Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moscow Filet


Last night we went out to dinner with my dad & step-mom prior to our annual viewing of Jolly Holiday Lights.  There's nothing more magical to a car full of littles than Christmas lights as far as the eye can see.  But that has nothing to do with dinner...back to dinner.

We went to a local Russian restaurant that is simply wonderful & simply decadent.  We had appetizers (which I sampled moderately) & drinks (which I enjoyed reasonably) & I had a beautiful steak for dinner.  When the food came out, my dad jovially commented, "You're not going to put THAT on your blog."  Ha ha, dear Father, little did you know that in saying that you secured a starring role in today's musings.

I immediately responded, "Of course I am--why the heck not?"  (As a completely unrelated side note, Lincoln has taken to saying "What the hex?!?!" & I think it's too funny to make him stop.  Bad Mommy, so bad.)  I then proceeded to tell my dad exactly why I had ordered what I had (a lean center cut of beef stuffed with veggies with a plain baked potato & grilled asparagus) & that even in its opulence, there was no need for hiding food. 

A negative side effect of "going public" with a lifestyle change is the unwanted critiques that follow--from family, friends, strangers at the gym--everyone has an opinion on what & how much I should eat.  I've learned through this process that there are actually THREE topics from which one should remain clear in mixed or uncertain company: religion, politics, & food.  Food is so personal & so linked to our sense of home, safety, happiness, security, status--really everything important.  When people feel called to task on what they are eating (whether genuinely or just perceived), they get all up prickly & poufy like a spooked cat.  I'm no different.  I rushed to justify my meal choices when no defense was needed.

So, if you would like to know what I ate at Irina's last night, you can see it here.  It was delicious--& even more delicious as I ate the leftovers for lunch.  I'd love to say that fillet is a normal lunch food at Chez Sara, but in reality, I probably would have had some form of leftover out of the freezer, because that's how I really roll. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"We Were On a BREAK!"


Taking a page out of the iconic Ross/Rachel "Friends" break-up, I gave myself a break.  And made some bad choices.  Apparently I'm Ross in this analogy. 
  • I took a break from writing.
  • I took a break from tracking.
  • I took a break from Facebook (for the most part).
  • I took a break from the treadmill.
  • I took a break from beating myself up.
  • I took a break from guilt.
  • I took a break from accountability.
  • I took a break from psycho analysis.
  • I took a break from not eating fried foods.
  • I took a break from the four food groups.
  • I took a break from meal planning.
  • I took a break from cooking.
  • I took a break from measuring portions.
Today, break is over.  I'm not sad that I did it.  In fact, I'm kind of happy.  I failed miserably at my plan to get to goal weight by the New Year, but failure isn't the end of the road, it's the beginning of a new road.  I gained a couple of pounds, & will likely see more gain on Saturday, but that also isn't he end of the road.  I feel revitalized.  I feel refreshed.  And, oddly, after all of my largely unfettered eating, I feel...HUNGRY.  My body needs some real fuel.  Frosted sugar cookies don't have as much nutritive value as I had hoped. 

Last night I cooked a real dinner & this morning I ate a real breakfast.  This afternoon I'm going to go downstairs & get reacquainted with my treadmill & later today I will work up some menu plans for the coming week.  Break is over & it feels good!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Auld Lang Syne


As the year is winding down, I think we all find our selves reflecting (if only briefly) on the past year & waxing poetic about our hopes for the new one.  I've been writing up a storm over the last few days as I was furiously trying to finish two time sensitive writing projects.  Ever one to take a deadline to its most extreme application, I only just finished them both & am breathing a sigh of relief. 

The first, our Christmas letter, was unusually hard for me this year.  After finally coming up with the perfect picture, I realized I had to write a letter.  It's been an enormous year for New Sara, but it's been a pretty great one for the rest of the team as well.  Dave completed his first Half Ironman, Lincoln started school, Coraline honed the gift of small tasks.  Christmas letters are usually a 20 minute task on my Holiday To-Do List, but this year it took the better part of three afternoons to get it right.  Don't get me wrong, I still love doing it, but it was HARD this year.  The pic is forthcoming after my hard copies have a chance to make their way through the Postal Service...don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipients that are kind enough to read my ramblings here, as well.

The second (& what has really got me reflecting) was an essay for a contest.  On the heels of my $100 Weight Watchers winnings, I decided to ante up & enter a contest through "Ladies Home Journal" asking for essays on personal growth...yup it was that broad.  I took it as an opportunity to cobble together some thoughts on my journey as a whole & it was a nearly insurmountable task, but I am so glad I did it.  My chances of winning are slim to none, but when it all shakes out, I am so happy that I took the time to put "pen to paper" because now I have a moderately cohesive snapshot of what I've done to date.  It was worth the DAYS I put into it if only for me to read the final product & be reminded of how far I have come & how worth the effort it has been.  When someone else is announced as the winner, I'll post my essay here & I'll feel like I've won.  Looking back on the last two years makes me just googly with excitement over the prospect of the next 50+ & that is something that Old Sara would never have even thought of.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Moderation


With a lofty goal on the horizon & holidays licking at my heels, I had to do a little planning when it comes to holiday indulging.  I believe in the idea of moderation.  I have to have "permission" to eat what I want in order to avoid feeling like I "have to" eat what I'm "not allowed" to have.  It's all part of the big game I play with myself when it comes to framing my thoughts for success.  Here is what I came up with for a game plan:
  1. I will not drink my calories.  By this I don't mean that I won't have some wine or spirits (doesn't that sound festive!).  I'm talking about the specifically holiday drinks that are mean mean mean.  Cider & cocoa & the nog of eggs...what is nog, anyway?  The crazy thing about all of those drinks: I don't even really like them.  I know for some they are the epitome of holiday spirit.  For me they're just kind of out they go.  I'm saving my calories for the things I really want, which brings me to...
  2. I will only eat one cookie in a sitting.  Tomorrow night, my book club is having our annual cookie exchange.  I will eat one tomorrow night & then I will come home & put the whole lot of them into the freezer where I will be able to exercise a smidge of self control--since I will have to go out into the cold garage to get them.
  3. I will not eat treats that don't make me drool.  This time of year is FILLED with baked goods & confections--the loves of my life (or at least my taste buds).  But not all baked goods are created equal.  I will not eat something, no matter how lovingly prepared for me, if it's not making me weak in the knees with desire.  Everyone has special holiday treats to share.  I don't luurve them all.  Therefore I will not eat them all. 
  4. I will recognize that not every meal is a "special" occasion.  Just because it's got the stamp of "Holiday Party" on it, doesn't mean that it is actually a special event in the grand scheme of life.  Old Sara thought any Tuesday at Wallaby's was a special occasion & reason to whoop it up with a three course bonanza of fried fare.  While I've come a long way, it is so easy for me to slip into the mentality that something is "special" or a "treat" when really, the part that is special is the company or the setting...not the food.  Prioritize & budget.  My food is like currency.
As a reward for practicing moderation through all things holiday, I prepaid myself with a reward: a new dress.  I've always loved sweater dresses, but they were mighty unforgiving on my former figure.  I splurged on a soft grey cowl neck from Banana Republic that will be my permanent fixture for all things holiday this year.  I'm a big believer in having one great outfit in each new size as you work your way down & this is certainly mine.  When you look good, you feel good.  Hopefully when you feel good, you make good choices.

In completely unrelated news, The Treadmill has a name...but she hasn't had a proper christening or ribbon cutting, so I'm keeping her under wraps, but I have to say that it is perfect...not at all "unfortunate"...& that's all I'm going to say about that.  To be continued...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Treadmill


The Treadmill is a tricky mistress.  First off, & most importantly to me, I just can't find a suitable name for her. I've never had a "tricky mistress," so I don't know any names that would imbue the right feelings...the longing, the repugnance, the guilt, the elation (yes, this is really how my mind works & yes, I've been struggling to name my treadmill since Tuesday & yes, I've been wracking my brain to find just the right famous mistress or hooker & nothing sticks...yet).  I asked Dave & he's never had a tricky mistress either, a fact that makes me happy in real life but is useless to me now.

First Date Jitters
So, she's still just The Treadmill, but I think I love her...& hate her...& need her.  This morning was our 4th date.  Our previous three, we kept it on manual & I just tried to survive & not give into the intense desire to quit early.  Today I ventured into one of her programs.  I did 30 minutes of varying inclines at a pretty manageable pace.  It felt good.  The time actually went quickly, although some credit must go to an engaging episode of "Firefly." 

I've always been awful at "home fitness."  DVDs, video games, resistance, plyometrics...I make big plans & I ditch them after a couple of days.  Maybe I just needed to buy a DVD that was worth more than our car.  The investment is certainly a motivator.  I'm chalking it up as worth it because (don't look now) I'm looking forward to running & I'm getting value out of time that would have been wasted, or at least not used for exercise.  This was my first morning run, all of our other dates were during nap time!  Nap time!  That time of day when I half love/half loath the fact that I'm chained to the house.  What a thrill to be able to use that time for something that is just for me.  I'm still working to find the routine that works best, but I am very excited about the process & feel very good that this is a step in the right direction toward goal.  I think The Treadmill feels good, too.  I can only imagine all of the treadmills in the factory pining after their forever homes & hoping for a family that uses them for more than just a drying rack.  You are more than just a drying rack to me, my dear.  You are _____.  It will come...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deep Confession


I have a confession to's a pretty big one...

I don't like Trader Joe's. 

I know that's kind of sacrilege coming from someone who's into healthy eating, but here's my thing.  Yes, Trader Joe's has a lot of great stuff.  Yes, Trader Joe's has a lot of organics.  But you know what Trader Joe's has in spades?  A lot of processed organics.  Here's my take:

If I'm eating a BUNCH of processed foods, the USDA Certified Organic status of that processed food is the least of my concern.  Just because it's organic processed crap doesn't make it less crappy.  So I'll save my pennies & buy regular processed crap when the occasional mood strikes & stay away from Trader Joe's because it seems that I always come out of there with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups & Vegan Oatmeal Cookies wrapped in a Healthy Halo because they came from Trader Joe's.

Maybe I'm being unfair.  Maybe I shouldn't say that I don't like Trader Joe's, maybe I should say that I don't like how I check my better judgement at the door right next to the reasonably sized carts...which I also dislike. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lightening the Mood


And now for something a little less heavy...well actually it ended up being quite heavy...different kind of heavy...oh, just look at the pictures, you'll see what I mean.

For my son's birthday, I wanted to make him a workbench.  I scoured Pinterest for a couple of reference ideas & decided that the best route was to customize an existing piece of furniture.  We had a castoff, press board microwave cart that had been filling in as an entertainment center until we customized a dresser for that purpose.  Instead of donating the cart to Goodwill, we took this:
And turned it into this:

The best part: Lincoln played with it on his birthday for the WHOLE DAY STRAIGHT.  
And while this seems completely unrelated to the topic at hand, I will say this.  Old Sara lacked the confidence to take an idea (which she had scads of) & try to bring it to fruition.  New Sara has picked up a little self confidence that ripples beyond the shape of her rump to the shape of her goals.