The 40’s

The 40’s don’t typically stick out as a remembered decade for me. I mean, I know some major stuff happened in the 40’s, don’t get me wrong. WW2 spanned half the decade, and we saw the advent of some pretty amazing things like the slinky, velcro, and yes, folks, even microwaves. But it’s no iconic roaring 20’s, no sock-hop and grease-laden 50’s, and certainly no totally awesome 80’s.

I certainly don’t mean to negate the contributions and tribulations of an entire decade, and I’m certain the there are plenty of people out there who do have significant connections to this particular portion of history. For me, though, the thought of that series of numbers, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, and 49 has never drawn any particular emotions for me. That all changed on Friday.

Friday morning, buck naked, after my first bathroom visit of the day (which is apparently the best time and state at which to weight) that series of numbers elicited one of the most emotional responses to any experience thus far on my journey to a healthier me. For the first time in my entire overweight life, I got to actually see my weight on the scale include some of those numbers. I’m sure they’ve been there before, but only during the initial upward climb. Before now I’ve never stuck with my plan long enough to see those numbers on the way back down. I’ve dabbled in the 260’s, even reached the 250’s several times, but never, ever have I gotten so far as the 240’s.

247.6 lbs.

To date on this journey I have lost 27.4 lbs. The single highest amount of weight that I have ever lost.

Seeing that number on the scale was like a reawakening inside of me. It reminded me what I am doing, and why I am doing it. It reminded me what this blog is all about, and why it is called “First Day of the Rest of Days.” Not because it’s catchy, or easy to remember, or clever and cute. It’s because every single day when I wake up, I have another change. A new opportunity to continue on this path. A chance to start over. A chance to learn from mistakes and keep moving in the right direction.

When I looked down and saw that number…it reminded me to keep working, keep moving, keep trying because every day is a new day, and another step closer to the day not only when I step on the scale and see the end number, but the day that I am proud of my achievements, the day that I can comfortably and happily do the things that I love, enjoy the people I love, and put the negative elements of my past behind me knowing I am strong and capable of really enjoying my future. I’m sure that sentence if one of the most horrible run-ons in the history of the English language, but I’m hoping in light of the circumstances you’ll all forgive me!

This is new and strange, and I don’t really like it

I love to cook. Always have, and I hope that I always do. I love to play and experiment and whip up delicious creations. I rarely struggle with recipes, and right now I’m struggling. This is a completely new and strange experience. It’s stressing me out.

Last weekend I went to Phenix City, AL (just outside of Columbus, GA) where my Diamond sister, Anna, lives with her husband Tim and their son Caden. For those who don’t know, a Diamond is the equivalent of a “big” in a sorority, but my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi calls them Diamonds. Our symbol is a diamond, and they changed the name in order to better create a sense of equality among the members. Everyone is a Diamond, no distinction between “big” or “little.”

While we were there visiting Anna, they took us to lunch at a place called Zoe’s Kitchen. It was the epitome of comfort food with a Greek/Mediterranean twist. Lots of wraps, pita sandwiches, hummus, all filled with delicious flavors- the perfect combinations of crunchy and soft, sweet and salty.

Each entree selection comes with your choice o several delicious sides. Tim selected their braised white beans with rosemary. The depth of flavor in these beans (he insisted I try a bite!) was out of this world. It was a bowl of beans. And it was also one of the single most delicious bites of food I have ever had. Creamy, complex, hearty and warm with this slight sweetness, almost like a shortbread cookie that has delicious bits of sweetness among the thick, bread-like cookie. No, those beans didn’t taste like shortbread, but the way the sweet fragrance of the rosemary crept out over the meatiness of the beans and completely enveloped every taste bud.

It was the type of bite you don’t want to chew or swallow. You just want to hold it in your mouth and taste it forever.

Ever since then I have been trying to recreate the recipe. There is surprisingly little on the internet in terms of similar recipes, so I’ve attempted recreating this one on my own. I’m so close. It has all the same flavors, all the same known ingredients, but it’s still missing something. You can taste the garlic, taste the rosemary, and the beans are creamy and cooked perfectly. Something is missing, though, and the flavors are just not marrying the way that they should.

I’m not giving up, but it’s definitely a struggle and I don’t like it one bit! I guess this is just part of the process. I’ll dive back in to my falvor bible, research the herbs, taste everything again, and throw on another pot tomorrow. Alex is probably going to kill me (he hates the smell and taste of Rosemary, the smell gives him a headache, the taste makes him retch) but I will press on! Any of you chefs with advice out there in cyber-land, I sure would appreciate some guidance!

New things to try and play with!

After work yesterday, Alex and I went a little out of our way to visit one of my favorite places, the Super H Mart. This is an Asian food megastore located right next door to the ITT Tech I used to work at.

The produce section alone is out of this world, but I love looking at everything. There are so many foods I never knew existed, so many flavors I’ve never even heard of. It can be alienating at first, especially since I can’t tell what I’m looking at half the time (most of the packaging just has characters, English, if there is any, is usually tiny and only on the back) but it is still a ton of fun.

Yesterday I got some new fresh produce to try including shitake mushrooms (I’ve eaten these, but never prepared them at home,) and Kubocha squash. In more familiar territory I also got some Romaine lettuce because it was only $0.99 per head, and some fresh Rosemary for the recipe I’m trying to replicate this evening (Braised white beans with Rosemary from Zoe’s Kitchen.)

After perusing around the rest of the store I picked up more Soba noodles (I still have 2 bundles from my #Foodiepenpals friend, Lauren, but after my delicious Shrimp/Spinach/Soba goodness, my whole family wants it for dinner soon) and grabbed a package of shirataki noodles to try, a large package of pre-shelled edamame, and a few little treats for Alex!

Definitely on the prowl for some new recipes, particularly any that include Kubocha! I can’t wait to get back home and get cooking!

Foodie Pen Pals!

So last month I read about the Foodie Pen Pals program from Dena at 40 Fit In The Mitt, and I just knew that I had to sign up! It’s a really fun program started by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean  that matches bloggers and readers across the country get matched and send each other foodie-inspired packages. Now, first let me say this: KUDOS to Lindsay. This is not only the best idea ever, but she does an absolutely fantastic job organizing everything. There will be more about Foodie Pen Pals after my post for anyone interested in participating, but for now…here is my first box reveal!

This month my foodie pen pal was Lauren, from Lauren Living Locally. I visited her blog before receiving my package, and I was extremely excited to be paired with her! I just knew she would send me different, delicious treats, and for my first #Foodiepenpals box, she definitely did not disappoint!

In my box Lauren included lots of yummy goodies, including Almond butter from The Orchards inPomona,NY(something I have been dying to try, but never purchased because Alex refuses to try it!), Bread and Butter Pickles (again, much to Alex’s dismay! *More on that later!), Roasted Natural Sea Weed, Soba noodles, and a recipe for Soba noodles with kale and walnuts!

The absolute first thing I did was stir up the almond butter and gently spread it across a piece of honey wheat bread. Emphasis on gentle. The almond butter was much crunchier than traditional peanut butter, and had a prominent saltiness mixed in among the sweet. It wasted of delicious toasted almonds- I really cannot explain how delicious it was! It is definitely something I will continue to treat myself with, whether Alex partakes in it or not!

*When I opened my package I took out the most gigantic jar of delicious, home-made looking pickles that I have ever laid eyes on. Anyone who knows me and Alex knows that I love pickles more than most any food in the world, and the simple smell of pickles will send Alex into fits of retching that can last for hours. Seriously, I once ate a cheeseburger with pickles on it for lunch, and he could still detect pickles when I kissed him hello six hours later. The look on his face was quite possibly the funniest I have ever witnessed, and I could not have been happier to receive this glorious jar of pickles!

When I opened the jar and took the first bite, it was out of this world. A lovely crunch, with a soft, tart center- the perfect punch of sour, followed by that distinct, buttery sweetness. I am in pickle heaven.

The roasted sea week is the item I was both most scared, and most interested to try. Lauren warned me in her letter that they were an acquired taste, but I was determined to try them! They’re really not bad. I finally understand what contributes that flavor to sushi, as I never really attributed it to the sea weed before for some reason. Definitely not a snack I can eat a ton of at once, but it definitely is a nice alternative for a salty snack.

The final item was a package of Planet Organic Soba Noodles. I’ve never tried soba noodles, but have heard only good things about them. Not only did Lauren send me some, but she was sweet enough to include a recipe for soba noodles with kale and walnuts. I haven’t had the chance to try it yet (I haven’t been out to get the kale and walnuts) but I did try the noodles tonight with some ingredients I had on hand, and made a killer meal for dinner!

Remember to check out more information about #Foodiepenpals on Lindsay’s blog, and sign up to participate soon! Stay tuned for a guest post from my #foodiepenpals recipient, Amanda, in the next post!

The strange things that change

Completely changing the way you do pretty much everything does not come without its challenges. I have had to understand how my body works, change things that have been lifelong habits, and work hard to maintain those changes. Sometime along the way my body started changing, and suddenly some of those challenges have shifted, some disappeared altogether. Some new challenges have come up that are altogether unexpected.

One of the biggest surprises and subsequent challenges from the beginning my journey was the amount of calories I drank every day. Sodas, tea, hundreds of calories at a time, and on top of that more sugars and sodium than I care to think about now. I didn’t even consider diet sodas as an option- I have developed ridiculous dependence on them before, and I know they are just not at all good for you. Water was a struggle, even with Crystal Light (pretty much the only way I can drink water…) I was not at all consistent.

Even though it was difficult, I pushed through. I got a water bottle large enough to make it easy to get in my daily allotment without losing count or stressing out about getting the right amount. I stayed diligent, only ordering water anytime we go out to eat, starting my day with a glass, ending my day with a glass, pushing through even when it is difficult. Over the last four months, my body’s aversion to water has changed. What used to be a struggle, is not something I rely on. When I’m thirsty, I crave water. I know when I haven’t had enough.

Another thing that has changed significantly is my food cravings. Sweets and chocolate were never something I liked. I have never disliked them, but I would opt for a savory snack over pretty much any sweet selections. Sodium is one of the things that I monitor pretty closely, and overtime those tastes have completely changed. Rather than unhealthy snacks like Cheez-Its or Chex Mix, or even healthier options like carrots or celery I cannot make it through the day without a taste of something sweet. This week my reward when I have the extra calories to spare has been a couple Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Nuggets with Almonds. They are just sweet enough, have a little crunch, and a half serving (2 pieces) is only about 90 calories. It’s just enough to satisfy the craving, and not so much that I go over all of my limits for the day.

Where I used to love indulging in a big, juicy steak, my body screams for vegetables, salmon, chicken. Chips and dip are carrots and hummus. These things aren’t hard anymore. They are what my body wants. These changes are the real NSVs, the little victories that reaffirm that this is a lifestyle change, a new way of eating, living, being that makes me feel good emotionally, and physically.

These are strange changes; things I hoped for, but never quite expected. These are the things that make me smile at the end of another day where I made healthier decisions, and thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.

NSV…FTW!

For those of you who do not speak in internet acronym, today’s post will share a couple of NSVs (non-scale victories) that I have had this week (for the win!)

First, I want to mention my scale. I have not lost it forever, I have not thrown it out the window, and the number is not going back up in the wrong direction. That being said, you won’t see any scale posts here for a couple more weeks. When I started losing more and more noticeable amounts of weight, I fell into the trap I always do: slave to the scale. I refuse, absolutely REFUSE, to let that happen to me on this journey. This is about so much more than the number on the scale, that I know when I start hopping on it every single day, sometimes more than once…it’s time to lock it up for a few weeks.

So this week, I celebrate some NSVs!

1. Towels. I have pretty much used nothing but beach towels since high school, because it was the only kind big enough to wrap completely around me without paying $20-30 for a big fancy department store “bath sheet.” 1st of all, let me say: no towel should cost that much. I am not paying that amount of money to dry my butt off, unless it’s going to do all of the work for me. And 2nd, I refuse to use a towel referred to as a “sheet.” Doesn’t really help the fat complex.

Today, for the 1st time since probably 8th grade, I was able to use a regular old towel and with the exception of the very very widest part of my hips, it wrapped all the way around!

2. Sizes. So I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m almost down 3 full sizes- almost, but not quite there yet. Well, I can officially say: when I started my journey, I was starting to outgrown my 26Ws. You did not read wrong, that was a twenty-six. 2 – 6. I have never felt more horrible about myself than getting to that point. I had previously felt that way before when I realized my already gargantuan-feeling 24Ws were starting to get snug, but that thought of moving into a 28W was something I just couldn’t handle. That was the maximum size at a lot of stores that I shop at! No way was I going to have to purchase the biggest options.

I’ll admit, it was honestly more than just the number on the tag. I am an apple shape (which in case you’re not aware is pretty much the worst thing ever, AND the most difficult thing to shop for, ugh.) So having to buy clothes to fit my lovely “apple” (aka my size 26W+ waist/stomach) they are HUGE on my everywhere else. I’ve never had particularly large hips/thighs, and I have NO ass to speak of. So I pretty much look like I’m wearing a potato sack most of the time in jeans, capris, anything really that is designed to fit a size 26W.

Saturday Alex and I went to Discover Mill’s to check out their Sears outlet and Ross store to see if they had any good deals. I was able to squeeze myself (uncomfortably) into 2 pairs of capris, both size 20W. I almost talked myself out of buying them because they were tighter than I wanted, but since I could button and zip them all the way, and they were just uncomfortable, I still got them since the price was right and I knew they’d fit in a couple of weeks. Imagine my surprise when I threw them on Sunday and realized they fit perfectly. All I can think is that I must have been bloated while we were shopping because not only do both pairs still fit perfectly today, but they’re actually even the slightest bit roomy!

Just a little more hard work and a little more time, and I’ll be out of the 20’s forever! Have you had any NSVs this week? If you haven’t heard this term before, definitely work it into your vocabulary- when I finally stop staring at the scale and take a look at the things going on in my life, I start to see more and more of these little victories. I’m not going to lie- sometimes they feel even better than seeing the numbers on the scale!

Cheers!

Not just a weight loss blog

I know that most of my posts are focused on the weight loss aspect of this journey, but that’s not what the entire transformation is about. This is about repairing the damages in my life, regardless of whether or not they have a real affect on my declining waistline or not. A lot of things that I have been working on lately are directly relative to these other non-weight loss goals. The crafting, the cleaning, the organizing.

Now, I can add “the mending” to that list.

Yesterday I met with a friend that I have not seen or spoken to in almost 2 years. We parted ways when she broke up with a mutual friend, but it wasn’t because I chose sides. I’m not even sure what happened. She gave me space to be there and comfort my friend, and we never really closed the gap back up.

She’s reached out to me a couple of times throughout this hiatus, and I’ve always brushed it off, “too busy” to even go out for a simple dinner.

We finally talked about everything via phone, Facebook, and text messages over the last few weeks, and it culminated in a scrumptuous Mexican meal last night at a mall that sits half way between both of our homes. We’ve missed some milestones along the way (she’s married, has a new daughter…I’ve moved into my first house, started a new career) but last night, none of it mattered. It was all about looking forward to the future, each of us with the other back in her life as a support, as a friend.

I can’t explain the lightness in my heart today. It felt so good to get back onto good terms with this old friend, and after a few initial catch-up subjects, it was as if no time had passed at all.

While I’m not about to go crusading around the country to rekindle all of the friendships that have come and go over the course of my 26+ years, but I have an overwhelming sense of calm relief to be back on good, current terms with this particular friend. I think that reprioritizing some aspects of my life, and making room for more people that will perpetuate and support the positive changes I am making can only be a good thing.

How about you? Do you have an old friend you don’t talk to anymore? Can you even remember why? I couldn’t, and I felt so silly about it when I realized! Here’s to new (old) friendships, and continuing to work toward positive change!

Cheers!

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