Diet Update – Week One in the Books

I was so happy – and surprised – when I got on the scale yesterday morning and saw that I’ve lost 3 pounds since last Monday. It is such a relief to know that my cheating episode didn’t do any lasting damage! It’s also nice to know that the glass or two of wine I drink  every night will not keep me from losing weight.

I know I blamed my cheating episode on hormones, but after thinking about it a little more and analyzing the food I ate every day this week, I think the reason why I was so freaking hungry on Friday night was because I didn’t eat breakfast that morning.

My food, drink and exercise routine has been the same every day I’ve been on this diet:

9:30 – Morning coffee
11:00 – Half a grapefruit
11:00-2:00 – More coffee
2:00 – Gym
3:30 – Lunch
5:00 – Snack (orange or apple chips)
7:00 – Dinner
Rest of the night – Wine or margarita (sugar-free!), apple chips if I get hungry

Except for Friday, that is:

9:30 – 1:00 – Several cups of coffee
1:30 – Lunch
2:30 – Gym
4:00 – Lunch
5:00 – Orange
5:30 – Dinner #1
6:30 – Dinner #2
7:30-9:00 – Cake, tortilla shell, and spaghetti with avocado sauce

I’m pretty sure that not eating anything until 1:30 pm is what f*cked me up for the rest of the day. Not that half a grapefruit is a lot of food, but maybe it’s enough to keep my blood sugar level up and keep my body from going into starvation mode? I wish I knew more about the way the body works, but I don’t. But these past three days I have made sure to eat my grapefruit by 11, and everything’s been good. So I’m just gonna keep doing that.

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My First Diet Cheat – I Couldn’t Help it, I was Hungry, Okay??

I did so good on my diet this week. I went to the gym every day, and I was able to stay below 1,000 calories. When I weighed myself on Thursday, I was down two pounds, which is nothing in the scheme of things but was just enough to keep me motivated.

Then yesterday happened. When I got home from the gym at 4 pm I was starving, even though I had eaten chicken and an egg before I worked out.  Over the next three hours I drank a ton of water and ate healthy, diet-appropriate things (a big bowl of lettuce, an orange, chicken and celery, and beef and cabbage), but nothing was filling me up, and no matter what I ate, I was craving carbs like you wouldn’t believe.

Then I looked at my Period Tracker app on my phone. I love this app and use it quite a bit, mainly when I’m extra emotional and I can’t figure out why. I open my app, it tells me my period is coming in a few days, and that makes me feel better. I mean, it’s nice to know there’s a biological, physiological reason for why I’m being such a crazy bitch or crying for no good reason. Also, I get pretty severe headaches (I went so far as to get an MRI to rule out a brain tumor, that’s how bad they are), and once I started tracking them in my app I discovered that the intensity and frequency of the headaches are tied to my time of the month. Again, good to know.

So I decided to put this insane hunger down in my app for future reference, and when I looked at the calendar, lo and behold, it turned that yesterday I was ovulating. (TMI? Sorry.) Discovering this was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it was nice to know there was a reason for this hunger. On the other hand, it gave me an excuse to cheat. “Rory, your body is telling you what it needs, and right now it needs carbs!”

So I gave in. I opened the fridge and what was the first thing I saw? Leftover birthday cake. A Chantilly cake, from Whole Foods. I should have thrown it out on Monday, but like I said yesterday, I HATE throwing out food, and I figured Dave or his son could it eat. There was a tiny piece left, and I ate it. And it was good. So good.

Problem was, it didn’t fill me up OR curb my carb craving. Back to kitchen I went. This time I spotted a bag of tortillas shells. Without a second thought I grabbed one. I spread some salsa and sour cream on it and devoured it in less than two minutes.

After the tortilla I felt somewhat satisfied, but now I was in cheat mode, with the mindset of “I’m already cheating, so I’d better get it all in now, because tomorrow I’m back on the diet.” So I went back to the kitchen a third time. This time I settled on spaghetti and avocado sauce, which I had made last Saturday. There was a tiny bit left (again, I was saving it for Dave or his son), so I heated it up and ate it. It was delicious. (Which was a surprise, because I’ve always read that avocados are “best if served right away.” This was a week old and was still good.)

That was the end of my cheating spree. In hindsight it wasn’t TOO bad, mainly because the cake and spaghetti portions were so small – about a handful of each. It could have been much worse (it probably would have been, if I hadn’t eaten all that healthy food earlier in the evening). I don’t feel guilty or anything. It was one misstep, and now I just have to get back on track.

 

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How to Reduce the Fat in Ground Beef – and Save Money Too!

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When it comes to deciding whether or not food is still good to eat, some people live by the motto: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

I am not one of those people.

No, I’m more of a “smell test” type of person – if I’m able to sniff something without automatically recoiling at the smell, then it’s still good. Expiration dates are just a guideline for me – I have been known to eat things that are wayyyy past their expiration date, to the horror (and disgust?) of my friends. I just hate wasting food!

Which is why when Dave told me I should throw out two and a half pounds of ground beef that was in our fridge because it was a week old and a little brownish, my response was something along the lines of “Bish, you crazy.” On this diet with its super small portions, two and a half pounds of beef is enough for at least EIGHT meals.

The meat in question

When I went to cook the beef the next day, I was annoyed to see that it was only 73% lean. 73%! (That means 27% fat, in case you don’t know.) I didn’t even know they made it so fatty. For a moment I didn’t know what to do – since I’m on a diet, there’s no way I could justify eating beef that’s less than 90% lean. (Even if I wasn’t on a diet, 73% still seems pretty bad.) But then I remembered something I had read on a bulletin board earlier that day:

“It’s harder for me to find the very lean [ground beef], so I just crumble and brown a portion of the more fatty stuff and then I run it under hot water. Gets all the excess fat off [and] it’s a little bit cheaper than getting the super lean stuff.”

I headed back to my computer and googled “rinsing ground beef” and read a little bit about it. The thing that stuck out most was that by rinsing ground beef with hot water, you can change your beef from 80% lean to over 90% lean. That’s a huge difference! Sometimes my supermarket doesn’t even have anything above 85%. And when it does, the price per pound is sooo much more expensive. So you could really cut a lot of money off your grocery bill if you buy meat that’s less lean and then rinse the fat off.

I watched this video just to see the whole thing in action, but even though the video was good, the woman drains the fat down her sink, which I know you shouldn’t do. So I googled a bit more and read something that advised rinsing the beef into a pot and then straining the fat from the pot (can’t find the link).

So that’s what I did. And when I finally ate my old, rinsed beef later that night, it tasted delicious!

This wouldn’t work in all situations, like if you’re cooking hamburgers, but for taco beef, chili, and things like that, it seems to me to be a great idea. Anyway, I was really impressed by this whole thing, so I decided to share it.

 How to Rinse Ground Beef

1. Brown the meat thoroughly.

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2. Prepare two pots – one empty with a strainer and one with super hot water. (If the faucet of your kitchen sink is long enough, then you’ll only need one pot. Unfortunately I have the worst designed sink in the world. It does get extremely hot though.)

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3. Slowly pour the hot water over the beef.

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That’s all there is to it! Cook with your beef as you normally would. When the hot fatty water finally cools down, strain the fat off the top and throw it in the garbage. The rest of the water can be dumped down the sink.

You’re welcome! :-)

Look at all that fat! Gross.

 

Look at all that fat. Gross.

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#DietStartsToday

I’ve been hashtagging #DietStartsTomorrow on my fattening food pics for so long now that it feels weird to say “diet starts today”! But it does start today. Started this morning, actually, with half a grapefruit for breakfast. Right now I’m eating tuna (no mayo) and half a cucumber; for dinner, I’ll have ground beef and sauteed onions.

I’ve decided to do a modified version of the diet I lost a bunch of weight on a few years ago. That was the HCG diet: you eat 500 calories per day and you take these (appetite suppressing) drops a few times a day so you’re not really hungry. For the first few weeks, your food options are extremely limited: you get two lean proteins, two fruits (only apples, oranges, strawberries, or grapefruits), and two vegetables (no corn, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, peppers, carrots, or mushrooms) a day, and NO sugars, fats, or oils of any kind.

Anyone would lose weight following this diet – after all, you’re hardly eating anything! The drops just make it bearable.

Since I’m not taking the drops this time, I’ve upped my allowed calories to 1,000 per day, and I’m going to expand my vegetable options to include carrots and peppers. (Mainly because I have a bunch of those in my fridge and I don’t want to waste them.) I’ll have to increase my portion sizes a bit so I can hit 1,000 calories instead of 500, but otherwise I’m going to follow the heart of the diet and stick to the “two two and two” rule.

The hardest part for me will be at night, when Dave and I are sitting down watching tv and his son is asleep and I’ll feel like having a glass of wine or a yummy margarita. The margarita is out of the question, of course, since it’s pure sugar, but I MAY allow myself a glass of wine, depending on how many calories I have left after I eat dinner. We’ll see.

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I’m Finally Coming Out of a Mardi Gras-induced Haze

I survived my first Mardi Gras! Now that all is said and done, I can definitely say that I’m a fan. At first I wasn’t sure how much I really liked it, because of the whole “begging” and rejection aspect of the parades, but now I see that I was taking it way too seriously (the rejection part, that is). Overall it was a really fun time, with GREAT music. And it’s crazy the way everything just stops down here and the entire city embraces it.

My favorite part of the parade:

I also managed to survive my birthday – barely. I was out watching the Mardi Gras parades all day, and I ended up getting HAMMERED. It was unintentional – I forgot to eat anything and was drinking chilled Fireball out of Dave’s sister’s cup like it was a mixed drink. Stupid. I ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor that night. Sigh…not a good look, I know, but eh, what can you do? (That is rhetorical – I know there are many things I could do to avoid having to sleep on the bathroom floor. I could stop drinking. Or drink less. Or remember to eat. Or drink water. Etc.)

And in case you’re wondering, I did NOT start my diet the day after Mardi Gras. I now see that that plan was wayyyy too ambitious. For one thing, even though Mardi Gras ended on Tuesday, I didn’t start to feel normal again until Thursday, and I definitely wasn’t in a diet mindframe. Also, I have birthday dinner plans with Dave’s family this weekend, so there was no point in starting on Wednesday.

So as always, diet starts Monday. I wanna lay out a meal plan for the first week just so I have something to follow. Sticking to a diet is so much easier for me when I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat!

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How to Make Sugar-free Powdered Sugar

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I was pretty surprised when I learned that you can actually make powdered sugar! It was something that had never crossed my mind, but one day I was looking up sugar-free glaze recipes and I stumbled upon this page and it was like WHOA…MY MIND IS BLOWN.

Making powdered sugar is SO SIMPLE! All you do is put sugar in some type of blender or food processor (I used my coffee/nut grinder) and pulse for a minute or so. And if you can do it with sugar, you can also do it with sugar substitutes!

Note – make sure you clean out your coffee grinder thoroughly – otherwise you’ll have icky little black bits in your powdered sugar.

All you need to make sugar-free powdered sugar.

 

Perfectly powdered sugar.

 

Oops, maybe not.

 

Let’s try this again, shall we?

 

Not bad but still a little grainy.

 

Just a few more pulses.

 

All done!

All done!

 

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The perfect New Orleans day

Yesterday was such a great day! After I did a little work in the morning, Dave, his son, and I went to Dat Dog for lunch. It’s one of my favorite places to eat in New Orleans. They have all different types of sausages, hot dogs, etc., and as many different types of toppings as you want, all included. It definitely isn’t diet-friendly, but I decided to stop thinking about my diet until after my birthday and Mardi Gras, remember?

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I get the same thing every time I eat there: Smoked bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard (yesterday I added bacon because, well, it’s bacon). This meal always reminds me of when I was in Australia. Which is weird, considering I’ve been to Germany. But it reminds me of this German place Di and I ate at when we went to the Kuranda rain forest. It’s just a nice, happy memory of a beautiful day on vacation.

Kuranda

Anyway…after Dat Dog we went to the French Quarter, which is a perfectly charming place to be in when it’s daytime and everyone isn’t completely hammered. For me, yesterday’s walk around the French Quarter was all about the music: first there was Dixie-type music coming from the Steamship Natchez, then there was a brass band playing in Jackson Square, and then…well, I don’t actually know what the next two types of music were. I’ve been calling one “gypsy fiddle music” and the other one “hippy fiddle music.” They might be bluegrass but I’m not sure lol.

Sighhh…it was just such an awesome day. And the weather was so beautiful! It was in the mid or upper 60s and the sun was out. I was hot in a t-shirt and hoodie, and I couldn’t help but think to myself: “Wow, all my friends and family in NY are freezing their butts off, and I would be too if I hadn’t moved!”

After the French Quarter we went home. We had been debating going to the parades and had decided against it, but then one of Dave’s friends called asking if we were going and we were like “Eff it, let’s go.” We met up with a bunch of his friends and I ended up having such a good time. I stuck to beer and I didn’t get drunk, and today I don’t feel like crap. Success!

Below are videos of the music I heard in the French Quarter. I hope they put you in as good a mood as they did me!

 

 

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