Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Favorites Finally

It’s back! The triumphant return of Friday Favorites! Are you excited? Can you FEEL the electricity?

OK, maybe not. But maybe I’ll give you some cool ideas, nonetheless. So without further ado, here are a few things I’m loving lately:

Egg roll/wonton wrappers
I love snacks. If I had my way, I’d just snack constantly and never eat a real meal. Also? I’ll choose appetizers over dessert every single time. Give me all the dips and rolls and chips and potato skins and mozzarella sticks and…OK, I need to stop. You get the picture. But life isn’t made on appetizers alone. So I’ve found a solution that marries a meal and a snack—and it makes my heart happy. Enter Nasoya wraps. Low in points (or calories, or whatever you may be counting) and full of endless possibilities, these things are bringing me such joy. They bake up crispy and soft, and I’m having a blast stuffing them with whatever I can imagine. My favorite is a Pizza Log (from a recipe created by the fabulous Emily Bites), but I’ve also made ham and cheese roll-ups and buffalo chicken roll-ups. And because I’m a good Catholic girl who can’t eat meat on Fridays right now, I’m contemplating a healthier version of Crab Rangoon very soon. These wraps are usually found in the produce section of your local grocery store.

Perfectly poached eggs  
I love eggs for breakfast. I find it necessary to start my day with protein. I especially love a good runny egg. But because I’m nothing if not a fan of the snooze button, I don’t usually have the time to make them. However, I’ve learned a trick that is truly life changing. Are you ready? You can cook perfectly poached eggs in a minute in your microwave. Take a regular coffee mug, fill it with water (I don't measure but usually fill it up about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way), break an egg into it, cover it with a plate and cook it for 60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, and voila--a perfect egg. The trick is to make sure you take it out of the water right away, or it will continue to cook (which means a harder yolk, if you prefer it that way. You can call me over for the ones you "undercook."). Naturally, my favorite way to eat said eggs is on a piece of avocado toast.  Delish!
Old-school lunch
When I was a kid--even all throughout high school--my mom made my lunch (maybe I was a little spoiled?). That lunch was basically the same every day: sandwich, chips and some sort of Little Debbie snack cake. What? It was the '80s and '90s (Total side note, apropos of nothing: I recently was watching a YouTube makeup guru who was talking about a product I had just bought. She said she'd tried other similar products, but she felt like it looked really '80s, like middle school Then she said "By the way, I was NOT in middle school in the '80s." I turned her right off, the little brat. For the record, I WAS in middle school in the '80s. And it was glorious. I bet I can still fold a note in a cooler way than you, whippersnapper. Sorry. Tangent.) Anyway, this was perhaps where my love for Swiss Cake Rolls (and binge eating) began. Still, I grew up with a brown paper bag and milk money. So I'm trying to rekindle this, minus the Little Debbies.
I've recently started a new job where I'm in the hospital most days. And those days, I don't have access to a fridge. Brown bags just won't do the trick. So I found a lunchbag that helps. You put the PackIt lunchbag in the freezer overnight, pack your lunch goodies in it and your stuff will stay cold most of the day. I find it so satisfying to bring and eat my lunch. Though I don't do it every day, I'm trying very hard to make it the norm. This cute li'l black and white polka dot bag helps with that a lot.
Babybel cheese
My husband and I recently got a Costco membership. We wanted to try it for a year and see if we use it enough to justify it. But the cost of these glorious little wax-covered rounds of cheese may just be the only thing I need to buy a membership every year. I find that in the grocery store, they're just too expensive for too few. But Costco has a huge bag for less than $12. They make a perfect snack for this cheese-loving girl. Nothing better.
Smartfood Snack Bags
I love popcorn. I love cheese. Therefore, I love Smartfood. But I can't control myself around a big bag. I'll eat the whole freaking thing. Seriously. Enter the Smartfood Go Sack. There are 12 (!) small bags of Smartfood popcorn in this sack. It's perfect for lunches or snacks. And best of all? It's only 3 Smartpoints per bag. Eating my popcorn is one of the highlights of my day. Really.
Full disclosure: I've never been a very good Weight Watcher tracker. Even when I was in my weight-loss prime, I was never that diligent with tracking my food--I tried to keep up with it in my head, but I think I used my WW meetings more for accountability. I'd make smart choices and weigh in, but it was rare that I knew how many points I'd consumed in a day. Hmm. Perhaps this is why my success...stalled. This time it's different. I'm actually enjoying tracking. I love the challenge of fitting healthy foods into my day. I don't always love the disappointment of discovering something is a lot higher than I thought it might be--but now I'm not surprised, because I check ahead of time. And I guess it's working, because I've lost 9.8 pounds (7.8 last week; 2 more this week) in two weeks. You know what they say--the program works if you work the program.
Thanks for your patience with this entry--I saved a few for next time, but will make sure to keep this a weekly thing like it used to be.
As always, I'm curious to know what you're loving! Share in the comments below so others might find some new faves.
Have a great weekend, friends!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Who wants a cupcake, anyway?


I have had a heck of a week. And I mean that in a good way. I have been laser-focused on my plan. I have been rock solid. I have tracked. I have exercised. I have consumed what seems like a million gallons of water.

For the first time in ages, I have been in control. And it had varying levels of difficulty--especially this weekend.

I was at The Ronald. For those of you who don't know, I'm a weekend manager at our local Ronald McDonald House. Once a month, I get there early on a Saturday morning and do not leave the property until super early Monday morning.

The Ronald has proven to be a minefield of temptation--and I've not always come out unscathed. In fact, when I first started my journey years ago, I had to take a six-month leave of absence. I couldn't handle the sweets and casseroles that people so generously brought to the house. After I went back, it became the championship game. I would practice and prepare for it all month, and then go in determined to beat my opponent.

As I've fallen off my plan in later years, I've usually gone in to my weekends just not caring either way.

But right now, I'm trying SO hard. So going in Saturday, I was both nervous and determined. Not only was it a regular weekend there, but it was Valentine's weekend. I knew that meant an abundance of sweets and goodies.

I brought my own food and stuck to that for the most part. I avoided the (literally) hundreds of cupcakes generously donated by Gigi's Cupcakes (we're not talking so-so store-bought cupcakes) and skipped the excess chips and other less-healthy topping options on taco night.

I felt so good to be back on track. I wish I could explain how much I needed to feel like I'd accomplished something.

And it turns out that all that cupcake avoiding, steps I walked around the House and healthy choices I made paid off. Today was my weigh-in. Ready for the total?

No, really. Are you SURE you're ready?

7.8 pounds down.

Seven point eight.

In a week.

I thought my sweet WW leader was going to cry. Actually, she might have. She's seen me faithfully attend meetings--usually without weighing in--for quite some time. And she's been supportive and encouraging of me no matter what. But I needed to jump back in the game--and fast.

So I did. And I won this battle.

Now--on to the next.

*jumps on horse*

P.S. I'm thinking it's about time for a new Friday Favorites. Sound good?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A selfish Lenten commitment

It’s Fat Tuesday.
I’m trying not to make the joke that every day that ends in a Y is a fat day for me. But oh, I just did.

It’s an annual tradition for me to post about my Lenten goals. There was the time I gave up Diet Coke. Then I made a commitment to bring my lunch every day during Lent. That was hard.
But this year, I’m feeling the need to be selfish during Lent.

I realize that’s not really the point, but I think in this instance, it makes the most sense. I’m going to spend the next 40 days focusing on myself.
This means I will devote myself to taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m hoping for a major reset with a higher power helping me along the way.

Taking care of myself physically means there is less reason to hate my body and more time to appreciate the things it was created to do. So I will focus on being kind to it. Feeding it healthfully. Exercising it regularly. I will throw in one sacrifice that I should be making anyway—giving up soda. For good. Because now that I’ve gotten rid of Diet Coke (it’s been more than two YEARS, y’all), I have rediscovered a love for regular Coke. Bad, bad.
I’ve already been tracking my WW points and staying on plan as well as possible. This is Day Two. Long road ahead.
Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers,Ga.

Emotionally and spiritually
These kind of go hand in hand for me. But it boils down to this—giving thanks and being kind to myself. Two things I’ve been severely lacking in doing. I need to pray. I need to meditate. I need to journal. I need to be self-affirming. I’ve not done a single one of these things lately. But Lent is the time to refocus.
For those of you who participate in Lent, what are you giving up? Or more importantly, what are you doing for yourself and for others? I think so often we focus on giving up sweets or fast food or soda that we forget what this season is really about. I hope you’ll join me in honoring the unique and beautiful person you were created to be.

I mean, that’s why we’re all here, right?