Baked Oatmeal with Fruit


Honestly, maintaining weight loss is a not very exciting, lifelong struggle. I have now been maintaining for several years, although just in the last few months, I put about 20 pounds back on. I am still exercising regularly, but I’ve been straying a bit with my snacking.I’m sure a trip to Italy didn’t help either. But man, the food was good! I also suspect now that it might be partly because of starting to use Flonase, which is a steroid. I started having irregular heart beats again (the reason I started taking better care of myself in the first place) which stopped as soon as I stopped using Flonase. As soon as I stopped using it, it seemed easier to start eating healthy again so I suspect the steroid was increasing my appetite and/or decreasing my ability to resist sugary foods.

In any case, I’m back to tracking what I eat and the weight is coming back off pretty quickly. I’m guessing this is the story of my life going forward, although I usually don’t let so much weight come back before doing a reset, and going back to tracking my food intake for a time.

I think I’ve talked about this before, but one of the things that really helps with my weight loss and maintenance is having a pretty standard breakfast and lunch. My breakfast is just about always oatmeal in some form, and my lunch is almost always a salad in some form.

This baked oatmeal is my favorite way to have oatmeal. You make it once and for 6 (or 3 if you are sharing) days you have a quick and easy breakfast. I adapted it from this Baked Oatmeal Recipe by Heidi Swanson, to remove the added sugar and make it easier to mix together.

Baked Oatmeal with Fruit (serves 6, 319 calories when made with apples & blueberries)

  • about 2 cups of fruit, chopped apples, blueberries, peaches, mixed berries, or any combination
  • 2 bananas (riper bananas will be easier to mash, and make for sweeter oatmeal)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups milk (can use your choice of milk substitutes)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Thick Rolled Oats, but regular would work)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon (I really love cinnamon, use less if not as much a fan)
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (FYI, I make this in my toaster oven and it works great). Spray the bottom of an 8″ square glass baking dish with cooking spray (or use butter to grease dish).
  2. Place a layer of fruit at the bottom of the baking dish, saving about 1/2 cup for decorating the top. You can use more or less than 2 cups, it is pretty flexible.
  3. Thoroughly mash bananas at the bottom of a large mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk in egg, milk, and vanilla extract until well blended.
  5. Pour oats directly on top of wet mixture, without mixing in. Add almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, then stir together thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
  6. Pour mixture in an even layer on top of fruit in baking dish. Tap the dish against the counter lightly a few times to get mixture to settle down into fruit. Use rubber spatula to smooth the top.
  7. Use leftover fruit to decorate the top of the oatmeal mixture. Press down slightly so it is slightly sunk into the mixture with the top still showing.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, turning once about halfway through cooking.
  9. Remove from oven, and let cool. Can be eaten immediately, but I let it cool completely, the slice into 6 even pieces and put it in the fridge.

I reheat by removing a slice of oatmeal, placing in a bowl and chopping up just a bit and then pouring milk over the top. I then heat in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes. My husband pours milk over and then stirs it all together before heating. You could probably also leave it whole but the inside might take awhile to heat up enough. I’m guessing you could also eat it cold.

I’ve made this recipe with the following variations of fruit:

  • 2 apples and about a cup of blueberries (both fresh and frozen work)
  • mixed berries
  • 2 peaches and a cup of blueberries

I am currently working on a pumpkin/apple variation. I’ll post it when it is perfected.



No Big Surprise Here…Maintaining Weight Loss Is Hard Work


 Just over 2 years ago I reached my goal on my health and fitness journey. I had lost 100 pounds! About a year ago, I posted that maintaining that weight loss was fairly easy, I just needed to keep doing what I had been doing to lose the weight. I didn’t have to log my food anymore! I was one of the 5% that could keep the weight off! That was true at the time. Now, however…

Maybe you get busy, and those little bad habits start creeping in. Like snacking between meals when you aren’t really hungry, just bored. Who knew that all those wonderful whole foods (fruits, nuts, veggies with hummus) that are good for you still have calories? (Oh right, I did know that.) Like eating that wonderful whole wheat sourdough bread, even though you know it is one of your trigger foods. (And putting butter on it, since all the news reports now say it is healthy!)

Or maybe you are forced to slow down on the exercise. Perhaps (you know, just an example) your rotator cuff starts hurting every time you do any exercise that uses your shoulder very much–Zumba, kickboxing, circuit training, push-ups; pretty much every exercise you were doing except walking/jogging.

Maybe you go on a couple of vacations and end up eating lots of foods you don’t normally eat…and it all tastes so good, and hits all your feel good triggers, that you perhaps eat more than you should. Perhaps there are a bunch of fun family functions while you are vacationing, with lots of really yummy things to eat that are just too hard to resist.

So yeah, all that happened to me. And this could be where I explain that I put all the weight back on (plus 10 pounds), and I can’t believe it happened so fast.

Thankfully, I was still weighing myself regularly. When my shoulder first started hurting and I backed off from exercise, I gained about 6 pounds. I caught it and started logging again, and dropped most of those pounds.  Then I got very busy, and stressed out with end-of-school-year stuff, and I stopped logging my food, and I found myself–after a trip to see family on the East Coast, and a vacation in Disneyland shortly after that–up 10 pounds. I can see clearly how weight regain happens to the majority of people who manage to lose the weight. Those 10 pounds went on in the span of about 3 months, with a big weight gain during each vacation. To me, since I wasn’t really paying attention, it felt much faster than that.

So, I’m back to logging my food, but also trying to figure out how to continue maintaining without having to yo-yo up and down for the rest of my life. My suspicion is that I should keep logging my food most of the time for the rest of my life. That’s what I thought while I was losing, but then I thought that I didn’t need to when I maintained for so long without it. However, if I look back now (and I think I mentioned this before) my weight was very slowly creeping up during that time, at a rate of maybe a pound or 2 a year. Maybe eventually I only need to log every other week, or one week a month, but if I don’t occasionally track my intake, it seems to creep up without my noticing. I justify that it is just another piece of fruit. But that piece of fruit has almost 100 calories, and if those are calories my body doesn’t need, I’m still going to gain. I thought that I could just listen to my body’s signals so that I didn’t overeat. But there’s some research out there that once a person has been obese and loses the weight, the body’s signals get messed up and are constantly trying to return to homeostasis–or a return to obesity. As the research suggests, it is possible that the hormones that control hunger and satiety (ghrelin and leptin) are out of whack with me.

I’ve been logging for a couple of weeks now, and thankfully the weight is coming back off pretty quickly. I’m seeing a physical therapist for my shoulder, and still can’t go to the gym. However, I’m jogging with my big pooch a few times a week, and trying to get my (at least) 10,000 steps every day. The thought of logging forever isn’t filling me with dread (most of the time), instead I’m just letting my control-freak nature fly and embracing it.

I think I’ve said it before, health and fitness is a life-long journey. I’m just happy I’m not starting the journey over again with the very first step.

Really, Truly, Love Your Body

This is one of those posts that I feel like the universe was telling me to write.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fat acceptance, and the prejudice against fat people. It is something I really hate in our society, that it still seems just fine to make fun of people for being fat, in a way that isn’t acceptable against people for race, religion, or sexual orientation. I think the reason that prejudice against people who are fat is still considered “okay” by most people is that society seems to blame fat people for being how they are. They must be lazy, or lack self-control, or some other thing that is totally, absolutely, their fault. However, as a formerly fat person, would I seem like a hypocrite for speaking out against this prejudice? Obviously, I must think it isn’t okay to be fat, right? After all, I worked so hard to change that part of my life.

Here’s the thing…about a month before I started on this journey, I had totally and completely accepted the fact that I was fat. Not that I was absolutely happy about it, but I figured that I would always be fat, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I gave up trying to change that fact, and just decided to be as happy as I could be in my fat body.

Then one day I started having heart palpitations. I’ve told this story before, but that was the experience that changed my life. While the doctors all said it was normal, I figured that a stronger, healthier heart probably wouldn’t have issues like that. I realized that while I might never lose weight, I had to love my body and my life enough to make my heart stronger. I started exercising, not because I hated my body, but because I loved my body and wanted to make it better. The scale didn’t influence whether I kept working out, the fact that little by little my body felt stronger is what kept me going. After a while, I realized that if I really loved my body, I should start thinking about the fuel (food) I was feeding it, and I started eating healthier. I researched healthy eating, and worked hard to separate fact from fad. Every time I took a bite of food, I thought about what good that food was doing for my body. Very occasionally, I would eat something because it was good for my soul (hello dark chocolate mousse!), and I would never eat something that tasted gross just because it was healthy (I love my taste buds too), but most of the time I thought of food as the fuel my body needs to run, and eating healthy food as a way to help it run better.

I couple of days ago, I was chatting with a friend about healthy eating, and she mentioned that she knows what she needs to do to eat healthy, she just can’t do it. And yet, she feeds her daughter healthy food. Today while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I heard the clerk talking to a co-worker about how she feels sick all the time, and she knows it’s the crap she is eating. She said someone asked her about how she could feed that stuff to her kids, and she stated that she would never let her kids eat like that, they eat healthy food. I was the same way, my kids have always eaten healthy, even when I was eating crap. I taught them to listen to their bodies to decide if they were still hungry, even when I was not doing the same. Why do we do this? I think it is because we love our kids enough to teach them to love their bodies. We need to love ourselves and our bodies the same way.

These experiences were all leading me to come to this realization, that it is all about really, truly loving your body. Then this afternoon I saw this amazing video from Caroline Rothstein,  Fat is Not a Feeling, where she talks about this exact thing. She says it much more powerfully than I could ever hope to. I have a serious girl crush going on.

Is it easy to overcome years of compulsive eating, emotional eating, self-hate, self-doubt, all the other destructive behaviors and thoughts that got us where we are today? Hell no, I still struggle with it almost every day.

Every time I start to “feel fat” or get afraid that I will gain the weight back, that is when I lose sight of why I am doing this and put my health in jeopardy. If I just continue to love my body, and give it the food and exercise it needs to be healthy, it will continue to be healthy. It really is that simple…and that challenging. Love yourself enough to overcome the challenges and love your body enough to treat it the way it deserves to be treated.

Gingerbread Apple Muffins


Wintertime always makes me want warm spices and apples. I tried out a Ginger Apple Crisp recipe from Whole Foods when my hubby hosted a work dinner in October, and then made it for his birthday at the beginning of November, and then again for Thanksgiving. It was that good. I need to bring something breakfasty to a meeting at my kids’ school tomorrow morning, and I got it in my head to use the same flavors as that wonderful apple crisp, except in muffin form. Surely, there must be a healthier, lower-sugar, whole grain ginger apple muffin out there, right? Hm, not so much. Time for a bit of improvising…with baking…that’s a little intimidating.

I started with Cook’s Illustrated Gingerbread Muffins. However, they had white flour, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, and no apples. So I had a bit of work to do. I swapped white whole wheat flour for the processed white flour, used half the sweetener and changed it to molasses, swapped out half the butter for some applesauce, and added chopped apples. I also made them mini-muffins, as I like the smaller serving size–and quicker cooking time. They turned out delicious! My husband said they are the best apple muffins he’s ever eaten. They may be the only apple muffins my husband has ever eaten…but I’ll take the compliment anyway! They are soft, sweet, spicy, and the apple pieces stayed just a little bit crisp so they added some lovely texture.

Gingerbread Apple Muffins
based on recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs
3/4 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 finely chopped apple (I used a medium Honeycrisp)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice in medium bowl until combined. Whisk together eggs, molasses, and buttermilk in large bowl until combined. Add melted butter and whisk vigorously until well mixed. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined (do not overmix). Add apples and stir to distribute.

3. Use cookie scoop or spoon to drop batter into greased muffin tin. Bake until they spring back to the touch and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, about 10 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack until cool enough to handle and so you don’t burn your tongue when you can’t wait anymore to sample their deliciousness–those little apple pieces stay really hot! Don’t worry, I think my tongue will recover.

Everything is Awesome

My son used to have a very negative attitude when he approached any new situation. He would assume that it would be awful, and as a result, most of the time it was. I told him every time that his attitude is what made the difference. If he assumed things would be awful, they probably would be. However, if he went into something new thinking that it would be awesome (or at least sort of fun), then it was more likely to turn out that way. Turns out repetition–or at least growing up a bit–works, as he now can approach things with a more positive attitude, and more often enjoys each new experience.

In the past, if I thought about losing weight, I would think about everything I would have to live without. I’d never get sweets again, never have donuts, or fried food. I’d have to give up ice cream, and pasta. I’d have to get up early and go to the gym, and get all sweaty and disgusting.

However, none of that is true (well, I do get kind of sweaty and disgusting at the gym, I guess). I can have sweets, and if I wanted to I could eat donuts and fried food. I had ice cream (with homemade apple crisp) on Saturday night to celebrate my husband’s birthday. My vegetarian lasagna is in our regular rotation for Meatless Monday. The secret is making sure that if I am going to eat something beyond what I know is really healthy for me (fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, plant-based carbs), then it has to be awesome. I don’t have sweets every day, I save it as a special treat and only eat dessert if it is awesome, like an amazing chocolate dessert at a fancy restaurant. We don’t go out to eat all the time anymore, we save it up and go out for an awesome meal every couple weeks or so.

Here’s the thing–by getting to the point where sugar and processed carbs are an occasional thing for me, my taste buds and digestive systems have changed. I no longer want that donut (too sweet) or the fried foods (I know I would suffer later). It is easier to eat healthy because that is the food that tastes best and makes me feel awesome every day.

That’s not to say that I no longer have a sweet tooth, because I do, it’s just not as sweet as it used to be. If I am tempted by something I know wouldn’t be healthy I first judge whether it is awesome. If not, for example if it is just a store bought cookie at a pot luck, instead of telling myself that I can’t have it, I remind myself that I only eat that stuff if it is awesome, and I can always get myself an awesome dessert the next time we eat out.

As far as exercise, instead of waking up thinking “I have to go to the gym today” I remind myself how awesome I feel all day if I get some movement in the morning. If I’m going for a walk, I download a podcast (This American Life and Serial are my current favorites) so I get to listen to a story while I walk. I don’t let myself listen to those podcasts anywhere else, so I look forward to my walk.

In order to maintain my weight loss, I need to continue with my healthier lifestyle every day for the rest of my life. By changing my attitude, that prospect no longer seems like a burden, most of the time it feels awesome.

Why I Have Sucked at Blogging

I just had a realization about why I end up taking these huge breaks from blogging, and it takes me forever to get back to it. It just felt too big, like I didn’t have time to sit down and write a profound, inspiring post, so I might as well just skip it. It’s the same reason it took me forever to start getting healthy. It felt too big to do it right, I figured I’d have to change everything about what I ate and start exercising (when I had hardly been moving off the couch), and that was too overwhelming to imagine. The answer to getting healthy was taking small steps each day, letting them build upon each other, and eventually I found I had changed everything about what I ate, and I was exercising nearly every day. So, I am going to try to start posting more often (I know, I know, I’ve said that before) and not worry about being profound or particularly original.

This week I received paperwork to become part of the National Weight Control Registry. The NWCR is a research study of people who have lost at least 30 pounds, and kept it off for at least a year. They are trying to come up with answers about how people successfully lose weight and keep it off. I had read a lot about the study while I was losing weight, so it feels like another big success to become a part of the study.

I posted (oh so long ago) that I really believe the secret to being healthier is to stop eating processed foods. Whether you are overweight or not, processed foods are not healthy for your body. I’m not the only one who now believes that, and I’ll post articles as they come up to support me on this. For now, with Halloween coming up, here’s a great John Oliver piece about what I believe is the #1 problem in the Standard American Diet (SAD), added sugar. Along with all the other health and weight benefits of reducing (or eliminating) added sugar, I have a friend right now fighting cancer, and she has found some research showing that sugar may feed cancer cells. Sugar is now added to so many foods we eat, and our taste buds have become dulled as a result. When you eliminate the added sugar, real foods start tasting so much more complex and delicious. It can be hard to get to that point, and there are many (many) books and websites out there encouraging a cold turkey method to eliminating sugar (i.e., I Quit Sugar and the 21 Day Sugar Detox). While this may work for some, I think I would have found the idea of going cold turkey to be too overwhelming. I believe the answer to reducing the amount of added sugar (and all processed food) in your diet is in taking small steps that lead you in the right direction. Start by replacing one of your sugary or processed-carb loaded snacks with a piece of fruit. Have a bowl of plain oatmeal with cinnamon, banana and chopped almonds for breakfast (my favorite!) instead of cold cereal (since they all have added sugar, or they would taste like cardboard). Try to make a small change each day, or even each week if you want to take it slower, and let them build upon themselves until you have achieved success.

Happy Anniversary To Me!


One year ago today I reached my initial goal of losing 100 pounds. When I first started losing weight, I read so many discouraging statistics about maintaining weight loss that I was actually quite worried. However, as I went along my journey, I came to the realization that the changes I was making were permanent, so as long as I kept up my healthier lifestyle, there was no reason to believe that the weight would come back on. Thankfully, that has proven to be the case. I actually never came to a decision to stop losing weight. At some point I just stopped losing weight while eating healthy food and exercising, and I figured I must have reached the best weight for me. I have hovered between 100 and 105 pounds lost from my original weight for the last year. I don’t count calories, or keep a food log anymore. I eat real food, I don’t eat processed food and I limit treats, and try to pay attention to portion sizes (except for the veggies, of course). I exercise an average of 6 days per week, and I have developed a love of fitness.

My entire life I thought I was just someone who was destined to be fat. I felt like I had no control over my weight, I felt powerless against lethargy, and tempting food. I can’t even express how amazing it is to be free of that, how healthy, strong, and in control I now feel. I am always so happy when I hear that I have inspired others to live healthier lives, to eat real food, to get out and exercise. My greatest hope is to continue to inspire, that someone reading my blog realizes that it is possible, and takes the first steps towards living a healthier life.