Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Binge Danger Zones

This morning I made a sort of mash-up between the Healthy Spelt Pancakes for One and the Spiced Up and Stacked Pancakes by OhSheGlows, which I've been wanting to do for a while. Basically, unsweetened almond milk, whole wheat flour, and some spices. I barely made it halfway through, and these are supposed to be single serving. Just dense, perhaps? I alternated between two different syrups. One, my perennial favorite, standard thick sugary syrup. The other, I decided to dress up some pure maple syrup with some PB2. I'm not a huge fan yet of pure maple syrup on its own, but once I let these two combine, it was magic. Any thoughts on how maple syrup would fare on a hot skillet? Because I feel like this combo would be a wonderful marinade for my sauteed tofu.

As I said, I've been wanting to make these for several weeks, but I've been putting it off because, no matter how healthy they might actually be, it's hard to feel like I'm staying on track when I'm eating pancakes! But this morning, I decided they might actually be a proactive, preventative necessity. I've got some extended periods to myself coming up for the next few days, that I have known about for some time. All week, as they approached, I found that little voice in the back of my head excitedly planning all of the uninterrupted bingeing I could do. Some of this is latent habit- in previous times of living with people, I have always taken "advantage" of large chunks of solitude, because I don't have to worry about hiding my food. [A key part of binge eating, by the way- shame about eating, so you eat in secret, hidden places. You know when you take a candy bar or cookie into a bathroom stall that you have a problem] I also have had the binge urge creeping up a lot in the past week or so. I slightly gave into it over the weekend, when I talked a friend into making a whole batch of cookie dough, but I didn't go whole hog. I ate to the point of feeling uncomfortable, yes, but then I stopped. Normally, I go through about three cycles of eating to the point of serious discomfort, waiting about ten minutes until it fades, and then re-gorging to discomfort, etc. etc. So, perhaps this was a mini-binge? Or maybe this was just they way normal people overeat. That would be exciting.

So the pancakes this morning were to feel indulgent and maybe even a bit naughty, but while still being healthy. Hopefully, this will help me hold off a run to the local grocery later today. I'm also considering finally having some Top Ramen again- this is one of my biggest comfort foods (only Oriental flavor, eaten chopped up and scooped onto Wheat Thins), but is pretty much nothing but empty carbs. And if I'm not going to give up grain carbs like all of the weight loss programs suggest, then I at least need to be eating whole grain carbs. But maybe, when I'm in such a vulnerable state, eating unhealthy but portion-controlled will be the key? Or should I try powering through on just super healthy stuff? I'm worried about that backfiring right now. It hasn't been a problem for the past month, but I'm worried about getting to my last alone session and panicking over the end of a chance to eat poorly and loading up on cake and chips in one huge binge session.

Still working on that.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Natterings From a Recent Return Home

Snippets From Here and There....

I'm noticing that country music videos inspire me to work out. I think some of it is that I like the music, and if is an upbeat song, I want to move to the beat. But a large part of it is that I love the idea of living in Nashville for a time, and wouldn't it be fun to be one of those girls in the video? Need to have rocking abs for that...

I had this whole post ready to go on my brainwave to use DDR for some cardio work this summer, in lieu of talking my parents into shelling out $150 for a cardio machine on Craigslist. Then, disaster. I thought I brought home my whole DDR set up with me from Texas a year ago, but I can't find the PS2! I have the dance pads, the discs, even the game controller, all here. No console. This is problematic.

I am now on the 12th straight day of my food diary. This is unprecedented. And it's pretty impressive to go back and read over, as well... A lot of repeat items: tofu (sizzled in a pan a la Daily Garnish) and non-fat Greek yogurt (vanilla) are the most notable, I think.

IT IS SO NICE HAVING A KITCHEN AND FRIDGE AGAIN. Tofu every day, done up any way I want it. Chili. I have my eye on several soups. Cheese! Almond milk! Green Monsters!

Probably my proudest dinner thus far was a serving of peanut sauce tofu (a serving is the size of one fist) and a half of a Green Monster. Protein, healthy fats, fiber, SPINACH. Oh yes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cheat Days- The Dilemma

I am running into a problem with my cheat days. You are supposed to allow yourself one a week, under pretty much any reasonable eating plan. In times past, I would usually be on the eating plan for maybe a day, then suddenly give into temptation and call it my cheat day, then never really get back on the plan. This time, I'm sticking to the plan. But I keep putting off the cheat day.

Maybe my problem is I'm not sure if I'm on the plan enough to warrant it. I allow myself some popcorn and peanut M&Ms when I go to the movies. We ate out one night, and I got a four-cheese pasta dish. I'm eating reasonable portions of all of this, and I can tell I am already starting to slim down, but is it enough for a cheat day? The nutritional science would seem to indicate that one pizza in an otherwise healthy and properly portioned diet doesn't affect the body much- it's the repeated consumption in a relatively short space, or a bad diet over time. I have fallen to both such habits in the past. I think I'm dealing with a slight fear of the cheat day. What if it wipes out my gains of the past week? After all, doesn't every little bit this week add up to a gain or loss next week? Alternately, the fear of repeating previous failures. What if it signals the end of the diet to my habit-trained brain?

I think maybe I'm still working through the ideas of how I eat while I'm still trying to get to my healthy weight versus how I hope to eat for the rest of my life. I think right now, I'm eating in maintenance mode, not loss mode. Now, of course, because I'm "maintaining" a smaller figure, I am still losing weight, just at a different rate.

I guess it comes down to this: as long as my diet is clean, healthy, and properly proportioned all around, is it better to allow myself small regular indulgences, as they come up and at my discretion, or one scheduled day of guilt-free indulgence to look forward to on a weekly basis?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Diet Debates

I don't like the word diet because of the connotations it has, but I suppose I am on one, to a certain extent, and it also does apply to the idea of what one eats as a whole, so there you go.

I was going to post a weigh-in update, but I realized that certain hormonal changes have it out of whack this entire week. So my initial "starting weight" might not be all that accurate either. Well, we'll stick with it for now. Fluctuations or not, the scale showed about 2 pounds, which is a respectable number for a week. It's the recommended one, as I recall. I was rather hoping for a few more, but if I can keep that rate for the rest of the summer I'll be in pretty shape indeed.

Having my beans and cheese each morning for breakfast is proving quite easy. How often do we really change up our breakfast routines, anyway? We generally go for the same thing each morning, so it's been pretty easy to stick with it this past week. Aside from having to keep a much larger stash of beans in the house than before (much cheaper than sugary cereal- bonus), it's going to be pretty easy. I'm trying to ease off on how much cheese I put on top, though. Cougar Gold is a little pricey! And I haven't checked, but I very much doubt that it is a low-fat cheese, as preferred under the Five-Factor Diet. As mentioned before, I am not sticking exclusively to this diet while I'm in weight-loss mode, but I can see it being a major part of the rest of my life, for life-long maintenance of what I plan to achieve this summer.

I do still find myself attracted to many grain options right now, however. These are perfectly fine under the 5-Factor alone, but bump up against the no-grain parameters designed for quicker shedding of weight. I'm currently debating the merits of sticking with non-grain/starch snacks, or going with Five-Factor low-calorie, whole grain and protein ones. My current thought is a compromise. One compromise might be to go with the 5-Factor option most days, and once or twice a week decide to really kill it for a day and cut out the grains (before dinner- I'm leaving dinner as a healthy and portion controlled but open meal). Another option is to simply impose a before-noon rule. No starch or grains before noon, then continue on with healthy and portion controlled and Five-Factor Friendly.

Right now, the biggest temptation is granola and muesli. I've discovered a love for non-fat Greek yogurt (vanilla bean- I still can't abide plain yogurt) in this past week that I never knew existed. I sort of liked it before, but now I'm eating it daily and actually orchestrated an otherwise unnecessary grocery run yesterday because I ran out. Now I'm stocked for at least... a week. If I don't start doubling up some days. It's wonderful on its own, but I'm so intrigued by mixing in Kashi Go Lean Crunch, or even getting fancy and making my own granola a la Oh She Glows. I keep remembering a little snippet of an interview with Peter Jackson. For those of you who don't know, he is no longer the lovable puff-ball of the Lord of the Rings DVD special features. He got healthy! When asked about it, he said "I just got tired of being overweight and unfit, so I changed my diet from hamburgers to yoghurt and muesli and it seems to work." 

Well, Superfit later today (sadly, no Zumba until Saturday- note to self: wear sunscreen this time), so the next few hours will be spent on my writing goal (and very likely the White Collar marathon on USA) instead. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Introduction to Zumba

We couldn't make Superfit last night, so we went this morning to the 9am session, which coincided nicely with a new feature of the summer: Zumba! It seems a member has a daughter over at WSU who is home for the summer, and she is offering free Zumba classes to Superfit members on Saturday mornings for the rest of the summer. Not going to deny, shaking my hips salsa style in the middle of a parking lot with cars honking as they drove past was a little bit awkward, but surrounded as I was by a whole group of women, it was mostly just fun. A killer cardio work-out on top of a pretty solid resistance workout- today was a killer ab set followed by repeating bicep and tricep work, with some squats and lunges thrown in. So, two solid hours of non-stop, high-intensity working out. I've convinced my mom to go for it each weekend. I also might succeed in getting a cardio machine in this house at some point this summer. Craigslist can work wonders.

On the food front, it's not been super easy, but when I look back at the food diary I've started keeping, I'm actually not doing as horribly as I think. On Thursday, we went out for the evening, and I was convinced that I had blown my diet for the entire week. Only when I actually wrote down what I had had and compared to to the entire day, I probably still came out ahead! It's all about portion control, people... love it. And my PB2 finally came on Friday, so I was able to make the oft-dreamed of peanut-sauce encrusted tofu of Daily Garnish. It didn't rock my world as much as I was expecting, but I've identified what I need to change (cut down on the amounts of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and especially sesame oil and replace with more water) to bring it more to my taste. Also, cutting my tofu a little thicker. I forgot that draining tofu compacts it as well, so I ended up with some pretty skinny pieces. The thicker pieces tasted better. But her method of cooking/frying tofu is spot-on. I foresee much of it in my future this summer.

Going to weigh in tomorrow morning and see what's what. Will check in then!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Inaugural Green Monster

I JUST HAD MY FIRST GREEN MONSTER!!!! The most basic one, just chia, spinach, banana, almond milk, and ice. It was absolutely terrifying- I actually made my mom come and make it with me because I was wigging out about it so much. We only made a half recipe, and then we split that, but that's still more spinach than my body has seen in... pretty much ever.

In other news:

On the sad side: my go-to decently healthy ballpark meal is not being served this year, I found out this afternoon. I liked to get the little microwave things of brown rice and put teriyaki sauce on it. In the future I should be able to work around this sad development by bringing in my own sauce (probably Emily's healthy peanut sauce, since teriyaki sauce might infringe upon the no-liquids/beverages rule), because a different Asian place finally offers brown rice this year, but only plain soy sauce. I cannot abide plain soy sauce.

On the happy side: We unexpectedly got out of the Mariners game in time to hit Superfit, so I jumped headfirst back into working out! Wasn't expecting to start until Friday. Hurriedly located my workout clothing in my as-of-yet unpacked suitcases, went, and nearly killed myself. It was awesome. We started out with mat abs, which is always the scariest, and he had us doing a round of minute long holds: static leg raise, side bridges on both sides, static push-ups, regular forearm bridge. He told us the 30 and 45 second marks and said we could stop at those if we needed. I probably should have, and will regret my decision tomorrow, but I somehow managed to eek out the full minute each time. Which of course shocked my little out-of-shape body and it wasn't the happiest for the rest of the time, but I managed. Doing interval bursts at level 17 on the elliptical during one cardio break probably didn't help either. But instead of progressing up to medium and heavy weights, I stayed at light weight for all three sets. I need to be able to move on Friday when I go back in!

But main point being: I just had my first Green Monster, people. This is highly momentous. My plan is to try and have them at least three times a week (likely as a pre-workout drink, maybe an hour before? Thoughts on the timing of that?). I'm actually really excited to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bomb one and the Pumpkin Pie Protein Power one. The regular one was good, and is probably the one I will drink the most of, long-haul, but my mental game is still pretty shaky with regard to vegetables, so I think smoothing the way with chocolate and peanut butter is wise.

Home Again

I'm back, and it's time to kick this into high gear. I decided while in Iceland to dedicate my summer to two goals that I have had for a long long time: finish my writing, and get healthy/in shape.

Opening Stats:
Weight: 166.8 
   This is not as much of a net gain as I was worrying I would find upon my return from Paris. Accounting for general weight fluctuations, I estimate between 5-10lbs. I was starting to dip below 160 right before I left for Paris, but it wasn't consistent yet.  
Resting Heart Rate: 93 bpm
   Probably not an entirely accurate number, since I've been up, walking and eating and drinking ice water, for over an hour, and of course because I took it with my fingertips on my wrist, not with a sensor. But it seems about right.
Pant Size: Generous 14
   Bleck. At least I haven't popped back up into a size 16 like that one horrible two month period back in 2009. But closer to moving up a size than moving down a size.

Ultimate Goal Stats:
Weight: 130 and fit
Resting Heart Rate: 60 bpm
Pant Size: 6

First Goalpost Stats:   For June 15, 2011 (two weeks from now)
Weight: 158
Resting Heart Rate: 90
Pant Size: 12

Other Stats I Would Like to Collect:
Heart rate after a 10-minute mile
Heart rate after an 8-minute mile
Time to run a mile with a heart rate under 166 (apparently my target long-distance heart rate)
Body fat percentages
Inches measurements

This morning has started out much as I want most mornings to. I've been planning this for months, since relatively early on in Paris, so it was exciting to finally do it.

  1. The first thing in my body was a glass of wonderfully cold water from the fridge filter. At some point ideally I will be able to add in a little lemon juice, because the alkalizing effect on the body and liver and what have you is suppose to be very healthy and excellent for the metabolism. But the cold water itself isn't too shabby! 
  2. Second thing in the body is a source of healthy fats, which helps to keep the glycemic index from spiking throughout the day, and especially throughout the immediately following meal. Again, good for health and metabolism. I've been choosing nuts, though this morning, sadly, all I could find in the house were walnuts- definitely not my favorites. They are kind of waxy and look like brains. But I chowed down on a large one anyway, and I'll just make sure we get some almonds and maybe some cashews in the house when my mom and I go grocery shopping this weekend. 
  3. Third thing: a properly portioned meal of protein without any grain or starch-type carbs. This morning, I tried out a small plate of vegetarian refried beans with some Cougar Gold melted over the top. It was incredible. I tried the beans and cheese thing once up in Scotland, after a particularly long hike, and it was fine but nothing exciting. I was using a little single-serving tin of spicy vegetarian refried beans, and some shredded mozzarella. Fine, but definitely something I was eating because it was good for me and palatable, not because it was yummy. This morning, highly yummy. Cougar Gold kind of rocks my world. Breakfast was warm and tangy and oh-so-flavorful. Plus, you know, good for me. I saw Trainer Bob talk about using your fists to gage the proper portion size for your carbs and proteins in a meal, so I spooned a slightly generous single fist onto my plate. I'm thinking now that since I'm not including carbs, I should probably allow the full meal serving of two fists, because it seems to have stimulated my appetite rather than sated it. Probably having a small handful of almonds instead of one walnut will help, and maybe I'll make it the serving size I would have if I had normal sized hands (mine aren't bizarrely small, but they are often as small or smaller than the hands of those ridiculously petite and small-boned girls we all know. I am not one of these girls). 
Some things to add to this morning:
  1. Interval runs up my hill. I live at the base of an extremely steep hill. I want to do speed bursts up this hill 3 times, multiple times a week, waiting for my heart rate to subside a bit before charging up again. Studies show that going absolutely all out for short intervals and then taking decent rest periods in between is just as, if not more effective than consistent medium effort at building endurance and burning calories. This should aid both parts of my goal this summer- endurance for getting healthy (and that hike), and extra calorie burn for losing weight and shaping up. 
  2. Vegetables. I want to aggressively attack my problem with vegetables this summer. I tried zucchini in Scotland, and I've been lightly poking around spinach and broccoli for a while now. I want to go full force with spinach- Green Monsters and baked spinach everywhere you look! Also really excited to try kale chips, and I've got my mom on board, so it's happening. 
  3. Lemons in my water, green tea, water bottle, etc. I want to be so hydrated it is crazy. Lemons in the water and green tea both have positive effects on the metabolism, and I'd like a dedicated water bottle that I can carry with my everywhere. But for this morning, lugging around a little glass on a coaster will suffice. 
  4. Some additional form of exercise: yoga, push-up routine, AbRipperX, etc. What this is will largely depend on how recently we worked what at SuperFit. e.g. If it is the morning after a day of mat abs, AbRipperX would be both painful and counterproductive. But if I know we are on a schedule of only working the chest on Mondays, and it's Thursday, then a push-up routine would fit in nicely and not jeopardize my ability to do well in Superfit the next day. I suspect yoga videos that stream on Netflix and free ones from the yoga download site place will make frequent appearances. 
I know this seems like a lot. And it is. But I think it needs to be. I'm so sick and tired of feeling run down and yucky. I want to run my darn marathon. I want to knock somebody's socks off in a bikini. I have no job or internship this summer- this is my work. I will write, and I will shrink my size and lengthen my life. This is my job this summer. And hopefully in going about it, I will build some life-long habits that will make this a permanent change.