You want to order what?

anything to lose weightIt’s Food Friday, but no food today.  I wanted to share an interesting conversation I had with the hubs last night about supplements.

So, we’re sitting there watching “Hannibal”-great series if you’re into gory deaths, hallucinations, and dark imagery, and the ubiquitous Dr. Hannibal Lecter-and the hubs says, “Hey Pause it for a minute, I want to show you this stuff I think I should get.”  After expelling a long suffering sigh (I hate for my shows to be interrupted by chatter), he shows me his iPad, which is open to this page touting some “miracle” muscle building pills.  I give the article a readthrough, then open a browser window so I can see if I can find more information about this stuff.  I’m not surprised that most of the links that I find are more “testimonials aimed at selling more of this product.

But the hubs was all excited about it and keeps asking if I think he should get it, and wouldn’t it be awesome if he got all ripped like that, etc, etc.  Finally I look at him and ask if he wants my honest opinion.  He hesitates (because he knows my answer is not just no, but hells no-LOL), but then says yes, he wants to know what I think about it.  I tell him that he doesn’t need any pills or muscle-building supplements to get ripped.  If he would lay off his 3 scoops of ice cream nearly every night (!), the copious amounts of beer he’s been drinking lately, not sit around eating out of the bag of trail mix, crackers, chips, etc, and stuck to a exercise program, he would build muscle and burn the fat.

I showed him pictures of Tom Venuto, who wrote the ebook “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle”-excellent read, great information, BTW.  He is a natural body builder, meaning he doesn’t take any enhancement drugs to be totally ripped.  He trains hard, and he gets results.  I told the hubs if Tom could do it, so could he.  I also pointed out that he would look like a total freak if he had too much muscle because he’s short, and that he should focus on building a lean and flexible physique, not a bulky one at any rate because I didn’t think I could love a man whose boobs were bigger than mine.  I think it was the last comment that swayed him.

There is NO substitute for exercise and eating right.  I don’t have a problem with using protein powders or drinking Shakeology, because while technically they ‘are’ supplements, they don’t do anything but add calories, protein, and minerals and vitamins to your daily diet.  You don’t know the long term effects of using metabolic “enhancing” supplements, especially ones that label themselves as an “steroid alternative”.  As part of the microwave generation, we all want quick results and yeah, I would love to be able to lose 30 lbs in 30 days.  But the reality is that shit is just going to come back.  I feel any advertisement you see that claims you can lose a ton of weight without exercising is a crock.  Sure, I guess it’s possible, but what exactly are you losing? And once you stop taking those precious little pills, how long before you put that weight back on?

The hubs looks at me, and says, “So, I shouldn’t get this?”  I just look at him until he huffs out a breath and says, “Fine. I guess you’re right.”

I pushed Play.

What do you think about all these ads for “steroid alternatives” and “lose weight without exercise”?

 

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Food is Fuel. Choose Wisely.

This Food Friday, I want to remind everyone to be conscious of what you are putting in your body.  The weekends are usually the time when I sort of just let it all go, and eat whatever, and then struggle to undo the damage over the next week. Which of course, then ends in another weekend where anything goes.  Breaking the cycle is tough, and yes, sometimes it sucks, but if I want to reach my goals, I have to be totally committed to the change, because this isn’t a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.

I saw a Facebook post from a friend who is also a Beachbody coach, and he was talking about how he had just bought a box of Hamburger Helper and a package of oreos.  He was talking about how he and his wife used to eat stuff like that twice a week because it’s quick and easy, and of course it tastes good.  Or, at least it used to.  After having cleaned up their diets and lost weight, they found that the Hamburger Helper was not as good as they remembered it.  Way too salty, and just generally nasty.  They ended up not finishing it.  The oreos, he claimed were just as good as he remembered, but they ended up throwing that out too.

work hard in the gymThe other day, we had pizza from Domino’s.  And guess what?  Same reaction.  Pepperoni pizza and I could taste the fat in the meat!  So gross.  And it was soooo salty!  We used to have pizza all the time.  That night, I managed 2 pieces before I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Anyway, Robbie’s post got me thinking about how we used to eat. We were a box dinner family, too.  I also used to buy those frozen chicken patties and put it on a bun.  I was also a HUGE fan of Stouffer’s French bread pizzas.  God, I can almost taste them!  And those Tostino’s party pizzas?  We would eat 1.5 of those-each! We also ate out frequently: fast food at least 2xs a week, and dinner at a restaurant every weekend.

Wow.  When I think about the way we used to eat, it actually makes my stomach turn.  It took me a while to think about all the trash we used to eat on a daily basis.  I’ve been slowly changing our diet, learning to cook (and well!), and making smarter choices at the grocery store.  I generally stick to the perimeter of the store, and only go down the aisles I need something from.  Of course, I still end up at the check out with items that wouldn’t get past the food police.

However, as my picture suggests, I have busted my ass in the past, trying to lose weight, get in shape, etc, but I always failed, and the reason always boiled down to a bad diet.  Previously, it was starvation.  Now, it’s a certain overly liberal slackening of the food.  I noticed the other day that I have not been eating as clean as I was, or even should.  Too many snacks and other stuff I just don’t need, and it’s interfering with my results.  Honestly, I have not been as strict with myself since I finished the 6-Day Express.  And that’s terrible.  When I saw this meme on my Facebook today, I realized I have not been paying attention to what I’ve been putting in my body.  In short, I have not been choosing wisely.

So, now it boils down to:

1.  I have 6 weeks before we move, and I’ll be seeing my family en route.

2. I want to lose at least 10 lbs before then.

3. I’d like to wear my wedding rings by the time we leave.

And, the plan for that starts with:

1. Tracking my food and exercise.

2. Planning ahead.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Do you find yourself making poor food choices, even though you are busting ass working out?  What do you do about it?  Sometimes, I just need to see something that gives me an “A-ha” moment, and I’m good.  This week it was a blueberry meme.  Next week, who knows?  The only thing to do is to make better choices and keep moving forward.

You Bet Your Asparagus!

It’s Food Friday, and today I’d like to share with you the wonders of one of my favorite summer veggies: asparagus.

When I was little, I remember eating this stuff by the can! They were so delicious. I would gobble them up like they were candy, and yes, I would eat the whole can by myself.  Later on, I guess I had forgotten how much I loved them, and so when I was a young 20-something, I no longer bought them.  Of course, this was also the time of my life when I was beholden to no diet rules and I subsisted on mostly fast food.

asparagusNow, as someone older and wiser (haha), I am discovering more amazing and tasty vegetables than just the standard lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.  I also rediscovered asparagus-fresh, crispy asparagus.  I had no idea what to do with it, so I usually would just steam it in the microwave and sprinkle on a generous amount of lemon pepper.  Later, I discovered the amazingness of grilled asparagus!  SOOOOOO delicious. I would drizzle a little olive oil on the bunch and throw it on, turning the stalks until they were tender crisp.  Then, I would drizzle this wonderful bleu cheese vinaigrette over them, and then the feast would begin, and we would fight to the last stalk!

What I didn’t know as I was eating these delectable little spears is how healthy they are!  I had no idea that asparagus had so many health benefits.  I’m realizing that this is true of most whole fruits and veggies, but sometimes, it is still a shocker that so many of us aren’t developing our full potential because we aren’t eating nature’s bounty.

Did you know that asparagus is not only loaded with fiber, but also has folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K?  It also contains a detoxifying compound that breaks down carcinogens and free radicals, so it’s possible it can help prevent several types of cancers.  And, amazingly enough, it is like a little fountain of youth for our brains! That’s right, eating veggies like aspargus and other leafy greens can help prevent cognitive decline because of the folate.  Asparagus also has high amounts of the amino acid asparagine, which acts as a natural diuretic and flushes extra salt from the body.

Amazing what a nutritional punch these little spears of goodness serve up in every bite! And another thing I love about them, they aren’t just a side dish.  They are also amazingly versatile!  You can grill them, steam them, use them in a stir fry, scramble them with eggs, whatever!  I plan on getting some on my next trip to the store, chopping them up and freezing them to add to my next egg scramble.  We had asparagus last night that I cooked up in the grill pan, and then added a little lemon juice and parmesan.  Yummy!

There are tons of asparagus recipes out there, but one of the simplest ways is to just trim the ends, put it in a baking dish with a little water, cover, and microwave for about 4-5 minutes.  Then, all you have to do is season them with whatever you like!  My go-to’s are usually lemon or garlic, but I’ve also used sesame oil and sprinkled sesame seeds on top.

Word to the wise: the thicker asparagus stalks are tougher, so stick to the thinner ones.

Lemon Parmesan Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus

2 tsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 TB parmesan

2 TB or more lemon juice

 

Wash and trim asparagus, drizzle olive oil over stalks.  Saute in pan till tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.  Toss with salt and pepper, and transfer to plate.  Drizzle lemon juice over stalks, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy.

I apologize if my cooking intructions seem a little on the light side.  This isn’t an actual recipe per se, this is just how I made the asparagus last night.  I used half a lemon for the juice, but the other measurements are approximate.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

Please, sir, I want some more

outrun your forkIt’s Food Friday, and instead of showcasing a specific food, I wanted to focus on the importance of eating healthy foods.  As I’ve talked about before, I didn’t grow up eating healthy foods. This made it especially hard for me as an adult to figure out how to feed myself.  As a college student, I was forever astounded by the seeming plethora of beautiful, fit people around me.  How did they eat?  What did they do?  Why couldn’t I look like that?

Because I didn’t know how to fuel my body, then, and even later, my primary method of weight loss was the deprivation method.  I just wouldn’t eat.  I was either too tired, too busy, too whatever.  And guess what, even though I lost weight, I eventually would gain it back when I would go back to eating regular meals.  On top of everything, my weight loss would always stall out around 15 lbs.  EVERY TIME!  Gah!  Then, of course, I would eventually go back to eating regular meals, and I would gain that weight back.

This cycle, perpetuated by my own ignorance, meant I would never reach that nebulous goal of single-digit sizes.  After all that, I’ve finally learned that the body does not like to be hungry.  Contrary to what I thought, I actually needed to eat to lose weight.  Who knew?  All I was doing was losing muscle, not fat.  It also explains the lethargy and the occasional unplanned food binges.  I know so much more about fitness and nutrition than I did then, and it shows.  My focus now is putting the right food, in the right amounts on the table.

For the most part, I actually enjoy eating healthy meals, and fueling my body with the nutrients it needs to build muscle and burn fat.  I’m a total foodie, so in the beginning, I felt I was struggling against my foodie nature.  But then I realized that enjoying food doesn’t mean eating three and four servings to prove how delicious it is.  Sounds like a no-brainer, but things like this aren’t always clear when you are trying to figure out why you can’t lose weight.  It’s easy to see overeating or not sticking to a diet as being weakminded, or even lazy and uncommitted.  But it’s so much more than that.

The takeaway from this is: the battle of the bulge is not happening only when you exercise.  The true battle for fitness is not in the gym, it starts in the kitchen, with the food you choose to fuel your body with, and the reasons you make those choices.  Since I’ve started making wiser eating choices, I feel like a new person. I’m more alert, I have more energy during the day. My skin is clearer, even though I sweat like crazy during my workouts. I can attribute these things to cleaning up my diet and eating mostly unprocessed foods.

Eating healthy gives you more energy because your giving your body the nutritients it needs.  These nutrients help maintain your immune system, maintain or build muscle, and reduces the risks for diseases like anemia and rickets.  Eating more fruits, veggies, fish, whole grains, and nuts do a better job at filling you up, so you aren’t going to be as prone to overindulging in less-nutrient dense foods.  Most importantly, eating healthy is one of the best ways to control your weight.

When we used to eat fast food 2-3 times a week, I look back and think how I seemed to be struck with some kind of malaise.  I didn’t have the energy to do much but sit around and watch TV.  I couldn’t make a commitment to myself then.  But since then, I feel like I have done a 180 regarding my relationship with food.  I like how I’m eating now, and I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to change my life.

Have a good weekend, stay active, eat right.

 

Lentil You Taste This!

When I was in middle school, we had this substitute teacher for a week who used phrases like, “it behooves you to”, and “broaden your horizons.”  Yeah, we were twelve and thirteen so there was a lot of “who the heck is this guy and who does he think he’s talking to?” And yes, plenty of sneers and snickers.  But in some ways, as I figure out new healthy foods and how to make them part of my family’s diet, I certainly am broadening our hroizons.  Damn.  I just snickered.

It’s Food Friday, and today’s delicious food is *drumroll*: the lentil!  Yes, this humble little legume is in fact one of the best foods you can eat, and it’s very versatile.  They can be served as a soup, a main dish, a salad, and yes, even made into burgers.  What’s even better about these little wonders is their nutritional value.  A 1/2 cup serving has an amazing 9 grams of protein (!), which makes them an excellent meat substitute when you’re tired of the same old chicken and fish.  They are also super high in soluble fiber-8 whole grams in that same 1/2 cup.  Can you say WOW!  Soluble fiber is the kind that helps you stay full and helps lower cholesterol AND they tie up carbohydrates, so they get absorbed more slowly and help keep blood sugars stable.

There are just so many good reasons to eat lentils, I would have to quote the entire article.  But here are two more amazing things you might not have known about lentils.  One is that even though they are legumes, they don’t have sulphur in them, so they won’t give you gas like other beans.  The other is that they contain molybdenum, a mineral that helps metabolize fats (hell-O!), carbs, and iron.  Also, I wanted to point out that while lentils are in the legume category, which means they can be a vegetable or a protein source, but not the same in one meal.  So, don’t eat a load of lentils in one sitting and think you don’t have to round that out with some other veggies.  Just sayin’!

There are a lot of interesting recipes out there using lentils, like these from a New York Times feature, and you’ll find most of them have a nice Middle Eastern flare to them.  Now, important to note: lentils take time to cook, but you don’t have to soak them.  The red ones cook faster than the brown or green.  I usually get brown, because that’s just what they have at my store.  And now…it’s recipe time!  This lentil salad is from the “Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook”, and it’s a great salad for all year, but particularly in the summer since it’s served chilled.

2 cups steamed lentils ( I just cooked them according to the package directions)

2 cups diced red pepper

1 cup diced cucumber

1 cup red onion

3 Tablespoons balsalmic vinaigrette

4 tablespoons balsalmic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup low-fat feta cheese crumbles

Just toss everything together in a bowl and sprinkle the cheese on top, and you’re done!  You can eat it immediately, or keep it for up to three days.  This recipe makes 4- 1 1/2 servings.

lentil saladIt makes a lot, so if you’re cooking for one or don’t want to be eating this all week, I would halve the recipe.  About the dressing: the ingredients on the list ask for low-fat, low-salt, and low sugar vinaigrette.  I will be honest and say that’s not something I keep on hand, so I just put in the same amount of balsalmic vinegar and a little drizzle of olive oil.  If I’m feeling particularly chef-tastic, I’ll mix my own with balsalmic vinegar, olive oil, and a bit of honey.

You might notice I don’t have cucumbers in mine.  It had gone bad :(, so I had to do without.

And that’s it!  I hope you give these little wonders a try, they are definitely worth it.  Everyone have a good weekend, and stay strong, remember your goals!

Mighty Mighty Brussels (Sprouts)!

Hey hey, it’s Food Friday.  Growing up, veggies were cooked in fatback or bacon grease, or eaten raw (carrots only, mind you), cooked in stews and rarely, steamed.  As a teenager, fresh vegetables meant having a side-salad!  I don’t think that anymore of course, but my limited exposure to vegetables in my youth has left a bit of a void in my grown-up diet.  So even though I’ve been trying to incorporate more veggies in our diet, it isn’t always easy because I don’t always know what to get or how to cook it.  Enter the Brussels sprout!

When I was in college, one of my roommates loved these things, and would buy the frozen ones in some kind of sauce, and microwave them.  I always thought they smelled terrible!  Like a football team’s worth of sweat socks and jock straps-from all season.  I swore I would never eat anything that smelled that bad.

But, it so happenedRoasted brussels sprouts the hubs and I went to one of the local casinos and stayed overnight.  We ate dinner at the buffet, and there were Brussels sprouts.  I decided to try them.  They actually looked cute, so tiny and bright green!  I put 3 on my plate, and O-M-G!  They were so delicious.  I decided I would have to look up some recipes so we could eat them at home.

For those of you unfamiliar with these delectable little gems, they are from the cabbage family, which is filled with other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage.  Research suggests there is strong reason to believe these mighty veggies are cancer-fighters!

I would like to think that most people know vegetables are excellent ways to add fiber, vitamins, and minerals, not to mention they are low in calories, so you can really fill up on them.  Also, there are plenty of studies that show a vegetable rich diet can help prevent many medical maladies, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

But what makes Brussels sprouts a mighty veggie?  Not only are they high in vitamin C, they’re also pretty high in protein!  Although the protein doesn’t have all the amino acids of actual meat, when you add these little morsels to whole grains, you can have a complete meal.

These veggies are in season in fall and winter. If you want them fresh, buy them small, bright green, and in tight little buds.    The trick is not overcooking them, because that’s what makes them smelly and gross tasting.  They should be a little crisp when they are done.  There are a lot of recipes out there, and most will tell you to buy them fresh.   I have so far only bought them frozen because the fresh ones at my market looked a  little sad.  The recipe below is the most basic one I’ve found, but if you want to jazz it up, or are an adventurous cook, there are quite a few good recipes at Eating Well.

Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts 

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts

3 tablespoons good olive oil

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Fresh Brussels sprouts: cut off the brown ends and pull off yellow leaves. Put in bowl and mix with salt, oil, and pepper. Pour into baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Every 5 minutes or so, take the pan and give it a shake so the sprouts brown evenly.

brussels sprouts This is the second bag I’ve bought.  I’m going to steam them and then add lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

I can’t wait to eat them! Nom nom nom!  Maybe I should have bought 2 bags.  Then I wouldn’t have to share.  Hmmm.

Well, that’s all for now.  This has been an amazing week.  Thank you to all my new followers, you rock!  Enjoy your Easter weekend and please, step away from the dish of jelly beans!