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Progress for Week 1

Four pounds down! Yeah, I know that might sound like a lot for just a week for someone my size, but since I dramatically cut my sodium intake, it was all pretty much water weight. But, that’s a great start!

I’m realizing that if I truly pay attention to what’s inflammatory and what’s not inflammatory, and also to portion size, it’s actually not too difficult to stay within the daily points. Pretty much all sweets are highly inflammatory, as are most grains and most dairy products, so that results in me eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, which are free on WW anyway.

The trick with an anti-inflammatory diet is that if you eats things that have a really high IF (Inflammation-Free) factor, you can eat things that are less good and it will balance out. So, for example, if I have salmon, which has a very high IF factor (which is good!), then I can have something less good, like bread. So, really, it’s not as restrictive as it seemed at first. As long as I pay good enough attention to the good things, I can have a little fun, too. Like dark chocolate. Mm.

I also did go for a run today, and it felt good. So hopefully, I can keep that activity up. I also have a couple of free months of yoga (from Groupon and Livingsocial) to use, so yoga would be a great, stress-reducing alternative.

To come next, recipes! My first challenge that I’m taking a class in a city over an hour away for the two weeks, but I’m commuting. So that involves packing and successfully avoiding fast food, so wish me luck!!


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Anti-Inflammatory Weight-Watchers

What I didn’t mention in my post yesterday is that I am also starting a brand new diet, the anti-inflammatory diet. I have a minor auto-immune disease, and one possible cause and/or result of this is increased inflammation. I went in for a check-up last week, and they confirmed that even two years later, my inflammation levels are still quite high, and higher even than they were the last time I was tested a year ago. This could be related to weight gain. After a considerable amount of internet research, I’ve found that inflammation levels (tested through C-Reactive Protein levels in your blood) can be caused by being overweight, and can contribute to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, you name it. One possible way to lower these levels includes an anti-inflammatory diet.

So what does this involve? Well, that’s the tricky part! Apparently, there’s a certain degree of confusion on that. Some “anti-inflammatory diet” plans disagree with each other. Some advocate having soy every day, for example, while others suggest avoiding it when possible. (I support avoiding it, particularly for women, but I’ll get into that another day.)

Thankfully, there’s an app for that! I downloaded an app called IF Tracker Lite, and it lists most foods and using a numbering system, ranks foods by their inflammatory levels. Foods with positive numbers are considered anti-inflammatory. Foods with negative numbers might promote inflammation. You don’t need to complete avoid all negative foods, but you want to add all the foods you eat during the day and end with a positive number.


Polyunsaturated fats are BAD and promote inflammation. Monounsaturated fats are much better. Omega-3 fatty acids are very good. Apparently, the traditional American diet is abnormally high in Omega 6’s, which puts us all out of whack. We need to be, well, in “whack,” so to speak. Fiber and vitamins are also good.

Good foods include most fish, such as salmon (but I’m paying attention to sustainability and mercury levels with the fish I’m buying), flax seeds, oatmeal, almost all veggies and fruits, spices such as garlic, chili peppers, curry, turmeric. Also included are walnuts, dark chocolate and red wine in moderation.

Foods to avoid are anything friend, made with highly processed sugars and/or flours, most things with gluten, high fat dairy products.

My challenge is to combine all of this with Weight Watchers. High-fat foods such as salmon and nuts are worth a lot of points in the Weight Watchers program, and that makes things tricky. I find nuts satisfying and filling, so the trick will be to really control portions.

So what did I do today to contribute to my weight loss? I went shopping, and bought lots of low-inflammation foods, primarily fruits, vegetables, and a few others such as quinoa, almond butter, almond milk, etc. Tomorrow? I need to add activity! I meant to do that today and didn’t, so tomorrow, I have to. Yoga or running, depending on my mood. Also, before photos (ACK!). Here we go!

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Homemadediva Loses Weight!

It’s summer. Summer is by far my favorite season. And, as a teacher, I get a little extra free time in the summer, too! Last summer was great. I did the cupcake challenge, I did Weight-watchers and lost weight, I had a summer fling, it was awesome. But then I started a brand new teaching job at a brand new school and felt the need to impress and was working all the time.

Then a few months later, my dad got sick. He was in the hospital for 3 months, and suddenly I found myself going to school, teaching all day, and then going to the hospital and breathing the heavy breaths that you breathe when a close loved-one is doing poorly and not getting better like you hope. I found myself eating for convenience. I definitely stopped grocery shopping and started eating junk food. Highly-processed, sodium-ridden, high fat, high calorie nonsense was crossing my lips in quantities far too large for my petite stature. Just as I started trying to get it under control, my father passed away. Now, this isn’t a “Oh, woe-is-me, pity me!” statement. It’s simply a fact that sometimes, shit happens. And when it does, sometimes we lose control of ourselves. So the result was that I spent the next couple of months just trying to get through the remaining school year after basically losing 4 months by not being at my best. So, again, food choices went to the back burner.

This specially awful equation resulted in me gaining 15 lbs. (Please keep in mind that I’m very petite, and that 15 lbs is a little less than 15% of what a healthy body weight is for my size.) I kept trying to make good choices, but it was very difficult. The doctor even tested me for a thyroid problem, because they were concerned, too. But, no dice.

Now, I need to get myself under control! I went to a wedding this weekend of a high school friend, and seeing all these old high school acquaintances made me feel pretty crappy. They all looked great, most of them are married or engaged, and I was overweight and single. It all added up to a weekend full of low self-esteem.

So, what’s the problem, Ruth? Just lose the weight already! Yeah, the problem is motivation. I need to be held accountable for my choices – both good and bad. So it occurred to me that doing this is a public forum like this would give me some sense of accountability. I give myself to you, interwebs, to keep me on track and working hard!


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Cheesecake Bars for the Chocolate Lover

Life imploded. First, all of my wild, law-student, world-traveling friends returned to lovely Denver. And then people got married. And then, school started, and I moved into my brand new classroom which was supposed to be renovated over the summer…but it wasn’t done. Neither was the rest of the school. There was no furniture in my room because the previous teacher was not leaving on amicable terms and didn’t label any of the furniture belonging to my room, leaving me to run around the school trying to claim things that looked familiar from when I interviewed. And then, of course, the students arrived, with dust still in corners and a strong new-paint smell.

So, baking took a temporary hiatus.

But then a friend asks me to bake something scrumptious for her friend’s bridal shower, and I was thrilled to bake and emerge from my lesson-planning, furniture-lacking existence. I had recently seen a cheesecake bar recipe with chocolate ganache, and thought it sounded perfect. Continue reading

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Baklava Cupcakes

Once again, I was planning to make something else this week. My best friend from high school was in town, though, and she and I went out to dinner one night at a local favorite Mediterranean restaurant. In high school, we used to obsess over Greek food, and in particular, baklava. This particular restaurant makes a smashing baklava, and suddenly, I was inspired! I pictured a cinnamon spice cake, walnuts, honey, and more cinnamon…yum. Continue reading

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Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I was originally going to attempt some kind of red wine invention this week. But then I was talking to my friend Aaron this weekend, and he mentioned a local cupcake shop that makes peanut-butter cup cupcakes. I looked at what it entailed, and even though he claimed it was awesome, it seemed like it fell short. Their version is basically a chocolate cupcake with peanut-butter frosting. I’m sorry, all respect to this beloved local cupcake shop, but how boring is that cupcake? If you’re going to claim something is a peanut butter cup cupcake, you should make it like a peanut butter cup. Right? I instantly knew I could do better.

I envisioned a chocolate cupcake with a light peanut-butter filling inside, so it’s really like a peanut-butter cup when you bite into it, and chocolate and peanut-butter frostings. The essence of a peanut-butter cup is the milk chocolate outside and the peanut-butter inside. Otherwise, it’s just too easy. 🙂 Continue reading


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Margarita Cupcakes

Challenge Recipe #1: The Margarita Cupcake. When I first started asking for suggestions, someone suggested this idea, and I thought it sounded the most intriguing. That was partially because the instant I read the suggestion, I had an instant picture in my head. With the help of a friend, I saw a green speckled white cupcake with light frosting and a candied lime slice on top. And of course, tequila. Somewhere. Because what’s a margarita without tequila?

My goal was to create the recipe, with a basic recipe as a base. I found a white cupcake recipe on that sounded promising – it involved folded beaten egg whites to boost the fluffiness and airiness of the cupcakes. Sounded good! Away I went. Continue reading

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