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Friday, January 29, 2010

I Heart Sugar (even though I know I shouldn't)

My biggest food weakness is SUGAR.  I'm a complete sucker for baked goods, if it has flour, butter and sugar, chances are I'm going to like it.
I had some health issues a few years ago that caused me to remove sugar from my diet, which I did.  But as the years went on the sugar crept back in.  I'd like to give it up again but until I can get the motivation to call it quits I continue to consume it, but try to do so in  moderation.
Just got a new Nutrition Action Healthletter in the mail today and the cover story is Sugar Overload.
Here are some interesting facts from the article.
A typical woman should have no more than 6.5 tsp of sugar a day.  A typical man should get no more than 9.5 tsp.  Here are some items and the added sugar they contain.  I picked the ones that surprised me.

Silk Chocolate Soy Milk - 5 tsp
Medium DQ Heath Blizzard - 27 tsp
Coca-Cola (12oz can) - 10 tsp
Propel (lemon)  (24oz) - 1.5tsp
Kashi Go Lean Crunch Original (1 cup) - 3.5 tsp
Pepperidge Farm Milano (3 cookies) - 3 tsp

Not really anything we don't know but still interesting to see.  Sugar is usually measured in nutrition facts in grams.  One teaspoon is equal to 4 grams.  Grams don't really register with me, but a teaspoon is something I can clearly imagine. 

I can't even fathom pouring 27 tsp of sugar in to my mouth, can you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Working Out Odds and Ends

Apparently I read a lot of fitness magazines this weekend because this morning in my 6am class I was spouting random information to the class.

Since I found these points interesting enough to mention them I figured i'd post them here.

Tidbit 1
Studies have shown that exercisers listening to loud music work harder.  While this is great, it's a slippery slope as music too loud can cause hearing loss.  So as I told them this morning, we may end up with really fit people who can't hear down the line.

Tidbit 2
Wiping off your sweat makes your body think you are working harder than you are.  While that may be a valid point, tell that to any spinner and they'll likely roll their eyes.

Tidbit 3
When working out and feeling fatigued, focusing on an area of the body other than the fatigued part tricks your brain into thinking you aren't working quite as hard.  For example, in a heavy cycling climb, focus on your upper body form, or focus on pulling your legs up (normally we focus on pushing down).  Worth a try the next time you're struggling.

Monday, January 25, 2010

To Sleep or Not To Sleep?

I think I might be addicted to melatonin.  Well, not really, but I do rely on it (possibly more than I should).

It all started with me and my non-stop brain.  I'd be exhausted yet get in to bed and that's when the thinking started.  The most trivial details would all of a sudden become important.  "I needed to email so and so and tell them something and i'd start the email like this, and then they'll say this....." and on and on it went.  Knowing I definitely didn't need a prescription to help me sleep, I tried melatonin.  While it wasn't anything drastic, I did feel like it might have helped.

Jump forward to a year or so later.  I'm working out at night and after a hard workout find that while my body is exhausted, my mind is riled up.  Once again, enter melatonin.

As a rule I try not to take it on weekends.  I also try to only take it on nights when I workout in the evening (alhtough I broke that rule the other night).

So, what's the deal with melatonin?  Does it work?  Is it good for me?  Is it bad for me?

Here's some info from WebMD.
Dosages can range from .2mg to 20mg depending on the need.  (I stick with the standard OTC 3mg.)  So far it seems to have been proven safe for long and short term use but may have some side effects.
Enter the side effects..
  • sleepiness (duh!)
  • changes in blood vessels that may affect blood flow
  • lower body temperature
  • headaches
  • stomach problems
  • morning grogginess
  • vivid dreams
What the piece really seems to say is that it's vital to clue your doctor in to what you're doing.  If you are taking melatonin, make sure to tell your doc, whether it's one a month or every night. 

Based upon what i've read, i'm going to deduce that my Melatonin habit just may be alright, but i'll also make sure to discuss it with my MD at my next appointment.

Please don't take my information as a recommendation or endorsement.  Check with a doctor before taking any new supplement.  (that's my version of a disclaimer)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Tasty Snack

I found this one months ago in one of the women's fitness magazines.

Kashi TLC Crunchy Granola Bars - Pumpkin Spice Flax

Delicious and crunchy, each package (2 bars) has 180 calories, 4g fiber and 6 g protein. 8 grams of sugar which makes it a bit lower than others. (Nature Valley oats n' honey has 12 grams)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Food Facts - Cosi

One of my favorite places to have lunch is Cosi.  There's one (kind of) on the way home from my Saturday morning Spin class, so sometimes I'll treat myself to lunch.  Yum!

Their menu really isn't too bad but i'll highlight the best and the worst.  Again, just be mindful when eating and if you choose to indulge, make it a one time occurance.

Wow, first thing I learned...the whole grain flatbread isn't necessarily the better choice.  It has about 21 more calories than the rustic version as well as 1 gram more of fat.  It does have one extra gram of fiber, but that's about the only difference, so don't think you're doing yourself any huge favors by ordering your sandwich on the multi grain.

Some calorie counts (sandwiches are on rustic, add 21 calories for the whole grain)
Fire Roasted Veggie Sandwich - 324 calories, 8g fat (My favorite!!)
TBM light - 403 calories, 14g fat,
Grilled Chicken TBM - 791 calories, 43g fat
Tuna Melt - 938 calories, 52g fat (OUCH!!)
Tandoori Chicken Sandwich - 541 calories, 23g fat
Hummus and Veggies Sandwich - 432 calories, 8g fat
Bombay Chicken Salad - 176 calories, 3g fat
Cobb Salad - 419 calories, 28g fat
Shanghai Chicken Salad with low-fat Ginger Dressing - 370 calories, 11g fat
Cosi chips - 150 calories, 3g fat
Pollo y Pasta soup - 73 calories, 2g fat
Plain bagel - 429 calories, 2g fat (that seems high to me)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More on Calcium

A friend of mine asked about foods (besides milk/dairy) that are good sources of calcium.  Probably good information for most people so I figured i'd share it here.

As I mentioned previously, the average pre-menopausal woman should strive for 1000mg/day.  (FYI, one cup of milk has 296mg)

Spinach - one cup of boiled spinach has 245mg
Sesame seeds - 1/4 cup has 351mg (but really, who is going to eat 1/4 cup of sesame seeds???)
Collard Greens - 1 cup of boiled greens has 266mg
Tahini - 2 tbs of raw tahini have 126mg
Almonds - 1oz almonds has 75mg
Flax Seeds - 2 tbs have 52mg
Oranges - one medium orange has 52mg
Broccoli - 2 cups broiled broccoli has 124mg (not sure why they don't say 1 cup has 62mg)
Papaya - one medium papaya has 73mg
1 packet of instant oats - 165mg
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt - 415mg (I know it's dairy, but had to throw it in for it's high content)
Tofu - 150g has 350mg
White beans - 3/4 cup has 120mg
cabbage - 1/2 cup has 190mg
OJ - OJ fortified with calcium has 165mg in 1/2 cup (watch the calories)

Clearly, many foods we consume daily contain calcium.  Check labels and when all else fails, try a supplement.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chili Dinner

I can't really say if this is a good recipe or not because a) i haven't eaten it yet and b) i didn't follow the recipe exactly.  But, it is healthy, so here goes.  This is from the book The Food You Crave by Ellie Kreiger.

Confetti Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound lean or extra-lean (90% lean or higher) ground beef
One 28oz can no-salt added crushed tomatoes, with their juices
2 cups water
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 2 tsp of the sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
One 15.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
One 15.5oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and carrot, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 mins.  Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meet with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, and oregano and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook; partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes.
Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer, until the chili is nicely thickened.  Stir in the corn and cook until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

A serving is 1.25 cups and has 225 calories and 5g of fat as prepared.

My version...I couldn't find the chipotle in adobo in my supermarket so I used canned diced chilies instead.  I also used "fake meat" (veggie protein).  I didn't use coriander.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I think we all know it's important to get calcium from our diets and/or supplements, but did you know that in this case, bigger is not always better.

I don't drink milk and am aware that i'm probably not reaching my RDA of calcium.  To counteract this, I had been taking a 600mg calcium plus Vitamin D supplement daily.  However I just ran out.

While perusing the shelves at the local Walgreens I noticed many different varieties and dosages of calcium, ranging from 500mg to 1200mg.

Something in my head told me that your boday can absorb no more than 600mg calcium at a time, so I wanted to check.

The data I found actually indicates that calcium is best absorbed in dosages of 500mg or less.  Given that a woman my age needs approximately 1000mg, my best bet is to take two doses of 500mg, one in the morning and one at night.

Why then would they even sell a dosage over 600mg that apparently ends up being flushed from your system?  Well, I don't know.  Marketing perhaps?

In summary, stick with about 500mg at a time.  When I finish my 600mg bottle i'm going to switch to 500mg, no sense in throwing away 100mg each time I take a supplement, right?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Eater Beware!

Here's another food that people think is the healthy option when in fact it may not be.


Ever looked at the nutrition facts on some of the wraps sold in supermarkets?  I'm shocked by the calories and fat that this "healthy" alternative often contains.

Problem is, when you're ordering a sandwich as a wrap you have no idea what brand/variety the shop is using.

A better option may be choosing Rye, Whole Wheat or Pumpernickle for your sandwich.

While you may not always have a choice, education and awareness is still key!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Diet Foods That Are Worse Than You Think

Fitness magazine posted this great article on facebook and I wanted to share the highlights.

Education is key to any weight loss effort.  Without this, you may fall victim to many of the food gimmicks claiming to aid in weight loss.

Here are a few examples..
Yogurt - low fat flavored yogurt can contain as much as 16 grams of sugar
Sugar-free Cookies and Candies - no sugar often means more fat
Trail mix - depending on the ingredients this can be high in (bad) fat and/or sugar
Veggie Chips - check the label, they're not much better than potato chips
Granola - high in calories
Sushi - watch out for mayo/cheese/fry
Smoothies - some contain hundreds of calories, lots of sugar and little to no protein and/or fiber
Diet drinks - this article says the artifically sweetened sweet stuff my cause other cravings
Fat-free Salad Dressing - your body needs some fat to digest veggies
Ground turkey - make sure it's extra lean otherwise it could be worse than ground beef

Check out the whole article here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Turkey Burgers....Yum!

Last night I actually cooked dinner which is a rarity because a) I never have time and b) I live by myself.  But, I had a friend over so I made turkey burgers with roasted sweet potato pieces.  Yum!

The turkey burger recipe is so delicious (and easy) I just had to share!

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers
1 pound ground turkey (I can rarely find 1 pound so this time it was 1.19lbs)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
dash of garlic powder

In a small bowl mix together the honey, soy sauce and garlic powder.

In a seperate bowl mix together the celery and the turkey.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of the soy/honey mixture in to the turkey. (reserving the rest to brush over the burgers as they cook, ideally on the grill)  Mix together.

Make patties and cook.  I used my Foreman grill as it's winter and cold and I don't have a BBQ.  I have also baked them but be careful as it's easy to overcook turkey and it gets dry fast.  When using my Foreman grill I don't brush them with the soy/honey mix because most of it runs off and makes a mess and smokes.  This time I served the extra as a dipping sauce.


The whole batch has about 1196 calories.  I made 7 burger so that came out to about 170 calories/burger.  Not too shabby!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spinning Ride (Jessica 4 AM)

This one has been in heavy rotation the past few weeks.  It has catchy music and seems to go by pretty quickly.

In general, my explanations of what I do during each song are vague.  I go in to a class with an idea of what goes with the song but then play off emotions (their's and mine) to determine exactly what I'm doing.

Viva la Vida (4:04) - Warmup
September 99 (3:41) - Fast climb, hand position 3, light/moderate resistance, fast legs
Good Girls Go Bad (3:15) - Sprints (30s at :45, 1:40, 2:40)
Meet Me Halfway (4:44) - Seated climb
Bad Romance (3:58) - Standing climb
Jump - FloRida (3:29) - Jumps
Heat of the Moment (3:52) - Fast climb
Forever (4:38) - Seated Climb
Bad Medicine (5:17) - Standing Climb
My Life Would Suck Without You (3:34) - Sprints (on chorus) two 30's, then final one minute
China Grove (3:16) - Fast climb
Aganju - Cool down

Enjoy!  Questions or comments, get in touch.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Two Food Posts In A Row

Found another goody and just had to pass it on.

Once again, it's Jell-O brand.  This time they have these new single serve chocolate mousse cups (sugar free!).  It's called Jell-O mousse Temptations.  They do have 2.5-3 grams of fat though.

These come in three flavors Choclate Indulgence (pictured and the only one i've tried), Caramel Creme, and Dark Chocolate Decadence.

From what I hear the Dark Chocolate Decadence is pretty tasty as well.

I found them in the Jell-O refridgerated section of my supermarket.  Keep an eye out!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a great new year's eve and a fun celebration.

Unfortunately I came down with a cold on NYE, so I kept it pretty low key.  I also got roped in to teaching two spin classes on New Year's Day, so I had yet another reason to keep it pretty tame.

So here I am on New Year's Day and of course it's resolution time.  I don't usually make resolutions, but this year I'm setting some goals for myself.  Some are concrete, others are more along the lines of gradual changes.

Of course fitness is on my mind.  I have my six hour spin-a-thon coming up the first weekend in March.  And as I've mentioned before I'm hoping to attempt my first half marathon, in addition to my first road race.  Last year my goal was a 5K and while I didn't run an official race, I did reach (and surpass) that goal in terms of distance.  This year, with my life back in order, I plan on doing the official 5K, then hopefully a 10K and then the culmination in the half.  We'll see how that goes.

This past year taught me ALOT.  Losing my job and being out of work for seven months made me so much more aware of things...what I was doing, how much things cost, and how I could get by with so much less.  Now that I have a job again, I think my appreciation for the little things (such as a salary) have skyrocketed.  I'm really excited to continue to explore my feelings and take each day one day at a time, savor the little things and see what 2010 has in store for me.  I'm so curious!

Looking forward to sharing my 2010 with you and wishing you all a very happy new year!