Friday, September 28, 2012

Photo Phriday's triumphant return

Today's photos are a tribute to one of my very favorite people on the planet--Paul Parson. Paul was my former boss in the Marketing Department, and today is his last day at Children's.

When I first met Paul seven years ago, I had no idea how much a part of my heart he would become. He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. He pushed me to be better. He loved me even when I weighed 300 pounds, and he has supported me every step of my journey. He is one of my very best friends. I adore him.

We also tend to take a lot of pictures together. Here's a sampling (through thick and thin, quite literally).
The very first picture we ever took together. It was my third day at Children's.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Going back to cauli, cauli, cauli *

Roses are red, neon is bright
And my very favorite veggie, of course, is white.
A head, some florets, roasted or steamed
Cauliflower has become the stuff of my dreams.
I eat it in soups, as a sub for mashed taters
And disown all my friends who are cauli-haters.
Who knew that a veggie could become an obsession,
So much that cauli is always in my possession.
I panic when I run out and I've been known, in the store
To buy frozen bags or heads--three or four.
Yes, cauliflower, you are my true love
You are faithful and good to me--sent from above.
You've changed my life with your goodness and taste
To love another as much would just be a waste.

So yeah, I'm no Emily Dickinson. Some people are inspired by love to write poems. Me? All it takes is a vegetable.

I first wrote about my cauliflower adoration in November. I had just started my obsession with using them as a mashed potatoes swap. That love affair has continued. But since then, my cauliflower cravings have only heightened. I've been making all kinds of new and exciting things.

I recently made (and loved) Gina's "Dad's Cauliflower Soup" from I can't believe how creamy it turned out, considering it's essentially just cauliflower, onions, water and bouillon cubes. I made a huge batch of it and ate it with most of my meals for a few days. My favorite thing to do is to add a little reduced-fat cheddar, some green onions and little bacon pieces. Boom--loaded potato soup.

But y'all! There's a new cauliflower revolution taking over my life. Are you ready? Cauliflower. Rice. Rice! I followed the directions from Big Red Kitchen, with great success. I've since made cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, and a stir-fry that I made up last night. 

Is the texture exactly like rice? Of course not. But the flavor is divine and I can see this becoming a great side-dish staple. I rarely have a starch with dinner (something a friend once chided me for when I cooked dinner for a guy I was dating--I panicked and ended up going to the store for rolls), but sometimes I miss it. So this is a nice way to fool myself.

I ask you, my friends. Is there anything cauliflower can't do? I say no (in fact, I recently watched a YouTube tutorial about how to make breadsticks out of cauliflower. Stay tuned for my attempts on that). Perhaps I'll start making clothes out of cauliflower, or using it as a facial mask. Maybe as a household cleaner or alternative fuel source. Pee-Wee Herman used to say "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?"

Maybe I will, Pee-Wee. Maybe I will.

*Thanks for the post title, Jan!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weekly weigh-in report

I need to work on a catchy title for my weigh-in entries. Be glad I didn't go with my first choice--"Weekly weigh-in weport." What can I say? I just can't resist alliteration.

Today was a loss. I'm down 1.8 from last week. Good, I guess, though I was hoping for more. But I know my body. I worked out fairly strenuously last night, and sometimes I hold onto fluid because of that.

Either way, it's a loss, right? On to the next.

Just a preview of this week's entries. I'm planning an ode to my favorite vegetable (most of you will have no problem guessing which one), and the return of Photo Friday.

Also, you might notice a new little feature over there on the right navigation panel. I just created a Facebook fan page for Erika is losing it. Like the page to keep up with my entries and other random things I decide to post.

Thanks for sticking with me, y'all. I'm always grateful for your support.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Don't call it a comeback

I can't remember the last time I felt victorious over food. For two and a half years, food and I have been stepping into the ring. The bell goes off (after they horrifyingly announce my weight) and we start the dance. Uppercuts, jabs, crosses. Me dodging and blocking the best I can, and trying to get in a good hook every once in a while.

I won a few matches in the beginning. But lately, it's been almost an immediate TKO. I'm on the ground, the ref smacks the floor and I don't get up. I don't even try to move as the french fries and pizza obnoxiously celebrate their win.

But I feel the odds changing.

This week, that same ref has held my arm up in victory more than a few times. There was dinner at P.F. Chang's, which I finished with Weight Watchers points left over. There was the avoidance of chips and dip at another dinner. There was the lunch I went to where I pored over the nutritional information and picked something new (and healthy), instead of the yummy (and not at all healthy) pimento cheese sandwich I normally get.

These little victories have, in a small way, restored a piece of my soul this week. I had forgotten what it felt like to be a winner. Guess what? It feels really, really awesome. I've woken up every day this week feeling strong and determined. Even a little proud--and that's something I haven't felt in a very long time.

I realize that as much as I may have gotten off track, there is always hope. I'm never completely down for the count if I don't choose to be. Hopefully this week of victories turns into another week and another and another. I've been trying to get back to the basics, and remember how excited I was when I first started this journey. How much better I feel when I'm in control.

I've lost and won some matches, and I'll continue to battle. But I think I've got a good chance of winning that belt in the end.

After all, everyone loves a good comeback, right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No longer an option

When I first started Weight Watchers, I never allowed myself to skip a meeting or not weigh in when I attended one.

How times have changed.

In the past few months, I've gotten more and more lax about this personal rule. Feel like a binge on Monday? Sure, I just won't weigh in Tuesday. Ate too much over the weekend? Maybe I'll be "too busy" to attend my Weight Watchers meeting.

The reason Weight Watchers has worked for me is accountability. Knowing I have to weigh in every Tuesday and face my leader and fellow members is a helpful tool in keeping me honest and on track. But, like a lot of things in my life lately, I lost sight of that.

So last week, I walked into my meeting. I knew it would be bad. I hadn't weighed in in a month and I knew the results wouldn't be pretty. But I stood on that scale and made a promise to my leader, Dee, and myself:

Not weighing in didn't used to be an option, and it's no longer an option anymore.

I tried to take my accountability measures a little further. I told a friend and fellow Weight Watchers member to hold me to it. If I tell you I'm too busy to go to the meeting, I told her, ask me if I'm telling the truth.

Now sure, there may some Tuesdays I'm out of the office and can't attend my normal meeting. If that's the case, I'll commit to trying to get to a meeting in the community.

In other words, I'm pretty serious about this.

I've let a lot of stuff get in my way in the past year, and I've decided it's time to be selfish. Focus on myself. Move forward with my goals that I've worked so hard to try to achieve.

Now for the tough part. The stats.

My greatest total weight loss was 130.8, which I achieved last November. My total now is 119.4 (which I got today after losing .8). A little more than an 11-pound difference. I'm not proud, but I'm not defeated. I'm trying to remind myself that I've kept more than 100 pounds off for more than a year, and that's something to celebrate. But I don't want to be the person that puts it all back. I won't be that person.

To further keep me accountable, I'm going to post a short entry every Tuesday afternoon with my weight loss/(hopefully not) gain for the week. If I don't do it, call me out.

Because not reaching my ultimate goals is no longer an option.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday faves

Hello lovelies! It's time, once again, for a rousing round of Erika's Favorites. I've got some good ones this week that I'm excited to share. I've got stuff for your hair, stuff for your belly, stuff for your kitchen and stuff for your wallet. Hooray!

In no particular order:

Sweaty Bands

I know I've told y'all before, but I am a sweater. We're talking wring-out-my-hair-at-the-end-of-a-workout-disgusting sweater. I also have, what must be, an oddly misshapen head, if the way regular headbands fit me is any indication. There are companies who make no-slip headbands, but I've literally had those things fly off the back of my weird head during a workout. So, when I read about Sweaty Bands, which fellow uneven-headed people swear (swear!) don't slip, I was skeptical, to say the least. But a local gift shop in Smyrna carries them, so I thought I'd try it out. And guess what? I swear (swear!) they don't slip. They come in many adorable patterns, which is a cute little bonus. And best of all, while they don't magically absorb every last bit of sweat, they do a heck of a job keeping the sweat from my hair (where I sweat the most) from dripping into my eyes. They're a little pricey, but totally worth it, I swear (swear!).

Pollo Tropical Balsamic Tomatoes

This is my new fast food love. Pollo Tropical is a fairly new chain in Atlanta. I think there are only two locations in the metro area, and luckily, one of them is near me. The menu is huge and can be a little intimidating, but it's good, good stuff. My latest addiction are the balsamic tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes and onions (I'm not a big raw onion fan, so I pick around them) swimming in lovely balsamic vinegar and spices. They're bursting with yummy flavor. And they're healthy! At least once a week, I hit the drive-through just for a side order of these babies. Pollo Tropical itself has a lot of great, healthy options. The grilled chicken breasts are great, and I've also heard good things about the pork. And it's always good to have a good-for-you fast food choice alternative, isn't it?

I've really been going through a lot of fruits and veggies lately (see my next favorite for why), and that can get expensive. I still love my Eat Right Atlanta folks for my fresh produce basket every other week, but I needed to supplement that in the off weeks. Enter Aldi. My smart sister-in-law, Beth, has sung the praises of Aldi for years, and, despite having a location right down the street from me, I've stuck to my Kroger shopping. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Aldi for the first time, and I was amazed by the prices. Two pounds of red, seedless grapes for $1.99? Avocados for 69 cents? What? While I probably wouldn't do my full shopping at Aldi, buying produce there is just smart for a budget-conscious girl like me. Make sure you bring your own bags (they charge you for shopping bags) and a quarter if you want a cart (you get it back) if you go. And while you won't find many name-brand items, you'll find good, fresh fruits and veggies for a steal. Happy tummy, happy wallet.

The NutriBullet
True confession time: I am an infomercial producer's dream. I've gotten sucked into buying so may things from TV it's embarrassing. It reminds me of Ariel in The Little Mermaid singing: "I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty. I've got whosits and whatsits galore. You want thing-a-ma-bobs? I've got 20." Yeah, when it comes to as-seen-on-TV products, I'm easy. So, the other night when I came across the infomercial for the NutriBullet, I tried to be a skeptic, but I was pretty quickly swayed.

I've been really trying to eat "cleaner" lately. More of the whole, fresh foods my body needs, and less of the processed junk I usually eat. So the Nutribullet, which, according to the slick commercial, creates nutrition extraction drinks, really appealed to me. I did some research. I read reviews and watched YouTube videos about it. It seemed like the real deal. It's not cheap--through the infomercial, it's $120 (six EASY payments of $19.99, of course), but it's available at Target and Bed Beth and Beyond for $99. I had to order mine through because it was sold out all over Atlanta.

I tracked the package like it was my job and couldn't wait for it to arrive. It's kind of a cross between a juicer and a smoothie-maker. Unlike juicers, you can use the skin of fruits and veggies to retain the fiber. And this puppy is fast. It pulverizes everything you put in it, including nuts and seeds. I've been really impressed with it so far.

Since I got it Monday night, I've made a drink in it every day for breakfast. My ingredients have included kale, spinach, apples, bananas, almonds, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango, clementines and flax seeds. And yes, I just said I drank kale. It was delicious. I highly recommend this little workhorse of a kitchen device. It's one gizmo I'm glad I have.

Your turn! What are your favorites right now?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A loss of vision

When I was younger, there were few things I loved more than creating a good collage. I'd pore over magazines and catalogs to find pictures I liked, then glue them onto notebooks or poster board. It's about as far as my very minimal arts-and-crafts skills go.

A few years ago, a therapist asked me to create what she calls a "Wheel of Fortune." Others may call it a vision board or a dream board. It's essentially a collage taken to a whole new, personal level.

This was one therapy homework project I actually completed. With shades of my younger self in my mind and scissors, I went through all my magazines and found words and pictures that spoke to what I really wanted in my life. I even got one of my graphic designer friends to photoshop my face onto an actress' bikini-clad body. To really visualize the things you want for your life, my therapist said, you have to actually put yourself in that situation. My Wheel of Fortune is in the shape of a heart, representing my greatest desire. Besides the bikini picture, there are pictures representing financial security, marriage and family, among others.

You're supposed to put your board in a place where you'll see it every day. Envision the life you really want. The life that's possible for you. I dutifully hung mine on my bedroom wall.

As my longtime readers will remember, it was about a year ago that I started dipping my toes back into the choppy waters of dating. This, as you know, has been done with some mixed success. And, of course, lately, it's felt more like failure.

But here's an interesting thing. The other day, I was looking for something and came across my heart-shaped Wheel of Fortune. Where was it? Shoved into the top of a cabinet. It certainly wasn't in a place I could see it--or even remember what it looked like.

As I blew off the dust, I remembered why I'd put it up there in the first place. I'd hidden it the first time a guy I was dating came over to my apartment, horrified that he'd think I was planning all these things with him. I put it away, dated other people and forgot about it.

How's that for symbolism? The entire time I've been dating, I quite literally lost sight of what I wanted. And that has definitely played itself out in my relationships. I've been willing to compromise what I want most in hopes of finding someone who will love me.

It's no coincidence, therefore, that my weight has been stagnant since last August. That I've gone through a roller coaster ride of emotions this past year or so.

My Wheel of Fortune is now back in its rightful place--hanging on the wall across from my bed. I'm going to try to keep it in sight (and mind) as much as possible.

Because I realize now that I'll never get what I want most if I can't even remember what that is.