December 26, 2010

Christmas party photo

As promised, a photo in my new party dress, taken 12/23/10.

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 15, 2010

10 Month Report

Today it has been 10 months since my surgery, and I continue to be really happy with my VSG. I had a very long stall, but still lost 6 pounds for the month and am very satisfied with that. I can now wear the size 12 jeans that I bought, as long as I don't need to actually breathe or bend or sit down whilst I wear them. But soon they will be MINE!

Month to month, I don't see a lot of changes anymore, and am starting to think about what it might be like to be working on maintaining a steady weight. I still have 15-20 pounds that I would like to lose before working on maintaining, but we'll see what my body has in mind before worrying about it!

Wanted to give a shout out to my friend Liz in Vancouver who has lost 50 pounds and celebrated with a donation to the food bank. Her picture is below ... well done Liz!!!


And here is a picture of me taken this morning ... looking forward to X-Mas this year - have a new (little!) black dress to wear to our friend's party - pictures will appear here soon!

December 12, 2010

Props to Eggface!

A head's up to all of my caffeine craving and protein pushing WLS friends ...

Shelly over at theworldaccordingtoeggface.com is having a fabulous Click giveaway for X-Mas - one week left to enter at http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com/2010/12/merry-clickmas-giveaway.html

As for me, I will be checking out her recipe for chocolate protein truffles!

December 4, 2010

For my surgery peeps: Stalls and Tips & Tricks

Recently I posted on OH about how I deal with stalls - and I have them often, the most recent for 3 freaking weeks. Perhaps my thoughts on how to manage stalls without going completely crazy will be useful to some of my readers:

I stall alot and I know how frustrating it is! My method of coping includes the following:

1) I weigh every day, but during this phase of weight loss, I don't record my little water weight gains on my spreadsheet - I just note whenever the scale has dropped by a pound. (As I approach maintenance, or if I see that I am actually maintaining any weight gains, I will change my approach.) I don't bother measuring fractions of a pound, though my scale shows them - just mark it off every time I lose a pound. Since I track this in Excel, I can see that my rate of loss has been pretty steady, even with all of the stalls that I have had.

2) Since pre-op, I have tracked my measurements on a spreadsheet and I note every month how many inches I lost that month as well as cumulatively - I almost always am losing some inches even when stalling. (And technically, it's not really a stall if I am losing inches - a stall is no weight loss and no size decrease for a month or more. That hasn't yet happened to me.)

3) I have taken monthly photos in my skivvies - front, rear and side views. I have compiled these into a word document showing the progression in each view from pre-op to the present. I refer to this when I start to think that I might not be successful - because actually I can see in the photos that I already AM successful.

4) Every month I revisit the goals that I set for myself pre-op and add new goals and check off the ones that I have achieved. NONE of these is a number on a scale and the only size goal I had was to be able to wear normal size clothing in a size 14 or less. The rest of the goals have to do with either:

HEALTH  (i.e. normal blood pressure without meds, normal blood sugar, no more sleep apnea, nor more stress incontinence, no more arthritis pain in knees, etc)

LIFESTYLE (i.e. making good food choices 90% of the time, being physically active, taking my supplements, drinking my water)

APPEARANCE - because I am vain! (i.e. looking good in a sweater dress, wearing skinny jeans with boots, having just one chin, rediscovering my collarbone and cheekbones, enjoying being curvy and proportionate)

or

ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN AND ENJOY LIFE (i.e. can go canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, swimming with my daughter and family, no longer struggle to walk up stairs or hills, can paint my own toenails, wrap a bath towel all around, walk the mall in heels without pain, enjoy exercise, cross my legs comfortably etc...)

I remind myself that I had this surgery not to achieve some abstract number on a scale, but to achieve all of the functional goals I have listed above. This helps me to not get too depressed when I stall - though honestly I, like most of the rest of us, ALWAYS wonder if "this is it"  and if I am done losing weight.

For me at almost 9 months out and within 20 lbs of my goal, I am realizing that I actually could be content at my current weight, even if I don't ever lose another pound. It was harder earlier when I was further from my goal.


P.S. A couple observations I have made that might be useful to new VSGers:

I have looked at my food tracking etc during stalls - and I can't see a single time where what I have been eating (I do eat about the same all the time, with occasional treats) has made a bit of difference in terms of when I stall and when the stall ends (my recent 3 week stall ended the day after I ate 5-6 Christmas cookies - go figure!) Just follow your plan in terms of protein, liquids, carbs, calories and your body will lose weight - the rate at which you lose is very individual, but unless you have a severely compromised metabolism, it is near impossible to gain at 800-1000 calories / day. (And in the early months I often didn't even reach 800 calories a day.)

The fabulous losses you see in your first couple months - where the scale is moving every day or two - will not continue! We get a bit addicted to that positive feedback and get depressed when we lose just a couple pounds a week. The scale is a cruel mistress! Step away if it is making you too depressed or obsessive!

A couple of pounds a week is a LOT! I lose on average 6-8 pounds a month and this has seemed SOOOO SLOOOOW at times. It all adds up though and at almost 10 months out I am down 101 pounds. I just purchased 100 pounds of food for the Food Bank and that is a helluva lotta weight!

Everybody has different strategies for staying on track in terms of their eating plan. Lots of folks abstain entirely from anything that isn't a protein or a veg. This didn't really appeal to me, so for me I have five rules:

1) Protein first - I can have anything to eat that I want, IF I eat at least 2 ounces of solid protein first. This usually helps me either not feel like eating the treat, or limits the amount of it that I CAN eat.

2) Prioritize liquids. I find that if I get dehydrated I often feel hungry instead of thirsty. So I mix up my drinks at the beginning of each day and pack them with me when I leave the house, then make sure one is always to hand so that I am drinking all day long.

3) The 90/10 rule: 90% of what I eat is according to my plan - the other 10% can be whatever I want. (I relax this a bit when I am pms-ing and during the holidays! - maybe 80/20 )

4) Plan meals and pack lunches. I write out the dinner menus and my plan for breakfasts and lunches before I shop every week. I find that if the path of least resistance is something healthy (i.e. I have already made up a batch of chicken salad that is sitting in the fridge) then I am likely to make healthy choices. I make sure to buy cheese sticks, sliced turkey etc so that I can throw together fast and easy lunches etc. - If I have to go out for lunch I often end up choosing something less healthy, so it is better for me to plan ahead and pack leftovers or chicken salad or something else in advance. I also keep almonds, cans of tuna salad and protein in my desk. Finally, I keep a few legal treats in the house - my homemade protein balls, eggface's protein donuts etc. so that I can have a cookie-ish or cake-like item pretty much guilt-free.)

5) Keep trigger foods out of the house. I am way too lazy to go out to the store if I am having a craving, but if the object of my desire is sitting on the kitchen counter -well all bets are off! (HELLO Christmas cookies!)

Here is what 100 pounds looks like!

This week I purchased 100 pounds of food (protein items like canned tuna, chicken, salmon, peanut butter, beef chili etc) for the food bank, to honor having lost 100 pounds from my high weight. Here is what 100 pounds of food looks like:

It is really hard to imagine carrying all of that weight around with me every single day of my life - no wonder I feel so much better!

This week also was the start of Hanukah - and I really wanted to make some potato latkes, as I usually do - but I also didn't want to eat greasy potato stomach bombs. The solution I came up with? Cauliflower latkes!

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes
3 eggs
1/2 onion, chopped finely
Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in microwave safe dish with 1/4 c of water - cover and microwave on high for 7 minutes, or until tender

Add the chopped onion to the bowl with the cauliflower and mash roughly - leave some chunks, you don't want it too smooth.


Let cool a bit then add the 3 eggs, beaten and salt and pepper


Heat some peanut oil in a saute or fry pan over medium high heat and fry 1/4 cup scoops of the mix, flattening slightly after you dump them into the pan.. Cook until well browned, flip, cook the other side until browned, then remove to a plate covered with several layers of paper towels.



Keep warm in 150 degree oven while you finish frying the remainder of the batter.

Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

I don't know the total carb count for these, but the potatoes are the carbiest part of the recipe and 1/4 cup has a total of 19 carbs. I served this with pot roast and could only eat 2 pancakes (recipe made 16), so I wasn't too worried about overindulging in carbohydrates!


For dessert, since my new nonstick donut pan arrived in the mail this week, I made a batch of protein donuts, (recipe from theworldaccordingtoeggface.com) , and they actually are very delicious and useful to have in the freezer for a quick and legal treat when the Christmas Cookies start calling my name...





 

November 11, 2010

100 pounds lost!

Well, today is the day that I stepped on my scale to discover that I now weigh 100 pounds less than my highest weight! I haven't reached my goal, and I still have a poufy tummy, some back flab, wobbly upper arms, a saggy butt, and upper thigh skin that I can fold, but I have achieved every single one of the functional goals that I set for myself when I decided to have WLS.


I am off of all blood pressure medications.
I no longer have sleep apnea.
I no longer experience stress incontinence.
I have no more arthritis paiin.
I can shop in regular-size clothing stores.
My blood sugars are normal.
My cholesterol and triglycerides are low.
I enjoy physical activity.
I eat a healthy diet and enjoy occasional treats.
I can wear high heels without debilitating pain!
I can canoe, kayak and horseback ride.
No more seatbelt extenders on planes!
I look GOOD in a pair of jeans and a simple white shirt with a belt.
The bath towel fits ALL the way around with room to tuck in.
I can paint my own toenails without huffing and puffing.
I have collar bones, and hip bones, and cheek bones, and ribs!
I can ROCK a pencil skirt with fishnet stockings and heels.

I AM SO GRATEFUL AND THANKFUL!!!

I usually recognize my milestones with little gifts to myself, this time though, I have decided to donate $100.00 and 100 pounds of high quality protein food (Peanut Butter, Tuna, Beans, etc) to my local food bank. Would anyone like to join me in this campaign during the holiday season? All of us have lots to be thankful for  - I think it would be fantastic if, to the extent each of us is able, we celebrated this with a gift of nutritious food to our communities, particularly in this period of recession and hard times for so many people.

Who wants to donate food or funds equal to the number of pounds they have lost, or equal to their weight loss goal,  (or for the non-WLS folks who follow this blog, some other symbolic number)???

To make it fun, I will be taking a photo of myself next to the 100 pounds of food that I purchase to donate and will post this on here as well as on other forums in which I participate. I am actually curious about what 100 pounds of food will look like!

Anyone wanna join me? I would love to collate stats on how much we collectively donate - if anyone wants to send me their donation intent, I will compile the figures and post regular updates. (Of course, I wouldn't post anybody's name / personal info!)

November 1, 2010

A few nice results courtesy of my WLS....

1) I went to the mall today in high heeled boots and walked all over with no pain or discomfort AT ALL (I have been wearing "sensible" shoes for years due to the pain caused by excess weight).

2) I fit into some size 10 shoes today (Down from an 11). I was starting to wonder if my shoe size ever would actually go down, as I have heard from others is often the case ... it's a big deal because lots of Canadian retailers don't even carry an 11, and those that do, usually run out quick.

3) I bought a pair of 4 inch heels (in size 10!) and can actually walk in them - I have never worn such a high heel, ever. Can't say that I am likely to take them out for a day at the mall, but how fun to wear something that makes me 6 feet tall! (Hey, if I were 6 feet, I'd probably be at a normal BMI!)

4) I had a doctor visit with a new specialist today, unrelated to my WLS, and the med student who took my medical history was surprised that I still felt that I needed to lose 20-25 pounds. She actually said she was shocked and that she thought I looked great right now. Believe me, I have never, in my entire adult life, had a medical professional think that my weight was absolutely ok!!!

October 25, 2010

By Request: Protein Ball Recipe

I make these up every few weeks and keep them in a ziploc bag in the freezer - then just pack a couple when I am going to be out and about. Have NO idea about the calorie / carb / protein counts. I use these as a bit of a treat - they satisfy the urge for a cookie / candy bar other sweet snack, while still being made of "legal" (for me, anyway) food items.

1 cup peanut butter - your choice: smooth or crunchy, natural or Skippy (Jif, whatever)
1 1/2 cups protein powder of your choice - I use Champion Double Stack Chocolate
1 cup of oats
Small handful of raisins or chopped dried apricots (optional)
1/2 cup - 1 cup of soy crisps (optional - I get these from Vitalady in chocolate flavor)
Sweetener to taste
Optional - some sf syrup in flavor of choice, such as vanilla, caramel, whatever
You could also add some chopped nuts or unsweetened dried coconut

Mix the whole gloopy mess together, add some water, a few drops at a time if it is too dry.

Roll into walnut-shaped balls. Freeze.

I think these are pretty yummy and they are a lifesaver when I am out and about, hungry, and all that I can see around me is fast food....

October 24, 2010

How I eat at 8 months out...

I was asked if I have a structured eating plan - sort of, in terms of what types of food I eat, but not so much in terms of the specifics.

Here is a typical day:

First thing: My husband usually leaves me some fresh brewed coffee in the insulated French Press, so I mix it with some chocolate protein powder (27g protein) and a bit of milk or cream for a protein coffee.

Breakfast: Either some leftovers from dinner, some sashimi tuna with soy sauce and wasabi, or some pumpkin, egg, ricotta and flax "hot cereal" (Here is a link to this very delicious and filling recipe - taste and texture remind me a lot of cream of wheat - but it's low carb and high protein -better for me!) By the way - the about.com website has LOTS of great recipes!

I take my morning supplements and a Nexium tablet sometime around breakfast.

Morning Snack: Don't always have one, but often have a protein drink. (Always have a protein drink if I work out) Also try to get in an additional 16 - 20 ounces of liquid, usually SF ice tea, before lunch.

Lunch: Usually leftovers from dinner, or some tuna, chicken, salmon, or turkey salad, or some other protein + leftover veg. If I eat out I'll usually have some chicken  I take mid-day supplements with my lunch.

Snack: Maybe some protein balls, or cheese, or a few rice crisps, or beef jerky. Another 16 - 20 ounces of liquid

Dinner: I almost aways cook a protein and two types of veg. Sometimes I make polenta or quinoa or a lower carb starch in place of one of the vegetables. Dinner time supplements.

Snack: Don't usually have one, but might make some protein ice cream, have some beef jerky, or a protein ball, or maybe a spoonful of peanut butter or some almonds. Maybe some more fluids, depending on how my intake has been during the day. Sometimes I like some apple with peanut butter or dark chocolate (one or two squares) with peanut butter.

Bedtime: This is when I take my iron / Vitamin C capsules

I don't count calories these days, although I will begin doing this again as I approach goal so that I can fine tune my maintenance. I'll also start counting if my weight loss slows down to a point that disturbs me . Mainly I concentrate on getting in enough protein and limiting carbs, particularly carbs from starches and sugars.

Here is my current supplement regime:

AM
Nexium 20 mg
Multivitamin
500 mg calcium citrate w/ D and magnesium
B12 sublingual
Vitamin D3 sublingual
B complex tablet
Benefibre tablet

Midday
500 mg calcium citrate w/ D and magnesium
Benefibre Tablet
Colace
Omega 3 supplement

Dinner 
500 mg calcium citrate w/ D and magnesium
Benefibre Tablet
Tumeric
Cinnamon
B12 sublingual

Bedtime
Carbonyl Iron with Vitamin C

October 21, 2010

A couple new photos

OK - these are a little bit blurry - camera problems continue - but I picked up a couple of new dresses today while doing the grocery run and thought I'd show off a bit...


Yeah, I'm kind of into this style of dress, now that I can actually wear it!

8 months, down 95 pounds!

I don't have a lot of photos this month, since my camera has been acting up - looks like I am going to have to replace it - which is kind of an expensive bummer.

I hit the 8 month mark on the 15th with a total for the month of 8 pounds lost last month and have since lost a few more pounds, bringing me to a total of 95 pounds lost. This means that I am less than 30 pounds from my personal goal, less than 25 from my surgeon's goal and 5 pounds from a 100 pound loss! Pretty exciting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

This photo was taken this morning in a new blue wrap-style sweater dress. I personally still marvel at being ABLE to wear a sweater dress without feeling self conscious about all of my bulges and folds. (I am neither brave nor sleek enough, however, to wear it without the assistance of my trusty "Assets" shapewear from Target!)

I'm now fully into the size 14 range, and while I was in the states last weekend I bought a pair of size 12 Levis as interim "goal jeans". When I got home from my trip and tried them on, they actually almost fit already - fit fine in the bum and thighs, still too snug in the waist.

I find that smaller changes in weight show up more in size changes now that my overall weight is reduced - I also find that my bum and thighs are looking a lot more wrinkly and saggy and that my stomach is starting to resemble a balloon that has been inflated for a long time, and is now deflating - you know, where it kind of deflates on one side, but not so much on the other, and there are lots of wrinkles and dimples? - that's me!

I still feel like an impostor if I wander into a normal-size clothing shop, like Gap, or Limited or whatever. (I half expect bells and sirens and a stern directive from a scary size "0" twenty-something - ordering me out of the shop and back to the plus-size store immediately!) I usually pride myself on self confidence, but will confess here that I haven't worked up the courage yet to do anything but browse - too chicken to approach a salesperson and actually try on any of the clothing. So, to date, my shopping has taken place at Old Navy, Value Village, Target, Department stores etc, where the customer service is non-existent and nobody knows what sizes I am hauling into the changing room. So, I guess my brain hasn't really caught up yet with the changes in my body.

In terms of health, I am still feeling really fantastic with plenty of energy. I still marvel every time I walk up the hill to my house and it takes no effort whatsoever - I still find that I dread doing it, as it felt difficult for most of the time we lived here - and I am surprised every single time to find that it's an easy and enjoyable walk.

I still find that I have a LOT of restriction when it comes to how much I can eat, but that it is inconsistent. For example, most of the time I can eat just 3 or 4 bites of protein and perhaps some veg. (Last night I had two scallops and a bit of cauliflower "rice" cooked stir-fry style.) Once in a while I can eat more ... last week I ate about 2/3 of a 6 inch sub on whole wheat from Subway - way more than is typical for me. For the most part though, I eat my protein, plus a bit of whatever on the side, have usually 2 protein shakes a day, and a couple snacks of items like my homemade protein balls, some soy crisps, some cheese, beef or buffalo jerky, nuts, etc. Sometimes I have a bit of dark chocolate or some apple and peanut butter for dessert.

For the most part I don't crave sugary stuff and don't find that I miss bread or pasta all that much... and can limit myself to a bite or two if I decide to indulge. I am a sucker though for crispy salty stuff - like barbecue flavored brown rice crisps for example - mostly I try to keep them out of the house, but I do buy some occasionally and just portion out the amount that fits into my plan for the day, rather than just eating them by handfuls straight out of the bag. It seems to be working so far, so I'll continue to enjoy my treats!

October 13, 2010

Yikes! Long Time No Post!

But, I have an excuse! My part-time teaching position and other work have been keeping me really busy! Also my camera has been acting up (it has just not been the same since I dropped it in the sand on the Oregon coast last summer) so I don't have a ton of recipe photos.

I am still so grateful to have had this surgery. I'll hit 8 months out in a couple of days, and as of this morning I am down 92 pounds. In my last post I was hoping to hit a size 14, and in the few weeks since then, I have managed to do this - the size 14 Levi 525s, which I could not wear 2 weeks ago - are now very wearable and even comfortable! Last night I was wearing my size 16 jeans and they were falling off of my backside. (Granted these are Old Navy jeans, which run a bit big - but as far as I am concerned I wear size 14 jeans and skirts now - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

Here are a couple photos taken earlier this month:




It is really insane how dependent I am sometimes on the progress I see on the scale in terms of whether I am feeling successful with this whole process of losing weight. I've just been through a long period of minimal weight loss. When I look at the overall pattern (see chart below), my loss has been consistent, but when I am in the midst of 10 or 14 days of no losses, or ups and downs every day resulting in no net loss, I feel mildly depressed and discouraged. It is silly - I KNOW better, and I also know that for some reason I tend to lose inches when I am not loosing pounds. In any case, I'm down 7 pounds so far this month, about average for me, with a couple days to go - so that is pretty respectable.

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart


Now, how about some food? One of the things I like to cook and eat, and have available for a quick protein fix, is roasted chicken - I am very picky about chicken - it has to be cooked so that it is still very moist and I prefer to buy organic and free-range from my neighborhood butcher - for animal welfare reasons, to support local business and local farmers, to avoid antibiotics and other nasties in my food, and because it tastes so much better. This month I stuffed the breast (under the skin) with some butter and a few sage leaves - delicious, and it looks kind of pretty with the leaves showing through the skin:

Served this with some mixed roasted veg (Mushrooms, beets, carrots and potatoes - roast the beets separately and mix together at the end to avoid a purple platter of veg!)



Don't throw away the carcass when you are finished with the chicken! Dump it in a stock pot with some onion, carrot and celery, plus a few peppercorns and a sprig or two of parsley if you have some on hand. Add cold water to cover all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a couple of hours. Strain into another container, cool to room temp, then chuck it in the fridge. Once it is chilled, remove the layer of fat on top, return to the stove and reduce by about half. Cool and then freeze (if you have no plans to use it soon) or refrigerate. This makes a lovely, concentrated chicken stock. I used it to make some quinoa and butternut squash "risotto" with sage and Parmesan - and it was totally delicious. Also great for soup!


I also enjoy making a large batch of bolognese sauce. Although I do use Dreamfield's pasta - which is supposed to have a low-carb impact on my system, this time the family had pasta and I had my sauce on top of some roasted eggplant. For a side dish, I sauteed some Kale and Chard with garlic, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end, plus salt and pepper - Yum! Tonight we will have the leftover sauce, and I am having mine on top of some ricotta cheese, and topping the whole gooey mess with some Parmesan and mozzarella. (Looking forward to it too!)





Finally, as readers of this blog have probably discovered, we eat a lot of salmon in this household. Recently, the Fraser River here in BC had the biggest run of sockeye salmon in over 100 years. Sockeye is delicious and it was cheap and plentiful. Here is just one of the meals we enjoyed: Roasted sockeye salmon, quinoa, and a salad made with mixed greens and herbs, chopped snow peas, red bell peppers, and steamed /chilled edamame - served with a sesame dressing.

September 19, 2010

Yummy Yummy Pancakes

I apologize for the lack of photos today, but I forgot to charge my camera - in any case these look like pancakes - so no big surprises!

I adapted a pancake recipe from the Joy of Cooking and it was my best attempt at lower-carb pancakes so far - the family loved them, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference betwen these and regular pancakes. They are very filling for me - I ate one pancake and a half slice of bacon and was pretty full - but even if I had been able to eat three, I think the stats would be ok (Haven't done a nutritional analysis, so caveat emptor)

Multigrain Protein Pancakes (Yields 18 medium pancakes - about 6 regular person servings, 9-18 WLS person servings)

Ingredients
1/3 cup Stone-Ground whole wheat flour
1/3 cup Soy flour
1/3 cup corn meal
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
Sugar Free equivalent of 2 Tsp sugar (I used some sugar twin and some splenda)

Whisk dry ingredients together

2 eggs
2 cups greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 - 4 Tbs melted butter (Optional)
1/2 almond or soy milk

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well with whisk.

Proceed in the usual fashion and cook your pancakes over medium heat.

These are no doubt carbier than my usual meals - but pancakes of any type are a once a week treat for me. I do start the day with a cup of protein coffee (27g protein), so this meal works well in terms of my overall stats for the day.

September 15, 2010

Quinoa and Acorn Squash Pilaf

I had planned this week to use up some Arborio rice that is sitting in the cupboard and make some risotto - even though I couldn't really eat much, my husband loves it. When it came down to cooking however, I decided to make quinoa instead - healthier for all of us, and something I can eat. I served the quinoa (recipe below) with pork cutlets and creamed spinach - and I thought it was all really delicious. Here is a picture of my husband's plate:






Before you start the quinoa you will need some roasted squash. I just cut up an acorn squash (prefer butternut, but the grocery store didn't have any yet...), tossed the slices in olive oil and roasted at 400 until cooked through and slightly caramelized - then removed the rinds and cubed the squash.



Ingredients
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons minced sage
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/4 c dry white wine or vermouth (optional)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups cubed roasted acorn squash (Or pumpkin, or butternut squash, or any other winter squash)
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Saute the onion in the olive oil until softened
Add the chopped sage and saute for another minute or two
Add the rinsed and drained quinoa and saute for another couple minutes, until it is fragrant and slightly toasted
Add the wine and reduce until it is syrupy
Add the chicken stock, all at once, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is almost tender
Add the squash, and continue to cook until the quinoa is tender and the sqaush is heated through
Add the parmesan and stir until combined
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7 month update

Today it's been 7 months since my surgery. This month I lost 9 pounds - a lot more than usual and have been stalled for about 10 days at 198 pounds. I am noticing that my clothes are getting looser - the size 16 work trousers that my mother-in-law gave me in August are pretty loose, though still wearable, and I tried on a size 14 skirt at Old Navy and it fit. So, I am hoping to soon be solidly into a size 14, with an ultimate goal of a 10 or 12. To be honest, I can't even imagine being in single digits, although lots of people who have had this surgery end up there...It would be really nice to be able to shop pretty much anywhere without worrying whether they carry my size...

This has been a busy month... school started and I also was offered, and accepted, a part time teaching position at a local college. This means that I am working as a research assistant, as a teaching assistant for two courses, and as an instructor for one course. I will also write my comprehensive examinations for my PhD this fall, so October and November look like they will be pretty crazy. I have been able to stay on track in terms of eating with no problem - now that my food plan is pretty much a routine, I just pack a lunch and bring it with me, or find something WLS friendly to order if I eat out with colleagues.

Exercise, however, is increasingly a challenge, unless I work out in the evenings after dinner - which I REALLY do not like to do, as this is family time. Last week and this week I was booked from morning to evening with the meetings that are typical of the beginning of the school year, plus my classes ... and did not get to the gym AT ALL. My plan is to get back this evening for a water aerobics class and try to get back into the routine. Next week looks a lot better in terms of my schedule so I am optimistic that all is not lost.

I've been feeling mildly discouraged with this recent brief stall - I lost weight really rapidly for a couple weeks at the beginning of the month and was hopeful that maybe a new rate of loss was kicking in. Although my overall loss this month was higher than usual, it doesn't seem so far that I'll be losing much more rapidly than has been the case all along. I was REALLY pleased to see my picture for the month ... I look much closer to average, and although not slim, I'm more proportionate and not notably obese (although I still need to lose 2 pounds before I am technically overweight instead of obese).

 Before

7 Months Post-Op

It feels FANTASTIC to walk out the door every morning feeling confident about my appearance!

September 4, 2010

A milestone achieved!

This morning, for the first time in at least 20 years, I weighed less than 200 pounds!


This is sort of an artificial milestone, because really - I don't feel any different at 199 than I did at 200 - but still, it is exciting. Even better, I am just a few pounds (3!) away from being at a BMI designated as "overweight" rather than "obese". I hope to reach THAT goal before the end of this, my 7th post-op month. I am now just 34 pounds away from my surgeon's goal for me, and 39 from my own goal. I'm not sure where my body will settle out at then end of all this. I think I would be pretty content anywhere between 150 and 180 - I would like to be solidly within misses sizes - a 12 would be ideal (just to make shopping that little bit easier!)

Life with my sleeve has been both easier and different this month. For one thing, I had gone through a short period of having a lot of trouble keeping vitamins down, and that seems to have resolved. I still need to try to add the fish oil capsule back in, as that seems to have been the primary troublemaker, but for another week or two I will continue to enjoy the lack of nausea.

Another thing that I did not expect is to feel much more restriction over the past month than has been the case since starting solid foods in March. I am able to eat very little solid food at a time this month - and I have much less hunger as well. This has been really a surprise to me, as I expected my capacity to continue to get a bit larger for a while yet. It is also weird not really feeling hungry - not that I am complaining!

My rate of weight loss has seemed to pick up a bit too. I lost 7 pounds in 14 days - something that I haven't seen since a month or two after surgery. I figured that I would probably next have a big long stall, but, as I mentioned, my weight dropped again after a 5 day break, so it looks like things are still shifting.

I have been feeling REALLY good about how I look in clothes. I was unexpectedly contacted last Monday about a potential teaching position at a local college and it felt SO good to know that I had clothing in my closet that fit, that was flattering, that was appropriate for the interview, and that I felt good wearing. When I was heavy, I always tried to have nice things, but there were many days when NOTHING fit (or felt) right.

Also - I got the job - so starting next week I will be teaching at the college level - my first teaching job and I am really excited! Now I NEED to wear nice clothes most days of the week!

Tonight I made a yummy salad with flank steak and broiled mushrooms;

 Husband's plate

I used the following ingredients:

Flank steak, pan fried to medium rare and sliced thinly
Portabello Mushrooms, sliced, tossed with olive oil, salt and crushed garlic, then baked at 425 until browned and cooked through
Homemade croutons (Made with low-carb bread, tossed with olive oil and garlic powder, and baked at 425 until toasted)
Herb salad mix
Cherry Tomatoes
Diced Red Bell Pepper
Black Olives
Shaved Parmesano-Reggiano Cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

It was a really tasty dinner, perfect for a sunny Saturday.

August 17, 2010

Some recent meals

Yesterday we had some Thai chili marinated salmon with garlic-parmesan sweet potato slices and arugula salad with avocado and tomato. I basted the salmon with a bit of Thai sweet chili sauce, and that was pretty tasty!


Sweet Potato Slices with Garlic and Parmesan

Ingredients
1 Sweet potato, unpeeled, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
2 Tbsp Olive oil
3 Tbsp Grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 425 F
Toss sweet potato slices with other ingredients, mixing thoroughly to coat well

Arrange slices on baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray
Bake until browned and tender


Note: I was able to finish all of my salmon, one slice of sweet potato and about half of the salad pictured above - served on a salad-sized plate



Tonight the menu was sauteed pork loin chops, leftover corn, cut off of the cob, roasted potatoes and a fennel and orange slaw.
 My serving

Fennel and Orange Slaw

Ingredients
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced very thinly
1 navel orange, sectioned and excess juice reserved and squeezed into bowl
chopped fronds from the fennel bulb
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp Splenda (optional)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method
Add oil, vinegar and seasonings to reserved oragne juice and mix briefly with a fork or a whisk
Add orange segments and fennel slices, along with chopped fronds
Mix and let sit for a half hour or so before serving


  My leftovers

August 16, 2010

Excess Skin

I've been asked to elaborate a bit about  my experience with excess skin - this is something that anyone who loses a lot of weight needs to consider, although some folks end up looking pretty good due to a combination of youth, good genetics and/or good luck. Although exercise can provide some muscle definition to fill out the excess skin somewhat, this skin, particularly if it has stretch marks etc., doesn't really go away, though it may tighten up somewhat. I still have close to 50 pounds to lose before I get to goal, so the degree to which this bothers me may change a lot before I am done with this process; here is what I am thinking now, with just under 65% of my excess weight lost...

Overall: I think I look very good in clothing - although there is some loose skin under my arms and some wrinkles where my double chin used to be, neither of these is horrible and I feel confident wearing sleeveless tops and dresses. I'm not the mini-skirt type anyway, so knee-length dresses and skirts are as short as I want to wear and I think I look fine in them. I might even get daring and wear slightly shorter skirts in fall and winter - when I am also wearing opaque tights.

Stomach: My stomach has shrunk a lot, but there is still a very fatty flap that hangs low down and seems to be pretty persistent. It has a lot of stretch marks and damaged skin from pregnancy and weight gain over the years. Supportive undergarments (i.e. Spanx) do a good job of pulling this in a bit so that clothes fit better and look more flattering, but I have to say, I don't think it very likely that I'll be donning a bikini any time soon. This pannus does not overhang enough to cause problems, such as rashes, skin infections, etc., which are an issue for some folks post-op. I am very wary of undergoing the risk and expense of any surgery that doesn't make a very big difference to my health or quality of life, so I probably won't pursue a tummy tuck, although I'm not completely opposed to the concept.

Thighs: I do really dislike the appearance of my upper thighs - very saggy, baggy, and wrinkly, although the overall size/circumference of my thighs is shrinking a lot due to my workouts. I still feel a little uncomfortable in shorts and tend to wear crop or capri - length workout pants, and to wear full length or crop length trousers for everyday wear if I am not wearing a skirt or dress. The picture of me in a bathing suit yesterday happened to be particularly flattering; here is a more true-to-life photo of my upper thighs:


There are surgical procedures to tighten up the skin on the inner/upper thighs, but they sound pretty horrible to me, so I think I'll just live with what I end up with. (and continue to worship at the altar of supportive undergarments!)

Breasts: I think I have lost some volume, but in a good bra they're fine. (I do need a "Sheepdog Bra" - rounds 'em up and points 'em in the right direction!!)

Back: Still have some sagging of back fat, but I think this will continue to reduce a bit as I keep up with my workouts. I was dismayed to see "side boobs" when I first started losing weight, but these are shrinking and I just don't look at 'em, so they don't bother me much! The previously mentioned good bra does a great job of camouflaging a lot of the back and side flab.

I know that this really isn't all that bad ... I mean, I'd rather have the sagging than the fat ...  but it's not all that pretty either. I think what I have come to terms with is this:  Even if I do achieve a normal or even a thin body size, this is a 45 year old body that just is not going to look like it would at the same weight if I were 25 (and if I had never been overweight). I'm just grateful that I am able to feel attractive and reasonably well-proportioned in clothes and, most of all, that I feel so much healthier and stronger.

I actually wasn't all that distressed at my appearance when I was heavy, and I think I have usually had a realistic mental picture of my size and my appearance - so even though I can't say I love all of the changes to my skin texture etc., I really am not all that bothered either, although obviously it bugs me a bit because I keep mentioning it! I think I am mourning, a bit, for that young woman I used to be who didn't get to enjoy a strong, fit, beautiful body in her 20's and early 30's. I also have been reading fashion magazines more frequently as I approach normal sizes, and I suppose I am as susceptible as anyone else to the implicit messages in these magazines regarding a very narrow definition of beauty, the need to be thinner, more youthful, more athletic, better groomed, better dressed etc etc etc... It really is an impossible standard, especially without a personal airbrusher and photoshop wizard!

I'll update here as things change with my appearance and/or my feelings about it!

August 15, 2010

6 Month Report

So, today it has been six months since I had my surgery. Still at 75 pounds lost - same as my last post a couple days ago. That's 6 pounds down over the last month - which isn't too bad considering I was on vacation, and not really eating or exercising according to my usual routine for most of the month. One thing that was exciting today is that I looked at the difference in my measurements from my pre-op high weight:

Neck Before: 17.25"  Now:14" (-3.25 inches)
Wrist Before: 7" Now 6.5 " (-.5  inch)
Forearm Before: 11" Now 10" (-1 inch)
Upper arm Before 14" Now 14" (No change)
Bust Before 54" Now 45" (-9 inches)
Waist Before 49" Now 36.5" (-12.5 inches)
Hips Before 60" Now 47" (- 13 inches)
Thighs Before 34.5" Now 24" (- 10.5 inches)
Calf Before 20" Now 16.5 (-3.5 inches)
Ankle Before 10" Now 9.5" (-.5 inch)
Ribcage Before 49" Now 37" (-12 inches)

That's a lotta inches!

Second, we went to the beach today and my husband took some snapshots, including one of me in a bathing suit, and none of them make me cringe or feel ashamed. Although I am still very much on the large size of normal, I do feel normal and healthy and attractive, even with the lumps and bumps and saggy bits (hello thighs! how ya hanging tummy?!) that remain. This is a great feeling! I am seeing a more shapely form with a lot of curves emerge from my previously beach-ball shaped figure and I am liking it a lot.


 Honestly, I believe that I will continue to lose weight for some time, but even if I didn't lose another pound, this surgery would be worth the money and effort that it has cost. Prior to surgery I was starting to feel, due to my weight, that my life and the activities and experiences available to me were getting smaller and smaller. Now I can hike, swim, canoe, kayak, camp, etc with my husband and daughter - (not to mention shop in SO many more stores!) - without fatigue or pain. I figure I have bought myself at least ten additional years before the need for more surgery on my arthritic knees, and that I have certainly delayed or limited the likelihood of heart surgery and other cardio-vascular complications and procedures.

The other weird thing (for me, anyway)? I am finding that I actually enjoy and look forward to exercise and physical activity. At 282 pounds it just isn't all that fun to move around - my joints hurt a lot, I was short of breath, my heart pounded - and not in a good way either. Now I still get out of breath sometimes, but that is because I am exerting myself -and it feels good - and I don't feel like I might drop dead on the side of a hiking trail because my heart has pounded its way out of my chest. I am really enjoying working hard with my personal trainer - who knew that I had biceps lurking under those flabby arms?!


August 11, 2010

75 Pounds Down!

(Note - for OH members, this is a copy of my most recent post - apologies for the repeat!)

Have just returned from 17 days of holiday with friends and family in Oregon. I decided to not to worry much about my eating whilst away and although I had big plans in terms of exercise, other than some swimming and hiking and one 5K walk, I didn't actually work out at all. So, there was some grazing, and consumption of foods, like um, tortilla chips, that I do not usually eat at all.

Still, I lost 4 pounds during vacation and another pound since I got back - for a grand total of 75 pounds lost! This was my next mini goal and I am just 8 pounds away from seeing 199 on my bathroom scale. My six month stats next week probably won't be stellar, since I have been on vacation most of the month, and not as on track with eating and exercise when I am away. Even so, I should be 6-8 pounds down from last month.

Even better, when I went on those hikes, I was CHARGING up those hills - leader of the pack in fact! It felt so good to be exerting myself, getting my heart rate up for sure, but not feeling like I was going to expire on the side of the trail - I used to feel like I would never catch my breath and like my heart was going to beat itself right out of my chest - this time I just felt healthy and fit and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air.

It was good that we went, because even though I have been working out a lot, I still had a fear of hills - and now I know I can do them, no problem!

Had a great time shopping at Value Village and Goodwill, and at the Fred Meyer clearance racks, and am set for my return to campus this fall in regular, rather than plus, sizes! Also bought a couple pair of Levis in size 14 to shrink into - my fave jeans and it has been decades since I could wear 'em!

Back home now and back on track with protein etc as well as back at the gym - feeling fantastic and fit - yeah for my VSG!

6 month update will be posted next week!

July 21, 2010

Strawberry and Marscapone Tart - No Baking Required!

I made this dessert for a barbecue that my husband held for his work colleagues. My goal was to make a dessert that I could have a bit of without going completely off of my diet, but that would also be considered tasty by folks who are not post - WLS or low carbing. This was what I came up with:

Ingredients
Crust:
2 cups Fiber One cereal, crushed 
1 cup Almond Meal
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c melted butter

Mix all crust ingredients together and press onto bottom and sides of removable bottom tart tin, (or pie tin). Refrigerate.

Filling 
1 pint marscapone cheese
1 cup Greek yogurt, drained overnight in a paper-lined sieve (over a bowl) in the fridge
Splenda or other sweetener to taste
1 tsp vanilla (Or substitute the liqueur of your choice - Grand Marnier would be tasty here!)

Using a mixer, combine filling ingredients thoroughly and spread evenly over crust. Return tart to refrigerator.

Topping
1 - 2 pints strawberries, sliced vertically

Starting at the outside of the tart, arrange strawberries in concentric circles - continuing until you reach the middle. You can glaze the berries with a bit of melted no-sugar-added preserves if you like, or just leave as is. I garnished with a few mint leaves.

This was very tasty!



 







 

Scallops with Sauteed Greens and Pancetta

This is one of my favourite new recipes - it's simple to make, very tasty, and fancy enough for company - while still being WLS friendly.

Ingredients
Cubed Pancetta - a couple of ounces should be enough
Scallops - (I use the large size, as many as you need for the # of people you are serving)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
A few handfuls mixed hearty greens - a mixture is nice - my grocery store sells them pre-mixed, but you could use any combination of mustard greens, mature spinach, kale, cabbage (any type), beet greens etc. Chop roughly


Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper (Optional)

Directions

Heat large skillet over medium high flame and add pancetta to skillet, cook until brown and crisp, remove to bowl

Dry scallops with paper towel and add to pan, adding a bit of olive oil if there is not a little bit of fat left from the pancetta. cook until seared and brown on one side, then flip and sear the other side. Remove to the bowl with the pancetta.



Add the diced onions to the skillet and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and the chopped greens and continue to saute until the greens are cooked through.

Return the scallops and pancetta to the pan, and heat through

Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste, then serve!

5 Month Update

Well, it has been a month since I posted - mainly because I have been either out of town, preparing to leave town, or unpacking after having returned. I had the opportunity to present a paper in the UK at the beginning of July, then traveled to Idaho for a wonderful visit with family, and am on my way to Oregon later this week for more time with family and friends. So, I have sadly neglected my blog!

It was a good month for me in terms of my weight loss. I started working with a personal trainer, and saw her a couple times a week for weight training, and also did 3-4 cardio workouts every week - usually an hour of water aerobics or walking. I started with a 4K walk and have increased to 5K. My weight loss for the month was a respectable 8 pounds, and I was pleased to lose 1 1/2 inches from my waist, as well as smaller amounts elsewhere. I also was thrilled to find that I am now able to wear misses size 16 pants and tops - no more plus sizes!

The workouts are really changing my body shape - not just the weight lost, but I can see myself becoming a bit leaner and there is some reduction in the wobbly bits at my belly, back and upper arms. I am definitely feeling stronger! So, I remain motivated to continue with the workouts and will buy more personal training sessions too - as I work so much harder with the trainer than I would if left to my own devices!

Anyway - I have now lost a total of 70 pounds and am trying to decide how to reward myself once I have lost 75 pounds. I would say clothing - but really, I'll be needing that anyway. Maybe a spa day?

June 18, 2010

Exercise - Feeling virtuous, feeling pain!

So, this week I started work with a personal trainer in an effort to transform myself from a squishy and cuddly couch potato to a slightly less cuddly, but more fit, active sort of person. I have a long way to go!

My first session with the PT was on Wednesday, but I made the effort to go to water aerobics on Monday and Tuesday, then worked out in the weight room with the trainer on Wednesday, and then walked on the track for 4 kilometers / 45 minutes today (yeah, I know I am slow!). Tomorrow I work out with the PT again.


I am rather sore.

I like the H2O aerobics, but my old swimsuit is getting loose and is made of a kind of rough material that is painfully chafing my inner arms. I ordered a new suit on sale from Land's End, but until it arrives, no more water aerobics.

I thought I might do the couch to 5k program, but found that even the initial stage, running for 60 seconds, walking for 90 seconds, over a total of 20 minutes, was very taxing (Um, the 90 seconds wasn't even close to enough recovery time for my shocked cardiovascular system) - so I walked briskly for 45 minutes instead, and I think I got a decent workout - kept my heart rate up and ended up with wobbly legs. I get that it is pretty sad that a 4k was about as much as I could manage, but I suppose it's a start.

June 15, 2010

45th Birthday, 4 months since surgery, Halfway to Goal

So today it has been four months since I had my surgery and it is also my 45th birthday. Although my weight loss still seems to be going slowly, and I am frustrated at times, I am so grateful that I was able to have this procedure. As of this morning I was down 61 pounds from my high weight - exactly halfway to my goal of 160 pounds. I expect that it may take another year to lose the rest of the weight, but I remind myself that:

1) It took a lot longer than 16 months to gain the weight
2) I am already much, much, healthier than I have been in several years, even at this early stage in my process
3) I have successfully made significant changes in my everyday routines and habits

This month I lost a total of 6 pounds and lost 2.5 inches from my hips, .5 inch from my waist, and an inch each from my bust and thighs. Not too bad really! The size 18 jeans that I bought last month are getting a bit loose, and I am starting to see that I will indeed once again fit into misses sizes (and it has been more than 20 years since I could, so I am really excited!).

What I have noticed, is that although I am still plus size, still medically obese, I feel a lot more normal as I go about my business in the world. I am sometimes able to buy clothing in the regular size section of the store (XL, and only in a forgiving fabric and cut, but still... :-) ).

I also, after several delays, got connected with a personal trainer and will meet her for the first time tomorrow. I have been attending water aerobics this week also, so it looks like I will get the exercise component of this process in place, finally. I am hoping to see improvements when I take my measurements next month as the result of increasing my exercise. I am really hoping that working out becomes something I enjoy and look forward to, rather than being merely a virtuous activity!

Thanks to everyone who reads and especially for the supportive comments - it is great to have a cheering squad!

Roast Vegetable Platter with Aioli Dip

A couple of weeks ago, we had some of my husband's colleagues over for a barbecue. As usual, I went a little overboard in the planning and cooking - cooking for friends is one of my favorite activities.

The menu:

Roasted Vegetable Platter with Aioli
Tortilla chips with Guacamole

Grilled Porterhouse Steak, Florentine style
Cedar Planked Wild Alaskan Salmon with Maple and Mustard Glaze
Roasted Baby Potatoes with Garlic
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan

Strawberry and Marscapone Tart

The roasted vegetables are a great solution to entertaining or going to pot luck dinners - Everybody loves it, and you are assured that there is something available for you to eat that feels special but doesn't mess up your eating plan too much, or at all.

Here is a photo of the completed platter:



Here is what was included in the platter:

Roasted peppers with olive oil, salt,and garlic
Roasted eggplant slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper
Roasted fennel with olive oil and salt
Roasted green beans with olive oil, salt, and crushed red peppers
Sweet Maui onions with olive oil, salt, and fresh thyme
Zucchini slices roasted with olive oil and salt, and rolled up with goat cheese and fresh mint (Mix one small log of goat cheese with a couple tablespoons of minced mint and a squeeze or two of lemon juice).
Aioloi (Mix 1 cup Mayonnaise with 4 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste)

The roasting technique is pretty straighforward:

Cut your vegetables (You can do pretty much any veg this way, and it will be delicious) into desired size/shape

Toss with a drizzle or two of olive oil and desired seasonsings / herbs

Roast in a 450 degree oven until cooked through and caramelized.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Easy! And can be done the morning of your event or even the day before (Refrigerate each veg separately in zipper bags - make sure to put on platter and let come to room temp before serving).

Protein Pancakes

While we were living in England, our family got into the habit of having pancakes (with American style crispy bacon) for breakfast every Sunday morning. Now, pancakes are NOT traditionally eaten for breakfast in England, and before we lived there, we didn't have them all that often, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Since my surgery, we have really missed our pancake breakfasts, and I have been playing around with ingredients like ricotta cheese, vanilla protein powder, almond meal etc, trying to arrive at a tasty substitute. None of the results were actually inedible, but they weren't really scratching my pancake itch either. I didn't just want them to be low carb, but also to have enough protein to be a good addition to my eating plan. Here is my best effort to date... I'll be sure to let you know if I do any better, but these have made everybody pretty happy!

Protein Pancakes



Ingredients
1 cup Cottage Cheese
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 packet splenda
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup almond meal

Oil, butter, or Pam to grease pan

Directions
Whisk together egg, cottage cheese, and vanilla. (You can do this whole recipe in a blender if you want to disguise the cottage cheese - just blend until smooth)

Whisk the dry ingredients together, then mix them into the cottage cheese mixture.

Heat griddle over medium heat, use oil/butter/Pam to grease, and cook pancakes in the usual way, flipping when the underside is golden brown. I usually heat the oven to about 200 and keep them warm in the oven until the whole batch is finished.
I use about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of batter per pancake, and personally can eat only one or two pancakes - so the small amount of carbs contributed by the whole wheat flour is pretty insignificant. You could add some nuts or blueberries, or substitute lemon juice for the vanilla and cinnamon for a different flavor. I eat mine with sugar free maple syrup, but fresh fruit, sugar free preserves, or a berry sauce made with berries, heated with sweetener, would be yummy too.

My husband and daughter like these too!

Healthy Ice Cream!

Blueberry and Cardamom Frozen Greek Yogurt



Last month I indulged myself with a Cuisinart ice cream machine. This is the type where you keep the bowl in the freezer for at least overnight, then add your ingredients, flip the switch, and 30 minutes later enjoy some lovely ice cream. I was inspired by the protein ice cream recipes on one of my favorite WLS recipe websites:


I love this thing! In addition to turning my protein drinks into frozen treats, my favourite use for the machine so far is to make delicious frozen Greek yogurt. Since Greek yogurt is SO good for us, (high protein/low carb), eating this stuff is actually an act of virtue, rather than vice, and even my daughter and husband love it. This has completely replaced ice cream in our household.

The first time out I made Blueberry Frozen Greek Yogurt, here's how to do it:

Ingredients
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
Splenda, liquid sucralose, or the sweetener of your choice - equivalent of about 1 c sugar
Pinch salt
16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp cardamom (You may substitute ground cinnamon here - also very yummy!)
1tsp vanilla extract

Directions
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, slowly heat up the blueberries with the sweetener and the pinch of salt, until the blueberries begin to give up their juice and sweetener is dissolved.

Remove from heat and mash well with potato masher or stick blender, or puree in blender or food processor

Strain over a clean bowl through a fine mesh sieve, pressing to get all of the juice out

Discard solids

Using a whisk, blend yogurt, cinnamon and vanilla into blueberry juice.

Taste for sweetness - add more sweetener if desired (Once frozen it will taste LESS sweet, so take this into consideration.) 

Chill mixture thoroughly before freezing.

Pour mixture into freezer, follow manufacturers directions for use, and freeze until of desired consistency - about a half hour in my machine.

Eat it up - or pack into a plastic freezer container to eat later.

Note: This will freeze a lot harder than store bought ice cream, so take it out of freezer and put in fridge about 1/2 hour or an hour before serving - or just have strong arms available to scoop it out!

June 8, 2010

Long time - no post.

Well, I have really been negligent about posting this month. I think this is for a couple of different reasons. the first is that I have been busy! School ended, and I thought I would have some down time, but instead have had a lot of meetings etc. to get everything coordinated for my summer research jobs. The other reason though is that I went through a long - 15 day I think - stall, and I was SO worried that I was going to be the WLS failure poster girl. Wasn't sure I should be posting recipes, because what if I was leading everybody down a primrose path to regain and continued frustration?

I've come to the conclusion that at this point, stalls just happen. There doesn't really seem to be a connection between what I eat during a particular week and what the scale tells me - though I really eat pretty much the same balance of carbs/fat/protein and calories 90% of the time. My pattern seems to be: stall 14-18 days then, lose for 7-10 days, then stall some more... I suppose I can learn to deal with that.

I think worrying about failure is pretty normal for new pre-ops - after all, if we had been successful losing weight in the past, we would not have needed WLS, right? I am trying not to let the numbers on the scale determine my feelings of success or failure, but it is a challenge sometimes! The good news is, I have dropped 5 pounds in the last week so, with luck, my monthly stats will look decent when I hit my four month surgiversary next Tuesday. I have reached a 60 pound total loss as of yesterday - just one pound to go until I am halfway to my goal!

I have started to experience some hair loss - enough that I think that's where the 5 pound drop on the scale came from! So far it still looks ok - but I am having a lot come out in the shower and on my hairbrush everyday, and they are pretty much shedding constantly - my husband has mentioned that the house has long hairs draped pretty much everywhere. I did recently have it cut a bit shorter, with layers, and have it colored and highlighted, and that seems to make it look fuller, even though it is actually thinner.

I can now actually zip up my size 16w and size 18 misses jeans - without having to lie down flat on the bed to do it. Having said that, I can't actually breathe once they're zipped up and they create a muffin top that is fearsome to behold, so I can't wear them out and about yet. Still, last month they didn't even fit up and over my backside and belly, so there is some improvement in size, although my waist measurement has been frustratingly persistent - no change this month at all! This doesn't make sense, since I can see that my proportions seem to be improving - a nice hourglass figure is slowly emerging! I have heard that the gut is the last to go - we'll lose weight everywhere else first.

The other two things that are a bit distressing at the moment: I have lost most of the double chin, but a strange wrinkly wattlely spot seems to have been left behind ... only visible from certain angles and when the light hits it in a particular way, but still - I hope to heaven that this shrinks because when I catch a glimpse of it, it freaks me RIGHT out! The second thing is, now that I am losing fat from my back and sides, I have uncovered a really unattractive set of "back boobs" visible on my sides from behind if I lift my arms. Fortunately, I am able to kind of stuff them forward in my bra, so they don't really show when I am dressed .... but EEEWW!

Shopping has been fun. I went to Winners (A Canadian store similar to Ross and TJ Maxx) and bought a few blouses, a ruffled cardigan, a sundress, and a gorgeous red rain coat- that is too small right now, but should fit beautifully this fall and winter (size 14!) The blouses are a tiny bit snug, but I need them for a trip to the UK in a month, and they should fit just fine by then. These days, when I find a pair of jeans that is flattering, I buy the size I need now, and the next size down - too often I have returned to find that a style that I like is out of stock or has been discontinued - and life is too short to wear ugly baggy jeans, now that I am actually liking my body shape! I CAN"T WAIT to be able to shop in regular sizes - the selection of plus size clothing in Canada is pretty crappy and overpriced.

Although I haven't been posting, I have been taking pictures of lots of yummy food that I have been cooking - so get set for a bunch of recipe postings over the next few days! Here's what is coming to this blog soon: Protein Pancakes, Frozen Blueberry Greek Yogurt, Roasted Vegetable Platter, Feta and Tomato Relish, Smoked Salmon and Avocado "Sushi" Rolls, Cheese "puffs", Orange and Chili Glazed Salmon Fillets, Low Carb Breaded Chicken Nuggets, Strawberry & Marscapone Tart, Broccoli Slaw, Honey and Maple Glazed, Cedar Planked, Salmon, Grilled Porterhouse Steak, Caesar Salad with High Protein / Low Carb Croutons.

Lots of yummy high protein and low carb stuff! And Ice Cream that is totally indulgent TASTING, while being 100% weight loss surgery friendly! Woo Hoo!

May 16, 2010

3 Month Report

Here is an excerpt from the report I sent to my doctor for my three-month post op check in...

I lost a total of 9 pounds this month, despite a 16 day stall. Today my weight is 227, from a high of 282 (weight on day of surgery = 269), for a total of 55 pounds lost!

Measurements - Since surgery I have lost a total of:
6 inches from my bust (0 this month),
9 inches from my waist (1 this month)
9.5 inches from my hips (2.5 this month)
11 inches from my ribcage (2 this month)
9 inches from my thighs (0 this month)
Plus forearms, calves etc have all lost as well...

BMI has dropped from 42.9 to 34.5.

Average nutrition for this month
Average daily calories: 722.8
Fat: 32.1g / 38.9% of daily calories
Fiber: 7.2g
Carbohydrate: 30.5g / 16% of daily calories
Protein: 85.4g / 45.4% of daily calories

Flew to Southern California to see my dad last week and 1) fit easily into airplane seat, with extra room in the seatbelt;   2) spent 10 hours walking all over Disneyland with no fatigue and minimally sore feet - NO arthritis pain!; and 3) lost weight on vacation (three pounds in a week). Pretty cool!

Still walking and swimming. Have decided to buy 5 sessions with a personal trainer as my reward for 50 pounds lost. My arms and thighs are looking REALLY flabby!

I will have my bloodwork scheduled this week and will send a scanned copy of results when I receive them. I'll be in touch if there are any concerns!

May 13, 2010

Back from Vacation

I'm back! My daughter and I just spent a fantastic week in Los Angeles with my Dad and his wife. We went to Universal Studios and to Disneyland, and spent a lot of time just hanging around with the family. It was very relaxing and I managed to lose a couple of pounds, despite being on vacation and spending days at theme parks.

A few achievements: First, for the first time in memory, I fit comfortably in the airplane seat, with plenty of extra room in the seatbelt. Woohoo! NO more travel angst! Then, I spent 10 hours walking all over Disneyland, with very little fatigue and minimal soreness - and no arthritis pain in my knees and feet. This is fantastic for me!

Finally, I did splurge a little bit in terms of my eating (some Dole Pineapple Whip at Disney, a couple of slivers of birthday cake during the week - both of which I enjoyed thoroughly), but it was great to feel that I was in control of the food decisions I made and to not feel obsessive and funky about eating.

Anyway, it's good to be home again and to not have a bunch of assignments hanging over my head for school. Today I got out to the grocery store and the garden shop, worked a bit in the garden and made this delicious halibut dinner: Walnut Crusted Halibut, Roasted Asparagus, Pureed Cauliflower with Parmesan and Roasted Garlic. Recipes below:


Walnut Crusted Halibut

Ingredients
Halibut fillet - enough to serve desired number of guests
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil, to saute halibut


Directions
Remove (or have your fishmonger remove) the skin from the halibut, sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper
Beat eggs until thoroughly combined
Dip halibut into egg until coated, then into walnuts, pressing walnuts against fish so they adhere

Saute in olive oil over medium heat until fish is cooked through, but still tender and moist, turning once during cooking.


(Note: this doesn't look NEARLY as good as it tasted - the heat was a little high and it was overbrowned a bit - but the flavor was really rich and delicious!)




Pureed Cauliflower with Parmesan and Roasted Garlic

Ingredients
2 Tbsp Olive oil
4 Cloves garlic, peelef
1/2 head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt - or you could use plain yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream, or half and half
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions
In small saute pan, slowly cook garlic cloves over medium low heat, turning each clove occasionally, until the garlic is a deep golden brown all over. Remove from heat, and set aside

Meanwhile, cook cauliflower over steamer, or in boiling water, or in microwave until very tender.
Drain cauliflower very well and return to cooking pot

Add garlic, along with the oil in which it was cooked, the Parmesan cheese, the Greek yogurt and either mash with a potato masher, puree with a stick blender, or chuck the whole lot into a food processor and blend. (The food processor does the best job of producing an extremely smooth puree, but I am lazy and don't want to haul it out and wash it, so I use my immersion blender.)



Taste and add salt and or pepper if you think the puree needs it.

My husband, who is not on a low carb diet - but actually on more of a "See" food diet - LOVES this stuff!

This is my husband's plate of food - I ate about 2 ounces of the fish and a few bites of the cauliflower and was done - so the leftover asparagus will make a re-appearance in an omelet or frittata this weekend.

I'll be three months post-op on  Saturday and will post photos and stats then! 

May 4, 2010

So Busy Lately!

Sorry for the lack of recipes lately! I have been in the process of wrapping up my spring term at school, which means I have had a huge paper to write (theory - ugh) and a bunch of papers to grade (34!) - I have also had a cold, so have been eating pretty simply.

I just went through a stall of about 2 1/2 weeks - which, looking back, doesn't seem very long - but throughout it felt very long indeed. I know it's not sensible to panic when I stop losing, but I do it anyway, and I also know that I am not alone in this, at least judging from what I read on the boards! Anyway, during this period I actually gained 2 pounds at one point, and over the past couple of days the extra pounds, plus a couple more, have dropped off. The big news is, I am down 50 pounds today from my high weight last summer!

Today I was on campus to attend a PhD defense and saw my adviser for the first time in about a month, along with a few other colleagues, and it felt so great to hear supportive feedback from them - two people said that they didn't recognize me from a distance at all! To me, the change doesn't seem as drastic and the whole process seems really slow - but to everyone else it is really significant. Anyway - this felt really positive to me after a few weeks of feeling slightly depressed and pessimistic about the whole process.

So, what am I gonna do to celebrate? I'm going to Disneyland! This trip was planned a while ago - I'm taking my daughter to visit with family in L.A. and we'll go to Universal and to Disney while we are down there. It should be fun - the flight should be WAY more comfortable, and I know I'll fit more comfortably into the rides. I'll enjoy the So Cal sunshine too!

I also need to think of some non-food reward to celebrate my lost 50 pounds - any suggestions??? 


At 25 pounds down I celebrated by getting my eyebrows threaded at Bombay Brow Bar and making a promise to myself that I will return every month or so to have it done again - they did a fabulous job and, in my opinion, it really makes a difference in the overall look of the face.

Anyway - will post pics soon, and stay tuned for more recipes!

Cheers,
Margo