Sunday, February 26, 2017

Felt Off This Week

I felt like I was just a little off this week.  We had a storm blow in, my back and shoulders were really tight, so I didn't go to the gym on Thursday and Friday.  Today, instead of buying an exercise bike, as I have been considering, I bought a new bass guitar from Sweetwater.com that I've been eyeballing for about two years.



Choices were made.

I really don't want this reaction to happen.

I was thinking about what I can be doing to get myself back on-track.
  1. Tan at the gym.   I like tanning at the gym.  It makes me feel better.  I'm a slow tanner, but when I do get some color, it's a nice Mediterranean olive tone (thanks Greek genes!).
  2. Salad for lunch.  I've been doing this and it gets me out of the office for 15-20 minutes, depending on weather and traffic.
  3. Create a new gym playlist.  Nothing like a new music playlist on the ipod to get you motivated!
I would say "get some new workout clothes", but I just bought that bass guitar and I get that "after purchase, future purchase guilt"...like I shouldn't buy anything else for...I don't know....a month?

Readers: Any suggestions on tanning lotion that gives you a faster tan?  Suggestions for music for a gym playlist?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thorny Thursday & Paleo Coffee Mousse

Sometimes I really hate Thursday.  It's not Friday, you still have to go in the next day for work, and sometimes it just sucks.  I woke up with my neck and back all achy and stiff, so I started my day with 3 advil.  By 10am, I took 2 more advil.  It was just a lousy way to start the day and needless to say, I did not go to the gym.  I don't usually have random back and neck pain, so I'm going to point to the sky and say that it's due to the pressure change and the snow that started yesterday.

To help make it better, I went with my sister to drop off my nephew at school and we swung by Breugger's Bagels.  I didn't get a bagel, but I did get a 16oz black coffee - "French Toast" coffee.  It smells delicious and it is delicious.  Why am I bringing this up?  I am on the search for a delicious paleo coffee dessert, but I'm not finding anything that is really sounding good.

Here's what I'm going to make and I'll just wing it.


Paleo Coffee Mousse
1 can Coconut Cream, Thai Kitchen brand
1-1/2 TBSP Instant Espresso (stronger than instant coffee)
2 TBSP Honey
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

For cafe mocha mousse, add in 2 TBSP cocoa powder and 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips.

1. Open the can of coconut milk.  You will want to refrigerate it overnight (place in tupperware or just put some saran wrap over it), or get lucky by getting a can that's already separated.  I suggest Thai Kitchen canned coconut milk for this because it separates nicely.  I generally get Parrot brand in a six-pack from Sam's Club, so yes, I go out of my way to get a whole other brand just for how it separates.  What you want from this can of coconut milk is the solids after it separates.  Use a spoon and scoop the solids into a bowl.
2. Add in the instant coffee, honey, and vanilla, then mix everything together.  I suggest a handheld mixer or using a blender.
3. Pour the mixture into whatever container(s) you want to serve it in and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until set up.

This is pretty rich, so 1 can is probably good for at least 2 servings.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Paleo Mud Cookies

This is my test batch.  These look like some little kid's mud pie mixture straight from the playground.  I thought they would expand a little more, but they didn't.  I topped each cookie with 4-6 large grains of red Hawaiian salt.

These are chocolate-y, but not super sweet and pair nicely with strong tea or black coffee.  These are fast to make.  I think I spent more time waiting for the oven to heat up than I did getting the batter ready.

Paleo Mud Cookies
1-1/4 cup Almond Flour
1/2 cup Coconut Flour
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips, dark
1/3 cup canned Coconut Milk
2 TBSP Honey, raw
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
1-1/2 TBSP Cocoa Powder

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix everything together.
3. Either on parchment paper or a silpat mat, spoon out 12-16 heaping spoonfuls of mixture.
4. Bake for 15 min.

Negative Calorie Foods

You might have heard about Negative Calorie Foods.  These are foods that require more energy to burn them, than they provide, resulting in negative calories. Consuming Negative calorie foods will burn more calories in chewing and digestion process as compared to the calories they provide for the body. Eating these foods will create a calorie-deficit in the body, ultimately helps in weight loss. This theory is called the negative calorie effect.

It's easy to get tired of the same old snack food, so be sure to switch things up.  Try: Apple slices (plain or with almond butter), a handful of crunchy green beans, radishes (raw or roasted), slice of watermelon, an orange, a fruit and veggie smoothie, celery (plain or with almond butter), a small salad, a small fruit salad, cucumber slices, etc.
Negative Calorie Herbs/Spices
  • Anise
  • Cayenne
  • Chili peppers
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander/Cilantro
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Fennel seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Garden cress
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Parsley
  • Mustard seeds
  • Watercress
I have a fantastic chip-replacement recipe for you.  I haven't made them in a while, so I don't have my own photo to show you.  I did swipe one from the internet to show you.

Zucchini Chips
1-4 Zucchini, depending on amount you want
Sea Salt, or other spices/herbs you prefer

1. You can use an oven or a dehydrator.  If you use an oven, preheat to 225F.  For a dehydrator, you will set it to 135F.
2. Slice your zucchini VERY thin.  A mandolin slicer is recommended.  Take your time.
3. Put them into a plastic bag with whatever you want for seasoning like sea salt (for plain) or something more flavorful like chili powder or salt/pepper, etc.  Shake it up to coat the zucchini.
4. Lay out the zucchini rounds on a dehydrator tray or on parchement paper on an oven sheet.
5. For oven time, bake for 1 hour, flip the chips over and bake for another 20 minutes or until crispy.  For the dehydrator, I've seen times range from 6 hours to 12 hours.  I tend to check on my dehydrator while it's dehydrating food.  I think it also depends on the thickness of the slices - thin slices are faster.

I think dehydrators are great.  It does take a while for them to do their job, but you can make your own jerky, dehydrate fruits and veggies, make fruit roll ups, etc.  I highly recommend dehydrating watermelon.  It is very addictive.  Search pinterest for more ideas.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Reading The Nutrients Label

Click to Enlarge
No one asked, but I thought I'd talk about the Nutrition Label that you see on packaging and some related stuff.  The image above does a fairly decent job of explaining things, but what ARE these things?  I'll just go from top to bottom and I'm going to reference the next two images.
Broccoli
Mac & Cheese

Serving Size - Each item you pick up that has a Nutrition Facts label will have a serving size.  You might consume a drink that is technically supposed to be 2 servings.  A box of macaroni and cheese, while yes you can eat the whole thing, is technically meant for 4 people (at 310 calories a serving, a whole box of Kraft Mac & Cheese is 1240 calories).

Servings Per Container - This is how many servings you are supposed to get out of the food item you are consuming.

Calories - In the UK, they have this labeled as "Energy".  Calories indicate the amount the energy needed for the body to burn the food.  Think of food as types of energy.  Mac & Cheese is a low quality fuel.  It takes a 310 calories to burn 3.5oz (according to the nutrition label), while 1 cup (8 oz) of broccoli only takes 30 calories to burn.  In order to burn calories, you have to expend that energy (by moving like with exercise).  The next few items are a general breakdown of the calories.

Daily Percentages - The daily percentage is always based on a 2000 calorie daily diet.  If you do not eat a 2000 calorie daily diet, it does not apply to you.

Total Fat - There are a few different types of fats out there and not all fats are bad.  Unsaturated Fat is generally broken into monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fat.  Saturated Fat, usually found in animals fats (such as cream, dairy products, fatty meats, lard), some vegetable oils (coconut oil and palm kernel oil), and some prepared foods (pizza, dairy desserts, sausage).  Monounsaturated fat is typically found in red meat, whole milk items, nuts, and fatty fruits like avocado and olives.  Polyunsaturated fat is typically found in nuts, seeds, fish, algae, leafy greens, and krill.  Trans fat are not usually found in nature (it's very minimal) and are essentially a man-made fat.  They increase a number of health risks and should absolutely be avoided.

Fat isn't all bad.  It is a source of energy for the body, but the body will store what it doesn't currently need (as in the case of eating too much fat).

Cholesterol - Cholesterol affects cells, natural steroid hormones, and bile acids.  Cholesterol is separated into LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) on blood tests.  You can think of LDL as purposeful grease for your arteries and cells, while HDL is the crud that ends up mucking things up.  Cholesterol helps to move fat around the body, so you need some cholesterol - just like you need some fat.

Sodium - Dietary sodium is used to regular pH in the body, blood pressure, blood volume, and something called osmotic equilibrium.  It's generally thought that 2300 mg of sodium should be the limit for an adult per day; 1500 mg is the limit for adults with high blood pressure.  Too much sodium can result in high blood pressure, off-balanced pH, hypertension, and other problems.

Carbohydrates - Like everything else, there are good carbs and bad carbs.  Carbohydrates are another source of energy for the body.  It includes sugars, starches, and fiber.  Low-carb diets (like Paleo and Atkins) typically restrict the amount of carbs and the "high sugar and/or high starch" carbs, relying more on Fats and Proteins for energy.  Simple carbohydrates are easily broken down for immediate energy and are found in fruit, milk items, sugar, processed foods, and vegetables.  Complex carbohydrates are found in starchy vegetables, grains and grain items (bread and pasta), and legumes.  Low-carb diets generally allow you to have some fruit, vegetables, and limited milk items; sometimes some starchy vegetables are allowed in moderation.  Fiber is often the misunderstood carb.  Fiber helps you out by helping to lower cholesterol, normalize bowel movements, maintain bowel health, lower blood pressure, and with weight loss.  The Mayo Clinic recommends adult men to have 38 g daily and women to have 25 g daily.  It won't make you run to the bathroom, but when you have to poop you will definitely poop.  Some folks think that's gross, but seriously, do you want to hang on to that poop?  That's really gross.

Protein - Protein is how we get standard and essential amino acids.  This is how the body gets nitrogen, which our body needs.  It goes towards building muscle, forming hormones, antibodies, forming hemoglobin, etc.  Meat is generally where you find protein, but you can also find protein in legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Vitamins and Minerals - These are written almost as a footnote.  You will have to do your own research on this since there are so many vitamins and minerals out there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Insomnia

Along with my diagnosis of Adrenal Exhaustion, I was diagnosed by the local sleep clinic as having Insomnia.  I haven't really mentioned it until now, but I thought that maybe I should.

My insomnia doesn't keep me awake 24 hours a day or anything.  I just have trouble staying asleep.  You might think that doesn't sound like a big deal, but I literally will wake up (to a fully awake state) just about every hour during the night.  Its important to note the "fully awake state" because if it was like a half-awake state, I guess it wouldn't be so bad or something?   I don't know.  For me, this was just the norm since it's been going on since I can remember.

I'm currently taking a 10mg Melatonin (the strong stuff) every night, though I often don't take it on the weekends - in an effort to give my body a break from the pill reliance.  The weekends suck because I return right back to my insomnia issues.

In case you're wondering what this has to do with my Size 4 Quest, a lack of sleep creates stress on your body (whether you feel it or not) and your cortisol gets screwed up.  This can act against you when trying to drop size and/or lose weight.

What are your thoughts on insomnia?

Confession: Yesterday, I ate an apple danish at work.  I felt guilty for the rest of the day.  I was also surprised that I didn't get a headache from the bad carbs.  Today, I did not go to the gym.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you have spent any time on pinterest looking for weightloss tips, you have probably come across something regarding Apple Cider Vinegar.  I thought I'd spend a little time talking about why people, who are trying to lose size and/or weight, drink it.  Yes, drink it.

The basic solution is: 8oz Water + 1-2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar + 1 spoonful Honey (optional)

IMPORTANT: I highly suggest NOT drinking this on an empty stomach.  I've tried it because it was recommended and it always makes me feel sick.  I suggest drinking this with food or just after eating.


I recommend Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.  You can find it at just about any grocery store.  If it's not with the regular vinegar, then check the health food area.  You can always use cheap apple cider vinegar (ACV), but quality does matter and you won't be getting as many benefits as you would with something akin to Bragg's ACV.

I always feel better when I start having an ACV drink each day.  I can't quite place what exactly is different, but there is a definite difference.

I have some ACV drink suggestions to make it a little more palatable, if you can't stand the basic mixture.

Pineapple ACV = 1 small can Pineapple Juice* + 2 TBSP ACV

Apple A Day = 8 oz Apple Juice + 1-2 TBSP ACV + 1 spoonful Honey

Citrus ACV = 6 oz Citrus Juice (orange, grapefruit, etc) + 2 TBSP ACV

Berry Good = 6 oz Water + 2 TBSP Cranberry Juice + 1 TBSP ACV

*Pineapple juice is supposed to be super good for you.  It is supposed to help reduce inflammation, natural antibacterial, clears up acne, evens out skin tone, prevents bacterial infections, fights aging, reduces sun damage, natural cough suppressant, regulates the thyroid, assists in weight loss, eliminates toxins, and is a digestive aid.

There are a few lines of ACV drinks available.  Bragg's has a line of drinks.  I just found a line called Suja Drinking Vinegar that I really like.  I've been having one with my salad at lunch.


Have you tried Apple Cider Vinegar?  What differences did you notice?  

I find that I can only stick with it for 1-2 months at a time.  I've also found that I prefer to either drink it more concentrated (so I just have like two or three gulps), with pineapple juice, or some kind of store-bought drink (I get a little worried about the quality of vinegar).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I Log Everything

When it comes to getting serious about dropping size, I start logging everything.  I have a paper log documenting my exercise that I will hand over to my doctor.  I track the date, distance, minutes, and calories (from what the machine tells me).  I also keep a digital exercise and food log with MyFitnessPal.com  You might have noticed the weight goal counter on the sidebar.  I'll update it when I go in next week.

One of the great things about My Fitness Pal is that you can connect with friends via facebook or by email.  If you want to connect with me, just use my email address: jessiedesmond@rocketmail.com  Another great thing about My Fitness Pal is that you can set your dietary preferences.  I have a low carb diet, so my percentages are set to Carbs 30%, Fats 40%, and Protein 30%.  By "fat", I'm aiming for healthy fats.  That's where I get my energy.

My current log for today!
Why Log Stuff?
I often see an eye roll or that "you've got to be kidding me" sort of look when I mention that I log my exercise and food every day.  I've logged my food and exercise, off and on, since 2007.  It helps me keep track of what I consume and how much extra energy I expend.  My goal is running 4 days a week and trying to eat like 1000 calories or more each day.  You laugh, but there are not many calories in a salad, even a big salad.

Since I've had body issues since puberty, early on I started telling myself "you're not hungry, just thirsty".  This trained me to automatically seek water, tea, or coffee before seeking food.  Now I just eat when I'm hungry, but my mind still considers fluids first.  This is something that really starts to stand out with a food log and I have to ask myself "Do I eat enough food?"   I'm going to ask my doctor the next time I go in.

To help remedy this, I started adding a simple protein smoothie in the evening.  I use 1-1/2 scoops of vanilla Muscletech protein plus powder, 1 cup almond-coconut milk, and 1/3 cup blueberries.  I drink it as I'm making dinner.  It helps vanquish any evening hunger pangs that might creep up.

One thing that gets commented on is the "keeping track of what I eat" statement.  You know what?  It's real easy to forget about the little things.  Perhaps a co-worker brings in doughnuts or you decide to switch things up and grab a candy bar to have with lunch or you visit your mom and have something that you don't normally have (in my case, toast with loads of butter).  It's easy to not include that as being part of what you ate because it's a little out of the norm.

Can It Be Made Simple?
Sure.  I'm a single, not-looking-to-date sort of gal.  I have two dogs.  I have found that I tend to have a few meals that I know works.  I don't go over on carbs or fats or proteins.  I keep it simple during the week and try to plan for some different meals for the weekend, so I don't get burned out.  I'm sure you can do this with a family.  It's easy to dress up simple food with various spices and sauces.

Staple sauces and spices I tend to always have: tartar sauce, mustard, bbq sauce, A-1, hot sauce, oregano, parsley, chili powder, cumin, ground mustard, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon.  You can do a lot with this selection.  I'm not counting garlic as a spice, but I have that too.  I can make something Italian or Greek or Mexican.  I can just use sauce with meat.  You get it, right?

You might think it's a pain to update your My Fitness Pal, but (seriously?!) how often do you check your email and facebook and everything else your on?  Right.  There's an app for your phone, making it super easy to just plug in your meals, even when you're at the office or on vacation.

What Should My Dietary Preferences Be?
The simple answer is: I don't know.  My Fitness Pal has a general setting to it, but I don't know how you eat.  I eat a restricted paleo diet.  My body will not handle the majority of tubers (like carrots, sweet potato, turnips, etc) which are supposed to be eaten in small increments on the standard paleo diet - but you see sweet potato recipes all over the freakin' place.  That's a rant I can save for later.  Anyway, you need to figure out how you should be eating.  Maybe you're a person who does better on whole grains, maybe you're vegetarian or vegan or on a raw food diet.  Your dietary percentages are going to be different from mine - unless you eat like me.

I recommend talking to a doctor.  Have some blood work done.  Make sure you're levels are where they are supposed to be and eat accordingly.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Size 4 Quest

I realize that I have been on...essentially a hiatus.  I just needed a break.  I'm back and I have a new quest: to get back down to a size 4.

I know that there are readers out there who are thinking: "Just be happy with the size you're at.  You're beautiful..."  I hate it when people say that shit.  I do not like being fat.  I do not like having to figure out how to "hide that roll".

This is how I feel.
I am 5' 3-1/2" tall.  I am roughly 200 lbs.  I have spent a lot of time in my life working out and lifting weights, so my weight is going to be higher than a regular person.  I fully accept that.  For a long time I worked out until I finally went in to have my thyroid checked.  Turns out I had a hypothyroid.  I keep it in check through diet and exercise.  After that, I got myself down from a 12/14 to a 4/6 and I felt absolutely fantastic.  For my frame, a size 4 looks pretty good and I felt very healthy.  Due to stress primarily, I found out that I currently have adrenal exhaustion.  This is why, for the last two years or so, I have been gaining size and having a tough time reducing.  I don't even know what size I currently am - I think a 10/12?  My pants are stretchy and ambiguously say Medium on the tag.

Of course, step one for this was getting my butt to the doctor.  I don't use a standard doctor, I prefer the natural medicine doctors who advocate eating properly, exercise, and the use of supplements until you are A-Okay.  A good example is my hypothyroidism.  I avoided having to be on any permanent meds (which is common for anyone who goes to a regular doctor) by taking a regiment of special thyroid supplements for a quarter, until my thyroid levels returned to normal.  This was also hand-in-hand with eating paleo and exercising 5 days a week.

I am super happy that I don't have to dish out money every month for thyroid medicine.

My doctor said that due to my adrenal exhaustion, I should keep the exercising minimal and definitely NOT high intensity.  My 30 minute run at the gym is perfect.  At least, I don't have to switch that up.  Apparently, the high intensity exercise, on top of the stress that induced the glandular malfunction, only helped to shut things down a little faster.  I'm totally okay with my morning run.  I tend to run about 3.85-4.0 miles in 30 minutes.

Food-wise, I've been trying to keep it simple.  I tend to have eggs in the morning.  I take a break for lunch and get myself a bag of salad.  I have an early dinner of fish or chicken and broccoli.  I tend to have raisins, nuts, a cube of crystallized ginger, or nice cream for an after dinner snack.  I realize that I could buy 5 bags of salad for the week, but it is kind of nice stepping away from the workplace around lunch.

Rewards
I work well with a reward system, as I have found.  I drop a pants size, maybe I get a pair of shoes or new pants or whatever.  I also reward myself, after dropping at least 2 pants sizes, by getting rid of those larger items in my closet.  I just bag it up and drop it off at Salvation Army on my Saturday errand running.  There is a great sense of relief when I do this, so I recommend that other people give it a go.  It's like telling yourself that you can't wear those big clothes because you are smaller now.

In the last two weeks I have realized that I desperately need a vacation.  My new ultimate reward is to get down to a 4/6 and take myself on another trip to London (my favorite city ever).  On my quest to reach a size 4/6, I plan on getting some new pants, a new dress, and a new pair of shoes.

Readers
In my evenings and spare time, I have been avidly working on writing projects.  This means that I sit on my ass for most of the day.  I was thinking about getting a cheap exercise bike.  Any recommendations?  Suggestions?  My thought was that I could get on and ride for an episode of some tv show, just to get me active in the evening.

In an effort to keep it simple, I'm finding that I absolutely need variation.  Does anyone have any suggestions for quick, paleo, party-of-1 dinners?  I literally just have a bowl of broccoli while I wait for my plain fish or plain chicken to cook, which I then use some sort of dipping sauce.

I will keep blogging about this since it seems to keep me more focused on eating properly and staying on task.  I am always up for suggestions and questions and comments.