Category Archives: Eating Out

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.


Do What Is Sustainable For You

There is always a lot of discussion online and IRL about how many calories are the right amount to eat per day, how much exercise, should I cut this or that out of my diet. My advice is to only do what you can sustain for the long term. Depending on how much weight you have to lose, you could be at it for a long time. Even when you are down to your goal weight, things shouldn’t change that dramatically in order to maintain your new weight. If you go back to all your old habits, you will gain all of the weight back.

If you love pasta, don’t cut out all pasta. Just reduce how much pasta you eat, make sure to keep an eye on portion sizes. If you hate jogging, don’t jog. Find other exercises you enjoy. If you crave sweets, have a small treat each night, or every few nights, like a piece of dark chocolate. Find ways to make your favorite foods healthier, for instance finding light versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to go out to dinner, do it…just do it infrequently (think of all the money you’ll save!) and try to make good choices.

Reduce the number of calories you eat per day down to something you can sustain, and never under 1200 calories per day. I am 5’2″, and I exercise pretty regularly. When I first started, I was eating between 1400-1600 calories per day, and now I am between 1300-1500 calories per day. I eat more on days I’m hungry, and less if I’m not as hungry. I am working hard on listening to my body and giving it what it needs.

I started out small with exercise, only doing Zumba on the Xbox 3 days a week for about 30 minutes, on an easy setting. I have added a lot more exercise because I enjoy it.

When people approach me about my weight loss, they always mention how much hard work it must take. It absolutely does take hard work. However, I feel like all of my hard work has already been done, months ago. The hard work was changing my habits, eating less, exercising more, slowly changing my life to this healthier way of living. That’s done now, and this is just my life. Yes, I’m hoping after I get to my goal I won’t have to log all my food anymore, but maybe I will. As with all the other changes I have made, it is something I can sustain.

Housework? No, It’s Exercise!

Okay, not really, but I once read an article about not sitting on  your butt so much, and that even getting up and doing housework was burning some calories. So now I feel like I’m doing something good for my health when I do the dishes and laundry. I’m certainly doing something good for the running of my household.

We had some people over for the 4th of July yesterday, so I have had a lot of opportunity to do dishes today. And after eating a little bit outside my usual calorie count yesterday–someone brought homemade pie, so I am forgiving myself for it–I need to burn all the extra calories I can. The scale hasn’t moved in a couple of days, but when I look at my past history I can see that I’ve lost 2 pounds since one week ago today, so I’m definitely not going to worry about it yet.

I did do a lot of real exercise today. I did the Couch to 5K workout, Week 1, Day 2, which is the same as Day 1. This time, I did it in my own neighborhood, which means a lot of hills. I also did it faster than last time. Even with both of those factors, I was surprised that the Jog Log app said I burned about twice the amount of calories as I did on Day 1, 606 compared to 293. Not sure I trust it, but I don’t base how much I eat in a day on how many calories I burn anyway, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. When I got home, I also did the Zumba Toning DVD, to work my arms. I can definitely feel the jogging in my legs, mostly in my thighs. I definitely don’t enjoy jogging as much as I do Zumba, but it is fun to have the goal of getting through the program.

Tonight I’m going to see a movie, Magic Mike, with a couple of girlfriends. First, we’re going to get some sushi, so it should be pretty easy to eat a healthy dinner. As I’ve said in a previous post, I like to have popcorn with a movie, but movie theater popcorn is apparently terrible for you. So this time, I made my own popcorn at home, put on a little bit of olive oil and salt, and I’ll hide it in my purse. Shhh, don’t tell.

On Splurging

Last night, some friends took both of our kids for a sleepover with their kids. If you are a parent, you know what a rare treat it is to have kids out of the house for the night. My husband and I took the opportunity to go into the city (San Francisco, that is) for drinks and dinner. There is a ban on foie gras starting in California on July 1, and my husband wanted to bid it farewell. We stopped first for drinks at A16, and I had a glass of wine and hubby and I shared a salumi platter, because our dinner reservations were still over an hour away, and he loves cured meat.

After our drinks, we walked around a bit more, then went to dinner at Isa. They do shared small plates, so we had the foie gras (of course), then scallops (perfectly cooked and yummy), mushroom risotto (I love risotto and mushrooms), duck (sooooo good), and green beans–which they of course called haricots verts. It was a wonderful meal.

Did all of this fit into my usual calorie counting? It absolutely didn’t…I didn’t even bother trying to count it. Was it totally worth the extra calories, and maybe taking an extra day or so to reach my goal weight? Oh yeah, it definitely was. It was a lovely, special dinner out with my honey. How could that not be worth it? It seems like as long as you view losing weight as a long term goal, then an occasional (key word) splurge shouldn’t throw you off track. Enjoy it, then move on.

Zumba With a Friend

My friend came over today so we could try out Zumba on the Xbox with 2 players. I was skeptical, because it seems like I use the entire floor space in our living room when I do Zumba, so I thought for sure we’d be running into each other. I also wasn’t sure how’d I’d feel jumping around like that with someone else in the room. However, the space was fine, and I actually had a lot of fun exercising with a friend! We even met later in the day for a healthy lunch out together.

Dinner was some pre-made ravioli I picked up at the farmer’s market, which was a little frustrating because I couldn’t find any nutritional information about it. I had to pick another brand that seemed similar to enter the calories into my tracking app. I also sautéed a ton of summer squash, and cut up a bunch of raw veggies to have with it.

We almost got invited to a party at The Melting Pot tonight–turned out there wasn’t any space left–and the first thing that came to mind was how many calories would be in fondue. Is it a good or a bad thing that that was the first thing I thought about? I was going to go anyway, but I was totally freaking out about trying to eat healthy at a fondue place. And then I was kind of relieved when it turned out we couldn’t go. I don’t want my change in lifestyle to mean I miss out on fun, but how do I weigh the fun versus the damage it might do to what I’m trying to accomplish?

Zumba Toning and Digifit

Today was a really good workout day…and not such a good eating day. It started out well, I had lost another pound when I stepped on the scale today. I had my usual toast with cheese and tomato for breakfast. Then I did a 65 minute Zumba routine on the Xbox. Today I used our Wahoo Fitness Heart Monitor with the Digifit app. I really like the display options on the app, it shows how long you spend in each zone. It still shows that I am burning less than half the calories than the Zumba game says, but that is okay. After finishing the routine on Xbox, I popped in the Zumba Ripped DVD. I decided to only do the toning portion, which is the first half. The second half is called Zumba Sentao, and uses a chair, and I found it very frustrating…my living room works fine for the Xbox game, but with the Zumba Sentao, I kept having to move the chair around to have room to do the moves, and so I’d miss moves and mess up the rhythm of the dance.

The Zumba Toning portion uses the Zumba Toning Sticks, which are weights that also make maraca sounds. Kinda silly, but also kinda fun. The DVD set came with 1 pound sticks, but I hardly felt anything when I used them. I ordered the 2.5 pound sticks from Amazon. I feel like I’m getting a pretty good workout when I use them.

I had a good healthy lunch too, but after that the eating went downhill a bit. We went out to see Brave (great movie!) and I got some popcorn for the kids, and I had some too. It is only after getting home and looking at calories that I realized that movie theater popcorn might be really awful. Even without butter, it was probably not a good choice. And, we went out to Mexican for dinner, where it is always hard to eat healthy…I think I made decent choices, I had shrimp fajitas, and limited the sour cream and guacamole, and only had a couple of tortillas. Only time will tell, and nothing I can do about it now, so I’ll face the scale the next time I step on it, and see what it says.

Vacation on the Northern California Coast

We just returned last night from a 5 day vacation up the Northern Coast of California. It was a wonderful trip, we spent 2 nights in Mendocino, and 2 nights in Point Reyes. I was worried about taking a vacation while I am trying to lose weight. I tried to make smart choices at meals and we got a lot of exercise. That plus my amazing husband helped me to not only not gain while on vacation, but come back 1/2 pound lighter!

On Monday, we drove from our home in the Bay Area up to Mendocino. We checked into our cottage at The Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, which is a lovely place to stay, even with kids. We ate at a very nice restaurant, The Moosse Cafe, in downtown Mendocino. I got their cioppino, which is a bunch of different seafood in a tomato based broth, so a good low-calorie choice. My husband wanted dessert, so I had a few bites of his dark chocolate pudding.

Tuesday we woke up and had breakfast at the Inn. They serve something they call the Heart Healthy Breakfast Wrap, which had egg whites, goat cheese, and veggies. It was very tasty, and I guess pretty healthy. While you eat breakfast, they spread bird seed outside the windows, and all manner of birds and wildlife–including bunnies and chipmunks–gather around. My daughter was in heaven. Then we headed out exploring. We went to the Point Cabrillo Light Station where we walked out to the lighthouse, which is some distance from parking. We then hiked around looking at the coastline before hiking back up to the parking area.

Then to Glass Beach in Fort Bragg where we climbed around on rocks exploring.It is called Glass Beach because it used to be a dump site which has since been cleaned up, but all the glass and porcelain from those times has been washed smooth by the waves and makes up a good portion of the beach area. The kids loved exploring all the rocks, and looking in the tidepools.

We stopped for lunch in downtown Fort Bragg, at Piaci Pub and Pizzeria, a very cool place. My husband greatly recommends it for the beer selection. I got one of their lunch specials, which was an open faced sandwich on focaccia with a choice of veggies and cheese, and served with a salad. It was fantastic. The kids shared a pizza, and my husband got a calzone, which all looked terrific.

We then headed to MacKerricher State Park, where we hiked a bit around to see some seals. When we had hiked a good distance from the car, I realized I had parked in the wrong spot, and had left my jacket and my daughter’s nature book in the car. I volunteered to quickly walk back and move the car and get the things we needed. Previously I would have guilted my husband into it.

Then we headed over to Pudding Creek, where we walked around while the kids waded.

For dinner, we went back to Fort Bragg and ate at North Coast Brewing Company Taproom and Grill. This is not a place I would recommend if you are trying to watch your weight, but lots of people had recommended it to my husband for the beer selection–are you sensing the theme here? Anyway, here is when I became even more grateful for my husband. He is also trying to increase his fitness, though he doesn’t need to lose weight. We decided to split an entree, since they are always way too big. We got some BBQ pork, and I ate all the cole slaw (which he doesn’t like) and left most of the corn bread for him.

Wednesday it was time to check out of the lovely Inn. We went for breakfast, and at first ran into trouble because all the tables with views of the animals were taken. However, my daughter got over her fit, and made friends with someone at one of the tables with a view so she could watch the bunnies for awhile.

We went first to Van Damme State Park, where we saw the Pygmy Forest. Apparently the soil there is so lacking in nutrients that the trees cannot grow very high. It was quite interesting to see. We then took a bit of a hike around until the kids were tired, and started the drive south to Point Reyes. We drove on Route 1 the whole way down, which was a twisty-turny but fun drive.

On the way down we stopped at Point Arena Lighthouse, which is one of the tallest lighthouses on the Pacific Coast. We climbed up to the top–a good warm up for the stairs at the Point Reyes Lighthouse.


We checked into our next cottage, at Nick’s Cove in Marshall, CA. It wasn’t as roomy as our previous cottage, but the bathroom was very nice. We ate dinner at Nick’s Cove restaurant, at a table with views of Tomales Bay. We had oysters, which is what that area is known for, shared a salad and paella. It was all delicious, and just the right amount to share. It was the best paella I have had in years.

On Thursday we had breakfast in Point Reyes Station, at the Pinecone Diner. This place is the very definition of a greasy spoon. I had one egg and hashbrowns (because I love real hashbrowns) and they were all coated in grease. Not exactly a healthy breakfast.

We then headed out to Point Reyes National Seashore. First we stopped at the Bear Valley Vistor’s Center, and took a couple of hikes around that area. First we went on the Earthquake Trail, which was along the San Andrea Fault and had a lot of information about earthquakes in the Bay Area. My son was fascinated. Then we took the Kule Loklo Trail, which took us to a replica of a Coast Miwok Indian Village. We walked back by a horse ranch, which my daughter loved. She now wants to try horseback riding.

Then we drove out towards the Point Reyes Lighthouse. We stopped for lunch on the way at Drake’s Beach Cafe, and ate some oysters (not very good ones) and a salad. Then we drove the rest of the way to the lighthouse, and hiked out to where the stairs are. There are 308 stairs down to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. And then back up again. I had to stop about every 100 stairs on the way back–and there were platforms there for that purpose–but made the trek without too much trouble. I was very proud of myself.

A short drive from the Point Reyes Lighthouse there is an overlook to see Elephant Seals, so we headed out that way. The views were lovely, and while the Elephant Seals were not too exciting to watch, their noises–which sounded quite a lot like really big burps–were very amusing to the kids.

We then hiked over to the Point Reyes Lifeboat Station, which is no longer in service but used to serve as a rescue station for shipwrecks along the coast. There we happened upon a few Harbor Seals taking a rest and I got some great pictures.

We ate dinner that night at a great Italian restaurant, Stellina, in Point Reyes Station. It was surprisingly kid-friendly, and the food was delicious. Again, my husband and I shared our meal. We got some oysters, an appetizer of lamb, a salad, and some pasta with clams for our entree. We even shared a small dessert. It was all really delicious.

The next morning, we ate some muffins and fruit at our cottage–continental breakfast was included. After packing and loading up the car, we filled up our cooler with ice, nicely provided by Nick’s Cove. Then we went on a shopping expedition. We stopped at Hog Island Oyster Company and Tomales Bay Oyster Company, and loaded the cooler with oysters. We stopped in Point Reyes Station at the Station House Cafe for lunch. I got a fried oyster appetizer, definitely not on my usual food plan but I wanted to give them a try. I only ate a couple of them, and realized that I’m just not used to fried food anymore. As my main lunch, I got a delicious open faced wild mushroom sandwich, with spinach and a fried egg on top.

We then walked over to Tomales Bay Foods, which is the home of Cowgirl Creamery. We tasted and picked out several wonderful local cheeses, and bought some lovely crusty baguettes.

On our way out of Point Reyes Station, we stopped at Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop and picked up some lovely grass fed steaks and ground beef.

We then drove back home. That evening we took all of our bounty–and a gigantic summer squash that had grown in my garden–to our friend’s house, who supplied some corn and a grill, and we had a feast from Point Reyes. I learned how to shuck an oyster–not so simple–and my husband had made a mignotte of champagne vinegar, red onion, and black pepper to accompany the oysters. It was a terrific end to an amazing vacation.

This morning I woke up, ate a healthy breakfast, went to the local farmer’s market and came home to do my regular Zumba on the Xbox. I even added 1/2 hour of Zumba Toning with the DVD. Back to the routine!