Saturday, January 24, 2009

When You Face Setbacks

Over the last two weeks I was sick and then ObamaFest began. No exercise or portion control happened. I haven't got on the scale yet but I know it won't be positive.

What do you do to get back on track? 
When I fall off I get up and get back on as soon as possible. So for this week I will get really strict with myself so that I can quickly undo the gains if any. It also allows me to get back on without thinking. Often I try to find the most interesting and healthy food because I'm a foodie at heart. In these times I go instead to the tried, true, and easy.  This next week will be interesting because I gave all my pots to goodwill so all I'm left with is a small sauce pan and a non-stick skillet. I guess that's a challenge all of it's own. So this is what it will look like:

Oatmeal with Fruit
Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts

Au Bon Pain Soups
Subway Sandwiches

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-Fry w/ Brown Rice
Mini Pizzas with Spinach Salad
Chinese Chicken Salad

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What not to eat?

That's the first thing people tell me when we talk about weight loss. They always want to tell me what they are going to stop eating. For me, I didn't give up anything I loved. I still eat french fries and drink Stella Artois. What I had to do was keep eating the things I loved but if something wasn't my favorite then why eat all those calories? I also realized that I couldn't "ball out" on every meal. I had to choose my indulgences wisely. Last, I did love some healthy foods so why not eat more of them?

(In this photo: Sip to Live Tea, Thomas' Light Multi-Grain English Muffins, Dole Frozen Mango, Stonyfield Fat Free Yogurt, All Whites,  Giant Frozen Asparagus)

So what do I eat?

Let's start with breakfast.  I used to freaking hate egg whites because folks always wanted to scramble them. However in an omelette they are decent. In my fridge I have a carton of All Whites, canadian bacon, frozen asparagus, frozen spinach and shredded Cabot 75% light cheese. Along with my non stick pan I can whip up and omelet in no time.  Doesn't a bacon, spinach and cheese omelet  sound great? It has protein and vegetables so you start your day right. It's very low in calories and fat. So then you can add a light english muffin with jelly and a fruit smoothie and still come out low in calories and fat. That's a lot of food and we are only at 300 calories or 5 Weight Watchers Points.

To make this work you need to chop the canadian bacon and asparagus. If you use spinach, keep it in the fridge to thaw. The cheese should be shredded in advance. So then when you wake up all you have to do it pour and sprinkle all your ingredients in.  For the smoothies just make a large batch and drink it for the next couple of days. For my smoothie I use frozen fruit, low fat yogurt, light vanilla soy milk and honey.  Eating this meal helps me get my fruits and vegetables in early.

The other thing I eat often is oatmeal. I recently switched to quick oats and just doing them in the microwave and adding my own flavorings. It's cheaper than using the instant packs and I can change up the flavor everyday. You know adding your own maple and brown sugar is pretty easy.  Adding some craisins and sliced almonds is also very good. The trick to this is to microwave your oatmeal for 1 minute of Medium or 50% power so it doesn't bowl over. 

I also love a good egg McMuffin but making my own is healthier and saves on calories and fat.  I use one one egg or egg whites, light english muffin, Canadian bacon and Cabot 75% light cheese. 

None of these meals takes more than 5 minutes to make as long as you have your ingredients are prepped in advanced. 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Wii Fit

For Christmas of 2007 my nephew got a Wii. He needed someone to challenge. So we played tennis, boxing and bowling. Given that the Wii is for "casual gamers", it was very easy for me to play and spank him in most of the games. On the third day of Christmas he needed Icy Hot. By the end of it he didn't even say goodbye to me after I won yet another tennis match. After that I wanted a Wii of my own and it took me 6 months to find one at regular price. It was on from there. I noticed in the boxing you can work up quite a sweat. You can do the same in tennis you play with full force. I knew then that the Wii Sports could give me some cardio alternatives. Then I heard about the Wii Fit and looked it up on the Nintendo website and it seemed kind of silly. Why would anyone need a balance board and video game to help them do lunges and sun salutations? I kept hearing more about it and two friends of mine got one and they both loved it. One is a former gym rat so I was convinced I wanted one but I wasn't quite ready to spend lots of time tracking one down. Well this guy just happened to return one when I was buying Dance Dance Revolution for my nephew. There I was standing there with both video games that are supposed to be ultimate in fitness workouts. 

When you start the Wii Fit it let's you select your Mii, weighs you, and checks your balance. You get on the balance board with shoes and socks off. It will tell you if you are obese, overweight, normal or below according to your BMI. In fact it will tell you this everyday if you let it. It will also tell you your Wii Fit age which is based on the balance test. I think it's reallly silly to give you an age based on a balance test. You can then set a weight loss target and pick the gender of your personal trainer. It saves the data so you can track overtime. It's clear that this is very Eastern oriented as balance and rhythm seems to be more important than anything else in this game. 

Tip: When you weigh yourself, do it on a hard surface as the carpet may cause inaccuracies in your measurements. After that you can move it back to the carpet and ignore the "your weight is different messages."

The game consist of four sections: yoga, aerobics, strength and balance games. There are about 12 different activities or mini games to do in each. In each section only 3-4 things are available when you start so it will feel limited. However, each time you play a game you earn Fit Credits equal to the time spent playing. As you accumulate more fit credits you will unlock more games. For the existing games you may unlock increased time limits or advanced levels.

I really enjoy the yoga mostly because I used to do yoga all the time and I have fallen out of practice. You follow along with your personal trainer as s/he does the poses with you. Some of the poses are modified so you can get feedback from the balance board. I think this is the most unique feature. It let's you know if your are keeping your center of balance and/or how much weight you are putting on each side of your body. It's great to have the instant feedback. I also do it in front of the mirror so I can correct poses. After each pose is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Ditto everything for the yoga. You are doing everything from pushes, lunges, squats to the plank. After each activity is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

I know I know. I should just get on my bike. However, I'm still afraid of theft. So for now it's in home exercises. On the Wii Fit my favorite thing to do is Hula Hoop and Super Hula Hoop. I remember doing this as a kid. I also remember this European chick kicking my ass in hula hoop at the bowling alley. When I saw this I knew it was a chance to redeem myself. You stand on the balance board and sway your hips in "large neat circles". You also catch hoops that are thrown at you by the other Wii characters. I think it's funny that my mate and his brother are always throwing at me. Hula Hoop is free for all. Super Hula Hoop has you go in each direction separately starting with 3 minutes and advancing to 6 minutes. If you take the game seriously you can work up a sweat. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Then there is Step, Advanced Step and Free Step. I was never any good a real step aerobics but I excel at Wii Step. If you have ever played Dance Dance Revultions this is the "For Dummies" version. Basic step is pretty slow and I didn't work up a real sweat as the moves are just really up and down. In Advanced step you learn even more moves and at the end they speed it up. This is a rhtyhm game as you are scored on stepping in sync. In Free Step the Wiimote taps the beat and you can change you TV to another chanell and just step your heart out at whatever pace works for you. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Today I finally worked out enough to unlock the Rhythm  Boxing. Well at first I thought this was a dud. You watch someone give you a pattern then you take your turn at the punching bag. I thought I was doing great until the bag spoke and told me better luck next time. I did it a couple times and still felt it was too easy and if I was going to with the actual rhythm it was much too slow. I was also able to unlock 6 minute rounds in no time. Well little did I know, the combinations became more difficult. I couldn't keep up. Punching when I should be dodging; dodging when I should be blocking. I think I started to finally work up a sweat. I have a lot more practice to do before I get good at this. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

Last is the running game. This game doesn't use the balance board. Instead you put he Wiimote in your pocket or your hand. You are following a trainer on a scenic run. Other folks are running including your other Mii family members. You get higher scores for running at at steady pace. This isn't a game of speed. I like that it wants you to jog slow. However, I have bad knees and running in place hurts. Running hurts period for me. I really think I would rather go for a walk than play this game. However, I think it's a great warm up for me. Today instead of running in place I took a brisk walk in circles around the apartment. This is my least favorite of the aerobic games. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

The intensity of most of the aerobics is low to moderate even when I put my all into them. If you are new to exercise then I think these would be more challenging. The Dance Dance Revolution game is the ultimate cardio workout and I will probably use that for cardio instead of the Wii Fit. 

Well this is my weakest section. It's a selection of 1 minute mini games from balancing on the tight rope to head butting soccer balls I really suck at this. The balance board in most cases is looking for subtle movements when playing it's balance games. I seem to only be able to move big. It took me about 20 tries to get across the tight rope. These games are really fun and addicting. This part reminds you the most of playing a video game. After each round is over you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. 

All in all I enjoy the Wii fit and I will probably stick with it. For me it will be used mostly to improve my flexibility, strength and balance. I don't think it will suffice for a good cardio workout. It does ,however, have one major flaw. After each activity you "you get feedback, get a score and get your ranking. You then go back to the menu and select a new activity. " There is no way to string a set of exercises together. It even recommends a few combinations but there is no easy way to do it. So even if you spent 30 minutes playing games tack on another 15 minutes to scroll through the menus each time. In spite of that now that I have unlocked some of the longer sessions but it will cut down on using the menu. During the strength segment the rest between sets makes a lot sense. So I have had to make up some routines to get the 30 minute mark. 

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Because sharing is caring...

Well I also decided to share my measurements.  I look at them and I feel like they aren't that different from when I started. Maybe I just don't remember what they were then.  I do know that I can't even attempt to wear my previous clothing size of 14. They fall off.  A Twelve is needs a belt, a 10 is about right and an 8 sometimes. 


Weight: 149lbs 
Natural Waist: 30"
Low Waist (where my pants actually sit): 33"
Thigh: 26"
Bicep: 12"

Tomorrow: Wii Fit

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy Healthy New Year

I am happy to report that I lost 24 pounds in 2008. Here's to a few more and toning in 2009. As I said a couple of posts back I'd like to focus this blog on how I got there. First I joined Weight Watchers in January 2008. It was the end of January because I don't make resolutions. It was a fateful weekend in late January where I consumed nothing but cupcakes and realized that is just not acceptable.  As a person who tried to be healthy and spent tons of money on organic groceries I was still overweight. I realized that I had been at a steady weight for about 4 years but I felt fat and didn't like taking pictures anymore. I knew a few people who were Weight Watchers members and they were having success but I still shunned the idea of joining a weight loss program. I always thought I would accomplish my weight loss goals with just plain common sense and the fact that I have a Masters Degree in Health Behavior and Health Education.  Well I would have been out of job by now if people changed their health behaviors that easily. 

So I joined and it worked. What I learned was awareness. Who knew that my Chipotle Burritos had a days worth of calories in them?!?! I knew that I needed to follow some sort of plan. However, I had a difficult time following other plans because I can't just eat what's prescribed. At the time Weight Watchers had the Flex Plan and that worked for me. I could still eat what ever I wanted but I had to plan for it and make sure it fit into my POINTS (calorie-like) budget. The budget forced me to make some decisions because I could eat whatever I wanted but that didn't mean I could eat the not so healthy things as often and in the same quantities (Hello Hamburger Happy Meal).  I had my ups and downs through the year but I made a lot of progress.  So this year I decided I would share my health and fitness goals for 2009. 

1. Drink 48 fl. ounces of water or decaf tea day
2. Become a Weight Watchers Lifetime member.
3. Maintain the blog weekly

That's it. Well number two has a couple of components. I have to reach my goal weight and maintain it for 6 weeks.  Number 3 is very exciting to me. I already have the first couple of installments waiting on deck.  Look forward to hearing about my Wii fitness challenge and "On Hand Foods" in January.