Little Victories from Big Changes

This week I’m celebrating a small victory. See, my weight gain happened in stages. There was always that 30 pounds I needed to lose. Then 15 more I gained after I returned from Iraq. Oh, and another 10 after a particularly rough patch in Afghanistan.

When I returned home from my last deployment I had big plans. I was going to exercise every day, eat healthier than our cafeteria food overseas allowed and fit back into the cute clothes I bought during that wild shopping spree in Paris three years before.

Ha! Instead I became one with the couch. And the scale climbed another 20 pounds.

And that’s when I started this blog. Now, 18 months later (with far fewer posts than I had hoped), I declare victory!

Now, don’t go thinking victory means my doctor isn’t still lecturing me about BMI. Or that my goal weight is even within striking distance. Hardly. The victory I’m celebrating is the fact that – although barely noticeable to most – I have changed.

It started small…I gave up soda as one of my 2013 New Year’s resolutions (well, starting January 3, 2013 because I couldn’t break up with Coke until after I recovered from that wicked NYE hangover.) I remember those bi-weekly phone calls with my health coach back then. After a 20-minute confessional on every bad thing I had eaten, I would end with, “But I haven’t had a soda yet!” I declared war on high fructose corn syrup and now it doesn’t have the same clutch on me that some ex-boyfriends still do.

Next I confronted my addiction to cheese. Is that a collective gasp I just heard? Don’t worry – I haven’t abandoned Port Salut or La Tur or St. Andre’s triple crème altogether. But instead of a meal substitute, cheese is now equivalent to dessert in my world – to be enjoyed occasionally, as an indulgence, and only in reasonable portions. Yes, I’m a bit misty-eyed at this but it’s for the best. It really is. And, I’m ok with it. Or at least I will be one of these days. I hope.

Then Kim introduced me to juicing. Drinking the green stuff. Never thought that would happen. But we started by spiking it with alcohol to help me step off the cliff. Then without the booze, because that’s the deal we negotiated. And now it’s my favorite snack for a shot of energy. Seriously.

From the juicer I graduated to the Nutri-bullet. My best friend and travel companion. Forget MasterCard, I don’t leave home without my Nutri-bullet. And now I start my days with an apple/carrot/ginger/orange combo that makes me happy. Yes, happy.

Slowly I incorporated a few other changes too: More fruits and vegetables but fewer starches. I’m one of the cool kids with a FitBit. I don’t go a day without my “pink drink” (aka Plexus – yeah, it’s a MLM company but I like it and I think it’s helping too.) I hired a personal trainer instead of buying a new handbag. Then reduced my martini budget so I could keep seeing him.

And today when I stepped on the scale, I achieved my first benchmark of success. Twenty pounds later it’s as if all the tacos and mac ‘n cheese and french fries that I ate to medicate my re-deployment anxiety and depression never happened!

Yes, that’s down about 23 pounds in 18 months. Not breaking any speed records here. But that isn’t the number that matters. Neither is the bigger number on the scale. Or even the fact that I can fit into my fat jeans. (Yes, it got so bad that now I’m celebrating wearing the fat jeans).

What matters is that the number is going down – even though I’ve been living out of a suitcase for all of those 18 months. Yes, for the first time since my tour in Iraq in 2009, the number is steadily DECREASING.

I may get a gold star for the slowest weight loss ever. But that gold star is more about real change. I finally understand the difference between dieting and that “lifestyle change” people talk about. Dieting is deprivation — for a finite period of time. Changing is finding things you enjoy as much as the bad stuff and then loving how much better you feel to keep it up.

Of course, I still have six storage containers of clothes I can’t fit into…yet. But I choose to celebrate this little victory because I finally understand that every day is about making good choices — and not hating myself for the bad ones. Same goes for the rest of life too.



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Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


When Fat Equals Failure

Love this post from Liza Palmer:

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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Eating Right vs. Cooking Right

I’m a cook.  A damn good cook.  But in the past I’ve been able to rely on short cuts to yum up anything that would otherwise be healthy.  For example, everyone raves about my brussel sprouts.  And they are healthy, right?  Well, they were before I sauteed them in bacon grease and served them with chorizo under a sprinkling of pecorino cheese and a dash of toasted breadcrumbs.  And this now explains why most of my pants no longer fit.

As I try to get healthier (and fit into those pants), I’m learning how to be more creative in the kitchen.  In the last two months I’ve discovered that the challenge of yumming up healthy food in a healthy way is far more fun to focus on than thinking about everything I should be trying to avoid.

These days I am one with the curry and the coconut oil and, as previously posted, the kale, just to name a few.  I’m sampling new ingredients and trying new recipes and my taste buds are loving the adventure.  My friends are too.  Just last night everyone insisted my turkey chili was just too tasty to be healthy.  I stole the recipe from the “Ultimate New York Body Plan” and tweaked it for my guests who like spice.  For those of you who want to try something new, I’m including it below.  You won’t even miss the cheddar cheese and sour cream on top, I promise.

Spicy Yummy Chili

Brown 1 package lean ground turkey.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.  Next reduce heat to low and add 1 large red pepper, coarsely chopped; 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped; 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped; and 3 cloves garlic, minced.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, and 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder.  Stir the spices into the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes.  Increase heat to medium and add 2 cans (14.5 oz) chopped plum tomatoes in juice, 1 can vegetable broth and 1 bay leaf.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.  Add the browned turkey and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro before serving.


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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


Scared of Kale

After I blended that curry/garlic/date dressing and “massaged” it into the kale just as the YouTube video taught me, there it sat in the refrigerator, marinating, while Andrea and I worked up our courage.  Then, when it was time, she turned to me and said, “I’m a little scared.”

I had to admit, “I’m scared too.”

Now is when I tell you that I’ve stared down the barrel of a gun, ducked into a bunker to avoid mortar fire, lost members of my security detail to a sniper and survived a Taliban mob who targeted me in the middle of an orchard in the heart of the Kandahar Valley.

Now is when I tell you that she’s battling colon cancer and selling her house and divorcing her husband of 15+ years while raising her three young children on her own.

And yet the one thing we both feared today:  Kale.

Ridiculous?  Completely.

But true.  She’s a meat and mashed potatoes carnivore.  When I pulled the kale out of the produce bag, Andrea turned to me and said, “Isn’t that what they decorate salad bars with?”  I’m more adventurous but for some reason intimidated by anything that is considered “healthy.”  Hey, not everything in life makes sense.  [See above Taliban or cancer reference.]

But Kim won’t stop talking about kale.  She’s the queen of kale.  Seriously, I think kale hired her to be its publicist or CMO.  Calcium…yada, yada, yada…fiber…yada, yada, yada…vitamins A-Z…yada, yada, yada.  I get it.  It’s the superfood of superfoods, a leafy fountain of youth in the produce section.

And so we conquered our fears and hesitantly, reluctantly, dove in.

And we survived. After the second bite, we even realized we liked it.  Seriously.  And not in a “yeah, it’s not bad” kind of way.  We *really* liked it.  In a Sally Field oscar acceptance speech kind of way.

So, for all of my kale-fearing friends, I must share the Curried Kale Salad recipe Kim sent me:

Blend the following into a smooth dressing:  10 cloves of garlic, 3 Tbsp curry, 1 Tbsp cumin, 8 medjool dates, 1 1/2 C olive oil, 1/2 C lemon juice, 2 Tbsp sea salt.  Remove stems from 3 bunches of kale and finely chop the leaves.  Then massage dressing into the greens and marinate for two hours.

Try it.  You might just like it too.  And, if you’re afraid, well, you’re not alone.

Next up:  green drink.  Spiked with vodka.


Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


In Addition to All Those Apps

Did you know that you can take a yoga class on YouTube?  Or that Pinterest has an entire category dedicated to health and fitness with instructional work-outs and inspirational quotes?  And you can populate your Twitter feed with expert advice from Bob Harper if you follow @MyTrainerBob?  If you’re not ready to sign up at the local gym or willing to weigh in with the crowd at Weight Watchers, logging on to social media platforms can be a great first step toward better health and wellness.

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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Losing Weight in the App Age

All of my friends are in *much* better shape than me.  You’d think this peer pressure alone would have convinced me to starve myself into my jeans.  But, no.  Unfortunately I’ve discovered I am resistant to such motivational influences.

I’m not the friend who is going to inspire the bouncer to wave us through the line or the target for the round of drinks sent over from the cute boy in the corner.  But thankfully my friends understand that every social clique benefits from having at least one girl who can edit résumés, negotiate better room rates and navigate us to off-the-beaten-path wineries.  That would be me.

However, they have always ignored my physical imperfections and helped build my confidence in other ways.  In fact, my most recent plea for support with this attempt to get fit was met with, “I’m reading your blog!” and “I want to help!”   Shortly afterwards during our Christmas gift exchange, I opened a card from Rose that contained an iTunes gift certificate.  For health and wellness apps, she explained.  Yes, my friends are pretty *and* considerate *and* smart.

I had already downloaded Workout Trainer which sends me the occasional push notification with a new workout.  And TargetWeight helps me track my progress.  I mean, it will help me track my progress.  Once there is progress to track.

Rose suggested Lose It, which can be quite addictive.  It calculates a daily plan for weight loss that includes a calorie counter and exercise log.  It is also pre-programmed with enough data to make keeping a food diary much easier than pre-iPhone/iPad times.  And right now I’m downloading Simply Yoga.  Because I can.

As I researched how best to spend my $15, I was overwhelmed by all of the health and wellness resources that could be sent to my phone every day:  workouts, running plans, health tips and more.  For a girl who just entered the smart phone world earlier this year, I’m still discovering the power of new technologies that were adopted while I was off in the third-world searching for a signal on my beat up blackberry.  And I’m loving it.

Now if only I could find an app that would administer a slight electric shock every time I reach for a cookie.

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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Your Date’s Worst Fear

I was watching the documentary “When Strangers Click: Five Stories from the Internet” yesterday when I read, in bold letters, the truth I never wanted to know.  According to a survey about online dating:

“Women are afraid of meeting a serial killer. Men are afraid of meeting someone fat.”


Sure, not every man will be turned off by those extra pounds.  But a majority will.

And I can’t complain.  I’m equally concerned about their employment status, emotional stability, and their attractiveness too (which is largely determined by their own fitness, health and hygiene.)

But it still stings.  Cause I’m not “slender” or “athletic.”  And although my online photos are recent, they are definitely flattering.  So flattering that someone could meet me and be charmed by my wit or attracted to my intelligence yet still walk away disappointed.  Because, really, I’m more “out of shape” than “curvy.”

I’ve never been afraid of meeting a serial killer.  Probably because I’m scrappy and can take care of myself.  But I have always been afraid of meeting someone who is afraid of meeting someone who looks like me.

Well, according to this survey, my fear is legit.  So instead of lounging around the house in my yoga pants, watching depressing documentaries on, I better hit the gym.  Because no matter how much some of us want to ignore the truth or pretend we live in a less-superficial world, that doesn’t change how we all think and feel.  Better to accept this reality and use it to motivate myself into action than just hope for the best from my next online dating adventure.


Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Uncategorized