Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eat More to Weigh Less.... What?

Sounds counter intuitive, right?  How in the world can eating more food (which in turn means more calories) result in weight loss?  A year ago there is no way in the world you would have been able to convince me this was true.  I was a faithful 1,200 calorie a day girl.  But I wasn't losing weight!

Several months ago I came across a website that several online friends had suggested for calorie counting.  The Daily Plate became such a useful tool for me.  See, calorie counting was something that I had to be pretty strict about for a while.  I had to do it to be honest with myself about what I was eating and to hold myself accountable.  I also have to measure my food.  Portion sizes are so skewed in our culture.  You would be surprised exactly what a 2 Tbs portion of peanut butter really looks like.  As healthy eating became second nature I've been able to back off strict counting, but I definitely still do it every now and again to keep myself in check.

The first thing you do is establish a daily calorie goal.  Your body burns a certain number of calories just existing.  For my height, weight, age and lifestyle (not including exercise, we'll get to that) I should consume around 2,100 calories per day to maintain my current weight.  Since I'm still looking to lose a little body fat I can cut back on my calories to create a deficit.  A 500-750 calorie per day deficit keeps you on track for a safe and sustainable 1-1.5 pound per week weight loss.

So this brings my daily NET calorie goal to 1,600.  The net part is very important.

Another key to being healthy, both physically and mentally for me, is exercise.  I'm so glad that I actually enjoy exercise.  I would hate to view it as a necessary evil and have to force myself to do it anyway.  When you exercise and burn calories.... YOU GET TO EAT THEM BACK.  Seriously, I think this is the best thing ever.  I love eating more than I love running... and that says a lot.  This part of the formula is something that a lot of people overlook.  You need to fuel your body properly for the exercise that you do.

My average workouts burn 350-550 calories.  The Daily Plate has an exercise tracking function that helps you determine calorie burn, just be sure not to overestimate.  So on any given day I'm eating 2,000+ calories and still confident that I'm on track to lose weight.

Eating less calories than your body truly needs will not facilitate quicker weight loss.  In fact, your body is more likely to hang on to fat reserves if it feels that it isn't getting adequate fuel to function.

I still overhear ladies talking about their 1,200 calories and I want to reach out to them and tell them there's a better way!  There is life beyond rice cakes and baby carrots!  Ok... so I eat baby carrots all the time.  I like them!  Seriously, I've found such a passion for healthy living (and eating) and never knew that I wasn't eating enough.  I can't help but think that there are other women that don't know either.  Of course, every woman and metabolism is different, so even if we are the exact same height and weight our needs will be different.

I hope that someone out there somewhere found this at least a little bit informational and helpful.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Less than two months to go.....

I can't believe that in less than two months I'll be running my first (but most definitely not my last) half marathon!  I'm running the half at Chosen: Marathon for Adoption in New Braunfels.  I've really enjoyed the training so far in spite of the brutal heat and humidity.  I've learned so much these last few weeks/months and thought I would write some of it out here so that I can come back after the race and see if it still holds true and how my perspective might have changed.

1. The only way to run faster is to run faster.  I read somewhere that the only way to increase your speed is to do speedwork.  It's definitely working!  I do one tempo run or interval run a week.  Nothing formal, but I like to see just how fast I can run the 5K distance, or I'll set out to do 2-3 miles of sprint/jog intervals.  The other day my Nike+ said that I was running at a sub-9 minute per mile pace for the first time ever.  I'll never be the fastest but it's so rewarding to see a definite improvement.  Last year I was running anywhere from 13 to 15 minute miles.  This year I'm averaging 11:45ish.  I have a theory that once the weather cools off I'll see a huge difference as well.  We shall see.

2. Long runs are NOT scary. My number one fear when I put together my training schedule was the weekly long run.  My farthest distance up until then was 6 miles and that was only a couple of times.  So far I have run 7, 8 and 9 mile long runs.  I'm always careful to go slower than normal so I don't burn out before the end.  Right now I'm all about the distance on the long runs and not the speed.  We'll see how I do with double-digit runs.  My first one is coming up this weekend!

3. It's hard to lose weight when training for a race.  I heard this and thought PSHAW, I can do it.  I'll just keep maintaining the same calorie deficit that I have for a while now.  No Way!  I learned a new word from a blogger that I follow. Runger.  It's the hunger that you get from running more and upping your weekly mileage while training for a race.  This is some serious business I tell you.  The scale hasn't moved in weeks and I'm perfectly fine with that.  I'm feeling great about my body and how strong it is becoming while understanding that it needs fuel to do so.  I do try to make sure that I stuff my face with smart food choices but I can't say that I'm 100% successful.  We'll see if this weight loss plateau continues.

Some other random thoughts about running:

- When I'm stressed I want to go for a run.  This beats feeling the urge to hide under my bed with a box of Little Debbie treats.

- I have learned that while it's cooler in the mornings it is more humid.  So I get to choose, heat or humidity?  Well, I don't really get to choose.  My schedule is pretty much dictated by my husbands work schedule and when he is home to be with the girls.

- Why did it take me more than a year to learn that I need water DURING my runs?  Maybe this won't be the case this winter, but it definitely is a neccesity right now.

That's all I have for now.  I'm sure I'll think of more stuff and be back to blog about it.  If you read all this, Yay!  If not, I don't blame you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

The summer temperatures here in Texas can be brutal.  There's nothing like a chilly treat to beat the heat.  This fun to make twist on the ice cream sandwich earns bonus points as a great way to get the kids in the kitchen with you.  I used the classic Nestle Toll House cookie recipe, but these would be great with any of your favorite cookies, even the refrigerated dough kind.  Mix and match your ice cream flavors as well.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches


1 batch Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies

Half gallon of your favorite vanilla ice cream, softened

Mini chocolate chips or sprinkles


Prepare cookies according to recipe. Cool completely.

Place a heaping tablespoon of ice cream on flat side of 1 cookie; top with flat side of second cookie to make a sandwich. Place morsels or sprinkles on plate. Roll sides of sandwiches in morsels or sprinkles. Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Crustless Quiche

Quiche is another extremely versatile recipe.  In this lighter version I have reduced the carbs, calories and fat by omitting the crust and making some healthy substitutions.  I made it two different ways and you can definitely add anything else that you think would be yummy.

Crustless Quiche

Basic Ingredients:

5 large eggs
1 cup 1% milk (or whatever milk you have will be fine)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground mustard
black pepper to taste

Additional Ingredient Options:

1 cup sauted veggies - spinach, asparagus, onions, anything you like
1 cup cooked meat (bacon, sausage, etc)
1 cup shredded cheese - any kind of cheese you love - be creative!

You can definitely mix meats and veggies.  Really... anything goes here.

Carmelized onion, spinach and sun dried tomato-
Slice 1/4 yellow onion very thin.  Using 1 tsp olive oil, cook over medium-low heat until very soft and carmelized (this will take a while, just be patient).  Remove onions from the pan and turn heat up to medium.  Saute 1 tsp minced garlic and 2 cups baby spinach until spinach is wilted (about 2 minutes).  Allow spinach to cool and remove as much water as possible by squeezing it.  Roughly chop the spinach. Chop 3-4 sundried tomatoes.  I used muenster cheese with this quiche.

Bacon and cheddar-
Cook six slices of bacon until crispy.  Drain well and chop. (I cut mine up before I cook it.  It cooks much faster that way).


Preheat oven to 350.  Spray glass pie dish with nonstick spray.  Place meat or veggies and cheese in the bottom of the pan.  Whisk eggs, milk and seasonings until well combined and pour over the top.  Back 35-45 minutes until set.  Cool a bit before serving.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Homemade Granola Rocks!

I love a recipe that you can change up to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.  You can use any dried fruits or nuts that you like in this basic granola recipe.  I've been eating 1/4 cup of this with a low-carb yogurt for breakfast.  It's so good!

Fruit & Nut Granola


5 cups steel cut (or course) oats
2 cups nuts (I used almonds and pistachios)
2 cups dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 Tbs cinnamon


Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to coat.  Spread into a large pan and bake 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creamy Guacamole

Avocados (and anything derived from them) were on the list of foods I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole for most of my life.  Pregnancy cravings with Brooke (now 10) turned my dining world upside down and luckily this was one of them.  Not long after, a coworker at the time showed me how to make guacamole at home.  It's so easy and this one has an extra ingredient that gives it a creamier texture.

Creamy Guacamole


3 ripe avocados*
Juice of two limes
1 roma tomato - seeded and diced
1-2 fresh jalapenos - seeded and finely diced (or not seeded if you like the heat)
1/2 red onion - finely diced
2 cloves garlic - minced (or 2 tsp minced garlic from a jar)
handful of chopped cilantro
1 Tbs chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 c. Miracle Whip
salt & pepper to taste


Seed and chop ingredients 3-7 and have them ready to go.  Remove pit from avocados, scoop out the pulp and smash in a bowl (potato masher works great).  I like mine pretty smooth.  Combine remaining ingedients and stir well.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

To keep guacamole in the fridge, cover bowl with plastic wrapped pressed onto the surface of the guacamole.  This will keep the guac form turning brown when exposed to air.

* A ripe avocado is relatively firm, but will yield to gentle pressure.  Also, the small knob at the stem end should come free easily and when removed the spot should be green, not brown.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salsa

As a native Texas girl one of my favorite cuisines is Tex-Mex (is that even a cuisine?).  Unfortunately with all of the tortillas, cheese and sour cream it often isn't the healthiest meal.  In an attempt to add flavor to my fajitas I decided to throw together a non-traditional salsa.  You can always adjust the seasonings to your taste and even leave out any ingredients that you just plain don't like.

Also, the recipe calls for roasted corn.  I love to roast corn on the grill!  Buy the corn unshucked.  Soak the ears of corn in water for an hour then grill over high heat, 5 minutes per side.  If you have any left over this is great way to use it.  If you don't (or don't want the extra step of roasting it just for the salsa) just used frozen (thawed of course) or even canned corn.

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salsa

1 15oz can black beans - drained and rinsed
1 ear of corn - roasted, cooled and kernels cut away from the cob
2 roma tomatoes - seeded and diced
1/4 red onion - finely diced
1 jalapeno - seeded and finely diced
Handful of fresh cilantro - roughly chopped
juice of 1 large lime (or 2 small ones)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Seriously the easiest instructions ever.  Combine everything in a bowl.  Cover and chill for at least an hour.  The longer you let it chill the better it will be.  Serve with chips, on tacos or fajitas.

I bet it would be awesome the next day.... but it didn't last that long at my house.