And Now Week 6

Wow this Snatched journey has whizzed past. I am actually really sad for it to be ending. I’ve decided to stick with my plan and do 2 classes/week at Mark Fisher while keeping up 2 days a week at Blink. It’s slightly less than the 5 days I’m doing now but I am fairly certain it’s sustainable.

What I’m more concerned about is how nutrition factors in. We’ve been doing 2 week check-ins with Mark and he hasn’t adjusted any of my macro-nutrients even though I’m experiencing MINIMAL weight loss (I’m losing inches though!). So I’m not sure when it STOPS working what I do… Presumably if I’m still a member at Mark Fisher Fitness I can ask him for advice — he prides himself on being open/available to all his ninjas.

Last class was fun! We bought some ninja masks and all wore black and it was a silly good time. It kind of turned into a 50 Shades of Grey thing but … what doesn’t? This is our class picture and I LOVE them. I will really miss these silly people after next week. ALSO tragically — I am missing our last class due to a handbell festival. So I’m trying to figure out nice ways to say goodbye to these guys on Thursday.

Karen came over and we cooked a bunch this weekend as always. I am hoping to try and keep up some of this recipe planning for the time to come as it’s been infinitely helpful to me.

We made

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Everything was really tasty and I’m glad to have stuff for the week as always. This will be a busy week. I am thinking maybe I should’ve roasted a big bag of vegetable to go with lunch though as I don’t have any greens today. But so goes. Might be able to work that out tonight.

For the two weeks after snatched I was thinking about participating in Buzzfeed’s Clean Eating Challenge. I think I’d beef up the protein portions a little but it looks fun/easy enough to follow. I might see if Randall will do it with me. (Or any of you? Any takers??)

I am a little concerned I’m not going to get my 5th workout in this week because the bell festival is taking up my entire Saturday and Sunday. I may see if I can get an appointment Saturday evening because I think that’s my only shot so far.

Anyway — the end of snatched nears  my anxiety goes up. I think that’s normal. I don’t want to lose the momentum that I’ve worked really hard to maintain! There is a “Life after Snatched” workshop that I will attend so that’s good. And I’m sure Mark will have good tips on continuing to live your best life after snatched.

I’ve also really enjoyed having this blog space so thank you all for your encouragement and listening! I’ve been really moved by my friends who have popped up to say they’re reading and offer their own thoughts and feelings on my journey and theirs! Keep on doing everything in your control to live your best life! You can do it!

Spiralizer!

So I’m starting a boot camp next week and they suggest a nutrition plan which basically is high (HIGH) protein and lowish fat. I’m trying really hard to cook recipes for myself that fit this plan. Most of what I’m looking at is double portions from skinnytaste.com which is definitely the best low fat cooking blog — hands down. A few more things to know about me: I love pasta. I love carbs. While this new diet doesn’t put much restriction on carbs they really want you to eat for the protein first and then fill it out with whatever you’d like. However a majority of your calories will end up going to protein goals. On SkinnyTaste she’s frequently using a Spiralizer which makes really awesome looking zucchini noodles or “Zoodles” and carrot salads.

After an expensive impulse driven ride through amazon.com I had a nice spiralizer sitting on my counter.

And MAN did I love it. It was easy to use — fairly intuitive after you read the little pamphlet on what each of the blades do. It cleans easy, stores relatively well and makes some DAMN good Zoodles. I tried this yesterday as my first project: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2014/04/zucchini-noodles-zoodles-with-lemon.html

My dinner!

The recipe was good and very simple — we doubled it — the only qualm we had was that it was a little too lemony. We also forgot the garlic — oops! My fiance also felt it was not quite filling enough but he’s also a human garbage disposal and I thought it was plenty filling. Anyway — if you’re trying to do low carb but crave a good pasta sauce or whatever I think Zoodles are for you. I used the sprializer and then sauteed the strands for about 2-3 minutes — you don’t want it too soggy but I actually really don’t like raw zucchini — so somewhere in between was good for me. And I can imagine using this ALL the time. It cooks up SO quick (maybe faster than a box of pasta including all the prep?) and it’s actually sort of fun and really quite delicious.

I highly recommend getting one of these guys for only $35 dollars (even qualifies for free shipping!) here on Amazon!

Look how pretty!

Why do SMART people fall for DUMB scams?

1) I am going to admit to you here that I would love to lose 4lbs a week without adjusting diet or exercise.

2) I also know this is not going to happen for me.

3) I also may click some ad promising 1) even though I know 2) to be true.

WHY?

New York Magazine published a really interesting article for why this may be. I tend to do a lot of reading/research on food and diet and so Google and Facebook — while monitoring my web usage — constantly target me with ads using some random clip from Doctors or Dr. Oz or HOW DID JESSICA SIMPSON LOSE 10lbs OVERNIGHT? The more I’m exposed to these scammy articles the more it gets into my head and the more I want to click. How DID she do that? (Spoiler: She didn’t. She probably killed it on Weight Watchers with dieticians and trainers.) ImageAlso perhaps the more I’m invested in an outcome of weight loss the more I want to believe that whatever miracle lotion will actually rid my body of cellulite.

The article presents a few ways of reviewing weight loss plans to make sure your expectations are in check when potentially facing a scam. It also links to a Bureau of Consumer Protection article that really clearly lays out some things to avoid as well (mostly for advertisers but still) and is a pretty short but interesting read.

What I want to add is a terribly over-simplified yet truthful article from Business Insider. The advice they have is simple: the way to lose weight is to eat real food. And while weight loss certainly is more complicated than that, I found that in my two week pullback I lost weight and did not worry too much about calories or fat grams or portions. Instead I ate real food that fill you naturally and managed to shed a few pounds. Now maintaining that is the issue (always, right?) but the idea rings true. Whatever fad diet rages, if you eat your vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats — you’ll lose weight no matter what you call it.

Imageimage from: http://www.eagle-crest.com/blog/?ai1ec_event=redmond-farmers-market&instance_id=

Review: Fresh Routes

A few years ago a couple friends of mine started a company called Fresh Routes. Their goal was to bring home-cooking that fit into busy New Yorker lifestyles. They launched a home delivery service after winning the 2012 Food for Health Business Plan Competition at Mt. Sinai Hospital. And TODAY they are opening their first store front in the Union Square Subway Station. The basic concept is fresh, locally sourced dinner kits. They give you all the materials you’d need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. They have relationships with local vendors such as Satur Farms and Hot Bread Kitchen.

I couldn’t help but want to try this out. I love cooking at home but frequently get home late and am stuck frying an egg for the zillionth time. Or come home to an empty fridge and end up ordering on Seamless because I can’t figure out what else to do. Though the Union Square subway station is a little out of the way I went down on Tuesday evening with my fiance to see how it was.

First the storefront was small but lovely. You have to actually be IN the station to get it but I feel like they’re targeting the commuter crowd so this is quite strategic. They had Thai Coconut Chicken with Rice Noodles for $33.79, Berbere Spiced Beef with Cremini Mushrooms for $35.79 and Soho Rice Bowl with Avocado Relish for $32.49. All of these are meant to serve 4 people. photo 1(1)

The friendly salesperson recommended the Thai Chicken with Rice Noodles so we went with that. The packaging was very cute from the outside and everyone behind the counter was really friendly and eager to help us. They had dessert and side add-ons but we stuck with the main course.

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We got on the subway and made it home pretty quickly. I wish I’d taken a picture of the inside of the box because it was all very neatly packed and labeled. There was also a very detailed one page instruction sheet that seemed foolproof to me.   photo 3(1)

Also I live with a hungry man. His appetite has wowed my entire family. So when something advertises “serves 4” I really think it means serves two plus maybe a small portion left over for lunch. But when I saw how full the box was — complete with four large chicken breasts, a can of coconut milk, two squares of rice noodles — I knew we had WAY more than enough. There was a little prep needed before we got started — we sliced the chicken breast, washed and chopped the cilantro, and cut the ends off of the snap peas. Nothing too labor intensive but took a bit of time. As promised though, the whole dish cooked up pretty quickly once everything was prepped. At one point my fiance said “It’s like we’re cooking real Thai food!” and I think that’s a testament to how good and authentic the recipe seemed.

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I’d say including prep it probably took the two of us close to exactly 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. And it was tasty. They had red pepper flakes on the side that you could add if you like heat (which we do) and that was a nice touch. We each had second rounds of food and still had enough for two healthy lunch portions for the next day.

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As you can see — I ate it up!

photo(5)All in all I think this was a great idea. And if you think about what it would cost to go out and buy all this local food and meat — I think it’s a good price for a four person meal — coming in at under 9 dollars a person. I’m excited to see how the company will change and grow and what other meals and options they’ll present to people. For example we had WAYYYY too much cilantro as garnish. Which is not to say I’m unhappy to have extra — I just think it’s something they’ll end up addressing. I know we would’ve liked a little more help with the prep (maybe slice/marinate the breast before we got to it) but that’s just because we are lazy and again — it only took us 30 minutes. I also think it’s good for people who are not used to cooking to try their hand at it in a really guided and relatively fool proof way.

So for all you New Yorkers checking out this blog, bottom line is we were very happy, it was cost efficient, instructions were clear, portions were generous, food tasted fresh and good.

Also you should know I was not in any way shape or form compensated for this post. Fresh Routes does not even know I’m writing it! If you check it out (and try any of the other dishes!) I’d love to hear about your experience.

Little Reminders

I just got back from my college reunion this weekend. I was close to my all time highest weight by the time I graduated college and it was no mystery to me how that happened. In fact, aside from seeing Alex and other friends, the thing I was most excited about was the FOOD. There is a Mexican place that has insanely cheap and strong margaritas and nachos with a flat fee for unlimited toppings. There’s a bar with $3 well drinks and beers, the best tater tots you’ll ever have and amazing burgers. There is a place that has pancakes that are slowly cooked and puff up about half an inch before it gets to you.

And believe you, I ate all of this. I tried to keep moderation in mind. Desperately. I was fairly successful but came home to an expected weight gain.

I follow New York Times Well and I love it and of course, the first feed I open is cautioning that women with Type 2 Diabetes are more likely to have heart disease than their male counterparts. I am someone who sometimes struggles with high levels of A1C which is a predictor in diabetes. It has gotten better with weight loss but I am still on the higher end of normal. And I had to reflect back on my weekend and ask myself if I had to indulge as much as I did. Is it worth it in the end?

I need to start learning how to ask myself these questions in the moment. I am going back to the diet I outlined in my last post because that diet steers you towards foods that have a low glycemic index which basically means they don’t spike your blood sugar, making it a healthier diet for most people and especially those who are predisposed to diabetes.

I will leave you with a photo of Alex and I being silly at a thrift shop. She bought those glasses because all is right with the world.

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Cleaning Fruits and Veggies with Vinegar

I just saw this really great thing on Pinterest about how plain old white vinegar is a great rinse for cleaning fruits and veggies. I figured I would do a little research to see how effective it really is.

Photo from Flickr user Jason Popesku

Photo from Flickr user Jason Popesku

I had always thought that just rinsing things in the sink was fine, so why the extra step? According to the CDC, produce is actually the biggest source of foodborne illness outbreaks. Fresh produce has a lot of opportunities for contamination during its long journey to your plate from contaminants in the soil and water, to unhygienic handling during harvest, transit, and stocking. By the time that apple makes it home with you, it has probably already been handled by several people. 

Contribution of Different Food Commodities (Categories) to Estimated Domestically-Acquired Illnesses and Deaths, 1998-2008

Contribution of Different Food Commodities (Categories) to Estimated Domestically-Acquired Illnesses and Deaths, 1998-2008

So, does a vinegar solution really do anything to help clean produce? A 2003 study from the Journal of Food Protection showed that a vinegar wash of 10% vinegar reduced the numbers of bacteria present on strawberries by about 90%, and reduced the numbers of viruses by 95%. They also tested products that are sold as veggie washes and found that plain old vinegar was often more effective.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/attribution-image.html#foodborne-illnesses

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12597475

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm256215.htm

 

Healthy Restart Day 1

I’m going to give you a brief background on me and my weight/healthiness struggles. I’m sure this will come up again but briefly, I was a pretty active child, became fairly unhappy in middle school and then proceeded to gain about 10lbs a year until I was 22 years old. I’ve tried various diets (like most people who struggle with weight) but finally I bucked down, saw a nutritionist, adopted a low fat, moderate carbohydrate diet and lost 70lbs. I started that journey around October of 2010. I was successfully maintaining that for a while but the past two years my weight has slowly but surely crept up on me and now I’m about 15lbs over where I was.

This is not meant to be a diet blog but this restart diet is meant to counteract unhealthy choices I’ve made and in particular — my addiction to sugar. I have a lot of life events coming up. I’m going to my college reunion with Alex in a couple of weeks. I am getting married in October. I am going on my honeymoon in December. And, more importantly, I am not feeling that great in my body. So for the next two weeks I’m going to do a “restart” if you will and try to chronicle my progress here. This is not just a weight loss attempt but more at getting my body back into a healthy habit after a particularly long and cold winter.

I also would love some people to check in with so — let me know if you want to join me! I am going to take a break from calorie counting and just try and listen to the cues in my body. I am going to put my scale in the closet and only check it in two weeks. I’m a compulsive weigh-er and I’m trying to break that bad habit as well.

Here are the rules:

  • Only whole grains
  • Only fat free dairy
  • Nothing with added sugar
  • All the whole fruits and vegetables I want. Limit starchy ones like potatoes.
  • Lean proteins — 99% lean beef/turkey; chicken breasts; tofu; seafood; beans; lentils; eggs
  • Brothy soups (based in chicken or vegetable and/or tomato)
  • 6-8 cups of water a day
  • Limit caffeine (I am going to try and stick to one a day — either coffee with skim milk or skim lattes)
  • Limit fat with the exception of a tiny amount of healthy fats — here’s to you avocados and olive oil
  • Nothing fried unless doing it at home with cooking spray
  • No juice or dried fruit or soda
  • No alcohol
  • No nuts

And that’s basically my plan right now. I probably should have started later as I desperately needed to go grocery shopping but I made do with what I had on hand. I went shopping this weekend and will try and come up with inventive meals within these parameters.

Breakfast

I bought these “Gator Egg” Avocados that come in what looks like a large egg carton.

GatorEggs

They’re marketed as “single serve” avocados. I’ve been really into avocado toast lately so I mashed one up, added a little coarse sea salt and pepper and spread it onto a Light Multigrain English Muffin. I also stopped by Starbucks and got a tall non fat latte that I drank when I got to work.

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Snack

I am a big snacker. At around 12pm I had a grapefruit — I peel and eat mine like an orange. Is that weird?

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Lunch

This is where I wish I had more groceries. All I could whip up that fit the bill was this. Three “think thin” brown rice cakes, 1 cup of fat free cottage cheese and a gala apple. I hope to get more inventive with this in the future.

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Snack

Yes, again. I have some 94% fat free single serve popcorn in my desk at all times and I popped that up in the company microwave. I smell up the place but it’s delicious. I ate it before I photographed it but you get the idea.

Dinner

My fiance and I went out to dinner to Schnippers before we saw Captain America 2 (which was actually really fun). I ordered their Asian Mish Mosh without the croutons or crispy noodles. I added Southwestern chicken to the top and got their low fat balsamic on the side. There was no fat free option but I tend to use dressing sparingly anyway so this counted toward my “healthy fat” quotient.

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I plan to post a few more complete days of this restart diet over the next few weeks. I did a lot of grocery shopping this weekend and am well stocked to eat food that’s slightly more exciting than cottage cheese.

Alex is going to post soon about the science of sugar addiction soon! So look for that.