Monday, January 23, 2012

Screw Low-Fat and Low-Cal, GO Low-Ingredient!

I just read an article on Yahoo! “Diet Mistakes that make you Fat.” I got so enraged at the article that I started venting to my friend about it…but then decided I could vent to you instead. You’re welcome.

The article, if you don’t want to read it—and really, don’t bother—is basically about how some foods that you are taught are “good” for you are actually very high-calorie and/or high-fat. For example, olive oil is considered good for you, yet it is very caloric if you use too much. Or, peanut butter, also known to be a “good” food, but is high-fat.

OK. The article is being truthful, but what it’s also doing is scaring people on “diets” away from foods that they should be eating. It fails to mention how olive oil helps with daily digestion and it’s calories will burn faster than those in, say, a Snickers Bar; or that peanut butter, while high in fat, will keep you feeling full long after you’ve finished eating it. The problem, I fear, is that people will read this and not eat peanut butter or not use olive oil and instead will buy highly processed Lean Cuisines or sugar-free Healthy Choice Cookies—thinking that these are better foods for their diets because they have less calories. I know that this is how people think, because this is how I used to think. When I was counting calories, I would, hands down, choose to eat a frozen Lean Cuisine over make myself grilled chicken cooked in olive oil. When counting, a calorie is a calorie. Thank goodness, I’m past that and I have seen the benefits of eating quality food.

I won’t bore you with examples of ingredients in foods that we buy everyday, but what we can do—rather than freak out about peanut butter and olive oil is to check ingredients. Rather than low-cal or low-fat, lets go for low-ingredient.

If you can read and understand the ingredients on the product, you’re probably doing pretty well. Also, on a side note, some items that you think must be good because they’re from Trader Joes or Whole Foods, aren’t. Trader Joes, for example, has 3 different types of sour cream (I know, I know, high-fat AND high-cal—but oooh so good!) Two of the sour creams have about 6 ingredients (I can sound out most of the words, but I have no clue what they are or what they do), the third container, however, has 1 ingredient: Grade A Cultured Cream. WHY would there be anything BUT that in sour cream?

Am I right?

Need another example? I had a friend move to Italy for a year. She said she ate more pasta and cheese and bread than she ever ate here in the states and she lost 15 lbs. Seems impossible (and awesome!), but the difference is that they use almost all fresh ingredients. Make the pasta daily, make the bread daily, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, etc.

My point is, give yourself time at the grocery store—find out WHAT you’re actually buying and what will eventually make it to your tummy. To me, its become much more important than the total calorie or fat intake.

This is all sort of part of my experiment, rather than focusing on the numbers in food, I’m trying to focus on WHAT I’m eating and trying to be overall healthier and my hypothesis is that I will naturally lose weight doing so.

Apologies for the rant. I’m off to Trader Joes.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Overcoming Sunday Laziness

Along this new journey I’m on (where I eat good things and workout at least 5 days a week), I’ve realized that there are going to be days when I just cannot muster up the spirit to drive to the gym and sweat for 40 minutes or pay $20 to take a butt-kicking class. I get really lazy.

Today was one of those lazy days. I didn’t even get out of my PJs until 2:30pm—and that was only because I HAD to leave the house. I don’t even think a house-fire could have gotten me back out in the rain and in my car, especially to go to the gym. Just plain lazy.

I have decided, though, that my Saturday and Sunday laziness doesn’t have to mean that I throw my whole routine out the window—I just need to modify it a tad.

Netflix has a few workout videos streaming and I’ve tried out a couple. There is only one that I really think is worth my time and effort. “Crunch: Super SlimDown” is about 42 minutes (most others on Netflix are around 15-20 minutes, which I don’t think is enough to truly make up for not going to the gym) and really does give you a well-rounded, sweaty workout. The workout is based around pilates and yoga and requires a large area and a mat. I’ve done the workout a few times now and each time I’m sore the next day, which is always a great feeling. I started this time with some jumping-jacks, just to get the heart-rate going before the real workout started. It’s a bit tough and probably not for someone who’s never done pilates or yoga—it has some of the more complex moves—but if you’re in a mode where getting out of your pjs isn’t going to happen, this is a great option. I definitely recommend it.

And, hey, I won’t lie…it took some mental convincing to even get me to put on the video and move furniture and get my yoga mat, but I did it and that’s all that matters.

I’m proud of myself that even though  I was super lazy and felt completely unmotivated today, I still managed to get off my butt and move my body!

Now, if only someone would pry this beer out of my hand.  Oh well.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Saying "No" to McDonalds

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest challenges in with this whole “eating right” thing is having to work while doing it. Of course, I should be able to brown bag lunch everyday and assume that the problem is solved. Not at my job.

I’ll paint you a picture of a typical day. 

I come in at 8am and grab my coffee with Spelnda (I’m not a fan of the fake stuff, but we don’t have any real sugar here). At about 9 or 10 my boss—size 2, blonde bombshell—asks if anyone is hungry. This roughly translates to, “I want a Sausage McMuffin and hashbrown, but I can’t be the only one eating Mcdonalds, so I’ll buy you all breakfast to alleviate my guilt.”  Then, the rest of the day no one eats again.

OR, I come in at 8am, have my coffee. No one eats anything, then, at about noon, the boss asks “How about Chinese Food?!” or “How about pizza?!” or “How about burritos?!”
Now, don’t get me wrong, these free lunches are awesome! Who doesn’t want their boss to offer to buy lunch or breakfast daily? My problem is the health factor and self control in this scenario. I WANT to say yes, but recently I have had to force myself to say no and find something else to eat. 

Brown bagging has been working so far, but this morning the inevitable “Do you want anything from McDonalds?” happened. I immediately said “no.” but then, just to make sure that was my final answer, I went to the McDonalds website and looked at all the deliciousness they have to offer. I held strong and stuck with my original “no,” but realized that this is going to be an ongoing struggle. Eating healthy isn’t just about eating the right things, its about WANTING to eat the right things. It’s all very physiological and requires a lot of self-control (which I've never been very good at--ask the 13 Del Taco chicken soft tacos I had one day in college). 

I think the best way for me to keep this whole thing up is to continue to brown bag my lunch and snacks and keep things interesting. I can’t bring the same thing everyday, because it will only get boring and I’ll be even more tempted to get a Grande Burrito with extra sour cream. (Mmm…)  

Anyway, I have to be happy with my bananas, blueberries, cheerios, whole-wheat wraps and green tea. I have to make things that actually taste good, not just are good. So that’s the plan. Come up some tasty treats that are low-cal, high-protein and, most importantly, delicious. If I come up with anything super-crazy-awesome, I’ll be sure to let you know. 

Ok, now back to my tomato soup and fruit salad. Happy Friday, ya’ll.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

So, this is blogging?

I've been wanting to "Blog" since before it was popular (even back to the Prodigy days). I've even thought about how to make a living off of it (to no avail, obviously). Well, I've finally thought of something that might be worth blogging about. Here goes nothing.

Steps to My First Blog:

Step 1: Announce Oneself.
Hello, My name is Taren. I live in the bay area. I was an English Lit Major at UCLA. I work full time and drink good beer.

Step 2: Explain why you decided to start a blog.
About 2 months ago, my boyfriend and I decided we were going to attend the Taste Awards in Hollywood. The TV show that he co-hosted was nominated for a Tasty, so why not dress up and walk the red carpet. I tried on the nicest dress that I have--perfect for the red carpet--and it didn't quite zip up. 


Understanding that I HAD to fit into that dress, I tried to eat as healthy as I could during the holidays--but we all know how that goes, so 2 weeks before the event, I buck up, eating only healthy, low-cal, low-carb foods, drink TONS of water, less beer (sad face) and do some form of exercise everyday. 

As it turned out, being the female that I am, I decided against wearing the dress after all--BUT I did get it to zip up. Count it. 

After this 2 week health stint, I realized that I no longer despised the gym and I started saying "no" to free Chinese food and McDonalds at work. After getting over the initial, "I JUST CHOSE SALAD OVER KUNG PAO CHICKEN?!" exasperation, I realized that I actually enjoyed those 2 healthy weeks and felt really good.

So, why not continue the process and fit myself into a dress that is even smaller?

Step 3: Explain what the blog will be.
I have no idea. I think I'll start with stories about my workout classes, healthy meals and snacks.. (I promise it won't be as boring as that just sounded) and see where it goes. (If it's anything like my secret twitter account, this won't last longer than 2 weeks.. but who knows?) 

Basically, I hate the gym and I hate sweating, I LOVE mac n' cheese and pizza and cupcakes and steak and potatoes (the list could go on for a while, so I'll stop here), BUT, I also love fitting into my old clothes. So, I'm hoping that my new-found motivation will stick and that I will be able to share with you my progress and successes.

Step 4: Thank everyone for reading and beg them to keep reading.
See above.

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