Sunday, October 28, 2012


Pardon all the recipe posts but I've been experimenting with different kinds of foods, trying to find a rhythm for my meals.

I was really craving peanut butter today for breakfast (a craving is usually how I decide that day's meal) and wasn't really feeling a PB&J sandwhich, mostly because I don't want to waste my calories on bread filler. So instead I was reminded of a delicious peanut butter and banana smoothie I had eaten recently, so I went that route.

After enjoying and loving my breakfast smoothie, I decided I needed to do these more often and began looking for recipes, where "recipes" is used as a loose term. Mostly I was looking for good combinations of ingredients besides the obvious fruit + yogurt variety.

I haven't really found any so here is what I've settled on to get the proportions correct:
For 2 servings that yield approximately 200 - 300 calories per serving, put together...
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • ~2 cups fruit
  • 2 tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Good combinations include:
  • Peanut butter and banana (1 tbs peanut butter)
  • Mango and banana
  • All the berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Banana and granola
  • Pistachios with kiwis
  • Walnuts with apples
  • Pears and oranges
  • Cherries and raspberries
These are all pretty crappy recipes in that they're nothing new. But I prefer my breakfasts to be lactose-based and thus smoothies with orange/other juice as a base were eliminated, as were ones where vegetables were pureed. I'm very specific as to how I eat my veggies (not boiled or obliterated) so that pretty much leaves yogurt, milk, and fruit as the main ingredients.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


With my renewed commitment to getting healthy (I've lost count how many times I've renewed this commitment), I joined some groups on 3 Fat Chicks to keep myself accountable. One of them is a running support group for the Couch to 5k Program, so although I'm doing Couch to 10k I can still share my progress with others since the set-up is essentially the same.

Here is a recent post that I wrote in response to the quoted question that really struck close to how I'm feeling now:
Originally Posted by L
I guess the real reason I'm writing this long post is to find out if other people out there are doing the C25k strictly by themselves. And if so, how do they motivate themselves to do that? Do you ever feel anxious and awkward about it?
When I did C210k last winter, I did a lot of the runs on my own and I did feel awkward at first. I live in a very thin town so I stick out like a sore thumb as is. But running around made me feel even more out-of-place. I especially felt like a pansy the first week or so because the program only had me running for a minute at a time and it seemed so little!

But once I got through that and was running for longer distances I was huffing and puffing too much to care what anyone else thought about me. For the most part, my motivation stemmed from not wanting to lose all the fitness I had worked so hard to get.

Each time I stopped the program I had a decent reason (shin splints the first time, cut off part of my finger another year so getting my pulse too high was extremely painful, and a knee injury last year stopped all forms of exercise for a couple of months). Getting restarted from scratch really sucked, and it took a long time for me to get to the point where I somewhat "enjoyed" running.

So not wanting to go through that beginning stage of suckage is motivation enough to keep going. Keep at it! Focus on your pace or listening to music and you'll be able to block out the feelings of anxiety.

Ever since I began exercising semi-regularly again in the last month, it's been a struggle to get out the door every time. It's been especially bad this week with both running and biking, even though the latter is something I LOVE doing and it's still warm enough outside to make it fun.

I don't have the motivation I usually use and mention in the above quote because I have no fitness to lose. I am starting at absolute zero, so it's easy to justify putting off exercise for another day or week.

Both Monday and Tuesday I went back and forth with myself about working out, first being very motivated, then justifying not going at all. Finally as sunset neared, I realized that the things I want to fix and the goals I have for myself all require me to burn calories and get fitter. And putting this off for a different day is just going to extend the unhappiness I feel about my state of health. So I sucked it up and went begrudgingly.

It's harder to find my usual motivation when I'm just starting an exercise routine. I just have to keep going over my run and bike times from the last couple years and see that these programs really do make me faster, fitter, and healthier. And then I have to force myself out the door.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Keeping track of things

I've previously spoken about my severe dislike of calorie counting because it absolutely drives me nuts so I've experimented with other ways of keeping track of my food intake. Lately, I've just been writing down what I've been eating without focusing and stressing about how many calories I've ingested. I mean, I know the general calorie count, but I don't worry that I've eaten a handful of grapes without knowing exactly how many went into my mouth.

Overall, I've been trying to fix the two major problems I have with eating:
  1. I like big portions and high-calorie foods.
  2. I wing a lot of my meals and that results in eating out a lot.
To solve problem 1, I've been looking up recipes that have lower calorie counts

Problem 2 has been much harder to fix. I hate cooking. Let me rephrase, I hate cooking every day. Once in a while, I crave a home-cooked meal but that doesn't happen very often. I'd rather drive to get take-out than spend that time cooking on my own. Yeah, no bueno.

I don't know where this dislike of cooking stems from so it's hard for me to fix it. It's hard to buy exact ingredients for a given recipe, so I'm bound to have leftovers not only of the meal but of random other things like bunches of broccoli or part of a block of cheese. I'm not creative enough to throw all these things into some other dish so they usually go bad in the fridge because I don't think to just snack on a stalk of celery. And then I have to throw it out, which makes me less inclined to buy more things for the next recipe.

Also, when I'm seriously calorie counting, I have every calorie mapped out and having some leftover cheese or cream or an apple really throws off my plan. Although if you think about it, I could eat the apple instead of drinking the beer and I'd be better off. But that idea doesn't seem to come to mind at the time.

I'm also not a fan of leftovers (and by that I mean that they really gross me out) so I would have to cook practically every meal, and that's just not going to happen. So that leads to me cooking a few times a week and eating out the rest of the time, all of which throws off my desire to eat fewer calories with every meal. I end up being "good" some days, but the "bad" days greatly offset the good ones.

When I read over this post again, it sounds like a bunch of excuses. I need to...
  1. Get over disliking leftovers.
  2. Become unlazy and cook my damn food instead of driving to buy it.
  3. Be accountable for what I put in my mouth.
  4. Stay away from beer!

Stuffed bell peppers

Originally this was a way to get beans into my diet, but few of the recipes I found actually contained beans. Here is the most delicious recipe I've discovered and one I made last week, from Cooking Light:

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
This recipe for stuffed peppers trades in the meat in favor of vegetables like red bell peppers, shallots, and mushrooms. The blend of flavors is sure to please guests.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 stuffed pepper)

  • 6 medium red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 1/2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or substitute 4 minced cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut tops off bell peppers; discard seeds and membranes.
  3. Cook peppers in boiling water 5 minutes; drain.*
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until tender.
  6. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until tender.
  7. Add parsley, almonds, sherry, and chile powder; sauté 3 minutes.
  8. Add rice, tomato juice, black pepper, garlic powder, and salt; sauté 3 minutes.
  9. Spoon 3/4 cup rice mixture into each bell pepper.
  10. Top each bell pepper with 2 teaspoons cheese.
  11. Place stuffed bell peppers in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

*Instead of boiling the peppers beforehand (I don't particularly like boiled vegetables) another option I've found is to simply bake them for ~30 minutes instead of the recommended 15. However, to avoid scorching the cheese, you have to remember to add it 15 minutes from completion so this does add another step.

Some suggested adding 1/2 cup water for a small baking dish and baking the peppers in that. I'm kind of wary of that, so I did the previous method of 30 minutes at 350 F and it turned out well. The peppers were tender but crunchy, which is just the way I like them.

Also, it's easier to cut the peppers into halves lengthwise and fill both halves with the stuffing. The insides warm more evenly and the peppers sit better in the baking dish.

Lastly, for those who consider black pepper spicy (like me) and are worried about the ancho chili powder, there's no need to fret. The ancho chili is the mildest and sweetest of the chilis so it's actually not spicy once you mix it with everything. I mean, you could tell there was chili powder in the recipe but I wouldn't consider the outcome spicy by any means.

This recipe can be significantly amended to include all types of meat and veggies, as well as use beans as I had originally intended. Also, cheese toppings can be mixed up to add more variety. We used gorgonzola instead of parmesan on half of ours and it was so much better. Next time I think we'll mix some cheese into the rice/veggies inside to make it that much better. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

In short, this recipe is delicious, easy and quick to make, and reheats well in the oven for leftovers (which says a lot coming from me since I absolutely HATE leftovers).

It's also pretty good for you (a stuffed pepper is one serving, which is plenty filling):

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ride the Rockies Training Schedule

Here is a training schedule to prepare for a week-long bike tour held in Colorado every June called Ride the Rockies. Sometimes they take this page down, especially in the off-season, so I wanted to copy it here for reference.

This is what I generally use to increase my bike mileage gradually. I've never actually completed this entire schedule nor have I ever participated in Ride the Rockies, although I strive to do both. I think the farthest I've gotten is Week 5 or 6 before I start lounging, lose all my fitness, and have to start over.

When I do stick with it, I notice a HUGE increase in my speed. I also tend to incorporate sprints into the earlier rides (sprint every other telephone pole, or a long farm block) and in the spring I did a monstrous hill once or twice a week. So all that helped significantly.

I don't think I have time to add the hills right now because I've started running again twice a week, but we'll see. Also, with vacations, holidays, and winter weather approaching, I have no idea how far I'll get this time around.

All credit goes to the Ride the Rockies folks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Diversifying my diet

I don't usually subscribe to articles/pieces that talk about "X foods that will help you lose weight fast!" But this article interested me because I've been looking for healthy foods to add to my diet, and this seemed more of a guide on how to be healthy than how to lose weight (in my mind, at least).

I'm using it as a way to diversify my diet in a healthy way, instead of focusing on the extra 300 calories burned that are advertised. It's pretty simple: eat more beans, yogurt, and salmon.

Here is the article that I found on CNN titled "7 foods that fight fat":
( -- Get excited: You can burn calories and combat fat by eating yummy food.
"If you choose the right picks, studies show you can torch up to 300 extra calories a day," says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of "The Hunger Fix."

Whole, unrefined foods are your heroes. Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed ones, so you're zapping more calories — and storing less as fat. These recipes double up (even triple up) on foods with serious metabolism-boosting power. Take that, dastardly fat!


What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle — and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).

Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.


Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body's more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.

With up to 50% more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.

Go for: At least two servings a day.


For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado's unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado's 14 grams of fiber kicks up your calorie burn.

Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.


High in resistant starch and fiber, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.

Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch — it's also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas — you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24% over the course of the day.

Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.

Chili peppers

Feel the burn? It's more than mere sensation: chilies' heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.

Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones — habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers — are too fiery for many people.)

 Green tea

This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.

Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).


You use it to wake up — and your metabolism will, too.

The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilize the forces that burn stored fat.

Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.

Now the next question is how to incorporate beans without buying a whole bunch of cans, because canned beans are full of sodium. But that's a dilemma for another day.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An update

It's been a very long while since I've written anything here and that's kind of been on purpose. I haven't forgotten about this blog at all. In fact, I come here every day to check out my blog roll and read what others have posted. I'm backwards in that I don't like following or subscribing to blogs. I just visit when a new post has been written.

Anywhos, here is a catch-up of what has been going on in my life the last five months (I can't believe it's been so long!):

  • I went on a medical mission trip to Southeast Asia where I was flown in by helicopter to spend a week in the Indonesian jungle.
  • I lived on a U.S. Navy hospital ship for a month, from which said helicopter departed.
  • I spent three weeks with my folks in California and decompressed from the last two years of life.
  • I submitted my medical school applications, increased my hours at work, and have watched an unhealthy amount of television due to the abundance of time on my hands.

None of this is weight-loss related. So here is the weight-loss update:

  • I started going to the gym with my roommate to get my upper arms and core a little less flabby.
  • I switched from playing rugby to refereeing rugby so now it's very obvious when I'm not fit enough to be where I need to be.
  • As a result of the previous point, I began regularly running The Hill of Death. I honestly hate every minute of it but apparently it makes a difference in my conditioning so I suffer through it every Tuesday.
  • I have made sure I only drink beer once a week, although I'm still working on limiting the intake to three beers each evening. That's the next step.
  • I have cooked approximately five meals since I came back to the United States in July. No bueno.

I think that's about it for now. Because I have so much free time on my hands, I've committed to making a huge effort to eat healthier and exercise more regularly. I now can look up recipes and plan my meals, as well as obsess over calorie count everything I put into my mouth. I have yet to implement this plan, but it's slated to begin this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

I also signed up for another Tough Mudder event for April and this time I actually want to be fit enough to run the majority of the 10-mile course. That, and it's cooling down, which to me means it's approaching running weather. I absolutely LOVE being outside in the cold and since biking is just too unpleasant for these kinds of temperatures, running it is.