Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weigh-In Saturday

Starting weight: 301
Last week's weight: 235
Today's weight: 235
Total loss: 66 pounds
Banded: 6/7/2013


Well.

No weight loss this week. Am I surprised? No. Am I a bit disappointed? Yep.

Mainly because this is the first weigh-in since July that I haven't posted a loss. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about it, but I can't help but be a little bit sad.

Oh I know exactly what the deal is. I made this evil, evil dessert to take to my sister's house for Thanksgiving on Wednesday night, and, like any good cook, I had to sample it to make sure it was appropriately delicious. It was. And then there was Thanksgiving day. I didn't go crazy at all, but I'm sure what I did eat had a zillion calories. I know for sure that I overdid it with the sweet potato casserole. My very favorite of all Thanksgiving dishes. It's the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse recipe with the pecan streusel topping AND marshmallows. And then yesterday my friend Jordan and I went to see Catching Fire for her birthday. After the movie, we went to Big Orange, a burger joint that's the absolute best in all of Little Rock. I ate half a burger and brought the rest home to John. But I did have a few truffle fries with some garlic aioli. I know....truffle fries. Garlic aioli. What was I thinking?

So....trying to get right back in the swing of things and focus on the good stuff that happened this week. For instance, my workouts. I was able to get to the gym for four hard workouts this week. I'm sure if that hadn't been the case, I may have actually gained weight instead of maintaining. We had the BEST time at Thanksgiving. My family is so much fun. My niece and nephews had me laughing so hard I was literally crying several times. My sister completely outdid herself with the food and the decor. Everything was just amazing. And then there's this guy:

We've gotten to spend a lot of time together this week because he's been off work for a few days too. We are getting ready to head to Little Rock for a date. :)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful post-holiday weekend. Monday is gonna be here before we know it, folks. :(

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful

I am an extremely lucky woman. I have an amazing husband who makes me laugh every day, a wonderful group of friends, an incredible family, a lovely home, and a good job. Not to mention the cutest cat in the world. :) I have so much to be thankful for, and I try my best to remember it every day.

But today...I thought I would take some time and give thanks for a few things specifically related to my lap band journey.

I'm thankful for good timing. I'm so grateful that I attended my lap band seminar when I did. I was at a point in my life when I was really, truly, ready to receive the information and begin the journey. I can't say for sure exactly what it was that Dr. Wellborn said that resonated so much with me, I just remember that everything he said made perfect sense. Like someone had turned a light on in a dark room. He wasn't offering a fairy tale, nor was he trying to sell it as an easy fix. He just came in, spoke in plain language, and explained the process. In October of 2012, I was 40 years old and had been dieting since the 5th grade. No exaggeration. I had tried literally everything under the sun, and I felt like I was losing hope. The things that had worked for me in my 20's and early 30's, just weren't working anymore. Age and metabolism aren't necessarily friends, and I was feeling myself becoming more hopeless every day. In the days after the seminar, as I began to truly process everything I had heard, I felt the strangest emotion. It took me a while to recognize that it was hope and optimism about the future. Something that I had not felt in a long time.

I am thankful for waiting periods. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I'm also thankful that my insurance required six months of physician supervised weight loss prior to approving me for surgery. Not that I lost any weight whatsoever! In fact, I weighed more on the day of my surgery, than I did at the beginning of my journey. Now...if someone had suggested to me that I should be grateful for this time, I probably would've cut them with a dull butter knife. But now I realize it was exactly what I needed. It gave me a chance to fully indulge my Type A personality and my insatiable need for information. When I decided that this was the route I was going to take, I threw myself into researching every aspect of the surgery. I read blogs, books, web forums...literally everything I could get my hands on. I realize that reading about it and actually living it are two different things, but I did feel especially prepared going into the surgery. I'm also thankful that I had this time, because it allowed me to have my surgery at the beginning of the summer. Because I teach school, this was perfect. I had the whole summer to recover and ease into my new lifestyle.

I'm thankful that I cut myself some slack. In the days immediately following surgery, it's thrilling to see how fast the pounds drop. But after a while, it tapers off. Your body goes into what I affectionately like to call "WTF mode" as it recovers from the trauma of surgery. For me, Bandster Hell was not feeling hungry all the time before my first fill, it was that my weight loss completely stalled out. So, I simply stopped weighing myself. In fact, I didn't weigh myself again until around the time I made this post on July 13. By that time, the weight-loss was back on track.  I think if I had continued to weigh myself on a daily basis, it would have simply devastated me. And possibly derailed my progress.

I'm thankful that I have kept my commitment to exercise. Right after surgery, I began walking as soon as I could. After a few weeks, I added some light weights. I was going along just fine and then...BAM. Plantar Fasciitis. I took a couple of weeks off and tried to let it heal. And then, because I am stubborn, I went right back to walking. Not good. I realized quickly that it was going to take more than a couple of weeks. I now know that it can take some people years to fully recover. So...I began to look around for other things that I could do in the meantime. That's when I discovered what is now my favorite workout of all. The Cybex Arc Trainer. It's like an elliptical trainer, but it's easier on your knees, and claims to burn more calories. I know that when I started it, I could barely do 10 minutes. Over the past few weeks I've worked up to 30. I have to push myself, but I always feel great afterwards. There is something especially rewarding about pushing your body and having it actually respond. It's amazing to me that a few short months ago, I could barely walk around the track. I'm thankful for how strong I am becoming and that I have energy to live life more fully.

I'm thankful for my support group. Not only do I include family and friends in this group, but the people in my actual support group. I'm also incredibly thankful for the lap band blogging community. You guys are the absolute best. I started this blog to have a place to organize my thoughts, to document my journey, and for accountability. I never could have imagined all the wonderful friends I would "meet" too. And speaking of awesome banders, if you get a chance over the next few days, be sure to check out Lora over at Heart of Life. She is a very sweet, newly banded blogger, and is knocking it out of the park with her weight loss.

I hope everyone has the most wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November: 5 Things I'm Loving

I'm telling you what… give me some free time and I turn right back into a regular blogging fool. Having this week off has been simply wonderful. It was a long time getting here, but it was totally worth it.

I was thinking I would share a few things/products with you guys that I've been using and loving lately. Things that I really enjoy, or that make my day to day life better or easier. I know I like to read these sorts of features on other people's blogs, and I might even turn it into a regular monthly thing.

So here we go… In no particular order…

1. Mrs. Meyer's Orange Clove counter spray and dishwashing soap
I saw this at Target a couple of weeks ago and knew it was gonna be good. One sniff, and it went directly in my basket. I have always really liked Mrs. Meyer's products, and this may be my favorite scent of all. It smells like Christmas in a bottle. I've mentioned before that John and I live in a house that was built in 1935. We have no dishwasher. Anything that makes that task a little bit nicer and easier… I'm all about that. The countertop spray is a nice little bonus.

2. Southern Belle Maryland Style Crab Cakes
Living in a landlocked state, a good crab cake is hard to come by. I've had some really great crab cakes in my lifetime and I have to say, for frozen, these are pretty damn good. I found them in the freezer case at my Walmart, so yours will probably have them too. They have just the right balance of crab vs. breading. A serving of two cakes is 340 calories and 22 grams of protein. They make a delicious and easy meal when I don't feel like cooking. I mix up a little tartar sauce with light Hellmann's and pickle relish and serve it with some lemon wedges.

3. My BKR water bottles
If I had to name one of my biggest challenges, it's getting in all my water. I just don't like to drink water that much. Especially now that it's almost winter. I'd rather have a big mug of coffee! These bottles make it just a little bit easier. Rachel gave me the blue one for my birthday a couple of months ago, and I got the green one at a local Gap Body store. It is a 16 oz. glass bottle covered in a silicone sleeve. I think most all beverages taste better out of a glass bottle. Remember how good Coca-Cola's out of a glass bottle were back in the day? They get cold really fast in the fridge, and the silicone sleeve protects it a little bit. This is not one of the claims, it's more for insulation and grip, but I know I've dropped mine several times and it's just sort of bounced.

4. Torani Sugar Free Salted Caramel Syrup
Can we all just take a moment and admit that this whole salted caramel phenomenon has reached maximum market density? It's so funny to me how a few years ago, salted caramel was sort of a rarity and now it's absolutely everywhere. I mean...there is even a Glade Salted Caramel plug in. But salted caramel done right? It's still one of my favorite flavors. This Torani syrup is delicious. I can't find Torani anywhere near me, so I have to order it from the website. Right now they're featuring 10% off all orders, and free shipping over $59 until November 29. I have my eye on the Belgian cookie version.

5. Bobbi Brown Smoky Cool Eye Palette
This list would not be truly representative of me if it did not include at least one make up and/or beauty product. My family has joked about my "product fetish" for as long as I can remember. What can I say? I firmly believe in the transformative power of make up. If I couldn't be a teacher, or a chef, I think I'd really like to be a make up artist. Not only is this palette gorgeous, it's so versatile. You could create just about any eye look you wanted to. It also comes in a warm version, but for my coloring this one is just the ticket. I use it nearly every day.

So there you have it! What are you loving lately? I'd love to know!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Recipe: My Mom's Chili

Baby, it's cold outside! I'm sure everyone has heard about the freaky, cold weather that has taken over the Southern mid-section of the U.S. We had a steady, freezing drizzle all morning and the high only got to 35°. In central Arkansas in late November, this is extremely unusual. I remember quite a few 70 degree Thanksgivings! But I actually like this better because it puts me in a holiday frame of mind.

When the weather gets this cold, I always want to make chili. I've never been a fan of chili recipes that call for a crazy amount of ingredients. Or the ones that you have to cook all day long. My mother has been making this particular chili recipe since forEVER, and it's absolutely delicious. And absolutely easy. Four ingredients total, but the brand of the ingredients matters quite a bit.
Let's start with the most important. The seasoning. In my family, we swear by French's Chili-O. You know French's. They are the same people who bring us the deliciously evil little fried onions that go on top of green bean casserole. And that I used to eat straight from the container as a child. I digress. I've never had a problem finding this chili seasoning at Walmart or Kroger, but it may be a regional thing. I hope not.

Next we have the beans. I know a lot of people don't like beans in their chili, and I'm not the biggest fan of say, kidney beans, etc. Wendy's chili has way too many beans for my taste. But Bush's Chili Beans are great. And be sure to get the ones in mild sauce.

As far as the ground beef goes, use whatever you like that's lean. This is the first time I've made this recipe with the Whole Foods 95% lean ground beef. I know I've mentioned it before, but it is just so good. I'm starting to get a little bit panicky because I only have one pound left in my freezer. I'll have to make a pitstop next time I'm in Little Rock and stock up on some more.

The tomatoes don't really matter a whole lot, but get unseasoned ones. I don't like huge chunks of tomato in my chili, so I got the Hunt's petite diced.

Brown the ground beef and add the chili seasoning. Drain the tomatoes and add those in. And then the beans. That's it! Give it all a stir and let it simmer for around twenty minutes. Stir it around every now and then while it all comes together. It'll thicken up just a little.
And this is where I used to add copious amounts of shredded cheese and Fritos. And sliced avocado. And occasionally sour cream. And Jiffy corn muffins with butter. But I think tonight, I'll just have a reasonable portion with a Pillsbury Grands Corn biscuit. :)
This recipe makes six portions and that's how I calculated the nutritional info. One serving is 203 calories and 20g of protein.

Thanks for reading and stay warm!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weigh-In Saturday

Starting weight: 301
Last week's weight: 237
Today's weight: 235
Total loss: 66 pounds
Banded: 6/7/2013

I am really in a 2 pound groove here, aren't I?  It seems like for the last four or five weeks, that's the way it has been. And I have no problem with that. Slow and steady wins the race!

You guys know that I like to future trip a little bit about my weight, and imagine where I could possibly be by certain dates. If I keep up this 2 pounds a week thing, I could  be down 75 pounds by the time 2014 arrives. That's a really inspiring thought. Hopefully it will be inspiring enough to keep me on track during the holidays! I'm really not worried about that, though. More on that topic later.

So much to tell you guys. This past week has been so busy it almost seems like a blur. We made it to the Thanksgiving break. Finally! It's going to be so nice to have a full week off, and I plan to make the most of it.

I did not cook a single meal this week. I can't believe I'm even saying that. I have "prepared" a bunch of meals, but cooking has not been on the agenda at all. I've been away from home most evenings, so dinners have just kind of been on the fly. But, you know...I've learned that there are healthy choices everywhere. You just have to be smart about it. Monday night I met John for dinner at Chipotle, Tuesday night there was Chick-fil-A, and Wednesday night I had dinner with my friend Jordan at my very favorite Mexican restaurant of all time, Taco Mama. That meal also turned into Thursday night's dinner! I love it when that happens. I'm religious about logging everything in MyFitnessPal. Thank god for MyFitnessPal. If any of you would like to follow me, my username is juliemiller1972. Send me a friend request!

On Thursday night, I went to a weight loss surgery support group at a local hospital. My very good friend Melissa had lap band surgery almost exactly a month after I did. She invited me to come to their support group this month, because they were having a very special guest speaker. Support groups are something I truly enjoy, and it also gave me a chance to see her surgeon's bariatric coordinator, Audrey, who is the definition of awesomeness. The guest speaker was running a bit late, and I was shocked when Audrey called me to the front of the room to talk to everyone. I was happy to do it, but a bit unprepared, so I kind of reverted to what I call "my weight loss story". How I lost 150 pounds several years ago, how it all came back, and how I arrived at the conclusion that weight-loss surgery was the best option for me. A lot of the same things I said in my very first blog post.

The guest speaker arrived shortly thereafter, and he was fantastic. He's been super successful and has lost 90 pounds. He is also a patient of Dr. Wellborn, the same surgeon who did my lap band.

But...there was one part of his speech that I couldn't have disagreed with more. I want to run this by you guys and see what you think about it. He mentioned that early on in his journey, he would get very angry when he couldn't finish a meal. He used the example of dining at his favorite steakhouse, and only being able to get through a fourth of his prime rib. And being REALLY angry about it. Even feeling regretful that he had gotten the lap band. Basically, he wanted to be able to eat like he always had before. This has not been my experience in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I feel the exact opposite. Instead of being regretful that I don't get to finish a delicious meal, I'm happy that it's going to turn into two or three delicious meals. Like the meal I had Wednesday night at Taco Mama. I don't know…what do you guys think? Has your lap band ever made you angry? I was feeling especially uncomfortable that all of the pre-ops in the room were hearing him say this. I know for me, one of my biggest pre-surgery fears was that I wouldn't be able to get my grub on like I did before. That has turned out to be such a non-issue.

And so now here we are…a little less than a week away from the biggest eating holiday there is. Thanksgiving has always been very special to me, but not necessarily because of the food. Oh sure I like it, but my family does Thanksgiving a little bit differently. We never have turkey and for this I am grateful. I don't really dig it, and neither does my dad. We have a delicious lemon chicken usually. One year we even grilled steak. This year we are going to my sister's house, and I'm in charge of bringing the sweet potato casserole, the green bean bundles, and a delicious recipe that I found on Pinterest called "Crunchers". Click on that link if you dare. It seems like it's going to be dangerously delicious. So what is my holiday plan? To eat a little bit of everything and deny myself nothing. It's one day of the year, and I know myself well enough to know that if I feel like I am being denied, it will just send me into a Food Craving Circle of Death. Okay…maybe that's overstating it a little bit. I'm also prone to hyperbole, but you know what I'm saying. I'm going to enjoy myself, and let the band do it's job of controlling my portions.

Before I go, I would like to welcome my new readers. I'm so glad you're here! I hope everyone has a great weekend. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weigh-In Saturday

Starting weight: 301
Last week's weight: 239
Today's weight: 237
Total loss: 64 pounds
Banded: 6/7/2013

Woop! Another 2 pounds. I'm liking this. A lot.

How is everyone doing? I'm just feeling pretty glad to have made it to the weekend. This past week was BUSY. Full of really fun stuff though...support group with my dynamic duo, coffee with a new friend, dinner with an old friend, and Holiday House with the best friend. And four workouts squeezed in between. I know like a lot of you, this is the time of year when I start feeling like there are just not enough hours in the day. I also think the fact that it gets dark at like 4:45 in the afternoon has a lot to do with that too.

We are also in the final stretch before Thanksgiving at school. For the first time ever, we will get the full week off at Thanksgiving. I think I'm going to really dig it, but we had to give up some things to have it this way. There have been zero breaks since Labor Day, and the kids are tired. So. Are. We.

I cooked only one single time this week. I made a really good version of a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza. I like to pretend I don't like Taco Bell, but then I think about their Mexican Pizza and I realize I'm just a big faker. Oh the cripsy, greasy, deliciousness. My version is a regular flour tortilla baked until crispy, a schmear of fat free refried beans, 4 oz seasoned ground beef, some 2% shredded cheese, and my beloved Ortega (tastes just like Jack in the Box) taco sauce. 368 calories, 35 grams protein, and it was a monster. I could not eat the whole thing. I'd say about two thirds.
The other meals this week were grabbed on the go. Wendy's chili one night, some shrimp from Pei Wei.  Lunches were the exact same every day: 2 oz smoked ham, red pepper hummus, a string cheese, and my new favorite thing...Special K cracker chips. My friend Melissa turned me onto these, and they are so, so good. A half serving is a HUGE amount and only 55 calories.
 
I had my fifth fill on October 30, and this one was the game changer, folks. I now have 6.2cc in my 10cc band. I know it's all different for everyone, but this is the one that has caused me to make some major adjustments. Like? I can't have both breakfast AND lunch during a regular school day anymore. Until this last fill, I was having breakfast at 10:00 and then lunch at 12:45. Not anymore. I always start the morning with my Unjury coffee and then about 9:45 I have a Nature Valley Granola Thin. They are really delicious and just enough to keep me going until lunch time.
 
On workout days, I have a second cup of Unjury coffee around 2:00. I know it's the caffeine boost as well, but since I've started doing this, I have discovered that I can go longer and harder, and I don't feel like I'm about to pass out by the end of my workout. I've worked up to 25 minutes on the Cybex Arc Trainer. I still just LOVE it. By twelve minutes in, I'm pouring sweat. I've also switched to free weights instead of the Cybex weight machines, and I can really tell a difference. A trainer told me one time that cardio melts the fat, but you want to be building a brick house underneath with the weight training. I like that analogy. I'm all about building a Brick House. Shout out to The Commodores. :)
 
I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thanks for reading.
 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Weigh-In Saturday

Starting weight: 301
Last week's weight: 242
Today's weight: 239
Total loss: 62 pounds
Banded: 6/7/2013

Well hellllllloooooo, 230's. So glad to see YOU. It's been quite a while. :) I am super pleased with the 3lb. loss this week.

It has been a great day Saturday. I started off with Unjury coffee and some Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Strawberries. What was even better is that I made several servings of these last time and froze them. They freeze really well...you just have to microwave them for about a minute. The recipe for these is on my Instagram as well as a video of how to make them. I love Instagram. If you do too, you can follow me at: lapbandeats
After that I headed to the gym for workout #4 this week. I have never been super into workout clothes...I would throw on just any old t-shirt and sweat pants. But lately I've been on a workout gear kick. I wore some compression leggings and my new Nike dri-fit shirt today. Could looking better inspire better workouts? Hmmmmm. It's a theory worth investigating.
 
I stopped by Wendy's and got a small chili for lunch, and then came home and took a long, hot bath. Followed by the best 2 hour nap EVER.
 
Later, John and I headed to Little Rock to go to Chipotle for dinner. I got the same thing I always do...2 Carnitas tacos with fajita veggies, and salsa verde. Delicioso! John had a burrito the size of my head. After dinner, I convinced him that I needed to go to Ulta. I can spend quite a while there, but managed to get out in about 20 minutes with just a NYX lip gloss in Sponge Cake.
 
Walmart was next on the agenda and it was actually pretty painless. I got lots of good stuff for this week. We are getting ready to relax and watch some episodes of The First 48 or something on the ID channel. We LOVE stuff like that. Oh...and later there WILL be one of these. :)
Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Thanks for reading.
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Whoomp, There It Is!!!

There's the number I've been looking for! Today is my 5 Month Bandiversary and when I woke up this morning and stepped on the scale, I was thrilled to see that I made it to my 60 pounds lost goal! With a half pound extra for good measure. :)
 
I've been trying to be better about taking photos, but it's still FAR from my favorite thing. Here's a quick side by side:
 
And a face close up. Bear with me...this is sooooooo far out of my comfort zone.
 
 
Onward and downward. Thanks for reading!

 



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Recipe: Sloppy Joe Casserole

This is my very favorite kind of recipe. Delicious, filling, plentiful, and EASY. And when I say easy, I'm talking about 4 ingredients! Check 'em out:
I've become slightly obsessed with the 95% lean ground beef from Whole Foods. I tried it out a couple of weeks ago when I made tacos, and I'm not sure I'll ever use another kind. It's super tender, which is not something you always get with extra lean ground beef. It's a bit pricey, but still not as expensive as Laura's Lean Beef...which is what I always used before. Since the closest WF is thirty minutes away, I stocked up on my last visit and froze it.

This is so easy, you don't really even need a step by step, but here it is anyway. Roll out a can of Pillsbury Thin Crust pizza dough in a 9x13 Pyrex that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Be sure and press it up the sides to hold in all the delicious Sloppy Joe-ness.
Pre-bake it at 400 for about 5 minutes. This prevents the crust from being soggy. Ain't nobody got time for a soggy crust.
While that's baking, brown the ground beef and add in your can of Manwich sauce. I let this bubble on the stove for quite a while. It thickens up the sauce considerably and makes for a less runny casserole later.

Pour the sloppy joe filling into the pizza crust and top with 1 cup of shredded 2% mozzarella. Then put the whole thing in to bake at 400 for about 15 more minutes.
Here's what it looks like fresh out of the oven.
And my portion.
The nutritional lowdown is calculated for 6 big (for bandsters) servings.

Calories: 332
Total Fat: 11.5g
Protein: 24.8g

Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Weigh-In Saturday

Starting weight: 301
Last week's weight: 244
Today's weight: 242
Total loss: 59 pounds
Banded: 6/7/2013

Hey everyone! Happy Weekend! Really happy with the 2 lb loss this week. I am hoping to be down an even 60 by this Thursday...my 5 month bandiversary. We will see.

Please excuse the late posting, but I have been out and about all day enjoying the fabulous Fall weather. It has really been wonderful. I started out this morning with my Unjury coffee. I add a half scoop of Unjury, Vanilla most days, Chocolate Splendor when I'm in the mood for a mocha. I also add about 2 TB of fat free half and half. A whisk makes the process much easier. 70 calories, 12 g protein.
video
For breakfast I was craving something McDonald's-esque, but I know better. I had half of this instead. My version of a Sausage Egg McMuffin. I ate the other half after I got home from working out. It's a half of an English muffin with scrambled egg, a Morningstar Farms sausage pattie, and a slice of good ol' Borden processed cheese. You all are familiar with my love of the processed cheese. :) 270 calories, 24g protein.
After eating both halves of this, I wasn't hungry until about 6pm. I had a fill on Wednesday and it is really doing the trick. Nice.

When I was finished with all my errands and shopping, I stopped off at Chipotle for dinner. Chipotle is one of my hands-down favorites. I got 2 Carnitas crispy tacos with fajita vegetables and salsa verde. I apologize that there's no photo. I was so excited about eating, I totally forgot! 270 calories, 21 g protein.

Now it's about 9pm and I'm getting ready to watch some TV with my best buddy Furry Lewis.
John is playing a gig tonight so I haven't seen much of him today, but that's okay because we've got a Fall Picnic planned for tomorrow afternoon. This weekend is the peak of color here in Arkansas, so we are taking a little road trip up Scenic Highway 7 to our favorite place in the Ouachita National Forest. I'm excited!
 
Thanks for reading!