Sunday, November 22, 2015

What I Cooked | Cooking Light Diet

This month Todd & I signed up for the Cooking Light Diet (CLD).  Cooking Light Diet is an online membership diet meal-planning program by Cooking Light.  Since Todd and I have subscribed to Cooking Light magazine for years and have cooked many many Cooking Light meals, we thought this would fit into our current lifestyle just fine.  I signed up for three months and it was $29.95.  Each week you get a meal plan for all seven days which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  Breakfast is usually 300 calories.  Lunch is usually 400 calories, and dinner 500 calories.  The snacks usually add up to 200 calories.  For my weight-loss goals, it aims for 1400 calories per day.  You can click on which meals you want to make, and the website will generate a shopping list for you.  Also, most of the meals take 30 minutes or less to make.  Todd & I cook together and it comes together really fast.

Our first week with the CLD meal planning, I realized that I don’t need the breakfast, lunch, and snack planning.  The reason is, your shopping list becomes HUGE because you’re eating a little bit of many different things.  This promotes wasted food.  I didn’t like that.  I don’t mind eating the same basic things for breakfast and snacks everyday.  Since there are only two of us, our lunch everyday consists of leftovers from the night before.  So really, I only need dinner planning!  Realizing that has made the shopping list much easier to handle. 

Here are some of the dishes we have cooked so far.  I’ve also added them to my “Stuff I Cooked” Pinterest board. 


Linguini with Basil Pea Cream

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This one was not my favorite.  This dish has too much peas and basil, making it really sickly sweet. If I make it again, I would use a lot less peas and somewhat less basil.  More garlic!


Superfast Chicken Posole

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It really was fast, and actually quite good. The bitterness of the radishes compliments the sourness of the tomatillos and lime juice.


Pan-Roasted Chicken Cutlets with Maple-Mustard Dill Sauce

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The chicken sauce was slightly too sweet, but it was pretty good.  We served it with green beans instead of rice.


Tofu Curry with Bok Choy and Peanuts

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This was probably my favorite out of the Cooking Light Diet dishes I’ve cooked so far.  It was super-fast and easy. Used regular bok choy instead of baby bok choy. Great vegetarian meal.


Loaded Mashed Potato Soup

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This dish sounded good but didn’t really taste good.  The potato soup tasted too sour to me.  Plus, my soup looked nothing like the one pictured on their website.  Their soup looks like it has cream in it, since it’s so white. 


Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta

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We’ve actually made this dish before, but since it showed up in our menu this past week, we decided to make it again.  We hadn’t had it in years.  This was super-fast and so yummy. 


I just wanted to share my personal experience so far with the Cooking Light Diet.  I like that you get to pick from its suggestions and that meals are planning for you each week.  But I’ve found that we only use it for dinners, which is fine.  Even though I’ve been on a “diet” for two months, I haven’t really felt hungry, which is good.  I’ve lost about 5 lbs, with a goal to lose a total of 15 lbs.  But diet is just one part of being healthy.  I am also exercising quite a bit, and getting over 10k steps in each day.  Making progress!

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Inspired By: The Long-Form Interview

As I said in my last blog post, I have been taking walking breaks at work every day.  Every couple of hours, I get up out of my chair and head outside to walk for 15 minutes.  It has done wonders to clear my head.  Taking in the fresh air and just have some time to step away and think.  I’ve added listening to podcasts to the repertoire now.  I can’t listen to podcasts while I work, because my work demands a lot of thinking, so I can’t even listen to music with words most of the time.  But podcast + walking has been my jam the last two months.  It has made my walking breaks something I REALLY look forward to.  What could be better than getting some steps in while being entertained or learning something?

I listen to different types of podcasts, but the one type that has been really inspiring me right now is the long-form interview.  It’s one where the guest sits down with the host and talk for a long time (40 min to 1.5 hours) about his/her work, how they became who they are today, what lessons they’ve learned, etc.  I find the long-form interview absolutely fascinating and inspiring.

Here are a few specific podcast episodes that I just love:

  • Off Camera – Episode 17 Matt Damon – I found this interview completely riveting.  Some people don’t know what they want to do with their life until they are in their 30’s.  Some people know as a kid/teenager what they want to do, and they doggedly pursue it.  I found it fascinating how Matt Damon basically willed himself into an acting career by not having a Plan B and never giving up.  I also learned a lot about what it’s like to be in movie productions, and what it’s like working with great directors. 
  • The Nerdist – Episode 610 Benedict Cumberbatch – The Nerdist is one of my favorite podcasts.  I’m always entertained by it, and learn a lot from famous actors, musicians, writers, etc.  This episode with Benedict Cumberbatch was just a fantastically fun episode! Plus, you get to hear Benedict Cumberbatch say, "Enjoy your burrito", and make various fart noises.  What could be better?
  • WTF with Marc Maron – Episode 652 James Cordan – James Cordan is my new favorite late night TV host.  I love his fresh take on late night TV, including singing and dancing skits, and having all his guests appear at the beginning of the show and sit on the couch together so they can all chat together.  I also loved him in the movie “Into the Woods”.  He is a breath of fresh air in late night TV.  In this episode he talks about how he came to be the host of the Late Late Show with James Cordan on CBS.  If you haven’t seen James Cordan’s carpool karaoke with Stevie Wonder, or his skit Matt Damon Acts Out His Film Career with James Cordan, you’re really missing out on some fun stuff.
  • The Nerdist – Episode 732 Shirley Manson – I was a big Garbage fan from the mid-90’s to the mid-2000’s, so this interview with Shirley Manson was quite awesome.  The coolest thing she said was that we need to “engineer adventures”.  She said when you're young, everything is like an adventure and you tend to say "yes" to everything.  When you get older, you get comfortable and you start saying "no" to things that might make you uncomfortable.  She said she you get older you need to engineer adventures for yourself.  Basically say yes to adventures and make them happen.
  • Fresh Air – Interview with Shonda Rhimes – I’m always fascinated to see how someone in a field different than mine works.  Shonda Rhimes is the creator of the shows “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”, and “How To Get Away With Murder”.  I enjoyed her take on leaving work at work, and how she said “yes” for a year to everything that scared her.

Some of these above podcasts have swearing in them.  If you are easily offended by swearing, they may not be for you.  I found all these interviews really eye-opening and educational.  Even though they are mostly in the entertainment field, I was able to glean lessons that apply to my own life.  My own re-invention of myself.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Re-Inventing Myself

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The last few months have flown by and now it is the beginning of November.  I’m not going to apologize for not blogging, because it’s my blog and nobody is paying me to blog, so I can blog or not blog whenever I feel like it.  (Not trying to be rude.  It is what it is.  I do appreciate that anyone reads this blog.)  Life has been so full the last few months.  Last week I FINALLY got my braces off, after 21 awful months with them on.  My teeth are now free!  (See photo above.)

I’ve been taking a break from scrapbooking since mid-July.  I did one project in September and that was about it.  I’m done with all my design team responsibilities except for One Little Bird, where I am still the hybrid blog coordinator.  (I can’t really quit Peppermint since she’s one of my very best friends, ha ha.)  My scrapbooking hiatus has been especially refreshing.  I’ve been scrapbooking non-stop since 2008 and I just really needed a break.  This is especially true since the last 3-4 years I have been creating for design teams.  I was spending most of my weekend free time making pages for other people.  I woke up one day and realized they don’t pay me except with product that I can afford myself.  Why am I doing this??  Unless it gives me great joy, I’m not doing it.  This is not to say I’ll never join a design team again, but my focus will be creating for myself and what I want to create and document, rather than doing it for a team.  If a team is a good fit for me, I would certainly consider it.  But for now, I’m still on my break.

During the time that I wasn’t scrapbooking or blogging, a TON of my time was freed up to do other things.  I really couldn’t believe how MUCH of my time was spent on scrapbooking assignments and blogging about them.  Like, much of my week nights and weekends were freed up!  It allowed me time to read books, to go to the library, to enjoy more social time with friends, to get off the internet, to watch movies and TV, and to generally think and evaluate on my life.  I really enjoyed doing all of those things.  But guess what?  When I really thought about my life as it currently stands, I didn’t like some aspects of it.  I decided that it’s never too late to re-invent myself, so I wrote down some plans to do so. 

For instance… my plans for my career were to eek out the next 10 years in my financial analyst job, retire early, and then find a part-time job for social interaction and some income.  In my life evaluation I decided that’s not the way to live my working life.  It is NEVER too late to make a change.  Either I can change the way I feel about my current job and love it again and be re-invigorated by it, or I can go find myself another job.  There’s no rule that says I have to stay in this same job.  It really freed me up mentally.  Like, I can choose to love my current job, or I can find something else.  Financially I am not trapped.  I can even quit and not work for a while and we can get by.  So this mental shift really helped me to clarify that.  Funny how you can love your job a lot more, just knowing that you have other options!

I’m also concentrating on eating well and daily exercising.  You wouldn’t think it, but this actually takes up a lot of my time every day and takes quite a bit of mental energy.  I decided that I am worth it.  I am worth the hard work to be in good physical shape in my mid-40’s!  I had gained about 10 lbs and I didn’t like how I was feeling physically and emotionally about myself.  That’s not to say I hate my body.  But my mental shift is that I feel that it is my privilege and my duty to take care of my body and be the best that I can be.  Both for myself and for those that love me.  I am treating this like a job, as if someone is paying me to do it.  As if I am an actor, getting in shape for the role of my life.  And in a way, I am.  I don’t want to be the middle-aged person who gained a few pounds and just let it go.  Then gained a few more pounds.  Then gained a few more.  And suddenly realize I’m way overweight and it’s even tougher to do something about it then.  I’ve lost about 3 lbs in the last few weeks by eating well and eating a bit less.  I’ve also been consistently getting 10,000 steps in each day.  I used to sit at my desk all day while working.  Now I get up 3-4 times a day and walk a mile each time.  I also try to get about 30 minutes of real exercise in the morning before going to work.  It’s my life, it’s my body, I’m committed to this.

There has been so many things that have been revelations once I opened up my mind about what it is I wanted more in my life and what I want less of.  The main core of my life hasn’t changed, obviously.  I still love my family and Todd and Noodle.  But I’ve realized that just because I am 45 doesn’t mean that my life is set for the rest of the way.  I CAN change what I don’t like about it.  For instance, I CAN be a more positive person and go into things with better attitudes.  Just trying this out has made everyone react more positively towards me.  And it has made all my social interactions way more fun!  Another one of my goals is to make more friends, and also cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships with the friends I do have. 

Now you can see why I have been away from the internet for a while.  I am in the process of re-inventing myself.  I will share more as time allows.  And funnily enough, the life re-invention was kicked off by my obsession with the book “The Martian”, and now the movie too.  (I’ve seen it twice in the theater.)   It’s weird how when you are ready for a life lesson, something like “The Martian” can trigger it.  My new motto is “What would Matt Damon do?”.  But that a story for another time.

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