Thursday, June 30, 2011

Food Of The Day: Buttery Baked Scallops

Day 2 of trying to shake up my same-old, same-old diet.

I had a hankering for fish, so I picked up some Bay Scallops and decided to make an old favorite of my Dad's. I WW'd it to make it more Points-friendly.

6 oz Bay Scallops (2P+)
1T butter (3P+)
5 Toll House crackers (2 P+)
1 wedge Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese (1 P+)

  • Place the scallops in a shallow baking pan.
  • Cover with 1T butter and crushed crackers.
  • Top with sliced Laughing Cow cheese wedge.
  • Spray top lightly with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

    Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

    8 P+, serves 1.

    My Dad's original is pretty close to this, although he's very liberal with the butter and crushed crackers; adds a splash of white wine; and uses 1 slice of American cheese. The original is awesome, but I have to say this is a very good, lower-Point substitute; the scallops were swimming in buttery, cheese breadcrumbs. While it was baking the kitchen smelled of said buttery breadcrumbs.

    It's also super easy and can be whipped up quickly. And it looks kinda fancy, so you could easily impress guests. You also could knock down the Points by using light butter (I think that would take off 1, we didn't have any on hand) and perhaps more Points-friendly crackers.
  • In which I share tricks for getting up and working out

    My alarm went off at 5 am this morning.

    I hit Snooze.

    10 minutes later, I hit Snooze again.

    At 5:21 am I willed myself out of bed: Go eat something!

    That did it, there was a Luna bar in the cabinet with my name on it.

    I'm not a morning person, but for the past 6 months I've been waking up at 5-ish four times a week to work out before everyone else rises.

    So, if I dislike getting up early, why do so?

    It's the only time I can ensure I get my workout in.

    When I first started exercising again, last fall, I used to work out when my youngest napped. But the problem was - and is - when she's napping I need some downtime, too.

    It finally got to the point in which my need for downtime in the afternoon outweighed my need to sleep in.

    However, that doesn't mean getting up early has gotten much easier. But there are a few tricks I employ to make it more bearable:

    1. Go to bed early. For me, that means heading up around 10 pm, so I can get 7-ish hours of sleep. The closer I get to 6 hours or less, the harder it is to get up.

    2. Eat something. I alluded to this above: The thought of food helps get me out of bed. I like to eat before I work out, I know this isn't the case for everyone. And I make sure what I eat is something I really like. Usually, a 5-Point+ Luna bar. Yum.

    3. Lay your gear out the night before. With everything set out, this means all I have to do is put on my clothes. I can handle this.

    4. Remember it's all over in 2 hours. Whether it's bootcamp or running, I'm done by 7 am. That is an awesome feeling, knowing I have the whole day ahead of me with my biggest personal to-do done.

    5. Have someone expecting you. This is big for me. If I pay for a bootcamp class, I will be there. If I commit to meet a friend at the track, like I did this morning (see the sunrise above), I will be there. Making a commitment is an extra kick in the pants. Without that, it's easier to con myself into sleeping in.

    6. Know that if you don't get out of bed, you won't work out today. I've yet to miss a wakeup call because I know if I sleep in, I will not have time to work out. And that will annoy me all day long.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    Food of The Day

    I finally got my first smart phone.

    Welcome to 2007, Melissa!

    Anyway, it has a camera, so it'll be easier to take everyday pics and post here without the hassle of memory cards, USB readers, etc.

    In order to bump that slow scale, I think I need to mix up my diet a bit. I've been eating, more or less, the same-old same-old for weeks now and I think my body is bored. I'm not bored with the food, since what I know and like is easy, but it's worth a shot.

    Today's FOTD was Pepperidge Farms Sandwich Thins, which are 2 Points+, 1 Point lower than most of the thins on the market. I toasted one up and added 2 servings (60g) of Roasted Red Pepper hummus for a great lunch. And, only 4 Points+, pretty good.

    For dinner I had one I should phase out a bit: a roasted chicken patty and a 96% lean hamburger, both 3P+ and all from Trader Joe's. Added to that was a mountain of grilled veg: eggplant, Vidalia onion, summer squash and red pepper.

    I love this dinner because for 6 P+ I get a trough full of food. But I eat this 3-4 times a week, too much.

    Had bootcamp this morning. I haven't been posting much about it lately since the posts would all be:

    Went to bootcamp this morning. Very challenging. Very sweaty.

    However, I realized I've now been going for 3 months(!), so later this week I'll have a post reflecting on that.

    In which I find the bookend

    As I've posted before, I rejoined Weight Watchers last September when my eldest two children returned to school.

    Forty weeks later, school is over and everything that hasn't gone home goes home as the classroom is stripped and cleaned.

    Sorting through my son's backpack I found the above picture. It hung with all the other family pictures on the classroom bulletin board. I remember the day well, it was open house, Sept. 11, four days after I rejoined WW. My first weigh in was 3 days away.

    It's actually not a terrible picture of me, although I did employ the tried and true camouflage-your-body-with-your-child move. I remember walking up the stairs (his class was on the second floor, 2 flights up) wondering how I was going to survive the climb twice a week while carrying my youngest.

    And I'm wearing what used to be my standard uniform: grey Just My Size 3x T-shirt from Wal-Mart and XXL track pants from Target. Incidentally I saved that shirt and pants. That's a post for another day.

    A couple of weeks before school ended we had the kids' portraits taken at a local 18th century farm. At the end of the shoot, the photographer told me to get in with the kids for a picture.

    I didn't know it was coming or else I would have looked a lot better - at least showered that day.

    The first thing I think of when I compare the two photos is, Wow, look how the kids have grown.

    The second, Look how much I have.

    We all learned a lot this year.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Week 42 Weigh-In: Big Whoop

    My Weight Watchers Center temporarily moved a couple of doors down in the strip mall due to renovations.

    They didn't take their computers, so everything was back to the handwritten records of old.

    I stepped on Holly's scale and peered over the divider as I saw her write down the numbers (which are normally printed out on a label and stuck in my WI booklet): 1...8...

    1! C'mon 1! 1! I anxiously thought.





    You're down 1! Holly chirped.

    I can assure you her enthusiasm did not match mine.

    Good thing I couldn't stay for the meeting (the kids had dentist appointments) because I would have looked - and felt - crabby ass. Thank goodness the dentist appointments went well or I would have been over the edge.

    I'm not sure why the scale is dragging right now. I'm eating within Points and eating more on days I work out hard. I don't abuse the free fruits and vegetables option and I eat a lot of protein. I honestly track what I eat every day. The only thing I can think of is I'm eating the same-old, same-old.

    I need to mix it up a bit this week, hold on and be patient.

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    In which I hit the pool

    I'm blessed with many great friends, some of whom have pools and are very generous with their invitations to use them.

    Today I took the kids over to a good friend's pool for a playdate and while there caught a glimpse of myself, from the side, in her patio doors.

    I look good! I thought to myself.

    I can't remember ever thinking that about my appearance in a bathing suit.

    Now, don't get me wrong, you won't confuse me with Heidi Klum in a bikini. I have a lot of sagging skin on my thighs and stomach from skin stretched out too far, which has lost its elasticity due to obesity. Sadly, nothing short of surgery would ever fix that.

    Even worse, I have bingo wings large enough to take down St. Mary's Sunday night game at the Knights of Columbus. And that's a real bummer as my upper arms are getting some wonderful definition from boot camp, but you'd never know it because I refuse to go sleeveless due to the underarms.

    Anyway, I'm realistic about how I look: like a relatively-fit, everyday Mom in a bathing suit. And, frankly, that's all I've ever wanted to look like.

    I remember going to this pool last summer in a 3X suit stretched to its limit. I hated taking off my T-shirt and going in. I hated lowering myself in on the ladder, it was difficult to get my 280+ lbs in and as always I was paranoid I would break it. And trying to get myself out was not fun either, thank you gravity.

    But this year it's different. My body may not be a 10, but it's mine and I've worked hard for it, flaws and all.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Week 41 Weigh-In: Is That All There Is?

    Not an exciting day at the scale.

    -1, which is better than +1, but I was hoping for more. I'm so close to -100, the closer I get the more frustrated I am about not getting there now.

    And I know that's ridiculous because I am doing all I can. I get there when I get there, but that's easier said when you're there.

    However, to get there yesterday I would have had to -3.4, which is a lot. I just keep telling myself on these types of weeks:

  • You cannot expect to lose 3 lbs every other week.
  • Your body knows what it's doing, when it's ready to drop more, it will.
  • Trust Points+, move your body and trust yourself.

    The last thing I want anyone reading this to think is, She's got it all covered. Because I really don't. I get frustrated and discouraged just like everyone else, believe me. Some days I want to drive as fast as I can to Panera and eat my way through bakery case.

    I'm sure this isn't an original thought, but I liken losing weight to running up a hill (which I hate, BTW).

    It sucks at the bottom of the hill. It sucks in the middle. And when you're close to the top, sure you can see the end, but your muscles are screaming and your breathing is rapid. The grade gets to its steepest point and you're trying so damn hard to just keep moving your feet and get to the top of that hill. It's tough mentally and physically. The last quarter of this adventure is very much like near-top-of-the-hill fatigue.

    However, running hills makes me a better, stronger runner. And losing weight makes me a stronger, healthier person.

    I've said this in my Weight Watcher meetings and it's true: One of the hardest parts of weight loss is patience.

    I just have to remember that, have a good eating and exercise week and take it from there.
  • Saturday, June 18, 2011

    In which there's a silver lining to regaining 100+ lbs

    I'm a glass-half-full person, so perhaps this is a post that could only come from me.

    Because when you read the title, you're thinking, No (*&#&$^ way there is an upside to that.

    And, for the most part, you'd be right.

    In many earlier posts I've mentioned that I became a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers in 2003. I joined WW in April 2002, 286 lbs (above left), thoroughly and completely done with being obese. I attacked losing then like I do now - 100% committed in eating and exercise. I reached goal in August 2003 and became a Lifetime member on, of all days, my birthday in September 2003 (above right), having lost 124 lbs.

    One of the main reasons I wanted to lose weight was to get pregnant. And, annoyingly, once I was at goal I could not get pregnant. Discouraged after months, I decided to just eat what I wanted, it's not like I was getting pregnant, anyway.

    Eighteen months later, 250+ lbs, I got pregnant. Figures, right?

    Anyway, that's a post for another day. I can hear you, Get to the silver lining!

    First, if you lose 100 lbs, I would recommend you not regain it. If you think it's work losing it once, it's not any easier or more fun doing it the second time.

    However, there are two things I was able to rely on this second time around:

    1. I knew because I did it once, I could do it again. There was no, Maybe I can't... worry. I knew I could. I knew I would. That's pretty reassuring.

    2. This is a biggie. I knew, deep down to my bones, that no matter what I was facing, food is never the answer. After you eat whatever you think will make you feel better, you'll always feel worse. Especially if you're an all-or-nothing person like me.

    I've relied on #2 a lot this week. June is a very difficult month as a parent. Activities are ending, school is ending, so there's games, dress rehearsals, recitals, parties, field days, presents to buy, notes to write, forms to fill out for summer activities, I mean, it's never-friggin-ending in June. The things to do, the stuff to remember is ridiculous.

    This week was exceptionally busy on that front. Under the weather a bit, my resistance was low. I was mentally wiped out and physically hurting. Then yesterday it got worse.

    My son came down with a bug, which meant canceling a long-awaited night out with my husband - and the sitter I worked so hard to book. It also meant my son would miss his last soccer game and the season-ending pizza party he was so looking forward to. And it meant I would have to miss my daughter's dance recital today since it's unfair to leave a potentially-puking kid with a sitter.

    The pressures were really high and I was really bummed about how everything quickly went in the crapper, yet I never once thought that raiding a bakery would make me feel better. I honestly knew it wouldn't.

    And in the past I've known that, too, but still turned to food to get me through whatever I needed to get through. I remember thinking This will not solve anything and I will feel worse, but screw it. But this go-round, this final time, I believe in that as much as I believe in anything.

    Would I trade that assurance for not having regained the weight? In a millisecond. But if regaining it led me to this very important realization, then it wasn't a complete disaster.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Week 40 Weigh-In: A new life

    In 40 weeks you can create, carry and deliver a new life.

    Today was my 40th weigh-in at WW and the comparison was not lost on me.

    I was -1.8 lbs today, a good loss to bring me to -96.6, ever closer to a triple-digit loss.

    When I was entering my weekly weigh-in info at the WW website, I looked at the chart and realized, I weigh 185. My WW goal weight is 175. I am within 10 lbs!

    Actually, I'm within 8 lbs. Since I am already a Lifetime member, I have to get within 2lbs of my goal weight and then I can attend meetings for free (something I pay $40 a month for currently). So, once I'm under 177, I will be No Pay.

    However, my work is not done. If you read this post from last week, you know I have more goals beyond 175.

    I was thinking about it today and while 40 weeks seems like a long time (and that's certainly the case when you're pregnant), it really isn't. I started WW when my children went back to school last September. Next week is their last week of school.

    The school year seemed to fly, but in that time I put in a lot of solid mental and physical effort and delivered a new life for myself in terms of health and fitness.

    I'm just so glad I started when I did. I don't even want to think of what I would feel like if I let that "Rejoin WW" deadline pass and spent another 40 weeks as I was. Yikes.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    In which wearing is believing

    I was rummaging through the closet today and I spied a pair of pants.

    That pair of pants - a pair of Size 12 hand-me-down jeans from a friend, forever the smallest, furthest-away-from-fittingest pair in the closet.

    Eh, what the hell... I thought, dropped trou and stepped into them to see how far I had to go.

    Up over the knees. And thighs. And hips...comfortably. Then the big test.

    I grabbed the zipper and pulled. And it closed. Comfortably.

    Wait. What? They zipped! They fiiiiiiiit! I can wear these, right now, anywhere I want.

    I can wear a Size 12!

    Holy smokes.

    For months these have been the smallest pair of pants in the closet. I believe the last time I tried them on, months ago, I couldn't get them past my knees.

    And now I'm wearing them as I type this.

    This time last year I was wearing Size 26, pictured above and on the right contrasted against my newfound skinny jeans.

    That is a nice way to wrap up the week.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Race report: Worcester Half-Marathon 5K

    Last Sunday I ran my best race ever.

    Granted my racing career consists of 3 races, but still, you gotta start somewhere.

    I was a little apprehensive going into it because I wasn't exactly sure where the course went.

    The organizer's site had a crappy Yahoo map up that was small and hard to read. I was hoping for a turn-by-turn description, but the best I could fathom was: Short red line. Turn. Long red line. Water stop. Double back.

    I kinda sorta knew where it was going, but since the route was on a major street in a large, ahem, "urban" city, the ability to safely run the course before the race was unlikely.

    I knew most of the race was on Chandler Street, which has no big hills, so I thought I'd be OK, given the last race's two Matterhornian inclines. Plus, my workout runs have some sucky hills in them, so I figured I wouldn't have too much of a problem.

    The other source of anxiety is the race started and ended in downtown Worcester, which meant parking in downtown Worcester. However, the race start was early (7:30 am) and there was plenty of parking. I got there about 25 minutes before the half start, found a nice spot on street and walked about a 1/4 mile to the staging area.

    Once at the staging area I passed a very impressive line for the Port a Potties, and then headed for the Half starting line, looking for a friend who I thought was running. I walked around to warm up and tried to pick her out of the crowd. I found her, on the opposite side of the street from me, just as she was crossing the starting line. Bad timing.

    Once the Half was underway the announcer told us the 5K wouldn't start here, but back by the staging area. Um, OK. We all walked back to the staging area and looked around for a sign that said Start. The announcer eventually intoned: "Line up by the CVS." Glad it was super official, LOL.

    I headed for the back of the pack, looked up and soon everyone was running. No gun, no countdown. OK. I quickly hit Start Workout on my Nike +iPod, started the heart rate monitor and was off.

    There were no mile markers for the 5K, which is always a nice touch. Maybe next year? About 9 minutes into the race I saw a big 1 sign. I'm thinking, We can't already be a mile in. I'd be way off pace and I feel fine. I took out one ear bud and asked a runner next to me, That's not for us, is it? She agreed it was the 1 mile mark for the Half.

    The 5K portion of this race appeared to be an afterthought to the half-marathon, understandably.

    Since there were no mile markers, it made pacing a little difficult. However, the day was glorious. It was sunny, low 50s, with a nice dry air.

    Seventy-five percent of the race was on Chandler Street and 100% of Chandler Street smells like garbage. But a flat course is appreciated by me, even if it's a stinky one. If that's the worst I can say, that's still a great course.

    We got to what I assumed was the halfway point (again, no mile markers) and the water station. It was lined with spectators and volunteers, all of who were hooting and hollering and clapping for us as we rounded a pylon and headed back up smelly Chandler.

    I really appreciate race spectators. Even though they're not there to see me run a 13-minute mile, they cheer and encourage nonetheless and make me feel like an elite athlete.

    Soon, we were almost done with Chandler Street and I spied my watch. It read I was 38 minutes into the race. I only had a couple of turns left and then I would be heading for the finish. I think I can PR this thing. Maybe I can get in under 40. I wasn't sure exactly how long I had left (no markers!), but I picked up the pace a bit. The weather was so great, I felt really good.

    Two turns later I saw the chute for the finish and sped up a little more. As I turned into a really long chute I saw the official clock: 39:50.

    Nuts, no way I could cover the distance in time to do a sub-40-minute race, but I decided to sprint anyway. I knew it would be a PR, regardless.

    I started racing toward the finish, trying to keep my form streamlined and also remember there was a race photographer with his lens trained on me: Head down. Suck in your stomach. Don't look like a dork.

    Seriously, look at that photo. My leg kick is never, ever that high. I was jammin.

    Turns out I ran a 40:14, which for me was great, 3+ minutes faster than my last race. Later, when I saw the official race results online, I noticed that a woman came in at exactly the same time as me. A 64-year-old woman. In my defense, she was very fit.

    I went through the finish, returned the timing chip and grabbed 3 waters. Sitting on a shady bench, I got my breathing back to normal and perused my various gadgets to see how I fared. Really liked what the HRM had to say: 498 calories burned. Yeehaw.

    After finishing 2 bottles of water, I walked over to the finish and clapped for the other runners coming in, trying to savor the moment. Not all races end like this, I wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    In which I set my summer weight loss goals

    Goal-setting (short- and long-term) is an important part of the weight-loss adventure.

    It gives you something concrete to work for and celebrate once you achieve it. And it can be a great motivator for staying on track when you're having a challenging time.

    The combination of 27 lbs left to lose to my personal goal and the arrival have summer have me thinking about setting goals for the next 3 months and putting it down in writing - or, you know, here.

    Nearing the end of the losing stage can be tricky. You're looking good and feeling great, and it's really easy to get distracted and take longer to reach the finish line.

    I've been prone to that before, but I want to keep the pedal down and get to where I want to be as fast as I can.

    Therefore, here are my personal weight-loss goals through Labor Day:

  • Hit 182.4 lbs to reach -100 lbs lost.

  • Hit 175 lbs to reach my WW Lifetime goal weight.

  • Hit 170 (more on this later).

  • Hit 160 (my personal goal weight).
  • Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Week 39 Weigh-In: A return to normalcy

    In the past few weeks I went on vacation, gained a little weight, came home and tried to take it off with relative success.

    This past week was my first full week home and back to normal: my schedule, food, exercise, etc.

    I felt good all week and had a solid 7 days of planned eating and exercise. Well, 4 days of exercise. But, one of those was a 5K this past Sunday, which went awesome. I will post about that later.

    Anyway, I came into this WI feeling good and optimistic about what the scale may reveal.

    Going in, I just wanted to drop below 190.

    Unfortunately, this was a weigh-and-go week as I had Family Day at my kids' preschool, so I had to be there and could not stay for the meeting.

    Donna My Rock was not at the center today, but Holly was. Holly is pretty damn impressive herself, as she's lost - and kept off - more than 120 lbs.

    I got on the scale and Holly told me I was down 3.4 lbs.

    I like Holly.

    So sayonara 190s, hello 180s, but don't get used to me because I am just passing through.

    Total loss is now -94.8, just 5.2 away from the vaunted -100 and 12 lbs away from returning to No Pay Lifetime status.

    I can't wait.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    In which I am no longer obese

    My friend Becca recently calculated her BMI and saw she made the move from obese to overweight.

    If you're in the former and move into the latter, that's a big deal.

    I read her good news and then thought, I wonder what my BMI is?

    I'd never calculated it since rejoining WW because the answer, regardless of number, was "Too High."

    But, as I've lost quite a bit of weight, I decided it was time and found an online calculator.

    My starting BMI on Sept. 7, 2010 was 44.2.

    My BMI today, 39 weeks later: 29.9...OVERWEIGHT!


    To get my BMI into the Normal Weight category (18.5-24.9) I need to drop to at least 159 lbs, which is a solid long-term goal. Sure my big goal is to return to my Lifetime, no-pay WW goal weight: 175. But, after that, taking it down to 159 would be an interesting trip.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    In which NSVs are really important

    Last Monday I was bummed out.

    My vacation weight gain was not coming off - at all - despite all my best efforts, eating and exercise.

    In a quick aside, one of my Facebook friends likened a quick vacation-like gain to "wet cement" - if you don't try to get it off quickly, it will set. I thought that was a great way to put it.

    Anyway, since the scale was giving me no love, I went looking for an NSV - a non-scale victory. I really needed a lift.

    I headed to my closet and pulled out a pair of size 14 jeans my friend had handed down to me a couple of months of ago. At that time, they were so tight I couldn't get them past my thighs. A week or so before vacation I was able to get them on and zip them up. However, sitting or driving in them would likely cut off circulation to everything north of my equator.

    I took the pants off the hanger and tried them on again. They fit, zipped up and were more comfortable than just a couple of weeks ago. They were still what I'll euphemistically call "form-fitting", but they were comfortable enough to consider wearing in public and without personal injury.

    I felt better. Sure, the scale was not moving, but, hey, these pants didn't have a prayer of fitting a couple of months ago, and look where they are now - on my body.

    NSVs are super important: When things are going great, they bolster you and when they're not, they remind you it's worth it.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    In which I receive an unexpected compliment

    Every Tuesday after my Weight Watchers meeting, I drive to a nearby grocery store to get my beloved avocado maki.

    The store has a great sushi bar, and it's fantastic because the chef makes the rolls to order, so they're nice and fresh. I'm there every week at the same time like clockwork, so when the chef sees me coming I don't even have to order.

    "Avocado maki!" he says with a smile and I go off and finish shopping while he makes the rolls.

    This past Tuesday after finishing shopping, I swung by to pick up my order before heading to the checkout.

    The chef's assistant looks at me and says, in heavily accented English: "You lose weight?"

    "Yes, thanks."

    "You look gooooooooooood!"

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    In which it's easier to fly

    I'm not a big fan of flying. Never was before 9/11 and definitely not after.

    But to get to many locales, it's the best - or only - way to go.

    I don't fly much, but when I do I grin and bear it.

    Another reason I disliked flying was the fact it's hard to fly when you're fat.

    The seats seem too small, there's not a lot of room and that seatbelt is always a worry. I never had to ask for an extension, but it was very, very close. I always saw a seatbelt extension as another whole serious level of fat, as in a short hop to having to buy two seats.

    When I'd fly before, I'd get to my seat, throw back the armrest (couldn't afford to give up those few inches) and extend the seatbelt as far as it could go. I'd plunk down and pray I'd get the belt to click. It was a stressful few minutes from the time I entered the jetway until I heard that click.

    Then it was just plain uncomfortable for the duration of the flight: wedged in a seat, hoping the person(s) in my row didn't have to get up and use the bathroom. And lowering the tray table? A snack and a drink aren't as fun when the table is pressing into your gut.

    Fast forward to two weeks ago today when I entered a jetway for the first time in 4 years. There was no stress, no anxiety (apart from my whole normal flying anxiety, that is).

    I got to my seat, got my 5-year-old situated and buckled, left the armrest down (thankyouverymuch) and reached for the belt. Not only did it click, it was way too loose. I tightened it and then grabbed my point-and-shoot to get the picture above of all the leftover belt.

    The picture won't make it in our Disney album, but I sure won't forget it.