Saturday, September 29, 2012

FYM Phase 1 results

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I've been working on losing some of the baby weight.  While I gained 35 lbs with my first pregnancy 6 years ago, this time I gained 50.  And my top weight was 188 lbs.  Yikes.  I'm 5'2.5".

Generally, the first couple of weeks, you can lose 15 to 20 lbs without effort. becomes more effort.  Especially if  you are nursing.  Sure you are burning more calories, but then again, you are starving.

Four weeks ago, I decided to get cracking.  Back in September 2011, I bought an E-book based on a recommendation of a blogger I read called "Fit Yummy Mummy".  She'd used it to get fit.  Now, she warned folks that the website looks kind of "spammy" (and she's right), but that it's a good program.

I bought the system for $30.  I have a thing for different workouts.  I have workout DVDs and books and cards.  I like variety.  I read through the system briefly, started working out using the "beginner" recommendations, and found out I was pregnant 6 weeks later.  Um...

So I dusted off my FYM E-book and printed a few more pages.  I really like the system because it is balanced and healthy.  Her recommendations include diet (eat cleanly, count calories, eat a variety of food types) and exercise.  Her exercise plan is 90 minutes per  15 minutes of high intensity interval training 3x per week and 15 minutes of body strengthening 3x per week. 

The system starts easy and gets harder.  It's a 16 week program in 4 different phases: introductory, beginner, intermediate, advanced.  From a dietary standpoint, each week in Phase 1 you work on a new habit or two.  When you have finished all four weeks and move on to the next phase, you repeat these weeks, in case you have slipped.

Each phase also includes it's own set of strengthening exercises and intervals.  And might I just say: I hate planks.  I have to do planks 3x per week.  Ugh.

I started with the introductory workouts because after having a baby, my abs were totally weak, and I had to do planks.  I just finished Phase I today.

Here are the results of phase I:  I lost 8.4 lbs in four weeks.  Yay me!  Except for the first few days, I haven't been overly hungry.  I am eating 2000 to 2400 calories per day, based on my age, weight, activity level, and the fact that I am nursing. 

The diet plan requires you to eat every 3 to 4 hours, so I eat 3 meals and 2 snacks, almost religiously.  The exercise plan has been great.  I haven't followed it exactly, but pretty close.  Thursday and Saturday I do intervals and the strengthening workouts.  The intervals actually take me 22 minutes with warmup and cooldown.  The strengthening workouts take about 15 minutes.

Here's where I deviate a bit.  On Tuesday, I do a 40 minute spin class instead of intervals.  We do intervals IN the spin class.  I squeeze my third strengthening workout in on Wednesday at home.  And Sunday, I try to walk or swim, so I get a little extra in.

I have been tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal for the Ipad.  My husband has also been tracking his calories, and he's lost 10 lbs.

So...onto phase 2!

The creator of the plan also has DVDs you can buy, and a monthly fee if you want to join her "club" where you get forums and a "workout of the month".  You get a free month membership when you buy her Ebook.  I never used my membership because of the whole "having a baby" thing last year.  I find her DVDs to be a little steep on the price, so I am going to pass on that.

However, I must say that my results are so good that I am FINALLY ready to just cancel my weight watchers on line membership.  I did really well on WW in 2002 and then a couple times later to lose the baby weight.  I've never actually successfully lost weight any other way.  Well, I guess I can't say that now.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The week's menu

You can see the week's menu here:

I plan breakfast, lunch (for the adults, for the kiddo, we wing it), and dinner a week at a time.  I am trying to get this done by Friday night so that I can get my grocery shopping done on Friday.  The goal is to do one shopping trip and be done with that for the weekend.

In order for that to be successful, I have to correctly estimate how much we will eat of everything.  I am not quite there yet.  This week, I forgot one item, then I bought a wrong item.  So that required another trip.  Then we ran out of a few things, which will probably require another mid-week trip.  Ugh.  I am also trying to ONLY buy what we are eating that given week.  My pantry is no longer stuffed to the brim, and the freezer isn't so bad either (it's mostly stuffed with breastmilk).

Saturday night is hereby designated as casserole and grill night.  We grill-baked chicken (apparently my husband half grilled it, then we ran out of gas, so he finished it in the oven).  We are trying to grill at least once a week.  You see, dirty secret...I know how to cook, and I took two grilling classes, but we don't know how to grill!  If it's not pre-cooked sausages, we're lost.  So the last couple of months we've been grilling more.  I've decided we should grill almost every weekend, try new recipes, and when we get proficient, we will actually start grilling and inviting people over!  Not that I don't have people over, I just don't grill when I do it.

I also made Averie's salsa and cheezy vegetable bake casserole.  I even used vegan cheeze!  Because I bought some accidentally a few months ago.  That stuff never expires.

I'd planned to have the chicken last 3 nights, but it's only going to last two with three of us eating it.  I could stretch it further in a casserole.  So Monday I'll have to sub in meatballs from the freezer.

Lunches are the leftover steak with stir-fry vegetables and brown rice.  Which changes to beans and rice when we run out of the steak.

You'll see I keep a list on the bottom of the calendar of each day and what I'm supposed to make on that day so that we don't go hungry.  On Tuesday night, I need to prep the ingredients for Crockpot Sausage Stew, which will go into the crockpot on Wednesday morning.

It's such a glamorous life I lead. :)  The honest truth is that parenting is hard work. And parenting with a job? Makes getting food on the table even more challenging.

I swear the only time I sit down on the weekend for more than 5 minutes is when I'm nursing the baby.  I eat about half my meals standing up, sitting on the bed while trying to get the baby to sleep, or in less than 5 minutes. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The great steak caper

We grilled steak again.  Made extra.  Sliced thin and froze it.  It's destined to be lunches next week or the week after. 

My lunch and dinner plans are evolving.  Don't get me wrong.  I love my job.  I love to cook.  I love my family.  All three together are challenging.  I need 1.5 hours to get out the door in the morning, what with waking, nursing the baby, pumping, showering, eating breakfast, feeding the kiddo....  And in the evenings, there's a fussy baby, a fussy kiddo, a tired mommy, and too many people/things needing my attention.

The reason why I chose to return to work half time and early was to get into the swing of things.  I am learning what works and what doesn't.  Making all our lunches on the weekend so far is working.  We made 7 bean, veggie, cheese burritos on Saturday and froze them.  We are eating them for lunch during the week with leftover sides. (and supplementing with Trader Joe's).  Next week we will either do steak and rice - half Mexican style and half Asian style, or sandwiches.  The week after will be the other.  Then it will be pasta week.

Dinners I am still figuring out.  I get home around 2 pm, nurse the baby, do household chores then pick up the older kid at school at around 4:30.  When my hours go up, I will lose those 2.5 hours, so I'm experimenting with how to get dinner on the table because I'll have a hungry baby and a cranky 6 year old on my hands.  Today, it's the crockpot.  I think that might be my savior for the next year.

So weekend: make a big casserole, roast, or pot of something.  Enough for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Tuesday: microwaved vegetables and baked chicken.

Wednesday: crockpot meal, enough for Weds, Thurs, Friday.

We'll see how this works out.  I have three weeks to perfect it.  Last night I spent so much time cleaning up after dinner and prepping for tonight's dinner and packing lunches and dealing with a cranky baby and a crankier 6 year old.  It was awful.  I need to change things up so that my time after work is spent on homework with the kiddo, baby feeding, and minimal chores.

Anyway, on to the steak!

We grilled steak:


Oh and I also made hummus:

...and baba ganoush, salsa, and potato salad.  But who's counting?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tonight's dinner inspired by...Sh*t on a Shingle

If you've never heard of it, google it.  It's creamed chipped beef on toast, something we ate as a kid.

We also ate creamed tuna on toast.  And that's kind of what I was going for here.

You see, I looked in the pantry, saw a can of salmon.  Decided to figure out what to do with it that didn't require much effort.  Salmon casserole was going to be too much work (like tuna casserole).  So I decided to make the "base" for it and throw it over brown rice.

Step 1: the night before while cleaning the kitchen, throw the rice in the cooker.  Don't forget to put it in the fridge when it's done.

Step 2: the night before, look up the "recipe" for homemade cream-of-whatever soup mix and set it on the counter next to the can of salmon.

Step 3: chop the onions and put in fridge

Step 4: while the baby is taking a 30 second nap (or it felt like it), open the can of salmon, flake it, put it in fridge.

Step 5: when husband gets home, hand over baby and start cooking!

Creamed salmon and peas over rice
For the soup mix: Probably about 25 cents:
1 Tbsp onion flakes
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 c. dry milk powder
parsley, salt, pepper, thyme

1 15-oz can salmon: $2.50
2 cups frozen peas: 1.00
1 T canola oil: 0.05
some chopped onion (optional): 0.25

Saute the the onion until soft in a medium saucepan. 

Mix the soup mix with a fork, and add to 2 cups water.  Mix with a fork again until well blended.  Add to the cooked onions.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to thicken, then reduce heat and simmer.  Add salmon and peas and simmer until desired thickness.

Serve over rice.  About $4.05 for the salmon dish.
About 3 cups of rice was $0.42. 
So for $4.47, we had dinner for two nights and one lunch serving.  About five servings.  I was aiming for 4 servings, but it stretched further than I thought it would.

Oh, and we got organic corn from the farm.  But only two ears, so I didn't get any.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Planning and scheduling

So, I went back to work this week.  Part time.  The biggest issue this week is the planning and the scheduling of meals.

You see, spouse and I are trying to lose weight.  So we are also logging everything into MyFitnessPal.  That adds a whole new level to the planning.  You  have to make sure you eat enough but not too much.  You need to plan ahead and not be caught off guard.  It's challenging.  My diet plan recommends planning a week in advance, all meals.  I could only handle 4 days.

So for the next week, I'm going to try something new and different.  Or old and the same.  Meaning, I'm going to pick one thing to eat for lunch, and that's what we'll eat for lunch.  Example: a week of burritos (homemade and/or Trader Joe's).  Or a week of sandwiches (make sure we buy enough bread and fillings).  Or a week of rice and stir fry vegetables.  This week we had a lot of pasta.

It may get boring, but we'll see.  For example, the week of stir fry I can buy cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, and peppers, and mix up the veggies each day.  For burritos, I love them so much I can eat bean and cheese burritos no problem.

Then all I have to do is plan the dinners, and three different ones with leftover should do the trick.

Every other time I've lost weight, I've eaten leftovers for lunch. That works too, but some time mid-week you run out, then you have to choose what your next lunch will be.  And seriously, with two kids, I have so little time.  From when I pick up my kid from school until I pass out in bed, there is NO down time.  So planning each day, or even several times per week, doesn't work.

So next week is burrito week.  I'll make burritos on the weekend and freeze them, and plan out our fruits and vegetables.  I overbought on fruit this week.  Still have an entire melon and many apples left.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I've been busy

Taking care of this guy:

and this guy:

and keeping people fed:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012's what's for dinner.

So...I was feeling social this weekend.  It's been awhile since I've felt up to hosting folks at my house, what with a new baby and all.  I invited friends over, and ended up with TWO dinners at home, one on Sunday and one on Monday.  Lucky for me, the Monday dinner friend (our oldest friends in Santa Barbara), offered to bring dinner.  So she provided the ribs and green beans, I provided bruschetta with some pretty sucky French bread, because I was too lazy to walk the extra block to the fancy grocery store from Albertson's.  My bad.

Anyway, we have these big grass fed steaks.  My friend/coworker and her husband buy grassfed beef in bulk from a local place, but don't have enough room to store it.  So I benefit.  The great thing about buying in bulk in the price.  I got 10 lbs of steak for $6 a pound.  Now, we generally don't eat much steak, and in fact, don't really know how to cook it well.  But even the local beef at the farmer's market is $7/lb for GROUND beef, nevermind steak, which is way higher.

In any event, grassfed steak is tricky.  It's very lean and is very prone to overcooking, and overcooking = leather.  Johnny dropped it off and said "6 to 8 minutes a side, trust me on this".  So the first time we tried, it was very rare, and by the time we tried to recook, we got leather.

This time, my spouse mentioned that he thought it was still partially frozen the first time.  So I defrosted it a day earlier, and marinated it.  I googled "steak marinade" and got this recipe, which was great, but I subbed balsamic vinegar for Worcestershire sauce, because I didn't have any.  And I used bottled lemon juice because I was down to 1/2 lemon, and I was using it for my bubble water drinking.  I made 1/2 a recipe for a 1.25 lb steak.

This time...success!  A perfect pink in the middle and tender and delicious.  I wish I took a picture.  But the reality of trying to get dinner on the table with 4 adults and 3 boys (6, 2, and infant, who doesn't eat at the table), means I was just happy that the food was all hot at the same time.  Well, the steak had to rest longer, because the rice wasn't done in time, so I tossed it in the pressure cooker, and then overcooked it.  I used this recipe, but next time will cut the tomato sauce in half and replace with water - it was too tomato-ey.  I left out the onion because my friend hates onion (I KNOW!!)

We also made burgers.  Because we were worried we'd ruin the steak, we had a backup plan.  In the end, I ruined the rice.  Go figure.

So tonight, we still had 4 of the six burgers left.  They were good, even without the onion. ;)

I didn't know what to make as a side.  It's Tuesday, and we're getting low on veggies from the CSA.  We had cucumbers and carrots, and some broccoli from Trader Joe's.  I opted to use nap time #1 to make this Moroccan Carrot Salad recipe from Casual Kitchen that looked good to me. was delicious!  And so easy!  I microwaved the carrots instead of boiling.  And I topped mine with feta, because I found another recipe with feta, and avocado, because I have a ripe one, and I had to do something with it.  For a laughably cheap recipe, this was a real keeper.  Except my kid thought it was "too spicy" (the lemon juice? the vinegar?  I cut the garlic to one clove already.)  Being a good mom, I rinsed his portion in the colander and let him eat the plain steamed carrots.

On a side note, trying to lose weight and count calories when you are! I'm starving!  At 2300 calories a day!