Monthly Archives: October 2014

Does Protein Oatmeal Taste Good?

That’s the first thought I had when I read some of the recommended meals on the New Rules of Lifting for Women nutrition program. It advocated making old fashioned oats as you normally would, then stirring in a scoop of protein powder and 1/2 cup of milk. I was skeptical. But I tried it.

Turns out, it’s pretty good (I also added dried strawberries). I use vanilla protein powder, so it gives it a little sweetness. It’s my go-to breakfast of the moment, and clocks in at 305 calories and 25 grams of protein. This morning I chose to eat the protein oatmeal I brought to work instead of the fresh doughnuts offered for a co-worker’s going away part. Now THAT is promising.

I didn’t quite hit my 2000 calorie goal today. Before my workout I was just over 200 calories short. This is likely because I didn’t plan my meals, and once again I was too busy running from meeting to meeting in the morning to eat my snack, so it got combined with lunch. I still didn’t feel hungry at any point in the day, and after sitting around on the couch for a few hours I went downstairs to do my strength workout.

Deadlift. Nailed it (although some of you would laugh when you see what I’m currently lifting). Shoulder press. Nailed it (need to get some heavier dumbbells). Lat pulldown. Nailed it (as much as I could while substituting a resistance band for a cable station). Lunges.

Ugh, I hate the lunges. I wish they would go back to Jazzercise or Sweating to the Oldies or wherever they came from.

I think I made progress, though. I know my form was terrible, and I think I was trying to take my trailing leg back to far. It still is like pulling teeth to get through two sets of 15, and I was only holding 5-pound weights.

And, a few crunches on the fitness ball. Easy peasy. My reward:

Post Workout Protein ShakeI need to get some bananas and fruit juice in the house so I can start playing with my flavors. This one was strawberry, again. Or, I could get chocolate and do a choco-peanut butter one. I sense some fun with shakes in the future. Unfortunately, I’m traveling for work during my next workout (possibly two), which means I’ll be grabbing a Slim Fast or something at a convenience store. Ick. But I do what the program says.

Today’s Totals:

2,003 calories
254 g carbohydrates
57 g fat
139 g protein
1 strength workout

I’m on the road for the next five days to attend a conference. Hoping to stick as close to my meal plan as possible, but will definitely need to figure out a plan for my 200-250 calorie morning and afternoon snacks. What they normally provide at conferences (cookies, brownies, muffins, etc.) will not fly!

Why I’m Quitting Weight Watchers

I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat 1,400 calories per day for the rest of my lifeI didn’t count points today. Or yesterday. Or the day before that. I think I’m officially done with Weight Watchers, at least for the time being.

I’ve been trying to follow the Weight Watchers plan for the last 22 months. Most of that time I followed the plan online, although I attended At Work meetings for about 9 months in the middle. As far as weight loss goes, I’ve been extremely successful (I’m 40 pounds down from my first WW weigh in). I learned some valuable lessons, namely portion size and how to lighten up super fatty recipes. However, I’d be lying if I said I stayed within my points every single week, or that I tracked every single day. I had two major recurring problems that contributed to this.

My Weight Watchers Struggles

The first problem I had on Weight Watchers was that on far too many occasions, all my efforts of pre-planning and tracking my meals would go down the drain when I found myself ravenous (from either real or hedonic hunger) at mid-afternoon. If I didn’t have a snack with me because my PointsPlus allowance didn’t have room for one that day, I would inevitably end up at the vending machine buying a Twix bar, or rummaging through the pantry at home for my husband’s granola bars or protein bars. Then I’d eat 7-10 points and be over my target for the day, no matter what I had for dinner.

The second problem was my inability to control my eating on the weekends. If I managed to stick with my point allowance all week, come Sunday I’d want to eat everything in the house. I didn’t always eat junk (because I didn’t have much of it around), but I’d eat anything I could find, including raisins, crackers, or those damn granola bars … in far too large of quantities. After tracking it I could easily be at a 50-60 point day (my target was 26-29).

Both of these problems occurred far too often.

Trying Something Radically Different

In the meantime, I continued to listen to one of my favorite podcasts, Half Size Me. Heather has been preaching the importance of weight lifting and feeding your body the calories it needs for quite some time. My Weight Watchers problems and Heather’s advice started to mesh in my head, and I picked up a book I’d half-heartedly read this summer – New Rules of Lifting for Women. I read the part about nutrition at least three times, and decided it was time for a change. I’ve committed to starting both the strength training and diet programs in the book, and that means incorporating a major dietary change.

For the next four weeks, I will not be restricting my calorie intake.

I’m doing this for two reasons. One: I want to eat at the calorie level that will maintain my weight, so I can get an idea of what “normal” life would look like if I wanted to maintain this weight forever (I still have some weight to lose, but I weigh significantly less than when I started this journey). I’m committed to sustainable weight loss, so I want a genuine experience of what sustaining this weight would take right now. Two: I want to build muscle so I can increase my metabolism and burn more calories by doing nothing, so I need to feed my body the proper nutrients during the strength training program to develop muscle.

I completed the equations in the book, and learned that my resting metabolic rate is approximately 1,350 calories, and when I don’t work out my Total Daily Energy Expenditure is approximately 2,025 calories. On days that I do a strength workout, my TDEE is approximately 2,295 calories. The authors of the book suggest eating every single one of these calories throughout five meals a day (six meals on days I work out). So that’s what I’m doing. I may still have a slight deficit on some days because I’m going to continue running a few times per week, but I’m not cutting any calories from my daily meal plan for the purpose of weight loss.

Here’s What 1900 Calories Looks Like

I shared this with my friends on Facebook, and after the first day following the meal plan I posted pictures of what it took for me to eat 1,900 calories in a day (I forgot to drink a glass of milk so I was 100 calories short of my goal). Here’s what it looked like:

Breakfast Egg Tacos

 Breakfast: 2 corn tortillas, 2 eggs, 1 oz reduced fat cheese, 1/4 cup salsa

Apples & Peanut Butter

Snack: 2 small apples, 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salmon Salad

 Lunch: large green salad with cherry tomatoes, 4 oz salmon burger, 2 tsp olive oil & vinegar

Yogurt & Almonds

Snack: 1/2 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup strawberries, .75 oz almonds

Tilapia, Quinoa & Carrots

Dinner: 3 oz tilapia, 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup roasted carrots

Yogurt & Berry ParfaitDessert: 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt (flavored with Splenda, vanilla & lemon juice), 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup granola

Eating Food Is Amazing

I was never hungry this entire day. I went for a 3 mile run/walk before dinner and wasn’t overly tired, and after dessert I was able to fit in my second weight training workout of the week, which earned me a protein shake (290 calories, not pictured). Just for fun I logged the 1,900 calorie menu in my Weight Watchers app. It clocked in at 37 points, or 142% of my recommended daily target of 26 points.  Had I been counting points, I would not have allowed myself to have the full two tablespoons of peanut butter (probably none at all, actually), or the almonds. I definitely wouldn’t have had the dessert. I would have been hungry, and likely gone off track. And the idea of drinking a protein shake would just seem like a waste of points. Why drink a 7 point shake when I could eat a Twix bar for the same points?

My mindset is already changing. I have a goal for the distribution of my macro nutrients (35% protein, 30% fat, 30% carbs), so the type of food I eat matters. I’m not afraid to eat 200 calories worth of nuts or peanut butter, because I have 10x that to work with throughout the day, and I know they’ll pack some bang (satiety) for the buck. AND, if all goes well, eating this way will help me build muscle, which will ultimately burn more calories.

Weight Watchers Was Setting Me Up To Fail

Now that I’m counting calories, I wanted to go back and see how many calories I was eating on an average “good” Weight Watchers day. I plugged in the following menu, which was exactly what I ate on September 30.

Breakfast: Spelt chocolate zucchini muffin
Lunch: Homemade tomato soup (no dairy), 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup raw carrots, 1/4 cup sunflower seed pate
Snack: small apple, .75 oz almonds
Dinner: 1 small pita, 1 cup cucumber, 1 oz feta, 1/2 cup hummus, 1 cup baked potato soup

This was 36 points, which I would consider an “OK” day on Weight Watchers. I’d already manually adjusted my daily target up from 26 to 29 (the highest they will allow), and this would also use 7 weekly points (which is what you’re allowed, on average, per day).

Calorie count: 1,429

This makes me sick. I still consumed about 600 calories LESS than I burned that day simply by walking around and breathing, and I would have been down on myself and felt like I could have done better. But mathematically, if I ate like that every day of the week, I’d lose 1.2 pounds. And I’d be hungry all the time. When it came time to maintain my weight, Weight Watchers would tell me that I still could only eat about 32 points per day to maintain (with weeklies for leverage). And in time, my body would adapt to that, and my metabolism would be ruined. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat 1,400 calories per day for the rest of my life.

Moving Forward: Food As Fuel

Although I’m still hoping to lose about 40 pounds, my new plan is to do this by changing my body composition—increasing lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat. I’ll eat my maintenance calories for four weeks while following my strength training plan (which calls for 3 workouts per week) and loosely following my 10K training plan (aiming for 2-3 run/walks per week). If something has to give, it will be the running (it can be almost impossible—and it’s not recommended—to do an endurance workout the day after a strenuous strength workout, at least for beginners). After four weeks, if I experience a weight gain (possible) or my weight stays the same (likely), I’ll cut 300 calories from my diet, for an expected weight loss of .6 pounds per week—which was more than I was averaging on Weight Watchers.

The key to this plan is to strive to hit my macro nutrient goals—particularly the protein goal. I need extra protein available to be turned into muscle. And, protein offers satiety, which should help me avoid the mid-afternoon run to the vending machine or pantry.

I’m grateful to Weight Watchers. It helped me get started on this journey, which has already lasted two years and will probably last two more. While it a great push at the start, however, I don’t think it will effectively get me past the finish line.

Running Into Fall

Fall is here! We are getting frost warning, the tomatoes have finally stopped coming out of the garden (only because I pulled up the plants today), and the humidity is long gone. So, I figured it was a good day to go for a run, since I hadn’t in … almost 8 weeks.

Wow, I really didn’t realize it had been that long.

October 5 Run Photo

October 5 Pace Chart

I was really cruising for the first mile, but then I lost it (mostly mentally, not physically) for the rest of the run. I had to get this one out of the way though, because the 10K training plan I programmed into my phone in August starts tomorrow. It could have been worse.

My mom started running last week. She ran 5 miles this morning, at a faster pace than me. Looks like I have someone to catch.

Goal Progress

In August, I made some goals, then promptly forgot about most of them. Oops. Let’s recap:

  • Run 3x per week for the next four weeks (until I leave on vacation), with a minimum of 5 miles per week. Yeah, umm … I ran exactly zero times. I honestly think I forgot about this goal the day after I wrote it.
  • Complete Stage 1 of the New Rules of Lifting For Women program by the end of October. This requires starting when I return from vacation. This can be accomplished if I modify it. I didn’t start as soon as I got back (I was super lazy when I got back), but I could accomplish it by mid-November if I start this week. I’m going to open the book up as soon as I finish this post.
  • Complete an 8-week training program for my first official 10K. I’ll use the Nike+ beginner coach and start on October 6 for my November 30 goal race (The Big Chill). I remembered that this starts tomorrow. I’ll consider that a good start.

I don’t think I’ll be running the 6-race winter race series either. The more I think about it, the more I don’t want to commit to running in snow, hail, rain, whatever. I’m still going to sign up for my goal 10K (which is part of the series), but I’ll just run for fun this winter and sign up for races if I feel like it.

Vacation Recap

I went on a two-week, largely all-inclusive vacation, ate and drank everything I wanted, and came back just one pound heavier. I will consider that a success! We walked a lot (averaged approximately 15,000 steps per day), biked 16 miles and climbed the hill of doom, and generally were very active. I think if I hadn’t gotten in the habit of drinking a lot of all-inclusive calories (mostly hot chocolate and flavored coffee drinks), I would have come home even … or maybe even down.

I must say, this vacation was very different from our other two trips to Europe. I wasn’t tired all the time, I didn’t balk at large climbs or seemingly unending steps, and I chose to do things (like bike along the Danube) that I never would have done before. At times I even wished I had brought my running shoes, because our boat often docked right along a nice riverfront path, which would have made running in a strange city/country a breeze. Next time. 🙂

Speaking of next time—it’s not finalized, but we’re seriously considering another cruise somewhere in the world that would be VERY hot and humid, and I know that I need to be in tip top shape to do that. This vacation would occur over Christmas/New Years 2015. Whether we take this trip or not, I’m hoping/planning to be 30 pounds lighter by then. That would definitely help if I need to be in skimpy clothes all day long.

I Won’t Leave You Hanging

Now that the dreaded humidity is gone, the garden is almost put to bed, and vacation is over, it’s time to put some more effort into my fitness goals. I’ve got some blogs to catch up on that I haven’t been reading over the summer (I miss you guys!), but I’ll catch up, and I hope we can all work towards a happy, healthy holiday season together.