Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March recap and a little Tennis Tuesday too!

March started out good but somewhere along the way things started going a little downhill.  Motivation and the ebbs and flows, I guess.  Not sure.  All I know is that I can do better.  I want to do better.  We now have a pretty solid plan in place and I'm excited to get this weight loss train a rolling once more.

I'll weigh in tomorrow but this is the most current pic of me taken this morning.  Weigh - ins on April Fool's just seem cruel. 

I'm still taking things pretty easy on the old shoulder but it is doing about 1,000 times better than what it was last Wednesday.  I have range of motion completely back and only the slightest discomfort when I sleep (I think its still bruised inside and under the skin).  And I'm officially out of the sling as of today too!  I don't have to play tonight so that will help.  I may attempt to practice a bit tomorrow just to see how it goes.  If it hurts, I will stop though.  I'm just anxious to get back on the courts. 

Also I'm going to attempt to get back to making these protein shakes more often.  When I was actually losing,  I would have one of these a few times a week either replacing a snack or breakfast so putting this back in the rotation is a must. 

This one is Cake Batter flavored.  All of the yumminess, none of the bad stuff.

So with the food part heading the in the right direction and having Chris on board fully, because apparently I've hit a point in my weight loss where I can't seem to do it alone, we've come up with a pretty good plan.  Sometimes Mr. Skinny Geek has a smart idea (who am I kidding, he always does!)... and he suggested that since all too soon here in South Louisiana humidity will descend upon us and we will be wringing with sweat at 5am, that we instead get up and do our daily walks at his work instead of mosquito infested 100% humidity.    So we did a trial run this morning and it went pretty well!  And because we walked on carpet and not concrete (AND more importantly in air conditioning), he actually made it to 30 minutes instead of 16 from the day before due to his sciatica flaring up.   Of course the view isn't all that spectacular...

The roof has a freaky 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe

This mall used to be the place to be in the 70s/early 80s.  Now it is just offices.  Sad.  I spent many, many quarters in the arcade that was right around here. 

But you get the drift.  And because I had the morning off, I went to the gym also and did 35 minutes on the elliptical and then 20 minutes of leg work.  BOOM!  Good day indeed!

I'm not going to lay down any concrete plans for April just yet.  I do have a couple of things I want to see happen (like us to not lose the first round in a tennis tournament that one of my teammates and I signed up for!) and also just to get in a good routine between my meal planning and us eating better at home.  And then of course the exercise part.  I will say this.  I want to attempt to hit 2500 exercise minutes in April  That will be my only 'major' goal I think with a few minor ones spread around.  With all the walking we plan to start doing (and hopefully continue with) and tennis, I should be able to hit it.


Tennis Tuesday - Blerg, I had a whole new plan for this week and I was going to discuss the backhand return and show the importance of over-grip in defending against hand blisters but 1) I got injured and 2) my cell phone decided to crap out and I lost a lot of my pictures.  So, no tennis-y stuff today other than this.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weigh In Wednesday

Weigh In Wednesday

Good morning guys!

Another Weigh In Wednesday is here.  I'm happy to say that I'm down .8 this week to 201.2.  Wish it would have been more but once again the weekend sunk me food-wise.  And since we did eat Chinese food Saturday too, I'll happily take that .8 and run with it.

Quickie post here but I wanted to mention that we lost our match last night.  We gave it our all but it just wasn't in the cards.  I think a lot of mental block on my behalf went on because I really think we could have taken them down.  We lost 2-6, 4-6.  My other teammates didn't fare so well either.  We ended up not even starting until closer to 8:40pm (we normally play at 6:30) and it was an actual racquet club that we were playing at rather than the YMCA.  Talk about being out of our comfort zone.  And then of course, being an "elite" racquet club, they required that we wear all white.  Again, no comfort zone there,  I like my snazzy colors and bondi bands.  And then finally, during the first set I took a pretty bad tumble going after the ball (it went in though and we got the point at least) but in doing so I scrapped both knees pretty badly and also felt a "pop" in my shoulder.  I continued playing because other than being shaken up, it didn't affect anything at the time.  We finished out the match and I could tell the shoulder was off and that it would be sore this morning.

Holy effing hell.  I am in some pretty bad pain right now.  (And yes, I'm actually about to head to the local after-hours clinic as soon as they open).  I doubt seriously my doctor would be able to take me today anyway.  I had to get Chris to help me get dressed and I stupidly drove to work by myself.  Turning the steering wheel and getting my seatbelt on were not so fun either.

Soooo, hopefully it will be nothing more than a strain.  Mr. Google says it could be anything from a dislocated shoulder to a rotator cuff injury.  Uh, I hope it's the first one (strain).

If there is any good news it's that it is not my serving arm at least.   Will keep you guys posted as to what the Doc says.

The pic of me was prior to the match.  Trust me, there was no smiling after.  Or today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guest post by Mr. Skinny Geek - Cooking can be awesome!

This is a guest post by my hubby, Chris (aka Mr. Skinny Geek).  All opinions are our own nor were we paid for this review.  

Hehe.  She called me 'skinny'.  I love the anonymity of the internet.

As those of you who have followed my adventures know, I’m not shy about reporting in when things go hilariously and expensively wrong (see exhibits a, b and c).  The way I figure it, things have already gone to hell so someone might as well get a laugh out of it.

Exhibit A - Car Maintenance

Exhibit B - Fixing a toilet

Exhibit C - Cat prints in concrete flooring

So it’s with no shame or embarrassment that I tell you about my experience learning to cook sous vide with the Anova Immersion Circulator that I recently purchased for no other reason than that I had been threatened by my wife with baked chicken for lunch and I needed to throw her off the scent.

I hate baked chicken.  I loathe baked chicken.  Baked chicken is to cuisine what The Temple of Doom is to Indiana Jones movies – it’s unappetizing, simultaneously better and worse than you remember, but we make a lot of excuses for it because it’s healthy and at least it doesn’t star Shia Lebouef.  But when trying to support the Skinny Geek, the love of my life who is trying to eat right and stay healthy, Rule #1 is that sometimes you just have to eat it because it’s healthy, not because it’s delicious.  

Rule #2: always have a distraction ready.

And before torches are lit and pitchforks equipped, my distaste for baked chicken has nothing to do with Skinny Geek’s cooking – I’m the one that can’t bake a chicken breast.  Hers come out pretty damn good probably around 2 out of 3 times.  Mine comes out like Silly Putty coated in talcum powder.  Despite perfect thawing, an even coating of cheese or bread crumbs or whatever (anything to make it edible), and constant, careful monitoring it like it’s the only kid at the school bus stop with a tuba, I still can’t properly prepare the most basic meat on the planet.

It was time for a new approach.

Gadgetry.  A new toy.  Fire-and-forget cooking.  All of this for a $200 price tag so we could discuss proper allocation of money instead of baking chicken, and I wouldn’t have to revisit that revolting, dry, sizzling bird for at least two days thanks to Amazon Prime’s free 2-day shipping.  I really couldn’t pass that up – it was everything I ever wanted.

Sous vide cooking is way less French than it sounds.  In fact, I can’t actually think of a more American concept for preparing a meal: take a sensor capable of measuring the temperature of water to within fractions of a degree – the kind of technology that detect can the early stages of an infection in an underprivileged child in Africa, or measure temperature fluctuations of a spacecraft O-ring, allowing us to poke God in the eye with the power of mathematics and fire – and couple it with a tiny propeller and a heating element, clamp it to a pot and allow us to cook perfect meat, unattended and worry-free.


Ok, I’ll bring it down a notch, so you’ll really understand the gravity of the situation.  I can’t stress enough the simplicity in what I’m about to tell you: I bought a thing, I took it out of its box, I put it in some water with a bag of food and said food came out perfect with zero effort.  I feel like I need to look over my shoulder because I’ve just beaten the universe at a game of Texas Hold ‘Em.  I stuck out my foot and tripped Hermes as he sprinted amongst the clouds, I unraveled the threads of fate right under the noses of the all-seeing sisters and knitted a thong with the string.  I caught the Road Runner.

With science.

When you put meat in the oven at 400 degrees, the goal isn’t to bring the temperature of the meat up to 400 degrees.  The idea is to get the interior of the meat to the proper temperature so that fat, oils, enzymes, proteins and sugars interact in ways that sterilize it and make it pleasing to the eye and to the palate.  This actually happens around 60°C/140°F, so even after an enormous waste of energy, years of practice resulting in countless pounds of ruined meat, split-second timing born of years of experience, and a whole lot of luck, the center of your steak may be a perfect medium rare, but surrounding matter is still cooked slightly beyond the desired temperature and the outside is anywhere from deep brown to charred.  Yes, I realize that there are a lot of backyard savants who cook the perfect steak or burger every time with nothing more than a spatula and the liquid level in a beer can as the only timer.  I’m not one of those people.  I’m an average cook when it comes to meals-in-minutes and hilariously decadent snacks (remind me to tell you about crispy Mexican pizza sometime), but the mysteries of the grill elude me.

So instead of heating up an entire oven or begging the BBQ gods for their favor and mercy, all one needs to do when cooking sous vide is simply heat the water up to the desired, extremely specific temperature, vacuum pack the meat of your choice, and let Sir Isaac Newton do the cooking through convective heat transfer though water.

Because of the specificity of the temperature required, the complicated sensors required have driven the price of sous vide machines well out of the range of the general public (but I guarantee your favorite restaurant has been using it for years) and this is the device I settled on after a little research and a lot of waiting for the technology to come down in price.  You simply clip it onto the inside of a large pot (at least 7.5 inches tall), fill it to the indicated fill-line with water, and set it for the desired temperature and time.  While you wait, you trim and vacuum-seal your meat (or do it Archimedes-style like we do in the ‘hood: just bag the meat in a Ziploc and dip it in water – being careful not to let any liquid in the bag by keeping the opening above the water level – and let the water pressure force the air out) and when the temperature hits the desired mark, place it in the pot of water and prepare your sides.

When the timer on the device beeps, simply remove the meat from the water, open the bag and recoil in disgust for a few minutes because OH MY GOD IT LOOKS LIKE WHAT DEAD HUMAN FLESH PROBABLY LOOKS LIKE AFTER FLOATING AT SEA FOR A WEEK.  I really can’t say enough to prepare you for the fact that meat cooked to the proper temperature on the outside looks terrible.  So when the timer on the device beeps, simply remove the meat from the water, open the bag and place the meat in a very hot sauté pan and sear it for about 30-45 seconds per side with the seasonings of your choice.  And try not to look at it too much while you’re doing it.

Full disclosure: I’ve actually had sous vide cooking before; one of my old bosses once treated the department to steak and brought in a sous vide machine to cook it with.  I was extremely skeptical, and, as a steak-lover, was worried I was going to a special hell for eating meat cooked with water.  But it was probably the best steak I have ever eaten and it was made in the humble break room at work and seasoned with nothing more than olive oil, salt and pepper.  Knowing already that perfect steak is possible (which I will replicate soon to the amazement of my friends and family), I decided to venture into the unknown and take the unit for a test spin on chicken and pork instead.

I started with the pork.  We usually buy the huge pork from Sam’s Club – normally, I’d link to or place a picture of it somewhere around here, but I hesitate because it may not be viewable by law in your state or country.  It looks like… um… well… it wouldn’t look out of place on an oceanic mammal that’s happy to see another oceanic mammal of the female variety.  It’s a joy to carry it around Sam’s Club, lemme tell you.  That’s not sarcasm – we go on Sunday afternoon to the Sam’s in Denham Springs.  Watching the ladies in their hats blush while I cart around a whale penis without a hint of shame is the most fun you can have with the after-church shopping crowd. 

But anyway, with just one of those you can probably make around 30 or so pork chops.  We did so the other night then ghetto-vacuum-packed them and froze them in pairs.

I thawed them tonight in the microwave (though I later confirmed my suspicion that it wasn’t necessary – they can go in frozen, but at the expense of increased cooking time), followed the instructions in the aforelinked cooking guide, seared it briefly with some salt and pepper and after a lot of smoke, was presented with the juiciest, most delicious pork chop I have ever had.  It was cooked perfectly, with great texture, and juicy as... hell, you guys use your own imagination to complete that metaphor.  It was amazing.

My lousy kitchen knife and phone camera aren’t adequate to convey the deliciousness of these pork chops.  I had Izzo’s for lunch – the big, hate-yourself-afterwards nachos – and I still ate both of those pork chops.  I couldn’t even be bothered to use a fork after the meat-haze came over me.
Chicken, on the other hand, wasn’t an unqualified success – it suffers by comparison to the pork and the fact that this was just a proof-of-concept test to see how the machine would manage with one of the giant, mutant Sam’s chicken breasts.

That’s not a small knife.  Those things are huge. I always imagine the farmers being be too terrified to slaughter them by traditional means on account of their freakish size, so they make the chickens do gladiator-style battle with the other farm animals and only the chickens who can pin a full-size bull at the end of an 80’s fight-training montage are given a place of honor in the barnyard where they are drugged unceremoniously to sleep, then slaughtered.  It’s the only scenario that makes sense.
I put it in for the prescribed cooking time with a little butter, as advised by the website that I got the recipe from, sautéed afterwards for about 30 seconds per side and produced the juiciest chicken breast that has ever graced my kitchen.

No, it didn’t shrink.  In the time it took me to grab my phone, my wife and mother-in-law devoured at least half of it, thoughtfully giving me a chance to test refrigeration and reheating with the remaining portion, which I’m assured is as easy as the original cook.  I personally wasn’t as crazy about the chicken, but as I may have mentioned, chicken isn’t my favorite and this one was seasoned only with a little salt and pepper prior to searing and it just doesn’t have the natural flavor that pork does.  A little cheese or a sauce or something and I see good things in this bird’s future.  Well… not this bird obviously.  Some future bird that is perhaps now being lulled to sleep by roofies and the ambient sounds of the barn yard.

So all-in-all, the entire experience was an extremely pleasant surprise with only one unpleasant detail.  I don’t know how to end this post.  None of my usual fallbacks are applicable… I don’t have a single rant about a broken tool or device, no hilariously photogenic injuries or humiliations and nobody is unconscious or in transit to the hospital for any reason.

So, I guess I’ll let you guys know how steak goes.  I’m sure it’ll be fine and everything will go amazingly.  No issues anticipated.  What can possibly go wrong?

Did anyone else feel a chill just then?

Tennis Tuesday

I haven't done one of these in a while so I'm excited to bring it back.  I thought this time around to add some informative stuff as well to help you with some of the tennis lingo that I sprout off from time to time!

To start with I'll give you what a typical court looks like and what those strange lines mean.

Basically each server will serve into the service box opposite of where the serve comes from. (How many times can I say serve in a sentence.. lol)

Next up is scoring and how to do it.   I guess the first thing to point out is that tennis players play a match which consists of sets, which in turn consist of games.  The first to get to 4 "points" wins a Game.  It takes 6 Games to win a Set and 2 Sets to win a Match.  The "points" are counted like this -

0 = Love
1 = 15
2 = 30
3 = 40
4 = Game

And scoring terms are these -

Love = Zero
All = Tied score except when Deuce
Deuce = A score of 40-40
Ad in = Scorer needs one more point to win
Ad out = Receiver needs one more point to win

Confused yet?

At first I was too.  The best suggestion I could give you is to watch some matches on ESPN or The Tennis Channel and turn the volume off.  Then score the match in your head.  Once you get it figured out, it actually becomes pretty easy!

I'll also discuss the fundamentals of the forehand.  In playing, you have 2 basic return swings.  One is the Forehand and one is the Backhand.   There are also volleys, overheads, serves, but we will get to those later.  The forehand is done with your dominant hand (the right is mine) and basically you come up under the ball, hit it at level between your knee and waist, and then follow through by making a "wind-shield wiper" motion - to add topspin.  And I hope this video will work but here's me hitting a few forehands.  (Next time I'll try to actually get me in the shot, for some reason it cut off both of the sides...).  What my coach did when I was first learning is to work on my forehand motion, then he got me to go home and practice it in front of a mirror with my racquet each day for about 100 times.  Same with backhand.  Eventually the motion becomes fluid and almost natural.  And then of course, running drills and practicing with the ball machine can only help you make your forehand a powerful return!

And naturally because it's me, here's a blooper.  (Spoiler alert, I hit it behind the "wall" and between the netting and is lost forever...)

So those are some of the very basic starting points with tennis!

We have a match tonight but it's not until 8:00pm!  Don't these people know I'm usually in bed or close to it by then!? 

Hope this Tennis Tuesday was informative!  If you don't play and even have the remotest of inklings that you would like to try tennis out, I highly encourage you to do so!   Let me know if you want more of these and what questions you may have in the comments.  If I can't answer them, Mr. Google can!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekly Recap

Finally, a much, much better week than the week before!

Sunday - 1h 38m tennis (team practice)
Monday - 1h bowling; 16m walk
Tuesday - 1h 30m tennis (league match makeup); 15m walk
Wednesday - 1h 14m tennis (practice with Mr. Skinny Geek)
Thursday - 1h 49m tennis (league match makeup)
Friday - rest
Saturday - 40m tennis (alone practice)

Overall, a solid B I think.  I need to throw more stuff in the mix.  But notice what's missing... no walking, well - hardly any, and no weights.    So that's my goal for this week is to get those in.

Even without the consistent walking, I did have a nice little NSV this week.  I hit all my steps, except for 1 day on my garmin!

Still didn't quite hit the 10K per day so that will also be my goal this week as well.  So officially here it is, at least 10K per day steps and 3x weights for next week.

Food wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst either.   I'd give it a solid C.  During the week, of course, it was much better but I think I finally have Chris on board because he bought something over the weekend that I'll be sure to talk about more once it comes in.  He's pretty excited about it anyway.  So look for a new shiny cooking toy to appear on the blog later in the week.  And hopefully this will mean better eating by both of us.

This weekend was the perfect amount of relaxing and the perfect amount of work.  I was able to get out Saturday and Sunday and enjoy the beautiful weather and played some tennis and we also binged watched The Jinx thanks to Runs To Get Waisted's suggestion.   (It was crazy, but in a good way!!!)  We also watched Neighbors and Interstellar.  Liked both and Interstellar was visually amazing and the story was good until it took a left turn into weird-ville.

Chris and I also washed, waxed and detailed my car-dis (see what I did there?   Doctor Who fans you will get it..)  And that took like 2 and a half hours but the end result was very nice.   

Other than all that, we just meal prepped and enjoyed our weekend!  Oh! I did register one of my teammates and I for a Tennis tournament in April.  Only after I hit submit did I realize that it was the same weekend that Tiina from One Crazy Penguin is going to be in New Orleans!   I feel bad!  I'm hoping that we will still have some time to scoot down to NOLA to see her at least and root her on with her 70.3!

I think I may start resurrecting Tennis Tuesday again too, so be on the lookout for that if you are interested and maybe even do a little foray into some of those tennis terms I talk about all the time.

Today is going to be a good day though because I heard this on the drive into work this morning.  A little David Cassidy to start my day... yes please!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weigh In Wednesday

Another Wednesday and I knew this weigh in wasn't going to be so great.  My eating was not very good last week and exercise was non-existent with all the things we had going on.


Sorry no pic, phone was dead.  I know this number is not what I wanted to see but I did halfway expect it so now just gotta move on.  I'm already doing much better since last week though.  Although I do want to mention that I've halfway stopped logging my food into MFP.  I eat the same thing every single day pretty  much, although I do need to tighten up a few more things.  If things get out of hand, I'll get back to daily logging though.

In other news, I finally played in an actual league match last night (my first and my partner, Carly's first!).  I was so so so nervous going into it. 

I got to the courts around 5:30 pm (our matches started at 6:30) about this time Chris started texting me if they had any drills tonight and I told him no but they had the beginners class "Tennis Apprentice" starting again (He and I had did this program last year and it was great!) so he asked me to sign him up for it and he was on the way.  He was able to watch us warm up and play for about 30 minutes before his drills started.

My teammates started arriving and then we each went to our perspective courts and started warming up.  This was the first time our opponents played too so we were all very nervous.  They were great though and very nice so that helped a bit.  Carly and I were very nervous though but once we managed to get through the first set we started calming down I think.  And it took that long for my serve to settle in - LOL.

My ball placement was really good last night but my serve was not so hot.  I only got a few proper hard and fast serves in (about 4 total) but I had to tap the others in when my first serve went into the net.  I hate when I have to weak 2nd serve but it's better that than double faulting I think.  At least when I bonk it in actually is playable.   Anyway, I did pretty well at the net too.  Before we knew it, the entire match was over.  That was the fastest an hour and a half has ever gone I think.   We won the first set 6-1 and the second 6-2!

I found something green to wear for St. Patty's Day too! 

Our other doubles team also won, 6-4, 6-4 (both very exciting sets!!!) but our singles player lost 1-6, 0-6.

And I snagged a pic of Chris nailing a forehand! Sorry so blurry!

If you weighed in today, how did you do? 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekly Recap with loads of pictures!

I'll start with some good news of the week and then I'll move onto the bad.

Mr. Skinnygeek and I met Penn & Teller!

Penn has lost a lot of weight!  He looks great!

And now let's just go ahead and get the grade part out of the way.  Exercise this week was an F.  Food this week, also an F.

Womp womp.

Sunday - 2h 28m of tennis; 32 minutes of mowing lawn/yardwork
Monday - 1h bowling (not pictured)
Tuesday - Nada
Wednesday - zip
Thursday - zilch
Friday - walked all over NOLA but that's it.  (I did have 17000 steps though)
Saturday - crickets....

Honesty a lot of this can be attributed to stress.   Helping to plan my mom's Retirement party for Thursday and doing a lot of last minute errands.  And then of course trying (and failing because of weather) to reschedule 2 days worth of 3 matches a piece and trying to get with other captains to see when we can do the rescheduled matches.  We are tentatively shooting for Tuesday (tomorrow) and Thursday.  Fingers crossed that we will FINALLY get these played.  I hate hate hate rescheduling.  The first match was scheduled for March 3rd and we are now on the 4th attempt at trying to make it happen.  Stoopid Louisiana weather.

Ok now for some pics of some of our shenanigans throughout the week!

Retirement Party #1 for mom at her work

In between parties, had to go scope out court conditions and ultimately cancel our matches that night.

Retirement party #2.  Mom & Dad pictured here

Devyn, in her usual pose and her boyfriend, James.

John Goodman's home and formerly Trent Reznor's abode

Anne Rice's old house.  She wrote Interview with a Vampire here!

We took a NOLA movie tour!  They showed the filming locations along side a clip of the actual frame of the film.  This was Leo DiCaprio's house in "Django Unchained".

Chris and I had superior movie knowledge and we both spanked our competitors (the others in the van with us...) at movie trivia.  Our lovely parting gifts were two lovely beer koozies because you can never have enough!

Lunch at River's Edge Restaurant in NOLA.  Across the street is Cafe Du Monde (no beignets this trip!)

At the Aquarium of the Americas

White gator!

We were trying to selfie with the owl in the background (on Chris's head..)

Oldest bar in America, built in 1772ish

The remodeled Saenger Theatre lobby


And a sleepy, drooling kitty