Thursday, January 28, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich Amendment!

Due to clamoring from my sisters from another mister (ie Meg and Anna), I am making a bonus mini-post to expand upon my breakfast sandwiches from yesterday.

If you want to make sandwiches to freeze

So I made a bunch of these guys awhile back based on this freezer breakfast sandwich post from Macheesemo.  This recipe is great if you want to make several sandwiches at once to freeze, although I will say that I used whole wheat English muffins and they were kinda meh.  Regardless, they are definitely a lifesaver on busy mornings.

Freezing Instructions:  I let each sandwich cool for a bit and wrapped them tightly and individually in foil, then stuck them all in the same gallon ziplock.  I went a little anal with it and wrote the calorie count/reheating instructions on the ziplock just in case I'm not home and Eric wants to know how to reheat one.  You don't have to do that, but it worked well for us.

Reheating Instructions:  I only reheat mine in the oven because in my opinion they taste better that way.  I simply heat the oven to 350 and grab the sandwiches from the freezer (still wrapped in foil) and let them hang out in the oven while I am having coffee and getting ready for work.  I usually let them warm up for 35-50 minutes in the oven, then pull them out literally before we walk out of the door.  I keep them in their foil wraps and stick them in a paper bag and voila, breakfast at work.  Obviously you could eat it as soon as you pull it from the oven but we eat at work, and they are usually still nice and warm after our 20 minute commute.

I know that recipe I linked you to talks about microwaving the sandwiches to reheat them, but in my humble opinion the one time I tried to do it the sandwich was disgusting.  The cheese got all weird and oily and made the bread soggy, the egg tasted weird and the texture of the bread was weird.  An oven reheat is the way to go, and to me it's less effort than the microwave despite it taking longer.

If you want to make sandwiches fresh for that day

The picture that I posted at the top of the post is what I do if I only want to make 1-2 sandwiches that morning and involves my ramekin method for cooking the eggs.  The egg disc that results is the perfect size for an English muffin.  There is no recipe, it's just one of my things I've free balled.  For one sandwich,  beat 2 eggs, pour them into a ramekin that's sprayed well with cooking spray and stick the ramekin in an oven at 350 degrees.  Your eggs will need to bake for anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes depending on your oven.  Check the eggs after 12 minutes.  Basically you want the center to be not soupy, but don't want the eggs so well done that they turn that disgusting weird grey color that overcooked eggs take on.  The egg disc should come out easily if you've sprayed the ramekin properly.

Build your sandwich however you like.  I like plain old egg and cheese, but sometimes I get feisty and put a piece of bacon or slice of ham on top.  Now, the next step is important if you are using cheese.  If you aren't, disregard.

Reduce your oven temp to 300 degrees.  Wrap your sandwich in foil and stick it back in the oven for 10-20 minutes.  This will melt the cheese and get the sandwich scalding hot.  Since I eat breakfast at work I like to get the food as hot as I can so that will stay warm during our commute.  If you are eating the sandwich right away, you may just want to have it in the oven for 10 minutes as opposed to 20.

I hope that clears up any breakfast sandwich questions, but if not, feel free to leave me questions in the comments and I'll answer them!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Weigh In Wednesday

Hey all!  This morning's weigh in put me at another loss, so yay!  While I would have liked to have seen a little more of a loss, obviously almost a pound is good.

Previous Weight:  195.6
Today's Weight:  194.8
Difference:  -0.8 pounds

I will say that there are about a million places that I could tighten up my calorie intake and tracking to see better losses.  I mean I am losing each week, but I feel like there is more I have to lock down before I get the glitter cannons and 40 piece band going for myself.  While I am enjoying my walks and the stair stepper, it doesn't torch quite as many calories as I'd like, so I need to either ratchet my activity up, or alternatively drop my daily calorie allotment back down to 1500 calories.  Also I am not 100% diligent in tracking, there are things like a tsp of butter or a splash of half and half here and there every day that don't get tracked either because I get busy and forget or I get complacent.  Those things do add up, so now that I've really regained the habit of daily tracking, it's time to tighten things up.  Overall I'm still pretty pleased with how things are going, I just need to make small tweaks to improve.  I feel so much better and so much happier watching that number go down.  The 180's are not that far away.

One of my goals was to decide on a goal weight by March, but I think I'm ready to just go ahead and make a goal now.  The more I think about it, I feel like me not setting a goal weight range has been due to a secret fear of not being able to reach said goal.  I don't want to think like that anymore, even subconsciously, because I know I can achieve just about anything I set my mind to so therefore there's nothing to be afraid of.  I mean seriously, all I have to do it count calories, move my body and eat sensibly.  I know it works so there's really nothing to be scared about at this point.  After doing calculations and research I decided that I really want to get down to the 130-135 range.  It's lofty but the more I think about it, I think it's the right range for me and will be the weight I'm comfortable and happy at.  I'm actually pretty excited about the prospect, especially since if I keep at it, I could be there by the end of the year.  The smallest I've ever been was 140, and that was like 700 years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth so, the 130s will be interesting.

I was all philosophical and shit the other day about my weight loss, just reflecting about how I've changed for the better in little ways and I feel like the more I lose, the more I gain.  I'm rediscovering my love for fashion and suddenly realized how I want to put the effort into looking pretty and put together again.  Nothing crazy, just nicer clothes and looking casual but chic.  The more weight I lose, the bigger the urge I have to invest in myself, and it's a really nice feeling actually.  My legs are getting more and more toned due to that stair stepper, and I am obnoxiously excited when I do certain stretches and see my thigh muscles pop out.  It feels good to see that physical progress and to feel healthy.  Instead of hating my body now, I recognize that yes I have improvements to make, but I also see how much I've already done and acknowledge how fantastic that is.  There are a million more little things every day that I notice, mainly that I feel about 50 times more alive, energetic and happy at 36 than I did in my 20's.  It's taken a very long time and a lot of emotional thrash and nonsense to get here, but here I am.

Anyway, enough with the schmaltz so that I can segue in to a talk about food!  I haven't really made any new recipes lately but wanted to give a tip on making breakfast sandwiches that I thought some might find helpful.  I really love breakfast sandwiches, they're a great break from the yogurt and cottage cheese type breakfasts I normally gravitate towards to, plus they're super filling and freeze well if you make in bulk.  Anyway, my tip is to scramble the egg and pour it into a ramekin (spray the everloving hell out of the ramekin with cooking spray first) and bake it.  That way you get a perfectly round egg disc that fits nicely on an English muffin!  It's just a simple trick that makes things nice and symmetrical.  You kind of have to eyeball it, I baked the egg at 350 degrees for probably about 15 minutes, but my oven is psychotic and I have to watch it like a hawk.

I'm not a huge meat at breakfast person, but I did put a small slice of ham on these sandwiches.  And cheese, because eggs and cheese shall never be separated.  As my mother would say, "it's just not done."

My other thing is a PSA for salad because that was part of my weight loss musings the other day.  People get all janky about weight loss and the perception is that if you're losing weight then you're just eating salads, said salads are only made of plain lettuce leaves and that you must be miserable eating them.  And you kind of go along with that mentality, because no one is supposed to say they like salad, and no sane person would have a salad over say a burger.  But screw it, I'm just going to say it.  I actually kind of love salad.

I don't get the salad hate.  Besides the fact that they can look beautiful and taste amazing while still being healthful, there are literally thousands of combinations you could make so you couldn't possibly get bored.  I've been rocking the best roast beef salad this week for lunch, and both days I was actually excited to open my lunch pail to get after it.  I enjoyed it the entire time I was eating it, was sad when it was all gone and felt full afterwards.  This literally took nothing to pull together.  It is just romaine, cherry tomatoes, shaved carrot, hard boiled eggs and deli roast beef.  It was delicious and barely even needed dressing.

Salad certainly isn't all I eat, but I do enjoy them and think it's weird when people diss salads or act like you're supposed to be miserable eating them.  I don't know that salads need a PR campaign but what the hell, I'm putting myself out there as Team Salad.

And because I can't go without off topic topics, I had to share my latest "I'm about to explode" source of happiness.  Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys recently announced that he was doing a tour in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Pet Sounds album, and amazingly enough it's coming here.  I was able to get in on a presale today and get tickets, which just, oh my God.  First of all, I am a nervous ticket buyer to begin with, but for something like this I was literally about to have a stroke.  I of course got tickets, but my adrenaline was so crazy afterwards that my hands were shaking.  So ridiculous.  I rarely have awe filled moments with concerts, but I feel incredibly fortunate to be seeing Brian Wilson for the SECOND time, and to hear Pet Sounds performed.  I am literally doing the Wayne's World "we're not worthy" thing over it.  I am also so excited because Eric (and my aunt/uncle) is coming with me.  There were so many times at the show I went to last summer where I wanted him to be there.  BW isn't his "thing" really, but being the music guy he is I knew he'd appreciate BW's band.  They are amazing and on point, and I know he will enjoy this show.  There are also a couple of Beach Boys songs that make me think of Eric when I hear them, not to get all sappy and romantical, but it's true!  My uncle was also part of the "eh not my thing" crowd, but I put together a CD of the more obscure Beach Boys stuff and I think he gets it now and appreciates them.  That or he's scared to admit otherwise around me.  ;)

As a bonus, one of the songs that makes me think of my beloved.  :)

Also lastly, poor Molly is in sad panda mode over our new couch arrangement because she is now by herself and isn't laying next to me in the evenings clawing my arm to demand pets.  (Trust me, I am less sad about this.)  Sometimes she whines so pitifully that I'll go sit next to her on the old couch for a bit so that I can love on her.  I had to do it last night and the look of adoration on her face was so cute that I had to capture the moment.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

First Run of 2016, Dog Longing and Reading Updates

The Leap Year Dare challenge officially started, so I decided instead of walking it like I did the 12ks of Christmas challenge that I would run it.  I felt oddly nervous about it for some reason, I don't really know why other than I hadn't run since November and didn't know what to expect.  Would it be really hard?  Would I still hate running?  Would I get hurt again?  Could I question my life any more?  I am VERY happy to report that the run went very well.  For starters the challenge this week was 2k, ie 1.24 miles, so I was comforted by the fact that even if it was a horrible run that it would only be 15 to 20 minutes of horrible.  I took Molly with me and walked her for a mile just as a warm up and just to get her a little extra activity for the day.  After we had a nice walk, I put her in the car and got down to business.

I was surprised how good I felt during the run and I credit being back down weight wise and also my stair stepper for keeping my legs conditioned and strong.  I really didn't have any lung issues and my legs felt strong and energetic the whole time.  When I had gone about a half mile I looked down at my Garmin and was shocked to see that my pace was between a 12 and an 11.5 minute mile.  I hadn't really planned to go all out for this run but I was like, "maybe I should try for a sub 12 mile."  I picked up the pace a little bit, and with 5 seconds to spare I managed to do it!  I have never been able to do a sub 12 after taking so long of a break from running, and again, I totally credit the stair stepper for keeping my legs somewhat in shape.  It also made me do some soul searching about myself.  I've always said that I'm a slow runner, I'll never be fast, yada yada.  But it's like, what if it's just that I'm fat and not applying myself?  I'm already faster that I ever was, what if I were 20 pounds lighter?  40 pounds lighter?  Goal weight?  It's thrilling to think that someday I could be fast if I just keep applying myself.

The rest of the weekend has been very nice.  I had my coffee date with one of my readers yesterday and it was really cool to be able to sit down and chat with her.  She has done a lot of amazing traveling, which has inspired me to write a date on the calendar to get my passport stuff taken care of so that Eric and I can plan trips.  I'm hoping we can get together with more frequency!

My shelter shift was a bit bittersweet today.  A lot of people have told me that they couldn't volunteer at a shelter because they'd want to bring home every dog they meet, which is somewhat true, there have definitely been dogs where in a different set of circumstances I'd have worked on Eric to petition for dog #2.  Mostly though, I'm happy to spend time with them and am thrilled when they get adopted to loving homes.  Except this one dog.

So we work with all kinds of dogs, some of them being parts of court cases and victims of abuse.  There has been this sweet collie/shepard type dog there since I started volunteering, and I won't lie, I've fallen utterly and completely in love with her.  I love her as much as I love  Molly, and I am practically giddy that I get to hang out with her every week.  She is the most darling, beautiful, sweet dog and is incredibly smart and obedient.  Most endearingly, she loves to lay in your lap while she quietly chews on a Kong.  She's cuddly the way that I wish Molly was cuddly.  It hurts my heart that someone abused her to the point that she's been in our protective custody since August.  I came back from lunch the other day and saw an email from one of the shelter people saying that her abusive owner had plead guilty, was being fined/put on probation, and that my sweet girl was finally going to be put up for adoption.  I know I should be happy for her, but I admit that I sat at my desk and cried over the news.  I love Molly, I do, and I accept her as is.  But I am so devastated that she is an only dog kind of gal and that we simply can't bring another dog into the house.  It wouldn't be fair to Molly and wouldn't be fair to this poor dog that's already endured so much.  I love this other dog so much, she brings such joy to my Sundays, I wish things were different.  If she can find an owner who will love her a tenth as much as I do, she'll have a very happy life.

I wasn't sure if she was going to be in today but the county must still be working out all of the legal stuff involved with her because she was still there!  I was so impatient for the walker to get done walking all of the dogs so that I could go in and visit her, and it was the best visit yet.  I brought her an interactive toy, but all she wanted to do was lay in my lap and go to sleep.  We sat that way for 45 minutes and I enjoyed every minute of it.  There were lots of hugs, smooches to her nose and general quality time.  At one point she flipped almost on her back (so I was cradling her like a baby) and she was gazing up at my face.  As much as I 1000% wish she could come home with me, we had such quality bonding time today that I'm at peace with her being adopted.  It still hurts, but I know it's what she deserves.

I also wanted to give you guys a reading recommendation for the book I'm currently reading.

So Goodreads recommended this book to me, and since the title alone appealed to me I put it on hold at the library.  I am on 70 pages into this book and I swear, it's already changed my life.  If you are an introvert, PLEASE go pick this book up.  If you are a boss/manager, PLEASE pick this book up.

All of my life I've been a bit shy and introverted, and it's gotten more pronounced as I've gotten older.  I feel like it's a trait that's looked down upon in society but especially looked down upon in the corporate world.  I can't tell you how punished I was at my last job for being introverted and was constantly made to feel like a loser over simply being myself.  I tried to force myself to be more extroverted and all it did was make me utterly miserable, anxious and exhausted.  Moving to my new job was such a breath of fresh air because most everyone there is an introvert and it's such a wonderful situation.  I feel so much more relaxed, happy and accepted.  I feel valued and like I can put forth quality work.  I can't tell you how much more relaxed and mellow I am now that I can just be myself!

The book basically talks about famous introverts, the history surrounding this notion that being an extrovert makes you a better person/leader and gives a lot of scientific data about introverts.  It's not only really fascinating but even the little of it I've read has already made me feel validated and normal.  It's proof that introverts have a lot to offer the business world and the world in general, that we're valuable in society and that there's nothing wrong with the way we are!

My week shouldn't be too crazy, just kind of the usual!  I'll keep you guys updated for Weigh In Wednesday, or depending, Thinner Thursday.  ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thinner Thursday and the Leap Year Dare

Sooooo I did my weigh in yesterday and was UP a pound from last week and was 198.2.  Totally pissed me off because I knew that wasn't "real" weight, and no, I promise I am not using fat logic here.  It's being a chick logic and having once a month absolutely suck and cause havoc with my body and therefore the scale.  Pair that with my stupid stomach issues and it becomes madness.  Anyways, the Crimson Tides slowed yesterday and my body decided to go big potty, so I knew that my weight would be down today.  I weighed this morning and sure enough:

Previous Weight:  197.4
Today's Weight:  195.6
Difference:  -1.8 pounds

Because my vain streak is rearing its beautiful head I decided that instead of skipping a weigh in post for this week, that I was going to do a Thinner Thursday post instead of a Weigh In Wednesday.  It's also a good example not to get too bent out of shape about the scale since the human body is nutso.  Anyway the long and short of it is that I'm one pound away from my lowest weight of 194.6, and I am pretty darn happy about that.

This week has not been very exciting and I haven't really tried any new recipes that I can share with you guys.  I am going strong on tracking in My Fitness Pal, doing my stepper, walking and all of that.  It's actually kind of a relief to not have anything exciting to share since means our life has calmed down!  I've even managed to read 6 books so far this month, which is pretty awesome!

One thing I forgot to mention is that I signed up for another virtual race this year called the Leap Year Dare.  You run 30k altogether, but it's split out to once a week runs/walks.  It officially starts this Sunday and the first distance you do is 2k, and I actually am going to try to run it instead of walking.  I feel like it's time to kind of get back into the swing of thing with casual runs here and there.  I haven't run a step since the half marathon, so it will be interesting to see where I am at from a fitness standpoint.  I'm actually curious if the stair stepper has helped keep my leg strength up enough that it won't be a huge challenge.  The virtual race thing is cool on some levels, but it does feel like the pomp and circumstance is gone when you get your medal mailed to you before the race even starts!  I wanted to do this one because of the Leap Year aspect, but am not sure if I'll do another virtual race soon.

I don't have an aversion to running this point like I did right after the race, but I am pretty noncommittal now about signing up for a sanctioned race.  I definitely don't feel a drive to do anything longer than a 10k, and I feel like running best fits into my life as part of a casual 3-4 miles maybe 3 times a week or so.  Some of that is the weather, I just really don't have the desire to go out and get utterly soaked and cold in the name of training, and some of it is a feeling of having done it all and having nothing left to prove.  I mostly just care about being active in whatever way that feels good that day.

I am really looking forward to this weekend.  One of my closest friends who moved away is coming into town and we're going out with him on Friday for beers.  I haven't seen him since fall of last year so it'll be good to hang out.  Then Saturday I am VERY excited because I'm meeting one of my local readers for coffee!  K and I actually have met in person before when Katie from Runs for Cookies did a meetup earlier last year.  K and I don't live very far from one another and have been meaning to get together for months, but as you know the year kind of imploded for me and time got away.  I'm glad I can finally meet up with her and chat!  Sunday will be shelter day, football playoffs and me squeezing in my run for the Leap Year Dare.  I hope everyone has a fun, relaxing and active weekend planned!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper Review

Yes the long awaited stair stepper review!  Before we get rolling, let me give the disclaimer that I'm writing this review because I want to, I'm not a paid schill for Sunny Health & Fitness, all opinions are my own, I'm an honest, wonderful person, blah blah.

So once my half marathon was over and I determined I needed to take a break from running, plus we're having horrible weather that prevents me from getting out and doing as many walks as I'd like, I decided to look into getting some type of equipment that I can use indoors that is compatible with my house.  We live in a very small home with limited space, so sadly I don't have the space for an elliptical, treadmill or anything like that.  I COULD go to the gym, in fact I actually have a free membership through my work, but it is completely inconvenient, and I also hate gyms.  Those two things together are instant poison for any type of gym success, and I really did want something I could use at home.  I first read about these portable stair steppers on the Runs For Cookies blog, so I thought it sounded like a good option, so after some comparing on Amazon, I decided on the Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper.  It had really good reviews, it was under $60, I decided it was worth the shot even if it ended up sucking.

So here is the "aerial view" of the stepper.  The foot pedals are more than accommodating for my almost size 10 feet.  The stepper also comes with resistance bands that you can clip on or off the machine.  You can't see it in this picture, but there is a knob on the front that adjusts the resistance.  

It has a readout showing you how many minutes you've been stepping and how many steps you take, which is great.  Less useful is that it shows you calories burned, which obviously is a complicated metric to calculate and is an individual thing, so the number would not be accurate.

Yeah just in case you guys were wondering how long I've been intending to write this review.  Christmas....that's how long.  Anyway, I made my beloved take a full body shot of me on the stepper so that you can see the size and scale of it.  It's a tiny thing compared to most exercise equipment!

As you know one of my goals for January is to use my stepper for at least 15 minutes a day.  I'm happy to report that my streak is pretty good and I've missed only 2 days out of the month so far!  Here are my thoughts so far:

The Pros

  • The stepper gives me a MUCH better workout than I anticipated.  The first time I used it I was in full on sweats after just a couple of minutes, especially if I use the resistance bands.  Learning to balance yourself also gives you a bit of a core workout too, which is unexpected and cool.  I have noticed a huge difference in my legs and a lot more muscle definition.
  • The size of it is perfect, plus it's light but sturdy.  I can easily move it around, and sometimes I even move it into the kitchen if I want to use it while I'm waiting for something in the oven but need to be close to watch over whatever I'm cooking.
  • While I get a good workout using the stepper, it's not so intense that I dread using it.  It's fairly gentle and low maintenance, and I fully confess to having hopped on it with socks and no shoes, without wearing a bra, and I've also used it while wearing jeans and while wearing a dress (hey I was going somewhere right after and wanted to make sure I got my steps in!).  You don't need to get in full on workout regalia to use the stepper, which is nice.  It makes it all the more likely that I will actually use it since there's not a big "to do" involved.
  • I love that this is something that I can jump on and off of until I get however many minutes I'm going for that day.  It's not a workout video where you're doing something for an hour straight, or a gym situation where you want to commit a certain chunk of time.  When I first started using it, it was so challenging that I would just use it for 5 minutes at a time at random points of the day until I got my 15 minutes.  Now my new routine is to come home from work, throw on a TV show and get my 15-20 minutes in before I have to start dinner.  You could divide chunks of time up however you want honestly, which is great if you're busy and only have snippets of time here and there.

The Cons

  • The step range is small, it's not like using a stair machine at the gym.  That being said, depending on your fitness level you're going to get plenty of "burn" despite not having a huge range.
  • There is a weight limit of 250 pounds, which obviously sucks if you're just getting started and need a little something like this to get you going.
  • According to the manual you're only supposed to use it for 15 minutes at a time, which is kind of lame if you're in the zone.  I have mostly respected this, though I have used the stepper for 20 minutes straight before and then I give it a 10-20 minute break.  Some people in the reviews say they have used it up to an hour without issue, some people say they definitely notice that the machine seems hot after 15-20 minutes.  Use your best judgement I guess.
  • I have personally noticed that after 10 minutes the stepper makes a swooshing sound and can also squeak.  It's not so bad that I can't hear the TV over it or anything, but I think it would drive me nuts if I didn't have the TV or music on when I was using it.  It's not the biggest deal really, I don't expect a $50 piece of equipment to be silent, but just know that it does swoosh and squeak.  I think if I sprayed some WD40 on it it might help.
  • While the stepper seems sturdy now and is totally great, I can't foresee it lasting for years and years, but that may just be my Negative Nancy ways!
  • This isn't a con, just a suggestion.  Make sure you put this near a wall or something you can grab on for balance the first few times you  use it.  It definitely takes some practice to get your balance and being the graceful flower I am, I almost tumbled off of it the first couple of times I used it, and would have been screwed had I not been near a wall to steady myself.  Now I'm fine on it, but it definitely took some practice!
  • Some users reported that the pedals lost all resistance and rendered the stepper unusable.  This has not happened to me personally, in fact the stepper seems as solid as the day I got it, but I did want to mention it as a potential con.

Final Verdict

I definitely love my stair stepper and have fully integrated it into part of my fitness routine.  It's pretty much exactly what I wanted, a piece of equipment to use to be active while watching TV or listening to music that was also small and light.  I've already noticed positive changes in my legs and overall tone, and have noticed that even my thighs are smaller!  I mean I don't think I'm going to get the ripped body of my dreams using this, but it definitely provides a solid activity outlet for me now that the weather is crappy.

If you are interested in doing your own comparison, or if you're so jazzed about the stepper based on my review you want to go ahead and purchase it, I got mine from Amazon for a great price.  (I don't get any kind of benefit from you clicking on that Amazon link, it's just the normal old link!)  If any of you buy it, please feel free to let me know what your experiences are with it!   

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rainy Day Women

This weekend ended up being rather busy even though it didn't look that way from a calendar standpoint.  Friday night we went to a surprise birthday party for one of my old coworkers I hadn't seen in almost 2 years.  He was my account manager at the idiot place with no soul, and we always had a special bond.  Much like me he was just not cut out for our employer due to his introverted ways (sound familiar), and sadly ended up being laid off when Eric was.  Thankfully he's doing well now and is married to his childhood sweetheart.  He was TOTALLY shocked when he walked in and saw all of us sitting there, and we had a great time catching up.  He's changed for the better and seems a lot more relaxed and happy, which was good to see.

Saturday was super busy!  I started out the day by taking Molly for a 2.2 mile walk after breakfast.  I decided to go rogue and do the library park instead of our usual spot, it's just a lot more naturey and pretty, plus I had library books I needed to return.  I tend to avoid taking her there because sometimes asshats like to walk their dogs with no leash, but since it was storming I figured we were the only two beings dumb enough to go out in that.  We had a really nice walk, and I can tell that Molly was super into it.  She actually walked and was looking around the whole time instead of sniffing every little thing, which is her stall tactic when she's bummed out and doesn't want to walk.  The rain actually held off during our walk, which was a relief.  Sadly our horrible summer has segued into a horrible winter.  Usually we get some dry, cold days but it's mostly been storming since November!

We didn't run into unleashed dogs, but we ran into something that irritates me almost as much.  Molly is a delicate flower, and much like her mom, she doesn't have much use for her own kind.  She absolutely loves people, never meets a stranger and wants desperately for everyone to pet her, but she is just not into other dogs.  It's the reason we ended up with her in the first place, she was a return from her first adopted home because she bit the lady's other greyhound and constantly was trying to fight the other dog.  Anyway, at best she's indifferent to other dogs, and at worst she will snarl and snap if another dog tries to greet her.  And I don't want to give you a bad impression of Molly, despite my grousing about her she's a great dog and has lovely leash manners.  She's never going to lunge at a dog or go out of her way to start a fight or anything, she just doesn't want another dog in her face.  And I totally get it, I don't want humans in my face and forced interactions most of the time either!

I have no way of knowing which way her emotional wind is blowing on a given day, she literally goes from zero to snarl, so I just try to avoid dog meets all together if I can help it.  This seems to completely flummox and bum out other dog owners, and many people seem disappointed and determined that our dogs should meet.  I always get the "my dog is friendly!" chirped at me, to which I want to say "great for you, mine is a petulant asshole."  I try my best to very cheerily tell people "she's kind of grumpy with other dogs, nothing personal", but I always get the "you're lying to me" face as the person hesitates to see if I will change my mind.  It's especially complicated since Molly will be wagging her tail furiously since she wants to meet the other dog's owner, not the dog, so she makes me look like a liar.  It's kind of frustrating because people will purposely slow down and drag their feet in order to try to make a meet happen, and  There was a lady yesterday who wanted our dogs to meet and I don't know, I just get so tired of having to explain it to people, especially when I'm out for a solo reflective walk.  I guess my larger point is, even if your dog is friendly you should always take cues from the other dog's owner on whether a meet is appropriate or not.  I'm not trying to be a dick to you and your dog, in fact I'm being nice and possibly preventing your dog from getting snapped at!

After we walked I went grocery shopping, then came home to make lunch and help Eric get our living room set up for our new couch!  Once we got the living room shifted around and cleaned, my job was to keep Molly upstairs during the "window" the movers were supposed to come.  They quoted us between 1 and 4 pm, and thankfully came at 2 instead of making us wait.  Even so, I was able to get some stuff done upstairs.  We absolutely love the new couch, and have threatened Molly within an inch of her life if she gets on it.  She doesn't mind the banishment though because now she gets the ENTIRE old couch to herself until the day I can get it recovered.

Today was shelter shift day and it was a good one.  We only had 5 dogs and the laundry/dishes were light, so I actually got to feel like I accomplished something, plus I got plenty of time to hang out with the dogs.  Since there were so few I really got to spend quality time with each one.  There was an adorable Chihuahua who just wanted to be held and would cry very pitifully when you'd put him down.  As soon as you'd pick him back up he'd snuggle and stop crying, it was so cute.  I have really come around on little dogs, I used to not like them very much at all, but I've definitely met some sweet little guys during my shifts.  It's a good thing Molly is bitchy and we're not able to have a second dog, I'd have already come home with about 9 of them.  ;)

I spent most of this afternoon baking a special treat for my office (and my aunt's too).  It is Carnival season (ie Mardi Gras), so I made a King Cake to take up to the office.  If you have not heard of King Cake, in a nutshell it's a special pastry served during Mardi Gras season that's kind of this cinnamon roll/coffee cake type thing.  The dough is braided, there is cinnamon sugar going on, then it's topped with glaze and the official Mardi Gras colors of green, purple and gold.  There is a whole historical significance behind it that you can read more in detail here.  The main thing you need to know is that they are DELICIOUS.  They are expensive as all get out to order from New Orleans, so I was pleased when I found a good recipe last year that is very comparable to the cakes you taste back home.

This week should be very mellow and I'm actually looking forward to weighing in Wednesday somehow!  I was really on the go this weekend, so despite having a slice of King Cake (did you really think I wouldn't?),  I think things will turn out well.  I have a good meal plan this week as well and have just about everything prepped, so it should be steady as she goes.  And I SWEAR I will write a review for my stair stepper this week!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Raising a Glass to Those We've Lost

So this isn't going to be the cheeriest post, so if you're not in that mode today, feel free to skip it.  I just needed to talk though the huge losses this month of some of my favorite celebs.

This month has been so terribly difficult with losing Lemmy, David Bowie and Alan Rickman.  All three deaths were due to cancer (seriously cancer can eat a bag of dicks) and were sudden and shocking.  When celebrities such as Scott Weiland or Amy Winehouse die, of course it's upsetting and I mourn it no less, but it's not exactly a surprise due to some of the risky behaviors they engage in.  Sometimes it's inevitable.  But all three of these deaths were a punch in the gut because they were sudden.  Lemmy didn't find out until the last minute that he had cancer, but Bowie and Rickman in true dignified British fashion managed to keep their cancer private and live their remaining days on their own terms.  It made me love them more, because in a day and age where every celebrity's business is everywhere on the internet, they managed to do the unimaginable.  They were human and handled their illnesses with grace, dignity and without media interference.  Absolutely classy and in control of their lives until the bitter end.

Some may think it's silly to be so sad over celebrity deaths.  It's not like you know them, yet, certain people are such a part of our lives.  Certain music is the soundtrack of our lives, certain music helps you through life, certain movies are a tradition or evoke memories.  In a way, these people are very much a part of our lives and who we are, and I think it's not only okay but necessary to mourn their loss.

I think ultimately too, it sparks deeper mourning and fear within us when these things happen.  David Bowie was never supposed to die.  He's been here as long as I've been alive, he's always been here and will always be here right?  Alan Rickman was supposed to last forever and ever.  Now they are gone and it brings up complicated feelings of your own mortality and the mortality of those around you.  In my mind Alan Rickman still looked like the sexy Hans Gruber, but in reality he was 69.  If Alan Rickman was 69, and David Bowie was 69, that means I am getting older too.  It means more people like these, musicians and actors who are such a part of my life and have always been there, can die.  And even more chillingly it reminds you that this extends to parents, siblings and friends.  None of those people are supposed to leave us, but Lemmy was never supposed to leave us either.

I know that's very dark and heavy, but this many deaths of beloved people at once has kind of broken my spirit this month.  I needed to honor them and talk about them, and to acknowledge my own complicated feelings about it all.


So as you guys know, I love music.  I love rock and roll.  But most of all, I love authentic, genuine, take no prisoners prisoners artists such as Lemmy.  In an industry where every little thing is manufactured and carefully packaged, Lemmy carved a "no f*cks given" life, and inspired countless other musicians along the way.  He was one of the ones who gave us true, dirty, gritty rock and roll with no apologies.  Most of all, I love that Lemmy was a man of simple pleasures.  He loved his Jack and coke, and he loved playing his favorite video game at The Rainbow.  No frills, nothing fancy, just being Lemmy.

I fell in love with The Rainbow the first time Eric ever took me, so every time we go to LA I insist on eating there.  Every time we go, we try to see if we can catch a glimpse of Lemmy at the bar playing his video game.  Alas, Lemmy was never there any of the times we went, and it breaks my heart that our little game of trying to see Lemmy "in the wild" has ended.

All I can say is SHAME on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for not having inducted Motorhead.  Lemmy was a rock god, and Motorhead has inspired countless artists.  Hopefully they will stop being absolute pricks and will give him the honor he deserves.

David Bowie

This one was hard.  As I said before, David Bowie was never supposed to die.  He was otherworldly, a strange alien being that was just going to be here forever.  How did this happen?

I was not an insane mega fan like many of my friends (some could literally teach college courses on Bowie), but I loved him just the same.  I loved his oddness, his unique voice and his authenticity.  It's hard to pick favorite songs, but GOD "China Girl" is so sexy, I love that song.  "Golden Years", "Heroes", "The Man Who Sold The World", "Rebel Rebel"....I could go on for hours.  I can't process that David Bowie is gone, this unique man who gave so much to us through music and movies, who has inspired so many other artists.  In a world of manufactured imitators and posers, he was unique and special, a treasure.

His new Blackstar album that was released two days before his death, an album written when he surely knew he didn't have much time left, is bizarre, wonderful and sobering.  You should take the time to listen to it.  The opening lyrics to his song "Lazarus" are "Look up here, I'm in heaven."  Another lyric from the song reads "This way or no way, You know I'll be free."  All I can say is that taking control of your terminal illness and having the courage to turn it into performance art is the ultimate in badassery.

Alan Rickman

I will be honest with you guys, this one cuts me most of all.  When I came down this morning and saw the post from Desiree  that our beloved Alan Rickman was gone, I felt intense, real grief.  I am still processing it, and I cannot believe we've lost him.

Alan was the unspoken "mascot" of our Lovely Ladies group, the hotness by which all other men were measured.  To be honest, I thought I was the only woman in the world with a "thing" for Alan Rickman.  It started a  million years ago when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves.  Costner and Christian Slater were dreadful in it but I remember as a young lass thinking, "the bad guy is kind of hot and hilarious."  I especially fell in love with him as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.  What woman doesn't want her partner to look at her the way Colonel Brandon looks at Marianne in that movie?  Seriously, it's hot.  He's hot in it.

And I suppose I should mention Harry Potter and his role as Snape, which of course he was masterful at though it's not the thing I'll remember him for.  What I WILL never forget was going to see the first movie with a friend (who also happened to have a crush on Rickman).  The first time he came on screen and did a very dramatic turn around she muttered, "That's right Snape, looking hot as SHIT in that cape."  I seriously almost blew popcorn on the people in front of me I laughed so hard.  It also confirmed to me that yes, capes are hot.

And I make no apologies for saying this, he is especially hot as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.  It's hard to hate on a villain when they are that sexy.  I made an offhanded Rickman comment in our ladies group one day, and I remember Meg tentatively asking "Do you think Rickman is hot?"  I decided to let my freak flag fly and admitted that yes, I absolutely did.  The floodgates opened and pretty much every lady in the group admitted that she too had the hots for Rickman.  It was in the infancy of the group and I swear to God it's the thing that bonded us for life.  We've talked about him so much that we've joked he's going to take a restraining order out on our group, like literally.  Several of us watched Die Hard and Love Actually over Christmas and of course giggled and cackled about Rickman.  On my birthday I got a mighty amount of Rickman pictures posted to my Facebook wall by my ladies.  You want to talk about a part of my every day life, there was rarely a day when we didn't joke about him or mention him.  We were even talking about incorporating him into a logo for our group somehow.  Losing him somehow hurts the worst, truly.

I will leave you with a smile, however half hearted and inappropriate.  Desiree shared this on my Facebook wall this morning, and the title of the picture was F*ck Cancer.  That's pretty much all there is to say about it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weigh In Wednesday

Previous Weight:  199.6
Today's Weight:  197.4
Difference:  -2.2 pounds

I am happy to report that I stepped on the scale this morning and had a 2.2 pound loss!  I guess my body just needed to adjust to being back in the swing of things, who even knows.  I can tell that my body is starting to change back for the better, and especially with the use of my stair stepper, my legs in particular are getting leaner.  I'd like to start incorporating casual running back into the mix if the weather would stop being a ridiculous monsoon every day, sigh.  I guess if I were a better woman I'd suck it up and go out and get drenched to the bone, but as we know, I'm not that woman!  At this point my walks during the work week and my minutes on the stair stepper seem to be getting the job done, so I suppose I'll make do.

I have been meaning to write a review for my stair stepper now that I've had a couple of weeks to test it.  I promise I will write that review in the  next couple of days, but in short, I really like it and it's been a life saver!

There's really not much to report, I've been cooking a lot of standards this week though I did test 2 new recipes on Sunday, both Cooking Light ones.  So dinner Sunday night was supposed to be this Slow Cooker Turkey Mole, and good God I have not had a cooking fail like that in ages.  Full disclosure, I used a turkey breast instead of the legs, but that wasn't the issue.  The sauce was this horrible, muddy, scorched tasting, one note sauce.  Just utterly vile, and the part that pissed me off the most (besides wasting a turkey breast) was that the prep was labor intensive and I had to buy crap I wouldn't normally buy.  Nothing worse than spending forever on something and having it taste like burned ass basically.  I have never had mole, but I'm assuming it's not supposed to taste like that?  I literally had to throw the entire batch away uneaten, and I am NOT a picky person, I will eat even mediocre food.  It has to be super gross for me to not eat it, and this was just too nasty to eat.  You've been warned.

Anyway, since  the mole was an utter fail I was scrambling to pull together a fast dinner to take its place.  Thank God for small favors and a stocked pantry, because I was able to make the other Cooking Light recipe on my list, Cheeseburger Pizza.  Thankfully this was the polar opposite and super delicious.  I sadly did not take a picture of it because I was too busy inhaling it down my throat while watching the Golden Globes.

Not having the mole work out and having to make the pizza threw my meal plan out of wack for the week, but it's okay because we've still been eating well.  Last night I made black eyed peas with sliced bratwurst over rice, which was super tasty and made plenty for lunch today.  Tonight we're going out with some friends at one of my favorite pubs, and I've already planned my dinner out.  This place has this amazing grilled romaine salad, and I know that sounds weird but I seriously crave this salad!  I'm getting that tonight and adding chicken, and will try to limit myself to one beer.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Weekend Wrap Up

I honestly couldn't be happier with how 2016 is going, not only from a health standpoint but just a general overall standpoint.  Things have been relaxing, we've had plenty of time to ourselves, I've been sleeping great and just generally have a better attitude about life.

No official weigh in until Wednesday, but my weight has gone down numbers wise on the scale, so I am pretty happy about that.  Hopefully that will continue and give me a good "official" number on Wednesday!

Our weekend was pretty mellow and very domestic.  Friday night we rented this horror movie called "He Never Died" that stars Henry Rollins.  It was a very unique and fun movie, I say fun because while it is a horror movie it was very funny and not super gross like so many horror films are now.  I was actually able to go to sleep after watching this one!

Saturday we went shopping for a new couch.  The one we have has been in my family a really long time, and while I love it, it desperately needs to be recovered and get new stuffing.  I don't want to get rid of it because it's such a unique couch (it's insanely long), but it's gotten pretty uncomfortable and I don't really have the cheddar for a recovering project right now.  My sister in law and her husband are coming to visit us in February, so all of the furniture we're unhappy with became very evident!  We found a really nice little couch at a closeout price yesterday, so we snapped it up.  I was anxious because as we were getting the sales guy's attention, some woman came in shopping and was sitting on the couch we wanted.  I hissed to Eric that she was sitting on our couch and we'd better buy it ASAP lol.  We celebrated our purchase with a light lunch and beer at one of our favorite pubs, then relaxed the rest of the day.  I did take Molly for a 2 mile walk yesterday, which instead of wearing her out seemed to energize her into insanity.  Sigh.  Upon Desiree's recommendation we watched the documentary "Soaked in Bleach", and OMG if you are a Nirvana fan you need to see it!  Basically it's all about Kurt's death and that there is plenty of evidence that it was murder and not suicide.  I think even my very skeptical husband was a bit intrigued by all the evidence that was presented, and of course I've always thrown a side eye at Courtney Love, so I was definitely convinced.

Today has been really mellow, I did my shelter shift and it was really great this week.  The last couple of weeks we haven't had quite the large volume of dogs as previous weeks, so my cleaning stuff gets taken care of quickly and I've been able to spend an hour or more with the dogs working on training and socialization.  It really is so rewarding even though it can be sad sometimes. We had a dog come in who I'm pretty sure was used as a bait dog, but he is just sweet as he can be and so trusting.  I worked with a very scared dog today who slowly came out of her shell and not only easily picked up "sit" and "down", but eventually she very shyly came up and snuggled in my lap and wanted to be petted.  Apparently it was lap dog day, because most of the dogs seemed to want to be in my lap, including one of my favorite dogs (she is part of a court case so I'm omitting her name) who despite being 60 pounds decided that my lap was the best place to sit and enjoy the interactive toy I gave her.  It's pretty much my version of heaven, snuggling cute dogs for 2 hours!

New Recipes

I've continued to test new recipes this week and have a couple of winners that I wanted to share.  The first is a recipe from Cooking Light (shocker!) for beef tostadas with cheesy beans and cilantro rice.

This is one of my favorite things I've ever made from Cooking Light, seriously.  It was so delicious, it tasted indulgent (but really wasn't) and was a great Friday night meal.  Seriously, who doesn't love Mexican food on Friday night after work!  I definitely will be adding this to the rotation!

The second recipe was for Giada's Grown Up Franks and Beans.  I heavily modified this recipe because some of the amounts of ingredients in it were outrageous.  I mean 8 ounces of bacon Giada, really???  Anyways, I only used 2 slices of bacon and it was more than enough, and I really could have gotten away with just doing 1 slice.  I used bratwurst instead of the hot sausage in the recipe.

I really enjoyed this one, it was perfect for a cold evening.  I thought it was plenty spicy without having hot sausage in it, though I did put a few dashes of Crystal hot sauce in it.

Molly always finds our dinners quite interesting no matter what they are!

At night for dessert I've been indulging in wine and Dove Promises.  I've been saving my wine for after dinner because I find that I will actually sip it and enjoy it, whereas if I drink it with dinner I tend to have too much.  Now I just take my wine and my 5 Dove Promises and enjoy it all on the couch.  Overall I'm happy to be back in my routine and back to tracking!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday Weigh In

Today I'm going to be uncharacteristically orderly and have nice topic sections!

Wednesday Weigh In

Previous Weight:  199.6
Today's Weight:  199.6
Difference:  0

So I weighed last Friday as a "slay the dragon" weigh in to see where I was at, but I intend to do weigh ins on Wednesdays going forward.  I've always found that's the best day to do them since my body tends to go insane on the weekends no matter what I do!

Even though  I'm not a full week into my healthy habits and goals for January, I feel amazing and thus anticipated already losing a little something, maybe like a half pound.  I'm not going to lie, I was a bit deflated and surprised when I stepped on the scale this morning and it was still at 199.6.  After moping about it for a half hour or so, I reminded myself that my clothes are already fitting so much better and I feel good physically.  I'm comfortably wearing a pair of skinny jeans that I wasn't really able to wear 2 weeks ago, and I'm already confident wearing my more form fitting shirts instead of baggies.  For whatever reason the scale can be a sociopathic asshole sometimes and not reflect those types of feelings or changes so, I got over it.  I know that if I keep on doing what I'm supposed to do, the number will go down eventually, so I am just not going to worry about it.  One thing I am going to monitor, when I started back to tracking in My Fitness Pal, I bumped my daily calories from 1500 to 1600 a day.  If I don't see a change in weight next week, I may bump back down to 1500 to see if that helps.  Other than that, it's business as usual.

Recipe Roundup

One of the fun things about rebooting and focusing on health and weight loss is that I'm much more focused on trying new recipes, and especially with it being cold and damp all the time I'm much more likely to pull out soup recipes that I've earmarked for a rainy day.  As y'all know, I'm obsessed with Cooking Light magazine and cannot sing their praises enough, I literally have kept every issue of them since I started getting it and am constantly going back and flipping through for ideas.  I've earmarked quite a few recipes to try, and I've tried a couple this week that I thought I'd share.

Slow Cooker Smoky Ham & Split Pea Soup

So true Hollywood confession....I had never had split pea soup until Tuesday night.  It's not something my mom ever made, nor something that has ever entered my mind in adulthood until I was browsing recipes in Cooking Light and saw that I had 95% of the ingredients to make it, plus it was a slow cooker recipe.  It was mindlessly easy to make (I did chop the celery/garlic/onion/carrot the night before), and while it's a very ugly soup, it was very tasty.  I didn't mash the soup per the directions but instead gave it a short whirl around my Vitamix since I like more of a silky texture in soups as opposed to chunky.  I didn't do the whole sour cream bit on top from the recipe and didn't feel like that detracted anything from the final results.  I did put several dashes of Tabasco on top of my soup, which was a really awesome addition.  In short, I'd definitely make it again, it's a nice soup for a cold day, plus it was super easy.  It also made plenty for lunches, (I found that I enjoyed it even better today!) which is always a bonus.  Click here for the Split Pea Soup recipe!

The serving size is a 1.25 cups.  The magazine listed each serving as 304 calories and 4.6 grams of fat a serving, but when I put the recipe in MFP it came up as 526 calories and 6 grams of fat a serving.  Not sure why the discrepancy since I followed the directions to the letter AND left out the sour cream, but I'm going with the higher number, especially what with the ham hocks and all.  It's the first time I've ever had a Cooking Light recipe not line up with MFP, so I'm just calling it a fluke.

Side note...I have tried every cornbread recipe known to man, but nothing surpasses those little boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix for me.  Seriously, it is the perfect cornbread texture and has a faint hint of sweetness.  I am usually Team Homemade, but nothing seems to beat Jiffy and at 99 cents a box, I can't argue with that.

Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

So....I had a picture that I took of this lasagna after I pulled it out of the oven, but it was NOT pretty.  It's one of those foods that just looked gross, so, I decided to axe it.  Anyway, I was so excited to make this lasagna tonight.  I actually put together two 4 serving pans of these last week for the freezer while watching and weeping over the Kennedy Center Honors (seriously though).  I am a big fan of freezer things (insert "Freezes Beautifully" meme from Steel Magnolias that I could NOT find despite my best efforts), and when I can I try to stash extra meals in the freezer.  It's such a pain when you're making them, but so magical when it's a weeknight and you're all like "Hey, a lasagna out of thin air!"

I'm on the fence about this one, and sadly it didn't live up to my excitement.  It tasted good enough and was filling, but I kind of wish I'd baked one of the lasagnas right after putting it together.  I feel like the time in the freezer changed the sauce, and it came across as floury rather than cheesy.  When I originally made the sauce I was so impressed by how indulgent it tasted, and the nutmeg truly did add a special something to it.  Sadly I got none of that once it thawed and baked, plus I found that the spinach and mushroom were watery, so the noodles didn't have that crispness on the corners that I love in a traditional lasagna.  Some of that may have been due to the fact that they were no boil noodles, which I have yet to be impressed with.  I mean I didn't hate it, but I fear that it did not freeze beautifully, so I'd just make one large pan and bake it ASAP.  I also think it would be better with chicken breasts rather than thighs.  I don't want to totally dissuade you from making it, I just would recommend baking it right away rather than freezing it.  Click here for the Chicken Lasagna recipe!

Activity Report

Nothing crazy to report here, I've mostly been trying to get in walks during work hours despite us still dealing with fall out from the snow and ice storm.  The streets and sidewalks are still wet, and lately at night it's been dipping down below freezing, so it's a scene in the mornings!  My poor coworker almost ate pavement on our morning walk, but I was able to walk to the bank at lunchtime without bodily harm.  I did get in almost an hour of walking today, which is nice.  I think all of the ice nonsense is supposed to be over by tomorrow, so I'm going to spend my whole lunch hour walking.

I am also on day 6 of my stair stepper regime at night, and things are going well with that.  It's definitely a workout, so much so that the other night I literally went into the backyard when I was done stepping just to try to cool down.  I was able to stay out there for quite a bit even though it was in the 20's, that's how hot I was!

That's really about it for this week so far.  I hope everyone is having a good one!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Chapter, Surprise Snow and Good Reads

Happy 2016 everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's free of hangovers and full of goal contemplation.  We had a really nice and boring evening.  They didn't let us out of work early (rude!), but we leave at 3:30 anyways so it really wasn't that big of a deal.  I came home, we put together a nice cheese plate and opened a nice bottle of champagne.  Believe it or not, that was all I had all evening alcohol wise, I must really be getting old.  Food on the other hand, well...we hoovered down quite a bit of the cheese, and then inspired by Home Alone 2, I decided to make myself a really huge, delicious sundae with a ton of toppings.

We listened to music (Motorhead, B.B. King, Stone Temple Pilots, Ben E King as a tribute to those we lost in 2015), tortured the dog by making her wear NYE hats and then turned over to the Anderson Cooper/Kathy Griffin NYE show at almost 9 pm PST.  I absolutely despise Kathy Griffin, but it's the least of all the evils.  We celebrated an East Coast midnight, and then were in bed by 10 pm.

Old people I tell ya.

The next day I was more than ready to turn over a new leaf and begin working on my goals and weight loss again.  I stepped on the scale with absolute terror, especially since I haven't weighed for like 2 months, but was shocked to see that somehow I was still under 200 pounds.  My lowest weight before everything blew up was 194.6, and I was 199.6 on Friday.  I'm totally thrilled that I was only up 5 pounds considering how horribly I've eaten the last 3 months, but that was a huge mental boost that I'm more than happy to accept.  Mentally, going back to tracking food and portioning everything has clicked very well.  I feel like I finally, FINALLY am in that headspace and am excited for it.  The physical part has been difficult this week, I'm back in that habit of eating so much that eating smaller portions has been difficult.  On Friday I was so hungry and thus went over my calories by eating ice cream, and last night I managed to white knuckle it and stay under despite desperately wanting to snack late.  Were I in a normal flow of tracking and exercising I would have honored my hunger and not white knuckled it, but I know this is my body's way of protesting and I'm going to have to let myself be hungry until I get used to normal portions again.

That being said, it perversely feels good to feel hungry again.  By the end of December, I couldn't remember the last time I actually felt hungry and not stuffed to the gills.  It was a disgusting feeling, so it feels good to feel lighter again.  It's been nice to focus on getting fruits and vegetables in the diet again, and while I can hardly crow about my progress at 2.5 days in, I've definitely gotten in my five-a-day.  I've been hitting up my Cooking Light magazines to plan meals, and tried out this new recipe last night for Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Penne.  It was delicious!

I've also gotten in activity every day, mostly just gentle, enjoyable walks, but I have honored my 15 minute per day commitment on my stair stepper.  So far so good, but that thing is no joke.  I was sweating bullets last night!  It is nice to have something I can step on quickly and get at least a little movement while watching TV.  Today we got a bit of a surprise and got a snowstorm (no, the weather people did not predict it), and since I turn into a child over snow and needed some activity, I made poor Eric go take a walk with me in it.

We walked for about 40 minutes, then I came home and shoveled our driveway and our neighbor's driveway because I'm a weirdo and like shoveling snow.  I mainly did it because I was so antsy and figured I might as well get in some extra activity, plus I fear tomorrow is going to be a shitshow due to predicted ice storms, so I figured it was best to clear the decks.  Oregon doesn't actually plow the roads here when it snows, nor do they put down any type of deicing agent or salt, so when we get snow it's a total scene.

I am also pleased to tell you that I have finished not one, but two books already!  Okay, don't be too impressed, I did start them a couple of weeks ago.  I'm fast but I'm not that fast!  ;)

I am so happy to be back reading again, and already feel like it's made such a difference in my life.  On weeknights we've been going up at like 8 pm and reading, and last night I went up at around 6 when Eric was watching a concert on TV and just powered through my second book.  Basically any time I am mindlessly surfing on my phone or laptop and am not actively doing something, I force myself to put it down and go upstairs where it's quiet to read.  I've noticed that I've been sleeping better and feel calmer, and that reading has made me feel more focused.  It's definitely been a smart goal for me and has fed my need to slow down and calm my brain a bit.

The first book I finished was Joyland by Stephen King.  I absolutely love SK but am so far behind on his stuff since he writes about 100 books a year.  In other words, he's the OPPOSITE of George R.R. Martin.  (Seriously George, still no Winds of Winter?)This one was pretty tame and approachable for an SK novel, but it's basically a murder mystery set in an amusement park.  It immediately caught my attention when I started it and I easily plowed through.  I mean it's certainly not the greatest SK book ever written, but it was really enjoyable.  The second book was Hot Freeze by Douglas Sanderson, and it was a bit of a quirky purchase that I picked up at a little bookstore in Seattle called the Seattle Mystery Bookshop.  It is a murder mystery published in 1954, and it is definitely of its time.  I'm actually surprised at some of the blatant sex and drugs stuff that's in it but you know, good for Douglas I guess.  There is a lot of slapping women around stuff that I wasn't wild about, but it was written in 1954 so I'll give it a pass.  It was a pretty decent book all in all.  When I was at the Mystery Bookshop they gave me 2 free books, so I started on one of those last night.  It's called Traveler's Rest by Keith Lee Morris.  It's yet another mystery/paranormal type book and has been pretty entertaining so far.