Sunday, February 19, 2012

5 Weeks Down - Progress & Pizza

It's hard to believe that I've been following the customized FirstLine Therapy nutrition program from Accelerated Fitness Solutions for a full five weeks. (If you've missed how I got to this place, click on over to my blog archive at Merty Writes and start with my December, 2011 post "Do These Nachos Make My Hiney Look Fat?".) My body is certainly appreciating the changes I have made to my nutrition.

While my dietary routines were healthy (mostly) pre-FLT, my body had adapted to them. I was in a nutritional rut, eating the same things repeatedly, trying to maintain a large weight loss that brought me from a size 20W to a misses size 2 trouser. I was afraid to step outside my comfort zone and gain back everything I worked so hard to lose.

My current goal is to reduce my body fat and show more of the muscle definition that I earned through a year and a half of working with Accelerated Fitness personal trainer and Cromwell managing partner, Kevin Carlson. The changes made to my eating habits with the FLT program are not drastic by any means, but they are exactly what my body and my mind needed. 

More and more, I am aware of how foods affect mood, energy and stamina. FLT is helping me to step outside my comfort zone, experiment with new recipes, to enjoy eating again without fear of weight gain and to start stripping body fat off my small frame. When I say "Strong is the New Skinny", I mean it. I don't want to be a "modelized" woman with a gaunt face who starves herself. I want lean, defined muscle - a healthy, fit, energetic, strong and happy body.

If I had to describe this process in a word, wrapping up workouts and nutrition in one feeling, I'd use the word "effective". Being the wordy kind of person I am, I can't stop at one word.

Please feel free to roll your eyes.

I have to add that these healthier choices are easily incorporated into real life routines and lifestyle. I don't feel like I am "dieting". I am living a real life with healthy, deliberate choices, not starving or ingesting processed foods with hidden sugars.

On the first day of week 6, my FLT group convened for a Friday night meeting in Cromwell with our FLT leader, Caryn Acevedo. Meeting number three meant it was time for what I'd been waiting - a true measurement of progress. Caryn would once again administer the Bioimpedance Test (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) is a method of assessing “body composition”, the measurement of body fat in relation to lean body mass) to see what I was or was not losing in terms of fat and muscle. 

I knew my body was changing. A hop on the scale told me I had lost 7 pounds, but I am not one to live or die by the scale. It doesn't measure anything but pounds. It doesn't tell me what kind of pounds are lost or gained. What about muscle weight? Am I retaining fluids? Am I losing fat? This information is what I need to hone my nutrition to better feed my body. This is about health, not some number on a scale. This is why I pay more attention to my clothes. Jeans don't lie. If you need three large wrestlers using pliers and brute strength to get your jeans zipped up, that's a far more accurate interpretation of things than a number on a scale. If I gain muscle pounds, my scale is oblivious to the difference. I'll say it again, jeans don't lie.

When working out with Kevin over the past 5 weeks, the changes in my body reflected in the large wall mirrors. My frame was visibly leaner. I was well aware that both my size 2 and my size 0 jeans were feeling loose in the waist (different brands are cut and sized differently so in jeans, I can flip from a 0 to a 2, depending in the brand). When I tried to tighten my belt, I realized I was on the last hole. This problem required a little creativity to get resolved. By this I mean it involved a hammer, a screwdriver and some determination. I punched a new hole in my black dress belt and grinned to myself. I also added "buy a smaller black belt" to my to do list.

This is a terrible problem to have, isn't it? (This is me, smiling.)

So, onto the BIA results - it turns out that my body fat dropped by almost a full 2 percent in five weeks.

Insert a Jersey Shore style "fist pump" right here. Dance a little. You know you want to - I sure did!

My body is hydrated at 52% and my fat mass reduced itself nicely. (In case you are wondering why hydration is important, if you are not hydrated, your body cannot eliminate fat efficiently or well.)  

There are still another 7 weeks before I transition into the maintenance phase. I can't wait to see what the next few weeks bring. I am pleased beyond words and I love that FLT has sprung me free of the food trap in which I was stuck. 

I am no longer afraid of food. I am not worried about balance in what I eat - am I eating enough protein, am I eating too much protein, will this carb cause my jeans to burst when I bend over - FLT has provided a frame of reference, education about different foods and how the body processes/reacts to them and some recipes to try. If I have any questions, Caryn is a quick email response away and a super resource for suggestions. It really does make such a difference to work with a positive and energetic person.

In the spirit of experimentation, I created a healthy version of pizza. I dubbed it "Lavash Wrap Pizza ala Maria". This recipe takes about 4 minutes to assemble and 11 minutes in an oven (more or less). 


1 Joseph's Lavash Wrap (low carb, flax, whole wheat - I find them in the deli department at Stop & Shop)
2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 can diced tomatoes, garlic flavor
2 tsp grated cheese, I like Pecorino Romano
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano to taste

You'll notice, I also included a picture of an olive can. I originally intended to use chopped olives, but since I used 2 servings of EVOO, I opted to keep the olives out because that is a third fat serving. 

Place the Lavash wrap on a non-stick baking sheet, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the 2 tsp of EVOO across the Lavash and spread evenly to coat. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder across the coated wrap. (I used the entire can of tomatoes minus the liquid - but be aware that the weight and moisture of all those tomatoes will not allow the center of the wrap to crisp up even though the outer portion of the wrap crisps nicely. I ate the center with a knife and fork, but I think that issue may be resolved by using fresh tomato slices and some real roasted garlic. This version is a time saver.)

Once the tomatoes are added, sprinkle more salt, pepper, garlic powder and then add some oregano. The oregano really pops the flavor! 

Then sprinkle your choice of grated cheese evenly across the top. 

Place the tray in the oven and cook for approximately 11 minutes. 

Check the underside periodically to make sure the Lavash is not burning!

This is the finished product. It proved to be a delicious treat!

I am definitely planning to use this recipe again, but will try variations to keep it a fresh idea! Perhaps I will use fresh tomato slices and roasted garlic instead of the "wetter" canned tomatoes. I also will cut the Lavash in slices before cooking to see if that helps the crisping process. 

I plan to try a "white" version of this pizza with sauteed onions, roasted garlic and kalamata olives. This pizza may prove to be a never ending experiment. 

Cheers to you all and thank you for following along on my journey!


  1. I love that you're experimenting with food. Eating is not only necessary, but is pleasurable, too. That pizza looks yummy and well-balanced. I'll definitely be giving it a try, with all sorts of possible toppings. Spinach, tomatoes, garlic, artichokes, and a little Parmesan sounds pretty good to me. :O)

    1. I made a white pizza version using the olives, onions and some chopped pepperoncini. It crisped beautifully and I inhaled it - lots of heat from the peppers! The pics are on my Facebook wall, Liz. I want to hear how yours go!

  2. Yum. Thanks for the great inspiration and the lovely recipe.

    1. I hope the recipe works well - this really turned out to be a fun idea - I plan to play with it more!

  3. Keep up the good work and thanks for the recipe!

  4. I love this idea. I use the flat bread from our bakery for something like this and have made a 'sauce' with the diced tomatoes by throwing them in the processor. We love just the sauce, a low fat cheese and black olives and mushrooms. Very similar to your version and very delish. Thinking the white pizza with a fresh mozzarella thinly sliced and artichokes, onions and mushrooms would be awesome.

    1. Jo, a number of my facebook & accelerated fitness friends are now experimenting with this idea. Joseph's also makes a great low calorie tortilla that is a little thicker. It's also 70 calories as opposed to 100. I'm going to try using that tonight with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic, and spinach. Yum!

  5. That looks divine and beyond yummy. It adds flare and flavor to the plate and the palette. I might have to copy your dieting plan. You inspire.

    1. HI Brenda
      I've tried several different versions at this point (and many friends have been experimenting as well). I discovered that Joseph's tortillas (same low carb, flax, heart healthy recipe) puff and crisp better and the sliced tomatoes work incredibly well. It's been a really healthy way to make something tasty that doesn't feel like a diet. It's simply good nutrition!


You comments are truly appreciated!