Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How my mile challenge compared to the first challenge

We did the mile challenge just 4 weeks ago, so any improvement would be a good improvement. The first time we took it, we were missing a team member to the flu, so we didn't get a team score, but three of us did the test, so we could compare our runs.

Now, I don't like to run and I don't like treadmills, but that's the test, so that's what we did. It was just a flat run, not with incline, etc. It was just to see our fastest time.

The first time I took the test, I ran for half a mile, walked fast for a quarter mile and then ran the last quarter mile. My running pace was a bit too fast. I think I had it set for 5.8 miles per hour and then walked at 4.5 and then ran at 5.6 at the end.

This time, I was shooting for under 11 minutes. I set the timer for 5.6 miles an hour and I was able to keep that pace. At .95 of a mile, I amped it up to 5.9 to eek out a bit faster time, but it would be an unsustainable pace if I had to keep going much more than that. I did a quick heart rate check just as I finished and it was 174. That might be my highest recorded ever, but I'm sure it went higher when we did the squat test on Monday (of which I'm not sore from, btw).

The pace of 5.6 was perfect. I felt challenged, but it was doable. I have no idea how long I could sustain it, but it was sustainable for that mile I needed to do. So, I got my mile in at 10:49.

Everyone in my team improved their time. One gal shaved 4 minutes off her time! From 20 minutes down to 16! Look at just one month of moderate effort can do for your ability level in fitness?

I know that pace is still incredibly slow, but it's better than what I've done before and that's a huge improvement! In 4 weeks I shaved 36 seconds off my time. Granted, that was probably mostly from pacing myself better so that I didn't need to stop and walk a bit, but better is better!

Now we are trying to decide if we want to do more sessions with our personal trainer once a week. I think it would be good for all of us and we all want to do it. I just need to talk it over with the budget man. The same budget man who works for the federal government and we don't know what is going to happen with all the budget cut mess. Furloughs... (lay offs) and for how long? Ugh... I know he's stressing out about it too as he hasn't been sleeping well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perspectives on fitness

Yesterday at the gym I met with my three teammates in the Biggest Winner challenge. It was our penultimate meeting and we were going to do two of the three post-tests. We were going to do the 2 minute squat challenge and the 45 pounds, 2 minute, bench press challenge.

While we were getting ready to start down in the free weight room, we got to see some truly dedicated athletes/body builders. There were two young men down there lifting weights. I see them every week at the same time. They are there mostly for bulking up - bigger upper body strength. They probably don't do cardio or run, just the weights to get bulked up.

Then there was a man there who is  HUGE, but in the athletic way. Not an ounce of fat on him.

Lastly, there was a young, petite woman who was throwing a kettle ball around and jumping up on high platforms and doing reverse pull-ups. She looked like these women here:

This second image could be her body... No, I think she had even more definition. She was probably no more than 5 feet tall and a hundred pounds, but she was solid muscle and what she could do with her body with seemingly no effort was amazing. Here we were, these four overweight middle aged and older women with pudgy tummies and relatively little strength while this woman could do amazing things.

Our trainer said she could be ready for Cirque de Solei. With a quick look at some images. Yep. She has that level of fitness and coordination:

It was such a funny dichotomy. As newbies at fitness and people who had spent years on their fitness. My group is always telling me how strong I am and powerful. Fortunately, I know that it's perspective. To them, who are older than me and at it for less time than me, it seems I'm strong and fit. For these people in the gym who already are super fit and trim? I look like a complete newbie dabbling at fitness.

Now, I have no desire to get to the fitness level of a professional athlete or even a professional personal trainer. I just want to be fit and healthy and to be able to maintain that fitness with a reasonable amount of effort. I would be perfectly happy to look like this:

And to put body fat percentages in perspective. Here's a woman with 25% body fat, 20% body fat and 15% body fat. My attainable ideal is 25%. Though I will never look this good.  I have age, saggy skin and stretch marks too:

The woman we saw yesterday was below 15% body fat - for sure.

But, how did we do yesterday with our post-tests? Well, the squat test was really telling. When we started I did 108 in 2 minutes which is actually quite good. All those months at bodypump have helped. The other gals did 50-60 as complete beginners. Yesterday I did 130 and they did about 80. So, we had all gained quite a bit in strength. I pushed myself so hard yesterday that I was breathing so heavy that my larynx was on fire afterwards and was irritated for the rest of the day. I don't think I've ever pushed myself to that level before. Interestingly, I'm not sore from those this morning. I guess it wasn't the number we did, but how fast we did them.

The bench press was only a sort of post-test. We had used the wrong weights the first time and one of our members was out with the flu. So, this was the first and only time we did the test with the right weight. I did 90 in 90 seconds. I ran out of steam/strength to complete the last 30 seconds. All of us ran out of steam before we ran out of time. We had 22, 50 and 50 and my 90. 

Other teams will blow us out of the water and that's OK. It's us comparing ourselves to where we were 6-7 weeks ago (depending on the test). Our last test is the 1 mile run/walk. I got 11:25 last time and had to walk a quarter mile (going too fast). My hope is to run it all this time and to get under 11 minutes. I haven't been practicing running, but I have been pushing myself at the gym, so we'll see. That test is Wednesday.

Now we are trying to decide if we want to continue with another 8 weeks for 2 times a week with a new challenge or to just hire our personal trainer for an additional 6 weeks at once a week. Pricing will be a big part of that decision for all of us.

OK... now off to clean my stinkpot of a house. Starting with more laundry. I just heard the washer bing.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spent the weekend perusing a cookbook calculating calories

Well, on my off time I did. I had other "duties" this weekend too - not just time to read a cookbook!

So,  I have this cookbook, The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking. 80 Low Carb Recipes that Offer Solutions for Celiac Disease, Diabetes and Weight Loss by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace.

I had mentioned it before, but this time I actually dove into the cookbook, figured out some nutritional stuff and tried my first recipe.

The recipe I tried was the blueberry pancake. I was making pancakes for everyone else, so I thought, "why not some for me?" I haven't eaten a pancake in over two years. The big test was also to see if I would get a sugar crash 2 or so hours later as I always get a sugar crash with regular pancakes and even whole grain pancakes.

First, the ease of making the recipes. One thing I like is that these recipes are basic. They aren't full of weird little ingredients. Well, maybe nut flour seems weird to non low-carbers, but it's a staple for those trying to keep carbs lower. They even tell you alternatives you can try. Since I'm doing low carb, I have gotten a lot of the nut flours and bean flours and they are pretty easy to make if I can't find them already ground. It's more expensive than wheat flour, of course, but wheat flour isn't an option.

The pancake recipe was almond meal/flour, hazelnut flour/meal, baking powder, soy milk (though I used regular milk), splenda (or the like), egg, vanilla and blueberries. That's it. Next time I'm going to take out the splenda and vanilla and put in a scoop of vanilla protein powder for more of a nutritional boost.

One complaint I have about the book is that there aren't any nutritional breakdowns. I can see that it's low carb by the ingredients, but how does it compare to other things?

Well, what I discovered of hours of computing different recipes from pizza crusts to muffins to cookies to pancakes is that calories wise it's about the same as traditional baked goods. A slice of cake, a muffin, a cookie, a pancake that is low carb and that is traditional flours came out about the same. They even have similar protein counts - depending on the recipe. These recipes just replace a lot of the carbs with fats.   And, maybe that's why they didn't configure the nutritional contents - people are still fat phobes. Though, most of this fat is from nuts which are the good fats, chock full of nutrients and way more satiating than white flour or even whole grain flour.

Anyway....let's compare blueberry pancakes.  Here's what a traditional blueberry pancake breaks down to nutritionally (6" diameter):

Calories: 170
Fat grams: 7
Carb grams: 22.3
Fiber grams:  0
Net Carbs: 22.3
Protein grams: 4.7

Here is what the low carb recipe with almond flour and hazelnut flour breaks down to for the same size/weight:

Calories: 161.3
Fat grams: 13
Carb grams: 7.8
Fiber grams: 2.8
Net carbs: 5
Protein grams: 5.84

If I were to take out the splenda and add muscle milk vanilla protein powder instead (replacing one for one):

Calories: 174.6
fat grams: 13.8
Carb grams: 7.1
Fiber grams: 3.1
Net carbs: 4
Protein grams: 8.1

Can you see where the big differences are? It's taking the carbs down and the fats up (and a more so on the protein if you take out the fake sugar and put in protein powder - which also has sweetener).

And, how did it turn out? And was I satiated from the homemade blueberry pancakes? It turned out great and, yep, they were filling. I ate 2.5 pancakes for breakfast with a few additional fresh blueberries. Now, could I have eaten more? Heck yes. I could have eaten 5 of these. Portion control is still important, of course. And, I should say, I never eat it with jam or such. If I had to put something on them, it would be a nut butter or a fresh fruit blended with plain yogurt, not syrup or jam. But this time I ate them plain at 9 am.

At 1 pm I was feeling hungry and I ate my protein bar and a handful (one serving) of nuts. That's all I had with me as I was out of the house. That held me until dinner at 6 pm when we had a nice salad and roasted fish.

In the past, pancakes at 9 am (for the same caloric amount) would have had me shaking by 10:30 am so that I would need to eat. I would eat another snack/meal then and would probably still need a lunch as my snack would probably be something sugary to fix the sugar low I was experiencing. It just becomes a vicious circle. So, in the end a pancake breakfast would have resulted in another 200-500 calories for the day.

Moral of the story? Some foods fill you up better than others and keep you full even those with the same caloric count. And those filling foods can taste really, really good!

What was really great was that my husband and older son really loved these pancakes. They preferred them to the plain old pancakes. So, next time, I'll make some more of these as they certainly could use less simple carbs too.

What I'm really excited about though is finding ways to have treats during traditional sweets times (holidays) that won't derail me. I want to be able to have a cookie without it causing me to get sugar spikes so that I then eat 5 cookies. It's not about self-control. It's about controlling the sugar so that I can control my cravings. And craving is too light of a word. That makes it appear mental. My sugar highs and lows are physiological. If I can stop that up and down cycle, then my weight should be able to stay more stable because I won't have to keep feeding the sugar demons.

I can't wait to try more recipes from the book now! And since they are chock full of nutrients, it might replace my go to bag of nuts or protein bar when I'm in a pinch.

And now... time for lunch!

Friday, February 22, 2013

What is the biggest issue? Obesity? or Lack of Fitness?

We all know that being overweight is bad for you. Your blood pressure goes up. Your cholesterol creeps up. You might start to have problems with your blood sugar levels. Plus, it's hard on your joints, affects your sleep, energy level, etc.

But which is it that is causing all that? The extra weight? or the lack of fitness which almost always accompanies obesity?

I keep seeing all this stuff about American's diet. Too much of this. Too much of that. Portions are huge. Food is too dense in calories, etc. It's all true. I'm not denying that, but...

Why do we not see much more about moving more? Getting off our butts? Why aren't there more recesses added to a kid's school day versus the fights over their school lunches? Or better gym programs? Or, here's a novel idea - Free physical activities for kids - free ballet, free soccer, free swim lessons, etc. Right now, all of that comes out of the parent's pockets to have their kids move/exercise.

Kids need to move. It would reduce the ADHD problems in schools too. Yet... recesses are getting shorter and school days are getting longer. Kids sit all day long. No one runs around the neighborhood any more. Hardly anyone walks or bikes to school any more either.

Skip to adulthood. Again, why do we always think about "I need to lose weight." "I'm getting fat." And not, "Man, I need to get in shape!" Sure, some people realize they need to work on their fitness, but most of the time people want to exercise to lose weight. If they didn't need to lose weight, they probably wouldn't think about fitness. The main reason they are exercising is to lose weight, not to get fit. Though, once they start getting fit, they might start to realize the benefits of it.

Why is that? Exercising regularly reduces stress, helps you sleep better, gives you energy AND it can reduce your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and help with your blood sugar levels. It can stave off all kinds of ills like osteoporosis.

Yet... even as adults we hear - eat low fat. Eat low sugar. Eat less. Ok. I can get on board with eat less, but why not start with - move more.

I look around me. I see a lot of thin people but are they healthy just because they are thin? Maybe. Maybe not. Will they be healthy well into their 80s? Maybe. Maybe not. My money is on the thinner person who is active. Then I would bet on the overweight person who is physically active and then the thinner, non-active person and all bets are off with an overweight, inactive person.  As a former member on a weight loss forum I frequent was told by his cardiologist, "Look around you X. How many old fat men do you see?"

And I can ask myself too as I look around my community. There are a lot of octogenarians in my area. A lot of them are really, really healthy. Want to know what else? They are also very, very active - golfing, walking, gardening, even tennis. Their inactive peers are in nursing homes or retirement homes, fading away.

My personal belief is that the biggest issue is fitness. And shock if you are more fit, you can control your weight better too!

Now how to convince everyone of that?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Not related to weight - but living with the in-law woes!

Oh my  freaking goodness.... I think my head might explode!

So... today my mother in law was supposed to have oral surgery - like completely under with IV to do a bone graft to prepare for an implant (long story of why it all needs to be done). That appt. was at 2 pm and would take until 4:30 pm. She's been a nervous wreck about it. We all are completely aware of it. It's a big deal.

But... she never plans or thinks anything through, ever. So, I made sure that my schedule was clear this afternoon so I could pick her up if needed as she just assumed she could drive home after being under anesthesia.  Hello? She's a doctor and she's been under anesthesia many times. It takes her awhile to come out of it and to function. Drive home? Ummm....

 AND I went to the store to get the makings for  chicken soup, got a couple bottles of Kefir, some cottage cheese, and more milk to make some pudding (Oetker brand). She, of course, hadn't thought about how eating might be difficult, of course.  In the past, what would happen is that AFTER the fact, she would get all irritated that I didn't have stuff all ready for her... because, you know, I'm always supposed to have soup in the freezer and soft foods available - like she always did. Yes, when she lived alone and no one else would eat the stuff set aside.

So, I start the soup and I'm halfway through the pudding and in walks my mother in law at 4:15 pm. Saying, "whoo-whoo" all cheery like. What?

Seems that at noon, while I was at the grocery store, her dentist's office called to tell her that the dentist was getting sick and he had to cancel. It's rescheduled for next week.

Now, I got home at 1 pm. I thought it was odd she was gone as she tends to get so nervous before any procedure (as would most people, including me), but then, she likes to be everywhere super early, so I thought maybe she just went in early. Well... I guess not!

She never called me to tell me it was cancelled. She didn't call anyone, including my husband. She didn't even leave a note at home. For real? She was supposed to have major oral surgery. A surgery she has been talking about for a month and she didn't think to tell anyone at home it was cancelled?

I think this pretty much proves, beyond a doubt, that she is incredibly self-centered.

So... I now have a huge pot of chicken soup on the stove. Which I will try to save a bunch of it for next week, I guess. Too bad my freezer is full already. And, I have three kinds of puddings made (as I knew the kids would want some too) and way too much kefir and cottage cheese, but that, at least, will still be good next week if she doesn't eat it all, but I'm sure she will. So, again next week we go through this all again.

The funniest part of it all? Three weeks ago my dentist cancelled due to the flu. I went in last week to start a crown (wearing a temporary) and to get a filling. Next Thursday I go in to get the crown, fill another tooth and get a tooth extraction. (Yes, my teeth suck!) This is the same day of my mother in law's new surgery. So, I guess we'll both be needing softer foods next week, but guess who's the one who needs to prepare for it all? Me, of course.

But good grief. I think I should get a saint award for not losing it today! At least she realized that yes, she should have called. She forgets that there is such thing as a phone... and um, pen and paper? And I think she thinks that her life doesn't affect anyone else's in the household. For real? That's the only explanation I can come up with that could explain how it didn't enter her brain that she should have let someone know of the surgery being cancelled. UGH!!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An interesting article

A college colleague posted this article on Facebook yesterday. Give it a read: The Worst Lies That Mainstream Nutrition Has Told You.

I read it and was going, "Uh-huh." "Yep." "I agree." for pretty much all of it. Then I went to read some of the comments and they are all over the place.

Now, I'm not going to say that this was a great article and that there isn't still some controversy out there, but more and more and more stuff is coming to light that the low fat, high carb diet (plus being sedentary) is what is doing us in and making us fatter. I'm curious how long it will take for it to become more mainstream.

And, through my own trials of losing weight and getting healthier, I've pretty much found that this way of eating that is the best for me. Though, it's not the gluten that gets me - but the simple carbs of any grains that get me. Although, perhaps gluten/wheat does affect my system somewhat is I do break out more, my gut behaves less efficiently, etc.

We have it in our heads that fats are bad and that eating saturated fats make our hearts unhealthy and our arteries clog. It's not that simple. If people moved more they would find they could eat whatever they wanted and would be in perfect health. That, and it is being shown that eating higher carb diets lead to higher cholesterol - bad cholesterol. It's not from eating a higher cholesterol diet.

When I was eating a high carb, low fat diet, my cholesterol level was around 200 and the breakdown was borderline bad. Now that I eat lower carb (under 100 net grams of carbs a day) with high fat and higher protein diet, my cholesterol is 170ish and with a great good/bad breakdown. My fasting blood sugar is way better. My blood pressure is way better and I feel way better. It's a combo of diet and exercise.

Carbs taste good, are easy and cheap. That is the big issue. It costs more to get a bigger piece of meat/dairy and lots of vegetables. It was cheaper when we ate a big side of rice or potatoes, a big portion of veggies and then a small portion of protein.

Although it wasn't my intention, but almost all of us in my family has lowered their carb intake with my diet. Since I'm the cook, I just make less of that fluff (and it is mostly fluff) and make more of the green stuff and proteins - adding in more nuts, soy, dairy, eggs and beans. AND adding in more fat - roasting vegetables in the oven with olive oil, or with a bit of chopped pancetta, etc. It tastes freaking fantastic and it's healthier. We are getting more nutrients and less fluffy stuff that only filled our stomachs and filled them temporarily. We have less need for snacking (which tends to be the unhealthy stuff too for most of us, right?)

Not all people are sensitive to sugars and simple carbs, but many of us are. That's another thing we need to get into our heads. We are all different and how and what we eat can be different too. If a person can eat a high carb diet with bread and rice and sweets and maintain their weight and have good blood results, then great. But many of us can't without getting into that craving sweets/carbs mode.  My mother in law has an incredible sweet tooth, but she can deal with it. For me? That would be a disaster to eat like that as it used to be and will be again if I ever go back to it. So, I've found another way to eat and it's what's mentioned in the article and boy, is it easier than ever to not overeat.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spinning class

Yes, it's true, I am competitive, but being competitive, not only with other people but myself means that I improve and improvement is what I'm after.  So, after today, I know what I can do, so next time I'll try to match it or do better. I hate, hate, hate, having to take it down a bit. I'm always trying to do just that tiny bit more. It's also why I like this class and this gym better. It's the only gym of the three that has computers on the bike to record what we did.

So, today in spin class I realized about halfway through class that the man just in front of me had a visible computer so I could see his numbers. I could also see he is a cyclist (has those cycling legs) and I could see he was pushing himself and sweating in class. I wanted to see how my effort compared to his.

About halfway through the class I  saw I was pretty close in watt-hours to his (like within 2 watt hours), so I wanted to try to push it to catch up. In the end, I couldn't and he outdid me by about 12 watt-hours (his 110.1 to my 98.6), but it is exactly 31 more watt-hours than I did last Tuesday where I thought I was pushing myself hard too. Having that rival number really made me take it up a couple notches to really, really push myself.

When we were on flats, I had a higher tension than he did. When we were on hills, we both had the same tension, but he could pedal a bit faster and maintain that speed - better than I could. But, it gave me a much better idea of my physical condition to have someone to compare to who I could see was quite fit. And you know what? I am not too bad! That still surprises me - not that I'm resting on my laurels. I want to do MORE!

I spoke to the instructor after class to get an idea of what the numbers means as they don't jive to things I see online for exertion/workout level. She said a good workout is mid-60s (which is about what I had last time). So, I really was pushing myself today with the 98.6. Online I'll see things like 150 watt-hours is a middling workout and 250 is basically impossible unless you are some extreme athlete. I cannot see how anyone could get over 150 on these bikes. But, I did find something on these green bikes that say that 70-100 is an average workout. Here's an article from Harvard and here's more on watt hours and biking here which even gives the world record.

I also don't understand and neither did the instructor, what the total watt hours number means for the class. Last Tuesday there were all 27 people in class. The total for the hour was 530 watt-hours. (or about. I didn't write it down). This week there was 24 people in the class and the total watt hours was 550.

Now, divide 550 by 24 bikes. That would mean that everyone had an average of 22.9 watt-hours. That can't possibly be right, so I don't get it. Here is the webpage that shows the watt-hours per class at the gym. Green Revolution bikes are kind of cool as we are putting our work to use!

As we were finishing up I took a quick peak at the people's computers around me; not to compete, but to get a better idea of what these numbers mean and how we get this 550 for a total output. Of the people around me, three were  pretty fit people - the cyclist guy was about my age and he had the 110.1. Another was about my age, then there was a man a quite a bit older, and then a getting fit woman next to me, again about my age. They all had numbers around 45-55 watt-hours. So, that 550 means what??? I'll figure it out as it has to mean something!

Interestingly, I don't think spinning class is a good indication of how well you can bike outside of the studio. I find biking extremely hard. I can't get up tough hills, etc. But maybe if I keep going, I can get it so that I'm not dying while pedaling around my community that is full of freaking hills!

And I know I worked hard. I was wiping sweat nonstop. When your hands drip sweat, you know you're really working it! And my face was red for an hour. Might still be, who knows!

But, workout for the day is in and the great things about spinning is that it doesn't aggravate that hamstring tendon, so I can really push it without worrying about injury!

Friday, February 15, 2013

I need to read up on refeeds

So, I was feeling super, duper lethargic on Wednesday. On Thursday, I ate quite a bit more - like at maintenance level. Nah, it was above maintenance and yesterday at maintenance level and now I feel great.  I also didn't exercise yesterday (had an appt. with a dentist in another state and I'm resting that knee a bit). Today? I'm full of energy and I can't wait to jump into class today at 10:45 am.

I think I needed a refeed. I needed a mini break to just eat some more so that I can dive back in. It had been 2 full weeks since I had eaten above maintenance. All other days I eat between 1250-1400 and exercise for an hour 5 days a week. That is supposedly creating about a 800 caloric deficit every day, approximately.

My body just said, "I'm tired dude. You need to give us more than that!" So, I did and now I'm ready to go. I've noticed that at other times too - a mini break in the eating department can do wonders for boosting the energy level, but it's finding that balance so that I can still create enough of a deficit at other times so that I can still get a decent loss for the month. Eating at or slightly above maintenance for 2-3 days a month should be doable.

Another way to do it would be to just eat a bit more every day, but I'm not hungry. Or at least I don't feel hungry. It just kind of gangs up on me all at once of "enough... FUEL!!!" Plus, the way my body loses - all weight loss for the month in 10 days of the 28 day cycle, it's hard to know what kind of deficit I'm really creating until the WHOOSH has passed and happened.

But I need to study up on refeeds. My body seems to need them.

With that said, now I'm off to get ready to Zumba! This is the class with the spitball of energy for an instructor. She is AWESOME and my heart gets racing. Good cardio - strength tomorrow if my knee feels up to it. Otherwise I might do a cardio/strength/toning lighter class until I can be sure this knee is OK.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's today and 3 great things that happened!

First, Happy Valentine's Day everyone. I was one to hate Valentine's Day in junior high, high school and college. Like really, really hate it. It was a day that could really shake your confidence in yourself. At least it did for me. Those flower sales in high school? Where friends would buy for friends? I would be so worried I would get ONE yellow flower (which meant the school bought you a flower so that you wouldn't be without a flower. That was worse than getting no flowers!) Now, that never happened to me, I always got a few flowers, but not the mounds of them so many people got. Boyfriend? I never had a boyfriend over Valentine's - ever. Not that I dated much, because I didn't, but man that holiday can bite.

So, it's ironic that Valentine's Day came to mean so much to me (and my husband). He and I started dating in January (long distance). It was the Valentine's Day weekend that I went to visit him, the first time we were together as a couple. It was so romantic and so wonderful and just happened to be over Valentine's Day. So, every Valentine's Day we have a special anniversary, making it our second biggest day of the year (after our marriage anniversary). Though, because it is such a huge holiday for couples, we usually go out a week or so later to avoid the crowds.

But, onto the 3 great things. One, while I was working with the personal trainer, she commented on seeing my hip bones poking up when we were working on the exercise balls. If you can see hip bones jutting up while working out, that means I can't have tons of flab covering them (and I don't).

Second, while I was at my son's school for his conference (which was excellent, btw), I ran into the two music teachers who are really good friends. I've been noticing they've been slowly shrinking the whole last year. I told them they looked great. The one teacher said, "Well, thanks! Between us we've lost 200 pounds. It was you who inspired us to just do it. We've been doing Weight Watchers."

Wow, me? I inspired them? That's awesome! And they do look great and you can tell they feel better too!

Then, a weird thing happened. I was catching up on Facebook after conferences, making dinner, making Valentine's cards with my younger son and Valentine's cookies. I was scrolling through and I see a photo from the gym's fitness page. It said something like, "Dawn is celebrating in her BodyPump class the Raven's Super Bowl win." I thought, "Wait, I was in that class!" And then I realize that this photo I'm staring at has my derriere as the central focus! It wasn't until I recognized my husband off to the side that I fully realized that in fact it was my backside.

It's not how I imagined I looked from any angle. Does anyone look at themselves from the backside in a full squat?

My next thought was, "Dang, I don't look half bad! I look strong, not fat!"

And then it started to sink in even more. My end weight, my goal weight, needs to be more flexible. I am healthy and look fine now. I still want to lose 10 more pounds, but that's it. At 175, after really evaluating everything, I'm calling it goal. Anything I can achieve below that is icing. I will continue to work on my fitness and eating a better diet, but I am not going to push hard to get to 160. I think I would like to make 165-175 my buffer zone. Ten pounds might be a lot for most people, but if I shoot for 170, that gives me 5 pounds of water weight to mess with. I can get that in one day depending on diet and hormones and pee it off the next day.

I don't need to achieve some perfection. I need to achieve fit and healthy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'm feeling tired

This big push of more exercise and less caloric intake is beginning to affect my energy level. I'm tired.

Yesterday around noon I took a quick nap (20 minutes) and I still slept 8 hours last night. This morning, after an 8 hour sleep, I just feel drained.

I hope I'm not getting sick, but I have no signs of getting sick - just lethargy.

But it makes sense. I'm eating 1300-1500 calories a day and exercise 5-6 times a week and when I exercise, I give it my all. My body is running at a big deficit and all the reserves are getting used up (probably are used up) and my body is burning fat (and muscle - though I'm trying to prevent as much muscle loss as possible with strength training and exercise).

This competition is only 2 more weeks, so I can keep it up as I'm not doing anything extreme. I'm only eating a tad less than I normally would and only working out at most one extra day a week than usually. It's just not how the body likes to work. It doesn't like to dip into reserves. It doesn't want to burn the stored fat, so it tries to slow everything else down so that it doesn't have to burn fat.

Darn stinking body! I wish I could send it a message that in fact we are not in a food shortage, it's just that it's storing TOO MUCH FAT and I want to decrease the stores, but promise not to let it get too hungry.

I really don't understand how anyone could do this long term and decrease caloric intake even more. I could never be anorexic. I cannot stand being hungry and I don't like feeling lethargic. Eat under 1200 calories a day? I can't even do it for a day, let alone weeks on end!

And today is weigh in day. I drank lemon water all afternoon and stayed away from carbs for dinner last night. I lost a pound of the water weight I was holding, but I still won't see a loss for this week and might even have a slight gain. As usual. Two weeks of loss. Two weeks of holding steady on the scale.

Update: I did see 3/4s of a pound lost on the scale. I think that's because I was still "whooshing" before weigh-in last week as the scale is definitely higher for me at home than it was last Friday (before TTOM and the great stall-out arrived).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stinking hormones and spinning class

I haven't stepped on the scale the last couple days because I knew it would be up from hormones. I was eating perfect, exercising, doing everything right, but hormones are raging with my monthly cycle.

Last night I stepped on the scale before going to bed. WHAT? I stepped on this morning, and while going down 3 lbs over night, I'm up 3 pounds since the last weigh in DESPITE eating at 1400-1450 each of those days and exercising those days too (only didn't exercise Sunday - as always).

I have a weigh-in tomorrow for this competition. I really would not like to see a gain on the scale, but there's not much I can do.

I tried to figure out what might have gotten my up 3 pounds and then realized I've had soup. It's homemade beef soup, but soup is naturally salty. I didn't add table salt to the soup (like everyone else did), but it was still probably saltier food than I usually eat. And I probably made it as my body was probably demanding salt and I didn't figure out, "Oh, if you eat soup, you are increasing your sodium level." Same thing with homemade salsa. These foods that are mostly really good for you, but they are high in sodium.

I guess today, for the rest of today I'll be drinking water with lemon juice to hope to drop this water weight by tomorrow's weigh-in at noon.

In other stuff, I figured out what was aggravating my knee. In the strength training class I do there is a back track. In that track we do a combination of upright rows, dead lifts, clean and presses and overhead lifts. I'm supposed to skip anything overhead for my shoulder (it aggravates that biceps head). So, instead, I've been doing more dead lifts and rows. Well, guess what, those aggravate the hamstring tendon. I have been doubling what is normally done and it's created an overuse injury. Duh! So, that means I should skip that entire track and do something else for awhile to allow my shoulder to recuperate and my hamstring recuperates. ugh...

This morning I took a spinning class and that didn't seem to aggravate my hamstring at all, so that's good. It seems the injury is minor, so it should heal quickly. Yay! I'm not a huge fan of spinning, but it was a good class today. I think I can handle taking it once a week and Tuesdays there is NO OTHER class I like, so it's a perfect fit. I wore my diaper (AKA biking shorts) and it went well. I had stored in my iphone the settings for the bikes at this gym, so I knew the best for me. Also I had put down what my watts per hour output was the first time I took the class at that gym (not the first time I took the class - this gym is the only one that has computerized bikes). I had 37.2 wattage hours on 11/28/11. This time I had 68.6. So, yes, I've definitely gotten stronger in the last year plus as I always give it my all in classes. Of course, every work out is not created equal, but that is a HUGE difference. Wish I would have written down the few other times I had take it too to see the progress, but least there is that!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I was thinking about what I would go hog wild on

I am following a pretty strict diet for these 8 weeks since I'm in this weight loss competition. I figure, why not give it my all for a short stint to jump start things again. It doesn't mean I don't ever have a little something. Yesterday for lunch I had a banana split - a small one for our Darwin Day observation on Sunday. It wasn't too bad of a lunch since it was a banana , fresh strawberries, fresh pineapple, a bit of whipped cream and one large scoop or frozen yogurt.  So, i do have occasional treats, but I account for them in my calories for the day. But all in all, I have kept my eating on plan and my calories fairly low. I try for around 1400.

But last night I was thinking about what I would eat if I would just cut loose. I was cooking up some bacon to break up into a salad - the rest for my teen for breakfasts. And I thought one splurge I would enjoy would be eating an entires pack of bacon. Man, I love bacon. But do you know what I really would want? An entire loaf of beer bread. It's buttery, a bit salty and then yummy fresh bread to accompany those favors. In the past I would have made it and ate it. Now I know it's a can of worms I don't need to open.

Then I realized that what I liked to eat too much of was rarely sweet stuff. It was salty and fatty stuff. Pringles, Cheetos, bread with salted butter, and the like. Then, to break up the salty, a bit of ice cream or something.  When I think what I used to t on a regular basis, it's actually a miracle that I didn't weight a hundred pounds more. I just didn't care about my body at all. I just wanted things and ate them because I wanted them. I would never think of feeding my children that way, so why was I feeding myself that way?

And why, even now, after over 2 years of this do I still think of eating that way if I could? Those old habits are just under the surface.

And a knee update. It still hurts, but it seems it's an "itis" of some sort - an overuse injury. I just need to ice it, take ibuprofen and not double up on workouts and take it easy on that joint. Sure! Which exercise is aggravating it I wonder?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

So, I've been trying to ignore this knee pain...

but, it's getting worse. Or, I should say, every time I stop babying it, it gets worse.  This past week I rested my knee on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday it felt a lot better and I had a good workout without aggravating it. (It's been hurting a bit for a couple weeks). I took Tuesday off and then I exercised Wednesday (twice), Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I had planned on working out today, but I'm really hobbling. I think doing squats on Saturday really aggravated it (again).

The pain is on the outer left knee in the back. It's quite isolated, it's a 3" long patch running along the outer back knee. Right now stairs are really painful as is standing up or sitting down. It's much worse this evening than it was this morning. It didn't bug me at all yesterday.

This is the second time it's gotten to this level of OUCH, but both times it was several hours (like over 24 hours) after working out. So, what's with that?

I have plans of working out tomorrow with the personal trainer and then doing spinning on Tuesday, with the PT again on Wednesday and perhaps weight lifting later in the day, and then aerobics on Thursday and Friday. Break days are typically Sundays.

But what the heck do I do with this darn knee pain? If it hurt me while I exercised, I would know to stop, but it doesn't start hurting until afterwards - quite a bit afterwards. I'm thinking it might be a type of tendonitis? And from what I can see from my amateur sleuthing is that perhaps it's actually the SAME problem I have with my shoulder - the biceps head. Good freaking grief! ugh!

Well, I'll see how it feels tomorrow. I finally broke down and took some ibuprofen as I had to take the stairs one at a time to keep from bending the left knee to minimize the pain.

I was pain free and injury free for nearly 18 months. What's with this now? My shoulder still gives me some discomfort (and probably always will) and now this freaking knee!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Got new workout gear

I bought a slew of workout stuff in April 2011. In the meantime I've gotten a couple things off clearance racks, but I didn't have enough. I practically live in workout attire with going to the gym 6 days a week year round.

All the tops I had were too big. They were XL. I'll never need smaller than a Large because of my shoulder size and my chest size, so getting things I like that fit (and if possible, on sale) would be nice.

In a couple of the classes and in working with the personal trainer, we are down on the floor and I would like my shirt to stay in place to not expose my midriff. Plus, well fitting fitness clothes make working out easier.

So, the other day I went to a local sporting goods store as they were having a big sale. And I did get some stuff, but I have to wonder at a lot of it. Who can wear these things? Well, OK teenagers maybe, but I see teens running for high school around my neighborhood and they are not wearing the likes of these:

They are SHORT. Like barely cover your bootie short. Even if I got all skinny, I couldn't wear these. Seriously, no way! And there were tons and tons of them in the store. I know they are running shorts, but gee whiz! You really would need to be thin with no jiggly parts to wear these.

I got a couple pair of these style - they hit just below the knee.

And then some dri-fit shirts like these:

 And no, not in this combination. I tried to be a little bright, but also tried to keep things so I could mix and match as these are a "wear once and that's it" kind of clothing item. That's another reason I needed more. I can't re-wear these because when I work out, I get gross and sweaty!

Lastly, I found on clearance a couple of golf skirts. I love wearing them for taking walks. They cover everything up, but are a bit dressy - same for bike riding.

It's kind of nice knowing what size I will settle at. I was THERE! Well, within 5 pounds of there anyway and I know what my body shape will be too.

I wore some of my new stuff on Friday to class. I don't quite like that you can see my soft squishy middle through the shirt (a lot of that is loose skin, a bit is fat), but wearing a correctly fitting shirt definitely made me look smaller and it worked better for wicking sweat - which is the whole point of those shirts anyway!

I told my husband though is that one thing I definitely notice as I lose this spare tire is that my boobs look bigger and it makes sense. The rest of my torso is shrinking, but my boobs are not. He said that is a good thing (my boobs looking bigger). Such a man. I see myself across the room in the mirror and all I see are boobs. Good grief! Oh well. Nothing I can do about that. Just means I can never buy those cute little tops that have the built in bras and as I get closer to goal, dress sizing becomes a bigger issue as my top and bottom size get out of sync. But... there could be worse things for sure.

Scale is down a wee bit too and that might be it for awhile as it is stall out time (probably).  184.6

Friday, February 8, 2013

The changes I see in the mirror and a big accomplishment!

From January 3rd to February 7th, about 5 weeks, I lost 12 pounds. About the first 4 of them were water weight and water weight alone while the rest has been hard worked for with diet and exercise.

My clothing size is the same and will be the same for another 10 or so pounds before these 10s start to feel loose and the 8s (in some brands and some styles) start to fit better. So, that's not different, but what I do see different is how my body is reflected in the mirror in clothes and out of clothes.

The last 30 pounds help me get rid of the spare tire around my middle. While I gain everywhere, it's the waistline that gets hit big time.

This morning I got dressed in a pair of pants and top I wore about 3 weeks ago. When I wore it then, I wasn't too happy at the bulge in the middle. Now that bulge is mostly gone. Another 10 pounds and it will be gone. The remaining pounds will probably just make my waist more and more defined.

I never imagined myself as an apple shape, but maybe as I'm getting older I am? Is that a perimenopause or menopause thing? More weight in the middle versus all over?

The good news about that is that I will notice the weight gain sooner and faster if the weight is put on in more concentrated areas. The downside is who likes to look like they are carrying an intertube around their waist?

The other thing I wanted to mention (well not mention but scream from the roof tops - or at least I wanted to last night) is that last night I was able to touch my toes! Not once, but several times!

When I took a hot bath last night, I got it in my head to try to see if I could touch my toes while I was in the tub. I put my feet up against the end of the tub, leaned over and with a bit of a push, I could just do it. I can't do it and hold it there, but I can graze my fingers against my toes for a second.

Then, when I got out of the tub, I tried to do it while standing and lo and behold I could do it then too! And before going to bed, I still could do it. WOW!

I tried this morning to show my husband and I'm not even close - like 3 inches from my toes, but that's because I'm not all stretched out and warm. I'm going to keep working on it as I know it's not good to be so tight and it just primes me for injury.

I was so excited about it last night though. I've never ever been able to touch my toes except one other time. I wasn't able to do it as a child, as a teen or any time as an adult except for one brief time about 15 years ago, the last time I really tried to work on my fitness. And now - I can do it now. Woohoo!

Means with a bit of work, I might be able to get to the point of touching my toes and holding it there. That would earn me a C in the presidential physical fitness test I always bombed in middle school!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Me? Fit? In my opinion, not yet.

I've been working with a personal trainer for the last several weeks with this Biggest Winner competition at the gym. It's helped me a lot with learning some new activities and it challenges me and it's fun (in a twisted sort of way).

Well, she has commented a couple of times that I'm fit. OK, maybe she's just used to working with beginners and I'm not a beginner, but fit? Me?

Then this morning I took a class that I have been taking fairly regularly the last month and that instructor asked me too, "you are fit, how did you find X" track? It's killer, isn't it?" Again... me? Fit?

I mentioned these to my husband and he just agreed with them. He said, "Well, you are fit."

Lastly, I'll be working with someone here locally to put together stuff about fitness in our county. She thought fitness would be a good topic for me as I work on my fitness. And again, I think? ME????

I guess, in my head, I'm not fit unless I can do certain things. Like, be able to do all the push-ups on my toes (in the correct form) in a workout routine. (I'm close, but I'm not there). I'll feel I'm fit if I can do a step class with double risers under the step, can do all the jumps/power stuff, for every song. (Again, I'm not quite there). I don't consider myself fit unless I can run 3 miles (or 5K) without stopping to walk and to be able to do it at a decent pace for me. I can a mile, but that's it.

I'm not there with any of that. I don't consider myself unfit, but I see how much further I can go without getting into the really fit category. I don't have visions of running half marathons or lifting huge amounts of weight, but I would like to be able to do things without feeling I'm going to die after 30 minutes of it.

I totally feel it's reasonable to be about the same fitness level as many of the fitness instructors at the gym. They are fit, but most aren't super, duper fit - just normal fit. I'm just trying to get there. Though my wardrobe makes me look like a fitness fanatic. I work out every day, so I'm wearing fitness clothes around the house most every day. I have to do a load of fitness clothes every week and I'm thinking I need more tops and bottoms too.

So, I would say, "I'm getting there, but I'm not fit 'yet'".

Scale is cooperating a bit too. Down a bit this morning to 185.2. Only 10 pounds to go to back down to 100 pounds lost overall from top weight and to where I was in that picture in the top right corner!

Editing to add: I still think "Fitness Fledgling" is still a good way to describe me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How eating times and amounts differ so much even within a family

I live in a household with a 7 year old, tall and stocky boy, a 16 year old tall and very thin, boy, me - 43 year old female - fairly fit and a bit overweight, my 46 year old trim and fit husband and my 77 unfit mother in law who is slightly overweight, but nothing excessive.

We eat breakfast and dinner together most days and I see or know what most everyone else eats through out the day as I'm the one who prepares all the food. I find it fascinating and puzzling at how differently we eat. In when we eat and in how much we eat. Bear with me as I write it all out:

  • My 7 year old boy is a BIG kid. He eats a good breakfast, a good lunch, an afternoon snack, a medium sized dinner and a small snack before bed.
  • My 16 year old nibbles on something at breakfast (if he eats) takes a protein bar for lunch, grabs a snack after school (smallish), eats a good sized dinner and then inhales the kitchen between 9:30 pm and 11 pm.
  • I eat 3 same sized meals throughout the day or a smaller breakfast to be able to eat a bigger dinner. I rarely grab a snack.
  • My husband eats a medium sized breakfast, a varying size lunch but usually small, small snack and a HUGE dinner and then a snack before bed.
  • My mother in law eats a big breakfast, a snack for a lunch (like an apple and a glass of milk, or a piece of bread with peanut butter) and then a smallish dinner.

So... I used to eat the same sized breakfast as my husband, a larger lunch as my husband and the same sized dinner only difference is that I didn't usually eat a snack after dinner and he almost always does. I figure he eats around 2600 calories a day. I probably used to eat around 2800-3400. (Scary thought!)

My mother in law eats so little and it has me wondering, "Do all old people eat so little?" or is she grabbing food at other times and hiding it? What  I see is that she eats about a 500 calorie breakfast, a 150-200 calorie lunch and a 300 or so calorie dinner. That means she eats around 1000 calories a day (or less). Can that be? She gains and loses the same 12 pounds. Slowly gains when she feels well, but a couple times a year she gets sick (either stomach troubles, or cold) and will just stop eating for a few days (but we force her to eat SOMETHING). I know she loves chocolate and stuff - maybe she is eating a chocolate bar every day or so too - she has to be eating more, right?

And then there is me. I eat about 1400 calories a day give or take a hundred either way. AND I exercise 5-6 times a week (gonna be 5 this week as I'm exhausted). I'm HOPING that will result in a decent loss this month, but I had a couple splurge days of around 2000 calories and the scale seems to be unbelievably stubborn in dropping pounds!

I look at how my younger son and I tend to be hungriest in the morning as does my mother in law. My husband eats a good breakfast I think mostly because he doesn't like to hassle with lunch at work. When he's home on weekend he tends to eat bigger lunches. My teenage son is a night owl all around because even his stomach doesn't wake up until the late afternoon. Getting him to eat in the morning is hopeless. We force him to take a protein bar for lunch which he only sometimes eats, but then at night, he eats about 75% of his calories.

I think what I am finding most fascinating is how I used to eat compared to how I eat now. I know I ate more than my husband, but when I see how much he eats for dinner, it seems like so much, but yet I know I used to eat the same sized meal as he did and my weight was pretty stable. So... if I want to weigh between 255-275, I can eat like that! Um, no.

What has me a bit worried is how little my mother-in-law eats. I wonder, "Is that all she is hungry for? Do old people really need to eat so little?" The idea of eating 1000 calories a day has me hungry just thinking about it. I struggle some days with trying to stay under 1400!

And I wonder if staying fit and active can keep my metabolism up a bit so that I won't have to eat such small meals as I age. Eating so little would mean a cookie splurge or the like would be close to have my daily caloric needs! Eek! With eating so little how can you possibly get all the nutrients you need?

Anyway... it's been interesting really paying attention to my family's eating patterns. We are definitely all different and I definitely used to eat way too much.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Had a freaking epiphany on maintenance goals!

First, let me say, I'm a bit of a "let's think about this a minute" kind of person.

I look at our behaviors and our history and try to learn from it. What I have gathered from that is a lot of the "experts" don't know jack squat and even those who do know something will say that there are artificial lines in the sand drawn for convenience.  And before experts, what did we do?

I thought about this a lot when I was pregnant. I got to thinking about feeding babies - by the clock or by hunger? Well, duh, we've only had clocks in our homes for a hundred or so years (for most people). You eat when you are hungry - not by what the clock says."

What about introducing solids? by the book of "6 months" (like we had precise calendars we followed until recently) or when the baby shows interest? Following that 'gut" meant that one son starting eating solids at 4.5 months and the other not until 11 months.

It can go on and on - how SHOULD we behave? What makes sense?

Well... all this time I've been tormenting myself with goal weights. By the charts and the books I should try weight between 122-162 depending on my frame size. Well, I have a large frame size and around 160 is "ideal". Since my teen years, doctors have said around 160. My doctor was happy with my weight when I was 168 and the other at 175.  My husband thinks 175 is reasonable to try to maintain without having to work so hard to maintain lower weights.

And my head couldn't quite let go of the "Well, the charts say." And even when I started to let go of the weight scale, I still was stuck on the body fat percentage range.

Well, to heck with the charts! When were charts invented? What was their intended purpose? What does it mean for me? Am I really all of sudden healthy if I weigh 160 versus 168? or if my body fat is 24% or 29%? Why are we slaves to the scale when people didn't even own scales until the 50s. Why did we all of a sudden decide "oh, I'm too fat" and based on what the scale said versus what our bodies and clothes were telling us?

We all have eyes. We can see if someone looks good or not - if they are pudgy or not, are fit, or not - sort of. Hard to tell if someone is skinny fat or a fit heavy person, but within reason we can see if we could stand to lose some weight.

A friend of mine uses her jeans/pants as a barometer to see if she needs to drop pounds or not. If the jeans start to feel snug, time to reel in the eating or up the exercise (or both) - allowing herself a 10-15 pound range of acceptable weight and not letting the scale determine if she is "OK" or not.

So, why do I feel like I'm copping out if I decide my maintenance range is higher than what the charts say it should be? Why do I believe the charts are designed to rule our lives when I don't feel they should in other things?

My eyes tell me that at my current weight 186, I have a bit of fluff, but not tons.  When I was 165 I felt pretty darn great. I did at 170 too. I work out 5-6 times a week with cardio and strength training. My resting heart rate is 58, my blood work is perfect. Why am I stuck in a "I need to weight no more than 160 to fit on the charts for being "OK"?

I know I keep talking about maintenance weight, but I'm needing to get my head around the idea of what is good for me as I've never maintained a weight in my life - ever. I was either gaining or losing at random with no thought to it. Well, I can't keep doing that as my habits were bad, but I think I need to get rid of this little bug in my head about reaching some perfection. Why do I impose these things on myself?

So... with this epiphany, I'm going to be more at peace with myself for letting the scale settle where it wants to settle with good eating and a good exercise regime. I know I'm not there yet, so I'll keep trying to lose a bit, but I'm going to be less hard on myself and this "perfection".

My idea recently was to reach the 25% body fat percentage to be considered "fit" on the charts. Well guess what? who says that someone who is 24% body fat is fit and someone who is 28% body fat is not? Again, who made up those scales and what do they really mean? How is that different than the weight scales? it's another head trap of "needing to be perfect". Well, screw that.

I will not be upset with myself if I end up weighing 165 pounds and have a 29% body fat (which is about what it was in mid-April). That is GREAT FOR ME and anyone who would look at me would agree - isn't that the better measure?

Monday, February 4, 2013

One Pound of Fat

Someone posted this on a weight loss forum today:
Hello! Do you know me? If you don't, then you should. I am a pound of fat. And I'm the happiest pound of fat you would ever want to meet.

Want to know why? It's because no one ever wants to lose me. I'm only one pound! Everyone wants to lose three pounds, five pounds, or fifteen pounds, but never only one. So, I just stick around and happily keep you fat. Then I add to myself, ever so slyly, so that you never seem to notice me. That is, until I've grown up to ten, twenty, or even more pounds in weight. Yes, it is fun being only one pound of fat, left to do as I please. So, when you weigh in, keep right on saying "Oh, I only lost one" (as if that were such a terrible thing!).

For you see, if you do this, you will encourage others to keep me around because they will think I'm not worth losing. And, I love being around you - your arms, your legs, your chin, your hips, and every part of you.

HAPPY DAYS!!! After all, I'm only one little pound.

~ Author Unknown

 And isn't it so true? When the weight goes up on the scale, I definitely remember, "Well, it's only one pound." When the scale goes down, I think, "Oh, it's only a pound!" And those little pounds do sneak up.

A pound a month is 12 pounds in a year. A 150 pound woman after just 5 years of gaining a pound a month will weigh 210 pounds.

But a pound a month is a lot, right? Well.... a bit more than a pound a month could be added quite simply by drinking two cups of whole milk a day (in coffee or with a meal) instead of skim milk. Close to 1.5 pounds a month could be added a month if a person started drinking regular (full sugar) soda instead of water. Or drinking a juice instead of water. We're not talking about huge changes in diet here.

Even those "once in awhile" treats add up. Here it is February 4th. In my family, we've already had 4 "once in awhile" days. We had leftovers from New Year's Eve, Orthodox Christmas, my husband's birthday, and the super bowl already. Just eating 750 more calories on those special days - equivalent to a piece of cake and a glass of wine would mean almost a pound in a month.

It is soooo easy to gain a pound. It actually amazes me that we ever burn more calories than we consume, especially with our sedentary lifestyles these days.

And a pound of fat isn't that much.  You can't see on your body a pound of fat. if you were to spread this all over your body, you wouldn't notice a thing. you would just be greasy!

But 5 lbs? Well, on most people you still wouldn't notice it unless you were really looking for it.

But when you get to ten pounds, that's when pants start to feel tight, faces start to puff up and most anyone can see the difference (if you are not very overweight already) - paper towel theory is always part of it.

Of course, we don't just lose fat like we pretend to imagine. We're more complicated than that. We lose water, we lose muscle and other 'stuff' as well when we lose weight, but just to keep things simple, we'll pretend it's just fat that we're losing and muscle that we want to remain.

So, from now on out, I want to remember - a pound is significant because it adds up fast. That 10 pounds of fat could be added just from extra nibbles of dinner, or a cookie here and there - it's that simple. More calories than you burn equals storing those calories on your body. A pound is easy enough to deal with - a few days of exercise and it's gone. 10 pounds takes a bit of work. (More on that tomorrow). So best just not to add that fat in the first place!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Exploring more options with this low grains/sugar diet

I cannot say that my diet is limited because I can eat anything if I want to, but I don't like how grains and sugar make me feel. For day to day meals it's easy to get around. Like last night I made roasted chicken, roasted brussel sprouts with minced pancetta and roasted beets (I ate just a wee bit of the beets).  It's something the entire family enjoys - including the 7 year old. Haven't tried roasted brussel sprouts? You might find you will love this much hated vegetable - it's just in knowing how to prepare it right!

Anyway... most meals I can substitute out things easily enough like quinoa for rice and so on, but there are some things I can't. Like breads, pastas, cakes, cookies, etc.

I am a baker. Well, I'm an all-round cook. I make everything from homemade yogurt to breads, cakes, roasts, great veggie dishes, etc. I just like to cook. But, I cannot eat a lot of what I cook. I make bread 2-3 times a week. I can't eat it.  I make some sort of cookie for the kids about once a week - I can't eat it. And there are times I really crave a buttered, toasted bagel, piled high with tomatoes, green peppers, pickles, avocado slices, swiss cheese, roasted ham or turkey (fresh made - not deli slices), and either sprouts or some lettuce. But I can't eat bread and feel good. I feel lethargic and I start to crave things. Plus, if I wanted to waste 200-300 calories, it wouldn't be on a bagel and those are wasted calories as I get almost nothing nutritionally from it!

So, I got to thinking. There are all these gluten free cookbooks now. There are people who have found ways to make good alternatives. Why not give that a try? So, I got this book: The Joy of Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Baking.

While I know that these treats will still be treats, they can at least be less nutritionally reprehensible and will keep me from craving crap. And while my family can eat that stuff no problem, who says they should be consuming so much refined sugars and flours?

Now, for the family, I won't use artificial sweeteners, but they could use more protein and fiber from the nut flours too.

I just wish these things weren't so expensive. Coconut flour is nearly $8 for a pound and almond flour is $10 a pound. Stevia and the like for sweeteners are expensive too. Sugar and white flour is cheap! Oh well, these will be for once in awhile, not as an every day part of my diet.

Maybe some people at our ethical society will be happy with my switching to more gluten free items too as we have someone allergic to wheat, someone else with Celiac's disease and another who is gluten intolerant and then add me who just blows up like a water balloon from it and then feels like crap afterwards.

I will try some of the breads first - or the pizza crust. Man, I would love a friendlier pizza!