Where to Start: Choosing What Works For You

start-button

I’m getting asked a lot lately, “So how are you losing all of this weight?” I usually don’t initiate conversation about my weight loss, but if someone opens the door to a discussion, LOOK OUT! I’m not shy talking about all aspects of my weight loss (except for that pesky starting weight number…I’m still not ready to divulge that information yet!).

I decided it may be helpful to start a step-by-step blog series about starting on a path to health and happiness. I’m not sure how many installments there will be, but this first post focuses on figuring out what works for you.

Each person is unique, which means what works for me, may not be right for someone else. As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, I subscribe to a low-carb way of eating. I did research about what it meant to be low-carb. I realized I didn’t have to give up my coffee with cream (at first I used heavy cream, but now it’s almond milk all the way) and sugar (stevia of course!). I could continue eating bacon (c’mon…who doesn’t love a little bacon in their life?!?!), butter, and cheese. Seemed like a WOE from heaven, right???

Well, hold on now…I then had to look at what I would have to remove from my diet. Sugar…no problem there for me. I rarely was into the sugary, baked goods and candies. Wheat…this would prove to be slightly more difficult. Wheat is in EVERYTHING!!! Breads, pastas, crackers, etc. I used to eat a lot of pasta. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be able to find several pasta substitues that I actually enjoy more than the real deal. Starchy veggies…potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, oh my! I was a french fry freak! Would I be able to break that habit??? Obviously I did, but it was really difficult the first week.

I have read a lot about how it’s so horrible to remove a food group entirely from ones diet, but I’m here to tell you that for me, it’s way more healthy. I tried Weight Watchers and counting points. I stopped after a few months. I was constantly hungry. I didn’t enjoy a lot of what I was preparing for meals, which is what this post boils down to. Figure out what you’re willing to change as far as what you eat. In order to lose the flab, the first step is figuring out a healthy WOE! Do your research before you start. It is important to prepare for changing up how you shop for groceries and cooking in the kitchen.

Advertisements

What I “Get” To Eat

alexfoodpyramid

Most of the time, when someone goes on a “diet,” there is this self-sacrificing mentality. “I have to give up this and that and those!” Sure, I removed wheat, sugar, and some high starch vegetables from my diet, but the list of acceptable foods is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than the list of no-no’s.

When many people change their food lifestyle, especially when they are “forced” to do so due to medical issues, the focus is placed on what they will be missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown a few pity parties due to the choices I’ve made to remove certain foods from my diet, but then I remember all of the delicious foods I can still have. Nope, I can’t have popcorn anymore, which was one of my favorite snacks and has been the most difficult to find a replacement snack that is acceptable. And I really miss fruit…pineapple, apples, kiwi, peaches/nectarines, plums…the list can go on for quite a while. Popcorn and fruit…my only foods I truly miss. Although I can’t eat these right now, I can slowly add them back into my diet eventually.

So what do I do when I wish I could have popcorn??? Well, for a little while pork rinds drizzled with butter was my snack of choice. It worked for a while. I got the buttery crunch I was looking for, but it just wasn’t the same. Eventually I succumbed to the fact that there isn’t a substitute and instead stocked my cupboards with other options. I love almonds and can have these tasty treats in moderation. I love all of the fun flavors available now…cocoa roasted, wasabi soy, smoked, salt and vinegar…yum!

I guess the point of this post is to remind you and me to stay positive. Don’t focus on the “can’t haves.” Focus on the “can haves!” Life is way too short to get hung up on the short list of things I can’t have. Last week (March 6, 2013), I reached my one year anniversary of starting this journey. I would have never made it this far if I hated what I was eating! If I dreaded my food choices there would have been no way to stick with it for so long. I am living a life I can ENJOY and I don’t feel deprived!

Chicken Fried Steak

I had Sandra Lee’s Money Saving Meals show on the other day and she made chicken fried steak with sawmill sausage gravy. I thought to myself as I watched her fry up the steaks, “Hmmmm, I really think I could make this recipe.” And that’s exactly what I did! I am quite pleased with how this recipe turned out. Some of you may be asking, “Don’t you have to use flour to bread the cube steak?” YES! I did use flour, however not that nastly, old wheat flour. No, I had a bag of soy flour in my pantry just waiting to be opened.

Here’s how this recipe went down….

Ingredients:
4 cube steaks
1/2 C soy flour
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/2 C canola oil

First combine the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika in a pie plate. In a second pie plate, wisk eggs. The eggs may need some thinning out. You can use either water or a small amount of heavy cream.

Season the cube steaks with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef first in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and then dip in egg. Dredge in flour mixture a second time. Shake off excess flour and set aside. Be sure the cube steaks are evenly coated with the egg mixture before dredging for the second time.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Fry the cube steaks until they form a golden brown crust. This usually takes approximately 3-5 minutes per steak. Let the beef rest on a paper towel lined plate.

That’s it! Super simple and quite tasty. I have to admit, this is the first fried food I’ve had in almost a year. It was fun to have, but I definitely won’t be making this very often. I am not craving this fried foods anymore. I also did not make the sausage gravy. I may try to concoct this recipe in the future. I could see myself making some flaxseed “bisquits” and topping them with the gravy.

Each steak is approximately 2 Net Carbs. 1/4 C of soy flour has 3 Net Carbs.

Spicy Sweet Buffalo Chicken

20130303-175126.jpg

As I was planning what I wanted to make for dinner the other night, I got a big craving for buffalo wings. I thought about all of my favorite bar haunts and the ridiculous number of ways these places prepare their wings. There is inevitably always a sweet and spicy option that usually has an Asian flare to it, however I really wanted the traditional buffalo taste with a slightly sweet note.

What transpired in my kitchen has to be one of my most favorite chicken recipes to date! I’ve made this recipe 3 times in the past week!

20130303-175119.jpg

Ingredients:
Family pack of chicken thighs (approximately 8-10 pieces)
1/4-1/3 C Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
Artificial Sweetener (I used the equivalent of 3-4 packets of Stevia in liquid form)
3 T butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a frying pan screaming hot and brown thighs skin side down until it’s crispy and golden-brown. Flip and brown other side of thighs. During the browning, stir the wing sauce and sweetener together. Melt butter in microwave. Place browned thighs on cooking sheet. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Drizzle the thighs with the butter and spoon the wing sauce over thighs liberally. Bake thighs for 45 minutes.

That’s it! Easy, peasy, right??? I topped my thighs with blue cheese dressing. Another option is ranch dressing. Any way you eat these, you will be addicted!!! The carbs for this recipe is so minimal, that I’m not even going to give totals. If you add dipping sauces, be sure to count those Net Carbs.

What Was That?!

There are some cool things that I am beginning to notice about my body as I continue to lose weight. The first thing I really noticed was a ring I wore a lot was becoming looser. Then I noticed my fingers were becoming more stick like instead of their usual plump, rubber band around the knuckles, looking selves. The knuckles are becoming the thickest part of my fingers now, which is really how most peoples’ fingers are, right?

Then I began to notice the wrist knob. I don’t know what else to call it, but it’s that bump that is on the top side of your wrist (pinky side). I used to never be able to see it…I could feel it, but not see it.

About a month ago, I took a good look at my driver’s license photo. What I saw was CRAZY!!! I mean, straight up CRAY-CRAY. I saw a woman staring back at me who didn’t have a neck and quite plump cheeks. When I look in the mirror now, I can see a distinct separation between my head and my shoulders.

Now, a few weeks ago, I really got freaked out! I was smoothing out my shirt over the sides of my stomach when my hands hit something hard, at about belly button level. I was startled. I thought, “What the hell?! What was that?!?!” I had never noticed anything hard there before so I began prodding these hard spots. They were in the same place on each side of my abdomen. There wasn’t any pain as I poked, and the hard places didn’t move as I pushed. It finally dawned on me these were my pelvic bones. I’ve had a nice ring of fat around my mid-section for so long, that I forgot they were there!

I’m excited to see what I notice next. For some these noticings may seem trivial or insignificant, but for me they have been HUGE (no pun intended!!!). It’s amazing how foreign my body was to me for so long. I avoided looking at myself…mirrors were the WORST! I avoided them. I would avert my eyes if I was standing near a mirror in which I could see my reflection. My mindset was, “If I can’t see it, then it’s not true,” which was just wishful thinking.

My eyes are open now. I have begun to really look at myself in both the literal physical sense as well as the metaphorical sense. Now that my eyes are open, I am trying to tackle the emotional stuff that really drove my unhealthy relationship with food. I posted a while back about emotional hunger and I have found that I continue to turn to food when I’m in pain or angry, but I’m much more aware of when this happens and I don’t give in to the hunger like I did in the past. I mentioned I’m seeing a therapist a couple times a week, which has helped me to “open my eyes.” This whole journey is a process and for the first time in my life, I feel like I am present in that journey. I’m the one in control and making choices that are best for me and my health…not just based on what feels best.

I Survived!!!

Today is officially 7 days post-op. The physical recovery has been pretty smooth sailing. I used crutches for about 4 1/2 days. I used pain meds for 5 days. I saw my doc 2 days after my surgery and everything looked great. I will see him again this Wednesday. Hopefully some of my stitches will be ready to be removed. They are probably the worst part of this whole thing! The site of the incision is the most painful area on my foot and, somtimes, those sutures can be pretty itchy. My podiatrist was able to successfully release the plantar fascia from my heel, remove a nerve that was pinched by the spur, and grind off the spur. There is some loss of feeling on various parts of my foot, but as long as my heel pain is completely gone after I’m 100% healed it will be worth it! The feeling should hopefully return, but it could take quite a while.

I’ve done some reflecting about my physical health as I was home all last week. I have to be honest…I was a little timid about being on crutches. I’ve used them in the past so it wasn’t that I was unsure about the mechanics of using them. I was more worried about how I would use them now in my physical condition. I was concerned about being too fat to use them. Thankfully I was able to maneuver around pretty easily. I didn’t become winded or feel overly exerted either. I didn’t experience sore arm/shoulder/pec muscles (which was probably due to the work I have put in at the gym before the surger). Granted, I didn’t have very far to go when I did need to use them, but it really got me thinking about what it would have been like to use them 90 pounds ago. It would have been similar to using them now with my two oldest nephews hanging on me! I can hardly imagine how difficult that would have been.

I have about 2 more weeks of recovery. I’m currently in a surgical shoe to protect my heel. Although I’m able to ambulate without much pain, I have to continue to be mindful about not over doing it. For now, I’m not to be standing and I need to keep walking to a minimum. I can’t wait to get back to the gym, going hiking, and being able to be active again without having to worry about how much pain I’ll be in after a couple of hours have passed from the activity.

Emotional Hunger

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, months, years where everything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong??? I was almost (emphasis on the almost) at that place last week. Over the past several months I have been trying to work on me and my shoes (AKA: issues). A couple of times a month, I see my therapist. I like to call this, “Me Time.” I get to tell someone all of my stuff and she has to listen to me. That’s what she’s paid to do. Not only does she listen, but she responds (in a very non-judgmental, unbiased way). Without going into too much detail, I’m looking at how I got to where I am today and what I need/want to do to change some things that aren’t quite working for me anymore.

It’s working…I’m feeling better about life in general, but there are always going to be those cruddy days. Last week was a cruddy week. I went through my finances and started doing my taxes. Oh LORD…those are two very difficult subjects, right??? Then to top it off, my heel was still (at the time) hurting and I needed to see my doctor again. And, on top of that, the scale wasn’t being very cooperative. All of those things made me hungry.

You see, food and I have this love/hate relationship. I love the taste and how it makes me feel when I eat, but I hate what the junk does to me and the guilt/shame I have after I have the love affair. I turn to food to celebrate, when I’m angry, when I’m sad, when I’m nervous, when I’m…I think you get the picture. My hunger is masked as physical, but I’m learning how to identify when it’s emotional hunger I’m actually experiencing. Check out this graphic that has been floating around the web-o-sphere lately:

EmotionalPhysicalHunger 2.5.13

Finding this graphic couldn’t have come at a better time. It really helped me identify what kind of hunger I was having. I will be referencing this table over and over as I continue in my journey. Number 7 is what I seem to struggle with the most when I feel emotional hunger. Sometimes I feel like I can’t satisfy my hunger. Several months ago this was still very frustrating, but I’m learning ways to deal with the “not full” feeling. I definitely have much more work to do, but day by day, and step by step, I’m getting control over my eating and emotional responses. Knowledge is power and being aware of what my mind does and how I respond is a big step in addressing some of these “shoes” I’m working on!