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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scales & Pins

We'll start with the scale issue:

Since I've been back on Weight Watchers, I have pretty much been following the program online, and have not been back to the meetings.  I'm still debating whether or not to switch my membership to online-only in order to save some cash.  I hadn't been getting much out of the meetings for a while, since I don't find the current leader very motivating.  In fact, she's downright irritating and condescending.  However, I like the women that do the weighing in, and have thought of going back just to see if the meetings are any better...

The point of my rambling is that I have been weighing myself at home on my ancient scale with the old-school dial.  I want to get a digital one, so that if I've lost (or gained) less than one full pound, I can see the difference.  It appears that I've lost a full pound a week so far, but I'm really estimating based on the dial read-out.  The scale is a bit touchy, too.  My weight will fluctuate depending on the way I'm standing.  That doesn't make me feel very confident about the readout either.

So - any suggestions for accurate digital bathroom scales?  I don't need a lot of bells & whistles.

Now, onto the Pins portion of my post:

It's official.  I've joined Pinterest. what?

I created 2 pinboards to start with.  One will be dedicated to recipes that I want to make, with the other one dedicated to crafty-type stuff.  I figured that it would be a good way to keep track of the recipes I am interested in making without having to bookmark each one.

Aside from having pinned about 5 recipes and 1 craft, I really don't know what else to do with the account.  Does anyone else have an account (of my readers, that is)?  What do you use it for?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday

It looks like all of this cooking for myself business is paying off.  I am down another pound today for a total of 3 pounds gone in a 3 week period.  This is actually pretty incredible for me, since even when I was losing weight on the plan before (or rather, my version of the plan, which was cheating myself), I rarely lost a full pound a week.  So, I am hoping this trend continues.  It is certainly motivating.

Speaking of cooking for myself...I tried out a new recipe in my crock pot yesterday.  Originally, I had been searching for a crock-pot recipe so I could try out my nifty new Slow Cooker Liners.  I made chili last week, and still have 2 servings in the freezer for future use, so I didn't want a chili recipe.  I usually throw together whatever is on hand for a quick chicken or beef stew, but I didn't feel like either of those.  I also ruled out any recipes that require you to sear the meat first in a skillet, because I didn't want to do any prep work (also, I had planned to prepare everything the night before and toss it in the fridge, then set the slow cooker to cook it while I was away at work all day).

I settled on Cuban Style Pork and Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Stew from the Weight Watcher's website.  It was something a little bit different from my usual crockpot fare and I am a sucker for sweet potatoes.  I put together my shopping list and took a trip to the store on the way home from work.  Pork loin at buy one get one free?  Score!  (I do like free.  One package went right into the freezer and is destined for pasta sauce.)  Amazingly, I didn't forget anything from my list...

After combining all of the ingredients in my crock and nestling it all in my fridge, I signed on to my computer and read through some blogs before bedtime.  I saw this post and immediately realized that I forgot to use the liner!!  Naturally...

Wednesday morning I threw the crock into the base and turned it on before work.  There is nothing quite like coming home to my apartment and finding it smelling delicious (not a common occurrence, what with the cat and all), with a nice hot home cooked meal waiting for me.  

How it looked in the crock when I got home, after adding the lime juice and cilantro, but before stirring.

The recipe has very little liquid in it -  Only 1/4 Cup of orange juice and whatever liquid is in the can of diced tomatoes.  I worried that the meat was going to be dry and tough, but I had to add the fresh cilantro and lime juice and cook another 5 minutes before finding out.

What happened after I stirred...

I was afraid that the sweet potatoes would fall apart, based on some of the comments made in the recipe reviews.  They did, as you can see.  I don't know if they were cut too small or if I overcooked them by not setting the crockpot to revert to "warm" after the 7 hours of cooking time.  I was gone at least 8 hours, so they got at least another full hour on the low setting.  Next time, I will try to cut bigger chunks and actually use the "warm" setting (I don't know why I am always reluctant to do that).  

Ready to be devoured.  I am thinking of new plates...I'm getting tired of these.

It wasn't the prettiest meal, but it was certainly tasty.  The pork was not dry at all, but was fork tender and quite delicious.  I ate this with a tortilla on the side to sop up the sauce.  I can see myself making this again.     I was definitely not expecting this much flavor from a WW recipe, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Now, what to do with the rest of that orange juice...?  (I don't care for orange juice, so I know I won't drink it.)                   

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Hate Technology

Alternate Title:  I Do Not <3 Computers
Alternate Title 2:  How Technology Ruined Both My Day and My Appetite
Alternate Title 3:  Rage Against the Machine

Warning - The following post contains a rant.  The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author during the specific time period of 2:00 PM to 3:27 PM Pacific Standard Time and are subject to change at any given moment.  By continuing to read the post that follows, the reader hereby agrees to hold the author harmless against any damages, perceived or actual, be they physical, mental or otherwise. The author also hereby acknowledges that the actual post that follows this warning statement is likely to be far less entertaining or interesting than the information preceding said post.  Reader acknowledges that she/he has chosen to continue reading at his/her own discretion.


I am so frustrated right now, I can't even describe it, but I'll try.  I have been working on this project at work for over a month now, with no set deadlines.  It involves a long and complicated series of Excel Spreadsheets in which I have to create mathematical formulas that make sense.  That's the overly simplified version of my task, but any of you that know me know that math is not my strongest subject.  On the upside, I'm getting pretty good at Excel.  On the downside, I am probably going to be totally blind by 40 if I don't learn to look away from the screen to rest my eyes.

That's not the frustrating part.  This morning I received an email that hardened up my deadline to the end of business on 1/28.  I'm not sure the sender realized that the 28th is Saturday, but I was trying to complete this spreadsheet portion of the project this week anyway, and if I need to work through Saturday from home to complete it, I'm not going to complain about the extra 24 hour window (don't tell my bosses that, though). 

That's not the frustrating part, either.  The frustrating part is that what happened next to completely ruin my day is almost certainly my own fault.  I was making great strides on the project this morning, nesting logical tests in my formulas, tightening up the math to really align with the original methodology...I know, blah, blah, blah technical speak, blah.  Whatever - I was making excellent progress on one of the difficult sections that I had hitherto tried to ignore until necessary.  I was determined to finish up that section before emerging from my cozy little office cave (only cozy because the closed door keeps the warmth inside) to heat up my lunch.  Oh, I was so close!!  Almost 2pm, getting hungry, with the end in sight!  Yes, I do normally wait that long before eating lunch - my work schedule is not the norm. 

All was right as rain when I needed to correct a character in one of the long and complicated formula calculations.  I think the computer froze for a second (taunting me, no doubt), and I reached for the back button.  I thought I hit it, but an error message popped up on my screen.  I closed the annoying grey window (duh, I was trying to fix that error), reach for the back button...hit something...


Okay, there was some rapid window closings before the blue screen hit, with the "Windows is shutting down," message thrown in my face, but still, the effect was the same.

Total despair.  I stare at my keyboard in shock and dismay.  I feel sick. What is that?  Did I hit something by mistake?  Did I save?  Wait...what?  Who?  WHY!?  WHY is the Power key so close to the Back Space key!??  Is this some computer designer giving the finger to every user out there because they think they're better than us?  (Hmm...probably not, but I'm not ruling it out.)  Honestly, I don't know if I hit that Power key or not, since it's quite a reach for my little pinky finger, which makes me wonder.  WTH happened if it wasn't me?

So, the power down may have been my doing, albeit accidental, though I have experienced this type of random shutdown in the past that I know wasn't self-inflicted.  I'm willing to accept possible user error for this...but I don't have to like it.  But that's not even what I'm the most irritated by.  Apparently, in my excel-induced hypnosis, I had neglected to save at each stage of my work this morning.  Knowing the company systems here, I usually save every time something is done right.  Apparently not today.  I know IT can't do anything for me, because they could only retrieve the data from the last save, which is what I already have.

And if it wasn't the Power key, then there is something seriously wrong with this computer.  I really do think this is the case, too.  It does weird things.  I've had my cursor jump to different sections of the page I've been on, without me tabbing or using the mouse.  (No touch pad on my desktop, either, so it wasn't a hovering issue.)  My boss's computer is even worse.  I've told her I think her office is haunted, mostly joking (ghost in the machine, right?).  Maybe it's been taken over by the Judoon and there's an alien in the building (I have some guesses as to who that might be).

Regardless, I thought technology was supposed to make our lives easier!  That is not the case today.  If I'd been doing this project manually, this never would have happened!  (Of course, if I'd been doing this project manually, there are a whole host of other problems that I'd be ranting about, but I digress...)  I was also irrationally angry at the computer.  Well, maybe it was rational.  I really wanted to physically harm this inanimate object - yes, just like in Office Space.  I was having visions of tossing it out the window, but since they don't actually open in this building, and are most likely plexiglass, it only would have bounced back to hurt me.  (I know this computer is intent on causing me harm.)

After confirming that none of my work was saved, I was seriously close to tears.  This was probably not helped by the fact that I hadn't yet eaten.  Close to tears and tensed as if for attack.  I had the old lady pursed up lips and everything.  I had to pop over here to get it out before someone at work tried to speak to me.  That wouldn't have been pretty.

So now I have to attempt to remember and recreate all of my earlier brilliance from the day, which is most likely lost forever.  I'm in a mood, and even though it could have been my fault, I still blame the computer and the poor design of the keyboard (in case that Power key was really depressed).  I mean, really.  Put the freakin' Power key as far away from the keys most commonly used as possible.  Like way over above the number pad or something.  Does anyone really even use that key to shut down the machine?  I never have. 

Phew, that felt rather good.  I have an appetite again.  I am still not happy, but I'm resigned (no - that doesn't mean I quit my job.  I may be feeling rather stupid at the moment, but not that stupid).  I'm still irrationally angry at the computer and resenting the fact that I have to do everything again and wasted an entire half of my work day on unsaved work.  And judging by how this day is going, I will probably end up having to appear for jury duty tomorrow, ensuring that there is no way I can complete my project by my deadline.  (This is a distinct possibility, as I do have a jury summons for tomorrow.)

*As a further example of how technology is apparently out to get me, after I previewed this blog post, the formatting changed completely without me entering any commands.  Technology looks out for itself...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dieting Differently

This go round with my diet, I'm doing a couple of different things.  You know, besides the obvious: trying to actually follow the WW plan.  I'm eating real cheese that melts like it's supposed to and half and half that doesn't have any partially hydrogenated oil in it.  Fat free half and half is an oxymoron anyway, and I have little tolerance for morons.  Instead of relying on foods that are created as "diet-friendly" (many of which have added sugars to compensate for the lack of fat), I'm trying to eat a realistic diet.  If this is supposed to turn into a lifestyle, it needs to be full of foods that I enjoy eating.  And believe me, I find no joy in fat-free cheese.

Don't get me wrong, if it's a naturally fat-free item, I don't have a problem with it.  I'm just trying to eat generally healthier.  I'm not doing away altogether with processed foods either, but I'm trying to choose more carefully.  

Conseqentially, I've been doing a lot of cooking for myself lately, and also a lot of dishes.  (Note to self - contact apartment management to fix the garbage disposal!)  I'm making more frequent trips to the grocery store for fresh produce, and actually eating most of it as opposed to my old habit of forgetting that it exists and finding it in altered states in the bottom of my crisper.*

I've discovered that my preferred cooking method for fresh broccoli is tossing it in some olive oil and roasting it in the oven, which really brings out the flavor.  I've discovered that trying this same cooking method with fresh eggplant doesn't quite work the same, as those little buggers are like sponges and soak that oil up before you can coat it at all and ends up burning to the bottom of your pan.  It still tastes good though.

I'm learning to enjoy oatmeal that doesn't come pre-sweetened and packaged.  I've started eating it as a snack...though I still prefer it with some pure maple syrup (1T = 1PP).  It even keeps me satisfied for a while.

Yes, I realize this simple eating plan of mine is not a very revolutionary idea.   It's definitely do-able, and I think encouraged, on the Weight Watchers plan.

The other thing I'm doing differently than in the past is related to the 49 extra weekly PP that each WW gets.  Previously, I would horde all of these points and give myself a "free" weekend.  That meant I wouldn't track my foods on the weekend and I'd allow myself to basically eat any crap I wanted.  Somehow I was fooling myself into thinking that my splurges were within my points, though they may or may not have been.  Obviously, that wasn't really following the plan, and is most likely the reason that I was not losing weight on the diet.  (Because I wasn't really following it.)

No more.  I am tracking 24/7 now, weekday or weekend.  If I've used my minimum daily PP allowance and am still hungry, I will eat something else using my Weekly PP.  That's what's they are there for.  If I don't use them, I don't worry that they've been "wasted."  Using the plan this way (as intended), I am not left feeling hungry.  What a concept, right?

Now, I hope this all becomes habit and I can keep it up.  I think my mindset is where it needs to be for success right now, I just hope it stays there.

*Clarification:  the veggies are in an altered state, not me, just in case there was any confusion.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Back So Soon?

I have yet again re-dedicated myself to my weight-loss... I know, I know... You hear that a lot from me, don't you? Well, this time I mean it. Okay, fine. So I say that a lot, too. Too bad. This broken record is going to keep on playing until at least 20 pounds have spun off. (That metaphor may have spun away from me.)

In all seriousness, I had originally re-dedicated myself to the Weight Watchers program months ago, with exercise and everything. Then I'm not sure what happened. I got really busy at work with a special project, working late and on some weekends. I believe I used that as an excuse to slack on tracking my food and I stopped my mid-day walks when I was working through lunch. It's amazing how quickly good habits go by the wayside. Especially when I know that in the back of my mind I resent having to actually work to lose or maintain weight. Too bad I love food so much!

Reality hit at Thanksgiving, when there were photos taken. Standing next to my tiny mother (who recently had some very successful weight-loss herself), I looked positively stout. Mom looked great though! But, naturally, all I could focus on was how much bigger I looked than I had in any photos taken earlier in the year. Reality struck again when I visited the doctor about the recurrence of my tendinitis and saw the scale.

The Thanksgiving Pie Bar did not help matters.

I decided to hold off on going gung ho into Weight Watchers until after the Christmas festivities were over. Anyone that knows my family will understand the food-fest that any holiday entails. Plus, my father just moved down the Central Coast, and so close to Solvang, I knew I'd be powerless when faced with those excellent bakeries...and I was right.

Heaven on a plate! Cinnamon in the pastry dough!

After all of the festivities, my two Christmas celebrations (Dad's on Christmas, Mom's on New Year's Day) and New Year's Eve, it was time. Again. Which brings me back to the point of this rambling post. I'm back on the "journey" (as so many WW members call it) as of about 3 weeks ago. Tracking, healthier choices, cooking for myself instead of picking up fast food or take out, and relying on fewer convenience foods. Of course, I'll admit that I have not really incorporated exercise into my plan yet, but it will happen. I'm down 2 pounds already, and hope to see continued success.

Expect more frequent blog posts from now on, since I'm afraid my Facebook friends will get tired of me posting all of my food photos there and hearing about my weight loss issues repeatedly. Besides, if I keep my hands busy, I can't use them to stuff food into my face. Alas, this blasted tendinitis has severely curtailed my crafting, which was previously a satisfying non-food activity!