Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Renewal

Spring has been celebrated as a time of renewal by various cultures in various ways for eons. Agrarian cultures saw it as a time that the plants came back to life and attributed it to the gods.  Me? I just love the baby animals and flowers. Still, it does make you think about renewal.  That means different things to different people.

I was a "little" lax on my eating over the weekend.  For a while I pretended that insulin resistance did not exist in my world. Calories did not matter. And it made me feel terrible physically and mentally.  The physical aspect is easy to explain: my body is not accustomed to that type of food.  The mental aspect: I felt like I was cheating myself out of all of my weeks of dedication and weight loss. I had also been getting a little sloppy with my carb counting and the numbers kept creeping up.

But it is spring time, after all. Renewal can happen at any moment.  For me, I rededicated myself to achieving my goals on Monday.

Sunday I started the exercise portion: HIIT (high intensity interval training).  Unfortunately for me Sunday was the day that every person in the neighborhood was milling about in the garage or front yard so they got to see an out-of-breath woman sprint passed them in 10 second bursts. Almost as soon as I started each sprint my Garmin, whom I call Garmigon, would begin the loud beeping countdown.  Mental picture: me huffing and puffing, thighs jiggling like I had a tub of jell-o hidden beneath my skin, and Garmigon beeping loudly as I tried to run as fast as my legs would carry me.

It was embarrassing.  I tried to imagine myself running with gazelle-like grace.  In reality I know I was either leaning too far forward or barely going anywhere at all. My fastest pace did turn out to be 6:15 but that could have been when I almost tripped over my feet. I'm claiming it as legit though.

This went on for 10 sessions of sprints and then recovering for a few seconds.  By the end of my workout I did feel as if I had done something substantial to or for my body.  The next morning will tell you if it was a pro or con.

Monday morning I woke up with new dedication to everything. Life in general, actually.  Only eating what I consider healthy for my body.  Looking forward to reaching goals and experiencing adventures yet unknown.

As soon as my feet hit the ground my hips reminded me that today was a rest day.  They were not impressed with the sprints on Sunday.  My quads decided to add their opinions as well.  So a walk was planned. I put on my shoes and everything!  Then I put some clothes on to wash and unloaded some from the dryer.  Somewhere during loading and unloading I hurt my back.  The walk was called off.  How in the world do you hurt your back doing laundry?!

Tuesday my back was still not very happy and the quads gave me a gentle reminder that they were on vacation and would not be participating in any activities.  Nevertheless, I began some plyometrics that work in the same fashion as HIIT: sudden bursts of energy followed by short recovery rests.  I stood in one place and jumped using my arms to aid in momentum. I tried to touch my ceiling 5 times in a row. Rest for a few seconds. Repeat. Fun to do in front of the whole family! 

Next week I begin adding strength training using ChaLean Extreme. Fun!! Time to firm up the jiggle.

Weight: probably not good.  Staying away from the scale for a while as I begin finding my exercise groove.  I know it always goes up anytime I start something new.  So my clothes and a tape measure will have to be my guides right now.

Adventure on the horizon: going to Canyon Lake tomorrow! I'm expecting a lot of swimming and perhaps a tubing trip. Can't wait. :)

Are your in need of renewal?  Eating gone off plan for a while? Exercising is lacking luster? Now is a perfect time to rededicate yourself to your goals. Forget about the past; work towards the future.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Foodie Friday (Chocolate eggs & Barbed Rose Burger Bar)

I had ordered a couple of custom chocolate eggs for the kids using my Houston Entree voucher (if you like trying new restaurants in the Houston area you may want to consider signing up for their offers) at Expressions Fine Chocolate.

The lady got every detail from their favorite colors for the ribbons to the type of chocolate to use. She called yesterday and said they were ready.  Wow!  They were much larger than I had expected!  These were going to be Easter gifts but we decided to give them to the kids early instead of trying to hide them until Sunday.








 I'd say the eggs were a hit. :)
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Chuck's strep throat is getting better but now my throat is sore and I don't feel too great.  And who wants to cook when you don't feel so hot?  I had another Houston Entree voucher. This one was for Barbed Rose

The interior of Barbed Rose is fancy shmancy. Reservations recommended.  People still go wearing jeans. It's upscale food in a casual atmosphere.  The outdoors "burger bar" is very casual. Shorts welcome. Biker parking. TV playing things like "Thrillbillies" where rednecks do stupid tricks.  Food is the same as the indoor dining room.

I have no idea what's on TV. A chick fight?  I just wanted to show you what it looked like in the outdoor dining area.

Casual attire. Bar in the corner. Ceiling fans to keep you cool. Friendly staff.

Very casual.

Some of the fancier items on the menu


There is an old depot that trains still pass. No travellers await. A different era.

Charlie patiently awaits his first taste of alligator.

Fried alligator with crystal-bacon aioli. The kids loved it.

My Ice and Blue salad with Barbed Rose's own homemade bacon.

Rachel got a philly cheesesteak. Chuck got steak and fries. Charlie got a kobe beef hot dog on a pretzel bun. The best hot dog I've ever tasted in my life. Incredible.

My buffalo burger with homemade mustard, provolone and homemade bacon sans top bun.

They had never heard of a mint julep but googled it and made one (or two) up for us. First one was on the house since they learned something new.  I thought everyone in the South knew about mint juleps! Delicious and refreshing on a warm spring evening as the sun sets, a train lumbers by, and a breeze softly blows.

Ahhhhh. Bring me anothuh, ma'am.

Bananas Foster bread pudding served in an iron skillet.

It did not survive.

The bartender came by to tell us about the specials. A chocolate raspberry martini. Divine.

A sweet father/daughter moment. 
 A great evening with the family.  Then it was home with us to watch "Thrillbillies". Never heard of it? You're not missing much unless you like to watch rednecks do stupid stunts and get hurt.  I could not understand half of them so Chuck and Rachel translated for me. Hilarious.  I grew up in east Texas but these guys seemed to talk gibberish to me.

A shot of Nyquil and I was off to la-la land. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Quickie

*Chuck tested positive for strep throat yesterday so no Impressionist art exhibit.  I already have the tickets so I guess we'll go Monday or Tuesday.

*Chuck also has to get an MRI today because he has lost some strength and range of motion in his arm.  He's had two neck surgeries because he was in a car accident with some illegals "undocumented individuals" who were driving crazy.  Their car almost flipped.  They didn't have insurance (of course) so we are left with the bills for everything. It sucks. Scar tissue continues to build around the nerves in his neck and shoulder causing numbness and chronic pain. Nothing you can do but move forward.

*Saw Cruz Pendregon's race car at Bass Pro Shop last night.  Had to stop for a picture.  These cars are so fast!  I got his autograph at a racing event once.  You can feel the rumble in your bones when these cars light up. Love it!
*We were at Bass Pro Shop because Rachel needed some new shorts. She is now wearing a size 10! That's down from a size 14/16. Now I get her size 12s. Hand me downs. :)

*Weight: no weighing.  Once a week only.  Felt strange not getting on the scale.

*Eats: feeling snacky; 33.4 grams carbs for the day
Breakfast- coffee/cream; Muffin in a Minute with 1/4 cup pumpkin; almond milk with protein powder

Lunch-(on the go) 28g almonds (yep, I still measure everything); Atkins bar; almond milk and protein powder

Dinner: Breaded pork chops with pan gravy, mashed cauliflower, salad with Italian dressing, and a cheesecake


Snacky-low carb ice cream bar, 5 oz red wine, 1 small sugar free peanut brittle.

*I don't like getting the snackies.  It's probably because I didn't eat a good lunch?  Perhaps the breading on the pork chops?  Perhaps I just wanted a freakin' snack!? :)

*Breaded Pork Chops
from The Low Carb Comfort Food Cookbook

3/4 cups breadcrumbs made from stale magic rolls
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
4 pork loin chops, 1" thick
2 Tbs. coconut oil

Preheat oven to 325*.  Lightly grease a casserole dish with coconut oil or butter.

In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic powder and cheese.  Put beaten egg into anoter bowl.  Remove all fat from pork chops; clean and pat dry. Dip each chop in egg then bread crumbs. Coat well.

Heat skillet on medium low with the coconut oil.  Add chops when oil is hot.  Turn down heat and briefly fry chops until light brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place chops in casserole dish and bake for 40-45 minutes or until done.  If desired make pan gravy.

Pan gravy:
1 cup broth and 1 cup heavy cream; salt & pepper to taste

Add broth to hot skillet where you cooked pork chops. Scrape up loose bits and simmer for about 8-10 minutes of until liquid is reduced to 2/3rds.  Add cream and continue to simmer until further reduced and has desired thickness.  It will continue to thicken once removed from heat. Season with salt and pepper.  Will be a thin gravy but tasty.
Per pork chop: 2.6 grams carb; 30.4 grams protein

*Hope you have a wonderful Easter. Any plans?  We'll probably hang around the house, grill some steaks, resist the kids' candy, hide some eggs, and visit my in laws. See ya on Monday. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Low Carb Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

Rachel and I made these yesterday:
Quite the nom.
Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes
from The 30 Day Low-Carb Diet Solution

8 Tbs. finely chopped pecans
2 packets Splenda
1 Tbs butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Splenda (granular)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Place the nuts, the 2 packets Splenda, and the butter in a bowl and combine.  Line the 12 wells of a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners and distribute the nut mixture evenly among them (approx. 2 tsp per well).

Place the egg, granular Splenda, cream cheese, and vanilla extract into a blender of food processor and blend until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 cups.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350*.  Cool and refrigerate at least one hour.  Will keep refrigerated for several days.
per cheesecake: 2.2 grams carb, 2.4g protein

Problems I had:
*it took less than 2 tsp per well to evenly distribute the nuts
*the blender heated the cream cheese mixture too much so when I stirred in the chocolate chips they began to melt.  I would suggest just sprinkling them on top of the cheesecakes once you've poured them into the liners.
*don't try to fill the cupcake liners up very high or you won't have enough for all of them.  Just put about 2 Tbs or so per well.  You can always go back and add more.
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Eats:
Breakfast-coffee with creamer; 3 eggs with cheese; protein powder and almond milk

Lunch-leftover cod on bunch of salad greens with Italian dressing; almond milk with protein powder

Snack-carbmaster yogurt and a couple of nuts (literally just two)

Dinner- lots of chicken fajita, 1 low carb tortilla, sour cream, 1 Tbs cheese, grilled peppers and onions (SO good!)

Dessert-1 mini cheesecake
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weight: 174.1

Really? Up and down. Up and down.   It was only down for a while.  Now I'm in a bit of a holding pattern.

My poor body.  It seems to have fears of letting go of its weight.  It has a mental hurdle of getting below 170 as if something terrible will happen.  It didn't want to go below 188 for a long time too.  It tried so hard to get back to 190.  Eventually it gave up and ventured into the 170s.  But as it approaches that critical 170# mark, the fears arise again.  So it's holding on to 173/174 with both hands.  It can't stand the idea of actually reaching 172.  What is afraid of?  Did something traumatic happen to it at 170 or below?  We may never know.

What I do know is that it's driving me a little crazy (which isn't a distant drive for me!!).  Every single day I eat what I'm supposed to.  Not too much. Not too little.  Watch the carbs.  Make sure I'm getting enough protein, veggies, etc.  The one thing I haven't been doing is exercising regularly.  Need to get busy with that one.

In order to save myself from scale insanity I'm going to start doing a weekly weigh in instead of daily.  If I can't handle that I might add in a Thursday weigh in as well.  But the daily ups and downs that go with the natural fluctuations of the body can wear on a girl.  I already know I shouldn't weigh myself every single day.  For a while it was fun but as the honeymoon stage of low carb wears off the weight loss slows a little. Plus I'm taking in closer to 30g carbs per day instead of the 20g before. Surely my body can handle 30g of carbs! The fact that I'm even losing weight at all still makes me happy. :)
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Chuck is home sick from work. He just left to go to the doctor. Poor guy.  We're supposed to take the kids to see the Impressionists exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts tonight.  Monet, Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, etc.  We'll see what the doctor says.

So happy tomorrow is Friday!! Come on, weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Sea Food

Weight: 173.8  Looking at our weight history, Chuck and I both had a substantial gain three days after our trip to the Tango & Malbec restaurant.  Guess that's when it finally shows up on the scale.

Was it worth the price?  I think so.  It was a great experience.  Lori had a post that really stuck with me.  Is (insert whatever here) worth the price?  Is being 130 pounds worth the price it takes to get there?  Or is 140 pounds better for me?  Is an occasional date with my hubby to a fancy restaurant worth a temporary gain on the scale?  It makes you stop and think.  Thanks for the post, Lori.

Along those lines, I've been putting off weight training even though I have a plan and the weights.  Why? It's so silly I kind of hate to admit it: the scale.  I know that when I start working with weights I'll gain some weight. Yes, it may be temporary but it bugs me.  It'll be worse when the muscles are sore.  I told you it was silly!  But I like the way I look when I have muscle definition so I'm willing to pay the price even though there will be a scale upset. I'll be starting weight training again May 2.  Next week is going to be a crazy week so I'm not going to set myself up for failure.
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Eats: made an effort to get my minimum protein requirement today
Breakfast- coffee and cream; 2 eggs scrambled with cheese and bacon bits; almond milk with protein powder

Lunch: tuna on salad greens with Italian dressing; almond milk with protein powder

Snack: carbmaster strawberry yogurt

Dinner: Baked cod, spinach with cream, strawberries

Cod wasn't that great.  Too bland. Need to find some new fish recipes.
While preparing the cod I saw a spot on a flap of the flesh that looked like it was bruised.  I'd seen something like this before when my dad would clean fish from questionable bayous.  It would turn out to be a worm.  Curious, I cut into the bruised looking area and sure enough:
GROSS!!!!  I'm off fish for a little while. Bleck!!
Dessert: glass of Estancia cabernet; Atkins bar

exercise: a little 2 miles bike ride.

I've also been doing a 15 minute clean fling every day this week with the kids.  I set the timer for 15 minutes and we set about cleaning.  The goal is to get as much done as possible in those 15 minutes.  Believe it or not, you can get a lot done in that amount of time!  And it's not so long that we dread it.

Have a groovy day. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Shelley has put out the call to send in your old prom photos.  Not you whippersnappers (get off my lawn!)who just went last spring.  We're talking old school.  ;-)  I sent mine in right away but I thought I'd share with you here too.

My mom made all my dresses because we were dirt poor I couldn't find any that I liked.
1987-15 years old

That hair!  I was waaay too thin.  I had an eating problem then.  I was all nerves around my mentally abusive boyfriend so I couldn't keep any food down.  I'd be hungry but I just couldn't eat. I'd get instantly nauseous.  Apparently he knew about it because he took me to a donut shop once and made me eat a donut and threatened to break up with me and leave me there if I didn't keep it down.  That sh!t wouldn't fly now! I'd stand up for myself!
 1988-16 years old

Sun In.  Turned my hair a reddish blond.  Love the 80s.
 1989-17 years old  Right before Chuck and I started dating.
Still a very shy girl. In less than two years I'd be married.


My favorite dress that mom made. Ah, to be thin again. :)
It's hard to believe that my 15 year old will be going to her first prom this year.  Time surely flies.  Time keeps flowing like a river to the sea....on and on. (Alan Parson's Project, enyone?)

I wish I had taken better care of myself.  I got lazy and ate whatever I wanted.  Drank my share of tequila.  Just had a great time. 

Lordy, I remember one time Chuck and I got a bottle or two of Boone's strawberry hill (a cheap wine you can get a gas stations) drank it up and headed to Galveston to go night surfing with some folks.  They went out in the water to show us how to do it but came back because there were too many sharks in the water.  They decided they would be ok and continued to surf.  Drunks night surfing with sharks?  We headed to Subway and called it a night.  And woke up with a lovely headache the next day.

Stupid eating/laziness finally led to:
I look swollen!  2004
At least it's coming off now. :)

Weight: 174.2 Yay. Down .7!

Eats:
Breakfast-coffee w/cream; 2 scrambled eggs with cheddar

Lunch- leftover teriyaki chicken (huge); 1/2 c. strawberries

Snack-  1 oz mixed nuts (no peanuts)

Dinner: Monterey Chicken with sour cream; 3/4 c broccoli with lemon pepper; 1/2 c. strawberries
The family LOVED the chicken.  Bacon makes everything better.
Dessert- low carb ice cream bar

Monterey Chicken
from Six Ingredients or Less Low Carb Cooking

4 chicken breasts
Lemon pepper
8 slices bacon, cooked
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese (I used provolone)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (I omitted)
3 Tbs sliced green onions (I used chives)

Preheat oven to 350*. Place chicken in a sprayed 8x8 pan. SPrinkle lightly with lemon pepper. Bake 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.

Place 2 slices bacon on top of each chicken breast, cutting to fit if necessary.  Top with cheese. Return to oven to melt cheese.  Place on serving plates and top with tomato and onion.  (I topped with chives.  It's great with sour cream but will add 1 or 2g of carbs.)

Per serving: 325 calories; 17g fat; 38g protein; 2g carbs; <1g fiber; 2g net carbs

I leave you with my flowers of the week. Asian lillies. $10 from manager's special section. They smell good too!
They're so pretty!
Happy Tuesday to ya!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Recap in Photos

Weight: 174.9 Freakin' hell.  Who can understand the ways of the scale?

Weight loss last week: -.5 pounds.  And I was on track to lose 2 pounds then there was a disturbance in the force.  Oh well.
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I already shared my fun Friday date (could have something to do with an unhappy scale?) so now on to Saturday and Sunday.
Boiled crawfish at Joe's Crab Shack. Bleck! Bland. No potatoes or corn for me.

A pretty dove in our front yard.

Brazos Bend State Park!

My peaceful place.

A happy Texan in need of some makeup and freckle remover. :)

The offspring getting along for 5 minutes.

This caterpillar will mess your world up! Seriously, they have a bad sting to them.

Beehive in a tree hole. Could hear them buzzing throughout the woods.
Swimsuit shopping is not fun.  There is no way to really hide the bumps and rolls.  It's almost like walking around nekked.  And the lighting in these dressing rooms? My thighs looked like the surface of the moon!  But I came to peace with this one piece. :)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foodie Friday (Tango & Malbec)

Date night!  We had a Groupon to Tango & Malbec that was expiring at the end of the month so we needed to use it.

Tango & Malbec serves South American cuisine in Houston's Galleria area.  It just opened in December.

I wasn't sure how much to dress up or down but judging by the web site it looked like a pretty nice place.  Valet parking and reservations?  We haven't been to a place like this in a very long time. (turns out people wear everything from suits to blue jeans there)

Rachel let me borrow her red dress and I went shopping for some black heels.  I forgot how uncomfortable heels can be.  Every once in a while you'll come across a good pair that don't eat your feet.  These were not those shoes.  Since I haven't worn anything but flats, flip flops and running shoes in years, I got me a starter pair of heels with a small incline.  No need to make a fall on my face a sure thing.
Ready for our date.
Complimentary valet parking.  I felt a little strange getting valet parking for a mini van so we parked Vincent Van Go ourselves and walked in.
Turns out reservations really aren't needed at 6:45pm. Every one else is still stuck in traffic.
The pretty interior
Our waiter was great.  He told us about the cooking methods, the quality of the meats, the wines, etc.  And we got great seating!
Appetizer: Carpaccio Puerto la Cruz
Thin slices of beef tenderloin served w/ basil sauce & fresh mushrooms 
The beef was lightly smoked so that it was almost raw. Melted like butter in your mouth! Topped with parmesan shards.
Some of the best cabernet I've had in a while.  A South American wine.
Main Course: (mine) Bife de lomo 8oz served w/ sautéed vegetables
I've never had a steak so tender in my life. Seriously.
(Chuck's) Brochetes de Beef Tenderloin
Premium chunks of beef tenderloin, pancetta chimichurri sauce
The owner stopped by our table to chat. He told us to take our time because tango dancers (!!!) would be coming soon!


After they arrived he brought them to our table and we got to meet them.  Very cool. 


Dessert: (mine...had a few bites and brought the rest home) Torta Rogel: Traditional Argentinian dulce de leche layered cake topped w/Italian meringue & served w/ mixed berries
WOW! Pretty and sweet.
(Chuck's) Camila: Decadent warm chocolate soufflé served w/ mini chocolate shake & Camila & chocolate truffle
Sinful.
The plates were each signed in chocolate.
Cappuccino and tango dancing
They said we could get up and dance with them. Chuck said, "Oh, that's going to happen."
And a couple of parting shots:
And no one thought it was weird at all that we were taking pictures. :)


An incredible restaurant.  A little pricey. A lot tasty.  It's a place that I'd like to bring the kids to let them try some different types of food.  Everything was fantastic. And the company was pretty wonderful too.


Have a good weekend.  I'm going to be spending Saturday and Sunday with the family.  See ya on Monday!