Monday, January 31, 2011

Day One

Today is Day One of the 8 Week Transition Diet. As I mentioned before, I am planning on starting an accountability group for the diet. I don't like to call it a diet though - let's call it a lifestyle change! Isn't that what it is, really?

Here are the instructions for week one again. Please let me know if you're interested, and feel free to join in anytime!

I would just like to mention that I think this week will be one of the hardest weeks of this change for me - I am a sugar addict and have so many sweet teeth that it will be difficult to teach them otherwise! If you feel the same, no worries! We can do this together!


Week 1

Chips

No junk. Eliminate junk food from your diet. That's it, just junk. Other than this, you can eat whatever and whenever you like. Now, how hard can that be? Guess this depends on what I mean by "junk." But all I'm concerned with this week is the obvious stuff like potato chips, candy, ice cream, cake, etc. You may be stricter if you'd like, but for Week 1, don't be too hard on yourself. For many of you, this step alone will reap huge benefits.

Cheat Days: 2
Since no one's perfect, you get 2 days to cheat. That's right, 2 days where you can eat anything you want! A trick on these days (and, yes, this means there will be more) is to listen to your body. At first, it'll probably tell you it wants whatever you've been denying it. However, over time, it'll start to crave nutrients you're deficient in. Learn to read your body's subtleties. If you're craving ice cream, you may be short on essential fatty acids. If you crave a hamburger, your diet may lack protein. This way, you can make better food substitutions. It's a way of getting in tune with yourself that will benefit you for your entire lifetime.

Weekly focus: Water. Not swimming in it, though that's good too, but staying hydrated with it. You should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Diet sodas and such are no substitute, because they contain a passel of ingredients that live right at the bottom of the junk heap. Drinking a glass of water when you feel hunger pangs coming on will not only keep you hydrated, but will help stave off your hunger to some degree.
As for other drinks, juices and sugary sodas also (obviously) fall into the junk category. And alcohol should be kept to a minimum. We tend to forget (purposely or not) that alcohol has calories. A lot of them: 7 calories per gram. Mixers can be even worse—not only can they add calories, but sugary calories influence the way alcohol reacts with your body. When you do drink, red wine is the alcohol of choice, with natural beer running second.



If you're looking for a way to crave that sweet tooth while you're cutting out the candy ... or just want to get a jump start on healthy servings of fruits and vegetables ... read this post from the fit wife!


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Saturday, January 29, 2011

^ Yummy Protein Shake

One thing that is tough is finding the right foods to eat. With exercise and a good diet, high protein and good carbs are a must. I find regular protein shakes a little unappetizing, however, but I figured out something last summer that tastes great, so I thought I'd share!

Here is my recipe for a (fairly) low calorie, high protein shake!

Peanut Butter Vanilla Protein Shake

1 Vanilla Slim Fast Shake
1 Tbs. Peanut Butter
1 Scoop Trader Darwin's Vanilla Flavored Whey Protein Powder (Found at Trader Joe's)
1 Scoop Ice (More or less to preference of consistency)

Protein: 31 grams
Total Fat: 14 grams (less than half the grams of fat in a regular PB&J sandwich!)
Calories: 360


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Friday, January 28, 2011

^8 Week Transition Diet


My friend over at The Fit Wife posted this article, originally by the folks at P90X. It's a real-life approach to changing your diet to a healthy one that still allows you the freedom to "cheat" guilt-free every now and then:) I hope this article is as informative for you as it was for me!


**Also, if anyone is interested, please let me know if you'd like to start an accountability group to go through this diet. We'd have weekly check-ins on the diet with me posting my update and open commenting for your progress.**


The 8-Week Transition Diet
by Steve Edwards


Week 1

Chips

No junk. Eliminate junk food from your diet. That's it, just junk. Other than this, you can eat whatever and whenever you like. Now, how hard can that be? Guess this depends on what I mean by "junk." But all I'm concerned with this week is the obvious stuff like potato chips, candy, ice cream, cake, etc. You may be stricter if you'd like, but for Week 1, don't be too hard on yourself. For many of you, this step alone will reap huge benefits.
Cheat Days: 2
Since no one's perfect, you get 2 days to cheat. That's right, 2 days where you can eat anything you want! A trick on these days (and, yes, this means there will be more) is to listen to your body. At first, it'll probably tell you it wants whatever you've been denying it. However, over time, it'll start to crave nutrients you're deficient in. Learn to read your body's subtleties. If you're craving ice cream, you may be short on essential fatty acids. If you crave a hamburger, your diet may lack protein. This way, you can make better food substitutions. It's a way of getting in tune with yourself that will benefit you for your entire lifetime.
Weekly focus: Water. Not swimming in it, though that's good too, but staying hydrated with it. You should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Diet sodas and such are no substitute, because they contain a passel of ingredients that live right at the bottom of the junk heap. Drinking a glass of water when you feel hunger pangs coming on will not only keep you hydrated, but will help stave off your hunger to some degree.
As for other drinks, juices and sugary sodas also (obviously) fall into the junk category. And alcohol should be kept to a minimum. We tend to forget (purposely or not) that alcohol has calories. A lot of them: 7 calories per gram. Mixers can be even worse—not only can they add calories, but sugary calories influence the way alcohol reacts with your body. When you do drink, red wine is the alcohol of choice, with natural beer running second.

Week 2

Small Meal
Each week's rules are cumulative, so the "no junk" rule from Week 1 will apply until the end, as will each subsequent week's rule. Remember that this is a learning and conditioning process. It's like you're in school and the subject is your own body.
Eat small, eat often. Eat four to six small meals a day, and don't eat anything for about 3 hours before you go to sleep. Following these rules will keep your blood sugar levels more static and your energy level will stay consistent. Try to keep each snack or meal balanced. Keep a 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrate, and 30 percent fat scale in mind, though you don't need to worry too much about it. Just realize that you need a bit from each macronutrient group. Eat based on what you'll be doing for the next few hours (if you're working out, eat a little more; sitting at a desk, eat a little less). The 3-hours-before-bed rule is important, especially for fats and carbohydrates. By allowing time for all the carbs you eat to get into your bloodstream, your body will sleep in fat-burning mode, rather than in calorie-storing mode. This is important because undigested carbs in your stomach at night are stored as adipose tissue (fat).
Cheat Days: 2
Weekly focus: Carbs are not the enemy. Your body needs them, just like it needs proteins and fats. The trick is to choose the right carbs. As a society, we eat too much refined sugar. Complex carbs, like whole-grain breads, whole-grain rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes are outstanding foods. Even fruits, which have simple carbohydrates wrapped in fiber, are very good for you and hard to overconsume. While you don't want a diet based on nothing but carbs, making the right carb choices will maximize your body's potential. Try to avoid white rice and flours. Read labels, and try to avoid ones that use the word "enriched," because this means these products have been stripped of their natural nutrients, overprocessed, and then fortified with a few random nutrients.

Week 3

Vegetables
Eat some colorful, low-density food at every meal.
 These are foods that take up a lot of space without a lot of calories. Veggies are the most obvious example. You can eat a salad bowl overflowing with lettuce and veggies and you most likely won't exceed 100 calories. By eating low-density foods like veggies and fruits, you'll keep your portions under control naturally, because they have very few calories for their size. Conversely, high-density foods, like chocolate and butter, are loaded with calories in even the smallest amounts. So beware of salad dressings and other things you add to salads and veggies. Only add enough for flavor; don't fill up on them. When it comes to live foods, the richer the colors, the fresher the products tend to be. Try to eat a variety of colors in your diet. This simple and somewhat random act will help ensure that you're covering your bases, nutrient-wise.
Cheat Days: 1
Weekly focus: Protein at every meal. This becomes even more important as you eat more low-density food, because protein tends to be high-density. Many veggies have a lot of protein, but the quantity you must consume starts to become prohibitive. Try to get some protein—meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds, or legumes—each time you eat, especially when you're working out hard, because you need to repair broken-down muscle tissue. Frequency of protein consumption is even more vital for women, who aren't able to digest as much protein at one time as men are. It's almost impossible to get all your necessary protein at one or two meals, so try to get 10 to 20 grams of protein each time you eat. Reading labels is a simple way to learn how to estimate your protein intake, but if you eat natural foods, most of which don't have labels, you can look at online nutritional information guides to determine the amount of protein each serving contains.

Week 4

Man Cooking at Home
Cook at home.
 One of the best ways to control your eating is to prepare all your meals yourself. Eliminate all fast food (which should have been gone in Week 1) and most other restaurant food. You may still eat food from certain restaurants where you can be sure of the ingredients (most will be savvy enough to make a point of how healthy their food is). But avoid all fast food chains, even ones that claim to be "healthy." Restaurants need their food to taste good, so they'll often use compromised ingredients, even when they list low numbers on fats and/or calories. Fast food can contain many hidden evils in addition to calories. For example, next time you see one of those nutrition charts, check the sodium levels; most fast foods use ridiculously high amounts of salt. Avoiding fast food alone will often bring your body closer to homeostasis (its desired state of balance). This can be hard for many of us because we now have to plan our meals and prepare ahead of time, but try and treat it like vocational school—you don't learn a new "job" without a little retraining.
Cheat Days: 1
Weekly focus: Fat is essential. Remember that fat is a vital part of your diet, not just something that makes you fat. What is not vital is a lot of saturated or trans fats. Trans fats are mainly those that are artificial, and hopefully they've been eliminated from your diet by this point, since they're generally only found in junk. Saturated fats are found in dairy products and meats, and you don't need too much. For cooking, try to use olive oil when possible. Also, the addition of either flaxseed or hempseed can have a pronounced effect on your health. These seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids (omegas 3 and 6). Be careful about that amount of fat. It is dense and has 9 calories per gram, as opposed to 4 for both carbs and protein. A tablespoon goes a long way!

Week 5

Potatoes
Reduce starchy carbohydrates.
 Starches include rice, bread, potatoes, corn, beans, and other legumes. While many of these are in no way bad foods, most people tend to consume far too many of them. So what you want to do this week is cut way down on them, if not cutting them out completely. Then add them back in when your body feels like it needs energy, which it will at some point if you're exercising (and why wouldn't you be?). But don't add a huge plate or bowl of pasta; instead, add a small single serving. Starches are great energy food, but if you eat too many, they turn the tables and make you sluggish!
Cheat Days: 1
Weekly focus: Sugar is only beneficial after a hard workout. Your body doesn't need processed sugar. But if you really enjoy it and can't avoid letting some sneak into your daily diet, the 1-hour period after you exercise is the best time to indulge. During this window, your blood sugar is low, because you've used it up to finish your workout (assuming you pushed yourself), and sugar during this time will help you recover faster because it speeds into your system and initiates the recovery process. Adding a little protein, but not too much, will enhance your recovery even further. The best ratio is 1 part protein to 4 parts carbs. You should avoid fats during this immediate post-workout period, because they slow absorption—a good thing most of the time, just not during and immediately after working out.

Week 6

Food
If man makes it, don't eat it.
 This is likely to be the hardest week of your diet. You want to eat only whole foods and eliminate all processed foods, even good ones, for the week. This includes breads, most salad dressings, all cereal, luncheon meats, cheese, dried fruits, anything with preservatives, and alcoholic beverages. What you can eat are whole foods such as fruit, raw or steamed vegetables, meat (sans any type of sauce), natural whole-grain rice, poached eggs, etc. Since your eating habits have been slowly changing, this shouldn't be that big a shock to your system, but keeping in focus that you only have to do this for 7 days will make it easier. (Although each week's rules are cumulative in the plan, Week 6 is more of a "cleanse" or "reset" week where you avoid all processed food; after Week 6, you can go back to the occasional processed food, but chances are you'll take what you learned this week and tend to make healthier, smarter choices.)
Cheat Days: 1
The "cheat day" mentality isn't a bad one. Rewards like decadent desserts, a night at the buffet, or drinking with friends are good for you as long as you keep them in perspective. These are rewards for a life well lived and you should be able to feel good about doing them. Plus, there's some method to this madness as well, in that you still tend to crave nutrients you lack. So if you're cutting down on the calories to lose weight, allowing yourself a cheat day will give your body a chance to take in what it needs to avoid being malnourished.
Weekly focus: Nuts make great snacks. A handful of raw almonds or cashews is a quick and easy snack that goes a long way. Don't be put off by the high fat count of nuts, because this means it takes fewer of them to satiate you. Nuts are loaded with important phytonutrients, as well as good fats, proteins, and fiber.

Week 7

Woman with Food in both Hands
Be yourself.
 No rules—just try and eat as healthily as you can and do it by feel. Trusting yourself might seem like a lot of responsibility, but by now you'll be up to it. Learning to eat by feeling what your body needs is an important step in your transformation. Consider the way you've been eating over the last 6 weeks, but don't worry about what you should and shouldn't do. Just fuel yourself. The point is to take a mental break. Relax and allow yourself to eat in a way that feels normal. You may be surprised to find yourself craving something healthy instead of a candy bar or soda. You'll be better at listening to your body because it'll tell you what it needs to eat, as opposed to what you're used to eating. Your body should feel somewhat transformed. Does it?
"Reward for a Life Well Lived" Days: 1
Weekly focus: If you're so hungry at night that you can't sleep, try a protein shake before bed. When it's real, and not habitual, hunger means you lack nutrients your body needs to repair itself as you sleep. You want nothing but protein powder and water. No carbs or superfluous calories. But protein at night, especially whey, will help the body repair damaged tissue and enhance the natural growth-hormone spike that you get while you sleep.

Week 8

Sliced Eggs, Peppers, and Cucumbers
Eat a perfect diet.
 Now it's time for a real challenge—are you ready? The perfect diet is strictly individual, as there's no one diet that suits everybody. So who better to choose the perfect diet for you than you? Our bodies are all different, and the key to your own perfect diet is learning about how your body reacts to different foods under different circumstances. Your journey over the last 7 weeks should have brought you to a new understanding of how food affects your body, both for good and for bad. Now it's up to you to put it to the test. See how well you can eat for a week. In fact, see how well you can eat for the rest of your life. Live and enjoy.
Reward Days: 1, of course!
Weekly Focus: Don't bonk. Bonking is a state where your body runs out of stored blood sugar for energy. If you feel like your workouts are going backward instead of forward, this is a likely culprit. Use your energy level as your gauge. As soon as it starts to drop, start adding carbs back into your diet until you feel energized all day long. When you feel energized during your workouts and not sluggish throughout the rest of the day, you'll know you've found the right balance between carbs and other nutrients. Also, remember that as your body puts on more muscle, you will need to eat more. Muscle weighs much more than fat so as you gain muscle and lose fat, you will shrink at the same weight. You will also require more calories in order to maintain your muscle. So when you're working out hard, don't be afraid to eat more carbs than you do otherwise.


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The name change ...

You're probably thinking, "She spelled 'weight' wrong!"

Where did I come up with the name "A Healthy Wait"? I've realized recently, though I think I've "known" it for a long time, that there is no quick, easy solution to permanent weight loss and a healthy body. Diets such as the HCG Diet, are out there to tell you that you can lose up to 14 pounds a week and that you won't even be hungry! Diets such as these encourage anorexia while keeping you "satisfied" from  a placebo effect from using the HCG drops (a hormone that is actually used to increase fertility!) Unfortunately, diets like these ruin metabolism and can cause the dieter to actually increase in weight after the diet is over, causing yo-yo dieting and a further messed up metabolism ... not to mention the stress on the body from starvation and bingeing!

A Healthy Wait gets its name from a play on words - of course we all want to be a healthy weight and look our best! But it's not always that easy, is it? It takes patience and it takes commitment to a lifelong change of eating right and exercising.

You don't have to be the kind of person that exercises two hours a day, or is competing for the Olympics, or runs marathons every few months. Healthy dieting and exercise is a commitment to YOUR health, even if that means you'll just add on an hour a week of extra walking around the block. Remember, "The exercise for you is the exercise you'll do!" (madetocrave.org)

You also don't have to vow to NEVER eat sugar again, NEVER eat fast food again, NEVER enjoy your favorite homemade lasagna ever again. Eating right is about moderation and learning to discipline yourself with eating what is best for you whenever possible, but allowing yourself compromises here and there that will keep you from bingeing out on a full tub of ice cream. And healthy eating doesn't have to be unpleasant! This blog will help document yummy recipes and tips that will help you learn to not only like but also enjoy eating healthier choices such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and meats cooked in healthier ways.

This blog is here for encouragement on healthy eating, and exercise. Regular updates will include new recipes, tips on staying motivated and on track, personal anecdotes, and other interesting tidbits. If you're interested in a particular question or idea, let me know! I don't have any degree in nutrition, but my own personal experiences and research will be the foundation of this blog - because of that, some nutrition advice will likely be more geared toward women.

Take care of yourself!

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Happy Health and Eating!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A "Fruity" Tip

Here's a quick tip that has helped me a LOT!! If you're looking to get more fruits into your daily diet but Jamba Juice is not only a too-expensive habit, but you'd rather know exactly what's in your drinks, then try this!


Buy packages of frozen strawberries, mangos, peaches, blueberries, mixed berries, etc. 
Get about 10 sandwich ziploc bags and make random mixes with all the different fruits that sound good (I like strawberry, mango, and peach). 
The bag should be 1/3 to 1/2 full. 
Store them all in the freezer for a quick grab and add fresh, HEALTHY OJ (or other juices - I like Simply Orange that tastes great but is not made from concentrate and has NO high fructose corn syrup). 
You won't even need ice! Just the fruit and OJ in the blender, and a great 24 oz smoothie! :)


As an addition to this tip...! Did you know that eating your GOAL weight in protein everyday can actually help you slim down to that muscular weight? To get more protein sneaked into your diet, try this: In a 24 oz smoothie, just add about 1/2 to 1 scoop of Trader Darwin's Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (from Trade Joe's). Can't taste it but the protein is there!:) Best time to eat the smoothie/protein is right after exercise because it helps for a quick recovery on energy! Usually 4 parts carbs/1 part protein is a good guide. 


Happy Healthy Eating!


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Healthy Eating and a Couple of Product Placements . . .

Tonight's post isn't so much about a recipe as it is about healthy eating and how easy it is! (See bottom of post for dinner idea.)

I've only recently discovered Whole Foods in the last few months. This store is GREAT!! I wouldn't buy everything there (their pasta is ridiculously expensive and if you're going to be eating frozen lunches, I wouldn't spend 7 dollars on one) but their produce and meat is incredible and not much more expensive (maybe 5-10%) than most grocery stores. I haven't yet tried any produce from Whole Foods that I don't think is amazing, and Farmers' Market fresh! And the best part about Whole Foods is their passion for health - from the animal meats sold to the health of their customers. For instance, Whole Foods is one of the only stores that sells Organic Grass Fed beef at a low, affordable rate. Today, I got a pound of Grass Fed Beef Rounds for 9 dollars (grain/corn-fed would probably have been 7 at Albertson's or Raley's).

Why is Grass Fed so important? This blog lays it out well. Basically, grass is natural and healthy while the corn and grain fed cattle gain weight in a 5th of the time and are therefore unable to do so without a ridiculous amount of growth hormones and antibiotics -- and all of this transfers right into your body, helping create the superbugs that are making OUR antibiotics useless. (Staph infection, anyone?) Not only that, the corn-fed cattle have more than FOUR times the amount of fat grams than grass-fed beef (see this chart) in each 3 oz serving. That means that in a 9 oz. serving of corn-fed beef, you'll be getting nearly 26 grams of fat, when you'd only be getting SIX grams of fat in a same-portion sized serving of grass-fed. I could go on, but you probably get the point.

Whole Foods has also led me eating more fruits and veggies, helping to cut out unnatural sugars and fats. I did a fruit/vegetable/nut fast right after Christmas for about 5 days and lost 6 pounds - and have kept it off, partly because of a healthy change in my diet, but I won't lie and say I don't still enjoy my white rice and some candy every now and then.

So what's my point? Why is this so important to me?

-- My point is that fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats from nuts such as sunflower seeds and almonds, are the BEST way to keep your body feeling healthy and help peel the fat from your body. Meats such as chicken and beef ARE a part of a healthy diet so long as the serving size and fat grams are kept low - enter the grass-fed family, please!

-- Why is this so important to me? My grandma was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had a whole host of illnesses assail her body and nearly take her from us over Christmas. My stepdad had major blockages in his heart that were possibly only seconds away from causing a fatal heart attack. Diabetes runs in my family. While I am not blaming ANY of my family's illnesses on eating habits, I do know that eating a healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat meats will proactively keep me from developing these illnesses later -- and should I anyway? I'll be ready for my "new" life because I'll already be used to eating healthier and making good decisions.


One thing I'd like to say though, is that I don't think healthy eating has to be a pain. I personally believe in compromises. If you like white rice or white bread or regular pasta, eat it in moderation on a plate that is otherwise healthy! If you like sugar, allow yourself to have some every now and then (though please no HFCS - high fructose corn syrup)! If you can't stand the thought of plain almonds or sunflower seeds - it's OKAY to compromise with some sea salt! Your body will be better off with the compromise than with a full-out binge if you're not able to handle the switch to healthier eating -- I know I wasn't able to handle it the few times I tried to drop sugars and white flours cold turkey!


ALL of these things said ... Here is the recipe. It's more like a dinner idea because there isn't really a recipe required. Also, get ready for a few product placements (I was not paid by these companies:)


I LOVE my new rice cooker/steamer by Hamilton Beach (only $49 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, though I'm sure you can find it cheaper online at Amazon or Overstock). It cooks up to ten cups of rice at a time while simultaneously steaming vegetables.

Tonight's veggies of choice were red and gold potatoes and some fresh French green beans. I steamed them over the rice, lightly salted. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 25-30 minutes. (Tip: Start cooking the rice/veggies approximately 25 minutes before you cook the meat as the meat will cook in less than five minutes.) You can also steam these veggies and rice without a rice cooker, but I find it much easier and a lot less maintenance! 

Next product placement: George Foreman grill. GET ONE! This 144" grill was only 37 dollars on Amazon and cooks SO fast and SO healthy, and it is SO easy to clean! We use ours now at least three times a week! Time to pre-heat is approximately 5 minutes. I would recommend adding just the tiniest bit of olive oil to help ensure the non-stick plates are really non-sticky! :)

Marinated grass-fed beef. Here I only used approximately 5-6 ounces of the pound of sirloin that I bought. It was marinated at the store for me in a black pepper and garlic marinade, though I added some of my own black pepper and sea salt to it just before cooking. This meat took only 4-5 minutes to cook! Simple as pie! (Actually, easier than pie!)

And voila! A little bit of steak, some potatoes, green beans, and rice with apples and pineapples as a side/dessert. Yum!


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