Category Archives: Health and Fitness
When it was getting close to transitioning to real food I was bit anxious and very excited. I was anxious because knowing about nutrition and healthy choices and selecting them are two different things. I have been down the healthy road before but this time I have the knowledge and support needed to truly eat healthy and implement portion controls. I was excited because it has been 16 weeks since I tasted real food and I was ready. It was amazing that for 4 months I was never hungry but I was looking forward that first oz of chicken.
Preparing for Transition
To prepare I bought several 1 and 2 cups contains and portion control plate fillers. I also bought a lunch bag that came with pre-portioned containers. I planned to grill most of the meat and decided to use extra virgin olive oil for a cooking base when needed. I bought a digital measuring scale, more measuring spoons, and measuring cups.
To balance the added calories my husband and I decided to add hiking to our fitness program. We hiked every saturday at either Del Valle or Muir woods. The hikes started off with 2 miles then gradually progressed to 8 until the hiking season was over.
The food would replace products week by week. When we started the program we had six products per day; so for the first week we had 4 ounces of lean protein and 1/2 cup of veggies as one product replacement. We continued this process until real food replaced all products.
I grill, measured and portioned the meat for the week on sundays. I also prepared a low fat egg casserole for breakfast. For lunch I walked down to Subway and ordered a 6″ wheat chicken sandwich or a salad or just went home and made a healthy lunch. My husband took his pre-portioned containers to work and used them at the salad bar. This helped him accurately measure his portions. I still ate six times a day; three main meals and two small snacks. For my first snack I had protein, veggies and fruit. My favorite snack is peanut butter with carrots. My second snack was a protein bar or protein shake after my workouts.
I worked with my trainer two days a week, worked out at the gym at least three times a week and hiked on saturdays. I started to really notice how my endurance increased and workouts were easier. Unfortunately I stopped losing weight and was stuck for about three weeks. I noticed I was hungry multiple times a day so I increased my calories; which restarted my weight-loss. Ken and I also participated in three 5K marathons which was a first for both of us.
During this phase I was able to test and modify combinations of foods and exercise to see which strategy fit my goals. In this phase I realized I was healthy. I was not hypertensive or pre-diabetic. My back didn’t hurt and walking up stairs was a breeze. Even though I originally had a weight goal, after I reviewed my success I accepted this healthier me and changed my focus. My current goal is toning and weight-maintenance. You will able to read about the maintenance phase in my next installment.
Below are pictures of me during the transition phase
It has been exactly one year since I began my weight-loss journey. I can remember starting the class and thinking where will I be in one year? Will I accomplish my goals, will I still be on track? Will I even be successful? Yes, I had the determination and yes I believed I needed to make this transformation to avoid and reduce my impending health issues but I had attempted weight-loss countless times and failed in every attempt. Thankfully, yes I have achieved my goals and set new ones. I have removed all health issues and risks. I have reduced my body fat% to normal ranges (for my age), my BMI is under 30, I have increased my metabolism to “very active”. I have lost over 115 pounds and I have dropped a mind-blowing 10 dress sizes.
Before the Journey
Before I started on this journey I was very obese. I could not stand-up straight because my back would hurt. When I had to walk, I always wore my backpack to counter-balance my weight and to help support my back. I use to breathe heavily while just sitting still. I would snore so loud I would wake myself up. I got migrates often and it seemed like I was always sick. I was not physically active often and nutrition was just a word I heard when I went to the doctor. My health was on a downward spiral because I was pre diabetic and hypertensive. I started to have a side pain and nausea often because of the foods I ate. My husband’s health was also deteriorating and he was knocking at death’s door. In fact, we had to postpone our original start date for the program because he had a critical medical emergency that nearly turned fatal.
Unfortunately, I let my health push me into a corner but one year ago I finally came back swinging. We both joined the Kaiser Weight-loss Management Program which I truly believe was a lifeline.
First Phase – 16 weeks Active Phase
Before we started I removed all food from my home and briefed our support team. We officially started the program Nov 26, 2014. For 16 weeks we had meal replacements which included four shakes and two proteins bars; totaling only 960 calories. This was a far cry from the 3000 calories I probably consumed on an average day. We had to eat 2 -3 hours a day and drink at least one gallon of water.
The first week was tough with the lack of food, eating every 2-3 hours, and drinking all that water. I stayed focus and successfully completed the week. My success resulted in a 10 pound weight-loss. As the saying goes, the proof was in the puddling. The classes were structured to provide information and group support. We learned about nutrition, fitness and developed our health tool-box. The weekly check-ups (Weight and blood-pressure) kept us accountable. The monthly doctor checks ensured we were on the right track.
During class, the facilitator advised us to increase our fitness level. The second week my husband and I joined a local gym and began an early morning workout routine. On the weekend we would do at least 2 hours of cardio. I got over the looks and stares when we were working out. Even when we walked or rode our bikes the stares and snickers were ridiculous. How ironic, when you are obese people talk bad about you; when you are doing something about it people are laughing at you. I was so focused on my goals that nonsense couldn’t deter me. In the second week I dropped 7 pounds. Adding fitness helped increase my weight-loss. Every week I lost at least 5 pounds or more.
To ensure we were getting the most out of our workouts we hired a personal trainer. She worked with my husband first in individual sessions then worked with me. To maximize a workout, she taught us to include both cardio and strength training. This helped us not only increase our fitness but also save time in the gym by not waste energy on a two hour cardio session. She taught us about circuit training which guards against getting stuck on a plateau.
After 16 weeks on the program I lost 70 pounds and my husband lost over 100. We were both excited and scared to start on the next phase which was transition back to real food. You will be able to read about Phase two in the next installment of my 1 year progress report.
Here are the photos included in Phase One
Food glorious food. I can remember that from the movie Oliver Twist. I just loved food. Fried food, junk food, and desserts. I thought having a good day meant getting a good meal to eat.What is so funny is that I am a pretty picky eater so I didn’t like a lot of food but the food I did like I overindulged. When I changed my Lifestyle I had to reprogram my thoughts about food and my relationship to it. I had to focus on healthier eating but can “healthier” food really be fulfilling?
Yes, surprising I don’t feel deprived at all. I eat well with lean proteins, whole grains, veggies, low-fat dairy, and fruit. I purchased an inside grill so I grill my meat most of the times.
The lean proteins that I eat are red meat, pork, fish and a variety of Jennie-O turkey products. Believe it or not you can get 96% lean beef at your local Safeway. I also found 96% lean burger patties at Smart and Final. If I buy steak I make sure it is lean. I buy those very thin pork loins and for fish I mostly eat Salmon and Tilapia. Eggs are another source of protein that is good. I use Eggland’s large eggs. Bean are also a good source of protein. You can really spice up the food with natural spices and herbs.
I use the Sara-Lee Delightful Whole Wheat bread which is only 45 calories per slice. I must say this bread is indeed light and good. My husband likes the Oroweat Whole Wheat Sandwich thins which are 100 calories. I like to use these for hamburger buns and egg sandwiches. I use the whole wheat penne for my pasta but I don’t eat pasta that often. I will also eat brown rice. I keep it pretty simple but there is a wide variety of whole grains you can choose.
Veggies are always good. I use carrot and celery sticks for my snacks. I eat spinach, broccoli, peppers, and greens. I cook with onions and mushroom often. I keep it simple with veggies because I have a food allergy to corn and cauliflower. I don’t like to experiment too much because I will suffer. I found my favorites and they are good enough for me. But if you live near a Farmers Market, Sprouts, or Whole Food the options are endless.
I found a great alternative that help tickles my fancy. The alternative is Bolthouse Farms Yogurt dressing. These dressing are delicious. My favorite flavors are Ranch and Caesar Parmigiano. These dressing are low in calories and fat. They can be found at Safeway in the fresh pre-cut veggies section. I have made garlic bread using the Ranch dressing and Chicken Alfredo with the Caesar Parmigiano.
An alternative to my sweet tooth is Quest Protein Bars. My favorite is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. The good thing about these bars are they high in protein and fiber. I typically have one for either a snack or afterwork protein. When I have a chocolate craving I will grab a bar. My husband uses the Nugo bars.
An alternative to soda can be sparkling water. Most stores will have their versions of flavored water. I really like the Key Lime and lemon flavors. However, be careful because a lot of them have artificial sweeteners which may be toxic to some people.
The key to eating healthy is choosing fresh unprocessed foods whenever possible and try using in season fruits and veggies. Always review nutritional labels to make sure you make an informed decision on what foods you eat. You can find some great healthy recipes on Pintest.