A Little Less Of Me

My quest to become thinner and healthier

I Seriously DRANK That Crap?? 27 September 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food — lennonzgal @ 00:04

There’s something that diet soda drinkers do that I like to call the Aspartame Wretch.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, have a sip of diet soda.  I’ll wait …. THERE!  That was it.  Did you notice that as the soda hit the back of your mouth, you sort of jerked your head forward as if to force your body to swallow it?  That, my friends, is the Aspartame Wretch.  Don’t deny it, we all do it.

Today, we ran errands at the mall.  By the time we were leaving, I realized that I was quite thirsty and wanted something to drink.  So, I stopped and bought myself a bottle of water and I grabbed a diet soda for Will.  I thought to myself, “One sip won’t kill me,” and so I had a sip.  Dear God, diet soda is disgusting.  In addition to doing an exaggerated version of said Wretch, I swear I had to will my body to keep it down.  I was truly disgusted by the stuff.  I guess that answers the question of whether or not I’ll just go back and start drinking it again sometime … probably not.


I Brought My Lunch Today 17 September 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food — lennonzgal @ 10:55

One of the things that Bobby asked me to work on was bringing less processed food  to work, and also buying less food from our caf.  He told me he’d like to see me start bringing my lunch (something I made), and that he wanted to see me note it at least twice in the two weeks between our chats.  So, I thought that the first time I did it, I should make sure he’d notice it … BOBBY, I BROUGHT MY LUNCH!

Bobby’s eventual goal for me is to bring my lunch daily, not just once a week.  That’s going to be a challenge for me.  To start, I really love having a sandwich at lunchtime.  It’s probably not the most filling meal, but I enjoy it.  Secondly, there are only so many things I’ll eat at lunchtime.  I love salads (which are what I buy from our caf), but I don’t enjoy homemade ones … I think that cutting the veggies and all that early makes them far less crispy.  I really like the ones in our caf, and will probably have a hard time moving away from that.  There are also many nights where we don’t have leftovers (in the case of veggie burgers), or when I’m eating the dinner because the rest of my family likes it (anytime we eat beef) … in those cases, I’m not going to have lunch to bring. 

Bobby’s suggestion was  to pre-make lunches … his suggestion for me was boiling chicken and placing it on a wrap with avocado and some other veggies.  Sorry Bobby, this probably isn’t going to happen in my lifetime.  Boiled chicken has got to be one of the most boring things on the planet, and I can’t even begin to describe my distaste for avocado.

I’m considering marinating a bunch of chicken and cooking it, and then bringing it on a wrap with a little cheese, a lot of lettuce, and a smear of ranch dressing, but that’s probably not the route he was trying to take me.  In any case, I thought I’d give it a try … Will loves those Shortcuts, but they’re loaded with sodium.  At the very least, I can probably grill our own and package them in single servings in the freezer for when we’re ready for them.  It might not be any healthier than the lunchmeat I’ve been bringing, but at least its fresher and less sodium-laden, right?


Satan is Spelled S-O-D-A 14 September 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food — lennonzgal @ 11:12

I have found that there are two basic schools of thought here with dieters:

  1. Soda is a godsend, here to quench our thirsts and be our one and only diet beverage.  These people drink soda constantly … they assume that since there are no calories, it must count the same as water, and so water never actually enters their bodies. 
  2. Soda is a horrible thing, filled with poisons that do all sorts of nasty things to our bodies.  My father-in-law, for instance, truly believes that his poor eyesight is a result of having had diet sodas back in the 80’s.  These people wouldn’t touch soda with a 10-foot pole and generally feel the need to let you know how horrible it is while you’re drinking it.

I fall somewhere in between.  I realize that soda is in fact not nutritious at all, but I like the bubbles and the flavor and the lack of calories.  Bobby seems to fall more towards the second camp, though he didn’t lecture me on the evils that are soda and how the government is using aspartame to control us all, so I’ll say that he’s not so much against it as he is not for it (and yes, before you ask, I DO know someone who honestly believes that).  I’m well aware that aspartame is probably not great, and that soda is, in fact, NOT water.   I drink 3 litres of water per day on  top of my three sodas … until now.

One of Bobby’s requests for these next two weeks was to cut out soda completely.  He feels that my body in particular might be sensitive to aspartame, which might be at least part of the cause of such ridiculously slow weight loss.  I’m okay with that theory and I’m willing to test it out.

That said, I need something with flavor to drink at meals.  In between meals, I have no problem slugging back the clear stuff, but I do enjoy something with a little kick at mealtime.  Problem is, I *do not* drink calories.  It’s a rare occasion that I’ll even drink an alcoholic beverage (and when I do, good luck to you, because I can’t hold it to save my life), becuase I hate the thought of consuming calories without getting that satiated feeling.  So, poor Bobby started making suggestions of calorie-free options that I could have.  Coffee?  Hate it.  Tea?  Makes me sick to my stomach. 

He finally suggested Vitamin Water.  So, I headed to the store to grab a few flavors to try.  While I’ll give them props for having a pink website, I’ve never been too enamored with their beverages.  I drink them sometimes when I run and don’t need the full power of Gatorade, and I’m usually disappointed.  I’ve tried Power-C (dragonfruit), Defense (raspberry-apple), Focus (kiwi-strawberry), and probably a few others.  All of those are 75-calories per bottle, so I had trouble bringing myself to pick any of them up this weekend.  Even though Bobby wants me to stretch a single 20 oz. bottle for a whole day, I still couldn’t bring myself to drink 75 extra calories per day … that’s enough to add a piece of fruit, or a bite of chocolate. 

So, I grabbed a few of their 10 calorie options.  None of them are flavored with aspartame, they’re all “natural” sweeteners (read: stevia).  I’m wary, but open.  My favorite beverages are diet pepsi and k0ol-aid … things that are disgustingly sweet.  Stevia products tend to have a bitterness to them. 

Today is my first soda-free day for the next two weeks (I may give myself a reprieve this weekend, being that its my 30th birthday and there will be two parties in my honor going on), and I’m drinking VitaminWater10 … the XXX flavor (acai-blueberry-pomegranite).  I’m not overly impressed, but I can choke it back for the day. 

I’m definitely interested in seeing if a soda-free diet really kick-starts me.  I lost 80 pounds drinking almost nothing but diet soda (I fell into that first camp years ago), so I don’t know if I put too much faith in the “body reacts poorly to aspartame” theory, but I know that I DO react poorly to sodium (another topic for another day), so I won’t say its impossible.

So, game on, Bobby … here we go!


Asparagus and Mushroom Rigatoni 1 August 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food — lennonzgal @ 21:50

Ok, so we tried the recipe from the June 2009 Athletes Palate from Runner’s World.  I won’t say it was the best recipe I’ve ever made (that still belongs to The Pampered Chef’s Tuscan Tilapia, which I’ll post someday), but it wasn’t bad either.

I’ve  tried mushrooms here and there, and always hated them.  I’ll say I didn’t hate them this time around, though I expect that they could have used a little more sauteeing (also, it could have also been that I didn’t know how to pick a good mushroom…).  The asparagus was perfectly tender, Will ate every piece off of his plate, and he hates asparagus.  I would like to give credit to our local farm for that as well … I just think there’s something to be said about fresh veggies.

So, try it if you’d like … I think my main reservation about saying that it was delicious was the fact that there were mushrooms in it, and a lot of them.  I think they added something to the flavor, so I wouldn’t cut them out, but I might cut them down next time – 3/4 pound is a LOT of mushrooms.

I’ll say this … I didn’t even finish my plate, it made me THAT full.  It was a vegetarian dish, which we like to have a few times a week.  I’m still stuffed, and I think it’ll hold me for a while.  I’ll guess that I ate about a cup of the stuff.  There’s a lesson for me: pile up the veggies, and get fuller quicker.  Go figure.


Favorite Food: The Baker’s Original Pecan Granola 8 March 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food — lennonzgal @ 12:26

I may not be Hungry Girl, but a couple of you have emailed me or left a comment to say that you’re dieting too and that you’re following my blog as motivation.  It’s amazing what you can do when you’ve got a diet buddy.  But one benefit of having a diet buddy is the fact that you’ll be able to share food secrets, so I thought I’d do that here.  On occasion, I’m going to write about a new favorite of mine, today I’m going to write about the wonders of The Baker’s Original Pecan Granola.

I started loving granola in college.  It was probably the cheapest, most processed granola on the market, but it was SO good on my frozen yogurt, which we got every night.  Since then, I’ve grown to really enjoy the stuff, but I had always thought that it was a bit high in calories to eat on my already-high ice cream.  Then I realized, my yogurt needs just a little something.  Enter granola!  About a half-serving (1/8 cup or 15g depending on the brand) does the trick.  I started with Galaxy Granola’s Not Sweet Vanilla Almond, which is decent, but then I found The Baker.  I grabbed a container of Original Pecan and I was IN HEAVEN.  The stuff is so sweet and brown sugary, it’s really hard to stop at 15g.  I’m getting better at it, but oh my … I love the fact that just by looking at a handful, I can identify the ingredients – walnuts, pecans, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, etc.  Makes me feel so much more comfortable about eating it.

It’s not something I can keep in my house all the time, I do find myself munching on it right out of the bag on occasion, which I never do with my Galaxy Granola (they really mean it when they say “not sweet”), but it’s a great treat to purchase every once in a while!  I’d love to know what everyone else’s favorite granola is … or perhaps someone out there has a homemade recipe?


A Taste of Honey … and about a million other things. 13 February 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food — lennonzgal @ 14:20

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – working in an office setting is a challenge.  You’re constantly faced with all sorts of free foods and foods for charity.  Don’t believe me?  Check out Bathroom Brownies – a site started by someone where I work.  I’ve now been at work over one solid month, and I’ve spent at-home days as well, and I can definitively say that being in an office setting is more difficult than being at home. 

Certainly, home has its drawbacks – there’s all kinds of foods at my disposal.  The bonus here though is that they’re always foods that I’ve selected, meaning they’re healthy.  I may need to work on my water intake at home, and I certainly do think that I have more trouble selecting the healthiest choices at home (when I’m able to look around and make a selection, I’m less apt to select fruit over an ice cream  bar when they’re the same calorie count, despite the obvious nutritional benefits in the fruit).  Still, at home I can make an effort to work out while Liam is napping (or like Wednesday, I can take him with me), and I can make a conscious decision to stay out of the kitchen.

At work, this isn’t as easy.  I work in an office of at least 200 people.  It is truly the definition of a cubicle farm, and with 200 people, there is always food out for the taking.  Every day.  Let’s take yesterday for example.  Here are the things I found around the office yesterday, and why it was hard to avoid them:

  • Girl Scout Cookies.  These are being sold in a cubicle at the end of my row.  So, every time I need to go somewhere – the bathroom, Will’s cube, a meeting, etc. – these little guys are calling me.  Thankfully, I buy from my neighbor, so I don’t need to purchase any from the mom selling them here.  (Side note: while this didn’t happen yesterday, someone often purchases a box and leaves them in the “open” area – see next bullet for details on this area – for people to take … this is harder to avoid, as I do love a good samoa)
  • Bagels.  These are sitting out in the “open” area.  Let me first say something about the open area.  This is a spot that I have to pass by to get to the bathroom, which when you’re drinking 64-100 ounces of water a day, you do a lot.  There is almost always food sitting here.  The bagels, thankfully, are for a club – you pay $13 every once in a while and there are bagels to eat every Thursday.  I didn’t join the club for two reasons: 1) I knew I’d want to get my $13 worth, and I’d eat a bagel slathered in cream cheese every week, and 2) I worked in a bagel shop before, and sorry Panera, I don’t think your bagels cut it.
  • Soft Pretzels.  These are often sitting out in avoidable areas for $0.35, which goes to charity.  An email normally goes out asking you to buy them.  I’ll usually buy a pretzel a week.  I count it in my day, and I look at it as a treat.  Yesterday, however, they seemingly were free.  They were sitting out near an office that I pass by on a regular basis.  I made a point to not ask whether they were for everyone, part of a club, or for sale.  I figured, if I didn’t know, I would feel bad just taking one.  That worked, except I woke up  CRAVING one today.
  • Brownies.  In Will’s group (I’m friendly with the folks on his team … I’m probably friendlier with them than I am with most of the people on my own team), it was someone’s birthday.  When this happens, food shows up in droves.  We all got a notice that there were free brownies at the birthday boy’s desk.  I ended up eating one.  Thankfully, they were small.
  • Bagels (yep, twice).  These were also for the birthday boy, and also from Panera, thereby enabling my ability to avoid them.  I did good, despite the attraction of the honey walnut cream cheese.
  • Donuts.  Birthday boy, again.  Did I mention the droves?  I can’t say I’m a HUGE fan of donuts (munchkins are another story…), so I avoided these as well.  At 8-9 points apiece, it’s not hard to talk yourself out of one.
  • Lunch out.  Every Wednesday and  Thursday, an email goes out to my team with an offer for takeout of some sort.  Thankfully, I’m off on Wednesdays, and I don’t really want to make my day any longer by going out on Thursday, though sometimes the smell of Chik-fil-a is REALLY tempting…
  • The cafeteria.  I go there every day with Will’s team just for the walk.  I’m normally good at not buying anything, but some days, the sandwich bar just looks too good.

Today is Friday.  I would say that about 1/2 to 2/3 of the people normally in the office, aren’t.  And yet there are still foods out – there’s a huge pastry with a knife sitting near it, and a box of chocolates that I’m sure someone’s teacher spouse got for Valentine’s day. 

With so many temptations and smells going on in the room, it’s hard to avoid all of the snacks all of the time.  And with 200 people or so in my area, there’s a lot of food to have to avoid.  You can forget being careful right after Easter, Halloween, or Christmas – that’s when piles and piles of candies, cakes, and cookies show up from everyone who decided to get rid of all of the crap in their house. 

Truly, it amazes me that I work with such skinny people.  I mean really, we sit on our butts for a living!  I know for a fact that there are certain people in my office (all young, probably single, and they’ve GOT to hit the gym for 6 hours a day from what I’ve seen them eat) who are sure to partake of any free food in the 3 (yes, I said 3) kitchens that we have in our office.  Some days, I get jealous.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to just eat takeout every day for lunch and pick at whatever snacks are available.  Some days, I laugh to myself.  Aren’t they going to be shocked when they get married / have a kid / get a life and suddenly gain a ton of weight because they can’t work out like they used to.  Mostly though, I’m amazed … I don’t know how anyone, despite an excellent workout regimen, can eat all that crap and not gain an ounce.  My only silver lining is that they probably aren’t healthy – skinny doesn’t mean healthy, my faithful readers (all, what, three of you?) … I might get a little jealous of what they eat from time to time, but at least I know that despite my weight, I’m probably healthier than a lot of people in my office.


The Thrill of the Cheat 24 January 2009

Filed under: Fun With Food,How Its Done - Past and Present,Why I'm Heavy — lennonzgal @ 19:02

I honestly think that no healthy lifestyle is complete without a cheat day now and again.  There are “off” days, which to me are days where the calories or points or whatever are good, but the ratios might not be there; for instance, I could eat something like 5 Snickers bars in a day and be within my POINTs…I didn’t get a lick of nutrient in there, but I ate to my allotment.  Those can come more frequently, because the gains they create are merely temporary and not worth worrying about.  A cheat day, a TRUE cheat day is more rare, more precious.  It’s the kind of day that becomes a battle between you and your pantry, and you’re going to win because you’re bigger and hungrier.  It’s the kind of day where you finally sit down at night, not wanting to look at another morsel of food for the next month. They cause a gain, and they’re well worth it.

Some of you may say, “Well, I cheat, but it’s really just to have a slice of cake after dinner once every few months.” To you, I say HA!  A slice of cake is amateur hour in the Ash household.  Here, our mouths open when we wake up, and they shut when we go to sleep.  Cookies, cakes, candy, nothing is safe in this house.  Those year-old Peeps clinging to life at the top of the fridge?  Gone.  The girl scout cookies in the basement freezer to be saved for a “later” date?  Guess today is “later” than the day I bought them.  The fake strawberries in Liam’s toy shopping cart … well, perhaps those will go unscathed.

I think a day like that is necessary.  It should be rare, certainly.  You can’t lose weight by watching yourself during the week and eating everything in sight on the weekends.  We’ve tried.  You can, however, still lose with a day here and there (in our case, once a month) filled with whatever you might dream of eating.  At the end of the day, I’ll be crying to Will, telling him that it’s all over, that I’m going to be fat for the rest of my life, and he rationally reminds me that it was just one day and regardless of what I ate today, I’ll still wake up tomorrow lighter than I was when I started.  And tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow is not a cheat day, and I know it.  So, I’ll dust myself off, remind myself why I started my journey, and be able to muddle through another few weeks of dieting, as I look forward to the next cheat.