Alright guys, I’m on a roll! I couldn’t look in the mirror post-Ireland without cringing, so I’ve been really cracking down on my health. And by health, I just mean not stuffing my face with starches, cheese, and heavy beer. As you know from my post on making lemonade in dealing with Aaron’s deployment, one of the perks of his absence is being able to focus on my food intake. As in, I have an easier time eating portions made for one midsize human, not devouring servings designed for heavy weight body builders.
In my quest to fit into my formal dresses by the time we go on our Alaskan cruise in June (!!), I’ve discovered a few new healthy meal options that have been helping me shed the el bees (lbs). I’ve also been getting back in a cardio routine, but there’s not much to say about that other than it’s not pretty, and I go to the gym at 2 p.m. so no one sees me sweating like I’ve never run a mile in my life.
A few weeks ago, before going to Ireland, and before I started sad-eating over the idea of my husband deploying again, I posted a list of what I was consuming most days with hopes of losing weight (we’re talking 5-10 pounds– don’t worry I’m not delusional). That list still holds, but I’ve started including a few more fresh(ish) and technically healthy options because now I actually have the time to cut vegetables. Sure, I technically “had time” when Aaron was here, but it’s way more fun to cuddle on the couch and eat takeout than it is to cut veggies in the kitchen.
If I can lose weight, you can lose weight. Trust me. Three things I lack: A desire to cook, excess money, and basic self-control. Three things I love: Eating, socializing, and sitting down. Not to mention, I’m not all that large to begin with, so my body isn’t totally on board with easily shedding weight. The cards are stacked against me, but my pants can [kind of] button again, so maybe that’ll inspire you to light a fire under your [big] butt, too.
Here are my newest, fresh(ish) meal discoveries:
Psych. I’m going to say one more thing before getting to the list. In my hopes of developing some self-control through practice, practice, practice, I’m consuming 4-5 small meals a day. “Small meals” is pretty much code for “snacks,” because they’re in the 2-400 calorie range. So if you see a “meal” on this list and think to yourself, “she’s lost her mind,” just remember that I’m eating them at least four times a day.
1. Cottage cheese + butternut squash + raw broccoli
My good friends at Food Lion package pre-cut baby cubes of fresh butternut squash, which is my new favorite discovery. I’ve always been a huge fan of butternut squash, but usually when it’s doused in brown sugar and butter. The “discovery” angle is referring to this carton of precut cubes in the vegetable aisle, which is never an actual “aisle”– it’s always a whole corner of the store. But that’s not what’s important here. Unadulterated butternut squash in an unmessy, fresh form is the real focus.
The other day, I thought about going home to eat a can of Progresso Soup (which is delish, by the way) or a Lean Cuisine for lunch, but didn’t find either of those things appealing because I wanted either A) something fresh, or B) a cheeseburger. Since I’m trying to lose weight, I went with option A. I knew I wanted raw broccoli, which was weird…but I wasn’t going to complain about that craving, so I had to come up with a way to consume it in a way that wasn’t simply me gnawing on a baby tree. Cottage cheese was an old favorite of mine back in pageant prep days, plus the thought of broccoli in cottage cheese kind of reminded me of pasta salad, and I decided this could be a cool way to feel like I’m eating pasta salad without all the noodles and oil. Then I saw the cubes of precut butternut squash and knew they were the final element to this beautiful creation. I measured out 1 cup of cottage cheese, threw in a small handful of squash cubes, cut up a teeny portion of broccoli, and voila! Lunch. Watch out, red dress that my dad calls “saran wrap.” I’m coming for you.
Calorie count: 170
2. Avocado + tomato + salt & pepper
This one’s not actually a new discovery. I ate this for lunch every day for two months straight back in 2014. But it’s making a resurgence in my life. I love avocados because duh, they’re full of fat and totally delicious. All healthy recipes only allow ¼ or ½ an avocado, but we know how I feel about self-control. I need to eat the whole avocado. The only way to achieve this without getting huge is by pairing it with something that has basically no calories: tomatoes. Toss on a little salt & pepper to make things interesting, and boom. You’ve stuck it to all those recipes that made you feel like you can only eat part of an avocado. Fun nazis.
Calorie count: 350
I know cereal isn’t fresh, but it’s a generally new discovery for me, so it makes the cut for this list. I ate a really disturbing amount of Captain Crunch when I was in middle school, but since then, I’ve really stepped out of the cereal scene. As Aaron and I walked through that aisle the other week on our way to find ground beef in the back of the grocery store, I cocked my head and thought, “wait, should I buy a box of this stuff?” Don’t know where that thought came from, but life throws you curve balls, you know?
I threw a box with a picture of oats on the front into our shopping cart, then picked up a carton of almond milk. Why not? Let’s get creative here. It’s SO GOOD. I’m well aware that I’m practically eating dessert with all the sugar I consume during this meal, but honestly, I don’t care. It keeps me satisfied and allows me to do the spoon to mouth scooping motion, which is my favorite style of eating. I’ve been measuring out exact servings, so I don’t feel that bad about it.
Calorie count: 200
4. Steel cut oatmeal + banana + tiny bit of brown sugar + cinnamon
Ohmigosh, guys, talk about dessert for breakfast. I’m sure I should replace the brown sugar with strawberries, but then I wouldn’t eat it, which would leave me hungry, so I’d give up and eat an entire pizza for lunch or something. It’s all about knowing what you can handle. And I can’t handle a life of food that doesn’t taste good.
I don’t actually know the health benefits of steel cut oatmeal, but the name of it sounds pretty healthy, so I’m rolling with it. Bananas are not my favorite on their own, but throw them in this mix and they’re the perfect consistency and flavor to break up the brown goo. Add brown sugar + cinnamon because they really mask the taste of cardboard.
Calorie count: 350
5. Fish + quinoa & brown rice mix
I still eat meat, I promise! I’m just not good at cooking it at home, so I stick to eating that when I find myself at a restaurant or over at a friend’s house for dinner.
Fish is super easy to cook, though, because you can just throw it in a pan until it’s no longer slimy. I’ve cooked chicken the same way before, but for whatever reason, chicken stresses me out. I think it’s because I’m always worried I’ll either give myself salmonella or end up overcooking the meat until it’s barely distinguishable from rubber. I’m also not a pro with seasoning, and I hate when chicken tastes like chicken. It’s hard to explain. But whenever I cook chicken, it tastes straight off the farm and that really freaks me out.
Quinoa + brown rice out of a box that has a pre-mixed packet of seasoning is really helpful in my life. Boil some water, stir, and you have a lovely side dish for your fish. Sometimes I even cook broccoli, so the meal is well-rounded. But that would be a lot of dishes to wash afterwards, so it depends on my energy level.
Calorie count: 300
I guarantee that I’ll never be a fitness guru or have a diet that excludes all sugar or all carbs or all dairy or all meat or all [fill in the blank]. I’ll probably accidentally consume too much sodium or not enough fiber until the doctor tells me it’s life threatening. But so help me if I ever let my weight spiral out of control. It’s not out of control yet [keyword: yet], so I’ve found a way to reel it back in before I find myself needing to buy new clothes or hoping my husband doesn’t watch me walk away. I always want to feel good when I’m in front of him on a staircase. (What? Just being honest.)
I think it’d be pretty selfish of me to not share my proven ways with other people, or to pretend that I’m awesome at cooking and squats. [Side note: Anyone else fall over when you try to keep your knees above your toes?] Health and weight are something most of us have to keep an eye on since food is really delicious and we live in a country surrounded by it. What works for me may not work for you, but I hope it gives you some sort of motivation to reel things in when you’ve having a bad month or two (or 6, or 12, or 48).