Healthy Byte: Exercise to Get Healthy, Eating Consciously to Lose Weight

Originally Posted HERE

We’ve been conditioned to think of exercise as a key ingredient — perhaps the most important ingredient — of any weight loss effort.

You know the drill: Join the gym on January 1 if you want to reach your New Year’s weight loss goal.

But in truth, the evidence has been accumulating for years that exercise, while great for health, isn’t actually all that important for weight loss.

To learn more about why, I read through more than 60 studies (including high-quality, systematic reviews of all the best-available research) on exercise and weight loss for a recent installment of Show Me the Evidence. Here’s a quick summary of what I learned.

Exercise accounts for a small portion of daily calorie burn

One very underappreciated fact about exercise is that even when you work out, the extra calories you burn only account for a small part of your total energy expenditure.
There are three main components to energy expenditure, obesity researcher Alexxai Kravitz explained: 1) basal metabolic rate, or the energy used for basic functioning when the body is at rest; 2) the energy used to break down food; and 3) the energy used in physical activity.

Javier Zarracina / Vox

What’s important to absorb is the fact that we have very little control over our basal metabolic rate, but it’s actually our biggest energy hog. “It’s generally accepted that for most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure,” said Kravitz. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent.

That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. (Remember, physical activity includes all movement, including walking around, fidgeting, et cetera.)

The implication here is that while your food intake accounts for 100 percent of the energy that goes into your body, exercise only burns off less than 10 to 30 percent of it. That’s a pretty big discrepancy, and definitely means that erasing all your dietary transgressions at the gym is a lot harder than the peddlers of gym memberships make it seem.

It’s hard to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise

Using the National Institutes of Health’s Body Weight Planner — which gives a more realistic estimation for weight loss than the old 3,500 calorie rule — mathematician and obesity researcher Kevin Hall created this model to show why adding a regular exercise program is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss.

Javier Zarracina / Vox

If a hypothetical 200-pound man added 60 minutes of medium-intensity running four days per week while keeping his calorie intake the same, and he did this for 30 days, he’d lose five pounds. “If this person decided to increase food intake or relax more to recover from the added exercise, then even less weight would be lost,” Hall added. (More on these “compensatory mechanisms” later.)

So if one is overweight or obese, and presumably trying to lose dozens of pounds, it would take an incredible amount of time, will, and effort to make a real impact through exercise alone.

Exercise can undermine weight loss in other, subtle ways

How much we eat is connected to how much we move. When we move more, we sometimes eat more too, or eat less when we’re not exercising.

One 2009 study shows that people seemed to increase their food intake after exercise — either because they thought they burned off a lot of calories or because they were hungrier. Another review of studies from 2012 found that people generally overestimated how much energy exercise burned and ate more when they worked out.

There’s also evidence to suggest that some people simply slow down after a workout, using less energy on their non-gym activities. They might decide to lie down for a rest, fidget less because they’re tired, or take the elevator instead of the stairs.

These changes are usually called “compensatory behaviors” — and they simply refer to adjustments we may unconsciously make after working out to offset the calories burned.

We need to reframe how we think about exercise

Obesity doctor Yoni Freedhoff has called for a rebranding of how we think of exercise. Exercise has staggering benefits — it just may not help much in the quest for weight loss:

By preventing cancers, improving blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar, bolstering sleep, attention, energy and mood, and doing so much more, exercise has indisputably proven itself to be the world’s best drug – better than any pharmaceutical product any physician could ever prescribe. Sadly though, exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to short-change the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise, and simultaneously misinform them about the realities of long term weight management.

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health; it’s just not that important for weight loss. So don’t expect to lose a lot of weight by ramping up physical activity alone.

As a society, we also need to stop treating a lack of exercise and diet as equally responsible for the obesity problem in this country. Public-health obesity policies should prioritize fighting the over-consumption of low-quality food and improving the food environment.

 

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Healthy Byte: Maintenance 3rd Anniversary (Day 1318)

Today started out like any other Saturday; the house was quiet, still full of sleepy heads, and two hungry pups. I laid in bed for a brief moment before I propelled myself out of the comforts of the warm covers and into the chill of the air conditioned room.

I glanced briefly down at my Fitbit and it stated “0930, SA 13.” The pups wagged their tails excitedly waiting for their breakfast and as they chowed down I retrieved my standard weekend breakfast of protein bar and cup of hot tea. Something about the date drew me to tap on the Fitbit again and I read “0947, SA 13.” Then it suddenly dawned on me, Aug 13 is the day. The day that I reach my goal weight three years ago from years of being overweight.

EPSON MFP image

This is what unhealthy looks like

This was me in 2000. I was 30 years old, 163 lbs at 4’10”, had a BMI of 34.1 (obese), hated photographs of myself, hated shopping for clothes, was the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, and had accepted that this is how a mother is suppose to look. It wasn’t until 12 years later at an annual physical when my blood work came back declaring that I was pre-diabetic that I finally was scared enough to actually skip all the quick fix diets or miracle diet supplements and just settle down to put in the work.

Weight loss compared to was a breeze. The first two years of maintenance blew by with very little hiccup largely due to my fear of falling prey to the statistics regaining. I remained hyper vigilant on nutrition and gymming regularly. The only time I skipped gym was for a child’s sporting event. My weight remained constant within +/- 1-2 lbs and life was good.

This third year however, has been a series of challenges and it was the first time my weight fluxed back over 100 lbs. I was horrified, frustrated, and was in borderline panic mode. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or what has changed or why is that stupid fucking number on the scale going in the wrong direction?!

Of course I knew all the answers but just became quite comfortable with what I am calling the ‘maintenance blinders’ squarely over my eyes. And that is exactly why I religiously log everything and anything other than water pass my little devil lips into MyFitnessPal. It is an incredible source of data to find the self-sabotaging pattern of eating. I can summarize my top pitfalls which has made my 3rd year of maintenance a bit of a roller coaster.

  1. I looked at my daily caloric allotment and felt it was time to increase it from what has made me successful in the previous two years. Instead of 1230 I increased it to 1450 – regardless if I gymmed or not, often eating over it, and abandoned my TDEE #s.
  2. I increased my strength training and reduced my cardio drastically.
  3. Due to increased strength training I was more hungry so I ate more. I became a huge fan of Peanut Butter … on everything!
  4. I associated the consistent weight gain to gaining muscle and rationalized that my pants were getting tight around my waist due to muscle – yes I really did quite an excellent job convincing myself of this one.
  5. A few days before my cycle I have always been famished but since I was doing more ‘strength training’ to ‘build more muscle’ which naturally ‘burns more fat’ I quenched my insatiable appetite with everything and anything with little regard to the quality of what I was consuming. The power of self rationalization is incredibly powerful.

Thanks to my MFP pals and a mishap on the elliptical severely injuring my wrist, I refocused on getting back on track.  

  1. I have NO idea why I veered away from TDEE. I think subconsciously I reflected how easy the previous 2 years of maintaining was and just got a little cocky. I thought ‘hey maybe I can’t get fat again!’ I was sadly mistaken. LOL I dialed my daily baseline caloric allotment to a reasonable 1350, did not eat over it except for once a week on family pizza night, and I have strictly adhered to eating on plan during the workweek and loosening the reigns on the weekend (80/20 Rule).
  2. I did a bit of research and apparently there are studies which alludes that some people are physically built to respond better to cardio and some to strength training when it comes to weight loss. So I have tweaked my physical routine to strength training to be half of my cardio 5 days a week. While on the weekends I bump up the cardio and the strength training to a 60:40 ratio in favor of cardio.
  3. I have made peace with that peanut butter can be addictive for me, so I have tapper off on it and magically I no longer crave it on everything. lol
  4. I have also had to face the hard truth that if my weight is creeping up and my clothes are getting tight around the waist, it is NOT muscle weight but F-A-T. That was a very difficult truth to acknowledge because I no longer could use strength training/more muscle as an excuse to eat like a crazy person. Cuz let’s face it, eating like a crazy person with zero regard to outcome sometimes is just flat out enjoyable. But too much ‘enjoying’ resulted in a reality that I did not like. SO instead having ice cream 4 days a night I limit it to 1 on a non-pizza night. Instead of drowning my protein bar in PB I put it in the fridge so that it doesn’t need ‘something extra’ to make it more palatable.
  5. I still feed my insatiable appetite days before my cycle, but now I do so with the least amount of carbs & sugar with the most nutritional value. This little standard allowed me to make much better choices to satisfy without falling into the carbs & sugar addictive cycle.
IMG_20160615_082543

Purrty colors no?

Oddly enough the horrific wrist injury refocused me on nutrition because I knew my physical activities had to be highly curtail to accommodate my lack of mobility. I literally could not even walk on the treadmill because the vibration sent sharp shooting pain up my arm. Therefore without the reliance to ‘out-gym’ poor eating choices I was inadvertently forced back on track. As my wrist healed and I was able to slowly incorporate strength training again back into my cardio while being more proactive about my nutrition – not only did I not gain weight but lost. It was the first time this 3rd year of maintenance that I have regularly included strength training without gaining and I am elated.

I am back under 100 and 1.8 lbs from goal. I have been focusing on my shoulders and triceps and with the continued reduction in fat, I am finally seeing results.

20160813_170901.jpg

Happy 3rd Maintenance Anniversary to Me!

So thanks universe for my mishap on the elliptical to get back on track. hahaha

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Day 1060

Healthy living shouldn’t always mean an either / or scenario.

The holidays – the time of joy, cheer, and weight gain. As we have all been repeatedly conditioned to believe, the holiday weight saboteur proves to be a formidable foe even to those who are most disciplined. Or does it?  

It occurred to me that there are many very popular myths out there which has been passed around for ages by traditionally reliable news outlets. But this is why I am prone to conduct my own research because many times it’s the only way to discern fact from fiction.

One of the most notorious is of course the weight the average person gains from the holidays. What is fact? What is fiction? Here, let’s take a look based on a published study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

The Myth: Average person gains 7-10 lbs over the holiday season.

The Facts: The average person, based on year 2000 study published in the NEJM  indicates that the average weight gain between November to January is less than 1 pound! (Shocked?)

Interesting Findings to Keep in Mind:

  • Participants’ perceived weight gain was far greater than actual weight gain.
  • The more overweight a participant (based on BMI categories: Not Overweight; Overweight; or Obese) was at the beginning of the study the “greater likelihood of gaining … with increasing degree of overweight.” So if one was already overweight, their chances of gaining weight also increases. (Not new fact)
  • Two predictive factors for holiday weight gain should be no surprise – Perceived Hunger and Change in Activities Level. “Those who reported being much more active or much less hungry since their last visit had the greatest weight loss; conversely, those reporting being much less active or much more hungry since their last visit gained the most over the holiday interval.” (If we eat more and is less active … ahhm yea we’re going to gain weight / fat)

Study Conclusion Formal: “In contrast to the common perception that weight increases during the winter holiday season, the measured weight of the vast majority of subjects in this study changed little between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The subjects believed they had gained four times as much weight as their actual holiday weight gain of 0.37 kg. Fewer than 10 percent of subjects gained 2.3 kg or more, and more than half of all measurements of weight after the initial one were within 1 kg of the previous measurement. Thus, despite the fact that 85 percent of the study subjects made no effort to control their weight, large weight gains over the winter holiday season were not the norm. Unfortunately, we also found that the 0.18-kg average weight gain during the fall preholiday period and the 0.37-kg increase during the holiday season were largely maintained during the postholiday winter period from January to February or March, resulting in a net average weight gain of 0.48 kg. In subjects who completed one year of observation, the weight increased by an average of 0.32 kg during the holiday period and 0.62 kg over the entire year, suggesting that the period contributing most to yearly weight change is the six-week holiday period.”

Study Conclusion Cliff Notes:

  1. The average person do gain (< 1 lb) the most during the holidays but nowhere near (7-10 lbs) the widely perpetuated myth claims.
  2. If we maintain the healthy habits (eating & activities level) we do the rest of the year the forecasted holiday weight gain doom is one of the biggest fibs which continues to be  irresponsibly circulated.

My Personal Add-On: I’d almost add in the possibility of the placebo effect. If we are lead to believe that we will gain weight over the holidays than how many of us tend to unconsciously toss in the towel and just embrace what seem to be inevitable?

Holiday Eating Tip

Practicing 90/10 Rule for me is my ticket to mindfully indulge guilt free. It’s wonderful not to be bothered by the glaring red warnings which MFP dutifully affords me.

Do I indulge? Dang skippy!

Usually every November time frame the cult favorite McRib hits local McDonalds. And I am usually the first in line ordering 2 to 3 at a time. I load it with veggies to psychologically trying to make it more ‘healthy’ but I know it’s negligible. I enjoy the crap out of it while it’s here and once its gone I move on.

Day 1060 27Nov2015 MFP Overages

My Thanksgiving Overages – Multiple servings of Apple Pies w/Ice Cream adds up quickly. Thank goodness once its enjoyed it’s gone – no lingering leftover temptations to contend with. 🙂

Day 1060 28Nov2015 MFP Overages

ahhhhh the McRib!! 🙂 The “If every day were” like reminder is a great way to put indulgences into perspectives for me because it is not my ‘every day.’

My other holiday must-have is warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Nothing says holidays to me more than cold vanilla ice cream melting over a piping hot slice of apple pie! Instead of buying an entire pie & a gallon of ice cream, I opt to purchase an individual portion of apple pie and ice cream cup. I reap all the benefits of the indulgence but the portion is controlled for me – best of both worlds. And like the McRib, once it’s gone, it’s gone. No week-long leftovers to tempt me.

day 1060

So my tip is – indulge away. Control the portion when possible. Add in the healthy when possible. And log it all in and don’t be afraid of giving yourself permission to enjoy … as long as it is truly an occasional occurrence it will not have any long term detrimental effects on our quests for healthy living.

Other Myths Busted:

Freshman 15 

Holiday Fitness Myths 

Healthy Byte: Balance is Key

80 20 principle dietAs Thanksgiving lurks around the corner and for many, the start of the holiday season is when most people gain the most weight, only to follow by yet another New Year resolution.

But there is a far better way to enjoy the holidays without it being at the expense of health and nutrition. The key is 80/20 Rule.

I often mention that you should try and eat healthy (whole foods, lots of veggies, protein, avoiding too many processed carbs) 80% of the time.

In fact, it’s stated right in the 12 Minute Athlete food philosophy. And it falls right in line with the 80/20 principle of eating.

But what exactly does the 80/20 rule mean? Let’s break it down:

It means that you don’t have to cook every meal at home.

You know as well as I do that it’s way easier to follow a 100% healthy diet when cooking your own meals.

Cooking at homes means you know exactly what goes in your food—how much oil, butter, how many carbs, etc. And it’s about a thousand times easier to figure out your portion sizes as well.

Yet I don’t know about you, but I like eating out. I happen to be lucky enough to live in San Francisco, a mecca of awesome restaurants and new places to check out. I like having other people cook for me. And I get joy out of finding new places to eat and exploring the city.

And while I do try and cook my own meals the majority of the time, I typically eat out anywhere around two to five times a week. Some of my meals out are similar to what I’d make at home—salads, veggie-heavy meals, burrito bowls (I’m a huge fan of these). And some of them are a little more indulgent—trying out a great new pizza place, sharing really yummy Indian food with friends, having delicious, carb-heavy pasta on a special occasion or just to end a tough week.

And as long as I don’t eat out too often, I’ve stopped feeling guilty about these meals. And you should too.

Because what do we work so hard for in our workouts, if not to enjoy ourselves in life?

It means that on birthdays/holidays/special occasions you can have a piece of cake.

One of the hardest things about trying to eat healthy is those times—whether it’s your nephew’s birthday party, Thanksgiving dinner, or your best friend’s wedding, when it just feels wrong not to indulge just a little. And whether it’s a glass of champagne, a piece of cake, or both, it’s easy to feel like you’re completely ruining your diet if you have even just one bite.

But if you’re living by the 80/20 principle, this becomes completely unnecessary. Because as long as you’re not out indulging in cake and other yummy treats too often, and eating healthy the rest of the time, you’ll be totally fine.

I used to obsess over every single calorie at special occasions—avoiding pumpkin pie (my favorite) at Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies around the holidays, dessert at parties. I thought that if I did indulge, my entire diet would go to shit and I’d immediately gain 20 pounds.

Once I realized that was actually impossible, I started giving myself a little more flexibility in those situations—knowing that once the party/vacation/holiday was over, I’d naturally go back to eating healthy. I can’t tell you how much happier and less bitter this has made me over the years.

It means you’re building a lifestyle, not just following a diet.

Most people who start diets inevitably fail.

Diets aren’t sustainable. They’re based on restriction and denying yourself your favorite foods. They’re boring, and too often than not, based on the latest fad decided by the health and fitness industry.

What I want you to build, on the other hand, is a healthy lifestyle. I want you to start listening to your body, to realize that it actually craves protein and salads and sweet potatoes, not a 1,500 calorie hamburger. I want you to start relishing the taste of fresh strawberries, to experiment with new flavors and tastes, to order a kale salad instead of french fries at a restaurant not because you feel like you have to, but because it just sounds better.

And if you give up dieting, and focus on building a healthy lifestyle instead, you’ll get there, sooner or later.

Because as crazy as it might sound to you now, once your body starts getting used to eating adequate protein, fresh veggies, less grains… once it gets used to cutting out processed foods, not drinking soda, minimizing sugar… once you get used to feeling energized and pumped for your workouts… you won’t want to go back.

And then, when you have a cookie here and there, or a few too many chips, it’s just not a big deal. You’ll enjoy every bite—but then you’ll want to go back to your healthy meals.

It’s all about allowing yourself little indulgences here and there, so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of every food you’ve ever loved.

It means you don’t have to be perfect 100% of the time.

Nobody’s perfect. And you might as well accept right now that you’re not either.

So while it’s a good idea to aim to eat healthy 100% of the time by not buying unhealthy foods, cooking at home when you can, and choosing smart when you’re eating out, you should expect to go off course at times.

In fact, allowing yourself a little give in your diet is actually a good thing. Because not only will eating perfect 100% of the time make you feel bitter about life, it’ll also make it more likely that you’ll go on a binge eating fest when your willpower is at its lowest and chow down on anything you can get your hands on.

Perfection is what leads people off course. It’s what makes you down that entire bag of chips and pint of ice cream because all you’ve eaten is carrots and boiled chicken for days.

Don’t aim to be perfect. Aim to be pretty good, the majority of the time. That’s the best you can hope for.

Balance is key

In life and nutrition, it’s all about finding a balance. Because as much as you know that proper nutrition will get you the body you want, boost your performance and allow you to live a long, healthy, active life, you also want to be able to just live.

And the 80/20 principle allows you to do that.

Because while you should always aim to eat healthy most of the time, aiming for about 80% of the time gives you that wiggle room every sane person needs to still enjoy themselves.

It’s what allows you to go to a party and have something other than water. To be able to go to a Mexican restaurant and try the chips everyone raves about. To go to Paris and eat a croissant for breakfast instead of your usual protein shake.

It means you don’t have to obsess about every morsel of food you eat. It allows you to try new things and be adventurous. And most of all, it gives you freedom.

And that’s what life is all about.

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Day 1040

Day 1040 2

I think it is fair to say that many of us healthy-life fangirls / boys have a tendency to toss around acronyms like BMI, BMR & TDEE and popular sound bites like reverse dieting, all things in moderation, and balance. For anyone who has been my MFP peep for any length of time knows that I am a huge cheerleader of the 80/20 RuleIt’s one thing to understand a theory or approach but I’ve personally noticed that there seem to be a disconnect in actually put it into real life application. Kind of like an attorney learning about the law in law school but to be able to apply that law to real life situation takes a different set of skills.

So I thought it would be helpful to share ‘a day in the life’ of what 80/20 eating regimen actually looks like. Please note that I’ve personalize a variation of 80/20 Rule. My eating habits just effortlessly gravitate more towards 90/10 then 80/20. The key here is no matter the ratio – whether it’s 80/20, 90/10, or 75/25, the build-in ‘off-plan’ eating takes the pressure of trying to be perfect all the time. Eating perfection (100% on plan 100% of the time) is a myth; it’s unrealistic & unsustainable goal.

Again, I think this is a good time to make the disclaimer that I am not a licensed dietitian or have any formal nutrition education. However, due to my own food sensitivities & BBFTB approach, I do invest a vast amount of time in researching what will keep me feeling satisfied the longest at the least amount of calories. Also please keep in mind that:

  • I am limited in what I can consume (food sensitivities). So once I find something that doesn’t have adverse effects I tend to stick with it.
  • I adore routines, schedules, plans, & goals. My go-to standard meals are my comfort foods.
  • And this really shouldn’t need to be mentioned but is always good to remind peeps that everyone is different! This is what has worked for me. And it may very well not work for anyone else. But I am hopeful by sharing details will spark an idea for someone who maybe struggling with the nutrition portion in maint or was looking for a new maint approach.

Alright, now onward with what my week-in-the-life of eating 90/10 looks like.

MONDAY – FRIDAY

(My 90% Eating on Plan)

Meal Item Food Group
BRKFST        
  • Whole Wheat English Muffin
  • Peanut Butter
  • Grape Jelly (just enough to make the English muffin not so dry)
  • 2 Mandarin Oranges Fruit Cups (drained the water – no sugar added)
  • Tea
  • Water
Complex Carb

Healthy Fat, Protein

SEE PIC

Fruit

TIP: First thing I do in the morning is drink as much of 16 oz of water I can while prepping lunches for me & the kiddos. I read somewhere that drinking water helps kickstart the metabolism & to be quite frank I don’t know how much truth is in this. However I have noticed on the mornings where I wake up absolutely famished the water helps temper that hunger until I can get to work and have a proper breakfast. So even if this routine has no metabolic boosting effects, it helps me be less hungry which is always a good thing.
Breakfast 1

Just a smidget of grape jelly to counter the dryness a toasted English muffin can be

Breakfast

Proper Breakfast: Complex carbs, Protein, Fruit (considering I never use to have breakfast at all this is a huge accomplishment) LOL

LUNCH:     
  • Low Calorie Whole Grain Bread
  • Cucumber slices
  • Spinach
  • Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Rainbow Chard
  • 2 Slices of Turkey
  • 1 Slice of Ultra Thin Provolone
  • Lite Miracle Whip w/ Lite Italian House Dressing instead of mayo
  • 1 Mandarin Oranges Fruit Cups (drained)
  • Water
Complex Carb
Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Lean Protein

Dairy

Fruit

TIP: I have found that I visually need to be satisfied before I actually ‘feel’ satisfied aka Jedi Mind Trick.  [LINK to Earlier post – 40 lbs?] I’d venture that I probably physically consume a higher quantity of food then when I was overweight. However, because it’s higher quality of foods instead of Doritos, a sugary yogurt, & a sugary granola bar, overall I am consuming less calories but not necessarily less food – if that makes any sense.
Lunch

Perfect nutritionally balanced lunch: Complex Carbs, Lean Protein, Dairy, Veggies, & Fruit. You can see how visually it’s a “huge” sandwich but believe it or not the entire sandwich is under 250 calories.

DINNER:                                     
  • Diced Cucumbers  
  • Chopped Spinach
  • **Chopped Red or Green Leaf Lettuce (part left raw)
  • **Chopped Rainbow Chard (part left raw)  
  • **Shredded Carrots
  • **Green Peppers  
  • **Small amount of Onions (FODMAP)

[** Indicates I lightly stir fry these in EVOO in heavy spices for flavor]

  • Protein of Choice: 2.5 oz of Salmon with no more than 4oz of hard protein (ie. chicken, pork, beef – always via baked, grilled or slow cooker) for a total of 6 – 6.5 oz of protein
  • Fat Free Ranch
  • Tea
  • Water
Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Veg

Protein, Healthy Fats

Lean Protein 90% of time

TIP: Along the line of eating more food but consuming less calories, my dinner is a good example that ¾ of it is ‘filled’ with vegetables. So instead of using white rice, pasta, macaroni & cheese as ‘fillers,’ I use vegetables. Also instead of drowning it in ketchup or some other high sugar sauce I learned to season, season, & more season for flavor because let’s face it veggies can be bland.
Dinner 1

Proteins: 2.5 oz of Salmon & 4oz of Meatloaf

Dinner 2

Diced Cucumbers for a little crunch

Dinner 11

Baby Spinach Leaves – Roughly Chopped

Dinner 6

Leaf Lettuce wrapped in Rainbow Chard Leaf – Rolled tight for easy chopping

Dinner 7

A portion of the chopped leafy greens goes into the stir fry The rest gets tossed into the bowl raw for a bigger texture variation

Dinner 4

Stir Fry Base: Garlic, Onions, Green Peppers, Shredded Carrots, & Rainbow Chard Stems

Dinner 9

Stir Fry w/Leafy Greens

Dinner 8

Raw leafy greens & Protein mix

Dinner 14

Lightly Dressed Va-La! An obnoxious bowl of food under 300 calories!

SATURDAY

(My 10% Eating Off Plan)

SAMPLE

BRUNCH:

[Varies based on Leftovers Available but I always try to squeeze in an obnoxious amount of veggies no matter what it maybe]

  • Diced Cucumbers
  • Chopped Spinach
  • Chopped Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Chopped Rainbow Chard
  • Shredded Carrots
  • 2.5 oz Salmon
  • Spicy Marinara Sauce
  • Low Cal Mozzarella Cheese

All ingredients above on leftover pizza and toasted

  • 2 Mandarin Oranges Fruit Cups (drained)
  • Tea
  • Water
TIP: Even though the pizza itself is for the most part nutrition-poor, I try to bump it up with veggies & lean protein so that I’m not hungry an hour later. This also helps me to indulge completely guilt free.

SUNDAY

(My 10% Eating Off Plan)

BRUNCH:

(Current favorite Sun brunch meal)

  • Sweet Potato Waffle w/ PB&J instead of Syrup or Butter
  • 3 Scrambled Eggs (2:1 EW:WE Ratio Sometimes 4 scrambled eggs at 3:1 Ratio)
  • Protein: Some sort breakfast meat ie. sausage patties or leftover chicken or pork (2-4 oz depending on what it is)
  • Tea
  • Water
WEEKEND DINNER VARIATION
DINNER:
  • PB&J on Low Cal Bread or English Muffin (depending on mood)
  • Snack of Choice (Current Favorite is Chex Mix)
  • Tea
  • Water
OR

(Depending how hungry I am)

  • Diced Cucumbers  
  • Chopped Spinach
  • **Chopped Red or Green Leaf Lettuce (part left raw)
  • **Chopped Rainbow Chard (part left raw)  
  • **Shredded Carrots
  • **Green Peppers  
  • **Small amount of Onions (FODMAP)

[** Indicates I lightly stir fry these in EVOO in heavy spices for flavor]

  • 2.5 oz of Salmon or Scrambled Eggs 2:1 Ratio
  • Fat Free Ranch
  • Tea
  • Water

OVERALL 90/10 TIPs

  • Boring is Good: Yes, yes, I eat very plain, very boring but I like routines so this suits me.
  • Heavy to Light: I front load my heavy carb items (breads, fruits) towards the beginning of the day & by dinner time I consume very little carbs (during the week).
  • No Water Conservation Here: I try to have 3 (16 oz) cups of water by 12 noon (lunch time) – this has helped tremendously on my stomach (bloating) issues & energy levels (weekday only – not very good about it on the weekend because I’d rather have tea hehe)
  • 100 % Tracking: I fanatically, religiously, & obsessively weigh / measure / track the following:
    • protein (too much hard protein can give me GI issues so I’ve really had to reign this one in).
    • carbs (My body process carbs poorly. When my weight fluxes towards the high end of my range, 99.9% of the time it is because my carbs were a little out of whack).
    • snacks (When I’m hankering for a snack I never say to myself, “MMMMM let me gnaw on this large piece of rainbow chard leaf!” {HAHAHA I wish right?} No, it is almost always a hankering for the less nutritional stuff like Chex Mix, or Cheez-It™ Crunch’D™ Hot & Spicy, or milk chocolate covered pretzels).
      • I very rarely will purposely deny myself of my hankerings because that just leads to binging
      • I measure out a portion of the snack – sometimes I will have a portion of both the Chex Mix & Cheez-It then another portion of Chex Mix – That’s A-OK
      • I snack with some form of liquids either tea or water and enjoy the crap out of the treat(s)! LOL
  • Pseudo Tracking: aka eyeballing it track the following:
    • sauces/spreads (Perhaps the sneakiest & most well hidden calorie bombs) I don’t tend to drown my food in sauces any more so I don’t go through the trouble of being too precise. And there is just SO much PB I can put on a English Muffin due to it’s small size). LOL
    • fruit Mine comes in a pre-measured cup so this one is easy (due to the sugar – although it’s natural sugar, I try to watch my intake because I am acne prone).
  • Freebies: Veggies are FREE REIGN! 🙂 WOOHOO!
  • Red is Okay: Although MFP likes to emphasize my overages in jarring red font, I don’t sweat being over my calorie allotment any more. Even when grossly over (ie. 1000+ calories – can be achieved easily with a few slices of deep dish hahaha) because A-I’m entitled, B- it’s not a regular occurrence, every few weeks or months. Again, this is NOT something I purposely suppress my wants – no. I’ve found many times that I’d just rather have my standard meal, my personal ‘comfort food.’ This choice – not mandate mentality makes a tremendous difference in my ability to stay eating on-plan most of the time. It is a choice and not something I have to do. This is also the primary reason why my food diary remains private. If someone glances at my food intake on the weekends or on Family Pizza Night without looking at the big picture from the rest of the week or month, the natural human inclination is to jump to conclusions that would not be an accurate reflection of reality. So, instead of subjecting myself to potential unsolicited unpleasantries I much rather opt to just remove that temptation for well meaning people who doesn’t fully understand the highly individualistic nature of our own methods and approaches to healthy living. (see 3rd bullet of disclaimer).
  • Eat-Fest: To be able to recognize & acknowledge when I am simply too hungry (for whatever reason) to indulge in nutrition-poor and/or highly processed foods like pizza or Chinese takeout has been a monumental leap forward to curbing the after dinner snacking. A sample ‘eat-fest’ goes something like:

Eat 4 slices of deep dish pizza – still hungry; eat leftover cheesy bacon bread – still hungry; eat any leftover pizza – still hungry, snack – still hungry; snack again.

By this point I feel weighed down (like after Thanksgiving dinner of old x3), sluggish, bloated, fatigue, and yet still not fully satisfied. And then there’s the first 24-48 hours after such a eat-fest to contend with.

  • The Day After … or Two: For the first 24-48 hours after the eat-fest I will constantly crave more carbs. The crap in the vending machine I nonchalantly pass by 3-4 times a day, everyday will all of a sudden call my name.

Vending Machine: “psssst hey baby, I know you want this Whatchamacallit. Doesn’t it look yummy?”

Tempted Me: “ahh .. oh … ooooo Whatchamacallit!”

Gate-Keeper Me: “No. F – off! That Whatchamacallit is going to lead me to those Oreos. The Oreos will lead me to those peanut M&Ms. The peanut M&Ms will lead me to the Cool Ranch Doritos. And then I’m back to where I started. So NOOOO F-the-hell off!”

This is the one of the few times where I consciously deny my cravings because I know it’s not derived naturally; that it’s chemically induced & fueled. The processed food addiction factor is very real – at least for me, which further extend the eat-fest misery.

Be a Detective: I’ve been able to curb the after dinner snacking quite successfully because I’ve discovered that most of the cravings were remnant of an eat-fest. So in order to truly stop this pattern of eating behavior once & for all, I had to really live 90/10 – and not just use it as a cool tagline. It’s actually quite silly and required nothing more than a change in my own perspective. I had to embrace that I’m not ‘missing out’ on anything when I delay the indulgence. The delay itself doesn’t somehow make it less of a treat. Once I’ve come to really accepted this, the rest fell into place quite effortlessly.

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Healthy Byte: Day 1010

2015 10-10 M

Recently the office threw a surprise wedding party for a coworker and there was a beautiful chocolate cake with whipped icing fashioned in the wedding color scheme. The icing had a stunning diamond ring motif made of more icing and the pale lavender and purple whipped icing was a gorgeous contrast to the dark chocolate once the cake.

The hostess who coordinated the party was cutting and dispensing out slices of cake. Everyone had taken their appropriated slice and there were 2 left. She started to hand me a plate and I said “no thank you” with a smile. Her eyes got wide and asked “Whhyy?”and I respond with another smile.

A coworker sitting next to me gave me a sheepish look and said, “you’re being so good.”

I looked back at her nonchalantly and said, “it’s not about being good or bad.”

“It’s about the decisions that you make,” she interjected proudly before continuing.

“And I am making a very different decision from you” she finished just before she shoves a particular large bite of cake in her mouth.

What I really wanted to explain to her was that the truth of the matter is that I simply didn’t want to eat a piece a cake at that particular moment. ‘Didn’t want’ not as in I craved it and was purposely overcoming my urges and denying myself. No. ‘Didn’t want’ as in I genuinely had no desire, zero, zilch, nada. A notion which I am increasingly discovering is something so incredibly foreign that I may as well trying to explain the time continuum string theory. Many are simply unable to comprehend the concept of not ‘wanting’ to eat cake and actually mean it, much less accept.

And I was fully aware that when I turned down the piece of cake that my decision made many of the ladies very uncomfortable. I can see them rolling their eyes at me, some internally, some out right and that is okay. I refuse to be pressured to eat something when I have no desire for it. Random, frequent, forced social eating is one of the many habits which can easily lead me back to being obese. And their visual uncomfortableness is not really a reflection on me, personally. No. Their uncomfortableness resonates from their displeasure with their own choices but cleverly deflected on to me. I am okay with that too.  

I am constantly frustrated with people’s misguided definition of what healthy living. healthy eating, healthy choices are. There seem to be a disconnect between the widely ill conceived truth from the actual reality. I think it is fairly common for people to think healthy = 100% compliance 100% of the time 0% indulgence. But the reality is if anyone only commits to healthy choices at 75% of the time, it would still make an impact on their overall health. A concept which alludes many, while most refuse to acknowledge operating under the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Which is a real shame.

Day 1000

I also wanted to thank everyone who shared in my momentous 1000-day MFP milestone. I have been oddly quiet because to be quite frank I was internally having mini panic attacks of failure and reverting back to 3 years ago.

As I have mentioned, my recent food experiment was an epic fail and it took me about 3 weeks to fully resolve the issues from it  and feel better. It was one of my worse experiment failures to date. So here’s what happened and forgive me of violating TMI rule but I hope it will help others.

Since I have lost the weight and started to concentrate more on strength training, I have habitually been heavy on my proteins as all hours of research suggests (macros: F 30 C 30 P 40). However, the additional portions protein was causing some severe constipation where I have had to resort to using a laxative once or sometimes twice a week. I knew laxatives were very harsh on the system so I did more research for other alternatives. Many suggest the first step is try to introduce more fiber through real foods. But since I have FODMAP sensitivity I am limited to what I can implement into my eating repertoire that is high in fiber. I literally consume as much vegetables at lunch and dinner in hopes for a natural remedy but It did nothing. So fiber supplements was the next recommended approach to try this is where the downward spiral started.

Day 980 2

I knew exactly how this frog feels! LOL

Without considering my own height & weight or additional research I simply dived in head first and took 2 gummy supplements at one time (according to the directions on the bottle). The very next day I was so ungodly uncomfortably bloated that I was literally busting out of my jeans! I decided to split the dose to one in the morning and one at night – still felt like I was a gazillion pounds. Then I cut the gummies into quarters and took one quarter in the morning and one at night. I didn’t feel worse but I certainly didn’t feel better. I did this for about a week or trying to ‘tough it out’ because it did provide the relief I was seeking otherwise. But after the scale tipped passed my ‘caution’ weight I decided that it was not working for me.

SO I stopped the fiber supplements and adopted a somewhat vegetarian eating regimen. Instead of my standard 8 oz or chicken or pork for dinner, I opted for salmon or tuna. I reduced my onion (FODMAP) consumption to about ¼ of what it was and concentrated on eating very clean for 2 weeks – no snacks, no extra carbs, clean.

I finally dropped back down to my usual weight range and I felt SO much better. All my clothes fit comfortably around the waist again and I have only recently started to snack again but very very cautiously.

It was a terrifying experience because when I see that number on the scale I had to consciously fight my panic instinct to cut calories. It is very different to understand intellectually that the weight was not fat weight but water weight and be aware that emotionally the oompa loompa sometimes can still try to hijack logic.

Moral of the story is, if you need extra fiber try natural ingredients first. If you have to go to a supplement, start slow – do NOT boom – take the full dose all at once to begin with. And only as a last resort go to a laxative.

Healthy Byte: Day 970

“Complete abstinence

is easier than

perfect moderation.”

~ Saint Augustine

Day 970 Fried Rice

Of course St. Augustine was referring to abstinence from something else entirely but its actually very applicable to my maintenance success. I am a huge advocate for moderation and I am as loyal to living the 90/10 Rule as a dog to a master holding to a piece of juicy bacon. But I think like many things in life there are no absolutes. 

The 90/10 Rule affords me the emotional and mental permission to indulge guilt free. And I have long touted to be a firm believer not to banish any food group(s) or specific food into permanent exile and to a certain extent, that remains my motto. However like superman, I do have my personal kryptonite. There is one item that I have completely, ruthlessly, and utterly unapologetic in eradicating it from my diet entirely … my frenemy … rice.

Rice to me was like the one ring to Gollum. I loved it and I hated it. I loved it because it was a meal staple for as long as I can remember. I hated it because I lacked the ability not to commit gluttony when it comes to it. A meal didn’t feel like a meal without it. It was rice with breakfast, rice with lunch, rice for dinner, rice, rice, rice!

For me, rice is very much unlike other foods which can be easily satisfied with a small sampling or a substitution. For example, if I wanted cheesecake I’d be perfectly content with having one slice from Barnes & Noble Cafe instead of an entire cake from Cheesecake Factory. Or if I was hankering for chips, I can easily be fulfilled with an individual bag stocked near the checkout rather than the family size bag from the chip section of the grocery store.

But rice … no. It lured me to lose my faculties and carelessly toss care into the winds. If there was a tub of fried rice I can probably inhale half a tub in one sitting & return to finish the rest in about 15-20 minutes. It’s was one facet of my food source that I truly felt was beyond my control. So because of this lack of inability of self restraint, I resorted to utterly eliminate it from my food repertoire multiply by infinity. It took me approximately 18 months to slowly transition away from my ‘feeling’ of a proper meal by incrementally reduce my rice consumption. From absolutely zero accountability of portions size down to ½ cup before switching over to quinoa and bidding farewell to the lovely little morsel of rice. I donated any unused rice to local food bank and even donated my rice cooker … but please don’t tell my mother. 😉

It has been almost two years since I have had any rice. And I know that may sound like a horrifying sacrifice but to be quite honest, I don’t even miss it now. I don’t miss it because I avoid it like the plague. Prolonged avoidance makes me forget more and more what the allure was. Since I no longer remember the allure, I lose my taste or craving for it. And since I’ve lost my taste or craving for it, I no longer eat it. Sound familiar? (chicken and the egg phenomena)

So now I can walk into Panda Express and stand right in front of the shiny giant cask of fried rice and not pathetically salivate at the site of it. I can order a double serving of the vegetables in lieu of without a second thought. My complete abstinence of rice has allowed me to be truly free.

So I encourage everyone to reflect and identify any possible personal kryptonite(s) which may be throwing a monkey wrench in their long term maintenance. Then I would doubly encourage to consider a complete abstinence rather than the uphill struggle striving for perfect moderation. It’s not defeat or a lack of will power; it’s the wisdom to know & to chose a different path.

ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS

Different Set of Skills Required for Maintenance

“It seems somewhat similar to love and marriage. What gets you to the altar is likely to be quite different than what keeps you married in the long-term. [And] not recognizing this transition and adapting with different practices will also get you in trouble.”

TIP OF THE WEEK

Chesse. Who doesn’t love gooey dooey melty cheese? And cheese is one of those items which can quickly add up in calories with very little effort … at least for me. In my search for a cheese dupe, I’ve come across an ingenious version of my favorite – provolone cheese. Sargento was actually the first to produce an ‘Ultra Thin’ line. It’s ingenious because it melts the same, gives comparable cheesey satisfaction but at a fraction of the calories & fat. By swapping out the cheese to my daily work lunch sandwich, I save 33 calories per sandwich, 165 calories a week. 9,240 calories a year. And again, small daily changes adds up quite nicely in the long run.

2015 9-1

Per 1 Slice Regular Slice Provolone Cheese Thin Slice

Provolone Cheese

(Store Brand) Thin Slice

Provolone Cheese

Difference per Sandwich
Calories 70 40 37 33
Total Calories from Fat 45 27 27 18
Total Fat 5 3 2.7 2.3
Saturated Fat 3 1.7 2 1 to 1.3

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