Superfood Swap Feed

Yoo hoo -- here I am!

As a blogger, I think there's nothing worse than the "So where have I been?" post, but where HAVE I been?

No worries -- I've been kicking ass on the work and weight front.

I just wrapped up the 10 in 4 Challenge, which is an "anti-diet" plan to get your head screwed on straight(er) about weight loss and eating healthfully. It dovetails perfectly with what I've been doing via the Superfood Swap, in that there's a big emphasis on whole, clean foods and lots of vegetables. 

10 in 4 dinner
One of the dinners on the 10 in 4 Challenge.

It's a 4-week plan, which gives you recipes, strategies, daily emails and loads of support through a Facebook group, and while I didn't hit the "10" I did lose a little over 5 pounds, which for me is great. I also picked up a few new tools for my healthy toolbox that I'll be using from now on.

I don't want to give away too much about the plan, but trainer Dave Smith has you focus on vegetables first. Hungry in the afternoon? Vegetables. Looking to beef up your dinner portions? Vegetables. Lately I had gone a little fruit crazy, but this plan has me hitting the vegetable bin first now (and if you've never made carrot fries in an air fryer, you're missing out on a great snack!).

The other two people on the support team are Jennipher Walters and Kristen Seymour of Fit Bottomed Girls -- and speaking of FBG, I've been doing a lot more work at Fit Bottomed World -- not only writing, but editing, social media and graphics. That's what has been keeping me busy.

If you want to find out more about the program, you can read this post from Kristen. A new 10 in 4 Challenge starts May 1.

But, man! I need to prioritize the whole work-life thing. It's super easy to stay up too late, roll out of bed into workout clothes, start working and, ummmm, never get around to the working out thing. (Hey, at least I look the part!) And I need to schedule those workouts in because my right IT band has flared up something awful and I know it's NOT from working out. It's from NOT working out.

So I pulled out my PiYo program because I need something that'll work me out and stretch me out. I've had the program ever since it came out but never did it because I saw one pretzel-like move and thought "No way." Had I actually popped the DVDs in, I'd see that there are modifiers galore, so I'm finally going to give it a go.

I have seen the future and it tastes like vegetables

(Yeah, I know I said "coming Monday" but my blog platform ate my post, so here it is on Wednesday!)

Hey, it's 2017! Happy New Year! Time to start anew and all that. I've had the same resolution since about the age of, oh, 10, and you can figure out what that is:

Crouching woman hidden scale

(Seriously, what is up with this "woman crouching on scale" stock photo pose? That is not how you weigh yourself, and if you can squat like that on a little scale, then honey, you don't need to worry about a number on the scale.)

Here's where I veer off and do something differently than I've been doing lo these many years.

  1. I unloaded a huge pile of diet books, sticking some on Amazon for sale and donating the rest to the library's used-book sale.
  2. Threw out all the pitches for big, corporate diet plans that came in the mail and the email.
  3. Left various diet-related Facebook groups. Don't want to have too many different plans fighting each other in my head. It's an ongoing issue for me.

So what DID I do?

Fitness planner

Bought a cool new fitness-themed planner. Michael's had a massive sale on them so I got this kit for around $14.

Made a doctor appointment with a new primary-care physician who seems -- at least on paper -- to be more focused on preventive care and weight loss.

Decided I was going to follow the advice of Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian who just released a new book called The Superfood Swap. It's NOT a diet; instead it's a non-crazymaking plan to eat dishes you like, only much healthier versions of them. There's no points, no calorie counting, no macro obsessing -- just good, healthy food. 

And a big part of that good, healthy food is produce -- vegetables to be precise. I can eat fruit all day long, but it's vegetables that don't often find their way into certain meals, like breakfasts and snacks.

So I kicked off Tuesday with this:

Spinach eggs

Buried under all that spinach is a couple of eggs, which I plopped on top of a couple pieces of sprouted grain bread topped with avocado. That breakfast held me for hours.

I ended the day with this:

Open face arepa
 That's an open-faced arepa at a new place near us. It was hard to get all the veggies and chicken to stay on the arepa so I just mixed everything up like a big salad and put bits of it on the arepa. 

I started and ended my day with a load of veggies. And my afternoon snack was one of Dawn's "produce and protein" combos -- 2 clementines and a 100-calorie pack of unsalted almonds.

How many calories were in this meal? My day? Don't know. Dawn says to be "calorie conscious" instead of running that calorie or macro calculator in your head all day. What I did when looking at my dinner was focus on the two things that would be the most calorically dense -- the arepa and the shredded chicken. Around 110 for each thing. The rest was vegetables and a little extra for the Latin cole slaw. 

(Check out this article from Dawn on how to free yourself from obsessive calorie counting.)

When I do calorie count I get hung up on how many I have left at the end of the day and end up trying to make up for any shortfalls at night, even if I'm not hungry. By not tallying up the day and instead being conscious of the relative total at each meal and snack, I'm far less inclined to eat what I am "allotted."

I did get on the scale New Year's Day and found that even with the little tweaks I made to my eating last week, a couple pounds came off pretty easily. 

As for the gym, my IT band issue flared up last week, and I'm guessing it was from NON-use instead of overuse, so I've been focusing on core, glutes and legs to strengthen and stretch the area with a day of rest between each workout. I got the discomfort down to one little spot on my quad, so whatever I'm doing seems to be working.

So to sum it up, 2017 is:

  • Lots of vegetables, with "produce and protein" snacks.
  • More time at the gym.
  • Playing with stickers and pens at night in my planner instead of eating.

I thought about a 'scale-free summer' for about a hot minute ...

I hadn't weighed myself since we got back from vacation. I lost nearly 3 pounds while in Southern California (probably baked it off in the heat) and hadn't stepped back on the scale since June 27. I briefly considered doing a "scale-free summer" but I know myself too well and I would have been completely neurotic all summer while I wondered whether this was the best idea ever or a huge mistake.

(This would have been me all summer.)

So I got on the scale this morning and discovered that another 2 pounds has left my body, never to return.

Women hugging scales
(This was me this morning.)

So I came up with a happy medium between ignoring the scale completely and obsessively weighing in every morning -- every couple weeks I'll check in and see how my plan is going.

What is my plan? My plan is exactly that -- MY plan. There's a little Superfood Swap (making healthier versions of indulgent foods), a little Always Hungry (more fat and less starchy carbs) and more plants (fresh produce, vegan smoothies and big salads).

There's also less stressing about exercise -- I go to the gym 3ish times a week and maybe throw in a DVD or some sort of home workout -- and I'm trying to get to bed earlier. 

So to sum up:

  • Weighing a couple times a month
  • Eating more healthy fats, more plants, fewer starches
  • Getting a decent amount of exercise and more sleep

That's MY plan -- nobody's plan but mine.


Superfood Swapping, and making sure my blood pressure doesn't suck

If you follow me anywhere on social media, you would have seen me raving about registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner's Superfood Swap plan. It was featured on the ABC series "My Diet is Better Than Yours." Actually, it won the show, and I had her pegged to win from the get-go: She's a registered dietitian, her plan was the most do-able and based in real-world situations, and her contestant, Jasmin, seemed the least cranky and hungry of the bunch. 

I went to Dawn's website, looked around at her recipes (print out and make her Cauliflower Mac and Cheese -- I promise you'll love it!) and decided to take the plunge and buy her Superfood Swap Starter Kit. She has a Superfood Swap book coming out, but I am not waiting until December. 

I got on the scale Sunday morning, looked down and couldn't believe what I saw, so I got off the scale and tried it again. Yep -- same number. Then I made my husband weigh himself just to make sure the scale wasn't broken. Nope -- he said his weight checked out. 

According to the scale yesterday, I had lost 6 pounds the past week! That's just crazy for me. 

(I did get back on the scale this morning and it was up, but that's just my usual crazy fluctuation, so I'm running with Sunday's number.)

What's in the Superfood Swap?

Here are the main takeaways, as explained on the "My Diet Is Better Than Yours" website:

The Rules

Step 1. Decide what you WANT to eat.

Step 2. Put in the “right RATIONS” on your plate.

Step 3. Swap C.R.A.P. to Superfoods at your own pace. (CRAP stands for 

  • Chemicals
  • Refined flour/sugar
  • Artificial stuff
  • Preservatives

Get Started!

Enjoy 3 “Right Ration” Meals/Day. (RIGHT RATION= small protein+ small grain+ large veggies + fat topping.)

HOW MUCH? Look at your food…you know what’s too big & what’s too small (visual wisdom) General guide: ½ c. protein + ½ c grain + 2 c. veggies + 1/2 T oil/dressing or 2-3T nuts/seeds/guac.

EAT 0-2 SNACKS/DAY. Snack only when hungry, produce + protein combo, 150 calories each, function-not-fun.

TABLE-PLATE-CHAIR. Do not eat meals or snacks while multitasking.

SWEETS/TREATS/ALCOHOL. Enjoy anytime if SOCIAL & fun…never alone, never at home, never free.

DRINK WATER. Have 71-100 ounces water/day.

Tip: Drink hot lemon water each morning & 16 ounces water before meals.

EXERCISE. Aim for 6x/week. Do something for 60 minutes, anything is better than nothing, high variety & fun. Especially love 7-minute, full-body workout & 12.5 -minute sprint workout.

SLEEP. Aim for 7-8 hours/night.

SUCCESS TIP. Delicious Monotony. Find meals & snacks that work & repeat, repeat, repeat.


Here's what I really focused on this week:

  • Table-Plate-Chair: We eat anywhere and everywhere in our house. (I joke that I should install a dishwasher in the office, between my coffee mugs and my kid's cereal bowls.) Instead I ate all my meals at the kitchen or dining room table. It felt fancy! It also compartmentalized "mealtime" from "everything else time."
  • Sweets/Treats/Alcohol: I stopped buying those little Weight Watchers mini fudge bars. Instead, we went out for frozen yogurt. It was great and I moved on.
  • 0-2 Snacks a Day: Here's where I think the bulk (ha!) of my weight-loss issue comes from. I snack too much. I have no problem between breakfast and lunch, but there's ALWAYS a snack in the afternoon, and the snackin' don't stop 'til I hit the pillow. So instead, I focused on making sure my meals were really substantial and filling and stretched the time between meals/snacks. I did get pretty darn hungry but I knew there was a nice, satiating meal awaiting me, so I was OK with feeling hunger (shouldn't we eat when we're hungry anyway?). I'm also reading "The Obesity Code," by Dr. Jason Fung. Its basic premise is about making your body access its fat stores by stretching out the time between food. I just started reading it last night but I'm liking the geekiness of it.
  • Delicious Monotony: I was loving the avocado toast topped with egg and spinach, and I ate it about three times last week. It's easy, feels indulgent and keeps me full. I used to buy the regular Ezekiel bread but I tried the flax version and like it even better. Very seedy (in a good way).

 So, about that blood pressure

I had my annual physical today and had my usual white-coat hypertension, which was also aggravated by my weekend on Aleve (neck issues). The doctor took my BP again at the end of the appointment and it did go down, but dammit, I DON'T WANT WHITE COAT OR ANY KIND OF HYPERTENSION. I do check my pressure at the grocery store and at home with an Omron cuff and usually it's pretty darn normal. But since I'm 10 pounds higher than I was last year I have noticed some creep on the top number. Fortunately, I have a doctor who isn't pill happy and was happy with my response that I'd rather do more cardio and eat more vegetables and fish to get the number down.

And, of course, to lose weight. 

In a weird, "only Gail" way, I'm kinda glad my blood pressure wasn't perfect because it has added some real urgency and purpose to getting this weight off. Why focus on jeans size when you can focus instead on death? (I'm only halfway kidding.)

So it's more cardio, more vegetables at every meal, the return of my Calm-Emergen-C cocktail and a glass of beet juice for good measure.

So now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch "The Biggest Loser" finale.