Tag Archives: diet

Estranged Bedfellows

cheetah and dogYou’ve heard about these guys, right? The cheetah and the dog at the San Diego Zoo that are best buds in spite of their instincts? That dog should have been a snack AGES ago; but, the cheetah loves the dog and the feeling seems to be mutual. Strange bedfellows, no doubt.

Yesterday afternoon, my mind drifted to the subject of strange bedfellows, drifted right on through that and ended up at estranged bedfellows – specifically, PMS cravings and my current menu. Verily I say unto you, never the two shall meet. Not even close.

You and I, we’ve been having these little visits for months now; so, we’re friends and I can tell you that I’m PMSing in a big way. The thing is, when I have food cravings this time of the month, I can normally pinpoint what it is that I want. This month, I can’t.

In addition to feeling cranky, I’m feeling lazy, as well, and I want something convenient. I’ve been running through the list of foods I haven’t eaten in over a month now and I’m coming up empty. I got nothing that sounds like it will do the trick. Last night, I ate one of the cupcakes I made for a coworker and that didn’t do it, either. (I must say, though, that the cupcake with its frosting of Cool Whip, neufchatel cheese and diced strawberries was a treat.)

So now what?

As I sit here writing this, I’m drinking peach herbal tea and enjoying some dried plums. I used to enjoy prunes, but some marketing guy decided that we’re all way too hip and vital to eat prunes. Hip and vital people eat only dried plums. Whatever. I’m enjoying them even knowing that they’re not scratching that PMS food itch either.

So that leaves me sticking with my new menu, although mostly by default. I have to admit that if I identified this craving as cheese puffs, I’d knock that craving right out, then spend the next 30 minutes cleaning the orange dust off my keyboard. As it is, I’ll behave.

At least for now, my behavior and my menu are united, even if my cravings and my menu are estranged.


From The Black Knight to Varuca Salt

What a weekend!  I had planned to be at a family gathering; however, about five hours after lunch on Friday, I became violently ill.  The abrupt and violent onset of symptoms, as well as the timing, lead me to believe that I might have had some kind of microscopic hitchhiker on my lunch of salad greens, raspberries and slivered almonds.  Whatever the cause, I was effectively down for the count until yesterday, at which point, my appetite became Varuca Salt.

This happened a couple of times during my first big reduction.  I would have these cravings that made me feel almost panicky.  And what did I crave?  Red meat, the greasier, the better.  Bratwurst cured the cravings both times.  Yesterday, a small burger made from ground chicken and feta did the trick.

Our bodies will often tell us what they need, I think.  Sometimes we call it “having a taste for” something.  Sometimes we call it a craving.  Whatever we call it, I believe it is direct communication from our bodies addressing some deficiency. The communication I got yesterday was urgent – cellular Varuca Salt screaming, “I want it now!”

While we can’t be at the mercy of cravings, we certainly have to address them because they just don’t go away.  From time to time, my body will tell me that it needs Cheetos.  I’m pretty sure it’s lying to me. Still, I have to address the craving before it becomes a monster.  More often than not, some salted nuts will do the trick.  My body just wanted something salty and it asked for what it prefers: Cheetos – the puffy kind.  But, in a pinch, it will take the mixed nuts.

Ice cream cravings can be addressed with a container of yogurt put into the freezer or even a frozen banana.  Chocolate cravings can be annihilated with a small piece of dark chocolate or even an apple.  It depends on if my body wants the chocolate or the sugar.

veruca-salt-2On occasion, though, cravings have fangs.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  I try all the healthful alternatives, but my body just giggles and says, “Nice try, chica. Now, hustle on down to the store and get me some M & Ms.  Chop! Chop!”  So, I hustle on down to the store.

Here’s where the individual servings come in REALLY handy.  I can get a small bag of M & Ms and that will quiet the craving.  I don’t have to get the King Size or the Front End Loader Size.  The regular one is good.  A single serving of a quality ice cream works.  I find that those tiny Haagen Dazs work better than the same size of some other brands since the ice cream is both richer and denser.  Once I enjoy the single serving, I’m good to go.

The body wants what it wants.  I just don’t always know exactly what it’s asking for when it makes its demands. Still, I can address the needs without becoming a slave to the cravings, creating further ones with sugar crashes or eating myself into bigger pants.

Vegetable Medley

1/2 grapefruit, dry toast, boiled egg.  Baked chicken, green beans, and salad.  Baked chicken, green beans, salad.

We’ve all tried this diet, haven’t we?  This one or another that was about as enticing as a dose of cod liver oil.  There’s no way anyone can stay on a diet like that in our society.  We are accustomed to too many choices.  Any plan to narrow food intake to just those items is doomed from the start.

During my lifestyle change, I wanted to keep mealtimes interesting.  To do that, I tried lots of new foods.  You saw some of the choices on the menu here yesterday.  There may be some things on that list that are unfamiliar to you or you may just not think of eating them often.

328134_10151065513318197_1002986048_oTo the list of vegetables I eat regularly, I added eggplant, kale, collards, turnip greens, edamame, rutabega, beets, beet greens, sweet potatoes, parsnips, purple carrots, butternut and acorn squash, yellow tomatoes, Italian rabe or rapini, etc.  I still keep broccoli, carrots, grean beans, tomatoes, salad greens, spinach, cauliflower, cucumbers, yellow and zucchini squash, onions, mushrooms, cabbage, asparagus, sweet peppers and some others I’m sure I’m forgetting.  Look at the variety there!  And there are still lots of things I haven’t tried – kohlrabi, fennel, to name two!  Switching up what I cook keeps mealtimes interesting.  It also switches up the nutrients I’m getting, making my diet more balanced. You might have noticed that I don’t list corn or white potatoes anywhere.  That’s because corn has very little nutritional value for humans – which is a crying shame, if you ask me.  I do enjoy corn on the cob or a corn salad every great now and then, but maybe only two or three times a year.  And white potatoes are really starchy.  Again, they are something I just don’t eat often.

My point is this: vegetables come in a huge variety! Try something new.  If you don’t like it, don’t eat it again.  If you do, you’ve just found something new to add to your rotation.

Let’s Eat – 2

It’s time again!  Here are some meal suggestions for the upcoming week with approximate calorie values.  Like I said last week, your calorie budget will likely be different from mine.  Make appropriate adjustments and EAT ENOUGH.  You will sabotage yourself by eating too little as surely as you will by eating too much. Our goals should be to be healthier, not to be the media’s version of beautiful.  We aren’t all built that way and it would be unhealthy for many of us if we did look that way.  My friend Amanda has beautifully delicate bones.  At a size 4, she looks fantastic.  With my medium bones, at a size 4, you can see where my ribs join my sternum.  It’s straight up nasty.  Let’s be healthy and be the beautiful we were made to be rather than the one we’ve been told to be.

For breakfast, you’ll see three meals of steel cut oats.  I like those for several reasons: 1. you can cook several servings at once and just warm them up when you need them, 2. by adding different things, you get vastly different meals, 3. they have a wonderful texture and flavor, and 4. they stick with you, providing good energy for busy mornings.

On this list, you will find crunchy natural peanut butter.  I use the natural kind because I don’t want anything other than peanuts and salt in my peanut butter. Smuckers makes a good one; but, Publix, Kroger and Walmart all sell a store brand.  It does cost a little more than homogenized peanut butter and you have to mix the oil in (or pour it off, like I do), but you’re not getting added sugar or palm oil.

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning is listed a couple of times.  If you don’t have that in your kitchen, stop right now.  Go get some and don’t let yourself ever run out again.  It’s great on nearly everything and adds either mild or frightening kick depending on your taste buds.  I use it in eggs, on chicken, on fish, on steamed vegetables…..

Thanks for reading and, please, enjoy your food, enjoy your week and share your favorite menus and recipes with us!


  • 1 c. fat-free cottage cheese, 1 navel orange – 290
  • 1/4 c (uncooked) steel cut oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp ground flax seed meal, 1 tbsp raw honey – 324
  • 1/4 c (uncooked) steel cut oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp ground flax seed meal, 1 tbsp molasses – 324
  • 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, 1/4 c. chopped onion, 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s sesoning, 1 c. raw spinach – 110
  • 1/4 c (uncooked) steel cut oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp ground flax seed meal, 1 sm. mashed banana – 354
  • 1 mini bagel, 1/2 tbsp crunchy natural peanut butter, 1/2 tbsp reduced sugar raspberry jelly – 171
  • 4 oz Jenny O sweet Italian turkey sausage link, 1 egg, 1/4 c. chopped onion – 237

Mid-morning snack

  • 1 apple – 72
  • 1 apple, 1 tbsp crunchy natural peanut butter – 167
  • 1 stick light string cheese, 1 c. seedless red grapes – 154
  • 4 tbsp hummus, 20 baby carrots – 280
  • 1 stick light string cheese, 1 c. red seedless grapes – 119
  • 1 large banana – 110
  • 1 grapefruit – 120


  • 2 c. iceberg lettuce, 1/4 c. onions, 25 g dark meat chicken, 3/4 c. black beans, 2 tbsp Marzetti Spinach salad dressing, 1 pc Laughing Cow semi-soft jalapeno cheese – 380
  • 1 c. raw spinach, 2 c. Italian salad mix, 10 boiled shrimp, 2 tbsp Ken’s Light Parmesan & Peppercorn dressing – 158
  • 1 c. fat-free cottage cheese, 1 navel orange – 290
  • 1/2 oz deli ham, 1.5 oz. genoa salami, 1/2 slice deli roast beef, 1 c. shredded lettuce, 1 tbsp. parmesan cheese – 221
  • 1 c. Italian salad mix, 1 c. raw spinach, 2 tbsp Marzetti spinach salad dressing – 88
  • 1 c. Italian salad mix, 1 c. raw spinach, 2 tbsp Marzetti spinach salad dressing, 10 boiled shrimp – 148
  • Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich – 350

Mid-afternoon snack

  • 1 whole mango – 65
  • 2 oz English Walnuts – 370
  • 4 tbsp hummus, 20 baby carrots – 280
  • Fiber One chocolate peanut butter brownie – 90
  • 1 mini bagel, 1/2 tsp crunchy natural peanut butter – 158
  • 1 c. seedless red grapes – 69
  • 1 navel orange – 62


  • 1/3 serving grilled chicken nachos (El Pollo Loco), 6 grilled chicken wings – 582
  • 4 oz baked Swai, 2 thin slices bacon, 1 c. steamed collard greens, 1 c. steamed turnip greens, 1 medium baked sweet potato, 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere’s seasoning – 391
  • 1 c. collard greens, 1 thin slice bacon, 1/2 c. white beans – 242
  • 1 baked chicken leg quarter, 1 c. steamed yellow squash, 1 c. steamed spinach – 248
  • 6 oz baked chicken breast, 1 c. red seedless grapes, 1 c. iceberg lettuce, 2 tbsp Ken’s Light raspberry pecan vinaigrette – 324
  • 1 c. Italian salad mix, 1 c. raw spinach, 2 tbsp Ken’s light options balsamic vinaigrette, 10 boiled shrimp – 148
  • Ruby Tuesday’s Barbecue grilled chicken meal (fit & trim) – 345

Evening Snack

  • 1 pc string light string cheese – 50
  • 1 c. dark chocolate almond milk – 120
  • 1/2 c. fat-free cottage cheese, 1 navel orange – 142
  • 3 c. popped kettle corn (Pop Secret) – 105
  • 1 pc Babybel 70
  • 1 Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich – 140
  • 4 oz. Oikos caramel yogurt 110

A Calculated Walk in the Park

My exercise yesterday was shopping.  I know.  That doesn’t count.  Actually, it does.  I walked around the store for over 90 minutes.  For 90 minutes I was walking, not sitting,  While it wasn’t strenuous exercise for me, it would have counted had I been at the part; so, it counts when I was in Target.

Now, my walk in the park with the pups on Monday was considerably more strenuous.  We walked 2 miles at 3.7 mph.  Now, you know that math is not my best subject; so, how do I know that’s how fast we walked?  I have an app on my phone called Cardio Trainer.  The free version tracks how far and how fast I go using my phone’s GPS.  It gives me updates along the walk or run to let me know how far I’ve gone.  Using the weight I’ve input, it also tells me how many calories I burned and it equates those calories to something I can relate to.  The walk on Monday burned two pears’ worth of calories!

614501_10151061091178197_789753595_oIt allows me to input all my workouts manually to track everything I do.  It will also keep track of all my walks over time; so, in a month or so, it will tell me how far I’ve walked in total and how that relates to my region.  By the end of summer, I will have walked to Chattanooga and back, two or more miles at a time, without ever leaving home!

Cardio Trainer has an associated food diary app called Noom.  I downloaded that free version last night and will let you know how that goes.

As I told you earlier, I used LoseIt to lose weight before and I’ve been using MyFitnessPal this time.  The more I use MyFitnessPal, the less impressed I am, actually.  The food diary seems really random and disorganized.  That’s such a shame!  I had such high hopes for it.

I know there are tons of these programs out there.  What are you all using and what do you think of it?

Baby Steps Count

When I first started losing weight, I can’t tell you how many people lamented that they, too, would lose weight if only they could exercise.  My thought was that unless you are a quadriplegic, you can. Then, I injured my knee.

I couldn’t exercise in the ways I had been and in the ways I wanted; so, I pretty much just stopped. I pouted, threw a little pity party complete with cake and ice cream….and elastic waistbands until I forgot how I started.

I walked the dogs.

So, you can’t run a marathon.  Walk.  So, you can’t walk far.  Walk a little and build up. You can’t walk fast.  Walk slowly. Walk the dogs. Park further from the grocery store door. Eventually, take the stairs instead of the elevator.  You don’t have to be able to climb Everest today.  It will wait while you work up to it!

I have a friend whose knees are in such hideous shape that even thinking about how they grind and pop makes me shiver.  She can swim. She can do leg lifts.  She can lift weights with her arms. She can still move.

Remember how when we were children we ran everywhere just because we could? We experienced the joy of movement! Find something that lets you feel that joy again. I felt it yesterday just walking from my office to the nearby grocery store.  I felt my muscles waking, stretching, and contracting as they corrected my balance and allowed me to move.  Our bodies are truly wondrous machines!

Heather blossoms
Heather blossoms

After work, the pups and I went to the park and had a nice, long walk like we used to. We felt the warm sun and the cool breeze. We smelled the perfume of the flowering trees.  They spotted a deer and tried to go befriend it (I’m sure that’s what they had in mind). They loved it. I loved it.

It’s a beautiful time of year to start – to remember the joy of moving and the wonder of Spring. It may be a little cliché to say that we should let the season remind us of our own potential, new beginnings and growth; but, why waste a good cliché?  Let’s use it! Let’s start again.

Monday Morning Blues

Treble clef bike stand in NashvilleSo, I weighed in this morning expecting at least a pound lost and….no. Nada. Nothing. C’mon!  As long as I’ve been doing this and as many real causes as my mind can give, this still frustrates me, particularly at 5 AM.

I’ve run into this several times during this last couple of years.  Here are some possible culprits:

  1. The fact that I’m a woman in child-bearing years.  Girls, you know what I’m talking about.  Did you know that we can retain as much as nearly five pounds of water? I feel like a camel.
  2. Too much wheat.  My first week at my new job saw me eating about 10 meals of Cheerios and a couple of meals that involved mini bagels.  While my calorie counts were okay, too many of those calories were supplied by wheat.  I don’t know if all the studies are valid; so, I don’t know that wheat causes weight gain.  I just know that, for me, too much wheat makes me feel bloated.
  3. Too much fruit. When I first switched my food choices and when I’ve had to pull myself back onto the wagon, I found that eating a lot of fruit during those first weeks was really helpful with cravings.  I had quite a bit of refined sugar in my diet, which just wreaks havoc with my blood sugar.  To help me stay with healthful food choices, I replaced the refined sugars with fruit, then decreased the amount of fruit to cut overall sugar consumption.  It’s time for me to cut my fruit consumption down to two servings a day.  I’ve seen diet plans that recommend that you not eat apples.  Apples are actually VERY helpful for me.  They are sweet, colorful, crunchy, and full of both fiber and flavor; so, they satisfy my appetite in several ways.  You just have to try it for yourself and see how your body does with them.
  4. No enough exercise.  I have pretty much been wiped out when I get home at night and have not been getting any movement in.  That simply won’t do. For my weight, for my heart, for my muscles, for my bones – I must exercise.

So, what are my solutions and goals for this week?

  1. Nothing much I can do about that whole girl thing but wait it out and drink a lot of water to keep my system flushing.
  2. I have to reduce my wheat intake. This week, I will have no more than two servings of wheat.  I will satisfy my grain requirements with oats, brown rice and quinoa.
  3. I will have no more than two fruit servings per day.
  4. I will get in at least four hours of exercise this week that will include at least five days.

If we are connected on MyFitnessPal, you can hold me accountable for my exercise – and I EXPECT YOU TO! If you don’t see me moving during the week, send me a little nudge.  If we are not connected on MyFitnessPal, why aren’t we? Connect with me and let me know your goals and how you’re doing. Let’s help each other.

The keys to breaking through this stall are:

  1. modify my behavior.  To get different results, I must do different things.
  2. (and this is most important) DO NOT ALLOW OLD, NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERNS TO DEFEAT ME.  

I have been my own worst enemy.  It is long past time I became my own best friend and defender.

Who Is That Fat Woman?

Me and my dad on Memorial Day 2011
Me and my dad on Memorial Day 2011

I’ve had a weight problem almost all of my life; however, when I saw photos from a family Memorial Day event in 2011, I was surprised to see how big I had gotten.  In my mind, I was around a size 14.  In the real world, I was a size 20 and still going up.  Surprised as I was, I was not motivated to make any kind of real change.

Oh, sure.  I told myself I was dieting and cut out my daily Snickers bar, but that was really it.  You see, that was kind of my life-long pattern.  The Big Diet Lie, as it were.  Don’t look at me like that.  You know you’ve done it, too.  “Oh, no more lasagne for me.  I’m on a diet.”  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you scarf an entire box of low-fat cookies.  Hey, but they’re low fat.  Stop it. You know you don’t even believe that.

I had lost significant amounts of weight using both The Diet Center program and Nutrisystem when I was in my twenties.  With the Diet Center program, I cooked my own food.  Nutrisystem was just like it is now – super, super easy. I just wasn’t commited enough to myself to keep the weight off with either program.

When I made the decision this time to actually lose weight, I remembered the food list from the Diet Center program. Unfortunately, their store fronts have long gone out of business and the books are no longer in print.  So, I went to abebooks.com (my most favoritest book site) to get a copy of the cookbook and of the program guide.  The books are written by Sybil Ferguson who devised the program for her own health.  I also bought a book called Your Body Knows Best about eating for your blood type, metabolism and heritage.  I combined those two programs and came up with a group of foods that work for me.

The short description of the list is this: lots of fresh fruits & vegetables, no canned foods or premade sauces (they hide all kinds of sugar, sodium and preservatives in canned and jarred food – read the labels, they”ll scare you to death), meat-free Mondays (or just some day of the week), fish one day a week, no more than one diet soft drink a day (down from 6 or 7 cans a day!), and absurd amounts of water.  A daily multi-vitamin ensured that my vitamins and minerals weren’t all flushed out by the copious amounts of water I drank.  I also took flax seed and fish oil supplements to help curb cravings.  My body craves red meat; so, I eat it.  My dad had a calf slaughtered before it got into the meat processing system.  The cuts are leaner from this grass-fed calf (which also hadn’t been treated with all those antibiotics necessary for cattle in stockyards); however, even with fattier cuts, I just counted the calories.  A good piece of roast beef from time to time isn’t going to kill me and if it keeps me from craving worse things, then, in the balance, it’s the best move for me.

I ate three meals and three snacks a day, keeping my mealtimes as routine as possible.  For me, this regular intake of calories kept my blood sugar steady which kept me alert and hunger pang free.   I’ve read that the body often signals the need for fluid by making you feel hungry; so, if I found myself feeling peckish outside of routine meal times, I drank a large glass of water or a cup of hot herbal tea.   If the water trick didn’t work, I brushed my teeth.  That minty feeling often cut off hunger at the pass.

I do not buy sugar free cookies or candies since they actually contain sugar alcohol which, I have discovered, makes me hungry.  For 110 calories, I can have two pieces of sugar free candy and be hungry enough to gnaw off my own fist in 30 minutes, or I can have a large banana and be satisfied for two hours.  For the same reason, I rarely ate pasta or white breads.  Any bread that I ate came from the store bakery, from the farmers’ market or from my own oven.  Since the stuff sold on the shelves takes so long to mold, it scares me.  I’d rather buy from a local baker, pay a little more, put some in the freezer to keep it fresh and know that I’m reducing the preservatives in my diet.

I would estimate that the first 40 to 50 pounds were lost basically to changing food choices and habits.  It was phenomenal!  But, did you notice how an awful lot of those habit descriptions involved the past tense?  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you why.