A Snapshot in Time

Ah, the good old days. Do your remember when:
A first class stamp was 25 cents.  Gasoline was $0.97 a gallon.  A dozen eggs cost 96 cents.  The average cost of a new car was $15,400.
The Billboard Top Ten for the year included hits from Bad English, the Bangles, Tears for Fears, Martika, and Warrant, as well as Gloria Estefan, Donny Osmond, NKOTB, Richard Marx and Debbie Gibson. Batman, starring Michael Keaton, was the top grossing movie, while Driving Miss Daisy took the Best Picture Academy Award.
Roseanne was the most popular TV show in the US, with The Cosby Show, Cheers, A Different World and America’s Funniest Home videos (back then it was all still on video tape!) round out the top five.
In US sports, the San Francisco 49’ers won the Superbowl, and Joe Montana was the league MVP.   The Oakland A’s won a world series that was interrupted by a major earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale and killed 69 people. A more Wisconsin view of sports showed that Lindy Infante was the coach of the Green Bay Packers, Don Majkowski was the quarterback and finished the season with a 10 and 6 record, while the Milwaukee Brewers, under manager Tom Trebelhorn finished the season at 81 and 81.
In the news, the Exxon tanker Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil in the Prince William sound of Alaska, hundreds of protesters were shot in China’s Tiananmen Square, and Congress bailed out the savings and loan industry with a $168 billion bailout (some things never change!)
The year? 1989. 

That was also the last year that I weighed less than 186 pounds. That was 23 years ago! The musical styles and movies have changed since then but it feels good to be back in a similar physical shape. 

But here is my question to you.

Where were YOU in 1989? Where are you NOW? More importantly, where are you going in 2012, and what are you going to do to achieve your goals?
It is up to you. Every day is a new day. Every day is a chance to start over. Make your decision, and work for what is important. The changes will not happen overnight. But the decision to start the changes can happen in a heartbeat.

Mushrooms and Beef in Cream Sauce

Mushroom and Beef in Cream Sauce
Makes 6 servings
12 ounces beef roast, cut into ½ inch cubes
16 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 ounces red wine
4 ounces water
8 Tablespoon (4 ounces) of reduced fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 cups uncooked whole wheat wide noodles
Prepare the pasta as directed on the label. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet, saute the onion for 3-4 minutes, and then add the garlic and mushrooms.  Continue to cook over medium-high until everything is soft, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from skillet into a large bowl, set aside and keep warm.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat. When hot, carefully add all meat.  Season the meat with pepper as needed, stirring to brown all surfaces. When the meat is browned, add to the bowl containing the cooked mushrooms.
The skilled will probably have meat and mushroom residue adhering to the sides and bottom (also called fond.)  Pour the wine into the skillet, deglazing the pan.  Then add the cream cheese, return the skillet to medium heat and stir until the cheese has melted and is mixed with the wine.  Add the water and mix well.
Return the meat and mushrooms to the sauce, and stir to coat.
One serving is 1 cup pasta (or less) and 3/4 cup stroganoff.
Nutritional data (of the stroganoff):
Calories:               226
Fat:                       11.4g
Sat fat:                  4.4g
Cholesterol:       59.5mg
Sodium:               137mg
Carbs:                   6.7g
Fiber:                    1.1g
Protein:               20.8g
Nutritional data (of 1 cup of cooked pasta):
Calories:               180
Fat:                          1g
Sat fat:                  0.0g
Cholesterol:        0.0mg
Sodium:               15mg
Carbs:                   41g
Fiber:                    6.0g
Protein:                   8g

Changes Over Time

People have asked for a series of pictures that show me over the years. I don’t have any going back to very far, but I can go back to 2005.  So, watch where I’ve been:
June, 2005
July, 2006
October, 2006.  This was probably my greatest weight at 315+.  (I had stopped looking at the scale when I hit 295 pounds.)
June, 2007
Nothing from 2008
Down to 223 pounds, spring 2009  Success!!!
Weight is creeping back up, December 2009
May, 2011.  Back to 265 pounds, in my largest size clothes. 
This picture was the trigger that started me back on the road to better health.
November, 2001
The day I was in Onederland at 198 pounds.
January, 2012
You can change yourself. It takes work. You need to decide what you want, and then work for it. It may not be easy, but nothing of value is ever easy.

Portabella Panini

To make one panini

1 ciabatta roll
1 portabella cap
1/2 ounce goat cheese
1 teaspoon (heaping) sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 cup baby spinach, chopped a little
1 slice of onion
Cooking spray

1.  Heat your panini pan over medium heat. (I don’t have one, but I use my George Foreman grill set to 340F.)
2.  With a spoon, carefully scrape out the gills on the underside of the cap.  This step isn’t required, but it will make the mushroom cap have a better texture when cooked.
3.  Spray the pan.  Lay the onion and portabella cap in it.  Turn the cap after 2 minutes.
4.  While that is cooking, slice the ciabatta rolls. Carefully carve out some of the bread from the top and bottom halves.
5.  Spread goat cheese on the bottom half.
6.  When the onions are soft, lay them on bottom half. Top the onions with the portabella.
7.  Spread the sun-dried tomatoes on the portabella.
8.  Fill the top half of the roll with the spinach.
9.  Lay the completed sandwich in the pan or on the grill and place the weight on it or put the lid down.
10.The panini is done when the crust is golden brown and the sandwich is flat.

Options:  Replace the sun-dried tomatoes with fire-roasted peppers.  Use feta cheese or a slice of Swiss instead of goat cheese.  Use arugula instead of spinach.  Add a slice of tomato.  Add avocado.

Nutritional data as made according to the recipe):
Calories:    224
Fat:            3.3g
Sat fat:       1.3g
Chol:        7.5mg
Sodium:   505mg
Carbs:     37.1g
Fiber:        3.2g
Protein:     9.7g

Knees and Needs

I’ve been pushing my body to jog further and faster, in preparation for the Bellin Run, and I was experiencing increasing endurance.  Until I started to develop sharp knee pain in my left knee last Sunday. Since then, I was only able to get three to five minutes before the pain became too intense. Being a nurse, and a guy, I was trying to “play through the pain”, but that wasn’t working. This was not muscle aches. This was sharp and deep knee pain, under the patella.  Similar to when I tore my mensiscus in my right knee.
I decided to listen to many people about my knee. I am going to give my knee 10 days to rest. No jogging.  Rest and recuperation. In my zeal to prepare for the Bellin Run, I over-did it. I was pushing for longer and longer times each and every day. I never took a day off to let my knee recover. Knees NEED time to heal, grow stronger, build toughness.
Instead, I will focus on the weight machine (upper body only) for the next 10 days. Then I will get on the treadmill and start with a fast walk for a short time (3-5 minutes). I will take a day off after walking, and hopefully then be able to increase duration and speed incrementally.  However, if the knee pain returns, then it’s back to my orthopedist to see what a doctor can do for me.
I am not going to worry about how this will affect my performance in the Bellin Run. One thing at a time! (That’s something that I need to work on.)
I weighed in today, and recorded a weight that was unchanged from Monday. That doesn’t mean the weight was completely unchanging day to day.  But I am feeling more in control at what I call my “balance weight range.” Every day is a minor difference. A tad up, a tad down, a day of no change. Lather, rinse and repeat. It’s only been exactly one month since I reached my goal, so we are eleven months from feeling like I am really grasping this phase of my life.
Don’t get me wrong. Every day is still a challenge. I was at a convenience store today, and it is attached to an Arby’s. I smelled the food, and I really wanted it. But I know that my meal plan for the day doesn’t include a sodium-laden beef sandwich.
I hope that as you make your own progress that you never start to think, “It will be so easy when I reach my goal weight!” The reality is that the only changes to my meals is that I have 500 extra calories to eat, and that I am eating most of my exercise calories now. I still log my foods. I still have cravings for things (potato chips) in quantities that I shouldn’t eat. But I am learning that I don’t NEED to eat those things, or those quantities, to feel good. In fact, exercising self-control feels better than I could explain.
I purchased my LoseIt “Goal Achieved” t-shirt. I am proud to have earned the right to buy it. But I really feel like the shirt should read, “Goal Achieved. Now on to the NEXT goal”.
We are all on a journey to better health and weight management for the rest of our lives.  Unless you are willing to risk returning to a previous physique, you will need to continue to consider your meals before eating. In the words of my son and many other wise people, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Logging all food consumed gave me success. Logging will keep me successful. I won’t think that “I have this figured out, I don’t need to log” because I truly believe that while you success over a short period is possible, the act of logging your food creates ownership of your actions. It shows an acceptance of your responsibilities.
I’m still logging my meals and exercise, one month into finding my “balance weight range”. I will be logging 11 months from now, and even after that. I want to keep the new me. I like the new me. I hope that you succeed and find the new you. 
Pictures of a new meal will probably be posted tonight.

Spinach Pizza

1 Boboli Whole Wheat crust

Mix together, and spread evenly on the crust
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed/minced

Layer each on top of the crust:
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (or more) fresh mushrooms, sliced
6 Spanish olives, chopped
6 Kalamata olives, chopped
3 ounces baby spinach, chopped
3 Tablespoons crumbled Feta cheese

Bake t 450 for 10 minutes.  I cut it into quarters for four servings.

Nutritional data (for 1/4 of the entire pizza):
Calories:    362
Fat:            13.8g
Sat fat:            3g
Chol:         11.5mg
Sodium:      656mg
Carbs:        54.4g
Fiber:           9.1g
Protein:      12.1g

Green Salsa Chicken and Cumin Corn

Green Salsa Chicken
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, 5 ounce each (approx.)
8 tomatillos, husks removed
½ cup onion, sliced
1 cup diced bell peppers, any or all colors
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Herb blend (ideally a southwestern spice blend)
1 lime
Cooking spray
Sprinkle chicken breasts with spice.  Place in preheated non-stick skillet.  Cook approximately 5 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet, cover and set aside.
Spray the skillet with cooking spray.  Place tomatillos, skin side down in skillet.  Do not stir, let them begin to lightly char (5 minutes over med-high heat) then flip over.  Let them continue to cook for additional 5 minutes.  When done, remove from skillet and roughly chop.  Place in a bowl.
In a separate small skillet, coat with cooking spray and add onion and diced pepper.  Cook until beginning to soften, then add to bowl of tomatillos.
Grate the lime to remove ½ tsp zest.  Squeeze lime to get 2 tablespoons juice.  Add juice and zest to tomatillo-pepper-onion mix.  Toss.
Serves 4 (1 chicken breast and approximately ¼ cup of salsa)
Nutritional data:
Calories:          183
Fat:                  9.8g
Sat fat:              2.6g
Cholesterol:     75mg
Sodium:           223mg
Carbs:              8.7g
Fiber:               2.4g
Protein:            17.3g
Cumin Corn
1 cup (5 ounces) frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
¼ cup onion, diced
¾ cup bell pepper, diced, any colors
2 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp ground cumin (or more, to taste)
Black pepper to taste
Serve 4 (1/2 cup portions)
1.       Heat non-stick skillet with 2 tsp olive oil.
2.      Add onion and bell pepper to oil.  Stir frequently, until heated through, and beginning to get tender.
3.      Add cumin and black pepper.  Stir in thawed corn.  Stir until the corn is beginning to get tender and is heated through.
Nutritional Data
Calories:      63
Fat:            2.8g
Sat fat:       0.3g
Chol:            0mg
Sodium:    1.9mg
Carbs:        8.6g
Fiber:         1.7g
Protein:     1.6g

Zucchini-Potato Pancakes

Make 4 pancakes, each about 4 inches
1 small (6 inch) zucchini, shredded, skin on (approximately 1 1/3 cup)
2/3 cup shredded cooked potatoes (approximately 5 ounces)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp black pepper
1.  Gently mix together.
2.  Pre-heat a non-stick skillet over medium and spray with cooking spray.
3.  Divide batter into four portions (approximately 1/2 cup each.)
4.  Fry until the edges begin to brown (4-5 minutes).  Turn and continue until finished cooking.
Top with plain Greek yogurt, applesauce, or butter and maple syrup. Or serve at breakfast with a single fried egg on top of each pancake.

Nutritional Data:
Cal:  86
Fat:  3.3g
Sat Fat: 1.2g
Chol: 107.2mg
Sodium: 105.4mg
Carb: 8.7g
Fiber: 0.4g
Protein: 5mg

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Makes 2 servings of 4 pancakes. 
Mix together:
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
¼ c water
1c Kellog’s All Bran (Place the cereal in a blender or food processor and crush a little.)

½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 scoop (4T) whey powder
Pour scant ¼ c onto non-stick skillet lightly oiled.  You may need to press the batter down a little to get the correct thickness.  Turn when the batter starts to set (2-3 minutes over medium heat.)  This is very thick batter, and bubbles will not form on the surface. 
Serve with whipped cream, sautéed bananas, warm apple compote, peanut butter or Greek Yogurt.
Nutritional Data (per pancake, without toppings)
Cal:           44
Fat:           0.6g 
Sat Fat:     0.1g 
Chol:        6.8mg 
Sodium:  73.3mg 
Carb:        8.4g 
Fiber        4.8g 
Protein:    5.1g 

Pancakes (Two Ways!)

Sometimes I just need to try new things. Occasionally it is simply a modification of a known recipe and other times it is a completely new recipe. I have an example of each today.

Breakfast was my protein pancake, but modified to make it a Pumpkin Protein Pancake.

This is a case where experimenting brings new rewards. I really like my basic protein pancakes, but I wanted to try something new.  I swapped out the applesauce and subbed in a lot of canned pumpkin.  Then I fried them on a griddle over low heat, for longer than usual, and topped it with vanilla yogurt with a touch of cinnamon.

Thursday evening I made pancakes as a side dish, using a completely new recipe. I made zucchini-potato pancakes. I grew up enjoying very good potato pancakes, and was never able to make them as good. Crispy on the outside, moist in the center.

But I hit a home run on this recipe.  I served it as a side to a simple top sirloin steak, with sauteed crimini mushrooms and Vidalia onions on top.

The pancakes were the star of this meal. Light and still substantial. Crispy and tender. And very flavorful!

Finally, an update on my training for the 2012 Bellin Run. Today, I was able to jog at 5.3 mph, for 12:03. I broke my first goal this morning because I continuously jogged 1.06 miles (1.69 Km). Today’s run music was Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, and Boston’s Foreplay/Long Time.

It’s a start! I hit my first jogging goal, and know that the rest of the goals are just waiting for me. My plan is to continue to increase my running time by about 45 seconds a day, and then ever Saturday I will increase the speed on the treadmill by 0.1 mph. Doing that will have me at 6.2 mph and a little over a 1 hour run time a few weeks before the Bellin Run. I want to run it in 60 minutes (or a touch under.)