My Food Rules

Discovering the path the health by creating my own rules

Archive for the tag “healthy-living”

The 30-Day No Sugar Challenge!

I am returning from the blog-post death!  After 3 weeks of no posts I am back with a brand-new challenge to myself – no sugar for 30 days!  The details: No added sugars – all sugars, like honey, cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc – AND no no-calories sweeteners, like aspartame or stevia.  Fruit or other natural sugars, like those found in some dairy products, are not included in the challenge, although I am watching it.

What brought on this challenge, you may ask?  Two things.  First, through tracking on My Fitness Pal, I have noticed that I consistently eat way above what the app is recommending for sugar intake.  Even on the days that I didn’t eat something known to be sugary, like chocolate, I would eat 30-50 grams of sugar.  Since everything I read about sugar makes me believe that it is pretty much the devil food, I knew I needed to cut back.  Second, I way overate sugar on a recent trip home to the U.S. (we had dessert every night and my mom made two batches of cookies in the eight days I was home) and it left me feeling the need to rid my body of its sweet, granular residue.

Today is Day 7 of the 30-day challenge and with the exception of 10 minutes of weakness on Saturday that ending in me eating 3 Ferrero Roche’s, I have held to my challenge.  I am feeling really good – much better than the gut rot I woke up with multiple days during my trip home.   Knowing I’m challenging myself has made me stop several times from grabbing a sugary snack – I’ve held my hand back from the sweet biscuits at work, said no to a co-worker offering a chocolate-coconut treat, and eaten almonds instead of All-Bran and milk for a morning snack (Did you know that sugar is the #2 ingredient in All-Bran and 30% of its calories come from sugar?  I didn’t!).

Will I lose weight from only this challenge?  I’m not sure.  But I do know that it will challenge me to think of new snacks and new ways of cooking, which is always a positive!

Stay tuned for more updates on the no-sugar challenge!

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Weekly Weigh-In: Chaos!

If you’ve been following my blog, you may have realized that I didn’t write a post last week about my weekly weigh-in.  I did weigh myself, I just didn’t have time to actually write the post, so this week is going to be a two-for-one.  Last week I weighed-in at 143.  Not a complete shock that there was a bit of a gain after a 4-pound weight-loss the week prior that didn’t really make sense to me.  This week I expected it to be about the same – I had indulged a little more than necessary and exercised my heart out, which usually equals no gain/no loss.  But when I weighed in yesterday, the scale read 146.6.  WTF!?!?  How is it possible that I gained 5 pounds in two weeks?  Just for the sake of curiosity, I weighed myself this morning and today I am 144.4.  Clearly my body has absolutely no idea what it’s doing.

I’m not going to lie.  This roller coaster has left me frustrated, annoyed, and with an “I don’t care” attitude – a very dangerous place for me to be.  Case in point: Today I brought a very healthy chicken quinoa stir fry to work for lunch.  Did I eat it?  No.  Instead I chose to buy a turkey and brie toasted sandwich.  And then my colleague brought in a flourless chocolate cake from a French bakery and I had a piece of that, too!  (Let’s be honest.  The cake was amazing and I would have eaten it regardless of my current attitude.  But a small piece of chocolate cake sandwiched into a day of eating excellently isn’t too bad.  But when followed by a lunch that included brie, it is no good.)

I need to get myself out of this funk.  I’ve lost somewhere between 6 and 11 pounds.  I don’t want to go back to a loss of zero pounds, which is what will happen if I continue to eat like I did today.  I can’t control the number on the scale, but I can control what I eat and how I exercise.  I know the decisions I made today were not healthy.  I also know that eating well will lead to overall good health, a long-life (and more importantly, a high quality of life!), feeling great, sleeping well, and being able to hike up mountains – regardless of what the scale says.  I need to continue to track my calories because that is my accountability right now (I even tracked today, with some guesses on the calories in the sandwich and cake), but before eating I also need to ask myself: Will this make me feel good?  If the answer is no – whether it be a piece of chocolate cake or one too many celery sticks (gurgle, gurgle) – then I shouldn’t eat it.  Easier said than done, I know, but I think it’s a good filter.  For the next week I commit to asking myself that question before putting anything in mouth.  If nothing else, I think it will cause me to become more mindful that I am actually making a decision when I eat.  I’m not just eating a cracker because I’m passing by the jar in the kitchen at work.  I’m not consuming chocolate just because a co-worker bought some to share.  I will pause, ask myself if the food will make me feel good, and then I will proceed.  Conscious.  I’ll report back next week on how it goes!

Weekly Weigh-In: Entering a Whole New Territory

This is how I feel writing this blog post today:

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That’s me in February on top of Mount Amos overlooking Wineglass Bay in Tasmania.  The view was, without a doubt, one of the best of my life.  It was a short, but challenging hike to arrive at the top – we literally climbed on our hands and knees in sections to scramble straight up the rock face (and then had to butt-scoot back down!).  But it was worth every step for that view.

And so goes my weigh-in today.  141.6 pounds!  Not only is that a 4-pound loss from last week, but I can officially say I have never been this thin in my entire life.  That’s right – the last time I weighed 141 pounds I was 12-years-old and an inch or two shorter than I am today.   It’s a whole new territory and I don’t know what to expect.  I think that most people who have gained weight have an idea in their mind of a time they were comfortable with their weight and a specific number where they felt good about their bodies.  I have no such anchor, no number that I am striving towards on the scale.  I’m just meandering along, waiting to see how my body changes and at what point I feel good and want to stop.  I know that I’m not there yet, but that end point feels within reach like it never has before.

I think it’s worthwhile to stop for a moment and reflect upon what has changed to supercharge my weight loss.  First, I need to point out that I don’t expect this rapid weight loss to continue.  In fact, if I lose no weight next week I wouldn’t even be frustrated.  For some reason my body is shedding weight right now and I will ride the wave as long as possible, but I know that it will inevitably slow down or even plateau before I hit whatever my goal weight will be.  But there have been significant changes in my behaviors in the last few weeks:

  1. Tracking: As I mentioned in my last post, I started tracking my food intake on My Fitness Pal.  Honesty in, results out.
  2. Choosing Veg: I have been eating beans instead of meat.  I made Mexican lasagna on Sunday with pumpkin and black beans instead of beef (recipe to be posted soon!).  I am eating salads with lentils instead of chicken.  I often start my day with eggs, refried beans, and salsa.  250 calories and it packs such a punch of protein and fiber that I don’t need to eat for hours!  I have read that beans keep your blood sugar steady and I find it amazing how slowly I get hungry when I eat a lot of legumes.  The hunger comes on gradually over many hours.  I’ll notice a twinge and an hour later be only slightly hungrier.  Compare that to before when hunger attacked!   I also simply feel lighter when I consume a large amount of beans, veggies, fruits, and yogurt.  Yes, it does take a bit for the digestive system to get used to that much fiber and I definitely wouldn’t recommend incorporating beans into every meal overnight, but my system adjusted quickly and now my body is happy.  Aside from losing weight, feeling good day-to-day is its own reward.
  3. Strength Training: Six weeks ago I met with a personal trainer to redesign my weight routine.  I had been doing the same thing for months and my body wasn’t challenged anymore.  She gave me a quick routine and each exercise works multiple muscle groups.  It only takes 20 minutes and by the end I am dripping with sweat and I can feel every single muscle I have worked.  Because my heart rate stays high, I am getting cardio at the same time as strength.  Not only is this good for immediate calorie burning, but I believe that I am starting to get the long-term calorie burning effects of having more muscle.  I am burning more calories all day long!

Weekly Weigh-In: Back on Track!

You may have noticed that I did not write a weekly weigh-in post last week.  After having a minor cold for about 5 weeks, everything took a turn for the worse and I ended up at the doctor with prescriptions for a dual-antibiotic mix and an inhaled steroid.  Lovely.  For five days life was limited to working, sleeping, and eating.  No staying up past my bedtime to write the latest post – I needed to get better!  Working out became walking to and from work (still 80 minutes of activity a day) instead of walking to walk in the morning and then going to the gym for hard exercise in the evening.  I’m still not at 100%, but each day I feel better and I’m starting to realize how much that ongoing cold was dragging me down.  I have more energy, I’m happier, and my workout today had punch!  I was only on the stationary bike and treadmill, but I was gritting and pushing it and loving every second!

I’m also happy to announce that my weight this week is 145.6 pounds.  Yeah!  That is a total loss of 7 pounds since I started My Food Rules at the beginning of April.  I feel like I am back on track.  I’m experimenting with different foods, eating more vegetarian meals, and my cravings for chocolate and bread have decreased.  I also started tracking my food intake again.  After years of Weight Watchers I was tired of tracking, but following my last blog post about the frustration of working hard and not losing any weight, a friend emailed me with a suggested weight-loss program to try.  While I don’t want to do the exact program he recommended, one thing he wrote struck a chord with me – the program determines how many calories you should eat based on your activity, height, etc.  You eat those calories and then exercise to burn more, go into calorie deficit and lose fat.  Simple, yes, but it made me realize that I was probably consuming more calories than I realized.  I started tracking my food on My Fitness Pal on Saturday and have been eating between 1200-1600 calories per day, depending on exercise and hunger levels.  Let me tell you – for me to feel satisfied on that number of calories takes some planning!  There’s no room for chocolate because I need those calories to feel full!  I know that I won’t track forever, but right now it is bringing me greater awareness to my behaviors.  We can only change once we see and understand the obstacles in our way and tracking is one tool to helping me to move past the obstacles towards my goals.

I’m looking forward to the week ahead.  I hope you have a great week as well!

Weekly Weigh-In: Finding Success Without Results

I want to lie and tell you that I had a great week at the scale, but the truth is I’m annoyed.  I followed through on my action plan and I went 5 entire working days chocolate free – a major feat with a stash readily available less than 15 feet from my desk.  I ate carrots, apples, yogurt, and popcorn for snacks.  I ate my one meal of indulgence and it wasn’t even all that indulgent.  After a 4-hour hike on Sunday, my hiking partners and I went to a café.  Carrot cake, hot chocolate, a blueberry muffin, and a chocolate muffin were all ordered.  I had a peppermint tea.  I worked hard and I was happy with my decisions.  This is why it was so frustrating to get on the scale and see a downward movement of only .2 pounds.  There is a part of me that wonders why I put in so much effort for virtually no result.  If I’m not going to lose weight anyway, why not eat chocolate?

But I have to ask myself – is this only about what is on the scale?  Before getting on the scale on Tuesday morning, I was pleased with the week.  I made healthy choices.  I ate fruits and veggies, worked out 6 days, walked to work 4 days, and enjoyed a walk by the bay and a hike to a waterfall on what may have been the last warm weekend of the autumn.  Isn’t this success?

Over a year ago I bought a pair of pants at The Limited.  The store clerk convinced me that they were the right size.  Although they did fit well in the legs, the muffin top that ensued was both unsightly and uncomfortable.  I can now wear those pants and a tight shirt with comfort, ease, and no visible muffin top.  Isn’t this success?

I was on the elliptical trainer last week and in my reflection I could see my biceps flex with each pull of the arm handles.  These biceps didn’t exist six months ago before I started my weight-training program.  Isn’t this success?

Today I find success in the small achievements.  I’m still frustrated that the number on the scale didn’t move, but I will get over it.  If it continues to stay put, I will reassess my goals.  But for now, all I can do is make decisions every day to become the best, healthiest version of myself that I can be, no matter what the scales tells me.

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