Archive for the ‘food’ Category

The Skinny on Fat-Free

Did you ever notice that things that are full of fat taste so good?

What happens when you take out the fat? It doesn’t taste as good.

From a manufacturing perspective, this means fewer people will buy it and less profit will be made. (Don’t be fooled — they don’t actually care what it does to you as long as you buy it.)

So when they take out the fat, they often replace it with sugar.

Make sure you are reading your labels. Most of the time, it’s better to just go with the full-fat version and eat a moderate portion. Or substitute the entire food. Just going with low fat/no fat isn’t going to get you where you need to go.

Look at this package:

Is that healthy? It says right on the front that it’s a low-fat candy! Low fat = good, right??

OK, you might not be duped by something so obvious, but really — compare labels. Take the regular version and the altered version. Compare the nutrition charts. Compare the ingredients lists. Make educated decisions. Don’t make your decision based on the front of the package.

Confession Time

It’s Wednesday! Nichol is with us

I hate running. I’ve said this a million times but I’m going to own it now. I HATE running. It makes me miserable and no matter what, I can’t seem to obtain the runner’s high that dumb runners go on and on about.

That has put me in a bit of a pickle. I really want to successfully run a full 5K, because I enjoy 5K events and would like to keep doing them. I would also like to finish Couch to 5K because I have started it over and over but I’ve never finished it and I find that unacceptable.

You know what I think part of the reason is? I hate running when it’s even slightly warm out. I enjoyed running jogging/walking when it’s cold. Because jogging/walking makes me warm.

But even when it’s cold, running sucks and I hate it.

You know what I love? Strength training. Yoga. Swimming. Biking (real and stationary). Walking (long and short distances). There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

I am over halfway to the end of the year and I think I’ve earned the right to do what I want. *stomps feet to bedroom, slams door*

I started P90X on Saturday and I am loving it (so far). The guy annoys me to death, but I feel exhausted and amazing at the end of every workout (so far). I feel the same way after working out with Heather. And after biking an hour. And after walking two miles.

Here’s my new plan (which doesn’t include abandoning mile a day):
1. Finish P90X
2. Finish mile a day in whichever way I see fit (yes, I am still doing at least one mile everyday that I do P90X)
3. Keep eating healthy-ish
4. Finish C25K before the year is up (probably restart after P90X, or maybe start on P90X rest days. . . Or maybe not)
5. Keep doing social circuit
6. Quit beating myself up when I’m lazy and choose to walk a mile at the mall.
7. Quit putting parameters and rules in place. (Anyone else feel like I need a book to keep track of this stuff?)

On a side note, have a happy and safe fourth of July. I will be eating ribeye and mashed potatoes and pie with my family and not giving one care about the starchy ridiculousness. And neither should you. We’ve earned a day.

Foods You Thought Were Healthy

A link passed through my Facebook feed the other day: 50 Seemingly Healthy Foods that are Bad for You. Besides my annoyance that it was a 51-slide slideshow (how many clicks…), I was annoyed at some of the items on the list: energy drinks? Gummy fruit snacks? Really? And granola, while something that actually should have been on the list, was on there in three different forms (granola, granola bars, parfait).

But this post isn’t about whether or not those 50 (or 48) things should have been in the too-many-clicks slideshow.

Here is a quick summary of things that aren’t good for you, despite their shiny labels:

Low fat/fat free/low calorie/”light” foods: When they take out the fat or calories, they put something else in it to make it tasty. Generally, the replacements are worse than the fat was to begin with. Either take a small portion of the full-fat version, or skip it altogether.

Foods that can be cooked in their container: Most of these foods are TV dinner-type foods, which tend to be unbalanced (how many green veggies?) and full of sodium. Even the ones that are healthier (and others that aren’t in mini cafeteria trays) are still in containers that leech chemicals into the food. Sure, they’re convenient, but at what cost?

Any “health food” that has candy added to it: trail mix, granola, yogurt, etc. A handful of nuts and no-sugar-added dried fruit is a healthy snack. Add M&Ms and coat the peanuts in chocolate? Not so healthy.

Any “health food” that is flavored: milk, non-dairy milks, and yogurts are the most common. You’re much better off buying plain and adding your own fruit or other flavoring. The pre-flavored varieties are loaded with sugar.

Chips: doesn’t matter what they’re made from or if they’re baked or fried. Some are healthier than others, but none are health food.

Anything fried: you’d think this goes without saying. Fish is healthy (generally). Fried fish is not.

“Special diet” processed foods: gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc., etc. Food is not inherently healthy just because a particular ingredient is missing.

Canned food: besides the chemicals in the lining of the cans, most canned food has either too much salt or sugar in it. Opt for frozen instead, if you have the option.

Sports drinks: you need to exercise at a high intensity for a long time before you need to start to worry about your electrolytes.

Organic junk food: just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Produce, meats, dairy? Yes. Cookies, cakes, candy? No.

Protein bars and shakes: most of them have a lot of sugar. And if you’re eating a remotely typical American diet, you’re getting more than enough protein.

What foods were you surprised to learn (today or ever) are not as good for you as you thought?

I’m Back!

Wednesday + Nichol = blog post!

I’m back. Physically. Mentally, I am very much still on vacation.

I’m feel okay with how my healthy lifestyle fared in vacation. I ate things that I don’t ordinarily eat, but it was definitely in moderation. I ate French fries, and dipped them in ranch dressing. I ate a burger. But the most sinful thing I had? Chicken parmesan. My favorite Italian food meal and a ridiculous load of cheese and sauce and pasta and. . . my mouth is watering.

As for my mile, I got it in everyday. We walked a lot on vacation, as my family invariably does. I definitely got in more than my fair share of miles last week.

I don’t have any amazing updates or new parameters I’ve set on myself. Right now, it’s really more about making sure I get back into eating and miles ASAP. I don’t want any leftover vacation eating sneaking up on me.

Vacation time!

It’s Wednesday. That means Nichol has some stuff to say.

Wasn’t my last post sweet? I was in an unpleasant mood and I had nothing nice to say. You can probably figure out where I’m going with this.

So by this time next week, I will be in Pennsylvania, probably in a rental car with my siblings. Getting yelled at by my parents because we are adults and should know better than to yell and scream while they are trying to concentrate on the road.

I did some lazy walking stuff up until Friday, but I’ve been sucking it up this week and trying to go hard because of vacation. I will try to run or bike in addition to the miles of walking my family seems to do when we go out of town, but I know that won’t always be possible.

I have also made a promise to still be very mindful of my eating. I went to Black Angus on Saturday for my Gram’s birthday and went crazy on the bread. Man, is bread freaking delicious or what?

It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks, but I’m so close to the 50% mark. I have been having more “what a dumb idea” days than “I’m a healthy genius” days so I’m also using my mindfulness to remember what I’m trying to accomplish.

Last year, despite my healthy life style change, it was so easy to fall off the exercise bandwagon. After these 366 (Leap year!) days are done, my greatest hope is that I have developed a habit. I’m going to be so used to working out, I’ll feel weird if I don’t. I can already tell you that it won’t be daily. And I’ll probably take the first couple days of 2013 off, but I hope that I’ll never go more than two days without some form of exercise.

And so friends, I am off to do something. Probably clean my room and try to start packing my suitcase. Don’t be too sad that I’m gone, just picture me photo bombing my sisters in the solemnity of the Gettysburg battle field.

Laziness does pay off!

Stop! Nichol time! That means it’s Wednesday and Nichol wrote this blog post.


The pounds flew off my body this week. I’m talking like a 5 to 6 pound drop in about 9 days. It was really bizarre and I could not figure out where it had come from. I was still doing good and bad miles and I was eating the same amount of calories. I was even worse this last week because I drank two beers last Friday, two beers on the following Thursday, and whatever beers I had in my fridge on (most of) the other days…

So um… I like beer. But more on that later.

I figured it out right around 5:30 am Saturday morning. Allow me to tell you a story.

So it’s no secret that I am not in the money. I am in fact quite the opposite. I am out of the money. My grocery budget is lucky to be as much as it is (I try really hard for $30 a week, but that’s pretty unreasonable, so it’s usually more like $50).

I was writing down my list on Saturday morning and took a look at the food I have on hand. Fruits, veggies (fresh and frozen), chicken (thank you Frys for already rotisserie-ated chickens), wholly salsa, cheese, couscous, greek yogurt, tortilla chips, and some other stuff. I realized that there were things missing that always used to be staples. Potatoes, breads, rice, et al.

Then I looked over my meal documentation for the last week and a half. My food was so basic. Cut up chicken with some pesto and muenster. Greek yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and agave nectar. Tortilla chips (can’t give them up) with wholly salsa, wholly guacamole, black beans, and shredded cheese. Asparagus with marinara. It’s pretty basic. And I haven’t had to cook.

Then I thought about Thursday. I went out with a friend, had some food and a couple of drinks. I ordered a salmon BLT with grilled veggies. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but I took the bread off the sandwich and just ate the salmon and bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

I realized how simply I was eating, making sure I got all my calories for the day and I had eliminated, totally without thinking about it, all the crappy stuff that I now was only eating in moderation. I do still have a package of udon noodles and angel hair pasta in the pantry, but they may just live there forever. Well, except for the udon, I have some green onion and hoisin sauce that are calling udon’s name…

I am going to keep testing this theory and add it to my eating habits, along with mindful eating and no food within two hours of bedtime. (Almost broke that rule on Thursday, but I couldn’t sleep once I was in bed, so I think I’m doing OK.)

I do know that there are some things that I shouldn’t eat that I will, on occasion. Microwaveable Kraft Mac and Cheese. Ramen. Doritos (only the cheesy). Shock Top. Blue Moon. Coors Light. Vodka and Cranberry. But the better I eat, coupled with continuing my workout, these things won’t have as much of an impact. Which is good because I really do like beer (see above).

Wow… How depressing

Wednesday in Spanish is el dia de Nichol.

I have been feeling so sucky. Not in a sick way, but in a life sucks and people suck and being broke sucks and I’m sucky and fat.

Now, if you have been following along with me, or if you know me personally, I don’t really believe life sucks (usually), or that people suck (most of them don’t suck), can’t argue with being broke, and I definitely don’t think I’m sucky, and I don’t call myself fat. I call myself “fat in transition.”

But the past week I have been struggling like crazy. Crying in front of people who are not my sisters. Crying in front of people who generally only see me cry once in every six months. I’m just bummed.

It’s a whole mess of things that if I listed here, would exceed the blog’s limit for infinity. I know it’s just a blip, I’ve been here before but this has been a little harder to get out of. I think because it’s more than how I look that’s bringing me down. It’s my job. It’s my lack of money. It’s exhaustion.

On Saturday, I had a really scary moment and I could see myself tiptoeing back to the mouth of the rabbit hole. When I say it like that, it sounds like I’m about to start shooting up again. But that’s what it feels like. I’m referring to food. Before I started this whole process, I was addicted to fast food. I ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If it wasn’t fast food, it was Doritos, ramen, Mac and cheese… Anything. It just made things better when I was eating it. And it was a freaking hard habit to kick.

I was hungry on Saturday. I went to get something to eat. I pulled into the parking lot of a plaza near my house and came to a fork in the road. Right was Filiberto’s, left was Sprouts. That was one of the hardest choices I’ve had to make in a long while. I turned left.

The other day at work, I ate pizza. Two slices. I wanted a third. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn’t pay for it and I felt guilty.

Food is my addiction. I recognize the triggers, but sometimes it is so hard to ignore that voice that’s telling me that it would be okay to have a six-piece McNugget. No harm in a Taco Bell taco.

I know that this will pass. And I always tell myself, right before I go to sleep, that tomorrow will be better. But I’m struggling this week. Probably more than I’ve struggled in the past 22 months. I know I’ve just got to keep pushing on because I have an issue with not completing something I’ve started, no matter what the cost.


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