Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: December 2008 Page 2 of 4

5 Random Things + Pre-resolutions

Well, I was going to post on New Years Resolutions today, but it appears that I have more thinking to do.  When I read over a resolution and don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say myself, I do believe I need to make some revisions.  Goals don’t work so well when you don’t have a specific course of action to take to achieve them – like in 2006, when I said I wanted to lose weight, it totally didn’t happen.  In 2007 when I decided I was going to count calories and work out at least 3 days a week to hopefully “de-porkify” (my own words from 2 years ago, good to know I had a sense of humor about it then too!!!), it totally did.  So back to the drawing board with those, and I’ll post some Tuesday randomness instead.

1.  You ever just have one of those workout days where your body just feels like it “leveled up”?  Like all of a sudden, what you were doing before is too easy and you have to go harder?  I had that yesterday.  All last week I’d actually had trouble completing my intervals so I took it a little easier, and weights just seemed heavy.  I had a full rest day Sunday, I barely left the couch!  Yesterday, I actually upped the recovery speed and went back to the same all-out speeds I was pushing myself to do the week before and didn’t feel like I was going to die.  Then, I upped about half of my weights/reps during strength.  It felt really good!

2.  I seem to be slightly stuck around 163-164 the last two weeks.  It might have something to do with cookies and candy replaced my breakfast foods half the mornings.  I know its my fault for eating them, and I’ve definitely been moderating (I threw half the delicious cookie away today), but still – homemade goods are my weakness.  And anyway – why does every holiday have to revolve around sweets or fattening food?  First we have Valentines Day (chocolate and Guilt), then Easter (marshmallow and Lamb Cakes), then Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day (fatty meat and mayonnaise-y salads, plus BEERBEERBEER), then the End of the Year Trifecta which is Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Then, of course, there’s NYE and St Patties, which are binge drinking days (I mean, what holiday isn’t, but these especially).  I propose squeezing a few holidays in there we celebrate by gathering around a plate of veggies and lo-fat dip.  Like, official “eat-like-a-rabbit” day.  How about one where we eat grilled fish, brown rice, and veggies and go running?  Who’s with me?

3.  It’s a little sad to see a lot of people so frantic around the holidays (to the point where they drive and act rude) – but it makes me so happy we keep it low key.  It’s just my parents, Zliten and I having stouffers lasagna, playing games, and drinking some wine.  Though it looks like a different sort of fun, I’m glad we’ve never had huge family Christmases.  Helps that half the family is Jewish!

4.  Even after the great Grinching of 08 at work where they took away our Holiday break, I’ve accumulated enough time off I had to use by the end of the year, so I’m here until they shoo us away tomorrow, have Christmas off, have to come in a half day on the 26th, and then I’m off until Jan 2 (where I come in for one day and head out for the weekend).  I still have a pretty nice long break (even if I should have been off starting the 19th!!!).  Besides continuing the workouts and trying to not feed the inner cookie monster, I plan to scan some old photos, lose at least 1 day playing some sort of video game, organize my underwear and sock drawer, bag up all the clothes that are too big and donate them (and by donating them, I get 20% off so I HAVE to shop, hehe), have a good absinthe night, go rock climbing, go roller skating, figure out my new years resolutions, blog at least once or twice, and spend some quality time with Zliten, but that goes without saying.  I am so exciting, I know…but sounds like fun to me.

5.  I dunno if I’ve pimped this yet on the blog, but if I haven’t it’s so worth it.  Pandora is a fantastic free streaming music service that will get you into music you never thought you’d like.  You start a station with an artist you like, and thumbs up/thumbs down music as it comes along.  You can add artists or songs as well, and the station evolves over time, and with care and attention, 90% of the stuff that comes up will kick ass.  It not only pays attention to artist and genre, but stuff like whether it has major/minor/augmented chords.  Apparently, I like chick singers, upbeat music, lots of guitar, and augmented chords across quite a few genres.  The best thing – no audio ads.  Just banner ads which don’t interrupt the music.  Go check it out!

So, I’m not taking an “official” vacation over Christmas/New Years from the interwebs, but I don’t expect posts to be as frequent until 2009.   So let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a joyous Christma-Hauni-Kwanza-Festivus-Whateverus, and a Nappy Who Beer!

How To Get Started – DDR Style

So I’ve had a lot of people ask me what’s involved with Dance Dance Revolution.  It’s actually one of the integral reasons I am no longer 265 pushing 300 lbs.  When I could do NOTHING else right or healthy with my life, I made time (on and off, but more on than off) to play at least 20 minutes of DDR a few times a week.  I had a free fitness center at my apartments, a pool right down the stairs, and a huge complex to walk around, but this was the only thing I could ever do with regularity because, well, it’s fun as hell and you don’t have to go outside.  They so should hire me as their spokesperson, but I think it would be a conflict of interest.

Anywhooo, it’s pretty daunting to get started, even if you are a techie-type, but especially if you’re not.  I’m going to try give a comprehensive guide to getting started and assume you know nothing about DDR and are starting from pure, unadulterated cluelessness.

Things you need:

-A PlayStation2, an Xbox or Xbox360, or a Nintendo Wii.  If you have none of these to start with, let me recommend the PS2 because it’s the cheapest, also plays DVDs, you can also pick up Yourself!Fitness which is good to alternate with DDR for some variety (which I still use for yoga), and has a huge cheap game collection you can entertain yourself with when you are not getting your heart rate up.  Yes, I worked for Sony for 6 years, so I might be biased.

-If you’re using a PS2 (or an Xbox, I don’t think it has a hard drive, never owned one though), you’ll need to make sure it has a memory card, which should come with it unless you’re getting it from a friend or off ebay – I’m pretty sure even refurbished consoles come with them but you’ll want to ask.

A dance pad.  Any old cheap one will do to give the game a go.  The best way is to grab a game bundle, but we got ours from a ToysRUs that was going out of business for 5 bucks.  The cheaper the better, though, because you’re going to do one of two things within a week – either the game and pad will gather dust in a closet, or you’ll want to order a better pad.  This is the one I recommend , however, it seems to be either sold out for the holidays (I hope) or not made any more (eep) at the official site.  We got two of them 3 (maybe 4 now) years ago and they are still ticking, and I use it without fail, at least once a week for an hour.

-A TV.  Any old TV will work.  Yes, Ms Turtle, a PS2 will hook up to just about anything, I used to play on my TV from 1993 before I upgraded.  I’m hooked on playing on my 57 inch screen (and insisted that TV went into the workout room when we upgraded the living room) but any TV will work. =)

-Room to lay out the pad, move any sharp or breakable objects around in case you fall.  If you do not live on the first floor, make sure to let your neighbors below know what’s going on so they don’t call the police.

-Here is a good set of instructions to help you hook up everything, but instead of a controller, hook up your dance pad (unless you just want to have really strong thumbs).

Once You’re Set Up:

-Clothing tips… some people like to play in their socks (me) and some people like to play barefoot (Zliten).  Try them both.  I used to DDR in whatever I was wearing, but you might want to change into workout clothes and for us ladies with healthy racks, you will definitely want a sports bra.  I put it somewhere in between running and walking – maybe a “meduim impact” type activity.  I can get away with the cheapo sportsbras here where I need the “extreme support” type while running.  I’m sure you all really wanted to know that much about my boobs, but I’m just sayin’.

-You will make a fool of yourself the first couple (thousand) times you play.  Accept this and move on.  You will suck.  If you are the kind of person that does not like to suck in front of people, play alone for a while.  I danced my whole life and it took me MONTHS to graduate from Beginner Blue to the next Yellow level.  It took me about 3 years to even TRY and fail most songs on the Green and Purple settings.  Don’t worry about and just keep trying.

-Game play mode is fun to start with (if your disc has it).  It should start you on the easiest songs and lead you through difficulty-wise, plus give you a goal besides burning calories.  However, explore all the modes.  Putting together a course (2-20 songs in a row without stopping) is fun.  Some versions have 2 player attack modes, which are novel.  Endless is fun, I think collectively Zliten and I have made it 102 songs (trading off every 20-30).  I pretty much stick to workout mode because I want to know how many calories I’ve burned, but you will want to play the game to start with to unlock more songs.  Don’t be afraid to look up “cheats” or at least walkthroughs on the internet – I googled “DDR Supernova Walkthrough” and got to this.  Just replace “supernova” with the name of whatever you get, and you’ll know how to get more songs!  Usually, just playing will unlock most of them but if you’re a completionist, this will help!

-Tweak the settings so you do not immediately quit out of songs if you fail, and explore other options that might help.  Don’t want to do the fast steps or jumps?  Turn on workout mode.  Just make it fun for you even if you feel like a Cheaty McCheatpants.

-Don’t overdo it at first.  You may find that you actually have to stop yourself, but you don’t want to hurt yourself or be too sore after a session that you associate pain with it (unless you’re crazy like me).

-If you play regularly for a month or more, please do yourself a favor and grab the nicer pad.  Your ankles (and knees and back and well, your whole body) will thank you.

-If you’re in relatively good shape starting it, you probably won’t get much of a workout right away.  Play for fun until you can do pinks and some greens (or ’til you feel you work up a good sweat during a session) before you really try to replace whatever else you’re doing with this.

-Some days, it will be like, “Wheee, I’m playing a game” and some days will be like, “Ugh, I have to play a game”.  Just remember, this is probably more fun than the last exercise thing you tried and tough through it.

In summary – give it a try, especially if all you have to do is grab the game and dance pad (you can find deals and pick up the basics for under 50 bucks), or if you can just borrow it from a friend/the library/etc.  If you have kids, even better – you have a fun activity you can do together that just happens to be a good workout, and you *probably* already have one game console or another.  If you’re stuck with the burden of buying everything (the PS2, game, and pad is a healthy investment), maybe hit up an arcade and drop a few credits in sometime when it’s totally empty and there are no kids to laugh at you.  Just try to think whether it would be fun, at home, with no one watching, and unlimited time to practice, and ignore the “I am such a dork” feeling.

If you’re debating between a wii fit and DDR, and can only choose one, let me heartily endorse DDR.  It took me from barely being able to walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath, extremely weak ankles that hurt after walking less than a mile, and barely being able to do 20 minutes on beginner – to relatively fit little me who is 100 lbs heavier, can run 5 miles comfortably, and can do 60 minutes on expert/challenge with weights strapped to my arms.  There were a few periods where DDR was my main or only workout and I lost weight.  I imagine that someday I might outgrow DDR as a workout completely, and I hope that day doesn’t come for quite a while.  Wii fit is a great start or addition to whatever cardio you are doing, but for the investment, DDR will go much further.

If I was asked to create a program for a true beginner, here is what I would suggest.  Of course, check with your doctor/therapist/mother/dog/higher power or whatever, I take no responsibility for you breaking a pinkie toe, falling down your stairs, and ending up with 3 broken ribs and bi-polar disorder and a case of born again hinduism.  I’m just a workout nut who had some success with this kind of thing, and this was essentially my starting plan a year and a half ago.

Day 1: 15 mintues strength training: (all 3 sets of 10 and add reps as it gets too easy) wall or knee push ups, crunches, squats.

Day 2: 20 minutes of DDR

Day 3: 20 minutes of DDR, 15 minutes strength training: (all 3 sets of 10 and add reps as it gets too easy) tricep dips on bed/chair, side crunches, lunges

Day 4: 20 minutes of DDR

Day 5: 15 minutes strength training (same as Day 1)

Of course, you can do it all on 3 days (eliminate Day 2 and 4) but remember to not strength train on consecutive days.  Or do something completely different – the most important thing is to get moving and try new things!

December Interim Updates

You get a two-fer, since I meant to post the novel on worthiness yesterday.  Also, this is to make up for a possible lack of updates over the next 2 weeks due to holiday cheer, and other such related things.

Healthy Stuff:

So, I’m about 2.75 weeks in (meaning, one more workout this week, I guess), and figured I’d give a short update on how things are going.  To recap, these are my workouts:

Day 1: 30 mins intervals, 15 minutes Cybil the arc trainer, full body strength

Day 2: long run, yoga

Day 3: 30 mins intervals, 15 minutes Cybil, full body strength

Day 4: 60 mins DDR, yoga

I did make some changes to the original plan.  Always extra gym time, not extra DDR time (except the one workout I owed 10 mins, so I did 70 mins DDR…that was pain).  DDR day is always the last one instead of in the middle.  And somehow, 10 mins became 15 minutes (or a combo of 45 total).  Exercise time creeping up = bad, but it comes out to an even 600 calorie burn that way!

The good:

Pretty much everything.  I love this 4 day schedule.  I love that Wednesday, Friday, AND Sunday I don’t have to visit a treadmill, a weight bench, or a workout room.  The amount of actual time it adds each day is nothing compared to an extra day completely off.  I also now actually own enough sports bras to accomodate a week of working out, so I don’t have to do wash (by wash, I mean febreeze if I’m lucky) in the middle of the week.

I actually don’t think I can go back to 5 day weeks now unless there is a good reason to do so.  This also has great implications for the future – I really want to take dance classes (partner w/Zliten), but I just can’t give up a workout – I’m not confident that beginner ballroom is going to be anywhere equal to one of my normal exhausting sweat fests.  This way, I can do it and not have something to do every single day!  In spring, I want to do volleyball with the league at work, and this affords me the same luxury.  Plus – I’m more likely to be able to work around social engagements during busy weeks rather than having to cram a bunch of working out on the weekends (ok, or skipping days and being rather grumpy about it).

The bad:

These fuckers are daunting.  I know I said that the time each day isn’t much longer – but it sure feels like it when you start running on the treadmill, and know you have 30 minutes to go, plus 15 minutes on the evil arc trainer directly after, then an hour of weights.  Without fail, I come out feeling great, which means I’m not working myself too hard, but I dread these workouts a bit.  I also really hate leaving the gym after a 5.5 mile endeavour and having to go home and do yoga.  I’m home, I should be done, dangit.  And the week I had to do 70 minutes of DDR – my legs almost fell off.

Also, I have to be VERY careful about how many days in a row I’m working out.  Even though it’s the same amount of *things*, it feels much much harder, so about 2 days in a row is the max I can do.  I had put off a Saturday workout for Sunday, then did my normal Monday, and by Tuesday, I saw physical pain in my future if I tried to run any more, so I had to move the workout to Wednesday.  No biggie, but if scheduling got tight where I had to do 4 workouts on consecutive days or skip, I’d probably have to skip at least 1.  I also haven’t been able to increase my weights/reps much because simply doing more things in less days is harder to begin with.

The Best:

After 3 months of tearing my hair out, I’ve lost and maintained about 3 lbs so far.  While I would *lovelovelove* nothing else for Christmas but 159.8, I’m thrilled I’m on the down swing again.  In December even!

That being said, I have 2 more weeks of this (I’m not starting January’s plan until the 5th).  No complaints here!

Gamer Night:

So the night last week we were supposed to play, our friends came over and drank our booze and ate our fish tacos and black beans and it was a lovely night.  Sunday, we were supposed to play and I shopped all freaking day.  Monday and Tuesday, we had too much other crapola to do.  Wednesday was the day we finally put it all together.  We played Burnout Paradise.

We sat there giggling for hours taking turns.  Destruction is funny!  First, we crashed into things and tried to see who could make the most painful looking wreck.  Then we drove around looking for private areas to break into and burnout billboards to crash through.  Then, we tried to do some time trials and play online and didn’t have much luck, but it was supah fun.

Next week…I have plans, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so I will fill you in after a certain present-unwrapping holiday that starts with a C and ends with a mess, I mean mas. 🙂

I’m good enough, smart enough…

And doggone it, people like me.  Right Stewart Smalley? 🙂

I’m a big fan of worthiness and being open to all the good and wonderfulness that the universe sees fit to toss your way, but I don’t follow my own advice as well as I should.  I’m better now, I think, but I can still catch myself sometimes thinking that I don’t deserve something.  What the hell?  We deserve anything and everything wonderful that comes into our life.  Things happen for a reason, right?  Unfortunately, it took a while to get here.

When I was in elementary school, I was an incredibly weird kid.  I mean, I’m weird now, but socially acceptable weird.  I had literally NO experience around kids my age until I got into kindergarten.  I somehow fell in with a group of friends that had known each other way longer than me, one of them I called my best friend.  Sure I had other friends, but she was one of the “cool” kids.  She tolerated me, I think, maybe even liked me, but the rest of the group for some reason didn’t like me at all.  For all of elementary school, we’d hang out sometimes, when the rest of her friends weren’t around.  We’d trade babysitter club books and play barbies and climb the roof and generally have fun, but I always felt sad when she and her other friends would play and I couldn’t come along, but I just didn’t think I deserved any better.  She was at least better than the kids who said they’d be my friend but only if I gave them my carebear.

Then, we went to middle school.  One of the first days, I went over to hang out at her house, and we got in a argument and I pushed her – didn’t mean to do anything but give her a tiny shove, but she toppled off her bed and landed on the floor.  She told me to get out and we never really talked again.  I don’t even remember how I met most of my middle school crew, but I remember I met Kelly on the bus when I was lonely and we sat together and then by 7th grade I had this great and expansive group of friends, most of whom I still keep in at least pseudo-touch with via facebook or myspace.  I probably would have never befriended these awesome people if circumstances hadn’t rid me of the people who I hung out with and made me feel unworthy.  I definitely learned my lesson there – if people treat you crappy, don’t give them the gift of your friendship.

Then, I moved to Reno and got seriously into gymnastics.  What a shock, going from the YMCA happy-fun-everyone-is-awesome classes to training with elite level or elite wannabe girls who have made this their lives.  I come in the first day in shorts and a t-shirt, and get yelled at for my lack of adherence to the strict leotard only rule.  I spent a lot of time proving myself because I was the oldest for my level, the biggest, and the least “cool”.  Everyone else had fancy leotards and I had the kind that went up my butt because I bought them at the store and they weren’t handmade.  Everyone else had 6-packs and I had some belly fat from spending the summer eating pizza and chips and drinking sugar-y soda with my friends.  They were a little clique and I was the black sheep, and I wasn’t worthy to be their teammate.  Ever seen Stick It?  Wasn’t too far from the truth.  I wasn’t quite Haley but I certainly saw a little bit of myself in her.

What did I do?  Well, I worked my butt off.  I ate better, I worked out more, and though I couldn’t change the fact that I was 5’3″ to their 4’8″ and had a Mary Lou build to their Shannon Miller builds, I lost all the body fat and got super buff.   I trained twice as hard as the rest of the team and learned how to lose my fear instead of letting it hold me back.  I challenged myself to be better every day.  I came in 2 hours early and did optional workouts on Saturdays when only the little kids came in and spent Sundays doing push ups and crunches.  I never became one of them (I’ll have to grab the picture of my team and scan it – I am heads, shoulders, boobs, and at least 2 years above the rest), but I did earn their respect and admiration.  For a while it was, “Heh, Leah is trying what on beam?  Hope she doesn’t kill herself…” and then “Oh crap, Leah’s doing the same tricks I am…” and then was “Leah’s challenging me to do the thing I’m afraid of, and she’ll do it too even if she’s totally not ready for it”.  For better or for worse, I put so much into it, I burnt myself out and just quit during the off season one year because I was 16 and wanted a life.  I definitely learned a lot about not letting fear hold you back, the joy of doing something everyone else thinks is impossible, and that sometimes, seeing it through to the end is not always the best option.  My body was already giving out on me at 16, imagine if I would have pushed it through college…

Then I learned about worthiness in love.  After a lot of lack luster love interests that were either flaky, unrequited, or just plain wrong, I met this guy, went head over heels loopy, and we were together on and off for 3 years through high school and the beginning of college.  I wont deny that there were a lot of good times, but he also cheated on me when I was faithful as can be, took drugs behind my back after blatantly lying to my face about it, and we argued ALL THE FREAKING TIME.  I was not the best person I could have been – I was always nosey, clingy, and trying to stay one step ahead of him to make sure he wasn’t lying to me.  I was playing what I thought was the game of love.  We’d break up, but since we had a lot of the same friends we’d still hang out, we’d start doing whatever it was we did, and then we’d figure, “fuck it, might as well be together again”.  Rinse and repeat.  I saw happy couples, I’d have fits of jealous rage, but think that it was something that other people have, and I didn’t deserve anything like that.

Then, after a particularly nasty argument and some contemplation, I decided that it was over, for reals, and the only way to really do it right was just stay away from him.  I didn’t return his calls and hung out with my own friends and met other people and lo and behold, he wasn’t the only guy ever who would be interested in me.  Within that few months, I actually ended up (re) meeting Zliten and over 9 years later…here we are.  I learned that I was worthy of love, true love, like the movies, like in my wildest dreams.  Someone who adores you and wants to be with you every moment and does cute things like buys you flowers for no reason and wears a shirt that sorta matches yours on purpose and that you trust completely.  You together are so much more than the sum of your parts, you are like two balloons floating up away together.  You just have to find that person, don’t let go, and slowly let your past baggage float into the ether.

The next thing I tackled was work.  I was not only competent enough to climb positions quickly, I was deserving of them.  I may not have had the experience, but I had the work ethic to not give up until I was easily doing a job I was previously unqualified to do.  For a long time, I didn’t feel like I was worthy of approaching the people who could help me or identify my talents (I have to thank many years of selfish and crappy management for that, but it was also my insecurities).  Once I figured out how to break through that, it was like a huge weight lifted off me and I was free to soar.

Then, the journey I’ve let you in on here on this blog, losing the weight.  I had a lot of issues feeling like I deserved to be thin – simply because I had let myself go and wasn’t currently thin.  Seems silly now – I mean, one of the basic principles of what I do is if I screw up, I forget it and move forward – one day is literally not enough to cause a blip on the radar.  I just didn’t know how to do that.  I’d try to eat healthy and exercise for a little while, miss a day at the gym or eat half a pizza, and then just give up because obviously I wasn’t strong enough or dedicated enough or perfect enough to lose the weight.

Then, I finally subscribed to the “everything in moderation” theory and my life got better.  Mess up and eat something I shouldn’t have?  Just get back on it the next day.  Miss a workout?  Make it up or write it off – but resolve to not do that again.  Make a bad choice?  Strive to make the next one better.  The only rule was no guilt.  Hell, this morning I ate candy for breakfast instead of oatmeal (stupid coworker bringing in stupid HOMEMADE candy that’s stupid delicious – I passed up the Kripsy Kremes no problem but HOMEMADE candy?  Oy vay.).  Two years ago, I might have freaked that I am a failure, but now, I just realize I’m eating a healthy lunch, an apple for a snack later, and skipping my oatmeal this morning and it will all work out.

One thing that took me a long time to realize that there was no reason to limit myself to wanting to look good “for my age and lifestyle” (aka sedentary gamer geek office worker).  Once I hit 240, I felt and looked so much better I almost just coasted instead of getting back on the wagon.  I figured I wasn’t *as* fat, so that was good enough – and it took me a few months to decide that that was hogwash.  I was worthy of so much more.  As if the moment I turned 25, I was no longer able to be (or want to be) muscular, athletic, strong, thin, or sexy – that’s some happy horseshit right there.  I thought before if I hadn’t gotten it together by now (then) I didn’t deserve to have it.  Imagine writing yourself off like that!  I’m so glad I changed what was in my head.  It took baby steps, but I absolutely believe that I deserve to feel and look as good as I want (depending on the effort put in, of course).

I still have friends that tell me they think I’m crazy for wanting to lose more weight using the “for a woman of your age” mumbo jumbo.  Well, there was an olympic gymnast this year in her 30’s and a swimmer in her 40’s, they looked amazing, and there is no reason I can’t look amazing too.  Not just good enough, not just better, but amazing.  While I’m not going to be trying for 8% body fat, there is no reason I couldn’t weigh within a few lbs as I did when I was 14 – I was a healthy weight, I wore a size 7, I ate plenty of healthy (and not-so-healthy) food to maintain that weight.  I think I can do it again.  It’s only about 30 lbs away.  I’ve still got plenty of inches to pinch.

Overall, the best thing I’ve realized is that when it clicks, when I realize I AM worthy, it is so freeing and opens up so many doors in my life, I don’t have those conscious negative thoughts anymore.  Of course I’m worthy of anything and everything wonderful in my life and anything that comes my way in the future.  Where I run into trouble is that nasty ol’ subconscious.  I always wonder if I don’t want to do something, or I really just don’t feel deserving of it.  Am I lazy, or just fearful?  These are things that plague me and keep me indescisive, I think sometimes it’s not that I don’t know what I want, but I’m fearful or feel like I don’t deserve what I want.

With New Years Resolution time coming up, definitely some food for thought.

Random Recipes: Tortilla Soup, or Hot Liquidy Love

This is a picture in the tupperware because I think I was about to explode after eating it and salady goodness and could barely waddle myself around the house until bed on Sunday.  We made this for 4 people, so I doubled the recipe I usually use – below is the normal one.  You’ll feed 2 people as the main part of a meal, or probably 4-6 as a pre-meal cup-o-soup.  I use the “throw stuff in and see how it tastes” cooking method, so I rarely use measuring cups/spoons, so everything is an estimate.  If you don’t like something, leave it out, if you’re a veggie, leave out the chicken and use veggie broth, the soup will not be offended if you change it around!

Chicken “Tortilla” Soup (or I guess Spicy Southwest Chicken Veggie Soup might be more accurate, but I called it what I called it):

-One box of chicken broth

-Two small cans of tomato sauce

-A crap ton of garlic (lets say, 5 cloves)

-Half an onion, chopped

-One chicken breast, diced

-One can of ranch style black beans (regular works but doesn’t quite taste the same)

-One small can of corn

-One small diced potato

-A handful of frozen veggies (carrots, green beans, corn)

-3 stalks of celery

-Some cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper to taste (1 tsp-1 tbsp if I had to guess)

-Jalapenos and/or other peppers to taste (in our big batch, we used 2 japaneos and 3 finger peppers, I usually use 1/2-1 jalapeno in a normal batch, and we like things ridiculously spicy)

-1 tsp corn starch (Zliten measured this)

-cilantro to garnish (we forgot this, which made me sad, but it was totally yummy without it)


Put everything but the corn starch and seasonings in pot.  Let it boil (slowly) for a while (at least til the celery is soft).  Smell and taste it without seasonings – add a pinch of everything, and taste again.  Repeat until you just can’t wait to eat it.  Disolve the corn starch in water, turn the heat down, then throw it in and let the soup thicken up.  Once it’s the right consistency – serve it up.  You can just throw in cilantro or if you’re feeling truly tortilla-y you can thow in tortilla strips and sour cream and cheese.  IMO, you don’t need it though.

Bonus: Lo cal chicken ceasar salad (this isn’t exactly how I made it last night, but it’s the most yum for the least hip-spreading):

-1 chicken breast, grilled and seasoned with garlic and “italian seasoning” (oregano, basil, and whatever else is in there if you don’t have that)

-A bowl full of romaine lettuce

-Either Newman’s Own or Ken’s Lite Caesar Dressing (not creamy)

-Half a small can of black olives

-2 pieces of crumbled pre-cooked bacon

-Shakey parmeasan cheese

Mix lettuce and dressing first (go easy on the dressing and add more until you have a light glisten on it all).  Throw bacon, chicken and olives on top.  Shake cheese on.  Enjoy!

Calorie-wise, if you’re curious, the entire vat of soup I estimate had just over 1000 calories, which was split between 4 pretty ravenous eaters with leftovers.  The salad was probably about 165 per person for a side dish, double that for a meal.  Feeding my two friends who can put away 1000+++ calories in a meal without batting an eyelash (you know who you are, 3 double quarter pounders with cheese and a large HiC), and clocking in at about 415 calories and they were stuffed – priceless.

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