Monday, October 01, 2012
Start of fall. This is my favorite time of year. The cooler weather is quite welcome in the South. While I used to look forward to getting out in the summer time, I now find it too hot to be outdoors where I live! Spring and fall tend to be my optimal time for walking on beaches and enjoying strolls in the park.
It is also my favorite time of year for cooking. Warm soups, stews, and roasts. Mmm mmm mmm.
Unfortunately, it also tends to be the time of year when I start gaining back the weight I lost in the summer.
So my October goals are to beat the historical trend. There must be a way to at very least maintain. Weight loss may not be likely due to the birthdays and holidays that comes up in my circles at this time of year. But maintenance would sure help. It would be nice to not have all my work undone for a change.
I mentioned that I tend to be outside more in the fall, so it might seem odd if I say that I become less active. It's true that I am outside more, but I believe I get exercise more regularly in the summer when I'm working out indoors. Again, this is due to the environment where I live. Walking around in the summer afternoon is asking for heat stroke in the South.
My September goals got completely blown apart, so I am already out of routine with my exercise. And I'm feeling it. I am not liking the fit of my clothes. I haven't rebounded, but the warning signs are there. First order of business is getting back to my morning exercise. I don't have a lot of things going on at the moment that would prevent me from making this routine (school plans fell apart for this semester).
Only blocking issue is motivation. I'm out of the routine, so it's tough to kickstart back into the habit. Just gotta get it done.
The next issue is diet. My love of soups, stews and roasts could actually help me in this regard, actually. Soups can be extremely cost and calorie efficient, depending on how you make them. Although I am not a low-fat dieter, I have never been a fan of heavy cream based soups. I always preferred clean, light soups. I just made a batch of chicken soup last night that I'll eat all week. Without the addition of rice or potatoes, it is a very low calorie/low carb lunch.
I've done a pretty good job of tapering back my wine/beer consumption. I'm cutting it back simply because I can do without the extra calories at the moment.
The only trouble spot I foresee immediately is I still have birthday cake left. Time to invite neighbors over to help us finish it, I guess!
Good luck on your October goals!
Sunday, September 30, 2012
One of the topics that I vacillate over is whether exercise, diet or both are more important for weight loss/maintenance.
We can cite all the studies and research we want, but I maintain a high degree of skepticism due to my personal observations that contradicts most of the accepted standards.
Calorie in - calorie out does not work for me. Either variable - exercise expended or calories consumed - does not result in better weight loss for me in isolation.
I got a lot of exercise when I lived in WA - hiking, biking, and kayaking - but I reached a limit where I lost no more. Adding more exercise was not feasible - I was already exercising 1 hour per day and 4 hours on the weekend. More exercise meant overexercising and fatigue.
I had the most success losing weight with minimal exercise by eating low-carb, but a diminishing return was eventually reached.
As I've mentioned before, my mom worked a manual labor job for more than 20 years and remained thin. After retiring, she put on about 30 lbs in a year. A clear result of less exercise and probably more food. When she's home all the time, there's a tendency to munch even when not hungry.
I remain of the opinion that diet and exercise are both required, and there is an optimal balance. More exercise will not fix a bad diet. In tandem, a good diet will not reap benefit unless there is regular activity.
Exercise also has benefits beyond that of weight loss or maintenance, as I learned with my dad. My dad's lung capacity is reduced because of his extreme inactivity over the decade. My advice if you want to live to your golden years without carrying an oxygen tank: get regular exercise and don't stop, even as you get older.
With this in mind, I'm starting my fall goals tomorrow, which I'll write about later.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Warning: As the title suggests, there are pictures of cakes in the blog! Do not proceed if you're one of those people who can't look at sweet treats without danger!
I'm back! It's been a busy, busy month. My dad is on the mend, and I'm back home. It's taking a while to get back into my normal routines.
I'm excited for the fall. Fall is my favorite time of year, mostly because of the cooler weather. With cooler weather means soups and stews!
My mom and I both had birthdays this month, so I've been trying out my new skills with baking. Moderation is one of those difficult things to master. Many people give themselves one 'treat' day a week. My idea of moderation may seem more extreme. I go for months. I find things easier if I don't have the temptation around. It's easy for "once a week" to turn into more frequent, or a binge splurge.
But birthdays and holidays are certainly occasions when cakes or pies are called for!
Baking has always been an enigma to me. Cooking I feel pretty confident with - lots of tasting and understanding flavor combinations. Cooking can be done on the fly with just a few ingredients on hand. But baking is a science - exactly the right amounts are needed, and added at the correct time. Shows like "Sweet Genius" amazed me. How are they people able to bake cakes on the fly like that?
I bought this really awesome book called "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman a few months ago. Now I know how "Sweet Geniuses" can do it. The book explains ratios needed to make breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, and creme anglaise (custard). I can make a number of baked goods without a recipe, thanks to this book. My husband, the Englishman, loves my pastry crust on savory pies - his favorite meal. I probably don't know the nuances to a perfect pastry crust because I've never been formally trained, but thanks to the book, I can make a consistently good one.
Wait, wait. What about that avoiding wheat and sugar thing?
It's that occasional thing. I never claimed to be a purist. But I don't eat it every day. I go weeks, even months, without breads, pasta or sugary treats. Knowing what I do, it makes me take pause and consider whether I really want the calories and the subsequent side effects. When I decide to partake, I make sure that it counts.
Like birthday cake.
Using what I learned from the "Ratio" book, I made my mom a layered lemon cake. I took inspiration from a "Victoria Sponge Cake" and added a jam and frosting center.
The only problem was the baking time was a little off because I made it at high altitude, and it came out a little drier than I liked. Marinating it in a little cognac helped moisten it! The family enjoyed it.
For my birthday, I made a chocolate rum cake! Similar to the one we had at our wedding. I certainly won't win any awards for cake decorating, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in taste! It came out exactly the way I wanted it. Chocolatey flavor and spiced rum throughout. The chocolate cream cheese rum frosting I made came out oh so silvery and luxurious.
I made both cakes without following a recipe! Cake baking is surprisingly quick when you know the formula. I had everything prepped and baked in an hour.
Many foods made from scratch are healthier for you. I'm not going to pretend that a home baked cake is 'healthier' than store bought. Sure, ingredients in store bought cakes have a laundry list of stabilizers and mine have only eggs, butter, flour and sugar. My family and I agree that it also tastes better. But I still wouldn't call ANY cake 'healthy'. Eggs, butter, flour and sugar are all natural ingredients, but in that combination raises insulin, blood sugar, triglycerides, and increases risk of weight gain. They are treat foods, to be enjoyed on occasion.
Some of my family and friends on Facebook wanted to know why I made the cakes. Why not just save the trouble and buy from the store? If making it from scratch doesn't necessarily make it 'healthier', why go through the trouble?
Well, as I said, making it start to finish only took 1 hour. I don't see the time aspect as an issue. The ingredients cost me probably $12 (the rum being the most expensive component!), which is cheaper than an equivalent bakery birthday cake, but cost wasn't my main motivation.
My main motivation was I have a greater appreciation for the foods I put in my body when I make it myself. When I see what it takes to add as much butter, eggs, flour and sugar to make a great cake, it makes me want to eat less of it. Because that sure is a LOT of butter, eggs, flour and sugar that goes into a cake. Knowing what's in it makes me eat smaller portions, rather than helping myself to a whopping huge slice topped with ice cream.
There are recipes that use artificial sweeteners to reduce sugar content. I have experimented with a number of baked recipes using almond flour. But that alters the chemistry of baking again. I don't want to get in the habit of eating a lot of sweet goods frequently, so for the most part I abstain from even 'low carb baking'. There's a false sense of security that it's 'better' to eat low-fat or low-carb desserts. I don't think any of these should be eaten on a regular basis.
I'd rather eat a small amount of something 'real', rather than a large amount of something that is supposed to be an alternative or substitute. Most of my baking has focused on make very small single serving petit-four type desserts that I can whip up on the fly.
Knowing the baking ratios allows me to make as little or as much as I want. I don't have to follow a recipe that makes 32 servings of cake! (Scaling down from a large quantity recipe doesn't always work - how do you measure 1/16th of an egg?) I can make a treat for two instead. I know what I'm getting without a calorie counter because I'm responsible for putting every ingredient into it.
There's more cake here than I normally make because birthday cakes are for sharing!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
A follow up with my dad's surgeon says he's healing very well. No sign of infection at all. She again emphasized that he needs to eat lots of protein and yogurt to continue healing. My dad says he doesn't like yogurt, so I'm going to buy probiotic supplements for him instead. My parents would probably buy the sugary yogurt crap anyway, so I'd rather he take the supplements.
I'm feeling much better after meeting with the surgeon. I should be able to go home as planned next week.
I admit I'm a little surprised after meeting with the doctors. As you know, I've become very wary of Western medicine and 'conventional' wisdom regarding nutrition. My dad's doctors and nurses are exceptionally well informed, and I haven't found myself disagreeing with them at all. The surgeon and nurses recommended plenty of protein and very little sugar or starches. They didn't recommend limiting fat at all; fat that comes naturally with the protein is fine.
Exactly what I've been saying.
So I'm wondering if it's the doctors that are pushing the meds, or the patients. It's concerning to me to see people who would rather take pills than exercise or throw away the Debbie Cakes. My dad has thrown away the sugary treats since my last visit, so I feel a lot better about that.
My dad lost weight and healed nicely eating more protein, vegetables, and calories. It's kind of an alien concept these days that eating more protein and calories will make us healthier. My dad has to take his vitals every day as part of his followup. His blood pressure and blood glucose levels are all within excellent ranges. The glowing praise from the doctors and nurses are making my parents feel reassured.
Eating more protein will NOT lead to high cholesterol or high blood pressure as long as they aren't accompanied by high glycemic foods. Protein and fat do not cause blood glucose to rise; high glycemic carbs do. This is the main concept that I've emphasized.
Poor compliance rates in taking medications might also lead to the misconception that certain diets or meds would work, if only people would take it.
The studies I've read all show very poor clinical results with cholesterol lowering medications. Yet statins are currently the top selling medication in North America. I wonder why that is. Is it because doctors believe their patients aren't following the directions?
Any disruption in my schedule usually leads me to fall off track and gain weight. I've done well since I've been here, though. I haven't been getting a lot of exercise. I've taken a few walks around the block, but I've mainly been busy shuttling my parents between nurses and doctors. I've lost 2 lbs. I don't know if it's due to the stress, though!
My dad has an appointment with a cardiologist today, which is the last major followup. If this all checks out, then it's back to the normal routine.
Friday, September 07, 2012
My dad is doing great. He's looking and feeling a lot stronger.
As I mentioned in previous blog, I've taken over the kitchen. He did have a few concerns about my dietary changes. He thought he was eating too much food.
These types of anxieties have reasons, so I talked with him. The appendix normally joins the small and large intestines. I discovered that he's concerned about tearing his intestines from where they were fused together when the appendix was removed. So he didn't want to eat too much.
I told him to write down what he had to eat so he could talk to the nurse about it.
Well, after talking to the nurse, she was absolutely beaming about what he's eating. She said protein and veggies are just what he needs to heal. He felt sufficiently reassured that he asked for breakfast and a snack without additional prodding!
I guess 'kids' might know something after all!
My dad and I talked about nutrition this morning. I told him I avoid wheat products, eat 3 eggs per day, real butter, protein and vegetables. I told him about the book "Wheat Belly", and how modern wheat is heavily modified. My dad said he noticed since he stopped eating daily bread, he doesn't feel so bloated anymore. I nodded in agreement.
The last time I visited my parents, I was appalled. Their kitchen was full of breads, cereals, cookies, and sugary snack bars. When I arrived earlier in the week, I noticed they got rid of almost all of it. However, processed 'luncheon' meats and other packaged foods have made an appearance. I'm gently trying to reverse this, too. I made a pot roast last night with fresh meat and veggies, which earned high praises from my parents for the tenderness and flavor. My mom asked me for the recipe so she can make it again.
Today the weather made a cooler turn, so I'm cooking a beef stew. As always, it's made with simple, whole ingredients. Cubed chuck roast, beef broth, onions, celery, carrots, thyme, can of organic diced tomatoes, salt and pepper in a crockpot. That's it. The tomatoes are the only item that aren't in its direct form. However, I used it because the only ingredients listed are tomatoes and salt. It's really hard to buy fresh, good tasting tomatoes in Colorado, so I prefer to use the canned in this case for better flavor and nutrition.
I'm fortunate that my parents are open minded people. They've listened to my suggestions and are making changes. My mom made the comment that the 'younger' generation knows more about current research.
There are still challenges. My dad is on cholesterol lowering medications, which I am highly concerned about. I can't directly challenge his doctor's advice because I don't hold a MD. But I've gently made the suggestion maybe he can talk to his doctor that if his numbers continue to look good, they can reduce or eliminate some of his meds.
Especially the cholesterol. I explained to him what cholesterol is, why it's important, and the difference between good and 'bad'. Western medicine is in love with statins at the moment (highly profitable), so this is going to be a tough sell. But giving my dad information might open a path for a conversation to persuade the doc, "Hey, my numbers look good, why do I need these?"
I might give my dad a copy of "Wheat Belly" to give him food for thought before I leave. Maybe I can persuade him to give the book to his doc after he finishes it!
Get An Email Alert Each Time VHALKYRIE Posts