Information Overload

Well, the Biggest Loser Bootcamp concluded last Sunday. My overall weight loss was not stellar, but I lost 5 lbs and 9.5 inches. The parts where I really improved were my overall level of fitness. At the beginning of the bootcamp, I could barely do a lunge and I definitely could not do any kind of jumping. By the end of the bootcamp, I am proud to say that I can do 15 burpees in a minute (minus the jump, just not there yet!), 20 full push-ups, and I am jumping and lunging all over the place. I also was able to beat my personal best on the Jacob’s Ladder by 100 steps, making for 350! And yeah, I think that’s a pretty BFD.

As I said, I only lost 5 lbs, but I totally own that it was all me. I have terrible eating habits, and the early weeks proved that all the exercise in the world wasn’t going to fix that. You can’t outrun your fork, people! After my last post, I found this site that basically told me that I was eating too much. The author was pretty much a dick about it, but regardless, it got me thinking about my food log and whether or not I was truly adding EVERYTHING I was eating. Well, it turns out, I wasn’t, so I started ruthlessly logging every little bite that passed my lips, and measuring everything I ate so I had the most accurate calorie count. That next week, I lost 3 lbs. Then we started shifts but I still managed to lose weight at a rate of 1 lb a week. Then-I got sidetracked yet again.

I wasn’t seeing results like other people in the camp, and so, of course, what’s my go-to? The Internet. The lovely, lovely, internet. I completely overwhelmed myself with information, and then I was questioning my overall diet. Should I go low carb? Maybe temporarily? Would Paleo be better? Maybe I should start hunting and killing and eating my meat (I laughed when I thought that. I like my meat on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic, or flash frozen in neat little individual servings). Everything I read seemed to conflict with something else I had already read, or thought, or felt. It all started with a, “Hey, that recipe looks good” click, and I had opened the hydrant.

I went from Paleo to low carb to low carb/high fat to moderate carb/moderate fat/high protein. Grains were bad, sugar was worse, Fat was not the devil, as long as it came from x, y, z and not from a, b, c. Paleo sounded the best, I thought I could eat like that for the most part. But it seems really labor intensive to follow properly, not to mention the expense. I don’t have ready access to a large selection of organic produce. Grass fed meats are mega expensive and I don’t have that in my budgetmy budget can’t accommodate that. Also, the biggest drawback to the whole thing: I would be doing it solo, and I don’t have time to prep a bunch of food every week.

Then, admittedly, I got further sidetracked by a 48 hour crush on this hunter-athlete guy who doesn’t eat dairy, eats his carbs only early in the day, works out like a beast lifting and running several miles day, kills his own meat (with a BOW, natch!). I mean, how hot is that? Easy on the eyes as well, excellent example of physical fitness, blah blah blah. The life he leads is admirable, but ultimately, unrealistic for me.

But it had to stop. I *was* trying to drink from the fire hydrant. I was drowning in dieting information, man crushes, and eat this not that bullshit. I closed the browsers, but it was too late. The damage was done. I sort of just drifted along while I tried to process all the information I had gathered. There was just too much information out there, too many ways to do things, and no way to know what would work best for me unless I just straight up experiment.

So, on to the Next Big Thing. I have signed up for the Holiday Bootcamp, and also….I re-signed up as a Beachbody Coach. I bought the 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack to start and joined a challenge group to help keep me accountable. Yeah, I’m doing 2 programs. Yeah, I’m going to start doing the Coach training so I can be an awesome coach and make it my full time job. Hell yeah I want to get paid for being in shape and help other people reach their fitness and financial goals.

I managed to end the bootcamp at 233 lbs, officially. I made my goal for the Holiday Bootcamp to lose another 5 lbs in half the time. I can’t promise that in the future I won’t get caught up in more food hype. I might even try a few Paleo recipes. But for now, I’ll take my information in slow, steady sips from a glass, thank you very much.

Here’s my sign

We are officially, technically homeless.  Yes, that’s right.  Between moves, we usually have no address.  But that’s okay as we are either with family or at a hotel for the night.  As sad as I was to leave such great neighbors, I was anxious to get on the road.

I’ll be perfectly honest and just say diet has been mostly iffy and as far as workouts, well let’s just leave it at I spent plenty of time humping it up and down stairs in our packing and moving flurry.  I also noticed I had had a few sodas, and yes a few burgers, but I tried to balance that out by eating lighter meals between.  We were doing pretty well with the meal planning.

We hit the road Saturday morning when we had finished all our business with our house and saying goodbyes. We stopped at McDonald’s for lunch because it was there, and on the turnpike there isn’t anything else.  I did okay-I went for one of those deluxe chicken wraps, grilled.  but then I also got fries and a coke. Bad, bad.

But some time after we had hit the road again, I heard this noise, and looked down and saw this:

Photo: Ewww. I'm going to take that as a sign.

Of course I had to laugh.  But then, I felt like this was a sign.  A reminder I didn’t need to finish that soda, and that in fact I had probably been drinking too many sodas, especially since I haven’t been eating all that great, and of course, not exercising.  I took it as a sign to keep my commitment to get fit closer to the forefront of my mind.

If you’re like me, there are times if someone is shouting and yelling at me to do one thing, to go this way, to whatever, I tend to dig my heels and go the opposite way.  The paw on my drink was a nudge, a reminder to keep to the path.  I haven’t had a soda since.  I think that’s a pretty big deal.

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”?

 

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!