Tuesday, January 1, 2008

#1 Question of 2007

First off, I've got to answer the question about the picture at the top of my blog. I took that photo on the route of the internationally famous Falmouth Road Race in Cape Cod, MA. The island in the distance is Martha's Vineyard. Our family vacationed in Cape Cod last summer and I ran the race route multiple times while there. Absolutely gorgeous and serene.

OK, that's not the #1 question but this is: "How did you lose all that weight? (45 pounds)" Here's my disclaimer: I'm not a doctor (though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night! :0), a nutritionist, I haven't read a bunch of diet books, I haven't joined Weight Watchers, and I don't guarantee any of this! However, it did work for me and to me, it's basic numbers and adopting a new lifestyle...not going on a diet. As a matter of fact, I never did go on a diet nor am I on one now. The "diet" is temporary...a lifestyle change can be...well, life-long! So, here it goes:

First, the before and after pictures.......

1. Calories, calories, CALORIES!: It's as simple as this...you burn a certain number of calories every day just by being alive and breathing. That's a fact. If you consume more calories than what you burn, those calories must be stored (ie: fat stores). If you burn more than you take in, then your body turns to those fat stores for energy...thus, a reduction in fat. Understand, when I "cold-turkeyed" my lifestyle in late October 2006, I didn't lose a pound for 5 weeks. I changed everything and stuck to it. However, your body needs to adjust to the changes and that doesn't happen overnight. Once my body figured out what was going on, the fat fell off...and fast.

2. Reduce calories without reducing the quantity: OK, we've established the need to reduce calorie intake. The next step is to identify what you eat that has the following characteristics: quality, filling, low in calories, high in protein, fiber, nutrients, and doesn't contain the "junk" that fills the shelves at the grocery store. Remember, junk in = junk out. Quality in = quality out. This whole talk about calories is a like a double-edged sword. Those things that are bad (hyrogenated, saturated fats, trans-fats, enriched flours, high-fructose corn syrup) are less filling and actually make you crave more of them and result in over-eating and an exponential increase in calorie intake. On the flip side, the quality foods that are good (ie: whole in nature, "good" fats, veggies, fruits) contain far less calories and have a lot of fiber/protein which leads to a fuller feeling...hence, you eat less. If you get this and can implement it, you are well on your way.

3. Know how to shop and read the label: in any food product, the ingredients are listed. The item in highest quantity in that product is listed first. That's where you look first. Next time you're shopping, pick up any soda and read the label...see something called "high fructose corn syrup"? That's SUGAR! A little known fact is that this ingredient actually blocks a receptor in your brain that signals your brain that you're "full." That's right...another double-edged sword...have a BigMac, fries, and Coke...and not only are you eating HIGH saturated fat and monster calories, but the Coke is blocking the signal to say "Stop Eating!" See how easy it is for McD's to sell their 2 Big-Macs for $3?!?!?

Food Label Help:

1. Low Fat vs. Fat Free: boy, the consumer has been blind-sided by the food industry here. Next time you're heading down the salad dressing aisle, hold these two things up side-by-side. The fat-free version is chock full of preservatives and HIGH in sodium..plus, it'll taste horrible. Many times, the low-fat version is low in calories, low in preservatives, and still tastes good. If it contains dairy, they're normally just using low-fat or skim milk. Sour cream and cheeses for sure...always buy low fat, not fat free.

2. Bread products (pitas, loaves of bread, crackers, tortillas): don't be fooled by the "Whole Grain" or brown-colored breads without reading the label. Simply turn that loaf over and read. If the first ingredient has the word "enriched" in it, PUT IT BACK! You are looking for something like "Whole Wheat." There are a lot of wheat breads that are enriched so beware. Also, sometimes the bread is "butter-top"...use your common sense here...you think that's saving you calories? There are lots of options out there...don't worry! My personal favorite is a line of foods by Kashi. No, this won't cost you big time nor do you need to seek out an organic supermarket. If you're a Super Wal-Mart shopper, I have found they actually have the best selection...surprisingly. You'll also find them at your local supermarket...selection could vary very much by location.

About Kashi: EVERYTHING they make has the main 7 whole grains in it. Their products are high in fiber, protein, omega-3s, and they don't contain the junk I've spoken of before. Click on their logo to visit their site. Here are some of my everyday favorites:

a. Blueberry or honey frozen waffles: only 150 calories for the two of them...top with "light" syrup.
b. Cereals...they have many of them and they are VERY good and very filling...and of course, high in the good stuff and absent of the bad stuff. Use skim milk or soy...as to your liking, of course.
c. Granola Bars: very chewy or crunchy (they have both) and a great snack between meals to keep your hunger under control...again, high in fiber and protein = filling!
d. Crackers: a variety such as ranch and cheddar and yes, nothing enriched or bad.
e. They also have frozen pizzas and frozen meals...I just don't eat them regularly.

3. Fruits and Veggies: the more colorful, the better. As you browse the produce section, try to get a variety of colors...they all contain different nutrients and vitamins which are good for you. Apples, oranges, bananas...USE these to get the fiber (helps give you that full feeling) and the healthy by-products that they contain. Oh yea, did I mention "LOW CALORIE!!"? The potato is a veggie, too. Fry it and you've destroyed it's nutritional value and filled it with crud. How about you opt for those red potatoes (remember the color?), bake them, and top with some low-fat sour cream and bacon bits? (one of my favorite meals). Not all carbs are bad! Enriched = BAD, Whole = GOOD!

4. Pasta: as a runner, I need my carbs and lots of them. I can honestly say I eat a LOT of carbs and rarely do I eat something enriched...exception is in a restaurant which sometimes offers no alternative. Whole wheat pasta (love the Ronzini pasta...widely available) is a staple in my fridge. I always make a batch, mix it with some good pasta sauce (remember to read the label), add some extra virgin olive oil (an excellent source of good fats). Topping it with some feta cheese is a great way to finish it off. Now I warn you, the following literally stinks, smells like cat food, and Marjie hates it...but to me, it's tasty and a great power meal! All of the previous but add a can of tuna in water. Yea! Get those omega-3 fatty acids!

OK, there's a rumor out there that cheating every once in awhile is fine. I have to disagree...in the beginning at least. Changing your "lifestyle" is a slow process that your body has to adapt to. Eating bad once a week in the beginning can sabotage everything you're trying to do.

WATER...and lots of it: did you know that the more high fructose corn syrup you drink (sounds gross, doesn't it?), the more you crave...and if you stop drinking it altogether, just a drink of it will turn your stomach and you won't even finish your glass. Your body naturally hates it but you may have programmed yourself to crave it....wonderful syrup, eh?! How about this: water. Water is the number one ingredient in your body! Here's another little known fact: drink less water = body retains what it has (water retention, bloating, yuck!). Drink more and more water = body starts to release it as it knows more is coming...plus it cleans you out and constantly renews your water "stores." Plus, you'll feel SO much better being hydrated! Again, as a runner, it is absolutely critical to stay hydrated. How to do it: forget those 20oz bottles...they go away too fast. I carry a gallon jug everywhere I go. As soon as I get a bit thirsty, down it goes. OK, don't subscribe to "but if I drink to much, I can get hurt and deplete my sodium and possibly die!!!" Do you realize how much that would take? I drink between 1/2 gallon and 1 gallon per day and I'm no where close to that happening to me.

OK, in a nutshell that's it. Yes, I run a lot which burns lot of calories. However, you can do many things to burn calories but I must admit, running does it well!

A Couple of things to help:

1. Keep a log of what you eat...if you actually see what you're eating, you may not eat it!

2. Don't weigh yourself every day. My day is Thursday and that's the weight I write on my training calendar along with my mileage for the day.

3. Change your lifestyle, don't go on a diet, and stick to it. Remember the basic concepts of creating the calorie deficit, putting quality foods in, and protecting yourself from the junk out there.

4. Surround yourselves with others doing this or those that can hold you accountable.

5. Like a marathon, slow and steady....this won't happen overnight!

6. Once you change your lifestyle, it really does become easy. You no longer crave the bad stuff. Knowledge is power here....you understand how to read the label and know how to fuel yourself.

7. Set Goals! A goal not set cannot be met!

Let me know if I can help you in any way! E-mail me anytime!: nickruns26.2@gmail.com


Chef Bill Bailey said...

Great Blog Nick Lots of useful info for us the start of the year with.

Brett S. said...

Nice to see you enter the Blog world. My 70lbs took 5 years but has stayed off for the last two. Well other than the 6lbs I put on since Richmond. But it's all muscle right.