Category Archives: health/well-being

Zombies Prefer Simple Sugars

So I’m still struggling with the belly fat. I can feel a layer of muscle in my abdomen, but it’s deep under a layer or two (or three) of jiggly fat. I don’t expect to have a flat belly or anything at my age; I’d just like to stop the jiggle. FIRMNESS is what I’m striving for. I haven’t been counting calories or points. I haven’t even been weighing in – just hoping for the jeans to get looser. So far, no good.

So here’s what I’ve been eating:

  • Fresh vegetables and fruit – SOOO MUCH veggies & fruit. Important key: splurge on the precut stuff. You’re more likely to eat it, making it a better investment than the whole fruit or veggie that will rot in your fridge & have to be thrown away. Case in point: I love fresh pineapple, but I’m never going to eat it if I have to wrestle with a whole pineapple. Also salads are much faster with pre-washed, pre-torn greens. I like baby spinach in the plastic shell. Easy to grab a handful for a sandwich or salad, no additional storage container required. Also, spring for some pricey additions than make a salad exciting – artichoke hearts, capers, hearts of palm, etc… whatever you like.
  • Lean meats: fish, b/s chicken breasts, 93% lean beef. I’ve also been substituting Morningstar Farms “meat” for beef in some cases, such as spaghetti sauce. My family didn’t even notice. Canned salmon in water isn’t bad, and leftover grilled chicken makes a good, fast chicken salad in my Ninja chopper the next day with a little low-fat mayo (see below). I also like the “krab” meat in the fish case in salads or sandwiches.
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy: Greek yogurt by the ton. Can you believe that stuff is low-fat or fat-free??! I feel guilty eating it. It’s like pudding. I can never go back to regular yogurt now. Plain Greek yogurt makes a nice substitute for sour cream on a baked sweet potato & it’s thick enough to use for a dip – with a bag of Lipton’s or a package of Hidden Valley mixed in. Low-fat string cheese. Feta & Parmesan cheese are nice additions to a salad & are inherently low-fat.
  • Whole grains: I’ve been making my chicken salad on a whole wheat sandwich thin or whole wheat tortilla. I love bread, but I’ve found that I really don’t need as much as I think I do to feel satisfied.
  • Condiments: These are about the only processed foods I allow myself. A girl has to have some excitement. Mustard, salsa, vinegar, pickles, capers & hot sauce – unlimited. Low-fat salad dressings are much better now than they were a few years ago. They don’t taste so much like science. My favorite right now is a store-brand balsamic vinaigrette. Not as much of a fan of the creamy family, like low-fat ranch. I’m in love with the mayo made with olive oil; it’s half the fat of regular mayo & makes me feel virtuous because olive oil is good for you. I use that in my chicken, salmon, or “krab” salads.

So a typical day’s menu looks like this:

  • Breakfast – cup of Greek yogurt & a piece of fruit. This doesn’t hold me long, but I have lunch pretty early, so no worries. If you have to wait longer, old-fashioned oatmeal (not the quickie kind!) with some frozen fruit thrown in will hold you for HOURS.
  • Lunch – chicken salad with low-fat mayo & dill relish on a whole wheat tortilla with a handful of baby spinach thrown in. Fresh pineapple or an orange. The protein from the meat usually holds me till about 4:00. If I need something crunchy, I get some veggie chips or Sun Chips from the vending machine.
  • Afternoon snack – A little cottage cheese or low-fat string cheese. Maybe a few Triscuit crackers. They are whole wheat & baked, so I feel pretty safe with them. The rosemary & olive oil flavor is OUTSTANDING.
  • Dinner – Marinated fish or chicken on the grill or in the Nu-Wave over (I love that thing!) Fresh veggies in a salad (or just crudités… my kids love to just eat plain veggies with ranch or onion dip – see above). Seasoned brown rice or quinoa. I sometimes serve baked potatoes, but give myself a sweet potato – they’re better for you, but no one in my family will eat them but me. I like them with plain Greek yogurt, salt, and paprika sprinkled on them.

All that said, my jeans have gotten no looser. But I know I’m eating better, so there’s that consolation. I could probably stand to control my portions a little better, so that will be the goal for this week. Coming soon, my take on water intake.


Muscle is Essential to Escaping the Zombies (and it’s tough on the teeth)

A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of my anti-depressants. I’d been taking them since a rock-bottom moment back in 2008. In the past, if I ran out and was unable to refill for a day or two, I was a hot mess. Not just emotionally, but physically. It screwed with my equilibrium – made me dizzy, nauseous and unable to hold my head up straight. I would have to sleep for many hours to recover. So naturally, when I ran out, I emailed my local free pharmacy (AKA my mother) for a refill. For whatever reason, she didn’t answer my email, or I never saw her response… whatever. A few days passed. I suffered some minor nausea, but nothing that left me unable to function. So I thought, “What if I just try to go without?” Now I assure you, I knew this was probably a really bad idea. Once before, I had been feeling more myself, so I tried cutting my dosage in half. Within a few days my husband and children were begging me to go back to normal.

But this time, once the nausea subsided, something strange happened. I had an incredible burst of energy. I started waking up at 4:00 AM (when my fiancé unfortunately gets up for work). I started making breakfast, and going to the gym. Then I would go to work, followed by my part-time after-work job, come home and cook dinner. I was in bed by 9:00, but not exhausted! Just pleasantly tired from a good day’s work.

It’s a good feeling. So I’m going to go with it and see where it takes me. Right now, I’ve set myself a goal of being firm and toned for my wedding in 102 days. (Not thin, did you catch that, loyal reader? Just firm and toned.) I’ve decided to see how many days in a row I can go to the gym without a break. I’m at 8 days straight as of today. And yesterday I felt a muscle in the back of my thigh.

If you’re curious about what I do at the gym every. single. day. here is a breakdown of the general routine I’ve set for myself:
◾Day 1 – Upper body strength training, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio on treadmill or recumbent bike, followed by 15 minutes in hot tub or sauna.
◾Day 2 – Lower body strength training, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio on treadmill or recumbent bike, followed by 15 minutes in hot tub or sauna.
◾Day 3 – 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, followed by 15 minutes in hot tub or sauna. (A day off from strength training gives my muscles a little break; plus, that elliptical is a hard workout!)
◾Rinse and repeat.

When I joined the gym last summer, a trainer set up my strength training routine for me, but I’ve tweaked it on my own to focus on those areas I most want to tone. If you’re new to the gym scene, they usually give you a couple of free sessions with a trainer. I highly recommend taking advantage of that, not only because having someone teach you to use the machines properly can prevent injury – but also because if you’re not exercising properly, you’re wasting your time (and I’m specifically referring to strength training. It’s hard to do cardio wrong.) You should also find out your ideal heart rate range & try to stay in that range for at least 20 minutes per session for maximum benefit. You don’t have to kill yourself with cardio – just keep your heart rate elevated a little. The machines are designed to monitor this for you.

Back from the Dead

It’s been 3 years since I or my fellow zombie bait posted here, and somehow the zombie apocalypse has not yet occurred. We all know what that means… it’s sure to happen any day.

A lot has happened to me in that 3 years. I’ve gotten divorced (almost, give me 6 more weeks); gotten remarried (almost – 102 days & counting); and stopped and started dieting and exercise approximately 8,000,000 times. About 18 months ago, I got serious and started attending Weight Watchers religiously. Over 9 months, I successfully lost 60 lbs. In the spirit of total transparency, I was at my highest weight ever: 230 lbs. I brought it down to 170, with a final goal of 140. I was diligent and strict as hell about recording every molecule of food that entered my mouth.

But something went wrong. During that time, I became single and started dating again. It was hard to diet on dates. No one wants to pull out the iPhone and start looking up point values when you’re trying to look cute and perky. Also, I found that I wasn’t in as much of a hurry to throw off that last 30 lbs. I already felt loads better about myself, and men seemed to find me attractive enough as I was. So I hit a plateau. In the last 9 months, I’ve managed to maintain most of that 60 lb. loss, but I couldn’t – just couldn’t – seem to move any further. For a while I was satisfied with maintenance. And then…

I met the love of my life. The man who is my partner and my rock in every aspect of my life. He loves me just as I am, and makes me feel attractive and sexy as hell, but he also encourages my efforts to get healthier. All of a sudden, I want to start over. For me, not for him; but because of him I am motivated to actually get off my ass and lose those last 30 lbs. If I happen to gain Michelle Obama’s arms in the process, so be it.

the negative good

Fail Diet 2: Electric Boogaloo

Fail Diet