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!