Archive for the ‘Healthy Living’ Category

January 20, 2016

Body Rider

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The Body Rider Elliptical arrived, and I am super pleased with it. When we first moved I considered getting a machine five times as expensive. I am so glad I cheaped out!

It took about two hours to get the machine together. I was impressed by how sturdy and heavy duty it is, even though it was only $105 at the time of purchase. I couldn’t help but compare it to the Suncast Deck Storage Box, purchased for the same price at the end of summer. This machine is definitely worth so.much.more.

Aside, now I have a new trick to save money. Whenever I’m considering a purchase I’ll ask myself if it’s worth as much as a comparable sized purchase I’ve already made. That over priced deck box would not have passed that test!

The machine is compact, light weight and still super sturdy and super quite. I love that it doesn’t take up space and that it’s easy to move it around. One of the reasons we opted not to go for a more expensive unit is they can be close to 200 lbs! This one is only 56, but when you’re on it it doesn’t feel that way. We also needed a machine that Domingo could use when the kids were asleep and we wouldn’t be worried about waking them up. This is definitely that machine. I wouldn’t use it with someone sleeping in the same room, but it’s quite enough that you can’t hear it with the door shut.

The biggest con for this device it that the display sucks. It’s attached to the base near the front wheel and not back lit which makes it hard to read when you’re on it. It doesn’t always reset when you tell it too. And, most importantly, I question it’s accuracy. I have been on the machine for an hour and it says I’ve gone 10 miles and only burned 200 calories. At that distance and speed every online calculator I try says I should burn at least twice that if not more.

I don’t care that much about the poor display. I keep the machine close to the window and my phone on the window sill. I use my phone for timing since I can read it better. I don’t sweat the calorie count since it doesn’t matter what the machine (or the internet) says. I’m feeling better about myself, and that’s the important thing. I would have preferred a machine with an easier to read display, sure, but not enough to pay and extra couple of hundred dollars for it.

After a couple weeks of gang buster weight loss, the weight loss has stalled a bit. I’m sure it’s partially the new muscle mass. I no longer feel like my legs have turned to jello when I finish exercising.

December 31, 2015

A New Me in the New Year

I’ve not been happy with my weight in a long time. I was at my peek about four or five years ago before we started our family. Surprisingly, pregnancy has been good to my figure. It’s the side benefit to pregnancy migraines which leave you too nauseous to eat, I guess. In the in between times my weight has started to creep back up again. Christmas Eve I got on the scale again and was so sad at how quickly it was coming back.

So I’m making a change.

I decided to start watching what I eat. I downloaded the LoseIt app for my phone. On Christmas Eve. The day after making cinnamon rolls for the first time in five years, and the evening after baking cookies with Nicole. It was nearly impossible to stick to my calorie cap on Christmas. I felt impossibly hungry and cranky all day, and still ended up over by about 500 calories! Since then I’ve been better able to stick close to my calorie cap, and even been able to eat a few Cinnamon rolls.

The biggest discovery I’ve found with a calorie counter is that I’m incredibly bad at guessing which foods are “good”. Often the snack I’d reach for when trying to be good was worse than the sweet treat I actually wanted! A serving of pretzels can be over a 100 calories, whereas a candy cane is just 50. I was shocked I could still have my candies (or a cinnamon roll or even two on occasion!)

I also really like the gamification aspect the usage of a mobile app brings. I have a ton of fun adding and subtracting foods to my daily log, planning out my day and making sure I have enough wiggle room to satisfy my sweet tooth. It also gives me that little motivational push I need to hold off when hunger pangs strike an hour or so before meal time.

The last time I (intentionally) lost a bit of weight it was through exercise, not diet. I’ve never been one for the stationary bike or tread mill, but I can (or at least could) do an hour on the elliptical easy. Domingo and I had been considering purchasing an elliptical for the home for a while. My unhappiness in my weight was the final motivational push we needed. I found a basic one on Amazon and made the purchase. It’s out of stock now, but will hopefully arrive soon.

I’m six days in on this journey to a new me. Accounting for normal weight fluctuations, it appears that I may have already loss a lb and a half. LoseIt predicts I’ll reach my goal by summer. Here’s hoping!

chocolate

These days I’m averaging about 3 migraines a week, but have the near constant pre-migraine headache that makes me fearful the next big one is always just around the corner. I do have prescription medication to treat migraines but I don’t like how strongly it affects me. While considered pregnancy safe, it’s also not 100% risk free to the baby. Thus I’m reluctant to take it on such a regular basis. So at my last OB appointment we discussed prevention. Her main suggestion was a magnesium supplement.

Since the appointment I’ve been reading about magnesium and migraines online, and the verdict (at least to this lay person) seems mixed. What doesn’t appear to be in question is that migraine suffers tend to have lower levels of magnesium. One study found magnesium supplements reduced the number of migraines patients above and beyond the placebo affect, another study showed no difference. Alas, I haven’t found the actual papers, but here’s a summary. I did find a pubmed article entailed “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium” and another “Should magnesium be given to every migraineur? No.” Alas, I lack the background knowledge to properly interpret the findings.

The good news is magnesium oxide, the typical supplement form, is pregnancy safe, and a category B. In contrast my prescription is a category C.

Under the “it most likely can’t hurt” philosophy, Domingo and I picked up some supplements. I also started reading about foods with naturally occurring magnesium since getting vitamins from natural sources are almost always better than supplements. In that list? Dark chocolate. The darker the better. I can now say there is a medical reason why I should eat chocolate. We picked up some of that too.

I’m not sure whether magnesium will actually help in my case. Many of the foods high in magnesium (aside from chocolate) I actually do eat on a fairly regular basis, including avocado, banana, black beans and spinach.

Here’s hoping, if nothing else, the supplement (and the chocolates!) can serve as a good placebo for me.

February 18, 2012

Not So Grainy After All

You remember how I was all excited that we were eating healthier? We were reducing sugar, and eating more whole grain? Yeah, apparently I was falling for market hype. And now the FDA is upset with misleading labels. Part of the problem is there hasn’t been a standard for what a “good” or “excellent” source of whole grain is. The new rules will require manufactures list a gram or oz count, to avoid consumer confusion.

Remember those Eggo Waffles I thought were so good for us? They’re more white flower than whole wheat. There’s even an accusation of companies using food coloring to make products appear more like whole grain. It’s sneaky, to say the least. I’m sure this is part of the reason the FDA is getting involved. I’m not saying we would have avoided waffles had we realized the whole grain claim was misleading, but I certainly wouldn’t have paid a premium for them.

While this revelation is a bit discouraging, at least it’s not all bad news for us. I learned you can get a sense of the truthfulness behind whole grain claims by the fiber count. Whole grains are typically high in fiber. One tortilla roll has 48% of the daily fiber recommendation! And the bread we buy lists the number of grams of whole grain (11 per slice and 22 per sandwhich!), which is nearly half of the daily recommendation.

For now, I will stick to products that list a concrete amount of whole grain instead of vague claims like “made with whole grain”. I’ve always preferred ingredients I recognize (‘flour’, ‘sugar’, etc). I knew I was never going to be 100% whole grain, or 100% organic food, or any other healthy category. That was never the goal. We want to continually improve our eating habits. Hopefully with the new guide lines, we will continue to do that, and not be tricked into just thinking we’re eating healthier.

September 25, 2011

Eating Well for Less

Eating well and not saving money are two ideas that seem to contradict. Fruits and veggies, extra lean meats, and organics all come with heftier price tags. Domingo and I haven’t mastered the balance yet – I don’t even know if it’s possible – but we have found little ways to save while still eating well.

Fresh Vs. Frozen:
Our first strategy is to buy frozen vegetables. A few studies have found frozen vegetables are typically no worse than fresh. They’re frozen at the peak of freshness, which helps lock in nutrients. Of course, the way they’re frozen (and the way their cooked) influences how many nutrients you can absorb from them.

While the typical recommendation is to buy in-season vegetables fresh, and off-season vegetables frozen, we always have our staple frozen vegetables (corn, peas, broccoli, etc) all year round. They last longer that way so we can stock up on sales, we always have vegetables, and no excuse to go without. On sale, a generic bag of veggies is usually only $1.20, and last for 2 meals. We still buy fresh for vegetables that just don’t taste the same frozen (ie asparagus.)

Using the same logic, we buy frozen meats as well. A bag of Tilapia can cost $8, and last for three dinners. Fresh, the same price would fetch only enough fish for one meal, and we’d have to buy it that day or the day before. Major inconvenience. We also have options for a super quick healthy meal for very busy days – just throw a meat in the oven to bake, steam a vegetable and done. Combined with half a bag of veggies, and we have a healthy, easy, no fuse meal for two for just $3.27!

We will also buy refrigerated meet in bulk, and throw it into the freezer. We’ll buy ground turkey and shape it into patties for burgers. It’s cheaper than buying pre-shaped patties, and we can make them as thick or as thin as we like. We can also freeze them individually, and thaw only what we need each meal.

Pick your healthy battles:
I love the idea of organic, but only buying organic and free range is expensive. We only purchase organic milk. I find a huge difference in taste between organic and non-organic. I can drink a glass of organic milk, but non-organic has a chalky taste. We also found organic milk lasts a lot longer. It may cost twice as much, but it lasts long enough for us to consume it all. I will never go back to non-organic milk.

Veggies and fruits are a different matter. I considered only buying organic for the dirty dozen, but I can never remember which fruits and veggies are on the list. However, sometimes organic can actually be cheaper. Since our grocery store tends to stock up on Sunday, they sometimes have sales to turn over stock. Our current philosophy is to buy organic when it’s close in price or cheaper than regular. This afternoon I bought organic spinach for my strawberry and spinach salad. I figure any vegetable is better than no vegetable, and some organic is better than no organics.

Have a Plan:
We’ll plan three or four meals for the week. By knowing what we want to make over the course of the week, we reduce the number of trips to the grocery store (and any impulse purchases.) We’ll also put meals back to back that use the same ingredients. For example, tonight is taco night. We’re making 3 lbs of meet (waaaay more than the two of us can eat.) Tomorrow we’ll make chili with some of the left over meet, and meaty spaghetti sauce with the rest which will be frozen for future meals.

Left-overs, Left-overs, Left-overs. Most recipes are designed for families, you can cut down on the ingredients, but then you’re using half a pepper and the other half is wasted. We have a couple recipes that reheat very well, and will deliberately make a double batch so we have easy lunches and dinners. It’s especially great for busy weeks where we would otherwise be springing for take-out.

Like I said, we haven’t mastered the art of saving while grocery shopping. Our food bill is still high. You can’t eat $3.27 meals every day – or at least we can’t – it gets boring! But I’ve noticed our grocery bill has dropped some since we’ve started doing all these things, and any savings is better than no savings.

July 9, 2011

Sweeter Than Sugar

One of the first healthy living eating choices I made was to eliminating soda from my diet. I used to drink 2 diet sodas a day, and even though diet soda no longer has the salt content, water is still much healthier. I used to never think I could get used to the non-taste of water, but I found that keeping it properly filtered and particularly chilled helped a lot.

Our current goal is to greatly reduce the carbs, particularly high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn sugar – really all processed sugars, natural sugars like those from fruit is okay – and the amount of white bread we consume.

We recently switched to Welch’s reduced sugar grape jelly. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. They’re currently the only grape jelly on the market without HFCS and less sugar. Clearly no easy feat or there would be competitors. It took some getting used to, sugar is tasty after all, but now I am quite happy with it. The only drawback is only comes in the dorky kid-centric squeeze bottle, and the squeeze bottle costs a lot more than a regular jar. The alternative is to switch to a non-grape jelly, but what can I say, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.

We’ve also been transitioning to wheat bread. We’ve been enjoying Wonderlight Smart Wheat bread, reduce fat Ego whole wheat waffles, and whole wheat buns for hot dogs. We even get whole wheat French bread, when our grocery store has it. One could argue that these aren’t necessarily the best choices, but they are better choices than pure white bread. Just like the reduced sugar grape jelly, it takes time to transition fully to the healthy choice.

The biggest issue for me is protein. I’m not a big lunch meet person, heck I’m not a big meat person in general. (If it flies or comes from the sea, I love it, but I rarely eat land dwellers.) My primary pre-dinner protein sources come from nuts. But I’m prone to headaches, which seem to come when I don’t eat enough protein. I’ve been trying protein bars, but unfortunately those come with a lot of extra sugar.

Is it working? Well, since the reduction of sugar in take and the switch to more whole wheat and whole grains, I’ve lost another 5 lbs, brining my total just shy of 10 by only dietary changes. I’ll take that.

All I can say is YUM!

To make the sweet vinaigrette dressing combine (wisk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
(Recipe from allrecipies.com)

Drizzle over freshly cut strawberries & spinach for a wonderful spring time treat. I used an egg slicer to slice my strawberries. If you do that, don’t cut out the white core of the strawberry before slicing. The remaining berry looses all structural integrity and turns into strawberry puree.

I just have to say – Jillian Michaels, you kick my butt!  I bought her workout DVD ’30 day shred’ almost a year ago, but only recently got took it out of it’s shrink wrap.  I know, I know – wasted time I could have been getting fit.  C’est la vie.  The important thing is I’m getting healthy now.  I haven’t noticed much of a difference weight wise yet, but I do notice a difference in my appearance.

I’m still on workout one, largely because I’m a big fail at circuit 1.  I can do Circuits 2 and 3.  I can even do the harder versions of the exercise.  I just cannot manage a pushup for the life of me.  Even on my knees.   I’d say it’s because I have no arm strength, but I can do all the other arm exercises with the weights.  Although, to be fair, I do feel it, and one of the areas I think I see improvements is my arms.  I think I must have bad form with the pushups, and the added torque is just too much for me.

I was interested in Yoga too, so I figured I’d mix up the 30 day shred with her Yoga video.  Guess what? Chataranga pushups.  Eventually I will get stronger.  Or my arms will fall off.  One of the two.