Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy


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Habit Loops

Breakfast in Atrani Italy Summer 2009

Breakfast in Atrani Italy Summer 2009

To use vocabulary from The Power of Habit– I developed a habit loop.

I already drank Starbucks in High School but during my first three years of college I had a really long commute and nearly every morning I would go to starbucks, buy a drink and a pastry (full of carbs, sugar and fat) and eat it before class started.

I was easily putting down 700 calories before lunch and hungry before noon ever approached.

I’d get hungry when I didn’t eat a real breakfast, pick-up coffee and a pastry because I was in a hurry, indulge in delicious sugar that made my brain happy with all those awesome calories… rinse and repeat.

You couldn’t physically eat 7 apples for breakfast but that’s the caloric equivalent of what I was doing but without any vitamins or protein.

As I started traveling the habit loop was repeated everyday (although not at Starbucks). I’d wake up in the morning, roll out of my hostel bed and head out the door with my backpack. On the way to a museum or the train station I’d grab a cappuccino and pastry on the street corners of Rome, Barcelona, London or Paris.

Breakfast in New York City Spring 2010

Breakfast in New York City Spring 2010

Do that everyday for months at a time and the habit gets into your DNA. I would then spend all day on my feet so I actually lost weight but when I came back to college in the fall I continued the pattern minus the exercise.

Even after a year of TwoAHealthyLife I can’t go to Starbucks without eyeing the pastry case. I especially love the mini vanilla scones… So recently I’ve been avoiding my pastry-buying triggers.

I know what I am going to have for breakfast everyday M-F (yogurt). I have a piece of fruit at 11, lunch around 12:30 and more fruit at 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm.

In addition to my food plan I am trying to cultivate the habit of making tea before I go to work so that I won’t be put in a situation where I am in a line internally bargaining and arguing with myself about eating or not eating something that shouldn’t be considered food. Part of what I crave in the morning isn’t necessarily “coffee” but a hot beverage I like the taste of.

A side effect of this new habit is that I should save at least $500 a year NOT buying coffee before work.

Nathaniel found The Power of Habit and encouraged me to read it and I am really enjoying it so far. I encourage anyone trying to change his or her lifestyle (for whatever reason) to pick it up.

For us dieters this book can help you identify how to tackle key habits that you want to get rid of or avoid and come up with helpful strategies to reach your goals.

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Of good runs and bad

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimolsonphoto/8358642701/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Photo by Kim Olson

On Wednesday I had a good run; I think the first good run of my marathon training and since coming off an injury late last year.  There are those runs, that from the beginning you just know you’re in the zone, your steps feel light, your breathing is synched, the whole act feels fluid.  Not all runs are like this, in fact, most aren’t.

I am not one of those people who would tell you “even the worst day of running is better then the best day of being a couch potato”.  There are some days that my runs don’t feel good, where I am tried and it is a struggle to keep going and not turn around (and sometimes I do).

There was a piece on NPR a few days ago (listen above) that was about how in the facebook generation we have turned into a society of braggers, where people only post the good news online and leave out the rest.  To some extent I feel I have been that way on this blog, putting down the successes and not admitting the failures.

Over the course of the several months were I was dealing with knee issues, I was depressed about not being able to run, and I let a lot of the habits I had built for myself go by the wayside.  I went from 155, back up to, at one point to 170 (this was also in the middle of the holidays, but no real excuse).  Now I am back down to 163, but it is still a struggle to get back down to where I was.

What I am really trying to get at is that, even though I may sound like I have it all together from my posts, there are still those days where all I want to do after work is come home, get in my PJs and watch TV while gorging on ice cream.  As Newton said, objects at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by a force.

Not every run is going to be great, not every day of dieting is going to feel good.  By I can honestly say that since I have gotten back on track the last several weeks, I feel way better then I did when I started to slip and eat junk again.  Keep your eyes on the horizon, remember why your doing what your doing, the long term goal, and keep in mind those really great runs.

Onward!


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The Big Push

Lunch

Lunch

Last night I announced to Nathaniel that I am in the midst of a big push to lose my next 7 lbs. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between 50 lbs. of weight loss and 53 lbs. of weight loss for what seems like a really really long time. I blame at least part of this on the automatic M&M dispenser at work but also preparing less of your meals at home or making more complicated meals at home increases the difficulty of gauging your caloric intake.

Wired (the publication I work for) had a really interesting article about how calories are sometimes too flexible as a unit of measurement. I agree with the article but I also think that if steaming your vegetables instead of eating them raw is enough to throw your weight loss program off… you are probably not cutting your calories enough to begin with.

Basically I have to go back to being really really strict with my calories (those M&M’ are a slippery slope) and running 5-6 days a week. My BMR is all out of wack right now and if I eat 1,000-1,200 calories a day without running I don’t lose weight.

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185 lbs. represents 50 lbs. of weight loss since January of 2012. My body mass index as of this morning is 26.1 which makes me still medically speaking overweight. For me to have a healthy BMI of 25 or lower I need to be at least 174 lbs. which I fully intend to celebrate at my favorite burger place.

I expect this push to make me crazy and cranky for the next month. An occasional strip of bacon should keep me sane.


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Edge of the World

Nathaniel and I had a great weekend full of activity and healthy foods!

Getting up Saturday morning we loaded up my SUV with Nathaniel’s sufboard and headed to Pacifica. While Nathaniel spent time in the water I went for a run along the coast and saw some spectacular scenery. 

Pacifica is a great place to run and I can’t wait to go back and explore the trails along the coast more in the future. 

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I turned off of highway 1 and ran down this path towards the beach.

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Intensely beautiful views everywhere.

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Runner or not I am still clumsy and I fell running up this staircase.

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Nathaniel rinsing off after about an hour in the ocean.

I was a little late getting back to the beach to meet Nathaniel (and he was a little annoyed) but the run was amazing. At certain points you are running along a sheer cliff and feel as if you are on the edge of the planet… although you are (obviously) on the edge of a continent. 

It is a crazy feeling of freedom.

It was my favorite run so far.


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Office Temptation

ImageToday I instagrammed my lunch.

I’ve purposefully tried to stay away from instagramming food because the light is rarely good enough to bother doing it with a phone and because I’d like to keep myself out of the cute kitties and food rut some people get sucked into.

However – today I made an exception because I was really really hungry and very thankful I had stocked up on steamfresh veggies this morning. I discovered these a few weeks ago and have been routinely eating a bag of veggies with a tofurkey patty and an egg for dinner. The meal comes out to around 300 calories and it is LOVELY to be able to make a hot and healthy meal in under 10 minutes although I think I am going to stop eating the tofurkey (too processed).

I decided I wanted the soup Nathaniel and I made this week for dinner instead of lunch so I went to Target before work and bought some steamfresh bags to hide in the freezer at my work. Interestingly enough the fridge at my work looks like a science experiment inside but the freezer is nearly bare.

I just wanted to share this lunch cheat with our TwoAHealthyLife readers. Even the more calorically dense steamfresh bags are under 250 calories which is pretty fantastic. I don’t buy the ones that come with sauces inside because I want to avoid that much sodium in one meal.

Eating healthy at work is really hard- there seems to be temptation everywhere. The snack machine in the hall is full of things high in fat, sugar and salt. This trinity is responsible for us craving all the things we should eat less of.
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Our primal EAT alarm goes off when things are balanced with these flavors – something Nathaniel and I can talk more about at a later time. But- there is a reason foods we would normally consider “savory” get sugar added to them. Hamburger buns for example have quite a bit of sugar in them… a lot of bread does. Sugar makes you crave that burger more.

My biggest challenge at work arrived shortly after Christmas. One of the editors was given an automated M&M dispenser by his mother and he brought it to work… It is now constantly filled with M&M’s and I have to walk pass it nearly every time I leave the office. It’s on my way BACK from the bathroom.

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I told Nathaniel this morning I would consider it a personal victory if I didn’t eat any M&M’s today (5 calories each) and so far I haven’t…

T-minus 45 minutes.


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A Race at Lands End

route

He Said:

Today we did another DSE run (they host them every week, so if your in the Bay Area you should come check one out, $5 for a race isn’t bad) the first one we did was the Embarcadero 10k and today’s race was the Golden Gate Vista 10k.

One of our friends had told us about it so Alex and I agreed to do the run without really reading anything about it or doing any research on the course.  The run was at lands end in SF and for those who don’t know, this is one of the hilly parts of the city (I know, where is it not hilly).  The run starts on a trail and then goes along the coast, where it peeks on a hill (or small mountain) over looking the Golden Gate bridge.

Without having looked at the map or realizing where the run was going to be held, it was a little bit of a shock when we got there and our friend told us it was going to be hilly.  The first half of the run went fine, knowing that there were going to be hills, until we got to the mini-mountain and struggling to get to the top of this thing.  There were a couple of guys in front of me, and just seeing them keep going helped to motivate me to keep going.  Getting to the top without stopping was my accomplishment for the day and it did make me feel good about the race.

Over all I ran the race in 54 min, which with all the hills was better then I thought I was going to do.  My comment to Alex in general about the race was how strange it still is sometimes to think that we just wake up and run six miles now.  Both of us agreed to the run without really thinking about it and not worrying about not being able to complete the run or dying along the road on the way.

Cheers to 10ks.

Onward

Left to right: Me, Nathaniel, Billy and Alli.

Left to right: Me, Nathaniel, Billy and Alli.

She Said:

A few weeks ago my best friend’s girlfriend asked Nathaniel and I if we would like to do a 10k with her and my best friend.

Without really worrying about it I told her we would do it – not even knowing the name of the race where it was or anything other than the fact it was in San Francisco and only cost $5 to participate in.

It’s so amazing to me that a year ago I couldn’t even jog a ¼ mile without dying and now I’ve completed a half marathon and can run a 10k any given Sunday without really worrying about it.

The only thing I do differently leading up to it is eat a different breakfast than I would normally eat. Usually I like to have a banana and orange juice before a 10k but today I had toast with peanut butter and orange juice.

Anyways – the date kind of snuck up on us and just after 8am this morning Nathaniel and I were pulling into a parking lot near Sutro Baths in San Francisco with our friends in the car behind us.

It was a brisk morning and we were quite cold as we checked in, paid our fees and just stood around waiting for the 9 o’clock start to roll around. A tall guy (about 6’5’’) sidled up behind Billy and was eyeing him really obviously.

It annoys Billy when people comment on his height or react strangely to him because he is tall so I told the guy “Yeah – he’s taller than you.” Which really embarrassed him and he wandered away…

Soon it was time for the race to start and Billy (the only one of us who has done a marathon) told us the course was going to be hard. I seriously hadn’t even known where the race was until we got into the car and were heading north towards the city … but Billy telling us it was going to be hard worried me a little bit.

We took off at 9 am and the big group of us went looping through the parking lot and then off road to a nice trail with views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The view was fantastic for most of the run and around mile 1 we hit a staircase and I had to climb it – not running.photo-5

To be fair- the stairs were spaced really strangely for running. Only really tall people would be able to run them normally but for the rest of us you have to either bound up them or take a strange step and a half for every stair.

Those stairs were the only thing that really killed me on the run. I was dying by the time I got to the top of them (partially because my muscles were still cold).

I noticed a long time ago it takes me about two miles to start enjoying a run – after that I can cruise a long for a while and just be really happy to be out moving.

During the Las Vegas half Marathon I felt like shit from mile 0-2 and 9-13. Everything in between was fantastic.

I caught Billy and Alli on a long sloping hill near the three-mile mark and passed them near the top of it. Alli (sorry if this annoys you) is a lot thinner than me but doesn’t run as much and she has asthma. If she ran as much as I did she would totally kill me because I outweigh her by 20-30 lbs.

After I passed them on the downhill portion of that hill it was probably another half mile till we started climbing again. And then it was maybe another mile of long sloping hill.

I didn’t actually need to stop at any point on the race except for the stairs although I did walk with Billy and Alli for a few minutes.

The last big hill it came down to just making myself do it. I was slowly trotting up it and near the top stopped and took about two walking steps before I told myself I was being lazy and that I could finish it – and then I started running again.

Although the course was hilly and hard I set a new PR today by about 2 minutes.

I was really happy with how I did and it has me motivated me to start running on a more regular basis.

Onward!

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Salad Day at Work!

Lunch1

Yesterday the kitchen staff at my office sent out a e-mail at 12:30 (when they usually do) saying that lunch was ready. Usually – I sadly read the delicious things they’ve made before getting up to heat up the soup Nathaniel and I made for the workweek.

Today the e-mail declared it was salad day and listed all the fun stuff that would be offered to top our lettuce – I was super excited.

I gave myself a huge pile of lettuce and then tried to use restraint with the toppings but I still ended up having to journal the meal at 500 calories. But, it kept me feeling full the rest of the day and I didn’t feel any guilt from the smoked trout or bacon bits I put on it in measured amounts.

Apparently the kitchen used to do salad days all the time but the carnivores were not appreciative so they cut back on it. Hoping to combat this I sent the kitchen staff an e-mail saying how much I appreciated it.

Last week my weight finally started dropping again but this week its going to be hard to get back into the swing of things – we have so many delicious leftovers from Super Bowl Sunday that I can only hope that Nathaniel will binge and eat them all before I get home tonight.

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