, ,

Well, it’s been a while… I’ve not posted in over a year in a half- but I reckon it’s better late than never! Besides, November is National Blog Posting Month, so I might as well get in on the action.

So what’s been up since I’ve last posted? Let see… I got married in a very lovely summer ceremony this past July. Maybe later I’ll post some pics!

Mostly I’ve just been truckin’ along here in Norway with the usual things. Cooking, baking, knitting, sewing, etc etc. However, since I’ve returned to Norway this August from our wedding and vacation in the US, I’ve been focusing a lot on weight loss and healthy eating/lifestyle. Since August 11, I’ve lost 25 pounds (11.4 kg) and counting! This is really exciting for me, as I’ve never stuck to any “diet” or program for longer than a couple weeks max before either getting bored or discouraged and just giving up.

I’d like to say I had some sort of epiphany that led me to decide I was going to start living healthy, but I didn’t. Basically, I just thought it was time. I was just ready for it, which I think is where you have to be when you want to lose weight. Otherwise, you simply wont be committed to doing it- or at least, that’s been my problem in the past.

Anyway, so I’ve had loads of people ask me what I’ve been doing to lose weight. Honestly, I’ve not been doing anything really special. I started with Livestrong.com‘s MyPlate- which is a free online tool allowing you to track food and fitness. Most of it is free, or, for a small yearly charge (something like 60 bucks) you can have access to some other tools like weight goals and specific nutrition goals. When you register, you can enter your current height and weight, and input if you’d like to maintain your weight, or lose weight- and from there you can get an adjusted calorie intake for your goals. I love this website, and have used it pretty much exclusively as a tool to help me track my caloric intake.

I haven’t been following any fad diets or programs. Sure, lots of people have had success with numerous diets, low carb, paleo diet, etc etc- but I don’t think that every diet works for every person- for me, a simple, balanced approach has been best. I don’t want a diet that restricts everything, I want a lifestyle change that I can sustain for the rest of my life. I don’t want to feel like I have to constantly tell myself “nope, you can’t have that or that or this, or that…” I want to be flexible and learn to make the right choices, but not feel so chained to a certain diet lifestyle that I am overwhelmed with guilt when I deviate, another problem I’ve had in the past.

So. I eat a balanced diet daily of about 1550 calories a day. (As I lose weight, my calorie goal also changes.) Some days I’m a little bit over, some days I’m a little under. It all evens out in the end.  I limit refined sugars and carbs- not because I “can’t” have them, but because I’d rather have something else that would fill me up and give me more nutrition.  I eat loads of veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats. If I’m desperate for something “bad” I have it, but in a moderate amount, and I try to fit it into my daily calorie allowance. I don’t have cravings for sweets and chocolate much anymore, and when I do, I almost ALWAYS have healthy alternatives around to snack on instead.

I love cooking, and there are LOADS of resources out there for healthy cooking. I have a copy of  Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, which was just published last year and is my go-to source for practically every dinner. The recipes are easy and they taste pretty darn good. They clearly tell you yields for recipes, and how much each serving size is- so there isn’t any confusion over amounts.

Since August, I’ve cooked almost every single dinner from that cookbook- we have some definite favorites (and a couple we didn’t really like) but I’ve yet to get bored with the selection. We’ve expanded our horizons and tried some new things. I’ve just discovered Eating Well, which is a magazine published in the US- that has loads of awesome looking recipes online as well. This week I’m going to try cooking from several of their recipes I’ve bookmarked.

So what does a 1550 calorie day look like? I’ve decided to document what I eat over the next week so people can see what I’m eating, in what amounts. Maybe someone who wants to lose weight will be inspired by it. Plus it gets me back to blogging regularly. Win-win. :)

Before I start with what I ate today, let me run down with my weekly “plan” and how I do things to make my life easier. Everyone is different, and everyone does things in different ways- so you do what works for you. This is how we do it, and what works for us.

First of all, I plan our meals a week in advance. Its hard to succumb to a sudden craving for an unhealthy choice when you stick to a plan. My dad has always  drilled into me: “fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is especially true when you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Now, this isn’t to say I’m so inflexible that if someone calls and wants to come over for dinner, or invites me to dinner or whatever that my whole week is screwed up and everything is ruined. I can easily rearrange things or scratch a meal entirely and go with something else. No sweat.

I have a notebook in which I write down the weeks meals, Monday through Sunday. Meat costs a bit more in Norway than elsewhere, so we limit our meat to three days a week, eating fish two days a week and vegetarian the other two. I clean Mondays, so I try to make a big enough meal on Sunday so we have leftovers on Monday. (I also bake bread on Monday, so Monday is a busy day for me- the last thing I want to do after a day of cleaning and baking is cook a big dinner.) This is what our week tends to look like:

  • Monday (Meat): leftovers from Sunday
  • Tuesday (Fish)
  • Wednesday (Vegetarian)
  • Thursday (Meat)
  • Friday (Fish)
  • Saturday (Vegetarian)
  • Sunday (Meat)
I grocery shop on Tuesdays and either Friday or Saturday Morning. When I make my grocery list, I just go through my meal plan for the week, looking over recipes to see what things I need from the recipes and checking my pantry and fridge for basics I might need. I have a grocery list tablet that I keep in the kitchen, and as I run out of things I also put it on the list so I don’t forget. Sticking to a meal plan saves me time, money and calories! I’m not wandering aimlessly in the grocery store trying to come up with something to eat for dinner, I’m not buying produce that won’t get eaten and therefore goes to waste in the fridge, and I’m not making last minute, unhealthy choices. I get what’s on the list and that’s it. Grocery shopping is much more pleasant now, and we’ve shaved a good 150-200 dollars a month off our grocery bill with this plan. Food waste is a pretty hideous problem in our modern society, but that’s a different blog post.
So- what did I eat today?
I started today with a different breakfast. Usually I eat wheetabix (a breakfast cereal I started eating when I lived in Scotland and I still dearly love) with skim milk, or perhaps some toast or something- or I skip breakfast altogether (yeah yeah, let everyone gasp in horror and have someone lecture me on breakfast being the most important meal of the day… blah blah. Some mornings, I just don’t FEEL like eating anything. By the time I do, its lunch.) Anyway, I decided to make a point to actually eat breakfast this week and to make it something easily available to everyone, and not just wheetabix with skim milk. I wouldn’t want you all to think I was that boring.
So this morning I made “Creamy Wheat Berry Hot Cereal” from a recipe I found on eatingwell.com.  This was AWESOME. Trust me. It took 10 minutes max, so you could totally make this in the morning before work/school. I cooked the wheat berries last night and stuck them in the fridge- and I used quick cooking oats- so the time to make this in the morning took no longer than it would to make a packet of “instant” oatmeal. I didn’t have rasins (put that on the grocery list!) so I used dried cranberries instead, which I think were even better. I’m also way too cheap to buy slivered almonds, so I just used whole almonds that I chopped up and toasted. This would be even MORE awesome if I had added a little bit of vanilla. It wasn’t too sweet, and unlike instant oatmeal, you know what’s in it, none of that weird ingredient nonsense.  As an added bonus, its well past lunch time right now, and I’m not all that hungry. The whole grains in this made for a rib sticking, comforting, stay-with-you breakfast.
I had it with a container of fat and sugar free strawberry yogurt.
Calorie Totals:
3/4 c. Hot Cereal: 340 calories (PLUS Fiber (28% daily value), Calcium (21% dv), Iron (15% dv))
1 Container fat &Sugar free strawberry yogurt: 51 calories
Breakfast Total: 391 Calories
Last Sunday for dinner Yngve and I had Roast Pork with winter vegetables, that included yummy chunks of butternut squash. The recipe only called for half a squash, so yesterday I was faced with what to do with the other half. I decided to make a half-batch of Butternut Squash and Sage Soup from the WW cookbook. Yngve isn’t all too fond of butternut squash (or sweet potatoes or pumpkins)- he’ll eat it, but its not his favorite- but I LOVE them, so this soup is all MINE! It was an easy soup- just squash, onion, garlic, veggie stock, sage, black pepper and cayenne. It was supposed to have leek, but I didn’t have any, so I just added a little extra onion. No biggie. I also upped the garlic and the cayenne, so its nice and spicy! When the whole thing had finished cooking, I blitzed it with my immersion blender, and I was left with a smooth, creamy, deeply flavorful soup.  This will be lunch today (and probably tomorrow.)
I’ll have it with 2 tbs of light sour cream, and two toasted slices of homemade honey wheat bread made from a recipe in the WW cookbook. The sour cream gives it a little tang and a cooling element to offset the spicy cayenne, and I don’t know about you, but there is something immensely satisfying about dipping a toasty, crunchy chunk of bread into soup. This would have probably been good with a salad or something, but since as of writing this, I haven’t yet been to the grocery store- my fridge doesn’t include salad fixins.
1.5 cups Butternut Squash Soup: 192 Calories
2 Tbs Light Sour Cream: 40 calories
2 slices WW honey wheat bread: 135 calories
2 tsp/slice Flora light butter spread for my bread: 74 calories
Lunch total: 436
Daily total: 931
So this leaves me with about 620 calories for dinner. If I was more prone to snacking, I’d leave myself a little extra room for low-cal snacks here and there throughout the day. As it is, I tend to be good about that. I don’t buy cookies or chips or unhealthy, processed snacks. Instead, I’ll bake low-calorie versions of my favorite cookies for when I really want something to nibble on. The WW cookbook has some AWESOME cookie recipes, my favorite being Oatmeal-Cranberry cookies. I loooooooove me some cranberries.
Several hours after dinner I might want something to nibble on, so if I don’t have any cookies handy I’ll have some veg or a piece of toast as long as I can fit it into my calories for the day. Now, that doesn’t mean that if a low cal cookie or a slice of toast is going to put me over by like 50 calories I’m going to have an emotional breakdown over it. Heck no. So what, 50 calories. That’s like, sneezing or something.
Once again, being rigid and inflexible means an inability to cope when things don’t happen perfectly. Not every week is a perfect week for me. Not every day is a perfect day. However, weight loss and a healthy lifestyle are things that I’m committed to in the long-term, so I see this as being more of a marathon than a sprint. If I have a few extra calories today, no biggie- it will work itself out tomorrow- or I’ll take the long way to the grocery store instead of the short way. Beating myself up in the past got me nowhere as far as weight loss was concerned. It was all or nothing- I either followed something to the “t” without deviating, or I didn’t do it at all. A single slip up was reason to throw my hands up in defeat and failure. This is completely irrational behavior that I’ve learned to cope with. Its ok to be wrong or to slip up a little, we all do- just chalk it up to experience and keep on keepin’ on.
It’s Tuesday, which means we’re having fish for supper. I had some frozen trout filets in the freezer that I made, just cooked in the pan. I sprayed the pan with a little cooking spray, sprinkled the trout with my favorite seasoning blend, and cooked it a few minutes each side. Easy peasy.
As a side dish, we had Roasted Fennel Farro Salad, also from Eating Well. The recipe calls for farro or wheat berries- and whattyaknow- I have leftover wheat berries from breakfast that I simply reheated- so this was easy and just required roasting the vegetables and mixing them with the wheat berries. Bing Bam Boom. Dinner. I did adapt the recipe a little (because I can’t stop myself from adding more spice or more something to suit me) by adding a couple sliced garlic cloves and some chopped onion. The key to making this reaaaaaallly good is to let the veg get nice and caramelized in the oven. You want it to be pretty and browned, not just cooked through. I don’t generally like olives much, but in this dish they were perfect. Everything really compliments each other really well- the sweetness of the roasted veg with the white wine vinegar and the salty olives- plus the thyme was just yummy.  It was wonderful and I wish I had made more. I sliced a few cherry tomatoes in half to serve on the side as well.
1.5 servings Roasted Fennel Farro Salad: 319 calories 
1 ounce cherry tomatoes: 70 calories
1 3 oz portion of trout: 138 calories
Dinner Calorie Total: 527
Daily Total: 1354
I still have 197 calories remaining for the day. I could easily have a slice of toast with a little peanut butter honey or something for a snack later if I wanted. As it stands, I think I’m just going to have a cup of tea. :)So, that’s day one of what I eat. Tomorrow it’s vegetarian so for dinner we’re having “green pizza.” I hope everyone has enjoyed this, and maybe I’ll keep it up longer than a week if I get some positive feedback!