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February 2011

2011 Challenge - Week Five

Drumroll please.

I weighed myself (in the presence of a witness - Kevin.) I've lost a total of 5 pounds. So I am now in total tonnage a wonderful 155 lbs. Waist measurement - 37 1/2 inches. Age - Don't say a word!

Eat Less Goal:

Continue with Starbucks Savings Plan. I like the sound of adding $20 bucks to the savings pool. Ka-Ching! Continue with the Great Cheese Intervention - Cheese is not the Snack of Choice. Cheese is allowed sparingly if it is part of the main meal - in a salad etc. No more than 2 slices of cheese. Still need to embrace my inner Salad Bunny. Eat lots of salad, veggies and fruit. Minimum goal of three servings per week for each.

One thing I am noticing from the Photo Food Diary is my snack habits. I need to substitute healthy snack foods with what I am currently snacking on. So instead of my bowl of veggie straws, or other chip like substance - instead I'll substitute a serving of fruit. Groan. Continue with Photo Food Diary.

Move More Goal:

Goal to average 5,000 steps per day. Try and have at least 4 days out of 7 days of at least 4,000 steps. 5 Days out of 7 do The Plank (90 seconds) and The Wall Sit, (90 seconds) for some strength training.

2011 Challenge - Week Four Recap

This week we were blessed with a week of wonderful weather, so I had no excuse not to get those steps in. Also, it suddenly hit me that since my office is located right beside an athletic track on campus, why not take advantage? This week the Move More goal was to average 4,500 steps per day. For the week 1/23 - 1/29 I walked a total of 45,575, and an average of 6,510 steps per day. Highest day was 1/28 (Friday) when I walked 11,021 steps. Lowest day was Monday 1/24 3,314 steps.

For the Eat Less goal I went on a major Cheese Eating Plan! This was extremely difficult to do. I thought not drinking Starbucks every morning was difficult, but not as difficult as cutting down on cheese. I didn't cut it out altogether, I just didn't use cheese as my Snack of Choice. When I down loaded my photo food diary for the week guess what I saw? Hardly any photos of cheese, but lots of salad (ugh, bunny food), veggies (Kevn has been experimenting with different Bean/ legumes type curries - delish), and fruits. I was at Estes Park for work related training Thursday and Friday. I still ate the dessert - who can resist carrot cake or cheesecake? The Starbucks Savings Plan is still going good. KaChing! Add another $20 to the savings pool. 

How do I feel overall? I don't know whether I will ever like bunny food. I don't like lettuce without some sort of dressing. I like salad with some crunch - like nuts or something. But I do feel good. I really like walking, and having a pedometer is a lot of fun.

I am also doing some more reading. The Move Yourself book is good, and has some good ideas. I also got some other books from the library. I got "The 90-second Fitness Solution" by Pete Cerqua, and "Real Food, What to eat and why" by Nina Planck. The Pete Cerqua book has some interesting strength building exercises to add to my next week's challenge.


2011 Challenge - Week Four

For vital stats see the week 3 recap. I am not risking weighing myself again... I'll take whatever encouragement comes my way!

Eat Less:

Maintaining the photo food diary has given me a good visual punch of my eating problems. It's highlighted my cheese problem. (Did I just blog that I dream cheese? - Yikes!) So I need to set some rules for the cheese consumption! So for the Week Four Eat Less Goal I am only allowed hard cheese grated on a pasta dish, IF a pasta dish is The Meal. No cheese snacks, no melted cheese snacks unless the melted cheese is the meal. Cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, feta cheese in salad is okay. No more than 3 slices of cheese if going to use cheese in a sandwich or cheese melt as a meal, and not as a snack!  I think this is going to be the hardest next 7 days. Continue with eating 3 salads, and eat fruit 3 times this week. Continue with the Starbucks Savings Plan.

Move more:

Success at achieving the average of 4,000 steps per day! Now for this week goal is to average 4,500 steps per day.

I have been reading a book called, "Move Yourself, The Cooper Clinic Medical Director's Guide to All the Healing Benefits of Exercise (Even a Little!), by Tedd Mitchell, Tim Church, and Martin Zucker. It has some really great ideas and explanations about how even a little exercise and a little eating right can have enormous benefits. So I am going to take a page (or two) out of this book, to try and slowly increase the amount of activity and try to cut down on the food that is giving me more trouble. I want a healthy lifestyle not a diet.

The other thing that this book talks about is to shed our preconceptions that to be healthy you have to be thin, or lose weight. The big factor is waist measurement. The danger zones (for increased risk of serious illnesses) is weight measurement greater than 35 inches in women, and 40 inches in men. Since I am in excess of 35 inches, (see beginning) I really need to concentrate on reducing the old waist measurement. So I think I am going to start measuring the waist measurement, and use that as the way to track progress. So overall goal for the end of the year is to have a waist measurement less than 35 inches.


2011 Challenge - Week Three Recap

Public humiliation time:

Weight - lost 2 pounds. (Or else my scale is again wonky.) Age - blah! Blah! Blah!

This week I had some success at keeping moving. I have a new pedometer, but I am struggling abit to make sure that the counts are accurate. For the week 1/16 - 1/22 my total step count for the week 38,322. Average step count per day: 5,475 steps per day. Highest day 1/17 with 12,933 steps. Lowest day was Wednesday 1/19 with only 2,773 steps. 1/17 was MLK day and Kevin and I went on a nice long walk around the neighborhood to see some nice Highland cows. Because one of the days this week was an at home day, this is not a usual week when in comes to opportunities for walking.

So I have met my goal of averaging 4,000 steps per day. But since this was an abnormal week, I think it was easy to do. Its amazing what one additional day with a nice hour long walk can do to the step count!

For the Eat Less part of this - I managed to eat three servings of salad this week. I really struggle with this. P1020866

I snapped this above on my desk. I ran out of the dressing, and dry green spinach leaves are UGH!

I had to add servings of fruit. This was a big battle. I guess the banana muffins Kevin made this week don't count as a fruit serving? I had forgotten that we have frozen cherries in the freezer. So today I quickly had two servings of cherries. I need to be better with the fruit.

I have kept up the photo food diary. One thing I am noticing is a lot of this:



I eat a lot of it. I love it. I don't make it part of my meal, I make it part of my snacking culture. I'll eat it sliced, diced, cold, grated, melted. I consume it. I dream it.

Sigh. I have a cheese problem!

I need rules for my cheese problem. 

On a positive note, this week the Starbucks Saving plan adds another $20 bucks for a total of approx $60 in savings for this year.

2011 Challenge - Week Three

Vital stats for this week:

Yet another week older. Will it never stop?

Weight - no change. (I ate three servings of salad this week, and I don't get anything for it! ARGHHH!)

Eat Less Goals:

Maintain photo food diary. Continue with Starbucks Savings plan - no venti chai lattes this week. (Hopefully another $20 bucks into the Starbucks savings plan.) One thing I don't eat enough of and that is fresh fruit, vegtables and salads. I regard this as bunny food, and a complete waste of time. But filling up on junk is not good either. So Eat Less goal for this week is - eat a salad three times this week. Add one fruit serving three times this week. Bunnies here we come. 

Move More Goals:

So I failed at hitting an average of 4,000 steps per day. But since I have invested in a new pedometer I am going to put this goal back on the to do list. So for this week I have to average 4,000 steps per day.

2011 Challenge - Week Two Recap

This week was especially difficult to maintain focus on the "eat less, move more" goals. Firstly I heard that my gran had passed away. I am an emotional eater, so I tend to find comfort in food. I then decided to invest in a brand new pedometer, as I felt that my old one (at least 5 years old) was getting a little dodgy. There are quite a variety of pedometers available on the market, including the fancy Nike gadgets that sync with your iPod. I decided to go for the simple one that simply clips onto your waist band. I didn't want to bother with my iPod at work.

Eat Less goal:

I am maintaining my "bonus" of no venti chai latte's at Starbucks every morning during the work week. So another $20 bucks to add to the Savings Bank. I also managed to eat salad three times this week. (I know it should be more than that, but give me a break, I loathe bunny food, so eating 3 salads this week is HUGE for me.) I managed it, mainly because I had to add tasty crunchy stuff to the lettuce to make it palatable. I used walnuts, and sauted potatoes and non fat salad dressing. It worked, I made my goal.

I continue to photograph everything I eat. It's rather lowering to visually see all that one eats. Beached whale - hello!

Move More goal:

So I am trying to average 4,000 steps per day. I have been recording my steps on my calendar each day. Some days I am quite pathetic, especially when we are glued to the TV watching NFL playoffs.

For the week 1/9 - 1/15 I averaged 3,212 steps per day. The greatest step count I recorded was 1/13 with 8,556 steps. So I still need to work at it. I had 2 days with no steps. Reason for this is that I forgot to put my pedometer on, so I could even pick up a few hundred steps each day.


My Gran

Last week I heard via email, that my wonderful Gran passed away 1/10/2011, at San Sereno Frail Care Facility, in South Africa.

My Gran, Joyce McIntosh, wife, daughter, mother, aunt, but to me, Gran was always Gran. I remember growing up how exciting it was to spend a night at Granny's. She had a small stretcher that we would put up in her room. Gran would tell me stories about when she was a little girl. I had two favorite stories that I would ask her to repeat over and over again.

The one story I absolutely loved went something like this:

To go to school my gran and her sister, Phyllis and brother, Roy were taken to school in a horse and little cart. One morning they were being taken to school when the horse stopped in the middle of the road and refused to budge. No matter how many times the horse was pushed, and coaxed the horse would not go any further. As children they were all thrilled when the horse and cart was turned around. No school for that day! That night an enormous sinkhole opened up in the middle of the road. The horse must have felt it, and saved their lives.

Of course, Gran was much much better at telling this story. She described the horse and cart, and the joy they all felt about missing school.

The other story was even more exciting.It went something like this:

One night my gran was woken up by her mother. They were told to be very quiet, and not to make any noise. They put on their coats and had to quietly go out the back way. There was a mielie (corn) field behind their house, and they had to get down on their hands and knees and creep along in amongst the mielies (corn). It was pitch pitch dark. Suddenly they heard a man cry out, "Master, Master, don't shoot master!"

Eventually they made their way to the mine manager's house. All the time they had to keep their heads down, and be very, very quiet. They kept hearing "ping, ping" as shots were fired overhead. All the wives and children were kept in the mine manager's house, and men with guns guarded them. They all had to sleep under the billiard table in the billiard room. All the children (my gran included) thought that this was a wonderful adventure. Oddly enough, my gran did not report that they felt scared at all.

But most of the time, I loved staying over at Gran's, because we would have wonderful food - food that I would eat (for most of my childhood I had a power struggle going on with my poor mom - I refusted to eat!) And I did not have my pesky older brothers teasing me, or taking attention away from me.

Gran had a wonderful sense of humor, and great sense of the ridiculous. We could tease her, and she would laugh and laugh. I never ever heard her speaking ill of anyone. I wish I could be more like her.

Gran used to drive an ancient old blue mercedes which she called "Henrietta". She even had a special song she would sing when we would drive around in her. I think that the fact that Gran named her cars is something that I still do today. (We currently have a Lizzie, Arnie and a Crystal = all cars.)

I remember a wonderful trip down to Scottburgh that Mom, Gran and I went on. We went to stay at my Aunt Bess's cottage down in Scottburgh. It was close to the beach.  I can't remember whether my brothers came with us, but we had such a wonderful time.

As I grew up, we continued to remain close. I would arrange lunch dates with Gran. And when it got too much for her to drive, I would fetch her and take her on outings. Gran loved her bowls, and her tennis. And of course she played bridge with her bridge ladies for money. (Only pennies, but I loved to tease Gran about her winnings.)

Gran also had an aviary in her back yard that she filled with canaries. When we sat in the garden having tea and chatting, the canaries would sing and sing and sing. To this day, when I see a canary, or hear a canary's song, I always think of my gran.

It broke my heart when I left South Africa in March 2001, and said good bye to her. Gran wrote me a note, telling me that she loved me, and that she understood that I had to make my own way. I still feel as if I had abandoned her.

In 2009 Kevin met her for the first time. I am glad that they had the chance to meet. If I had not left SA when I did, with the love and support of Gran, I would never have met Kevin. It is funny how things work out. 

I wish for many things. But mostly, I wish that I could have been with her when she passed away.

So this is my monument (electronic in true 21st century fashion) to the passing of a wonderful woman. A woman who taught me about kindness, grace, and class. Who showed me that our actions speak to who we really are. A woman who taught me how precious laughter is, and who finally taught me to enjoy who I really am.

My Gran.

Be in peace.

Making Pasta, Making Memories

Last week Kevin decided he was going to make his own pasta (without any pasta making machine.) Kevin has great stories about his Italian grandmother making pasta, and as a little boy he would stand with her watching and helping out. Thanks to the joys of Google, he found a very simple recipe which used all purpose flour (easier to use and recommended for beginners.)

Here's the recipe Kevin found on

1 egg beaten,

1/2 teaspoon salt,

1 cup all purpose flour,

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon olive oil.

Kevin, relying on childhood memories, used the basic ingredients except the olive oil, which he didn't remember his granny using, so we omitted it.

We made the pasta taking it in turns to roll it out. (Quite a work out!) Kevin had doubled the quantities because we wanted to test what it tasted like the next day. We did cook one half of the pasta and ate it immediately. It was delicious. We did not quite like eating day old "fresh" pasta.


After mixing the ingredients together, Kevin rolls it into a stiff dough.


Kevin remembers his grandmother resting the dough with a glass container covering the dough. The recipe calls for covering the dough and leaving for 30 minutes. We halved the amount, and then after much upper body working out, we rolled out the dough, using plenty of flour to stop it from sticking. Kevin remembers his gran rolling the pasta before cutting it.


Here is Kevin following his childhood memory and rolling the dough.


Kevin insisted on the sharpest of our knives (newly sharpened - but that is another story) and started cutting the roll.


After cutting the rolls gently unroll them to prevent sticking. Then let the pasta rest before adding to rapidly boiling water (add salt and cook to al dente.)


 We cooked up some butternut pasta sauce (which Kevin bought at our local Costco.) Delicious!


2011 Challenge - Week Two

Vital Stats:

Weight: 159 lbs. I could see this as a weight loss of 1lbs. But I think my scale may just be wonky

Age: another week older.

Week 2 goals:

Eat less:

While continuing with keeping a photo food diary eat a salad three times this week. (Which is three times more than I usually eat!)

Move more:

Found the pedometer. Now use the pedometer. Count and record steps for the week. Goal: average 4,000 steps per day.

Bonus continued - no Starbucks for the week, an additional $20 savings.

2011 Challenge - Week One Recap

My first week of the 2011 Challenge flew by. I managed to find my pedometer. I found that actually photographing all the food I ate was better than keeping a food diary. I now am working on a collage to remind myself of everything that I've eaten...

Goal one: Eat Less... keep a photo food diary. Done. I think I'll keep doing this. Its a good reminder of all the food I eat.

Goal one: Move more... to walk to the third floor restroom at work, and at home do squats during commercial breaks while watching movies. The extra work out up three flights of stairs worked well. Not so well, the squats during commercial breaks. Firstly with the joys of Tivo, we don't actually watch commercial breaks.

Bonus - no morning Starbucks (venti chai latti.) I saved $20 bucks this week. Yay!