Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eating Good While Dieting

So, I wanted to lose weight, obviously, after baby number 2. In an earlier blog post I wrote about my new found love of running, and that has seriously helped me to tone and burn some calories. But for some reason, I couldn't get those pounds to come off, and this was all due to my diet, and I knew it. I am a foodie at heart. I love to eat, cook, cook, and eat. I love to try new dishes, and eat until my hearts content. Unfortunately, this isn't a good way to lose weight, I've found. Running alone will not cancel out all of the second and third servings of dinner I had the night before. Or the ice cream. So, reluctantly, I decided to give Weight Watchers another try. I did WW for about 2 months after having Maddy and lost 15 lbs, but quickly lost my momentum when I did some traveling.
I was dreading starting it. I wanted to lose weight, and I knew it worked, but I wasn't ready to make the sacrifice. But WW works for me, because food is all based on points which are derived from the food's calories, fat, and fiber content. So it's a concrete plan, and that works for me. I learned I wasn't good at "winging it" when it came to dieting. Food would always win.
So I've been at it for about 4 weeks now, and have lost about 7 or 8 lbs already. They have a breastfeeding plan, and my milk supply actually got better after I started the plan. The secret is to learn to eat wisely. I am a lot hungrier throughout my day, but if I make poor choices and eat 1 cookie for a snack instead of 1 cup of grapes, 1 yogurt smoothie, and 1 rice cake for the same amount of points, I will be starving by dinner. I have learned that if there is junk food in my house, I will eat it. All. I have learned not to buy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (1/2 the fat) because measuring out 1/2 cup at night doesn't really suit me when I want to binge and eat half the carton. I have learned that I need to keep lots of produce in the house to snack on, because if there aren't options, I will head for the junk food.
Anyways, I just wanted to share some yummy recipes and food options I have been trying over the past few weeks. I actually think I have been eating better as far as tasty meals, way more produce, more water, and taking my vitamins more regularly (things that are all tracked on WW.) I got this great cookbook while I was attending WW meetings last time called "From Pantry to Plate" Easy Meals from Foods You Keep On Hand. I think I have referenced it before. Here is some of the yummy stuff I have been eating!! With points values included:

(FYI: I get 27 points per day, so I try to keep my breakfasts at or around 6 pts, my snacks between 2-3, my lunch and dinner between 6-8, and usually try to leave 2 or 3 points for dessert.)

Ranch Style Eggs Over Polenta (6 Points)

Brazilian Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(4 points for 1 whole stuffed chicken breast!!)

Curried Shrimp Noodles with Basil (5 points)

Egg Muffin Sandwich
(Whole Wheat English Muffin with reduced-fat cheddar, 1 slice of turkey bacon, 1/4 cup of egg substitute or liquid egg whites) (5 points)
Berry Waffles
(2 frozen waffles, toasted, 1 cup of fresh mixed berries smashed with 1 packet of splenda, 2 Tbs. syrup)
(6-7 points depending on syrup)

The last 2 breakfast meals were actually my own creations. It is pretty fun to come up with versions of the things you like or were already eating, and make them fit into a diet. We have been trying so many WW meals, and loving them!! Of course, Tad gets to eat more of it than I do, but they are so good. Again, it's about being prepared, planning in advance, and seeking accountability where you are weak. I'm no expert in this area, and I have definitely cheated, struggled, binged, and been too hungry at times. But as I am losing weight, I'm figuring myself out and learning how to be more efficient and smart about what I eat!! Maddy is always asking me, "is this for your diet? Am I gonna like it though?"
If you want any of the recipes for any of the above meals, just email me at or leave a comment and let me know where I can email/message you! Happy dieting everyone!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My kids in pictures

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta

One night, I had some leftover basil, and some lemons that I didn't know what to do with. One of the only proteins I had on hand was chicken, so I just looked up Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta and found this incredible recipe!! I have already made it twice in the last few weeks, and it didn't last long in our fridge. Again, like a lot of my favorite recipes, it is easy, cheap, and only uses a few fresh ingredients. Tad and I are finding that those few fresh herbs, vegetables, or spices add so much flavor, and often taste much better than those with tons of ingredients, and those that aren't so fresh. So enough talking, start cooking! If you have these ingredients on hand, then make this dish! You won't regret it!!

Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta

1 lb. boneless chicken breast
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. shell pasta (I use whatever I have in my pantry)
lemon pepper (I never knew how wonderful this spice is!!)
1 lg. lemon
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh basil leaves (packed, julienned)
1 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan (I only used the 1 cup used in the dish, not the extra 1/2 cup to put on top, and it tasted fine!
freshly ground pepper

Pat chicken breasts dry.
Sprinkle heavily with lemon pepper.
Brown chicken in olive oil.
Bring water for pasta to a boil and add pasta.
Squeeze the lemon of all its juice, reserve the rind.
Grate 1 tsp. of rind, reserve the rind.
Once the chicken is browned, cut into 1" pieces.
Add water, lemon juice, grated lemon peel, and lemon rinds to chicken.
Cover and simmer chicken mixture until chicken is tender.
Rinse and drain pasta.
Add julienned basil, 1 cup Parmesan, and chicken mixture (with juices) to pasta.
Serve with freshly ground pepper and extra Parmesan (if you so desire!)

Have to give credit where credit is due:

(This picture makes my mouth water because I know how good it is!!)

Monday, August 9, 2010


(Right after the 5k, Run for Gus race T-shirts.)

I have never been a runner. In seventh grade, I was on track just because every other girl in my class was doing it, and so everyone did it. Let's just say, I was not a runner. Before one of my track meets, I was on the sidelines eating a big serving of fries. I learned my lesson after that one.
When I started dating Tad, I soon learned that running was one of his big passions. He started running in highschool after a really sad event happened in his life, and the running became therapy for him. He really enjoyed it and started running longer distances, training, running marathons, and logged 1000 miles in a year when he lived in Japan. He has amazing endurance, and can pick up and run about any race if he wanted to. I have seen him run a marathon without much training.
During our dating days, Tad would want to go on runs with me. This didn't happen much, but when it did, I did not get it. I would huff and puff about 30 seconds in, be ready to quit after about a half mile, and I would look over and he would be grinning from ear to ear and talk about how much he enjoyed running with me. Not only was I not good at running and didn't enjoy running, I didn't understand how it was any fun to run with someone like me who didn't enjoy it or get it.
Over the years, I have tried to lose weight in various fashions, and from time to time would try running. I would go out and time and time again, have the same experience. It was hard. My shins would hurt. I didn't enjoy it. And I would rather do a workout video at home.
Finally, in May of this year, I started running, and started enjoying it. I think I went out by myself once or twice, and then Tad and I ran together. He pushed me. He encouraged me to go further. I built up my confidence that I could go farther. I am a goal oriented person, so to say I could run a certain distance, and to do it, gave me hope that I could do it again, and maybe next time go further. This summer I have started to understand why Tad enjoys running. I have felt my feet hit the pavement, and I get excited. I have gone farther, longer, set goals, hit goals, and exceeded my expectations. On several runs, I would set a small goal, and then realize I felt fine and could go further, so much further than I ever thought I would go.
Now, I am not a fast runner, I am sure I don't have the right technique, and I need a lot more training, but I have definitely improved. I started with 1 or 1.5 miles, got up to around 2, and then was pushing 3 miles. I have been telling myself that I want to run a 5k and that I would sign up for one. I keep putting it off and saying I'll do it later. But Tad's hotel has a 5k that they run in July, and Tad said (about 2 or 3 weeks before), I should do it. I thought how I was already close to running 3 miles, and how maybe I could push myself and realize that I was already ready to run it. It seemed scary, but I decided to do it. I began actually "training" for a race. This gave me a number, 3.1 miles, and I really wanted to run it without stopping. I didn't know if this was possible. I was doing a 5k in my training, but with a 5 minute break half way through, and walking some along the way. I don't know why, but I felt like a failure to walk any part of the race. If I was going to pay money to run the race, then I wanted to run it, and not stop.
In one of my last runs before the race, I was suppose to run the 5k all the way through. It was a hot and humid morning. Almost no shade on the lakefront path. One of the hottest runs I had done. I could not run it. I felt sick and almost passed out. I thought, "there is no way I am going to be able to run the 5k." I was bummed.
But come race day, it was cooler. It was at 630 at night, it was about 80 degrees, and it was a beautiful night. Tad and I got to the race, had someone watch the kids while we ran, and got ready to go. I was nervous. Butterflies. When I saw all the "athletes" warming up and running before the race, I thought, "I feel so dumb. I'm not at athlete. What am I doing? What if I'm last? I don't even know how to warm up correctly."
Once that horn went off to start, I ran. I ran in that pack of runners. Tad said the difference between someone who runs for exercise and someone who is a "runner" is that someone who trains for races and faster times is a runner. He said, "Today, you become a runner."
A lot of people passed me, but I knew I had to keep my slow, steady pace to make it to the end. I felt good, motivated to be running all together, the same distance with these people. I chatted with a mom who was pushing her kids in a double stroller while running the race, passed Tad going the other way (who was so much further ahead of me), and jogged through the water stations and drank my water so I wouldn't stop.
I felt good, but towards the end, it was hard. Once I saw that finish line, I started running fast. I saw Tad and the kids, and I sprinted as fast as I could. I crossed that finish line, and I guess I was a runner. I ran the 5k in 36 minutes, which isn't fast, but for me, it was success. I didn't walk. I ran the whole way.
All these things are what Tad has been doing for about 15 years. Running. Training. Goals. Races. Success. And I love being able to join him in what he has loved for a long time. To go out on family runs and plan times to go out and run on our own. To enjoy it with him instead of always going to see his races and watching from the sidelines.
(Right after 5k)
I have realized that running is so much more than losing weight, or exercise. It becomes you. You show yourself that you can do more. You learn how to do it better. You train to go faster. You learn how to not give up. How to play those mental games with yourself when you are tired, but you know you can go further. I hope to continue to run, to do it better, to train to go faster, and to not give up. I want to run a 5k faster than 36 minutes. I want to hopefully train for a 10k. And I want to keep telling myself that I can do it, instead of "it's too hard."
Running is hard, but you push through, realize you can go the distance, and crush the part of you that said, "you can't do it."
Because I can. Today, I am a runner, and I will keep going.
(Out for a family run. Looking back on the city from out by the Planetarium.)