Tag Archives: Missoula Montana

Christmas Treats That Won’t Make Me Fat?

Christmas Fudge

Note: I first published this post in 2012. Reading it now, the corners of my holly jolly cheeks lift in ironic jest. “Hah!” I say to my younger self. “You thought that was healthy?” For sure, my definition of healthful food has shifted. Just goes to show – diets or no – tastes evolve. I’m a nomadic foodie. What was once a rest area on my road to health is now a spot to zoom by and toss wildflower seeds for next year’s visitors. I wonder what new foodie facts I’ve yet to discover and how that will change my plate; which resembles a map more than a platter. When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.

In that spirit of transformation, I’ve tweaked the original recipe below. Notes in red reflect new food discoveries, including:

  • Sugar, any sugar, can raise blood sugar and initiate the corrosive pathway of inflammation and disease, but there are ways to have my fudge and not let it eat me, too.
  • There’s some damn good fats out there that actually heal the body while releasing flavor pheromones as good as any afternoon delight.
  • We have more flour alternatives than ever; options which nourish as well as preserve the fluffy pillow talk I enjoy between me and my Morning Glory muffin.

Special thanks to Anna Rose-McComb of Tiny Farm Nutrition and Fitness for these discoveries. If they’re new to you, as they once were to me, I invite you to taste them in the most delicious way I can dream up: in the fudge recipe below which can satisfy holiday cravings and literally not make me fat. Enjoy!

From 2012…We’re smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season, and I’m starting to do a lot more smackin’ — of my lips, that is.  I love, love, love Christmas treats:  peanut butter fudge, yogurt-covered pretzels, divinity, candy canes, ribbon candy, brightly painted Christmas sugar cookies, and those morsels with the jelly in the middle.  What else is out there?  Too bad no one has discovered a way for me to eat my fudge and not gain weight, too (Guess what, girl…)  Nonetheless, I’ve accepted my love for Christmas treats.  This year, instead of fighting the temptation or judging myself for caving into desire, I’ve made peace with the bounty of sugar, butter, and chocolate that appears this time of year.  If I maintain my weight from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, I count that as a win.

To celebrate and embrace my holiday sweet tooth, I’d like to share a favorite recipe.  Hubby and I love to bake up these Cranberry Walnut Breads as gifts.  Whenever I watch him in the kitchen I’m convinced he’d make a great TV chef.  I’d put a twist on it and call it The Naked Baker Show (camera peeking just above the counter).  But, that’s for another blog…Here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Walnut Bread

  • 6 T. orange zest from 6 large oranges
  • 2 cups orange juice from those oranges (tons of hidden sugar in orange juice, so I recommend keeping the fiber by blending slices into a puree, since fiber can slow spikes in blood sugar)
  • 4 cups buttermilk (canned coconut milk and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar offers more nutrition without sacrificing the silky texture)
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (Let’s all cheer together:  Butter is our friend!  I like a quality grass-fed brand like Tillamook — I called their office, and they pasture their cows up until freezing in Oregon, so the boxes on the shelves now contain the last of this summer’s grass turned to gold.)
  • 6 large eggs (Comparing store-bought yolks to the blazing orbs gifted by our backyard chickens, there’s no contest.  Go backyard if you can.)
  •  12 cups flour (Nut flours, gluten free mixes, bean flours, keep going and keep experimenting until you find your fave.  My current go-to is Pamela’s Baking Mix.)
  • 6 cups sugar (Damn, that’s a lot of sugar.  Two routes for modifying:  eat these muffins with lots of roughage to slow sugar absorption or — my preference — replace most of the sugar with ground almonds mixed with coconut flour.  Both have a natural sweetness and offer more nutrition.)
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 7 1/2 cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped, approx. 3 bags
  • 3 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsly chopped

Each batch makes 6 loaves.

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together flour (alternative), salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk eggs (thank the chickens).  Add buttermilk coconut milk/vinegar, melted butter, orange juice puree, and orange zest to eggs and stir thoroughly.
  4. Add just a bit of sugar and almond/coconut flour mix to liquid ingredients, stir.
  5. Add chopped cranberries and toasted walnuts to liquid mixture.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into liquid mixture; stir just until moistened.  Do not over-mix.

Grease (coconut oil!) and flour (alternative) 6, 9 x 5 loaf pans and divide batter into each.  Spread evenly into corners of pans and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 350 and continue baking for about 50-60 minutes more, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Heads-up: these healthier substitutions may shift the temp and time a bit, so stay vigilant, check often and tweak if necessary.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Spread with as much butter or coconut oil as your heart desires!

The Fudge that Won’t Make You Fat

  • Coconut oil, 1 cup
  • Cocoa powder, 1/2 cup (less if you prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate)
  • Honey, 3 Tbsp, or to taste
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp, or to taste
  • Almond butter, 2 cups
  • Optional for a more creamy fudge:  canned coconut milk, 1/4 cup
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  1. In microwave-safe bowl: mix coconut oil, cocoa, vanilla extract, and honey.
  2. Nuke 30 seconds, then stir.  Repeat until silky.
  3. In bigger bowl: mix almond butter and coconut milk (if desired).  Combine chocolate mix into this big bowl and stir ’til thick and sexy.  Sample and tweak if desired.
  4. Pour into a baking and sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Freeze until firm.  Cut and serve.

Take Home Tip from 100poundsin1year.com

When I come to table this Christmas, my assignment will be to honor the ever-changing landscape between fork and knife.

Explore It More By Following the Links Below

“Eat to Thrive,” a free eGuide from 100 Pounds in 1 Year absolutely brimming with more reasons food can be a friend.

Read Anna’s Tiny Blog at www.tinyfarmnutrition.com

Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.

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The Christmas Hangover

a tired, Christmas pooch

I’m rebooting a past holiday post, as its a great reminder for when this time of year gets overwhelming. Its easy to eat and eat out of sheer exhaustion, so I hope this helps.  Enjoy!

Flashback to the Thanksgiving before committed to losing 100 pounds in 1 year.  This was an unusual time of insight for me.  Not only was I ready to get gutsy and make some major life changes (read more at Eat to Thrive), but I could see myself from outside myself.  Such eye-openers are a gift because they don’t happen all the time, but, when they do come, I try to sit up and take notice.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I snuggled into the corner of the couch with a cool, ceramic bowl of cereal cradled in my hands.  This wasn’t just any cereal bowl.  It was the biggest bowl I could find; large enough to hold leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner.   As I balanced the heavy bowl in my left hand — making sure no milk spilled over the edge — I held an extra-large spoon in my right.  I dunked that spoon three inches deep into the cereal, lifted out a heap of granola and rice flakes, stretched my mouth wide, and shoveled it in.  I plunged again.  And again.  And again.  I snarfed that bowlful in minutes, stuffing mouthfuls as fast as I could chew and swallow.

As I tipped the bowl to my lips to sip the last puddle of sweet milk, I saw my reflection; not in the bottom of the bowl, but inside my mind.  I saw myself, and I was sad.  I wanted that cereal to make me feel better.  I set the bowl down and, not for the first time, felt a familiar bloated feeling expand my stomach into a cereal baby.  I tried to get still.  I asked myself, Why am I so sad?  Once I made space to ask the question, the answer was right there.  Everyone at work – plus most of my family — had the week off, but I was still working every day.  I wanted time off, too.  What about me?

That day, I wrote myself a reminder for next year:  It read:  “Ask for Thanksgiving week off (Remember cereal snarfing last year?)”

That act – of noticing my pain and finding a way to change things – sparked a new holiday tradition for me.  Now, before the holidays get too hectic, I take time to reflect on how I want the season to look.  This is a new skill for me.  I always thought I had to endure the holidays, like I had no say in how they played out.  I braced for the stress:  running extra errands, scrunching parties into schedules, stretching the Christmas budget, and — worst of all — muddling through the hollow letdown of the day-after-Christmas Hangover (Not necessarily alcohol-induced, more like “expectation induced.”)  It never occurred to me that I have a choice in how the holidays roll.  Turns out, I do.  It just takes a few, simple questions, thoughtfully answered in a quiet space before all the holly and jolly begin.

To that end, I’d like to share with you my simple reflection routine for the holidays.  I use the following questions to frame my intentions.  Things don’t always go as planned, but that’s o.k.  Knowing my intentions lowers stress.  Feeling centered matters most.  That way, when surprises pop up, I don’t create a story in my head that I’m helpless or pushed; I just adapt to find another way towards my intentions.  O.K.  Here’s my holiday reflection routine, plus my intentions from this year…

In Early November:

  • What tradition(s) do I look forward to?  What tradition(s) would I like to let go of?
    • I like gathering around the table, full of family, goodies, and random chatter.  I’d like to let go of the pressure to find that perfect present, and just enjoy my time with each person.
  • How do I want to feel during the holidays?  What activities fuel this feeling?  What activities take from it?
    • I want to feel relaxed.  I’m going to hang some extra twinkle lights in my home, so things feel cheery as the nights get darker earlier.  I’d like to ditch trying to make it to every community Christmas event, and just focus on one favorite — maybe the showing of White Christmas at a local art house theater (Where we come dressed up, sounds like fun.)
  • Gift buying – how do I want to feel, standing in line at the store or clicking through the Check Out online?
    • I want to be happy enough to give the cashier a smile and complement him/her.  I want to not feel burdened by money, so I will make some homemade gifts this year (go to Christmas Treats that Won’t Make Me Fat? for hubby’s Cranberry Walnut Bread recipe.)  I want to feel smart and efficient by being picky about online shopping, so I will do some research before rushing over to Ebay.
  • Gift giving – after all the presents have been unwrapped, and all the “thank you’s” said, what thoughts do I want running through my mind?
    • I want to still have something to look forward to.  I hate feeling bloated in my body and my mind.  Maybe go showshoeing or sledding that evening?

After Christmas

(The day after Christmas is a juicy time for reflection, since that hangover feeling still stings strong.)

  • What did I like best about this year’s holiday season?  How can I do that again next year?
    • Last year, I sure enjoyed connecting with my brother who visited from Chicago.  Next year, if he can’t make it, maybe I could skype him or play some online game with him.  Or maybe we could levy a bet on a Steeler’s game.  I’d love to visit him in Chicago someday.
  • If I were Santa Claus, what would I do on the day after Christmas, after delivering billions of presents all around the world in 24 hours?  Can I make time/space to do that for me now?
    • I would get a haircut and schedule a deep, soothing massage.

Feel free to change up these questions and make them work for you.  Also, be sure to print out your answers and keep them in a safe place for next year’s reflection.

Before I finish, you may wonder, How does all this relate to losing weight?  First, consider the fact that stress (especially six weeks of it during the shortest days of the year) almost guarantees weight gain (read more at Chronic Stress and Weight Gain).  Also, planning ahead can mitigate some of my mindless munching because I’m more present, more centered.  There’s nothing like a party platter to shortcut my best intentions, especially when I didn’t have time to eat dinner because I had to stop at the post office to mail gifts.  Lastly, there’s a happy spillover effect from creating intentions and watching how they change my reactions to circumstances.  Intentions are like built-in homing beacons.  They become reference points to help me track where I’m at on my mental map.  Experiencing that level of control – even the extent to which I let myself get out-of-control – can fuel my self-esteem and store up some seriously good ju-ju for the coming year.

Shelby writes sassy, inspiring stories of weight loss.  Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.  

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Power in the Pitfalls

sinking in the quicksand“Inside, I feel like a mountain biker gearing down to head up a hill.  I know I’ll make it, one peddle at a time.”

That’s how I ended my last blog, all positive and chock-full of how-to tips for switching gears into the next stage of my weight-loss journey.  There’s something I didn’t tell you, though, something that came before all my revelations about muscle, body image, and body fat.  I didn’t tell you about the mud.  I skipped over the mire of doubt, frustration, and hopelessness that had kept me stuck for weeks.  The truth is:  I may have felt like a mountain biker ready to ramp up, but I was stuck in the mud only days before.

Skipping over the mud, I’ve learned, is common in self-help literature.  After all, no one wants to read a book titled, “Damn, I’m Stuck Again and Don’t Know What To Do.”  When sharing stories of overcoming, it’s much more fun to focus on our strengths.  We’d much rather share the answers than the pitfalls that preceded them.  Every diet book contains “guidelines.”  Eat this; don’t eat that.  Every spiritual guide distills life into “principles.”  Believe this; don’t believe that.  These ideas, while valuable, are what come after struggling through the mud.  They won’t necessarily keep us out of it.  These answers are not so much the “right” path as the end results of messy struggles through private pitfalls.  Between those lines of advice, there’s probably a juicy story of how the author wallowed in doubt, thought ugly thoughts, and felt like a fake.

When I’m stuck in a pitfall, I have thoughts like, You hypocrite, why are you even doing this?  What makes you think you can do this?  What made you think you could think that way?  Everything you thought is blowing up in your face.  It’s all wrong.

I feel safe admitting these doubts because I believe the mud swallows each of us, somewhere along our journey, and I would be false if I didn’t admit how it happens to me.  Plus, I’ve discovered a secret power laying dormant in the pitfall.  In fact, inside all the miry clay, there awaits the answers I seek.  I need only be true to myself.  It’s time to be true to being stuck.

First, let’s ask why there’s rarely a “Damn, I’m Stuck Again” chapter in most self-help books.  Why shun the negative?  Why be so protective of the positive?  I wonder what’s behind this.  Is it a war-like mentality which translates vulnerability into threat, a chink in our armor that must not be?  Or is it a fierce reliance on positive thinking which must veneer all things negative?  Maybe it’s not so convoluted.  Maybe we just don’t like how doubt feels.  If you ever felt like patting someone on the shoulder to reassure their misgivings, then you know what I’m poking at.

I admit, no one likes their soft underbelly exposed.  I can’t remember ever volunteering for a pitfall.  When I get stuck in the mud, I mostly curse it.  I resent it.  I judge myself for being there – again.  I hustle for the quickest way out.  Whenever I have doubts, my first strategy is a mad scurry to gloss over my murky mind with a shiny coat of what I think I should feel.  It might go something like this:

The doubt:  I’m disappointed and sad; I won’t lose 100 pounds in one year.
The gloss:  It’s not all about numbers!  Focus on how much you’ve already lost!

The doubt:  I’m so tired; there’s no way I’m going to lose any weight this week.
The gloss:  Don’t go there!  Just pick up where you left off and think how good next week will be!

The doubt:  This sucks. I should be doing better.
The gloss:  No, no, give yourself a break!

These two personalities — one defeated, another defensive – battle in my brain.  Neither accepts what’s going on and allows me simply to be who I am at that moment.  The defeated talk tears me down.  The defensive push-back ignores how I really feel.  When I voice-over my real feelings like this, I stay stuck in a tug-o-war between defeat and defense.  My self-esteem begins to unravel.  No matter the words, my thoughts play the same message over and over:   I feel this way, but I shouldn’t, so I am wrong.  This undercurrent of invalidation only feeds doubt, and I drill deeper into the mud.  If I keep up this vicious cycle, my mud becomes quicksand.  The more I struggle, the more I sink.

I’ve never fallen in actual quicksand, but I know how to get out of it.  The experts say to relax your muscles, look up, and let your body float on top until you touch solid ground.  Of course, if I were ever drowning in quicksand, then relaxing is the last thing I’d think to do.  To escape, I’d have to go against my instincts and ignore my brain screaming Get Out!  As that thick grip rises around my neck, I’d have to resist my resistance.

Whether its real quicksand or mental mud, the way out is the same.  If resistance keeps me stuck, then acceptance will get me unstuck.  For me, acceptance means learning to acknowledge my feelings, relax into reality, and trust the answers to float me to the top.  At first, acceptance can feel wrong, like allowing the quicksand to bury me in a murky grave.  It’s tempting to default back to my defensive, positive gloss-overs.  At least then I’m not giving up.  However, having feelings doesn’t mean giving up.  When I pay attention to my feelings — acknowledge my frustration, express my anger, validate my doubts – I stop resisting what is and join with what’s real.  Frustration is where I’m really at!  Anger is what I really feel!  I’ve just returned to the most powerful place I could be:  the present reality.  Now that I’m dealing with reality, I can get out of that emotional tug-o-war.  I can begin seeing solutions.

For example, here’s how I accepted my disappointment at not being able to lose 100 pounds in one year (a kind of conversation in my head)…

I am sad.  (Heaviness drags on my body as I let out a disheartening sigh.)  I really wanted to reach my goal.  I really wanted that scale to go down more by now.  Why can’t I do this?  I’m sad.  I’m just plain sad.

 Yeah, I know.

 I don’t.  I mean, I really wanted this.  I wanted to feel more like myself.  I wanted to fit into my favorite clothes stashed in that box under the bed.  I wanted to do the things I used to do.  I wanted to feel like I could want something, and I could have it.  I wanted to have an effect on my world. 

 That makes total sense.  These are o.k. things to want.

 Yeah, but I didn’t get there.

 How do you mean?

 Duh!  The scale!

 It’s funny, in all those things you listed that you wanted, you didn’t mention a number on the scale.

 Hmmm.

 Maybe there’s more to you than a number.

 Yeah, I know, I know.

 I know you know.  You wouldn’t be feeling this way if you didn’t know there was more to you than this.

 Yeah.

 So what else is there?

 There’s a desire to live a full life, to be spunky and vivacious, to inspire others, to not live in vain.

 Wow, that sounds a lot like what you’ve been doing.

I take a deep breath and pause to search for possibility.  For a moment, I feel like I’m betraying my sadness.  Something in me wants to stay sad.  I return to my tears, wringing the last drops from my soul.  After a bit, a space opens up.  It occurs to me that I have a choice.  I can stay here, or I can look up.  There is no “right” choice.  There’s only what I am able to do, only what’s real.  I decide that I can look up, for a moment, just to see what’s there.

 You’re in a tough spot, but I can see you.

 What do you mean?

 I see your vivaciousness.  I see your spunk.  Deep down, there’s a part of you that’s still O.K., a part of you that’s never been broken.  I see you whole.

 I want to be.

 You have been.  You will be again.

 Yeah?

 Yeah.  It’s who you truly are, not just who you want to be.

 It is.  I just feel like I’ve been hijacked away from myself.

 That makes total sense.  You had a part of you, now you feel like you don’t.

 Yeah, but I want it back!

 Oh!  I can see that, too!  Well, how can you get it back?

 I know that the scale can’t tell the whole story of what’s going on in my body right now.  I know I’m gaining muscle, and muscle weighs more than fat.  I need a way to measure my progress that’s more than just weight.  I need a way to feel successful.  I guess I need a new kind of feedback…

The rest of the conversation, you can read in my last blog,  Switching Gears

I’m a firm believer that answers reside in our present reality.  Feelings give us a gate into this reality.  When I give my feelings all the attention they’ve been clamoring for, then the mud lets go.  I sense solid ground.  Then, a miracle happens:  I can move on.

Shelby is on her most revealing and thrilling adventure yet:  to find out what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 1 year.  She began on Thanksgiving 2011.    Will she make it?  Find out by joining Shelby on this journey, not only of the body, but of the soul and mind.  Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center.

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