Friday, August 20, 2010

Aug 20: Technical Difficulties

My computer is in the shop (thankfully under warranty!).

Technical Difficulties.
Please stand by.

I'll be back next week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aug 19 ~ Starting Over

I have a proclamation.  It's about what I feel is the toughest, yet most important part of both weight loss and maintenance.


Nobody is perfect, and yet we all expect ourselves to be.  And yet if you look at the diet of Jillian Michaels, Tosca Reno, Jamie Eason, heck, pick your favorite buff celebrity, I bet they all have meals they wish they could undo.  If I talked to one of them and they said otherwise, I just flat out wouldn't believe them.

The difference between us and them?  They shake it off and move on.  They start over with the very next meal or snack.  They wake up with a clean slate in the morning and start over with a great breakfast.

But me, well, sometimes, I slip into the, "I've already screwed up today so what does it matter" pit.  Some of you probably do it too.  There's also the "I'm on vacation pit", the "This will cheer me up" pit and the "I give up" pit.

Today, I'm watching my best friend's little girls and I slipped into the "There's nothing else to eat" pit.  For breakfast, despite the perfectly presentable banana sitting on the counter, I had Skippy peanut butter on Ritz crackers with a few Chewy Chips Ahoy on the side.  What could I do, there was nothing else to eat.

So that means for lunch I should polish off the cookies and maybe make a grilled cheese on white bread, right?  NO.  I'm going to "start over."  I'm going to eat that banana and pilfer through the fridge and find something healthy like I should have done this morning.  I'm not going to let a pile of sugar and carbs rule the rest of my day.

All too often, a holiday, a rotten day or a special occasion comes along.  It's okay to give yourself permission to go off plan at those times.  But then, you simply start over.  Your next meal should be what you would normally eat.  Don't go all "monk" on yourself and eat crusts and drink water for three days, perhaps self-flagellating between meals. Go back on your plan and eat as you normally would, getting in your carbs, healthy fats and protein.

Don't worry about starting over.  Don't see it as a sign of failure - see it as a sign of success that you are strong enough to do that.  Start over every day if you have to, more than once a day if that is necessary. Just get back in the saddle and one of these days, you will arrive at your destination!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aug. 18: Toxin Review ~ Trisodium Phosphate

I procrastinate, but I do finally get things done.  A while back, I told you I was unhappy with the research I had used for my "Toxin of the Day" series.  I learned after writing the series that animal studies were not always applicable in humans, and I promised to do more research and rewrite those posts.  At long last, let's get started.


Consider preservatives for a moment. How do you think they preserve food? They preserve food by making it inhospitable to mold and bacteria. Basically, most of them are nothing but minute doses of pesticides. If they are toxic to bacteria, a living organism, how do you think that they affect our bodies?

I'll preface this by saying, I'm not a scientist.  I'm a writer.  I research things and draw conclusions.  I'm finding information from what I believe are trust-worthy sources and providing this information to you, along with my own opinions.

Many people walk around feeling sick and exhausted all of the time. There are diseases that are extremely hard to diagnose, like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, that never used to exist.  I believe this is because of the constant influx of toxins and pesticides we are voluntarily consuming.  The point of this series is not to say, "Never eat this food again."  It's simply to make you aware of what you are putting into your body, and even more importantly, the bodies of your children.

Today's lucky winner is Trisodium Phosphate. We're going to dissect it, see where it comes from, what else it is used for and figure out the potential effects of this on our bodies. 

Sodium phosphates are used as an emulsifier - that means they blend foods that would not normally stay blended. You know when you make something from scratch and you mix it, then leave it on the counter for a while?  When you come back, the ingredients have separated.  Sodium phosphates are added to keep that separation from occurring.  They are commonly found in processed cheeses, processed meats, and canned soups. It can also be used as a leavening agent in batter or commercial cakes.  It's in Cheerios, too, which every mom in North American feeds their little ones.

But here's the scary part.  Trisodium Phosphate is used for a lot of other things, and none of it sounds appetizing.
The primary use for this chemical is in cleaning products. Particularly, it is the active ingredient in many toilet bowl cleaners. I actually have one in my bathroom that contains this product.  This is what the warning label says:


The Clean Water Act has taken steps to limit use of this product in cleaning supplies because of the damage it causes to the environment. They have great ecological concerns about this chemical being introduced into our water supply.

Sodium phosphate, tribasic is designated as a hazardous substance under section 311(b)(2)(A) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and further regulated by the Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977 and 1978. These regulations apply to discharges of this substance. This designation includes any isomers and hydrates, as well as any solutions and mixtures containing this substance.
[40 CFR 116.4 (USEPA); U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

The FDA, however, still deems Trisodium Phosphate safe to eat.  The phrase used by the FDA is "allowable tolerances", meaning that in certain amounts, this caustic substance is unlikely to cause harm. 

What one must consider, though, is in a a day full of a diet of processed food, is it possible, even likely, that you will consume more than the "allowable tolerances"?  Do you even want to consume food that has "allowable tolerances"?
Another favorite reference of mine with these toxins is the Material Data Safety Sheet.  Keep in mind, this is an industrial reference guide referring to contact with the pure unadulterated substance, but the warnings about the pure substance are food for thought.

This is what the MSDS has to say about Trisodium Phosphate:

Trisodium Phosphate

3. Hazards Identification

Emergency Overview



Potential Health Effects
Inhalation: Tri Sodium Phosphate causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath. Behaves as a moderately strong alkali; intense exposure may result in the destruction of mucous membranes. May cause asthmatic bronchitis, chemical pneumonitis, or pulmonary edema.

Ingestion: Trisodium Phosphate causes irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. May cause mild burning of mouth, throat, and stomach. Its alkaline nature may injure the esophagus and digestive tract. Aqueous, highly alkaline solutions may produce caustic burns.
Skin Contact: Tri Sodium Phosphate causes irritation to skin. Symptoms include redness, itching, and pain. Extent of damage depends on duration of contact. More serious effects may occur if the skin is moist. Aqueous, highly alkaline solutions may produce caustic burns.
Eye Contact: Trisodium Phosphate causes irritation to eyes, may be severe with possible corneal damage. Aqueous, highly alkaline solutions may produce caustic burns.
Chronic Exposure: Repeated exposure of Trisodium Phosphate may cause symptoms similar to those listed for acute effects. May cause permanent tissue damage to the skin and eyes.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: No information found.

4. First Aid Measures

Inhalation: Remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention.

Ingestion: Do NOT induce vomiting. Give large amounts of water. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Get medical attention.

Skin Contact: Immediately flush skin with plenty of soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Remove contaminated clothing and shoes. Get medical attention. Wash clothing before reuse. Thoroughly clean shoes before reuse.

Eye Contact: Immediately flush eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes, lifting lower and upper eyelids occasionally. Get medical attention immediately.

I know, that's kind of long and boring and most of you didn't even read it.  That's okay.

I did not find any information on long-term physical effects of consumption of this product.  Maybe there aren't any.  However, the information regarding the chemical itself is enough to make me plan to avoid Trisodium Phosphate.

Eat this if you want to.  The FDA says it's "generally recognized as safe" in certain amounts.  But if you choose to consume this chemical and feed it to your kids, at least you are doing so with your eyes open.

Know what you're eating!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aug. 17: Random Bloggishness

Above is the lunch I packed for work yesterday.  Clockwise from left, broccoli/cauliflower salad w/ diced chicken breast, Kashi cereal and raisins, yogurt with protein powder, strawberries and blueberries.  I always take enough food that I have at least a small snack for every break, otherwise I tend to hit the evil vending machines.

Today, I'm without a specific topic.  I'm just randomly writing.

Money issues continue to haunt me.  Yesterday brought with it a surprise cheque - a tax rebate.  Unfortunately it also brought a shut-off notice for the gas bill that politely requests 3 times the amount of that cheque.  It seems like there is a financial drama on nearly a daily basis.  The whole thing is really getting old.  It's not because I spend money frivolously.  It's simply because I don't make enough to pay my bills, and I got way way behind when I was unemployed. 

I've discovered that under-employment is just as bad as unemployment.  It's a little more money, but I have to spend more money too: gas for the car, childcare - it just isn't working out in a way that allows me to break even.  I'm looking for another job - I apply for jobs every single day.  I'm trying to sell the house, which will get rid of a huge expense and a lot of debt.  It's hard just waiting for these things to pan out.

I'm going to continue the workout trend today.  After breakfast, I'm taking the dog for a long ramble through the woods for some cardio and stress relief.  I'm determined not to let stress get the better of my exercise program this time.  I'm pleasantly sore and achy from my workout yesterday, so I know that I challenged myself sufficiently.

I don't want people to read this post and feel sorry for me.  I don't want you thinking, "Poor Daisy.  She can't ever catch a break."  I want you to read this post and think to yourself, "If Daisy can deal with all of this stuff going on in her life, and she can still exercise and eat properly, then I can do it too."

Remember, you have two options.

#1.  You can be broke and unhealthy, eating Cheetos while you bemoan your financial woes.  Then perhaps you could step out for a Blizzard, because why does it really matter what you do?  You're broke, you have a crappy job and ice cream isn't going to change your financial situation, one way or the other.


#2.  You can be broke and healthy.  You can make a yummy broccoli salad while you look helplessly through your bills.  You can still walk the dog while you are pondering the answer to getting yourself out of debt.  While your food and exercise choices won't affect your financial situation, at least you will feel better, look better, and have the energy to fight your way through another day.

When you are in a bad personal situation, whether it is your financial stability, your relationship, or problems at work, you may be strapped for choices.  There may seem like there is no way out.  But you always have one choice: the way you treat yourself

Please choose the option to take care of yourself and be healthy. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aug. 16: Why Do We Skip the Things That Will Help?

I have a question of the day.  Actually a question of the life, because this is something I've done for years.


Exercise makes me feel great.  Lifting weights makes me feel strong and powerful, like I can take on the world.  I see results every time I walk into the gym.  I either hit another PR, or a notice a new bit of definition that wasn't there last time.  So, rolled into one activity I have:

a self esteem boost
a step towards better health
a release of anxiety
a sense of accomplishment

So, why, then, when things are going badly, do I avoid the very thing that will make me feel better?  I looked at my workout journal today and realized it has been one month to the day since I have lifted a weight.

This directly correlates with the realization that I am in a race with the bank to see if they get to foreclose on my house or if I can sell it before they do.  It correlates with the fact that I make nearly $800 a month less than my monthly expenditures, and I am totally maxed out on all of my credit, and I just can't go on this way.

So I skip the gym?

In the wise words of my 9 year old.................


So what am I going to do about this?  Well, today I got my butt to the gym.  I felt great.  I only lost a tiny bit of strength, which should come back quickly.  I went back to my original full body workout, and for the next two weeks, I am alternating a cardio day and a lifting day, six days a week.  I'm just going to do it until it's a habit as ingrained as brushing my teeth.

This is more than physical well-being at stake here - it's proving to myself that I don't deserve to feel bad and anxious.  It's saying to myself that I get to do things to feel good, no matter what else is going wrong.  It's basically telling me that I MATTER.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Aug 15: Food Prep

I was really kind of surprised when the timing for making my food for the entire week was an hour, almost to the minute.  I knew I spent approximately that amount of time, but it was interesting to document.

This week's menu:
Baked Chicken Breast
Turkey/Chicken Meatballs
Mexican Seasoned Turkey/Chicken Mixture
Broccoli/Cauliflower Salad
Garlic Roasted Cauliflower and Edamame
Garden Spinach Salad

Every week, when I have a day off, I spend time doing food prep.  Whenever I fail to do this, I end up going off my plan unexpectedly because I'm hungry, dammit, and there's nothing to eat!  Here's a little step-by-step of how I make a week's worth of food in an hour to heat and eat throughout the week.


I always chop an abundance of onion, and I cheat and use already minced garlic - I hate when my hands are stinky.  If I actually liked peppers, I'd chop those right now too.  Then I sautee them in a bit of olive oil so they are ready for my recipes.


I scooped out half of the onion and garlic mixture to add to my meatballs.  The other ingredients in the meatballs are: equal parts of extra lean ground turkey and extra lean ground chicken, whole wheat cracker crumbs (from the food processor), egg white, finely chopped spinach, and Mrs. Dash.


I add the rest of the ground meat to the skillet containing the remainder of the garlic and onion and cook it on low, stirring frequently.


I cook turkey bacon for the salad in the microwave on a paper-towel lined plate for about four minutes, or until crispy.


I get the meatballs and chicken breast ready to go into the oven.  I use foil underneath so there is no scrubbing required.  (I forgot to snap a before pic of the chicken.)  Into a 350* oven goes the meat.


Oops - I slacked on the pictures here.  Veggie prep time.  This week, I cut up cauliflower and broccoli.  I took half of the cauliflower and stirred it with minced garlic, olive oil and edamame, throwing it in the oven to roast while the meat is cooking.


The rest of the cauliflower and the broccoli go into a yummy cold salad that also contains Kraft Pure Raspberry Yogurt dressing, finely shredded cheddar and crumbled turkey bacon.  (I accidentally took a pic of the French side of the salad dressing - the labels in Canada are French on one side and English on the other.)


I season the now cooked ground meat with an organic ketchup sweetened with evaporated cane juice (it's better for you than refined sugar), chili powder, and sea salt.


I prepare a basic salad with baby spinach and cherry tomatoes.  This salad can have any protein added to it during the week to make a super quick meal.


I save last week's strawberries from certain demise by slicing them up and putting them in pre-measured servings in Ziploc bags.  These go in the freezer to be added to protein yogurt during the week.

Aug. 15: What's YOUR excuse?

Every day, there is something in your way, deterring your journey to better health.

Doesn't it always seem easier for everybody else?  Especially movie stars or that all-around go-getter at work that always does everything perfectly.  They seem to just have it made without any effort.  But even for people like that, life is full of choices - it's all about the priorities in your life.

I'd look good too if I was rich enough to afford a personal trainer to kick my butt.
Not if you didn't actually go to the gym and meet with that trainer.  Let your personal trainer be fitness magazines and the internet!

It would be easy to lose weight if I had a personal chef making me all sorts of healthy, low fat meals.
You're cooking anyway, so just make the choice to cook differently.

It's her job to look good - she doesn't have anything else to do.
Do you really think that's true?  Does she have kids?  A spouse? A script to memorize or a personal appearance to make?  Successful people are nearly always busy.

I'd have time to work out if I had a nanny.
Do you have a friend with kids that you could trade babysitting duties with?  Could you go on your lunch break when the kids are in school?  What about your spouse - he could do some kid-duty while you hit the gym.  Put the baby in the stroller for a nice long walk and let your older child pedal his bike along with you.

I can't even afford a gym membership - there is no way I can get fit.
You can walk, do a DVD, run, find a piece of equipment on Craigslist or at yard sales - where there is a will, there's a way.  When I first started out, I did squats and lunges with a 40 pound bag of dog food cradled in my arms.

The point I'm trying to make is, of course, rather obvious.  There is always a way to make healthier choices. If you really, really want something, you don't think about the obstacles - you think about the solutions.