January 29, 2010

J'adore Paris Breakfasts

J'adore?  Hopefully that means I love.  My french is a little rusty from high school, even though that was only like 5 years ago.  Anyway.  A few weeks ago Bernie's cousin Nipper's wife Marija, M'Oprah as I call her of late, blogged about a wonderful little blog called Paris Breakfasts by Carol Gillott. 

I thought, I love France and I love breakfast so why not check it out?   Turns out you can commission your very own water color from Ms. Carol G of a Parisian shop front and she can even put yourself or your dog in the painting.  What the What?  I had to have Cooper immortalized in front of a Paris wine shop.  Duh.  I think the whole process took barely a week.  (The color is a little better in real life than shown here).  I'm thinking of getting a series of these, if I can find the perfect place to put them.  Cooper was even in Carol's blog, what a star!

Merci Carol G!

January 26, 2010

Week 4 - 1 month down!

Below is the percentage of weight loss after Week 4 (this is a running total, not a weekly result). Wow, some people made some big moves this week, I wish I was one of them but I'm hanging in there.  See that pic of our Biggest Loser trainers?  One of my goals is to wear jeans and boots like that - hot! 

My sister Lori came from behind and took first place from Marcy and has gotten over half way to her goal!  Will she keep it or will Marcy make a comeback next week???  Amanda, Michelle - looking good ladies, almost half way to your goals!  I can't wait to see these numbers climb out of the 2's and 3's and get into the 5%-10% range, so exciting.

Keri 1.85%
Marija 1.91%
Karin 3.87%
Carolina 1.54%
Kristy 2.12%
Auntie Ann 4.52%
Jennifer 3.65%
Tracy 2.65%
Danielle 1.41%
Claire 2.59%
LaVerne 3.87%
Jamie 1.05%
Amy S-C 1.28%
Chelsea 1.37%
Marcy 6.23%
Kathy 0.50%
Lori 6.97%
Shannon 3.35%
April ?%
Amy G-S 3.13%
Amanda 4.84%
Michelle 4.44%

Weekly Tip courtesy of Everyday Health:
Focus on Fat
Because it has the highest concentration of calories, cut down on fat intake, and saturated fats in particular — heavy cream, butter, sour cream, and cream cheese — which elevate LDL, the bad cholesterol, explains Barbara Schmidt, MS, RD, lifestyle specialist at Norwalk Hospital and private practice nutritionist in New Canaan, Conn.
Weekly Thoughts courtesy of your teammates/competitors. (sometimes I get a little backlogged, so if you don't see it this week, look for your comments next week.)
To keep me on track to meet my weight loss goal, I am creating motivational rewards along the way. For example, I often find myself talking myself out of going to the gym….I ‘m too tired, too hungry, too busy, too ‘you-fill-in-the-blank’ to go to the gym today. To stop this self-sabotaging talk, I set up a reward system to ensure that I get to the gym as scheduled. My ‘currency’ for going to the gym is a Starbuck’s coffee---iced coffee with sugar free caramel, YUM! So, on my scheduled gym days, I only get my iced coffee if I go to the gym. Yes, the iced coffee is a big motivator for me and is so powerful, I haven’t been too tired, too hungry, too busy, too ‘you-fill-in-the-blank’ to go to the gym . So, if you are having troubles sticking to your plan, define your ‘currency’ (must be diet friendly) and try using this ‘currency’ as a motivational reward.

January 21, 2010

I love you Michael Mina

I went to San Francisco for work this week.  It was cold.  Gray.  Raining.  Miserable.  Yuk.  I left work on Wednesday to stay at the airport since I had an early morning flight.  I decided to drop off my rental and take BART downtown for dinner.  Some people hate the thought of eating out by themselves, let alone at a nice restaurant but WTF, you have to make the best of it.  I carry books or magazines so I don't have to stare into space.  Anywhoo, I just read this huge article on Michael Mina so when I saw RN74 listed in the stupid tourist mag that the concierge had I thought, why not.  I deserve a little Fancy right?

Quite the adventure.  I had to take the rental car back, take the train to the airport to catch the BART (SFO's version of a subway) downtown (uptown?  I don't know).  On the 30+ minute train ride I got to see some young men wearing super skinny jeans and Keds (seriously?); a guy rapping out loud to his very profane music...something about white bitches; a young couple making out like I have never seen in public before; and a crazy girl yelling about some girl that was going to find her and beat her up...everytime she caught her reflection in the window she started talking trash to it.  Then I got off on the wrong stop so I had to walk awhile in the rain following my garmin.  Can you say Tourist?

Back to the restaurant.  If you've never heard of him, Michael Mina is a pretty famous restauranteur, but not in the Food Network, Mario Batalli sense. What I really liked about him when I read the article was not just the food he produces but his commitment to wine.  We all know how I like wine!  The atmosphere was cool.  Kind of modern with fun lighting.  They had orange water glasses that added cool color to the tables.  I couldn't get a table on zero notice but you could eat at the bar, or at some low bar tables or at a communal table. 

I chose the communal table.  They sat me next to the 5 most annoying drunk women ever to be in a nice restaurant.  They had empty drinks from the moment I arrived so I thought maybe they were on their way out.  Nope.  Picture all of the worst traits in Miranda from Sex in the City in hyperdrive times five.  Unmarried for obvious reasons.  Successful women that look down on everyone else.  Superficial.  Like cocky little stockbrokers in skirts.  Geographically challenged New Yorkers.  You get the picture.  Towards the end of my dinner they ordered another round.  They were still there when I left.  Lucky me.

The Menu
Market Greens Salad
with comte cheese and grilled della fattoria bread
Fingerling Potatoes
roasted w/rosemary and sprinkled w/castelmagno cheese
Grilled Prime Beef
on top of a red wine braised short rib w/brussels sprouts, salsify, bacon lardons & chestnuts
Pinot Noir - both from Burgundy & California
surprisingly I liked the CA pinot the best

The salad was simple but so good.  I would have never guessed how satisfying the grilled bread would be. Butter really does make everything better.  The potatoes were perfect.  I don't really like fatty meats but the short rib was so good.  Just a little square of yumminess under two perfect slices of filet mignon.  And brussels sprouts are my new favorite thing, especially when they come with bacon.  And here is the kicker, I salt EVERYTHING so I was a little worried that there were no seasonings on the table.  You don't want to be that person in a fancy restaurant that has to ask for salt or, gasp, ketchup.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This was the first meal I ever had that didn't need salt.  Now I get what they are talking about on Top Chef.  Ah ha!

Was it the best meal of my life?  No.  I don't think you ever have those alone as so much of a good meal or a good wine is the company your with and the experience you are sharing.  Would I recommend it?  For sure!  Michael Mina and his wine director Rajat Parr know their stuff.

And to anyone out there asking if this was a Biggest Loser approved meal?  No, no it definitely was not.  But I got a lot of walking in, if that counts for anything.  Oh, and I didn't eat dessert.  I swear.

January 19, 2010

Week 3!!!

Below is the percentage of weight loss after Week 3 (this is a running total, not a weekly result).  Gave a little shout out to our top 3 - good job ladies, well played!

So, interesting few weeks for me.  I've been working out quite a bit, watching what I eat, counting calories, all the things one should do but with barely any results at all.  So instead of strengthening my resolve and waiting this slump out, I through myself a little pity party.  One might call it a self-sabotaging weekend.  I won't get into all the details, but pizza and wine were involved on 3 different evenings.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  If you're doing really well and seeing results, or working out a lot, you don't want to do anything to jeopardize all your hard work so you do even better, say no to the evil cookie and such.  BUT, if you're not seeing instant results, then you go eat a cheeseburger and fries?  I mean, why does it matter anyway since you ate good and worked out and didn't lose any weight, so you might as well have the cheeseburger right?  Stupid.  I know it's stupid, yet it still happened.  Actually, it didn't "happen", I made a choice.  Oh, and as if I didn't feel bad enough, I still lost weight.  As if my body were saying, Fu@# You Keri, you think you know me but you don't. 

Keri 1.43%
Marija 1.53%
Karin 2.76%
Carolina 1.54%
Kristy 0.64%
Auntie Ann 4.52% (who says age matters?  the most "experienced" of our competitors is kicking all but two of our asses!  go Meema!)
Jennifer 3.06%
Tracy 1.52%
Danielle 0.31%
Claire 2.27%
LaVerne 2.40%
Jamie 1.58%
Amy S-C 0%
Chelsea 1.72%
Marcy 6.85% (over half way to her goal, and our winner 3 weeks running!  Did I mention she has 3 young daughters at home?)
Kathy 0.50%
Lori 4.85% (my sister, not too shabby!)
Shannon 3.35%
April ?%
Amy G-S 2.78%
Amanda 3.23%
Michelle 3.89%

Weekly Tip courtesy of Everyday Health:
Add Some Weight to Your Workout  
The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism, and the faster your weight loss, explains Schmidt. Experts suggest adding two sessions of targeted weight training to your weekly fitness program through either free weights, resistance machines, or exercises using Therabands. Try Dr. Apovian's favorite: Do lunges from one end of the room to the other as you use hand weights to work biceps and triceps.
Weekly Thoughts courtesy of your teammates/competitors. If you have anything you want to share with the group (any ah-ha moments, inspirational stories, healthy tips, etc.), send it to me with your weight next week and I'll post it in this section.
I stepped on the scale two weeks ago and saw the highest number I've ever seen. I figured since I'd been a good 15 pounds lighter just a few months earlier, the weight would just melt right off with a few simple changes in my diet and hopping back on my elliptical. So I revamped my diet, started exercising regularly, and committed to cutting out alcohol during the week. I stepped on the scale last week expecting at least a two pound loss but my weight stayed the same. I re-committed to my diet and increased my activity level for week two. I stepped on the scale and expected enough of a loss that it would make up for the previous week. I lost a pound. Barely. I realized what I did not commit to was changing my attitude towards myself and how I handle stress- I have been allowing stress to get in my way and be my excuse to eat, relax rather than work out, drink, and just keep the weight on. I let stresses at work and my personal life impact my health. I'm now committing to not only a healthy body, but a healthy mind. NOW I expect the weight to melt off, but I also know a change this big will take time.

Thanks for putting this together, ker, and for inspiring me by giving me tips, being honest, and forcing me to be honest with myself. The reality is that I can't do this by just eating better and exercising- it's not that simple for me. I need to be active every day, count my calories religiously (and honestly!!) and get my head straight before I can expect any results. and just because I don't see results doesn't give me permission to eat or relax, which I've also done in the past. I often look for the reasons to not do something- if my weight is down I figure I can relax, if my weight is up I figure there's no point in working out. Gotta grow up, I guess. It's about time.
The quote above was NOT from me, funny how we all struggle in the same ways. 

So, what kind of choices did you ladies make this last week?  As with most weeks, some took a step back, some stayed the same, some are getting closer and closer to their goals and some ended right back at where they started.  What kind of week are you going to CHOOSE to have in week 4?

January 15, 2010

Calling All Designers!!!

I'm in the process of starting to work with a bona fide designer on our dining room and parlor but we have a few rooms that still need their very own colors.  I say we, but it is really just me that thinks this.  Bernie thinks everything is just fine the way it is.  So, shhh, don't tell him we have more painting to do.

I thought it might be fun to post some pictures and get suggestions.  Maybe I'll end up with something fabulous that I wouldn't have considered on my own.  Plus, I've already painted 6 rooms and I think I've used every bit of creativity I may have had.  And won't it be fun when I post the final results and you picked the color???  I may be lame, but it sounds like fun to me.

Master Bath.  Currently a shade of the peachy yellowish color that was throughout the entire house.  White fixtures, white door, white trim, brushed nickel hardware, and a warm tan natural stone on the floor and in the shower.  Perfectly fine, but very blah.  Nothing special here.

Spare Bedroom.  It's pink, gag.  Enough said.  White trim, small room, wood floors.  What would you do in this little space?  Eventually we want to get a bed in here for Grace and Eve and anyone else who may visit.

Basement 3/4 Bath.  Currently this room is small with a white door, white trim, white fixtures, brushed nickel hardware, and a black built-in cabinet and mirror.  The floor is (gasp) white/black linoleum.  Outside this room is our basement living room with light green walls with tan carpet.

 So, any ideas?  Come on, help a sista out.

January 12, 2010

Week 2 Results

Below is the percentage of weight loss after Week 2 (this is a running total, not a weekly result).  Can I just say holy crap Marcy?  WTF girl?  Awesome.  And the rest of you biatches, I mean ladies, aren't doing too shabby either!  Moi on the other hand...I have some serious catching up to do.  

Keri  1.18%
Marija 2.29%
Karin  2.21%
Carolina 0%
Kristy 1.48%
Auntie Ann 2.58%
Jennifer 3.06%
Tracy 1.52%
Danielle 1.10%
Claire 0.65%
LaVerne 1.78%
Jamie 0.53%
Amy S-C 1.28%
Chelsea  1.41%
Marcy 5.30%
Kathy 0.5%
Lori 3.84%
Shannon  2.60%
April 0%
Amy G-S 3.13%
Amanda 2.15%
Michelle 2.22%

Weekly Tip courtesy of Everyday Health.
Stop Stress Eating 
Use behavior modification to keep you from reaching for the cookies when you get anxious. "Try activities that aren't compatible with eating, like knitting, playing piano, and painting," suggests Schmidt. When you're tempted between meals, she suggests looking at your watch and asking yourself, "Is it my time to eat?" If not, grab the paintbrush. The problem with between-meal nibbling is the chain reaction it starts: We take a bite of a candy bar, feel guilty about it, and then eat the whole thing! Because stress eating is often done on the fly, Apovian says to abide by the following mantra: If you cannot enjoy every bite and eat slowly, it is not worth eating.

Weekly Thoughts courtesy of your teammates/competitors. If you have anything you want to share with the group, send it to me with your weight next week and I'll post it in this section.

This week we have some simple tips that your teammates use when their resolve is low:
  • feel like snacking?  brush your teeth.  no one likes to eat with clean teeth.
  • want dessert after dinner or have the munchies?  have hot decaf tea.  I just bought coconut cocoa tea - yum.
  • didn't get your workout in yet you're sitting in front of the tv?  drop and give me 20.  as in 20 push ups, 20 crunches, 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 dips....you can get a good workout in during your favorite show using your own body weight. 
  • night time munchies screwing your plan?  paint your nails.  can't put your hand in that bag of chips with wet nails.
  • ask yourself not just if you want the cookie, but do you need the cookie?  think things over, be mindful
  • lastly, be accountable.  you get some of that here, but maybe not enough.  tell your husband, tell your kids, ask for their support.  get your coworkers on board.  keep a journal and be accountable to yourself - I won't eat something because I know I'll have to write it in my journal and then there is no denying it.
Now what's your excuse?  Oh, don't have one?  Good.  Keep working hard!  I'm expecting some big results next week.

January 5, 2010

Week 1 Results....drum roll please!!!

Congrats to everyone who chose to challenge themselves for the next 12 weeks!  I'm so inspired!  On a personal note, I've come to the realization that it is pretty much impossible for me to quit or slack off when I'm leading 21 other women - that's a good thing, scary, but good!  We had mixed results - some people kicked major butt (4-5lbs), most of us had at a very respectable 1-2 lb loss, some people are still on vacation so no results this week, and some I didn't hear back from so I'll catch up with you next Tuesday.  It looks like Marcy is our big winner for the week - awesome job!

Below is the percentage of weight loss after Week 1, in no particular order...

Keri   1.1%
Marija   1.53%
Karin  .55%
Carolina   0%
Kristy   0%
Auntie Ann   2.58%
Jennifer   1.18%
Tracy   0%
Danielle  .47%
Claire   0%
LaVerne   2.09%
Jamie   1.05%
Amy S-C   2.56%
Chelsea   .78%
Marcy   3.43%
Kathy   .5%
Lori   0%
Shannon   .37%
April   0%
Amy G-S   1.39%
Amanda   1.61%
Michelle   2.22%

Some interesting facts about us 22 women: 11 Michigan Tech Grads, 2 University of Phoenix grads (at least), 3 Pepsi employees, 1 actress, 1 brand new yoga instructor, 2 mother-daughter combos, 4 members of my family, 18 mothers (with at least 33 kids by my count).
Weekly Tip courtesy of Everyday Health. There are 12 of these in all so I’ll post one a week – they are so good I wasn’t sure which one to post first!  This first tip is one I follow religiously by using a journal to track my meals, workouts, and weight.  It allows me to easily see trends - good ones and bad ones - and make adjustments.

Jot Down Your Diet
Take a few minutes every weekend to map out your daily diet for the coming week. With a checklist format, you can tick off each item as you eat it. "It's important to track calories if you are watching your weight," says Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston University Medical Center. Adds Schmidt, "Keeping a record makes you aware of what you're eating and makes you a student of your habits, to keep you on course and prevent unconscious eating. Keep an exercise record, too."
Weekly Thought courtesy of one of your teammates/competitors.  If you have anything you want to share with the group, send it to me with your weight next week and I'll post it in this section.
Ok here are my thoughts for this week. I realized that until I was forced to weigh myself, I've been living in oblivion. We don't own a scale, because I always just based my weight on how I feel in my clothes. I was able to fool myself into thinking I hadn't gained weight. Time to pay the piper and create better habits. Making time to do it seems insurmountable, but I've been feeling pretty bad about my body for like oh I don't know 2 years, so it's time. Thanks Keri!
For those of you who are Über-serious and need more information, check back here.  If you watch the Biggest Loser you know the curse of Week 2 - we'll have to work extra hard this week to keep moving forward.  Bring it on ladies!!! 

p.s. did you take a before picture?  You're going to want one when this is all done!

January 1, 2010

Buon Anno Nuovo 2010!!!

2009 went out with a bang!  After sleeping through my scheduled workout, I decided a day of pampering was more approriate.  I took a bath in our claw foot tub, got a mani and a pedi (note to the ladies, my new favorite polish is a gray by OPI called You Don't Know Jacques, delish), got my hair cut and colored (yes, I pay $ to dye my brown hair browner), then went out for a late fancy schmancy dinner with my honey.  Bernie had an equally indulgent day, spent in bed with the dog.  A late night concert the night before reminded him that indeed, he is no longer 22.

 For the very first time ever we went out on New Year's Eve.  We went to the Barolo Grill.  magical.  Barolo is a northern Italian restaurant near our house and I had been wanting to try it for quite some time.  They had a valet, and a perky coat check girl, and the owner, Blair Taylor, greeted us at the door. fancy.  Everyone was so happy and welcoming and happy new year greetings were shared by all.  Prosecco was poured.  Fun was had.

We had a 5-course prix fixe menu and I opted for the wine pairing (duh).  As usual, Bernie and I made completely different choices.  It's hard to describe this menu in a reasonable amount of words so I will tell you about our first course, which by far was my favorite.

For the antipasti Bernie had the Carpaccio di Tonno ~ blue fin tuna carpaccio with uni dressing, shaved foie gras, micro greens, black truffles & balsamic.  For moi, Maiale con Radice di Sedano ~ pork belly with celery root puree, caramelized pears & a port reduction sauce paired with a Lagrein wine called Spiegel from Caldaro, 2005 Alto Adige.  I've never heard of the Lagrein grape before but I will be heading out tout suite to find this wine and make it mine.

Such an evening.  We might just have to consider this place ours.


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