Thursday, March 26, 2015

Girl Talk


This has been PMS week, and all that that implies. I can hear the collective groans from the women reading this, and imagine you nodding your heads in understanding and solidarity.

What that means, if I have any male readers who have somehow avoided this experience with female partners or family members, is that a monster takes over our bodies for a few days. Many of us lose complete control of our emotions which leads to some very unflattering behavior. There are mild cases, of course, and some women are able to ride the hormonal roller coaster relatively unscathed. I am not one of them.

For 39 years I have had the worst menstrual cycles of anyone I know. I will spare you the intimate details but suffice it to say, it ain't pretty. Not only do I feel like crap, but I am not very pleasant to be around. I want nothing more than to sit on the couch with a bottle of Motrin, bread, chocolate and Lifetime TV. By Day 29 I am wishing I could retreat by myself to a quiet hotel with room service, and hubby is packing my bags. In my younger days, I had my husband trained well; when told that it was that time of the month, he came home from work with a Cosmopolitan magazine, and a Snickers bar. And then he left me alone. Nowadays, Chip brings flowers and wine which is better for my psyche if not my liver.



Now, I admit that getting older has helped a bit, as has cleaning up my diet. I no longer have the extreme mood swings I once did. There are fewer rages and crying jags, and I don't give in to the junk food cravings because a) most of it isn't vegan and b) I don't keep it in my house and I'm too lazy to drive to a store to buy it. However, when that PMS monster shows up and makes his demands, I'll find something to feed him; this week it was French baguettes that I keep in the freezer for Chip. Never mind that they aren't on my Eating Program, that they have to be patiently defrosted and baked which gives me plenty of time to reconsider my actions. I prepared and consumed two of them, liberally slathered with Earth Balance, washed with a big glass of Chardonnay. *groan* Oh, they were delicious, I admit. Crunchy and buttery and warm, they shut up the monster and all was well, for a couple hours. But..you all know how I felt the next day, right? Yep. Like hell. Bloated and nauseated and guilty and just overall rotten. So, you know what I did?

I got right back on track.

My "penance," if you will, was waking up, getting dressed, and walking. Despite the grey clouds and drizzling rain, I walked 3+ miles, half of it against the wind. It was not fun, and I was not happy. But I did it anyway.

Foggy Beach photo 20150324_074316_zpsefcluff7.jpg

Not a Happy Walker photo 20150324_074302_zpsht6zd6t7.jpg
Lest you think I'm always gorgeous and glamorous, haha!

I came home and had my usual veggies-for-breakfast, wrote in my journal and logged into Sparkpeople, and all was well. I had a tiny setback, a few hundred calories of less-than-perfect food. That's all. It's not a crisis, just a lapse, and now it's over. Next month I'll try to do better. Period. (ha ha)

Despite all of that, I still managed to drop a few ounces and had a really good week. I'm walking 5 - 6 days per week, about 3 miles per day, and have been consistently meeting my 10,000 steps per day.  I've been keeping my food simple, haven't felt like cooking as much.


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Black Bean Tacos in Progress photo 20150323_134602_zpsfzqudjgu.jpg


Oh, and to make up for that awful selfie above, here are some cuter pics of me & Sweetie. These were taken on Sunday just before going to see the Cirque Italia. (great show, highly recommend!)

03.22.15 Michele photo 085d4a86-cbe2-4610-b3b2-cf3cb3de5b7d_zpsjt1gbqlo.jpg

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So, that's just where we're at, as my Georgia friend is fond of saying. The coming days/weeks will be more of the same eating/exercising, hopefully with positive results. The weight is coming off, ever-so-slowly, and I feel great when I stick to my program. I just need to find a better way to deal with those hormonal cravings.

Any suggestions?

Have a great day,


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

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Good morning and Happy Thursday! I should be walking right now but since yesterday was sooo foggy, I decided to wait for the sun to come out.

The past few days I've been taking care of my Grand-dog, Lucy. She and Loki have had so much fun, but they do tend to wear each other (and me!) out after a while!


Lucy sleeping photo IMG_20150309_101911_zpsz6a8wk9z.jpg

I have been walking a lot, averaging an hour per day and even 2 hours on Tuesday! The weather is finally warming up and I'm enjoying it immensely.

Food-wise, as you know I've been (somewhat loosely) following Chef AJ's Ultimate Weight Loss Program. I've been about 80% compliant, having not given up coffee nor a little bit of wine. The 21 Day Challenge has come to an end, and here are my thoughts on the experience.

  • I am still not planning to give up my 1-2 cup a day cup of coffee, but am considering dumping the creamer and/or the Stevia I use in it.
  • I can't see myself ever being a teetotaler, but I did cut way back on my wine consumption and was no worse for wear. I'm gonna be honest here: wine drinking is part of my lifestyle, and I think it's fine for me in moderation. The problem with alcohol is that it does tend to lower one's inhibitions, and can lead to some unhealthy food choices. The key is to plan ahead. This past Sunday, for example, Chip and I met a dear friend at a local bar where a favorite band was playing. Before leaving the house, I packed a baked potato and a banana in one of these adorable insulated bags and left it in the car while we enjoyed our afternoon. When hunger hit on the way home, I simply grabbed my snack and gobbled it right up, thus avoiding the I-Want-Junk-Food-Now craving that often hits in such situations. Perfect solution, and that plain little tater tided me over til dinnertime. Ta-da!


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Art & Michele photo IMG_20150308_154315_zpsftqipjme.jpg

  • While eating this way, I have been much, much less consumed by thoughts of food. When cravings do strike, which is rare, they are manageable and easily avoided or satiated with something healthy. I have been cooking a bit less, but since there's only two of us here most nights, I always have leftovers in the fridge and freezer. It's really freeing, and gives me a lot more time to do other things that don't involve food!


  • Though I've only lost a couple of pounds, I feel lighter. My clothes are a bit looser and my tummy seems flatter. 
  • Veggies for breakfast is not weird anymore! I've found these wonderful bags of microwavable vegetables, ready in 3 minutes, and now enjoy starting my day with a big bowl of 'em! I will definitely continue this habit as it really starts the day off on a good note. 
    Eat Smart photo 20150311_085913_zpsjyueprgi.jpg

    03.10.15 Breakfast photo 20150310_103238_zpskh5vzh0r.jpg

  • Now, let's talk about the "unprocessed" part, really the core of Chef AJ's program.  I've been reading tons & tons of stuff about processed foods, including this book which goes into great detail about how and why we got hooked on this stuff in the first place. It's enlightening and infuriating and makes me want to avoid anything that doesn't come directly from Mother Nature! However..I do live in the real world and enjoy the occasional veggie burger, Gardein product and restaurant meal. I'm not willing to forgo those things entirely, but I will be eating much, much less of them in the future, and sticking to companies I feel I can trust. I will be writing more on this later when I'm finished with the book. 

So, last night I "celebrated" the end of the program with a less-than-perfectly-compliant meal: Stir fry in my new wok, a treat to myself for achieving my latest weight loss goal. No recipe here, just took a bag of stir fry veggies and added a package of Gardein Szechuan strips, served over brown rice. I'm sorry I don't have a pic of the finished product because Kristyn and I gobbled it up too quickly, but it was delicious!


New Wok photo 20150311_181323_zpsf2oemhpy.jpg

Gardein Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips photo 20150311_181334_zpsx37rb1al.jpg

Stir Fry in Progress photo 20150311_181315_zpsycp1c9me.jpg

Ooh, just looked out the window and the sun is shining brightly. Off I go, have a great day!


Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday Progress Report

The past few days have been pretty much the same, eating (mostly) whole low-fat foods with minimal processing.

Breakfast is about a pound of veggies and some type of starch, usually potatoes.

Broccoli and Potatoes for Breakfast photo collage_20150304114357351_zpsiobjqqmr.jpg

Lunch is a salad and leftovers from the night before.


And dinner is a low-fat soup/stew, sometimes served over a potato.

Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew photo 20150306_132842_zpsooqp66bn.jpg

Zuppa Vegana photo IMG_20150304_134105_zpsqznwdvr7.jpg

I walked a few times, actually met a fitness goal of mine by reaching a certain spot on the beach I've been eyeing for a while now!

03.05.15 Beach Walk photo 1425561190191_zpsny2umkwl.jpg

03.05.15 Beach Walk2 photo 1425562436504_zpsr0cijake.jpg

I am still having my morning coffee and a glass of wine here & there, but have cut back substantially on my salt intake. I ordered these salt-free spices from Benson's and have been enjoying experimenting with them.

Bensons Spices photo 20150305_113457_zpsftvlnjbk.jpg

Overall, things are going very well. I'm experiencing fewer cravings for junk food and even though the scale isn't moving much, my clothes feel looser and my tummy looks flatter! I'll take that progress any day!

I'll pop back later in the week with some recipes.

Have a great day,


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Milestone

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I would like to thank vegetables, fruits, legumes and Mother Nature for the number on the scale this morning. Thanks to healthy, whole food and miles of beach walks, I have lost 15 pounds! Last year I dropped 10 lbs of it, the rest has come off in the past month,  3+ of those in the past nine day since eliminating bread and (most) processed food from my diet.

I admit: this hasn't been easy. I was feeling rather discouraged yesterday, looking at my plain breakfast..


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Steamed Purple Potatoes photo 20150303_104000_zpshgbt6ahj.jpg

and thinking about what I could be having instead. I was feeling a little sorry for myself, but then I opened Wendy's blog while I was eating my bowl of greens. This post, and this image, hit me like a ton of bricks! Her story is so similar to mine, I felt like I'd written it myself. This is exactly what I needed to keep on going so thank you, Wendy!



I went on to have a successful day. I ate a yummy taco salad for lunch, then I went on a nice long beach walk. I didn't quite hit my 10,000 steps goal, but I got close and that counts!



So today will be more of the same, but with more steps and less whining. As much as I hate to admit it 'cause I really love my bread and processed vegan foods, this works. I'm still processing the fact that I may never be able to eat those products again, at least not on a regular basis, so for now I'll just do the one-day-at-a-time thing and focus on my goals, and my successes!

I'll be back later to post a yummy recipe, but for now I have some walking to do.

Have a lovely day,





Monday, March 2, 2015

In Like a Lion




Well, here we are in March already, can you believe it?! I'm not sure if I can relate to the old "lion/lamb" adage since we don't have true winters here in Florida, but the weather has been pretty wild here this season! We almost set record lows a couple of times, and hit 29 degrees here in Ormond Beach last month. That is pretty darned cold for us Floridians! I can feel the coming of Spring, though, and am looking forward to sunny, warm days with long beach walks. I'm tired of grey skies and unpredictable temperatures, and am really sick to death of winter foods! Since I've been getting my produce from Front Porch Pickings, I am eating more seasonally than ever before which is definitely a good thing, but I'm bored of squash, cauliflower, and kale. I'm ready for some variety, Mother Nature!

Last week I stuck pretty close to my eating plan. Tons of veggies, a few fruits, potatoes and minimal processed food.

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Lentil Taco "Meat" over Baked Potato
Brussels Sprouts, ready for roasting photo 20150228_074512_zpsla9ikzuy.jpg
Brussels Sprouts, ready for roasting

I tracked most days on Sparkpeople, and went for a few walks. TMI alert: I had my period, so was feeling like crap for several days, still managed to stay mostly on program and didn't eat one bite of chocolate. Ladies, you know how hard this is, right?! I drank wine and coffee, but a little less than usual. No bread. No flour. Reduced Salt. I listened to Chef AJ's lectures and watched the DVD's. I was as compliant as I am willing to be. For example, even when Chip and I went out for date night (to celebrate our anniversary!), I avoided the happy hour snacks. No chips, nuts or bread. I didn't even go out for dinner, just ate at home. We went to a movie, and I said no to the popcorn! Instead I enjoyed the steamed edamame appetizer with a little bit of sea salt. (I love our local theater!). This was HUGE for me! To me, a movie just isn't the same without popcorn! But I did it, and I survived.

In a nutshell, here's how the week went:

The Pros:
  •  Even with the bloating and period symptoms, I dropped 2.5 pounds. Of course I am thrilled by this!
  •  I wasn't hungry and had very few cravings. I felt in control. I felt energetic and motivated, except for the two days when cramps had me sitting on the couch binge watching my favorite tv shows 
  •  My rings felt looser so I must not have been retaining as much water. 
The Cons:
  • With apologies to the Chef, I didn't care for the food on the Ultimate Weight Loss menu plan. Not only were they sort've bland, but many of them use mustard as a base. I'm not a fan of condiments overall (I know, I'm weird) and think mustard belongs on (vegan) hot dogs and pretzels. Period. 
  • The recipes made waaaaaay too much! I could've fed all of my family and still had leftovers. Seriously, each recipe made approximately 12 huge portions. I say approximately because Chef AJ does not list portion sizes which brings me to my next complaint.. 
  •  The portion sizes aren't listed, making it a challenge to figure out the nutritional content. Chef AJ intentionally leaves this out because she wants you to eat mindfully, stopping when you're full and not worry about calories. Well, that simply doesn't work for me. If it did, I wouldn't be overweight in the first place! Without portion sizes I feel out of control, and I don't want to work so hard to figure it out myself.
  •  I missed seasoning. Not necessarily pure salt, but the salty mixes I've grown to love, the ones that make my veggies and potatoes more palatable. I did order the Benson's no-salt seasoning and am waiting for it to arrive, perhaps that will help the situation. I don't have an issue with blood pressure and am only cutting back on salt because it's suggested by the experts. If I can't find a suitable replacement, I'll go back to lightly sprinkling/seasoning. 
  • As much as I love vegetables, it's tough to eat a pound of them for breakfast. I tried spinach and nearly gagged. Then I tried kale which is great but not at that volume/amount. This morning I decided one of these mixes, but when I discussed it on the UWL site, I was reminded of the salt content. Dammit! 
 

So, this week's plan will be much of the same, but I'll go back to the tried & true low-fat, whole food recipes such as those on Susan's website. I'll find some vegetable mixes without salt, if possible, but if not I will just deal with it. I think filling up on vegetables is more important than avoiding sodium, at least for me. I'll continue to follow the challenge and follow at my own pace, the way that is right for myself, and see what happens.

Here's what I'm planning to make:

Hope your month is off to a great start!





Thursday, February 26, 2015

February Catch-Up

Wow, it's been nearly a month since I've posted. How are you all? What have you been up to? It's been pretty busy around here, here's a few pics to catch up...


We installed a much-needed new fence..

Fence in Progress photo 20150219_134823_zpsq3wvyomm.jpg

and did a bit of landscaping, with Loki's help..

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I (finally) did a few beach walks..

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We went to Gainesville to visit the kids and celebrate Lindsey's birthday...

Chip and Loki driving photo 20150207_103047_zps2rgu850d.jpg

Lindsey's Birthday Cake photo 20150218_212623_zpsgylzvnns.jpg

Kristyn making Lindsey's Birthday Cake photo 20150218_212408_zpsfdow8a7z.jpg

Brynna, Lindsey & Cake photo 20150218_215230_zpswj7n1xjh.jpg

Lucy & Loki photo 20150218_090122_zpsedolzhna.jpg

Kristyn & Lindsey photo 20150218_173600_zpsvbbrzt5a.jpg

Oh, and as far as diet, I've kicked it up a notch. I've realized that as much as I love delicious vegan foods like this:

Kale Cafe Veggie Burger photo 20150213_123942_zpshp59tbik.jpg
Kale Cafe Veggie Burger

Lunch at Kristyn's House photo 20150218_130745_zpskygbqcc3.jpg
Soup & Sandwich lunch at Kristyn's house

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Bagel case, Bagels & Noodles, Gainesville

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Stir-Fry Veggies in Chile Sauce over Pasta, Billy's Tap Room, Ormond Beach

Cauliflower, Roasted photo IMG_20150125_171037_zpsp2uxq22n_1.jpg
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Italian White Bean & Sausage Soup photo 20150215_135118_zpsrbbwfej5.jpg
Italian White Bean and Sausage Soup

Apple Crisp photo 20150215_135314_zpsir4tn8ic.jpg
Apple Crisp 

Siam Tofu with Thai Chili Sauce leftovers photo 20150123_120411_zpsrniopp4k_1.jpg
Siam Tofu with Thai Chili Sauce leftovers, Thai Erawan, Ormond Beach

I do much better if I eat like this:

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Steamed Collard Greens and Roasted Potatoes

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Roasted Potatoes and Steamed Spinach

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Weekly Produce Delivery from Front Porch Pickings

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Steamed Kale and Chipotle-Kissed Red Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

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Baked Seasoned "Fries"

Kristyn's Pink Grapefruit photo 20150218_090005_zpsp6knax5m.jpg
Pink Grapefruit in Kristyn's yard; Gainesville

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Fresh Collard Greens ready for steaming

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Raw Cauliflower

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Baked Sweet Potato with Steamed Greens

The difference between the two styles of eating: The second group of food has no added oil and is unprocessed.  No bread. No pasta. No faux meats. Just plain food, as close to Mother Nature intended as possible.

This week I've been listening to lectures by Chef AJ and turning back to my McDougall books, experimenting with recipes and observing what happens with my body when I eat more "cleanly." What I've discovered, time and time again, is that when I eliminate the processed foods, breads and oils, I feel better. My food cravings subside. And I lose weight. I'm down 2 pounds since Monday. It may seem extreme to some, but if I'm every going to reach goal weight and achieve optimum health, I have to do what works for me, for my particular chemistry. It's not easy, and I'm not 100% compliant. While the bread and frozen "meat" products are relatively easy to eliminate, I'm not willing to give up my morning coffee with non-dairy creamer, or, frankly, my wine! I understand that these are issues for some people and maybe down the line I'll change my mind, but for now I think I can still enjoy an occasional happy hour and my one cup of java per day.

So, that's where I am right now. I'd love to hear thoughts, opinions from those of you who have tried this way of eating, I can use all of the inspiration I can get!