“Walking to New Orleans?”

Chad and I had a pretty healthy 2013, and we both want to be sure that trend continues. In order to focus and set some goals, we looked ahead to races and events we wanted to accomplish, from our first obstacle course race to our “main event” the Susan Komen 3-day. (More on that later.) You may have seen my Chad’s posts this January about his goals for 2014, and many of them are mine, too.

But because we often do a variety of things, walking, biking, etc., for training, we were interested in finding a way to tie it all together as we work on all of our “smaller” tasks. Since we track our workouts on myfitnesspal and/or mapmyfitness, it just made sense to see what our total distance covered would be, and see how far those miles might take us. The data geek in me that likes any bit of motivation and reward I can find thought, “Cool, but how do we really get a concept of have far we have traveled with these miles?” That made me think of places I wanted to go that also might actually possible to “get to” during this little tracking project, and the answer popped into my head…New Orleans! Just for fun, I choose one of our favorite French Quarter bars, the Old Absinthe House. So this is the question: How long would it take to travel on foot the 961.5 miles from our house in Waterloo, Wisconsin to 240 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA?

Walking to NO main map

Map courtesy of mapmyfitness.com

Now for all the disclaimers and data.

  1. While we will be as accurate and consistent as possible on our end, this is a goofy project that is not at all precise and certified in any way, and Chad and I acknowledge this is all just a huge estimation. Basically, our margin of error is +/- 50%, but, it will be fun!
  2. Looking at different mapping tools, the distance can vary over 30 miles, due to route differences, measuring errors and even rounding differences, I suppose. So to make it a bit easier on ourselves, we are choosing mapmyfitness, since we are already set up with that website. (Also, word has it that they now sync with myfitnesspal, so when we start actually working out outside and covering actual distances, things will be that much easier to track.)
  3. We have another small glitch to overcome; unlike runners who run all their miles, how do we equate a bike ride with a run with a swim when it comes to miles covered? Again this is a huge “grain of salt” issue; depending on hills and intensity of the workout, actual mileage will vary, so we had to decide on some rules. After a bit of online “research” we have decided to follow these guidelines:
    1. Walking and running are counted as 1:1 straight-up miles.
    2. Biking to on-foot is 3.5:1
    3. Swimming to on-foot is 1:4
    4. The elliptical was a harder call, since it is lower impact, but I can vary the incline and resistance. Since my slow and easy miles are 12 minutes, I will count every 12 minutes as a mile.
    5. Extras: we went snowshoeing this January, where we just had to estimate the distance, and other activities will have to be judged as they come up, an others, like kayaking, may not even be added to the total.

I didn’t post this in January because I wanted to test things out a bit, and after the first month, here is my status:

walking Jan total

Looking at a map view, you can see that I’m on my way:

The blue-ish point is how far I've gone.

The blue-ish point is how far I’ve gone.

Looking forward to a healthy and happy 2014…Join us!

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Weeks 42-52 Weigh ins….And Mea Culpas galore!!

So, this is my first post since June 2nd. My fault. Between finishing up in Rice Lake, starting up in Sauk Prairie, moving my entire life from Rice Lake to Waterloo, commuting 47 miles one way from Waterloo to Sauk Prairie, going to Canada, and training for and completing the 60-mile 3 Days for a Cure, I haven’t made this blog a priority. Mea Culpa. I hope you will accept my apology, and continue to read on.

On my last post, June 2nd, I weighed 303.2. Then Week #42 was 303.6; #43 = 308.6 (Week in Trego at cabin), #44 = 310 (no excuse), #45 = 302.4 (Worked my tail off), #46 = 303.4 (little setback), #47 = 301.6 (getting there!), #48 = 301.6 (static!), #49 = 311.3 (Canada!), #50 = 304.2 (Back to working my tail off), #51 = 300.5 (so damn close!!), #52 = 302.5 (3 Day walk, still a bit swollen and likely water weight, but I’m totally ok with that.)

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday, that means that “40 by 40” has come to an end. Lets review the successes and failures of the year, shall we? I started the year, last August 17th, at 381 pounds. I now weigh 302.5. I’ve lost 78.5 pounds, an average of 1.5 pounds per week!!! I think just about anyone would tell you that is an amazing year and a really healthy rate of loss. Measured in pounds, no doubt, 40 by 40 has been a success!!!

On August 17, 2012, my BMI was 49.38. (Normal is below 25 and obese is over 30.) (Right Michelle?) Today, my BMI is 39.21!! I’m not a mathematician, but that number, 39.2, looks to be below 40 to me. And since the title of this project was “40 by 40,” referencing my goal to have a BMI under 40 by the time I turned 40, and since I turn 40 tomorrow, measured by BMI, again the last year has been a smashing success!!!

My blood pressure, blood sugar, and joint pain were all out of control a year ago. Today, I have a normal blood pressure (though still controlled by medication), my A1C has dropped down to 5.4, well into the normal range, and other than the aches I have from walking 60 miles last weekend…wait a minute, let’s jsut say my joints are in good enough shape that I could walk 60 miles if I wanted to!! Health-wise, this last year has been a smashing success!!!

If there has been a failure, it is this. I hit my 40 BMI goal for the first time in April, after only 8 months! At that time, I reset and established a goal of 35. I did not make it. The last 4 months have been some of the most hectic of my life, and I was not able to focus the way I needed to keep up the pace of loss over the entire year that I had established in the fall and winter. That means I did not hit a goal I had set, and that is failure.

However, through all the stressors of the last 4 months, I never weighed more than 311 pounds, within 3 pounds of the 40 BMI mark, and I continued to trend down in terms of overall weight, even if the pace slowed considerably. The old me was a stress eater. The more I stressed, the more I ate. The new me doesn’t do that. I may occasionally put too much in my mouth, but that happens briefly, for very short periods of time, and then I work out like a madman to try to  counteract the effects. In the last year I’ve learned that exercise is a much more effective stress reliever than eating. Go figure?

I absolutely could not have done as well as I have, without the support of everyone who reads this blog. Making my journey a public things was super scary at first, but the rewards of this public accountability, combined with the unwavering support of so many of you, have made this one of the most rewarding years of my life. Thank so much for that wonderful gift!

My co-travelers on this trip; myfitnesspal.com friends; my mom and sister; (All of them are the same people by the way) have been the heavy lifters. Every week for the whole year, we held each other accountable to completing our food-logs, a critical step in weight-loss by the way, with encouraging words when things were going well, and not so well. I could not have done this with you, Mary Harnisch and Ellen Race. I love you both and am so proud of the changes you have made in your lives in the last year as well!

Lastly, we all know how lucky I am to have a live-in dietitian. We all know how lucky I am to have a life partner whose love for me is so strong I can sometimes feel it’s presence like it is a physical thing. We all know how lucky I am to have found so young, and held for so long, someone who is the perfect match for me and whom I am comfortable loving for all time. Michelle, baby, I love you so much! And your love, support, expertise, patience and partnership have been so inspiring, so transformative, so comfortable! I don’t know what took me so long to figure it out; but I am so grateful that you hung with me. Thank you for everything you have done for me and with me. I look forward to 40 years of trying to pay you back!!

I have more I want to say, a long post about the amazing experience of the 3 Day, and another about my next goal. But I will save it for another day. It’s time to go home, celebrate my successes, and get ready for the next challenge. Talk to you all soon.

Be careful out there!!

Inside-Out Omelets

Breakfast seems to give people trouble; they don’t want to eat it because they don’t want to take the time, and American breakfasts are often full of the most unhealthy parts of a diet (added sugars, salt and saturated fats.) As a dietitian, I often get breakfast-related questions, and know that despite the fact that people who eat breakfast are more likely to be at a healthy weight and more healthy in general, many people, including the children who we are supposed to be educating about the glories of breakfast, skip it!

I have already posted two breakfast-related posts, one a basic recipe for a breakfast sandwich, and the other about how a typical American breakfast differs from a healthier, Japanese breakfast. But aside from breakfast sandwiches and leftovers, I have found another breakfast favorite, an inside out-style omelet. How many people have salads or sides of veggies with their breakfast? Have you ever tried to cram a cup of veggies into a 2-3 egg omelet?  There just isn’t enough egg to bind it all together, leaving you with and unattractive egg-scramble-mash-thingy. But, since I want to have all my veggies without requiring a dozen eggs, I decided to make a few modifications to the omelet concept to give me a healthy dose of vegetables, which are often hard to get with breakfast.

Inside-Out Omelet

1. Choose your toppings. This is what you would normally put INSIDE the omelet–the “guts”. I generally stay with veggies and a strong cheese. I recently had a lot of leftover crudite (while that’s a “sushi” term, the “fish sticks” translation is relish tray!) so I used a mix of those. [See the notes at the end of the post for other flavor combinations.]

2013-06-13 08.19.18

A beautiful morning rainbow!

2. Heat 1/2 T of canola oil on a small/medium skillet to medium-high, chopping vegetables as you heat the pan. I chopped the asparagus smaller, since its a bit tougher, and separated the chives to add as a garnish.
2013-06-13 08.23.203. Saute the vegetables to your preferred doneness. I dislike mushy veggies, so I usually cook them for about 3-5 minutes. I also place them in the pan at the same time, which is less of a hassle. (This is where the size of your cuts can help you make sure everything is the way you want it.)
2013-06-13 08.27.314. Transfer the toppings to a bowl. There is probably enough oil in the pan to cook the eggs as well, so turn the heat to medium low and set the pan aside until you are ready to add the eggs.

2013-06-13 08.29.37

I don’t bother with a whisk or egg-beater; this is a quick weekday breakfast, so a fork is sufficient.

5. To keep things simple, I don’t add any milk to my omelet, though you can if you prefer. I use 2 whole eggs and one egg white, place in a bowl and mixed with a fork.

6. Place the pan back on the heat and pour the egg into the skillet. Depending on how soft you like your eggs and how hot your oven is, somewhere around 2-3 minutes should give you a cooked base. While its cooking, I season it by sprinkling the top with salt and pepper.

7. When the edges are set, roll the omelet. This takes a bit of practice, so don’t get discouraged if its not pretty the first time (it will taste fine and the toppings will cover the omelet, anyway!) You can roll it several times, fold it over once, or fold it into a square package…no rules here!Egg collage8. Because eggs have quite a large ability for carry-over cooking, the inside of the omelet will cook as long as the omelet is not too thick or you pan is too hot. (That would brown the bottom before the heat can reach up through the eggs, and I don’t happen to like browned eggs.) You can always keep the omelet in the pan a bit longer, cover it, and/or leave it in the warm pan while the heat is off to ensure its cooked to your liking on the inside.

9. Now comes the pretty part! Transfer your omelet to a plate, and top with your choice of “guts.” This omelet has the fresh chives added, as well as some reduced fat shredded cheese.

omelet

Healthy and hearty…more veggies than your average omelet could handle!

Nutritional Information (Rainbow Version):

Calories

Protein (g)

Fat (g)

Carbs (g)

Fiber (g)

2 whole large eggs

144

13

10

1

0

1 large egg white

17

4

0

0

0

½ T canola oil

60

0

7

0

0

¼ cup Asparagus

7

1

0

1

1

½ cup Bell pepper

15

1

0

3

2

¼ cup tomatoes

7

0

0

2

1

¼ C Reduced fat cheese

80

8

5

0

0

TOTAL

330

27

22

7

4

NOTES:

  • This omelet is a great source of healthy fats and lean protein, but a complete meal should include carbs as well. Add a piece of 100% whole wheat toast or some fruit to complete this healthy breakfast!
  • The amounts of veggies were an estimation, and the nutritional information was rounded to the nearest whole gram using the USDA National Nutrient Database.
  • Looking for more variety? Use can use almost anything you have on hand, but here are some ideas:
    • Tex Mex: Use chili pepper, cilantro, bell peppers and salsa with chili powder and cheese.
    • Puttanesca: Black olives, tomatoes, basil and capers with Parmesan cheese.
    • Greek: Tomatoes, olives, oregano with lime or lemon juice and feta cheese.
    • Use ANY fresh herbs from your garden or farmers market!

Try this simple, inside-out omelet method to keep your veggie intake high while getting a great source of protein (no expensive protein powders or unhealthy meats needed!) Have a healthy day!

A Salad in Winter: Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach Salad

DSC01374Winter is not well-known for its fresh greens, and is famous for being a time people eat even fewer veggies than usual! Even I admit, though I still have a green salad several times a week, that the deep freeze outside can take the thrill out of a cold vegetable side dish. Gee, if only there were a way to get the huge veggie content of a salad with a warm touch…but there is! I have adapted this recipe from several others, this being the closest, http://www.food.com/recipe/spinach-and-roasted-cauliflower-salad-221426, but I’ve made it a bit healthier, treated it as a main dish (4 servings per recipe) and warmed it up. I have taken this to several social events and have made it often at home and it always get rave reviews! Another nice thing about this, or any, salad, is that the proportions are very flexible. Because of that, the nutritional information is dependent on things like how much dressing you use and how big the cauliflower is at your grocery store these days. (The recipe may look a bit long, but there’s really not too much to it, I just organized it as I make it.)

Roasted Cauliflower and Spinach SaladCauliflower_roasted
Cauliflower
1 medium to large head(s) cauliflower, florets (~6 C)
1T olive oil
3/4 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper

Dressing
2T white wine vinegar
1T Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

Salad
1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach leaves, rinsed
1/4 large red onion, sliced thin
4 oz shaved Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a shallow pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray and combine cauliflower, 1T olive oil, salt and pepper. After stirring, roast for 30 minutes, stirring once. Keep cauliflower hot until ready to use by turning off the oven and leaving the cauliflower in.

2. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and mustard. Whisk in remaining oil, or use a lidded bowl and shake to mix.

3. In a large bowl, combine greens and onion. Add the warm cauliflower and the amount of dressing you choose.

4. Top with Parmesan cheese.

DSC01379
Nutrition and Notes

  • For 1/4 or this recipe: 295 calories, 14 carbs, 23 g fat, (6 g sat fat,) 13 g pro, 372 mg sodium (Nutritional values as calculated by myfitnesspal.com)
  • The cauliflower will warm and soften the spinach, giving you a nice warmed salad. You can help this process by bringing the spinach out of the fridge while the cauliflower cooks.
  • You can use arugula in place of the spinach or mix the two. (Of course, in the summer, fresh spinach from your farmers market would be ideal, but this way you don’t have to worry about grit in your greens!)
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese would of course be OK here, I just thing the shaved looks a bit more elegant, and the larger pieces give you a more substantial bite, making it seem more decadent.
  • If you want a cold salad, that’s OK too. Just let the cauliflower cool before you add it.
  • I like to add the dressing when I make the salad; its easier to mix it all together in a large bowl instead of trying to coat each leaf in your salad bowl or on your plate. But, you could always serve it on the side. (The Dijon dressing can be used for other things, and because its so flavorful, you might not need it all for this recipe.)
  • Adjust the amount of spinach, onion and cauliflower to suit you. You could make it with a fraction of greens, and more cauliflower if you don’t want as much “salad.”
  • Leftovers are great! They can be eaten warm or cold, with the dressing already added or kept on the side.
  • This could be used as an entree salad, and you could bump up the calories, protein and healthy fats with some slivered almonds or pine nuts. Also, steak would be great with dish, given the acidity and mustard in the dressing…you could even turn it into a steak salad!

Enjoy those veggies and stay warm!

Keeping a Food Journal…to the Nth Degree!

Since everyone is doing their end-of-year reporting and Best of 2012 lists, I thought I’d do a report of my own about Chad’s progress. This is only possible because Chad has been keeping his diet records on myfitnesspal.com for 135 days in a row…ever since the 40 by 40 project began! (Actually, we had already been using the website for over a year on and off previously.) His consistency has been amazing, and it is useful and interesting to look back and see the progress, what the trouble spots have been and the choices we have made when it comes to food and drink.

Chad may be extreme in his compliance, but I believe that’s why he is having such extreme success! Further, he has been honest enough to track his off days, holidays, weekends, etc., even when he is over his limit. This is also an import factor to his success. He keeps up his routine of journaling, so he never has to start the habit over, and he can see the differences in his good and not-so-good days in black and white when he looks at the calorie totals at the end of the day.

To recap, we have an upper calorie limit set for him at 3300 calories per day, a sort of “weekend limit,” and his “hard limit” had been 2100 cal, but is now 2400. Taking a look at the 135 days of 40 by 40 so far:Net Calories per Day

As you can see, Chad had only a small percentage of days when he was over the upper limit, and those days have been mostly weekends and holidays–and there are many more of those days than 9, so he’s been good even on the weekends. The majority of his days, over 70%, are below his “everyday limit.” Also, it is important to remember these are net calories, meaning the calories for exercise have been subtracted from his calories. For example, if he ate 3500 calories and burned 1000 in exercise, his net total would be 2500. (The fact he can burn so many calories during exercise makes it much easier…this table would look MUCH different if it was just calories eaten!) We both feel very good about this data, and I was surprised how many days he actually netted less than 2100! Those days often had over a thousand calories burned in exercise, and was when he was losing the most. As you may know, one of my jobs has become keeping him from losing too fast, so I will have to make sure he doesn’t get too severe!

As is the case with most people, the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Years, have a not-so-normal eating pattern. The same is the case with us, and you can read an example of that by reading Chad’s description of our Christmas Eve dinner. Once the year starts to settle in a bit, I’m sure Chad will see his journal starting to look more like it did before Thanksgiving, and he will be a bit more consistent with his weight loss than he has been the last month. The great news for him is that he has wonderful healthy habits of eating well, keeping a journal and exercising that he has carried through the toughest part of the year, so he’ll have an easier January than he has in the past. I’m excited to see what comes next!

[There have been many studies indicating that keeping a food and/or exercise journal increases weight loss and compliance to whatever program or lifestyle change you are working on. There are even studies that show that when people write down what they eat for a “pre-test” they often consciously or subconsciously change what they eat, presumably because they can’t stand writing down what they would have eaten if it wasn’t for the journal! Also, it doesn’t matter in what form a journal takes–an old notebook, a pre-made food diary form (you can find many online for free) or a digital or online program–just find what fits the best with your lifestyle and use it!]