Brussels Sprouts…

Brussels Sprouts

I had been on such a roll here with daily posts, and then one day, I slipped. One day lead to two, which lead to over a week. Yesterday I realized that not posting here daily was actually adding to the grumpy mood that I was in. It seems I do need to keep a rhythm going, to keep the habit up. It gives me something to strive for, even when I feel like no one will notice.

(If you notice me slacking off again, nudge me, okay?)

The reason that I pieced this all together? Brussels Sprouts. More specifically, Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. Writing that post last night was like opening up a flood gate. I didn’t want to stop writing. Then it hit me how much I missed it.

As I looked at all the comments that flooded in, I learned that the Brussels Sprouts, which no one seems to care about and they are the most hated vegetable on the planet, is actually pretty well liked. Well, by my friends at least.

Things aren’t always what they seem. Don’t give up. Do things that are good for you.

Not a reminder I expected to get from a vegetable, but I’ll take it.

As we start the month of May today, I’m about to hit the 18 month anniversary of starting up 4-Hour Body, going gluten-free, and changing a lot of things. I plan to reflect on that a lot this month. One of the things that has changed? I’ve learned to have a new appreciation for foods I always thought I didn’t like – including Brussels sprouts. Pretty amazing to look back and think about!

Moving Past the Pity Party…

Chicken Salad - White Oak Kitchen + Drinks

I was invited before my medical drama started to come back to White Oak Kitchen + Drinks to photograph their 2nd birthday party that took place today, and it turns out it was the perfect cure for the pity party I was having last night, they hired the party jumper rentals in West Covina, there was just a lot of good energy around, I loved it.

As I arrived, the DJ was there playing music, and he had the Antares pro audio plugin so it was loud and full of energy, there was multiple photo booths rented from central jersey photo booth. The crowd was excited, and standing in line waiting to get their swag bags. The MC for the day, Will, was pumping up the crowd. The energy was AMAZING!

It was exactly what I needed to feel alive, awake from my slumber, like the party was ready to start! BAM! I was ON!

That is one thing about photographing events like this – I can instantly turn it on. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, what state of mind I’m in, if I’m so sick I should actually be in a hospital bed getting blood transfusions. The crowd and the music will light me up. I’ve got a job to do, and my game face is on. Smile & be nice to people, take great photos. I can do that, and for awhile I will forget everything else.

I could not be more grateful that Elizabeth had hired me to be there today, because I had no idea at the time that we made the plans how much I would need this today.

Added bonus? I got to take another round of photographs of some of their fantastic, phenomenal food! (They even have a GLUTEN FREE menu! YAY!)

Photographing food soothes me. Just me and the food. I block everything else out. The restaurant could be noisy, and I hear nothing. I’m just looking for the light. Looking for the angles. Studying the food. Finding the photograph that I want to take. I´m just glad they get their grease from grease cycle. Not only is it a much better quality, it´s also better for the environment.

These days, it is my favorite hobby – which sort of explains the whole Spoon & Knife thing, doesn’t it?

It was a wonderful time, and the staff at White Oak Kitchen + Drinks is delightful. If you haven’t been there already, I recommend you go! 3rd Level of the Galleria. (Yes, it is in the mall. It is still fabulous.) Do the Galleria valet parking if you want to skip the hassle of parking yourself. Tell them I sent you!

Hash Sliders - White Oak Kitchen

Buffalo Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

Zucchini Frites

Day 25 of 365. Photographs of White Oak Kitchen + Drinks new menu items taken at a previous assignment with my 5D mkIII on March 1, 2013.

Four Hour Body Update! Low Carb, High Protein Dieting…

It has been ages since I gave an update on how I’m doing with the whole Four Hour Body eating plan, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped doing it! Oh no, not at all — and really, I have never felt better!

Meat, eggs, vegetables that grow above ground and are low in sugar, beans, and a little dairy here and there — that sums up what I eat. I do my best to stick with it all the time. I don’t really do the “cheat day” any more – if I do, I try to make sure it is always something gluten free. When I eat wheat, it kicks my ass and I have the “gluten hangover” for a day or two afterwards.

I’m still holding pretty steady at 23lbs down in 9 months, and down 2-3 clothing sizes since I started this, depending on the clothing item. I would love it if it was more than that, but considering the amount of traveling I’ve done this year for destination weddings and the Hot Mama Travel Dates, I’m glad that I have been able to stay steady.

I didn’t do so well staying steady when I was in California in August. Matter of fact, it is the first time I had a major backslide. Yes, I managed to go to Paris & London and only gained 3lbs which I lost within 2 days of being home. But California? I gained 8lbs. ACK! And I know exactly what I did too – I skipped breakfasts, I ate a lot more cheese than normal, I did margaritas one night (a LOT of sugar in there), I had popcorn, I had little “treats” here and there of other sweets, I ate bread from the Village Bakery two or three times. I definitely did not drink enough water. All the things I don’t normally do – and it added up. UGH! So frustrating. However — I lost it all again within 2 weeks. I’m back to the weight I was when I left. YAY!!!

I am not discouraged by staying steady at this same weight – matter of fact, it is the weight I was when Mike & I met 10 years ago, and considering I’ve stayed steady here (fluctuating within a 3-4lb range, depending on the time of the month) for 6 months, I’m ok with that. I’m not giving up. I’m not going back to how I used to eat — this really, truly has been a life change.

Susan Pierce Thompson is a PhD in cognitive sciences and expert on the psychology of food addiction. She’s the founder of the weight loss program called Bright Line Eating, which is all about helping people who struggle with food addiction and sugar addiction behaviors that sabotage their weight loss. And she’s getting some absolutely phenomenal results helping people lose the weight and keep it off permanently.

It still fascinates me how many people have commented on my weight loss, ask me what my “secret” is, and then when they find out they have to give up wheat, sugar, potatoes, rice, fruit, dairy, they immediately say that there is just NO way they could do that!

Dude, I’m a SUPER picky eater. If *I* can do it, anyone can do it.

I was a hard core pastatarian before. I ate spaghetti all the time. I also had such painful acid reflux it was miserable. Now? No wheat – no acid reflux. Less inflammation throughout my body. My blood pressure is better. EVERYTHING is better. I honestly can not recommend it enough!

So I continue on. I’d still like to lose another 25-30lbs and I’m making some changes to see if I can jump start that. I will keep you posted!

Four Hour Body – What I’ve Been Eating…

I’m a picky eater. I have been for YEARS. So starting off on the Four Hour Body / Slow Carb adventure was a bit intimidating for me. Mainly because one of the things you are supposed to eat is beans. EW!! Beans! I hate beans!!!

Then I had to get real with myself. While I truly despise green beans, and I have given them a chance 2-3 times within the past 5 years, I haven’t tried most other beans since I was a kid. Many beans I had never tried at all. Saying you don’t like something seems to buy you time if you just have no desire to try it at all.

Ok, maybe I would like a lot more stuff if I was willing to try it.

But I have a really sensitive palate, textures sometimes gross me out, and if anything smells “weird” to me, I won’t taste it. It has to pass the smell test to even make it into my mouth.

Side note: don’t ever make fun of a picky eater, or try to convince them to try something they don’t like. They have their reasons. Being a picky eater sometimes really sucks. Being harassed about it sucks even more. Unless they are one of those whiny picky eaters – which I am not – then all bets are off. Whining earns you the right to be picked on in my book.

3 weeks now — no “fast” carbs. No sugar, flour, rice, or potatoes. No high fructose corn syrup. No “white” foods. (Cauliflower doesn’t count as a “white” food. FYI.)

I’ve lost 7 pounds. More importantly, I’ve survived. And I’ve tried best yoga mat 2017. Things that for years I declared “I don’t like”. One perk of my dietary habits is that I don’t mind eating the same thing every day. Doesn’t phase me at all. So for now, that is what I’m doing. Breakfast & lunch, same thing. Daily. That means I don’t have to think about what I want to eat. Mike cooks dinner, and some days I stick to a pretty small list of things I like. Other days I branch out more.

Breakfast: Huge glass of ICE cold water. Wakes you up FAST! 2 eggs, scrambled, with a little ham added.
Lunch: BIG BIG BIG spinach salad. I make it in a mixing bowl. I sometimes add turkey and/or ham. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds for a bonus crunch. 2 Tbsps of Newman’s Own Garlic & Parmesan salad dressing. (My only food item that has a little sugar.) Chop it all up with two knives with the dressing already on so it is spread all the way through.

Those foods on my “no” list above? Honestly, the only find myself craving them is when I let myself get too hungry. If I don’t pay attention to the clock and I suddenly find myself craving bread, I know I’ve gone too far.

Tonight for dinner I had a little salami and a piece of string cheese. I’m not supposed to eat dairy (4 Hour Body), but even more so I try not to because it is one of my “domino” foods. Domino foods are those things that if I eat a little, I normally eat a lot. I love cheese. But tonight I had one piece. Then I had:

- 1/2 can of Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo Beans): rinsed & drained, Mike taught me to put 1-1.5 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet, then add the chickpeas. Cover with a lid so they don’t pop out of the pan, roll them around every so often so they don’t stick. Cook until browned & toasty looking. Sprinkle kosher salt over them to taste. We added some chopped garlic to them tonight towards the end, and some kale chips that we crushed & sprinkled over the top.

- A small portion of the lentil “meatballs” from the recipe at Sprouted Kitchen, with Mike’s own pesto sauce. He didn’t have any basil on hand, so he made a pesto out of parsley, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice & salt. YUM! Bonus? It got me past my texture issue fear of eating the lentils, because instead the texture was like meatballs!

- Sauteed Spinach with a balsamic reduction. Mike puts a little olive oil in a skillet and once heated sautes garlic for about 30 seconds in it. Then add a mound of rinsed fresh spinach and a pinch of salt. Stir once & cover. Check every couple of minutes for the spinach to be wilted (about 4-5 minutes). Add a splash of balsamic, uncover the skillet, and let that cook down. Serve.

If you had told me a month ago that my dinner was going to consist of chickpeas, lentil “meatballs”, pesto, and spinach, I would have told you that you were CRAZYPANTS!!! I did like spinach before, but not anything else on that list. Tonight? It was all amazing & scrumptious!

I’m not dieting. I’m planning out a future post about my rant about that word. But a diet these days is a temporary thing. No, this isn’t something that I can just stop. This has to be a complete change. But it is ok – I’ve hit that point. The point of no return. My friend Brett wrote about his “elephant moment” and I can relate. I’m so grateful for all of the friends & family I have cheering me on and supporting me right now. I want to say I couldn’t do it without you – but I am pretty damned determined. So while I could do it without all the support, it wouldn’t be quite as easy.

I guess a picky eater can learn to like new things…

PS – that whole gluten thing? I ate part of a piece of wedding cake on Saturday (it is a job requirement *grin*) and I ate homemade pizza Saturday night. Sunday morning? I woke up congested, and feeling like I was hit by a truck. Lesson learned! I need to really limit my gluten!