Sunday, November 20, 2011

In Arizona

I've been in Phoenix this week, visiting my snowbird parents. It's been lovely. I packed my gym clothes and sneakers and thought I'd get a good amount of time in at the gym, but to my surprise, this vacation has been anything but lounging by the pool and reading books. We've been up and on the road sight-seeing, going to potlucks and jam sessions and to ghost towns. There hasn't been a ton of time for running, but I'll pick it back up when I get back to snowy, frozen Calgary.

I haven't necessarily been eating the most diet-friendly foods, either. But I'm trying to remember to stop eating when I'm satisfied, not over-stuffed. The portion sizes I've encountered are ENORMOUS, so it's important to remember that I don't have to eat the whole thing.

I've got a few more days here, and then it's back to reality, and the pre-Christmas blitz of parties and sweets and speciality seasonal coffees. What's your strategy this year for dealing with the holiday temptations? One bite? Total willpower? Or swearing to starting again in January?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How do you eat an elephant?

It's an old joke, I know. But obviously it's still around for a reason.

I made it to the gym four times this week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I completed Week Two of the Couch25K program. I tried to remember some old tricks, like drinking tea instead of hitting the vending machine for an afternoon snack.

But this is the big breakthrough for this week - reminding myslf that if it's not really that good, don't eat the rest of it.

I think a lot of us were raised not to waste food. My mom and dad weren't enforces of a "clean plate club" but I do recall offering to box up my leftover pork chop and peas and carrots for the starving children of Ethiopia. They can have it! I don't want it!

Eating until I'm satisfied and then stopping is really hard for me. Even, disturbingly, when I'm eating something isn't that great. So it was a pretty big deal for me when multiple times this week, I pushed my plate away because I was either no longer hungry, or not really and truly enjoying what I was eating.

Portion control is one of my next goals - I've got to get my portions back in check. They've inflated again, and that's a great step to getting my diet back on track.

So back to that elephant - I'll get there. One bite at a time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It occurred to me the other day, on one of my increasingly infrequent trips to the gym, that the towels provided by my health club are getting smaller.

Or, as I stood there, trying to decide if I wanted to cover my top half or my bottom, or conversely, my front half or my backside - I realized that maybe it's me, getting larger.

Crap.

I went wedding dress shopping. Turns out it was an AWESOME experience, and lots of dresses fit, and there were no tears. Even if I don't lose a single pound, I will find a gown that I love that makes me look and feel absolutely beautiful.

But apparently using that as an excuse to eat cheetos and watch The Vampire Diaires is wearing a little thin.

So I'm trying again. I'm back at the gym, dipping my toes in the water, back attempting to do Couch25K AGAIN, because my life motto appears to be borrowed from my most despised playwright, Samuel Beckett.

"Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Every year for the past 3 years, I have attempted to write a 50,000 word novel in November, and once in August. I've never gotten there, but each time I learn something. I get closer and closer to finding characters that work, writing habits that fit, tools that help me get to my goal. I don't beat myself up - well, sometimes I read what I've written and throw myself across my chaise and bemoan the fact that I hate every word, but what I mean is - I can identify that what I've done here is a good start, but there are some problems and it needs polishing, and hey - next time I'll know better.

But when it comes to trying to lose weight, every 'failed attempt', every false start, every time I don't achieve success as I've definied it, I feel like I get further and further away from every achieving my goals.

So. Here are my goals, for the immediate short term:

Run 3 times a week.

Drink more water, fewer lattes with whipped cream.

Pack my lunch and stay away from the pastry counter.

Report back.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 14

The past few days have come and gone with relative ease. No big splurges planned this weekend, and I resisted the few that the little voice in my head tried to talk me into.

This is a really easy diet to follow. But it's a really hard diet. Does that make sense? It's simple. There are no weird juices to drink at specific times, with the exception of the hot lemon water in the morning. There are no bizarre restrictions like "no citrus on Day 3 and 11" and once you've figured out a few breakfast, lunch and dinner options that work for you, you can repeat them.

But at the same time, it's the same food. Over and over. If you thrive on variety, you can mix it up with different seasoning blends, or maybe even take some new veggies for a spin, you wild child, you. But basically, I eat eggs, mushrooms, peppers, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, yogurt and fruit. There's only so much you can do with salsa, trust me. When I get to the point of trying to add it to my yogurt? Someone stop me.

17 Days is simultaneously a really short time commitment and an eternity. My craving for peanut butter toast? Still nagging away in the background.

I'm getting really sick of grilled chicken breast and salad. And baked fish and vegetables. But I really do like the way I feel - energetic, lighter, even "thinner" if that makes sense. I don't look any different, but I feel stronger. I think it's worth it.

I've got three days left, and then on Thursday it's on to Cycle 2. I'm down another 1.5 lbs, to make 8.5 lbs total. That's more than half-way to the goal I set for myself for September.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 10

Our internet is out at home for the week so I haven't been able to update.

This diet is actually getting easier. I am still craving toast with peanut butter and I don't think that will ever go away, but it is not as hard to look forward to my salad with protein for lunch. I'm also not starving before dinner.

I weighed myself on Monday and I was down 5 lbs. This morning, I've seen the scale move an additional 2, for a total of 7 lbs lost in 10 days. Obviously I'm not expecting this rate to continue, but it's nice to get a headstart, is it not?

I'd like to be at 15 lbs lost by Labour Day, which I feel is a reasonable goal. I've got 7 more days on Cycle One, and then I can move on to Cycle Two and two servings of glorious starch. Oh, legumes. Lentils. Beans. Corn on the cob. I'm very excited about it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celebrations

Yesterday I went to the wedding of a former coworker and good friend, and then love of her life. It was a blast.



Gary and I before the ceremony.

I definitely did not stick to the 17 Day Diet guidelines. But I hadn't planned to.

In the morning, Gary and I got up and went for lunch at the bakery down the street. Baked goods and cheese are my favourite treats, and this place was heaven. Gary ordered a delicious looking salami and havarti sandwich and this incredible red pepper soup; I deliberated for quite awhile before making my selection.

I had already planned to eat whatever was served at the wedding and enjoy it. Since I was taking the day "off" anyway, would it hurt? I might as well have a sandwich with cheese on a fresh bakery bun, and throw in some sweets to top it off.

But I didn't. I planned for one evening off the diet, not one day. I knew that if I splurged, I'd regret it, feel depressed and then I'd give myself an excuse to keep eating whatever I wanted.

I've worked really hard for a week, why throw that all away?

So I ordered a garden salad with buffalo seasoned chicken breast. Honestly, guys, it was amazing. One of the freshest, tastiest salads I've had from a deli EVER. It was completely satisfying.

At the wedding, I had 3 or 4 glasses of wine (over the course of the day), some cheese and crackers, and at dinner then I ate until I was satisfied, not full. The prime rib roast and yorkshire pudding was really good, and the carrots and asparagus were also pretty tasty. I enjoyed the cheesecake dessert and a wedding cupcake.

My one regret is the midnight lunch bun with salami and cheese. I should have skipped it. I felt quite sick when we got home, and given that I stopped drinking and started dancing so I could drive us home, I think it was the rich food.

Today I'm right back at it. I did have a tiny piece of the lemon cake Gary bought at the bakery, but I own that choice. Tonight's dinner is cod with cajun seasoning and green beans. I've had yogurt and fruit and a ton of water, and my meals are planned for the entire week.

Celebrating with friends is important, and part of the great joy of life. But I'm trying to remember that a celebration isn't an excuse to fall off the rails entirely, because getting back up hurts more than giving up that second piece of dessert!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 4 & 5

Day 4 wasn't a walk in the park by any means. 17 days is staring to feel like a very, very long time.

My lunch was really disappointing, and I threw most of it out. I had a super stressful day at work, and I was craving toast with peanut butter like no tomorrow. Not fries, not chips, not candy or even a cookie - wheat toast.

I did cheat at my book club meeting, where I had about half an apple, a handful of edamame beans and 3 mini quiches.

The fact that I "cheated" by eating veggies and fruit is both hilarious and disturbing to me :)

Breakfast: smoothie with protein powder, berries, yogurt
Lunch: 1 can tuna on salad greens with cucumbers (too fishy)
Snack: Carrots, cherries
Dinner: Eggs with mushrooms, peppers, spinach and salsa

Today is easier.

I'm not at work today, so I'm hanging out at home, working on a writing project. I usually snack when I'm at home, grazing on little bites instead of eating proper meals, but today I actively did the opposite.

B: 1 apple (slept in), coffee
L: Large salad with half a red pepper, tomatoes, turkey breast and salsa
Snack: Cherries, yogurt, carrots
Dinner: "Key West" chicken - recipe to come if it's any good - and salad.
Snack: yogurt

Tomorrow I'm attending a wedding and have decided to let myself eat whatever is served at dinner - within reason. I'll do my best to make good choices.

I'll also have a glass of wine, or two.

It might be cheating, but one meal out of 17 days is not going to kill me - and if it does, then I guess I'll just be following it for longer.

Starbucks Bistro Boxes

Ok, so I'm not currently eating these, but how delicious do they look?





Starbucks recently launched these new Bistro Boxes. From what I understand, they are all under 500 calories. I'm a fan of the Protein Plate option at Starbucks when I need a light lunch or a bit of a heartier snack, so I'm delighted to see them and can't wait to try them out. In a few weeks. When I can have starchy things again. Like, maybe 4.

But until I can buy one, it really got me thinking about how I could make my own lunch more appealing, at least visually. I could roll up some turkey breast meat, make a little container for my salsas, cut my veggies neatly, arrange it all in a box. I'd look forward to that, instead of just a tupperware filled with some lettuce and chicken I threw in haphazardly.

Do you make 'pretty' meals for yourself?

Starbucks did not pay me for this. In fact, I paid them by visiting the location closest to me not once, but twice yesterday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mediterraneans Abandon Their Famous Diet

I came across this article this morning and thought it was fascinating.

The Mediterranean diet gets a lot of attention, and I have to admit, I can understand why - it's a delicious and healthy way to eat, and it makes sense. It's sad to see that obesity is rapidly becoming a universal epidemic.

The comment about diets becoming meat-heavy when income goes up is also interesting. On the flip side, the article seems to indicate that lower-income communities are seeing a decrease in the amount of fresh vegetables and fish that characterize a Mediterranean diet. It seems you can't win for losing.

McCuisine is going to be the death of us all, I think.

Tortilla Chips, Redux

C1D3 (cycle 1, day 3) was full of challenges.

I spent the afternoon at a Stampede BBQ hosted by one of our media partners. It's the biggest party we get invited to every year, and the food is AWESOME. Free burgers, hotdogs, smokies, cookies, ice cream, chips, candy...and booze. All the free booze in the world, apparently.

I took a little baggie of turkey breast strips and filled my plate with raw veggies, and sipped a diet coke. Oh, diet coke, my delicious nemesis. But in the grand scheme of things, if it kept me from diving headfirst into a tray of smokies, then so be it.

After the party, where I was oh-so-well-behaved, I met up with Gary and a friend of ours and we hit a patio for dinner. The restaurant?

My favourite mexican restaurant.

I almost died. Seriously. But I tried, very hard, to make the best choices I could. Water instead of margaritas. A salad with chicken instead of nine hundred tacos. 4 tortilla chips (this appears to be the magic number) instead of an entire basket.

The salad had cheese on it, but I tried my best to eat around it. I'm sure the chicken, which was shredded and in a sauce, wasn't exactly strictly diet friendly, but it was delicious. And I only ate half of it, stopping when I was satisfied, not full.

I'm proud of myself. And today, I'm not sitting here wishing that I'd eaten a smokie. The food will always be there.

Breafast: smoothie made with protein powder, yogurt, 1 cup frozen berries, water.
Lunch: 3 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cup ground turkey, salsa
Snack: 1 cup plain yogurt with mixed berries
Snack: raw veggies
Dinner: salad with chicken, veggies, hot sauce

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 2: When Tortilla Chips Attack

Today was good and bad, in waves. I had a great breakfast that filled me up until lunch, which I took at 1:00. I was definitely hungry by that point.

I felt light-headed and distracted all afternoon, and then this evening I'm feeling great again. I need to start packing some kind of protein-based snack for the mid-afternoons, maybe a hard-boiled egg or some chicken breast.

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with mushrooms and half a bell pepper, lemon water, coffee.
Snack (mid-morning): 1 cup cherries
Lunch 1: 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup carrots
Lunch 2 (at 3:00): 3 cups romaine, 1/2 bell pepper, turkey breast, balsamic dressing, 1/2 cup yogurt.
Dinner: 1 cup ground turkey with taco seasoning, 3 cups romaine lettuce, 1 tbs mozzarella cheese (technically you're supposed to use fat-free cheese as a condiment, but part-skim is the closest one can get, and it was a tiny bit), 4 multigrain tortilla chips.

Drinks - 3.5 L water, 1 cup earl grey tea

Yes, I caved and had 4 of the mini tortilla chips. They were on the table for Gary's salad, but I LOOOVE multigrain tostitos and couldn't resist. But I did stop at 4, a far cry from inhaling half a bag. Plus, he's put them away somewhere and I don't know where - not that I advocate hiding food, but if I don't know what cupboard they are in, I'm less likely to head there mindlessly.

I think I did great today. I did daydream of toast for an embarrassingly long time this afternoon, but I did learn that I will not die if I skip my afternoon cookie.

In fact, as my friend Dana said - I'm probably more likely to die if I DO have a cookie every single afternoon. Being overweight, and all its associated health risks, is a real killer. ;)

The 17 Day Diet

Maybe I should do a quick run-down of what, exactly, the diet plan I'm following entails.

When I first heard about The 17 Day Diet, I thought 'Gimmick!' because making claims of losing all the weight you want in 17 days is preposterous.

But then I read a little bit more about it, and coupled with a growing sense of panic (that wedding is only two months away...) and despair (why can't I make this calorie counting stick?!) I thought, why not?

I read the book, and while a few things stood out as a bit gimmicky, it seemed to make sense. It seemed do-able, and realistic, and maybe even something that could lead to a change in the way I approach food permanently.

The diet breaks down into four 17-day cycles. That's where the title comes from - it's not 'lose everything in 17 days!' as I had assumed.

The first cycle (Accelerate) is what the author calls a detox. I don't necessarily believe in the concept of 'detoxing' but fine. For 17 days, you eat reasonable but unlimited portions of specific proteins - salmon, tilapia, sole, tuna, chicken breast, turkey breast, eggs. You focus on 'cleansing vegetables' and consume them in unlimited amounts. The list is pretty extensive, and includes broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.


My new best friends! image credit

You get two fruit servings every day (low-sugar fruits to be eaten before 2pm) and you are to consume two servings of probiotics, in the form of yogurt, cultured milk or cottage cheese, kimchi, kefir, etc.

There are no starches included in the first cycle. This is probably the hardest part for most of us - no starchy vegetables, beans, legumes, not to mention grains. Also, no dairy aside from the yogurt.

The good news is that it doesn't last for long. In just over two weeks, you move on to a different cycle that alternates between eating like in Cycle 1 and days where you can add a whole schwack of foods, including red meats and starches.

Cycle 3 adds even more food, like booze. And ice cream.

Two weeks isn't a long time. Plus, no matter what diet plan I'm following, be it Weight Watchers or counting calories or a diet plan laid out by a magazine, I tend to binge on grain-based carbohydrates. Late night snacks of toast with margarine? Rice with butter? Pretty much anything I can find? Yep. Guilty. If I know that I can't have them, that might be enough to make me stop. Because even whole-grain toast with butter that I convince myself is healthy, isn't exactly the best snack, when you have three pieces every night.

You can repeat the cycles until you've reached your goal, and then it's on to Cycle 4where you eat 'clean' through the week and have treat meals on weekends. This is something I admire, the ability to eat what you want 20% of the time, and eat clean 80% of the time.

I've always been interested in the whole clean-eating movement, but giving up processed foods is hard for me. This method of phased adjustments to your diet might be the key - because honestly. Two weeks. Not that long, is it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The 17 Day Diet: Cycle One, Day One

Day One shook down like this.

6:20 AM - Wake up.
6:25 - hot water with lemon juice. I was surprised by how disgusting this was. I like lemon water, and I often drink it at room temperature. But hot was entirely different. I choked it down, however, and moved on to a breakfast of 2 eggs that I scrambled with sliced fresh mushrooms and some baby spinach, topped off with a scoop of salsa. I also had a big glass of water and a cup of coffee, with a splash of skim milk (not technically allowed) and some splenda (also not technically allowed, but Truvia/Stevia makes me quite ill and I had it, so I used it.)

Thoughts: this breakfast was delicious. Fast, filling, spicy. I need a new, smaller non-stick frying pan because the giant stainless steel skillet isn't the greatest for frying eggs. So far, so good.

9:00 AM - Green tea. I don't love green tea. It makes me feel queasy, and sometimes I actually think I might throw up. But the book recommends it with every meal, so I subbed out my coffee for a cup of green Zen tea at Starbucks. It was quite soothing on my sore throat, but sure enough, after about an hour I felt nauseated.

9:00 - 5:00 - lots of water. Plain, cold water. About 3 L of it.

10:30 AM - 1/2 cup yogurt. I was starting to feel hungry so I had half of my morning snack.

11:30 AM - 1 apple. The other half of my morning snack.

1:00 PM - Salad made of lettuce and baby spinach, cucumber and cherry tomatoes, with turkey breast. Really could have used some dressing of some sort, and I'm not a dressing fan. I will be adding salsa or oil and vinegar to this tomorrow. I also had a serving of cherries, which I don't think are technically a "low sugar fruit" but they were in the fridge and I didn't want them to go bad. Cherries are expensive!

3:00 PM - 1/2 cup yogurt.

4:30 PM - baby carrots. I'm hoping that this will hold me over at the gym and until dinner tonight. So far, I'm feeling pretty good. Visions of cookies dance in my head, but I drown them with water. I am powerful. I can do this. I can do anything for 17 days. I keep repeating that to myself.

5:30 PM - 45 minute elliptical workout. Very, very hard - by the last 5 minutes I was holding on to the handrails for dear life. But I finished it!

7:00 PM - More water and 1 tbs natural peanut butter. Verboten. I was starving and felt like I was about to keel over, so I needed something quick. I figured this was the lesser of all the evils in the cupboard (which includes a Skor bar, wtf! Why did I buy it?)

7:45 PM - Salmon with lemon pepper seasoning, roasted cauliflower, green salad. I was absolutely famished by the time dinner rolled around. Note to self: eat a larger snack later in the afternoon. Eating dinner earlier isn't likely because of the time we go to the gym, but I will have to find some way to re-schedule my meals so I am not left with a growling stomach and light head.

After eating, I felt a bit uncomfortable and bloated. Which is weird, given the amount of water I had consumed, but I guess I did eat a big plate of cauliflower which can cause, er, fun for the digestion sometimes.

Overall, it was a pretty good day. I was only *hungry* in the evening before dinner, and my cravings for sugary, processed baked goods wasn't too bad in the afternoon when it is usually my downfall.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Something different

The menu is planned and posted on the fridge, the groceries have been bought and put away in a way that makes them easily accessible (I hope), and I`m ready for the week ahead.

Bagged salads were starting to get a bit expensive, and fresh produce is in season and cheap, so I bought a salad spinner and prepped a week`s worth of lettuce. It took about 10 minutes to wash, dry, and pack two heads of romaine, which came to $1.89. Worth the time, I think!



I`m trying something a little different this week. I read this book after reading about it on a few blogs. It`s basically a clean, low-carb (not no-carb), high protein diet. I can do anything for 17 days, right?

I'm going to try to post a daily recap of what I've eaten and how I've felt. The diet doesn't encourage intense exercise in the first 'cycle' but I'm not going to give up going to the gym.

Here goes...

Friday, June 17, 2011

A fish dish

Tonight I made a great dinner. It might have been so delicious because we ate it sitting at our brand new dining room set, but there's a chance it was just really good.

I was flipping through my cookbook collection last Sunday, trying to find something different to make. Baked fish kept sticking out to me, but I am growing weary of salmon, the only fish I know how to make (and enjoy eating). I don't like spending money on meals I'm not sure I'll enjoy, but I really wanted to try something new.

I've been a fan of the Looneyspoons Cookbook series for a very long time, and in my copy of Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, I found a recipe called In Cod We Trust.

I made a few modifications, replacing the Special K the recipe asked for with some whole-wheat bread crumbs, because I had stale whole wheat bread and did not have Special K. I even used frozen cod, because Alberta is land locked and I didn't want to spend a fortune on fresh fish that was frozen at one point, anyway!



Served with a quick salad made from spring mix lettuce, sliced strawberries, some cucumber and toasted pine nuts, dressed in a simple oil and vinegar dressing, it was a fantastic Friday night dinner.

Baked Cajun Fish

Cod pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk (or skim milk with a tbs of vinegar - again, no buttermilk in the house)
zest from one lemon
1 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
1 tbs cajun seasoning
1/4 cup (or less) grated parmesan cheese

Spray a baking sheet with Pam and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a shallow dish or large bowl, combine milk and lemon zest. Place cod in milk, turning to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine bread crumbs, cajun seasoning and cheese in a bowl.

Press fish, one piece at a time, into the bread crumbs. Only coat one side. Place fish crumbs-side-up on baking sheet.

Spritz with oil or Pam or drizzle with a bit of melted butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

Deeeefishious.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clothing Swap

Sunday afternoon I went to a local Clothing Swap event. Every six months or so, a local group holds a city-wide clothing swap. You can trade your old clothes, accessories and shoes item for item for something new.

Before we moved last month, I went through my closet and pulled 50 items that I wasn't wearing anymore, either because they were too big, or just no longer something I wanted to wear. I bagged them up, dropped them off, and was rewarded with 34 tickets for new items on Sunday (the remaining 16 items that were 'rejected' were donated to charity).

I was really looking forward to the Swap, but yesterday when I got there, I was disappointed. I found 6 pieces - 3 dresses, 1 pair of shoes, 1 skirt, and a blouse.

Most of the clothing was a size M or smaller, and everything that was in my size range was either a bit frumpy or the clothes that I had previously owned. One of the dresses I bought fits, the other one is a bit tight but wearable with the help of spanx, and the third, a formal bronze and green lace strapless number that Gary says looks like a medieval fairy-princess dress, is about 15 lbs too small.

But that was my intention, to find a few things that I could shrink into. It's nice to have a few target items in my closet, because I don't have skinny jeans that I used to fit into but don't anymore. I've basically always been this size - so now I have a few other measures than just the scale.

I felt down for part of the afternoon, but whatever. I don't think I'll go to the next swap, but it was worth a shot, right?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oooops

I've been trucking along nicely, eating my planned meals and snacks, focusing on veggies, lean protein, fruit and whole grains. I aim for between 1200-1500 calories a day, and I've been falling nicely in that range for two weeks. I've been drinking water. Lots and lots of water. I even passed up free wine and pizza AGAIN (third time in two weeks, friends!).

I've become a familiar face at the gym again. Things are good and I feel great. I am drunk on willpower, and it feels awesome.

Wednesday morning I took a peek at the scale and was shocked by the number I saw - the lowest I've seen on the scale in the last year and a half.

And then yesterday, things came a bit undone. Work stress plus forgetting my snack at home plus a small lunch resulted in a binge. I ate pretty much everything I could get my little hands on - and when the dust settled, I was 500 calories over my max daily allowance.

Whooops.

So I wrote it all down, went to the gym, did 60 minutes of cardio, and pledged to reign in the snacking that evening.

I don't know why I do things like that. I was impressed and proud of myself, and then "blew it" on snacks that weren't even that satisfying.

But here I am, back at it again, for another day. And I remembered to pack my snack this time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Results!

Week one is over, and the results are in - I was down 2 lbs this morning. Yay!

I'm impressed. I didn't deprive myself this weekend, but at the same time, I definitely paused to ask myself whether I really wanted to eat whatever I was craving. I tried to keep my portions in check, and plan ahead to pick the healthier options off menus.

My mom and dad were here this weekend, and we went out for brunch yesterday. Mom and I ordered the exact same thing - a senior's two-egg omlette, made with egg whites, a side of hash browns and dry brown toast. I had analyzed the menu ahead of time and decided that was the most reasonable choice. Mom must have done the same. Like mother, like daughter!

One small snag - last night we went over to friends' for dinner. They made fried, battered fish, bacon wrapped scallops and french fries. I'm not a major fish lover, but this was delicious. I ate a small portion of each until I was satisfied, and didn't keep going, even though it was tempting. I'm glad I stopped, because an hour after eating I was still completely stuffed.

I'm tweaking the way I'm doing things a little bit. I'm still using the meal ideas from Self magazine, but I'm tracking them with Spark People. I find the Self meal tracker tool really difficult to use, and the Spark one has a little more flexibility. I think it's important to find a method that works best for you, and if that's tracking with a pencil and paper, taking photos of everything you eat, or using a website.

Did you have a good weekend?

Friday, June 3, 2011

I didn't mean to tease...

But anticipation is totally the best part.

So the event I went to? Full host bar. That meant whatever you wanted to drink - WHATEVER, caesars, wine, beer, cocktails, mixed drinks, hiballs - was free. The food was prepared and served by 3 chefs from the Food Network, also free.

And it was insane. Crab legs. Fresh oysters. Cheeses. Battered, breaded, delicious, all of it.

And I had one small piece of chicken on a stick and a diet coke. Victory!

The whole time, inside my head I was repeating a key phrase to myself.

I have two very good reasons to skip the free booze and food. One, of course, is that I'm getting married next July. My mom and I decided we'd start dress shopping in September - three short months away. I want to lose weight for the wedding, absolutely. I want to look my best, and I want dress shopping to be fun, not frustrating. Sure, that's a motivator.

But there's another reason.

In mid-September, I'm a bridesmaid in a wedding. The other bridesmaid is Gary's ex-girlfriend.

I am not her biggest fan. I won't go into it, but I'm sure you can imagine how I feel. Imagine how it would feel - not only are you attending a wedding where your partner's ex will be there, but you're wearing the same outfit.

I will be standing beside her, wearing this dress:





And I will be dammned if I don't look absolutely fabulous in it.

So the mantra I've been repeating in my head when I turn down another glass of Merlot?

"You have to look better than her. Don't you want to look better than her? Don't eat that. You need to look better than her."

Immature? Maybe.

Motivating?

Oh, hell yes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Am I really hungry?

Last night after Gary and I got home from the gym, I was so hungry that I almost fell over. I'm not exaggerating - I was the kind of stomach scraping, lightheaded, seeing-spots hungry. I was irritable and couldn't focus.

I quickly made dinner, a grilled chicken salad with a side of polenta, and stuck to it.

I am so rarely *honestly* hungry that sometimes I forget what it feels like. There's an abundance of food everywhere, and again, I'm fortunate enough to be able to fill that void, often before it even becomes a void.

But it made me think - from a dieting perspective, I know that I often think I'm hungry, but really, I just want the pleasure of eating. I say that I'm staaaarving, but really, it's that I'm thinking that a cookie would taste good right now.

Last night, I would have devoured a giant plate of broccoli. Plain baked fish. Cabbage soup. Whatever. It was less about what I was craving - I was truly hungry, and my body needed food, and fast.

It was a good lesson, I think.

Today I am doing a little bit better; my lunch seems to be holding me over pretty well.

But I'm attending an event this afternoon (TV Station Season Launch) at a restaurant. Free food. Free drinks. Did I mention the food is being prepared by celebrity chefs?

But I'm not going to indulge. I'm going to stick to gum and diet coke. I've got a damn good reason to stay 'good' today - and I'll tell you that reason tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a pretty good start

So day one back at it went pretty well.

It was hard. Spin class was hard, and it hurt. A lot. Not going for a latte (gasp) was hard, but I lived. Skipping the free hors d'oeuvres and wine at an event after work was nearly impossible, but I sipped diet coke and got on with my life.

I chewed gum and drank water all afternoon, when I usually reach for a snack. I made the prescribed healthy dinner of salmon, quinoa and sauteed spinach, and when Gary mentioned going to the store to get ice cream or a snack, I did not cave in. (Neither did he, in the end)

I made it through. And I'll do it again today, and tomorrow, until this becomes second nature.

I'd been avoiding the scale, as I mentioned. I weighed myself yesterday, and I'm at 211, which is 3 lbs up from where I was at the beginning of April. It's not a catastrophe.

It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. It's not an original saying, by any means, but I've got it pinned up on my board at work. And I'm trying to remember this, when it gets hard and I want to quit.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A different breakfast

This morning I woke up a little bit early, hopped in the shower and made my breakfast and lunch for the day. It took me a bit longer than I hoped it would, but at least I'm also prepped for tomorrow's lunch.

I took out my measuring cups and spoons and a bunch of tupperware containers, and got to it. I'm thinking that a digital scale might be in my future - does anyone have one they'd recommend?

Breakfast today was something I've never had before - grapes on toast. I toasted two slices of whole wheat bread, spread 1 tbs of reduced fat cream cheese on each, and then topped each slice with 1/4 cup of halved grapes. Then I drizzled a little bit (1/2 tsp) of honey over each slice, and a tiny bit of herbs d'provence (because I didn't have any thyme handy). It was really tasty, and very filling - 3 hours later and I'm not feeling hungry yet. Usually by 10 am I'm starting to feel like a snack.

One downside - it was a bit hard to eat. This isn't a breakfast to eat standing up, or in transit!

This is what I'll be eating this week, if you're interested.

Over lunch, I'm off to spin class because I have a meeting tonight and can't work out at 5pm. Then it's home to make dinner - and hopefully relax a bit before it starts all over again tomorrow!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It ain't cheap


Eating healthy isn't cheap. Today we bought our groceries for the week, and the bill came to $160 - that's food for the two of us for the week, no cleaning supplies or personal care products included.

And I had three coupons, and was careful to shop for sale items.

But if we went out to eat, dinner rarely would come to less than $40. Fresh produce, fish and whole-grain bread might be more expensive than pizza pops and kraft dinner, but we'll feel more satisfied with what we're eating. Snacks from the vending machine or corner store add up, and are certainly more money than an apple or a dish of carrots and hummus.

We're fortunate enough (at least this week!) to be able to afford to buy healthy food - but it shouldn't have to be a privilege, in my opinion. Fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat milk, lean meat or canned spaghetti, frozen dinners and boxed macaron. It shouldn't have to be such a hard choice.

Is the price of healthier food a deterrent for you? Do you find yourself planning less healthy, less expensive meals? How do you find a common ground between the two - budget and diet plan?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Preparation - check!

I sat down last week, and with the help of Self Magazine's recent meal plan in their Drop 10 Challenge, I plotted out an entire week of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. I then created a shopping list with every single item we'd need, and no more.

I'm not necessarily following the Self Challenge, but I did like their meal plan. I figured it was worth a shot - a bunch of things I've never tried before, some different breakfast and lunch ideas, and some flexibility. Plus, they're all free, and balanced meals, so check them out if you're short on ideas :)

Tomorrow we're going grocery shopping. I'll pack my lunch for the next day, measure out my breakfast and set it out for the morning, and find my old running shoes so I can hit the gym over lunch.

Here we go again!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Off the wagon

Not only have I fallen off the wagon, friends, the wagon has ran over me. And backed up. And ran over me again, for good measure. And then I lay there, covered in dust, while I watched it pull away from me and travel off into the horizon.

The past month has been a massive backslide. To be honest, the last 6 weeks. I think it officially kicked in when I skipped the gym to go to East Side Mario's for dinner.

Now, it was a really fun night, in honour of my birthday, and I had an amazing time with my other half, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

But then we started packing, and then we moved, and before I knew it over a month of high stress, bad meals (greasy fast food, heavy pasta dinners, and so many sugary treats) and skipping the gym caught up to me.

We went to the gym last night. Gary worked out. I sat on a bench outside because I had been away from the gym for so long that they donated my sneakers to charity.

I wish I was kidding.

Every couple of months, the gym posts a sign giving members two weeks to clear out their stuff from the locker room or it'll be donated. I missed not only the sign, but the two week grace period AND THEN SOME.

So new sneakers it is.

Today I'm starting small. I haven't stepped on the scale in a looong time. I'm drinking my 2 L of water, had a healthy breakfast (oatmeal and banana) and am trying to skip the temptation of the 3pm sugary snack.

I've got no more excuses. We've moved. Things have settled down at work. My future mother-in-law isn't visiting. I've got a long stretch of months ahead where I can focus on weight loss, on diet and exercise.

Starting now.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Eating in Secret

I used to do this a lot. Even when I was a child, especially when I was a child, I'd sneak food. Hide the evidence that I'd eaten it. Take it outside and hide the wrappers, or hide in my bedroom.

When I became an adult, I'd hide my snacks, my indulgences. I'd do it alone - maybe not hiding from the public, but certainly my friends. I'd go to the food court for a treat, or hit the drive-thru on my way home and eat in the car. And then I'd feel such incredible shame, and guilt, and ultimately - disgust with myself. "This is why you're fat, why don't you get it?" I'd say to myself.

I'm proud that I have stopped doing this. For a full year now, I don't hide food. I don't go out of my way to put myself into situations where I can easily sneak in some fatty, fast-food snack.

But I still hear the little voice in my head telling me to do it. This weekend it was really bad. "Just pop in to the store, buy some candy. No one will know!" and "You've got enough time to go through the drive-thru, the fast food will be tasty and make you feel better..."

I didn't give in. Now, you know that I certainly soothed myself with food, but I didn't hide it.

Are there any other secret eaters out there?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

and then I ATE ALL THE FEELINGS

The past week has not been a good one for me. I would say that at this point, I don't define a good week as one that shows a loss on the scale - a good week is one where I track what I eat more often than not, one where I go to the gym more often than not, and one where I feel positive about myself, my appearance and the change I've worked so hard for.

No, this week was not a good one. I'd actually say that the last 10 days were actually not very good.

It started with a shopping trip, to pick out bridesmaid's dresses for a wedding I'm in this coming September. Someone I desperately didn't want to see me looking ANYTHING but my absolute best was there and of course, the sample sized gowns didn't fit me. It was mortifying, standing there, being too fat to fit in the dresses, looking like an idiot, in front of the one person I never, ever, ever want to lose my cool in front of.

Added to the experience of the day - which, let me sum this up as neatly as I can: Because of said unique circumstance and the notion that some friendships are stronger than the circumstances that originally defined them, I went dress shopping with a friend and my fiance's ex AND her mother for seven and a half hours - I was a mess. A 'let me drink an entire bottle of wine and eat an entire box of assorted chocolates RIGHT NOW' mess.

Then my future mother-in-law came to visit. Which while it was really nice to see her, the visit was too long. And some feelings occured. And I didn't like them, so I ate them. In the form of cake. And pie. And pasta. And french fries. And more cake.

Throw in a holiday that is celebrated mostly with chocolate, an impending move, waiting for our lawyer to call us to sign away our lives for the next 30 years, and more work stress than I'd care to share in this forum, I'm a mess.

I don't like having feelings. I don't really know how to deal with them.

So I ate them.

Now I'm trying my hardest to make this week a good one. I'm ordering a bridesmaid's dress that flatters, I'm packing my lunches and counting calories, I'm going back to the gym. I've got Zumba tonight, which always makes me feel sassy and confident.

It's the best we can do, right? Try for a good week. Do what we can to make a good week, or a good day, or even a good afternoon happen.

And somehow, maybe, learn to deal with those feelings by talking or journaling or yelling at the ocean or something, instead of mowing down on three bags of chips and a whole lot of margaritas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm just really not that into you

Dear Weight Watchers,

I need to tell you something, something I've been thinking a lot about lately. This isn't working for me. We're taking a break.

It's not you, honestly. It's me.

You've been a great program. You worked for me in the past, and I'm confident that when I need you again, you'll work for me in the future.

But right now, you're just not what I need.

Please understand,

Meg


So I've made a decision. This morning, after I meticulously copied my 11 months of weigh-in results and measurements over to an excel file (no export function?! thumbs down), I cancelled my Weight Watchers membership.

This is not to say that I don't think it's a great program. It's also not to say that I think it's "not working for me" - I'm not working for it.

I've always liked the Points system. I like that I don't have to count calories and fat grams. Because that seems hard and messy and it's so much easier to say, "I get 34 points a day!" rather than "My daily caloric intake is between 1400 -1700 calories."

But lately I've felt that it's just too simple. I'm not really paying attention, day-to-day, to what I put into my body. I think "meh, I can have this giant plate of fries, I've got the weeklies for it!" instead of "what have I eaten today, am I on target, have I fulfilled my basic needs first before I have treats?"

Not only am I, and all Weight Watchers users, capable of counting calories, and fat grams, and my daily percentage of carbohydrates - I want to. I want to see what percentage of my daily intake is coming from protein. I want to know if I'm eating a balanced diet, not just checking off boxes beside veggie servings. I want to be able to look at charts and graphs.

So I've decided to start using SparkPeople to track what I'm eating. It's not perfect, because nothing is. It is free, but I have no problem spending $25 or $50 a month to lose the weight. For me, that's not the issue.

I need a change. I've been tracking with SparkPeople since Friday, and I like it. I like the daily reports - at a glance, I can see if I had too much fat that day, or not enough protein. I like that it breaks out the daily calorie intake by meal - so 30% of my calories that day went to breakfast, etc.

And, I like that yesterday morning I weighed in at 205, down 2.2 lbs, and now an even 25 lbs lost.

I know it has nothing to do with not being on Weight Watchers - I could have achieved the same results if I'd been thinking really hard about what I was eating and diligently tracking - but I haven't been doing those things. And even when I have been, I haven't been seeing results.

So here it goes, the experiment. I need you guys to keep me accountable, though. I'm giving myself 3 months. If I fall off the bandwagon for more than 2 weeks, it's back to WW. If my weight gets up to 213, it's back to WW.

I'm not giving up, I'm trying something new. And I think that this might be the kick in the pants I need to make it to Onederland and beyond...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Reasons Why

When I got up this morning, I was thinking about why, exactly, I want to lose weight. Last year at this time, I made a list of all the reasons why I wanted to make weight loss a priority, and I think the time has come to re-evaluate that list and make a new one.

I want to wear a bikini on our honeymoon.

I want to be able to do active, exciting, adventurous things and not feel like my weight or fitness level will hold me back.

I want to be healthy and fit.

I want to have a healthy pregnancy (many years from now).

I want to be proud of myself.

I want to feel like I've achieved a goal I've set.

These are just a few of my reasons. I have a strong image in my mind of myself on vacation, somewhere hot, wearing a cute sundress and dancing and just generally being happy and healthy and glowing and confident. I think that the next time I want to binge on poutine, I'll try my best to remember that mental image, and that it can be a reality. I can be that woman.

Do you use visualization to help you stick to your goals?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday WI

I was up 1.2 lbs this morning. Which is a little disappointing, but I can't say it was a surprise or undeserved. I definitely ate my way up the scale.
 
But again, trying to focus on positive things so I don't get bogged down and quit - I put on a Spring/Summer dress this morning in an attempt to woo the warmer weather, and the cute dress that I was bursting the seams and buttons on last summer is a bit too big. Needs a belt. Very pleased about that :)
 
I also looked at my weight tracker again, but from a different perspective. I always compare my weight to my starting weight - and we know I've been hovering around the 207 mark for months. And months. And months. Well, since Christmas, I'm down 6 lbs. I'm still hovering, but I've lost the weight I gained in that blissful holiday post-engagement season.
 
I've also been thinking lately that the Weight Watchers thing might not be working for me anymore. Or, rather, I'm not working for the program. I do believe it's a great plan, but even on weeks when I give it my all, since the Points Plus plan launched I haven't seen results that make me happy. Focusing on exercising has helped, because I see a difference in my shape. But maybe it's time to take a break from the ol' WW and try something different. Something maybe more challenging. I've always liked that on WW, if I want a cookie, I can have as many as I have points for - but maybe the point is to restrict myself for awhile and see how it goes.
 
Any thoughts?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confessions



(Well, yeah, I suppose I do live in sin, but that's a confession for another time)

I have not been super strict with myself this week. I've tried, but...

- I skipped the gym on Friday because I was feeling some discomfort after a doctor's appointment

- I missed Spin on Saturday, but only because some instructor Yorgo was teaching and the class, which is NEVER full any other Saturday, was packed - he must be hot. Really, really hot. That's the only explanation. So I did some cardio and abs work on my own.

- We totally had nachos for dinner on Saturday. I could have made something, anything, healthier, but nope. Bag 'o chips, giant pile of cheese, pure bliss.

- I definitely had a cookie after work today before I went to the gym. Where I did bust it on my strength training routine.

I was aware every time I made a decision that didn't support my goals. I was aware every time that by doing X, I wasn't making health and fitness and weight loss a priority.

I can't seem to make it stick for longer than a week at a time. I can go super hard, and then something happens (like, oh, buying our first home!) and I fall to pieces. I guess it's half the battle that I get back up again, but I'm starting to get frustrated with myself.

But hey. On the upside, here I am, confessing my blunders to you instead of hiding. That counts for something, right?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday WI (a day late)

This was an exciting week. Not only did I have a fantastic dinner party to attend with amazing friends on Tuesday night, but we also found a condo over the weekend and fell in love with it. Not to mention a 3-year anniversary dinner on Friday night and 2 birthday parties over the weekend!

I didn't do too well at staying away from the cake, the beer, the red wine. There was a lot of discussion over a lunch at the pub where I chose less wisely than I could have.

But on Wednesday morning, I was down .6 lbs. And even better - this morning, I had to move over a notch on my belt - in the right direction! These jeans are just over a month old!

The next few weeks are going to be challenging, as they'll be full of meetings with brokers, agents and lawyers - and the potential of missing more than one workout. Add to that the 'it's just easier if we go out to eat instead of cook tonight' and it could be messsy. But I think identifying that in advance is helpful. I've got to formulate a strategy to get through this.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday WI

This morning I was down 1 pound. I earned a ton of activity points again, but this week I switched the way the tracker counts them, so that it 'swaps' my activity points out before the weekly points allowance. I don't know that it actually makes a difference, because a point is a point - but it was worth a shot.

My tracker for the week:


Sure, I posted a loss. But I was happier with a few other things that happened this week. I am proud that I can complete an intense 60 minute spin class and not fall over and die - or even just stop. I'm happy that my jeans feel looser, and that I look in the mirror and think I might just look a little slimmer.

I tried out a new circuit-based strength training workout on Monday, and I plan to keep switching things up. I'm looking forward to Zumba on Thursday because it's fun, not because it burns a lot of calories.

And even more, I'm proud of the way I reacted when I slipped up. On Monday, I had a business lunch and had sat down with the menu to decide what I would order. A salad with chicken, hold the blue cheese and dressing on the side. I was even looking forward to it!

But then we got to the restaurant, and what did I order? The bbq beef sandwich special that came with creamy, cheesy potato soup, fries and even cookies to go.

I didn't even eat half of it. I was so disappointed with myself for actively making a choice that wasn't going to get me where I really wanted that I lost my appetite. My priorites were laid out there, right in front of me, and that bbq sandwich wasn't even worth it. Good lesson.

But the cookies were pretty good :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rest Day

I am very proud of the fact that I went to the gym six days in a row last week. But today, my gym is closed, and I'm having a full-blown day of rest.

I got up this morning and met a girlfriend for coffee, started a new kniting project, and then the very best part - a long nap.

I entertained the idea of baking something sweet this afternoon, but the nap won over the cravings.

I firmly believe that burnout is one of the most damaging things you can do to yourself, and I have definitely started to burn out on all fronts. I needed a day to chill out at home - how did you spend your Sunday?

I'm wrapping up the day with a BBQ, some TV on DVD and heading to bed as early as I can manage.

Breakfast: Smoothie made with a handful of spinach, a banana, a cup of frozen berries, 1 scoop protein powder, and a half cup of milk

Snack: Latte

Lunch: 6 inch turkey breast and ham sub from Subway

Snack: Reese's peanut butter cup, 1 (sooooo good)

Dinner: 1 chicken breast, oven baked sweet potato fries, mushrooms, steamed broccoli

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Eats!

Gary and I are sitting on the couch, three magazines spread out in front of us, planning our meals for next week. Looks like a lot of lean protein, fresh veggies and whole grains for us...

Saturday Eats!

Breakfast - Coffee
Lunch - 1 egg, poached; 1 slice rye toast, 2 cups fruit salad, 1 cup cottage cheese
Snack - KIND Granola Bar, 1 string cheese
Dinner - 2 large lentil tacos (lentils, 2 tbs cheddar cheese, salsa, lettuce); 1 1/2 cups spanish rice, 1/2 cup rootbeer

Activity: 60 minutes spin class (earned 14 points)

Total points used: 36 (35 weekly and 1 activity point swapped)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday: What I ate

Sorry for two food-centric posts in a row; today was nuts. But I got to meet my friends' brand new daughter, and I'm convinced she is the most adorable little girl in the whole entire world. Baby snuggles are the best.

Breakfast: I took the advice of a few commentors and switched it up a bit. 1 egg, scrambled with 1 cup fresh mushrooms and 2 tbs salsa, small whole-wheat tortilla

Snack; Large Hazelnut Latte (the 15 point one from Second Cup. Yes, a total treat...but it's Friday and I planned for it!)

Lunch: 1/2 thin crust veggie pizza

Snack: earl grey tea, handful of nuts and dried cranberries

Dinner: 3 cups romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup chopped, skinless chicken breast, some broccoli and raw mushrooms, 1 cup grapes, 1 small chocolate

Activity: 40 minutes strength training routine

Total points used: 44 (35 daily, 9 activity)
Points earned: 4

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday in review

I thought I'd post what I'm eating - I'd love feedback and opinions!

Breakfast: 1 english muffin, 1 tbs chunky organic peanut butter, 1 banana, coffee

Snack: 1 Grande Non-fat cappuccino, orange

Lunch: 1/2 personal sized thin crust veggie pizza, raw veggies (zucchini, peppers, carrots, broccoli)

Snack: 1 apple, 1 tbs peanut butter, earl grey tea with splash of skim milk and splenda

Dinner: 1 chicken breast skewer (greek style), 1/2 serving roasted potatoes, 1 1/2 cups of greek salad with dressing, 1 cup fruit salad

Activity: 60 minutes Zumba

Water: 3 L

Total PointsPlus: 37 (35 daily points, 2 activity points)

One day at a time

Thanks for your comments yesterday - whether in person, email or on the blog. I really appreciate that I have so much support from the people in my life - I truly would have given up long ago without you.

I feel better today. I'm not surprised that I do - the frustration is intense, but it doesn't ever last very long.

Yesterday was really bad. Some time after I posted, I went to a spin class over my lunch hour. It was hard. Really, really hard. I was trying to sweat out my stress and disappointment and frustration, but instead I nearly collapsed into giant heaving sobs right there on the bike in the middle of class.

The feeling of holding back tears while running or exerting myself to the max isn't new to me, and reminded me of all the times I did just that while in gym class or practice for some sports team, telling myself how much I sucked and how awful I was and how I was a waste of space over and over. It's not a pleasant recollection for me.

But I made it through. And I had a good, healthy lunch and made it through the day, which even included a two-hour meeting with our mortgage broker (EXCITING TERRIFYING GROWN UP STRESS!). Then I poured my heart out to my fiance, and he listened while I railed on and on about how frustrating it is to not be losing weight, and how much effort it takes to see no results and what's the point?

And after sleeping on it, and a hot shower, and a good breakfast, I feel a whole world better.

Tonight I'm going back to Zumba, something I'm really looking forward to. I've got my water bottle beside me and I'm ready for the day. Today I'm going to forget about what might happen next week, or two months from now, or how I'll look on our wedding day and just do the best I can today.

And then I'll do it tomorrow, too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday WI - Frustration

I was up .2 lbs this morning. There were some tears of frustration in the shower this morning, I'm going to be honest. There's a lot going on in my life right now - work is crazy, we're trying to purchase our first home, we're getting into wedding planning and I'm still trying to lose weight.

And to add insult to injury, there was no hot water for my shower this morning.

So I stood there, wrapped in a towel, dripping wet and freezing cold, and cried a little.

It just sucks. It sucks. I tracked all week. I said no to so many things to counter my 'splurge' Saturday - which didn't even put me over my points for the week! I worked out like a bandit. I tried new things. I focused on filling foods, fresh veggies and fruit, and higher-protein choices. There's a freaking cake on my kitchen counter that I haven't TOUCHED since Sunday morning! The amount of willpower exhibited alone should have burned enough calories to result in a 15 or 20 pound loss.

But no.

A gain.

So now what, Universe? Should I start skipping meals? Cut out entire food groups? Shake diets? No carbs? Increase my gym attendance from 4 or 5 days a week to 9? What? What do I need to do to lose this damn weight?!

Here are some visuals:

My tracker for the week.




And this is my weight loss progress from the very beginning.



I can't figure out why it stopped. I can't figure out why I'm not losing anymore. I feel like I'm hitting my head against a wall all day long but I can't stop. And inside my head, this runs on a loop:

What's the point? I'm never going to be able to do this. I'm going to be a fat bride. I'm going to die early of a heart attack. I'll never meet my grandchildren. I'm never going to be happy with my weight or my size or my body.


Grrrrrr. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

30 days left...

I have 30 days left until my next birthday. Honestly, I thought I'd be really close to my goal by now. But I'm not.

The gym I go to is having a Biggest Mover contest. For 30 days, your attendance and participation in group classes, personal training, and so on is tracked and you are awarded points. The 'biggest mover' or the person with the most points at the end of 30 days wins.

I am going to win. It's obviously a sign - 30 days of contest, 30 days until I'm officially in my 'late' twenties...the universe conspires for me to take home this prize.

Or at the very least, I'm going to beat Gary :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Strength Training

It's been almost two months since my initial training sessions at the gym. I'm really proud to say that I've not only stuck with the routine, but added a few different exercises and increased the weight on almost all of them.

My standard 'strength day' workout looks like this:

10 minutes of light cardio warm-up

3 sets of 12-15 of each of the following exercises:

Lunges - sometimes with one foot on a bosu board
Squats with 8 kg kettle ball OR hold a squat on a bosu board while I do shoulder presses with dumbells - 3-5 lbs, depending on what's available
Narrow-grip lat pulldowns - 50lbs
Hamstring curls on machine - 40 lbs
Bicep curls on 'preacher bench' thing - 20 lbs, which is WAY more than I'd ever consider possible but is getting too light now
Bent over row OR row machine thing - 20 lb barbell OR 30 lbs on machine
Tricep pull-down - 40 lbs
Ab work - crunches on ball, planks, reverse crunches

Sometimes I add in chest presses, more shoulder work or some extra tricep curls; sometimes I also add leg lifts and leg presses. Sometimes I also add another 10 minutes of cardio in, or, if I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll do 30 minutes of cardio first and then the weight training stuff.

I've pretty much mastered my routine. I try to do the exercises in a different order each time, to keep up some variety, but generally speaking, I start with some arm work, then do tne leg stuff, then some core, then back to arm work and finish with more core.

I'm pleased with my results, but I think it's time I keep stretching beyond my comfort zone. I've got a stack of workout guides and a bunch of different books to look at for ideas in varying my routine. I think I need to add in more core work and more lower-body exercises.

Do you have a favourite strength training move? Do you like free weights, machines or body-weight exercises?

The Soup: Planning Ahead

The coffee shop across the street from my office has the most incredible, delicious soup I've ever tasted. It's a spicy, creamy thai chicken bowl of goodness - and there is no way it's good for you. It's warm, and hearty, and freaking awesome - but it's got to be loaded with cream, butter and coconut milk.
 
I could eat it every day. In fact, some weeks, I have. But I'm trying really hard to balance out my Saturday splurge, so no soup for me.
 
The only kink in this plan is my standing (until our new manager starts) Monday lunch meeting with our VP, at that coffee shop. It's a great place to work, so we often meet there. The sandwiches don't do much for me and the menu is pretty short, so I'm left with the soup.
 
I'm not one to turn down a free lunch, but today I'm going to do it. I've got some veggies and hummus, greek yogurt, almonds, and an orange to last me through the afternoon. I'll order some tea and resist the soup.
 
I can resist the soup. I will resist the soup. I am stronger than the soup.
 
 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Splurges

Yesterday was a total high-calorie splurge day. And it was worth every bite.

We got up early and hit the gym. I do like starting Saturdays with a 9:30 spin class; it gets the workout out of the way, and I would never push myself that hard on my own, especially on a weekend.

In late December, Gary and I had dinner at a new burger place in Calgary - Five Guys Burgers & Fries. It's an American chain, and he'd been there with his coworkers. It was AMAZING. Then in January, we decided we were going to really give it our all on the healthy eating/exercising front, and that was the end of burgers and fries for a long time.

Several weeks ago, we decided we'd splurge and go back to Five Guys in March - and god, it was worth it. Yesterday's hamburger was awesome. I'd gladly give up fast-food fries and cheeseburgers forever for a burger like that three or four times a year.

Important lesson to learn, right?

Then we had some friends over for dinner and I wanted to try out a lemon cake recipe I'd been looking at for awhile. I wouldn't bake just for Gary and I - that's too tempting - but for friends? Sure!

It was equally yummy. And totally worth the points! I didn't go over my weekly points, so if it means I have to have three more strict days until weigh-in, that's fine. It was worth it, and I feel no guilt about splurging on good, wholesome, honest-to-goodness treats instead of a lame bag of cheetos and ridiculous 15 point lattes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trying to Remember

Today I have my meals planned and packed, with the exception of dinner.
 
Breakfast: oatmeal, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 cup blueberries, non-fat latte
Snack: orange
Lunch: 1 cup stirfry leftovers (chicken and veggies); 1 cup brown rice
Snack: fat-free yogurt, 10 almonds
 
Dinner is, at this point, a looming unknown. We're going to the gym right after work, but then I have to go back to work for an event, so I'll probably pick up some sushi or subway or something in the food court on my way back to the office.
 
I'm trying to remember what it's like to be a 'good dieter' - to harness the power of that feeling of denying a craving. Yesterday I was really hungry in the afternoon, but I didn't want to eat anything until dinner. So I had a giant glass of water. I was still hungry - and probably should have eaten something small, like some fruit, but the feeling I got by stomping on that hunger was a good reminder. I ate a reasonable dinner and went to bed without caving in to the temptation to go get an ice cream treat from the store downstairs.
 
Felt good.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Missing...

In that period of time that I've been silent, I haven't quit. I'm still working out. We aim for 5 days a week, but 4 is probably more realistic. I'm still doing the strength training routine Stephanie showed me, but I've also added some other exercises. And I've increased the resistance or weight on almost every single exercise, too. I actually have a bicep...somewhere. I promise. It's under that wiggly bit on my upper arm. I can feel it.

I've also reduced my measurements everywhere, including my hips (VICTORY!) and thighs (SWEET VICTORY!) I've lost a pants size, and bought a pair of jeans in a non plus sized store that I've never been able to buy jeans in before - not even when I was in high school. That was a total triumph. Then I realized that they might even be a smidge too big, and had to buy a belt. I haven't worn a belt in almost a decade - why would I, when I had my rear end to hold my pants up?

But still, in that two weeks, the scale didn't budge.

This morning, in the name of accountability and realizing that two months have slipped past, I stepped on the scale and finally. The number is lower. I feel inspired again. I can do this.

I lost 2.8 lbs this morning. The last few weeks I've been down, then up, then up some more, and now I'm back down again - and at 207.4.

It's hard. I don't want to blog when all I'm feeling is frustration. I don't want to be a whiner. But at the same time, I want to be open and honest about this process. When I started WW and exercising back in May, I looked ahead at my future and figured that I'd be at goal - or at least close to it - come February or March. I was even on track there, for the first three months. And then, everything slowed to a grinding halt.

I've been losing and gaining the same damn three pounds since October.

And it's driving me nuts.

So that's it, guys. I've figured out the exercise thing. I'm seeing progress in other ways. But I'm still reaching for starchy sugary comfort foods at 2:30 when I realize I have nine more hours of work to do and two hours to do it in. I still neglect to track what I'm eating and assume that I'll still see results. I still think I can get away with eating this freaking delicious, creamy, fatty thai chicken soup twice a week for lunch and lose weight.

I can't.

In about 5 months, maybe less, I want to go shopping for my wedding gown. I want to be 10 lbs from my goal at that point. 10 pounds will make a difference in how I look, for sure, but isn't so much that I'll need to alter that dress down an insane amout.

That means I have just over 25 lbs to lose to get there. That's a lot, considering I can't seem to lose .5 pound a week consistently. But 5 lbs a month - when you write it down, doesn't seem unrealistic.

I know the key is the food I eat. I guess it's time for some re-education on the diet front...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday WI

I wasn't expecting a loss this week.
 
But I certainly wasn't expecting a 3 lb gain, either.
 
This week has been a little spotty in terms of tracking. I have been watching what I've been eating, but not writing it down. Obviously this is still important for me to do! We spent the weekend at my Mom and Dad's house, where I did indulge in some lazing around on the couch and eating what I felt like.
 
But I'm not going to let this bother me - and here's why:
 
I ate dinner really late last night - much later than normal.
Dinner was pretty high in sodium.
I didn't drink a ton of water this week. Being stuck in a workshop with limited bathroom breaks isn't really conducive to chugging back litres of water.
 
and...
 
I took my measurements again this morning and I lost 2 inches in total from various parts of me.
 
I'm not sure what's up with the scale, but this week I'm just going to ignore it and carry on. That's the problem with doing a weekly weigh-in, I think: it's so easy to get hung up on that number, to schedule my week around trying to see the biggest loss possible - eating less on Monday and Tuesday, and allowing myself 'treats' on Wednesday and Thursday, for example. To me, it feels like it's just not an accurate representation of the work I'm doing all the time!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday WI

What the snake? Wednesday AGAIN?

I'm sorry blog. I just have trouble balancing it all - work, life, love, washing the eternal mountain of dishes, gym, reading the book club selection, blogging. Something had to fall by the wayside this week, and apparently it was you.

I was up .2 lbs this week. Does anyone know if that's normal, to see a slow in weight loss or even a slight gain when you introduce weight training into your exercise routine? I mean, I've never really been hung up on being normal, but is it expected? I think so, but I'd love to hear if you've experienced something similar.

Or it could be the cookies I ate along with my feelings yesterday. Who knows ;)

This is what my life looks like right now:

5:55 - Gary's alarm goes off
6:30 - my alarm goes off for roughly 60 minutes in 5 minute intervals
7:30 - Gary leaves for work and I drag myself out of bed and drink coffee
8:30 - I arrive at work
4:30/5:00 - I leave work and go to the gym
7:00/7:30 - return home and commence dinner making
8:30ish - finish eating dinner, clean kitchen (sometimes), make lunch (sometimes)
9:00ish - watch Lost/shows about Vampires/assorted smut/HIMYM with Gary
10:45ish - go to bed

It's thrilling - but honestly, I can't really complain. I am at a point right now where I love working out.

I've always been a cardio queen, but since I've dipped my toe into the strength training pool, it's what I look forward to. I actually feel like I'm seeing some progress. I can lift more. Do deeper lunges. Etc.

Today I took my measurements, the first time in a few months. I do need to see results numerically, so this is going to help. Even if the scale doesn't budge, right?

(BUDGE DAMN SCALE, BUDGE I SAY)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Questions of Etiquette, or, Go Away, I'm Sweaty

Last night I was working out and in between exercises, I noticed this woman working out beside me. She was intense - working out with weights 3, 4, 5 times heavier than mine, doing all kinds of different exercises. She had an AMAZING body. Fitness Magazine model body. I wanted to ask her how she got started, if she was a trainer, how she knew how to do all of these things.

But the gym is a weird place. It's public, but we do things there that we would never, ever do in any other public venue. Like sweat. Or wear sweatpants. Or if you're a certain breed of gym-dude, grunt loudly and spit in the water fountain (WTF?).

It's not really cool for me to interrupt someone during the middle of their workout and get all chatty up in their business. On one hand, I think she might be really flattered - but on the other hand - I'd be saying, leave me alone, I'm clearly very busy.

And while we're on the topic, what is it with dudes thinking that the gym is a perfectly appropriate place to pick up women? Am I bothered by this because I'm generally Captain Frumpalot while I'm working out and couldn't attract that type of attention if my life depended on it? Somehow, I doubt it - after all, I'm not in the market for unsolicited romantic attention, I'm sort of full up in that department.

And furthermore, I'm too busy watching what not to wear doing intense cardio to care what I look like. I'm not there to impress, I'm there to sweat.

I had three sessions with a trainer. She is super attractive, French, and very very nice. And every single time we worked out, some random dude approached her and gave her his number, or asked her out.

Dudes. Not cool. The woman is at work, and very busy, and not to mention...her clients (those people you just stepped in front of and/or pushed out of the way) are paying her over a dollar a minute for her time.

What's the verdict? Am I just a really-uncool Fussbudget, out of touch with how things work now that the dowry cheque has been cashedI'm happily engaged? Should I ask that girl how she became so incredibly ripped and wise to the ways of the barbells?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday WI

Where did the week go? Holy cats. I swear I was just here, writing this post seconds ago and already a week (and a day!) has passed.

Oops. Time flies when you're hopping across the gym floor with a 10 kg medicine ball.

So yes, I have spent a ton of time at the gym this week. And last week. This month has been AWESOME for gym-going.

I'm trying to focus on more small meals, more protein, more vegetables, and less white, refined sugars and flours and delicious, delicious carbs.

This week I was down .2 lbs, a small loss. But a loss! 4 losses in a row! Sure, I'd like that number to be bigger, but I did make a major change to my workout routine.

I'm no longer afraid of "that side" of the gym anymore. I'm doing 3 days a week of strength training, and 3 cardio workouts of between 30 - 50 minutes. On Tuesday I did 75 minutes of cardio. Because I felt like it.

So if all this lugging around iron and squatting on bouncy balls and sweating means a smaller, tighter Meg, but not necessarily a lighter Meg immediately, then that's ok. Because I'm sleeping like a ROCK - and it's been a long time since something has tired me out so much that I don't toss and turn all night long.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday WI

I was down another pound this morning. Three losses in a row! Woot!


My tracker for the week - click to enlarge.

You might notice that I've been trying to eat a little more consistently on a daily basis and spreading out my 'weekly points' allowance. I usually find that I use way more points one day of the week - usually on the weekend. Eating out on the weekends is almost always a big splurge, points-wise, but we haven't been eating out lately. Gary and I are both trying to eat better and spend less, so we decided to not eat dinners out until Valentine's Day. So far, so good!

Harder, even, than mountain climbers

I promise I'll tell you about my first 'real' workout session, but I need to get this out there into the ether.

Today has not been a banner day. Not a bad day, by any means - just an average Tuesday. I'm feeling a little sensitive, maybe, or maybe it's the weather. It's a bit of a blue Tuesday.

Regardless, a few hours ago I got some feedback on a project I'm working on that I perceived as negative and it sent me into a tailspin.

I immediately craved chocolate. Cookies. Pastry. Sweets. Whatever I could get my hands on. NOW.

I sat at my desk and held back tears and made myself think about what I really wanted. Weigh in is tomorrow. I worked really hard at the gym this week. Do I really want one comment to flip me upside down and 'blow' all my progress?

No. I wanted comfort. I wanted something happy, something to get my mind of my troubles for a few minutes.

So I bitterly chomped on the celery and carrots I brought for my afternoon snack. I gathered up the courage to go talk to the person who said the thing that threw me off - and as it turns out, it was not intended to be critical (of course...).

I drank some water and I walked around the office.

But it was hard. Really hard. REALLY FREAKING HARD.

It's so easy for me to comfort myself with food. I've ALWAYS done it! What is wrong with me, that I can't self-soothe? We learn as babies to self-soothe, to put ourselves back to sleep, to calm down.

Why can't I, as a 26 year old woman, calm myself down without reaching for something sweet or salty or inevitably high calorie to shove in my mouth?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting ready for the week ahead

This weekend felt really busy to me - but in hindsight, it's just a regular weekend. I went out with friends on Friday night, I went to the gym, we had a big opening party at work on Saturday, and today Gary and I did errands and got ready for the week ahead.

We try to keep 'external' commitments to a minimum on Sundays. Sometimes we go to the gym (if we skipped Saturday's workout), but usually Gary and I have coffee together, talk about the last week and the week ahead, and buy groceries. Then it's time for chores and some relaxing - me with a book or napping, him on his computer.

Today I cleaned our kitchen, which was a bit of a disgrace. Then I prepped some snacks for the coming work week - bags full of washed, cut veggies and little containers of hummus. I cleaned out the fridge, packed up some leftovers for lunches, and then made pizza dough for dinners later this week.

It feels really good to have everything ready to go. Tonight I'll throw my gym bag together for my first workout session with my new trainer, and then the weekend will be over.

Do you like productive Sundays, or do you like to socialize with friends and family?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Getting Assessed

Well, I’m still alive. And, proud to say, feeling really positive. My fitness assessment yesterday was actually a really positive experience. I am shocked.

As usual, the whole world exploded about 30 minutes before the end of the work day (does that happen at anyone else’s office, or just mine?) and so my plans to arrive 15 minutes early all calm and collected were scrapped. Instead, I arrived at the gym 3 minutes early after hoofing it down the street in the cold, lugging my gym stuff, giant winter jacket, sneakers…etc. I changed my clothes, battled the locker room full of people still valiantly sticking to those resolutions, and headed to the front desk.

And there she was, waiting for me. She didn’t look evil. But come on. She must be evil.

Stephanie, the trainer assigned to the difficult task of convincing me that this was not a giant waste of time and an emotionally scarring experience, commented on my stress level. She could tell right away that I was uncomfortable, nervous, and probably a little stressed out.

Tip: If you’re doing this sort of thing and you’re not totally comfortable with the idea, seriously consider scheduling it for a time when you’re unlikely to be freaking out or worrying about arriving late.

Stephanie led me to a small room and told me that we’d talk first. She asked a few questions about me, told me a little bit about herself, the usual getting-to-know you business.

I had been given a booklet to fill out before the assessment, with a PARQ form (it’s a participant questionnaire/waiver form) and a few pages of questions. Some of the questions were really straight forward (how many hours of sleep did you get last night? Write down what you ate today?), and some of them made me think a little bit more.

Like – when were you happiest with your fitness ability? Never. Why do you want to achieve your goals? What do you need from the personal training staff?

We talked about past injuries, my current level of fitness, what I ate on a regular basis. We talked about what my goals were, and if they were realistic. Why they were important to me. We talked about obstacles, support, what I needed to succeed.

This is what I was thinking while we were having our conversation:

This woman is a competitive bodybuilder (I think…there’s a bit of a language barrier). How could this woman with her perfect body ever understand what was going on in my head? What it’s like? How intimidating this is? How could she understand what I’m thinking and going through, the struggles I have not to call it a day, skip the gym and eat my way through a giant plate o’ lasagna when I’m feeling crappy about the world? I’m sure she’s never eaten lasagna in her life. Wait a second, is she suggesting I eat sweet potatoes for breakfast?
Then she took my measurements, blood pressure, and heart rate. Good news – my blood pressure and heart rate are pretty much perfect.

Then she asked me to take off my shoe and sock and stuck four stickers on my left side – two on my feet, two on my arm and hooked me up to some kind of electrical device that measures your body composition.

And this is where it all clicked for me.

My body fat percentage is higher than it should be – which is not healthy. I can do cardio until I’m blue in the face, and that’s awesome, but it’s unlikely to have much of an effect on my lean muscle to fat ratio.

I don’t know the first thing about strength training, which is what I’m going to need to do to build muscle and reduce that body fat percentage.

Then Stephanie walked me through the training plan she would suggest for me – a foundation phase, a muscle building phase, a fat burning phase, and maintenance. We talked about what type of exercise I like to do, and what’s an ideal number of times a week to work out.

And then she took me out on the gym floor and I watched my form as I did squats and lunges, both on the floor and on a bosu ball thing. Not once did she laugh at me for not being able to do something. Not once did she yell. Not once did I cry – or even want to cry.

When my 60 minutes was up, Stephanie suggested that I do 30 minutes of cardio, if I had the time. I did – and I really pushed it.

I’ve never wanted to work out with a trainer. I’m definitely a do-it-yourself type of person. I’ve always been smart enough to catch on quickly to new things and learn things myself. If I couldn’t figure it out, I wasn’t going to ask for help – because that would be showing a weakness, right?

But I can’t do this myself.

I have two more free sessions with my gym – one that’s included in membership, and one that I won.

I have another session scheduled with Stephanie on Monday – a full workout this time.
I’ve asked her if we can develop a plan that I can do on my own, because at the moment, I don’t know if I can afford to hire a personal trainer. Getting the gym membership itself was a bit of a stretch. I work in the non-profit sector, I have other expenses…we all do.

But I’d really like to make this work, somehow. Realizing that I need to change my body-fat percentage was a huge wakeup call, and I don’t think that can be achieved with spin class and zumba and elliptical workouts alone.

I’m intimidated, and a little nervous about our workout on Monday, but for the first time, I’m also excited. I can’t stop thinking about it. In my world, that means I must really want it. If anyone would like to buy me a personal trainer for my birthday, which is coming up in 4 short months, you know how to get in touch ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Assessment

This afternoon I have an appointment with a personal trainer at my gym to do the free 'fitness consultation' that came with my gym membership. Following the consultation, I'll also have two more actual workout sessions with the trainer.

To say that I am apprehensive is putting it mildly.


Big Fear.

I've never worked out with a trainer. I'm terrified. What if this person embarrasses me? What if she makes fun of me? What if I can't do what she wants me to do? What if she laughs at me? What if everyone in the gym laughs? What if I burst into tears? What if they patronize me, or talk to me as if I'm stupid, which might even be the worst of all. Look, I know I'm fluffy, okay? I look at myself every single day. Abs? I do not have them. Rolls? Yes, yes I do.

I had put off this consultation for months successfully. Then I got totally busted by a trainer on my way out of the gym on Tuesday night. He asked if I was training with anyone. I said no, but come on. I could smell the upsale from a mile away - I do work in Marketing. Then he asked if I had enjoyed my complimentary sessions, and I couldn't lie to him.

So he signed me up promptly for an appointment with Stephanie, who I am sure is lovely.

And probably evil.

So if you never hear from me again, it's because Stephanie the Trainer, with her routine of squats and jump-thrust-burpie-mountainclimbers killed me.

It was nice knowing you guys.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday WI

Wow! It feels like forever since I've had a loss two weeks in a row.

This morning I stepped on my old clunker of a scale and weighed in at 209.4. That's a loss of 1.6 lbs. Yay! It's also consistant with what I weighed in at yesterday morning, so I'm going to take it as "accurate". I still haven't decided whether I'll just replace the battery in my scale or get a whole new one, but thanks for your input!



Here's my tracker from this week. Again, pretty good with the activity levels!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blaming the Scale

I'm beginning to think that I need to buy a new scale.

I know that sounds like a cop-out - blaming the machine instead of taking responsibility myself. But there's got to be something wrong when I can step on the scale, step off, and then two minutes later step back on and be up 3 lbs. Right? Or am I crazy?

Just to clarify: I don't usually weigh myself every two minutes, but I was doing an experiment.

If I do buy a new scale, does anyone have any reccomendations? I'm currently using one I inherited from an old roommate, so I'm not actually very attached to it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Calzone Goddess

That's my new nickname. At least, the nickname I have given myself.

This weekend I made an awesome dinner. Sensational, actually.

As a kid, we ate a ton of pizza pops. Literally a ton. I'm sure we kept the pizza pop factory in business. Whenever my Mom went to a conference, which, in my childhood memory was ALL THE TIME - but was probably 3 times a year - we had pizza pops. We had them for lunches, for dinner, I wouldn't be surprised if my brother occasionally ate them for breakfast. By my preteens I was so desperately sick of pizza pops that I learned to cook so that when Mom was busy and Dad was in charge, I wouldn't need to eat the godforsaken pizza pops.

Then I moved away from home, swearing to never again eat a pizza pop. I, like many freshman far from home, lived in a dorm with cafeteria privileges. Once a month, we had a special night that every single student looked forward to: Calzone night.

Newsflash, 2002 Megan: Calzones are just way, way better pizza pops. But lord, how I loved them. EVERYONE loved them. The Dining Centre was packed. You had to get there early, or Sorry, No Calzones for You.

My baby brother would go on to live in the same residence for a couple years, but by then Calzones were a regular fixture on the menu, not just a once a month treat.

Tonight, I made Calzones. God, they were delicious.

This is where I apologize for the fact that I didn't take photos while making them, so you'll have to trust me. Delicious. Attractive. Pretty much the sex symbol of food you can eat with one hand.

Or a fork and knife, if you're classy. Like me.

Megan's Calzones

Step One. Go back in time a few days, a week, whatever. Make this pizza dough recipe or the pizza dough recipe of your choosing. Let the dough rise, split it in half. Make one pizza. Freeze the other half of the dough.

Here's a trick I learned during my tenure making pizza at a restaurant-type fast foodish drive in establishment: spray the first layer of saran wrap you use to wrap up the dough with oil or pam first. That way, it won't stick after it's been thawed! Double-wrap that dough ball to protect it from freezer burn or something.

Don't have a time machine? Make the dough today and stash half of it for pizza later this week.

Don't want to make your own dough? Buy it frozen from a pizza joint or the grocery store.

Step Two: Back to today. Take dough out of freezer and thaw. Let dough come to room temperature before you work with it - it's easier to work with than cold dough.

Split dough ball into 4 equal parts.

Flatten each into a thin circle, but not so thin that it tears or is see-through. You don't want filling busting out, that's not atractive.

I made each calzone one at a time because we're short on counter space, but go nuts assembly-line style if you have a big kitchen.

Place dough on a greased cookie sheet. You can sprinkle the sheet with cornmeal if you're fancy. Usually I am, today, I am not.

Step Three:

Place about one cup MAX of your choice of toppings on ONE HALF of the dough circle. This is not a lot of toppings. If you look at it and go, Meh, not enough! you've probably hit it spot on.

Suggestion: put the toppings on, then spoon a little sauce on top of them. 3 tbs or so is LOTS of sauce.

This next bit is important: leave about a 1/2 inch border of nekkid dough around the outside of your toppings.

Toppings I used: chopped turkey breast deli meat, pineapple chunks, mozzarella cheese strings *my friend Robert just cringed at the idea of cheese strings*, pizza sauce.

Go nuts here. Use whatever you like on pizza, whatever is in the fridge, or a combo of the two. Taco or fajita leftovers would be awesome. Stir fry leftovers would work. Meatballs. Canned tuna. Just veggies. BBQ steak bits. Roast beef. Chicken. Tofu. Eggs and bacon.

Play with the sauces - salsa, peanut sauce, bbq sauce, alfredo sauce, teriyaki...whatever! This is a great way to use leftover bits and bobs of veggies in the fridge. Make everyone's to order, if you're a nice person. I'm not. Turkey and pineapple for us all!

Step - where am I? Four?:

Fold the un-topping'd dough over the toppings. Pinch edges together tightly to seal. You can do this a couple ways - use a fork or do what I did - pull the dough over just the toppings, leaving that border you left uncovered. Then roll the dough border OVER the top folded over dough and smush down with your fingers tightly to seal. Fold ends under. This should make a vaguely crescent/half-circle shaped delight.

You can now do a quick brush over the top with an egg wash if you're fancy. I'm not.

Step Five: Go back in time to between Step Three and Four and preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Step Six: Bake on the cookie sheet for 12 minutes. The dough might be brown, or it might not, but tap the top - it shouldn't be mushy or soft.

Let cool for a minute or two before devouring.

This makes FOUR pretty large calzones. One would be lots for dinner with a nice salad. I will leave you to calculate points and nutritional info yourself, but this came in really low for me because of the minimal toppings used and their low points values.