Just call me Betty Crocker

I’m not a cook. Seriously, I can’t even count the number of times my apartment has filled with smoke during one of my many failed attempts. If I make something that’s even remotely edible, it’s a major accomplishment.

I know, I know, I shame Ukrainians everywhere. I wish I took after my mom in the cooking department. Both she and my grandma were ridiculously talented in the kitchen — they rarely followed recipes and would never measure anything, just a pinch of this, a bit of that, yet everything they made was a little taste of heaven. Maybe cooking ability skips a generation?

As I said in an earlier post, not only do I absolutely suck at cooking, but I hate it, too. I’m not sure if it’s because I bite the big one, or if I just hate the actual art of cooking. Whatever the reason, it makes it difficult to follow the Eat Clean Diet, since so many of the meals require some degree of cooking ability and food prep.

Because of my lack of kitchen skills, you won’t find many recipes on this blog. But when I find something that I can actually make and tastes delicious, I’ll post it. If I can make it, anyone can.

I adapted the following recipe from a recent magazine (I believe it was Oxygen), and boy, was it good. Like, lick-the-plate good. You’re welcome.

Clean eating tortilla pizza

1 small whole-grain tortilla
1 clove o’ garlic
3 or 4 egg whites
Half a tomato
About 2 tsp basil
Fresh parmesan cheese
Grated reduced-fat mozza

1) Press garlic, then spread on tortilla. (Yes, this dish is really garlicky, so make sure not to breathe on anyone for a few hours afterwards.)
2) Scramble egg whites. (I know what you’re probably thinking: Egg whites? On pizza? Just trust me.)
3) Spread egg whites evenly over tortilla.
4) Slice tomato, then layer tomato slices on top.
5) Sprinkle basil and cheese on top — I use about 1/4 cup of parm, 1/2 cup of mozza, but you can modify as needed.
7) Bake in the oven for six or seven minutes.
8) Wolf that sucker down.

I once made this three days in a row — it was that good. Somehow the egg whites added a pizza-like texture without an “eggy” (I’m sure that’s the technical term) taste. Either way, I devoured these bad boys like there was no tomorrow.

The dreaded weekly weigh-in: part III

Starting weight – 229.6 lbs
Last week – 220.6 lbs
This week – 220.0 lbs

Total weight lost – 9.6 lbs

So close to breaking that 10-pound milestone! As per my last post, I had trouble staying focused this week. In addition to the chips-and-salsa binge, I didn’t make it to the gym as often as I would have liked. I hurt my ankle and wrist while skiing the other day (fresh powder, you are not my friend), so that’s curtailed my work-outs for the past few days.

My big realization this week involved my weekly cheat meals — somethin’s gonna have to change. Oh, I’m still going to have a cheat meal/treat, but it’s definitely not going to be pizza, breadsticks and the like. Even though I tried to order a healthy-ish ‘za (whole-wheat thin crust, topped with extra sauce, whole black olives and basil leaves), my body did not respond well to the fat and grease — I’ll just leave it at that.

On that note, happy Monday!

Temptation, thy name is Kraft Dinner

I had my first reality check this week. I was having junk food cravings on Wednesday, badly. I could have gone to the gym to get my mind off the cravings. I could have worked on my knitting (yes, I’m an 80-year-old in a 26-year-old’s body) to keep my hands busy.

So what did I do? I stuffed my face with tortilla chips (organic multigrain, not that it makes it any better) and salsa. Chips and salsa are my weakness. Forget cookies or cake — I would literally (OK, probably) kill for chips and salsa.

Those chips tasted damn good. As I ate, all I could think was, “This is so worth it.” But you know what? After I finished licking the crumbs from the bowl, I felt guilty. True, I didn’t eat three-quarters of the bag in one sitting, nor did I follow the chips-and-salsa pig-out with more junk food.

Still, though, I was disappointed in myself. It was like a horrific flashback to my old, unhealthy eating binges (more on that in a future post).

My friends will tell you that I’m usually a huge pessimist, which you’ve probably already ascertained from my writing. But instead of taking my usual glass-half-empty approach, I actually started thinking positively. This “cheat” made me all the more motivated to pick myself up and get back on track. I didn’t want to undo all of the healthy eating and exercise I’d done over the past few weeks. So maybe, just maybe, this little cheat was worth it, thanks to that little beacon of positivity that came from it.

The big test came last night. My boyfriend, who is sick as a dog right now, asked me to make him Kraft Dinner for supper. Like chips and salsa (and Junior Mints), Kraft Dinner used to be another favourite dish of mine, so having to cook it and not eat was, to say the least, torturous. In my head, I pictured myself standing over the stove, shoveling Kraft Dinner into my mouth while any thoughts of healthy eating flew right out the window.

I didn’t.

I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t tempted. Oh, I was. But all I had was one little spoonful. Just that one little taste was enough for me. Instead, I enjoyed a veggie stir-fry and brown rice for dinner.

I beat you, Kraft Dinner. And next time, I’ll beat those chips and salsa, too.

The dreaded weekly weigh-in: part deux

Starting weight – 229.6 lbs
Last week – 223.8 lbs
This week – 220.6 lbs

Total weight lost – 9 lbs

As someone who is overweight, I hate scales. I’d much rather gauge my weight loss by the way my clothes fit (or, more realistically, don’t fit). However, there is something satisfying about seeing that number drop every week.

This weekend was a good test for me. I was out and about all weekend, meaning I wasn’t home to prepare meals for myself and didn’t make it to the gym on Saturday or Sunday. Though I had a few slip-ups (that cake was calling my name, I swear), I stayed on track for the most part. I’m not going to beat myself up for eating stuff I probably shouldn’t have eaten. It’s all about moderation.

It’s exciting to see my weight slowly dropping and my pants feeling looser, but the best compliment so far came from my boyfriend the other day. While hugging me, he said, “Wow, you even feel smaller.” Now, if he would just put down the toilet seat…

Every fat girl has that photo

You know what I’m talking about. That photo: the one where you realize you’re officially obese.

For me, that photo was taken a few years ago at a friend’s wedding. I knew I had gained weight, of course, but for some reason was still in denial as to how much blubber I was carrying around, despite my doctor’s repeated lectures. When a friend tagged me in that photo on Facebook (ah, Facebook tagging — the bane of an insecure fat girl’s existence), I wanted to both cry and vomit up my Cheetos at the same time.

I had two chins. I was bursting out of my dress. I looked like a linebacker compared to my friends.

That was my fat-girl photo.

For a long time, I didn’t see a photo that had the same effect on me. Until my birthday in October.

Someone snapped a pic of me after I had downed a shot (hey, I am 26 going on 19, after all). In the photo, I had two chins yet again. The table at the restaurant dug into my stomach. Despite the fact that I had a great time with my friends that night, my eyes looked…sad. (OK, I’ll stop with the depressing stuff.)

My point is, those photos weren’t necessarily a bad thing. They got me out of denial and off the couch, and have caused me to work even harder to reach my goals.

Superficial? Maybe.

But I don’t want to lose weight solely for aesthetic reasons. I want to be able to make it up a flight of stairs without losing my breath. I want to make it through a Zumba class without feeling like I’m going to yak. I want to do everything in my power to lower my risk of heart disease and cancer, both of which run in my family.

When I see my sad, fat self staring back at me in those photos, it just makes me all the more motivated to kick some major ass in the gym and with my diet. That fat-girl photo from my birthday will be my last: mark my words.

I like to move it, move it

Some people hate exercising. Though you would never guess it by looking at my size-16 butt (that I’ve affectionately dubbed my ghetto boo-tay), I actually really like to exercise.

Once upon a time when I was almost 100 pounds lighter, I was always moving. Every week, I had ballet, jazz dance, breakdancing, hip-hop dancing, pilates and two taekwondo classes. Every. Single. Week. Oh, and swimming and baseball in the summer.

Maybe that was a bit excessive (OK, a lot excessive). But I loved it. I love to feel physically strong and fit. The only way I can achieve that feeling is though exercise.

Now, with my full-time job and bustling freelance writing career, I just don’t have time to go to that many fitness classes. Instead, I renewed my gym membership so I could have flexibility. When I first stepped into a gym about three years ago, I was terrified. I didn’t want to be the fat girl that people knew would quit the gym after a few months (to be fair, that turned out to be partially accurate). I didn’t know how to use the machines. I felt awkward and out of place, especially next to the girls with eight-packs.

But you know what? I stuck to it, nerves be damned. Five days a week, I’d be there, plugging away on the elliptical and resistance machines. Next thing I knew, I felt strong again (and had lost 40 pounds, to boot).

I want that feeling back. And after only two weeks  in the gym, it’s already creeping back. Of course, by creeping, I mean that “brace-myself-everytime-I-get-up-because-my-leg-muscles-are-killing-me-oh-God-why-did-I-do-this-to-myself” kind of feeling. But I don’t mind the pain — it reminds me that this journey won’t be easy.

I’m going to make a commitment to update this blog at least twice a week, hopefully more. I know there are a few people already reading it (thanks, guys!). If you’re embarking on a similar weight loss journey, or even if you’re just trying to get a little healthier, drop me a line. At the risk of sounding like a total cheeseball, we can do this together! (Cue the cheesy inspirational music.)

First weigh-in (gulp)

Starting weight – 229.6 lbs
Weight this week – 223.8 lbs

I’m stoked. All of that food prep, all of those hours at the gym — they were totally worth it. In my first week, I lost 5.8 lbs! I know a lot of that is probably just water weight, but don’t burst my bubble. It’s still encouraging to see the scale moving in the right direction.

On a side note: I’m allowing myself one cheat meal a week, just to keep my sanity and allow me to have a social life. (Have you noticed how much of our social lives revolve around food? “Let’s grab coffee/dinner/drinks.” Bah. Doesn’t make it easy on a girl tryin’ to change her unhealthy ways.) Anyway, this week, I went to a cute little Mexican restaurant with my buddy Jeff and chowed down on chips and salsa, shrimp fajitas and deep-fried ice cream. Yep. I pretty much swined right out. But hey, you gotta live a little, right?