Thursday, May 31, 2012
I still have carrot cake in the fridge from the beginning of May. Yeah. I should throw it away. I almost did a couple days ago, but then I felt the cake and it was still soft. I don't know what it is, but apparently I am suddenly so in love with carrot cake that I can't throw it away. I think it's the cream cheese icing. I dislike traditional cakes because the sugary frosting is just gross, but cream cheese is a whole 'nother story.
And it just so happened that I was reading a blog that mentioned "carrot cake oatmeal." WHAT. I had never considered such a thing. I quickly Googled it, found several recipes, and acquired the ingredients.
I sort-of followed the recipe from Oh She Glows, but I eliminated the coconut milk, lemon juice, and maple syrup. I found that the oatmeal was very bland without any sort of sweetener, so I added 15 grams of brown sugar (much better). For the topping, instead of using coconut milk and maple syrup, or greek yogurt and maple syrup like another recipe called for, I went balls-to-the-wall and used ACTUAL CREAM CHEESE sweetened with sucralose. CRAZY, I KNOW. But I wanted it to taste like *actual cream cheese icing*, and it totally did.
It was f*cking good. And filling — which surprised me, because usually 1/2 cup of oats is not quite satisfactory. It's important not to skimp on the carrots, because they give it most of its flavor (and bulk). Here's my little recipe:
100 grams grated carrot (approx. one carrot)
40 grams oats
1 cup almond milk
.75 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
15 grams brown sugar
2 tbsp fat free cream cheese
1 packet sucralose
0.2 oz chopped walnuts
Grate the carrot finely. It takes some serious arm power using a grater, which is why I have my eye on a julienne peeler ( amzn.to/NkfkQM ). A food processor would also work.
Heat the milk on the stove over medium heat, then add the oats and carrots. Cook over low/medium heat for 8-9 minutes until it has thickened.
Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese with the sucralose (maybe some water to thin it out, or greek yogurt to bulk it up) and give it a quick microwaving to warm it up.
Remove the oatmeal from the heat and stir in the cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar (I have a theory that you can taste the sweetness more if you wait until the end to put these ingredients in).
Top with cream cheese mixture and walnuts. CONSUME.
CALORIES: 372, less if you eliminate the walnuts
Does it taste like carrot cake? Not exactly, but it tastes closer than you'd think oatmeal could.
On a final note, what is it with food bloggers' portions always looking way huge when they are, in fact, not? Do they have special miniature dishes for photographing food?
Saturday, February 25, 2012
(My old, wide tennis shoes that got me through my weight loss.)
During high school and college, the only pair of tennis shoes I owned was a pair I bought for gym class. I was (and am) a hardcore Converse fiend. I'm not a shoe connoisseur in the least.
But when I acquired my elliptical in June of 2010, my mom took me to buy some actual tennis shoes. I knew I needed them, but despite being practically the only people in the store, I felt awkward trying on the shoes. All of them felt like they were crushing my feet, and I couldn't help but think it was because I weighed 220 pounds.
I finally settled on some ugly white Nike shoes. They were wider than most, so they felt more comfortable, even though they looked ridiculous. They were size 8 1/2 and $50. My mom graciously paid for them, so I used that fact as incentive to put them to good use.
The shoes were never snug on me, but that was okay. I was only using them on the elliptical anyway. However, whenever I wore them out of the apartment (not often; I avoided it), I felt like I was wearing clown shoes. I even asked my friend Caito, "these look stupid, don't they?" She is fashionable and confirmed that they did. For example, here's me last July at Enchanted Forest (I was about 133 pounds here):
(This witch's mouth haunted me as a kid.)
And here was our genius attempt at hiding my shoes with her awesome ones:
(This is the house from Hansel and Gretel; isn't it awesome?)
Anyway, I'm stingy and continued to wear the shoes despite the fact that I sort-of hated them and they were getting looser and looser. I just didn't want to pay for new ones.
But for my birthday last October, I got a little box in the mail. It was an orange, miniature shoebox, and it contained a $50 Nike card from Caito! She lives in Nebraska right now, so I waited until she was in town, then we made a trip to the Nike factory outlet store to find me some epic shoes.
They were having a sale on the day we went, which was a blessing and a curse. Some stuff was 30% off, but the store was swarming with people. It seemed like everyone decided to bring their children to the Nike store that day, and there was an overabundance of employees aimlessly walking down the aisles. All my visions of a leisurely shoe-finding trip went out the window, and I suddenly felt rushed. I just wanted to find the right shoes and get out of there, but trying on shoes is not the fastest process.
Luckily, I guess, I was pretty particular... I didn't even try on shoes that I considered ugly (I have that luxury now), and if I put on a pair that didn't feel right, I immediately took them off. But I was worried I wouldn't find any shoes that actually felt good.
To my relief, I found some that I liked. I was hoping for some turquoise or green shoes, but these were gray and yellow -- still better than pink. They were size 8, and they made my feet look thin, unlike the clown shoes.
(And no, I never wear matching socks. I consider it a waste of time, much like shaving.)
The original price on the box was $79.99. The sale was 30% off, so $56.00. After swiping my gift card, I handed the cashier 6 bucks. It was the best thing ever. 6 dollar shoes!
But I would've paid more for them if I had to, because they are so nice. They fit so snugly and comfortably that I forget I'm wearing them. Best of all, I can wear them in public. I actually feel somewhat like one of those fashionable, fit girls.
Only I'm still missing a sports bra that fits. I know. That must be rectified soon.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
So I've been using my Polar FT60 heart rate monitor ( amzn.to/L026Vd ) for a few weeks now, and I think I'm ready to report back on it! I'm pretty damn pleased so far.
First, the initial set-up. I turned on the watch and input all the settings: language, time, date, units (pounds/feet), weight, height, birthday, and gender. Then I familiarized myself with all the buttons, of which there are five. I created a training program and chose "lose weight" as my goal (the other options were "improve fitness" and "maximize fitness"). It then informed me that my weekly target for calories burned was 2550. It also gave me a time target for each intensity zone.
There are three intensity zones. Zone 1, the lightest, improves basic endurance and helps recovery. Zone 2 improves aerobic fitness. And zone 3 increases maximum performance capacity. For me, the heart rate ranges for each zone are as follows.
Zone 1: 117-136
Zone 2: 137-155
Zone 3: 156-176
To finish setting it up, I had to do a "fitness test" -- lie down for several minutes while wearing everything. This measures VO2 max, which is defined as "the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise." I scored 51. For my age and gender, that puts me in the "elite" category -- yes, THE BEST ONE. The age range is 25-29 and any woman who scores over 49 is considered "elite." WELL THEN. I'm still going to measure it periodically, though, since I love adding things to my "custom measurements" on Spark.
Before a workout, I wet the electrode areas of the strap, attach the transmitter, and hook it around my body, right under my boobs. I hope that's where it's supposed to go, anyway... the manual is of absolutely no use because it assumes I'm a man. "Just below the chest muscles," it says, with an illustration of a buff dude's chest.
The strap is fairly comfortable and feels like the bottom of a tight sports bra. The watch isn't terribly comfortable, but it's bearable.
During the workout, I can toggle through various screens showing me my heart rate, calories burned, the time, the percentage of my weekly target I've achieved, and which zone I'm in. I can also "lock" a zone, so that it chirps at me whenever I fall out of that zone.
When I finish a workout, it gives me all my stats, of course, and then it will tell me which things I'm improving, such as "fitness improving," "fat burn improving," "maximum performance improving," or any combo of two. It derives this from the amount of time I spend in each zone.
I was surprised -- and relieved! -- to find that my calories burned weren't too far off from what the elliptical has been telling me all this time. It depends on how hard I work out, but the difference is not nearly as ridiculous as I'd been led to believe.
It's easy to access training files and weekly summaries, although I wouldn't use the watch as the only place for tracking my workouts.
After a week of use, a cute-ass envelope icon appeared on the main screen. When opened, the HRM told me "good training week" and suggested that I "train less in zone 3." It also prompted me to update my weight, and it gave me new targets for the following week. The next week, when I met my goal of training less in zone 3 (THAT was easy), the HRM was even more excited, and it rewarded me with an on-screen trophy for the week. This is probably my favorite thing about this device. I didn't think it would be much of a motivator, but it is -- I'm motivated by not wanting to disappoint my HRM!
* Easy to use, once you read the manual.
* Knowing exactly how many calories I'm burning is AWESOME. I could even use it for strength training, if I ever got off my ass to do strength training.
* The zones are a great way to push one's self.
* I feel more motivated to do as the HRM says.
* As far as I know, there's no way to manually input calories burned. You have to actually burn them. NO TRICKERY.
* It costs $140.
* It would be nice (albeit a little weird) if it talked rather than chirping. Then I'd know exactly what it was trying to tell me.
* The watch isn't very comfortable.
I don't think that people just starting out would really need a hardcore heart rate monitor like the Polar FT60 ( amzn.to/L026Vd ), but for someone like me who has been at this for a while, it's awesome.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Christmas has flown by and it's already 20-freaking-12. Crazy. I gave and received many amazing gifts this year. Besides getting SOFT NEW SHEETS and a freakin' KINDLE TOUCH (BRB, reading about serial killers for days), I also received several "healthy lifestyle" (hate that phrase, but don't know what else to call them...) items from my wishlist. Y'all are the only people who will understand my excitement, so here they are:
Camelbak Better Insulated Water Bottle ( amzn.to/N18C4C )
So I've had my Camelbak Groove ( amzn.to/L18OMj ) since I won it from Spark last April. It was great and all, but... it was pink. And I hate pink. So I am VERY EXCITED to have a Camelbak in a color I love. And because it's insulated, it is even more aesthetically pleasing. The biggest difference is how EASY it is to drink from this one. The water in the Groove had to go through a filter on its way to my mouth, so it took more sucking power.
Polar FT60 Women's Heart Rate Monitor ( amzn.to/L026Vd )
OH MAN, I've wanted this for a long time, especially since I'm constantly hearing that ellipticals are unreliable in their calories burned. But I just could not justify the price tag ($140). Well, Alex went ahead and just bought it for me! I have to get it set up and figure out how it works, but it's gonna be rad.
Cooking Light Mix & Match Low-Calorie Cookbook ( amzn.to/JUbYlp )
Courtesy of Al's parents, this awesome-looking cookbook! It has delicious pictures of all the recipes. A quick flip-through made it seem like a lot of the snacks are cookies, but oh well. I need to go through it more thoroughly and mark the most enticing recipes. Roasted corn and goat cheese quesadillas? YES.
Omron Fat Loss Monitor ( amzn.to/JUcoIo )
I see this thing all the time on Katie's blog and so I began lusting after it. This was a gift from Alex's brother, who also got me my fabulous food scale ( amzn.to/McgrVW ) last year. I was astounded that someone bought me this, but it's gonna be perfect for measuring success post-goal-weight (whatever that is anymore).
Meanwhile, my dad started talking about really getting serious about weight loss in the new year, so I gave my parents a food scale (same one as mine, only in red) for Christmas. Then I showed my dad around Spark; he has an account now, but is (understandably) overwhelmed by the number of nooks and crannies on the site.
He seems more determined and motivated than in the past -- this'll be the first time he really combines exercise with food measuring. On the other hand, he says things that worry me, like "I have two days left to eat what I want." I keep telling him to stop saying crap like that. And I'm worried he has unrealistic expectations. He was telling me about when he did this week-long soup diet, and how his weight loss "just stopped" after the day he ate chili. He blames the beans -- not the fact that losing weight every day is not feasible at all.
My other worry is that my mom will hold him back. She is horrified by the idea of counting calories (for herself, anyway). And sometimes she comes across like she knows more about weight loss than me ((She has lost a bit of weight before, but never maintained it.)). We were having breakfast for Christmas, and Dad asked me about filling, low-calorie meals. I mentioned burritos, and my mom jumped in and argued that burritos are not low-calorie, especially considering tortillas. "My tortillas are 80 calories and whole wheat," I said. She also tried to fight me about 100-calorie bags of popcorn. "Just make it in the air-popper!" Yes, I do that when I have 340 calories to spare, not 100. You can't make popcorn in the air-popper and NOT slather butter on it. That's just wrong.
Anyway, my dad's goal is to lose 50 pounds by August, which is much more realistic than his original idea of losing 2.5 pounds per week. I talked him down, thankfully.
As for me, I don't really have any grand new year's resolutions. I've been hovering in the same few pounds for the last month (118-120), and I'd like to lose a few more and continue to maintain... but that's about it. It will be the year of maintenance.
Monday, December 19, 2011
When I signed up on Spark, everyone else had a list of rewards, so I made one too:
195 — Movie at the theater
180 — Trip to the zoo
165 — Surprise day with boyfriend
150 — Day trip
135 — Horseback riding or a massage
120 — Night trip (skating rink?!)
Weight off for 6 months — New elliptical
Weight off for a year — New couch/loveseat
Then I proceeded to do none of them. Well, Alex and I have been to the movies recently (50/50 and Paranormal Activity 3), but not really as a weight loss reward. I definitely haven’t done any of the other things, although I have bought new clothes, which is something I rarely do.
Well, I'm happy to announce that I finally bought myself a serious reward! Ever since I started using my elliptical, I've been watching TV and movies on a modest 15" full-screen monitor plugged into my laptop. It served its purpose, but it wasn't very big and its colors were bland.
I've wanted a new monitor for a while now, but with Black Friday approaching, I knew this was the time to just do it. I waited for Newegg to come out with the deal of my dreams, and they did: a 21.5" widescreen LCD monitor for $90 shipped. To be precise, this highly-rated beast:
Oh yes. You better believe I ordered the sh*t so fast.
Here it is in action:
It's so bright and glorious! And the aspect ratio is awesome. Now it's the full-screen shows that are out of place, not the widescreen ones. I know I'm REALLY going to appreciate this monitor when I'm watching a documentary in which the filmmakers were too goddamn hip to make their subtitles readable to the naked eye.
Right now, I'm pleasantly surprised every time I climb on my elliptical and remember that I have a SWEET NEW MONITOR.
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