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

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

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:

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

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!