Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I Know What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up


Yes, you heard it right. After a year of losing the same 10-15 pounds over and over again, I'm healthier, not facing any surgeries (cross fingers, toes, eyes) and I have received my Damascus Road instructions and I feel incredibly led to be buff.

I never wanted to be thin, so this is no great surprise to some. Many goal weights can be debated because being too heavy or too thin can raise serious issues. I just decided that a "buff Frances" is something that everyone can live with.

The picture at the right is my attempt to visual where I wanted to be. NO, THAT'S NOT IT. I couldn't find a happy median between saggy-thin and still carrying a hefty load. I did go looking and after bypassing too many naked BBWs and scary-thin folks at their "medical chart weights," I decided to post (mangle) this one as my way of saying "Frances wants muscles, repaired abs and some "junk in the trunk." (Ok, if you don't know that one, I'm not going to be the one to explain it)

After several stagnant months, the scale started moving and I've gotten on and managed to stay on my bike fairly regularly. Building endurance is pretty empowering and I guess I started thinking I could "leap tall buildings." (Shh, yes, I know I'm 5'5")

I brought this bike three newspapers and more than 13 years ago. I'm finally getting some miles out of it. Yes, those are my real legs.

It's pretty cocky for someone like me to be "choosy" about the improved body I'm trying to build. I prefer to call it blessed. I'm starting to get kinda accustomed to the thought of "life more abundantly: ya know having your cake and eating it too"

No, I don't want cake. I want --MORE -- dare I say, I want it all. I want to eat well, play well, work well and be well. I don't know where that will fall on the scale. I don't think it's 130 pounds and no offense to anyone there. I see some things I want to keep and some things I would like to donate to Good Will. (Pick up the extra skin flaps NOW!!!)

I'm sure I will get back to food on this blog, but I'm in a muscle-movement mode. I want a normal percentage of body fat-to-muscle and I don't care as much what that means on the scale.

I joined a 2-Week Challenge for lap bandsters on OH.com. I'm ready to focus on my body for the first time in a long time. I got the green light -- no hernias, no masses, less pain, less swelling (keeps me humble) and spring time is amongst us.

Here's my plan for the next two weeks:

  • 3-5 Miles biking a day
  • 96-100 oz. of water a day
  • Daily ab and arm work (tattered tummy might hate me for this -- 40 crunches, ouch)
  • Praise and prayer stretching (Power Palates?)
  • Evict the scale (weigh on Mondays)
  • Keep measurements
  • Set appointments with new PCP and AB personal trainer
I started today at about 268. I would like to reach 260. I've ridden the bike twice by 4:45 p.m. I'm on my 72nd ounce of water. I called the manager and trainer at Foxy's and he will see me in two hours ... yeah, baby!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

NSV: Non-scale Victories

I keep pushing myself to get behind the camera from time to time because it gives me a chance to evaluate and reflect. I still don't like pictures -- especially those with no makeup and wild hair -- but even I can't deny that things have changed. The top picture shows me at the beginning of the journey and today.

My husband and I just came back from a true "countryside bike ride." The scale is about where it was last year at this time, but I have built muscle and endurance. I've had a lot of surgeries, gain some weight and then went up and down the same 10 pounds for months. My muscle mass has gone from 42 percent to almost 53 percent. The muscle weighs more than fat, but it's not a lot of fun to say "Hey, look how much muscle I have" as opposed to "I've lost 100 pounds!"

We biked about 8 miles on GRAVEL and offroad. I've never biked offroad and it's some serious workout. My husband decided when it was time to turn around and go home. It's a pretty spring day in Louisiana and I spent some time in the woods with the man I love (and he got some exercise also). This could have never happened at 350 pounds, but I did try from time to time. I'm thankful for NSVs because without them, I would feel like the entire year was a complete failure.

I've not exercised much or gotten many adjustments to my lap band in the past year and I'm hoping all that is about to change. I do think I still eat too much, but my choices are so much better than they were before.

This is my Mushroom Chicken over Penne Pasta. I take pictures of food more than I do myself. At first it was for my future cookbook, now, I use them to help enforce portion control -- "I ate this much!"

The pasta dish was a little bland at first. Today, I reheated it and added a few peppers and some hot spices. Much better. The most important part of the meal was to use Dreamfield low-carb pasta. This stuff is great with 7 grams of "absorbed carbs" instead of 41 grams and it tastes great. It's not a weekly meal around here, but I have used elbow, linguini and the penne Dreamfields. This stuff is the bomb!

Tomorrow, I'm going to weigh and again consider a lap band fill. Anything under 270 is my goal. I'm ready to eat less and exercise more. When I reach 250, I will be 100 pounds under my highest weight of 350 pounds. I would like to be there by the summertime.

My goal of clothes that fit and a new hairstyle can come much sooner. My closet ranges from 32 to 22 and last week I wore a size 32 top with a size 22 pants. I'm pretty cheap and I only brought the size 22 pants cause big baggy pants are only cool if you're a rap singer (and NOT my age).

Note to Scott: Thank you for doing this for me. Personally it still hurts to see pictures of myself cause I don't see all that double chin when I look in the mirror. What the pictures do is give me comparison and hope. I have to do just a little bit better than this and I will never forget the role you played in reinventing me. Love-Frances

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Slow Roast Chicken and Sauteed Veggies: Test Kitchen Series

I truly love chicken and I like it cooked just about every way imaginable. Chicken can create a challenge for a lot of weight loss surgery postops and many write off chicken all together. Well, just like a marriage, I couldn't let chicken go without at least attempting to get some counseling to keep us together.

Problem: As chicken cooks, it can get dry and stringy. Baked chicken, fried chicken, grilled chicken -- it can all get uncomfortable if it goes "bad" in the process. Most lap band postops gravitate toward cooking solid proteins in a liquid environment (uh, sauces, creams, soups, juices) to keep is moist and tender. I give props to Lap Bander and fellow Bayou Babe Simone J. for saying she had stock in barbecue sauce. I planned to cook this chicken in barbecue sauce, but I didn't have any when I started cooking. Enter my budget-minded solution -- spaghetti sauce.

This chicken is first of all dark meat. Yes, fattier, but more moist and more tender for that same reason. I oven-cooked it covered with heavy foil at only 350 degrees so it would hold its moisture and cook through to the bone without leaving the surface tough and dry.

We are pairing the chicken with a sauteed veggie mix of zucchini, purple onions and red and yellow bell peppers. This mix is vitamin and water rich with extremely low calorie counts. Cooking them and keeping them crispy and crunchy is the hardest part.

Slow-Roast Chicken Leg Quarters

5 chicken leg quarters
1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce
Herbs and seasonings: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cilantro, garlic and parsley
2 teaspoons of Land of Lakes 'Lite' Butter (not as unhealthy as you might think)
Parmesan cheese (optional on top of cooked chicken)

Rub and massage the butter stuff on the leg quarters. This will help the surface remain soft and hold the seasonings better. I placed the quarters on a glass baking dish before applying the herbs and spices.

Apply a firmly placed sheet of foil on the top (or a lid if you are all "fancy") and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake covered for 2 and a half hours.

Pour in spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce or just plain tomato sauce if you want to save even more calories. Put lid (duh, foil) make on top and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour. It's so soft and tender that fine chewing will not be a challenge at all.

Sauteed zucchini and Bells

2 small zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 purple onion
2 teaspoons of Land of Lakes Lite
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Seasoned with black pepper, cilantro and parsley

Chop the vegetables and place in a heated pan with olive oil and Land of Lakes Lite. Season as it cooks. Saute until cooked, but still crunchy if possible.

Ah, time to eat. The chicken was tender and surrendered right off the bone. The fresh veggies offer an inviting taste and crunch. The rest of the family had pasta with this meal.

The calorie and protein count is pretty decent. The chicken dish has about 350 calories and 35 grams of protein. I added more calories to what Calorie-Count estimates to compensate for the Land O Lakes and sauce. Take the skin off for an ever greater calorie savings (but I would suggest "after" cooking if you are a lap band postop). I added a few extra grams of protein by sprinkling Parmesan cheese on my finished chicken.

zucchini has about 1/4 of the Vitamin C you need daily in one serving. It also has about 20 calories and a gram of protein (woohoo!). It has other vitamins and iron. I'm new to zucchini consumption and I can't believe how much I like it. Fill up on a big ole bowl of zucchini and you have expended less than 100 calories even if cooked in oil or butter.

Bell peppers are listed as one of the world's healthiest foods on one health nut Web site. It says: "Want to color your life healthy? Brightly colored bell peppers, whether green, red, orange or yellow, are rich sources of some of the best nutrients available. To start, peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), two very powerful antioxidants."

Vitamins A, C, K, E -- you name it, these puppies have it. It also is a "very good" source of dietary fiber and a cup of bell peppers is about 25 calories.

I think this was a yummy meal, even if hubby added salt to everything. I don't cook with a lot of salt any more and I think I totally eliminated it from some of these items. I think this meal costs me about 400 calories and had about 40 grams of protein in it. Earlier, I had about 15 grams of protein from milk and I will have more chicken for dinner. This day should hold about 80+ grams of protein and I'm well under 1000 calories before dinner.

Any comments or suggestions to this meal would be appreciated.