Monthly Archives: February 2013

Things I Used to Believe

Weighed in this morning at 125.8. While I don’t mind the number, it goes without saying that I’d much rather be 132 and running without a femoral stress fracture. Sigh. It is getting quite emotionally difficult to see people out for runs, because I want so badly to get out there myself. Not because I want to lose weight or burn calories – I’m quite fine maintaining – but because I crave the movement – the moment when my breath, stride, and music are all in matching cadence – the feeling of satisfaction after hard exercise. I miss it terribly.

 

I’ve been thinking about things I used to believe – about weight loss, about myself. Here’s a quick rundown:

 

I used to believe… that I had a “large frame.”

Now I know… that my frame is actually VERY small. A size 2 is a very healthy size *for me.* I get a substantial double chin at 133 pounds. It’s kind of ridiculous.

 

I used to believe… that my genetics dictated that I would be larger.

Now I know… that genes aren’t everything, and even if I am predisposed to gain weight, it’s not inevitable.

 

I used to believe… that I’d be stuck with blood sugar issues forever.

Now I know… that even though I tend to be sensitive to blood sugar fluctuations, I can manage them easily with diet and exercise.

 

I used to believe… that I could judge what was healthy for me based on what was healthy for other people, and I could lose weight successfully if I just did what (insert blogger name here) did.

Now I know… that everyone is SO different that it makes very little sense to compare oneself to anyone else – whether in weight loss, eating, exercise, or life.

 

I used to believe… that I wasn’t strong enough to lose the weight.

Now I know… that I AM because I DID.

 

I used to believe… that exercise and happy movement were not for me.

Now I know… that not only can I run, but I love to run!

 

I used to believe… that weight loss had to be a fight against my body.

Now I know… that, for me, weight loss was largely a side effect of taking care of my body and feeding it well.

 

If you’ve lost weight – how have your beliefs changed?

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Why I Turn Down Chocolate Cake

Part of my maintenance routine has been to turn down “treats” and “cheat meals.”

It’s true. If I’m out at a birthday party, I won’t eat the cake. No need for explanations… I just say I’m full.

But why not?! Don’t we all need “balance” in our lives? Isn’t part of “healthiness” indulging from time to time?

Well, maybe that’s true for some people ….. But as for me, I “balanced” my way up to 250+ pounds.

Here’s the thing — I already know how the cake tastes. I’ve had countless pieces of cake over my lifetime. I know exactly how buttercream icing tastes. I know exactly how the cheap sugar cookies from the supermarket taste. I can tell you exactly how it feels to burn the roof of your mouth on Domino’s carry-out pizza. Eating the chocolate cake isn’t going to DO anything for me, make me feel any better, or give me any culinary inspiration.

What I’m still learning is how it feels to be healthy.

I’ve found that, if I have a “cheat day,” that often spirals into a “cheat week.” I’m not a doctor, but it feels like indulging in cake or cookies gets my body off track. The sugar hit makes me crave simple carbs, and before I know it, the day is totally shot.

And I’m not convinced that “treating yourself” with things that are bad for your health is a good idea. In what other area of life is something that’s not beneficial to your body considered a good indulgence?

This isn’t to suggest that I don’t ever eat “treats.” I’ll gladly take up any offer to grab frozen yogurt, but I go for the no-sugar-added flavors, stick to a single 4-oz portion, and (if I want a topping) just add whipped cream. If I’m at an event where there’s a new dessert I’ve never tried, I’ll have one bite. (The first bite is always the best anyway!) But I won’t eat a sugar bomb of dessert just because it’s a “special occasion” (because when it is not a special occasion??) and I generally won’t eat huge restaurant portions at special events.

Plus – healthy food tastes GOOD. It took me a really long time to figure that out, probably because I went for the stupid 100-calorie snack packs over real food. I’d much rather make one-ingredient banana ice cream for dessert at home and top it with some frozen blueberries than dig into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

I see so much about working “real life” into healthy living. … But my “healthy living” habits ARE my real life.

I love my body; I want to feed it well.

So I turn down chocolate cake.

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Why Write Yet Another “Weight Loss” Blog?

Why am I adding my voice to the plethora of weight loss/maintenance blogs out there? Do I really have anything to say that folks haven’t already said much better?

I’ve been asking myself these questions over the past few days.

I’m not delusional enough to think that any of my recipes are super original. I don’t post awesome instagram photos of skinny Starbucks lattes. I can’t even exercise right now because my femoral stress fracture (which is itself evidence of not training well.)

But…

I’m hoping that writing a blog will keep my weight maintenance on track. SO many people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. (We’ve seen this in many former Biggest Loser participants.) How many blogs have you seen with authors who have lost 50+ pounds only to regain much of it – all while studiously ignoring the habits that made them regain? (I know I can tick off at least half a dozen without even thinking about it.)

I’m hoping to shed some light on what weight maintenance actually looks like. I’ve read comments from people just beginning to lose weight who express great concern about loose skin (seriously, nothing to really fear, I promise) or what they’ll have to do for the rest of their lives to maintain. I’ve fielded many questions from friends and acquaintances who want to lose weight but have no idea where to start, so perhaps I can assemble some posts here that I can send to whomever ends up asking me for advice. It’s much easier to do that than to retype everything.

And I’m looking forward to keeping track of my training once I can run again.

All in all, for me, massive weight loss was well worth the effort, and maintenance isn’t half bad.

So – here’s to dispelling weight loss/maintenance myths and cultivating real, lifelong healthy habits.

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Healthy Eating on Road Trips

We took a road trip this past weekend. In the past, such trips have presented major challenges for me. A typical meal would be something like an 8-pc Chick-Fil-A nuggets (260 calories), but that would usually leave me hungry before we got to our destination.

I packed a food bag the night before our trip with homemade gluten-free granola, a few protein bars (I like Zone Perfect nutrition bars, available at Costco), two Lara Bars, a few cans of Amy’s Black Bean and Vegetable soup, and some fruit.

On the outbound trip, I had a Diet Coke and a Zone bar around dinner time. When we were still on the road at 10:00 PM, I broke out the granola and ate 1/4 cup. That was enough to tide me over.

Each morning during our trip, I had a green smoothie for breakfast (YUM!) and a can of Amy’s soup for lunch. I also packed the scale with me. On past trips, I’ve left my scale at home… the lack of daily weigh-ins encouraged me to make poor choices. This time, though, I didn’t go crazy with my eating because I still had to weigh in each morning.

Image

My green smoothie from Sunday. 1c almond milk, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 frozen banana, and a little over 4 cups of spinach. Yum!

The return trip was a little more difficult because we hit a LOT of traffic. I ate 3 bananas, 12 almonds, and a Zone bar. My total road eating for the trip back was probably around 600 calories. Not so bad, and far better than any sketchy hamburger joint.

For our next road trip (coming up in about a month), I’ll probably pack some chopped vegetables. Baby carrots are at least as easy to bring as bananas, and I missed having them while we were out.

I weighed in this morning at 127.0 – smack in the middle of my maintenance range (126-128). Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the weekend went!

How do you eat healthy on road trips?

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Track your food!

One of the best decisions I made while losing weight was to start tracking my food. Before I started tracking, I thought it would be a huge hassle to keep a food journal. It’s well known that keeping track of one’s food consumption can really help with weight loss, but I thought it would be too much trouble.

On a chilly morning in February 2012, though, my perception changed. I started adding up my calories just for fun.

I sat at my kitchen table staring at the piece of paper.

…… It was 11 AM and I’d eaten just under 900 calories.

Ho. Ly. Cow.

(And no, I hadn’t done any extreme physical activity that morning. I had woken up, eaten breakfast with my husband, nursed the baby, packed my husband off to work, and snacked … and snacked some more. And then went back for more snacks. See a pattern?)

I am the world’s worst mindless eater. I have eaten my way through countless bags of potato chips (with the accompanying bowls of dip, of course.) Putting it on paper made it real. All of a sudden, I had to face up to my late-night snacking.

I joined myfitnesspal when I was right around 200 pounds. It was a huge jump-start to my weight loss. I loved seeing the data on what I was eating. I began to notice patterns: if I ate Ritz crackers for breakfast, I’d be hungry an hour later. But if I ate three string cheeses (on super busy days) or an apple with peanut butter, I stayed satisfied for a long time. Having all the information in front of me not only encouraged me to make better decisions, but also helped me feel good about fun, off-plan treats. I felt much better about enjoying a few bites of cake if I knew I could work it into my calories for the day or week.

In the summer of 2011, I was stuck at about 152 pounds. I had been injured the previous month, so I couldn’t exercise all that much. I went out to Container Store one morning to buy some storage containers, and ended up putting a dinky little $20 food scale into my cart. Over the next few days, I weighed everything I ate. What an enlightening exercise *that* was! Despite losing 108 pounds at that point, I still had a very poor idea of what constituted a “serving” size. I’d been measuring one serving of goat cheese thinking it was an ounce, when it was really closer to three ounces. Once I readjusted my portions, I started losing weight again.

I tried not tracking for about a month. Of course, I picked the best time of year to do so – the holidays! While my weight stayed within the same 4-pound range, my food choices weren’t great at all and I felt a lot more run down.

Now, I track everything, every day. I spend maybe a grand total of five minutes entering things into myfitnesspal. If it goes in my mouth, I eat it – even if it’s just one french fry off my husband’s plate, a handful of almonds, or a bite of a banana. You can’t lie to the scale – why lie to a food journal?

Here’s a picture of a recent day. (It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s pretty typical for a busy weekday with a 6:30 AM wakeup & 10:00 PM bedtime.)

A random day from myfitnesspal.

A random day from myfitnesspal. See that 0.1 servings of a protein bar? That’s how I count a bite of one that I had while making a new batch. Also, no one will ever accuse me of disliking cheese.

 

If you decide to start tracking your food, I highly recommend myfitnesspal. I sync my account between the family iPad, my work computer, and my Android phone. The phone and iPad apps even have a barcode scanner, so you can scan in items as you cook. I’ve also read great things about tracking with SparkPeople and LoseIt! but have no personal experience with those programs.

Do you keep a food journal? If so, do you think it’s helped your weight loss/maintenance?

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My Top Five Weight Loss Tips

I frequently get asked what my best advice is for people who want to lose weight. Here’s a summary.

1. Get comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Weight loss is hard. It takes a long time. It means you’ll have to stop eating a lot of delicious crap. If it were easy, we’d all be skinny. You’ll likely have to go to bed at least a few nights with your stomach rumbling, particularly during the period when you’re starting out. Yes, you’re going to have to shake things up. You may never be able to eat the same food you’re serving your spouse, if your spouse is like mine and needs 4,000+ calories a day. To effect real, substantive weight loss, you’re likely going to have to do more than turn down the cheese on your hamburger — you’ll probably have to change your order to a salad with grilled chicken, or something similarly healthy.

But here’s the thing about weight loss. From my experience, it’s worth the effort. It’s worth turning down the frozen yogurt toppings and sticking with your 4-oz serving of no-sugar-added chocolate. It’s worth going to the store and being able to pick out clothes that you like to see on you. It’s worth seeing my medical tests come back better and better, and knowing that I’m doing the best I can to stick around for a long time for my family.

2. Weigh in every day. Yes, you’ll see it go up sometimes – but you’ll also get a far better sense of your body. I tried weighing in once a week (as recommended by most dieting programs), and found that my eating went crazy the day I weighed in because I knew I had a week until I had to weigh in again. I much prefer more data over less, so I like to know (for example) that I can expect to be up about 2-3 pounds a day after a long run, and that weight will drop in about 72 hours.

3. You can’t out exercise a bad diet. It’s true. Don’t think that an extra five minutes on the treadmill is going to make up for a Subway cookie. I see this on so many “weight loss” blogs. People vastly overestimate the number of calories they burn while exercising. Exercise is a wonderful tool for maintaining a substantial weight loss, but exercise alone won’t get you to the weight you want to be.

4. Make changes with which you can live for the rest of your life. Or at least changes that work for you most days. If you can’t see yourself eating 1,200 calories a day for the rest of your life, don’t start doing that now. Try bumping your daily calories up to 1,800 and see how you feel.

5. Be prepared. I never go anywhere without at least two healthy snacks and a water bottle – unless I’m going to the grocery store to buy more food. If you always have a healthy option, you’ll never get caught out at an event where you’re so hungry that you dive face-first into the salted caramel buffet. (Not like that’s happened to me… cough cough.) Because you can’t count on always being in a healthy environment, you have to create that for yourself.

 

What weight loss advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out?

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Favorite Breakfast Recipes

I’m a busy wife and mom with a full-time job. I know how important it is to get something together quickly! Here are my favorite breakfast options. With my breakfast, I enjoy 16 oz of coffee with a few packets of Equal and a single International Delight caramel creamer (30-35 calories total).

Pumpkin Freezer Muffins

Before I had to go gluten-free, I used to love a pumpkin muffin with 1 tbsp of peanut butter! Now, I make these for my husband for his breakfasts.

Mix up 1 can pumpkin, 1 egg, 1.25c rolled oats (NOT instant), 1.5c flour (whole wheat works great), 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2c sweetener of choice (I like Splenda), 1 small container (half a cup) of unsweetened applesauce, 3/4c almond milk (or milk of choice)

Bake at 400 for 19 minutes. Each muffin has 131 calories, 5g protein, and 5g fiber. Freeze muffins individually, then stick them in a bag. These will keep up to 2 months in the freezer, and you can reheat one whenever you want a quick snack!

Makes 12 muffins.

Spinach Protein Shake

In your blender, cram 1c almond milk (40 calories), 4c organic spinach (40 calories), 1 frozen banana (105 calories), 1 scoop of protein powder (140 calories), 1c cold water. Blend it all up – yum!

Homemade Protein Bars

Mix up 4 scoops protein powder of choice, 5 tbsp peanut butter (I use PB2), 3/4c almond milk, and 2 cups of rolled oats. I use my Kitchenaid mixer, as the “dough” gets pretty sticky. Spray two pieces of parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. Put “dough” between the sheets and roll it out to desired thickness. Cut into 8 bars.

I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats, PB2 powdered peanut butter, 100% Whey Muscle Milk from Costco, and Blue Diamond unsweetened almond milk. Each bar has 184 calories, 19g protein, 4g fat, 19g carbs, and 4g fiber.

Banana Freezer Muffins

Mash up 2 ripe bananas. In a separate bowl, soak 2 tbsp chia seeds in 2 tbsp water for 15 minutes. Mix chia gel and mashed bananas with 1 small container of unsweetened applesauce (or half a cup), 1 cup rolled oats, 3/4c almond milk, 1/2c sweetener of choice (I use Splenda), 1.5c flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 2 tsp baking soda.

Bake at 400 for 19 minutes. Each has 129 calories, 5g protein, and 5g fiber. These freeze just as well as the pumpkin muffins above!

Makes 12 muffins.

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