Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spinach Soup with Egg Strips

Today is that kind of a day for a comforting soup. We made this Spinach Soup with Egg Strips but added mushrooms and topped it off with French's fried onions. It takes very little time to prep and is easy to make.

To make the original recipe, all you need are these ingredients:
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach thickly shredded
Then follow the link to head to MS's site for for directions and nutrition information:
Spinach Soup with Egg Strips Recipe
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Friday, March 23, 2012

San Francisco Bound

My stomach is in knots and oddly enough, I am homesick for Seattle even though I have never lived there.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tax Time

I'm sitting here after breakfast, having coffee, and finishing up my tax returns...or should I say tax filing.  I've been putting it off because I know have to pay again this year but that's okay.  The snow that started falling last night and the sunshine this morning is making the process bearable.  Maybe I'll get a chance to run outside today.
 
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

26 Pounds

Would you believe the girl in the pink (and red) shirt was me just over ten years ago? I had just moved to Redondo Beach, CA from Washington state in the year 2000 and spent much of my time at the bars, drinking. I had gained nearly 33% of my normal body weight in fat and was almost unrecognizable to my mom (and even to my friends who've never seen me overweight).
How about this one taken several months later? Does it look more like me? I was still carrying extra weight, perhaps even more. I kept buying larger and larger pant sizes until I nearly tripled the size I would normally wear and that was the last straw.

I didn't do anything drastic, no crazy diet or exercise. Because I was sedentary to begin with, I simply started walking 30 minutes daily on the treadmill and every other day, incorporated circuit training after a 10 minute warmup on the treadmill.  Slowly I started to cut my food intake by a little bit and made better food choices (more vegetables and less rich food with sauces). As my physical health improved, so did my taste for healthier foods.
It took me over the course of two to three years to lose all of the extra pounds. Since then, I've successfully kept 26 pounds of that off.  I have a few more pounds to shed to reach my goals of being leaner and stronger but that too, will take consistency and perseverance. :)

Side note:

The irony of the largest weight gain of my life was that I was already thin to begin with but had started to gain weight from eating butter and richer foods (not normally part of my diet which was introduced to me by the boyfriend I was dating at the time).  Confronted with needing to lose a few pounds, I didn't know a thing about dieting and exercise because it was something I never had to do before.  Instead of cutting out the foods I didn't normally eat, I took up a strict diet and crazy exercise program for a solid month. When I didn't see the results I had expected on the scale (it budged one measly pound), I went off the deep end--in the other direction eating anything and everything I felt I had deprived myself of -- Whoppers, french fries, Twinkies, chocolate, donuts, etc. until I ballooned by 20 pounds. At some point I stopped and realized what I had done to my body and I tried every diet there was to lose weight, with no success.  Every failure led to more frustration and weight gain--up another 20 pounds.  Then after moving to Redondo, it didn't help that I started drinking and I drank in excess (mostly mixed drinks which no doubt had lots of sugar).  Finally I had reached a weight gain of 43 extra pounds and realized I needed to change my habits, a sedentary life and cleaning my plate of rich foods.

Ironically when I finally started to lose weight, I didn't go on a crazy diet (my diet didn't change drastically) and I didn't exercise like crazy.  I ate the same things, just a little less and I started walking on the treadmill every day for 30 minutes.  My pace wasn't very fast; it was at a speed I was comfortable with given my fitness level.  Every other day, I would warm up on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then do circuit training (three rounds of upper and lower body strength training with no rests in between).  As my physical health increased, my taste for rich foods changed and I preferred healthier foods. The weight started to drop off after about 3 months.  I don't really know exactly when or how much because I stopped weighing myself.  Once day I noticed I tried on older pants I had hung on to and was stunned that they were loose on me!

Things continued to improve from there.  I learned a lot from my experience.  I learned that consistency is the key.  If you're eating a little less than you were and exercising a little more than you were doing, it will translate to results but it takes time.  By the same token, the results will likely become more permanent because eating and exercising will be part of your lifestyle and new habits.  Just like it takes a while to gain weight, it could take a while to lose and keep it off.  Sure there are diets and methods that will yield faster results but ask yourself, is it something you can stick with for the rest of your life?  Because once you go off the diet and resume your previous way of eating, the pounds will creep back on.

I use the word "weight" but I really mean body fat percentage -- weight is merely a measure of the force of gravity on your body mass.  If you're overweight, the scale can be a good indicator of weight loss but once you're at your ideal weight, then looking at body fat percentage is more accurate.  I've been leaner at a heavier weight, and I've been "fatter (carrying more fat)" at a lighter weight so the numbers on the scale doesn't really tell me much about body composition, only my weight.  If I were to give any advice to anyone who is in the position I was in, I'd say, just be sure you do physical activity every day (I know it's hard to do with our crazy daily lives and conveniences everywhere) and eat foods that are good for your body, for me - they are mostly vegetables, fruits, seafood, seeds, nuts, seeds, fats and oils (from avocados and plants) in moderation, limited dairy, wheat and rarely any meat.  Need motivation? Two movies I recommend and can be streamed from NetFlix, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" and "Food, Inc.".

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Opportunity Cost

 
I have not given an arm or leg for fuel at this gas station but anyone who stops should be prepared to do so.  I'm fortunate I only need to fill up the 14.5 gallon tank of my car once a month...if that, now that I drive 2 miles less per day as part of my commute to and from work.  Sure the savings in gas may be marginal, perhaps two gallons in a month, but the cash in my pocket would be better spent on nearly four cups of coffee I can enjoy during my stroll through campus.

I will admit at times when I'm faced with the sidewalk ahead of me, I've wished I was already at work or already at home.  But if I were to get to work or home 15 or 20 minutes faster, I'd probably seat myself at a desk or on the couch anyway.  By walking part of the route between the office and where I park, I have tracked 30.75 miles on foot in February!!  This is a distance I would have never traveled if I had only stepped from the building where I work to the parking structure across from it.

Most of the time, I am grateful for the moments I have to indulge in a little physical activity and breathe fresh air.  I know it's part of the reason I am seeing a 9% decrease in my winter body weight.
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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Fun Meets Function

Ever since a friend gave me fingerless gloves for Christmas, I have received at least one for Christmas, like this pair, and I am getting my use out of them. I wear them all of the time. Well, almost. Outdoor, indoor, and running so I can still type, write, or use my phone. The bright colors make me smile especially when I look at the sport watch I wear on my wrist while I am running. My gloves hold my hands and cheer me on.


Friday, March 02, 2012

SQL


I learned to write some very basic SQL today using the SELECT statement to choose columns and rows for display, the COUNT function to aggregate data, and the GROUP BY statement to group things.  For more practice, I could apply this in my personal life with a grocery list to my husband.  How about this?
SELECT Item, Quantity, Aisle FROM Grocery_List WHERE Store = ‘Costco’ ORDER BY Item. 
 I would get a list like this:


Fortunately, John is not a database I have to query so I can just ask him in plain English (though sometimes that's not always effective either ;-P).