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Monday, August 30, 2010

The Belly Fat Cure Fast Track

I get lots of questions about The Belly Fat Cure Fast Track by Jorge Cruise. The book isn't set to come out until very end of 2010 or early 2011, but it seems like people are really curious. The program may change a bit, but here is the low down.

First, how do I know about the Fast Track? I was part of a group that Jorge's team put on the plan for 6 weeks. Initially I attended a conference where he spend a whole day explaining the research behind the plan. The group was primarily from San Diego and met weekly with Jorge and his team, in person. I'm not local, so I participated online. We were given weekly menus/information sheets and at the end several of us were asked to preview the book itself while it was a work in progress. So that is where I get my information from.

The Fast Track is basically the Belly Fat Cure diet plan without any grains. No cereal, breads, tortillas, crackers, rice or pasta. I see lots of postings that says it is No Carb, but this is false. It is No Grain. There is a heavy reliance on animal protein and green vegetables.  It is one step closer to a Paleo diet, with the implication that we are all, in some way, allergic to or unable to process grains. Paleo and Primal diets are quite popular right now, and tend to focus on very fit people (lots of athletes). I feel Jorge's presentation is aimed more at regular, overweight folks.

Differences in the original Belly Fat Cure and Fast Track? There a few:
* No counting Sugar/Carb Values, no counting anything (including calories). 15/6 is out the window!
* Very little mention of specialty products (no Ezekiel breads or trips to Whole Foods)
* You can have some Stevia and dark chocolate, but less than you were allowed on the original BFC.

Is it hard to cut out grains completely? At first, yes. Especially since I tended to get my fiber from grains. At first I did the FT for 3 weeks and I didn't love it or hate it, I just did it. I stopped when I had a lot of stress and felt the need to eat every carb in site. So I just stepped back and started the regular BFC again. After a month, I really thought about how I wanted to give it another try and some of the benefits I saw from it, and started it again.

Does it sound a lot like Atkins? Sure, but so does every other low carb diet plan. But it isn't Atkins and there are several differences. Most notably for me is the exclusive of artificial sweeteners (no sucralose, aspartame or saccharin), unlimited green vegetables (not just the 20 grams a day allowed on Atkins Induction), the inclusion of alcohol and your goal is not Ketosis.  But I will leave it to Jorge to defend against the Atkins comparisons. For some people all low carb plans will just be another take on Atkins.

What do I eat on the Fast Track? I load up my plate with lean proteins and then fill it out with green veggies. With a huge emphasis on the green vegetables. The plan encourages you to cook with "skinny fats", but I usually prefer my veggies raw at the moment. The most difficult part for me is breakfast. I don't like eggs in the morning and don't have much time, so honestly, many times coffee and cream are my breakfast while on the Fast Track. I know, shameful! The other hard part? Fiber! Benefiber and Psyllium Husks are grains, and thus not allowed (shocker!). So I get my fiber from the green vegetables and lots of them.

Morning Snack:
Celery with cream cheese and chia seeds
Cheese stick
Sliced Salami
Coffee and Cream
Tuna or chicken salad made with mayo, pickles, celery and cucumbers
Eggs with cheese and salsa, cottage cheese
Turkey rollups with cheese and sliced cucumbers or zucchini

Grilled chicken or fish
Cauliflower crust pizza
Egg based dihes - quiches, omelets

Any green vegetable - usually I have sauted spinach, zucchini (I'll post the Zucchini cake recipe soon!) or a salad
Spinach Salad loaded up with feta (pretty much any cheese), avocado, celery, broccoli and the like

Evening Snack:
Hot Tea with cream
2 squares  85% Dark Chocolate

Can I maintain grain free forever? I don't know the answer to that, only time will tell. I find over thinking my diet leads to panic, so I just think "Can I do grain free for the rest of today?" Most likely I think I will move between the two plans.

If you would like further information on the Belly Fat Cure Fast Track by Jorge Cruise, try Googling it. Sometimes you can find a menu out there and other documents that Jorge had available. I also recommend signing up for the Free Email Club, he sends out announcements there first. You can also preorder the book from Amazon HERE. But remember, the Fast Track is no "Magic Pill". If you just can't wait, Jorge recommended Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint (the cookbook looks fantastic) but it is even more hardcore (no stevia sweeteners!) or you check go to the source The Paleo Diet.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Looking back on the year...

Today is my youngest son's birthday, he turns 6. And aside from all the obvious feelings I have today (my baby is growing up!), it was exactly one year ago today that I realized that I had become OBESE. Not just overweight, but obese.

It all started when I had the cake made and decorated, the food all ready for the BBQ. I went to get dressed and my shorts, size 14 didn't fit. I hadn't worn shorts all summer and I thought, maybe they accidentily were washed in hot water. So I pulled out the other pair of size 14 shorts and they were to tight too. I was confused, because there is no way both could have shrunk (yes, I really thought that was what happened!) and mad because I had nothing else nice for the party that you could wear around the pool. So I kept on the lesser offensive of the tight shorts and picked a blousy top that I hoped would just cover it all up. But the top just clung to the muffin top the shorts had created. I remember being hot and sweaty, and mad. Really mad.

The next morning, I was still mad and I weighed for the first time in a long time. My weight was 196, more than I had ever weighed (except pregnant, I got into the 200s). 184 was my "usual" weight when it was high, so this was something really new.

I remember that day, how I felt. It took me two months to find a plan that I thought sounded right. But before that, I felt desperate and sad. I remember thinking I needed to make a conscience decision, do I do something about this or do I just let go? Do I stop this train and turn it around, or do I just keep on down this track? I remember thinking, I want to change, I want to lose weight, but I just don't know how. My eating habits aren't THAT bad, after all!

I knew I had a problem with sugar and uncontrollable cravings that had nothing to do with being full or hungry. I knew I could eat a bottomless amount of carbs (=chips) and still not feel satisfied. I knew I got cranky between meals and skipped them all the time. Only to overeat when I did finally sit down and eat. I barely recognized my face in the mirror anymore, it was so puffy now. I knew I didn't want to do Weight Watchers or Atkins again. I started looking for a diabetics or low glycemic diet plan. I took my time finding a plan that really addressed sugar cravings. I also made an appointment with my Doctor, went in and said "Hey, I'm fat and I want to fix it. Please help me."

So along with celebrating my baby growing up (he just started 1st grade!), I can also celebrate a little more. I have learned so much in the last year. So much about food, sugar, hunger, cravings and most importantly about myself.  I am so thankful today to have found Jorge Cruise and his Belly Fat Cure. So thankful I decided to fight for my health and my body, instead of just giving up. It would have been so easy, after all....

ps. This year I'm wearing a bathing suit to my son's birthday party... and all my shorts fit!

What was your turning a point? Was there an event that made you want to change, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recipe: Greek Frappe

While the East Coast has had a heat wave, we have had a perfectly mild summer in Northern California. I little too mild, actually. Until now. Now it is hot, hot, hot! Too hot for tea even! So I decided to try an old drink I haven't had in ages.

My husband and I got engaged in the Greek islands and I learned to like lots of different foods there. One of my favorites was the Frappe. It is a really simple and refreshing drink, you probably have the ingredients in your cabinets right now. That is me circa 1995, pre-weight gain. I'm pretty sure I didn't have a care in the world when this photo was taken. (The Husband looks like a teenager!)

Instant Coffee 2 tsp (I used Foldgers instant decaf)
Stevia Sweeteners - to taste (I use 1 packet of Sun Crystals)
Cold Water
Shaker Cup
Cream (optional)

Your favorite sweetener, coffee, two fingers of water (just a little in the bottom of the cup). Use a shaker (martini shaker, cup with a cover) and shake until it gets all frothy. Pour into a glass filled with almost with ice. Top off with the cold water and a little cream. Officially, you are supposed to drink it with a straw and mix and swirl as you drink!

If it tastes bitter, try adding more water/cream before adding more sweetener. Depending on how well yours frothed up, the coffee can get pretty concentrated.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sugar Substitutes Allowed on the Belly Fat Cure

On the Belly Fat Cure and other low Sugar diet plans, getting your sugar grams as low as possible is very important. It is also important to eliminate artificial sweeteners in your diet. So you are left with only a few options, mostly Stevia and sugar alcohols. While I had used sugar alcolhols on Atkins years ago, I had never heard of Stevia. In the beginning I used Stevia sweeteners in lots of things, as I was getting rid of the taste of sugar. Now, though, I really only use it in my hot teas or in some iced teas when I am out. I carry a little "sweetener bag" inside my purse and always have them handy!

There are numerous brands, but here is a run down of the Stevia sweeteners I have tried and liked.

Truvia Natural Sweetener, 300-Count PackageTruvia - Truvia is the big player in the Stevia sweeteners and is the brand Jorge mentions in the book. Because of this, I avoided it (I don't like brands pushed on me) until CarbSmart sent me a box to review. Truvia has 3 grams carbs/0 grams sugar per packet. The carbs come from the added Erythritol, a sugar alcohol. This means using more than 1 packet in a sitting on the BFC, would use up a Carb Serving, so keep that in mind. Despite having slightly more Carbs, I didn't find it tasting any sweeter than the other brands. Truvia is widely available in most stores in the regular sugar/sweetener section.
SweetLeaf All Natural Zero Calories SteviaPlus, 100 Packets, 3.5 Ounce Boxes (Pack of 2)

Sweetleaf - Honestly I only tried Sweetleaf because they had a free trial on their website and they ended up sending me a big box. (Everyone got the big box, not just me). I think is is a great choice but I did find that it tasted bitter sometimes in hot drinks. It is straight Stevia, so I think this is a common thing people notice in those product. But the great thing is that Sweetleaf is 0 grams sugar/0 grams carbs! SweetLeaf also has a line called Liquid Stevia with flavors like Lemon, English Toffee and Root Bear which are great! (they have varying S/C Values or are all allowed on the plan)

Sun Crystals All-Natural Sweetener, 100-Count Packets (Pack of 4)Sun Crystals - Sun Crystals is the Stevia sweetener that I buy most frequently. It is available at my local chain grocery and it the least expensive of the options there. Instead of being sweetened with xylitol, like many of the others, it has a little bit of added sugar. It has 1 gram sugar/1 gram carbs for an S/C Value of 1/0 for one packet. This is my favorite of the sweeteners and my sister always says "But it has sugar!" which it does. But just 1 gram which is allowed and has certainly not interfered with my weight loss.

Xlear - Xylosweet 5lb, 5 lb, 1 bagXylo Sweet - Is not made from Stevia, but is Xyltiol, a sugar alcohol made from Birch trees. There are many Xylitol sweeteners, but this is the one I have tried and liked. Xylitol is said to be good for your teeth and is making lots of news lately. Xylo Sweet has 0 grams sugar/4 grams carbs per packet (or teaspoon). It is made by XClear, which also makes Spry Gum and several other Xylitol sweetened products (like toothpastes and SparX mints) .

Stevia - You can also get straight Stevia powder. I got this in the beginning and if you like it, it is the best option. Each brand has a different S/C Value so check the packaging. I have seen the carb be as low as 0grams and as high as 3grams. I also found a Stevia plant at the Farmers Market and can't wait for my first havest!

I would love to hear which of the sweeteners you have tried and liked, loved or just plain were disgusted by! If you would like to research more on Stevia, click here.

Disclaimer: Truvia was provided to me free of charge by CarbSmart, for the purpose of review. This in no way affected my opinions of this product or my review. The other sweeteners I purchased myself.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Woman's World Magazine and The Belly Fat Cure

Today the Woman's World magazine that has my interview in it is on newsstands! It is the August 30th Issue and will only be on news stands for 1 week. Page 18-19 has an article all about Jorge  Cruise's Belly Fat Cure and I am featured in it. Pretty cool right?

The photos and interview were done at the end of June and I have lost 4 more pounds since then for a total of 53 lbs so far. I blogged about the photo shoot that day. I felt so bloated and puffy, it wasn't a good day for some reason! The photographer took photos of me for hours and they only used one. I changed clothes so many times my bra was soaking from running up and down the stairs. (Can you believe I paid $50 to have my hair "blown out" that day? flat as a pancake, I was totally scammed!)

The article has several good recipes, ideas for meals and snacks and an interview with Jorge. It also has a few tips from me! They asked me like 100 questions and just used a few responses. I was really curious to see what they would use. I can stop being nervous about it now!

If you would like to use my "Food Log" it is the S/C Tracker you can download here. For more information on Chocolate Teas look here.

Don't forget to leave a comment HERE to enter the iTunes gift card giveaway this week!

(ps. The article suggests Fiber One Cereal for the BFC, but it doesn't fit the plan. They are all too high in sugar or have artificial sweeteners. But I thought the rest of the food options looked great!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Do You Reward Yourself? Plus a Little Reward From Me

Do you reward yourself for reaching weight loss goals? I am pretty sure I rewarded myself with food, bad food, in the past. I remember friends saying "You deserve to have dessert tonight" and now I think, "No, I actually deserve much better than that".

I set lots of milestones for myself on this diet and a few times I setup a reward for myself when I got there. They helped motivate me to get there and helped me celebrate a little bit when I did. Here are some ideas to get you motivated!

Music - For my 1st twenty pounds lost I rewarded myself with an entire Mp3 album from Amazon (I prefer buying my music there instead of iTunes mostly). The new music really amp'd up my workout for a few months and it felt like a splurge to get the whole album, instead of a new song here and there. (It was John Mayer's Battle Studies, perfect for running on the rainy spring trails). I am ready for all new music again! Read to the bottom to see how to win your own iTunes gift card!

Perfume - For some reason as the weight started coming off I wanted to feel prettier and, ummm, smell better. I can't explain it really! Maybe I hadn't felt pretty or like I wanted to even be smelled in a long time. but I got a bottle of nice perfume that I spray on almost every day now!

Clothing - I know a lot of people like to buy a piece of clothing that doesn't fit and make it a goal to fit in. But I had a closet full of things that I never made it in to, so that idea doesn't appeal to me. I waited until most all of my clothing was completely falling off and then had to buy a new wardrobe! It wasn't as fun as you would think, because I needed everything: underwear, bras, shorts, pants, jeans, shirts, a dress and a bathing and I'll even have to get a new winter coat soon! Exhausting, but at least I didn't cry in the dressing room like I've done in the past.

A Night Out - A sitter for the kids and an adult night out is a real reward. At first this was more difficult, resisting all the food and drink choices, but my Husband is really helpful and we go to places that make it easy on me. He used to ALWAYS get the giant bucket of popcorn at the movies and I'd graze off it, but he forgoes it a lot now (and I'm secretly disappointed).

Trip - I love the idea of a reward trip, something that requires bathing suits. I've never done a Girls Weekend and thought maybe I could plan one with my Sisters and Mother as we are all losing weight. Gives you all a goal to work towards.

How do you reward yourself for reaching milestones? Do they help motivate you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of this idea to win a $10 iTunes gift card! I hope you will use it to download new music to jump start workout!

Entry Rules: One entry per person. Leave me enough info to contact you with. Entries will close Tuesday day 8/24 at 8pm Pacific.
*Winner* - Michelle Bader Comment #20 is the winner, according to random.org! Send me an EMAIL ME and I'll send back the iTunes gift card. Congrats! And thanks to everyone for sharing your ideas. I am celebrating with a pedicure this weekend!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Product Review: Metromint water

It is pretty rare to find products that are truly 0 grams Sugar and Carbs, so when I find one that is good, I get a little excited! Metromints are a new line of flavored waters that are just that. They come in six varieties: Peppermint, Orangemint, Spearmint, Lemonmint, Cherrymint and Chocolatemint. The flavor is very light, and not sweet at all, with a little chill to it. It contains no Stevia, Sugar or artificial sweeteners. The ingredients look something like this, Ingredients: purified water, mint, essence of cocoa. I would agree with their company motto, Pure. Simple.

I had already tried the Spearmint and Peppermint, when Me & Jorge reader Patty sent me a note on Facebook to tell me about the Chocolatemint. That kind of set it apart from the other flavored waters for me! I found that my local Wholefoods carries all the flavors, but BevMo, King Soopers and even Food Pyramid carry it. Check the Metromint locator for your location, and of course Amazon has it too.

If you are just off sugar or still having artificial sweeteners, you probably will find this very boring. And of course I could just pick off some leaves from my mint plant and put them in a pitcher of water, but I can't get it to taste like chocolate or cherries! I paid $1.75 each at Wholefoods.

NOTE: I have not tried the Cherry, bit I consistently get reader feedback that it is not good!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Exercise - Power Walking and Running on the Belly Fat Cure

I would love, one day, to refer to myself as "a runner". I'm not there yet, I feel like there is some badge I haven't earned. But over the course of losing my 53 lbs I have learned to love running and power walking.

For about 3 years I've done a 3 mile power walk, with a little running (on the downhill parts). It killed me, and I never was able to improve on it. Until I started losing weight on the Belly Fat Cure. Now I do an 8 mile run, where I walk the uphill parts and run the rest. When I am doing good, I do it twice a week. It took me several months to build up to doing that much comfortably. But afterwards I feel like I've had a full body workout. I feel strong and tired. And proud of my body.

If you want to get started Power Walking or Running, here is what I recommend:
* Start Slow - If you push yourself too far too fast, you will possibly hurt yourself and most likely quit before you start to do any good and enjoy it. Maybe start off with a 30 minute brisk power walk and work up from there.

* Form - You look a little like a fool Power Walking, but soon you will a Skinny Fool, so who cares. The most important part is the swing of the arms. I try to touch the brim of my hat with my fingertips each time. It works my back muscles, along with the arms and legs. I also feel a little twist action in the torso too. I also use the first half mile to warm up and take it slow.

* A good pair of running shoes - Not some casual pair that is cute, but real running shoes. They are going to cost you $60 and up, but they are a good investment. I don't like to spend money on anything, but you will pay later by skimping here. My trail is in the woods and has loose dirt and rocks so I got trail runners, thinking they would have a better grip. I also bought insoles to help get the fit just right.

* MP3 Player/Earplugs/Case - I use my Android phone for this, your iPhone will do too if you have one. No need to purchase a shuffle or smaller player. I strap mine on my arm and go. I've been asked if it bothers me to carry a "big phone" around will I run and it doesn't. I have a case that I switch which arm I carry it on each time. It is really convienent to have my phone with me anyways. It serves as an MP3 player, GPS tracker, camera to take a photo of the weird things I encounter on the trail, and a phone. The Nike Plus system is also good for this, if you have it.

* Good Music - Whatever inspires you to move! I find my music can make all the difference in a tough stretch. I've tried using Podcasts and Audiobooks during runs, but it doesn't do it for me. I'm not able to concentrate the way I need to to listen. But maybe you will love that if you are walking instead. iTunes and Amazon are a great place to get your mp3s.

* Jog Bra - These are cheap and easy to find, but you need one. I beg you, learn from my mistakes and don't just wear a normal bra. Get the right size or a size smaller then you think you need. Too big a jog bra defeats the whole purpose, and you'll bounce right out the bottom. No comment on whether that has happened to me :)

* Clothing that doesn't rub or irritate - This includes a thick pair of socks that will give you a little cushion, running shorts or pants and a t-shirt or exercise top. This seems obvious to most people, but when you are overweight sometimes we just don't have this type of clothing. You just don't want it to rub your arms or legs and create a rash, and is weather appropriate. I get my running shorts and shirts at Target and have been happy with them.

Don't bother with carrying weights, that just seems ridiculous to me. Once you are a pro you can add stuff if you still want to. But making the whole process more difficult before you really get started will just only make it less enjoyable. Your goal should be consistency, just getting out and walking or running regularly. To push yourself and get a good workout, but not kill yourself in the process.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

My Husband is an excellent pizza maker and Saturday night is pizza night in our house. When I first started the BFC he made me a version that I could have 2 extremely thin pieces. But then I started having a stomach ache and realized that it was actually still too many carbs for one meal. While doing regular BFC I usually had a Tortilla or Pita Pizza. But once I started the Fast Track (a modified version of the Belly Fat Cure) we started making pizza with a cauliflower crust.

I have this once a week, the Husband even has it himself now and only the kids are left eating his fabulous. I even made if for my Mom and Sister recently, both on versions of the BFC. (They liked it, but I don't think they LOVED it).

I started with this recipe from the Examiner and modified it slightly. You can put whatever your favorite toppings are on it, preferably loading it up with proteins!

Step 1: Rice/shred fresh or frozen cauliflower. I use a cheese grater and the consistency is much better then just finely chopping it.

Step 2: Mix together the following ingredients:
2 Cups shredded cauliflower
1/2 Cup Mozzarella
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
1 Egg
garlic powder to taste

Step 3: Press the crust onto a greased pizza pan or cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 450. Bake the crust, without any toppings, until it is crispy and golden. This is the most important part of the process. (You can play with the cauliflower/egg/cheese ratios if this consistency isn't to your liking)

Step 4: Add your toppings, making sure to use a low sugar sauce, and then bake until they have melted. Probably about 10 minutes. Slice up and serve.

I really am a true pizza lover, I can't have just one piece, so this is a big change for me. Depending on where you are with your love of bread I think you will enjoy this healthy low carb/sugar alternative!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hint Water on the Belly Fat Cure

Giving up Diet Soda was both the hardest and most important part of being successful on the Belly Fat Cure for me. So I am constantly in search of a bottled drink that is low in sugar and carbs and is free of artificial sweeteners. I found Hint Essence Water to be a wonderful alternative to Soda!

Currently they have 10 different flavors: Blackberry, Watermelon, Pear, Strawberry-Kiwi, Cucumber, Honeydew-Hibiscus, Raspberry-Line, Mango-Grapefruit, Line, Pomegranate-Tangerine. The company motto "Drink water, not sugar" says it all. The drinks are all natural, with no sweetening of any kind added. Hint drinks are not carbonated, but are simply flavored waters.

It also gives me the idea to use fresh mint, cucumbers and fruits to flavor water at home. Maybe with a leaf from my Stevia plant too! That would be a nice break from iced tea. But it is so great to have options at the store, and hopefully one day at the theater, to soda.

I recently saw them at an airport Starbucks, Wholefoods and a fancy little grocery in Napa. Of course Amazon.com carries them too and they have a store locator on their site. They have an S/C Value of 0/0.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

July Challenge Wrap Up

The July Challenge was a way to give myself no excuses, for exactly one month, and see what happened. I choose to do Jorge's new program called the Fast Track, which is basically a stricter version of the Belly Fat Cure with no grains. I find that people are always looking for a "starting point" for a diet and I was thrilled so many of you joined me in! Dieters, like misery, love company!

I spent the last half of July in Oklahoma and the Ozarks with family, where the temps were, no kidding, 30 degrees hotter then California. I ate most of my meals at restaurants, big family gatherings, a family member's house or from BBQ grill in front of my Dad's RV. I had not been back in two years and it was so good to spend time with my siblings and their families. This is my Sister Mish and I at Target, where I was introducing her daughter to the wonders of their Women's clothing department.

I lost 5 lbs of the total 6 I wanted to lose during July. I lost it all before I went on vacation and gained by .5 on the trip. (Airport food the last day to blame for that: delayed flights, nearly missed flights and traveling with two little boys alone = STRESS) I took my running clothes/shoes but never used them. Initially the heat scared me (106 on the last day I was in Tulsa) and then I got a head cold. But I am very happy with the results. I learned that I can do no grains, even in sticky situations. I learned that without lots of green veggies I get constipated on no grains.

Most exciting was that my Dad and Step-Mother started the BFC too and had immediate weight loss to report. My Dad is retiring this year and is seriously the hardest working person I have ever met (He's like a Ryan Secrest of the grandparent set). He is totally addicted to sugar (ice cream, fruit, nachos) and carries it all right in his belly. He said  he would have tried the plan sooner, but all my talk of giving up artificial sweeteners turned him off. I think that is true with a lot of people. But this is proof you can teach an old Dad new tricks.

How did you do? Give us a quick update of any losses or realizations you had July Challenge!