Monday, June 19, 2017

Weight Loss 101 - The Stall and Whoosh Effect


Third in the "Weight Loss 101" Series, I will be talking about adipose (not the cute little guys from Doctor Who, but the real life adipose). I will explain to you the Stall and Whoosh Effect, and why you may not be losing weight.. or at least *think* you aren't losing weight. This information could save your whole diet!

You’ve been sticking to your diet to the letter. You’ve been working out, counting calories, and have created a deficit. You step on the scale and nothing; the needle hasn’t budged. Another week passes. You’re weighing and logging everything you put in your mouth. You up the intensity of your workout. You just *know* this week you’re down a pound at least. Weigh in day comes, and still nothing. Not one ounce is gone. This is a frustrating thing that happens to all dieters. It is what causes so many to give up and go back to eating like they used to. You begin to rationalize, “I’m older now and my metabolism is too slow to lose weight”. “It must be my thyroid”. “My body just can’t slim down”. Before giving in and downing half of a Supreme thick crust pizza, let me tell you about something called “stall and whoosh”.

Adipose cells, also known as fat cells, are responsible for storing unused energy. This energy is stored inside the adipose in the form of triglycerides, or what we call fat. Fat isn’t a bad thing. Fat cushions our body, gives us shape, keeps us warm, and keeps our body running when we aren’t eating. We all need fat in order to live, and our body is programmed to keep those fat stores “just in case”.

When we diet or exercise, and there is no fuel in the blood stream to feed our other cells, such as the brain, liver, and lungs, the adipose cells release triglycerides into the blood stream. Those droplets of fat are used by the other cells in order to function, and when the triglycerides are converted, we eliminate whatever isn’t used as fuel by exhaling and through urination. This is what we refer to as “burning fat”.

Adipose cells deflate when they are emptied of fat, but they are also programmed to attempt to keep their size and shape for the next anticipated deposit. The way they keep their size is that they absorb water and hold that in place of the fat that they just released. When the adipose are satisfied that they no longer need to hold space open for fat stores, the water is absorbed back into the body and is then eliminated.

What is going on with a stall and whoosh is that you have burned the fat by diet and/or exercise. The water that the adipose is storing replaces that fat, making it look as if you haven’t lost weight, but you have. When the water is finally eliminated, there is a “whoosh” and you wake up the next morning weighing 3-6 lbs less than you did the day before.

There are a couple of signs that you can look for which are clues you are in a stall and whoosh cycle. Check your measurements. If you are losing inches but not weight, it’s a good indicator. Water weighs more than fat, so the inches could be gone, yet you would weigh the same thing (or even more). Another indicator is that your fat feels “squishy” or “loose”. Fat has a different texture than water and moves differently. If your belly or thighs (or wherever you store the most fat) feels extremely squishy or jiggly compared to normal, it is likely water that is being stored.

There are a few theories on how to trigger a “whoosh”. One theory is to up your sodium content temporarily. Sodium absorbs water and would allow the body to flush out the extra water. Alcohol is another theory. As a diuretic, drinking hard alcohol and staying within your daily calorie allowance could help flush out the water. Some say that carb loading for a day is a good way to get the adipose to release the water. I have tried all three of these with varied results.

The one thing that I know works every time is to stay the course, don’t eat the half of a Supreme pizza, and just allow the adipose to do their thing. If you are continually creating a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. Don’t let water retention prevent you from reaching your goals. Understand it, accept it, and wait it out. You can do this.

Friday, June 16, 2017

40 Things That Happen When You Lose Weight



I’ve been on my weight loss journey since September. It is now June. It hasn’t been particularly hard, and it really hasn’t taken that long considering the amount of weight I had to lose. I’ve lost nearly 80 lbs so far. So many things have changed in my life within the past nine months. Some things are great. Some things aren’t so good. There are pros and cons to everything that we do. I think my pros have outweighed my cons by a lot. If you’re toying with the idea of starting a diet and exercise program, read this list. It may give you the motivation you need.

Here is a list of 40 things that happen when you lose weight.

1. You look homeless until you can buy new clothes because none of your clothes fit right.

2. You have several people ask you if you are losing weight and how you are doing it.

3. People tell you how great you look.

4. Some will try to sabotage your weight loss progress by tempting you with food.

5. All of a sudden everyone becomes concerned with you “starving yourself”, even if you’re still 50 lbs. overweight.

6. You start looking at yourself in the mirror more often.

7. You can actually fit into an airplane seat.

8. Your legs can actually cross.

9. Your thighs stop rubbing together when you walk.

10. Your rings no longer fit and you have to get them resized.

11. You discover bones that you never knew you had and mistake them for knots.

12. Sitting becomes uncomfortable because you feel the bones in your bum digging into the chair.

13. Finding a sleeping position becomes a task because your hip bones are digging into the mattress.

14. Walking becomes easier.

15. People around you start making healthier decisions for themselves.

16. You can fit on a stool without your butt fat hanging off.

17. You have more energy.

18. You sleep better.

19. You feel a sense of pride in your accomplishments.

20. People will flirt with you more. A LOT more.

21. Your friends start calling you by new nicknames, like “skinny mini” or “Incredible Shrinking Woman”.

22. You want to go out more often.

23. When you catch your reflection in a store window, you don’t immediately realize it’s you.

24. The meat manager at the local grocery store who you have seen weekly for the last 10 years all of a sudden speaks to you for the first time, asking how you are and how your day went.

25. Family and friends will brag on you behind your back.

26. Some people will criticize you.

27. Your husband (or wife) may start to become jealous.

28. Someone you haven’t seen in a while may not recognize you.

29. Your boobs and butt will shrink before your tummy trims down.

30. You feel cold all the time.

31. You look at the clothes on a rack in your new size and think, “That’s too small for me”.

32. People will like you more. Not because you look better, but because you don’t hate yourself any longer.

33. The people you used to envy now look fat to you.

34. You start *wanting* to have your picture taken.

35. You wish you had more pictures of yourself when you were fat.

36. People take you more seriously.

37. You can sit in the floor more comfortably.

38. Guys (or girls) will start checking you out.

39. You can now buy better looking and more fitted clothes in the stores instead of the “old people” clothes for plus sized people.

40. You wonder why the hell you didn’t start losing weight earlier.

If you've lost weight and have experienced different things than I've mentioned here, please comment below! I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Weight Loss 101 - Pitfalls - Eating Out

It happens to all of us when we are dieting. We just know we’re making the right choices. We choose healthy foods. We drink our water. We measure and we weigh our portions. We do everything that we’re supposed to do. On weigh in day, when we step on the scale… It hasn’t moved. The feeling of disappointment, frustration, and even anger creeps in and the thought of failure eats away at us. Why? Why is this happening to me? There are several reasons that the weight may not drop off of us as expected. Today in the second post in the series “Weight Loss 101”, I will discuss one of the pitfalls of dieting. Eating out.

My best friend celebrated his birthday last night. Several of us gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings, his favorite restaurant, to enjoy dinner together. Although I was eating out and celebrating, I was determined to stay on track. I decided against alcohol and I ordered an unsweetened tea at zero calories and declined sweetener (yeah, I have this down pat). The waitress brought out menus and I immediately opened mine to the salad section. My eyes scanned the selection of salads on the menu, but then something caught my eye. At the bottom of the description of each salad, right there next to the price, was the calorie count.



Honey BBQ Chicken Salad 1320 – 1440 CAL

Santa Fe Salad 1320 1440 CAL

Chicken Caesar Salad 720 CAL

Buffalo Chicken Salad 1090 – 1200 CAL

Garden Chicken Salad 800 – 1240 CAL

Seven Hells, Ned! The Big Jack Daddy burger is 1250 calories! I’d be better off having that than a couple of the salads listed above. My calorie allowance for the entire DAY is 1280! Since when is a salad so calorie dense? What the hell am I going to eat?

I decided to look around the menu for something a little lighter on the calorie end. I remember having a veggie plate there a few years ago there. I looked for that in the appetizer section. Ahhh. There it is. The Garden Crasher. The plate contains pita bread, hummus and tzatziki sauce, kalamata olives, carrots, celery, red peppers, and cucumbers. THAT would be a good choice, right? WRONG. A quick glance at the calorie count revealed 1310 calories – still more than the burger (What the f*@& is in the pita and the hummus?).



I started searching the menu again. This time, I wasn’t looking at the food, but the calories. I finally settled on the most unsuspecting item. I decided on fried popcorn shrimp. Depending on the choice of sauce, the calorie count was 500 – 790. I chose the cocktail sauce, which made my total for the meal only 500 calories, the lowest calorie item on the menu.



Who would have thought a salad would be two to three times higher in calories than popcorn shrimp? I know that at other restaurants I’ve chosen the salad every single time. At what cost? I usually log a salad at a restaurant at around 500 calories by doing a mental calorie count in my head. How many times have I eaten at 1500 calorie salad and gone over my daily allowance by 1000 calories? Going out to eat even twice a week and doing that each time nets a 2000 calorie surplus. That is almost a whole pound!

My point is, that when you are logging your calories each day, make sure you have an accurate calorie count on your items. Not all restaurants list their calories on the menu. Take a minute to look them up online and see if you can find the calorie count there. Think twice about ordering that salad. Sometimes you’re better off having fried shrimp, the cheese sticks, or even the Big Jack Daddy burger.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Weight Loss 101 - Calories In - Calories Out


I’m starting a new series of posts today. This is the first in a series, “Weight Loss 101”. In this series, I am going to talk about the things that have worked for me in my journey to lose 100 lbs. I’m going to explore the nerdy side of weight loss and discuss calories and adipose (fat cells) and how they work. I’ll be talking about glycogen, triglycerides, and water weight. There’s also a phenomenon I will tell you about called “Stall and Woosh” which can explain weight loss plateaus and will show you how a plateau isn’t exactly what you think. Exploring the scientific side of weight loss has helped me tremendously. Hopefully the posts in this series will help someone else.

Today, I’m going to talk about my diet strategy, calories in – calories out. This is the most straightforward diet that I know of, is based on scientific law, and has worked for anyone who has correctly applied it. I’ve tried the Weight Watchers points system, Nutrisystem, Atkins, and several other diets, mostly hand written and copied thousands of times on a Xerox machine, and have come to the conclusion that for me, calories in – calories out works the best. It’s all simple math and physics.

First, let’s look at how weight loss works. One pound is equal to 3500 calories (energy units). The average 150 lb person burns 1800 calories, or units of energy, per day for someone with a sedentary lifestyle (your personal Basal Metabolic Rate can be calculated by a doctor or estimated using a BMR calculator). In order to lose one pound, you must create a deficit of 3500 calories. On a 1200 calorie per day diet, a deficit of 600 calories per day occurs. That means that it will take six days for me to lose one pound, provided I stay within that 1200 calorie per day limit.

Let’s add in exercise. Each mile I run burns roughly 100 calories. I’m currently running approximately 10 miles per week, burning about 1000 calories, or .28 pounds. If I follow my diet to the letter, and run five days per week, I can expect to lose 1.28 pounds per week.

On the other side of the coin, let’s explore weight gain. I had gained 100 lbs over an 8 year period. It isn’t that hard to gain weight, and the pounds can sneak up on you even when you don’t think you’re doing that badly. A seemingly normal diet can hold more calories than we’re even aware. A typical day for me before I began my diet, and on a day that I cooked a “normal” dinner and not one of my gourmet masterpieces, would include:
  • Two Pop Tarts for breakfast at 400 calories. 
  • A pack of cookies or nabs in the afternoon (I rarely ate lunch) at 200 calories. 
  • Dinner might be a plate of spaghetti, 329 calories, 2 slices garlic bread, 412 calories, and a salad with 100 Island 200 calories. 
  • In the evening, I usually had 3 glasses of wine or beer while I cooked dinner and later watched TV - 381 calories. 
  • TV time snacks. I’m going to lowball with microwave popcorn at 350 calories. 
I am up to 2272 calories for the day. Although it doesn’t sound like a lot, this is 472 calories above the 1800 calorie target. The thing about the human body is that when it finds extra calories, it stores those calories for energy that may be needed later. These calories are converted and stored as fat. This means that it would take only 7 days of this type of food to gain one pound, and eating every day like this for one year would net a weight gain of 52 lbs. Those foods I listed in my normal day don’t seem like that much until you break down the calorie count. Now take into consideration vacations, holidays, birthdays, dinner and drinks with friends on the weekends, and other events where food is the main focus. Talk about disaster!

Understanding the way calories work is an important part of weight loss and maintenance. With mainstream diets, you don’t have the advantage of learning the calorie count of foods. On the calories in – calories out method, you begin to memorize the calorie counts of foods. When going out to eat, you can then easily calculate the calories in any meal by adding the calories of the ingredients. With mainstream diets you don’t learn to eat differently. You end up following the plan to the letter, and sometimes only eat pre-packaged meals, and when you hit your weight loss goal and go off of your "diet", you go back to old habits. In a year or two, you’ve gained back all the weight and then can’t understand why.

Once I’ve hit my weight loss goal, I will have to tinker with the number of calories I need for maintenance. The 1800 a day is a good starting point. From there, I can monitor how my weight fluctuates by the week.  If I’m still losing weight, I can up my calorie intake. If I’m gaining, I can lower it again. I know that I will always have to count calories and pay close attention to the scale to prevent myself from falling back into those old habits. That’s fine with me too. I’ve developed the habit of weighing myself religiously and logging calories on my app. It only takes a few minutes each day.

Those are the basics of calories in – calories out, and is my diet strategy. More “Weight Loss 101” posts will be coming soon! Please let me know if there is something you’d like for me to discuss.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Would Do Anything






When I was around fourteen years old, I saw a girl at Carowinds amusement park with the prettiest, darkest tan I had ever seen. It was the 80’s, and dark tans were the most covetous feature a girl could have in the Summer. I was so impressed by her tan that I turned to my dad, excited, and said, “I would do *anything* to have her tan”.

Not missing a beat, and never even looking at me, dad responded, “No you wouldn’t”. I was confused and offended that my dad would presume to tell me what I thought or how I felt. “I would too”, I protested.

Dad, still not showing any thought nor feeling to my desire, said to me, “No, you wouldn’t. The fact that you don’t have that tan right now proves it. If you would do anything to have her tan, then you would have been working toward it just like she has been. You don’t think it just fell on her, do you”?

I stared blankly at him, mouth wide open and nothing coming out. Dad had just taught me something that has stayed with me to this day. If it is something I wanted, then I would have to work for it.

In late September of this year, I finally admitted to myself that I had been abusing my body for quite some time. I was eating anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was drinking vast amounts of wine or beer on a daily basis. I had gained over one hundred pounds in around an 8 year period. I could barely walk, my hands would go numb and my legs would often cramp from lack of circulation. My weight had skyrocketed to its highest ever, 254.5 lbs. I had to do something.

I began a diet (again) on a Monday morning in late September. I had tried and failed a hundred times before. This time, I wasn’t going to do Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig, or any of the other popular diets. I was going to create my own and just cut calories by eating healthier and limiting alcohol. It wasn’t really difficult, but what made it not-so-hard this time is the “Doggonit-ness” I had. I clamped onto the idea of this weight loss journey and wouldn’t let go of it for any man’s money. I’d give anything to lose that weight.

I had to say no to a lot of things that I wanted, and I still have to say no. When my friends were having burgers or pizza, I ordered salad. When it was someone’s birthday, I didn’t eat the cake. On vacations, I’d only choose lean fish and vegetables from the all you can eat calabash seafood buffet. I even declined dinner at Rioz , an all you can eat meat-lover’s paradise, and also my favorite restaurant at Myrtle Beach. After losing 50 lbs, I began walking, then ultimately running every day. These sacrifices were all needed to keep me on track, and I accepted it happily. I knew that the reward would be worth it in the end. I would do anything to lose that weight.

Over the last seven months, I have managed to drop 67 lbs, placing me at 187.9 lbs. I’ve also dropped from a size 20 to a size 12. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t come to me telling me how great I’m doing or how amazing I look. I have men trying to catch my interest again. I have women telling me I look so much better. I also have people asking me daily how I am doing it. I always give the same answer. Diet and exercise.

I am no different than the girl with the tan at Carowinds. I’m not “lucky”. I didn’t find a magic pill or potion. There is no such thing – results from those are at best temporary if they work at all. The fat didn’t “just walk away” like Adipose on an episode of Doctor Who, and frankly I wouldn’t want it to – if you haven’t seen that episode, you should. (Yikes!) I wanted it. I am working for it. I am achieving it.


I will succeed at my goal to shed 100+ lbs and ultimately reach my 150 lb target weight. I would do anything to do it. I’m proving that every single day.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Low Calorie Meal Options


I was asked by a friend to get together a week’s worth of recipes that I use on my diet. I then had requests from other friends to be included in the list. This is what I’ve come up with. The following seven dinner recipes are mine and the pictures are what I actually made. Everything is portioned to serve four, but quantities can be adjusted easily for a larger or smaller group.

I have only included dinner recipes, but will share with you some of the options I use for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. All of these are in my rotation, and have yielded a 68 lb weight loss over a six month period as of today.

I keep my calorie count to 1200 per day. Men will need more calories to function. Please check with your doctor before starting any diet plan. 

Breakfasts:

1 envelope Quaker instant oatmeal – 100 – 130 calories (depending on flavor)

-Or-

2 hard-boiled eggs – 140 calories

-Or-

Egg and Cheese Muffin: - 190 calories
  • ·         Thomas’ Lite English muffin
  • ·         Scrambled egg
  • ·         Sargento thin sliced cheddar (1 slice)


-Or-

Vegetable and Cheese Omelet - 205
  • ·         2 Eggs
  • ·         ½ oz shredded cheddar
  • ·         ½ Green pepper
  • ·         ½ onion


Lunches and Snacks

Garden salad – 2 Cups salad with raw vegetables – 30 calories (add dressing calories)

Shrimp cocktail – 8 large shrimp with sauce – 150 calories

Raw Vegetable plate with 1 oz Cheddar – 125 Calories (add calories for using dips)

2 Cups cubed Cantaloupe/Watermelon/Pineapple/Honey Dew – 120/96/200/128 Calories (respectively)

Turkey wrap (Made with Xtreme Wellness Low Carb Wraps) – 250 calories
  • ·         1 – 50 calorie wrap
  • ·         4 oz sliced turkey cold cuts
  • ·         Lettuce
  • ·         Tomato




I always see how many calories I have at the end of the day. I try to supplement by indulging my cravings. Some days I have enough to have a bowl of popcorn and a beer with a movie. Depending on the number of calories left after that, I may have 1-3 pieces of chocolate! Some of my guiltLESS pleasures include:

1-3 Hershey minis – 42 calories EACH

¼ cup popcorn – (pop in an air popper and use spray butter and sea salt) – 160 calories

1 Craft beer, such as a porter or stout – 200 calories (average)

2 oz bourbon with Diet Coke – 140 calories

Pudding Pie with Whipped Cream – 180 calories
  • ·         1 Keebler mini graham cracker pie crust (100 cal)
  • ·         1 container sugar free pudding (chocolate is my go to) (60 cal)
  • ·         2 Tbs lite Cool Whip (20 cal)

·          
Banana Pudding with Whipped Cream – 205 calories
  • ·         1 Keebler mini graham cracker pie crust (100 cal)
  • ·         1 container vanilla sugar free pudding (60 cal)
  • ·         ¼ banana, sliced (25 cal)
  • ·         2 Tbs lite Cool Whip (20 cal)


Angel Food Cake with Fruit and Whipped Cream – 210 calories
  • 1/12 Angel Food cake – 120
  • 1 Container fruit cup no sugar added (check calories on package) (70 cal)
  • 2 Tbs Lite Cool Whip – (20 cal)


Here are some great brands I use.







ON TO DINNER!
          ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Teriyaki Chicken and Mushrooms with Roasted Vegetables
Servings: 4
Calories: 264
Total time: 30 minutes

Chicken and Mushrooms
4 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (approx. 4 oz each)
1 pint baby portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 Tbs Teriyaki sauce
2 Tbs Sweet Chili sauce
Cooking spray
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat pan and spray with cooking spray. Cut chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken and mushrooms to hot pan and drizzle with teriyaki and sweet chili sauce. Sautee’ until done, but do not overcook.

Roasted Vegetables
2 Zucchini
2 Yellow squash
1 lb Fresh green beans
Kosher salt (to taste)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Cut zucchini and squash into ¼” rounds and place on sheet pan, slightly overlapping the edges. Cut ends from green beans and cut in half. Scatter on sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.








Pulled Chicken Tostadas with Black Beans
Servings: 4 (1 serving = 2 tostadas – Picture showing three nets 700 calories)
Calories: 480
Total time: 60 minutes

Pulled Chicken Tostadas with Black Beans
1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken breast, boiled, baked, or roasted, shredded
1 Cup shredded mild cheddar
8 Corn tostada shells
1 Can Fat Free Refried Beans (I use Casa Mamita)
Shredded lettuce
2 Medium tomatoes, diced
8 Tbs Pace Picante Sauce
3 Tbs Taco seasoning
1 Can black beans

Cook boneless, skinless chicken breast, Shred and season with taco seasoning. Spread refried beans over tostadas with a knife. Pile on chicken mixture, dividing equally among 8 tostadas. Add cheddar to each tostada, dividing equally. Microwave 2 at a time on serving plate for 30 seconds to melt cheese. Add shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and picante sauce. Serve with black beans.



Baked Flounder with Bullion Orzo and Raw Veggies
Servings: 4
Calories: 240
Total time: 30 minutes

Baked Flounder
1 lb Flounder
Old Bay Seasoning
Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 450°. Line sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place flounder onto sheet pan and sprinkle generously with Old Bay. Bake for 20-25 minutes until fish flakes. Do not overcook.

Bullion Orzo
1 Cup orzo
1 Chicken bouillon packet or cube
Water
2 Green onions, chopped

Cook orzo to package instructions, adding bullion to water. Sprinkle with green onion.

Raw Veggies
12 Grape tomatoes
1 Cucumber

Cut grape tomatoes in half. Slice cucumber. Serve raw.




Teriyaki Shrimp with Roasted Asparagus, Carrots, and Bullion Orzo

Servings: 4
Calories: 358
Total time: 30 minutes

Teriyaki Shrimp
1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Teriyaki Sauce
Cooking Spray
Green onions, chopped

Marinade shrimp at least one hour in teriyaki sauce. Preheat oven to 450°. Line sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place vegetables onto sheet pan and spray top with cooking spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes until carrots are tender. Serve over orzo and sprinkle with green onions.

Bullion Orzo
1 Cup orzo
1 Chicken bouillon packet or cube
Water
Cook orzo to package instructions, adding bullion to water.

Roasted Asparagus and Carrots
1 lb Asparagus, woody ends cut off
½ lb Carrots
Kosher salt (to taste)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.. Scatter vegetables on sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.




Grilled Pork Chop with Italian Green Beans and Salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 456 (Add calories for your choice of salad dressing)
Total time: 30 minutes

Grilled Pork Chops
4 – 4oz pork chops
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Meat Tenderizer
Allow the pork chops to come to room temperature. Preheat grill (you want this screaming hot). Lightly coat both sides of the pork chops with olive oil. Sprinkle meat tenderizer on both sides. Place on hot grill for five minutes, then turn ¼ turn. Let cook another five minutes. Flip pork chops and cook five minutes on the other side. Turn ¼ turn and cook an additional five minutes. Flipping causes the pretty score marks on the meat.

Italian Green Beans
2 cans Italian green beans, drained and rinsed (important to remove extra sodium)
Water
Kosher salt (optional)
Prepare green beans to instructions

My Usual Salad
Iceberg lettuce
Baby spinach
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped cucumber
Chopped green pepper
Chopped carrots
Shredded cheddar (1/2 oz per salad)
Real bacon bits (1/2 oz per salad
Croutons (6 per salad)

 



Broiled Salmon with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
Servings: 4
Calories: 278
Total time: 30 minutes

Broiled Salmon
4 – 6oz Salmon fillets
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat broiler on its low setting, or preheat on bake to 500°. Lightly coat salmon with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Broil in oven to desired doneness. (Fish should be firm to the touch but not tough)

Roasted Brussels sprouts and Carrots
1 lb Brussels sprouts, cut in half
½ lb Carrots
Kosher salt (to taste)
Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.. Scatter vegetables on sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.





Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Medley with Angel Hair Pasta
Servings: 4
Calories: 374
Total time: 30 minutes

Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Medley
1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Zucchini, cubed
1 Yellow (or green is fine) bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in pan until shimmering. Sautee’ zucchini, onion, and bell pepper until tender. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over angel hair pasta.

Angel Hair Pasta
8 oz dry angel hair pasta
Water
Kosher salt
Make pasta according to package directions.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Am I Running From?


I had a breakdown on my two mile run yesterday.

I started my run not feeling so great. The first quarter mile, my thighs were burning and aching, and I felt that every step was labored and heavy. Everything within me kept screaming “Stop and go back to the car”. I kept running, speeding my pace, and ignored the desire to quit. After the quarter mile, my legs didn’t hurt quite as badly. I checked my pace on my Garmin. I was running faster than I usually do. At around the ¾ mile mark, I felt so thirsty that it was becoming uncomfortable. That isn’t normal for me. I usually don’t get that dry, but I made a 3 second stop at the water fountain for a quick sip and got my pace back. I was almost at the one mile marker, and my time was looking amazing (for me). Across the pedestrian bridge, around the curve and up the hill to the bridge I went, speeding up as I got to the hill. My one mile buzzer went off on my watch and I checked my pace as I turned to go back. I’d completed that mile in 13:11. Not too bad!

Wanting to beat my 13 minute mile from a couple of weeks ago, I pressed a little harder. I sped up and checked my pace. I was running at a 9.14 minute mile. I was feeling pretty decent at this point even though I was still thirsty and getting hot. My footsteps became lighter and I was feeling as if I had found my groove. But then, my mind stopped concentrating on my breathing pattern. I forgot about paying attention to my foot strike. My mind had started to wander. I had tuned out the music that was turned up high on my ear buds. I began thinking. Negative thinking. I was thinking about things that had happened years ago. Lost loves and abandoned friends streamed through my head. I thought about problems that I’d had at work 10 years ago. I thought about people I loved who have passed away. I thought about the wrongs that I had done to others. I thought about the wrongs that others have done to me. I began to get angry, and I felt my eyes filling with tears. I pressed even harder, running as I’d never run before.

I was a half mile away from my end point, and all of a sudden those tears began to stream down my cheek. I couldn’t breathe and was gasping for every breath I took in. I was crying full on, pissed off, hurt. I was sobbing. I stopped running and began to walk the last half mile back to my car. The thoughts kept coming, one after the other. I cried harder and harder as I made my way closer to the car. I finally got to my car, sat down and laid my head on the steering wheel and sobbed until I could gain enough composure to drive back to work. I drove back, parked my car, and posted the incident on Facebook:



My work phone rung only minutes after I returned to my desk, and on the other end was who I now consider my guardian angel. He told me that I’d “hit the wall”, which was normal under extreme exertion, and said that when I break through the wall that everything in the past can now get through as well. He told me that I had all this excess baggage holding me back that was being dropped, and that I wasn’t running FROM something, but that I was running TOWARD something – the new me. He told me so much more, and had me built up. I’m so appreciative of this man and his wisdom.

When I finally got home I pulled up my trusty Google search. “Hitting the wall runners”, “emotional while running”, and a few other key phrases. I read a few forums and a few good articles. THIS ONE, from RunnersWorld.com, and THIS ONE from PubMed.gov outline physiological causes behind psychological issues when endurance running.

I also found THIS GEM on a Reddit forum:

[–]boojieboy 25 points 3 years ago
I think the emotions that people experience after severe exertion like long runs are probably due to momentary frontal lobe insufficiency, resulting in momentary disregulation of emotions. Why crying in particular is what most people seem to experience, rather than euphoria, sadness, or what have you, is not clear to me.

[–]boojieboy 13 points 3 years ago*
The relevant idea in cognitive-neuroscience is called "transient hypofrontality" LINK
Basically, the theory is that when you exercise you drive your body into a state of heightened physiological arousal (i.e. you get excited) and this pushes your frontal lobes to supply an interpretation of that arousal. High arousal states tend to be interpreted as being either extremely positive ("euphoric") or extremely negative ("sadness") and, in a situation where the resources your frontal lobes draw upon to do that job are depleted, it can result in an unstable mix of those two ends of the emotional spectrum. The outcome is often a surge of what most of us understand as a kind of exquisite bittersweet emotion (a mix of both positive and negative), the natural expression of which is (da DAH!) crying. It won't last very long, and the period of time during which you are most vulnerable is within an hour or so of the completion of the exercise bout. Once your cognitive resources recover (i.e. you suck down a huge dose of carbs, ninja edit: and take a nap!) the frontal lobes recover their strength and stability is restored.

Everything that causes the issues discussed in the articles I’ve read line up completely with what happened yesterday. Looking back, here’s what happened:


  • I normally have 4-5 bottles of water between 7-12 before my run. Yesterday I was extremely busy and I only had ½ bottle. I was dehydrated.
  • I didn’t eat anything before the run. The last “meal” I had was a lite English muffin, plain. I had that muffin at 5:30 AM. I wasn’t fueled.
  • Yesterday was the warmest day that I have run. I was overheated and not acclimated. 
  • I was pushing myself harder and faster than I had before. I finished my 2 miles in 14:08. My fastest pace recorded on my Garmin that day was 8:16/mi. Let me add that I finished up my 2 miles WALKING the last half mile, and still almost made my lowest lap time ever, missing the mark by only: 13 seconds. Had I finished the run, I was on target to hit my first 11 minute mile. I was overexerted. 

Everything above explains perfectly what happened to me yesterday. Although I can’t say I “enjoyed” the run, I'll always say that no run is a bad run, I learned so much from the experience. I’m getting faster. I’m learning my body. I’m not only getting stronger physically, but mentally as well. I’m learning just how important water and fuel is to a runner. I’ve learned that running is helping me drop old baggage and that the “new me” is where I’m headed. I’ve also learned that there are people out there watching out for me and that are good enough to speak up and help me get through it. And I appreciate it oh so much.

Thanks to my guardian angel, I now know that I’m definitely not running FROM anything. I’m running TOWARD it. At full speed ahead.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Sweet Taste of Victory?

I’ve been noticing on my runs that some days I get this weird sweet tasting film around my lips. It hasn’t been every single day, but it happens often enough to make me wonder what is going on. Today was one of those days. I ran pretty well today, logging 2.1 miles, and fought against my body when it kept telling me to slow down and walk. As I got to the 1.5 mile mark, I noticed it happening again. The sweet taste of victory? Perhaps. But perhaps I should check Google and see what else it could be.

After reading a few forums and an article on Livestrong.com, I finally found out what is happening. The sweet taste that develops in or around the mouth are ketones (think ketoacidosis in diabetics). During strenuous exercise the body likes to burn glycogen, made up of sugar and carbs, which is stored in the muscles (and was also the culprit of my gaining six pounds when I started running). Glycogen is easier for the body to convert to fuel, so the body pulls from this first. When the body no longer has those glycogen stores, it turns to burning fat instead. In pushing my body into using fat by depleting the sugar stores, my running is causing a state of ketosis.

Diabetes runs on my father’s side, so just to be sure everything was OK, I stopped into the nurse’s office at work to check my post-run, and present sweet-lipped, blood sugar level. A quick prick of the finger and a short chat later, the results were in. My blood sugar level was normal. Awesome!

When trying to lose weight, starting a new diet or exercise program will change everything about your body. You will notice so many things that your body is doing that it hasn’t previously. Those changes need to be monitored. Even if you think everything is OK, take a few minutes and check that blood pressure, pulse rate, and even your blood sugar levels like I have done. My diet and exercise goals are intended to make me healthier. Health does not start and stop in the mirror.

Monitoring my health and paying attention to the small things like that sweet taste has given me another marker to measure as I go about my journey to a better me. I’ve learned that when I’m running and that sweet taste is present, I’m burning fat and getting lean. The sweet taste of victory? You betcha.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thank You

You can’t measure the impact of your posts on social media by the number of likes or comments that you get. On Monday, I published a blog post, “Anxiety? Maybe Not. Some People Are Just Assholes”. In spite of getting more than 200 hits, the post on my blog hasn’t received any comments. My post on Facebook has only 8 reactions and a handful of people who commented. My Messenger, however, has been active pretty much non-stop since I released the link.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been asked by more than a few, “Is it me that you were talking about”? I’ve been offered apologies for people being busy and not talking to me as much as they would have liked. I have had several reach out to me wanting to talk more than we have. The majority of them told me that they have experienced the same things.  I’ve received such an outpouring of support from so many people who I consider friends. To each one of you who have contacted me, either in FB comments or directly, know that I’ve never questioned any of your actions. The people who I spoke about in my post know exactly what they are doing. If they have read my words, they know who they are without having to ask. Their actions are intentional. They would never reach out to me as you guys did. It is their issue and not mine. Now that I know it isn’t me being “too sensitive” or “reading too much into things”, I’m so much better off. I can let it go now and be amused, rather than stressed, when I see it again.

When I created this blog, my intent was to use it as a diary of sorts. Instead of locking my diary with a key and hiding it under my mattress, I was going to open it up and set it out for the world to read. I wanted to be real and show people the person that I am.  I said that I was going to put everything out there about myself along with my thoughts and feelings. I said it was going to get ugly before it got pretty. I knew that writing this blog and putting all of my issues out for everyone to see and judge would be difficult. But you know what? It’s been amazing. I am baring my soul to friend and enemy alike, and what it has gotten me so far is more love and support than I could have imagined. It has shown me that I’m not the only one having these problems. It has also paved a way to drive out the anxiety, and for me to be able to stop trying to figure it all out.

To those of you who have reached out to me in the Facebook comments or privately through text or Messenger, thank you. You have built me up so much more than you realize. I promise that I will be there to support you as well. I don’t take my friendships for granted.  I love you guys.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Anxiety? Maybe Not. Some People Are Just Assholes

the Gorleston Psalter, 1310-1324
Some people are just assholes. I’m realizing more and more that anxiety isn’t all in my head. This is a huge breakthrough for me, because even though I’d *like* to be liked by people, there are some, no matter how nice I try to be, that will just be plain jerks.

I play in the Society for Creative Anachronism, an educational group who learn about life before the 17th century by researching and recreating pretty much everything the way it used to be. We learn about clothing by researching, creating, and wearing the clothing they would have worn. We learn how they ate by researching and preparing recipes from hundreds of years ago. Fighters combat on the field using techniques that would have been used then. The list goes on. If it was done in the Middle Ages, someone in the SCA is doing it.

I've only been in the SCA for a year and a half, so I don't have the solid friendships that others have grown and nurtured over several years, and in some cases decades. This causes SCA events trigger major anxiety attacks for me. These anxious thoughts heighten when I go to an event alone and don’t have dedicated people to interact with. While I’ve had positive experiences with most of the people who play in the SCA (some of the best people I've met), there are a handful out of several hundred who have made me feel excluded and even inferior. I’ve not been around these people long enough to have offended anyone (at least I don’t think I’ve offended), but I still experience rudeness and arrogance from them.There are some who walk past and turn their head to not make eye contact. There are some who give as short an answer as possible when I try to engage them, and then walk away.. There is one who always offers only a sneer or an eye roll when in proximity. There has even been one to whom a friend and  I said good morning in passing, who stopped dead in his tracks and glared at us as if we were too beneath him to offer such a greeting. When we were met with his nasty glare, we both turned to look at each other at the same time, in shock, and all either of us could say is “WOW”. The incidents I have mentioned are not imagined; they are real and are regular in occurrence, and involve the same people at each event. These things are NOT anxiety talking. These behaviors do not belong to me.

In retrospect, there has been only one occurrence that I found I had read too much into, and after having expressed my feelings to the person involved and asking what I had done, I was assured that there was nothing to be concerned with, and that everything was OK. Incidents like that happen, and I do need to acknowledge those as flaws within myself.  Genuine anxiety aside, I've just realized that I’ve been internalizing other people's rude and hateful behavior and owning it as if my being too sensitive and imagining things is the total issue. This is not healthy and is adding to the anxiety that I feel. I need to start accepting that some of these people are just rude jerks, and quit taking the blame for them being assholes. I think that if I take these things for face value and can accept that I’m not always the one with the problem, that it may boost my confidence and lessen the anxious thoughts. It may also loosen me up and help me let down my walls when people with good intent actually do come and talk to me and engage me, rather than keeping my distance and being afraid to speak for fear of being rejected or ridiculed. By recognizing which people are giving me negative feelings, and understanding that the problem is with them and not with me, I may finally be able to more freely accept that I am actually accepted by the others.

I had a job and a plan this past weekend, and I got to hang out with some really awesome people who say they like me and that I’m “their kind”. I was introduced to new faces. I heard stories from the past, which only adds to my experience in the SCA. I was made to feel appreciated, and I had a purpose. I did see several of those people I mentioned above, and their actions toward me were exactly the same as they had been in the past. This time though, it didn’t settle into my heart and head. I was able to shake it off and can say that anxiety didn’t creep in for the entire day. Being relaxed, feeling accepted, and enjoying the event with people who actually wanted me around helped me see that it isn’t all in my head, and that I’m not as big a basket case as I thought. What freedom!

People are assholes and it’s OK. It means that it isn’t all my problem, and I’m better off emotionally than I originally thought I was.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

My New Sports Tracker - Garmin Forerunner 35


I’ve been hitting the Danville walking trails during my lunch hour for around six weeks now. This entire time, I’ve been using my iPhone and the Endomondo app to track my time and distance. I did notice some pretty major flaws working with Endomondo. One day, it had tracked me as having run 22 miles in around 35 minutes. Most days, it was steady at 2.25 miles in the 35ish minutes that it takes me to run the course. It was also reporting an average of 635 calories burned each day that I ran. I accepted averages as truth and just deleted workouts in which I could have held my own against the Flash.

On Tuesday, I received my first sports tracker watch, a Garmin Forerunner 35, which I ordered after completing my first 5K on March 25. Setup was quick and easy. It synced with my iPhone flawlessly, and was able to connect to Facebook and My Fitness Pal, the app I use to track my calories, exercise, and water intake. Brilliance! The Garmin 35 even transferred my current weight from My Fitness Pal and calculated my BMI. I entered my goal weight into the Garmin manually.  I also entered my normal bed time and wake up time so that the Garmin could track my sleep patterns. I’m pretty impressed already charged the watch to a full charge and messed around with the new Garmin Connect app that I downloaded onto my phone.

I took it out for a test run on Tuesday at lunch time. I ran my normal course, and found that my distance and time weren’t as accurate as I had hoped. For the exact same course I run day after day, I found that instead of the 2.25 miles that I normally track, it was only 2.2 miles. I also learned that the number of calories I burned was only 376 compared to the 635 I’d been logging. Oh well, everything I did before the Garmin still counts for something.
I did manage a new personal best on my run. I ran the entire 2.2 miles without a walk break. That is the farthest distance that I have managed to date. I did run the last half of my first 5K, but that was only 1.5 miles. That is a .7 mile improvement!

A little about the Garmin Forerunner 35:

I purchased the unit on Amazon.com for $169.99, and it shipped for free because I am an Amazon Prime member. HERE IS THE LINK.

The features of the Garmin 35 are pretty cool. (These are taken from Amazon’s product page).

  • Built-in GPS - built-in to acquire satellites quickly to track how far, how fast and where you run, even under tree cover. No phone required!
  • 24/7 heart rate monitoring - warm gives you heart rate all day and night -no additional Strap   required.
  • Vibration alerts - helpful vibration alerts notify you of running prompts, activity tracking       milestones, smart notifications and virtual pacing progress.
  • Updated display - new high resolution display that is perfect for indoor/outdoor viewing.
  • Smart connectivity - auto uploads, smart notifications, live track, music controls and automatic sw updates.


The Garmin Forerunner 35 also alerts me and displays text messages, Facebook notifications, and even emails from work that come through the Blackberry Work app. I LOVE THIS FEATURE!

Here are a few screen shots from the Garmin Connect app, which syncs with the watch.



I want to mention that I have not been paid, and have not received any merchandise for this review. I purchased this watch on my own and love it, and I just want to share my experience with you.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Anxiety - My Biggest Demon


One of my daily struggles is social anxiety. I’ve had many people, family and friends alike, comment to me that they would never have thought that was an issue for me. I’ve been told that I’m outgoing toward people and that I have confidence and a strong personality. I don’t see those things in myself, and those close to me would be really surprised to know my thoughts and feelings in any given situation. I’m going to share a few.

At work, I know my job well. I’ve been at it for several years now. I’m advanced in Excel and the other elements of Microsoft Office, and have taught an Excel class to some of our co-workers. I know AutoCad inside and out. I set up, administer, and train users of two huge databases. I have even been acting IT for the plant for a few months while the company was between employees. There have been only a handful of things that I found myself unable to complete in my 9 ½ years on my job. I have a solid work ethic, and my attitude is that “my job is to make my team look good”. I try hard every day to juggle the zillion things on my plate, and “I can’t” is never an option. I frequently support other departments as well as my own, even though that isn’t part of my job. If I’m asked by anyone for help, I do my best to help them. I know I’m good at what I do, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think at least one (most days all) of the following:

“If I make a mistake, they’re going to fire me”.
“I sent out the wrong attachment, everyone things I’m stupid”.
“I can’t do anything right”.
“Mr. Manager hates me”.
“I don’t have the skills or ability to do this”.

In my closest circle, I have a solid group of people who love me and stand behind me no matter what. I’ve chosen my companions well. I nurture those relationships. I love fully and without expectations, I give without wanting to be repaid. I compliment, but I do so genuinely. I try to build people up and help them to see how amazing they really are. I listen and offer compassion when they have a problem and offer advice when asked. I know I am good to them. Anxiety still tries to kill those relationships. What anxiety whispers to me are these things:

“He/she really doesn’t want to be around me. They're just bored”.
“Our relationship isn’t like it was, something is wrong”.
“We don’t see each other as much as we used to. They’re bored with / hate me”.
“This relationship is about to end and they just don’t want to hurt my feelings”.
“If I tell them how I really feel, they won’t like me anymore”.

At parties or gatherings where there are many people, the anxiety becomes almost crippling. I’m polite and speak to people with a huge smile. I treat everyone the same. I offer to help with whatever may be going on at the time. The people I do know are great about introductions and making me feel like I belong. My issue is that I’m very socially awkward, and much prefer people to approach me rather than me approaching them. I feel as if I’m forcing myself onto people, and the last thing I want is to put myself off onto people who don’t want me around. These are the things I hear anxiety say:

“If I say hello, they’re going to think I’m barging in on their conversation”.
“Those two whispering and laughing across the room are talking about me”.
“That person looked at me like he/she already doesn’t like me”.
“I don’t fit in here”.
“If I try to add to the conversation, I’m going to say something stupid”.

*** [I want to interject that in attempting to write my positive attributes to show why I shouldn't have these feelings, that I found myself trying to apologize for having them. Anxiety is speaking to me even as I write] 

The above are only a few examples of  thoughts I have during almost every interaction with other people. I also over think and attempt to figure out what hidden meanings could be behind small comments. I interpret silence or delays in response during conversations as the person is bored with me and isn't engaged. When I don't hear from someone as often as I'd like, I feel that they are detaching from me. It goes on and on.

Social anxiety is crippling. At work, I isolate myself, spending no more than a few minutes each day interacting with the people I work with, keeping most conversations to things like a quick “good morning”. I work in solitude and I take my breaks alone because of the energy it takes communicate with others. In my inner circle, I’ve driven away people who may have adored me because I felt something was wrong and ended the relationship before they had a chance to hurt me. In my social life, I've backed out of events and even almost left a few because the anxiety was too strong to deal with. I’ve surely missed out on making new friends because I wouldn’t allow myself to add to a conversation for fear of looking like an idiot. I’ve likely driven people away because I come off as “stuck up” or “uninterested” because of my silence. The fact is that I crave interaction. I need to find ways to silence this demon known as Anxiety.

I’ve read so many articles from psychologists as well as life coaches. They all seem to agree that anxiety is caused by situations from your past. Identifying those causes are listed as the first steps to dealing with anxiety. Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve identified some of the causes. Some still seem irrational. Learning how to deal with them is my next step. I’m working on it, but it is damned hard. It may take me the rest of my life to get there, but I’m going to keep trying.

Do you have these same thoughts? How do you silence them? Do you put on a mask and pretend they aren’t there, but still silently suffer? I’d love to hear the ways you deal with anxiety.