Saturday, March 31, 2012

Healthy Apple Crisp Recipe

YUM! Fresh, warm, healthy goodness!
 Hi!  Here is the requested Apple Crisp recipe. It was written by Bob Greene, creator of The Best Life Diet Plan.  Enjoy!

Apple Crisp
  • Nonfat cooking spray
  • 2 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples. (I've used Gala and Fuji so far.  Both worked great!)
  • 2 tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
Oat topping ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, finely chopped (I use almonds...fantastic!)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I substitute brown sugar Splenda)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp softened unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350.  Coat an 8-inch square shallow baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, toss together the apples, sugar, apple juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well combined.  Set aside.
To make the oatmeal topping: Using a fork, gently combine the walnuts or almonds, oats, brown sugar, flour, and butter until well-blended.  Place the apple mixture in the dish, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the apples are cooked through, the juices are bubbling, and the topping is browned.  Serve, hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Things Are Never As Bad As They Seem...

I hate having a case of
the Mondays....that lasts
 all week!
Hey Blog Readers!  I'm sending a special shout out to all of my international readers.  They are actually some people reading from Malaysia and Russia!  How awesome!  So, feel free to add comments.  I'd love to hear from you - actually...I'd love to hear from all of my readers.  Knowing that you are out there rooting for me (I hope you are) makes me feel fantastic.  And considering how this week went, any bit of good news and encouragement is welcome.

I'm not a complainer.  I never have been.  If there is something I don't like about myself or a situation I'm in, I try my best to change it.  I don't really like burdening people with my problems.  But every now and then something happens and I have to let my frustrations out.  So, I appreciate those who lent their ears to me this week.  Thank you so much for listening me to this week, and letting me vent.  It makes me feel a lot better.  You also know you're free to bend my ear whenever you want.  I'm a good listener.

The week was hella-tough.  Lots of stuff happening at the same time.  My stress level was elevated - and that's putting it mildly.  It's hard to know what to do when you feel like you're being pulled in many different directions.  So, how did I handle it?  How did I handle the first stressful week in my journey?

Before I get to how I handled it, I want to share a story with you.  It's a tough story for me to tell because it's private and shameful.  But, it also helps me to share it.  It helps me heal and I reflected a lot on this story this past week, and it made me realize how far I've come.

When I was finishing up my Master's degree back in early 2006, I was enrolled in two very tough classes.  One was a high level finance course and the other was my capstone class.  Both were highly challenging, and I wanted to excel in both of them.  That MBA was so close.  I just needed to get through these two classes - the hardest classes I've ever taken in my life.  No joke!

One weekend I was all alone.  Staring at these books for my class and all of my homework.  Research for my group presentation....70-80 pages I had to write by Monday.  Endless finance problems.  No solutions.  I felt completely isolated.  My mind was mush, and I didn't know what to do.  I'm not a complainer so didn't want to call someone to vent or cry.  I was just staring at my kitchen table full of papers and books with no clue what to do or where to start. 

So what did I do?  I got up.  Left my apartment.  I went Giant Eagle (a grocery store) and purchased a loaf of Schwebel's potato bread, a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, and a 2 liter Pepsi.  Then, I drove to the local Kentucky Fried Chicken and purchased a bucket of fried chicken.  I drove home, brought my purchases inside and proceeded to eat and drink it all. 

When I ate the bread and chicken and cakes, it felt so good going down.  But as soon as I swallowed, the emptiness returned along with the stress.  So I continued to eat and drink to make that feeling of helpless go away, which it never did.  I sat there and ate until I was comatose, and I couldn't feel anything but pain.  That's how I handled stress.  I ate until I couldn't feel it anymore.

So, what did I do this week to handle all the SHIT that was thrown at me?  I hit the elliptical hard.  I hit the treadmill hard.  I let my mind clear and just concentrated on the exercise and how I it made me feel.  I danced in Zumba class.  I let the music move me...making me smile.  I didn't eat to mask the stress.  I just exercised, cleared my mind, and moved on.  Exercise helped me keep calm and move on.  I didn't overeat.  As a matter of fact, I ate out quite a bit this week.  I had lunch meetings and I made amazing choices at both Panera and Q'doba.  I made sure to have balanced meals and drank plenty of water.  And it payed off with my third best week to date.

My endorphins were working
overtime this week!
It makes me feel great that I was able to handle my stress with a healthy mind set.  I've come a long way.  That's what was on my mind this week, and I'm able to conclude this week #9 with a smile on my face.  This week wasn't Stronger Than Me.  I made this week my BITCH!  But...I couldn't have done it without all of you.  You'll never understand how much your support is appreciated.

Monday, March 26, 2012

When a Deficit is a Good Thing...

Good day Blog Readers!  Sorry for the delay in posting.  My weekend was crazy busy and productive as well.  I had my bestie's baby shower on Sunday (**waves to bestie**), and I spent Saturday with friends.  We went to see the Hunger Games, and we had lunch at Chipotle.   If you are one of the poor souls who doesn't know what Chipotle (the restaurant...not the pepper) is, you are missing quite the treat especially if you enjoy Mexican food.  I even made sure to split my burrito bowl into two servings so I had leftovers for dinner.  I wasn't able to do that before.  I love Chipotle so much that I would eat the entire burrito bowl and a side of chips in one sitting - which would pretty much make me queasy.  I'm just happy that I'm able to have these types of meals and include them in my lifestyle. 

All in all, my week was all over the place, and it was my fault.  I did something that I told myself I wouldn't do anymore, and it pretty much had me a bit discouraged all week.  When I got discouraged D.T. comes out to play and nags me - which makes everything much harder.  So what did I do...


I weighed myself pretty much every day.  Sometimes the scale would be up...sometimes it would be down...sometimes it would be the same.  When I got to Thursday, and I was still the same weight as last Saturday, I almost lost it!  Why did I do this to myself?  I knew I was doing well because I'm using another hole in my belt.  I had great energy, and I even changed up my routine a bit.  GAH!  I shouldn't have done that.  Special thanks to Eliza for talking me down from the ledge and bringing me back to what is most important.

In the end, I did lose weight.  I promise to all of you that I will try not to needlessly weigh myself like that again.  It really doesn't add any value to my week, and it can be a detractor. Besides, the scale should never be my ultimate measuring stick.  I'm trying to get that in my head.  Give me some time.  I'm still working on it.

On a happier note, my first batch of blog cards are just about all gone.  I'm trying to hand them out more.  I need to make sure I start carrying some on my at all times.  That way if someone stops me and asks what I've been up to, I can hand them one.  If you're a new follower, welcome.  Please feel free to add comments.  I love to read them, and I hope to make new friends through this endeavor.

Someone recently asked me what I was doing to lose weight.  I told them that I wasn't doing anything special.  I am just creating a calorie deficit.  Some people don't quite know what a calorie deficit is or how it works, so I'm including a link that provides a lot of detail.  Pretty much, it's losing weight the old fashioned way.  No gimmicks.  No diets.  No special supplements.  No restrictions. 

This deficit is not so bad...
The scale pretty much sums it all up.  A calorie deficit means calories in (food and beverages) is less than calories out (body functions and physical activity).  3,500 calories equals one pound, so if you want to lose one pound a week, you need to expend 3,500 more calories than you take in.  That equals out to a 500 calorie deficit each day.  If you want to lose two pounds a week, expend 7,000 calories more.  I know that it seems like a lot, but it real isn't if you plan accordingly. 

I plan my meals out each day, and I record everything I eat in the livestrong app on my iPhone.  Also, there are many tools out that that will calculate your basal metabolic rate - which is how many calories you burn at rest.  This number is important because it will help determine how many calories you need in a day.  PLEASE...and I can't stress this enough....please be careful when deciding how many calories you need.  Seek advice from a medical professional if you are not sure what you need.

So...if I want Chipotle, I plan ahead and make sure the calories are in the bank.  I measure out my portions and include lots of vegetables and fruit since they add bulk but not calories.  And of course I drink plenty of water and I MOVE MY ASS!  I really think that working out seven days a week makes a huge difference.  

It's not rocket science...but it can be daunting and tricky.  This way may not work for everyone, but it is working for me.  I love the fact that I don't have limitations.  If I want cake, I eat cake.  If I want a piece of candy, I eat a piece of candy...I just make allowances for it, make sure the portion size is appropriate, and sweat it out until my fat cries.  Do I do??  Damn right I do!  On to week #9!!

P.S - I met my walk-run goal a week early.  I got in 3 miles in an hour last Friday, and I did it again today.  I'm up to 3 mph walk and 3.7 mph run!

P.P.S - I will be participating in the Walk for Diabetes on Oct. 6th this year.  More details to follow.  If you want to join my team and walk with me, click here!  The more, the merrier!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top of the Mornin' to Ya!

This dude has endless energy!
Happy Saint Patrick's Day Blog Readers!  I'm up and at 'em early today.  I got my workout in early today too.  No more of that loafing on Saturday for me.  Last Saturday I decided to take a break and not work out, and I felt out of sorts the entire day...even guilty at one point.  If that isn't a sign that I've made my workouts a priority in my day, then I don't know what else would be.

I did another interval walk-run this week on Wednesday, and let me tell you that my legs are rebelling.  After my inaugural run on Monday,  I did my normal elliptical workout on Tuesday. That was the hardest workout I've had in a while.  My legs were exhausted.  I always thought that walking was the most boring form of exercise.  I don't like it.  I've said that before.  My rationale is that I walk everyday to go places and do things.  Why on earth would I do that as a form of exercise?  Now, since I increased the pace and jogged as well, I honestly feel it was my most punished workout to date.  I've never sweat like that before. 
You could have stayed
on vacation!

So, I almost pooped out on Wednesday during my walk-run...and here comes Doubting Thomas...back from his vacation in the islands.  He straight up told me to quit and step down from the treadmill.  And I almost did.  But with the encouragement of my Zen Masters and one of the fitness instructors cheering me on, I P.U.S.Hed through (Push Until Something Happens), and I finished. 

Now Zumba on Thursday about killed me because my legs were still protesting.  In fact, by Friday, I think they were about to go on strike after I finished Wii Zumba.  However, we came to some type of agreement, and they helped me finish my workout this morning.  So, thank you legs.  I appreciate it.  And, to reward myself for all the hard work (and three pound weight loss this week), I'm going to enjoy my visit with my grandparents today and her lovely cooking.  Lots of great stuff on the menu.

I know I'm going to have more weeks like this - where I don't know how I'm going to get the energy to P.U.S.H. (I need a t-shirt that says that!)  But, with the support of my family, friends, and readers, I know I'm going to dig deep and find the will to finish.  I'm going to do this.  I'm not going to quit...not when my legs give out...Till I Collapse.

Special Dedication - My mom's youngest brother, who I mentioned in a prior entry, passed away early yesterday morning.  He had stage four lung cancer.  He will be missed dearly.  I love you Uncle Tony.  May you rest in peace.

Monday, March 12, 2012

And, It's Alright!

Just call me FLASH!
Happy Monday Blog Readers!  Just a quick check-in to let you know how my doctor appointment went as well as my first foray in running  (more like jogging but whatever).

I checked back in with my doctor five weeks after my initial visit today.  I was hoping that my previous provider sent over my medical records like I instructed them too - after all, I did sign a permission waiver stating for them to send everything over.  Of course, they didn't send anything so my new doctor office resent the request again.  I'm going to have to check-in with those jokers to make sure they are doing what I requested.  It's just another sign that I did the right thing by changing doctors. 

I had to complete a fasting cholesterol test.  The last time it was checked it was over 200.  I always hate having to get blood drawn for these tests because the folks I used to go to had the hardest time drawing my blood.  It was horrific.  I once had to go back because they couldn't get it...and still after the second and THIRD time, they still couldn't get it.  After that, I was like forget it!  Of course, the Phlebotomist that took my blood gets it on the first try.  Again...another sign that I was meant to leave those shady physicians. 

To say that I'm thrilled with my results is quite an understatement.  My total cholesterol is 135!  Good cholesterol (HDL) is 48.  I need to get that number at 50 or above.  I'm sure as I continue to work out and eat well, it will increase.  Bad cholesterol (LDL) was 71.  Fantastic since this number needs to be under 100.  Triglycerides was 78, and that needs to be under 150!  So in all, these are fabulous, and my Nurse Practitioner was very happy.  I had also lost 14 pounds since the last time I was there so that's great too.  My blood pressure had dropped to 128/76 and before it was 136/80.   I'm so happy with these results.  I've been monitoring my blood sugar at home, and those numbers have been fantastic as well. 

My next appointment is in June, and at that point I will have a blood sugar test.  It will be interesting to see how my diabetes is at that time.  More weight loss, exercise, and balanced meals will mean better numbers.  Better numbers leads to less medicine.  And cheaper insurance premiums too.  I will get a discount on my insurance premiums in 2013 if I can get 3 out of 5 Biometric measures within reasonable range.  The biometrics are below.
So far, I'm meeting 2 out of 5.  I'm aiming for 4/5 since I know I won't be able to meet the waist circumference in time.  But, I know I can get my HDL above 50 and my fasting glucose below 100.  I'll keep y'all posted! 
Okay, so my Zen Masters (I've gained another Zen Master...that would be you H.K.) accompanied me to the gym after work.  I was excited and nervous at the same time.  I was excited because I've always wanted to run.  I was nervous because I didn't know if I would be able to do it.  My Zen Masters had a great plan.  Four minutes brisk walk...One minute run.  The run was to start at 3.2 mph, and if I feel like it, I can increase it.

Folks, can I just say I ran my ass off!!  I started at 3.2 and ended up at 3.5 mph.  I know for some of you seasoned runners that's a whole lot of nuthin', but to me...that's FUCKAWESOME!!  I've never run...never...EVER!  I don't even like to walk as a form of exercise because I think it's boring.  But the 4-1 Interval on the treadmill was so fun!  And both of my Zen Masters were coaching me and cheering me on!  I was running, and huffin' and puffin', and laughing at the same time.  Even one of the Fitness Trainers came over and congratulated me.  She said it made her happy to see me being coached that way as well as my effort.  I am BEAMING right now!  I really enjoyed that hour, and if I break it down, I ran for 12 minutes.  Woot Woot!!! 

And to top it all off, the sun is still shining and Spring is around the corner.  Here Comes the Sun!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

33.33333333333% Never Looked So Good!

Good Saturday Blog Readers!  It's a beautiful morning in Northeastern Ohio...just in case you didn't know what I was located.  We've had a relatively mild winter - which has been lovely let me tell you.  I am hoping that Spring is right around the corner, and considering that we will have temps in the lower 60's this week, maybe we've turned the corner.  That would be great because better weather means more opportunities for outside activities.

I've had an awesome week folks.  D.T. wasn't dogging my step this week.  He was amazingly absent.  Perhaps he took a long deserved vacation because he was working overtime last week.  I hope he enjoys his vaca and stays even longer.  The longer he languishes out of my sight, the better.

I felt completely different this week as well.  I had amazing energy.  I pushed myself to exercise a little bit harder everyday.  I'm hoping to work my body harder each day so muscle memory won't develop.  Muscle memory brings on plateaus, and I'm trying to limit those as best as I can.  I added an extra day of Zumba this week by taking the class offered at my gym, and our instructor (who is also a friend) is fabulous.  She's so amazing and it makes the class even more fun since we are friends.  I'm definitely looking forward to future classes.  I'm also happy that I waited until I lost a few pounds before attending her class because she's WAY more intense than the Wii.  My sweat was in hysterics after her class, and I truly thank her from the bottom of my soon-to-be healthy heart.  She's inspiring and encouraging.  Thank you C!

I even felt lighter this past week. I was floating on the elliptical machine.  Working harder resistances, changing inclines, and not using the hand rails to keep me balanced - which is great for core strength.  In the end, all that hard work paid off with the largest weekly loss since my first week - 5 pounds!  That's right, y'all!  FIVE FREAKING POUNDS!  You damn right I'm excited!

Rolos are little pieces of

I have to say that keeping track of everything that goes inside my mouth as well as tracking my exercise is beyond beneficial.  It's my lifeline.  This week, I made sure to meet my calorie goals.  It's so important to feed your body when you trying to lose weight and make sure to feel it the right things...lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and complex carbohydrates.  I also enjoy treats in moderation.  I think these treats are keeping me sane.  Rolos are fabulous folks...nice sweet treats.  Give 'em a try!

And what's even more wonderful...more wonderful than the five pounds I lost...the number 3.  Three is The Magic Number this week.  Why is that?  Because I'm 1/3 of the way to my first goal.  33.333333333% is a damn good number.  I did not think I'd make it to this mini-milestone so quickly.  I am extremely ahead of schedule which is where I wanted to be in case that dreaded plateau hits.  I just didn't expect to be this far ahead of schedule.  So thank you to all of my blog followers, friends, family, co-workers, strangers and anyone else who has given me encouragement.  It is helpful and needed and very much appreciated.

So, mini-milestone has been celebrated!  On to week number #7!!  I think I'm going to send D.T. on an extended vacation.  Enjoy my lil' friend.  You're aren't missed.

On the horizon - I have a follow-up appointment with my new doctor on Monday and I'm also going to try to run on the treadmill.  I'll have to let you guys know how that goes.  My Zen Master is going to help me so keep me in your prayers.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's a Family Affair!

Calll  me Jack Jack! Cause I'm crazy like that.
Whoo!  Hey blog readers.  Week #5 has come and gone, and it was tough one.  I felt like I hadn't lost weight all week, and that was partly my fault that I was buggin' all week about it because I weighed  myself a few times during the week, and I really shouldn't do that.  I should stick to my Saturday weigh ins.  I'm going to try to do that this week.  I just like the feedback I get from the scale, and that really isn't the best feedback tool to use.

I did have other signs that I was on the right track this week.  The scale hadn't moved, but I was able to pull my favorite pair of jeans on and off without unbuttoning and unzipping them.  My favorite t-shirt is more lose. I was able use a belt that was too tight before.  That was really great because I need said belt to keep my pants from falling down. :)  I definitely don't want to moon anybody. 

After it was all said and done, I did lose 2.6 pounds this week.  I feel very accomplished because Ol' Douchebag was riding my ass all week.  I put his picture up at my desk at work, and I'd look at him when I heard him telling me to skip my workout.  Then I'd look at the picture of me booting him in his ass.  I'd laugh, pick up my gym bag, and bang it out down in the gym.  Yeah...he really comes around when I don't feel like working out.  He doesn't temp me with food (YET) because I'm not depriving myself of anything.  I take it one day at a time.  Deprivation brings about failure, and I'm not going to fail.  I also refuse to say I'm dieting because I'm not.  I'm just eating better and feeling great.

It also seems that our journey to better health is rubbing off on my family.  This makes me super happy.  My dad actually started first.  He's lost weight and is in great shape.  I jumped in and so did my mom.  She told me yesterday that she's feeling fab-u-lous!  And my sister is with us too.  I am happy to say that our household is EIGHT pounds lighter this week.  My sister lost a little over 5 pounds!  I showed her how the livestrong app works (see previous post), and she's been using it to keep track of her calories.  She's also exercising too. 

I am so happy that we are doing this as a family.  We're a tight knit group, and we need all the support we can get.  The fact that we have each other's back as we go through this momentous change makes it easier.  We can share our ups, downs, struggles and of course successes. Sometimes, I like to take a moment, Pause, and think of all the wonderful things we will be able to accomplish once we meet our goals.  I know my sister and I both want to complete a half marathon, and I know we'll be able to do it one day.  Why??  Cause...we're incredible!   

P.S. - That heart rate monitor...I'm not believing it.  It told me once this week I burned 2,020 calories on the elliptical. Highly doubtful...but it still is great for aerobic training.  I'm also watching the Incredibles while writing this.  Great movie...awesome inspiration.  I want some super powers.

P.P.S - I know I've said this before, but try Zumba is you can.  My song choice this week is a Zumba routine.  It's one of my favs.  I'm not working out.  I'm partying!!