My Weekly Focus – More Water!

Some of my favorite fruitI know that a handful of my in-person friends are making a renewed commitment to shedding some pounds, so I wanted to start a weekly check-in with some tidbits to take away. Weight Watchers helped me so much, but the biggest helper of all was the in-person meetings. The lessons I learned from many on the path stay with me to this day. I know that for various reasons, some people don’t do in-person meetings, so I am attempting to bring those tidbits virtually! The added benefit is it will help me reinforce some healthy behaviors for myself.

This week my focus is increasing my water intake. On Sundays, we have a tradition in which my family and my sister’s family all meet at my parents house for dinner. Yep, we still have a big traditional Sunday dinner. It’s pretty casual and can be pretty raucous at times. The conversation turned to all the things you could use a can of Coke for, like reducing the corrosion on a car battery and cleaning a penny. I immediately turned to my sister (she was drinking her soda from the can) and exclaimed, “Why are you still drinking that? You are willingly putting a chemical in you that takes corrosion off of a car battery terminal!!” It was a good laugh, because that’s the kind of overbearing big-sister I am (ha ha ha!), but there was a bit of concern as well.

Truth be told, I drank Cokes back in the day. A LOT. My modus operandi was to drink the fully-leaded one because I believed that the diet soda was terrible for you. That went on for most of my life. When I first started Weight Watchers, I calculated the points for one Coke and nearly stroked out. I only got 26 points and I decided I wanted to use those for food. I went cold turkey. No sodas at all. No diet, no regular, no zero, no nothing. It was hard the first week, but one of my “rewards” that first week was a big Starbuck’s cup that I could fill with water or iced tea. I won’t lie – the second week is worse than the first, but if you can just get it out of your system, it’s worth it. More than three years later, I can still be seen with that cup in my hands almost every waking moment. The cup is 20 oz, so I am in the habit of refilling at least four times a day for 100 oz.

image“But water tastes awful…” I get it. I thought so too. There’s only so much water you can drink before you want to tear your hair out. It’s both tasteless and has a funny taste all at the same time. What to do? Infuse it! There are so many options that you can find on the internet like at http://www.fruitinfusedwaters.com/, but I have my simple favorites:

  • Orange slices – they lend a tasty sweetness to the water when you are having a sweets craving
  • Lime wedge – I ask for limes instead of lemons at restaurants because they have them in the bar and they are something different
  • Lemon wedge – they are ok, but they tend to make the water bitter if you add to many
  • Mint leaves – I love to grab a handful and muddle some of the to really give it a strong infused flavor; the best way to do it is to put them in a small amount of hot water to steep for a bit, then add cold water and ice
  • Cucumber slices – this is the most refreshing way to drink water and is so very tasty on a hot summer day
  • Strawberries – these impart just a hint of flavor and is a great way to get that lightly

So, my challenge to you is to get a cup that you want to carry around everywhere and give this a try. It’s your choice if you want to give up sodas or wean off of them slowly, although I am a big fan of getting it over with quickly. Have I told you that I have an insane amount of energy, even in the mornings, now that I don’t drink sodas???

 

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Adventures in Calorie Counting

I admit that I am an anxious mess with my weight.  I joke that I have to keep running so that my fat can’t catch back up.  My obsession with the numbers is fueled by the metrics that are so easily available:

  • I use a scale to weigh myself to the tenth of a pound every morning and before and after a run to make sure I stay hydratedIMG_3547[1]
  • myfitnesspal.com allows me to track every calorie I consume, including the 30 calories in a daily serving of my calcium chew
  • I have a Garmin watch with a heart rate monitor that has been calibrated for my personal fitness zones to track my calorie expenditures and my miles run to the hundredth of a mile
  • I wear an all-day activity monitor to track my steps and my sleep

We are a numbers-driven society.  After having lost fifty plus pounds, I have stalled.  Seriously, like the eighteen wheeler in the middle lane of the freeway.  I have gained and lost the same half pound for at least the last twelve months.  I gave myself a break for a couple of those months as I was recovering from surgery, but I really thought my “last ten pounds” would melt right off once I got back to running in the spring.  To say I was frustrated would be an understatement and I took it to Facebook.  I had no idea that my plea for a good dietician would be such a hot button topic that morning, but apparently we are all in same boat.

I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the calories in and calories out part of the equation. In fact, I was restricting myself to 1300 -1350 calories per day and not adding back anything despite the running I was doing or the cross-training on the other days. My perfectly calibrated Garmin with heart rate monitor would regularly tell me I was burning between 250 calories (on light training days) all the way to 1000 calories for a ten mile run day and yet I was only adding calories on run days longer than an hour and those came in the form of a little gel packet of carbs.

It was tough to hear friends ask me if I was consuming TOO FEW calories. The idea of consuming more calories when my weight had stayed the same at 1350 calories was ludicrous!! If I ate more, I would gain, right? I set out to research the idea before I just willy-nilly added calories and went back up to 190 pounds overnight. I learned that I wanted to be sure I ate at least enough to cover my resting metabolic rate, otherwise my metabolism would possibly slow down. Being 5’1 and over 40, that was absolutely the last thing I wanted to do. Seriously, I eat any less and those around me might not be very happy with my attitude.   I sought out an appointment at Cooper Clinic in Dallas. They are the gold standard when it comes to health and fitness and we are so lucky they are right in our backyard. My appointment was scheduled for a few days later.

The appointment was scheduled for first thing in the morning because you have to have been fasting for 12 hours. That meant no food, water, pills, exercise, nothing. I ate an early dinner the night before and went straight to bed. When I arrived, I handed the front desk my paperwork that was emailed to me a few days before. I was ushered into a nice dark room with classical music and allowed to relax to bring my heart rate back down to a resting state after the drive over. The dietician explained how the test would work and then made sure the mask fit over my mouth and my nose was plugged so that the test was accurate. The machine calibrated itself during this time to the ambient oxygen level in the room and was soon ready. The test was easy – all that was required was for me to breathe normally for ten minutes. When the test was over, the numbers were spit out on a two page report based on the test.

1498?!?

1498?!?

Who knew? My resting metabolic rate was 1498! It was a solid 150 calories per day higher than any online calculator. Despite all the dumb things I have done over the years with diet and exercise, I have a higher metabolism than average! Add in the calories I burn just working a desk job and usual activity of living, my weight loss zone was between 1500-1600 calories per day. Christie also instructed me to eat back half of ma calories burned on the “big-burn” days like my long runs. She promised that if I made these changes, I should start to see a little movement in the scale.

Two weeks later, I sheepishly admit that the test was correct. I have increased my calories, all clean and nutritionally dense, and have seen a decline in the scale of about a pound and a half. The trend is definitely downward, which makes me pretty happy. So I call this little experiment a win.

The test at Cooper Clinic ran $103 and included a short consultation with the dietician after to get an idea of what the numbers actually mean. You can get the test at a few other locations for up to $20 cheaper, but it usually doesn’t come with someone that can truly give you advice on how to interpret the numbers. I would say it $103 well spent.