Archive for the ‘Weight Control’ Category

Still hanging on!

Back on November 15th I started on my lifestyle change and took a little quiz to determine my level of health. I had scored between a 4 and 5, which is not so healthy since the ideal number was 10. Now that I have been on this crusade for almost a full month I decided to retest myself. By drinking more water, making a conscious effort to eat more fruits and veggies, and by eliminating alcohol I am now at a score of 7.

Although that is not perfect, I do feel better knowing that I have moved up on the health scale. My goals had been simply to consume more “good things” (fruits, veggies, water) and less “bad things” (salt, alcohol, white carbs). How did I go from not having any fruit and very little veggies to getting the day’s needed amount? Well I sprinkled berries on my cereal in the morning, had bananas, oranges, apples and grapes as snacks instead of my usual chips, candy, etc., added additional veggies on top of my salad at lunch, had 100% vegetable soaps in veggie broth, and added steamed veggies into my daily diet. I also started drinking 100% (anything less doesn’t qualify as a veggie serving) vegetable juice. That is really gross, but it works if I know I’m not going to be eating a veggie anytime soon.

My biggest accomplishment was eliminating alcohol from my diet. As an alcoholic I was drinking almost daily, with a couple days of complete binge drinking. Although I’ve only been completely sober for 13 consecutive days, it as made a difference. My husband thinks my skin looks better and I am really enjoying the non-hangover lifestyle.

So what’s next? My goals now will to be to try to control my sweet tooth. I say try to control instead of eliminate because there is no way for me to eliminate sweets. I won’t lie to myself or to you…I cannot give up treats. I love, love, LOVE desserts. But my problem is that I emotionally consume treats. If I’m bored I find myself wanting to bake (doesn’t help that it’s the holiday season!), if I am sad I want chocolate, If I am stressed I want candy…It is terrible. So my goal is to consume these devilish goodies in moderation as well as finding other ways to relieve my emotions. So much easier said than done, so I need to get even more specific: I will only consume one treat a day and never go back for seconds. (I have a big problem with going back for more.) I know from a nutritional stand point, a treat a day is still pretty bad but I need to be realistic. Right now I am consuming probably 5 treats a day, easily. Sneak a piece of chocolate here, another one there, try a cookie here, have a hot cocoa there, a piece of pie after dinner…see there’s 5 servings of delicious badness. I’m also going to try to have “good treats.” Meaning maybe instead of a Oreo McFlurry I’ll have a yogurt parfait, or instead of a piece of chocolate cake I’ll have a banana split. Seriously anyway I can be healthier without giving up my desserts I will try.

As for another way to handle my emotions? I know what’s next. EXERCISE. Shudder. I know this because time and time again I hear from numerous sources that working out is the best way to cure boredom, create endorphins, decrease stress, etc. I know, I know. But really, giving up sweets and working out? One thing at a time please! After I can control my sweet tooth I’ll tackle exercise. If reading my blog hasn’t yet told you, I am a seriously, professional lazy person. The best lazy person you will ever meet. I can sleep for hours if you let me. I can wear the same sweatpants for days. I have no idea how to even begin to incorporate exercise. So that will definitely be a task to conquer…later.

Have a great weekend!

 

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Who will win tonight?

Being healthy is one thing. Being sober is another. Who knew that the hardest part of my week would be giving up booze? (And it’s only Wednesday.)  All my other goals I am on track with. It’s just this not drinking thing that’s really making me want to rip my face off. How do normal people only consume alcohol in moderation?

Here’s the real dilemma: Tonight I am going to the Minnesota Wild hockey game where I will be surrounded by beer guys shouting out insanities like “Cold beer! Who wants a cold beer? I got your cold beer!” Damn those insensitive jerks. What am I to do? As if the smell of overly large soft pretzels with fake cheese isn’t bad enough, now I have to resist from the juice too? Why did I do this to myself.

Oh yeah I remember. Because I don’t want liver damage. What I’ve done to my liver thus far as well as the rest of my body is near suicide. My poor liver deserves a trophy…whatta champ. It’s time for me to give something back to my body, like health. So here goes. Let’s see if resistance is one of my talents. Go Wild!

“Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.” – Frederick William Faber

Thirsty?

I like to read books. Especially one’s that give me useful information. As I was strolling through the library for unnecessary reading material not for school, I stumbled upon “Drink this, Not that.” I love these “Eat this, Not that” books so of course I was intrigued. Here’s some useful information I think we can all use, especially us alcoholics.

If you are going to drink vegetable juice or use some in your Bloody Marys, V8 is always best. V8 is actually better for you than real straight up tomato juice even. Why? Because it includes an expansive list of nutrients and an 8-ounce glass provides two servings of fruits and vegetables. This is heaven to my ears since I can’t even find it in myself to put tomatoes on my sandwich. More interesting? V8 Fusion is tastier but still good for you. It’s 50 calories per serving and each calorie comes from a blend of sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, pomegranates and blueberries. Nice. One more interesting thing? V8 Splash is bad for you. The book says it is “unfit to carry the V8 brand name. It’s made with artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup and a pathetic 10% juice.” Of course V8 Splash was the one I liked, but that’s just how my life has been going lately.

Another devastating blow? Rice milk is bad for you too. Fudge me. I don’t really enjoy drinking cow milk because I love my dairy cows but I do love the taste of cow’s milk. That’s why I love rice milk. It tastes just like skim milk and I always thought it was awesome that it was made from rice…how healthy! Nope. The book crushed all my dreams by telling me “You can’t expect the milk to be more nutritious than the grain that produced it, and that rule is best illustrated by rice milk. Rice consists of mostly starch, a carbohydrate that quickly breaks down to sugar in the body. Likewise, rice milk is the most carbohydrate-rich of all common nondairy milks.” Sweet. I’ve been DRINKING my carbs too! Wow. I’m an idiot.  So now my husband can say “told you so!” since he’s been trying to convert me to almond milk for months. Husband 1 Wife 0. Damnit.

Now, onto the important stuff: beer.

If you are going to drink Domestic beer my lovely Rolling Rock Extra is a winner! Hallelujah! It is one of the lowest calorie beers. 132 calories to be exact. You want better than that? I gotchu. My favorite grandma drink that everyone makes fun of me for drinking is Michelob Ultra. But I don’t care because it only has 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs. Holla! Miller Lite is pretty awesome too, at 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs. The lowest though is MGD 64 (Miller Genuine Draft 64) at 64 calories and 2.4 grams of carbs. How come no one has introduced us before? Now if you want your fancy imported beer, the “healthiest” beer is going to be Becks Light, which is pretty good I have to say myself and has 64 calories and 4 grams of carbs. Another good one? Yummy Amstel Light at 95 calories and 5 grams of carbs.

That was the best of the best. Here’s the worst of the worst. For Domestics, Budweiser American Ale is your worst enemy. A bottle carries 182 calories and 18.1 g of carbs. Holy guacamole. My husband’s fave Sam Adams Boston Lager comes in second at 170 calories and 18 g carbs. Ha! Husband 1, Wife 1. For light beer drinkers Michelob Light is the worst at 123 calories and 8.8 carbs. You might as well switch to my Ultra. Also bad? Bud Light and Bud Light Lime. For imports Guinness Extra Stout (176 cals, 14 carbs) and Heineken (166 cals, 9.8 carbs) were the worst. Corona also made the bad list. Sadness.

If you are intrigued so far, you should get the book because I only highlighted what was important to me. I thankfully don’t consume coffee, pop, tea or juice. Most other people do, so this book explains and compares many gazillion brands of drinks. It also goes into wine and spirits. 😉 Also important to me, but I don’t have all day to write about alcohol. Maybe if someone paid me. Anyways, get the book because it’s awesome. It runs about $20 at the bookstore or be cheap like me and get it at the library. For those of you unwilling to spend $20 on a book but have accidentally gone to the bar when it wasn’t Happy Hour and spent $20 on two margaritas, you may want to reevaluate your priorities. Not judging, just saying from one alcoholic to another.

Cheers!

Are you on my level?

Here we go all. Day 1 of my lifestyle change. So as if it’s not already bad enough that it’s Monday and I have a night class tonight, I also am embarking on healthy eating. So far? Blah! Breakfast consisted of bran cereal that tasted like literally nothing with almond milk. (I used to be a HUGE avocet of rice milk…but more about that later.) So far, so bland. But that’s alright. It’s a step in the right direction. I may even eat a fruit for my morning snack today. Yes sir, you read it here first, I am going to eat a piece of fruit. (For any of you who don’t really know me, I am a vegetarian that eats very little vegetables. And almost no fruit. The fruitiest thing in my diet is wine.)

So as I jump forth into this new territory of conscious eating I had to have some sort of backbone and goal to motivate me through this. I found a pretty cool book called “Eating for Health” which is part of the Teach Yourself series and is written by Sara Kirkham. In it I found a little quiz that tells you which level you are at on the “health scale.” At one end of the spectrum, 1 is Junk and 10 is Optimum Nutrition. Ideally you want to be at a 10. I am between a 4 and 5. That’s freaking’ terrible.

Anyways, the chapter goes on to describe how to achieve a 10, or at least how to try to achieve a 10. Our bodies, as well as any other changes we want to achieve, can only adjust in stages. So I need to make realistic goals. I can only aim to make a few changes to move to the next level. Bottom line…I’m not going to be at 10 by the end of the week. So what realistic goals do I have for this week?
1. No alcohol.
2. Consume at least one serving of fruit and at least two servings of veggies a day. (We’re suppose to eat like 5+ servings of this stuff a day, but hey, I said realistic goals.)
3. No white icky carbs like donuts, cakes, etc.
4. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
5. No use of the salt shaker.

Let’s see how today goes. I already am bored, but I need to redirect my thinking. I eat to live, not live to eat! Here’s the quiz from the book…see what level you’re at!

How many servings of fruit and vegetables do you eat a day?
a. One or less, and unlikely to be fresh
b. 2-3
c. 4-5
d. 5+

How much water do you drink each day?
a. none
b. only if I am thirsty, or in coffee and tea
c. A couple glasses a day
d. 8+ glasses

What sort of carbs do you eat?
a. Croissants, doughnuts, cakes
b. French bread, white bread, white rice
c. Grain breads
d. Whole wheat/whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta

What type of proteins do you eat regularly?
a. Ground beef, processed deli meats, hot dogs
b. Yogurts, milk, cheese, meat products such as bacon and sausage
c. Mainly red meats including pork, lamb
d. Mainly fresh fish, soy, nuts, and/or some organic meat

What types of fat do you consume?
a. Lard, salad dressings, sauces, margarine, a lot of refined fats (biscuits, pastries, etc.)
b. Butter, vegetable oils, limited amount of refined fats
c. Vegetable oils for cooking, low fat spreads
d. Olive oil for cooking, vegetable oils for salads, no refined fats

Which of the following fibers do you eat regularly?
a. White bread, breakfast cereals (think typical kid’s cereals)
b. Bran
c. Whole wheat cereals, oatmeal
d. Fruit, veggies, brown rice, oats

How much alcohol do you drink?
a. Above 8 (10 for men) drinks weekly, drinking either every day or binge drinking on weekends
b. Between 6 to 8 (8 to 10 for men) a week
c. Between 3 to 6 for either sex
d. Under 3 a week

How many drinks of coffee, tea, or pop do you drink each day?
a. Over 6 cups (are you crazy?)
b. 3-5 cups
c. 1-2 cups
d. None

How often do you eat sweets, refined convenience/ready-made foods?
a. In every meal or several times a day
b. At least once a day
c. Few times a week
d. Rarely

How many meals do you eat each day?
a. I often miss meals and have coffee and/or snacks instead
b. One of two meals, I usually miss breakfast and eat more later in the day
c. Usually 3 meals a day, including breakfast
d. I eat throughout the day including breakfast and healthy snacks

 

How’d ya score?

Mostly a’s: Place on the optimum nutrition scale: 2-3. You do need to change your diet. You need to limit the use of convenience foods, reducing salt and sugar intake, and drinking less coffee, tea and/or alcohol. Increase your servings of fruit and vegetables and eat regularly through out the day.

Mostly b’s: 4-5. Some changes need to be made. Look at the questions which you answered b or a and try to improve specifically on those areas. Altering different areas of your diet slowly without too many drastic changes is the best way to adopt a healthy diet and improve your health.

Mostly c’s: 6-7. You eat better than most people but would still benefit from a few more changes. Most of your diet is fairly healthy but you may want to cut back on coffee, tea, alcohol or sugar. Address specific questions that you answered a, b, or c to.

Mostly d’s: 7+ Well done. You are already close to eating an optimum nutrient diet. Look back at the questions you answered a, b, or c to and improve on those particular aspects of your diet.

See you tomorrow-Happy Monday!

 

Turning over a new leaf…on Monday.

As my archives will reveal, I have been on hiatus. With my first semester at graduate school coming to an end, it’s definitely time to return to my beloved blog. I miss writing for enjoyment, as well as writing to vent. My current issue? My expanding waistband and deteriorating body. What have I done while on hiatus? Three words: Too much eating. Overeating. Emotional eating. You name it. Not to mention a whole lot of drinking. Too much drinking. Over drinking. Emotional drinking. So where does that bring me now? Brings me to a need for a lifestyle change!

As I’ve been consuming all things I know to be terrible on my body, like massive amounts of carbs, cheese, treats and alcohol I feel like poo. Vegetarian or not, my body doesn’t like me too much right now. Every year it seems like I have the same New Years Resolution: become healthy. And each year I do pretty damn well…but it has never lasted a full year. It’s never even lasted 6 months. It’s time for a change. Life change. And it begins on Monday. Yes folks, I am one of those people. I need two days to actually prepare for this change. I also need two days to still consume left over cake and beer.

See you on Monday, where I will be documenting my journey to become a “healthy” person. Writing about it will actually make me accountable-this is going to suck be awesome!

Have a good weekend!

 

Fast Food Nation

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of viewing the movie Fast Food Nation for the very first time. Let me tell you, if you haven’t seen this movie, you must! I was only a tad reluctant because the movie got very mixed reviews. Many of the reviews I read on my beloved Netflix were terrible. People we’re complaining that the movie should have been made into a documentary instead but I disagree. I thought the movie was well made. In defense, the way I see it is that not many people enjoy documentaries. I in fact, love them, but I know that many people find them to be boring, slow, long, etc. Therefore taking the matter of slaughterhouses, the fast food industry, the meat industry, immigration and activism and putting it into a fictional plot seems like a good idea to me. I find that people who cannot bear to sit and watch documentaries can watch a movie that has a plot, storyline and characters that they can identify with.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, it is a movie following a few different people’s lives who are all somehow affected by the meat/fast food industry. We follow around a business man who works for Mickey’s, a fast food chain, a high school girl who works at Mickey’s while becoming friends with college activists, and an illegal immigrant couple who come to America and end up working at Mickey’s beef supplier. It stars many people, including Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Wilmar Valderama, Avril Lavinge and Bruce Willis.

For whomever out there that wants to see this movie in documentary form, there is a version, called Food, Inc. This documentary is great, and was one of the first movies I saw that really concreted my decision of giving up meat. It shows you a behind the scenes look at slaughterhouses, worker conditions for immigrants and nonimmigrants, and also describes all the preservatives and hormones that you are consuming when you eat industrialized meat.

The book that both films are based off of is New York Time’s bestseller, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. The book takes you behind the scenes to what we are really eating when we eat beef from our favorite fast food restaurants. It goes into detail about the “flavorings” that make our beef taste “cajun” or “smoked,” shows us what ingredients are in our foods, where our food comes from, and who touches our food before it gets to us. There are insights, interviews, and so much more…I love it. Because of this book, which I read many years ago, I no longer consume McDonald’s strawberry milkshake-it has over 30 ingredients and 50% of them are chemicals. Yum!

For anyone who either doesn’t have the time or patience for reading Fast Food Nation, Schlosser (along with Charles Wilson) wrote a second book, called Chew on This, which is a tamer, shorter version of Fast Food Nation. It was made to aim at teenagers and younger people, but with the same concept-to educate people on the fast food industry. I have yet to read this but plan on doing so soon.

So in conclusion, I have to recommend both films, the fictional Fast Food Nation and the documentary Food, inc. Both will broaden your horizon and knowledge on the meat and fast food industry. I feel better just knowing where meat comes from, and it helps me remember why I don’t consume it. For anyone who is reluctant because they do want to consume meat, don’t fret, just go organic. Food, Inc. will show you how a chicken is killed in a slaughterhouse versus how they are killed on a local farm. Good stuff folks.

Peace!

Other good, similar films to check out:

Veggies Can Feed the World

One of the most depressing things to me is waste. I’m a huge advocate of recycling, reusing, and leftovers. I don’t like seeing things wasted, ever. Although I am liberal in almost all parts of my life, I am very conservative with my money-which also aids me in my ability to never waste. I don’t like to see unused water go down the drain, food go uneaten, jars in the garbage, paper not being reused, etc. So of course it kills me that we are a country of completeexcess and waste. We have more than we could ever need or want, yet we want more, need more, and certainly waste a whole lot more. While we waste there are other places in our world that do not even have enough of what they need, and never see what they want. It depresses me all the time. Especially when I think of my parents who didn’t grow up in America, in particular my dad, who never owned a pair of shoes in his youth or tasted dessert. One of the reasons why I am a vegetarian is because I think its one step closer to solving world hunger. Yes, I am aware I myself am not changing the world, but I like to think that the more of us that become vegetarians, the more our country can start growing crops for the right reason, like feeding people. Jim Motavelli from The Environmental Magazine  has said, “The 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to produce one pound of beef for human beings represents a colossal waste of resources in a world still teeming with people who suffer from profound hunger and malnutrition.” Now take a look at these horrific numbers that I found the other day from Diet for a New America, by John Robins.

• Human population of United States: 270,000,000 (and counting)

• Number of human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock: 1,300,000,000

• Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by human beings: 20%

• Percentage of corn grown in United States eaten by livestock: 80%

• How frequently a child dies of starvation: Every 2.3 seconds

• Pounds of potatoes that can be grown on 1 acre of land: 20,000

• Pounds of beef that can be produced on 1 acre of land: 165

• Percentage of U.S. agricultural land used to produce beef: 56

• Number of children who starve to death every day: 38,000

• Number of people who could be adequately fed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10%: 100,000,000

• Amount of meat eaten by average person in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama: Less than the average American house cat

• Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons

• Water needed to produce 1 pound of meat: 2,500

Seriously. These numbers depress me! We are stuffing our faces, overeating meat that will give us cancer and other health issues while there are others who do not have enough to eat at all.

Another thing I want to touch on is that I know a lot of people will read these numbers and go “Okay, I kind of see the connection. But there’s no proof that meat is really a reason why people are starving.” Well, I would consider that, since I’m open minded, but the facts are hard to ignore. Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC, stated that during the Ethiopian famine in 1984, “While people starved, Ethiopia was growing linseed cake, cottonseed cake and rapeseed meal for European livestock. Millions of acres of land in the developing world are used for this purpose. Tragically, 80 percent of the world’s hungry children live in countries with food surpluses which are fed to animals for consumption by the affluent.”

And to see that everyone could eat if we all gave up meat, or at least consumed less of it, is sad because not enough people will give up meat. Why have we become so meat obsessed? Like Steve Spielberg has said “Humans are the only race that hunts when not hungry.” So wasteful, it makes me want to cry. Especially since we are doing something so greedy, so wasteful, so unhealthy and hurting animals in the process. And I am no animal person, and many people aren’t…however I don’t know too many people who would turn their backs on a hungry child. So why don’t we all do our part and reduce our meat intake and help feed the rest of the world? I’ve already talked about it over and over…going veggie for your health, for the animals, the environment…but if you don’t care about any of those, can you at least do it for the people out there who are going to go to bed hungry tonight?

Peace.