The Last Hurrah

Well folks, I’ve come to a decision.

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Yes…?

Okay, fine, if you want to get technical, it’s a decision I’ve made about a trillion times in my life thus far. But that DOES NOT INVALIDATE IT THIS TIME AROUND OKAY?!

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I’m listening.

Yep, I’m forrealsies getting back on the weight loss wagon. Cue the groans. I know, I say it a lot. And while I have been doing okay since my post-holiday weigh-in announcement–cooking at home more, making conscientious choices, balancing my plate–I haven’t REALLY sunk back into things, not fully. But that’s all about to change.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a “works best under pressure” kind of gal. Give me generic, non-time specific things to aim for, and I’ll procrastinate for pretty much ever. But give me a deadline? A finite time, an actual goal, a finish line to cross? And I’m so down the rest of the world seems up. Which is why in the past, my weight loss has been most successful when peppered with milestones and goals to hit and surpass. These could be any number of things–something as literal as a 5K race I need to train for, or a little looser. And my next deadline is definitely one of the latter, but it’s a goal that I intend to reach nonetheless.

On May 11th of this year, my big brother is getting married. And because his fiancee is awesome and has excellent taste in friends, I am one of the bridesmaids. On MLK day, we went shopping for our bridesmaid dresses and I found one that I actually think is pretty awesome. It’s flattering, it’s comfortable, and it ACTUALLY has re-wearability potential. Now, I obviously love my brother. We’re pretty close, even as far as siblings go–we live together (own our house together, actually), and we do it without wanting to kill each other on a daily basis (most of the time). And on his wedding day, I want to look as good as possible standing up there next to my future sister-in-law, so that I’m not feeling self-conscious or out of place or awkward about my body. So that I feel nothing but pride and love and admiration (and, sure, a little bit jealous) for the happy couple. So, I did something that you’re totally not supposed to do. I ordered my dress a size too small.

Now, TECHNICALLY, the dress fits. But it doesn’t, uh, fit… good. (The term “back fat” comes to mind.) And in order to make it fit without pinching or pulling or being generally unattractive in the arm/underarm/upperback area (it’s strapless), I know I should drop about 10 libbies. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, especially not for something that’s 4 months away. Not that tough of a goal to hit, in the grand weight loss scheme of things. But we all know my body doesn’t quite lose weight the way it used to (I guess that’s a good thing though, when you really think about it), and at least this IS a goal. Something concrete to really strive for. And obviously if I end up losing more than that, then great! But I think that 10 pounds is a really good goal for me. It’s attainable and not impossible. It’s finite. It’s definite. And it’s NECESSARY.

So here we are. Starting anew (again). But I know what I have to do this time, and even though I don’t always LIKE the sharing and the accountability and the giving other people license to call me out (I mean, to be fair, who DOES like that?), I AM GOING TO DO IT. And do it right. With the three c-words that have come to be more evil to me than the ACTUAL c-word: calorie counting, cardio, and carb-watching.

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Oh, my precious carbs…

Now, the timing of this revelation and remotivation actually came quite fortuitously (or not-fortuitously, depending on your feelings on “last hurrahs”) because I had already made plans with my friends Lara and Sabrina to have a huge baking party at my house this weekend. Full scale, with cupcakes and me getting to try out the new donut pan I got for Christmas and everything. Heh, oops.

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But as I said, it worked out quite fortuitously because it definitely gave me the ability to feel like I was going out (of maintenance mode) with a bang. You know, it put a real finality to the maintenance/I-still-say-I’m-trying-to-lose-weight-but-really-I’m-not phase that I’ve been in for the past… year. Made it feel, I dunno, a little more momentous. Which I honestly think will help with my transition back into the thick of things (soon to be the thin of things. Get it? Eh? Ehhhhhh??).

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So I made baked apple cinnamon donuts (I’ve decided that the recipe needs some serious tweaking before I can really post it on here, but for those of you who are looking for one, I was making modifications to this Tasty Kitchen recipe) and enjoyed every last delicious morsel of my sugar rush.

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And Sabrina made chocolate-banana cupcakes…

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… that had TWO delicious layers because she all fancy.

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And Lara? Well, she made something out of this cookbook:

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So at least I wasn’t the only one stuffing my piehole.

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I HAD SEVEN.

Now, you know when I say that this was my “last hurrah,” I don’t really mean that I’m never going to be able to eat cupcakes… or donuts… or dog treats (FINE I TRIED ONE OKAY?!) every again. You know that I am actually pretty against any kind of deprivation-style diet, preferring to plant myself squarely in the realm of moderation (like, you can eat any fracking thing you want, just as long as you keep track of your portions) instead. So I won’t be cutting anything out of my life completely, but I will be monitoring things more carefully. And I’m not going to be able to bake with reckless abandon, or go through my day snacking on this and that, or being like, oh, just let me pop into the fridge to see–oh hey, that looks good!

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So you’d all better hope I enjoyed this donut. Well, okay, it’s pretty obvious that I did.

So here we go. I’m launching myself straight into the wild blue yonder… of weight loss… or something… and propelling straight towards that finish line I can just baaaarely see lingering on the horizon. May 11th, 10+ pounds. Allons-y!

(Now, if only I could dream up the same kind of deadline to propel me towards actually getting my crap together with regard to writing book 2, eh?)

The Game Plan: Act II, Part II (Weigh-in)

So you may have noticed that despite my entirely too verbose explanation of my weight gain, and my resolution to get back on the wagon weight-loss-wise, there hasn’t been a whole lot of talk about it on here since. Well, I am very happy to be able to say that it is NOT because I am (yet again) failing to live up to my word. I am still dead-set on getting my body (and my life!) back on track, and am very much working on it. Snaps for Gretchen!

It’s just that I don’t want to simply keep going through the same motions as I have been. It’s boring. And continually blogging about the exact same things is boring too. So I’m taking this opportunity (Act II, as it were) to not JUST post my weigh-ins and what I’m eating and what I’m doing, but also to really try and look at the reasons that I gained weight back in the first place. That’s not to say that I won’t also be doing quite a bit of the former, since that’s like, you know, what I do, but you get what I’m trying to say. And in that vein, since I kind of forgot that yesterday was Wednesday, let’s go ahead and pretend that it still is (except… not really… because, well, duh.)

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 206.1 lbs
This Weigh-in: 203.8 lbs
Difference: -2.4 lbs

Hey, it’s a start! 2 pounds in 2 weeks. Sounds like a slow-and-steady start to me. And that’s with traveling to HLS and everything. I’ll take it!

So! The last time I talked about my weight loss game plan, it was identifying that I needed to get back into a breakfast habit. And not just slammin’ down a bowl of Peanut Butter Puffins (delicious though they may be), but a real, GOOD breakfast. In fact, I already touched on how my breakfasts were super carb-heavy and did not include the satiating and long-lasting proteins and fats that I really need to keep my hunger at bay. Well, Part II of the game plan is in a similar vein: reevaluating my carb intake.

First off, let me go ahead and remind you all that I am most definitively NOT of a low-carb/no-carb philosophy. Heeeeells no! Carbs make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands are healthy(er) people. Plus, no matter what Dr. Atkins may have said, carbs are not bad for you. Refined, super processed, simple carbs certainly aren’t good for you in mass quantity, but unrefined, whole grains really are good stuff! That said, the saying “too much of a good thing” is particularly apt when it comes to carbs. After all…

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… they’re kind of my favorite. Heh.

And I eat a lot of them. But the fact of the matter is, I’m just not active enough to burn up all the carbohydrates that I consume. A diet that was carb-heavy was fine when I was training for races and whatnot, but when my activity level lapses and I’m still eating the same amount of carbohydrates (even though my calories are still within a weight-loss range), where is all that glucose and whatnot going to go? Straight into my already more-than-ample fat stores.

So! My girl Cassie recently has been posting about trying to limit her post-lunchtime carbs (she read Bob Harper’s “The Skinny Rules” and one of his tenets is “No carbs after lunch.”). Now, while I’m not sure I really plan on adhering to such a strict rule (since hard-n-fast rules don’t really work for me anyway), it has been food for thought (pun totally intended). I want to be able to say I’m fueling my body properly, which means maintaining a good BALANCE and RATIO of carbs, fat, AND protein.

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I prefer my carbs in the form of pie, please.

I will never live a life that doesn’t include french fries, but I also know that french fries + bread + rice + cereal + pasta does not exactly equal the balanced diet I’m striving for. Plus, this initiative will hopefully drive me back to being a little more creative in the kitchen, to help me figure out ways to build meals that don’t base themselves around those aforementioned carb types. In fact, just yesterday, Cassie posted a pasta-less lasagna recipe that looks kind of ridiculously amazing.

So, there you have it! 2 pounds down, and quite a lot more to go. But hopefully by the time they’re gone I’ll have figured out how to really make it stick.

A Worthy Replacement

There’s no denying the fact that I am a pasta lover.

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Rigatoni, farfalle, rotini, spaghetti, linguini, rice noodles, egg noodles…

Take a bite!

Just give me some sort of noodle and some kind of sauce to go alongside it, and I am a happy, happy girl. Unfortunately, eating tons of this carb-y goodness isn’t exactly conducive to the whole weight loss thing I’m still attempting to complete. Especially when the aforementioned sauces generally tend to be buttery and creamy and oh-so-artery-cloggingly delicious.

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While I do have a few healthy pasta recipes that are delicious and nutritious in my arsenal, I still have a big problem with proper portioning. A mere two ounces of spaghetti is supposed to be a serving, and that’s simply never enough.

Day 206 - Pasta in a Jar.
(photo by ben)

So a couple nights ago, I finally decided to bite the bullet and try out yet another fad I’ve been seeing grace the healthy living blogosphere for a while: spaghetti squash!

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I recognize that these photos look like ish because I forgot to swap lenses, but please just bear with me. After all, I’ve got a MIRACLE to share here!

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Because surely nothing less than a miracle could be responsible for a vegetable tasting almost exactly like pasta, right? Label me officially flabbergasted.

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I split a spaghetti squash in half, de-seeded it, and sprinkled salt & pepper over it. I then threw both halves onto a baking sheet and baked/roasted/whatevered them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes… but then got really, really impatient when it wasn’t cooked by then. Soooo, I put them on a plate and finished them in the microwave – 5 minutes on high with a paper towel draped on top. Obviously if you were a non-crazy person, you might actually look up appropriate cooking times and/or methods, but hey, it worked out!

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Once cooked through, the flesh becomes soft and the spaghetti-shaped strands (hence, er, the name. Duh.) just pull away from the sides. You get a TON of “noodles” out of a single squash. The picture above shows the amount I got from only one of the halves!

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I cooked up a sauce with ground turkey, onion, garlic, broccoli, and spinach — in a tomato sauce + alfredo sauce base. Then I added a splash of almond milk to thin it out, seasoned it, and voila! I won’t lie: of course the texture is a bit different than real pasta. But the squash tastes SO much like spaghetti, I honestly could NOT believe my tastebuds! It barely has a squashy (haha) flavor at all, and pairs SO well with sauce. I was hesitant at first to jump on the spaghetti squash bandwagon, but now? Well, consider me a convert.

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Want to hear the best part? A cup of spaghetti squash has — are you ready for this? — 42 calories. FORTY-TWO CALORIES! Compare that to the 200+ calories you’d likely be looking at with the same amount of whole wheat pasta, then go try this magical vegetable for yourself. I may still need to work on my portioning problems, but at least with this I can overeat guilt-free, hahaha.

Have you tried spaghetti squash before? Have you used it as a pasta replacement/substitution? There are only a few substitutions that are really worthwhile (plain greek yogurt for sour cream is one of them), but this has definitely made the list.

Weight Loss 101: Mythbusters

Coming back from the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO I have a lot of inspiration for posts and practices to implement! One interesting session was titled “Carbs are the Devil! And Other Nutrition Myths Demystified“, and I thought it was especially pertinent to this blog. Plus, I’ve been thinking about doing a Weight Loss 101 post on weight loss myths for a while now. Fate! Utilizing information from that session (which was created and led by RDs), as well as some of the information I’ve discovered through pure trial-and-error of my own, it’s time to bust some heads myths wiiiide open!

Mythbusters!
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Disclaimer: While some of the information provided in this post has been provided by registered dietitians, I am not a nutrition or medical professional. I encourage you to utilize your own research and experience in conjunction with my own to draw your conclusions on the validity of my statements.

Myth: Skipping meals will help you lose weight.

Duck!

BUSTED! Skipping meals and snacks will cause your metabolism to slow down and make your calorie-burning ability less effective,. In fact, eating smaller, nutritious meals every 3 – 4 hours (lean protein + high-fiber carb) will be more conducive to keeping your metabolism high and will increase your ability to lose weight while keeping you full and satisfied.

Fact: When I started eating more frequent, smaller meals I FELT like I was eating more than when I was trying to skip meals in attempts to skip calories. Feeling fuller while eating less and thus losing weight? Yes please!

Myth: Don’t eat past 8 PM.

Busted! Caloric deficit, regardless of the actual times you’re consuming those calories, will result in weight loss! So if you’ve hit 8 PM and you’ve only consumed 1200 calories that day, go ahead and have a snack if you’re hungry! The only problem occurs if you are prone to late-night snacking when you’re not hungry. Obviously anytime you are eating when you’re not hungry will probably hinder your weight loss.

Fact: Caloric deficit is as caloric deficit does. It doesn’t really matter what time of day you stop eating as long as you’re still creating a window for weight loss. However, I know that I do have to watch my late-night snacking because I am far more likely to want to down half a pint of coconut milk ice cream than some hummus and crackers. And if I do end up going a little crazy at night, I just don’t have the opportunity to balance out the calories with other meals or work them off, ‘s all.

Myth: Going gluten-free will help you lose weight.


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BUSTED! Going gluten-free is only truly necessary if you have Celiacs disease or another gluten-intolerance, and won’t help you lose weight on its own. Unless, that is, there’s a caloric deficit being created anyway. But solely by the act of cutting gluten out of your diet alone you will not lose weight, and in fact, gluten-free products tend to be higher in calories compared to their gluten-inclusive counterparts.

Fact: The sheer act of cutting a group of foods out of your diet is never a guarantee that you’ll lose weight (with a variation of the exception for carbs, but we’ll address that next.) Even going vegan is not a guarantee that you’ll drop a single pound, and I know that from first-hand experience!

Myth: Bread makes you fat.


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Bread makes you fat?!?

BUSTED! Carbs rock. They’re delicious. And as a former Atkins devotee, I can also tell you that while yes, you can and probably will lose weight if you cut all carbs out of your diet, it will not last. The second you start eating bread, pasta, potatoes, or sugar again, you’ll start gaining the weight back. In fact, if you’re a carboholic like me, you’ll probably end up gaining more weight than you lost, because you felt so deprived of all that glorious carb-y goodness!

Fact: Carbs are a source of energy for our bodies, and they make us feel happy and satisfied (actually increasing the levels of serotonin in our brains! Which is why you can see it’s easy to go overboard on them.) Just try to ensure that the majority of the carbs in your diet come from whole-grain, high-fiber sources.

What are some other diet myths we can bust wide open? Or maybe you’re unsure if it’s really a myth or not? Let’s find out together!