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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A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia

Ever since we celebrated Beth’s 39th birthday in Vegas last year, we’ve been planning her 40th birthday outing.

A Birthday Weekend at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

And, it was a pretty easy decision on where we wanted to go.  Beth chose one of my favorite places on the planet… Montelucia.  For the past 5 years, my friend Donna and I have been traveling to Montelucia a few times a year to unwind and relax.  It’s become a very special place to me… and I was so excited to have an opportunity to share it with Beth.

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Together, we were a group of 10…. all the ladies in Beth’s family, myself and my mom.  Such a fun group of ladies.  It was so nice to see everyone after so much time had passed.

We spent our days at the pool, laughing and catching up, and soaking up the beautiful sun that Phoenix offered us that day.  The weather was in the 90s all weekend long!  How does it get any better than that??  Perhaps with this pretty, pretty cocktail.  Yum!

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Beth is an amazing cook and when she and the ladies in her family go on these types of “girls’ trips”, they take advantage of the fine dining in the area.  So, we ate very well during the trip, enjoying some of Scottsdale’s best restaurants.

And, leaving the property at night gave us an opportunity to get prettied up and head out…

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Saturday was my favorite day of the trip, and Beth’s 40th birthday!  We spent the entire day on property, and most of the day at the beautiful Joya Spa.  This place never get old.

Joya Spa | No Thanks to Cake

We spent the day getting beautiful, being pampered, and relaxing.  BEST.  DAY.  EVER.

Joya Spa Crystal | No Thanks to Cake

Joya Spa | No Thanks to Cake

After a lovely day at Joya, we had to celebrate the birthday girl, and the folks at Prado were amazing and made sure the birthday girl was spoiled properly.  Actually, everywhere we went made sure that Beth got the VIP treatment.  There weren’t many meals that didn’t include a special birthday dessert with “Happy Birthday, Beth” written on the plates… super fancy, Scottsdale.

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

The weekend was just perfect, if you ask me.  Lots of laughs, lots of time with people who adore Beth, and a great getaway.

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

And, best of all… I got to celebrate my favorite sister-in-law.  I’ve described her in the past as “my rock,” and she’s one of my favorite people on the planet.

Birthday Getaway to Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Thanks for including all of us on your fabulous birthday adventure!  Looking forward to celebrating the next landmark birthday in a few years!  xoxo

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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

With Easter less than a week away, it was time to bake a tasty treat for my Gramps.  Knowing that he loves peanut butter more than anything, I wanted to go with a PB cookie for this year’s easter package.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

During my trip to Nashville, I tried these cookies for the first time and they were awesome.  Jaede’s neighbor made them as a gluten-free treat for her husband.  It’s hard to believe that these cookies don’t have any flour in them, but you won’t miss it at all!  They have a strong peanut butter flavor and taste perfect paired with a glass of milk.  Enjoy!!

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

From Real Simple

Makes 18 cookies

INGREDIENTS

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Natural)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.

2.  Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Reduce speed to low and beat in the eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.

IMG_3049Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on silpat-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Note:  I used a 1 Tbsp. Pampered Chef scoop to form the cookies.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

5.  With a lightly floured fork, press the dough to a ⅜-inch thickness, making a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are set, 10 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Per cookie:

CAL 133; CARB 15g; FAT 7g; PROT 3g; FIB 1g; WW Points Plus: 4

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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.

Wine

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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