Diet and Nutrition Update

This was my original Healthy Living Checklist. Here is my progress:

  • Exercise at least cardio 3 days a week – Done although I need to maintain this through winter.
  • Eat Right – Done. But see below.
  • Sleep Better/More – Had been great, but now ok. I need to focus on this some more. I want 8hrs, but am probably averaging 6. Good, not great.
  • Reduce Sugar – This isn’t a problem for me .
  • Reduce Salt – Done.
  • Reduce Artificial Sweeteners – Done.
  • Drink More Water – I need to drink more.
  • Reduce Caffeine – I’m like a crack fiend. I don’t think this is essential though, so I’m ok with my addiction.

Another year, another winter to undo all of the progress I made the spring, summer, and fall before. At least this year I got back in the groove in March, which added up to a 3 month layoff. It wasn’t as hard to get back in the groove this time around, and at least ALL of the progress wasn’t undone. Where I am now in far as progress (weight, running pace, etc) is where I was in about August of last year. Well ahead.

I’m glad I have the Planet Fitness membership. At $10 a month, it’s worth just keeping even if I hardly go during the summer and fall (I’d rather be outside). It’s good for rainy days, if I get any setbacks again (eg tendinitis in my ankle), etc. The payoff will be in the winter, where I promise myself I’ll be to not have to start over again next year.

As mentioned above, I’ve been doing good with my healthy living checklist. Even through the winter, although I didn’t exercise, I didn’t completely abandon the plan. But oddly when I slack in exercise I guess it’s a mental thing to also start slacking in the diet area. It’s like all or nothing. But it could have been much worse.

I noted in the eat right part to “see below.” Well here it is. I had marked this off last year as done. But really after further review, although I was eating lean, it really wasn’t too healthy. It wasn’t horrible, but I was getting very little fruits and vegetables–if any at all. That’s changed.

I used to eat/drink a meal replacement every morning. It wasn’t ideal. For one, it’s not natural. And second, they are expensive. So I decided to start making my own. What better way than to make some natural smoothies?

I started to experiment with some smoothies and kind of liked it. I started to experiment some more and more, then broke my blender. I fried it. Oh no! Then bought another one and fried it on my first try. Oh no!

Once I got the hand of making good smoothies (before destroying blenders), I wanted to try my hand at making real juices too. I thought about buying a separate juicer. After doing some research, and from advice from my very own wife (ok, Eileen you were right, there I said it), I decided on a VitaMix blender, which is a blender that blends and pulverizes so well that it makes a separate juicer unnecessary.

I was skeptical at first. I’m naturally skeptical. Especially when it comes to online marketing and online reviews, which being in the industry makes you more aware of dirty tricks. I know they have sales affiliates (kind of like Avon). So when I read all of the overwhelming positive reviews, I though something was fishy. But I’ve become wise to “tells” that give away if reviews and blog write ups are bogus or exaggerated. Wading though, there were enough to convince me that maybe this thing was legit.

Boy is it. It blends the living $#!% out of everything. It’s almost scary. You can throw a whole apple in there and blend it to juice and the pulp is so minimal. I’ve read how healthy kale is, and even throwing some of that stuff in gets blended in so much that it’s unrecognizable. Not a single sign of any leaf left. It’s also easy to clean.

So with my new toy, and self appointed title of Smoothie King (which my 3 year old son calls me now 🙂 ), I’ve been getting my daily fruits and veggies. This is probably the biggest improvement in my diet that I’ve made in the last 20 years.

I’ve been on a plan using an app called myfitnesspal, which based on a weight loss goal gives you what daily amount of calories you should be consuming. You can look up foods and the calorie info is there, then can be easily added into a daily diary with a click. This has helped me get a handle on the amount of calories of stuff I’ve been eating. Especially the smoothies, which are healthy but can really pack in calories. I set it for me to lose 1.5 lbs a week.

A side-note on smoothies. Using fruits can up the sugar intake quite a bit. So I try to not go overboard. I also use almond milk instead of cow’s milk (which I might simply use water when I’m out).

The rest is the same. Eat in moderation. Eat lean.

My progress so far (feels like a yearly broken record)… From March to about the middle of May, I dropped 5 lbs. Then from mid-May to today, I dropped another 7 lbs. I think I learned something, plus I think I need to adjust my calorie intake. Total 12. 15 more for my goal (by end of September). 25 more for a stretch goal (which I might cycle off and wait until next year). By the fall I want to get out of weight loss mode and into “athletic” mode with sprinting and hitting the weights at the gym (sounds like another broken record–this year will be the year it gets done!).

Believe it or not, I don’t want to lose weight too fast. I think the process of losing weight in of itself if unhealthy. I think by depriving the body calories it needs to maintain weight, also deprives the body of energy needed for the immune system. I think this is kind of a scale though, so while rapid weight loss is bad, a slow plan isn’t nearly as much (plus the end result is worth it).

So I’m going to carefully monitor my loss, which since mid-May is exceeding 1.5 per week and adjust the app’s recommendation.

What I’ve learned is that for me to really start losing weight, my cardio needs to bring my heart rate up to 160-165.

While I was relegated to the elliptical machines when nursing my ankle tendinitis, I had used the machine’s recommendation (based on my age and weight) to keep me at a cardio target heart rate at 145. That wasn’t enough. When I hit the road again, I brought my heart rate monitor on a few runs and saw that a comfortable jogging pace for me brings my heart rate up to 160-165. And it’s no wonder why the weight loss has kicked in a lot more since jogging again (since all other factors are the same).

That’s all for now.

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