on: I'm detoxing from sugar.

To better understand why sugar causes hangovers, I did a little research this morning. This article excerpt correlates the similarities between a hangover from alcohol and sugar:
Too much alcohol, just like too much sugar, affects your kidneys, liver, stomach and small intestines, which explains some of what is happening in your body. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal disturbances and disruption of sleep are some of the results.

— Source: Body Ecology
Ah, so this is why I've been so dehydrated! My instincts have been been to consciously and consistently drink as much water as I can every day. This is a good thing to do every day, but it's especially helpful to flush out toxins from the carbs etc. that I indulged in.

Many key-friends have said that after their first sessions with Julie they felt as I did this morning and some felt this way for a week or longer. I was one of the lucky ones who actually felt INCREDIBLE from the moment I left my first session. This morning, not so much, but I accept this as part of my journey.

I really like the way I feel when I make healthy choices! It really is as simple as this: I choose to feel good - I choose to eat clean and exercise. I know first-hand how hard it is to make healthy choices when you are in the insane moment(s) of life. I also know first-hand that each time I say no to those foods, it gets easier and easier.

What about you? Have you been hiding? It's such a ridiculous thing to do, but shame can be a powerful force to reckon with, but you too can move toward a viable solution. I've dropped a lot of weight on this program and my recent gain cannot negate what I've done.

If you're struggling to get back on program, flip on your turn indicator and get back on the road to healthier choices. Believe that it is within you to make the changes you need to make. You can stop the insanity at any moment. You can tap away, push away, the call of sugars and carbs right now and continue your weight loss journey today.

Step away from unhealthy choices. Go shopping. Go for a walk. Go for it. You can do this.
As I traverse this new territory on my weight loss journey, I move forward, back and forth, or sideways. I acknowledge I am not a failure. I am a human being who is learning how to navigate my journey. I learned an acronym this week that resonated with me: FAIL = first action in learning.

The FAIL concept is that when we try something new we don't usually get it right the first time around; our first step in learning is to fail. We learn from our mistakes and then we move on to success.

I've been caught in a pothole and I'm learning how to not only avoid them, but how to get out of them without causing too much damage. Beating myself up for my choices doesn't help. Learning how to negotiate (with myself) to make healthier choices does.

There are moments when I feel optimistic and hopeful and moments when I don't. I choose to see this as an opportunity to learn what I can from this experience - and I have learned a great deal.

I've chosen to change course and to return to the river once more and I bring the new things I've learned with me, such as when I eat well and exercise:
  • I think more clearly
  • I have more energy
  • I feel joyful
  • I have more to give to others
  • I feel good about myself and my life
  • It feels good to be me
Notice how this list doesn't include the negative side of not eating well? That's because another lesson I learned is to look back at the positive moments at the end of each day. When I do this, I sleep better and my perspective on life improves.

I learned a few other things during this new phase of my weight loss journey...

The Right Foods
It's much easier to stay on program when I have the right food in the house. I shopped for groceries first thing this morning and "what's for dinner" is an easier question to answer.

Quick Protein
Having protein ready to eat is always a good choice. As I approached the cash register this morning, I grabbed a cooked chicken and told the cashier I changed my mind about the package of uncooked chicken I was going to buy.

Keep it Simple
Today I wanted to keep my meals simple and easy to grab. I'll cook tomorrow, but today I'm setting myself up for success by keeping it simple.

A little while ago I was hungry and it was wonderful to walk into my kitchen, toss some olive oil, onions, garlic, and kale into a pan, and within a few minutes serve them in a bowl with sliced chicken on top. Protein and exceptionally healthy greens - yummy! Plus leftovers for a couple more meals.
Kale with garlic and onions topped with roasted chicken.
Yesterday I made ginger tea and poured it into small ice cube trays. I drop 1 ice cube into my glass of seltzer and I instantly have a delicious drink. I'm adding this technique to my new bag of tricks. BTW, this drink is also delicious if you add a shot of vodka.  

What about you? Are you on track with your weight loss journey? If you're not, join me in changing course and getting back on track today!
My journey back on program has not been easy nor has it been perfect. I have several weeks where I'm doing great and then BOOM - not so great. Sometimes it's just a one time thing and other times it lasts a day or two. When I eat non-key foods, like carbs and sugars, my body wants more of the same. The key is to not eat those foods and eventually they stopping calling your name.
Little Mean Girl is always pointing me in the wrong direction!
Sunday morning I poured hot frothed milk into my coffee and discovered the milk had gone bad. I jumped into my car and backed out of my garage to get milk at a nearby gas station, as the grocery store wouldn't open for a few more hours.

I maneuvered the quick turns within my neighborhood toward the main road and that's when Little Mean Girl, one of my inner critics, started talking.
Turn right! You can get milk AND something sweet to have with your coffee!
"Oh no! Not this early in the morning!" I thought to myself.

Time seemed to slow down as I approached the main road. The battle with Little Mean Girl was less than a minute, but as I waited for an opening to make my turn, the inner dialogue kept repeating over and over like a dusty needle caught in a groove of a vinyl record. My mind was caught in a loop and I was having difficulty clearing the dust.

The traffic thinned out and provided an opening for me to turn. I pushed past the loud sugar calls and turned left.

It felt as if I was going against the laws of gravity to make this turn, but I did it anyhow.

I only needed to push beyond that moment and to set my trajectory toward the destination I where I wanted to arrive, to silence the calls of sugar and carbs.

Each time I hear these calls, I need to repeat this process:
  1. Turn down the volume on Little Mean Girl.
  2. See the choices and the consequences.
  3. Set my trajectory to where I want to arrive.
  4. Take the correct turn.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Repeat.
  7. Repeat.
The other side of this turn is sweet success, which is far sweeter than anything Little Mean Girl has to offer. Nothing tastes as good as sweet success!

What about you? What do you do when you hear the calls of sugar or carbs?
Yesterday I had some disappointing news. Fortunately I had a meeting scheduled for 20 minutes later with my tax guy, which distracted me for two hours. Learning a refund is coming soon cheered me up. However, my 10-minute drive home was torture. Little Mean Girl insisted "if ever there was a time to treat myself — this was the time." Are you wondering if Little Mean Girl won this battle or I did?
Theresa vs Little Mean Girl
Here's the dialogue that went on in my mind all the way home...
I want nachos or pizza with a cold beer and then ice cream.

I'll be home in 10 minutes where yummy pumpkin sausage soup is at home waiting for me. All I have to do is keep driving.

But if ever there was a time to treat myself — this is it!

Keep driving.

My favorite pizza shop is coming up.

Keep driving. 
As I drove past the pizza shop I didn't even see it; I just kept driving. As I waited at an intersection for the light to change, the sound of my turn signal seemed in sync with my heartbeat and extremely loud. As I made the turn, I had another thought.
Thai Place! Yes, I can stop there for a drink.

Keep driving. I can make the same drink at home. 
As I turned into my complex, I felt a great release of pressure!
I'm home — I made it!
I heated my creamy key-friendly soup and I was happy that I stayed on program, although a third bowl was more than I needed. As put down my empty bowl, I thought about what I just did: I chose to stay on program and I chose not to indulge in the foods I was craving earlier. I stood my ground:
Eating never solved anything. No amount of pizza, nachos, ice cream, or other unhealthy foods solved anything in the past and I know that would only result in making me feel worse later. Saying NO to those foods is sweeter than anything I could have eaten; success is so sweet!
After my recent struggle to stay on my weight loss journey, I'm happy to say I've been steady on this course for some time now. Yesterday gave me the opportunity to see that once again I committed to staying on course.

What about you? Are you committed to staying on your weight loss journey? If you're struggling, what's stopping you from making a commitment right now to get back on program? Put away the guilt about what you should have or could have done and start again right now. You can do this!


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