Friday, February 27, 2009

Think Good Thoughts for Me

Quick, from NYC post... more about things actually related to this blog later... but I found out at dinner last night that the government agency that sponsors the student program with which I'm greatly involved is probably going to stop doing that. This would be a huge blow to me, but more importantly to a lot of students at a lot of colleges in this area... and I would be just heartbroken to see this happen.

Today I get to do whatever I can to save something from the wreckage... and I've spent all night trying to think how best to do this. I have no real idea. But I strongly believe in the power of positive thought and faith, so... send some good thoughts my way this morning, if you can.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I could tell you what I ate yesterday. It's boring. I forgot to take pictures, and mostly I was so irritated with myself that I didn't pay a lot of specific attention. Sigh. The day all kind of went to hell.

It all kind of went to hell in a flurry of trying to pack to go to NY tomorrow, and realizing that everything dressy that I have to wear looks terrible on me. In my opinion anyway. And certainly not like I want it to look.

I know that probably every woman (and probably man, too) has had that moment when everything in your closet is lying on the floor around you, and you realize that that you just own nothing that is what you want, and that the problem is as much you as the clothes. You have the things that you wear every day, and they don't set this off for you... they're the things that you're already comfortable in, or maybe that you just tune out because you're used to seeing them... in the same way that we don't necessarily focus on everything about what we look like every day (which actually is a Good Thing, of course. It's not like you'd really want to do that.)

But yesterday was really one of those days for me. Everything I put on either looked like a sack or was too tight, and... well, let's just say that it was all as depressing as hell.

And this is what I thought while I was totally being miserable about this. I have spent nearly three years paying incredible amounts of attention primarily to diet. I weigh... well, a little less than I did then, but not a lot. If I had just lost, say, a pound a week during this time, I would be below my goal weight. It's a little disheartening. Or it makes you think that I'm utterly delusional about what I eat and what I do, which really I'm not.

But the problem is this... and it's the heart of every problem for me, in a lot of ways. I have spent three years paying attention to Michael's weight. To what would help and support him. And, wow, in that sense, I've been incredibly successful. I've made him the focus, made choices again and again that were supportive of him, and, you know, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. But we are not the same person, and the same things do not necessarily work for us.

If I don't do something to change my ability to support him and me, I'll be sitting here two years from now, he'll be at his goal weight, and I'll be writing this again. And my back will still hurt, and I still won't have anything to wear.

Today isn't a life-change day... it's a get everything done before I go to NYC day. But after I get back, I need to spend some hard time thinking about this.

And I still have nothing that I'm happy wearing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Upcoming Pitfalls. Monday Food. General Chaos!

On Thursday, my son and I are going to New York City for a few days. I am very happy/excited about this... I used to take him every year when he was younger, but we haven't gone in a while mostly because Michael can't really do it yet, and I feel not happy about leaving him home alone. Doesn't seem fair. But I have a conference to go to, so that means that the college will pay a lot of my expenses, so it's just too good an opportunity to go. We're going to see a couple of shows, and go here for dinner one night, and go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and maybe some other museums... and roam around, depending on the weather. (Last time we were there, we walked and walked and ended up somewhere I'd never seen before, and it was freezing cold, and we were starving, and we stumbled into this little Indian restaurant and they gave us tons of food and the best steaming hot chai, and, wow, it was wonderful.) And maybe see a friend of my mother's, if the fact that my total social awkwardness and failure to email her until this morning doesn't screw that up. (Sigh. How old do I have to be before I stop being shy? I'm starting to think that the answer is, "older than you will ever get.")

Anyway. For me, the really big question is, can I go to NYC for four days and still eat like a reasonable person? (Definition of a reasonable person: someone who does not see the "away from home" excuse as a reason to stuff all sorts of crap into her face.)

Last summer, after my mother died and I was flying back and forth to Baltimore all the time to help deal with her stuff, I'd eat the way I should for a few days, and then I'd get sick of saying, "sorry, I can't eat that" to my sisters all the time, and I'd just cave. Which might be kinda sorta fine if I enjoyed it at all. But the problem is that high carb food and too much food of any kind makes me feel sick... after the fact... but that pleasure sensor in my brain is just too stupid to figure that out some of the time. (Vivid memory: letting myself get way too hungry, then caving in and having Mexican food, mostly tortilla chips and sugary margaritas, and just being more sick than I've ever felt in my life.)

This time I have a little more control, in theory anyway, and I can head off the being hungry before it gets out of control, and really I have the tools to be moderate about this if I can just keep focused. This doesn't mean that I have to be perfect, but it does mean that I have to be careful and cognizant, recognize that my real weakness is letting myself get overly hungry, and remember that I choose to eat this way because it makes me feel better.

Plus I've fought really hard to start losing weight again, and I'd just as soon not gain it all back in four days.

Which means I have to not do dumb things. These dumb things include (1) the too hungry thing, (2) getting annoyed at how hard it is to eat low carb at fast food places unless you want to strip the bun off the burger and try to eat the patty without dripping grease all over yourself (ugh), (3) other stuff I will think of later.


Quiche/protein shake
Then I was at school all day and didn't eat anything... note that part above where I said that stuff about getting too hungry? Have I mentioned lately that I am an idiot?
Came home starving and nibbled on random food, violating all rules as I (1) didn't take a picture, (2) didn't pay attention, (3) didn't even sit down. I had some leftover pork, and some cheese and crackers, and probably too much of all of the above.
Then we had tilapia and green beans for dinner. I had a sugar-free chocolate. I had some more cheese. Why, you ask? See above. I am an idiot.

Just to relieve the dullness of all of this, I am throwing in a picture of Mint Julep, my stuffed sheep, who will probably be coming along to NY. It's a long story. And note the cool traveling hat that Michael's friend made for him!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Glass. More is... More. And Sunday Food.

Wow. Glass makes me happy. I forget that.

I think that everyone's got a thing or two that just keys right into their core, and glass is that for me. Glass and enamel, vitreous things. If I had my life to do over again, I would have apprenticed as a glassblower, I think, or gone to art school somewhere that I could have studied glass working.

It's funny... my mother used to look at me and sigh and say, "I always thought you should have been an artist." This used to annoy the hell out of me, because I heard that as "I don't value what you actually do." Which may or may not have been correct, but still. (Total aside... I've heard people say about people who are dead... "this thing that they used to do that annoyed me; I just wish that they were still here to do that now." I do not feel that way. These sorts of things still make me angry and hurt. Yes, I should just let it go. No, I don't know how to do that yet.) But I'm terrible at the kinds of art that I was presented with at school... drawing and painting and so forth; I have minimal talent for them and no drive to succeed. But this... turning molten glass into solid light... this I could have spent a lifetime doing.

Anyway, another thing that I tend to forget is that when I do more, I feel like doing more, if that makes any sense.

I spend a lot of time screwing around and doing nothing, and then being discouraged that nothing is done (surprise!). I've been thinking a lot about the choices I make about what to do with my time, and I mostly think I could just be spending it better. Today I did a lot of things... made some beads, played racquetball, made food for the week (some of it, anyway), finished Michael's green card paperwork, and so on. And I feel a whole lot better than when I sit here and play games and end up with nothing to show for the day.

Better use of time.

Food. Boring.

Breakfast: quiche/protein shake
Then I went and played racquetball. Came back and had a chicken wing segment and a very small slice of cheese and the 3 ounces or so of leftover seafood salad.
Made soup for the week... more broccoli/sausage (my son: "Mom, can we just have a giant soup dispenser so there will always be soup?" Awwww.) But didn't really eat any.
Then we had curry for dinner, with the leftover pork from yesterday, but all of this looked so boringly like things I've made before that I didn't bother to take pictures.
And I had a sugar-free chocolate.

I feel a lot better about what I ate today, so maybe I'll end up ok for the week.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Everything Wants to Be Round. And Saturday food.

I was reading MizFit's blog yesterday and thinking about vision and gratitude boards and so forth, and about the amount of time I spend these days in activities that do not get me closer to any positive goal.

And so I decided to just do something that I've been putting off until the stars align properly and all the right things fall into place... setting up my glass working equipment again.

It's been years, literally, since I've done this... working with glass is the one thing that I've wanted to do practically forever, and about 6 or 7 years ago, I started taking beadmaking classes in Rochester and in Corning, and I finally set up a small studio at home. And I was just starting to feel like I was getting somewhere with this, when just about everything in my life changed, and I moved, and it took a long tiime to get things set up again. When I did, it was winter... and I work in the garage, and although the torch itself is over 2000 degrees, in winter here, it was just too cold. So Michael did the sweetest thing ever two years ago and as a Christmas present, hired someone to partition the garage and insulate it, so I could work in the winter. But the guy who was doing it, the son of a friend, turned out to be... well, "less than competent" would be putting it kindly. This was supposed to take a few weeks, and he finished at the end of last July. By that time... well, that was right after my mother died, and about when all the rounds of Michael being really sick started, and it's seemed like about the last thing that I should be doing. And too much effort to dig everything out and get going, and time that I couldn't afford to give.

So yesterday, I made a vision wall, instead. I tacked up all the pictures I had of glass by Kristina Logan, my personal inspiration, hooked everything up, and made a few beads. Wow, it's been a long time. I have forgotten everything. But it will come back.

Working with glass is a very meditative kind of activity for me. You have to be patient, not something that I do well. Lots of stuff goes through your head. Yesterday, what was going through my head was what one of my teachers said... "everything wants to be round." What she meant was, hot glass will always try to be round, so you have to remember as you're trying to shape it.

But to me, that means something else... it is easiest to be what you are naturally.

It's an extension of something I was thinking about earlier in the week, regarding exercise and food... it's a lot easier to try to follow an eating plan that suits the way you like to eat. Exercise for me got a lot easier when I got over the idea that I had to run, like all my friends, because this is not something that is natural for me. And when you get right down to it, most of the things that cause me pain in my life have to do with trying to be something that I am not, but that I have some notion that I "should" be.

Everything wants to be round. Use what you are naturally to make yourself better.


I am not paying as careful attention as I should.

Quiche/protein shake breakfast.

Then I went off to give a makeup exam, and ran by the grocery store to pick up prescriptions. I brought h
ome some seafood salad for lunch, discovered that Michael had already eaten, and so just tossed a little seafood salad and a couple of chicken wing segments on a plate, and couldn't be bothered to take a picture. Also couldn't be bothered to have the green salad that I'd planned. Yes, I know... I will fuss around if I'm making food for other people, and I won't bother to feed myself properly. Not a Good Thing.

Around 5, we had 2 crackers with a little smoked salmon and some cheese that I'd bought earlier, plus 2 thin round of something billed as "Chianti Wine Salami." Good, not great.

And then dinner was pork shoulder, cauliflower purée, and broccoli with a little Parmesan cheese. The red stuff is a cranberry-walnut sauce, not low carb but there's only about 2 teaspoons of it.

But I nibbled on bits of pork as I was carving, and I ate a few of those little hamburgers I made a couple of days ago (and fed the rest to the dog), and I think I had a chocolate, and I sort of feel like I'm getting back to that not paying attention kind of eating. It's mostly, I think, because I've been sick and so haven't really been exercising, and that tends to make everything else kind of fall apart. This needs to be nipped in the bud now.

And today's bonus picture... a very bad picture of six not-very interesting or symmetrical beads. It's a start.

All About Us ; A Recap

I've been meaning to write a general post that I can link to my profile that tells our story. Some of it, anyway.

We've both found with weight issues all our lives. Ten years ago, I was at my highest weight, around 340, and I lost nearly 120 lbs. then, mostly by spending all my time exercising myself into a stupor so that I could avoid thinking about my disintegrating first marriage. I slowly gained a lot of it back, although fortunately not all of it, and I retained a lot of the good exercise habits that I'd acquired then.

When Michael and I got married in April of 2006, he weighed about 620 lbs., and I weighed 290 lbs.

We immediately started the "perfect" low fat, food pyramid-based diet. We ate about 1500-1800 calories a day, and I wrote down every single thing in a food diary. We ate about 20% fat, tons of fruits and vegetables, whole grains... obsessively and exactly what we were supposed to eat. What we had always been told to eat. And we did this until about the end of 2007.

During this time, Michael got down to about 530, and his weight then bounced up and down and up and down, totally stalling out. I lost 10 lbs, gained 10 lbs, lost 10 lbs... and so on. And all the fat went back and forth into my stomach, which is usually not where I gain weight (let's not discuss my thighs, ok?). Plus I was absolutely exhausted all the time, and we were getting absolutely nowhere.

By the end of 2007, Michael weighed 533 lbs., and I weighed 302. It had been nearly a decade since my weight had been that high, and yet I was eating "better" than I ever had before. And I felt awful.

A friend recommended Gary Taubes' book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, and I started thinking about low carb diets. Then I started reading everything that I could get my hands on about low carb diets, most specifically the Protein Power books by the Drs. Eades. And we started eating low carb. This was an extremely hard sell around here... I'd read enough that I understood the science behind the idea, but it's hard to go from a "fat is bad" lifetime to a "fat is ok" way of thinking. It's taken more than a year for Michael to really buy into it, I think, even though his weight loss has been extraordinary.

But it's been a great thing. First of all, I stopped feeling terrible all the time. I had energy again. I lost about 20 lbs. quickly. And then, I have to say that until recently, the actual weight has been a struggle for me, even though I've eaten consistently low carb. More about that in below. But now I seem to actually be losing weight again.

Michael is the huge success story. By the end of 2008, he'd lost over 100 lbs. At this writing (end of February 2009), he's lost about another 20 more, for a total loss (since 2006) of over 200 lbs. His blood sugar improves all the time (he's a Type 2 diabetic), and his cholesterol and particularly triglyceride readings have improved remarkably.

What do you eat?

A lot of protein. Eggs for breakfast, usually, whey protein shakes, meat, poultry, and a lot of fish (because we love it).

Vegetables. Salad stuff, lower-carb vegetables mostly. But really, we don't worry about the carbs in vegetables a lot. And because Michael is a good English boy and can't live without his peas, we have peas (a legume really) in very limited quantity. We sometimes have very limited amounts of other legumes, like lentils and chickpeas.

Fruit: Not so much. We have fresh berries for dessert a couple of nights a week (and I'm still looking for a good alternative that uses frozen berries, because the fresh ones are so expensive. But we are annoyingly picky.) Michael eats apples, although he's cut those down a lot. We eat watermelon in the summer, and cherries because we love them, but that's about it. We never eat tropical fruit, because it's just so high in sugar.

What don't you eat?

Sugar. Bread. Rice. Potatoes (tiny bits very rarely). Sweet potatoes. Most processed foods; I try to cook nearly everything from scratch, except for things like Jell-O and protein bars, which I don't eat but Michael likes. Tropical fruits. Most sweet things. We go light on milk, which is mostly lactose, so adds up the carbs fast.

How many carbs do you eat in a day?

I don't know. I mostly don't count, because I've found that doing this makes me a little obsessive and weird. But I check every so often, and I try to shoot for 30-40, and I'm happier if I'm below that. Michael eats a little more, but even on a really "bad" day, he's probably around 80.

So why haven't you lost more weight?

Because, really, until recently I haven't paid a lot of attention to it. 2008 was all about my mother's terminal illness. And so while I ate low-carb faithfully and consistently, I didn't really pay that much attention to I ate. And it is a myth that you can eat any volume of food that you want on a low-carb diet. But I didn't gain any weight, either, and for me, that's a huge victory. It's the only major life crisis that I've ever been through that didnt result in another 25 lbs. Sometimes not gaining is losing, if that makes any sense.

But the strange thing is, I look like I've lost far more weight than I have. One of the benefits of a low carb diet is that your body tends to reshape. You lose weight around your stomach, one of the signs of insulin resistance, and you just look better. So, sure, I'd be happier if I'd lost more. But I will. So that's ok.

Do you think that everyone should eat this way?

I don't think that everyone should do anything. Except maybe breathe. I think that we are all different; we have different tastes and preferences, different bodies, different genetic predispositions, different behavioral issues. I think that losing weight and maintaining weight loss and fitness are very individual things, and there is absolutely no one formula that works for everyone. The most important thing is to find a formula that fits well for you and that you can maintain for the rest of your life. This one is pretty easy for me, because I like protein foods, and I cook all the time, and I have a strong, strong motivation to maintain it. I also think that it's hard to lose a lot of weight on a low fat diet (although certainly, people do it) because hunger is much more of a issue.

But I suppose that I do think that everyone would be better off with a lower carb diet than is typical in America today. The processed white stuff does nothing good for your body, and a lot of things that purport to be whole grains are not really much better than the processed equivalent. I think we'd all do better cooking more for ourselves, eating out less, eating less prepared food, and eating more locally-grown fresh stuff. (This is hard to do in upstate NY in the winter.)

What is the hardest thing about eating low carb?

For me, two things. One is that it's annoyingly hard to eat out at fast food places. Yes, you can have burgers without buns, but it's messy and fussy. It's hard to find something to just grab at the grocery store, although this is getting easier. There's also almost nothing at a convenience store that you can eat, unless you want nuts and cheese... and that gets a little high-calorie pretty fast. (It's actually pretty easy to eat out at most sit-down restaurants, though... just tell them to skip the potatoes and give you double the vegetables.)

The other is living low carb in a high carb world. People aren't well informed about a healthy low-carb diet (example: one of my students said, "My roommate went on Atkins. She ate nothing but peanut butter." Huh?), and constantly tell you that you're insane. This is tiresome. Package labeling often doesn't tell you what you want to know. Everything comes with bread.

These things actually get easier with time and practice.

What's the best thing about eating low carb?

Not being hungry all the time. More energy. Less stomach. Not fussing at Michael about what he's eating or not eating. Not feeling guilty about eating things that I love, like cheese. Being able to cook wonderful food. Eating in a way that makes moderation and portion control a lot easier for me.

What else would you like to know?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Green Card Madness. And Friday Food.

We almost have all the green card stuff together, except for things that need copying or updating and one more thing that needs to come in the mail. I am pretty sure that this is all a formality... but I really think that, apart from things like serious accidents, terminal illness, and possibly nasty divorces, about the most stressful thing that you can go through is the whole immigration process. It makes you crazy like nothing else. It's kind of like labor in that everyone's got a long story about it, some of them awful and worrying, and there genuinely are a lot of things that can go wrong. Getting Michael's K-1 visa... the visa that let him come to the US to get married... took more than six months, cost a lot of money, and stressed us both out beyond belief. And this was coming from a country that they don't scrutinize hard (the UK). If you're coming from somewhere like Iraq, or if you come from a country like China where names are similar so background checks can take decades... well, magnify our stress by thousands. And then after you get married, you have to file loads more paperwork to get your conditional green card, and then 2 years later, you have to file it all again, because something could have gone wrong with your marriage, or it could have been fake to begin with... and besides, then USCIS gets to charge you another filing fee and another biometrics fee. But at least after this, you're basically DONE. Another year and he can apply for citizenship, and then no more paperwork, forever. And a lot of other things, like financial forms, get easier too, because to own asset accounts, if you're not a U.S. citizen, you have to fill out all sorts of things.

And we're both assuming that this is straightforward, but you never know, and because you don't know, it makes you a little crazy. Hopefully we can send this off on Monday. And then we just wait wait wait for about six or seven months, I think.

Food. Really boring, and no pictures.

Quiche for breakfast. Must make more tomorrow.
Leftover chicken curry for lunch.
Got home from the statistics exam ready to eat anything not nailed down, and had 3.5 oz. salmon leftover from last night.
And then we had shrimp stir fry for dinner, which looked exactly like the pic I took last week, so I was too lazy to take a picture of it.
A sugar-free chocolate.
And somewhere along the line, I had a couple of the tiny hamburgers I made the other day.

Tomorrow... if I have time... I need to do my big cooking for the week. Make soup and Jell-O and chicken wings and quiche. Which is going to be a little hard to fit in since I have to give makeup exams and maybe play racquetball if I am not coughing my lungs out. The sore throat is gone, I think, so I'm hopeful.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eek. And Thursday food.

I have just realized that all the paperwork for Michael's permanent green card has to be in next week. I was thinking that we had a couple of weeks yet. This is a HUGE big deal, and we've kind of dropped the ball on it with everything else going on.


Quiche for breakfast. Then we spent all morning doing hardly anything and talking about how much we
really didn't want to go to Rochester. We finally decided that smart people would have lunch before they went anywhere, so I had this salad with four chicken wing segments.

It was absolutely frigid in Rochester... maybe 27, but -800 with the wind chill. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it sure felt like it. By 4 pm we were hungry again, and I was grocery shopping, and so we had
some of these smoked salmon pinwheels, which I have to say turn out to be a good calorie/carb deal if not a great price deal. Half of the package (of 12) is about 130 calories and almost no carbs, and they're yummy. The really great thing about this, in my mind, is that Michael was happy to have something low carb and snacky, rather than something like a sandwich. This way of eating... and the recognition that his blood sugar levels matter, too... have been a very hard sell over the last year, but all of a sudden, he's tuning in to this, and it helps me, too. (We skipped the unnecessary latté that we usually get because he said, we really don't need the carbs. You have no idea what a huge thing this really is.)

Got home and sata around playing with my new toy and arguing (cordially) about why there aren't any good bands any more. Next thing I know, it's nearly 7 pm, and I'm starving and absolutely chilled to the bone freezing cold. Sometimes things remind you sharply that a calorie is a unit of heat. I had a 1.5 ounce hambur
ger that I'd cooked earlier, and then made dinner.

This is salmon with a maple chipotle mustard glaze, beans, and baby spinach wilted with garlic
and a touch of sour cream, and I have to say that it was fantastic.

I had a sugar-free chocolate, but the idea is that I'm not having anything else tonight, so I'm posting this now.

And here's how hard it was to type this morning, with a needy cat who refused to separate himself from my arm....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Food Catch-up

Ok, I have gotten seriously behind on posting the photo food diary because I have been spending every waking hour playing Jewelquest on the iTouch very, very busy with work.

So I am going to do a quick catch-up here; I realize that it doesn't matter that much, but this accountability thing for me is huge at the moment.

Tuesday: quiche as usual, and then I had a lovely salad for lunch with some of the leftover tilapia from Monday night, and we had chicken curry for dinner, which I have to say was about the best curry I've made in ages. Unfortunately, I realize that I totally can't remember anything else that I ate all day, which just makes me realize how important it is for me to do this right away every day instead of screwing around.

Wednesday we had to get up way earlier than we usually do, doctor's appointments in Rochester for both of us. So we grabbed quiche and tea and had a small latté later at Starbucks, and I had a summer roll for lunch (picture a week or so ago). I wish I knew the nutritional information on those (although it would undoubtedly be better if I skipped the sweet chili sauce). I'm guessing that they're better than the little sushi rolls, my alternate quick grocery store food, but I don't really know that for sure. Anyway, we ran way late, so I only got half of what I needed to do done, and we are probably off back there today. We had skate and cauliflower for dinner, but I think that all in all, I probably did more nibbling on the side than I was really paying attention to. My weight is up half a pound today, which is probably more likely water retention than anything else, but I really feel like I need to be focused focused focused on this at the moment, so I am taking it seriously.

And getting back to doing this every day.

I just wish I'd get really well again; I'm still coughing my lungs out half the time. Doctor says this is nothing and it will go away, but I would like to know WHEN.


As of today, Michael has lost just slightly more than 200 lbs.

Which is amazing enough that I can't think of anything else to say about it right now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday food, and a low-carb cooking show

The trouble is that I have been spending all my time playing with my new iTouch toy. This is really a cool toy, but the problem is that there are many thing in my life that I should be doing besides playing JewelQuest. Or looking for fun apps. But maybe after I get over my obsession with this stupid game, I'll try the exercise things that I also downloaded. If I every get healthy; I still have this endless sore throat/chest congestion cold. It's been a week... when is this thing supposed to be over?

Anyway, it was a great weight week. Down 4 lbs., and for someone whose weight has been stalled in a major way for a long time, that's paradise. I think that the combination of posting the food pics here and spending some time really thinking about some of the cognitive stuff (plus distracting myself playing this silly game) is actually working. I hope, anyway. I would really like to see this continue.

It was a weird day yesterday.

We had quiche for breakfast, but skipped the protein shake because we are trying to eliminate anything that might be setting off Michael's mouth ulcers... so I make him one without the liquid vitamins, etc., that I usually put in, and I couldn't be bothered to make another for me. So I had 3 chicken wing segments before I went to school, and skipped my usual last-class-of-the-day Not Food South Beach bar.

Came home, and Michael fed me some cold quiche. I also had about 2 ounces of goat cheese (probably not quite that much) on a cracker before dinner.

For dinner we had tilapia, beans, and the rest of the Brussels sprouts (ok, I was getting seriously tired of them).

I had a sugar free chocolate, and just before bed, I had a couple of crackers and two bits of cheese, trying to settle my stomach. Probably could have skipped those. The crackers are not a good thing; they are pretty low carb but they add up.

For any other low-carb fans out there... I stumbled across an actual low-carb cooking show last night on FitTV. It's Blaine's Low-Carb Kitchen, and the web site, with recipes, is here. I was partly kind of stunned to see a low-carb cooking show, since the only other one I know of is the Eades' show, Cookworx, which sometimes shows on PBS. Anyway, this show was ok. The host is likeable, and is losing weight on a low-carb diet and talks about it, and the recipes look pretty good, although yesterday he was cooking all desserts. He did say, even though these are low carb, they are treats. Not to eat every day. (It's unfortunate that the recipes list carbs but not calories, too... I mean, most low-carb people don't count calories, but keeping an eye on general ranges is, I think, a good idea.) I am also not a fan of what I think of as pseudo-carb recipes... substitutes for things that you would otherwise eat; it's why I'm not such a fan of the Dreamfields pasta, though we do eat it sometimes. If you have, say, low-carb cake, that send the "cake is ok" message, and personally, I do better with just, "cake is not ok." But not everyone is me, and some people have way more of an issue with not being able to eat particular foods than I do. Anyway, I thought the show (and the site, which has smart recipes that look good) was well worth a look. I'll try cooking some of these later. He uses a lot of soy flour, not something I ever cook with, but I'm game to give it a try.

Monday, February 16, 2009

No-Picture Sunday

Today just kind of got away from me.

Here's my quickie food list...

Quiche/protein shake

When I got back from racquetball, I had leftover bok choy and shrimp from Friday, just a little.

Then about 4 p.m., I kind of lost it because I was feeling miserable, and Michael had gone back to bed, and I had about 8 chicken wing segments and the rest of the pork rinds, a couple of ounces. I realize that in the grand scheme of bad eating, this is not exactly huge, but it was the motivation behind it... that drive to bury my head in food... that really bothered me. That's the thing I'd like to get past once and for all.

Then we had fish chowder for dinner. And I had a sugar-free chocolate.

And my weight is up 0.7 Monday morning... but I'm still down 4 lbs. for the week, so I can live with that.

I still have this stupid sore throat... I get better and worse and better and worse. Weirdest cold ever. But if my throat doesn't get better, I don't know how I'm going to teach today... and I really have to because there are exams in all my classes towards the end of the week.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Food and Things

I am not on the whole a fan of what I'd call gratuitous holidays that are over-hyped as having tremendous significance and so on. But I have to say that it is absolutely delightful to be married to someone who goes to the trouble to think about doing something really nice for you.

I try not to bitch and moan about my marital past, because... well, it's the past, and we both tried, although not, I have to say, in compatible ways. And he was/is a good guy in a lot of ways. But one of the things that I found consistently most difficult is that he would never make any effort at all about holidays of any kind... birthdays, even. Not even to wish you a happy birthday or something like that. And after a while... you get stuck between feeling really petty for caring and feeling really hurt that he couldn't make the effort to just pick you a flower or something. So after decades of really dreading everything like a holiday because it just made me feel bad, it is such a happy thing not to do that. It's finally getting me to the point where I almost relax about these things and can just be happy with the moment and whatever comes in it... which is really the thing I suppose that I wish I could do to with everything.

Anyway, this year he gave me an iTouch, which I have been secretly coveting for ages despite loving my iPod Shuffle which is tiny and great for walking and the gym. And I mention this mainly because I discovered the Most Great thing that this can do... receive hundreds of public radio stations. I had no idea, and this is something that has just driven me crazy for fifteen years. We live in a valley, and the nearest public radio stations are about 40 miles away and have weak receivers, and you can't pick them up at all at night, especially the AM station that has the news programs that I like. I have tried just everything... better radios. HD radios. Antennas. Internet (doesn't work well because the internet connection is not good enough to stream well, although this seems not to be an issue with the ). Sitting in my car for hours. Screaming with frustration. Downloading podcasts. It's this thing that should be just simple, and every solution I've found has been annoying as hell. So I am just absolutely delighted that it seems like this is going to let me actually listen to NPR again. Intelligent news. Bliss. And such a cool present.


Quiche/protein shake.

5 chicken wing segments that passed for lunch.
And then I got involved playing with the iTouch (which I can see is also going to be a great way to totally waste time), and didn't eat anything until late... had an ounce of cheese on a cracker before dinner, and then dinner was this...

salmon glazed with mustard, leftover Brussels sprouts from yesterday, and Dreamfield's pasta with a little butter and Parmesan cheese. And I had a sugar-free chocolate. Michael's mouth is still driving him crazy, hence the pasta again. I am not crazy about this stuff... that is, I like it, but pasta is really kind of a trigger food for me, and so I prefer just not to eat it, even if it supposedly has only 5 digestable carbs or whatever. (And I think we're going to be seeing those Brussels sprouts for another day or two... I cooked a LOT of them. I went to the grocery store with my son and explained to him how to pick out Brussels sprouts, and left him there while I was getting some other produce. Came back and he had this huge bag. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it was about twice as much as I had in mind, after he'd carefully picked through. It's a good thing we all like these.)

I also kept getting up all night because I felt awful and nibbled on kind of a lot of pork rinds, because, weirdly, they actually settle my stomach. [weight: -1.8]

All in all, a really nice Valentine's. Even better than the iTouch was the card that Michael made himself. I don't think anyone has ever made me a card before.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday... Clothes and Complaints and Food and... Everything!

Ugh. I still seem to be sick. That throat thing that made me whiny on Tuesday has recurred with a vengeance, and so here we are... whiny part II. The sequel. I need to be healthy! At least by Sunday, because I'm playing racquetball with my old r-ball buddy who I haven't really seen in ages. So, cold needs to be gone, hip needs to be ok.

Anyway... all sort of not-exactly-fascinating things are happening. The first one... ok, this is marginally exciting for me... is that I actually found a bra that fits (you were really expecting something better, weren't you?). I stumbled across something the other day that was talking about how something like 6 out of 10 women wear bras that don't fit properly, which made me think about the fact that none of my bras really fit properly... and so I started ordering bras looking for something that Actually Fit. The trouble with bras, as any woman knows, is that you can have exactly the same size, different brand, and it will fit totally differently and probably not right, and this is worse in larger sizes which are harder to fit properly. I am not posting my bra size here, but if you're a full-figured lass, try a brand that I've never heard of... Elomi. They turn out to be a UK company, but you can get them through Bare Necessities, and I have to say that this bra fits better than anything I've tried on in my entire life. Not inexpensive, but I'm thinking, worth it.

Not if I can only find a pair of jeans that fit... this my other issue, because I have relatively fat thighs and a relatively narrow waist, and so things that fit my thighs are far too large at the waist, and this is only made worse by the current below-the-natural-waist styles. Honestly, you'd think that clothing designers would figure out that making a larger size does not just mean scaling up everything in the same proportion. It's not like making a model train. People do NOT get fat proportionately in all the same places. You should see some of the worst t-shirts that we had when Michael was at his fattest. Body fit fine, arms looked like a bat costume.

Another consumer topic... on some cooking show I was watching the other night, someone said that if a customer likes a restaurant, s/he will tell 3 or 4 people, but if s/he hates a restaurant, s/he will tell 7-8 people. You'd really think that this would lead people to think a bit more about the impact of customer service. Here is my "don't go there" rant... but it's furniture, not food.

Last summer we bought a La-Z Boy lift chair at a local (Rochester, NY) furniture store called Furniture Fair. I can't quite tell if they're part of a larger chain or not. The actual buying experience was great; I had nothing but nice things to say about them, and I had planned to go back there soon, when our remodeling is done. About three weeks ago, the chair broke. Just stopped working. It's under warranty, so I called the store for service. They got the (very nice) technician out right away, and, ok, it was going to take a little while to get the part from La-Z Boy, but I was ok with that, not their fault. And then everything went to hell. They promised to call when the part had been ordered. No call. So I called the next week. The part had come in the day before, and no one noticed. They said they would schedule the technician. Technician comes in to get the part, discovers that they ordered the wrong thing. They reorder and assure me that it will be in by (last) Friday. No call. I call Wednesday... no part, but it is expected Thursday. When? We don't know, because they have no idea when their deliveries come. Huh? I know when my deliveries usually come, and I bet they get things more regularly than I do! Finally nice tech guy calls, about 8 p.m. last night, to say he will be coming Friday evening. I am just hoping that he's right about what this is and that the chair actually gets fixed. But the real thing that I have an issue about is the whole attitude of everyone (except the tech guy) about this. "It's not my fault." "We can't do anything." "It's not our problem." All delivered with a tone of "leave me alone, lady, I've heard this a million times before, and I just don't care." Especially from the guy who seems to be the manager. I do realize that they have limited ability to magically acquire parts... although ordering them correctly would help. But attitude... sympathy especially when you have a customer who is frantically worried... says a lot. I won't walk in the door of the place again, because I know how I'll be treated if there's ever any kind of real problem. It's this kind of thing that's the difference between a single sale and repeat customers.

Ok, rant done.


Quiche/protein shake breakfast.

I am absolutely starving today.... or at least my head thinks that I am. So after Michael went back to bed for a while, not feeling great, I had this... which is pork rinds and 3 chicken wing segments but should be better titled GUILT because I really don't think I need to be eating this. Which is kind of why I took a picture of it. But, I suppose that it's at least good that I did take a picture, and that I sat down and ate it rather than nibbling from the refrigerator.

Then for lunch, I had this salad, which is all greens and stuff plus some chicken from last night.

Before dinner, I had a cracker with about 1/2 ounce of cheese, and a glass of red wine.

And then for dinner, I had Brussels sprouts sautéed with a little bacon (an idea I stole from the latest Jacques Pépin book), shrimp in a light cream and sundried tomato sauce, and just a little Dreamfields pasta, which is a low-carb pasta. I am kind of wary of this stuff even though it is supposed to have very few digestable carbs, and on the whole I think it's better to wean
yourself off this kind of thing rather than replace it with synthetic substitutes, but Michael is having some canker sore issues, and so soft stuff like pasta is a lot better for him.

Weight: +0.4, doesn't surprise me at all

I have been thinking hard about cognitive stuff about food behavior lately. The trouble with this is that it's very hard to talk about. Not emotionally hard, but difficult to convey in a way that doesn't just sound stupid. It's all kind of like when you have a few too many gin and tonics and realize that you've figured out the secret of the universe, so you write it down... and in the morning, you read the paper, and it says, wow, friends are nice. Or something equally inane. This all kind of seems like this to me.

I've been dieting all of my life. Since I was about 8, anyway (and, yeah, you could well argue that if a slightly chubby eight-year old had not been constantly hounded about weight, she might have naturally outgrown that, and there might have been a far different story). I cannot remember a time, ever, when I was at the weight that I wanted to be, and I'm not talking some unrealistic weight, just, say, what the doctor would think reasonable. I am not a petite little thing; I come of good peasant stock, and the thin women in my family weigh about 160-180 lbs. I have probably tried every diet known to man. I have invented my own diets. I have read about compulsive eating and binge eating and psychological disorders and so on. The last time I really approached my target weight, I was 13 years old... although I came close about 10 years ago, maybe 40 lbs. away. And I've been a lot fatter and a lot more out of shape than I am now. I am probably 100 lbs. above my target weight, but I beat my 20 year old students at racquetball.

But I would like this all to be done one day, and not because I am dead. Because I am at or near that target weight, and because I am done with these constant food issues. I have been working on this hard for the nearly three years that Michael and I have been married, because, let's face it, I do loads better with accountability. But it's only been lately that I'm starting to feel like something fundamental is changing.

I have to say that the thing that really set this change in motion is reading the Beck Diet Solution, which I talked about here before. I have not read all of the book, and I have not done most of the things that you're supposed to do, and I admit it, I am a terrible student. I think I'm smarter than the book, I have little patience with rules, and while I realize that you must practice cognitive change to make it work, I think I've spent enough years on this to have some insights about what I do and do not need to do (I know, you could argue that if I really knew that, I wouldn't be here, but still...). I also think that everyone is different, and that although there are commonalities, it is hard to find a set of characteristics that applies to ALL people who are, let's say, unsuccessful dieters.

But there's this one thing that just slammed home to me, and I said this before, but I'll say it again... it's the idea that people without food issues don't see hunger as a crisis, a problem that has to be solved, don't see cravings as something that need dealing with, don't obsess over food. And sometimes the solution to something is absolutely all in how you think about it... just like, yesterday, I psyched myself into feeling claustrophobic during the massage, even though there was absolutely nothing that should have triggered that. And since I've been thinking about this "hunger is not a crisis" idea, it's been a thousand times easier to recognize this for what it is.... that I can walk away from the need to do something about this thing that is not truly a problem.

This is kind of profound for me, but like I said, it sounds sort of stupid. Like, duh, what kind of revelation is it that you can recognize that you're not starving?
And this is my other cat, who is neurotic as hell but adorable when asleep.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Massage Update. And Thursday food.

I'm sure that you're all out there going, awwww, she has to go for a massage that she really doesn't want, oh poor baby. I know this sounds ridiculous. But I have to say that I spent all morning being insanely nervous about this.

And it was ok, mostly.

I have to say, I am probably not going to be down on the list of people who find this the most wonderful thing ever.... although I can see how it could really grow on you. It was nice. My head did not chatter too much, except for the last ten minutes when my claustrophobia kicked in, and I started feeling like I couldn't move, and got kinda sorta irrationally panicky. Honestly... who panics during a massage? Isn't this the absolute reverse of what you should do?

But the really good thing is that Massage Person Christina turns out also to be a personal trainer, and I signed Michael up for a massage next week (I'm not entirely sure that he's going to be able to get on the table, but the only way to find out is to try), and maybe that will turn out really well... and maybe she will have some good suggestions about trying to get him more mobile. I liked her. She was peaceful and knowledgeable. And I do think that people come into your life at particular times for particular reasons, so I'm hopeful.

I still think that this is so not me... but I can see how it would be good for me to become a person who was a little more able to be good at relaxation time. And I have to say that finding a personal trainer really would be me, the me I'd like to be anyway.

Food... the usual quiche and protein shake. On request from Michael, I got lattés on the way home from the massage place, and then I had some seafood salad and green salad that looked exactly like the picture a couple of days ago, so I was too lazy to photograph it. I nibbled on probably too many pork rinds and two chicken wing segments while waiting for Real Dinner to cook.

Real Dinner was chicken thighs and green beans, not exactly exciting. Michael just had a protein shake for dinner because his mouth is bothering him... and yet his blood sugar is, for him, quite high. How can your blood sugar leap up when you're not eating anything? There's clearly something I don't understand here. (And on another note, Blogger rotated this picture when it uploaded again. Why does this happen?)

Anyway, I had a sugar-free chocolate, and now we're off to bed.

Weight: (-0.7 lbs)

Oops! Now the stegosaurus is concerned about his weight, too!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This Is SO Not Me. And Wednesday food.

I am taking MizFit's words of wisdom to heart this week and trying to either do things that are Not Me or that are What I Want to Be. Mostly I have to say that this has involved making a lot of phone calls that I didn't want to make because I am absurdly phone-phobic. Not about talking on it, just about making calls.

But I came in Monday, and Michael was flipping through the local paper, and he said, look, they're doing a Valentine special at this spa, how about I buy you an hour and fifteen minute massage?

My instant thought: what on earth would I do for an hour and fifteen minutes while someone was massaging me? Couldn't I be doing something useful with this time?

I am pretty sure that this says something fairly significant about my degree of mind/body connection and how poorly I understand the concept of relaxation and how I do badly when I don't have something to occupy my brain.

Then I thought, this is So Not Me. So I should probably give it a go. So I said yes. But this is tomorrow, and now I'm back to thinking, what am I going to DO during this massage? I am kind of nervous about it. Ok, very nervous about it. I think that this is not they way that you're supposed to feel. This seems like a chore that I have to get through rather than something that will give me pleasure. I'm sure I'm wrong about this. Or I hope so, anyway.


Today was a teaching day. We had quiche and protein shake for breakfast. Then I had a South Beach protein bar for "lunch"... wow, I am SO over how sweet these things are. They were a guilty pleasure for a moment because I rarely eat grains or very sweet things, but now I'm just back to thinking, ick. But the sweetness gives me just enough zip to get through my last class. I bet that says nothing good about what my blood sugar is doing after eating these. Yes, Not Real Food.

And I came home and ate a chicken wing segment and about an ounce of cheese on a cracker and a tablespoon of hummus.

For dinner we had about 8 oz. salmon (too much), baby bok choy sautéed with garlic, and a few green and yellow beans. For some reason that I can't figure out at all, Blogger wants to rotate this image 180 degrees, which makes it look kind of odd, not a big deal but why is it doing it?

And I had a sugar-free chocolate and some blackberries and raspberries.

Weight: (-1.3)

Today's bonus picture.... my cat snuggles up to a stuffed sheep.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday food. Bleah.

Bleah. I am sick. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and that kind of feverish feeling you get when you've got the flu. I am not a happy bunny. I'm great at injury and stuff like that, but being sick turns me into a whiny annoyed baby, especially when it's like this, sick but not so sick that you just want to sleep.

And I've been craving junk food all day.

Probably because I've been sitting around all day scanning a novel whose ending I could see coming halfway through, watching bad TV, and reading everything I can think of on the computer. I am so bored I could scream.

So, food.

Quiche and protein shake as usual. But Michael heated up the quiche this morning, and he'd been rummaging in the refrigerator before that, so he added a little of the leftover steak from Sunday to the plate... maybe 3 oz.? A weird combination, I have to say. He has been moving around a lot more these day few days, which from an overall health point of view is great, but he also keeps handing me food, and I'm not quite sure what to do about it. Today I've had 2 small slices of Cheddar, 2 crackers with hummus, 2 chicken wing segments, and a bowl of soup from Sunday. The soup was the only one of those things that I made. I think I need to start slipping things to the dog...

For dinner, we had beef stir-fry. Light on the beef, heavy on the lower-carb vegetables, so I feel ok about this.

Then we had some dessert. If you read about the great Jell-O pudding experiment, I have an update.... BAD idea. This very pretty dessert picture is the almond milk version of the instant pudding with a few berries.

The trouble is, the pudding, which tasted really ok when I made it, became incredibly bitter as it sat for a day. The runny soy milk version was not a lot better, so I tossed all of it. And had a sugar-free chocolate.

I am just hoping that I feel a lot better tomorrow. I had the day off teaching, fortunately, but I have two lectures tomorrow, and if my throat doesn't feel better, it is not going to be fun.

And here's a bonus picture of the dog, who I think is going to be getting some extra snacks... although what he really needs is a good brushing.
If you enjoyed the Aristotle quote yesterday, here's a related one... "We become just by performing just action, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave action." This week, I am thinking, perhaps I can become more at peace by performing more peaceful actions.

Weight Wednesday a.m. -2.2

Monday food and Aristotelian musings

Oh, ugh, it was not a good food day yesterday, not really. And I don't have pictures much, either, except one gorgeous dinner pic.

So yesterday was a quiche-making, and I tried making two at once, to save some later in the week time, but I'm not sure that this really was a time-saver. It's pretty quick to make this anyway, and doubling the recipe just made it fiddly and something I actually had to think about.

We had quiche and protein shake for breakfast as usual. This morning I made the protein shake with soy milk instead of almond, which was not a great idea, double the calories and not really a taste improvement. I'd bought some soy milk for the great Jell-O pudding experiment...which I'll digress to tell you about here, on the off chance that anyone else cares about this. Michael likes those Jell-O sugar free pudding cups, but they always seem to me to be a huge money ripoff, so I started making the sugar-free instant pudding at home, really easy. But then I noticed that if you make this at home, it's actually about double the carbs of the cups (the sweetners are different, but I can't really tell why else). So I thought, let's try making this with a lower-carb alternative like soy milk or almond milk. I tested this Sunday with the sugar-free white chocolate pudding and unsweetened vanilla almond and soy milk. Result: Both way taste great, actually better than the original pudding, in my opinion. But the almond milk thickens the pudding about 60% of what it should be, and the soy milk thickens it not at all, so you have yummy vanilla/white chocolate soup. I have absolutely no idea why this happens, and if anyone understands the chemistry, I'd really like to know.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program...

Quiche and protein shake for breakfast. Then they were having a lunch thing at school, so I had some sliced roast beef (hard to guess how much? Couldn't take a picture. Maybe 4-6 oz.) and two slices of Swiss cheese. Then say through a meeting with a plate of chocolate chip cookies behind me, breathing chocolate aroma. I did not have any cookies (ok, partly because I know that the campus food servce cookies smell great but are actually pretty nasty), but it made me think a lot about how much easier it is to maintain eating the way that I prefer to when I'm not in a room filled with chocolate aroma and people eating potato chips. Got home and was hungry, and instead of eating something sensible, I ended up picking at things until dinner... a chicken wing segment, a couple of slices of leftover steak from the other night, a spoonful of hummus.... and I didn't take pictures...

And then for dinner, we had this lovely curry. Excellent, but I have to say, with chickpeas and tomatoes, more carbs than I'd prefer. And then I nibbled a slice of cheese and a few pork rinds before bed, and that's really got to go. I can't say that I'm at all happy with what I ate yesterday.

So I've been doing this photo food thing for a week, and I'm trying to figure out if it's doing some kind of good. On the plus side... my weight was down 2.5 lbs. for the week, and I've been having a terrible time losing weight at all, so that's pretty good. It's also deterring me from eating extra crap (although we have to give me a big FAIL for that yesterday). And I feel better. But as always, if this makes any sense, I'm having a hard time connecting exactly what I eat with how my weight changes. So I think I'm going to add the change in my weight for the day (Monday, +0.9). I realize that there are a lot of issues about charting daily weight and that a lot of fluctuations are random, but let's see if it makes any difference. I also think that there's a portion size issue here. I mean, look at the curry. I know it's hard to get any sense of scale (plus ravenous teenage boy ate twice that plus rice), and it was my only real meal of the day, but still, I wonder if I should be eating half of that.

On another note... MizFit's comment yesterday reminded me of the Aristotle quote, "
Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way." (Yes, I had to look that up, and in the process, realized that Aristole said a lot of good stuff that I either didn't realize was attributed to him or I had totally forgotten. Check it out here.) There are, I suppose, lots of ways to read and think about that, but I think about it two ways... first, that when we act in particular ways repeatedly, we reinforce those actions until we become that thing. Secondly, if we want to be something different, we need to behave in different ways... and what we are will follow. I quit smoking years ago by choosing to act like a nonsmoker. I can choose now to act like what I want to be. Although some days, it's hard to know what that is...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday food

So, quiche and protein shake as usual.

Then we went out errand-running, and had a tall whole milk latté at Starbucks (I stole this picture from them because I liked it). A rare treat, 14 carbs, really too many. This is not going to turn out to be a great carb day.

Came home and had this, which is salad plus about 4 ounces of seafood salad from the store (surimi, mostly).

Somehow we didn't notice the time until about 6 again, and so I started dinner, which took a while, and had a cracker and about 1/2 ounce cheese (same stuff as yesterday except half the amount, about 3 carbs).

For dinner, we had our fussy meal of the week... I've been trying to actually make something new every week; this is miso-glazed steak and oyster mushrooms. With it are some green beans and just a few very thin-sliced roasted potatoes, something we rarely eat at all, but it seemed like the thing to have with this. It's funny... I was thinking as I was slicing the potatoes paper-thin with the mandoline... I used to make potatoes like this, and for three of us, I'd slice, oh, maybe six potatoes. Tonight I sliced one medium-sized potato, and Michael and I each had, oh, maybe 1/4 of it, and my son had the rest, and that seemed like an absolute ton of potatoes. It's funny how things change. The steak, too... I sliced a 1 lb. steak and portioned it between the three of us, again mostly to my son. There was a time when probably we would each have eaten a steak that size. Which, I suppose, explains a lot... but still. We live in a vastly over-portioned world. Go out to dinner here, and the most common steak choice is a New York strip... and it's going to be 8 ounces, or maybe 16, and you're going to eat it, right? Because it's there.

Anyway, this recipe was terrific... it's from Rocco DiSpirito's cookbook, Flavor... written before he became totally commercially saturated. It's a 2003 book, but it looks so weirdly dated that if you picked it up at a flea market, you'd swear that it was printed in the 60s or 70s (something to think about when writing a cookbook... really, pass on the cute graphics and pick something classic!). The steak is seared, then miso-glazed and roasted, and served with a sauce of oyster mushrooms. Very good, and quite easy, although it was about an hour prep time all in all.

I had a sugar-free chocolate for dessert, and since I am planning on not eating anything stupid and nonessential tonight, I'm just going to post this.

Spicy Broccoli and Italian Sausage Soup

This is an accidental recipe that came out so well that it's worth writing down! I started out with this terribly freezer-burned bag of broccoli florets, and I was trying to find an alternative to just throwing it out.

You will need:

About 2 quarts chicken stock
1 large bag (4 lbs.) frozen broccoli (this is the mega-bag that they sell at Wal-Mart and Sam's)
Parmesan cheese rinds (or grated Parmesan cheese)
1/4 cup medium to dry sherry (optional, or you could use white wine)
1-2 cups heavy cream
around 1.5 lbs. hot Italian sausage
salt and pepper to taste

Put chicken stock and broccoli in a large stock pot, and simmer until broccoli is cooked. Add Parmesan cheese rinds, cream, and sherry. (You can make this more or less creamy depending on how much you put in.) Simmer for 15 minutes. (You could use grated Parmesan, but you can usually get the rinds very cheaply at any store that grates it's own Parmesan, and it's great in soup.)

While the soup is simmering, sauté the sausage. It's best to use patties or to remove the casings from whole sausages, because you want it to crumble. Cook sausage until cooked through and crumbly; then drain on paper towels. (I think you could also use ground pork and season it to taste.)

Remove the Parmesan rinds from the soup (or you could leave them and fish them out when you serve the soup).

Add sausage to soup, season with salt and pepper to taste (cayenne pepper is nice in this).

There are about 4 carbs (or 2 net carbs) in a cup of broccoli, so this is pretty low carb by any measure. I didn't exactly measure this precisely, but even if you use all the cream, it's probably only about 150 calories per cup, if that (a little more if you use grated cheese).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Committing to Yourself. And Saturday food.

The best post I've read today is here, at Dr. Michael Eades' blog. It's about, among other things, how it's possible to be really good at committing to other people and absolutely lousy at keeping commitments to yourself. And I can so completely relate to this. I've spent the last three years being obsessively committed to eating properly, but the fact of the matter is that 90% of why I do it is all about Michael, because I can't expect him to do this if I don't. Obviously I am more than capable of keeping this commitment, which means so much to me. But I don't lose weight, don't really get back in shape, because the extra bits that it would take to do that are about doing things that are for me alone, taking time for me alone, keeping promises to myself. I haven't much been interested in doing that.

I keep the promises that I make to other people, to the greatest extent that I can. I am the most loyal friend that you'll ever have, the best person to absolutely trust. But I am not a good friend to myself. I'm not even particularly comfortable with the idea of trying to make a commitment to myself, and I think that probably says something.

And it makes me sad.

Some days I almost see through a different window, into a reality where I care a little more about me and a little less about everybody else. And somehow I imagine that it would all be a lot better like that, that caring more about me would actually make it possible to care better for everyone else. But it's hard to do something that seems almost unrecognizable just by knowing that you should.

Anyway. Enough endless introspection for today. Let's move on to food.

So, the usual quiche/protein shake for breakfast.

For lunch, I made this fantastic cream of broccoli soup with a little hot Italian sausage. This was so good that I wrote the recipe down here. I really need to put some notion of scale into this; this is actually a tiny bowl, a dessert bowl, but it looks huge in the picture.

Then the next thing that we knew it was nearly 6 p.m., and we were really hungry, so we had this... celery, and a little less than 1 oz. of Pié d'Angloys cheese on Finn Crisp crackers (7 net carbs for the 2 crackers). And a glass of wine, the rest of yesterday's indulgence.

Yesterday, I made this terrific fish stock, which I mostly froze to make chowder next weekend (I really meant to take a picture of the HUGE cod bones that I bought at the store yesterday, but I forgot, and I suppose that they were a tad horrifying anyway). Anyway, the stock smelled so great that I thought I'd try my hand at making a velouté sauce with some of it. So this is salmon with a lovely dill cream sauce on a bed of wilted baby spinach, plus some broccoli (mainly because my son, who is not on the whole a picky eater, is not a fan of greens or crunchy things, so we needed a supplemental vegetable).

And I had a small piece of cheddar cheese and about an ounce of pork rinds before I went to bed.

One thing that occurs to me in looking over these food diaries is that nearly always, there's some food I really could have skipped. I mean, yesterday... I could have skipped the cheese/pork rinds. I was going to bed, I wasn't that hungry, and I wouldn't have noticed in a half hour when I was asleep anyway, so why add the extra calories?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gratitude. And Friday food

I am thinking today about gratitude. This is not something I am remotely comfortable thinking about. Not at all. The last few years... well, the last decade... have been so difficult for me that it is the hardest thing in the world some days to be grateful rather than resentful. And it is the bad thing about me, that I can be filled with resentment and anger for all the ways in which my expectations about people, about life, have not been met. And I forget to be grateful for the good things that have come rather than mourning that things that have not come or have been different than expected and desired.

It is hard.

I'm trying to think grateful things without the caveat on the end. You know what I mean... "I am so grateful to have this excellent job that I love and that is secure.... BUT wow, I've done a really good job of screwing up my academic career because my head was far more involved with the rest of my life than with work." I am so grateful to have people in my life who care about me... BUT why don't they see how much I need help? Why was no one there during the ten years when my first marriage was falling apart, and I was alone and desperate?" The trouble is that, whatever the truth is, putting those caveats in takes positive things and makes them negative. It takes things that are good and makes them bitter. It makes it impossible to rebuild things because they are so weighed down by the past. And the past doesn't matter... well, it does, in a way, but more because it's how we got here than anything else.

So, maybe for today, I could practice leaving off the "BUT" on the end.

And, now, the food part...

So we had the usual protein shake and quiche slice, the latter quite late in the morning because it is quiche-making day.

And then I went off to Rochester with my adorable son, partly to order doors and such for the renovation project we're working on, partly to buy him something respectable to wear when we go to New York City at the end of the month (happyhappyhappy looking forward to this), and partly to go to the Better Grocery Store. All of this took pretty much all day, and when we got done at 5, I had this...

which is a summer roll that is mostly lettuce and a little smoked salmon. I have no idea how one eats these things slowly and gracefully because I always seem to be stuffing them in my mouth before they fall apart. And, yes, I stole a little dumpling and a bit of squid from the Chinese food he'd gotten.

Didn't get home until 6, and then had to run out to get some wine for the fish stock I wanted to make... I bought fish bones at the store, and they needed to be made into stock now, because in this part of the world, fish is never as fresh as you'd like it, and I want to make chowder later, so I'll make this tonight and freeze it. This put me in the mood for a glass of white wine, something I almost never have, and so I had a glass and a half and felt very happy. These days I drink so rarely that I'm a very cheap date.

For dinner, we had skate, a bit of cauliflower purée leftover from yesterday, and fresh green and yellow beans. Ate really late, though, which is not such a good thing. Haven't had skate since I was last in the UK, so really a great treat.

This photo food diary has been a very interesting thing for me, so far. First of all, I have to say that feeling like you need to take a picture AND that you're going to post it somewhere public is a big deterrent to picking up small things to nibble on, and this is my big downfall in general. I have lost a little weight every day that I've done this, except Friday (writing this bit first thing Saturday morning), and that day may be because we ate so late in the evening. It's also making me see think harder about portion size, which is one of the things that I have the hardest time getting a handle on. So we continue on, for the moment. It's interesting, for me anyway (I have no idea at all whether it's interesting for anyone else!).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday food

No teaching today, so a little more time for making food.

We started the morning with the usual protein shake and quiche slice. Yes, we're boring.

Then I had three of these chicken wings I made this morning plus a green salad (arugula and field greens, cherry tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, a few walnuts, a bit of feta cheese, and a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar). Yum. The chicken wings are about 50 calories a segment. And I had a sugar-free chocolate. (Scale is just ridiculous in these pics; the wing segments look just as big as the drumsticks on the chicken below.

I had another of those segments just before dinner, well on my way to chicken overdose for the day, since dinner was this....

....which turned into this on the plate. What looks like mashed potatoes is cauliflower puree with garlic... just the best way to have cauliflower ever, with a just a touch of butter (the boys had the chicken version of the "culinary" gravy, two thumbs up from them, more lack of enthusiasm from me).

This is one of the last chickens from ChickenQuest... our September excursion to a farm about 70 miles from here in search of free-range chickens. Which is one of the idiotic things that you do when your husband has a weird sense of taste and decides that everything packaged is probably evil. I have to admit that I kind of secretly thought that this was silly, but I have to admit that these are absolutely the best chickens that I've ever eaten... and that I did nibble on the crispy roasted skin, not shown in the picture.

And I had about 1/2 oz. pork rinds and a small slice of Cheddar cheese before bed.

And here's a bonus picture... the beautiful cardinal on my backyard feeder. I always feel like the whole day is better if you get to see a cardinal.