I can cook.

Thursday, April 29, 2010 by kate

I really can. But sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I live alone, so if I make something my cat and I are eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner all week. (And I don’t think Marvin likes my cooking all that much.)

Preparing lunches are especially hard because they take up so much brain power before I’ve had my morning cup of coffee. And it can be tough to find healthy, fast meals that taste good, too. I mean, sure, you can buy something low-fat, fat-free, light, or diet, but does it usually taste all that good? Or fill you up?

So, I’ve found some nukers that are just as tasty as the real thing and STILL healthy for you! Here's my current lunch obsession:

This soup is healthy and wicked tasty – not a common occurance. And it only has 80 calories a serving! Ok. The can serves two, and you know we all eat the whole thing. But still! 160 calories for lunch is really low! And I guarantee you'll feel full afterwards.

I like to add pepper. Lots and lost of pepper.

What's your favorite lunch?

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Secrets & Scales

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 by kate

It’s weigh in day today. Some of you have been stellar at keeping me in the loop of your weight loss journey. Others, well … you’ve been a bit secretive. The purpose of this virtual weekly weigh in is more for you than for me. (Well, it’s for me, too. I love reading about everyone slimming down!) But I understand how hard it is to tell someone when you haven’t lost as much as you wanted to. I was in the same boat. Except I had to pay $40 a month for my boat. And I recently jumped ship.

I boarded Weight Watchers last fall to lose those last few pounds. Unfortunately, I was lost at sea for …. oh, say, 6 months. It took me 6 months to lose … 6 pounds. That’s right. One lousy pound in one lousy month. The last few months I was so ashamed of my loser losing status that I refused to go to a meeting until I had lost a decent amount of weight. I know, this doesn’t really make sense. Their meetings are for motivation and support to help you lose weight, and I was denying myself this help until I lost weight. (Sometimes I just don’t make sense.) So, I quit.

This doesn’t mean you’re allowed to quit the Weigh In challenge. I’m not charging you $40 a month, so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving this a shot. And even though I was disappointed when I only lost 1 pound in a month, I’m still down 6 pounds. And I could (probably would) be UP 6 pounds if I had never joined Weight Watchers in the first place. So even if you’ve only lost 1 pound during this Weigh In challenge, email me with an update. You still have time to lose some weight before summer’s here. You’ll feel better getting your body in tune for June.

So, go weigh yourself and send me an update at WeighIn@Captivate.com. Tell me how you’re doing, what challenges you’re facing, and what’s motivating you to keep going. I may steal all your ideas and post them here. But, I’ll probably give you credit. Probably.

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My 5 K: Lessons learned

Monday, April 26, 2010 by kate

You'd think after running for 8 years I'd get the hang of these things. Aparently not. Yesterday I ran a 5K with a friend of mine. After an initial mixup (I didn't know the area and mistakenly tried to enter a rowing race instead of the running race), things kicked off pretty well. I thought I'd share with you some of my post-race thoughts.

1. I probably didn’t need to eat a bagel smothered in cream cheese before the 5K, considering you only burn about 100 calories a mile. I’m pretty darn sure the bagel was (a lot) more than 300 calories.
2. Don’t run with tall people. They’re legs are longer, so they’re cheating the whole time.

3. If they say the race course only has one hill, they’re lying. It has at least 5.

4. A 5K is not 3 miles. It’s 3.125 miles. So you’re not done when you hit the 3-mile marker. And that last 0.125 miles will be a pain in the bum. Why do we even have races in kilometers? We’re not in Canada.

5. Old men are fast. Don’t underestimate them or get in their way. They will cut you.

6. As a general rule, you should not run 9 miles the day before your 5K. Your legs will hate you. And you need them on your side come race day.

7. Why is it a prerequisite that all race t-shirts must be size XL, ugly and cotton? Why can’t they have some soft women’s cut, v-neck Ts? Something a bit flashy and sassy. I mean, even a president can’t pull this off.

Have you run a road race recently? What've been your take-aways?

previous post

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My running buddies

Friday, April 23, 2010 by kate

So, I’ve already mentioned that Lady Gaga and I are running buddies. I used to have to lug her around in a prehistoric iPod nano. It was big. And clunky. And devoid of any flair or charisma. But Santa* gave me a shiny new shuffle for Christmas and I’m in love.

She’s tiny and shiny, bright pinky and slinky. Not that I’m superficial, but she’s hot. (And yes, I color-coordinate my outfits to match her. There's nothing wrong with that.)

And she talks to me. She tells me what song I’m listening to, what songs I have and when my battery is getting low. She’s my buddy. Is that weird?

Her only downfall is sometimes her earphones go on the fritz and she starts repeatedly telling me what song I’m listening to. But that’s ok, I’ve got quirks too.
What do you use to stay entertained during a long workout? What’s your favorite song to sweat to? (I'm getting a bit sick of Gaga ... I need some other friends.)

*my fella

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Eco-friendly fitness

Thursday, April 22, 2010 by kate

In honor of Earth Day, I've compiled a list of things you can do to be eco-friendly and figure-friendly.

If you don’t live too far away from work, take the trip on your bike.

The average American has a 16 mile commute – a fit cyclist could bike that distance in an hour. And you could still stop off and get your morning cup of joe (just put it in a reusable cup!). If you live too far away to bike, consider turning half your commute into a workout – walk to the train station or bike to the bus stop.

Hang out
Rather than just tossing your clothes in the dryer, lug those 15-20 pounds of sopping wet clothes outside and hang them out on a line.
You’ll get some great squats in there, not to mention an awesome arm workout.

Get out
Rather than waste electricity running on a treadmill, go outside, enjoy the weather, and get a guilt-free workout jogging on the sidewalk.
Or kick things up a knotch and hit the woods. Trail running is a great way to work on agility as well as fitness.

Bury the bottle
Ditch those disposable water bottles. Instead buy a reusable bottle you can use over again.

Productive pedaling
Take your workout to another level with the Pedal-A-Watt bicycle stand, which creates power while you’re pedaling. According to their website, the average rider will produce 125-300 watts, and one 20 minute workout could run a laptop for over an hour.

And after you’ve worked up a sweat, recycle your workout gear. Check out Patagonia’s recycling program.

What green fitness tips do you have?


Sweets & scales

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 by kate

It’s Weigh In day! And we’ve been at this for just over a month. How’ve you been? Did you join the challenge, miss a few weeks and give up? Are your snacks sabotaging your diet? Even if you haven’t been very successful, rejoin the challenge. So what if you haven’t lost any weight. It’s not too late. We’ve still got two more months to go and if you start now, you could still lose a good amount of weight before the first day of summer. So, hop on the scale and send me an update at WeighIn@Captivate.com. For those of you who’ve joined, but haven’t been sending me updates … I know where you live! OK. I don’t really. But, I know your email address! So I might just have to start the virtual nagging.

Sweet evils
I don’t just have a sweet tooth. I’ve got a whole set of sweet teeth.
When I was in high school my favorite breakfast was two Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (sugar) washed down with a Sprite (more sugar). Not Sprite Zero. Regular ol’ Sprite. For a total of 670 calories! (And I wonder why I was not-so-pleasantly plump!).

I think it’s pretty obvious that sugar makes you fat. (I wish those smart NASA people would quit those silly plans to return to the moon and start working on important things … like a sugar that makes you skinny!). But a new study from Princeton University suggests high-fructose corn syrup makes you gain more weight than table sugar.

Researchers fed rats water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for six months. They found the rats on a HFCS diet developed more belly fat and had an increased level of circulating triglycerides, fat's chemical form in the body.

That’s not to say you should you should douse your salad in sugar, it just means natural sugar is a better option over high-fructose corn syrup.

"The debate about which one is better for you is a false debate, because neither of them is good for you," says Elizabeth Abbott, author of the forthcoming "Sugar: A Bittersweet History." "By having cane sugar, you're not doing yourself a great big favor. Not so much sugar is what we should be striving for."

Corn conspiracy
Some experts are debating the merits of this controversial study. Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics, points out researchers did only two experiments comparing the effects of HFCS to sugar, and the results were inconsistent. Their other experiments compared HFCS to a regular diet.

Either way you look at it, sugar is evil. Whether it’s table sugar, HFCS, or maple syrup. They can all make you fat and increase your risk of heart disease.

Americans eat an average of 21.4 teaspoons (359 calories) of added sugars each day. And govt scientists say about 1/3 of that sugar comes from soda. Imagine if you cut out one serving of soda a day (keep in mind that’s 8 ounces … not the 20 oz. bottles you buy). You could lose 1 pound a month – 12 pounds a year. Just by giving soda the cold shoulder.

So what’s your dessert downfall? What rots your sweet tooth?

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‘Too fat to fight’

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 by kate

Even the military is ganging up on the lunch ladies. According to a USA Today article, a group of retired military leaders is blaming schools for unfit recruits.

They say about one-quarter of young adults age 17 to 24 are too heavy to serve. That’s 9 million people. And every year, the military discharges more than 1,200 first-term enlistees because of weight problems.

I’m not sharing this with you because I think you want to don some boots and camo (which is so not slimming). It’s just a sad reality that so many Americans are so out of shape.

Coming up tomorrow:
1. Weigh In Day!
2. Find out why you should opt for plain old sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup

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You're not the Energizer bunny, so what keeps you going?

Monday, April 19, 2010 by kate

The Boston Marathon is today. 26.2 miles. Yea. That’s far. Sometimes I hesitate to even drive 26.2 miles without a coffee break in the middle.

So how do these elite athletes motivate themselves to keep going? Maybe the fact that they could win part of the $806,000 prize money keeps them in their kicks. Or the satisfaction of putting your body to the test and crossing the finish line after months of training. Or they’re all just plain crazy.

Either way. I’d love to run a marathon someday! The few times I’ve run a half marathon I cross the finish line and think, “There’s no way I could do all that all over again.”

So even though you may not be training for a marathon, or triathlon, or a century ride, it’s good to have goals. How do you motivate yourself to keep going when you don’t have $806,000 to spur you on?

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Meet Moxie

Thursday, April 15, 2010 by kate

My cube-mate and confidante:

Moxie. She takes me anywhere I need to go. And, best of all, she brings me coffee.
So she's a bit shaky, but I won't cry over spilt coffee ... well ... unless it all spills, then there might be some misting.

So how do you get to work? Are you close enough that you could walk, bike or hop to work? I can burn a few hundred calories, beat traffic AND still get my morning cup of coffee. Wouldn't you rather a calorie-burning commute?

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Weigh In Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 by kate

It’s Weigh In Wednesday and you guys have already lost more than 15 pounds so far! That's awesome! And if you haven't been so successful, don't give up! We've still got a little more than 9 weeks to go before the first day of summer.

Email me with your weight loss at WeighIn@Captivate.com. And in the meantime, take a look at what I had to say to a 13-year-old girl who wanted some dieting advice. I had a hard time writing to her. What do you think? What would you have said?

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Dieting mistakes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 by kate

A note for Weigh In Challengers: Don't forget tomorrow is Weigh In day. So, don't eat anything salty tonight and email me your update at WeighIn@captivate.com. Good luck!

Sometimes I make mistakes. It’s very rare, but it happens.*

So I was heartened to read an article about dieting mistakes we all make. The whole list sounded very familiar. I thought you'd enjoy reading just a few that hit close to home. Check out the full article here.

1. You starve yourself all day and splurge at night.

Ooh, if my cat could talk. I swear he’s totally judging me from his corner of the couch when I snack at night! According to Active.com, you should cut your evening meal in half, and eat a big breakfast instead.

2. You graze instead of eating regular meals.

Eating this way may actually cause you to gain weight, they say. Instead, stick to a schedule. Use a food journal to track when you’re hungry and what satisfies you.

3. You assume calories from healthy, natural foods are low.

This is my main downfall. I can resist cake because I know it’s bad for me, but put a dish of almonds in front of me and I just go to town!

"Just because a food is healthy doesn't mean you can eat big portions," says D. Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, owner of One Source Nutrition in Stamford, Conn. "A handful of nuts can be 200 calories or more. And if you add that without cutting back elsewhere, it could be the reason you're not losing weight."

4. You eat like a bird for the month before a big event.

Experts say you shouldn’t eat less than 1,200 calories a day because it’ll slow down your metabolism.

5. Your splurge foods are "low-fat" and "sugar-free".

I was the sugar-free fiend for quite a while. I could eat a whole bag of sugar-free cookies. For some reason that doesn’t seem so healthy now. Plus, low-fat, low-sugar treats usually have something else in there. There’s got to be something to make it taste so good.

So how about you? Do any of these things hit close to home? What other mistakes do you make?

*I once thought I could rock a pixie cut with bright red streaks … for about 3 years …

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Salad Solutions

Friday, April 9, 2010 by kate

I hate boring salads. There’s nothing worse than tragically tarnished tomatoes hiding amongst limp lettuce leaves and crusty croutons. And don’t even mention fat-free salad dressings. Don’t even think of putting fat-free dressing on this salad I'm going to share with you! I’m sorry, but there are some things I just won’t have: 1. Mayonnaise. 2. Fat-free salad dressing. Both are gross for opposite reasons. All I can think of is a big 'ol tub of lard when I look at mayonnaise. And salad dressing without the fat is just ... well ... sad. Low-fat ... Ok. But don't take out everything! Some fat – good fat – is important to have in your diet. You just can't overdo it and have salad soup!

Recently*, I fell in love with a salad at a local organic café**. Here’s a description of The Explorer just to give you a taste:

Our scrumdelyishus homemade lowfat Red Lentil Hummus, paired with sesame
crunches, sundried tomatoes, cucumber, corn, spring mix and a sprinkle of
shredded carrots and beets all traveling together with our fantastic honey
wasabi vinaigrette. A dreamy destination!

How could you not fall in love with this? So I made it my quest to conquer this salad and make it my own. It’s incredibly easy and it changed my opinion of beets forever. (And I was wicked anti-beet for years!)

Start off with some pretty green lettuce. Doesn't matter what kind. The darker the leaves, the more nutriants in it.
Chop up a cucumber.

Peel and shred your beets. If you don’t want to be caught red-handed, please wear gloves. Those beets stain!
Shred your carrots. Or! If you’re lazy, open your bag of pre-shredded carrots.

Chop up some sun-dried tomatoes.

Open a can of corn. (I know, this recipe is really complicated. Stay with me here.)

And plop it all-pretty-like on your leafy greens.

Garnish with some sesame sticks and you’re good to go.

But the real secret is in the sauce! Here’s my favorite: Honey Wasabi Dressing. I like to use a little less oil.

If you want to expand your healthy horizons, try a few of these recipes:

This recipe reminds me of Panera’s Asian Sesame Chicken Salad.

This is called My Most Favorite Salad Ever Ever Ever Ever. How can you argue with that?

If you’re sick of lettuce, give spinach salad a try.

Or check out this Lime Chicken Chickpea Salad.

There’s a whole world of salads out there. And don’t limit your lettuce selection. The Titanic wasn’t a fan of iceburg, why should you be stuck on it, too?

What's your favorite go-to salad?

*About a year ago, but I’ve got to keep this thing sounding fresh and up-to-date!
**If you're in Mass., check out Life Alive. You'll thank me. Well, maybe you won't thank me, but you'll definitely see I was right. Try the Explorer wrap or Chai Alive.

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She's 86 and has blond hair ... anything's possible

Thursday, April 8, 2010 by kate

I don’t like getting advice from skinny people. I feel like if you’ve never felt your thigh jiggle or your arm flap in the wind, you really can’t tell me how to lose weight.

So it’s good to know the founder of Weight Watchers had a problem with Mallomars. But it’s even more comforting to know that she dropped more than 60 pounds and has kept it off, even into her 80s.

Jean Nidetch struggled with her weight even as a child, according to USA Today. By the age of 27, Nidetch weighed 214 pounds and was hiding Mallomars in the hamper so her family wouldn’t see her eating them. She turned to a diet program run by the New York City Board of Health Manhattan, and lost 20 pounds in ten weeks. That’s when she began holding her own weight loss meetings in her apartment with overweight friends.

You can read all about her weight loss journey in her new autobiography The Jean Nidetch Story.

"If you want to lose weight, you will — you can," she says. "You are capable. I'm 86, and I have blonde hair. That's not nature. It takes a desire ... and sometimes it's rather uncomfortable to get it done. It costs time and money. If you really want to do it, and you know it's your desire and you're capable of it, you will. It's that simple."

“Weight loss can change your whole character. That always amazed me: Shedding pounds does change your personality. It changes your philosophy of life because you recognize that you are capable of using your mind to change your body.”

If you haven't already, join the challenge:
Get started
Track what you eat
Find a program
Read my story

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Weight & Weighty Issues

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 by kate

It’s Weigh In Wednesday. How did you do? I stayed the same. I know. I know. I should be setting an example for you guys. But at least I didn’t gain! That’s a step.

So while you’re removing your bloomers and bangles and preparing to go face-to-face with your maker (i.e. The Scale), here’s something to distract you.

I’ve watched the first two episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and it just made me sad. These poor kids in Huntington, West Virginia, (called the unhealthiest city in America) are being fed pizza for breakfast and chicken nuggets for lunch and dinner. Where are the vegetables you ask? French fries. That's right. French fries. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered French fries a vegetable! This show will make you want to eat a salad. A big, healthy salad.

Speaking of salads, Jamie also has some recipes you can try out. His Everyday Green Chopped Salad looks really good and easy enough to make.

So good luck on the scale today! And don’t forget to email me your weigh in results at WeighIn@captivate.com. Don’t worry. We’ve still got 11 weeks until summer begins. Every little bit counts!

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One pound = 3,500 calories

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 by kate

A note for Weigh In Challengers: Don't forget tomorrow is Weigh In day. So, take a deep breath, hop on the scale, and email me your update at WeighIn@captivate.com. Good luck!

That means cutting out 500 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week. And if you’re looking to lose 20 pounds that means you only have to cut 70,000 calories out of your diet.

So here are some ways to cut calories without cutting out all the fun:

Instead of two slices of bacon (100 calories, 7 grams of fat) have two slices of Morning Star Veggie Bacon Strips (60 calories, 4.5 fat).

Have an English muffin (120 calories, 0.5 fat) instead of two slices of toast (240 calories, 3 grams of fat).

Make an omelet with 3 egg whites, which contain only 50 calories and not even a gram of fat. A regular omelet with yolks and all would run you 210 calories and 13.5 grams of fat. If you miss the yolk, throw one in there with two egg whites and you’ll still be saving 140 calories and 9 grams of fat.

Instead of adding 2 Tablespoons of cream (40 calories, 3 grams of fat) to your coffee, use fat free half and half (20 calories, 0.4 grams of fat).

Have ½ cup of brown rice (100 calories, 1fat) mixed with ½ cup of sautéed vegetables instead of 1 cup of rice pilaf (300 calories, 9 fat).

Enjoy a piece of No Pudge! Brownie (120 calories, 0 fat) instead of a regular brownie (170 calories, 8 fat). Instead of a scoop of vanilla ice cream (145 calories, 16 fat), have it with a scoop of Cool Whip Free (15 calories, 0 fat)

So there you have it. 6 simple ways to cut out more than 700 calories in a day. How do you cut out calories in your diet?

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Fighting the dark force

Monday, April 5, 2010 by kate

So you OD’d on Easter and you’re ready to drown your sorrows in a vat of chocolate. Don’t let that bunny get the best of you. One day of overeating won’t ruin the rest of your life unless you let it.

For the record, I have a problem with chocolate.
(I believe I’ve covered this topic before.) So in order for me to stay on track, I need to get that dark force out of my house. Here are some things I’ve tried.

Freeze it
Chances are you’ll forget you put it in there. Also – when you do want a piece of chocolate, the frozen piece will take longer to melt in your mouth, so you won’t be able to scarf down mounds of chocolates in minutes.

Toss it
That’s right. It’s wasteful. But would you rather store it in your hips? Sometimes you just have to throw the chocolate out. In fact, take that trash to the dumpster right now because in a fit of chocolate haze, I wouldn’t put it past myself to dig through the trash bag for a morsel of chocolate. Don’t look at me that way … you know you would, too, if no one was looking.

Donate it
To a worthy cause. Like your skinny coworkers.

Cook it
Chop up that evil chocolate bunny and make chocolate chip cookies or add them to this Banana nut muffin recipe.

What do you do with your leftover chocolate?

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Hop your heart out

Thursday, April 1, 2010 by kate

Me and the Easter Bunny don’t always get along so well. He gets on my nerves, happily hopping around spreading joy and Almond Joys. All the while I’m dreading our inevitable encounter. I know Easter is supposed to be a day of sacred celebration and egg decorating, but it really just turns into a day of temptation for me. Because there’s chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Everywhere.

So I was delighted to find out the evil Easter Bunny isn’t all that bad. According to a recent study, he’s got our hearts in mind when he fills our baskets with bon bons.

German researchers have found that a bit of chocolate every day may lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke by 40%. They believe flavonols in the chocolate help the muscles in blood vessels widen, which lowers blood pressure.

The key here is “a bit” of chocolate – 6 grams to be exact.

How many grams are in a Cadbury Creme Egg? Or three. Just asking. Not for myself, or anything.

But thankfully these “experts” have also warned us that eating large amounts of chocolate could lead to weight gain.*

"This is not a prescription to eat more chocolate," said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. Bugger. Eckel knows me too well.

So, go enjoy a bit – 6 grams – of chocolate on Sunday, guilt-free. You’re eating for your health!


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