This recipe for chicken zucchini poppers comes to us from Megan. She didn't have zucchini on hand, so she used green chopped cauliflower instead. Megan reheated them for breakfast with a side of ranch.
Chicken Zucchini Poppers reheated with a side of ranch.
Photo by Megan
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground chicken breast
  • 2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 3-4 Tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Instructions

Mix ground chicken and remaining ingredients in large mixing bowl.

Grease a frying pan or skillet and with olive oil and set the burner to medium heat.

Spoon 8-10 nugget sized pieces from the bowl and place in the hot skillet.

Cook the chicken poppers for five minutes on each side.

Serve plain or with your favorite dip or sauce.
Do you have things distracting you and taking your focus away from your weight loss journey? Life is about more than achieving this one goal, but in order to reach our goal size, we must keep this goal in focus. I know this because I lost my focus.
Is your weight loss journey out of focus?
I lost my focus a few months ago and I find myself in a place I've never been before: off-program and all my clothes are tight.

At first it was just one sugary thing. A month later another. Over the holidays I went off completely. I was back on program for a few weeks and feeling great once again. Then BOOM! I went off program once more.

I'd forgotten about the vicious circle of self-promises to start again "tomorrow" and how that day doesn't come. After a night of indigestion, I wake up in the morning feeling lousy. The whole nine yards of physical issues that come with eating poorly are once again in my life. Some days I'm able to use feeling that way to get me through the day and I'm good for a week or so, but then I'm back in the infamous loop once more. 

I have not felt this way for five years and I've been beside myself with what to do.

Sigh.

Julie warned us this could happen. We discover we can "get away" with eating one thing, so we have a little more. We get away with that for a while too. Then one day, our "get of of jail" card expires with no notice. Suddenly we feel out of control with our food and our clothes are tight.

That's exactly how it happened to me. Of course, it didn't happen to me, this was all my choice. My behavior was equivalent to a when child learns the stove is hot and they know not to touch it again because they'll be hurt—I kept touching the stove—I chose to become numb the pain.

I don't want to be numb a moment longer.

This morning I realized I have been focusing more on what I'm doing wrong instead of what I'm doing right. I need to flip this equation around. I need to find my focus again and the only way to do this is to stop going numb; I must stop burning myself.

Today I began my day reading motivational articles to help me sharpen my focus. This morning I'll spend time in meditation and reflective writing, daily habits that I stopped when I went on vacation. Reflecting and learning encourage me stay focused on my goal.

I read an article this morning about motivation, If You Commit to Nothing, You’ll Be Distracted by Everything. The title of the article is inspiring and these words resonated with me:
"Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." —H. Jackson Brown
I've been at this dream of reaching my goal size for five years and the reminder that time will pass anyway is exactly what I needed to hear today. The Serena Williams quote (below) also came at a good time for me.

I've allowed myself to be distracted by many things and in the process, I've lost my focus. Today I remove those distractions and regain my focus.

What about you? What's distracting you? Is it time to refocus and return to your weight loss journey? Today is a perfect time to find your focus.
It's not about how you win. It's about how well
you're able to come back when you're down.
—Serena Williams; Source: Master Class

A friend recently asked me what I would do if I gained all my weight back. I was afraid to even answer the question. I can't imagine what I would do. I'd be devastated. Over the holidays a plea for help came from someone who has gained all the weight they lost and is unsure as to where to go from here on their weight loss journey.
Theresa in summer of 2004 (30/32) versus summer of 2015 (14/16)
Here's the question:
I went to Julie about 4 years ago, did really well for me, and then gave up. I can't forgive myself or my terrible weight gain. At my heaviest and so sad. Work full-time now and can't afford to go back. Friends tell me it wouldn't help anyway because I am a "rule breaker" and hypnosis doesn't work for us.

What do you think?

—Anonymous
What I think is this: your weight loss journey is yours and only you can decide what you can and can not do. Your friends can't tell you how to resolve your food issues; only you can do this. Only you know what is possible and even this is questionable, as there are many times in life when each of us have far exceeded our own limits. You can do this if you really want to. You did it once and you can do it again.

That doesn't mean it will be easy, but if it was easy then none of us would have weight problems. We each need to learn to trust ourselves to eat the right foods and then repeat, repeat, repeat, until we are in our goal size and learn how to maintain that size.

As far as being a rule breaker, well what if you break the rule about being a rule breaker and become some one who doesn't break the rules?

Hypnosis may not work for your friends, but it worked for you. You can't go by what others believe possible for you. You must once again learn that you can trust yourself and your body. The fact that you did 'really well' on this program four years ago speaks volumes as to whether you can trust yourself or your body.

Okay, so you made a mistake or two and then things got out of control. Move on. Forgive yourself. Stop being so mean to yourself and let go of what you could have, should have, but didn't do, and move on. Yes, you can get your food cravings back in line. Yes, you can learn to trust yourself once again. Yes, you can do this.

Yesterday's post from Momomig, Elevated Status, said this about cravings:
Cravings are nothing more than a thought. You observe that a food would taste nice. Like you observe that a car is nice, that a hair color is pretty, that someone's home is lovely... you don't necessarily obtain that thing - you simply notice it and go about your life.
Can you do this on your own or do you need a refresher? I can't answer this and neither can anyone else. There are key-followers who report gaining back all their weight and then taking it off again all on their own. There are also those who gained the weight back and went for a refresher and found success that way. You get to choose here. You did it once, you can do it again, with or without the refresher. Dig deep and decide what will work for you.

As far as not being able to afford to go back for a refresher, sure it's not cheap, but junk food isn't cheap either. If I were to add up what I spent in a day on junk food and then multiply that out...well it all adds up to a lot of money and fast.

Do some math with me on this. I'll keep it simple by looking at just one junk food item I used to eat several times a week: ice cream. One container of Ben and Jerry's ice cream averages about $4.50. If I had 3 containers a week, that adds up to $54 a month. If I ate out at a fast food place 3 time a week I'd easily spend $10 a meal, which is another $120.

BOOM$175 in a month on junk food! Easily. I'm sure it was even more.

Spending the money to go to a refresher is like spending money on medicine. You spend the money, but if you don't take the meds (follow the program) then you're not going to get better (drop your weight).

Go shopping and get the right foods in your house and start eating key-friendly foods now. You won't get in for a refresher until March at the earliest, so you have at least eight weeks before you can get in. This gives you two months to get yourself on program and if you feel like you still need help (a refresher), you'll have some time to save up money too.

You are not a bad or horrible person because you gained all your weight back. You are not a failure either. You aren't the only one this has happened to and while this may not make you feel any better, I hope that you find hope in knowing others have been where you are and they were able to reach their goal size once again.

Welcome back to the river (on program). I wish you well on your journey.

Here are some responses I've received for you...
Wise words indeed!
F.A.I.L. means first attempt in learning


Related:
Elevated Status
It's a new year and I'm cutting fat out of my foods and this boneless chuck roast was a great place to start. I made this in my crock pot this morning and I had a serving for lunch; it was yummy! If you don't have a crock pot, make this is a pan.
Boneless chuck roast with carrots and onions
Note: You may use your favorite spices to flavor your chuck roast instead of the Borsari Orange-Ginger seasoned salt that I used, which is a mixture of: sea salt, kosher salt, fresh garlic, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, black pepper, fresh orange peel, ginger. There are no preservatives, MSG, gluten or dehydrated ingredients.
Borsari Orange-Ginger seasoned salt
Ingredients
  • 2.5 pound boneless chuck roast
  • Borsari Orange-Ginger seasoned salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 whole carrots
  • 3/4 cups of water (or beef broth)
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley (optional)
Instructions

Sprinkle the roast with Borsari Orange-Ginger seasoned salt on all sides and then add the roast to a crock pot. Some people prefer to brown the edges of the roast before adding it to the crock pot. Since this is a low fat weight loss program, I chose not to do this and my roast was delicious without browning it first.

Add remaining ingredients to pot: sliced or smashed garlic cloves, large onion sliced or diced as you prefer (I cut my onion into 6 slices), carrots cut into thirds, and water or broth. You may substitute the vegetables.

Cook on high for five hours.
Cook in crock pot or in a pan on the stove.
Optional: pour broth over roast and veggies and then garnish dish with fresh parsley. This dish is also delicious served over Celeriac and Parsnip Mash.
Serve in a bowl with or without the broth
Remove any visible fat as you serve this dish. I missed a piece, as you can see in the photo above, but I did not eat it.

I refrigerated the leftover broth and I'll remove any fat that hardens on the top before I reheat it.

Related: Celeriac and Parsnip Mash
Our key-friend Martine has perfected this recipe for making key-friendly cloud bread, which is great for burgers and any kind of sandwich. A few months ago I had Martine's cloud bread sandwiches and—wow—it was so delicious! So many key-friends have made this recipe, that I've added a ton of their beautiful cloud bread photos.
Cloud bread with tuna salad
Note: There is an art to making this bread, so read and follow the directions carefully.

 Preparation
  • Chill a small bowl (which you will use to whip the egg whites)
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons of whole milk cottage cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice
Instructions

Separate the eggs very carefully, there must be NO yolks in the whites.
Separate yolks from whites
If you want to experiment with flavor, add your favorite herbs or spices to the egg yolk mixture before you fold it into the egg whites.

In a chilled bowl, add the egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice, and then beat on high speed until fluffy and form stiff peaks.
Beat until fluffy and forms stiff peaks
This is what will happen if you don't whip your whites enough. This is not a good thing.
Your bread will not turn out right if you don't beat the whites enough.
In another bowl, mix together the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of cottage cheese.

Very carefully fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until mixed, but try not to break down the fluffiness.
Carefully fold the 2 mixtures together
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

With a large spoon, scoop the mixture into 10 even rounds on the sheets about the size of the top-half a good size hamburger bun. Roughly 3/4 inch thick and 4 to 5 inch across.
Add caption
Place pan on the middle rack of your oven and bake.

Here is when you have to watch them, because the cooking is not the same on any two batches. It is somewhere around 1/2 hour, but could be less or more. You need to watch them until they are a nice golden brown, the color of a hamburger bun.

Remove from the pans and cool on a rack or cutting board.
Cool cloud bread on racks
While they are warm they are crumbly and similar to a cooked meringue, but don't let this fool you! They will become bread-like when they cool off.

Once completely cooled, seal them in a plastic storage baggie or a plastic container. If you are freezing more than one layer, separate the layers with parchment paper. If you will be keeping these for more than one day, put them in the fridge, as the recipe does not preservatives.
Martine's burger on cloud bread
I haven't made cloud bread yet, but I had Martine's cloud bread with chicken salad and OMG the sandwich was so incredible. Of course I took photos! So many key-friends have made this cloud bread, that I've asked for their permission to include their photos here as well.
Cloud bread with chicken salad
Cloud bread with chicken salad
Catherine's cloud bread fresh from the oven.
Catherine's chicken salad on cloud bread
Gail's cloud bread cooling on the racks
Jean's first batch of cloud bread
Lou's sliced his cloud bread and put a burger in the middle.


Related: Mental and Physical Freedom - Martine's weight loss journey.
Today's post comes from Momomig, who shares words of wisdom with us about cravings and how to level them. Each time we have cravings, we get choose what to do about them: push away those thoughts or cave into them? How will you respond when cravings come your way?
Cravings: how will you respond to them?
Tomorrow (Jan. 4, 2016) I am beginning a 3 month program of cardiac rehab. I must do some things that are not key-friendly - such as weighing myself every morning for 3 months. When I explained my predicament to my doctor, he told me to think of it a measuring my water weight and not my actual weight. I understand that with heart failure, one must be careful of excess fluid. I also understand that this is only for a few months. So I will do what they say, and be mindful of my salt and fluid...

Of greater interest to the Key Folks, I was reading literature from those who successfully completed cardiac rehab... One of the writers observed that we tend to give "cravings" an elevated status! She pointed out that cravings are nothing more than a thought. You observe that a food would taste nice. Like you observe that a car is nice, that a hair color is pretty, that someone's home is lovely... you don't necessarily obtain that thing - you simply notice it and go about your life... I LOVE IT!
I see a lovely food, appreciate its beauty, and go about my day...
--Momomig
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on how to deal with cravings Momomig.

I wish you well in your cardiac rehab program.
It's that time of year when all our favorite foods are everywhere. What do we do? We do the same things we do the rest of the year: we step away from the dessert table and stay on our weight loss journey. Let's all have a key-friendly holiday. Push away those cravings and step into our next smaller size jeans!
Wishing you a key-friendly holiday!

I'm going on vacation next week, which means I'll avoid all those foods that call out to me at holiday parties:
"Psst...over here...remember me? We used to be friends...What happened?"
I dropped from a size 30-32 to a 14-16 is what happened. And, by the way, we never really were friends.

For my holiday vacation I'm driving with family to Florida and back. We'll be staying at a hotels, which means I'll be outside of my safe home environment (food-wise) and easy access to key-friendly foods for twelve days.

But wait a minute! I have easy access to key-friendly foods no matter where I go - right? Yes, that is right. In fact, my food options won't be that much different than at home, except I won't have the temptations of holiday party foods, because I won't be going to those parties.

Being on the road and staying at hotels is a whole different game, but I've been on this almost five years now and I know that I'll do just fine. I know what foods to bring with me. I also know I don't need to pack food for 12 days, as there's no shortage of food between here and Florida. I won't starve! I will stay on my weight loss journey because I'm planning on it.

I'd be overly optimistic to tell you I'll blog from the road to let you know what my food struggles are and how I handle them. In my mind that will happen, but in reality, I'm not so sure, so I'm not making any promises to post from the road.

What about you? Are you planning to have a key-friendly holiday this year? We can all do this! Let's bring in the new year feeling great about what we've done for ourselves this year: staying on program and moving closer to our goal sizes!

Wishing each and every one of you a key-friendly holiday!

Meanwhile, pardon the missing images on all my earlier blog posts. I won't have time to resolve this technical issue until the new year. It's embarrassing, but here I am.



Image source: Tiffany & Company
All my blog photos are gone, but I'm still here and I'm not going anywhere and I will continue this blog! A few days I discovered all my blog photos were showing up in Google+ and I didn't know why or how that happened, so I deleted them.

Sigh.

It turns out that my blog photos are stored in Google+ and in deleting them all four years of my blog photos have disappeared! Yikes. 
I didn't know of the connection to my blogger photos and Google+, so I did not know to back up the Google+ photos. I'll check if my blog back up includes those photos and a few other possibilities. Meanwhile, I added the top and left images.

I plan to continue this blog, but getting all those photos back is going to take an incredible amount of time. 

This may be a sign that it's time to move to a different blogging tool than this one (blogger). 
A weight loss journey is solo journey. Individually, we choose again and again to stay the course, to push away cravings every time they come at us or to cave into them. To give in to our cravings, does not mean we are doomed to gain back all our weight again and if that does happen, it does not mean we will never be able to get back on program once again. The path to the river is there for us whenever we want to start again.
The path to the river is there for you any time you're ready.
There is hope for those who have fallen off program: start again right now. If you fell off a year ago or five minutes ago, start again now. Get back in the river this moment and stay the course once again. Forgive yourself and focus on your goal size. Do this on your own or call Julie's office for a refresher, either way - decide right now to continue your journey. Don't fall to the old pattern of promising yourself you'll start "tomorrow" or after the holidays. The infamous tomorrow never comes and the holidays, well they are for celebrating and what better way to celebrate than by feeling good about your life?

In my recent blog post, Welcome Back, Paula, one of our key-friends indicated she had fallen off program and asked us for help. Some indicated you too had gone off program and that you were able to get back in the river (on program); everyone's feedback was inspiring. Thank you all for your supportive comments.

I hope this inspirational update from Paula will inspire those who are still struggling to return to the river and continue your weight loss journey... 
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The outpouring of encouragement, support and love has been overwhelming. For a long while, I thought I was all alone in having gone off the track.

I was surprised at how easy the program was to do when I started, but at how hard it was to get back in the river. I think I was believing that the river was cold and rough. But your posts have reminded me that the river is gentle and soothing - it is about being kind to your body. Giving it nourishment when it is needed. Giving it exercise to help it move and dispel stress. Keeping it free of the things that make it feel sluggish and achy and hungry.


I also realized that I was rather isolated in this process. The only resource I could consult for inspiration was this blog - and it's a great blog!!!

But in my everyday life, I was encountering many folks who would give me the side-eye and chastise me for foregoing fruit, or grains, or for eating dairy.>

"No milk" they cry - dairy is bad! You must have fruit daily!

I need to be stronger in my conviction that Key is the way for me! I know from experience that carbs are not for me. Now I need to let all this "advice" roll off my back with a gentle "thank you for your concern."

I also appreciate hearing everyone's words of wisdom. This is one clever and articulate group. I especially needed to hear that what I need to do is picture myself back in that room and remember what I learned. It is all still in me. I just need to access it.

I am also so grateful to those who shared that they too have sometimes wandered out of the river. I send them support and encouragement too. We are not alone, we have each other.

Finally, I hope Theresa realizes how much this blog means to me - and how much it seems to mean to so many others. Please understand, Ms. Theresa, that you have many, many people who find a great deal of support in your blog and that we are so thankful.

And speaking of giving thanks - some people in my life are questioning why I am getting back in the river so close to Thanksgiving. I have two answers: One, Julie told us at my third session, shortly before Thanksgiving, to write a card to put on or under our plate at Thanksgiving - a card that says that the meal is our gift to ourselves. Two: butternut squash!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. You are all AMAZING!
Paula, it sounds to me like you are already stronger in your convictions! I'm so glad to hear you are on your journey once again! Your story will no doubt inspire others. Thanks for sharing your optimistic turn-around.

I won't be posting again this week, as today's post is full of incredible inspiration, so I'll wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving today and I'll post again next week.

I saw a comment from Paula asking if I am well, as I haven't blogged for a while. Yes Paula, I am well and thank you for asking. I've been focusing on my consulting business: creating documentary videos and family memory videos. I will publish a blog post before Thanksgiving, as it has been way too long since my last post!
video
These geese are saying "welcome back to the river!"
(taken with my iPhone, not for professional projects)

Meanwhile, I want to address Paula's plea for inspiration:
I am particularly looking for inspiration now, as I am ashamed to say I gained all my weight back and now must start over. Very poor choices on my part, and a number of medical issues - mine and others. So I am getting back in the river, and looking forward to more of your posts.

—Paula
First, welcome back to the river Paula!

Second, here are a few things to remember as you start you second phase on your weight loss journey.

Remember:
  • Forgive yourself. Feeling bad or guilty about what you've done will not help you in any way.
  • Leave behind the reasons and the self-judgement around having to start again. 
  • Believe in yourself and choose to feel good about your journey today.
  • Feel proud of yourself for returning to the river and starting once again. 
  • Leave shame behind, as you can not change the past, you can only change what you do from this moment forward. 
  • Feel proud of yourself that you have returned to your weight loss journey and do whatever it takes to continue feeling good.
  • You can do this; affirm this daily, several times a day if you must. 
  • You have all the tools within you to reset your body and to stay on program.
This may be hard, but you are worth it:
  • Push away cravings and then push them away again and again until they go away. Repeat as necessary.
  • Be patient with yourself and your journey. It may take 2 to 6 weeks for sugar (carbs break down into sugar) to leave your system. 
  • Losing your weight will take as long as it takes, so make this journey the best it can be. 
Stay the course and you will arrive at your goal size and learn how to maintain that size. You are so worth this!

Are there key-friends out there who are willing to share words of wisdom with Paula? We'd love to hear from you.

Words of encouragement from another key friend.