Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy


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Product Recommendation: Briannas Home Style Salad Dressing

When people go on a diet they often begin eating more and more salads. The problem with this is people use certain rationalizations to make their salad less healthy.

These may include:

I am eating all these veggies a little dressing isn’t going to hurt! 

This dressing is low fat!

Or

Salads are healthy!

Dear friends – at their essence salads are healthy. But anyone whose watched a little league team attack the salad bar at their local pizza parlor has seen an exaggerated example of how quickly they can become evil.

Croutons, bacon bits, cheese and dressing can quickly turn your salad into a guilt free calorie bomb.

At home I eat a lot of salad but I am careful to measure exactly how much dressing I put on it.

I put my lettuce, pico de gallo salsa (2 oz / 15 calories) and corn (.25 cup / 35 calories) into a Tupperware container with my dressing and shake vigorously to maximize the 1-2 tablespoons of dressing.

I love Briannas Home Style salad dressings and they come in some really fantastic flavors. For those watching their calories it’s hard to beat Briannas  lively lemon tarragon (2 tbs. = 35 calories / 0 g fat) or Rich Santa Fe Blend  (2 tbs. = 25 calories / 0 g fat).

To compare: the ‘healthy’ option in the Hidden Valley line is the Original Ranch Light with Buttermilk (2 tbs. = 70 calories / 5g of fat).


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Vanity Sizing

Yesterday was the day.

The first day I stopped telling myself things like “I am not hydrated enough” or “I don’t have time”.

I finally kicked my long run up from 5 to 6 miles and I felt really great at the end of it. I felt like I could have done 8 miles easily…

I’ve lost over 36 lbs. since February and I am feeling really good about the process on most days… But, I still don’t see a difference when I look in the mirror although my clothes keep getting smaller.

Right now I am wearing a pair of VERY generously cut pair of size 8 Michael Kors jeans. Yay vanity sizing!

I think this means I am probably a 10 my standard cut of GAP jeans so I am going to have to head over there in a few days to try them on. I wore a 16 back in February.

Because women’s jeans vary so much in actual size from brand to brand- GAP curvy jeans are the yardstick I am using until I have reached my end goal. I just read an article from the New York Times and it is seriously crazy how varied women’s pant sizes are from brand to brand.

Even men aren’t safe! A pair of 36’’ waist pants at Old Navy actually measures 41’’ giving men an obscured idea of their waist size. This is actually dangerous because waist circumference is sometimes used as a prediction for risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Many men might be walking around in 36” Old Navy jeans and assume their waist really is 36”.

I wish clothing companies could get on the same page with their sizing… although when I am eventually a size 8 in Gap Jeans I won’t mind telling people I am a 4 or a 6 in Michael Kors. (insert cute smiley wink here)

Is there anything about women’s size, diet or fashion culture that bugs you?


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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.

Onward!


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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 ;).

Onward!


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Roasted Pear Dessert

This recipe is part of a salad recipe I read in Vegetarian Times. I really liked the roasted pear part of the salad and realized it would make a nice healthy mid-week dessert.

Ingredients:

1 pear

1-2 oz. soft goat cheese

Fig Jam

Olive Oil for drizzling

(serves 2)

  1. Preheat Oven to 325°F.
  2. Cut pear in half and scoop out core.
  3. Fill center with 1-2 tsp. of jam (I prefer fig but strawberry is good too).
  4. Top jam with a ½ oz. round of soft goat cheese.
  5. Drizzle pears with olive oil.
  6. Roast 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

Serve and enjoy!


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Cranberry Pecan Carrot Couscous

 A few years ago as I was searching for Thanksgiving side-dish ideas I came across a New York Times recipe for couscous with cranberries, pecans and carrots. I love this dish because it has bright clean flavors that help balance out fatty meals.

Saturday Nathaniel and I had his co-worker and his co-workers wife over for dinner and this was one of the sides I prepared. I doubled the recipe which made WAY more than four adults could reasonably eat at dinner time.

Some of the leftovers made for a great light lunch today.

Tip- Since there is so much chopping involved I suggest you prep all the ingredients before you start making the rest of your meal. If everything is chopped and ready to go this dish only takes another 10 minutes to put together.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup couscous

Salt

2 large carrots grated

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup olive oil (or more as needed)

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (or more juice as needed)

1 teaspoon coriander

Black pepper
to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1. Put the couscous in a small pot and add 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, or up to 20.

2. Put the slightly cooled couscous in a large salad bowl along with the carrots, pecans, cranberries, scallions, oil and lemon zest and juice, and sprinkle with the spices and salt and pepper. Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing the couscous and tossing gently to separate the grains. (The salad can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

3. Stir in the parsley and sage. Taste and adjust the seasoning, moisten with a little more oil and lemon juice as you like, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


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Cranberry Pecan Carrot CousCous

            

 

 A few years ago as I was searching for Thanksgiving side-dish ideas I came across a New York Times recipe for couscous with cranberries, pecans and carrots. I love this dish because it has bright clean flavors that help balance out fatty meals.

            Saturday Nathaniel and I had his co-worker and his co-workers wife over for dinner and this was one of the sides I prepared. I doubled the recipe which made WAY more than four adults could reasonably eat at dinner time.

            Some of the leftovers made for a great light lunch today.           

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

 

1 cup couscous

Salt


2 large carrots grated


1/2 cup chopped pecans


1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries


1/4 cup chopped scallions


1/4 cup olive oil (or more as needed)


Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (or more juice as needed)


1 teaspoon coriander


Black pepper
to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1. Put the couscous in a small pot and add 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, or up to 20.

2. Put the slightly cooled couscous in a large salad bowl along with the carrots, pecans, cranberries, scallions, oil and lemon zest and juice, and sprinkle with the spices and salt and pepper. Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing the couscous and tossing gently to separate the grains. (The salad can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

3. Stir in the parsley and sage. Taste and adjust the seasoning, moisten with a little more oil and lemon juice as you like, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


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Veggie Tacos

This is not so much of a recipe as it is a meal alteration suggestion because you can interpret it in a million ways.

Last night I really wanted tacos but I can’t eat meat during the week and tortillas are calorie bombs. The average flour tortilla used to make burritos at taquerias has 300 calories. Corn tortillas while a much healthier option just aren’t worth it at nearly 100 calories each.

Meal suggestion – even if you want to make all the same taco fillings you normally would try using butter lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. Each leaf has 1 calorie (awesome) and I think I prefer them to corn tortillas (which I’ve never been a fan of anyway).

Tonight for dinner we had black bean tacos.

Ingredients:

3 cups drained black beans

1 cup drained whole kernel corn

Pico De Gallo

2 butter lettuces

Cheese

Sriracha / tapatio

Directions:

1. Mix beans and corn together and heat on medium

2. While beans and corn are heating wash and tear leaves off of lettuce (discard outer wilted pieces)

3. Stack leaves on plates and spoon bean mixture into bowls

(serves 2)

Serve leaves and beans with your choice of toppings – which in our case was pico de gallo, sriracha, tapatio and cheese.

***Pico de Gallo ( 2oz. / 15 calories) is available fresh at most grocery stores and is simply a blend of chopped onions, tomato, jalapeño peppers and cilantro. You can make it yourself or just buy it.


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Curry Tofu Spinach Soup

I wanted to make a quick soup with tofu because we need to start getting more protein in our diet. Per serving this soup has over 28g of protein and about 220 calories.

I used spinach instead of baby bok choy because I realize it may not be easy to get in the mid-west or Europe. However – feel free to use bok choy if you can find it.

Ingredients:

3 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup thinly sliced white onion (about ¼ of a medium onion)

2.5 cups baby spinach

1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms.

3oz. Organic firm tofu (1/4 inch cubes)

¼ tsp. Sriracha (or more depending on your taste)

2 tsp. red curry

Directions:

1. Add chicken stock and onion to a medium saucepan and bring to boil over high heat

2. Once broth is boiling turn heat to low and add sriracha / red curry – stir till combined.

3. Add sliced mushrooms and cubed tofu.

4. Once mushrooms are done (about 2 minutes) add spinach and stir till spinach is wilted and tender.

5. Serve.

(Makes one large serving)


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Day 24: Rain, Rain, Go away & Emotional Eating

He said:

It has been raining for the past two days, and while California needs the rain bad, it is not helping my running efforts.

I have been working longer days lately and having commitments at night after I’m done, which all sound like a bunch of excuses.  Doing ok with the diet, but had a couple of cookies today because we made some for Alex’s dad’s birthday and for me to take to work.  I think these acted like Alex’s cherry cordial, just giving me more motivation for tomorrow.

I really hope that the rain stops tomorrow sometime in the afternoon so that I can go for a run, because I’m itching to get back on the road.

Food Log:

Breakfast: Skyr (100 cal.)

Mid-morning snack: Banana (120 cal.)

Lunch: Veggie Soup (120 cal., 1g fat)

Mid-afternoon snack: Plum (60 cal.)

Dinner: Black Beans (454 cal., 2g fat)

Snack: cookies (420 cal.)

Total calories: 1274 (not too bad and gearing up for tomorrow)

She Said:

I’ve had a rough couple of days professionally. I didn’t get two jobs I really wanted and was notified on back-to-back days.

The first e-mail I read this morning was notifying me I didn’t make it to the interview round for a job I’ve been obsessing over for nearly a year.

I will have to apply again next year, but it was a tough thing to deal with. I ignored it till around lunchtime when I kept tearing up over coffee with Nathaniel.

This brings us to the subject of emotional eating – now that Nathaniel and I have been really reading food labels and paying close attention to our food it’s a lot easier to estimate how many calories are in restaurant dishes.

After hanging out with Nathaniel during his lunch break I still hadn’t eaten yet (like at all the whole day) and I ended up at Mr. Pickles Sandwich shop.

I ordered a Tom Turkey sandwich and a diet coke before heading out to my car. I told myself “I’m going to eat this whole thing! It has been such a shitty two days!”

Before our diet I wouldn’t have thought about how many calories are in the sandwich. I would have happily eaten the whole thing with a Snapple or a diet coke and gone home and had a regular dinner which could have easily put my daily non-diet food intake for the day at 2,500 calories.

At the halfway point of the sandwich eating I sat there thinking… and I guessed that the whole sandwich probably had 1,000 calories. It’s a large piece of bread, has mayo, pesto, turkey and several slices of cheese.

Still determined to eat the whole thing I checked online to see if I could find the nutrition info for the sandwich I was eating – it ended up being 865 calories.

I realized in that moment there is a difference between “guessing” at the amount of calories you are overeating and “knowing.”

I took one more bite and threw it away.

Then I went to a local grocery store and bought some stuff for me to make myself a really low calories soup for dinner. (Bok Choy and Shitake Mushroom Soup! Yum!)

I went over my “usual” calorie allotment today in part because Nathaniel asked me to bake cookies… putting my total calorie intake for the day at 936.