Monthly Archives: July 2011

Juicing (ever try it?)

I was relaxing a little today and came across a documentary called, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.”  I found it so very interesting.  The focal person, Joe, is very sick, and overweight, and decides to “juice” for 60 days to see if he can kick the pharmaceuticals.  While doing this “juicing” he traveled across the U.S. and spoke with others about health (especially fruits and vegetables).  Along the way he met another guy who was over 400 pounds.  Eventually this guy decided to “juice” as well.  I cannot recall how much Joe lost in the first 60 days, but I know it was substantial.  In the end he lost around 90 pounds.  The other guy ended up losing over 200 pounds in 10 months.

To be honest, I do not know that I could give up all chewing for 60 days.  Could you?  The one thing that struck me as strange was the fact that so many nutrients from “the pyramid” are missing when you consume *only* fruits and vegetables.  There is no bread, meat, nuts, dairy…nothing but fruits and vegetables.  Does anyone else find that a little bizarre?  Has anyone else tried it?

I would not be opposed to replacing breakfast with “juice,” but I do not know that I could do three meals a day for an extended period of time.  It just does not register as “healthy” to me.

Have you ever made your own juice?    If so, which vegetables and fruits did you combine, and would you (or have you) done a juice fasting “diet” before?

-Erica

More Helpful Hints

While roaming around on the Internet I found these 12 healthy snacks that help fight off hunger:

1.  Warm toasted nuts: Toss a combination of nuts – pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashes – with chili powder, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Roast in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes, until warm and toasty.

2.  Ants on a Log: Slather celery with smooth or chunky peanut butter. Dot with raisins.

3.  Boil a few cups of frozen edamame until tender. Drain and toss with a light coasting of sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt.

4.  Make your own souped-up trail mix: Combine 1 cup almonds, walnuts, or cashews (or a mix of all three) with 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and 1 1/2 cups dried fruit: raisins, apricots, apples, prunes, and/or banana chips

5.  Spread the inside of a pita half with plenty of hummus and top with sliced tomato, onion, and lettuce.

6.  Stuff cherry peppers or bottled Peppadew peppers with soft goat cheese or mini balls of fresh mozzarella.

7.  Lay a slice of swiss cheese on a cutting board. Top with a slice of deli turkey and a spoonful of hummus or guacamole. Wrap like a jelly roll and eat

8.  Cut fresh mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes. Skewer on toothpicks with pitted green olives and sundried tomatoes.

9.  Pop a bag of popcorn. While it’s still hot, toss the popcorn with a half cup grated Parmesan and a good amount of chopped fresh rosemary.

10. Combine a can of tuna with your favorite salsa. Use Triscuits for scooping

11.  Pop a bag of popcorn. While it’s still hot, toss with a tablespoon of melted butter, then 2 tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

12.  Pave a slice of toasted wheat bread with peanut butter and banana slices. Top with a drizzel of honey.

All of these snacks sound delicious to me, and hopefully you.

For the day I have already gotten 30 minutes of dancing in, but I think I may do more.  I am just sitting here working on a couple assignments for school, but I think I would rather be up moving around.  What better way to take a break from sitting for a while, right?

What exercise have you done today?

-Erica

Spinach and Mushroom Smothered Chicken

This is a recipe I have had my eye on for a while.  I am putting it on the menu this week and thought I would share.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM SMOTHERED CHICKEN

3 c. fresh baby spinach
1-3/4 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
3 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp. chopped pecans
1-1/2 tsp. olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1/2 tsp. rotisserie chicken seasoning
2 sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese, halved

1. In a large skillet, saute the spinach, mushrooms, onions, and pecans in oil until mushrooms are tender.  Set aside and keep warm.

2. Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting the grill.  Sprinkle the chicken with seasoning; grill, covered, over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

3. Top with cheese.  Cover and grill 2 or 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  To serve, top each chicken breast with reserved spinach mixture.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
4 servings

203 calories
9 g. fat (2 g. saturated fat)
68 mg. cholesterol
210 mg. sodium
3 g. carbs
2 g. fiber
27 g. protein

-Erica

Cucumber Chicken Salad

I prefer to have quick lunches because our days are usually busy.  In the past this led to me eating something very unhealthy just because it was quick.  Now, I am starting to make tomorrow’s lunch today, which takes away that excuse.  This is a recipe I have tried, and I truly enjoy.

CUCUMBER CHICKEN SALAD

1 c. cubed cooked chicked breast
1/3 c. chopped seeded peeled cucumber (I did not de-seed mine and it was fine – for me)
1/4 c. fat-free mayo
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. dill weed

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and chill.

*Try this on a bun with lettuce and tomato (and I usually add a piece of swiss cheese because I just love it).

Here’s the dirt on this recipe (these facts include lettuce, tomato, and bun without cheese):
2 servings

350 calories
8 g. fat (3 g saturated)
57 mg. cholesterol
930 mg. sodium
42 g. carbs
3 g. fiber
28 g. protein

-Erica

Weigh Day

I will admit I met the scale this morning with serious apprehension (which is typical).  I am always afraid to find I have not lost anything or worse – I gained.  Today; however, that was not the case.  As I stared at my kitchen window, holding my breath, I slowly peeked down toward my feet to find…

I am down 7.2 pounds from last Sunday!  I simply could not believe it, but the scale does not lie (or at least I am going with that until the next time it says I have gained).  Excitement, happiness, and just sheer joy would be understatements to how I actually felt (and still feel).  To know that my sacrifices…erh…better judgement and exercise are paying off certainly helps to boost the momentum.

Realistically speaking, I am very well aware that I will not see such a dramatic decrease in weight each week.  Weight loss is always quickest in the very beginning and will slow down to a much steadier loss of around 2 pounds per week after that initial weight is shed.  I am hoping to drop at least 5 more pounds before next Sunday because that will put me at my first incremental goal (which will make me very happy, of course).  However, if I only lose a pound or two I will not be upset.  One pound gone is still better than one pound gained.  Every pound I lose brings me one step closer to healthy.

So, I begin this week with renewed energy.  I am looking forward to getting out this week (weather permitting) and spending some time dancing in the livingroom with my chicklets.

How did your week go?  Have you gotten any closer to your ultimate goal?  If not, how can you tweak your daily life to help you achieve your goal(s)?

-Erica

Banana Berry Drink

This “smoothie” tastes *wonderful* and is a great breakfast for someone crunched on time.

BANANA BERRY DRINK

3/4 c. orange juice, chilled
1/3 c. pineapple juice, chilled
1 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 c. frozen sweetened sliced strawberries
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 small ripe banana, sliced

Place half of each ingredient in a blender; cover and process until smooth.  Pour into chilled glasses.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
5 servings

100 calories
1 g. fat (1 g. saturated fat)
3 mg. cholesterol
13 mg. sodium
22 g. carbs
2 g. fiber
2 g. protein

-Erica

Little Helpers

Everyone has heard that portion control is a huge factor in maintaining a healthy weight.  However, most people have a distorted perception about portion size.  One of the cookbooks I own has a little chart inside that helps put portion size into visual perspective, here’s how:

3 oz. beef, chicken, or fish = deck of cards
1 serving cold cereal = baseball
1 medium potato = tennis ball
3 oz. deli meat, sliced = 3 CDs
1 serving cheese = domino
1/4 c. grated cheese = golf ball
1 tsp. butter or jam = tip of your thumb
1 Tbsp. peanut butter = your thumb
1 average bagel = hockey puck
1 serving pasta or rice = cupcake wrapper

Compared to the above list, do you feel as though you typically eat correct portion sizes?  I will admit about half of my previous consumption was probably at least 50% more than an actual portion size (the other half was about right, and sometimes less – it just depends on the food).

Other useful tips to help you eat healthier:

– When baking, replace 1/4 or 1/2 of the butter or oil with unsweetened applesauce.  Applesauce is a better replacement for oil than butter.
– If you’re substituting a substantial amount of butter or oil with applesauce, you can reduce some of the sugar because of the natural sweetness of apples.
– One Tbsp. of sugar = 48 calories
– Reduced-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat butter work well in place of their full-fat varieties in frosting, but since the lighter products tend to be more soft-set, the recipe may need less liquid.

The 10,000 step goal:
Apparently, walking 10,000 steps in a day is the approximate equivalent to  walking five miles.  There have been numerous studies showing walking 10,000 steps in a day has many health benefits.  To find out more about the health benefits of walking go here or here.
Pedometers are not really expensive.  You can find one here.

Calories burned (per hour):
Bicycling – 544
Gardening – 340
Golfing – 374
Hiking – 408
Kayaking/canoeing – 340
Swimming – 544
Tennis – 476
Volleyball (casual) – 204
(All of these figures are based on a 150-pound person.  Those who weigh more will burn more; those who weigh less will burn less.)

Here is a easy-to-use worksheet to help you stay on track.
Meal Planning Worksheet

Hope you find some of these tips helpful on your journey.

-Erica

Accept No Excuses (even from yourself)

In my previous attempts to lose weight I have allowed myself to avoid exercise by making this excuse: “I’m just too busy today.”  Before I know it “today” has turned into a week…then two…and by then I have put on whatever weight I already lost.  Of course, that leads to me giving up.  Well, not this time.  No way!

My chicklets and I went back to the zoo today with another girlfriend of mine.  They were so happy to spend another day with the animals, and to be getting more fresh air.  Since we are not especially early people, we had about an hour at home this morning before we headed out.  After spending a little more than four hours there I had to race to physical therapy (ankle issue, pending surgery).  Immediately after physical therapy we had to pick my hubby up from work, hit the grocery, come home and cook dinner, clean a little, write a paper for school (almost finished with my degree – yeah!), and then get the chicklets tucked into bed.  On a day like today I would have normally skipped the exercise.  Especially because I spent four hours walking around the zoo, and went to physical therapy (which is also exercise…sorta).  That would have been my personal excuse to myself.  I refuse to let myself fall into that “old pattern” of thinking, though, and so I did my Just Dance 2.  I exceeded my “quota” of 1000 sweat points for the day (actually I am just under 7000 sweat points in four days), and I feel good about it.

Successfully achieving goals is about making real life changes.  I am working toward changing those “old pattern” thoughts, which I know will eventually get me where I want to be – thin.  I know Sunday is creeping up, which is my weigh day, and I am certainly hoping my efforts will pay off.

Do you find yourself attempting to make excuses?  How do you overcome your own excuses in order to stay on the path to success?

-Erica

Staying the distance

An important part of staying the distance, or gaining momentum, is celebrating the smaller milestones that will eventually lead to your overall success.  This is something I have a big problem with.  I have lost weight before (many times, in fact), but somewhere along the way I hit a plateau and then I get discouraged.  Instead of focusing on how far I have come, I focus on much further I have left to travel.

I have vowed to not let that happen to me this time.  I know I will hit plateaus, and I know that will show me I need to step it up, not step out.  In order to help me stay the distance I will reward myself for my smaller victories.  Here are my “mini goals” and the rewards I will earn (other than health and happiness, of course):

299 lbs (13 pounds lost) – necklace
289 lbs (23 pounds lost) – earrings
275 lbs (37 pounds lost) – charm bracelet

I have been wanting this set of jewelry for a *long* time, but I never let myself get it because I have other important purchases to make (or bills to pay).  When I achieve these goals, though, I will myself a priority, and celebrate these milestones.

What are your strategies for staying the distance and meeting your final goal?

-Erica

Cheesecake…really

As you can probably tell already I love sweets.  I really do.  There is nothing better than cuddling up on the couch with my hubby and sharing something sweet…or is there?  Yes, yes there is – losing weight and being healthy!  But, I have already declared that I will not be giving up all sweets.  I know I cannot do that, and I know if I try I will fail.

Thankfully, there are options available to enjoy without sabotaging your entire day (or week…or plan in its entirety).  This happens to be one of them:

CHEESECAKE

12 graham crackers (2.5″ squares), crushed finely
2 c. light cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1 c. fat-free sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F; wrap the outside of a 10-inch springform pan with heavy-duty foil; then spray the inside entirely with nonstick spray (again I use Cake Release by Wilton).  Press the graham cracker crumbs over the bottom and partially up the sides of the pan.

2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed until blended; stir in the lemon zest.  Pour the batter into the springform pan and set into a large roasting pan.  Pour boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake until almost completely set (about 30 to 35 minutes).

3. Turn off the oven and prop open the door with a wooden spoon; leave the cake in the oven another 30 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and run a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake.  Cool completely, then refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
16 servings

128 calories
6 g fat (3 g saturated, 0 g Trans fat)
42 mg cholesterol
210 mg sodium
14 g carbs
0 g fiber
5 g protein
64 mg calcium

-Erica