Wednesday, May 04, 2011
I'm an old timer around here. My 5th Spark anniversary is coming up. I joined Spark on July 3, 2007.
I first started my fitness journey a year before in 2006. I was a member of eDiets during that time. When I found Spark, I switched. Why? Well, Spark is free, and it was just as good!
When I left Colorado to move to Seattle, I weighed 160 lbs. I think. I may have weighed more. You know how anorexics see themselves as fatter than they really are? Well I had the opposite problem. I thought I was thinner than I really was. Mostly from denial. I had never been overweight before. I saw myself as needing to lose a few pounds, but, no no, I couldn't be overweight.
But I wasn't just overweight. I was the other "O" word. Obese.
The first year I lived in Seattle, I didn't have much money as I was paying off a sizable debt left by ex-boyfriend in the form of a car loan I was stuck with. I didn't have a bathroom scale forever. Probably because of the denial thing.
I was doing a ton of walking in Seattle, and I was eating better by default. There were so many healthy options. Why would I eat at McDonald's when there was delicious Vietnamese pho noodle soup that cost only $4 a bowl?
One day, I discovered that my size 12 pants didn't fit me anymore. They were practically sliding off my hips. I wasn't even trying to lose weight at that point.
I went to buy new clothes. I bought a bathroom scale. I weighed 145. I was stunned! I lost 15lbs by walking around the city, and eating pho noodle soup! I wasn't even trying!
That's when I started to get serious about nutrition and diet. I joined eDiets (then later Spark) in order to learn how to prepare nutritious meals. I learned to cook. I started off my exercise with Dance, Dance Revolution on my Playstation 2. Then I bought a bike and rode it for 1 hour every day after work.
If there was a ranking for the number of topics on the message board, then "Why isn't the scale moving?!" would be at the top. If not #1.
If you are obese, then scale weight is more significant. Scale weight not moving is almost always due to nutrition. Obesity creates problems with mobility, so nutrition is more important. When you hit the overweight range, exercise becomes a more important factor.
When you start to hit the average range, weight is more stable and it's harder to tell whether you are losing fat. You have to use other tools other than the scales.
A myth that is perpetuated on the message boards is you might not be losing weight because you're gaining muscle. Gaining muscle is very hard for women to do. Gaining muscle while in a calorie deficit to lose fat is nearly impossible (unless you are very overweight or very out of shape - see below). As you get more fit, you maintain lean mass, but not gain. Gain requires a very disciplined routine.
Ask any professional bodybuilder. Losing fat while gaining muscle is the holy grail of bodybuilding, and it is very hard for them to do. They have way more disciplined diets and training that the average dieter.
In bodybuilding, they eat MORE calories than they burn while engaging in a weight lifting regime. This builds muscle. It also adds fat. This is called 'bulking'. Just before a competition, they start 'cutting'. They eat LESS calories than they burn while engaging in cardio. They lose fat for that super lean competition form that we are more familiar with, and also a small amount of muscle.
Calorie In GT Calorie Out + Weight Lifting = ++Muscle / +Fat
Calorie In LT Calorie Out + Cardio = --Fat / -Muscle
The latter is what most dieters are familiar with. This is why Spark recommends resistance training along with dieting, to maintain lean mass. If you diet alone, you will lose lean mass at an accelerated rate. This is bad.
The body requires a lot of calories to build muscle that you don't get when in a calorie deficit to lose fat. The average Spark dieter gaining muscle while reducing calories? If you are very overweight or very out of shape, yes. Your body will adapt and build muscle more quickly, even in deficit.
As you get more fit, muscle gains becomes more difficult. It starts to flatten out. Weight fluctuations are more likely to be the body storing and releasing water due to increased activity.
What I do is look for the averages. In an average week, my weight may go up or down. But at the end of the week, it should be a net average down.
At my level, it's getting harder and harder to manage a calorie deficit. I burn 1700 calories on a typical work day (according to my BodyMedia Fit device) Eating 1400 calories puts me at a deficit of 300 calories per day. My averages are actually a deficit of about 230 calories per day. That's about 1600 calorie deficit, or half a pound per week.
This is the stage where many people panic. Why is the scale moving so slowly? Well, as you get healthier, you are going to lose fat at a slower rate. Time to get measuring tape and track that instead.
I could cut more calories, or exercise more. I'm trying to work up to 60 minutes of exercise a day. At the moment, it's a motivation problem, not a fitness problem. I can physically handle 60 minutes. It's just getting my butt up to do it. I've been doing 30 minutes, then getting bored and calling it a day.
Last night, my fiance finally came with me to the gym. He stepped on the scale and I took his measurements. He wants to do 30 minutes every day after work. Yay!! So I am going to do 30 minutes in the morning, then 30 after work with him. Breaking it up should help me meet my 60 minute goal.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
I watched this season's episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC's website last night. I'm absolutely stunned by the political stonewalling by the school superintendant of LA who is preventing Jamie from taking a look at their school lunch program.
I was fortunate that while growing up, we had fresh vegetables and fruit with our meals at home. That doesn't mean my childhood house was processed food free. We had fully leaded Coke, Twinkies, and Snickers bars, which is probably the reason why I have dental fillings in almost all of my molars.
When I moved out on my own, I had no idea how to prepare a healthy meal for myself. I had a misguided belief that eating out at restaurants cost less than making it at home. I cleaned off my plate because I was taught to do so. I didn't know I was eating 1000-2000 calories in one sitting. I made excuses that didn't "have time" to cook, but what it really meant was I didn't know how. I blamed weight gain on "slow metabolism" when I was 26 years old. I gained 40 lbs in less than 6 months, putting me in the obese category for the first time in my life. 40 lbs may not sound like a lot, but I am 5'0". 160lbs was obese.
When I learned to cook and how to properly balance my meals with starches, veggies, and protein, I lost weight. Fortunately for me, I had a foundation of veggies and fruit to start with.
On the "Food Revolution" TV show, it's shocking to see so many children who don't have a foundation at all. Last season, the kids who couldn't identify a tomato floored me.
I don't remember my school cafeteria food being particularly tasty, but it wasn't as bad as the kids in this season. We had a hot lunch program in elementary school, but it was terrible. I still have food nightmares about the goulash and meatloaf. For most of middle school and high school, my lunches consisted of a Coke and a bag of Doritoes. The Doritoes bags were a lot smaller back then. They were 1 serving size. I visited my high school recently. Now the Doritoes are the larger "King" size with 2 servings.
However bad my elementary school goulash was, it was better than the plastic wrapped donuts in this season's episode where Jamie asks the kids to bring their school lunches to him, since the LA school board isn't allowing him in the schools.
And I thought the last season the people were resistant to change. At least the school officials knew something had to change. At the moment, the LA school board is nothing bunch of soulless bastards that care more about protecting the status quo, and nothing about the health of the children. It makes me seething angry.
It is not ok that 1/3 of Americans are obese. It's not ok that children can't identify a vegetable. It's not ok that a child can't identify a tomato because they have never eaten a fresh one.
My mom worked as a housekeeper at a hotel. It's a back breaking manual labor job. I hate scrubbing my bathtub, sink, and toilet one day a week. My mom did it 6 days a week for 10-13 studio apartment sized rooms per day for 20 years.
However, she always made meals when she came home. Was she tired? You bet. But she never complained. Taking care of her family was also her job. I can sympathize with not wanting to come home and cook dinner, but it is possible to do as quickly as it takes to order a pizza and wait for it to arrive. Sometimes my mom would come home with a box of Popeye's chicken or pizza, but this was about once a month.
My dad worked the night shift. I came home from school, my dad got ready for work, and my mom prepared us a dinner. We would clean up, my dad left for work. She then spent an hour or so preparing things ahead of time for the next day's meals. She watched TV for about an hour before going to bed, waking up at 5AM to do it all over again. She snacked on apples, grapes, and oranges.
Her techniques of preparing marinades, chopping all veggies ahead of time, and setting the rice cooker in the morning are all techniques that I learned to do from her.
I often wonder when watching this program, if my mom hadn't prepared fresh vegetables with every meal, didn't snack from a fruit bowl, and didn't prep food ahead of time, would I be doing it now? Was it easier for me to integrate salads and fruit into my diet because I started with that tradition growing up? Would I know that it's possible to throw an entire meal together in 30 minutes after a hard days work with just a little prep ahead dicing lettuce and onions, and marinating meats the night before?
My answer is, maybe not. Or at least, it would have been a much, much more difficult road to come to. My mom set the foundation, even if it took me a long time to come to it.
If you have young children, you have to set the example. What you do now, will have a profound effect on them. In the wild, a mother teaches her cub how to find food. We are no different. If you don't eat apples, your kids won't eat apples.
As much as an example as my mom is, I am improving on a few things. My house is 90% processed food free. No Twinkies, cookies, hot dogs, Lean Cuisines, or 'luncheon meat', for starters. I have a few crackers (organic whole wheat, no chemical sounding ingredients) and canned tomatoes in my cupboard. That's about it.
I fully support Jamie Oliver in changing America's school lunches. I don't have kids now. However, I am hoping if we have children, they will be on the better end of change by the time they start school.
If you haven't seen "Food Revolution" yet, you can watch episodes 1 and 2 of season 2 here.
Monday, May 02, 2011
The homemade yogurt is a hit! I'm already running low!
The things I have made so far:
- Daily breakfast: yogurt, blueberries, and cereal
- Cucumber raita: yogurt, mint, cucumbers, and cumin
- Creamy wine sauce for lamb: pan deglazed with red wine, then mixed with small amount of yogurt
- "Sour cream" for a steak burrito.
I bought a small pack of yogurt starters when we were at Whole Foods over the weekend. I plan to make a vegan yogurt since I have soymilk leftover from my mushroom stroganoff. I'm curious about it.
After that, I estimate it will cost $3 per week to make a quart of yogurt. $2.50 for a half gallon of milk, and approximately $0.50 per packet for the yogurt starter. I plan many more yogurt recipes for the summer, including frozen yogurt!
Sunday, May 01, 2011
This past weekend, we went on a mini vacation to Florida! We originally went to see Space Shuttle Endeavor's final launch, but it was canceled. We missed probably our only opportunity to see a shuttle launch. :( The timing doesn't work out for us for the remaining launches - sniff. One guy said he drove 1,500 miles from Michigan to Cape Canaveral. We met another guy at our hotel who came from Toronto.
Staying on track while on the road is tough. When we got to Daytona Beach on the way to Titusville (where the Shuttle Launch viewing area is), we stopped at a pub for dinner. I took a look at the menu, and nearly got sidetracked. However, I opted for the Southwest grilled steak salad. This was a good choice. I asked for the dressing on the side. It was a large salad with the right size portion of steak strips on top. Perfect!
The following morning, we stopped at a Bob Evans for breakfast. After the previous night's success, I didn't do so well at breakfast. I ordered the fry up breakfast of eggs, sausage, potato hash, and biscuit. We shared the pancakes that came with the fiance's order, split into 8ths.
This is a test. Using your training from Spark, tell me, how many calories is this? Don't cheat!! Don't look it up! I challenge you to do it off the top of your head!
1 over easy egg: ?
1 large buttermilk biscuit: ?
2 large pancakes: ?
2 sausage links: ?
1 serving home fries: ?
Answer at the end of the blog!
As disappointed as we were about not getting to see a launch, that wasn't the only thing we had planned. We had tickets for Universal Studios in Orlando that we've been waiting to use. We were on our way to Universal Studios Island Adventures - my favorite theme park!
While on the drive to Orlando, we opted for a healthy lunch at a local grocery store. We bought 6" sub sandwiches and shared a fruit bowl.
After checking into our hotel, we went out for dinner. We went to a Brazilian steakhouse for a "rodizio". If you aren't familiar with a rodizio, it's a restaurant where servers come to your tables with meat on skewers. They typically have beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and sausages. The servers slice off a piece for you. You have a card on your table that you can flip "green" when you want more meat, or flip "red" when you want to take a break.
Normally, this can be quite a problem for me. However, I filled up on the salad bar and veggies. I skipped the bread portion. I ate probably about 6-8 oz of meat in total, which is on the high side. However, believe me, this is an improvement. There was a time when I used to stuff myself with 12-16oz at a rodizio. Maybe more.
The next day, we were going for rollercoasters! We didn't know what to do for breakfast, and ended up going to a Chik-fil-a. I looked briefly at the menu, but I couldn't find a healthy option. I didn't really want the chicken biscuit sandwich, but ended up getting it anyway.
We had a great time at the theme park. We went on the new Harry Potter ride, which was AWESOME! Definitely one of the most unique rollercoaster experiences I've ever had. It's part rollercoaster ride, part interactive movie. The premise of the theme is Hermine makes us muggles able to fly in our rollercoaster cart, and we go off with Harry on a Quaddich stick, dodging dragons and other baddies.
Here I am at "Hogwarts".
I had a "Butterbeer". It's like a strawberry cream soda. I strongly recommend sharing with someone. It is very sweet, and a total calorie bomb. We shared half, then decided we had enough.
After hanging with Harry, we visit Jurassic Park!
Oh no!! T-Rex!! Help! Help!
Whew! After running away from dinosaurs, it's time for a snack. While theme parks are loaded with tons of bad food, there are healthy options. We found a few places that had rotisserie chickens. Still have to watch out for portion sizes. The fiance and I opted for a smoked turkey leg, french fries, a corn on the cob, and shared it between us. They also had a fresh fruit salad cup.
Here I am polishing off the turkey leg.
After lunch, we continued on our rollercoaster adventure. Here I am overlooking the Incredible Hulk ride - which is still one of my favorites.
After a full day at the park, we headed to a Whole Foods that was in the area for dinner. Going to the salad bar, I put together a healthy salad plate. Pasta, veggies, and 1/4lb grilled steak. I also had fresh olives, you can see a little in the corner.
This morning, we went back to Whole Foods where I had a whole wheat bagel, cream cheese and coffee. About 470 calories. For lunch, we shared a Chipotle steak bowl with guacamole. About 640 calories total, but 320 shared.
Now, back to the quiz. How many calories were in my breakfast on Friday?
1 over easy egg: 95
1 large buttermilk biscuit: 380
2 large pancakes: 2x150 = 300
2 sausage links: 230
1 serving home fries: 160
Wow. A whole day's calories!
So...how much did I eat?
Half the home fries were left. I took a nibble off the biscuit. I ate only 1/8 of the pancake.
A total of 570 calories. Definitely on the high side. I'm glad I didn't eat all of it.
As far as meals away from home, this was one of my better attempts.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I'm going to be out this weekend, so today is a two-fer blog day!
I posted a quick status feed update yesterday that my yogurt maker arrived! Yay! Last night I made my first batch of yogurt, which was ready this morning! Perfect timing, as I just ran out of yogurt!
Just a quick blurb about it.
For a yogurt starter, I used what little of my regular yogurt I had left, which is Chobani. I also bought a generic supermarket brand. I only had enough Chobani left to make one jar, but I used them both so I could do a taste test comparison.
Here's the yogurt maker.
And because I have to, kitty playing in the box it came in.
Super cute little 6 oz jars. Perfect! Can you say portion sizes? :D I washed them all prior to use.
I measured the milk. I used whole milk because that's what I had for making gelato this week. I think I got something off in my measurements, though, because I ended up with more milk than would fit in my jars. I used 1.3 liters like it said in the directions, but I think 1 liter would have been fine. I'll adjust next time.
I put my candy/deep fryer thermometer in my saucepan with the milk.
When it hit 180 degrees, I poured the milk in bowls to cool. I should have made an ice bath. The larger bowl took a long time to cool, and I was eager to get moving! When the temperature cooled to 110, I mixed the Chobani in the smaller bowl, and the storemarket brand in the larger bowl.
I put the mixtures into the jars (no lids). I found using a turkey baster was the easiest way to do this. I set the timer for 12 hours.
Ate dinner. Wrote blogs. Went to bed. Woke up and the kitchen smelled like yogurt!
I let the jars cool to room temperature before putting the lids on.
I did a quick taste test. The Chobani starter tasted better than the store market brand. Oh well. Sometimes the store market brand is just as good. In this case, it wasn't. I will experiment with other yogurt brands to see which I like the best. But the homemade with Chobani starter tastes better than Chobani!
The consistency came out the same as a regular American yogurt. While I really like the thick consistency of Greek yogurt, I'm fine with the consistency as is for my daily breakfast. I'll strain it to make it "Greek" when making desserts.
One additional note. Because the Chobani is a greek yogurt, it was more difficult to mix with the milk! I recommend whisking it with a little milk in a smaller bowl before mixing it into the main batch, to make it a little easier.
I made my usual breakfast. Yogurt sweetened with a little honey, thawed frozen blueberries, and crushed cereal.
Because there are 7 jars, that's perfect for a weekly supply of breakfast! I usually eat my yogurt, blueberry, and cereal fare during the weekdays. I'll use the 2 extra jars to make raita or other yogurt based recipe.
Update: I added the Spark recipe with nutrition info here: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Get An Email Alert Each Time VHALKYRIE Posts