Saturday, June 25, 2016

power crunch protein energy bar: chocolate mint

I tried a new protein bar this week:  Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar, Chocolate Mint flavor.  I found it in Bed Bath & Beyond.  It was less than $2.00, which is a good price for protein bars;  some can run to almost $3.00.

The package says it's an energy bar, but I can't figure out where the "energy" comes from.  I don't see caffeine listed, or anything else that would tell me it's supposed to give me energy.

It has 13g of protein and 5g of sugar, which means I won't have an upset stomach from too much sugar.  It has 205 calories.  My calorie intake is about 1,350, so this fits into my diet.

I really like this.  It's basically a take on the crème filled wafer bar.  You know, the mega sweet ones they sell in the cookie isle?  I really liked the texture and the size of it, and it reminds me of Girl Scout cookies. You know, the outrageously addictive Thin Mints?  Obviously it doesn't taste exactly like that.  If it did, that would mean it's loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners.  But it's really good and tastes minty.  And it's crunchy, which is a nice change from most other protein bars. I would definitely buy this again.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

updated exercise routine: more weight AND more reps!

I got my updated workout yesterday. My immediate response was, "Is Mark trying to kill me?!" And I emailed him to ask exactly that. I was kidding with him, of course. He replied back that yes, it's a lot, but I don't have to accomplish it all at once. The end goal is to be able to do the whole thing without any breaks. (?!)
I'm happy to say that I did it yesterday in the gym at work. Yes, it took longer and it was much harder. But I didn't die, pass out or have a heart attack. I have to say I was really worn out, though. I was trying to talk to a coworker afterwards and I had a hard time voicing my thoughts, or even gathering my thoughts, really. But I felt good overall and I felt pretty good the rest of the night. I went home and made dinner: half a toasted English muffin topped with goat cheese and a fried egg. (I just can't ever have enough goat cheese.)
Oh, and another thing: I've been seeing him once a week for a couple weeks and I've been keeping up with it. It's definitely hard to do this on my own, but I'm doing it. I've only skipped one workout without making it up at some other time.
So, here's the newest workout: 
  • Jogging in place, jumping jacks and mountain climbers, alternated three times for a total of 8 minutes (If doing this at work, I hit the treadmill for 10 minutes instead.)
  • 3 set of 20 walking lunges holding two 10 lb. free weights to do curls while lunging
  • 3 sets of 20 body squats holding a 10 lb. free weight
  • 3 sets of 20 kettle bell swings with a 20 lb. kettle bell
  • 3 sets of 15 squat jumps
  • 2 sets of 15 reverse lunges using a 15 lb. kettle bell
  • 2 sets of 15 sumo uprights using a 25 lb. kettle bell (it's a squat with a kettle bell)
  • 4 sprints, 40 yards each
  • 4 sets of how ever many push-ups I can do: I still can't do a full push-up, but I'm getting there. I can do about 21 in the first set, 19 in the second set, and about 10 to 15 in the last two sets.
  • Plank, as long as I can hold it
  • Stretching for 10 minutes
I have to admit I've been slacking off on the plank and the stretching.  I guess I feel like stretching isn't important.  As for the plank, it hurts my forearms to do it in the gym at work.  But I bought a really thick mat that's small and portable, so now I have no excuse!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

the week in review

Bob and I at Devil's Hopyard a couple weeks ago.
I haven't written one of these in a long time, so I figured I'd do it today.  It's easier to just wrap it all up in one post instead of several.

Devil's Hopyard
Last weekend Bob and I went to a family wedding in New York.  We had a good time:  we ate a lot (way too much--there was Tums involved); visited a pretty cool antique store (it was inside an old barn and it was pretty big); did some other shopping; spent time with family; and didn't hit any traffic, which was nice.  I was worried about getting my exercise done.  I didn't have a training appointment Friday, which meant doing it on my own, and Saturday and Sunday were on my own anyway. I had planned on using the gym at work, but with having to leave early I was pretty busy all day.  I then planned to do it when we got to the hotel (I brought my weights and kettle bell!), but we didn't get in until about 9 pm.  Saturday morning I got up, went down to the parking lot and jogged around for a couple minutes to warm up. Then I went to the room and did the routine, then back out to the parking lot for sprints. It was hard doing it in the morning, but I got it out of the way.  Same thing on Sunday, although I was even less enthusiastic than the day before.  But I got it done.  I was very proud of myself for not flaking out.  All I need is the tiniest excuse to not exercise.

Leo started his B-12 shots.  It's pretty easy and he doesn't seem to realize I'm giving him a shot.  His weight is stable for the moment, so I'm happy about that. He starts on his hypoallergenic diet this week.  This should be fun with 10 other cats to feed.  It means taking up all the dry food while we're at work, which Oscar isn't going to like!  An 8 pound bag of the hypoallergenic food is $62.00, so I won't be feeding it to the other cats.  Way too expensive!

Devil's Hopyard
Thomas looks great.  He's gaining some weight back and he's grooming again.  His mouth looks really good--no sign of infection or inflammation.  Looks like he doesn't have any lingering issues.
    I went to a seminar for work this week, which was very interesting.  For anyone who doesn't know what I do, I work at a bank and I look for suspicious activity, like money laundering, tax evasion, human trafficking, that sort of thing. It's really amazing what goes on in people's bank accounts when they think no one is watching. Or they know, and they try to beat the system. At the seminar there was a speaker who talked about what to look for in regards to human trafficking--she's a trafficking survivor. Scary stuff.

    I got some weeding done in my garden.  It just grows so fast and gets really overwhelming.  At least there isn't as much grass in it this year, which is great.  I just do a little at time. I come home from work and spend about 10 minutes weeding.  As a result, I'm almost done and it doesn't feel like I really did any work.  I'm still deciding if I want to dig up the whole thing and start over fresh. I keep going back and forth about it. I'd hate to lose all the established plants I have.

    Yesterday I was shopping for some plants and some kid asked his mom if I was pregnant. That was really humiliating and especially depressing, since I've lost 130 pounds, I'm 30 pounds from my goal, and I'm working out regularly. It took me right back to 343 pounds.  And, no, this wasn't some little three year old.  He looked to be about 10.  I know--kids will be kids.  But still.  The mom just said no and walked away.  Didn't apologize for him or anything. Hopefully she talked to him when she got home.  I guess my only consolation is this was a kid, not an adult.  If it was the mom who asked, I would have laid into her big time. There's absolutely no excuse for someone asking if someone is pregnant or telling them they look pregnant. If they're at a baby shower or the mom is in labor, then obviously the woman is pregnant. Otherwise, just shut up.  You run the risk of looking like an insensitive idiot and humiliating someone. All I keep thinking now is that I've done all this work and I still look pregnant. Anyway, I'm going to put it out of my mind and let it fuel my workouts.

    Here's a picture from our walk at Devil's Hopyard. We're on the covered bridge. Notice what's written on the top beam.  I think I will take this wise advice.

    Saturday, June 11, 2016

    updated exercise routine: more weight!

    My routine changed a little this past week. Instead of using a 10 lb. kettle bell I now use a 20 pounder. And I have to do curls while doing the walking lunges.

    The new routine consists of:
    • Jogging in place, jumping jacks and mountain climbers, alternated three times for a total of 8 minutes
    • Total of 50 walking lunges holding two 10 lb. free weights to do curls while lunging (yes, it took me a minute to get coordinated!)
    • 2 sets of 20 body squats
    • 2 sets of 20 kettle bell swings with a 20 lb. kettle bell
    • 2 sets of 15 reverse lunges using a 20 lb. kettle bell
    • 2 sets of 15 squat jumps (I HATE these!)
    • 3 sprints, 25 yards each
    • 4 sets of how ever many push-ups I can do: I still can't do a full push-up, but I'm getting there. I can do about 17 in the first set, 15 in the second set, and about 10 in the last two sets.
    • Plank, as long as I can hold it
    I did this new routine on Wednesday, and it was tough. I can't believe the difference 10 extra pounds made on the reverse lunges! I had to struggle to maintain my balance. It wasn't so bad on the swings, but for some reason I did 20 instead of 15 (I spontaneously forgot what I was supposed to do, I guess), so I was struggling by the end.

    During my session on Monday Mark had me use the weight machine to do some arm work. Even after almost three months, my upper body is still pretty weak. For one exercise he put the weight at 15 pounds and it was a struggle by the end. I joked that I'm weak and it's probably only 15 pounds. He said, "No, it's more like 20." It was 15. I saw it before he changed it for the next exercise. For the next one it was set to only 5 pounds. 5 pounds!! And it was tough.

    I'll get there. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I know I'm making progress, because I can actually feel my muscles. And that's a nice feeling. :) Plus, my clothes fit better and my weight is going down again. I'm 215.8, which is about a 14 pound loss.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2016

    another update on leo

    Last week I posted about some new issues that have popped up with Leo.  Saturday we took him into the vet so we can start the B-12 shots; he will need one per week for the next six weeks.  He got weighed and he was down only half an ounce, which could just be normal a weight fluctuation.

    We then learned how to administer the shots.  I really don't want to drive a couple towns over once per week for six weeks, so I decided to do them myself.  It was actually very easy.  I was worried that the needle would be really big, or I would get squeamish or hurt Leo.  Dr. Robb explained how to administer the shot and then showed me. I have to scruff the back of his neck (pull up the skin), then just insert the needle quickly, and then push the plunger.  He then had me do one, which was just saline.  It was very easy. The needle was almost as small as an insulin needle and Leo didn't even notice the shot.  He just there purring the whole time!

    We then talked about giving him a hypoallergenic diet for the next four to six weeks.  We're hoping that his weight loss and funky GI panel has to do with a new food allergy, or maybe inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn's.  I don't hope for those two diseases, but it's better than the alternative--cancer.  I took a few samples home, as well as one can of prescription food.  That one 5.5 ounce can was $2.67! Thankfully it's just one cat that needs this.  It going to be a real pain to have to feed Leo something different AND keep him away from the other food.  That means watching him eat and then taking up all the dry food when it's not meal time. That will be a really big change for the other cats, since they're used to grazing all day.

    So, that's where we are now:  B-12 shots and a hypoallergenic diet for the next six weeks or so.

    Wish me luck!!

    Saturday, June 4, 2016

    thai lettuce wraps

    This is an idea I ripped off from a local restaurant, Maggie McFly's (I love this place!).

    At the restaurant, they serve stir-fried beef, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, noodles (similar to Raman), tiny sliced cucumbers, and crushed peanuts along side lettuce leaves and three dipping sauces.  It was delicious and I liked making my own lettuce wraps.  I could use as little or as much as I wanted.  I was able to eat three wraps; however, I had a salad beforehand, so I probably could have eaten more.  I really enjoyed having these and figured it would be something different, for a change, and pretty easy to make at home.  So, this weekend, off I went to get the ingredients!

    Bibb lettuce (or Boston or Butter, same thing) is used for making the lettuce wraps.  The leaves are pretty much the perfect size:  not too big and not too small.  Plus, they don't seem to tear easily.  I wasn't sure I'd find this lettuce at the regular grocery store, so I checked Whole Foods while I was there.  They wanted $6.99 for a head!!  I said "no way" and decided to stop at another store on the way home.  Lo and behold!  They had the same exact branch for only $2.99!  Still more than iceberg lettuce, but I feel like it works better.  Tastes like something, too.

    I grabbed the smallest bag of bean sprouts, which was huge considering I don't really have another use for them (I'll have to Google, "what to do with a million bean sprouts"), and also a bag of carrots.  I didn't buy the pre-shredded carrots since I can easily do it with my food processor.  I also grabbed some beef from the meat case, which was already cut into strips, and some limes for my marinade.

    I made the lettuce wraps this week and it was easy.  Just marinate the meet overnight (you don't have to, but I like it like that), prepare your toppings, tear off some lettuce leaves, and fry the beef.  Super simple; however, this is one time where you want to have everything ready to go before you cook the beef.  The strips were really thin and cooked very fast.  In fact, I overcooked them a little.

    I really liked the marinade (recipe below).  It had lots of flavor.  I actually used it on my husband's pork cutlets, too.  He's not into making lettuce wraps, so he had pork with sautéed green beans and a pasta side dish. The one thing that would have made these better is dipping sauce.  I totally zoned out and forgot to make a sauce.  At the restaurant, they served a sesame ginger sauce, teriyaki sauce, and a peanut sauce.  Next time I must remember!

    Asian Marinade

    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
    3 TB honey
    Juice of 2 limes
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 TB minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
    3 scallions, thinly sliced

    Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, and oil.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk again.  Use to marinade anything you want!

    Friday, June 3, 2016

    arctic zero ice cream alternative

    It seems that every time I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see sponsored or suggested pages for products I might like.  It's no big deal.  If it looks interesting or like something I might like, I click.  I normally get a lot of pages for protein bars and shakes, healthy snacks, and diet foods.  The other day I saw one for Arctic Zero.  What lured me in was the claim that it was only 35 calories for a 1/2 cup. Ice cream isn't really my thing, but now-distant memories of chowing down on a pint of Ben & Jerry's every few months are vivid and magnetic. That's what made me click, I think. 


    I checked out the website and found that it's actually billed as an ice cream alternative:  no lactose, no gluten, no fat, etc.  I definitely wondered how it would taste, but I was optimistic; there are lots of foods like this that are actually good.  I found several local grocery stores, such as Stop & Shop, carry it.  I headed to Whole Foods this past weekend to check out the produce isle in hopes that something would inspire me to try something new--it didn't--and I decided to see if they carry Artic Zero--they do!  But it was $4.99 a pint.  I figured I could probably find it for less at Stop & Shop, so I went there afterwards.  It was the same price, unfortunately. They had a few different flavors, like Cake Batter and Salted Caramel.  I got the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor.  As I was picking up the containers to check the ingredients, I noticed they're suspiciously light in weight.  It definitely didn't feel like a pint of Ben & Jerry's. (That should have told me everything I need to know.) Despite the price, I decided to buy it.  If I had finally found a low-calorie ice cream-like product that I like, it would be worth it.

    As you can see, water is the number 1 ingredient, 
    which probably makes this more like a sorbet.

    I went right to my sister's house from the store, which meant I had to store my cold foods in the fridge or freezer.  I decided to try the ice cream right away, and my sister tried it, too.  I cracked open the pint and was prepared to be amazed by the goodness within.  And...I was not amazed.  It scooped like ice cream, but it tasted more like the diet ice cream, AKA ice milk, I remember from childhood.  I tasted just a hint of chocolate and peanut butter.  I wasn't impressed.

    Would I buy this again?  Only if I really had an ice cream craving.  And even then, I'd rather have just a couple spoonfuls of the regular full-fat ice cream; it would be much more satisfying and less expensive.  The upside to buying this is there's more room in your calorie budget to add toppings. And if someone really feels they can't live without ice cream and has certain dietary restrictions, this might be something that works for them.

    Thursday, June 2, 2016

    feeling nervous

    This is what I deal with when I sit down to use 
    the computer. Peek-a-boo, Thelma!

    After last Friday's personal training session, I only have seven sessions left.  That makes me really nervous.  Although I've proven that I can do this, I feel I still need the accountability.  Sure, I do the prescribed exercise routine on the days I'm supposed to do it, but it's really hard to make myself get out there and do it. Several times, the only thing that got me outside to do it was knowing that I'd be seeing Mark soon. That, and I have this notion that he will somehow know if I don't do it.  Not only because he can tell by what I can accomplish at the studio, but because I feel like he just somehow KNOWS.  Like he's got a sixth sense or something. So, that keeps me going.

    I'm thinking of buying more sessions and going only once per week.  That would give me the opportunity to do most of it on my own, while still being accountable and having someone to help me along.  Plus, I wouldn't have to spend as much money and I'd get another three months out of it.

    What have I accomplished so far?
    • I can run sprints.  In the backyard, I run from the patio to the barn, which is about 30 yards.  On the treadmill, I can do 6.5 mph for 45 seconds and then two more sprints at the same speed for 30 seconds. Doesn't sound like much, but I've never been able to do that before. I've discovered that I like running.  I think it appeals to the part of me that wants instant gratification.
    • I still can't do a full pushup, but I can do at least 15 of them at once and can get about halfway down to the floor. Thinking back to day one, I struggled mightily with doing just three and my arms barely bended.
    • I've lost 12 pounds:  I was 229 when I started seeing Mark and now I'm 217.
    • I've lost about an inch and a half off my waist.
    • I've discovered I actually don't hate exercise.  I hate squat jumps and jumping jacks, but I don't hate exercise in general.
    • I can plank for 1:10.  I haven't been able to get beyond that, but I'm sure I will. Practice makes perfect!
    I have only one appointment this week due to the holiday, so I'll be doing four sessions at home and only one with Mark.  I guess this is a good test to see if I can keep up with it. Considering I exercised this weekend--a weekend with two 90+ degree days--I'd say it's a safe bet that I can do it.  (Yes, it was completely disgusting outside! And yes, I did it in the morning before it got really hot outside.) The hardest part is getting up off the couch.