Tag Archives: nutrition

Prenuptial Planning … Less Than 10 Months to Go

There isn’t much new going on with the wedding planning front. We knocked so much out within the first couple of weeks that I kind of coasted for a while. We have the reception hall (which includes the caterer, DJ, coordinating, and enough decorations that we probably don’t have to add any if we don’t feel like it), the church for both the ceremony and the rehearsal, the wedding photographer, and the officiant, and we have the blocked hotel rooms currently pending further action on the part of Marriott. We know what bakery we want to use for the wedding and groom’s cakes and I have designs in mind although I’m still looking. We did a lot of work on the guest list and the attendants, thought about colors and all that, and my sister, mom and I looked at tons and tons of wedding gown pictures. I booked the honeymoon, which is another Western Caribbean cruise (same cruise line, different ship, and mostly different ports). The next things I’m concentrating are finding someone to do makeup and hair, calling the officiant to try and set up pre-marital counseling sessions (of which five are required), contacting the organist I want to play the wedding, thinking about transportation from the church to the reception hall, and figuring out where to have the rehearsal dinner and, if not at a restaurant, who will cater it.

I have been reading a ton of wedding books, magazines, and websites. The Knot is always a good one to read over and the comments section can get quite heated as virtually all comments sections do. Reading honeymoon disaster stories has become a recent delight of mine. I have plenty of less-than-optimal travel experiences of my own, but I tend to look back at them all with a good sense of humor or at least a lesson learned. Still, I hope I am not tempting fate by reading these tales of woe. I guess we are going to find out. 😉

Bridal Guide magazine has insisted on sending me free issues for many years now, and I’m finally starting to use their strange generosity. (I also keep free issues of The Week for some reason? No complaints here.) The magazines are really helpful with an etiquette column, a countdown checklist, and of course, tons of ads and photos. They also often include supplements such as Honeymoon & Destination Wedding magazine and a “home” section, complete with beautiful china patterns and a lengthy checklist you can use to help you complete your registry. I’ve been working on that too, but slowly. At least one nice person has already asked me where I am registered, so I figure I’d better get on that. It will be easier once we have chosen a china pattern.

I bought a ton of wedding- and marriage-themed books because I love to read and will use any excuse to get more books. But despite the overflowing shelf space in our apartment, I’m not regretting this decision as all since this reading has been quite educational and also calming. I’ll start reviewing some of the books once I’m fully out of my current writer’s block phase.

A recent development in the bridal marketing world (which, according to my mom, can be blamed on Melania Trump) is that of the “second dress.” The idea is that you wear your bridal gown for the ceremony and pictures, then, for the reception, change into matching, super fancy shorter white dress for dancing. No thanks. I can only wear a bridal gown once and I’d like to enjoy it for as long as possible.

One thing I would like to do prior to the wedding, as so many brides would, is lose a little weight and tone up these arms. I’m not looking at a whole lot of weight loss, but I put on 15-17 pounds since moving up here years ago that aren’t coming off because I’m not really being consistent with my diet and exercise habits. I work out hard when I go to the gym and have become much stronger and more fit, but I also slack off and only do it enough to maintain a basic level of good health, not any real changes. If I could just stay consistent, I might see some serious results! I also stay up too late every night and wind up desperately craving carbohydrates at midnight … nommmm. I think Eric might join my gym and we will have fun going together. He has a tendency to make everything fun without even trying, so I’ll probably actually WANT to go and work on my cardio more! He could make shopping for toenail clippers fun.

I also joined the My Special K Challenge and I bought a Women’s Health magazine DVD called Wedding Workout.

In short, the planning is a lot more exciting than I was expecting. Sometimes I do get stressed out or start worrying too much, but I’ve decided to roll with it and have some fun!

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The Grab-it-and-Go Diet

I gained some weight over the past few months. You can blame a decent amount of it on stress. So now, while I normally try to cook more and make large amounts of healthy entrees that I can divide up into portions for the week, I’ve got too much else going on at the moment to really care about that. Microwave diet meals to the rescue! These have made it SO easy for me to get a tasty and filling breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not to mention snacks, while easily tracking the number of calories I’m taking in. One downside is that microwave meals, like many processed and packaged foods, *may* contain a lot of sodium. So read your labels carefully if you are concerned about that.

Here are some of the things I’ve been gnawing on lately:

Jimmy Dean D-lights. Start your day with a classic breakfast sandwich or scramble – the lowest calorie sandwich will only dock you 210.
Lean Pockets breakfast sandwiches. I don’t get these often because 1) it’s too easy to eat two or three of them in one sitting and 2) I always burn my entire mouth with the melted cheese that leaks out. In fact I burned my hand at work the other day when some hot lava cheddar oozed onto it.
Healthy Choice. This brand has reinvented itself over the years and has all kinds of steamed meals, microwave meals, and soups.
Weight Watchers Smart Ones. Smart Ones makes, above and beyond, my favorite ice cream “diet” treat ever. Go get one of their sundae packs. NOMMMMM. I just ate a 150-calorie bowl of Smart Ones mint ice cream with hot fudge sauce swirls and mini chocolate chips, sitting on top of a crumbly brownie layer. There are several other varieties. I seriously die and go to chocolate/ice cream heaven with these.
Kashi meals. These microwave meals cost more than the others, or at least in my neck of the woods they do, but they are worth it for their inventive take on the “zap it and eat it” meal. My favorite is the Mayan Harvest Bake.
Lean Cuisine. My current favorite brand overall … perhaps due to their Delicious Rewards program, in which codes found inside the box can be entered for 20 points a piece. Points add up quickly and get you various cute and useful rewards from their seasonal catalog (lunch totes, kitchen gadgets, salt and pepper shakers, things like that). There are tons and tons of varieties, so it will be hard not to find something you don’t like. I bring home everything from pizzas to paninis to pasta. My favorites this week are the Butternut Squash Ravioli and the Chicken in Peanut Sauce. Lean Cuisine also has a new line of snacks, like pita bread with spinach-artichoke dip and Thai-inspired spicy egg rolls, and I think each is right at 200 calories. And, they recently introduced a small line of vegetarian dishes – there are currently just four choices in this line, but if you dig them, be sure to keep buying them so they’ll make more! (There are additional vegeterian dishes in the “regular” line.)
Breakstone’s Cottage Doubles. These 100-calorie containers include a serving of lowfat cottage cheese and a side serving of a fruit sauce, in flavors such as Apple Cinnamon, Peach, Pineapple, and Strawberry. A great way to get some protein and calcium in a filling snack.
String cheese. You can get lowfat string cheese sticks at 80 calories a pop. A quick and easy snack that’s great on its own, or paired with a few whole-grain crackers.
100-calorie packs. I love these, but they are still junk food and not super filling, so I tend not to buy them as much. You can probably buy your own regular-size bag and portion it out yourself for far less money, if you think you have the self-control not to eat it all in one sitting. (Guess who doesn’t? This chick)
Green bell peppers and Mrs. Dash. Just chop up the peppers, then toss them in a bag, sprinkle with Mrs. Dash, and shake around.

I’m trying to flex my writing muscles more since I let them get so out of shape and National Novel Writing Month is coming up again … so stay tuned for more stuff.

I Made My Own Chili! and Other Healthful Developments

I rarely cook, because I’m often too disorganized, impatient, and slothful. I’m working on changing all three of these to make life easier, and this week I successfully cooked my own healthful ground turkey chili! It really took no effort at all. Eric helped by chopping some of the veggies, showing me his easy garlic trick (which was simple for me to replicate) and then stirring the turkey and onions while I mixed up the final ingredients. I used a recipe I found at Allrecipes.com to help me figure out how I wanted to make it, but the final product was my own. I put a big pot on the stove, sprayed the bottom with Pam Olive Oil, and then stirred the turkey around till it was browned. Next I dumped in the onion that Eric chopped. I waited too long to use it so it didn’t have a lot of flavor. While Eric stirred the pot, I smashed a can of kidney beans, then mixed it with a can of diced tomatoes. I got out a clove of garlic and Eric showed me how to easily peel the skin off the clove – just put the knife over the clove, then pound on the knife a few times, then lift it up and the skin comes right off … no Slap-Chop required 😉

I minced a couple of those garlic cloves and mixed them in with the mixture and then I threw it all into the pot along with a cut up New Mexico chili pepper (and just a few of the seeds) and two cups of water. I added salt, black pepper, and some chili powder. Then we covered it and let it sit for 30 minutes. When it was done, we tasted it and it was good but needed a tad more flavor. I’m supposed to be keeping the salt very low during the week so I just added a pinch more and that really did it and brought out all the flavor. It was good enough that Eric delayed going to bed to eat a bowl and then I have two more bowls for ready-to-eat meals! Yay, me! I’m looking forward to cooking up some other goodies; lord knows I have tons and tons and TONS of recipes in this place.

Fitness is going well. My latest personal training session involved more of those horrendous camel walks but I did better this time, although I still hated it. I also had to do a bunch of lifts on these machines where you lie with your chest down and then pull up the weight toward you. I came in there again yesterday and worked on the elliptical for a full hour, burning well over 400 calories at a medium pace. I had my earbuds in and was enjoying the music so I thought, why not just keep going! When I got off I went over to the weight machines and did just a few overhead lifts with 10 pound weights and then a bunch of those standing stomach crunches with that machine. I wanted to do more but there were all these buff dudes over there using the machines and I felt intimidated. I know that was stupid because I’m there for the same reason they are and they probably weren’t even paying any attention to me, but I felt really silly. I’d been there long enough anyway so I just left. I’ll come back today after I run some errands. I need to get an iPod shuffle already. I currently use the Pandora app on my iPhone and it’s great, but I can’t clip it to my waistband and so I have to put it away while I do the strength-training portions. That in turn gets rid of a vital distraction and makes me more aware of all the people around me who look and perform much better than I.

Personal Training Update

My personal trainer whipped my behind tonight. I feel like I got one of the best workouts I’ve had in a REALLY long time, and certainly way better than I could’ve done by myself. I told her I like that she doesn’t take any crap but in truth she’s not a Jillian Michaels-type or anything, just clearly not the type to take a lot of whining. And that’s good, because if she let me stop when I wanted to, I would have quit a lot sooner. Tomorrow night will be more of the same as I had back-to-back appointments scheduled. Suddenly I am glad that my sister and I picked *this* Saturday for a pampering day at the spa!

Here are the exercises my trainer has me doing:

35 minutes of cardio, five times per week (elliptical – I started off burning just 200 calories per session but am now up to 250 as I’ve increased the speed and intensity. I think I’m ready to do far more than just 35 minutes now)
Warm up kicks – flexing foot and slowly kicking leg straight out ahead of me
Warm up marches with high knee lifts
Jumping jacks
Burpees
Squats (most recently, she added a 15 pound kettle bell to this exercise – I have to hold it up as I squat)
Pull-ups (with an assist machine)
Overhead raises with 10 pound dumbbells
Walking lunges
Mountain climbers
Crunches with legs raised
Reverse crunches (I think that’s what you call them – I do them with a machine where I stand with back pressed against a cushion on the machine, then grab the overhead rails, hang from them like I’m about to do pull-ups, and then just lift my knees up to my abs over and over)
Cool-down stretches

I have to say that out of all of these, mountain climbers and burpees are my least favorite. There are others we have done, but these are the ones we’ve done the most and sometimes I think they’re out to get me. Proper form is essential for all exercise (which is where the trainer comes in very helpfully) and doing them the correct way is not easy (for me). Because I hate them so much, I am determined to beat these exercises and show them how well I can in fact do them … jerks.

And here is the diet she has me on:

Overall: Low-fat, low-carb, high-protein, emphasis on fresh (and non-starchy) produce, lean protein, nonfat dairy
-Lots and lots of water!
-Typical breakfast is egg whites and a vegetable (I like to scramble egg whites with fresh spinach leaves and throw in some chili powder!)
-Typical lunch is lean protein such as baked, broiled or boiled chicken breast with Mrs. Dash or herb seasoning, or ground turkey chili, and a vegetable
-Typical dinner is salad with low-fat dressing, slivered almonds, fruits and veggies
-Couple of snacks a day, such as: nonfat Greek yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese with fruit, cut-up green bell pepper slices, handful of almonds
-Protein shakes etc. are fine as long as they don’t become the main source of nutrition and don’t have a lot of sugar
-No: starch (corn, potatoes, cauliflower, rice, etc.), fast food, breaded/fried foods, foods cooked with a lot of oil, sugary foods, added salt, non-lean cuts of meat
-Very minimal alcohol and bagged or boxed (in other words, processed) foods, breads/pasta/rice
-Grocery shopping is mainly done on the outer sections of the store (where the fresh foods are 🙂
-Never go a few hours without eating something!
-Cheating on weekends is allowed. This isn’t a license to eat like a pig, I can just treat myself to things I normally avoid during the week – for example, although normally I can destroy a bag of parmesan Goldfish with the best of them, I will have to limit myself to one serving
-As I start working out more and burning more calories, and get used to eating healthy fresh foods again, I can begin to “cheat” even more!
-Make a shopping list, get what I need, and get out!
-Prepare weekday meals on Sunday (e.g., broiling chicken breasts, chopping veggies, cooking up the turkey) and store in baggies in the fridge for easy grab-and-go.

So far it is definitely taking a major adjustment and while I’ve improved greatly, I have not been a saint by any means. Currently we have a bad habit of not grocery shopping on a regular basis which has go to stop as it leads to desperate delivery orders (usually when certain half-starved Puerto Ricans come home from a hard day’s work ready to destroy a meal, and end up targeting a large pizza or innocent carton of Chinese fried rice).

If you’re curious to see what a mountain climber looks like, here it is (after a Budweiser commercial):Mountain Climbers want to destroy you

Happy Hump Day!

It’s the middle of the week … the hump of the week! I might do a little work tonight as I have a special event tomorrow that I must use leave for, unless I work extra hours. I certainly have plenty to do. Unfortunately, I got too wrapped up in what I was doing this evening, and was late for my personal training appointment today. I was only over by a few minutes, but I felt bad. I was super early last time. I also didn’t eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand, which had disastrous results. I wasn’t even halfway through the workout when I suddenly felt very lightheaded, like I was floating, and got a really loud, strange buzzing-like noise in my ears. I couldn’t even hear what my trainer was saying. She had me go drink some water but I still felt kind of faint, not to mention really embarrassed. She gave me a gentle lecture on setting a routine and making sure to eat at least a protein bar before coming in, and bringing some water. I know that these are things I should do, but when I get caught up in other stuff I wind up putting things like that last. It’s like I don’t want to make things that *I* need a priority.

Back to the workout: I learned some more new exercises but I felt like I was being ridiculously spacy, and I started getting faint and nauseous again at the end. Now I do have ADD, so the slightest distraction can ruin everything anyway. I apologized to my trainer, but let’s face it: if I do poorly she still gets paid, but I just wasted a good half hour or more that I could’ve used all for myself. I still got something out of it so I didn’t lose out completely this evening, but it could’ve been better. So I should be apologizing to myself.

I decided to purchase additional training, for a total of five sessions per month for six months. I think it will help me stay on track better, and also improve my results. I’m also seriously considering heading to the gym in the mornings rather than the afternoons, which has worked well for me in the past (even though I HATE getting out of bed that early). I’m also going to purchase some new fitness attire – I only have two outfits that I really feel comfortable in, the rest is all baggy old attire that makes me feel like a big dork – and I desperately need new gym shoes and arch support inserts too. And, I’ll be joining the 21st century and getting – gasp! – an iPod! (Don’t worry giant CD collection; I shall not desert you.)

It still makes me feel self-conscious to look like such an out-of-shape loon among people who are way more fit. That’s something I’ll just have to get over. Having a trainer helps with that a good deal because I have to do what she says and can’t run away because somebody buff just walked up.

My new nutrition rules are going very well, and I have already lost two pounds in a matter of days. I just fell back into my old routine of counting calories and writing down absolutely EVERYTHING I eat. Even if it’s a single tortilla chip or a zero-calorie beverage, I write it down. That’s how I lost a lot of weight several years ago. I’m making much better choices on a regular basis and now when I eat a piece of chocolate, it feels like a luxurious treat rather than something I chow down without paying any attention. Eric and I even bought a six-pack of – gasp! – LIGHT beer. And it’s good! Over the past few years I’ve found that I really do not drink that much anymore, anyway, and I don’t miss it much. I do genuinely love beer, but now when I have one I notice all the nuances of the flavor more than I typically would, and I think I appreciate it more that way.

Obviously, I do need to eat more often. For the most part, I have been good about eating three meals a day and small, ,filling snacks in between. Ugh, I’m STILL feeling dizzy and shaky, as I write this, from failing to eat properly before my workout. I’m rehydrating as fast as I can.

Other random boring goings-on: our large deposit for the canceled cruise is being refunded soon. I think it’s smartest to keep the money for now and put it toward more prudent things. Just because I CAN spend the money, doesn’t mean I should! That’s right, I’m looking to live below my means and put more money away for savings, emergency bills (so we don’t get stuck shelling out every last cent toward a certain diabetic feline, ahem Sumo, right before a vacation again), and my retirement fund. Wait, who is this, is this Martha talking? Someone must’ve taken over my blog when I wasn’t looking …

Thunderstorm rolling in, SWEET!

Using a Personal Trainer

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my own personal trainer, but never bothered to find out. And I probably wouldn’t have anytime soon, if not for the big prize bundle Suzi and I won back in January! I get two private sessions per month for a year (through May 2012).

The intro session (which didn’t count toward the overall total sessions) took place the Monday before last. I had to fill out a questionnaire with my current stats, medical history, and personal goals. It was a good start as it got me excited to tackle the exact level of fitness I want to achieve. Next, I was interviewed by the PT director. Then I did a series of exercises for my fitness assessment: squats, full sit-ups and push-ups. To my surprise, I could do a lot of push-ups in one minute! (or at least I thought so … whatever I usually think is great is probably weak by everyone else’s standards, but it’s great for me!)

Following that assessment, the director chose a trainer for me; I sat with her and we talked about my goals. She assigned me 35 minutes of cardio, from three to five times per week. It has to be done at the gym (so that she can check), and it has to be done on the machines there as opposed to aerobics classes. Well, between that Monday and last night (Wednesday) I came in there just one time! Tuesday and Wednesday were already out so I don’t feel bad about those.

The first official session was Wednesday evening. I was wondering what she was going to say about me only doing one cardio session over the past week, but she didn’t say anything this time.

I did everything the trainer asked and I didn’t complain or try to quit. I tried hard to keep proper form and she helped a good deal with that, and counted down the reps for me. I did maybe 5 to 10 minutes of cardio warm-up on the elliptical – next time I’ll get there earlier so I can do more before my appointment begins. Then the trainer had me do 20 kick stretches, 20 knee-highs, 20 jumping jacks, 15 to 20 standing/leaning push-ups against a bar (I don’t remember what you call those), another five in a more difficult position, 12 burpees, at least 20 crunches (with my legs up, knees bent), and 15 to 20 scapular push-ups. That last one was the most difficult, not because it was strenuous, but because it wasn’t easy to execute properly. The trainer said I don’t need to do any of these moves on my own time just yet. Well, I’ll be trying them at home often anyway. Especially those burpees – they are hard and I like a good fitness challenge. When I can accomplish them with ease, I know I’ll feel A-1.

Next we went into a back office and talked about nutrition and my personal weight-loss goals. Most of the strategies I will be following – more fruits and vegetables, less processed foods, lean protein, pre-making meals and snacks for the week, etc. – are not new to me. The trick is sticking with them (and using some of the 50-odd recipe collections I own but rarely use).

Having a trainer means having someone to cut through all the hooey and help you reach your own specific goals, someone who designs your own personal exercise program for you that changes as you progress. And maybe best of all was the effect on me and how hard I pushed myself. I knew someone was watching me while I did the exercise reps – someone who’s not a friend, someone who isn’t there to let me get away with anything – and that factor alone changes everything. I was concentrating on doing my absolute best work. I couldn’t just stop and say “Waaah, I’m tired” or crap out on the last five reps the way I have many times by myself, or with a real friend. And of course, if I don’t go in and do my cardio, someone will want to know what’s up with that too. Being accountable to someone else makes a world of difference. It’s funny how we sometimes don’t want to be accountable to ourselves first.

The Shamrock Shake Lets Me Down

I made a favorite mistake of mine yesterday afternoon by failing to eat up until around lunch time, then realizing I had also failed to do any substantial grocery shopping at the same time I conveniently decided it was time for me to get my annual Shamrock Shake. I COULD have made an egg and spinach scramble with red pepper, Mrs. Dash, and a little Ball’s salsa mix in about 5 to 10 minutes; instead, my ravenous body went through the McDonald’s drive-thru and came back out with a 3-piece Chicken Selects value meal and a medium Shamrock. (What happened to my keeping it at a small?) Martha V.’s Cardinal Rule #1 of Eating Well was broken: NEVER go through a drive-thru while starving! Okay, that’s rule #2. Rule #1 is: NEVER EVER EVER SKIP BREAKFAST. Even eating a sugary donut is better than not eating anything at all! I hate skipping meals, but I was so busy yesterday that I ignored my body telling me it was famished.

After receiving my order, I saw that I needed to correct something I wrote about this shake in my last post. I somehow got the impression that this shake comes in a souvenir cup, but it doesn’t. It’s in the regular clear cup with the lid that some of the McCafe drinks come in. Not only that, but it was topped with whipped cream and a cherry! Sounds great, right? Not for me – I really do not want all of those extra calories! Now I don’t believe in beating yourself up over things that you truly enjoy and want to treat yourself to from time to time – or even beating yourself up for anything, really – but when I saw that cream I groaned. If I’d known it was on there, I would’ve asked them to leave it off. Instead, I drank the shake till all that was left was the whipped cream and a little bit of the shake, then tossed it. The shake was not as minty as years previous so it was easy for me to not finish it. Oh, Shamrock Shake. You make me sad.

I ate my three Chicken Selects and some of the fries while on a conference call, and suddenly waves of nausea overtook me. I had not had Chicken Selects in quite a long time, as that batter is bursting with sodium, fat, and other unpronounceable nasties that I’m increasingly cutting out of my diet. I feel really, really good when I eat well. But when I eat badly, well, I think my body is no longer used to it. It probably met the Chicken Selects and said, “Um, I don’t even know what this IS. What are you doing putting this in me? Are you for real?” It was all I could do not to throw up on the phone! I did keep it down but continued to feel sick on and off for a few hours.

Lesson learned: Eating whole, healthy, fresh foods is great, eating something not-so-good for you but utterly delicious is a great treat, eating something kinda-tasty but terrible for you has a whole new connotation when you’re no longer used to it. Further proof to me that our bodies were not meant to take in many of the things that we feed to them as part of a typical American diet.

In further news, I’ve really wanted to attend the Detroit Auto Show for some time now; I think the 2012 show will be it! I’m hoping and praying to see a resurgence of the Big Three and American cars. (Full disclosure: my current car’s Korean and it’s a GREAT vehicle, but so was my Buick.) Have you seen Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” commercials? Buy American-made (everything) just a little more often and help our economy and American businesses!