A Few Random Observations

It turns out that hitting my walking goal on my trainer big schedule was not particularly difficult after all. Training gets small but frequent breaks and an hour-long lunch, so there was plenty of time to get everything in. 

That hour-long lunch nearly broke my calorie goals, though. I went out to lunch, and found myself saying the worst possible thing:  “How bad could this be?”

If you’re counting calories and you find yourself saying that before you look the Mel up, you are doing it wrong.  Because my lunch came out to about 1100 calories. I was rather startled when I worked that out, to put it mildly. (I still managed to come in on target, but it was touch and go.)

As a little bit of good news, though, I happened to notice last night that I’ve gone down another notch on my belt. When I first started it, I buckled it on the second hole. Than the third, and now the fourth!  Yay me!


Schedule Disruptions

This should be interesting. As I’ve mentioned before, my usual work schedule starts at 5 am, and I’ve built my walking and other exercise routine around that fact. It works well (since I’ve gotten used to this ungodly schedule…), and I can get everything in with a minimum of difficulty.

Today and tomorrow, though, I’m in a training class. As a result, my day is starting at 8 am. There’s light.  By now, three hours of my day should be over and I should be a little over a mile and a half into my waking goal.

No, seriously, it does feel that strange.

Ah well, it’s only two days. And I should still make goal. I just feel… off, I guess.

If you go out in the woods today…

Well, technically, if you go out in the woods today you’ll get rained on. A lot. Because the forecast for the next several days is “rain, with the occasional break for thunderstorms”. But this is actually about something that I did Monday, when it wasn’t raining.

I’ve mentioned more than once that one of the ways I meet my walking goal is by walking to pick up my son from preschool, weather permitting. And I’ve also mentioned that this is “dad and son time”, which we spend walking and talking and exploring.  Monday was one of those days.

It all started because he was acting a little tired and mopey when I arrived. So I mentioned that I’d seen a lizard on the way in (there are a bunch of little green lizards in the area), and wondered aloud if we might see it on the way home.  A minute after walking outside he started looking around and acting more energetic, eyes wide and hunting for lizards.

This led to us walking all the way around the preschool/daycare, spotting (and in one case chasing) three-inch green-grey lizards. Then we hiked down  the hill out back to look at the “stream” (runoff ditch, really) so we could look for tadpoles (which we didn’t find) and then toss rocks into the water.

Then he asked if we could go back into the trees, which is a lightly forested area behind the condo complex we live in. My first mever pulse was to say “no”, but I stopped myself. We weren’t in any hurry, after all, and there was no good reason why we shouldn’t go in. So, in we went!

It was amazing!  Just a couple of dozen steps inside, over a little hump of land, was a clearing. Just a little open area, with the light streaming through the leaves, surrounded by a few trees and fallen large branches that looked for all the world like someone had started trying to build a tree fort.  We climbed over logs, and saw shelf fungus, and my son excitedly looked for bears (because we were in the forest, and there are bears in the forest).  Then, the whole way home, we talked about trees and bears, and my son swore that we needed to take mommy back there.

Was all of this specifically related to fitness and weight loss?  Nah. Not really.  I didn’t do it because I was trying to get my steps in, or anything. I just did it because it was fun, and because it was time with my son, and because I wanted to explore.

The health benefits, while real, were an afterthought. Which might be for the best, really.

Eating Well: Hamburger pâtes de la boîte

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it?  I’ve missed it – I really enjoy cooking, after all.  Particularly when the meal turns out to be both simple and tasty, and this one was both.  And surprisingly low calorie, for what it is.  My five-year-old wasn’t impressed, but then I rarely expect him to be impressed by anything on the first try.  But if you’ve been buying boxes of “Ground Beef Assistant”, and if you like the way that tastes, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this.

For fair disclosure purposes, I didn’t create this recipe.  I got it from Food.com, and then modified it in a few ways.  Mostly out of pragmatism, as you’ll see below.  Also, I hope that Google Translate didn’t fail me…

Hamburger pâtes de la boîte


  • 1 1b 92% lean ground beef (760 calories)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (440 calories)
  • 2 cups dry shell noodles (533 calories)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (440 calories)

“Seasoning Packet”

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  • Crumble and brown the ground beef in a skillet, then drain.
  • Return ground beef to the skillet.  Add the hot water, cottage cheese, dry noodles, and “seasoning packet”.
  • Bring the contents of the skillet to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add cheese, stir, and let simmer for two more minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for at least five minutes.  The sauce will thicken as you do.


  • Shell noodles aren’t strictly necessary.  I used them because I had them, but any other smallish pasta will probably work.  Be sure to adjust the calorie contents as needed.
  • In total, this makes 40 ounces of “hamburger pâtes de la boîte“, witha  total calorie count of 2173, making this 54 calories per ounce.  It’s supposed to make four servings, so that’s 543.25 calories per serving.  Which is not too bad, given all the pasta and cheese.
  • The original recipe called for 1 cup of water and 2 cups of milk.  It turned out that I did not have any milk in the house, so I substituted the cottage cheese instead.  If you happen to have it on hand, and use 1% milk in the recipe, the calorie count drops by 236 – taking it to 48.325 calories per ounce.
  • I suspect that you could also cut the milk and cottage cheese entirely, and use 3 cups of water.  That brings the calorie count to 1733, or 43.325 per ounce.  I don’t know how well it would thicken, though, so you might need to experiment.
  • I had a thought that one of those “veggie pastas” might cut the calories as well.  Based on the nutrition information, Barilla Veggie Rotini would shave about 52 calories off.  So that’s up to you, but that plus using 1% milk would cut the calories to 47.125 per ounce.


It’s going to be a great week!

Last week ended up as a wash.  I didn’t gain weight, but I didn’t lose it either.

Historically, I’d be kvetching about this – talking about all the things I didn’t do, and how I’m going to recommit myself, and all that sort of thing.  But, you know what?  I’m not going to do that.  Why not?  Because I’m not going to berate and belittle myself for having a flat sort of week.  Sometimes, these things just happen.  And I’ve made an enormous amount of progress over the last eight months.  One week of not moving forward doesn’t change that.

Instead, I’m just going to look forward to the beautiful weather this week.  I’m going to go out and enjoy my life, and I’m going to see progress again.  Not because I have to see progress to hit some benchmark that exists only inside my head – and they do exist, for all that I keep trying to remind myself that this is a lifestyle change and not a race to a finish line – but because I’m going to be doing the right things for the right reasons.  And I’m going to wear my new size 48 jeans while I do it.  Because I can.

An Inconvenient Size

I went clothes shopping last night. Work has relaxed on my dress code, so I found myself in need of more jeans. Also, the 52 waist I’m wearing now had only a casual relationship with the concept of “fitting” (I need to cinch my belt a little, and the waist buckles and folds).

It turns out that I now take about a 49 inch waist – 50s are just a little loose, and I can button and zip 48s but they aren’t quite comfortable. Except for the 48 jeans I bought at Casual Male XL, and those have a waist that is designed to “give” a little.  But still, I could zip up a pair of 48 inch waist pants!

Changing Perspectives

The weather has gotten a whole lot nicer, and as a result I’m back to walking to my son’s preschool to pick him up. This got me thinking. Last year, when I first started doing this, it seemed an almost impossible distance. It was a walk that I did because I had to, not because I wanted to.  And on the way back home, I’d have to stop and catch my breath if my son asked a question.

Yesterday, I found myself thinking “oh, it’s only a quarter mile one way?  That’s not that far at all.”  And on the way home we chatted about ladybugs – the preschool is covering bugs this week – and about dinner and our plans for the evening. I didn’t have to stop once, and I had no trouble talking and walking at the same time.  All I had to focus on was the gorgeous day and the time with my son.

Progress isn’t about pounds and inches, not always. Sometimes, it’s about the realization that you’re reaching your big goals. It was nice to be reminded of that.