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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Somebody Bring Me Some Water

Brita 42629 Slim PitcherThe most daunting part of the Belly Fat Cure for me was giving up my beloved Coke Zero. I was like the Charlton Heston of diet sodas "You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands". Well, that may have been exactly how it went down! But thankfully, I saw the light and listened to Jorge's message about artificial sweeteners. I really think this is The Key to his plan (other than giving up sugar) and I don't think he talks about it nearly enough. Maybe he doesn't know how the overweight community relies on artificial sweeteners, I don't know. But I went cold turkey on Coke Zero and I am so glad I did!

Water was crucial in giving up diet sodas. At first, water didn't taste so good. It was just bland, maybe bitter, but just not good. My Mom was dieting at the same time and was really struggling "just to get it down". Turns out us sugar addicts really don't like water! I pulled out an old Brita pitcher I had, put in a new filter, and it has been a life saver!

I keep my Brita on the counter, and if I'm going to be in another room for several hours, I take the Brita with me. I don't keep it in the refrigerator for two reasons:
  1. Out of site, out of mind
  2. It made the water too cold, and me too cold when I drank it
In the beginning I added lots of things to my water to make it taste better:  squeezed lemon, sliced cucumber even cinnamon. I still make iced tea, but not daily like before. The good news is that eventually, I didn't need that. I like water now and find it much easier to "just get it down". As I have moved my kids away from so much milk and orange juice, they have learned to like and ask for more water too.

Jorge Cruise also talked to us in class about chlorine in our water and how that affects our body and digestive track. He actually recommended we use bottled water, shocking to me since my family had just sworn them off completely. A little research backed up his chlorine concerns, but suggested that just leaving water out in an uncovered container for 24 hours removes most the chlorine. (Read here for more on that) Strangely, the book doesn't mention this and I have never heard him mention it since, but it was a big deal during our class and changed how I looked at my tap water.

Like everything else in the world, Amazon carries Brita, but so does Walmart and Target. They come in cool colors and shapes and are typically less then $10. I really recommend picking one up and seeing how times a day you can drain it!  I also LOVE these Contigo water bottles. I carry them in the car and in a bag for day trips. Costco sometimes has these and with an occasional rebate. They DO NOT SPILL (as a Mom I've used lots of water bottles and these are the Rock Stars of water bottles) and they come in pretty colors too! Both Brita and Contigo products are BPA-Free which is really important to me.

Are you drinking enough water? Do you have a trick to getting enough or something interesting you add to it?


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Low Sugar Spicy Cocoa Roasted Pecans

I've been looking for nut roasting ideas and followed a link that Krystal left in my comments section recently. It led me to a recipe at My Kitchen Addiction and I immediately started roasting a low sugar concoction based on what I found there!

First I made the Spicy Cocoa Roasted nuts, using Pecans. I have a nut allergy, which limits which nuts I can have. You might want to also try this with Almonds. I was completely shocked at how much sugar the original recipe called for and was worried it wouldn't be good in as a low sugar snack. But it turned out really well and it was a the official snack in the house for days!

  • 3 Cups Raw, unsalted Pecans or Almonds (Trader Joe's or Costco is a good low cost place to find these)
  • 1 Egg White
  • A few drops of water
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 3 packets (tsp) Stevia Sweetener (I used Sun Crystals)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Whisk the egg white, water and vanilla until frothy, add nuts and toss until nuts are covered. Combine all other ingredients and then add to the nuts. Toss until evenly covered. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Cook at 275 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to keep the nuts from burning.

My kitchen smelled SO good and right out of the oven they tasted great. But after cooling off they tasted even better! Depending on where you are in your low sugar journey, you may want more sweetener. Mine were pretty low on the sweet scale, but still delicious. I think these will make a great hostess gift and to serve when I have people over. It was really decadent! I've invested in some raw cocoa, called Cacoa, and will use it next time.

I loved that I had all the ingredients in my pantry! There are a few more recipes I want to try, but involve cardamon and instant espresso which I don't have on-hand.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

When Was the Last Time You Saw Your Doctor?

I recently completed my first Half Marathon. I was so excited and really prepared and trained hard. As I crossed the finish line, though, I was met with the site of a man receiving vigorous chest compressions. It was happening right there in front of me, just as I was about to whoop out with joy. And sadly, he died. Right there. Literally, on the finish line of a 13.1 mile race. On a beautiful day.

So I wanted to ask my readers, when was the last time your saw your doctor? Had a check up, blood work or your annual exam?  Had your regular PAP or Mammogram? Or simply talked to your Doctor about your weight. Or your blood pressure. Or that weird spot on your back.

I have never mentioned this on my blog, because it is very personal, but a few years ago I had heart surgery to correct an arrhythmia. I am 100% fine now. But it makes me very conscience of my mortality, and that of those around me. I don't know the situation of that man, except what I googled about him later (36 year old Father, with a new baby on the way...). I assume he was out there, just like me, to get fit and healthy.  He was someone's son, brother, husband, partner and father.

So make sure you are healthy, and can handle all these new things are you doing with you body on this weigh loss journey. I'm calling this week to schedule my overdue annual. What about you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Product Review: Activate Drinks

Activate Workout Variety, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)Activate Drinks are a really unique no sugar drink, made with Stevia. They are basically a water bottle, until you turn the cap. The action releases different powders into the water which you shake to mix.

My favorite so far is the Exoctic Berry - Antioxidant. They are only very lightly sweetened, which is prefect for me right now. But it may not be sweet enough if you are just now giving up sodas and artificial sweeteners. Maybe save it for when you have really lost the taste for sugar. I would LOVE to see Activate tablets, that we could add to any bottle of water. That would be such a great Crystal Light replacement, wouldn't it?

Activate drinks have an awesome S/C Value of 0/0 (0 grams Sugar, 1 gram Carbohydate) and are a perfect soda replacement on Jorge Cruise's Belly Fat Cure. I love that they don't have any sugar alcohols either. They are a little pricey, at over $2 some places. But as an added bonus Activate uses BPA-Free bottles. They come in several flavors including: Vitamin, Immunity, Energy and Antioxidant and several Workout flavors (Grape, Passion Fruit, Lime and Grapefruit). I found Activate at my neighborhood grocery store. To find them locally click HERE.

Have you tried Activate?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bacon Cups

Isn't this a brilliant idea for a low carb dieter? Bacon Cups! I imagine them filled with all sorts of things, but mostly eggs.  My son saw this photo and said out of guttural instinct "Baaaaaaacon". What would you put in your Bacon Cup?

I found these over at NotMartha's blog, where she has all the details on "how to".

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Belly Fat Cure Brunch

My New Years Resolution this year is to develop better freindships, which is hard to do as an adult when you move. So I invited over several friends to watch the Rachael Ray Show with me last week. (Otherwise it would have just been me, in my robe, with my morning coffee. And that is just sad, right?) I decided to make a low-sugar Belly Fat Cure approved Brunch for them all. They don't need to lose a pound between them all, but they are very conscience about their children's diets.

Here is what I made:
Tiny Crustless Quiches - These are really simple and SO good. I modified a recipe from Jorge Cruise's upcoming Fast Track book. Mine were basically ham lined mini muffin tins, egg, cream, finely chopped leek and asparagus, pepper and a little bit of Mozzarella cheese. I'm going to make a bunch of these and freeze them. SO GOOD!

Kale Chips - Surprisingly, lots of the women loved these! I've wanted to make these since I first started the BFC. The oven was warm from all my baking last night and I had Kale in the fridge, so I finally did it. Kale is so good for you I am thrilled to find a fun way to eat it. It is also a great source of Calcium. You can google it and find a dozen different ways to make them. Here is how I did it:

Wash Kale, and removed stems. Completely dry and cut/tear into smaller pieces. Toss with 1Tbsp Olive Oil and I added 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice and sea salt. Place on a large cookie sheet that is parchment paper lined. Cook for 15 minutes at 375, until crunchy.

Yogurt, Berries & Cereal - I had a big bowl of Blueberries, Blackberries and Raspberries with a low sugar yogurt next too it. I also had a few different types of low-sugar cereals in glass bowls with a scoop. I was thinking they could mix up a bowl with a little yogurt, fruit and cereal. The fruit was a hit, but the other stuff was a little clumsy.

Little Nuts & Chocolate - I put a mixture of nuts into mini-muffin liners, then broke pieces of Dark Chocolate into it. I used every kind of nut we had in the house (pistachios, cashew, pecan, walnut, etc) and a few different types of chocolate that I had on hand.

Cheese Tray - Who doesn't love a little cheese!

Hummus & Pita Chips - I used Trader Joe's Hummus, but it is easy to make too. The chips are a little higher in carbs, but totally allowed in moderation. Shop around for the ones with the best S/C Value.

Whole Wheat English Muffins & Nature's Hallow Preserves - This was a big hit. I have the Strawberry and Mountain Berry preserves and they are wonderful.

Smoked Salmon Plate - I placed it on a plate and used an icing tube to make the cream cheese look pretty. I sprinkled chives over the top.

BFC Mimosa - I served the regular Mimosas too, but a few friends humored me and tried this. I served the Champagne with Vitamin Water Zero Rise, which is kind of like Orange Juice. But I really don't think it was very good, and with just rather have my champagne straight up (so glad it is allowed on the plan!).

Coffee, lots of coffee and cream! Only one person asked for sugar and I have her a Sun Crystal packet ;-)

It's probably the last time any of them will come to my house to eat! But it gives you a little idea of low sugar items you could serve at your own get together.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Did It! My First Half Marathon

I can't believe I actually did this! This weekend I ran the Kaiser Permanente San Fransisco Half Marathon. I actually RAN it! Never did I imagine I could do something like this. I did train specifically for a Half Marathon, and that made all the difference. Without that I would have really suffered and probably walked a lot. But as it was, I ran everything except the water stations. I walked through the water stations, which were every 3+ miles. Drank a cup and dumped one down the back of my shirt, then started running again. I felt really good the whole run, although part of it was really monotonous. There was something so amazing about running with a big pack of people all with the same goal and pace.

I have learned with my weight loss I can actually trust my body and what it is telling me. I added back more carbs in the days leading up to the race, after researching long distance running. I had a bad training week the week before and was a little (a lot!) nervous about race day. In the moment I felt great, although I had very short periods of mild discomfort. Today I am sore, especially my thighs and one heel feels bruised. Ibuprofen is my friend today! I finished at 2:20, which I'm happy with. I stayed within a 10 minute mile pace, which was my goal. 

These are my BEFORE and AFTER photos. My kids explored Golden Gate Park on their scooters during the race with the Hubby and caught up with me at a few spots. That was so great and really motivated me! A couple of kisses from them was better than a cold cup of water!

(Diet Note: My weight is up today. Totally disproves the calories in/calories out theory! Im not worried, I wanted to fuel up my muscles and think I did the right thing. I am sure my body is retaining water and healing right now)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Half Marathon Day

Sunday is my big day, it's the Kaiser Permanente San Fransisco Half Marathon! This will be my first Half Marathon and I am really excited. It is supposed to be one of the most scenic runs in America. It starts in SF Golden Gate Park and then works its way down The Great Highway to the SF Zoo and back up. So it is right on the coast!

I have been walking and attempting to run for years, but really set out do it regularly when I started the Belly Fat Cure 14 months ago. My walks turned more and more into runs (first only the downhills sections, then parts of the flat, then all the flat, then finally the hills. Argh, the hills). I didn't add distance, I just added more running, instead of hiking, to what I already did. I was a very sedentary person before, never been a gym rat or enjoyed cardio.

I am not really sure about my motivation for completing a Half Marathon. I know I'm NOT doing it to lose weight or get in shape. I can do both of those things with the BFC and a lot less running. I think one day I just realized I COULD DO THIS. I am not a competitive person, but lately I like the idea of challenging myself and seeing what my body can do. After a good run, I can feel that my body really did something (true exhaustion from exertion), and feel proud. I followed Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training schedule for Intermediates, pretty much to the T for the last 10 weeks. I went out and put my miles in, whether I felt like it or not. I wanted to do the work and really training, instead of just going out and killing myself on race day.

Here's my gear... turns out running long distance is as much about the gear as it is your ability!
  • I run with my Nexus One Android Phone for music and mileage tracking. It lets me know my pace every half mile and brilliantly keeps track of all my training miles. (I recommend CardioTrainer, its free)
  • I strap it to my arm with a Belkin armband
  • I purchased a new pair of Brooks Glycerin 8s when I decided on this and realized I should have gotten new running shoes a year before. Man, they made a HUGE difference in my knees and hips. And they're pretty.
  • My LuluLemon jogbra has been a lifesaver, but on my last two long training runs it rubbed my skin until I bled through my shirt. Not good at all, I think I need a smaller cup size now is the problem. But I don't want anything new on race day. 
  • I use a hat for sun protection and to keep my gaze strictly on the road, otherwise I get freaked out by hills and how far I have to go. (Eyes on the road Amber, eyes on the road)
  • Weather is supposed to be 65, I will wear a sleeveless top and long tights or shorts (all from Target and well worn). 
  • I bought these special long distance running socks that don't wrinkle or rub, and I LOVE them. They have cushions on all the right places too.
  • Music - This is the key for me! A great song changes EVERYTHING in the moment. I've been loading up on new music all week. 
I am a real sweater, so my clothing is completely soaked through on long runs (completely, even my hat is soaked). My internal heater is hot, even though my skin is cold to the touch. So I have to be careful if I'm wet from sweat and then a cold wind hits. The Hubby and kids are coming up to cheer me on, so I'll have them hold a few clothing options and a banana in case I need some sugar midway. I have a goal in mind to finish in 2:10, which means I have to maintain a 10 minute pace per mile. Wish me luck!

Do you have a big goal in mind? Has losing weight made you realize you can do things you never dreamed before? I'd love to hear it!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Questions About Rachael Ray Appearance

I got several questions about Monday's Rachael Ray Show. The whole process of appearing on the show was so surreal, I'm still recovering from it. There were so many inspiring stories on the show, and mine is really just a side note. I feel humbled to be included at all. I invited over a bunch of girls friends, made a low-sugar brunch (which I'll post about later) and sat down to watch it.

Here's the 411 on my experience:
Q: How did you get picked to appear on the show?
A: The process worked something like this, although I don't know all the details: Jorge Cruise's staff gave the show profiles of several dieters (I had signed a release form last year that allowed them to do that). Producers then interviewed me over the phone, just for background information on the segment. I was interviewed a 2nd time by a higher level producer, who basically asked me the same questions. I was in the checkout line at Costco during that call! At the end she said "We may ask you to join us on the show" but there were no promises or details. I got a call a few days later saying they had picked me, which I totally did not expect.

Q: Rachael mentioned that people who participated had makeovers and clothing, did you get that?
A: No, I did not. I wore my own clothing and did not have a makeover. That was for the amazing guests who had lost hundreds of pounds. Their stories were SO fantastic! The wonderful makeup artist for the show did my hair and makeup on the set. I was amazed with how he made me look. He worked wonders with my hair and eyes. Cuz that is not how I normally look!

Q:  Did your blog have anything to do with getting on the show?
A: Yes, I think it did. Jorge and his staff are familiar with the blog and the producers had seen it too. They specifically asked to use the timeline photo on the show. It helped that I was very well informed on the diet and felt very comfortable talking about the plan. The Belly Fat Cure is really a huge part of my life, I eat, talk and write it.

Q: Are you and Jorge Cruise friends?
A: I have met Jorge on a few different occasions, usually just long enough to snap a photo or make a quick video. We did not hang out in NYC together, even though I invited him to join me for a drink.

Q: Did you get to meet and talk to Rachael?
A: No, not past the interaction you saw on TV :(

Q: Where you nervous?
A: My sister says I had on my "about to cry face" and I kind of agree! In that moment I was not nervous, but building up to it I really was. I typically have a lot to say, but it takes me a moment. I like to think about it for a second and didn't have the luxury of that on TV. So I was really concentrating. They cut out some of the conversation and a part where I said I never dreamed I could run a half marathon. I also talked about how in my timeline photo you can see my demeanor change into a happier person.

Q: If you are training for a Half Marathon, isn't that how you lost the weight?
A: No, I got to my goal weight about 7 months ago and just started training for the Half about 2 months ago. I am only able to do this BECAUSE I lost the weight. I am 100% sure of that! I think it has also helped tighten my body and I might have had more lose skin without that consistent cardio.