Wednesday Madness

The scale was not my friend today; but I dealt with it. Here’s how:

So, todays meeting was all about Power Foods. These are foods that are super good for you; i.e. all those foods included in the food plate Michelle Obama supported that is replacing the food pyramid we all remember from middle school health classes.

The cool thing about these Power Foods is that they are all very good for you and aids in the fight against a plethora of ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease, poor complexion, and arguably cancer. Technically, the fact that these are termed “Power Foods” and that they happen to do all these amazing things, isn’t really a new concept because, hello, it’s food–it’s healthy food that everyone knows about.

But the bonus for partaking of these Power Foods? NO TRACKING! What? Yup, you heard that right, folks. If you eat these Power Foods throughout the day, you do not have to track. You just have to gauge your fullness.

What the heck does that mean? It means that when you are satisfied and not so stuffed you are unable to function the rest of the night, you stop eating. We can do that. Yes, we can.

Back to how I ended up coping with my gain this week. We were in dire need of groceries so I went to Smith’s.

To backtrack, we had a bad night that consisted of going to sleep at one am, Jason waking up numerous times because the cats were having a wonderful time playing up and down the hall wrestling with each other, and culminating in an 8 am wake up call of city trucks and jack hammers ripping up the curbs and sidewalks right outside our window. Needless to say, Jason chose sleep over weight watchers, and I can’t say as I blame him.

I went to Smith’s alone, starting at the produce, and I picked up SO many Power Foods; cabbage, grapes, apples, bananas, corn, broccoli, pears, snow peas. Before leaving the weight watchers I picked up their Power Foods cookbook. We are ready to roll. Bring on the fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. BRING IT.

Of course, we still have to decide which recipes to try and which to avoid. Perhaps we can make our way through it a la Julie Powell.

**Question: How do you deal with set-backs?**

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Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

The houses I used to stay in and house sit were generally vast, large, and thus quiet. As the sole living being in these houses, or at least the sole human being in cases where I was caring for various dogs or cats, I would relish in that solitude. But solitude is a funny thing.

I’m not going to say that part of the fear I feel of large, empty homes I’m inside is irrational, and part of the fear is actually self-inflicted. But I have been able to gauge when I can “self-inflict” with the least amount of trauma.

When I was in high school, I house sat for a co-worker of my mother. They lived in an upper-class part of Reno. I was excited to stay at their home because it was very pretty. The back yard was amazingly landscaped with a running waterfall and miniaturized creek bisecting it. There was a well-made gazebo and while there were homes all around, the yard was big enough to give you the sensation of seclusion; situated within the housing development, the yard still had amazing views of nearby mountains. At night, because the housing development was far from the tall buildings and hotels of downtown Reno, you could see a full blanket of stars.

So, this house had a lot of doors and windows. One night, I decided that I wanted to call my mom before heading off to bed. But before I could dial, I heard it. I did not hear the expected dial tone, but what sounded more akin to the sound of a person breathing. I hung up fast. That urban legend about the babysitter flashing through my mind. I picked up the phone again and made the call to my mom, frantic. She listened calmly, and had me call my cousin. He specialized in security alarms and told me to check the doors and windows. “Are there any open”?

Yes, there was a door that was slightly ajar, but I really couldn’t remember if I had opened it or not. My cousin came over to check it out. Walking though the house, he didn’t find anything significant and soon left. I had worked myself up for nothing. I sat down to watch some TV; a comedy if I recall correctly.

From this experience, I have found that I do tend to enjoy stories (written or visual) that elicit this intense feeling of adrenalin coursing through my veins. When I watch certain horror movies, for instance, I need to follow it up with a good comedy, especially at night, when who knows what is out there.

I mentioned that I am able to gauge in what context I can partake of these traumas (I hope you see that these traumas are really just scare tactics). As an example, I present the process I undertook in watching the movie “Silent Hill.”

Holy crap, this movie is spooky with its use of mist and off camera action. I think 87% of creepy is the anticipation of creepy that the truly great cinematographers create for us.

I was house sitting for my aunt and uncle at the time. They were leaving quite early in the day, and so I woke up early to see them off (I had spent the night). I think they left about 4:30 or 5:00 am. The sun hadn’t even risen yet. It was dark outside, but it was the kind of dark that suggested that the sun would soon be there. I watched the movie at about 5:30 in the morning, the sun still hiding behind the Sandias. I finished watching the movie when the sun was low still, so the shadows cast were still a tad menacing and frightening.

When I was 14, my family moved into our house in Sparks. I had spent the summer before watching zombie movies with a neighbor girl of my cousin. The house was situated at the top of the street which ended in a cul-de-sac. My room was at the front of the house and looked out and down the long street that lead to the house.  That first night, I had a dream. It was your typical zombie dream; hoards of freshly dead, blood-thirsty, brain-hungry zombies making their way up our street and eagerly trying to get in via my bedroom window. Lovely, right?

So now Jason and I are living in our own big, vast, and quiet house. And what do I do with my time? I watch AMC’s The Walking Dead. And this show isn’t my first to cover the idea of a post-Apocalypse world, overrun by zombies. I’ve seen Night of the Living Dead (the old ones, the sequels, and the remakes) and Resident Evil. It’s how I get me kicks, you know? Did I mention that I was a film minor in college? I even took a horror film class!

I don’t necessarily watch TWD to scare myself, while that does happen on occasion (see afore-mentioned appreciation of cinematic suspense), but I watch for the human story–the humanity (and lack there of) behind the needs for survival. This is most profound within the story lines of TWD.

But all this horror indulgence has a price. After watching a season and a half, I’ve convinced Jason that we need bars on our windows. Technically, I’m a little apprehensive of how close the house is to the sidewalk and the ease of access our house has (to me). But in the back of my mind, it’s a step closer to preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. Irrational? Perhaps. But who knows what the results and effects of biological weaponry will be.

**Question: What is your irrational fear? And how are you facing it?**

Seven Monkeys in My Head

Sometimes it really does feel like I have a whole slue of primates jumping about in my brain. This is otherwise referred to as a migraine. Today’s was generally manageable. Y’see, on Sunday I slept funky and tweaked my neck somehow. And it’s been sore ever since. Today that pain crept up into my head.

Two highlights for today:

Jason and I both had excellent losses at our WW meating this morning. Mine was 2.8 for a total weight loss of 11.4 (I’ve now officially lost all the over-the-holidays weight).

We then went to Men’s Wearhouse to get the suits squared away for the men-folk. Jason has been talking about wearing a morning suit for the longest time, so that’s what we got.

Seven monkey migraine aside, it was a good day.

Monday Munchies (II)

I apologize. I apologize right now because one of the items I’m going to share with you was so amazing, and you weren’t here to enjoy it. Don’t feel too bad. I’ll include a recipe.

Breakfast was my go-to oatmeal with crunchy PB, chia seeds, and splenda to sweeten. No breakfast is complete without coffee (with FF half-&-half and more splenda). Cuties were on sale this week, and thanks to my friend Debra, I actually knew about it! Can we say “hooray” for baby oranges sans the seeds? HOORAY!

Today’s lunch was sort of put together in a half-assed attempt at watching my points and filling my belly. No pictures present because it was pretty lame and boring. I had two Smart Dog links and a WW string cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. On the side I had left over mashed potatoes. Dessert was WW’s take on a Snicker’s Ice Cream Bar.

Now, for the main event: Dinner

Ever since my aunt sent my first care package to me in Seoul, which included within it a large bag of red chili powder, Jason and I have been making this recipe for Carne Adovada. Living in New Mexico has its perks, and amazing (and HOT) chili is one of them.

Ingredients >> 1-3 lbs beef (we used a flank steak), cubed,  2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced, 3 tbsp cooking oil (we used olive, but canola or vegetable will work as well), 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, 4 tbsp red chili powder, 1 tsp salt, 2-3 cups water <<

Process >> heat meat in a frying pan, just long enough to brown. Put the meat into the crock pot. Mix together the flour, chili powder, and salt in a bowl and set it aside. In a frying pan, heat oil. Add in minced garlic. Mix the garlic until it’s golden (not too dark or it will be very bitter). Add 1-2 tbsp of the dry mixture to the garlic oil and mix. You will need to work fast. As you mix the chili into a paste, add in 1/2 cup water. Alternate between the chili mixture and the water until all the chili is incorporated. **For thicker chili sauce, use 2-2 1/2 cups of water, for thinner chili sauce, use 3 (or more) cups.** Pour the well-mixed chili sauce into the crock pot over the meat. Mix to coat the meat. Set on low for 4+ hours.

When our Carne Adovada was ready, I served myself a bowl. You know you want some. With some low-fat cheese and a whole wheat tortilla… Yum-O.

I paired dinner with a nice California red; a delicious blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, which was refreshing and NOT dry at all, but sweet.

**Question: Are you a wine person or a beer person?**

My Cat Smells Like Coffee

“Mom. Mom. Mom.” Abner peers out the window of our breakfast nook which looks out to the backyard. He looks at me. He looks back out the window. “Mom. Mom. Mom.” He looks back at me.

I’ve just come into the kitchen, bringing in dishes from the night before that Jason and I had left in the office. My steps echo slightly due to the lack of furniture. We’re just starting out, and this place is bigger than we know what to do with yet.

Lilith is running back up the hall; she’s a tad neurotic, did you know? Uptight, and a stickler for schedules. She’s bossy too. But Abner is still at the window. His chocolate fore-paws resting on the low windowsill. It always amuses me how human-like a cat looks when they stand on their hind legs. From behind, they look like a mini-person. Of course the tail just adds to the amusement.

Abner looks out the window. I watch his head go from one image to another in quick, fluid movements. If he could speak, he’d say, “Mom. Mom. Mom.” in detached staccato.

Outside, a team of workers are efficiently hacking down branches of a tree in our neighbor’s yard. It’s very exciting.

I move to the couch, or rather the love seat. I’m not entirely sure the difference because both have only two cushions on which to sit. I guess the couch is a tad longer.  I take up position on our love seat and had I started counting, I wouldn’t have reached seven before Millie climbs on my lap. Can you say “princess”? Apparently I am Millie’s personal lap. It’s the sole reason for my existence. Just ask her.

Lucky for me, I have already wrapped up in my blanket and have access to the iPhone and remote. We like to watch things like People’s Court and Judge Judy purely for the social commentary. It’s how we roll.

Millie adjusts herself, practically crawling up my chest so her paws can burrow into my long, disheveled hair. All my gatos do this. What’s that about?

The closer she gets, the stronger the scent of coffee floats into my nose. Does my cat smell like coffee? Why does she smell like coffee? Sniff. This elicits another nuzzle of her head. We’re being affectionate. And she smells like coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great smell. But Millie sometimes smells of kitty litter and cat food, so I have to wonder. “Millie, why do you smell?” I ask, half expecting an answer as I always do. Yes, I talk to them all and while they don’t ever answer, I swear they know what I’m talking about and WOULD, in fact, answer me if they had the appropriate larynx or fingers to sign with.

My gaze drifts to our coffee hutch, the selling point of the house for me, quickly checking that the pot hasn’t shattered and coffee isn’t seeping through the counter top or rolling down it to the terracotta floor. Nope. The little green light is on, silently letting me know that should I like another cup, the deep brown coffee is warm and ready. It’s as deep brown as it is because we still don’t have a coffee scoop and use a regular spoon, resulting in a strong, robust flavor. And smell.

Maybe my cat doesn’t smell like coffee, but I do. Perhaps we all do. I wonder if, when we leave to go shopping, people can detect the scent. What a horrifying thought, considering that I used to appall the smell. The smell used to make me nauseous. But, no. My cat smells like coffee. I don’t understand it.

Through it all, Ebeneezer is chill. He makes his way down the hall to the office. Before he goes in, he takes a seat. He is just so ready for his close up.

The Good Kind of Thinspiration: Newton’s First Law of Weight Loss

And by “Good Kind” I mean that I’m not referring to the skeletal waifs that really, really weight-obsessed individuals turn to for inspiration while they push through one more day of not eating. I’ve checked out these images on various websites, and because I feel that I would rather not even link to descriptors of such sites, shielding you, my readers, I will refrain. Needless to say, people find inspiration in just about anything.

No, by “Good Kind” I mean me. Let me explain so I don’t sound completely self-absorbed.

Today was weigh-in day at Weight Watchers. All week, I’ve been busting my a$$ to track my points, drink my water, and take my vitamins. I did a nearly hour-long walk with Jamie and Victoria on Saturday, yard work with Jason on Monday, and yoga with Bob on Tuesday.

After last week’s gain, I would be damned if I was going to gain AGAIN. In fact, I gained weight each week since November 30th.

But, today I stepped onto the scale with confidence, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, before I reveal my number for this week, I need to express how stupid I feel. I mean, really. Duh. Of course WW works IF you track, drink water, and exercise. I know that pretty much since we moved into the new house, I’ve been a HUGE slacker. How silly do I feel after doing what I SHOULD have been doing and seeing results? Pretty dang silly.

In essence, I defer to Newton’s First Law of Motion whereby if you don’t make a change, no change will happen. In doing nothing (not sticking to my program) nothing was happening (I wasn’t losing weight; I was in fact gaining the weight I had already lost when I was doing something, which is reminiscent of Newton’s 3rd law about equal and opposite reactions).

So, our take away physics lesson for the day is: Do not stand still, MOVE. By MOVING, you may come away with a weekly weight loss number of 4.2 pounds. By moving, you might just see results.

**Question: What moves, motivates, or inspires you?**

The Monday Munchies

In light of the fact that my Weight Watchers weigh-in day is Wednesday, and I don’t want to focus too much on food right after I have weighed in, I’ve decided to turn my WIAW into a MM (see above).

So here it is:

Breakfast was a delicious pairing of Folgers Classic Roast with a dash of sugar-free vanilla syrup and milk and a homemade-by-me scone featuring chia. Now, I’ve been making these scones since I was in Korea with a slight modification. Instead of buttermilk, which was hard to come by in Seoul, I combined equal parts milk and yogurt. Depending on what your plan is, you can use plain or flavored yogurt. Of course for those of you who are looking for a healthy alternative, you can use skim milk and fat-free yogurt, which I’ve done on MANY occasions with the same yummy result. You can also mix and knead in fresh fruit, chocolate, or as I did this time, chia, for an added tasty bonus.

Coffee & Scone (8 pps)

Lunch was a little less homemade. Here I have a Smart Dog on a slice of whole wheat bread which was spread with Laughing Cow Swiss and sprinkled with blackening spices. WW Dijon pretzels and a Fig Newton bar finish out the plate. On the side, I have a hearty black bean soup from Amy’s.

Smart Dog & Amy's (13 pps)

And finally, dinner. Jason was craving Chinese, so we hit up a local place called Heaven Dragon. I ordered the chicken teriyaki and Jason got the Hunan style chicken. It would have been great if they had included our hot & sour soup instead of the lo mein we ended up with. Them’s the breaks, kids. All in all the food wasn’t too bad, and they actually deliver–a novelty for anything other than pizza in Albuquerque.

Chicken Teriyaki (10 pps)

And for desert, what Chinese dinner would be complete without a fortune cookie? I think this cookie might be referring to Duke City, how about you?

Fortune Cookie (1 pps)

**Question: What did you munch on today?**