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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The SparkPeople Epiphany


I have to say THANK YOU so much to the many fit blogs that I have read that clued me in to SparkPeople.com!! It's been a couple months since I signed up, but just 3 days ago, I really actually learned how to track your food & exercise, so I've actually for the first time since January, (when I signed up for Weight Watchers for the 4th time, then quit after a week,) TRACKED MY FOOD/calories, fat, etc.! Go me! Woo hoo! I think that's some good progress. I was amazed that it will generate meal plans, grocery lists and weight workouts for you all for free!! I love being told what to do, sometimes. You know?

Now, admitedly, I only kept within the calorie range 1 out of 3 days, but it was a good education for me on where I can do better & where my stumbling blocks are. I didn't actually realize that I was eating as much fat as I am. So there is definitely a red flag. But the good thing about SparkPeople, was that it was not as much pressure as WW. ("Oh no, I didn't follow the plan this week! I'm wasting my money!") Everything on the site was extremely positive and I loved how it gave you reward "points" for doing all those little things like reading articles, tracking your food, drinking your water. So if the scale isn't budging, you still get a small pat on the back for the things that you ARE doing.

The only thing I wasn't able to figure out is if it links the calories burned during exercise to your food calories. That's one thing I liked about WW ("I had an hour of cardio today, so I get to eat 4 extra points of food!"). And the other question I had for any of you SparkPeople experts- I understood that the points were just for fun, right? No actual real reward for the points, right? That was actually ok with me- I found myself still really happy for getting the points for drinking my water, etc. & trying to do more healthy stuff just to get those useless points. So any way you look at it, it's a good thing.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Mint Brownies: You Can't Take Them With You When You Die

I wish I could explain to you how much I love mint brownies. There is an elite list of comfort foods that I have, and yes, I know everyone has them. Mint brownies are on that list, cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, the list is longer & includes mostly breads & sweets. My husband knows that mint brownies are on that list. For Mother's Day, he gave me some homemade mint brownies. Yes, brownies. Not jewelry, perfume or something for the house. My mother's day gift was mint brownies!

So, the other day I started to worry about the psychological (and spiritual?) health of someone who loves these foods THAT much. The brownies were almost gone, but not quite, and my husband threw away the remainder. When I found out, I was really peeved. And it hit me that I didn't like how greedy I was being about these stupid treats. I reminded myself a bit of the story of the miser that spends his life amassing money thinking that it gives him power and then he dies & guess what- you can't take it with you.

I wish I could better understand the psychological reasons why I can't just stop at one or why eating the treats brings me so much happiness that I'm willing to trade it for a healthy body weight.

One psychologist I talked to suggested fasting. Does it have to do with the fear of being hungry or the lack of appreciation for food in general since I usually don't have to go hungry? In the religion I practice, we fast once a month (=go without food & water) for 2 meals, then give the money we would have spent on food toward a fund for the poor of our area. We are supposed to use it as a time to let the spirit overcome the demands of the physical body and get closer to God. I do practice this, and although I'm not the best at having a good attitude about it, I know that's not what would fix the problem for me.

Another psychologist asked if I was nourishing my body in other ways. In other words, was I stuffing my face at times, not because I was physically starving, but emotionally starving, or not getting other nourishment that I needed in terms of enough sleep, etc.? I think that's closer to the mark, especially since I eat so much junk and comfort food when I'm stressed. Honestly, though, I still don't know what to do about it. And I guess I better find out before I find myself at the end of my life not having valued the right things ENOUGH. Oh, of course I love my family more than treats, and I love God more than I love treats. But why do I spend so much time thinking about treats, making them, and worrying about eating enough of them? I don't want to be a brownie miser.

I'd love to hear your ideas about changing my outlook and my psychological need for the treats. If I don't change, I'm afraid that I will end up to be the woman in the casket, a lifeless hand beautifully arranged, clutching a mint brownie near my heart.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

When you didn't lose fat, you lost water

I have found it helpful/motivating to weigh myself every day. I know there are 2 schools of thought on this, but for my particular personality/situation, I am in the weigh-yourself-every-day school of thought.

For me, it gives me imediate feedback on what is going on with my body at the moment. If I have gained a few pounds, I know that I am bloated, constipated, whatever, and that I weighed 3 pounds less yesterday, so I don't freak out thinking that "exercise is useless & I will now give up." When I used to weigh weekly, it would go all wrong. I'd work really hard all week just to see a gain, or I'd be horrible & cheat all week, just to see a loss. And this every day system has given me the reality check that I can't take the credit for losing weight on a day that I'm sick or dehydrated. I can only take the credit when I've burned some serious calories and eaten less. The only happy weight loss is the fat. Not muscle. Not water. Here is what I learned from Fitness Magazine that I thought I'd share with you below.

Things that make your weight artificially low:

  • Sweating a lot
  • Just having worked out
  • Drinking alcohol (dehydrates you)
  • Eating a lot of protein (generates extra waste products, you pee a lot, you lose water)
  • Being sick (again, dehydration)
  • Coffee, any caffeine (or other diuretics)

Things that make your weight artificially high:
  • The clothes you have on
  • You just barely drank a lot of water
  • You just ate a bunch of vegetables (they are fibrous & full of water & will add weight until they digest)
  • You ate a lot of salty foods
  • You're constipated
How 'm I doin?
Eating: Terrible. I have been snorting down desserts until I'm stuffed. Just writing this blog is helping me re-commit to thinking about it more in terms of MODERATION & just coming back to my senses.
Exercising: Awesome! Up until last week I never missed even one day of my work-out routine. But last week I missed a few days, including yesterday, being sick. But the truth is, I'm getting a bit bored. I think I need to shell out the huge amount of cash & meet with the personal trainer again. The main motivator for me is that it is like black & white how much it helps with my depression. So I can't quit now (or even slow down! I was doing so awesome!).

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Something on which you can finally blame all the evils of this world


I recently read this fantastic article answering so many of my questions about why the grocery stores in the US are full of so much fattening food, how in the world did they come up with hydrogenated fat and high fructose corn syrup (& why they don't have things like that in Europe where they so arrogantly blast Americans for being fat-- I listened to it non-stop while I lived there for 5 years. And I weighed a lot less then, than I do now!)

I would highly recommend reading this New York Times article. But if you're not going to read it, you should know that the reason why we're fat is we've been choked to death with fattening food all our lives in the school lunch room and basically, the affordable food is fattening because it's indirectly HEAVILY subsidized by the U.S. government. (Corn & soybeans.) (Here's a great example from the article: A twinkie versus carrots:

[A Twinkie is] a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?
I was so incensed after I read this article, that I immediately wrote emails to my Congressmen, Senators, and even the governor for good measure, in case there was anything he could do on the state level. I just feel that yes, we can fight the problem by only shopping at Whole Foods, where they don't even let food in the door if its ingredients give you heart attacks. But it's expensive. And it's a tough problem to fight when you're fighting a 2 year old and a 4 year old who go to the grocery store with you and see all the fruit snacks and cereals on their eye level. The Farm Bill makes environmentalists mad, it makes our foreign trading partners mad, and it makes health conscious people mad. Another accurate, bulls-eye concept from the article is that the Farm Bill is not about farms, it's about food, and it's about time that the every day eaters of the food get a say. The Farm Bill only gets reauthorized every 5 years, so this is the year that counts. They fix it this year, or we and our kids get extra padding on our butts thanks to the US Government until 2012.

Read the article.

Contact your Congressmen.

5 Happy Things
  1. Even though it was hard, I really enjoyed going to the gym in the morning today instead of the evening.
  2. It helped that both kids were in preschool this morning! Yay!
  3. I made this yummy salad for my family last night.
  4. The beautiful warm weather.
  5. Going to card club tonight and seeing Stephanie off before she moves to CA. I especially enjoyed her 2 sweet daughters. One was a happy cute baby that just gave you endorphins when you smiled at her. The other was an adorable toddler who made her entrance at one point naked and soaking wet. :) Such cute kids. We'll miss you, Stephanie!