Previous month:
June 2011
Next month:
August 2011

July 2011

Spare the bun, save the fries


We don't need no stinkin' buns!

We don't live anywhere near an In-n-Out, so when we happen to be near one, that's the first place we go when the first available mealtime beckons -- except, perhaps breakfast time.

If you're not familiar with the legendary burger chain, they make burgers, fries and shakes -- that's it. So when we go once every other year, I order the same thing -- hamburger "protein style" (no bun), fries and a diet soda.

I relinquish the bread so that I can eat the fries -- it's all about compromise (hear that, Washington?)

Even with all that bread relinquishing, the whole meal is still close to 700 calories -- the burger's 250ish and the fries are around 400 (good thing I didn't spring for the shake!). But hey, that's what the gym is for. We make sure to bust our butts for an hour every morning to help offset the restaurant food.

Innoutnutrition In California, it's easy to discern the calories because, depending on the restaurant, it's either right up on the menu or available in a nutrition brochure.

It makes eating healthier much more simple -- there's no guessing, no fumbling for a phone app, no memory jogging. It let my kid know that his chocolate chip cookie had more calories than my entire strawberry-chicken salad at Panera Bread.

Is an In-n-Out Nutrition Facts brochure a ridiculous oxymoron? To some people it may seem so, but to me it's a clear roadmap to let me know that anything can fit in a healthy eating plan as long as you know the score.

Motivation Monday: Extreme moderation!

I had been making myself nutty the past few months year trying to string together a couple weeks of consistent weight loss. Then, a couple weeks ago, the Weight Loss Shrink and I came up with a plan for me to weigh in every morning, to stay accountable to myself and see how what I ate and how I moved the day before would reflect on the scale the next morning.

For example:

  • Salmon & veggies and a Shaun T Rockin' Body workout: Good.
  • No exercise, pizza, ribs, chicken sausage and teriyaki chicken wings for dinner: Bad. (Suffice to say, I'm bringing my own food to Sunday extended family dinner from now on.)

That's kinda obvious, isn't it? While in the past I would have skittered past the scale this morning, I said to myself "That's not how we're doing it now." And I weighed.

But! (and it's a smaller butt...)

I have lost 4 pounds in the past couple weeks. Even though the scale went up a pound this morning, I know exactly why, and that momentary blip will work its way off today.

That's why I love weighing in every day -- it gives me immediate feedback, feeds my ADD-addled psyche.

And that's really the only thing different I've been doing the past few weeks. Keeping my calories around 1,500-ish, working out at least four days a week and writing everything down in my fitbook (want one?).

I haven't been following any special plan, haven't been doing any special workout "system" -- just walking the walk.

  Extreme moderation! Rocknroll

My headspace feels much lighter, too. I now know I can drop weight doing what I'm doing; I just need to check in with myself every morning.

Dancing I also learned -- thanks to my BodyMedia FIT -- that dancing and dance-related workouts give you the most bang for my workout buck. The BodyMedia Activity Manager not only shows you how many calories you've burned and how many steps you've taken, it also shows whether your activity was moderate or vigorous. Most of the workouts I do log as moderate but the Rockin' Body DVD was a whole lot of vigorous as was my moment of dancing to Cee Lo Green in the office on Friday. Also vigorous? Running up a pedestrian ramp at a Marlins game.

So, unlike anything I've done lately, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. It's easy, enjoyable and -- waddya know! -- effective.

My question to you (with a prize)

10minbelly How often do you weigh yourself? Two random commenters will win a copy of the DVD 10 Minute Solution Best Belly Blasters! Very cool, because it's so new it hasn't been officially released yet. There are six separate 10-minute ab workouts featuring Jessica Smith, Lara Hudson, Amy Bento, Jennifer Galardi and Suzanne Bowen.

You have until Monday, Aug. 8 to get your comments in.




Get fit(book) Friday: Filch a fantastic fitbook for free!

FitbookPINK So guess what? Angela Manzanares, the mastermind behind the fitbook, my favorite weight-loss journal, just up and gave me two copies of the limited-edition fitbook PINK, which benefits breast cancer. They won't even be available again until October but you can score one from me.

I'm constantly trying out various ways of journaling food and exercise and I keep coming back to the Fitbook. It provides places to plan out your day, your week, even the entire 12-week book if you like to think big picture.

It's a spiral-bound 5.5 by 5.5 inch size and comes with a little pen that slides into the spiral spine, so it's perfect to tote around the house, take to work or stash in your bag so you can keep track of your dinner out.

Every day there are places to write down your strength, cardio or flexibility workouts, jot down notes and keep a food log with plenty of space for calorie and/or nutrient tracking.

At the end of each week you have a Weekly Wrap Up, where you check off whether you did your workout, your inspirations, and the good and not-so-good parts of your week. At the beginning of the next week, you can preplan your workouts and write down your weight, body fat percentage and your goals for working out and nutrition. There's even a place to jot down a reward you're planning should you meet those goals.

I've been using it (again) faithfully for the past two weeks and I'm already down an amazing (for me) 4 pounds. I used to think that I had to be accountable to others for weight-loss success -- turns out just being truthful and accountable to myself every day can work wonders.

Now, how can you win a fitbook? Just these three things:

  1. Tell me in the comments section what you use now to track your workouts/food and why it works for you and your current 12-week goal that you’d like to track using the fitbook if you win. [1 entry]
  2. Follow Shrinking Sisters on Facebook and me on twitter [1 entry]
  3. Follow fitbook on Twitter & Facebook  [1 entry]

You have until 11:59 p.m. ET, Friday, Aug. 5, to enter the fabulous fitbook fiesta. After that I'll choose the winner, get your info and a brand new fitbook will be winging its way to you.

Why, this makes me want to dance -- everybody dance!

(Yeah, the video is ridiculously over the top, but I love Cee Lo)

Wordy Wednesday: Scale junkie

(This was supposed to be a Motivation Monday post but I got too busy to write, so I decided to write Tuesday night, and now it's officially Wednesday, so here ya go!)

Scale ladyClip-art lady is thrilled! to step on the scale.

I lost 1.5 pounds this past week.


And y'know what kept me on the straight and narrow? Stepping on the scale every morning.

I know, I know. Frequent weighing is controversial. I've heard the reasons why you shouldn't:

  • Weight fluctuates from day to day depending on hormones (and doughnuts).
  • You'll make yourself neurotic stepping on the scale every day.
  • Don't gauge your self worth on a number.

Then again, many people on the National Weight Control Registry who have successfully maintained their weight report that they weigh themselves daily.

I was weighing myself once a week and it was fraught with neuroticism. First thing in the morning or after the bathroom? Same clothes every time or naked? Drink a cup of coffee, piss out the coffee and excess water and then weigh?

You get the drift.

So last Monday, the Weight Shrink suggested that I step on the scale first thing every morning to check in with myself. I was skeptical but I did it anyway, jotting down the number in the Notes section of my Fitbook.

And frankly, I don't think hormones had anything to do with the number. I found that when I exercised and kept my calories under control, the scale would tick down a bit. If I ate out the night before, the scale would tick up a bit. And when the scale did go up, it didn't discourage me. Instead, it made me work that much harder to get the scale to go the other way.

And I lost weight -- first time in a long time.

I thought that weighing myself would stress me out but instead it did the opposite -- I got immediate feedback on how I was doing on my plan.

I didn't hang up on the number -- that's all it was, a number. One that could go up or down depending on my actions the day before.

Who knew weighing yourself every day could be so freeing?

And now for that Fiber One giveaway winner

I'm about a week late announcing the winner, but it is "Mommy15" (you've been emailed).

Friday funnies: Baby Bing!

No, it's not Kate Hudson's new baby, whom she named Bingham 'Bing' Hawn Bellamy. Instead, it's a YouTube video of a baby laughing at the word "bing."

Laughingbaby Did you know that laughing burns calories? Researchers have found that 10-15 minutes of giggling can burn off the number of calories found in a medium square of chocolate.

Chocolate and laughing? How perfect is that?

So hit the replay on this one around 10 times and you'll be golden:

Black: An Internal Dialogue Theater special production on Twitter

Black coffee

8 a.m.: I'm in my office working, staring at a big, steaming mug of coffee. It's black. I look for help on Twitter.

@its_gail: I'm staring at a big mug of black coffee, trying to see if I can drink "naked coffee."

Anda from Leaving Fatville chimes in with support.

@leavingfatville: It's easier than you think. 4 big sips.

@its_gail: Here we go! {Slurp...}

@leavingfatville: YOU CAN DO IT!

@its_gail: It's actually really good. Starbucks Cafe Verona. Very chocolatey.

@its_gail: That's a good one to start black coffee with, it's easy to find the flavor in it.

So I drank it, black and unadorned. And it was good, even better than my attempts at lowering the calorie count by using almond milk. That was OK but kinda thin, although it makes a good latte.

The almond milk in the coffee was a wishy-washy compromise, and since one of my "food rules" is to only eat what I love, I wasn't loving my coffee.

The Big Baby voice in my head suggested we take baby steps and stir in some sugar as a step down. Big Baby likes to take baby steps.

But I took big girl steps and drank it black.

Turns out you can really catch the nuances in the coffee that way. The Cafe Verona is strong but has sweet and chocolate flavors. Other coffees describe themselves as smoky, floral or toasty. I'm looking forward to exploring those, for next to zero calories.

I've gotta make more big girl steps if I'm going to get anywhere.

My most 'go-to' dinner of them all

We've already checked out my go-to breakfasts and lunches so now it's time for dinner.

I don't really have all that many tricks up my sleeve for dinner because often it's something super simple like a baked salmon fillet or chicken breast, frozen broccoli and a baked potato. (And -- shhhh, don't tell Martha Stewart -- sometimes it's salad and a frozen pizza, but something healthy like Kashi or Amy's.)

But every now and then I like to stir up a batch of chili -- yes, even in summer.

I've been tweaking my go-to recipe for years, subbing out proteins, beans and spices. My latest tweak is because of the BlogHer Knorr Four Recipe Contest. I'm one of 200 bloggers vying to become one of the Knorr Four – a panel of bloggers who will share insights and expertise to provide tips and recipes.

Knorr_stock My entree is Confetti Chicken Chili -- "Confetti" because it's really colorful with the variety of peppers, onions and beans. It uses Knorr's new Homestyle Concentrated Chicken Stock, which comes in a four-pack of little tubs, and each tub makes 4 cups of stock.

The recipe makes 6 servings so it's great for a couple nights of dinners. Either enjoy it as is or dish it over brown rice, quinoa or a baked potato. If you're not a fan of black beans, try white ones, or pintos. (The photo below used white kidney beans.)

Confetti Chicken Chili

  • Gail_chili 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tub Knorr Homestyle Concentrated Chicken Stock

Heat olive oil in extra-large skillet or dutch oven. Add onions, peppers and garlic and cook until translucent. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add rest of ingredients, cover and cook on medium-low heat for 45 minutes.

(If making recipe in slow cooker, add all ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours. It'll be a little soupier but it's great over rice.)

Each serving is around 375 calories each with a bountiful 12 grams of fiber per serving.

Fiber One contest deadline today

You only have a couple hours left to enter my Fiber One giveaway, so if you're interested, get crackin' over HERE.

Motivation Monday: How bad do you want it?

Had a great discussion with the Diet Shrink today. I told her I was feeling "weight loss fatigue" -- tiring of the weighing, measuring, teeth gritting and exercising, especially when the scale hasn't been registering anything.

Her question for me: Why is getting to 150 pounds so important?

I really didn't have a great answer. "It would be nice" is a useless response.

The discussion stemmed from this  morning, when I stepped on the scale and saw the same number. I thought to myself, "How bad do you want it?"

I let that question roll around in my head for awhile. (And yes, the Don Henley song always spring to mind.)

FriedPickles"Apparently, not as badly as I wanted that order of fried pickles at the Marlins game Saturday."

I likened my desire to lose weight to the old dilemma of "Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now." The pickles are a short-term thrill -- all salty and crispy and freakin' delicious. Losing all the weight I want to lose is way down the road, but I'm guessing that thrill will be much more long lasting than a cardboard dish of crinkle-cut crack.

Mister-right-now It's not who I am in other parts of my life. I chose Mr. Right and tomorrow we'll be married 19 years -- there was never a "Mr. Right Now."

I research dishwashers and computers out the wazoo before I make a purchase. I read food labels, buy my gas from "ethical" oil companies, drink Fair Trade coffee ...

So why am I so slutty with my food choices?

OK, I exaggerate. Nine times out of 10 I make excellent food choices. But put me in front of a pile of tortilla chips or chocolate chip cookies (or fried pickles) and I'm like a drug addict.

Turns out that comparison is pretty accurate, the Diet Shrink says. The high you get from eating fatty goodies may be related to the one you might feel if you smoked pot.

A recent UC Irvine study looked at endocannabinoids, marijuana-like substances that can stimulate the brain's reward system. Researchers found that fat appears to activate the chemicals, just like marijuana.

This is why I chose the psychologist I'm seeing -- she deals with addiction issues, which typically are drugs and alcohol. But I'm treating my weight loss as a food addiction, and food addiction is increasingly being recognized as having the same properties.

OK, let's steer this ship back to the main headline.

I asked her, "How do I make the desire to lose weight greater than the desire to hoover up a plate of fried pickles?"

It's tough, she said, but I have to ask myself, every time I want to consume any food, "Will this help or hinder my goal to get to 150 pounds?"

Every morsel, every time.

We did find a silver lining on the scale thing: In the past year, I haven't gained any weight. I've stayed exactly the same, and still 25 pounds down from the all-time high.

So ... yay.

No time like the present to start the downward motion.

I do have a short-term goal that may take the place of deep-fried pickles: the until-now elusive pre-baby weight, only 5 pounds away. I would like to be there by BlogHer '11, which is the first week of August. And every day until then I will remind myself why getting to 150 is so damn important.

150 is Mr. Right; 235 is Mr. Right Now.