Friday, May 25, 2012
The last few times I've met up with my girlfriends for dinner, I've found myself almost apologizing for making healthier choices. It's become obvious to everyone that I've changed up my eating habits. In one situation, a girlfriend wondered aloud if I was getting enough food. When I responded, I almost felt like I was confessing; "I'm trying to avoid diabetes." Usually, they nod and it's done with. No big deal, right?
The question I have, is why do I feel like I need to explain anything? I don't say anything to them about what they choose to eat. Can you imagine me telling them, "Oooooh, those fries are full of transfats, I wouldn't eat those if I were you."
I'm not upset about it, but curious about this dynamic. I've been in three situations and three times, I've had to explain why my food consisted of chicken and vegetables instead of fried this or that.
I have made a concerted effort not to be obnoxious about my changing eating habits. I don't make any grand announcements about being "on" or "off" any diet. I don't bore friends or family with talk about calories and fat or working out, etc. In the past, I've been around people who do, and it's extremely boring and annoying.
Last weekend, I attended a relative's high school graduation, which was held in a building where you had to climb two flights of stairs to go into the arena. One of my family members declared, without a hint of sarcasm, that I would not need to workout that day, because going up and down two flights of stairs should count. Seriously?! It took all the discipline I had not to respond.
I don't mind spreading the Spark to people who are ready to hear about what I'm doing, but people who are observing my eating habits with a freakish curiosity, aren't ready to listen to anything I have to say.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Yesterday, I did an excellent job of sticking to my eating and exercise plan. It was truly an A+ day. I got off work in time to attend my first spinning (cycling) class. There were 10 of us, including the instructor who was lean as a piece of gristle, a woman so grotesquely thin I wondered if she were anorexic, another woman who was what Iíll call ďfit-fatĒ. She was 5í6Ē and about 240 lbs, but firm and in shape. The group was all female and ages ranged from about 23 to 50. I was the only black woman, which only mattered because I admit I was concerned about sweating my hairstyle out.
If youíve ever attended a spinning class you will already know that itís done on stationary bikes and the instructor offers you guided imagery over a din of high energy music. Thank goodness I like rock music, because the instructor was playing stuff like Guns ĎN Roses, Van Halen and Poison during the class.
The class was intense, but I kept up with the group while maintaining my own pace. By the time our 45 minutes was over, I was drenched in sweat and my hairstyle had called it quits. I wondered if I would ever return not because of the intensity and my hair, but because the dang cycle seats were so hard and uncomfortable. Also, I have to warn you that if you've ever had knee problems, this is probably not the class for you. I'm grateful that I haven't, but standing up while pedaling is tough.
As I was driving home, I felt this twinge of self-pity as my inner voice unleashed a barrage of thoughts:
Why is getting healthy such hard work?
Why am I working so hard to drop one measly pound?
Why must this take so long?
Is a workout this hard worth the effort?
How am I going to do this the rest of my life?
Why did I let my weight get to the point where I would have to work like a dog to take it off?
My conclusion is that, for me, spinning is not going to be a class I take often, because it seemed more like work than fun. I think Iíll stick to group classes like Zumba or step aerobics.
Saturday, I am slated to go hiking with a meetup group I just joined. Iím looking forward to the experience because most of my friends are older and inactive, so I don't have anyone to workout with. Iím hoping that through this group, Iíll be able to go hiking more often. Maybe by joining groups that like outdoor activities, Iíll find a way to have fun while Iím active.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
This morning, I got up and fixed my spinach and strawberry smoothie and two slices of turkey bacon for breakfast. At work, I'm drinking a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. For lunch, I packed a flatbread sandwich with spinach leaves, turkey and guacamole, baby carrots and hummus, and watermelon slices. For dinner I plan to have a leftover chicken breast and a salad, plus a skinny cow for dessert. I am snacking on pistachio nuts, a habit I attained from doing the South Beach diet two years ago.
This evening, I will go to the gym. If I leave work in time, I'll drop in on a group exercise class, maybe cycling, step aerobics or zumba. If not, I will do 15 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes on the stationary bicycle. Then, I'll go home, shower, chill and get ready for another day.
For me, planning is critical. I'm the most disorganized, unfocused person, so it's a victory if I know exactly what I'm going to do each day. Plus, the thought of eating the food I've planned doesn't fill me with dread. I happen to LIKE the foods I'm eating and would eat them whether I'm on SP or not. I think that's critical to staying on program. Also, being willing to try new stuff like my spinach and strawberry smoothie. And finding ways to include your favorite foods in your plan. For example, I love guacamole. By using it as a condiment on my sandwich, I get the taste I love but the calories are controlled. Adding spinach leaves to my sandwich gives me an extra kick of vegetables and I'm not sacrificing taste.
There are also some compromises I refuse to make. I don't like black coffee and I'm trying to reduce my intake of artificial sweeteners. I also don't like fat-free cheese or salad dressings. I just count the calories. Each of us will have our own ways of making this work, these are mine.
I had set a goal to drop 20 lbs by August 31st. I have 16 lbs to go, so it's all good. Even better, I have no idea how much I weigh right now because I put the scale away until June 9th.
Onward and downward.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Last week, I met with a nutritionist to learn more about how I should be eating if I want to lose weight and reverse my prediabetes. Many of the tips she provided were familiar, but there were several I had never tried such as fixing smoothies for breakfast. She highly recommended a morning smoothie because it was an efficient way to add more fruits and vegetables to my diet.
This morning, I woke up and threw the following into my blender:
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup skim milk
4 oz vanilla yogurt
1 c. fresh, sliced strawberries
1 c. fresh spinach leaves
1 T flax meal
1/2 c frozen banana slices
I got a 20 oz smoothie for about 320 calories. It was a ghastly color, but really delicious! Not good for a snack, but perfect for a meal. Plus, the prep and cleanup didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. I love the idea of chopping everything first, putting the solid ingredients in a container and just pouring it into the blender in the morning. That will definitely save time.
It's not even 9am and I've already had 1 serving of vegetables and at least two servings of fruit. Nice!
Onward and downward.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Friday, I met with the dietitian. Thanks to SP, I already had excellent information about what I need to be doing as a prediabetic, so it's good to know I'm on the right track. Keep in mind, the tips below were provided to me in the context of my desire to lose weight, incorporate more fruits and veggies into my daily habits and bring my A1C down.
1. For every meal, half of your plate should be fruits/veggies, 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 starch (for example, peas, corn, whole grains).
2. Consider blending spinach or kale in with a morning smoothie. It sounds crazy, but it's a great way to add a serving of veggies to the serving of fruit with one meal.
3. Instead of sautťing vegetables in oil, heat them plain until they start sticking to the pan, then add enough water or chicken broth to unstick them; repeat until the veggies are done.
4. Wait until your meal is almost done to add salt. This way, you get more salt taste and less sodium.
5. If you're a fan of junk food, consider getting "Heavy Girl" recipes and preparing lower calorie versions. OR google recipies and see what you get. (I will also look at more SP recipes)
6. To lose 1 lb of fat a week, find out your BMR x activity factor, then subtract 500 calories. For me, that means eating around 1,200 calories a day. Since the body releases water when it burns fat, the scale will register more than one pound.
7. Collard greens can be softened in water and used as wraps in place of tortillas. (I plan to try wrapping one around some red beans, whole grain rice and turkey sausage to see if it is something I'll like).
8. Instead of focusing on what you can't or shouldn't eat, flip the script and focus on incorporating healthier choices. Eventually your healthier choices will crowd out your less healthy choices.
9. Limit but don't eliminate your favorite foods. Find ways to do them differently. I told her about my BBQ addiction. (Imagine that--we're in Kansas City, lol) She endorsed my current strategy which is to alternate between pork spareribs and chicken and to ditch the potato salad and baked beans in favor of grilled veggie kebabs.
10. Buy some flax meal (not flax seed) and sprinkle it into your soups, casseroles, cereal and other dishes.
I also got a handout about other strategies for sneaking more fruits and veggies into my diet. Most of the items on this list are familiar--things like adding fruits and veggies to omlettes, oatmeal, pizza, spaghetti sauce, etc. My dietitian also works at a Whole Foods Grocery Store and mentioned they give free store tours and offer weight conscious recommendations during the tour. Whole Foods also hosts cooking classes, which was news to me.
In a nutshell for me, I need to identify two or three strategies to incorporate into my eating habits each week. What eating like this requires is being able to plan, plan plan. It starts with finding good recipes, intentional and strategic grocery shopping, and making the time to cook at home. I'm planning to get more active with my SP cooking healthy team, so I can keep this momentum.
BTW--after shaking off that nasty plateau, I put my scale away. No plans to weigh in again until around June 9th.
Onward and downward.
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