Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy

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Day 120: A year of abstinence & Paperclips

He said:

One of the informal goals that I set at the onset of this year (well more like back in October of 2010) was to not eat any fast food for an entire year (or if I can for the rest of my life).  There are several reasons that I came to this goal.

The first being (and I know my Grandma reads the blog so this is hard to admit) I used to eat a lot of fast food.  Near the end, before I started this new way of living, I was eating fast food 4-5 days a week and in quantities that I am sure were have devastating effects on my body.

For example my usual McDonald’s meal was a double quarter pounder with cheese, two McDoubles, a McChicken, with medium fries and a medium drink, the total calorie content of this meal was 2,090 with 96g of fat.   No fiber, no vegetables or fruit, all meat and refined carbohydrates.

It is shocking to even look at that meal now (or to think why I wondered why I was over weight). The other problem I have with eating this food (this is addressed in Super Size Me) is that the more you eat it the more you want to eat it.  There was a period of time after high school and in the first two years of college where I didn’t eat any fast food.  But once I had one meal from McDonalds I found I would be thinking about it for the rest of the week after, wanting to get more.

Another reason for not wanting to eat fast food anymore is that I really don’t want to support that industry.  Again, I don’t want to use this blog as a soapbox, but the fast food industry produces tons of waste and effects the prices (and subsidies) of many crops that farmers shouldn’t be wasting their time growing. There was a movie a while ago where one of the lines (I may have mentioned this before) is “Fast food speeds you to the grave” and I couldn’t agree more.

The worst thing of my fast food diet was that I didn’t really think it was that bad.  I knew that I shouldn’t be eating that way, and every week I thought I would start doing grocery shopping and start cooking, but I never ended up doing it.  And the more I ate it, the more I wanted to eat it, the more I did eat it and it was making me sick.

Fast food is cheap, convenient, and let’s face it it tastes good, that’s why its are everywhere. But you should really limit the amount that you eat at these places, or just try to abstain.  I don’t want to support these chains anymore.  There are hundreds of local restaurants owned by people who live in my community.  And even though local restaurants are serving portions that are also out of control (that is another blog post) at least by eating there I am helping the local economy and not a giant conglomerate.  So the next time you’re craving a hamburger, go to the local diner and tip your waitress.

She Said:

Sometimes (like today) I read Nathaniel’s post before I write my own.

I commented to him as I went through it “there is no way you would have ordered that if I was with you.” And it’s true – people actually eat less food when they are dining with someone else.

I don’t go to McDonald’s that often and I never really have with frequency but man I do love their McGriddles Sandwich and hash browns! I haven’t had them since January 23rd… which was probably the last time I went to McDonald’s.

Taco Bell I may have had since then but I can’t really remember.

Something I was thinking about today was how in High School or college I would sometimes buy candy with my soda (high school) or coffee (college) and eat it slowly during class to keep from being bored.

I remember using a paperclip in my High School pre-calculus class to cut holes out of the center of my Reese’s Peanut Butter cups so that I could eat the center and the sides separately.

So ridiculous… I do have a good idea for tomorrow’s blog but now it is time for me to hit the hay.

My muscles ARE sore from lifting weights today and I ran 5 miles at the gym.


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Day 119: Marathon Training & Only 3 Miles

He said:

Today was the first day of my marathon training (wow I was able to write that without giggling).  Just the idea that I am confidant enough to start training for a marathon floors me, how much has changed in the last eight months.

The program that I am doing came in this month’s issue of Runner’s World magazine and is intended to be a 16-week program.  Today was only a three mile easy run and while I was tempted to do more, I want to stick to the plan because I know it is going to get challenging in the weeks to come.

I ran to the gym and met Alex there so that we could do a strength training session.  I think I mention this, but I had broken down and paid for three sessions with a personal trainer (it was part of a start up package) and I was super happy that I did.  In three sessions I was able to learn a ton of new exercises so that I don’t get bored with and that I can rotate throughout the weeks.  Plus my trainer introduced me to a couple of circuit training routines that are quit challenging and will work great with the running I do.

With starting this new program I plan on making regular updates on how it is going and if there are any snags along the way.


She Said: 

Due to a chaotic and slightly stressful end to my workday I wasn’t able to start running until 5:30.  Nathaniel was going to meet me at the gym at 6:15 so I knew I was only going to be able to run 3 miles instead of 5.

After running my 3 miles I worked my arms on the weight machines while Nathaniel did his own thing… my muscles were definitely fatigued by the time I got done so I am hoping they will be a little sore tomorrow. If my arms feel fine in the morning I will take that as a sign that I didn’t push myself enough.

I (unlike Nathaniel) have no plans to run a marathon in the next six months or year but I am running a half marathon in December! I am really trying not to think about it though and jut trying to concentrate on doing well in the 10k we have coming up next month.

I do not think it’s going to be physically possible for me to run the 6.2 miles in 60 minutes as I had originally hoped (I feel I’ve said this before) but today I kicked up the speed on the treadmill during the last mile of my run and managed to finish strong without reducing the speed.

We will see what I can do in the month to come… I plan on e-mailing a friend from High School who is a very hard-core runner and asking for his advice.


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Day 118: Bloomberg & Emotional Triumph

He said:

I have tried in this blog to not get too political or bring outside issues into the subject of weight loss, as they pretty much invade all other aspects of human life, but I would like to talk today about what Michael Bloomberg is trying to do in New York with the large soda ban.

If you have not herd or read about it in the news, Mayor Bloomberg has submitted a proposal to ban the selling of soda drinks in excess of 16 oz. (which is already a double serving) in eateries, stadiums, street carts, or where you mostly consume food.  This is in response to the growing obesity problem that we have in this country.

When I herd about this I couldn’t have been more joyous.  Soda is devoid of any nutritional value and leads to consuming too many calories if you indulge in an irresponsible way.  Removing soda from your diet can have a dramatic effect; let’s just look at the math.  One 12 oz. can of soda has roughly 150 calories (depending on brand), if you have three cans a week that is 450 calories a week for a total of 23,400 calories a year.  If you stopped drinking soda today you could cut out the equivalent of 6.6 pounds a year.  But I know people who consume three cans a day, the math gets exponential.

One of my issues when I would read articles about cutting soda out of diets is that (since high school that is) I haven’t really been a soda drinker at all.  I will have diet sodas (maybe two a week), but will hardly ever drink the full strength stuff.  Maybe this is why I am so in favor of the New York city ban. I am sorry, but no one should be consuming more the 16 oz. of soda at one sitting, and don’t even get started on a 64 oz. big gulp.

What I hope that this law can point out is that soda needs to be looked at as a treat rather then a daily habit.  It is a desert (soda’s have on average 12 tablespoons of sugar, 34g), it should be thought of like cake or pie, for a special occasion.  However, it isn’t just soda that we need to look at as a society, but all of the sugary drinks that have invaded the market.

The conclusion of this semi-rant is that it is hard for your body to recognize liquid calories in the same way it does those in food, which means you can consume significantly more of them and not feel full.

Just think before you drink.  Does the beverage have whipped cream on it when it is being sold as a coffee drink?  Did it need to have lots of food coloring added to make it the color of the product it should be naturally?  Is it sweeter then you would have it if you made it yourself (ice tea, lemonade, coffee)?  Would your thirst be just a quenched if you had water instead?  All these questions and more are what we should all ask ourselves before we go out and have a drink that is a days worth of calories.

THINK before you DRINK!!!!


She Said: 

Friday something happened that really showed me how far I’ve come emotionally since this health adventure began back in February.

I arrived to 24-Hour Fitness with my client and as she went off to join her personal trainer I went into a bathroom stall to change. My plan was to run for an hour and get in 5 miles before we had to leave for our next errand of the day but I unfortunately forgot to pack a workout shirt.

I briefly thought about running with no shirt (some women do this) but I immediately laughed at how ridiculous that idea was. I decided my options were to not run or go home and grab a shirt which would only leave me time to run three miles…

Then – I suddenly remembered a few moths ago I had purchased a medium semi fitted shirt at Sports Authority and left it in my car. It was embarrassingly tight when I first got it but I bought it because I knew it would eventually fit and it was in a color I LOVE.

I went out to my car and sure enough there it was!

Looking at myself in the 24-Hour Fitness bathroom mirror I acknowledged the shirt was still too small. But I decided I didn’t care and I was going to run in it muffin top be-damned!!!

Yes I am still overweight but exercising is more important than feeling self-conscious and I am proud of having lost over 30 lbs. so far. Also – as I reasoned to myself ‘Who can make fun of someone putting down 5 miles on the treadmill’?

For me running in a form fitting shirt is just a huge emotional accomplishment. I never wear tight shirts because I feel self conscious but I am so proud of the progress I’ve made it gave me the strength to forget about what I’d look like in front of other people and just DO it.

I did two 5 mile runs and three 3 mile runs last week for a total of 19 miles. I am feeling really good still and looking forward to the Wharf-to-Wharf.


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At the Movies

He said:

Alex and I went to the movies over the weekend and I decided to get a small popcorn (it was my free day) though I got it without the added butter, so I didn’t feel too bad about it (still has 400 cal. & 27g fat).  The real shocker came when I went to pay for the popcorn, there was a group of kids (and what I assume was an older sister) buying a lot of snacks. Of the three kids, two of them were overweight and one was normal weight (from what I could tell).  The two kids that were overweight were buying a medium popcorn, a large soda, nachos, and a hot dog, EACH.  The normal weight kid ordered a large soda and medium popcorn.

Other then costing a million dollars at movie theater prices, this movie “snack” was popcorn (800 cal, 54g fat), Soda (350 cal.), nachos with cheese (1,100 cal.), and hot dog (305 cal.) the total being somewhere close to 2,500 calories. This is right about what the average adult male should consume in an entire day (though they say growing boys need more) and is 1,000 calories short of a pound of fat.  And I can only assume that these kids ate breakfast and were going to eat dinner at some point (the movie was at 7), taking their total calories for the day to anywhere close to 5,000. (Here are a couple of resources for movie theater snacks: MSNBC article & blog)

On top of this, I was on my way to get coffee the other morning and saw a couple of middle schoolers going to class or something and one of them was drinking a monster energy drink, this was at 8 in the morning, and he was already overweight.

It is part of the disturbing trend in this country, childhood obesity.  Not that we need to put children on diets (I understand there are self image issues especially with young women), but we as a society need to help kids understand the relationship between calories and gaining weight.  Parents, I strongly beg you to help your children gain knowledge of how what they eat affects their weight.  This knowledge, learned early enough, could lead to a major difference in the rest of their lives.

As a personal example, when I was a sophomore in high school my friends and I would get together on the weekends and do homework together (yeah we were big nerds).  At these powwows each of us would have at least 3-4 sodas, handfuls of starburst, and maybe M&Ms or something else along those lines.  That is at least a 1,000 calories or more just in snacks in that day. If I would have been told just how many calories this was it could have had a big effect on how much soda and candy I ate.

We have to instill good, healthy eating in children from a young age so that they are not forced to diet and struggle their entire lives.  Please help by sitting a talking with your children, nieces and nephews, whoever and try to instill some good habits now.

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Day 105: Baby Steps & Being Awesome

He said:

The is an article in this month’s The Atlantic by David H. Freedman entitled “The End of Temptation” which is all about behavior modification and how this is being applied to smart phone apps.

A large part of this article focuses on B.F. Skinner who was a Harvard psychologist who first did experiments focusing on behavior modification and how he was subsequently demonized by broader society for what people thought was a fascist method for controlling people. While I am not going to dwell on this aspect of the article is was interesting to get more background on how this science developed (I am sure a simple search of his name will give you some background).

The basic tenants of behavior modification is rewarding yourself for practicing new habits that you want to change, think eating right for a week and then buying yourself something you want to reward yourself.  I try to use the idea of the Free Day as my way of rewarding myself for being good throughout the week (though they say that you shouldn’t reward yourself on a diet with food; it has been working so I will stick with it).

I herd about this article on NPR on forum with Michael Krasny for those of you who are too lazy to read you can listen to an interview on this article that is great.  What I took away from all of this is that if you could focus on one eating behavior and one activity behavior at a time that you want to change and then made this your focus until it becomes routine then move on to another you could effect real change in your weight.  For example, a good friend of mine recently cut out fried food from his diet, and he was able to loose about seven pounds, that is all he changed.  Now if you added using the stairs at work to this I am sure that the weight lose would be even greater.  Then after you get these two habits nailed down, you could focus on eating breakfast instead of skipping it and then walking two times a week for half an hour instead of watching one TV show.  Baby steps.

In going back to the conversation that I had with a coworker last week, one of the best changes that I think people could implement that would have dramatic effect on their waistlines is brining lunch to work and going one step further bringing healthy vegetable soups to work.  If you are used to having a 20g fat 500 calorie sandwich for lunch (the average 6” sub at subway has 454.5 calories and 18.5g fat, that is just the six inch) and replace this with a 200 calorie soup that has 4-8g fat (see any one of the soups we have listed on this site), you are cutting 1,500 calories out of your diet a week (assuming you only do this at work, five days a week).

There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, so in two weeks of doing this, you could cut 3,000 calories or almost one pound every two weeks out of your diet.  If you were to combine this with a marginal effort to exercise more then weight loss could be (I will not say dramatic) but it would be steady and if you aren’t really feeling starved by doing this, what are you really giving up?

Try to look at some little changes you could start tomorrow that might have a dramatic effect on your daily calorie consumption.


She Said:

Today I started my new job as a one-on-one counselor for a girl with some disabilities that I am going to help her overcome. I think the term “life coach” is a better explanation of what I do.

Anyways – my client and I have a lot in common including really solid workout routines. When she went to have a personal training session today (at the same 24-hour fitness I go to!) I was able to hop on a treadmill and put in my miles while she worked with a trainer.

I jogged 3 miles (27 minutes including warm-up walk) before grabbing some water. After the water I had more time to kill till she was done so I hopped back on the treadmill and did another couple of miles.

When she finished with her trainer she said she wanted to run for a few more minutes which I told her was okay with me so I got back on the treadmill and jogged a little more than a mile before turning down the speed to walk till I had done a mile and a half.

During the third segment of my run I marveled out how after putting in a really decent work out- being asked to jog another mile was super easy and really just something to fill time.

It blows my mind to contemplate how my cardiovascular strength has improved since February. I am still overweight but I jogged over 6 miles today and still had energy to burn afterwards.

My goal is to do a straight up 6 mile run within the next week. It might have to be next Monday because my schedule is going to be a little crazy this week BUT I know I can do it and I am going to feel awesome when I crush it ;).