Monthly Archives: August 2011

Exercise success

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As I have probably mentioned multiple times before, exercise is really hard for me.  It’s not something I enjoy, and before I started low carbing in January, I had reached an all-time low for physical fitness.  Walking a short block had me out of breath.  It also caused a lot of pain in my hips and back, and that made me scared to start exercising again.

However, in June, I realized that losing 40 lbs. had helped get me to a point where I knew I was capable of doing some moderate exercise.  I had grand plans to walk at the park this summer.  But as usual, those never quite materialized.  For the first half of the summer, it was lack of time.  When I finally found I had the time in August, it was HOT.  Colorado summers are pretty bearable, but this was one of the hottest Augusts on record.  I’m not a big fan of heat, and unfortunately, I let it keep me indoors.

So finally, when the kids started school, I thought that this would be a good time.  I’m taking on more work from home, and I knew I would need to carefully schedule my days to fit it all in.  I decided I would start scheduling exercise into my day, too, and I set the date to begin for 8/29, when my work schedule for the fall would begin.

Monday morning, I woke up and I put in an exercise video I bought several years ago and never even unwrapped.  It was a Latin dance video that seemed fun.  Let’s just say that things did not go well.  And that Maggie most definitely did not inherit a dance gene from me. 😉  After 15 minutes, I tired of feeling stupid and quit for the day.  My goal right now is only 20 minute sessions, so I felt like it was a good start.

I took Tuesday off, and I spent the day trying to figure out what I could do today that I would like better.   Then it occurred to me that today was a late start at school, and I would need to take the kids in.  (Nate usually does mornings, and I pick up after school.)  Typically, I would drive.  It’s not quite a 1/2 mile, and I know that’s pathetic, but…well, see above.  I was really, really out of shape for a very long time.  Today, however, I decided to take the plunge and walk them in.

I almost didn’t.  I still have this huge mental block about exercise, and I was genuinely scared that I couldn’t do it.  That’s why I’ve continued to drive to school.  And then I remembered that this weekend, we went to the new Ikea in town.  It’s been open a month, but it’s still a zoo, and I’m pretty sure we walked a 1/2 mile to the entrance and then back to our car.  I figured if I could do that, I could handle this.

And I did!  I will admit to having major second thoughts when I walked outside and realized that it was much hotter than I had anticipated.  But the kids were really excited, so I plowed forward.  And in the end, it wasn’t too bad.  My legs were a little wobbly by the time I got home, but a lot of that was just from the heat.  (C’mon, fall!)

The biggest problem is shoes.  I got some Easy Spirits last year that are clog style and have a strap at the heel but the sole of a tennis shoe.  I figured they’d be fine for light exercise.  And they probably are.   But they were slipping all over, and the bottoms of my feet got very sore because of it.  I suppose it could be the socks, too.  And that’s the tough part – how will I know what works for me if I don’t get to take a decent walk to try them out?  These seemed perfectly fine the first time I tried them on; I didn’t know the problems I would have until I walked a longer distance.   In any case,  I don’t have much of a discretionary budget right now anyway for buying a pricey pair of shoes.  So I’m trying to figure out how to work around this issue, because having shoes and/or socks that hurt my feet really is an impediment to exercising.

Overall, though, it felt very good.  I walked pretty close to a mile at a slow-moderate pace (I’d guess it was close to a 20-minute mile – hard to say exactly though, since I had to walk into the school and get Gus signed in smack dab in the middle of it), and I wasn’t heaving and out of breath.  My backs and hips didn’t hurt like they used to.  My only complaints were the heat (fixed by fall) and my feet (fixed with new shoes and/or socks eventually).  It was a step I’ve been scared to take for a long time, but I took it today, and that gives me the courage to take more.

Caramelized onion omelet

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Just when I didn’t think I could look at another bacon (or steak, if I had leftovers) and cheddar omelet topped with salsa, salvation arrived in the form of a lovely layered veggie: a sweet yellow onion.  I’m still having an omelet everyday, but using a caramelized onion and swiss cheese completely changes the flavor profile, and it feels like a whole new breakfast for me.  I’ve also taken to making one-egg omelets so I can really taste the onion; this version ends up being more like onions and swiss bound by a bit of egg.  It. Is. Divine.

Caramelized Onion Omelet
(net carbs – 5 to 6g, depending on how much cheese you use and the size of your onion quarter)

1/4 yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter
1 thin slice of swiss
a small sprinkle of shredded cheddar
1 egg, beaten

Melt butter in a skillet over very low heat – I set my gas range at 2.  Add onion.  Allow to sautee 10 to 20 minutes, until just barely beginning to brown.  Give it a stir and let it cook another 5 to 10 min until everything is a nice golden brown.  Push your eggs together into the smallest flat circle (ie, not mounded) they will make.  Slowly pour the egg over the onions trying to cover everything.  I usually drizzle around the entire outer edge and then fill in the center.  You might end up with a few spots not entirely filled in.  It’s OK.  This isn’t about making a picture perfect omelet – just a delicious one.

Turn the heat up to about 6.  Let cook 20 to 30 seconds, until mostly set.  Spoon a smidge of water around the inside edge of the pan and quickly cover for 20 to 30 seconds, until top is set.  (The steam helps cook the top.  This is a great trick for omelets and fried eggs.)  Add cheese, repeat step with water and cover for 30 to 40 seconds.  Remove cover, fold omelet in half in pan, and let cook another minute or so, until the cheese is thoroughly melted.  Some will ooze out, and that’s fine – it gets a little crispy and adds to the final flavor.

Remove from pan with spatula rather than just dumping it out – this will leave the excess butter behind.  I find a generous amount of butter is necessary to keep the onions from burning, but you don’t necessarily want all of it covering your omelet.

This might sound complicated, but it’s really not.  I cut an onion into quarters at the beginning of the week, and wrap the extra quarters up in foil and put them in the fridge until I need them.  (I’ve been told I should dice the whole thing at the start, though, and refrigerate the diced onion.  I don’t know if that makes a big difference.)  So all I have to do is quickly dice 1/4 onion, which takes next to no time at all.  (It would take 0 time if you dice the whole thing on Day 1.)  I’ll often start the onions going right before I head up to take my shower.  Walking out of the bathroom to the smell of sauteeing onions is pretty much heaven!  Whether I do or not, though, the onions really don’t need much tending.  You might not even need to give them that extra stir – I happen to enjoy doing it because something about stirring sauteeing onions with a wooden spoon makes me feel happy on the inside. 🙂

Once the onions are ready, throwing the omelet together really only takes about 2-3 minutes at the stove since the pan is well heated and a single egg cooks very quickly.  Which is more time than I’d be willing to spend if I had to get into the car for a long commute.  But since I work from home, I usually start this process after the kids are at school, and if I’ve already showered, I begin my work day while the onions cook.  It’s really a very easy way to start the day with a delicious breakfast.

Cheesy buffalo ranch chicken casserole (or dip)

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I’ve been working on making this recipe just right for months now.  The flavor has always been delicious, but it was simply too liquidy.  And finally one day, it hit me – of course it would be liquidy when I was using bottled ranch dressing!  So tonight, I tweaked the recipe a bit and finally got a dish that was more the consistency of a casserole or dip.  This would make a fabulous appetizer for a party, but as low carbers, we actually like it for dinner.  My favorite way to eat it (although it’s a little high carb because of how many I eat) is scooped up on 34 Degree Crackers.  (Which I guess makes it a dip served as an entree!)  But you can also serve it in low carb tortillas as a wrap to save yourself a lot of carbs.  You could also dip celery or another hearty veggie in this.

Cheesy Buffalo Ranch Chicken Casserole (or Dip)
(net carbs: 23g for the entire recipe)

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff is just fine)
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 packet ranch dressing mix
3-4 chicken thighs, cooked and diced (or equivalent amount of chicken breast)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the mayo, parm, and hot sauce together.  Add ranch packet and incorporate well.  Add chicken and 1.5 cups of cheddar and mix again.  Pour into 9×9 or 8×8 pan and top with remaining half cup of cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 min, until top is nicely browned.  Serve with crackers, veggies, or on tortillas.

Note: The vast majority of the carbs here come from the ranch packet (16g).  If you can find a lower carb option or perhaps just mix up your own seasonings, you could reduce the carb count even further.

Holy distorted body image, Batman!

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I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and saw a link from the HuffPo to this article:

Susanne Eman, Plus-Size Model, Trying To Become The Biggest Woman Ever

When I clicked on it, before I read anything, I looked at the pictures.  When I saw the one on the bottom of the page, I thought to myself, “She must have a long way to go to be the world’s biggest woman, because she is only about the size I was when I started this diet.”

And then I read the article and discovered that she is 728 lbs.!

Boy, was that a wake up call. The fact that I thought a woman who was 728 lbs. looked like I did when I was less than half that weight was really eye opening.  It was a concrete example of just how exaggerated my self perception is.

The good news is that I’m actually feeling much better about myself these days (losing 50 lbs. will do that), and I don’t despair every time I look in the mirror.  I suspect my image of myself is still bigger than it really is, but it also feels like my self image is losing weight faster than my body, so to speak. 😉  I think I’m getting closer to a realistic perception, and that’s a victory in itself.