Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Still Under 128

After months of my weight stagnating around 128 pounds, I seem to have finally managed to peel a few extra pounds off. My weight has been hovering between 125 and 127 for the last couple of weeks. It's nothing dramatic, but after months of no progress it feels great to finally see the scale moving in a downward direction again.

Now that summer is finally here, and all the local produce available, I'm eating more raw again. I'm also outside more.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dieting Gadgets I love

This time of year, I get a lot of use out of my salad spinner (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/cw418/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C16%7C%7C%7C0%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Csalad%20spinner&cm%5Fsrc=SCH).

I'm making frequent trips to the farmers' markets and the salad greens you get there always need extra washing. Not the mention the fact that the lettuce I get from my garden is practically coated in dirt.

If you're eating a lot of salad, being able to wash and dry the greens effectively and quickly is a pick plus, and the salad spinner helps you to do so.

In any event, preparing your own food really helps in weight loss. You can control portion sizes and leave out extra calories far easier if you're doing the preparing and cooking.

But, you're not going to prepare and cook your own food if doing so is a bitch. And that's were having good knives, pots, pans, gadgets comes into play.

You're not going to make salads with any frequency if all you have to cut veggies is some dull serrated knife. Get a few good knives and keep them sharp.

I wrote about another good dieting gadget here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/dieting-gadgets-i-love.html (and included some good salad dressing recipes as well.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Detoxing For Weight Loss

Here are a couple of good areticles which explain the reasons for detoxing and how you know you should pretty well: http://www.weightlossnutrition.org/acai-berry-colon-cleanse/comment-page-1/#comment-2822 and http://www.weightlossnutrition.org/body-cleansing/

As I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/04/detox-and-weight-loss.html, I credit detox with helping me lose quite a bit of my initial weight loss. I still periodically do cleanses, and am at the tail end of a colon cleanse as I explain here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/ultimate-cleanse.html.

Additionally, in July I'm going away for a long weekend to a Spa in Upstate New York, the New Age Health Spa (www.newagehealthspa.com). I'll do a short juice fast while I'm there, and will probably supplement that cleanse, before and after, by going completely raw, vegan for a few days before and a few days after.

I got hooked on the cleanses not just because they seem tied to effective fat loss. I always feel so much more energized following them, and feel so much better than I had before them. I also seem to sleep better.

Can Ketchup Make you Fat??

Apparently yes. According to this article: http://www.dietsinreview.com/diet_column/06/study-condemns-condiments/comment-page-1/#comment-9932, the more condiments you use the more you eat.

According to the piece:

"In the study of college students, when they added things like ketchup to fries and whipped cream to brownies, they ate between 25-40 percent more of the item."

I'm always leery about going whole hog on the condiments because they generally contain all kinds of artificial crap, like corn syrup. But even I can't resist sneaking a couple of fries, with Ketchup, from my kids' plates when we go out to eat.

So, if you want to have your brownie and diet too, here's a good tip from the article:

"In general, a solid tip is to use about a teaspoon of a condiment, and when possible, serve it on the side and dip your fork in before each bite. You’ll be surprised to see how much less you consume."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why You Can't Lose 30 Pounds in 30 days

I'm constantly amazed by the ads promising that you'll lose a pound or more a day. It's simply impossible. Let me explain.

If I want to lose one pound of actual fat I have to somehow burn off approximately 3,600 calories extra calories. In other words, using a combination of exercise and caloric consumption reduction, I have to burn off an additional 3,600 more than I need to simply maintain my weight.

Using the calculator found here: http://www.revolutionhealth.com/calculators/daily-calorie-needs when I plug in the information regarding height, age etc., I can only consume approximately 1787 calories to maintain my current weight. So, if you think about it, to lose one pound in one day, I not only couldn't eat anything for the entire day, I'd have to exercise enough to burn off an additional 1,813 calories.

According to my caloric meter on my treadmill (which is probably inaccurate), when I walk at 3.3 miles an hour at a 7.5 incline I burn 425 calories in an hour. So to burn 1,813 calories I'd have to walk for 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Get it??? To lose a pound a day I couldn't eat anything and I'd have to work out (at a somewhat intense pace) for 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Alternatively, I could eat my 1,787 calories and just walk on the treadmill for 8 hours and 40 minutes to burn the additional 3,600.

Let me tell you up front, there's no way in hell I could ever not eat for 30 days and walk 4 hours and 15 minutes a day. Conversely, there's no way I could spend 8 hours and 40 minutes a day on the treadmill.

And no, no miracle pill or combination of foods is going to make you drop that pound a day.

What is realistic is planning on losing 2 to 3 pounds a week if you seriously commit exercising daily and cutting back on your calories. To lose two pounds a week you have to use some combination of caloric reduction/exercise to reduce your caloric intake below what you need to maintain your weight by 515 calories a day.

So for me to lose two pounds in a week, I would have to walk on the treadmill at 3.3. miles an hour at a 7.5 incline for an hour to burn 425 calories an hour every day. In addition, I'd have to hold my daily caloric consumption down to 1,697 calories.

That's a program I can stick with.

You won't lose 30 pounds in a month this way--but that was a fantasy in any event. If you stick with the program, however, you might lose 8 pounds in a month and 30 pounds over the course of three to four months.

And, remember, as I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/04/you-probably-can-consume-far-fewer.html, the more weight you lose, the fewer calories you can consume to maintain that new weight--so you have to cut back on calories even more to continue weight loss.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strawberry Picking

The kids are off from school today, so me and three other friends took our kids to a pick your own strawberry farm. It was my idea.

I wanted to do something with my children where we could all get a little exercise. Plus the end result was a few quarts of freshly picked, local strawberries which we'll all enjoy over the next few days--no jam, strawberry pie or strawberry shortcake, we'll just be enjoying the strawberries in the state that God created them. It's never too early to emphasize sound nutritional eating.

I even avoided using the "berry ferry." Although the berry picking fields were less than 2 city blocks from the parking lot, the farm provided a transportation to the fields. I thought it was ridiculous and we all wound up walking to the fields and back (although the kids did take a few spins on the "berry ferry" for fun.)

Five Tips to Jump Start Weight Loss

1. Walk as much as you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk instead of driving or taking the bus. Park in the spot furthest from the store, office, etc. and walk. Just plain old walk and look for any opportunity to walk.

2. Eliminate all refined sugars, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners from your diet. Just stop eating it.

3. Focus on eating raw fruits and vegetables. Have a banana for breakfast instead of a bowl of cereal. A salad or raw veggies and dip for lunch, and eat a salad with dinner. If you're looking for a snack, eat fresh fruit or vegetables like grapes, an apple, cherries or carrot sticks..

4. Don't ever let yourself become too hungry. It will lead to binge eating, usually of stuff you shouldn't be eating. Eat as much fruit at breakfast as you need to be full and satisfied until lunch (and eat a snack of grapes, carrots or another fruit or veggie if you do get hungry in between). Eat to be full, but focus on the bulk of what you're eating to be plant based.

5. Exercise every day. Find a way to schedule a work-out of some sort every day (in addition to walking as much as you can). Make it a priority, and find a time in your daily schedule when you know you'll always be able to do it.

Why We Eat too Much

There is a really excellent story in the Science Section of today's New York Times which you can read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/health/23well.html?ref=health.

Former Food and Drug Administration head, Dr. David A Kessler, wrote a book called "The End of Overeating," were he explains how the food industry creates foods in a way that taps into our brain circuitry and stimulates our desire for more. In other words, the food industry formulate their product in such a way that we can't help ourselves but to overindulge. After all, the more we eat, the bigger the food industry's profits.

This part of the article is particularly interesting:

"When it comes to stimulating our brains, Dr. Kessler noted, individual ingredients aren’t particularly potent. But by combining fats, sugar and salt in innumerable ways, food makers have essentially tapped into the brain’s reward system, creating a feedback loop that stimulates our desire to eat and leaves us wanting more and more even when we’re full.

Dr. Kessler isn’t convinced that food makers fully understand the neuroscience of the forces they have unleashed, but food companies certainly understand human behavior, taste preferences and desire. In fact, he offers descriptions of how restaurants and food makers manipulate ingredients to reach the aptly named “bliss point.” Foods that contain too little or too much sugar, fat or salt are either bland or overwhelming. But food scientists work hard to reach the precise point at which we derive the greatest pleasure from fat, sugar and salt.

The result is that chain restaurants like Chili’s cook up “hyper-palatable food that requires little chewing and goes down easily,” he notes. And Dr. Kessler reports that the Snickers bar, for instance, is “extraordinarily well engineered.” As we chew it, the sugar dissolves, the fat melts and the caramel traps the peanuts so the entire combination of flavors is blissfully experienced in the mouth at the same time. "

This is interesting as well:

"One of his main messages is that overeating is not due to an absence of willpower, but a biological challenge made more difficult by the overstimulating food environment that surrounds us. “Conditioned hypereating” is a chronic problem that is made worse by dieting and needs to be managed rather than cured, he said. And while lapses are inevitable, Dr. Kessler outlines several strategies that address the behavioral, cognitive and nutritional factors that fuel overeating.

Planned and structured eating and understanding your personal food triggers are essential. In addition, educating yourself about food can help alter your perceptions about what types of food are desirable. Just as many of us now find cigarettes repulsive, Dr. Kessler argues that we can also undergo similar “perceptual shifts” about large portion sizes and processed foods. For instance, he notes that when people who once loved to eat steak become vegetarians, they typically begin to view animal protein as disgusting."

I find Kessler's research fascinating, and can't wait to read his book. I actually just finished reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" and he makes somewhat of the same claims, although Kessler's seem much more scientifically based.

I actually "withdrew" from eating any kind of processed, pre-packaged foods a few years ago when I wanted to lose weight, and never went back. That's how I lost 40 pounds and kept it off.

And, as Kessler notes, at this point I not only don't crave processed foods, but like the vegetarian with the steak, I'm sort of repulsed by them.

30 Minutes Extra Sleep!!!

I got to sleep 30 minutes longer this morning. Usually, I have to get up at 5:15 to get my morning walk in prior to having to get the kids ready for school. Yesterday, however, was the last day of school so I could sleep until 5:45 before I had to get up for my walk.

I could have slept later if I wanted to go on the treadmill. My husband leaves as 7:15 for work, and I really could have just stayed in bed and jumped on the treadmill whenever the mood struck to get out of bed.

But I really prefer to walk outside, so even though I could have slept later, I hauled myself out of bed at 5:45 to get on the road by 6 to fit in my walk.

At least 5 days a week (sometimes 6) I do a 3.5 to 4 mile walk. It takes me about an hour to walk 3.5 miles and an hour and ten minutes to walk 4 miles.

I like to do my walking first thing in the morning because I find that too often life gets in the way if I attempt to schedule it later in the day. I got into the morning exercise routine when I was in college and would go out running or biking. Of course, then I usually slept to 8 or 9 then got up, ran, and made a late class.

By the time I moved to New York and got a job, I found I was getting up at 6:30 or 7 to run prior to getting showered dressed and hauling my butt to work.

Now, I'm a suburban Mom who has to get the walk in prior to hubby leaving for work and having to get the kids ready for school, so I have to get up between 5:15 and 5:45 to do it.

But getting up early is worth it (besides, what do I have to do late at night these days except watch TV). Right now I'm actually really enjoying my walks because it is light enough in the morning so that I can walk outside, weather permitting. At the time I go I usually see deer, turkeys and other wildlife (not to mention a number of other brave souls like myself). When the rain comes, I move my walk inside to the treadmill.

Daily committment to some kind of exercise routine is important for weight loss. You really can not lose any significant amount of weight without it. I found what works for me. Try to find what works for you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pay More, Eat Less

Michael Pollan in his "In Defense of Food," advises that we should "pay more, eat less" for our food. I couldn't agree more.

As sad as it is to say, real food---fresh fruits and vegetables--are more expensive than processed junk food. 200 calories worth of processed crap out of a box or a bag costs a lot less than 200 calories of cherries or grapes, or 200 calories of raw almonds.

But wait a second??? Aren't you reading this blog because you want to lose weight???? Isn't one of your problems that you are eating too many calories??

I eliminated all processed, manufactured foods from my diet and switched to eating a diet where the bulk of what I ate was fresh fruits and vegetables. But, I don't think my food bills went any higher?

Why? Well, first of all I cut down on the amount of meat, fish and dairy I ate. That was a huge cost saving. Also, because I emphasize eating raw vegetables and fruits with 60-70% of my weekly diet being raw vegan, I simply eat less. I may be paying more for fresh fruits and vegetables but I am eating way fewer calories than I did previously (hence, the 40 pound weight loss that has pretty much stayed off).

And, I follow the pay more, eat less maxim in other ways. If I really want a dessert (which I do on occasion), I don't go for a cheap, large nationwide-distributed snack. I go for the expensive, artisanal, gourmet version which costs a a heck of a lot more. Why? Because I get less for the money, hence fewer calories. I then SLOWLY eat it--savoring each delectable bite. By eating less (and savoring it), I take in fewer calories.

Plus, anything distributed nationwide is bound to have corn syrup or artificial sweeteners in it which you should avoid at all costs. Something made locally, however, is bound to use real sugar (not great but better than corn syrup or artificial sweeteners) and if you're lucky you may find a treat sweetened with honey or maple syrup.

Pollan puts it succinctly:

"To make the overall recommendation to 'pay more, eat less' more palatable, consider that quality itself, besides tending to cost more, may have a direct bearing on the quantity you'll want to eat. The better the food, the less of it you need to eat in order to feel satisfied. All carrots are not created equal, and the best ones--the ones really worth savoring--are simply more satisfying, bite for bite. to borrow Paul Rozin's term, exceptional food offers us more 'food experience'--per bite, per dish, per meal--and as the French have shown, you don't need a lot of food to have a rich food experience.. Choose quality over quantity, food experience over mere calories."

And, lose those extra pounds to boot.

First Trip to the Farmer's Market

On Saturday I made my first trip this year to a local Farmer's Market. I'm lucky in that I have a choice of three different farmer's market's in my area which run on different days, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Once they're up and running I can usually make at least one of them weekly, and often I make two or three.

There are also a few local farmer's I go to once the season gets rolling as well. From July through October, my supermarket trips are cut down by half because most of my food shopping is at the farms and farmer's markets (not to mention produce from my own garden as well).

As any of you know who have been reading my blog, I advocate eating a mostly plant-based diet if you want to lose weight and keep it off. And by plant-based, I mean eating actual fruits and vegetables in the state that God created them. The more you frequent farmers and farmers' markets, the more fruits and vegetables you'll buy and, hopefully, eat.

And, by attending local farmers' markets and frequenting local farms you know you are getting the freshest, tastiest fruits and vegetables around. You also get to chat with the farmers themselves, and find out exactly how they grow their produce. Most are either certified organic or use organic methods (because they can't afford the expense of actually getting certified).

On Saturday I picked up a large box of locally grown strawberries--the kind that really don't travel well which are more intensely flavored then those big dull tasting ones from the supermarket which do travel well. One farmer had a beautiful mesclun mix which I've been using for my lunch-time salads.

I also picked up some beautiful tomatoes and zucchini which the farmer grew under plastic. The tomatoes and zucchini formed the basis of a pasta sauce I made for dinner that night.

If you want to find local farmers and farmers' markets, check out www.localharvest.org. You can plug in your zip code to find the freshest, tastiest fruits and veggies in your area.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Because the Package Says it Doesn't Make it True

As, I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/06/just-step-away-from-box.html, no matter what the claim is on the box, eating processed foods will make you fat.

This article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-f-jacobson/packaged-deceit-how-dieta_b_217388.html further discusses how deceptive weight loss and health claims on manufactured foods are.

If you really want to lose weight, and keep it off, you have to break your addictions to food that is manufactured, and focus on eating real fruits and vegetables. You're much better off weight loss wise(and will probably won't be as hungry afterwards) eating 100 calories worth of grapes, than that 100 calorie back of Nabisco thin crisps (even if it does say no trans fats). Plus, you're more likely to get the nutrients your body needs from the grapes making you healthier to boot.

Sugar is the Devil, Part Deux

As I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/04/sugar-is-devil.html, to lose weight, you have to work towards eliminating all refined sugar, corn syrup and artificial sugars from your everyday diet.

As this article details, http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/the-1-secret-to-losing-weight-without-dieting-475292/, sugars and artificial sweeteners are addictive. The more you eat, the more you crave.

Plus, since there's no nutritional value to sugars and other sweeteners, your body will crave even more food to get the needed nutrients.

That's not to say that you can never, ever eat anything if it contains sugar (but definitely always avoid both corn syrup and artificial sweeteners).

You don't have to miss out on dessert on special occasions. Of course you can have a piece of cake at a wedding, or a fabulous dessert at a 4 star restaurant for your 50th birthday. The goal is not to eliminate sugar completely but eliminate refined sugar from your everyday diet, and corn syrup and artificial sweeteners altogether.

And if you want something sweet mid-day, instead of a cookie, try grapes, berries, or any other perfectly ripe piece of fruit. Over time, you'll find you won't miss the cookie or the extra pounds those cookies saddled you with.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Fat Nazi

I'm sorry, but you can carry dieting obsessions a bit too far. This woman sounds like a bit of a Nazi in her desire to put the entire country on a diet: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/may/24/meme-roth-obesity-nutrition

I'm sorry, but being personally appalled by fat people and shaming them to be thin is not going to solve the obesity crisis in this country.

The sad thing, is this wack-job is actually right about a lot of the things she says, but then she ruins it by being so off-the-wall fundamentalist about it. I mean stealing the sprinkles from a YMCA ice cream social? Comparing eating to rape?

And, I happen to agree that corporate food producers in this country have a real stake in making us fat. This item in the article, gets to the heart of the problem:

"Marion Nestle, the author of Food Politics and professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York university, explains that "the basic problem is that if people are going to do something about obesity, they need to eat less, and eating less is bad for business. The food industry is a trillion-dollar-a-year business." Nestle tells me that 3,900 calories are produced per capita every day - roughly twice the average need. "We're talking about capitalism here," she says."

Corporate food interests need for us to be fat so that they can make money!! And, it's not just vanity at stake here. Body acceptance is nice, but when you're overweight, your health is at stake.

I Guess it's a Trend?

Here's another article about not going completely vegetarian, but cutting back starkly on the meat: http://food.theatlantic.com/vegetarianismism/the-case-for-semitarianism.php

I like NYT's food critic Mark Bittman's advice to be a "vegetarian before dinner." Of course, I go even a little further than that in to be a raw vegan before dinner (at least most days, as I explain below I generally like a bit more flexibility).

Bittman was able to lose weight and become healthier by following his vegetarian before dinner edict, and he's a god-damn food critic. The guy eats for a living!!! If he can lose weight by making that easy adjustment, then you can do it too.

I also mix it up by aiming for my diet to be 60-70% raw vegan over the course of a week. This allows me flexibility if, for instance, I want to have brunch one morning, or go out for lunch with a girlfriend. I'll make up for the extra meat, fish, dairy or cooked foods, by increasing my raw food intake at dinner over the next few days.

But if raw vegan before dinner is too much for you, then by all means take Bittman's advice and be a vegetarian before dinner, or maybe be a weekday vegetarian as some others in the article do. It's still a step in the right direction as far as your weight loss goes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Step Away from the Box

Even if the box says low fat, low calorie, low carb or some other nonsense claim, processed food will make you fat. No ifs, ands or buts.

Remember Snack-Wells Cookies? In the 1990's the manufacturer of Snack-Wells claimed that since the cookies were fat free we could magically eat as many as we wanted and never gain an ounce.

But the reality is that we all gained weight eating Snack Wells, or Tofutti yogurt, or whatever "fat free" sensation was hawked to us at the time.

That's because processed foods make you fat, no matter what the claim that they won't.

I'm in the process of reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food," and it illuminates what I've been saying here. Despite decades of manufacturers creating and marketing thousands of products with claims to help us manage our weight, the only direction our weight has moved in is up. And, we've also gotten sicker along the way.

"Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." That's Pollan's advice, and my advice as well if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

And, even though I advocate eating raw, I don't mean raw processed foods. Go directly to the source and eat raw fruits and vegetables. Fill yourself up on leafy green salads, frest fruit and fresh uncooked veggies and you'll see pounds drop off in no time.

You won't lose any weight eating 100 calorie packs of cookies or low carb pasta.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sudden Weight Drop--Could it be the cleanse?

I've been hovering around 128 pounds for a few months--occasionally dipping down to 127 but shooting back up to 128 (or beyond), in the next day or two.

So I was shocked when I stepped on the scale yesterday and it read 125.6 pounds. I had been 128.4 pounds just two days earlier. This morning I got on the scale again and I was 125.8 pounds.

I haven't been practicing any extreme caloric reduction or sudden increase in my workouts so the weight drop is curious. The one thing I have been doing is following my cleanse (which I wrote about here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/06/mini-cleanse.html).

I'm doing a colon cleanse. The purpose of doing a colon cleanse is that over the years, excess waste can actually "glue" itself onto the walls of your colon. It's quite possible to be carrying around 10, 20 or more pounds of extra waste in your colon. By engaging in a colon cleanse you essentially work to shed this excess waste (and the weight that goes with it).

So the weight I lost this week loss could be excess waste loss because of the colon cleanse, not fat loss.

Another benefit of the colon cleanse is a flatter stomach. The excess waste in your colon can actually be distending your stomach. By clearing out the waste, your stomach naturally flattens.

I'll continue to monitor my weight for the next few days, but today I'm feeling pleased. If I can actually keep my weight in the 125 range it will be the first real significant weight loss in a couple of months.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A little Raw with Every Meal -- Salad for Dinner

I like to make a hearty salad for dinner a few times a month. It's a good way to increase the quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables I'm eating. A lot of the salads I make are not strictly vegan or even vegetarian, but there's usually still a lot of raw ingredients on the plate to fill me and my husband up (don't ask about the kids).

Sometimes in weeks when I feel I really need to cut back on meat, I'll make Chef's Salad for dinner. If I make up the salad on individual plates, I can easily include chicken and ham on my husband's salad, and make mine totally vegetarian. This is also a good recipe if you invite people over for dinner (or lunch) and someone in the group is a vegetarian.

To make my life that much easier, I usually pick up a pre-roasted chicken at the market. I remove some of the white breast meat for my husband's salad, and the kids' eat the rest of the chicken for their dinner.

Vegetarian (or not) Chef Salad

3 heads hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 avocados, peeled and diced
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
8 ounces, pitted Kalamata Olives
8 ounces crumbled goat's milk cheese
2 cooked chicken breasts, skinned and chopped (optional)
1/2 pound cooked ham, chopped (optional)
Chef's Salad dressing (below)

Mix the Romain and watercress together then divide among 4 plates. Arrange the tomatoes, avocados, olives and cheese in lines across each of the plates. If using the chicken and ham, make lines of the meats as well. Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Chef's Salad Dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and serve.

Other good salad for dinner recipes include this one for Warm Duck Salad by the Barefoot Contessa: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/warm-duck-salad-recipe/index.html, and then there's the one I've previously posted for Crispy Skinned Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Mixed Greens and Lime Vinaigrette: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/eat-little-raw-with-every-meal.html.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Loose Underwear

This is going to sound crazy, but I swear to God that all my underwear suddenly got loose. I haven't lost that much additional weight, but in the last few weeks I've noticed that I need to go out and by smaller underpants.

Since I really haven't lost any weight in the last couple of months, I thought I should take my measurements. As I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/taking-measure.html, in addition to tracking my weight, I also keep track of my measurements in a notebook.

Since muscle weighs more than fat, if you get more muscular, you'll loose inches but not weight. So, my loose underwear is probably attributable to inches lost, not weight lost.

This morning my weight and measurements were as follows:

Weight: 127.8 pounds
Bust 37 1/2 inches
Under Bust 28 1/2 inches
Waist 27 1/2 inches
Hips 36 inches
Right thigh 20 inches
Left Thigh 20 1/2 inches

According to my records, I've lost 1/2 inch off my waist since March 30th and a full inch off my hips since then (no wonder the underwear is loose).

Just for reference my weight and measurements on May 3, 2007 were:

Weight: 155.8 pounds
Bust: 39 1/2 inches
Under bust 31 inches
Waist: 32 inches
Hips: 40 inches
Right thigh: 23 1/2 inches
Left thigh: 23 inches

So since May 2007 I've lost 28 pounds, 4 1/2 inches off my waist, 4 inches off my hips and 3 inches off my thighs.

I guess that's real progress.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bad Habits Asserting Themselves--And Making Us Fat

This article from the Science section of the New York Times is interesting reading. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/09/health/research/09beha.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Bad%20Habits%20Asserting%20themselves&st=cse

Between 1988 and 2006 the obesity rate in the United States went from 28% to 36%.

What also happened in that time period? The share of Americans 40 to 74 who ate five fruits and vegetables a day dropped from 42% to 26%. Furthermore while in 1988 57% of men and 49% of women reported exercising 3 times a week, by 2006 those numbers dropped for both sexes to 43%.

We cut back on the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables we ate and exercised less, and as a result we all got fatter.

So the only way to get thinner is to eat more fresh (i.e., raw) fruits and vegetables and exercise more. No pill or magic combination of food will do it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cherries for Lunch

Today I had cherries for lunch. I was going to make a salad, but I had picked up cherries at the market after yoga this morning, and they were so good I couldn't stop eating them. Finally, I said "what the hell" and just made a meal of them.

Great Work Out Tune

I LOVE THIS SONG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BJDNw7o6so.

I downloaded it immediately to my IPod. How can this tune not get you moving immediately? I had to just stop and start dancing the first time I heard it.

Even better than the official YouTube is this Mash-Up by a bunch of Kids in Brooklyn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1ywFh2AZLg&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fandrewsullivan%2Etheatlantic%2Ecom%2Fthe%5Fdaily%5Fdish%2Fpage%2F2%2F&feature=player_embedded

Looks like a bunch of teen-agers in Brooklyn with a video camera made a better music video than the professionals. I just love the references to the Breakfast Club.

Even more fun is this mash up of the song to actual footage from the Breakfast Club and other 80's teen-angst movies (what do you think of Kim Catrall in her pre-Sex in the City days?). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtRQsCgYmtc&feature=related

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Flexitarian

He doesn't call himself a flexitarian, but that is the diet he's now following: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-daniel-harris/why-im-almost-vegetarian_b_210472.html.

As I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/06/flexitarians.html, a flexitarian is someone who's mostly vegetarian but still eats meat and fish on occasion.

As I've previously written, I eat mostly vegetarian, primarily for health and diet reasons. Essentially, I aim for 60-70% of my weekly diet to be raw vegan (maybe I should call myself a flexivegan?).

But the other 30-40% of my weekly diet does include cooked vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs and fish. I find this percentage breakdown easy to follow in that it allows me the flexibility to eat out, go to parties, and cater to my family's preference for non-vegetarian meals.

Although I did transition to my mostly raw vegan diet, it was not all that difficult for me.

I really never ate fast food hamburgers, because I never really liked them. I grew up in an Italian household were most meals were vegetarian or had little meat in them. Growing up, meat was never the centerpiece at our dinner table. The only dessert we had (unless it was a party or holiday) was fresh fruit. My Dad would bring a large bowl of fruit to the table every night after the dishes were cleared away, then peel and slice the fruit for us. Needless to say, I never had a weight problem through my teens and 20's.

But I got married in my 30's to a man who thinks every meal should have meat in it (and fish doesn't count). I found myself making meals I never ate as a child, things like roasts or pasta with large quantities of meat in it. I saw the results of the meat-based diet in my expanding waistline.

Two years ago, I threw down the gauntlet and gradually began reducing the meat we ate. My husband had been diagnosed with a heart condition, and I wanted to lose 40 pounds.

Despite my husband's protests, I reduced the quantities of meat I cooked. If I used 1 pound of sausage in a meal, I reduced it to 3/4 of a pound initially, then 1/2 pound, then 1/4 of a pound. I replaced the reduced meat with vegetables. Roasts became occasional treats rather than weekly meals.

And, I began serving more vegetarian meals and one meal a week of fish.
My husband gripes but he's adjusted, and my weight dropped from 155 pounds to 128 pounds.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Xtreme Eating

Even if I ate nothing else in a day, if I were to walk into a Chili's and ordered the Big Mouth Bites with French Fries, I'd gain weight. That's because as I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/04/you-probably-can-consume-far-fewer.html, I can only consume about 1,700 calories a day without gaining weight (not counting any calories I burn off from exercising).

But as detailed here: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20090602/larger-portions-among-restaurants-lures?src=RSS_PUBLIC, the Chili's meal has 2,350 calories. So, should I order the Big Mouth Bites, I'd exceed my caloric level for the day by some 650 calories with just this one meal.

Chili's Big Mouth Bites with French Fries is just one chain-restaurant entree highlighted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in their 2009 list of Xtreme Eating meals. Other notables include:

  • Uno Chicago's Deep Dish Sundae with 2,800 calories
  • The Cheesecake Factory's Chicken and Biscuits with 2,500 calories
  • The Red Lobster's Ultimate Fondue with 1,490 calories
  • Applebee's Quesadilla Burger with Fries at 1,820 calories.

So, if I was to indulge in Uno Chicago's Sundae, I'd have to somehow work off an additional 1,100 calories to keep from gaining weight (and that's if I didn't eat anything else that day).

If I didn't work off the excess calories from the Sundae, that extra 1,100 would translate to approximate 1/3 of a pound put on in just one day!!. And, if the Sundae was in addition to a full breakfast, lunch and dinner, the extra caloric load from the Sunday could easily mean close to an extra pound put on in just one day (remember 3,500 excess calories means 1 additional pound).

I guess I won't be going to Chili's or Uno Chicago any time soon. Besides, if I'm going to blow my caloric "wad" on a dessert, I can think of far more satisfying ways of doing so than on chain food crap.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Mini Cleanse

As I wrote here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/ultimate-cleanse.html, I started a mini cleanse last week. I've been trying to eat mostly raw vegan (aiming for closer to 80-90% instead of my usual 60-70%) while avoiding caffeine and alcohol this week. My husband being away earlier this week let me go totally vegan for 2 1/2 days.

Today I took it a step further. I'm finding it still a bit too cold to juice fast (it was in the 60's and raining today), but I had juice for both breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was 16 ounces of pineapple/blueberry juice and lunch as carrot/spinach. For snacks I've been eating grapes which are very cleansing.

Tonight for dinner I'm making fish tacos. Halibut marinated with lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin and salt and then served in a warmed, sprouted soft corn tortilla with shredded lettuce and a salsa of mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice (got to get my little bit of raw in).

It's not a full on, deep cellular cleaning/detoxing but it's the best that this busy, working Mom can do right now. Every little bit helps.

The mini cleanse appears to be working. Things are "moving" again a bit more easily. I plan on staying on the cleanse, however, for a full month.

I'm hoping that this cleanse will put me on the path of shedding few pounds I've been trying to lose for the last 3 years. We'll see what happens.

In any event, I'm already feeling a bit better.

This is What Junk Food Can Do to You

If ever there was proof of just how bad processed junk and fast food can make you look, this is proof. The two pictures above are of the same guy, a former model and fitness instructor who went on an experiment of not exercising and eating crap to better understand his clients.
This guy, who was an underwear model, is now trying to return to his former eating habits but is finding it tough.
As I posted here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/2009/05/were-all-addicts.html., sugar, fast food and processed foods are all highly addicting. You're overweight because you've become addicted to high caloric food with little nutritional value.
You have to break the cycle and gradually stop eating fast food and anything that comes prepared or out of a box if you really want to lose weight and keep it off.

Are the Fries Really Worth a 77 Minute Bike Trip?

Here's a fun article that gives you an idea of how much exercise you have to do to work off various fast food treats:


I don't know about you, but a Whopper really isn't worth having to spend 94 minutes in a pool swimming laps.

Walking Motivation

Now that the sun is finally up in the morning when I wake up (which is 5:15 am), I started to take my morning walk outside again.

When I'm on the treadmill I watch TV (you have to to keep from going insane when you're walking in place).

But when I walk outside I like to listen to music. There's nothing like cranking up an old, favorite tune, to get you pumping along at 5:30 in the morning. This morning the first two songs my IPod spewed out were David Bowie's "Heroes" and Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" (am I dating myself here?).

I started to listen to music while running (in the days when my knees would actually let me run), back in college in Boston. I remember getting my first Sony Walkman (really dating myself), and listening to cassettes of the Tom Tom Club and the Human League (really, really, really dating myself), while running along the Charles River.

A couple of decades later, I bought my first IPod and had my 20 something year old babysitter show me how to download music to it (but why the hell isn't there any Grateful Dead on ITunes?)

For me, there's something just really invigorating to listening to music (particularly classic tunes you never hear on the radio) while working out.

This morning when "Like the Weather" by 10,000 Maniacs started playing, I started pumping my 2 pound hand weights up and down to work my arms a bit more. I don't know why, it wasn't part of the plan, but the song just got me moving.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Plant a Garden

I've finished with the bulk of planting my vegetables and herbs for the season. I have two spots in the yard where I plant vegetables and herbs.

Right next to the kitchen door is my "kitchen garden."

I call it the kitchen garden but only because it's right off the kitchen. The truth of the matter is that I planted a garden here because the location faces south with no trees to block the light so it gets constant sun all day. This year I planted Heirloom tomatoes, bell and hot peppers, parsley and basil in the "kitchen garden."

Near the entrance to the yard is what I call the "formal herb garden," although it's more of a potager. Besides herbs such as thyme, fennel, sage, mint and cilantro, I grow a wide assortment of vegetables here. This year I'm growing cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, tomotoes, scallions and zucchini in this garden.

By planting and growing my own vegetables and herbs, I have a constant supply of fresh vegetables that I know have not been sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, or other harsh chemicals. Plus, when you have a garden full of fresh veggies, you just have to eat them.

Plus, gardening is good for the waist-line. Tooling around in the garden burns calories--in the neighborhood of 300 an hour.

So if you have a yard with a sunny spot, try growing your own vegetables and herbs. If all you have is a deck, try pots.

Yes, Yoga Can Help You Lose Weight

As I've previously posted, as part of my weight loss journey, I increased the number of times a week I practiced yoga. I had been practicing once or twice a week, but I've gradually increased it to four times a week (and I'm trying to add a fifth day).

People don't believe that practicing yoga helps to lose weight, but as the author of this article wrote: http://www.yogajournal.com/health/1694, "Studies show that a complete yoga program—asana, breathing techniques, and meditation—can peel off the pounds."

I practice Ashtanga yoga which is one of the more vigorous styles, but as the article says, even a gentler style can help you lose weight.

What's important is not so much the intensity of the yoga, but that you do it regularly. Exercise is only effective in losing weight if you do it.

So while running or biking may burn more calories per hour, if you hate running or biking and don't do it, it doesn't do you any good.

But if you love practicing yoga and will commit to it two or three times a week, then over time you will lose more weight.

And, besides burning calories, I think yoga is an excellent strength and toning work-out. This is particularly the practices that challenge you to hold positions longer and encourage you to try inverted balances such as handstands (it takes a lot of strength to hold yourself upside down on your arms).

Muscle, burns more calories than fat, so as you tone up, your overall metabolism increases.

Monday, June 1, 2009

More Crazy Diets

Another fun article listing some of the most ridiculous diets of the past decade or so: http://www.divinecaroline.com/22177/41987-eleven-most-ridiculous-diets

I have to admit to using Slim Fast on more than one occasion, but never for more than a week. I did manage to lose a few pounds each time, but the weight always came back.

As far as Atkins goes, it just always seemed too restrictive to me. Besides, nothing makes me crazier than inviting people over for lunch or dinner and being told I need to have specific food available because people are on Atkins or whatever the new fad diet du jour is.

I'm sorry, but losing weight shouldn't make you a pain in the ass to anyone who invites you over to eat. Unless you get a hostess insistent on pressing food on you, there's no reason why you have to announce to anyone that you "don't eat X" (and, as far as I'm concerned, a hostess should present food and not be obessed if you eat it or not).

Besides everyone I've ever known who's been on Atkins, South Beach or whatever "you can't eat X" diet that pops up, always loses weight when they're on it, but then gains it all back the minute they return to their "normal" eating patterns. The weight loss is unsustainable, because the diet is unsustainable.

Temporary diets lead to temporary weight loss. You can only lose weight for real if you make lifetime, permanent changes to your eating habits.

When the Husband's Away . . . .

My husband left on a business trip yesterday and I'm in hog heaven. I got to sleep peacefully in my bed without someone keeping me awake half the night snoring, and there was no mess in the kitchen to clean up this morning (not to mention no mess on the bedroom floor).

My husband being out of town also means I don't have to worry what he wants to eat. My husband generally looks askance at any meal that doesn't include meat (and fish doesn't count), and he barely tolerates vegetarian meals.

He's not really that big of a fan of anything too "healthy" either, so at least once a week I have to serve something he really likes such as rigatoni with sausages and meatballs (with regular, not whole wheat, pasta), hamburgers or something fried or laden with cheese and cream.

But when he's gone, not only can I eat exactly what I want to eat, I really don't have to cook. The kids are satisfied with something nuked in the microwave, and I can make do with something as simple as a salad or a baked sweet potato.

Business trips are also an opportuntiy to go far "healthier" than I ever could when my husband is home. In warmer weather, I often like to use my husband's absences to go on juice fasts--something impossible to do when he's around. With one less person in the house to feed and clean up after, it's a perfect opportunity to relax and detox.

This week, I'm taking the opportunity to do a mini detox as well, but not a juice fast. Although it's June, it's still a bit chilly here in New England to go completely without cooked food. This morning, the temperature was barely 40 degrees outside and our heat came on.

So instead of a full scale juice vast, I'm just further dialing back my diet to help my body rid itself of some toxins (and hopefully some weight as well). I cut out caffeine and alcohol for the entire time he's gone, and am eating completely organic.

Yesterday I had freshly extracted juice for breakfast (watermelon and fresh raspberries), a salad consisting of completely raw ingredients for lunch, and steamed broccoli and brown rice with a lemon vinaigrette for dinner. Snacks consisted of dried apricots and almonds.

Today I had freshly extracted juice for breakfast (pineapple and blueberry), a salad consisting of completely raw ingredients for lunch and two baked sweet potatoes for dinner. Snacks are grapes and almonds.

Tomorrow, I'll again have juice for breakfast and salad for lunch, and then my husband will be home for dinner. I'm planning on making a vegetarian pasta loaded with fresh veggies, including tomatoes and arugula and other healthy ingredients such as olives. He'll probably eat steak every night he's gone so he'll be less inclined to complain about a meatless meal tomorrow.

I love business trips!! I just wish the recession would be over so that he'll go on more of them again.


Apparently there's a recent addition to the lexicon. A "flexitarian" is someone inclined to eat less meat, fish, dairy and eggs and more plant foods.

That's me, and it's probably the primary reason why I lost 35 pounds and have kept it off the last two years.

It only makes sense. You can get filled up and satisfied on far fewer calories eating fruits and veggies (particularly if they're uncooked), then you can on meat, fish, dairy or eggs.

But, as much as vegetarians and vegans like to protest, I do believe that eating small quantities of meat, fish, dairy and eggs is better for your overall health, than a purely non-animal diet.

So, instead of completely eliminating something you love from your diet, like chili, try reducing the amount of meat in the recipe and adding more beans and other vegetables.

My daily goal is to eat only raw fruits and vegetables for breakfast and lunch every day (although I do admit that I fall off the bandwagon every now and again).

But dinner is generally always mostly cooked (although I do like to include "a little raw in every meal"). While I try to focus on serving lean fish or chicken in my dinners, I also aim to have at least 1 (if not 2) completely vegetarian dinners a week.

That's the goal of flexitarianism, to be flexible. You don't have to swear off eating animal products, just eat less of them. It's a good goal to shoot for in your weight loss journey.