Time to Focus

January 27, 2012

I need to buckle down on my eating. For most of the month, I haven’t been as diligent and focused as I could be. I wouldn’t say that I’m completely off my game – I’ve just been lazy. Portion sizes have gotten larger. My emphasis on planning has wained. I’ve indulged my cravings much sooner than usual, and without consideration on how those calories would impact the rest of my day.

I’ve gone through periods like this before – it starts to happen whenever I plateau or repeatedly gain and lose the same couple of pounds. I begin thinking, “Why not eat foods X, Y, and Z – I’m not losing weight anyway.” In the past few weeks, I’ve bought a candy bar (or two) at gas stations, a pint of ice cream (which was polished off much sooner than it should have been), and I’ve been really craving 7-11 corn dogs, so I’ve gotten a couple of those, too (I know, I know, they technically don’t quality as ‘food’ – more like ‘food-like substances’).

None of that is the end of the world, and I’m not beating myself up over any of it. It’s the behavior behind that bothering me and needs to change. All of those purchases were impulsive. I wanted junk food, so I bought junk food, and ate it immediately (usually, in my car, except for the ice cream). The most caloric impulse purchase was a slice of Sbarro pizza at the food court in the mall. It was the worst kind of eating: I was at the mall, I hadn’t eaten in a while, and I was a little hungry, but not achingly so. I walked past the Sbarro, and I wasn’t even craving pizza, but I thought, ‘Oh, that looks good, I haven’t eaten that in a while’ – and without a second thought, I bought a piece. I wish I had registered that I was hungry, taken stock of all the options in the food court, figured out if there was anything at all I wanted to get there, and made a more conscious, informed, intelligent decision. But I didn’t. I went for what was right in front of me. And it was greasy. And it was good, but it wasn’t the best.

Again, the pizza isn’t the end of the world, and I’m gonna gain dozens of pounds because of it. But the thinking (or lack thereof) is what I need to squash. I need to get back to the place where I think about my days, think about the food in my fridge, and the exciting ways I’m going to eat it, and then stick to those plans. When I do that, I alleviate a lot of temptation, and which temptations do strike, I can better fend them off, without giving into them mere moments after they appear.

Another reason why I’ve given in to poor food choices is because my cupboards are a little bare. My grocery shopping game, at the moment, is off – I have healthy food around, but not enough choices, and when I don’t have enough choices in my kitchen, I start not wanting to eat it. I had a container of pre-washed mixed baby salad greens in my fridge – you know the kind, every grocery store sells them. But because I didn’t many other good salad things to add to it, I never wanted to eat it. I stared at it every day for a week, maybe longer. I should have gone and picked up some salad ingredients that excite me, but I didn’t. And it sat there, and sat there, and sat there, and then yesterday I picked it up and realized it had long since expired. I opened the container, and sure enough, it smelled like a compost heap and every leaf was slimy. I don’t like wasting food, and that pissed me off.

Yesterday afternoon, I rectified my lack of healthy options problem with a big trip to Whole Foods. Here’s the entirety of my fresh produce before the trip:

Two sweet potatoes, two apples, an onion, a lemon and a head of garlic.

And here’s what I picked up at Whole Foods:

Top half, L-R: 3 red pears, 4 zucchini, 4 tomatoes, 5 satsuma tangerines, a cucumber, 2 pints blueberries, baby carrots, red bell peppers. Bottom half, L-R: celery, strawberries, bananas, pre-washed kale (and yes, I will eat it before it goes bad), 4 (more) apples, broccoli.

I also picked up a new-to-me produce item that I’ve never seen before, because I haven’t done that in a while (not since I sampled a calamondin in Michigan). Check these out – they’re popcorn shoots!

They were in the sprouts and sprouted bean section, and I presume they’re baby corn plants. They seem really thin and delicate, and although you may not be able to tell in these pictures, they’re almost translucent, which I think is really cool.

I have my research to do, but I already have an idea for how to use them as part of a breakfast dish. Look for that post this weekend!

In the meantime, I have my work cut out for me: Eat better. Plan more. Consider cravings and see if they subside instead of immediately caving into them. Oh, and you wanna know how you can help? If you’re a regular blog reader, pay attention. There’s a sure-fire sign that I’m not eating as well as I could be, and it’s that I simply don’t write about food. Since I’ve returned from my holiday travels, I’ve only written one food-based post (What’s In The RediSetGo? Part Twenty-One). If you see me go for a stretch without any mention of food, call me out on it, either in the comments section or through the Contact page!

OK – I’m off to my new gym (while my eating has suffered lately, my exercise has been pretty stellar), and I already know what I’m making for lunch when I get back – I’m getting back on the salad train with that kale, one of those tomatoes, and one of those peppers. I’ll post a picture on my Facebook page later today as proof!

Keep it up, David!

UPDATE (3pm): The salad photo is up on my Facebook page, as promised! Check it out here.


Banana Chips

May 6, 2011

A quick Friday post before the weekend comes!

When I filled up my water bottle this morning in the kitchen at my office, I was greeted by a new office temptation…


I love, Love, LOVE banana chips.  The very first job I ever had, when I was 14 years old, was at a fruit market, where I bagged groceries, mopped floors, and fetched carts from the parking lot.  Sometimes, on my lunch break, I would buy a container of banana chips, and that’d be my lunch.  I’d eat all of them.

The containers at that store didn’t have nutritional information on them, but even if they did, I’m not sure, as a 14-year-old, if I would have looked or paid attention.  I thought, like I think many people do, that banana chips were healthy.  They’re often displayed in stores near raisins and other dried fruits, and, hey!  They’re bananas!

But, contrary to popular belief, banana chips aren’t dried, like the raisins nearby.  More often then not, they’re dipped in sugar, honey, or some other sweetener, and then deep-fried.  Often in coconut oil.  No wonder they taste so good!

They are not very good for you.  As this article shows, 1/2 cup of banana chips (about 15 chips) is, nutritionally speaking, comparable to potato chips.  And this article says that a lot of the benefits that bananas provide, like potassium and vitamins, are lost in the cooking process, since frying involves oil at very high tempuratures.

You can expect banana chips to pack in around 150 calories and 8 to 10 grams of fat per ounce.  How many banana chips are in an ounce?  I dunno, but probably not many!

So I’m not going to eat any banana chips today.  I won’t do it.  Luckily for me, I just happened to bring into work today something that proved to be a very healthy alternative to banana chips…

…mmm, banana!

Keep it up, David!

Reader Question, Office Temptation, Boot Camp

March 24, 2011

Three topics today.  Let’s get started!

1) Reader Question. I got a great question the other day in the comments section.  Lisa wrote:

I need to lose about 35 lbs. and am working with a trainer. The problem is I am an emotional eater. Before you started this journey, would you say you were an emotional eater? Do you think that’s how you gained the weight? I am talking to a therapist too about this, but I know the best advice comes from people who have experienced this firsthand. My problem is that I use anything “bad” that happens to me during the day as an excuse to emotionally eat. It sucks and I have to get myself out of this rut! I have lost 10 lbs. since Jan. 1st but gained some of it back, despite working out on a regular basis, because of the emotional binges. Anything you can share with me would be a tremendous help!

Ugh, emotional eating is such a hurdle, and I’m sure most of us deal with it in some way.  I wouldn’t say that I used to be an emotional eater, I’d say that I’M STILL an emotional eater, but I’ve developed some habits and techniques to combat tough times.  Food provided comfort in bad times, was a release in stressful times, and was a way of celebrate in good times.  There were very few emotions that I didn’t respond to by eating, so yeah, that’s pretty much the definition of emotional eating!

The good news, though, is that you can combat it, and it sounds like you’re on the right path, and I applaud you for working with a therapist.  Here’s what’s been working for me:  I took reward and celebratory foods off the table.  I used to treat myself:  if I was feeling great because of an accomplishment, than I told myself I could stop for ice cream, pick up a pizza, or load up on candy.  There have been times in my life when I was exercising, but eating poorly, and partly it’d be because I’d think, regularly, “yeah, I can have more fries and a shake – I had a good workout yesterday.”  Not anymore.

Focusing on changing my thought patterns during good times seemed like an easier challenge, because when I was really craving something as a celebratory treat, I could say ‘no’ to myself, and, instead, focus on whatever it was that provided me a reason to celebrate, and still feel great.  What I’ve found is that because I refuse to indulge in reward foods, I now have the great motivator to prevent binging in bad times:  After all, why should I console myself with crappy food when I won’t reward myself with it?  It’s a little mental game that works for me, and maybe it might work for you, too.  I hope this helps, Lisa, and KEEP IT UP!

Have any tips to battle emotional eating?  Share them in the comments section!

2) Office TemptationAs I mentioned yesterday, I recently started at a new job, and get to show up to an office every day for the first time in a few months.  That also means I get to, for the first time in a few months, deal with office temptation.  Here’s what tempted me yesterday:

Look! A fun-sized box of chocolate-covered raisins!

Did I say fun-sized? I meant a THREE-AND-A-HALF-POUND BOX.  Here it is next to my cup of tea:

It’s even bigger than my friend Jamie’s head, who has “a notoriously large head” (her words, not mine):

This beauty (by which I mean the candy, not Jamie, although Jamie is also definitely a beauty) was just sittin’ in the break room, left out for everyone to enjoy.  I don’t know where it came from, but there it was.  And I really wanted to have some… until I crunched some numbers.  Here’s the nutrition label:

There’s 30 chocolate-covered raisins in a serving, and 40 servings in the box, so that’s roughly 1,200 raisins total.  At 170 calories and 6 grams of fat a serving, that box contains 6,800 total calories and 240 total grams of fatGross.  Of course, a numbers for a single serving aren’t terrible, but I know that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, eat just 30.  So I stayed away altogether.  Hopefully the box will be gone tomorrow!

3) Boot Camp. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I took, for the first time ever, two boot camp classes on two consecutive days, and man oh man, am I sore.  On Tuesday, I went to my now-regular boot camp class with Craig Ramsay.  He had us working with DynaBands, these latex stretchy bands that you can use to strengthen and tone your muscles.  It was my first time using a DynaBand, and it was fun, because it was new for me, but like every Craig Ramsay class, it was tough.  The exercises he taught us focused on specific muscles, but we would do them in lunge or squat positions, so other muscles would be utilized for stability and support.  Brutal.

If that wasn’t enough, on Wednesday, I went with my friend Chris (my most recent running buddy) to a boot camp class at his gym, where I had picked up a free 7-day pass so I could work out with him.  That class was taught by a nice woman named Kristy (Christy? Kristi? not sure of the spelling), and it involved free weights, a step, those giant balls, and a mat.  Thankfully not all at once, but I’m sure that day will come.  I’m tired just thinking about it!

This morning, I did cardio: 50 minutes on the elliptical; almost 550 calories burned.

Keep it up, David!

Getting Excited… Getting Nervous…

January 6, 2011

After getting and sharing the big news yesterday that I’m going to appear on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” next week, I thought that last night I wouldn’t be able to sleep a wink, but, sure enough, I did.  I didn’t even have any dreams about falling on my face or tripping down the stairs, like I thought I might, either!  There’s plenty of time to not sleep and have nightmares, though – I have 4 more evenings to navigate before I tape the show next Monday.  (My appearance, with Richard Simmons, airs next Tuesday, January 11 – go to www.ellentv.com to find out when it airs in your area.)

A little later today, I’m heading to the mall to find the perfect outfit for national daytime television.  I’m gonna find me something hot!

In the meantime, I thought I’d catch you all up on a couple other things from the past couple days:

1) Running: On Tuesday, I went running for the first time since November 28 – over a month ago!  I didn’t run in Michigan, because it was too cold, and I have yet to run on a treadmill, mostly because I like running as an excuse to be outside… If I don’t do the occasional outdoor workout, I’d never be outdoors.  About 10 minutes into the run, I was already tired.  It sure felt like my first run in over a month.  Perhaps it was wishful thinking to assume that despite a break from running, I’d be able to keep up the pace and endurance I had when I was running every week in the fall.  But I couldn’t.  This run was much more difficult.  After 20 minutes in, I decided to go for 10 more minutes and call it a day after 30 minutes even.  I caught a brief second wind a few minutes before I finished, and pushed myself from 30 minutes to 34 minutes.  Add on about 8 minutes of warm-up and 8 minutes of cool down before and after the run, and I was on the streets for 50 minutes total.  During the 34 minutes I was actually running, I went 3 miles even.   Time to update the chart:

  • 9/21/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 41 minutes.  MPH: 4.53
  • 9/27/10: Distance: 3.3 miles.  Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 4.4
  • 10/5/10: Distance: 3.2 miles.  Time: 40 minutes.  MPH: 4.8
  • 10/12/10: Distance: 3.8 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 10/16/10: Distance: 2.9 miles.  Forgot to note time and MPH
  • 11/1/10: Distance: 3.1 miles.  Time: 36 minutes.  MPH: 5.16
  • 11/6/10: Distance: 5.1 miles. Time: 60 minutes.  MPH: 5.1
  • 11/14/10: Distance: 3.9 miles. Time: 45 minutes.  MPH: 5.2
  • 11/28/10: Distance: 4.2 miles. Time: 46 minutes.  MPH: 5.47
  • 1/4/11: Distance: 3.0 miles. Time: 34 minutes.  MPH: 5.3

It sure didn’t seem like 5.3 mph, it seemed a lot slower.  But I’m not gonna argue with my math!

2) Craving: I developed a craving over the past week, and, yesterday, I decided to indulge.  Here’s the full story:

When we were in Mexico last week, there was a Dairy Queen a block away from our hotel.  We called it Reina de Leche.  While I’ve had Dairy Queen before, it’s never been a huge part of my life, or a huge temptation.  If there are Dairy Queens in my neighborhood, I don’t even know where they are.  But as the week in Mexico passed, I found myself thinking more and more how much I wanted a Dairy Queen – a Blizzard, to be more specific.  I talked about it with the family and friends I was in Mexico with, and ended up going the whole week without ever getting one.

Normally, when I get a craving, I like to sleep on it for at least one night.  A lot of times, the craving goes away.  Every once and a while, though, it doesn’t, and then I try to figure how I can indulge in the craving without falling too far off the wagon.  I was hoping the Dairy Queen craving would dissipate once I left Mexico and stopped walking past it 4 times a day, and yet, when I got home, it didn’t.  For three days, I caught my mind wandering, thinking how good a Dairy Queen would taste… how much I would enjoy it… how I need to go get one right now.

On the fourth day, I decided it was time to act on the craving before it drove me crazy.  But how?  I didn’t want to buy ice cream at the supermarket, because I didn’t want leftovers in my freezer, and I’d end up eating more than I wanted to.  Since I don’t know where the closest Dairy Queen is located, I decided to stop by one of their competitors, a store that’s convenient located a 1/2 mile from me:  Baskin Robbins.

I ended up leaving Baskin Robbins with two scoops, in a cup:

The more colorful scoop on the bottom is their Wild ‘N’ Reckless Sherbet, a mix of green apple, blue raspberry, and fruit punch.  According to the nutrition info on their website, one scoop is 160 calories.  The yellow scoop on top is their Daiquiri Ice.  According to the nutrition info for this flavor, one scoop is 80 calories, but the Daiquiri Ice on their website isn’t the same as the Daiquiri Ice I purchased.  The website version is lime green, but mine was yellow, and the store signage listed calories as 140.  I’ll stick to the store signage – and, added together, I conquered my craving with a 300 calorie treat.  I ate it slowly and enjoyed it, too – and the craving was gone!

Keep it up, David!

A Little Monday Catch-Up

January 3, 2011

One thing about being out of town for three weeks is that there’s always lots to do when you come home.  I’ve been moving nearly non-stop since getting in late Saturday night – laundry to do, a giant stack of mail to go through with lots of bills to pay… I made a to-do list yesterday and have been checking things off left and right.  It hasn’t all been hustle and bustle – yesterday I went out to the suburbs to have a lovely belated-Christmas dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, and I’ve made time to exercise both yesterday and today.  What I really want to do, though, is to sit back and catch up with the three weeks of stuff on my TiVo.  Oh, don’t you worry – it will happen.  I will make it happen.

Anyway – there’s been a few things I wanted to blog about that I haven’t gotten around to yet, so here we go!

1) Farmer’s Market: Yesterday I went to the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market for the first time in a few months.  It was cold and drizzly, but the market happens rain or shine, year-round.  Maybe it’s because it’s winter, or maybe because it was just after the holidays, but a lot of vendors weren’t there, including a couple of my favorites.  I still managed to clean up nicely:

Here’s what I bought:

  • 1 bag arugula  – $3
  • 1 bag mixed greens – $3
  • 1 bag shittake mushrooms – $2
  • 1 bunch Maui scallions – $1.50
  • 1 bag sprouted mung beans and wheatberries; 1 bag pea greens  – together, they cost $4
  • 3 Japanese pink tomatoes and 5 Persian cucumbers – together, they cost $4.50
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes – $2
  • 3 valencia oranges – $1
  • 6 satsuma tangerines  – $1.75
  • Grand Total: $22.75


Everything but the last three items got tossed in a big salad that I took to my aunt and uncle’s place, but in the aforementioned hustle and bustle, I didn’t take any pictures.  You’ll have to take my word for it: it was good, and got rave reviews from all around the table.

2) Satsuma Tangerines: I wanted to continue my tradition of trying new types of produce (recent examples: buddha’s hand and seckel pear), and while I was at the farmers’ market, I realized I had never tried a satsuma before, so I went ahead and bought 6 (they’re little).  I ate two later that day.  If you’ve never seen them before, take a look:

They’re easy to peel with your fingers, break apart easily into segments, and if I didn’t know differently, I’d just assume it was a clementine, because it looks and tastes just like one.  Delicious!  Clementines have long been a favorite citrus fruit of mine, and now I’ll add satsumas to the list.

3) Uh-Oh: Look what’s moving in right next door to my gym:

Literally right next door – they share the same parking lot.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On the plus side, it makes it really easy to swing by and grab a bottle of water before a workout, but on the con side, 7-11 and I haven’t traditionally had a healthy relationship, because I like junk food, and that’s pretty much all they sell.  In my last apartment, I was a few blocks from a 7-11, and I can remember lots and lots of late-night runs where I would pick up a pint of ice cream and a big bag of chips, and I’d go home and eat it all within minutes.  I’m a different person now, and have been managing temptations much, much better in the past year, but this is temptation setting up shop mere steps away from my gym, where I go multiple times a week.  And it’s not like there’s a shortages of 7-11s in the area: the gym is 3.5 miles from my home, and on the way, I pass two 7-11s.  If I take a slightly different route, I can pass two other 7-11s.  Please, 7-11, take your Cheetos and your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and leave me be!

4) 2010 Exercise Report: On July 8, 2010, I decided I would start keeping track of which days I worked out.  It devised a simple system – every day that I exercised, I would mark a little circle on that day in my planner.  For days I took a class at Slimmons, I marked a slightly different circle, and days that I took a class somewhere besides Slimmons got a third slightly different mark.  Last night, now that the year is over, I went back and tallied up some statistics:

  • In July, I worked out 20/24 days (83%), including 11 Slimmons classes.
  • In August, I worked out 25/31 days (80%), including 4 Slimmons classes and 3 other classes.
  • In September, I worked out 24/30 days (80%), including 4 Slimmons classes and 6 other classes.
  • In October, I worked out 17/31 days (55% – low because of a time-consuming job), including 3 Slimmons classes and 2 other classes.
  • In November, I worked out 25/30 days (83%), including 3 Slimmons classes and 3 other classes.
  • In December, I worked out 24/31 days (77%), including 4 Slimmons classes and 2 other classes.

In total, I worked out 135 out of 177 DAYS – a 76% exercise success rate! This includes 29 classes at Slimmons and 16 other classes (mostly Latin Jam, with some spin, step, and a couple others thrown in there).

Keep it up, David!