Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meet the New Gym Rat in Town

Me! It was time for me to renew my Bally Total Fitness dues (I've been a lifetime member since the early 90's) but I only dragged myself to the gym 3 times after paying my dues last year so I wasn't sure I wanted to tie up the funds with something I obviously wouldn't take advantage of. A new gym opened up 3 minutes from my house (literally, I timed it) so I popped in there yesterday to see if I could get a deal that was similar in price to my annual Bally dues. The fellow was very pleasant, took me on a tour and was very agreeable to my haggling. For a few bucks more than my Bally dues I joined for a year with that price locked in for future years' renewals.

It's called Workout Anytime and it's a small gym with no frills, but I never used the frills at Bally so I won't miss them. They have a good selection of cardio machines, a great circuit of brand new weight training machines and free weights. Which I avoid because heavy things near my feet equal me with broken toes. I have an orientation on Monday to learn how to use all the weight machines. I just returned from my first official workout.

I always get up and head straight to the computer but instead, I threw on my sweats, ate some breakfast, grabbed my iPod and a bottle of water and I was off. I was back at the same time I usually come downstairs after surfing mindlessly for 45 minutes. Great use of the time and the location is so convenient. I did a 20 minute mile on the treadmill and 10 minutes, 3/4 mile on the elliptical trainer. I got a good sweat on and I didn't hate it.

I've only set one fitness goal and that is for consistency. Once I get over this block about exercise I have and get some consistency, I will set another goal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Review: The Volumetrics Eating Plan

The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories by Barbara Rolls

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great read! It's very close to the changes that I've made to my eating habits. Dr. Rolls stresses that feeling full is the key to healthy weight loss. She also makes it a point that this isn't a diet, that's it is a lifestyle change, something that can be sustained and maintained for the long term. I think she might be on to something.

She talks a lot about energy density, which is the amount of calories per gram a food contains. High fiber and/or high water content like vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes are considered low energy density. Foods high in fat are considered high energy density. Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that fat contains 9 calories/gram vs. carbs and protein which contain 4 calories/gram. What I learned from this book was that booze contains 7 calories/gram. Whoa! No wonder I've lost weight by cutting back on my beloved Chardonnay.

Dr. Rolls stresses the importance of eating a high volume/low energy density breakfast every day. This is great advice, something that I practice every day even though I've always tended to be a breakfast skipper (hence the fat ass.) She also stresses the importance of having a wide variety of foods as to avoid boredom and feeling deprived.

Making very-low and low energy density foods the majority of one's diet while having medium and high energy density foods in moderation will keep you full and satisfied on fewer calories and therefore losing weight while not having to count carbs or calories. This advice along with stressing the importance of increasing daily activity by wearing a pedometer and striving to add more steps each day makes for a really doable plan.

My only issue is that Dr. Rolls seems to be preaching "low fat, low fat, low fat!" While I'm trying to focus on good fat. Fat=flavor and fullness, that's why I only gave it 4 stars (I would have given 4 and 1/2 stars if there was the option.) Other than the fat picayune, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to lose weight without feeling deprived. Dr. Rolls book can definitely help with achieving a lifetime of healthy eating while enjoying delicious and filling foods.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm as Mad as Hell...

and I'm not going to take it anymore. OK, so I'm a bit of a drama queen, but I am pretty pissed right now. Mad at myself and mad at the Athenos company.

I never really cared much for hummus but it's a nutritious and convenient snack to have with baby carrots, so I decided to revisit it. I purchased a tub of Athenos cucumber and dill hummus last week and for whatever reason, I neglected to read the label. I guess I took for granted that hummus is supposed to be nutritious. I got the tub out with some baby carrots to have with my lunch and decided to check out the label. Well, I got the red-ass well and truly when I found that the stuff contains high fructose corn syrup. I'm completely gobsmacked as to why such a food as hummus would need to contain such garbage. All the other ingredients were so simple: chick peas, olive oil, cucumber, dill, salt. I just don't understand.

I'm not about to rally against all companies that use HFCS but for a company such as Athenos, who basically makes cheese, hummus and pita chips, I will make an exception. I wrote them an e-mail with my concerns and I'm not going to buy anything with their name on the label. I ask you to do the same, if possible.

I'm going to have to be more careful with labels from now on and hope that my mistake will be a reminder to you as well. HFCS has no place in a healthy lifestyle. If you need additional information about the dangers of HFCS, check out this article.

Resolutions Update

We're heading fast and furiously toward March so I thought it would be a good time to evaluate my progress on my resolutions.

1. Read and work the exercises in The 4-Day Win.

I dusted the book off and I'm about 8 chapters in. It's got some good information in it and it's quite funny. I got a bit ADD when two books I put a hold on came available at the library so I switched over and almost finished The Volumetrics Eating Plan by Barbara Rolls, PhD. This is a very good book, it's pretty close to the changes I've made to my eating habits. If you haven't read it, it's definitely worth picking up. The other book is The Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello. I became interested in this reading this book when I read about it in Prevention mag. It stresses the importance of eating monounsaturated fatty acids for healthy and weight loss. I'm going to read a bit more of The 4-Day Win and then get into the flat belly book. Watch this space for upcoming book reviews.

2. Get out my Yoga book and start practicing.

I've made it up to day 3. Woohoo! It's a start but it needs work. I definitely have to work for some consistency with my fitness plan. I haven't figured that out yet, but it's in the forefront of my mind these days.

3. Learn to make homemade vegetable stock. Try new, healthy recipes and make over old favorites to fit my healthy life.

I've not made the stock yet, but I found a fantastic recipe in the Bittman book on making vegetable stock. He roasts his veggies before making them into stock and I love that idea. I love to cook and I'm still trying new, healthy recipes. I think I have the food thing down pretty well and I'm going to keep cooking up delicious and nutritious things. It's the only way to go.

4. Eat a more plant based diet.

I picked up a copy of Vegetarian Times (if you haven't noticed, I'm a total magazine addict) and tried a couple of recipes. Rob didn't notice that we weren't eating meat on those nights so it's a great start to eating a bit less meat. I'm cooking a vegetarian Indian meal (palak paneer and dal and perhaps chickpea curry) on Saturday night that I'm really looking forward to. I also bought a used copy of The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home which I'm going to delve into in the coming weeks. I recently joined a CSA, I pick up my first order tomorrow. I'll post a review with some links after I try out some of the goodies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Get Enough Sleep!

It seems like getting enough sleep can help you lose weight. Sounds hokey but I recently read an article in Glamour magazine (don't judge me) about a study where they asked a group of women to do nothing but get enough sleep (a minimum of 7.5 hours, going to bed and waking at a similar time every night) for a month. They were told not to do anything other than that, no changes in diet or exercise habits just sleep and the participants reported losses of up to 15 pounds. That's pretty impressive.

This has to do with regulating hormones, this article from Web MD explains it more detail. Leptin signals our brain when our bellies are full, ghrelin, on the other hand tells us we're hungry. Lack of sleep sends leptin down and ghrelin up so we tend to eat more when we're tired/sleepy.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Not getting adequate sleep happens less now that I'm eating better but when work is especially stressful it does effect how well I sleep. When I'm feeling tired, I get that snacky feeling especially in the evening. Getting enough sleep has become a priority for me and now I have more of an incentive to make sure I get my 8 hours.

So, how many hours of good quality sleep do you get at night?

Monday Weigh-In

Remind me to never book a shift on Oscar Night, I recorded it but it's not the same as watching it live. Small consolation, I made it home just in time to see Kate Winslet win her first Oscar. Congratulations, Kate! And congratulations to My Indian name was Pressure-Per-Square-Inch, who is the winner of the Portion Teller plan book giveaway. Please leave a comment to this post with your mailing address so I can get your book out to you. I won't publish the comment so your information will be kept private.

It's been kind of a soul-sucking weekend, I'm thrilled it's over and now I can catch up on my reading and rest and spend some time doing things to rejuvenate my mind, body and soul. This morning's weigh-in was a great way to start my days off: 230.5 pounds/2 pounds down/46.5 pounds total. I'm getting close to 229 which is my next milestone goal. Maybe next week!

It's Monday, which means it's time for laundry. I love doing laundry, how soft and warm everything feels when it comes out of the dryer and how fresh it makes the house smell. I hope you all have a soft, warm and rejuvenating Monday!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quick Reminder

Don't forget to leave your comments to this post if you're interested in winning the book, The Portion Teller Plan. I'm going to announce the winner at Monday's weigh in. The chances of winning are pretty good at the moment with just 3 people in the running.

I hope everyone has had a safe and healthy week. I'm feeling tired, this week has felt longer than usual and I have to work this weekend, so I won't be around. I have a few days off next week, though, so I can catch up on posts. I want to do a resolutions update and talk about the two books I picked up at the library today.

See you at the weigh-in and I wish you all a fun and rejuvenating weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Staying Hydrated

I've always been a water drinker. Ever since I read in Seventeen magazine about what feels like a hundred years ago, that drinking lots of water would give me glowing, model skin I've taken water pretty seriously. Speaking of Seventeen, remember when Whitney Houston was all over that magazine? I wish I had my old copies saved, that would be a fun trip down memory lane.

I have a tap-mounted PuR water filter that I find so handy so I have no trouble getting at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. I also count herbal tea/tisane toward that total. I don't count juice, hooch or anything carbonate/caffeinated toward my fluid consumption.

Staying hydrated is essential to good health. Eating a high fiber diet sans enough water can lead to constipation. Water is essential for the absorption of vitamins and minerals that we take in through the eating of healthy foods. Proper amounts of water help the liver and kidneys keep the body free of toxins. Water can cut down on headaches and back pain which can be a sign of dehydration. Trying to lose weight? Sometimes hunger is thirst in disguise, so taking in a cup of herbal tea or a nice glass of cool water can help keep us from eating when we really aren't hungry and water is needed for the metabolism of fat. Drinking plenty of water after exercising can help cut down on lactic acid buildup which leads to muscle soreness. And yes, drinking enough water keeps skin moist and healthy.

I've heard the argument that drinking too much water will make you spend all day in the bathroom. This can be true to a certain extent. If you're not getting adequate fluids and start adding more water into your daily routine, you will notice that you'll be hitting the loo more often. But once you reach and maintain your water-intake goals, you body will adjust and it will no longer be an issue.

Some people complain about not liking the taste of water. I don't think good quality, pure water has a taste, so I never really got that one. Try flavoring water with orange, lemon, lime, cucumber, fresh mint or watermelon. Just fill a pitcher with water and add any or all of the aforementioned goodies and pop it in the fridge. Cheers!

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Closet Fun

I've had more fun playing and shopping in my closet this past few weeks than I've had in a very long time. I pulled out the pants that I'm wearing in the godawful Dame Edna face photo that graces the top of the blog and had a rush of joy when I realized that I can pull them on and off without undoing the fly. :D They've been relegated to the "fat bag" and I say good riddance.

I still have the jeans that I wore the day I met my husband. I'm nothing if I'm not a sentimental pack rat. They are lightweight and super soft, perfect for early spring and they fit me again! I very much look forward to wearing them.

Seeing the weight drop on the scale is great but I have lots of lumps and bumps and jiggles and stretch marks and weighing in on a Monday morning stark naked doesn't do much for the ego even though the numbers are going in the right direction. Clearing out fat clothes and fitting into pretty, smaller clothes that have been mocking me in my closet for years is quite satisfying and has gone a long way to start helping me to see my body in a new light.

Monday Weigh-In

Let's get right to it, down 1.5 pounds to 233.5. I'm getting very close to a big milestone for me. I haven't been less than 230 pounds in 10 years and I'm really looking forward to getting to 229. I logged in almost 5 miles of walking last week and enjoyed Beef Wellington and chocolate on Saturday evening so it's been a great week.

Don't forget to leave your comments to last evening's post if you're interested in winning the Portion Teller Plan book.

I'm off and running. It's Monday, which means Publix, laundry, cleaning down the kitchen and dropping my vacuum off at the Oreck store for repair. Why does that have to happen when the bedroom carpet looks like the day after Mardi Gras?

I hope your Monday is sunny and light on stress.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

First Ever Give-Away!

Other bloggers do it, so I thought it might be fun. I recently posted my book review of The Portion Teller Plan, by Lisa R. Young. The book is in near-perfect, read once condition, so I'd love to pass it on.

If you're interested in reading the book, make a comment to this post by next Sunday with your best tool for not overeating. I'll randomly choose a winner at next Monday's weigh-in.

I hope you've all had a beautiful weekend. See you tomorrow for the weigh-in!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Try Something New: Turmeric

I admit to getting a bit steamed when someone says they don't like Indian food because they don't like the flavor of "curry powder." I don't think curry powder turns up even once as an ingredient in any Indian recipe I've ever seen or made. Curry (kari in the southern Indian language Tamil) simply means sauce . I love Indian food, I mean really love. I'm making Murgh Makhani with brown basmati rice flavored with cardamom, saffron and turmeric this evening. The chicken has been marinating over night and we're really looking forward to it.

Turmeric is bright, bold yellow and smells really warm and earthy. It tastes slightly peppery and very pleasant. I love how it makes the rice such a gorgeous color. It makes me forget I'm eating brown rice. And it's not just for Indian food, you'll find turmeric used in Morroccan cuisine as well as Spanish, Thai and Middle Eastern. You can even add it to chicken and egg salad to plus the flavor and nutrition of everyday lunch fare.

I've been reading a lot about the health benefits of turmeric recently which has prompted me to get out my Indian cookbook more often. One benefit that really piqued my interest is that the incidence of Alzheimer's disease in the elderly population in India is very low. Scientific studies show that that the active compound curcumin slowed the progression of the disease in mice but still have yet to figure out why. Working in nursing homes for the past 15 years, I've seen the disease all too often to take this information lightly.

The list of other health benefits of turmeric is massive. World's Healthiest Foods has all the details. Give it a read and then get your turmeric out and start cooking.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Try Something New: Kumquats

Such a funny name for such a lovely little gem of a fruit. I had never tried a kumquat up until a few nights ago. One of our resident's daughters brought in a few of baggies bursting with the vibrantly colored fruits to share with the nursing staff. No one would try them except me. I'm sure that's a shocker. I could not believe how sweet and tangy the soft peel tasted and how luscious and sour the interior flesh was. I was delighted and took one of the little bags home with me since no one else seemed interested.

I'm going to enjoy my little baggie of kumquats and will definitely be purchasing them again in the future. I think they'll make a really fun summer dessert. If you want to read more about the kumquat, check this out. With the lingering aftertaste of jujyfruits, raisins have stiff competition for the title of "nature's candy!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Book Review: The Portion Teller Plan

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a good read for anyone who would like to learn about sensible portion control and not have to count calories, carbs or points. Lisa Young has provided a fantastic in-depth time line about how the portions of food in America has exploded over the past 40 years and how our guts and butts have expanded because of it.

It's a fast, easy read with some repetitive information but many useful nuggets. I really like the "eyeball" method she details because I don't like to measure or count anything. I also like her approach that no foods should be off limits (other than poison like HFCS and the like) so that you never feel deprived. This is a key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Her statements like "Diets don't work" and "No one ever got fat from eating too many carrots" echo my own thoughts about sensible eating and weight loss. Definitely worth a read!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The News About Splenda Keeps Getting Better

Chairman of Citizens for Health Declares FDA Should Review Approval of Splenda

If you're like me and trying to eat clean and healthy and limit sugars and processed foods, you'll want to read the article linked above. According to the finds of a recent study, Splenda kills off beneficial gut bacteria (which is essential to a healthy immune system) and to paraphrase a quote in the article, taking in Splenda is like ingesting pesticide.

I avoid Splenda and aspartame like the plague and reading articles like this makes me all the happier about it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday Weigh-In

Woohoo! 234, another 2 pounds down and 43 pounds gone. It must have been that walk with Lisa on Friday. I really didn't have the energy for it in the first place so it really took it out me, I was out of commission for the rest of the day but it's probably the reason that I had another loss. I need to keep that momentum going.

I have to run, it's a super busy Monday. I've already been to food shop, put everything away, emptied the dishwasher, juiced. I have to clean the juicer and get in the shower, I'm heading out to Trader Joe's for my monthly splurge and then it's to Bonehead's for lunch with Donna before we head to the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Will Call event at Whole Foods in Roswell.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

If Joan Jett Were a Carrot...

I've often wondered why carrots have a bad reputation. They are a staple in my fridge. They go into my juice every morning, I eat them for snacks almost every day. They are an excellent vehicle for getting tasty dips to mouth and try making a soup, stew or Bolognese sauce taste delicious without them.

Despite having a seemingly high glycemic index, carrots actually have a low glycemic load. Harvard's Women's Health Watch, June 2001 describes the difference between GI and GL.

  • A GI value tells you only how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar. It doesn't tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You would need to know both things to understand a food's effect on blood sugar. That is where GL comes in. The carbohydrate in a carrot, for example, has a high GI. But there isn't a lot of it, so a carrot's glycemic load is relatively low. Calculating GL allows researchers to better relate carbohydrate intake to its health effects.

Not only are carrots *not* super carby, the beta-carotene can actually help reduce the risk of getting diabetes. Carrots are full of fiber and anti-oxidants. The list of the health benefits of carrots is a mile long. Let's see, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of certain types of cancer, they promote eye health, lung health, colon health. And as Alton Brown might say, they are just plain good eats.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The F Word

Yes, it's this old chestnut again, the F stands for fitness. I've really struggled this last two weeks, not exercising has made me feel logy and feeling logy saps my desire to exercise. It's an ugly cycle and I'm not happy about it. I know that I'll start to lose muscle if I don't get my arse moving and get some strength training in. I also know that the pounds that have been falling off so nicely up until now will want to stick around a bit longer.

I'm not sure what it's going to take to get over this hurdle. I'm thinking it is time to get out the Beck book, start reading and make fitness the goal as I work the exercises in the book.

I have a score to settle.

Exercise 1, Me 0

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Try Something New: Turnip Greens

I've never been a fan of greens other than spinach and broccoli rabe until I moved to the South. Something about living in the South makes you want to try greens, all kinds of greens. I've tried them and I like them, collards, chard, mustard, kale, turnip. They are great in soups, slow cooked with vinegar and ham, quickly sauteed with garlic, and my absolute favorite way, CREAMED!

After trying all manner of greens, I've realized that turnip greens are my favorite. They are fairly mild in flavor and just delicious. They are a mainstay for my morning juice because they pack a nutritional punch without adding any of that bitter cabbage-y funk that some of the other greens do.

This Creamed Turnip Greens recipe from Southern Living is one of my favorites. I serve it along side grilled sirloin and roasted asparagus. Add a glass of lovely fat Shiraz and you have yourself a special Saturday night steakhouse style meal. I've tried this recipe different ways to lighten it up. I've used fresh greens and frozen. Frozen is great for convenience but Glory Foods fresh turnip greens that are already cleaned, trimmed and chopped work well, too. I use olive oil instead of butter and add lots of crushed red pepper to the oil as it's heating up. I add a big splash of red wine vinegar with the chicken stock. I use Neufch√Ętel cheese instead of full fat cream cheese and it does not need the milk or the flour to come out creamy and fabulously flavorful.

Click here for a list of links for recipes using turnip greens. Give them a try! The deliciousness to nutritiousness ratio is about as good as it gets.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Weigh-In

Despite not being a football fan, I almost always watch the Super Bowl. Jennifer Hudson's performance was a highlight. Her voice is so moving and she looked wonderful despite her recent family tragedy. Congrats to the Steelers, they definitely earned that win but seeing the Jason Statham Audi ad and the Vin Deisel movie trailer made the night for me. And even though I'm done with junk food, the Doritos crystal ball ad was the funniest I've ever seen.

Will weigh-in Monday be a victory for me? 236 pounds, so yes! That's down another 2.5 pounds, 41 pounds gone. My too-big clothing bag is getting fuller by the week. I have a whole section of lovely spring and summer items that fit me for about 5 minutes, so they are like new. Pretty pastel shirts in size 18-20, flowy skirts and cute skorts to match. For the first time in like forever, I'm so ready to be done with winter, bring on spring!