In the interest of full disclosure, I am being provided with 42 Healthy Choice meals, a counseling session at BlogHer, and am being compensated. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
See my first post in this series here and my second post here.
We're going to pretend that I wrote this post before BlogHer. Why? Because BlogHer has quite probably undone the majority of the good work I've been doing for the last few weeks. I ran only once - the BlogHer 5K - although I did an absolute ton of walking, which is good. My water intake? Not so great. My sleep? Ha! I think "sleep when you're dead" was mentioned more than once. And the food and drink I ingested? Let's just say there was no Healthy Choice on a daily basis. I ate one (Sweet and Spicy Orange Zest Chicken) when I got home, and I started to feel a bit better.
So: enter the time machine. We're going to pretend this is last week when the information I present on progress, etc. is actually valid. And no, I'm not planning to run tomorrow, either. I apparently mildly sprained my ankle at BlogHer somehow, and it's still swollen. While it doesn't hurt, I'm guessing it would be a bad idea to try to run on it right now.
So, the big news? I can definitively tell you that the weight of two wet towels, a heart rate monitor, and toiletries is not nearly as much as I would like to believe they do. That's the bad news. The good news is that I know this because when I weighed myself on the scale, I was under the 155 barrier with all my accoutrement where I promised I'd find out what I "really" weighed. Whoo hoo! How awesome is that?
I'm not saying that this is all due to the Healthy Choice meals I've been eating, but I think it has something to do with it. One of the tips from Tara Gidus (the nutritionist with us!) is to eat smaller and more frequent meals. With the Healthy Choice entrees generally being between 200 and 300 calories, that means I'm eating another snack after a few hours rather than three straight meals (most days).
Add that to making sure I really am drinking my 100 plus ounces of water a day (I love my 40 ounce water bottle!) and getting more sleep - I've been focused on being in bed by 11:30 or earlier and sleeping well - I think this has made a huge difference. Here's hoping that progress continues!
I ate more varieties of the Healthy Choice meals again this week - including some of the all natural entrees - that I hadn't tried before. Again, some were better than others, but they were all pretty decent.
Creamy Basil Pesto: Again, I like a lot of flavor with my food. That includes lots of garlic and basil flavor in my pesto. The pesto in this was a little bland for my tastes. I can make better pesto in a few minutes with some frozen basil - but maybe next time I'd add a little more basil of my own and some garlic, and I'd love it. The broccoli and tomatoes in this dish were pretty good, though - and not as overcooked as I find the broccoli in the complete meals dishes. Then again, I also cooked this slightly less than the recommended time.
Sweet Sesame Chicken: This was another Cafe Steamer, and I've been a huge fan of the Asian ones to date. I liked having the little sesame seeds crunch in my food - a variety of colors and textures always helps make me feel full faster. The chicken was great, and as usual, I didn't have any nasty bits to it. The chicken in the dishes have been pretty impressive. I somehow missed the mushrooms in the dish, as I'm not a huge mushroom fan. The sauce tasted mostly of mushroom rather than anything else, so I ate as little of that as possible. My husband ate all the mushrooms and some sauce and rice, and he pronounced it good though.
Roasted Beef Merlot: I realized that I've mostly been eating chicken dishes, so I branched out with this beef dish. The carrots were great - I love cooked carrots with beef - and the sauce was pretty good. I was a little disappointed with the beef, however. There wasn't as much beef as I had hoped - far more potatoes than beef, and the dish with everything is still only 230 calories. Worse for me is that the beef was rather tough. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I was hoping that it wouldn't be too chewy. I'll try other beef dishes, but this is in the maybe to no category.
Lobster Cheese Ravioli: Mmmm. I'm not a huge lobster fan just by itself, but give me a good lobster bisque where it's more subtle, and I'm in heaven. The lobster ravioli had pluses and minuses. I liked how the pasta wasn't overcooked, and the zucchini and garlic in the sauce were a really great addition. The sauce for the ravioli - a vodka sauce - was the first really flavorful pasta sauce I've had with Healthy Choice. The ravioli themselves were a little disappointing though. While some had great ravioli flavor and pieces in them, others were completely lacking any lobster in the ravioli. I'm still undecided as to whether I'd get this one again or not.
Chicken Pesto Alfredo: Yep, another pasta dish, this time with chicken. This was definitely not one of my favorites. It had the same flavors of the pesto as the Creamy Basil Pasta, which meant there weren't quite enough for me. And since this was a flat and not filled pasta, it got too overcooked for my tastes. If it hadn't had the chicken, I probably would have cooked it less, but I didn't want undercooked chicken. I'm learning on the veggies and pulled off the plastic from there after the first cooking, so those turned out much better. This one had a blueberry crisp for dessert, so it wasn't as super sweet as some of the others I've had, and I really liked it. I'm definitely aiming for the berry desserts going forward.
Chicken Balsamico: This was a pretty good one, and I think I'll get this complete meal again. The chicken pieces were as tender and yummy as always, and I liked the balsamic sauce. It was a bit tangy and savory, which is something I enjoy. There was also a whole grain rice pilaf, which I hadn't seen before. While I've had better pilafs, this was pretty good. The apple cranberry crisp was pretty good, too. While it was sweeter than it would be were I to make it myself, the cranberries helped it from being overpoweringly sweet like some of the others have been. This is a definite buy again.
Pumpkin Squash Ravioli: I wasn't sure how this one was going to be. I'm not a huge squash fan, but everyone always raves about pumpkin squash ravioli, so I figured this would be a good place to try it. And you know what? I really liked it. The filled pasta didn't get overcooked (yay!), and the apples and asparagus that were included with the dish were a great complement to the pasta. The asparagus was (not surprisingly) a little more done than I'd hoped, but I love asparagus no matter what, I think. The butter sage sauce was nice and light - and I ate this all up. I'm definitely getting pumpkin squash ravioli again.
Whew! That's a lot of food when I look at it all in one place.
As I mentioned before, Tara Gidus provided some Healthy Eating Tips. I shared some of them last week, and I have more to share this week. Following them really is important, and I think they're helping me, too.
Shrink your plate, and your waist will follow. Eating from a smaller plate will help control portions, while you still think you had a plate full of food. I absolutely do this. I always use a salad plate to eat dinner, and I frequently use the wee ones' little bowls instead of our full sized ones. I also use smaller forks and spoons and prefer them. Less food fits on there, so you feel like you're eating more than you are - the mind is an easy thing to trick sometimes!
Save dough by eating at home. Restaurant meals can have high calories along with high prices. Cook at home to save time, money, and fuel or bring lunch to work for even more cost savings. Oh I can't even begin to say how much eating out sometimes scares me. I know BlogHer eating totally sabotaged everything I've accomplished. Have you ever seen some of the calories in meals sometimes? Three and four thousand aren't unheard of, and that's more than twice what I'd eat in a day. When I do eat out, I generally eat only half or less of it and take the rest home - and I also eat smaller meals at other times in the day, knowing it's going to be a heavy calorie day.
Color your plate. Fruits and veggies are colorful and add nutritional value to every meal without adding extra calories. This is something I need to do better. My mom was never good on veggies growing up, and I'm just not always in the habit - one nice thing about the Healthy Choice meals is that they always include veggies. Whenever I eat them, I remember how much I really love them. I need to get much better about prepping them when I bring them home and just having them out and ready to eat.
The kids are in sports, why not you? Join a tennis, rowing, or racquetball league. You will have fun, get fit, and socialize at the same time. I absolutely agree with this. And my church women's softball league is proof that you don't need to be good to do it. It's all about having fun - and there are plenty of leagues like that. There are people who play who've never played before, some who are terrible, and some who actually can play, but we all have fun no matter our ability. Plus, it's a great stress outlet and a nice way to spend time with adults!
Need an energy break? Move major muscle groups instead of reaching for a cup of joe. Do a set of lunges right near your desk and feel the oxygen pulse through your veins, supplying energy to your brain - a natural pick-me-up that is better than coffee! I'm not a huge coffee drinker - generally just when I'm absolutely exhausted in the morning, mostly because caffeine affects me for 15-18 hours after I've drunk it! But getting moving is so right. I'll try to get my heart rate up while still sitting in my chair, but blinking doesn't always work. I do find that doing a quick circuit around my house or something similar makes a huge difference.
Drink Up! Just a small amount of dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish, cause a headache, or make you feel hungry. Women need about nine cups of fluids a day from food, water, and other beverages. I am a firm believer in this and walk around with a 40 ounce water bottle all the time. The more I drink, the better I feel - and I'm one of the unusual people who loves drinking just plain filtered tap water. Fortunately, this one is generally an easy one for me!
Wow that was a long roundup. There will be more coming - more progress (I hope!), more tips and more thoughts on the meals. I'm enjoying my journey with Better for BlogHer, and I hope you're enjoying hearing about it, too.