Shapeshifting: Dispelling the Myths

A while ago, I wrote about creatine and how it helps to heal your muscles after workouts – among other things. I decided that I would stop taking it, after being told that it can actually make you gain weight and retain water. It has only been a week, but I can tell the difference already. Not that I was overly bloated before, but I have noticed that I feel “lighter” and for the first few days of withdrawing – I was peeing like a racehorse!

During the first eleven weeks, I knew that I was losing weight – but not at the rate I would’ve liked. We were sticking to our new healthy eating regimen – with only a few blips on the radar – and I was exercising religiously. Now that I’ve stopped taking the creatine, I’m feeling better and more people are noticing that I’m losing the weight. I’ll report back in a couple of weeks to see how it goes.


The main myth I’d like to dispel is the one we’ve all hidden behind – from time to time – which is, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy.” Let’s break it down. When we’re not eating healthy foods and decide to start checking it out – we usually go to the health food section of the store and balk at the high prices of certain ingredients – in comparison to the ones we normally buy. We don’t take into consideration that healthy eating usually means unprocessed/whole foods – like fresh fruit and veggies (even organic), good quality meat and other products.

We also don’t stop to think about the amounts of processed/pre-packaged food we have to buy to catch up to the volume that whole food can provide. For example: I find that canned or frozen meals never fill me up. After zapping them in the microwave, I plop them onto my plate and feel deflated with the pitiful, sloppy mess – which includes scant amounts of meat and veggies. Usually, when I have a pre-packaged meal, I have to follow it up with something else to fill the void.

It’s those hidden extras we turn a blind eye to – that add the dollars to our weekly food bills. I spend approximately $150 per week on food – for two adults (and two naughty cats – although their total averages $54 per month, which is included in that weekly average of $150.) As we are not buying junk food or snacks – the total remains at $150 per week. Before I started this healthy regime, I also spent $150 per week on food – which was a lot of processed and pre-packaged items and smaller amounts of veggies, fruit and meat.

On top of that, we ate out at least three times per week, along with snacks such as candy, chips and ice-cream. Taking into consideration that each take-out meal (for two) averaged between $15 – $20 and snacks averaged between $5 – $10 at least two times per week – the extra food bill came to approx $65. That doesn’t include the times we might go out for dinner at a restaurant – which is not that often anyway. All up, that’s a total of at least $205 that we were spending. It was probably more like $220 – $250 some weeks.

Now, when I say I spend $150 per week on groceries – that also includes the occasional cleaning product, kitty litter, toiletries etc. We are actually saving money due to not eating junk food and our shopping bill is at least the same – with more benefits – such as being and feeling healthier, fewer trips to the doctors and no need for medications to deal with inflammation, gas, heartburn, bowel problems and so on. We’re saving anywhere from $65 – $150 or more per week – taking all those extras into consideration!

When I look at my shopping list now, the fruit and veggie section is nearly triple the length – while the “other” section has reduced by two thirds. The conclusion is: spend more on healthy food – spend less on crap. Pretty elementary, my dear Watson! A wonderful byproduct of the healthy lifestyle is – I can now spend more on those “luxury” items in the health food section if I so choose to – as in the old days, I would’ve spent those extra dollars on junk.

As I’ve said before, when I go around the supermarket and spy those overly processed and pre-packaged foods, all I can think about is how far removed those products are from actual food. Also – how many chemicals, fillers and additives, how much salt, sugar and fat those products have and how horrible they would make me feel. It’s now easy to stay away from them – which is a miracle for me!

Having said that – let me say this. I will not go without certain “naughty” foods. See my last post, where I discuss guilty pleasures. The thing is – they are a treat once in a while – not every week or whenever I feel like it. Yesterday – I decided to go to my favorite Indian food vendor and got my usual “evil” platter of chicken biryani, chilli chicken and butter chicken with dal. In the old days, I would’ve eaten the whole thing for lunch (oink, oink!) It’s so delicious – but I was able to eat only half and saved the rest for lunch today. Extra stomach crunches help alleviate the guilt – but I found that being healthy to begin with, made this small deviation only a mere blip.

This reminds me of another myth I’d like to dispel. It’s one I’ve noticed since I arrived here in 2008 – in Nashville, Tennessee. There seem to be certain misconceptions about Southerners – including Tennesseans, of course. Such as: Southerners eat a lot of unhealthy food and they’re all stupid, right-wing, racist, sexist slobs. One of the meme’s I’ve seen, is a photo-shopped picture of the cast of ‘Friends’ – all made to look obscenely obese – with the caption: “If Friends was made in Tennessee.”

I’m not even from here and it made me angry. Yes – they like biscuits and gravy and deep fried stuff as well as cakes and candy – but then, who doesn’t? I’ve seen fat people everywhere – including other states in this wonderful country. I’ve also seen stupid, racist, sexist people everywhere. I used to think that the Southern accent meant automatic moron – but that was due to the caricatures that film-makers, cartoonists and meme-makers enjoyed creating. Once I moved here, I was pleasantly surprised to meet intelligent, progressive people (including my husband!) and delighted in the fact that even the religious ones can be easy going and tolerant.

Of course, there are factions of the above-mentioned morons – but I’ve found that they are the exception – not the rule. Tennesseans pride themselves as supporters of locally grown and produced food, as well as healthy and/or alternative lifestyles. Fair enough – it’s a majority Red state – but politics don’t always go hand in hand with personal taste or opinion. The cultivation of industrial hemp is an option for Tennessee farmers and Farmer’s Markets are very popular. There are also many health food stores, artisan producers, Amish stores, Flea markets, progressive schools, arts communities, secular groups, festivals and more.


Here’s a couple of great links for more info:

The Nashville Farmer’s Market is a great place for food and produce.

That’s where my favorite Indian restaurant is. (I’ve been told there’s better – but I’m hooked on Swagruha!)


Every second Thursday in Nashville, the street where I work is lined with local food trucks serving a variety of food. You can get healthy wraps and smoothies, Mexican, Italian, Thai, and other cuisines. I find Nashville very cosmopolitan, but you can also go to local bars and restaurants that serve good, homestyle, Southern food. Like everything else – the trick is moderation.

Well, I’ll get off my soapbox now!

I’ve been fine with my exercising and am amazed that it has become such a part of my life. I know for sure that I will never go back to how I was before. This regime has set in as a way of life for me and it feels great. I’m actually looking forward to my doctor’s visit on October 6th – rather than dreading it. Then I will find out how much weight I’ve lost and how my sugar’s doing.


Above is a photo of one of the meals I made last week – Five Spice Blackberry Chicken and Summer Veggie bake. I must buy some dishes for food presentation – as you can see – the chicken almost disappears into the plate! I had to get Robert to shine his flashlight on it.

The Five Spice Blackberry Chicken is a recipe I found on Pinterest – but I modified it to make it quick and easy. Here it is:


  • 1 tablespoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 chicken thighs (I used with bone-in)
  • 3/4 cup Seedless blackberry jam – local and organic if you can
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Fresh blackberries (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl – then rub over the chicken. Place in a baking dish and cover with foil or lid. Put it in the oven and bake for approx 45 minutes or until juices run clear.

While chicken bakes, combine jam and next 2 ingredients in a nonstick skillet or small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat 8 minutes or until glaze is reduced to 1/2 cup. Drizzle glaze evenly over chicken; garnish with blackberries, if desired.

Note: The original recipe calls for 8 pieces of chicken – but I like the stronger flavors when using 4 pieces, so it’s up to your own personal taste. Also, I omitted the ginger in the sauce (recipe called for 3/4 of a teaspoon.) I like ginger but it doesn’t agree with me! Lastly – I didn’t grill the chicken as I wanted the spices to have time to mingle.


I also modified the Summer Veggie Bake recipe. Here’s what I did:


1 large yellow onion

1 tsp minced garlic

2 medium zucchinis

2 medium yellow squash

1 large sweet potato

3 Roma tomatoes

to taste salt & pepper

1 cup shredded Italian cheese

2 tbsp fresh or dried parsley


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice the veggies (other than garlic.)

Spray the inside of an 8×8 square or round baking dish with non-stick spray. Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle with the garlic, onions, salt, pepper and parsley.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and veggies are cooked.

*Note: You might want a little water in the bottom for the steam to help cook the veggies. I didn’t bother. The original recipe said to dice the onions and saute along with the garlic, then spread on the base of the dish before adding the veggies. I wanted to save time – so it’s up to you.


This started as Stuffed Zucchini Boats – but ended up more like a Zucchini Sausage Lasagna. I found that I couldn’t get much of the filling to stay in the ‘boats’ – so I went ahead and treated it like a Lasagna. (Zucchinis were not pre-boiled – just thinly sliced.)


1 1/4 cups quick marinara sauce

4 medium zucchini

1/2 small onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

14 oz lean Italian Sausage (I used Sweet – loose mince, not actual sausages)

1/2 cup part skim shredded mozzarella

8 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

(Re: Cheese – more or less is fine)


Preheat oven to 400°.

In a large saute pan, sweat the onions, garlic and pepper, then add the sausage, breaking up as it cooks into smaller pieces until browned. Cook on a medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 2-3 minutes.

Cut zucchini in long, thin slices. Place 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 12″ baking dish, then cover with a layer of zucchini slices, approx one third of the meat mixture, then sprinkle some of the cheese and repeat until all used up – finishing with another sprinkle of cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through.

It might only be 2 – 3 layers – depending on the size of your baking dish etc. With the cheese and the sausage – it wasn’t the healthiest of dinners, but sometimes you have to splurge.

Here’s my menu plan for next week:

Menu 092615

I went back to having my yogurt and banana in the mornings. I found that I got a little heartburn with the yogurt at night and have cut back on frozen yogurt as a dessert. I’ve trained myself not to need something sweet every night – but I will be making Chocolate energy bites as a healthy treat – with just a touch of naughtiness – two nights in the week! I’m sure Robert will appreciate them.

Something else I discovered. To cut the late morning cravings – (pineapple is lovely but just doesn’t bridge the gap – even though I’m still having it), I’ve started having a few crackers with peanut butter after my bananas and yogurt. It did the trick!

Well that’s it for now. Have a great week!