Thursday, April 2, 2020

My WW Pantry

Here are some items which have helped me lose almost 80 pounds. (78.2 pounds, to be exact! lol)

FYI: I'm not being paid by any of the products I mention. My opinions are totally my own.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please drop me a comment!

Friday, March 27, 2020

ASFL Kitchen Easy Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bread

Here is the full recipe I made in today’s ASFL Kitchen recipe video on YouTube.

The original recipe from WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) this one is based on is here.

The recipe for the apple soda bread I spoke about can be found here.

Enjoy! Let me know how yours turns out.

Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bread

Serves 4 (5 points on WW purple plan per serving)

2 containers WW Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
1/3 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup non-fat milk
1 egg
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 small apple, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray mini loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Pour the two containers of oatmeal into a large bowl. Sift the flour over the top. In the measuring cup with the milk, whisk in the egg until well beaten. Pour the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the raisins, apple, and caraway seeds.

Divide the batter between loaf pans (4 extra-mini or two mini pans). Place in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool slightly and then remove from pans. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Black Pepper Chicken

We are living in strange times, aren’t we?

Like many of you, I’m spending the majority of my time in my home, with a few breaks for walks outside to lift my spirits. My hands are chapped from washing them so many times during the day (any lotion suggestions?). I’m also becoming pretty adept at using Zoom, plus I’m setting up FaceTime coffee chats and outdoors walking times with friends to keep my sanity!

We have adjustments to make, but we’ve got this!

While we may have more time to spend in the kitchen, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want to! Here’s an easy, healthy dish to add some zip to your meal. This is a take on the Panda Express version. I saw the original recipe on   The Kitchn website here, but I made some adjustments to match what I had on hand and make the dish more WW-friendly. (One serving is 3 points on the My WW purple plan.)

Remember: Seek joy, cherish love, stay curious, and eat tasty food!

And stay safe!

Black Pepper Chicken

Serves 4

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 green onions, white and part of green portion cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Brown rice, for serving

To make the sauce, whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together the chicken, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and then the chicken. Sauté until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet onto a plate and set aside.

Add the celery to the skillet and cook until it starts to go tender. Then add the green onions and minced garlic, sautéing only about 30 seconds. Add the chicken back to the skillet along with the sauce. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the sauce thickens—about 5 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Learning How to Live Thin

Next Saturday, March 7, 2020, will be my one-year anniversary on WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). I remember when I clicked the link on my phone to sign up, determined to follow through this time, no matter how long it took. My goal: to be down 100 pounds in 1 year.

Well, guess what? I’m “only” down 75-plus pounds. 

Guess what else? That’s okay! The number one lesson I’ve learned in this first year is this is my lifestyle now. This whole weight-loss section is just a portion of my journey to wellness and health that I will live from now on!

My goal now: Never quit!

I’ve also learned the most important part of this journey is not only dropping pounds. It’s learning how to do what I call "live thin."
You see, I’ve never been thin. Well, honestly, it’s more like I’ve never felt thin. I’ve spent my life thinking I should weigh less, even at times when I’m guessing others saw me as being a normal size.

The realization that society might view my body as different happened when I was four years old. It was a late spring day and I was wearing my swimsuit outside our suburban Kansas City home. The elementary school down the road had just let out. A group of boys walked by and, as young boys are known to do, commented on my fat butt.

I don’t remember exactly what they said, but I do remember being a bit surprised and confused about their comments. What was wrong with my butt? Was it different from other butts?

(The left photo is me at age 2 1/2. The right photo was at age 6, when I really started to put on weight.)

My first diet attempt happened when I was 11 years old. I got up and went for a bike ride for the first time, not for fun or because it was the quickest way to get to a friend’s house, but because the exercise was important for losing weight. When I came home I ate a healthy breakfast of three lemon cream donuts.

These diary entries from high school show just how much my young life revolved around dieting:
  • January 1977 (14 years old): “Remember that after I lose weight I will be pretty, too.” (My sister was the pretty one.)
  • January 1978 (15 years old): “I have to get back on my diet. Last night I realized what people think of fat people—lazy, slow, lacking in willpower. I don’t want people thinking of me that way.”
  • March 1980 (17 years old): “I guess I feel inadequate about myself…I feel that because of my weight I am not living up to my potential…I have some really good, long-lasting friends because they have looked past my fat and have seen me. Just think how many more good friends I will have when I get rid of that big wall of excess fat.”
  • February 1981 (18 years old): “This weekend I am starting a strict self-improvement and awareness plan…I am going to go on a strict diet. (Saturday, 800 calories; Sunday, 500 calories; from then on 1,000 calories a day.)”
Me at age 28
In my life, I must have been on just about every diet known to man. I’ve counted calories, points, and carbs. I’ve weighed and measured food and kept a food log. I even tried WW twice in the past—the first time when I was in high school! There was the memorable week I spent on the Cambridge Diet in 1981. Three times a day I drank shakes made of what had to be flavored sawdust. I lost 11 pounds, only to promptly gain it back the minute I returned to solid food. In fact, I’ve always gained the weight back, plus 5, 10 or 20 pounds more.

The photo on left is me in February 2019 at 295 pounds. On the right is me in Hawaii in November 2019, minus 65 pounds. 
I’ve spent my adult life weighing more than 200 pounds. There have been times when I was more than 300 pounds. I don’t know my highest weight because the scale didn’t go up that far.

So, what was different about this time? Why is WW working for me this time? Honestly, it was a feeling if I didn’t change now, I would miss out on all the adventures I still wanted to accomplish in my life. (You can read more about my life-changing decision here.)

I look back at these photos I’ve posted and remember how insecure and critical of myself I was. When things went wrong, I blamed myself even when I wasn’t to blame. My primary excuse: It’s because I’m fat.

Well, no more! Even though I still have 50 pounds to drop before I reach my goal, I no longer blame my weight for life’s normal ups and downs. I also realize I can’t control some situations and the actions of others. I’m learning to let circumstances and people go and keep moving forward.

Who knew it was possible to start a whole new life at this stage of my life!
Guess what? It is possible!

Stay tuned! Let’s see where this adventure takes us!  

Monday, February 17, 2020

Cherry Baked Oatmeal and a WW Update

Good morning! I just wanted to give you a quick update and share a great recipe.

Update first: I’m now down -77 pounds on my WW (formerly Weight Watchers) journey! I started as an online-only member, but three weeks ago I switched to attending workshops and I found a great one here in Topeka—at 7 a.m. on Saturdays! Now, as those of you who have followed my blog for the past 10 years know, I’m not a morning person, which goes to show you just how much I like this meeting. I also met a fellow WWer that I knew on the app’s social media site, Connect. She’s the one that recommended the workshop, and boy was she right! So, I roll out of bed while it’s still dark, throw on my clothes, grab a coffee, and head out the door before I’m fully away and can talk myself out of going! 

Now for the recipe: A lot of people on Connect were raving about baked oatmeal. Now, I’m not only a non-morning person, but I’m usually a non-breakfast person as well. My first meal of the day is typically a cheese stick and a banana, with lots of coffee!

However, I’ve had baked oatmeal in the past when I made this apple version, so I thought I’d give it a try again. After some internet research, I picked this one from the Budget Bytes blog. Beth, the creator, called it Apple Cheery Baked Oatmeal, I’m assuming because of all the applesauce in it. However, since I really didn’t get an apple taste from the dish, I focused on the cherry, which is my favorite fruit.  

This dish was so good! Not too sweet and just the right amount of cherry flavor. I had it for breakfast two days in a row, with a squirt of fat-free whipped cream. 

If you make this according to the recipe, it comes to 1 WW point per serving on the purple plan. I made this one with dried cherries (since I had them), which made it 3 points per serving. Of course, those points would change depending on which myWW color plan you follow. You can plug it into your recipe builder to find out!

For those of you who would like to check out what WW has to offer, here’s a link. If you sign up, we both get one month free!

If you have any questions about my journey, WW, or this recipe, please leave them in the comments below. I’d be happy to answer them!

Here's a before and after photo. The one of the left was taken at the end of February 2019. The right photo is from this past Friday, Valentine's Day 2020. I still have 53 pounds to go before I make my goal weight, but I already feel 100-percent better about myself and life! 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Celebrating Non-Scale Victories Important to Weight Loss

Hello everyone! I hit a new milestone this week: Down 75 pounds! That’s since March 2019! I still have a long way to go (55 more pounds), but I’m so happy with how I feel coming this far. Especially because January wasn’t a kind month. Lots of gloomy clouds and little snow or sun. I spent a week hardly moving because of back pain, and then I got a stomach virus. That may account for some of my weight loss, but I’m determined to keep it off now that I’m starting to feel better. Oh, and the Chiefs made the Super Bowl! Whoo-hoo!

I’ve learned in this journey it's important to celebrate non-scale victories (NSVs) along the way. Why? Because the scale is a fickle instrument that doesn’t always tell the truth! You can do everything right and still not lose weight, or, the horror of horrors, have a gain. There are too many variables such as fluid retention, medications, and exercise that impact scale numbers. So, it’s key to look at the big picture through NSVs. 

These NSVs can be large or small. I’ll give you some examples from my trip to Hawaii in November when I was down 65 pounds.

First NSV: No seatbelt extender on the airplane! I fit in the seat just fine! That was the first time in years I wasn’t embarrassed to be on an airplane.

I met the weight limit to go on a helicopter tour of Kauai! 

I was also able to walk up to 20,000 steps a day without a problem. Sure, I was tired at the end of the day, but a year ago, I couldn’t walk a quarter of that way without having to take a break because my hips and knees hurt. 

I could buy souvenir shirts in a size L or XL instead of the hard-to-find 2X or 3X I needed before. I also hung out on the beach in a swimsuit without feeling embarrassed! Big NSV for me!

However, my biggest NSV on the trip was climbing to the top of Diamond Head. (That's my boyfriend, Greg, who was on the trip with me.) Now, if you’re a serious hiker, this is probably an easy journey for you. But for a beginner like me, the 560-feet climb was a challenge. My biggest fear was the steep 99-step stairway close to the top. However, I heard there was an easier way to by-pass the steps, so I planned on doing that when the time came.

The trail consists of switchbacks up the steep slope. I started at a steady pace and stopped for water breaks every so often. While more-fit hikers passed me along the way, I was happy to see others needed to stop for breaks, too. 

The first challenge was 74 concrete steps that lead to a narrow tunnel. They weren’t too bad, with areas along the way where I could stop and catch my breath. Once I made it through the 225-foot long tunnel, it was decision time.

I looked to the right at the 99 steps. They seemed to go straight up! The stairway was narrow, so there would be no stopping or I would block the people behind me. To the left was the easier path, which looked more like a regular hiking trail. That would be an easier way to the top. 

Decision time: Which way to go? As I took a break and drank more water, I realized I wanted to challenge myself to take the stairs. I was tired of doing things the easy way! Wasn’t this whole weight-loss journey about pushing myself to the limit to see just what I could accomplish? Trying new experiences? No longer taking the easy way out?

I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Let’s do this!”

About 10 steps from the top, I hit “a wall” much like marathon runners talk about during a race. I was pulling myself up with the handrailing. My thighs were screaming at me to stop. I was done and seriously thinking about turning around.

Then, some hikers at the top who were waiting for the stairway to clear so they could start down began to cheer me on!
“You can do it!”
“You’re almost there!”
“Keep going!” 
When I reached the top, they cheered! I wanted to cry! I did it! 

Of course, there was still more to climb, including a spiral staircase to an old observation station. But I made it to the summit! The view was spectacular, but I was also in awe of what I’d accomplished!

One year earlier, I couldn’t walk a quarter of a mile without stopping. That day I climbed to the top of a Diamond Head! 

After we reached the bottom, I bought a t-shirt proclaiming my achievement! LOL 

Big or small, NSVs are an important part of a weight-loss journey. I would say the most important part! Be sure to celebrate them along the way. They will keep you going when the scale data doesn’t go your way. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

WW Friendly Banana Nut Oatmeal Bread

When I started this weight-loss journey, I was determined to find a way to continue to eat the foods I loved. However, I wasn’t opposed to making those foods friendlier to my new lifestyle.

I now order pizza with thin crust and lots of veggies—and I only eat two pieces! At fast-food restaurants, I’ll get grilled chicken sandwiches instead of burgers. (Though I still eat a burger once in a while!) I only eat 1/4 to 1/2 of the fries, usually sharing them with someone else. And sometimes I skip half the bun by using the lettuce as the top half instead.

I’ve also started tinkering with some of my favorite recipes to lighten them up a bit. This banana bread is one of them. I posted the original recipe here in the early years of this blog.

For this version, I cut the sugar from 1 cup to 1/4 cup, and I cut the butter in half and used Land O’ Lakes light butter. I also added some Greek yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, which makes this bread super moist. If you want a sweeter bread, you could up the sugar to 1/2 cup, but I like this less-sweet recipe instead.

I’m on the My WW Blue plan, so the points for this bread are 6 per slice if you cut it into 8 servings, which is a pretty large slice! Those of you on other plans can load it into the recipe builder to see what you’re tally will be.

I like to toast my piece in the toaster oven and then smear a little light butter on top. Yum!

This is my Kansas City Chiefs side-by-side photo, in honor of them making it to the Super Bowl! The left photo was from October 2018, and the right is from December 2019. A -70 pound difference between the two!

Banana Nut Oatmeal Bread

Makes 1 loaf
Serves 8 to 16

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light butter (I use Land O’ Lakes)
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, sift together the flours, soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the yogurt, applesauce, and eggs, and whisk until blended. Then whisk in the bananas.

Next, stir in the flour mixture until just blended. Fold in the oatmeal and walnuts. Pour the batter into a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. 

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.