Thursday, March 29, 2012

What you see is what you get

As I told you yesterday, I am answering a challenge put forth by Caitlin in her blog, Healthy Tipping Point, at the conclusion of her Naked Face Project, namely to post a picture of myself without makeup. So without further adieu, here I am fresh out of the shower with wet (well, towel-dried) hair and just some moisturizer on my face.

Caitlin started this project two months ago when one of the little girls she coached asked why she wore makeup, and she answered, "Because it's fun." Since she's always talking about inner beauty, she rethought her answer and, along with a friend, decided to totally eschew all beauty products for the next two months. This included the obvious, like makeup and nail polish, but also any primping, including hair products and color, and plucking or shaving. Anywhere.

While I know I could never go to those extremes, I've gotten better than I used to be; I can go to the grocery store without makeup every now and then - this from the woman who put on makeup while in labor (all three times!) to go to the hospital to give birth. (I don't know why I bothered - after hours with no epidural, I pretty much sweated it all off anyway.) We've vacationed with several friends and - surprise - they like me no less when they see me without makeup first thing in the morning. And along the same line, they like me no less when I'm bigger. It's just that I like MYSELF less.

I was always one of the big girls growing up; I was 5'6'' in sixth grade, the same height as I am now. It wasn't until late junior high that I started getting chubby. You have to realize that Twiggy was the standard of beauty then - nothing I could aspire to with my sturdy frame.

I switched from public to Catholic school in 9th grade. It's a horrible age anyway. Who DOESN'T feel awkward at age 14? I did my best to blend in, but coming from a school where I had known my friends since I was a little girl to a school where I knew no one, I pretty much stuck out. Appearance was everything, even with the Catholic school plaid skirts and blazers. No one could see that I was nice or smart just by looking at me. One of the worst experiences - to this day - was in ninth-grade general science. For some reason, we were separated by gender in this class. I'm not sure why, since most of the talk about sex was in biology and we were together then. But anyway, on that particular day, I don't even know what the topic was; maybe exercise, maybe diet, maybe extremes on the bell curve. Who knows. But Mr. Fischbach asked the littlest girl in our class, Vicki Hughes (a tiny, adorable, popular cheerleader) how much she weighed, and she said "90 pounds". And then he turned to me and said, "And Cathy, what do you weigh?" If only a hole had opened up in the floor and swallowed me then. I blushed furiously (a bad habit of mine), looked at my desk, and said nothing. The silence seemed to go on f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I never did answer, and he finally resumed whatever lesson he was trying to teach.

Around the same time, my mom came home from a doctor visit and handed me this piece of paper and said, "Here. I asked the doctor to give me a diet for you." It was a basic late-60's starvation diet. So I have had issues for quite some time, as you can see. Seriously, it's amazing I turned out as "normal" as I did.

Reading about the Naked Face Project got me thinking about how tied up we are as a culture in the idea of physical appearances. Why did I start this blog? Sure, to be accountable, get healthier, but the impetus was to look pretty in Alex's and Aly's wedding photos. I like to think that my perception of appearance is way healthier than it used to be. One of my favorite sayings is by Audrey Hepburn, "The happiest girls are the prettiest." And seriously, I could not be happier with my life. I am married to a man I have loved since I met him in 1977, we have the three most wonderful children (and soon-to-be daughter-in-law), we have a very comfortable lifestyle, I have friends whom I know I can call at any time, and I'm healthy.

There is not one thing I would change. But I might try. I know you all think you will win, but I asked for the winning ticket when I bought mine.

Although just in case I don't win, I can console myself with this:

On to the mundane. Breakfast was the same.

The other day, my friend Jane told me that in recognition of how hard I'm working at OSHA (Operation Smokin' Hot by August), this year she was not buying me any Peeps. She always gives me MY OWN BOX every year. And sometimes on even non-Peeps-related holidays, such as Halloween or Christmas. I had to be content with this:

Okay, I scrubbed all the floors today and it is sunny, warm, and there is no wind. Time for a bike ride!

Have a great weekend!


It has been a gray day all day today, with storms forecast (which have yet to materialize). It did storm during the night, which led to some restless non-sleep. After a comfort food breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins, I sat around drinking coffee in my robe as long as I could before I started feeling guilty.

I finally decided it was time to shower and start my day, but I was feeling guilty about not working out so I plopped down for today's Mad Abs March: 42 push ups, 56 crunches, and a 1 minute, 46 second plank. *whimper* I then figured that since I was a bit sweaty, I'd get some cardio in outside. I kept thinking of this:

Since it was supposed to rain, I knew a ride was not in order because I didn't want to be on the trail miles from anywhere when it hit. I decided to just walk the 'hood. I popped in my earbuds and took off. (Have I mentioned how much I love The Hunger Games soundtrack?) I felt so good that when I got back to our house I just kept on going. I think it must be the first time I got an endorphin rush from walking - and I still feel it. I kept a pretty good pace, and with the hills in our neighborhood (check the elevation changes) I got a great workout. As my sister, Jeanie, said, "Walking ROCKS!"


so pretty

I made a smoothie when I got home: 1/2 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup plain, non-fat Chobani, 1/2 cup frozen mango pieces, and 1/4 scoop protein powder. I always try to get some protein in me within 30 minutes of working out. My friend Jan wants to know if ice cream counts.

Lunch was a roast beef and spinach salad on a sandwich thin. I used horseradish hummus instead of any mayo or mustard. I sliced a honey crisp apple and had some of my new favorite "chips". You know how I love the Special K cracker crisps? Well, these are BETTER, while having relatively the same nutritional stats. (Thank you, Jeanette!)

Tonight's dinner is steak fajitas, courtesy of my friend, Adie. I was all set to make it last night until, at 5:30, I saw that the meat had to marinate. We had this instead:

I actually wasn't very hungry since I had a pretty filling lunch: chicken lasagna, garlic bread, a chocolate chip cookie, and copious amounts of iced tea. Amy and I were at a luncheon following a Town Hall lecture by Laura Ling. What an amazing woman - I feel like a big ole safe, take-no-risks slug.

not quite sure what the sauce is...

But back to our fajitas. Yum! We had some refried black beans on the side. Since there were only 20 calories difference between these and the no-fat pinto beans, I opted for the black beans. I topped mine with some salsa, while Dwight added cheese to his.

I should warn you about tomorrow's post. Caitlin, who writes Healthy Tipping Point (I love her tag line: "When everyday decisions add up to something amazing"). Anyway, two months ago she started the Naked Face Project, which concludes today. I'll tell you more about the project tomorrow, but she challenged women to post pictures of themselves without any makeup. Be afraid.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Go big or go home

First of all, The Hunger Games was everything I had hoped it would be, with fully realized characters and a well-developed story line. I cried at the same place in the movie where I did in the book. Taylor Swift's song during the credits was a lovely counterpoint to such a disturbing plot.

I've always been a fan of post apocalyptic, futuristic literature: The Road; Alas, Babylon; The Handmaid's Tale; The Devil's Advocate; Brave New World; 1984; The Giver. Well, you get the idea. We were sitting waiting for the show to start and talking about how in these futuristic stories they never have unicorns and rainbows and kittens. Instead, we get The Terminator.

After the movie we decided to go to an Omaha landmark restaurant, Petrow's. You'd think that after living here for twenty three years we'd have tried it at least once; now we can say we have.

I knew it was basically a glorified diner, so I planned accordingly and knew there would be little of the healthy variety on the menu. What I knew, but had forgotten, was that they have an old-fashioned soda counter. So guess what I had for an appetizer?

I love chocolate malts and it has been ages since I've had one. It was fabulous! I did scoop (most of) the whipped cream off and plopped it into the silver cup with the remainder of my malt for Dwight. I won't have one again soon, but I sure did savor this one!

And dinner?

Yup, a reuben (nerd fact: invented in Omaha) and steak fries. As my physical therapist told me when she found out that following a bike crash I had torn not one, not two, not three, but all four rotator cuff tendons off the bone, "Go big or go home." I went for it tonight.

I wasn't the only one:

Dwight said it was just like the hot roast beef sandwiches he remembered as a kid. I told him I didn't even know what one was when I was a kid. He said it wasn't like he had one all the time, just when they went out to eat. Restaurants? What were those? I think he was one of those rich kids.

I did leave this; Dwight will have a tasty lunch tomorrow. Me? I'll just dream about that malt.

It's clean sheets night tonight, so I'm going to crawl in early with my book, Clash of Kings, the sequel to Game of Thrones. Time for more escapism.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Vampires beware!

I made a pretty tasty dinner last night - and it took hardly any prep time. It's from Real Simple, and it is! It's Garlicky Baked Shrimp, and in addition to being real simple, it IS garlicky. It may be due to the fact that I added five cloves instead of four; I figured as long as we were both eating it, it wouldn't really matter. But there was no danger of being attacked by vampires last night.

It's SO EASY: preheat your oven to 425. In a baking dish, combine 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, 4 (or 5!) thinly sliced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons white wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup softened butter (I pretty much melted it), 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup panko. (I love panko for breading. I think it's lighter and crispier than regular bread crumbs.

Who cares what I think of panko? On with the recipe!

Sprinkle this mixture over the shrimp and bake 15-18 minutes until shrimp is done. (They were done after 15 minutes in my oven.)

panko mixture added before being baked

15 minutes later...

Doesn't that look good?! Now the dilemma: serve over rice or linguine? I opted for brown rice, figuring it would better soak up the buttery deliciousness. And it did.

GREAT invention. Wouldn't have worked so well when the kids were all home, but it's great for the two of us

I found this package of naan in the freezer with only one piece left. It was perfect with the shrimp and a salad. To be honest, I got tired of chewing before my plate was empty.

(Note: the baked shrimp recipe serves four, and the nutritional info is as follows: 242 calories, 8 g fat, 5 g carbs, and 24 g protein.)

I love breakfast so much that I think about it before I go to sleep at night (really). I must have been tired last night, because I didn't give it much thought, so went with my standard breakfast of a peanut butter bagel thin and fresh berries. And coffee.

After a morning at the museum, I came home and made myself a little lunch of leftover shrimp served cold on top of romaine. I added some blueberries and a few sprinkles of my favorite balsamic vinegar, and finished off the meal with a toasted sandwich thin sprayed with butter spray. And I do love the Synergy.

I'm pretty excited - Dwight is taking me to The Hunger Games this afternoon and then out for dinner. And I didn't even have to send him this:

Kids, you DO know you weren't conceived through immaculate conception, don't you?

Seriously, though I am SO EXCITED!!! Emily forced me to start the series over Christmas of 2010. I started reading and could not put the books down - finished them all in three-and-a-half days. I found myself staying up late and getting up early to read. It helped that I had some bug that made anything more than lying on the couch darn near impossible.

I can't wait to see how the characters and the story are brought to life. I bought the soundtrack yesterday after hearing the Taylor Swift / Civil Wars lullaby, and the whole album (dating myself) is fabulous. (Note: Taylor Swift may be tied with Kelly Clarkson as my guilty pleasure.)

Don't worry, I'll tell you how I liked it. But now, it's time to go slap on some lipstick for a movie and dinner date with my husband!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Busy weekend

It never fails. Early on every spring, after I've been outside for a bit gardening, golfing, cycling, or just being in the fresh air, I am always amazed at what great shape I was in at the END of the previous summer, based on how sore I am in the spring. It happened again this weekend. We golfed 9 holes on Friday evening, and I was limping (in my mind, if not actually) by the end. My left hand hurt since the callous has not yet formed on the pad of my palm, and my butt hurt from climbing the hills (I hate you, hole 4. And hole 16 - but I didn't play that till Sunday).

This is our signature hole (#2), NOT taken from our signature photo spot. But isn't it pretty? Made bogey.

But we did have a nice dinner and cocktails on the patio at Oak Hills with Steve and Debbie. I opted for the Greek chicken sandwich, which was basically a grilled chicken breast with veggies on a kaiser roll. The cook must have forgotten the feta, but it was still good. I also chose fruit as my side even though I wanted fries. I guess I wanted the gin and tonic(s) more!

And then on Saturday, after going shopping for new (smaller!) golf shorts, I spent over an hour working in the gardens. I fell asleep on the couch in the late afternoon, and EVERYTHING hurt when I got up to answer the phone! Not only did I FEEL like an old lady, but I SOUNDED like one.

I tried a new recipe for Saturday dinner: Green Gobbler Lasagna from the Abs Diet cookbook. It took almost no time to throw together (maybe 15 minutes), unlike real lasagna. And also unlike real lasagna, it is way healthy. It was really very good, and I'll be making it again. The only change I made in the recipe was to use half ricotta and half cottage cheese instead of all ricotta.




We played 18 holes on Sunday. I still can't believe that it's March, I have been wearing shorts for at least a week, and I played in golf sandals yesterday. And, oh yes, forgot the sunscreen. Not only are my arms burned, but my shoulders, forearms, and hands hurt so bad all night that I kept waking up. Guess I know which muscles I use when golfing! Or else it's the death grip I had on the club...

I had a banana split smoothie again for breakfast. It may be that the Florida Orange Growers Association have me fooled, but I think it tastes like sunshine!

Lunch was a roast beef and spinach wrap with some horseradish hummus and carrots.

I found this on Pinterest; thought it might be fun to change things up a bit. Some old school calisthenics never hurt anyone, right?


Friday, March 23, 2012

Dream a little dream

So last night, I was having trouble sleeping - if there are any middle-aged women reading this, you know this is not an uncommon experience. As I was lying there, I started writing a blog post in my head and it was REALLY GOOD. It was articulate and funny; I was seriously cracking myself up. And then I fell asleep. And couldn't remember a word of it when I woke up, not even the theme. So you get this post instead.

But first, a photo of the gecko that Emily brought me from Florida (last year? year before?) Anyway, he is on our fence out by the raspberry garden and is just so happy. Kinda like the weather lately!

But enough of cute yard art. Back to reality. THIS happened this past weekend, and you know what that means:

You are correct! Tuesday's breakfast was Fluffy oats in a jar, courtesy of Carrots-n-Cake. It is still as filling as I remember it to be, so don't be making it if you know you'll be having an early lunch!

Lunch was just some leftover corned beef brisket, an apple, and some nuts. I usually buy Gala apples or sometimes Pink Lady, but I bought Jazz this time. They were really good - crisp and tart. I can't believe that growing up, all we had were Red Delicious. I barely even LIKE them anymore!

Dinner was a big salad: romaine, spinach, grape tomatoes, craisins, pepitas, feta cheese, and a hard-boiled egg tossed with the salad dressing from Katie's. Nothing fancy, but filling enough.

We had a LivingSocial coupon to use, so on Wednesday we went to Baja Grill with some friends. I had the fish tacos, which is what I have EVERY time I've been there. But they're good! And speaking of good: they put a shot of beer in their house margaritas. Sounds weird, I know, but it cuts the sweetness.

Why yes, that IS a 22-ounce margarita!

I found a new kind of chicken sausage at Trader Joe's yesterday:

It has more calories than the Archer Farms ones at Super Target, but it was pretty tasty. That and a large carrot were lunch. I would post a picture, but it was entirely too phallic. Use your imagination.

Yesterday's dinner was something that my friend pinned on Pinterest and I just happened to have ALL the ingredients for it. It's from Martha Stewart, and is Couscous salad with black beans, mushrooms, and corn. I think it's really pretty, too. And it made a delicious lunch today, along with six peanut M&Ms. (Did you know that each one has TEN calories?!)

We're golfing a quick nine holes at 4:30 this afternoon; it will be my first time on the course since my knee scope at the end of last August. It's a good thing we're warming up with nine, as I have a REAL (translation: 18-hole) tee time on Sunday. I cleaned all the crap out of my golf bag the other day and am ready to go.

I have the sneaking suspicion that I may be using my hot stone massage Valentine's Day present from Dwight early next week. As good a shape as I think I'm in, swinging that club - especially as many times as I have to - uses way different muscles. And not to mention walking as far as I have to to reach my ball. It's rarely straight ahead!

I know there will be cocktails and dinner on the patio after golf, though, which will be a nice reward. FYI: I figured out the calorie expenditure for walking nine, pulling my clubs, and assuming we'll play in an hour and forty five minutes. It's a whopping 550!!! The gin and tonic will take care of part of that.

Happy weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sports nutrition

This really should be titled Cycling Nutrition. Or rather, How To Not Bonk. Let's face it, I really don't do anything else long enough to worry about calorie consumption. I walk a fair amount, but if I drink some water and have a snack beforehand, I'm good. And while I'd love to say that I'm a runner, the most I will ever do is a 5K, and a good part of that is walking right now. And yes, I'm a golfer, which involves walking for four hours and about five miles, but if I get hungry, there are always the snack shacks or the clubhouse at the turn. Not to mention the nuts and granola bars I have in my bag.

That leaves cycling. I can be on my bike for several hours, and burn a tremendous amount of calories. And it's not like golf, where, if I get tired of walking, I can get a cart. When I'm on my bike, I need to get back home ON MY BIKE and under my own power.

There is one incident that burned this into my memory: two years ago, my friend Marcy and I went on 34-mile road ride, from Valley to Fremont and back. We've done that route several times with no problem. That particular time, I was seriously dieting (HATE that word), so had consumed very few calories that day. In addition, when we stopped in Fremont for a snack, I had DIET COKE ONLY. We were about ten miles outside of Valley on the return trip, and I hit the wall. In cycling terms, it's called bonking, which happens when all your glycogen stores are depleted. Neither of us had any snacks in our bike bags, and only water in our bottles. Those ten miles were the longest of my life; I needed to stop about every mile or so and rest. Poor Marcy.

As soon as we got to where we parked our cars, which was luckily at a convenience store (the cyclist's best friend), I bought a salted nut roll and Gatorade. I sat for a few minutes and ate, and felt better pretty quickly.

When I was telling Alex of my ordeal, he scolded me for not having Gatorade in my water bottles when I knew I'd be on the road for several hours.

(True family story: when Erin was about 7 or 8, she was competing in the Junior Golf tournament at our club. Our friend, who was scoring for Erin's group, noticed the beads of sweat on her upper lip. Erin said, in all seriousness, "Both my parents are big sweaters." And we are.)

Ever since then, I never NOT have Gatorade if I know I'll be gone for longer than an hour, or if it's extra hot. I usually fill one bottle completely with Gatorade, and the other is about half-and-half with water. I drink the full bottle first, because at the end when I'm really sweaty (have I mentioned that I'm a big sweater?!) and hot, full-strength Gatorade is just too sweet.

I've gotten smarter about nutrition, too. Pre-ride, I make sure I have some carbs and protein in me. I've found that a PBJ and a banana or applesauce are good. And then about every 30-45 minutes, I make sure I eat something. My favorites are GU (for while I'm riding because it's easiest to eat), Honey Stinger Waffles because they're delicious, and Clif Shot Blocks because they taste like gummy bears. All have enough calories to keep me going. I stuff a few of these in my jersey pockets, and my bike bag is never without some GU for emergencies.

(And you know what's not good for a pre-ride snack? Cake. Last Easter, our friends dropped off some delicious bunny cake. I had a big piece before I went on a ride, thinking I'd burn off the calories. I'm sure I did, but my stomach hurt and I had to poop the entire ride! No more cake for me!)

But the most important thing is to stay hydrated. Keep 'em full.

And take advantage of your stops at the convenience stores. I know you're going to use the restrooms, but you need to buy something too. Fig Newtons are a personal favorite.

So my big dilemma this year is to balance my caloric intake with my desire to lose a few more pounds. My Fitness Pal has the weight loss calculated into your daily calories (mine are at 1200), and adds in calorie expenditure for your daily net. So theoretically, I should still lose when I eat the calories I'm expending. I worry that the program gives me too many calories for what I'm doing. Because seriously - I've been cycling for several years and am still not where I want to be. Maybe now because I am tracking EVERYTHING, I'll have better luck. I guess time will tell.

Okay, onto the food front. I did try a few new recipes. The first is from Iowa Girl Eats and was personally recommended by Erin. It's Thai Turkey Burgers with Peanut Sauce, and I will be making it again! I rate all the recipes I make, and this got four stars. Out of four. I do not eat leftover burgers, but I sure did this one. And I was looking forward to it!

Another new recipe I tried for dinner one night was adapted from Carrots-n-Cake's Israeli Couscous with Chickpeas, Brussels Sprouts, and Asparagus. Only I did not have Israeli couscous, but I DID have quinoa. It was delicious this way - and fewer calories. I just substituted 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, prepared according to package directions, for the couscous. (Nutrition data using quinoa, recipe making four servings: 360 calories, 13.0 g fat, 47.8 g carbs, 18.1 g protein.) This was a great dinner with some carrot sticks, and it made a great lunch today with an apple. It's a good light summer meal.

Summer? I KNOW! It's only March! But we've been having such warm weather lately that when our next-door-neighbors came over for some patio drinking on Friday night, we knew it was time to break out our favorite summer drink:


This came about many years ago when I had several girlfriends over for dinner and drinks. Late into the evening, we were running out of options for beverages, when Amy said "How about pear vodka and lemonade?" That woman is a genius!

And if that gets too sweet for you, there is always the Jonathan, introduced to us by Alex and Aly's friend. It was actually why we had the pear vodka in the first place.

The Jonathan

Even though we went to a St. Patrick's Day party, I felt bereft without making some corned beef. It is surprisingly not horrible in the calorie department - 200 calories for four ounces (there are six ounces on this plate.) But am I ever THIRSTY!!

Happy belated St. Patrick's Day to you! I don't know how this old lady hand got attached to my fingernails.