Garage Cleaning

So this morning, I was feeling guilty about how very not-lo-co I’d been for the first half of this weekend. With my only child now gone off to college, we’d decided to spend at least 2 weekends a month in New York City and this was our first foray.

Friday night, we made plans to meet friends at Rouge Tomate, a health-oriented, one-star Michelin restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side. I was intrigued by Frank Bruni’s 2009 review and excited to try this new-to-me place. Overall, though, it was disappointing; we found the food expensive and precious. Or as my husband later said, ‘that was the most we’ve paid for a pretty small amount of food. And it wasn’t even great.’ In the end, I left the restaurant hungry … and that led to unhealthy munching… the exact opposite of the restaurant’s – and my – intentions.


Sadly things got worse.  I was still hungry the next morning, so after an early Starbucks run that included half a multigrain bagel, we strolled across the park (at least the day was gorgeous) and met up with a different NYC friend for brunch at Bar Boulud. Still feeling hungry (at this point, I’m not sure I can blame this on Rouge Tomate, but, um, I am), I ordered their version of eggs florentine – and I even replaced the ham with lox (though that’s because I prefer lox, not because I was being at all virtuous.)

My brunch choice might have been fine-ish, lo-co-wise if I had not eaten much of the hollandaise. But not only did I eat it, I scooped it up with a piece of bread. Very uncharacteristic of me.  Sadly delicious.

Then we trekked back to Grand Central, and since we were going to a chili-and-beer party that night we stopped at Baked By Melissa to get a 24 pack as a hostess gift (lest you think I’ve gone totally mad, these are MINI cupcakes.. one bite each!) And, well, I just had to get a 3 pack for the train ride home.

So this morning, after a 24 hour binge of far too much non-lo-co eating and the only exercise a slow walk back and forth through Central Park, I decided today would be better.  After a reasonable breakfast, we decided to clean the garage.

Which took four hours.

Feeling like I’d been run over by a train, I looked up how many calories I’d burned. Garage cleaning wasn’t listed in My Fitness Pal (read why I ADORE this fab app here), but ‘cleaning as a light, moderate effort’ was — and for four straight hours, I’d burned 548 calories for a person my size.  And let me tell you, what we did today was no ‘light effort.’ I’m not sure if what we did would count as ‘heavy, vigorous effort’ for 4 hours, but if it did, that’d be 658 calories burned.

So my garage cleaning penance burned something like 600 calories.

Who knew garage cleaning could burn so many calories?  Woot!

Of course, we then decided we’d earned a trip to Shake Shack.

Luckily, the line at 2pm on Sunday was too-too-too long, so we left and headed to a taco place where I devoured 2 fish tacos and a side of black beans.

So now all I’ve got to do is figure out how to have a lo-co dinner and I’ll be back on track.

The only problem is… that bottle of wine is calling to me…..



My Dinner With Beans

So I don’t really know yet what I’m really supposed to DO to lower my cholesterol (I like a plan, with steps!), but I know that eating more fiber and less animal fat is important, so I looked through Mark Bittman’s fabulous book, How to Cook Everything, and decided to go with his White Beans with Cabbage, Pasta and Ham recipe for our first lo-co dinner.

Yes, it had ham.  I get that doesn’t make sense.  But here’s what I figured — though this recipe does not fit with the NO animal fat plan, it has to have way LESS FAT than a regular meat and potatoes kind of meal.  I could be wrong (this recipe doesn’t show nutritional info), but hey, it also had beans…  So at least it was a positive step.

Why this as my first Lo-Co recipe?  Especially since I don’t even like ham all that much?  Well, because I figured if my very first ‘bean dinner’ had ham in it, there was a chance that my son would try it.

And he did!

OK, so he didn’t love the dish, but he liked it…a little.  Even ate a decent amount of it, before I told him he could switch to an alternate dinner (he just plain needs calories, this kid).

And here’s a bonus:  by doubling the pasta called for in the recipe, I had already prepared an emergency second dinner for my son (which, as mentioned, was called into immediate play) – without one minute of extra work.

Love that.

My husband and I liked the dish too – for something with cabbage (not on either of our Top 10 lists), it was decent.  Not great, but pretty good.  And, you know, that is not bad – not bad at all – for a dinner based on beans.

Today, I’m planning to have the leftovers for lunch.  And I love nothing more than dinner for lunch.

Except for maybe ice cream.


Goin’ Low Cholesterol

Changing to a low cholesterol lifestyle (read the About Me page for WHY I have to change) feels, well, totally daunting.

I started with good intentions and high hopes.  How hard could it be?

My first step of course was to google ‘low cholesterol.’  (Thank goodness correct spelling doesn’t matter because it is nearly impossible for me to type cholesterol’ correctly.  That ‘e’ always ends up as an ‘o.’)

But the results were disappointing.  All I found were diets that I could buy (and even those looked sketchy), a bunch of medical jargon, and loads of disparate and very basic info about proper diet for lowering cholesterol:  cut out animal fats and start eating oatmeal, grains and fruits/veggies.  Plus exercise daily.

But I know all that already.  We all do. The question is:  how are we supposed to actually DO that? Where do you start?  It almost feels like you have to go vegan or something – and that is just way too dramatic to be realistic, at least for me. (Especially w/ an underweight teenage boy who would like to eat steak every day… and chooses no food rather than, oh, say chicken, if no beef is available.)

So, I’m determined to see if I can bring down my cholesterol on my own.  Because I REFUSE to go on Lipitor at age 47 without a fight.  While it may turn out that I have to go on a statin – everyone in my family eventually does — there is just no way I’m going to go on more meds unless I’ve tried EVERYTHING first.   (Did I mention yet that I just had to go on Rx Prevacid for acid reflux that will not go away?  Am hoping that delightful new development is temporary…)

And that means I need to find a way to overhaul my (our family’s) eating habits.  A way that does NOT require spending hours/day planning meals or cooking.  A way that does not require me to cook entirely separate beef meals for my son – and maybe, just maybe, could shift his eating habits the tiniest bit.

I’ve got four months to make progress — before my doctor insists on a statin.  Four months to research, learn and implement a new Lo-Co lifestyle.  (OK, it’s a stretch, I know… but I can’t keep typing ‘cholesterol’ and loco is how I feel right now, so I’ve invented “Lo-Co” as shorthand for Low Cholesterol.)

Four months to my next fasting blood test.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that keeping my mind and fingers busy with this blog will keep me away from the Phish Food … let’s hope so, because I bought THREE pints on Thursday before the snow storm…and haven’t yet tossed them out!)