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Rabokki (Ramen + Tteokbokki)

Rabokki (Ramen + Tteokbokki).

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Quinoa Mint Zucchini Boats

Quinoa Mint Zucchini Boats.

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Success! My Recent Healthy, Tasty Weight-Loss Menus ~ Nutritious and Gluten-Free.

The last menus that I posted were from over three years ago, and it’s fun to see how the quality of my food has improved since then.

One important change has been that I am currently gluten-free! I never expected to make this change to my diet, particularly since I have always loved wheat and rye toast, but it is one of the best decisions I have ever made for my health and quality of life. If you are gluten-free as well and/or looking for new inspiration along your weight-loss journey, these menus may offer some useful ideas for you.

I have maintained my goal weight for nearly four years running now, so I really debated about whether or not to lose weight this time, since I am already within my healthy weight range. “Is this just vanity?” I asked myself, but I ultimately came to the conclusion that my body is healthiest and happiest when I am at the lower end of my healthy weight range rather than right in the middle of that range.

One difference this time around, since I am already at my healthy weight, is that my focus is more on seeing my body change in measurements, vitality, and sense of well-being rather than on the actual weight-loss numbers. However, if your focus is currently on the numbers, these menus will still be helpful in pointing you in the right direction to create your own daily menus. 🙂

March 19 actual

honey

March 20

041610_1840_BrazilNuts1

March 21

eating-healthy-foods

March 22

Pistachios on a white background

March 23

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

March 24

squid in marinara

March 25

eggs

March 26

mango kombucha

March 27

larabar

March 28

Edward-And-Sons-Brown-Rice-Snaps-Gluten-Free-Unsalted-Sesame-011206000367

March 29

octopus and fingerlings

March 30

Raspberries05

March 31

Scallops

April 1

i-beans-pinto-can

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How My Random Spontaneous Night with a Hot Indian Multi-Millionaire changed my eating habits

I didn’t sleep with him.

Yes, he wanted to, but it just isn’t my personality to have one-night stands.

I’m sure that the Hot Indian Multi-Millionaire was not devastated. I would venture to guess that the world is his oyster in terms of opportunities in that regard.

However, I would have to say that the 13 hours that I spent with the Hot Indian Multi-Millionaire (hereafter referred to as H.I.M., or simply HIM :)) were 13 of the most wonderful and enjoyable hours of my entire year of 2012.

In fact, he is one of the inspirations for this blog, although this is the first time I’ve mentioned him. The other two inspirations (for why I have posted helpful tips from my own weight loss journey online here) are a lovely lady friend of mine who asked for my help with her weight-loss journey, around the same time that another nice lady friend of mine asked me (really wanting to know, not just giving a vapid compliment) how I stay so slim.

I could go on for a very long time about exactly what those 13 hours with HIM consisted of, and why they were so very enjoyable, but, although I love dating stories (both the terrific and the disastrous), this is not a dating blog. I am quite relieved that I’ve recognized that now, and reigned myself in immediately.

So, what I will focus on in today’s post is how my conversations with HIM about food changed my paradigms about what I eat.

“It wasn’t marketed very well,” HIM said defensively, although I wasn’t attacking him in the least. “I don’t really want to tell you the name.”

Well, of course then I wanted to know the name of the video that he was referring to. After a bit more hesitation, he finally told me:

Fat Head.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001NRY6R2/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Well. I could understand why he didn’t really want to mention that!

“It’s about oils,” he said. “It’s about how vegetable oils significantly contribute to inflammation, heart disease, all of these top killers that people are blaming on dairy, saturated fat, sugar.”

I was interested.

I looked up the video online the next day. At that time, I remember it listing for $80. Since I am not a Multi-Millionaire (not even close! :)), so $80 is not exactly pocket change for me, I passed on it at that time, despite my curiosity about it.

Today, when I located the video on Amazon.com in order to share it in this post, I noticed to my surprise that the price has gone down to $19.99! So I’ve just ordered it. Expect a follow-up post.

In the meantime, his brief and incomplete verbal summary of this video (which corresponds to the brief and incomplete written summary that you can find here : http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/no-bologna-facts/) stuck with me.

Just last week, I decided to cut out all oils from my diet other than pure olive oil.

*Very important side note from my Very Important Friend Siona: Be sure that your olive oil is, in fact, pure… you might be surprised at how many oils that claim to be olive oil have other oils mixed into them on the sly!

Links that Siona sent to me today, as a follow-up to our lovely conversation last night at her home, over a home-cooked dinner of squid in marinara sauce:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mueller?currentPage=all

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-your-olive-oil-really-olive-oil/

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I’ve probably already mentioned that it is very important to pay attention to your body and what it is telling you, but I’ll mention it again. Pay attention! Only over-ride your body’s wisdom if you must due to circumstances, and/or if you have a VERY good reason.

One thing that I noticed in paying attention to my body was that I always felt far better after eating a salad from the Whole Foods salad bar if I added only olive oil and balsamic vinegar to my vegetables, rather than adding one of the pre-made dressings which contained vegetable oils. The difference in the way that I felt was so pronounced that I have already stuck to olive oil and balsamic at the Whole Foods salad bar for the past few years.

Therefore, extending this plan to the rest of my diet made a lot of sense to me. It just took me a while to do so!

If it is not practical for your lifestyle to cut out all vegetable oils (it is not a task for the faint of heart!), I recommend cutting it down. Simply being aware of this information could change the way that you eat in small ways that could add up to big health gains and/or increases in quality of life over the long run. And that is something that makes even a fabulous 13 hours with a Hot Indian Multi-Millionaire pale in comparison.

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Dinner on Thursday night!

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My exercise program

Because my energy was so low, getting out of the house and getting to the gym usually felt like too much for me. I ended up wanting to invest all of my energy into the actual work out, not the preparation and travel time for the work out.

Therefore, I did most of my work outs at home. The following sheet was in daily view for me, on the inside flap of the front cover of my healthy living/food record binder:

I think that I did the “hiking” and the “walking” about twice during the entire time period that I was losing weight, so that plan did not work for me. I did go swimming, but never once did I go swimming twice in one week. It took me a lot of time to get ready and get out to the pool.

However, I did stick fairly regularly (unless I was sick or so exhausted that I could barely move) to the home work outs; biking and dancing.

I purchased a recumbent exercise bike. In high school and college, I was a runner, but I was unable to run during this time due to my severe plantar fasciitis. I enjoyed using my home exercise bike quite a bit while I was losing weight. I still have it, and I still use it, although not as frequently as I used to. It has back support, which is nice. Even though I don’t personally have any back problems, many people do. So, if you have foot or back problems, and are interested in purchasing a comfortable home exercise bike, I highly recommend a recumbent model. (Standard disclaimer: Of course, if you have any serious health issues, check with your doctor prior to starting any physical exercise program.)

My bike is the Schwinn 205P model. I bought it on Craigs List for just $100. It fit in my bedroom, and my bedroom is not enormous.

It is no longer available for purchase new, as it is an older model, but there are some used versions available for purchase.

Here is a picture of my bike:

In terms of dancing, I started out with a fun, free-style dance at home. I picked music I loved, rocked out to it in my living room, and really worked up a sweat! I started with just around 10 minutes at a time, and worked up to around 20-30 minutes at a time. This method of exercising had several advantages: I could speed up or slow down the pace as I wanted to; it never got boring; it was convenient and I could do it any time I was home (except, of course, after 10pm or before 8am, out of consideration for the neighbors). If you choose this work out, a good goal (which is actually one of Matthew McConaughey’s primary goals for his own work outs) should be to break a really good sweat. Another good goal is to keep moving the entire time, and to involve your entire body in the movements.

In addition to the free dancing, I soon discovered a CORE Fitness video called Salsa Blast. It really is a blast! I cannot recommend this video highly enough; it is fun and effective. The instructors are charismatic and upbeat. If I knew them in real life, I’d go out dancing with them in a heartbeat! This video is currently available for purchase from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Core-Rhythms-Dance-Exercise-Program/dp/B000JDIDHA

According to one helpful review, you should buy some preparation videos first, to teach you the moves. I did not know that. I jumped right in, and loved it! However, this is a challenging video, and I did start small (5-10 minutes at a time) and worked up gradually from there.

My neighbor took me to Zumba classes with her about a year ago, and I had fun, but I definitely prefer this video. I used this video twice per week for about 6 months, and I had almost no belly fat by the time that the 6 months was over!

In addition to bike work outs once or twice per week, and often free-dance workouts once or twice per week, I was set in terms of exercise.

My exercise program went from the “Rock the Week” list (at the top of this post) to something like this:

Recumbent Bike work-out, 15-25 minutes, twice per week.

Free-Dance work-out, 15-30 minutes, once or twice per week.

CORE Fitness Video, 20-35 minutes, twice per week.

If your exercise program is not working for you, don’t stop exercising! Change your plan. Change it over and over again until you find a program that you really enjoy and that you are sticking with. The “Rock the Week” plan was my very first weight-loss exercise plan, and it went through several revisions to reach the bike/dance/video plan outlined above, which is quite different!

My exercise plan continues to change and evolve as my needs, perspective, energy levels, and body continue to change. My original plan was for one unhealthy individual. Now that I am much healthier and have a lot more energy than I used to, I do go for hours-long hikes or dance for 45-60 minutes. Hurray for change! 🙂

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Sleep: Get as much of it as possible!

I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting a lot of sleep to lasting, healthy weight-loss.

Being an insomniac, I can identify with you if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. I still struggle with insomnia. I simply do the best that I can to get as much sleep as I can, whenever I can.

Sometimes, techniques or strategies are very helpful to ease my insomnia. Other times, nothing really helps, and I just have to accept that it is going to be one of those nights where I am staring at my computer screen (or otherwise occupying myself) until 3 or 4am. Fortunately, I have a few really funny friends in other time zones to chat with!

It actually isn’t the best sleep plan to be parked in front of a large light-emitting box after dark, but most of us do it anyway.

On nights when it is practical to do so, however, I turn off my phone and my computer about an hour prior to my desired bed time. Again, sometimes this works very well. Other times, I can’t sleep for hours anyway, so I end up turning the computer back on. The most important thing, for me, is to at least give myself the CHANCE to get a full night’s sleep, and to give myself that chance on as many nights as I can.

If I can’t sleep, the best thing to do is to not worry about it and occupy myself doing something that is relatively relaxing until sleep arrives (on its own time schedule!).

Are you an insomniac? Think of gentle, non-judgmental strategies that might help you. Here is one of my favorite websites for insomniacs:

http://www.nvo.com/isleepless/bedtimestoriesforinsomniacs/

I love the bedtime story about the city mouse and the country mouse. It was one of my favorite stories as a child. I’ve linked directly to the story. There are plenty of other helpful links on the left-hand side of this lovely website, as you will see!

Personally, I have always skipped clicking on the box titled “Caution! Insomnia can be dangerous!”

I don’t want to worry about how dangerous it is that I’m not sleeping. I want to calm down and not worry about anything, so that sleep is more likely to come!

Do you have a busy schedule? Most of us do. If so, think about what you can you cut out of your current schedule in order to give yourself the chance to get more sleep. For me, I love and treasure a clean house, but I did less housecleaning while I was losing weight. As you’ll see on my weight-loss menus, I often slept for 9-10 hours per night when I could! However, some nights I was unable to get more than about 4-5 hours of sleep, if that. So I think it all balanced out in the end.

Balance is key. Some people are able to get more sleep on the week-ends, and less sleep during the week. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to get a full night’s sleep sometimes, but also don’t feel guilty about sleeping a few more hours than you’re used to, at a time that works for you. Your body will thank you for it!

This webmd article clearly explains why sleep is so important to weight-loss.

From the article:

“…substantial medical evidence suggests some fascinating links between sleep and weight. Researchers say that how much you sleep and quite possibly the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of hormonal activity tied to your appetite.

‘One of the more interesting ideas that has been smoldering and is now gaining momentum is the appreciation of the fact that sleep and sleep disruption do remarkable things to the body — including possibly influencing our weight,’ says David Rapoport, MD, associate professor and director of the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

While doctors have long known that many hormones are affected by sleep, Rapoport says it wasn’t until recently that appetite entered the picture. What brought it into focus, he says, was research on the hormones leptin and ghrelin. First, doctors say that both can influence our appetite. And studies show that production of both may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep.

In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied? If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin.

How Hormones Affect Your Sleep

Leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of ‘checks and balances’ system to control feelings of hunger and fullness, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.

So what’s the connection to sleep? ‘When you don’t get enough sleep, it drives leptin levels down, which means you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Lack of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want more food,’ Breus tells WebMD….”