Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Giveaway and that Wednesday Scale Thing

Having received a free extra copy of Sean Anderson's book Transformation Road : My Trip to Over 500 Pounds and Back, I've decided to pass it along to a lucky reader. 
Sean felt that he was tardy in sending out the copy of his book that I bought, so he added another signed copy in the mail. How nice is that? When I received it a couple of weeks ago I thought how can I return this favour? I figure the best way to pay him back is to pay it forward.

This is not a how-to lose weight book, rather a very honest chronicle of Sean's history with morbid obesity. Some passages were hard to read, especially the ones where he details the effects on his family. He writes with his authentic voice and if you've ever read his blog, it's that same honest writing you'll find in this book.

All you have to do is answer the following question in the Comments on this post:  

If you were to be a cast away all alone on a deserted island (with an iPod of course, ha ha!) which record would you choose to have with you?

I'm such a music lover and supporter of local musicians, I'm having a hard time answering this question! I'll give my answer with the winner's name next Friday September 26th.

  • The winner will be chosen by a random number generator
  • Entries close on Thursday 25 September 2014 at 11pm /EST
  • I'll send the book to wherever in the world the winner is located, even the South Pole :)
Since I'm a small blogger and am not doing any promotion to try to get a larger following, the chances of winning are good.

Other news, since it's Weigh-in Wednesday, I'm at 173.3 lbs. Slightly less than last week.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Scrambling and Wednesday Weigh-In

I've been scrambling in the kitchen since Monday and I don't like it. Basically, since I was on vacation for four days, I didn't have time to do much food prep for the work-week. Trying to grill fish in the morning on the Foreman grill while trying to dry my hair has been... interesting but mostly stressful. I should have done the prep before I left. Seriously I don't know what I was thinking. Just not thinking!  

Went to the grocery, stocked up on some eggs, meats and fish. I think all I had left was a can of tuna in the pantry and no other protein. I bought a couple of big chicken breasts, baked them tonight with a small amount of chili pepper flakes, garlic, coriander, cumin and a bit of cinnamon. Sort of Thai inspired seasoning. Had about 6oz of the chicken for supper on a bed of greens with some sweet potato fries, and I made a small amount of harissa mayo. 

Growing up as a latch-key kid in suburbia in the 80s, all I knew about mayonnaise was it came in a Hellmans jar. My mom, while a fab cook, when she was working full time she went for convenience and casseroles. It wasn't until I met my man's relatives who are French/Italian and into their traditional cookery that they told me mayo is basically just beaten eggs. Who knew? Since I still have some harissa paste left, I just beat it in with the eggs and the other ingredients (oil,vinegar, Dijon mustard, a little salt) and it made a mayo with a spicy kick.  

I'm still somewhat clueless about the basic techniques of cookery. Sure I can follow a recipe, but I mean knowing what various cuts of meat are best for and how to properly cook veggies to bring out their natural flavours. I'd like to take a course but the one I'd like to take is $ costly $. Since money is tight right now, I'm socking away a bit of my pay each month. One part of a cooking course I can skip is the desserts and baking part. Will not step anywhere in that minefield!

Weight-wise, down this week again. Not much, but that's about what I expected to have lost. Now at 173.7 lbs.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Have Passport, Will Travel

One thing I love to do is travel. I never used to be this way. But my man's enthusiasm for exploring the world is contagious.  And honestly, I figure since you only live once and it's better to live without regrets.  When my man said he was sick of the daily grind and the inconsistent weather, I agreed and we decided to plan a quick get-away. 

Money is tight right now so our limit was $50/per day for the both of us for four days. So that means a road trip to the good old U.S. of A. where gas and lodging are much cheaper than here Canada. After a 10hr drive we made it to the beach! We had great weather and hot temps while back home it was rainy and much colder.

My eating was not exactly on plan, had some fries and some chocolate, but I didn't go far off the rails and did not use the word "vacation" as an excuse to eat anything and everything. For most meals, we bought what we wanted at a grocery store, threw it in the cooler and headed for the beach for the day.  Salads and roast chicken and pre-cut veggies and some fruit as a snack for me; and cold cuts, cheese and bread for sandwiches for him. One night, we rinsed the sand out of our hair, got cleaned up had a fancy restaurant supper. He had the Chicken Parm, I had the grilled salmon and seasonal vegetables, no rice thank you very much.  

Even though my man and I agree to disagree about diet and nutrition, we have  an understanding to never ever sabotage one another's efforts. I'm not envious or craving in any way the food my man chooses to eat. I just know that my body does better on low carbs. When I used to eat a plateful of pasta, I'd feel so sleepy afterwards, like my energy was sucked right out of me. On this trip, I was able to have lots of fun in the ocean and swim and play in the waves on my boogie board and still have energy for a long evening walk along the beautiful coast.

Otherwise I got burnt to a crisp. Even with sunscreen. "Honey, please pass the aloe" :)

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Sore Muscles and Weigh In

Having replaced my morning walk with workout DVDs, I've really noticed how my overall fitness levels are not super great. Sure I can walk a long time without getting tired but I'm now working muscles that haven't worked together in a while. In my collection I have a few Jillian Michaels, a Bootcamp one with 12 different routines, and some yoga and pilates. This past week I was able to get in all my morning workouts and all my after work walks, plus T'ai Chi before bed. Weekend had two long walks. My day of rest was actually Labour Day, ha ha!

Weight wise, I'm at 174.9 lbs, so down from last week. What's working for me...

Lowering stress levels through:

  • Daily brisk walking in rain, shine, or snowstorms
  • T'ai Chi, easy yoga or pilates or light stretching before bedtime
  • Getting 7 hours of sleep per night
  • Speaking with a counsellor to gain insight into and to work through various personal issues 

Eating food as fuel:

  • Limiting all processed foods to a great extent
  • Limiting sugar
  • Limiting salt
  • Limiting grains
  • Limiting dairy (only lactose-free)
  • Organic when possible
  • Lots of variety of fresh veggies and some fruit from local sources

It helps that right now my life is not stress-filled as it was and have no medical issues. Even though I'm not losing weight at an astounding rate, I'm feeling these changes I'm making and have been making over the past while are permanent. Not only changes in daily habits but my true core beliefs about food.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Concert fun times

Went to an amazing concert tonight. I was on my feet for about three hours, jumping up and down and enjoying the show immensely. We also walked about an hour and a half after the show to get back to the car. Super nice walk with a great warm breeze.

Food-wise it was tough, I had three options: Have a quick and dirty supper before the show, have food on-site (over-priced street meat) or something healthy after the show. I waited until after the show, knowing I'd still be wired and fired-up, and went to a decent 24hr restaurant and had a mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado and grilled chicken. It hit the spot and I'm glad I waited! My man regretted having his fries and said he should have opted for a salad and sandwich instead.

Even in unusual circumstances, I can't let my guard down. Not for a second. Even though I delayed my meal several hours, I knew I would not regret making the healthy choice for me :)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Change of plan and Weighing in

My allergies are really getting the best of me these past few days. Worse than they've been in many years. This morning was the worst so far. While walking at a quick pace, after about 10 minutes, I started to sneeze, nose began to run, eyes itched and it just became awful after that. It took about a couple of hours and some extra medication to look presentable again. With ragweed pollen dominating the air around here and sunny breezy days propelling it everywhere, I have to retreat to the indoors.

Change of plan: Instead of a morning walk, I'm going to do some workout DVDs instead. I've got a handful in my collection that will fit in with the 30 minute time-frame I need. 

Schedule

  • I have to adjust my wake up time to 15 minutes earlier so I can catch the bus to work and get in this workout at home. 
  • Which means I have to adjust my bedtime too. 
  • I might have to prepare my breakfast in advance the night before. Omelettes aren't so great reheated in the microwave, but I'll adjust to that too.
About my after work walk, I'll have to take it day by day. It really relaxes me and clears my head, like a walking meditation of sorts... but if the pollen clogs my head and makes me miserable... I'll walk when I can, but if I decide not to, I'll hop on the elliptical first thing when I get home and blast some tunes to help shake off the work day. 

Food-wise: Keeping it to simple meals this week, like eggs, grilled trout, salmon, chicken, flavoured with spices or fresh herbs, and lots of local veggies and some blueberries bought at the market. 

Weight-wise: 175.5 lbs, so down from last week. Slow but steady wins the race :)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Protein Shake Experiment - 5 Day Challenge

My friend has a side-line as a rep for a company that among other things, sells protein powder. For the past while she's been bugging me to give the powders a try to really lose weight and to have lots of energy in the morning.

Rise and shine? Ha ha!  I am not, and never was, a morning person. Even as a toddler, my mother says I'd be the last one to get up and last to bed. It takes at least an hour, a cup of coffee and a cold shower to get me into a state where I can hold a logical conversation :)

Maybe twice a week, I do a protein shake for breakfast, but that is only if I'm still in dreamland and am on the verge of being late for work.  I usually add in extras like a small amount of berries and some greens like spinach or kale.

So my friend has been getting more than a little pushy with the products so I said, "We'll do a blind challenge like they do with colas". She thought it was an interesting idea too.  Another friend and an acquaintance of ours also sell similar type product but from different companies so she contacted the friends, got samples of two other protein powders, then she went to the healthfood store to buy sample sizes of a couple of other brands. She then transferred the powders in to small plastic tubs labelled 1 through 5 and provided instructions on the preparation for each. I used unsweetened almond milk as my liquid of choice and prepared them using my blender (as opposed to one of those plastic shakey cups).

From Monday to Friday morning this week at 7:30am, I've been drinking down a protein shake for breakfast. I'd have half a 2-cup glass at home, then do my brisk walk, then I'd sip the other half on the bus on the way to work.

Taste: 
  • All the shakes were palatable. 
  • The textures varied somewhat, some were smooth one was rough (even after re-blending in the blender) but I'm not that picky. 
  • Some tasted like they were trying to be something else, like chocolate, it almost was but couldn't get there.
  • A couple were too sweet for me
Digestive or allergenic issues: None.

Energy levels:
  • Each worked well at getting my energy up to the point were I could complete my walk in the time that I need to catch my bus. 
  • By the time mid-morning rolled around, that's where I could tell that the shakes can't compete with real food for breakfast. I'd start to get physically hungry as in stomach growling, I'd get tired and twice had to resort to eating part of my lunch early.


Results: None of the shakes really wowed me. They'll all just okay. 

I did pick number 3, the one with more texture, as the one I liked best, which turned out to be Garden of Life Raw Protein, vanilla flavour. My man had a taste and spat it out! Ha ha! Just goes to show you this is really all subjective. My friend was sad as this is not the result she anticipated.

Afterward I got to view the ingredients lists of all products. The one I chose passed my ingredients test, although it does have stevia. 

Some of the others had:
Sugar like fructose or sugar subsitutes;
Hidden ingredients: proprietary or exclusive blends;
Ingredients lists that were way too long.

If you think a protein powder or meal replacement shake is for you, do some taste testing and be sure to read the ingredients labels and watch out for hidden sugars: http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/how-to-spot-sugar-on-food-labels 

To put it into perspective, my breakfast this morning of a chanterelle mushroom omelette with a bit of fresh chervil, tarragon, chive and parlsey is a much better choice than any processed protein powder shake.  

I'm definitely going to make more of an effort to eat a real breakfast everyday!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wednesday Weigh-in

Since I had fun and was busy with friends, music and my man this past weekend, I've been left with a pile o'chores to do Monday, yesterday and today  after work:
  • Laundry (3 loads)
  • Light clean all over the house
  • Pull weeds
  • Mow lawn
  • Battle vines growing in hedge
Had to skip my brisk after-work walks three days in a row and I really missed it.  It's just a good way for me to clear my head after a long day in front of the computer and sort of wipes the mental slate clean of any work-related stress or particular worries I may have.  Just deeply breathing in the fresh air is just so relaxing...  except... it's allergy season for me! Achoo!

Ragweed is my sworn enemy!  It's like a having a cold from August to the first frost.  Itchy nose, sneezing, watery itchy eyes, and sometimes a tiny bit of asthma.  Over the years I've done shots, naturopathic drops under the tongue, other odd things friends have recommended, so now I'm not willing to spend any more money now on "miracle cures".  I just deal with it, always have tissues on me and try and limit the amount of anti-histamines I have to take as much as possible. 

So when I had to pull weeds yesterday, wearing thick rubber gloves, some of them were ragweed.  The kind we have here look like baby carrots, but when you pull them, you realise they are so not carrots, not at all.

As for weighing in, I'm at 177.2 lbs.  Up a wee bit from last week but I expected that.   Food-wise, I've been a little less vigilant than I should be with my portions.  I noticed last night that I was rushing my meal.  Even though I might have been hungry, at this point, there's no excuse for not taking time, slowing chewing and enjoying my meal.  

Being conscious and aware of what and how I'm eating during meals helps me stay focused. I remember when I was over 220 lbs, being in a daze during meals and during all those snacks... just shovelling it all in to fill a void. 

Exercise wise, as mentioned above, three missed 30-minute brisk walks and two missed pilates sessions. For the sake of my mental health and the great way I feel afterward, I just cannot skip out on these.

Next time I know I'm going to have a super busy weekend, I'll just whip up a schedule and actually list all the meals, activities, meet ups, workouts, and allot time for each. That way there will be no excuses, none :)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Weekend Shenanigans

This weekend was a bit of an exceptional one. Usually my weekends involve chores, meeting up with friends, activity and meal prep for the upcoming week.  This one didn't involve much of that. Since my man is a musician, his gigs usually happen in bars. This time, he was a featured artist during a sort of a 8-hour Music-a-Thon, so we spent a while in this particular drinking establishment. 

During the afternoon and evening, I was able to enjoy the other music acts and sipped on soda water (seltzer) with a squeeze of lemon. Once my man's set was over (he was in good voice and did great!!) we went out for a quick bite. We went for Asian: hot and sour soup, then some stir-fry chicken and veggies, no added salt, hold the rice, hold the noodles. When we returned to the venue to meet up with friends, see and support the rest of the bands, I got a little thirsty... gin and soda water thirsty! I don't drink often, but when I do, it doesn't take much to get a buzz. Let's just say that high spirits ensued! And mischief and shenanigans. But never giving into any crazy cravings for fries or other junk food!!  A good night was had. A very good night indeed!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Coffee is Deliciously Evil and Weigh-in

This week, I'm feeling more and more in tune with my body.  More conscious.  Probably because I'm sore all over!  ha!  But really, it's feeling the muscles activate as I move, keeping good form as I go through various exercises, standing taller, having more balance, being aware of my shape in a good way.  But... also feeling that fat jiggling during more vigorous cardio workouts... and knowing that excess has got to go. And it will go, only if I keep being consistent!

So I saw this number on my scale this morning. 
And I know this number is a lie. 4 lbs lost in a week? No. It is my weight, yes, but due to what I drank yesterday, I'm sure it's a dehydrated weight :

-  Four cups of coffee before 2pm 
 (it was fresh from Columbia and freaking delicious!) 
-  A mug of green tea at about 4pm 
-  Five cups of water total for the day

This makes for an extremely diuretic day!  And one I won't repeat any time soon.  I usually only have one cup of coffee in the morning, that's it.  Yesterday was a big mistake of drinking waaaaaay too much caffeine!  Once the evening came round I felt jittery and not even remotely sleepy or relaxed.  However, I got lots of extra exercise in by going up and down the stairs to go to the washroom:)

I've started again to weigh myself every morning, which I might actually stop, but record it only on Wednesdays.  Yesterday's number was 177.8 lbs.  I'm putting a virtual asterisk on today's weigh-in.

Food-wise there are all sorts of great deals at the market, got lots of interesting lettuces, zucchinis and this week I've indulged in "peaches and cream" variety of corn on the cob.  This is the only time of year that I have it because it's local and just tastes so good.  The rest of the year, I don't have it. Except if I pop some corn at home in the air popper and that's become more of a rarity now. 

Otherwise, my food template is about the same as last week.  I just like a menu that's easy to prepare in advance and, above all, to keep things simple.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Rollin' Along

Slowly but surely I'm adding activity back into my schedule. Although I feel like going full-throttle, that's just asking for an injury. I started off slowly but this week increased the time for some activities and will continue to increase the time or difficulty every week. I am feeling the after-burn of sore muscles. Right now it's shoulders and abs.

I also dusted off my roller skates and got in some laps around the rink.  It's been a while since my derby days and I'm more than a little rusty but I had fun. I'm just glad I didn't fall on my butt! But my glutes were sore for a couple of days afterward it actually hurt to sit down and get up.









So here's basically what I've been up to...

Work Week:
Before work 30 minute brisk walk downhill
Can't count on having time at lunch for exercise but if I can squeeze it in I do
After work 30 minute brisk walk uphill
Before bed stretching: Pilates, 20 minutes

Added 3x week:
Elliptical 15 minutes followed by...
Strength training and body weight exercises like those fun-time Burpees, 20 minutes

Weekend: 
1 hour or more brisk walk or could be a hike
Before bed stretching: Pilates, however long I need to stretch
Fun: 
Bike ride
Roller skating

As for eats, about the same:

Breakfast
Coffee with almond milk or lactose free milk 

Scrambled eggs with peppers and mushrooms 
or 
Smoothie (any protein powder without whey and without sugar, plus 1/2 cup berries, 1/2 banana with almond milk or lactose free milk)

Lunch:
Big salad with tomatoes, cukes, avocado and grilled chicken 
or
Left-overs from previous night's supper

Supper:
Stir fried veggies (broccoli, carrots, peppers) and chicken
or
Roast chicken and veggies (sweet potato, onions) on a bed of spinach or kale
or 
Baked fish with green beans or carrots or whatever looked good at the market
or
Grilled bison and a big salad with avocado
or 
Crock pot chicken thighs (no skin) in a Harissa sauce (North African hot chili pepper paste with tomatoes and herbs) on a bed of kale and/or with sweet potato
AM or PM Snacks:
Either a small fruit 
or 
Carrot and/or celery sticks with tuna
or
Organic sunflower seed butter on an apple 

Before bed:
Chamomile Tea


I'm still not eating raw nuts, still too triggering - I always end up eating more than I should.


To stave off crazy cravings, I still chew way too much Sugarless gum.

Being consistent with all this is the key and this is certainly do-able. I can always change this up depending on the schedule. 

As for weight, I'm at 180.1 lbs. Down from last week so I'm good with that. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Summertime Sadness and Getting Back on Track

The weather here has been very up and down. Sunny and warm, perfect days really, then the past few days cold and now rainy and autumn-like.  Actually I had some home-made chicken soup tonight for supper. I always keep some kind of soup in the freezer in case I get sick. This time the soup was a healthy comfort; it took the chill off almost everything.

I've been going through something difficult, so I'm feeling a lot of sadness, but sad without negativity. There are things I can't control. I have them go and have faith that things will work out for the best in the end. Finding true joy again will take time and dwelling and moping in negativity is not an option. I'm focusing on changing the things I can. Like taking care of my health and fitness.

The doctor gave me the go-ahead to resume an active lifestyle, so the plan is to slowly get back to brisk walks, get back on the elliptical, do some weight training and yoga/pilates. My body is at about the same weight as it has been for the past while, 181.7 lbs, but I feel so much less fit. My arms have quickly turned flabby and my body is so stiff. It's actually very scary how quickly this happened. 

I'm glad I'm more and more able to view food just as fuel not as something to fill a void. Will ice cream make my current situation any better? Nope, it'd just be added extra calories I don't need. Would chips or pizza make me happy? Nope, they'd just make me feel dehydrated and bloated because of all that salt.

We all face stresses and set-backs. It's the way you deal with them determines whether you've made progress or not.  I'm proud I have made progress.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Stasis

Have been taking things easy. A lot of couch surfing which is something I'm actually having a hard time dealing with. You'd think that watching episodes of various HBO shows wouldn't bore me, but honestly I'd rather be more active. The weather has been so nice lately, perfect weather really, I'd rather go for a swim or a hike, but have to take it easy and heal up for another five or six days. Gentle walking and beginner T'ai Chi has been it for exercise. 

Food-wise I'm eating lots of veggies and some locally grown fruit. Example delicious peaches! I could eat a whole basketful. Peaches trucked in from other countries taste mostly like cardboard. Made some crock pot pulled pork. I can't remember which other blogger had mentioned it and I've had a hankering for some since. I've cut my portion sizes in consequence of the lighter activity so I haven't gained this week :)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Weigh-in Wednesday (a little late!) and an update

I've been basically eating clean for the most part, and when I have indulged I've been making sure that the indulgence is actually worth the calories. 
Examples: 

1) I was offered a slice of grocery store cake with cheap ingredients that I had a hard time pronouncing = not worth it!  

2) Homemade raspberry pie made with locally grown organic berries = worth it and had a normal-sized slice, not a big one!

Been having some cravings on and off for Chester's Corn Twists, one of my long list of kryptonite foods. You know, the foods that can seriously derail you and throw you way way off track.  I think it's just stress. Even though I'm still on vacation, I've had a series of doctors appointments and have had a minor procedure done yesterday. The only exercise I can do for the next few weeks is walking. That's okay since that's my main exercise anyway.

Weight is still fairly steady at 182.5 lbs.  Honestly while I'm going through this medical stuff, I'm just trying my best not to gain. Not exactly the point of a weight-loss blog, but that's how it is for now. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

No Weigh-In this Week...

...because I got a last minute invite to a friend's cottage for a few days and am nowhere near a scale. And that's okay. I'm not over-indulging and have been  keeping active by walking and now swimming, canoeing and hiking. And I'm certainly sleeping soundly at night! 

I do appreciate this lovely tranquillity, fresh air and being far from the city. But this is a summer home rather than a seasonal cottage so it's not getting back to basics... by no means. Laundry, dishwasher, TV and wifi, so it's a very comfortable getaway. No sleeping on a slowly leaking mattress in a cramped tent this year LOL

I've also been catching up on some fun novel reading. I usually don't get much of a chance during the work week; these days it's maybe a few minutes before bed. The bus is way too crowded during the commute and truth be told, I've missed my stop once or twice on account of an interesting part in a book!

On the list:

-Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding 
(third Bridget Jones book and apparently most hated by fans? We'll see. I'm about half-way through now)
-The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick 
(same author as Silver Linings Playbook)
-A couple of Scandinavian mysteries
-And of course, a couple of smutty romances ;)