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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Protein powder ice cream recipe: Chocolate mocha coffee chip

Protein powder is an important part of the life of a post-op WLS surgery patient. I apologize for my lack of
posting. Just a lot of stuff going on and I got off track. But I'm back on and heading in the right direction.
Protein powder recipe -- chocolate mocha coffee chip "ice cream"
One of the things I have been craving that got me off track was ice cream. So, I made my own "ice cream" using protein powder. Though my protein levels in my blood work have been excellent I haven't been using my protein powder as often as I should and eventually it's going to catch up to me. So....I made chocolate mocha coffee chip "ice cream" using my protein powder.
Protein powder recipe -- chocolate mocha coffee chip "ice cream"
I'm still using the ARO black label protein powder from Vitacost -- 140 calories per scoop. I try to use as little dairy as I can so I use soy milk, but you can use skim milk or 1% milk, almond, rice or coconut. Just make sure it's unsweetened and unflavored. If it has sugar you're defeating the purpose.

You can find the recipe for the Chocolate Mocha Coffee Chip protein powder "ice cream" here. Enjoy and let me know how you like it! Here are some photos!

Protein powder recipe -- chocolate mocha coffee chip "ice cream"
Protein powder recipe -- chocolate mocha coffee chip "ice cream"

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I made the choice -- my journey to change the inside continues

I have decided that I am frustrated with the fact that I sometimes act in a passive-aggressive manner. That stops.

My journey to peace, harmony and a better world begins!
Beginning July 1st if something is bothering me I will address the issue directly and respectfully with the person or persons. Each of us has an opinion regarding every subject in the world, every issue on the planet.

No two people are ever going to think alike. I respect that. I will not judge you based on your opinion. I expect the same in return.

Is it ever right to judge someone? Is disagreeing with someone judgement? Is removing someone from your life because their opinions are hurtful to you judgement? Although you respect someone's right to have an opinion, if it hurts your heart when they say or do hurtful or hateful things and you remove them from your life, is that judgement?

In the past I have not spoken my mind. I have simply become angry and in my passive-aggressive way removed myself from the situation. Even when people say things in a kind manner they often times do not realize how hurtful or hate-filled those words can be. They do not realize how deeply those words affect you. They do not realize how deeply their actions cut you. And I wonder, do they care?

After much soul searching I have decided to become an ordained minister. I want to be able to reach out to people with my own thoughts and words and not be judged by those who believe I am not a real Christian because I accept all sinners into my life. And there are things that some consider sin that I do not consider sin. There are things they consider choices that I do not consider choices.

I see so much hatred and injustice in this world. I'm exhausted with the burden and I want to change my tiny corner of the world. This means I can no longer be a passive-aggressive individual and I need to learn to communicate as an adult, not as a child.

And such begins another journey to self-discovery.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My journey includes the story of my neighbors...and my husband's character

UGH! Without another outlet and determined not to write a Facebook status that lasts for days I thought I would just post this here.

Part of my journey has been finding the good in people, and most of all finding the good in my Hubby Dude. I always knew he was amazing, but I've discovered just how much more amazing he is in the past 2 years. And I'm proud to call him my husband. That's why when someone lies about him or questions his character, I get steaming mad.

It's hard to smile when you feel as if the whole world has gone off its rocker
Quick story -- couple years ago he blew the whistle on a guy who was say demeaning things about a female co-worker. The manager (the guy) denied he said the things and they suspended my husband "pending investigation" then they wanted him to come in and talk. Our lawyer advised my husband not to speak to them, file unemployment and be done with it. We did. But to this day I am incredibly angry that my husband did the right thing and got painted as the bad guy.

Fast forward to yesterday. Leave the house to go to see my son at my Mom and Dad's. He's in town with his girlfriend for a small window of time. We leave out apartment and head toward the back lot where we all park. There was a car parked sideways right up against the back porch and someone sitting in the car and it's running. Two women, both wearing red t-shirts, we talking to the person in the car. One of the women was sitting on the steps smoking a cigarette. She had short blonde hair. The other woman was leaning up against the railing. She had longer hair --- a blondish-brunette.

She asks "Do you need to get out?" I say, "Yes we do." I got in the car and made a smart remark, I thought I said it under my breath but she may have heard me. She left the railing she was leaning on and walked around the back of our car as we were pulling out. And then I hear a thud, like someone slapping the trunk or bumper and I hear, "DUDE!!! You HIT ME!" as she walks around the driver's side of the car from the back of the car. Hubby Dude leans out the window and asks if she's all right and she says "YEAH!" and we leave.

Fast forward to when we get home, voice mail from some cop. Oh, here we go! I'll skip over most of this and say cops came out to talk to us about the incident. And the woman standing off to the side talking to the officer is the woman who was sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette. The other woman who was the one who said she got hit is not there. But my neighbor is! And she wasn't even there when it happened. I asked my son who the blonde lady was and he said, "She's telling the guy that you hit her."

This goes on a bit and everyone gets all calmed down and the officer tells us basically he doesn't really believe what they're telling him and this does not make them happy. We were on the phone with the landlord who says to me that I should know who these ladies are. I should? Well apparently Lady A (who moved in to the apartment in January) I should know (why??) has a new roommate who moved in two weeks ago -- Lady B. Why would I know this? And what happened to the guy (who we call Bobby Hill) who was living there a month ago?

I don't even know where I'm going with this blog post other than the landlord made us feel as if somehow this was all my husband's fault. The officer was kind and said he thought they were full of baloney, but the LANDLORD -- they guy we've rented from and paid rent to ON TIME for almost 9 years treated my husband like a lowlife.

Yes, I know...move. It's easy to say, harder to do. Our rent is cheap, very cheap. We're located close to everything, and my son and his girlfriend live 2 blocks apart, so we do not want to move. What we want is our across the hall neighbor to not change every 6 months, leaving the apartment trashed. What we want is for our across the hall neighbors NOT to get drunk and fight and throw things against the wall at 4:15am. You don't have to know who I am, and we can just say hello and smile when we see each other. Bur for the love of God, please, please, PLEASE do NOT question my husband's character. He's one of the good guys, and most women can only HOPE to find someone with as good a heart as his.

Okay....done. And thank you for reading. This post really is in sharp contrast to my early post about intolerance. This post makes me seem intolerant. I guess in a way, I am. Intolerant of the partying, smoking, fighting, screaming, police at the building every 2 weeks since they moved in. Men and women coming and going at all hours of the night, people banging on MY door looking for Lady A and her three year old son.

I just want us all to live in peace....until I can find another place to live.

My journey includes the inside too: Faith, Friendship and Fellowship

I don't even know where to begin this blog post. I've been on a journey to become fabulous and fifty. My 47th birthday is quickly approaching, and the three year "deadline" looms. I don't just want to change my outside, I want to change my inside, to grow, to learn, to understand. I want to be the person who reaches out to others when they need something, even more than I have in the past.

Hubby Dude and I on our journey through life -- together.
It's always been about family for me, my children, my husband, my parents, my sister and her family, etc. That's it. My world was my family. And that was fine. But then my kids grew up and it was just me and my hubby. And he got sick. And he almost died. And he couldn't continue to do the work he had done in the past. And I didn't want him to get sick again. So we made compromises and we built another life, another good life, together. With our kids. And our family grew to include a couple of awesome girls who I hope some day will be my daughters-in-law.

But something was missing and we reached to God for answers. His reply to us put us on the track to helping out in our community, in one specific place. And it was a prayer answered for us. Our horizons expanded, our knowledge base grew, our understanding of human beings of all shapes, sizes, colors, orientations, young, old and in-between grew and grew rapidly. We quickly learned that we needed to look deep inside ourselves and what I found inside my heart was not as pretty as I thought. I judged people. Though I asked not to be judged myself by my outer package, I was judging others. So I prayed, I prayed over it with my husband and by myself. I asked my husband for answers. And we both began to change.

And while we changed our minds opened up and we listened to others. We offered an ear, our talents and our time because that's what we had to offer. And we thought we were making a difference, no matter how small. A smile, a warm welcome, a hug, a hot meal, a kind word. I felt truly blessed to have these people come into my life. And I felt as if I was truly on the path to becoming "Fabulous and Fifty" on the inside too! In my heart and in my mind! And then things started to slip.

And then one big thing, at least for me, one tiny post on Facebook, several incredibly cruel comments changed my whole way of thinking again. Someone who asked to be judged by their heart and by their actions, a person ministering to others, a person involved in the lives of teenagers and trying to help them through the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood posted something about gays that was, in my opinion, awful. And the comments that ensued broke my heart and I wept.

I wept at first because this person showed such venomous intolerance for a group of people based solely on their sexual orientation. Based solely on one person they had met. This also angered me. But I prayed on it, I slept on it and I didn't react.

When I woke up the next day I realized not only was I weeping over the venomous intolerance of someone who asks for others not to judge them by past actions, but I wept because this person bringing the word of God to others, this person trying to change the world, to lessening bullying, this person reaching out to teenagers and saying it's okay to be you, bashed gays and allowed the comments to turn uglier and uglier and uglier. And I thought, what if one teenager who follows this person on Facebook read that. One teenager who thought that going to this person was safe saw that post and those comments. What did they feel? If I felt horrified and unbelievably sad, what did THEY feel? And it made me feel ugly inside again because I allowed that person into my life, just a little bit. And in my usual passive-aggressive fashion, I said nothing. Why say anything really? To be lectured on the sins of gay people? I agree to disagree with anyone on the subject of same-sex marriage and whether God intended for it to me only one man and one woman together. What you believe is what you believe, what I believe is what I believe. But when you are reaching out to people under the umbrella of "accept me for who *I* am" and you bash an entire group of people, IMHO, you lose the "right" to be accepted for who you are.

So, I wrote this blog post, because I know deep down in my heart that even if the issue were discussed, it wouldn't change anything. I wholeheartedly believe that as we grow older, we change. Change is part of our growth, right? Apologizing for things we've done is part of that growing process? Peacefully agreeing to disagree is part of life, right?

Yes, you have every right on this Earth to post whatever you want on Facebook (according to their TOS of course). I guess I'm still searching for answers as I follow my journey to fabulous and fifty. There's a whole lot more growth going on here. I hope that you'll hang in there with me and let me know what you think. Respectfully, please. I entertain all thoughts, opinions, but I ask that you be respectful.

May God bless you on your personal journey!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Grocery shopping with coupons -- can you do that and eat healthy post-VGS?

I didn't become a coupon convert until after my VGS surgery, so I can answer this question with a resounding YES!

I started with using coupons to buy things like laundry detergent, toothpaste, shampoo, dish soap, cat food, hair color, bar soap, body wash, etc. The money I saved on those items I rolled over into our grocery budget. The higher quality protein powder I can tolerate is not cheap, so I had to find a way to make sure the family was still eating healthy, but not at my expense.

This is one of my first coupon "hauls". The granola thins were great because they are low in calories (considering what my kid could have been eating) and sugar. I ended up with 4 boxes and the guys were good about eating them. They'd have one as a snack. I had a few too, not all at one time! They were really good when I needed a chocolate fix!

This one was awesome! I don't eat bread and they guys don't eat it much, but the bread did go to something good. It was only two loaves but I passed it on to a single mom who was able to make sandwiches for her two kids for a couple of weeks. She was grateful because her SNAP benefits and food she gets from the food pantry only go so far. She also enjoyed the vegetable barley soup I gave her too!

The Vidal Sassoon products cost me so little...and they go so far. The Barbasol was 70% off with sale and coupon. So were the Jiff PB and the Smucker's Jelly. The olives were 50% the regular price with the Walgreens coupon.
Another really great trip! The Tecnu ended up being free (it was $5 with $5 in Walgreens Register Rewards) and so was the Pink ($9 with $9 in Register Rewards). The same for the toothpaste, toothbrushes and mouthwash. Had a coupon and then they each had a $2.50 Register Reward benefit. $3.99 on sale -- $2.99 with coupon and then $2.50 Register Reward. The Ajax and tissues were half price with the Walgreens coupon.

This is one of my favorites! Fresh fruit is expensive but I was able to score fruit in 100% juice! These are normally $3.49 each -- they were on sale $2.50 each. I had a $1/1 coupon -- so they were down to $1.50 each. A local store has this thing called "Gas Points" and you get one point for every dollar you spend. $100 equals 10¢ off per gallon. They do these special combos where if you buy certain products in certain combos you get extra gas points. You also get gas points for each coupon you use.
I bought 12 jars of Dole fruit -- 2 transactions. Why? Because when I bought 6 I got an extra 200 gas points. I also used 6 coupons per transaction, receiving 60 gas points for using the coupons. Plus the gas points I earned for buying the product.

On top of that, the week I the local store had a thing called "dollar doublers" which means any coupon with a value of $1 off is doubled, giving you $2 off with that coupon. You can only use 4 per transaction. You don't get gas points for those "coupons." In each of the two transactions 4 jars cost me only 50¢ each. Yes -- 4 jars for $2 -- and then two more for $3 -- a total of $10 12 jars of fruit in 100% juice. Regular price? $41.88 -- and no this is NOT typical! It didn't take a lot of effort either. Oh, and I now am up to $1.40 off a gallon of gas - up to 30 gallons. My son will be visiting from Indiana next week and my "gift" to him will be 15 gallons of gas to get home -- and a big box of laundry detergent, dish soap, bar soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. which will hopefully keep him from needing to buy that stuff until he's home for a visit again. 

You can check out my Coupon Mom In Training blog for more on my coupon adventures. We've been on a few "no buy weeks" so we haven't been shopping much, only the necessities. That's another plus to coupon shopping, there are times when money is tight you can say, we're just buying basics this week! Or even we're not buying ANYTHING this week!

Check out Saving Pennies, Nickels, Dimes and Dollars -- I tell you this is the best group for anyone who wants to or does coupon. Whether you are just getting started or you're experienced -- you will find the best deals, completely broken down, where to find the coupons, etc. to get the most for your money AND you won't be eating junk. I swear to you...we're doing it!

An Update on my VGS journey!

I apologize for not posting updates -- I honestly didn't think anyone was truly interested in my journey anymore. Not to be self-centered, I have a lot of things going on and posting about my weight loss and post-op health just didn't seem worth it. Until the other day.

A lovely young lady stopped me and asked me about what I do for a living. Someone had told her I was a writer. We were talking a little bit and she asked me a lot of questions I didn't have answers for right away. I had to think about them.
How have I been doing???
And I thought, "I'll post the answers on my blog" and then I remembered I stopped updating my blog. So, today I decided, I'm going back to updating my blog! I've been working on or contributing to a couple of blogs, and I'll post links to those so you can see what I've been up to! I'll also share the links to my columns because that's what I've been up to as well, as a writer!

But first, how about some pictures? I'm now 4 months and 10 days post-op VGS and I have lost 45 pounds. Add that to the 72 pounds I lost pre-op and my total equals 115 pounds lost. And add that to the 20 pounds I lost between December 2011 and February 2013 and I have lost a whopping 136 pounds!

This is the day of surgery -- February 10, 2014 -- this is after losing a total of 92 pounds -- yeah, it was bad

This photo is from my one week follow-up on Feb. 18, 2014 -- I lost 14.1 pounds in one week. Yeah, all liquids + surgery will do that for you. And yes, the turquoise blouse was a mistake -- and has since been banished from my wardrobe!

February 20, 2014 -- 10 days post-op VGS

March 20, 2014 -- one month and 10 days post-op VGS -- 21.6 pounds lost since surgery

April 7, 2014 -- I was not weighing myself -- the NP at my surgeon's office told me not to weigh myself on any scale but the one in their office. This was after a frantic phone call to the office when my primary doctor's scale said I weighed 10 pounds more than I should have.

April 29, 2014 -- almost 3 months post-op VGS -- and not only have all the 5x clothes in my closet been purged, but also all the 4x clothes. The only clothes in my closet are 3x...and a few 2x...and a few size 16/18 which is my goal size by February 2015

June 1, 2014 -- the first pair of shorts I've worn in almost 10 years, maybe 15 years. In the past I have, as I gained more and more weight I wore capris, anything past the knee or just shy of the ankle, in the summer.

June 12, 2014 -- 4 months post-op VGS -- and astonished when the scale said I had lost 22 pounds since my visit in March. That's almost 2 pounds each week. The size 3x are just starting to get too big, many will be purged from my closet at the end of the summer. I have now officially lost 45 pounds since my surgery date, 136 pounds since December 2011.

Day of surgery 2/10/14
 4 months post-op VGS 6/12/14

Yes, I feel great! I still suffer from Meniere's but I am working on trying to get that back under control. It hits me pretty hard and I have good days and bad days. Good days can come in a great big batch a week to 10 days in a row, and then take me out for 5 days straight. A day can start good and become bad. A day can start bad and become good. Yes, I hate Meniere's.

My hair has not fallen out -- in fact, it's growing faster than ever, so are my nails. My protein levels are perfect. The only "problem" I have is my B-12 and Vitamin D levels are too high -- so I've dropped those supplements for now. I'm also having an issue with my WBC but it might be a medication I take and I see my primary next week. I've had blood work at least 6 times in the past 6 I'm not really sure what else they can do except more extensive testing. I honestly believe it's my allergy medicine causing the issue. I have severe environmental allergies and take a prescription medication every day.

There's a lot more to share with you, but I thought I'd first get up some photos and general update on my health. I have more energy than I ever imagined and the days when Meniere's sidelines me frustrate the hell out of me because I just want to get up and GO and I can't.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Eating healthy on a budget -- Make your own "Greek" yogurt -- This is the food I eat!

I've been drinking a lot of protein drinks lately. I will for the rest of my life. But, I have to find a way to actually enjoy them since one is a meal replacement (Breakfast) and one is my final snack of the day about 3 hours before bedtime.
Plain non-fat yogurt strained to thicken it
I have priced plain non-fat Greek yogurt. For the amount I use, it's expensive. I go through at least two to three 32-ounce containers in a week. At almost $4 to $5 a pop, that's a lot of money, especially in a week where I end up using 4 or 5 containers. I remembered a trick from years ago that I think it was my mother or my grandmother taught me. Strain plain yogurt, it will thicken it up.

Many will say Greek yogurt has twice the protein as regular yogurt. That's great for some people who have issues getting protein. Me? Post WLS I get minimum 60g just from my protein drinks each day, so getting protein isn't an issue. Eating healthy on a budget? That's an issue.

Do NOT buy any plain yogurt with anything like modified food, potato or tapioca starch. It's garbage, all fillers. Check out the store brands at your local supermarket. You should be able to find them for under $2 per 32-ounce container, definitely under $3 per container. There should be nothing but non-fat or fat-free milk and cultures. NO MODIFIED STARCH of any kind!

Since I am not willing to pay for fillers, and because my husband and I are both diabetically-challenged, I have had to find a way to make my own thickened plain yogurt to use for tzatziki and as sour cream and mayonnaise in place of higher calorie, higher carb items.

I buy a 32-ounce container of plain yogurt. Just plain yogurt, Dannon is my favorite and usually costs less than $3 for a 32-ounce container. I also like the Wegmans and Tops brands...local supermarkets here in Western NY.

Using a fine mesh strainer or a colander, I layer four to five sheets of paper towels (if they're cheap -- I but the 50¢ a roll kind) or one cheese cloth folded over to create four layers. I spoon the plain yogurt over the paper towels in the strainer, then take another four to five sheets of paper towels folded over and place them on top of the yogurt in the strainer. Put the strainer containing the yogurt over bowl or plate to catch the liquid. Put the whole thing in fridge for at least one hour, may need up to 4 hours.
Tzatziki made with plain, fat-free strained yogurt
I use the strained plain yogurt in tzatziki -- a delicious yogurt and cucumber dip made with lemon juice, garlic powder and dill. I also use the strained plain yogurt as a sour cream substitute or as a mayonnaise substitute when making salad dressings, macaroni salad, tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad, etc.

Macaroni salad made with half Miracle Whip half strained plain yogurt

I also use the strained plain yogurt in my morning protein drinks. It gives them a bit of thickness and a nice tang. I especially like the smoothies with vanilla protein powder and some type of berries.

The Berries are Hiding protein smoothie made with strained plain yogurt

These are just some of the things you can use the strained plain, fat-free yogurt for. I'm sure you can find lots of ways to use it in place of Greek yogurt!

As always...Cheers!
Rachael Monaco

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