Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Nooming in Isolation

One of the things I’m grateful for while under COVID Stay Home orders is that I’m on Noom and have enough time under my belt for it to have become a way of life before isolation started. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, and I know it’s far easier for me than for someone with others to cook for, or who are medical professionals now working insane schedules under intense pressure.

I asked my Goal Specialist to reset me to Week 1 when I realized I was blowing off DOING article work instead of just reading. I also wished that I’d known to start taking notes and journaling at the beginning of Noom and not two months in. I now have a beautiful journal at my side, with pen attached, and take notes as I work through the articles. Blogging is also a form of journaling but I’m making notes to myself in writing as I go.

The world has changed since January and COVID-related articles are included now. The basic ones are the same, but others talk about how to maintain mental health, making yourself a priority, and readjusting goals under changed circumstances. Sometimes working on behaviors and habits are more important than getting in a big workout (not that I ever did a big workout, but other people did).

Reading articles, planning meals, and logging my food provide a structure that continues what I was doing back when things were normal. They’re not things I’ve imposed on myself because of isolation, but they do help me in an otherwise fluid time. When our office was closed and I was working from home, I got work done but during different hours than in a pre-COVID work day, and I found myself getting all snacky and reaching for things that by themselves are not a problem but are when eaten in a fog.

My goals for last week and this week are to eliminate the snacking except as planned out, and go back to what worked in my Noom early days: sitting in early morning with a bottle of water and logging what I expect to eat at all my meals and snacks BEFORE I actually eat them. That gives me huge structure and a calm. I can plan for a Healthy Choice Fudge bar or a slider basket delivered from the club when I want to work in something special. When I follow this pattern, I feel in control and I lose. Win-win!

Every two weeks I make a huge batch of chunky applesauce in the crockpot to eat as a snack or mix with yogurt or oatmeal. I bought 5 lbs of 90% fat free ground beef at Sam’s on Friday when I went to pick up prescriptions, and will be making meat sauce today (love my crockpot!), as well as two batches of taco meat for the freezer and a package of browned meat with onions for some future recipe. I also have a rotisserie chicken to pull apart with meat for salads; some of that will go to the freezer, too, joining lots of meat, veggies, and fruit.

One thing I’m having trouble with is getting in my steps. While I’m not a gym rat, I really was enjoying being more active, and I miss at least getting in all my steps. Usually at work I’d make laps around the sanctuary a few times in a morning which helped, and would go to a big box store to go up and down the aisles even if I didn’t need to buy anything. I do better holding on to a cart or a treadmill than just walking on the streets of Emerald Bay, but I’m still getting 5K+ steps most days, even with flaring sciatica. Go me. I’ll be glad to have the gym again when it’s safe to go.

I know myself and know how I’ve reacted in the past to enforced stay home time for blizzards and surgical recovery. Usually I’d be eating all day long, feeling bloated and lethargic, and disappointed with myself. This much longer COVID time is different. I’m eating healthy, tracking my food, building in movement and meditation, and providing structure without making myself crazy.

Noom works for me, with daily readings and accountability steps. And as of this morning, I’ve lost 41 lbs since January, 8 lbs since COVID became something to factor. I’ve got this.


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Cooking Again! Okay, Just a Little Bit

I made mini crustless quiches yesterday, a recipe from my WLS blog friend Eggface.  She has about 50 variations of these little bites, as she calls them, but Sunday I made the Breakfast Bites. Each one has 45 calories and 3g of protein, and 3-4 make a serving, depending on what you’re having with them.  They’re full of eggs, swiss cheese, chopped ham, onions and ‘shrooms, baked in a mini muffin tin. It’s nice to have variety for meals and I’ve been getting sick of 2 oz of cottage cheese or yogurt for breakfast.

She also has dozens and dozens of recipes for all kinds of foods that are WLS-safe but equally appealing to non-ops.  (The bites, for example, would be wonderful appetizers for a party.)  Next on my list to try is protein ice cream.    Or maybe the pizza bites. We’ll see.

I also made pudding yogurt, this time with a protein boost. I mixed a tub of plain non-fat yogurt with a box of instant sugar free vanilla pudding, one scoop of vanilla protein, and 4 TB of SF Torani gingerbread syrup.  I’ve made this stuff for years with just yogurt and pudding, but adding the protein powder kicks up the nutrition value without changing the taste.  The Torani syrup takes care of that, in a good way.  I went a little crazy ordering SF Torani flavors that I couldn’t find locally and am eager to try out.

I went out and about late morning to shop for a few things before the cold rain started – toys for the Toys for Tots drive at work, warm gloves & scarf for the Cold Weather Clothing drive, also at work, and some whey protein to give my nephew for Christmas.  It’s not the biggest size tub but I’m pretty sure he’ll appreciate it and at least it does fill up the “under the tree” space.

Most of my shopping is done, though I plan to pick up some things at the Union Square Christmas Fair in New York City this week on a day off.  Holding my breath that the weather behaves coz I don’t really want to mill around NYC in snow, rain or sleet.  Yes, I’m a wieather wimp.


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Where do You Get Recipes?

Chef with head in cookbookWhen I was a kid, my mom cooked from her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, her collection of recipes  cut from women’s magazines such as Redbook, and her faithful wooden recipe box with recipes from friends and family.  But we mostly ate the same things, at least I don’t remember many complicated options.  Lots of plain meat, potatoes and veggies and the usual casseroles made with cream of chicken soup.

Now adays there are cookbooks out the whazoo for every narrow little sliver of cuisine.  My own collection includes almost all of the Weight Watchers cookbooks published in the last 4 years – although I confess I’ve only actually made a few of them, making them definitely not cost-effective purposes.  I have my own Better Homes & Gardens book and a variety of healthy food cooking options – not that I cook from most of them, either.  I like the pictures, though.

Mostly I get recipes from blogs and reading about things friends made, or by going to Epicurious, Recipezaar, and now Spark Recipes.  I like being able to plop in some ingredients I may have on hand and see what comes up – and I like being able to see the nutrition info at the same time.  Tho I try to look there last, because if I don’t like the ingredients or difficulty level enough, what difference would the nutrition make?

My favorite recipe of the last few months, the famous Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake,  came from the Food Network website.  I do look at recipes there when I watch my favorite FN stars show me how easily I can whip up a 4 course meal in just 3o minutes, show after show after show, but it’s not my usual go-to spot to find something to make.

Where do you go?


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When Was the Last Time You Cooked with Butter?

Butter sizzlingOne thing that comes with what seems like a lifetime of dieting and calorie counting is that butter is something that only comes in little pats out in restaurants, not in your own kitchen.  Sometimes my mom would buy a box of butter to bake butter cookies at Christmas time – c’mon, “margarine cookies” just aren’t the same.  But that was it.  Everything else was low fat, lower calories, shaving off food values and often flavor in a quest to save fat grams and calories.

Julia Child did not cook that way.  Julia lived with gusto, enjoyed her food, and taught America about French cooking, not sparing the butter or the wine along the way.  Food was complicated but rich and flavorful.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking was a breakthrough for American cooks at a time when casseroles made with cans of mushroom soup were haute cuisine.

My introduction to Julia Child was Dan Akroyd’s impersonation of her in a Saturday Night Life sketch and I never watched food chefs until the last few years, when I’ve become addicted to the Food Network.  But there would have been no Food Network without Julia Child.

So I was delighted to finally get and devour Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, by Julie Powell.  It’s about the Julie/Julia project, in which a NYC secretary takes on a self-imposed project of cooking the 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days, and blogs about it as she goes.  It’s not a cookbook but you do read about the success and failure (but mostly success) of her stretching herself to learn new things, eat new food, expand her horizons, and grow.  Julie & Julia is a story of accomplishment, relationships, life in NYC, coming of age – and yeah, that food.

I can no more imagine going through the pounds of butter that Julie used in recreating these recipes than I can imagine walking to Houston.  But I loved the richness and discovery that came with using that butter in faithful adherence to Julia, in honoring her food.  I can’t wait to see the movie based on the book that’s due out in August 2009 – with Meryl Streep as Julia Child.

Julie Powell says at the end of the book something that will stick with me:

Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world.  It’s not what I thought it was.  I thought it was all about — I don’t know, confidence or will or luck.  Those are all some good things to have, no question.  But there’s something else, something that these things grow out of.

It’s joy.

Read this book.  See the movie with me next summer.  Use some butter in a recipe now and then.  Stretch yourself to learn and grow and try new things.  And find your joy.


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Overdoing Cooking

Vegetable PeopleI got a bee in my bonnet this weekend to cook.  I haven’t really done this in a while, not like this.  And I have to admit that while it’s good for stocking the fridge with healthy stuff, it wasn’t the smartest thing for my shoulder, even though I tried to pace myself.  My knees aren’t too happy with extensive kitchen standing, either,  so pacing worked all the way around.

We were supposed to get a huge snowstorm on Saturday into Sunday, so the house was stocked with groceries delivered by Peapod (thank heavens for them – lots of wear and tear saved on the shoulder there by having food delivered right to the kitchen).   I had no plans other than trying to figure out how to get my car shoveled out after the snow.

On Saturday I chopped and roasted a big pile of green peppers and sweet onions, lightly tossing in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings.  They’re great for adding to almost everything – in soup, mixed with couscous, added to salads, as a side to scrambled eggs.  I also made a batch of sweet and sour red cabbage, using shredded cabbage, red onion, apples, vinegar and sugar.  I totally adore this dish, which we actually eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I like it better cold the next day when the flavors have melded more.

A friend stopped by just before the snow to bring me starter for Amish Friendship Bread, so I made that, too.  Don’t ask me why I thought this was a good idea, but it wasn’t hard and I put one loaf in the freezer and will slice the second to have with breakfast this week.   I have a few batches of starter doing their thing in baggies on the counter, just part of the general clutter.

Today’s big project (which isn’t that big, really) was roasting a chicken in the crockpot.  It’s incredibly easy, uses minimal ingredients, yields a ton of clean protein to eat in sandwiches or for dinner.  I especially like chopped chicken mixed with roasted veggies and couscous.  The drawback is that it makes a big mess, since the chicken basically falls off the bone.  It’s worth it, though. I also made a new recipe with sweet potatoes, crushed pineapple, and some brown sugar.  It’s yummy and I suspect I’ll make it again.

In the middle of all this, I went outside to check out the snow situation.  We didn’t get nearly as much as anticipated, which means we won’t believe the weather people the next time they predict a big storm.  It also meant I didn’t have to worry about much snow removal.  My car is in a carport so it doesn’t actually have to be shoveled out, but the plow does sometimes leave a pile behind it that can be a problem if left unattended.

So, um, I went out with a shovel and, using my LEFT ARM ONLY, pushed it out of the way.  Even that I could feel on the right side, and trust me, I’m not going to do it again soon.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have big storms on the horizon – not that I’ll believe the weather people anyway.

For now, I have clean clothes, a well stocked fridge, a content kitty, and a bag of frozen peas on my right shoulder.  I’m optimistic that it will be a good week, which will be improved considerably if our online system comes back online.  We lost almost 3 days last week, plus work done on Tuesday was lost completely when the system crashed before nightly backup.  Nothing we can do about it.  At least I have a tidy office!