Blogging in Beirut

I am on vacation in my homeland: Lebanon. It’s peaceful here. Waking up to the sounds of chickens and birds remind me of my college years living here and the simplicities of life. Life is too fast paced in L.A.; I forget to slow down and smell the coffee sometimes. The quietness of the mountains, the peaceful street, the view of the ocean, and living thousands of miles away from the office, phone calls, distractions, and routine is what vacationing is all about.

Lebanon

[View from my balcony]

Being around family has been refreshing of mind and spirit. I miss them terribly. I wonder sometimes whether my decision to live continents apart was a wise one. I came to the land of opportunity five years ago: To live the “American Dream”. I came to America as a first generation immigrant. It was no culture shock for me…I’ve been an international student my whole life, English is my first language. I grew up around foreigners and enjoy being around people of different cultures and backgrounds. Change is consistent….my faith is the only constant. When asked where home is, I tell people it’s Heaven. I didn’t grow-up in Lebanon, I grew up in Saudi Arabia. That’s NOT home for me. Nor is Lebanon….as for America, it’s been an awesome opportunity, best place I ever lived, but not quite “home”. Is home truly a place where you can live without family, or so far from them?

For the longest time, I considered the church my home. I lived in it, I thrived in it, I allowed strangers into the inner depths of my soul. I was on a roller coaster high for four years. Life couldn’t be any better until I felt burned. Burned by the church, by people, by expectations, and then realized that NOTHING in the world compares to your blood and bone family. No one is going to call and see how you’re feeling when you’re in your hospital bed, except your family. No one is going to clean up after you, make you meals, and love you like your mother or father would. Maybe I’m making big assumptions, but I know that my family is like that. And, I feel really blessed to have and experience such depth of love. I then feel so guilty for leaving them behind…..however, in less than  a two week period of vacationing here, I am reminded why I stand strong in my decision to live abroad, relentless.

Two car bombings have happened since vacationing here. On December 27th, 2o13, only FOUR days before New Year’s Eve, Mohamad Chatah, a former Finance Minister of Lebanon and a foe of Hezbollah, was killed in a car bombing in Beirut. Seven others were also killed, innocent civilians on the street, pedestrians nonetheless, some taking selfies which appeared on twitter, only moments after the explosion! My brother could have been there, passing by on his way to University. It was heart-wrenching and devastating. It instilled fear in people’s hearts, just a few days before people would be out celebrating the coming of a new year. It had been a few months after a previous car bombing that happened on July 9th, 2o13. People’s resilience had settled in and they started to lead a normal life, carrying on with normal affairs like nothing’s happening. Kind of scary, if you ask me!

A few days later, on January 2nd, 2o14, I was visiting my aunt’s house when our phones interrupted our coffee and cake conversations and notified us of another car bombing incident. Four people were killed and 77 others were wounded in a suicide car bomb that struck Haret Hreik, a neighborhood of Beirut’s southern suburbs where Hezbollah supporters live. Another devastating live coverage of the incident reminded people in the new year about the vulnerability of the nation and the unstability of the government and it’s power to protect its people. Our neighboring country, Syria, torn by a civil war offers no comfort as well. There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to all the car bombings and assassinations that have happened in Beirut from 2004 to the present.

These unsettling accounts that occurred in a very short time span since vacationing here has reminded me especially why I dared to venture out five years ago with two suitcases on hand, a bible, and the violin into America the Great. The land of opportunity, freedom, security, and a future. My determination now much stronger and renewed with a sense of hope for my mission and future. I want to create a better life for myself and my family. I want to create a place for them to retire and come and live here with me.

Many Americans don’t understand the freedoms they have in their country. Many hate the government system and complain about it all the time. Coming from a war-torn, unstable, and insecure country that offers NO protection, retirement, respect, care or even security for its people makes me adore and love America even more. America has done for me what my country has not: It’s offered me a solace, a place of peace and opportunity, and even naturalization (in one month’s time!). Now, that’s the American Dream. For me, it’s not one of riches and wealth, but one of opportunity and stability. One where one day my children will look back and thank their mom for being so bold and courageous, to take a step outside the comfort of home and family and make it out in the real world, thousands of miles away from the known, and into the unknown: to make their lives a better, secure place. A place where I am not persecuted for my faith in Jesus and can boldly mention His name and serve Him faithfully. I am His servant. He provided this opportunity and freedom, and I owe Him my life for it.

~Coming Next: New Year Resolutions for 2014~

When it Rains……It Pours

I have been through so much emotional stuff recently, it’s hard to believe that I can still keep it together. This past weekend, my boyfriend and I took a break. It’s been very difficult and I’ve spent the last few days grieving. It’s so hard to focus on other things when you feel like something you cherished and loved so much and someone you invested so much of your time in is now gone and it’s all over. It’s hard waking up and feeling like you lost your closest friend, and then you fight back tears every morning and pretend like everything is OK. I want to ignore and file away my relationship, thinking I can fight back my emotions, and look onward, but then, I find myself depleted and having no desire to work, focus, or do anything productive.

In additional to my emotional train wreck, as if that wasn’t stressful enough, I recently got accepted to a new position at my work. This position is a great move career wise and will open many doors of opportunity in the future. It’s exactly what I’ve been waiting and praying for in a long time: something new, challenging, interesting, and a fun break to the routine that I’ve struggled with. I start my new job on December 2nd and in this current three-week transition, I have five years of work that I need to organize, file in addition to write desk-notes, and then train my replacement. It’s a lot of work that needs a lot of focus, drive, and…………..I’m dreading it. What is an exciting time has turned into a dreadful time and I am having a hard time focusing and accomplishing anything.

On top of all this, I have had the hardest time keeping my focus with my health goals and eating right. That has been the least of my worries as I have eaten so much food the past few days, and have felt really sick. I can’t sleep because my tummy hurts. I mean, really…this sucks!!!!!!!!!!! It’s so hard to take care of myself when I am sad and depressed, but then I know if I at least tried to eat right, that would make me feel better.

Did I also mention that I’m looking for a new church and community? It’s like everything in my life is starting over and it’s veryyyy overwhelming. When it rains, it pours.

I have been reflecting on a few verses during this time which have helped my soul, that I thought I’d share:

Psalm 46:1-3: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,  though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Psalm 55:22: Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall

1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Psalm 119:71: It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

I highlighted the last verse because it’s so true. It’s soooo tempting to brush God off, write off all men, and feel like God doesn’t love me. It’s also tempting to use this season to find my “own” way and do things “my” way and not involve God in the painful process of healing. I find that it’s easier to run away and be selfish, than turn to God and come helpless. But, as the Psalm says, we learn God’s decrees in our weaknesses. 1 Corin 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Jesus power is made perfect in our weakness. It’s when we stop DOING things OUR way that we start resisting Him and fighting the pain, embracing Jesus and asking for HIS care, that we receive true forgiveness, peace, and love. I am longing for Jesus more than ever before. I am longing for His love and His return. This world is afflicted, but 1 Corin 10:13 reminds us that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” I am holding on to this promise, until He returns.

“Progress” Over 3 Weeks

I thought I would share some of the “progress” I’ve had in the last 3 weeks. I took pictures here and there, and so, here we go:

Chickensoup

This was the MF chicken soup. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and it’s actually pretty filling. I probably had this 3 days in a row!

Mushroomsbeef Mushrooms

This was a really good meal. I made meatballs and mushrooms for a quick dinner. All was well until I realized that the meatballs were filling me really fast and when I looked at the bag I realized they were: FULL FAT MEATBALLS instead of MEATLESS MEATBALLS. OOPSSS!! I had just consumed about 500 calories. Nice job.

Finalmeal photo 2 bocalettuce

Some healthy lunches I cooked “on the go” for dinner. All of them are on plan and were very filling. Can you believe you can consume such a great dinner and be on program? I love Medifast/Take Shape for Life!

lebanese sick

I’ve been sick the past 3 days…..so, when I’m sick, I like meals that are filling and remind me of home. The first picture is Lebanese zaatar (an herb mix with thyme and other zesty herbs) mixed with labne (lebanese yogurt) on a toast with herbal tea. The second picture is chicken soup with rotisserie chicken that I added in. The carrots and pasta are off the program, but hey, I was sick!

Fluff Fluffy3 Fluffy4

Let me introduce you to “Fluffy”. Fluffy is the new kitten that my boyfriend got and she is two months old. She is the CUTEST cat I have ever met. And, yes, that is her falling asleep everywhere on me. I HAVE NEVER BEEN ONE FOR CATS, but this cat changed everything. Isn’t she sooooooooooo cute and adorable?!

When Life Throws You a Curveball…

How do you react? I admit, I don’t react so well. It’s been 3 weeks and 2 days since my last post, and let me tell you…..in my world a TON of things can happen during that time!! Getting sick, my birthday, my friends’ birthdays, possible engagement and wedding plans (other wise known as “the serious talk”), leading a small group, and applying to a new job. Yes, ALL these things happened in 3 weeks. Can you believe it? Nor can I.

What is my tendency during times of weakness? Emotional turmoil. Contemplation. Prayer. Fear. Crying. Loneliness. Exhaustion. No time. Disorganization. Unsatisfaction. Discontentment. ALL of which lead to: EMOTIONAL EATING. I admit. I am a HUGE emotional eater. I hate it. I can’t control it. Food is where I turn for comfort. I wish I had a better answer, but I don’t.

To say that I have been following the program 100% is a lie. Did I gain all the weight? No. Thankfully, not. Am I having a hard time to start up? Yes. And, it sucks….big time. Everyday, I feel like I have to make a huge decision in my life. But, why on earth should I allow my feelings to dictate my food choices and behavior? I don’t have an answer to that question, but I am hoping that this blog will help me answer that. I promised to be accountable and share, and here I am, sharing my struggles with food. It’s not easy. This journey wasn’t promised to be easy. Putting my health FIRST is not easy. It means making it a priority above other things and people. It’s so hard! And, sometimes, I really don’t have the time to think and make myself a priority.

Today we had an “End of Fiscal Year Lunch”. Free food people, yes, free food. What were the choices? Salad and pizza. Dessert? Ice-cream. I was hungry. I had my two MF meals thinking, “this is the day, people. This is it. I want to be back on the program,” and BAM, I ate 3 pizza slices, a caesar salad and a bowl of ice-cream. Does it matter that the food was free? Not anymore. It sitting in my stomach and my poor tummy has to digest it. <life sucks!>

It’s so hard to make the right choice when all these temptations abound. But, that’s why it’s important to remind myself EVERYDAY why I am on this journey. I need to repeat it to myself. I need to find my support groups online and follow-up with them (e.g. read up on the Medifast boards). I need to read successful stories and remember that if they can do it, I can do it. I can’t forget, I can’t brush this program aside. I can’t waste the hard-earned money.

This is not easy people. It’s not easy. Losing weight is the hardest battle I have EVER had to fight in my entire life. But, I am NOT giving up. I refuse to allow failure to dictate my next course of action. I know I’m not perfect and I know that I will fail. I don’t expect a zero margin of error on this program. I know that life will be difficult and there will be tough choices to make along the way, but at the end of the day, I need to remember that this program is for my health. It’s for me. I need to care about my body and the way I treat it. I matter. It’s important I take care of myself. It’s important that I take the time to recharge. It’s OK to say “no”. I’m learning…and, it’s not easy :/

I found this quote I really like:

“Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off….the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases.” Rick Maksian

BE prepared to RUN the bases. What does it take to be prepared? Reading articles? Posting notes? Memorizing verses? Calling a friend? Writing in a journal? or blogging? Maybe, all the above. I guess we all have our weak points, but it’s those little things that keep us focused on the prize. And, I plan to do just that.

How about you? How do you prepare yourself for life’s curve balls?

Quick Food Update (Days 25-28)

I know I haven’t blogged about my food the past few days. Things have been going well, I’ll share some pictures below. I’m also running out of food and what I do have are the things I don’t like different types of soups. I also have the shakes but it’s really hard to prepare them without a blender (e.g. being in the office). Today, I wasn’t 100% on plan. I was at the baby shower for 5 hours and there were no MF emergency bars or anything I could take with me “on the go” to prepare for sitting that long without food. It was a struggle. I ate some protein at the baby shower to fuel my energy a little longer, but then I caved in for the cupcake. I actually don’t feel guilty about it, which is good. I know that this cupcake will not derail from my journey, I need to make a better MF order next time for account for emergencies.

My next shipment arrives on Tuesday. I ordered a bunch of “on the go meals” so I won’t find myself in these situations anymore. But, I am desperate for the food to arrive! Argh!

Here are two pictures of lunches I’ve had (sorry I didn’t take more this week):

boca burger salad

The one on the left was my lunch today. I had two vegetable burgers (Boca) with a green salad and mushrooms. I used “Annie’s Naturals Dressing Goddess” — it was delicious! (see: http://www.vine.com/p/annies-homegrown-goddess-dressing-199568) It has tahini and lemon juice and you can have TWO tablespoons of that– you can also never go wrong with these ingredients ;)

Picture on right is my lunch from work on Friday. Simple and delicious.

~ Onward ~

Spiritual Crossroads

Have you ever been at a place in your walk where you feel spiritually drained, indecisive, and exhausted? This is how I feel about my bible study woman’s group. Let me explain: My bible study is a mixed group of males and females, single and married, young and old. After we have a bible discussion, we break off into male and female groups. The men seem to have genuine friendship and great conversations. We always hear their laughter across the room. The women: NOT so much. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a more spiritually dead place. It’s always the 2-3 older women who dominate the conversation and talk about how miserable their lives are, how life has been so difficult for them, and end up taking up the whole time. It becomes a pity party and a counseling session for the same three people. Honestly, it’s worn us all out. We also don’t have a strong spiritual female leader. Someone who’s going to make sure these women don’t dominate and keep a strict schedule on time and sharing. It’s been a habit as of late to break us off into smaller groups to pray for each other, a way to avoid domination and confrontation. However, I have felt like that was stealing away from dealing with the main issue. It’s been very frustrating. Actually, this has been going on for a year and all throughout this time, I have wondered:

a. When is it appropriate to stay in a group and allow the Lord to use you to bless others and instigate change

and

b. When is it time to dust your feet and walk away?

What makes this decision even more difficult is that the bible study is hosted at my boyfriend’s house. In addition, the LORD really uses him in the group. He is the “behind the scenes” kind of guy who observes, prays, and encourages the group. He brings matters up to the leader in private and prays for the group with boldness. That’s the man I love, a man after God’s own heart. It’s a beautiful thing watching the Lord use him, but I have felt like the Lord has forgotten about me. How can I be used? What can I do? What’s my role?

Today, I was invited to a baby shower. The baby shower was for Alina, a married friend of mine from my old church. I was a little nervous about going to the shower. I haven’t seen her and the group for over a year since I moved to a new church and was worried I’d feel out of place, be bombarded with questions to justify my current decision to be at the new church, and pressured to return. As I am discovering of late, a lot of my fears are unfounded. I felt totally at place. Alina welcomed me with open arms and with so much love; she was really happy to see me. I also got to catch up with another great friend of mine called Casandra. Do you know the kind of friend whom you can sit and chat with for hours and continue just where you left off and it doesn’t feel the least bit awkward??? That’s how Casandra and I are. Our friendship is very intuitive and natural. We chatted almost the whole time. I had so much fun at the shower. Guests showered Alina with many gifts. She even invited guests who didn’t know the Lord and her neighbors. It was a very mixed group, yet, it felt so natural. Right before she was about to open her gifts, she mentioned what each person meant to her and explained the friendship. It was an informal introduction with her introducing us to each other, instead of us doing the introduction. It really gave me a glimpse of why she loved me and what I meant to her and I was really moved by that. After the gift opening party, I sat down some more with Casandra and realized how much I miss her and my friendship with women. We scheduled a coffee date for this week since it was getting late. I walked away from the shower thinking what I just experienced was really special and very enriching. I asked myself why, and here’s what I came up with:

It was real fellowship. I felt welcome. Conversations were reciprocated. There were touching moments, vulnerability, trust, encouragements, laughter, genuine love, and fun.

This is exactly what I is missing from my bible study group: Genuine fellowship which includes all the above.

Is this something you should expect from a group? Is it right to even have that expectation? How do you get genuine friendship from a spiritually dead group? I feel depleted with absolutely no desire to interact anymore. Almost everyone is selfish and unwilling to really open up. Actually, I don’t think the group even knows me well enough or has bothered to try. In the one year I’ve been there, I only know ONE girl really well who has really pursued me with passion. I have a really good friendship with her, but no one else, really.

I still don’t have the answers. I’m not sure what to do, but become more vocal about it. I have been passive for a while. It’s a hard barrier to break. It’s just one big mess and honestly, I’m not sure I even feel like investing. Maybe I am selfish about that.  I am selfish about that. I know I have been, but I also have my own spiritual struggles. As a matter of fact, the reason why I LEFT my previous church was because I struggled with legalism and self-righteousness. I left because spiritual pride got to my head.

Fast-forward one year. I don’t think I’ve gotten all that far and it’s been frustrating. As a matter of fact, both my roommate and I (who used to be in the same fellowship from old church) fell into the same spiritual struggle and frustration. She’s turned almost completely away from the LORD. That’s been very hard to watch, actually, she’s isolated me and a lot of her other friends. Actually, our friendship doesn’t really exist. I’ve had to accept that and that’s been the hardest (but most liberating) thing to do. But, I digressed.

I do have good news to share, though. I decided to do something I’ve been praying about for a while. I decided to join a woman’s Bible Study Fellowship (or BSF). Bible Study Fellowship is an international Christian interdenominational or parachurch fellowship of lay people offering a system of structured bible study (see https://www.bsfinternational.org/). A couple of my friends already go there and I have heard nothing but great things. I’m really hoping to get spiritually fed there amongst spiritually strong women. I’m hoping that they will feed into the well that I can pour into my spiritually struggling bible study.  Please pray, if you think of me. I start this group next week.

In the meantime, I’m also praying that the Lord shows me wisdom with the struggling bible study. Change is possible, it’s just going to take a long time……if not a miracle.

Unexpected Compliments (Day 23-24 / Week 3)

I drive over to my boyfriend’s house. Pull up the car, turn it off, walk up the steps, and knock on his door. He opens it and the first thing he says to me is, “WOW, your face looks smaller!”

That made my day :)

It’s those unexpected compliments that keep me going. It’s those compliments that remind me of my journey and why I’m on this journey. I chose to be healthy on September 9th, 2013 by joining Take Shape for Life. I knew the journey wasn’t going to be easy, and possibly long, but I am determined. I also know I’m not perfect and I may fall a few times, but I will brush myself off and move on. About five years ago, I was 40 lbs lighter than now, but I was and never have been at an ideal weight. The only time I remember I was 132 lbs was when I was 12 years old. And, I remember the image very well. I stepped on the scale, probably the first time ever, and realized “Wow, I’m only 132 lbs, that’s awesome.” Slowly, weight started creeping up and I would stand on the scale and the number would go up. I remember feeling out of control, not knowing what to do, my hormones were changing, I was growing out of my small body, and I didn’t know whether the weight gain was a good or bad thing. But, I’ve NEVER seen that number since!

I believe in dreams and I love dreaming. I’ve been dreaming about my “dream/ideal” weight for the longest time I could remember. I have reached a point where I want to achieve those dreams. I want to be free in my body and overcome all the insecurities I’ve held up for so long! I want to actualize and make it happen NOW.

quote

This quote reminds me that I have to “own up” my mistakes. I’ve been putting blame on so many people in my life for my actions: my parents forcing me to finish the last bite on my plate, being a victim of bullying as a kid, my environment being tough and food as comfort, having to think consciously about food as limiting my freedom, loneliness and depression, growing up in Saudi Arabia and feeling persecuted as a christian, insecurity, fear……the list goes on and on. I will do future blog post about these insecurities and why they’ve inhibited me.

What I know is this:

So long as we make excuses for ourselves, we will NEVER be free of the bondage of food and own up to our responsibilities.

No one can overcome this journey but yourself. I’ve read 100s of books on weight loss, but if YOU are not willing to lose the weight, no one will do it for you or motivate you enough. You have to own up to your part of the responsibility and do the hard work.

************************

Yesterday was weigh-in day. I’ve hit my third week mark and to my pleasant surprise, I lost 3.1 lbs!!!!! Yayie!! Feels great to feel the program working and hard work pay off! :D

I also wanted to share what I ate last night. I made tilapia with green beans and hearts of palm:

Tilapia

The tilapia turned out DELICIOUS! I had 7 oz of it (that’s how much fish we can have, whouhouu) and I sauteed it with soy sauce and cajun seasoning with a hint of cumin seasoning. It picked up flavor really well. Then, when I transferred it over to a dish, I used the pan’s seared seasoning to sautee the green beans. The hearts of palm were not as great as I hoped it would be. I bought them from Trader Joe’s and was expecting a different taste. I don’t know if it’s been canned for too long, but the expiration date was fine. Anyhow, the fish really made the difference!

Pushing onward :)

Day 21-22

Day 21: (Monday) went really well. I ate on plan and in the evening we had a roommate reunion dinner. I lived with five roommates for 3 years and we met each other from my old church. It was so hard to get our schedules together, since we’re all in different places now. Finally, we met last night and decided to eat at Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory is known for it’s large servings and heavy dishes. As a matter of fact, a few years back, people complained how the nutritional information wasn’t on the menu nor available online and so it was predicted that people were consuming about 2,000 calorie meals in one sitting!

Also, if you don’t know the cheesecake factory, it’s not only known for its cheesecake but delicious lunch/dinner menus. They make a *ton* of different foods, so it’s not just dessert :) The reason why I agreed to go to the Cheesecake Factory is because they came out with a skinnylicious menu. I ordered the grilled salmon with side vegetables and this is how it came out:

20131001-165103.jpg

It was very tasty, but I had to avoid the carrots since they’re high on the glycemic index. The sauce on the side (some kind of fish sauce) was too tempting to ignore, so I ate it. Flavor was very rich. I was definitely low on my greens though….as I have mentioned before, that’s the problem with eating out sometimes!

Day 22: (Tuesday; today) I had leftovers from Sunday for lunch at work today. That was the chicken with mushrooms and cauliflower. For some reason the chicken tasted funky. I don’t know what it is about leftover chicken, but it never tastes the same as when it’s first pulled out of the oven! I’m sooooo picky about my chicken and the way it’s prepared.  So, I made a run to the cafeteria and ordered their grilled chicken. It was a great substitute.

My boyfriend is sick today. I told him I would take care of him tonight, so that’s where I’m headed after work. Tender loving care should do the trick :) I’m planning on having tea with him and the rest of my MF meals. I can’t wait for my weigh-in tomorrow!

Day 20

NOTE: I am blogging for yesterday (new updates for today coming later).

Sunday was one of those days I got to really relax, read scripture, pray, and do a lot of things I’ve been slacking off on for a while (e.g. cleaning!). It was one of those “feel good” days. I loved it!

For lunch, I made something I really like:

Chicken with Mushrooms and Mashed Cauliflower (my favorite substitute for mashed potatoes!).

Here’s how I did it:

photo 2

I started out with microwaving a bag of cauliflower from Trader Joe’s, then mashing it in a bowl.

photo 1photo 3

I then added two wedges of LIGHT laughing cow cheese: Garlic Herb. This is the flavor that fits best. I tried the other ones with cauliflower, but they didn’t taste all that great. You don’t need to add anymore seasonings, in my opinion. It has rich flavor and gives the cauliflower a great seasoning-kick!

photo 1

I also recently bought a new thermometer for poultry and other meat (from Bed, Bath, Beyond), and it made ALL the difference in finding out when my chicken was done and keeping it from overcooking. I cooked the chicken breasts (I had two) for 40 min in a 400F oven. By the way, the cooking temperature of the chicken pictured here is low because I had let the chicken rest for a bit, but it was at 165 F when I pulled it out. 

photo 2

This is how moist the chicken was. I couldn’t believe it!!

By the way, this is probably the BEST time I had ever seasoned my chicken. Below are the seasonings I used:

photo 5

I let the chicken marinade with the dijon mustard, soy sauce, and lemon juice in the morning. Right before cooking, I sprinkled “Montreal Chicken” seasonings and I was impressed!! It gave the chicken the BEST flavor *ever*!!! [Believe it or not, it was actually my first time trying montreal chicken seasoning!]

photo 4

This is what the finished product looked like! The mushrooms were sauteed in olive oil (that I sprayed from a mist can, e.g. PAM spray).

I even have leftovers for this week :)

photo 3

Yayieee!!!!!

Later on that afternoon, I met up with a friend that I haven’t caught up with in a LONG timee! It was great girlfriend catch-up time. We literally spent 3.5 hours together talking about our lives, so crazy!

We went to Coral Tree Cafe.

photo 1photo 4photo 5

Starbucks gets old fast! My friends and I have been really enjoying this place lately. All their beverages are amazing and very tasty….better than Starbucks, in my opinion. It’s also nice and has a nice feel to it, like you’re in a warm house next to a fireplace sipping coffee.

I ended up ordering their Espresso Americana which turned out to be AMAZING and so delicious!

Coffee

I added half/half (only half of the jar it came in) and splenda to give it some flavor. I’m pretty sure I went slightly over my condiment requirements for this, but it was sooo worth it!! At least I didn’t have the chocolate cake that my friend ordered! It looked soooooo tempting (not pictured here).

I highly recommend this place, but I think it’s a California chain. So, if you’re in this neck of the woods — try it!

That was pretty much my day. Weekends are fun!

Day 19

I am happy to report that I am BACK ON TRACK and it’s been like that yesterday and today :) It’s important to know your triggers because when you do, you learn how to avoid them!

I thought I’d show you what I’ve been eating for my lean/green meals for the last few days (including the days I cheated), just to give an idea of how you can be creative with the program.

I bought this salad on Day 16. It’s from our work cafeteria. They had chicken tenders in the salad bar, so I added them with lettuce, tomatoes, an egg, olives, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Cafeteria salad

This salad is from Subway. I ordered it for lunch on Day 17, which was a Thursday. Thursday’s are when we have bible study, so I knew I wouldn’t be home to cook. The salad I ordered had double chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, peppers, and red wine vinegar. I was really impressed by how tasty it was!

Subway

On Day 18 (Friday, yesterday), I made my own dinner. This is 7 oz of shrimp, spinach, plum tomatoes all sauteed in soy sauce and cajun seasoning. Shrimp is one of my favorite foods.

photo 3

Today, Day 19, my boyfriend and I went shopping to buy a present for our friend’s daughter 1st birthday and my boyfriend mentioned he was getting hungry. I was getting hungry too and we were in the mall, so we went to the food court. I circulated all the different food venues and was surprised by the large selection of heavy, fat, fried, foods. It was really hard to find something healthy and SIMPLE! Eventually, I found a middle eastern place and ordered chicken kabab and substituted the rice with Tabouleh (pictured below) and kept the side salad that comes with it. It was really good. I skipped the bread and large tomato. I figured it would be over my green serving if I ate it all. I’m a little worried about the oil and seasonings being over my condiment requirements, but there’s only so much you can control when eating out!

Tablouleh  Middle Eastern

Pictured on left is the famous Lebanese tabouleh. Sorry, I took the picture after a bite! Was so hungry!

Chinese food

This picture is my boyfriend’s choice of chinese food. As you can see, EVERYTHING on his plate does not work for my program, LOL. In the old days, I would have ordered the same thing. We both love chinese food. It wasn’t too hard for me to resist the temptation, I was happy with my choice and it tasted great!

Two days down now being on program 100%. I’m going to do this!!!!

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