Thursday, November 14, 2013

Biggest Loser's unrealistic expectations

"Biggest Loser" is airing again right now, and this season has frustrated me like all the past seasons. ;)  I truly hate that the show sets unrealistic expectations for weight loss.  If someone "only" loses 4 pounds in one week, they're considered a failure.  It's awful.  The first week of each season, people lose 20+ pounds, and that just plain doesn't happen.  The producers totally manipulate everything - a "week" on the show is often more than 7 days, and I've always wondered about supplement use on the show.  I wrote a post back in 2009 about a weight loss supplement that one of the trainers, Jillian Michaels, was selling - it was an insane amount of caffeine, amongst other things.

So this week's episode ends with Jillian's team getting a penalty for using unapproved caffeine supplements the prior week.  Interesting!  Caffeine is a great way to speed up your heart rate, but honestly, I've found it can have terrible effects on the rest of your body.  It makes me sad to realize that these contestants are being encouraged to use supplements like that (or, as Jillian claims of the other teams, they're drinking lots of coffee to get that caffeine instead).

Anyone who loses weight should be applauded.  A mere four pound weight loss in a week is HUGE, and should be celebrated.  I wish this show would come clean and be true - actually do the weigh ins every 7 days, show that they are drinking a ton of coffee, explain that they're working out 6 hours a day... it's hard enough to lose weight without having all these unrealistic expectations set on national television.

I much prefer the Chris Powell show "Extreme Weight Loss" - it's about one person over the course of a year.  And they work their asses off - often losing 90 pounds (or more!) in the first 90 days.  And if they've met their various weight loss goals, they get skin removal surgery before their big "reveal" at the end of the year.  I like that this show acknowledges the body changes that happen - and also shows the hard work that goes into this.  Also, almost every person on the show misses one of their goals, so you get to see the realistic side of weight loss - it's not all as simple as "Biggest Loser" makes it seem.  I also really like how supportive Chris Powell is to each of these people (and their families).  There's no berating them (ahem, Jillian!)

and yes, there is an element of jealousy about all of these shows - gee, if only I could take 3 months to focus only on my weight loss, I would TOTALLY lose the pounds!  But that's not going to happen (and happily, I don't qualify for the "Extreme Weight Loss" show as I don't have to lose more than 50% of my body weight).  ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: Trader Joe's Macarons Varies

Ahhh, I love macarons.  Seriously, love love love.  When I was in Paris a few years ago, I went to a half-dozen macaron shops in one day to do a taste test. ;)  So yes, I know and love the macaron.

Bonus for my gluten free diet: macarons are gluten free!  There are few ingredients in macarons - the shells are made out of almond flour, sugar, egg whites and cream of tartar.  The filling varies, of course, but is usually a ganache or buttercream or curd - gluten free.

So when I was at Trader Joe's yesterday, I saw this rainbow box of macarons in the freezer section and had to try it.

There are six flavors in here, and I'll run them down now:

  • fig: eh, it's okay.  The filling is more like a fruit gel, and reminds me of a Fig Newton ;)
  • lemon: yum.  My favorite of the batch.  The filling is also a fruit gel but good lemon flavor.
  • apricot: okay.  Not much apricot flavor in the shells but very present in the filling (also fruit gel).
  • coconut: good.  Coconut flavor is present in the shells and the filling, which is a white chocolate concoction (based on the ingredients).
  • pistachio: horrible!  I usually love pistachio pastries, and this was awful.  The shells were bad, but the filling tasted like vomit to me.  It was so terrible.  Ugh.
  • salted caramel: okay.  The filling was a decent salted caramel, and the shells had a light caramel taste to them.
Overall, it's a hard one for me to rate - I think I have to lean towards not recommending, because I only really liked the lemon, I detested the pistachio, and the others were only okay.  For $4.99 for the box of 12 - each macaron was about 1 1/2" in diameter - it's a great price, but overall it was a let down.  I am glad there were no coffee flavored macs in here - seems like they always throw that flavor in an assortment! ;)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Canyon Bakehouse Cinnamon Raisin Gluten Free Bread

Today's tasty gluten free item is Canyon Bakehouse Cinnamon Raisin Gluten Free Bread.  I found this at Whole Foods and had to give it a try.  First impression, before even opening the package, was that this bread is *soft* - definitely not as firm as the Udi's bread next to it.

I got home and dove into it, and yes, I like it!  Definitely a softer bread, I honestly can't say that it's much different than other cinnamon raisin breads I've had with gluten in them.  It's not overpoweringly sweet, which I appreciate.

For me, the other nice bonus is that each slice has 2 grams of fiber in it.  I'm really missing the fiber I was used to from my former whole wheat days. ;)  However, the calories on this bread are higher than the Udi's breads - the nutritional information below is for ONE slice, not the two that the Udi's bread computes.  I would buy this bread again and am curious if I'll like other breads from Canyon Bakehouse in the future.

Nutrition Facts for 1 slice / 2 slices
Calories 90 / 180
Total Fat 1.5 / 3 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0
Cholesterol 5 / 10 mg
Sodium 85 / 170 mg
Carb 19 / 38 g
Fiber 2 / 4 g
Sugars 5 / 10 g
Protein 2 /4 g

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 1 progress report

So, I've survived the first week of gluten free.  I still feel like crap. ;)  I knew it wouldn't be an overnight cure, but for me, it's not dramatically improving my quality of life yet.  I still am exhausted and have lots of pain and headaches.  Good times!

However, this also marks the end of my first week back to tracking everything I eat.  It's no fun, but I am happy that the free app makes it so easy (especially with the bar code scanning feature).

I lost 4.8 pounds this first week.  It should've been higher but I went to an all-you-can-eat sushi place last night and had way too much nigiri (no soy sauce or other sauces or tempura either!).  I foolishly skipped breakfast both Saturday and Sunday, and that always leads to overeating later in the day.  Doh.  I'm 6 pounds from my first mini-goal, so hopefully I can accomplish that in the next few weeks!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain bread

My doctor has told me to give the gluten free diet a try for four weeks and to see if it helps with how I feel.  (Ironically, as I write this on day 5, my "face of fire" is flaring up... ugh!)

Naturally, I will post reviews of the various gluten free foods I try in this adventure!  Up first - Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain bread.

I was curious how long I would go before buying a gluten free bread, and that was three days. ;)  I picked this up at my local Trader Joe's and tried it yesterday.  First thing you notice is the size of the bread - it's small!  Each slice is less than an ounce and about the size of my palm.

I chose the whole grain version because each serving of two slices includes 2 grams of fiber.  Not surprisingly, going gluten free means most of my sources of fiber are gone!  Yes yes, I know I need to eat more fruits and veggies... ;)

I tried my first slice of this bread straight out of the package.  It's a bit denser than I expected - but I like dense bread so this is a good thing for me.  I just didn't really like it all that much.  I'm sorry that I'm not finding the right way to describe it, but it definitely isn't the ol' satisfying glutenriffic bread I enjoy. ;)

I put my second slice in the toaster oven and I enjoyed it much more (and not just because I added some homemade jam!).  For me, it improved with the toasted texture.

I give this a vote of recommended, but with hesitation - it's better than other alternative breads I tried when on my elimination diet a few years ago, but it's not as good as regular bread.

Nutrition Facts for 2 slices
Calories 130
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 260 mg
Carb 22 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 4 g

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy sixth birthday, blog! ...and how we got here

WOAH.  Six years (with varying degrees of posting frequency) I've been blogging here - and woah, that's an eye opener.

I've always been overweight.  I don't know the numbers, but I'd guess I put on 100 pounds during college and the first few years after graduation.  Looking back, I bounced around in a 20 pound range since 1999 until late 2006 when I finally bunkered down and realized I needed to lose the weight.

In November 2006, I lost about 5 pounds before Thanksgiving.  Then we started a Weight Watchers at Work group, and I also joined  Over the next year, I lost 80 pounds.  Awesome!  That's when I started this blog - 80 pounds down, 50 pounds to go.  Woo!

I plateaued in 2008 and most of 2009 - despite walking 10,000 steps a day!  Ugh, it was so frustrating.  I finally lost another 10 pounds in late 2009... and then I had surgery, changed jobs and bought a house - all in the same week.  Aie.  Unfortunately, the weight came right back on.  When I got pregnant, I was basically 40 pounds up from my lowest weight.  I was nervous about the gestational diabetes and thankfully did not develop it - but I gained 30 pounds during pregnancy.  Honestly, I was proud I was able to keep it to 30 - I only gained 10 in the first two trimesters!!  I really tried to keep it under control, but I was on near bed rest for that last trimester and that's when I gained (as did the baby, as planned!).  My son was born at 7 pounds and 13 ounces (yes, I had feared that I was going to have a massive baby and thankfully he was average in weight).

Unfortunately, I had some pelvic separation during pregnancy and despite trying many things, I still have a lot of pain in that area (and my hips now), which makes walking a long time quite painful.  As someone who did the 10,000 steps a day thing for hundreds of days, you can imagine how the lack of walking has stifled my weight loss.

Six years ago, when I started this blog, I weighed 53 pounds less than I do today.  That's quite a kick in the stomach.  Six years ago, I was all excited about my 80 pound loss and figured the final 50 would come with continued effort.  Plateau from hell and life interference showed me this isn't easy. ;)  So now I start over, yet again.  Today's my first day gluten-free - and I'm back to tracking my food.  Now I'm using and their awesome (and free!) app.  Here we go!

Hopefully my seventh-blog-birthday post will be a much happier one! ;)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Starting over, yet again... ;)

Woah, sorry about the radio silence for the past few months!  Chasing a toddler around keeps blogging at bay apparently.

So here's where we are right now.  I need to lose a lot of weight.  I have fibromyalgia.  I am exhausted most of the time, hungry almost always too, and in varying levels of pain constantly.  Awesome, non?

My doctor tested me for celiac disease and thyroid disease and some other things, and all of those came back negative (yay!).  However, some of the other bloodwork showed that I have lots of inflammation going on (which we've seen increased over the past few years).  Also, low vitamin D (which is pretty common).

My doctor suggested that I go gluten-free for four weeks and see how it goes.  I start tomorrow!  Wish me luck ;)