Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stress and Weight Loss

As we all know, stress can have a real impact on weight loss. For some people stress can lead to emotional eating, or cause someone to lose weight from not eating.

This last week I was dealing with the latter. After the dissolution of my 8 year relationship with my former fiance, I lose 8lbs in one week. This is NOT healthy. Believe me I was thrilled to see the numbers, but it's time to get back to eating right and getting back to my exercise regimen.

I have lost a total of 34 pounds now, and dropped my BMI by over 4 points. Let's see what some exercise does to those numbers!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Past failure, future sucess.

Finally worked out for the first time in over a month. Not beating myself up, glad I am getting back into the swing of things. I've lost 28 lbs now and feel great, but I wonder how much I would have lost if I had exercised the whole time. Legs are a bit sore since it's been awhile but I feel good in general and that's what matters. Have also developed a daily habit of actually taking my vitamins which helps too. So keep on trucking, don't let your past failures stop you from future sucess.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thank You Readers!!

I just want to say thank you for reading my blog, and being with me as I try and create a human transformation. To date we have had over 1,000 hits on my site and it thrills me that people out there are enjoying the topics I'm covering.

To date I have lost 26 pounds and they keep falling off each week. I hope you readers have found tips and suggestions to help you as well. If anyone has a specific topic or subject they would like to know more about please let me know. Suggestions are always welcome.

Again thank you to my readers, and I hope you stick with me!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Calorie Counting vs. Weight Watchers Points Plus

A few weeks ago, I decided I would try counting points+ and calories and see how I felt about the two. I will start off by saying I HATED trying to calculate points. I have a handy little app on my phone that did most of the work for me and I still felt it was a pain.

I only counted WW Points+ for a few days, but it just irritated me. I was, however, not irritated by simply counting calories. For me, this was just much simpler, and admittedly, I may not be getting as much information about what I eat, or percentages; but the results still speak for themselves.

I have lost 5lbs in the last 2 weeks, counting calories alone. I have slacked off on working out but still the scale dips lower and lower. I have now lost nearly one third of weight I am striving to lose and my pants keep getting looser.

If Weight Watchers isn't your thing, give calorie counting a shot. I know it takes some effort but if you track as you eat, but this will help keep you from over eating during the day. When I see I only have 500 calories left at the end of the day for dinner, I plan a dinner that's right around 500 calories.

Try my favorite Calorie Counting App! Available on the iPhones, Blackberries and Android Phones.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ghirardelli Chocolate and Caramel Squares

In my quest to lose weight I am trying to cut back on my sweets. Finding treats that are low in calories and still leave me feeling like I got my sugar fix are hard to find.

Yesterday, I tried the new Ghirardelli chocolate and caramel squares. It was a variety back that features a dark chocolate with caramel, a milk chocolate with caramel and a milk chocolate with a a vanilla caramel.

Oh My Goodness! So delicious! They just melt in your mouth. The vanilla caramel was my favorite, I tries the regular caramel in milk chocolate too. I don't like dark chocolate very much, and usually only when accompanied by mint, like a Klondike bar or Junior Mints.

The bag specifies that 3 squares is a serving, and consists of 220 calories. However, these puppies were so sweet I was able to eat one, and like half an hour later try another one. Therefore, I had two small 75 calorie chocolates :)

If you need to keep a small, utterly rich and delicious treat around, grab a bag of these. Just remember to eat one at a time, and savor it so you don't devour the whole bag.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Funny but Gross

While reading my morning weight loss and fitness emails today I ran across a very crude and funny article.

The  article is the about the fact that Pringles Light uses Olean (the brand name of Olestra) as a way to reduce the amount of bad fats they use to make their "light" chips and the side effects of eating them.

For you who do not know, Olestra has some pretty nasty side effets including loose stool, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Also Olestra inhibits absorption of certain vitamins and nutrients.

The FDA was also very hesitant to approve this product fearing consumers would eat more junk food with Olestra since it had less calories and would not make healthier choices in their food.

Well Olestra/Olean were approved by the FDA and are now in several varieties of chips. The writer of this article learned first hand about the after math of eating to many Olean chips. Readers beware, this article is graphic and kind of raunchy, but it has a point. Read at your own risk...

The Article: Pringles Light!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Food TV Blues

I have a hard time watching cooking shows. They have this horrible side effect of making me think I am hungry.

However, I've learned it's better to watch my cooking shows after I have eaten. The food still looks amazing, but I'm not as tempted to eat.

Plus I get inspired to try and make the food I saw on the show or some healthier version.

We watched Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives tonight and they had a pretty good looking veggie burger, but now I want to make my own! I will try and find a recipe to share...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hydrate yourself

It's very important to properly hydrate yourself at all times. Drinking water is vital to keeping your body healthy.

Yes coffee and soda do count, but they also have ingredients that are not good for you and do not flush out your body like water does.

It's also very common to wean yourself off soda with water. Soda is a hard habit to break believe me I know first hand how hard.

Drinking water also combats water weight. It sounds silly, but your body won't retain and hold excess water if you are properly hydrated.

So drink your eight glasses today!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Homemade Pizza

Last night we made our own pizza at home and it was delicious. I picked up the Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough in a tube in the dairy section at Safeway yesterday for half price!

I already had sun dried tomatoes in the cupboard and crimini mushrooms from two nights ago. I grabbed some spinach from the produce section and bought some pre-cooked roasted chicken pieces. Another item I already had in my fridge is a tube of fresh Italian herbs, which I mixed into a little bit of oil.

We bake the pizza crust on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes before you add your toppings and bake for an additional 6-10 minutes. I smeared some of my herb oil on the crust and sprinkled on shredded mozzarella cheese, diced chicken, sun dried tomatoes, crimini mushrooms and onion.

When it came out of the oven I sprinkled it with a little Parmesan cheese. It was amazing. It was very light, but still was very filling. The only improvement I felt was the oil herb mixture needed more Italian herb mixture.

My significant other made his pizza his way. It consisted of sun dried tomatoes mixed into a Alfredo Marinara sauce we had in the fridge, with chicken, mushrooms, lots of onion and mozzarella cheese. I tried to only eat a bite, but I ended up eating a whole slice of his too.

Best part, I ate like 1/4 of the pizza and only put myself back 485 calories. A slice of pizza from the leading pizza chains can set you back anywhere from 300-600 calories PER slice, and we all know they don't use fresh ingredients.

Admittedly, my dough wasn't fresh and the chicken was precooked but I still think it's a step up from the fast food choice.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You're getting sleepy

What's the connection between sleep and weight loss/gain? Well, there seems to be a whole lot of different opinions out there on the subject. However, they all seem to have a common thread.

Those who sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night, will have a much better chance of losing weight, and keeping it off. For those who sleep less then 7 hours a night, you have a 30% higher chance of obesity.

Scientists are still trying to track down the exact cause, but it seems that the lack of sleep affects two important hormones in your body. Ghrelin is the hormone in your body that tells you you are hungry, and Leptin is the hormone that tells your body you're full.

For those who sleep less, there is higher levels of Ghrelin and lower levels of Leptin. Therefore, your body is being told to eat more and told to stop less.

However, for those people suffering from sleep apnea this is not always the case, sometimes it's actually reversed and the person can have abnormally high levels of Leptin, but the brain doesn't seem to get the message. Once sleep apnea is treated in patients, it is common for patients to naturally lose weight once sleeping patterns are restored.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it is to try and get 8 hours of sleep tonight and every night! You need it, and so do I! (Wish someone told that to the cops last night when they swarmed my apartment building at 1am to arrest my neighbor!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Week's Progress

This week has been fairly good. I had hit a plateau for a week or two and the scale wasn't really moving. However, after downloading the My Fitness Pal app on my android phone and religiously counting calories, I am down 3 lbs! I still feel like I need to boost up the actual exercise though. Even when I work out 2-3 times a week, I feel like I should be doing more.

However, I am losing just the right amount every week or two weeks though, so I remind myself it took 18 years to get this heavy it's going to take at least that many months to lose it all. If I keep it up at this pace I should be right where I want to be by next summer! Look out swimsuit here I come!

So just remember, take it one day at a time. This will not happen over night and don't kill yourself trying to do that. Baby steps...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's your dream home gym?

Not everyone has the luxury of having a gym membership or a home gym set up. I am lucky and have the Wii Fit, but I am looking to expand and gradually build a home gym for the whole family to utilize.

Here's what I would like in my home gym:

1. Pro-Form XT 70 Treadmill - $400
I miss my treadmill, and wish I had been even half as dedicated when I had it, then now. Treadmills are great Aerobic exercise and with a treadmill you can workout in the comfort of your own home, and out of the weather.

2. Stamina CPS 1305 Indoor Upright Exercise Bike - $110
Another great aerobics work out. Also nice for when you'd like to work out and still have the option to sit down and read, or play on your phone.

3. Century Aerobic Waivemaster Punching Bag - $92
I would like to strengthen up my arms, but I live in an apartment, therefore I can't go hanging a heavy bag from the ceiling. So this free standing version would be a better (and cheaper) option.

4. Valeo Adjustable Wrist and Ankle Weights - $13
These are totally cool ankle/wrist weights that are adjustable. There are five pockets with one pound removable weights, letting you go from 1 to 5 pounds. Plus wearing wrist or ankle weights leaves your hands free. Buy 2 sets and you can wear them on your ankles and wrists at the same time for extra strength building.

5. Weider 65cm Stability Ball - $15
These exercise balls are great for core work outs and sit ups. One of these can help tone up your tummy. I had one when I was pregnant, it was great till either a cat or small child popped it later on :) I'm still not sure which it was...

6. Tone Fitness 5, 10 & 15 pound Vinly Cement Kettlebell Set - $35
These have become fairly popular in gyms and work outs I've seen advertised lately and would like to give them a try. I like that it comes with 3 different weights, so you can start out small and work your way up.

The grand total for my dream gym actually comes to a nice moderate price of $755 before tax and any shipping costs. Considering how many single machines I have seen out there for thousands of dollars, I was surprised with my grand total.

What would you put in your dream gym? Are you trying to bulk up or slim down? How much would your dream home gym cost you?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marijuana Deficiency?? Is it possible?

While browsing facebook today, I came across an interesting article about marijuana I would like to share. I am a strong believer in Medical Marijuana and have seen first hand the benefits it can have on patients.

However, this article comes to the conclusion that the marijuana isn't just helping keep the symptoms in check, but actually has the missing components our body needs that cause such ailments as: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Migraines and Fibromyalgia.

Why is this? Most humans are what scientists call endocannabinoid deficient. These endocannabinoids help regulate appetite, anxiety control, blood pressure, bone mass, reproduction, motor control and more. Marijuana naturally fills the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Another important thing this article discussed was the difference in "intoxicants" and how marijuana is "remarkably non-toxic"! You can do more harm to your body (especially your liver) with a couple of Tylenol then you could ever do with marijuana.

Here's the story on Marijuana Deficiency if you would like to read it. I know this doesn't touch on the subject of weight loss, but it does concern healthier living and so I felt it should be included.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dirty Truth about PB&J's

I love a good Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, but I hadn't really thought about the calories. Now that I'm an adult and trying to lose weight I am finding out more and more about the foods I like and have eaten without thought in the past.

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread is roughly 450 calories, if you're using Weight Watchers Plus Points, this is a whopping 12 points! When you're limited to around 35 points a day this childhood favorite becomes more of a harsh reality check.

I can't say enough about counting calories and/or tracking points. It is an eye opener and you will learn a lot about your eating habits, good or bad! Try and find healthier alternatives to your more calorie laden favorites. I'm still looking for a good pb&j replacement...

Housework & Calories

One of the main reasons I will put off a work out is if my house is dirty, or the chores are piling up. Instead of feeling guilty for cleaning my house instead of working out, I did some research.

Turns out you can burn a lot of calories doing your everyday routine. Here's some example of calories burned doing everyday tasks around your home. These calculations are per half an hour, so set your timer and get moving!

(Note: These calculations are based on my current weight and will vary somewhat between individuals)


1. Cooking - 140 calories

2. Carrying an Infant -195 calories

3. Gardening - 285 calories

4. General Housework - 150 calories

5. Ironing Clothes - 120 calories

6. Loading/Unloading Car - 165 calories

7. Mopping - 235 calories

8. Mowing with a Push Mower - 230 calories

9. Pushing Child in Stroller - 140 calories

10. Putting Away Groceries - 140 calories

11. Raking Leaves - 220 calories

12. Re-arranging Furniture - 350 calories

13. Sex - 225 calories

14. Shopping - 125 calories

15. Shovel Snow - 320 calories

16. Washing the Car - 235 calories

17. Washing Dishes - 120 calories

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

10 Healthy Snack Choices

When the munchies strike, don't let it ruin your day! There's plenty of healthy choices, it's just knowing what to grab. So the next time you hit the store or the pantry grab some of these snacks and snack guilt free!

1. White Cheddar Popcorn (1 3/4 cups = 160 cals) That's a lot of popcorn! Make sure you stick with air popped.

2. Glazed Cashews ( 1/4 cup = 150 cals) Calories vary by nuts, but nuts have a lot of the good fats that your body needs and help lower bad cholesterol.

3. "Grown Up" Cereal  (3/4 cup w/ skim milk = 220 cals) Stay away from sugary coated kid's cereals, I like Raisin Nut Bran

4. Hard Pretzels Sticks (53 sticks = 100 cals) Pretzels are a great salty snack and make great party food.

5. SunChips ( 15 chips = 140 cals) I love SunChips, and they make a great alternative to fried potato chips.

6. Apple w/ Peanut Butter (Apple + 2Tbsp PB = 260 cals) This is not the easiest on the go snack, but if you're home this makes a great filling snack.

7. Raisinets (1 bag = 100 cals) Chocolate covered raisins or cranberries make a great treat when you are craving something sweet.

8. Fudgesicles (1 Popsicle = 100 cals) These sweet frozen treats are a wonderful replacement for calorie laden ice creams.

9. Yogurt (6 oz = 150-200 cals) I can't say enough good things about yogurt, especially for women's bone health.

10. Smoothies (1 cup = 170-250 cals) Smoothies make a great filling snack that also gives you lots of natural vitamins and energy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apps, Apps and More Apps!

So I have an Android phone with no phone service, but it does everything else and we have it set up on our wireless network. I have been downloading apps like a mad woman.

You are probably wondering, "What does this have to do with weight loss?" There are dozens and dozens of weight loss, exercise, calorie and point counting apps out there. Some apps cost moolah, but I have been sticking with just the free apps.

One of my favorite apps I downloaded is Restaurant Calorie by Reza Shay. This app has the nutritional facts list for 50 of the most popular fast food restaurants nation-wide. What a great tool for when you are out and about and want to find the healthy choice.

I also downloaded a few different Weight Watcher Points Plus calculators. I've decided to track my calories and use the points system to see how they compare. I will figure out which app I like best and post about it in the near future.

There's also pedometers, exercise workouts and routines, and even Gps software that can track where and how long you ran. If you have a smart phone you should check out some apps that can help you stay on track, or just make it all a little more fun!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yummy Snack

Late last night at Safeway I had a hankering for yogurt. I grabbed two of the Fage (pronounced Fa-yeh! according to the package) Greek Strained Yogurt with cherry. My significant other is trying to be more adventurous with his food, and decided he wanted to try Greek yogurt. Sadly, he has decided he does not like Greek yogurt, plain, vanilla or with fruit. I, however, have found that I quite like it, especially with fruit.

The Fage Greek yogurt with fruit comes in a single serving container and has only 130 calories in 5.3 oz which is less then a Yoplait Original. The Fage has only 2% milk fat and only 2.5 grams of total fat, and 18 grams of carbs which is only 6% of the daily values. So all in all it's a very nice healthy snack or breakfast food, and low fat.

For those of you who do not know what the difference is between Greek and regular yogurt, the main thing you will notice is taste. Greek yogurt is not sweet, it taste closer to sour cream and it's very thick. I like the sourish flavor next to the sweet of the cherry, and it gives it a sweet and savory quality that I like.

If you feel like experimenting with a new food, give the Greek yogurt a shot, or try some new flavors of regular yogurt if you decide it's not your cup of tea. Yogurt is a great snack, especially for women, who need extra calcium.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Skirts, Bikinis and Shorts...Oh MY!

I saw a commercial the other day where a woman was working out and with each stretch she listed summer clothes she wants to fit like skirts, bikinis and shorts. This commercial struck me deep down and I've kind of incorporated it into my workouts.

It can be really hard to get through 30 minutes of any kind of workout, so finding ways to stay on track and motivated are important. I think about this commercial when I work out and envision myself in gorgeous summer clothes I've never been able to wear, like a two piece!

Focus on your reason for losing weight while working out. I have multiple reasons and I try and think about them all. I think about being healthier, how I will look thinner, what clothes I can fit, and I think about the things I can't do now because of my weight.

I would like to run a marathon and at my current weight and fitness level that's not going to happen, but who's to say in 6 months what I can or can't do if I keep up on my workouts.

So for all of you out there struggling, remember why you are doing this and picture it in your mind, the minutes on the workout clock will start moving faster if you're not focused on it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Great Combo

In the last few months I have developed a love for oatmeal and cranberries. As a child I hated oatmeal and cranberries, and I'm not sure if eating better, or just growing up caused the change in my pallet.

I have had cranberry oatmeal granola bars, cranberry and granola cereal and then two days ago I found cranberry oatmeal cookies at the store. Yum! These cookies were amazing. It was a two pack of jumbo cookies from the bakery at Safeway. The only bummer is the bakery doesn't list their nutritional facts on the packaging.

So, today I am hunting down a low calorie cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe to try. I always have oatmeal and dried cranberries in the pantry and I am looking forward to making some of my own here at home. These would be a great filling snack and would even make a great breakfast for someone on the go.

I will follow up on this post with the results, recipes and nutrition facts!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One of My Favorite Blogs

One of the blogs that I read on a daily basis is Snack Girl. This woman puts her heart and soul into finding and creating nutritious, low calorie snacks and food ideas and sharing them with people.

Check out Snack Girl sometime and if you like what you see sign up for her daily emails and she'll send you a list of 100 healthy snacks. She includes the nutritional facts for each snack or recipe she features. She also recently revamped all her old articles with new plus points information for those doing Weight Watchers or counting points.

If you are trying to lose weight, or just eat better you should really check out her site. She has a love for avacados that I just can't understand but most everything else on the site peaks my interest, and most of her snacks are adaptable.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Metabolism Boost

So what are easy ways to boost your metabolism? There are some simple changes you can make to your life that will encourage your metabolism to rev up.

The first is one we've all heard is eat breakfast. I love breakfast food, but was never good at eating it during the morning. I spent years skipping breakfast, sometimes lunch too, and then pigged out for dinner. My attitude was I haven't eaten all day so I can eat all my calories for dinner! Never mind I was already drinking over half of my calories in soda.

Since I have incorporated breakfast into my life, I wake up hungry and I can feel the difference, especially if I eat something good for breakfast. I also make sure I eat lunch and a small dinner.

Another way to boost your metabolism is exercise. Even if it's just parking at the outskirts of the parking lot and walking more, or start an actual work out program, this will force your metabolism to pick up. As you build muscle strength and your muscles get bigger they will burn calories more efficiently as well.

Stop eating a few hours before bed. Your body burns calories much slower in the evening and while you are sleeping. Think about your dinner sitting in your stomach at night adding fat to your system. If you stop eating a few hours before bed, you have the opportunity to digest and burn off most of your dinner before going to bed. This will also make eating breakfast much easier as you will be hungry in the morning.

Try any or all of these tips for just a week. I know you will feel the results, and you may notice a change on the scale at the end of the week too.

Friday, April 1, 2011

10 Fun Ways to Lose Weight this Spring!

Spring is here and it's one of my favorite times of year, and not just because my birthday is the first day of the spring season. It's the time of year when everything is coming in to bloom and the sun starts coming back around.

I am looking forward to getting outside more now with the change in the weather and have some ideas on how to have fun in the sun and lose some weight.

1. Walking through the park or trails.

2. Farmers Markets are a great way to do a lot of walking and pick up some fresh produce for the week.

3. Take your bike instead of your car. Just running out for some bread? Ride a bike instead of driving to the store.

4. Swimming is great exercise and the lowest impact of any exercise. Water workouts are also great for people with back or other injuries.

5. Gardening, doesn't seem like a workout? Try working up a sweat pulling weeds and tone your arms at the same time.

6. Wall or rock climbing is a lot of fun. I haven't gone since I was about 15 but I had a blast when I went, and it's great strength training.

7. Spring Cleaning! Set a good fast pace, maybe blast some music and burn calories while making your house look better at the same time! Two birds, one stone!

8. Fruit Salad. I know this isn't a workout but fruit is very good for you, it has lots of things your body needs, it taste great and will naturally help you slim down. Try it as a lunch or breakfast replacement.

9. Go Fly a Kite...Literally! It's fun to teach your kids to fly a kite, or just fly one yourself. Get a running start with your kite and keep going!

10. Horse riding is a lot of fun, and it's a good strength training. Your core and legs get a great workout from horse riding. Lots of places have horses you can rent and ride with out the massive expense of owning a horse.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Falling Off the Wagon

So I fell off the wagon a little bit this last week and was a little upset when I saw the scale. However, I decided it wasn't going to stop me and went to do my workout, until the batteries in my Wii Fit balance board died on me. So now I am waiting for them to charge.

I am still not going to let it get me down. If I have to wait till this evening to do my work out, I will make sure I do it. My new attitude is not the typical "I failed so I should give up" but is now, "I learned my lesson and will try not to make the same mistake again."

It's important to recognize that you made a mistake and learn from it. Don't tear yourself up, remember that it takes lots of practice and that when you fall off the horse you get back on.

This week I will work harder on counting my calories and making sure to work out each day. What are your goals this week?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A New Do for the New You!

To date after working out for about 9 weeks now and I have lost 15 pounds, over 16 inches and dropped 2 pant sizes. My sister also gave me a bunch of clothes that didn't fit her right, and today she took me out to get my hair done for my birthday.

I feel like a whole new person. I've lost only a fifth of the weight I'd like to lose but I already feel so much better, and the new do added an extra bounce to my step today.

I look good and I feel good, and nothing is more motivating to keep going then that. My dad called me on my birthday and asked me if I felt old, and for the first time I honestly said No! I feel younger, healthier and happier then I have since I was probably 15.

I love my new do and I can't wait to see how it looks when I've lost even more weight. Keep on keeping on!

(UPDATE: I took my measurements after making this post and I'm actually down more then 20 inches! Take that fat!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Medium! Medium! Medium!

For the first time since I was like 10 or 11, I fit into a medium shirt!! I've lost 14 pounds and over 16 inches since I started doing cardio 4-5 times a week. It feels great to fit into something that small, even if it's a little snug. I've gone down two pant sizes so far but would like to go down a couple more sizes. But Yea Medium!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Children and Healthy Habits

Growing up, I knew I was over weight. What I didn't know was how to change it. I was told to get out more often, eat better. No one taught me about calories, nutrition facts or aerobic exercise. I'm not angry about it, health and weight education was not as readily available as it is today.

When I was thirteen, my family and I talked to my doctor about my weight I was prescribed the diet drug combo knows as Phen-Fen, until I fell to the floor with chest pains and was told to quit immediately. Since then I have tried other diet pills and crash diets. No one taught me about lifestyle changes and healthy habits.

I am very thankful that now, when my kids are growing up, healthy choices are in the spotlight. People have gotten tired of being fed over sized, high calorie meals and are now pushing corporations to make changes. The government is also making steps towards changing how people think and feel about their food, and Kudos! to Michelle Obama for her "Let's Move" campaign and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution for bringing that to our children.

I am proud to say that my children are aware that what they eat and exercise are important. They both know and understand what a nutrition label is and why I am reading them. (They even brought me home 2 of my favorite Naked Juices instead of cake for my birthday yesterday, because they know I am trying to lose weight and eat better.)

It's important for us to teach our children about making healthy choices. Talk to your kids when you are reading labels, tell them why the ingredients you are using are healthy, tell them why you are grabbing a diet instead of a regular soda. They listen and absorb more then you would think. Help your children make the choices that will lead to a healthier lifestyle as adults.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Natural Food?

There is no such thing as super natural food right? By that logic everything is natural, from the blueberries picked off the bush to the rubber in your tires. That means that every thing you eat is technically "natural" by the meaning of the word.

I find it hilarious how many companies and products are labelling their food as healthy and all natural, like Pizza Hut when they came out with their "Natural Pizza," I wanted to laugh. There was nothing special about that pizza, nor the word natural.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration do not regulate the word natural, and there for everyone can slap the label natural on anything they like, even genetically modified foods can be given the term natural, and most people just accept it as a healthy choice.

Well Stop! Please remember that marketing comes up with these coined terms and ideas, to make you think things are healthier then they are. You have to try and remain objective, read labels and think for yourself!

If someone does find a super natural food though, please let me know! Can you just see ghostly bell peppers, or bread with ESP? I can just hear it now... "don't eat me!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Food Journals and Calorie Tracking

So why is keeping a food journal or calorie tracking so important? Because keeping a record of what you consume will tell you a lot about where your specific issue lie. Your calorie consumption might be fine and you need to increase your exercise, or you may find you need to cut back your daily calories with, or with out exercise.

Calorie tracking is a great way to monitor what you are putting in your body on a daily basis. Consider creating a food journal as well, in place of just tracking calories. Track what time you ate each item, how hungry you were at the time, how did you feel when you were eating each item, and how long you felt satisfied from what you ate.

This can help you get an even more in depth look at your habits and can really help break emotional eating cycles. The more you are aware of, the more you can fine tune and make changes where they are needed.

Tracking and logging, admittedly, are time consuming but it is definitely worth the effort, and I promise you will learn something about your eating habits you didn't know before. Honestly, I had no idea how many calories I consumed in an average day, until I spent two weeks keeping track and wow is it an eye opener.

There are some really great tools on the internet for tracking calories, or creating a food journal or log. Some websites offer printable pages for keeping logs, and some websites have fully interactive online calorie trackers that allow you to enter your calories and track your progress all in one place.

Here's a few websites that offer calorie tracking:

My Calorie Counter by Everyday Health

Calorie Count

My Pyramid

There's many options available online and I highly recommend checking out a few sites and trying one out for a while and see what you learn.

One more really great site for calorie tracking is Calorie King, they have an impressive database of nutrition facts for all sorts of foods, whole foods and pre-packaged and restaurant foods. They do offer paid programs and services for weight loss, but the actual food database is free to use and is a great resource.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Article I Read about Regret & Guilt

I have signed up for several different blogs and emails from other weight loss websites and blogs, and I try and read them everyday. I find a lot of great ideas and inspiration for new ideas for my blog.

Calorie Count is a website that offers a lot of online tools for weight loss and better living, including a calorie journal, daily emails and advice. I signed up a few months back and receive the daily emails and find that most of the time the headline will get me to open and read the article.

Today's article really hit home, it put two very strong emotions, into the form of characters in a story, Regret and her horrible twin Guilt. It talks about the differences in the two emotions and how regret often leaves us with a lesson learned and guilt just leads to more guilt.

If you have ever had a hard time trying to lose weight and felt bad about it in any way I encourage you to read this article. I found that while I used to really relate to the Sister Guilt, since changing my outlook on my lifestyle and weight, I find myself feeling more and more like Sister Regret.

Which sister do you relate to most? Does it make you want to change your frame of mind?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Dreaded Countdown Clock

Do you dread looking at the clock while you are working out? How does it affect your work out?

I watch the clock as it counts down and I enjoy seeing how much I have done and how little I have left to do. Occasionally it seems a little depressing to see I'm only 10 minutes in to a 30 minute work out, but then I just tell myself you're already a third of the way done.

I tend to daydream while I work out and find it helps me get through it quicker and with less glances at the clock as it counts down, and when I do look at the clock I'm usually surprised to see how much time has passed.

I have not tried doing my work out with out a clock being visible, and think I will give it a try soon and see if it makes a difference.

How do you handle the ticking clock? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? Try and stay positive and remember every minute you do is a minute you've earned. We all know that the word work is a key part of the phrase work out, and while you're not getting paid cash for your work, you are being rewarded with better health and pounds shed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music to Make You Move

One of the ways I keep my work out from boring the heck out of me is music. I have a very large collection of mp3's and have multiple playlists that I like to listen to when I work out.

The key is to find music that makes you want to move and add it to your work out. I like a lot of rap and hip hop, but I also like a lot of alternative rock and what I call Fem Rock, which is angry girl music :)

So make a playlist today and get to working out. Remember to mix it up once and while or you're going to get bored again. And if you like to sing along, please do it! It's great for your lungs to sing while you are working out, why do you think the military has running cadences?

My current playlist:
Ayo Technology - 50 cent & Justin Timberlake
Love the Way You Lie - Eminem & Rihanna
Running Up That Hill - Placebo
I'd Start a Revolution - Aimee Allen
Halo - Beyonce
Wall to Wall - Chris Brown
What I Got - Sublime
9 to 5 - Lady Sovreign
Intuition - Jewel
Oh Timbaland - Timbaland

It's over 30 minutes of music, as I do warm up stretching before and after. I also keep the playlist on random, keeps me on my toes!

Why do I want to lose weight?

I have been overweight since I was 10 years old. I was a skinny kid and then we moved, I didn't know anyone and dived head first into books and drawing. I spent most of my days on my bed reading, writing, and drawing; anything but get out and get physically active.

By my mid-teens I had found some friends and had become more active and I did a lot of walking and started to lose just a little bit of weight. Then, at the very young age of 16, I got pregnant, this did not help me lose any weight. I didn't put much on with my son, and lost most of it over the next few years.

At the age of 22 I had my second child, and put on 50 pounds. I only lost about 15 pounds in the year or so after the pregnancy. Then over the last few years I just let myself slip even more till I weighed 5 pounds more then I did at my heaviest pregnancy weight.

Then, a year ago, I was told that my cholesterol was borderline high and with the family history of heart attacks and my previous trips to the ER for chest pains, I had made up my mind. It was time to fix things.

After spending almost a year reading nutrition facts and labels and trying to eat healthier, I realized I still wasn't losing any weight. I felt better about what I was eating, but not any better about my figure.

So, for Christmas, I asked for the Wii Fit. I started working out 2-3 days a week doing a random combination of exercises available through the Wii Fit. After a month of not really seeing much in the way of results, I had decided to switch to strictly cardio. Now I workout 5 days a week for 30 minutes or more and I have lost 12 pounds and 16 inches in 2 months.

I feel much better then I ever did. I don't get winded doing simple things any more. My pants keep getting looser and I've had to give away a bunch of clothes that are too big for me now. Which feels great.

Now we know I have medical reasons for trying to lose the weight but that's not the only reason. Like most of you trying to lose weight, I just want to look better too. I want to buy those clothes that have never fit me, I want to be able to wear a bathing suit with out shorts and a t-shirt over them. I want people to look at me and see me, not the extra weight I am carrying.

Why do you want to lose the weight? What keeps you motivated to work out and eat better? I'd love to hear what helps you and what keeps you going!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Safeway's Online Features

I shop at Safeway. I like the products, the deals, and how closely it is located to my place. Another thing I like about Safeway is their online shopping tools. Now I know most places let you shop online, but that's not the cool part. Safeway, (and possibly others, I have yet to check) have a little button next to the items you are shopping for that says more information.

Can you guess what some of that info is? That's right the nutritional facts! This tool is great for when you are creating menus or just curious about the ingredients and nutrition facts.

This tool is also very helpful for me, because it helps me find and input my calories quickly. This makes calorie counting just a little bit simpler. It also saves the amount of time you stand in the aisle at the store looking at labels, time you could be using to work out or just enjoy yourself.

There are some items that will not have the nutritional information available such as items from the bakery or hot deli counter. I try to avoid a lot of these items simply because I have no idea what I am putting in my body at that point. Try and find a comparable treat with the nutrition facts on the package if this happens to you, and tell yourself those cherry turnovers probably have like 600 calories!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Taco Bell or Taco Hell on your diet?

For lunch today my significant other offered to bring home lunch. I was having a hankering for Taco Bell, so I decided to do a little research on Taco Bell's nutritional facts. I came across some things that I was happy with, then I noticed some things that just took my breath away.

Number one would be Taco Bell's Volcano Nachos. Holy cow are these things bad for you. I wouldn't even recommend eating a half an order. There's a whopping 980 calories in these bad boys.

Let's list the facts:

980 calories,
560 calories from fat
9 grams of saturated fat
60 grams of total fat
0.5 grams trans fat
45 mg of cholesterol
1620 mg of sodium
89 grams of carbs
15 grams of fiber
6 grams of sugar
21 grams of protein

Now I will commend them on the fact that the Volcano Nachos do offer about 50% of our recommended fiber for the day. I however, do not think it outweighs the amount of calories, fat, and the 66% of sodium you get from these puppies.

Number two on my list is Taco Bells Taco Salads. I have to admit I have a bit of a beef to pick here. Taco Bell offers 4 taco salads, but don't be fooled! The Taco Salads range from 660-910 calories!! The salad section on Taco Bell's nutrition site has the highest caloric value average for all the groups.

If you really want Taco Bell, and I do, look at the nutrition facts and find the things you like that are the lowest in calories, the crunchy taco only has 170 calories, the beef soft taco only 210 calories, or try one of the many Fresco options they offer.

Just stay away from those Volcano Nachos. Your heart and waistline will thank you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Not letting it get you down

My family did not have a great week. Seemed like nothing was going right, including throwing out my back falling asleep on my couch. I did not blog for days, nor did I exercise. I felt like crap, but I told myself to not let it get me down. Things can only get better and they are slowly improving, including my back.

I did not stop keeping track of my calories though and it showed when I got on the scale and I've lost 3 pounds this week even with out being able to work out. I am planning on trying to go back to a slightly relaxed work out tomorrow and see how things go. Remember it is very important to not push yourself too hard if you have an injury, or you will make things worse.

My point here is not to give up. I hurt myself and couldn't work out but I didn't let myself throw the calorie counting down the drain. I maintained my portion control and it's showing, mostly in my waistline! Remember each day is a battle and just keep fighting.

My favorite breakfast

I have found I really enjoy nuts and dried fruits. As a kid, I was never thrilled with trail mix. Premixed varieties always have something I don't like, or not enough of what I do like. I like making my own trail mix every morning for breakfast. I keep a large container of my choice of nuts (I really like honey roasted peanuts, cashews and pistachios) and a variety of dried fruits in the house.

In the morning I just grab a small handful of the nuts (golf ball size is a portion of nuts) and about half as much of dried fruits and/or berries. My current favorite combination is honey roasted peanuts and raisins.

Not only is this a healthy snack but it fills me up and keeps me going for quite a while. But it also is great cause it satisfies that sweet, salty and savory craving most people suffer from. Another great reason for buying the components individually is you can mix it up from day to day or people. My daughter likes raisins, but my son likes the blueberry Craisins.

Try making your own trail mix and throw it in snack baggies in your purse or desk drawer for a quick but filling snack.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Twist on Pancakes

So due to the snow my kids stayed home this morning, and I was kind of stumped on what to make for breakfast to make everyone happy. I had an ample supply of pancake mix, so pancakes won!

Looking for a healthier alternative to loads of butter and syrup, I went through the cupboards and found a wide variety of dried fruit and berries. In the fridge I had a bottle of maraschino cherries.

We had a large selection to pick from including: Raisins, dried apricots, Craisins and blueberry Craisins, (blueberry Craisins are cranberries that are soaked in blueberry juice and then dried, they are sweeter then regular Craisins) and of course the maraschino cherries!

I made myself 3 small pancakes and chose apricots, blueberry Craisins, and the cherries for my picks. My daughter had raisins and my son had regular Craisins, so they each got one medium sized pancakes.

Now the kids still opted for butter and syrup, so I gave them just a little butter and barely drizzled syrup over their pancakes. If I left the portioning of syrup up to my kids their plates would be covered in the stuff. I chose the healthier route and added a sprinkling of powdered sugar over my fruity little pancakes.

The pancakes turned out amazing! Best part? I was only able to eat half of each of the little pancakes before I was stuffed. So I had a healthy breakfast, I'm full, and it tasted like dessert. Yum!

How do you liven up your pancakes? I'm thinking we should have waffles soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Influence

It can be very hard to stay motivated when trying to lose weight. Finding ways to stay positive and encouraged can be hard. One of the things that motivates me to stay on track is my family.

As you may know from my past postings I've never been a very active person, nor have I paid much attention to my health. I now know I was neglecting more then my own health.

I have started trying to better the whole family's health by improving what we eat and trying to get everyone to engage in more physical activity, and it's working!

My kids have started asking me "Is this a healthy snack Mom?" and they ask me questions about the nutrition facts when I read them out loud to them. They know that soda is a special treat for special occasions.

I've even caught my fiance several times looking at the nutritional facts and making faces as he realizes what I've been realizing the last many months since I made the switch.

Now my kids still HATE wheat bread, but all in all the whole family is thinking about their eating and everyone is trying to keep active. My new habits are even rubbing off on my close friends, who not only listen to my advice and use it but bring me ideas and suggestions they pick up elsewhere.

It feels really good when you can be a positive influence on other in your life. It helps keep me motivated to know that I'm not just improving my health and lifestyle, but I am teaching my kids what's important in the process.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Before You Work Out

There's some simple steps you should take before beginning any kind of exercise regimen or workout. Taking precautions can keep you from injuring yourself or keep you from falling off your program.

1. Consult your physician before beginning any kind of diet, exercise or work out program or major lifestyle changes. This is critical to avoiding injuries to yourself.

2. Drink plenty of water and make sure you eat something with in an hour or two of exercising, but not right before hand. Try and give yourself 30 minutes after eating before working out.

3. Stretch! This is very important, I know it takes extra time and may seem unnecessary, but this will keep you from hurting yourself. Hurting yourself will prevent you from maintaining a regular workout. Remember to only stretch until you're at your limit and hold it for 10-20 seconds at a time.

4. If you do start to hurt listen to your body. Dull pain is generally ok and you can just lighten up a little if you need. Your muscle should hurt a little :) Sharp pain however, can be a sign of a serious injury and you should stop what you are doing and give your body time to rest and recuperate before you begin again.

5. Start slow. Beginners should limit workout times to 10 or 15 minutes and build up slowly adding 5 minutes to their workout routine every week. Pushing yourself too hard will most likely cause you to injure yourself or get frustrated and give up.

6. Don't give up, it gets easier. I can tell you honestly that I hated any kind of physical exercise for almost my entire life, but each day gets a little easier and I'm starting to like it.

7. Tell your friends and family, they will congratulate you and support you. I know it sounds dumb, like you are bragging or something, but if they love you, they will have nothing but encouragement for you.

I hope these tips help. They are working for me so I am happy to share. I've been working out for about 2 months now and I am down 10 pounds, 2 pant sizes and have lost 12 inches from my body!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

How many calories do you drink a day?

I read that the average American consumes 6 cans of soda a day. Let's put that in perspective: 1 can equals 140 calories, so 6 cans is 840 calories a day. You have to burn approximately 3500 calories to lose a pound, or about 4 days of drinking soda to gain a pound.

It's very easy to consume a large amount of calories a day drinking sodas or other drinks that are high in calories and sugar. When I was in my late teens, early twenties, I lost 20 pounds in one year simply from giving up soda. I started drinking it again, and put all the weight back on.

If you are trying to lose some weight cutting out liquid calories is a good place to start, avoid drinks like soda, coffees, sweetened teas, most juices and alcohol. Alcohol and beer are very high in sugars and can pack on the pounds just as quickly as soda. Try finding sugar free or reduced sugar/calorie drinks to replace those sugary drinks.

Here's some low or no calorie drinks suggestions:

1. Water! This is very important. Even if you drink plenty of drinks a day it's still important to drink some water, your body is 80% water and you need to stay hydrated.

2. Try Crystal Light, or another instant drink mix, they have a very large variety of drink choices, and most are 5 calories or less per drink. They also have non-caffeinated choices. My favorite is the Raspberry Green Tea.

3. Sobe LifeWaters are really good. But be careful these come in a regular and a zero calorie version. I opt for the 0 calorie versions and they are really good, but better when they are really cold. I really like the Yumberry Pomegranate.

4. Flavored seltzer waters can help satisfy that craving for bubbles. One of the reasons I love soda so much is the carbonation, but I have found that if I add a seltzer water to a flavored drink packet like the Crystal Light I can make my own variety of sugar free sodas. I like the Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light and one cold can of seltzer water YUM!

5. Diet Soda is always an option. For the longest time I wouldn't touch anything diet, I hated the taste of the artificial sweeteners. I still don't enjoy the sweeteners they use in sodas, but I have found I don't like soda anymore either. It just taste too sweet.

6. Try tea with a little bit of honey or use an artificial sweetener. We use Equal in our house, as it's the only one my Honey likes at all. Sun Tea is another favorite around my house and the kids love to help.

7. Juices can be a great alternative to soda as long as you read the label. Most of those kids juices toting 100% fruit juice use juices that are high in sugar and low in nutritional value like pear juice. I am really hooked right now on the Odwalla and Naked Drinks. These both have some really great stuff in them and while they are a little high in calories, they are very good for you. The Naked drinks also have a reduced calorie version that's very good. My favorite Odwalla drink so far is the Superfood, it looks gross but it tastes amazing.

8. Get the coffee with out the crap! Have a cup of drip with a little low fat milk and Equal or your choice of sweetener. A cup of drip coffee with a little low fat milk will cost you anywhere from 10-20 calories, where as the Starbucks Frappucino will set you back 190 calories for a tall (plus think of the money you save!).

Remember the key is moderation. Having a soda, coffee or even a beer every once in a while won't kill any one, but drinking 6 of any of these a day isn't going to help you lose any weight.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everlast Fit 3" Aerobic Step for the Nintendo Wii Fit

Last night, my significant other and I went out to Best Buy and bought the Everlast Fit 3" Aerobic Step platform for the Wii Fit Balance board. This platform adds the additional inches to bring the Wii Fit Balance board to the step aerobics standard.

Yesterday I had bumped my step aerobics workout time from 30 to 40 minutes. Today with the extra height I only did 30 minutes, but I will tell you I surely felt the burn. I also completed an additional 30 minutes of combined yoga and strength training exercises on my Wii Fit.

The Everlast Fit Step is great. It only set me back $20 (on sale at Best Buy, normally $25), but I know this was a great investment. The platform was also very easy to put together. It comes in three pieces, with four screws and only takes a screwdriver and about 2 minutes to assemble.

The platform once assembled sits under the Wii Fit Balance board and is remarkably stable. I use my Wii Fit in my living room on the carpet, I have not attempted to use it on a hard surface, but it has non slip rubber feet so I don't think it will go anywhere.
If you have a Wii Fit and would like to get more out of your step aerobics workout I highly recommend this product for maximum workout benefits.

(Note: I purchased this product of my choice, I was not asked to do a product review, nor was I given any incentive for completing this review.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Free and Cheap Gym Alternatives

As we all know gym memberships and personal trainers are expensive. Don't let the cost of a gym membership be your excuse. There are plenty of ways to get excersice for little or no cost.

1. Jogging or running is free. This is something you can do outside anywhere you like or even jog around in your house. If you feel like it you can purchase a new or used treadmill.

2. Step Aerobics doesn't have to be in a class, you can do it at home on your own steps, or purchase a step board, they are not very expensive.

3. Youtube has a plethra of workout videos, or you can purchase any number of workout videos online or in stores.

4. Consider joining a local sports team, or find a friend to work out with. Many people will advertise on Craig's List looking for someone to workout with. (PLEASE be careful when dealing with strangers on Craigslist or any other website, take a friend with you and meet in a public place.)

5. Dancing in your house to music can be great exercise. Try and find upbeat music and really move for at least 20 minutes. If you are not sweating and out of breath you're not getting all the benefit.

6. Spinning or bicycling is another great fairly inexpensive way to get a great workkout. Plus buying a bike or a stationary bike is a one time expense, as opposed to a monthly gym membership.

7. Consider signing up for classes at an annex or community college, these are usually failry inexpensive and you get the benefit of having an instructor to help you.

8. Yoga is considered to be an aerobic exercise as well, and if you don't want to join a yoga class you can watch some videos on youtube, or buy a video.

9. The Wii Fit for those of you who have a Wii or would like to get one this is a great program not only because of exercises but because there is an instructor programmed in to guide you along the way.

Now you can't let that "I can't afford a gym" mentailty get to you anymore. You can workout anywhere, you just have to want it bad enough. Stick with it and you'll be much happier with yourself.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Size vs. Weight

Which is more important? Honestly I think the answer should be getting healthy above all else. Yes we all have that ideal number in our head of how much we'd like to weigh, or what size we'd like to be. I, however, am trying to only focus on different numbers. Those numbers are minutes of exercise in a day and how many calories I eat.

I have been working out for 30 minutes a day doing step aerobics. Tonight I am going to try and go to best buy and get the aerobics platform for the Wii Balance board to bring it to the standard height for step aerobics. I also plan on increasing my work out time by ten minutes for the each week till I reach a full hour a day.

Also, I try and keep a running total of calories in a day, and keep it around 1600-1800 calories a day. I do not always succeed but that is what I strive for and those are the numbers I try and focus on.

I do weigh myself everyday as part of my work out. The Wii makes this easy to do, but I try not to really pay attention to the weight as it fluctuates day by day. I am seeing a slow steady decline, but what's more important to me is that I know I am really helping my body and my pants are getting looser every day.

That said of course I have an ideal size/weight in mind. I'd like to be around 160 pounds and about a size 10 or 12. I have a fairly good sized frame and am 5' 7" tall. This is where I'd like to be in about a year, I know it will take a while, but in a year I will look back and say wow it only took a year!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tips for Dealing with Stress

Life can be stressful. Stress causes a lot of health problems, and it lends itself to emotional eating and bad eating habits. It can also affect your sleep, your digestive system, your hormones, and even cause muscular tension.

Getting rid of stress can help alleviate many of those symptoms and more. Finding ways to de-stress is important for your health, both physically and emotionally.

Here's some suggestions for getting rid of stress:

1. Stop and take a 5 minute break when your are getting stressed out. Find somewhere quiet, take a couple deep breaths and try and push the stress out of your mind.

2. Write it down. Even if you just throw away the paper later, you'll feel better getting it out of you.

3. Take a relaxing shower or bath. Lock the door, ignore the kids and hubby or whatever and just let go.

4. Cleaning. I know it sounds crazy but I feel so much better after getting some housework done, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

5. Try a support group or therapy. Having someone who's not involved in your day to day life to vent to can really help.

6. This may sound silly but try playing games or cards. With friends or alone this can help take your mind of what's bothering you for a little while. Obviously limit time spent playing video games, or find a physical game, like football or volley ball.

7. The "I did list". Instead of writing a "to do list" make an "I did" list. I write down all the things I got done, and instead of seeing all the things I didn't get done on the list, I see a big list of things I did get done.

8. Listen to some music. I'm one of those people that likes to sing along and sometimes I'll even dance around if no one's about.

9. Call a friend and talk about something. You can talk about what's stressing you out or about anything, I bet you'll feel a little better afterwards.

10. Consider Yoga or meditation, if that's not your thing maybe just find a class that you want to try. It will give you a break from thinking about your stress causer, and give you a chance to meet new people.

11. Try and stay positive. Glass half full kind of thing you know? It's easy to let stress get the better of you if you're only looking for the bad things. 

Of course no one can ever really relieve all their stress, but cutting it down as much as possible will improve your quality of life if nothing else.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Plague Strikes

So last week the plague struck our house as the stomach flu made it's way through town. As you can imagine I fell off the wagon a little bit dealing with sick children and a sick significant other.

Instead of cooking at home we ate out, I cheated and had a coffee, didn't do my work out as I was not feeling good. So I was expecting failure this morning when I got on the Wii Fit to do a body test and my work out.

To my amazement, I lost 3 pounds. I felt like I was on top of the world and felt even more motivated to get back on track. I know what some of you are thinking of course you lost 3 pounds with the stomach flu, but I never got sick! 

I'm glad everyone is on the mend, and happy to be back to my routine. I am looking forward to seeing how much I can accomplish this week. I had to give away some of my clothes that are too big now, but I am fitting clothes that were too small a month ago and it's like getting a whole new wardrobe.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pep Talk

I'm no fitness expert, and I'm the first to admit that growing up I didn't want to make the effort to lose weight. I wanted a quick easy fix. Well I've grown up with that mentality and it's a hard one to break.

As the years have passed I have been depressed about my weight and really wanted to be thinner and healthier. This led to a lot of emotional eating, and more inactivity.

Working out is hard. It's tiring, it makes your chest and lungs burn, it makes your muscles burn, and let's not forget the sweating. But I am here to tell you it gets easier. You just have to try and keep trying.

For a month now I have gotten off my butt and made the effort to work out. I'll admit at first it was hard, very hard. I could only go for short burst at a time a few times a week, but after a month of pushing myself I am now able to do 30 minutes of step aerobics 6 days a week.

Let me tell you how amazing it feels. I used to get winded walking up the alley to my apartment, now I can walk up it without even breathing hard. I feel better, my pants keep getting looser, and I feel like I am sleeping better.

I still have a hard time believing how easy it has gotten and have been kind of kicking myself for not doing this YEARS ago. However, I won't kick myself too hard, and you shouldn't either.

Each day is a new one, so try and make that step today, and again tomorrow and the day after that. You'll thank yourself.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Emotional Eating

Emotions can really have an effect on the human body. It is said that 75% of over eating in Americans is caused by emotional eating. One common misconception though is that all emotional eating is caused my bad emotions and this simply isn't true. How many of you eat birthday cake?

The important thing is to try and think about how you are feeling when you reach for the fridge handle. I try and ask myself am I really hungry? When did I eat last? This has stopped me from over eating on numerous occasions.

There's several things you can do to try and avoid emotional eating:

1. Food Journal. I know I have mentioned this before, but even if you only keep track for a week or two this can tell you a lot. Try writing down how you felt before you ate, what you ate, and how hungry you were.

2. Think before you eat, ask yourself those questions. Am I hungry or just bored, sad, depressed, or even happy.

3. Find healthy outlets for your emotions. Make a list of things you could do instead of eat, and next time you think you are hungry try one of the things on your list. If you are still hungry afterwards, have a small snack.

4. Find a support group or therapy. No one likes to admit when they think they have a problem but there wouldn't be support groups out there if they weren't needed. Overeaters Anonymous has local chapters around the country.

5. Remove temptation. Try and stock your pantry or kitchen with healthy choices so that when you do find yourself eating it's something healthier.

6. Don't deprive yourself. Allow yourself that treat after dinner or whenever, but try and find a healthier version or just have a smaller portion.

7. Don't diet. Make changes to your everyday life. Don't think of this as something you can stop doing once you get down to the size you want. This is a life long commitment.

Remember emotional eating is something everyone struggles with. Trying to lose weight can be hard and if you get depressed every time you eat a brownie, you are just going to turn around and eat more. Pat yourself on the back for the little things you do accomplish every day and try and let go of the crap so to speak.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Portion Control Tips

We've all heard the portion control and serving size, but what do they really mean. Here's an easy break down, a portion is the amount you serve yourself, and a serving size is the amount of food that the nutritional facts are based on.

Example: Make your self a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich and that's the portion, however, it has 2 servings of bread, 1-2 servings of bacon, 1 servings of vegetables and if you add mayo there is anywhere from 1-2 servings of your fats and oils for the day. A lot of snack sized packs still contain 2-3 servings per container. This can be very misleading if you don't read the nutritional facts and labels.

Many people get these portion and serving size confused. Even more people are poorly informed on what a serving size is for most items. One serving of hard cheese is about the size of 3-4 dice. A muffin should be about the size of a hockey puck, not the size of a large man's fist.
WebMd's Portion Sized Plate is an on-line tool that offers great visual comparisons to help you understand and better control your portion and serving sizes. Portion Size Plate allows you to pick from the main food groups and shows you what a portion of each item should look like next to an everyday household items such as light bulbs, check books and poker chips.

Educating yourself about what you are putting in your body is a very important first step towards a healthier and fitter you. Here's some tips and suggestions I gathered on how to help control your portion size:

1.Read the Nutritional Label on products. Get an idea on what a serving size is for the foods you consume on a regular basis and compare them to the portions you have been serving yourself.

2.Don't eat from the container. Look at the Nutritional facts and put a servings worth in a bowl. This will keep you from reaching back in to the bag and eating more then you intended.

3.Drink a large glass of water before dinner. This will help you feel fuller and you will eat less.

4.Try eating small snacks through out the day as opposed to large meals. This will help keep your energy from peaking and crashing through out that day. I try to keep my snacks between 100-300 calories.

5.Switch to smaller plates, bowls and cups. This will keep you from putting more on your plate then you should eat, it will also seem more visually appealing as the little plate will looker fuller with less food on it.

6.Snack packs can be helpful as long as you read the label. I suggest buying large or bulk sizes and portion out servings in to Ziplock bags. I love this tip. I am much more likely to keep eating out of a bag till it's gone, but would I go back and eat all 10 Ziplock bags full? I doubt it!

7.Consider splitting dessert at restaurants. Also another way to cut calories when eating out is to split an entrée or order an appetizer instead.

8.Don't super size your meal. You can cut 300 calories out of your meal by getting a small fry instead of the large. Ordering the small soda saves 150 calories.

9.Halve the amount of condiments you use or use healthier toppings. Just one tablespoon of mayo has a whopping 90 calories, all of them from fat! That's 15% of your fat right there. A serving of Dijon mustard is a mere 5 calories, and none from fat.

10.Eat slower. You will feel like you are eating more food then you are. It takes up to twenty minutes AFTER you stop eating. Wait a half an hour, then if you are still hungry eat a small second helping.

11.Beverages can rack up the calories. Sodas and alcoholic beverages are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, and we know carbs just break down into more sugar. One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to cut out these drinks. Drink water, or diet drinks if you want to cut some of the sugar and calories out.

12.Start your dinner with a healthy salad. This helps you fill up faster on more good foods and eat less of the heavier dinner courses. Just be cautious what you add to your salad. Do you remember how much a serving size of cheese is? One way I cut calories from my salads is using Wishbone salad spritzers. Each spray contains only one calorie so you can have a flavorful salad with out covering it in a fattening dressing.

13.Meat as a side dish. I'll admit this tip is new to me, but I like the idea. Many Americans center their meal around the meat portion of the meal making it much larger then it needs to be. Considering meet as a side dish may help lead to consuming less meat and hopefully, replace it with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

14.Order the kids meal. This is a great idea for two reasons: First the portions are much smaller and secondly, the meals are much cheaper. I know several people that order the kids meal for both these reasons.
15.When eating out, ask for a to go container and put half your food in the box immediately. Save the other half of your meal for lunch tomorrow. Most restaurants serve portions that are 2-3 times the serving size recommended.

Keep this list of suggestions in mind the next time you grab that snack from the cupboard, or serve dinner to the family. Even just implementing one or two of these ideas in your life could save you countless calories.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Goodbye Coffee!

There's been numerous studies done on the effects of coffee and caffeine on the human body. A lot of those studies ask the question what impact does coffee and or caffeine have when one tried to lose weight. So I spent several hours reading about studies, both positive and negative.

Most of the studies and articles I read suggested that coffee may help short term with weight loss , however it is NOT effective long term and can be damaging to your health.

A few of the reasons why:

  • Coffee is hard on your body. It can negatively affect numerous systems including: the digestive tract, adrenal glands, kidneys, liver, cardiovascular functions and causes your body to pump out extra insulin to combat the affects of the coffee.

  • Coffee stops your body's natural cleansing process. It is also a diuretic. Coffee actually keeps your body from flushing out the bad stuff and makes you flush out the good stuff you need like potassium.

  • Coffee beans are naturally high in oils that lead to higher cholesterol levels. Now add the sugar and cream that most people add and you can imagine it only gets worse.

I'm no doctor, and none of what is written in this blog should be considered medical advice, please consult your physician for that, but I read a lot and there may be some positive effects from drinking coffee, but do they outweigh the risks?

After having done this research I granted myself one last coffee today. So farewell, my good friend. This self proclaimed Java Junkie is calling it quits!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mmm Subway Sandwiches

So last night the significant other and I went out to grab dinner since grandma was going to have dinner with the kids before they came home. We recently bought a sheet of Subway Sandwiches coupons from a local fund raiser. The majority of our coupons are buy a foot long meal and get a free foot long sandwich, which works out great for the two of us.

I ordered my favorite: Roasted chicken breast. Yum! Since I am trying to eat healthier, I ordered my roasted chicken breast sandwich on Subway's 9 grain wheat bread. Toppings included American cheese ( I love it, I can't help it.), lettuce, onions, green bell peppers, spinach and one pass of Subway's Chipotle Southwestern Sauce.

Since the meal included a drink and bag of chips, I had a Lipton Brisk Raspberry Iced Tea and a bag of SunChips. When I came home and tallied my calories using Subways Nutritional information (provided on their website), I was pleased with what I saw.

For this 6” Subway Sandwich with my toppings was: 440 calories. 160 from fat, 18g fat, 4.5g saturated fats, 45mg of cholesterol, 1160mg sodium, 47g carbs, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, and 25g of protein. Link

Usually, when I go somewhere to eat and then come home and check out the nutritional information, I am shocked and a bit disappointed. Not last night, I ate and I ate well. Next time I will order it with out the Chipotle Southwestern Sauce, (it alone accounted for 100 calories and 10 grams of fat) and just add some Dijon mustard when I get home, as it's only 5 calories per serving.

So, Hats Off! to Subway for providing an easy, healthy fast food choice, and if you're listening Subway please bring back the Asiago Caeser sauce!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Right Tools

When I talked to my doctor about my weight, I asked her "What do you suggest for weight loss?" I realized this was a question I had never asked a doctor. What my doctor said was no surprise, "Eat a healthy diet and exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week." The same old thing we've been hearing all along right?

Then she kept going! She suggested I keep a food journal, utilize calorie counters, support programs, and try and get more exercise in everyday life if I can't afford a gym membership. She also pointed me in the direction of the MyPyramid which is the governments website on "Steps towards a healthier you."

So, here I was, for years throwing my hands up in the air, thinking I don't know how to lose weight. Well guess what? There's tools for that. The right tools for the right job. A carpenter needs a hammer, and I need a calorie counter! I checked out several different websites googling the phrase calorie counter and found that there's several to choose from.

My favorite is My Calorie Counter by Everyday Health, it has so many different features, tools, and calculators for tracking all kinds of things, not just your calories! My Calorie Counters' food journal lets you start off by entering your weight and height, from there you can set your target weight goal, and the date you'd like to complete it in. You can track these and your measurements in a nice graph as you go along.

Inputting your caloric intake for the day is very easy. Select which meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack etc.) and click the add food button. You'll be prompted to search foods, select recently added foods, search favorites, or create you own custom foods where you can enter the data from the nutritional facts yourself.

The food journal tallies all calories you enter into a field in the bottom of the page, and tells you when you are over or under in calories, fat, carbs, sodium, cholesterol and more. It will also deduct any calories burned for the day that you enter in to the exercise log at the bottom of the page.

LinkMy Calorie Counter offers many more features than the food journal. In addition to their community peer support system, they also offer you a place to blog about your progress, share photos or comments with others if you choose. They also offer calorie management tips, recipes, a meal planner, shopping list generator, BMR and BMI calculators and even a glucose trackers for those who are diabetic.

Now I will admit that I don't use my calorie tracker daily. I set my daily limits to 1500-1800 calories a day and started entering foods for the first week with out making any changes to my diet. This was a very BIG eye opener, and honestly this was game changer for me. I learned a lot about what and how much I eat. Now I keep these guidelines I set for myself in mind when I read labels. I keep a mental tally of how many calories I eat. Once a week though I will generally log in, track my calories for the day and see how I'm doing.

Another great website I found was Calorie King, they offer a vast database of nutritional information on tons of different foods. I have bookmarked their website so I can easily look up foods easily.Link
Well I hope these tools can help someone else out there. Counting calories is not fun and can be a little time consuming, but I guarantee it will provide you with important information about your diet.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wii Fit Plus + Balance Board for the Nintendo Wii

So I mentioned that I got a Wii Fit Plus for Christmas this year and I'd like to talk a little bit more about that. I LOVE my Wii Fit Plus. I have never been very big on working out, and I'm a bit of a couch potato in the evening hours after the kids go to bed. I have found though, that the Wii Fit Plus is easy to use and fun. I have been using it 2-3 times a week for at least 20 minutes, sometimes as long as an hour, and boy do you work up a sweat!

There's 5 main segments to the game: training plus, yoga, strength training, aerobics and balance games. Each segment offers numerous activities, or you can enter the My Wii Fit Plus area where you can create and/or combine exercise to customize your workout.

The Wii Fit body test not only weighs you and tells you where your center of balance lies, but it will give you your Body Mass Index or BMI. The program lets you set a weight loss goal and the time you'd like to complete it in. You get a stamp everyday on your calendar that you perform a body test and a graph to show your progress. You'll earn coins for every minute of exercise you do in a day, this will unlock new exercises as you go along. It also has a calorie counter that lets you know how many calories you burned per exercise or for your whole workout.

Another really cool feature is the lock function you can add to your Mii character in the Wii Fit game, your 4 digit pin allows you to hide your weight and stats from prying eyes. For those of you unfamiliar with the Wii gaming system the Mii is the character you create to represent yourself as a player.

I highly recommend buying the Wii Fit Plus system for the Wii, it's just amazing. I'd like to get the "Step It Up Wii Fit Aerobics Step Platform" which sits under your Wii Fit Balance Board to bring it to the standard aerobics height of 4". This version includes a drawer for organizing your Wii accessories. Anything that can help me lose more weight and stay organized is a winner in my book! Maybe I can get the significant other to get it for me when my birthday rolls around here in 2 months :)

My weight loss plan

I'm a woman in my late 20's whose been overweight since I was 10. Not just a little chunky but out right fat. This past year I found out that my cholesterol level is 200, for those of you who don't know that's the very first number in the BAD level. This scared me to be honest.

So, for the last few months I have been trying to eat better, read nutrition facts, and try to incorporate more exercise. I have yet to have my cholesterol levels re-checked, but I plan on waiting a few months till my birthday to get re-checked.

However, I am now exercising. I got the Wii Fit Plus for Christmas this year from the significant other. I've had it for a month, and while I had a bit of a shaky start, I am proud to say that for the first time in my life I am working out at least 2-3 times a week for at least 20 minutes to an hour.

I have big goals for my human transformation, but health is my main goal. I'd like to lower my cholesterol, improve my muscle strength and coordination. I'd also like to lose about 80 pounds. It's a lot, but I've given myself a nice roomy goal of Christmas of 2011, to obtain it.

This blog is basically going to be my weight loss plan and journal, and maybe help offer suggestions that will help others in their human transformation.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a physician, nor do I have any medical training. The information contained in this blog should not be in any way considered medical advice. PLEASE consult your physician before beginning any kind of diet or workout plan.