I am three weeks into my experimental support group that I first blogged about here. I am working with a great group of people towards new health and weight loss goals for the year. My new long-term goal is to get to a healthy weight for my height by my birthday in August. You see I’ve escaped that big “O” obesity, but at only 5’4″ I am still considered overweight for my height. I want to remove that designation from my medical chart once and for all.
Now you might think that having lost as much weight as I have that this would be easy for me, but you would be very wrong. Like most humans, I am a creature of habit and once I hit my last weight loss goal I went into maintenance mode. Maintenance mode is different than weight loss mode for me. I stopped logging all my food because I wasn’t focused on maintaining a calorie deficit every day. Instead, I ate sensibly, balancing my daily intake in my head, and I continued my exercise program. This worked for me, I’ve been able to keep the weight off.
But now I need to shift back to weight loss mode. This means journaling my food again and making sure that I stay within my daily calorie budget. It also means upping my efforts in the gym to make sure I’m burning my targeted amount of calories each week; my goal is to burn a minimum of 3000 calories each week. I’ve been doing well on my food journaling, but surprisingly where I have been struggling is with my exercise routine.
I actually enjoy my workouts. I know, I’m just strange that way. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I have to bully myself to get to the gym, but ultimately, once my workout is finished, I always feel so good. I call it my workout high. Exercising is my primary stress relief tool, and right now, with all of the activity I have going on at work and home, I desperately need that.
Over these past two weeks, though, I have missed my exercise goal. A large part of that is due to being sidelined by a nasty chest cold, but I have also been overwhelmed at work requiring long hours in the office. I find myself trapped in meetings all day and then spending hours afterwards at my desk trying to catch up on email, phone calls, and all that desk work that my internal customers rely on me for. Not getting my workout in has made me a little cranky and irritable, but missing my goal two weeks in a row just frustrates the heck out of me. So what’s the answer?
This week I am getting into the office earlier in the morning so that I have more time up front to address issues at my desk. I can’t make the meetings go away, but I can try to better leverage my time in them and before and after them. And then I need to force myself to walk away at 5:00 p.m. and get to the gym. Because not getting my workout in isn’t just impacting my ability to achieve my new goal, it’s also impacting everyone around me through my irritable attitude and self-disappointment.
Butternut Squash and Chicken Shepherd’s Pie
- 1/2 lb. raw boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
- 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and wedged
- pinch of coarse sea salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 medium stalks celery, diced
- 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 lb. brown (crimini) mushrooms, sliced
- pinch of coarse sea salt
- 1 sprig rosemary, minced
- 1 cup frozen petite peas
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
Put the raw chicken, 2 whole cloves garlic, cubed butternut squash, and pinch of salt in a pot and submerge in water. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and easily falls apart with a fork and the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool. Remove the squash to a mixing bowl and set aside. Save the water as you will need it later.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. I recommend a cast iron skillet that can go from stove to oven. Add the carrots, celery, parsnip, onion, garlic, mushrooms and pinch of salt. Cook about 4-5 minutes or until the onions are transparent. Shred the chicken with two forks and add it to the pan with the peas and rosemary, then cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch, combining well so that the vegetables are well coated. Stir in 1 cup of the water that the chicken and squash cooked in. Reduce heat to medium low and let cook until the sauce has thickened up to a gravy like consistency, about 5 minutes. Use the back of your wooden spoon to arrange the vegetables in an even/level single layer in the pan. Remove from heat.
Use a potato masher to mash up the cooked butternut squash in the mixing bowl. Once mashed, use a fork to press out any remaining chunks. Stir in the Greek yogurt. The mixture should have the consistency of mashed potatoes — thick and creamy. If it’s too thick, add a little of the water that the squash and chicken cooked in. Add in increments of 1 tablespoon so you don’t accidentally make it too watery. Once it reaches the desired consistency, spread across the vegetables in an even layer. Sprinkle the thyme across the top.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the squash is golden. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Number of Servings: 4