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July 2011

Stop and Swap: You're the cream in my coffee (for now)

Looking for ways to shave calories of my day, I've targeted my morning mug of coffee. I've been alternating between Organic Valley half and half and its new organic soy creamer. But the mug is huge and one serving of either often doesn't cut it. So the calorie count can creep as high as 50 or 60 calories. It doesn't sound like much, but I'm looking for easy corners to cut.

Cream and almond milkSo I thought I'd do one of my Stop and Swap moves by comparing 30 calories of half and half with 30 calories of almond milk, which makes a great latte.

  You can see the results at right: Yikes!

You can get a lot more with the almond milk than with the half and half. True, it isn't as creamy, but it's pretty darn good, and as my ALL-TIME FAVORITE DIET BLOG POST from The Skinny Daily Post says :

While you’re losing weight, try not to get caught up in the idea of what you’re giving up. You’re not giving up anything but the calories you don’t need right this minute. It’s not a big deal. Not right now.

So, while I'm losing weight, I'll substitute some yummy almond milk for my creamer. Heck, maybe I'll even splurge on vanilla almond milk for a few calories more.

And in the meantime, someone needs to come up with an almond-milk based coffee creamer. We have cow, soy, even coconut -- how 'bout almond?

In other news...

Carol has rejoined Laura in the Nutrisystem Nation, and you can read about their exploits at Shrinking Sisters Reviews. Carol has lost more than 20 pounds on Nutrisystem and Laura's almost at that level, too. Huzzah!

How is my gut like a cell phone battery?

Cartoon cellphone copy copy
(Behold, my insane Photoshop stylings!)

This week with the Diet Shrink, I was discussing getting back in touch with my hunger cues. What does hungry feel like, and is it necessarily bad to feel hunger? Do we need to feed the beast every time or can we just tell it to chill out and wait an hour 'til dinner? Do we have to eat within an hour of waking up? Because I can go most of the morning on a giant mug of coffee. I eat breakfast early because I've been told to by myriad diet gurus.

I mentioned that long before America's obesity crisis, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner. No mid-morning snack, no afternoon fro-yo, no post-dinner bowl of cereal. Just three squares and everyone seemed to be doing fine.

When did we start to feel the need to eat every two to three hours? What the heck are we doing all day, plowing the back 40 or sitting on our cans typing?

My one and only task this week is to wait until I feel real physical hunger -- I don't even know what that feels like. (I'd say anymore but I don't know if I ever have.)

The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to a cell phone battery. When you get a new phone, the sales person always says to let the battery run down a few times to "condition" it. It's supposed to make the battery last longer. Plug it in every night and it becomes an energy hog, slurping up the juice faster than it should.

Are our bodies like that, too?

Have we kept plugging in our chargers so often that our stomachs begin to rumble too quickly? Should we let the battery drain down a few times to condition ourselves to eat less food?

Can I relearn those ancient hunger cues of youth that I muted with sugar-free gelatin and granola bars?

Lately, there's been some buzz about trying to lengthen the time between meals and snacks. Not crazy long but more like 4 hours between meals and snacks instead of 2-3 hours. Jillian Michaels wrote this on her Facebook page some months back:

Eat 4 times a day every 4 hours to maintain your energy level, stabilize blood sugar & optimize health. This should look as follows: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner. Do NOT eat every two hours, snack often or graze throughout the day. Contrary to to popular belief, eating often does NOT "rev metabolism." It actually inhibits fat metabolism & elevates insulin levels.

Gut hormones are tricky little suckers. The mere act of cutting calories raises your ghrelin levels, which control hunger. Yes, dieting makes you hungrier all the time.

So do you learn to embrace the grumblies? As long as you're eating no less than 1,200 calories a day you're getting plenty of nutrients and calories and you cannot be starving.

There's hunger and then there's appetite. Appetite is what makes you want to eat; hunger is why you need to eat. Discovering the difference between the two is my latest experiment.

So I'll let my "battery" drain between meals and see if I can condition myself to get used to less food.

Go-to lunches, and a Fiber One giveaway

Last week, I let you in on my go-to breakfasts and today we'll talk lunch. Here are a few of my "no-brainer" meals that I love:

  • Turkey Wrap Variety Show: Take a tablespoon of your favorite hummus and spread it on a 100-calorie wrap, like a Flatout. Then layer on a couple ounces of turkey breast and a handful of baby spinach. Wrap and voila! Lunch. Replace the hummus with guacamole, add a few pickled jalapenos and you have a Mexican version. Or skip the guac or hummus and spread a Laughing Cow Light wedge on the wrap for cheesy goodness.
  • My Ninja Quiche: I came up with this one after I bought my Ninja food processor (which Consumer Reports loves, by the way). There are myriad ways to vary this dish -- use turkey or ham, lowfat Swiss, jack or Cheddar cheese, broccoli or spinach, and whatever Mrs. Dash floats your boat. There also are different varieties of Egg Beaters, so go nuts.
  • The Big Salad: I admit, I'm a lazy butt when it comes to salad fixings. Every week I buy a big clamshell container of Organicgirl baby spinach and one of romaine lettuce. That way I can just grab a bunch for an instant salad. All you need to do then is add in some protein, like tuna or the aforementioned turkey and some carby things like garbanzos. Add your favorite healthy dressing and you're done.
  • Shakeology smoothie: Believe me, I have tried to find a better-tasting, lower priced chocolate whey protein smoothie and I simply can't. Everything else comes up bland, chalky or not chocolatey enough. (Ugh, that was one week of disappointing chocolate smoothies.) My go-to Shakeology smoothie is 8 ounces of almond milk, a scoop of chocolate Shakeology, half a frozen banana, a bunch of cinnamon and crushed ice. It also gets buzzed in my Magic Bullet (perfect for single-serve smoothies) until smooth. But make sure you get some good straws. I had bought some skinny cheapos and nearly gave myself a migraine trying to suck up the frosty awesomeness.

But back to breakfast -- free cereal!

FiberOneprizepackphoto Fiber One has a new Honey Squares cereal with only 80 calories per serving. We got samples at Fitbloggin' and now I have the opportunity to give a Shrinking Sisters fan a prize pack containing a box of the cereal, a sensor pedometer with USB connector to chart your walking progress, and a neoprene MP3 holder with arm strap.

The cereal is a sweetened little corn square and makes a great breakfast or snack for when you're tight on calories.

All you need to do is tell me your go-to breakfast or lunch in the comments. I'll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, July 12 at 5 p.m. ET. That's not only my 19th wedding anniversary (I know!) but it's also the Baseball All-Star Game (how romantic!).

You can get extra chances to enter:

  • Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
  • Subscribe to Shrinking Sisters.
  • Follow Shrinking Sister Gail on Twitter.
  • Become a fan of Shrinking Sisters on Facebook.

Disclosure: Fiber One sent me a prize pack and will send an additional one for the giveaway. No other compensation was received.

Motivation Monday: Holy functional fitness, Batman!

Hey, I've been away from the blog for a bit, but we've been transforming the kid's room on the cusp of his 13th birthday.


Yep, tomorrow we'll be in possession of a teenager. And he was none too pleased that his bedroom sported alphabet wallpaper border and a giant Todd Parr rocketship Wallie. While the rocketship was cute, it was mortifying to a budding adult.

Andrews room Wednesday was wallpaper removal/painting day, Thursday was new wallpaper day, Friday was move-the-furniture back day and Saturday was hang-up-the-pictures day. We didn't do the Wednesday-Thursday stuff -- we hired professionals for that -- but the kid and I shoved the furniture back into place and hoisted drawers full of clothes back into his room. And I unleashed my inner Nate Berkus and put his pictures back up. (That's part of his room, at left. Behr Mountain Haze paint from Home Depot -- a hazy green.)

And while I thought I was getting quite the kick-azz workout with the ChaLean Extreme program I started last week, my BodyMedia FIT showed me an interesting stat: Each day, I burned more on the room stuff than I did on the workout days. A lot more.

Apparently Susie Homemaker was quite fit.

I've been trying to come up with more ways to be active during the day, especially since that recent study that showed long periods of sitting are hazardous to your health, even if you workout every day. I work from home, so my commute is from the bedroom to the kitchen to the home office. There's no parking lot schlep, no stair climbing, no down-the-street coffee runs.

I think, from now on, I'm going to mix in a little more housecleaning with my workouts during ther day. Vacuuming, kitchen floor mopping and laundry basket flinging during the day will do me some good as well as the house.

Tomorrow we'll get back to those go-to meals. Today's go-to lunch was a leftover turkey hot dog in solidarity with those meat-smooshing men and women of the Nathan's hot dog eating contest. I highly recommend Applegate Farms' uncured turkey hot dogs -- only 40 calories and no nitrates.

Zumba winners!

Gemma and Denise won the Zumba DVDs and I've sent out emails to them. But don't worry, I've got some other things up my sleeve to give away soon.