Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rediscovering "The Plank" for quick afternoon energy

I recently got back into full-time work after about half a year on an adjunct's schedule that allowed me plenty of time during daylight ours to take part in my favorite strenuous form of exercise - hiking. But now that I'm office-bound five days a week, I've been struggling to find time for getting a regular workout. I do medicine ball exercises in the evening before going to bed, but I like to get staggered workouts throughout the day. Thank goodness for The Plank!

This exercise is easy to do, and for instructions just follow this link, with instructions from ACE, the American Council on Exercise. I just did several sets of the front plank followed by a couple side planks, and my mid-section, especially lower abs, and rear-thigh muscles are burning. I'm flooded with elusive mid-afternoon energy, and I'm ready to take on my next client!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Will eating the Rabbit Wrap hinder my progress?

I love to eat out when I can find healthy options. When I lived in Miami and Boston, I relied a lot on Panera Bread Company as my go-to place because they had several options that fit my diet plan. How do I know this? They provide detailed nutritional information. Most places nowadays do, actually. So what does it mean when a place tells you they are "unable" to provide nutritional information.

Flying Star is an amazing restaurant in the Albuquerque area. Everyone knows them as the sort of place you would go if you care about the environment and eating healthy. They pride themselves on being local, organic, sustainable, humane. But they are also one of those places where nutritional info is elusive.

Click on Nutritional Information on the Flying Star web site and you get a message saying: "Unfortunately, we’re unable to calculate nutritional information at this time. However, if you have a specific allergy or dietary restriction, or have a question about our menu items, please email your request".

I don't know what that means, but I'm going to email them to find out. I'll even send them a link to my blog so they might have a better sense of why this information is so important to me. In any case, I know for a fact they use Velveeta in some of their cheesy items, which doesn't really concern me since I stay away from cheese anyway. But this tells me first that their food can't be quite as local as they'd have us believe, and second that their primary focus can't really be their diners' overall health either. It's a confusing mixed message of an attitude that screams, "Save the environment, but screw the humans!", if you ask me.

Will the Rabbit Wrap hinder my progress? The company's "unable" to tell.
Anyway, tonight I went into the Satellite Coffee location (which is a Starbucksy coffee house off-shoot of Flying Star Restaurant, with a limited but tasty menu and more of a focus on the company's hand-batch locally roasted brews). I ordered an awesome sandwich wrap, called the Rabbit Wrap. It contained kale, carrots and roasted peppers, as well as hummus, a few other goodies I think, a pomegranate vinaigrette, and was wrapped in a big flour tortilla.

Lots of nutritious elements I look for in my food were present - the veggies and even the buzz-word pomegranate told me it was packed with natural vitamins and minerals, and the hummus signaled protein. But because it only came pre-made, I didn't have a choice to substitute a healthier whole wheat or lower calorie bread or even to order it without the dressing.

After eating it, I didn't feel terribly weighed down or like I overrate in any way, but my guess is that the calorie count was higher than I'd have liked to have for my dinner, and there really was no way to be sure.

For this reason, I will most likely limit my visits to both Satellite and Flying Star, opting for Starbucks in the meantime, which provides detailed nutritional info and lots of sandwiches in the 300 calorie range I look for. I'll also be on the lookout for other local options that ARE able to be nutritional-information transparent.

Bummer, though, because I really love this company and their delicious, enviro-friendly foods!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

10 strategies I'll use to lose the next 50 pounds

Today I started my new job as an achievement coach at the local community college here in Albuquerque, and in celebration of this, I've decided it is time for me to get back on track with my weight loss goal

My first before and after, Dec. 2010
Anyone who follows this blog knows that when I started my weight loss journey some three years ago, I was tipping the scales at more than 420 pounds. My goal, which was to halve my 40th birthday (in August, 2011), was never 100 percent realized when I decided to take a break from strict calorie-counting after a full year and several months of being quite strict with it and having lost 165 pounds.

Having reached 255 pounds by May of last year, I decided to take a break so I wouldn't become completely burnt out on weight loss. I quickly put on about 20 pounds, and I settled into a healthy eating routine that allowed for fairly frequent splurges. I've maintained my current weight for nearly a year now.

So now, I'm ready to get back in the saddle and make my way to the finish line. I'm setting a new goal of losing 25 pounds in the next six months to reach 250 pounds by my birthday in August. I know I could probably be more aggressive and attempt to lose the whole 50 pounds I need to lose in order to overcome obesity once and for all. But instead I will take this process slowly and shoot to be at 225 pounds by the end of the calendar year, 2012.

How will I do it? Well, here are a few of my strategies:

1. Increase my water intake to three liters of water a day, four on days that I do heavy exercise, and more if I'm hiking for more than three hours outdoors - this is the desert after all!

2. Start each morning with a cup of oatmeal made with four or five chopped prunes, a splash of milk and some fruit, like a banana or an apple, and one soft boiled egg.

3. Ensure I eat lots of fruits and vegetables throughout the day by always having celery and carrots and a banana on hand as mid-day munchies at work.

Dinner on a small plate looks much more satisfying!
4. Set aside time and eat meals sitting at a table, using a smaller than normal plate so portion sizes look larger.

5. Eat good carbs, like quinoa or sweet potatoes for example, instead of bread at meals. Eat lean meats only occasionally, and more as a side dish (no more than 4 ounces per meal)

6. Prepare healthy staple items and pre-portion them in advance to facilitate calorie counting (1,800 calories per day).

7. Pack my lunch and lay out items I will need for breakfast the night before to avoid possible excuses to eat out.

8. Continue to avoid hazardous ingredients like hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, corn and soy based snacks, monosodium glutamate, etc.

9. Create a health-conscious culture at work by identifying a support network of accountability partners and bringing in healthy options instead of cakes and cookies to celebrate at work.

10. Use my lunch break to get in at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or medicine ball exercises.

Goal-setting always feels good; it puts my in a place where I feel confident for taking control of my future so I don't succumb to poor, destructive habits. But what's better than setting a goal is the feeling of accomplishing it! That feeling is indescribable, and it lasts forever!