If You Do What You Have Always Done…

Is it REALLY possible that I have hit a plateau this early in my weight loss journey?

My body is not budging beyond the 10 pounds lost so far.  My resolve has slipped, my food choices dipped, and my mental fortitude…ill equipped.  I read this quote from Tony Robbins the other day (you know the self-help guru guy), “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you’ve always got.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I have toiled over this post for twenty days.

I have written and re-written the content a multitude of ways.

I cannot be the only person who struggles with motivation from time to time, who has doubts, who questions their own intestinal fortitude…so why not share my REAL journey with people?

I have been frustrated that the progress I felt that I should be making doesn’t come.  What I have always done to lose or maintain weight in the past, is not working for me anymore.  My body and my mind have changed, my zip code has changed, and my whole life has changed.  I have been through the sudden deaths of both my father and a very close friend, two toxic bosses that ate me up and spit me out, moved 3000 miles across this crazy country of ours, and gained a family.  I went from single professional chef to stepmother-of-two in suburbia in just a few short years.  I have been completely shell-shocked by the changes in my life, and although the outcome is better than I could have ever dreamed, the journey through the last four years has been rough.  Real rough.

I have searched desperately for inspiration and motivation, wondering where that fit and energetic chef in me wandered off to.  I have found no trail of bread crumbs, no “Dear John” letter, and no spark to help me get back on track.  At 30, I have already accomplished the goals that I set out for myself at 19.  I have been a chef, pastry chef, and baker.  I have been mentored by great chefs.  I have had the opportunity (twice) to cook at the James Beard House in New York City, I have been written up in magazines, and I have had the opportunity to run a restaurant with my own crew.  Yet none of this propels me forward.

I feel that my love for food has changed from the decadent, sexy thing that it once was, to a simple, and almost utilitarian view of food.  I am no longer seduced by fancy dinners, but instead I long for a house with a garden to grow fresh vegetables.  I am no longer enticed by late nights sweating behind a stove, feeling the adrenaline rush of a good service, and finishing at the bar.  Instead I am longing for dinner parties with friends and a bowl of freshly picked strawberries on the porch…maybe I am just getting old before my time.

I believe that it is in this mental shift, and my desire to make life more simple, that I have accidentally stumbled upon what I need to do to gain ground.  Get back to basics.  Whole food nutrition, raw foods when at all possible, much less (or no) meat, etc.  And don’t forget walking…lots of walking.  One thing that my time living in Los Angeles took away from me was the habit of walking everyday.  I want to walk to the store, walk to the park, and walk to clear my head, but at the weight I am at, a one mile walk is about all I have in me.  So, I start this week, putting one foot in front of the other, choosing to change by the step.  Trying to motivate the unmotivated.  Focused on winning this mental game.  Today I am going to walk to pick up my kids at school, 1.6 miles each way, wish me luck.

And now I want to know what motivates you to move forward or to make positive change in your life?  What do you do to keep your mind off the long journey in front of you, but still keep your eye on the goal?

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African Style Beef Stew

African Style Beef Stew

This stew saved me from a serious case of the food blahs, where nothing sounded good to eat.

This stew is excellent straight out of the crock pot or slow cooker without any embellishment necessary. If you prefer, it is great ladled over brown or wild rice, spaetzle, egg noodles, couscous, or probably anything else you could imagine. It is excellent with some fresh bread as well. This is comfort food of the highest order because it satisfies the need for warmth, flavor, and a full belly without filling you full of fat and salt. ENJOY.


1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 pound Stew Beef, Lean, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 each Onion, Chopped
2 cloves Garlic, Sliced
4 sprigs Parsley, Chopped
3 sprigs Cilantro, Chopped
4 each Carrots, Chopped
3 each Potatoes, Cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
4 cups Low Sodium Beef Broth
15 ounces Canned Garbanzo Beans, 1 can, drained and rinsed


1. Brown the Beef: Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the trimmed, stew beef and season with salt and pepper. When the meat is browned on all sides, remove pan from stove, and transfer the cooked beef to a crock pot or slow cooker.

2. Saute the Aromatics: Once the meat is removed from the pan, put it back on the stove and add the chopped onion and garlic. Saute until golden brown, then add carrots, cilantro, parsley and spices until aromatic. De-glaze the pan with 1 cup of the beef broth, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to loosen any tasty bits at the bottom.

Pour this all in the crock pot or slow cooker with the browned beef.

3. Add the Goodies: Add the potatoes, garbanzo beans and the remaining beef broth to the crock pot or slow cooker and set on high. Leave the stew to cook for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beef and potatoes are both tender.
Servings: 8
Source: Spitfire Strength


Photo: Courtesy julesjulesjules m at Flickr through creative commons attribute. Click on the image to see her photostream.


On Healthy Eating

On Healthy Eating

I am a chef. I have been a chef for 14 years. I know what good food is.

Since I was a teenager I have had a secret love affair with food. I LOVE food that tastes good…usually a bit too much. ( I suppose that is not much of a secret anymore ) I will refuse to eat if the food does not taste good, therefore, I am not a fast food junky.

My weight issues stem straight from high stress, too little activity and eating too much of a good thing…mostly pastries…chocolate and I have a long love affair. There is no secret here either. I was fit before and I have allowed myself to get derailed by stress, most of which stemming from the sudden death of my father in the summer of 2010. My self-image is poor, yet improving, and I know that this is going to be a battle of rather epic proportions to go from my starting weight of 375 pounds (!) to my goal of 150 pounds.

To be honest, I wanted to do a juice fast this week, but I chickened out. Living off of liquids, with no solid food, did not sound like it was going to give me anything but heartburn and a case of the munchies. But I did juice, and I did like it, and I did come up with some interesting ways to use up what my juicer left behind…I can share some with you next week if you like?

Overall, I ate a lot of whole, plant-based food this week. I made to sure to have some protein with every meal, some nuts, beans, lean beef, lentils, quinoa, and some cheeses were on the menu this week. Maybe I should get more diligent about taking photos and sharing some of these dishes with you?

My best advice for anyone who is trying to turn their diet around is to constantly add in vegetables (or fruit) to whatever you are eating. Having pasta? Grate in some carrots, add some caramelized onions, or better yet, some kale or spinach or squash. Your limits are only your own taste preferences. I guarantee you that the more vegetables you put in, the more flavor your food will have, and the less of it you will be able to eat, if not by sheer volume alone!

Try it this week.

I think you will be surprised.


I am ‘Hungry For Change’

I am 'Hungry For Change'

Have you ever heard something at just the right time in your life to be receptive to it? I have. I enjoy these little moments…these little epiphanies.

I just watched the new documentary ‘Hungry For Change’ and it has been an eye-opening experience.

I have been working for weeks to transform what is in my refrigerator for the opportunity to lose this weight and feel good about myself again. I have tried the “program” diets in the past, and they don’t work…ok, they do work, but it is not a permanent solution, and as you can well see by my before picture…when the weight comes back IT BRINGS FRIENDS. This documentary has told me what I have always suspected and TRULY needed to hear today.

It is possible to lose the weight.

It is possible to feel good about yourself.

It is possible to do this without going broke or killing yourself at the gym.

Did you hear that? I feel like I was just given permission to live. One of the best pieces of advice that I absorbed from this documentary was that if you add in extra fruits and vegetables, you start to crowd out the bad things in your diet. Add some more cucumbers to your salad, add some vegetables to your tomato sauce, and your body will respond by telling you that it feels better…and you will keep going and losing and getting happier. You can play with portion sizes later, you can worry about fat content later, you have to start somewhere, right?

My biggest “take aways” from this documentary:

  • Don’t diet. If you are putting food in your mouth, you are on a diet, a diet is what you eat, not a punishment.
  • Watch your sugar, try to cut it out, and for the love of God, stop using those chemical sugar substitutes!
  • I see a juice fast in my future.

Watch this documentary. You owe it to yourself to understand what I am blabbing about. Do it whether you have weight to lose or not, because YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.

p.s. If you click on the photo it will take you to the free online premiere of ‘Hungry For Change’ on their website. But is only online for free until March 31, 2012.


‘Hungry For Change’ Documentary Trailer

Clips from the new ‘Hungry For Change’ documentary that is coming out next week about weight loss and health. This documentary is by the same filmmakers as ‘Food Matters’ and I am REALLY excited that they are offering a free online premiere next week, March 21-25, when you sign up on their website.  Visit their website to sign up and view additional clips, http://www.hungry for change.tv

I know that my fiancé and I will be watching! Please watch the video with us next week and join me back here at Spitfire Strength to post comments! I would love to hear how this documentary influences people.


03/21/12 UPDATE:  I started watching this documentary online today, and I could only watch 30 minutes before I ran out of time.  My fiancé and I were stopping the film every 10 minutes to discuss the movie, our thoughts, and what we want to do to improve our health!  I will come back and leave my review…if we ever get through the whole movie! 🙂

If you haven’t started watching it yet, follow the link above, and don’t forget to share!  It is a free online premiere of the entire documentary (about 1hr. 30min.) and it will be available on their website to view until the 31st.


Why “Spitfire Strength”?

It speaks to me.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a spitfire is:

A quick-tempered or highly emotional person

This defines me undoubtedly.

Urban Dictionary adds an extra spin that I love, which references a different spitfire, the British dogfighter plane from WWII:


This defines what I want to become.

Now, strength, that is rather self-explanatory.
I already have all of the strength necessary to make this journey.

2012 is the year of redemption. It is the year that I take my life back. I can do this.

You can do it too. You just have to want it bad enough.