(Photo by Ratul Ghosh on Unsplash)

Welcome to the halfway mark of our initial Mission, where we will coax more seasoning and substitution details for our weekly meal plan out of Jamie:

Meal Plan – Week #10

Meals: No-Honey Honey Baked Chicken with Cauliflower Rice & Zucchini (1) / Sesame Orange Chicken with Cauliflower Rice (2) / Seared Paprika Pork Roast with Black Beans & Cauliflower Rice (3) / Bavarian 3-Bean Stewp (4)

Snacks: Chopped Veggies (for dipping) + Yellow Squash Chips / Balsamic Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Naked Popcorn / Spiced Chickpeas / Asparagus Pieces

(1) Jamie’s mom’s recipe for honey-baked chicken, subbing out the honey. Dates and apricots chopped and cooked with the chicken, then removed. Added lemon zest and fresh juice to help brighten / (2) Subbing out the sugar coating, used toasted sesame oil and fresh orange juice with zest / (3) Seared Roast then added to crockpot with Paprika, onions, & garlic. Oregano Beans and Rice cooked on the side / (4) Pinto, Cannellini, & Black Beans with Bavarian Seasonings (Crushed Brown Mustard, Rosemary, Garlic, Thyme, Bay Leaves, & Sage) in vegetable stock

Health Stats: 28 lbs & 15″ overall down…aka 3 shirt sizes 😉

This week we’ve asked Jamie to write a bit about her go-to/favorite spices and ingredients she has been using over the past several weeks and countering that with a Charlie note about what helps most when the old monster cravings start screaming for attention.

…Which will come in handy for me as I start to pull back on the “embellishments” I’ve been adding to my portion of the meal plans every week.

(…And by “embellishments,” I mean anything I can put in my mouth before and after meals, at any and all times, without restriction.)

It’s not like Covid lockdowns and turning 40 at the same time helped me much, but blaming my overweight issues on Covid now would be like a mother blaming a two-year-old for retained baby weight. Covid has become my convenient cause that is stretching pretty damn thin at this point, and well…something has to be done.

(…I said to myself, the day after my Birthday, while out with Charlie…shirt-shopping.)

First off — Charlie and I both hate clothes shopping and always have. Books: heck-yeah, shoes: let me at ’em, clothes: yawn, pout, sour-face.

–Too many people, so many racks of things, having to constantly get undressed and redressed to try stuff on in terrible lighting with way-too-truthful mirror reflections, along with the inevitable nothing-fitting part that just makes you feel crappy about yourself over and over on repeat.

…But all of that needed to take a back seat because Charlie was in extreme need of new shirts that fit. And misery sucks less with two people (for some reason), so: to the outlets we went.

For the first time that I have ever seen in our mutual misery’d history of shopping for clothes together, Charlie hit a face of total delight after I handed her a shirt from the rack to start off the sizing estimation, and she called me over to see it on. She was actually giggling. She was so damn excited she was GIGGLING and whispered in excitement how shocking it was to be down to this size, that it fit, that this is the first time in decades she’s been able to walk in and just pick something off the rack in an average-build area of a clothing store.

…And then: it happened again, at the next shop. And the next one. And the one after that. As she waited nervously for the sizes at the next place to burst her joy bubble, the bubble didn’t burst after all. She was solidly out of an entire demographic of sizes and solidly into another. And her mind was blown.

Moving from decades of tentish top-coverings to button-ups with waists in store after store was a super treat to watch. Because even though she knows the numbers, the pounds, and inches she’s lost, it wasn’t really REAL until she was able to walk into Eddie Bauer, Norstrom Rack, and Gap and pick something from their stock that fit the way that clothes are supposed to… nervously starting to embrace the fact that not just her nutrition has massively changed over the past 10 weeks.

…Needless to say, there was much joy and celebration at each one of her purchases as I stuffed a sock in my depressing horror-gaped mouth, watching an entire size shift upward in my own mirror reflection.

The last clothes I bought myself were the regulation sweats, leggings, and hoodie uniform of lock-down. Being as I continued ever after to work from home, there has been no need to put myself through the grossness of clothes shopping since. And I knew (obviously) that I had gained weight during all that. I just didn’t have a cognizant self-picture of how much.

…Apparently, those clothes stretch. A lot.

So, now I am tossing my “embellishment” eats to the wind.

While not nearly as specifically restricted as Charlie, it makes sense to get on the train going in the correct direction of where I want to be. (And force Charlie to shirt-shop with me two months from now, as I climb back down the size ladder where I comfortably belong.)

Surrounding supports are there. The same team that rallies for Charlie can rally for me too. Success loves company as much as misery does.

— I choose the former.

And here is my tribute, in accountability.