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Coconut Oil- Try it and You'll Never Go Back!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Have you ever heard of coconut oil? I hadn't either, until I read about it in Tosca Reno's "Eat Clean" books. She says she eats 3 Tablespoons of it a day. Now, Tosca doesn't eat any foods that are not clean, so I'm sure that 360 calories of a good source of fat don't hurt her. But for the rest of us it might not be the best idea to consume this quantity if we are trying to lose weight. However, it's a great food to substitute for some other fats in your diet for a myriad of reasons. Here's an article that goes into detail, because I am too lazy to type it all out: www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/or
ganic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-c
oconut-oil.html


At any rate, I have discovered how versatile this oil is and how wonderful it makes food taste! I have tried substituting it in almost all of my recipes that call for fat, from stir-fries to baked goods. Every time, without exception, it improves the recipe tremendously. The texture makes even recipes where whole-wheat flour is subbed in for regular white (which usually results in a tougher product) melt-in-your-mouth.

Case in point: I'm GREAT at making pie crust, but have always had to use refined white flour for it to be flaky enough to grant my approval. Last night I made my traditional pie crust (my own recipe and technique), but substituted 1/4 of the white flour for whole-wheat and all of the shortening with coconut oil. It was wonderful! Next time I am going to try it with all whole-wheat flour. I'll bet it turns out terrific.



Coconut oil can be substituted strait over for any kind of fat a recipe calls for, but is especially good in recipes that call for butter or shortening, the latter of which is particularly bad for your heart and arteries.

An unusual property of coconut oil is that it holds solid at temperatures 76 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Above that and it starts to melt. I was keeping it in a cabinet where I always had and it was beginning to liquify. It finally occurred to me that it was being stored next to an exterior wall: With the Texas summer heat on the other side of the wall, the coconut oil was getting a little too warm to hold it's solid state. I moved it to my pantry, which is on an inside wall, and it went back to solid.

If you want to use it in a recipe that calls for liquid oil, just melt it first. In a recipe that calls for a solid fat (butter, margarine, or shortening), use it strait out of the jar.

Unlike olive oil (which is also heart healthy), coconut oil is heat stable. So you can use it for types of cooking that call for prolonged exposure to heat and it won't destroy the flavor of your food.

And it's not just good for cooking- I like to stir a teaspoon of it into my oats or whole-grain cream of what in the mornings. It adds a nice flavor and texture to it, and the added fat slows digestion and helps to keep me full longer.

Most stores carry coconut oil on the shelves with other types of cooking oils.

One caveat of coconut oil is that it is more expensive than most other commonly-used fat sources. But I think that once you've tried it you'll be sold and never go back to shortening, at least, again. It's worth the investment to get that artery-clogging stuff out of the diets of yourself and your family.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JULIA1154 11/20/2012 3:02PM

  I've been using coconut oil for a while but hadn't thought of subbing it for shortening (which I've not used in years). I'm looking forward to using it in pastry crusts. Thanks for the suggestion!

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MIZINA730 10/27/2012 1:52PM

    I like coconut oil too. I just found another thing that coconut oil is good for in Bottom Line. It may help with Alzheimer's disease! With Alzheimer's, the brain doesn't use glucose efficiently. Coconut oil helps the brain compensate for its reduced ability to use its main fuel, glucose. Studies are promising. They recommend usng several tablespoons in place of other oils for cooking and in salad dressings. They do not say if this is per day.

I have even tried it when I make eggs and I like the slightly sweet taste that results. Sometimes I mix it with olive oil when I cook.



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MELROSE13 10/16/2012 2:34AM

    I use coconut oil-recently started, first saw it in a recipe my mom had got off Dr.Oz. Though it is a little pricey-it doesn't take as much of it to cook with and it is healthier so in the long run I don't think it is as expensive as doctor bills can be for heart problems! Great blog!

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IRP1114 10/15/2012 6:54PM

    Oh yea I also add about a quarter cup per pound of nuts to my nut butters. So that adds more to my day as I do eat nut butter daily.

And it is actually not as expensive as it use to be. More places have it now so prices have gone down a little. Trader Joe's has some now too. So you can find the 14-16oz jars for around $6 instead of around $10 or more like before.


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IRP1114 10/15/2012 6:11PM

    Great blog Nancy :-)! Nice of you to share your experience with adding coconut oil to your clean eating. You made many great points. Coconut and coconut oil is listed on my page as one of my favorite superfoods. You are so right. Benefits are endless. And on top of being better for cooking than olive oil it remains a healthy fat unlike olive oil once heated. It does work well with whole wheat. I use it in all my baking as well. Just baked hubby's cake with some yesterday. And in a few other cakes I have been baking this month. (lots of b-days here this month lol) I also add it to my oatmeal! It does make the calorie count sound scary but they are definitely worth it as far as taste and benefits. I have shared this with many of my spark friends and some think I am a little weird but I keep an extra jar by the boys tooth brushes and have them rub it into their gums after brushing to keep their gums healthy. And I do the same when I have my teaspoon in the mornings along with my greens. Tosca had mentioned the book coconut oil miracle a few years ago in an article in the oxygen mag too! That is a great book. Very interesting stuff.

Can't wait to hear more about your experiments with coconut oil :-)!
emoticon
And Kristin hope you finally tried the fresh coconut lol ;-)!

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MISSYGEEN 10/15/2012 2:54PM

    I've seen someone on Dr. Oz mention it. but the price has kept me saying "I'll try it next time." However, I love oatmeal and may have to try it for just that reason.

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CICI510 10/15/2012 1:58PM

    I have been wanting to try coconut oil and I think I will now! Thank you so much for another awesome blog!

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K-GETTING-FIT 10/15/2012 1:12PM

    Thanks for sharing. Bought some recently and just started using it. A dear Spark friend (who will probably be chiming in) has used it for awhile and loves it. I am adjusting to the flavor. Have had a freaky dislike of the texture of coconut for years and decided it was time to climb out of my box:)
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GOPINTOS 10/15/2012 11:43AM

    I have been using it since about March. Have my adult children hooked on it also. My Dutch store has it the cheapest, so it is a good reason for them to come home to visit and stock up :)

I find it very satiating also :)

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KANSASROSE67 10/15/2012 11:33AM

    I no longer use shortening, but your blog has convinced me to give cocunut oil a try for baking and frying.

Thanks for the info!

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WE_PA_FIT 10/15/2012 9:48AM

    Just bought some this weekend!!! I had read about all of its benefits,.. it peaked my interest mainly because of its "brain benefits" since ALzheimers runs in my fam. I will be using it for cooking and as supplement!


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CHICA_BORICUA 10/15/2012 7:11AM

    coconut oil is good for your hair, make it shiny!

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HOLLY255255 10/15/2012 7:04AM

    I like the comment about the mixture coconut oil and whole wheat flour - I will this! Thanks!

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PAMNANGEL 10/15/2012 12:31AM

    I love coconut oil. Started using it earlier this year after reading some articles about its effects on people with Alzheimer's and dementia. My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia last summer. I've noticed a definate improvement since we started putting coconut oil in her food. We go through a jar a week and it's well worth it.


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AFRITOGUY 10/14/2012 9:59PM

    Will try this. Thanks!

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BERRY4 10/14/2012 9:48PM

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience(s) with this. I have held back from coconut oil since it seems to be the latest "craze" and I've not been convinced that it is so great.
But, since I've quit buying shortening, and have avoided recipes calling for shortening, it IS nice to know that there is a better alternative. -- I've seen it at my local COSTCO, and I figure the cost should be fairly doable from that source.

With the holidays coming, I think I may try this, based on your recommendation.
Have yourself a great week! emoticon

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Tweaking The Weight Watchers Program

Monday, September 03, 2012

I've lost a majority of my weight on the Weight Watchers program. It is the plan that I return to most often when I need to reign things in again, and to this day I log my foods in my Weight Watchers Points Plus food log even when I am maintaining. (I've always done better with a pen and paper than virtual tracking.) But I've found that with the new program that came out earlier this year I was having a hard time losing weight when needed and others were commenting the same.

Now, let me say before I go any farther that if you are using the Weight Watchers program and losing just fine, don't change a thing! If you hit a stall down the line you can revisit this blog and see if it helps, but in the meantime there is absolutely no point in fixing something that is not broke.

It didn't take me very long to figure out what the problems are, and the biggest in my opinion is the unlimited fruits. Now, I've always thought and still think that fruit gets an unnecessarily bad rap, along with wheat, white potatoes, and corn. But to let people eat fruit without accounting for it can completely stall weight loss, and actually cause people who are maintaining gain weight.

The problem isn't that fruit is bad for you. The problem is that most people in the weight loss world have an issue with portion control. Fruit is higher in sugars, albeit natural sugars. I don't have enough room in this blog to explain the entire biological process (and you'd probably get bored, anyhow), so just trust me when I say that too many sugars of any source can actually change how the body stores calories, sending more of them to fat.

Yes, the Weight Watchers gurus tell you to eat fruit until you feel satisfied. But lets get honest here: If people who are or have been overweight could tell when they were satisfied.... well.... there wouldn't be a need for Weight Watchers.

Consequently, my proposal is that you count the first two servings of fruit as "free", and account for any after that in your daily points. In case you weren't around for previous Weight Watchers programs, a serving/points-worth of fruit is about 60 calories, or the equivalent of a cup of cut-up fruit. Or in the case of bananas, a half of a large banana. (So if you eat a whole large banana for breakfast, that's the end of the "free" fruits for the day.)

The unlimited non-starchy veggies are still good, though. While it's not portion control, it'd be almost impossible to eat enough of them to mess with fat storage.

The second tweak I would suggest is to up the intake of water from 6 cups a day to 12. And make it real water- not "non-caloric beverages". (To read my blog on why water is so important, click here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4219039
)

Another thing I would highly recommend is to rely more on whole foods rather than processed, to include Weight Watchers food products. While I think Weight Watchers is a good program, it bugs me a little that they don't put more emphasis on minimally processed foods. Calories are not all created equal, and the your body turns processed foods into fat much easier than foods the way Mother Nature made them. (This is, by the way, the reason I could never be a Weight Watchers leader: They push the employees to sell their products. I could not in good conscience sell people foods that I know aren't truly healthy.)

And lastly, eat your exercise points earned, but forget about your weekly Points Allowance, unless you are really desperate. Doing so seems to put the daily calories at a more metabolism-friendly level. And when you count your exercise points, err on the side of caution and don't be too generous with your estimations. But do go ahead and give yourself more than the 42 on the log, if you have earned more than that.

I realize this blog is not going to apply to the majority, and I am sorry for that. I just thought the few frustrated might find it helpful.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HANDS_UP 10/31/2012 6:58PM

    Thank you....congrats on your weight loss....continued success for the future!!

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FITANDFIFTY2 10/27/2012 1:11PM

    Thank you for the info!!

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MIZINA730 10/23/2012 10:50AM

    I agree with you on fruit and Weight Watchers foods. Fructose is a simple carb and too much of it will be a problem. After thinking about what you said, I'm going to tighten up my eating this week. Great blog.



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LESLIE871948 10/5/2012 1:55PM

    ok, I just had time to find your page and blog, since I am playing today. You are so on target here too. Do a google search on blue zones and see what you think about the argument for 80% full. I do WW of course also, and plan to be a leader when I get freed up from the current job. If I ate ALL the fruit I want? Ha. Their products? I don't eat them. I will do what I need to do to keep that job so that people can see for themselves that there is a path from over 365 pounds to normal. I will deal with the sales part of it some way. My leader now says that she does not eat them, but she doesn't say it in front of the room when she is "on". And she says things like "yada yada is on sale today, if you like that go get it....."

Comment edited on: 10/5/2012 1:59:09 PM

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FITMAMA_ 10/3/2012 9:20AM

    I SO agree with you! The extra water and limit fruit intake are very, very important!

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GOLDIE3331 9/18/2012 10:17AM

    I have did WW in the past it has always helped thanks for posting.

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GODZDESIGN95 9/14/2012 10:58AM

    a lot of good tips I wonder about eating all the fruit you want phrase. I stopped going years ago. I did not like the way they had things set up

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BERRY4 9/7/2012 8:21PM

    Do you think it makes any difference if you include a protein w/ the fruit?

I'm thinking when it gets down to the "under 10#'s" category, little things make a difference for people differently. ...no science to back that up, but just a thought.

I like how Tom Venuto reminds that if what you are is creating results that you aren't happy with, change what you are doing! (Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle)
Enjoy your weekend! emoticon

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K-GETTING-FIT 9/7/2012 8:09AM

    Although I don't follow the WW program, I do log my fruits. Veggies I often just track as servings though. In the beginning I tracked everything, but feel safe with the veggies now. It can be quite eye opening to see the cals in fruit. Did find that the fruits helped in bringing down my cravings for sweets:)

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CICI510 9/6/2012 4:38PM

    Awesome advice!! emoticon

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MARINEMAMA 9/4/2012 7:29PM

    I wondered about the free fruits....I agree with one free and then count the rest.great advice!!! Thanks for sharing it helped!!
Hugs,
MM

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ILOVEJIM851991 9/4/2012 5:24AM

    I guess I should look into weight watchers more emoticon

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MARTHAWILL 9/3/2012 9:07PM

    I agree with you re: the fruit. I am fairly sure WW will be changing that in the program in the foreseeable future. I do disagree with the amount of water to take in however based on information from some kidney specialists. I agree that water does help to fill a person up but apparently too much can overload the kidneys- as well for some of us, send us on endless trips to the loo. We likely do not need more than about 6 cups a day, depending on the level of our activity - and this can include other clear beverages (not alcohol or caffeine). However, there are probably equally convincing debates on both sides on this issue.
emoticon emoticon

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BINGEFREEBABE 9/3/2012 6:39PM

   
Thanks very much for this. I am one of those women who did WW and ate WAY too much fruit.
I think your comments are right on. Your blogs are very valuable to me, so keep sharing.
Do you find, as someone who has lost weight and improved your body in so many ways, that you still have to be very vigilant about what you eat on a day to day basis? I was just curious... this weight loss thing seems like the journey of a lifetime and I wonder if I'm even up for that.


regards, Hope

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Ever Wondered How the Most Muscular Guy in the Gym Lifts?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I have mentioned my workout partner, Ivory, in my blogs a few times. He's a big fella (6'2" or so) with the kind of look many men aspire towards:



(No, he's not on steroids- trust me! Everyone wonders, but that fact is that it's a combination of genetics and willingness to suffer in the gym. Also, interestingly enough, he has never and does not now compete. He just likes to work out.)

We have been working out together for over two years now. Over that time I've noted a go-to pattern he generally uses when he lifts weights by his own devices (purely out of this own head, no outside input). When we first started lifting together this method exhausted me. Now I've adapted, and I have noted that the times I stick with this program both my strength AND muscle definition increase. I don't look big and bulky or any less feminine, so don't worry about that. Women who lift heavy (and avoid steroids) have a TOTALLY different look than men who lift the same way.

Anyhow, thought I would share what I've observed. I love hearing what others are doing and thought this might inspire someone else in some way.

Keep in mind that this is an advanced lifting routine. You want to be a fairly experienced weight lifter (6 months or more) who is well-versed in proper form before attempting this program. The beauty of it is that it grows with you as your strength increases.

He uses this method most often for his big muscle groups: Chest, Back, Shoulders, and Legs.

His first set is one that is multiple-joint and uses the entire muscle group. So for chest this would be some kind of a chest press, for shoulders some kind of a shoulder press, and for back usually a pull-down or pull-up. Legs are almost always a squatting movement.

Of this exercise, he'll do a couple sets of 15-20 with a fairly light weight to warm up and bring some blood into the area. In-between warm-up sets, he stretches the muscle group. (It's a hot debate about whether stretching before is beneficial to the workout or not, but it's what he does.)

Now it's on to working sets, where he goes into pyramiding this exercise like this:

He'll do another set of 15, but with increased weight so that he's really feeling it by the time he's done.

The next set is a set of about 12, slightly increased weight from the set before. He could do several more reps, but he doesn't want to blow his muscles out this early in the game.

He rests for a minute or so. The next set he raises the weight a little so that he's somewhere in the 10 rep range. He could still get 2 or so more of these out, but stops at 10.

Another short rest and the weight is raised again for a set of 8. At this point he could get another rep out if you held a gun to his head.

Now he needs a couple of minutes rest to get his strength back before going into the fifth and final working set. He's raised the weight again so that it's pretty darned heavy- He pushes out about 4-6 reps, usually being spotted, and there is no way under God's green earth he's going to be able to get another rep out. He's spent. And done with that exercise.

The next exercise he chooses will be a little more specific as to the area of the muscle it targets, yet still incorporates the whole muscle group. With chest he'll usually choose some kind of machine incline press or a flye movement. With back this will usually be a rowing movement. And with delts he's going to go in for either a front or a lateral movement, because that's where he prioritizes. With legs it's usually some kind of a leg press.

For this one he'll do four sets, starting out fairly heavy for about 12 reps, then raising and going to 10, then raising again for a couple of sets of 8 reps. Those last 3 sets he's pretty much worn out and needs a couple of minutes of recovery time between to get his strength back up for the next set.

The next two exercises he chooses will be area-specific within that body part. Maybe a decline flye and pullover for chest, strait-arm pullover and bent row for back, either a front or lateral move (whichever he didn't do for the second exercise) and a rear delt move for shoulders, and then some kind of leg extension and hamstring curl for thighs.

For both these 3rd and 4th exercises he'll typically do 3 sets of about 10-12 reps, starting pretty heavy and maxing out with each set.

For the fifth and final exercise, he's going to choose one that either hits the whole area again or, in the case of legs, hits his calves. For chest this will often be a standing cable crossover flye, for back a barbell bent row, for delts some kind of shrug.

Of these he typically does two sets of 15-20. It's more of a "peaking" exercise to get a burn in the muscles than one that is used for strength. He's too worn out from the 4 exercises before to get much more out of them.

Here's a sample Chest workout, at the request of Mrs.Carly:
- Warmup: Incline DB Bench Press- Two light sets of 20 (2x20)
- DB Incline Bench Press: Pyramid of 5x15, 12, 10, 8, 6
- Machine Flyes: 4x12, 10, 10, 8
- DB Cross-Bench Pullovers: 3x10-12
- BB Decline Press: 3x10-12
- Low Cable Crossover Flyes: 2x15-20

In the case of legs, this 5th exercise is where he does his calf exercise. He'll usually get in 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Sometimes he'll do a second set of calf exercises, depending on how they feel after the leg workout.

He'll break from this routine several times a year, usually when he finds a workout program in one of his fitness magazines that he wants to do for variety (usually these take anywhere from 8-12 weeks to complete). Or sometimes he'll come in and decide to do 3 sets of 15 for most exercises, or he'll super-set. I think a lot of the reason he continues to improve is because he isn't stuck in a rut. But his default program is the one above, and with good reason- Obviously it works!

Let me know what you think. Was this a valuable blog, or something that is just too hard to relate to?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KIMCOLLINGS 11/19/2012 4:01PM

    Wow! He is awesome! Hope you don't mind that I added you as a friend.

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IMNOTTHEREYET 9/14/2012 8:04AM

    This is amazing. He looks like he knows what he is doing. I am still learning but im getting there. Slowly lol

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JENNKFIT 8/26/2012 8:07AM

    OMG he's beautiful! I wish I had a workout partner, but I'll never use that as an excuse. You look fantastic by the way! I'm also curious about losing weight beyond my goal, seeing your numbers and how healthy you look, I could go for more weight loss and BF loss.

So often people posts weights and measurements but they ALWAYS fail to mention their height. My weight at 5'8" is still running around in a bikini getting compliments, but I don't think I'd do it if I were 5'2". Thanks for letting me know how tall you were, it really helps.

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K-GETTING-FIT 8/24/2012 11:51PM

    Hello Ivory!!! He is amazing:)

This was a great blog. Years ago I worked with a trainer, this young guy. We did a week of training and the following week he said he was switching it up. He did what you wrote. Now, I must say that I was probably not the person he should have been doing it on. When I would try and explain it to the guys they would always say that it was more advanced. Got to tell you that I have never had that kind of muscle soreness in my life from a workout. Maybe my legs hiking 30 miles in one day in Mexico . lol Anyways it wasn't that I was hurt from it, it was just so darn hard. I would feel it for days, quite a pump. Finally told him that in order for me to function with daily activities like fastening my bra, walking, sitting, reaching for a seatbelt, we would need to take it down a tad. I have never seen such fast changes in my body as I did with those workouts though.

One day I will try it again. I almost feel like it is something that I would like to do with a trainer though. Takes some pushing:)

Thanks for sharing!

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ROCKMAN6797 8/24/2012 8:31AM

    Thank you for sharing this workout, it certainly serves him well!

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GYMRAT54 8/23/2012 3:07PM

    Ivory sure is a big fella alright! He sure looks intimidating! Glad he's more a teddy bear than someone truly to be feared! I admit, I'm surprised he has not and does not compete. He just likes to work out!

The pyramid workout you described sounds a lot like the workout reginmen of my bodybuilder friend at my gym with the type of exercises he does and the reps. She does the lat pulldowns, the incline chest presses, the row machine, the leg presses, the cable crossover flyes, etc She keeps doing these week after week because it works for her, too. I'm glad to hear that he breaks away from his go-to workout plan from time to time for a change and variety. I'd get bored doing the same thing week after week.

I tried working with my friend with her for the past two weeks. As with any new exercise regimen, there is bound to be soreness and there has been because it is very different from what I'm used to but I do see the benefits of it. She did say it could take a month to adapt to it. Unfortuntely, I had to stop due to other commitments but she said she was more than willing to work with me whenever and however works for me in the future.

Two questions:
1) does he exercise just one muscle per workout or more than one muscle group in a workout?
2) Does he work out every day or does he take one or two days for recovery?

Great blog, Nancy Anne. You're so lucky to have found someone like Ivory for a workout partner. I'm also thinking he's lucky to have found you for his workout partner! Now...go pump iron and show everybody how it's done! emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HISARTIST 8/23/2012 2:31PM

    I used to do pyramids all the time and you are so right...quick gains of strength and leaning out! I loved them, not to mention it made the guys in the gym look at me funny when I was on the higher end of the DB stack (and they had to wait for me to finish so they could have the DBs). HAven't done them this way in a while. Maybe I'll have to give this a shot again. I just changed things up after doing about 8 weeks of 3x15, so I know I could adjust the rep scheme.

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ILOVEJIM851991 8/23/2012 7:58AM

    I've heard it as pyramiding before this hasn't changed has it? This is a very good workout.

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TINAJANE76 8/23/2012 7:04AM

    Thanks for sharing these very specific ideas. I'll definitely be incorporating these into my next round of strength training!

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MRS.CARLY 8/22/2012 10:35PM

    WOW that is awesome!! Better! I can copy and paste that into my workout notes and it is easy for me to follow.


Thank you thank you thank you!!!

P.S. my husband is in the army and is always asking me for work outs...I passed this one along to him as well!

Comment edited on: 8/22/2012 10:38:44 PM

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MYSTERY-LADY1 8/22/2012 9:27PM

    emoticon

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MRS.CARLY 8/22/2012 9:13PM

    Great blog, maybe list it in like an outline after explaining it, like list the exercise, then reps, rest time, reps (increase weight). You know what I mean? So when I come back to use as a reference I can just scan the outline emoticon

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CMRAND54 8/22/2012 7:04PM

    That is an impressive workout. I'm not surprised he looks as good as he does. I use weight machines, and I love it, but I'm thinking about trying free weights. I'll probably hire a trainer to start with so I use proper form.

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ROVISI 8/22/2012 6:15PM

    I think it was a great blog and it gave me some ideas! I like adding pyramids!

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I HATE Cheat Meals!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Man.... I have a real problem with this whole "Cheat Meal", or worse yet, "Cheat Day" concept.

First of all, could we please stop using the word "cheat"? Cheat makes it sound like if you don't over-indulge in foods that are horrible for you, you've failed your mission. Do you really want to cheat yourself out of your healthy eating plan?

Additionally, for someone who is a recovering binge eater (like me), it's an open invitation to gorge. I can easily do 3,000 or more calories worth of damage in the span of just an hour or two. It's really not that hard. (Proof: At Applebees, 1/2 order of onion rings- 645 calories, Riblets platter- 1700 calories, 1/2 Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae- 775 calories. Total: 3120 calories, even when I shared the appetizer and dessert. And I was drinking un-sweet tea!)

One pound of fat is approximately 3500 calories. If I managed to eat 500 calories less than my daily caloric intake for a week, that should add up to about a pound of weight loss that week (500x7 days in the week=3500 calories). Which would be great, except I pretty much packed all of those calories into the above Applebees meal.

And people wonder why they aren't losing weight with cheat meals.

If we move into a bigger meal, or (God forbid!) an entire cheat day, it's easy to see how weight gain could actually occur, despite eating well 6 days out of 7.

Look, I don't mean to be Negative Nancy about enjoying a treat every once in a while. But I think we need to rethink the way we view foods in regards to how we are going to live our life from here on out. It all really DOES make a difference over the long haul.

In David Greenwalt's book The Leanness Lifestyle (which I have frequently referred to as my Fitness Bible), he purposes a Splurge Meal. This is a much better thing to call it, IMHO. You are not going off the rails with cheating, you are planning an indulgence. And it is going to factor into your weekly caloric intake.

How do you make this work? Personally, during the rest of the week I'd shave another 100 calories off of each day. This gives me 600 calories more out of my diet I can "play" with for my Splurge meal. That's step 1.

Next, I'd cut back on my carbs the day of the planned splurge. I'm taking it out of carbs, because, let's face it: people don't usually splurge on turkey breast.

Here's how I'd put it into action:

I'd bring my regular morning oatmeal from 1/2 C dry measure (before cooking) to 1/4 C. That's 75 calories. I'd probably also skip my fruit for my mid-morning or after-workout snack and have just protein powder. There's another 80 or so calories, all from carbs. Lunch would be reduced by about a single portion of carbs, for about another 80 carb calories. So right there, I've got 235 calories in the bank. Add it to the 600 I managed to cut back on during the week, and I'm 835 calories ahead. Plus, I still have my regular dinner calories to factor in, which is normally about 500 for me. Add that to the 835 I already saved and now I'm at 1335. This I can do.

Now, it's time to plan (not haphazardly wing) that splurge.

Before I go to Applebees, I decide what it is I most want to splurge on. For me, it's the cookie Sundae, which I am going to split with my teen daughter (she's skinny).

Knowing this, I look up the nutritional information online before I ever leave the house. Then when I get to the restaurant I order, according to plan, the 9-ounce house sirloin (I'm hungry!) for 310 calories with the garlic mashed potatoes for 250 calories and the seasonal veggies for about 40 calories. That's 600 calories for a very decent dinner that is still a splurge over what I would normally eat.

Dessert is another 775 for 1/2 of that Cookie Sundae. I'm at 1375 calories, just 40 over my 1335. No big deal.

The trick immediately AFTER the splurge is to stick to the plan. If you are anything like me, you tend to go a bit off of the rails once a splurge has occurred. For me, this means I still have my protein shake before bed, even if I don't feel particularly hungry, just to get myself RIGHT BACK on track.

And what's important is that I did NOT cheat, and I have nothing to feel guilty for.

The closer you get to goal, the more important honesty with yourself and planning like this will be. Fat doesn't take a vacation, so please don't believe it isn't going to show up if you invite it by eating with abandon.

And for Pete's sake, stop calling it a Cheat Meal. At least, in front of me.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MINIMINIV 12/3/2012 2:42AM

    I call it a treat meal!

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MIZINA730 10/23/2012 11:01AM

    I don't do cheat meals and cheat days. I'm nowhere in a position to consider it. If I eat something inadvisable, I get on the bandwagon right away. Before I ever had a weight problem (weighed 100) I planned ahead for occasions such as a wedding reception. I ate very little earlier in the day or at least in consideration of the fact that I would eat without concern later in the day. I did this without much thought. It all made sense and simply seemed the logical thing to do, almost instinctive that if I want to eat wedding cake and dig into the meal, I would take it from somewhere else.

Comment edited on: 10/23/2012 3:42:00 PM

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AMBERNICHOLE3 10/15/2012 5:02PM

    I LOVE this!!! Thank you!

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RASCALRACCOON 10/15/2012 4:58PM

    I LOVE this :) My dietician that has taught me a whole lot of amazing stuff about nutrition and using food in the best possible ways suggested a very similar thing. I was getting too wrapped up in trying to be perfect - and following her meal plans to the T. and when (its never an if) i strayed from that plan (even if it wasnt in a very bad way) I would feel like i had failed / cheated and that opened up th. opportunity for my "oh well might as well just binge on junk for the rest of the day anyway considering its no longer perfect anymore" conversation I would have with myself.
She has given me a GOAL of planning to and following through with having 2 LESS HEALTHY meals in a week - note LESS HEALTHY. i.e have a chicken burger but not with fries. Have a slice or two of pizza but not a whole pizza :) and then at the very next meal I carry on with the plan - which my mind has no problem with as I did not stray from the plan in the first place :)

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LEB0401 9/20/2012 9:11AM

    I'm so glad you posted this! I was wondering what I was going to do since Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas being along too many goodies to decline. Now I'll plan out my indulgences and shave calories accordingly. Thanks so so much!!

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OPTIMIST1948 8/26/2012 5:45PM

    Quick! Everyone hit the LIKE button. Common sense approach is so uncommon now-a-days that I think everyone needs to read this.

Seriously, awesome planning. Great work. I love the idea of a splurge meal and will work on its incorporation into my vocabulary.

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THECRAZYMANGO 8/26/2012 1:21PM

    Thank you for saying this. I have a friend that calls them "cheat" meals as well and it drives me nuts. It's a lifestyle change. A cheat meal reminds me of being on a diet. Even through I struggle, I know I am not on a diet nor have cheat meals!

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KAYOTIC 8/25/2012 12:09PM

    I'm with you on not "cheating" my diet, because really that means cheating me, and I'm not about cheating myself on anything. Treat or splurge, or just living my life is more how I look at it. I don't track my food anymore, and that seems to be working for me, but I do what you do on the "splurge" meal, which is look online before we go out, plan it ahead, and split something indulgent if I decide that's what I want that day. Also for me, the treats usually come after a long day out doing something active (say 4 hours of mountain biking or hiking for 7-8 hours). And even with that I'm still trying to get the "cleanest" meal I can out of it, since I just feel better when I'm eating clean.



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KANSASROSE67 8/23/2012 7:42PM

    Love this blog and I completely agree with you about planning ahead for the treat. BTW, given any possible spulge food in the world, I too would probably go with the Applebees Cookie Sundae!

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GETFIT2LIVE 8/23/2012 12:49PM

    I heartily agree! The whole idea of a "cheat" meal or "cheat" day bothers me. If I'm planning for and allow for that extra calorie intake, it's not cheating, it's a planned indulgence. If this really is a lifestyle, not a diet, there's no need to cheat; there are ways to include almost anything (within reason and in reasonable quantities) in my eating plan, just not every day.

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CONFIDENTLY_FIT 8/20/2012 5:04PM

    I can't eat protein, veggies, and fruit all the time. Call it a splurge, an indulgence, a cheat day, whatever. I just think my body needs something every now and again that is different. Otherwise my taste buds burn out.


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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 8/20/2012 2:01PM

    I just call it "calorie cycling."

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Even the word "splurge" sounds a little too much like going off the rails to me (I'm a recovering binge eater, too - the last thing I need to do is unleash that inner monster! LOL)

Although you didn't mention it here, I suspect that you know and agree with the metabolic reason for planning these deficit breaks. It's not so much an indulgence as a necessity, both for the metabolism and the psyche.

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Comment edited on: 8/20/2012 2:02:10 PM

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CARADAWN 8/20/2012 11:24AM

    I like the idea of a splurge because it implies that you aren't doing something wrong! I love dessert so I try to incorporate it into my meal plans and kind of do something similiar to you and make the calorie count still work with my treats. I know that if I deprive myself I will have a "splurge" day that will turn into two days and so on. It's hard to find what works for each person and I am glad to not be the only person struggling with this emoticon

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BUBBLEJ1 8/20/2012 12:43AM

    My thinking is that I can't cheat because I have nothing to cheat on! I'm not on a diet, I just eat healthy most of the time. If I want the occasional ice cream or dinner out then so be it!

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ROCKMAN6797 8/19/2012 8:29PM

    You were reading my mind! What is the point of eating healthy if you are going to adopt this "cheat" meal concept? Besides the whole concept of eating an unhealthy seems to defeat the purpose of eating healthy. I love the splurge concept and I practice it but I will eat a food that I consider to be healthy, just a bit more. Finally, I understand that there are times where there are no other options immediately available (I have had to endure a few) but to plan for a cheat meal? Insane if you ask me!
(OK, Raśl is getting off his high horse. Thank you for allowing me to vent about a pet peeve!) :)

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BARCLE 8/19/2012 3:38PM

    Excellent and sensible planning - it's realistic too emoticon

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K-GETTING-FIT 8/19/2012 11:23AM

    Gulp! Kristin holds head down and confesses to having called it cheat night. Actually "Cheat Date night". Thing is I never feel guilty and never go over. It's pretty much "eating out night" or maybe "add cheese to our meal" night. Maybe what I need to call it is date night. Think the boyfreind and I kind of like the "naughtiness" of how it sounds. lol Guess I have been lucky this time around and have never felt a sense of it being out of control, or that I am getting off plan because of it. Just like not calling this a diet anymore. For someone who has struggled with an ED this is HUGE! We really prefer to eat at home where we see what is going into our meals. Also think that it may be a little different for me having had a purging disorder that never really had binges. My struggle lies in getting in enough food.

So, I will change the "cheat" verbage for next Tuesday. It will just be a get together with friends that will include 1 beer and the usual...Kristin checking out the menu online before I get there to help me make healthier choices:)

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ANDASI 8/19/2012 3:56AM

    Thank you for this blog i very much agree with you. Cheat negative conatation. I personaly am an emotional eater so as soon as i eat sweets i want more of it and i find myself thinking about it a lot once i have a taste of it and i find myself wanting to repeat the experience so it's just too much to bear so i just go without.

I am not in a place where i would be able to have a small serving of sweets and i dont know if i ever will be able to do that ? It is safer for me to not have it.

Any time that i think about having some sort of dessert my brain automaticaly think big serving i want a huge bowl or plate of it i want to devour it i think this is called binge eating and i only have this with sweets this insatiable apetite.




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TINARETTER 8/18/2012 7:05PM

    It is amazing what planning can do for us. Loved your blog. Keep them coming. emoticon emoticon

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ARMSPORTS 8/18/2012 12:32PM

    I agree with what you're saying but I do allow for indulgences or cheats with some of my clients. It just depends on their individual situation. Many of the athletes I train simply cannot eat enough "healthy" food to meet their caloric demands, so these high caloric meals are necessary occasionally to keep glycogen stores filled and insure recovery. With some of my college student clients, I give them "time off" windows because I know they are going to party with their friends so we might as well account for it and keep it part of the plan. Even athletes in serious strength training mode have so much muscle mass that they need these extra calories to support growth. The key in these cases is to keep the overall nutrition and exercise plan on point and use these cheats as necessary.

Thanks for the great blogs Nancy!

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ILOVEJIM851991 8/18/2012 7:15AM

    sounds like a plan to me

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RADBUNNY 8/18/2012 12:17AM

    I love your point of view. Thank so much for th outlook. I will try to remember that in the future. Unfortunately today was not a good day since I was super busy and didn't plan ahead well. We had pizza(which is not in my plan). I'm still new and struggle with what to do on busy day situations. Love reading your blogs and thanks for sharing with us. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SCOUTMOM715 8/17/2012 11:56PM

    Another excellent blog Nancy!!! emoticon

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MISSUSRIVERRAT 8/17/2012 10:53PM

    Excellent point of view. I agree with you 100%.

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IRP1114 8/17/2012 6:20PM

    Great blog Nancy! Love the way you explain exactly how you make your splurge work with your plan. Thank you so much for sharing.

You are so right about how easy it is to over do it! Way too easy. I have been working all year on breaking my bad habits of over doing it on the weekends with whole days off. Some are better than others but I am getting better at it. Of course i do include real whole foods too. But calories add up one way or another.

I hope to one day be in as much control of things as you are!!! Keep sharing your awesome tips. Love your honest and very helpful blogs.
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HDHAWK 8/17/2012 5:56PM

    I had a trainer at one time and she told me a "cheat" meal meant eating a small dessert or an extra carb, all within one hour, no longer. It worked well.

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SARASMILINGINKC 8/17/2012 4:37PM

    LOL at Negative Nancy! You crack me up!

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LITTLEDUTCH 8/17/2012 3:56PM

    I agree with you. I don't like cheat meals either. Once I start it's hard to stop. I love how you plan you splurge in advance and stick to it. Way to go!

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Tip For Females to Adjust Cardio Calories Burned

Sunday, August 05, 2012

I have a tip I use when figuring out how many cardio calories I have burned. This stems from something I read in David Greenwalt's book "The Leanness Lifestyle", which I consider my fitness bible. In the book he states that it's reasonable to assume that a man working very hard burns 10 calories a minute and a woman 8. Since he goes off of scientific studies and not hunches, I trust David's book and the things he says in it.

I've always felt like cardio machines are a little generous when it comes to how many calories they say I burn. I wanted to adjust it to be on the safe side of realistic for my logging purposes. So, working off of the 10/8 rule above, it's fair to guess that we women burn about 80% of the number of calories men doing performing the same activity at the same intensity. (8 is 80% of 10.) I assume the machine thinks I am a man, since while I have had a machine ask my weight and age, I've yet to see one that asks my gender. Given that, I take the total amount of calories it says I've burned and reduce it by 20% to give me 80%. (This is easier mental math for me than multiplying it by 80%)

So if I worked out on the elliptical machine for 45 minutes and it says I burned 450 calories, I assume I burned roughly 360 calories. (20% of 450 is 90: 450 minus 90 is 360.)

To break it down even further for my usually-exhausted mind at the end of a tough cardio workout, I just double what 10% is to come up with the 20% number, since 10% is easier to tell at a glance. So in the case of the elliptical workout above, 45 is 10% of 450. 45 times two is 90. So 90 is 20%, or what I need to subtract from the total the machine is giving me.

Everyone following?

My personal method for logging my food and exercise is in my Weight Watchers tracker, which we all know uses a point system instead of calories. I assume every 50 calories is 1 Weight Watchers point. So I round the number I came up with (360) down (not EVER up- I am trying to err on the side of caution) to the nearest 50. For the aforementioned elliptical workout, this would give me 350. Then I just divide by 50 to come up with the number of Points to check off in my exercise tracker- in this case 7. (350 divided by 50 is 7.)

This is all very rough and by no means terribly accurate, but I've found it's a good way to guess.

If you are a man, forget it. As long as you entered your age and weight into the machine, just go with the number it gives you. If you are a man using the Weight Watchers system, round that number down to the nearest 50, divide by 50, and there 'ya got your exercise points.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARMSPORTS 8/8/2012 10:29AM

    This is good info. Do you have a rule of thumb you follow for circuit-type resistance training by chance? Also, how do you account for the afterburn? (or EPOC the exercise physiologists!)

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K-GETTING-FIT 8/8/2012 8:45AM

    Thanks for sharing! I have to admit that I haven't been counting calories burned. gasp:-0 I've been pretty much just looking at minutes & RPE. Same goes with calories, but look at the range I am in as a guide. Was afraid to get into it in the beginning because I thought it might trigger the old OCD and ED. I am still losing, but will take a look at it when I stop losing. I do take a look at the numbers on the treadmill and on Spark, but it seems to be all over the place. Funny how sometimes I am a real sweaty mess with an activity and the number seems low and other activities seem way too high. I will try your formula when I start counting those #s.


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ROCKMAN6797 8/6/2012 10:05PM

    Great information. I tend to distrust the number a cardio machine will spit back at you. I rather use the 10 calories per minute method instead. I am very interested in using a HRM but have yet to purchase one.

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TANYAP71 8/6/2012 6:19AM

    My HRM suggests that the machines at my gym are off by 25% for me. I take that into account and also subract 1 cal/min for BMR. How do you work BMR into tracking exercise calories?

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IRP1114 8/5/2012 9:05PM

    Cool :-) thanks for sharing your methods! I just go by my heart rate monitor. My treadmill always says at least 100 calories more burned! Sometimes up to 300 more. So you are right about how off they can be!

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