Weight Loss Reality Check


I had my 10th weigh-in at Weight Watchers today, and am down 1.6 pounds since before Christmas, for a total of 4.6 pounds since...October. Not exactly burning up the scales.

I keep my WW membership booklet/weight record in a little carrying case, and as I was putting my guide away after weigh-in today, I noticed/remembered that I have kept all my booklets from each time I have re/joined WW. I got them all out and looked through them, noting how many years - and pounds - had passed. Therein lay some significant, sobering truths.

To further impress upon myself these truths, I created an Excel spreadsheet to map out my weight loss journey. It ain't pretty.

  • I've joined WW 12 times, the first time in January 1999. So pretty much every year, I try again.
  • I've lost weight each time - proving I *CAN* be successful, when I stick with the program.
  • The first time I lost a total of 25.6 pounds, and was 13 pounds from goal.
  • The first time I was a member for 17 weeks, the longest I have ever stayed on the program.
  • I've also gained the lost weight back nearly every time I stopped attending meeting/unsubscribed from the program.
  • I gained back 24 of those first 25 pounds lost in 5 months, after going off program.
  • Three times I have stopped going after the 10th week. Interesting I discover this on my 10th week on the program this time around.
  • In the 12 years since I started WW, I've lost 90 pounds, but since I also gain it back, then lose some, then gain more, am currently just 10 pounds lighter than when I started back in 1999.

I don't need any celebrity trainer to berate me on national television to force me to face reality - these numbers tell the story just as coldly.

Bottom line - I have wasted YEARS and HUNDREDS of dollars by going and quitting and going back again. If I'm going to DO THIS and stop wasting my time, I need to PAY ATTENTION and really do this. I need to do my food journal every day, drink more water, and move more. For realz.

Who's with me?

[photo credit: MCScola]

Gluten-Free Christmas Dinner

We have hosted a special family meal at our house every Christmas for about 14 years now, and - I must say - we put out a pretty good spread. I've used the same Christmas Dinner menu every year, and it includes something for everyone - many favorite family recipes.

My brother threw me a bit of a loop this year when he was diagnosed with celiac disease and GERD - due to his dietary concerns with gluten, dairy, citrus, garlic, and onion products (plus others), I had to scrutinize my recipes to see what could be substituted, revised, or otherwise tweaked. Believe me, the emails flew fast and furious between him, my mom, and I the weeks leading up to Christmas!

For some recipes, I checked with my brother, and discovered he didn't actually plan to eat some things (e.g., he's not a big salad eater), so I didn't even bother revising them.

For other recipes, I was able to just verify the ingredients, and tweak to use friendlier ingredients, such as lactose-free margarine.

This year I added the following gluten-free, dairy-free dishes:

My brother's plate seemed plenty full at the dinner, so I guess the dishes turned out all right! :)

I'll be looking for more celiac/GERD-friendly dishes, and see what I can surprise him with next year!  Feel free to share links to your favorite "company" recipes in the Comments section below. How have you coped with family meals due to recent diet-related diagnoses?



Christmas Dinner Recap: Dry Aged Prime Roast Beef

Herbed Standing Rib Roast (2008) At this year's annual Christmas Dinner, we figured out this was my 13th year for hosting.  I always serve the same menu, partly to maintain my preparation sanity, and partly because my family has come to know, expect, and love certain foods.  If my dinner has become a part of their Christmas traditions and memories, who am I to mess with that?

Click to see my Christmas Dinner menu (with recipes).

This year (or last, technically, since it's now 2010) I spent Christmas Eve day as I have for the past 13 years - prepping for Christmas dinner.  I have it down to a science now, what steps I can do ahead of time, to make the actual Day of the Feast go more smoothly.  So Christmas Eve came and I was exhausted from the full day of cooking, but ready for the coming meal.  Unfortunately the elements conspired against me and waylaid my plans - a Kansas City blizzard convinced us to postpone the dinner until New Year's Day. 

Also unfortunately, the food I had prepared wouldn't keep a week, so my nuclear family of four had what my daughter called a "test dinner" on Sunday.  The test was successful, and we had some lovely leftovers last week (since Christmas menu feeds about 10 people).

So last Sunday I went grocery shopping for Christmas Dinner, round 2, and got another 7LB standing rib roast.  My father-in-law, a Food Network junkie, suggested I "dry age" the roast, as a means of preserving it for a week in the fridge, instead of freezing and defrosting it within a week.  

According to sizzlersranch.com, "when prime beef is dry aged, two things happen. First, moisture evaporates from the muscle meat creating a greater concentration of beefy flavor and taste. Secondly, the prime beef’s natural enzymes break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle, tenderizing it."

To dry age a roast at home, you remove the roast from the shrink-wrap and rinse well. Pat it completely dry then wrap it in cheesecloth. Place on a rack in your refrigerator overnight, then remove, unwrap, discard used cheesecloth and wrap with a fresh piece. Then put it back in the fridge for about a week. When you're ready to cook it, you remove the cheesecloth, and trim any dry "yuckies" to give you a nice fresh surface, then cook per the recipe.

I was a bit nervous about leaving a roast basically "open" for a week in my fridge, protected only by a few layers of cheesecloth.  But I read a few articles online and it seems an accepted technique.  I found the article, "Standing Rib Roast - Dry Aged" at the Virtual Weber Bullet, particularly helpful. 

So enlightened, I bravely struck out into new cooking territory and followed this dry aging technique outlined by chef Guy Fieri.

The vote was unanimous - this year's roast was the best yet. My family couldn't stop talking about how tender and flavorful it was.  My husband commented that it was much better than the "test roast" we'd had the previous Sunday, and while the roast didn't look any different after cooking, he could really tell the different in taste and texture.

My father-in-law, who is very picky about his meat cuts and preparation, said, "this is exactly how it's supposed to be done."  Since my family all knows how particular he is, I had to share that comment with everyone and a general cheer arose. I was very pleased with myself.

Since it wasn't difficult or particularly time-consuming, I expect I will continue using this technique for future roasts.

Oh, and I thought I would mention the amazing wine my dad brought to share - he received it as a gift from a vendor.  It was a fabulous berry-ish red wine from Spain - Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada. I think he said retail price is around $50, and boy, could I tell the difference from our usual box-wine fare! Very rich, and just amazing with my melt-in-your-mouth prime rib.

So ends my 'foodie' review.  Have you ever tried a new cooking technique that made you nervous at first, particularly for a "command performance"?  Did you try anything new for your holiday cooking this year?  How did it turn out?

Massive Madison Snowball Melee

Sounds like it was an eventful day yesterday at my alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I was a student there the last time they canceled classes:

"According to [UW Spokesperson] Lucas, the last time a large portion of the day’s classes were canceled due to snow was Dec. 3, 1990, when then-chancellor Donna Shalala made the decision to halt classes at 10:30 a.m. Lucas said on that day 17 inches of snow fell over a period of 12 to 13 hours. He added that is the closest the UW had ever come to a full day closure in several decades, until now, adding that full closures are “extremely, extremely rare.” 

Read the full story here: Snow forces UW to cancel 1st ever full day of classes

But a day without classes wasn't enough.  No, a snowball fight on Bascom Hill "was initiated by three UW freshmen who created a Facebook event page late Monday night looking to blow off steam before finals.

To their surprise, memories of battle royales from last year and the snowballing power of Facebook quickly pushed the number of confirmed attendees into the thousands."

Read that full story here: Snow fight set for today.

Battle For Bascom Preview from The Badger Herald on Vimeo.

Snowball fight on Bascom Hill from The Badger Herald on Vimeo.

Check out other videos on YouTube and GoogleVideo.

If we were there, my husband would have been in the thick of it, no doubt.  In shorts.

Fancy a shawl in chainmail lace, anyone?

So you may have read some of my Twitter updates last week, indicating I was working on what I had *hoped* would be a lacy wrap to wear out to a nice dinner for our 16th anniversary last Saturday.

going out to dinner in a fancy dress Saturday - hoping I have time to crochet this Sweet Scallops Shawl: http://snipurl.com/99zsp - 4:30 PM 12/30/08

I picked up black yarn for the shawl/wrap today at lunch - to go with my black dress. (black yarn should hide stitch errors!) 5:42 PM 12/30/08

Just got some GORGEOUS Feza yarn for my shawl - now must knit like the wind to finish by Sat nite! Too bad I still have to work 2day & Fri! 1:45 PM 12/31/08

In case you're dying of curiousity - it's Feza Mesmerize in Passions Kiss - Just stunning! 1:54 PM 12/31/08

settling in to knit in the New Year. I figure if my husband and kids can 'game' in the New Year, knitting isn't much geekier! 6:53 PM 12/31/08

getting very little knitting done - http://www.popcap.com/games 11:12 PM 12/31/08

definitely out of my comfort zone with this wrap/shawl - very lightweight yarn wants to fall off the needles. Making progress, though. 8:41 PM 1/1/09

just read some of the latest Artful Blogging - now to work on my wrap. I fear it won't be done by tomorrow. Looks chainmail-ish anyway. 1:46 PM 1/2/09

Make me feel better - does this look lacy & delicate, or rather like chainmail?   2:24 PM 1/2/09

one vote "do the hustle" and one vote "chainmail". Well...fart. Wonder if someone on Etsy can get me something by tomorrow?? ;) 2:51 PM 1/2/09

sigh - giving up on the shawl, I think. Wonder if I can find something local fast? A consignment shoppe, maybe? 3:26 PM 1/2/09

I wound up giving up completely on knitting the shawl.  I started out loving the yarn and just all the possibilities of it, but then it just went downhill.  It was so fine - probably DK or even fingering weight, and it kept wanting to slip off my size 13 needles.  My neck and shoulders were so tight because I was so tense trying to keep it all together and finished in time for the dinner. And I finally got to the point where I was able to realize, and accept, that if you're doing or making something, and you're not enjoying it, and it's not really a 'have-to' kind of thing, just stop.  It's not worth it.  Time to regroup and figure out another plan.  A lesson I learned during Christmas crafting with the ill-fated family set of mittens plan.

So I went shopping after work on Friday, and within about an hour, I found a lovely silver wrap with a hint of lace texture.  Much prettier than mine would have ended up being, and just the thing.  And on double sale (marked down, after being marked down) - well, that's just a no-brainer! :)

All in all, I felt quite fancy. :)  This is me with my dear husband of 16 years.


It was a Super/Literary Christmas

We had what I have just decided I am calling a "super/literary Christmas".  My husband received multiple superhero movies on Bluray, and all four of us received multiple books.

Our new Bluray collection now includes:

Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Batman - The Dark Knight
Hellboy II

My kids also received Dr Horrible on DVD from their uncle - which I believe counts as a superhero movie, even though the main character is a villain.  We watched it tonight - the bonus applications to the Evil League of Evil were awesome!  I think we liked The Reverend/Pastor Puppet the best.

Our family book collection also increased.  I won't be lacking for reading material for some time, as I'm also currently reading the third book in the Sign of Seven Trilogy, "The Pagan Stone", by Nora Roberts. For Christmas I got:

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K Hamilton
The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

Funny story - a friend of ours from college always sends us "book prizes" for Christmas and birthdays.  This year, as usual, she sent us a package of four books, one for each of us.  We didn't see any markings on them indicating which was for whom, so we just read the descriptions and divvy'd them out as seemed appropriate.  Then later I was paging through one of the books and noticed a little gift tag stuck in the pages with my son's name on it.  So we looked through each of the books and realized we had 'assigned' all but one of the four books incorrectly!  So I think we will actually end up reading each other's, since we thought another was 'ours' in the first place!  :) 

For instance, my husband received "Bloodsucking Fiends: a Love Story" by Christopher Moore, which I thought was for me.  It 'goes' beautifully with my avid reading of the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris (the basis of HBO's series, "True Blood".)  I've listened the the first book, "Dead Until Dark", as an mp3 audio book, and am now not-so-patiently waiting for the 2nd book, "Living Dead in Dallas", on CD on reserve from the library.  Now that I have new books, though, perhaps the waiting won't be quite so not-so-patient. :)

Teacher Christmas Gifts

Got my daughter's teachers' gifts wrapped up tonight - she chose to give gifts to her main teacher, a reading teacher, a science teacher, and a Band teacher.  Ordinarily we just give a gift to main teachers, but this year I've been feeling very crafty, so everyone gets to enjoy.  :)

The main teacher is getting a pretty stockinette scarf that I posted about previously.

The reading teacher is getting a thermal knit washcloth and a bar of locally handmade soap.  By 'thermal knit', I mean a variation on the thermal pattern used in Knitty.com's Thermal sweater pattern.  The Knitty.com pattern is K2, P2 for two rows, then two rows knit, then repeat the four rows.  For this washcloth, I did K1, P1 for two rows, then two rows knit.  Just a smaller ribbing.


The science teacher is getting a crochet coffee cozy - but since my daughter said he seems to drink only Mountain Dew, the cozy will be wrapped around a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew (still have to pick that up...AND take a picture of the cozy!).

The Band teacher is getting a canister of "Mexican fudge" (milk chocolate with cinnamon).  I'm pretty pleased with the presentation, and consider myself pretty clever for it.  ;)  The recipe is soooo simple - just two ingredients!

Lazy Woman's Fudge

*Flavors of baking chips and frosting depend on whatever flavor you're craving!

  • 1 (12 ounce) package flavored chips (i.e. chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc)
  • 1 (16 ounce) can frosting
  1. Put baking chips and contents of can of frosting into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat on high for 1 minute at a time, stirring in between to prevent scalding.
  3. Keep stirring and reheating until melted (it usually only takes my batches 1 min)
  4. Pour into a well greased 8x8 pan and put in the refrigerator until set.

Instead of an 8x8 pan, I poured the melted fudge into mini muffin tins lined with wrappers - instant portion control and no cutting!  Sooo much easier that way!

THEN to 'wrap' for the teacher, I took off the label from the frosting canister and washed it out.  Then wrapped pretty scrapbooking paper around it, and put the little frosting 'cups' back in the canister.  Nicely sealed container and nothing goes to the landfill. (Well, until she throws it away, but maybe she won't, since it's 'altered' and pretty. Could make a nice pen jar for her desk.)



What are you giving for teacher gifts this year?

This is a Recession?

As I was out running errands and Christmas shopping today, I couldn't help but notice how the current economic situation is effecting local shoppers' buying decisions.




Everywhere I went the parking lots were PACKED.  People were definitely out en masse, spending plenty of money (and I contributed my fair share!)  Good to see that the local economy, at least, appears to be thriving here in Kansas City.