Category Archives: Eating

Weigh In & Reflecting on My Snacking Problem

After seriously rethinking my commitment to weight loss last weekend, I set my Weight Watchers trackers to reset on Saturday so I could get going with a fresh start right away. So, Saturday is no my weigh in day. Last weekend when I stepped on the scale (after a night of beer and cheese curds and pizza), I weighed 180.9 pounds. Yikes. This morning (after another night of pizza, but we’ll get into that later), I weighted 179.7. So, no matter how I feel about my eating this last week, I lost 1.2 pounds, so I will consider the week a success.

I think the only thing that made it successful was my activity. I set a goal to be active for at least 30 minutes every day. I met that goal 5/7 days. Not terrible, but not perfect. I had a total of 215 minutes of activity, so I did manage to average 30 minutes per day. I haven’t completed Day 3 of Week 1 of 5K Runner, so I’ll need to do that tomorrow (although I suppose I could still go out in the dark tonight, but that is highly unlikely).

I’m actually pretty happy with my activity this week. It’s not where I want it to be eventually, but it is a good start. My eating, on the other hand, was not really all that great. I tracked 6/7 days last week, and ended the week somewhere along the lines of 65 points in the hole (after burning through all my weekly points and activity points). Looking back through my food log, the overages can be attributed to:

  • Saturday, when I didn’t plan out any of my meals and ate 2/3 meals out
  • Sunday: unplanned snack of pita chips (2 servings)
  • Monday: unplanned snack of cheese curds (2 servings)
  • Tuesday: unplanned snack of cheese curds (10 servings – yes, 10)
  • Wednesday: unplanned snack of cookies and milk
  • Thursday: unplanned snack of cookies and milk
  • Friday: mindless eating while working from home, delivery pizza for dinner instead of homemade

Wow, looking back on it, I “screwed up” every single day. It’s clear that the unplanned snack is my downfall. Without them, the dinners out on Saturday and the delivery pizza on Friday would have fit into my weekly point allowance. It seems like I just can’t keep food in the house that isn’t on my meal plan (which isn’t all that great, because Aaron isn’t on the same meal plan as I am). I need to figure out a way to control this behavior. If anyone has any advice, I’d be happy to hear it.

Today was a good day. Although I didn’t have my meals (other than breakfast) planned, I was mindful as I went along. I had my standard oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, and I added a banana because I was out of milk. Immediately after breakfast I went to campus so I could start working on my data analysis for my dissertation, but I packed a lunch from Thursday’s leftovers – chicken breast, quinoa, peppers & zucchini, and spinach. I also brought an orange, apple, and string cheese for a snack. When it came time to talk dinner, I suggested Indian (Aaron’s favorite restaurant near our house), and scanned the menu for options that wouldn’t blow my points budget. I settled on papadum, a cup of rasam soup, and the tandoori sampler platter (grilled chicken, lamb sausage, and shrimp). I actually snuck my food scale into my purse and weighed out my meat portions at the restaurant so I know exactly how many points I consumed. I still had points leftover, so after dinner we went to the gelato shop where I ordered sorbet. My total point count for the day was 29, which is completely acceptable (my daily target is 27).

Tomorrow I need to get a run in, maybe take a nice walk or bike ride with Aaron, and then focus on grocery shopping and meal planning so I have good choices to get me through the week. An out-of-town coworker is visiting, so I have two lunches and one dinner out planned, AND another coworker has warned me that he will be bringing something chocolatey to a meeting to celebrate an application release we just deployed. If I am mindful, I can work these things into my week. I just need to plan, and somehow stop myself from indulging in unplanned snacks.

One Year Ago

April 18, 2014: Aaron and I went out to dinner with my parents at Braise, a delicious farm to table restaurant in Milwaukee. I can’t look far back enough to see if I tracked my points, but I weighed 174.8 pounds. I was just a few weeks away from running a half marathon.

Starting Over: 5K Running Plan

Well, I did it. I started over today. I re-downloaded the 5K Runner app and did Week 1, Day 1. When I texted Aaron, I referred to it as a “run” in quotation marks because it only includes 6 minutes of running. But nonetheless, I ran. I’m not going to lie – putting on my running clothes, which were meant to fit someone that weight about 10 pounds less, was not fun. But I really could care less what people think about me as I run around the neighborhood.

Run Photo April 13 2015

The 5K Runner plan only calls for 3 runs per week, so this should put me on a schedule of running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This should be doable because those are the days I work from home. I’m still going to strive for 30 minutes of activity every day (last night Aaron and I took a 45-minute walk), and I think walking can get just a wee bit boring … so we’re going to the bike store tonight. Stay tuned to see what we pick up.

Staycation Day #1 has been pretty low-key so far. I didn’t get out of bed until 8:00, and then I cooked up a big pot of steel cut oatmeal and blueberries—enough for 6 breakfasts. When combined with a cup of skim milk, that’s a 6-PointsPlus day with a whole grain, fruit and dairy. I’ll stick with this until I head to the farm this weekend to get some more eggs. I read some magazines, wandered through the garden, and cleaned up the kitchen. For lunch I experimented with a mason jar salad, since I really don’t eat enough salads but love them when they’re made well. Using what I had on hand, I made a red wine & chive vinaigrette (first harvest from the garden!), grilled up a salmon burger, hydrated some dried cherry tomatoes, grated some carrots, and snagged some greens. I mixed it all up and it was quite tasty. I’m going  to head to the store later and get fixings for salads for both Aaron and I to eat all week. I’m planning to make two kinds—chicken/bacon/tomato/ranch and chicken/pear/blue cheese/ginger vinaigrette. The ranch dressing will be made with fat-free greek yogurt and buttermilk, so it’s only 1 PointPlus. I’ll try to remember to take a photo when I get them put together.

The 5K Runner app provides inspirational quotes after each run. You might think it’s cheesy, but I really liked what it gave me today. Some of us have to start our long journeys more than once.

The longest journey begins with a small step taken by a brave person. That's you!Since I’m focusing on getting back to where I was in terms of fitness, and then moving into territory I haven’t traversed before, I think I’m going to look back on what I was doing one year before each of my posts. Between my blog and the TimeHop app, I should always be able to figure it out. So, without further adieux…

One year ago: April 13, 2014

I ran a lovely morning 10K while on a business trip in Reno, NV. It was a personal PR for that distance.

April 13 Run Photo

A Barefoot Run Through Chicago Streets

My husband and I have been married for four years! To celebrate our anniversary, we took a short overnight trip to Chicago. We had traveled to the Windy City for one reason—to eat a fabulous, multi-course meal at Alinea. We’ve been dreaming of eating at this restaurant since we met, and we’d finally convinced ourselves to spend money on a reservation.

Not only are reservation at Alinea expensive, but they are pre-paid. The confirmation specifically says that you may not be seated if you arrive more then 30 minutes after your reservation time. So, while we were sitting in gridlock traffic in the cab on Friday night, watching the minutes tick by, we got a little nervous. We had 5:30 reservations, and the cab dropped us off at about 5:38.

We didn’t see the restaurant when he dropped us off, but I didn’t worry about that. I’d read (admittedly, years ago), that the restaurant was extremely understated and a bit hard to find. But quickly, we realized something was wrong. There were no restaurants here. There really wasn’t anything around us. I was so confused. I called the restaurant, but could only get their answering service.

We asked a guy at a bus stop where the restaurant was, and he pointed us to the south. We started walking, and I got more and more nervous. We were in a dark, fairly unlit area. I was wearing a black cocktail dress and bright read HIGH heels. Aaron was in a full suit. It was 5:45. We paid a guy in a pedi cab to take us a few blocks. We still saw nothing. Aaron pulled out his phone and realized I had made a gigantic mistake. When putting the address into my phone (I had organized everything with TripIt), I’d dropped a 1. We were at 723 N. Halsted. Alinea was at 1723 N. Halsted. It was now 5:50. Fuck (pardon my language, but that was my state of mind).

The slightly crazy guy driving our pedi cab couldn’t get anywhere because cars were in the bike lanes. We decided that we would run towards the restaurant, 1.2 miles away, until we found a cab. I put my shoes in one hand and my phone in the other (in case the restaurant called), and took off, barefoot, towards the restaurant. Did I mention it was about 25 degrees outside?

I ran, keeping my eyes on the ground because I was acutely aware that glass or some other unsafe objects could be in the street. Aaron wanted to run ahead (he’s a much faster runner than me), but I informed him that no reservation was worth enough to leave his wife on a strange Chicago street, barefoot. We ran some more, passed by several cabs that were unavailable. I tried to get a stranger to open his car window so I could offer him $20 to drive us half a mile. He wouldn’t even roll down the window. More running.

The neighborhood transitioned, and I told Aaron I was comfortable with him running ahead. He took off, and I kept running at my penguin pace. Now, in the street with traffic, because the sidewalk was under construction. After a few more blocks, I had to stop because I could feel a rock digging into my foot. I looked at  the bottom of my foot and realized that I had torn multiple holes in my nylons, and if I kept going they’d be ripped/running up to my knees. I looked up, and saw Aaron coming my way. I put my shoes on and took a deep breath, not wanting to hear the bad news.

Aaron had made it to the restaurant around 6:06. It would have been perfectly appropriate for the staff, knowing their rules, to turn them away. After they got over the shock of a man in a suit sprinting into the restaurant, they assured him that they would honor the reservation. I had about two blocks of walking to catch my breath, and we walked into the restaurant and were promptly seated. We of course told our host that we’d literally run to the restaurant because of a cab mistake. He seemed pretty impressed 🙂

Then, we settled into a 15-course meal. Literally, the best meal of my life. And infinitely more memorable because of what it took to get us there. I most definitely earned this dessert, which was presented to us by Grant Achatz, the chef and founder of Alinea.

Dessert at Alinea

And, in case you’re curious what running a mile down the street in nylons will do to your feet…

Dessert at Alinea

Fall Food: Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Yesterday was day one back on the wagon. I’m focusing on getting my eating under control for the next few weeks. Having quite Weight Watchers (I still stand by that decision), I’ve estimated my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and created a daily deficit that should allow me to lose about .5 pounds per week—a rate that I feel is achievable and sustainable. My daily calorie goals is 1,590 calories. I’m also paying attention to my macro nutrients, and aiming for 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.

I’m happy to report that yesterday I came in just at my calorie goal and came very close to my target macro ratio. You’ll notice I had two portions of butternut squash black bean chili. This is one of the better vegetarian chili recipes I’ve made, and the serving you get (2 generous cups) is super filling for only containing 217 calories. Mom calculated the Weight Watcher Points Plus and said it was only 5. I highly recommend giving this one a try. If you buy frozen cubed butternut squash at the grocery store, it would come together really quickly. Warning…there is half a can of black beans in each serving. You may get a little gassy.

Here’s how my day shaped up:

Breakfast: 1 cup plain fat free yogurt (sweetened with Splenda, vanilla, lemon juice), 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup granola [323 calories]

Snack: 2/3 oz plain almonds, 1 light string cheese [148 calories]

Lunch: 2 cups butternut squash black bean chili topped with half an avocado, 1 cup skim milk [408 calories]

Snack: Think Thin Brownie Crunch protein bar [230 calories]

Dinner: 2 cups butternut squash black bean chili topped with 1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt and 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1.5 cups skim milk [475 calories]

Totals: 1,584 calories, 235 g carbs (47%), 59 g fat  26%), 131 g protein (27%)

I also drank a ton of tea and spent a few hours in the garden getting the garlic planted, leeks harvested, and covering everything with mulch before it potentially snows this week. One day down, many more to go.

So Much For Maintenance

I’ve fallen off the wagon. Actually, I think the wagon might be in West Virginia, where I was the last time I was on it. While searching for the wagon, I’ve managed to find five pounds. Ugh.

The plan was to take a break from calorie restrictions, while working weight lifting into my fitness routine. But, I only completed the first week of weight workouts and then proceeded to do nothing in terms of fitness for a month. I followed my 2,000 calorie diet about 80% of the time for approximately two weeks, and then for some reason I started eating like crap. I was eating crap I hadn’t had in any significant quantity in months … grilled cheese, hot dogs, pizza, crab rangoons, fried rice (I know how to make healthy choices at the Chinese restaurant, dammit!). Ben and Jerry’s came into the house twice in a month.

I thought today was completely lost, but according to My Fitness Pal, it’s not. I had a good breakfast, a terrible lunch, terrible snacks, but can salvage it with a healthy dinner (that will actually taste good).

I’ve gotta get back on track. I believe the fatal flaw here was twofold – my mindset (I was thinking “Yay, I’m free!” rather than “Let’s move forward cautiously”) and my commitment (I very often chose to sit on my ass rather than engaging in any type of fitness).

All is not lost. This is a minor setback that can be corrected before the New Year. But, I’m disappointed in myself. My second Stitch Fix came today and my stylist nailed it, but half of the pieces are just a bit too tight. I love them, and I’m tempted to buy them all just so I have a tangible goal to reach.

So, it’s back to planning for a daily 300 calorie deficit, tracking (EVERYTHING), and—most importantly—consciously thinking about why I’m doing this. To live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. To wear clothes I can buy off the rack (or have shipped to my door). To participate in adventurous travel experiences. And to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated.

My “break” from weight loss did not go as expected. But I can learn from this, and move forward. Starting now, as I walk into the kitchen and assemble my pre-tracked meal that fits within my daily calories. And then I’ll plan the next week of meals, and by golly, I’ll eat them. Because I deserve it.

Does Protein Oatmeal Taste Good?

That’s the first thought I had when I read some of the recommended meals on the New Rules of Lifting for Women nutrition program. It advocated making old fashioned oats as you normally would, then stirring in a scoop of protein powder and 1/2 cup of milk. I was skeptical. But I tried it.

Turns out, it’s pretty good (I also added dried strawberries). I use vanilla protein powder, so it gives it a little sweetness. It’s my go-to breakfast of the moment, and clocks in at 305 calories and 25 grams of protein. This morning I chose to eat the protein oatmeal I brought to work instead of the fresh doughnuts offered for a co-worker’s going away part. Now THAT is promising.

I didn’t quite hit my 2000 calorie goal today. Before my workout I was just over 200 calories short. This is likely because I didn’t plan my meals, and once again I was too busy running from meeting to meeting in the morning to eat my snack, so it got combined with lunch. I still didn’t feel hungry at any point in the day, and after sitting around on the couch for a few hours I went downstairs to do my strength workout.

Deadlift. Nailed it (although some of you would laugh when you see what I’m currently lifting). Shoulder press. Nailed it (need to get some heavier dumbbells). Lat pulldown. Nailed it (as much as I could while substituting a resistance band for a cable station). Lunges.

Ugh, I hate the lunges. I wish they would go back to Jazzercise or Sweating to the Oldies or wherever they came from.

I think I made progress, though. I know my form was terrible, and I think I was trying to take my trailing leg back to far. It still is like pulling teeth to get through two sets of 15, and I was only holding 5-pound weights.

And, a few crunches on the fitness ball. Easy peasy. My reward:

Post Workout Protein ShakeI need to get some bananas and fruit juice in the house so I can start playing with my flavors. This one was strawberry, again. Or, I could get chocolate and do a choco-peanut butter one. I sense some fun with shakes in the future. Unfortunately, I’m traveling for work during my next workout (possibly two), which means I’ll be grabbing a Slim Fast or something at a convenience store. Ick. But I do what the program says.

Today’s Totals:

2,003 calories
254 g carbohydrates
57 g fat
139 g protein
1 strength workout

I’m on the road for the next five days to attend a conference. Hoping to stick as close to my meal plan as possible, but will definitely need to figure out a plan for my 200-250 calorie morning and afternoon snacks. What they normally provide at conferences (cookies, brownies, muffins, etc.) will not fly!

Why I’m Quitting Weight Watchers

I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat 1,400 calories per day for the rest of my lifeI didn’t count points today. Or yesterday. Or the day before that. I think I’m officially done with Weight Watchers, at least for the time being.

I’ve been trying to follow the Weight Watchers plan for the last 22 months. Most of that time I followed the plan online, although I attended At Work meetings for about 9 months in the middle. As far as weight loss goes, I’ve been extremely successful (I’m 40 pounds down from my first WW weigh in). I learned some valuable lessons, namely portion size and how to lighten up super fatty recipes. However, I’d be lying if I said I stayed within my points every single week, or that I tracked every single day. I had two major recurring problems that contributed to this.

My Weight Watchers Struggles

The first problem I had on Weight Watchers was that on far too many occasions, all my efforts of pre-planning and tracking my meals would go down the drain when I found myself ravenous (from either real or hedonic hunger) at mid-afternoon. If I didn’t have a snack with me because my PointsPlus allowance didn’t have room for one that day, I would inevitably end up at the vending machine buying a Twix bar, or rummaging through the pantry at home for my husband’s granola bars or protein bars. Then I’d eat 7-10 points and be over my target for the day, no matter what I had for dinner.

The second problem was my inability to control my eating on the weekends. If I managed to stick with my point allowance all week, come Sunday I’d want to eat everything in the house. I didn’t always eat junk (because I didn’t have much of it around), but I’d eat anything I could find, including raisins, crackers, or those damn granola bars … in far too large of quantities. After tracking it I could easily be at a 50-60 point day (my target was 26-29).

Both of these problems occurred far too often.

Trying Something Radically Different

In the meantime, I continued to listen to one of my favorite podcasts, Half Size Me. Heather has been preaching the importance of weight lifting and feeding your body the calories it needs for quite some time. My Weight Watchers problems and Heather’s advice started to mesh in my head, and I picked up a book I’d half-heartedly read this summer – New Rules of Lifting for Women. I read the part about nutrition at least three times, and decided it was time for a change. I’ve committed to starting both the strength training and diet programs in the book, and that means incorporating a major dietary change.

For the next four weeks, I will not be restricting my calorie intake.

I’m doing this for two reasons. One: I want to eat at the calorie level that will maintain my weight, so I can get an idea of what “normal” life would look like if I wanted to maintain this weight forever (I still have some weight to lose, but I weigh significantly less than when I started this journey). I’m committed to sustainable weight loss, so I want a genuine experience of what sustaining this weight would take right now. Two: I want to build muscle so I can increase my metabolism and burn more calories by doing nothing, so I need to feed my body the proper nutrients during the strength training program to develop muscle.

I completed the equations in the book, and learned that my resting metabolic rate is approximately 1,350 calories, and when I don’t work out my Total Daily Energy Expenditure is approximately 2,025 calories. On days that I do a strength workout, my TDEE is approximately 2,295 calories. The authors of the book suggest eating every single one of these calories throughout five meals a day (six meals on days I work out). So that’s what I’m doing. I may still have a slight deficit on some days because I’m going to continue running a few times per week, but I’m not cutting any calories from my daily meal plan for the purpose of weight loss.

Here’s What 1900 Calories Looks Like

I shared this with my friends on Facebook, and after the first day following the meal plan I posted pictures of what it took for me to eat 1,900 calories in a day (I forgot to drink a glass of milk so I was 100 calories short of my goal). Here’s what it looked like:

Breakfast Egg Tacos

 Breakfast: 2 corn tortillas, 2 eggs, 1 oz reduced fat cheese, 1/4 cup salsa

Apples & Peanut Butter

Snack: 2 small apples, 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salmon Salad

 Lunch: large green salad with cherry tomatoes, 4 oz salmon burger, 2 tsp olive oil & vinegar

Yogurt & Almonds

Snack: 1/2 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup strawberries, .75 oz almonds

Tilapia, Quinoa & Carrots

Dinner: 3 oz tilapia, 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup roasted carrots

Yogurt & Berry ParfaitDessert: 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt (flavored with Splenda, vanilla & lemon juice), 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup granola

Eating Food Is Amazing

I was never hungry this entire day. I went for a 3 mile run/walk before dinner and wasn’t overly tired, and after dessert I was able to fit in my second weight training workout of the week, which earned me a protein shake (290 calories, not pictured). Just for fun I logged the 1,900 calorie menu in my Weight Watchers app. It clocked in at 37 points, or 142% of my recommended daily target of 26 points.  Had I been counting points, I would not have allowed myself to have the full two tablespoons of peanut butter (probably none at all, actually), or the almonds. I definitely wouldn’t have had the dessert. I would have been hungry, and likely gone off track. And the idea of drinking a protein shake would just seem like a waste of points. Why drink a 7 point shake when I could eat a Twix bar for the same points?

My mindset is already changing. I have a goal for the distribution of my macro nutrients (35% protein, 30% fat, 30% carbs), so the type of food I eat matters. I’m not afraid to eat 200 calories worth of nuts or peanut butter, because I have 10x that to work with throughout the day, and I know they’ll pack some bang (satiety) for the buck. AND, if all goes well, eating this way will help me build muscle, which will ultimately burn more calories.

Weight Watchers Was Setting Me Up To Fail

Now that I’m counting calories, I wanted to go back and see how many calories I was eating on an average “good” Weight Watchers day. I plugged in the following menu, which was exactly what I ate on September 30.

Breakfast: Spelt chocolate zucchini muffin
Lunch: Homemade tomato soup (no dairy), 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup raw carrots, 1/4 cup sunflower seed pate
Snack: small apple, .75 oz almonds
Dinner: 1 small pita, 1 cup cucumber, 1 oz feta, 1/2 cup hummus, 1 cup baked potato soup

This was 36 points, which I would consider an “OK” day on Weight Watchers. I’d already manually adjusted my daily target up from 26 to 29 (the highest they will allow), and this would also use 7 weekly points (which is what you’re allowed, on average, per day).

Calorie count: 1,429

This makes me sick. I still consumed about 600 calories LESS than I burned that day simply by walking around and breathing, and I would have been down on myself and felt like I could have done better. But mathematically, if I ate like that every day of the week, I’d lose 1.2 pounds. And I’d be hungry all the time. When it came time to maintain my weight, Weight Watchers would tell me that I still could only eat about 32 points per day to maintain (with weeklies for leverage). And in time, my body would adapt to that, and my metabolism would be ruined. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat 1,400 calories per day for the rest of my life.

Moving Forward: Food As Fuel

Although I’m still hoping to lose about 40 pounds, my new plan is to do this by changing my body composition—increasing lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat. I’ll eat my maintenance calories for four weeks while following my strength training plan (which calls for 3 workouts per week) and loosely following my 10K training plan (aiming for 2-3 run/walks per week). If something has to give, it will be the running (it can be almost impossible—and it’s not recommended—to do an endurance workout the day after a strenuous strength workout, at least for beginners). After four weeks, if I experience a weight gain (possible) or my weight stays the same (likely), I’ll cut 300 calories from my diet, for an expected weight loss of .6 pounds per week—which was more than I was averaging on Weight Watchers.

The key to this plan is to strive to hit my macro nutrient goals—particularly the protein goal. I need extra protein available to be turned into muscle. And, protein offers satiety, which should help me avoid the mid-afternoon run to the vending machine or pantry.

I’m grateful to Weight Watchers. It helped me get started on this journey, which has already lasted two years and will probably last two more. While it a great push at the start, however, I don’t think it will effectively get me past the finish line.

5 Days Of Restaurant Meals

Saturday morning, I left my home and drove to the airport, and didn’t return until tonight. While I was gone, I ate 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 4 dinners in restaurants. I tracked every bite. And I feel really good about it.

Day 1: Saturday

I was traveling for work, and I started with a plan. I brought two hard-boiled eggs, an apple, and a bag of cherries to the airport. Those were my “in-flight meals” instead of pretzels and peanuts. During my lunchtime layover, I chose a grilled kabob sandwich with a giant bowl of fruit instead of the standard fries. I only ate half the pita. Off to a great start!

Healthy Airport Lunch

Once we landed in Nashville, we went exploring before our 7:30 splurge dinner reservation at Etch. We stopped on a patio to listen to some live music and had a beer. Then we went to dinner, where I had another beer and shared this amazing roasted cauliflower appetizer with two lovely ladies.

Roasted Cauliflower Appetizer at Etch

We were served some delicious rosemary dinner rolls, fresh from the oven I ate one, and only one.

Rosemary Dinner Rolls at Etch

Then I got the duck confit ratatouille crudo. I ate all the duck and maybe about half of the veggies. This was a delicious dish. I chose it because I don’t get to eat the protein often, and it was vegetable-centric. It was amazing.

Duck Confit Ratatouille Crudo at Etch

I also didn’t say no to dessert. I chose a dish based on in-season fruit (which included a cake and a small serving of delicious house-made ice cream).

Peach Dessert at EtchTotal Weight Watchers PointsPlus for Saturday: 63. Yes, that’s a lot, but it was my splurge meal and I had the points for it.

Day 2: Sunday

I made the mistake of sleeping with just the sheer curtains in front of the windows, and I think the city lights made for a fitful sleep. At 4:45 a.m. I was wide awake. The old Liz would have stayed in bed, awake or not, for two more hours. Instead, I called the desk to confirm that the gym was open, and busted out a 5K on the treadmill (after realizing I had put my running pants on inside out while getting dressed in the dark).

June 29 Run Photo

After my run, I met some friends for the workout I had actually planned for the day – Zumba! It was offered for free as part of the conference I was attending. We completed a 50 minute class, and I was sweating buckets! I liked the workout because it was easy to keep moving to the beat, even if I had no idea how the choreography worked. I should try more music/choreography-based classes. Here are some of us after the workout, with our instructor.

NASFAA Zumba Crew

We grabbed breakfast (yogurt parfait & a banana) and set up our exhibit booth for four hours. We ended up eating lunch at a sports bar (ick), but I think I made one of the best possible choices, given my options. I had salmon (wiped off most of the sauce), corn chowder, and veggies.

Healthy Sports Bar Meal

That evening there was a reception with tons of food stations. I only tried one (grits, with bacon), and kept the portion small. I didn’t even have a drink. We had a late dinner, and I had a quinoa and tabbouleh salad. Yum!

Total Weight Watchers PointsPlus for Sunday: 43 (earned at least 16 Activity Points)

Day 3: Monday

I went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and was disappointed that all of the main dishes were pretty high-calorie (and the breakfast buffet was $19). I managed to put together a healthy, delicious meal based on the sides that were offered. I had two poached eggs, a gorgeous bowl of fruit, and a side of ham (I only ate half. I think it was about two ounces).

I spent the morning in conference sessions, and then attended a luncheon. I dread these, because it’s way too easy to consume 1,500-2,000 calories when you’re offered a salad, bread, entree, dessert, and coffee. I did pretty well with this one, though.

Conference Lunch Salad

Salad to start (easy on the dressing, happy there was no cheese or croutons). I didn’t eat any bread.

Conference Lunch Vegetarian Entree

My delicious entree of polenta topped with roasted veggies and drizzled in a balsamic reduction. Most everyone else had chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes. When I’m at a conference, I go vegetarian for a variety of reasons. About 80% of the time it’s lower calorie. If I notice that the veggie option is cheese-covered pasta, I suck it up and eat the meat and try to eat in moderation.

Conference Dessert I Didn't Eat

This was the dessert that I DIDN’T EAT! I thought it was lemon chess pie, a southern specialty, and I was ready to enjoy it. I took one tiny bite, and it tasted like a vanilla wafer. Not what I was expecting, and not worth the 8-12 points it probably is. I pushed it away, enjoyed my coffee, and ended lunch in an excellent place, points-wise.

There was yet another food-filled reception, during which I ate nothing and drank only Diet Coke. I even managed to avoid this giant cheese cart.

Conference Reception Food I Didn't Eat

We went out for another group dinner, and I made the best choice I felt I could. I turned down the nachos that got passed around and chose an entree of red snapper, vegetables, and corn bread. I did not eat the coleslaw.

Healthy Dinner At BB Kings Blues Club

I also had a good time that night, and had three beers.

Total Weight Watchers PointsPlus for Monday: 49

Day 4: Tuesday

I should have run on Tuesday, but I didn’t. I felt that my body needed the rest (to stay awake, not for running recovery). I repeated Monday’s breakfast exactly, and went to a day of sessions. I had plans to eat at an amazing farm-to-table restaurant, but for other reasons I ended up in the conference lunch. This is one of the times that the vegetarian option was definitely not impressive. The standard entree was roasted pork covered in gravy, with grits and green beans. The vegetarian option was …

Poor Conference Vegetarian Entree

The same thing, with grilled tofu replacing the pork and balsamic reduction replacing the gravy. The tofu wasn’t terrible, but the grits were dry and had the texture of a pancake. I took one bite and deemed them not worth the points. But the cheesecake we had for dessert? Yeah, that was worth the points.

After a long afternoon that included taking down our booth, we returned to the same restaurant where we had the decadent Saturday dinner. The salads had also looked phenomenal, so we were going to give them a try. But then we found out what the soup of the day was.

Mushroom Soup at Etch

Mushroom soup with a mushroom confit on top and a drizzle of truffle oil. Yum! I’m estimating this small bowl of soup was about 10 points. And worth it!

Beet and Berries Salad at Etch

This salad was also amazing. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but it has roasted beets, harissa cranberries, spiced peanuts, berries, and a goat cheese semi fredo. YUM.

Lemon Lime Sherbert at Etch

Blueberry Rye Sorbet at Etch

I wanted dessert, but after having cheesecake at lunch I knew I had to keep it light. I had this duo of sorbet and sherbert. It was excellent.

Total Weight Watchers PointsPlus for Tuesday: 54

Day 5: Wednesday

Today was a travel day. I had the same breakfast at the hotel restaurant yet again, and put in an hour and a half of work before leaving for the airport. Our flight was at 11:30 and our connecting layover was tight, so I planned ahead and got lunch to eat on the plane—a 400-calorie cobb salad and some grapes. It kept me satisfied until I got home, where I made a healthy, veggie-centric dinner and enjoyed a popsicle.

Total Weight Watchers PointsPlus for Wednesday: 28


While I definitely ate a bit more than I probably would have if I had stayed home, I’m really proud of the choices I made on this trip. I didn’t snack or mindlessly drink, and I got some activity in. My weigh-in was supposed to be Tuesday, but since I didn’t have a scale in my room I skipped it. My next official weigh in will be next Tuesday, but I’ll check the scale each morning for the next few days to see how my weight fluctuates after the trip. I’m putting all of my thoughts together into a coherent “how to stick with your weight loss plan during business travel” post that I believe will be posted on a popular weight-loss blog. I’ll let you know when/if it’s published 🙂

How Do You Shop For Clothes While Losing Weight?

I need new jeans really, really badly. Not only are the jeans I have from when I was in my early 20’s (and therefore they’re far too low-cut), many of them have holes in inconvenient places, and they’re all starting to fall off my ass.

This is a good thing. That means I’ve gone from wearing a size 20 to a size 12/14 (depending on the brand). But I really need new clothes.

Between my home and my office is an outlet mall. I stopped by on the way home today, hoping to find some jeans that fit me prior to my business trip this weekend. I went to two stores (Banana Republic and Ann Taylor) and didn’t find a single pair of jeans that fit me and didn’t look like mom jeans.  I also seem to be between sizes (medium and large) in t-shirts and dresses.

I’m definitely not going to find what I need at the outlet mall, because the selection is far too limited. But I hate shopping even in normal situations, and I don’t want to invest in good clothing that might not fit me in a few months. I know I should probably go to a thrift store, but I don’t have the patience to sort through a bunch of stuff. I’d rather go to a big department store (although the thought of it makes me want to gag), where I have rack after rack of clothes to choose from. But I’m not going to like it.

I don’t even know what size I wear, since companies are anything but consistent in their sizing. This makes shopping even more frustrating, because I have to bring two or three sizes of every garment into the dressing room. And then I feel like a jerk because I leave without buying anything.

I’m hoping that when I reach my goal weight, I can go on a shopping spree and enjoy every single minute of it, because I’ll be investing in clothes that I plan to wear for a few years (probably a decade, given my adherence to fashion trends). But for now, it’s just not appealing.

How do you deal with clothes shopping when you’re in the middle of a weight loss journey?

Food Log

I did pretty well again today!

Breakfast: Peanut butter granola bar, string cheese, apple
Lunch: 1 cup split pea & ham soup, carrots & cucumber with black bean dip, 1/2 cup rice mixed with 1 cup spaghetti squash and 1/2 cup roasted mushrooms
Snack: 4 oz fat free Greek yogurt with 1T strawberry jam, 1/2 cup skim milk
Dinner: Grilled turkey & cheese sandwich

32 Weight Watchers Points Plus

Work From Home Win

I’m in my second week of a MWF telecommuting arrangement. I was very excited for this to begin because I commute about an hour each way to work. I figured working from home would give me time to get in a run and more time to cook real food for dinner. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would want to eat everything in the house while I sat here, alone, all day.

The first week was a disaster, eating-wise. I’d go downstairs for a “quick snack” two, three … maybe four times per day.It was ridiculous. This week has been different. I’m committed to tracking, and this morning I Got up before work and got my run in!

June 25 Run Photo

I actually look pretty happy in that photo. It was nice and peaceful this morning. I saw a lot of other runners and walkers out. I ran around the lake, which was gorgeous. But mostly, I was happy to be done. Although it was a cool 61 degrees, it was 100% humidity. I was a sweaty beast.

When I got home I had just enough time to shower and make a nice post-run breakfast.

Egg Breakfast After Run

I stayed pretty busy during work. I grabbed a healthy snack in the morning, a filling lunch, and a snack when I packed things up for the day. Dinner was blah thanks to some somewhat rancid butter that I put on my spaghetti squash. After dinner, Aaron and I went for a one hour walk. That’s right—two chances to earn Activity Points today!

If I can replicate this success most days that I work from home, I should be in pretty good shape. Here’s my food log for today.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 1 slice whole wheat toast, apple
Snack: String cheese, .5 oz walnuts
Lunch: Oatmeal (1/2 cup dry) with 1 cup chopped strawberries, 1 T strawberry jam, .5 oz walnuts
Snack: Peanut butter granola bar
Dinner: 4 oz salmon burger, 1/4 cup peach salsa, 1/2 cup white rice (spaghetti squash that didn’t get eaten)
Snack: Popsicle, 1/2 cup grapes

35 Weight Watchers PointPlus
13 Activity Points earned