Feb 25, 2015

Lou's Pesto

Today's recipe is from Lou, one of our key friends who is a fabulous cook. The beauty of this pesto is that it does not contain pine nuts. It's also fresher and cheaper than store bought pesto.  Pesto is one of those ingredients you can add to just about everything you make. Fresh basil is available year-round and you can make this in large batches and then freeze it in smaller portions. This recipe is inspiring me to try growing basil summer.
Lou's Pesto. Photo by Lou.
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach
  • .75 cups basil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • .5 cups grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
DirectionsPlace everything in a blender or food processor and blend while adding olive oil until smooth.

Feb 23, 2015

It's Time for an Evolution

My eating routine has evolved since I started eating the key-way. I used to think the time of day determined when or if I was hungry. Every morning I would get out of bed and it was immediately time for breakfast. At the strike of noon, I was hungry. A clock, I've learned, has nothing to do with hunger.
My hunger no longer has to do with what time it is. Photo by Theresa
My eating routine completely evolved on the morning after my first session when I got out of bed and I did something I hadn’t done since I was 19 years old - I skipped breakfast. I just wasn’t hungry. The fact that I had woken up that morning fully embracing the concept to eat only when I'm hungry shocked me, but it felt good and it felt right, so I went with it.

It’s four years later and I still don’t eat breakfast - most days. I say most days, because my appetite changes from time to time. With no ties to the clock, I usually eat between 11-2 and then again between 5-8. There are mornings when I am hungry and I have breakfast, days when I’m not hungry and skip lunch or diner completely, and days when I don’t eat at all. Yes, there are times when I don't eat for a day or two. Talk about shocker! Once again, it feels good and it feels right, so I go with it.

As I was writing this piece, I realized I was hungry. I noticed the time, 10:50am, as I got up from my computer. I wasn’t looking at the clock to determine if I was hungry, those days are long gone, I needed to keep an eye on the time so I wouldn't miss an appointment.

I heated up the last of yesterday's home made chicken soup and as I stirred the soup I thought about a conversation I had with blog contributors at our potluck this past weekend. A few of us discussed the possibility that we may be using the concept to eat when you hungry to allow ourselves to eat too much.

Is it possible that we're on a plateau because we're eating too much? 

As I write this, my immediate response is:
If you think you’re eating too much, then you probably are.
Can it really be this simple? Yes, I believe it is this simple.

Looking at my bowl of chicken soup, I wondered if one bowl of soup would be enough.

Of course it’s enough - it’s a whole bowl of chicken, vegetables, and broth! 
Homemade chicken soup, photo by Theresa
The day before I made chicken soup from a whole chicken. At lunch I ate some of the chicken when it was still warm. At dinner, I ate three bowls of soup. Or was it four?

But that’s okay - right? Everything I ate was on program. The chicken-vegetable ratio was spot on. Sure, everything I ate was on program, but did I really need to eat that many bowls? Was I really that hungry?

I knew the answer: probably not.

I'm at a turning point in my weight loss journey and the answer to this question is essential:
Am I ready to evolve once again on my weight loss journey?
Yes,  I'm ready to evolve my weight loss program. Reaching my goal size depends on this evolution. This feels good and it feels right, so I'm going for it. 

What about you? Is it time for an evolution in your weight loss evolution?

Feb 22, 2015

Egg and Veggie Casserole

This recipe comes from contributor Jennifer. She brought this to the potluck yesterday and as soon as I took a bite I realized I needed to take a photo. This recipe is easy to make and ingredients can be adapted to suit your taste and what's in your kitchen.
Egg and Veggie Casserole
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 12 large eggs
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
I cut up at least 2 ham steaks (bite size pieces) or you could use cooked sausage, bacon, turkey, chicken, etc. I also omit the spinach, and add corn and more mushrooms; you can add peppers, etc.
Make it your own!

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Spray 9 x 13" pan with olive oil.
  1. Cook onion in olive oil until caramelized. Put aside.
  2. Add eggs to a large mixing bowl. Scramble eggs.
  3. Add cottage cheese, Swiss, cheddar, mushrooms, spinach and cooked onions.  Stir all ingredients together until well mixed.
  4. Pour egg mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Serve warm.
Note: can be refrigerated and reheated.

Chicken Coleslaw

I was at a small key-potluck yesterday and one of the fabulous dishes served was this chicken coleslaw Inna made. It's one of Julie's recipes and I only have one word: yummy!

Chicken Coleslaw, photo by Theresa
Ingredients
  • 1 bag shredded coleslaw
  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • mayo
  • sweet basil
Directions
  1. Slice chicken into small pieces
  2. Add bag of coleslaw into a large serving bowl
  3. Add the chicken into the coleslaw
  4. Add in mayo until chicken and slaw is covered
  5. Add sweet basil for taste
  6. Chill in refrigerator or eat as is


Original recipe source Key Hypnosis Recipes
"Chicken and coleslaw fast and easy" - Julie Ann Kibe

Feb 19, 2015

Finish What You Start

It's easy to believe that because we didn't succeed once or twice, we will always fail. Albert Einstein once said “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.” It is this kind of optimism we need embrace to be successful on our weight loss journey. Don't think about how many times you failed before. You didn't fail all those other times--you just didn't finish! Finish what you started today-don't wait for tomorrow to begin your weight loss journey.


In mid-January I joined a handful of key-friends in a 30-day squat challenge. My kitty Ginger loves it when I do squats, because I rub her belly each time I squat. I was disappointed, as I'm sure Ginger was, that my two earlier attempts at squat challenges were unsuccessful.

This time, I was determined to finish my 30-day challenge. After finishing day one, I proudly placed a black check mark on my chart and then wrote about my progress, something I did every day of my challenge. All four days.

This morning I saw my unfinished squat post and I realized I was feeling like a failure every time I saw that blog piece, as it reminded me of something I started and didn't finish. I realized my little mean girl was acting out and suddenly I had a perfect topic for today: finish what you start.

I am not a failure because I didn't finish those squats! I simply didn't finish what I started. The key is to start something you really want to finish. I asked myself: how important it for me to do those squats? Right now, it's just not that important. I hushed my little mean and I broke free from the cycle of failure!

It's important to finish what we start, because we feel great when we do and we feel lousy when we don't. When we don't finish what we started, we feel like a failure. We feel embarrassed. Why do we feel embarrassed? Because we often ANNOUNCE to everyone that we're going on a diet or exercise program. Later we feel embarrassed and shameful because we didn't finish what we started.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? How many times have you announced to friends and family you're going to start a diet or exercise program and in a short amount of time went off your program? You no longer talked about it. You silently hoped none one would ask "how's your program coming along?" You felt full of shame. You felt like a failure. You may even have completely shut down and stopped feel anything. Months or years may have passed before you dared announced you were starting another diet or exercise plan. How many times have you repeated this cycle of feeling like a failure? Isn't it time you break out of the cycle and finish what you started?

I've gone to a number personal growth workshops and I didn't announce them everyone, because those workshops were way out there. After four years on this program, I'm still at a loss of words to describe how or why this works. This program may be out there, but it works.

The day I began my weight loss journey, I felt a shift inside me that I couldn't put to words. Three years ago, I began this blog because when I'm at a loss for words, I write to process what I'm going through. I didn't talk to friends and family about this program, but every day I let about 300 people listen in and join in my conversation about my weight loss journey.

But I digress. My point today is this: finish what you start. Start again and again and don't give up on your plan. Ask yourself if you really want it and every time you feel like going off your program, remember how much you want this. Free yourself from the cycle of failure.

Have you fallen off your diet or exercise plan? You did not fail - you haven't finished what you started.

Tell you inner critic, that voice I refer to as your little mean girl, to hush and get right back on your plan this moment. You've been in the cycle of failure enough times to know: tomorrow never comes.
 
For those with web browsers (such as Safari) that aren't showing the image above, because of a missing Flash plug-in, here's a screenshot of my comic strip:
Don't Wait for Tomorrow, comic strip by Theresa

Feb 9, 2015

Sustainability

A few of my "non-key" friends, who want to lose weight, tell me they can't give up X, Y, or Z foods that are not on this program. They insist "it's not healthy" to give up those foods (fruit or whatever foods they say they can't give up). To which I reply "Do I look unhealthy to you?"
What are you focused on today?
I've been following this program for four years now. I have more energy than I did ten years ago and probably more than I had twenty years ago. My doctor is happy with all my numbers and I'm not on any medication. Before I started on this program I was not diabetic, but it runs in my family and, according to my doctor, I would most likely be a diabetic by now if I hadn't dropped all this weight.
I have more energy today than I did when this photo was taken in 1998
After conversations with non-key friends about the foods we eat, or more specifically: the foods we don't eat, I think about the sustainability of this way of eating. This way of eating is sustainable. Why? Because we aren't supposed to be "in the river" for the rest of our lives.

Being in the river refers to the part of our journey when we eat certain foods and we stay away from others - this is our weight loss phase. While in this phase, we stay focused on reaching our goal size.

Once we reach our goal size, we begin to cycle in and out of the river, as we add specific foods back into our diet. This cycling teaches us to maintain our goal size and we only return to the river when our clothes are tight.

But you know all this because you've been through the program.*

All this leads me to one question: What are you focused on today?

If you're focused on non-key foods--it's time to let those thoughts go. Push them back. Tap them away. Do whatever it takes to stay on course.

Keep your eye on the prize folks: stay focused on reaching your goal size.

Meanwhile, stop worrying about maintenance or how long it will take to reach your goal. Your time will come - you will reach your goal. And once you're there, you'll be just as successful at maintaining your weight as you were losing your weight.

But first - you have to reach your goal size.



*If you haven't been through the program: wait until you've finished your  first three sessions before you read this blog or any other blogs related to this program. Why? Because the less you know before you start on this journey the better. Come back after you've been through all your sessions.

Squash Crusted Asparagus Quiche

I'm on a roll with asparagus this week and here is another yummy asparagus recipe. This time we use spaghetti squash for the "crust" and then add the quiche ingredients. I haven't made this recipe, but our key-friend Kathleen made this and shared her photo with us. I modified this recipe per her recommendations.
Squash Crusted Asparagus Quiche
Like any quiche recipe, don't let the fact that you don't have one ingredient stop you from making this, use any vegetable or any kind of cheese (or no cheese at all) you have available.

Ingredients
  • 13 ounces, weight Asparagus
  • ½ Small Yellow Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/8 cup grated sharp cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Pepper
  • 1 small cooked spaghetti squash (3 cups)
  • Cooked bacon, cut into thirds
Instructions
Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus.

Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and saute onion and garlic for several minutes, until the onion is soft.

Add the asparagus and continue to saute until the asparagus has turned bright green and is soft but not limp.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper.

Grease a pie pan.

Press the cooked spaghetti squash to the sides and bottom of the pan, forming an even crust.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Add the asparagus, onion, garlic, and bacon pieces on top of the egg mixture.
Quiche before it went into the oven
Bake for 40 minutes until quiche is firm.
Squash Crusted Asparagus Quiche fully cooked
This recipe was modified from the original recipe source: Tasty kitchen

Feb 6, 2015

Asparagus Wrapped Bacon

Tasty recipes don't get much easier than this one that only has two ingredients. Thanks Inna for the recipe and your photo!
Asparagus Wrapped Bacon
Ingredients
  • 1 dozen uncooked asparagus
  •  1 dozen uncooked slices of bacon (regular or turkey)
Instructions
  1. Cut the ends off each asparagus.
  2. Wrap each asparagus with a slice of bacon.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and place all the wrapped asparagus on top.
  4. Leave in oven until the bacon is crispy and gold.

Vegetable Beef Soup

A friend from Southern California shared this recipe on Facebook and it looked so good it only took me a few days to pick up the ingredients and make this. On this third snow storm Monday shutting down most of Western Massachusetts, this is the perfect day to enjoy this soup!
Vegetable Beef Soup, photo by Theresa
The original recipe includes potatoes, which I switched out with parsnips instead. If you're not a parsnip fan, skip the parsnips or be creative and add a different veggie.

Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 6 parsnips, diced
  • 8 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I only had one 14oz can of diced tomatoes and this soup still tasted delicious)
  • 1 pound frozen green beans (I added a 12oz of fresh green beans)
  • 1 pound frozen corn
  • 4 bay leaves
Simmer soup for an hour
Instructions

Heat some olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. (I didn't add oil to the pan before adding the ground beef.)

Add the ground beef and brown. Remove ground beef from the pan and set it aside. (The recipe didn't say if you should keep the liquids from the pan or not so I kept this, which was a great choice because this soup turned out so flavorful.)

Add more olive oil to the same pot (I adde the oil this time) and then add: parsnips, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the ground beef the the pan. Pour in the beef stock, water, tomatoes, green beans, corn, and bay leaves.

Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for an hour.

Season with salt and pepper and serve!
Jennifer made this soup and said hers turned out great too.


Original recipe inspiration from All Food Recipes

Jan 31, 2015

Visions

A  few weeks ago, as my fourth anniversary on this program was approaching (today is my big day),  I skimmed through journals I'd written over the past fifteen years. As I read my journals, I realized how much my focus has shifted since my weight loss journey began. In those old journals, page after page, year after year, I resolved to lose weight this year, this time, with this diet. As I wrote those promises my weight up instead of down.
2008 versus 2015
Instead of making promises and whining about the change I wanted, four years ago I shifted my focus on living a life of change. Following Julie's advice, I visualized the size I wanted to be and every day I did my best to stay on course. Dropping seven sizes is a whole lot of change!
Top row: 2000, 2004, 2005
Middle row: 2011, 2012, 2013
Bottom row: January 2014, November 2014, January 2015
(click on image to view larger)
Along with my old journals were vision boards that I started and never finished. In 2014 I finished my first board Clarity. I started with a colorful poster board, added layers of my truths, and intentionally left open space for more things to come into my life. 
Clarity vision board (July 2014, 27x22)
I created Walk This Way in the summer of 2012. I'm not sure if this board unfinished or the start of a new theme (open spaces) in my boards. I really like is how I used this board to challenge myself to live well and be fit. After so many years of broken promises, it's nice living well and being fit!
Walk This Way vision board (July 2012, 11x14)
Becoming more clear about what I want in my life was important me after losing my job last July. If ever there was a time to Dream Big this was that time. A week after making my first vision board I created Dream Big. This board reflects the start of my focus shifting once again: away from focusing on weight loss and toward exploring other lifelong dreams. I have not given up my vision to reach my goal size. In fact I have lose more weight after I created these two boards.
Dream Big vision board (July 2014, 27x22)
After following four years on my weight loss journey, I know what to do to reach my goal size: stay in the river and keep my vision of my goal size clear in my mind.

Meanwhile, I'm living one of my big dreams: life as a regular size woman.

Clam Chowder

Ingredients
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 3-4 cans whole clams
  • 2 cans corn
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup celery diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 cups whole milk
Optional spices: ¼ tsp. celery seed or ¼ smoked paprika.
Directions

Saute butter and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook another minute or two.

Add clam juice, clams, corn, thyme, celery, and bay leaves.

Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to boil and then simmer for 25 minutes.

Add milk and bring back to boil.

Optional garnish: sprinkle of chopped parsley. 


Bacon Options

Cook 1/2 pound of diced bacon or salt pork until browned and then follow the steps listed in the recipe above. Or just before serving, top each bowl of soup with cooked bacon pieces.