Salad is Not a Comfort Food, But if I need Comfort…

A lot of salads. A lot of really nice salads, too. Most especially Shari’s new amazing Strawberry -candied pecan (skipped them) blue cheese, bacon, sesame dressed version. I made a close replica of it at home the other night. I didn’t have the luxurious blue cheese nor the sesame dressing. But, it was still delightful. Not exactly comfort food, though, is it? 

But then I asked myself…do I really need comfort food? Not really, but I DID need to eat two of my homemade chocolate chip one bowl brownies last night. I enjoyed every last bite of them, and my weight is still the same today. I am still hovering at about 128 on most days. Yes, this is up from my one-time 123, but I have been running, and I think I look more fit and firm even at five pounds up. On a 5’4″ frame, I am not complaining. 

Salads as a meal are really quite perfect in many respects, but I wonder about something. We went to a large chain restaurant the other night (IHOP), who now has the audacity to post its menu choices CALORIE COUNTS. How horrible! I now don’t want to order a thing on the menu, and end up ordering the stupid “Fit Fare” choices. Now, according to the low-carb theory, I shouldn’t have to worry about calories, but you have to understand. These numbers blew my mind. OK, an omelette- over 1,200. (veggie?!) The omelette is a standby food choice for me when eating out. With all that egg and cheese goodness, ok, I guess I can get it. But let’s look at the numbers. One egg has 90 calories. How many eggs does one omelette have? 20 ? So, then we have cheese. I can only guess how much is used. But if one little cube has about 100 calories, I am guessing about a cup of cheese is used in their omelettes. Alright, it’s starting to add up. 

But the salads. Ok, a grilled chicken salad is somewhere between 800-1100, if memory serves, and I can’t fathom it. 

So, I ended up with the Fit fare, as I stated. This omelette was just the egg whites, a lot of veggies, and I can’t recall there being any cheese…It was adequate, but I missed my fat. 

The good news is, I don’t need to worry about the fat, and so some of my choices will be high calorie. One thing I have noticed is that while keeping all things low-carb, too much protein, not fat, causes me to gain. I am pretty sure my mentor Low-Carb Confidential stated the same thing in his blog, but I really didn’t get it until I realized it was happening. 

Also true is that exercise alone is not enough to make one lose weight, unless you’re my husband. He eats whatever he wants, including ice cream after a big dinner several nights per week and doesn’t gain weight. He did, though, before he started running, which he does about 3 days a week, and he goes longer and faster than I can. I do believe that regular exercise causes us to burn more energy, but I mean regular, not the sporadic once or twice a week mini jog around the block twice. I mean mileage, or working in a very physical job, like Navy ship or steel mill or pro ball player kind of physical. 

I ran my first 5-k on the 2nd. It was a blast! I did it, and I even had energy to power in to the finish! It was a great feeling of accomplishment, and I look forward to doing it again!

Here’s my version of the Strawberry salad…PSYCH! No, this is the photo of the Panda Express my husband ordered, because I was a secret shopper, and got one meal free for rating the place. I had to send in a photo, and I guess I didn’t save that photo of the salad like I thought. FAIL!! That spicy walnut shrimp IS quite tempting and tasty, but let’s move on. Ok, so the photo below this one is the salad. I had not yet drenched it in homemade ‘ranch’ because I wanted to show off the gorgeous ingredients. Some un-candied pecans would have been a nice touch. I admit it, I tried one of those candied nuts, and it’s a very tasty…dessert. But not for me. I had my brownie splurge last night, after a fabulous steak and veggie salad. 

About food: nobody’s been grocery shopping this week, and I’ve had to be creative. Tonight I whipped up meatballs, pizza sauce and parmesan wrapped in that big name refrigerated crescent roll dough, and baked till golden brown for my spouse, and I had the meatballs and parm with sliced tomatoes and onions. It was easy and different, and I heard no complaints from K. Not that he complains much, anyway. He’s too nice. 

So, the update is: I gained five pounds back two months ago, but I feel I look fitter, and my pants still fit well. My new job keeps me walking hard, bending, kneeling, climbing, etc. So I am fitter, not fatter. Well, that’s my story anyway, and I am sticking to it. It’s not like I’ve gone back to my old eating ways. Not even. I still allow that OCCASIONAL splurge, like the brownies, but then I get back on the horse. I end up feeling pretty guilty about those indulgences, and get even more strict the next week or two. 

That’s it, low-carbers and gentle readers, for the update. All is well in pre-maintenance phase, if that’s where I am. I have a very low tolerance for carbs and have found that consistently going over 35-40 grams is the path to gain, and staying at about 30-35 maintains. Twenty to 25 causes a loss, but not until after about nine strict days of adherence to that number, counting everything. I have mostly internalized my understanding of gram counts, but sometimes I still mess up and realize I am already at twenty grams and I still have dinner and any snacks left in my day. That’s when the bacon and egg dinner comes in really handy. Lately, I’ve had a thrice-weekly strawberry harvest from our garden, and so the berries you see in the picture are fresh and organic. YUM! 

A final note on comfort food. Comfort comes from warm blankets, a nice bath robe, a lovely hot bath, even a cashmere sweater. It doesn’t need to come from food. However, when it does, a good rib eye or chicken/veggie soup works just fine. Bon Appetit` !ImageImage

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Do You feel Lucky, Punk? Well, Do Ya?

Maybe I was feeling lucky. I decided at the last minute to have whatever I wanted at Thanksgiving. So, on Thursday, I ate very little for the early part of the day, and did exactly that. I ate turkey, cranberry sauce, a roll, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and pie. Yes, I did. I enjoyed it all. I gained no overnight pounds, and my pants were not immediately tight. I felt no urges to eat more carb-laden food, and I am still not up in weight over Thursday. Today, we had our traditional Saturday Thanksgiving ,which is about food, family, friends, and football. I ate low-carb, but did have two bites of pie, just to taste test it. I was not out of control, and while I did eat a few spoons of whipped topping, I was fine with just meat and veggies tonight. My splurge was three beers, though. Still, overall it was a low-eating, low carb day. I suppose I had about 50 grams today, because of the beer, maybe even 60. I usually worry about anything over 35. I have been waking up every day at 126, though. I had gotten down to 123, but at that point, my face was looking haggard, and I tired of the comments from family that I was ‘withering away’, a complete untruth, I might add. 123 is by no means withering away or even ‘skinny’; not for my height . I have done this before, like on my birthday, and HAVE seen an instant weight gain, so I am not sure what happened this time. Was is purely luck? Was it the ratio of protein to carbs? On my birthday, I ate more carbohydrate than protein, and on Thanksgiving, I simply tacked it on during one meal. I am not sure what the magic combination is. Maybe calories really do play a role, so that eating low carb and keeping calories to a certain range, over a time span of several weeks or months, is the key to maintaining goal weight. I can tell you that in low-carb, I have noticed the same thing that LCC noted- you can gain very quickly but also lose it very quickly if you get back on track in the next day. It is a relief to know that I can celebrate with food, if I keep it to a once or twice-per-month at most splurge. I don’t feel that I need to plan special splurge days, though. I am happy with my low-carb, low sugar plan on the daily.
It will be a surprise if I  find that I am heavier tomorrow. I will be sure to report it, and how I got it back off, if that happens. It IS true that I am up from 123 to 126, but this is an acceptable gain for me. I am really not feeling off track.
LCC IS right. I feel like I am NOT the same person I was in terms of food. I have converted my taste buds and preferences to the low- carb lifestyle. I would tell anyone that If you are just getting started with Atkin’s or Paleo, that if you can make it with strict diligence past the first three months, you will find it to be much easier to stick with it. Remember that the salads and other leafy green, red, and yellow vegetables are great for you, and that it’s not all about steaks and butter. Strawberries taste really sweet when you’re not used to Snicker bars and Twinkies. (oops- speaking of the dead is not polite I guess).
So, another holiday of eating has come and gone, and I survived intact. I haven’t even made it to the gym this week, but I feel that I want to, and that I should.

For those who are struggling, here’s what I want to tell you:

When you stop living for food and the experience of pleasure and comfort it temporarily gives you, you gain a new freedom. You start enjoying living more- relationships with people become more important than the one with food. Hobbies and interests can develop when you’re not hiding behind a plate of pasta.

When you push away the comforts and false sense of well-being that food can give, you may find the issues that may have contributed to your overeating rising back to the surface. Like an addict, you may find the urges to eat it all away come surging back. The important part is to recognize the issues, and to start dealing with them. Write the letter, go to counseling, talk to a trusted confidant. Do whatever it takes to get to the root of the problem. This is the same advice one might give an addict to any substance or habit. Some people are overweight because they just ate a little too much over a long period of time. Others are overweight because they use food to stuff down fears, painful emotions, and unresolved issues. So, what’s your reason for being overweight, or trying to lose weight?

Life is a journey of growth and discovery. It is when we are challenged the most and somehow learn to overcome, that we grow in the most profound ways. Having said that, I have to learn to follow my own advice.

My challenge right now is nicotine gum. I have gone from a smoker to a chewer. While the lung damage has most certainly been halted, the addiction remains, as I am so painfully reminded whenever I run out. Would I suddenly crave sweets again like mad if I gave up the gum? If so, it simply means I have given up one addiction for another. One demon to replace another demon is not the same as overcoming the demon. So, perhaps I have chosen the lesser of two evils, but am I truly free? What are the issues that I am running from, or is it simply a physical need at this point? Am I ready to give up all my false comforts? What will it take to get me to go there?