Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy


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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.

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 1.06.49 PM

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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The Truth About Diets

The above video is a serious blog by the comedic youtube personality Jenna Marbles. Besides being occasionally hilarious she is in really great shape and after continuously being asked how she stays fit she answered her fans very seriously in this video.

When I first saw this video (probably over a year ago) I remember thinking that her diet was absurd, impossible and that if eating her diet 6 days a week was what it took to look like her then it wasn’t worth it. I still believe the last part but the first two have flown out the window.

I actually don’t like the smoothies every morning idea because it’s whole lot of sugar (although admittedly the good kind) but salads for lunch and large amounts of vegetable soup are what Nathaniel and I do on top of a lot of cardio. This diet seems completely reasonable now if you are trying to lose weight but there is not a chance I’d go vegan to look like her – looking like that is not a goal of mine and I love animal products.

I also don’t think you NEED to eat like her to stay fit once you have gotten your weight under control. Once you’ve accomplished your goals “maintaining” should be a lot easier emotionally. Because, the truth about diets is that they are exhausting both emotionally and physically and the more weight you are trying to lose the more exhausting they are.

People ask Nathaniel and I what we’ve done to lose weight and we often get the feeling they don’t like our answers.

Yes – I still eat chocolate but I am aware of the calories in every ounce I eat.

Yes – I eat bacon at least once a week but I also run.

Yes – sometimes I will have a burger for dinner on a saturday but I probably didn’t eat more than 500 calories all day before I decided I could.

People don’t want to hear that the answer to their question really is: diet and exercise.

When I seriously answer people’s questions I usually get a response like: I hate running, I don’t like feeling hungry, I could never count calories.

If you hate running do something else. If you never feel hungry you’re probably never going to lose weight and if you aren’t at least seriously aware of what you are putting into your body you’re also probably never going to lose weight.

The only way you lose weight is to burn more calories than you eat.

Counting calories, seriously comparing all of your food options, being hungry and exercising on top of a caloric deficit is not fun. It sucks. Actually – it really sucks.

You just have to decide for yourself if it’s worth it.


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Getting High….breathing in elevation

IMG_2456Alex and I went snowboarding this past weekend (as I am sure you can tell from the picture) and other than being sore the next day due to falling we were both pleasantly surprised at how well we did.

We stayed at a lodge close to Heavenly, so close in fact, that in the morning we didn’t even need to drive to the ski resort, we just grabbed our gear and walked.  One thing I noticed (and later pointed out to Alex) was that I didn’t get out of breath walking up the hill to the resort.  The reason this stuck me is because Tahoe is at a high elevation (Olympians go there to train to be acclimated to high elevations) and when us normal sea level folk go there we tend to huff and puff due to our lack of acclimation.

Not being out of breath at the top of the hill was one of those small things that really cemented in my head how far we both have come.  Back in the day I am sure that I would have been out of breath when I got to the top of the hill.  And I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to go snowboarding all day (since it has been eight years since I went last time) without being extremely tired at the end.

What this whole experience taught me is that while we want to lose weight to look a certain way, or fit into a specific size of jeans, what being in shape allows us to do is—well anything we want.  I was able to go sky diving last year because I wasn’t over the weight limit (which used to be a concern for me) or go snowboarding when I want to because I know I am fit to do so.  Being healthy will not only help you live longer, but will make the time you have here as active as you want it to be.photo

Onward!


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Dying of Thirst: The New Coke Campaign

Coca-cola recently released a new commercial that is part of a bigger advertising campaign “coming together” that is focusing on obesity.  The following video is a keystone to this new campaign:

Coke mentions that of the 650 beverages in their portfolio, they offer 180 that are low or no calorie, but that is only 27.69% of their beverages, one of which is Dasani their water brand.  While I do give them props for adding calorie contents to the front of cans and introducing smaller portioned sizes, the industry (lead by Coke) is still fighting the Bloomberg ban on large soda sales in New York, which are sold in sizes that do not list how many servings or calories are contained in the beverage.  How is that “making it easier for people to make informed decisions?”

More calories per servicing then regular coca-cola

More calories per servicing then regular coca-cola

“For elementary, middle, and high schools our industry has voluntarily changed its offerings to primarily waters, juices, and low and no calorie options” states the ad, however, back in 2008 California schools (along with other states) “required elementary and middle schools to stop providing soda or allowing it to be sold in school vending machines [and] the ban has now gone into effect for high schools as well”.  I fail to see how states passing bans on soda in schools is the beverage industry voluntarily changing to serve healthier options.  Furthermore, the juices that they are touting (in the video it is Odwala Strawberry C Monster) which you can see the label to the left, has 240 calories and 43g of sugar for a 12-oz serving.  Just for comparison a similar serving of regular coca-cola has 140 calories and 39g of sugar.  How is this juice low calorie or a better option then soda?

“All calories count, no matter where they come from, including Coca-cola and everything else with calories.  And if you eat and drink more calories then you burn off, you’ll gain weight.”  Of all the lines in this ad, this is the one with the most truth in it.  All calories count is the best advice for people trying to loose weight.  And the only gripe I have about coke saying this is that soda is about an empty as calories get.  The human body, while amazing, is very poor at judging calories consumed in liquid form, which is why you could drink a 500 calorie milkshake and not fill anywhere near as full as you do by eating a sandwich and some chips for the same number of calories.

The most striking feature of this ad, is that while the subject is looking at the obesity problem in America, there is not one obese person in this ad.  Coke made sure to include beautiful, healthy looking people (some may have been a little heavy), with BMIs in the normal range.  How are they helping this issue, by not showing the people that they are speaking of?

At the end of the day, I would rather eat a sandwich then drink a coke.  I would rather have a hamburger then a milkshake.  My calories are precious and I want them to make me full, so I will stick with tap water and tea and leave the calories on my plate.


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Simple Breakfast?

breakfast

Have you ever read one of those statistical findings that say we make something like 500 choices a day in regards to what we eat? Well, we don’t always make the BEST decisions but by making better ones we can lose weight, get healthy and still feel like a sane human being.

(Right now I’d like you to guess how many calories are in the above meal – I did not add sugar to my cappuccino and the english muffin only has jam on it.)

The above photo is what I would consider  a “splurge” breakfast for the middle of the week but I want to walk you through my decisions and how I arrived to order a small cappuccino and a toasted english muffin with a tablespoon of strawberry jam.

First of all many of you might consider this an absurdly small breakfast and it would be if I wasn’t planning on eating again until lunch. My ‘meals’ are really more like a series of snacks throughout the day.

I started at 9am with this meal at a local café as I flipped through a magazine. Around 10:30 I will crack open a spicy hot V8 Juice and around 12 I might have an apple. At about 1pm I will have a hearty bowl of lentil soup (350 calories) and have a few more pieces of fruit before I leave work at 6. Throughout the day I will have tea, water and maybe a diet coke which will prevent me from feeling hungry.

By 7pm I should be at the gym – I will run 3 miles, lift weights and go home to a nice protein filled dinner although it will be low in fat… possibly an egg white omelete or scramble.

On days I get really really hungry I will also eat a small salad with my soup.

Back to breakfast – the above meal is roughly 245 calories. My calorie goal each day is 1,300 so committing to 1/5 of my daily food at 9am is why I consider it a splurge. Usually I would have an 80 calorie yogurt and a black coffee (85 calories total) and eat more fruit during the day.

I decided that if I was going to go off my pattern I would have to choose something I actually wanted (full fat cappuccino which has less calories than a latte) and not go crazy (no oatmeal).

My favorite thing to order at this cafe is an oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins.

1 cup of oatmeal has about 250-300 calories. 1 little box of raisins has 100 calories and a tablespoon of brown sugar has about 33. I always round up in my calorie estimations when I can’t prepare my own food so a simple cup of oatmeal at a café could be 433 calories BEFORE I drink anything.

Once you are counting calories long enough doing this in your head will be as easy as saying the alphabet- very fast and efficient.

I know roughly that an average serving of bread is 100 calories, jam has no fat in it and I really wanted a cappuccino to linger over.

One the subject of butter – one tablespoon has 100 calories and I can barely taste it when I put jam on my bread anyway.

Next time you go out to eat really think about what is going into the food you are ordering and it should help you achieve your goals in the long run.

I love how the Livestrong Ap breaks down my nutrients for me!

(this is the breakdown of JUST breakfast)

photo


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Mr. Miyagi Yourself

A lot of the weight loss process comes down to pulling a Mr. Miyagi on yourself.

For example, I used to always run up a hill before crossing to the other side of the street and conveniently enough I always found a reason to stop at the top of the hill. The excuse was usually a car coming regardless of how far off it was and then one day I realized I’d be more likely to keep going if I crossed the street at the bottom of the hill before going up it and I was totally right.

To be fair – the last part of the hill is intense for new runner but I haven’t stopped at the top since I had this revelation back in the summer.

Another strange psychological aspect to my weight loss is that I am more likely to eat fewer calories on the days I exercise. The more I exercise the easier it is for me to be really strict on my diet although biologically I need more food.

Part of the reason for this is I know how many calories I can eat a day without gaining weight (give or take a few hundred). Anything I eat under that means I am theoretically losing weight even if it is more slowly (at least this is what I am telling myself).

So – if I don’t do anything but eat less than 1,200 or 1,000 I can still avoid a guilty feeling at the end of the day. Theoretically I should be able to eat 2,500 without gaining weight although my BMR is altered as a result of my weight loss.

 On the days I run it is way easier for me to say no to cream in my coffee, chocolate, cheese, extra salad dressing and carbs because I visualize that as canceling out 10 minutes of running or a half hour of running as I tally the calories in my head.

One piece of Tiramisu at Il Fornaio is equal to about 45 minutes of running at Alex speed. KNOWING how hard I worked and how it will be erased by treats helps me stick to my plan throughout the day.

Other things I’ve learned about myself:

If I tell myself I will run after work it will usually not happen but I am infinitely better at running before work.

Once I have decided to not eat sweets for a specific period of time saying ‘no’ is a lot easier and treats don’t trigger the ‘to eat or to not eat anxiety’… which is something discussed in The End of Overeating. Saying you are trying to ‘cut back’ is way too vague of a goal.

Thanks for reading, onward!


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Oh Sugar Sugar…

Sugar sugar you’ve got me wanting you…

As we’ve talked about in previous blogs Nathaniel and I do not crave the same kinds of foods. He’d like to demolish a cake and what I’d really like to snack on is bacon.

Unfortunately candy and soda are all too available to us (as a civilization) all-of-the-time. They are EVERYWHERE and sadly bacon is not.

Seeing the candy for sale near the checkout counter at your local grocery store is one thing but you can buy candy and snacks nearly everywhere: bookstores, best buy, gas stations… Then you’ve got Girl Scouts hitting you up on street corners like all too brazen drug dealers, co-workers shaming you into supporting their kids’ fundraisers and office candy bowls winking at you with jewel like luster.

Eating hundreds of calories more per-day than you think you are, is really easy to do. Especially when most people underestimate how many calories they are consuming by over 25%.

I’ve just eaten a s’mores inspired sea salt sprinkled chocolate (33 calories) and I intend to make it my last “gratuitous” piece of sugar until I hit the -60 lb. mark.

This means no more random pieces of sweet throughout my day until I hit my next milestone. Thanksgiving pie I do not consider “gratuitous” because it is a traditional part of the meal and Thanksgiving is a day you should really just forget you are on a diet. (We will be blogging about that later.)

By swearing off sugars I hope to achieve my goal more quickly and be even healthier.


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Day 209: Maintaining

He said:

So both Alex and I have been bad about updating the blog recently, please don’t be mad.  In part this has to do with a slump that I have been in the last week or so.

Part of this has to do with the whole idea of maintaining versus losing weight.  When Alex and I were both losing weight together it was easy to stay on track and see the result throughout the week and be happy with the loss at the end of the week.  Now that I am in the maintaining phase, it is harder some weeks to belly up to the line and continue eating healthy.

Last week I didn’t fall off the bandwagon but I did not eat the way I have been teaching myself too and I could see the results.  I didn’t feel as good as I do when I eat well, and I got a couple of headaches throughout the week.  That is all it took to show me how the way I used to eat was making me sick and was one of the reasons I wasn’t as happy as I am now.

This week has started off well and I am back down to the weight zone I was in before I slipped.  The whole process has reinforced one important point, that the way I used to eat is what was making me fat.   This may seem like an obvious fact, but when you see it on the scale it is hard to deny.

Feeling good and moving forward!


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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 30: Free Day & -13 Pounds

He said:

So I think I am getting the running thing down.  Did 3.1 miles last week on Thursday and was able to follow that up with another 3.1 on Sunday.  The progress is starting to show and I do feel more motivated because of that.

On another note, Alex and I were getting sick of losing weight all week and then gaining most of it back on our free day (and the free day wasn’t even that crazy…ok it was kind of crazy).  So we decided that for the next two weeks, starting on the 12th that we were not going to do a free day till the 31st (excluding a dinner with Alex’s parents on the 17th).

With all of that, last Saturday we had Alex’s parents over for dinner (corn beef and cabbage, shout out to my Irish cousins), but didn’t have a free day only that one meal.  The next day was back to normal and starting out this week I weighed a little less then I did at the end of last week, a great place to start.

I am supportive of the free day concept because it gives you something to look forward to during the week and when you do get a craving it is easier to tell yourself that all you have to do is wait for the weekend then to tell yourself your never going to be able to eat that again.  One of the bet free days that Alex and I had was when we hiked through SF.  Because even though we had half a doughnut and cookie, some breakfast sandwiches and a heavy Italian dinner, almost all of that was counter acted by the hike.

I guess you just have to customize when you are going to splurge and how much your going to allow yourself.  As I said before, I think it is crucial to have these free meals, one because you can do it guilt free as it is built into your diet and two it will help you stick to your diet.  But instead of having a doughnut breakfast of two or three doughnuts on your free day, have a bowl of adult cereal and one doughnut to cut the calories down.

Getting close to some goals and starting to set my eyes on new ones, it’s an exciting time.

Food Log:

Breakfast: Skyr (100 cal.)

Mid-morning snack: Banana (120 cal.)

Lunch: Lentil Soup (250 Cal. 2.5g fat)

Afternoon snack: Fat-Free Cottage cheese (90 cal.)

Dinner: Lettuce Bean Tacos (425 cal, 1g fat)

Total calories: 985.

She Said: 

As of today I have lost 13 lbs. since we started our blog one month ago!

Today I screwed up at the gym and didn’t change the incline on the treadmill after my warm-up walk. So after my first 3 minute jog I was dying. I thought to myself “holy cr*p how am I this tired?” and then I realized… “You idiot – you were running uphill for three minutes.”

As a result I didn’t run as much as I should of to fully complete my workout so after lifting weights and doing abs I went back to the treadmill and put in another 3 minutes of running to get as much cardio in as I was supposed to.

Now that I’ve lost 13 lbs. livestrong.com has cut the number of calories I can eat on non workout days to maintain my weekly weight loss goals. I have more motivation to work out now because that means I can eat REAL food!

My goal is to lose a definitive 2 more pounds before the end of the month and hopefully fit into my “skinny” jeans.

I ate a lot of little things today that I don’t want to bore you with… but with my workout I still have 275 more calories I am allowed to consume today.

Also – for the past few days my nightly motivational treat of choice has been semi-sweet dark chocolate chips – 32 to be exact (and yes I really do count them).