Eating Well at Our House

The experiment is over and I really can’t add anything more to yesterday’s wrap-up except that it was lovely to eat real food for breakfast and lunch. I might have dropped some water weight, but because I have developed an aversion to stepping on a scale, I cannot base my success or failure rate on my actual weight. In fact, I prefer not to. I base my success or failure rate on how I feel and how I am doing back (so far) on a solid food diet. And as I said yesterday, I feel this was a success based on my higher energy levels and the lack of carb cravings. Even my sweet tooth has relented. I have several varieties of high quality chocolate hanging out in my cabinet here at work and I am content to let them lie until a moment I have earned them or to soothe over ragged nerves on a bad work day.

Even with the low caloric intake (I was getting less than 800 per day), I was not energy deprived. I survived a tough 1 hour spin class last night where the instructor took us up and down a lot of hills. I felt like I worked hard but was not destroyed by the end.

In an effort to get all of us back on track, but especially Byram, who has struggled with weight gain due to injury and medications, we have gone back to a low-carb lifestyle. I find it can be tricky to balance the needs of the non-low carb family members (my mom and Grace) with those of Byram and me, but we’re working on it.

I almost never rely on recipes. I primarily cook with a “formula” that rarely goes wrong and changes with whatever I happen to have in the fridge.

The formula almost always starts out the same way: dice an onion and heat it in olive oil in my big skillet on medium heat. I almost always add garlic and some salt while that is happening, and frequently mushrooms because they are a cheap, low carb, and family-friendly way to boost the bulk of the meal without adding much in the way of calories. Usually after that, I add whatever meat I am cooking with, be it chicken breast or thighs, pork loin, or whatever cut of beef I pull out of the freezer — cube steak, flank, skirt, eye of round, etc. With our cow share dwindling, it is getting spotty for beef cuts these days. I let the meat start cooking, add seasonings of my choice (with props to Penzey’s for helping open my eyes to what it means to season food), and then usually frozen veggies like broccoli or green beans, or sometimes fresh ones like sweet peppers, zucchini, or summer squash. Sometimes I throw in a jar of our canned tomatoes from the CSA.

Yes, it is formulaic, but it is fun, easy, usually cooks in less than 30 minutes, and it is infinitely interchangeable. Some of the formula meals can be served over pasta or rice if you aren’t bent towards low carb, and if you have an eater in the house who cannot abide their food touching (we do), you can usually pick the meat and veggies out and separate them on the plate pretty easily (I don’t *always* succeed in this; particularly if tomatoes went in and it is more “saucy” looking).

So when I plan a menu for the month, it is pretty hard to specify what nights I know I am just going to make formula meals; maybe I should just put “Formula Meal w/ Chicken” (or whatever) on those days rather than try and name a specific plan? I don’t know. Planning our menu a month in advance surely does help keep us nutritionally on track, out of restaurants, and helps my Mom know what to expect each day, whether she or I am doing the cooking, but it is hard to know 3 weeks from now what will be on sale at the store or what veggies might suddenly be 10 for $10, like sweet peppers were last week. Suddenly, I am cooking with sweet peppers!

Tonight will be a formula meal out of the skillet though. Tomorrow, I want to make a stuffed pork tenderloin. Sunday, for the upcoming birthdays we are celebrating, I am making the most terrifying cut of beef I have in my freezer – a standing rib roast — prime rib. I did a mediocre job on the last one, overcooking it to medium; a sin against an amazing cut of meat. With this being the last one in the freezer until we get a new chunk of a Bessie Cow, this is my last chance to get it right.

It feels really good and like a genuine accomplishment to plan for and get back on the nutritional bandwagon. While we were talking about our weight this morning, I told Byram that I estimate, based on the fit of my clothes, that I am back to around 160 pounds, or about 15 pounds higher than I want to be. Now, it is all relative, and given that I had lost 125 pounds (at my lowest point last March), 15 pounds doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is for me now. I have learned that it was much easier to drop 15 pounds when I was 270 pounds pretty fast. Not so at 160. Back in the bad old days, it wasn’t uncommon for me to lose 15-25 pounds in the space of 6 weeks. Of course, it would creep back up, and I would have to do it all over again…but that was the normal.

Now, I avoid the scale and base my feeling about my weight based on what clothes fit or don’t. My size 6 pants I wore last spring do NOT fit. My 10s that I couldn’t wear last spring because they would slide off me, fit just fine though not snuggly, fortunately. My 8s still fit as much as they did last year, but without the slack I used to have in them. I will be happy when I can get back into my size 6 pants and when my small sized t-shirts are no longer too tight to wear. But I don’t think I am ready to bring the scale back into my life. Maybe when those 6s do fit, and then just to congratulate myself on whatever number it is I find that put me back in my size 6s. But in general, I don’t want to fight that emotional battle with numbers on a daily or weekly basis ever again.

Have a great weekend and I hope you are having a great start to 2013.

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