In control?

What a weekend I had. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Fun. Frightening. Stressful. Silly. Nerve-wracking. Nice. Tiresome. And totally awesome.

I left my house at 6 a.m. Friday morning and didn’t arrive back home until 9:30 p.m. Sunday night. I traveled to Milwaukee this past weekend for a Weight Watchers seminar.

But here’s the thing, this is the first time since I started my healthy living journey that I had no control over the majority of meals starting with lunch on Friday and ending with lunch on Sunday. When I realized this before I left, I kind of panicked. But really, why? I was going to a Weight Watchers seminar. Did I really think they were going to feed us unhealthy food? Not really, I guess, but I was a little nervous and worried.

I didn’t have to be.

The meals were awesome. Lots of fruit and veggies. Perfect amount of protein and carbs. Hardly any fat and just the right amount of grains. Every meal had a huge bowl of fruit with honeydew melon, canteloupe, grapes, pineapple and strawberries. We had apples, oranges and bananas for snacks. I have to admit, I was thoroughly impressed with the food. Especially because we were at a Sheraton Hotel and all but one meal was provided by the hotel.

On Saturday night, we – our group of 15 WW women – were on our own for supper. We ended up splitting into two groups – one group went to a restaurant called Stir Crazy (I think it was Chinese or something like that) and the other went to…believe it or not….Fuddruckers! Yes, the hamburger joint.

And yes, I was in that group. I chose Fuddruckers. See, the cool thing is, Fuddruckers has healthy choices. They offer a variety of burgers, including elk, ostrich and buffalo, which are healthier options because the meat is real lean. And the healthier burgers come on a healthier wheat bun. I opted for the turkey burger. I have been wanting to try one and haven’t gotten around to doing so. It came on a wheat bun that wasn’t all slathered in butter and toasted on a greasy grill. I did, however, only eat the top part of the bun and the whole burger. No cheese. No mayo. Nothing. It was plain. Although I did dunk it in ketchup.

And you know what, it was pretty dang good. Awesome actually. See, the thing that people don’t realize is that you can have a burger, even a “real” hamburger, but you don’t need to drown it in mayo or cheese or some other type of fattening dressing or sauce. Just enjoy the taste of the meat and the bun. Dunk in a little ketchup or even a little barbecue sauce if you must. Of course, I did have fries with my turkey burger, but I opted for the sweet potato fries, which are a tad bit healthier for you.

Before I left for this weekend, I had made the decision not to track my food while I was gone. I decided that I would just try it and see what would happen. Now, keep in mind that I hit the hotel fitness center bright and early Saturday morning (yes, it was at 6 a.m.) and I kept my portion sizes in check. Oh, and also, there were no desserts offered at any of our meals. No pie. No cookies. No cake. No brownies. No rolls of any kind. No chocolatey ooey gooey goodness. And you want to know what? I survived. I was just fine.

Now, here is the really, really, really cool part…….when I stepped on the scale this morning, I had no idea – I mean no idea – whether or not I had stayed the same or gained. Well, I was quite please when I saw that the number this morning was less than the number I saw on Friday morning when I left. It was less. I couldn’t believe it. Really, I couldn’t. I am guessing it won’t stay, but I don’t care. I didn’t gain and that makes me happy.

And believe it or not, this morning, I was actually excited to grab my tracker and write down my daily food intake. I actually missed it. Weird, I know.

Where I came from…

Sometimes, when I am feeling down, stressed, crabby, bored or even happy for that matter, all I want to do is eat. And not healthy food. Crap food. High calorie, high fat food. The kind of food that in the end, makes me feel worse…and remorseful.

We, as in me, really, need to realize that it’s not always food that fixes us. When I am stressed, eating, as in eating crap food, actually really tends to make it worse.

So, sometimes, when all I want to do is stuff my face, I take a look at where I came from and realize, I don’t ever want to go back to that place, to the old me. To the unhealthy me.

This me:

The old me

By looking at these pictures, it reminds me of how far I’ve come and how much I appreciate my new lifestyle. It reminds me that I am doing great and that food is not the answer. It reminds me that I am 50-pounds lighter and a heckuva lot more healthy.

Sometimes, I just need to take a look at where I am and know that this is where I want to stay. Healthy. Plain and simple.

Here, right here:

The new me!

Another Rocco recipe

It was another “date night” at our house last night. And once again, we opted to try a recipe from Rocco DiSpirito’s new cookbook, “Now Eat This!”

I should note that my husband loves cookbooks and will “read” them like he does a Stuart Woods or Dean Kuntz novel. He will sit down on the couch and read/analyze the recipes, noting this or that about certain ones, pondering which one we should try. He will name at least five to seven before he settles on “the one” we are going to try for our typical Saturday date nights.

This time, he chose the steak fajitas with avocado and salsa (page 147 if you happen to have the book!). After selecting it, he made out the grocery list and then headed to the grocery store. I had to take photos at an event for the newspaper, so I wasn’t able to go along for the first part of the grocery shopping trek. Typically on Saturday afternoons, early evenings, you can find Al and I at either of the two grocery stores or Walmart or…all three, as was the case last night. People may find it boring, but to Al and I it’s an adventure. It’s about spending time together. Quality time. You would think we would know those stores like the back of our hands for as much time as we spend in them, but we don’t and it’s fun to browse and shop each of them. It’s amazing how many products are in a grocery store. Products that are fun, exciting and unusual. Products that are anything but your typical meat and potato or box-type meals.

We literally walk each aisle, slowly browsing each shelf to see what’s there, what’s available and of course, to find what we are actually looking for. I think every couple should try it…at least once. It’s amazing how much fun you can have!

Okay, so back to the recipe. Here are the ingredients: two 6-ounce pieces of lean filet mignon (we used lean top sirloin); half of a 1-ounce package of fajita seasoning; non-fat cooking spray; one large Vidalia onion, sliced thin; one large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin; one half of a ripe avocado, peeled; 1 cup store-bought fresh salsa; one half cup chopped fresh cilantro; eight 6-inch low-carb, high-fiber tortillas, such as the La Tortilla Factory (this is what we used, but only used four of them); and a half cup of non-fat Greek yogurt (we used the Athenos brand).

Now, here is what you do:

1. Heat a grill pan over high heat (we just used the actual grill).

2. Season the steaks with half of the fajita seasoning, and spray them lightly with cooking spray. When the grill is hot, add the steaks and grill them for three minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steaks to a platter, cover them with foil and set them aside to rest.

3. Combine the onion and the peppers in a large bowl and spray them lightly with cooking spray. Season them with the remaining fajita seasoning and place them on the grill (Al uses a grill pan on the grill to do the veggies). Grill them until they are tender crisp and little charred, about seven minutes. Transfer the veggies to a bowl, cover with foil to keep them warm.

4. While the veggies are grilling, mash the avocado lightly with a fork in a medium bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the salsa and half of the chopped cilantro to make the guacamole.

5. Holding them with fireproof tongs, char the tortillas on each side on the grill (or toast them under the broiler). Be careful not to burn them. Place the tortillas on a plate when done and cover them with a towel to keep them warm.

6. Cut the steaks into thin slices.

7. To assemble the fajitas, spoon some of the guacamole onto each tortilla. Pile the steak and the pepper-onion mixture on top of the guacamole. Top with the yogurt (which by the way is very good and tastes just the same as fat free sour cream but is much healthier for you), some salsa and some cilantro.

8. Eat and enjoy!

Here is a picture of what they looked like:

The fajitas!

Here are the nutrition facts – Calories: 331; Protein: 34 g; Carbs: 39 g; Cholesterol: 57 mg; Fiber: 18 g; Sodium: 1,167 mg. We didn’t use the filet mignon, which he suggested. We used very lean top sirloin, which would make it a little healthier and we only used four tortillas, which would also change the nutrition facts. The facts listed are for his exact recipe!

Remember, you can find me on Facebook, just click here and if you want to chat or have a question, feel free to send me an email. Keep in mind, however, that I may not respond immediately, but I promise I will respond. Email me at

Sharing my experience…again

Scared speechless? Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I know, it’s hard to believe for most of those who know me. But I really am if, or when, I have to stand up in front of a group of people and talk or give a speech. I sweat. I stutter, kind of. My voice quivers and yes, sometimes, I even clam up and nothing comes out. I know, once again, hard to believe, right?

Well, I decided to take a class at Alexandria Technical and Community College called, “Scared Speechless – How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking.” The class was taught by Robin Johnson, who I have to say, was fantastic…and I am not just saying that because she will probably be reading this. She was very calming, professional, funny and down to Earth. She made us feel at ease. Like we were normal and not the scaredy-cats we all believed we were. She believed in us, which in turn, made us believe in us. (If that made sense!) The class was great and I am happy I took it. Despite the fact that last night, all the students in the class (there were only a handful of us) had to each give an eight-minute speech.

I really didn’t know what the heck I was going to talk about for eight minutes. EIGHT WHOLE MINUTES. That in itself was scary. But then, it happened. I had to write a column for the newspaper and when I finished it, I immediately thought, “OMG, I just wrote my speech!” Awesome.

Well, my column (I wrote about my 10K running experience), which you can read here, didn’t last eight minutes when I read it out loud, so I had to include more information…an intro at the beginning and a longer ending. When I read it at home, it was five seconds short of eight minutes. Whew! I made it. I even practiced it a few times.

Well, last night, when I read it in class, some how, some way, I ended up stretching it out even longer and it turned into a 10-minute speech. Yep, TEN WHOLE MINUTES! I stood up, in front of a group of people and spoke for 10 minutes. And I don’t think my voice was as shaky as I expected it to be.

I want to thank Robin for giving me the encouragement and the skills needed to start my journey of getting over the fear of public speaking. I have to admit that afterward, I was pretty pumped up. Although, if anyone was standing close to me, they would have seen all the sweat beads formed over my upper lip!

I just hope that next time, it goes as smoothly as I felt it went last night!

Remember, you can find me on Facebook, just click here and if you want to chat or have a question, feel free to send me an email. Keep in mind, however, that I may not respond immediately, but I promise I will respond. Email me at

Taking a hiatus…from eating at restaurants!

After three days in a row of eating out, I have decided I am taking a hiatus from restaurant food and I am really going to try and eat at home for the next two-three weeks. It’s not that hard, actually. I’ve done it before. And survived.

However, with my schedule over the course of the next few weeks, it may be a lofty goal.

I am sure going to try, though, because seriously, going out to eat sure takes a toll on the ol’ pocketbook. Plus, the calories really add up fast, as does the sodium. My gosh, restaurant food must be salty! I seriously feel like the Michelin Man or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the movie, Ghostbusters. Plus, the number on the scale this morning was not fun to see. Every morning, right before I get in the shower, I step on the scale. For the last couple of months, it has been hanging around the 138 mark. Nice, huh? Yep, much better than the 192 pounds it used to be! Anyway, the numbers this morning…were…are you ready for this….144 pounds. In the course of three days, I had gained about six pounds. Yes, 6….S-I-X!!! Craziness. Pure and simple.

So, it all started on Friday when I went out to lunch with my Weight Watchers co-workers. I ate healthy…a #4 Turkey Tom Unwich with no cheese, no mayo, add avocado spread and cucumbers. Oh, and I also had a bag of plain, baked Lays potato chips. Not bad. Actually, it was pretty darn good…and healthy!

Then, after my husband got home from work (I took the day off), we headed to Fargo, ND for Saturday’s 10K race. After checking into the hotel and then a brief stop at Scheel’s to pick up a headband for Al, we headed to HuHot, a Mongolian grill. This can be healthy, as long as you stick to lots of veggies and stay away from the noodles and rice and only have one helping. Whoops, I, believe it or not, had two helpings and had my fair share of both noodles and rice. Aren’t you supposed to load up on carbs before a race? Think so, but probably not as much as I ate. Stupid. I seriously felt sick after, but it did taste great when I was eating it.

On Saturday, after the race, we headed to IHop, which by the way, is becoming one of my favorite go-to breakfast places. They have healthy options on the menu, which I love. They are called Simple and Fit and are all under 600 calories. I had the Simple and Fit Two x Two x Two, which is two pieces of turkey bacon, two pancakes (I had it with sugar free syrup) and two scrambled eggs using egg substitute. The calories, without the syrup, was listed at 400. Not bad. Didn’t feel totally full when I was done. It was a nice feeling.

Saturday evening, Al and I headed out to Bella’s on Broadway, an Italian restaurant in downtown Alexandria. We had planned to go out to eat because we were celebrating our second wedding anniversary. Because it was a celebration and because I had planned for it…I mean, come on, I ran a 10K that morning, I didn’t even think about what I was ordering and just ordered whatever I wanted! Of course, I had to indulge in the pre-meal bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and oil. Yum, it is sooo good. I think I ate four pieces! Or maybe it was five. We also ordered a bottle of wine to go with our meal. Yes, I said bottle. Not glass. For my entree, I ordered the Farfalle Diavolo, which was bowtie pasta with artichokes, black olives, tomatoes, onion and garlic in a red pepper cream sauce. Yes, it was as delicious as it sounded. Believe it or not, we opted not to have dessert…at Bella’s anyway. Oh, and I actually didn’t finish my meal. I brought home leftovers. (Yes, I devoured them the next day!)

We ended up going for a walk and found ourselves at another restaurant/bar…6th Avenue Wine and Ale in downtown Alexandria. We ordered the chocolate blossom for dessert, which was a chocolate pastry thing with chocolate ganache inside a puffed pastry with whipped cream and caramel on top. It was…just okay. Yes, just okay. Too much pastry and not enough chocolate for me. Al actually ate most of it.

So, when Sunday arrived and I woke up, I could feel the puffiness. My fingers were swollen. My toes were swollen. And I was thirsty as all get out. The sodium was definitely having an affect on me. I usually tend to stay away from sodium and I rarely, and I mean rarely, eat prepackaged-type foods that are oozing with too much sodium. My body just can’t handle that much sodium.

Well, we got a call from our friends from Fargo…they were on their way home from Sartell and wanted to stop in Alexandria to visit and…to go out to eat. We couldn’t resist because we don’t see them that often and we LOVE visiting with them. They are one of our favorites couples.

So, off to yet another restaurant. This time, it was Tennessee Roadhouse, a local restaurant out by the Interstate. We haven’t eaten at this restaurant in a really long time, so I was actually looking forward to it. Because I felt like I was starving for some reason or another (it was probably the wine from the night before), I ordered the barbecued pulled pork on a bun (yes, the bun was slathered in either oil or butter and then grilled to perfection) with sweet potato fries. I just wasn’t feeling very healthy. Well, I am glad (kind of) that I ordered what I ordered because…OMG! It was delicious. I scarfed the entire meal. It was delicious, fattening, sodium-filled and I didn’t even care. We ended up having dessert because part of our order was messed up. The turtle cheesecake definitely hit the spot. Was I really hungry for it? Nope. Was I filled to the max already? Yep. But did I eat my half and then some? You betcha. And was I feeling like absolute crap afterward? Yes, indeedy, I was. I made my hubby walk around Walmart for nearly an hour because I was feeling so yucky.

So, now it’s Monday and I am trying to detoxify and rid my body of all the sodium, fat and junk from this weekend and the three-day eating binge. I am proud of today. I ate awesomely. Lots of fruits, veggies and hardly any sodium. I even managed to get in a 2.5 mile run. Thank goodness.

So, my goal stands. I am hoping to stay out of restaurants for the next couple of weeks. But, I am a realistic person and if it so happens I end up going out to eat, I WILL EAT HEALTHY. I will. I promise…to you, my readers, and to myself. I also plan to exercise at least four days each week. And I will do it. I have to. I can. I will.