Attack of the Holiday Sweets

I’ve officially been at my new job for a month! Time has just flown by!

At first I was very concerned my little Corolla would drive itself back to my old office out of habit, but I’ve more than adjusted to my new drive (it’s just as close) and my new hours.

The thing that hasn’t changed is that around this time of year, the office is filling up with sweets!

treats

On Monday, we received homemade fudge, a Fairytale Brownie assortment box, the biggest box of cookies ever and a very large Russell Stover box. Seriously, the cookie and chocolate boxes were so large they looked like props! And that was just in one day and that is just the beginning of the season! My new real estate team is very well-loved by their clients and the partners we use, so I can only expect more to come pouring in.

On Monday, I did my fair share of sampling, but then I had a CTJ with myself.

If I’m going to make it through the holiday season without actively training for a race, with my new normal of maybe getting to the gym four times a week, and while still trying to reach a small weight loss goal, I’m going to need a better plan than “see what everything tastes like and then check again in a few hours to see if it changed at all.” Yeah, that’s not a good plan.

I started thinking about making a trade-off plan…I eat a cookie, I do 100 jumping jacks; a chocolate equals 30 crunches…but I’m not a big fan of exercise as punishment or trying to figure out exactly what would negate the calories consumed. I saw that in a Tracey Gold movie once, it doesn’t end well. (Um…when did I miss the memo that there are full-length Lifetime movies on YouTube?!)

Instead, I am just going to increase my activity level and eat smarter in ways that still let me enjoy the holidays.

Take my dogs on long walks a few times a week. They need the exercise and the nearby neighborhoods have great Christmas lights!

da-mo-92

Get in a small workout every day. I saw this on the BERRY‘s Daily Motivation the other day and think it’s a great idea so I may just create my own. I caught a few minutes of an infomercial for T25 over the weekend and am reminded that even little things move you toward your goals! I used to hate showering without sweating for the day…time to get back in that habit!

Suck it up and go for a bundled up run every now and then. Note to anywhere north or east of me, it’s not actually cold, just by Arizona standards.

Okay, maybe find a race to train for, even if it’s a medium- to long-term goal. That helps me stay on track more than anything else I’ve found.

Sweat like you mean it once a week. Sometimes working out is just going through the motions, but I’ve decided to sweat like I mean it at least once a week – long hikes/trail runs, back-to-back kickbox or spin and yoga classes on a Saturday morning, long bike rides, bricks, basically anything for longer than my standard 60 minutes.

Crossfit like a badass.

Set up my bike trainer and spin it out while watching a holiday movie. At least part of it before snuggling on the couch!

Work out in the morning whenever possible. Morning workouts always win for me. If I do it before I have time to think about it or come up with excuses. It’s even more important during the holidays when last-minute plans can pop up and my errand list starts to get out of control.

greekcucsTake my lunch to work. If I’m tempted to add a sweet treat to the end, it’s not as damaging to my calorie count for the day. I’ve been doing well with this since I started. It’s been the return of the Greek salad! It’s much easier to just avoid the eating out habit than to start it then try to break it. 

Keep tracking my calories. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for most of the year now and there are definitely days (like Monday) that I’d like to pretend some of my snacks or meals didn’t happen, but I keep putting them in to keep myself accountable. It helps me balance the rest of my day and also sometimes helps me realize the damage isn’t as bad as I might think it is!

My first steak I cooked myself for steak fajitas after a great gym date!

My first steak I cooked myself for steak fajitas after a great gym date!

Keep planning dinners at home. I generally know when I’ll be partaking in holiday festivities ahead of time, so I don’t have to plan meals for those nights, but on the other days I can put a little effort out to cook something good at home to make up for it! Bonus points when I use my slow cooker for a warm soup on a cold winter day!

Reboot with protein shakes or juicing every now and then. Sometimes my belly needs a rest!

Drink delicious Starbucks coffee treats while I’m out shopping. I’m loving SB’s caramel brulee latte. Yum, but it definitely packs a bigger calorie punch than my typical morning black coffee, so I try to avoid stopping on the way to work. But while I’m out shopping, particularly at outdoor centers, a warm treat is an extra special treat!

You can have it all, just not all at once. Putting the treats off limits will make them more enticing. Telling myself it’s okay to have a treat every now and then is a much smarter option. I strive for 80/20.

Keep dressing in my cute new skinnies and leggings. The not-so-new boy has made significant improvements to my fashion sense since we started dating, particularly my winter clothes, but there’s no hiding weight gain in skinny jeans or leggings!

Motivate myself with new workout clothes when I reach my goal! While out Christmas shopping I’ve found more than a few things I’d love to add to my workout rotation, but I’m supposed to be shopping for others. After the new year, though, I’m going to get some new goodies, but hold off until I reach my first goal!

What do you do to combat the dreaded holiday weight gain and winter lethargy? 

My First Bountiful Basket

I’ve been wanting to participate in a food co-op, but the amount of produce I’d get and the idea of getting some really weird stuff that I’d have no clue what to do with kept me away for a while…until this weekend! I follow Bountiful Baskets on FB so when they said Arizona ordering was up and to reserve your basket by Wednesday, I thought, why not? My arthritis diagnosis last month (along with other food allergy tests) has me eating a little better – mostly produce and A LOT of it, so I figured I could probably handle it.

Bountiful Baskets has locations all over and is more of a food co-op than a CSA (Arizona has plenty of farms that have weekly programs, but you commit for a certain amount of time for a lot of them). I paid $15 for 20 pounds of fruit and veggies and here was my haul…

That’s…

  • grape tomatoes
  • english cucumber
  • 4 broccoli heads
  • spinach bunch
  • head of green leaf lettuce
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 6 BIG potatoes
  • 4 fuji apples
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • 9 bananas

It’s definitely all food that I would consider “normal,” nothing that had me asking, “what the heck is that and what am I going to do with it?” But, unfortunately the foods I’m supposed to stay away from because they cause inflammation and make my neck issues flare up are nightshade veggies aka potatoes, tomatoes and peppers (and eggplant, but I’ve yet to find an eggplant recipe I like anyway), which were a big part of the pick-up.

I’d like to really eat clean for some time to see how it goes, but that is hard for me right now (need to find my mental grit), so I’m still eating those veggies on occasion. I still have a ton of my haul left, so I’m not ordering again this week…it really is a lot of food and requires a totally empty fridge and a meal plan to follow to not waste the food!

What I have eaten, I can’t say I’m super impressed with, unfortunately. I might stick with Sprouts or seek out a few farmer’s markets for fresh produce so I can pick and choose what I want, but I just have to be better about not trying to buy everything that looks good on a Sunday afternoon, and just buying the food I can eat before it goes bad, but it’s a nice option and participating made me feel super crunchy!

Sugar, Sugar

Despite my sweet tooth, I can admit sugar is B.A.D. and I do try to limit it.  Earlier this year, I actually started to feel when I’d overdone it with the sugar in my congested sinuses, which led me to research the connection and try to reduce my sugar intake as well as limit other possible offenders – dairy and wheat.

Every now and then, I need a little reminder. A few months ago, it was Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet and today it was Dr. Lustig.

Who?! Today on Facebook, a friend posted this transcript from Alec Baldwin’s radio show in which he interviews Dr. Lustig, who is on somewhat of an anti-sugar crusade, especially as it concerns children.

Side note: As I type this, I’m watching the little girls on Toddlers and Tiaras DOWN Pixie Stix.  Ugh. She wants to be Miss America and her mom is about the size of four Miss Americas combined.  Yes, maybe that’s mean, but what example is she setting for her daughter and what road does she think she’s sending the poor girl down?!

Anyway, I totally blame Dr. Lustig for me checking every label at the grocery store today.

Pop quiz: Which has less sugar – cinnamon raisin bread, everything bagel thins or cinnamon raisin english muffins?

I guessed the bagel thins, but ended up taking home the english muffins because they actually had the least amount of sugar per serving! Total elimination is tough, but I’ll take the lesser of the evils at this point.

I also blame him for deciding for the 64th time to stop drinking fake sugar in my Coke Zeros and Diet Cokes. One day at a time, right?!

Does sugar intake concern you? How do you limit it?

I’m totally guilty of having a weakness for ice cream this HOT summer…do you have suggestions for sugar-free (or low sugar) alternatives?

Gimmicks

I’ve been thinking about gimmicks lately because of a friend posting on Facebook about a 90-day challenge he’s doing (he’s pretty fit and regularly does races so I don’t really get it).  I asked about it and immediately got hit up by a “distributor” of this particular gimmick.

This time of year, everyone is looking for a quick fix to help them reach their goals for the new year.  Losing 50 pounds sounds great, but when faced with the oppressive reality that it literally could take all year of losing a healthy one pound a week, gimmicks start looking pretty good!

Like I said yesterday, I’m not really drinking the kool-aid much anymore, but there’s one flavor I’ll have in my blood forever…if you want to lose weight, eat less and move more and if you’re training, train hard. It’s really quite simple, but so many people have complicated it over time.

Yes, a lot of the gimmicks boil down to those simple truths of eat less or move more, but they hide that with smoke and mirrors and try to make it fun or easy and it’s not always fun or easy.

I’m not immune to gimmicks. I had the Windsor Pilates tapes in college – yes tapes, yes, just 5 years ago. I once attempted a 10-day juice fast (that lasted 36 hours).  I’ve read my fair share of of-the-moment diet and exercise books. But, since those days, I’ve learned to A. enjoy sweat, B. view food as fuel and C. be more comfortable in my body.

Gimmicks aren’t really all that bad.  However, they do run the spectrum from scary unhealthy to common sense. The gimmicks closer to the common sense side – Bethenny’s Skinny Girl and Weight Watchers – are more maintainable and more likely to work long-term.

Ultimately, no matter how silly, if it works for you, then it’s a good thing.

Protein Please!

No thanks!

As a vegetarian for 10 years, the most obnoxious question I got asked constantly was “where do you get your protein?”  I was young and a bad vegetarian, so often I’d say eggs, peanut butter or cheese.

Last Saturday, after a morning hike spent discussing nutrition, I went to a Vinyasa class and felt weak. Granted, I had done an hour-long hike and this particular yoga class was led by the fitness coordinator of my gym and I just kind of get the sense that her old school group fitness ways sometimes interfere with the yoga I love, but too often I feel weak in classes or on runs or in the pool and, yes, workouts should be a challenge, but for as much as I work out and as “healthy” as I am, that should not be the case!

It kind of all came together in that class and it made sense that my muscles are hungry and protein would feed them! Although I don’t consider myself a vegetarian anymore, I tend to eat vegetarian about 90% of the time and I tend to fall back on my young vegetarian ways of not eating meat (v. replacing it with other good sources of protein). Protein and iron often come hand-in-hand in foods and the fact that my iron count was too low to donate blood for about four months last year should have given me the hint that I needed a dietary change.

One of the resolution ideas I tossed around for a while was Stephany’s idea of making one change each month.  I found it hard to come up with 12 changes, particularly without wanting to tackle them all at once, but perhaps I just needed to let them come to me!  So…increasing my protein intake is going to be my change for January (a week and a half late, but still) and I’ll see what pops up each month for the rest of the year.

To figure out how to best up my protein, I consulted my experts…

In Racing Weight, Matt Fitzgerald recommends getting anywhere from 15-30% of daily calories from protein.

The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises says one gram of protein for each pound of your goal body weight.

My NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training supports both, saying 10-25% of daily calories from protein or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (oh, kilograms).

So, there are four calories in one gram of protein and if I’m supposed to eat 2000 calories a day on active days…yep, figuring out the percentages and counting calories and adding grams = too much work, so I’m going to aim for one gram per pound.

I found some foods I enjoy eating to help me increase my protein intake:

1 serving chicken breast…34 grams
1 serving fish (depending on type)…34 grams
1/2 c. of cottage cheese…16 grams
1 scoop protein powder…15 grams
1 cup black beans…15 grams
2 Tbs. peanut butter…8 grams
1 cup cooked quinoa…8 grams
1 cup skim milk….8 grams
1 cup fat-free yogurt…7 grams
1 egg…6 grams
1 oz. almonds….6 grams
2/3 cup granola…5 grams
1 cup spinach…5 grams

And now I can see how I was NEVER going to get to my required amount with milk and eggs alone.  It still seems difficult…I mean, seriously, with everything we’re “supposed” to be eating, does anyone else feel like they’re just going to have to walk around eating ALL DAY LONG?!

Honestly, I’m telling you right now there is no way I’m going to eat a gram of protein for every pound of my body weight, BUT, there is a way I will be more aware and do better and get closer each day. I have a hunch that my workouts will be better off for it!

What are the most annoying questions you get asked?!
When I was graduating college I dreaded, “So, what’s next?” (until I knew, then it was fine) and now I’m sometimes bored with people who think my love life has got to be the most interesting thing about me. BUT, I’m just as guilty of asking high schoolers what college they’re going to and newlyweds when they’re popping out the first kid.

What are some of your favorite sources of protein?
My IRL bestie from second grade (second grade!) recently started a 90-day paleo and crossfit challenge so I’m following along with her new blog to discover some of her high-protein recipes!

Racing Weight

I pleasantly surprised myself with how well I did in the first three races I ran, but I pretty much had the same thought after each of them…

“Next time, I’m going to run lighter.”

Now, this is NOT a fat talk post. I’m not fat, but for racing purposes, it would always be nice to be carrying a little less weight.

After my first race, I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. It’s about learning to lose weight for performance purposes while still fueling properly for training. He has a whole system of tracking food points mostly based on quality that I never really followed, thus why I consistently had the same thought of wanting to lose weight for the next race.

As much as I focused on training this summer, I didn’t give food a second thought until my mom made me brownies last weekend and put them in the freezer so that I could “save them until after the tri.” Well…that’s one way to do it, but instead, I ate them.  I think she was used to me at least attempting to eat well before my past races. 

I’m not one to eat A LOT of food, but the quality has been a little suspect lately.  As a flexitarian, I probably haven’t had as much protein as I need to properly fuel my training and my workouts haven’t been long or intense enough that I’m concerned with carbo loading.  And of course, I’m never one to deny my sweet tooth.

Even so, over the summer I lost 13 pounds from my high weight I hit in the spring and five pounds from what has pretty much been my weight since high school without too much thought or effort.  Let it be known that I actually weigh what my driver’s license says now!

If ever anyone asks me how to lose weight, I will say yoga four times a week + training for a triathlon six days a week.  Okay, maybe there was some effort, so make that without too much thought.

I’ll find out on Sunday if the loss will make a difference (or if the quality of foods I’ve been eating will cancel it out) or if I’m still singing the same tune about losing weight for the next one!

Grilled Cheese

I had a point when I started, but now I’m just going to go with, please forgive me this word vomit, it’s the Monday after a glorious three-day.

It was a lot of bike rides, girlfriends, pool time, reading, potentials, sushi, wine, a dive bar, live music, shopping and family.  Be jealous.

My training has been all over the place lately.  I’m mostly following a plan to get ready for my second 10k, which will be my last race of the season.  It’s getting toasty in Arizona, so I’m kinda sitting here wondering WHY I signed up for a race in mid-May (oh yeah, to honor this man’s short life and support a few good charities).

Anyway, because I’m expecting warm to hot weather, I’m not psyching myself up too much for an awesome race.  Yes, I’ll probably PR (woohoo for being able to say that since I’m now running repeat distances!) but then again, pretty much anything would beat my first 10k performance in which I was untrained and hungover/drunk.  Hey, don’t judge, I’ve come a long way in five months!

My knee has been bugging me since Pat’s Run, which is why I’m mostly following a training plan.  I’m trying to cross train more and rest, but by rest I mean work out yesterday morning and wait until tonight to train again.  That’s a solid 30 hours of downtime for the old knee!  There’s a hip thing too.  Perhaps my sports doc was onto something when he suggested PT?

My training two-piece came in, but I don’t like the color.  It’s a great suit so I’m exchanging it.  There are children in my pool right now anyway, so I can wait until it’s so hot that only the crazy people go in the pool (or outside in general). 

For my reward for the 10k – because OF COURSE I’m still setting my goals – I’m thinking of bike accessories (Meyer needs a lock and a basket), Ironman sunglasses (because my LA/Scottsdale look while running I’m sure is pretty redic) or going big with an indoor bike trainer. 

And happy zucchini bread day!  Yeah, it’s a thing.  I was going to post the ah-mazing recipe I recently found and fell in love with (I think it’s this one with applesauce instead of the oil) and beautiful pictures of the process of making it, but then I remembered zucc bread is pretty dangerous if you don’t have anyone at home to share the loaf with AND that two of the lights in my kitchen are out and the pics coming out of there are pretty dismal.

Now can we talk about when I looked up zucchini bread day, I learned this:

I’m slightly upset there’s only five days left to celebrate this glorious occasion, but let’s be honest, ain’t no party like a grilled cheese party ’cause a grilled cheese party don’t stop.  Plus, there’s still plenty of time to go Paradise Melts truck hunting.

Come to me!

Ode to Mickey D’s Oatmeal

I’m not a huge fan of fast food.  It kind of confuses me honestly, but I like oatmeal and enjoy something warm in my tummy on a cold (you know, like 58 degrees) day. 

So when I saw McDonald’s new oatmeal offering I kinda wanted to try it. Plus, I snagged a free coupon from a friend’s late night fast food run.  How are you going to say no to free?  Today I passed by a Mickey D’s and remembered that coupon burning a whole in my wallet. 

I’ve heard some not-so favorable things about the oatmeal, not that I expected it to be amazingly healthy coming from a fast food place and all. As quick-serve oatmeal goes, nutritionally, McDonald’s oatmeal is on par with Jamba Juice and Starbucks, who basically have better marketing.

I’m guessing Bittman’s thought about once you’re in McD’s you’re likely to opt for something else anyway is pretty accurate because (A) the staff seemed surprised to be selling one and (B) they weren’t too sure about how to make it.  But, it turned out well and was pretty filling. 

By “passed by” I meant, “on my way home from the gym.”  For shame! 

Next time I’ll remember that I can order it “my way” with no cream, no brown sugar, which, admittedly might make it not as delicious.

In a pinch, worse decisions could be made, but for the most part I’ll stick to homemade.  Currently I’m making my way through my silo of Quaker Quick Oats and then plan on jumping on the Coach’s Oats love train!

Greek Yogurt-ginity

Yes, it’s true. I lost my Greek Yogurt-ginity today. I’ve had the plain stuff in dips and such, but the last time I was at the grocery store, Chobani was on sale, so I decided to overlook my usual Yoplait Light and try it.

Why?  Well, greek yogurt is all the rage for its health benefits.  Like any yogurt, it’s a great way to get a serving of dairy with bone-building calcium.  Building bone mass is really important, especially for women.  Our bone density peaks at about 30, so as a mid-twenty-something, I’m stocking up!

But, what makes greek yogurt unique is that it has more active cultures and probiotics and twice the protein of regular yogurt, providing much more satiety.  I definitely put that to the test today.

After a delicious – and BIG – sushi dinner last night, I wasn’t too hungry this morning, so as I headed out to work, I grabbed some random things from my fridge and pantry to feed me for the day.  I usually have a meal packed, but I successfully ate all my leftovers throughout the week and had nothing (and usually try to avoid going out for lunch).  I ended up with a cutie, a banana, baby carrots and a vanilla Chobani. 

I ate the fruit a few hours later, but by 11:30 I was HUNGRY!  I really don’t like to eat [lunch] before noon, but I’m getting better at eating when I’m actually hungry even if the clock is screaming at me that I eat like a senior citizen.

I tried the yogurt plain first just to check it out.  Definitely a texture I wasn’t expecting, but not a bad one and the flavor was good.  Then I mixed it with some granola and dried cranberries I had in my desk and absolutely loved it. Best of all, even though I ate earlier than I was used to (and ate the carrots a little later), I didn’t get hungry again until around dinner time (okay, dinner time if you’re a senior citizen)!

So, I think it’s fair to say I’m a convert and I’m looking forward to trying the strawberry and blueberry I still have in my fridge (and finding the peach and honey flavors somewhere).