Muffin Top Motivation

February 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Oh Boy ūüė¶

Awesome. Up 17 pounds since June. ¬†Was/am very down about this, self-pity, possibly a lick of seasonal affective d/o (?), absolutely zero motivation to control my weight. ¬†I’m a chronic complainer but non-action-er; not a good trait with those important things in life. ¬†Last time I posted, my goal was to track on sparkpeople and get more yoga in my schedule. ¬†Since then, I’ve barely gone to yoga but a handful of times despite an astronomical monthly fee, joined another gym closer to work, and continued to eat like a boar, not to mention failing to track meals. ¬†Recipe for shitfest.

I do not respond well to non-constructive, insulting criticism as noted in my first post, so I’ve been exquisitely lucky to have an incredibly encouraging, loving, and motivating (OXFORD COMMA, HA!) boyfriend this time around. ¬†He reminds me daily that I’m beautiful just the way I am but I absolutely do not feel beautiful. ¬†My clothes are even tighter, my face is more full, and I’m always exhausted, spiraling into even lower level of motivation. I feel like a failure with every look in the mirror or put on a pair of jeans. Forget the skinny jeans. ¬†Vicious cycle. ¬†Oh, and my appetite is atrocious. I could eat another full meal right after finishing one, always have room for dessert, and have been cooking even more non-healthful recipes…mainly butter-laden junk. ¬†It’s awful.

Well, thanks to my sister’s awesome boyfriend, I changed gym locations and even had a personal training session…Meh. ¬†What felt amazing was going to the gym and creating my own workout routine last night. ¬†I haven’t been this excited to exercise or take care of my health in a LONG time. ¬†Feels so good to have that motivation back. ¬†Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive family who will need to heavily rely on for continuing motivation and healthful habits. ¬†Will continue with the Hot Yoga but discontinuing the renewal membership at the end of the month. ¬†Continuing with the gym and home work outs when needed. ¬†Found some great FREE workouts from women’s health and fitness mag…they will be a staple. ¬†Might even re-join weightwatchers with my mom.

wish me luck!

Time to Revamp

December 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Since the last post may changes have come about; great boy, progressed to second year of residency, travelled to California for the first time, and gained an S-TON of weight. ¬†Gained NINE lbs!! ¬†Was working nights only, discontinued weightwatchers because of cost and basic lack of commitment, and haven’t set foot into a gym in almost 2 months. ¬†I feel like crap, my clothes don’t fit, and my face looks bloated. ¬†I need to start looking and feeling better in my clothes. It also wouldn’t hurt to feel more confident naked.

Goal is to lose at least 10 lbs by March, when Z and I go on a cruise for vaca. ¬†That gives me 3 months, paced, that would allow about one pound per week. ¬†I want to look the way I did at this time last year. ¬†I was hot and in amazing shape….not so much anymore.

Changes I’ve made over the past two weeks and those to come:

(1) gradually started working out. ¬†Starting light with hot yoga several times per week, accompanied by co-residents to keep me motivated. I’m paying an exorbitant fee for these classes but I’m banking on the team effort and peace it brings me, to make it worth it in the long run.

(2) started using SparkPeople to track my food. ¬†I am throwing out the weightwatchers POINTS mentality. ¬†It’s practical for longterm loss but doesn’t come for free and I also feel like basics will always be basic – why pay to use a site that counts my calories? ¬†Regardless of the “research” behind their methods, weight loss will always be about calories in < calories out. ¬†I don’t need a site to limit the fats/proteins/carbs I’m eating because calories will add up just the same. ¬†Despite this, I will start doing my best to limit my carbs, but I won’t replace that with more protein or fat….just more veggies and a but more fruit. ¬†Best part – it’s FREE!

(3) Brought my work-out DVD’s to Z’s apt and he wants to start working out with me. ¬†I suggested P90x together, he agreed. It won’t be a daily activity but we’ll do it when it’s convenient and works with out schedules. ¬†We’ll see how that goes.

(4) My parents got us an elliptical for the apartment. ¬†My gym is close to my parents house so I haven’t been able to make the daily drive an quite frankly haven’t had the motivation to go. ¬†I’m discontinuing my gym membership when it expires in Jan, and will use the new machine as often as I can. ¬†Will really miss the way spin class made me feel but perhaps I’ll find local classes to attend periodically – which will probably become way too pricey in addition to the hot yoga fees.

(5) limiting the amount of artificial sweeteners, Starbucks, and dessert. Holidays are going to be less exciting without the treats but hopefully a slimmer waist will make up for that feeling.

(6) revisiting Twitter as a motivational resource. I need it now.

(7) using that technique I used several months ago of documenting my work outs on a calendar. ¬†I need to show myself that I’m doing this and that I’m sticking with it. ¬†Worked great in the past and I know it’ll work this time.

What do you think?  How have you guys revamped your habits after a huge set-back?

Fit and on Plan during EuroTrip 2011!

May 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I feel relaxed and fulfilled, realizing how lucky I am  to be able to say that I just traveled abroad to visit extended family in EUROPE.  Just returned from a trip to Hamburg and Paris (oooh la la!) where I was able spend much-needed QT with family and explore both the historic and ultra modern parts of both cities. To describe my trip in one word РFREEING. It was my first vacation after almost EIGHT months (since my last week of time off) of intern insanity and not a singe two day weekend since that time. It was needed and well deserved.

The most remarkable part about all of this, keeping with the purpose of this fitness blog, is show how I managed to stay on track while enjoying traditional Afghan and European meals. ¬†I was actually terrified to go; I know my appetite and the fact that I was traveling to food & wine-rich places with opportunities to eat my way fat again was almost overwhelming. ¬†I am also proud to say that I come from a long line of talented cooks who know their ingredients and NEVER measure. ¬†While this is a blessing, it’s also hell for me because once I taste a morsel of well-made Afghan food, I find it almost impossible to control my portions. ¬†I was also going to spend a considerable amount of time with my cousins so I was fearful that we’d frequently go out to eat and that I’d have a hard time controlling my cravings from the flavor and lipid- heavy menu options. ¬†Point is that I didn’t think I had what it would take to control myself in Europe and basically didn’t trust myself to make smart decisions. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My tactic once I arrived at Manchester airport: Simple, really. Just followed the Points system. ¬†I didn’t want to spend the money on an internet package for my phone so I picked up a few paper trackers during my pre-trip weigh-in.

  • tracked EVERY SINGLE bite I ate. And I mean every, from each bit of cucumber to chocolate croissants
  • I did NOT limit myself because I knew I deserved the hell out of this trip and I was not about to leave without tasting some things I had dreamed of, I just tracked each bite
  • Walked almost everywhere, except taking flights, driving from one city to the next in which case we either took the train or my cousins drove
  • made sure I had a bottle of water with me at all times and made sure to drink at least 3 daily
  • told my cousins that I was trying to keep track of what I was eating (love my family but regardless of how Westernized my family is, all Afghans have the same habit when it comes to feeding your loved ones…they pile food on your plate regardless of whether you can eat it or not and love to buy snacks/food for you everywhere you go)
  • made sure to keep some homemade trail mix with me just-in-case
  • took the stairs where ever possible; train stations, museums, the Eiffel tower where I was determined to take all 669 stairs to the second level, and the ¬†hotel room in paris…which was on the 13th floor
  • only had one dreamy cup of cafe while in Paris (I’ve been poison¬†coffee¬†¬†sober for almost 2 months! Living off of a daily venti iced unsweetened green tea. ¬†Coffee/espresso makes my stomach feel like i’ve released a piranha in it)
  • wore comfortable, practical shoes so that I was able to get the most out of my trip without developing painful feet
Results: Weighed-in two days after returning; Lost 1.6 lbs!! Since then, at today’s weigh-in, I’m down another 2.6 lbs.
Reasons why I think I’ve been successful lately:
(1) continued tracking and being very careful in Europe + walking all over the cites,
(2) started to Spin again. I looked back to my lowest weight while on WW and realized that I was spinning at least 3-4 x/week. Lately (for the past 5 months) I’ve been spinning nearly ZERO times. I had been doing P90x at the encouragement of one of my closest physical therapy friends…that DID NOT work for me at all. ¬†I was actually doing p90x Lean and still managed to gain weight despite continually tracking and staying within my points range for the most part. My clothes felt tighter and I felt uncomfortable. ¬†It was not just muscle weight I was adding, there is just not enough cardio in that program and it didn’t work for me. I still occasionally use a few of the programs when I’m mixing up my weekly routine, but spin class, body pump and sorry attempts at running really give me my weight loss mojo.
(3) when i got back I re-read the WW Articles in search of the major pitfalls on the new PointsPlus system, because I really didn’t think was working as well as the old Points system for me. ¬†I had been losing weight faster on POINTS and looking back on pics from November, noticed a clear difference in the way my face looked at that time…wasn’t as round as it is now. ¬† I noticed that I might be eating too much fruit and probably underestimating volume. ¬†This article was great.¬†
Just a tid-bit about European culture: their diet is generally not composed of the same processed garbage as ours. ¬†Yes, they still have a McDonald’s and Au Bon Pain at every corner and have adopted the cafe culture like no other, but the food QUALITY is pristine. ¬†For example, my cousin’s wife in Hamburg (and subsequently my cousin in Limoge) made the most amazing eggs I’ve literally EVER had. ¬†Here’s why they were amazing; they were real eggs. ¬†I wish I had taken a photo – the yolks were a deep orange, smelled like a farm fresh egg (if you’ve ever had one, you know exactly that freshness that I mean), and the taste…Oh my god…the taste was out of this world. Who knew that a simple egg seasoned with just salt and black pepper sould taste this heavenly. ¬† Second, the MILK. ¬†The 2% milk tasted like whole and it was naturally sweet. ¬†Ice cream even tastes “cleaner” in Europe.
**Side note: I’m big into researching environmental impact on food quality and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly upset that the europeans are light years ahead of the US when it comes to food quality and environmental standards. ¬†It’s based on a EU policy which Germany has obviously adopted but perfected by working towards less fossil fuels and nuclear energy towards more natural forms of energy. ¬†We have a long ways to go….even in terms of their modernism which makes all of the US appear like a third world nation (if you don’t believe me, check out the architecture of South Hamburg – it’ll blow your mind).**
Few Pictures of my trip

Croissant

In the Eiffel Tower

L'arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees

Macaron, Paris

Cidre and Galette

Cheese at the Market, Paris

Fois Gras....not weightwatchers friendly but very Foodie Friendly

Afghani Aush at my uncle's in Limoge, France.

Crepe with pureed apple, walnuts, vanilla ice cream, and more chocolate than even I could handle

Iranian restaurant with my cousins in Hamburg. total happiness

How have you stayed fit while vacationing?

Here are a few tips to review (which I should have done before I went abroad) if you’re about to embark on a trip abroad:

“Everything in life is only for now”

May 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Everything in life is only for now Рquote from Avenue Q imprinted on a pin that one of my patients wore on her hospital gown everyday
Residency

This post will focus on what I’ve gained, both with respect to my medical knowledge and my fitness. ¬†It’s been an emotional and physical test of my ability to cope with loss, gains, and learning what is most important in medicine. ¬†It’s been painfully humbling to say the very least.

This month has been a particularly challenging one, not in terms of the medicine, but in terms of the emotional connectedness and empathy I felt on a daily basis.  I spent four weeks on the Hematology/Oncology ward.  This means I was taking care of patients with blood disorders such as obscure anemias, bleeding disorders, leukemia, lymphoma, and specific cancers such as lung and melanoma.  There is no other service that teaches you how to connect with your patient or fosters an environment where bedside manner can make or break your relationship with the ill patient.  This was, in all respects, my favorite rotation of intern year.

Human connectedness

Those two words describe the essence of the service. ¬†I have never developed connections with my patients as I did this month. ¬†Yes, of course I care for all of my patients and am generally interested in their well being, but let me assure you then when you have a patient who is experiencing end of life, the relationship beckons deeper love. ¬†I think this was, by and large, a month where I learned more from my patients and was “helped” by them more than I could ever have done for them. ¬†I found myself going the extra mile, staying many hours beyond my duty hours just to spend time with the families, ensure that crashing patients were safe, all loose ends were neatly tied, and, foremost discuss end-of-life decisions- the latter being the most emotionally moving aspect of my training to date. ¬† It become my job to initiate a natural path to death with my beloved, terminally ill patients. ¬†No other profession is honored with the rights to discuss DEATH with another being, to tell a true fighter that it’s ok to let go. I would do absolutely ANYTHING to allow them the most comfortable and peaceful path towards death. I grew intensely attached to my patients, regardless of age, stage of disease, or stage of grief. ¬†I found myself calling the nurses long after I left to make sure the dying had enough pain meds, were comfortable, and that their families could call my cell if they needed. Humbling, terrifying, mystifying. ¬†While the families we cared for were losing a loved one to sinister disease process, I was gaining insight into the depths of family values, the human experience, family dynamic and the meaning of love.

Losing patients to disease hit me so much harder and signing a patient’s DNR/DNI form would bring me to tears at times. ¬†One patient’s decision to become DNR/DNI (meaning that they did ¬†not wish to have CPR or any life support) led me to the closest bathroom where I spent a solid 30 minutes sobbing. ¬†Of course I didn’t do this in front of the family during decisions of that magnitude, but I can assure you that I broke down into tears while holding the hand of several of several patients while ¬†listening to their life story. ¬†Beautiful.

Also, something that I saw on this service that I didn’t see an ounce of on my other rotations was POSITIVITY. ¬†I was astounded at the positive attitude and zest for life that my patients had. ¬†Considering the grave prognoses I wrote in charts daily, I was inspired that each patient was living for THIS day. ¬†They focused only on THAT days’ total blood count, THAT days’ pain control, THAT days’ time with family, and some days even shared the travel plans they had for their last days. ¬†There was only one time where I saw a patient cry over their disease, otherwise these patients were the embodiment of stoicism. ¬†Again, they taught me lessons that a medical text book or attending could never teach me. ¬†The quote in this post’s title was on a pin adorned by one of my myelodysplastic patients everyday. ¬†She was preparing herself for a bone marrow transplant but was developing complicating infections because her immune system was being ravaged by the disease process. ¬†Every morning I walked into her room she was playing vivaldi on her iPad, had her hair and make-up done, and would smile at me and say, “Good morning Miss Thing, I’ve missed you! How are we gonna start this day?”…and all the while all I could see was her rouge smile, while in the back of my mind knowing how ill she was, yet she saw past the disease and chose to live her life. ¬†Her’s, as well as the experience from others, made me re-think those little things that I get worked up about, that we all stress about, and that we allow to ruin our day. ¬†I thanked all of my patients at the end of the month, wished them well, sat in my car and and just cried, not wanting the month to end and not wanting to lose these patients.

Who would have thought that dying patients would teach me how to live. One day at a time.

Weight

Two weeks ago I reviewed my previous work-outs and saw that P90x (lean) made me put weight on and it was by no means only muscle weight. I went up a dress size and felt uncomfortable.   This gain did not make me happy but, like I said above, I have chosen to focus only on my activities and wise food choices I make THAT day.   I have several goal dates in mind (long term) but refocused on the short term goals by staying in the now.  With this mindset, a change in my exercise routine, a new exercise partner (mini-me, baby sis), discontinuing P90x (because there is not nearly enough cardio), I have lost two pounds this week.  This loss occurred despite going out to dinner and enjoying a few fantabulous vanilla bean cupcakes with Nutella frosting that I made for  my heme/onc nurses & attendings.

Recipe

I’ve chosen my French Onion soup because, like the experiences I’ve had this month, it’s simple, full of flavor, and the simplicity gives it it’s divine savory flavor.¬†How fab does this look!?


French Onion Soup
As adapted from Gourmet, 2006

Ingredients

  • 2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise – **I actually used sweet onions**
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine – **I used equal amounts of Gewurtztraminer for the sweetness and acidity to offset the savory croutons and broth**
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz) – **I used fat free, reduced sodium, minimal loss in flavor**
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette **I used freshly made, large cut Butter- garlic croutons** from the Fresh Market
  • 1 (1/2-lb) piece Gruy√®re
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to sprinkle atop just before broiling
Prep

Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350¬įF.

Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.

Remove cro√Ľtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan.

Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a cro√Ľte in each. Slice enough Gruy√®re (about 6 ounces total) with cheese plane to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

What experiences have reshaped you recently?

A pinch of success along the way

March 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

It was a refreshing week for several reasons, allow me to share what I’m proud of. I feel in control of my weight, I feel better control over my clinical decisions and am developing some incredible confidence, and I’m totes proud of myself for finding time to work out regardless of the hell that is bestowed upon me at work daily. I also made time to get together with co-interns not once, but TWICE…a rare occurrence for us girls. ¬†I always like to make sure that my topics intra-post are related, so I should explain that my post this week integrates my weight loss, my time spent working off a few calories, and a recipe I concocted while taking some much needed MSFitMint time with my dear friends. ¬†Yay me!

My Calm in the midst of a torrential storm

Here’s one of the ways I’ve maintained my peace in the chaos at work – my co-intern and I slip away almost daily for a skinny latte with one of Starbucks’ new Mini’s. ¬†Crap, I just realized I was grossly underestimating the punch in WW points of the caramel squares….whoops!

Weightloss:

Weight watcher’s update: LOST 1.2 lbs this week!

I thought I’d review what I did, logged my workouts on paper AND eTools. ¬†Writing my work outs on paper allows me to visualize how much effort I’ve been putting in, notice patterns (which I love, b/c I’m a compulsive ‘trender’…I like to see progress and crave a positive trend) and forces me to work out so I have something to write down. ¬†I’ve been logging on my P90x work out sheet which I never really found useful…pretty useful now! ¬†Not only did I log workouts, I also noted whether I was on, over or under WW points….and of course if I was on call. ¬†Four to five days of work outs per week ain’t too shabby for a crazy intern!

Recipe

For over one week now I’ve been craving pizza – crispy crust with an oozing topcoat of fresh whole mozzarella…

Had a girls’ night with a few of my darling co-interns, one of whom (the hostess) made a mouthwatering white pizza which really got my recipe creating mind in a swing. ¬†I thought I’d make a lighter version, add more veggies, and add a sweet tanginess with sundried tomato pesto instead of generic tomato sauce, keeping with the “white pizza” requisite. ¬†OH! And while I made this gooey/healthy piece of perfection, I was drinking a STRAWBERRY ABITA, which is the bees knees. Light and fruity beer, one of my new favorites, and better yet, with only 11 carbs per 12 oz. serving it’s only ONE POINTPlus!

Flatout White Pizette 

PointsPlus‚ĄĘ Value: ¬†12 (one serving is 1/2, so SIX points plus). Note* if you use recipe builder and add the veggies this turns out to be 8 points per serving….go figure.
Servings:  2

Ingredients

1 item(s) Flatout Carbdown Italian Herb Bread
2 Tbsp alfredo sauce, light
1/2 breast of garlic Rotisserie Chicken, torn to pieces
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup(s) whole milk mozzarella cheese (of course you could sub part skim for a fraction of the points) 

handful of baby spinach leaves

4 grape tomatoes, sliced in half, lengthwise

2 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin

1 tbsp sundried tomato pesto (I splurged and bought a fancy brand but classico works just as well)

Instructions

  • spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray
  • spread pesto and alfredo sauce on flatbread
  • arrange torn chicken
  • layer veggies and feta
  • pinch of black pepper
  • add mozzarella and add a few light touches of the sundried tomato paste on the cheese
  • Bake for approx 10 min

Reason I’m showing off all of this unhealthy food? ¬†B/c I ate like this and still managed to lose weight. ¬†I have a strong suspicion it was b/c of the work-outs. ¬†Glad I’m tracking.

What are you proud of this week?

Mint and Peas

March 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

The thing about balancing my love for the culinary world and my enjoyment of food with weightloss is that sometimes my weaknesses prevail and I lose the balancing force. ¬†My recent weight gain has me frustrated (but I’ve been making some pretty valiant strides at losing those few pounds – lost three pounds last week alone!). ¬† I do my best to cook with fresh ingredients at home and try my hand at new healthful recipes but my appetite craves quantity; always has, always will. Clearly I joined weightwatchers because I’ve always had a hard time with portion control but I’ve had am increasingly hard time with that portion control over the past few weeks. That, combined with overwhelming fatigue and the lack of energy to exercise had left me about 6 lbs over my last weigh in when I had been close to goal. ¬†And of course as of this week I am now up 0.2….tracked everything and exercised. ¬†Big let down. ¬†I’ll just have to look back at my tracker to review what I was doing during my most successful weeks and make changes accordingly.
Whats most upsetting is that I had been so close to goal and was so proud of the way I looked and felt in my clothes.  I had recently purchased pencil skirts in a size I havent worn since middle school, then, by some stroke of gluttony, managed to work myself back up to an unappealing dress size.  I cannot explain why my weight packs on so rapidly and in particular areas but needless to say, this made me unhappy.  Ive tried to offset this weight gain by fitting in more gym-time and p90x work-outs as well as learning about more spices and infusing my recipe bank with light and flavorful soups.  I went to my happy place to find some new options; the kitchen.

During residency I’ve done whatever I could to keep me balanced and happy, spending time at the stove with one of many foodie mags, friends, baking, yoga, etc, but lately my favorite has been delving into 1) soups and 2) persian recipes. ¬†I started focusing on the Persian recipes after…well, long story…to cut it short, mainly because I’m Persian and because I was given the best gift a man could ever give a woman…it’s golden, expensive, and requires hours of labor to acquire the perfect amount….SAFFRON! ¬†Almost 1/4 of a pound of the golden pleasure, to be exact. ¬†Now while this entry does not involve saffron, it was my catalyst. ¬†If you know about spices, you know that saffron is the world’s most costly per ounce and by Persian standards is more-or less the mother of spices, so yes, I’d say that this is by far the best gift a man has ever given me. ¬†That being said, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen working on several recipes trying to make them more WW friendly.

I’ve grown fond of soups for multiple reasons; they’re versatile, low maintenance, hold well to reheating, and can be enjoyed for almost any meal. ¬†¬†A wonderful recipe I recently came across was from Fine Cooking’s soups edition; mint pea soup. Mint is a persian staple and i’ve always got a bushel growing in my backyard a home. It adds a beautful freshness to what’s typically a drab soup. ¬†Moreover, this has been an excellent way for me to measure my portions and is a pretty fresh, healthful, and weighwatchers friendly lunch. Im hoping that with enough of these healthy recipes, better portion contrl and continued gym-time i can get back into thosr pencil skirts!

Mint and Pea Soup with Lemon Cream

as adapted from Fine Cooking.


2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups fresh shelled peas (3-1/2 to 4 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas *I used frozen for the sake of time
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth (I used chicken Stock)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch granulated sugar (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used fat free half and half with lemon zest and did not whip it)
Finely grated zest of one-half medium lemon

Melt the butter in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until both are very soft, 6 to 8 minutes. They shouldn’t brown. If they’re cooking too fast, reduce the heat to medium low.

Add the peas, broth, half of the mint, and 2 cups water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer vigorously until the peas are very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. In batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the peas weren’t very sweet, stir in the sugar.

 

Pour the half and half into a medium bowl and Fold in the lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with a generous spoonful of the lemon cream. Scatter the remaining chopped mint over the soup and serve. If you choose to serve the soup cold, chill it in the fridge but take it out 15 minutes before you serve. Adjust the seasoning if necessary before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 200; Fat (g): 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): 7; Protein (g): 7; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): 17; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): 240; Cholesterol (mg): 35; Fiber (g): 5
5 WW pluspoints/serving
Any recipes or snacking strategies that have been successful for you?


Missing in Action

February 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

(a beautiful platter I made for a visiting friend…pieced together some medjool dates, brie, manchego, smoked gouda, marinated and roasted garlic, and olives)

I can’t even remember the last time I posted, but I can almost guarantee that I was closer to my weightloss goal than I am right now.

Residency –

Residency has been pretty hectic/bizarre. ¬†I’ve been at the VA for the past two months so it’s been relatively easy going, but if you’ve ever worked at a VA medical center (God help you if you have or currently work there) you’ll understand why I’m having a hard time describing it. ¬†It’s the most inefficient medical system, hires rather inadequate performers (at least this one does) and stresses DOCUMENTATION rather than sound patient care. ¬†There are hazing rituals that occur here which would never occur at my home-base training site, namely abusive M&M’s (morbidity and mortalities – where you talk about flaws in patient ¬†care), VA CPRS documentation “police”, and harassment (luckily I haven’t been the abusee of any of these wretched people yet but my time is coming shortly as I advance to second-year) by completely incompetent attending physicians.

Monday afternoons are likely the most stressful periods for my senior residents who have to present our morbidity and mortality cases; luckily in the ICU we’re pretty damn strong, but some of the other residents REALLY get the mental pummeling of a lifetime for their so-called “piss poor care”. ¬†It’s a hairy and malignant system, abusive, abrasive and quite frankly I can’t stand it. ¬†It really wears you down to hear your seniors get beaten down for simple oversights made by their supervisors but such is malignant medicine – if your supervisor practices poor medicine, you’re bound to be treated and trained ¬†poorly, taking the brunt of the consequences from both the families and peers. ¬†Because of the intense nature (and unfortunately minimal patient care superseded by endless hours spent SITTING and DOCUMENTING your “patient care” at a computer all day) I haven’t left work on time for the past few weeks…leaving very little time for me-time, and most importantly…catching my much needed sleep.

All of that being said, I’ve been doing my best to maintain a sense of calm and the only ways I know how are to

1) partake in as much outdoor activity as I can; i.e. snow-shoe-ing with my very out-doorsy amiga, Laura

2) dancing around my kitchen with my itunes and a wooden spoon, revamping some of my favorite recipes, and

3) working out when i have the time which has been hard as HELL this month.

4) meeting up with my tight knit group of incredible co-interns (which, surprise – none of them are internal medicine interns…if that tells you anything about my personality. PS – this will also be the focus of a future post – how I’m itching and scratching to switch residency programs because i’ve grown very weary towards internal medicine)

5) shopping – as pathetic as it sounds, I’ve been meeting my sister for many-a-shopping sprees lately b/c it’s been such a wonderful release. ¬†Mind you, I haven’t purchased much and most of these meet-ups are at the local Fresh Market, but the thought of buying FRESH produce to cook with or a brand new cast iron is very exciting and brings me peace.

Residency and my Gut –

I haven’t been to a weightwatchers meeting in months or a weigh-in for a few weeks. my weight has increased by about six lbs and it’s not muscle and I’ve been pretty down about this. Just last month I was about five pounds from meeting goal and thats when my second VA month started and that’s when the real fatigue set in. ¬†I had been incredibly successful combining P90x LEAN with a few classes at the gym (body pump and Spin), as well as cross training – but lately I’m just dead by the time I leave work at 10pm ¬†and barely even have the energy to throw my gym clothes on.

My appetite has also been CRAZY. ¬†I know that the new PointsPlus system allows you to eat most fruits without the weight of extra daily points, but I’ve been eating fruit galore (waaaay more than I had been on the old plan) and my weight is just compounding. ¬†On the average day I’ll have 1-2 bananas, 1 pack of raspberries or blueberries, and at least one cup of grapes in between meals. ¬†My meals, on the other hand, have been upsetting as I’ve been craving salts and of all things, pulled pork. ¬†Being that I can’t have pulled pork for every meal I’ve been gorging on other salty and usually fattening meals, such as frozen lean cuisine and SmartOnes – check out the sodium in those bad boys! ¬†They’re quick and fuss-less so they work well for the VA. ¬†If I don’t take a frozen brick, I typically take some left over small portion of the previous night’s dinner which usually consists of bulgar or soup. ¬†The weekends can be messy though – I typically use my weekly points here or I even go overboard and have EXTRA points, which make way into my exercise points. Hence, I’ve been over points each week for the past month, thus making my weekly at-home weigh-in very stressful.

Luckily I recently found out that a fellow local foodie also goes to the same location for weekly WW meetings so this has been a motivator. ¬†Food PLUS weightloss PLUS friends is usually a win-win game. ¬†I’m hoping to get to more meetings for some real motivation, and get back on my exercise regimen….wish me luck!!

How does you all deal with a period of weight gain and legitimate lack of exercise time?

Odysseus and his Sirens; a tragic story of cupcake meets ass/waist

November 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

Residency:

Work is great these days.¬† I’ve been in the Critical Care Unit on a cardiology service that’s busting at the seams.¬† There are days when we are above our max census yet days when we have time to canoodle with our RNs and adored co-interns to plan our next luxe facial. I’ve been busier than ever; frequent 27 hour calls days, relentless pages, patients so sick I fear leaving their bedside, the sound of telemetry units sounding with each abnormal rhythm, but I’ve been happy.¬† I’ve reached the point where I’ve found my co-intern niche, I’ve come to adore them and consider them my peripheral family.¬†¬† This whimsical flluffy feeling I have may dissipate in the coming weeks but I can say that at this juncture I’m satisfied.

Weight/Fitness:

Doing my best to stay/improve my shape.  My most current feat has been toning and weightlifting.  BodyPump has been a physical challenge for me.  I look forward to the demanding endurance every week, yet leave with exquisitely painful legs, weak for days, wondering if everyone else feels the way I do afterwards.   I considered a few solutions:

Maybe I needed water?¬† Drank several bottles over days.¬† That didn’t work.

Perhaps a banana or two?  After two of these in one sitting I felt I might vomit. I am not a fan of these phallic fruits.

It finally dawned on me that I likely have a severe vitamin D deficiency, hence the 4 days of myositis, nausea and profound fatigue following any weight lifting (or nights of moderate drinking).¬† Started taking supplements and wa-la! Myositis dissipated!¬† Now I can go back to weekly weight training and feeling bad-ass when I put on a tank top for the gym. ūüôā

Spin class continues to be my go-to pick-me-up.¬† Although finding a class that fits my odd work hours is a challenge, co-intern guilt over my propensity to quickly morph into PMS-cranky bitch face if I don’t spin/work out at least 3-4 days a week has been fruitful.¬† Being that all of my current co-interns are men, they relent – I leave on time and get my work outs in to keep me “compos mentis”.

Cupcakes:

Like the Sirens to Odysseus. ¬† When they’re around they taunt me – poking their creamy heads out when I’m most vulnerable after my 4th 16 hour work day prior to my impending long call; midget frosted cakes.¬† My miniature vices.¬† They are a warning that my guard has been let down and my ass/waistline is about to encounter a defeat. They dissipate my WW points like a college kid with a trust fund,. They’ve added a¬† road block to my weight loss but baking them keeps me grounded and keeps my cardiology attendings/fellows smiling after grinding through admissions/double rounds all day.

Tonight’s new recipes were ones that I made up; a pureed raspberry and vanilla cake with rum and raspberry frosting.¬† The next dozen was a brownie with a reese’s in the center and Godiva liquor frosting.¬† They’ll be the perfect accoutrement for the fellow’s bday party on the unit tomorrow. ūüôā (pics to follow)

What other ways could I sabotage my POINTS? Working with men, one is sure to encounter the ravenous appetite and feel the drag force. After pre-rounds my co-intern sends me one of my favorite texts of the day; “breakfast in cafe, see you in 10”.¬† I already had my Vanilla Whey Protein/Starbucks Via shake, probably shouldn’t go. But I do. Not just for the sake of being my social little self, but for the sausage, egg and cheese english muffins with a carton of Tropicana Pulp Free OJ.¬† Yet again, bolstering my POINTS, which I haven’t been tracking much at all.¬† I’ve come to crave this love affair for the risk involved.¬† Fully aware of my new addiction,¬† I meandered over to the frozen foods section at the market this weekend and was happy to find this little guy: is this the Siren to my breakfast sabotage? SmartOnes

Weightwatchers:

Shameful. I haven’t weighed in in almost 2 months. WW doesn’t appear to have a copy of my erratic work schedule, not even for a drop in weigh-in, let alone a meeting.¬† I’ve My weight has gone down so I’m not terribly concerned.¬† I am, however, worried that my anxiety may be getting the best of my eating habits. Since halloween weekend I’ve consumed more mini peanut butter cups than I care to share, more lean cuisine’s and smart ones than my self imposed sodium restriction allows, more cupcakes than my gut can handle, and more alcohol than is appropriate for a lady. It’s been an all-out warfare on my Points.¬† But as long as my waist is slimming I’m staying on my current path, happy, skinny, fat, pudgy, whatever my current weight status, I’m happy.

How have you let go to in efforts to stay sane and what has been keeping you happy these days?

How do you do it?

September 23, 2010 § 4 Comments

This post will be sort of a hodge-podge but the meat and potatoes are in the middle…it’s my deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie, if you will.

Luckily I’ve had plenty of time to blog over the past few days.¬† It’s given me an alternative way to unwind in ways that exercise and my daily prancing around the stove have been (unusually) unable to.¬† Somewhat of a side note – I had initially planned a flight to Sacramento which would allow me about 3 days in Lake Tahoe and 3 days of wine tasting in Napa.¬† The plan was set but man, I had a VERY difficult time parting with money that I had saved.¬† So much time, sweat and sleep deprivation had gone into making that money that I couldn’t part with it.¬† I know, I know. This seems foolish because I know I’ll burn out before my next vaca, but I’ve developed a little bug in me that already wants to start saving for my childrens’ education (mind you, I have ZERO children/pets/nieces/nephews/godchildren/not even a pet cockroach and no potential to have any in the next few years). So I’ve spent some time doing a little local travel and mainly spent my time put-sing around the kitchen, trying out new recipes and taking in as much of the local fare I can.¬† Festivals and farmer’s markets galore!¬† With all of this free time and writing also came time to read some blogs that I had never read…

On to the meat

Being a sort of successful weight watcher’s gal, I tend to stick close to home and read the blogs of fellow WW girls.¬† I can commiserate with their struggle, get ideas on snacks and healthy lunch or dinner items, and get some fab work out ideas.¬† Overall I find this soothing in a way; knowing that I’m not totally alone in this battle of the bulge.

This time off from work has made me curious¬† and I’ve been able to read through the blogs that I’ve never visited…I won’t name names – they’re excellent blogs), but what I’m finding is….they’re pretty impressive!¬† There’s an astounding number of people who can challenge weight loss on their own.¬† How do they do this?¬† How/where do they find the motivation?¬† How do they figure out what’s right for their body and what limitations to set?¬† In other words, how do they do this on their own?¬† Many of these “independent” fitbloggers don’t point this out.¬† I’ve tried elucidating this from the “about me” sections but they seem to be similar to mine – meaning that they basically felt some sign or urge to make a general change and just moved forward.¬† What made one turn to weight watchers and the other turn to him/her self?

now the potatoes

Eating healthy and exercising seem incredibly simple if you have a little motivation and time but in reality, it’s really not.¬† Not at all.¬† I’m sure you’re reading this thinking “Good job, little doctor.¬† Your 1/4 million dollar education seems to have really paid off (giant eye roll).”, but here’s the thing, medical school doesn’t teach us HOW to be healthy, it actually does quite the opposite.¬† I will rant about this in a later post.¬† In all of my years of schooling I of course knew that calories burned must exceed calories consumed, but I could not practice this for a multitude of reasons.

  1. No motivation,
  2. Literally never took the time to take care of myself because I’m disgustingly competitive and felt the need to study for 10-16 hrs/day (and FYI I was no where near as successful as most students who were just as intense and obnoxious as I was…probably because I never took care of myself – didn’t sleep more than 4 hours, didn’t eat well at all, ever, and was just miserable…you get the ugly picture).
  3. I didn’t have a supportive network by any stretch of the imagination,
  4. I wasn’t willing to take the time to prepare healthy meals.¬† **Message to pathetic old Me, how much time does it REALLY take to make and pack a sandwich, as opposed to the daily nonsense of stopping at Panera/subway/Moe’s, etc¬† for almost every meal?¬† Hello – waste of $$$$ that you don’t have!**

Back to my original thought….

If I didn’t pay someone to basically teach me what I already knew about health and wellness, to weigh me weekly, or¬† to set limits for me in terms of exactly how much I was allowed to eat daily, I would not have lost 35 lbs. I know it.¬† Not on my own.¬† I just don’t know if I have that determination in me.

How do you self-propelled people do this?¬† What triggered your mind to become structured and to stick with it? How did you determine (aside from the clear calculations of kcal/kg/day along with carb/fat/protein breakdowns) how much and what to eat daily? How do you not just give up when you don’t have a monthly WW bill hanging over your head? (Mind, I know WW has helped me to this point and it’s not only about paying to lose weight..some days it is, but 90% is wanting to be healthy and to look/feel like $4 x my tuition).¬† I really give you all a lot of credit for being so successful on your own.¬† I wish I could harness an ounce of that determination to succeed on my own.

Another thought. I wonder if long term success rates differ between self-propelled and weightwatchers people.¬† I wonder if I would have stuck to a plan this long if I hadn’t been shelling out $40/month to get my self in gear.

Any feedback or thoughts? (about that pesky topic of medical school and nutrition, more on that in another post)

Now for something fun and random

Also, I thought if I had time I’d start posting new recipes in the body as opposed to a separate recipe page.¬†¬† I love my new camera and have been making great use of it (in the kitchen) so why not share the photos and the food?

I had some left over potatoes from a previous meal along with some carrots and a new BAG (hangs head in shame) of butternut squash.¬† I had been craving butternut squash soup as it’s healthy and nicely accents the new seasonal changes underway.¬† I typically only use squash and potatoes but having the carrots on hand was a great change.

Spiced Butternut – Carrot Soup


  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen (preferably fresh) butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups carrots (or parsnips), chopped
  • 1 cup peeled boiled potatoes
  • 1 cup LIGHT cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cup fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger root
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • s/p to taste

*hand held mixer or food processor

My Method

In a 5 quart pot, heat oil and add onions and carrots.¬† Once onions develop translucency, add squash and potatoes and heat until squash becomes soft.¬† Add cream, stir to incorporate, and add broth.¬† Allow to simmer for approximately 15 min.¬† Carrots should become soft at this point.¬† Now either remove mixture and add to food processor or blend with hand held.¬† Consistency should be that of farina o…or to your liking.¬† At this point add herbs and sugar. Allow to simmer for another 15 min.

I garnished with toasted Thomas’ Bagel Thin (cinnamon raisin- with a light spray of light olivio and sprinkle of cinnamon/sugar) crostini, a dallop of light cream cheese and chives.¬† It definitely hit the spot.

I also found a great deal on some organic figs and figured the best way to celebrate the season was so preserve them to enjoy all week month long.I ended up making a cinnamon fig/apple/walnut jam as well as a raspberry/nectarine jam infused with orange.

Such beautiful figs

decorating a piece of Manchego

Local Fun

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Autumn in NY

It’s Autumn-ish….

We all know what this season holds (at least for me); nostalgia for the smell and taste of pumpkin, spices, apples, pears, hot spiced cider (with rum, please), pumpkin ale, Oktoberfest, hay rides, farmer’s markets, pies, pumpkin carving, foliage rides to VT, steaming cups of soup, gourds, costumes, candles, candy corn, maple, fireplace scent, wood ovens, warm lattes, cool breezes, comfy blankets….but of course, what’s always on my mind is FOOD!¬† It’s the time of year when I grab my coffee or hot chocolate, prance over to the local market and take in the sights: crisp Cortland apple, (my new find today were) the ginger golden apples, fresh tubers, legumes, tomatoes, leaf lettuce, gourds, fresh jams and jellies, home-made bread, local wine and cheese.¬† This year I was lucky enough to be on vacation during this exciting time so I soaked it up, rallied the troops and headed to every fest I could think of.¬† The farmer’s market is different.¬† That’s my solo trip.¬† It’s my time for peace and happiness, so I like to hit it up solo-style, save my coffee traveler.



(*swiped a 3 of these pics from google. You’re welcome, legal schmegels)

Harvest Fest

These are a few of our favorite things….right?¬† So what the hell is a fitblogger supposed to do with all of these delicious fruits of nature around her? EAT! I walked around each little farm stand and local vendor.¬† I had bits of camambert with a dab of blackberry jam on a fig cracker, two shmears of goat cheese on cracked wheat crackers, little taste of butternut squash soup (not even slightly impressive compared to a recipe i concocted).¬† I didn’t bother counting my Bites, Licks, or Tastes here.¬† There are some weeks when I just have to say no to counting everything and have a sane life.¬† I obviously didn’t go over board, I know exactly what I was eating and how much, really, I do.¬† I just wanted to have 20 min of joy with Fall’s bounty without feeling tied to eTools. So I did, and if it shows up on the scale, so be it.¬† I’ll move forward.

I was stoked to run into a few old friends, had a cupcake with my folks, walked around the pond, listened to some folk music (I can’t lie.¬† I didn’t enjoy even one second of this folk hell), took pictures with my crappy point and shoot because I was afraid to lug my Canon along – hence the terrible pictures, and just generally had a rockin’ time in the outdoors.¬† I only have one gripe; I was pretty let down that there were not more local farmers.¬† I know Honest Weight sponsored this, but they weren’t even selling fresh fruits or vegetables.¬† They had samples but nothing fresh for purchase….odd and upsetting because I found a new apple variety that I would very much like to own 20 lbs of.

Tomorrow’s Damage

I’m worried about dinner tomorrow. I went out to an unplanned dinner with my family tonight (see review), didn’t eat very much although it was divine, didn’t go over board with points, but I’m at the end of the rope with weekly allowance points.¬† I’m taking a friend out to dinner for his birthday and we happen to be going to a local restaurant that is gourmet to the max (lets do it together….noses in the air)¬† and does not offer much in the way of healthy fare.¬† I’ve been scouring the menu tonight trying to find something that’s healthy and won’t put me over my points for the week.¬† IRISH FEST robbed me of my extra points.¬† Despite keeping it very healthy with a chicken gyro (yeah, I had a friggin’ GREEK chicken gyro at IRISH FEST …what of it?!) I had enough wiggle room for fried dough and a much needed round of 3 light beers.¬† I’m happy about that. I think. Regardless, I had a great time and took a much needed siesta.

What are you Fall favorites?