Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Getting Physical, Physical

One thing that had always been very true of me, is that I am not a morning person. I might be the solitary reason for the gray in my father's beard, from having to wake me up every morning when I was in high school. "Feet on the floor!" he would yell, after the first few attempts of getting me up, and then wait for me to do it. So I would sit up, put my feet on the floor, and then the second he left the room, lay back down. 
I'm such a jerk.

However lately, this has changed.

Mr. Light and I are teachers by trade, and those of you who teach know how tiring it can be. We relish in our after work R&R, and would usually skip workouts, because we just didn't have the energy, drive, or desire. When I had a lot more weight to lose, that was no problem. In honesty, there were MONTHS where I didn't hardly lift a finger...calorie counting on it's own was enough for me to lose at a good pace. But now that I'm closer to my goal weight, it's getting much harder, and I'm not willing to drop down to 1200 calories. I'm just not. So what does that mean? It means I need to be upping the workouts. But with said R&R, I wouldn't, and I would find myself feeling guilty. I knew that if I didn't start, I was going to be stuck. I have heard so often about how much people love working out in the morning, so I decided to give it a go. I threw myself into it, and you know what?

I feel so much more awesome than I look!

They're right.

I've (we've) been at it for about a month now, and I knew by the first day that this was the plan for me. Yes, sometimes it's hard to get up, but working out in the morning not only gives me maximum energy for my workouts, but I get to spend the rest of the day knowing I don't need to do it later.

I highly recommend trying this, if you're looking for times to fit in your exercise. And you don't need a gym! In fact, if we had a gym membership, I probably wouldn't go. Working out at home means I get up, change, and start. No driving, no anticipating...just doing! I like to use Jillian Michaels' Yoga Meltdown, and other circuit training exercises. For what I do, I only need a yoga mat, a DVD, and/or my trusty workout trainer app!

So if you think you're not the type of person who can wake up early for workouts, you might be wrong. Don't knock it 'til you try it;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tip of the Day

                                      One thing I'm glad I did:

My birthday, 08/2011, -35 pounds
The moment I began calorie counting, I made the decision that I wouldn't let myself get too carried away. I knew that if I threw myself into this with both guns blazing, I would eventually fizzle out. The main decision I made (that I couldn't be more glad for) is that I didn't restrict myself from anything. I knew that if I told myself I couldn't have such and such, I would want that thing even more. I knew that at every glance of it, my knowing it was off limits would put me one step closer to indulging myself in it. So instead of cutting myself off, I allowed myself to have it when I wanted it; this forced me to learn how to eat around that item (i.e. if I want ice cream, I have a salad for dinner). I have gotten to the point where there are many things I find that I want less, because I know it isn't sustaining. I have gone from making meat my main portion, to vegetables as my main portion.

                          One thing I wish I did:

Today, -70+ lbs
05/2010, -0 lbs
When I started, I was really ashamed of my body, and to be honest, not 100% on how well I would stick to my journey. Most of me didn't believe I would actually achieve as much as I have, so when I thought about taking "before" pictures, I shuddered and blew it off, and the idea of taking measurements wasn't much of a thought. Being where I am now, I kick myself for that. I shuffle through my photos from before, trying to get a good one of me, full body, to see how much I really have changed, but fall short of finding many that work. Before I started my journey, I more or less refused to have my picture taken from the neck down (it's true...if we're friends on facebook, look at my catalog of profile pictures). In fact, I would often refuse a picture in general, being afraid that the photographer would capture anything more than my face. How did I live like that? It seems much sadder in retrospect than it felt at the time.
That being said: Take real before pictures! Take pictures of your progress along the way! Take your measurements! You'll regret it later if you don't. Probably.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My (new) favorite thing

After the pumpkin-smoothie-custard disasters, a half a can of pumpkin filling has been sitting patiently in my refrigerator. Pumpkin filling is not anything that I ever had around before, and thinking of ways to use it was never a thing I had/wanted to do before. After getting nervous about it being wasted, I reminded my husband of it's presence, and once again-he saved the day. (I'm telling you guys, he's brilliant).
I've been making oatmeal in the mornings often, and looking for fun ways to flavor it without adding too much extra. JD's suggestion: why don't you try adding it to your oatmeal? So I did. And you know what?
It's taaaaaasty.
 Here's how (so easy):
1/2 c dry oats- 150kcal
3tbsp pumpkin puree- 15kcal
1tsp ground cinnamon- 6kcal
2 packets splenda- 0kcal
1ish c water
For oatmeal, I use quick oats, and I always prepare them on stove's just as easy as the microwave (IMHO, easier) for oatmeal.
 In a small pot, bring water to a boil (I use a little over 1c to account for the water that steams off). Turn to medium heat and slowly stir in the oats. Immediately after adding oats, add pumpkin, cinnamon, and Splenda. Stir until smooth and even. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for approx. 5 minutes. (I stop when it starts getting sticky on the bottom of the pot.)

There you have it! A quick, delicious, nutritious, and filling way to start your day!
(Of course, as much as I love a big breakfast, I usually eat it alongside fried egg whites and plain yogurt mixed with fruit. No need for a snack before lunch here!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Program

Since I have started losing weight, I have had many people ask me how I am doing it. Where most people know what calorie counting is, I don't think the "how" is always as easily come to. Just the idea of it sounds tedious and miserable, right?
While there is a lot of adjusting to do in the first few weeks, the process itself is simple, for the most part.
          What I did in the beginning was visit this website to figure out how many calories I needed to be eating each day (see the link for the BMI calculator for a more advanced/thorough version). Step 2 was purchase a kitchen scale. After a little bit of research, I found that my best option would be a digital scale, as it's much more accurate than a manual. I spent around $20, which seems to be common (but as I searched just now on, I saw some for as low as $8.50).
          For those with smart phones, your best friend will be your calorie logging app. These beauts make the process really easy, as you can look up food items right there, as well as keep a record of the foods you eat most often. Sadly, though, when I started counting, I wasn't a smart phone owner, and had to do my tracking the old school way. For that, I just carried a notebook in my purse that had a section where I kept all the foods I ate most often, and another section where I would scribble out the ingredients for each food item I ate that day, and did the math with the calculator on my phone. That was tedious, but it worked, and most of my eating was done near a computer, which allowed me to easily look up values. Truly, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this at all if it hadn't been for the caloriecount website. Not only is there an extensive list of foods, but there's also a really active community forum, which helped especially well in the beginning.
          When I first started losing, I didn't have a clue as to how much I thought I would actually lose, so I chose my end goal as a number that fit neatly into my healthy BMI range. To be completely honest, the numbers in this range seemed crazy to me. I didn't really believe that I would ever end up seeing them...I kept telling myself that even if I only got to a size 10 or 12, I'd be happy with that. Now that I'm there, I totally AM happy with that, but knowing that my healthy BMI is only 20 pounds away...why the heck wouldn't I keep with it?! Now that I'm so close, I know that I need to be preparing myself for maintenance (it's reported that 90% of people who lose weight gain it all back. sad face!). I started out eating 1800 kcal/day, and have slowly dropped my calories as my weight has dropped (I wasn't very scientific about this...I just did it when it felt right, really...I am currently eating 1400 kcal per day and have been here for awhile, as I don't want to drop much lower than that, so instead of dropping anymore calories from food, I will just up my workout intensity when necessary). Throughout my program, I have allowed myself two days a week to "zig zag" (this feature is found in the daily calorie calculator at the top). What that means is, on those days I eat a little more than usual, which helps to keep from plateauing in weight loss, and it also gives a little wiggle room to have some more fun here and there. I call these days "maintenance days", and now that I am rapidly approaching my goal weight, I am using these days to practice my eating habits without the comfort of calculating. I intend to calculate what I can when I am in the maintaining period, but I want to know that I can do this without the constant logging. But that's the beauty of calorie counting-- if you're smart about it, it teaches you the things you need to know to live a life with healthier, and happier, choices!

At the start of my program, it became heavily apparent to me that I had just never learned how to eat before. Calorie counting has been so much more than losing weight; it has been educating me in what food really is, how it applies to me, how I can enjoy it, and how I need to use it to keep me healthy all at the same time. For the past -50 pounds, I have felt foolish that I had never done this before. Although the adjustment really can be frustrating at first, the end payoff is more than worth it. Only a few weeks in, it felt as if calorie counting were just life as usual.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tip of the Day:

When I started this blog, I started it with the intentions of being a full-gamut weight loss blog. I had so many questions when I began losing weight/calorie counting and have learned so many tips and tricks throughout that I thought this would be an excellent venue to share the knowledge. However, so far I've only posted recipes and things of the sort. So right now I'm going to give you my first Tip of the Day:

                                                                                               Cheese. Do you need it?
If you answered "yes", then here's what to do:
             Shred it                          
One slice of cheese is usually around 110 calories, but with shredded cheese, you have greater control over portion size, and can easily cut back on the amount used while still covering the same amount of area. You'll probably notice, too, that the less cheese you eat, the more you realize the food that would have been underneath have fantastic flavors of their own. I've even gotten to the point where I often realize that I didn't even need to have the cheese in the first place, and go without it the next time, freeing up calories for more of something else! As with anything (erm, most things), you don't have to give it up entirely, just dial it back a notch or two.

Two, two, two recipes in one (blog)!

I was first introduced to the idea of a sweet spinach smoothie this past summer when a friend of mine entered hers into a smoothie contest. At the time, I had every intention of trying it, but then...I forgot. That is until the other day when another friend posted a link to a different green smoothie on facebook.
I had lost the link to my friend's recipe, and I would have loved to try the second recipe, but living in Korea, I don't have access to many of the ingredients listed, so I found a different recipe and tried it out.

My first try...not love at first sip. The recipe called for milk, spinach, berries, a clementine, a banana, and some water. In honesty, the flavors were good, but it was a bit too much like juice for my taste, and the oranges and spinach created a stringy aspect, as well. I like my smoothies to have a real creamy texture, and was really disappointed in this. My husband is a genius, though, and quickly picked up on the fact that frozen tangerines would cut back on the juiciness. Duh, right? So after his suggestion, I tried again, and this is what I did:

Makes 2 servings:
1 85g tub of plain yogurt- 65 kcal
100ml skim milk- 30 kcal
2c spinach- 14 kcal
(I blended these ingredients at this point, to ensure the spinach blended better than the last time)
62g (~half of a medium) banana- 56 kcal
100g frozen tangerine sections- 52 kcal
110g frozen strawberries- 40 kcal
78g frozen blueberries- 40 kcal
~1/3c water

total calories: 297 (148.5 each serving!)
and you know what else?
It was taaasty:)
Next time I make this, I'm only going to use 1/4 of a banana, since bananas can be so overpowering- but otherwise, I don't think I would change a thing!

My husband made a DELICIOUS dinner tonight! The idea came from what my dad always called Swiss Steak. My dad's version usually consisted of thinly cut strips of steak pan-fried with sliced tomatoes and topped with pepper. JD (that's the husband) likes to play around with this recipe a little bit, and tonight we decided to swap steak for chicken, flavor with fajita seasonings, and add mushrooms and onions (so it's kind of a lot like fajitas, in the end...). It was so good! Paired with a salad, I call it perfection.

Here's the recipe:
167g button mushrooms- 25 kcal
1can sliced tomatoes- 75 kcal
1medium white onion- 47 kcal
1 package fajita mix- 120 kcal
(that seemed kind of high to us...)
280g chicken (raw)- 320 kcal

mix ingredients in a lightly-sprayed pan (or a wok if you have one) until the chicken is fully cooked
total calories- 588
~makes about 3 servings @ 196 kcal per serving!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My snack-over

When I first started calorie counting, I promised myself that I wouldn't "quit" any foods. I knew that if I did that, I would never keep it up. By allowing myself whatever foods I want, I have learned how to move things around so that I can eat what I want, when I really want it. If I'm wanting ice cream for dessert, I find a light version and load up on veggies at dinner. If I want french fries, I bake them at home and eat them with lower proteins like fish or boneless, skinless chicken. Throughout my weight-loss, I have decreased my calories gradually, which has helped to weed out snacks. Because of this, I have naturally cut back on many snack-type foods...and especially eating more than one in a meal.
Yesterday was the Super Bowl, and my husband and I had decided to have a party. What do we all know comes with Super Bowl parties? Snack food. Lots and lots of snack food...and we were no exception. In preparation, I made sure in advance to plan my maintenance day for the Big Game, and I ate a lighter breakfast and lunch than usual that day. When the time came, I had plenty of calorie wiggle room, and I really let myself enjoy what would have never been a second thought for me food-wise before. Even though I know I had indulged a little more than I *needed* to, I had no idea of the residual effects I would feel today.
When I woke up this morning, I felt okay...but my breakfast ended up consisting of about 400 calories worth of cereal and Doritos. Not okay. Shortly after breakfast I started feeling awful. It's really hard to explain how I was feeling, exactly, but the closest I can attribute is to somewhat of a food-hangover (hence, My Snack-Over). My mom and brother are both hypoglycemic, and a part of me wonders if that is what they feel like when they are having their issues? A slight headache and a little bit nauseous...but different? So I took a page from their book when they're not feeling well, and made myself a much healthier lunch. After doing so, I felt much better.

Here's what I had:
Homemade pizza:
1 English muffin (total)
30g. homemade tomato sauce (per pizza)
7g. shredded colby jack cheese (per pizza)
1 slice shredded deli turkey (total)
@124 calories/pizza= 248 kcal
Sliced veggies:
40g. celery- 6
30g. cucumber- 5
30g. carrot- 9
20g. green pepper- 4
=24 kcal (I love veggies!)
(light ranch for dipping, probably could have done without, but I like it)
=41 kcal
(it's important to stay hydrated-that post will come later)
total meal= 313 kcal! +totally filling, colorful, AND delish

This morning really drove home for me how much of a favor I am doing to my body by eating the way I am now, opposed to the way I was before. Just the thought of something as basic as food giving you such a physical makes me really sad for how unhealthy old Jamie clueless old Jamie was. I recognize that, health-wise, my eating still has a lot of improvements that could be made, but to see the improvements thus far-it makes me proud, to be honest. This is more than just a losing weight thing-- I'm finally treating my body in a way that shows me that truely, I-love-me. I am worth taking care of.

And that feels good.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Too Many Irons in the Fire

Today, tragedy has struck. Maybe.

I have a repertoire of about 6 different breakfast foods, and I usually cycle through about 3 at a time. Today I was ambitious and decided I wanted all of the most involved items at once-egg whites (the staple), oatmeal, and smoothies. Once those flavor palates were grouped together in my brain, I knew nothing else would do.
I knew I was on a time crunch, getting ready for work and all, so I hurriedly got out the pot, pan, and blender, as well as all the ingredients.
(In Korea, your living space is small, and your cooking space is even smaller [counter space pictured on right]. My husband and I are fortunate to have a table, but there aren't outlets anywhere near it, so all the appliances must go here.)
I started the oatmeal, then began de-yolking my eggs. As I was getting ready to transfer the egg whites from the bowl to the pan, I noticed something strange out of my peripheral. You know how, with gas burners, sometimes the burner covers get old food stuck on them and the food catches fire? At first that is what I thought happened-but upon closer examination, it was actually my blender cord (a little something about me: initially, I always spell "cord" like "chord". Every time.)


After I panicked a little and put out the flame, I immediately checked to see if the blender still worked (because smoothies had to happen). To my relief--it did!
However, RIGHT BEFORE I would have stopped the blender, it stopped itself.
And I freaked.
I turned it off and turned it back on. Nothing. I tried it again. Nothing. Again...still nothing.

I'm hoping I just exhuasted it, but let's be's it possible to exhaust?

It is currently unplugged and waiting patiently to be tried again.
The suspense is killing me.