Sunday, June 13, 2010

What A Whirlwind Weekend

Even though it's only Sunday, it's been a very busy weekend. Yesterday I helped set up for a wedding at the beautiful Castle Hill in Ipswich for a wedding planner I used to intern for. I'm really glad that I came prepared with snacks and everything because I was so "go, go, go" that when I finally stopped at 5:00 (I hadn't eaten lunch since about 12:30!) I realized I was hungry. I didn't want to be tempted by the very delicious, fattening (and probably unclean) guest food. So I was happy to have a protein bar and an apple.

The only thing I didn't like about the day was that my eating was off. Even though I had a snack at 5:00, I was still hungry from running around, but I didn't get home for dinner until 9:30 at night. I ended up having whole wheat pasta with chicken sausage and red sauce, but having all those carbs late a night was NOT a good idea (even though I was having a super sugar low). And not only that, even though I was full on pasta, I had a clean eating magazine dessert that I started to eat and realized I didn't like it because of the mushy texture... but I still finished it! Basically I am unhappy with myself for carbo loading, eating past my satiety point so late at night, and continuing to eat something just because.

The moral of the story is that I have to learn to still eat on my usual plan, even if I am busy or whatever because bad things like this happen. Obviously in the grand scheme of things one time isn't horrible, but I don't want to get into that habit of erratic eating, which something like this can lead to.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Finally Did It!

Yesterday I went to the gym to try one of those free training sessions that have been posted all over the locker room for the past month. When I got there the fitness director took me into her office to ask me questions about my health and goals. Then she told me to warm up on a cardio machine for a few minutes. I was expecting to at least get a generic workout of a few weight training exercises, but instead she addressed working out my back and techniques for good posture (both are needed by this girl)... and that was it. That was my free training session. Very disappointing.

However, that was not the end. She took me into her office to sign me up for paid training sessions, which I knew was coming, but I thought would come after a better workout. I did see through their "marketing strategy", as I am very educated in consumer marketing. I understand that they don't want to give away any "secrets" for free... they have to make money somehow! Despite all this, and even though I could see through their marketing ploy, I signed up for 3 months of training sessions with a guy named Tony. For the past 3 years I've been talking about purchasing a few training sessions, but never actually did it.

I think I was able to finally "bite the bullet" because I am at an ideal mental state. I am at a healthy weight for the first time in the my very short life (remember, my heaviest was 163 lbs in middle school), and mentally I am prepared to take my fitness to the next level. I don't want to keep going through new workouts that aren't giving me the results that I want... I don't want to keep doing that for the rest of my life. I want to spend my life enjoying the physique that I want and finally reach my goals. I am hopeful that Tony can get me to my goal.

My sessions start in July, so I will post progress and thoughts when I begin!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hidden Sugars

I am a former sugar addict. I still crave those delectable sweets, but I try to satisfy any crazy cravings with fruit. While I have come a long way (I allow myself one reasonably portioned "dessert" dessert per week), I find that some of the clean foods I've been eating have added sugars. For someone who is trying to combat a genetic history of heart disease, high cholesterol, and spare tires, any way that I can avoid added sugars is desirable. Not only do added sugars pack on the pounds, but the more you eat the more you crave it (not good when you're a former addict). So what is a girl to do? Well, I did a little research and compiled a list of foods to watch out for because they contain hidden sugars, even in their organic state. I also added list that will help you decipher the names and forms sugar can take...

Sneaky Foods
  • protein bars
  • flavored yogurt/ greek yogurt
  • certain breads (watch out for raisin breads and honey wheat breads)
  • low fat salad dressing (they take out the fat, but add sugar for taste)
  • ketchup
  • spaghetti sauce
  • peanut butter
Sugar Names  
Natural Sugar Sources
  • sucrose (table sugar)
  • cane sugar
  • maltose
  • fructose
  • dextrose
  • lactose
  • honey
  • agave nectar
  • Stevia extract (considered a sugar substitute, but research so far has shown that it is not chemically processed)
  • sucanat
  • sugar beet syrup
  • barley malt syrup
*please note that fructose and lactose are natural sugars from fruits and milk products, respectively

Artificial Sugars (chemically processed and to be avoided at all costs)
  • saccharin
  • aspartame
  • sucralose (not to be confused with sucrose)
  • neotame
  • acesulfame potassium
  • sorbitol
  • xylitol
  • corn syrup
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • isomalt
There are many more sources of sugar that are out there, but I chose the most common that I see on labels.Also please feel free to correct me as I am not an expert and could always use the guidance of an expert!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Smoothie Time!

One afternoon I just needed a coffee boost to go with my snack, so I decided to concoct a protein smoothie with a caffeine boost (I wouldn't recommend having coffee past about 1pm because you may not be able to sleep, but once in awhile is okay). Here is what I made:

1 scoop unflavored protein powder
about 10 oz unsweetened chocolate almond milk
about 4 oz coffee
a little bit of water
2 stevia packets

Pour this mixture over ice and you have a great coffee treat! Maybe I'll try it in the morning...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Good Form for Weight Lifting

One wrong move and you'll feel it for days... yesterday I was doing some weight training circuits and lost my balance while doing traveling lunges with 15 pound weights. I should have taken the time to set up and follow through with good form because I woke up this morning with a minor foot injury. In that small window of losing my balance I must have twisted my ankle and foot alignment enough to cause injury.

What happened to me is a great example as to why you need to use good form and concentration. Here are some tips to making sure you avoid injury and get the most out of your workout:
  • Always warm up with stretching and add 5 minutes of cardio if possible
  • Slow down and don't rush your moves. That's when you fall out of alignment and risk injury (who wants to miss a workout due to your own laziness?). If you can have a spotter or trainer help you to make sure you are in proper form.
  • Use a lighter weight. When you use weights that are too heavy to control you tend to swing the weights and use momentum and could possibly end up with a lot of joint pain. You'll know when you are able to move up in weight (example: if you usually aim for 8-10 reps, but you can do more than 10 with your weight then it's time to move up!).
  • Use the targeted muscle to pull the weight, not your back, neck, etc. For example, when doing a bicep curl make sure your arms are at a 90 degree angle, your back is aligned, and your knees are not locked. If you don't you employ upper back muscles and neck muscles... places that aren't intended to be worked during this move and could be strained.
  • Most importantly, train to your capacity, not your goals! Everything takes time and you have to build up the proper strength and muscle. Even when getting workouts from a magazine or website if you can't complete the workout by their guidelines modify it to fit your needs. Eventually, you will be able to train at your goals, but until then be patient and do what matches your ability.

These are basic tips that sometimes people forget about. Do you have any tips that I missed? Comment and let me know!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mmm... Smoothie Time!

I have finally created a smoothie that is both enjoyable and is packed with protein. I am not a big lunch person, for example, if I could go between breakfast and my afternoon snack without being ravishingly hungry and do damage to my metabolism then I would skip lunch altogether. don't get me wrong, I love a good salad or something but I never feel like making something like that for myself. I also don't like sandwiches and eating leftovers is a bore.

Now that it's summer I've dusted off my blender, so I could make delicious lunch smoothies. In the past, I sampled Shakeology from Beachbody, and while the chocolate was divine with a dollop of peanut butter and banana, the product is too expensive for someone who's income depends on babysitting. I've tried less expensive combinations, but they literally tasted like grass and dirt (I'm a foodie... if it doesn't taste good I don't eat it even if it is good for me). I researched chocolate protein powders and came to dead end because all of them are sweetened with sucralose or Splenda, which, in all honesty, agitates my bladder. To keep a long story short, I got an idea from a recipe site to use unsweetened chocolate almond milk, which I did and it came out delicious! Here is what I used:

1 scoop unflavored protein powder (doesn't have added sweeteners)
1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 medium banana
1 spoonful of peanut butter (use more or less depending on how much PB taste you want)
About 1/4 cup water
About 6-8 ice cubes

Blend these together and you have a delicious lunch smoothie! I'm just sad that I drank all of mine...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Margarita Cheesecake
1/4 cup honey
1 cup organic vanilla wafers
2 packages Neufchatel cheese
1 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
3 TBSP Grand Marnier
3 TBSP gold tequila
3 TBSP fresh lime juice
1/2 cup egg whites
2 TSP lime zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crumble wafers, then add honey and combine thoroughly. Pack crust mixture into spring pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, but soft to the touch immediately after taking out of oven.
Thoroughly mix Neufchatel cheese and greek yogurt together. Then, add sugar, lime juice, Grand Marnier, and tequila to mixture. When evenly combined slowly add in egg whites. After egg whites are mixed in add in zest.
Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Put filling in crust and spread evenly. Tap pan on counter to make sure there is no bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes. While keeping cheesecake in oven, increase temperature to 325 degrees and bake for between 17-20 minutes. After taking out of oven let cheesecake cool completely, then refridgerate.

Makes 12 servings.

About 250 calories, 7g fat, 48 carbohydrates, 5g protein.

Last Night's Dinner

Last night I made the most delicious quesadilla's for my family. I combined a couple of recipes to make turkey pumpkin quesadillas. I used brown rice tortillas from Trader Joe's, black beans, ground turkey seasoned with cumin, onion powder, pepper, and chili powder, sauteed onions and green peppers with plain pumpkin mixed in, and topped it off with a pinch of cheese. After assembly, I baked them for about 10 minutes to melt the cheese and they came out delicious! One is all you need for a meal, as they were very large. Also, the tortilla became crispy in the oven so, as something different, they had a great crunch that went well will the filling.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Heart Just Skipped A Beat

As a member of the Team Beachbody community, my heart almost skipped a beat when I got an email about Chalene Johnson's new Turbo Fire!! She is is my favorite trainer and motivator and I've been looking forward to some new workouts from her (I get bored easily, so 6 months of Chalean Extreme needed a break). Here is the link to the preview:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Case Against Splenda

Some days I sit down and try to find new tips about exercising and new clean eating recipes only to find that some people put Splenda into the foods they eat. Splenda is not a clean food! While the commercials across the television screen suggests that the sugar substitute comes is a healthy derivative of sugar--they are not wrong in that it comes from sugar, but they fail to meet the typical standards of "healthy", as Splenda is in fact chemically produced. When I think about this, I imagine something to the likes of a cleaning product pouring from that Splenda packet into my coffee. Personally, I quit using Splenda a couple years ago when I started noticing I had bladder discomfort and bloating. I also read an article that explained the real horror of this sugar substitute.

In a study done by Duke University in 2008, it was found that Splenda and other sucralose products are actually destructive to our bodies. Below is the article for all to read (it's long so I will highlight the important parts). What you have to understand is that the sugar industry actually funded the study and when the results were not to their liking, they dismissed the claims proven by the study. The idea of the corporate machine, however, is another story for another day.

Duke Study Not Sweet on Splenda 

By Truman Lewis

A new Duke University study finds that the artificial sweetener Splenda contributes to obesity, destroys beneficial intestinal bacteria and may interfere with absorption of prescription drugs.

It's the latest in a continuing round of studies, claims and counter-claims pitting artificial sweeteners against the powerful Sugar Association, the lobbying group for the sugar industry, which financed the Duke study.

McNeil Nutritionals, which manufactures Splenda, said the study's findings were "unsupported by the data presented" and said Splenda may be safely used "as part of a healthy diet." The study is scheduled to be published in a forthcoming issue of The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. An advance copy appears on its Web site.

A Minneapolis-based group called Citizens for Health said the Duke study demonstrates that Splenda is a health threat. The group, headed by attorney Jim Turner, has been collecting consumer reports of side effects supposedly caused by Splenda.

"The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study ... confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label," said Turner.

Turner's group has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on it to review its approval of sucralose and to require a warning label on Splenda packaging cautioning that people who take medications or have gastrointestinal problems avoid using Splenda.

"The new study makes it clear that Splenda can cause you to gain weight and lose the benefits of medications designed to improve and protect your health. The FDA should not continue to turn a blind eye to this health threat," Turner said.

In February, a study published in Behavioral Neuroscience cites laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to control their intake and body weight.

McNeil and the Sugar Association have been waging war in the courts and the public arena for years. In 2004, the association sued McNeil, claiming it had misled consumers by claiming that Splenda was "made like sugar, so it tastes like sugar."

Splenda's main ingredient -- sucralose -- is manufactured. The process involves the use of a sugar molecule but there is no sugar in the finished product.

The Duke study was conducted on rats over a 12-week period. A lead researcher, Dr. Mohamed B. Abou-Donia, said the Sugar Association had no input into the study's findings.

Earlier study
In the February study, psychologists at Purdue University’s Ingestive Behavior Research Center reported that compared with rats that ate yogurt sweetened with sugar, those given yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin later consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat, and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later.

Authors Susan Swithers, PhD, and Terry Davidson, PhD, theorize that by breaking the connection between a sweet sensation and high-calorie food, the use of saccharin changes the body’s ability to regulate intake. That change depends on experience.

Problems with self-regulation might explain in part why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners. It also might explain why, says Swithers, scientific consensus on human use of artificial sweeteners is inconclusive, with various studies finding evidence of weight loss, weight gain or little effect.

Because people may have different experiences with artificial and natural sweeteners, human studies that don’t take into account prior consumption may produce a variety of outcomes.

Three different experiments explored whether saccharin changed lab animals’ ability to regulate their intake, using different assessments -- the most obvious being caloric intake, weight gain, and compensating by cutting back.

But why?
Why would a sugar substitute backfire?

Swithers and Davidson wrote that sweet foods provide a “salient orosensory stimulus” that strongly predicts someone is about to take in a lot of calories. Ingestive and digestive reflexes gear up for that intake but when false sweetness isn’t followed by lots of calories, the system gets confused. Thus, people may eat more or expend less energy than they otherwise would.

The good news, Swithers says, is that people can still count calories to regulate intake and body weight. However, she sympathizes with the dieter’s lament that counting calories requires more conscious effort than consuming low-calorie foods.

Swithers adds that based on the lab’s hypothesis, other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame K, which also taste sweet but do not predict the delivery of calories, could have similar effects.

Finally, although the results are consistent with the idea that humans would show similar effects, human study is required for further demonstration

Read more:

Additional Reads:
Sucralose Toxicology Information
The Potential Danger of Splenda

I would love to hear your thoughts on Splenda and sugar substitutes!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Great Tea Discovery

I am a big fan of tea. It doesn't leave you dehydrated like coffee and is a great, tasty alternative to water. Recently, at my graduation party with my family, I ordered tea and when the waiter brought out the tea box I was intrigued to try the Harney & Sons Black Currant tea. After the first sip I was in heaven. It was delightfully fruity and didn't require any sweetener (I don't put sweetener in my tea anyways). If you want to check it out for yourself, here is the product website!

Harney & Sons Black Currant Tea

Recipe of the Week

In the food world everyone knows M is for muffins, however, muffins usually mean sugar and white flour. What is a "clean" girl to do? Well, make my own protein snack muffins! (Sorry about the picture, took it with my horrible phone.)

Every week I will share a new recipe, maybe even two if I can't bear not to share!

Oatmeal Raisin and Banana Protein Snack Muffins
1 1/2 mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 scoops unflavored whey protein powder
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup Whole Foods organic unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
1 TSP cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 TSP vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash banana in small bowl. In a large bowl thoroughly combine rolled oats, protein powder, mashed bananas, raisins, applesauce, egg whites, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon with spatula.
Line muffin pan with paper liners. Evenly fill each cup with batter. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Makes 8 servings.

About 130 calories, 1g fat, 13g carbohydrates, 9g protein.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Mission

Most Americans find themselves in various dilemmas when it comes to eating and exercise. For me it has been a struggle for most of my life, beginning as an overweight pre-teen and teen. Once I got to college I spent a lot of time running and working out, as I had yet to meet any meaningful friends. As the years progressed (and yes, I did make friends) I tried every combination of diet (low-fat, low-carb), every diet food out there (splenda, a lot of packages foods that claimed to be healthy, Lean Cuisine), and attempted to master several kinds of fitness programs. While I lost about 15 pounds my first year of college (no freshman 15 here!), I was at a standstill for the next three years and would scrutinize everything I put into my mouth. I was giving myself more work than I needed as I was constantly bombarded by fitness and diet information from a variety of sources.

Finally, about a year ago, I started my true destiny towards fitness and being happy and healthy (I may as well add that I have genetically-related high cholesterol and predestined for high blood pressure and degenerative back disease). I watched an infomercial for Beachbody exercise videos and became interested, but not serious because, hello, it was an infomercial product. I did a little more research and decided to give their products a try as they came with a money-back guarantee. I got hooked on Chalene Johnson's Chalean Extreme videos. I was never one to build muscle quickly, but with her I was becoming more defined, but not necessarily as muscular as her product claimed it would make me. Still, I was extremely satisfied with her videos and, doubled with a now balanced diet, free of partially-hydrogenated packaged crap, I lost about another 8 pounds. Although I was healthy and at an ideal weight, I was not at my ideal physique.

Things recently changed again when I came across both Clean Eating and Oxygen magazines. For the past 3 weeks or so I have been reading up on the things both mags had to offer and, although I haven't seen any major results yet (too early), I've revamped my lifestyle to be one of sustainance. The Clean Eating lifestyle that included foods that are as close to nature as possible has given me more energy and I'm no longer bloated from the foods I was eating (I have a very sensitive stomach and easily become bloated or sick). I feel good about myself for the first time, especially because of the workouts I've been following in Oxygen magazine (I modify it with the Chalean strategy of slow, heavy lifting with less reps as that's been the only way for me to tone up). What I appreciate about Oxygen mag is that it has a "tough-love" mentality, as it's geared towards fitness competitors (most fitness magazines geared towards women are not honest and straight-forward about the real work that comes with achieving a lean, toned body and claim their strategies will give you the results you want... I have yet to see that). Now, I'm not planning on competing, but what I need is a kick in the butt to lose my extra belly fat (I carry my weight around the middle) and achieve my goals.

The purpose of this journal will be to share my progress as well as new recipes that I've created based on the clean eating philosophy (and recipes that I find elsewhere). I would love to have those that read this blog share tips and perhaps help both me and each other to understand things we may have questions about and to share personal experiences.

I shall end with a few stats...
Gender: female
Age: 21
Weight (less concerned about than measurements): 117 lb
Height: 5'3"
Measurements in inches: chest (36), waist (27), low waist (32), hips (35.5), arms (about 11.5), right thigh (21.5), left thigh (21)

What I ate and exercised today so far...
Breakfast: egg white omelet (about 1/3 cup) with green peppers and onions, 2 thin slices seeded whole wheat toast, (about) 2 tablespoons of Tofutti cream cheese
Workout: abs, outer thigh, inner thigh, back, chest
Snack (post-workout): pear
Lunch: 3 thin slices soy cheese wrapped with 2 slices of ham and 3 thin slices pastrami total (I know deli meat isn't very clean, but it's all I had today in the house), wedge of cantaloupe
Snack: homemade protein muffin
Dinner: Mexican casserole with organic corn tortillas, salsa, soy cheese, ground beef, black beans, onions, peppers, corn
Snack: 1 cup whole grain cereal (should not have eaten this because cereal is sugary and makes me crave sugar)