The good, the bad and the ugly…

So it’s been a full five weeks since Joey and I started our fitness program. We’ve made some major progress. But then again, we haven’t followed the program exactly as we are supposed to. Overall, I’d give us a B-.

On the plus side, we have been working out M-F doing our training program. It’s hard work, but fun. The small group setting is perfect b/c it allows us to get individual attention, but also adds the motivation of a group setting. Everyone is really supportive of and encouraging to each other. We went from being sedentary the month prior to staring this, which I think is pretty good. Especially since we have to get up at 5:40 am to make our 6:15 am class!

We’ve also done pretty good with our diet during the week.  At home and work, we have pretty much stuck with the diet without any major problems. I’ve adjusted to having black coffee, missing my morning glass of milk and doing without bread/pasta/rice.  We’ve had plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (thank you SC Farmer’s Market), incorporated fish in our diet and tried new and tasty dishes.

So what’s the problem you ask? Well it’s two-fold I think. One – we picked the worst possible time to start this plan. April/May are full of celebrations (the Wine Festival, Joey’s birthday, Joey’s graduation, Mother’s Day, my Dads’ birthday, etc.)! And celebrations mean food (and not the fresh fruit and vegetable kind). It means eating out, celebratory drinks and ice-cream cake. And I must admit the turtle ice-cream cake from Marble Slab is absolutely delicious! Celebrations with friends and family DO NOT make for ideal dieting.

Two – the weekends.  As I said, for the most part we follow the plan very well during the week. But then comes the weekend. No more routine to follow. No 6:15 am workout.  Instead it’s going out for dinner, baseball and World of Beer. Joey and I love sports. We try to watch just about every Braves game that comes on TV. And it’s hard not to enjoy a few cold ones while you are watching baseball.

Combine said baseball with our new favorite spot, World of Beer, and we are in trouble. If you haven’t been and you like beer, you must go and try this place. They have more than 500 beers in all. Though, I have yet to try one of the bottled beers, because Joey and I stick with one of the 40-50 draft beers. The staff is very knowledgable and will let you sample anything you’d like. And they have tons of HD TVs to watch any sporting event that is on. Basically, Joey and I are like kids in a candy store there.

Saturdays are typically the worst. By then, we are craving a beer and a burger or something (which lead to our first big cheat by the way). At the end of week 3, we caved after going to see USC play an afternoon game and having a few pints at WOB. We ended up at Burger Tavern 77 . Not sure if it was the actual food or the fact that we hadn’t had any bread, cheese, potatoes, etc. for three weeks, but man did we enjoy that burger and fries. It felt as though we completely devoured our food. Someone probably would have lost a finger in they got in our way.

So today we are back at it and hoping to avoid a meltdown this weekend. Say a prayer for us!

Yummy Dinner

Wow, so I started this post almost two weeks ago, but I’ve been so crazy with the Wine Festival madness that I haven’t had time to finish it. Sorry about that.  The Wine Festival is the major fundraiser of my organization each year and this year I had a lot more responsibility over the events. So glad that’s over!! And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Joey and I always say we are going to eat more fish, but then it just never happens.  Part of this is because Joey says he needs to find some recipes to try.  Another reason is because we just didn’t know where to get good, affordable fish. Fresh Market has great stuff, but it’s so pricey. And the last several times we’ve bought fish at Publix it just hasn’t been good (nothing against Publix b/c we love Publix.)

A few weeks ago during a work function we began to talk with a couple about just that. They told us about a place on Decker Blvd. called Cliftons Seafood. So we tried it out this week and hit the jackpot!

Cliftons is certainly nothing to admire on the outside. It’s in a dingy-looking strip mall on Decker, otherwise known as the International Cooridor of Columbia. Lots of great ethnic shops and restaurants are located there.  So we go inside and there are two things you smell immediately – fresh fish, and freshly fried and battered fish.

Clifton’s sells all kinds of fried fish dinner options, but that is obviously not why we stopped in. We wanted fresh fish. And they certainly have that. There you will find whole fresh fish on ice. They had many items to choose from, but the red snapper caught our eye. Caught that morning and lying there looking all fine. So we ordered one red snapper.

They took it to the back and lickity-split they had turned that whole fish into two beautiful filets (with the skin remaining on one side).  And it only costs $10 which I thought was a great price for the quality and quantity of our filets.

We took it home and Joey whipped up a fantastic dinner consisting of blackened red snapper topped with a fresh homemade salsa, stuffed eggplants and sauteed spinach.  Man on man, was it good! It was definitely the best fish we have ever prepared at home (and by we, I mean Joey of course). Joey will probably complain about this picture, b/c of the presentation (i.e. he didn’t get to wipe the plate down before I took it)!

And the stuffed eggplant was excellent as well. This was my first taste of eggplant and I can ensure you this dish will become a new favorite at our house. The recipe came from USC first lady Patricia Moore-Pasticides’ cookbook, Greek Revival: Cooking for Life.  This is a great cookbook. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and it has lots of yummy, healthy recipes.  The eggplant shell was stuffed with eggplant, squash, tomato, onion and garlic.

We will certainly be visiting Clifton’s again for more fresh fish and seafood. Thanks Pat and Susie for the tip!

Pizza, Wings and Ice Cream…Oh my!

We made it through the first week! I gotta say, it was more difficult than I thought. The diet plan is a lot of work – searching for recipes, planning meals, shopping for food, etc.

We visited our brother, sister-in-law and nephew in Augusta this weekend and that took a lot of planning. You should have seen how much stuff we had to take with us! It was like packing with a child. We had to bring our dinner for Friday night. They were having pizza and chicken wings, which were definitely NOT on our plan. So we brought filets, chimichurri sauce, carrots, asparagus and various seasonings and such.

Then for breakfast we had eggs, canadian bacon and fruit. And don’t forget the protein mix and special shaky bottles we just bought from GNC.  Apples, peanut butter and nuts for snacking.  Salad mix and turkey for lunch. And the list goes on.

But despite the temptation, we did great. No pizza, chicken wings or beer for me.  But the worst was probably when they decided to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream. Andrew (my nephew) had to get his sinuses cleared out with one of those netti pot contraptions. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy. So they told him he could have ice cream.

So off we went on the golf cart to the DQ. Joey and I sat outside while they went inside and ordered. Way too hard to actually go inside. But just sitting outside was difficult, seeing the window clings advertising stuff we couldn’t eat and watching people walk outside with their ice cream and blizzards. Oh, how I would have sold my soul for a chocolate dipped vanilla cone!

But we made it through. It feels good to be able to overcome temptations and not give in. I’m hoping to remember that feeling the next time we are faced with a challenge. And I’m ready to kick some booty this week. Stepping up our workouts from 3 to 4 days this week in preperation for starting 5 days next week. Gotta bring our A game!

Three Days Down…

So we’ve made it through the first three days! So far, so good.  It hasn’t exactly been easy. The hardest part has definitely been our diet. The basic premise is a sugar detox for 8 weeks. So no sugar and no simple carbs (bread, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes). Only foods you pick, grow or kill are on the menu.

The reasoning behind this is that our bodies treat all simple carbs as sugar and turns it into quick energy. As long as our bodies have quick energy to use, it won’t reach down into our stored fat to use for energy. During this period we are retraining our bodies to run on the fuel it needs and not what our mouth wants to eat.

So for the next 8 weeks our diet will consist of: lots of veggies, lean protein, nuts, fruit and protein shakes. No simple carbs of any kind. No dairy. No fattening or calorie-laden sauces, dressings or condiments. Sounds good doesn’t it! (insert sarcasm)

Actually, it hasn’t been terrible (though its only been three days, so I may feel differently after three weeks)! The hardest part is lunch. Usually mine consists of a sandwich, homemade pizza, homemade quesadilla, etc. Scratch all those. What’s a girl to eat?

Our workouts Monday and Wednesday were great. I am definitely feeling them as I went to get out of bed the last two days and I almost fell over because my calf muscles were so sore! They are fine when I am moving around, but after sitting or lying for a while, they get tight. Guess that means I need to stay in a constant state of motion, huh? Perhaps that’s the idea…

Today we had our first real test. Joey and I had a meeting with our event planner about the Wine Festival at 1:00.  This turned into a three-hour meeting and then a trip to the location for measurements and layout. Now it’s 5:00, we are starving b/c we missed our afternoon snack , and Joey wasn’t able to go the store and buy the fish and remaining veggies we needed to make dinner.

The first rule of this diet is to plan your meals ahead of time, so you don’t make bad decisions at the last-minute. So we have planned our meals out for the entire week and this throws a wrench in the plan. And if you know me, you know I hate when plans gets messed up. I am missing that “go with the flow mentality.” So what do we do now?

We decided to go to Ruby Tuesday for dinner b/c they have several ‘Fit & Trim’ options on their menu and lots of veggie side items to choose from. We really didn’t want plan to eat out this soon and didn’t know how we would respond to temptation. But we needed to eat, so off we went.

We sat studying our menus for quite a while, just looking at the pictures of yummy dishes we know we couldn’t eat it. Finally I decided on blackened fish, grilled green beans and grilled zucchini. Joey had grilled shrimp, creamed cauliflower and the salad bar (minus all his favorites – ham, cheese, creamy dressing, bacon, pasta salad, etc.) But the true test came after we ordered and our server put this on our table.

Garlic. Cheddar. Biscuits. I had meant to ask her not to bring them, but I forgot. I can usually eat 2-3 of these easy while waiting on my food. I asked Joey, “Should we ask her to take them back?” “No.”

So there they sat calling our names. The smell was incredible, wafting over our noses and sending signals to our brains of how yummy they would be. It was almost too much. Several times Joey reached out, but stopped himself.

I’m proud to say at the end of our meal, our server took back that same plate with all four biscuits on it. SCORE! The first test of our willpower and we passed.  Hooray for small battles won!!

What’s this all about?

My husband Joey and I have a little problem. We love to eat good food and drink good beer and wine. In fact, it’s one of our favorite things to do together. In the 10.5 years since we started dating, we’ve shared many a great meal. Many of those have been in great restaurants both locally and while traveling, but more have probably been at home.

This first picture was taken of us not long after we first started dating. We both look so young and thin! Joey cooked dinner and we enjoyed some wine. Joey loves to cook (thank goodness, because I am no use in the kitchen.) And we love nothing more than a great bottle of wine or a cold beer on a famously hot Columbia day.

But it’s caught up to us. We are both out-of-shape and overweight. We’ve tried several different gyms and programs at this point.  And they’ve all pretty much worked the same way.

We are really motivated at first. We work out and eat healthier which leads to losing weight. And we feel great. But then after a while, we get bored or we hit a plateau and stop seeing any real results. And then we get unmotivated and stop which leads to us gaining the weight back. And then we move on to something else and the cycle continues.

But we’ve reached the point where we are tired of being overweight, of not having any energy, of not liking the way we look or feel. And let’s face it, we aren’t getting any younger. So we’ve decided to start a new program which combines healthy eating and fitness classes.

And this time, I’m convinced to make it stick. So I decided to blog about it. Not because I necessarily think anyone wants to read about it, but because I think it will help hold me more accountable. If I put it out there for the world to see, I believe I’ll think twice before I cheat on my diet or skip working out. At least I hope that’s the case.

This second picture was taken on New Year’s Eve 2011. A slight difference, don’t you think?

So tomorrow starts the beginning of this journey. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be really hard, particularly the diet plan we have to follow for the first 8 weeks.  I’ll talk more about that next week. For now, I’m going to enjoy my last day before it all starts. Wish me luck!