Previous month:
July 2014
Next month:
September 2014

August 2014

If you lived here, you'd be home now

I just got back from Target, where I bought a Flash superhero T-shirt for the teenager (tomorrow is some sort of superhero spirit day), a dollar's worth of Dr. Seuss erasers, some fancy striped drinking straws (props for photo shoots) and a 2.5-pound bag of skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

I added up all the protein in that bag and thought to myself "No way in hell am I supposed to eat this much protein in one day!"


I had a check-in with a trainer who was giving me eating pointers and she threw out this figure -- eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Eat all the chicken
For me, that comes out to a little more than 200 grams of protein per day, which seems a bit nuts. Now she's not a registered dietitian and said that she was not an authority on eating, so I did some Googling and apparently the 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is something that was recommended to musclehead bodybuilders way back in the day, but for the most part no one is recommending that anymore. 

It's more like 1 gram per kilo of body weight (about half of what I was trying to shove down yesterday) or 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (also around the same number).

Chickens can rest safely now -- I am not coming to get you.

Needless to say, eating yesterday was stressful, thinking that I needed to slaughter entire fields of chickens to get through the week. 


(Stressful eating makes me, ummmm, eat, and not hard-boiled egg whites. More like fistfuls of Cheerios.)

But I did get a good takeway from the trainer meeting, and it's something I already knew from Robert Ferguson's Diet Free Life program. It's all about keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day, because those rollercoaster peaks and valleys encourage fat storage and cravings.

The trainer's recommendation is not to go carb crazy at breakfast, which is what a lot of people do. Instead of a superfruity smoothie or a bagel, I should reach for protein, fat and non-starchy carbs to kick the day off with a smoother start, blood-sugar wise. Her recommendation is to leave the starches and fruit to mid-day, and get back on the low sugar/starch bandwagon at dinner again so you don't wake the craving monster. 

(I have a craving monster and she is a polar bear.)

It's funny when I look back over posts I did a couple years ago (like that polar bear one). While I'm glad I got over that plateau, I always wonder why I don't follow that great advice I dished out in 2012 for more than a minute.

If you lived here

(Aww, man. I set out to write a post about protein and this life lesson dumped itself on my keyboard.)

This is one of my constant regrets (is it a regret or a frustration? regret sounds so sad and I ain't sad), something that itches back in the recesses of my psyche. 

  • Why is this taking so long? 
  • Why don't I pick something and stick to it?
  • Why do I sabotage myself?
  • Why do I start some thing and see the scale go up instead of down?
  • How do those people lose all their weight in a year or two?

Pardon our brain dumpMy exercise is spot on, I eat super healthy food, my water drinking is way better than it's been in years, I'm going to bed at a reasonable hour now and getting around 8 hours of sleep a night, I log nearly all my food ...

... nearly all my food ...

(Cue the INXS-themed blog post from two years ago...)


So, in summation:

  • More protein but not MOAR PROTIEEEEEEN.
  • Superhero T-shirt.
  • No blood-sugar rollercoasters.
  • INXS songs and angry polar bears.
  • Drinking a blackberry smoothie as I finish this BECAUSE IT'S LUNCH AND IT'S FRUIT TIME.
  • Real estate analogies to weight loss.

Thank you, carry on.

6:45 is calling: My sleep manifesto

Notoriously bad.

That's what springs to mind when I think about my goal to go to sleep earlier.

Don't get me wrong -- I get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, but when you go to bed at 1 or 2 a.m., that means getting up at 8 or 9 a.m. It's not great for productivity. It's also not great for 9 a.m. Zumba and Jazzercise classes.

Now that school is back in session, my Fitbit Flex is set to buzz me awake at 6:45 a.m. on Fridays so I can take the kid to school and head to the gym. Fridays are great that way -- get up early, drop off the kid, go to the gym and be ready to seize the rest of the day all worked out and showered well before noon.

Oh, hello.

So I set the Fitbit for 6:45 a.m. Friday -- and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 

I'm a stickler for getting adequate sleep and the notion that my arm is going to vibrate at 6:45 is incentive enough to hit the proverbial hay (it's not hay, it's a Beautyrest).

I'm much more productive when I've got that morning workout in -- there's nothing to "make time for" -- it's already done. And I won't be sleeping through Zumba.

Anyhizzle, by the time you read this I will be at the gym, meeting with a trainer. I decided to invest in a weekly session after tiring of the "aimless wander" workout and jacking up my already jacked-up neck.

And I will have gotten 7 hours' sleep.

This is nutty good: Kickin' Chipotle-Almond Chicken

Chipotle almond crusted chicken sliced
I'm a Blue Diamond Tastemaker and was compensated with the almonds for this recipe.

Salty-sweet is definitely a hot flavor combo -- I just bought a salted caramel protein bar! But throw some heat into the salty-sweet mix and you've really got a winner.

Blue Diamond recently sent me a couple flavors in its Honey Roasted line -- Honey Roasted Vanilla and Honey Roasted Chipotle almonds.

While both flavors were fantastic, I was particularly enamored of the chipotle ones and stashed a serving away so I could come up with a recipe that incorporated them. 

Portion control is really important when snacking on nuts -- you can easily get carried away and polish off a few servings at one sitting, so before that happens, I portion out 1-ounce servings in either a zipper-lock snack-size bag or a tiny Tupperware container. That way I can reach into the pantry, grab a serving, CLOSE THE PANTRY and be on my way.

So before the family polished off all the almonds, I took an ounce and turned them into a coating for skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I baked the chicken in the oven instead of whipping out the skillet because I didn't want any of the tasty coating to fall off in the pan.

This recipe is great for a quick after-work meal -- you get to beat the living daylights out of the almonds and the chicken breast, so if you have any post-work or post-traffic aggressions, take them out on your food!

Kickin' Chipotle-Almond Chicken

  • 1 ounce Blue Diamond Roasted Honey Chipotle almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (add more or less, depending on your comfort level)
  • 2 6-ounce (or whatever you've got to total 12 ounces) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour the almonds into a large, heavy duty zip-seal bag and crush the almonds to the consistency of the panko bread crumbs.

Chipotle almond crusted chicken
Shhh ... rest, my little chicken breasts, rest.

After the almonds are crushed, add in the panko bread crumbs and the chipotle chili powder. 

Add the pounded chicken breasts to the bag, seal it and shake the bag until the chicken breasts are evenly coated.

On a baking sheet coated with either non-stick spray or non-stick aluminum foil (my fave for easy cleanup), place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet, sprinkling any remaining coating on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear and/or the chicken reaches 165 degrees. 

Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for around 10 to 15 minutes so the juices incorporate back into the meat. 

Slice the chicken into medallions and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information (calculated on 131 calories, 4.4g fat, 0.3g sat fat, 215g sodium, 5g carbohydrates, 0.7g fiber, 1.4g sugars, 19g protein.

For more recipes, check out my recipe archive or check out Shrinking Kitchen, where I contribute original recipes every other week!

Water, water everywhere

Well, that was a distressing few days, but it appears that everything with the blog is back to normal. It's actualy the "new normal" because is now the dominant URL for the blog. You still can find older posts with the shrinkingsisters URL but the switchover is now complete. 

Enough about how the sausage is made (mmmm ... sausage ...). What have I been up to this weekend? Drinking water!

Seriously, I feel like all I've been doing is drinking water and visiting the bathroom (and sending frantic emails to Typepad). 

image from
Here's my recycling pile this morning (KIDDING!) I use reusable bottles.

I started doing something called "superhydration," a term coined by Ellington Darden, a longtime exercise researcher. My knowledge of Darden goes back, way back to when I was at the University of Florida in the 1980s and a member of Gainesville Health and Fitness, a pioneering health club.

We got to try out the newest Nautilus machines before anyone else, like in the world, because Nautilus inventor Arthur Jones lived in nearby Ocala. (Yes, I've been a gym rat forever).

So getting back to Darden, he would test out his theories on health club members, and one of those theories was drinking at least a gallon of ice-cold water every day, or superhydration. There are a few reasons why he's so high on water, among them:

  • Your body has to work to get that 40-degree water up to your core body temperature so your metabolism revs up.
  • Pee-pee helps with fat loss by literally flushing it out of your body.
  • And here's my favorite part: Appetite control.

Yesterday was Day 2 of Waterfest, and something absolutely freaking miraculous happened. Something that hasn't happened in ages.

I had no interest in grazing through the kitchen. 

There was no "Hmmm ... what looks interesting?" No random slices of turkey breast finding their way into my pie hole while making my kid's school lunch. No barrage of pistachios eaten at the kitchen counter.

Nope. I walked into the kitchen around 9 last night, stared into the pantry and went "Hmmf. Not interested."

People, this is huge.

I did have a bit of an actual physical hunger signal around 10 and all I wanted was something small to take the edge off, so I had a half-cup of cottage cheese, and that did the trick.

It was like the water drowned out the evening cravings but preserved the ability to feel real physical hunger.

Right now I'm sitting her at 8 p.m. with my final quart bottle of water and I'm still really full from dinner, which was a dish of chicken thighs braised in smashed grape tomatoes, fresh mint, capers and olive oil, with a side of broccoli. It barely cracked 300 calories, but I'm FULL. Like Thanksgiving dinner full.

It's crazy!

Another thing I added to my day was a post-dinner walk, which the dog is loving. That's another Darden suggestion. It's supposed to create "exercise-induced postprandial thermogenesis," ie, more fat burning.

Ideally, you're supposed to walk for 30 minutes while drinking ice-cold water but I'm wrangling a dog who's absolutely AWFUL on a leash so I'll skip the walking and drinking part for now.

All this info plus loads more is in Darden's newest book "The Body Fat Breakthrough" (Rodale, $26.99). I've had the book a few months but just now reached for it when I felt like my weight loss was stalling for no damn reason. 

My meals and portions and meal timing have all been on point, thanks to Diet Free Life, and frankly, Darden's eating plan is extremely similar to Robert Ferguson's, so I don't need to change anything there. I just need to do something different, so I turned to another source of real, commonsense information backed by loads of science. 

There's lots of info on negative resistance training, which I need to dive into, but I'm also working on getting a strength-training plan squared away with a trainer at the gym. I've been doing the "aimless wander" workout too long and need to get a plan.

Tunes for Tuesday: Boneless, by Steve Aoki, Chris Lake & Tujamo

This song makes me giddy. Because I'm a huge baseball fan, I hear it every time we watch a Tampa Bay Rays game. The team uses it in its TV ads. I HAD to know what the song was, but I couldn't find it anywhere online (has no one else been searching for it???). Finally, I sent a message to the Rays' Facebook page and yesterday they replied. Thanks, Rays! You're my favorite (American League) team! The video reminds me of that one time I went skateboarding barefoot and I quickly learned why NOBODY SKATEBOARDS BAREFOOT.

Garden Party

I haven't posted anything since last Tuesday, mostly because I was cranky and stewing over a bunch of stuff.

I stopped stewing today on the rowing machine, when the lyrics to an old song popped into my head:

"It's all right now,

I've learned my lesson well.

You see you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."

To be quite honest, I am not a fan of oldies music. Gotta keep moving forward, no looking in the rear-view mirror -- that's kinda how I feel about music.

Oldies radio stations remind me of old dudes with ponytails and earrings, wearing Tommy Bahama shirts and riding around in PT Cruisers, thinking they're cool. (Apologies to anyone who may resemble that.)

But the song "Garden Party," released in 1972 (I was 10) by former teen-idol (possibly the first teen idol) Rick Nelson, has a cool, timeless vibe to it and the chorus always pops into my head when I need it.

I cranked up the wayback machine and listened to a couple versions of it on YouTube -- the original and a verson from nine years ago, sung by Rick Nelson's sons:

 If you're a regular reader of the blog, you might have been expecting a blog post from my sister today, reviewing the meal-delivery food I made for her last week. But it's not here. I had called and left messages and texted her all weekend to pick up this week's food but she said she wasn't near her phone.

Maybe she'll get back to me about it, maybe she won't -- I just can't stew about it. I need to deal with my own business.

"It's all right now,

I've learned my lesson well.

You see you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."

Another "stew ingredient" -- I wrote a post a few weeks ago titled "Before I can inspire anyone else, I need to inspire myself." Shortly after I wrote that I received a well-meaning email from a relative, and frankly, I didn't know how to respond.

They suggested that I don't stick with a diet long enough to have one work, and, yeah, I have done that in the past, WHICH IS WHY I'M NOT ON A QUOTE-UNQUOTE DIET anymore. They also suggested that maybe I give Weight Watchers a try.

I've been giving Weight Watchers a try for (no lie) 42 YEARS -- that's when my mom signed me up, at age 10, right before my sister's Brownie fly-up ceremony, where I remember I wasn't allowed to eat a cookie because it was "illegal." (Yes, back in the day, foods on Weight Watchers were legal and illegal.) I do know many people who have been successful with Weight Watchers, but I am pretty sure they joined on their own terms and at a later age, when they were able to grasp the methods as adults and weren't "losing weight for Mommy."

"It's all right now,

I've learned my lesson well.

You see you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."

But I'm not just winging it, willy-nilly, though. I'm following the principles of Robert Ferguson and his Diet Free Life. One of Robert's favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here's the full quote:

"As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

The principles of Robert's system are simple -- eat every 2 to 3 hours, balance your meals and keep within a certain caloric range for meals and snacks. Boom, that's it. Trouble is, I wasn't really embracing those principles. I kept fudging around with the timing (eating too frequently and hence MORE) and the amount of food and what I was eating and ... I was making it too complicated and neurotic. I tend to make myself crazy with internal "food rules," and they have never worked. So, as the faux-Australian restaurant chain says "No rules, just right."

So today I reset my intentions and made it easier for me to grasp the principles and to do that I drew a few boundaries so I can make them habits (sometimes you have to draw a few easy boundaries). I'm PRE-planning my meals and snacks, not just half-assed planning them. And eating them in the kitchen, at the table. Not in the den, not in the living room, and not at the kitchen counter out of the bag or box or bowl. And I'm stretching the time between meals and snacks to 3 hours instead of 2. This helps to release glucagon, which promotes the release of stored energy, ie, the extra stuff on your thighs. (That's another little thing I learned from Robert. He's also into maximizing hormones for weight loss.)

ere are my two snacks for later in the day:

Todays snacks

The bowl has some cut-up fruit -- cantaloupe, watermelon and a few grapes -- and that green thing is a Babybel mozzarella. That bowl contains 160 calories of real food.

My evening snack is a chocolate salted caramel Pure Protein bar, which is perfect for when I start haunting the kitchen looking for something resembling chocolate. It's also high in protein so that and a bottle of water should keep me for the night.

I'm already really good at planning my meals -- I have a husband and a teenager, and having all three of us sit down to dinner is important to me. It's MY in-between times, especially at night, not theirs, where things go haywire. So every day, at the beginning of the day, I'll squirrel away my snacks.

I wrestled a little with writing this today because it involves people in my family, and I pretty much never "go there." I also know that they read this blog ("Hi everyone! No need for concerned phone calls or emails! This is why I blog! I'm not suicidal! I'm actually really, really good! It's not about you! It's about me! Love ya!") but this stuff was important for ME to get off MY chest. For me, blogging is an exercise in uncovering layers, and this layer felt like it was Velcroed to me. 

Yes, I know what to do and what not to do.

Yes, I appreciate any and all concern.

Yes, I know that I can't make people do things they might not be ready to do just right now.

(Yes, this unburdening makes me feel fantastic.)

Time for a decorative quote!


image from

"It's all right now,

I've learned my lesson well.

You see you can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself."