Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Life changes

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote. Among other things, I have:
  • Kept my weight off for 6 months
  • Moved to New Orleans
  • Started medical school
  • Turned 30!!!
  • Signed up for a half-Ironman triathlon
That last point is the main reason I'm back. A few classmates and I were talking about doing the half-Ironman here in April and I kind of got suckered into it.

By "suckered into it" I mean that I talked them into signing up and then couldn't talk my way out of signing up myself. Also, I was getting tired of running and biking with no purpose, so this kills two birds with one stone.

If all goes well on April 19, 2015, I will...
  1. Swim farther than ever in my life,
  2. Bike farther than ever in my life, and
  3. Run farther than ever in my life.
All of this back-to-back-to-back.

Stay tuned for actual posts about how everything has been going because I do intend on writing about this. It's definitely going to be a challenge, but I'm actually very excited!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Breaking the habit of nibbling and snacking to prevent weight gain

Prior to my vacation trip I had gained three pounds when I increased my calories to slowly transition to maintenance. That was incredibly frustrating because I was eating ~1800 calories and burning on average ~2200 daily so I shouldn't have gained anything. But I was. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. It just didn't make any sense.

Now that I've lost everything I had gained on vacation while doing pretty much the same thing as when I gained those three pounds pre-vacation, I still don't know what caused that initial gain. My calorie intake is generally about the same (at least what I've counted). I exercise just as much, except that I've switched to biking over running because I like it better. I have added body-weight exercises in the last week or so because I want to tone up.

Maybe those slight changes have been the key to losing/maintaining weight? I really don't know.

The one major difference I did notice, though, was that I was snacking on things a lot beforehand. Maybe that increased my calorie intake by 100-200 calories and thus led to weight-gain? I'm not convinced because even if it did, the gain shouldn't have been so drastic (3 pounds in 10 days), which makes me think my scale was off, I had water weight, or my hormones were messing with the numbers.

Regardless of the reasons behind the gain, I decided I needed to break my snacking and nibbling habit because it will eventually lead to legitimate, long-term weight gain. To do that, I've been making it a point to eat only when sitting down. This not only slows down my eating so I'm not wolfing everything down, but it also prevents me from "trying" my meal excessively during its preparation.

Now, when I go into the kitchen to prepare a meal, I no longer "try" my food multiple times. Usually all the trials are completely unnecessary for the quality of the food and I end up full before the meal is even fully prepared. Making this change to only eat while sitting down has prevented me from tasting my food excessively and has left room in my stomach to enjoy the meal I just spent 30 minutes making.

Additionally, a big part of feeling full is mental for me. If I feel like my meal is a diet food or if I'm simply scavenging for food, I will feel hungry regardless of how many calories (good or bad) I consume. I need to have a meal in order to feel satiated, and part of the thing that makes something a meal in my mind is the need to sit down to eat it.

Since it's become clear to me that my body is very efficient at running itself (stupid slow metabolism) and I'm not willing nor will I have the time to exercise excessively to burn lots of calories, I need to learn to be happy with a lower daily calorie intake. Feeling happy is synonymous with not feeling deprived/hungry. So this new habit of sitting down for a meal instead of eating in a hurry or while standing up will definitely help with that.

Overall, I'm trying to transition from calorie restriction to developing good lifelong habits. Since I made sure to make my weight-loss sustainable by learning to eat better and all that, I've picked up a bunch of good habits along the way. But there are still a few more I need to incorporate to make my weight-loss more permanent and make maintenance a bit easier. Sitting down to eat is one step towards that very lofty goal.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Lessons from gaining and losing vacation weight

Three weeks after returning from a gluttonous week with my family in Poland, I'm back down to my pre-vacation weight!

It was an incredibly frustrating time because even though I stuffed myself to the point of extreme discomfort several times, I didn't expect two weeks of vacation (and really only one week of gluttony) to cause that much damage weight-wise. When I got back, my pants no longer fit, I felt flabby, and I was generally grumpy about the state of my body. But in less than a month, I am back to where I started, and it feels awesome!

All in all, it was a big learning experience for me. The fantastic thing is that I know (and am willing to) lose weight when I have a brief relapse. This is even true when I am so mentally done with restricting my calories to ~1500 a day and feeling guilty for indulging in things. I can still go back to that mindset for as long as it takes me to lose those 1 or 2 or 5 pounds, because it's important to me.

Having that skill and will-power is amazing because I'm not so worried about regaining everything I've lost, which was the case for a while. I still haven't figured out the whole maintenance thing (see the next post), so my weight will continue to fluctuate. But as long as I know that I can buckle down when I need to, I'll be okay.

After-all, the fear of gaining back everything that I worked so hard to lose is more overpowering than the desire to eat an ice cream cone every day. That's motivation enough, at least for right now.

Now some wedding reception photos from my trip to Poland:

My cousin, the groom.

I caught the veil, so I won a bottle of vodka. Naturally.

A Polish wedding wouldn't be complete without a self-service kielbasa bar.

The appetizer spread. This does not depict the courses served every couple of hours.

This is why I gained so much weight while in Poland. Meals from 6:45 pm until 3 am.
It set the tone for the rest of my week there.

Pyrotechnics during wedding-cake cutting. The bride and groom look beautiful.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Old posts popping up

Pardon the old posts that have been published recently. They have been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, waiting for that last perfect sentence to make them whole. Kidding. I just started writing and got distracted before finishing them.

Instead of further adding to those posts, I'm publishing them as they are, on the date that they were originally written. That means they are backdated and don't necessarily go with the flow of what's currently going on in my life.

Enjoy them regardless. They are not any less than the ones that have been published already.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Exercise "fail" on vacation

I had every intention of going for a run today before my cousin's wedding this afternoon. This is not to offset the bingefest of Thursday, as I said I wasn't going to do, but to make myself feel less flabby before another evening of indulgence.

Unfortunately, the run didn't happen. I decided sleep was more important and took the extra hour to snooze. Also, my legs are tired from yesterday's run, so today wouldn't have been very productive, fitness-wise.

I had planned on running hard enough to make my lungs hurt, which has been my goal lately at least once a week. The two previous runs I've done this week were kind of bullshit in that I ran to be outside and make use of the running things I schlepped all the way to Europe. My pace was awful.

I wasn't feeling it on Tuesday, so I ended up cutting the run short. Yesterday, my goal was to simply survive without puking since I was so hungover. Even though that run hurt my digestive system, it was well worth it because the day was uncharacteristically beautiful for Belfast. But, my lungs felt just fine so clearly I didn't push myself hard enough.

Today was going to be the lung-busting day to make up for the lackluster running of the week. But my quads are sore, I'm sleepy, and I don't have enough time to explore the parks around my aunt's house before we have to go get our hair did.

Instead, I'm relaxing on the couch, enjoying my kielbasa breakfast with my favorite milk, and preparing my body for the hurt that will be a Polish wedding.

Ideally, I'll do that run tomorrow. Depending on how this evening goes, it may have to be postponed until Monday. Either way, I'm totally cool with that. I'm on vacation after-all!

The cousin that's getting hitched.
Picture is from the window of our parents' childhood home in the Polish countryside (his dad, my mom).

Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm on vacation, dammit!

I've been traipsing through Europe for the past week and have 10 more days left of this trip. It's been incredibly fun but also really stressful for me food-wise.

With the exception of last night when I had at least 8 beers and lots of delicious food (I'm not exaggerating on the booze...I'm feeling it today), I've been fairly good about sticking to my "diet". I generally eat when I'm hungry, limit snacking, and eat normal-sized portions. All in all, I've been rather successful. Not perfect, by any means, but good enough, which should be enough to put my mind at ease.

Even with watching what I eat, I'm still paranoid that I'm gaining weight and getting fat again, which is my biggest fear now that I've somewhat loosened my calorie restrictions to closer resemble maintenance. When I weighed myself before I left, I was consistently at 150 pounds, having gained 3 lbs when I should've lost a pound or two per my calculations. Clearly I'm doing something wrong and I can't figure out what it is. All of this is not helping my mind relax.

I want to enjoy this vacation instead of constantly worrying about what I'm eating and how it'll affect my weight. I just can't let go of the diet mindset and the fear of gaining it all back, as well as the confusion of trying to figure out maintenance. It's stressing me out! On my vacation!

So although yesterday's binge-fest caused me to gain 0.5 pound (for real), I'm going to forget that night ever happened and not try to make up for it by depriving myself for the rest of my time here. It'll be business as usual; nothing less, nothing more.

Part of this decision is due to the fact that I'm currently in Poland visiting my family, where the refrigerator is stocked with kielbasa, my favorite milk brand of all time, and pierogi. I would be very grumpy if I had to restrict myself during this part of my trip.

I've already been feeling like I'm depriving myself excessively, and have been bummed that it's going to be like this forever. I don't want that feeling to dominate the rest of my time in delicious Poland so I'm not going to stress about what goes in my body.

This does not mean that I'm going to disregard all of my current eating habits. If I want kielbasa, I will eat kielbasa. Same goes for milk, cake, chocolate, etc. However, I'm not going to eat or drink myself to the point of being uncomfortably full so there will be some moderation. And if something decadent isn't melt-in-my-mouth delicious, then I will set it down and not finish it. There's no need to eat out of obligation. The empty calories just aren't worth.

Since I always need a goal, I will work on limiting my grazing, eating only when I'm sitting down. That seems much more manageable than being under a particular calorie limit or abstaining from biscuits in Ireland or kielbasa in Poland. I will also ask myself if the thing I'm eating is worth it. Often the answer will be no. If it is worth eating, then I will enjoy it, slowly, and guilt-free.

When I get back to Colorado, I will hop right back onto the bandwagon and work to lose these vacation pounds, along with the five lbs I wanted to lose before I went abroad.

I just have to keep telling myself that gaining a pound or two on vacation is not the end of the world. In fact, it's just a week or two of dedicated eating when I get home. If only my mind could accept that, then I'd be golden.

Now onto some vacation pictures.

Exploring Dublin by Viking ship. I now know where Colin Farrell lives. Roar!

By Viking ship, I mean re-painted WWII amphibious tank.

The dry dock where Titanic was built. It's HUGE.

Classic Belfast craic. "She was just fine when she left us!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Breakfast success!

I finally found something that works for me! It's the wonderfully creamy, delicious, protein-rich cottage cheese. Who would've thought that a "diet food" would be great for someone on a diet? Duh.

I've always loved cottage cheese and often eat it at my parents' house as a treat of sorts. I don't know why it took me so long to think to have it as a staple of my diet.

The standard breakfast has been the following:
  • 1/4 cut steel cut oats
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Click to enlarge.

I mix the oats and frozen berries the night before, stick them in the fridge to defrost, then add peanut butter and microwave it all for 2 minutes in the morning. Lastly, I add the cottage cheese and ground flax seed. This satisfies nearly all of the requirements I set out in my original mission: high fiber, low calorie, warm, and dairy.

I've had this breakfast every day for the past two weeks and it's more than held me over until lunch. I'm full for the entire morning! It's awesome. I'm convinced the peanut butter has a lot to do with this feeling of satiety. Whenever I used to eat bananas covered in peanut butter as a quick breakfast I always stayed full for hours. So peanut butter, in addition to protein-rich cottage cheese, is the Holy Grail of breakfast for me.

All this being said, I'm slowly tiring of this combination, in that I'm not excited to eat breakfast in the morning. I noticed this change when I switched over to a new brand of frozen berries that aren't as sweet so that may have something to do with that. I'm still super full, but breakfast isn't as delicious as it used to be. So now is a good time to mix things up by adding different fruit and nut combinations.

I'll keep the first three ingredients (cottage cheese, oats, and flax seed) as the core recipe because they contain a lot of protein and fiber with relatively few calories (~200), leaving me lots of leeway to add other goodies.

Tomorrow I'll add sliced pineapple and cashews to the mix. The nutritional values will essentially stay the same so we'll see if I still find it filling. If not, then I'll know that the key to my fullness is peanut butter in the morning.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Done-zo, I think

I think I'm at the point where I transition to maintenance. Although I haven't reached my goal weight yet (I'm 7 - 10 pounds away, depending on the day), I'm very happy with my current size. There's still a lot of flab I'd like to tone up, but overall I don't want to get skinnier.

Throughout this journey I've realized that I will always have fat on my body and losing more weight will not necessarily eliminate it from the places I want the fat gone. Instead, all of me will get smaller and the trouble spots such as my belly and upper arms will still have a disproportional amount of fat when compared to the rest of my body. To make those areas look good, I need to lift weights and do core exercises instead of simply cut calories to lose weight.

As a result of this maintenance decision, I've been a bit lax about my eating. I still count calories, but I allow myself more junk food in the form of chocolate and bread. I've generally eaten less than I've burned so I should still be losing weight, albeit a lot more slowly. But I haven't been losing, and instead have gained a few pounds, making me doubt the fact that I can actually maintain this weight.

I've had a lot of checkups at the doctor lately (nothing bad, just annual physicals and the like) and seeing 148 - 150 lbs on the scale has been incredibly scary. I know I'm not overweight, even though my BMI is in the overweight category. I simply have really muscular legs that bring up my weight disproportional to the volume of my body. Knowing that hasn't made seeing such a high number any easier.

This past month has been so confusing for me body image-wise. I've been trying to figure out what I want now that I'm so close to being done, and I haven't come up with a concrete decision. I don't want to get any smaller because then I'll be down to an XS in clothes. I want to be leaner, but I don't want to be tiny or emaciated. I'm trying to find a good balance between strong, lean, and healthy.

The conclusion that I've come to is that I want to lose ~5 more pounds, bringing me to 143 lbs as my new goal weight. I'm currently between sizes S-M up top and I want to comfortably fit into one size so buying stuff is easier. Mentally, I'm burned out from losing weight so 5 pounds seems totally doable even if it takes me more than 5 weeks to accomplish. I'll just continue with my better eating habits, increase my calories a bit so I don't feel deprived, and see where this takes me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another way of saying "When do I stop?"

Note: This post was published a couple of months after the two preceding it ("Brain catching up to the body" and "When do I stop?") even though it was written at the same time as the others. I had a mini crisis during that time when I was trying to figure out my end point. I thought I should publish this post as well, even if it is a bit redundant, because it does touch on some points the other posts don't.

For the past week I've been in the 140s (!!!), meaning I have less than 10 pounds to lose until I reach my original goal weight of 140 pounds. That's insane to me because I really don't think I'm anywhere close to my goal.

I still see myself as "big", not necessarily fat anymore but definitely not the fit person I imagined I'd be at this weight. I don't know why I thought I'd look "good" because 140 lbs is only 7 pounds within the "normal" BMI category, so I'm cutting it pretty close. Although I still have 9 pounds to go until I hit that goal, I don't think I'll be satisfied once I reach 140.

This became very evident to me when I watched the video from a recent rugby match I refereed. I looked so stocky in the shots:

I'm in the yellow.
I love how muscular my quads are, even though they're somewhat atrophied from their peak (damn fat season!), but they're still big and defined. Mostly, I wish I was taller so I wouldn't be so compact and my muscles would spread out over a longer frame. Alas, I can't change my height but I can still do something about my goal weight.

The Roommie keeps saying that I'm tiny, which is true when compared to the person I was 1.5 years and 75 pounds ago. I still don't see it which is why I'm convinced I need to keep losing weight. My brain has yet to catch up to my current size. Even though I see the thigh gap (my thighs don't really rub together anymore) and the size of my clothes, I still don't think I'm normal. So I want to keep going.

At the same time, I'm tired of "dieting", even though I always say I'm not on a diet. Most days, I carefully watch what I eat and even if I have a full day of rugby or do a long bike ride, I still feel guilty if I consume more than 1500 calories. That's not normal. I should be able to eat 2000+ calories on those days.

As a result, I've been looking forward to stopping with this madness in the very near future (9 weeks to be exact), but it looks like I'll have to keep going for a little while longer. Since I'm already in this weight-loss mindset, it'd be a shame to quit now instead of trying to see if I can reach a weight I'm happy with.

So when do I stop? What weight/size/body type is good for me?

Again, this goes back to The Roommie. She recently commented that she used to think that I had a large frame because of my size. But as I've shed all these pounds, it's becoming clear to her that my frame is actually much smaller. She also said that she doesn't think I'll be happy until I'm lean and toned, which the more I think about it, the more I agree with her.

So the new goal is probably going to be 125 - 130, which should give me a lean and fit body. At least that's the hope.

P.S. I just looked at the fat percentage of my legs and I'm at 22.5%, which puts me in the fitness category and gives me a lean mass of 113.5 pounds. In order to reach 125 lbs at the fitness category of fat % (I don't think I'll comfortably maintain "athlete" status), I would have to lose 13 pounds of lean mass, and more fat, of course. Even for a goal weight of 140 pounds, I'd have to lose a few pounds of lean mass.

So dropping from my high of 117 pounds of lean mass in November is simply not sustainable for the weight I want. Now I don't feel so bad about my leg muscles atrophying during fat season. Happy days!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When do I stop?

This is a continuation of the previous post I wrote about not feeling normal-sized even though I'm only a few pounds away from being in the normal BMI category. I've been very unsatisfied that all the work I've put into losing weight hasn't made me much happier with regards to body.

Someone on the 3 Fat Chicks forum wrote to another person who was having the same feelings of dissatisfaction that I've been having. She said, "I'm guessing the "fat feeling" is likely less "I look like [an] elephant" and more "I'm not where I want to be" which can feel just as awful." She is absolutely correct.

Friends say that I'm small and that I look good, but I can't get over the size of my legs and the droopiness of my stomach. I thought I'd be a lot leaner and thinner at this size, but alas I still have plenty of visible fat on me. In my mind, I don't look good and I don't think the extra 8 pounds that I still have to lose to actually reach my goal weight will fix all of that.

As a result, I've been thinking about amending my goal to 125 - 130 pounds in order to reach a leaner physique. The only drawback to dropping my goal weight further is that I'm already wearing size small clothes. Losing even more weight will put me into the x-small category and make it difficult to find stuff that fits and looks good. After-all, part of the reason I wanted to lose weight was so I could buy clothes because I liked them and not because they were the only things that fit. I don't want to go back to that feeling, just on the other side of the spectrum.

The Roommie recently said that she doesn't think I'll be happy until I'm lean and she definitely has a point. I want to have less fat and more muscle, be even leaner than I currently am. However, that sort of thinking is worrying because I'm always going to have fat somewhere on my body. If I continue focusing on that, then I won't ever be happy with myself. That's just not healthy and is definitely not the way I want to live my life.

If you look at the last sentence of the "About me" tab that I wrote when I first began this journey several years ago, it says:

"I don't need to be "hot"; I just want to be happy."

I sincerely hope that at the end of all this, whenever the end may be, I will have accomplished that goal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brain catching up to the body

Lately I've been very confused about how I feel regarding my weight. One day I'm happy and want to stop losing since I've seemingly reached my goal (size 8 in pants, small t-shirts). But other days I feel just as fat as I did when I weighed over 200 pounds.

I guess all this comes down to the fact that my brain has not caught up to my body. I've thought of myself as a "big girl" for most of my life, so it's hard for my brain to switch from 20+ years of that thinking to being "normal" within the span of a few months.

To illustrate: Instead of celebrating losing the equivalent of a small child, I still see myself as "big" when I look at pictures. I'm not necessarily fat anymore but I'm definitely not the fit person I imagined I'd be at this weight.

When I look at the pictures below, I don't see the progress I've made and the quads I've developed. Instead I focus on my huge calves and stout body, especially when compared to the people surrounding me.

I'm in the yellow/orange.

I "know" I'm fit and have lost a bunch of weight. But this knowledge is based solely on the shrinking sizes of my clothes. I'm still surprised every time someone I believe is normal-sized says something like, "You're smaller than me." It blows my mind because I still consider myself to be the "big girl."

I guess I just need to give my brain more time to understand and comprehend the transformation I've made in the past couple of years. I need more than a couple of months to automatically think of myself as normal-sized. It'll come, eventually.

In short, I need to be patient, which is not one of my virtues and does not come naturally. I have somehow managed to lose all of these pounds slowly and steadily, so I need to continue to practice that patience with how I perceive my body.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Combating hunger

I've been very hungry all the time in recent weeks, and I can't figure out why. I've tried switching up my breakfast and it's somewhat worked. I'm no longer hungry within an hour of eating in the morning. But beyond that, I still find myself very hungry between meals.

I make sure to get enough calories (pushing ~1700 on average right bueno), fiber, and protein.

I think the reason my calorie count is so high is because I eat out of boredom. I was famished for a while in the mid-afternoon. I ate some berries, which are very high in fiber, to no avail. When The Roommie came home and we went to the store to pick up something, I suddenly forgot about the hunger. I even felt full. Perhaps being surrounded by food when I'm at home is the problem and not necessarily what I ingest.

The new strategy to combat that will be to walk around the block (or something equally time-consuming) to get my mind off of food. If I'm still hungry when I get back then I'll eat something but other than that, I'll try to stay busy to avoid eating out of boredom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Breakfast switch-up

I don't function well in the mornings so since I've started eating breakfast regularly, I've had to find something that can be made mindlessly while I'm still waking up. Other criteria include the following:

  • High in fiber so I'm full until lunch
  • Low in calories (300-400 total)
  • Warm for the cold winter months
  • Requires milk (I get grumpy if I don't have dairy in the morning)
  • Relatively cheap per box

Muesli met this criteria. More specifically, Bob's Red Mill Muesli that's sold in bulk at Costco for most of the year and can also be found on Amazon during the summer.

It's super easy to make: 1/2 cup of muesli, 1 cup of 2% milk, microwave for 3 minutes. And super nutritious: 342 calories, 16 g protein, 8 g fiber. Ta-da!

I've been eating this cereal at least 6 times a week for the past year or even more and it's been ok. It's delicious but some days I get hungry ~2 hours after breakfast. This has been especially bad the last week or so when I've been hungry well into the evening. I just can't satiate my hunger!

A non-negotiable part of this weight-loss journey was not feeling hungry as a result of my "diet". That's why I set my daily calorie minimum to 1,500 even though I could go as low as 1,200 and lose weight so much faster. But I'd rather have this lifestyle change be sustainable and cutting out all sweet and delicious foods from my diet was not going to last very long. So I compromised the speed of weight-loss of happiness and so far it's worked.

Consistently feeling hungry after breakfast goes directly against that pact I made with myself. So it's time to switch things up and get more fiber in the morning to hold me over through lunch.

The muesli I buy is simply a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • Whole Grain Wheat
  • Date Crumbles
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Raisins
  • Whole Grain Rye
  • Whole Grain Barley
  • Whole Grain Oats
  • Whole Grain Triticale (wheat)
  • Flaxseed
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
There's no special processing or cooking or baking involved, meaning I can make muesli by myself at home and add whatever I want to satisfy my nutritious requirements. I'll also be able to mix up the ingredients to accommodate my various cravings at any given point (I'm on a coconut kick right now).

So after I finish off the 10 pounds of muesli I just bought from Amazon (no joke), I will be mixing and matching ingredients to get something more filling for breakfast. This hunger has got to go!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Farmers markets

I've really gotten into cooking these days and I prefer fresh ingredients because they're generally tastier than the stuff at the grocery chain.

BUT, I really hate farmer's markets, so instead I shop at the store that has "farmers market" in its title.

With spring already here (although the weather feels otherwise), there's been lots of talk of the excitement of finally shopping for local, fresh ingredients at the farmers market. I cringe every time I hear this.

A blog from which I get a lot of my recipes recently posted a blog post titled, "5 Reasons Why Your Partner Doesn't Actually Want to Go to the Farmers Market With You."

This could easily be retitled "Why Augeremt Really Hates Farmers Markets," since it is so spot on.

So if you want to know my reasons for hating farmers markets, read the article here:
5 Reasons Why Your Partner Doesn't Actually Want to Go to the Farmers Market With You

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fat season

With the weather being so shitty this winter, I haven't had a chance to ride my bike as much as I did last year. As a result, I'm not exercising as much (biking is the only form of exercise I actually enjoy) and thus I've lost a bunch of muscle mass in my legs since November.

For a while I tried to minimize this loss of muscle mass by going to the gym and running. However, the muscle mass keeps creeping lower and lower even with all the effort I put in. I wanted to check my fat % today to see how much damage I've done by sitting around, but our bathroom scale is currently drying out after it sat in an inch of water when our toilet flooded our entire apartment. So I'm left with looking at just a number that gives my overall weight. While it is a few pounds lower than last time I checked (yay!), I know a lot of that weight-loss is actually fat replacing muscle.

This used to make me really depressed but I've come to terms with the fact that my body will become a bit flabbier during some parts of the year or even my life and that's ok. As the past year and a half have shown me, I can get fitter and leaner if I put in the work. It's not impossible, but just takes time and effort that I am totally capable and willing to do.

So while I am still in fat season, it is slowly coming to an end with the onset of spring, which means more bike riding and bigger quads and calves relatively soon. I can't wait!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nalesniki (crêpes) recipe

I grew up eating naleśniki (crêpes) and while I know the basic recipe for the dough (flour, milk, eggs, salt), I can rarely remember the proper proportions.

So here is the most recent recipe I used that seems to be pretty delicious:

Servings: 11 small, thin naleśniki (6-inch diameter)

  • 150 g all-purpose white flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250 mL 2% milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • More milk to get desired consistency
  • Cooking spray
The 150 g of flour to 250 mL milk ratio makes the dough a little too thick so I added a few splashes of milk to get it a bit thinner, probably close to 1/4 cup.

On the other hand, the consistency of the original recipe is perfect for making jabłka w cieście (apples in batter) so I'm going to list the intended recipe up here for that.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Slow cooker to Dutch oven conversion

Here is the conversion for recipes for a slow cooker to cooking in a Dutch oven:

Slow cooker low setting:
1/4 the time at 325 F

Slow cooker high setting:
1/2 the time at 325 F

Polenta in a rice cooker

I love eating polenta but I don't like making it. You have to stir it every 2-3 minutes for up to half an hour. I have better things to do with my time.

So I discovered how to cook polenta in a rice cooker. Here it is:

Servings: 4
  • 1 cup coarse polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (you may want to adjust this to suit you)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or other oil such as olive oil
  1. Place the ingredients into your rice cooker.
  2. Cook on the white rice setting until done (15 - 20 minutes).
  3. Add cheese (2 tbsp Parmesan) or other ingredients just before serving.

This usually takes 15 - 20 minutes, which is so much faster than stirring for that time!

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's working!

Changing my calorie burning goals was a GREAT idea. For example, today I ran 1.5 miles, sprinted up a hill (the hill) 6 times, and walked home 1.5 miles. I'm on track to burn 2160 calories for the day.

Normally, this would upset me because with that exercise I still won't reach my goal of 2,300 calories burned. But now that I've changed my goal to 2,000 calories, I'm absolutely ecstatic. With this progress, I'm guaranteed to lose at least a pound a week if I keep my food intake under control. It's great to know that I'm actually losing weight with all the effort I'm putting in lately.

The same feeling of "Awesome! I've burned a ton of calories." came yesterday after a morning of snowboarding. In the 1.5 hours I actually spent on the mountain doing things, I burned about 600 calories more than I would've had I been sitting on the couch. For that much exercise, 600 calories isn't much. But considering I only need to burn 2,000 burned daily, it totally busted that goal and I was incredibly happy with myself.

Moral of the story (and my motto in life): Lower your expectations and you'll never be disappointed.

Just kidding. The better moral is to have realistic expectations so that the motivation to achieve them is not lacking.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My kryptonite

This holiday season has taught me that beer is not the only thing that I simply can't have in moderate quantities. You can add chocolate, blue cheese, deli meat, and any sort of baked good to that list.

I've been pretty good about controlling my drinking for the past two weeks in that I haven't had much beer or wine but have instead saved it for "special occasions". There have only been three of those, such as when family friends came over for dinner, our family Christmas Eve dinner, and another dinner party right before New Year's. I imbibed A LOT during those times, but didn't have even a sip of alcohol on the remaining days.

However, I ate a lot of chocolate, blue cheese, deli meat, and any sort of baked good. For example, I ate a whole circle round thing of blue cheese between yesterday and today. I just couldn't control myself. It was soooooooo good.

As a result, I'm pretty sure I gained a bunch of weight during these past two weeks, and most of it is not due to alcohol. I weighed myself last night (big mistake) and was up nearly 10 pounds. TEN POUNDS!!! Most of that is alcohol water weight and also the food I'd consumed that day, but only a few of those came off between last night and this morning. I can feel my gut being bigger and I'm up a belt hole, so I'm pretty sure some of that weight gain is here to stay.

The good news is that I know the recipe for losing weight and I'm also really good at keeping my kryptonite foods away on a day-to-day basis. It's these vacation weeks that do me in! At home, I can have a piece of chocolate one day, some cake another day, and a couple of slices of prosciutto later in the week. But at my parents' house or elsewhere on vacation, I consume them all in one sitting. It's pretty bad, like all sense of self-control is gone and I revert back to my fat self desires.

The even better news is that I'm headed home this evening and can start having willpower once again. I've even developed some sort of training plan that involves lots of running because it's too cold to bike and I can feel my muscles atrophying. Soon enough, I'll be back on track to get skinny by the summer.