Monday, May 30, 2016

Detox diet of choice?

Greetings, friends!

My doctor has been strongly encouraging me to go on another limited-time restrictive "detox" diet.  I did a 28 day elimination diet back in 2010 and didn't really learn anything.  I went gluten-free for a month in 2013 and again, no revelations.  So I'm cautious and not thoroughly excited about doing this again. ;)

She wants me to try going no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no legumes for at least 3 weeks.  Um.  Ugh! ;)

There's a number of plans I've found that are along these lines:
I have friends who are going Paleo, but that allows for some sweeteners which I'd rather avoid (in concept, of course - I know I'm going to miss dark chocolate!).

Have you ever done one of these detox diets?  I'm also hoping to bring husband along for the ride, which is going to be a HUGE challenge since I can't get him to give up his Pepsi yet. ;)

Any tips? ;)  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar Original Chocolate Mint

I thought I'd get back into the swing of things with reviewing new-to-me food items again. At one of my local grocery stores recently, there was a gal sampling various flavors of the Power Crunch protein energy bars, and she gave me a handful of them to try later.

I went back through my blog and realized that I reviewed one of these back in 2012! I was not a fan of the French Vanilla Creme version back then.

So has the manufacturer fixed the complaints I had four years ago?  Sadly, no.  The texture is just weird - it's not pleasant.  After the first bite, I thought to myself, "hey, this isn't too bad..." but after the second bite, I just didn't want to keep going.  The aftertaste really shot through, and it was truly unpleasant.  I also tried the Peanut Butter Creme and French Vanilla Creme versions this week, and all of them had that terrible aftertaste.  I can't recommend these bars because of that.

Nutrition Facts 
Calories 205
Total Fat 13 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Trans Fat 0
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 100 mg
Carb 10 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 13 g

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fitbit Charge HR: a week and a half in

Howdy, friends.

I won't bore you with tons of graphs and screenshots this time. ;)  I still haven't worn my old chest strap heart rate monitor to a class yet at the same time as wearing my Fitbit, so I will try to stop harping on the inconsistent readings. ;)  I'm hoping to do it this week, though!

The biggest "pro" of the Fitbit is the overall tracking ability - I like that it makes a deal about getting 250 steps every hour.  It doesn't seem like it should be hard to do that - and honestly, overall it's not - but some times you can get sucked into a book or playing with your kid at the table and zoooop, an hour is gone by.  I wish the Charge HR had the "reminder to move" feature that they've added to the Alta device - it vibrates at 5 minutes to the hour if you haven't gotten in your steps yet.  Would be REALLY handy to have that on the Charge HR too!

I'm also trying to increase my overall "active minutes" (defined below from Fitbit's web site) -
"All Fitbit trackers calculate active minutes using metabolic equivalents (METs). METs help measure the energy expenditure of various activities. Because they do so in a comparable way among persons of different weights, METs are widely used as indicators for exercise intensity. For example, a MET of 1 indicates a body at rest. Fitbit trackers estimate your MET value in any given minute by calculating the intensity of your activity. You earn active minutes for activities at or above about 3 METs.  To stay in line with the Center for Disease Control's (CDC’s) “10 minutes at a time is fine” concept, minutes are only awarded after 10 minutes of continuous moderate-to-intense activity."
My active minutes are all over the place.  I obviously earn them during my hour-long cardio workouts, but I don't earn them at times when I think I should, and vice versa.  The Fitbit Charge HR has the SmartTrack feature, which auto-creates workout entries for me:
"The SmartTrack™ feature available on Fitbit Alta™, Fitbit Blaze™, Fitbit Surge™, and Fitbit Charge HR™ automatically recognizes and records select exercises to ensure you get credit for your most active moments of the day."
Today it created one for my walking at Costco and the grocery store. ;)  However, it reported it as zero active minutes, even though the activity was 19 minutes.  Weird.  Happens frequently - I think 4 in one day was my highest, and just a handful of active minutes credited.

However, this thing is really uncomfortable to wear. I take it off whenever I'm sitting down, and I don't wear it to bed (negating the whole "sleep tracking" feature of course).  I've tried wearing it at different heights on my forearm and different tightnesses of the strap.  I even have phantom pain on my wrist when not wearing it.  I'm going to have to think about this to decide if it's worth the pain to keep tracking my fitness this way.

OK, I can't resist one screenshot - I smashed my goals yesterday:

woo. :)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Fitbit Charge HR: the first four days of workouts

Howdy, friends.

Today marks the 4th full day with my new Fitbit Charge HR and I'm still not sure how I feel about it overall. ;) Along the right side of this post are my workout charts from my Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday's U-Jam Fitness classes. (You can click on one of them to see it larger.) I'm baffled about the heart rate readings throughout the classes.

Thursday night's class was super-intense and I was out of breath frequently.  According to the chart, I spent 11 minutes in the peak heart rate zone, so that makes sense to me.  Surprised that my average calorie burn was only 11 minutes, but okay.

Friday night's class was nowhere near as intense.  I wasn't really out of breath at any point, and I was stunned when I looked at the chart when I got home.  How the heck was my heart rate so much higher overall?  Peak heart rate zone for so much longer?  It really confused me - which workout was the anomaly?  Did Thursday night not get measured correctly for some reason?

Well, that all got thrown out the window on Saturday.  This was another intense class - yet my "trusty" Fitbit said I was never in the peak heart rate zone!?!  I don't get it!  I sweated my butt off.  I was out of breath several times.  I definitely felt like I got a more intense workout on Saturday than I did on Friday, but I burned over 100 fewer calories?!?  I am so baffled.

Then we come to Sunday.  My Sunday morning class is awesome because it's usually 90 minutes, which equals more awesome for me.  However, it had me in the peak zone for merely 7 minutes of the class, which kinda blows my mind again.  I don't disagree with the heart rates in the last half hour of class - I really was getting tired! - but I'm so baffled overall.

I don't understand what's going on here, and it's so frustrating (obviously!).  I should try to wear my old heart rate monitor as well on Tuesday night (that night's instructor is one of my favorites) and compare - but it doesn't give anywhere near this level of statistics.  It will tell me the max heart rate, average heart rate and total calorie burn though, so that's better than nothing.

Have you experienced such frustrations with your fitness tracker?  Any recommendations?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fitbit Charge HR: my first 24 hours

So I wrote yesterday afternoon about my less than pleasant experience getting my new Fitbit Charge HR set up.  I wore it for the rest of the day, including my fantastic U-Jam Fitness class in the evening.  It was an intense class and I had a great time.  I was excited to see the statistics when I got home. ;)

The overall calorie burn is on target with what I've seen in past experiences with my old chest strap heart rate monitor.  It doesn't provide any pretty graphs or statistics though, so no comparison for you! ;)

I'm delighted to see that I was in "the zone" for the whole workout - surprised by some of the peaks and valleys there, but overall, it's all good.  I thought I burned more calories per minute, honestly, but again, this isn't out of the ordinary compared to my chest strap version, so I can't fault Fitbit for it. ;)  I do look forward to doing one of my elliptical workouts with this on and then comparing the numbers from the machine to the Fitbit. ;)

I am frustrated, however, that I only got credit for 5,517 steps during this workout.  Fitbit uses steps as the ranking system between friends, and I could've taken a ridiculously slow stroll for an hour and gotten more steps.  I had manually entered in my workout from before I wore the Fitbit yesterday morning, and it did not count those steps towards the amount shown on the friends list, but it did include them in my personal count for the day.  Very weird - and frankly, very frustrating.  I know it's not healthy to compare yourself to others constantly, but dang it, I want credit for my workouts!

I also got credit for 5 flights of stairs during the workout.  Um... odd.

I wore the Fitbit to bed last night, but it was so uncomfortable that I took it off before I fell asleep, so no sleep data for me.

I'm finding often that it's uncomfortable to wear - right now it's off so I can do my typing with less pain.

I wore it while I did two miles of a Leslie Sansone Walk Away The Pounds video, and though I did break a little sweat, it was by no means intense.  ;)  Interestingly, with an average heart rate of 115 bpm, heart rate zone time of 0 min peak, 5 min cardio, 20 min fat burn - I still ended up with an average calorie burn of 10 cals/min.  Whaaa?  Feels a bit demotivating, eh? ;)

One last tidbit: my son had a meltdown at the grocery store this morning, and when I got home I learned that it caused my heart rate to go into the "fat burning zone".  Ahem.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fitbit Charge HR - first impressions

I went ahead and picked up a Fitbit Charge HR today and am currently charging it.  As far as first impressions go, I am not pleased with the user experience out of the box.

When you open the box, you see the Fitbit, a small cord and a tiny piece of plastic.  None of this is identified.  There's two pieces of paper with it - a small booklet with tiny legal disclosures and another little flyer that tells you to go to to set up your device.  That's it.  Not particularly friendly!

I went to that url on my phone, and it directed me to download their app.  Gee, thanks.  Downloaded it, and then signed up for an account, and finally got to the point where it would let me add the device.  Apparently, my Fitbit's battery was dead, so I needed to figure out how to charge it.  Nothing in the tiny papers in the box or the completely unhelpful site tells you how to charge the device.  Ridiculous.  I guessed at how to connect the tiny cord to the device and then plugged it into my laptop, and... nothing.  Waited a minute and then pressed the button on the side (not that anything had shown me that I should do this!), and saw an empty battery icon with a charge indicator in the middle.  Guess it's charging finally.

An hour later, I go back and see it's still charging, but I want to get this set up on my phone so I start that process again.  This time, the phone does see the Fitbit and they get all synced up.  I'm currently on the "setting up your Fitbit charge hr" screen which tells me if can take up to 10 minutes, but the status bar on the bottom of that screen hasn't moved at all in the 10 minutes since I started it.

10 minutes later with no progress, I start searching for troubleshooting online.  I reboot the Fitbit, and suddenly the progress bar scooted along quickly almost halfway, and then slowed down again.

I also have no clue how close I need to have these two devices while syncing, but whatever... it just finally finished!  It's still not fully charged though, so I'm not going to unplug it just yet.

OK, all charged and set up finally.  Annoyingly, the tap-twice to see information thing works maybe 5% of the time (grrrr).

Tonight I'll wear it to my U-Jam Fitness class for the ultimate test - if it doesn't record things accurately, then we'll have issues. ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fitness trackers, revisited?

I'm pondering trying another fitness tracker again.  I bought one of the original FitBit devices back in 2009, and I did not like it and ended up returning it.  I found it wildly inaccurate, and gave up on them.  In 2011, I bought a chest strap heart rate monitor with a wrist display, and it's fine.  I still use it today, but not often - the chest strap is annoying and the display is cumbersome.  But I do wear it when I'm doing longer workouts and it's really motivating to see the calories burned!

These days, there are so many different fitness trackers out there.  I have a couple of requirements:

  • continuous heart rate monitoring - especially vital during my dance fitness workouts
  • display of that heart rate and calories burned
  • comfortable to wear
Nice to have would be notifications from my phone. ;)

Right now, the FitBit Charge HR seems to be the best match.  However, I have some friends who love theirs - and some who HATE theirs.  From what I can find online, it's definitely a love or hate relationship.  Reliability is a big complaint, and now I'm reading some folks are having issues with the the bands breaking or falling apart.  

Do I give FitBit another chance?  Do you have a fitness tracker you love? :)

Monday, May 2, 2016

more "Biggest Loser" controversy and how to lose weight

I have a tolerate/hate relationship with weight loss TV shows - especially "Biggest Loser".  I wrote about some of the unrealistic expectations back in 2013 and haven't particularly changed my mind on this.  I detest that the contestants get upset if they "only" lose 5 pounds in a week.  It's insane.

Today, the New York Times published a great article - "After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight" -  in reference to a new study in Obesity Journal which exploded all over my Facebook feed this morning. ;)  I read both the NYT article and the full article in the Obesity Journal and found it all fascinating - and frankly, depressing on some levels.

The Obesity Journal did a lot of research following most of the contestants from Season 8 of the show, measuring them at the finale and also six years later:
"Of the 16 “Biggest Loser” competitors originally investigated, 14 participated in this follow-up study. Weight loss at the end of the competition was (mean ± SD) 58.3 ± 24.9 kg (P < 0.0001), and RMR decreased by 610 ± 483 kcal/day (P = 0.0004). After 6 years, 41.0 ± 31.3 kg of the lost weight was regained (P = 0.0002), while RMR was 704 ± 427 kcal/day below baseline (P < 0.0001) and metabolic adaptation was −499 ± 207 kcal/day (P < 0.0001). "
In plain English, the contestants saw a dramatic drop in their resting metabolic rate at the end of the show - but shockingly, it was even worse six years later. As the NYTimes article mentions regarding the winner of the show:
"Mr. Cahill was one of the worst off. As he regained more than 100 pounds, his metabolism slowed so much that, just to maintain his current weight of 295 pounds, he now has to eat 800 calories a day less than a typical man his size. Anything more turns to fat."

The one person from this group of 14 to weigh less today than 6 years ago wasn't ever on "the ranch" and did her entire experience from home - so she did this in a more balanced fashion and also did not have as dramatic of a weight loss as the rest of the contestants.  Good for her! ;)  Another contestant had regained 80% of his lost weight and then had gastric bypass, so his net weight gain is not as significant as others (but it is still a big gain).

This hits home for me, since I lost around 80 pounds in about 14 or 15 months, 15 pounds the following year, and then slowly regained a lot of it - and then gained more during my pregnancy.  It's been almost ten years since I started this weight loss journey, and thankfully I am down 68 pounds from where I started - but I still have about 25 pounds to go to just get back to that weight in 2009.  I had another 30 pounds to go from there to hit my "goal" weight (which would be "normal" weight according to the BMI).  I'd hate to think that my relatively rapid weight loss in 2007 (average 1-1.5 pounds a week?) has impacted my resting metabolic rate - but there's no way for me to know without spending a LOT of money on metabolic testing.  Not quite in the budget - and I don't have any baseline numbers either - but honestly, knowing that number wouldn't have a massive impact on my life.

It's interesting about the influx of articles I've seen lately about weight loss in general.  One that jumped out at me was Vox's article - Why you shouldn't exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies.  It's a great read - go ahead, read it and come back here. ;)  One of the things I hadn't heard about before was "Energy expenditure might have an upper limit" - there may be a point at which you're over-exercising and not getting the calorie burn benefits you think you are getting.  Joy!  At least I don't feel guilty about getting only one hour in the gym most days. ;)

To wrap this all up, I leave you with the end of that Vox article:
If you embark on a weight-loss journey that involves both adding exercise and cutting calories, Montclair's Diana Thomas warned not to count those calories burned in physical activity toward extra eating. 
"Pretend you didn't exercise at all," she said. "You will most likely compensate anyway so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss."
This is what I try to do, at least in theory, but I need to get back to religiously journalling everything I eat - and also being very mindful of the inaccurate calorie burn that most tracking apps give you for your exercises. ;)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Goals - April report

April is done! Let's review the goals:
  1. Lose an average of one pound a week - not met.  Ugh.  So, see that happy lowest spot on the graph on the right (courtesy of the Happy Scale app)?  Awesome!  Right before my son's birthday, and before having my house filled with family for over a week.  For the month overall, I'm down around two pounds.  Disappointing, absolutely.  But at least it's still a loss?  Trying to look at the bright side but man, it is disheartening.
  2. Work out at least 20 times a month - met!  23 workouts this month, despite the houseguest invasion. ;)  I did have a three day gap with no workouts, and that sucked!  Otherwise, no more than one day off in a row - but still, the scale isn't pleased with me.  I'm glad I kept moving though - it's got to be helping me in ways beyond the numbers on the scale.  I do want to try a new workout at some point this month, too.
    Another nice point - I'm at over 100 workouts for the year! :D
  3. Cook one new (and healthy!) recipe a month - met!  I know I did at least two recipes, but I only remember right now the cauliflower mushroom risotto I made this week.  It was definitely not risotto - more like cauliflower stew with mushrooms - but both kiddo and husband ate it right up (along with me), so at least it wasn't a complete fail. ;)  Definitely need to make this a big priority in May.  
  4. Make an effort to eat clean and healthy the majority of the time - eh.  I'd say at least 60% of the time, but it was hard with the houseguests, and even yesterday, we got fries at Five Guys.  However, we did get just one order and split it between the three of us, and then came home and had a clean and healthy dinner.  I like to think that Five Guys fries aren't the worst fries we could've eaten (it's 3 ingredients - potatoes, peanut oil, salt) - and though their milkshakes looked incredible, we didn't get one.  One splurge at a time. ;)
Here's hoping that everything comes together better in May, and I get back onto that one pound a week trend!