Friday, May 31, 2013

Moving Down with a Vegetable-Based Diet

It's been a busy month! We had a medical scare with our son, and as a teacher, I've been busy with final exams and catch-up work.

In April, I fluctuated between 1-2 pounds and did not lose an ounce. As you know, if you have ever plateaued before, this was completely frustrating, and I decided to somehow break through it even though I had been eating the same way I have been for months.

While I was on Pinterest, I found Bob Harper's "Skinny Rules", and intrigued, I found and read the entire thing. I also noticed he had another book called Jumpstart to Skinny. That interested me even more because it sounded like something that could knock me off this plateau, and I purchased it.

The book contains thirteen rules. In a nutshell, you need to watch your protein, carb and fat intake to make sure they are the correct proportions, eat the correct amount of calories, and exercise daily. As a result of following these rules, and his specific meal plans, he promises a loss of up to twenty pounds in three weeks. At first, I was a little turned off by the plan. He asks women to eat only 800 calories a day, and that goes against everything I believe in as I truly think eating that little will destroy your metabolism and put your body into starvation mode.

However, upon reading a bit further, I discovered that while meal's caloric content totaled about 800 calories, I could eat as many vegetables as I wanted per day. That seemed a little better to me. You can't argue with getting your calories from vegetables! As a result, I decided to try it.

This is my second week on the plan, and I actually think it is something I could modify and continue for longer than three weeks. The meals are huge, and I am never hungry! In fact, I think that might be the key to becoming skinny. When you eat seven cups of greens at lunch, not only do you fill up, but you get sick of eating. It takes a long time to eat that much salad! I also think most of the meals are delicious. There have been one or two that I have not cared for, and I can't put a cup of celery in my salad (I hate celery), but I substitute with another vegetable.

Best of all, following the meal plan closely on most days has given me a three pound loss in almost two weeks. You may not think this is much, but I haven't exercised as much as he asks because of tendinitis in my hip, and a bulging disc in my back. Additionally, I have had a couple of cheat meals.

This being said, I'm happy with a three pound loss as I think that is healthy and something I can continue on a regular basis. Allowing myself to have a cheat meal a couple of times has helped me to stay on track and eat vegetable-based meals most days. Now, I just need to find a book that contains more recipes that are like those in this book.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bacon and Cheddar Quiche with a Mock "Potato" Crust

Comfort food. It is something we all crave once in a while but we often are unable to indulge in for one reason or another. When I was growing up, my favorite comfort food was an easy, cheesy hamburger quiche with a hash brown crust. I requested that quiche on just about every birthday I can remember.

Now that I have fought and conquered gestational diabetes and want to ensure it stays away (gestational diabetics are at a much higher risk for becoming diabetic), I try to stay away from carbohydrates on a regular basis, and since my favorite quiche has a potato crust, I haven't had it in several years.

However, I recently saw a recipe for hashed brown jicama, so I thought, why couldn't I replace the potatoes with jicama? After all, the filling of a quiche is not high in carbs! Because I did not have any ground beef on hand (our grass fed beef is gone until we pick up our next batch from the butcher next week), I substituted bacon. If bacon is too high in fat for you, you can use turkey or Canadian bacon also. Whatever you choose to do, this will be a delicious, low carb dish that is perfect for dinner or breakfast.

1 Medium Jicama
2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 t. Salt
1/4 t. Black Pepper

Grate the jicama and squeeze between paper towels to remove excess moisture. Place into a pie plate and add the oil, salt and pepper.

Mix together, and pat into the pie plate.

Bake at 425 degrees for about fifteen minutes. You want it to be slightly brown around the edges like this...


5 Eggs
1/2 C. Greek Yogurt
3/4 C. Milk (if you are going very low carb, use whole milk)
1/8 t. Nutmeg
1/4 t. Black Pepper
1/3 C. Minced Onion
8 Slices Bacon cooked crisp
5 oz. low fat cheddar (I used Cabot extra light, sharp white cheddar)

In a fairly large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the yogurt, milk, spices (you can add salt, but I do not because with the bacon, I find it to be too salty.) and onion. Pour into the pie crust. Crumble the bacon over the top. The reason I don't mix it in is because it will sink to the bottom of the filling and end up in one spot when you pour the filling into the crust. Crumbling it over the top provides you with more control. Slice the cheddar extra thin and lay on top of the filling. Bake at 400 degrees for twenty-five minutes until golden brown and puffy. It should spring back from your touch and a knife will come out clean it is done. Let it sit for about fifteen minutes before you slice it.

Nutritional Information per each 1/8 Pie Serving:
155 calories
9 grams fat
13 grams protein
5 grams of carbs (4 net if you subtract fiber)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Black Bean Burgers with Goat Cheese and Chipotle Aioli

Bob Harper, one of the trainers on the Biggest Loser, lays out the rules of skinny, and one of these laws is to plan a meatless day once a week. Unfortunately for me, I love meat. In fact, my family buys cows by the quarter and pigs by the whole, and we cringe at the idea of vegetarianism, so I knew that if a meatless meal was going to succeed, it was going to need to be more than just good.

Burgers seemed a natural choice because I love veggie burgers (my favorite brand is Dr. Praeger's), but they are expensive. That is where my black bean burger came from, and man, it is delicious! The tangy goat cheese combined with the zingy black bean burger and the smoky, chipotle aioli makes for a meatless burger that puts any beef burger to shame. The best thing about it, however, is its versatility. Although I topped mine with goat cheese and chipotle aioli and served it on oopsie bread, I topped my daughter's with ketchup and colby-jack on whole wheat bread. Mix and match flavors to suit your tastes.

Black Bean Burgers with Goat Cheese and Chipotle Aioli

1-1/2 C. dry black beans (can substitute two cans)
1/2 medium onion
1T. olive oil
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 t. chili powder
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. chopped cilantro
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 C. panko bread crumbs
2 eggs

Rinse beans and soak overnight (alternately, add to a pot of water, bring to a boil and soak one hour). The next day, rinse the beans, place in a full pot of water and then simmer 1-2 hours until the beans are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain most of the remaining water out.

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are clear. Stir in the spices.

Place three cups of cooked beans in the food processor and pulse until mostly smooth with a few chunks left. Add the eggs, onions and breadcrumbs and stir to combine.

On wax paper, form six to eight patties and refrigerate for about forty-five minutes.

While you are waiting, peel two sweet potatoes, cut them into strips (don't worry if they are not uniform), and toss with 2 T. olive oil and 1 t. salt. Heat your oven to 425 degrees and place the potatoes on a pan. Cook until golden brown, soft and crispy.

Coat a skillet with olive oil and heat. When the pan is hot, place the patties in the pan and cook about five minutes, flipping once, until the outside is crispy, and they are heated through.

To make the chipotle aioli, mix 1/2 C. Greek yogurt with 1-2 T. finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Top with crumbled goat cheese, a drizzle of chipotle aioli and sliced red onion.

Serve alongside sweet potato fries.

Friday, April 5, 2013

On the Go? Here is a Low Carb Breakfast Sandwich!

I may be trying to lose weight, but I have discovered that a healthy, protein-filled breakfast is the best way to start the day. In the olden days, I would buy frozen breakfast sandwiches for a quick meal to eat at work, but they are carby and expensive. Plus, since I recently purchased a whole organic hog, I have a ton of ground pork that needs to be used, and that is how my breakfast sandwich came about.

Now, I am sure you are wondering how someone on a low-carb diet can possibly eat a breakfast sandwich when bread has carbs! I too thought those days were over until I found the Oopsie Roll recipe.

When I first read about these miracle rolls that were made out of cream cheese and eggs, I was impressed, but after I made them, I wasn't a huge fan. They seemed dry and crumbly. Never one to throw in the towel, however, I stuck them in a bag, and the next morning, they were amazing: perfectly soft and bready. Even my darling, picky husband agreed!

To make this recipe yourself, head over to the website "Your Lighter Side". Make sure that you check out the author's tips for success here. They helped me create perfect rolls!

After your rolls are done, you will need the next part of your sandwich: meat! Now, you can use whatever you want: turkey bacon, Canadian bacon etc... I am a personal sausage lover, so I came up with the recipe below.

1lb. Ground pork or ground turkey
1T rubbed sage
2 t.Crushed red pepper
1 T. Italian herbs
1/2 t. Black pepper
1/2 t. Kosher salt
2 T. DaVinci sugar free pancake syrup (optional)

Mix everything together (I use my hands). Then, refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to mix. If you do not like spices, I recommend eliminating the crushed red pepper because this sausage has kick!

I use a 2 oz. ball and flatten it into a patty for my sandwich. Then, I fry it up in a skillet with one egg.

Next, a slice of American cheese goes between the patty and the egg for melty goodness.

Top it off by putting everything between two oopsie rolls! Delicious!"

According to My Fitness Pal, this sandwich has the following nutritional information:

303 calories (if you use fat free cream cheese in the oopsie roll, extra lean ground pork and 2% American cheese)
6 carbs
18 grams of fat
31 grams of protein

Your sandwich may be more or less depending on whether your pork has a higher fat content or if you use ground turkey or regular American cheese instead of 2%.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nexercise with Me!

I am naturally competitive, and I hate losing, so when my sister introduced me to the Nexercise app back in December, I was thrilled. The app allows you to compete against friends as you exercise.

As you can see, I have several inactive friends, and then my sister who usually has me beat. Come on, Jenn, get on it! (Just kidding. She recently became a nurse practitioner, so her responsibilities increased.) In fact, I just passed her up this morning, so by nightfall, I'm sure she will be past me.

When you first get onto the app, you see your profile page.

This page tells you what your all time score is, what your score is in the last 30 days, and (my favorite), how many points (XP) you will lose or gain if you exercise or don't exercise today. If I see that I earned 500 points on this day one month ago (which I will lose if I don't exercise today), I am much more likely to drag my butt off the couch and go work out. Notice that I have 546 XP that I will lose tomorrow if I don't work out. You can bet that I am going to the gym! Are you starting to see how motivating this app could be?

As if that weren't enough, you can earn rewards for your points. After you workout, you see this handy screen. You claim your achievements by clicking on them (notice at the top that I have 11,352 points? That's important.)

After you earn so many points (just from exercising), you get to cash in! 

This is just the number of gift cards I could get on my screen shot. There are higher value cards for, and more. What could be better than earning gift cards for working out? Can you see why I love this app?

This app is available on iPod, iPad, iPhone and Android, so there are absolutely no excuses! Join me by clicking here and getting this amazing app. Then we can compete together!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Milestone One: Down Twenty Pounds

I promised a post last week with my current weight loss photos forgetting that I was going out of town to a reading conference, so here I am this week with my promised post.

The photos are not that dramatic yet, but I can see the changes in my body. Recently, I read somewhere that it takes three times as long for others to see the change as it does for you, so if you get discouraged because no one notices, keep going. You are making a difference in yourself and your health.

Since January 1st, 2013, I have lost exactly:

  • Twenty pounds (28 since I had Nathan)
  • Nine inches from my waist
  • Four inches from my hips
  • Four inches of the "baby belly

January 1st - 224.6 lbs
March 13 - 204.6 lbs.

January 1 - 224.6 lbs.
March 13 - 204.6 lbs (Not sure why I am making that face!)
I don't know if you can see the difference; I can. My belt is getting too big, and I had to do away with a pair of my pants that was falling off because I lost weight.

What I do know is that I have a long way to go. My goal is to get down to at least 150 which is smack in the middle of my healthy weight. However, more than that, my goal is to become healthy.

Right now, I am losing weight loosely following the South Beach Diet. The South Beach Diet consists of three phases.

  • Phase One - Lean proteins, limited dairy, healthy fats and vegetables. (All fruits and grains are avoided.
  • Phase Two-  Same as phase one with the addition of limited fruits and whole grains only. Basically, you gradually add fruits and whole grains back into your diet, and if you find you stop losing weight, you eat less of them per day.
  • Phase Three - Maintenance - You can eat anything in moderation. Most of the time, you follow the guidelines in phase two, but occasionally, you can have a treat and eat whatever you want.
I followed phase one for two weeks and lost a lot of water weight. By the end of January, I was down twelve pounds. In February, I switched over to phase two, and I lost 5.2 lbs. I will say that I did not follow the diet completely or strictly, or I probably would have lost much more. Most of the time, I did stay on track however, and I was happy with a little over a pound per week. 

Here are some things I have learned. 

Track everything you put in your mouth. I use My Fitness Pal which is a free website and/or app. It is easy to track because the food you are looking for is always there; someone who is on the site has entered it. Additionally, your friends can join with you and hold you accountable. I have my diary public to my friends, and it keeps me on track. Best of all, it is free. 

You need to eat healthy foods. I lost seventy pounds a few years ago and did a portion of it with the help of a major weight loss program. Although I know they have changed a bit, at the time, leaders told us to eat whatever we wanted. We could even use our day's allotment on a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies if we desired. Well, I lost for a while, and then it stalled! 

Even though you eat healthy foods, allow yourself a cheat meal. Follow your program (and stick to it) to a T for most days, and plan a cheat meal once a week. I love going to Meathead's with my husband for a patty melt and cajun fries, and I don't beat myself up over it because I know that I ate healthy the entire week, and I am eating healthy tomorrow.

Find creative ways of treating yourself. My favorite thing to do is add a tablespoon of cocoa powder and dried cherries with stevia or splenda to a cup of Greek yogurt. I top it off with a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips and voila! I have dessert! I have a sweet tooth, so this has really saved me from myself.

Measure yourself. I never used to do it, but it encourages me to see nine inches off of my waist when I've only lost five pounds that month. They make special measuring tapes that make this an easy job.

Whatever else you do, keep on. Don't get discouraged! Last week was not good; as I said, I went to a conference last week, and we at most of our meals at banquets where I had no choices. The best I could do was pull the bread out of my bun and take the bacon off of my sandwich. It's okay. I'm back on track this week. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. 

You will get there! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Weight Loss Pendulum


I'm Emily! I'm married to Benny.

And I am the mom to two beautiful children.

Madelynn - 5
Nathan -1

You may think it is strange to name a weight loss blog "The Smallest Loser." However, it represents how I feel about weight loss. Although I enjoy the show "The Biggest Loser", and I understand why they lose weight rapidly on it, I feel it is better to lose weight slowly. Additionally, when I am finished losing weight, I will not be "big", I will be "small".

As I was getting ready to start this blog, I began looking through my old photos of myself, and noticed they revealed a pendulum of weight gain and weight loss.

Summer 2003

When I started working on my undergraduate degree in 2002, I weighed 164 pounds, which is healthy for my 5'9" frame. However, I decided to lose twenty-four more anyway which brought me to my all-time low of 140 pounds. I was able to maintain this by running three times a week.

Disneyland 2004

Summer 2004 - 170 lbs.
However, as my academic life demanded more of my time, I quit working out, started eating fast food and gained thirty pounds.

Winter 2005 - 192 lbs

Marriage in my senior year of college and student teaching the following spring did not help reduce my responsibilities, and I packed on another twenty. 

Although I tried random diets, I could not get the weight off and discovered that yo-yo dieting does not work and only hurts!

Six months pregnant - 260 lbs.

A year after we got married, I became pregnant with our first child.

Because I was overweight, I struggled with gestational diabetes and gained 85 pounds. I learned that a healthy body is necessary for a healthy pregnancy!

Winter 2010 - 168 lbs.

Getting gestational diabetes was a wake-up call to me. After delivering my beautiful daughter, Madelynn, I lost a hundred pounds over the course of three years and was a healthy 168 (That's my husband on the right.). However, I freely admit, that I did not go about losing that weight in the healthiest fashion.

Three weeks pregnant - 170 lbs.
At this point, my husband and I decided we were ready for our second child, and in March of 2011, I became pregnant with our son, Nathan.

Just after giving birth in December 2011 - 232 lbs.

Unfortunately, as I said earlier, I did not lose my hundred pounds in a healthy way. I skipped from diet to diet, used diet pills and starved myself. When I became pregnant my body panicked and tried to hoard everything I put into it to help my growing baby. I gained 95 pounds with Nathan!

My sister's wedding in August 2012

As most parents know, life with a newborn is difficult, and I struggled to lose weight the first year. My weight fluctuated up and down, and the scale only moved down eight pounds (I didn't count the thirty I lost within six weeks of birth). 

I was ashamed of how I looked, so I resolved to really change my eating habits and exercise hard as of January 1st, 2013 (cliche, I know). This time, however, I'm doing it the healthy way. I'm eating a good amount of calories, and I'm eating healthy foods.

I'm here to share this journey with you for a variety of reasons.

  1. Having been through the weight loss journey already , I know how difficult it is to remain motivated especially when you have a lot to lose. 
  2. Other people have been intensely motivating to me through their weight loss efforts.
  3. I want to stay motivated, and I know putting my story out there for you to read will not allow me to quit.
  4. I hope to share the things that work for me as I progress towards my goal.
Here are my before pictures:

January 1, 2013
224.6 lbs.

Come back tomorrow to see my current weight loss photos (I am down twenty pounds) and learn how I lost the weight.