Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My current favorite dessert/snack!

So the other day my mom and sister called and wanted some ideas on a quick, low weight watchers points, treat. They have not found a store in their area that sells the yummy weight watchers ice cream treats or snack cakes so they wanted to know if I had any recipes for something. My suggestions weren't satisfying my sister's craving so she asked me how many points a Blizzard from Dairy Queen would be. After telling her the lowest point one was a small banana split blizzard and it was still 10 points (the old WW points, not points plus) she knew that was out of the question. I gave them some other ideas but the best suggestion I could offer was to check out Snack Girl's blog. It is great! I absolutely love all the recipes that I'm finding there! One of the best things about the recipes she shares is that she lists the nutritional info at the bottom of the recipe and the WW Points Plus values. Since I use the old Points program and not the Points Plus, the nutritional information is perfect because it contains all the information I need to calculate the Points for my program!

This is where my current favorite dessert was found...the Mini Apple Crisp. I have made it two nights in a row and I love it! I had forgotten how much I loved baked apples as an after school snack when I was growing up. I remember that one year I think my mom made me baked apples just about every afternoon after school for the entire year! At school that year (I don't remember which grade I was in, but it was in elementary school) we had to bring a recipe to school and demonstrate how to make it. I think the recipe I took was actually a brownie recipe, but someone else did the baked apples and I was excited that someone else loved them too! Anyhow, This is a little more work than the baked apples I grew up with, but it is so delicious! The house has been chilly at night for the last couple of nights (I'm holding off the heaters as long as I can) so this apple treat has hit the spot with it's sweet warm yumminess!

The baked apples my mom made would be a great option too. Here's how to make those:

1 apple
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cut an apple in half, core it, and place in a baking dish. I cut mine in half and then sliced in half again so the pieces were thinner. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in small dish then sprinkle over the apple. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. My mom used to put a little butter in hole where the core was, just to help melt the brown sugar. I didn't do that and it melted just fine.

I just made these this morning so I could include the pictures...and my silly children would not eat them! I don't know what is wrong with my kids, I had to put them in the fridge before I ate them all myself. I am going to save them for tonight and then warm them back up. I put some fat free whipped cream over my apple crisp and oh boy! :) Hope you enjoy!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Congested? Exercising?

So this past week has been busy and...well "blah"! I just haven't been inspired by much this week. I have really struggled with getting my workouts done. I would like to say it's because I haven't been feeling well, but the truth is that when my allergies kick in, like they have been over the last couple of weeks, one of the best things I can do is workout! I don't know exactly what it is about all that exercise but it really helps clear my sinus passages and my chest out. It's not that enjoyable to be working out while stuffy and congested, but when I finish and after I take a nice hot shower I do feel least until that night! Of course it all starts all over again every night, but at least I can manage during the day better.

I thought that it might just be the hot steam from my shower, but that's not the case. I have skipped the workout and just taken a good long hot shower and it's just not the same! I know conventional wisdom says to just rest and take it easy when you aren't feeling well. Heck, that's what I tell my kids to do! I discourage them from running while they are congested like this. Talk about a double standard! I realized this yesterday while talking to my son's kindergarten teacher. She has the same nasty stuff that we have had. I guess maybe it's not just allergies, it seems to be going around. Anyhow I kept Joe home from school on Monday and Tuesday because he was running a fever. But yesterday was his very first field trip ever...and they were going to the fire station. I knew he really wanted to go and I just couldn't make him miss that. Besides, his fever was gone. So anyhow, I called and talked to his teacher about it (because they were walking to the fire station and I was concerned about him walking the 2 1/2 blocks in the cold air). I wanted to assure her ahead of time that his fever was gone and although his voice was also gone I was pretty sure he was no longer contagious. She told me that she was having the same issues without the fever and that all the kids in the class were coughing and losing their voices. continue this long story....while we were talking I mentioned that I had instructed him not to be running around on recess...just take it easy. He of course informed me that he must run on recess because it is the only way to get somewhere fast! She laughed at that and told me that she still runs when she feels like this and she and her husband disagree about the wisdom in that decision. He tells her to take it easy just like I tell my kids! She said she still runs though because she feels better afterward.

So that conversation got me thinking...she I be encouraging my kids to exercise when they are congested like I try to do? Or is my first instinct of having them take it easy the correct response for kids? I told Joe not to run because I didn't want him to start coughing really hard at school and have to come home...but would he get better faster if he was doing more running. It seems to break up the congestion in my chest when I exercise. Tracey (Joe's teacher) said that is what it does for her too. So should we be encouraging more exercise? Are we actually prolonging the illness by trying to keep our kids down until they "get over being sick"? I'm not talking about the stomach flu or anything like that. If they are running a fever or throwing up I still believe they should be in bed, and so should I when I feel like that. But when we are talking about a cold or congestion? Hmmmmm makes me wonder.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In a Rut

So is anyone else in a rut? Or is it just me? I am having a really hard time with dinner specifically. Nothing sounds good to me and it all seems like just so much work! I should admit that I am not a fan of cooking. Unlike my sister who loves to cook (check her out Here.) She is amazing! But that's beside the point. I am all about the fast to prepare but nutritious meal that is most importantly something that my kids will eat without complaining. I love the old "meat and potatoes" meals. Rice, potatoes or pasta with some chicken or beef are my staples. I love them, but my metabolism doesn't like me to eat them constantly.

My other problem is that my kids and I are home alone for dinner most nights of the week. I know that is no excuse because there are lots of women out there in the same boat. I honestly don't know why it makes such a difference to my motivation to make a "real" meal, but for some reason it does. I think I am still in the mindset that my kids wont appreciate a full meal. Now, they are 8, 6, and 4 so the oldest does appreciate the full meal more than the 4 year old does, obviously but their favorite meals are still pizza, macaroni and cheese, corn dogs and chicken nuggets or fish sticks. Oh those meals are so easy to fall back on when the day has been hectic and I have no desire to spend a lot of time cooking, which is most of the time.

Once upon a time I made a menu and followed that, which meant that I knew what I was making every day ahead of time. There was no question about it, I just made that meal. When I made the menu I would make sure I wasn't having the same thing all the time, meaning that if I made a chicken and rice dish on Monday, I tried to have something with beef and potatoes or pasta on Tuesday. That really did help, but I have gotten out of that habit. I think maybe it's time I resurrect my dinner menu....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Burying Your Temptations

Recently I was reading an article about temptations and changing your behavior. This article was not written about weight loss or about addiction or anything like that, but as I read I immediately had the realization that it can be applied to any area of your life. The author is speaking of a people who were blood-thirsty and continually at war. They had a change of heart and wanted to change their lives and become a peaceful, loving people. We (the readers) are told that they buried their weapons of war deep in the earth and vowed they would never go to war again, not even to defend their own lives. What a huge change that would be! That in itself sounds overwhelming to me, but the author goes on to say: 

"In other words, they took away their temptation and placed it where it could not get to them."

That line right there is what grabbed my attention. In fact, I haven't even finished the article yet! I felt like I had to come share this right this moment! What are my temptations? Are they still within my reach so that at a weak moment I can grab them and return to my old ways? Or have I buried them deep in the earth where I cannot reach them so that even when I do feel weak I cannot return to those bad habits?

One of my big temptations has been ice cream. My husband and I used to have a bowl of ice cream (and these were not small bowls) just about every night after the kids were asleep. I found the only way I could avoid that temptation was to not buy ice cream, for a long time! I buried that temptation in the store, so to say! Same with brownies, donuts, candy bars, etc.

I collect M&M dispensers and almost always there is a bag of M&M's that come with the dispenser...those are a huge temptation. If I am feeling strong when that bag shows up in my home I can "bury" it in a drawer or the back of a cupboard. Often I forget about it and then I am not tempted to get it in a weak moment. But if that bag sits on the cupboard within reach I find those weak moments come more often.

This idea can be transferred to absolutely anything in your life that tempts you to make unhealthy decisions. If you are trying to save money you can bury your credit cards or your debit card. Bury whatever temptation it is that causes you to over-spend.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fears, Safety and Changes

My senior year of High School I started to gain weight. In my opinion I had never been "skinny" to begin with, but looking back I have to admit that I was skinnier than I ever thought I was. Most of my girlfriends were a smaller size than I was so I often felt heavier than I really was. I never considered myself pretty either. My husband tells me that I was, and still am, very pretty. He didn't know me in high school so he is simply going on pictures and his own bias. As I explore the emotional reasons I gained weight I'm starting to wonder just how distorted my view of myself really was, and still is.

Here is one of my senior pictures...yes it was the 80's!

My senior year of high school my boyfriend started making comments that certain outfits weren't "flattering" on me anymore. That was the beginning. I did try some weight loss programs over the next year or so, but I wasn't really successful with them. It wasn't like I had gained a ton of weight, just a few pounds, literally, but my dad has battled weight ever since I can remember and so have a few members of his family. I have always been told that I look like my dad and I think subconsciously I started to expect to have a weight issue myself. I didn't feel like I was eating any differently than I ever had, and certainly not differently than any of my skinny friends. In all fairness I probably was eating a lot more junk food than I had previously, but I was in denial about that. So between the comments about clothes looking tighter and not being flattering, and my own insecurities because I knew things were fitting differently, I was feeling pretty hurt and defensive.

I think subconsciously I was starting to build a barrier between myself and anyone who could hurt me, in any way. I had high standards for myself and the boys I dated had been pushing those standards. That is what leads me to wonder now if maybe I was prettier than I thought I was. I got tired of always pushing hands away, not that there were tons of guys, but there were one or two who were exceptionally persistent, and flattering.

Now before you start thinking that I was molested or raped, and that I'm blaming my weight gain on that, let me assure you that is not the case. I know there are many women out there who legitimately do have weight problems due to such experiences, but since I was never raped or molested, there is nothing there to blame. In my opinion I was just like any other girl who was saving sex for marriage. I mean, boys will be boys right? But looking back now I am convinced that I was unconsciously trying to discourage the boys from wanting to push my boundaries.

So over the next several years I slowly packed on the pounds. Pretty much every time I got involved with another guy who proceeded to push my boundaries I would gain a few more pounds. I wouldn't say I actually was "overweight" until a few years after high school. It was a bit of a slow process for me and I was in some denial about it, or rather I was rebelling against it. I was trying to prove that I was in control and could eat anything I wanted like some of my friends could and I could do anything I wanted.

By the time my 10 year High School reunion came around I was 90 pounds heavier and I had given up on trying to lose weight. I was at war with myself. Consciously I wanted to find a man who would love and care for me. Someone who would respect me and my morals, and that I could start a family with. But subconsciously I was scared of letting any male really get close to me. I was scared that if I lost the weight again I would end up raped, one way or another. I knew girls who had been date raped or molested and I had seen how difficult it was for them to have a "normal" life. That all seemed to be tied to their looks. Then there was the seemingly random rape by a stranger to fear. That also seemed to be tied to looks. It was a fear that I had, one that I think a lot of girls have. We don't really talk about it except to teach/learn what to do when walking alone after dark, or if your car breaks down. I felt like my buffer zone was working, and was protecting me on all fronts. Like most other women I was drawn to the same type of guys over and over again, so maybe my buffer zone was a good thing. But the time was coming for things to change.

Me holding my daughter about a year before my journey began

A year after my high school reunion I was introduced to my future husband. He is a wonderful man who loves and supports me no matter what. He accepted me just the way I was and never asked or expected me to change my weight. So the natural question is, why did I start my journey? Well, I became a mom and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my kids. After 7 years of marriage and 3 kids I decided I needed a change. I didn't want to be overweight any more. I wanted to be able to run with my kids and run after them if they ran into the street or something. If they were in some kind of danger I wanted to be able to  run after them and honestly have a chance of saving them from whatever danger they were facing. All of a sudden I was more afraid of not being able to catch them if they were in danger, than of any danger I might be in if I was skinny again.

Talking about it now sounds dumb and egotistical, and honestly I didn't feel pretty at all, just average. So after being in a loving and safe marriage for so many years and having 3 wonderful little children I was determined to protect, I decided to make a change. But by that time there was a new problem to tackle. I lived in a town and I had no money or time to spend on getting to a gym. Besides, working out at a gym hadn't worked for me in the past so why would it work now? I started thinking about getting surgery. I just didn't know what else to do. A friend recommended buying a Wii and trying that first. I felt that I needed to give exercise a legitimate try before turning to surgery.

I did my research and talked to my husband and decided that was a good idea. So I started with Wii Fit Plus, and a few weeks into it I added some Weight Watchers. I still didn't have the money to join a program or the time to go to meetings, but I had a friend who knew the Weight Watchers program. She was on her own weight loss journey and was having so much success that she inspired me. I knew that if she could do it so could I! She offered to give me some of her old books and to teach me the program. So I met with her and she taught me the old points program. Little did we know at the time that Weight Watchers was coming out with a new points plus program just a few months later.

By using what she taught me about Weight Watchers and exercising I lost 80 pounds over the next year and a half. I have maintained that goal weight for almost a year now.

 my "after" picture, taken this year on my birthday.

I still follow the old points program and exercise regularly. And I still battle the emotional temptations and feelings of inadequacies. I still don't feel "pretty" and I still take precautions when when I'm alone after dark, but things are changing emotionally too. I am finding more confidence and more self-assurance. I'm beginning to accept compliments better and to believe that people really mean them. This is a daily, life-long journey but I'm glad I'm taking it. :)