Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Introducing the weekly Menu Shout-out [Menu Shout-out]

Well, it seems I get these ideas for stuff I want to do on the blog all on Monday. I guess it's the stress of coming back to work combined with the rest I got over the weekend. I decided though that Monday was getting a little full with the new weekly SnackAttack and the poll question. So, I decided that I would do this new idea on Tuesdays to help spread things out over the week.

It's called the Menu Shout-out. Stacie has been wanting to start putting up recipe ideas for a while now about things we're eating and I thought this would be a good way to help kick-start that idea. Each week, we'll be asking one of our regular readers to submit a recipe idea along with preparation steps and calorie count to help give some ideas when you're not sure what to make. Or maybe to add a little bit of new variety in the diet to make sure you're eating healthy. Best of all, this give you more ideas than just ours because maybe we eat what you don't like or you want to eat a certain way. No problem! We don't mind, so long as the calories are right and balance is healthy.

So, on to the first Menu Shout-out. This one comes courtesy of my very own sister who lives up in Wisconsin with her future-surgeon husband and two boys.

Heck yeah!
ok here it is.

Chicken and Wild Rice Dinner

frozen chicken (seasoned with olive oil, thyme, sage)
Lundberg's wild rice
frozen sweet white corn
olive oil
chicken bullion cube

Time to Prepare:
50 minutes (but that's just because the rice has to cook forever. The work involved is very minimal, you just need to cook it a little ahead of time)

Calories per Serving:
1 Chicken breast
1/2 c. rice
4 asparagus spears
1/2 c. corn


Preparation Steps:

Cook the rice first because it will take the longest. However much you want according to the package. Throw a bullion cube in with it while it cooks.

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 frozen chicken breasts
1/2 c. water

In pan, cook for 4-5 minutes on one side then add thyme, sage, salt and pepper(I just give a few good dashes on each). Add water if needed. These can sit until the rice is done, it makes them more moist.
Cut the ends off the asparagus and get a pot of water boiling. Use a large pot so you don't have to cut them in half, then they are easier to count and prettier too.

Measure out how much corn you want and cook for 1 min 30 sec in the microwave.

This is one of my favorite meals because it is so easy and so low calorie! A nice blend of protein/fat/carbs. It's a good one to make if you have a baby in one arm.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Man, I'm getting good...

...at this weekly poll thing! ;)

New poll for the week. Feel like your all alone struggling with that craving you have during the day? No longer do you need to feel that you're on your own. People, let us know when you've got the munchies during the day and send a shout-out and word of encouragement by way of the comments.

Expect a few more posts this week as now that I've got Stacie back from Utah, we'll be working hard on moving forward. Should have some good posts to detail our efforts.

Malt-o-Meal Hot Cereal [SnackAttack]

And now for a brief message from our sponsors...

Just kidding, but I really should be getting paid by these groups for plugging their products. I might have to go mention all the free advertising they're getting here. ;)

For this week's SnackAttack we look to a product that's considered a meal, but then you look at how many calories it has per serving and realize you might have found the most filling snack imaginable.

Malt-o-Meal Hot Cereal - Chocolate flavor
Serving Size: 35 g (unprepared)
Calories: 130-160 (depending on how much sugar you add)

** I should definitely add a caveat - even though this is chocolate flavor, you do have to add a bit of sugar to get the sweetness just right. I usually add about 1.5 teaspoons to mine which adds an additional 25 calories to this dish. Worse, if you absolutely have to add milk to this cereal, the calories push it much more into the meal range.**

With that little warning out of the way, let me just say that I LOVE this stuff. I've eaten this every day for the last week as a snack during the day at work. I can definitely tell you that it gets me dirty looks after cooking it because it just smells good. And by far the best part is that once you've cooked it, it fills an entire bowl! It's huge!

It's warm, filling, tastes good, fills one more "grains" requirement from the food pyramid, and can be customized in just about any way imaginable. My latest is to turn it more into a meal by adding a half serving of peanut butter; gives a a nice shot of protein and fun flavor. Want an evening dessert that won't wipe out your good workout? Drop a few chocolate chips in and it makes a killer before-bed sweet, though look for a definite calorie pinch if you do.

If you can learn to eat it plain (which is really not that hard to do) it is definitely more of a snack. A great way to feel like you're eating something naughty and not having the guilt that goes with it. They have a maple brown sugar version too. I wonder if it's as good? Stay tuned and I may review it as well.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Moving Forward

I've become a real fan of the montra "Two steps forward, one step back" because it seems to be a real factor in the way I live my life. The last two weeks have been very up and down in terms of weight loss, but I finally moved past my next milestone - breaking into the 230's. That means, to date, I've officially lost 15 lbs!

Stacie has really gotten into the TurboJam trend and hasn't missed a day in her workout schedule. She's still in Utah right now, so no updates on how much she's lost, but she has definitely gotten the new habit of exercising wrapped up. I'm really looking forward to she and Sammie returning home this weekend so that she can help motivate me to do my exercising.

Supporting Each Other

Just wanted to take a minute to introduce our new sister site...literally! My sister, Andrea, has started her own weight loss blog to detail her efforts and get support and it gave me an idea.

Any of you out there that are starting a new fitness routine or starting to loose weight, if you want to blog about it, send me an email or post a comment and I add you to a new set of links here where you can go and check out other people's progress, get/give support, and find new ideas for getting in shape.

I'm hoping that with time, this will grow to become a great network for getting support as we work on our goals for gaining control of our bodies.

Andrea's Weight Loss Blog

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Poll and a Question

Added a new poll today - this one lets you select multiple answers, so let us know what meals you plan ahead of time.

Now, for my question to you all: After last week's polls about living healthy promoting happiness, I wonder - why is so difficult to maintain a healthy life style when we know it makes us happy?

This is one that I think has many possible answers, so I want to hear from you all.

Post your answers in the comments.

Sam's Choice Trail Mix [SnackAttack]


Hey all!

Here's this weeks SnackAttack:

Sam's Choice Trail Mix - Indulgent Variety
Calories: 170
Serving Size: 35 g

I almost consider this more of a dessert than a snack at times because of how much chocolate is in it - it's got semi-sweets and white chocolate chips as well peanut butter chips. It just tastes too sweet some times. It has almonds, cashews, golden raisins, and dried cranberries as well. Very tasty, but if you find yourself gravitating a lot towards "sweet" snacks, you should probably pass this one by for a while till you got good control over those sweet cravings. You could easily eat way more than a single serving if you're not careful.

Overall, a tasty snack that doesn't skimp on the more expensive nuts. And those nuts give you a good shot of protein. Sweet and easily addicting, be very judicious measuring out a serving size - I'd err on the small side.

Bad Habits


Starting last Tuesday, Stacie and Sammie headed back to Utah to visit family. I followed on Thursday. While staying with them, I was intrigued and horrified to find out that as soon as I was back in a familiar environment (one where I used to overeat) I reverted back to old habits. Sugar, candy, high carb, high calories, and just generally not following my old eating style. Add to that the many "celebration" meals from various nation-wide chain restaurants and the whole thing was threating to get completely out of control.

Well last night I made it back home and the habits came with me. Those Girl Scout cookies in the freezer? Yep, nailed 'em! And I didn't really even want them, but I ate them out of habit. I was so disappointed with myself that I purposely packed a smaller lunch to compensate for all the damage I probably did over the weekend.

Now I've been thinking a little bit more and I think I've found another reason why it was so easy to get started on a good diet. The answer: everything was new. We owned a new house, I had a new job, we lived in a new state with a new child. No habits to break because everything was suddenly new. And so it became very easy to create our new eating habits.

I guess what all of this is leading up to is to give some more encouragement to everyone who is out there trying to live a healthier life. There are habits that have to be broken and new habits that have to be set. And that takes time, especially when the only thing that is changing is you. So, if you keep finding that your fitness and weight loss goals are tough to keep, don't quit. Just keep pressing forward and eventually you'll gain the self-control you need.

Remember that new skills are only found through practice.

Happy Monday - if such a thing exists ;) - and happy healthy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Introducing the SnackAttack


Hey all,

Just wanted to introduce a new category of blog posts here at Healthy Happiness. To help give you ideas about what to snack on, I'll be adding a weekly post detailing a snack we really like that's not going to break the calorie bank. If you find yourself craving a snack, you can pop in and see what we've been eating. Just click on the label SnackAttack for a list of all the posts.

Today's SnackAttack: Cheerios Snack Mix, original flavor.
Serving size: 35 grams
Calories: 130

Trust me, 35 grams of this is huge - way more filling than you'd imagine and more than that, it has great season taste. Regular and multi-grain Cheerios cereal, pretzel twists, bread sticks, and Chex cereal with a zesty seasoning that really hits the "salty" spot on my tongue. This is my current favorite snack. I will reach for this even over the indulgent trail mix with white chocolate chips, but that's a subject for another SnackAttack.

Snacks? ATTACK!

Planning to Sin


From my previous post about listening to Conference, you have probably realized that I'm starting to really equate eating poorly with breaking commandments, so please, don't get offended if that's not how you view eating a chocolate and strawberry sundae with toffee chips, walnuts, whip cream, and a cherry on top. ;) It just I have this writer's craze to have dramatic titles. So, read on - I promise it's not THAT kind of sinning you're planning for.

(First, right up front, some review - your body has a certain amount of calories it needs to maintain weight, called the basal metabolic rate {BMR}. Eat slightly below this amount and you loose weight; slightly above and you gain. Too much below turns on a starvation reflex which slows metabolism and stores everything as fat and is very unhealthy. So, you want to keep the amount you eat about 500 calories less than your body needs to just maintain weight - this results in safe, healthy weight loss and it's a lot slower than you think; only about 2-3 lbs per week, max. If you want more info read over at a Calorie Counter's nutritional articles. Now, on to the post.)

I've lost track of the number of times in the past that I sat down and very seriously and devoutly proclaimed that "I will loose weight and get in shape." And at the time, I was completely committed to that ideal. So what happened between then and now? Usually only about 2 weeks worth of really good exercise followed by gaining more weight. Why? What happened? Where suddenly was all the resolve I had just a few days before?

Usually, it was a case of life. That's it, just life. It got in the way; it got busy; it got interesting; it got tiring; it got (fill-in as you see fit). Life just got in the way, some way or another, and the next thing I knew, I was back to or further back than where I'd started. If you look back through the articles written thus far, you'll see a
number of them are confessions that we hadn't been doing well or had
slipped or had an emotional breakdown and ate everything in sight. Yet, we've continued to loose weight, or at the very least maintain weight - not gain weight. So what's changed? How come now, almost 6 weeks later I have the same resolve and (more importantly) am seeing the results that I want? In a sense we found a way to plan our sins.

The thing I have liked most about learning to count calories as a means of weight loss is that I can eat what ever I want, so long as I maintain balance. So, if I want to eat a load of chocolate, how do I balance that? By eating other very low calorie things. This is where a plan can really come in handy. Stacie and I have taken to planning out our meals for the week. Right now, it's only the evening meal, but eventually I think we'd like to have a plan for each day, all three meals and all three snacks. This helps us know what to shop for, but it also helps us know when we can take a few well-earned "breaks." So, here's an example week's menu:
  • Monday - Baked potato bar w/ broccoli
  • Tuesday - Baked chicken and mushroom w/ leftover baked potatoes
  • Wednesday - Salads
  • Thursday - Spaghetti, side salads with left over salad, and garlic bread
  • Friday - Tacos
  • Saturday - Steak and fries
  • Sunday - Crockpot roast
Now that's a tasty looking menu. Just reading through the list, is there any day that stands out? Any day that you could look at and say, "You know, I think I just might need to have that craving for Cadbury chocolate eggs on that day"? If you said Wednesday, you'd be right. Depending on what you had for lunch and breakfast, there's a good chance that Wednesday would already be rather calorically deficient because there just aren't a lot of calories in salads, even with dressing and cheese. And if you nix those items (or keep them small) you're eating like 100 calories for the whole meal. Since it's not safe to be more than 500 calories below for the day, you'll probably need to eat something else (and pretty substantial at that) to make up the calories so that you aren't starving yourself.

So, what should you eat? WHATEVER YOU WANT! Take a minute to figure out the calories of course, but go have fun! Ice cream, candy bars, chocolate cake, fudge brownies, caramel corn - anything you might happen to want.

This is how you plan for a weekend date night - make sure you eat a lot of rabbit food during the day so that you've got calories to spare by the time you get to dinner. This is how you deal with emotional-breakdown splurges, only you apply it after (cause I know you can't plan to have a bad day) - just do the healthy eating the day after to compensate for what you ate the day before. This is how you go to your cousin's wife's sister's daughter's birthday party and not look like a daft idiot. **"Grant, so nice you could come - please have some cake." "I'm sorry I can't I'm dieting." "Well, then please stop drooling all over my carpet."** Maybe a bit overboard, but I think you get the point.

This all depends on having a working knowledge of what you plan to eat and how much it'll cost you in calories. Thus all the more reason to get that digital food scale and start figuring out how many calories are in that piece of bread - believe me, it'll change the way you view food. For me, it just made me like it all the more because I have no guilt when I eat.

Take some time and start making a plan of what you are going to eat. If you really want to have fun, plan in the desserts too, so you can spend the whole day/week reminding yourself that you're "saving" for that giant banana split you've got planned on Saturday night.

Ciao, happy Monday and happy healthy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Latest Exciting Ring at our Doorbell


If it would have woken Sam I wouldn't have even cared because my package that I have been anxiously waiting on has shown up!!! This is our new best friend Chalene. I saw this on an infomercial and new I would do it as much as I used to do Cindy Crawford's video, if not more. So here we go on adding more exercise into the routine to help us shed the pounds. We started last night with the Learn & Burn. It pretty much kicked my butt and made me realize how out of shape I am and that I need to say " Get thee hence Satan" way more often!

Post Coming from Stacie Later Today


Not that I'm trying to put any pressure on my sweet wife, but she received a small something in the mail yesterday that she has been anticipating greatly. I won't steal her thunder by telling you what it was, but it will definitely help us both in our desire to become more physically fit.

Also, to those faithful readers who have been waiting for us to start posting with regularity again - thanks for using the polls so quickly! I love seeing how you all feel too. But don't stay strangers - post in the comments as well so I know who the faithful are. ;)

No, you don't get a "happy" wish yet - not till later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Polls!

We've got two polls for you all this week. I'm hoping a quick rash of posts will me moving again with my accountability.

Take a quick moment to answer the polls and let others know your feelings too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Post-Conference Musings

You know you've managed to make good on your lifestyle change if you find yourself thinking about it at the oddest times. As many of our readers will know, this past weekend was the April General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which we are members. And during the conference, listing to different leaders and speakers, I actually found a way to help motivate myself to be better about how I eat.

For some reason, I was really picking up on the many references to overcoming temptation and forgiving yourself of past, corrected mistakes and found myself thinking, "Yeah, I can totally relate to that - it's just like walking past the freezer knowing those Girl Scout cookies are in there and not eating them."

There were so many references to Christ's experience after fasting for 40 days and being tempted. Now, there never entered my mind the connection of "fasting" and weight loss. What did occur to me was when it was stated that Christ overcame these temptations not because he was the Son of God, but because he was being perfectly obedient. The really interesting part came when I realized that I could receive more blessings and a greater abundance of the Spirit by being obedient to my diet - because getting my body in better shape shows that I am treating it as a temple and the Lord will bless me for it.

So, there's another motivator to add to your list. Have trials? Feeling down? Need extra help? Be obedient to the Word of Wisdom and the Lord will bless you. Man, now I'll never be able too look at those Girl Scout cookies again. Just think - I'll be at Sam's Club next year with the Girl Scouts outside...do you think that Sam's Club would revoke my membership if I told a little girl "Get thee behind me Satan"?

Maybe it would be better if I told them that "man does not live by Girl Scout cookies alone".

Cheers, happy Thursday, and happy healthy!