Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Losing Weight While Maintaining Normal Family Meals

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, "Do you eat different foods than the rest of your family?"  The short answer is, "Yes and no."

When I changed my lifestyle, I didn't tell people.  I didn't want scrutiny and pressure, and I didn't want people to feel awkward around me.  I wanted the freedom to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, and without judgment.  It was important to me that my kids not see me as being obsessed with calorie counting.  Children and adolescents are extremely impressionable, and it pains me greatly to hear moms obsess about weight in front of their kids, especially their daughters.  They are setting an example that will be permanent in the minds of their children.

Meals that I cook at home are typically a meat, a veggie or two, and a starch.  My plate will usually have a serving of meat, a double or triple serving of veggies, and a tiny (if at all) serving of the starchy food, depending on my caloric intake that particular day.  If I do a one-dish meal that is more fattening, I may fix myself something different.  It is still important to sit down together and focus on the fellowship, not on the difference in what is on our plate.  My kids know that they are growing and it is important for them to eat many more calories than I.  I stress the fact that I would like them to eat mostly healthy foods, but that I will in no way restrict the amount of food they take in.

It is possible to lose weight while raising a family.  It is beneficial to the family to see healthier options available to them.  Several times, my kids have seen me prepare something fresh and healthy for myself and they have been enticed by the beauty or the scent of the food.  They have tried and sometimes enjoyed foods that would not have even been in the house had I not changed my habits. 

Social Networking and Weight Loss

Since beginning my healthy lifestyle journey on Feb 20, I have looked to social media to help keep me motivated. When I was tracking using Livestrong, I would read the threads in the communities there. Although I didn't participate in the conversation, I found a lot of helpful information. 
Instagram has been a fun place for me to find motivation and ideas. If you search hashtags that apply to weight loss or healthy living, you'll find more info than you can process.
Weight loss groups on Facebook are abundant.  I'm not on Facebook,  but if I were, I would likely take advantage of this.
There is nothing so powerful as a before/during/after photo comparison,  and social media makes that possible.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Eating the Good Stuff and Loving It

Developing healthy eating habits will, many times, involve eating a larger quantity of food and eating more often.  For me, boosting my metabolism was important.  Before Feb 20, 2014, I started almost every morning with a Starbucks bottled mocha frappucino.  There.  It’s out.  How embarrassing.  Mornings are busy for me, obviously.  I’ve never been a breakfast eater.  These bottled drinks can make you feel full for several hours, and they give a burst of energy.  Just a burst.  

When I changed my lifestyle, I started out with a yogurt and a piece of fruit in the morning.  Within a couple of months, I started using low cal toasted bread with a generous smear of peanut butter.  I placed a sliced banana on top, and sprinkled it with cinnamon.  This is still my favorite.  It tastes like a donut to me.  Hard boiled eggs would be a great choice if I were crazy about them.  I’m not.  I do love fried eggs, but don’t usually have time for all of that in the morning.

Because I teach, my lunch time is limited and I’m still “on duty” at lunch.  I do enjoy most of the Weight Watchers frozen meals, and I stock up on them when on sale.  If I had more time to prepare my own lunches, I could have healthier options.  This has worked for me so far, and I only eat them at school when I don’t have something healthy and filling ready to take with me.  I always take time for lunch now.  Nothing will be more important than getting my fuel.  

My morning and afternoon snacks are typically fresh fruit, a string cheese, a 100 cal pack of almonds, or something equivalent.  When I first started, I ate at least a bag of Fit Active microwave popcorn per day.  That was my afternoon snack and sometimes again at night.  It gave me the crunch and faint saltiness I needed.  You could add zero calorie toppings, but I didn’t want to add more sodium.

In the early months, I had eggs at least a couple of evenings each week.  A lot of people say that it is difficult to lose weight when cooking for a family.  I get that, and there were plenty of nights where I set down to a plate of eggs when I had fixed something different for everyone else.  Other options were to skip the starch (or just have a spoonful) and load up on whatever veggie and meat I had fixed, or just have a smaller amount of everything I fixed for the family.  Since I placed a high priority on being “full” when I finished my food, I typically went for the limited starch/loads of veggies approach. 

With eggs, I switch it up.  I can do them in a wrap with lite sour cream and salsa on top for a southwestern flavor.  I love them scrambled with baby spinach and roma tomatoes. 

For my sweet snacks, I typically choose a fruity yogurt sorbet bar or a frozen fudge bar.  These range from 70-120 calories, and have been a lifesaver for me. 

A favorite lunch for me in the spring and summer was a skinny bun (flat) from Aldi (100 cal), turkey breast, light mayo, light cheese (sometimes), any and all veggies on top, with a side of Fit Active cheddar flavor mini rice cakes (these are more like chips).  I would add fresh fruit to my plate, and come away very satisfied. 

Since I wasn’t a water drinker, I substituted Crystal Light for my soda addiction.  They have great flavors and I loved them as long as they were ice cold.  I realize they contain a sugar substitute and they aren’t the best option, but it was definitely better than what I was used to putting into my body. 

I have placed a high priority on not 
allowing myself to get very hungry.  If my stomach growls, I'd better find food fast! Lol!  This is an important key to me staying on track.  Most of my weight came from emergency eating...aka grabbing whatever was quick and accessible and then eating way too much of it because I felt famished.  It's safe to say, I eat far more often now than I did 60lbs ago. 

Oh, and I almost forgot...a tablespoon of peanut butter before bed.  Seriously. 






Crunching the Numbers Instead of the Potato Chips :-)

One of the first things someone will ask when talking about weight loss is, “How long did it take?”  Like I said before, I didn’t really make this change to lose weight.  Once I started losing, it was a combination of seeing and feeling the results that kept me going.  Since details are fun, here ya go:

In the first 6 weeks, I lost 20lbs.  Understand that a lot of this was water weight and the result of cutting Starbucks bottled drinks, Coke, and Dr. Pepper out of my life.  I was drinking probably 1,000-1,200 calories a day on average.

During the second 6 weeks, I lost 13lbs.  This included the period of time that I went to IHC and Student Convention.  I was nervous about how I would do with traveling and being way out of routine for days at a time.  Apparently, I did fine.

June - 6lbs   Two weeks at church camp - I was creative in my choices, and only had cheese sticks at the snack stand 3x.  :-)

July – 4.2lbs

August – 4lbs.  This included 6 days on our Smoky Mountain vacation.  Once again, I planned my indulgences.

September – 7lbs  Interesting how going back to school probably helped me lose a little more. 

October – 6.2lbs 

November - 4lbs Thank you, Thanksgiving!

I set my calorie counter to lose two pounds per week, and my activity level to light activity.  Notice that in these months I was closer to a 1.5lb per week average. That’s because I’m not on a diet.  I changed my lifestyle.  I indulge.  I enjoy myself.  And I will continue to do that, even if it means I only lose 3-4lbs per month.

Slower weight loss is better for me for several reasons:

  • Loose skin will tighten better with slower loss
  • My clothes last longer
  • It is sustainable
*If you're just jumping into the conversation, see all posts tagged weight loss.

I'm Back - And I Lost Something!

I can’t believe that almost ten months have passed since my last post!  2014 has been such a good year so far, and I’m here to tell you a little about why it was so positive (cue the applause from all the sistas who have been waiting to read this). 

In September, I posted a success on Instagram.  It was a comparison photo of me from May/September, and marked a 50lb weight loss.  Several of you wanted details, and I’m getting to that now.  This is going to require several posts where I’ll give more specifics, but this should help encourage you or inspire you if you’re feeling ready to accept a lifestyle change.  I’ll stick mostly to facts now, and get into the rest in other posts.

During the month of February 2014, I became motivated to change my eating habits to see if it would help me feel better.  I was always lethargic and lacked the energy to get through a normal day, much less the somewhat demanding life of a wife/mom/Christian day school teacher.  I’m not sure what caused me to be so resolute, but I knew that something had to change or I was going to break.  I couldn’t keep going.  I really didn’t think that excess weight really had a lot to do with anything, but I knew that poor nutrition did impact me and that’s what I set out to change.  In the back of my mind, I knew that if I lost weight it would be an added bonus.  I didn’t necessarily expect it, basically because I was conditioned to think that weight loss was a tricky or difficult thing for women.  I guess all the hype about weight in our society affected me more than I realized.

Needless to say, I changed my eating habits (no exercise involved to date), and the pounds started melting.  Here are the facts:

  • I used Livestrong to track my caloric intake (smartphone app or computer)
  • Breakfast every single day
  • Morning snack
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon snack
  • Dinner
  • Bedtime snack
  • Cut soda (even diet soda)
  • Increased water intake (not nearly enough, but hey…anything is better than nothing!)

This is what I did.  Nothing spectacular.  I tracked for eight months solid, missing maybe 10 days during that time.  This is where a lot of people fail.  They say they are too busy or don’t feel like tracking.  I say if you want change, you’ll track.  ;-)

I reached another milestone this week.  I’m now carrying 60 less pounds around with me, and it feels amazing.  See the next post for how I learned to make better choices, cutting my caloric intake by 50% while eating filling foods.

Photo on left was within two weeks of starting, photo on right was October 15.
Feb 20-Dec 2  60+ lbs lost

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Heavenly Sweet & Sour Ck

My family has always enjoyed chicken dishes from Chinese restaurants, but I've never been brave enough to try this type of recipe at home. I'm not sure why...I guess I figured it would be a flop.

A few days ago, after a major craving for Chinese, I decided to browse recipes to see if I could find anything that looked easy enough for me. Here's what I ended up doing...

*From Life In The Lofthouse

Fried Rice

3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best!)
3 Tablespoons sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3-4 Tablespoons soy sauce
  On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  Add the peas/carrots mix, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour your eggs on the other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated!

*And from The Recipe Critic:

Sweet and Sour Chicken


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

1½ cup cornstarch

3 eggs, beaten

¼ cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons ketchup

¼ cup white vinegar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.

In separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic salt. Pour over chicken and bake for 1 hour.

I stirred the chicken every 15 minutes so that it coated them in the sauce.

This was the result. Both recipes were amazing! I pretty much doubled the
 chicken recipe, and my family wiped it out. 
Cannot wait to have this again.  :-)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Best Lasagna Ever.

If you're willing to put forth the energy necessary to bake this lil' culinary masterpiece, I promise you'll not be disappointed. Leftovers are amazing. If you're lucky, you'll have a little leftover.  ;-)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year, Fresh Perspective

This blog has been mostly silent for the last few months. I'll admit, it hasn't been difficult to pull myself away from sharing my thoughts. In fact, it feels almost awkward for me to type them now. 2013 was a different kind of year for me. I still haven't figured it all out, so I'm certainly not going to try to sort through it here and spread the confusion. :-)

I think in some ways I disappointed myself by not accomplishing many of my goals for the year. If you know me or have followed the blog, you understand that the second half of the year was completely rocked by my ankle fracture and the subsequent healing process. Many of my friends  encountered circumstances that were and are far more life-changing than mine, and I'm thankful that God gives each of us exactly enough grace to live an abundant life no matter the obstacles. However, I was more than ready to kiss 2013 goodbye and welcome a new year!

I love this list that I plan to use to help stay focused and accountable in 2014.  Asking myself these questions at the end of each day will provide a simple way for me to know whether or not I am making progress in getting my groove back.  :-)

More than ever before, my ultimate purpose is to:
  • live a life that is a pleasing sacrifice to God
  • be the amazing wife that my husband deserves
  • nurture my children toward a deeper relationship with Christ
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans."
Proverbs 16:3

I'm excited about 2014.  Not because it will be perfect, but because of the potential it holds.  And because He has promised to walk with me every single day of this year.  That, my friends, makes the journey worth taking.