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Archive for September, 2012

Busting Plateaus

September 30, 2012 1 comment

The past couple of week’s weigh-ins, while headed in the right direction, have been a little underwhelming.  So this past week, I decided it was time to bust through this plateau in a mach three with my hair on fire kind of way.  I’ll tell you what that looked like in a minute, but first things first, what were the results?

Last week, I weighed in at 239.4 pounds.  This week…drumroll, please…I was down to 235.7 pounds!!!!!!!  That’s a 3.7 pound loss from last week, 22.9 pounds lost since July, and almost 80 pounds lost from my estimated highest weight of 315!!!  I couldn’t be more pleased.  In the summer of 2010, I had gotten down to 235.2, and my initial goal this go-round was to reach 235.0 before my birthday in late October.  I think it’s safe to say at this point that I will surpass that goal!  So my new goal is to reach 215 pounds, another 20 pounds lost, and what will mark a 100-pound total loss from my starting weight, by New Year’s.  That’s a tall order, no doubt, with the holidays thrown in, but I’m going to shoot for it, and be gentle with myself if I come up a little short, but hopefully it will keep me from giving myself carte blanche to eat anything over the holidays (though I will be enjoying myself in moderation).

So how did I break through this plateau?  The easy answer is “diet and exercise,” but the more nuanced answer is Read more…

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Dear Homophobic Woman on the Second Row…

September 29, 2012 4 comments

Dear Homophobic Woman on the Second Row:

Last night, when I drove from my home in Atlanta to a small town on the outer edge of Metro Atlanta, to see a play that revolved around a gay male love story, I have to admit I was a bit concerned about how it would be received by the audience, and how hospitable an environment it would be for me, a gay man. Overall, I’m happy to report that the people attending this production were quite respectful, and I give kudos to the theatre company for having produced a high quality play. Sure…there were a couple of gasps from a small percentage of the people in the room when the two male leads kissed for the first time, but some of those people trudged through that initial shock to maybe have their minds opened a little by realizing that these characters were two human beings who were falling in love, like any other two human beings, with emotions, needs, desires, dreams, and souls, who’ve fallen in love countless times throughout human history. So overall, I was encouraged that the level of acceptance and tolerance was so high, even in the face of what may have been discomfort with the unfamiliar, or maybe even disagreement of some of your fellow audience members with the acceptability of something they had long been taught was unacceptable. That’s the memory of last night I would like to stick with me.

Unfortunately, what has stuck with me, at least today, was your behavior.

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Eff You, Metabolism!

September 24, 2012 2 comments

Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery – Location of my “Run Like Hell 5K” next month! And site of a beautiful early autumn walk I took yesterday.

So…  I’m still losing weight, but the rapidity with which the pounds are coming off has slowed.  I’m so pleased with my progress, and I’m not in any way about to give up, but the past couple of weeks have been a little frustrating.  This past Friday, I weighed in at 239.4 pounds.  That’s a .2 pound loss from the week before, 19.2 pounds down since I restarted in July, and about 76 pounds down from my estimated highest weight of 315 a few years ago.  Two-tenths of a pound.  Ho-hum.

As my nutritionist reminded me today, once the first 15-20 pounds come off, your metabolism gets nice and comfy cozy again.  Ugh.  And the solution?  To increase exercise to get the metabolism back in gear.  Double ugh.  If I’m being honest, I’d have to admit that Read more…

Reclaiming Swagger

September 17, 2012 2 comments

In my mind, it made me look like the Old Spice hottie…

Yesterday I realized on my way to the mall that I hadn’t put on deodorant. Not a good feeling – whatsoever. So I stopped by the Rite-Aid near my apartment and ran in to get a travel size deodorant instead of turning around to go back home. I was a little amused when the only travel size men’s deodorant they had was a little miniature Old Spice called “Swagger.”

I went ahead and bought it, put some on in the car, and went about my merry way. This trip to the mall had been coming all day. Why? You might ask. Because I woke up with a craving. I have no idea where it came from, and no, I’m not pregnant, but I woke up yesterday morning craving a jalapeno pretzel from Auntie Anne’s. I literally planned my day around it. My normal afternoon snack is an apple and 2 sticks of 2% cheddar cheese, less than 200 calories. The pretzel wasn’t a well-balanced healthy carb/protein snack, but I was going to have it, dammit, even though it was 330 calories.

I made a deal with myself, though. I didn’t want to go to the park for my jogs this weekend because of yet another arts festival there, so I decided if I allowed myself to have the pretzel, I would walk around the mall for no less than two hours (not senior citizen mall walking, mind you, but still walking with some purpose, allowing myself to browse a bit, without sitting down or totally stopping for two hours straight). I figured that would at least burn the excess calories, if not a bit more. So you can see why the deodorant stop was essential.

Walking around the mall, I made an observation about my journey and my

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Creatively Cooking at Home

September 8, 2012 Comments off

Italian Barbecue Chicken Tacos on the Stove

I’m sitting here on a rainy Saturday in Atlanta, with the weather people promising this rain is leading to lovely fall temperatures, and I decided to take part of my day to cook what turned out to be a surprisingly delicious and healthy lunch.  I thought I’d try something I haven’t done on this blog in quite a while, and share my recipe with you, but first things first…my weekly progress report.

Yesterday was another great weekly weigh in!  I was at 241.0 pounds!!!  That’s a 1.9 pound loss from last week, a 17.6 pound loss since I restarted my efforts in July, and about 74 pounds down from my estimated highest weight of 315 pounds!  I’m extremely happy with my progress, and highly motivated to continue.  I really think meeting my first goal of 235 before my birthday in late October is within reach, and after that, my next goal will be to reach 215 – which will be a loss of 100 pounds!  It’s amazing to me that a 100-pound weight loss is now within my reach.  And I calculated last night, too, that at my height of 5 feet 10.5 inches, when I reach 212 pounds, I’ll no longer even be considered obese, but merely overweight according to the BMI charts!  That’s really a goal I want to reach.

So part of how I continued my loss this week was something that was a tad unintentional.  Late last week, I bought a plane ticket to take a trip to New York in early October (I can’t wait to spend some time in New York in the fall!), and I decided that I should cut back on my eating out a bit to help offset the expense.  I went grocery shopping, and I made a decision that buying fresh vegetables would help me stick to my plan to eat at home more, both because they’re much more appealing than frozen, and because I’d feel badly if I let them spoil without using them.

Turns out that was a great plan!  I enjoyed cooking healthily and enjoying the fresh flavors of what I made.  And the calories were well within what I needed to continue losing weight.  So today when I was deciding what to do for lunch, I decided to survey the refrigerator and pantry and see what I could throw together with what was left.  I use pasta fairly often, in very small quantities (using only about an ounce or two at a time as part of a mainly vegetable and protein based dish), but today, I wasn’t really feeling like pasta.

I had some flour tortillas in my pantry that weren’t going to last too much longer, and I had chicken breasts in the freezer.  I also had some fresh broccoli and carrots, and some canned tomatoes.  I started to think about some sort of taco with the chicken, and I wanted to do something a little different with the broccoli, so roasting came to mind.  I just got into the kitchen and started cooking with just the barest skeleton of a plan.  First the vegetables went into the oven to roast, and then I got started on the chicken filling for the tacos.  I didn’t really have the right

Italian Barbecue Chicken Tacos with Simple Roasted Vegetables

seasonings for something with a Mexican or Latin flavor, but I always have the right ingredients on hand for Italian flavors, and what I ended up with was actually pretty delicious.  At right is the finished plate, of what I came to call Italian Barbecue Chicken Tacos, with Simple Roasted Vegetables on the side.  If you’ve never had roasted broccoli, by the way, it is simply transcendant.  The tips of the florets transform into something light and crispy, while the stalks and stems take on a wonderful woodsy flavor.

If you don’t really cook much, go take a basic class to learn some techniques!  The food network is good for recipe ideas, but they’ve taken more of an edu-tainment route that doesn’t truly teach people how to cook anymore.  If you’ve got the basic techniques down, it’s great entertainment and a way to get new ideas, but if you need the basics, I highly recommend getting your hands on DVD’s of Julia Child’s PBS shows.  She actually wanted to teach us to understand why we do certain things in the kitchen.  Some of the PBS cooking shows today, though far outnumbered by Food Network, also still really try to teach, so check them out, as well.   And smelling your kitchen filled with the lovely scents of a good meal is very satisfying.  As Julia said best, “I like to smell something cooking; makes me feel at home!”  Give the recipes below a shot, and maybe this will inspire you to get creative in the kitchen, too!

Italian Barbecue Chicken Tacos

(Yields 4 Tacos – Serves 2)

  • 2 medium chicken breasts
  • 2T herbs/spices of your choice to season chicken breasts (I use Paul Prudhomme’s Poultry Magic)
  • 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, well-drained
  • 1T tomato paste
  • 1T balsamic vinegar jelly (or other savory jelly of your choice)
  • 1/4t garlic powder
  • 1/2T dried basil
  • 1/2T dried oregano
  • 4 small (fajita size) flour tortillas
  • 4t freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Rub chicken breasts with herbs/spices of your choice.  Heat a medium sautee pan over medium heat, spray with non-stick cooking spray, and then pan sautee the seasoned chicken breasts until cooked through, turning once during cooking and browning both sides.  Remove chicken breasts from pan, and let rest.  Drain the petite diced tomatoes well.  Add the olive oil to the hot pan, and add the drained tomatoes, along with the tomato paste.  Stir until combined and add basil, oregano, and garlic powder.  Lastly, add the balsamic or other savory jelly and let it melt into the sauce (I use a wonderful Balsamic Vinegar and Vidalia Onion jelly that I buy from a fantastic local Atlanta jelly maker called One Screw Loose – they also have an AH-MAZING orange cranberry pecan jelly that I love with roasted turkey or chicken.  Take a minute to visit their website by clicking here, or if you’re in Atlanta, look for them at local festivals and such).  Lower the heat and allow the tomato sauce to simmer while you slice the chicken breasts thinly and heat the tortillas in a dry skillet.  Add the chicken to the tomato mixture, combine well, and allow the entire mixture to heat and simmer for a few more minutes.  When the tortillas are warm, divide the chicken mixture evenly between the tortillas, and top each taco with 1t freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Simple Roasted Vegetables

(yield – approx. 1c – serves 1-2)

  • 1 stalk broccoli
  • 1/2c baby carrots
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1t coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • 1t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2t crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Cut the broccoli florets off the stalk, rinse and dry.  Peel the woody skin off the lower portion of the broccoli stalk, and then slice the stalk into medallions.  Slice the onion into fairly large pieces.  Place the cut broccoli, whole baby carrots, and sliced onions onto a shallow roasting/jelly roll pan with sides.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and toss with clean hands until well-coated.  Roast in the oven on a middle rack until the broccoli has begun to brown, and the carrots and and onions are tender and somewhat caramelized.  Approximately 25-30 minutes.  The amounts in this recipe are somewhat unimportant.  Just use a larger pan for more vegetables and make sure you only have a single layer of vegetables so they can roast properly.  Also be careful to use just enough olive oil to barely coat the vegetables so you don’t burn excess oil in the oven – this can lead to a smokey kitchen!  Feel free to play with herbs and spices, as well, though I personally like just salt and pepper to allow the intensified flavor of the roasted vegetables to shine.  If the vegetables are a bit dry for your taste when done, toss with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and/or lemon juice.

BEFORE – Raw Vegetables Cut, Tossed in Oil and Seasonings, and Ready for the Oven

AFTER – Light and Crispy Broccoli Florets with Caramelized Carrots and Onions

Observations from the Coffee Shop

September 3, 2012 1 comment

This past week was interesting. I felt like I was a bit off balance – thinking I was getting a cold that turned out to be my fall allergies kicking in a little earlier than I expected, a couple of meals that weren’t really the healthiest choices I could have made, and a crazy day or two at work. I was really anticipating a not so hot week on the scales. But Friday morning rolled around, and I was shocked to weigh in at 242.9 pounds! That was a 2.7 pound loss from the prior Friday, a 15.7 pound loss from when I restarted my journey in July, and a 72 pound loss from my estimated highest weight of 315 in 2009!

Looking back, I think a couple of things worked in my favor. First, I cooked at home a good bit last week. I made a conscious effort to buy fresh vegetables, so that the idea of eating dinner at home would be appealing (not just microwaved frozen veggies). Also, I’m pretty good at using simple cooking techniques to make tasty, yet healthy, meals. A little knowledge of cookery really does go a long way, and I think it’s pretty useful if you’re trying to eat healthily that you have the tools you need to make things easy on yourself. So I actually think I was trying to compensate for the few higher calorie meals, and I wasn’t even thinking about it. This makes me really happy – I feel like it shows an internalization of healthier habits, and I’m hoping it continues.

So with that out of the way, I’m enjoying the hell out of a day off work today, and I’m set up here at my favorite coffee shop in the whole world typing away. And I can’t help but make a few unrelated and random observations of things that are on my mind.

1) To the hipster high school and college-aged young women out there: this high-waisted, daisy duke-ish, denim short trend that goes above your belly button by six inches but barely covers your bidness needs to end. For the love of

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