Like most people, I think, I’ve fought with my weight for several years now. I’m a healthy weight for my ridiculous height (6’0″), but that doesn’t mean I’m at a happy weight. I feel my best when I weigh about 15-20 pounds less than I do right now, just on the bottom edge of the normal range for my BMI.

This, of course, is a problem for someone who lists one of her top five interests as “cheese.” My favorite food groups are carbs and dairy. Couple that with the fact that I work at a computer and I truly hate working out, and you’ve got a problem. I have the exercise and eating habits of a much heavier person, I just have the good genetics to not gain a lot of weight very easily.

Earlier this year, Jimmy and I decided to get in shape. From about January until April, we went to the gym around 3 times a week, monitored our calories obsessively, and saw pounds drop off. By the end of April, I’d lost 20 pounds and two dress sizes. It was great…but for some reason it didn’t last. I can’t pinpoint the moment when it all started to go downhill, but I do remember thinking “I don’t really need to enter my calories in the tracker, do I? I know what I’ve been eating.” I think that was the turning point. I realize now that the main reason I didn’t snack much was that it was just so inconvenient to have to open the calorie tracker for one measly hunk of cheese (I used’s tracker, by the way–it’s a really great system if you stick to it).

Anyway, the long and short of all this is that we’re giving it another try. I’m back to the weight I was last January, which is frustrating but not surprising. We’re doing it a little slower this time–being more lenient with our calories and more relaxed with our workouts–in the hope that when the weight comes off, it comes off for good. We’re both in a wedding next October (two very good friends who were both in ours) and we’d like to both be skinny and in good shape by then.

So where, you might ask, do sugary, carb-loaded, fatty, heavy muffins fit into this?

They don’t. At least not all the adjectives; the muffins themselves most certainly do. This is one of my favorite recipes from the weight loss plan last year; I found it in SparkPeople’s recipe database and have made it many, many times since then. For a while this year we jokingly referred to them as “blizzard rations” because Missouri was hit by a multi-day blizzard, burying us in three feet of snow for almost a week. The only way to get to the store was to walk (or wade, really), so I cooked whatever we had on hand–which, apparently, was a lot of pumpkin and chocolate chips.

These are really delicious and taste like they have about 300 calories, but come in at around 180 cal per muffin. I usually eat two for breakfast with a small glass of almond milk or a mug of tea. Do yourself a favor and eat them warm–either straight from the oven or rewarmed in the microwave for a few seconds. Just be ready to share; the recipe makes around two dozen, and you won’t see much benefit from the low calories if you eat them all yourself.

Awesome Easy Low-Calorie Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from
makes about 2 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 15-oz. can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup water or apple juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (use sea salt if you like a little more saltiness)
1 cup chocolate chips (normally I use dark; here, I used half dark and half white)

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray 2 muffin pans, or line with paper liners instead. Mix brown sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, water, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full (they will rise a lot, but shouldn’t overflow). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until muffins are set and just barely golden brown. Eat warm, and marvel in how good being good can taste.