Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy

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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?

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Day 15: Coworkers & A Paula Deen Rant

He said:

I have not mentioned my push-up routine in a while and one of the reasons for that is because I had to start over again.  One day into week three and I knew that I needed to go back and start from the beginning, even though I tested into being able to start on week three.

This wasn’t as discouraging as some might think and in starting over again I have made a gentleman’s bet with a coworker on who can be the first one to reach that elusive 100 pushup mark.  I have read many times that it is good to include other people in your weight loss or exercise routines as this will help foster healthy competition.

In this same vein, another coworker and I have planned (along with Alex and his girlfriend) to enter the wharf-to-wharf (a small 6.6 mile race down in my hometown Santa Cruz) race together.  While I am not trying to beat him in the race, this will be the first competitive race I have ever dared to enter.  Seeing as the race is not until the end of July, this gives both Alex and I plenty of time to train, and try to set some new PRs.

Both of these competitions with coworkers I hope will help to motivate me on days when I am not feeling it because I know they will be training trying to get in better shape than me.  The push-ups today felt good, and while I had to start over, I think I am on a better track to reaching my goal, then I was when I started.

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.)

Peridotically throughout the day: handful of dried salted peas (60 cal., 1.5g fat)

Dinner: Mexican Vegetable soup (250 cal., 3g fat)

Total calories: 823 calories

She Said:

I appreciate the irony of 24-hour fitness playing the Food Network on some of its televisions while I run. I’ve gotten some good recipes while working out but today I was annoyed because my least favorite food celebrity was on.

It was none other than the glutinous butter saturated diabetes loving deep-fried Twinkie of a celebrity Paula Deen.

I’ve always hated this woman. Her recipes aren’t recipes. If you put enough butter, sugar or oil on or into something it will eventually taste good.

I would also like to point out that her online recipe for “papa bear oatmeal” does not accurately portray the one she demonstrated on television – the recipe excludes butter and doesn’t say how much sugar she verbally told people to put on it.

The woman could make the high protein low carb diet suggested by Jonathan Swift unhealthy.

Anyways – Mrs. Deen has had Type II diabetes for 3 years. She kept it a secret and kept frying her way through paycheck after paycheck – finally announcing her disease along with the fact that she is now a spokesperson for a diabetic medication…

The woman is promoting some of the most unhealthy food on television and selling diabetes medication to the people who eat too much of it – this is the sad hypocrisy that Anthony Bourdain has taken issue with.

It would be as if a cigarette company also sold lung cancer treatments!

Just for giggles here is a video of Paula Deen making a hamburger with a doughnut as the bun (she also puts bacon and a fried egg on it).

Food Today:

Siggi’s Yogurt (100 cal.)

Lentil Soup (140 cal.)

Mexican Veggie Soup (250 cal. 3g fat)

Total: 490 Calories (woops…)

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Healthy Mexican Inspired Veggie Soup



Nathaniel and I used to eat fideo a lot. For those of you who don’t know, fideo is a Mexican soup that has pasta in it. Since step one of making fideo is stir-frying the noodles we haven’t had it since I moved back to California.

I wanted to make a healthier soup that had all the flavors of fideo in it: onions, cilantro, garlic, tomato etc. and this is what I came up with.

Also- I made the decision to use canned beans and corn for convenience to our readers. I understand sorting and cooking beans for hours is something I am used to doing but that many of you are not.

Makes 4-6 servings.

At 4 servings (using chicken broth) it is 217 calories per serving with only 2.25g fat

Next time I am going to make it with vegetable broth.

If you aren’t counting calories as much as we are corn tortilla quesadillas and avocado would make a nice side.


½ Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 small onion diced

4 small zucchini cut into bite sized pieces

Handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 tbsp. of loosely packed and torn cilantro

15 oz. can Black Beans (drained)

15 oz. can corn (drained)

8 oz. tomato sauce

32 oz. chicken or vegetable broth

½ tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder (or something else you prefer like cayenne)

2.5 tsp. garlic salt

**Suggested but not necessary: Limes can be served on the side

  1. Heat ½ tsp Olive Oil on medium heat in a large pot. Once hot add onions and stir frequently.
  2. Once onions are soft add all other ingredients to the pot – turn up heat and bring to a boil
  3. Remove from heat once zucchini is tender (less than 10 min.).
  4. Blend half of soup and then pour back into a pot – let cool slightly and serve.

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Day 14: The Accidental Hiatus & Birthdays

He said:

It has been a couple of days since we blogged, and this is part and partial because Thursday was not a good night.  Alex was depressed about how the job search is going, and that got me bummed out.  I really wanted to go eat at a restaurant, but ended up eating at home, but still had two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a grilled cheese with a bowl of carrot ginger soup.

While eating a couple of sandwiches is better then going all out on a gallon of ice-cream or some hamburgers, it does bring up a pressing matter of how I deal with eating.  We all know the feeling of being depressed and wanting to eat some comfort food to make you feel better.  The problem is, much like drinking when you are depressed to cheer up, the problem is still going to be there when you’re done.  My goal for the future is to find better ways of coping with being stressed or depressed and to not have my stomach instantly go to wanting to be fed with unhealthy food.

We redeemed ourselves the next day (I had the day off) by going on a 5 mile hike out in Muir woods.  I highly suggest going to this site, there are a ton of great trails and the views are amazing. View of Stinson beach from the top of Muir Woods

We brought some bananas, water, and some roasted peas with us as snacks on the hike, but found out quickly that the peas tasted too good to be legit.  The main issue we had with them is that even though the word roasted is used, they seemed to have a bit of oil on them and looking at the nutrition information they were 3g of fat and 120 cal. per ¼ cup.  This isn’t all together bad (much better then say potato chips), but not as healthy as we would have liked.  Our goal is to make our own, so that we know how much oil is being used to make them.

After the hiatus (and my birthday Saturday) and the carb fest that I had on Thursday night, I have gained a little weight back from where I was, but I am still down ten pounds since we started two weeks ago, tipping the scales at 185 right now.  I am happy with the progress so far, but as mentioned before, need to find better ways of keeping focused when faced with stressful situations.

She Said:

We fell of the blogging wagon for a few days, which I attribute to the 26th anniversary of Nathaniel’s birth as well as my sadness about not being able to find a job yet. I really want to get a full-time job involving journalism, photography or marketing via-social media but haven’t had any luck yet. My mild-existential crisis thursday did not motivate our blogging efforts.

Nathaniel had taken off Friday to go skydiving but when the skydiving company postponed his jump we decided to go hiking in Muir Woods. Muir Woods is only about 45 minutes from our apartment (with no traffic) and after the hike we hung out a little bit at Stinson Beach.

Saturday was a “free day” as well as Nathaniel’s Birthday but I tried to keep myself in check food-wise because sadly I only lost 2 lbs. last week. I also have no doubt that I gained it back on Saturday…

Although I am feeling kind of down on myself for not meeting last week’s health goals I am committing myself to a really strict food week with a lot of exercise.

Tonight – I made a healthy Mexican inspired veggie soup that I am excited to share with all of you tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!


The Great Yogurt Debate

I love yogurt.  Some of you may have noticed this in peaking at my food log, I have a cup of yogurt everyday for breakfast, for more then just one reason:

  1. No preparation
  2. Easy serving size
  3. Tons of protein

In trying to eat healthier it is sometimes hard to balance wanting nutritious food and having time to make meals.  Most fruits are great because they are already packaged into single servings by nature.  This brings me back to yogurt as a great breakfast food because it is usually packaged in a single serving.  And yet, these packages can vary greatly in what you are actually getting.

Most Americans (myself included) are used to the runny yogurt that you had as a kid that came in flavors like banana and strawberry.  With the trend in healthier eating, many varieties of yogurt have hit the shelves of grocery stores, offering everything from low fat and diet to Greek and whipped, the choices are astounding. But most of these styles of yogurt do not really compare when we check under the hood and judge them against each other.

I went to a local supermarket (not a chain, but an actual local supermarket) and this is just a sample of the yogurts I found there.  The table above is sorted by protein content in ascending order and what this table can breakdown is the amount of sugar that most brands try to pack into yogurt; with a regular Yoplait topping the list at 27g (that is just 11g less then a can of regular coca-cola).

Side note on sugar content: parents may want to reconsider the yogurt that is marketed to children.  Yoplait has two brands that target children, one being Trix and the other Yoplait for kids.  The Trix is sold in 113g servings and the Yoplait for kids is sold in 85g servings. While it is great that they are selling sizes that are portioned for kids, when you scale both of these servings up to the normal adult serving (here assumed to be 170g) the Yoplait for kids has 18g of sugar, and the Trix tops out at 21.1g, which puts both of these yogurts in the upper echelon of sugar content.  (A side note, the Yoplait for kids is marketed as having 25% less sugar then the leading kid’s yogurt, which is Trix yogurt, sold by Yoplait).

What the chart indicates is that in most common American yogurts the amount of protein is 5-6g, while the carbohydrates average in at 22.5g with the average sugar content as a proportion of carbohydrates being 82%.  What does this really mean from the point of view of a consumer?

To answer this we must first have an understanding of the difference between carbohydrates and protein from the perspective of diet and how your body processes these key nutrients.  I am not a nutritionist or biologist, so take my comments with a grain of salt, but from how I understand it carbohydrates are for instant energy your body needs to function.  This is why runners in long distance races will eat bread or drink juice to get a quick shot of energy to fuel their running.  Protein, on the other hand, is not for a quick pick me up, but more sustained energy and will only be used by the body for energy when there are a lack of carbohydrates to burn (for a more comprehensive view of carbohydrates vs. protein). What this really means for you as the eater is that protein will make you feel more full then a carbohydrate will simple by how your body uses these nutrients.  The following chart will help breakdown the differences between carbohydrates, protein, and sugar in each brand in a more visual way.

Click to enlarge

With this in mind, we look back to the yogurt conundrum.  Any of the yogurts that are shaded in blue have little protein content and contain significantly more carbohydrates.  While this means it can give you a boost in the morning with some quick energy, you are going to be left feeling hungry soon after consumption.  I would highly suggest against these types of yogurt as the only benefit is some quick energy and an almost empty belly.

The yogurts shaded in orange are our good yogurts (notice they are all Greek style), but do have varying levels of carbohydrates and calories.  Personally speaking, I would go with the Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt (calories vary per flavor) as it packs in 12g of protein for only 14g of carbs and only 120 calories.  And while it is listed in the good yogurts, I would steer clear of the Yoplait Greek as even in their healthier yogurts they still need 25g of carbs and 150 calories to make their yogurt.  I am also not happy that both of Stonyfeild’s offerings have to use all of their carbohydrates for sugar and would choose a different yogurt if given the option.

The yogurts in green are what we will term the elite yogurts.  These yogurts pack an outstanding 14g of protein into each serving while keeping the carbohydrates at a reasonable to very low amount.  In looking at my food log you could easily notice that I will promote Siggi’s as the elite of the elites (no, I am not a paid endorser of this product).  Siggi’s is the best for multiple reasons, not only does it contain the most protein (their plain version packs in 15g of protein), but they do it with only 11g of carbohydrates and 100 calories.  Sweetened with agave syrup this yogurt will fill you up and you may even find it lasts you the whole morning before your hunger pangs return.  Still, the other two yogurts in this category will offer enough protein to get a full belly and does it while keeping carbohydrate and calorie levels low.

The question still exists: does it really matter that there are a couple more grams of sugar and little more calories in my yogurt?  To some it may not matter, if you are controlling portion size and living an active lifestyle then you can enjoy yogurt of any variety as long as it tastes good to you, though switching to a higher protein one may help to give you a fuller feeling in the morning.  For the rest of us, specifically those trying to loose weight, it could make a big difference.  Breaking it down:

The above chart is based on eating a serving of yogurt 5 days a week for a whole year

I had never fully considered the difference that a high protein yogurt could make for a breakfast food.  But having been eating it now for five months, the difference is clear.  I am more full throughout the morning and less tempted to snack when I do eat it and it is the easiest breakfast because all I have to do is remove the lid and enjoy a nice cup of yogurt.As you can see, just the choice of Siggi’s over regular Yoplait will cut 18,200 calories out of your diet per year, plus 10.32 POUNDS of sugar, which to give you a visual is two and a half sacks that you buy for baking.  What this math may also help with is measuring some of the other choices that you make in any given day and how those add up in an entire year of eating.

Note: I only used flavored yogurts in my analysis because I cannot stomach plain yogurt.  My hat is off to people who enjoy the taste of plain yogurt, but for me I need something to help mask that taste.  So if you can, try eating plain yogurt and it will help eliminate tons of wasted carbohydrates.  But if you like me and find the plain stuff a little unpalatable, then reach for a little sweetened cup of high protein yogurt.

Article: Nathaniel Chaney

Photos: Alex Washburn