I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to discuss the partial meal plan path that I have now embarked on. Often this is called “Transition”, I believe, but I think of that as being something you do when you are a little closer to your “goal”. But, I guess I am getting close and that is why I made the decision to start this now. Boy, am I glad I did because *this* is where the challenge is. My difficulties have absolutely nothing to do with wanting to eat “bad” foods, or too much of something and everything to do with my lack of time, planning skills, and dislike of vegetables.
But, before I get into all that, I’ll recap the last few days since that is what I do. Over the weekend I dug through my medicine cabinet and came across a brand new albuterol asthma inhaler – very expired. I have learned in the past that it is horrible to use old inhalers because you can shoot all kinds of funky junk into your lungs. But this inhaler was still in a sealed foil packet in a sealed box. Dr. Z suggested I “find” an inhaler and use it until my appointment with the allergy/asthma specialist (which, as it turns out, I was able to schedule with his #1 recommendation within 2 weeks – thought that was pretty impressive since the entire city is having allergy issues now and high pollen counts). Anyway, I took a calculated risk and decided that I would go ahead and use it – and, what a difference it has made already! I had a different inhaler that I had used during my recent cold/whatever but it sure didn’t seem to have much effect. The albuterol really helped me cough up junk quickly and I felt like I was getting much deeper breaths. As recommended by Dr. Z, I took 2 hits of it about 15 minutes before exercising and it was noticeable while I was running. So, I’m encouraged. I’ve run twice now after taking it and both times I got through the mile seemingly easier.
We had a nice weekend – full of activities as usual. My son returned home from his Catalina Island trip with his class late Friday night. Saturday brought an all-day theater conference for my oldest and a football game and basketball game for my son (two victories!) My hubby and I got a rare date night where we went to Outback for dinner so we could have steak. Spent most of Sunday at the gymnastics gym since we were hosting the Invitational for the other gyms in Arizona. Long day. Baby girl didn’t have a great meet but she did improve in her new skills – even took 2nd place against some very tough competition.
I’ve been on the “partial” meal plan for about 2 weeks now. This means I have 4 Optifast meal replacements and one “lean and green” dinner. The meal is supposed to consist of the following: 1 serving protein (220 calories and 28 g of protein), 1 serving Vegetable (25 calories), 1 serving Salad (lettuce, carrot, celery, etc. – no cheese, nuts, croutons, etc.) with a low cal dressing, and 1 serving fruit (optional – 60 calories)
Some of the meal planning guidelines I was given include 2 categories of proteins – very lean (4 oz. turkey or chicken breast, 4 oz. fish, 4 oz tuna in water, 4 oz. shellfish, 1 cup non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese), 8 egg whites, 1 c. egg substitue, 6 oz. Greek style yogurt, or 4 oz. fat-free cheese. For the lean meat/protein category or “second tier” choices are 4 oz. dark meat chicken or turkey, 4 oz. salmon, 4 oz. lean beef – flank steak, filet, roast beef, 4 oz. pork tenderloin, 2-3 whole eggs, etc.
The vegetable serving should contain 25 calories and 5g carbs per serving – one serving equals 1/2 cooked veggies (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, etc.) or 1 cup raw or salad greens. The fruits should contain 60 calories and 15 g or carbs and it was suggested that we choose fruits grown in North America and limit fruits grown near the equator like melons, mango, papaya, pineapple, and banana. Recommended fruits are 1 c. fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), 1 small apple, orange, or nectarine, 1 medium fresh peach, 1/2 grapefruit, 20 grapes, 1/2 banana, etc.
There was also a list of pre-prepared frozen meals that we could use – like the Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers’ Smart Ones line. I typically don’t like these very much but I bought one as a back-up and just to try it tonight. It was fast, easy, and OK but I think I’ll keep those to a very minimum.
So, this all sounds lovely. Until one has to make this meal in 5 minutes or less while driving a 25 mile loop around Phoenix and stopping in the driveway to unload/load kids for the next stop. I had such good intentions to shop and have all of my prep-work done. And I did a lot of that – but it is still difficult to even heat food up sometimes. Furthermore, I am still preparing almost a completely different meal for the rest of the family.
Last week I did pretty well but I was very concerned about the vegetable issue – specifically my hatred of them. Several years ago I bought the Deceptively Delicious book by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica. Perhaps you heard of it? She steams and purees a bunch of veggies and then sneaks them into her kids’ food. I think I got as far as one pan of pureed spinach brownies that wasn’t very “deceptive” and my kids were onto me. And so the book has never been removed from the cabinet again – until now. I decided that since I am acting like a 4 year old when it comes to veggies, maybe I could learn how to “sneak” them into my own food. Simultaneously, I decided it was time to branch out a little from the the “partial” meal paperwork as long as I was still following the basic intent of it. I found a receipe for chili that seemed very lo-cal and healthy. I made it with ground chicken breast instead of hamburger. And I steamed a bunch of carrots, pureed them then dumped at least a cup or two into the chili. I also bagged up a bunch of other carrot puree (aka baby food) and put it in the freezer to use later. The chili worked out great – 3 out of 5 members of the family actually ate it. I had leftovers for several days, and I think the veggie content was decent. Anyway, I’m going to work on puree-ing several other vegetables and finding ways to add them to our meals. It is hard when you are just having a protein next to a steamed veggie, but meals out of a crock-pot that combine ingredients make tossing something like that in much easier.
The optional fruit suggestion of the partial meal plan has been a staple just about every night. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed eating strawberries – real strawberries. And raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I measure them out pretty carefully because I could probably eat an entire box of them. I’ve always liked fruit but might not have selected it as my first choice given an option between strawberries and a chocolate chip cookie. Now I’m seeing that I could eat that in lieu of dessert and not feel deprived. I’ve been using Stevia as a sweetener and really like it. The berries are in season now so they don’t need much. Because the protein and veggies fills me up at dinner time, I’ve been saving the fruit for my evening snack. I still need to get my final Optifast product in so I have been microwaving the chocolate bar for 20 seconds then dumping my berries on top. OMG. So good. As a matter of full disclosure, I sometime add a shot of whipped cream to the top. I don’t ever use any sort of milk or cream or anything at all (I don’t drink coffee) and a little shot is adding a few calories – but I am also running a mile + every day. The other thing I am doing several times a week “off plan” is adding about 1/4 of a frozen banana to my morning shake. This was something I have done for years (but stopped when I started Optifast) and it makes the shakes so creamy. I do this only on days when I am going to the gym. Again, a few extra calories, but not stupid, and I just started this after switching to partial. If I have extra berries and feel like a shake instead, I’ll throw some in a strawberry or vanilla shake if I haven’t already eaten my recommended “cup” for the day. My weight loss, even on the partial plan, has continued to fall at about 2-3 pounds per week so until that stops, I’m going to add in a few things here and there.