I do what i want!

I was talking with a friend about how some people feel the need to comment on what I or other people are eating: “Oh, that looks healthy,” “Yuck, I don’t like beans,” “Wow you always bring homemade stuff. I don’t know how you have time for that,” “I’ve never seen you eat a piece of cake before! Are you off your diet?” “You know avocados are bad for you, right? Too much fat.”

Just because I’m eating a salad doesn’t mean I’m sad!

I don’t know why, but it really bugs me. I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt and say that most of them don’t mean anything by it, but there’s there other group of people who say that stuff to judge, like they want you to explain your choices. It’s annoying.

I’m allowed to eat what I want, when I want to. I’m allowed to enjoy healthy and not-so-healthy stuff. I can eat a kale salad for lunch one day, and 3 chili dogs the next [see: 4th of July]. I don’t need to explain myself to you, and you don’t need to explain yourself to me. We can all just eat what we want. I don’t ask you about what you’re eating or lecture you on why having a frozen meal or McD’s for lunch every single day isn’t good for you. I don’t comment that Coke you’re drinking is bad for you. I don’t draw attention to your meal just because you’re opting to have a salad for lunch instead of your usual burger and fries (it goes both ways!). People like variety. You don’t have to eat one way all the time!

My general rule of thumb is that unless I’m genuinely interested in the recipe or something looks really good to me (and I’d like to re-create it at home), I don’t comment or ask questions about other people’s food. It just seems rude to pester someone or give a running commentary on what they’re eating; you have no idea what their history or situation is. Maybe they are recovering from an eating disorder, just found out they have a food allergy, are trying to eat healthier, were craving some chicken nuggets (ahem), or just grabbed a bunch of random leftovers from their fridge. Instead of scrutinizing other people’s choices, take a few minutes to evaluate your own. Then do what YOU want! Eat happy, and mind your own business.


Sometimes, you just need some FAT

In general, I’m a pretty healthy eater. I typically prefer whole foods and produce to packaged goods and meat. However, I also have a notorious savory tooth (as opposed to a sweet tooth).

Most mornings, I wake up and eat a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and down a few glasses of water before my workout. On long run days, I’ll throw a banana in there. When I come home, I make breakfast part deux, which is almost always a few slices of turkey bacon, iced coffee with 2% milk and sometimes an egg.

Thursday was a little different. My alarm went off, and I couldn’t pry myself out of bed for the life of me, despite going to bed relatively early. So, I let myself sleep in, which really didn’t help much. I made it to the gym and pounded out my 3 miles, as prescribed by my training schedule. It was a good run. I felt strong and fast.

When I got home, something was different. I just wasn’t hungry. At all. So, instead of my usual routine of a protein-laden second breakfast, I just had my coffee and packed extra food to take to work, anticipating that I’d be really hungry later.

When my dinner break rolled around, I took out my food and realized that not a single thing I had packed seemed appetizing to me. The items I had were all things that I really like to eat, maybe even love. But for some reason, nothing tasted good or satisfied my hunger.

I ate a yogurt and gave up on dinner. I was dragging, hard. Like, practically falling asleep at my desk.

An hour or so later, I realized I really, really wanted some chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald’s. I didn’t just want them; I felt like I needed them. Not exactly the healthiest choice.

While I was recovering from surgery, my BFF introduced me to Bravo’s various Real Housewives shows. I’ve become a big fan of the NYC version, and through that, a fan of Bethenney Frankel. I’ve been reading her book Naturally Thin, and although the advice contained within is hardly new, it is helpful. Something that she stresses throughout the book is that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of foods that you truly enjoy just because they’ve been labeled as being “bad.” However, that doesn’t mean that you can eat as much of it as you want, either. You have to listen to your body, give it what it wants, and pay attention so that you don’t overdo it. “You can have it all, just not all at once,” she says.

So, when my craving for McDonald’s hit me like a ton of bricks, I stopped and assessed my situation. Was I really hungry? Yes. What had I eaten so far that day? Low-fat, low-sodium whole foods with very little protein. Would McDonald’s really meet my needs at the moment? Absolutely.

My body was craving fat and protein, specifically those chicken nuggets. However, instead of going all out and getting the 10-pack with a large order of fries, I opted to get the small Happy Meal. Not the 6-pack with medium fries. Just the small. It satisfied my craving and fulfilled my needs for heartier calories, but I didn’t feel like garbage after eating it because I hadn’t overeaten.

In fact, I felt energized and ready to get on with my evening.

Giving your body what it really needs doesn’t always mean choosing the salad over the steak, or in my case, fried bits of processed chicken. Assess your craving and try to figure out why you’re having it. If it’s because  you need those nutrients, indulge it — in moderation.

The importance of order

The lack of recent blogs is attributable to many things, but mostly to the fact that I had pretty major surgery back in June and was unable to exercise for several weeks. That’s all over now (and I’m fine, thank God), so on to bigger and better things.

I’ve talked about making time for exercise and eating well before, but one thing that I’ve found really helps me get my workout in and ensures that I pack a healthy lunch is the order in which I do things.

See, I’d found myself frequently pressed for time before work, and though I’d almost always manage to complete my workout, I’d rush to work empty-handed in the lunch department. That means no snacks during the day and fewer healthy (and cheap) options for dinner. Also, I was putting my coworkers’ lives in danger by allowing my blood sugar to drop so low.

So, to get my priorities in order, I made one simple switch: I make my lunch immediately after I work out, before I shower and get ready for work.* This isn’t a huge change, but it helps me budget my time better. It puts figuring out my food for the day ahead of putting on makeup and over-styling my hair. It lessens the rush I put myself through before I hop in the car for the commute to work. It gives me peace of mind that, if nothing else, I will be well-fed throughout the day.

If I dawdle or oversleep, it’s not my workout or lunch that suffers – it’s my appearance. And if having a great variety of healthy food packed in my lunch box means having to wear my hair in a ponytail because I didn’t get a move on, then so be it. I still look good for work, and I don’t have to worry about mortally harming my coworkers as I rampage to the vending machine for a Snickers bar.

*I work nights, so I have more time in the morning than most people. Obviously, packing your healthy lunch the night before work would serve the same purpose.

Working around injury

Ever since I started working at a newspaper back in college, I’ve had mild carpal tunnel syndrome. Most of the time, it’s a minor annoyance; tingly fingers and sore forearms, but it can be quite painful. It’s pretty dependent on how many days I work in a row and what other activities I’ve been doing. It’s been pretty bad lately, so I’ve been trying to scale back the types of exercises I do to give my poor little wrists a break. Given that Jillian videos and circuit training typically comprise my workouts, that puts me in trouble! Push-ups, planks, mountain climbers, etc., are integral to those routines.

To shake things up and give myself the chance to recover, I’ve been doing my regular videos but modifying exercises that require me to be in push-up or plank position. Instead of mountain climbers, I’ll do jumping jacks; instead of push-ups, I’ll do dumbbell rows; instead of plank twists, I’ll do bicycle crunches. You get the idea. This enables me to get the general benefit of the original exercise without aggravating my injury. I’ve also found that it helps to use a set of hand weights as hand holds for push-ups and the like. Instead of placing my hands flat on the ground, which puts them at a 90-degree angle, I’ll set my weights down where my hands need to be and grasp them like a handle while I do the exercises. This keeps my wrist straight and reduces the amount of strain I put on my forearms.

These modifications seem to work for me, and I don’t have to sacrifice my workout. What do you do to work around injury and give yourself a chance to recover?

Making the Cut – The Verdict

So, I’ve more or less finished Making the Cut. I have to admit, I didn’t stick to it 100% – I switched up some days off and modified the meal plan. It also took me longer than 30 days; more like 35, but I’m pleased with the results.

I took my measurements yesterday to find that I’ve lost a total of 6.5 inches from my body. I feel that’s pretty impressive, considering I wasn’t particularly out of shape to begin with. I don’t know what my weight is, but I’ll try to access a scale in the next few days to find out.

I can only imagine the results I’d have gotten if I’d followed the plan without any modifications. I have to say, Making the Cut is a superb program, especially if you have a specific event (wedding, vacation, whatever), that you want to look fit for. Even if you can’t follow it to the letter, just limiting your calories to the suggested amount and doing the prescribed workouts will yield serious results.

Moving forward, I’m upping my calorie uptake a little, and I’m going to do a rotation of Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism; No More Trouble Zones and 30-Day Shred. Once it warms up a little, I’ll hit the ground running again.

My hope is to keep this up so I won’t have to make a mad dash to feel comfortable in a swimsuit come pool season. And I want to beat everyone at arm-wrestling.

Finding deals on organic food

I’ve been doing a lot of research on how the foods we eat can affect our bodies, and let me tell you, it can be quite terrifying. Dan and I watched “Food, Inc.” a few weeks ago (it’s on Netflix’s Watch Instantly, if you’re interested.) It’s a documentary about how our food is produced and processed, and how the farms and slaughterhouses of today are far removed from the farms of early America. I’ve also been reading Jillian Michaels’ “Master Your Metabolism,” which is an interesting bit of literature that explains how the artificial colorings, pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals we are exposed to affect how our endocrine system and metabolism work.

After becoming more aware of how our food is grown and processed, I’ve become a stickler for reading labels. High fructose corn syrup and artificial colors/flavors are in the strangest things. For instance, I never would have expected to read the ingredients on my Sara Lee 100% Whole Grain Bread and find high fructose corn syrup and a heaping dose of sodium among the ingredients, but they were both there, along with artificial colors/flavors and a variety of other nonfoods that I can’t pronounce. I was really surprised, and have since switched to BrownBerry Whole Grains. No corn syrup, no artificial colors/flavors, no preservatives.

After going through what I thought was a pantry stocked with healthy foods, I realized I’d been eating junk without even knowing it. Armed with my new knowledge and a desire to get the crap out of my cupboard, I headed to the grocery  store (Schnucks) to restock on good stuff.

It was expensive. Like, twice our normal budget.

However, after shopping around, I’ve found that Shop N Save has some of the best deals on organic items. The company carries a low-cost brand of organics called Wild Harvest. I was able to get a week’s worth of mostly organic groceries for two people for less than $60. Not too shabby.

Moving forward, here are some other ways I plan to save:

  • Shop for produce when it’s in season; it’s cheaper that way
  • Buy from farmer’s markets/local vendors
  • Look for organic proprietary brands at each supermarket
  • Stock up when there are good deals and freeze what I can’t use right away
  • If things are really tight, buy organic the foods I eat the most of and save on things that are one-time uses or occasional treats

I’d also like to try my hand at a growing a small veggie/herb garden, but that will have to wait until Dan and I have a yard of our own.

At any rate, I’m glad that I’ve found a way to get good, clean, ethically-produced food without breaking the bank. Happy shopping!

Gained pounds, lost inches

I don’t have my weight taken very often, because Dan and I don’t keep a scale. I prefer to monitor my weight loss/fitness level by how my clothes fit, primarily because I find scales to be discouraging. Case in point: Yesterday.

I went to the doctor, where they always weigh you. I’d actually gained about 2 pounds, which could be from anything — the time of day, water retention, my clothes, muscle mass, whatever. That was slightly disappointing, as I’ve been watching what I eat and working out so hard, but I just told myself that the number might not be accurate.

For a better assessment of how I’m doing on the Making the Cut program, I took my measurements. With my illness-related setbacks, I’m roughly on day 18, though it should be more like 20 or 21.

The verdict? Despite the apparent weight gain, I lost more inches. Total losses:

Left and Right thigh: -.5 in. apiece
Waist: -2.5 in.
Hips: -1 and some change

So, moral of the story? The number on the scale isn’t everything! If you feel better and your clothes are loose, be happy. Don’t let the scale get you don’t, and certainly don’t rely on it as an indicator of fitness.