Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Feel the Burn

Let me just put this out there right now…I hate exercise.  I know that some people love it, my sister and husband included, but I’ve never seen the appeal.  And don’t think it’s because I just haven’t experienced it.  I have.  I’ve sampled my share of physically exerting activities over the years.

When I was in the fourth grade I did a summer of gymnastics which, after landing on my back one too many times made me want to pop my back into place for the rest of my life.  When I was 13 my mom took my sister and me along with her to do Body and Soul aerobics classes which was the closest I ever got to dance lessons.  When I was a freshman in high school I attempted a summer on a swim team, but hated needing to throw up after each heat.  My senior year I tried out for the volleyball team in an attempt to make new friends at a new school.  Who new Keds weren’t the best choice in footwear when attempting a rigourous all day tryout?  As a result, I slipped a disk and had to miss the first week of my senior year because I was literally flat on my back.  As a consolation prize, I was offered the position of….team manager.  As a Sophmore in college I signed up for racquetball as one of my P.E. electives.  My “professor/coach” commented, “You really aren’t naturally athletic are you.”  When I met my husband he talked me into signing up for Crossfit, something that has helped him physically and mentally.  I tried it but, aside from it being astronomically expensive, I just didn’t feel feminine doing dead lifts and I was terrified of bulking up. 

Which bring me to my next subject, I hate it when trainers tell you that it’s impossible to bulk up as a woman because we lack the necessary testosterone to do so.  I’ve seen plenty of women at the gym that despite looking fit, have very bulky legs.  Being one of those women who have been cursed with “curvy” legs, I have been wary of the gym.  Which led me on my quest to discover the types of exercises for women that will give you more of a “Bond girl” look rather than muscle mania.  Then I hit the jackpot.  I came across a blog written by RustyMoore.  You can check out his blog Visual Impact.  Finally someone who acknowledges what I and other women have for years been fearing!  He does a great job of explaining which gym equipment to embrace (think treadmill and elliptical) and which to avoid (bike, stair master) if you’re going for a lean look.  He also talks about the importance of diet and even breaks down how different diets work and why.  Hint: any diet you try will work as long as you’re on it, but you get to figure out which one fits your food personality.

So all of this is to say that once again, I will be attempting to hit the gym tonight.  I have my audiobook downloaded, my Nike’s laced and the hope that this time, I just might get it right.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Body Positivity is Ticking Me Off....

Has anyone noticed lately that you can’t make a comment on a woman’s appearance without being accused of “body shaming?”  Along with this, have you noticed the trend where we’re now praising women’s largess as being “real”, “brave,” and “authentic?”  Welcome to the new body positivity movement people.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been an avid reader of celebrity gossip magazines and I’ve seen enough unflattering beach photos of Kim Kardashian and Kate Moss to know that the glossy covers taken at a fancy New York fashion shoot is not true reality.  I know that uploaded Instagram photos have been Face Tuned and filtered.  I think by this time, everyone knows that people do not live in a perpetual halo of good lighting.  We’re not ignorant of this because these tools are available to us mere mortals too and we use it to our advantage.  I’ve come to the conclusion that no one looks as good as their online profile pictures.  We’re all big fat liars people!  But, I also think that giving yourself the “body positivity” excuse of “not shaming” may not actually be helping us become the best version of ourselves.  We don’t read glossy magazines because we believe that is reality, we read them to have something to dream and aspire to.  Because if we don’t have a goal to try to strive for, what are we left with? 

For the folk’s that do “fat shame,” they might self-righteously sniff and say that they’re just worried about a bigger girl’s size because of “their health,” but let me tell you…. this is a lie.  We could care less if you’re healthy, we want you to suffer for beauty.  After all anorexia and binge eating are two different sides of the coin when it comes to eating disorders, yet the thin woman will get sympathy and the fat woman will receive scorn.  Any other way would just be unfair because in order to receive the gift of beauty an exchange must be made, just as the Little Mermaid had to trade her voice for legs.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch.  You can either be comfortable and average or tortured and special.  Subconciously, we all believe that in order to be beautiful and worthy of admiration that it must be earned with the discomfort of strenuous exercise and hunger pains.

Yet, if body positivity is simply loving the best version of yourself, regardless of whether or not your personal best fits inside the cultural ideal, than I’m all about it.  I know that no matter what size I am, I’m not going to change my muscular legs for the long willowy ones of a ballerina.  Britney Spears and Kate Middleton are both beautiful, but have 2 completely different body types and it would be pointless for either of these women to try to become the other.  However, taking overweight women and putting them on a pedestal and praising their “realness” is the same as giving every kid a trophy for just showing up at the game, but refusing to play.  It’s pointless and cheapens the efforts of others.  That’s not to say that anyone ever has the right to be cruel about anyone else’s looks either.  I mean if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.  But just because you don’t fit a standard of beauty doesn’t mean you’ve earned a trophy for being less than.  Because only unicorn get to have their cake and eat it too.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Halo Top Ice Cream Diet

Here's a link to the most hilarious post about the Halo Top Ice Cream diet.  Enjoy

End of August Results....Drumroll Please....

It's the end of August and I can already feel the chill of Fall in the air.  Where did the summer go?  It also signals the end of my month long, sugar free experiment.  Drum roll please.

The Results

I'm not going to lie, going sugar free was not fun in the slightest.  Strangely, I also started craving sugary things that I never really craved before when I just ate whatever I wanted.  I became obsessed with the thought of ice cream for some reason.  I did have some slip ups, but by the end of the month I had lost 4 pounds and gone down a percentage in body fat.  The results probably would have been more dramatic if I had actually kept to the experiment flawlessly, but indulging in a little sugar kept me sane and I think that my family values my niceness over my jean size.

My Conclusion

The only thing that all diets have in common are basically these things, eat more vegetables and eat less sugar.  There, in a nutshell is the key my friends to dieting.  I'm not going to adopt a 100% sugar free lifestyle, because I actually don't believe it's all that bad for you in moderation.  I also don't want my children's future memoirs to complain that their friends never wanted to come over to our house because "Mom didn't believe in sugar so instead we played at Jennifer's house because they bought twinkies."  

That's not to say that I'm done with experimenting though.  Life would just get boring if I didn't have something to obsess over so I picked up the book The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.  It's basically a slow carb eating plan that gives you a glorious cheat day once a week and you don't count calories.  Losing weight while not being hungry and binging one day a week?  Bring it on.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

What I Learned From Intermitten Fasting

I'm always up for a new dieting adventure and intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity in the fitness world.  But, really, everything makes sense in theory so I had to try it out for myself to see how it worked in the real world.    The thing that appealed to me about fasting in general was that no food was off limits and no calories or macros were being tracked.  It was just simple feast or famine and the simplicity of it gave me hope that this might be the magic bullet that I've been searching for.

The 24 Hour Fast

A couple months ago I read the e-book Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon.  He explained that what we've been told in the past about eating small frequent meals through out the day to keep our metabolisms going keeps us in a constant state of "fed" and we aren't giving our bodies enough time to be in a fat burning "fasted" state hence why we aren't losing weight as a society.  Instead, he proposed to do periodic 24 hour fasts each week lasting from 1 to 3 non consecutive days in order to reach a weight loss goal.  In our fasted state our bodies would use the body's stored sugar and glucose first, and once depleted, would go straight for the fat stores.  Just by not eating for 12 plus hours we were essentially turning out bodies into walking talking fat burning furnaces.

How it Went

I was excited to commence with the fat burning so with high hopes and black coffee, I started my first 24 hour fast with delusions of six pack abs running through my head.  I had started my fast at 7 PM the night before so by 7 AM I was already half way there and I had slept for most of it.  I could do this.  I was ready.  I really didn't feel the first twinges of hunger until 10 AM.  Unfortunately, my office is filled with foodies that love to order takeout and eat it in front of their computer screens filling our communal work area with the aromas of first, breakfast sandwiches, then for lunch Chinese takeout.  It was torture.  By 5:00 PM I was starting to experience a tension in my head that could only be described as a headache, which I never get, and I told myself to just muscle through it for another 2 hours.  When 7:00 PM hit I was inhaling food indiscriminately and thanking God that fasting was over....until the next fasting day.  Wait...what?  I have to do this again?

I thought that maybe this whole fasting window needed some tweaking and after reading David Zinczenko's book The 8 Hour Diet I realized that maybe doing a daily feeding window of 8 hours was more my style of fasting.  You basically choose an hour window to eat your daily meals and after your self imposed cutoff time, you fast until then next day's window opens up.  This was easier to do, yet after a week of perfect 8 hour eating windows my body did some funny things to me.  I won't get graphic here, but when you mess with a woman's hormones through dieting, you just may not get the most pleasant results.  They include 3 weeks worth of Playtex.

My Conclusion
I do see the logic and the science behind intermittent fasting and I did end up losing about a pound that first week, but I also found that fasting gave me the mindset of allowing myself to eat crap during my feeding window as my "reward" for fasting which kinda negates the entire point of getting healthy.  I also think that, as a woman, you have to be really careful when you mess with hormones.  I figured that in the long run, cutting sugar would be more beneficial vs. cutting meals.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


I know that this blog is supposed to be dedicated to the pursuit of a sugar free month, but allow me to  diverge into actual fun territory for a bit.  I've encountered a pocket of true bliss today and I want to share the love.  Today someone did my grocery shopping for me while I slaved away, chained to my desk.  Introducing Instacart.  From the comfort of my desk at work, or an app on my phone, I can order groceries and they deliver it to my work or home. 

The whole reason why this was even a big deal was due to the fact that my daughter wanted red velvet cupcakes for her birthday dinner tonight and apparently red velvet is a seasonal flavor that isn't carried in bakeries during the summer months.  So much for picking them up on my way home.  I was trying to figure out how the heck I was going to churn out a 10 hour work day, stop by the grocery store, make dinner AND bake and ice said cupcakes and have enough time to also take the kids to the arcade where her party is tonight.  Enter Instacart.  I asked my 13 year old daughter if she would be willing to make the cupcakes if I had the groceries delivered and she was more than up for it being that it's the summer, she's bored, and likes to bake. 

The first order was free delivery so I just paid for the actual groceries, but for future shopping orders it would run about $5.00 a delivery or I could go all out and sign up for their Instacart Express program which would come out to $15 a month or $149 a year and all the delivery charges on future orders would be covered.  Almost like an Amazon Prime subscription.  Who knows, maybe I would end up saving money by letting someone else simply pick up the items on my grocery list instead of me going into the grocery store and being lured by all of the yummy things not on my list.  Anyway,  if you want to save $10 and get free delivery on your first order use code BGANZBD1A3 to get started!

What Would Gwyneth Do?

I'm starting to realize that going sugar free for a month sucks.  It's insane how strong a sugar craving can be.  I can literally eat a full meal, and even knowing that I have plenty of food in my stomach, still feel hungry for "something else."  The real downside to this is that I end up eating another piece of fruit to satisfy the craving and I wonder if a piece of dark chocolate would end up being less calories than the apple or pear that I just ate.  The smell of the fruit loops that I pour in my son's cereal bowl is a torture of my own making and I now see sugar everywhere the same way a pregnant woman spots other pregnant bellies out and about.

So this got me thinking, why does a body crave things?  I've always believed that your body craves the things that it needs.  So does your body need sugar?  I know the great Gwyneth Paltrow would probably say she'd rather snort cocaine than eat a cookie...or was that eat cheese out of a can...whatever...she wouldn't like it either way.  But, then again maybe she's just cranky from not having had a cookie since she became the high priestess of GOOP

So after my exhaustive research on the internet I've come to this conclusion.  Our bodies DO need sugar....just not FROM sugar.  Cane sugar actually has no nutritional value by itself and really doesn't do anything for us other than make our lives blissfully sweeter and is part of pretty much every happy food memory I own.  But, alas, we can live without it because if we eat a balanced diet, our body will take the sugar it needs to function from the normal every day foods that we eat.  When I took on the sugar free August experiment I knew that I wouldn't be in danger of depriving my body of any key nutrients that say, going dairy free or going vegan might do to me.  I know that my body would just take the sugars it needed from my normal meals.  But, let me tell you, I'm starting to wonder which is better; a smaller pant size or a sugar coma.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Today is day 8 in my sugar free experiment and I’m starting to feel the payoff.  I stepped on the scale today and was down .3% in body fat and 1 pound on the scale so that was a satisfying baby step.  I’m doing a little tweaking too.  I still believe in the benefits of intermittent fasting, but I think doing a daily 8/16 fast was messing with my hormones, so I’ve modified it to eating normally throughout the day (sans sugar) and just cutting myself off at 7:00 PM.  I usually end dinner then and go to bed around 10 so I’m not really hungry by the time I go to sleep.  Then I usually have my standard coffee with cream from Dunkin Donuts at 7 AM, a slice of Ezekiel bread with avocado for breakfast around 8 AM and the rest of the day just eat when I’m hungry.  So far it seems to be working and I’m not counting calories.

Fun fact: Supposedly, toasting your bread instead of eating it fresh changes the molecular structure of your bread, lowering its glycemic index.  At least that’s what a May 2008 "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" study says.  I like my avacado toast so I’ll concur with that.

But man, do I miss cookies.  Today we had Chick-Fil-A cater an office luncheon and they passed around this tray of chocolate chip cookies the size of my face.  I just gazed at them promising myself that as soon as September 1st rolls around I’m driving straight to Chick-Fil-A and eating one of those cookies.  Then I’ll probably drive across the street to Starbucks to pair it with a flat white.  Because that’s how I roll.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Calories Vs. Hormones

How is it that you can take a group of 10 women, feed them the exact amount of calories, make them sweat for exactly the same amount of cardio, and you’ll get 10 different outcomes in how their body responds?  Ever since we were introduced to the idea of calories in calories out it seemed like a person’s weight could be broken down to a simple thermodynamic principle.  If it takes exactly 3,500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat, then simply reducing 3,500 from your weekly eating would result in a scientifically promised outcome of 1 pound of weight loss per week.  Easy peasy right? 

Except there’s a flaw with this theory.  While calorie expenditure can be accurately measured using a calorimeter, the human body is not a simple closed container.  We can easily measure the amount of calories going in, but we really can’t measure the amount of calories going out.  There’s a whole bunch of factors that determine how our bodies actually use that calorie that we ingested including our BMR (basal metabolic rate) and how our hormones, specifically insulin and cortisol react to the calorie.  A calorimeter doesn’t have a thyroid.

I knew that some people had a harder time at losing and keeping weight off than others and whenever I overheard someone being snarky and saying that certain people were just lazy and lacked self-control inside I bristled.  My grandmother wasn’t lazy, yet she was always a large woman.  I ate the same amount of food as my little sister, yet she had to sweat it out in the gym to stay slim, while I hated exercise.  So what made some people naturally thin and others naturally larger?

I just came across Dr. Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code and it’s totally changed how I view eating.  He says that insulin, not calories, is the main determining factor in how our bodies store fat.  For instance, if you take 3 people, a Type 1 diabetic, a Type 2 diabetic, and a person without diabetes and feed them all the same amount of calories, you will get 3 very different outcomes.  The type 1 diabetic doesn’t have any insulin to help process the sugar in his food and without an insulin shot will eventually pee out the sugar, waste away, and die.  A person with Type 2 diabetes has too much insulin so the sugar that he ingests will mainly be stored as fat because that’s what insulin does.  The person without diabetes will burn some fat and store some fat based on his BMR.  I know this is way oversimplified, but it’s just to prove a point that we’ve been focusing on calories, when we should be focusing on insulin.  More specifically, the kinds of calories that affect our insulin which in this case is sugar.  So here’s the next question, if lowing insulin is our goal, how do we do that?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Tale of Two Grandma's

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for bigger people and I believe it’s all due to my grandma Sanders.  Grandma Sanders was soft and fluffy.  I never remember a day where she was ever skinny and I was ok with that.  She didn’t need to be.  I also knew even as a child, before knowing the science of exactly why, that you didn’t necessarily have to eat a lot of calories in order to be fat.  I never saw my grandmother eat a ton of food, yet even when she would try to cut calories, she would lose some weight, then gain it back.  All I knew was that some people are thin and some people are big and the reason why was a mystery to us all.  I knew that when I was a child my grandmother had to have her thyroid removed and since then had to take thyroid medication for the rest of her life.  She had suffered from hypothyroidism in her young adult years and it had even made it difficult to conceive, yet surprisingly she didn’t gain much weight during her pregnancies.  She said that the baby’s thyroid functioned for the both of them which I don’t know if that’s scientifically accurate, but I’m glad that it worked out that way.

On my dad’s side I had grandmother Rathbone.  Ironically, this grandmother had the exact opposite condition, hyperthyroidism, which made gaining weight difficult for her and she always seemed a little jittery to me.  Grandmother Rathbone was small and thin like a bird.  Her hair and clothes were always immaculate and her house was spotlessly clean.  My dad would take me for the occasional visit and she would offer me unsweetened ice tea that tasted bitter to my young pallet and I would sit on her pristine white sofa and gaze at her pretty things to entertain myself.  The air always had a mixed odor of wine and dignified dust like at a library.  There were no toys…or food…or comfort for me there. 

I have a vivid memory of leaving grandmother Rathbone’s house to go back to grandma Sanders cluttered, yet homey house.  As soon as a walked through the door I was hit with the aroma of fried chicken and could hear the pan of hot oil sizzling in the kitchen.  I was home and I relaxed in the assurance that good food, lovingly made, would be provided for me here.  I still to this day equate food with comfort and love.

I still believe that food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  I know that whenever I’m happy I eat and whenever I want to celebrate I use food to do it.  I’ll never be the kind of person that will only see food as fuel, but I also don’t want to eat that brownie in order for “it” to make me happy.  I want to just be happy with or without it.

Day One

It’s 10:06 AM right now, I have an hour before I get to have my first meal, and I’ve been hungry for the past 2 hours.  If I could choose any kind of breakfast today with magic non existent calories, I would have a tall flat white from Starbucks and a croissant with avocado, egg, and bacon.  Maybe a little cheese, but I don’t like it when the cheese overpowers the sandwich.  Today I start on my sugar free month.  I’ve packed strawberries to help ward off any sugar cravings and I think I still have a cold gala apple in the fridge that would go great with peanut butter.  I know that peanut butter probably has sugar in it, but I’m rationalizing that since it has the redeeming qualities of protein and fiber, it won’t cause too much damage.  This experiment isn’t about punishment after all, it’s trying to figure out the effects of eliminating added refined sugars blatantly touted as indulgent fare.  Everything has sugar in it after all.

Feel the Burn

Let me just put this out there right now…I hate exercise.   I know that some people love it, my sister and husband included, but I...