Wednesday, July 25, 2012
It's been a while since I've posted. Been a hectic few months. I've been training, working on getting my Commercial Driver's License (CDL), Class A, so I can drive the big rigs.
During training I observed practically everyone eating the SAD (Standard American Diet). Mostly all the truckers and trainers I've met have been overweight and many of them obese. I think it's more challenging in the trucking industry because it takes even more discipline to stick to your guns and eat what's right, not what's easy.
The last four weeks, instead of going to Wendy's or McD's or Burger King with the gang, I opted to take a cooler to school every day and eat the foods that helped me achieve my 40+ pound weight loss, which I've been maintaining since December. The guys made fun of me and said I was eating "bird seed" for lunch. LOL. But I didn't cave in to the pressure to conform. And yes I cheated here and there, but when all was said and done I have only gained a pound in the last month, my BMI is still well within the healthy range. And now I plan on losing that pound before I gain any more. I'm taking no prisoners when it comes to my diet!
Over the last year I've taken a hard line with many folks here and elsewhere about choosing the correct foods and making the tough choices. But it's not just talk; I've been leading by example. I hope that when I'm on the road, trucking through this country, that I can help more people realize that they don't have to be held captive to the marketing scheme that is called the SAD.
Healthy diet. Just do it.
PS: Here's a shot of yours truly on graduation day. FYI no, my gut didn't grow, the shirt I'm wearing just makes me look fat. LOL.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
I'm no expert on dieting and I'm not a certified nutritionist. But I can promise you that I've **extensively researched** dieting and a healthy eating lifestyle for a year, and I've found what really works, and not just for me. It's true that I dropped 40+ pounds in six months, and I've been maintaining a healthy BMI since December 2011.
What else is true is this: If you follow my suggestions below you'll see the results you desire and you'll be glad you did.
This information is written for the person that tracks their foods using a tracker such as SparkPeople. Tracking your foods eliminates guesswork and is a proven strategy for weight loss/maintenance.
All of my suggestions are backed up with studies. I could have easily have provided references, but I figure that if you're really serious about achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, then you'll get serious about Googling these topics for more information! When you learn the truth for yourself, THEN you'll put them into action!
- Intake high fiber (30 grams or more). Fiber lowers cholesterol, absorbs saturated fat, but most importantly helps prevent hunger.
- Intake high protein (at least 100 grams). Protein helps keep you fuller for longer.
- Keep sodium levels as low as possible. Do everything in your power to keep sodium at 2400 mg. or less per day. Sodium throws a monkey wrench into your weight loss efforts!
- Eliminate all sugar, cookies, cake, etc. etc. etc. If you must sweeten your oats or homemade tea try using stevia. I use SweetLeaf brand. It has no detectable aftertaste and actually contains a healthy pre-biotic.
- Eat yogurt (low carb.) as much as possible, preferably daily. Besides being a good calcium and protein source, yogurt contains probiotics which are healthy for your gut so it helps with weight loss efforts.
- Try to eat a sweet potato every day. It's packed with fiber and potassium. It's filling, low glycemic (complex carbohydrates), and it's packed with more antioxidants than blueberries. It's a "superfood" that will greatly help your weight loss efforts. Hard to believe? Google "Sweet potatoes and weight loss".
- Try to eliminate "whites" as much as possible. White pasta, white bread, etc. Go for the whole grains.
- Most people find it impossible to meet the minimum 3500 mg of Potassium per day. If you want to eliminate this problem, achieving more than you need without coming at the cost of taking in excessive calories, do yourself a favor and see my one-of-it's-kind high potassium-low calories foods list here:
- Intake 84 ounces (or more) of cold water per day. Forget SP's recommendation of 64 ounces; you're trying to lose weight and that's not enough. Water flushes your system as well as keeping hunger at bay.
- Drink Green Tea! It contains catechins which help burn fat, and even more importantly the more you drink the less hungry you'll feel. Be smart and brew your own. Tips for home-brewing tea here:
- Don't drink "diet" drinks that are sweetened with aspartame, etc. They will hamper your weight loss efforts, not help you, and they are potentially dangerous (I've seen enough evidence that show they are indeed dangerous but I'll leave that call up to you)
- Take Fish Oil supplements every day, 3000-5000 mg/day for weight loss, 2000 mg/day for maintenance. Fish Oil reduces insulin levels by as much as 50% making your weight loss efforts easier.
- Take chromium every day, 400 mcg. A good form is chromium nicotinate glycinate which is chelated and bioavailable. Chromium increases insulin sensitivity and therefore makes your weight loss efforts easier. Plus it helps prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
- Take a magnesium supplement every day. Magnesium Citrate is a good form (bioavailable). Most Americans are deficient of Mg, and studies show that deficiency is linked to heart attacks, low energy, and sleeping disorder. Magnesium will boost your energy and will improve your workouts. The current RDA of 420 mg/day is probably too low. Shoot for 500 mg/day.
This subject is so important I'll provide this link for reference:
- (optional) If you want to pull out the stops and really boost your losses quickly, try "Capsimax" which is a cayenne pepper extract that helps to burn calories. It also keeps hunger at bay. Swanson Vitamins offers a good, discounted generic brand which is just as effective as the national brand (which is almost double the price).
- Get 8 hours of sleep per night. Studies show that adequate sleep is needed while trying to lose weight.
- *When* you hit a plateau, cycle your calories (zig-zag) to bust it:
Monday, June 04, 2012
I picked a date this last December as the declared start date for weight maintenance. I achieved a goal weight which wound up *much lower* than my original target weight, set in July 2011. December was a good place to draw the line, a little over 40 pounds lost and a good spot to declare "official weight maintenance has begun". Originally I had hoped to lose 30 pounds.
I've never really focused on maintenance before and to say I've been apprehensive is an understatement. But it's been easier than I thought. Continuing to eat clean and getting vigorous exercise has kept the weight off. In fact, I'm still losing slightly from what the scale is indicating, although it's a very small amount.
So how am I "halfway" into maintaining my weight loss?
Well, in November of this year, I'll hopefully have kept 30 pounds or more off, for over a year. Then I can join the National Weight Control Registry
www.nwcr.ws/ I'm not sure why, but I find that joining this registry is very motivating. But when I join I plan to be having kept 40 pounds off for a year, not 30.
Besides feeling better about my looks and overall health, I've also been motivated recently by feeling ENERGIZED. When I first started exercising again with the goal of taking the weight off, it was exhausting. Physical endurance which had once been my mainstay had long since dissolved away. I was tired all the time just from the exercise. Recently however the workouts have been ramped up in intensity, duration, and frequency. And instead of feeling tired all the time, I feel really good after my workouts, with hardly any soreness. And the next day, instead of feeling tired or sore, I'm starting to feel like I haven't even exercised the day before.
This is an achievement, one that I can't say I've ever experienced before.
Without a doubt, the nutritional tracker is what's facilitating this success. It's my nutritionist, planning a good diet that can be utilized just as any athlete would for training. There's no guessing about what I'm eating or why I'm eating certain foods and staying away from others.
I've read time and again from many people that "Maintenance is harder than losing it". But I'm eating more calories than when I was losing weight, I'm enjoying exercise more and have better endurance, and the weight continues to come off even though I'm not really either trying nor concerned about it.
So I'm not finding maintenance difficult at all. Anymore.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
If you enjoy making your own, healthy iced tea, you'll want to read this. I'm going to share my secrets to making the best brewed iced tea you've ever had.
Here are the necessary things that go into great iced tea:
Use filtered water, not tap. If you don't have a home filtration unit, store bought spring water will do just fine. Reason: You don't want any off flavors introduced into your tea.
And for your iced cubes, make sure you're using filtered/spring water for the brewing step below.
My favorite brand is Luzianne Iced Tea bags. Reason: Buying a brand specifically blended for iced tea does indeed make a difference. I'm not sure why, but I've never been able to achieve great iced tea using regular (hot) tea blends.
An Iced Tea Maker is an absolute necessity. Reason: This will heat the water to 170F and not to boiling (212F). Have you ever tried plain water after it's been boiled? You'll notice it "tastes funny". Flat sort of. Since you want your iced tea to soar with flavor, you don't want to use a big old pot and boil all of your water, the way mammas did in the past. Using a maker not only doesn't boil the water, but you are only heating a portion of water in order to extract the flavor from the bags, then it's combined with regular spring water which has not been heated.
Why do iced tea makers make the best tasting tea? Because:
1) You're not boiling water, and you're only heating some of the water, the rest is natural.
2) The extracted tea water is instantly cooled when it falls upon the filtered water ice cubes. This instant cooling locks in flavor and freshness.
Proof: Have you ever had "Sun Tea"? It's magnificent. The water has not been boiled. It uses a very low temperatures (relatively speaking) to extract the flavor from the tea bags, only over an extended period of time. But the point is, the temperature is so low that instant cooling is not necessary to lock in the flavor nor the freshness.
Steeping is important for the flavor extraction process, but too long creates bitter tea. I steep my tea with the Iced Tea Maker for 4 minutes.
When the tea first starts brewing and is in the basket, I'll "punch down" the bags with a fork for a few seconds. This helps them to saturate and helps in the flavor extraction process.
After my steep time I'll also use a fork to "punch down" the bags in the basket. This time it is to extract all of the last bit of flavor that is present in the soaked bags. I'll do this until the bags are no longer yielding much liquid.
Since this is a health site, I will not recommend sugar. But I find a certain amount of sweetness, however small, is necessary to take the "edge" off of plain iced tea. I use a little Stevia extract (Stevia in the Raw brand) which amounts to the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar for 2 quarts of tea.
You may prefer Xyletol or perhaps another type of sweetener, or none at all. Just be careful how much of you use. The more sweetener you use the less tea flavor will come through. Here in the south I look at "sweet tea" as an abomination! ;)
Oh, and if you want to add some lemon, go ahead. But I believe lemon masks the real flavor of iced tea.
Here's how Vito does it for 2 quarts (robust flavor):
- Filtered water, filtered iced cubes
- 2 Family Sized bags of Luzianne Specially Blended for Iced Tea bags
- 2 regular sized Luzianne Specially Blended for Iced Tea bags
- 1 regular Red Rose brand tea bag. Now I know what I told you about using regular tea bags, not the blended for iced tea kind, but for some reason adding 1 small bag of RR tea to the Luzianne makes my iced tea sing like Luciano Pavarotti on a *great* night, not just a good one.
- Steep for 4 minutes.
- Transfer iced tea to a 2 quart container (protects the container that came with the maker), add sweetener, stir, and refrigerate.
*******QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!*******
Monday, May 21, 2012
Why is it important to track your daily percentage of saturated fat calories? The American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee strongly advises the following guideline for saturated fat:
***Limit saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories***
Does SparkPeople provide you with this data? No, not directly. But SP provides you with comma-separated values files (CSV) which you can import into Excel or any spreadsheet application. Then, with a little work, you can easily figure out your daily percentage of saturated fat calories.
Anyone that has worked with spreadsheets knows that the bulk of the time comes with setting them up, not working with them on a daily basis. So once you set up your spreadsheet to figure this information, along with other nutrient tracking, you'll be glad you did.
I'm using Microsoft Excel for my spreasheet. If you don't have a spreadsheet application you may download OpenOffice for free and use theirs:
Next are the steps for how to figure your daily percentage saturated fat calories:
1) Change your Nutrition Goals to track your Saturated Fat (grams). I use the range of 16-22 grams daily.
2) Every day, download your daily Full Report in .csv (by clicking "Export Data To File" at the bottom of the report)
3) Copy Daily Full Reports (csv) into an Excel workbook file (xls), or use OO's spreadsheet if you prefer.
4) Do a summation ∑ for daily calories (and any other nutrients you're tracking). Save this xls file on a daily basis after all this is done.
Now do the following, once a week. Choose the same day. I prefer Monday so my averages for the week fall within Monday through Sunday.
5) Figure Avg. Daily Calories (ADC) by dividing #4 by 7
6) Do a summation ∑ for daily saturated fat grams
7) Figure Avg. Daily satururated fat grams (ADSFg) by dividing #6 by 7
8) Using a calculator, an easy multiplication/division will yield the Average Daily percent of Saturated Sat (ADpSF), over the course of a week:
- We know that 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
- Therefore: (ADSFg) × 9 ÷ ADC = ADpSF
Screenshot from spreadsheet:
End Result: I now know that my average daily percent of saturated fat, over the course of a weeks time, was 5.4%
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