Tag Archives: weight loss

Diet Soda May Hurt Your Diet

Somehow, I have a feeling this post will strike an unpleasant chord with many readers, as I know people who take their diet soda very seriously. I am not one who has ever been a soda addict, caffeine addict or sugar addict (at least not in drink form).  Ideally, I would try to stick to water, but I find myself drinking ice tea or low-fat chocolate milk (post-workout) and even the occasional coffee.  I try to stay as far away from soda as I possibly can for countless reasons.  Mainly, I don’t get any satisfaction from drinking the bubbly, sugary drink with artificial colors and flavors.  If anything I feel more sluggish and my stomach is upset from the carbonation.  I end up more thirsty than I was before indulging in the beverage and since my stomach is filled with so much air, eventually I’m back to being hungry too.

The main complaint I have with diet soda is their claim that it makes you think it is somehow “healthy” because the word “diet” comes before it.  The fact is diet soda still has artificial sweeteners which, although haven’t been proven to be harmful, are still best avoided.  Just because the FDA hasn’t stepped in doesn’t mean the product is a good one!  Saccharine was banned in Canada and other countries because lab tests with animals found that it was linked to bladder cancer; the FDA has chosen to remove warning labels due to inconclusive evidence as to the effect it has on humans.  Aspartame is a high profile, artificial sweetener that is highly controversial.  Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener while researching anti-ulcer drugs.  The scientist spilled some on his hands and realized it had a sweet flavor, so now it’s in many diet drinks, water packets and other sugar-free items.  There are many, many names for aspartame and claims have been made that it contributes to anything from cancer to psychiatric problems in humans.  The jury is still out on this one as well, but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk.

Another point to be made is studies have found that people who drink diet soda are not healthier in any way.  Reducing the food energy intake of sugar in soda doesn’t imply that person will have a lower food intake overall or lead to weight loss.  An independent study also found that 48% of the 9,000 people in their test group were at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels.  The diet soda merely increased the person’s desire for sweet foods.

 

Homemade Sparkling Water Spritzer

Overall, I think it is best to avoid soda in general.  If you have to have it every once in a while that’s fine and dandy, but don’t justify your indulgence by telling yourself it is “healthy” and do your best to try and limit your intake as much as possible.

 

Best idea for soda drinkers?  Create your own soda!  Combine sparkling water (not club soda-too much sodium) and your favorite 100% fruit juice.  This is a great way to wean you off of the artificial crap and still get a taste of the bubbly stuff.  Sparkling water is hydrating and the NYTimes reported it can help keep calcium in your bones.

For a drink like this, pour glass half full with 100% juice of your choice and half full of sparkling water.

To make things more fun or fancy, try using frozen berries or fruit instead of ice cubes!!

Fancy Schmancy Fruit Cubes


Help! I’m a diet slacker!

Argh, I am so bad with blogging.  I feel like I never have time to just sit and pump out a good post!  I haven’t had a whole lot to write about as I haven’t been as strict with my workouts as I was a few weeks ago.  Nick is working and involved in a ton of campus activities and I’m still trying to get into a schedule.  We have been eating out a lot because we’re at school from 2-8:30 on some nights and by the time we get home it’s 9 and I’m definitely not in the mood to cook.  I know I need to start cooking meals or prepping them in the morning so they’re done or ready to go by the time we get home.  I know this is what I need to do and yet I haven’t practiced what I preach and just do it already!

Tomorrow night this will all change.  I’m going grocery shopping and stocking the house with healthy lunch materials that can be taken on the go as well as quick dinner fix-ins.  I am researching our campus gym so I can’t let school get in the way of my working out.  It’s about $50 or so per semester which isn’t bad.  They just tack the cost onto your tuition, so you don’t have to pay up front if you don’t want to.

All in all, I’ll be getting back on track here in no time.

As if one blog wasn’t enough for me to keep up with, I’ve decided to add another blog.  It’s called, My Life as a Disaster.  This will be a humorous personal project where I’ll write about the daily happenings of life in general.  I’ve added the link to the top of this blog, so please check it out and hopefully it will blossom into something fun for you all to read as well!

When Hard Work Pays Off

A long awaited update to my blog, but at least this time I’m posting an actual picture of the results I’ve been seeing.

I love that I can see my abs now!

Now, my weight has remained about the same. I wasn’t really concerned with dropping pounds. I mainly wanted to get strong and toned. I can honestly say I’m happy with the results so far!

I haven’t been doing P90x alone though. I sort of got burnt out on it when classes started back up. I began doing my 30 Day Shred video and the EA Active 2 to supplement on days I just couldn’t get up early enough for P90x.

I have found EA Active 2 to be really pretty good. I don’t use the bands, I use weights usually between 5-10lbs. depending on the exercise. Also, I make sure I really go at it hard and get my heart rate up there the entire workout.

I haven’t been dieting, but I do watch what I eat and make sure not to over indulge. I don’t beat myself up if I have a scoop of ice cream, I just don’t do it everyday!

I do use protein powder drinks with breakfast (usually a bowl of oatmeal). That breakfast keeps me full well into lunch time! Be careful to read labels on your protein powder because some are better than others.

So there you have it!  I’m excited I finally got this update on here…I’ve been quite the blog slacker lately.

Does This Video Game Make My Butt Look Big?

Video games, while fun for a short time, have always seemed to promote a sort of lethargy leading to overeating, weight gain and perhaps even a loss of brain cells.  I did not grow up playing video games for hours and while I own a PlayStation 3 we use it mainly for the Blu-ray player.

My husband has been involved with a program called Rehabbing with the Troops which helps wounded veterans get back into shape using a workout video game and a lot of support.  I wanted to try it myself but I have to admit I was sort of skeptical as to how difficult the workouts would be considering I’ve tried the Wii Fit and didn’t find it to be particularly challenging.  The Wii Fit did not allow for a flow from exercise to exercise and there was no way to calculate how hard you were working.

 

EA Active 2 Setup

EA Active 2 Setup

 

 

The program they are using for the veteran’s rehabilitation is the EA Active 2 for PlayStation 3.  The game uses three sensors; one for both your arms and one for your leg.  One of the arm sensors also contains a heart rate monitor.  Included with the sensors and the game is a resistance band.

The workouts are entirely customizable, although you can choose a pre-made workout if you’d prefer.  This afternoon, I decided to test the program and see if it would get me to break any kind of a sweat.  I must say, I was surprised at the results.

My workout I designed consisted of approximately 50 minutes of workout time.  I chose to do a couple warm up exercises like shoulder rotations and knee tucks.  I added cardio to the beginning of the workout to get my heart rate up.  I chose to do mainly sprints in which you race against the computer avatars in the game.  By the end of the cardio, my heart rate was up slightly and I was ready to move on to the main body of the exercises.

I chose to do a lower body and abdominal workout.  I would perform moves like alternating jump split lunges, split lunges with high knees and squats.  After every lower body set, I would move on to an ab exercise like flutter kicks and reverse crunches.  Each set varied in reps, but I had it set to HARD so the reps were about 24 and I did two sets each.

The alternating jump split lunges and the split lunges with high knees were by far the most challenging for me.  They are plyometric in the sense that you’re getting off the ground and at the same time strengthening your body.  My legs were hurting a little, but my heart rate was in the zone and I was doing some heavy breathing.  I chose to finish off with more cardio like mountain climbers and skipping (jump rope).  I ended with a few stretches to cool down.

 

Workout

Active 2 Workout

 

At the end of the workout, my heart rate monitor said I burned 330 calories in those 50 minutes.  This isn’t huge calorie burn.  Still, it’s a much, much better workout than I was expecting.  I’m sure I could make the workout even more difficult if I wanted to burn even more calories.  My average heart rate was about 123 according to the monitor, although I peaked at about 170.

 

Heart Rate

Heart Rate Monitor Reading

 

 

Overall, this is a much, much better program than the Wii Fit and offers a wide array of workout options.  I wouldn’t necessarily replace any of my current workouts that I do, but I would definitely add this to the mix.  It’s always good to have variety and at the end of the day, this is fun and you’ll absolutely break a sweat!  This video game is not the kind that will make your butt look big.

My Diet Pit Fall…almost.

 

Apple Dip

= DELICIOUS!

 

 

I recently fell victim to a not so healthy caramel apple dip.  It’s advertised as “low-fat” and tastes great!  But unfortunately the calories are 150 per tablespoon.  For someone who slathers her apples in the dip, I need something that allows for a little more wiggle room in terms of calories.  I probably have that one tablespoon after eating only two apple chunks.  This would have been a diet disaster if I hadn’t caught that on the nutrition label! Yikes!

A healthy alternative which I have been munching on is made with either non-fat yogurt or reduced-fat cottage cheese.

Directions:

Take about 1/3 cup of either the yogurt or cottage cheese

Add 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar

Add cinnamon to taste.  Also could add nutmeg if you like that extra flavor.

Now, I am not positive about what this equals in terms of calories per serving.  I just stumbled across this recipe on a random website and decided to give it a whirl.  I know for sure that even if the calories are similar to that of the caramel dip I am replacing, there are a ton of added health benefits that you get from eating the non-fat yogurt like calcium and protein.  The same can be said for the reduced fat cottage cheese.  Also, the light brown sugar is about 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon.  So if you add two table spoons, that would be 8 grams of sugar.  Still not too bad, especially if you don’t eat the whole thing of dip at one time or all to yourself!  Most yogurts that advertise having “fruit” in them also contain a ton of sugar anyways, so this is still not as much as you would be having otherwise.

Most importantly!! You are eating a healthy fruit full of fiber! Leave the skin on the apple for added nutrients.  This is actually a filling snack and will keep you from munching on crap the rest of the day.  I even eat this for dessert after dinner if I’m craving something sweet.

Lighter Everyday Mac and Cheese

I was looking for a healthy version of a favorite comfort food that I could make for dinner and not feel guilty about chowing down on a bowl.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it will be tonight’s dinner of choice.  I’ll be using whole wheat elbow noodles and may end up adding some ground flax for added nutrition.

Lighter Mac and Cheese

Lighter Mac and Cheese

 

Everyday Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 5

According to the recipe, don’t be tempted to use either preshredded or nonfat cheddar cheese in this dish—the texture and flavor of the mac and cheese will suffer substantially. For best results, choose a low-fat cheddar cheese that is sold in block form and has roughly 50 percent of the fat and calories of regular cheese (we like Cabot brand).

Salt
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
1 (12-ounce) can reduced-fat evaporated milk
3/4 cup 2 percent milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional)
Pinch cayenne
2 teaspoons cornstarch
8 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.
2. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.
3. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

Per serving: Cal 360; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 40 mg; Carb 45 g; Protein 24 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 720 mg

Variation: Everyday Macaroni and Cheese with Ham and Peas

Follow the recipe for Everyday Macaroni and Cheese, adding 2 ounces deli-style baked ham, cut into 1/3-inch pieces, and 3/4 cup frozen peas with the macaroni in step 3.

Per serving: Cal 390; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 45 mg; Carb 49 g; Protein 28 g; Fiber 3 g; Sodium 880 mg.

Thanks to the Early Show website for this recipe!

My Favorite P90x Moves

It took me forever to finally break down and buy the P90x system.  The price was the absolute biggest factor.  I couldn’t get myself to pay $120 dollars for a workout dvd.  Then I realized that most people pay at least that much going to a gym, so I found it to be more of an investment that anything.  Plus, even if I wasn’t the perfect P90x-er, I was still going to get a great workout.  In the end, I went on Amazon.com and found the system for $80 used.  I couldn’t say no to that price!

So I’m going to share with you my favorite moves from the workout dvd’s.  Now you can try these at home or at your gym and see if they work for you.  At the very least, you’ll see what I’ve been doing these past few weeks! I’ll try to explain them as best as possible. I’d much rather demonstrate them, but I supplied pictures to help you see what I am saying in my description of each move.

Here are my Top 5 Exercises

5) Balance Lunges

Balance Lunges

Balance Lunge

This move belongs to the Legs and Back series of exercises.  I love this move and was doing them even before P90x.

Place top of foot (or tiptoes) on chair. Lunge outward with other leg. Be sure to keep knee over ankle.  Dip down without allowing your knee to move past ankle. If necessary, modify by placing top of foot on chair. To intensify: Add light weights and increase range of motion.

4) Dive Bombers

Dive Bomber

Dive Bomber

The dive bomber is awesome.  I can usually only do 8-10 because my arms literally collapse.  This is part of the Chest and Back workout.

Begin in a “downward facing dog”-like position but with wider feet and arms.

Lower your head to the ground as you arch your bad – pretend there is a fence and you are going to go underneath it.  Stay on your toes as you do this move.

Finish by pushing yourself upwards.  Your back will be arched.  Your chest should be up with straight arms – this is like an “upward dog” pose in yoga.  You should still be kind of on your toes, your knees shouldn’t be touching the ground.

To go into the next move, either push back into a downward dog or do the move in reverse by lowering back into the second part of the exercise and again back into the downward facing position.  Either will work, but doing the move in reverse will be harder.

3) Right Angle Pose and Extended Right Angle Pose

 

Extended Right Angle Pose

Extended Right Angle Pose

This one is kind of tricky to explain, but I’ll do my best.  This is my favorite move from the Yoga series.  Begin in a deep lunge, don’t allow your knee to extend over your ankle in the process.  Next, raise your arm over your head.  Your other hand can balance on the ground nearest your front foot for now.

Next, bring your raised arm back behind you.  Use the other arm to reach under your front thigh and grab your wrist.  Hold this pose for 30 seconds or so.  Then do the other side with the opposite leg in front and the opposite arm reaching behind and underneath you.

2) Jump Knee Tuck

 

Jump Knee Tuck

Jump Knee Tuck

This is fairly straight forward.  The jump knee tuck exercise is part of the Plyometrics workout.  Basically, you’ll want comfortable shoes for this one and a cushy mat under you.  You’re going to spring off the ground and tuck your knees into your chest then land on your toes.  Try to make sure you don’t come booming down to the ground – you should land relatively quietly if you’re landing on the balls of your feet.  Do this multiple times for at least 30 seconds.  The last 10 seconds, pick up the pace and do as many as you can very fast.

1) The Push-Up

 

Push Up

Push Up

Surprise!  Anyone who has read through my blog knows I am a stickler for push-ups.  They really are the best exercise that hits all the best places on your body.  You’ll work your chest, butt, arms and abs.  No more saggy anything with this move.  Heck, if it’s good enough for those tough army soldiers, it’s good enough for me!

Now, start in the plank position.  Lower yourself, keeping your back straight (not saggy and don’t allow your butt to stick out in the air).  Keep lowering your body until your arms form a 90 degree angle.

Next push back up onto your hands, keeping proper form and then repeat the exercise.

Your wrists may hurt, so try getting the push up bars as these will keep your wrists from straining and will also extend your range of motion.

So there is just a taste of my daily burn.  I’ll post more exercises as I go.  I hope this helped anyone who was curious as to what the P90x program entails.  Obviously there is a LOT more exercises, these are just my favorites that I look forward to sweating through.

P90x Update Part 2

So it’s been a while since I posted an update, but after the holidays I decided to sort of start the program over. I had missed too many days and I didn’t feel like I was doing myself any favors by pretending my slacking wouldn’t matter.

This time I’m not using the same recipes that is recommended in the P90x nutrition manual; however, I am cooking healthy meals for myself. I am mainly using my Taste of Home cookbook, which has a whole section dedicated to 30 minute healthy meals. I haven’t had a flop yet and even my husband agrees that they taste delicious. The P90x meal plan was fine, but it required a lot of random ingredients that may only be used for one recipe. Overall though, their nutrition plan is probably good, but I find my healthy cookbooks and allrecipes.com to be my personal favorites.

I’ve been strict on getting my workout in every morning. I’ve noticed that the more I do it, the easier it is to wake up and do it again. My body is sore the next day, but I’m sure that’s because of the long holiday hiatus I embarked upon and will get better as I go.

The good news is I have lost 3-4 pounds and it is staying off. I weigh myself consistently first thing in the morning and before breakfast. This makes it more accurate of a measurement of my progress.

I will post a before and after picture for all in the next couple days!

Rehabbing with the Troops

Wedding Day Bliss

Wedding Day Bliss

For those of you who don’t know, my husband was a combat medic stationed in Afghanistan.  We actually met while he was overseas.  I was working in another library and had heard that they needed care packages sent to help boost troop morale.  I put together a box full of books and snacks and hygiene products, but I didn’t want to send it anonymously.  My friend had been in Iraq and mentioned that they didn’t take anonymous mail seriously.  So, I randomly came across my now husband’s name online and sent the package to him.  He wrote back thanking me and we kept in constant contact for the next 6 months or so.  When he was finally sent back to the states he immediately flew to Wisconsin to meet me and my family.  We’ve been together ever since.

At Work in Afghanistan

At Work in Afghanistan

When he got back from being deployed, he was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.  The right side of his body doesn’t work properly and for a while he couldn’t write his name.  From the outside you can’t really tell, but every now and then some symptom shows itself.  He wasn’t allowed to workout for the rest of the time he was in the Army because they felt that it might worsen the symptoms of the TBI.  He ended up putting on some extra weight and hasn’t been able to find the motivation to lose it.  We’ve bought all the workout equipment and every now and then he’ll get a boost of energy, but overall he just needs that team-like feel and extra support that he got while in the Army.

So just recently he was accepted into a program called Rehabbing with the Troops.  He has to do certain workouts and challenges along with other veterans while posting videos and blogging about the experience.  I’m very happy for him because he now has that brotherhood of support that was lacking and he’s truly excited about starting the program and getting in shape!

I’ll keep you posted on his progress as he goes!

How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year's Resolutions

Every year you say to yourself, “This will be the year!” and then…it isn’t.  Why? Probably various reasons.  If you’re like me, you’re really good at talking yourself out of things and making excuses.

That being said!  If you’re dedicated to making a change in your life, be it exercising, eating right or whatever else, you need to have some tools and the right mind set if you’re going to get off the starting block.

Here it goes…

1) Keep your goals reasonable. Don’t start off saying, “I will never eat dessert EVER again” or “I will exercise for one hour EVERY single day without fail”.   While these are great goals, they aren’t necessarily realistic.  There may be days where you can’t fit in your hour long exercise or you fall off the wagon and eat a scoop of ice cream.  You’re ultimately setting yourself up to fail because you’re not being realistic.  Not to mention you might just get burnt out on the rigidness of your plan.

2) Be flexible with your aspirations. Give yourself some wiggle room (not too much though!).  If you want to start exercising, commit to incorporate so many hours of exercise in per week.  This allows for some flexibility and if you can’t fit in an hour one day, you can do a little more the next day or just push yourself harder.  If you’re dieting, don’t swear off dessert entirely, but maybe say you’ll only treat yourself once a week to a scoop of ice cream or make healthier dessert choices.

3) Understand that you are in control of the choices YOU make. With any commitment, you will find yourself being tempted to go off your track.  Be aware that this will happen BEFORE you start.  Don’t just assume that this will be easy.  You are going to crave foods you shouldn’t eat.  You are going to want to sleep in and skip your workout.  Prepare for these in advance.  Have healthy choices in the house.  Throw yourself out of bed regardless of how tired your are.  Recognize you have choices in front of you and you can decide what you’re going to do.  Each one will have a consequence.  If you lay in bed, you will get sleep, but you won’t get in shape.  If you eat that double quarter pounder you will be full, but your body will not like you for it.  You are in control.

4) Surround yourself with positive people. You’re going to need people in your life who support you and will be there for you when you need them.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch those who just aren’t fitting in with your life, but be aware that people can be noxious.  These are the people that make you feel completely drained just by talking to them, they bring you down.  They are not the type of people you’ll want to listen to if you’re sincerely committed to your goals and aspirations.

Instead, find people who will be honest and supportive.  Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or whoever you know will be there for you when you need them.

5) Learn to brush yourself off. If you fall off or lose sight of your goals, get back up and try again!  This does not mean you failed.  This means you get another go around.  Keep sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and remember all the reasons you made the commitment in the first place.  Do NOT punish yourself.  This is not productive.  Do NOT beat yourself up.  Just admit that you went off track and find the reason for it.  Maybe the snacks in your pantry were too tempting, so get rid of those snacks and replace them with healthy options.  Then try AGAIN!

The bottom line is that we all have goals in our life or things we aspire to achieve. They are not easily obtained, but the things we want in life are never necessarily easy.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.  Go into this with a positive attitude and with positive people.  Acknowledge there will be difficulties and keep going!