Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy


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Day 182: A run by another other name, might just be a walk

He said:

There was a great program on NPR today interviewing Dr. Joan Dorn (Chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention) about walking and commenting on a “new study by the CDC showing that walkers are much more likely to get the recommended amount of daily exercise” than non-walkers.  One of the main points of the interview was that even though walking is not likely to help you shed pounds or loose weight fast “the really important point is, even in the absence of weight loss, health benefits of physical activity are vast”.

What this interview stressed is something we have talked about extensively in this blog, finding physical activities you like to do. Two of the reasons Alex and I have seen success is by changing what we eat, but even more importantly, we found physical activities that we enjoyed doing.  With “more than 50 percent of Americans [not getting] enough physical activity to meet guidelines (2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week andmuscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest,  shoulders, and arms)) people clearing arent finding exercise they like to do.

So with the recommendation being that all adults should get about four hours of excerise(I am assuming weight lifting session should be about 45 min.) of exercise a week, it is important to find something you love doing, because let’s face it, life is too short to be doing exercise you hate.

Walk, jump rope, row, skateboard, bike ride, walk the dog, swim, hike, run, basketball, football, jumping jacks, push-ups, the list is infinite.  One other suggestion, if you like group activities, go to meetup.org, there are listing for flag football and basketball groups, yoga, running clubs that all meet on a regular basis.

Get out and get going and be healthy.

Onward!!

(All quotes were taken from the transcript of the interview)


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Day 169: We are young & Mid Week Splurge

He said:

The sun is high in the sky, there is an empty bowl of soup on the table next to me as I try to squeeze the last minutes out of my lunch break before heading back down the hill to sit under some florescent lights for the rest of the day.  My fingers are scrolling over the screen to my smart phone as I thumb through breaking news events, Olympic stats, and health articles when three high pitched voices, along with corresponding persons, sit down at the table next to me and start to open bags of goodies recently purchased at the grocery store, which I can only presume is their lunch.

I continue to stare at my phone, enjoying the warmth of the sun heating my skin, in part because the air conditioner at work is set on high for summer even though we live in the bay area where it doesn’t get above 75, when one of the girls pops off with “I wonder how many calories this has in it?”.

What struck me about this question was that all three of these girls must have been in middle school, somewhere between 10 and 12 years old, so why was she wondering how many calories were in her food?  My second thought was, why are these children here unsupervised?  I thought it was great that someone so young was conscious of the idea of looking at how many calories food has in it, or I was impressed, until I saw that their lunch consisted of a bag of Ghirardelli chocolates, gummy worms, and three bottles of soda (though it must be mentioned that none of these girls was overweight).

In the afternoon this article appeared on my yahoo news feeds “Sodas banned from many schools — but not sports drinks” talking about how schools are doing a better job of not selling sodas, but are still providing other sugary drinks that make up for it.  After reading the article, it made me think of those girls and how one of them apparently had a vague idea that she should be concerned about calories, but still was eating a lunch that had no nutritional value and was being purchased outside of the school cafeteria.

What this brings up is that as much as parents, schools, and the government try to limit and control what people (especially children) eat, at the end of the day we have free choice over what we put in our bodies.  The only thing we as a society can do is make sure that young people have enough education about nutrition, diet, and exercise so that they are informed enough to make the right choices, or at least better decisions some of the time.

One choice at a time.

Onward!!

She Said: 

Today  for work I took my client to downtown San Francisco via BART because she had never been to the ferry building and because she needs to become more comfortable with public transit.

She is also trying to lose weight and wanted to estimate calories in foods she might possibly eat before we left (something I do occasionally) but I told her she should think of our special day trip as a free day and not be so concerned with what she ate at the Ferry Building.

I am going to describe to you my food grazing and my lunch ordering decision process because I realized how my menu scanning has evolved since February.

While my client perused a gourmet grocery shop I bought a caramel candy for 65 cents and popped it in my mouth. It was delicious and probably had 50-80 calories, which I was okay with.

Next – I grabbed a New Orleans iced coffee at Blue Bottle while my client snacked on two scoops of ice cream. My coffee was REALLY good. A drink that tasty could be 200 calories (it wasn’t) and I would feel the calories were still worth it. I’ll estimate it at 100 calories because of the milk they poured into it.

About an hour later I introduced my client to Raw oysters at the San Francisco Fish Company. She had two raw oysters and I had two raw oysters and a raw clam. This snack for me was approximately 30 calories and I absolutely love raw oysters.

We walked around for a bit more and my client decided we should have lunch at the same shop we had our oysters at. Scanning the menu I saw fish and chips, grilled ahi tuna burger, po’ boys and clam chowder… All of these things sound delicious in theory but even before I was counting calories I found myself often disappointed in fish and chips and po’ boys.

I think those food items CAN be really good but more often than not are really mediocre and I realized for how much I would probably enjoy it, the oil wasn’t worth it.

I feel sometimes when we order off of a menu we think of how good it might be and not how good it is probably going to be. That being said if I know a bacon cheeseburger is going to be the best bacon cheeseburger I will inhale it with gusto and not feel guilty at all.

I ordered a half-pound of noodle shrimp salad that had a tangy sweet and sour flavor to it and 8 oz. of lobster chowder. I finished the chowder but as I had suspected it was only mediocre and I was glad I hadn’t gotten a whole bowl of it. The noodle shrimp salad was really good but I didn’t finish it.

The last thing I ate in the city was a small crème brulee from the crème brulee cart on Market Street.

When I got home from work I ran 6 miles and had two pieces of bacon and fruit for dinner.

Today I weighed in at -44 lbs. and I am feeling really good about my progress.

Some tips that I am going to pass on to people from this experience:

  1. When ordering at a restaurant think about how realistically tasty the food will be before you order.
  2. Prioritize your calories – would you rather order something fried or something healthier and have a dessert?
  3. One indulgent meal doesn’t mean you have to write off your entire day as a caloric failure. Big lunch? Have a small dinner!

My total food consumption for the day:

Breakfast

Light and Fit Strawberry Yogurt (80 calories)

½ cup blueberries (40 Calories)

Snack

30 grapes (100 calories)

Lunch-ish

Caramel (80 calories)

Blue Bottle Coffee Drink (100 calories)

2 oysters 1 clam (30 calories)

8 oz. Lobster Chowder  (** 240 calories)

Pasta Salad (** 400 calories)

Crème Brulee (** 400 calories)

 Dinner

30 grapes (100 calories)

2 pieces of bacon (100 calories)

Note: If you think this is an obscenely small amount of food after running 6 miles you are probably right but I wasn’t hungry till 9pm and I didn’t want to eat a full meal that late at night.

(** Denotes rough estimation)

Total: 1,770 calories


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Day 164: Inspiration

He said:

Alex and I, along with most of the rest of the nation, have been sporadically tuning into the summer Olympics to watch great athletes complete at the peak of their talents.  But one of the more inspiring moments that I have seen this summer (outside of the girl’s gymnastics team bringing home gold) was this Nike commercial (I know, really, a Nike commercial?).

As Alex pointed out, Nike is really great at selling motivational athletic ideals (in hopes that people will be inspired and buy all new Nike stuff to get in better shape).  However, I still applaud them for showing this commercial, because in the middle of the Olympics, when we are watching the fittest people in the world compete, it is great to see someone who is struggling with weight motivated to do something about it.

It goes into the general mindset of America, we look down upon people that are fat or overweight (even though 63% of Americans are either overweight or obese) and then sneer at their attempts to do something about it.  When I was overweight I would see someone else who was overweight jogging along the road and secretly hate them because they pointed out that I was overweight and not trying to change.  They made me feel bad about myself and so I would make some comment in my head that what they were doing wasn’t working anyway because they were still fat, all in a vain attempt to make myself feel better about not exercising.

I like this commercial because it gets to the heart of the issue, not caring what other people think and knowing that you want to make a change and doing it.  It is working out even when you feel self conscious in front of the other people at the gym or running after work even when you have had a bad day.  It is digging deep and knowing there is a well of strength you can pull from.  Next time you don’t feel like working out or are self conscious about it, just think about this kid and how much courage it took to be in this commercial.

I also like him because his name is Nathan.

From one Nathaniel to a Nathan – Keep up the work kid, and you will reach your goal.

Inspirational.


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Day 156: Cravings

He said:

Doughnuts on the kitchen table, a coworker’s candy bowl, cookies at a local meeting, we have all been in situations where food is present and for no apparent reason we become transfixed on that food until we have some.  I won’t even necessarily be hungry, but if someone brings in doughnuts for the office, my mouth will begin to salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs in anticipation of the sweet, doughy goodness.  This is only part of the toxic and ever present food environment that we live in now.

Three instances from the past week will help to illustrate this phenomenon in a more concrete way.

  1. A coworker brought in doughnuts (seeing the theme here) for the department and decided to leave the box on my desk for people to snack on.  I had already had my morning meal and was about to have my mid-morning snack (almonds), so I wasn’t really hungry, but as soon as the doughnuts showed up I was thinking about having one.  I was able to put them out of my mind, have my snack, and focused on my work, but every now and then I would think about the doughnuts.  After I got my morning coffee an hour later I moved them into the break room and ten minutes later they were gone.
  2. Went into the break room to have my afternoon snack (low-fat cottage cheese) and someone had left a package of cookies on one of the tables for people to eat.  I looked at the package, thought about what I had eaten that day and started to justify how I could have one and it be all right, I opened the packed ready to grab one, and then knew if I had one then, I would eat it, my cottage cheese, and then have another one after.  In that instant I knew it was easier for me to just not have a cookie then try to only have one, I was able to close the package and have my cottage cheese and then flee the break room.
  3. On Monday we had a department lunch (I feel like I work with the foodiest people ever) of pizza.  We do this every couple of months and I have told everyone I am on a diet so I don’t partake of the pizza, plus what I have found out about myself is that I do not like pizza that much and in true fashion I was able to sit in the luncheon and not partake and not think about the pizza at all.  I had no craving for it and didn’t even think twice about not having any.

In my cravings, what I have learned about myself is that I have a sweet tooth and if I am going to indulge or think about food it almost always is going to be sweet things. For Alex, she loves savory food, and doesn’t really give in to sweets too often (though she does have chocolate every day, in moderation).   What has become easier as this whole lifestyle has progressed is controlling cravings and understanding that I don’t need to indulge all the time, plus having a free day where I can eat the way I want helps tremendously.  On the day with the cookies, I told myself that if I really wanted a cookie I would wait till Saturday and then go to this really good cookie store in SF.  That was the other thing about those cookies, they were safeway store bought cookies, and even though I really wanted to eat it in that instance, in the back of my head I knew it was not going to be as good as I had built it up in my head.

The point on that one being that if you are going to splurge make sure you get the good stuff, because there is no sense in wasting the calories on something that isn’t exactly what you want.  Most of these ideas are being formed from a book I am currently reading called The End of Overeating.  I am only about halfway through, but it has already been enlightening, and I think I will do another blog post just on that book and its main message.  But it has opened my eyes to how I crave things and some ways of getting around those involuntary hunger pangs.  At the end of the day we should all try to become more aware of what are bodies (and brains) are telling us and just remember, half the time your brain is telling you you’re hungry, but your body isn’t.

She Said:

It is really interesting to see how you prioritize food when you are on such a strict diet. As Nathaniel said – I eat chocolate nearly every day.

I buy dark chocolate chips like you would use to bake cookies with and keep them in the fridge. I never eat more than 100 calories worth in a day and the bag lasts weeks.

While I do love chocolate the main reason I have chosen chocolate chips is because they are really easy to portion out. If I am getting close to my calorie limit for the day and choose to put cheese on my omelet then I can count out half as many chips and still have a treat.

Nathaniel however is really the one with the sweet tooth. I am more into savory foods – I’d much rather have wonton soup or bacon than a doughnut. Pizza would distract me in a meeting to no end and I’d probably spend an hour arguing with myself about eating or not eating a slice. (I’ve done this.)

Another reason Nathaniel doesn’t “daily cheat” the way I do is because once he gets started he knows it’s going to be hard to stop at just one cookie or one doughnut.

The other day I ate the crème filling out of a cookie and tossed the cookie part. I don’t want the cookie part and eating it just doesn’t make sense if I don’t like it. Nathaniel thought I was insane…

My most common cravings are wonton soup and meat… and I’ll explain.

Wonton soup is much healthier for you than Ramen and I can actually eat it during the week without breaking my calorie allotment if I’ve run more than 3 miles.

I actually crave wonton soup more than any other singular food item because I know I can eat it and feel full after the indulgence.

Meat is another story – Nathaniel and I are mostly vegetarians during the week but I grew up in a more meat heavy household than he did (his mother is a vegetarian).

Sometimes I think back to those delicious grilled steaks in huge portions my Dad gave me growing up and I really miss being able to eat a half-pound of really nicely grilled beef without guilt. Fried chicken is eaten for dinner about once a week in my parents’ house. Dad cooks bacon everyday and meatloaf, carnitas, chorizo, bbq, roast beef, prime rib, salmon, shrimp and roast chicken were all on heavy rotation during my childhood.

My parents cook delicious meat and that’s probably one of the reasons this is the thing I miss most. Meat, unless we are talking about the leanest of seafood is just not calorically efficient for it’s volume which is the main reason I’ve kept pretty vegetarian M-F.

Today I put a half cup of shrimp in my egg white omelet for dinner and even with cheese my dinner was only 330 calories.

Nathaniel’s Mom baked a lot and loves sweets so that’s probably one of the reasons he does too.

Nathaniel likes to spread jam on low calorie toast for a snack… I like to spread soft light swiss cheese (laughing cow).

When you are fighting your cravings it’s really interesting to think back to how you developed those food weaknesses.

If you could pick one food that would count at zero calories when you ate it in any amount what would you choose?

Me? Bacon.


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Day 64: 66% & Being Lazy

He said:

Since I did speed training yesterday, Alex and I decided it would be a good idea to rest today (outside of my biking to work) to give my muscles a chance to rest.  She suggested this would be hard for me to do because I’m a boy and it would be difficult for me to admit that I needed some rest.  So no run today, just some light exercise after work.

I listen to NPR at work almost everyday (I highly suggest it as it is something useful that you can listen to while on the job) and today they did a great piece on dieting, GO listen to this interview, it really helps put a lot of aspects of a diet and dieting into perspective, even for people who are deep into a diet.

One of the issues that was brought up in the interview and the callers bring up is not necessarily loosing weight, but maintaining your weight loss in the long run.  What wasn’t really addressed, and something Alex and I have talked about extensively lately, is the balance of diet and exercise in your life.

What a lot of people don’t realize about dieting is that it is made easier (and faster) by adding daily exercise to your routine.  In a class I took in college (an economics class strangely enough) the idea was presented that just a little change today can have a significant effect on a lifetime.  People know that if they quit smoking they will be more healthy and live longer, but you really want that cigarette today and you could always stop tomorrow.

With a little effort right now, the effect it will have on the rest of your life will be dramatic.  If your remain lazy now you will be one of the 66%.  By this I mean the fact that 66% of Americans are either overweight or obese (this I got from the interview, so that’s my source).  Just take a walk today and worry about doing the running tomorrow.

There is one more aspect of this topic that Alex told me about a while ago.  There was an article she read where there was a guy who loved ice cream and wanted to be able to eat it everyday.  So as part of a healthy diet, he found out how much exercise he needed to do everyday to be able to eat a bowl of ice cream.  Now while this may be an extreme case, it brings to light the best view of how you can live a healthy life.

Face it, we all love eating decadent food (some more then others) and what makes most foods delicious is fat, which is calorie laden (think French food, it’s good because they found early on that fat tastes great and put it in everything) so the way we can combat not gaining weight is to exercise a little and watch what we eat at most meals.  Most French are not overweight and that is due to the fact that while the food they eat is high calories and fat they eat small portions and get daily exercise.

This is hard to focus on while dieting (sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees) and yes a diet is being in the middle of the suck, but use this as a motivator.  As you get healthier and closer to your ideal weight, you’re going to be more active and for how much more active you are you can indulge yourself with a treat that isn’t setting you back.

I hope this all made sense and didn’t seem like a lecture, but it is a pretty cool idea and brings into perspective the fact that a diet is not forever, it’s only for a short period of time that will be followed by living a healthier and happier life (indulgences included).

*On a side note, some may have noticed that I have stopped listing what I eat everyday.  This isn’t because I have fallen off the wagon and began eating my old diet again, but is merely due to me being lazy and not wanting to do it everyday.  I know every calorie that goes into my body and I think I have graduated to the next step of the diet, which is using what I have learned at every meal to make better decisions about what I consume.

She Said:

Nathaniel took way too long to write his monstrous blog post and it is now 10:40 at night. I am in a great mood but I don’t feel like writing very much because I’m feeling sleepy.

I understand to get past this plateau I am going to have to really kick my efforts in the butt this week so in addition to eating roughly 800 calories today I did a “long run” day putting in 4.5 miles in at the gym in an hour.

As always I am including my warm-up and cool-down walks in this time and distance.

Tuesday I will do speed work for 30 minutes and hopefully on Wednesday I will run 3 miles without stopping. I only recently discovered I can do 2 miles at a time but I am confidant in my ability to do 3. For me doing 3 miles is going to be more of a mental contest than a physical one.

I am a lazy person when it comes to working out. This is slowly changing… but trust me when I say that most days I don’t want to go to the gym. GOING to the gym is actually harder for me than jogging two miles. I don’t like being sweaty – I constantly use my gym towel to wipe in between my fingers to get rid of the sweat.

I have a couple rants on my mind relating to health but I will save them for later in the week when I am blanking on what to write about.

Cheers!


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Day 49: the ten mile run & Out running Jay-Z

He said:

Well I made it through my business trip and was able to not gain any weight!  This is a big accomplishment for me, but also puts into perspective that when I get to the weight I want to be at I will be able to maintain it while being looser with my diet as long as I continue to exercise.

With this in mind, I was able to work out every night but one when I was down in LA, and I found out something interesting about myself, I no longer enjoy using treadmills.  When I used to go to the gym I would only use the treadmill, or the elliptical, but never really tried running on the streets because I would become winded too easily and gave up.  Now is the exact opposite, having a machine dictate to me how fast I was going to run just didn’t seem like any fun.  I am sure I should work on one in the future to help me better understand pacing, but for now, give me a run on the streets any day.

Switching gears I did a long run today and broke the ten mile mark (10.5 miles to be exact) though those last couple of miles I was clearly not running at my top speed, though I was able to do the whole run in about an hour and twenty minuets, but that is not a super accurate number as the goal was the mileage not how long it took me and I didn’t bring a watch.  All the experts say that you shouldn’t be adding that much mileage that quickly, so I plan on working on pacing and speed for the next couple of weeks before I try this run again.  I want to gt my 5 mile to thirty minutes, so I need to start picking up my pace.

The other goal I have for this week is to go to a running group that happens every week at the local shoe store.  I have seen it several times on meetup.org and have never wanted to go because I was embarrassed about my running abilities. Now that I am a little more versed in how it works, I think running with some experienced runners could be great as they can hopefully point out flaws in my running that will help me improve and give me someone to help push me.

That’s all for now, just trying to keep the motivation up!

She Said:

Nathaniel should try running with my friend Billy! Billy did a half marathon recently and they could have some healthy boy competition!

Anyways – I have been feeling kind of down the past week because I wasn’t capable of running the amount of minutes that I should be able to according to the couch-to-5k program.

This and a combination of Texas BBQ and tamales (okay- and maybe a churro) hasn’t helped my self esteem since I have been in Texas visiting family. So, today I told myself I was going to do at least 3 miles on the treadmill and then walk until I finished an hour.

Around the three mile mark of jogging and walking I found it hard to keep a steady pace. As I was walking I kept wanting to jog on the treadmill but I knew I couldn’t keep the “usual” jog pace for more than a few minutes if I tried to jog again. In my mind I was failing again because I couldn’t properly fulfill my jog time quota.

It was a “dur” type of lightbulb moment for me to decided that jogging at a significantly slower pace and doing it for longer would be much better than the jack rabbit yo-yo thing I was doing. That last mile was the easiest of the 4+ miles I did today.

Keep in mind I didn’t have an iPod in high school and in my past attempts at couch-to-5k I gave up before getting to the half way point but… today for the first time in my life while jogging with an iPod I ran through an entire song and kept running. (For the record – it was Jay-Z’s “can I get a”)

I know that sounds like total weak sauce compared to Nathaniel’s 10 mile day but I feel really good about this. I think tomorrow I am going to be able to do some really really good mileage now that I have accepted I just need to run slower (for now).

I ran more than 4 miles but I like to underestimate how many calories I burn and overestimate how many calories I take in. Plugging in 4 miles in 1 hour into my livestrong.com myplate program tell me I burned 983 calories.

This more than made up for the churro and pint of beer I had today.

Can’t wait to take on the treadmill tomorrow!


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Day: Traveling & STUPID free days

He said:

I am working down in LA this week on a business trip and one of the hardest aspects of this (aside from being away from Alex) is trying to stay on my diet and routine while on the road.

This morning before my flight I ate my usual yogurt and got a cup of coffee at the airport.  To help me with my snacks during the week, I brought some protein bars (4.5g fat, 180 cal.) as a way to make sure I have some low calorie options.

While I have let my coworkers know that I am on a diet, I also don’t want to be one of those people who makes people eat what they want because they are on a diet.  Thus I have to make smart decisions as I navigate menus this week.  The coworkers wanted Baja Fresh, which I have never been to before, and while Mexican food is not known for being calorie friendly, I knew I could find something on the menu that would work for lunch.

Navigating restaurant menus (done well in Eat this, Not that) can be tricky and they use many words to hide what they are trying to feed you.  After pursing the menu, the highest calorie item topping out at 2,060 (Carnitas nachos, I would hope you could figure out that nachos are not really a good choice) I decided to get the Baja Ensalada (310 cal, 7g fat) with no dressing, but I did put more pico de gallo on it for flavor maybe 325 calories.

For dinner we went out to sushi, and while I kept my order to almost all sashimi (no rice) and one roll with rice, my meal (from what I can calculate) came out to around 513 calories.  I don’t feel to bad about this because there was a lot of good protein in it and I was able to put in 50min on the treadmill when I got done with work, so I know I burned some calories today.

Trying to stay on track, let’s see how tomorrow goes.

She Said:

Although Nathaniel and I ate nearly the same thing on our free day my body retains those extra calories longer than his. We both expect to weigh more the day after a free day because food can take a while to digest but it’s really frustrating to not know exactly how much weight you gained… the setback it a question mark.

I wanted to be really good on my diet this week but the cheese in our fridge was too tempting – I had some and then tossed it in the trash… later in the night I wanted a sweet snack so I drizzled a little honey over a banana.

Not a terrible lapse but I am feeling really down on myself and fat today.

I still ate 300 calories less than what my body needs to maintain my current weight but it was at least 200 calories more than I should have eaten today.

Nathaniel will come back from his business trip on friday but I will already be gone to Texas. The state that considers BBQ eating and expanding waist lines competitive sports.

I do plan on eating BBQ at least once but it’s going to be fun trying to exercise in San Antonio… I don’t know if my hotel has a workout facility yet.

Tomorrow I really want to get up early and go to the gym. Nathaniel hears me say this a lot (too often) and it usually doesn’t happen.

I’ll let you know tomorrow how it goes!

I am not going to allow myself another “free day” till I hit my half way weight loss goal which should be at the end of May.