Ditching the Sugar

I got some great feedback from my last post about my 5 pound weight gain and have been trying to implement some of your suggestions. So far I’ve been eliminating sugar, stopped buying junk food, stopped having protein shakes after my workouts, eating real food and posted my Action Plan on the refrigerator.

action plan

Eliminating sugar has been a slow process, but I’m having good success. I still have some sugar in foods, but now no candy or sweets. For example, I have not yet eliminated things like barbecue sauce (and may never!) and the packets of organic oatmeal that include sugar. Once the oatmeal is gone, I will switch to plain. I really like the natural sweetness of whole grains and prefer them plain or sometimes with oatmeal I add a little maple syrup. I have never liked the whole wheat breads on the market because they add too much sugar or honey for my taste. I prefer my sandwiches to lean towards the savory palate than sweet. Well, I don’t eat sandwiches very often, but if I do…

I struggled with bad cravings and frustration over what to eat instead of sweets. But the cravings are becoming less and I’m starting to be more comfortable picking healthy alternatives. Goodness, for a long time I ate very little sugar or white flour, it’s sounds odd to be in this place.

At the same time, I am beginning to reject white flour items also. This is much easier for me since don’t really care for white flour items that much. It’s just convenient to eat a hamburger on a bun, etc. My husband also loves all things white flour, so I think I’ve just let him win the war lately, so to speak.

Without counting calories or restricting my portions in any way, I have lost 3 of those 5 pounds just by eating healthier.

I am still struggling with being well rested. I really need to get tough with myself on this. I need to go to bed at an earlier time. I get up most days at 4:45 to work out. Ha, it was 4:30, but I scrimped out 15 minutes from my waking up time so that I could sleep 15 minutes longer. Not bad, but I really need to just go to bed earlier!

I’m still rethinking the exercise. I’ve basically cut back for now, but for a lot of other reasons too. So, still thinking how to change things up. Here’s a picture from this morning of the park where I run on the bike trail. It’s so peaceful and serene and just beautiful there. A great way to start the day.

sunrise

A family of turkeys is back in our neighborhood this year. Praying none of the neighbors gets any ideas of Thanksgiving dinner. There’s 7-8 little ones šŸ™‚

turkeys

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Where’s This Weight Coming From?

Hi bloggers everywhere! I’ve been gaining weight (only 5ish pounds) and not sure why. To summarize my recent weight background for you… I have gained weight and lost it off and on the last twelve years. After completing my masters degree two years ago which included a lot of sitting-time, stress and lack of sleep, I found myself 44 pounds overweight, but really at least 60 pounds higher than a weight I’m comfortable at. I refocused on eating healthy and exercise and lost 30 pounds in about nine months. I maintained that (and some more at times) loss for a whole year, easy-peasy.

My new best bud, Gracie.

My new best bud, Gracie.

Something changed this spring. I gradually gained 5 pounds. I think I have it stopped now, but time will tell. I’m not sure what happened, but here are some of my thoughts.

Exercise

The same: I’m still running. Not the distances I was hoping for, but 3-4 times a week, totaling 10-12 miles. Usually one day hills, one day speed, one day easy, one day “long”.
Different: I added two days a week of Insanity. It’s not at home with DVD’s but a class run through the recreation department.
Possible problem: Overtraining. It doesn’t sound like it, but honestly, I’m really tired a lot. First, Insanity is brutal. By the end of the 50 minutes you are spent and dripping with sweat. Second, I could use a second rest day sometimes. But IĀ feel like I don’t exercise that much and really want to increase my mileage. Not sure what to do.
Possible problem: Hunger. I’m hungry all the time. I have been able to identify some of this due to fatigue. I’m eating to get more energy when I’m tired. The solution would be to either sleep more or train less. Drink more water.
Possible problem: Not enough distance for my long run. I prefer longer distances for my long run to burn more calories and to enjoy the runner’s high, with less miles on the weekday runs. Now to get myself to run longer.

Surveying the world from the safety of the brush

Surveying the world from the safety of the brush

Diet

Different: Eating lots of the wrong foods. Candy, sweets, chips type things. Grabbing for the easiest thing when I’m hungry, hungry, hungry.
Possible problem: Eating the wrong foods does not satisfy nutritional needs and causes even more hunger. Eating refined carbohydrates causes cravings for refined carbohydrates. There is only one solution to this – stop eating the wrong foods. This could alsoĀ be contributing to my fatigue.

Different: I tried fasting 16 hours a day. This was an experiment I did for a couple weeks.
Possible problem: I felt deprived and starving. I think there was some backlash from this. I find myself eating faster now (aka shoveling the food in). I’ve never been a particularly fast eater, but now I eat sometimes as though it might be my last meal ever.

Different: I tried a high-protein diet with some girlfriends to kick off summer. I lost 4 pounds (ten pounds less than I weigh now).
Possible problem: Again I think there was some backlash to feeling a bit deprived. Diets suck!

Those are my thoughts, can you tell I’m a problem-solver?

Let's Go! Let's Go! Run! Run!

Let’s Go! Let’s Go! Run! Run!

Here’s my Action Plan:

  • tweak my exercise habits
  • cut out the junk food (so hard to do)
  • make sure I’m well-rested
  • start blogging again
Gracie, our two year old rescued Treeing Walker Coonhound

Gracie, our two year old rescued Treeing Walker Coonhound

Read and Eat

I’m still fasting 16 hours each day. Last week I was not perfect with the 16 hours and I did not count calories every day. It was a struggle. I have not lost weight or gained weight. This week I have been counting calories. I’m hoping to make it through the week tracking even if I eat a lot and the number is high. I really need to get a handle on what my numbers are and what I should aim for if I want to lose weight. I know how many calories each day used to work for weight loss, but since I’ve been exercising (and not consistently tracking) I don’t know.

I started some research on fasting and metabolism, but so far I haven’t found anything worth posting. I’ve only been through Google scholar and the scholarly papers are tedious and difficult to interpret. I’ve really only found information on rat studies and metabolic measures that I am not familiar with. So, not very helpful, but I thought it was worth looking into. Today I plan to move onto the world wide web to see if there’s any information there that’s helpful that I can share. In the meantime, I’ve made a few interesting dishes I can tell you about.

I love to make a big pot of chili. It’s healthy and there’s always plenty left over for an easy lunch or dinner or to freeze. I’ve beenĀ reading Scott Jurek’s book, Eat & Run,Ā and came across his recipe for Minnesota Winter Chili. I’m only half-way through the book, but so far it’s a good read. I love to read about runners. Their stories always motivate and inspire me. Scott made this recipe sound so delicious I just had to try it. I’ve never made a chili without meat, but this recipe is vegetarian. It’s a basic chili recipe with lots of vegetables and instead of meat, add 1/2 cup dry bulgur wheat and 2+1/2 cups water.Ā The bulgurĀ gives the appearance of ground meat, so you might be able to fool a meat lover. The texture is not the same, but still a nice added mouth feel to the chili. I know winter’s almost over hereĀ (yay!) but it’s still pretty chilly and I found this dish very satisfying.

chili

Scott Jurek’s Minnesota Winter Chili

I have yet to make the bean brownies that I’ve seen popping up all over social media.Ā So I tried another recipe fromĀ Scott’s book, Chocolate Adzuki Bars. I’d never heard of adzuki, butĀ it’sĀ a type of bean. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it was a total failure, inedible. Not to give up, I tried again, adjusting the ingredients and tasting until it seemed more “right”. It tastes okay. It’s edible. But it is nothing like a brownie. I plan to try a different recipe next time! This picture is of the second batch.

 

Looks yummy but it's not.

Looks yummy but it’s not.

Lastly, I can’t forget the St. Patrick Day’s corned beef and cabbage. This year I went to the internet for inspiration. I found this interesting article comparing classic boiled beef with baked. I was happy to try the baked version (they said it was the diners’ preferred version). I did cook it longer than they recommended, 3 hours for a 3 lb brisket. This turned out to be one of the best corned beefs I ever had (and I’ve had some really good ones, some famous ones). Darling said it was “better than”. Isn’t he sweet?

corned beef