Fitbit Feed

The yin and yang of eating on vacation, or ‘Yay me!’

Sorry for the late post today. We spent the day doing exciting things like getting me new tires (I’m  HORRIBLE at maintaining my tires), grocery shopping and celebrating the teenager’s birthday (15! How’d that happen so soon?).

But I did get on the scale this morning, gleefully, I might add, because I knew this would happen:

I nearly always lose weight on vacation. I think it has to do with lots of walking, lack of boredom, no late-night kitchen to call to me, and a laserlike focus on balancing healthy choices with little indulgences here and there.

That means if a restaurant has excellent fried calamari, we split an appetizer three ways and I order a veggie-egg white omelet. Or if we want to check out a boutique ice cream parlor we go there FOR dinner instead of AFTER dinner.

EAT ALL THE VEGETABLESI also seek out what I call “vacation vegetables.”

No, these are not tourists on lounge chairs. 

I make sure that every chance I can, I find some vegetables or fruit to cram into a meal. It's very easy to go an entire day with nary a bit of greenery when traveling. Salads, veggie-packed omelets, extra vegetables on subs, fresh fruit -- I look for them all. It greatly helps balance out the carby, meaty, saucy stuff. 

This may seem a bit food-obsessive, but what follows are some culinary stops along the way of our trip to the Pacific Northwest with my reasoning behind my choices. Maybe it'll help you find that happy balance between egg whites and ice cream.


Diy nori rolls
A DIY nori roll with edamame, sticky rice and nori sheets at Cafe Yumm in Portland. I skipped the sauce and kept it clean.

Diy nori rolls
A banh mi from a Vietnamese food cart in Portland. I got extra cilantro, which didn't add a load of veg but it's high in micronutrients, and I love the stuff.

Diy nori rolls
A few of us popped into a sushi place in Portland. I had already eaten dinner, but there's always room for a seaweed nightcap! (I kinda have a thing for seaweed.)

Loaded quiznos
Road tripping to the mountains, we stopped at a Quiznos and I loaded up a small turkey sub with every vegetable they offered.

Loaded quiznos
The cool thing about this pulled pork and slaw sandwich at the Urban Farmer restaurant in the Nines Hotel was that it was "happy hour" sized. Perfect little, toddler-sized gem of a sandwich, which I paired with a chilled white gazpacho-type soup.

Loaded quiznos
The Portland Penny Diner has a really creative selection of breakfast sandwiches. This one is the Hipster, which features egg, pepperjack cheese, tomato and hazelnut romesco sauce. The sandwiches were so good that I was pleasantly full before I could finish it, so I didn't. That's the great thing about eating real food; a little goes a long way.

Loaded quiznos
Across from Pike Place Market in Seattle, we found Tom Douglas' Rub With Love Shack, where I ordered a barbecued chicken sandwich topped with a vinegary slaw.

Loaded quiznos
Nope -- no vegetables to be found here. But I really wanted to try Portland's Salt & Straw ice cream shop, so we went there for dinner. I got a scoop of Stumptown Coffee and Burnside Bourbon, and a scoop of Sea Salt Ice Cream With Caramel Ribbon. Indulgent? Sure, but I figured we saved hundreds of calories by skipping the meal and cutting right to dessert.


Happy fitbitYes, we did more than eat our way through Washington and Oregon. We walked a lot, even getting in a 2-hour hike, which seemed like it was uphill all the way. 

The centerpiece of the trip, for me at least, was the fourth annual Fitbloggin' conference, which involved daily workouts, sometimes more than a couple. I walked, Zumbaed, danced, got my butt kicked by a Total Gym, and pounded the pavement in nearly 100-degree heat (Portland? What was up with that?).

What I'm trying to say is it's all about balance, balance, balance. The celery and the ice cream. The gin and tonics and the ice water. The doughnut samples and the 5K's. The bacon and the ... bacon. (Oh, hell, that hotel bacon was good.)

But I had two slices of bacon, not a plateful. I didn't beat myself up about anything; I made sure I logged everything in My Fitness Pal and checked my Fitbit throughout the day. 

And it all worked out splendidly.


Travel: Unplugged and plugged in

Fitbit june23
Yesterday's Fitbit dashboard is why I don't worry about backsliding on vacation. We parked our car at the bottom of a veritable mountain (when you live in the swampy suburbs of Florida, everything is hilly) and trucked it uphill to the Space Needle, over to a couple of museums, over and downhill to Pike Place and up and downhill back to the car.

The hotel's free breakfast is kind of limited, so my brekkie of choice for the next couple days will be instant oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter melted in. But really, it's yummy and filling so I'm not complaining. 

And alongside my oatmeal bowl and spoon is my phone, so I can log it all into My Fitness Pad, because even though we're vacationing, there is no vacation for the weight loss goal. 

The Fitbit and MFP app keep me aware of the calories out and in and I'm not taking a vacation from that. It's sooooooo easy to go off the rails -- I don't feel like coming back with a surprise on the scale.

I try and make sure one of my meals is a big salad, and I found a blackened chicken salad with baby spinach last night that fit the bill. I also seek out what I call "vacation vegetables," and I pilfered some steamed broccoli and carrots from the teenager's plate (he was more concerned with his order of garlic mac and cheese topped with barbecued pork but I made him eat a couple of stalks of broccoli).

Vacation Vegetables can be had to come by but I even found some at McDonald's. I got one of their McWraps for lunch -- the sweet chili chicken -- and it had a fair amount of cucumbers and assorted greenery among the grilled chicken. It was a decent size and 360 calories. The cashier asked me if I wanted it as a meal and I offhandedly said "no, I don't need the fries" and I swear the person next to me nearly had his head explode. He looked at me like I was nuts! 

But I keep in mind a little tip from Diet Free Life's Robert Ferguson: If you want fries, you skip the bun/tortilla/bready thing. If you want the bun, then no fries. And if I was jonesin' for fries I would have ordered a salad.

Simple as that.

We check out the Fitbit Zip

Fitbit zip
Cute, isn't it?

We're big fans of the Fitbit line of products here at Shrinking Sisters. Carol and I were rocking the Ultra all summer and I recently got the updated Fitbit One, which buzzes me awake every morning.

But if you're looking for something cute and compact to track your activity and want to economize, Fitbit has also introduced the Fitbit Zip, a pebble-sized clip-on activity tracker that comes in a jellybean collection of colors.

The Zip, which tracks steps, distance and calories burned, uploads wirelessly to your computer or your smartphone (Apple and Android). It also works with some fitness apps, including MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, Endomondo, and SparkPeople. (I'm a SparkPeople member and you can rack up major SparkPoints with a Fitbit.)

In addition, I'll make it easier for you to check out a Fitbit Zip with a 20 percent off coupon from Best Buy. There's also a coupon for small appliances, like juicers and blenders, for all your healthy smoothies. Check 'em out below (click on the thumbnails and a large PDF will magically appear for you to print out):

Bestbuy fitness coupon Bestbuy small kitchen coupon

You can join in the fun on Twitter -- use the #MillionSteps and #BestBuy hashtags to commune with other go-getters.

I received a Fitbit Zip from Best Buy to use in this review. All opinions are my own.

A strongly worded letter to my metabolic processes and hormones

OK, I’ll keep this brief, and I’m not really sure who (what) to address this to, so consider this a mass mailing.

Finger wagging redI am disappointed in your incredibly efficient skills at keeping my weight at 238.

Listen, that may be your “happy weight” but it sure isn't mine.

At the same time, I’m also amazed at your efficiency. Seriously, all I have to do is go to a restaurant one time and you slap 2 pounds on me? Really? I ordered the fish! I didn’t eat the rice! I drank water!

Anyway, some changes are in order. We’ll call this a Performance Improvement Plan.

  • We will be moving more. We’re doing great with exercise but we’re still not super consistent. And sometimes we go a little too easy on ourselves. Research has shown that high-intensity interval training can goose the metabolism better than steady-state exercise and we’re looking for a BIG GOOSE here.
  • We will be lifting more weight. Muscles weigh more than fat, but they’re also smaller and more metabolically active, and that’s important to our 50-year-old innards.
  • We will be tracking better. Yes, the Fitbit is a fantastic way to track activity, but until there is a similar device that computes exactly how many calories we’re sticking in our piehole, we need to either write it down in our Fitbook or use a smartphone app. If that means accounting for calories after we’re officially done for the day, then so be it. You are only fooling yourself, and your ass speaks louder than words.
  • No late-night kitchen horseplay. I have seen you in the kitchen, snooping around the pantry, the fridge and the freezer, foraging for “healthy snacks” late at night. Go ahead and grab those celery stalks but keep the peanut butter jar where it is unless you plan to write it down -- you haven’t been writing that down. And I’m giving you free reign to eat all the celery you want without having to write it down. (Counting calories or Points for celery is ridiculous.)
  • We will be eating less. Yes, you will be hungry – we have gone over this repeatedly. This is the metabolism that decades of dieting has wrought and you will be hungry all the damn time – get used to it, hormones. Yes, it will suck.

 I will be checking in with you on a weekly basis to see how you’re doing, and I hope you take this criticism the right way because I love and respect you and want you to do better. I’d also like to keep you around as long as humanly possible.



The Management


Random thoughts on a Friday

BackupI’ve been waging a war with Norton 360, making it back up the damn computer. After a week of fits and starts, the backup program finally completed correctly last night. I just can’t work with a big, red ALERT! hanging out on my screen. And that’s why I didn’t have an update on Monday.

But Monday was also the first day of school for the teenager, and with that, I scampered out the door and went for a walk/run while buses and cars clogged the streets around my house. Midweek, I Zumba-ed and yoga-ed at home, and today after I dropped off the kid and his trombone, I drove directly to the gym where I got in some bike, elliptical and weights – first time I’d been back to the gym in months. I'm planning on putting those Monday and Friday workouts on my permanent to-do list.

I’ve also been decluttering like mad. One of the daily activities in the Lighten-Up plan is to spend 10 minutes a day decluttering something. I can’t stop at 10 minutes and have been shredding, tossing and purging like the opposite of one of those people you see on Hoarders.

I was going to write an update yesterday but did a little Meals on Wheels for Carol last night. Someone who shouldn’t be driving anymore T-boned her car, sending it spinning into the scrub on the side of the road.  (Driving in South Florida is an extreme sport.) Carol’s fine, perhaps a little achy, but the car, a once-adorable Kia Soul, is a crumpled mess. She turned down the offer of my freshly made sausage and kale soup and instead wanted fast food. Usually I’d be a Debbie Downer about that, but who’s to deny someone who just had their car smashed in? Got her a Happy Meal, which is probably the best fast-food choice, since it’s a reasonable amount of food.

So while Carol is figuring out what to do with insurance and old ladies and transportation, I’ll probably be blogging solo for awhile. But she’s still using her Fitbit to log miles at work. She works at a huge private school, and this week all the kids are coming back to buy their books and supplies, so she’s getting a lot of steps and weight (books) lifting in.

Shirataki load
Imaginary pasta party at my house!
Came home from the gym this morning to find a Priority Mail box stuffed with Miracle Noodles at my front door. It was a LivingSocial deal, and now I am set for weeks with “imaginary” pasta and rice. I prefer Miracle Noodles over other brands – they don’t seem to have that “bottom of the aquarium” smell that other brands have, and they’re made in the USA … ‘murica!


Haven’t stepped on the scale all week – we’re still not on speaking terms and I have been absolutely bear-like with PMS (I think) cravings. But I have to STOP using PMS as an excuse to forage through the pick-a-nick baskets at night. But I'm heartened by my fitness activity this week, and the weekend will be a stellar example of craving control, so perhaps we'll visit the scale Monday morning.

Note to self: You are 50, not 15. What’s up with the waking up with a zit in the middle of your nose?



Throwing a hissy-fit, lost my 'bit

For nearly 2 months, my Fitbit has been a close friend... a REALLY close friend, usually clipped to my bra, or on my waistband.  I love how it motivates me to take those extra steps to get my 5,000-step badge, or to take the dog out one extra time so I can climb another flight of stairs.  My Fitbit even calls me Princess.

On Tuesday evening, I took my Fitbit off to see how many steps I had taken -- my apartment complex is being repaved and I had to park two buildings away, a golden opportunity for more steps. I wanted to see how many steps over my goal I had gone -- then tragedy struck.

I hadn't broken the 5,000 step mark on Tuesday; I went to put my Fitbit back on AND IT WAS GONE!

FitBit_thumbLost without my Fitbit ... would I ever take another step? Climb another flight of stairs? Life without it seemed pointless. Gail would win the daily step count, and my Fitbit would post sad daily postings of "0 steps taken; 0 flights of stairs climbed." Poor Carol can't get off her couch without her Fitbit.

This is the beginning of a very busy time at work for me (back-to-school in a high school office), and I'm looking forward to getting major steps on my Fitbit, if she would just come home ...

to be continued...

 Fitbit provided Gail and Carol Fitbit Ultras for the Shrinking Sisters Summer Spectacular.

I have medal envy

Shrinkingsisterssummer2012Gail and I are tracking our activity with the Fitbit, an awesome little device that you clip on yourself that monitors your activities (steps, stairs, calories burned) and even your quality of sleep. 

What it also does is motivate you by awarding medals.  You get a medal for every 5,000 steps you take and every 10 flights of stairs you climb.  You can also "friend" other Fitbit users, which I have done with my sister.

Fitbit medalSunday, Gail was awarded a medal for traveling 50 miles in steps, which made me jealous. It made me regret the two days that I went without wearing my Fitbit, which allowed her to pull ahead in the total step tally.

That's a great motivating tool for me -- I've become highly competitive.  

So far today, I've been awarded my 5,000 step medal.

Oh, and I also discovered a new fave food -- green mango with vinegar and salt. Have you ever had a slightly unripe banana? It's like that but the vinegar cuts the astringent quality making it slightly sweet with a hint of mango.

Fitbit provided Gail and Carol Fitbit Ultras for the Shrinking Sisters Summer Spectacular.

Fun with Fitbit

Gail and I received Fitbits last week.  She received the blue one and I, of course, got the pink one ... and the race is on.

Shrinkingsisterssummer2012What I am loving about this little clip are many things.  I am "competing" with Gail on my fitbit dashboard, wanting to best her total steps, and today, for instance, showing her up with my first "stairs" badge, climbing 10 flights of stairs. 

This little gem even lets me know my quality of sleep -- the first night I learned that I was "awakened" 8 times during the night (I knew of one time), and that I'm averaging 93 percent sleep effectiveness.

Fitbit wirelessly sends data to the site when I just walk past my computer... Pretty neat.  

You can even request to follow me on Facebook with your fitbit.  You can watch my progress and keep me accountable.

When I came home from work today and saw that I was just 300 steps shy of my 5,000 badge level, I went out and kicked it up... had to score that badge...

Follow along with me and my fitbit.

Fitbit provided Gail and Carol Fitbit Ultras for the Shrinking Sisters Summer Spectacular.

Friday update: Tale from the scale and a Fitbit of news

Shrinkingsisterssummer2012It's my first official weigh-in for our Summer Spectacular, and despite not working out much, I still got rid of a pound. (I don't lose pounds because I'm good at finding things.)

And since my Weight Shrink told me I should be completely accountable in my updates, I'll be posting my actual weight every week. This week it's:


Which is great, because a few weeks ago it was over 240.

Basketball snack
My NBA Finals snack last night.

Food: Really loving the five-day-a-week Nutrisystem plan. It's so much easier to stay on a plan when you know you can go "not on" on the weekends. (I'm not going off because that just sounds too reckless.) I've been loading up on vegetables to supplement the food, and my SmartCarbs have mostly been fresh fruit instead of starchy, bready things. I also checked out another healthy option at the Marlins game last weekend -- the black bean veggie burger, which was pretty good. At the old ballpark, the veggie burgers came out of a freezer and they tasted like an old freezer. These veggie burgers are made on-site and they're really nice. I also packed a South Beach Diet 100-calorie bar, which kinda melted in my bag since the AC wasn't working too well in our section of the stadium.

Gail treadmill
Me on the treadmill yesterday, feeling strong.

Fitness: I'll spare you the frustrating details, but I just got back from having my knee checked out by the sports medicine pros at Cleveland Clinic Florida -- because I'm an athlete! A weight-loss athlete! (thanks, Pete Cohen for that phrase). I went to after-hours care last week after I felt a bit of popping in my knee, after getting up on a stool. It had been feeling much better after resting it a couple of days so I thought it was back to normal. The doctor, an internist, basically made sure I didn't blow out anything and said I had a strain.


After resting it for a weekend, I walked for an hour on Monday and Tuesday it was sore again.

This is unacceptable! I have some butt kicking to do!

Hence, the doctor appointment. I need to get back to working out regularly because while abs are made in the kitchen, endorphins are made with exercise.

Today, I had a slew of X-rays and the doctor came back and said "arthritis." Boo! But he did give me a bunch of exercises to do and said I could do whatever exercise I could bear. So hello, Aleve!

I did join my sister at her apartment gym for a little workout yesterday -- I wanted to see what worked and what didn't. The elliptical didn't feel good (go figure!) but the treadmill did. And the hamstring/quad machine felt great.

Fitbit joins the team

Fitbit button150Carol and I will be using the Fitbit to track our progress. The company sent us two Fitbit Ultras (I got blue; Carol got pink) to use for our Summer Spectacular. I have tried pretty much every fitness tracker on the planet, and what I love about this one is how unobtrusive it is (I'm wearing it right now and you can't even see it!). It's also very easy to use, the online interface is great (and FREE) and it even has a sense of humor. I picked up the Fitbit after I had taken a shower yesterday and it greeted me with a "HOWDY" on the electronic display.

We'll be getting into more about the Fitbit in future updates.

Fitbit provided Gail and Carol Fitbit Ultras for the Shrinking Sisters Summer Spectacular.