Today’s Realization

Instead of our normal Sunday routine, in which DH and I putter around the house after our morning Starbucks and grocery shopping, we met some friends in Berkeley for an afternoon of hanging out and catching up with one another.  My brother came too.  It was really nice to see them all – especially since most of their get togethers happen when I’m at work or have other plans.

The morning started out OK.  I woke up with a headache and a bit of an achy back and neck.  Grr…  I weighed myself for my Sunday check-in and found that I’d lost 6 pounds in the past week.  Don’t get too excited or worried, though.  I know a lot of that was probably water weight that I’d gained from eating those bags of chips and theme park food the week before.  The weight loss should slow down to something more reasonable soon.

After that, I put together a menu for the week and a grocery list.  We headed off to Starbucks where I was able to make a deliciously healthy decision because of the nutritional info from their website.  Then it was time to buy some groceries before we headed out to Berkeley.

We wandered around downtown for a bit.  I found a great cookbook at Half Priced Books.  A man with some kind of mental illness tried to talk to me.  DH and my brother wondered if I knew him because he was so excited to see me.  I don’t – I just give off pheromones for homeless and crazy people.  We met our friends at Games of Berkeley (great shop BTW, and locally owned too), followed by a late lunch at Jupiter.

I perused the menu and picked out a delicious red and gold beet salad with goat cheese and champagne vinaigrette.  I paired it with a refreshing beer and enjoyed my time with friends.  About 3/4 of the way through my beer – long after my salad was eaten – I was hit with a familiar craving.  If there was a plate of cookies in front of me, or a cake, or brownies, or ice cream… any sweet yummy goodness really… I would have eaten it without thinking twice.  I would have kept on eating until it was all gone or I was too stuffed to eat another bite.  Luckily there weren’t any sweets nearby, and I was forced to ignore this craving until it went away.

We came home and I had another beer. And started another.  I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me that multiple beers don’t fit in with a healthy eating plan.  About then, I decided to make our lunches for tomorrow.  I was so excited to pack those pre-packaged snack packs that are about 100 calories and contain those special little treats.  You can imagine my heartbreak when I flipped over the individual packs to read several hundred calories and way too many grams of fat in that little nutritional box.  I guess DH is getting all the snack packs he can stomach.  Me? I get to make healthier decisions.  *sigh*

I finished my beer and put the bottle into recycling.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a forlorn little cookie snack pack.  I said “I need to eat the cookies!” I opened the package, took one cookie and popped it into my mouth.  DH immediately jumped up and said “Give me those cookies.  They’re not good for you.  I’m supporting your healthy eating and you can’t eat these.”  I knew he was right, but I pouted anyway.

OK… so this long, rambling story has a point: I can’t drink and make healthy eating decisions. I realized this as I was pouting in my corner of the living room, acting like a child because my loving husband saved me from making a decision that I would become upset about later.

I had been reading this book called Almost Alcoholic (ISBN 9781616491598), which is about recognizing and addressing drinking that can’t be defined as alcoholism but is still outside the realm of “normal” drinking.  The authors explain that a lot of people become depressed when drinking habitually because alcohol lowers inhibitions, including your inhibitions towards certain feelings.  That’s why people who are normally mild mannered may become angry or mean when they drink, and shy people may become more outgoing.  In my case, alcohol not only lowers my resistance to cravings for sweets, it also lowers my inhibitions when it comes to pursuing them.  So, I’ll avoid drinking except under planned special circumstances so that I don’t make decisions that I’ll regret later.

By the way, the book is really interesting, and is the first in a series of “Almost Effect” books.  The idea is that there are a number of behavioral and physical problems that fall outside the realm of “normal” but aren’t quite enough to be considered “full-blown.”  I don’t think I’m on the “almost alcoholic” spectrum, but I do recognize the behavioral change that happens when I drink.  Since sweets are usually pretty easy to get my hands on, I’ll just avoid the trigger (alcohol) to control my intake of sweets.

Just thought I’d share my epiphany for today.  Now it’s time to head to bed.  I have an early, busy day tomorrow.


2012 Goals Check-in

Time to check in with my 2012 goals:

Cook 1 new recipe each week
So far, so good.  I didn’t think I’d get a new recipe in this week because we weren’t planning on eating dinner at home this week.  Staying home on Sunday instead of going out to San Francisco worked to my advantage.  I made split pea soup with yellow peas that I found at the Indian market by my house.  Pretty yummy.  I didn’t follow the directions 100% though…  I dumped everything in the pot and let it cook instead of adding the carrots and celery in the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Eat real food
This one I’m falling down a bit on.  Most bread in the supermarket has some kind of weird preservative in it.  I’m also trying to use up my peanut butter and salad dressings before I buy more (budgets, ya know).  And of course the cookies and candy at work don’t really work so well for this.  I just need to focus more and be more aware of what I’m putting in my mouth and what I’m buying.  I can do that.  It might be difficult at Disneyland next week, but I’ll do my best.

No white grains
Do onion bagels count as white grain?  Or the rice at lunch yesterday?  Or the flour that’s used to make those delicious cookies in the lunch room?  I’m pretty sure they do.  *sigh*  FOCUS Danie!  I’ve been doing good except for those three slip-ups.  And my sister was super sweet to buy pizza with whole wheat crust for my nephew’s birthday.  Thanks Sis! Yay me – I’m almost succeeding with this one!

Finish one quilt or sewing project each month
All I have to do is attach a border to this hot pink quilted throw I made and the project for month #1 is done!  I also have the stuff I need to complete at least on project for month #2!  This goal is going well.

Buy a house, not a condo
I showed DH some McMansions around our neighborhood that we almost have 10% down on.  I think we’ll probably end up buying something a little more manageable payment and upkeep wise (read: smaller and cheaper).  We have 20% down on bank-owned prices for smaller homes, but we need to save more for closing costs and any repairs/upgrades the houses might need.

Learn basic web development technologies
I haven’t even started on this one.  DH showed me a series of videos I can watch to get the basics down and then take tests to get certified on this stuff.  I’m just not super motivated on this, though.  Got any tips to get me motivated?

Get Project+ certified
This is a direct response to some project management training work sent me to awhile back.  I have all of the training materials I need sitting in the 2nd bedroom upstairs.  Have I watched one refresher video?  No.  Read one chapter of one book?  No.  Maybe I need some prizes to motivate me, what do you think?

Run a 5k without stopping; complete three 5k races; complete two 10k races; complete at least one half marathon; wear a bikini comfortably in public
I decided to lump all of these goals together because they each build on one another.  I signed up for a 5k, I joined a gym, and my rib is healed so I can focus on these goals more.  My weight went up in response to the gym-going though.  Just a pound, but I know that is water retention from the upper body workout I did yesterday.  Seriously, my arm muscles are so sore that it’s a miracle I could turn on the shower this morning.  I also jogged on the treadmill twice this week, which felt really good.  I’ll keep doing that until I’m jogging for the whole 30 minutes the gym allows.


This food thing is hard!

Granted I haven’t been focusing super much on food for awhile, but I don’t remember it being this hard!  Like today, I added one of those little packages of liquid creamer to my coffee when we went out to breakfast today without thinking anything of it.  During a lull in the conversation I thought “I wonder what’s in that.”  I looked at the package and saw that it listed 2% milk, heavy cream, and some weird additive.  Three ingredients, but one of them was weird.  *sigh*

Then I ordered a Denver omelet.  Sounded right: eggs, ham, bell pepper, onion and cheese.  I should have ordered it without the cheese – who knows what’s in the cheese that makes it orange?  Side of hash browns that I only ate two bites of, and a slice of wheat toast.  Notice it’s not 100% whole wheat?

OK, OK, it’s basically day 1, right?  I’m out of the habit of analyzing everything on the menu and all the pieces of a particular plate when I’m ordering.  I just need to do better.  I’ll know better for date night on Wednesday.

Tonight should be easier for dinner.  My brother is coming over to make us some dinner.  He’s making his “California Salad” with tilapia on top and we’re pairing it with an amber ale.  He’s a chef and the author of  It only has one entry so far because he caught a nasty cold right after the first meal.  He’s back tonight.  I’ve had the California Salad before, but this time it will be a little different.  We couldn’t find the strawberries that he’d normally use so he’ll be substituting with raspberries.  And normally there isn’t any meat added in, but since it will be a main dish salad there needs to be something to go with it.  I’m totally looking forward to it.  Since we moved out a few years ago, I haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with him and I kinda miss him.

OK…  now onto the exercise portion of things.  I’m pretty limited in what I can do since I fell and cracked a rib a couple weeks ago.  I’m moving better now, but I can’t run or lift anything heavier than 5 pounds right now.  And even lifting 2 pounds repeatedly makes me cry.  So as soon as I finish with this entry, I’m planning on trying some lower body stuff just to get moving.  Squats, calf raises, going up and down the stairs, that kind of thing.  Nothing that requires twisting or using my abs too much – I don’t want to hurt myself worse!

And I weighed myself last night with my trusty Wii balance board…  I’m at 159.4 pounds.  Ugh.  I need to be around 145 to be at a healthy BMI.  So that means I have 14.4 pounds to lose.  I know BMI isn’t the be-all of health and fitness, but it’s a gauge to use.

Time to do some light exercise to get things moving.

Food and Fitness Goals for 2012

I’m sitting on the couch pondering my goals for the next year, and letting them marinate in my brain.  The ones that I’m thinking about the most right now are the fitness goals and the food goals, mostly because they go hand in hand.  And also because there are some limitations to what I can do right now.

Let’s start by further defining the food goals:

  1. Cut out wheat and rice
  2. Eat “real” food
  3. Cook one new recipe each week

I’m focusing on the food goals because those are usually the most difficult for me to follow/stick with, and because they have a direct impact on my fitness goals.

Cut out wheat and rice
Hmmm… OK, this one isn’t really what it sounds like.  It doesn’t mean that I will be cutting out all wheat and rice products.  It means that I will be only eating products made with 100% whole grain, 100% brown or wild rice, 100% corn meal.  If there’s any other weird grains, sugars, additives or chemicals added in, it doesn’t go in my belly.

Eat “real” food
I’ve noticed that when I eat food that has lots of “fake” things inside (like additives, flavorings, colorings, preservatives, etc) it takes more to fill me up and I’m not as satisfied.  When I eat real food I need to eat less and I’m generally more satisfied.  OK, to be fair I really like to have a bit of something for dessert, but doesn’t everyone?  So the rule is that the food that goes in my belly needs to be real.  In other words: no weird additives, no weird flavorings added, no weird preservatives, etc.  Birthday parties and other celebrations are the exception to this rule.

Cook one new recipe each week
I’m hoping this one will help me meet the other two food goals.  Plus I know it’ll help me meet the fitness goals.  It’ll also help me put to use the many cookbooks I have at home.

OK, now it’s time to further define the fitness goals

  1. Run a 5k without walking
  2. Complete three 5k’s
  3. Complete two 10k’s
  4. Complete at least 1 half marathon
  5. Wear a bikini in public comfortably

Run a 5k without walking
So, you’d think that with all of this training I’ve done that I could run a few miles without stopping somewhere in there to walk, right?  Well, you’d be wrong.  To tell you the truth, I’ve only run 1 mile without stopping and that was awhile ago.  So, to make myself feel like I deserve to call myself a runner, I’m going to run (or jog, whatever) 3.1 miles without stopping.

Complete three 5k’s
I find that when I’m training, I get bored if I don’t have little things to work towards.  Upcoming races are awesome for the motivation factor and I love how short a 5k feels.  I just need to figure out which 5k’s to complete.  Oh, and complete means just that: complete it.  It doesn’t matter if there’s walking mixed in, as long as they’re done and I’m happy with what I’ve done.

Complete two 10k’s
Again, having upcoming races as motivation is awesome, and a 10k is twice as challenging as a 5k.  So, as I get back into running, I’ll be working towards the 10k length.  And again, complete means complete.  I don’t have to run the whole thing.

Complete at least 1 half marathon
My plan is to complete the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 2, 2012.  I’ll be using the 5 and 10k races I complete along the way as training.  And if I don’t die and if I don’t totally hate it, I’d like to complete the Wine & Dine half marathon in Disney World in November.  So yeah, complete means finish it.

Wear a bikini comfortably in public
As I’m training and eating healthier foods, I should be losing weight along the way.  I’ll also need to work in some weight training too.  I don’t want to be “skinny-fat”, and doing this will help me become a more effective runner too.  So, I know this is cliche, but I’ve never worn a bikini in public because I’ve always been too fat to do so.  Being able to do this would be tangible proof that I’m not the girl they made up a song about in Jr. High.

I’ll come up with a training plan in another post… this one is already too long as it is!

I Cooked: Shepherd’s Pie

DH and I recently discovered the show “Kitchen Nightmares” with Gordon Ramsay.  If you’ve never seen the show, Chef Ramsay goes to a different failing restaurant each week to fix the problems and make it into a successful business.  There’s a lot of yelling and cursing, but it’s pretty entertaining.

One episode had an Irish restaurant and pub in rich-people-ville with awful food.  Chef Ramsay actually puked after eating their shepherd’s pie.  The fix for this restaurant included Gordon’s family recipe for shepherd’s pie.  Of course, this made me think about making one myself, so off to Allrecipes I went.  I found this recipe for an Americanized Shepherd’s Pie and followed it pretty closely.  The only difference was that I used vegetable beef soup instead of vegetable soup, and I mixed the cheese in with the potatoes instead of adding it at the end.

It was easy to cook and tasted pretty decent.  The only problem I ran into was that the prep took longer than I thought – and that was with DH peeling the potatoes.  If I were to make it again, I’d include a mix of fresh(or thawed frozen) veggies and use beef broth instead of canned soup.  I’d also add some other spices to the dish.  To make the prep go faster, use leftover mashed potatoes.  I also don’t know if the cheese made much of a difference in flavor, so I’ll try leaving it out next time.

This pie was pretty good the second day, but not as good as next-day spaghetti.  To reheat it evenly I had to mix the beef and the potatoes together into a mushy, unappetizing looking mess.  That might be avoided if I were to reheat it in the oven.

Either way, shepherd’s pie is good old fashioned comfort food.


One of our staff was injured a few months ago with a repetitive stress injury.  They’re actually a very common injury in library work because we make the same motions over and over, which repeatedly stresses the same muscles and tendons throughout the day.  She received treatment for the injury and a small settlement.  During the time that she was receiving treatments, her ability to work at the same pace and at the same tasks was hindered.  The rest of the staff stepped in to help and never complained once.  As a way of saying thank you to her coworkers, the staff member handed me some money and asked that we plan a party.  So we did.

The staff was so excited to plan this party!  After discussing the options, they decided that the best use of the money was to bring a barbecue and grill some carne asada for a fiesta.  They went to the Mexican Supermarket and bought a bunch of meat, vegetables, corn tortillas, and flour tortillas.  One of the staff made homemade refried beans.  Another made Mexican rice.  Someone else made a margarita cheesecake.  Yet another took care of the decorations.

Today was party day.  It was so nice!  Everyone was so relaxed and happy.  Oh yeah – and full of excellent food.  They played Latin music too.

One of our newer staff members said that every day they’re reminded of why they’re thankful to be working at my library.  Today their reminder was that we all like each other and that we know how to throw a great party!

Merry (Late) Christmas

OK, I know…  boring posts about books most people will try their best to avoid reading.  That doesn’t make for a good blog, but it’s something, right?  So today I’ll add a real post wishing you all a Merry Christmas!  It’s a day late and all, but better late than never, right?

So how was it?  Was Santa good to you?  Santa is always very good to me.

DH and everyone on my side of the family had Christmas Eve off, so we ended up doing Christmas at my mom’s house that afternoon.  It took longer than I thought, but it was fun to see the kids open their presents.  We also got to spend a little bit of time with my mom.  She’s doing a bit better.  The doctor prescribed a hospital bed to make things a bit easier.  She’s finally up and walking around a bit, but it does take some convincing.  We just keep reminding her that the longer she can walk, the healthier she’ll be and the more time she can spend with the family.

We got my nephew Lego Creationary and my niece a few different artsy things – a pot holder loom, a very simple paint by numbers set and a tissue paper flowers kit.  My brother had a very gummy Christmas.  We basically went to Cost Plus and loaded our cart with one of every gummy there.  Then we went to a couple of teenager stores and did the same thing.  And to round it all out, he got some socks.  My Brother-in-law got a SF Giant’s shirt and some socks.  Mom- a couple pair of slippers.  My sister some socks and jammies.

I got lots of cool things from my family: a convertible bag called a Miche Bag with a couple of shells, a beautiful vase from Italy, hand made jewelery, a purse hanger thingie, coffee gift cards, etc.  DH got some pretty cool things as well.  He’s most excited about the rimming salts and yoda chop sticks.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to DH’s grandma’s house to visit with the cousins, aunts and uncles.  It’s always super crowded over there with all the adults and kids running around.  I can only really handle it for a couple hours before I start feeling really overwhelmed with all the noise and activity.  Again, it’s always fun to watch all the kids open their presents and then Grandma opening hers.  We went ultra practical with Grandma’s gift because she can buy pretty much anything she wants/needs.  We got her a variety pack of coffee and a gift card for Market Broiler (a restaurant she’s been wanting to go to for awhile).

Then we went home and had a couple of friends over for movies, food and drink.  I fell asleep midway through the second movie, but the boys said it was OK because it kind of sucked anyway.

Christmas morning we headed over to DH’s folks’ house for more presents.  Again, it was fun to watch everyone open their gifts and see what they got.  Our niece got so many Barbies and girlie toys.  We always get her something educational, so this year she got a robot you build and power through an electrical (crank) generator.  We’ll be setting up a time for her to come over and work on it with DH – it’s their thing, ya know?  We gave my sister-in-law the 10th anniversary edition of Mallrats signed by Kevin Smith.  It’s her favorite Kevin Smith movie so she was pretty stoked.  We gave my Mother-in-law some sugar free candies, a Diabetic Soul Food cookbook (awesome book by the way everything I’ve ever cooked from it tastes great) and a couple of other things.  We gave my Father-in-law some blank CDs, a hot sauce sampler pack and a huge bag of Hickory Farms.  I got lots of picture frames, socks, jewelery, gift cards and mixers for alcohol.  DH got a George Foreman grill, a belt, gift cards, Iron Man 2, and more.

Then we all went out for breakfast.  It was nice.  It reminded me of how much I miss spending time with those guys.

After breakfast DH and I came home to open our own presents.  He (and Santa) got me a NookColor, paper shredder, some books I wanted, the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack, a pedometer, alcoholic chocolates and my laptop.  I (and Santa) got him the Microsoft Kinect, a cup with some kind of computer coding on it that he wanted, hibiscus flowers in syrup, Exosquad Season 1, and Idiocracy.

My brother invited us over for dinner so we went.  There was ham with that mustard/brown sugar glaze and pineapples on top, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and cherry-o-cream pie for dessert.  I’ll have to post that recipe some time, the pie is a family favorite.

Then we came home, played with our new toys and went to bed.  That was my Christmas.  How was yours?

Date Night: Massimo’s in Fremont, CA

I’ve driven past Massimo’s for years but never tried it.  Any time I suggested it as a kid, I’d be “shushed” because it was out of my family’s price range.  Then I started on this quest to try a new restaurant every week.  My husband suggested Massimo’s for this week’s dinner.

I made reservations, and we arrived about 15 minutes late.  Damn you BART for making my husband be late getting home!  They sat us quickly anyway.

The dining room was nice and quiet.  There weren’t any small children running around and screaming, and there wasn’t a bench seat in sight!  The waiter asked what we’d like to drink then brought over a wine list at my request.  I looked for something familiar, but I know nothing about wine so it all blended together in one big smooshy mess.  I finally ordered a Shirley Temple and my husband ordered an iced tea.  We ordered garlic bread too.

For dinner, I ordered the raviolis with shrimp sauce.  My husband ordered the ahi tuna special and clam chowder.

The garlic bread came out after the chowder.  It was tasty.  The chowder was “meh” but my husband finished it.

We waited quite awhile for our entrees.  It was weird.  A lot of people were waiting and looking around at one another.  Finally our food came so we started eating.

My raviolis were OK, just a bit bland and heavy.  They grew on me even though I could only eat about half of it because I filled up on bread.  I brought the rest home to have for lunch tomorrow.

My husband liked his tuna, but I thought it was a little disappointing.  The server said that it was “sashimi grade” but it didn’t look that way to me.  When I tasted it it seemed a little rubbery.  The flavor was OK though.

We didn’t have dessert because we didn’t want to wait forever for that to come too.

I can’t explain why the experience was so odd.  It just felt weird.  I doubt I’ll go back just to go, but if someone else was paying I might eat there again.

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