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Archive for the ‘food and drink’ Category

I don’t really like to watch too much TV, but sometimes on weekdays I have off I’ll cruise the channels a little bit with my morning coffee or tea until I’m fully woken up. Today I caught a show on Lifetime TV (which I usually HATE mind-you) called “Cook Yourself Thin.” As most shows on the Lifetime network that aren’t reruns of “Frasier” the show was a bit condescending, pandering and corny. But I thought the recipes were good. The basic concept is that the women who host the show go to the house of a woman who wants to lose some weight and they’ll examine some of her typical recipes, then show her ways to health it up while still making it taste good. That’s a pretty common-sense concept to those of us who’ve been doing this thing for awhile, but I can see how it’s kind of a novel thing for some people to change up what they’ve been used to doing for so many years. The particular episode I caught did a healthier quiche (and I LOVE quiche!), a grilled eggplant dish that was meant to take the place of a very fattening, deep-fried eggplant parmigiana, and a lighter version of cupcakes as well as a light version of those frou-frou coffee drinks you get at Starbucks and the like that usually have a zillion calories per serving. I could take or leave the frou-frou coffee thing as I enjoy my coffee unadulterated (I drink mine black and unsweetened), but the cupcakes looked pretty good. Something to think about for when I make my contribution to take to our family holiday gatherings this year. It had about a third of the calories of a traditional cupcake recipe and looked pretty tasty…doesn’t mean you can eat 10 cupcakes, but still not a total calorie disaster by comparison to the “fully loaded” version.

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I’ve always had quite the sweet tooth, but the kinds of desserts I appreciate more are the kind that a good friend described recently to be “mostly healthy, but with a few chocolate chips on top.” I have to agree. I tend to actually enjoy fruit-based confections more than just straight-up sugar-bombs. Yesterday I was hanging out at a cafe’ where a friend of mine works, and he was baking brownies. He tried to get me to eat what amounted to about half a cup of brownie batter. I told him I couldn’t do it, so he brought me out an apple slice with just a tiny amount (I’d say a teaspoon maybe) of the batter spread on it…that’s more like it! It was tasty, and thoughtful 🙂 It was about time for one of my 3 small snacks I allow myself daily, so I charted it in my book as a snack. So I can still have a little bit of chocolate and stay On Program.

Another dessert I’d love to experiment with making would be a whole-grain strawberry shortcake. The “shortcake” of course being a healthed-up version of the “real deal” and the strawberries being left alone instead of sweetened with sugar…cause if you get good strawberries you don’t need the sugar! And instead of whipped cream, some Greek yogurt…mmmmmmm.

cross-posted on my other blog…just thought it had a place over here too 🙂

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Amy Tracks Her Progress is my new blog. It’s more or less an online archive/back-up of my spankin’ new food/exercise journaling/progress tracking program I designed for myself by tweaking a food/exercise journal template I found on The Balanced Weight Management site . Go to my new blog and you’ll learn of how I tailored my new journaling system to work just for me (although it may help others as well). I’ll be keeping a Weekly Assessment page (which is also in spreadsheet form on my PC), as well as my journal entries (which are also saved as Word documents on my PC). It will differ from this blog in the sense that it’ll focus mainly on my personal weight tracking and thoughts regarding weight, whereas this blog’s topics have strayed all over the place (not that there’s anything wrong w/ that).

Also, I have a page on there with pics of myself at various stages of weight gain and loss since 2001. I’ve blocked out my face, as a personal safety and privacy measure (I only show un-masked photos on more “private” venues online where only people I know can see them), but it gives a bit of a visual representation of my battle of the bulge. It also helps me, because sometimes the number on the scale isn’t always the whole story.

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I recently had a discussion with someone who has tried a few times to get into an exercise routine/healthy eating pattern, and always got impatient as far as seeing results. This person also maintained that they never enjoyed it, always felt sore no matter what, and it always felt like a boring chore to them. This person also has a large appetite and gets hungry often, and tends to overeat. This person is not terribly overweight, but very out of shape.

Results don’t come overnight, and sometimes it can be several months before a person starts to see the changes in their body. I think others often notice before the individual does. When you see yourself in the mirror every single day, it can be hard to realize that your body is indeed changing. I for one never thought I’d be dysmorphic about my own body, but for months after I first started I saw the same ole’ fatty in the mirror when other people were noticing visible changes in my physiology. Even recently people are noticing things before I do (namely the fact that I’m starting to have defined hips, etc. and becoming more height-weight proportional).

I asked this person what they did, if they stretched, etc. I came to the conclusion based on their answers that they had thrown themselves into a very rigorous and intense routine too fast, that they weren’t stretching or doing anything else to help sore muscles (hot baths, ice, etc.), and choosing activities that they found inherently boring. This person also hates standing up for long periods of time and maintains that they always get sore no matter what. I had a counter-argument for every excuse this person threw at me, and the conversation got frustrating for both of us so we decided to change the subject. But I ended my points with this person by saying that there has got to be a way for them to eventually find being active enjoyable. It will help this person’s longevity, give them more energy every day, and be beneficial in a huge number of ways. To this person’s credit, they get frustrated with themselves because they know the health benefits of being active, but they feel so helpless about actually applying it to themselves.

So I guess the point of this was to say that people who are new to exercise and out of shape need to ease into a routine. Walking is a great way to start…it’s the first physical exercise most of us learned how to do as toddlers. It can start out slow and go fast. I still do it a lot, I don’t do too much running because of some leg pain I tend to get, but you can burn as many calories power-walking if you do it fast enough, without near the impact of running. Furthermore, stretching is essential. There are a ton of websites out there that can show through pictures and tell you how to properly stretch all your major muscle groups. It’s best to have a bit of a warm-up, stretch, then work out, take a stretch break in the middle (I notice a huge difference when I don’t do this), then cool down and stretch again after the workout. Once the body adapts to regular, mild physical activity, kick it up a notch gradually until you’re used to more strenuous activity.

Exercise is important, but if your diet is craptastic, it’s not going to give you enough health benefits. Some people’s taste buds are so corrupted by junk food that it’s easy to find the taste of healthy stuff “bland” at first because your taste buds are so used to being bombarded by way too much sugar, salt, and trans fats. I highly suggest for people who are having dietary challenges that are blocking them from weight-loss, health improvement, or both to read a great book called If It’s Not Food, Don’t Eat It: The No-Nonsense Guide to an Eating-for-health Lifestyle by Kelly Hayford, a clinical nutritionist. Hayford puts it all forth in a very non-threatening and straightforward way. One thing I respect about it is that she doesn’t preach any dogmatic diet-style (veganism or raw foodism for example) but more discusses the benefits of switching to mostly real, whole foods as opposed to processed stuff. She also discusses how to handle your lifestyle change around family and friends, and the psychological aspects of such a diet change. She has stories of real people and the dramatic, personal changes that happened for them from changing their diet.

To maintain a healthy body weight and good health in general, it is absolutely essential that a person is both physically active AND eats right. The end.

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Oh, my. Public transportation in a small city can lend so many opportunities to look at your own life and go, “wow, I ain’t got it so bad!” These are seriously the people I look at and think, “Gawd, no matter what happens, I’m not going to let that happen to me!”

I’ve been fighting a particularly nasty case of bronchitis that antibiotics alone aren’t going to fix. Needless to say, I was sent home from work. I’m not used to using the public transportation during that part of the day. All the saddest, most pathetic people ride at that time of day because they don’t have jobs (hey, I’m not hating, just stating the obvious). So I was on the bus home, not feeling well, just wanting to come home and transition into pajamaland and turn on the humidifier and maybe start a movie. An obviously drunk man boards the bus holding a box. He comes to the back where I’m sitting (oh, boy), and announces to everyone that he found this chocolate covered pumpkin pie in the dumpster and wants to share it with everyone! How special! Now, I’ve eaten food that was past-date before, and I’m not a snob about dumpster diving, but that’s only the case if I’m the one who found said food. That way I can gauge whether or not it’s safe to consume, and whether or not it’s something I’d even want. For instance, a local bagel shop throws away a metric ton of bagels every day. The bagels are contained in paper bags inside of a trash bag, meaning there is insulation between the bagels and the outside world. But for all I knew, this pie could have been just chucked into the dumpster on top of decaying, rotting trash with no protection of a trash bag.

I usually don’t make eye contact with too many people on the bus, since the lot of them are crazy and a little on the creepy side. But this guy was really persistent in that everyone on the bus eat some of this damned pie (until the driver noticed, of course, and asked him to put it away since eating on the bus is against the rules). When I politely said, “no thank you,” that wasn’t good enough. He had to keep persisting. Ugh, leave me alone creepy. I just let loose with the hacking up of my lungs and he finally backed off. The guy next to him who was equally crazy was really into it and ate like 5 pieces of the stuff, and kept going on about how he exercises regularly so he can eat as much as he wants. No, he wasn’t fat. Just crazy.

Is there a point to this post? Not really. I’ve been home for a couple of hours now and am enjoying a relaxed, pajamaed evening – it was nice to be sent home after only working one hour. I got someone to cover the first half of my shift tomorrow at work, as well (meaning yes, I still have to go in but for not as long as I would have, which makes a huge difference). I guess what I wanted to get into was the fact that people will eat stuff just because it’s there, and feel a need to push it on everyone around them. Now the guy on the bus today was one of those “middle of the day” drunks, and also particularly unintelligent and obviously, “the lights are on but nobody’s home” in regards to his psyche. But the basic idea remains valid. Why do people feel the need to eat a food just because it’s there? And why is it when others don’t want to share the food they have to keep pushing? Sometimes people just aren’t that hungry. I’ll tell you, when you’re hacking up things that look like they might grow legs and crawl away and your nasal passages are completely blocked, and you have a distinct sense of fatigue, and feel a bit delirious, your appetite is not usually the healthiest. That being said, I made myself some soup and a sandwich for dinner, but that was after having zero appetite most of the day.

My tomato soup is easy and yummy, and to me is way better than that crap in a can. Also, it’s dairy free and has none of the crazy additives that canned soups have. That being said, the ingredients do come from cans, ironically enough. But much purer.

1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 large cans of tomato sauce or puree
1/4 cup olive oil
spices and salt to taste

That’s it. Seriously. Some people like to put milk in it, but that stuff doesn’t usually agree with me, and since I’m sick I’m avoiding dairy (mucus producing). Some people don’t like the chunky tomatoes, but I do. If you don’t, just use more tomato sauce/puree. It’s damn tasty!

Heat it up in a sauce pan for an amount of time you deem appropriate (I let it go til it’s piping hot). I make fake-cheese sandwiches (the old comfort staple of grilled cheese and tomato soup). I recommend Lisanatti’s Almond cheese, the best fake cheese ever. No, I’m not a vegan, but dairy gives me a lot of problems, especially if I’m sick. My “grilled” cheese sandwiches I actually do in the toaster oven. I spread a tiny bit of softened butter (I use real butter cause margarine has soy and I’m allergic to soy) on the outside of the bread to give it that crisp, maybe a teaspoon or so on each side. Way healthier than the traditional, fried version. Melt the cheese on the bread in the over, and viola, healthy “grilled” cheese.

Another thing I thought of just now. If you’re sick, you shouldn’t eat junk food. You need to feed your body with the most nutritionally dense food you can so it can be extra strong to fight whatever microbe it’s trying to get rid of. Making it labor on empty calorie garbage only hinders the healing process.

So when my brain isn’t so foggy from sick, perhaps I can elaborate more on the subject of why people can’t take, “no thank you, I’m not hungry,” as an acceptable answer when they’re being offered food they don’t want.

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“I’ll eat this meat, until my innie turns into an outie.”

I tell you if a woman made that same declaration on a commercial for a fast food place, it would not go over nearly as well. The sentiment that exercise, or watching what you eat, is somehow for women only is very annoying. And some guys are just dumb enough to buy into it.

This commercial is 2 years old, yes, but its message is still kind of being said to guys. “If you want to be manly, you should get yourself one of them triple bypasses!” And it implies that if a guy actually enjoys things like salad, quiche, or tofu, that he’s a little girly man.

Men who subsist on fast food have an odor to them. Like a rank, spoiled milk kind of odor. Combined with that sweaty ball smell that they tend to get (sorry boys, you do, this is why you should always wash before any intimate encounters), it’s really not very appealing. A guy who eats right has a way better smell than a guy who eats like “a man.” Also, not to get nasty, but I would really rather not taste the spunk of some guy who eats a bunch of fast food. Diet does have a lot to do with semen taste and the pleasantness thereof. If you like to eat like this, just please be aware that most ladies will not want to go South knowing what your diet is like…

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I hate it when people try a certain type of approach to diet, then decide that since it worked for them it must ultimately work for others and then they get all dogmatic about it. Who’s to say one style of eating is right for everyone?

There are so many approaches out there: South Beach, the Schwarzbein Principles, the Paleolithic diet, Atkins, the Zone, and the list goes on and one. But here’s my take on it: Why not just eat HUMAN FOOD? Why sink your money into books and other implements of a prescribed program (which they claim you have to buy in order to get the benefits) when you could just eat good, plain, whole foods?

To me, this means eating good, unadulterated fats (non-hydrogenated) from mostly plant sources, complex carbs, no added sugar, lean protein, and lots of veggies and fruits. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, avoid white-flour based carbs, and reserve sweets for special occasions. Get your fats mainly from things like olive oil, avocados, flax seeds, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil (refined coconut oil is hydrogenated – don’t eat it!), hemp seeds (so rich in omegas), fatty fish like salmon, nuts, etc.

I stopped eating soy and my hypothyroidism disappeared, by the way. Anecdotal evidence FTW! I don’t think soy is all that great for us.

Lately I have been indulging in too many refined carbs, and I can definitely feel it. For one, you lose the fiber and the nutrition. Two, it sends your body into sugar-crash mode. I always feel more fatigued and less “peppy” when I eat these things. But at the same time, I know for the rest of my life I’ll encounter them. It’s going to be my willpower’s strength that will determine how much I indulge. I’m attending a birthday party tonight with desserts involved. I made homemade, from-scratch chocolate chip cookies to take. I plan on eating a good dinner beforehand so I don’t arrive hungry, but I’ve decided to take one bite of the main desserts. Luckily the girls will also be providing fruit salad.

After tonight, I plan on cutting down my sugar intake drastically. I always allow myself a weekly “sweet treat” usually on the weekend, but lately I’m finding that I go a little too overboard with that, so I’m going to modify my allowance and make that “sweet treat” some unsweetened, dried fruit. I love dried fruit, especially mangoes! And we sell them at work, so I can buy a few of the dried mango slices in bulk, and have that be my treat instead. I’m also going to be mindful of avoiding things with high fructose corn syrup. It sucks because HFCS is added to so many things, even things like bread! Luckily I know how to bake my own 🙂 Also I find the less wheat I eat the better I feel anyway. When I’m eating mostly cooked whole grains like rice or quinoa, I feel like those carbs “work” for me better than wheat (I think the gluten is the problem).

People might laugh at me for this, but one thing that’s worked for me in the past with avoiding too many sweets is pretending that the cookies or whatnot have been poisoned and if I eat them, it’ll lead to my demise. This is a partial truth, of course, because you pay for eating too many sugary things with your health.

I don’t want to be super dogmatic, but at the same time I think sugar is the biggest problem for me. It’s a trigger, too. If I eat too much sugar it sends me into binge eating mode. It’s crazy. I’ve got to pretty much all but give it up I feel.

A dessert buffet to someone like me is like handing an alcoholic a whole fifth of Jack Daniels and saying, “here, just have one shot of this, and save the rest for later!” Ugh.

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