Grab and Go Lifestyle

Today starts week 5 of phase 2. Phase 2 has meant that we can eat more variety of foods like berries, whole grain tortillas, winter squash, sweet potatoes, lean pork, canadian bacon, olives, avocados, and pistachios. The weight loss has definitely slowed a bit but is still impressive. Here at the start of week 5, I have lost a total of 15.5 pounds. I admit that I have had some bumpy challenges in terms of food choices, but one of the things that has helped me through those have been the general feeling of well being that I have felt since starting SOS.

That is a great transition into the best news about this lifestyle, and the one that really makes me happy. On June 26, I had my yearly blood work drawn to check things like my lipids, metabolism, thyroid, and kidney function. I was super impressed with the results this year. While still corrected with a low dose statin, my lipids are all normal. Not only are they normal, but the values meet the new recommendations published at the end of 2013. While I would love to no longer take a statin, I can at least be happy that there is no reason to increase my dose or use a stronger medication. All of my other values hit inside the normal range (or even just under) so I really can’t complain about any thing.

So now that I’ve said what has kept me going, I can also identify things that keep me convinced this lifestyle is for me. In terms of food, I have been satisfied. Mostly I eat simple foods like salads and pure proteins like meat. I eat plenty of yogurt which means my digestive system is (mostly) healthy. My husband and I agree that this lifestyle actually fits our busy lives. We are on the go a lot. By planning ahead and packing our food, we really are much more capable of eating healthy than when we lived a grab and go lifestyle. Honestly, though, our lifestyle is still grab and go. We grab a bag/container of protein and some veggies from home and go!


Delicious Dinner

I modified a recipe tonight that I pulled from my ancient Weber Grill cookbook that is so old and well used that it is stored in a 3 ring binder.  I attribute some of the success for this recipe to the fact that I had never made the original, nor do I have much experience with Indonesian cooking flavors so the modified version couldn’t be anything but delicious!

When I approached this recipe, I knew that avoiding fat was a major issue.  Starting with the sauce, I identified that sesame oil is not yet permitted (Phase 2) but I honestly don’t know what purpose the oil has in the sauce.  Again, because I was experimenting, I realized that I could chose to eliminate or modify the oil.  I’m sure sesame flavor would be imparted by the original oil, but I also didn’t think that the fat/oil made any contribution so I eliminated it.  The second issue was peanut butter.  This one was much easier because I knew that powdered peanut butter would offer flavor with significantly less fat.  The recipe called for 3 tablespoons and so I chose to add 2 tablespoons of PB2 that would normally be mixed with 1 tablespoon water.  I know that 2 T dry ingredients + 1 T wet ingredients does not necessarily make 3 T of peanut butter, but I felt it was an appropriate amount.

Another sauce issue was the sugar, which is a no brainer to replace.  The nice thing is that anyone can replace sugar with their own preferred sweetner.  I used Truvia.  I chose Truvia because I have recently felt overwhelmed by the flavor of Splenda and am trying to broaden my tastes.

The last concern with the sauce was thickness.  Last week I finally located a low cost source of Xanthan gum (thank you  Vitamin Cottage) and I was eager to try it.  My internet search about how to use the thickener said to use it sparingly so I got out my previously useless dash, pinch, and smidgen measuring spoons that I have never actually used to measure a quantity of something, internet searched again how much each one contains, and decided to use the smallest measure.  I’m sure I could have used more to thicken the sauce.  For what it’s worth, the best way to avoid lumps is to sprinkle the powder onto the surface, let it rest for a minute or so and then wisk it into the liquid.  Voile!  Thicker sauce.

Next challenge was the shrimp.  The seasoning also called for oil (peanut).  The only purposes that I can envision for the peanut oil would be to prevent the shrimp from sticking to the grill and as a medium for the spices to flavor.  I can spray the grill to keep the shrimp from sticking so that would eliminate the need for oil.  As for flavor, I chose to blend my spices in my Magic Bullet because I like that it makes my spices more fine and able to coat the shrimp easier.   My opinion is that the oil would be more important if I were to saute the spices prior to combining with the shrimp in order to bring out their full flavor.  While I might try this, I think grinding the spices finely achieved a similar purpose.  Not to mention, my recipe conversion was an experiment that did not involve testing that variable today!

The final hurdle was to find a vegetable or salad to serve with my Shrimp Satay.  Another quick internet search led me to some ideas for salads.  I opted for one that had a very simple, oil free dressing and reminded me of what I thought the vegetables inside of a Vietnamese Egg roll is like.  The one mistake I made was that I chopped up the mint and cilantro and made them part of the dressing instead of the salad.  They stuck together in clumps!  With a bit of work, I was able to handle it okay, but I think I would prefer to have the herbs loose around the lettuce mixture.

The final dinner product was fantastic.  I made a triple recipe because I wanted to have leftovers for other meals.  I tripled the sauce and either should have made it thicker or just made less of it because when I combined the leftover shrimp and sauce (to coat the shrimp before storage), I ended up with a pretty large amount of leftover sauce that I ended up throwing away.  Overall though the recipe conversion to SOS friendly was successful.

Shrimp Satay

Shrimp Satay


1/4 c water

2 T PB2 powder

2 T Soy Sauce (I recommend low sodium)

2 T Rice Vinegar

1 T sugar substitute

1/2 t granulated garlic

1/4 t Tabasco sauce

Xanthan gum

Instructions:  Combine all ingredients except the Xanthan gum in a small sauce pan.  Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.  Sprinkle a small amount of the Xanthan gum to thicken.   Set sauce aside to cool.


1/2 t ground cumin

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t ground ginger

1/4 t curry powder

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

Instructions:  Combine the dry ingredients.  Use a mixer or grinder to make the spices fine.  Sprinkle onto the shrimp.  Set shrimp aside for 20-30 minutes.

To cook the shrimp, Thread the shrimp onto skewers.  Grill shrimp over Direct High heat until just opaque in the center and firm to the touch 2-4 minutes.  Turn once half way through grilling.  Serve with the sauce.

Thai Salad

For the dressing:

1 clove garlic (pressed or minced)

2 tsp sugar substitute

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp Asian fish sauce

1 tbsp water

3/4 tsp rice-wine vinegar

pinch dried red-pepper flakes

Combine the fish sauce, lemon juice, garlic, sugar substitute, water, vinegar, and red-pepper flakes.

In a large bowl, combine the romaine, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, and mint.

For the salad:

1 small head Romaine lettuce

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and julienned

1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Instructions:  Slice the romaine lettuce into pieces.  You want about 1 quart of greens for the dressing to be most effective.  Combine the vegetables and herbs together.  Top with the dressing.

Nutrition information (calculated by My Fitness Pal and adjusted for the unused sauce)

Calories: 176

Fat: 3 g

Carbs: 4 g

Protein: 31 g

Hip Hip Hooray!

The last week and a half has been a bit of a challenge.  One week ago I had surgery on my left hand which made getting my activity done quite challenging.  It also didn’t help that I wasn’t smart enough to bring SOS friendly foods with me to eat after surgery and they only had graham crackers and applesauce to feed me.  Not diet friendly at all!  Unfortunately, that and some other poor choices made Thursday, 6/19 a bad day.

I’ve learned some very important things about lifestyle choices this week.  A major one is that it is really important that you trust your lifestyle companions to help make responsible decisions instead of indulging you needlessly.  For example, when you are recovering from surgery and ask your spouse for the food you want (not diet friendly, either), then make sure your diet companion knows how to respond while following your new lifestyle.  When I asked for Honey Nut Chex (which I ate an excessive amount of), the proper lifestyle companion response should have been “how about I make you a protein smoothie with milk?” instead of indulging the request.  I guess love is that double edge sword because he feels bad if he doesn’t give me what I want but should realize that the best love to show is the one that recognizes what I need instead.

Despite the lifestyle oops and the surgery, I have weathered the challenges well.  We had our first indulgence meal on Saturday lunch.  It is ironic because we were looking forward to the meal far enough ahead to actually schedule the time/event.  We chose the hospital employee appreciation picnic.  Last year there were a collection of food trucks offering delicious options.  This year was similar but the organizers definitely had our SOS in mind when they limited each person to 3 tickets to get food.  The consequence was that we had to really be thoughtful about exactly what we would eat.  We chose different foods so that we could share and taste each other’s.  We had some pizza, gourmet hot dog, chicken and waffles, bbq pork, and then we each selected a cup cake for dessert.  Once we had eaten, we took a walk around campus and talked about how our first indulgence meal felt.  We all agreed that it wasn’t really all that great.  My general feeling was that I would have much more preferred to eat by the lifestyle and indulge with adding my favorite Sam’s No 3 ranch dressing to a salad.  Mark also agreed that the foods were not nearly what he had wanted.  As we approach our next indulgence meal, this one has been much more planned for us.  Back in February we were invited to attend a celebration for my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday at a historic restaurant outside of Boulder.  It will be our indulgence meal, but I can imagine that my brain will be circling with the thoughts of how to indulge without actually completely obliterating the lifestyle.  It will be a challenge because it is a 6 course meal–and I’m sure there will be a bread basket.

Phase 1 Complete

Yeehaw!  Phase 1 is permanently behind us!  I am proud to say that I lost 10 pounds in phase 1.  Mark is at a little more than 11 pounds.  The loss has been both easier and harder than I expected.  It is easier because all I have to do is eat.  It is harder because I view summer as my relax time.  I read books, I watch videos, I clean the house.  None of that is happening.  I worry about this because once school begins, my life gets so hectic and complicated.  I have to convince myself to stick with the program because the ultimate end will be good and worthwhile.

Some food tricks I have learned while embarking on this journey are the spiralizer.  This awesome tool basically shaves vegetables into spaghetti like strings.  The good news for that is that I can eat “pasta” without actually eating all of the carbs in pasta.  The bad news at this point is that my favorite marinara sauce appears to be off limits because it has more fat than I would want to consume right now.  I think when my metabolism is stronger, I will opt to eat this a bit more often, but not as I am rebuilding it.

Phase 2 begins today which means that our food choices expand somewhat.  We can add some additional proteins like Canadian bacon, lean pork, other lean meats (beside chicken, turkey and beef).  I am excited to add the Canadian bacon because it will make scrambled egg whites much more delicious.  Yesterday, I made some delicious egg cups using the Canadian bacon, asparagus, egg whites, and cottage cheese.  My secret ingredient, not in the original recipe, was dry mustard!  I’m convinced the mustard made all the difference in the world.  Even Ellie said these were delicious.  In addition to the updated protein choices, we can start adding limited quantities of whole grains, rice cakes, high fiber tortillas, and BERRIES (once a day).  The added foods will make eating a new experience.  Phase 1 had become a chore.



And so it begins.

A week ago, my husband and I started a journey.  As I sought people who might be able to understand where I am coming from, I realized that I had a lot to say but very little audience.  I doubt most people will care, but I know for sure that I have things to say about my journey.  I also know that if I don’t say them, then they are quite likely to hold me back.  The journey we started was to begin the Colorado Diet and achieve a State of Slim.  We have now begun week 2.  Some of my insights are recorded here.

I know eating healthy is a challenge. The greatest piece of that challenge for me is time. I have only “dieted” now twice in my life but my food issues clearly stem from external imposition. When I was 8, I was diagnosed with diabetes and given a meal plan to follow. My recollection is that it didn’t tell me what to eat but how much. Regardless, I recall times when I wanted more and couldn’t have it or was expected to eat when I had no desire.  That food plan never changed as I grew and changed as a person.  As a result, I used food as a way to control the meal plan.  And of course, now, I am a large person.  About 7 years ago my husband and I were very successful losing weight by tracking our calories, fat, carbs, and protein while increasing our activity. We both agree that we can lose weight. However, we found the process of tracking our intake and output to be exhausting and it took up a log of time that we just don’t have. That “diet” had some good parts.

Now we are working on having a Colorado lifestyle which is focused on making healthy choices. This first phase is a bit brutal….the restrictions on what we can heat are challenging but the rules (to live by, forever) make sense. I have realized that I crave carbohydrates. I love crackers, cookies, cereals, anything that has carbs but is NOT whole grain. Don’t get me wrong, I can eat whole grain (and like it) but that isn’t my craving. I know that phase 1 of this way of existance is helping me both recognize and conquer those cravings. I have noticed that the times I begin thinking about the cookies, crackers, cereals are at times when my plan says I should be eating anyways. Once I conquer the hunger with my protein and permitted carb then the craving goes away. I have always thought that craving carbs was a form of hunger but now I know that it is hunger but not necessarily for carbs. Limiting the carbs has helped me recognize that I can accomplish a lot simply by identifying my challenges.

And the good news…after 8 days, I am down 6 pounds.  And my husband is down 9.  Only many more to go.