Sweet Silver Lining

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Clean Eating January 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — dragonfly180 @ 7:48 am
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Someone asked on my Facebook page Love the Fit Life, “What types of foods should I focus on for losing weight? Is it only about calories?” You *can* eat 1400 calories worth of Milky Way bars and Cheetos each day and possibly lose a lb or two, but your body would be lacking serious nutrients, and your body would most certainly hold onto the trans fat you’re packing in. So yes, the food does matter.

There are umpteen dozen “diets” out there – low carb, the zone, raw food, south beach, paleo, weight watchers, medfast, Sonoma, perricone, 5 factor, atkins, dukan, glycemic index, rice diet, heck there’s even a cookie diet! Those diets may in the short term produce results, but they won’t keep you healthy for the long term. And of course, we know about all the weight loss pills and drinks and what happens when people finally get off them and still don’t know how to eat! What I’ve seen over the past several years that is the ONLY sustainable “diet” (one that is healthy to live with long-term and provides the necessary nutrients to do so!) that consistently produces results is what is called clean eating. Tosca Reno has a few books on the subject, and there is a ton of info out there. Just search clean eating and read some of the info. It basically emphasizes what most of us already know- eat whole, unprocessed foods (whole grains, lean meats, fruits, veggies), 1200-1800 calories per day depending on what your body needs, 4-6 smaller meals, and get regular exercise. The fewer the ingredients on the package, the better! The goal is no more than 3-6 ingredients on the ingredients list. If you can’t pronounce what’s in it, you probably don’t need it. Nix the sugar and saturated and trans fats as much as possible. Here is a great resource of different articles about eating clean: Clean Eating 101

While eating clean can be somewhat restrictive (Waaaah, I don‘t wanna do it! No fun!), it’s just sound nutritional advice. I am all about the sugar, but let’s be honest – I KNOW it’s bad for me. Will I never eat it again? Ha! We are all human and want some processed food occasionally. Even Tosca Reno promotes having a “cheat meal” each week, which I would call dessert! :o) Do I need dessert daily? Absolutely not.

Even if you don’t go wholeheartedly into the eat clean lifestyle, your weight loss efforts will definitely benefit from replacing even *some * of the processed foods you eat with clean eating. Just gotta make Hamburger Helper in all its trans fatty goodness for supper? Ok, have a small portion and add bigger portions of carrots and green beans to your plate. No one said eating healthier had to be the “all or nothing” approach, especially if your goals don’t include being a fitness model in the near future.

What’s that? You don’t like your veggies? Stop being a 5 year old, try them out for a while, and I promise that they will begin to taste better once you get away from all the over-processed, chemically treated junk you’ve been eating. Or change nothing and whine at the mirror every time a shelf of fat hangs over your jeans, your upper arms begin to look more like thighs, and your jowls begin to sag. Sit on the couch feeling sluggish and depressed Cry and lament every picture taken of you and posted and tagged on Facebook. Or better yet, just hide from every camera for the next decade until you have finally had enough of “living it up” on McDonald’s and Nabisco until there’s a whole chunk of your life missing from your kids’ photo albums.

Well, I wish you wouldn’t, but what can I do but put the info out there! I know I‘m being kind of abrasive here, but wake up and take control of things, you awesome person, you! Nobody can change you but you alone. Keep the words of the old Nina Simone song in mind, “It’s a new dawn, it’s new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feelin’ good.”


Tips for Labor Day Feasting September 4, 2011

Filed under: family,food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 4:03 pm
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Americans will use any excuse to have big get-togethers to eat lots of food and socialize. Labor Day is not exception. Here are some tips for making your Labor Day feast a little healthier:

  • drink a bottle of water before eating. it’ll help you feel full quicker.
  • use a smaller plate. you’ll spoon less potato salad or add fewer potato chips to your plate if there is less room. after all, if you’re still *actually* hungry after the smaller plate of food, it isn’t going anywhere. just get something else to eat if you need to.
  • fill up on veggies and healthier sources of protein, such as grilled chicken or turkey, and choose small portions of red meat or mayo-based sides like potato salad or pasta salad.
  • wait 15 or 20 minutes before getting dessert. most likely, you won’t even want it after you start digesting your food. choose fruit desserts over pies, puddings, and cakes. watermelon or fruit salad will save you lots of calories over that big hunk of key lime pie.
  • choose low- or no-calories beverages like water with lemon, flavored water, unsweetened tea with artificial sweetener, etc. no since in blowing calories on liquid when there’s yummy corn on the cob and ribs to be gobbled up!
  • get lots of activity. play with the kids outside, take the dog for a walk instead of catching a nap after lunch, or challenge the family to a game of badminton or frisbee. the more you move, the less damage that cole slaw or banana pudding is going to do to your waistline.



low calorie tricks June 28, 2011

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 7:37 pm
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to keep weight off, i’ve found that i have to make little tweeks to my diet to still eat some of the foods i love. one of the staples of my diet, especially since jamie has been gone, is cereal. i make a meal out of cereal quite often because it’s quick, easy, and i love it! :o) as i talked about in an earlier blog post, i’ve stopped drinking cow milk and now drink almond milk. recently, i tried out the unsweetened version, and it was good to my surprise! it is only 35 calories per cup! big difference! and that it isn’t overly sweet doesn’t even bother me. when i first began using it in my cereal, i’d add a little splenda to it, but i usually don’t even do that now. in fact, i pour up a glass of it and drink it straight. i really have come to like the taste of the unsweetened almond milk, so i’m glad i gave it a try.

another thing i love is pizza. one way i make it is to use tortillas for the crust. i also load up on veggies like spinach, olives (which have healthy fats in them, by the way), mushrooms, slices of tomato, etc., and stay light on the cheese. while i was browsing through walmart’s grocery department the other day, i came across Hormel turkey pepperoni. this stuff has 70% less fat that regular pepperoni. one serving of 17 slices has only 70 calories (only half what regular pepperoni has!) and 4 g fat (1.5 sat), whereas regular pepperoni has about 13 g fat per serving! straight out of the package, it tastes kinda like spicy beef jerkey, so i was skeptical about the taste on pizza, but when cooked with the other ingredients, it really does taste like pepperoni! yum!

those are a few of my low calorie tricks. do you have any you can share with us?


Almond Milk December 8, 2010

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 7:39 pm
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I am LOVING almond milk, which is made from ground almonds. I finally bought some the other day when I was at the grocery store, Silk Pure Almond in the Original flavor. First off, it actually tastes really good and doesn’t leave that nasty film in your mouth that dairy milk does. Second, it doesn’t spoil as quickly (a definite plus for when Jamie is gone) so less waste. Third, it has considerably fewer calories than fat free dairy milk (60 calories per cup versus 80 calories per cup of fat free dairy). Although almond milk has 2.5 grams of fat per serving, it’s the good-for-you unsaturated fats. It also has fewer carbs (sugar) than regular milk. It also has no cholesterol, whereas even fat free milk has 5 mg. It also has the antioxidant Vitamin E that regular milk doesn’t have and contains more calcium, too. You can also substitute it cup for cup in place of milk in baking and cooking. Its only drawback, in my opinion, is that almond milk has only 1 gram protein versus 8 grams in dairy milk. But when I’m strength training, I’m taking in whey protein powder anyway, so that shouldn’t be a big deal.


bodymedia fit November 29, 2010

I am thinking about getting a BodyMedia Fit (formerly GoWear Fit). This is a calorie management device much like the BodyBugg from The Biggest Loser. BodyBugg is actually made by BodyMedia, but the BodyMedia Fit uses different but similar software and also monitors sleep quality. The software that you use with it graphs all sorts of stuff, like how many calories you’ve burned , if you’ve created a calorie deficit, if you met a steps goal for the day, etc. Here’s more info on how it works:


The basic model, which does not include the display or Bluetooth capability, is nearly $200 (currently $179 on Amazon), and you must pay a monthly fee to use it. 3 months free is usually included in the bundle; at least, it is from Amazon. After that, the monthly fee ranges from $7 to $13 per month depending on how many months you subscribe to at a time. The monthly fee is the biggest drawback, in my opinion. You’ve already paid a high price for the gadget before any monthly fees are added in. Yet, every single person I’ve talked to or read about who uses the BodyBugg or GoWear Fit has seen great success with it. How much money is it worth to finally be able to reach your goals? I guess you have to answer that for yourself to determine if it’s worth it to you.

I have been sitting at the same weight for about 2 years now, give or take slight fluctuations from time to time. It’s kinda ridiculous. I didn’t even lose weight while training for my half marathon! I have 10-15 lbs to go before I’ll be back to my ideal weight and feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I’ve tracked food daily for months at a time, I’ve run myself to death (remember the 14 miler?!), I’ve strength trained until I’m just about sick of lifting dumbbells, yet I see no progress. I guess that maintaining my weight is a success in itself, but I know that I can lose this last little bit. I’ve just got to break through this plateau.

I wanted this device before my birthday in September, but I was convinced I could do it without the gadget. Well, I haven’t. So at this point, I’m thinking it might be a good idea. I asked Jamie to get me one for Christmas. So we’ll see. If he drags on it, I might buy it with the check I’ll get back from the military for paying for the hotel room when we went to the yellow ribbon event earlier this month. Either way, I’vm pretty much decided that I’ll get one of these by the end of December! :o)


Math Lesson: Counting Calories August 3, 2009

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 9:02 pm
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I’ve stressed the importance of knowing how many calories to take in each day in a previous blog. You may be asking why and how do you figure this out? Let me answer both of those questions.
You can do all the walking and crunches and swimming you want, but if you’re eating too many calories, you just will not lose weight. For the first entire year I ran, I had this problem. I was running so much each week, but the scale barely moved. I just could not figure it out. I finally read about calories and understood why. I was taking in too many calories daily. My running was burning enough calories that I wasn’t gaining any weight, but I couldn’t lose because I had not created a deficit.

Let’s go back to the Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the minimum that you body needs to survive and run bodily processes throughout the day while maintaining your weight as it is. To find out your BMR, use a BMR calculator: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
Or you can use the BMR formula if you just like to do equations!
English BMR Formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

Now, we have to do a little more math. My BMR is 1402.4 according to the BMR calculator.

Harris Benedict Formula

To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
3. If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Using the Harris Benedict Formula above, I am probably “very active” according to these guidelines, so I need to multiply my BMR (1402.4) by 1.725, which equals 2419. This is the amount of calories I need to sustain the amount of activity I’m doing if I want to maintain my weight. But I have to create a deficit if I want to lose weight.

There are 3500 calories in a lb of fat. So to lose 1 lb per week, I have to get rid of 3500 calories for the week through food, exercise, or preferably both. I need 2419 per day for maintenance at my activity level, which comes to 16,933 for the week (2419 x 7). Now, 16933-3500=13433. If you divide that over the seven days of the week, that’s 1919 per day. So I need to consume around 1900 calories per day to lose 1 lb. If I want to lose 2 lbs, I create a deficit of 7000 calories (or 3500 x 2). 16933-7000=9333/7=1419. Therefore, if I hope to lose 1 to 2 lbs, I need to consume between 1419 and 1919 per day. If I stop working out and become sedentary, I’d need far fewer calories per day in order to lose weight. So the more you workout, the more you are able to eat! :o) Never go below 1200 calories per day, though, even if the math comes out to less. This can be detrimental to your health and can also make you stop losing weight, because your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow down. You can make up for the extra calories by exercising.
For instance, suppose you are a sedentary person with a BMR of 1402.
1402.4 x 1.2 (for sedentary in the Harris Benedict formula above)= 1683 (your maintenance calories)
1683 x 7= 11781 (weekly calories for maintenance)
11781-3500= 8281/7= 1183(amount of calories needed per day to lose 1 lb. for the week)

Since this number is low and can possibly hurt your health, you could supplement it with exercise. For instance, walking for 30 minutes at my weight burns 156 calories. If I did that for four days each week, that would create a deficit of 624 calories that I could add back into my calories for the week, therefore enabling me to eat more calories per day while still losing the 1 lb. This is how the math would look:
11781 (weekly calories for maintenance) + 624 (your bonus calories from your exercise calorie deficit) = 12405 calories
12405-3500=8905/7=1272 calories per day (to lose 1 lb)
So by walking, you’ve gained yourself a few more calories per day to consume while still being able to lose the 1 lb. Imagine if you walked for an hour 5 days a week! But that’s enough math for me today.  ;o) If you want to see how many calories certain activities burn, check out this website:

One to two lbs per week is the suggested rate for losing weight. If you try to create a deficit for more than that, research shows that your chances of keeping it off in the long run are slim. Slow but steady weight loss should be your goal. That will also give you time to adapt to your new lifestyle.

Hope all that math wasn’t too discouraging. I just wanted to provide good examples. If you can figure out your calorie range and then start sticking to it, losing weight is pretty easy. Here are a few websites that will make it very easy to find calories for the foods that may not have labels you can peruse, such as fresh produce or a meal at a restaurant:



How I Started Running August 1, 2009

Filed under: hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 10:21 am
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When I started running, it was completely treacherous. I started out on a small, cheap treadmill that I bought at Walmart 3 years ago (it’s still going, by the way!). I had stopped smoking a year or so before that, and I decided that I didn’t have the crutch of bad lungs anymore to keep me from exercising. I began by running as much as I could and then walking and repeating it. So I’d run a whole minute or so and I’d walk for a few minutes. Then, I’d run another minute and walk. I never thought I’d make it to five whole minutes of running, then ten, and finally a mile. Those were all really big milestones for me. I remember being so excited that I’d hop onto the beginner’s forum at Runner’s World and tell everyone my accomplishments. They seem like nothing now, but I was really proud of myself for pushing forward. I was running at a 15 minute mile, the pace most people can walk. I was determined, though, to get faster.

I got terrible shin splints about a month or so into running. I was running on crappy training shoes that I bought at a discount shoe store. They were Adidas, but they were the wrong pair to be running in. I didn’t know this, so I kept running in them. The shin splints got so bad that I had to quit running for several weeks. I read up on them and wondered if I had caused stress fractures in my shins. That’s how bad it hurt. I was hobbling around in my classroom like an 80 year old woman. It’s comical now, but it wasn’t then. I finally took the advice of everyone on Runner’s World and went to a specialty running shoe store, Fleet Feet in Jackson, where they watched me run and fitted me with good shoes. They were Adidas Supernova Cushion, and I loved those shoes. They fit me like a glove! If there’s one thing about all runners, it’s that we really love our running shoes. It’s our sport’s main equipment, so it has to be good. After an update to the Supernova that didn’t agree with my foot, I switched over to Mizuno Waverider. They are also really great shoes.

In the midst of those treacherous runs on the treadmill and learning to adapt to road running through my neighborhood, I somehow gained a love for running. This is the part of my running that I can’t explain. It just happened. I remember hating running when I first started, but my goal was to lose weight, and I knew that I had to do some vigorous working out, so running it was. I remember balking at the people on the Runner’s World forums that boasted their love for running. Then, one day, I remember not hating it so much, then kinda liking it, and before long, just loving to do it.

Last fall, I completed my first 5K, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Tupelo. It was the most exciting race and a really wonderful experience. I didn’t increase my speed much until I began road training for this race. Up until a month before the race, I had not run over about 2 miles at a time. I was running at about a 14 minute per mile pace. The day I decided to do the race, I had run 2.5 miles, so I knew I could do 3.1 miles. The whole month of October, I trained hard. I ran as much as I could. My chip time for that race was 37:58 , or a little over a 12 minute mile! I couldn’t believe that I had improved my time so much. Since then, I’ve done a few other races and have improved my time even more. I’m running 5K in about 32:30, or a 10:41 minute mile. I’ll run the Komen Race for the Cure 5K again this October, where I hope to have gotten nearer to a 30 minute 5K. Last spring, I had gotten up to over five miles for my long runs. They wore me out, though, so I decreased my long runs but will get back to that distance at some point. I’d like to complete a 10K, which is 6.2 miles. I know I can do it, so that’s my next goal.