A reporter’s weight gain confession, and why carbs are not my friend

Thanksgiving is over and I’m kind of glad it is behind us. My first Thanksgiving in Haleyville in many years turned out to be a sad one. My grandmother got out of the hospital the day before. We certainly missed her home cooking. I know she was sad because she wasn’t able to get up, cook and serve everyone. She was, however, able to come to my mom’s house for lunch on Saturday. She is confined to a walker and it is very difficult for her to get around. So we were thrilled when she called and asked for us to pick her up and bring her to mom’s.

Friday, we had an unexpected death in the family. Monday was spent at the funeral home. It is always so heartbreaking when someone passes away. It is even worse when it happens around the holidays. Aside from that, I did enjoy being with my family. My niece Mary Beth and my nephew John spent the night on Friday. We played outside, went for a walk through the woods to pick pine cones and berries for an arrangement to put on my table, watched Duck Dynasty (my favorite show of all time) and we played a heated game of UNO with my dad. I’m proud to say I won!!!! I hope your Thanksgiving was happy and spent in the company of those you love most.

Now…let’s get to weight. Yes, I still weigh every day-religiously. Right now, my weight is 161…which means I’ve gained 5 pounds from Monday! I’m not ashamed to admit it. I don’t really get concerned about my weight as long as it remains in the 150’s. When I see 160 on the scale that is when I have to get serious. So why the weight gain? Well Tuesday, I ate a bowl of potatoes and a bowl of pasta with a Greek salad and grilled shrimp. I’m certain the potatoes and pasta is what put some of the weight on me. I’m sure the 4 cookies I had for breakfast the next morning didn’t help either (they were sugar-free but still…4 cookies!). Oh yea, I ate a hamburger and french fries with my parents after the funeral Monday. And last night, I had 2 plates of spaghetti…made with white pasta…not brown.  Why did I go overboard and eat foods I know will put weight on me?  I am certain it was a combination of things…stress being the number 1 reason. When I am worried or stressed or upset or bored out I tend to take it out on some of my favorite guilty pleasures. So what am I going to do about it? I’m certainly not going to make excuses and say I can’t get those few pounds off. I’ll cut back, make sure I am eating foods that contain a lot of protein and walk. That is the key. I’ve got to get off my behind and move around more. When the weather turns cold, I turn lazy. Not to mention I am so deeply involved in a Christmas project I don’t have time to concentrate on anything else (which is adding to my stress level).

If you ate too much during the holiday, now is the time to get back on track…before another big occasion to eat rolls around. You are not alone in your weight loss struggle. Let me tell you I get sick of dieting, weighing, measuring, scooping, skipping foods I love…etc. But I also don’t want that 184 pounds to come back. I refuse to let that happen! You should refuse to let it happen too!

My brother is down 38 pounds!! He is doing awesome! What is he doing to lose all that weight?  He eats a lot of salads, grilled meats, eggs, veggies. He also walks a few miles a day, which is key to any weight loss program. His goal is 50 pounds but I think he should stop at 40. My sister-in-law is down 16 pounds ( ladies you know it takes us longer to shed weight than it does the men). I am proud of her too!

Ok. So let’s get back on track everyone. Put down the bread, pasta, rice and pick up a green salad with some grilled meat. Throw out the soda can and replace it with diet or water. Get rid of the Thanksgiving weight before Christmas so you don’t have even more weight to get rid of at the start of the year.

Have a great day everyone!


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Thanksgiving-How my family celebrates and mom’s sugar-free banana pudding

This week many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. For the first time in more than 12 years…I will be home in Haleyville with mine. I have always had to work on Thanksgiving and the day after. This year, I am blessed to have those 2 days off. I plan to spend it with my sweet Grandmother and parents (my brother and his family are coming on Saturday). I am looking forward to sitting around Grandma’s table surrounded by those I love. I’ve missed out on so many holidays through the years. it has been difficult to be away from them. I feel like a college kid counting down the days until Thanksgiving break 🙂

As I have said countless times, Grandma West is a phenomenal cook. She handled all of our big family meals growing up. For Thanksgiving she always prepared a feast…turkey and ham, her famous dressing and homemade rolls, corn, peas, my great-grandmother’s sweet potato casserole, mac and cheese, green beans, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, slaw, fruit salad, and every kind of desert you can imagine. Carb heavy, calorie laden, but oh so good!!!

Grandma isn’t able to cook anymore. I sure do miss eating those big meals. My mom handles the menu now and as much as she would like to prepare and serve the same dishes we grew up on, our families diet has changed drastically. 3 of us can’t eat sugar and we have to watch our carb intake too. So how do you feed a big family at the holidays and still find something everyone will eat? It takes some planning, let me assure you.

I’ll meet mom and dad at Cracker Barrel Thursday (my first Thanksgiving off and mom isn’t cooking ha!). Then on Saturday-when the family is together she is smoking chicken. We will have all kinds of healthy vegetables to go with it. The desert table will be sugar-free too. Before you feel sorry for us…this will be a fantastic meal! Sure we will miss some of the old staples but you learn to make adjustments and move on. And this year, it’s not about the food…it’s about enjoying time with GG.

Now if Grandma were cooking…she would tell you to sit down and eat up! As Lane says “she likes to feed her company to death.” He’s right 🙂 But for those of us who want to keep our weight in check…here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you sit down to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal. First, Don’t stress out…Second, don’t let your nerves get the best of you…and third, don’t punish yourself. Enjoy the day but try to make healthy choices.

The key to eating healthy during Thanksgiving is self-control (which I lack when it comes to home cooking). Don’t starve yourself the whole day and then overdo it at dinner. Eat breakfast when you get up and a light, early lunch. Keep a protein drink and protein bar handy to help keep hunger away.

If you’re the one cooking the Thanksgiving dinner, modify the recipes to reduce their calorie and fat contents. Whip up mashed potatoes with skim or low-fat milk instead of whole, and cut the amount of butter you add in half — if you add these ingredients at all. Use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream to top baked potatoes.

If you need a recipe to follow…try this one. It’s from my buddy Dawn.

Savory Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes

10 ½ oz russet potatoes, boiled and peeled

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 oz reduced-fat Neufchatel Cheese

1/8 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1 tsp light Smart Balance

1/8 tsp garlic, minced

1/8 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning

1/8 tsp dried sage

dash onion powder

sea salt (to taste)


1. Peel and cube potatoes, then boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. et cool. ahead of peeling, cubing, and cooking in boiled water for 20 minutes until tender; drain.

Tip:I like to leave a few chunks of potato for added texture.

2. Using a potato masher or electric beater, slowly blend the rest of the ingredients into potatoes until smooth and creamy. Season with sea salt to taste.

Nutrition Facts:Calories 96, Fat 3.51g, Carbs 15.31g, Protein 3.29g

If you’re making a green bean casserole, don’t use creamy soups as a base, but instead opt for a water-based broth. Skip the high-calorie pecan pie and opt for a pumpkin pie instead.

If there are baked sweet potatoes, steamed beans and other vegetables, munch on those while waiting for the turkey to arrive or simply have them as side dishes.

Avoid appetizers, snacks and finger foods. These are usually high in fat and calories and won’t fill you up. Instead, save up the calories for the main dishes. Go easy on the stuffing too. A cup of homemade stuffing contains about 400 calories.

Let’s talk sweets. If you are in charge of the menu you can control the calorie and sugar content without sacraficing taste. None of your guests have to know they are eating healthy for Thanksgiving!! Best of all, you will get all the praise for these delicious treats and you won’t feel guilty.

My family has 3 sugar free favorites mom must fix around the holidays. I am sharing her recipes with you. The first is a sugar-free pumpkin pie, my brother’s favorite. The next is egg custard made with Splenda, my favorite. And sugar-free banana pudding, everybody’s favorite!!

I hope you all have a blessed holiday. Be safe if you are traveling and by all means…enjoy the time you have with those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Mom’s Happy Holiday Pumpkin Pie

1 prepared pie crust 1 teaspoon sugar free maple syrup

3/4 cup Splenda

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teasppon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 egg white

1/3 cup fat-free half-and-half

3 Tablespoons heavy cream

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend pumpkin puree, Splenda, cornstarch, spices and salt in medium bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. In a separate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Add to pumpkin mixture and stir well. Pour pumpkin filling into a prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until set in the center and the crust is golden brown.

Egg Custard Pie

2 1/2 cups milk

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cups Splenda

pinch of salt

1 unbaked pie crust

Bring milk and sugar to boil. Add eggs. Add salt and vanilla. Pour hot milk over egg mixture slowly and mix well. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Linda’s Creamy No-Cook Banana Pudding

1 large vanilla instant pudding mix, sugar free

1 large Cool Whip

1 box vanilla wafers

1 (8 ounce) sour cream (mom’s secret ingredient)

3-5 bananas

Mix sugar-free pudding with 2 cups cold milk until thick. Add Cool Whip and sour cream. Stir together. Layer bananas and wafers. Top with 1/3 pudding mixture. Put another layer of bananas and wafers. Add the remaining pudding. Top with whole wafers. Chill.

*you can also use dietary vanilla wafers

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11-12-12 Sweet taters and a special pre Turkey Day blog coming soon…

Hi everyone!

Can you believe Thanksgiving will be here in less than 2 weeks?? Have you planned your menu? Do you know what you will serve? How much will you eat and are you planning to have foods that are healthy and somewhat diet friendly?

This will be the first Thanksgiving I have spent with my family since college! I am really excited, though mom informed me she isn’t cooking that day. Instead, we are meeting at Cracker Barrel in Florence (which is fine with me! I’ll need a breakfast menu please. Yum!). She is cooking on Saturday when my brother and his family come to Haleyville. We are having a very untraditional holiday meal…smoked chicken and vegetables! Oooohhhh yea! Since Chris and I are on diets, 3 of us have sugar issues and don’t eat carbs poor ole mom really has her work cut out.  Don’t worry. We won’t starve. She’ll have enough cooked for an army. It will be a high protein meal that won’t leave us feeling stuffed or sick from blood sugar spikes.  

This weekend I bought a bag of the prettiest sweet potatoes. Kroger had them on sale for 99-cents a pound…and these potatoes were whoppers!!! I washed them, rubbed the skin down with a little butter and baked them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. So delicious and so good for you! Did you know sweet taters contains Vitamin C, calcium, folate, and beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes have a glycemic load of only 17 compared to an index of 29 in  a white potato. In other words…they are diabetic friendly. Let me tell you…sweet potatoes are delicious! I like mine steaming out of the oven with a little squirt of light butter and some Splenda Brown Sugar. Now that is a meal!

I love red meat but try to limit the amount I eat. I grilled a fat steak Saturday night, had a sweet potato and deviled some eggs. Such a healthy and protein packed meal. I love deviled eggs too! I substitute them for potatoes. They are very filling, no carbs and the calorie count is much lower. I made a tray of deviled eggs to take to Grandma’s birthday last Saturday…they were gone in just a few short minutes. Of course I think I ate like 5 of them! Mmmmmmm.

So are you worried about over eating Thanksgiving? Don’t…you can enjoy food along with your guests if you will just plan your menu in advance. Stick with turkey, green vegetables, deviled eggs, fruit and whip up a sugar-free desert. Angel Food cake is always an excellent diabetic or low-calorie choice. Serve it plain or mix unsweetened cocoa powder, a small container of non-fat Greek Yogurt with Cool-Whip and serve on top. Yum! My mom makes a sugar-free banana pudding that will leave you begging for more! I will post a special “Thanksgiving Day”food suggestion blog next week. I will add some of these recipes for you to try 🙂

Have a great day!


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10-30-2012-Prednisone, working out, and cabbage rolls

Hello everyone!

You asked for it so here is the return of my “No Excuses” weight loss blog. I took a break from blogging…not necessarily dieting. Yes, I still watch what I eat on a daily basis but I have stumbled off into a few bad habits again so this blog is as helpful to me as it is to you.

My weight is 159 today so yes I’ve gained back a few pounds. Part of that is due to medication I’m taking for allergies (read post below), the other part is not keeping close enough track of how much I am eating and eating out too much. That is why I encourage everyone to WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU EAT.  I stopped doing that and it shows. The only way to know how many calories or carbs you are consuming is to take the time to log it on paper or into your smart phone. I’ll get the extra few pounds off. I’m not worried about that. But I do have to make a committment to myself to stay strong and honest. That is why the blog is a win/win. It will keep me on the straight and narrow while hopefully helping you develop a weight loss plan.

How are you doing on exercise? I participated in the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run recently. It was awesome!!!!! I encourage you to start training now and sign up for next year’s event! The weather was perfect!

I’m also doing a cross training DVD at home. It’s great if you are looking for a quick intense cardio routine. I’ve also got a few workout video’s downloaded to my smart phone. I have no excuse for not exercising…neither do you! In this time of technology there are tons of free apps to get you motivated. I even have a pedometer on my phone to keep track of the number of steps I take everyday. My favorite app is a Nike Training app that gives you workouts and tracks your progress. Do you have a favorite way to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise in?

Several weeks ago I developed terrible eye allergies. They were so bad my eyes swelled together and I couldn’t see. They were swollen, red, itchy, watery (that is still a problem), painful, burning. I tried to cover my eyes with makeup and every other OTC product I could find. I wore sunglasses everywhere and a ball cap to try to help disguise what was clearly standing out on my face. Finally it got so bad I had to go to the allergist. After several hundred dollars shelled out in co-pays, meds, drops, etc my doctor put me on Prednisone steroids to help with the swelling. 2 rounds later and the problem seems to be somewhat better (keep your fingers crossed). The major side effect to Prednisone, though, is water retention and swelling. That is why my face looks puffy on tv. I have what my co-worker Liz Hurley affectionately calls “The Prednisone Puff.” ha! Any of you who have taken steroids know what that means. Most of the swelling has gone down since my last dose and I’m starting to see a difference on the scale again. That is some relief considering how HUNGRY those steroids made me. Anyway…a lot of you asked what was wrong so I thought I would let you know…I’m ok, it’s just allergies 🙂

This weekend I made savory stuffed cabbage rolls. They were delicious (aside from the fact that cooked cabbage stinks). It’s high in protein, very low in carbs and tastes like lasagna–without the fat and calories. The recipe is very versatile and healthy. Note: It is a little time-consuming to make. So if you have a few hours on a Saturday where you don’t have much to do by all means indulge in this little piece of culinary heaven.

Here’s the recipe:

1 medium head cabbage

1 pound ground beef

1 pound sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg

1 can tomato sauce or 1 jar spaghetti sauce

cheese (optional)

Put the head of cabbage in a pot. Cover with water. Remove the cabbage and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Submerge the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water and cover. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Brown the beef and onion. Turn off the heat. Cook the rice according to package directions. Dump it in with meat, onion and seasonings. Add egg.

When the cabbage is ready, remove it from the water onto a cookie sheet. Very carefully remove leaves. Cut the thickest part of center rib out of each loaf, about 1-2 inches. There will be a little “V” in the middle of each leaf. Divide the meat filling between the leafs and roll up jelly style. but tucking in the ends so the filling stays put. Place the rolls in a deep dish casserole dish.

Pour tomato sauce over the rolls. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle cheese, and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand before serving.

So what is a girl or guy to do when it comes to planning menu’s. Many of you have asked for me to blog what I eat so you will have a base to go on. The best piece of advice I can give you is to set down and figure out foods that fit into your calorie range. It takes time, yes, but you know more than I do what your dietary needs are. I suggest you go through your fridge and pantry and remove any stumbling blocks. Replace high calorie foods with something much more healthy. Example: doughnut for high fiber cereal. Blueberry muffin exchanged for eggs and bacon. Keep portions sensible, try to curb the carbs, and eat lots of veggies.

I will try to post meal plans to the blog. I am posting once a week so it may take me some time to post everything you need.

Have a great week everyone!


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Day 235-Conquering diabetes and beef stroganoff-low carb style :)

30 pounds down…10 more to go!!! I’m sticking to my healthy eating plan. Are you?

I am very happy to report my brother is doing well transitioning into a diabetic lifestyle. The weight is falling off, he’s no longer on medication, he stays away from sweets and foods that are bad for him, and his outlook has improved greatly. I know it has been difficult but Chris has handled his diagnosis like a trooper! Today, he went to Newk’s and ordered a salad for lunch. He said it was delicious and he couldn’t imagine going back to his old ways again. Keep up the good work Chris!!

This next post is half rant half diet related. I read where bacon prices are about to skyrocket. That, of course, includes any cut of pork. The reason behind the price outbreak is due to the severe drought conditions and not having enough grain to feed the hogs. Meat is expensive now but just wait it’s going to get even worse. With that said, being on a low-carb diet requires that you eat meat, salad, eggs, etc but who can continue to afford the prices. I stock up on meat when I catch it on sale. I freeze it and use only the amount I need.  I use that meat to prepare low-carb meals which help keep my weight in check. Luckily, I can compensate for some meat dishes by filling with mushrooms and non starchy vegetables.

One of my favorite low-carb meals is beef stroganoff. It’s like a chunky well-seasoned comfort food in a bowl but it is very Atkins Diet friendly. I prepare mine without the noodles. Yes I said no noodles. No you don’t need the noodles to enjoy this hearty dish. In fact you won’t even miss it. You’ll be so drawn into the warm, beefy goodness you’ll forget all about the carbs. In fact, this recipe is from the Atkins Diet plan. It contains 4 net carbs and 28 grams of protein!!


  • 1 1/4 pounds skirt steak or beef tenderloin, cut into 2 x 1 strips
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 cup small white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup water or stock
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


Heat oven to warm setting. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown meat in batches, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a platter and place in oven.Melt butter in skillet; add onion and cook 3 minutes, until softened. Add mushrooms. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushroom liquid evaporates. Stir in broth and cook 10 minutes, until mushrooms are coated with a thick sauce. Stir in sour cream and mustard. Add meat and accumulated juices. Reduce heat to low and cook 2-3 minutes, until meat is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Day 228-Bike away the blues and crusted honey mustard chicken tenders

Last night I hopped on my elliptical and worked out for about 15 minutes before I got completely bored. It was such a nice night I grabbed my helmet and rode my bicycle for  3 miles. It felt great to clear my mind, focus on something good for me, while enjoying the smell of fall in the air. Afterwards I plopped down in the recliner to work on a few projects. Hey, not everything I do is work related. I have lots of hobbies that keep me busy too. 🙂 

Meal planning can be difficult especially when you have a family to cook for. It can be even more difficult when someone in your family suffers with a health issue like diabetes. My brother and his wife are learning how to plan and prepare meals that are healthy and very low in sugar. When you’ve always eaten whatever you want it can be difficult to suddenly become restricted. It will take some time for them to figure out what works best but I have no doubt Chris and Sarah will be successful. Chris is already feeling better. His sugar has come down significantly with help of medication and diet. It is good to see him getting back to his old self.

Tonight, I am planning to fix Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken. It’s a Weight Watcher recipe that is really good and much better for you than regular fried chicken tenders. You can make modifications to this recipe by replacing honey mustard with buttermilk or a beaten egg to dip the chicken pieces in. I like the honey mustard because it gives the chicken some pizzaz. Since the chicken tenders are baked not fried there is no added fat from oil, the corn flakes have no impact on blood sugar levels and the chicken will give you a protein boost. By the way…the Weight Watcher Points Plus Value is 7.

Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken

non-stick cooking spray

2/3 cup light honey mustard dressing

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup(s) corn flake crumbs

1 pound uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 425 F. Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, combine honey mustard, salt, and pepper. Remove 1/3 cup and set aside.

Place corn flake crumbs in a shallow bowl. Dip chicken into dressing mixture and then corn flake crumbs. Place on cookie sheet.

Bake until chicken is golden and no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes.

Drizzle remaining dressing mix (the 1/3 cup that was set aside) over chicken breasts and serve.


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Day 228-Liz Hurley Ribbon Run and peanut butter bites

I am registered for the 9th Annual Liz Hurley 5K Ribbon Run scheduled for October 20th. This will be my first time to participate and I’m pretty excited about it. 🙂 I have to buy a new pair of tennis shoes soon though. One has a hole in the bottom and my foot gets wet if it’s been raining outside.

Has the weather got you feeling bad or drug out? My friend Dawn, who is a professional trainer, posted on Facebook this morning that changes in weather can play a direct role in how you feel. She suggests a protein drink or smoothie to help boost your energy and immunity. Great tip! Thanks Dawn!

Those of you who follow my blog know just how much I love peanut butter! I eat a serving at least once a day. Usually I take care of my PB fix before I go on set at 4. It keeps me from being hungry, gives me energy and makes for an awesome high protein snack. So when my friend and co-worker Brian Fowler told me about his peanut butter protein bites I had to give them a try. I am so glad I did! I took a batch to my brother Saturday. He liked them and he can be a picky eater. They are simple to make, low in sugar and you probably have the ingredients in your pantry. **Keep in mind-as delicious and healthy as they are, they still have calories in them ** You can add dried fruit to them too. I love prunes (sounds better when you call them dried plumbs, right?) They are so delicious! I cut up a few and added them in. The prunes really bring out the taste of the peanut butter. Score!


Here’s the recipe:

* 1/2 cup honey

* 1 cup peanut butter

* 3 cups oats

* 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

* any combination of chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and roll into balls. Chill to prevent stickiness.

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