Week 2: The Song Remains The Same

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I dreaded stepping onto the scale this morning.  You can probably guess why:  I got cocky after losing 3.5 pounds my first week on the new plan.  As a result, I got sloppy.

I knew, for certain, that I would weigh in higher today than a week ago.  The question was:  How much higher?  Just how bad was I the last seven days?

So I was relieved — and surprised — when the read-out told me I was 181.5 pounds, exactly what I weighed a week ago. 

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Week 1: Down 3.5 LBs!

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There’s nothing like losing weight to reinforce your motivation to keep losing weight.  So I’m happy to report that, a week into my plan, I’ve lost 3.5 pounds, weighing in at 181.5. 

Now I know from experience that the weight you lose early on is generally the weight that’s easiest to lose.  It would be unusual — and unhealthy — to continue losing weight at this pace.  (Plus, I would reach my 30-pound weight loss goal in just over two months.  What would I have to blog about until June?)  Nor can I assume that my weight loss journey will proceed in a nice, straight line, without any setbacks.  There may be weeks when I gain back a pound or two.  In fact, there probably will be.

The important thing is to keep going — whether you had a good week or a not-so-good one.  The weekly weigh-in offers an opportunity to look back at the previous week and determine what worked well, where you had difficulties and how you might overcome them in the future.  Be honest with yourself.  (Although you don’t have to be like me, and be honest with the world by blogging about it, if you don’t want to.)

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Enjoy Your Salad Days

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A kitchen sink salad

Salads are too often taken for granted — yet they are not only delicious and healthy but they are also diverse and ripe for imagination and experimentation.

A friend recently lamented that she finds the salads she makes at home “boring.”  The ones in restaurants, she said, seem so much better.

I couldn’t disagree more!  Restaurants either throw together some random greens with a few pallid tomatoes and watery cucumber slices — hardly my idea of a real salad — or they “compose” an artifice for which they charge $12 and which you could have made yourself for about $2!

Upon further investigation, I discovered the truth.  My friend, who, like me, is trying to lose weight, makes salads that have close to zero calories and fat.  No wonder she finds them uninspiring.

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How Did I Get Here? Middle Age & Weight Gain

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Letting the days go by …

No one really plans on becoming middle-aged.  You just get there, eventually.  Different people have different ideas on when they achieve middle age — 40, 50, depending on how optimistic you are — but sooner or later, you’re forced to accept that  not only are you not 25, you’re not the same as you were at 25 and you’re never going to be in this lifetime.

Oh, and BTW, unless you’ve eaten like a sparrow and exercised  like a maniac, consistently, for the past 20 years, you’ve probably accumulated some extra LBs.  Your waistline has expanded and your muscle tone is, well, there’s less of it.

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Cooking for Company: Marinated Flank Steak

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Normally I have only myself to think of when it comes to meal planning and preparation.  But, social butterfly that I am, I love to have people over for a nice dinner.  And many of them, bless their skinny little souls, aren’t engaged in losing weight.  My strategy for such occurrences is pretty simple:  Prepare a healthy, delicious meal that would please anyone — in particular the person or persons I happen to be entertaining, if they have a favorite food, for example — and eat less of it than they do.  Much less.  (Sigh.)

And so the other day when my nephew James turned out to be free for a home-cooked dinner at my place, I remembered having recently tucked this flank steak recipe into my file.  It’s from epicurious.com, and it’s terrific.  What’s more, it’s very easy to prepare, which was important that particular day, as one of my goals for the afternoon was to undecorate my Christmas tree.  Just remember to leave at least 4 hours for the meat to marinate.  I served the steak with baked sweet potatoes (I only ate half a potato!), Brussels sprouts and a salad.  The steak was both tastey and tender.  And James did his job by eating most of it for me!

Seared Marinated Flank Steaks

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 1-pound (about) flank steak, well trimmed
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

 Cut steak in half crosswise. Using a long sharp knife, split each steak in half, creating a total of 4 thin steaks. Combine wine, soy sauce, garlic, rosemary and thyme in 9×13-inch pan. Add steaks and turn to coat. Season generously with pepper. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Add 1 steak at a time and cook to desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter and let stand while cooking remaining steaks.

Per serving: calories, 200; fat, 10 g; sodium, 372 mg; cholesterol, 57 mg
Nutritional analysis provided by Bon Appétit 

Tuscan Beans with Sage

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This delicious dish, only slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, is a go-to for me.  And it is so simple it’s ridiculous.  I don’t even measure anymore.  I just use lots of everything – lots of sage, lots of garlic, careful with the lemon juice; everything to taste.  The honey is my own addition.  I find it counteracts the tinny flavor of the canned tomatoes and softens the pungency of the sage.  Also, I admit it:  I frequently use bottled minced garlic!  One thing I do find is important, and that’s to mince the sage very finely.  I use a mincer for that.  With a little grated Parmesan and a nice salad, you have a healthy and yummy supper.

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes ( 28-oz can, drained)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (two 15-ounce cans, drained)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

 Combine the sage, garlic and oil in a saucepan and sauté on medium-low heat for several minutes, until the garlic is golden.  Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, cannellini, and honey, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until everything is hot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.  Serve immediately or chill to serve. 

 Per 8 oz serving:  147 calories, 7.6 g protein, 3.1 g fat, 492 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol,  9.1 total dietary fiber

The Challenge

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Here I am: six months shy of the big 5-0. Overall, I’m a happy camper.  My name is Mary.  I’m single, I have a great job and I have many wonderful people in my life. I also love where I live, in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, which, IMHO, is one of the coolest neighborhoods in New York City.

But … I’m 5’9″ and carrying 185 pounds.

Not where I want to be, weight-wise.

Weight has not been an issue for me most of my life.  But it has been a challenge on and off since my mid-30s. I’ve lost weight a number of times, only to regain it in times of stress and depression. And every time it’s harder to lose.

When I moved to Brooklyn from Washington, DC, a little over three years ago, I was under 150. The transition was not an easy one for me.  I sunk into an emotional black hole.  It’s remarkable how quickly I packed on the LBs after I stopped working out and started overindulging in wine, cheese, ice cream, eating out, etc.  Things only got worse after I developed a persistent and painful case of plantars fasciitis, which made it difficult for me to even walk a few blocks.

Several times during the past few years I’ve vowed to take off the weight again. But I just wasn’t serious. Instead, I put on more weight!

Things are different now. I’m better — emotionally and physically — and I’m taking a stand.  I hereby declare:  By June 20, 2011, approximately six months from now, I will lose 30 pounds.  I will reach 155.

I feel that this is an ambitious but achievable goal. I know what needs to be done; it’s not exactly rocket science. Eat less, exercise more. I’ve done it before and will do it again.  And this time, I will maintain a healthy weight after reaching my goal by not falling back into bad habits.

As my guide, I’m using the Weight Watchers plan online.  It’s a sensible plan with a good tracking system.  I’m skipping the meetings — not really my thing.  And now that the plantars fasciitis has eased up, I’m back at the gym.  I’m fortunate to live right across the street from a terrific gym, at the Park Slope Armory.  It has a beautiful indoor track that I use to do fast-walking.  To kick it up a few notches, I use the eliptical machine.  I’m thinking of adding weights at some point, but first I need to just get back into the work-out groove.

My primary reason for writing this blog is to keep myself honest and on track.  I’ll do a weekly weigh-in and I’ll talk about the various challenges I encounter as I struggle to shed the LBs.

Week 1 Weigh-In

But there’s a lot more I want to do here.  Eating is fundamental to staying alive, and yet few of us eat simply to stay alive.  There are so many psychological, emotional, and social entanglements — even political ones.  Some of the topics I want to explore: 

  • When food becomes our pal:  eating and depression
  • Meditation:  a tool for weight loss?
  • The new versus the old Weight Watchers plan
  • Bad influences:  The friends we love to overindulge with
  • TV is our weight loss enemy!
  • Losing weight as a singleton vs. feeding a family

And of course, favorite recipes and menus.  I love to cook and entertain, and this does present a challenge for me sometimes.  But there are a lot of great resources out there that I’d love to share, and I’m sure some of you will have suggestions as well.

So, here goes:  I’m on the road to losing 30 by 50.  Thanks for joining me along the way.

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