Friday, August 16, 2013

My Body is My Temple, BMI, & Importance of Eating Breakfast

So it occurred to me recently, why should you listen to me or a word I have to say? 

Well, first of all, please, please double check everything I recommend, because questioning is a good quality to have.  Never believe anything blindly....

 I am not an expert and am only writing about the changes I have made, based on my own reading and research.  They have worked for me.  You will find in the course of your research that there are conflicting opinions on almost EVERYTHING out there.  At a certain point, I had to stop just doing the research and just start taking action with what seemed to be the best choice.  I have tried to stay up to date and when new information comes out either assimilate it into my diet or change my diet to fit new data.

Two and a half years ago I was a size 14/16.  I weighed 178 pounds.  I could not run two laps without having to stop, out of breath. 

My BMI (Body Mass Index- ratio of fat to muscle) was 29.8 % (see chart below--- I was almost considered class 1 obese).

CategoryBMI range – kg/m2BMI Prime
Very severely underweightless than 15less than 0.60
Severely underweightfrom 15.0 to 16.0from 0.60 to 0.64
Underweightfrom 16.0 to 18.5from 0.64 to 0.74
Normal (healthy weight)from 18.5 to 25from 0.74 to 1.0
Overweightfrom 25 to 30from 1.0 to 1.2
Obese Class I (Moderately obese)from 30 to 35from 1.2 to 1.4
Obese Class II (Severely obese)from 35 to 40from 1.4 to 1.5
Obese Class III (Very severely obese)over 40over 1.5

Now I weigh in at 137 (and weight is NOT the be all-- end all!).  I am a size 4.  My BMI is 23.6.  I can run for 45 minutes without stopping and could probably run longer, but who the hell wants to besides pro athletes and people being chased by vicious animals. (Kidding....)

My blood pressure is 107/72.  (Healthy is considered 120/80 or below).

I guess what I'm trying to say is physically, I have changed.  Mentally, I have also changed along with my physical self.  It is inevitable that your mental/emotional health will progress as you make positive changes in your diet and exercise routine.  So the advice I give you has worked for me...take that with a grain of salt :)

Getting back to today's discussion:

There is no doubt in my mind that the "American" culture has created a "fat" and "unhealthy" nation of people...

We are an instant gratification society.  We eat to the point that we feel like we could burst, we drink to get drunk,  and the foods and beverages we are eating to excess is killing us from the inside out.

We are a culture of pleasures and we eat and drink for pleasure.  Proof of this comes from all the choices we have... How many cereals does a human being really need to choose from? 

We need to change how we think about food and how we think about our bodies.

Today, I'd like to explain how I feel about food and my body. 

My body is a temple.  It is NOT who I am.  That is inside me:  my spirit, my personality is part of that.  But my body is my vehicle.  And like a vehicle, it needs maintenance and it needs to be driven properly.
Food is the fuel for this body and the cleaner the fuel, the better it's going to run.  This does not mean you have to eat like a rabbit, nor does it mean you can't have a glass of wine or a beer.  But moderation is key.
Today's food focus is breakfast....
1.  You should eat breakfast!  I can not eat when I first wake up (it would make me want to vomit), so I eat breakfast around 9:30 am, when I get a break at school.
2.  Breakfast bars are NOT good for youMost cereals also pretty much suck at life.  Sorry to be the herald of that news.  Look at the ingredients on the label.  The order of the ingredients is in order of the quantity.  Almost all cereals I looked at when I first changed my eating habits listed High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as one of the first four ingredients.  BAD.  Anything with HFCS should be avoided.  One cereal I found that did not have HFCS is All~Bran Bran Buds.  Not the most delicious alone, but you can add nuts, honey, blueberries, pecans etc.... 
3.  I eat oatmeal (almost) every day during the school year.  I also eat a banana/some other fruit about an hour later almost every day (bananas have more sugars but they are very good for you and they keep me fuller longer). 
A few people messaged me about oatmeal, wondering if one type (i.e. steel cut) is better than another.  I did some research and what I found out was that the only type you should avoid is the individually packaged type with the added fruits and sweeteners (i.e. oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon). Steel cut oats versus quick oats versus regular oats -- the difference is only in the cut of the oatmeal.  As long as the label says, "100% whole grain oats" then you're fine.  I buy mine at Aldi where they are cheapest.  I add honey to my oatmeal.  I also add either walnuts or pecans.  Sometimes I put some almond or soy milk in.  I measure my oatmeal too.  I literally just leave the half cup measuring cup in the container.  I microwave the water, then throw in the oats, then microwave it again just to be sure the oats are cooked through.  If they are too thick, just add a little more water and stir.
Oatmeal is a way better alternative in terms of health. Take a look at oatmeal versus Raisin Bran:
                            Oatmeal                                   Raisin Bran
Serving Size          1/2 cup                                    1 cup
 Calories                150 cals                                  200 cals
*Total Carbs          19 carbs                                  37 carbs
Sugars                   less than 1                               21 grams
Protein                   5 grams                                    4 grams
Fibers (all)             8 grams                                    6 grams
*after fiber is subtracted
While oatmeal's serving size is only 1/2 cup vs the raisin bran's 1 cup, the oatmeal is DRY and when you add water, it expands. 
I sometimes am in a rush and do eat packaged food for breakfast.  In that case I have eaten the 100 calorie thin crisp Kellog's breakfast bars.  Just remember that doing something packaged should be in moderation and the exception, not the rule.
I do like having eggs sometimes for breakfast if I'm home.  A medium egg has about 70 calories.  I eat two eggs with two slices of the Sara Lee bread (35 calories per slice).  I use real butter over margarine.  It has more calories but it actually "healthier" for you.
The last piece of advice I would give you is about coffee.  All the research I have done shows that coffee is actually good for you.  Not loaded with sweeteners and cream, but the blacker you can drink it, the better. 
 I personally am a bit of a coffee tramp.  I still like my light and sweet, with some cream and sugar.  Maybe that can be my next battle.
Please feel free to share, ask questions, or comment.  I appreciate your ideas and feedback.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Homemade" Pita Chips: Recipe, Calorie Count and Tips

So, shockingly, I had 250+ views in two days on my Healthy Eating Post.  Obviously there are many of you who are interested in getting fit. 

I personally believe that diet is 70% of getting in shape and exercise is the rest.  Having said that, here is a simple recipe that can be used as a snack, lunch, or developed into a full dinner (I replace the Tostitos chips with these). I'd like to give some thanks to Rick Turner for inspiring me (via Betty Turner) for this simple recipe.

10-15 minutes prep and cook time.  Kid friendly.  Let the kids help with this recipe!

Homemade Pita Chips :
Two Joseph's Pita pockets (I buy these at Wal-Mart in front of the deli section)
Clove of Garlic or you can use minced garlic
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to Taste
1 tbsp. Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350.

  1. Use two of the pitas.  I slice them into 8s with a pizza slicer.  Place them on an aluminum lined baking sheet (easy clean up!). 
  2. Put the olive oil, crush your garlic clove, sea salt (Avoid table salt) pepper and any other spice you'd like in a dish.  If it's easier, you can use seasoning salt.  Mix with your pastry brush. 
  3. Brush the pita chips with the olive oil mixture.  Place in oven for 8-10 minutes until they start to brown.  Take them out and let them sit to cool.  When they cool, they will crispen.
(Unfortunately, they don't store well, so eat them all up.  I find when they store they get soft.)

Wa-la. You are done.  Throw away the aluminum foil and you don't even have much clean up!

Here is my lunch today (see photo below):
  • 2 pitas made into homemade chips: 120 calories
  • Two tbsp. Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: 60 calories
  • 1 cup colored bell peppers: 50 calories
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese: 90 calories
  • The 1 tablespoon of olive oil: 120 calories

(Olive oil is GOOD fat.  But remember, eat it in moderation! It can help lower cholesterol and reduce other risks. For more info: )

440 calories.   These are ALL healthy calories.


Today's Tip:
Keep measuring spoons and cups within an easy grasp in the kitchen and measure everything.  In our culture we OVEREAT because we do not pay attention to proper portion sizes.  After a while. you will understand what an appropriate portion looks like.

Also, if you're trying to lose weight:
How many calories do you need?
Find out how many calories you need to lose weight.  I used the myfitnesspal app.  It was so helpful.  I learned a ton about foods by using it.  I needed 1,200 calories a day during my "cutting back" stage.  That was a goal and some days I met it and some days I was slightly over.  Know how many calories you are eating everyday, even if it's just an estimate. 

**Please remember I am not a dietician nor a nutritionist.  Seek advice from your doctor before starting any fitness/diet routine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Everyday Eating for Health and How I came to Change my Ways

Two years ago, in the late summer, my grandfather came to my house to help me install new countertop, sink, faucets and a dishwasher.  My grandfather has always been the man in my life, the steadfast, the rock.  He is a giant of a man both physically and emotionally.  When they say people will give you the shirt off their back, my grandfather would give you his pants, socks and underwear too.  Still in his 70s, he cuts his own firewood, feeds his cows, mows lawns, builds porches and basically has not let his age be an impediment.  I love him and have made an effort to be like him all my life.  He believes that we lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  We should strive for integrity and honor in all we do.  And so, when I needed to install the new countertop, asking for him to show me how to do it and spending that time with him was an easy choice.

I had no idea he had gotten so weak.  Living 40 minutes away and being so busy, I hadn't gotten the chance to see him in a while.  I watched as he sweat and struggled as we cut the countertop multiple times to get it to fit right.  He seemed sluggish and weary.  I did not understand how this could happen to my dearest love.

One month after the countertop installation, he had a heart attack.  My life changed in that moment, in many ways, one of which was to change my health.  The other change I made was to place one foot in front of the other toward my dreams, making them reachable goals.   If this man who was a hero to me could fall, then I must step up.  I needed to be better than I was, become the potential that was always there.  I needed to stop making excuses.  I had something inside me struggling to get out and I had tried all sorts of ways to smother that something, but no more.  It was time to live.  Time to LIVE for health, for happiness, for honor.

I am sharing with you today some basics.  Easy changes I made that I did research to discover what worked best for me.  I should tell you that one of the first things I did was find out my body type.  My body works best when I cut down on carbs.... although this works for everyone, there are different body types and you should find out yours.  This will also help you for exercises. 
Basically there are 3 types:
  • ectomorphs (think models,  thin and high metabolisms)
  • mesomorphs (this is me, medium frames, usually athletic, gains and loses both muscle and fat fast and easily)
  • endomorphs, which is most women (softer, rounder and fuller women, can gain and lose muscle but must be consistent). 
Google the type you are and find out the best work outs for you... or keep on my blog and I will be writing some work out plans for you too :)

Today is only day one.  If you can't follow all today's advice, follow what works for you. Any change, no matter how small, is change :)

First, this does not get a number because it's so important.  If you want to live longer, try your best to follow this rule:


Processed food needs to be cut back as much as possible!  It has been made to MAKE YOU CRAVE MORE.  It is LOADED with salts, fake fillers, and sugars.  If you are buying food that comes in a box , can, or in a package, look at the list of ingredients.  If there are more than 4 ingredients and you can't pronounce them, put it back down (that's what I teach my kids).... It is BAD for you.  100 Calorie SNACK PACKS ARE BAD!!!  YOU have NO idea how difficult it is for me to walk away from Pringles, but I do it almost every time haha (I have caved and bought them. I'm only human).  I try to remember that if it's not in my house, I don't eat it.  Don't tempt yourself.

Ok, so here we go:
1.  Cut out the overindulgence of pasta.  I know, you want to punch me in the face right about now.  It's up to you how you live your life, not me.  Cut back eating anything that has unenriched or bleached anything.  Whole grains are ok, but if you want to lose weight, cutting back is essential.  WE are over eaters of pasta in this culture.  We do NOT eat enough veggies.    If this is hard for you, cut back to once a week.  Make Sunday(or whatever day) your pasta day.  I eat quinoa and brown rice.

2.  Cut out white starch as much as possible.  STOP over eating white potatoes (yeah that means french fries) and the bread with 78 ingredients.  I do eat bread and it's the Sara Lee bread.  It has 35 calories per slice.  I also eat the pita bread.  It's the "Joseph's Flax Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Pita Bread" with 60 calories per pita and only 4 carbs (if you're counting carbs).  You can find this in front of the deli at Wal Mart.  They sell larger and smaller sizes.  Sweet potatoes are good.

3.  Eat constantly through the day (again, this has worked for me and my body type).  Some things I keep in my desk at school when I get hungry as a grab and go are: almonds, walnuts, homemade granola, intense dark chocolates, pistachios, cheerios... and eat breakfast.  During the school year, I eat oatmeal with honey everyday. I have read some research that suggests eating throughout the day does not help.  I think there's research that will prove just about anything you want to prove....  What's key is to eat when you're hungry but don't overindulge.

4.  Cut out sugar as much as possible.  I personally LOVE LOVE LOVE sweets, so this was hardest for me.  I still eat a lot of sweets, but when I get a craving, I go with real sugars, (fruits that I love like cherries) or dark, dark chocolates.  If you must use sugar, measure what you're using.  Try slowly cutting back the amount. In baking, find recipes that have substitutes for sugar.  Do NOT use fake sugar and think you're making a good choice. I've done a ton of research on fake sugar and it's not healthy at all, and will actually hurt your weight loss because it bogs down your liver so NO FAKE SUGARS! 

Ok, I have more pointers, but that's enough for now. I don't want you to get overwhelmed :)
So here is a photo of what I bought at the grocery store for one week.  I shop at Aldi primarily because as we all know fresh fruits and veggies are expensive.  I also make an extra trip to WalMart or Price Chopper etc for a couple other items.

So, here's this list from Aldi from the photo above:
1.  Eggs.  I eat boiled eggs almost every day during the school year.  They are great protein and fill you up.
2. Avocado.  I hated them at first, but again, great fillers and good fats.  I eat them right out of the skins.  I usually eat 2 a week.
3. Fruits: Bananas, little cuties, grapes, pineapples. I eat as much as I want during the day with the exception of bananas.  Only one of those per day max. 
4.  Nuts: Walnuts and pecans
5. Veggies:  Eat a ton of this, more than fruits.  Beets (buy fresh not canned, I steam them), celery,  cukes, sweet baby peppers, kale (great as a chip for a snack)
6. Flat bread (check the labels on these. Some "seem" good, but they are not.)
7. Cheese sticks
8. Mozzarella cheese
9. Soy Milk (I DO NOT drink regular milk anymore)
10. Peanut Butter (REAL, not fake).  And no, not nutella haha.
11.  I usually buy Tilapia, tuna fish, but here in the photo is only ground turkey.  Avoid meats. They are loaded with processed ingredients that are slowly killing you.  I usually only have a couple meals a weeks with "met" such as chicken or fish. 
12. Sweet potatoes.  No, you may not load them up with brown sugar and butter.... sorry!
13.  Also not in the photo, but you can get at Aldi, is BROWN RICE.  Switch to that over pasta.  Easy to cook. 
14.  Often sold at Aldi that I buy weekly where it's available is V-8 juice, low sodium kind. I drink one of the SMALL ones a day during the work week.

I know a lot of you are wondering what the hell I eat for dinner.  Like I said, I have much more to tell you, but I can't do it all at once!! I will do my best to put together a meal plan for you as soon as I get the chance.  Please feel free to call, text, message me on facebook if you want more help. 

Getting healthy is your first step to loving yourself.  Your body is your temple.   It's not who you are, that's on the inside.  But without your body, you don't exist.  You need to take care of that temple... What kind of maintenance are you doing?

Namaste, friends.