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Burning Calories

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When I'm motoring at level 8 on the elliptical cross trainer, at my current weight of 137-138 pounds, it takes me a full minute of sweaty effort to burn just 14-15 calories.

That means:

One minute of all-out exercise is what it takes to use up the calories in four sweet cherries.

It's just over two minutes to burn 1 serving of fat free sugar free yogourt.

Four minutes to dispatch a serving of low calorie hot chocolate. Or two slices of low fat chicken.

Just over five minutes to equal the calories in a medium apple.

A moderate 10 piece serving of potato chips, say 200 calories? That would be over thirteen minutes of continuous hard work! But would I stop at 200 calories worth, once I'd started?? As if. Not remotely likely.

If nothing else, time at the gym is time when I'm not eating. But even better, watching the calorie burn on the cross trainer at the gym helps me think all day long about not putting food mindlessly into my mouth.

To stick with what I've pre-tracked.

Because: I just can't ever exercise enough to begin to burn off the quantity of calories in the type and volume of foods I'd (still) like to eat.

And if I eat "those" foods (potato chips, full fat ice cream, chicken pot pie with double crust and gravy, full fat cheesy macaroni, french fries, all of that) there's no hope of getting the nutrients I need within the calorie range I'm able to permit myself: the protein, carbs, good fats, minerals, vitamins my body really craves. And really needs for optimum health.

Hunger is not an emergency. Hunger is a great indicator that I'm really going to enjoy my next meal! When I'm hungry, I don't stand in front of the fridge asking myself what I "feel" like eating. Because the hungrier I am, the better my pre-planned carrots and tomatoes and spinach and radishes actually taste!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_LINDA 9/14/2011 1:20PM

    It sounds like you have it all worked out scientifically. I only burn 267 calories for an hour's worth of sweating it on the elliptical, pretty measly and it does make you think about how any of those treats are really worth the effort or not.

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NEWKAREN43 9/13/2011 11:15PM

    So...I figure at my weight, which is 80 pounds over yours, (yikes) I burn 16 calories per minute...and I'm trying to reconcile the fact that 45 minutes on the elliptical I burn 700+ calories and that's not making a difference in my weight. I'm stuck, I've been stuck for months...+2, -3, +4, -2, -2, +5, -3...and I do ST a couple of times per week...I SO desperately want to lose another 30 pounds off my ~220 pound frame (I'm 6' tall so...I can carry a lot, and lose a lot before anyone even can tell)...but I am stuck. This is the first I've said that since I posted a blog about being stuck some months ago...oh, I need to break this plateau so badly...I know it will happen but I also know that it's just a little discouraging sometimes to be stuck and not know what to do...So...I appreciate your reminder and perspective...

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KALIGIRL 9/13/2011 9:04AM

    Hunger as an indicator...
Love it!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 9/13/2011 1:37AM

    Great to check back in and find your blog, Ellen. On my to do list: Phone the gym and get the schedule for yoga classes. Your enthusiasm for going to the gym inspires me! PLus I gained a couple of pounds from my vacation. Had a wonderful time and glad to be back!

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NANCY- 9/12/2011 10:34AM

    Fuel our Body.
That's what athletes do. What do we need to sustain us.
I love the question "what do I feel like eating?"... if I "feel" like eating, it is not hunger . Most likely I am only thirsty and drink water or make a cup of herbal tea.
This is a wonderful blog ... lots of "food for thought". There is nothing like re-framing our thoughts.

Thank you so much for sharing your pho with me. It was delicious and brought a smile to my face.

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DBCLARINET 9/12/2011 7:16AM

    You know, now that you mention it, it's been a while since I stood in the kitchen and wondered what I "felt like" eating. That only happens if I'm eating when I'm not actually hungry.

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TRYINGHARD1948 9/12/2011 3:15AM

    And how many hours do I have to exercise for if my son-in-law makes a cheesecake and it would be most ungracious to refuse a small slice, or even a medium slice. Hmmm, I'm sweating just thinking about it.

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TBANMAN 9/11/2011 11:55PM

    A great reminder of just how much things "cost."

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DDOORN 9/11/2011 9:36PM

    What a great re-framing of hunger as a "friend" not "foe!"


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PUDLECRAZY 9/11/2011 8:11PM

    Amen! And that pho is a great example of just how good things can taste and not fall into the high calorie/empty calorie category.

Enjoy the gym!

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NEWKAREN43 9/11/2011 8:08PM

    As I sit here, totally soaking, sweaty from my last 25 minutes on the elliptical trainer, THIS is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you for the blog...and the perspective! Karen

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MOBYCARP 9/11/2011 7:52PM


My goal is 175. At one point, I gained weight to 205 while getting stronger and more fit, other than the fat I was adding.

Joined SparkPeople, and the weight is coming off so fast it's almost spooky. I'm eating a lot fewer calories, but possibly more protein. emoticon

You can't out-train a crappy diet.

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TRAVELGRRL 9/11/2011 6:56PM

    I needed to hear this! Thanks for the reminder!

Hunger is NOT an emergency. If I don't know what I want to eat, then I'm not really hungry.

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/11/2011 6:32PM

    I'm with you... knowing what I'm NOT burning or how long it takes to burn even a single cookie is great motivation. After races? They offer fresh fruit as well as the baked stuff, thank goodness! And thanks for stopping by my race blog!

emoticon emoticon

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This Week in Soup: Asian Chicken Vegetable Pho

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Found in the freezer:

half a bag of shelled edamame
a full bag of mixed Asian stir fry vegetables
three boneless skinless chicken breasts

Found in the fridge:

grated carrot
snow peas
red bell pepper
half a bottle of President's Choice Memories of Szechwan
soy sauce

And in the cupboard:

whole grain spaghetti noodles
2 large cartons of chicken broth
Chinese five spice
dehydrated garlic
red chili pepper
low fat peanut butter

I heated the chicken stock to boiling with about 3 tbsp soya sauce, the PC Szechwan (diluted with water to get every drop out of the bottle) and the spices, and added three stalks of the celery, chopped, while I was defrosting the chicken breasts: diced those and added to the boiling stock with the noodles, broken into 1 inch lengths (used about the amount I'd make for 2 servings of spaghetti . . . maybe a bundle an inch in diameter or so). Simmered till the chicken was done, the celery tender. Stirred in the grated carrot, about a cupful. (Rinsed out the bag with water and put that in the pot too . . . ).

Added the frozen edamame and mixed Asian vegetables (love those tiny corn cobs!). And then half a red pepper, diced, and about 10 snow peas, sliced. Brought it just back to the boil.

Mixed about 3 tbsp of peanut butter with boiling water and stirred it in: creamy, peanutty!! But the veggies were still bright and crunchy . And my soup pot is full again!

I'd guess the calorie count is well under 300 for a generous 1.5 cup serving, and there's gotta be a reasonable hit of protein from the chicken, edamame and the peanut butter.

That'll be my supper soup this week. Tried an "advance" bowlful after the gym for a late lunch and I like it!! Yeah!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_LINDA 9/14/2011 1:22PM

    Wow! You sure have the knack of putting things together in a very yummy way!

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PUDLECRAZY 9/11/2011 4:35PM

    Oh, that sounds delicious!!!!

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DBCLARINET 9/11/2011 4:21PM

    Mmmm, sounds tasty! What a list of veggies!

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DDOORN 9/11/2011 1:23PM

    Sounds delish! Love big batch cooking and the time that it saves!


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NANCY- 9/11/2011 10:25AM

    Yum!!! May I come to your house?

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PHEBESS 9/10/2011 11:31PM

    Wow that sounds delicious!

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Walking Charlie into the Fall . . . .

Thursday, September 08, 2011

DS has gone back to school after a first degree and a year at home saving money while waiting tables. We miss him: and so does Charlie!

Charlie and DS are exceptionally fond of each other, and they've been enjoying very long walks and swims in the lake pretty much daily since spring. Nothing substitutes for that, but I've been trying my best to fill the gap.

Although I got to the gym three times over the long weekend, since then I've been dealing with an excruciating eye infection which has made any kind of vigorous exercise too jarring. So . . . Charlie and I have been taking mild ambles around the block and through the park after work. No substitute for the "real hike and swim thing" . . . but Charlie appreciates it, and it's keeping me moving while I wait to heal.

The wild geese are beginning their practice V-flights; the goldenrod and wild purple asters are in bloom; and there are isolated branches of maple beginning to turn red. Fall is a wonderful time of the year . . . and with the thought of cross country skiing to come, plus my fabulous 10,000 lux light box for sunshine deprivation, I'm not dreading winter quite as much as I have done in the past!

So: Charlie and I are walking into the Fall. Tails wagging.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_LINDA 9/14/2011 1:28PM

    That is awful about the eye infection :(( Its nice you can at least get out and enjoy the change of seasons! We are on the same time line -all you describe is happening here too! I do love the fall colors, but dread the coming long, dark, and very cold winter. Facing north and never getting any sun ever makes it especially tough. Maybe I need one of those fancy lights too!

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SLENDERELLA61 9/10/2011 8:56PM

    Hope your eyes heal completely and fast. Maybe they are already okay? I was late coming to this blog. Hope you and Charley continue to enjoy the walks and scenery. You did a beautiful job with the description. Thanks.

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DONNACFIT 9/9/2011 11:36PM

    Love your blog..hope your eye heals up quick!!

I love all the seasons..I`m such an outdoors person!! I too enjoy all the seasonal wild flowers and wild animal and birds :)
Love the fall colors and the new begining of `back to school` even if I don`t go to school..we can all keep on learning...

keep on Sparkin` emoticon

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CARRAND 9/9/2011 2:04PM

    Fall is my favorite season. Enjoy your walks with Charlie!

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NANCY- 9/9/2011 8:47AM

    Yikes hope your eye heals soon.
What a wonderful soothing way to keep you both moving. I love your attitude.Crisp autumn days are a welcome break from summer's heat.
You reminded me of my "Happy " light.
Wishing you a speedy recover.

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KALIGIRL 9/9/2011 8:43AM

    What a wonderful way to heal...

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DDOORN 9/9/2011 8:26AM

    Sounds like good company...but UGH! to the eye business...! Beaming healing thoughts your way!

Gotta hit the Silver Comet trail for my morning constitutional...! :-)


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PUDLECRAZY 9/8/2011 8:59PM

    On, no - an eye infection? I hope that clears up quickly.

There is nothing like having a dog for company on a walk and I'm sure Charlie loves your company as well as your DS's company.

I really need to try one of those light boxes this winter.... it would be wonderful to not suffer from SAD, or at least knock it back a little.

Fall is wonderful, and I have been enjoying the cooling trend after the blasted hot summer. There is already the special aroma of fall in the air.

Enjoy those walks and wag those tails!


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PHEBESS 9/8/2011 8:20PM

    I prefer spring, which feels like a beginning - fall always feels like an ending.

And I hope the eye infection clears up quickly!!!!

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Here's a link to an article about a simple method to stop mindless binge eating while watching TV etc.: just switch hands.

Apparently if you're right-handed and switch to the left hand to munch on potato chips or popcorn, you'll eat less.

Ambisnackstrous? Here's hoping I'm not. Worth a try, anyhow!.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLENDERELLA61 9/10/2011 8:58PM

    I was only planning on checking out your latest blog, but the title of this one intrigued me. I'm glad I came here. Great idea! I plan to try it. Only I may need a bib. I'm not too swift with my left hand!!

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BARBIETEC 9/8/2011 3:55PM

    Thank you!

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KALIGIRL 9/6/2011 10:23AM

    Love it!

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TRYINGHARD1948 9/5/2011 11:44PM

    I think I'm safer in a snack free zone. emoticon

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JOHAL52 9/5/2011 9:28PM

    I eat with both hands. Shoveling :( emoticon

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PHEBESS 9/5/2011 11:25AM

    I think I'm ambisnackstrous!!!

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DONNACFIT 9/5/2011 10:17AM

    By the looks of my weight loss stall...I know I ca eat with both hands,,haha...

Love your blog..keep on Sparkin' emoticon

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NANCY- 9/5/2011 10:15AM

    Abstinence works better for me. :)
However eating a meal would be a different story.

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_LINDA 9/5/2011 9:32AM

    Awesome concept! Unfortunately, when my right hand was out of commission for so long from my elbow replacement recovery, I learned to do a lot left handed, so much so, I am comfortable using it for just about anything and now even prefer it for some tasks. So I can snack with either hand lol.
Have a Marvelous Monday!

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PUDLECRAZY 9/5/2011 9:12AM

    Great idea!


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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 9/5/2011 8:49AM

    That's really cool. I bet it works.

I love these subtle things that can have an impact on something larger.

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Trivia A Student: FINALLY!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Oh, my.

Got the notification this morning that I was a "Trivia A Student" in August!!!

Well, that sure was a long time coming . . . diligent efforts since May 2009 and yup, this would be the first time!!

Generally speaking, I've had a modest amount of academic success over the years. A degree here and there; even a few scattered scholarships . . . . .

But never ever EVER the elusive "Trivia A Student" designation. Until now!

It may never happen again. In fact, I'm thinking it's not likely to ever happen again. My record is dismal: I am just not at all clever at the kind of questions posed on the Trivia tab. But I do try just about every day. Even though I am quite capable of getting 3 wrong before I get 3 right . . . and not at all reliable about getting 3 right first try. All of this means that August 2011 must have been an amazing month, even though I wasn't paying a lot of attention to my cumulative score.

It was a surprise. And here I am now, basking in the glow.

My good SP friend Sandy (TRYINGHARDER61) knows full well how envious I've been of her Trivia scores: and I'm sure she will be rejoicing with me in my (temporary) success now!

Yay Trivia! Because even when I get them wrong, I've learned plenty! That's why this Trivia A Student accomplishment is for me actually right up there. Surpassed only with the amazing honour of having been named a Spark People Motivator.

(I know that the learning from playing and losing at Trivia has very much been linked towhat is genuinely my biggest personal accomplishment by far, way more important than degrees or job stuff: namely, taking 90 pounds off and keeping it off. I weighed myself after my workout at the gym, and I'm holding steady at 138 today even after a slightly indulgent supper last night . . . quite happy with that).

OK, just imagine me taking off the dunce cap, stepping down from the stool in the corner . . . yeah!!.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLUESKY_321 9/6/2011 7:39AM

    I never even knew about the trivia ... look at that - I'm getting smarter already!

Congrats to you!

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VALERIEMAHA 9/5/2011 9:51AM

I am SO the opposite of you in that sense (do I have a competitive bone in my body?). I don't even even consider forging ahead , conquering something (such as increasing exercise to so many minutes for so many days/week) as winning a competition against myself. I attribute it partly to conditioning (the era and rural area I grew up in) and nature (wimpy dreamy Pisces).

That said, where does one find the Trivia Challenge (perhaps even add it to your blog for the unkowing curious)?

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DBCLARINET 9/4/2011 6:34PM

    Congrats, yay!

But... what's a "Trivia A Student"? It sounds super-cool!

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NANCY- 9/4/2011 10:40AM

What a stellar accomplishment. I have learned so much playing the trivia, It's a great quick way to increase our knowledge,.
It's the little things that mean a lot.

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MOBYCARP 9/3/2011 6:39PM

    emoticon emoticon

I play trivia every day, and my long term (well, not quite two month) average is somewhere around 75%. I do notice that I'm getting some repeat questions right that I got wrong the first time. I suspect that's the only way I'll get stuff right like "How many calories do you save by eating this okay choice instead of that dumb choice?" I have a hard time caring about those.

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SLENDERELLA61 9/3/2011 5:48PM

    CONGRATS on the A+ trivia student! That's an impressive accomplishment. However, maintaining a 90 pound weight loss is, well, just amazing and awesome. Isn't it? Of course it is!! Keep up the great work and you are likely to have a string of A pluses and a steady weight under 140!! -Marsha

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ONEKIDSMOM 9/3/2011 3:30PM

    emoticon emoticon I don't even try for the trivia award... I am mega-impressed with your achievement!

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PHEBESS 9/3/2011 1:54PM

    YAY!!!!! Way to go!!!!!!! I'd be thrilled too!

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GROEDER 9/3/2011 1:38PM

    Congratulations!!!! I know how hard it is to get that award. I have gotten it once and been trying to do it again, with no success. So, I'll keep going for a second one if you will!!

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AZMOMXTWO 9/3/2011 1:34PM

  `WAY TO GO I got mine this month also 1st time ever

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