Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chia seeds, running, breathing and muscle vs fat

Yes I am still fighting the fight. It has gotten easier too. Once I lost the excess weight maintaining my size has been pretty easy. I still try to eat as much "real food" as possible and don't deny myself the things I love. (like cookies) One of the things I have added to my morning meals is chia seeds. I simply sprinkle them on my cereal. They don't have any flavor that I can tell and they have a lot of omega 3's. I'm told it is like eating salmon and spinach it is that packed with so much good stuff. Here is more info about chia seeds.
I get mine at the local co-op. 

I did a 5K recently. It was tough. I think the pressure of being in a race messes with me a bit. The first half mile my legs feel like lead. But I made it and I even beat a few people younger than me. Since then I have stopped timing myself when training though. I felt like it kept me from the right mind set about it. It is about being healthy. The races are just mini-goals along the way. My biggest problem with running isn't the physical action of running, it is about my breathing. I am still struggling with a lung issue. I have been seeing a pulmonary specialist and he told me last year I have asthma. It gets irritated frequently (I think by mold spores) causing extreme coughing and throat clearing. (which my co-workers just love) So my running is around how I'm feeling on some days. But he said I could keep running so that is good.

Check out my new shirt. In January my husband and I are headed to Disney World. He will be running a half marathon and I will do the 5K. I read an excellent book on running recently which was very motivating. (Chapter 25 will change the way you think about running shoes.) It is called "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall. Here is some info:  I never thought I would like a book about running but then again I never thought I would become any sort of runner. (Though "runner" isn't exactly accurate. My pace is more of a jog sometimes.) My goal now when I run is to just run as far as I can and try to enjoy it. Not everyone can run after all. I am grateful that I have a body healthy enough to even try. If you can't run or have no desire to run it's ok. I lost all my weight previously just by walking. Running is not necessary. I am just trying to take it up a notch as my own goal. I am also lifting weights at least twice a week in an effort to build muscle.

This was supposed to be an omelette. Yeah I'm not exactly the best cook. It was still good. I had some leftover asparagus and bacon so I made a poor mans version of the quiche that I love. (which actually uses asparagus and prosciutto) It was quicker than making a quiche and still pretty good.

I came across this great visual of why weight training is good for you. Five pounds of muscle takes up less area than five pounds of fat. PLUS the more muscle you have the more efficiently your body burns off calories. Translation, you can eat more food because your body burns it off instead of adding it to the fat stores. This is also why the scale might not be your friend if you are stuck in the "I should weigh X amount" mindset. So my current goal is replacing the fat I have left with muscle. This might mean I will weigh what I started. Here are a couple of examples:

Can you see where the muscle replaced the fat in the above photo? 

Not the best photos but I hope this gives you an idea of what I mean. I want to be strong and healthy so that isn't about a number on a scale. It is about what I am doing to my body through eating well and exercise. Even those who aren't interested in building muscle will benefit from not carrying too much weight on their frame. Personally I don't care how large a person is. It isn't my business. I like people based on how they are as a person, not what size they are. However I do sometimes worry about their health in some cases. That said skinny doesn't always equal healthy. If you eat crap food or abuse your body with foreign substances it will not be healthy. Everyone is responsible for making their own choices.

A splurge, an amazing blackberry cosmopolitan. It was amazing and blackberries ARE good for you. 
Eat well!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good Mornings and Grateful Eating

I want to share a recent new find for my mornings. I never used to be a big breakfast person but it turns out that it is true, skipping breakfast is bad for you. For one thing if you don't eat enough your body stores everything you DO eat because it goes into starvation mode. This is why many people on diets don't seem to lose the weight even though they eat "like a bird". They aren't eating enough for their own body so it saves every calorie it gets. Eating revs up your metabolism so it can burn your fuel efficiently. Besides, who wants to be hungry all the time anyways? Not me. Eat frequently but eat well. Good fuel runs your engine better than bad fuel. Yes the engine will still run but it will just chug along instead of purring along with less effort. Not to mention the long term benefits. Exercise is important to be healthy as well HOWEVER if you eat junk you will still be harming your body. Food is the foundation to good health period.

While oatmeal is a great breakfast, or even eggs and wheat toast, I don't always have time for those meals. So my go to becomes cold cereal instead. I highly recommend Flax Plus Multibran Flakes. Not only is it organic and free of GMO's, you can find it at your local Hannaford store. As you can see I like to add some fruit to mine.

Berries are great antioxidants as well as a perfect natural sweetener. And they are a good source of fiber too.

Not sure about what the whole GMO debate is about? Check out this link:   It sounds like the stuff of a sci-fi horror movie doesn't it? For a country that is supposed to be a super power we are so far behind other countries in many important ways. This is just one of them. Sadly I have a suspicion it is all about money. But I digress.

I was eating a grapefruit recently and had one of those moments of clarity. How lucky are we to have fruit available to us all year long? Seriously, some of our ancestors died because they lacked the nutrients we take for granted every day. Even having refrigerators and freezers to put our food in is a luxury we don't even think about. (aside from when we lose power that is) Someone picked that fruit and then it got put on a boat or a train or a truck and shipped to my local store. It wasn't grown here that's for sure. We currently have 10 inches of snow on the ground, yet I can enjoy a tropical fruit on a daily basis. (bananas are a daily staple for me) When I eat lately I think about where my food was prepared, and who made it. Is it a factory item from a big corporation or a local bakery made item? Do the people care about using GMO's and the environment or is the goal simply to sell a product to make money? Is what I am fueling my body with actually healthy for me? Is it good for the planet? (sustainable)

My family has made many changes to our grocery shopping habits in the last year. I know we are eating healthier than ever before. It IS doable for the average person! It just takes a commitment to pay attention and read labels. Is everything in my cupboard healthy? No. While I am sure that is possible in some houses, mine has 2 teenagers so there are some "junk food" items that may not disappear until they are grown and gone. But there are fewer of those than there used to be. And as I find healthy "options" for those foods they get replaced.

On the exercise front things are going smoother. I don't feel like I am going to die when I run now so that is good. A snowstorm kept me from getting to the gym on one of my days recently so I did a wii workout with a Jillian Michaels disc instead. Interestingly I was more sore after that than when I do go to the gym! The workouts are working though. I have muscles where I didn't have any before. They aren't huge but I can see them. It is a great motivator to continue. Maybe this summer I'll post some good before and after photos. We'll see.

Until then, eat well!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tea for two, running goals and an old favorite

Yes that is dessert you see in the photo. It is actually an order of Petite Fours from Fromviandoux, a new French restaurant in the area. They serve a wonderful afternoon tea. I have already talked about the health benefits of tea so I won't bore you with that spiel again. My friend Ashley and I had a fabulous time there last weekend. I ate my very first scone and it was amazing. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you check them out.

I have been doing ok on the running and exercise front. I manage to get to the gym at least twice a week, sometimes more. The key seems to be start slow and build up. I am not so focused on trying to do it all, I'm just trying to do more than I used to. It is working. I have to admit I am already seeing some results. I have an actual bicep now! I have also decided to start running some 5K events in the future. My husband and I are serious Disney fans so we are planning on doing some of the RunDisney races in the future. They have a great website and blog with lots of training advice, including how to eat properly during training. Check it out:  I figure the 5K is just the right amount of running for me now. Maybe I will consider longer races in the future but I am not going to extend myself that far just yet. Baby steps.

A friend also turned me on to some excellent blogs by runners. Here is one that I really like:  She is really into cooking and makes some great food. Plus she seems like a normal person. I know that sounds weird but some of the runner blogs are just to intense for me right now. I'm not sure I will ever consider myself a runner, a serious jogger maybe. I mean I am making the running motions but I still go at a pretty slow pace. I have this thing about breathing. I like it. Besides, nobody wants to watch the girl gasping like a fish out of water at the gym. Waiting to see if I collapse is probably stressful for them. So for now I jog. I am working up a sweat though so I figure that it counts.

Here is a dish I recently shared on my facebook page:

Organic oatmeal with raspberries. An easy way to spice up your oatmeal: put frozen berries in the bottom of your bowl, then add the freshly cooked oatmeal on top covering all the berries. Let it sit for a minute so the berries thaw. Mix and eat! No extra sugar needed. This also helps cool off the oatmeal to an edible temperature. I eat mine without milk but you can add it if you like. I always make at least two servings so I can have another one the next day. It keeps well in the fridge and microwaves very well. And for those that think steel cut oats are the only way to go, check out this comparison chart on steel cut vs rolled oats.

Eat well!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I know it appears like I'm a slacker but....

I'm still alive and eating well. Yay me! Not only that, but I FINALLY started going to the gym too. I know, it took me long enough. Hey slow and steady wins the race right? The best part is that my brother has been going with me. Not only am I working towards my goals, he is as well. I'm pretty excited about that to be honest. We are doing some basic strength training (weight bearing exercise is important to prevent osteoporosis) and the couch to 5K program.

I have a lot of work ahead of me but I am motivated and that is the important part. I have never been a runner. Even in the best of my military days I didn't really enjoy it. But we all know how things can change once some time has passed. Wish me luck with that.

On the food front I have become a bit of a tea addict. It is my "go to" drink now that soda is out of my diet. Most of the time I drink it unsweetened with some lemon. Occasionally I might add one pack of REAL sugar. This is why I chose real sugar:  There was also a recent study that showed certain foods do not break down properly in the body and make you feel hungry even though you just ate. HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) was one of those ingredients. I have found I prefer green and white teas (and some herbals) to the traditional black teas. Green tea has more flavonoids anyhow so that is a good thing. This is one of my current favorites.

One of the other reasons I go to the gym is to work off all the goodies my husband brings me at work. I will never be a person that doesn't eat sweets so I just try to limit them to some degree. (tip, eat the sweets in the morning and you have time to work it off during the course of the day) I also believe that homemade treats are much better than store bought processed sweets. At least we can pronounce the ingredients in sweets made from scratch! That seems safer doesn't it?

I don't believe is it realistic to think we can just deny ourselves what we love to eat long term. We just need to be conscious of our choices. How much of it are we putting into our bodies? Is it healthy for us in any way? Mental health counts too! Just don't overdue any "emotional" eating.

I finally watched the documentary "Forks over Knives" as was recommended to me by my sister. I liked it but it was kinda scary. There was some pretty good evidence as to why a plant based diet is healthier for you. Even so it is hard for me to give up all meat. I like meat! (Mmmm bacon) But it has given me pause to think and I have cut back on it by eating smaller portions when I do have it. I even ate my very first veggie burger and it was good! (Who knew?)

I'm not sure what the working out will mean weight wise. Muscle weighs more than fat so my weight might go up once I start actually building some muscle of my own. It will be interesting to see what happens with that. As long as my clothes continue to fit I will be happy. It is about fitness and health, not a number on the scale. Though after hitting my goal weight I suppose that is easy for me to say now.

Eat well!