Happiness is an Organized Freezer

I like organizing stuff. Yesterday as a nice rainy day activity, I took everything out of my standing freezer, cleaned the inside, and sorted the food into categories. I’m a former cataloger, this was easy. It was incredibly full of very healthy things, though some of them had gotten freezer burn or were older than seemed safe to try to eat. But it wasn’t organized and I had no idea what all was in there. Folks, I don’t need to buy meat for months. And now that I know what’s in there, and can find it, I’m looking at new recipes and ways to eat what I found.

This beautifully organized freezer has a divided bottom drawer with meat divided by type, with the oldest in the front so I’ll grab it first. On the right side we have way too many packages of ground beef in 1 lb packages from Sam’s. On the left we have way too many packs of Sam’s chicken thighs. In the middle are random miscellaneous beef such as beef tips, stew meat, and Italian sausage.

In the next drawer we now have frozen veggies on one side (apparently I got a great deal on Birds Eye Pearl Onions, which I love to add to stew but sometimes have trouble finding) and frozen fruit on the other side, heavy on cranberries and blueberries.

Up a shelf we have pre-packaged things such as frozen chicken cordon bleu that I forgot I had. And up one more we find frozen salmon and tilpia, with some portioned out single-serve containers of spaghetti pie and red beans and rice. On the top shelf is a basket with frozen pork tenderloins – I could eat one a week for the next 6 weeks! – and bread things.

And at eye level, organized in rows from front to back, are single-serve containers of things I cooked, frozen, and then sort of forgot were there because I couldn’t easily find them. We have rows of chicken teriyaki, stew, gazpacho, meat sauce, chili, and vegetable beef soup. I don’t have to cook anything for a long time.

On the door are bags of pecans from my yard, a few frozen dinners, and tall containers of chicken and dumplings, soup, stew, and chicken teriyaki. I obviously ran out of individual size containers – gee, I wonder why – so dumped several in one tall plastic container.

I’m feel organized, stocked, and virtuous for doing all of this. I know what’s there and know how to find it. The oldest package of pork tenderloin is defrosting for me to enjoy, and I have plans for a new recipe for Asian glazed chicken thighs in the air fryer, which I have but haven’t actually used yet. Progress. Oh and on the side, I stayed within my food plan yesterday and today. Stringing small beads together, one at a time, for however long it takes.

And then there were Girl Scout cookies

You know the story: a child, or grandchild, or niece, or neighbor’s daughter, or the granddaughter of someone you work with puts out word that “It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!” Those boxes are only $5 each even if they have fewer cookies in them than they used to have. The tastes bring back past delights – Thin Mints and Samoas (now called Caramel Delites, but the same cookie), the Lemon ones, and Tagalongs (now called Peanut Butter Patties, which is a pretty dull if descriptive name). New faves S’more cookies that are JUST like chocolate covered graham crackers but with a little super thin layer of marshmallow.

I want to eat them all. Sometimes I’m strong enough to give them money to support the troop or to pay to send boxes to military or a shelter or some other good cause that’s not in my mouth. This year was not one of those years. I am hyper stressed and Girl Scout cookies fit the moment perfectly. And my mouth, too, if not my food plan. Definitely not the food plan.

I was a Brownie for a year before “crossing over” and becoming a Girl Scout in my green uniform with round patches of badges for things like Knitting, Cooking, and First Aid. Now of course they have badges for Robot Making, Genealogy, Basic Coding, and things that I’m not exactly sure what they are. But it’s exciting that they’ve kept up with the times. Cookie sales are still a Thing, though, but they’ve changed the process to provide buyers with immediate gratification of Cookies in Hand.

Back in my day we put on our uniforms and went door to door in the neighborhood and up and down nearby streets, ringing doorbells and knocking on doors, pulling out our best sales pitch to convince people who didn’t need cookies that they Really Needed These Amazing Cookies sold ONLY by Girl Scouts but which they couldn’t have yet. Then we sent the orders in and the Cookie Mom’s house was packed with cases and cases of cookies that had to be divided up to match the orders. The girls then picked them up and delivered them, often lugging Red Flyer wagons full of cookies around the neighborhood.

It was work. And we had to do it all ourselves. I don’t remember that anyone in my troop had help from parents asking their work colleagues to buy boxes of cookies. We didn’t set up outside stores with boxes of cookies to sell with our winning smiles – because we had to order them all before we actually had cookies in our hands. My mom was my Girl Scout leader and was also the Cookie Mom for at least two years. I think it made her crazy – I know it would me – in part because my father, who adored Thin Mints, might pop down and walk off with a box that he’d eat in secret so Mom wouldn’t know what he was doing. Thin Mint breath usually gave him away.

The cookies are for sale now and I have four boxes in the garage. I’m not sure why I bought this many except a friend was helping her adored granddaughter with sales. I could have said “No” but I didn’t. My plan is to freeze them and hope that does the trick of “out of sight, out of mind.” Except for the ones I’ve already opened, of course.

It’s a cookie kind of day.

Eating All the Things

I’m having a week full of days where I Eat All the Things, as my friend Lisa calls it. Days where little crackers and ice cream and donuts and raisin bread just find their way into my mouth without a plan. Although no food is forbidden on my eating plan, it’s been painful to watch how easily I succumb to old patterns and habits for no particular reason. As a result, every day for the last four days I’ve watched the scale nudge up. Oh, not that much, but losing even half a pound takes so much effort and care that it distresses me to see it go up. I’m walking a thin wire of controlled but satisfied, and out of control and overwhelmed. And guilty for not doing this perfectly.

Part of all of this is being on a new medicine, Otezla, for my psoriasis. One of the side effects (and there are many) is nausea, and to counter it, I’ve been nibbling carbs. Okay, not necessarily nibbling. But not bingeing and gorging the Old Way, either. And I’ll give myself enough credit to know that I needed to log whatever I ate even if it upset me to write it down. I have to be accountable to myself because to NOT do that, it’s a slippery slope to gaining it back so fast it makes my head spin. Been there, done that more times than I want to admit.

I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t control the impulses to Eat All the Things. And that’s what it was. I stopped pre-planning my daily food and just went crazy. So today I’m back to drinking water at 5:30 a.m. and planning out almost everything for the day before I took my first bite. There was a little – but not much – wiggle room but there is great comfort for me in having the structure of knowing what I will do today. I planned a slider basket lunch from the club because I enjoy them and there’s lots of protein, which keeps me full and less likely to eat something I don’t need. And dinner will be simple but again, lots of protein and fiber with my rotisserie chicken from Sam’s and fresh steamed broccoli and carrots. Tomorrow will be something different, but that is today.

I think I’m going to need to do this tracking and planning for the rest of my life. It’s not that much of a burden, but NOT doing it leaves me without the control I need to just move on from those tempting carbs, and they’re always carbs. To make it easier, I dumped out everything that had been a temptation and got rid of it in yesterday’s garbage day. Only to have donuts in the office, which are deadly. I can do better. I’ve done better for months. But I’m not perfect and I have a lifetime of unrestrained eating. I’m the only one who can restrain me and it’s time to get back to work doing it.

New Favorite Lunch

I like to eat a bigger meal at lunch time rather than dinner but don’t want to fix a MEAL, if you know what I mean. I like something hot that I can zap in the microwave and have ready to eat in minutes after I get home. Salads just don’t do it for me, at least not at lunch.

My new favorite lunch doesn’t really have a name, and is actually an old meal that I used to eat often back in my lapband days. I kind of forgot about it but found a can of organic refried black beans (have to be black beans, not regular refried beans) in my pantry and it all came back. Since I had all of the other ingredients in the fridge, I put them together and have been full and satisfied all afternoon.

4 oz. shredded chicken (great way to use leftovers)
1/2 C. refried black beans
1 oz shredded cheese (I use full-fat Mexican cheese blend)
1 tub Wholly Guacamole (because it’s portion controlled)
Salsa

Layer the chicken, refried beans, and cheese in a low, flat microwave-safe container. Cook on high for 2 minutes. Top with guacamole and salsa to taste. Eat. Also tasty eaten with tortilla chips but they’re not at my house because they are too addictive.

Easy peasy and oh, so tasty! Tons of protein, fiber, and flavor. Nutrition values will vary depending on brands used. The only thing I don’t usually have around are refried beans and now that I remember how much I like this, that’s easy to fix.

It’s been a month now

I’ve been Nooming now for one month, and as of today, I’m down 21 lbs. Yup, you read that right. Twenty One pounds in 5 weeks and 4 days.

Thursday I went to the gym on the corner, the one that I pay for every month but never visited (you know how that works), and had a fitness assessment. At my weight and with my physical limits, I knew better than to launch into a full-blown exercise plan without being checked first. I know how to use the cardio equipment and the weights, but the back, sciatica, and foot with neuropathy made it crucial to not be stupid.

They dug up the last assessment I did there, from June 2017. At the time I got on the scale in my socks; this time I stepped on shoes and all. Taking them off is too much work just for a scale. My true reading comes at home; as long as I’m consistent at the gym, it will work. But in any case, I’m down 23 lbs from 2017. My BMI is down 3 points. Percentage of body fat is down. Resting pulse rate is in the “fit” category.

Best of all was the “6 minute walk” test. In 2017, I almost collapsed half way through it. This time I made it all the way through without having respiratory distress. Six minutes may not seem like much, but to someone who mostly sits all day, it’s big.

I now have a 6- week workout plan that is very modest and doable: go the gym 2-3 times/week for 30 minutes, working up to 3-4 times/week. Walk for 10 minutes, do the NuStep for 10 minutes, and the arm bike for 10 minutes (5 forwards, 5 backwards). After that, I’m to check back for adjustments and what to add in. I can do this.

I bought a little clip-on pedometer which is easier to carry around than having the phone in my pocket all the time to track steps. I update Noom on steps at the end of the day. Instead of trying to consolidate steps, I make more trips from one end of the house to another, from one part of the church to another on work days. In fact, I make laps down to Fellowship Hall and back up to the foyer of the church and back again several times during my mornings. So I’m moving more – I was up to 7,500 steps yesterday which was amazing.

Food doesn’t seem particularly hard, though having a box of donuts outside the office door is awfully tempting. But I have grapes and clementines to snack on and have protein, veggies & carbs at every meal. No ice cream, no cookies, no chips, no wine, very little bread. I can have ALL of that if I want to, I just really don’t want them.

I sort of feel like a commercial for Noom when people ask me about it. I’ve hated people telling me about their diets in the past when I wasn’t ready to work on my own eating, so have been reluctant to bring it up on my own. Plus I’ve failed a lot in the past – lost motivation, lost focus, lost energy. But I’m not on a diet. I’m learning to eat like a normal person – because I *am* a normal person, just one that’s too fluffy. But that’s changing.

Off to the gym. Go me!