Spring Break! Kind of…And Diet Hacks!

This week has been our ever-so-wonderful Spring Break from school…but don’t let the word break fool you, I have read three quarters of one book, took three pages of notes for a presentation, have another book to finish as well as another 120 pages or so to read for a different class…I have gathered resources for a research project (which I must now write a Precis for), researched for another paper I have to write by Tuesday, I have to find a topic for an additional research project, and I was really hoping to catch up on some extra credit in another class to potentially raise my grade..because lord knows I have no idea how I did on my midterms yet. I have also been working my normal schedule this week.

To add to that pile, the Ryan and I found a new place to live and will be moving in a couple of months. Hooray for more floorspace and a safer area! Not hooray to my commute to school being doubled and my work commute tacking on an additional 15 minutes..T__T; Also packing..packing sucks. BUT! It is what it is. At least I can decorate, (we can paint and everything!) which will make my heart smile.

With all of this business, you’d think I’d be hard at work, right? Nope. I have definitely decompressed by spending countless hours on Pinterest and I even went out window shopping the other day. WHY had I never gone into Hobby Lobby before? There was definitely some extreme sensory overload there. All the colors! All the projects! All the different ways I could spend way too much money and not even blink. I am proud, though. I picked up one item in Pier 1 and then talked myself out of it. I did not buy anything anywhere…except groceries later in the day. That’s some self restraint, folks!

Speaking of self-restraint, I have managed to somehow lose 10 pounds on this diet thing I’m doing, and am finding myself having that problem where my pants are starting to get loose and feel weird, but they’re not quite loose enough to go down an entire size. Don’t you hate that? Annoying. Anyway, another problem I’m finding is that today, I was a dumbass and got on the food board on Pinterest (why did I do that? I must be hungry) and everything on there looked soooooooo bad for me in a way that made me want to binge eat all of it because it would be soooooooo worth it. At least during the time I was eating it…after that it would probably turn into a mountain of shame and regret. I was even bad and ate a Skinny Cow chocolate bar today. Bam, I’m a rebel! 110 calories be damned!

I’m also craving enchiladas verdes more than anything and for the life of me I cannot tell you why. I don’t even really like green sauce. No, I’m not pregnant….I’m just carb and cheese and deep-fried deprived! I want Doritos! I want tacos! I want enchiladas! I want deep fried, fatty goodness! So I’m going to make spaghetti tonight with turkey meatballs. And maybe tomorrow I’ll make enchiladas verdes because I have all of the ingredients (Pro Tip: corn tortillas are significantly less calories than flour). Maybe I’ll even blog that, because it is on my Pinterest board, and I did say I would blog some Pinterest recipes..right?

In the mean time, the pictures I have of myself in my wedding dress (conveniently located on my phone so I have a portable reminder of why I’m inflicting this torture upon myself) are serving as motivation, and it has worked. I have also picked up the hobby of growing orchids so that I can focus my free-time energy on NOT snacking mindlessly, but instead on nurturing something beautiful and rewarding. Orchids are pretty!

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But for those of you who are dieting, and are having a hard time, I will share a few cheats and tips and tricks I have learned in the last month or so:

1) The MyFitnessPal app is pretty damn awesome! It really helps you to visualize what you are eating and how many calories it is. WARNING: Double check the math! Just because something on the app says it’s X amount of calories doesn’t mean it is. The calorie amounts in the app are input by users, so they tend to vary..and not just by a little bit. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, put in your own. It helps. Trust me. It also tracks the calories you burn with exercise. Plus the little graph lets you track your weight over time and it’s such an awesome feeling to watch that line go down.

2) Popsicle Fudgesicle bars are a life saver. I have a serious addiction to chocolate. I tried that Pinterest recipe where you take the Greek yogurt and you put cocoa powder and Stevia in it…yeah, the sweetener didn’t really make it sweet, no matter how much I added. So then it just tasted like powdery, off-brand plain yogurt…plus it was still like 100 calories. It was gross. The Fudgesicles are the best thing since sliced bread – 2 of them for 80 calories, one of them for 40. It’s nice to have the sweet tooth and get the chocolate without feeling guilty. I can have three Fudge pops for the same calories as I can have one Skinny Cow treat..Plus you get about 20 fudgesicles in a box as opposed to 6 skinny cow treats for the same price if not slightly less depending on where you live…Think about it.

Choose THIS:Fudge

Not THIS:SkinnyCow

3) Stevia is your friend. I bought some organic Stevia after reading about all the fun controversy surrounding it, and if the Mayans could use it, I could too. I’m sure Stevia didn’t wipe out their civilization. If you want some healthier options to the Fudgesicles, try fruit with Stevia. I have been getting strawberries at the Amish market and have been cutting them up and putting some Stevia on them. They’re a delicious snack, and a cup of sliced strawberries is 52 calories.

4) BEWARE THE SALT! Sodium causes you to retain water, which makes you hold onto water weight and thus gets discouraging..it can make you look like you’re not losing weight even if you are. So many processed and canned goods contain ridiculous levels of it! What’s more, the recommended daily dose of sodium is ~1500 milligrams. According to the CDC, the average American consumes 3400 milligrams per day! WAY too much! Excess sodium can raise your blood pressure, and in turn can put you at risk for heart disease and other nasty diseases! If you want delicious spices without the salt, try Mrs. Dash brand. Yummy!

4) Measure EVERYTHING!! I mean it. Seriously. Portions, portions, PORTIONS!! 35 calories for a Tablespoon of creamer? I stir my coffee with the tablespoon. 200 calories for 2 oz of uncooked pasta? Weigh it on a scale. (Also, 2 oz may not seem like a lot, but once its cooked its actually a good portion)

scale

5) Substitute whenever possible! When I make pancakes, I use Stevia instead of sugar and I use apple sauce instead of oil. Why? Because one tablespoon of oil is 120 calories and one tablespoon of applesauce is like 40. Check out this list of things I sub on a regular basis:

  • Need chips? Choose Special K Chips. 110 calories for 27 chips. Count them. Portion them into baggies and take them with your lunch. It actually makes you feel like you’re getting more, and you probably are. We all know that a Doritos bag, which is 175-200 calories for the snack size, is half full of air and probably doesn’t have 27 chips in it. Also, White Cheddar Cheetos are 150 calories for 1 ounce (the bag says about 32 pieces) where the traditional Cheetos are 150 calories for 21 pieces. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my Cheetos, I’ll totally eat 11 more pieces for the same price.
  • Like sandwiches? Arnold brand Sandwich Thins are 100 calories for the entire thin. They come pre-sliced so you don’t have to, and not only are they darling (who doesn’t like to eat tiny food?) but they cut the bread calories in half. So I can have a whole sandwich AND a couple snacks and still fit within my calorie limit for lunch. Bam! Plus, they make good toast (the Ryan had me make him an egg sandwich on one this morning ^_^). BONUS: No high fructose corn syrup.
  • Wine! I am simmering spaghetti as we speak, and instead of using legitimate wine in my sauce, I am using Holland House “cooking wines.” Yes, I know they’re notorious for having a lot of sodium in them. But it’s less than 200 mg of sodium, and I’m cool with that. 1/2 cup of this wine is 80 calories. 1/2 cup of a drinking wine used for cooking, let’s say a Merlot, is about 123 calories.
  • Choose your condiments wisely! Did you know that yellow mustard has no calories? Light mayonnaise is 35 calories per tablespoon, which is totally more than enough for a small sandwich. Traditional mayonnaise has 57 calories per tablespoon.
  • Instead of Olive Oil, use PAM whenever possible. One tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories…that means that 1/2 cup of Olive Oil, used for some recipes, is 960 calories!! Obviously, you can’t use PAM under some circumstances – last night I made roasted boiling potatoes (the super cute tiny ones!) and I coated them with 1 tbls of olive oil before putting them in the oven. PAM would not have worked. But for cooking a sunny side up egg or sauteeing chicken, it works just fine.
  • Go sugar free where you can. I bought sugar free syrup by Spring Tree. 1/4 cup of syrup is 30 calories. Log Cabin syrup (my favorite brand!) is 100 calories per 1/4 cup. On top of the substitutions I make in my pancakes, I don’t feel guilty at all eating them for breakfast.
  • Instead of sour cream or cream cheese, use Greek yogurt. Instead of butter, use avocado – you still get fat, but you get the GOOD fat. In place of oil, use applesauce where possible.
  • Go lean: The general rule of thumb is that chicken is about 40 calories per ounce. Beef is about 72 calories per ounce raw and ground, and pork is about 62 calories per ounce. Turkey is 38 calories per ounce roasted and 67 per ounce ground (probably because of the added fat). I have made turkey chili (when you have 16 oz of meat, the 5 calorie difference adds up to about 80-100 calories saved) and it tastes great! Two Bob Evans turkey sausage links are 60 calories for two, while the traditional sausage links are 93 for two. Additionally, I have switched to turkey meatballs instead of beef. (It may not seem like a lot, but throughout the day saving 30 calories here and 40 there can add up to an additional treat for you later in the day if you so desired (saved 100? Have two fudge bars!)).

6) Eat breakfast! Studies have shown that eating a good breakfast will boost your metabolism and give you energy throughout the day. Also, breakfast should be your largest meal of the day. I generally have two eggs, a cup of oatmeal with a tablespoon of brown sugar, coffee with creamer and a clementine. The protein gives me energy and keeps me full, as well as the oatmeal, which is less soluble so my system feels fuller, longer because it takes more time to break it down. Coffee I can’t live without, and the fruit is nice and sweet and makes me feel like I’m eating extra with my breakfast.

7) Get enough sleep! Studies have also shown that the less sleep you get, the more your body will crave snacks that are bad for you! I know, who knew? This is because when you don’t get enough sleep, certain chemicals in your brain cause you to a) not feel full after you eat and b) stimulate your appetite. This may be the body’s way of craving more energy since it didn’t get it from sleeping. For information related to this study, click here.

8) Most Importantly: Don’t deprive yourself!!! Outback Steakhouse is one of the Ryan and I’s favorite haunts! We went there a few weeks ago and since I knew we were going ahead of time, I looked up Outback’s menu online. The 6 oz filet with grilled shrimp on the barbie and steamed fresh green beans is 474 calories. If you eat the bread without butter, that’s an additional 200 calories for one loaf. So I ate my meal and half the bread, and it was sooo delicious. I ordered unsweetened iced tea, and I was good to go. This past weekend, I am fairly certain I ate about 6 mini brownies with Bailey’s buttercream frosting, as well as way too much spinach dip on bread and Tzatziki on pitas and some Carne Asada (it was a multicultural St. Patrick’s!). I also had a giant green cocktail. I gained 3 lbs overnight and then lost it again the next day (can you say SALT?). Your body can’t process a badrillion calories in a day, so every once and a while you just have to let yourself eat! Just be aware – the Ryan’s insides (and mine) were extremely unhappy. That will start to happen once you clean up your eating habits.

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Now, not just dieting will get you where you want to go. We all know you have to do exercise. That said, I have lost 10 lbs and all I really do is walk around school all day and I speed walk for 30 minutes during my lunch break on my days at work. On my days not at work, I do exercises like squats and lifting small weights and ab stuff, but it’s not cardio. I will jump rope, though, and I always take the stairs. Mostly, I just want to slim down and tone up so that I can do my sleeveless wedding gown some justice. Also, another tip: take advantage of special offers! My office building has a gym in it that members can pay $28 (I think) a month to use. Since I am only there 2 days a week, I didn’t want to join, but I recently saw a “Fitness Challenge” that our gym is hosting that is specifically geared toward non-members. For $25, I can come in during my lunch for 8 weeks and work with a personal coach who will help me set and achieve goals, and I have access to all of the machines. Additionally, they’ll measure my progress by taking body fat measurements. If I complete the 8 weeks successfully, I will get my $25 back. Unfortunately, I will not complete the 8 weeks because in the 7th week, my summer field school will start, but it’s still $25 well spent – it breaks down to $1.25 per day to use the gym and receive coaching during the days I am there. I’m cool with that. Another cool thing is that I pay out my butt in mandatory fees (those aren’t so cool) in my tuition at school. One of those fees is an “athletic fee.” What does that mean? I dunno, something to do with jocks, I suppose. That said, I can use the school gym (which isn’t a gymnasium, it’s an actual gym with machines and everything) for free. Be aware of options like this in your surroundings, and definitely utilize them!

Don’t like the gym? Don’t worry, I don’t either! But there are plenty of fun things you can do at home with no equipment! For instance, the Ryan is big into doing Cross Fit type stuff, but it’s about $250 a month for him to join a center. He has ordered a few kettle bells of varying weights, and through intense study and talking to folks who used to be in the military (they use Cross Fit in their training), he has done a bunch of exercises here at the house..and let me tell you, his arms look sexy. 😉 He may not think so, but I sure do. Another thing is to make it fun! My mom wants to look good in her Mother of the Bride pictures, and she has lost 12 pounds so far (I’m so proud of her!) doing Zumba with a friend! And of course HAVE A BUDDY! Buddies will keep you motivated and give you someone who you can count on. Early in the game, I hit a wall for like 6 days and I was so discouraged and wanted to give up…but the Ryan was insistent that I not give up, and suddenly I lost three pounds over 4 days! It was so awesome!

And last but not least: DON’T GIVE UP! You can do it! 😀

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2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Spring Break! Kind of…And Diet Hacks!

  1. Wow, you are doing great! And you’re learning a lot of good tips (thanks for sharing). I know you’ll be gorgeous in your dress, but even better, after that one day, you’ll still look and feel terrific! I’m all for looking great in jeans and jammies ANY day. If you need a new enchilada verde recipe, I made these recently and they were uber-wonderful, and not bad for you either! The sauce is absolutely incredible. http://3hungrymonkeys.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/black-bean-enchilada-stacks/

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