Thursday, January 27, 2011


I haven't been posting about this much, but as of this morning, I've successfully made it to two full weeks of 6 am swim workouts! On the other hand, I haven't run in a week. But I will focus on the positives and say that I'm quite impressed with my dedication to this new activity.

I think part of it is the realization that I'm a super slow swimmer and really need to work on my speed and technique in order to make this season's triathlons not suck hard-core. The race swims don't necessarily tire me out, mostly because I swim at the equivalent pace of a walk compared to a run, but it's just demoralizing to get out of the water dead last. And after today's group swim, where I was lapped within 50 meters of the warm-up by most of the rest of the group, I realize I really need to work on this! Good thing I've been so determined to make it to these practices...

I also need to get my endurance up to a reasonable level, and I think the way to do that is by running consistently. Another added bonus is the extra calorie burn that it adds to my day, which I could totally use. I've been super slacking with running because I can't seem to coordinate a good time to go with my roommate. Swimming's been easy because there is a set class I need to go to otherwise I don't get a workout.

So the plan is to give myself a structured workout time and stick with it. Like, no more of this "I'll get three runs in this week sometime" and instead figure out what days I'm going to be running and make a list of specific runs I will do during that time. I need to do the same kind of thing for catching up with my schoolwork and work work, so maybe tomorrow I'll do a life planning session. That should help.

Speaking of lists, I also need to inventory our fridge because we have an obscene amount of food in there that is going to go bad pretty soon. The freezer needs the same kind of not-quite-yet-spring cleaning, but that's not nearly as urgent.

The run to the grocery store a couple days ago for meatloaf ingredients (namely, beef) turned into a beet craving that resulted in not only beet soup stuffs but also grapes and carrots and cheese get the point. Couple that with the large home delivery of veggies we received on Monday, and you can imagine the state of our refrigerator. In short, it's full. The good news is that it's full of veggies. (And pancake batter, but that should be gone by the end of the day.)

So I've been putting off this task of figuring out exactly what we have so nothing goes bad. That should force me to make a menu for myself, which I've been meaning to do for weeks, but it's not great timing since I'm gone for the whole weekend and won't really make use of anything in our house. Bummer.

Oh, and I am dangerously close to being less than 50% fat! This morning I came in at close I can almost taste it. So in 10 days, I have
  • Lost 5.2 pounds total,
  • Gone from 51.9% to 50.1% fat,
  • Lost 6.4 pounds of fat, and
  • Gained 1.2 pounds of lean mass.
This is awesome!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Even though it hasn't been all that cold lately (60 F today!), I've had a HUGE craving for soups. More specifically, my mom's soups. Every time I go home to visit my folks, I always request tomato soup and then I load up on it during the whole time I'm there.

And this week it dawned on me that, 1) these soups are not that hard to make, and 2) I am quite capable of cooking soup.

So after I attempted tomato soup earlier in the week, it was time to move onto beet soup, also known as barszcz czerwony in Polish (red borsch I think in American?). Anywhos, it helped that I had a massive craving for beets...

After I was done baking beets, slicing beets, and cooking beets, the kitchen looked like someone had been murdered in it. Actually, it kind of resembled the scene from the last time I used the mandolin slicer, but with much more pleasant results this time around.

A trip to the grocery store and many phone calls home to Mom later, I was finally able to enjoy the deliciousness of the barszcz:

The ingredients are simple:
- Water
- Chicken Thighs
- Leeks
- Carrots
- Celery
- Onion
- Beets
- Beet Greens
- Cabbage
- Lemon Juice
- Sour Cream

As are the directions:
1. Cook the meat.
2. Add the veggies.
3. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
4. Stir in sour cream.
5. Serve with potatoes cooked separately, or drink on its own.

And if I eat the chicken and most of the veggies (which I intend to do, especially the beets), here's the nutritional info:

Not too shabby for a very filling bowl of soup.

Next soup experiment is Mom's pickle soup, although I don't think this one will turn out nearly as good since our pickles are slightly different from the ones she uses*. I guess that's another reason to start pickling my cucumbers come the spring/summer...

*Having the same ingredients as my mom is key. For example, different brands of tomato paste cause the tomato soup to vary greatly in taste, to the point where my dad and I can figure out when something is amiss. This is the reason why my mom mails me cans of tomato paste. No joke.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I'm less than 10 pounds away from being in onederland. Yup, you read that right. After being stalled at 212.5 for the past week, the scale finally budged and showed an amazing and very surprising 209.5 glorious pounds. I can't believe I'm so happy to be this heavy, but I have to admit I did a little jig this morning.

It's really nice to see that all my hard work has been paying off. I've been eating regular healthy and normally portioned meals. Today was the only day all week that I went out and got food instead of preparing it at home (partly as a reward for losing weight, which doesn't make sense now but did in my sleep-deprived mind this morning). As a result, I did splurge a little bit on the calories today, ending up with 2256 for the day, a bit much for me, but oh well, such is life.

Other than that, my eating has been spotless. I've been snacking on the organic fruits I get delivered weekly instead of corn flakes and today we (The Roommie and I) found a recipe that incorporated our craving (stir-fry) as well as the ingredients we needed to get rid of (chicken, broccoli, bell pepper, mushrooms). It was perfect! And under 300 calories, if you don't count the noodles, of course.

I did slip up a few times this week by having a beer which didn't really do much as well as some caramels this afternoon, but other than that, I'm really proud of myself.

I was getting a bit bummed that my efforts weren't showing up on the scale, but today I had redemption. And I talked myself into getting out of bed for swimming again. I think I really can do this, finally.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New personal best... being a sloth.

My GoWear Fit software has this pretty cool feature that keeps track of my personal bests in different categories, such as calories burned, amount of physical activity, etc. And when I've reached a new personal best in one of the recognized categories, a little "Notifications" box pops up at login congratulating me on whatever I accomplished.

For example, it's pretty cool to see that I burned 5892 calories on the day of my Olympic distance triathlon or that my armband was worn for 25 hours on November 1, 2009 (yay, end of Daylight Savings time!).

But even though the website thinks it's a personal best, that doesn't always mean it should be celebrated, such as this "personal best" I received yesterday:

And a close-up:

I literally laughed out loud when I saw that. I can't say that I'm too proud of this accomplishment, but I'm still going to claim the digital trophy I got for it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

0 to 1750 yds in one fell swoop!

I'm too tired to write a separate blog entry for today, so I'll just copy and paste from a post I wrote earlier today to my triathlon mentoring group about my latest workouts since the weekend. I will update tomorrow about my eating successes (that voice I mentioned a few posts ago is back!) and drinking failures, but for now, an update on my swimming:

I kind of slacked on the workouts this weekend and wasn't able to get out on the bike on Monday because of work (bummer!), so I went for a run instead and it was hard hard hard! I forget what it's like to start running after sitting around for a month. I was doing 2' jog and 1' walk intervals x 7 and I was counting down the seconds for the run part to be over every single time. Oy. Lots of work left to do.

BUT, the big accomplishment of the week was making it to master's swimming this morning. I'm quite impressed with myself since it was still dark outside and my roommate had flaked on me. A short pep-talk while I was snoozing did the the trick and I'm so glad I went! The coach was super nice and I think I sold myself short when I told her I'm a beginner, slow, and my technique needs a bit of work, since she complimented me after the warm-up. I was pleasantly surprised.

After a pretty intense hour-long workout, she had me "cool down" with a 300 yd medley of strokes which included 3 x 25 of butterfly. I laughed in her face. Well, kinda. I think I forgot to mention to her that I've never been on swim team and essentially learned how to swim without any formal instruction. And my only knowledge of the butterfly is from watching the Olympics. I surprised even myself, because I was able to get my entire upper body out of the water for most of the length, with pseudo-decent form (the coach's words, not mine...I thought I was making a giant tidal wave with every stroke).

I didn't realize how much I'd actually swam til I added it up later in the day...after staying out of the pool for a good six months, my first time back was 1750 yds. Yikes! No wonder my arms and legs felt like jello when I was done. Even so, I am totally going back on Thursday.

Sorry that this is a bit boastful, but I am so proud of myself for actually doing this and wanting to come back for more. What a difference a year makes. Crazy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

My organic food box came today and I was pleasantly surprised. It was delivered straight to my door, albeit not early in the morning like the milk comes, but instead around noon. I may need to stick a cooler out there since I won't be able to get it before I head off to work normally and I don't want anything going bad.

(It was packed much better than this. I just wanted to show the underside layer of veggies.)

They gave me much more fruit than I thought I'd get (3 pears, 3 apples, 7 bananas!) so there will be a lot of fruit consumption going on this week. I'm kind of concerned that there aren't enough veggies (1 rather large broccoli floret, 1 onion, 1 yellow pepper, 2 yams, 8 oz mushrooms) for the two of us for a week, but I can always buy more at the store and up next week's delivery.

Another bonus: a little slip that says how long all their produce keeps, broken down by fruit and/or vegetable. I've been gathering this sort of information for a while, but it's nice to finally have it in one spot.

(Click on the image for a larger and more readable version.)

So far I think I'm going to roast the yams, onion, and carrots (extra from last week) as a side dish for...I don't know what for yet. I might make pork chops later in the week but I'm not sure. Next on the weekly menu is butternut squash soup, which uses non-organic store-bought ingredients (but home-made chicken stock). Yummy...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What to change?

I was reading a thread on the forums of 3 Fat Chicks (3FC) about changing habits and how long it takes to form new ones. Another point that was brought up and discussed was whether our food addictions or our bad habits ever go away, or if it's a lifelong struggle to give up certain things and talk yourself out of that extra donut.

A lot of people mentioned that they've given up soda or fried food or cut something unhealthy out of their diet and that's done wonders for their weight-loss, which got me thinking...

I honestly don't know why I'm fat. There is not one thing that is a calorie sink for me. I don't really like junk food or soda. I really do prefer a healthy meal over something greasy and fried. And I've played sports my entire life. So why am I fat?

I guess my problem with understanding my eating habits is that I don't generally eat unhealthy food. I can't remember the last time I went to McDonald's or Taco Bell or any fast food place like that. (I also can't remember the last time I was in an elevator, which is kind of weird.) I also don't think I've ever bought soda. When I snack on store-bought things, it's usually "healthy" stuff, obviously not just veggies otherwise I wouldn't have this weight problem, but rather things whose ingredient list I can pronounce and understand. I don't fry everything (or anything for that matter) and generally stay away from high-fat recipes. I've also noticed that I don't eat much meat, which definitely cuts down on calorie intake.

I like to think that these habits are the reason I don't have any health issues and my blood pressure and pulse are super low. But I think my time of great health is running out and I can't rely on luck to stay out of trouble. I need to fix something to ensure this streak lasts for much longer. But what do I change?

After tracking my calories for the past couple of years (sometimes daily, sometimes sporadically) I've concluded that it must be my portion sizes that are the problem. And I'm also wrong in assuming that the only bad and calorie-rich things are the processed foods at the store or at a fast food joint. Just because something is healthy and home-made doesn't mean I should eat three helpings of it, even if it is organic free-range beef stew. Those calories add up!

I guess those realizations are key to understanding where to go from here. In short, there is not one thing I can cut out from my diet, but instead, I just need to eat less. Oh, and lay off the beer.

Simple, right?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A test of my strength

Tonight's going to be tough. We're going out to Sushi Zanmai for karakoe as a moving away party for a good friend. Those nights always get crazy and it's going to be hard to stay away from the beer that'll be a-flowing. It helps that I'm still a bit hungover from last night so I'm not really feeling the beer, so I'm hoping that'll be enough to abstain. I just can't afford those extra calories. Yesterday I consumed over 2000 calories in beer alone. Eww. That really needs to be controlled, because I don't want to give up drinking completely but I also can't afford these kinds of nights, calorie-wise.

I think the compromise is to limit drinking to one night a week and even then to five drinks per session. I'll try to whittle that down to three by the end of the month. I know it's not enough of a cut, but I need to do this a little at a time otherwise I'm just going to give up and go back to my old ways.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My first organic food delivery

I got a little impatient waiting until June to get organic food from local farms, so I found a place (Door to Door Organics) that does the same thing but year-round. And it seems like a better deal in that you can cancel any week you want and you can also substitute up to three foods that will be delivered to your house (yes, it's getting delivered, and yes, I know in advance what I'm getting). The price is also pretty reasonable considering how much food I'm getting and I can also choose to do half veg half fruit, instead of having to commit to up to 20 weeks of veg and also buying a fruit commitment separately. And all of this can be changed on a week by week basis so one week I can get all veggies and another week, all fruit. I can do whatever my pretty little heart desires.

So this morning I got a message telling me I'd be getting the following come Monday:
2 ea. Yams
1 ea. Yellow Onion
1 ea. Broccoli bunch
1 ea. Yellow Bell Pepper
1 ea. White Mushrooms 8oz
2 ea. Anjou Pears
2 ea. Pink Lady Apples
2 ea. Navel Oranges
1 ea. Avocado

And I promptly substituted the following:
1 ea. Mango for 1 ea. Avocado
4 ea. Bananas for 2 ea. Navel Oranges
2 ea. Gala Apples for 2 ea. Pink Lady Apples

Now I need to start thinking of recipes for all these things. Luckily The Roommie is coming back this weekend, otherwise I'd be worried about eating all this food. And here I was thinking the Bitty Box wouldn't be enough for the week...

An awesome giveaway: Garmin Forerunner 310XT

One of the blogs I follow (DC Rainmaker) is doing a giveaway for the cooler older brother of my Garmin Forerunner 305, which as the title suggests is the Forerunner 310XT. So this is a shoutout to an awesome blogger and an awesome product.

Oh, and here is the post with the giveaway information.

I don't usually do these kinds of product placements, but I REALLY want this thing, even though I already have the FR305. It doesn't hurt to upgrade my toys, right?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ophiuchus, the 13th Zodiac sign

This is totally off topic, but I had to share since I'm a somewhat believer of the Zodiac and this has rocked that world hard-core.

From Gawker:

Astronomers have restored the original Babylonian zodiac by recalculating the dates that correspond with each sign to accommodate millennia of subtle shifts in the Earth's axis. Prepare to have your minds blown, all you people with easily blowable minds.

Here is the zodiac as the ancient Babylonians intended it—with the dates corresponding to the times of the year that the sun is actually in each constellation's "house"—according to the Minnesota Planetarium Society's Parke Kunkle:
Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus:* Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.
*Discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.
It's me again. So instead of being a Sagittarius who is interested in expanding my horizons through travel and immersion in other cultures, as well as having a "fiery enthusiasm that shows through blunt sincerity, honest convictions and drive for independence," giving me a want for adventure and the great outdoors (per Wikipedia), I'm now supposedly represented by Ophiuchus who is considered "a healer of men and a doctor of medicine or science. He seeks higher education and enlightenment. He is expected to achieve a high position in life...[and] he is an interpreter of dreams and vivid premonitions. He is envied by his peers and favored by his father and authority figures" (per Time Magazine).

Given that I love to travel and would rather stay in one place for a month than see a whole bunch of places during that time, and my only real passion in life is medicine (besides sailing, of course), You could say I'm a combination of the two.

There are also some things that don't fit me well from the Sagittarius point of view, which is where the somewhat Zodiac believer part of me comes from, and that in itself goes against a Sagittarius who is supposed to have a great capacity for faith. But then again, I don't know what kind of faith is referenced in the previously mentioned Wikipedia article, since I do agree with the statement that explains the reason that we Sagittari have that faith is because "it is this good-natured faith that usually plays into their fortunate endeavors." And that part is very true.

So I'll stick with saying I'm a halfie.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's a "not me" kind of day

It's my friend's birthday today so she invited me out for Happy Hour to celebrate, and I was kind of worried. Part of the reason is because calorie counting is super hard when out at a restaurant (I have no idea how many calories the dishes have) and it's also so easy to over-eat with the tiny portions being passed around everywhere. Ay ay ay!

In preparation and anticipation, I did the second day of C210K to try to get at least a little bit of the calories burned off, even if it was about 200 (if that). It took a lot of motivation to get out the door today since it was way cold and way snowy/icy. I'm hoping that those are the reasons I was so slow but I'm pretty sure it was my lack of happiness about being outside. Recently I noticed that the more excited and/or happy I am about running, the faster I go. And the more I don't want to be out there, the closer my jog resembles a walk. It's funny how much attitude changes my entire run.

Anywhos, I finished fine and got ready to head out for Happy Hour. In order to try to stick to my drink-only-once-a-week rule, I told myself I wouldn't have anything tonight and celebrate for many people's birthdays in style on Friday. And since I'd been so successful on Monday turning down a beer at the bar, I figured it'd be a piece of cake. But then the waiter came around as soon as I sat down and asked what I wanted, so of course I caved and ordered a red sangria. BUT, I only had two, which is somewhat of an accomplishment because I probably would've had another at the end of Happy Hour if my voice of reason hadn't kicked in.

Even with just those two drinks in me, I got the usual insane urge to stuff myself with corn, or wheat, or something equally non-nutritious. So I headed down to the grocery store to pick up my favorite corn flakes (after months of searching, I finally found the perfect natural corn flakes that taste so delicious). I hit every red light and had to wait for pedestrians at practically ever turn, so it took forever and I was getting impatient. And just a block away from the store, I turned down the wrong street. Grr! At that point I realized it's not worth it and I should go home. So I did. I guess I didn't need those corn flakes after-all, and same goes for the pretzels that are sitting in a bag in my room. Looks like I really am making progress here.

And now I'm going to do something equally "not me" and head to bed a little after 8 pm. So goodnight!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Powder and organic food

Snowboarding this weekend was FUN! I only ended up riding on Saturday because I was too exhausted and/or hungover to do anything productive on Sunday so I slept in the car as my friends hit up the powder in the morning. I'm still super sore from the few hours out on the slopes, and in the most random the outside of my right elbow. Weird.

In other news, I've been mulling over the idea of signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. I've lived here for over two years and I have yet to make it to a farmer's market. Part of that is due to my sleeping habits (I don't wake up early enough on Saturdays) but I also absolutely hate grocery shopping and don't usually plan too far ahead with my meals, which is something I need to change. It's also much more convenient to go to the grocery store when I want/need to instead of just when the farmer's market is open.

So in order to take full advantage of the abundance of farms around here, I think I'm pretty set on investing in organic food straight from the fields. That's essentially what a CSA is. Here's a write-up from Cure Organic Farm Community, the place from where I will most likely be getting my veggies and fruit:
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is based on a simple principle: connecting people to their local food source. When you join a CSA you are entering into a partnership that is dedicated to bringing fresh, organic produce directly from our fields to your table each week. Your membership helps to pay for seeds, water, equipment and labor in the early season when expenses are high and income is low. In return, the farm provides just picked seasonal produce each week beginning in June, for 20 weeks for our CSA members.
Ideally, I would like to get sign up with a different place that's been family owned for over 70 years, but this farm seems to have greater variety as well as a longer season. And it's cheaper. Not much, but combined with the other two reasons, it's enough to make me use them instead.

I think this'll be a great way to get some organic food in my diet for a relatively low price (it comes out to about $20/week) and also I'll actually have to go to the farmer's market this year since that's where the food pick-up will be. And I really do need to start going so I can get some cucumbers that are small enough to pickle. The only bummer is I have to wait until June for this fresh awesomeness to arrive. In the meantime, it's butternut squash and potatoes for me.

It's kind of funny that I'm wishing for summer, since it's been single digits over here and there's still about a foot of snow on the ground. And I love it, yet I can't wait until it warms up again and I can sit outside in the yard and swing in my hammock.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Who said anything about swimming?

I overslept. Hard-core. I set three alarm clocks so they were staggered in 30 minute intervals to make sure I made it to the pool today. I don't even remember turning them off. Yikes!

So I'm going to go on a run right now and restart C210K. The countdown on my main page to Tough Mudder Texas is scaring me since it's getting to be so soon and I haven't run in about 6 weeks. I could be almost done with the program by now! That's what I get for cutting my finger off and using that as an excuse to sit on my butt for way too long.

In happier news, I did my first official weigh-in of 2011 today and I'm at 213.0 lbs. Wowsers! That means I haven't gained a pound in the past month. And that's with absolutely no exercise AND being home for two weeks AND indulging in cakes and beers. WTF. I'm shocked. So like I said in an earlier post, once I get my butt moving and start counting my calories again, the weight will just fall off.

I really needed that to get some hope back. Now I'm determined to make this happen!

***An Update***

I did do that run and it was so amazing to get outside and breathe in the crisp winter air. I felt so happy during and after, like I'd been missing something in my life. On the other hand, I could feel the six-week break I had taken in that I was pretty fast during the 1 minute intervals, but I probably couldn't have run for 2 minutes or even minutes straight so many times. So I'm glad I started over and I'm glad I forced myself to get off the couch and do something.

And tomorrow and Sunday, I go snowboarding, which burns a ridiculous number of calories. BUT, we're also celebrating a friend's birthday so a lot of that will be offset by the celebration. I'll try to stick to only a few and take it from there.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The scarlet letter

I put my GWF (GoWear Fit) back on tonight. As I was doing so, I looked at it with a feeling of disgust, as if it was some kind of scarlet letter that tells the world I'm on a diet. And I hate that feeling.

Here's what it looks like (I'm neither one of those ladies, btw):

Granted, I don't wear it hanging out like that and generally try to hide it under a longer t-shirt sleeve, or put it on my calf if that's not an option. But, even though it's not visible, I hate pulling my arm back whenever anyone wants to touch my arm, in fear that they'll find out I'm wearing it and have to explain myself. I hate trying to hide it under everything I wear. And I hate its unpredictable beeping that interrupts conversations.

But as much as I hate it for those things, it's still pretty amazing. It works for my weight-loss style and personality in that I can look at the data and know exactly how much I'm losing (or gaining) on a daily basis. There's no guesswork with this thing and I don't have to wait for the weight fluctuations due to female issues as well as alcohol or salt consumption to even out on the scale. I know exactly how much I weigh daily (or should, at least) and that's really nice to see on a graph, as are my daily burns.

In short, it's awesome, even if I have to get over the social stigma I feel when I wear it. I wear this cloak of denial, acting as if it doesn't bother me that I'm obese in an overly active and health-conscious town. But by putting on the GWF, it's like I'm admitting it and that makes me feel super vulnerable. It doesn't help that I haven't lost a significant amount of poundage so it must look like I'm one of those fat people that gets gadgets or puts on a front that she's losing weight when in fact nothing has changed. Argh! I hate it.

But I'm hoping that this will work. It did last summer when I was serious about tracking my calories and getting my workouts in. I just need to get off my butt and get a routine going again.

Speaking of routine, school begins next week so it'll be nice to have something scheduled every day of the week and something to get up for. Maybe then I won't be going to bed at 4 am and sleeping until 2 pm like I have been this week. I essentially sleep through the entire day since it's winter and dark all the time. And I'm back to the problem of not having the motivation to get off the couch once I sit down on it to work, which is why I'm going to start running and swimming in the mornings.

And on the subject of swimming, I'm going to have to get all my motivating words together to get to my first swim team practice at 10:30 tomorrow because I know I'm not going to want to go on my own for the first time. I figure once I rip off the band-aid, the rest of the times won't be so bad. I'm just so embarrassed of my suckage. I don't even care about the fatness in a swimsuit part. I'm just a terrible swimmer, mostly just out of shape but also embarrassingly slow (I don't think I can even do a proper flip turn). So since it's a beginner's session, I hope I won't be the only one that's new. I'm sure they get people like me all the time. At least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself until I get in the pool and there's no going back then.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I really should lay off the beer

There are too many reasons to count as to why I should stop drinking beer, or at least limit my intake, but one of the major ones was brought to my attention last night.

Post-beer, I eat excessively even when I'm not tipsy.

I'd only had two cans of Coors Light (horse piss, if you ask me) in the span of an hour on a full stomach, so I was nowhere near buzzed. BUT when I came home, I still stuffed my face with a whole box of pretzels. WTF. I wasn't even drunk! Why did I still need to eat mindlessly?

This may've been a subconscious reaction or habit after drinking (I am known to make elaborate meals after a night on the town) or I may really crave food or be hungry like all these studies say. Regardless, I need to develop new habits which involve making a salad, if anything. I remember one time we (The Roommie and I) roasted some vegetables* after a friend's birthday celebration instead of munching on chips and bread, which is our usual M.O. So that was an improvement. The next step is skipping food altogether and going to bed.

Part of the problem with that is I like to come home and watch mindless TV as I sit on the couch and ponder the great mysteries of life. So I'm still up and of course my reasoning is that I need something to munch on, and it has to be deliciously bad for me. For a while we had a bowl of clementines positioned by the couch so when we got "hungry" while watching TV and needed something to eat, at least the closest thing to reach for was a healthy and relatively low-calorie fruit. But those are all gone and now I scavenge. So I need to go to the store and get some more snacks/fruit like that.

Maybe a mini-fridge with celery and carrots would be the next step in correcting this problem. Or I could just set these things out before leaving the house in anticipation of my ravenous drunken hunger. Now that's a thought.

*I told you I like cooking when inebriated, and the more potential for danger, the better. One time I made home-made french fries, having never made them before in my life. The only way I remembered the next morning was because I had to clean up the giant pan of oil and the slices of potatoes lying all around the kitchen counters. So lucky nothing burned down and neither did we. Yikes!

The 29 Healthiest Foods on the Planet

Courtesy of Belly Bites, and directly copied from there:

The following is a "healthy food hot list" consisting of the 29 food that will give you the biggest nutritional bang for you caloric buck, as well as decrease your risk for deadly illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Along with each description is a suggestion as to how to incorporate these power-foods into your diet.

  1. Apricots
  2. The Power: Beta-carotene, which helps prevent free-radical damage and protect the eyes. The body also turns beta-carotene into vitamin A, which may help ward off some cancers, especially of the skin. Nutrition: One apricot has 17 calories, 0 fat, 1 gram of fiber. Incorporation: Snack on them dried, or if you prefer fresh, buy when still firm; once they soften, they lose nutrients.
  3. Avocados
  4. The Power: Oleic acid, an unsaturated fat that helps lower overall cholesterol and raise levels of HDL, plus a good dose of fiber. Nutrition: One slice has 81 calories, 8 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Try a few slices instead of mayonnaise to dress up your next burger.
  5. Raspberries
  6. The Power: Ellagic acid, which helps stall cancer-cell growth. These berries are also packed with vitamin C and are high in fiber, which helps prevent high cholesterol and heart disease. Nutrition: A cup has only 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Top plain low-fat yogurt or oatmeal (another high fiber food) with fresh berries.
  7. Cantaloupe
  8. The Power: Vitamin C (117mg in half a melon, almost twice the recommended daily dose) and beta-carotene - both powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from free-radical damage. Plus, half a melon has 853mg of potassium - almost twice as much as a banana, which helps lower blood pressure. Nutrition: Half a melon has 97 calories, 1 gram of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Cut into cubes and freeze, then blend into an icy smoothie.
  9. Cranberry Juice
  10. The Power: Helps fight bladder infections by preventing harmful bacteria from growing. Nutrition: A cup has 144 calories, 0 grams of fat and 0 fiber. Incorporation: Buy 100 percent juice concentrate and use it to spice up your daily H20 without adding sugar.
  11. Tomato
  12. The Power: Lycopene, one of the strongest carotenoids, acts as an antioxidant. Research shows that tomatoes may cut the risk of bladder, stomach and colon cancers in half if eaten daily. Nutrition: A tomato has 26 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Incorporation: Drizzle fresh slices with olive oil, because lycopene is best absorbed when eaten with a little fat.
  13. Raisins
  14. The Power: These little gems are a great source of iron, which helps the blood transport oxygen and which many women are short on. Nutrition: A half-cup has 218 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Sprinkle raisins on your morning oatmeal or bran cereal - women, consider this especially during your period.
  15. Figs
  16. The Power: A good source of potassium and fiber, figs also contain vitamin B6, which is responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin, lowering cholesterol and preventing water retention. The Pill depletes B6, so if you use this method of birth control, make sure to get extra B6 in your diet. Nutrition: One fig has 37 to 48 calories, 0 fat and 2 grams of fiber. (Cookie lovers - fig bars have around 56 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber per cookie). Incorporation: Fresh figs are delicious simmered alongside a pork tenderloin and the dried variety make a great portable gym snack.
  17. Lemons and Limes
  18. The Power: Limonene, furocoumarins and vitamin C, all of which help prevent cancer. Nutrition: A wedge has 2 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Incorporation: Buy a few of each and squeeze over salads, fish, beans and vegetables for fat free flavor.

  1. Onions
  2. The Power: Quercetin is one of the most powerful flavonoids (natural plant antioxidants). Studies show it helps protect against cancer. Nutrition: A cup (chopped) has 61 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Chop onions for the maximum phytonutrient boost, or if you hate to cry, roast them with a little olive oil and serve with rice or other vegetables.
  3. Artichokes
  4. The Power: These odd-looking vegetables contain silymarin, an antioxidant that helps prevent skin cancer, plus fiber to help control cholesterol. Nutrition: One medium artichoke has 60 calories, 0 fat and 7 grams of fiber. Steam over boiling water for 30 to 40 minutes. Incorporation: Squeeze lemon juice on top, then pluck the leaves off with your fingers and use your teeth to scrape off the rich-tasting skin. When you get to the heart, you have found the best part!
  5. Ginger
  6. The Power: Gingerols may help reduce queasiness; other compounds may help ward off migraines and arthritis pain by blocking inflammation-causing prostaglandins. Nutrition: A teaspoon of fresh gingerroot has only 1 calorie, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Incorporation: Peel the tough brown skin and slice or grate into a stir-fry.
  7. Broccoli
  8. The Power: Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which help protect against breast cancer. Broccoli also has lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene. Nutrition: One cup (chopped) has 25 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Don't overcook broccoli - instead, microwave or steam lightly to preserve phytonutrients. Squeeze fresh lemon on top for a zesty and taste, added nutrients and some vitamin C.
  9. Spinach
  10. The Power: Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help fend off macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in older people. Plus, studies show this green fountain of youth may help reverse some signs of aging. Nutrition: One cup has 7 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Incorporation: Add raw leaves to a salad or saute with a little olive oil and garlic.
  11. Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage)
  12. The Power: Brassinin, which some research suggests may help prevent breast tumors, plus indoles and isothiocyanates, which lower levels of estrogen, make this vegetable a double-barreled weapon against breast cancer. A cup will also give you 158mg of calcium (16 percent of your daily recommended requirement) to help beat osteoporosis. Nutrition: A cup (cooked) has 20 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Find it in your grocer's produce section or an Asian market. Incorporation: Slice the greens and juicy white stalks, then saute like spinach or toss into a stir-fry just before serving.
  13. Squash (Butternut, Pumpkin, Acorn)
  14. The Power: Winter squash has huge amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which may help protect against endometrial cancer. Nutrition: One cup (cooked) has 80 calories, 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Cut on in half, scoop out the seeds and bake or microwave until soft, then dust with cinnamon.
  15. Watercress and Arugula
  16. The Power: Phenethyl isothiocyanate, which, along with beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, may help keep cancer cells at bay. Nutrition: One cup has around 4 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Incorporation: Do not cook these leafy greens; instead, use them to garnish a sandwich or add a pungent, peppery taste to salad.
  17. Garlic
  18. The Power: The sulfur compounds that give garlic its pungent flavor can also lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol, lower blood pressure and even reduce your risk of stomach and colon cancer. Nutrition: A clove has 4 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Incorporation: Bake a whole head for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft and sweet and spread on bread instead of butter.

  1. Quinoa
  2. The Power: A half cup of cooked quinoa has 5 grams of protein, more than any other grain, plus iron, riboflavin and magnesium. Nutrition: A half-cup has 318 calories, 5 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Add to soup for a protein boost. Rinse first, or it will taste bitter.
  3. Wheat Germ
  4. The Power: A tablespoon gives you about 7 percent of your daily magnesium, which helps prevent muscle cramps; it is also a good source of vitamin E. Nutrition: One tablespoon has 27 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber. Incorporation: Sprinkle some over yogurt, fruit or cereal.
  5. Lentils
  6. The Power: Isoflavones, which may inhibit estrogen-promoted breast cancers, plus fiber for heart health and an impressive 9 grams of protein per half cup. Nutrition: A half-cup (cooked) has 115 calories, 0 fat and 8 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Isoflavones hold up through processing, so buy lentils canned, dried or already in soup. Take them to work, and you will have a protein packed lunch.
  7. Peanuts
  8. The Power: Studies show that peanuts or other nuts (which contain mostly unsaturated "good" fat) can lower your heart-disease risk by over 20 percent. Nutrition: One ounce has 166 calories, 14 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Keep a packet in your briefcase, gym bag or purse for a protein-packed post-workout nosh or an afternoon pick me up that will satisfy you until supper, or chop a few into a stir-fry for a Thai accent.
  9. Pinto Beans
  10. The Power: A half cup has more than 25 percent of your daily requirement of folate, which helps protect against heart disease and reduces the risk of birth defects. Nutrition: A half-cup (canned) has 103 calories, 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Drain a can, rinse and toss into a pot of vegetarian chili.
  11. Yogurt
  12. The Power: Bacteria in active-culture yogurt helps prevent yeast infections; calcium strengthens bones. Nutrition: A cup has 155 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber. Incorporation: Get the plain kind and mix in your own fruit to keep calories and sugar down. If you are lactose intolerant, never fear -- yogurt should not bother your tummy.
  13. Skim Milk
  14. The Power: Riboflavin (a.k.a. vitamin B2) is important for good vision and along with vitamin A might help improve eczema and allergies. Plus, you get calcium and vitamin D, too. Nutrition: One cup has 86 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Incorporation: If you are used to high fat milk, don't go cold turkey; instead, mix the two together at first. Trust this fact: In a week or two you won't miss it!

  1. Shellfish (Clams, Mussels)
  2. The Power: Vitamin B12 to support nerve and brain function, plus iron and hard-to-get minerals like magnesium and potassium. Nutrition: Three ounces has 126 to 146 calories, 2 to 4 grams of fat and 0 fiber. Incorporation: Try a bowl of tomato-based (and low fat) Manhattan clam chowder.
  3. Salmon
  4. The Power: Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk of cardiac disease. Nutrition: A 3-ounce portion (cooked) has 127 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 fiber. Incorporation: Brush fillets with ginger-soy marinade and grill or broil until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Crab
  6. The Power: A great source of vitamin B12 and immunity-boosting zinc. Nutrition: A 3-ounce portion has 84 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 fiber. Incorporation: The "crab" in sushi is usually made from fish; buy it canned instead and make your own crab cakes.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A long ways to go

As everyone always does, I told myself that not only does the diet start at the New Year but also on Monday. So today was supposed to be my start date of healthy living and weight-loss. I failed miserably.

There were some good points such as not eating airport food after I landed and was starving. Instead, I waited to get home, which took about 2 hours, and made the packaged salmon I'd brought back from Trader Joe's in California.

But then I went to broomball and, as always, there was a ginormous package of gummy bears being offered to everyone. We like to think it's what makes us good. So far, it's worked wonders for our record.

Anywhos, I ate a whole bunch of them and at one point was shoving them into my mouth by the handful. I don't even like gummy bears. Most of them are rather flavorless, and there's so much sugar in them. I'd rather eat chocolate any day. But I ate them nonetheless.

And then I came home and made myself a large glass of warm milk and some pretzels. They weren't all that satisfying so I only ate about four of them, which is also an accomplishment so I guess I shouldn't be too down on myself.

Long story short, even though I'm committed to eating better and moving more, I'm not nearly anywhere I need to be mindset-wise. Last summer when I had the most success with regards to pounds lost, there would be a voice in my head that would always ask, "What's more important: the momentary happiness from eating this thing, or being thinner and happier like you've always wanted?" And usually it would work. I didn't necessarily deprive myself of everything, but instead I really thought about how badly I wanted whatever I was about to eat. Usually the voice worked in convincing me to put down the bag of chips (another thing I'm not crazy about but eat because it's there or I think I'm craving it). But other times I caved and let myself have some ice cream or a milk shake. Even so, those portions were usually smaller than if I hadn't had that voice of reason questioning my decisions.

I need to get back to that state of mind and then I will be golden. It'll just be a matter of time before this weight comes off if I lead the lifestyle I would like myself to have. I already crave exercise, and even though getting out of the house is especially hard this time of year, by nightfall I'm wishing that I'd done something during the day to move around a bit because I feel restless.

So the next step is to fix the head and I will be all set.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NYT article on how much exercise is needed to maintain fitness

The New York Times article, "Phys Ed: If You Are Fit, You Can Take It Easy"

New Year’s resolutions tend to war with wintertime malaise. Resolution urges you to work out. Malaise suggests that you linger in bed. But there’s good news for those of us torn between these impulses. A number of newly published studies offer compelling reasons to get out and exercise on the one hand, as well as new estimates of just how little we can do and still benefit on the other.

The most sobering of the recent studies, published last month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at a large group of retired elite male athletes, most now in their 50s. Some had remained physically active, although they were no longer competing. Others had taken fully to sloth, avoiding almost all exercise. When the researchers examined the health profiles of the two groups, they found, to no one’s surprise, that the sedentary ex-athletes had a much higher risk of metabolic abnormalities, including insulin resistance, than their more active counterparts. Training hard and often in their youth had not conferred lifelong health benefits on the athletes as they aged, not if they now sat around all day.

Similarly, although in a more compressed time frame, a study published earlier this year found that when a group of world-class kayakers completely quit training (at the end of a competitive season), they rapidly lost strength and endurance. After only five weeks of not training, according to one measure of strength, they’d sloughed off about 9 percent of their muscular power and 11 percent of their aerobic capacity.

In other words, being almost completely inactive, whether for a short or prolonged period of time, inexorably de-tones muscles and compromises health. The benefits of regular activity don’t last long.

But there is a loophole. In these same studies, as well as others, relatively small amounts of activity allowed participants to maintain much of the health and fitness they had previously gained. In the kayaking study, for instance, some of the athletes didn’t completely cease their training at the end of the season; they merely cut back, limiting themselves to one weight-training session and two endurance workouts per week (a fraction of their full-season training) and consequently lost barely half as much of their aerobic power as the kayakers who stopped exercising altogether. Five weeks “of markedly reduced training in a group of elite athletes seems effective for minimizing the large declines” in conditioning “that take place by completely stopping physical training,” the authors wrote.

Even more relevant to those of us who aren’t world-class athletes (and aren’t, therefore, likely to reduce our training to three sessions a week), a study just published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that visiting the gym only once a week may be enough for young and older athletes to hold onto past strength gains.

For the study, researchers with the University of Alabama at Birmingham recruited one group of adults in their 20s and 30s and another in their 60s and 70s and had both groups undertake a four-month program of fairly strenuous weight training, with thrice weekly, multiset sessions at the gym. By the end, all of the volunteers were dramatically stronger and had added considerable muscle mass.

The researchers then randomly assigned the volunteers to different groups for the next eight months. One group quit all exercise. Another cut the number of their training sessions by two thirds, showing up at the gym only once a week. The final group not only reduced the number of their gym sessions to once a week, but completed only a third as many exercises during that session, for a total reduction in exercise volume to one-ninth.

At the end of the eight months, the groups’ muscle size and strength varied markedly. The volunteers who stopped all exercise, whether they were young or old, had lost most of their newly acquired muscle mass, as well as a large portion of their strength. Those who’d continued to train once a week, however, had maintained much of their muscle mass, as well as their strength. The younger volunteers had even added muscle mass with the once a week full sessions (although not with the shortened bouts). Older volunteers hadn’t augmented their muscle size during the maintenance routines, but they had lost little of their strength gains, even when their exercise volume was reduced to a ninth. A “once per week exercise dose was generally sufficient to maintain positive neuromuscular adaptations,” the study authors concluded.

There are caveats to these encouraging findings, of course. You must have a baseline level of fitness to maintain, for one thing. Before they moved to the once-a-week routine, the weight trainers completed four months of three-times-a-week sessions. If you have no fitness base, resolve now to build one. The latest studies also did not pin down just how long you can maintain a reduced level of exercise, without the vestiges of fitness finally slipping away. The maintenance portion of the strength-training experiment lasted eight months; the kayaking study stretched only to five weeks. At some point, you probably have to return to a full exercise program. But for now, a little may be enough.