weighted down

[Warning: This is a little heavy for a Saturday. I don’t normally write like this, but I need to get it out of my system. Proceed with caution.]

There’s something wrong with me. Maybe it’s hormonal, maybe it’s my thyroid, maybe something has snapped in my head. I don’t know. All I know is that something has to change soon, because I can’t stay like this much longer.

I went to the doctor on Friday for both this latest sinus infection, as well as the pulled muscle in my ribs that made it basically impossible to raise my left arm. She gave me antibiotics for the cold and muscle relaxers for my rib, so that’s fine. But what isn’t fine is the number on the scale. It knocked the wind out of me.

I’ve written before about my gastric bypass surgery, which I had nearly 8 years ago. At the time, I weighed 265 pounds. (I’m only 5’5″.) I lost a little over 100 pounds after the surgery. My lowest weight was around 155 – 160 pounds, at which point I wore a size 10 and felt pretty damn hot. Eventually my weight settled around the 165-170 point, but that was fine. I wore a size 12, and I said that as long as I could shop in the regular clothing stores and not the big-girl stores, I was happy. And I was.

Since I had Catie, something has changed. I was so sick during my pregnancy, by the time she was born, my net weight gain for the whole pregnancy was 1 pound. So within a couple of weeks, I was not only back in my pre-pregnancy jeans, I was in my size 10 skinny jeans again. Which was, well, weird. Of course, all that weight I lost during pregnancy was muscle, not fat, so I expected to gain some of it back as I regained my strength. But I think I’ve gone a little overboard.

Essentially, in the past 2 1/2 years or so, I’ve gained 30 pounds. That seems excessive, no? And I get it. I’m not as active as I was. I eat too much crap. I have this mental block about throwing food away or being “wasteful” (no doubt instilled in me by my mother). But if Catie eats three bites of her peanut butter & jelly sandwich and then announces that she’s done, what am I supposed to do? Throw it out? Hell no, I scarf that bad boy down. Same goes for her leftover mac & cheese, and her leftover chicken nuggets, and, and, and…

There’s other issues here too. Like how my weight is connected to my self-esteem, and how that’s connected to my libido (i.e., if you feel fat and ugly, you don’t really want to get naked in front of anyone, even if it’s the person who’s vowed to love you forever). These things are all intertwined, you know?

And I hate it. I don’t want this. I don’t want to be one of the “gastric bypass failure” stories. I always swore that would never be me. After all, that only happened to people who were messed up in the head. And now, look, here I am, steadily on my way to that exact fate.

But, hey, this is not my pity party. I am not the type to sit around and moan about how miserable I am, and I have very little tolerance for people who do that. The point here is to get off my (rapidly expanding) ass and do something about it. Yes, ok, in the last two years I have started more than a few diets, and I have failed at all of them. So maybe it’s time for me to try a different approach.

First, I’ve decided that I need to see a therapist. Sure, the blog is nice for unloading some stuff, but there are also some things that I can’t really talk about here because a lot of people in my family read this site, and I don’t want to alienate any of those relationships. I’m also considering going to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, because I’ve looked at their checklist of symptoms of compulsive overeating, and there are a few too many that ring true to me. (Of course, I do realize that by announcing my intent to go, I’ve pretty much shot the whole “anonymous” element to hell). I also need to make appointments to talk about some of this stuff with my OB/GYN, and maybe an endocrinologist, because I do feel like there is something “off” with my body as far as my overall lack of energy.

Second, I am going to start on another diet. But here’s the problem: with a three year-old in the house, it’s basically impossible to not have some junk food around all the time. That’s fine. But it makes it nearly impossible to do an intensely low-carb/all-organic diet. So I’m going to start working just on calorie restriction alone. Obviously I will try to make healthier choices during the day, but I also don’t want to beat myself up about it if I indulge in an 80-calorie cookie, either. I’m also going to start trying not to eat at night (after, say, 8 p.m. or so). That’s going to be the hardest for me. I’m a nighttime eater. I probably get a good 30% of my day’s calories after Catie goes to bed. But I’m going to work on cutting that out.

I also have to get exercising again, because I know that I will never feel “right” until I do. I started the couch-to-5K program last summer, and I really liked it a lot. But then we went to Mississippi for my aunt’s funeral, and then we moved to the new house, and then, and then, and then… You know, excuses excuses. I fell off the exercise wagon and landed back on the junk food wagon. So I’ll try it again. I ordered a pair of these crazy shoes and I’m gonna give it another shot.

And if I screw up, well then, I’ll just try again. And again. However many times it takes until I get it right.

I will NOT be one of those sad failure stories. I refuse.

fuzzy-headed, empty-tummied

I started a new diet today. Which, if we’re counting, makes this probably my third or fourth diet this year. But, every other time, it’s just been something that I tried to do on my own. This time, I have a plan. Duh-duh-DUHHH!!

Specifically, I’m doing the Fat Flush Plan. Which is pretty intense – low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat, low-everything-I-like. I’m modifying it a little bit, because while I get that her goal is to shock your system into losing weight, I also think this woman is juuust a teensy bit batshit insane. And I think that I can stick to the basic principles of her low-carb/low-cal/low-fat ideal without completely compromising the integrity of the diet. Because look, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to cook with flaxseed oil, because it’s flat-out disgusting. I’ll stick with my olive oil spray, thank you. Also, she instructs that you should eliminate salt from your diet, which, no. Cut back? Sure. But I want to enjoy my food, and salt plays a pretty major role in several things that I eat. (Besides, the main benefit from cutting out salt is that it makes all of her diuretics more effective, so I’ll lose more water weight, not real weight. Whatever.)

I am, however, doing a lot of the supplements and other things she recommends, like the cran-water (unsweetened cranberry juice diluted with water – mmm, bitter! Gag.), and I can drink hot water with lemon, no problem. She recommends this “Long Life Tonic” twice a day, which is her cran-water concoction mixed with a teaspoon of ground psyllium husks. Which I had to Google, because I didn’t know WTF psyllium was, and it turns out that it’s basically the raw form of Metamucil. Nice. So with this drink, you get bitterness and grit. Yum. Dave looked at it and said that if that’s the Long Life Tonic, he’ll just take the 5-year hit on his lifespan rather than drink it. I’m honestly not sure how long I’ll stick with it either, because it’s truly revolting. But I’ll try.

The author also frowns on caffeine and artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which means my Diet Coke is a no-no. I’m not crazy, there’s no way I can go cold turkey off of Diet Coke, but I *am* trying to cut back to maybe 2 a day (down from my usual 5). So far it’s 1:45 pm, and I’ve only had one today. I also feel light-headed and headachy, which might be a sign that I’m working on a pretty serious addiction here. I’m trying a cup of (caffeinated) green tea to see if that helps.

As for exercise, I was doing really well on my couch-to-5K plan, and I had gotten to the point where I could jog for three whole minutes without stopping, which was a first for me. And then we had to go to Mississippi, and then the house move, and everything just sorta went to crap. So I need to get back into it. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that soon, as soon as the shock on my system with this diet wears off.

So, you know, if things seem pretty whiny and bitchy around here for the next couple of weeks, you’ll know why.

tuna noodle casserole

It seems like whenever I don’t have much else to write about, I default to a recipe. Here’s another one. Let me know what you think of it if you decide to try it.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

* Chunk light tuna packed in water, 3 cans (drained)
* 1 can of mushrooms (drained)
* 1 can of green peas (drained)
* Cream of mushroom soup, 2 cans
* 1 package of egg noodles
* 1 onion
* Shredded cheddar cheese, 2 cups
* Potato chips

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make your pasta according to package directions.
2. Chop the onion & sautee (with butter, vegetable oil, or whatever you prefer) until it’s soft & caramelized.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine: tuna, cream of mushroom soup, mushrooms, peas, sauteed onion, & one cup of the shredded cheese.
4. Put tuna noodle mixture in a 9×13 dish.
5. Put potato chips in a Ziploc bag and crush with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Mix the remaining 1 cup of cheese with the crushed chips, then spread over the top of your casserole.
6. Bake at 425 degrees until the cheese is brown & bubbly. About 15-20 minutes.

I love this because it’s quick & easy to make, and it makes enough to feed us for at least 3 nights.


chicken curry, British style

I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to be making my mother-in-law’s chicken curry for dinner, and a few people asked me to share the recipe. So, here goes:

Mags’ Super Awesome Chicken Curry Recipe


  • About 2 pounds of chicken (Dave likes light meat & I like dark, so I buy 1 pound each of boneless, skinless breasts & thighs, and chop/mix them up)
  • Large onion, finely diced
  • Heavy cream
  • Garlic (either fresh or the chopped kind from a jar)
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Almond slivers, either ground up through a cuisinart (if you have one), or if you’re me, pulverized with a meat tenderizer. I buy the little 1/4 cup bags in the baking section, and I use about 1/2 of it in the recipe. So, 1/8 cup? I guess? (I can haz math skillz?)
  • Herbs:

  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 2 heaping tsps coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Chili powder to taste (for me, this means basically one microscopic shake because I am a HUGE wimp about spicy food; if Dave was making it, he’d probably dump the whole jar in there)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot. Once it’s hot, add your garlic (to taste; I use about 1 tbsp because I looove garlic), and lightly fry it just until it starts to really smell good. Maybe a minute or so, you don’t want it to burn & turn bitter.

    2. Mix your herbs with water (~3 or 4 tablespoons) to make a smooth paste. You want it to be “runny thick” (my MIL’s term), about the consistency of heavy cream. Add your herb/water mixture to the pot and continue to stir fry. When it goes dark & separates, add your chopped onion. Turn heat down, cook on medium until the onion is caramelized.

    3. Add chicken. Cook it through; no pink in the middle.

    4. Add about 1 cup of water. You can add a chicken stock cube if you like; I do, but it’s entirely optional. Simmer for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour (the longer it cooks, the more tender the chicken). If you’re my mother-in-law, this is the point where you take a break and fix yourself a nice gin & tonic. After all this hard work in the kitchen, you’ve surely earned it.

    5. Add about 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to your chicken curry. (Obviously this recipe has no calories at all.) Let it simmer for a while to allow some of the liquid to reduce. Salt to taste.

    Serve over basmati rice. I also buy naan bread from the bakery section of our grocery store and heat it in the oven to serve on the side.


    awesome lasagna recipe

    I think I’ve only posted recipes once or twice before, but my lasagna is one of the things I’m proudest of, so I’ve decided to share the recipe. Keep in mind the quantities are HUGE because I make two lasagnas and then freeze one for later.

    You need:
    * 2 packages of no-boil lasagna noodles
    * 4 eggs (you can use egg substitute, doesn’t make much difference)
    * 30 ounces of ricotta cheese (some stores have the jumbo 30-oz. container; if not, get two 15-ounces)
    * 8 cups (32 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
    * 1 package grated Parmesan cheese (about a cup, I think?)
    * 2 – 2.5 pounds of ground beef (I buy the extra-lean stuff)
    * 3 jars of marinara sauce; I use the generic store brand, usually the “flavored with meat” kind
    * One small bunch of fresh spinach, chopped (no specific amount, just personal preference)
    * 1 package (8 ounces) of sliced mushrooms, chopped
    * Either an eggplant or 2 zucchinis (whatever your preference; I’ve done it both ways & it’s great either way), diced into pretty small chunks
    * Salt, garlic, basil, oregano

    To cook it:
    1. Cook the beef and drain it. Put the beef back into the pot, add 2 1/2 jars of marinara sauce (leave 1/2 of one jar for later), and add the mushrooms and eggplant/zucchini. Let it simmer for a LOOOONG time. Like at least an hour. You want the meat to get really tender, and the veggies to cook down to the point where they’re basically unrecognizable (at least to your average 2 year-old, who’s part of my target demographic when cooking this dish). Add garlic, basil, and oregano while it’s cooking.

    2. In an extra-large mixing bowl, combine your eggs, ricotta cheese, Parmesan, and half of your mozzarella (so, 4 cups/16 ounces). Also mix in your chopped spinach, and add a little salt.

    3. Get two 9×13 baking dishes. Spray with Pam, and then divide that last 1/2 jar of marinara sauce to cover the bottom of the dishes (keeps the bottom noodles from getting dried out & crunchy). Then comes the fun part: putting it all together. Your layers should go like this:
    * One layer of no-boil lasagna noodles
    * Meat/veggie/sauce mix
    * Ricotta/spinach mix
    * Mozzarella cheese (part of that other 4 cups you had lying around)

    Repeat, and that should just about use up your ingredients. You can make it a 3-layer lasagna if you like, but I think that usually ends up being way too dense and it just doesn’t taste quite as good. But, you know, to each their own.

    4. Take one of those dishes, cover with foil and put in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. Then, take the foil off and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. (Disclaimer: my oven is kind of weak, so I usually end up bumping the temp up to 450 degrees for those last 15 minutes because I like the cheese to get all golden brown on top.)

    5. For the other lasagna, cover with heavy-duty foil (if your 9×13 dish has a lid, all the better) and put it in the freezer. When you want to cook it, you can either let it defrost for two days in the fridge (which I usually don’t have patience for), or you can put it in the oven at 250 degrees for about 60-90 minutes to thaw it out completely before you cook it.

    This is one of my favorites because it’s an all-in-one meal. It’s loaded with meat & cheese (protein, yay!) and it’s also chock full of veggies. It’s been taste-tested by two different toddlers (namely, Catie & her cousin Elizabeth) and they both love it and clean their plates when it’s served. So if you have kids, that’s definitely a bonus.

    Bon appetit!
    P.S. I’ll get back to real blogging soon, I promise.

    meals on the cheap

    Have y’all heard about this web series “Great Depression Cooking with Clara”? I’m always looking for ways to save money on groceries, and if I can come up with a yummy dinner recipe for very little money, I’m all for it. Last week, we decided to try out Clara’s “Poorman’s Meal.”

    Only a couple of minor tweaks to the recipe:
    1. I added some salt and a little garlic powder.
    2. Instead of using marinara sauce from a jar, I used half a can of diced, peeled tomatoes, so I could feel like it sort of had a vegetable in it.

    And let me tell you, it was fantastic. Even Catie liked it; but then, what two year-old doesn’t like hot dogs and potatoes? Those are like staples in the average toddler’s diet, right? Anyway, all three of us loved it, it made enough food to feed us for two nights, and when you average it out, it cost next to nothing. Definitely a keeper.

    The weird thing is, this is not the type of food I grew up with at all, and somehow it still tasted like comfort food. I don’t know if that makes sense. I look forward to making it again, though.

    milk money

    With the economy being the way it is – or rather, the way the media is portraying it every time I turn on the news – I’ve been thinking about ways to scrimp and save here and there. We’re pretty good about not spending money on frivolous things. We usually rent movies rather than go to the theater, we very rarely eat out, Dave and I haven’t bought clothes for ourselves in ages, etc. The main monthly expense that might have some wiggle room is food. I honestly couldn’t tell you how much we spend on groceries a month. It seems like I’m at the supermarket every few days, so I’d have to gather all of my receipts and add them up, because I really have no clue. But I know it’s a lot.

    So, I’m trying to figure out ways that we can save money on our monthly grocery bill. There are a few things that I won’t compromise on:
    * Milk – I have to drink the lactose-free milk, which is expensive. And for Catie’s milk, I will only buy her the organic stuff with no hormones or antibiotics. Call me crazy, but I’d like to do everything I can to prevent her from hitting puberty at 9 years old, or having an increased risk of breast cancer (or any other type of cancer).
    * Cheese. I buy the store-brand generic stuff, and it’s still pricey. But you know, I like cheese, and I’m not switching to Velveeta just because it’s cheaper.
    * A few other things that I’m very brand-specific about: Diet Coke, my specific type of whole-wheat bread, Pampers for Catie, etc. There’s not very many things that I feel that strongly about, but for those few things, I’m stubborn and have absolutely no wiggle room.

    As for the things I’m already doing to save money:
    * That stuff I just mentioned that I’m brand-specific about? I wait for it to go on sale and then I stock up and buy tons of it, so I think that helps.
    * Buying the cheaper/store brand versions of everything else.
    * Choosing canned/frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh. I’m sure it probably loses a bit of its nutritional value in the process, but it does save quite a bit of money.
    * Cheap lunches. Dave works from home, and Catie & I are here too, so I usually have to come up with something for all of us to eat for lunch every day. Lately, soup has been very popular in our house. (I have the weirdest toddler in the world, she loves both split pea and vegetable beef soup. I KNOW!) Two cans of Campbell’s soup for 88 cents? Why yes, thank you. I think we can budget that.

    Stuff I still need to work on:
    * Coupons. I should clip coupons. I know I should. The problem is, every time I’ve done it, I’ve forgotten that the coupons were in my purse when I was checking out. So I need some sort of system that will prevent me from having a total brain fart when I go to pay for my stuff. If any of you have suggestions, let me have them.
    * Making a list. I think this would keep me from wandering the store trying to remember all the things I needed, which usually leads me to picking up a few things that we really don’t need.
    * For the fruits and veggies that I do buy fresh, I need to try to restrict myself to buying things that are local and in season. Kind of hard to do when your child is demanding grapes, and you can’t buy canned grapes (can you? I’ve never seen them, other than in fruit cocktail), and she isn’t going to wait until grape season rolls around.
    * Choosing cheaper meats. It’s not like I’m buying us filet mignon every day or anything like that; we eat chicken more than anything else, really. But for example, when we want seafood, I could maybe make a tuna casserole instead of grilled salmon, and it would be an awful lot cheaper.

    Is there anything I’m forgetting? Are you doing anything special to try to save money these days?