-20 and surviving a carb fest

I figured I would hop on the scale Friday before I headed home to visit my parents for the weekend. If I was down a bit, I’d keep that top of mind when I got to the place where food was always the sixth member of our family (after the parents, the brother, me and our beloved late Lab, Zakk).

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was down a full 20 pounds — it felt like it was a long time coming, but I’m glad I finally hit this major milestone. So excited by that number — and the fact that I was running extremely late to catch the 11 a.m. out of Port Authority — I didn’t have time to eat or grab a snack to take on the bus with me before I left the house.

Needless to say, by the time I got of the bus more than three hours later and after a grocery-store trip where we got about three bags full of carbs (think three different kinds of chips, two different kinds of pretzels, a loaf of bread, hamburger buns and this super-yummy baked oatmeal from the bakery department), I was famished. And bordering on hangry. So I opened one of the bag of pretzels and ate a few handfuls as I drove.

We picked up some Wendy’s salads, and I’m proud to say that my hunger didn’t force me to weaken and get the crispy chicken sandwich and fries I really wanted. I got a salad, and after I ate it when we got home, it just wasn’t hitting the spot. I went back to the pretzels I opened in the car. Then I dipped into the baked oatmeal. I went back to the pretzels and then I just felt sick. And ashamed of myself.

But that didn’t stop us from going out to a nice dinner later on that night. I had soup and ahi tuna, so my dinner wasn’t that bad, but I still felt awful, both because I knew I had eaten way, way too much and because I was severely disappointed in myself.

I woke up Saturday determined to be better. I decided to go for a walk, but since my folks live on a dirt road, and it had rained so it was all mud, I headed to the track at my old high school. I love walking on those rubbery tracks, but my God, they are so boring compared to walking the city streets or the woods surrounding my parents’ where I really wanted to walk, so after I hit the two-mile mark, I told myself I’d do another half mile and head home.

Just as I started the final two laps, a woman who had continually outpaced me — and I was walking “very brisk,” according to Map My Walk — passed me again, but this time she said hello and commented on how nice the day was so far. We started walking together and talking about walking, health and we even shared weight-loss tips with each other.

Before we knew it, we both exceeded our walking goals — by two and a half miles! It was great to have someone to pass the time with, and Denise and I exchanged numbers to continue sharing tips and walk the next time I’m back in Dallas. It was such a pleasant surprise, one that doesn’t really happen here in the city, where you just start chatting with a stranger.

I was so glad our walking paths crossed, and her pushing me to go those extra miles was instrumental in keeping me on the straight and narrow the rest of my time at home. Of course I ate Mom’s famous whimpies, but I only had one with a bun and just a small follow-up scoop of the meat, and when I still felt hungry, I had grilled chicken with spinach and balsamic. While I treated myself to some chips, I didn’t house most of the bag like I used to do.

I stayed pretty good on Sunday, and when I weighed myself Monday morning — just as a check up, not because I have an obsession with the scale — I had maintained Friday’s weight, which had always been unheard of after a weekend at home.

I knew going home to my parents, who used to own a restaurant and always had the best food around the house, would be a huge test to the willpower I’ve been building the past few months, but I daresay I passed with flying colors.

Now onto the next challenge, whatever that may be!

Nikki

 

Vixen in the Kitchen: Quinoa-stuffed tomatoes

Even though I’ve been doing most of our cooking, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like a vixen in our kitchen.

I’ve been bored and uninspired, falling into the rut of making the same things from my roster over and over. The fella is such an imaginative and inspired cook, so there’s some pretty big shoes to fill, but no matter how many dinners I make, I still get so nervous that I’m going to screw something up.

But I’ve started making a big batch of quinoa during the week to have for my lunches and am kind of quinoa-obsessed right now, so I thought I’d incorporate it into dinner one night. Since I was also craving my tried-and-true parmesan tomatoes, I thought I’d change them up by stuffing with quinoa.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Figuring two per person, I got six big beefsteak tomatoes. (There’s one hidden under the biggest one on top)
– Quinoa, olive oil, breadcrumbs and shredded mozzarella cheese.

I pre-made the quinoa (according to the box instructions) earlier in the day so it was cool for handling.

I heated the oven to 400 degrees, dug out the tomato stems and used a melon baller to remove most of the the “guts.”

As the oven heated, I mixed a few tablespoons of olive oil into the quinoa, tasting along the way until it was the right amount of saturated, and then added a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs. I mixed the cheese in last, and used about half of the package. I spooned the mixture into the tomatoes and topped it with a small pinch of cheese.

I popped the tomatoes in the oven for 10 minutes as I steamed fresh broccoli in the microwave, which I doused with some balsamic vinegar and dusted with breadcrumbs. The broccoli then went in the oven for 10 minutes, making the total cooking time just 20 minutes!

2014-04-16 19.53.12

Super easy, super fast and super delicious!

What’s your favorite quinoa recipe? I’m dying to try some new ones!

Nikki

Fighting with the scale

I have, quite literally, been walking my ass off the past few months.

My previous post about walking 25 miles over the course of a weekend, while I find it super impressive, is just part of what a normal week is for me. This week, for example, I’ve already exceeded 25 miles, and it’s only Thursday, and I’ll be putting on my Reeboks as soon as this post is done and logging another six or seven miles by the time I get home.

According to the first-quarter stat update from Map My Walk, I’ve already done 205 miles in 2014, and the e-mail said I’m “on track to hit 822” by yearend. I love a challenge, so I plan to raise that number by 178 to make it an even 1,000 miles at least.

Having said that and that fact that I’ve been walking my ass off and feeling my jeans get bigger and getting back into some of the clothes that have been shoved into the bottom of a drawer or the back of my closet, the scale has just been an unbudging SOB. In fact, it even went back up five pounds, which I know is a bold-faced lie because 1) I’m wearing those clothes that finally fit again, 2) I definitely see a difference in my face and stomach and 3) I am more often than not eating less than my caloric allowance because of all that damn walking, which is obviously a key to weight loss.

The scale has been giving me NO love lately. (Getty Images photo)

The scale has been giving me NO love lately. (Getty Images photo)

It’s been depressing me, to be honest, and the old me would’ve been derailed by my weekly (or multi-weekly, if I’m being completely honest) weigh-ins ten times over, so what the hell gives? I have never eaten so well, so clean and so good in my life — I mean, I am eating spinach and other veggies and fruits like it’s my damn job, we’ve pretty much cut out everything white and hardly eat a starch with dinner anymore. I actually crave all these good things on a daily basis, and even on the weekends, when we have our one lax day where we might, say, have an Irish breakfast for brunch or indulge in a burger or share a lemon gingerbread cookie at our favorite bakery, it’s usually after one of our mammoth walks so at the end of the day, I still have a ton of calories left over.

So yes, scale, I am having a pretty big beef with you right now. I’ve been chalking it up to the fact that it was the cheapest scale they had at the store when I bought it last year, but c’mon. It’s one of those stupid old non-digital ones, how could you not work properly? Especially after you showed me that 15-pound loss so lovingly just a few weeks back?

Last night, I finally confessed my depression about the whole thing to the fella, and he found it BS, too, saying he knows I’ve been losing because he sees it when he looks at me and knows how well I’ve been doing. He thought maybe it’s because it’s a cheapo scale and that maybe, since he was standing on one of the floorboards that creak in the house because it’s slightly raised, where I’m stepping on in the bedroom might be uneven or something.

With that in mind this morning, when I finally decided to hop back on (it’s been about a week since I last weighed myself because of this whole scale-hating episode), I moved the scale and voila, there was that lower needle that I’ve been looking for, thank the gods of weight loss!

In my years (and years) of trying to lose, I have always read in fitness magazines and on blogs that you should throw your scale out because of the very reason I’m about to mention as the reason I just can’t perform said action. Most women have been trained to think in numbers when it comes to weight, not just “going by how your clothes feel” like those blogs and magazine articles tell us to do.

It’s really hard for me to not track my progress with a scale, and I think that not having one when we first moved to New York, though it was not the sole catalyst for the weight gain I am now battling, I do regret not having one to check in on. I think seeing the number creep up might’ve helped get me in line a lot more than my tightening pants, which is stupid, I know, but I think some of you will agree with me that we sometimes come up with excuses like, “Oh, they were just washed,” and then come home with the button imprint embedded on our bellies.

So what about you? Are you a slave to a scale or a go-by-the-fit-of-my jeans kind of person? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions!

Nikki

25 miles closer to who I want to be

Ever since I downloaded it, I have been obsessed with Map My Walk. I always knew that I covered a lot of ground walking around the city, but it’s pretty amazing to see just how much it all adds up to.

Take this weekend, for example. From Friday to Sunday, I walked a record (for me) 25 miles around this great island.

My 12-mile journey on Friday took me from 34th Street down to St. Mark’s and the Bowery, to the Village and SoHo, where I met up with the fella after work and we walked uptown on the West Side, stopping to eat before catching a train home at 59th Street. We laid low on Saturday, only logging one mile, when, since I cannot tell a lie, we walked to the neighborhood taco truck for dinner.
It is what it is.

The route of yesterday's 12-mile excursion.

The route of yesterday’s 12-mile excursion.

We more than made up for that yesterday, when we walked from 14th Street all the way home to 149th, which included wandering through Central Park, where we met up with the Girl Child at 81st Street. Thanks to zigzagging blocks here and there and walking through the park, we logged another 12 miles for the day.

It’s invigorating, really, to see how far I go and how my pace varies throughout the course of a walk, and I find it a great motivator to keep going, to best my last mile’s pace or get just one extra block in … which usually turns in to two or five or 10.

Next weekend, if the stupid weather cooperates, we’re planning on doing our biggest walk yet: The whole island of Manhattan, from Inwood down to Battery Park. It should be pretty easy because Manhattan is a little more than 13 miles, which is only one more mile than I’ve already done twice just this weekend.

And looking even further into our fitness future, we plan to add jogging into the mix and start taking part in some of the many 5Ks held in the city. Even if I can’t jog all or part of those races at first, I know I can make those 3.1 miles my bitch pretty easily, especially given the mileage I’ve accomplished this weekend — and this is just the beginning!

Nikki

-15

I hopped on the scale today and was extremely pleased to see the number down 15 pounds!

I’ve been working my tail off with exercising and eating right, and I love seeing it pay off like this.

I’ve continued to be super mindful of tracking my food in My Fitness Pal and all my movements in Map My Walk, and, thanks to the fella and I taking advantage of last weekend’s glorious 50-degree temps, we walked almost 17 miles on Saturday and Sunday combined. On Saturday, we found a new path along the Hudson that led us to The Little Red Lighthouse, and on Sunday, we walked from 43rd, through Central Park and home to 149th. Needless to say, I think my new purple Reeboks are officially broken in!

According to my weekly summary from MMW for March 3-March 9, I did 10 workouts for 8.2 hours, covered 23.5 miles and burned 5,405 calories. Not too shabby I daresay! I think when I’m down 30 pounds, I am going to start incorporating jogging as part of my walks to help ward off any plateaus and to, you know, start putting the “run” back into Run, Nikki, Run!

Hope you have a great Thursday — and an even better weekend!

Nikki

Beating weekend temptations

I find it so easy to be good during the week, especially when I’m in an office setting. But even working from home, I tend to make fairly healthy choices Monday through Friday while also managing to get in some lengthy walks or some time on the Air Climber.

But I’ve always struggled with the celebratory nature of weekends.
* At first, it was letting loose with my friends because, well, that’s just what you sometimes do on Fridays and Saturdays.
* Then it was finding weekend traditions with the fella and the Boy and Girl Childs.
* Then there was that year the fella and I did the long-distance thing and crammed all of our time together into two days.
* That was followed by our move to the city and two demanding and exhausting jobs and subway time that amounted into much, much more than 40-hours a week, so a lot of weekends were spent just trying to recharge ourselves inside our tiny railroad apartment that we didn’t get to see too much of during the week.
* After a year of that, we moved to a new place that had ample room for me to spread my exercise wings again, the GC moved in with us, I started freelancing, and the fella got a job he loves. Weekends became his time to be in the apartment we all love so much, but after being at home all week, I was itchy to get out and explore together instead of solo like I do during my off time during the week.

Sure, there were some struggles as I tried to let him have some couch time and he begrudgingly gave in when I’d start saying, “Let’s go for a walk! Wanna take a walk?” in the same voice I’d ask a dog.
You should know it’s also my Talking-to-Children voice.

Since starting this healthier lifestyle together, though, getting exercise in is just something that we now do on autopilot.

Take yesterday, for example. We needed groceries, but instead of just heading to the store four blocks away and coming back, we did a three-mile walk around our neighborhood. And up here in Harlem, that means we walked up more than a few steep hills. And on Saturday, we walked from the restaurant on 41st where we had dinner to our beloved bakery on Bleecker two-plus miles away to share our weekly treat, a lemon gingerbread cookie.

So today, when I stepped on the scale, for the first time in a really, really long time, my weight didn’t go up over the weekend. It stayed where it had been on Friday, and it was empowering. Of course, it would’ve been better if I’d lost weight over the weekend, but I’m not going to knock this maintain one little bit, especially given my indulgent weekends in the past. There will be time for that as we continue on this path.

We’re thinking our food through now, like only stealing a few fries from the kids instead of having our own plates at The Counter burger joint Saturday or making a killer meal of bacon-wrapped scallops and whole wheat pizza with spinach, olives and fresh mozzarella last night or savoring our nightly desserts.

Yes, they were both just as good as they look.

Yes, they were both just as good as they look.

I appreciate food so much more now that I’m not shoveling it in as fast as I can. I don’t eat as much, and it tastes so much better. My mom always accused me of “living to eat” instead of “eating to live,” and I own up to that. I love food, and I will always love food, but I think I’ve melded those two sayings into something good for me at last.

What about you? Do you “live to eat,” “eat to live” or a delicious combo of both like me? How do you survive weekend temptations?

Nikki 

-10, and a lifestyle change

Well, would you look at that?
I’ve gone and dropped 10 pounds since January 6.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve dropped this kind of weight, and I’m not gonna lie.
It feels good, real good.

I wore a pair of dress pants yesterday that, when last worn way back in the summer, were uncomfortably tight.
Yesterday, though, they were slightly baggy.

We’ve mixed up our eating habits per the fella’s nutritionist, which means no more starches at dinner for the time being, so we’ve been filling up on lots of vegetables instead, which has been quite delicious.

I’ve been mad-craving wine lately, so I texted the fella and asked if I should chill a bottle to accompany tonight’s orange-ginger salmon and spinach. “It’s up to you,” he replied.

I thought about it for a second and remembered the little heart-shaped Snickers that I didn’t eat from Valentine’s Day.
It wasn’t so long ago we’d share a bottle and have a much bigger, much worse dessert than the 70-calorie sugar-free chocolate pudding cup we now have while watching our “stories” at night.

I'll take the one on the right tonight, thanks. (Getty Images photo)

I’ll take the one on the right, tonight, thanks. (Getty Images photo)

“I think I’d rather dessert,” I texted back.

And just like that, I realized we were balls deep in a lifestyle change we were actually sticking to for the very first time.

Of course, I could have a glass — or two — of wine if I damn well pleased, but I like that I’m finally willing to restrain myself, to say, “Either … or …” before making a decision to eat something, to think about if it’s really the best thing for me to eat right now.

I’ll see you at the next 10, wine, and we’ll celebrate together.

Nikki

Walking on air again

When my mom gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas, the plan was to use it to get Kindle books. But with receiving a bunch of book gifts, a winter that’s actually, well, been winter and the recent addition of HBO Go to our TV (which gives me unlimited access to “Sex and the City,” aka My Favorite Show to Watch Whilst Exercising), I knew there was something much better for me that that gift card could go toward.

So I  went ahead and ordered a new Air Climber.

Hello, old friend. I've missed you.

Hello, old friend. I’ve missed you.

It sure has been a long time since I’ve written about my beloved AC (two years, to be exact!), but now that we live in an apartment that actually has consistent heat (as opposed to our apartment back in Pennsylvania which was so frigid it caused the AC’s billows to crack) and room for me to step (which our first New York apartment decidedly did not have), it’s high time I got back on the red and black contraption that could always be counted on to give me good results.

So when it arrived last week, I couldn’t wait to hop on and actually get to wear my brand-new Reeboks, which I thought I’d have to wait until spring to break in. I was reminded very quickly how hardcore the AC is. Fifteen minutes in, I thought my legs were going to give out, which was surprising because you and I both know I walk a lot, but man, this just — ahem — steps up the cardio to a whole different level.

I lost four pounds since last week already, which pleases me greatly. So while it may take me a few weeks to get back to making it through a whole “SATC” episode like I used to on the AC, at least I’m taking a — cough, cough — step in the right direction.
OK, I’m done with the puns, promise. Well, in this post at least.

Nikki

Get up and go

Just as I was getting balls deep into a week-plus cycle of sleeping through the night, I was wide awake this morning at 2 a.m. and stayed that way until almost 6 a.m.

Since I was up, I did what any good girl would do while the rest of the house and building slumbered and took to Netflix, where I  continued my recent tear of watching fabulous documentaries about fabulous New Yorky people, like the Kennedys and Diana Vreeland (can I just pause to mention how frigging fantastic she was?? Such style! Such great vision! Watching it made me realize that even though I work from home, there’s no reason I shouldn’t dress up or not wear lipstick around the house on a daily basis because why the hell not? I just might be wearing my best red lips right now if you must know. It goes fantastically with my black yoga pants!).

Last night started with a program about Candy Darling, one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars. She was so beautiful and tragic, and it’s kind of BS that she, who was born as a man, had better cheekbones than I do. I also tried to watch a doc about Halston, but the interviewer was so unprofessional and stupid I had to turn it off after 10 minutes. But I watched enough of it to see some of Liza Minnelli’s fantabulous apartment and have decided that I would like to have that be my “downtown” pad, so don’t be surprised if you hear a ding-dong one of these days, “Lucille 2.”

MMWAnyway, now that that’s all out of my system, even though I super-cleaned the apartment and did some work, all day I felt sluggish and on the verge of a binge. I know  it was definitely because I was so tired mixed with the fact that I know for a fact I haven’t been drinking as much water as I should lately (for shame!). It wasn’t until I took the garbage outside that I realized how nice it was here in New York today — like, almost 40 degrees nice! — so I came back upstairs, put on some workout clothes, downloaded a new pedometer app that works with My Fitness Pal called Map My Walk and out the door I went.

The fella had gone to a nutritionist last night, and she gave him a meal plan that the two of us are going to put into practice ASAP. Some of the stuff, like cutting out white foods and most of the processed junk in our lives and adding some more fish and protein-rich foods into our diets we’ve actually done in recent weeks, so hopefully this will be an easy transition and lifestyle change.

We’re both pretty excited and hopeful that this will be the thing that sticks, finally. If you’ve been reading RNR for any amount of time, you know I’ve fallen off and gotten back on the exercise/healthy-eating wagon more times than Chris Christie has been in the news in recent weeks. Sad but true, but I know that us doing this together is a key to success. And a little — OK, a lot of — competition between the two of us is sure to kick things up a notch, especially because the bastard males of the species lose weight so much faster than women. Hmmph.

Now that I logged a brisk almost two-mile walk this evening, I feel better, less on-the-verge-of-binging and more quiet inside my head. I tell ya, they were onto something with this thing called exercise …

So are any of you on Map My Walk? What do you think about it?

Nikki