I Quit Weight Watchers

I haven’t really talked much about my specific diet strategies on here much.  Normally, I try to eat appropriate amounts of healthy foods.  That has resulted in some nice body recomposition, and consistent progress.  But, when I got hurt last summer, I needed something more structured to help me maintain my weight (or even lose some) while I was unable to exercise.  I wasn’t (and, frankly, still am not) able to just intuitively eat to maintain my weight.  I wasn’t really sure how to figure out my expenditure and make a good plan, so I decided to join Weight Watchers.  I had heard good things, and I really wanted someone to tell me just how to do things.

It worked too, while I wasn’t exercising.  Once I started exercising, though, it was very difficult to follow their points system and see results.  I think it overestimated my activity when I tracked it (sometimes a run might count for 30 points – which is more than some people eat in a whole day) and then I tended to be more lax with my diet – since I had the points.  Or, if I ignored the activity points that I earned, I found that I felt completely depleted and underfed.  My recovery started to suffer.  It just wasn’t working.

My other issue was that it focused so much more on QUANTITY rather than QUALITY.  I think they try to get people to focus on healthy choices, but I don’t know that having that much freedom of choice is good for me in a deficit.  I tended to gravitate toward a cookie rather than a granola bar or greek yogurt if they were the same amount of points.  I have a way to go in resolving all my food issues, and I think I make better choices overall if I am focusing more on eating good, healthy foods to fuel my body, rather than just focusing on staying below a target.

So, I decided to quit.  A part of me felt like I was giving up, but I am getting back to basics with my diet.  I’m re-embracing all the strategies that I used before (with success).  I shouldn’t have let so many of them go – I don’t feel as healthy as I used to, even though I am at a smaller weight.  I went to the grocery store today, and re-stocked on all my old staples, and am ready to hit it hard tomorrow.

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So much for a recovery week…

My recovery week ended today.  It started out pretty good – I did a lot of stretching and some yoga.  I also did a bit of shoveling (even though I said I would take it easy!), but took care of myself after I came inside.  The storm was definitely a factor in everything that happened over my recovery week (and it worked out well that I took the break when we were going to have such poor weather).  While I wasn’t handling the downtime perfectly, it was all going pretty well and I was looking forward to getting back into things.

Then, on Sunday, I returned from a family birthday party to a loud and strange sound.  My dogs didn’t greet me at the door (which was concerning!).  I ran in and searched the house, eventually finding that our kitchen was flooded.  A pipe burst over our kitchen and destroyed our cabinets, counters, floor and a few small appliances.  Ugh.  The last couple of days have been a whirlwind of clean-up, dealing with the insurance company, and lots of stress.  I can’t believe it.

Now, we have to wait a couple weeks until we get our insurance payment and can start the rebuilding process.  This means limited cooking for the foreseeable future, and general chaos in our house.  And, to be honest, I have not kept my fitness/health goals in mind.  I have definitely been stress-eating, and didn’t stretch, do yoga, run, or anything for several days.  I have 100 days to my sister’s wedding (I definitely want to lose more weight for that) and 74 days until my goal race – so no time to waste!

I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with super-strict programs, but I think I might need to switch to one right now.  As much as my own particular brand of craziness can resist specific programs, I don’t think my willpower can handle something flexible right now.  I will continue with my running (of course), but will add a more specific plan for food and cross-training, and add in some specific accountability.

But, on the bright side, I did have good run today (the weather was spectacular!).  I think I needed it even more than I realized.  It helped to burn off some stress and get me out of the craziness at my house.

Must.Stop.Grazing

Seriously.  I have been eating healthy meals (mostly), and have been super-consistent with my workouts.  I was starting to get really frustrated that I haven’t been dropping weight like crazy.  The rationalizations were out of control – building muscle (in a deficit??), retaining water, etc.

Then, I took a hard look at my diet.  I realized that I have been grazing… and not just a little bit.  I’m talking antelope-in-the-grasslands levels of grazing (i.e. ALL day long).  I’ve had a lot of homework and, oftentimes, only take breaks to refill my water glass.  What I realized, though, was that I have developed a tendency to also grab a handful of some kind of food while in the kitchen.

This is not good.  It is time to re-frame my actions and focus.  I try really hard not to get overly crazy and obsessive about food.  For me, it creates a pretty nasty cycle of binge eating and negative self-talk anytime I start become very restrictive.  I find moderation is very important for me, even more when I am busy or stressed.  However, having a more moderate approach to food can also slip into complete diet complacency…which leads to NO weight loss.

So, for now, back to basics.  If I eat something, I will first measure out a portion and track the food.  I will have to be more mindful.  But, I can do this.  I’ve done it before.  I just have to get back on track.  After all, I have a goal race coming up!

Red Lentil Soup

lentil soup

I love soups this time of year.  Not only are they a great way to get some veggies, but they are so warm and filling.  This recipe, which I first made after a long run, is everything that is good about soup!  It is hearty and creamy – and the red lentils give it some heft without the addition of actual cream (or other dairy).  Like most soup, it doesn’t photograph well (seriously, doesn’t it look gloppy??), but it tastes amazing.  The addition of cumin and chili flakes lend just a bit of heat, and the sweet potatoes give it just a bit of chew.

This makes a large batch, and was just what I needed after a long run on a chilly day.  It only takes about 20-30 minutes of actual prep time, so can even be a weeknight meal (if you have time for it to simmer).

Red Lentil Soup
adapted from The Chew

Ingredients:

Olive Oil (for bottom of pan)
1 large onion
7 large carrots (or a couple handfuls of baby carrots), sliced
2 celery ribs (chopped)
4-6 garlic gloves, minced (we love garlic, and actually used 8 cloves)
2 cups of red lentils (rinsed)
2 teaspoons of ground Cumin
1 teaspoon of ground Coriander
1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon of Turmeric
6-8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (depending on how wet you like it – you could also use vegetable broth)
1 sweet potato, diced
1 bunch of kale, chopped with thin stems removed

How to make it:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven, and add onion.  Cook until onion is soft.
  2. Add carrots and celery, and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook for one minute.
  3. Stir in the rinsed red lentils.  Cook for a couple minutes, until the lentils are well-coated with oil and slightly toasted.
  4. Add cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and turmeric, and continue to toast until spices are fragrant.
  5. Add the stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the sweet potato and kale, and cook for about 10-15 minutes (or until sweet potato is cooked through).
  7. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve.

 

Healthy Creamed Spinach (with Kale)

I mentioned this in another post already, but I wanted to make sure to highlight this recipe – it is delicious.  I found it last year, and it has been an off-and-on staple every since (I tend to cycle through recipes).  Plus, unlike other healthy re-makes, this recipe has ingredients that are easy to find, inexpensive, and really tasty – while cutting out the junk!

I usually double this recipe for the two of us, and include some kale if I have it on hand.  If you’re not big on kale, this is a good way to eat it – you barely notice the bitterness, but benefit from all the nutrients!  You can use less garlic if you want, but we kind of love it so we use a little extra!

Creamed Spinach with Kale
adapted from Ask Georgie

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon butter (or oil of your choice – I’ve also used coconut oil)
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tablespoons of milk (I use 1%)
1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese, Original Swiss
2 big handfuls of Spinach, chopped with large stems removed
1 big handful of Kale, chopped with large stems removed

How to Make it:

  1. Melt the butter (or oil) in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant and just slightly browned.
  3. Add milk and cheese wedge, and stir until cheese is melted.
  4. Add the kale and spinach, and allow to cook in the sauce until wilted (stirring occasionally).
  5. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for a few more minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.
  6. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to thicken just a bit more before serving.

Give this a try.  Jeb isn’t crazy about the taste of vegetables, but whenever I make this, he devours it!

Oh, and there’s no picture – we always eat it all before I remember to take one!

“Resolved: Eat the Damn Cookie”

Resolved: Eat the Damn Cookie | Runner’s World & Running Times.

I don’t really go for New Year’s Resolutions.  I generally try to pull my eating back on track after an indulgent holiday season, but resolutions, in and of themselves, just don’t work for me.  I like Mark Remy’s take here.  It is an exercise in moderation – and not sweating the small stuff.

That being said, I do want to drop some pounds.  I have my goal race in April, and my sister is getting married in May.  I have a hell of a semester coming up, so I want to maximize this slightly quieter time in my life.

So, my plan is:

  • Track my food
  • Follow the Level 1 nutritional challenge from Girls Gone Strong (more on this later)
  • Keep on track with my running/training for my goal race
  • Remain injury free (maintain mobility, especially)
  • Do some yoga (good for mobility AND stress relief)
  • Manage my stress
  • Get plenty of sleep

If I can follow all of these principles 90% of the time, I should be in good shape by spring (pun intended).