Archive for the ‘food’ Category

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.


Its Wednesday. Nichol Is about to throw down some words for you to read.

As a student of social work and an employee working within a strengths based system, I hear a lot about being mindful. Usually being in regards to myself, staying present and nonjudgmental with my client, being aware of my thoughts, feelings, and potential biases. This is admittedly very difficult.

I was using Facebook on my desktop the other day, which I rarely do, and one of the “customized” ads caught my eye. It was an advertisement for a place that teaches mindful eating. I was definitely intrigued. I like being mindful. And Lord knows I sure like to eat, so I googled mindful eating.

This is an actual practice. They have centers. And workshops. And seminars. And books. And endless websites and PDFs about how to practice mindful eating.

Mindful eating (as defined in the article Mindful Eating , by Dr. Jan Chozen Bays) is

Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body.

I decided to try some mindful eating and see what happens. There was a ton of information on how to accomplish it, but I’m too busy to sit with an apple slice in my mouth and think about my thoughts before chewing…(actual step one in one of the articles I read). So I am just taking the idea of mindful eating and make it my own.

Turns out, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I tried to remember to put my fork down between every bite, but when I’m sitting in front of my computer, TV, or current book, I don’t think about my eating. Is that irony? I just eat.

New plan is to eat with no distractions. I will eat without TV or computers or books in front of me, at least once a day. I read a lot of studies that say mindful eating allows you to feel when you really are full. I’ve only accomplished one meal without distractions. It was a measured out meal and I wasn’t able to finish it. Crazy!

It also took me a long time to eat. Wonder how my dining out companions are going to feel about that.

This weeks pic is from DAY 100!

[Heather's note: you can read more about eating mindfully here ... and click through the links in that post to see all remaining posts where I talked about some aspect of eating mindfully. Those posts are pretty old. Perhaps I should revisit...]

What Are Carbs?

I didn’t like the prompt for today, so I’m skipping it and doing my own thing!

It is distressing to me how many people have recently talked to me about cutting carbs out of their diet in a conversation that went something like this:

them: I really need to cut carbs out of my diet.

me: I’m really not on board with that, but cutting out breads, pastas, and processed carbs like that might be a good idea.

them: What else is there?

me: Fruit and many vegetables.

them: Really? Fruit? Huh. No, I meant bread and stuff like that.

So I’m taking the opportunity today to tell you that “carbs” include a lot of food that is very healthy that you should definitely eat, including fruit.

Carbs are one of the macronutrients. (Protein and fat are the other two.)

Notice how all three are “problematic” according to someone’s fad diet?

All three are essential in your diet and serve vital functions in your body. All can be found in natural, whole foods.

Unless you have a medical condition that would indicate otherwise, you don’t want a low-macronutrient diet, you want a balanced diet. But balance it with real food.

This website has a nice little graphic that might be eye-opening for anyone who is a little fuzzy on macronutrients. If you enter a food into the search box, it gives you a ton of nutrition information about that food: nutrition facts (like a label on a box), how filling it is vs. how nutritious it is, what its macronutrient composition is, nutrient balance, protein score, etc.

So for example, a hard-boiled egg, which we all know is “protein” is 3% carb, 62% fat, and 35% protein. It has high protein quality (based on how much of each amino acid it contains) but no dietary fiber.

If you want to keep track of your vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, calories, etc., etc., this might be a great resource for you. I looked up some foods that I eat often, and they’re not all in their database, but there were close comparable items. (For example, I usually boil sweet potatoes with the skin on, but boiled without skin was the only option.)

7-Year-Old on an “Aggressive Diet”

This article floated through my Facebook news feed and prompted quite a discussion.

Summary of the article:

  • Vogue magazine published an article detailing the path of an obese 7-year-old to a healthy weight
  • At 6 years old, the girl was 4’4″ and weighed 93 pounds
  • Mom didn’t begin to intervene until someone at school called the girl fat
  • Mom has severe food issues herself, including “Atkins, juice fasts, laxatives, Weight Watchers and more to stay thin” and still binges on sweets in secret
  • Mom publicly chastised the girl for her food choices at parties and the like
  • Mom denied the girl dinner if she had already eaten her allotted calories for the day
  • The girl lost 16 pounds which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s 17% of her body weight

There are so many things wrong with this (letting a 6-year-old get that fat, using your daughter for your own publicity, pasting your own issues onto your kid, public humiliation, insufficient nutrition), but the one I’m going to focus on is attaching emotion to food.

It is not inherently shameful to eat a piece of cake. But if you’ve been taught your whole life that cake is bad, you’re going to feel guilt or shame in eating it. If you’ve been taught that cake is a treat, then you’re going to “deserve” it when you do something that ought to be rewarded.

Food doesn’t have to be emotionally charged.

We are so ingrained with food as reward, or good food/bad food that most people don’t seem to realize that there are alternatives.

Of course, there is food that is “good for you,” or nourishing to your body, but that is physical, not emotional.

We are taught from before we can even talk that junk food is bad but rewarding and that healthy food is punishment.

  • You can’t have dessert (junk, reward) until you finish your dinner (healthy food, punishment).
  • If you are good, you can have a cookie.
  • You did great in the doctor’s office, so you can take a lollipop.
  • You went pee pee in the potty! Good job! Here’s an M&M!

While we don’t grow up believing that every time we pee in the toilet, we deserve candy (though perhaps it would help with some men’s aim?), most of us continue to believe that sugar is a reward. What’s the problem with that? When it’s reward, it carries extra weight (no pun intended) and is emotionally charged, and that’s where there begins to be issues.

People also attach “happy childhood” to “junk food.” You’re taking a young child out. What food do you get at any of the following: carnival, amusement park, circus, arcade, goofy golf, roller rink.

The Big Man and I have agreed (though I’m more on board than he is, I think) not to give The Kid food with added sugar until he’s at least two. So fruit is good. Cake, cookies, ice cream, etc. not so much. When I have had conversations about this with people, you’d think I told them that we were going to lock him in a dungeon and feed him only bread and water.

If he doesn’t want it or need it, he’s not deprived by not receiving it.

If we can teach him to eat healthy food first without setting up the good food/bad food dichotomy, there’s a much better chance that he’ll be more interested in healthy food when the other stuff shows up. Isn’t it easier to be disinterested than to have to employ willpower?

(He spent a good five minutes sucking on a broccoli stalk the other day.)

Well … I’m off and rambling again.

Did you read the article? What do you think (whether related to my ramblings or not)?

“Legitimately Tasty”

The more I read about sugar and all of the nasty things it does to your body, the less I am OK with eating it. So my long-term goal is to cut foods with added sugar. I’ve already cut foods with artificial sweeteners (chewing gum was the most difficult!).

When I don’t eat a lot (or any) junk food for a while, fruit is a whole lot sweeter and easily satisfies my sweet tooth. I’m slowly trying out recipes without it to see what I can make that is legitimately tasty. What is “legitimately tasty”? Let me give you an example.

When I was dairy-free for a while, I had an ice cream sandwich made from soy ice cream. It was fine, but it wasn’t an ice cream sandwich. That falls under the category “not legitimately tasty.” In other words, it was not a product I would seek out unless under special circumstances.

I also would mash frozen bananas together with pieces of pecans, or with berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries — doesn’t matter). Legitimately tasty. I have eaten this many times now. Frozen, slightly sweet, creamy (if I mash it enough), very tasty. Also an excellent way to save bananas that aren’t going to get eaten before they go bad.

This is a standard I keep for all foods that are somehow taking the place of a food that I don’t eat any more. In general, I’m not a fan of mock meats. Mock meats leave meat as the main event in an entrée, which isn’t really how we should be eating (whether we actually eat meat or not). They are rarely as good as their real-deal counterparts, though I have found a few that I find quite tasty. And they’re full of garbage ingredients. Different garbage (mostly) than what is in their meat counterparts, but garbage none-the-less.

I know a lot of people on restricted diets for a variety of reasons: veg*n, gluten-free, soy-free, casein-free, dairy-free, corn-free. Everyone wants food that they can eat that tastes good. The fewer ingredients, the better, most of the time. All ingredients recognizable tastes better most of the time. (I can’t think of an exception offhand, but I’m sure there is one somewhere…)

Of course, you don’t need to be on a restricted diet to be faced with plenty of food that is “fine” (or less). Most of the junk food that is left in the break room isn’t tasty enough to be worth the calories.

I hope that we work our way back to food that is real and healthy and away from food that is cheap and full of garbage. It won’t be quick or easy, but as more of us do it, more companies will notice.

What have you found as far as food/food substitutions and tastiness?

Video: Blood pH and Weight Gain

This is an excellent video on how your diet affects your body, and why diet soda doesn’t keep you (or make you) skinny.


Twinkies vs. Carrots: Michael Pollan

A short, simple video that gets to the root (no pun intended) of food problems in this country.



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