Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weigh-in no. 15: The "It's really real" edition

So this past week has been spent trying to get back on my feet and in the groove of everyday, normal life after the disaster that was last week. 

I'm pretty much back to normal, but I have noticed that I still have a pretty short fuse and delight still takes a lot to get to.  But the self-doubts have stopped; quitting hasn't been seriously thought about again; the sinus headaches have been mastered with drugs (mostly allergy meds to clear out the crud); and work on the dissertation has continued with some new books I've discovered and have enjoyed reading.

To be honest, I still don't know what it was.  I'd say it was a combination of things, really.  Pressure about the future, the weather getting me down, the internal work that comes along with this weight loss journey, physical ailment, etc.  I don't think it was one big thing that I've been unable to identify.  I don't think it was me trying to sabotage myself, although I heard a voice from my past (my Bosnia colleagues who read this will recognize it) suggesting that perhaps I was "deluding myself" and that perhaps I was "mired in self-deception."  Whatever.  Maybe it's true, but I usually know deep down when I'm trying to hide or convince myself of something, and I wasn't feeling it this time.

Regardless, I'll be on the lookout in the future.  Through this journey, I'm finding that I'm delving even more into my personality, about who I am, about what makes me tick and what stresses me out (which inevitably leads to the downward spiral, I think).  It'll continue to be a process of figuring out how to channel that knowledge into learning how to keep at bay or defeat these periods of negativity when they do arise.

One thing that helped this week was that in doing Week 3 of C25K, I realized that I can run for 3 minutes straight without stopping  (at 4.8 mph no less!).  As far as I can remember, that's the longest I've ever run in my life.  And I know it's not much and that I will continue to break that record over the coming weeks, but it felt good all the same.  It reminded me that I'm not a failure, that I have set out to do this thing that seemed impossible and I'm doing it....and that change comes in steps taken, either by walking or running but taken nonetheless.

And being out of the 3s is real.  I've yet to celebrate.  I had decided that I would clean out my closet, getting rid of everything that's too big for me now.  I think it'll be meaningful and helpful, but it is still cleaning out a closet, so I have to psych myself up to consider it a celebration rather than a chore.  :o)  But hey, it's a good problem to have so I'm not complaining.

And without further ado, here is the reality:

Weigh-in no. 15 (-0.8)

Last week:    299.6
This week:    298.8      
Loss of           - 0.8
Total Loss     - 28.2

I still half-expected to see a 3 this week for some reason.  The little self-doubting voice seeking affirmation that it was right was wrong.  That little bit of triumph was needed this morning.  .8 lbs isn't huge, but it takes me 1.2 lbs away from being back in the 3's, so I appreciate it.  This week also included Thanksgiving, jaffa cake cookies at work, and some other less-than-stellar food choices.  So there's no complaints here this week.

It's like Fit Jayme is saying, 'Right.  It's confirmed.  You're now in the 200s.  Let's get on with it."

And so we shall.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weigh-in no. 14 (belated)

This week was crap.  Absolute crap.

Well, I should correct myself.  Monday and Tuesday, I was fine.  Going about my business, getting stuff done, just fine.  But I started feeling myself going downhill on Wednesday - and I can't really say that I've fully recovered yet, although last night (Thanksgiving dinner) was nice.

"What's up?" you may ask.

Hell if I know.


Remember those posts a few weeks back where I talked about being in a funk?  Yeah.  It's back.  With a vengence.  But the strange thing is that my eating hasn't been out of control like the previous times.  I've been eating fine, if not better.

Yet somehow, I convinced myself this week that I wasn't going to lose anything.  That I'm never going to finish my Ph.D.  That I'll never find a job when I'm finished.  Poor me.  Everything sucks.  I suck.

What in the world??!!  I didn't realize just how much I spiralled into this whirlwind of self-doubt until I caught myself on Friday thinking - somewhat seriously, I should add - about quitting this whole losing weight business.  And as soon as I realized what was going on (which I have to say was after a few minutes), I mentally pulled the reins and said, "WHOA!!!" 

Of course, I had to start picking it apart: Why do I feel this way?  Why did such a thought enter my mind?  What's going on that I suddenly start doubting myself so strongly? 

I still don't know for certain, to be completely honest.  I have thought about it and tried to figure it out, but I just can't diagnose it.  Some options are:
  • The lack of daylight: the dark days get to me here.  I already know that.  I've been saying I was going to get a SAD light ever since I moved to Northern Ireland and I still haven't done it. (mental note: Time to finally do what you've been saying for the last 4 years!)
  • I think I have inherited my mother's propensity for sinus headaches, related to drops in air pressure, so when the weather is bad (which can be most of the winter here! yippee), my head really hurts and pretty much zaps me of any energy and good will.  They've gotten worse as I've gotten older - my forehead hurts, my eyes hurt, my teeth hurt, my cheek bones hurt, it hurts for my glasses to be on my nose.  Sad times.  And I've had a pretty consistent headache since Wednesday.
  • I started up on Twitter and am following lots of other weight loss bloggers (which is cool), but I found myself getting frustrated and a little overwhelmed by many of the posts, checking in with details about what they ate, how many miles they ran, asking each other how they're going to keep healthy over the holidays, etc.  It made me wonder: Is this all they're about or am I doing this wrong?  Should I be consumed with how many calories I ate today or whether or not I can have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?  I don't think so.  But it made me wonder if I am just a poser or if I'm really dedicated to this whole thing.
  • I had two applications that needed to get done this week, on top of everything else.  One was for a research fellowship at Cambridge, which I'm sure there'll be tons of competition for and I'll be surprised if I get (but you have to start somewhere, eh?), and here I am saying to myself, "You're not a Cambridge scholar.  You won't fit in there.  You have no real publications, just stuff you've done for organizations.  Some Cambridge scholar's going to come up to you and ask about Aquinas' take on the theology of transubstantiation or Hegelian ethics and you're not going to have a clue." That kind of stuff.  And there's two more I'm looking at - another Cambridge one and one at Oxford - along with whatever other opportunities arise in the coming months.  And I still think I'm not good enough.
So yeah.....a bit of a pity party.  A whining session.  Woe is me.

So yesterday (Sunday), I decided to just try to ignore it and get on with things.  I had friends who were coming over for Thanksgiving dinner (we decided to celebrate early to suit everyone's schedules) and so I had a full day of cooking to do, etc.  I debated about weighing-in and decided to go ahead with it, but I was in no hurry as I was convinced that it wasn't going to say anything different - or it would show a gain - as had been the case earlier in the week.  I had convinced myself I had failed.  So I went upstairs after prepping the vegetables, dreading what was coming.

And here's what the scale said:

Weigh-in no. 14 (-2.2)

As Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"  I got off and got back on the scale 5 times.  I didn't believe it.  Never once did it put up a number that started with a 3.

I almost cried, but was still too shocked.  I still didn't believe it, really....and to be honest, even now, I wouldn't be surprised if I go up there right now and weigh and it says like 305.  Would it?  No.  But my state of mind is such that I expect the worst.  So because of that, I haven't really celebrated.  I haven't told anyone (you, my readers, are the first to know.....again, because I'm reluctant to believe it's true).  I have no idea what's wrong with me.

But whatever.  Weighing 5 times pretty much confirms it, I think.  So here's the math:

Last week:    301.8
This week:    299.6      
Loss of           - 2.2
Total Loss     -27.4

As you can tell, I'm feeling distinctly unsentimental about saying goodbye to the 3s.  Maybe I'll want to celebrate and do something meaningful in a few days when I'm out of this god-awful funk and accept the reality that I no longer weigh over 300 lbs.  But for now, this is where I am.

Now I'm off to hunt for a SAD light......

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

6 Weight-loss Myths vs. Facts

Now, for that myths vs. facts thing I was talking about on Sunday with my weigh-in.  First, let me say up front that this is not me being preachy or cocky - I know I've still got a LOOOONGGG way to go.  Instead, this is me sharing what I've learned with my recent experiences.  I'm sure some will want to debate with me on some of this, but I do think it's important to talk about this stuff since the area of weight-loss is fraught with lots of rules, guilt, myths, quick fixes, elusive goals, etc.  There's so much that holds people back....and I'm hoping some of this releases others to do what they have been wanting to do.

By the way, in case it needs to be said:

* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, or any other type of health professional.  My advice here is solely based on my own experience and should not be taken as professional advice. *

1.  You have to exercise yourself to death to lose weight.

image via Newfie Bullet on Flickr
Myth.  You don't.  In fact, technically you don't have to exercise at all as long as your calorie intake is less than what your base metabolic rate of calorie burn is per day (although I wouldn't recommend it).  Instead, on average, I've been doing about 3 days a week - sometimes 4, sometimes 2 - and I'm doing about 60-90 minutes at a time (depending on if I'm doing only cardio or cardio and weights).  So, that's about 3-4 hours a week.  But this past week (when I lost 2.4 lbs), I worked out twice - Monday and Tuesday.  The rest of the week, I was at home working on my research, sitting on my ass at my computer mostly.  And I still lost more this week than I have done on the recent weeks I've worked out 4 days a week.  So it's not all about exercise.  Will I still try for 4 days?  Absolutely - because I'm learning that working out isn't so much about calorie burn (although that certainly helps) as it is about building strength, confidence, endurance and flexibility.  What then does that point to?  See number 2....

2.  You can eat what you want if you're exercising.

Myth.  While it might be true for some people who are at their maintain weight, it's not the case if you want to lose weight.  What these past few weeks have taught me is that how much I lose is more related to what I put in my mouth instead of what calories I spend in exercise.  Do I burn more when I exercise?  Yes, of course.  And if I had made it to the gym every day AND ate like I did, I'm sure the loss recorded last week would have been larger.  But cutting back on what I ate did the trick.  Like I said on week 12 (and Skinny Emmie said a few weeks ago), eating too much of the right stuff is still too much.  Which leads me to number 3...

3.  You don't have to eat healthy to lose weight.

image via kfisto on Flickr
Fact.  When the rubber hits the road, it's about calorie intake vs. calorie burn to lose weight.  (When you cut back on carbs or fat, you also, usually inadvertently cut back on calories, so.....)  What those calories are made of does not matter.  If you don't believe me, ask the nutritionist who lost 27 lbs eating Twinkies and Little Debbie snack cakes.  Despite being either terribly exciting or terribly scary, a diet of only Twinkies, Swiss Cake Rolls or Wagonwheels will make you lose weight as long as you still eat fewer calories than you burn.  Do I recommend it?  No.  But it does prove a point.  And while those (including myself) who are big on the clean-eating, eradication of processed foods, corn sugars, and the like are right in many of their assertions, eating 2,500 calories a day of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and lean meats will not allow you to lose weight like an 1,800 calories a day diet of snack cakes and cookies would.  Crazy, huh?  The Twinkie diet guy has also noted that his blood pressure and cholesterol decreased as his weight decreased - instead of going up, as he had expected, because of what he was eating.  So it may be that sometimes those conditions are related to weight and not diet (although I think there's still work to be done to cement this idea).  So, eat your chocolate if you want it - but count what you eat in your caloric intake for the day, take a vitamin and make adjustments. Oh, and remember fruits and veggies are better for you in other ways with regards to nutrition, possible cancer-fighting properties, don't toss them out for Ho-Hos and Ding-Dongs just yet, as tempting and exciting as they may be....which brings me to number 4....

4.  Eating healthy is boring.

image via stinky_harriet on Flickr
Myth.  It requires thought, planning, and a willingness to cook.  If that is boring for you, then, yeah, maybe this is true.  But I have to say that over the last 13-14 weeks, I've eaten really well.  There have been no boring carrot sticks and celery stalks (ick!) in my lunches or dinners.  And I find that I am appreciating food more rather than just shoving it down my gullet.  Special occasions are even more special because they're celebrated with food I don't have that often.  For example, Jim and I would have a dinner fairly frequently of cheese, salamis and other charcuterie, chutneys, olives, and wine.  We haven't done that since we started this journey, but I find I'm really looking forward to that as a treat perhaps over Christmas when friends are here.  And I know you may say, "Yeah, but Jayme, you live with a brilliant chef.  It's so much easier for you," but you know what?  Since we've started this, I've been doing most (but not all) of the grocery shopping and cooking.  Sure, Jim's there as a resource for ideas and how-to-make-a-healthier-roux, but what we're doing is nothing better than anyone else could do.

5.  You have to load up on protein in the morning for breakfast. 

the toast is buttered here...but not usually
Myth and Fact.  I say this one is both because while it's not true for me, others have said that it is true for them and I believe them.  I've talked about this before, but I find that I am much more satisfied and stay fuller longer with a good bowl of cereal or oatmeal than with a couple eggs and a piece of toast (281 calories, 16.5g fat, 13.3 carb, 16.5 protein).  I can't explain why this is, but I have tested it and know it to be true for me.  My favorite breakfast right now is a bowl of oatmeal made with skim milk, and garnished with fruit (fresh or dried), nuts and honey, with a piece of toast (498 calories, 14.6g fat, 79.8 carb, 10.2 protein).  Carb-heavy, I know, but it keeps me going most days until lunch (around 1-2pm) without any problem, even if I go to the gym in the morning.  Is it because it's higher in carbs and calories?  Maybe, but since I don't have to have any snacks between breakfast and lunch, I think it evens out.  But it's significantly lower in protein, which is what this myth/fact was about.

5.  You have to eat like this for the rest of your life.

Fact.  For those of us who have struggled with weight for years - and I'm not talking about someone who is 5 lbs overweight - how you eat to lose weight needs to be something you can sustain for the rest of your life.  Going on a diet for a few weeks and then going back to eating what you were before you started doesn't work.  Your friendly fat cells that you thought you had said goodbye to will come back to keep you company and will bring their friends, extended family and all their luggage with them.  This is about sustainable life change, folks, so make changes that you can stick with.  No shortcuts.  No punchbacks.

(and I have to say that this is still the scariest part of it for me, 'cuz I do loves me grub.)

6.  Drinking more water helps you lose weight.

image via bebe no on Flickr
Total Fact.  How the ins-and-outs of it works, I have no idea....but drinking more water helps your body lose water weight.  It helps you to feel fuller.  You feel better.  Your skin looks better.  It flushes out your system.  It's a must.   I know it's a drag for some.........but ya gotta do it.  Cut out the soda - even if it's diet soda - and fruit juices (which are high in calories and sugars) and drink water.  Your body will thank you.

And you'll burn more calories by walking back and forth to the bathroom more often too, so it's a win-win.  :o)

 Question:  What myths have you busted in your journey?  What rules have you defied?  Or what tried-and-true advice have you stuck with?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weigh-in no. 13

The lucky...or unlucky...number 13 has arrived.  Personally, 13 has no effect on me.  I'm not superstitious, although I do occasionally knock on wood just to be on the safe side.  :o)

Regardless, I've been wondering throughout the week what today would hold and I have to say I was quite surprised....

Weigh-in no. 13 (-2.4)

Last week:    304.2
This week:    301.8      
Loss of           - 2.4
Total Loss     -25.2

YAY!!  I've lost more than twice as much as I did last week!  Woohoo!!  FINALLY!!  It's still not the 4+ lbs that I lost in the early weeks, but that's ok.  It's more than I have been doing in recent weeks, so that's a winner for me.  And it also means that saying goodbye to the 3's is a very likely possibility for next week.  Related to this, I have some thoughts I want to share about it all - about what I've noticed to be myths vs. facts in relation to weight loss.  I'll post those in the next day or two so be on the lookout for it if you're interested in reading.

I said last week that I would do another taking-of-the-measurements thing.  So I've put it all into my trusty excel spreadsheet for ease of viewing and here are the results:

*there's no need to squint - click on the image to see a bigger version*
So I've lost 25.2 lbs so far and have lost 20 inches off my body.  That boggles my mind.  The biggest loss so far has been in my hips, with 7 inches gone (11.29%!), but I am surprised at how much I've lost in my neck as well considering its relative size (9.3%).

The measurements on my arms and legs aren't moving as much because of working out, I'm sure.  I can feel them getting firmer as I'm building muscle, so whatever fat loss is happening there is getting replaced somewhat.  I'm sure it'll catch up, although I suspect movement in those areas will always be a bit slower.

In exercise news, I have completed (with gusto, I might add) Week 2 of C25K and will be moving on to Week 3 in the coming week.  I'm taking my time with these.  My blogging friend Mary at a small loss has been kicking ass and progressing like a wild woman on C25K and I'm a little jealous but extremely happy for her.  But she's also carrying less around than I am (go Mary!!), so I have to give myself a break and do what's best for me and not what others are doing.  In the end, it's about getting the heart rate up and increasing endurance - not about being able to run a 5K next week.  So, I'm happy and satisfied with where I am.  The 5K will come.  Patience, grasshopper.

And this week has been study week within the Trinity College system, so I've had most of the week off to spend on my research, which was nice.  Step by step, it'll get done.  Malo po malo ("little by little" in Bosnian).  Which I guess is the theme for life for me these days, eh?

How's your week been?  Any new, exciting or revelatory experiences to share?

Friday, November 12, 2010

What are your food must-haves?

It's getting time to go grocery shopping again.  Jim's been out of town this week and so I've been just trying to eat (or not eat, as the case may be) what is left in the fridge before I break down and have to do another shop.  Money's been a little tight the last couple weeks since we had to shell out for Piggy's little soiree with pancreatitis, so I've been avoiding the expenditure for as long as possible.

Anyway, I've been thinking about my grocery lists and what gets written down as soon as I realize we're out.  Bear in mind that we hardly ever eat out anymore, so pretty much everything we eat these days is what I buy on our every-10-days-or-so shop.  But what do I always make sure we have on hand to make sure we eat well and healthily? 

our fridge after a shop a couple weeks ago
  • fruit of all descriptions (bananas, apples, grapes, oranges or clementines, grapefruit + whatever else might be on sale or in season such as raspberries, strawberries, cherries, etc.)
  • vegetables of all descriptions (tomatoes, some type of lettuce/salad, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, courgette/zucchini (which is a favorite!!), savoy cabbage or some other green, sweet potatoes, onions, avocado and fresh garlic + whatever else might be on sale or in season)
  • 1% or skim milk
  • lowfat greek yogurt (it's so versatile!)
  • lowfat cheddar cheese
  • laughing cow light cheese
  • parmesan cheese 
  • feta or goat's cheese
  • string cheese for snacks
  • wholegrain bread
  • wholegrain tortillas
  • canned black beans 
  • canned pinto beans
  • lowfat hummus
  • olive oil 
  • sea salt
  • spices (cumin, chili, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, peppercorns, curry, etc.)
  • fresh herbs (basil, cilantro/coriander, thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • roasted chicken or turkey breast for sandwiches 
  • parma ham
  • light mayo
  • mustards (wholegrain and english)
  • Our fav - Moroccan cup-a-soup
  • oatmeal
  • Special K
  • Cocoa Krispies
  • cous cous
  • pasta (wholewheat or regular - Jim's not a fan of the wholewheat, but I am)
  • tomato marina or arrabiata
  • fruit jam (either homemade or store-bought for oatmeal, yogurt or toast)
  • extra lean ground beef
  • turkey and/or chicken breast
  • canned tuna steaks
  • eggs
  • fish (either smoked mackrel, canned salmon or fresh fish)
  • almonds
  • walnuts 
    Ryvita crackers
  • dried apricots
  • cup-a-soup (Ainsley Harriot does some great ones!)
  • Ryvita crackers
  • flour
  • yeast
  • sugar (preferably all-natural cane and fair-trade if I can afford it)
  • lemon and lime juice
  • honey
  • Quavers in single serving bags 
+ whatever else might be needed for particular recipes that week...

What do I no longer buy that I used to always have on hand?
  • peanut butter (which I still love and could buy lowfat, but I still eat WAY too much of if it's around)
  • butter and margarine (unless it's required for catering we're doing or baking)
  • biscuits or cookies
  • chocolate
  • canned soups (Jim just whips up a pot of soup for me on Sunday evenings from whatever veggies we have that need to be used so I can take it to lunch during the week.  He made a LOVELY curried parsnip soup for me last week.  It helps having a brilliant chef in the house.)
  • 2% milk
  • cream/half-and-half
  • white bread
  • potato chips (we saw last weekend what happens when they're around!)
  • fruit juice 

    I'm excited this weekend because I may have found us a new (well, new to us) freezer!  We've been without one for a few months now since our last one died and we lost everything in it.  :o(  And boy did it take time to adjust to not having one!  But now I can save money again on meat by buying it when it's on clearance and freezing it.  Hopefully it'll be delivered Sunday night and we'll be able to store food and plan even more economically, while still sustaining our healthier eating lifestyle change.

    Question:  What are your must-haves?  What do you always keep on hand? What are your go-to ingredients for meals?

      Monday, November 8, 2010

      Learning to appreciate my body

      So, today I whipped Week 2 of C25K.  
      I got through it every time last week, but it was a haul and I was knackered by the end.

      But today, it was mine.
      I owned it.
      I kicked its ass.

      At a pace of 3.4/4.7 mph instead of the 3.3/4.3 I'd been doing.  
      Not a HUGE change, but significant enough.

      Which was surprising after having not been to the gym in 4 days
      (didn't make it in time before it closed yesterday)
      and feeling pretty blah and stiff the last 3.  
      Also in the last 3-4 days, I've been in a funky mood and didn't know why.
      Now I do.
      My body and my emotions are now used to the release of exercise. 

       As soon as I got on the treadmill today, I felt my body say only what can be described as "C'mon, let's go!"  
      And so we went.

      And after running, I biked 3 miles.

      And after that I did weights where, among other things,
      I leg-pressed 50kg (110 lbs) for 3 sets of 20.
      And it was pretty easy.  
      So next time, I'll put it up to 55kg (121 lbs).

      I'm getting stronger.  I'm getting faster.

      My body doesn't cooperate in some ways, but it excels and surprises me in others.  

      My endurance is building.  I'm running more than I ever have before. 

      And here's the kicker:

      I enjoy it.

      I'm the girl that hated being hot and sweaty and avoided it at all costs.  
      I hated exerting myself for exertion's sake because I always felt weak, fat, and useless at how little I could do compared to others and whatever standards I had set up for myself.

      But I'm strong.
      I'm getting toned.
      I can go further and longer than I could 12 weeks ago.
      Hell, I can further and longer than I did last week.

      Today, Fit Jayme triumphed.

      Sunday, November 7, 2010

      Weigh-in no. 12

      So, another week.......another weigh-in.

      Weigh-in no. 12 (-1.0)
      Last week:    305.2
      This week:    304.2      
      Loss of           - 1.0
      Total Loss     -22.8

      1 lb.

      It's a loss.  I am thankful.

      *grumble, grumble* 

      Since I'm all about full disclosure here, I should say that I am trying hard to maintain that thankfulness despite being irritated that it's only 1 pound. I know slow and steady is better.  I know that my success should not be determined by the amount on the scale.  I know all that.  But just 1 lb is an indicator of other things that have been incubating over the last few weeks.

      Did I count calories this week like I said I would last week?  No.  And at the risk of sounding like I'm making excuses, I find myself reluctant to go back to that.  One of the reasons I stopped was because it's really difficult to do the counting calories thing when you rarely eat stuff that's packaged or has it already worked out for you.  Since we cook so much with a variety of ingredients, I've been guessing or keeping a rough estimate in my head.  When we prepare something, it would require me to sit down, look it all up, do the math for each ingredient, divide it into servings, etc....and up to this point, I just haven't felt like I had the time as it would probably take me 30 minutes or so to do all that each day and I don't want to be obsessively counting up everything I eat.  I want to feel good about what I eat, about the decisions that I make, etc.  I want to have a good relationship with food and I just don't think counting every calorie is a good way to go about that if I can help it (but I acknowledge that some people - probably including me - still need to do it).

      However, as the blogger Skinny Emmie noted about a month ago, eating too much of the right stuff will still cause you to slow down on weight loss too.  So instead of going back to calorie counting (as I've said I was going to do and haven't......and I'm tired of hearing myself saying it, so I'm sure you are too), I'm going to work on portion control instead.  I know I've been eating too much of certain things.

      But, with all that said about having a good relationship to food and eating the right things, we did some catering again this weekend and it became very real to me that I still can't trust myself around certain things like potato chips (or crisps as they're called here) or cake.  I found myself having conversations in my head that went something like this:

      Fat Jayme: NOM. *crunch* NOM. *crunch* NOM.  These Roast Beef and Peppercorn Sauce chips are good!
      Fit Jayme:  You don't even like roast beef with peppercorn sauce.  Why are you eating these?

      Fat Jayme:  Because they're calling me.  Because they look so good.  Because you know I can't resist kettle chips.  I love the crunch!!  Man, I've missed chips!

      Fit Jayme:  But you don't need them.  You're not hungry.  You're just shoving them in your piehole because they're there.  All that salt.....

      Fat Jayme:  Yeah.  Lovely, isn't it?
      Fit Jayme:  PUT. THE. CHIP. DOWN.

      Fat Jayme:  No.  NOM.  *crunch*

      Fat Jayme won yesterday and today.  Because of it, I feel bloated and greasy.  ugh.  But as I'm in town to do the catering, I'm headed to the gym today (*gasp* on a Sunday!) before it closes and Fit Jayme will get to work out the frustration and try to regain control.

      Here's to cracking down over the next week and hopefully seeing a bit more movement on the next weigh-in!  It's also getting to be about time for another measurment take, so I'll shoot for doing that next week as well. 

      Friday, November 5, 2010

      Stuffed Butternut Squash

      The original recipe was on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's show River Cottage Everyday, which I am loving because it's been full of lots of great, easy recipes using fresh veggies, etc.  But then, I love Hugh and his corny, self-deprecating sense of humor, so I'd probably watch it even if he were cooking goose brains or chicken feet (which he has probably done at one time or another).  

      Regardless, I cooked these squash last night with some grilled chicken and steamed broccoli (I did half of this recipe using a small squash...and made a couple adjustments, cutting out the butter, adding breadcrumbs and using less cheese) and they were LOVELY.  So have a go.  It's easy. 

      Serves 4  

      • 1 large butternut squash (about 1.5kg) or 2 small ones
      • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
      • A little olive oil
      • 75g (about 1/3 cup) walnuts, lightly toasted and very coarsely chopped
      • 150-200g (1/2-3/4 cup) crumbly cheese such as goat's, feta, or bleu cheese (I used a mix of goat's and feta last night because it's what I had in the fridge)
      • 2 tsp chopped thyme
      • 2-4 tbsp of breadcrumbs
      • 1 scant tbsp runny honey
      • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

      1.   Make sure the outside of the squash is scrubbed clean. Cut the squash in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and soft fibres. Put in a roasting dish, add the chopped garlic then brush with a little oil and season well. Place in an oven preheated to 190°C/375°F and bake for ¾-1 hour, until the flesh feels very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

      2.   Scoop the soft flesh and all the garlicky juices out into a bowl, leaving a 1cm thick layer of flesh still attached to the skin, so the squash holds its shape. Roughly mash the flesh. Keep back a few pieces of walnut and a little of the cheese, then fold the remaining walnuts and cheese into the soft squash, along with the thyme and some more salt and pepper.

      3.  Spoon the filling back into the empty squash halves and scatter on the reserved cheese and walnuts with a bit of breadcrumb on the top to give it a bit of crunchy texture. Finish with the merest trickle of honey, then return the squash to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.

      If you want to add a bit more calories to it, here are some variations....

      Variation: Crispy bacon-stuffed squash
      Chop 4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon and fry for a minute or two until crisp and golden. Stir these into the soft squash flesh, along with about 50g finely grated Gruyère cheese, a tablespoon of chopped chives and plenty of black pepper. Top with a little more grated Gruyère before returning to the oven.

      Variation: Crème fraîche and herb-stuffed squash
      Add 1 teaspoon each of finely chopped basil, thyme and oregano to the mashed squash, stir in 3-4 tablespoons of crème fraîche and season very well before returning to the oven.