Saturday, December 31, 2011
I've learned it's best to pack all food possible if I want to eat well when going out of town, but particularly for breakfast and snack foods. They seem to be the hardest things for me to eat balanced and clean when away from home. But one thing has always stumped me: How to cook slow cook-oatmeal in the hotel room.
If I cook it in the microwave (either in my room or in the breakfast area) the hotel mug or paper bowl I use is never big enough to accommodate all of the bubbling that occurs in the cooking process and it boils over, making a mess.
And if I just add hot water to the oats in the bowl it never gets cooked enough for me. Instant oats would cook with this method, but slow-cook are the healthiest kind so that's what I start my day with.
Now, you might be saying that I should bring my own bowl. And that would be ideal..... Except I always forget. Always. If I'd remember to add it to my packing list I wouldn't forget, but I never do and have finally come to accept the fact that I never will. It's a mute point. I seem to have a bowl block. (And spoon block, but at least you can get plastic spoons from the hotel lobby.)
So we are back to my oatmeal cooking dilemma. And finally this time, I had my AHA! moment. It's so simple I wondered why I haven't thought of this before: Cook it IN the room coffee pot. Here's how:
Pour water into the reservoir of the coffee make. Use a bit more than you think you will need to cook your oats. (This is to compensate for steam escape and "Oh crap! That wasn't enough water!" issues.) Put the carafe onto the burner. Turn the coffee maker on. Let the water run into the carafe. At this point it should be scalding hot. Remove the carafe and put it on a heat-proof surface. Carefully take the lid off (most coffee makers won't let the water drip into the carafe without the lid on). Pour the water out until it's about what you will need to absorb the oats (for me, this is about 1 1/2 times the amount of oat I have- I like thick oats). Dump your slow-cooked oats in there and stir them with the hotel spoon, which you ran to the lobby to get while the hot water was running into the pot. Put the carafe back on the burner (which should still be turned on) and let it sit and cook for about 10 minutes, or until it's the consistency you like. Take off the heat and stir in anything you want to add (for me this is a packet of Stevia- I always keep a bunch in a baggie in my purse). I eat ir right out of the carafe because: #1- It has a handle, making it easy, and B.) I forgot my bowl, remember?
Oats, protein powder, apple, and pepitas for some healthy fats:
Word of warning: Do NOT put the dry oats in the container before the hot water drips in. You'll burn the oats to the bottom of the carafe before enough water gets in there to lube them up. No, I didn't do this. I may be too dense to remember my bowl but I DID at least manage to have enough forethought to keep from destroying the carafe and making the hotel smell like burned oats.
To wash I rinsed all the stuck gook out in the room sink. Then, in absence of dish soap, I filled the reservoir to it's top margin and ran the water through again, let it sit heating for a few minutes, then turned the coffee maker off, poured the water out, and put the carafe back into the maker to let the hot water steaming off to both dry it and do a bit of a sterilization job on the carafe.
And if you have a traveling partner who wants coffee..... well........ he's either going to have to wait or you can send him to the lobby for the stuff at the free breakfast bar. ;-)
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Er... I'm about to talk about menopause, here, so any of you men who are uncomfy with the subject may want to skip this blog....
Is it just us ladies (and very brave men) now? Okay.... then I can proceed:
One very interesting and unexpected side effect I have experienced with losing weight and getting fit is the disappearance of the side effects of menopause I had been experiencing. I didn't make the complete connection until I read in one of Tosca Reno's books that she also has had no menopausal side effects since improving her lifestyle.
I'm assuming this has something to do with the hormones that fat produces. Reduced fat means reduced hormones, which could mean reduced symptoms. I also wonder if regular exercise plays in somehow. But I'm not at all an expert on this subject, so really, what do I know? I'm just grateful the night sweats, severe mood swings, and horrible headaches, among other things, are gone.
At 45 I don't think I've passed through "The Change" entirely. But I started showing signs of pre-menopause 11 years ago, and at this stage of the game I have cycles perhaps twice a year (more than you wanted to know about me, isn't it?), so I think I'm getting close. This also means, though, that I am at the point where I should be at the worst stage of symptoms, and instead I'm getting pretty much nuthin'. No complaints from me!
My quest for fitness surprised me in a lot of ways, but I think this was the biggest one. I'd be interested to hear if it happened for you, too. And if you are still in the process of, or considering, improving your health, maybe this will give you one more motivating reason to keep on course!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Weight lifting is beneficial for just about everyone, but if you have a lot of weight to lose there are some special precautions you need to take.
First of all, bear in mind that your body is lifting weights every day just by moving around. Think about it: If you are 100 pounds overweight, that's literally lifting 100 pounds of weight every time you walk. For this reason you need to start out with very light weights, if any at all, because your bones can only take so much. As your strength goes up, of course, you will be able to lift more. But you will probably also notice that as your body fat goes down you will be able to lift heavier weights, also. This is because your body is used to lifting that much already, so adding more to your weights is simply asking it to do what it is used to because it has been doing it all along. You will surprise and astound your weight lifting friends with your quickly increasing strength while you shrink before their very eyes!
Also, proceed with caution before raising the amount of weight you are lifting until your body weight starts moving down, and increase the amounts gradually when you do. Because bigger bodies have more tissue to get oxygen and nutrients to, the heart already has quite the job. Adding weights to this increases the load to the heart and internal organs. You want to get the heart used to the added demand before you ask even more of it: We don't want you passing out with heavy stuff in your hands!
This should not discourage you from lifting weights if you have quite a lot of weight to lose, though. There are added benefits that make it still very beneficial to you. Two of the biggest benefits are: 1.) Muscle burns more calories at rest then fat, so you will lose weight quicker if you make some of that scale weight muscle instead of fat. And 2.) You will have a much more attractive body under there when you DO lose weight if there is some muscle to it, regardless of whether you are a man or a women. Ever see someone who loses a lot of weight but looks like a bag of bones? Nor exactly the look most people are going for. Don't let that person be you!
So start with no weights (particularly for arms). You will still be getting an excellent workout! Then increase the resistance slowly. Before you know it, you will be a bonafide weight lifter well on your way to that shapely, fit body you've always dreamed about. It really CAN happen, and the cool thing is that the power is all in YOUR hands!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The past few years there has been quite a lot of hype about insulin and how it affects fat storage. It's super-confusing, but I think I've managed to whittle it down to something both understandable and practical for the every day person.
Here goes...... (Er, this isn't going to be real technical, so if you are into splitting hairs or are going to suggest I should have included more information, you may just want to skip this blog.)
Carbohydrates make your blood sugar go up. Your body doesn't like this (high blood sugar is dangerous), so it sends out a storage hormone we call insulin to bring it back down. (BTW- the pancreas is what produces insulin, so that's why you hear so much about the pancreas when people talk about blood sugar.)
Insulin turns the carbs into glycogen and stores the glycogen in different parts of the body, namely the muscles and liver. BUT it also turns any excess glycogen that doesn't fit into the muscles and liver into fat and stores them in your fat cells. If there aren't enough fat cells to hold the fat that has been made, the body has to do something with it, so it makes more fat cells to store it in. And who wants more fat cells?
Okay, now lets add in one more thing Insulin does: It keeps another chemical, called hormone-sensitive lipase, from doing it's job properly. And that job is releasing fat from your fat tissues to be used as energy.
Sooooo..... when you eat a ton of fast-burning carbs (generally the kind that don't have much fiber in them), not only are you promoting fat storage because the muscles and liver can only hold so much, but you are also KEEPING the fat you do have from being burned off as energy. This is the main reason why low-carb diets work so well for weight loss.
Having said all of this, you don't need to run from carbs like they are the enemy. Slow-digesting carbs- like oatmeal, whole-grain breads (the real whole-grain stuff, not the kind that has white flour in it, too) and starchy vegetables- are just that: Slow digesting. They release the carbs slowly into your body so that you don't have an excess all at one time to be stored as fat.
Also, when you exercise heavily the body uses up the glycogen in your muscles very quickly. So you need to eat carbs to replace them so that you have power to not only get through your workout, but also through your day.
If you are anything like me, you are asking "So why do people go low-carb when they are exercising heavily?" The reason for that is another big, long technical explanation, but I'm gonna give the very-condensed-but-not-very-scientific answer: The body will turn fat into glycogen and burn it when your muscles and liver run out of it. And the process of turning the fat into glycogen burns calories in and of itself, so it's kinda like you are getting a little calorie-burning bonus when this happens.
The thing with this is that you want to be very careful: When I have gone too low-carb I have wound up with all sorts of not-so pleasant side effects, the scariest of which is that I started to lose my long-distance vision. It was to a point where I was beginning to question whether I should drive at night because depth perception was thrown off. Other interesting side effects for me were running out of steam very quickly, getting confused easily, feeling mentally "fuzzy", headaches, becoming incredibly irritable (my daughter thought this was the worst side effect- She'd of rather I be blind than a wench), tripping over things, falling down frequently when doing cardio (Once I fell off a bench when doing step-ups, making quite a racket. People were rushing from all of the gym to help me- embarrassing!), and general lack of coordination. Clearly, super-low carb (under about 100g a day) for me is not healthy. I think different people have different thresholds, but if you are experiencing things like this while on a low-carb eating plan, I'd suggest adding a little whole-grain, fruit, or starchy veggie into every meal. Non-starchy veggies ARE a carb source, but they are not a very condensed form of carbs and would take so much of them that you would no longer be practicing portion control, which I believe to be a key factor in losing weight and getting fit.
And as a final and fairly unrelated note, if you are working with a coach who is helping you with your eating and experience any of these symptoms, TELL THEM! Any responsible coach will alter your diet and get you out of the too-low-danger-zone. If they don't, dump them immediately and find someone else to help you. Your health is not worth having a super-svelte appearance.
Monday, September 26, 2011
If you are one of these people who is always blaming someone else for your current less-than-satisfactory physical condition, it's time to give it a rest.
The fact is that I've never seen one person successfully reach their weight loss goals blaming someone else for them being overweight and out of shape. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that when you start pointing the finger at yourself, all your excuses go out the window.
Look, I know I sound harsh. But I have the right to say these things because I know of which I speak: I used to be a blamer.
My favorite person to blame was my husband. I'll still say to this day that the man is hard on a diet. He's not trying to be. Truly. But focusing on eating as a prime source of entertainment and bringing goodies into the house "for the kids" does NOT help keep me in a mindset to maintain my goals. However, it is ME who allowed myself to eat garbage once I was tempted with the yummy foods he exposed me to. I had options: Ask to go to restaurants that have guilt-free foods I can eat; Saying no to junk at the movie (even if he IS holding that delicious-smelling popcorn right next to me); Telling him to please take the kids away from the house to eat the goodies RIGHT NOW; Removing myself from the house until the goodies were gone. I'm sure there were other solutions, but the fact is that it's me who was to blame, not him. After all, I am the one who lives in my body.
I know people who are so busy blaming others as an excuse for their current condition that they are almost obsessed with it...... Mired down in the depressed state of victim,....... looking for sympathy from anyone who will listen as to their woeful tale of why being so fat and out of shape is not their fault.........
I think they feel like if enough people say "It's Okay- You can't help the way you are", they will suddenly feel accepted and the world will be Okay with them being overweight and out of shape, and somehow that will make them happy.
If this is you........, Guess what? Even if everyone were to pat you on the head and tell you what you want so desperately to hear, you would still look in the mirror and see exactly what you saw five minutes before they told you that. And would that image make you happy?
Didn't think so.
A lot of folks like to blame their upbringing. Okay, so I will give it to many of you that you were brought up in homes with very few good food choices and forced to clean your plate. I see a lot of kids whose overweight condition I do indeed blame on the parents. How can kids eat right if they aren't given right food choices? If you are feeding your kids garbage, it's time to accept the blame for where they are and start feeding them healthy foods, even if you don't like healthy foods yourself. Suck it up and set the example.
HOWEVER, if you are an adult who is out of shape and still blaming your parents, it's time to grow up and assume the responsibility for the way you look. Even if they locked you in a closet and fed you nothing but Twinkies your entire upbringing, NOW you are able to make you own choices. NOW you can reverse what they have done. NOW is the time to change your habits. Besides, how long have you been out from under your parents jurisdiction?
Sorry- The Mommy Excuse just doesn't hold water.
The fact is that in order to maintain a body that is too big, you have to eat too much food. I don't care how you got that body but: To maintain it you have to be eating enough food to sustain it. Make every excuse you want, but that's a fact no one can dispute. Well, you could.... but you'd look pretty stupid to the rest of the world if you did.
Unless you lay claim to your own health, you will never own a healthy body. That's just the way it is. As long as you are deflecting the responsibility for your current state on someone besides you, you are nowhere near obtaining the healthy body you deserve to have. YOU have all of the power in this. YOU made choices that got you where you are today, whether you became unhealthy on your own or entered into adulthood that way. And only YOU can get yourself out of it.
How? Start with accepting. Phrases like "I am the one who is responsible for being here." "My dissatisfaction with my body is because of me, not anyone else." "Sure, other people may not have been supportive, but I make the choices that keep me here."
Believe it. Let it sink in. Feel it.
And then? Cast it away. Forgive yourself. Move forward, making better choices. (I blogged about that here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
And enjoy life. You have gone way too far being miserable. It's time to forgive everyone, including yourself (read the above blog link), and live life out from under the cloud of blame. When you do that, you are ready to take care of yourself the way you deserve.
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