Friday, June 17, 2011
First off, I want to say that I am NOT a Pampered Chef consultant! (I don't even know a Pampered Chef consultant, come to think of it!)
Now I want to ask a question: Do you own a Pampered Chef Micro Steamer?
I've had one of these things for YEARS and all I thought I could make in it was vegetables. It got quite the workout, but that was the limit of it's usage.
Then we went to visit my sister last Christmas, who pulled hers out and used it to make slow-cook oatmeal in the microwave. I was stunned! I'd been making my oatmeal the old-fashioned way on the stove before that. She just put the amount of dry oatmeal she wanted to cook in there, added as much water as she wanted, and nuked it for a few minutes. No boiling over (my common problem with making it in the microwave), no watching it on the stove constantly and stirring so that it doesn't burn to the bottom. She found it humorous that I was so amazed and said "It's good for more than just vegetables!".
So I went home and tried it for myself, and that thing has been getting a workout almost every day. As a matter of fact, I think I need to get a second one because I find myself washing the one I have every morning to have it ready to steam veggies that night. I think I might get the smaller one next time around.
At any rate, for 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal I put in about an equal amount of water (I like mine thick), put the lid on and nuke it for 2 minutes. Then when it's done I let it sit a minute or two to soak up any additional water that didn't get cooked into it. If it so happens that I put too much water in there and it's too soupy for me I just tip it over the sink, because the little steam holes also act as a strainer. Then I add whatever I like to it (this morning it was pureed pumpkin, maple syrup, stevia, and cinnamon- yummy!). After it's all mixed together I dump it into a bowl and enjoy.
If I am having eggs and oats, I'll make my eggs while the oatmeal sits after cooking and then scramble the cooked oats in at the end of the cooking time.
Great way to get a quick hot breakfast before hitting the gym!
Maybe everyone else already knew this, but I thought I'd pass it on to any of you who hadn't thought of it before.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
When I was 34 years old I lost 30 pounds without exercise. I followed the Weight Watchers program (materials purchsed on Ebay because I was a broke single mother of four) and occasionally took short walks during my lunch at work. That was it. I lost at the rate of 1-2 pounds a week, just like I was supposed to. Back then it wasn't all that hard.
Fast forward: Now I'm 10 years older and if I were to do that now, my weight would not budge. Not a bit. I think this is typical for most of as as we get older (and for many people in general): If we don't move, we won't lose.
I know they say that diet is 70-80% of the weight loss battle, and to a degree I agree with that. Why? Because when I eat whatever I want while exercising I GAIN weight. But if I eat what I am supposed to and don't exercise, I stay the same or lose very, very slowly. That tells me the diet is more powerful in keeping fat at bay than exercise. But if I, and most other people in mid-life and older, don't exercise we are going to have trouble shedding serious pounds.
Barring a medical condition, the only time I have seen people drop serious weight over the age of about 40 without exercising is when they have tremendous amounts of weight to lose. At first, these folks can just follow a sensible eating plan and weight will come off at a fairly predictable pace. But I've noted that usually when people get to within about 60-70 pounds of their goal weight their loss will either slow down significantly or come to a standstill without exercise.
At this point, something has to change. After close examination of diet (Are they TRULY following the program? Getting enough protein? Too many calories? Too few calories? Eating often enough?), the next thing to look at is the dreaded E word: Exercise.
But here is the beautiful thing: If you have been sedentary, you don't have to spend hours in the gym every day. You can just go for a 20 minute walk. The important thing is that you go higher than your current exercise level most days of the week. Often this little bump in activity is enough to get the metabolism going and the scale moving downward again.
As time goes on, you may hit another plateau. Then it's time to re-examine your diet and exercise levels again. Assuming your eating plan is on target, it's time to bump up the exercise a little more. I know this stinks, but it's just what has to be done to lose weight as we get older.
One thing you need to keep in mind if you are new to exercise, or if it has been a long time (several months) since you have exercised, is that you do NOT want to start off all gang-busters. If you do this, one of two things will more than likely happen: You will either burn out or get hurt. Bodies need time to adjust. At first an easy walk will be enough. When you feel ready (make sure you know the difference between "not ready" and "lazy"), either pick up your speed or increase your time. When you get to where you can walk an hour (if you have that much time), it's time to pick up the pace. There is really not a lot of point in spending more than an hour doing cardio exercise, unless you are a distance athlete.
When you get to where you feel mentally ready, you can also start to add some weight lifting. But I've blogged about that before. The point of today's blog is that if you want to lose weight when you are middle aged and older (and some younger folks with slower metabolisms) you will probably have to exercise past your current activity level to see the scale move. This is a fact a lot of people don't want to face, but if you truly want to climb out from underneath your excess fat, you are going to have to get going!
Exercise is the key that unlocks the nutrition door so that your healthy eating plan can do it's job and move the excess fat off of your body. Just give in, accept it, and start moving. :)
Monday, June 06, 2011
This is a really simple tip that I heard somewhere lately (I think it was a Weight Watchers meeting): Don't pre-load your fork. Wait to put more food on it before you are done chewing and swallowing the current bite.
I have a deserved reputation among family and friends for being a very fast eater. This is going to sound like a excuse akin to "The devil made me do it", but I really was born this way: There are literally photos of me screaming because my poor mother (who looks caught between amusement and horror) is not shoveling my baby food into my mouth fast enough. When I went off to boot camp I got faster yet. Then add motherhood to the mix and I developed the ability to positively inhale my food.
But when following the "Don't pre-load your fork" rule, I have to pay attention to my food and the process of eating. This helps me to feel more satisfied, which, in turn makes me less likely to overeat.
Nothing horribly earth-shaking, but perhaps it can help someone else.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
1. I eat. A lot. I enjoy a large volume of food and this helps to keep me from binging. My secret? My plate is piled high with non-starchy vegetables, and I have gi-normous salads often. To season my veggies I sprinkle on various seasonings, but most often I just use salt, pepper, and lemon pepper (the secret here- no butter or oil!).
2. I eat out often. I have to. Right now I am raising my daughter alone, plus I have an adult handicapped son that she and I frequently spend time with (my husband lives and works far away). As the sole driver for her many activities I just don't have time to do as much cooking as I would like. Plus, I really enjoy letting someone else do the dishes. I always look for places that have healthy options at a great value.
3. I rarely share my meals. I'll let you have a taste, and I might taste yours, but it's my food, and I'm hungry! If it's a day where I need to be careful I'll order a grilled chicken salad and have them hold the cheese and crunchy things (Dressing is always on the side and I fork-dip), or get the baked chicken with broccoli and baked potato (toppings again, always on the side and I use sparingly). If I feel like splurging I work it into my daily macronutrients, but I'll be eating the whole danged thing, thank you very much!
4. I'm not careful at all about sodium. Yes, I know this is evil, but the rest of my diet is pretty tight (most of the time), so I've been letting myself have this one. I imagine there will be a day when I start to work on this, too, but not today. :-)
5. I have an intense sweet tooth. A couple of times a week I'll have a few cookies or a small ice-cream cone or some other yummy thing. I've found that as I've gotten leaner I can afford to do this less and less, but the fact is that I have a sweet tooth and to deny it entirely is unreasonable, if not impossible.
6. I usually take weekends completely off from exercise. I do long and hard workout sessions most weekdays, but I don't want to have to worry about going to the gym on the weekends- they're for me and my kids.
7. I binge. This is a hard one to admit, but it does happen sometimes. Thankfully, not as often as it used to, but occasionally I do go nutz with the eating. This is a psychological (and sometimes hormonal) issue, and I'm working on it. But it still happens from time to time. (It usually starts with peanut butter.) The difference from now compared to when I was heavy is that I no longer view it as utter failure and allow it to send me into a downhill spiral of continuing to eat like crap for days on end. I start fresh the next day and really clean up my diet to help off-set the damage by reducing carbs, being careful about sodium, and making sure to get plenty of lean proteins, non-starchy veggies,and water to help the garbage I ate move out of my system. I also try to get in a little extra cardio the next few days to help burn the stored glycogen from the binge out of my system before too much of it can get converted to fat.
8. I take at least a week off of exercise every 10 weeks or so. This varies according to A.) How intensely I have been working out and 2.) What is going on in my life. When I am really hitting the gym hard, the break will come closer to the 8-week mark. When my intensity level isn't so high, I'll take a break every 12. These breaks are important to both my fitness and mental well-being, and I look forward to them.
9. I usually go for the full-fat/higher calorie version. Fat free sour cream? Way to ruin a perfectly good taco! Light mayo? Would rather have a scraping of the full-fat on my sandwich. Deserts made with Splenda and apple sauce in place of the oil? Forget it! I'd rather have a little of the "real" stuff than a bunch of bad-tasting (and unsatisfying- at least to me) low-cal stuff. And don't lecture me about how much worse this stuff is for my body. I know, and I'm eatin' it, anyway.
10. I eat a great, big breakfast. I mean, huge. It's calorie dense and yummy, although usually very healthy. A typical breakfast for me is 1/2 C of dry oatmeal (this makes a pretty big bowl of oatmeal, BTW) with a chopped up apple cooked in it and about a teaspoon of Smart Balance Margarine and cinnamon mixed in. I'll eat along side this a whole egg scrambled with 1/2-3/4 C of egg beaters or egg whites. I like to start my day with a full belly.
Being fit is work, but I am far from perfect, and there are some things I just won't compromise on. Maybe some of these things will change as I progress (#7 would be a great one to lose!). But if none of them do, I'm not kicking myself.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Make sure that who you hire as a Personal Trainer or Sports Nutritionist is qualified to help you. Here's a few tips:
- Ask to see their certification. In person, either a personal trainer or sports nutritionist should be able to show you a little card given to them by their accredited organization that tells when their certification expires. When working with a trainer long-distance they should be able to send you to a profile on-line with the organization they are certified by. I'm not trying to solicit business, but just so that you can get an idea of what I'm talking about, here's mine: www.acefitness.org/findanacepro/ACEC
- Watch out for their phrasing when they discuss who they are certified with. For instance, if they say "I have been certified with", and then rattle off a bunch of accredited organizations, beware! This probably means they are not currently certified. It also means they are trying to be deceitful. Do you want to pay money to someone who is trying to deceive you from the get-go?
- While personal trainers can legally give you some help with diet, to hold the title "Sports Nutritionist" a person must have a degree in a related field (duh!), and in most states they also need an additional Sports Nutritionist certification. If you ask to see the certification, you can pretty much know that they have the degree. So a chef who is also a personal trainer does not a Sports Nutritionist make.
Here's an article on it, if you want a little more info: www.ehow.com/about_6587653_ed
And trust me, you won't have to ask if they have a degree- any accredited Sports Nutritionist will let you know right off of the bat that he or she has a bachelors in Sports Nutrition. If they don't, either start asking questions or run away!
- Just because someone is a sports nutritionist does not mean they are a personal trainer, although changes are they will also have that certification, as well, because it just makes sense.
Why is certification so important? Because we have to keep our certifications current, which means we are taking CEC courses, which means we are learning the latest in at least one area of our field. I have taken CEC courses in lifestyle and weight management, women's fitness, targeting exercise specifically for the clients needs, and senior fitness. Additionally, at least with ACE, we get a monthly publication that keeps us abreast of all that is the latest and greatest in the health and fitness world. When someone has access to the very latest information (I usually find out about it before non-certified people do) , they can give you the best help possible.
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