Mixed Results

This “make and eat all my own meals” strategy seems like it’ll work pretty well. I mean, even after sneaking in a single slice of the pizza my team ordered for lunch and eating everything I packed for myself, I came in at about 2100 calories. I may actually need to start packing a second sandwich, especially once I really get back to exercising regularly.

Which I haven’t done yet. I’m not beating myself up here, just acknowledging the facts. I really need to get back to walking on my breaks, and then make sure I get out and get an evening walk in. We want to start hiking by more this summer, so I need to start working on that now. In addition, I need to get back to the weights.

But enough of the “I shoulds”! I’m feeling really good about this success with my calorie budget, and I’m not going to spoil it!

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Making A Few Changes

It’s been… let me think… five days since I had any caffeine. That’s pretty good, I think. Do I miss it? Not really, which sounds crazy when you realize that I get up at 3:30 am to go to work. But I don’t. Getting a good night’s sleep more than makes up for it

It helps that I probably went through my withdrawal headache while I was sleeping through Thursday, I think. Being conscious for those headaches is the number two reason for backsliding. (The number one reason, if you’re curious, is a lack of sleep.). So, that was good.

Now, with a clear head, I can make some plans. And those plans, the health-related part at least, starts with a basic concept: make and eat my own meals. Seriously. I sat down last night, and got my son involved in helping make and pack lunch for everyone. He brought me the ingredients (bread, peanut butter, jelly, apples, bananas), and the containers, and the silverware, and then put it all away as I finished with it. As we worked, my wife (who was loading the dishwasher) explained that we’d be doing this every night and then going for a family walk, and he got excited.

Then they played a video game, and I made my breakfasts for the week. It was nice. And now I have my calorie intake for the day all spelled out, and I know it’ll be filling and nutritious.

Yes. I do feel like I’m turning a corner on all of this.

Watch What You Eat

I just saw this image on a Vox article yesterday:

The point here is not to scare anyone, or to launch into one of my “doughnuts are dessert, not breakfast” rants (although you can probably fill in the details on that last one). No, the point is a far more important one for healthy eating (and, yes, weight loss): be aware of what you’re eating.

See, as far as I’ve been able to work out, there’s no “magic bullet” or “one size fits all” diet and nutrition program that will make everyone healthy. Some people can skip breakfast, have a cup of coffee, and be fine until noon. Other people need a small meal every couple of hours to maintain blood sugar. Some rare people can eat everything in sight all day, and not gain an ounce.

Me? I’m sort of in the “every few hours camp”. During the work day, when I’m paying attention to my calorie budget, I have breakfast at 5 am and second breakfast about 8 am. Then a light lunch between 10:30 and 11, and a snack (usually fruit) about 2. Dinner is between 4 and 5 and then, sometimes, more fruit around 6:30 or 7. That last depends on the day, of course. As I eat I usually just focus on calories, but I’ve been trying to branch out and eat a variety of things – hence my experiments with spinach carrot berry smoothies.

Simple, right?

Well, yes. It is. But “simple” doesn’t always mean “easy”, especially in a world of 24/7 drive-throughs. Eating in moderation is simple, but it takes planning and preparation. You have to make food in advance, and then take it with you. Hitting fast food is easier, because it’s right there, but if you’re trying to eat reasonably it’s nothing like “easy”. If you don’t believe me, just go into a fast food restaurant and try to figure out a filling 450 calorie meal.

So, plan to eat wisely and then follow through, and you’ll feel better. Oh, and can we all just accept that doughnuts really are just a socially acceptable excuse to eat a slice of cake for breakfast?

Smooth, Baby

I need to get more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Simple fact, that, and I suspect that most of us do. So, as an experiment, I’m trying out smoothies. And last night was my first stab at trying out something more than just a bag of fruit in a blender. The results?

(Image from Tyler Capp’s Cooking Comically. Go check it out.)

I exaggerate a little, but my creation really was pretty good. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 8 oz frozen strawberries – 80 calories (10 per ounce)
  • 3 oz carrot – 40 calories
  • 3 oz spinach – 20 calories (6.6 per ounce)
  • 16 oz apple juice – 226 calories
  • 1 oz vanilla protein powder – 120 calories

Directions

  1. Put everything in a blender
  2. Blend until smooth.

I ended up with 31 ounces of beverage, and drinks by all of it would be 486 calories. That works out to, let me do some math, about 16 calories per ounce. And I could probably cut that by reducing the strawberries and apple juice and increasing the carrot and spinach – the apple juice, for instance, makes it taste almost too sweet.

What do I do with it? Well, to start with, it’s not a meal replacement. I’m trying to change my eating and exercise habits, after all, not simply be on a diet. Instead, I’m using it as an after-exercise drink. See, I get up to exercise around 3 am but I generally don’t eat breakfast until 5 am. So, the idea is that the smoothie will give me one nutrients to recover with.

Also, it tastes good. Did I mention that? If not, it does – and that’s important. Health or not, there’s no way I’d try and gag down 10 ounces of spinach juice at 4 am.

Eating Well: Chicken Noodle Soup

First off, let me just say that I hit all of my fitness goals yesterday. So, whatever t was I decided while lamenting my lack of focus seems to have gotten me focused. Maybe I should lament some more?

Nah.

This chicken noodle soup recipe helped with hitting that goal. It’s tasty comfort food, and it’s nice and warm, and that comes in handy at this time of the year. The temperature dropped some 20 degrees last night, so a warm bowl of soup is nice.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (1,128 calories)
  • 2 quarts chicken broth (120 calories)
  • 8 ounces egg noodles (873 calories)
  • 1 large onion (60 calories)
  • 1 large carrot (30 calories)
  • 2 celery stalks (12 calories)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop up all the vegetables and put them in a baking pan. Put the chicken on top of the pan, and bake the whole thing for 45 minutes.
  3. Shred the cooked chicken. Add it and all the vegetables and the broth to a pot, and bring it to a boil.
  4. Add the egg noodles, and boil until the noodles are cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool to a temperature that won’t scald your mouth and throat, and enjoy.

Notes:

  1. The entire pot comes in at 2,223 calories, give or take specific ingredients. When I fished it up, one bowl was about 1/8 of the pot, so that’s roughly 278 calories. Not bad, and it makes the second helping you’ll want a whole lot easier to justify.
  2. Seasonings? Sure, if you want. Me, I just tossed in a tablespoon of a seasoning blend I have – a mixture of garlic, onion, pepper, sea salt, and parsley. To tell the truth, I don’t think it was necessary.
  3. This reheats well in the microwave or on the stove. Assuming you have leftovers.

Eating Well: Enchiladas Worked Better

Almost as if I was trying to make up for the previous night’s fiasco, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner last night. They were a hit, except that my son complained that they were too spicy. That struck me as odd, since I had used 1/9th the chili powder the recipe called for (leaving them a little bland for my tastes), but my wife pointed out that the seasoning had adhered to the meat and left spicy pockets.

I still don’t see it, but I’ll take her word for it.

The most surprising thing about them was that they let me hit my calorie budget. I didn’t think I would, yesterday, but they were actually pretty low calorie or what they were. Let’s see if I can remember the details…

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 lb chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken breast)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 large tortillas
  • shredded cheese (about 8 oz worth)

Steps

  1. Chop the onion, and sauté it in cooking oil or butter until soft, about 5 minutes
  2. Add chicken, cook another 5 minutes
  3. Add tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, and spices. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Pour about half a cup of sauce into the bottom of a baking pan and spread it around.
  6. Ladle about a cup of chicken and sauce into a tortilla. Roll the tortilla, and place it into the pan. Repeat, until you have filled the pan with delicious enchiladas.
  7. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, and spread cheese over them as desired.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes.

Notes:

  1. This worked out to about 380 calories when I made it. Your mileage will vary, depending on the ingredients.
  2. I’m pretty sure you can enchilada anything like this. Ground beef? Sure. Refuted beans? Sure. Shrimp? Why not? Peanut butter and jelly? Well, I wouldn’t, but go wild!
  3. Some corn and diced peppers would have been nice in this as well, I think. It’s probably not an authentic enchilada, but the closest I’ve ever been to “authentic” Mexican food is the Mexican restaurant down the street, which is owned by a guy who speaks Spanish. I’m not sweating the authenticity of my food.

Have fun!

Eating Well: The Slop I Made Last Night

I really thought I was going to have a recipe here today. We had leftover roast beef, and I’d found a recipe for turning it int “beef and broccoli over pasta” that looked good. Sure I was going to use rice instead, but I like rice so everyone wins! Right?

Wrong.

The recipe was… bland. Boring. Tasteless. I ate two bites, added salt, ate two more bites the salt didn’t bring out any subtle, hidden flavors. There were no such bile, hidden flavors to bring out. It was tedious, and I pitched it all. We had scrambled egg sandwiches for dinner instead, with grapes.

Much better.