Dress Appropriately

A lot of salad dressings are terrible for you. They are made of processed horribleness that totally kill your whole “I’m healthy because I’m eating a salad” vibe. Dressings, particularly the ones that claim to be “fat free” or “sugar free,” are diet dream crushers, dressed from head to toe in a web of lies.

Like most things, if you can’t explain where it came from or how it was made, then you should probably avoid it. Modified ingredients that cause certain food items such as dressing to be “low fat” “low carb” or “no sugar added” make up for these losses with other items, not natural to your body. Your body reacts to these foreign ingredients in a number of ways, typically with effects the opposite of weight loss. When your body is distressed or confused, it typically likes to play it safe, and hoards sugars and fats, which are useful for survival. But when we are trying to lose weight, we want our bodies to be preppin’ for thriving, not surviving.

I get it though: plain salad can be kind of lame. But its easy to make a basic dressing and get creative with other flavors without having to worry about ingesting the scum of the universe atop your mixed greens.

Make your own dressing!

Mix:
1/4 C Olive Oil
1/4 C Agave
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Mix with any dried spices (+salt and pepper) or add avocado, juice from berries, etc. to mix it up! You can also look into some Greek yogurt based dressings! Also delicious and with great health benefits!

So easy! Oh yeah!

Let me know what healthy dressing recipes you come up with to stay away from bottled dressings!

Later,

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The Great American Cobbler

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One of the greatest things about being an American is freedom.  Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The freedom to make a delicious berry cobbler using only my roommate’s ingredients.

Great American Cobbler facts:

  • Tastes healthier than most (although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing).
  • Very simple to make. #basic
  • Yummy for breakfast.
  • Relatively inexpensive, provided that you use only your roommate’s ingredients.

Warning: I don’t generally recommend cobbler of any kind if you are trying to lose weight.  But if you’re looking for a decent dessert choice, this one is OK.  You can vastly increase the fruit to cobbler ratio for an even better choice.

Ingredients:

  • Whole Wheat Flour;  3/4 cup
  • Milk; 1/2 cup
  • White or Brown Sugar; 1/4 cup
  • Baking Powder; 1 teaspoon
  • Salt; 1/4 teaspoon
  • Honey; amount uncertain
  • Vanilla extract; just a drop
  • Frozen or Fresh berries; 2 cups or more
  • Non-stick Spray
  •  Optional: Stevia; to taste
  • Optional: 1 tsp butter (to coat pan)

Steps:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Mix the following in a bowl
    • Whole Wheat Flour;  3/4 cup
    • Milk; 1/2 cup
    • White or Brown Sugar; 1/4 cup
    • Baking Powder; 1 teaspoon
    • Salt; 1/4 teaspoon
    • Honey; amount uncertain
    • Vanilla extract; just a drop
    • Optional: Stevia, to taste
  • Coat 9 inch pan
    • I use nonstick coconut oil spray. You can also melt 1 tsp butter in the pan, this improves the taste.
  • Pour batter into pan
  • Sprinkle frozen or fresh berries on top, don’t mix in
  • Sprinkle just a touch of sugar on top of berries
  • Bake 50 min – 1 hour.
  • Eat the fucking cobbler.

FAQ’s

  • Q: What if I don’t have a roommate?
    • A: Unfortunately, you may need to purchase your own ingredients.
  • Q: How much honey should I use?
    • A: I’m not sure. I just squeeze a bunch in.

Happy nomming!

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Passing Over the Good Stuff

I’m Jewish. So … tonight we celebrate something weird.

First, we celebrate our emancipation from slavery in Egypt.  Not so weird.

Second, we celebrate that time when God decided to kill all of the first born sons of Egypt, sparing all the Jews. To tell us apart, God advises us Hebrews (and Shebrews) to spread blood all over our doors with a lamb shank. Then God goes on a GTA style killing spree, “Passing Over” the first born Jewish boys and killing only the gentiles. How nice.

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Herman’s face when I told him God only spared the Jewish puppies.

Let’s Talk About Food

…Yada yada yada… God is weird, and here we are countless years later commanded to dine on salty eggs, horseradish, and flavorless crackers the size of large plates.  Score one for God in the WTF department.

No matter what we’re commemorating, the story eventually gets lost as culture and tradition (AKA FOOD) take the spotlight.

…At some point God killed all the Egyptian babies and then we spent some years wandering in the dessert. Is it so wrong to suggest that God’s killing spree and the act of eating chocolate matzoh until your stomach explodes are tenuosly connected, at best?

Passover versus Passover

Holidays are a nice time to eat together with family and friends. They can also derail your weight loss efforts, or provide a convenient excuse for days of overeating.  For many, there is the added pressure of relatives who insist you “have a little more.”

Passover, in particular, is not known for the delicious food. Due to the many food restrictions  that apply during this seven day period, we eat many specialized foods that are only available during this time of year. We might even justify eating vast quantities of “Kosher for Passover” desserts even if we don’t normally eat desserts, and even if those desserts don’t taste very good. We’re only human, and the “limited time only” aspect gets us. Every time.

But ultimately, the choice is yours! There are TWO WAYS you can use the word “Passover” at feast tonight.

Option one: Passover the [Insert food item here]

In this case, you want to consume a comestible, but it is across the table. Examples include:

  • “Hey you – Passover the macaroons”
  • “Grandma, could you Passover the salt please?”
  • “Would anyone mind Passing over that flourless dessert?”

Option two: Passing over [insert poor food choice here].

In this case, you pass over a second helping, or even a first helping of a most likely gross tasting Passover dessert. Examples include:

  • “Eh – I’ve already had enough tsimis. I’ll pass over that second helping.”
  • “Oh, thank you. But I’ll pass on the chocolate matzoh.  Look at all this yummy fruit.”

_____________

All of this is just a long-winded way of getting to a few fairly obvious points.

  1. Eventually, everything turns into an excuse to eat food. If you don’t have an excuse to eat more than you should, you will find one.
  2. That’s OK – it’s our human nature to feast. Humans like feasting, and that’s OK. You can let go every once in a while on a holiday. No one gets fat because of one Passover meal.
  3. On the other hand, the choice is yours. If you don’t want to make the hard sacrifices that fitness often requires, that’s fine. But recognize that the choice is yours. Don’t say “oh today’s not a good day to diet – it’s Passover.” You can make good choices at Passover, or you can make bad choices at Passover. No one is holding you down to the chair and force-feeding you lamb shanks. Unless of course, someone is holding you down to the chair and force-feeding you lamb shanks.
  4. You can politely decline. Jewish people want to feed you. But you are in control of what goes in your mouth. It’s nice if you try a little bit of things that people cook, and show some appreciation. But it’s also nice for people to respect your choices. You can politely decline whatever you don’t want to eat, and that won’t make you a heathen. If it offends people, oh well. That’s their problem – unless you make it your problem.

To me, most Passover food tastes as weird as its origin story. So I’d rather not overeat at the Passover table.

I don’t think God likes gluttony, and I don’t think it’s important to him that you overeat. I  believe that God favors those who take steps towards their own self-actualization and happiness.

Is a little overeating on a holiday OK? Sure.
Is a lot of overeating on a holiday OK? Sure.

Everything is OK, provided that you are making the choice that YOU want to make.

As for me? I’ll be “passing over” some things, and taking second second helpings of others.

Happy Feasting.

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For All the H8ers

I’d like to do a quick “real talk” piece.

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For the past 2 years, I have worked immensely hard to undo the amount of weight I managed to put on by being careless with myself and my needs. Recently, I have been able to “normalize” my life for the most part but the first year was hardly an awesome time. I gave up my social life 100%, focusing entirely on my goal. When I wasn’t working, I was working out, planning my meals for the week or getting a healthy nights sleep. I wasn’t going out to eat or for drinks with friends, because that meant taking in calories and wasting valuable workout time which would set me back or delay my progress. For a 27 year old girl, this made me a true lame-ass.

During the course of that lame time, I lost 100 lbs. While I still feel I have a long road ahead of me in terms of toning up and getting in shape, I do commend myself as the loss of general mass is now behind me. I have been committed to working out, trying new exercises and eating right to be the healthiest and fittest version of myself. (Of course, there is now the occasional evening reserved for wine and Chinese food, too.)

Now, I get it, when you look at my before and after pictures (which I will save for another day) you will think: “Wow, she is completely different!” And thats a good thing! Thanks for thinking that! I DO feel completely different: I am mentally and physically improved! Hooray! Right? Yes! BUT! (and there is always a “but-clause” to good things, isn’t there?) I can’t tell you how many people have been throwing madd shade my way in the form of implications and quite obvious accusations that I am a success story because I used some kind of crutch or have developed some kind of eating disorder. Many have asked in an accusing tone: “What did you take or do to lose that? There is NO WAY you did that all THAT FAST through just diet and exercise.”

Now here’s the weird part: I actually did!

I eat when I am hungry, I don’t when I am not. I am thoughtful in what I choose to eat. I developed a healthy relationship with food. We like each other now, and help each other out. I am diligent in being active and challenging/pushing the limits of my body constantly, and therefore, constantly impressed with how strong my body can be if I allow it the opportunity to work for me. YET, in way too many casual chit-chat situations, people have made comments that throw me back to the horrific and awkward days of middle and high school: days I praised the higher powers that be that they were over with: days when peers would make comments, some more pronounced than others, about how I was about to purge my McNuggets. And simply put, purging a ‘nug just ain’t my thing.

I thought in adult life you get past these comments and judgements, but I guess not. I find myself cautiously eating my delightful cobb salad knowing that taking too few bites could lead them to believe I’m anorexic and taking too many bites means I am bulimic and plotting my direct route to the porcelain throne.

This is distressing. We are all adults here.

I remember reading an article about an interview with a Victorias Secret model during the Victorias Secret Fashion show this year. The reporter asked the model what food she is eager to gorge on once the show is over. Insulted, the model pointed out that she doesn’t live by starving herself only to binge eat later when she no longer has to look beautiful for an audience. It was powerful, as the reporter, a beautiful woman herself, probably realized that she also feels the pressure of having to be “on” all the time in her job and how invasive questions about each persons journey to achieve and maintain health and wellness can be pretty negative and, well, judg-ey.

So listen here, folks – here is my story and I am sticking to it: I launched into obesity, just so happened to notice it and ever since have been working my ass off to ensure I never slide into bad habits again. Maybe you feel you are complimenting me when you say I am “too thin” but as a 125 lb, female at 5’6″, I am not in the danger zone and you’re just making me feel weird.

Let’s reel this all in because you are probably now all like, “What the hell is she rambling on and on about?” Here’s the short answer: These comments hurt and they’re just terribly rude. I have far from taken the “easy way out.” And, rather than honor my work, or throw some positive vibes my way, I constantly encounter people who have has just a little too much hater-ade.

Relax everyone! We are all here to support each other and lift each other up – especially us women. Come on, we are better than that!

Lastly, if you do see someone who is actually struggling with an eating disorder, what good do comments do anyway? This is a person who really needs help and support, not comments. Comments is likely what got them to where they are in the first place. Realize that body image issues are real, everyone, even the fittest most beautiful woman in all the land feels self conscious at times. We need to respect each other and ourselves in order to success and promote the success of others.

Be kind everyone,

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Three Ways to Use Reddit for Weightloss

Reddit is confusing and weird. To the uninitiated, Reddit is about as charming as an oil slick. As far as social networks are concerned, my roommate sums it up perfectly as “the cool one.”

In terms of overall troll volume, Reddit puts the collected works of Scandinavian folklore to shame. These purveyors of wanton cruelty possess not only an impressive ability to conjure the most unnecessary opinion humanly possible, but also the baffling desire to share such opinion in matters that don’t concern them.

How to Use Reddit for Good

Because Reddit will greet you with the warm embrace of a massive forest fire, it might not seem like a great place for fitness tips and motivation. But don’t be scared!

The truth is that Reddit is home to some excellent (and highly unique) forums which can serve as wonderful resources on your fitness journey. The following sub-reddits are mostly troll-free, and some have features which I haven’t found elsewhere on the internet.

  1. Progress Pics

    This sub-reddit allows you to view and post progress pictures, but it also has a really cool feature. Look to the right of the page, and you will see buttons where you can click on “Male” or “Female”

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Click the appropriate sex, and the field expands (magically) as follows: unspecified.png

You can search before and after pictures by sex and height, which means that you can easily browse through hundreds of photos of people who approximate your own stats. You can often talk to those people, read about them, and learn what they did to lose weight.

You can also post your own photos to help others. I posted my own photo a little while back, along with a short description of my journey. In response, I received dozens of kind comments, many from people with similar stats as my own thanking me for the inspiration. Some people asked me questions about what I did specifically to lose weight. All questions were summarily ignored! #kidding

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My post on progress pics.

2. Lose it

Lose it is a more general forum, where you can ask questions, post pictures, and discuss a number of fitness and weight loss related topics. You can also participate along with thousands of other people in daily, weekly and monthly challenges, which can be found on the right side of the page:

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I’m not much of a tracker, but if you do track or if you want to try it – this is a great resource. In total, over 339,000 pounds have been lost with the help of the Lose it subreddit!

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3. Veg Recipes and Paleo Recipes

Veg Recipes

Even if you eat meat, veg recipes is an excellent forum to find interesting and delicious vegetarian recipes, which are often quite simple and healthy. With a community of around 37,000 people – there are constantly new recipes to try.

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Ok, so maybe stay away from that last one.

Unlike the previous two  forums, Veg Recipes is NOT specifically for weight loss. But because I’ve found so many wonderful recipes here, it’s definitely worth checking out. Challenge yourself to make a new vegetarian recipe every week! Healthy food does not need to be bland food.

Paleo Recipes

Despite being a smaller community of less than 5,000, Paleo Recipes also has a lot to offer, ranging from breakfasts to snacks and desserts.  Here are just a few examples of what you can find there right now:

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In Sum

The above forums are just a few resources on Reddit that I use regularly and love.  There are so many more out there despite the fact that Reddit is, for the most part, a hell hole.

If you’re new to Reddit, you can avoid trolls, meanies, and negative nancies by starting out with the links above. Then, if you enjoy any particular forum, you can find links to related  sub-reddits on the right hand side of the page.

You can also use Reddit’s search feature to look for key words, but be wary – you might end up in troll territory. Or in a forum with very few users that is rarely updated.

If you have any sub-reddit you love, please do share.

..And remember, don’t feed the trolls!

**UPDATE**: Reddit Trolling has officially gotten so bad, that I just got Reddit trolled while sharing this post on Facebook.

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In any event, he’s right. Just the other day, I spent about four hours in the Reddit black hole after coming across a post about husbands who cheat on their wives. This topic has zero relevance to my life, but in any event – during that four hour period, not a single slice of pizza was consumed. Success.

Happy Redditing :]

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KEFIR!

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jw;ildjas;od;aksd;lk!!! I love Kefir.

I just bought Kefir for the first time in about a million years, and I want to slap myself in the face for every minute of my life that I wasted not drinking it.

For those unfamiliar with Kefir, it’s a fermented drink made with “kefir grains.”  Kefir is full of gut-heathy probiotics, and milk kefir tastes like sour milk in the best possible way.

Fun fact: Traditionally, kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway. The bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. #AncientEfficiency

Benefits of Milk Kefir:

Ideally, you can make your own Kefir using kefir grains or a starter kit. That, my friends, is some next level shit.  And as a next level person, I plan on trying that soon.

For now, I’ll continue to fulfill my lazy destiny by purchasing this brand (the only brand) at my local grocery store.  Check out all the Live! Active! Cultures!

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This drink has more culture than I do.

Unlike most probiotic foods that I force down my gullet (ahem ahem Kimchi), I actually enjoy Kefir because it tastes awesome and I feel good drinking it.

Drink on!

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Losing weight is hard. Maintaining it should not be.

People say that losing weight is easy, while maintaining weight loss is hard. Well, people say a lot of things. And since I’m a person, I’m going to say a thing also.

Losing weight is hard. Maintaining it should not be.  And if maintaining weight loss is hard, it probably means that you’re eating the wrong things.

Why is losing weight hard?

I can’t imagine how losing weight can be easy. I lost weight slowly over a period of two years. I had a goal in mind, and I never faltered. I’m still not 100% there, but I am closer every day.

And guess what. It was HARD as hell. It remains hard. Because in order to lose weight, no matter how you do it, you are starving in some sense. You need your body to use what it has by not giving it what it wants. And that’s hard.

Before your body starts losing weight, you need to burn through: 1) the glucose in your blood; 2) the glycogen in your muscles; and then and only then will it begin on fat reserves.

Sure, there are harder things than losing weight. And sure, there are things you can do to make it less hard. But it’s hard nonetheless, and I have no doubt that some days you will just want to give up.

Why Maintaining Weight Should Be Easy

How did you get heavy in the first place?

Chances are you ate too much crap. But that doesn’t mean it was entirely your fault. Yes, you made bad choices.  You probably either made:

  • very bad choices over a short period of time, OR
  • slightly bad choices over an extended period of time

But in any event, you were under the influence of the food industry, and also of silly FDA guidelines which don’t make much sense. You were getting unfit in an unfit world. And that’s OK.

Sure – it make sense, from the standpoint of biological fitness, for many of us to overeat when food is abundant. Who knows – you might even be genetically or culturally pre-disposed to this issue. And that sucks.

But pre-dispostion won’t keep a mindful and well-informed person fat. Because your fitness level is based more than anything on:

  • the foods you eat; AND
  • the habits you maintain.

The foods you eat are based on availability and your habits. And if you’ve been overweight, then the chances are the you probably formed some bad eating habits. And that’s OK. It’s hard to form fit habits in an unfit world.

But now that you’ve lost the weight, you’ve had the chance to build good habits! Or one would hope.

If you’ve truly build good habits – you can relax a little. All you need to do is maintain those good habits and you should maintain your loss. Of course old ways can come creeping back. So stay mindful.

But if you haven’t built good habits – you need to keep working. Not at losing weight, but at building those good habits. Because good habits are what you need to maintain your weight without suffering. Eating well needs to be your preference! And it can be.

FAQ’s

Are there factors other than good habits that might make maintenance hard? Sure. You might have sleeping issues, or hormonal issues. Or you might be largely sedentary due to a medical condition. But habits are important. You cannot stay fit without good habits.

Will your metabolism slow with age? Yes. You’ll need to make adjustments for all sorts of reasons: age, varying activity levels, etc. But now all you need to do is fill your body with good stuff, and you will stay at a healthy weight.

Take Notice

Maybe this all seems obvious, or easier said than done.

But it’s important to take notice of the power of habit. And it’s important for you to be able to look at yourself and figure out whether you’ve TRULY formed good habits – or whether, on the other hand, those habits are superficially or weakly engrained.

Because if you think maintaining your weight is hard, then it’s likely that your good habits aren’t strongly engrained in your mind.  In this case, it might be helpful for you to think about ways that you can further strengthen your habits. For more on habits, check out my post Why Emotional Eating is Actually Habitual Eating.

Until you ACTUALLY PREFER eating and living well, your weight might always be a struggle. So learning to hack that preference by delving into habit formation might just make your life awesome.

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