Home ยป The "X" Factor

The "X" Factor

Monday was short. As far as work goes, anyways. After 2 morning patients, I was canceling the rest of my scheduled patients and heading for home by 9am. I just felt…horrible. Still do, honestly. 🙁

After a quick visit with my doctor, he has ruled out strep and thinks it’s allergies. Ugh. I had to chuckle a bit as I read Tracey’s post yesterday on allergies. They’re cruel and unusual monsters!! Allergies are new to me since moving to the south; I never had allergies when living in Chicago. And, I’m not enjoying them. At all.

Anyways, after my doctor’s visit and assurance that I didn’t have strep (phew!), I knew I couldn’t just waste the day sleeping or being a couch potato. Instead, I got to work on dinner for the night and breakfast for the week. 😀

Asian Chicken Orzo Salad slightly adapted from Weekly Bite

2 cups uncooked orzo, cooked according to box instructions
2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped (approx. 1 1/4 lbs)
1 red bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow and orange)
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup edamame English peas (had them on hand)
1 cup asparagus, roughly chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup broccoli
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted


Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once water is at a rolling boil, add bell pepper, snap peas, edamame/peas, carrots, asparagus, and broccoli. Boil for just a few minutes to blanch the veggies. Quickly remove from boiling water and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine orzo, chicken, and all veggies. Gently toss to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together sesame oil, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Pour sauce over pasta mixture and gently toss to mix through. Top with toasted almonds. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Yield: 10 servings (1 cup each)

Nutrition Information (per cup): 326 calories; 5.7 g. fat; 34 mg. cholesterol; 769 mg. sodium; 46 g. carbohydrate; 3.8 g. fiber; 20 g. protein

Coconut Carrot Cake Granola from Healthy Food for Living

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 325º F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Meaure the oats and puffed rice into a large bowl, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, grated carrot, agave nectar, coconut extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk until very smooth.

Pour wet ingredients over cereal and stir until evenly coated. Spread mixture on the prepared cookie sheet in an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven, stir the nuts and flaked coconut into the granola, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown and crisp.

Remove granola from the oven, toss with raisins, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 9 servings (1/2 cup each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 200 calories; 8.4 g. fat; 72 mg. sodium; 29 g. carbohydrate; 4 g. fiber; 3 g. protein


I lifted weights for 20 minutes last night while watching TV. Can’t say I enjoyed it as much as yoga, but I’m DOING what I DON’T!!!

I also started calorie-counting yesterday, as well as journaling my intake. This is the “X” factor in weight loss for me (and most others). I understand some people’s aversion to food journaling, but because I am highly proficient in calorie counting (hello, job!), it’s just a matter of doing it…and using it to find success. I’m feeling rather motivated to get the number on the scale moving in a downward motion, slowly…but steadily. 🙂

Question: Have you lost weight in the past? If so, what do you feel was your “X” factor in finding success at the scale?

And…how are you doing with your DO what you DON’T challenge goals? Thursday marks one week into April! Hope everyone is meeting their goals!

Trying to survive a JAM-packed schedule today. Ew 🙁

Happy Tuesday,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. April 6, 2010 / 6:10 am

    I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling so well! That darn pollen will get you every time!

    Love the Asian orzo salad – what a delicious lunch and/or dinner!

    Calorie counting was definitely the x factor in my weight loss. It helped keep my snacking in check because I was suddenly accountable for all of those small bites!

  2. April 6, 2010 / 6:41 am

    I’ve been doing good at my weight lifting/water drinking challenge!! I didn’t think about lifting weights while watching tv– I’ll have to do that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. April 6, 2010 / 6:46 am

    I have seasonal allergies bad and was always sick. I started taking a generic 10mg of loratadine (claritin) and it makes a world of difference – try it!! I haven’t been sick in 2 years.

  4. April 6, 2010 / 7:11 am

    Hope your better soon. My x factor is calorie counting.

  5. April 6, 2010 / 7:21 am

    I hope you feel better soon!

    I’m so flattered you tried the recipe! Did you like it?

    • April 6, 2010 / 8:34 am

      It is so good! I can’t wait for lunch and leftovers!

  6. April 6, 2010 / 7:55 am

    I have lost weight! Wahoo! I am at 50 lbs gone right now… and mostly focusing on maintaining. Eventually I would like to lose about 20 more, but I was starting to get beat down with the calorie counting. That was my X-Factor… I never realized how much crap I ate until I started counting!! Now I mostly focus on making good decisions and portion control, but when I am ready to kick it up a notch and knock off that last 20… I will be counting again!

    Hope you feel better soon!

  7. April 6, 2010 / 7:57 am

    Food journaling made me extremely ocd and somewhat miserable about my outlook on eating- but I love that it works for some people!

    That granola looks amazing… I need to make some asap!

  8. April 6, 2010 / 8:06 am

    Carrot cake granola sounds awesome! Lifting weights while watching TV is how I like to do it. Moved up to 25 push-ups last night! Hope you feel better soon girl!

  9. April 6, 2010 / 8:12 am

    Yuck…sorry about your allergies. ๐Ÿ™ I’ve actually never struggled with them, but SO many of my friends/family have. Hopefully it will pass quickly!

    Calorie counting has helped me lose weight in the past – it just helped hold me accountable, I guess. Bottom line….it just works!

    I’m doing well on my challenge so far – though one day I only stretched for a couple of minutes…but, hey – I still did it!

  10. April 6, 2010 / 8:23 am

    That granola sounds great, I love that it has no added fat. I definitely need to experiment more with making granola.

  11. April 6, 2010 / 8:26 am

    haha, gotta love O’Sheas! I bet you saw my friend Hal’s band playing, I’m pretty sure they’re there just about every night ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 6, 2010 / 8:32 am

      There was a band playing! They were good!

  12. April 6, 2010 / 8:33 am

    My x factor is having some kind of a plan. If I just try eating intuitively and working out when and how I feel like, I might maintain, but I do not lose weight. I need at least a little structure. Good luck to you!! If ever you need to know there’s someone else out there in the same boat, remember ME!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    P.S. Your carrot cake granola looks wonderful!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. April 6, 2010 / 8:59 am

    Oh dear, I hope you feel better soon! I’m so impressed that you fixed this gorgeous salad and incredible granola while being under the weather! You’re amazing!!

  14. April 6, 2010 / 9:03 am

    Counting calories is how I starting losing, I think just keeping track of what you consume is SUPER healthy.

    Feel Better soon!!

  15. April 6, 2010 / 9:09 am

    I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well. Sending good vibes your way.

    Counting calories and monitoring portion sizes always works for me. I don’t do it everyday, but when my jeans start to feel tight, I break out the notebook.

  16. April 6, 2010 / 9:17 am

    I spent a lot of time outside this weekend, and not a lot of time lifting weights ๐Ÿ™ Z and I played tennis though, and my arms are killing me, so I thought maybe it could count?! I definitely need to add in some more core work though!

  17. April 6, 2010 / 9:28 am

    oh allergies-i have had a lot of those lately too. i kept thinking i was getting sick but no just allergies ๐Ÿ™

  18. April 6, 2010 / 9:30 am

    My X factor is not snacking between meals. No snack and it’s a miracle what my weight will do.

    I am very poor on my challenge. No running to date :(, that 5K is going to come too soon!

  19. April 6, 2010 / 10:05 am

    Hope you feel better soon! My first day of DO what you DON’T went great as you read. Last night I realized I prepped even more than I pictured which is awesome it just got lost in the fridge for a second.

  20. April 6, 2010 / 10:21 am

    Aw, sorry you have killer allergies. (Thanks for the shout out!!) I never had allergies when I lived in Massachusetts. But ever since I moved to the mid-Atlantic I have horrible allergies. The stupid South. That orzo salad looks great. I think Iโ€™ll have to try that.

  21. April 6, 2010 / 10:52 am

    Oh, yuck on the allergies. I hope they don’t bother you too much the rest of spring. I’ve (thankfully) never dealt with them. I guess I should knock on wood now, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think the biggest thing that helped me to lose weight steadily was always changing things up. Whether it be in my workouts or how I ate, I always switched things around every month. My body never plateaued and it was fantastic!

  22. April 6, 2010 / 11:07 am

    granola carrot cake sounds delish.

    I am a big believer in calorie, fat, carb, protein, sugar, sodium, fiber and cholestrol counter. I journal everything that I eat everyday. Its not just the calories that need to be in the right range.. the fat, carb, sugar and protein also need to be balanced. (at least for me ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  23. April 6, 2010 / 11:40 am

    hope you get well soon nicole,take rest and take care….

  24. April 6, 2010 / 12:25 pm

    The X factor in weight loss for me has been journaling, and support from both online friends and friends in my WeightWatchers meetings, you read my post, you know ๐Ÿ˜› 63 pounds so it must be working.

    I’m doing great on my do what you don’t challenge I have flosses every night so far, hoping it continues well past April. I have also decided to run one mile every day in April, just to be able to do it, so even my rest days a quick mile, it’s feeling good.

  25. April 6, 2010 / 12:29 pm

    Feel better…I am with you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. April 6, 2010 / 12:55 pm

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well! ๐Ÿ™

    I saw that granola recipe on Healthy Food for Living and immediately bookmarked it! Looks great!

  27. April 6, 2010 / 1:30 pm

    That Orzo salad looks so yummy! For me calorie counting has been the X factor as well. Once I stop keeping track the weight creeps back on.

  28. April 6, 2010 / 2:01 pm

    I’d calorie count but it’s so frustrating trying to figure out exactly how many calories are in something that doesn’t have it on the label. I eat a lot of school food and the calories aren’t there! hah

  29. April 6, 2010 / 2:22 pm

    Oh no, I’m sorry you’re feeling under the weather. I hope you feel better soon. Your salad looks so beautiful and perfect for the warm spring weather. I love water chestnuts in my salads – it gives it a nice healthy crunch. Good for you in that you made dinner and breakfast for the week versus sitting around feeling sick. Sometimes, the best way we can help ourselves feel better is just to bite the bullet and do something. That granola looked divine! I loved the picture of it. It looked perfect with all those chunks and pretty colors ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. April 6, 2010 / 3:31 pm

    Hey Nicole – hope you feel better!

    At the end of March when I was figuring out what my goals were for April – I actually found my old WW journals from 1999 where I lost 70 pounds in a year. Two key factors: I didn’t drink any alcohol then (wow has my hubby changed me on that one!) and I did a minimum of 90 minutes of exercise each day. Not all at once, Hannah was only 8 back then – but I walked to my office on Michigan Aveue from the train station – 2 miles each way. I rode my bike to and from the train station every day – another 1 mile each way. Then did an exercise video after Hannah went to bed at night.

    I am trying to do that again and see what the results are on May 1! I did Level 1 and 3 of Jillian’s shred today (55 minutes) and plan to walk the dog tonight after work.

  31. April 6, 2010 / 3:57 pm

    Sucks about your allergies. I used to work for a hay dealer, and when they were haying the fields I almost couldnt come into work. It was brutal!

    Ive lost a bunch of weight, but I dont count calories. Because of my past ED I just cant take that risk you know? Its too easy to fall back into it. Instead I exercise. I think Im fairly lucky that way because even if I hadnt changed my eating, I would have lost weight running. It happens every summer. But this time Im NOT putting the weight back on!

  32. April 6, 2010 / 4:30 pm

    Oh allergies… they are a frienemy of mine!

    I haven’t got started on my Do what you Don’t for April. :-/ With my half marathon on the 3rd, I took the 1st & 2nd off and have been resting the past 2 days. And then I just remembered I have to have minor surgery tomorrow so I’ll be without exercise for another 7-10 days! Ekk! But at least I can still focus on my being healthy while traveling next week!

  33. April 6, 2010 / 5:10 pm

    My X factor is going to the gym. I am usually too busy so I have to find the time or else…

    I hope you are feeling better soon.

  34. April 6, 2010 / 5:20 pm

    Allergies are the worst, I’m getting them as I get older. My X Factor is portion control, low carb, veggies. I know exactly what works, and I have no self control. It drives me nuts and I feel bad after, but I cannot control myself. I think I need help ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. April 6, 2010 / 7:06 pm

    I definitely have not been doing as well as I would like with the recycling….but trying so I guess that is all that matters! Hope you feel better soon!

  36. April 6, 2010 / 8:35 pm

    I lost 25 lbs by calorie counting. I think it is a very effective tool, and it really helped me. I think the best purchase during that time period was my food scale so I could measure out exact portions of things. Apart from a fluctuation of 5 lbs in either direction, I have maintained my weight loss and no longer calorie count! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Nicole
      April 6, 2010 / 9:59 pm

      That’s awesome! Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. April 6, 2010 / 8:36 pm

    So sorry you are feeling sick.

    I use Sparkpeople.com to track my calories & fitness each day. I love that they break down your intake into protein, carbs, and fat. They also give you a range. I really do not know if it really is the right calorie range I should be eating but I loosely follow it anyway.

  38. April 7, 2010 / 6:38 am

    Allergies STINK! I hate them. The worst is when they bother my eyes and I feel like I want to rip my eyes out. Ugh. Well I’m glad it’s not strep, that’s a positive thing for sure.
    The orzo salad sounds fantastic. I LOVE orzo! Also, as for losing weight, this is random but when I had an ED I counted calories, and HECK YEAH it worked!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah, sad, but hey, it’s true. Counting calories is a pain in the butt, but it really works. If I ever need to lose weight I will count calories again. Good luck.

  39. April 7, 2010 / 8:01 am

    That carrot cake granola sounds heavenly! I might have to make it for my Mr.’s mom–she loves granola!! Glad to hear you don’t have strep, but allergies are NO fun either ๐Ÿ™

  40. April 7, 2010 / 9:56 pm

    Allergies are the worst!

    I have been an allergy sufferer for most of my life – in fact, I got allergy shots for 20 years before stopping over the summer. I figured I would try a spring without them – see how I survive.

    Good luck – take a shower before bed – and neti pot – I find those two things help a lot!

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