A Guilty Appetite

Confession time.

I get a lot of comments on what I eat. This is something that drives me absolutely insane. It’s my body–shouldn’t I get to decide what I put in it? Is that really anyone else’s business?

I would define myself as a health-conscious eater. I count calories (using an online food journal that I HIGHLY recommend), I focus on proteins, I get my five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. But this doesn’t mean I don’t have my splurges. I love a bag of peanut M&Ms during a movie, sharing a bottle of wine with my husband, or going out for fro-yo. I’m comfortable in my eating habits; they match my lifestyle, and I feel good about myself. However, it’s always clear to me that other people are not comfortable with my food choices.

All too often, I’ll get:

  • “Well, what can you eat?” when I’m staying at somebody’s house. (I can eat anything, by the way, so just cook what you want to cook and I’ll choose what and how much I put in my mouth.)
  • “Don’t you like _____?” (Yes, I probably love whatever calorie-dense food you’re referring to, however, I know that I’m going out for fro-yo later and would rather save my calories.)
  • “Look at you with another salad.” (Yep. Look at me. Eating a salad.)

But the very worst is:

  • “Oh my gosh, you’re going to eat that? I’ve never seen you eat anything like that!” (Generally when I’m giving in to a cookie offered at a meeting or the Funfetti cake served at a friend’s birthday party.)

I know that I should just brush it off and not care what people think. But, in my opinion, it’s just plain rude to comment on somebody else’s food! Do I ever look at the person eating a pre-packaged meal and give them a lecture on the high fat and sodium content? No. Do I point out that you just can’t keep your hands off the sweets and treats offered  your direction? Absolutely not. You know what not? Because that’s rude. I’m not going to judge you for drinking a sugared soda while eating a Hershey’s bar, so I’d appreciate it if you keep your comments to yourself when I pull out my carrots and hummus at a staff meeting.

But you know what makes me the most upset about other people’s comments? It’s the fact that, even subconsciously, they’re always there in the back of my mind. (And this is where, I’ll admit, my health-consciousness may be a little unhealthy when mixed with my OCD-tendencies.) Those cutting comments creep back into my mind whenever I decide to give myself a splurge or a treat. Today, for instance, when I sat on our balcony for the afternoon, reading my book, and enjoying a small bag of plain M&Ms… Well, the entire time, I couldn’t stop mentally calculating the calories I’d eaten over the weekend and worrying that my little splurge was putting me over the edge. I kept hearing the voices of these few people in the back of my head: “You’re going to eat that?” Sure, I’m on-track and motivated and committed to a healthy lifestyle, and that’s all well-and-good; but sometimes I just want to enjoy some gosh-darn M&Ms.

The Fourth Summer of the Traveling Fro-Yo

Although it was only last summer that an insurmountable number of self-serve frozen yogurt chains began popping up throughout the KC metro area, B and I have been following the trend since the summer of 2008. Yes, this is one of those times when dropping the line “We have family in LA” is again relevant.

Three summers ago, I was un-officially instated as a member of B’s family with a trip to visit his dad’s family in California. And, while the traffic and the cost of living will keep us from ever moving there ourselves, we did find one reason to seriously consider it as an option: Yogurtland.

We stumbled across the eatery one evening at a mall near B’s grandparents’ house in Downey, CA. Filling our cups to the brim with 5+ flavors of yogurt and 7+toppings each, our grand total came to about $52,000. But even spoonful of melt-in-your-mouth, run-down-your-chin, yogurty goodness was worth it. The experience may have been enhanced by the fact that it was the first 15 minutes we’d spent alone in the past 10 days; vacays with the fam can be taxing (especially when you’re meeting 15 new family members each day!), and sliding into 16 oz. of frozen dessert was the perfect way to drown my worries.

Immediately upon returning to the Midwest, we googled the nearest Yogurtland, and were acutely disappointed to discover that the one we’d visited was just about it. Those people in CA really are ahead of the game…

Well, as you know, we are no longer living yogurt-less. B and I were beyond thrilled when an Orange Leaf went in close to my parents’ house in the KC area. Then, self-serve delicacies were rapidly appearing at every corner–almost literally. (I just used my Google Places app and found 12 with-in a five mile radius of our apartment.) After once consuming fro-yo four subsequent nights, B and I were forced to instate a once-a-week rule.

And, although it’s not exactly a guilt-free dessert, the low-fat and fat-free fro-yo is a healthier choice than ice cream. A four-oz. scoop of Baskin-Robbins chocolate ice cream weighs in at 260 calories and 14 grams of fat. A “Like It” chocolate ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery contains 320 calories and 20 grams of fat (must be why it’s so good!). Even their “Sinless Sans Fat Sweet Cream” racks up 170 calories (okay, that’s really not bad–and it’s so delicious!). But Orange Leaf markets this creamy goodness that clocks in at only 152 calories for a four-oz. serving of chocolate, with only 4 grams of fat. Whoa! Of course, my favorite toppings (chocolate-covered raisins and cookie dough bites) add a couple hundred on top of that.

(By the way, Orange Leaf has changed their website, and now, to see their nutrition information, you have to download their app. I’m a huge fan of fro-yo–clearly–but an app for dessert?? Well, I’m their newest subscriber, so we’ll see what they have to offer…)

Even more than the figure-friendly (thanks for the phrase, Rachael Ray) nutrition info, what I love about visiting these dessert establishments is the atmosphere. Have you ever noticed the smiles, the friendly greetings, and the over-all climate of a frozen yogurt store? I think it’s chemically impossible to be in a sour mood while enjoying this creamy treat.

No matter your taste in dessert, there’s something for everyone. Are you in the mood for sweet or fruity? Candy or granola? Everyone has their own technique for filling their bucket. Swirled or side-by-side? Evenly distributed toppings, or carefully separated atop each individual flavor?

B and I use frozen yogurt for all sorts of situations: date nights, celebrations, mood-boosters. And, every time, it brings me back to that first night in CA–a time when we were traveling together for the first time, meeting each other’s families, and just falling in love. Every time I remember again how that felt, and how lucky I am that three summers later, we’re still enjoying that creamy delicacy together.

Dinner for Six

Last night I hosted my first dinner party. (Not inclusive of the few times I made spaghetti for friends in college.) This was a true-to-form, used-real-plates, cooked-four-dishes, honest-to-goodness dinner party.

Fun fact about Katie: I began my college career as a journalism major, writing “full-time” for the campus newspaper. (I use quotes, because full time here implies writing two stories per week for minimum wage.) So, in honor of this tidbit of my personal history, let’s cover the ins-and-outs of this event.

THE WHO: My mom, my dad, my cousin, my husband, an ex-baby-sitting charge, and me.

)

Dinner Party Guests

THE WHAT: Asparagus & Tomato Salad (from Taste of Home Diet Cookbook), Fiber-ific Chicken Tenders (by Hungry Girl), Roasted Red Potatoes (by my hubby–you’ll have to ask him for that recipe), and Apple Crisp (recipe found below) with Edy’s Slow Churn Vanilla Ice Cream. After-dinner entertainment was a rousing game of Apples to Apples.

This salad is quickly becoming a staple in our household.

THE WHEN: Approx. 5:58pm – 8:57pm

THE WHERE: Our apartment

THE WHY: That’s a complicated story. But, basically, my wedding was a fabulous place for match-making.

THE HOW: We spent the later-afternoon cooking together.

"You're messing up my crumbs!"

"Are you sure we need this many apples?"

DE-BRIEFING: All in all, the dinner party was determined a success. Delicious (and healthy!) food was eaten, fun (and fascinating!) games were played. Oh, and we scored three bottles of wine. Sweet!

My Mom’s Magnificent Apple Crisp

lots of apples

1 stick margarine or 1/2 C margarine (this is the healthiest part)

1/2 C + 1/4 C Splenda (divided)

3/4 C flour

cinnamon

Core all the apples, and slice ’em up into small slices. Put sliced apples in a 9 in. x 9 in. pan or maybe a pie pan. Either one will work. These apples should be mounded up over the top. Apples really cook down. Sprinkle 1/4 C Splenda and some cinnamon on top.

For the topping, combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor. It should create a crumbly topping. Or, if it’s not crumbly (like mine was), crumble it with your fingers as you top the apples.

Bake at 450 for ten minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top starts to look browned. I like to leave it a little gooey still.

Snack Attack!

It’s 8:45pm and I just had strawberry yogurt with a few chocolate chips stirred in. (Okay, a few more than a few.)

It’s not a terrible snack choice. But after three fun-sized candy bars throughout the day (leftovers from our bridal shower over the weekend), I probably didn’t need the extra chocolate.

Somehow, though, I just couldn’t resist. It’s a habit I’ve created over the past 23 years. It doesn’t matter that I had a very filling, very nutritious dinner at 7:00. It doesn’t matter that I’ll be getting up to have a protein-packed breakfast in less than nine hours. The before-bed snack is one habit I just can’t seem to break.

I do so well throughout the day–an hour long workout, pre-planned meals and snacks, loaded with fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains. But when B and I settle in for the evening with an episode of Dexter on Netflix, all I can think about is my evening snack. And just the yogurt wouldn’t do–the chocolate chips are a must.

Katie, you’re not even hungry, I tell myself. That backfires, though, as I spend the next thirty to forty minutes convincing myself that I am, in fact, hungry. However, as my spoon scrapes the empty plastic of another defeated yogurt container, I think to myself, Dang it.

Do you have a vice? A habit you just can’t seem to break? Any suggestions for how to calm the urge?

Two Cooks in the Kitchen

One thing B and I love to do is try a new recipe. When I was living in Kirksville and he’d drive up to visit for a weekend, we’d almost always try a new recipe. That’s how we discovered one of our all time faves–a de-calorified version of Chicken Pot Pie from Hungry Girl (P.S. If you try this one, I use canned chicken to make it even easier). Hungry Girl is an old standby recipe source, but recently we’ve been turning to the Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet cookbook. My best friend gave it to me for Christmas, swearing that I’d love it, and she’s right. So far, we’ve tried seven or eight of the recipes and they’ve all been a huge hit. The new Family Classics Collection is definitely on my wish list, as well.

We’ve had less opportunities to cook for ourselves recently, as I’m living with my parents (and if my mom’s going to cook, we might as well eat her food!), and B stocks his fridge like any 26-year-old bachelor (the last time I opened his fridge he had beer, bagels, and barbecue sauce). But last Sunday night, my parents were eating with friends, and the weather was 75-degrees, so we treated ourselves to a new recipe enjoyed on the screened-in porch.


The meal was Roasted Vegetable Linguine with Torn Fresh Basil from Vegetarian Times magazine (no, neither of us are vegetarians, but we love lots of veggies, so I scope their website for recipes!). It calls for white wine, and since Rachel Ray says she would never cook with a wine she wouldn’t drink, we enjoyed opening a bottle and sipping a glass while we roasted the veggies.





One thing that I’ve come to learn about myself is that I definitely have some difficulty surrendering control. But, B has convinced me that he is capable of helping me in the kitchen. And, although I like to give him a hard time about how long it takes him to do simple cooking tasks, I not only have learned to appreciate the help, but I really enjoy the time we spend cooking together. Plus, it meshes with my resolution of being GWTFEG.

See? I let him cut vegetables.

And what a fine job he did! Don’t you just love the look of fresh vegetables? All those bright colors. What a great summery dish 🙂

 I loved our Sunday night dinner. And it was the perfect way to spend an evening together before B’s business trip.




Sticking with the Plan

“Unfortunately, everything the experts tell us about diet is aimed at the whole population, and we are not all the same.”
~ The Scientist magazine
 

I thought I’d give you a quick update on my new fitness plan. Since my original blog post, I’ve met with my trainer twice more, and attended two more small group training sessions. Although I can definitely see an impact on my bank account, I’ve decided that trading two random clothing purchases for two personal training sessions is probably a pretty good swap–and definitely a healthier one.


I always thought that if I hired a personal trainer just once, then I could use the workout they created, well… forever. But, besides getting just plain bored, I would now insist that variation and progression is the key. Every time I do a workout, I try to tweak one thing–at least one thing–to make it a little more difficult. Maybe squeak out an extra push-up on every set, or increase the weight on a machine by five pounds. Or maybe I do an extra minute or five of cardio. This is all well and good, but it gets to a point where you’re cranking out 5,000 reps of each exercise and running for 3 hours. And, personally, I like to change it up before getting to that point. That’s exactly why I’m continuing to work with my trainer. Every two weeks, I get a brand new workout to try–and, again, one created for me, with my goals (wedding arms and Hawaii abs) in mind.

I’ve also tracked my food in my own food journal fairly regularly. If you’re not a fan of calorie counting and tedious number crunching, I challenge you to just keep a food journal. It can be as simple as jotting down what you eat each day on a Post-It note. Or, you could keep it in a Word document. Or, heck, create a private blog and record your feasting. Somehow, just writing it down holds me enough accountable that when I spy a plate of Oreos in the teachers’ lounge, I can pass it up.


Another thing that’s helped me a lot is to set a goal each week (P.S., I don’t think you should ever make your goal weight loss related, i.e. “Lose 2 pounds.” Our bodies do crazy things when it comes to weight. You don’t want a little water weight or salt retention to kill your motivation. Your goal should be something you control, not a little electronic box). Two weeks ago, my goal was to plan ahead. I actually went through my food journal and wrote in my “splurges” for the week ahead of time. Then, I could keep in mind when a certain event, occasion, or trip to Orange Leaf was coming up, and it would help me keep focus. Last week, my goal was to get my eight servings of fruits and veggies in each day. Alongside my journaling, I just numbered each serving to keep track. Plain and simple.


This week, my goal is back to plan ahead. That’s one I have trouble with. I’m always happy to splurge, so if I work them out ahead of time, I have an easier time turning down other tempting goodies.


So far, I’m loving this easy-going plan. The scale is showing good news (I’ve lost about four pounds since the beginning of the year) and I’ve shrunk by a few inches (about 1.5 from my waist and hips at last measurement).


I’m not going to lie to you. I do have weight goal in mind for the wedding day. But, even more so, I want to feel like I’m at my best. So, if I’m not quite down to my secret number, I know that by continuing to be health-conscious and do what I know is right for my body, I’ll feel strong, sexy, and confident as we start our married life.