Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Back to Basics

Friday, March 19th, 2010

I know what works for me. I know what I have to do to lose weight. You don’t lose 92 pounds accidentally (which is ironic, because you can certainly gain it accidentally!).

So why haven’t I been doing what I know works and logging all of my food and exercise? Because it’s time-consuming. And it means being accountable . It means NOT sneaking a few extra crackers or automatically having a chocolate-covered banana every night. And I like crackers and chocolate-covered bananas…

Clearly I have the maintenance thing down: Without putting in extra effort to lose weight, my normal eating habits – combined with my exercise – keep me at roughly the same weight, give or take 3 pounds.

But I don’t want to stay the same weight – I want to continue to lose weight! Yes, I’ve lost 92 pounds, but I’ve got 20 more to go to reach my goal! You’d think that this close to my goal I’d try harder, but it hasn’t worked that way.

Once I hit about 180, I felt so much better about myself. I was finally comfortable in my own skin, and didn’t feel like the biggest person in most rooms… I wasn’t the biggest person in most rooms. Even though I ‘want’ to get to my goal, I haven’t had the same drive that I had before, because it’s not as dire as it was before.

So for months – a year now? – I’ve been half-assing my attempts to actually lose weight.

But today, I decided enough was enough. I logged on to My Food Diary and recorded my food and exercise for the day (for the first time in months). It’s funny too: As soon as I did it, I felt great! Completely re-energized. Like I’m actually going to hit that elusive 150.

Of course, I first have to get back into the 160s first…

Yes, “back into.” Excuse time:

I’ve been super hungry lately. I keep blaming all the running I’ve been doing, which actually is the likely culprit. Since I’ve been running so much, I’ve also just been eating when I’m hungry, figuring that it’s ok because I’m burning so many calories with the exercise. Hunger is my body’s way of telling me I need to eat, right? I make good food choices, too, but I think I’ve been overdoing it, eating too much, too often.

So yes, even though on February 19th I finally made it into the 160s (at a meager 169.5), on February 20th I made it out. I then proceeded to work my way back up to 172 and I’ve been struggling the last few weeks to reclaim my place in the 160s. Today I was at an even 170, so it’s coming. I know it is. Especially now that I’m back to basics and logging my food.

How are YOU doing?

The Munchies

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

One of the challenges that I’ve always faced when it comes to my weight-loss efforts is a simple truth about myself:

I like to eat. A lot.

This creates some serious difficulties considering I’m trying to limit my food intake. What I have to do to accommodate this penchant for eating is 1 – find foods that are low in calories so I can eat a lot of them, or 2 – foods that take a long time to eat. That way I can prolong the eating process as much as possible to feed this weird passion.

One thing that does not fit into either of those two categories is crackers. As you may know, crackers are evil. And silly me, I continue to buy them. They’re fine if you can limit yourself to 5 or 6, but I have an extremely difficult time doing that. I love them. And again, I love to eat. Therefore, I inevitably end up stuffing my face with cracker after cracker, until I’ve eaten hundreds of calories worth of them… or finished the box. It’s like I have this insatiable urge to munch and even though my head says “Enough, already!” my fingers and mouth say “Shut up, Head – crackers are delicious!”

It’s gotten to the point that I have forbidden myself to purchase any more crackers until further notice. Maybe in a few months I’ll try them again and test my resolve. For now, though, I know having them in the house is just asking for trouble.

It’s far easier to avoid temptation in the grocery store than in your kitchen.

Remember that.

A Vicious Cycle

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I weigh myself a few times each week. Friday is the day whose weight I actually count, and the other numbers I use as a gauge to see how I’m doing.

You may be aware that today is Friday. My weight today was 174.5. That’s not awful, but it’s not good, either. I say that it’s not awful because on Monday, I was 178.5. It’s not good though, because last Friday I was 173.5.

This has been a common theme for me, unfortunately. In fact, my weight has yo-yoed between 174ish and 178ish on Fridays and Mondays, respectively, for roughly two months. TWO MONTHS!

Let me paint you a picture:

On Friday I weigh myself. It’s a decent number – I’m not horribly disappointed or upset with myself. Then it’s the weekend! I go out to eat, and get basically whatever I feel like eating. I go out of town, and am not in charge of preparing my own meals, and therefore eat basically whatever is available. I slack on my exercise.

And then it’s Monday and I weigh myself. It’s a terrible number – I’m horribly disappointed and upset with myself. Then it’s time to get down to business! I stay in town, don’t go out to eat, and instead, cook something healthy and delicious. I go to kung fu. I go to my aerobics class (or now Hip Hop). I go to the gym. I go running.

And then it’s Friday again. The scale shows a decent number – I’ve basically made up for last weekend’s indulgences, so I’m not horribly disappointed or upset with myself. Then it’s the weekend!

You get the idea.

I recognize that this is insane and not all that difficult to fix. I simply need to stop throwing a week’s worth of effort and positive actions out the window for a few moments of gratification on the weekend. And to be honest, much of what I’ve yielded to food-wise hasn’t even been all that tasty. Just convenient.

This two steps forward – two steps back B.S. has got to stop.

So here it is: I’m not going to go crazy this weekend on the weekends. Difficult as it will be at times, I will keep myself in check and not indulge in food that is not good for me… or my waistline. And I’ll keep up the exercise on the weekends, too.

Mark my words, internets!

When Planning Ahead Goes Wrong

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I’m what you could call a planner. (Except when I don’t plan at all, but we’re focusing on the planning bits for now.)

Before I started caring about things like calories and saturated fats and preservatives (oh my), it was not a rare thing for me to be out and about, get hungry, and stop at McDonald’s or Wendy’s for a quick ‘pick-me-up.’ Not necessarily for lunch or dinner, either. I’ve been known to stop for a 700-calorie snack on a whim.

The thing is, people get hungry. I get hungry… legitimately hungry! And what’s a girl supposed to do when you’re in the car running from one place to another for hours on end without accessibility to your healthy snacks?

Exactly! You bring a snack with you! An apple or a granola bar (I love all things Kashi). That way, if you get hungry on the road, you have a healthy option available. Without that, it’s a lot harder to resist pulling into that drive-thru.

So that’s the idea, at least. And for a long time, that worked for me: I would bring a snack when I knew I would be gone for a long time, and eat it only when I was truly hungry.

Then, slowly but surely, it turned into taking a snack with me just about every time I left the house, no matter how long I would be gone.

I never bring a snack home with me, either. They get eaten, every time. Usually within minutes of pulling out of the driveway.

Hungry or not.

Damn my 4H-taught preparedness! This is bad. It’s true that a 130-calorie granola bar made with 7 whole grains containing loads of fiber and tons of protein is a much better choice than a McHeartattack and fries. However, eating granola bars – for no other reason than they’re delicious – is not good either.

At this point, it’s just a habit: Upon leaving the house, I grab a snack, and upon leaving the driveway, I eat said snack.

I know I need to reign in this problem before it becomes more serious than it already is, but it’s tough. I can’t just say ‘No more snacks in the car’ because there are times that I really do need to have a snack with me. Just not every day.

Maybe I have an oral fixation and I just need some gum. Thoughts? Does this happen to anyone else or is it just me?

Let me tell you, it’s a good thing pie isn’t very portable.

(mmmm… pie…)

Food Recommendation – Pink Lady Apples

Monday, November 30th, 2009

We’ve all heard the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well there’s some real truth to that. From Suite101.com:

The Health Benefits of Apples

  • Help protect bone health
  • Help prevent asthma, heart disease, and cancers such as lung, breast, colon, and liver
  • Research also suggests that the phytonutrient called quercetin may help to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism
  • Pectin in apples can help to lower LDL cholesterol
  • Good for diabetes and weight management
  • Good source of vitamin C
  • Good source of soluble and insoluble fiber
  • Excellent source of flavanoids and antioxidants

Besides the health benefits, apples are great because they’re portable, highly versatile, inexpensive and delicious.

My favorite apple variety is the Pink Lady. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and tart, incredibly juicy, nice and firm, and not the least bit gritty. I hate gritty apples.

Pink Ladies are in season right now! Do yourself a favor and pick up a bunch – they make a great snack! When selecting your apples, keep in mind that the pinker, the better.

I heard somewhere that when you’re hungry between meals you should eat an apple… And if you can’t bring yourself to have an apple, you’re not that hungry.

Old Habits Die Hard

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

I fell off the wagon so hard this holiday that I have a bruised bum. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I’m not entirely sure what happened. The trip up to Buffalo for Thanksgiving started out well enough: I brought healthy snacks and was armed with multiple sets of workout clothes, but apparently I forgot to pack my resolve.

As you know, the Turkey Trot went well, but that 5-mile run was not enough to combat the immense quantities of food I ate that day. Turkey (with stuffing), squash (with butter and brown sugar), mashed potatoes (with gravy), cranberry sauce (sweetened with sugar), croissants (with butter)… And that was just for dinner. After dinner, there was pie, pie and more pie.

Man do I love pie…

I just had very little control. Not only did I eat more than I knew I should (or needed) while at the table, I also found myself falling into habits I thought I kicked a long time ago. Habits that were a serious cause of my obesity in the first place.

While helping to prepare meals, I found myself tasting the food far more than necessary. While helping to clean up after meals, I found myself sneaking leftovers as I packaged them up for the refrigerator. I used to sneak food like this all the time as a child – there were always far fewer leftovers on days that I was asked to put them away than when my siblings put them away.

Not only was the actual day of Thanksgiving rough for me food-wise, the days following it I was terrible, too. We ate out. A lot. And I did not make healthy choices. Pizza and wings and fries and chinese food etc etc etc. And of course, leftover pie. There was also quite a bit of wine, which certainly doesn’t help matters, in more ways than one.

Yesterday we drove home, and in the car I got physically ill. At first I thought it was my body rejecting all the crap I had shoved into my mouth over the previous few days. I actually think it was just a response to the speed with which I ate my MTO chicken sandwich. So stupid.

I’m really mad at myself for my poor willpower over this holiday. It makes me sick to think that I could so quickly and easily slide back into old habits when I’m not paying full attention.

I guess I still have a lot to work on. I sincerely hope I’m not the only one who struggled so much with food this holiday.

Here’s to a more successful Christmas!

Fifty Nifty – Hot 100 Update

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Do you believe there are only 50 days left of 2009?! We’re halfway through the Hot 100, but if you haven’t joined in yet – or you’ve fallen off the wagon – there’s no better time than today to dive in!

The last 10 days have been very good to me. I’ve been very good to me. Well, mostly, at least.

Keep running! I’ve totally nailed the running thing for this period. Ten miles last week and 8.25 miles already this week, with a 3-mile run scheduled for tomorrow. Making a schedule and planning out what I’m going to run in advance is the best way I’ve found so far to meet this goal. If it’s on my calendar, I’m doing it. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

My long run on Sunday is supposed to be 4.5 miles, the longest yet. I’m considering bumping that up to a full 5 miles, the exact distance between my parent’s house (where I’ll be this weekend) and my sister’s house. I’ll just make my sister drive me back to my parent’s afterward :) Buffalo is MUCH flatter than Pittsburgh, so I think I could do it, and this would be excellent practice for the Turkey Trot. Think I can do it?! Shout out, folks!

Lose some more weight. Last weigh day I was at 173.5, my lowest ever. Huge success! I’m hoping that Friday will be even lower, but I had a few hiccups with my food over the last few days (read on for details) so I’m not 100% confident. Perhaps my exercise has been enough to counteract some extra calories. Perhaps not. Only time will tell!

Eat out less – cook more. I’ve been doing pretty well here overall, but there have been some missteps a bit during this 10-day period.

Saturday we went to the beautiful wedding of a friend, where we had a lot of fun, met some great people, and ate a lot of delicious food. Hors d’oeuvres. Cake. Cookies. Half a pretzel at the mall in the dead space between ceremony and reception.

Sunday I went on a nice long run of 4.18 and was easily talked into going to Primanti Bros. for lunch. If you’re not from Pittsburgh and are unfamiliar with this local franchise, let me explain: Big ol’ sandwich (I had ham & cheese) with a handful of fries and a handful of coleslaw. Yes, all ingredients are smushed between slices of italian bread and served on waxed paper. It may sound odd to you, as it did to me when I first moved here, but there’s a reason that it’s so popular… it’s delicious.

Yesterday was some ill-advised (but tasty) Mexican food for dinner.

Other than that, my eating has been pretty normal and generally good. I’m just afraid that those meals are enough to keep me from a pleasant weigh day on Friday.

I’ve been more consistent on the training this 10 days, so now I just need to get back on track with the food and I’ll be golden.

Just like the spaghetti squash I’m about to eat for dinner.

Sickness and Sabotage

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Unfortunately, I’ve been under the weather since Friday. I think it’s just a nasty cold: Sore throat, aching muscles, headache, etc. What that seems to equate to is being tired and unmotivated to do just about anything.

Especially to cook.

I believe I’ve successfully sabotaged all my hard work earlier in the week in just a few short days. Picking up quick lunches, having dinner delivered to the house, and massive quantities of crackers is not going to help me reach my goals.

Hopefully this sickness will go away in rather short order so that I feel up for cooking and exercising. I can’t go on like this – I feel so guilty when I eat things I know I shouldn’t be eating. Of course, the guilt doesn’t hit until afterward. At the time, it seems like a great idea to eat pizza and wings.

Feed a cold, right?

80 Days and Counting!

Monday, October 12th, 2009

We’re 20 days in and that makes it time for an all-around update on The Hot 100. Here goes:

Keep running! Man has this improved! My addendum to the initial goal of “be able to run 5-miles straight” has been helping immensely. The commitment to running 10 miles a week has really pushed me to get out there and run! I think the reason I wasn’t progressing very much before is because I wasn’t very consistent with my training.

Last week, I ran 11.91 miles! I went out four times: The 5k at the Zoo, then twice more on my own, and then some “gravy” running with J-Roc.

When I went out on Friday, I had to do 3.4 miles to meet my 10-mile goal for the week. I planned on doing my 3.44-mile route, but I accidentally ran an extra .27 miles – I couldn’t remember the route exactly and did an extra little loop. But since I didn’t know I was running extra, I pushed myself to run the whole thing, since I had previously been able to run “this route.” So basically, I tricked myself into a quarter-mile increase :) That makes my new longest run (without walking) 3.71 miles.

I’m amazed how much I’ve progressed in a short period of time. Consistency is key, my friends! I’m hoping to get up to a solid 4 miles (or more!) during this next 10-day period. Wish me luck!

Lose some more weight. This has improved as well. It’s a little complicated, because I do these updates every 10 days, and I weigh myself every 7, but I’m sure you can follow along. A week ago Friday I was at 177.5. That was bad. I’ve been putzing around for far too long, and the scale reflects that precisely. I’ve been bouncing around between 175.5 and 178.5 since the end of July. Unacceptable.

So, at the 90-Day Update, I recommitted to keeping track of my calories in and calories out, via My Food Diary. I’ve been pretty good about this, and have logged my food and exercise for 8 of the 10 days. Clearly not perfect, but I’m getting there.

It’s worked, too, as I knew it would. This past Friday I was back down to 175.5. I’ll be much happier when I break past that number and the scale stops laughing at me, but if I only compare this week to last, that’s a great number – down 2 pounds.

Even though I’ve been eating good, healthy things, I was getting too many calories for my age, weight and activity level – at least, too many if I want to lose weight. I think I’ve mastered the maintenance thing! Now that I’m logging my calories again, I can better gauge what I’m putting into my body.

Eat out less – cook more. This has been going very well, too! My birthday was in the last 10-day period and we went out to dinner that night, which added an extra restaurant meal to my regular schedule, but it was my birthday. And that’s all I have to say about that.

We’ve been cooking a lot, and healthy meals: Tuna steak marinated in rice vinegar with 7-grain pilaf; Turkey lasagna; Grilled chicken with brown rice and brussel sprouts, etc. Even when I eat out, I’ve been making good choices: Greek salad with the dressing on the side; sushi (mmmm…); chicken & broccoli with brown rice (no crispy noodles!).

I’m pleased with this. I just need to keep it going. That’s going to be tough with 2 sets of out-of-town visitors this week, but I’ve laid out a plan, and as long as everyone respects that (and I can stick to my guns…), I’ll be A-OK!

How are the rest of you doing on your Hot 100 goals? If you’re doing great – Excellent, keep up the good work! If you haven’t set a goal or made any progress toward that goal, there’s no time like the present – Make it a Hot 80!

Food Recommendation – Chocolate-Covered Banana

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Diana's Bananas – The World’s Best Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana

I know, I know – that doesn’t sound like a healthy food recommendation at all. And it’s definitely not steamed broccoli, but sometimes you need a little something sweet. On those occasions, allow me to suggest a dark chocolate-covered frozen banana!

I’m a bit obsessed with these. I never had them as a child, and the idea of a frozen banana sounded a bit odd to me at one time.

And then I watched Arrested Development (best. show. ever.) and after hearing about The Banana Stand so much, I felt compelled to try a chocolate-covered banana. Boy was I not disappointed!

The best I’ve found is by a company called Diana’s Bananas. They have two sizes: A full-size banana, and banana “babies,” which is half of a banana. I find the big one is totally unnecessary – stick to the half.

From Diana’s Bananas website: “Our team personally selects only fully ripe, creamy, sweet white bananas, which we quick freeze to -20 degrees fahrenheit. The result is an easy-to-bite banana with texture so smooth, you’ll think you’re eating ice cream.

After our quick freezing process, we dip the bananas in real bar chocolate (dark or milk, and some are dipped in nuts). We never use chocolate flavored coatings or other inferior substitutes. The world’s best bananas deserve real chocolate—you do, too!”

I’ve tried both the milk and dark chocolate versions. I know dark chocolate is better for you, but I’ve always preferred milk chocolate (or at least I used to). With the bananas, the dark chocolate was far superior. I’ve never had the ones with nuts – even though I’m sure it’s delicious – because I don’t want the extra calories.

Speaking of calories, one dark chocolate banana baby has 130 calories, and since it’s half a banana, about 60 of that is from the banana. That means only about 70 calories in the chocolate, and I can handle that every now and then. Diana’s Bananas brand is also all-natural, which is fabulous. If they aren’t carried in your grocery store, you can order them from their website.

Incidentally, I’ve tried the chocolate-covered bananas from Trader Joe’s and was not impressed. I don’t recommend those.

Our Products_ creamy bananas dipped in real bar chocolate | Diana_s Bananas