Why I’m Limiting My Holiday Cheer This Year

It’s not often that I talk about alcohol here on NTTC, but considering my weekend and considering the holidays are just around the corner, I wanted to talk about it.

Confession:  I don’t really like drinking.

To begin, I don’t drink very often.  I just don’t.  On most nights out with friends, I am responsible for driving myself… so, it’s just not a good idea.  Having a glass of wine at home?  That doesn’t really happen either.  While I’m sure many of my NTTC meals would pair well with a lovely glass of wine, I usually don’t feel like it.  I really just crave water on most days…

Wine | No Thanks to Cake

But… there’s something inherently social about consuming alcohol… when I get together with friends and family, that’s when I’ll pour a glass.  And, at Christmas time, my parents and I start opening the wine around 5pm most days… it’s just become a thing we do.

In addition to being a total lightweight when it comes to booze, I also live a mile above sea level.  If you’ve ever spent time at higher elevation, you may have noticed you’re a cheap drunk.  Allegedly, consuming one drink here in Colorado can feel more like you’ve had 2 or 3, which makes it a little dangerous.  Fitbloggin friends who will be here next year, take note!

Cosmopolitans | No Thanks to Cake

And, I kind of hate being drunk… When regular life things need to be done, being drunk and/or having a hangover really get in the way… This weekend, I got together with friends and was poured a magically endless glass of wine.  I doubt I had that much wine (see lightweight comment above,) but I was certainly over-served.  My sleep was impacted… I woke up exhausted, and not as sharp as I like to be on a busy Saturday.  And, completely dehydrated.

Thankfully, I wasn’t painfully hungover the next morning, but through this process, it has me once again thinking about my drinking habits and how they align with my health goals.  

In reality, drinking does not belong in my healthy living plan.  For example, the average 6 oz. glass of wine clocks in at about 150 calories… for something you drink!   A 12 oz. light beer will cost you about the same.  Drinking hard alcohol really varies quite a bit, depending upon what kind of mixer you’re using…

Beer | No Thanks to Cake

Bottom line:  We’re talking 150 calories for a BEVERAGE.  And, once you have one, you’re likely to consider a second, and depending upon the night, a third, a fourth… and for some reason, then you get hungry… and suddenly it’s a calorie explosion.  As I explain this process, I realize that it sounds a lot like a food binge from a calorie perspective, which is something I work to avoid.

All of this has me thinking about the holidays and how I want to handle drinking this year… and, I think it’s time to make a change. Just like that… I’ve decided to become a single beverage lady.

Yes, I’m officially a one wine woman.  A single spirit sister.  A no-refill Nancy.  This is happening…

Why I'm Limiting My Holiday Cheer this Year | No Thanks to Cake

I say this today, fresh from an overindulgent weekend in the booze department, but it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while.  I recognize it will get extra tricky over the holidays, but I think it’s important.  And, if I can do this during the holiday season, I am unstoppable.

I fully expect that my decision to limit alcohol this season will be greeted similarly to how my healthy eating plan went.  There will be tons of support by most, and others will think I’m a spoilsport, a grinch, a party pooper, etc… but it’s the right thing to do for my body, for my health, and to assure I can capture all of my goals moving into 2015.

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Strong Reactions to Simple Questions

So… something crazy has been happening for the past few weeks.  I may ramble a little here, but it’s important for me to get this out.  Thanks for hanging in there…

By now, you guys know I lost the bulk of my weight on the Jenny Craig program.  I joined in desperation.  I joined to try something new, and thankfully, it WORKED.

Before-After Rockstar | No Thanks to CakeOver the past year and I half, I’ve moved away from the Jenny program.  I don’t eat their food as part of a structured Jenny Craig food plan, but I do work them into my weekly meal planning.  I don’t do consultations with them on Saturday mornings anymore.  Instead, I stop in just about every week to pick up food.  There are several foods that have become staples to me, and from a convenience perspective, keeping them in my freezer makes sense.

My picky and always-in-a-morning-hurry self loves to pop the JC Cinnamon Rolls in the microwave in the morning before work.  A breakfast that takes 27 seconds to make, is well… my kind of breakfast, especially when it has cinnamon and rolls in the title.

Jenny Craig Cinnamon Rolls | No Thanks to Cake

Regardless, I’ve found a way to maintain my weight by eating half on the program and half off.  This makes it possible for me to grab lunch with customers throughout the week, while eating JC Stuffed Shells for convenience on the days when I’m in the office.  For me, it’s a great mix.

So… something’s been happening when I’ve been doing my “grocery shopping” at my local Jenny Craig location on Saturday mornings.  There’s a new consultant who’s been asking a lot of questions… and asking in a way that just hasn’t been resonating well with me.

“Can we get you on the scale?”

Can you tell me exactly why you don’t come in for consultations?”

Do you know your weight?”

Are you formally on maintenance?”

This sounds like pretty normal chatter for a visit to a weight loss center… but the fact that she’s so insistent has been FLYING ALL OVER ME.  That’s Southern talk for annoying the heck out of me.

Again, this consultant is doing her job.  She is asking the questions she has been trained to ask.  The questions that she’s been guided to ask to benefit her clients most… but to me, I’m reacting as though it is an accusation, an accusation that I need to do more, be more, and lose weight.

It’s been two weeks in a row of considering walking out of Jenny Craig forever, and even with thoughts of stomping out and leaving all those beautiful cinnamon rolls behind, I haven’t.  In each situation, I avoided her questions (much to her dismay) and convinced her to just let me pay and go. In each case, I walked out, feeling defeated, head hung low, and just wanting to cry.   Again, my reaction to this lady doing her job.

This week, I chatted with one of the other consultants regarding the situation… indicating that I was just wanting to buy food for now and asking if we could lower the pressure for a while.  And, in that small little office, I started to cry again.

I hadn’t cried about my weight in some time, and it’s amazing that it always seems to happen in that same office.   With the centre director when I joined, with Amalia (I’m sure I cried with her – love that gal!), and now again this week with Crystal.  As I cried, the words that poured out were my truth (Cue the waterworks): I’m tired.  I’ve focused so hard for the past four years on losing weight, and I just want to be okay with living for a while.  For now, living means I buy food to have on hand, just like I would at the grocery store.  Some days I eat Jenny, and some days I eat Subway; other days I may cook a full meal at the house.  

Crystal was AWESOME, and she totally got where I was at… and she told me to just let her know if/when I’m ready to try to lose again and she and the team would be happy to help.  Love that response!  Until then, she took my order for 7 cinnamon rolls and 4 stuffed shells, and I headed out.

When I look a little closer at my reaction, I realize the consultant who I struggled with for the past few weeks was simply verbalizing the things I ask myself every single day.  I’m really trying to lighten up on myself in the area of self-criticism, especially in the area of weight loss.  In these moments, it was like all my own thoughts and judgment were spewing out from a stranger, a stranger that doesn’t know how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am, and a stranger who had no intention of pushing my buttons like she did.

I wish I could just smile and step on the scale for her, but I just don’t want to right now.  I’ve worked my butt off to lose 60+ lbs over the past four years… and one day, I’ll lose that extra 15 that I’m carrying that I have on my “to-do” list.

For right now, I’m filling my to-do list with things like making plans to see the Cartier exhibit that’s coming to Denver, planning a CAbi Party for later in the month, and knitting a capelet to wear when it gets cold.  Eating healthy and losing weight are always on the list, but in all honestly, they’ve become a given, and are just how I live… frankly, they don’t even make the paper list anymore.

I absolutely know that there will never be a day where I can just eat anything in sight.  That’s not who I am, nor what my body needs.  I’ll always have to be cognizant of what goes in, and I’ve made peace with that… it’s the judgment I’m trying to curb, both internal and external, and man, it’s just not easy.

So, you too might have been wondering when I’m going to share my weight again or to talk specifically about weight loss.  To be honest, I really don’t know.  All I can tell you is that as soon as it happens, you guys will be the first to know… and that in the meantime, I’m working on maintenance and being nice to myself about it.

Thank you to each of you for (albeit virtually) standing beside me on this journey, for celebrating my successes, and listening to my woes.  It’s all a part of the process… and the details are what make them real and what make the process continue.  Even this specific moment contains learning, I just know it… xoxo

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3 Things I Learned from Menu Planning

After a summer of eating out, grilling out, and spending time on vacation, I used labor day weekend as an opportunity to get my “life” back in order.  

I woke up on Labor Day feeling out of sorts.  In my head, I had deemed September 1st “the first day of the rest of my life.”  And, as an important “start-over” date.  Despite all these great intentions, I just felt nervous.

Would I be able to stay on “plan” this time?  

Would I be able to curb my night-time eating that had been spinning out of control?

How would I incorporate all my work-related dining out activities?

Could I make this work again?

In the midst of all the fears that were running through my head, I realized more than anything that I didn’t have a plan.  I did what any girl in 2014 does, I jumped on Pinterest to find a meal planning resource that would help me along my way.  First and foremost, I wanted to decide what it was that I would be eating for the next week, and food-prep the crap out of my Monday afternoon.

I found several different meal planners out there, some that tracked daily meals, many that focused on family dinners, and only one that tracked all the meals and snacks I wanted to plan.  This one ended up being my favorite, and I have plans to create my own on a rainy day.  We’ll see…

In filling out the squares last week, a lot of lightbulbs went off and I learned more than I ever could have imagine.

3 Things I Learned from Menu Planning | No Thanks to Cake
1.  Without a plan, I had no plan.

We’ve all heard that saying “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  When you write everything down that you plan to eat on paper, you realize this very quickly.  I quickly began to reflect upon how previous weeks had gone.  I had to make healthy choices every single day, and competing with those healthy choices were their unhealthy cousins… unhealthy meals.

I was counting on my will-power to help me make it through the week.  When co-workers asked me to join them for lunch, I could easily say yes… because I was hungry.  I hadn’t had a snack all morning and was ready to eat anything I could find.  When friends suggested dinner out, I didn’t have a plan otherwise… so, why not join them for Mexican food?  And, then, sitting at the table, I’d have to once again make healthy decisions.  To stay on my “virtual” plan, I’d need to muster up the willpower to skip the chips and salsa, and to forgo the quesadillas in lieu of a simple grilled chicken salad.  Sometimes I did well, other times, not so much.

In the end, there were too many decisions to be made every single day, and too many opportunities to slip up.  With a concrete plan in place, I found myself with structure, convenience, and peace of mind.  I’m not saying I executed the plan perfectly, but I was about 150% better than weeks without a plan!

2.  My kitchen was snack-deficient.

By the time I filled out my meal plan, I had already gone grocery shopping for the week.  Now, I was sure I had healthy foods busting out of my fridge and cupboards; however, when I looked at the food I had planned to eat, I found out very quickly that I was completely deficient in the snack department, and I made plans to correct it immediately.

Why are snacks important?  Because in those moments where you get hungry, you define your day.  Do you reach for a bag of carrots and Laughing Cow cheese (a favorite snack of mine) or do you start digging through the cupboard for something-anything that might be tasty?

I had healthy snacks on hand to get me through maybe Wednesday, but I needed snacks for a full seven days.  Outlining what I would eat each day shone a flashlight on the situation and helped me make sure that I had plenty of snacks on-hand, pre-packaged, and ready to go.

Food Prep | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Having a Plan Reduces Stress

Overall, I felt much less stressed throughout the week when it came to making healthy decisions.  I was able to anticipate the needs that came up throughout the week, both planned and unplanned.  I was able to travel out of town and stay completely on-plan with oatmeal from home and a build-your-own salad at a pizza place.

Meal Prep | No Thanks to Cake

My schedule is also nuts.  By the time I get home, I’m tired and hungry.  Having a plan of what was for dinner… and having those foods on-hand and ready to eat/prepare made things so much easier!  And, again, kept me on track…

I felt at-ease, knowing that this area was all planned out… all week long!  One less things to worry about!

I’m going into the this week and have once again written up my plan.  It may change a little bit.  I may eat Subway on Tuesday, and eat chicken on Monday.  Who knows… but I’ll stay within this framework and make good decisions.

3 Things I Learned from Menu Planning | No Thanks to Cake

Mostly, I’ve got all the foods I’ve outlined in my home… prepped and ready to go.  Even if I hit 80% to this plan, I’d call that a win!  I love the feeling of being prepared to be healthy for the week, and I plan on doing just that!

Have you considered meal planning? 

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Overcoming an Occupational Weight Loss Hazard

As of the first of the year, I got sorta-kinda-but-not-really-yet-in-a-way promoted.  My company did a reorganization of my department, and while my paycheck still looks the same, I took on a whole heck of a lot more responsibility and stress.

Nearly two months in, I’m sort of regaining my stride (sort of), but something new has popped up that is so crazy.

I’m entertaining customers over meals on most days!  Last week alone, I had three meals at fabulous restaurants in town (Denver folks:  The Rio, Pappadeaux, and Jason’s Deli.)  Now, the foodie in me gets excited, but that girl who just re-committed to weight loss freaks out a little…

All I REALLY want to do is to be left alone to my Jenny lunches and my pre-planned snacks.  That would be so much easier… but I can’t really take my food to the restaurant and not eating with the client would be just plain awkward.

So, I’ve been learning to work with it… and I thought I’d share a few tips I’m come up with.

Dining Out Tips | No Thanks to Cake
Check out the Menu Ahead of Time

I am notorious for this.  When I get an invite to dinner/lunch, I always go online and see what the options look like.  Most chain restaurants will even have a nutrition guide posted, which I’ll reference when making my choices.

I can always find SOMETHING to eat.

Also, the trick about reviewing the menu and choosing your meal ahead of time is that you will not get distracted by the menu when it’s crunch time.  For me, I also walk into the restaurant completely confident about what I’m eating and that I’m staying on track… which assures I’m going to enjoy my night.

Don’t be Afraid to Customize Your Meal

I used to be a little hesitant to ask for special requests with my meals.  I never like to draw attention to my strange order, but at this point… I just don’t care anymore.  I like my food my way (after all, I’m Sally Albright), and there are so many people that are ordering even stranger meals than I do…

Be clear and specific about what you want.  Break it down for the server clearly, and thank them profusely for building your salad just the way you want it.

Example of a recent order:  At Pappadeaux this week, I ordered the Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken (no breading), instead of fried, no cheese, no croutons, no bacon, no egg.  Add extra tomatoes and cucumbers, with a light vinaigrette on the side.  The server didn’t even flinch, and the order came out perfectly…

NTTC Bonus Tip:  Scan the other salads for extra veggies you want to add to your salad.  I always do this!

Pre-Party with Your Own Appetizer

Load up on a healthy snack before you head to your event.  Most times, I choose vegetables because they’re incredibly filling and low-calorie.  Example:  Here is the snack I ate before I went to a work dinner this week.

Dining Out Tips from NTTC | No Thanks to Cake

These vegetables with my Roasted Red Pepper Dip filled me up nicely before I arrived at the restaurant.  This helped me to ignore the bread on the table and to say “No Thanks” to the appetizers that were passed around the table. #NTTA

Plan for an On-Track Day for All Your Other Meals

You may have one meal that is a little in-flux, but the remaining two and all the snacks you eat throughout the day should be on point.  I find this easy to do by using my Jenny foods.  I’ll write down exactly what I intend to eat for the planned meals, and then pick my restaurant choice based upon balancing out the rest of my day.  Example:  If my day is carb heavy, maybe that meal out needs to be carb-free.

Regardless, make a plan for the entire day… and stick to it!

Watch Your Liquid Calories

With socializing, there is often alcohol present.  As you talk and laugh throughout the night, you may lose count of how many glasses of wine you have or mixed drinks you down.  Set a target for what you will consume while you’re out before you walk into the restaurant.  Maybe it’s one glass of wine, and if so, consider pairing it with your meal for the most enjoyment.


Wet your whistle the remainder of the night with water, and lots of it.  This will help you stay hydrated, avoid ordering more vodka, and keep you satisfied.

Enjoy Your Time

Your friends, family, and co-worker want to visit with you and enjoy time with you.  They are not watching what you are eating like you are.  Relax, create your plan, and enjoy your night.

What other tips do you have for staying on track while dining out?

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