What we eat to lose weight (and keep it off)

08/29/2012 at 2:38 pm | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 6 Comments

Back in December when the nutritionist handed Marc an eating plan that allowed only 1200 calories a day, I thought I would never be able to do it. The truth? It sucked at first. Bad. I felt hungry a lot of the time, and I had to distract myself from thinking about food. The new portion sizes also took some getting used to.

But then, after a few weeks, it became easier. And after a few months, I can hardly remember how (or why) we ate differently.

For us, it’s all about modifications. Instead of frying fish and slathering it with tartar, we grill it with brown rice and veggies on the side. Rather than eat a whole plate of pasta (which in most cases equals 3 to 4 servings), it became a side dish. We added a bunch more fruits and vegetables to our diet and cut back on red meat. And we subbed in baked chips, Skinny Cow ice cream and Who Nu cookies for treats.

Also important? We didn’t deprive ourselves of the foods we love. Everything in moderation.

To give you an idea of our new diet, here’s how a typical week of eating shakes out …

This was probably the most eye-opening change for me. I used to pour a big bowl of cereal with skim milk and a tall glass of orange juice. Sounds healthy, right? It’s certainly not bad for you, but that meal also has a ton of calories and didn’t keep me full for very long. So I cut out the fruit juice and only occasionally eat cereal. I added lots of protein in the morning. And fruit. One of the things I love best about our diet is that I can eat as much fruit (and as many vegetables) as I want.

Typical breakfasts for me:

– Whole-grain English muffin with 2 TBS peanut butter and half a banana sliced on top, watermelon on the side.
– One egg and one egg white scrambled, with orange wedges on the side.
– Nonfat Greek yogurt topped with peaches, blueberries and a sprinkle of Honey Nut Cheerios or Kashi.
– On days I need to move fast, I’ll eat a bowl of Special K with blueberries and skim milk.
– I drink water in the mornings because I’ve never liked coffee.

Lunch didn’t change all that much. We’ve always eaten whole wheat breads, lean meats and raw veggies. We don’t eat regular chips any more, and we’ve cut back on the amount of cheese and mayo on our sandwiches. Small adjustments have big impact.

Here’s what I like to eat for lunch:

– Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1 oz cheddar, lettuce, tomato and dijon mustard. Pretzels, pickle and Diet Coke on the side.
– Morningstar Farms black bean burger (pictured above, although you can hardly see it under all the toppings) with salsa, lettuce, an ounce of shredded cheddar and about a tablespoon of reduced-fat sour cream. Carrot sticks, a few baked Cheetos (YUM) on the side.
– Egg scramble with one egg, one egg white, deli ham, green pepper, onion, tomato and a bit of cheddar cheese.
– At work, I’ll pop a Lean Cuisine in the microwave and eat it with pretzels or carrot sticks and a Diet Coke. Not the best lunch (those frozen meals are packed with sodium and carbs), but it gets me by on busy days.
– Pita bread stuffed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots, a slice of American cheese and reduced-fat Italian dressing.
– Green salad with grilled chicken, a bit of cheese, veggies and low-fat dressing.

This meal has changed the most. On our regular rotation used to be baked spaghetti, beef stir fry with noodles, fried fish and lots of processed rice and pasta side dishes. We still have taco night, but now with healthier toppings and plain brown rice (which, when mixed with salsa and corn, is just as good as any box mix).

Here are some of our favorite dinners:

– Chicken cooked in the skillet with a little olive oil (or a grocery store rotisserie chicken) and barbeque sauce, corn on the cob, steamed brown rice, tomato slices.
– Green salad with grilled chicken, boiled egg white, veggies, a bit of cheese, a serving of croutons, with low-fat dressing.
– Grilled fish with onions and green peppers, grilled summer vegetables, baked sweet potato fries.
– Taco night! Whole wheat tortilla stuffed with chicken, one serving of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn, salsa and one serving of low-fat sour cream. Steamed brown rice on the side.
– Grilled pork tenderloin with roasted brussels sprouts, green salad and whole-wheat roll.
– Other favorites include spaghetti pie and chicken pesto pizza. We also steam a lot of green vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, green beans. I’ve been meaning to experiment with roasting these for some extra crisp and flavor.

– trail mix
– Skinny Cow dark chocolate dreamy clusters
– plain dark chocolate
– roasted almonds
– a cup of Greek yogurt
– fruit!
– carrot sticks with low-fat ranch dip
– Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches
– Who Nu and Snackwell’s cookies
– frozen yogurt
– banana “milkshake”: blend one chopped frozen banana with 1 TBS peanut butter and a splash of skim milk

Eating Out
Man, this is tough. My favorite restaurants are Mexican, Italian and Southern. So I eat enchiladas, pizza and chicken biscuits in moderation. At the beginning we didn’t eat out at all. Once the weight started coming off, we allowed ourselves the treat of eating out every now and then … and we made healthier choices.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is go out for pizza on Friday night. So the nutritionist advised us to load up on the salad bar (avoiding unhealthy toppings and dressings), and then eat only two slices of pizza. It worked! And if I eat a hamburger, I ask for green salad on the side instead of french fries.

But there are time when a girl just needs to eat what she wants. See: fried pickles and cupcakes. So on those (special) occasions, I just go easy on my other meals that day and try to squeeze in some extra exercise. No biggie.


I hope this gives you an idea of the types of foods you can eat to lose weight — or maintain a healthy one. If you have questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below. I’ll also keep adding healthy recipes to the mangia! category over there in the sidebar.

Up next in this week’s weight-loss series? Exercise. I actually like it now. Crazy, right?


Before and after and numbers, oh my

08/28/2012 at 9:57 am | Posted in weight loss | 33 Comments

I spent a good hour on the computer looking for the most dreadful shots of myself from the last year. I remember them well. The ones that made me cringe after I saw them up close, outside the tiny preview window on the back of my camera. Extra chins, muffin top, you name it.

But I couldn’t find them.

I had deleted all of them. Well, almost all of them. I kept a few in which I’d squatted strategically behind Lily. Or the ones where I held Sophie in my lap.

You see, I never mustered the courage to take a true “before” photo. The little yellow sticky note sat on my dresser for weeks, an annoying reminder that I had just started the weight loss journey of my life and I needed a picture to prove it. But I just couldn’t do it. I already felt bad enough about myself, and seeing my entire body through the lens of my camera likely would have sent me straight into a carton of Ben & Jerry’s.

But now I wish I had done it. So I could see exactly what it looks like to lose nearly 40 pounds. And so I could show you. Ah well.

These will have to do …

Here I am at the state fair last year, generally not feeling good about myself and hiding behind Lily:

I weighed 196 pounds in this photo. The exact same number on the scale at my 6-week postpartum check nearly five months prior. I had figured breastfeeding would help me shed the baby weight, but that doesn’t quite hold up when you’re stuffing your face with cookies and chicken biscuits.

By Christmas, I didn’t even feel like myself. I wondered who this woman was who couldn’t fit into her clothes, who felt sluggish and became winded after one flight of stairs. So when Marc met with a nutritionist for his own health issues and came home with an eating plan, I jumped on board.

I lost about a pound and a half a week, give or take, over a span of seven months. Today I weigh 158 pounds. I’ve weighed as little as 153, but that was during a very stressful time when I wasn’t eating much, and that’s no good. My goal is 155. But I’m happy to stay inside the 155-160 range. At 5′ 10″ tall, this is a good weight for me, at a healthy BMI.

I’m used to weighing about 180 pounds, so this business of weighing in the 150s is very new to me. I’m comfortable at this weight. I still enjoy food. I exercise more. But I don’t deprive myself. My body seems happy.

So … here goes … the “after” picture, nearly 40 pounds lighter:

The thought of this photo also scared the crap out of me for entirely different reasons than the “before” picture. What if I couldn’t tell a difference? What if I looked the same? We had been at the beach all week, and I was still hiding from the camera. So I grabbed Laura at the end of our vacation, on the last day I’d wear my swimsuit and she snapped off this quick shot. It took me a few days to look at it.

But I can see.

I am leaner. Healthier. But still curvy and big and strong (albeit with much smaller boobs, thanks universe). And, above all, happy.

Marc and I get asked all the time, “How’d you do it?” so I’m going to dedicate some space here on the blog for the next few days talking about our journey and all the tools we used to lose a combined 90 pounds. Food, exercise, books — the works.

Because there really is no easy solution. No miracle diet. This process took a lot of time and patience.

And coming out on the other side feels so incredibly amazing that I can barely describe it.

If this is what you want, YOU CAN DO IT.

I’m living proof.

Those *other* moments

08/24/2012 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Motherhood | 2 Comments

After yesterday’s glowy post about those awesome little moments of motherhood, the universe decided to hand me a big ol’ pile of moments that prove just how un-glowy motherhood can be.

The irony was not lost on me as I lay curled on my bed crying this morning. I had just plopped a wailing Sophie in her crib with a trusty lovey and a stack of books because I couldn’t take another single second of baby screaming in my ear and pulling on my clothes and expressing VERY LOUDLY her unhappiness with everything ever amen.

All this less than 24 hours after I’d written about how much joy it brings me to cut tiny pieces of fruit and wipe sweet chubby cheeks.

Well played, universe. Well played.

The thing is, though, I’m learning that the good always outweighs the bad. Even if the bad swallows me whole and the good is only a spec of a glimmer on a given day. Good always wins.

Case in point: After the grumpiest morning ever, Sophie curled up sweetly on my chest at naptime, clutching Dog the Best Lovey Ever, and fell asleep with her other hand up on my shoulder. The baby who no longer enjoys rocking. Who wiggles out of our arms at every nap, every bedtime, to get into the crib and stretch out.

I knew this was my reward, and I soaked up every second of it.

Take that, universe.

[good thing she’s cute]

Those moments

08/23/2012 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Motherhood | 2 Comments

It happens in the tiniest of flashes.

Like this morning, when I licked my finger to wipe cream cheese off Lily’s face. Or earlier this week when I was slicing blueberries for Sophie. And I just paused. For a little moment. And thought to myself, I really am a mother. I’m doing this. I’m not just playing grown-up.

And then I get back to the cutting and the mom-spit and the butt-wiping and the chaos of being the mother of two little girls.

But those moments, those little glimmers, they stick with me and lift me up when I least expect it. They flood me with feelings of happiness and gratitude and holy-crap realizations of this awesome role I’ve been given.

It happens every now and then when I’m brushing Lily’s hair or bending waaaay down to kiss an imaginary boo-boo on her foot. Or when Sophie walks over to me, book in hand, and backs into my lap with a little plop.

Those moments. They make this life feel real. And unbearably awesome.

Which little moments stop you in your tracks?

Wherein Flickr likes me again and I can share ridiculous amounts of beach photos! You're welcome.

08/22/2012 at 3:22 pm | Posted in oh the places we go, snap happy | 5 Comments

I cracked the code! Otherwise known as my impossibly brilliant ridiculous Flickr password!


So, finally, beach photos for you to enjoy. Including a couple of spectacular failed attempts at a family photo (see: Lily’s best grimace ever).

If you’d like to see full-screen images (hi Aunt Mary Lou!), just click on that little arrow thingy in the bottom right corner after you hit “play” …

[ichc-flickr-slide width=”400″ height=”300″ username=”prettyswell” set_id=”72157631197196168″ player_r=”109615″]

Two of the 673 pictures I took at the beach

08/21/2012 at 3:04 pm | Posted in oh the places we go, snap happy | 2 Comments
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Here’s what we know to be true:

Suzanne + camera + cute kids + baby thighs + beach = photo overload.

Which is why last week’s vacation put a hurting on my Canon. I took almost 700 pictures, you guys. I seriously have a problem. But when I get back home and I’m sitting in front of my computer staring expectantly at the download churning away, I’m always rewarded with a shot like this:

Or this:

So I guess last week is no surprise. Especially when you consider that my camera is therapy. And I really needed it. And camera therapy trumps Zoloft any day.

I wish I had a slideshow ready to share, but I seem to have forgotten my Flickr login information and I’ve tried to get into the account so many times that I’ve been blocked and now I have to wait 12 hours to try again. Because obviously my brain is still on vacation.

I’ll be back soon with photos! Consider yourselves warned.

I'll miss you

08/13/2012 at 3:08 pm | Posted in me | 10 Comments

The last couple of months have been rough. For a number of reasons, some big and some small. All of which are too private to share here. (I’m sorry).

This space has been such a wonderful comfort to me. An outlet. An escape, really. Whether I’m taking silly pictures of myself in a public bathroom or capturing nekkid baby tushie, it just feels good to dump my brain (and heart) here. So, thank you. For reading, writing back, cheering me on in my weight loss quest, dishing out fashion advice.

Extra big thank-you for that last one.

So I hope you’ll understand why the blog is going to be quiet for the week. I’m at my favorite place in the whole wide world, and I want to soak up every bit of healing power the ocean has to offer.

And collect “she-shells” with Lily.

And chase baby tushie.

And breathe.

But I’ll miss you.


Posy goes Parisian

08/09/2012 at 8:19 pm | Posted in Posy | Leave a comment
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1940s French metal tin // vintage metal coffee pot // floral ceramic vintage pitcher
vintage embossed ceramic bowl
// shazzam retro cross-stitch art // ornate French vintage tin

I love our new collection of vintage items so much that I might just have to buy it all up. But then Laura would kill me because of this tiny thing called profit. Ah, well. I’ll live vicariously through our lovely customers.

The “shazzam” cross-stitch art (made by Laura) has a special place in my heart because that is one of my many nicknames, coined by a very good and very silly friend. Perhaps while drunk. But we won’t go there. There’s also an adorable sister piece — monkey mayhem — that didn’t make it into my fancy collage because I ran out of space. This little set would make such a rad addition to any kid’s room.

Come on over and visit Posy! You can also keep an eye on our newest shop items with that handy little widget over there in the sidebar.

Merci beaucoup!

What I Wore (to work) Wednesday

08/08/2012 at 1:41 pm | Posted in look good feel good | 5 Comments
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I accessorized this week! And wore shoes with actual heels! Glory be.

This outfit was my favorite, thanks to my Diana Ross disco necklace. Love that thing. The wedges gave me big-time blisters, but that’s a fashion rite of passage, right?

top ::: Old Navy outlet
skirt ::: Loft
necklace ::: Banana Republic clearance
wedges ::: Target

And here I am in the girls’ bathroom because I totally forgot to snap pictures at work that day. This top is one of my very favorite finds in the Anthropologie clearance closet. The pleats, the drawstring waist. And pockets! Win.

The red flats could walk on their own, they’re so old. But they have little star punches. And they fit like slippers. So I simply can’t bear to part with them.

top ::: Anthropologie
(skinny!) jeans ::: Gap
bangles ::: H&M
big ol’ feather earrings ::: Target
flats ::: no idea (and the brand has worn off!)

Next up is my second-favorite Anthro purchase of all time. I picked up this necklace in Manhattan and wore it to BlogHer ’10. So did Ree Drummond, so that totally makes us soul mates. *

This top is sheer, so I had never dreamed of wearing it to work. But I love the little flappy square appliques, and with a cami and cardi (I’m down with the lingo), it looks just fine for the office. Duh.

Also? I love that it hangs a little longer in the back.

top ::: Gap
cardi ::: Target
necklace ::: Anthropologie
pants ::: Loft
flats ::: no idea! (see above)

So there you have it! Another week of recycling the clothes that actually fit me. And getting a little braver with accessories. And actually smiling for the camera, thanks to some friendly prodding from The Deputy.

Progress, friends. Slowly but surely.

*Speaking of celebrity besties, check out these hilarious photos of my friend Andrea with Vanessa Lachey.

pleated poppy

15 months: too awesome for words

08/07/2012 at 10:22 am | Posted in baby sunshine | 7 Comments

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