Saturday, March 6, 2010

March 6: Cheats, treats and assorted planned noshing

What is the best thing to call a meal that is off-plan? I was calling it a cheat meal, but I recently read that putting judgement on foods is not mentally very healthy. The person suggested the term "free" meal. I like that. "Treat" meal, by that definition, would also be a judgement. I also like the term "off-plan". That says it all - it is just a food you do not normally consume. Hmmm. I'll go with off-plan for now. What do you guys call the meals that are not your standard fare?

I had my off-plan meal last night. The girls and I went out for pizza. I find that Pizza Hut, despite being one of the most expensive places around, is one of the cleanest options around. I got thin crust, light on the cheese, grilled chicken and veggie pizza. It was delicious and it calmed my crazy pizza craving that I have been fighting off all week. I ate a little more than I really should have, but finished my day in the range of 1600 calories. Still a calorie deficit day! Hooray! The leftovers went right into the freezer in single serving portions for a smaller off-plan meal to combat future cravings and to deter munching on it today!

I strongly believe that an off-plan meal here and there ( no more frequently than once a week for most people) is vital to stave away feelings of deprivation. No one can change their tastes so completely that they never ever feel the urge to have a few chips, some pizza or a yummy dessert. It's important to note that off-plan does not mean unplanned. Unplanned meals are weight loss sabotage. An off-plan meal is something you work into your weekly food consumption. An unplanned meal means you caved, you did not plan ahead and you were unprepared. The unplanned meal will crop up now and again but be sure you don't let it happen too often. Remember, you are in control of your food, your food is not in control of you.

As for cravings, there are two ways to deal with them effectively. First, of course, is the off-plan meal. But what do you do if you have had your off-plan meal for the week? You move on to Option 2 - recreate the flavor in a healthy way.

Here's my new favorite food remake - Upside Down, Grilled Chicken Nachos! The next time I make them I'll take a photo to put on here!

Grilled chicken
Diced tomato, peppers, and onions
Clean salsa
A sprinkle of finely shredded all natural cheddar cheese
6-8 organic blue corn tortilla chips
Low fat plain yogurt (drained to thicken it)
On a microwave safe plate, place a serving of grilled chicken, cut into bite sized pieces. Top the chicken with veggies, salsa and cheese in that order. Microwave until ingredients are hot and cheese is melted. Crumble the tortilla chips over the top of the hot mixture and drizzle with plain yogurt if desired. Use a fork and dig in without guilt!

You can also use a lean ground meat seasoned with chili powder for your base instead of the chicken. Any healthy thing you might put on a nacho can go on this dish! Enjoy it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

March 5: Going well so far!

Well, five days into March it looks as though my plateau is starting to give way to some results. As I posted, I've been counting calories this week, as well as measuring my portions. I'm happy to report I was down one pound this morning! Woohoo!!!!

The beautiful weather has also inspired me to get out and walk with the dog, so I'm sure that is helping also. I am starting every day with some quick calisthenics - crunches and push-ups, and then getting a 20-30 minute walk in. I am horribly out of shape - going 30 minutes is pretty tough, but I will build my endurance and be speed walking for an hour in no time.

I am considering looking for a personal trainer, if I can swing it financially. I really need some advice on how to get going on a workout plan - I haven't a clue. Otherwise I need to join a place that has workout classes. I plan to decide on that next week.

For now, I have a big deadline looming for work, so I have to keep today's post brief.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mar. 4: Sugar Addiction

Lots of people make jokes about being a "chocoholic" or a "sugar junkie" but sugar addiction is real, and it's no laughing matter. Why are some people addicted to sugar? The short answer is this: refined sugar causes the same effect on the human brain as HEROIN! Sugar and heroin both cause the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes stimulation in the brain that feels positive. In animal studies, scientists have discovered that the lab rats will perform nearly any task when rewarded with dopamine. Dopamine is key in the treatment of drug addictions. That should tell you exactly how powerful sugar can be!

Before I started eating clean, I was going to the dollar store once a day. I was buying 2 of those big bags of mints that you would use to fill a candy dish, and that was my afternoon snack every day. I was consuming an unbelievable amount of sugar and calories every afternoon. I truly could not stop crunching those candies. It really bothered me if someone else ate a couple of them. I also drank about 2 liters of Diet Coke per day. I was a true sugar junkie.

Artificial sweeteners can trigger many of the same effects on your body as actual sugar. They can cause carb cravings and make your sugar addiction stronger. The body begins "searching"for the calories to process once the sweetness of the artificial sweetener is ingested. When the calories aren't there, you begin to feel hungry, craving more sugar calories to replace the absent ones.

In detoxing from sugar, you are on your own. There are no rehab facilities for sugar junkies, there is no 12 step program and no Sugar Eaters Anonymous. There are websites where you will find supportive people, but for the most part, it's a journey you must undertake on your own. Here is what worked for me.

1.) I went cold turkey from both real and artificial sugar. It took about two weeks before I no longer wanted the sweet stuff.
2.) I use only natural, unrefined sweeteners now. I use honey or sucanat (raw sugar). I use very little of it. I have a teaspoon of sucanat in the morning, split over a few cups of coffee. Any other addition of sweetening is rare for me.
3.) If I am at a special event and dessert is served and there is NO polite way of getting out of it, I generally only eat a bite or two. It tends to be satisfying and doesn't send me into a sugar overload.
4.) When I really do have cravings (usually pms time) I make some homemade treats with honey or sucanat - they don't send me spiralling out of control.

You really can set yourself free of this craving and addiction. It's tough, but a key step in weight loss.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mar.1: Toxin of the Day ~ High Fructose Corn Syrup

Has anyone seen the new commercial aimed to calm the bad press regarding high fructose corn syrup? "It's natural and it has the same calories as sugar," the woman reassures her boyfriend in a condescending tone. She's kind of like the pusher that hangs out at the fence of the school yard. "One time won't hurt you - just try it!"

So what is HFCS? It's created by causing enzymatic changes in regular corn syrup. This is done by treating corn starch with alpha-amalyze, an enzyme which breaks it down to a shorter chemical chain of sugars. A chemical called glucoamalyze, which is created by adding a fermented fungus, is then added, and then the substance receives a treatment of chromatography, which separates the remain components even further. Some HFCS has been shown to contain trace amounts of mercury from the processing.

HFCS is becoming more commonly used than sugar because it is cheaper. It also masquerades under the names glucose-sucrose, isoglucose, maize syrup or glucose-fructose syrup.

HFCS is being touted as a natural product. As our commercial's pusher says, "Silly, it's made from corn." True, it originally starts out as corn, but recently the CSPI (Center for Science int the Public Interest) has recently threatened lawsuits against companies referring to it as a natural ingredient. Their position is that the high level of processing the corn undergoes, the genetically modified enzyme that is added to separate the molecules of the corn, and the synthetic fixing agents used in this process, rules out the definition of "natural". Cadbury Schweppes voluntarily changed their labeling when threatened with this suit.

Critics of the commercial use of HFCS point out that the low cost makes the high sugar content more easily available, contributing to obesity. Some studies have said that the higher content of fructose, instead of sucrose, is more likely to trigger insulin resistance. Animal studies have proven that HFCS suppresses the sensation of fullness, causing over consumption. Over consumption, in turn, caused the rats to suffer from fatty liver disease and Type II Diabetes.

In reality the studies that say HFCS is worse than sugar are not conclusive. HFCS is, however, similar to sugar, in that it should be avoided. It carries with it the same, if not necessarily worse, health risks as sugar.

Sweeten with honey, sucanat, agave nectar, and maple syrup, and use these in moderation!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb. 28: The End of a Month of Nothing

By nothing, of course, I mean NO RESULTS. I am starting this month at square one. Okay, not quite. I lost a whopping 2 pounds over the month. Sigh. Well, I didn't gain. There you go. My positive thinking for the day!

I have to really recommit myself to my goals and think about why I am doing this! It's for my physical and mental health. It's so I can continue to be a mom to my kids. It's so I can reach physical and professional goals. It's so I can look in the mirror and not have that brief moment of horror.

This week I counted calories. I've ranged between 1100 (too low) and 1480 (just right) all week, and thus, the 3 pounds that I gained went away. I'm going to continue counting calories for the next couple of weeks, as well as measuring my food. It's way too easy for your eyeball to get wonky! So, at least 2 more weeks of re-learning the good habits.

A few people have written to me that I am way too tied up in what the scale says. I'd like to rebut that. There is no way that a woman who weighs over 190 pounds is at a point where she does not need to worry about the scale. I don't work out enough that I am "building muscle" and all of the other platitudes that go along with it. I am overweight and I need not to be. I agree if you are pretty close to a healthy body weight, then how your clothes fit is more important than what the scale says. However, check any BMI chart and I am still hovering dangerously close to the "Obese" range. This weight needs to come off. I'm not going to be (for example) a size 8-10 and still weigh 190. I am not going to be able to run a 5K without horrible pain and stress to my joints and weigh 190. I am not going to go to the beach and look great or even acceptable in a tummy baring swimsuit and weigh 190. So yes, in some cases THE SCALE MATTERS!!!

So, I'm going to wrap up this crappy month, along with the less than stellar month before it. March brings us one step closer to spring (thank goodness). I am going to be counting calories and weighing and measuring food. I am going to be limiting my cheats to one a week max. I am going to get my butt moving in a workout plan (this is the hardest thing for me!) I'm setting my goal at 7 pounds for this month. I plan to end the month at 185, come hell or high water. Whatever goes on in my life, will have to go on without me abandoning my goals. The focus is on me this month.