Deep Breath

Scale for BootcampHello, friends. Yes, I am still here and I still have much to share. Today, I want to update you on my journey of weight loss. Many of you had been following this vein of my blog with great interest back when I was in the thick of bootcamp, battling through numbers and frustration as I slowly crept towards my goal. Since then a lot has transpired….

When we last left off, I was approaching the end of my 10 week stint and had dropped down to 205 pounds. If you remember, my goal was to get below 200 pounds before my 30th birthday, April 24. Back in January/February, such a goal seemed like it would be a no brainer – in fact, I projected I would far exceed it. Did this happen? No. The lowest I saw my scale was 202, which occurred in the second week of April. At the time I was excited for boot camp to end. No more being held to a 6am start time, free to make my own work out schedule… But within two days of finishing boot camp I reverted back to my old ways. It was quite alarming – like a recovered alcoholic slipping back into the drink after years of sobriety. Now granted, I had planned to have a week of indulgence for my birthday, but let’s face it: it wasn’t my birthday week yet. And even if it was, it was still way too much.

Though I knew I was going really overboard, I just sort of let it happen. I’ve been here before: I wanted to remind myself how terrible I feel when I eat in such extreme excess. Let myself spiral downward until I feel so awful that I finally just snap out of it. The last weekend in April I was on the scoring stage with Thomas Newman at Fox. They keep a huge array of food out for the musicians – a cornucopia of empty carbohydrates and self-loathing. For two of my three days there this included an entire table devoted to Porto’s Bakery. I ate cookie after cookie after cookie and then went to the green room for the lunch buffet. When I used the alcohol analogy earlier, I wasn’t exaggerating – it is that level of addiction. Clearly not the food table’s fault.

By the time the first week of May rolled around, all the birthday hubbub was over; the cakes gone, the candies and treats cleared out. As I began to get back in touch with my life, I realized that (at least at that point in time) I was unable to take control of myself, therefore I needed a structure. I needed to regain a focused effort on a goal. I needed boot camp. Though I convinced myself I was ready for a break, in truth I was not even close. My ultimate goal was to be in the 180s and at 202, I still had a ways to go.

So, on Thursday May 2, I was back on the bike at 6am… and it felt amazing. In my last stint I wrote about many times where I felt frustrated. As much as I was working hard, I was also allowing myself to give in to poor states of mind: “oh it’s just sometimes impossible for me to get in at 6am” and “this diet is not really sustainable” etc etc. This time around, I am in a state of zen. I don’t think about the time, I don’t think about the food that I am eating or want to eat or wish I was eating. I just simply do it. Who cares if it’s early? Who cares if I hit a few road blocks? The time away from bootcamp was so necessary: it taught me that not only is intense exercise good for me, it makes me a better me. In many ways, I need it. And I am grateful that the ladies at RPM are affording me the opportunity to go at it once again.

On Thursday I was 214 pounds. This morning, 6 days later, I was 209. A good start. Just need to keep it going. Deep breath…

Purple Smoothie

Purple SmoothieDid you know that foods that are naturally purple (like blueberries or acai berries) are exceptionally high in antioxidants are therefore are super good for you? It’s true. Back in 2010 when I first began my weight loss journey, before I discovered juicing, I would have a purple smoothie every morning with a slice of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread. It is such a good breakfast. In fact I may just have to start doing it again.

Blend all of the ingredients below in a magic bullet or whatever blender system you have. I specify the Sambazon variety of acai berry juice because this is the brand they carry at Costco – it’s 2 bottles for $10, whereas one bottle will run you around $7 at Whole Foods. I also get all my frozen berries at Costco. Usually I buy one of their huge bags of frozen strawberries and either frozen blackberries or whatever berry blend they have available. It lasts for weeks and is such a good bang for your buck. As far as bananas go, the more ripe the better. If you like your smoothies extra thick and cold you can freeze the bananas once they’re ripe and add them to  your smoothie that way. At the end of the day, it’s your smoothie, so put in whatever you like – I’d love to hear your variations!

The Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup Sambazon acai berry juice
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 fresh or frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries or blueberries
  • 1 large frozen strawberry
  • 1 generous squeeze of honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground flaxseed
  • pinch of old fashioned rolled oats
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)

Now I am not an advocate of protein powders and the like because at the end of the day they are super processed products that your body will have trouble digesting. However, if you must, this smoothie will be a perfect vehicle for that or any kind of powdered or liquid supplement you take.

Sodium: The One You Always Overlook

Photo Feb 18, 1 07 53 PMLast Week’s Number: 211
This Week’s Number: 207

Happy Monday, loyal readers! For those of you off from work celebrating the holiday, hope you’re treating yourself to something fun. This has been a fairly successful week for me, as you can see from the numbers above – very exciting. I will admit that the past few days have been a bit of a deviation. Valentine’s Day prompted indulgence, which snowballed into more indulgence in the days following. But you know what, I needed it, and I’m anxious to be in full swing again.

My lesson this week is a very basic, but one that is very easy to forget. First, read your labels – that we all know. But when you do, don’t forget to pay attention to sodium content. Most of us, whether on a weight loss journey or not, are focused on calories, protein, carbs, and fat – and rightfully so. But we forget that too much salt can completely erase all the merits of food that appears to otherwise be healthy. This really hit home yesterday when I was looking through my cabinet in search of some beans. I’m a big lover of kidney beans and though I try and avoid them when I’m on a serious weight kick, I was in the mood for something hearty. And besides, despite being starchy, beans are good for you, right? I pulled the can off the shelf, glanced at the label, and was shocked to see that one serving of these beans contains 400mg of sodium. Normally I would eat an entire can, which would be a whopping 1500mg of sodium!! Aahh!

Let me put this into perspective. This article published by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that the body needs 180-500mg of sodium per day to function. The recommended adequate daily intake of sodium is 1,500mg, with the absolute maximum for healthy adults being about 2,300mg. My bootcamp max? 800mg. This innocent can of beans has almost twice that. Holy crap. What’s so bad about all this sodium, you ask? Consuming too much salt raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart attack and stroke, both of which are in the top three killers of Americans. Yikes! This is precisely why one should never turn to frozen dinners or canned soup to supplement one’s healthy lifestyle. Have you ever looked at the salt content for one of those Progresso “zero weight watcher points” soups? Last time I looked it was nearly 1,000mg… PER SERVING. Bad news.

Now don’t get me wrong, I looooove salt. I can’t stand people who say “well I don’t use salt when I cook” or restaurants who try to blame their bland food on “well some people don’t like salt” – horse manure. If you ask me, if you’re not using salt, then you’re not cooking. The difference is that when you cook your own food from fresh ingredients, you are in control of the salt content, not some manufacturer trying to mask their terrible product.

The lesson: when you’re checking labels and trying to do something good for your body, dont’ forget the sodium!

Here is a list of culprits to watch out for:

  • Frozen veggie patties
  • Canned fish (tuna, salmon)
  • Canned soups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned or boxed stock/broth (try comparing a box of Swanson chicken broth to a box of Trader Joe’s)
  • Salad Dressing
  • Condiments (soy sauce, hot sauce)
  • Cold cuts and other processed meats

Step by Step, Pound by Pound

Big Shirt 20 Pounds Down
Three weeks ago this shirt was snug. Now it’s a tent!

Last Week’s Number: 215
This Week’s Number: 211

Well, friends, this is the beginning of week 5 of bootcamp. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see those numbers going down. I look thinner and more importantly, I feel thinner, lighter, and generally enthused about all this friggin work I’m doing. And how could I not? Down 14 pounds since the beginning of bootcamp, 21 pounds since December. Not too bad at all. But that doesn’t mean this week was all smooth sailing. Believe it or not, the 4 pounds I lost came off in the first two days. By Tuesday I was down to 211 and that’s where I’ve stayed since. This stagnation is not a mystery to me. Surely you remember my dazzling post about my splurging at the At Last Cafe. As relatively controlled as it was, a splurge is still a splurge. You can’t expect it to have no consequences. But you know what, it was totally worth. And I have to confess that I actually splurged again at P. F. Chang’s on Friday night. Nothing too over the top – an egg roll, a few dumplings, some fried tofu. Still, when you eat as clean and pure as I have been during the week, an item like a deep fried egg roll is going to make an impact. But again, totally worth it.

I think the lesson I’ve reminded myself of is that, even when gunning for a goal, one can still enjoy those guilty pleasures, provided one keeps them in check. I mean, hey, I still lost 4 pounds this week – that’s pretty damn good. And you know, sometimes you do just need a night where you need to binge and so you completely let go, much like when I had gnocchi and tiramisu several weekends ago. And you know what? That’s ok too. Just as long as you pick back up and keep going.

How about all of you? Anybody have any big hurdles to climb over this week? Any big breakthroughs? I want to hear them.

I’m feeling really good about this week – let’s try and make it killer!

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Magic Green Elixir

Perhaps one of the best habits my weight loss journey has brought me to is juicing. If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever consider buying a juicer and using it to juice fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, I would have said absolutely not. I mean, what a ridiculous concept – time consuming, expensive, and who wants to eat juiced kale?? I was perusing Netflix about 6 months ago looking for health documentaries (I am obsessed with current health trends and research) when I came across a movie called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It’s the story of an Australian man who goes on a quest to cure his body of a chronic disease that was causing him to spontaneously break into hives. What was his method? 60 days of drinking only fresh juice, followed by a 6-month diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. And you know what? It worked. He lost 75 pounds in 60 days and by the end of his 6-month follow-up diet, he was completely off all his medication. Cured. The next day I bought a juicer.

What is so great about it, you ask? Well, I’ll leave it to you to watch movie and learn all the details, but he basic premise is this: fresh fruits and vegetables contain absurd amount of nutrients and phytochemicals that your body needs to thrive. By juicing a mess of veggies and fruits, you are hyper-concentrating the nutrition of what would be three meals of vegetables into one drink that your body can absorb almost instantly. I can honestly tell you that adding juice to my diet (it’s my breakfast every morning) has really been integral in my struggle for balance and healthy weight. If you read my post from earlier today, you know I’ve been battling a head cold for the past week. Though what I want is comfort food, what I know my body will really benefit from is my Magic Green Elixir – the recipe I have settled on as my go-to juice. You of course can juice anything you like, but what’s important is making sure it’s green. The nutrients you get from Kale or any leafy greens are what really make the juice worthwhile.

Now I know some of you are thinking, wait, I thought you were the starving artist – how can you just go out and drop $140 on a juicer? Simple answer: timing. If I saw the movie this week, I would certainly not be buying a juicer. However, I happened to have a little wiggle room and decided I wanted to make it happen. And honestly I’ve used the juicer almost every day since then. Absolutely worth it.

Also I should say that I don’t necessarily encourage you to go on a full on juice fast. I mean, if you want to and your doctor says it’s ok, go for it. But I have to tell you I tried it for two weeks. I lost a good chunk of weight, like 17 pounds, but once I was done I went on vacation and guess what? It all came back… and then some. I think if you’re looking to jump start a new healthy regimen, juice fasting for a day or two first can be a great way to jump start. But for me, I find that using juice as part of my every day health-conscious diet works best for me.

I’ve decided to drink juice twice a day today and tomorrow and see if it helps get me better faster. We’ll see how it goes. Does anyone out there juice? Any favorite recipes or success stories?

Magic Green Elixir Recipe

  • 2 large handfuls of Trader Joe’s Southern Green Blend
    (or whatever greens you like – kale, spinach, collard, etc)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 small apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger
  • 3 sprigs of fresh parsley

Related Juicing Links