Saturday, March 29, 2014

Giving Up...Fried Foods

Fried food has always been our downfall.  I mean who can resist hot, crispy, salty French fries?  Well, not me.  Or Doyle, for that matter. And yes, McDonald's fries are our fries of choice.  The phrase, "Would like that super sized?" was coined just for Doyle.  Okay, maybe not just for him, but he was certainly thrilled by the addition of super sized fries.
 If given the choice, Doyle always choses fried...anything.  But last night, he told me that he thinks that he needs to give up fried foods.  Hallelujah!  I have been trying to get him to this point for years.  I don't expect miracles.  I know that he will still crave the salty goodness of fried potatoes, okra, chicken, shrimp, catfish, steak fingers, and don't even get me started on the sweet things like doughnuts, funnel I really need to go on? 
 However, our journey is about taking things one step at a time.  At the risk of sounding like an AA wanna be, admitting you have a problem is the first step.  Maybe the most important step, or maybe just a necessary step that we have to repeat until we are able to move forward, like a waltz, one step forward, two steps back. Anyway,  hearing Doyle say,
"Karen, I think I need to stop eating fried food because it makes my heart beat me to death."
Just for grins.
was music to my ears (the Hallelujah chorus to be exact). Doyle may not listen to me, but he does listen to his heart. Since this is about Doyle's health not me, I can live with that. Even better, he can too.   Does this mean that we have to give up McDonalds?  Not at all.  McDonald's has made life much easier for us because they posted the calorie count of all their menu items. There are several things that we can choose from that allow us a treat without guilt.  One of our favs is the parfait. It's not quite the same as French fries, but it's a choice we can live with. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's a no go without a cuppa joe

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Last summer, when we were sketching out our diet plan, the next hurdle that we had to face was coffee.  Doyle and I like to start our day with a cup of  coffee.
70 calories of creamy goodness! Oh yeah.

When we were at our son's house, the weekend before we started our diet, we discovered "native pecan" coffee and fell in LOVE.  At home, we aren't always able to find the same products that are available in Houston, but we went to our neighborhood Brookshire Brothers to see what flavored coffees were available in our neck of the woods.  As it turns, Brookshire Brothers had just what we needed.  GO figure.  That almost never happens.  Better than that, most of their flavored coffee was on sale--like cheaper than regular coffee. SO I bought eight different flavors. Coffee has no calories, so why not?  We went through the creamer and sugar options and finally settled on Coffee Mate (because I won't drink anything else) and stevia. Coffee Mate is 10 calories per teaspoon. Stevia has 0 calories.  That would mean that if I used 10  teaspoons of Coffee Mate, which I sometimes do, then my coffee would go from 0 calories to 100 calories in a matter of a few creamy seconds.  But it is so worth it. My morning cup of coffee usually costs me about 70 calories.  And I love every one of them.   We have added many flavors to our coffee klatch since the summer.  Such delicious flavors as blueberry donut, amaretto, vanilla biscotti, hazelnut, Texas pecan, caramel drizzle, mocha, and others, gone but not forgotten.  There is something about that first cup of coffee each morning that really helps me get my day in gear. Being able to drink it without feeling guilty for indulging myself with the creamy goodness of it, the commercial says...that is priceless. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Saying Hello to a More Active LIFE!

Things I Would Like To Try

Okay, this Donna.  Most of the post, at least to date, are written by Mom (Karen).  Today, I thought I'd give it a try.

There are a lot of recipes and activities that I see on Facebook, the internet, in a book, or just in daily life that I would like to try, investigate, get plugged into, or find out more about. Whether I ever do all of them or not is yet to be seen, but  I a going to post a few of them today.  Then I am going to choose one or two, give them a try, and keep you updated. I'll give you the skinny on how they taste or feel or how bad they went. When you look at my list, don't smirk. Some are just fantasies that will never (or most like not be done by me, although I am not ruling them out), but a girl can dream, can't she? And it is always good to have goals to shoot for.
  • Let's start with something easy first:  This popped up on the feed back in January and I just haven't gotten the chance to make it yet. It seems more of a summer dish, and lucky for me, summer is barreling down upon us. 

Doesn't this look refreshing?
                                               Cucumber Sub   
If you love cucumbers, you will love this. I saw this on a friends page and I had to repost.

 Cucumber subs with turkey, green onions and Laughing Cow cheese! Yum!! All the goodness without all that bread! Sorry, but even though we aren't technically counting carbs, I still find myself conscious of the carbs in everything.  If you want to check it out for your self, it was on the  90 day fitness challenge
  • Now for a personal goal:  A couple of  weeks ago as I driving to pick up my Mom, I a heard a 5k being advertised The Fresh 15 in Tyler. And I decided that by next year I would be able to compete in a 5k and maybe the Relay for Life. So. I looked up a list of races for the next year and I guess I am going to have to start at least walking if I am going to make my goal. The list of races can be found here. List of 5k's.

An activity that I want to get out and start doing is photography. For Christmas my parents gave me a camera and on our last trip to see my nephew we took him to the park and I got some great pictures. Now, I want to see if I can get better at taking them. That means practice. Maybe someday I will take a class but for now I think I will go out and take pictures of the world around me and of course my nephew. Like these:    


Texas School of Professional PhotographyWhen  I am ready, there are some really impressive schools out there that are Close to home.

Egypt River Cruise - Abu SimbelFantasy hmm, let me think.... Yesterday on T.V. I saw some river cruises advertised and it made me curious. So, I looked them up. They have cruises in Europe, Asia, South America, Russia, and even the U.S. But my favorite (and the one that would be my first choice was a trip down the Nile in Egypt. You would get to see the pyramids and the Rames II statues and all sorts of other places. So if you want to check that out, you can follow this link .River Cruises. Should any of you at there in cyberland to go on one of these cruises before me, let me know how it went.   

Which do you think I should try first?  Are there any cool things out there that I should know about?  If so, send them on over.


Monday, March 17, 2014

As it turns beans are still cheap.

March 17, 2014

I'm 'waxed coke bottles and
candy cigarettes'
years old.
And today, I am feeling every decade.
Hardly anyone ever says, "Give us a ding-a-ling on the old ring-a-ling later." anymore. 
I grew up eating red beans, fried potatoes (fried in bacon grease or lard)YIKES!!!!, and homemade biscuits. Store bought bread was a treat saved for Sundays, as it was too expensive to eat everyday. We didn't eat a lot of meat, but every meal, well, except breakfast which was oatmeal, included red beans.  There is a lot of press on how beans are healthy, full of fiber, low calorie, and low fat these days.  However as a child we ate them because they were cheap.  My parents had 7 children and a rather small grocery budget.  We didn't know what leftovers were because nothing was ever left over at our house.  We had never seen a McDonalds--all the Mickey Dee's were in large cities in those days.  My dad would rather go home and eat cold biscuits and sweet milk than go out to eat in any restaurant.  Since Dad wore the pants in the family, ruled the roost, laid down the law, oh you get what I am saying, we ate at home every meal.  Oddly enough, despite the bacon grease that was liberally used to season our food, no one in our family suffered from childhood obesity, we were skinny little kids.  I am sure that a methane gas cloud hung over our house, but we lived out in the country so neighbors didn't need to call in the hazmat team to neutralize the risk. 

Red beans are still cheap.  Even better, they are delicious and as it turns out, really, really good for you.  I still eat them on occasion, but rarely ever eat fried potatoes any more.  Now, as adults, my family has discovered not just McDonalds, but Burger King, Taco Bell, Jack-N-the-Box, What-A-Burger, and on and on--the list of fast food chain restaurants gets longer everyday.  Now, we are obese--morbidly so according to the doctor.  Maybe Dad knew what he was talking about when he said, "The food they serve in those restaurants will kill you." He wasn't speaking of any particular restaurant, just lumping them all together in one large out to kill group.  Unfortunately, he never bought the idea that cigarettes were harmful to your health. In 1998, he passed away due to complications brought on by years of cigarette smoking.

When I say red beans, I really am talking about pinto beans.
Lesson learned. 
Just because I don't acknowledge that something is harmful to me, doesn't mean that it won't kill me.
  Donna makes really awesome red beans, maybe I'll suggest that she cook us some beans for dinner tomorrow.  Without the fried potatoes and biscuits, can't go down that road, but the beans and some zucchini cornbread muffins, I could dig it.

If you want to know more about the goodness of beans, check out Battle of the Beans. 'Today' Food Editor, Phil Lempert, weighs in on the different varieties of beans and their health benefits.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Giving sodas, that is.

March 16, 2014

Don't you just love these ecards?
I have had this very conversation with more than one waitress over the years.  Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi are not interchangeable.  Why would any sane person think that they are?
But I no longer need to carry my Monopoly money with me because I don't have to deal with this particular issue any more. I gave up diet cokes.  Not for Lent, as I am not catholic.  I gave them up for good. 
Whether or not we should give up diet coke is a question that we, my family and I, have wrestled with for many years.  It is really crazy this hold that diet coke has over us.  When we first began drinking diet coke, we had to force ourselves to drink the diet version of coke rather than regular coke.  That was many years ago. In the years since we made the switch from regular coke to diet, I can honestly say that there were days that I guzzled diet coke like it was the elixir of life. 
However, two years ago, on July 13th, Donna woke up to realize that she couldn't see out of her left eye.  Visits to doctors were followed by test to make sure she didn't have diabetes or some other medical condition that would cause her to lose her vision.  During this time, she made the decision to stop drinking diet coke.
 It was a very stressful and scary time for all of us and letting go of diet drinks seemed like something I could grab onto that would let me get back a little bit of control. So I stopped drinking diet cokes as well. (My hubby is a little bit tougher nut to crack.  He brings home diet cokes, or Dr. Pepper now, when every he stops for drinks and Donna or I am not there to remind him we don't drink diet sodas anymore.) 
Back to the point, this is not the first time we have quit drinking diet soda. We have on more than one occasion declared that we wouldn't drink diet soda.  Sometimes this would last for up to six months before we caved and went back to our nasty little 64 ounce or more a day habit.  That is one or more Route 44s from Sonic, in case your wondering. In the past, we lived in a day by day world.  We had to make the decision to not get diet soda every time we stopped to get something to drink. The question was always do you want a diet coke or...?  Not surprisingly we ended up drinking diet coke nearly every time and eventually quit pretending we were not drinking it.
Goodbye to diet sodas.
On this occasion, with Donna's health giving us a wake up call, we made an important attitude change. If we weren't going to drink diet coke, if that was our decision, then what in the world would we drink?
Well...water, okay, we should have been drinking that anyway.  And...juice, this was before we were worried about calories, and juice is healthy if you don't overdo it.  And...oh yeah, tea.  Wow, before I became a diet coke junkie, tea is what I drank.  Unsweetened tea as a matter of fact, with the occasional coke thrown in.  
Now, the question was no longer, do you want a diet coke or...?"  It became what do you want to drink, water, juice, or tea?  We made the decision to not drink diet coke one time, not each and every time we stopped to get a drink. 
Despite the fact that Doyle brings home the occasionally diet Dr. Pepper, we have stuck with it, and I am really hoping that Diet Coke is not the elixir of life after all.  But if it is we do still have a Sonic nearby.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

When You Just Aren't in the Mood to Slice and Dice

March 15, 2014

You laugh.  Okay, maybe you didn't laugh, but I did.  For me there is a ton truth in this little ecard.  I needed the laugh, and the not so subtle reminder, because it is a rainy, dreary day in our fair city. 
Which leaves me sitting here reflecting back and committing to paper (metaphorically speaking) the first steps of our journey, while the rain pounds on the roof.  My son, who doesn't live close enough for me to drag him into this new life style, has been mostly encouraging, except for one small area, where he thinks he knows best.  Well, he doesn't live close enough, and he has a wife to keep him on track.  Anyway, I digress.

 I remember, like it was yesterday my students would add because I have taught them the value of inserting their voice into their writing--if their voice sounds a little like my voice, it can't be helped.

However, I do remember this conversation because it involved some eye rolling, I won't say whose eyes were rolling.  When I finally shared with my son the whole liquid diet philosophy we had adopted he said, "Don't eat canned soup, Mom.  Homemade soup is a hundred times better.  You can make soup out of anything. Some chicken a few vegetables, and Waa la, soup! (He is a southern boy, not a French dude)." And he can be a bit of a turkey when he wants to be.

Well, yes.  I agree.  Homemade soup is better, but...and this is a big but  (no snickering, please), so listen up...canned soup comes with the serving sizes and the calorie count clearly marked on the can. Thank you very much truth in advertising or labeling or whatever governmental consumer advocate group that requires this of food manufacturers these days.  This one little piece of information has made my life so much easier.
 I did mention earlier that I have summers off, and I probably have already mentioned that I love to research things on the internet.  So after talking with my son I got busy and looked up some low calorie soup recipes.  Of course this meant another trip to good old Wal-Mart and more careful product label reading BECAUSE I simply could not let that statement go by without proving that Mother knows best. This time  my hubby and I were checking out plastic storage wear.  I knew if the whole make your own soup thing had any chance of succeeding, then I would have to divide said pot of soup into serving sizes immediately.   It doesn't take long to eat up 1200 calories.
We found that a pot of soup could be divided into 3 one quart containers of approximately 350 calories worth of soup--like the three bears--one for papa, one for mama, and one for daughter.  I calculated the calorie count per serving, and we were able to portion the soup out over several meals.
 It worked like a charm UNTIL I went back to work in August.  Since I don't cook during the school year, at least not very often, we gravitated back to the Progresso, and you know what, it is just easier.  Not as tasty.  I did find a chicken chili recipe that is lower cal and to die for, however it is fairly labor intensive.  So, most nights I just reach for a can of soup--Lite Cheesy Chicken Enchilada is pretty delicious when I am not in the mood to slice and dice.  Just putting out there, Mother does know best.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Is it a chip? Is it a cookie? No, it's V-8 to the rescue.

March 14, 2014

See why I need to lose weight?
  This boy is never still.
Pictures.   I really have a tough time posting any picture of me.  Notice that in one of these I am in a tunnel.  But these picture document a personal victory for me.  The jeans that I am wearing, I couldn't wear last May. They were too tight.  So while I not happy with my hubby for shooting the pics, it is great to know that 5 more pounds and I won't be able to wear this jeans without a belt to hold them up.

Creating this blog has forced me to go back and rethink exactly what we did when we started our journey.  Step by step we created a plan that worked for us.  There was a little trial and error, but once we finally made up our mind to change, we were able to stick with it.  It was the making up our collective mind that was difficult.  That took fifteen years to happen.

In our effort to keep it real for us, we have been reassessing the changes we have made in our eating patterns, and going back to the things we did at the very beginning that worked so well. 
The result...I think I need a drumroll here...we have all had a significant drop in weight.  We are talking pounds, not ounces, and it has been a few weeks, okay more like a month, since that has happened consistently for any of us.  So woo hoo! 
I've given up on grocery lists.
Now I just take a piece
of paper that says,
Also this "going back to the beginning" has reminded me of another hurdle we had to face.  Snacks.  One of the major problems with liquid diets, remembering that we begin with the idea that soup is part of that liquid diet, is that there is little that you can have for a snack. 
Okay, I hear you grumbling out there.  If I can have 3 shakes and 5-6 bowls of crackerless soup, why do  I need a snack?  I don't know, but there is a snack monster deep inside me that says, "I need snacks!" and says it quite ferociously at times.  I either head him off at the pass by having snacks on hand, or I fall in to the trap of going to the store to buy snacks and end up in trouble.  I do not make good choices when I am hungry.  Let me repeat that because I believe it bears repeating, I DO NOT MAKE GOOD CHOICES WHEN I AM HUNGRY.

Once again, my hubby and I headed back to our local Wal-Mart and searched the aisles.  On the juice aisle we found, well actually rediscovered, V-8.  Only V-8 isn't your grandma's cocktail anymore.  It has changed.  Actually it might be more correct to say it has reinvented itself.

My favorite is still the spicy V-8,but my daughter and husband like the fusion drinks.  A single serving can of the tomato, spicy, regular, or low salt, is 30 calories.  That's it.  30 calories.  The fusion drinks have 50 calories for a single serving. Can't beat that with a stick.  Late at night, when the munchies attacked, it was V-8 to the rescue.
It is kind of cool how things you have known about and enjoyed for ages, until you got out of the habit of buying them, help you get your life back on track.  Sort of feels like coming home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lessons Learned on a Tuesday Afternoon

Photo: hahaha sometimes you have to listen to the JEANS!! #dontbeabitch

March 12, 2014

Not all celery is created equal, and sometimes pizza is worth the celery you will have to eat if you cave.

Okay, so here is what I learned today.  If you buy one Little Caesars pepperoni pizza and one family size Italian cheesy bread, split three ways, it is your daily calorie allowance.  Does that mean I can't eat it?  No.  It means that I will be eating celery for the rest of the day so I had better enjoy every cheesy, greasy bite.  And I did, thank you very much.

The difference is that I am not feeling like I have cheated.  I don't feel like I have sabotaged my diet.  I am not worried about being able to get back on my diet tomorrow.  I am allowed 1200 calories a day, no matter what form they take. Do I make choices like this everyday?  No.  Pizza is not a healthy choice.  I am aware of this and am trying to make much healthier choices, but it nice to know that even when I don't, I have a built in safety switch.  1200 calories a day.  If I blow all my calories on one meal, then I find negative calorie foods to eat for the rest of the day, like celery.  Negative calorie foods take more energy to digest than they have in them.  While there are quite a few negative calorie foods, I find celery to be the easiest to keep cleaned and ready.  If I don't have to prep it when I am looking for a snack, I am more likely to reach for it when I go to the refrigerator.

For this very reason, I keep a lot of celery on hand.  Celery more than salad because salads can get pretty heavy on the calories if you aren't careful AND are not as handy to grab for a snack.

2 stalks of celery equals 15 calories.  Celery is fiber rich and a good source of water, so I also stock up on toilet paper.  Just saying.

When we first began this diet, back in July, I came across another diet-saving product--Biggest Loser Celery Sticks.  At about $2 a bag if was perfect.  Buying celery by the bunch is cheaper, and I buy bunches when I have time to prep them, but having a bag of precut celery in my refrigerator ready to grab and munch makes it easy for me to make better choices.  And hey, the celery is way cheaper than the chips that I used to snack on.

In case you are interested, here are the fruits, veggies, and spices that are considered negative calorie.

List Of Negative Calorie Food: Vegetables
List Of Negative Calorie Food: Fruits

List Of Negative Calorie Food: Herbs and Spices

These pictures come from

Again, I make no money off this product, but BL celery sticks is consistently a better product, fresher and better tasting, than other prepackaged celery products I have tried.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Our Journey

March 9, 2014

Leaving the Fat Lane

Every journey begins with a single step.  This journey is no different.  Our determination to turn our life around and to become something more than morbidly obese was inspired by Braden.   His birth has transformed our life, and we want to be around for a long time to share his journey with him.  For us the first step was understanding that we could no longer ignore that we were eating ourselves into an early grave.  This blog isn't to inspire others, although if it does, that is okay.  This site is to keep us on track and to force us to keep moving forward, even if it is only one tiny baby step at a time.
Life is more than a series of stops along the food highway.  It is the joy and light that we bring to each person we encounter on our journey.