Tag Archives: Family

Baby Steps Forward

MomandSonAfterRun

Enjoying an after run treat, with one of my favorite running partners, my son! I am thankful I can run with my children and model healthy living for them! My weight loss journey is good for my whole family.

Today I went running for the first time in almost a month.  It was a slowly, short and easy kind of run with one of my favorite running partners, my son.  As we ran along a new path in our new hometown, I felt calm and at peace.  I haven’t felt this way in a long time.  

Moving for the second time in a  year has upset so many aspects of my life right now.  My day-to-day schedule is inconsistent.  Workouts, eating healthy, spending quality time with my family, and my writing time are all out of whack. I thought once we finally moved all our belongings to one place, I would settle into my old healthy habits.  It didn’t happen.  Instead it became:

*Unpacking one day was empowering.  The next  day it was overwhelming.

*Taking a walk was the start of a new exercise routine.  It was not.

*Cooking from scratch one night was great.  It was not a regular activity.

*One writing session was the path back to my blog and novel.  That path was ignored until today.

*Now that the scale is unpacked, I’ll start using it.  It’s still gathering dust in my new bathroom.

If this happened instead of my actual goals, why does one day of running make me believe that I find my way back to my healthy lifestyle?  Because I finally acknowledged that I need to really want to change.  I accept the fact that I need to take baby steps to get back to the place I am healthiest and happiest.

In the first year of my gastric sleeve surgery, the weight flew off.  It took a lot of mental work, but physically I had the help of my small stomach.  I was making leaps with my weight loss.  In the following years I was still making large strides with the addition of regular exercise.  I crave the accolades of running my first half marathon and successfully learning strength training skills.  Tangible results are addicting and I think I’m feeling the crash of not having regular successes that are measured by pounds, inches, and race results.

If I really committed I could be back there.  If I tracked my food or did an elimination diet again, the pounds would drop off.  If I signed up for another half marathon or finally set up a home gym like I promise to do every year I’d be back in better shape.

Oh, I know I can do all this.  I’ve set big goals and succeeded.  What’s holding me back?

THE PRESSURE

The thought of food journaling, following an elimination diet, and a strict exercise routine overwhelms me.  Perhaps it’s because I have so many other responsibilities that I feel like adding a rigid regimen to my life is too much to handle.

Of course part of me thinks I should just wait for three weeks until my kids are in school and follow a more disciplined lifestyle.  When the kids are in school, I’ll have more time to do all those things I could do to lose weight again and tone and strengthen my body.  But for me, promising to start later is an invitation to lapse into bad habits. It could turn into a “ It’s like a last hurrah, the last meal before death row, the last party as single and/or childless woman” kind of time in my life.  I would make these last three weeks a time to eat mindlessly and lounge around.  For me, it’s time wasted and I never feel any better when I give up control of living healthy.

So instead of saying I’ll live better in three weeks, I am going to take baby steps which include:

*Running to clear by mind, not for distance or pace.  My mind and body were clear and revitalized after running with my son today.  I just enjoyed his company and the beauty of one of the many new running places I have in my new hometown.

*I am making protein a priority in all of my meals.  I am still dealing with low iron levels and I can tell when I don’t eat properly as my body and mind don’t function as well as they can.  

*I’m slowly getting back to cooking meals from scratch and this time I’m including my children.  It’s important for me to model good habits and cooking is an easy one to share with them.  I think they’re going to be better cooks than me!

*Making simple adjustments to eating habits like limiting restaurant meals and dropping a tablespoon of creamer from my coffee is actually easy to do.  I don’t feel deprived when I do this.  It’s just as  easy to fall back into good routines as it is into bad ones.

*Writing when it strikes me and letting things go like laundry and unpacking the last remaining boxes.  Now I don’t mean I plan to neglect things like feeding my children or picking my husband after work, but some things can wait, especially when I don’t have a set writing time right now.

It’s been tough to admit I have slipped this year.  It’s embarrassing to admit I am struggling once again.  But I am owning it.  With the help of baby steps, I can get back to the lifestyle that makes me feel best both physically and mentally.  Baby steps will help me back to where I want to be and will enable me to continue my journey Down the Scale…

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A Quick 4 Year Update!

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I’ve changed in more ways than one since my gastric sleeve surgery four years ago! The mental and physical changes still amaze me this day. My journey to a healthy life is always evolving and for that I am ever grateful!

Life is a bit crazy these days with a move in the works.  While we’re only moving 30 miles away, it’s a bit more difficult when  you’re moving to an island!  As soon as we’re settled, I promise I’ll have a more detailed post of my life at Down the Scale.

In the meantime, I wanted to note that it’s been four years since I had my gastric sleeve surgery.  This year as been full of ups and downs, literally and figuratively, but I still believe that surgery was the start of a much better life for me.  I am healthy in more ways that I can measure.  There are always challenges in life, but I feel more prepared to tackle them since I began my journey to what is now a healthy life.

I’ll share more of my four-year journey soon.  Thanks for reading and more importantly, for supporting me through the years.  Yes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to support and encourage those who seek change.  Thank you for being with me as I continue my story, going Down the Scale…

Days Will Come and Go…Down the Scale…

As corny as this may sound, I am thankful to have my ever-supportive hubby by my side as I swing through my weight loss journey! Through the ups and downs, he is always by my side as I navigate my new life since my gastric sleeve surgery.

I think I’ve been pretty honest throughout the past four years of my gastric sleeve blog that I have control issues.  Obviously I do since I’ve had weight issues all my life. Weight gain isn’t necessarily all about control; for me it’s an emotional issue more than anything.  While I am doing better dealing with my emotions, this past weekend I was the poster child for epic meltdowns.  It wasn’t pretty and I’m fortunate that I’ve kept my family and friends who experienced it.  Now that I’m over it, I’m ready to tackle my control issues or rather learn to deal with what I can’t control.

First, let me say, I lead a charmed life.  When I share my “woe is me” and self-pity episodes, I’m pretty embarrassed.  I realize how fortunate I am to have a loving family, supportive friends, and the ability to lead the life I have.   When things go wrong though, I tend to forget all the good things in my life.  I focus on what’s going wrong or what I can’t have or what I can’t control.  Yes, my chest-heaving sobs and dark moods make me a lovely person to be with.

Finally, I pulled myself from this self-pity abyss and began to focus on the good in my life and the positive changes that are happening and will happen.  It seems pretty silly that I love change, but when I’m not in control of some changes, I, for a lack of better words, freak out.  It was when I was singing this verse from one of my favorite Foo Fighters song, “Saint Cecilia,” that I stopped to think how true this is for me:

“I know no matter what I say

Days will come and go

No matter what I say

Nothing’s set in stone

No matter what I say

Days go by”

What I mean by these lyrics is that I tend to think I can change things even when I can’t.  While my head understands there are things out of my control, I still want to control them.  But what I finally started to come to terms with this past week is that yes, “days will come and go, no matter what I say.”  Time is going to pass no matter what, so it’s up to me on how I live.  I can dwell on the negative or appreciate the positive.

No, I’m not saying I’m going to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time.  I don’t think that’s truly possible and I think it would be unbelievably stressful to try to be perky all the time.  But I know I’m happier and healthier when I focus on the positive and not the negative.  I’m a better wife, mother, friend, and human being when I focus on the good in my world.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with my weight loss journey, I’ll tell you that it has everything to do with it.  Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.  My head tells me that I should control my weight if I can’t control other things, but for me it doesn’t work that way.  I let everything go when I feel out of control, especially eating.  Sugar made a comeback this weekend.  The instant gratification of sugar left so quickly and I still had my anger and sadness and now guilt was added to the list of negative feelings I felt.  

Now that I’m done “mourning” what I can’t control, I’m working very hard on remaining positive and thinking about what I can control, or at least, be happy about what is going right.  I’m taking charge of my goals and working toward them.  One of the ways I’m doing this is by communicating what I need from the people in my life.  No one can help you if you don’t tell people what you need.  So far, no one in my life is psychic, so I need to actually say the words and not assume or hope my needs and desires are understood.

I’m running more often and I feel better every time I do it.  My training sessions are very helpful and by adding more running to my week, I feel even more invigorated and happy.  Being exhausted after a workout helps me feel in control and I believe it relieves me of much of my anxiety and stress.

After my sugar binge this weekend, I’m back to eating mindfully and making better choices.  My elimination diet showed me that almonds aren’t good for me.  My doctor told me that people who are sensitive to almonds can experience more anxiety and after eating them twice, I found that to be true for me.  I know that eating healthier foods and avoiding foods like sugar and almonds which make me anxious and guilty, I am more in control of my body and mind.

 
So, here I go on my continuing journey trying to be the healthiest person I can be.  It’s not always pretty, but all in all, it’s a very good life that I have the privilege of leading.  I’m thankful I have the opportunity to make the changes I want to make, but more importantly I am thankful that I’m learning to handle the changes I can’t make.  Days will come and go and I plan to keep them going Down the Scale…

Engaging My Core

How could I not be engaged with these people? The ups and downs of my weight loss journey reminds me to remember what is really important: making your life a priority. For me, spending more time with my family is my top priority!

“Remember to engage your core.”

I hear these words for an hour twice a week now that I workout with my trainer, H.  Dedicating two hours a week to exercising with the guidance of a trainer is helping me improve my physical health, but focusing on my physical core made me think about my core in a mental sense.  What I mean is that for my body to work better, I need to engage my core to support the rest of my body no matter what exercise I’m doing.  It’s also my mental core that needs engaging as well these days.

The past few weeks I felt unfocused, like I was going through the motions of life, but not really feeling it.  I have all these goals in my head, but I wasn’t working toward any of them.  Sure, I’ve been eating better and exercising more, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled.  It wasn’t until my training session last Thursday when H. reminded me to engage my core muscles that it hit me.  I’m not engaged in anything.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve just ignored my family, friends, and my life in general during here last few weeks, but I haven’t felt involved.  Besides the goals of being healthy I have other goals, but I haven’t made them important.  If I don’t make my goals a priority, how will I accomplish them?  Unless there’s a magic wand somewhere that I don’t know about, I need to work toward my goals instead of talking about them.

The first step in the new engagement of my core, i.e. my life,  is to stop talking about them and start doing them.  Here’s how I’m beginning to be more active in my life goals:

*Being confident in my physical self is a must, no matter what happens.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I do feel stronger and more confidant in my athletic abilities, but I took a step, well, a run back, two weeks ago.  I was doing fast laps around the YMCA and my first one went great.  The second set was two laps, but halfway through the second lap I just stopped.  It felt like my body couldn’t go on.  I was winded and my legs cramped.  I was angry with myself.  I finished the training session, but it bothered me the rest of the day.  Normally, I would have let it go and just waited until my next training session to try again.  Instead I went to the gym early the next morning and ran without stopping for a mile and a half like I’ve been doing.    Instead of acting like I was going backwards in my training, I tackled the problem head on.  I was engaged.  I will continue to be engaged in my athletic endeavors no matter if they’re good or bad.

*Making my goals a priority, even if it means saying no.  I’ve put off building a new career for the past year.  Sure, at times, I had to put my goals aside to work on immediate issues like moving to a new state and setting up our new life in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve been here almost six months and we’re pretty settled. Each day I come up with excuses not to make the time to work on my writing with the exception of a blog entry here and there.  No more excuses!  I am now scheduling in time to work on my writing which includes my blog and my fiction writing.  I’m doing this even if I have to say no to meeting a friend or pushing housework aside for another time.  As I type, I’m at a café while my daughter is at a theater class.  This is my dedicated writing time; no running errands or playing Words with Friends.  I am engaged in my writing, which in turns means I’m engaged in my personal and professional goals.

*Spending time with friends and family is essential.  I realize that I’m with my children a lot, but I’m not always “there.”  While I’m not quite sure which games my kids are talking about, I am trying to listen intently.  If it’s important to them, I need to make it important to me.  I’ve realized if I’m not engaged when they’re talking about everyday things, I might miss the important life stories they’ll share.  And with my ever-supportive hubby, I need to be with him in addition to our time as a family.  We’ve made the effort to go out to dinner and breakfast on our own and having this time alone with him is necessary.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in our lives as parents, so to spend time as a couple keeps us engaged in our marriage.  I can’t forget my friends, either!  So many of my friends are far away and while an email, text or Facebook post helps enormously, FaceTime is my new favorite app.  During a “woe is me” moment, I texted my constant cheerleader, N., to see if we could schedule a FaceTime appointment. We video chatted yesterday and it really lifted my spirits.  Seeing her face while talking was just what I needed and I realized much of it was because I was focused just on our conversation.  I wasn’t texting in between loads of laundry or running out the door to an appointment; we were focused on talking only.  When I am focused on the person I’m talking with and not trying to multitask, I am engaged in my life as well as this person’s life.

Now that I’m focused on engaging my core physically, I am going to engage my emotional core.  Sometimes, multi-tasking isn’t helpful.  As a lifelong multitasker, this is going to be a challenge.  Just from the small changes I’ve made over the past few weeks though, I can already feel some of the physical and mental weight being lifted.  There really is something to be said about slowing down and focusing on your goals.  Now that I’m making my core muscles stronger, I am going to make my figurative core, meaning my heart and soul, stronger.  I am engaged as I continue my journey Down the Scale…

Making the time to write is one of my goals and by setting up outside in the occasionally clear day in the PNW, I can write. No excuses, it’s time be engaged.

Standing Strong in the Midst of Uncertain Waters

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Here I am on a floating dock, but standing tall. It’s the perfect metaphor for where I am in my gastric sleeve journey. While I’m not sure where the water is going to move me while I’m on the dock, I’m still standing firm. I am happy that I am confident where I am in life, but I know it’s OK to change direction and seek help no matter what!

 

I looked at this particular photograph the other day and realized it was the perfect metaphor for how I am feeling these days: standing strong in the midst of uncertain waters. For the past few months, I’ve felt out of sorts and I couldn’t quite figure out why. Oh, I could say that say that the move to new state and all the changes that come along with it is the cause for my fatigue and stagnant physical and mental health. Even with trying new exercises, going to bed early and eating better, I just seem to be coasting along on my continuing journey to being the healthiest “me” I can be.

Even though I’m standing tall and living my life happily, something kept nagging at me, that perhaps all wasn’t right. Falling into bed exhausted at 9 PM wasn’t typical for me, a former night owl. I cut out all the sweets from the holidays and still felt hungry and in need of caffeine constantly. I kept trying to improve at my swim class, but I was still tired after each class.

Finally, I decided to do something about my health. While I’m almost four years out from gastric sleeve surgery, I reminded myself that my journey isn’t a straight line. I am always looking to improve and sometimes you need help when the improvements you make on your own aren’t working. There is no shame in admitting you need help, whether it’s with physical or mental health. It was time to look for help.

Since we’ve moved to a new state, I needed a new doctor. I picked a naturopathic doctor. I wanted to get a new perspective on my health and while it might seem contradictory, I want the least about of medical intervention in my life. Going off high blood pressure medicine was one of my favorite successes with my weight loss, so I would like to improve my health as naturally as possible. Trust me, I’ll all for medicine when necessary, but if I can be better through proper eating and exercise, I prefer that method!

My new doctor looked at my June 2016 blood work in shock. She couldn’t believe I was functioning with such low iron levels. I told her my previous doctors didn’t seem too concerned but I could tell she was. And when the new blood work came back in, my fatigue all made sense. My iron is extremely low and might be the cause of other symptoms I have like itchy skin. I’m on iron supplements in hopes it will bring my levels up, otherwise I need to do an IV infusion. Between my supplements and improved diet, I hope to avoid the IV, but I will do what is necessary to for my health.

Besides the regular blood work, we did a food sensitivity test since that could also a reason for my low iron absorption, although gastric sleeve patients can have vitamin and mineral absorption issues as a result of surgery. The look of horror on my face when I read the results must have been Oscar-worthy. It said high sensitivity to wheat, dairy, sugar, and coffee. Yes, I said coffee. Losing wheat and dairy from my diet wasn’t as horrifying as the thought of coffee and sugar.

No, I didn’t run from the doctor’s office. Instead I went to see a nutritionist to work on a month-long elimination diet. I will eliminate the foods that show I have a high sensitivity for a month and then slowly add them back to see how I react. I’m not starting it until after my birthday on March 8th, but I’ll keep you posted. Or perhaps you’ll just hear a crazed woman calling out for coffee and know that it’s me.

OK, yes, I’m nervous about this diet, but with the help of my nutritionist I feel like I can do it for a month. Really, I barely ate anything for the first month after my gastric sleeve surgery, so I know I will survive. Her suggestions of new meals that included bacon are encouraging. Really, as long as I have bacon I’ll be OK. And I have a list of coffee substitutes to try so I might just get through it without sobbing every time I pass Starbucks.

So, I have a plan to improve my nutrition, but what about improving my exercise routine? While the swimming class  I’m doing is challenging and different, my first exercise love is running. It’s the perfect activity for me physically since I can do it indoors or outdoors. Mentally, I love it because I can do it alone with just my music, or I can run with a friend. And while I’ve been running for over four years now, I just can’t improve my time. No, running isn’t all about pace and distance, but I feel like I’m just not going anywhere with it, so to speak.

Every day I am thankful to my ever-supportive husband who knows just when to encourage me out of my comfort zone. While the whole family met with a trainer at our new YMCA, the hubby asked about running trainer for me. Forget candy and flowers, this woman is happier to have a trainer! My first training session was last week and it was encouraging and humbling. We did some tests and exercises to see where I am in my physical fitness. I’ve come along way since my pre-weight loss days! But when I stumbled during the session, it was a good reminder that there is always room for improvement.

And this is the main reason I am working with a trainer: to improve what is already working. I exercise more than I have in my life, but I’d like to be more efficient. I’ve researched fitness online and through books and magazines, but having an expert work with you one on one can’t be beat. You can’t hide in the back of an exercise class when it’s just you and your trainer. This is getting me out of my running comfort zone.

Now, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m unhappy with where I’m in my weight loss journey. I spent too many years thinking that “life would get better once I (insert any goal here)” and I know that’s not true. I am proud and ecstatic with the success I’ve made in becoming a healthier and happier person. What I didn’t know before I began this journey was that there isn’t an ending to it. Sure, I might reach my goal weight, eat healthy every day, and run races, but those are just milestones along the way.

There will be times that I need to adjust what is working and there will be times I need help from professionals. And I will always need help and encouragement of my family and friends. Thank you for supporting me here at Down the Scale while I continue to stand tall in the midst of ever-changing waters of health and happiness.

Keeping Positive…Even in the Rain….and Through the Stress….

Five years and counting! I'm proud that since 2012, even before my gastric sleeve surgery, I've run a Thanksgiving race. Running keeps me going Down the Scale!

Five years and counting! I’m proud that since 2012, even before my gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve run a Thanksgiving race. Running keeps me going Down the Scale!

2016 is the year of change for me in many ways. I shared in my last blog  that we moved from California to Washington last month. I realized that running would keep me centered and help me feel at home in my new surroundings. I was sure that running my annual Turkey Trot race would help. Did it? Well, at times it did, and in times it made me more stressed about our move. Here’s what happened…

First, let me share that since 2012 I’ve run a Thanksgiving day race with my personal cheerleader, N. Not only did she get me to start running, but she has been with me at every Turkey Trot. She is always there at the finish line to snap a photo and congratulate me and go for coffee afterward. This would be the first year without her and I started to miss her from the day I signed up for a race here.

But I did sign up for a race! My two children decided to join me and I was thrilled. While this wouldn’t be the fun race through Golden Gate Park that I usually run, it would be exciting to race in a new place. The kids thought so, too….until the day before.

I never want to force my kids to do anything, so when they said they didn’t want to run, I tried to hold back my disappointment. OK, let me be honest, if I run by myself, I feel the need to push myself on time. I really wanted to make this run about family and not about the pace. Yes, I realize this is a silly notion that I am putting on myself. I’ve never claimed to have a sane mind, have I?

My son rallied the next morning and decided to join me! I was thrilled and quite impressed since it was raining. Oh, I don’t mind a sprinkle, but this was an official Washington downpour. We managed to keep positive and drive to the running store where the race was to begin and end.

My hope for this race was that we would meet some new friends. Well, this didn’t happen although everyone was friendly and chatty throughout the race. Since I was the only person wearing a turkey headband, or for that matter, anything turkey related, it was easy to start a conversation with us. Although we didn’t make new friends, we enjoyed the camaraderie that races have. I find that there’s always a positive energy at races.

We needed this positive energy as we ran the 5K through rain-soaked trails and unfamiliar neighborhoods. It was my son’s energy that kept me going and helped me forget this was a completely new course and that it was freezing cold! I think I learned just about everything there is to know about the current video games he plays, but we also talked about the changes we are facing in this move. While I always try to remain optimistic, I have to admit it’s always tough to move, even when it’s a positive change. I am thankful that Jack and I not only shared the run, but how we feel through this stressful time. He usually doesn’t run with me, but for this race he did and I was most thankful for it.

Running with my son is one of my greatest joys! He keeps me motivated and inspired! And up to date on all the latest video games during our runs.

Running with my son is one of my greatest joys! He keeps me motivated and inspired! And up to date on all the latest video games during our runs.

Well, he ran with me until the last quarter-mile and then he sprinted down the road to the finish. I didn’t mind as I was happy to see his face when I crossed the finish line. I missed my friend, N., but I was appreciative that Jack shared the moment with me. And he shared a trip to Starbucks with me, too, after the race. Coffee after a turkey trot is my tradition and I will keep to it, no matter where I am!

Running my 2016 Turkey Trot Race was tough physically and mentally, but I am thankful that I did it. It was a good reflection of the day-to-day struggles that I face during this stressful transition. More importantly, it was a good reminder that even when life is tough, or in this case cold and rainy, that there are positive things going on as well. Spending a day with my son and completing another 5K race are pretty special and I look forward to doing them again at next year’s Turkey Trot. While I know there are more stressful and difficult times ahead, I will keep looking for the positive as I continue to learn and grow during this transition and as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Cooking and Weight Loss Go Hand in Hand

I love cooking with my kids!  And maybe one day, I'll get them to chop the onions!

I love cooking with my kids! And maybe one day, I’ll get them to chop the onions!

You learn many things when you start a weight loss journey. Of course you learn about exercising and eating right. You learn about taking care of your head and heart as well as your body. One of the more practical things I learned over the past three years is to cook. Yes, I could cook before my gastric sleeve surgery, but I’ve realized that I’m actually a better cook now than I was before I lost weight.

I can definitely attribute some of my adult weight gain to my cooking skills…well, my lack there of cooking skills. I claimed it was easier and cheaper just to get take-out or buy frozen meals since I lived on my own. I lived so close to quick and cheap take-out restaurants so it was convenient as well.

When I moved in with my husband, we weren’t the best at cooking at home either. Occasionally we would be inspired to cook new foods, but most of the time we just made pasta dishes since they were quick and simple. And when we added two children to the family, cooking became another chore, another necessity to keep the kids happy and heathy. Take out food, frozen meals, and once the kids could sit at a restaurant without too much damage, eating out were just the easiest ways to eat.

Now I can’t say that post gastric sleeve surgery meant I was suddenly the next Julia Child. For the first few months, food was a chore and I wasn’t really interested in expanding my cooking skills. And while I did start to cook at home more often, it’s really been the past year that I’ve made more of an effort. When I started to analyze labels and food costs I decided to make a change. I knew by cooking at home I would eat better, my family would eat better, and more importantly, I would set a better example for my children. How can I send them out into the world and expect them to cook on their own if I haven’t shown them?

So what am I cooking these days? Here are a few examples:

  • Crock pot meals are awesome! Really, there’s nothing better than to come home in the afternoon to the smell of a home cooked meal! Now, there is some prep work to making a crock pot meal like browning meat or chopping vegetables. Of course, there are recipes that are just a protein thrown in with a canned soup, but I avoid those since they’re full of sodium and not always the tastiest. Here are a few of my favorite meals:
  • The oven is also your friend! As much as I love my crock pot, I’ve found a number of easy meals to make in the oven. Some of my regulars are:
    • Crispy Chicken Thighs. These are boneless and skinless, but with just a bit of seasoning and olive oil, this recipe reminds me a bit of fried chicken. Not only is it healthier than fried chicken, it’s easier to make. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269512358930672295/
    • Baked Fish. I admit I wasn’t a big fan of fish in the past. Once I realized that fish really is good for you and doesn’t have many calories, I became a convert. I still only like the meaty white fish, but it’s a start. I buy wild caught Mahi Mahi from Trader Joe’s and with just a little olive oil spray, seasonings, and lemon, it makes a great meal in less than 15 minutes.
    • Zucchini lasagna. First, let me say, this takes a bit of prep work. Sure, using pasta noodles instead of zucchini would make it easier, but I think the zucchini actually tastes better than pasta and, of course, it’s fewer calories! I’ve recruited the whole family to help me make this dish and that in itself makes it a fantastic meal! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269512358930794427/
  • Prepared meals are a necessity, too! Listen, we all have days when dinner needs to be quick and easy. Here are a few meals that make my life a little easier some days:
    • Prepared salads are fast, easy and tasty. Trader Joe’s has a wonderful selection of salads, but you really need to read the labels. I always check the calories on each salad. Remember, salad doesn’t always equal healthy. Salad dressings and toppings can be full of fats, sugars, and calories. My current favorite is the Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad. It’s a nice mix of flavors and only 300 calories for the whole package!
    • Pre-seasoned meats. While I mentioned earlier I’m not a big fan of crock pot meals made with canned soups, there are days I don’t have a lot of time to prep a meal. My go-to pre-seasoned meat is Trader Joe’s Cabernet Beef Pot Roast. It’s flavorful and we always have leftovers. Some days, you just need to let someone else do some of the work for you.

Again, I’m not a fancy cook by any means, but I’ve learned a few tricks to make my meals better:

  • Flavored salts go a long way to make food better. Almost every day I use Eatwell Farms flavored salts that I buy at our local farmers’ market. Rosemary salt goes on thinly cut pork chops while heirloom tomato salt is perfect on roasted vegetables. To add more flavor to baked fish, I use the lemon salt.
  • Switch things up! I admit that I get in a rut when it comes to cooking. I tend to do the same meals over and over. While it does make life easier, it also makes dinner boring. I’ve learned to mix things up; not every Tuesday needs to be Taco Tuesday. I also plan to change how we eat our favorite meals like fish. Baked fish is great, but why not make it into fish tacos?
  • Getting the whole family involved in cooking is fun. Of course my kids love to bake cookies every Christmas, but I finally noticed that they enjoy cooking all year round. My kids love to help in the kitchen and I’ve learned that they can do more than I realized. Somehow I always end up being the one to chop onions, but they like to chop other vegetables and brown the meats on the stove. The zucchini lasagna has become a family meal from prep to cooking to eating!

Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy the occasional take-out meal and restaurants. Who doesn’t? And sometimes you have to eat the best and quickest way you can that night. But now that I put effort into meal planning and recruited the best sous chefs, we have better meals. Learning to cook and appreciating healthy and tasty food is one of the best results of my healthier lifestyle. The fact that I am sharing this with my children is even better. I am thankful I can share this positive effect of my weight loss journey as I continue to go Down the Scale…

I love that the whole family takes part in cooking dinner.  Zucchini Lasagna is our current favorite!

I love that the whole family takes part in cooking dinner. Zucchini Lasagna is our current favorite!