I <3 My Electric Kettle

I spent a week visiting my “Fairy Godmother” last Christmas and New Year’s, and I fell in love with her electric kettle.  In about a minute it can boil water for tea.  I ordered one on Amazon before I even returned home, and I’ve been using it ever since.

Electric KettleLately I’ve been using it to boil water to make sugar-free Jello.  At only 5 calories per serving, it satiates my sweet tooth, and it’s so convenient to make with this kettle.

I saw a post the other day on LifeHacker about making perfect rice by toasting the rice and boiling the water separately.  Once I transition back to conventional foods, I know I’ll be using my kettle to make rice, too.

What kitchen gadget do you love?

Recipe Challenge: Snickerdoodles

I’ve been challenged by my new cohort of classmates to come up with a Health One Meal Replacement recipe for Snickerdoodles.  I have in mind starting with a vanilla meal replacement base, adding butter flavorings, artificial sweeteners, and maybe extra vanilla extract.  Oh, and lots of cinnamon.

Photo Credit: Burger Baroness via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Burger Baroness via Compfight cc

What is it that makes a snickerdoodle a snickerdoodle?  What must this recipe have in order to pass as an imposter?

It’s Always Something

Christmas.  New Year’s.  Birthday.  Wedding.  Valentine’s.  Easter.  There’s always a reason to eat something with empty calories in it.  For me, the gauntlet was Teacher Appreciation Week.  My weakness is icing.

Cake Corner

When I walked into the teachers’ lounge, this was staring me in the face saying, “I waited just for you!”  I don’t know about you, but for me, cake is all about the frosting.  I’ve seen some folks scrape off the good stuff and eat just the cake.  I’m the other way around.  Give me just the sweet stuff, and I’ll be happy.

I didn’t eat any cake last week.  I didn’t eat any cookies, donuts, muffins, snicker doodles, or even fortune cookies.

IMG_2234

I did crack one open, but I didn’t care for the fortune it gave me.  I’m plotting my own destiny, here.  Why do I need to take instructions from a cookie?

The point is, there will always be something in your path shouting, “Eat me!”  There will forever be holidays, girl scouts with cookies, and even the random corner piece of cake staring you in the face.  Decide today how you plan to deal with that monster when it rears its ugly head.

While I’m in the weight loss stage of things, when calories call, I’m letting them go to voice mail.

Change is Hard

In class last week Brooklyn, my new dietitian, talked about the stages of change.  Although I’ve been through the 16 UAMS classes several times each, I saw this week’s lesson through different eyes.  We discussed the stages of change.

Stages of Change Model by Prochaska & DiClemente

Stages of Change Model by Prochaska & DiClemente

In pre-contemplation, you’re either unaware that there is a problem or you’re in denial about it.  For me, this was the first couple decades of my life.

Next comes contemplation.  You’re aware of the problem, and you’re weighing your options.  “I really need to exercise.  Oh!  Look!  House of Cards!”

I contemplated for a while before joining the UAMS weight loss program in 2011.  I looked at diet pills, fad diets, weight loss surgery, and other options, including “doing nothing.”  I ultimately decided to try UAMS.  This point of decision-making is the determination phase.

In the action phase, you do the things necessary to achieve the change you want.  For me, it was eating a low calorie diet and exercising, which established a calorie deficit and effected weight loss.  In 2011, 2012, and early 2013, I “action’ed” my butt off.  Literally.

I reached my goal in 2013, and transitioned to maintenance.  In this stage, you take the actions necessary to maintain the change.  For me, it was making informed food choices, continuing exercise, and monitoring my weight.  I maintained for about a year.

Relapse.  That’s the killer.  It’s when you slip into your old ways.  We’ll just call that one School Year 2014-2015.  As viewed through the lens of my Discover Card statement, here’s what relapse looks like for me

CC Statement Relapse

The beauty of change, I am told, is that you can jump back into it at any time.  Today, I feel that I’m in the action stage.  I’m reliably eating within my calorie budget, I’m exercising regularly, and I’m determined to reach a weight where I’ll be healthy and happy.

Which stage are you in?

Tell Me, What’s Your Flavor?

The Health One Meal Replacements I eat come in four flavors.  Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Potato.  Potato is the most versatile for creating savory things, like corn muffins, potato chips, and pizza.  The chocolate is great for shakes, pudding, and cookies.  The strawberry.  Well, that’s an acquired taste.

Low-calorie add-ins

Low-calorie add-ins

UAMS program participants are allowed to add additional seasonings and low-calorie, flavorful foods to their meal replacements to make meals replacements more interesting.  On my last trip to the grocery store I picked up some Mrs. Dash seasoning, taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, sugar-free instant pudding mix, and enough salsa to last me a month.

What do you add to your meal replacements?

Where do you exercise?

Resuming this journey requires I resume exercise.  I’m doing it now the same way I did it the first time — by committing to walking at least 30 minutes per day.  When I started in 2011 I couldn’t make it across the Two Rivers Bridge without stopping to rest my ankles.  I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I first crossed the Big Dam Bridge.  This was the gorgeous sunset I saw the other night as I crossed the Big Dam Bridge.

BDB Sunset

Where do you exercise?

The Knowing-Doing Gap

Let’s just rip this BandAid off.  I haven’t posted in over a year because I’ve been struggling with weight maintenance.  There.  That’s better.  What I love about the UAMS program that helped me lose over 250 pounds is when I walked in the clinic door last week having gained about a hundred pounds back, they didn’t do any of the negative things I worried they might.  They just said, “Daniel! We’re glad to see you!”

May, 2015

May, 2015

That was me this weekend waiting to start a Color Dash 5K to benefit KUAR, our local public radio station.  It had been a while since I walked that distance, but I made it through the whole course at my own pace.  I remember walking about 3 miles with a coworker each day on our lunch hour at my previous school.  I miss those walks.

How does this happen?  More calories in than out.  I’m confident that if I went to the gym and swiped my card tomorrow, confetti and balloons would fall from the ceiling.  We don’t want that.  I honestly don’t know the last time I went to the gym, and I’m too ashamed to look it up.

I do know that Wendy’s has kids meals on sale after 4PM for $1.99 each.  I also know where you can still find Cadbury Creme Eggs for 27 cents.  I know too well where $1.59 will buy you a cinnamon roll the size of your face with more than a quarter inch of cake frosting on the top.

I know that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.  I know that weight gain occurs when an individual consumes more calories than he expends.  I know how to plan a healthy meal.  I know how to cook foods low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in flavor.  I know.  I know.

It’s not about what we know.  It’s about what we do.

What I’m doing is re-enrolling in the UAMS weight loss program and joining a Foundations I class.  I’m walking the walk with a room full of new patients who are simultaneously excited and frightened as they begin their own journeys.

We all had the same question at some point, “What if this doesn’t work?”  What if it does?  It did for me, and it will again.  I walk into this classroom knowing what the end-game looks like, and this time I’m going to make the most of every session, picking up the knowledge, skills, and abilities that I missed the first time so I can be sure I’ll never have to retrace these steps again.

The lyrics to a show tune keep coming to mind at this moment.  “I know where I’m going, and I know where I’ve been.”

Summer 2011

Summer 2011

Bypass

The Foodtritionist, whom I recommend you follow on Facebook for the humor as much as the sound nutrition and recipe advice, recently posted a cartoon that resonated with me.  “You have many weight-loss options:  gastric bypass, donut shop bypass, pizza parlor bypass, buffet bypass…”

Bypass Cartoon

For me, it’s gas station bypass.  Keeping foods that I would have difficulty consuming in healthy portions and at reasonable frequencies out of my pantry has long been a key to encouraging myself to make sound food choices.  Have you been inside a gas station lately?

I commute about an hour each way to and from work, so I get gas once every two or three days.  I am signed up for the rewards program that my gas station offers so I save between 5 and 10 cents per gallon.  When you burn fuel as rapidly as I do, every little bit counts.  With that rewards program came free treats.  A free fountain drink.  A free coffee.  A free Cadbury Cream Egg.

These freebies are designed to lure us inside.  Once there, they want to keep us inside.  Buy 6 fountain drinks and get the 7th for free.  Scan this QR Code and we’ll send you a coupon for something each Thursday.  Free donut.  Free hot dog.  Free coffee.  Free calories.

It wasn’t long before I was stopping into the gas station when I didn’t even need to get gas.  The people were very friendly.  The bathrooms were always sparkling.  The employees were so helpful — “You know, if you get another one of those it’ll only be 49 cents more.  They’re on sale this week.”  How can you turn away an offer like that?

Food addiction was never something I really thought was a thing.  Sure, people make bad decisions, but addiction?  When I drive past a gas station and my mouth begins watering, what do you call that?

I’m going to have a radical gas station bypass performed.  I don’t need the fountain drinks.  I don’t need the freebies.  I can pay at the pump.  When the receipt tells me that there are free things inside, I’m going to tear it up and drive away.  When the rewards system sends me a text message encouraging me to come inside to try a new product, I’m going to delete it.  When the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup calls my name, I’m going to let that call go to voicemail.

I can bypass the unhealthy options in the grocery store, but I seem to have difficulty bypassing them in convenience stores.  The answer is to bypass convenience stores.

What are you going to bypass?

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