Ten in ’10 Challenge Week 4: Adjustments

It’s been a week of readjustments for my Ten in ’10 challenge, mostly focusing on food and nutrition. I’ve stuck with the Bar Method for exercise and went three times last week, and am still mulling the idea of adding additional days for a cardio workout.

Like I said, I focused on nutrition this week and am lucky to have a friend who’s a registered dietitian, basically someone I can turn to for free advice. This week I discussed my frustrations of not losing any weight with her and she advised that I may not be getting enough calories each day.

I’ve been tracking my calories, fat, protein and fiber using SparkPeople, which has been incredibly convenient as a free website I can access from work or home. I had my goals set up to be fairly rigid, allowing myself between 1200 and 1500 calories a day, the same range I’ve stuck to in the past to lose weight.

The RD thinks that’s too low which is why I’ve never been able to sustain the weight loss long term. Some of that I’m sure has to do with the fact that I stop working out once I hit my goal weight, but I agreed to try it her way and an now aiming for 1500 to 1800 calories a day.

It’s too soon to tell if it’s working but I am sure am hoping it will!

As for nutrition, I began taking Vitamin D3 supplements two weeks ago and recently learned that I’ve been taking too much. It turns out that the ginormous bottle I bought from Costco has 2000 I.U. in each of the 600 softgels or 500% of the recommended daily value.

The purpose of taking Vitamin D is that it helps the body absorb other vitamins and “support bone, colon, muscle, immune and breast health.” But, I don’t really need 500% every day.

As a replacement I bought calcium chews that also contain Vitamin D, but at a more acceptable level (50% per chew). The plan is to eat two chews a day with different meals and hopefully prevent myself from shrinking in my fifties.

Let me know if you need a whole lot of Vitamin D! I’ve got plenty to spare.

Ten in ’10 Challenge:

Welcoming 2010 with the Ten in ‘10 Challenge

Happy Holiday Eating

Ten in ‘10: Reflections and Week Two Goals

Ten in ’10 Challenge Week 3: Hitting a Wall

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Chick Chick Bulgur

Chick Chick Bulgur

Chick Chick Bulgur

This is a great, nutritious meal that makes enough to feed a family or for a single person like me to enjoy throughout the week. The Chick Chick Bulgur, or bulgur with chicken, chickpeas and red peppers, was inspired by a recipe for North African chickpea and bulgur soup.

Instead of a soup, I decided to prepare the ingredients as a casserole. The most significant addition was adding chicken (the original recipe was vegetarian) for more protein. I like using boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they have better flavor and don’t dry out as easily as chicken breasts, which is important in an oven-baked casserole. Plus, chicken thighs are usually cheaper than chicken breasts; combine that with better flavor and it’s a win-win.

If you’re not familiar with bulgur, now is the time to try it. Bulgur is a whole grain loaded with fiber and protein, and is a great substitute for rice.

If you’re trying to eat healthy or simply want a filling dish, this is it. Try it, you’ll like it!

Here’s the recipe:

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Ten in ’10 Challenge Week 3: Hitting a Wall

I started off pretty strong with the Ten in ’10 Challenge. I’ve been exercising three times a week and have been recording all the food I’ve eaten. My diet has improved tremendously with a lot more vegetables than before and I’m being careful of portion sizes.

Great, right?

Well, as I enter week four I feel like I’m starting to hit a wall. For starters, working out has become an internal battle of wills and each time the motivated part of me has won, but continues to get weaker from the struggle, whereas the lazy, forget about it side of me is slowly gaining strength.

And the food, too, has become more of a struggle. I find that I’m allowing myself more cheats, like at dinner last night with my family when I was the only one who wanted dessert and insisted on ordering a piece of chocolate cake for the table. Luckily, my family has also has little willpower so they all helped me finish the cake, but still… not the smartest decision.

I think my frustration comes from three weeks of being very good with almost nothing to show for it. Sure, I am getting stronger but I’ve barely lost any weight and my jeans are just as tight-fitting as before. It’s time for some results! Theoretically, I know I should change my attitude and figure out what else I can do to help this process along, like adding additional workouts, but today all I feel is frustration.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, see these posts chronicling my Ten in ’10 journey:

Welcoming 2010 with the Ten in ’10 Challenge

Happy Holiday Eating

Ten in ’10: Reflections and Week Two Goals

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Ten in ’10: Reflections and Week Two Goals

Bar Method

Motivation to attend Bar Method class (photo from BarMethod.com)

Before heading into my goals for week two of the Ten in ’10 challenge, let’s reflect a bit on week one.

It was an interesting week and one I think was successful in setting up the habits I hope become permanent. These include journaling all the food/drink/vitamins/air I consume and working out on a regular schedule.

Food: Always a challenge for me. I mean, come on, I’m a chef. I LOVE food and my career centers around it. Luckily, I’m no longer spending most of my time in kitchens testing and tasting food, but still it’s tough.

Through a LOT of trial and error, I’ve found that I do best when I record everything I eat. This is something that I’ll have to continue doing even when I reach my goal weight because it holds me accountable and (sometimes) stops me from the mindless snacking I’m so fond of.

I’ve been using SparkPeople to keep track of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and fiber, and only went above my recommended total calorie intake three times. Yes, that was three times too many but it’s a start. My only complaint with SparkPeople is the amount of protein they recommend seems too high and there were two days where I didn’t even meet the minimum requirements.

Fitness: Even a bigger challenge for me than food, if you can believe that. The truth is I don’t like to sweat and I’m kinda lazy. There, I said it for all to read. Motivating myself to get to Bar Method classes was hard, especially on the days I went after work and had to walk 15 minutes in negative temperatures to reach the studio. These classes are killer and I’ve been sore constantly, but I did attend three days last week. The main thing that keeps me going is the photo at the top of the post from the Bar Method website that is also framed in one of the studios. Someday my butt will look like that…

As for weight loss, well, there was none. I can’t quite figure that out except to say that just like I don’t like to throw anything out, neither does my body like to get rid of fat. Once it’s there it’s near impossible to get rid of, like gunk caked onto a pot that even soaking and elbow-grease won’t release. But I do feel a little stronger, so I’m trying to focus on that so I don’t lose my motivation.

As for the plan of starting to take vitamin supplements, as of yesterday I’m now taking a D3 vitamin every day, and will be for another 598 days (it’s a massive bottle from Costco). I still haven’t gotten around to buying calcium supplements but plan on doing so this week.

Week 2 goals:

  1. Continue journaling all food consumed.
  2. Stay within allotted calories EVERY day.
  3. Attend three Bar Method classes no matter how sore or tired I am.
  4. Buy calcium supplements.
  5. Warm up to the idea of adding two days of cardio workouts.
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Lobsta Fest Part I: Champagne Lobster Salad

Lobster Salad

Champagne Lobster Salad

My favorite part of New Years has recently become the annual tradition of feasting on lobster, although I should probably credit the grocery store across the street that delightfully has the tradition of putting live lobsters on sale the last week of the year. Lobster isn’t something I cook often and I never order it in restaurants, which is why this once-a-year treat is so special.

This year I went all out with the lobsters, which usually comes out sounding like lobstas. Try saying it out loud like that: lob-stah. Isn’t that more fun than lobster?

Shallot for vinaigrette, before roasting Roasted shallot for vinaigrette

Anyways, I decided to make the day extra special and bought two lobsters, which I then turned into three meals eaten over four days. Of course it took all my restraint not to eat both lobsters at once, but enjoying it in three variations totally paid off.

On New Years day I cooked both lobsters and ate one whole with melted butter and served alongside rice and black eyed peas to symbolize luck in the new year. I cleaned the other lobster and reserved the meat and shells for the remaining two dishes: soup and salad, but not just any soup and salad, these were special.

Grapefruit segments Roasted Shallot Champagne Vinaigrette

The following day I used the shells from both lobsters to make an incredibly rich and fragrant soup (recipe coming soon), and finally an amazing salad, which was a wonderful contrast to the unhealthy and heavy foods I’d eaten during the holidays. The Champagne lobster salad included lobster meat, avocado, grapefruit and a roasted shallot champagne vinaigrette.

I can’t wait to make this salad again next year! In the meantime, I’ll enjoy it with crab meat or shrimp, keeping lobsta a special New Years treat!

Champagne Lobster Salad

Champagne Lobster Salad

Here’s the recipe for Champagne Lobster Salad:

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