Sunday, November 28, 2010

Decadent Cream of Mushroom Soup (Low Carb)

When the weather gets cooler I start thinking about soup.  I remember when we were kids and would be home from school on a snow day, Mom would cook soup for lunch after we had spent the morning making snowmen and throwing snowballs at each other.  Nothing warms me up like the old soup does. 
I got the idea for this homemade cream of mushroom soup from a conversation on Sugar Free Sheila's facebook page, where someone asked about making the soup from scratch and she suggested sauteeing the mushrooms and adding cream.  And that's what I did!  It is quick, easy-peasy and way worth the few minutes it takes to make.

Ingredient amounts are approximate.  This really is a recipe where you can just throw things in the pan and not worry about measuring anything.
  • 1 portabella mushroom cap or a handful of button mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 or 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

I used a portabella mushroom cap.  Select nice, firm mushrooms.  Clean and chop them while the butter melts in the pan.  Chop or crush
the garlic and add it to the melted butter.  Once it is translucent and starts to brown, add the mushrooms.  Toss them to coat them with butter and go ahead and season with salt and pepper at this point.  Once the mushrooms soften but before they get mushy, add the cream.  Stir,heat through, and serve.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How Was Turkey Day?

I  hope all my U.S. readers had a great Thanksgiving Day.  Mine was fab, a very small family gathering but I cooked turkey and all the trimmings.  I tried this recipe for dessert: Autumn Pear Pudding Cake.  It was ok but I probably won't make it again.  The topping was good and a neat idea but the cake part was definitely cake, there was no confusion about it being pudding-cake.  The topping made a sweet cinnamon-flavored shiny crust, which I am trying to figure out how to incorporate into other recipes.  But clearly I need to try my hand at pie-making for this whole holiday thing.  We have two more Thanksgivings to go to so the fun isn't over yet. 

To everyone shopping on this crazy Friday: Good luck getting your bargains.  Stop by and tell us about the deals you scored! 

Be safe on this holiday weekend, drive carefully and most of all, enjoy your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dress Barn Gift Card Giveaway!

This giveaway has ended.  Thank you for stopping by!

Just in time for Christmas shopping, the wonderful people at Dress Barn gave me a $25 gift card to pass on to my readers. Wahoo!

To enter the contest leave a comment on this post. If you follow this blog you get one extra entry, so please leave a separate comment telling me you’re a follower.

The contest will end at 5:00 p.m. CST Wednesday, November 30, 2010. I’ll announce the winner following that. The winner will need to email me their physical mailing address so I can send the card.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life After GMBT

I’ve had all four sessions and my hypnotherapist set me loose to get on with the process. Last week, the week following my final session, I had the week from hell. I was so busy and every time I turned around there was more to do. I am 100% positive that without the hypnosis I would have eaten every meal last week from a fast-food drive-through and would have turned into a giant french fry. But I didn’t. I brought my lunch to work every day and cooked dinner at home each night. I did have two or three breakfasts from the local convenience store and I bought a few sugary coffee beverages, but I know that things could have been a lot worse. And I finished out the week from hell with a 0.6 lb loss. And you know what? I was happy about it. I made a few poor decisions last week but 85% of the time I was making good decisions about what I put into my body. Two months ago, a week like that might have ended up with a 3 lb or more gain. But not this time. Oh no, this time I lost. So while 0.6 lb may not seem like much to someone else, to me it’s 0.6 lb lost PLUS 3 lb or more not gained. WAHOO! Winner winner chicken dinner!

I also wanted to talk about the cyclical weight fluctuations that women often experience, due to hormone levels and water retention. Without getting into too much detail I’ll say that this past Sunday morning I weighed 4 lbs less than the morning before. And I think many women can relate to the frustration of working and working at weight loss and then having the scale readings dispute their efforts. That’s why I’m only going to post my weight on the progress page monthly, not weekly. And… I should be confident enough to start posting the progress numbers now but frankly, there is a certain number I need to get below before I’m comfortable enough to start posting those particular cold hard facts again. Never fear, it’s only a few weeks away and then I will post my progress from the beginning of the GMBT sessions to the current date. But for the record, in the first four weeks on GMBT I lost 5.6 lbs with no effort at all. So now it’s time for me to start putting some effort into it. And that shouldn’t be hard with all the tools I’ve got on my belt now.

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session Four

This past Sunday I had my fourth and final GMBT session. I was so excited! Julie began this session by providing information, just as she had done in the other three sessions. She told me about different kinds of gastric surgery, and the side effects and risks. The risks range from constant heartburn to lifelong diarrhea to, as with any surgery, possible death. She gave me information on the success rate with gastric surgeries, which actually made me sad. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to take the huge step to have surgery in order to control your weight, only to find yourself gaining the weight back a few years later. And you already had the surgery, so what would your next step be? My heart goes out to anyone in that position.

She talked about the specific gastric procedure that the hypnosis would be mimicking, the adjustable gastric band. A hollow band is looped around your stomach and then filled with saline. The saline makes the band expand so that it constricts around your stomach, leaving room above it for about six tablespoons of food or liquid. Following the surgery you are on a liquid diet for several weeks, and after that can move on to solid foods. She showed me actual video of the procedure being performed, then a computerized animation. And then it was on to the hypnosis!

The big comfy chair I usually reclined on during hypnosis was covered by a sheet. I took off my shoes and laid down. She covered me with another sheet and put a “Mind Band” wristband on my arm. She attached a heartrate monitor to my finger and told me to close my eyes. She began with the relaxation stuff and she used scents this time as well. I could smell the jasmine in the field she was describing. Then she moved on to the surgical part of the session. The music was gone and I heard the hustle and bustle of a hospital in the background as Julie talked. I could smell the antiseptic. I heard a heartrate monitor beeping in the background. She later told me that she observed my heartrate changed to match the recorded one during the session. That is pretty damn cool. She talked me through the procedure and then described a tightness I would feel in my abdomen when I began to overeat. She described an uncomfortable sensation that would appear when I overate but would vanish when I stopped eating. She talked about how I would eat small, sensible, healthy meals. I would eat only when I was hungry and stop when I was full. My weight loss would accelerate now and I would continue to lose at a healthy rate until I reached my goal weight. And then I would stay at that weight forever. Hallelujah!

As always, I woke feeling refreshed, confident and energized. I will miss those sessions. Julie gave me a golf ball with Gastric Mind Band written on it, to remind me of the new suggested size of my stomach, and a 9-inch plate to help me continue to eat smaller meals. She also gave me a binder that contained recordings of each of the hypnosis sessions, plus one recording about motivation and one for relaxation. The binder is also full of helpful information about the procedure, the therapy and weight loss.

It’s only been a couple days since the fourth session. As of that day, four weeks since I started down this road, I lost 5 lbs without even trying. I can’t wait to see how easy it will be to continue to lose. I’m already appreciating the help the hypnosis gives… this evening I was so tired and busy.  I’ve been running on empty for several days now. I had a couple errands to run and no time to go home and fix dinner, so I knew I was going to have to pick something up before I turned into a big hungry grumpy bear. At least, that’s what usually happens when I’m hungry for very long; I don’t think the hypnotherapy was designed to fix that particular problem. So I pulled into a fast food chicken place and ordered a four-piece chicken strip basket. It came with a biscuit and fries. I was S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G! And I was absolutely stuffed after two scrawny chicken strips, the biscuit and less than half the fries. If you know me, you know that I can put away the grub and there was no way a few meager handfuls of food would satisfy me. But it did. I could not eat any more. Well, maybe I could have, but I was as full as a tick (as my grandma used to say) and had no desire to eat any more. I had just experienced a minor miracle. Wow. This is really going to work.

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session Three

I can’t believe I’m almost done with the therapy sessions. There is only one left. I’ve really looked forward to the sessions… working through the food issues, discussing nutrition, and then the oh-so-relaxing hypnosis sessions. But I’m also excited that soon I’ll have completed all the sessions and will be on the road to a smaller, healthier, more fit me!

This past Sunday was my third of four Gastric Mind Band Therapy sessions (GMBT). I walked in the door 4.6 lbs lighter than my first session, two weeks prior, so I was already excited and positive about another appointment. This time my therapist, Julie Gibson, began things by handing me a jar containing one pound of lard. How often do we lose just one pound and are disappointed that we didn’t lose more? The jar was heavier than I thought one pound would be. Julie said anytime I lost a pound I should remember how heavy that jar was. Then we discussed nutrition: serving sizes, label reading, things to be aware of such as sodium in processed foods and the nutritional advantage you usually have when cooking at home instead of eating out. We talked about the basics of weight loss: a pound is 3500 calories, if you cut 500 calories from your diet every day, in theory you would lose one pound a week. Of course there are other variables: your level of activity, hormones, medical conditions, medications, etc. It’s hard to know what causes the occasional plateau, when your weight-loss efforts continue but your weight-loss does not. She got out a huge stack of books that we flipped through and talked about. Some were cookbooks and all were about nutrition. I have a whole new wishlist for the bookstore now!

Then we did the third hypnosis session. After the initial relaxation exercise, I remember that Julie talked in more detail about my goals, motivations and methods for achieving them. She talked about meals and how I would be leaving part of my meal on my plate; I would eat smaller meals and still be satisfied. I had a little tickle in my throat and I coughed occasionally. I didn’t doze off like I had in the first two sessions. But when it was over, once again I felt great! Not euphoric, but positive and confident and refreshed. And I noticed something odd this week… I ate out a couple times and each time I looked down at my plate and realized I had put down my fork after eating exactly half of my entrĂ©e. Freaky! My efforts are still far from perfect, but I don’t expect ever to be perfect. My habits have improved tremendously and I feel great about it. And that positive feeling just feeds into continuing more of the same.

This coming Sunday is the final hypnosis session, where it will be suggested that I had gastric band surgery. I’ve already seen so many differences in my habits with the first three sessions; I wonder how much of a difference the last session will make. Stay tuned!

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And The Winner Is... (Creative Commons-Flickr)
 misscaseylee! Congrats on your $45 gift certificate. Click "contact me" in the right-hand column, send me an email and I will reply with your gift certificate code.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Soon I'll be giving away a $25 gift certificate to Dress Barn. Stay tuned for the beginning of the contest in the next few weeks.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gastric Mind Band Therapy, Session 2

Last Sunday was my second Gastric Mind Band Therapy (GMBT) session.  It's been a busy, busy week and I can't believe it's Friday already and I'm just now posting about it.  But that works out just fine because now I can tell you how the session has helped me over the last week.
During the first GMBT session my therapist, Julie Gibson, did an in-depth interview with me to determine where I've been, where I want to go and the best way to help me get there.  The hypnosis that we finished the first session with addressed just that: what my life will be like if I continue on the path I am on, and what is waiting for me if I change my habits for the better.

I noticed in the week after the first session that my interest in fast food waned considerably and when I had an opportunity to be a little active, I had a little pep in my step.  My weight gain halted and I actually lost almost 2 lbs.

The second GMBT session was on a Sunday, like the one before.  Julie had given me a homework assignment geared toward addressing my motivations, my attitude about my body and resolving some emotional baggage.  We had a long talk at the beginning of this second session, just like at the first one.  We talked about the times in my life when I am more likely to hit the drive-through or overeat or over-indulge: usually when I am stressed or frustrated or very very busy.  We talked about why that was, and about how to handle those situations more constructively, as far as continuing weight loss.  I established a goal weight, which is the 125 lbs that I maintained for over five years, only to start this crazy weight-gain five years ago.  We discussed a goal outfit but I wasn't able to pick one that I really had my heart set on and could picture.  I've been thinking about it this week and might have one for this coming Sunday's session.

Julie gave me a book with calorie, fat and carbohydrate counts for lots of common foods and for many restaurants.  I've used it a few times this week, just to help me be aware of the decisions I'm making.  GMBT is not designed to require you to count calories or points or anything, but to help you make healthy decisions every day, meal after meal.  She also discussed Dr. Daniel Amen's book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body and lent me a copy to read this week.  I'm working on it.  It's an interesting read and makes alot of sense.

We finished this session with hypnosis, which we will be doing in every session.  This time Julie handed me a small black box to hold in each hand, each with a wire going to some small contraption.  She said it was for another specific kind therapy.  The boxes buzz for a few seconds, alternating between the one in one and and the other, and the purpose is to engage both the left brain and right brain in the process.  After the initial relaxation exercise, she talked about my goal, about how some of my weaknesses (hello fancy sugary coffee beverages) are counterproductive to these efforts, about making healthy choices and losing one to two lbs per week to get to my goal, and then she moved into the other portion of this hypnosis session.  She activated the little boxes I was holding, and they started vibrating gently.  She talked about stressful or emotional situations and how they were not going to affect the healthy choices I was making.  I actually have no idea how long the hypnosis sessions last.  I know I dozed off occasionally.  When we finished, once again I was so refreshed and relaxed; I felt wonderful.

I will tell you, I haven't weighed myself yet but this week I have noticed some serious differences in my habits.  Aside from my morning coffee, I rarely want coffee later in the day.  I will think "Maybe I'll make another pot of coffee" after dinner, and then I'll think "I really just want some water."  I've been drinking water and bringing my lunch to work almost every day.  I will have a snack and I won't feel bad about it, but instead of picking up a caramel frappe and a McDouble at McDonald's, I might break out a pear and some peanut butter, or have a snack-size candy bar if  I really want something sweet.  I've been in bed by 10:30 p.m. almost every night and can tell a real difference in my energy levels with consistent sufficient sleep.  All in all, I haven't weighed yet so I have no idea if I've lost any weight this week, but I've been making good decision after good decision.  And it's been easy.  It's as if a little health-fairy is perched on my shoulder, whispering the right choices in my ear.  Don't get me wrong, if I want to make bad decisions nothing is going to keep me from it.  But it is so much easier to make the healthier decision.

My second to last GMBT session is in two days, on Sunday again.  I can't wait to see the changes that will follow this next session. 

Have a great weekend!

FTC disclaimer: Since I am blogging about the experience, the service is being provided at no charge.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Posting Soon

I hope to post about my second Gastric Mind Band Therapy session tonight; things have been crazy here and I have family visiting (yay!) but I will make it a priority.

Have a fab day!