To Weigh In or Not …

With respect to my last post, I shall continue on the subject of healthy cooking, specifically with my own attempt on healthier living. Thus, this post will become a highly personal narrative, all about me and my current struggle to loose some weight, while continuing to eat well and remaining my customary, sedentary, geeky self.
Most women I know are either blissfully tiny, gregariously rotund are forever dieting. Hardly any female, I’ve ever encountered has been oblivious to her weight and shape – until I moved to Costa Rica. Ticas are different. They may suffer similar insecurities as their Norte Americano sisters, but they certainly don’t show it! Woman of all ages and shapes flaunt their curves and embrace their physical manifestations. Despite a great dedication to fitness, as evident in numerous early morning joggers and packed zumba classes, women there experience the same changes in their shapes, as we all do over time. Since the country enjoys a year-round warm climate, the dress code for females is rather relaxed. Independent of individual body shape, trust me, you’ve never seen tighter jeans, higher healed sandals and more revealing tops than in Costa Rica. But it’s all par for the course. No-one comments, jeers or cheers. It is what it is, women liking who they are. Simple, isn’t? Yet oh so difficult to achieve.
My personal problem lays in flat stomach esthetic. I can’t tolerate to look at my bulging belly. The sad truth is, my self-perception is stuck at age 25. My youthful, slim, toned self at it’s prime. Yikes, there’s no way to live up to that daunting image. I’ve avoided mirrors and scales long enough, it’s time to act. And speaking of scales, I just received my new ultra slim and sleek, stainless steel, electronic kitchen scale from Robert, our UPS driver. Now, we have at least one slim item in the house!

I’m not proposing to starve myself, I love eating too much for that nonsense, neither do I want to change what I eat. My preferred foods are already considered pretty healthy choices. Largely Mediterranean in nature, I love to feast on everything made of olives, from oils to tapenades, everything made from goats- or sheep milk, be that kefir or feta and I eat loads of vegetables. Unfortunately, most of my favorite food are very calorie rich! And I adore bread. Freshly baked, crusty, yeasty bread … for the time being, no longer allowed.

Tonight’s dinner will not be much different from past dinners. We’re going to have Tilapia marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic paste, cilantro paste, honey, ground black pepper and roasted poblano pepper. The marinade will then be used as a topping. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I think so, too.

The difference to previous dinner preparations is the weighing and measuring. I’m usually more of an intuitive cook. Having spent so much time in laboratories, thinking in micro increments, keeping careful logs of every step in the process, it’s a relief to just add a pinch of this and a handful of that. But no more! Since calorie counting and exercise are the essential bases for weight loss, I started to keep a running tally of everything I eat. Boring …. not! I’ve got my smartphone by my side now! My dear husband gave me an iPhone 5 for Christmas and there are the most helpful, free apps available, you could ever imaging. On January 16, I started using MyFitnessPal to help me with portion control. After you input personal information, including weight loss goals, your pal puts you on a daily calorie allowance. Then you enter every darn bite you swallow during the day, either by calorie, by type of food plus amount, by recipe, by manufacturer, restaurant chain, by whatever information you have. It is daunting at first, to see how quickly these evil calories add up, but you learn just as quickly, how to become smarter about your food intake. For example, because I prefer to have sugar and cream in my coffee, I now season the (16oz) pot with the same amount of half-and-half and sugar that I previously used per cup. The flavor is virtually identical, but my caloric intake is halved.

Using my new scale, I now have to weigh everything that is going into your recipe. So, returning to the marinated Tilapia dish, all its ingredients have to be carefully calibrated and recorded, including the fish itself, naturally! And don’t forget those side dishes, baked sweet potatoes, with a honey, ginger and lemon dressing and steamed cauliflower with a dusting of powdered ginger and a sprinkle of lemon pepper – zero calories for those spices! You get the idea, it’s really a bit of a chore to keep track of everything you utilize for your dishes – time consuming, too. You got to play competitive games with yourself, how can I make it the most flavorful with the least calories added? Look at it as an adventurous treasure hunt to greater health and wellbeing.

Have I mentioned that I love to eat? One trick I use to beef up my portions, is adding lettuce, which I enjoy to eat in all it’s variety. Lettuce has very few calories, one can safely and happily eat huge amounts of it. I like to use it as a bed for all sorts of cooked, high calorie items. Radicchio is a type of lettuce I really like, usually mixed with greens. Tonight, it made a great bed for my five ounces of Tilapia, increasing my fish portion visually.

This heaping dinner plate of goodness comes in at 380 calories, including the excessive number of capers (I’m nuts about capers, Barry got melted cheese instead). That’s a big dinner with a lot of flavor and crunch, but low in calories. I keep the cauliflower undercooked, as a contrast to the moist and succulent fish, because I like to experience a variety of textures.

Next post, I’ll tell you all about another helpful app for tracking calories. 

2 thoughts on “To Weigh In or Not …

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