Tag Archives: diet

So, I’ve Been Meaning To…

catch-up…catch up with all of you.  Apparently I have been meaning to do that for 75 days at this point.  Seventy-five days.  That is just insane.

My life has been pretty busy.  I feel like it is busier than normal even.  My abridged version:

1. My knees (more so my left) are killing me.  I mean serious pain…constant pain…the kind of pain that makes you walk up the stairs like a two-year-old griping the rail for dear life.

2. My weight continues to hold steady…around 190 to 193 pounds.  I saw one glimpse of 189.8 on the scale…then the very next day I was back to 192.  Infuriating.

3. I am training with Aaron steadily these days.  Things did not “end” well with Denise, unfortunately, and I am missing her like crazy.  I will always be grateful to her for getting my through some of the toughest months in my journey and being ridiculously supportive even when I was whining like a baby.

4. I went back to college.  I had graduated in January with an Associate degree.  Currently I am working toward a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences (Health & Wellness).  This is pretty exciting…and also makes me very busy.  Should I actually be able to make myself blog on any kind of regular basis, I will have all kinds of good/fascinating information to share with you all!

5. I am getting stronger.  A lot stronger.  A military push-up (one in which you keep your elbows tucked neatly next to your torso instead of flaring them out at a 45-degree angle) was something that eluded me…and annoyed me.  However, I am happy to say I can do them!  Not a ton of them, but still I can…and in perfect form!  This was a major victory for me…strange, I know.

6. My right elbow cannot behave for any length of time.  I was diagnosed with tendonitis in it a couple months ago.  I iced it, rested it, and took Ibuprofen.  It felt better, so I did upper body with Aaron and then it was mad at me again.  Then, repeat…and again…and again.  Every time I give it a week or two off, it feels great.  However, as soon as I do any pushing or pulling…WHAM-O! It is killing me all over again.  Also frustrating.

7. Friday marked my third Ortho-Visc injection (second set) in both knees.  Friday and Saturday were *rough* (to say the least), but today they seem to be feeling a little better.  Hopefully this means I will have some time to work on them.

8. I have decided to write a book…after *lots* of urging from friends, family, and acquaintances.  Personally, I think the idea of writing a book all about me is egotistical.  Other people; however, seem to think it would be beneficial and inspirational to those who would want to read a book all about me.  So, as part of my submission, I will be doing a photo shoot on Jan 5 & 6th.  Aaron, Dorsey, Chris, and others from Fitworks will be joining me for the shoot.  Honestly, I doubt I could pull it off without them (as I plan to hide behind them as much as possible – tee hee).

9. I still struggle with body image…and loving myself.  That has not changed much, if at all.  I have a difficult time seeing how far I have come more than how much further I have left to travel.  I think not seeing the scale move for a couple months compounds this issue…at least for me anyway.  I am actively working on this, though.  Some texts I have to read for school may help: Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert is one I am reading right now.

10. I still struggle with making good food choices.  Not every single day, but in times of great stress I still find myself considering things I should not.  I will spare you the details, but let me just admit that I had an internal debate with myself for about an hour over Junior Mints (whether or not to buy them).  I will also say that on that day in particular, no Junior Mints came home with me.  On that day.

11. Cardio is hard…with these knees…which has a lot to do with the scale not moving, I am sure.  It should get easier once this Ortho-Visc “kicks in” to help alleviate some of the discomfort in my joints.

12. I need to count calories, but find it too damn annoying…and slightly depressing.  I hate counting calories.  I really do.  Aaron keeps telling me I need to (since I am not losing weight easily anymore), and I know he is right.  However, counting calories either makes me feel super fat or starving.  No happy medium.  Crazy, I know.

Well, I am sure I missed some things, but that is a general update of how things have been going, and what I am up to right now.  It is my honest intention to keep on blogging…regularly…so, hopefully I will be “seeing” you again later this week.

How have you been holding up?
-Erica

Loving Whole Foods

I have recently fallen head over heels in L-O-V-E with Whole Foods.  I mean, I had been in there a time or two before, but not with the same drive.  My cousin, Maggie, and I went in there a couple weeks ago looking for a product not sold in other stores, which left us wandering a little.  On top of the wandering, I had read in a few books that purchasing things like nuts are often far cheaper at places like Whole Foods (in their bulk aisle).  So, I decided to check it out.  Oh. My. Goodness.  If they would set up a cot for me, I would live in the bulk food aisle.  Really.  Nuts *are* far cheaper if you purchase them this way…by about *half*…no joke.

Then there is the granola.  Granola…yum!  I have yogurt almost every day.  I typically put a small amount of granola and some walnuts (or pecans…or almonds) on top.  In case you do not already know, though, organic granola at Kroger or Bigg’s is ridiculously expensive!  It runs about $6.00 to $7.00 per pound!  At Whole Foods (in the bulk aisle, of course) granola is $3.99 per pound.  That is *so* much cheaper…and the flavors of granola are amazing!  My favorite is the Vanilla Macaroon.  It is heavenly.

I also switched to buying my eggs from Whole Foods…and my yogurt.  I usually purchase Dannon Light & Fit for $2.99 (32 oz.).  Whole Foods carries an organic vanilla yogurt made with milk from cows without hormones for $2.49 (32 oz.).  Better deal!  I will admit; however, that the eggs are slightly more expensive at Whole Foods.  One dozen eggs runs about $1.60 at WF and about $1.40 at Kroger.  However, the WF eggs are free range, antibiotic-free (which makes me happy to pay the little bit extra).

Another thing I love about WF…they have samples over by the bakery area…and man are they good!  I usually pass right by the sample kiosks at other grocery stores because it is all ucky processed junk.  I feel better about trying the foods at WF because I know they have higher standards about what they will sell/serve.

Ultimately, the purpose of this post is to debunk the whole “Whole Foods (and places like it) is always more expensive than Kroger/Bigg’s (and places like them).”  That is not necessarily true.  Yes, some things are  more expensive, but not everything.  I would say it is definitely worth it to take a stroll through WF and see what you can find to save your family some money.  I bet you will love the bulk aisle, too!

Do you currently shop at Whole Foods (or another store like it)?  If so, are there things you have found to be cheaper there versus a Kroger/Bigg’s/etc?

-Erica

PS) As I was re-reading my post before publishing it occurred to me that you all might think WF is paying/bribing me to say such nice things about them.  I assure you I have been in no way compensated for this post…although they could give me five minutes alone with the bulk food aisle and I would be one happy girl.  :)

Weigh Day (week fifty-five)

I am feeling *far* better this week than last.  All of my “extra” weight went away, and I finally saw the downward trend I have come to know and love.  I do still believe that I need a new scale (or new batteries) because I am still running into some inconsistency issues…which are frustrating!

I began my new routine (designed by Denise and Dorsey) this week.  It is more regimented than I am used to, but change is good, right?  This is what my week looked like:

Monday – Back & Biceps (weight lifting)
Tuesday – Spin (cardio)
Wednesday – Legs (weight lifting)
Thursday – Zumba (cardio)
Friday – Chest & Triceps (weight lifting)

Thankfully, the issue with my left foot seems to be improving quickly.  I was still able to do spin on Tuesday (without standing on the bike, though), and leg day was no problem.  Even Zumba went off without a hitch (although about 3/4 through it I cut back on the amount I was jumping).  I have been consistently icing it and keeping it elevated when I sit down.

So, my weigh in for the week:

197.2

Not too shabby, huh?  That is a full four pounds down from last week, and two pounds down from my previous lowest weight.  This makes me happy.  Especially since I am in Grumpy’s Coffee Mug Challenge.  I need to kick some butt, folks.  The challenge runs until October, so I have some time to really ramp it up…which I will be doing.

-Erica

Happy Healthy-versary!

Today officially marks one whole year I have been striving/working toward a healthier lifestyle.  What a crazy year this has been!  Excitement, disappointment, anger, joy, desperation, and every other emotion in between has been experienced this year!  I would like to think the happy/joyful moments have outweighed the frustration and anger, though.  I certainly have a lot to be happy about, seriously.

I have gone from 315 pounds to 199.2 in one year (115.8 pounds lost).
I have gone from a size 28W to a 14/16 in one year.
I have gone from being in pain 24/7 to moving freely and comfortable in one year.
I have gone from miserable to pretty dang happy in one year.

This time last year I had a brace on my ankle.  I absolutely *could not* walk without that brace.  My back was *always* killing me.  I was constantly having headaches.  I was depressed and miserable.  My heart condition was running my life.  I wore only 3X T-shirts and stretchy pants.  I thought I would be fat forever.

Today I could not even tell you where that brace is because I have not needed it in such a long time (nor will I ever again).  My back *never* hurts.  I cannot recall the last time I had a headache.  I think it is safe to say I am no longer depressed, and I am certainly not miserable.  My heart condition has improved *dramatically* to the point where I can actually *live* my life without worrying so much about it.  I can wear most large T-shirts (not even XL) and I am actually wearing real jeans right now.  I know I will never be fat again.

I cried today.  In public.  I was out with my cousin, Maggie, and we were browsing through Rookwood Commons.  She was on the hunt for a job, and I was just along for the window shopping.  We stopped into Eddie Bauer, and I looked around while she filled out the application.  As I rummaged through their clearance racks I had a fleeting thought… “This time last year they would have shooed me out of here immediately because there would be absolutely *nothing* in this store that would fit me.”  I found a pair of size 16 jeans.  They were marked all the way down to $8.00 (can you believe that?!), so I just had to try them on.  They fit, folks.  They fit.  Eddie Bauer jeans fit my booty.  It was such an exhilarating feeling to be able to walk into a store like that and actually find clothes that fit. Me.

As I walked to the counter I began to tear up.  I could not help myself.  I turned to Maggie and said, “This is the first time in my entire adult life I have *ever* been able to walk into a store (other than Wal-Mart), pick something off the rack (that is not stretchy), and have it actually fit me.”  The lady behind the counter actually came out and around to hug me.  She said she was proud of me (never met her before, by the way) and she even got a little teary-eyed.  What an incredible moment that was.

The people I have met over the last year have made all the difference.  There is a saying out there somewhere about positive things happening in one’s life if one surrounds him/herself with positive people/things.  That is certainly true.  I have never had more positive people in my life, and I have never had so many positive things going on.  Denise, of course, is a huge driving force in my life.  She has changed my everyday life in such profound ways.  All the other trainers at the gym (Dorsey, Aaron, Ketrell, etc.) have contributed too.  Without them I would not have come *nearly* this far in one year.  I love them, and I am looking forward to another year with them.

I know I still have quite a bit of road left to travel, but I have come *so* far.  I also now know I can do it.  Whatever *it* may be, I have this.  I will get to where I want to be…regardless of what it takes, or how long.

I have only one regret.  I wish to hell and back I would have taken a picture (full body) of myself on this day last year.  I would absolutely give anything to be able to really *see* what kind of changes my body has undergone in a year.  Too late for that now, though, I will just have to take everyone else’s word for it.

Looking back over the last year…how has your life changed?  Are you happy with the kind of changes that have occurred in your life over the last year?  If not, what steps can/will you take to improve your life in the coming year?

-Erica

Summer Salad with Vinaigrette

This salad…is amazing!  I had a version of it while on vacation in Indy earlier this month.  Artisan lettuce (no iceberg) with fresh strawberries, mandarin oranges, pecans, crumbled/cubed cheese, and grilled chicken.  Delicious!

Salads are wonderful for a variety of things…you can get seriously creative with them.  Fruits, nuts, cheeses, meats, etc.  Nothing is really “wrong” on a salad…with the exception of dressing.  Some people go crazy with dressing, and drown the flavor (and health value) out of a perfectly good salad.

I have been experimenting with creating everyday food items from scratch.  First up…vinaigrette.  Specifically the vinaigrette that accompanied this salad in Indy.  A poppyseed vinaigrette.  The waitress was nice enough to tell me it had these things included:

-poppyseeds (of course)
-oil
-wine vinegar
-sugar*
-red onion

She followed it up with, “It’s really quite simple to mix up.”  So, I did.  I did; however, switch up the sugar for honey (as noted by the *).  I used two different kinds of oil, olive and canola.  The dressing had a pink hue to it, so I figured she probably meant red wine vinegar.  Putting this dressing together took me all of five minutes…and it is delicious!  Best of all, I know *exactly* what is in it, and I know it is fresh!

What kinds of salads do you enjoy?  Have you ever made your own dressing?

-Erica

Food: Revisited

I know I have talked about this before (and likely will again), but this remains the number one question people ask me:

“What are you eating?”

The truth is, I probably do not eat like many other people losing weight (or trying to lose weight).  I do not count calories.  I do not count grams of anything (protein, fat, salt, etc.).  I do not choose “low-fat” or “no fat” varieties of most foods I eat.

Calories stress me out.  I can never seem to get that right.  I am either eating way too much in order to meet the required number, or I am eating way too little (retricted) and starving.  Either way will lead to failure.  I eat when I feel truly hungry (not bored, angry, lonely, etc.), which just happens to work out to be around every 3 to 4 hours.  I eat until I am no longer hungry.  This is not the equivalent to, “Oh my gosh.  I am so stuffed I can barely move.”  Feeling that way is a clear indicator you ate *way* too much.

Nutrition information is overwhelming (and often conflicting).  Some reputable sources say, “Eat loads of protein!”  Other sources say limit animal proteins to only a few days a week.  Something I have learned over my journey…my body knows what it needs.  I just have to listen.  When my body needs protein, guess what?  I crave it.  When my body needs something else, another craving.  Over time I have figured out how to eat…for *my* body.  I may not; however, be eating enough of one thing or another for *your* body.  We are all different.  We all require different amounts of different things to operate at *our* maximum.

I eat full-fat cheese and sour cream.  I eat bread (100% whole wheat) and pasta (again, whole wheat).  These are things most “dieters” avoid like the plague.  What they do not seem to understand, though, is that *most* “low-fat” or “no fat” products contain many other horrible things (such as an excess of sodium or sugar).  What you are trading in fat (or even reduced calories) is a significant increase in chemicals.  Full-fat cheese is natural.  Natural is good.

I eat fat…and quite a bit of it.  I am willing to bet I consume *far* more fats than the average “dieter.”  My fats come from avocado, nuts, coconut oil, and other healthy (natural) sources.  These are *not* the equivalent of the fat content of a triple decker cheeseburger from McDonald’s, though.  Healthy fats, and our bodies need them.

Recently, another girl came to me with serious inquisition…she wants desperately to lose weight (so she said).  The minute I said, “What you eat is more of the equation than what you do with your body,” was the minute she tuned me out.  It is the truth, though, eating is more than 75% of weight loss.  All the working out I do is more for muscle, endurance, fitness, and hopefully less chance of ever having “saggy skin.”  Food is where the magic really happens.

The biggest pieces of advice I can give anyone with the goal of weight loss are these (in no specific order):

-Ditch as much processed foods as you can.  Avoid trans fat (hydrogenated oils) and high fructose corn syrup.  Read nutrition and ingredient labels (there are millions of products containing these things that you would never suspect).  Eat more raw veggies and fruits.  Stay away from fast food joints.
-Be honest with yourself about your goals and how much work it is *really* going to take to meet them.  I have found people often set *huge* goals with the expectation of little effort.
-Find a way to keep yourself accountable.  This is a *huge* one.  People often turn to friends for support, which is nice.  The problem?  Friends often let you “slip” when you should not because they have an emotional attachment to you. “Oh, girl, I know you needed that brownie after that happened.  I would have eaten two!”  People who are not emotionally invested in your life are far more likely to keep it real…and keep you on track.
-Figure out what (if any) your trigger foods are…then curb it/them.  Almost everyone I know has at least one food that triggers them to overeat.  Find out what yours are, and then be more aware of it.  If you can, avoid eating it/them for a while.  If you cannot, do not allow yourself to overeat.  Stay conscious while you are eating, and force yourself to eat more slowly (which will allow you to feel that sensation of satisfaction *before* you stuff yourself).
-Do not eat while doing other things.  If you eat while watching television – stop.  You are far more likely to overeat simply because you are not paying attention to your body’s signals.
-Keep a food journal.  Seriously.  Write down *every single morsel* that enters your mouth.  When starting out, write down portion sizes, too.  You may be eating *far* more than what you think you are…especially if you are a grazer/snacker.

This is just a short list of things that have helped me in relation to eating/food…and I hope they can help some of you, too.

My goal for this week is to start posting more about what foods I am eating regularly.  I want to also start sharing more recipes as I find/try them.  So, be looking for that.

Do you have any other hints/tips/tricks that have helped you in your journey that I did not mention?  Please share them in the comments below.

-Erica

Weigh Day (week forty-four)

I am feeling a bit drained today…actually the past week or so I have been feeling slow.  I am not really sure what exactly is going on.  Maybe I am just in some sort of mental slump.  Working out continues to be a top priority, so I know it is not for lack of movement.  Progress is still coming…ever so slowly, but I really cannot complain.

Weeks that bring lower losses (like this one) really force me to think about things in other ways.  That might have something to do with my sorta blue mood.  Maybe.  I went to Wal-Mart the other day to try on jeans (something I do about once a month).  I never go with the intention of buying clothes, I just want to see where I am.  I took a size 14 and a size 16 jeans in the changing room with me.  I decided to be brave and start with the smaller of the two.  A size 14.  A regular 14, I should mention…without the dreaded ‘W’ beside it.  Lo and behold – they fit!  A regular old size 14 jeans fit my body.  Now, they were a little too snug for me to wear them…simply because I do not like my clothes that tight (although I have seen other women in clothes far tighter).

So, why no celebration?  Why no big “I’m a size 14″ post?  Well, I do not feel much like celebrating that.  Strange, right?  The problem is when I set out on this journey (at over 300 pounds), I told myself I would be ecstatic to be a size 16 again.  A regular 16.  I thought I would *have* to feel good about myself at that size because a size 16 is no longer fat.  Here I am, though, 10 months later in a size smaller than said 16.  I still feel fat.  I still see a fat girl staring back in the mirror.  Why is that?  The girls working the fitting rooms at Wal-Mart helped me figure out that from a size 28W to a regular 14 (no ‘W’) is 11 sizes.  Eleven whole sizes smaller…and I still feel fat.  Sigh.

I am starting to wonder if I am just destined to feel fat, to see that fat girl in the mirror, forever.  It is similar to being haunted, I would suppose.

Uck.  So, now that I have successfully pulled everyone else down into this funky blue mood with me…let us move to my weigh in, shall we?

212.2

That is down from last week…although not very much.  Less than a pound, in fact.  I must admit that I am not all that happy with that…not that I am fully disappointed or angry.  I am just not thrilled and jumping up and down.  Twenty-seven plus pounds still need to be lost here, so why such the dramatic slow down?

I have a plan for the upcoming week.  I need to shake things up on the food front.  I also need to push extra hard this week in the gym.  Lots of cardio, and hopefully some power yoga Monday night with Aaron and Denise.  My goal is to weigh in at 210.6 or less next Sunday (which would be down 1.6 from today).  Here’s to another week of hard work and dedication…

How did your week turn out?  How are you planning to make this week better?

-Erica

Nutrition Talk (as of today)

Nutrition is a complicated subject.  At least for me it is.  The reason I find it complicated is because the information seems to be ever-changing.  One day eggs are “bad” with all their artery-clogging cholesterol.  The next day eggs are “good” with all their muscle-boosting protein.  It gets confusing, and complicated, to try to eat right.

Add to that back-and-forth nonsense all the fad diets that encourage people to cut out entire food groups because they are “bad” (with research backing that claim up, no less)…now you have a serious dilemma when trying to eat healthy.

Of course there are a few areas in which every “expert” seems to agree…trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are bad, excess processed foods with added sugars are bad, and too many calories per day is bad.  All across the board these are accepted to be true.  I suppose those few commonalities are supposed to make us (consumers) feel better about eating.  Well, those rare agreements between “experts” do not make me feel any better.  Not one bit.

Another aspect of nutrition that makes it more complicated for the consumer is language.  When manufacturers were required to label their products with nutrition information and ingredient lists, the language changed.  Sugar was no longer just called “sugar” in most products.  Instead “sugar” became corn syrup or lactose, which deceived consumers into purchasing something they maybe would not have if they knew it was added sugar.

The following are random tidbits I have picked up over the course of the last eight and a half months.  (I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on this subject.  Additionally, what information is included below is likely to change within a few months/years.)

Sugar is also known as:
barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice invert syrup, fructose, fruit juice, galactose, glucose, granular fruit grape juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltodextrin, maple syrup, molasses, organic cane juice, sorghum, sucrose, and turbinado (this list is courtesy of WH Big Book of Exercises).

Nutrition “Secrets:”
1. The healthiest foods you probably are avoiding are: pork chops, mushrooms, red-pepper flakes, full-fat cheese, iceberg lettuce, scallops, vinegar, and chicken thighs.
2. Fatty foods you should eat (without guilt) are: meat with flavor (such as bacon, rib eye, dark meat chicken, and ham), whole milk, butter (not margarine), full-fat sour cream, coconut, chicken skin, and eggs.
3. Saturated fat is *not* a nutritional villain.  In fact, most types of saturated fat (there are over 13 types) have a positive effect on cholesterol (and some do not have any effect on cholesterol at all).  This, of course, means that the consumption of saturated fat is in *no way* linked to heart disease risk.
4. Foods that you think are healthy (but probably are not): yogurt with fruit on the bottom (added sugar), baked beans (enough sugar added to equal an 8-oz soft drink), california roll (two main ingredients are white rice and imitation crab), fat-free salad dressing (added sugar), reduced-fat peanut butter (added icing sugar), corn oil (high content of omega-6 relative to omega-3 has been linked to an increase in risk of cancer, arthritis, and obesity).
Info pulled from WH Big Book of Exercises.

The number one problem with my current diet is probably my ratio of carbs to protein.  I will be honest, I am not big on counting calories and I am not big on calculating how much of each nutrient I am consuming each day.  This is about to change, though.  First of all, my weight loss has slowed tremendously.  I think that can be attributed to many factors, one of them being my diet.  It has worked for me up to this point (eight and a half months).  However, now that my activity level is *way* up and the level of intensity is also *way* up, I think it is time to re-evaluate things.

The nutritionist I met with a couple months ago recommended I eat 85 to 90 grams of protein each day, which I easily manage.  However, this book recommends “1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight.”  That would actually bring me to 180 to 185 grams of protein per day.  They also mention that sometimes that is just too much protein for a person to consume, but say that 125 grams should be considered the minimum requirement.  Maybe if I were consuming that extra 40+ grams of protein my muscles would be recovering more quickly.  When I work really hard (which is majority of the time I am in the gym, of course), that muscle group will be sore for 3 to 5 days.  Absurd.  I want to get back to an alternating schedule of working muscle groups, but I need the muscles to recover much more quickly to make that happen.

All of this seems unnecessarily complicated (in my opinion).  I wish things were much more cut-and-dry.  Conflicting information is everywhere and most of it is “backed by research that proves its validity.”  Ridiculous.

How do you figure out what you should and should not eat?  Are you following a specific dietary “plan?”  Do you calculate daily nutritional content (if so, how?)?

-Erica

 

My *Sweet* Sixteen

It is *that* time again, folks.  Time to cross another item from my list of goals!  I must admit it is *so* exciting to cross things off that list – it really becomes a motivator all in itself.  I often find myself thinking, “What item on my list of goals am I closest to meeting?  How can I push a little harder to meet it ASAP?”

Yesterday I was out and about with my mother.  We ended up at Wal-Mart to pick up some books I had ordered online (I will be sharing those with you in another post, by the way).  While I was there I decided I was going to try on a pair of pants.  A size 16.  Why, you ask?  Do you remember last month when I posted about *finally* fitting into a size 18 again?  Well, those pants are baggy now.  Not “falling down” baggy, but loose none-the-less.  So loose, in fact, I can fit an arm in the side of them while wearing them (just about half-way up my forearm).

I truly thought that would be impossible, considering I *just* bought those 18′s a month ago…almost exactly.  Well, it was not impossible, folks.  I *totally* fit into those 16′s!!!  Excitement overwhelmed me, and I actually got a little teary-eyed over the whole thing.  I stood staring at myself in the mirror in complete shock and wonderment.

How could this be?  How could I be in a size 28 just about seven months ago?!  How could I possibly be standing here in a size 16 now?  The time seems to be slipping away so quickly and I am changing/shrinking just as quickly.  It is beyond my ability to completely comprehend it all, honestly.

As I am lost inside my own head trying to wrap my head around this whole situation, my mother breaks into my thoughts with, “Well…are you going to let me see?!”  My celebratory mode went down several notches at that moment.  See, you must understand that my mother began this journey with me 33 weeks ago.  The difference is that she has not been quite as successful as I have (and that is putting it mildly).  At times I feel as though I am just “rubbing it in” because I can see the pained look on her face as I celebrate another milestone in my journey.  She does not intend to do it, I do not think, but I can see it.  I can hear it in her tone of voice.  And it shows now that she rarely (if ever) travels to the gym with me.  On the rare occasions she does go with me, she often sits on the sidelines observing me trying new things, challenging myself, and sometimes making a complete fool of myself.  I find it hard to be genuinely excited about my “transformation” in her presence for fear of hurting her feelings or even making her feel as though I think I am better than her.

At any rate…I did not purchase the jeans.  In case you were wondering.  The 18′s are baggy/loose on me, but I figure I can wear them a little longer without any trouble.  I would hate to keep purchasing new clothes every single month until I am finished losing.  Maybe some people have that kind of cash lying around, but I certainly do not.  :)  So, for now I will stay in my baggy 18′s, and maybe I will try on a pair of 14′s next month…

Do you have anyone in your life that feigns support and happiness for you, but you can tell it is forced?  If so, how do you deal with that?

-Erica

Let’s Talk Food

The number one question I am asked when discussing my weight loss is, “What are you eating…or *not* eating?”

First of all, let me say that often people are astounded to find out I am losing weight “the hard way” (IE. no magic pills or trendy/fad diets…and no surgical intervention).  I have actually had people say something to this effect, “Really?  *That* works?!”  They have genuine shock and surprise in their voices.  How interesting.

In a society that is dominated by the quicker/faster/better option, people often overlook the best/healthiest route.  I mean, who wants to actually *work* toward something when you get snipped and tucked…one “quick and easy” procedure cures all your physical woes.  Right?  Wrong.  I have never been an advocate for weight loss surgery…ever.  Even at my heaviest when my doctor offered me a referral to the “weight loss clinic” (IE fat-removing surgeon), I turned him down.  I was not willing to risk my life when there was a *much* safer alternative – exercise and healthy eating.

Anyway…stepping off my soap box…

I have been wanting to share some of my “staple” foods that have helped me in my journey.  Not all of these choices would be right for everyone, of course, based on your own dietary needs and tastes.  So, this is not intended to be any kind of sound nutritional advice, folks.  Just what I like and what works for me.  I have posted previously about my food choices, if you are interested.

My first new discovery was Bolthouse Farms.  They have many products, but I am in love with their yogurt-based ranch dressing.  I love veggies…raw and crunchy veggies…but dipping them in ranch makes them even better (in my opinion).  I always limit myself to no more than one serving (2 Tbsp) and that is quite often *way* more than enough anyway.  Bolthouse Farms makes many other dressings and vinaigrettes, so if ranch dressing does not toot your horn, they probably have something else that will.

I have also switched to stevia as a sweetener instead of traditional granulated sugar.  I rarely used sugar anyway, but when I do I am now grabbing stevia.  Personally, I can taste a small difference between the two (maybe that is just me), but the difference does not bother me.  Sweet is sweet, right?

My next “big” find was Kashi (thanks to the nutritionist).  I was browsing the aisles of whole/natural/organic foods in my grocery store when I stumbled upon: Kashi TLC Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy Granola Bars (what a mouth-full).  These things are *amazingly* delicious…really.  My daughters have been having them as their mid-morning snack for days now.  They come packaged in pairs, which is perfect for each of my daughters to have one bar (85 calories, 3 g fat, 0.5 saturated fat, and 3 g protein).  Those of you watching carb intake might be less excited about these bars, though.  They weigh in at 25g of carbs per pack (two bars), so that may not be ideal for everyone.

Cooking oils are abundant these days.  Previously, I always had vegetable oil in my pantry.  Then I switched to extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO).  Then canola oil.  Recently, my friend switched to coconut oil because of all the hype it was receiving.  That, of course, led me to purchase some and start using it.  When I spent some time earlier this month with the nutritionist, I asked about all the different oils.  Ultimately, she recommended using canola oil for high-temperature cooking and EVOO for low-temperature cooking and dressings.  Although there are benefits to using coconut oil, the high (and I mean *very* high) saturated fat content make it a bad contender for regular use.  What kind of oil(s) do you use for cooking/baking?

I have mentioned previously that I have given up all white/bleached/enriched flour products (IE white bread and regular pastas).  An interesting bit of information I learned from the nutritionist, though, was that I had been eating them this whole time – unknowingly.  I *assumed* that if a product simply said “wheat flour” it meant the flour was not bleached/enriched.  However, that apparently is not necessarily the case.  The same goes for durum flour and semolina.  If the ingredient label does not include the word *whole* in front of those terms, chances are the flour *was* bleached/enriched and the manufacturer is just not putting that explicitly on the label.  This, in my opinion, is one more step to intentionally deceive consumers.  Letting us believe we are eating better food when, in fact, we are not.  I was not happy to find this out, of course.  So, I will be even more careful when selecting products that contain flour (in any form) to ensure I am not eating those bleached/enriched flours.

Some of my other blogger friends have recently discussed eating healthy and making better choices about consumption.  To see what they have to say visit with Andie and Colline.

Do you read the nutrition labels and ingredient lists when grocery shopping?  If so, what criteria must a food meet in order to land a spot in your cart?

Have you ever tried a fad diet in hopes of losing a great deal of weight quickly?  If so, which one(s) have you tried, and what was your experience with it?

-Erica