Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy

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Day 22: Pink Slime & A Quiet Day

He said:

I read an article today about a mom who has a petition going to get ‘pink slime’ treated hamburger out of school kitchens.  Unfortunately I could not find the article I read earlier today or else I would post a link to it, but I am sure you can Google information about it.

This brings up several issues, one being that an ingredient that McDonald’s & Taco Bell now have stopped using is still being used by the school systems and how the politics of food play out every day in decisions that are being made about public food policies.  Pink slime is only the latest ingredient in the industrial food chain to come to light, but if this is normal operating practice for these food producers, what other random ingredients are they using?

Alex read me the letter from the editor from this months Bon appétit magazine where he was describing pizza night at his house and how they never use store bought sauce. My first reaction to this was that he was being a food snob…but I had to check myself and reconsider a different view.

His letter brought to light what Alex and I have being doing for the last month, building a better relationship with food.  In general Americans (myself included) need to reform a long lost relationship with the food that we put into our bodies.  Alex mentioned a couple of days ago that on our free day it was kind of weird to go to a restaurant and not know exactly what was going into the food we were eating because for the last week, we knew every calorie that went into our bodies.

It might be easier to go to out to eat, but every time you do you are letting someone else decide what you are going to put into your body.  In a memorable quote from an unmemorable movie: “It is called fast food because it speeds you to the grave.”

Food Log:

Breakfast: Skyr (100 cal.)

Mid-morning snack: Banana (120 cal.)

Lunch: Vegan chili (286 cal., 2.5g fat)

Mid-afternoon snack: Plum (75 cal.)

Dinner: Nine vegetable winter stew (150 cal., 3g fat)

Total calories: 731.

She Said:

First of all – Bon Appetit is one of the greatest magazines on the planet!

Today I didn’t do much besides write a few articles about whales, wifi and traffic lanes for and make veggie soup that we will eat for the next day or so.

I didn’t run today but I plan on going tomorrow… I haven’t decided if it will be before or after I write my articles for SFBay.

Today is day 2 of our 3 weeks with only one free meal!

A really exciting non-diet related happening is that a photo story I shot for the Chattanooga Times Free Press was published yesterday! So far the writers have gotten really positive responses from the story and I’d love as many people as possible to check it out. Click here to read the story and see my photo slideshow (linked at the end of the story).

Food Today:

Siggi’s Yogurt (100 cal.)

4 Kalamata Olives (40 cal.)


2 cuties (70 cal.)

1 bowl boiled red lentils with seasoning (200 cal.)

1 bowl veggie soup  (150 cal.)

It looks like I didn’t eat very much today but I definitely nibbled carrots and celery while I made dinner so I know I consumed more calories than I recorded.

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Day 21: Skydiving & Fizzy Stuff

He said:

Yesterday I went skydiving for the first time and it was amazing.  But it got me to thinking why I had never done it before and one of the reasons for that (other then being scared) was because I thought I was too self conscious about my weight.

I realize looking back over the last month (and last half of the year) that being active on a regular basis makes you want to be more active, and visa versa.  The day that Alex and I went on our urban hike, we got back and were just hanging out and then went to dinner and at dinner we decided to just go home and watch a movie, but I felt bad that that was all we were going to do.  This was before I remembered that we had hiked for 7 miles that day.

There was a time when I would drive to work, sit all day (maybe not even getting up from my desk for lunch), drive home from work and then sit and watch tv or play video games.  In the entire day I think the most exercise I got was walking up the stairs at work.

Now I bike to work and try to run or get some other form of exercise every day and I want to.  At first it can seem like a far fetched idea that you 1)can fit working out into your schedule and 2)that you will get to the point that it is something you want to do.  I am not saying that I feel like doing it everyday and that there aren’t days I’d rather not, but it is getting to be more and more a habit then just something I do sometimes.

Food Log

Egg White omelet (240 cal., 13g fat)

Plum (75 cal.)

Dinner: Vegan chili (286 cal., 2.5g fat)

Total calories: 601.

She Said:

I don’t really feel like writing much… I think I am tired or something from the weekend.

Maybe it’s because very little happened TODAY.

We are now giving ourselves 1 truly free meal till March 31st… because loosing weight each day all week makes us feel like we are stepping backwards on our free days. This free meal will be March 17th when we celebrate my Dad’s birthday. It’s going to be intense!

Quick food tip – Faux soda: squeeze half a lime into a glass and pour in 8 0z. of carbonated water. It’s my go-to drink at a bar when I can’t actually drink alcohol (like when I am working). Also – it’s a low calorie fizzy alternative to soda. If you need that sweetness adding agave syrup is still better than drinking 7up or Coca-Cola.

Food Today:

Egg White omelet (240 cal., 13g fat)

Mexican Soda (150 cal.)

Vegan Chili (268 cal.)

4 kalamata olives (40 cal.)

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10 Healthy Work Habits

I have been thinking about writing this article for a little while and then on Tuesday Alex sent me an e-mail with a blog about the same thing.  While this blog has some good advice, there were several ideas that we came up with so this is an addendum to similar articles that have tackled the subject.

Seeing as we working people spend, at a minimum, 40 hours at work a week it is only reasonable that we should look at our habits there to see potential health problems.  I work as an accountant and besides being the most exciting job ever, it also means I am like most Americans in being sedentary for the majority of the day.  Here are ten tips for healthier habits in the workplace.

1.      Start a water co-op

About a year ago I was sick of brining my own water to work to only run out half way through the day.  I consulted my manager if it was alright that I ask my coworkers if everyone was interested in getting a water cooler and sharing the cost.  After a couple of months of asking we got one, which is quite cheap to start and then everyone who drinks water chips in when the bill is due (plan one of the 5 gallon jugs per person per month).  The other great aspect of this is that you might guilt trip your employer into paying for the water, which is what happened in my case.  The other great thing about having a water cooler is the access to hot water, which you case use to make instant oatmeal, tea, coffee, but not instant ramen.

2.      Start drinking more water:

Along with the water cooler, drinking more water at work helps in multiple areas.  The first is proper hydration, which is always a good thing.  The other aspect to think about is that this is a healthy reason to get up and walk and stretch while you’re at work.  Getting up and walking over to the water cooler gets your muscles moving and helps to elongate your spine so it doesn’t become depressed.  It also means you have to get up and go to the bathroom more, which you can look at as another reason to get up from you desk and get moving a little to break up the hours of sitting.  You can mix up your water consumption too and have tea (try herbal or green to cut down on caffeine), coffee, emergen-C etc.

3.      Set a stretch pop-up:

If you use Outlook at work (I am sure you can do this with gmail as well) you can set a pop-up to go off every hour with the simple message to stretch.  I did this about three months ago and it is great for reminding me to at least stand up and stretch my back out a little, or I use this as a reminder to go fill up my cup with water.  If you go to the calendar section of Outlook you can set a reminder to pop-up every day starting when you get to work, and then just dismiss it for an hour every time it pops up.

4.      Walk to get coffee or at lunch:

I try to save money like everyone else, and I did this for a time by bringing my own coffee to work (which is a great way to save money), but now I try not to drink coffee until my morning break and then walk up the hill to starbucks or pete’s coffee to grab a cup with a co-worker.  This gets me roughly 15 min of walking time away from my desk and I get to enjoy the caffeine buzz when I get back.  Just make sure get coffee and not some sugary concoction masquerading as coffee, a venti drip coffee has 5 calories while a venti white chocolate mocha has 510 calories and 15 grams of fat.  Similarly, if you can, use your lunch break, other then eating lunch (that you brought from home) to go for a walk around the building.  You will be surprised how more alert you feel if you go for a twenty minute walk during lunch, that and the food will help you power through the rest of your day.

5.      Walk / ride / park further away:

I recently started riding my bike to work and it has been the most rewarding experience.  I don’t have to deal with rush hour commute, and feel more alert and awake when I get to the office in the morning.  However, I understand that most people do not live close enough to work to make communing by any means besides a car practical, which is why you should start to park further away from work.  Instead of taking the spot right next to the front door, park at the edge of the lot and walk all the way to the office, it’s not much exercise, but over the course of a year it can add up to hundreds of thousands of extra steps.

6.      Use the stairs:

This is a basic one that gets mentioned a lot, but I thought I would repeat the advice.  I try to use stairs in any building I go to, but I realize that many people either work on the first floor of a building or work on the 50th floor.  If you work on the first floor, I am sure that you need to go to another department sometime in the day and use this as a way to play a little hooky and get some exercise.  If you work on a floor that you cannot walk to without walking in dripping with sweat, make it a goal to walk up the first three –five floors and then take the elevator the rest of the way.  If you are someone who gets to winded walking up the stairs, try making it a point to at least walk down the stairs at the end of the day.  On a side note, I walk up the stairs in the morning, get coffee, take my lunch break, and walk down the stairs at night, all in all I go up and down 12 flights of stairs in a normal day but I am only on the third floor.

7.      Get healthy with your co-workers:

There are at least 8 hours a day your away from your spouse or anyone else that knows you’re on a diet, which leaves plenty of time to cheat if you want.  A great way to get around this is by telling your co-workers you’re trying to loose weight, as this will make you think twice about grabbing that cookie that’s in the break room when your co-workers can see you.  Also you can try to get your coworkers to become health with you, I am currently in a bet with one coworker to see who can do 100 push-ups first and planning to run a 6.6 mile race with another.  We all help each other to stay focused at work, and they kid me around when they think I want to eat something bad (such as friday’s doughnuts).

8.      Identify unhealthy habits:

Really need that chocolate fix at three?  Always have a soda after/with lunch?  Find the times during the day you are most likely to snack or consume empty calories and try to change the habit.  Take a diet soda to work instead of regular.  Have a piece of fruit in the afternoon, or bring bit-sized chocolates with you that a portioned into reasonable servings.  Don’t bring a bag of chocolate to work and think you are only going to have one, just leave the bag at home and bring one piece with you to satisfy your craving.

9.      Bring your lunch and snacks from home:

This is a tried and true fact, and is mentioned in most other lists of healthy work habits.  If you bring a lunch and snack food from home you are going to be eating significantly healthier food (without mystery contents) than most food places near your work will be offering.  You don’t have to do it all at once, aim to bring lunch two days a week to start with and then increase it from there.  If you are just not a brown bagger, that’s fine, but try to find healthier options (I know not everyone is a fan, but Subway is a healthy choice if you don’t add cheese and mayonnaise).  Try to stay away from any type of fast food for example a plain hamburger, small fries, and small Classic Coke is 20g fat and 630 calories, and when was the last time you ordered just a regular hamburger?  If you order this meal once a week for a year, you would be consuming 32,760 calories or the equivalent of 9.36 pounds…stick to the brown bag.

10.  Start a company sports team:

There are softball leagues in every city, try to get coworkers to start a company team.  I played softball on a company team, and it kept me accountable to show up and participate because I would be hounded at work the next day if I didn’t show up.  Just make sure you’re not joining a beer league or you will just drink back the calories you’ve burned. You can also try to get different departments to complete against each other to foster corporate competitiveness and hey it never hurts to play softball with the boss to try and schmooze in the off hours.

You don’t have to do all of these, if you could implement only three, you will already be on the road to a healthier life.  Just remember you’re going to spend roughly ten years of your life (in total hours) working, healthy habits at work can make a significant difference.

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Day 18: & A day that would make a nutritionist cry

He said:

Sorry guys, I don’t really have a whole lot to say today.  I was able to stick to my plan with no real hiccups and am looking forward to the weekend.

Food Log:

Breakfast: Skyr (100 cal.)

Mid-morning snack: Banana (120 cal.)

Lunch: Red lentil soup (145 cal.)

Afternoon snack: Pear (103 cal.)

Dinner: Vegan chili + two cuties (316 cal., 2.5g fat)

Total calories: 784.

She Said:

So first of all I’d like to say what I ate today wasn’t healthy. No part of me thinks it was healthy but I wanted to splurge without going over my daily calorie limit. Without working out I can only eat 805 calories a day to meet my weekly weight loss goals.

To maintain my weight without working out I can eat 1,500-2,000 calories a day at my age, height and weight depending on whom you ask.

For breakfast I had a cup of black coffee, a piece of chocolate and a banana (190 cal.). For lunch I had a California roll and a diet coke (Approx. 300 cal.) For dinner I plan on having vegan chili, which is going to have a lot of protein and veggies in it and I will officially be back on track.

(I am writing this blog in advance because I am going to a photography panel discussion later tonight.)

Because of a comment we received on Facebook about the blog and a comment from my friend Stacie I acknowledged to myself today that I really do have to make more of an effort at getting more protein into my diet and less carbs.

This is what Stacie (lifelong vegetarian) had to say:

I need to work on getting more protein in my diet–it’s always my biggest downfall being veggie and all. BEANSBEANSBEANS. Soy products are so damn expensive, but I’m getting there. I’ve been running every day since the beginning of this year–I’ve missed six days in all. I’m taking a picture every month–I’ve seen a difference since January. 🙂 I think I’m finally in a good place with a lot of things, so it was finally a perfect time for me to start ignoring my excuses.

I am really happy to hear how well she’s been doing working on her fitness goals! She sounds super positive but it’s a reminder that if a lifelong vegetarian has to struggle at getting protein into her daily diet I certainly need to put extra effort into it.

Trust me – I’d much rather eat prime rib than a giant salad and a vegetarian soup. My parents started feeding me steak before I could walk (true story).

A lot of the people that read this blog and re-tweet it are vegetarians. So – if any of you seasoned veterans have tips for us we’d love to hear them.

Oh – the reason I splurged today? I lost 10 lbs. as of today!

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10 Healthy Date Ideas

Since Nathaniel and I have started this health adventure we’ve been making a conscious effort to have healthier more active dates. In the past our saturday night might have consisted of going to a bar and drinking really good beer – and maybe having chicken wings or a burger for dinner.

Nathaniel doesn’t like romantic restaurants and I am a recovering tom-boy so there you go.

I decided to come up with a list of healthy date ideas. They don’t all necessarily burn a lot of calories but they are better than going to the movies or just sitting at home.

1. Hiking

You don’t need to drive to a rural area to go hiking. You can easily go “urban hiking” and plan a route through the city you live in. The other week we started off at the Farmer’s Market on the eastern edge of San Francisco and walked all the way across the city to a restaurant we wanted to try near the ocean. We took our sweet time but after four hours of walking there’s nothing you could order at a normal restaurant that would erase all of that exercise.

 2. Bowling

We’ve only gone bowling a few times but it’s something we both enjoy doing. Stay away from the snack bar though! All those fried and buttered things are a trap!

3. Rock Climbing

I told Nathaniel the other day that once I reach my halfway weight goal I want to try taking up rock climbing. I’ve done it in the past and I have plenty of guy friends that take dates rock climbing. They always have a lot of fun.

4. Going to the gym

The benefit of running together at the gym is that you both can run at your own pace and still be next to each other. I don’t know a single couple where both people are equally matched in the speed and distance they like to run.

5. Cooking Classes

As a couple we often cook together and it’s a lot of fun. I think transforming yourself into a healthy couple has more to do with changing your relationship with food rather than your relationship to each other. In larger cities you can easily find cooking classes and making yourself more comfortable in a kitchen will help you be less likely to head to Taco Bell for a quick bite when you are short on time.

*** Budget friendly version: both people can find a new healthy recipe online, buy the ingredients and make the food together for a Saturday night activity / dinner.

6. Watch a movie at home

You know that drinking game where you take a sip of something or take a shot every time the people in the movie say a particular word? Play that game with sit-ups.

You can decided how many sit-ups to do per word but it will get you doing something other than sitting (sitting in a stationary position can burn as little as 25 calories per hour).

Suggestions: Using the word “family” while watching the Godfather, “Voldermort / He who must not be named” while watching Harry Potter, or “the force” while watching Star Wars.  I dare you to do 10 every time someone dies in The Gladiator.

7. Dancing / Concerts

I hate dancing. I will not go dancing. But – for all you crazy club kids intense dancing can burn as many calories per hour as a serious run. Going to a rock concert and jumping around/moshing burns a similar number of calories.

8. Volunteer to Walk Dogs at the Pound

This will both get you exercise and Karma points. Plus – for those of us apartment dwelling dog lovers it will give you your puppy breath fix for the week.

9. DO something at the bar

If you are going to go drinking try and go to a bar where you have the option of shooting pool, throwing darts or doing something other than sitting. Also – know how many calories come with your “usual” try switching to a less caloric drink.

Think about this: A vodka martini with olives has 250 calories while a gin martini with olives only has 175. Taking shots? The standard 1.5 ounce serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories even before you add any mixers.

10.Go to a farmer’s market / fruit picking at an orchard

Both of these activities fulfill the necessity of buying food for the week and will get you more exercise than shopping at Safeway, Lucky’s, Bi-Lo (shout-out to the south) or whatever your local grocery store is.

Also by going to a farmer’s market you are buying fresher produce picked at its peak and reducing the amount of fossil fuel it took that meal to get to your table.

I like to buy things I’ve never eaten before so that I am forced to figure out what to do with it once I’ve gotten it home. Cue – butternut squash and kale entering my diet within the past 6 months. My parents never fed me these growing up so I had to discover them on my own.

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Day 17: New Clothes & New Tools

He said:

Three days down, two to go.  I have been able to ride my bike all this week and it is getting easier and easier (except when it is windy).  I really enjoy riding my bike to work, seeing as I used to have to drive a total of two hours a day to work and back, it is a joy.

This week is going a lot better then last week.  I bought some new clothes over the weekend (in part because it was my birthday), but also because all of my work clothes were looking…bad.  I am currently a size 33 in my jeans, and my work pants were size 38 (yeah I know) and size 36.  Plus most of my shirts were super baggy at this point.

In the past I have always told myself that I didn’t want to get new clothes until I was done loosing all the weight.  That inevitably led to me not noticing when I was slipping and starting to gain weight.  So this time I am going to get new clothes, even if they become too big, throughout the process.  And you know what? They make me feel great and they give me confidence to continue the fight, I think that is why this week has been easier.  Alex sent me an article about how there is research to back up how clothes really do give you more confidence and can effect your mood.

Just keep on trucking, just keep on trucking.

Food Log:

Breakfast: Skyr (100 cal.)

Mid-morning snack: Banana (120 cal.)

Lunch: Carrot-Ginger soup (190 cal., 3g fat)

Afternoon snack: Pear (103 cal.)

Dinner: Red lentil soup (145 cal.)

Total calories: 658 calories.

She Said:

Today was a great day for me. I “discovered” yesterday and I really like it.

I like being able to keep track of what I am putting on my salad while I make it because if I am still pretty far from my calorie limit for the day I know when I can’t put something extra on my salad (crumbled goat cheese!)… or I can choose to have something else.

You can also factor in your exercise for the day and it will adjust how many calories you are allowed to consume based on the exercise you’ve had and what your weight loss goals are.

On a day where I am not going to be working out my limit is 805 calories a day to meet my weekly weight loss goal.

I started week 3 of the couch-to-5k program and am feeling great!

Food today:

Siggi’s Yogurt


3 Cutie’s (small citrus fruit)

2 bowls of carrot ginger soup (lunch and dinner)

1 salad (spinach, tomatoes, olive oil, zucchini)

½ a grilled cheese sandwich

1  See’s candy

(photo from the web site’s calorie counter)


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Red Lentils vs. Top Ramen


I don’t do it every week but a delicious super quick meal I occasionally make for myself is boiled red lentils.

I didn’t know red lentils existed until a few months ago when a curried lentil dish I found online listed them as an ingredient- they are healthier than “regular” lentils and cook a lot faster.

Yesterday I threw a cup of red lentils into a regular saucepan with water and random seasonings – then boiled them until they were tender and had absorbed most of the water.

The end result was a nicely flavored thick stew of protein with a great flavor that I ate for lunch yesterday and today.

Ready in around 30 minutes each serving is only about 140 calories and has 16g of protein.

Also – red lentils only have half as many carbs as rice.

What I used:

1 cup red lentils


2 tsp. Chicken Bouillon (high in sodium so be careful)

1/8 tsp. white pepper

¼ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. curry powder

Speaking of quick meals – Something to think about:

You know those plastic bags of instant noodles by Maruchan and Top Ramen?

Each of those bags is considered “2 servings” and has 380 calories, 14g fat, 52g carbs and only 10g of protein.

1 cup of lentils makes a REAL 2 servings but altogether it is 280 calories, 0g fat, 76 carbs and 32g of protein.

A ½ cup of the red lentils makes me feel full but when was the last time someone made one of those plastic bags of soup and only ate half of it? Never?