Traveling through life with a timer and sneakers

Food

HMR Diet Hack: Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate

Let’s start with a confession. Outside of making lattes with my HMR Program shakes, I have had very few hot shakes. I would occasionally try a hot chocolate, but that was about it. However, as I have made it a goal to focus on losing my marathon weight gain, this means incorporating more shakes and entrees to off-set outside foods and one of the ways I was successful in Phase One, was playing with my HMR food to try new things, often trying to hack a food I might have eaten pre-HMR, in order to keep it interesting (while still staying safely “in the box”). So I am trying out a variety of hot shakes in an attempt to stay warm and full this winter.

During the holiday season, I had a chance to try a kid size Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate at Starbucks. It was super sweet and a fun treat, but the calories were insane! Even for the tiny thimble they call kid size. Well I loved the flavors so much, I asked if it could possibly be turned into a latte to amp up the volume. But I was told it was just made with milk, white chocolate syrup, and cinnamon dolce syrup, and that it wouldn’t translate well into a latte.

However this week I decided it would translate very well into an HMR shake! And while I haven’t had a Starbucks version to compare it to (nor do I plan on it) — this is a sweet and filling beverage that only has the calories from the shake. It’s in the box for both Decision Free and Healthy Solution folks while being the perfect cold weather pre-portioned meal for Phase Two folks too!

HMR Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate

  • 1 HMR Vanilla Shake (I used the 120)
  • 1 tbsp Torani Sugar-free White Chocolate syrup
  • 1 tbsp Torani Sugar-free Belgian Cookie syrup
  • 10 oz. hot water

Mix hot water and syrup together. Slowly whisk shake powder into the liquid. I use an Aerolatte travel milk frother (it’s inexpensive, comes in a travel case, and prevents clumping!). Enjoy! You could even shake a little cinnamon on top for a pretty garnish.


Spiced Chocolate Cake Pudding (An HMR Diet Decision Free Recipe)

Holidays are full of food-filled memories. The association of flavors and smells with specific events can make it difficult to practice supportive behaviors during this time of year.

I have found it helpful to isolate the flavors and smells to try to figure out what I really miss and if it is really food, trying to find a way to enjoy these things in a new way. The holiday spice blend in many baked treats was one flavor profile I just couldn’t shake, and thus this pudding was born.

HMR Chocolate Spice Cake Pudding

Whisk all ingredients together. Enjoy! I have tried it with slightly warm tap water which made it even more comforting, but it also tasted great chilled in the freezer.


Bulking up the HMR Diet Chicken Creole Entree (Healthy Solutions Recipe)


This one is short and easy but so good I had to share! And while you can grate cauliflower or run it through a food processor to get that rice texture, I recently learned you can also put raw florets in a large ziploc bag and beat it until it crumbles… excellent stress relief! (Okay so you can also buy riced cauliflower but c’mon let’s take cleavers to that vegetable and get some energy out!)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced onion (I dice an onion or two early in the week to throw into recipes)
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper 
  • 3 cups riced/grated cauliflower
  • Creole seasoning (to taste)
  • HMR Diet Chicken Creole entree

Heat frying pan over medium-high heat. Either spray with cooking spray or add a tablespoon of water and onion and bell pepper to sauté. Cook for one to two minutes stirring frequently and then add cauliflower and Creole seasoning.

Cook for another two to four minutes and add HMR program entree. Mix thoroughly and cook for another two to four minutes until heated through.

One gigantic serving or two smaller servings. Bulked up for just a few extra calories! Cook time varies because it depends on how soft you want your cauliflower rice. Add hot sauce if you want an extra kick!


Hitting the reset button on weight management: Week One

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post talking about gaining weight over the last 16 or so months while training for three different marathons. I kept jumping into cycles of trying to lose weight during these months, only to end up gaining, as I would find myself needing more nutrition during training, but rather than control the needed increase, I would just eat whenever I wanted. It wasn’t planned nutrition, it was just eating to eat. And this failure to plan meant the scale just kept going up.

The NYC Marathon is over. I finished and will write more about that amazing adventure later. But as I promised myself weeks ago, I hit the reset button on November 9. And I will be sharing this journey with you in an effort to hold myself publicly accountable.

One of the realizations I have had over the last 18 months is that I did not have a system in place to track my food that worked for me. There are dozens of ways of keeping a food diary and I had tried many of them – from various apps on my phone to paper logs. I loved the HMR Program application for my phone, but it became difficult to track outside foods, and so I would only track the meal replacements and fruits/veggies. Which meant lots of outside foods would creep in. With other applications that tracked calories, I would find myself looking for the lowest calorie options, and not the most nutritious or filling options. And with paper, I would forget it at home or wouldn’t take it when I went to social events because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself (and would inevitably forget to log). But I loved the paper log because it allowed me the freedom to just write everything I consumed, and not have calorie anxiety or the judgement of many of the free trackers to causing me to avoid logging.

You will find a new tab on the top of this blog that is a page with a Google document embedded in it. I have this linked on my phone, where I can have the ease of electronically logging, while having the freedom of my paper log. And I have chosen to make it public – because I think sharing food logs is helpful for accountability but also to share ideas with each other about what works and what doesn’t work.

I am taking this reset in stages, recognizing going cold turkey doesn’t always turn out well for me. So the public log is part of this first week’s steps. And I will continue to add in healthy behaviors each week and share them with you as I commit to them. Most of the nutrition based will revolve around the healthy behaviors I have learned in my time with the HMR Program, because they work.

The second goal of this first week is to work on crowding out calorically-dense foods by intentionally increasing my fruits and veggies. I am shooting for nine servings (using HMR measurements) of fruits and vegetables per day, every day this week.

I will also be adding in new physical activity programming in the coming weeks and can’t wait to tell you more about it along with the dietary changes. Step-by-step, day-by-day, week-by-week – using what I have learned along my journey to get rid of this excess weight while also recognizing and celebrating the significant weight loss I have managed to maintain. I also promise to try to post some pictures here (although you can also follow me on Instagram where I definitely love to share pictures!)

What works for you to maintain your weight loss? Do you have a secret strategy for success? And if you are struggling to lose weight, what is something that you are finding difficult? I’d love to hear from others about your successes and struggles!

 


Training to run a marathon did not make me fat

I am training for a marathon. And I am gaining weight. But marathon training didn’t cause this to happen. And I have been thinking a lot about this possible connection as I prepare to toe the start line of the New York City Marathon on November 6.

Let’s examine the facts. Which is going to involve talking about running for a bit. But if you are here for the self-discovery and discussion of weight gain, don’t worry, that will be coming in a little while.

I began training to run the Portland Marathon starting in the summer of 2015. I ended up with a DNS (did not start) after dealing with some injuries late in the summer. Rested. Recovered.

I started training for the Little Rock Marathon in October of 2015. I ended up getting different injuries but finishing the marathon. Albeit with time goals thrown out the window.

And two days after Little Rock in March of 2016, I confirmed I would be training for New York. But after not recovery properly from Little Rock, I have spent a large amount of time in physical therapy with yet another injury (shockingly these are all linked to some genetic issues, not shockingly they are all uniquely different injuries). However, I do have adjusted time goals. But ultimately I want to enjoy what I am openly acknowledging may be my last marathon, at least for a couple of years.

So essentially, for the last 17 or so months, I have been in some stage of marathon training or recovery. And while I haven’t stepped on the scale in a couple of weeks (more on that later) – I know I have gained about 20-30 pounds since May 31, 2015. But to be more specific – I gained 5-7 pounds in the summer of 2015, lost 14 pounds while I was injured and not running at all, gained 17 pounds during my training for Little Rock, struggled for awhile in recovery after (gaining another 7 pounds), and then losing 14 pounds before starting training for New York. So (and I am not the best at math), when I started training for New York, I was about 5 pounds heavier than when I started training for Portland the previous summer. But that doesn’t change the fact that the last time I stepped on the scale, I was 16 pounds heavier than I was when I started training for this marathon.

Going into marathon training, I knew many people had struggled with weight gain. From talking to my health coach, I knew this was something I would need to be mindful about. And so I went and did some research. HOLY MOLY don’t even try Googling weight gain and marathon training. SO MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN!

But more specifically, so much is contradictory. The FIRST article I opened (which I just found again near the top of the search page) had 6 reasons people gain weight and several of those reasons literally contradict each other! From being too strict about food to overeating to underfueling during the running to overfueling during the run; the information is endless and quite frankly overwhelming.

However, I realize after 17 months of training/recovering… that marathon training didn’t make me gain weight. I have just allowed it to serve as a mask, or as an excuse for struggles I have battled my whole life.

Marathon-training meant focusing on specific training goals with a specific training plan. A hyper-managed schedule to weave into my already full plate. But luckily, what it really just meant was rearranging my fitness schedule, because I learned after a couple of minor injuries, that I couldn’t add training on top of everything else I was doing.

So in reality, I didn’t increase my physical activity too much over the course of a week. But I did shift my mindset and I began more single-sport training. Which meant I wasn’t getting the same level of intensity 5 days a week, but was having some high intensity days and some much lower days. I have since realized that this threw my use of physical activity as a form of stress management out the window and I found food again as a form of stress relief, a habit I had mostly managed to eliminate, but did not realize had snuck back into my life until recently.

I also began to use the marathon as my excuse, or crutch, for more than just taking a rest day. And as I think about this, I realize that we all do this, even if we aren’t training for a marathon. For example, last year I struggled with stress in a new position at work, and people told me it would be understandable if I gained weight because I “had an excuse” – but while I had new challenges in my job, I also knew that it was just different struggles, and it wasn’t an excuse to eat. But I let marathon training be that excuse because I knew it had a timeframe and I could just start working on weight management after the race.

Finally, I realize now that I just didn’t have a maintainable weight of eating for weight management in place prior to starting marathon training. And long runs on Sunday took the place of meal preparation and planning. And the socialization events associated with training took away the desire to do the meal prep and planning. And because I was now constantly thinking about running, about injury prevention, about travel planning, about being stressed because I couldn’t go work out that afternoon because I had a long run in the morning, and at that point something just had to give.

For those of you who have followed my health and fitness story for awhile, you will realize I have struggled with this balance before. And I know this about myself. But I let the marathon mask this, and managed to put myself on the back burner at the same time I was supposedly focusing on myself.

I have some plans in mind that I look forward to sharing soon about how I will be working to lose this weight while finding a way to better manage it long term. I know I will always struggle with my weight. I will continue to gain and to lose (hopefully with a lot less gaining in the future). I will continue to have to confront myself and figure out the trigger of the moment and will have to reframe.

Right now, I will continue to make healthier choices. I am not going to focus on losing weight until after the marathon because that’s a week and a half away and I am not going to add the additional stress to myself right now because I would be setting myself up for failure. But you should expect there will be a number of blogs in the coming weeks both about the marathon, but also confronting the scale, and starting the process to lose the weight I have gained. I look forward to sharing more, but for now I am off to my weekly physical therapy appointment!

 


Seeking your HMR Diet entree challenges! And turning up the volume to solve one of mine.

The HMR Diet Beef Stew entree has always one of my least favorite entrees. It wasn’t ever bad, per say, but it just never spoke to me and I never felt fully satisfied eating it alone.

A few months ago, I wrote about a device that I was finding super useful when I travel. And now I keep one in my classroom too! And it’s through the use of this tool that I have been increasing the volume of my entrees, finally finding a way to love the Beef Stew entree.

It’s super easy too! Just one chicken bouillon cube, 1.5 cups of water, and one Beef Stew entree. Throw them all in the mini crockpot and let sit for several hours. It has a super flavorful broth which permeates the chunks of potato and beef cubes, leaving me full and satisfied.

So is there an entree you are having trouble with or often avoid? I love a good challenge and also think crowd-sourcing is a fun way to find new ideas. So please also share your favorite entree “fix-up” here and hopefully it will help someone else!


Enchilada Bites: An HMR Decision Free Recipe

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With the first couple days of summer vacation under my belt, I finally feel like I can come up for air and reflect on my first year teaching new classes in a new department (and drastically reducing my work travel!). Over the course of the last year, many things have changed, including the HMR enchilada entree! (Bet you didn’t see that transition coming, did you?)

I am trying to reconnect with my HMR meals – in Phase Two it is easy to forget about focusing on high-volume foods or on portion-control. And increasing my use of HMR meals has allowed me an opportunity to reeducate myself. But I don’t have a microwave at home, which means getting creative with entree prep.

In honor of my Decision Free Chips & Dip recipe made with the beef enchiladas, I decided to attempt another “finger food” recipe with the new chicken enchiladas. Super easy and still something people on decision free can have in their rotation!

(Warning: I used a toaster oven, so times and temps may vary)

Enchilada Bites

  • 1 HMR Chicken Enchilada entree
  • Hot sauce, salsa, FF sour cream (your choice!)
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover mini cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Scrap sauce off enchiladas and cut into 6-7 “coins” each. Lay on side on cookie sheet so it looks like a coin (as pictured above). Will produce 12-14 “bites” total. Put in oven and bake 8-12 minutes until tops and sides have started to brown.

While bites are baking, mix the sauce from the entree with your choice of hot sauce, salsa (if you are allowed to have it in your program), and/or fat-free sour cream. I just used Frank’s Buffalo Sauce for the bites pictures above to add some additional heat to the dipping sauce.

Enjoy! And then share how you like to prepare the chicken enchilada entree… I could use some new ideas!

 


Magical Green Soup – the secret’s out!

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Alright, it’s January 21 and I am just now getting around to sharing my 2016 goals. I wanted to make sure I could implement the biggest change before I shared it. And yes, I know accountability is a huge motivator, so I did share with many of my Facebook friends and those who I see face-to-face. But I wasn’t ready to write it out here until I knew it was sustainable.

I have some goals that are very time bound which are fitness focused. I will run the Little Rock Marathon on March 6, my first full marathon, with my sister. We are sticking together the whole way and not worrying about time. If I like the distance, I may do another on my own.

I also want to work towards a sub-2 hour half marathon. Yikes! That one may not be in the cards this year but I will put in the work to try to achieve this goal – my target race is October 1 at the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

My final goal is to end 2016 at the same weight or lower than I started. I struggle a lot in 2015 to figure out what works and doesn’t work for my weight management efforts. I did put on some weight but I also lost some of the weight I gained. One of my takeaways from Core and Phase One is that I have the tools to catch a gain early and to take it off. And that life won’t always be stable. Nor will my weight.

For example, I was working out 2+ hours 6 days a week when I was losing weight. I cut out my social life. I gave myself one year to focus solely on regaining my health. But when that year was over, I may have gone too far the other way. Reduced my physical activity too much in order to regain parts of my life I was missing. So it’s about finding a balance that isn’t “all or nothing.”

Okay, at this point you have got to be wondering about the title of this post and the photo of goodness knows what (I bet you figured out it’s green soup!). So I apologize for the lengthy intro. But it’s really all related, I promise.

One of the parts of my life I have figured out is that despite losing the weight, I still face decision-anxiety over food. And that increased variety of food options means I eat more. So part of my solution is to decrease my variety. Especially during the week. My menu is relatively the same from day to day.

A morning staple over the last three weeks was inspired by one of my health educators who talked about her green soup. So every week, I take all the veggies that are near the end of their life (and some that aren’t) and throw them in a slow cooker with herbs and spices as well as broth or water. I slow cook them for 10 to 12 hours and then blend it all up. It makes a massive amount of green soup!

Every morning, while getting ready for work, I cook 2 to 3 cups of the soup in a saucepan on the stove. When it comes to a boil, I pour it into my thermos. Then when I get to work, I pour it into a coffee mug over the course of the morning and have a warm and filling soup that doesn’t need a spoon and that is incredibly low in calories. Not to mention all the filling veggies in it!

So that’s it. My magical secret. It keeps me full. It keeps me sipping on something. It gets me some veggies early in the morning. And it’s part of my morning routine that I have developed to help me reach my goals.

At some point, I will write up some of my favorite combos. But really you can’t go wrong with an onion, some broccoli/kale/spinach, a carrot, Italian herbs, garlic powder, and chicken broth. However, I really do just throw everything in there. And I have yet to not enjoy my morning green soup.


Stress Management and Weight Management – what is in your toolbox?

I have been sitting on this post for about a week. I wrote it in my head and then rewrote it about 60 more times before I finally opened up my computer and started writing. So what you are getting now is a stream of conscious thought that has been overthought. And that’s about where I am with this topic right now.

I had a very stressful series of incidents occur recently in my life. Without going into detail, I will leave it as one of the more stressful moments in recent history. And now, in the aftermath of the initial fallout, I am left reflecting on what I did well and where I need to continue to work on my stress management strategies.

First, a good practice, is that I exercised. A LOT. I worked out every day for at least an hour and on top of that took long hikes several days with friends. This physical activity helped me to relieve a lot of the physical anxiety I was feeling about the events that had unfolded. For an hour, I could just run, bike, row, kick, jump, sing loudly to music and leave my stress at the gym door.

I also tried to ensure I met my minimum intake of vegetables and fruit each day. I didn’t alway make it. But I kept it in the front of my mind and would opt for produce if it was available and in front of me.

But then there was the bad. And if you have been reading my posts for awhile, you can guess where I am going with this. I ate and drank just about everything in front of me after consuming that produce. I didn’t shovel food nonstop, but I did not make conscious choices about what I ate or when I ate it. I ate to comfort myself from the emotional and mental stress that I was facing. I would go out with friends to avoid facing the stress and would drink (in mostly restrained quantities) but this loosened my inhibitions which resulted in even less restraint about food choices. And it was a holiday week which meant those bad choices were everywhere around me.

I didn’t stop to think. I didn’t stop to evaluate how those food choices would impact my weight management. I didn’t consciously, in most cases, even realize I was making decisions about food. And now in hindsight, I can see where I didn’t use my other tools to manage my emotional and mental stress.

I am trying to regroup. I have meal plans and have food prepped. I am preplanning in order to reduce my choices about food. Which will help me continue to work through the current stress factors in my life. But I want to continue to build my stress management toolbox. And I think there are some pretty awesome people reading my ramblings. So I am throwing it out to you.

If you are still reading this post, please take one minute to reply. Share one way you manage stress. Or one way you combat emotional eating. What’s in your Stress Management/Weight Management toolbox?


Lessons and Acceptance: Reflecting on my HMR Diet Blitz experience

(I started this blog entry a few weeks ago and then the insanity of October hit – fellow teachers can relate – so I am finishing it off now – better late than never!)

For the last four weeks I have been on a strict HMR Healthy Solutions diet as part of a “Blitz” that my health center was offering. This meant four weeks straight of being “in the box” of the prescribed Healthy Solutions Diet of 3 shakes, 2 entrees, and 5 fruits/veggies minimum per day (more of any of these allowed under the concept “More is Better” which I will address in a moment) plus 2,000 physical activity calories a week.

When I transitioned out of Phase One of HMR almost a year ago today, I had not spent much time following Healthy Solutions. I had spent nine months living in a hardcore Decision Free box and only spent about a month transitioning into Healthy Solutions before I transitioned into Phase Two (the introduction of outside foods, broadening my personal “box” for successful weight maintenance).

To be honest, I don’t think I had fully grasped the function of Healthy Solutions. I followed it. I did what I was told. But I don’t think I had internalized some of the decision making that is taught in this part of the program.

More is Better

My “more is better” had been shakes and entrees for nine months. And when I transitioned, I continued to rely on these. There is nothing wrong with these decision free meals, however I have learned that if I rely more on vegetables as the bulk “more is better” part of a meal, I can have super filling options for fewer calories. It is a continuation of the idea of calorically dense foods. And so, for example my dinner tonight, instead of having two entrees or an entree and a shake, I am just as full (if not fuller) making “noodles” out of zucchini and having an HMR lasagna on top!

That said, entrees and shakes are incredibly valuable and more of these are better too. But I had been crowing out fruits and veggies – not just Gap foods – with my HMR entrees and shakes … which was depriving me of another “more is better” option (that has even more variety!).

Meal Planning

The concept behind meal planning was pretty basic in Decision Free since I had been working with limited options that required no preparation. So when I started introducing fruits and veggies, I went for a lot of basics and didn’t think about meal prep or planning. But that gets boring fast, and thus I started to plan a few more of my meals in order to get all of my fruits, veggies, shakes, and entrees in!

I have also created a “puzzle piece” system where I prep building blocks that can be used a variety of ways during the week (so I can have some spontaneity in what I have but it all still meets a Healthy Solutions guideline) – for example, I will roast several squash and an eggplant as well as spiralize zucchini and rice up a head of cauliflower. Now I have ready made staples I can pair with an entree – like steak and potatoes tossed with some roasted squash or Thai curry bulked up with some extra cauliflower rice.

Journaling

I also had been pretty simplistic in my journaling in Decision Free. I would just check off with a hash-mark when I had an entree or shake or bar. And while I was okay with basic fruit and veggie tracking in Healthy Solutions. But as I started to get creative, I realized I would get frustrated having to add everything and wouldn’t keep a clear journal.

Now I have all of my puzzle pieces saved and can swap them in and out. But I also pre-log things before I eat them because if it does take awhile to log, I might just end up with a shake or some steamed veggies (which were probably the healthier option in some cases).

My Takeaway

Ultimately, there are a lot of things I have taken away from this experience. And I would strongly encourage anyone who needs a reset to check out their HMR clinic for the next Blitz offering. I not only lost some of the weight I had gained, I have taken away a better appreciation of defining what I need to maintain my weight as well as an appreciation for decision free options (shakes and entrees) that I had “tired” of after transitioning to Phase Two. I embrace them with a newfound respect having taken a “break” from them and realizing they are actually pretty awesome for more than just weight loss.

I am now currently living inside of my own personal box. It’s not as strict as an official “box” but it’s guidelines I am figuring out help me from diving into “The World of Gap Foods” — I am playing around to figure out exactly what works and I am still giving myself permission to have a meal outside of my new box every couple of weeks. I am also still figuring out if I am at my “happy” weight range or if I do want to lose the additional pounds I have found in Phase Two. If I lose them, will I be at a maintainable weight for me? And right now, I just don’t know. But I will keep living in my box full of fruits and vegetables and decision free meal options (with an occasional outside lean protein) until I have a better answer. And I realize this may be the rest of my life and after a year in Phase Two, I am finally accepting this.


HMR Five Bean Curried Squash Stuffed Peppers

HMR Diet Stuffed Peppers

That title is a mouthful. A DELICIOUS mouthful!

I was roasting a squash. And I had some left. So I mashed it. Then I realized I had some small purple bell peppers in the fridge that needed to be cooked. And then the idea began to form. And my goodness it was a filling idea!

HMR Healthy Solutions 5 Bean Stuffed Peppers

Serves One Hungry Me!

  • 1 HMR 5 Bean Entree
  • 3/4 lb Bell Peppers (in my case it was five small peppers)
  • 1/2 cup mashed Butternut Squash
  • 2 tbsp dried Minced Onions
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Granulated Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers – trim the edible parts off the top that you have removed, they can be used in the filling! I had four small ones and one really tiny one, so I chopped up the tiny one as well.

Mix all other ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill the bell peppers with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish. I used a large loaf pan and made foil balls to help prop them up. You could also use muffin tins or mini pie pans depending on the size of your peppers (you just want to make sure they don’t tip over as they cook and the shell softens).

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until desired doneness. Everything is already cooked through except the shell so it will really depend on if you prefer a crisper exterior shell/pepper or a softer pepper.

Below is the nutritional data per MyFitnessPal’s recipe builder:

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Finding Success Amongst Stress

I’m still here! Moving apartments and starting a new position at my school has been running me in circles. This is a hectic time of year for a teacher and the move and the new classes have added an extra element of stress.

This said, I have continued to work to maintain my health. I have been following the Healthy Solutions program closely, and made a firm commitment to exclusively follow the program starting last week as my HMR center is hosting a “Blitz” for members of Phase Two. This has given us a chance to hit a “reset” button and refocus on healthy and supportive behaviors – so far I have been “In The Box” for 6 days and Day Seven is off and running!

Despite the extreme levels of stress that I have been dealing with, I have managed to control my diet reasonably well through pre-logging my meals each day. This has forced me to write out a plan every single day before the day starts. It means I know I am getting in my fruits and veggies. It also means, now that I am on the Blitz, that I am also fitting in my entrees and shakes.

I tend to overplan. I pack more food each day than I will probably eat. And now that I am settled in my classroom, I also have a stocked cabinet full of supportive meals, shakes, condiments, zero-calorie beverages and all of the tools and utensils I need to prepare them.

By over-planning, I can be a bit more flexible and listen to my actual hunger levels. I avoid the anxiety of making a decision from outside foods but I can play safely in my box for the day. A health educator last week relayed a message from another HMR member who called it “making friends with the box” and I really embraced this. I think this is where I had problems in my transition because I wasn’t necessarily seeing all the flexibility I could afford myself without risking the gains I had made in improving my health.

Pre-logging also means I can eat everything I bring if I am having a hungry day without reaching for outside food. And all I have to do is delete the items I don’t eat.

Finally, let’s say I do feel like breaking out a little. I want an HMR lasagna and not the chili I had planned. It’s a minor change in my log and I can still visualize how it fits into my overall day.

I have logged for 31 days on MyFitnessPal (I’m “HealthyAcademic” if you want to be my “friend” and view my diary – I have made it visible to my friends for added accountability and I love reading other food logs for ideas) – this app is working great for me in terms of pre-logging. It’s taken me a very long time to figure out a consistent way to log my food, but I think this has been my most successful method for meal-planning and ensuring I get everything I eat written down.


HMR Healthy Solutions Stuffed Tomatoes

Today I had the opportunity to attend a Phase One HMR class and they were having a condiment party! Everyone brought low-calorie condiments to share along with recipe ideas. One of the recipes mentioned was the HMR Stuffing recipe which got me brainstorming…

With produce left to use before debate nationals, I imagined how I might blend these ingredients into something new. Because creativity helps me stay focused on consuming supportive foods.

  
You will need three to six tomatoes depending on their size. Mine were somewhere slightly smaller than a tennis ball but not as small as a golf ball. I only filled the three I had and ate the rest of the stuffing. I used half the stuffing for three so in the future I would want six tomatoes this size.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes
  • HMR Oatmeal
  • HMR Chicken Soup
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder

Cut a circle out of the top of each tomato. Hollow out the tomatoes with a spoon. Save the guts and chop up as much of the top of the tomato that you can. Set hollow tomatoes aside.

Cook HMR oatmeal with 3/4 cup water for 90 seconds. Add soup, chopped tomato and tomato guts, Italian seasoning and garlic powder (I used between one and two teaspoons of each). Mix well.

Spoon stuffing into tomatoes and bake at 400 degrees for 13-18 minutes until the tops are browned (I left mine in for 20 and as you can see they are a tad too brown!) — Enjoy!


Southwestern HMR Diet Healthy Solutions Soup

I have been working hard to focus on high-volume lower-calorie meals in order to stay full for fewer calories. And this week we were given a homework assignment to replace a meal with a high volume meal option from a list. Perfect for my own personal focus!

The one item on the list that I haven’t done since Decision-Free was to essentially turn an entree into a soup. Adding liquid ups the volume for sure!

This was the experiment I dreamed up on my drive home from class and it worked out really well. You can sub in fresh veggies and also change up the amount of water for your desired thickness.

The version I made was pretty thin, so you may want less water if you prefer a thicker soup. I like having the extra soup and I think the flavor was still relatively intense for being a thinner soup.

Southwestern Soup

  • 1 HMR Chili Entree
  • 2 HMR Chicken Soups
  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s fire roasted bell peppers and onions (no added oil)
  • Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning to taste (I probably added between two and three teaspoons)
  • Fresh black pepper to taste (less than a teaspoon for me)
  • 8 cups of water

Cook the frozen vegetables in the water with the seasonings (I bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes). Add soup packets and chili and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and blend in small batches.

Makes a GIGANTIC bowl which is clearly 4 or more servings unless you are ridiculously hungry. The entire giant storage bowl was only 570 calories. It made six servings for me – so less than a hundred calories a mug!


Reframing the power of the “Meal Replacement”

During my journey through Core and Phase One on the HMR Diet, I nourished my body with packaged entrees, shakes, soups, and oatmeal. I lost a significant amount of weight. And during all of my classes, I would be reminded how important it would be to use these and other variations of “meal replacements” to continue to maintain weight loss once I transitioned to Phase Two.

It makes logical sense. These are pre-portioned, nutritionally-balanced, lower-calorie options to keep you satiated and nourished. You could have two HMR entrees and an HMR shake for the calories in a lot of fast food kids meals. And you would be much fuller for a lot longer!

However, as good a student as I was during the weight-loss process, I harnessed my inner teenager and rebelled a bit once I transitioned. I eschewed “meal replacements” in favor of “real food.” And I fought a battle of what is normal and “got tired” of tracking and other habits I had created during the previous year. And I did it all during the busiest months of the debate season where I was on the road almost every weekend.

From November to early April, I regained 20 of the 130 pounds I had fought so hard to lose. I had let the Gap push “meal replacements” out of my life meal by meal instead of embracing “meal replacements” and the role they play to maintain a reasonable calorie intake.

Over the last six weeks, as the debate season has wound to a close, I have struggled to embrace the habits I know will help me maintain my weight loss. But I realized that one of the hardest habits I have had is this notion of a “meal replacement” replacing a “meal” and during a recent health class, I realized why.

Another student who had transitioned from Phase One was complaining about the idea of consuming “meal replacements” and how she thought it was only temporary. She didn’t want to continue to make them a part of her life. She wanted to eat real meals. I knew exactly how she felt. But I also knew exactly why she shouldn’t kick them to the curb.

I have drastically increased the number of “meal replacements” over the last six weeks. But I have taken a new approach.

They aren’t “meal replacements.”

They are “decision-free meals.”

Not to be confused with the Decision Free portion of the HMR Diet, I have spent a significant time reflecting on why these 300-calorie or less meals that have 10 grams or more of protein are such a vital part of weight management.

It’s because you don’t have to make a decision! You can add veggies and/or fruit to these otherwise complete meals and you don’t have to portion things out or ensure there is a balance of protein/carbs/fat. The balance is there for satiety while the portion-control helps keep the over daily calorie consumption down.

However it’s the notion that these decision-free meals replace a meal that I have struggled with. Calling these complete meals a “meal replacement” triggered two things for me:

  1. I am missing out on something. When I am “replacing” a meal with a “meal replacement” then I am not getting an “actual meal.”
  2. I am on a diet and not embracing a lifestyle. Using the same technical terms I used in weight loss to describe my portion-controlled decision-free meals now makes me feel regimented in a way that doesn’t feel sustainable.

However, I am having real meals and it is sustainable. It’s all a matter of mindset and language shaping reality. When I did my post-graduate work on media reporting descriptors and the impact on female politicians credibility and electability, I found that subtle variations in something as minor as using the word “said” versus “argued” had an impact on voters. Language is powerful! An article in Slate Magazine explores just how powerful language can be in the justice system and policy making.

Thus, I will continue to embrace these decision-free complete-meals as a part of my fight against the Gap. They will be where I turn for a significant number of my meals because they are portion controlled and nutritionally balanced. But they will not replace anything. They are not substitutes. Because I am not missing out on anything anymore. I am embracing life in the best way possible.


HMR Healthy Solutions Pineapple Mint Magic!

I am loving returning home from a workout and throwing together a giant blended shake! And adding in frozen cauliflower and a blend of other ingredients helps bulk it up and make it more filling.

To make it easier, I do mass prep. I happened to have color sandwich bad and have measured out a cup of frozen cauliflower plus whatever other produce/herbs I use. Now I can grab a color coded bag, add water and shake mix and blend! No thinking required!

the door of my freezer!

This blend reminds me of Hawaii for no reason other than the pineapple. The amount of mint will vary based on your tastebuds.

  • One cup frozen cauliflower
  • One cup frozen pineapple
  • 4 to 8 mint leaves
  • HMR Vanilla Shake (I use the 800)
  • 1 to 3 cups of water depending on desired consistency (I usually use two)

The first three ingredients can be packed together in a freezer bag until ready. Put all ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy!


HMR Healthy Solutions Chocolate Cherry Ginger Shake

This shake contains a secret ingredient. One I CANNOT believe I ever put in a shake. But I did it. And have done it a number of times with a variety of fun combinations I can’t wait to share!

When my Phase Two health educator suggested putting frozen cauliflower in a shake instead of ice, I thought she was crazy. She claimed you couldn’t taste it. “Ha!” I thought. “It seems just weird enough that it might be true!”

It took me several months before I dared to place a cup of frozen cauliflower into my Vitamix. But with a serving of frozen fruit in there and an HMR shake, she was right! Plus as it melted, it didn’t water down the shake like ice. And for only 25 extra calories I was getting another serving of veggies with all the fiberous nutritional goodness that comes with it.

So here’s one of my combos that isn’t overly sweet but is super refreshing after a workout.

Chocolate Cherry Ginger Shake

  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower
  • 1 cup frozen cherries (make sure there is nothing but cherries on the ingredient list!)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 HMR chocolate shake
  • 1.5 cups of water

Blend until smooth and enjoy! If you like it sweeter, I would suggest adding some Torani sugar free Black Cherry syrup.


Miso Ginger Soup Recipe (HMR Healthy Solutions Friendly!)

It’s been a LONG time since I posted but I spent the last three weeks in China (and was a bit stressed getting ready for the trip before that) — I want to write about my experiences soon (after I finish catching up on work!) but tonight I wanted to share a “recipe” I threw together this week that’s super delicious and filling but low in calories (and cost!). The measurements are approximate and I totally could imagine adding some different spices to change it up.

It all started when I picked up a 6 pound bag of frozen “Asian Vegetable Mix” at a restaurant supply store…

Miso Ginger Soup

  • 6 cups frozen “Asian Vegetable Mix” (mine was 25 calories a cup!)
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 tbsp miso paste (I buy Eden Organic because I use Miso to flavor a lot of things – warning miso adds all the salt you need!)
  • 2 tbsp low sodium shoyu/soy sauce (adds a great umami flavor)
  • 2 tbsp crushed ginger from a tube (you should use less if you don’t like strong ginger flavor or are using fresh ginger!)
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic powder (different than the fine powder so measurements might vary)

Put all in large pot. Cover. Bring to boil and let boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for at least 40 minutes. It’s even better portioned out and reheated later!

Made 10 servings for me at about 25 calories each (although I tripled up a couple to quench some hunger and sodium cravings while I have been sick since my return).


HMR Healthy Solutions Apple Pie Shake

Still playing around with produce in shakes, I had a couple of apples leftover that I needed to use. What about an apple pie shake with hints of toffee and maple?

Apple Pie Shake
* 2 HMR Vanilla Shakes (I use HMR 800)
* 4 pumps SF vanilla bean syrup
* 4 pumps SF pancake syrup
* 4 pumps SF English toffee syrup
* 1.5 cups water
* 2 small-medium apples (I used Honeycrisp)
* 18 ice cubes
* Spices – I use Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus but I think you could use an apple pie spice or just cinnamon and nutmeg. I like space – probably used between one and two teaspoons.

Blend syrups, water and apples together until apples are broken down. Add shakes and spices and blend until combined. Add ice and blend until desired consistency. Enjoy!!!!

I divided this into three coffee tumblers to enjoy throughout the day. However after a PA-filled morning I am thinking of doubling up on HMR meal replacements and enjoying an oatmeal with one of them!


HMR Healthy Solutions Pumpkin Pie Shake

When I was on Decision Free, I crafted a Decision Free Pumpkin Pie shake to get me through the holidays. Now that I have started playing with fruits and veggies in my shakes, I decided to try another experiment.

This shake will very in thickness based on the amount of water you use. I used less water to make it thicker like a fast-food shake but if you add more, it will spread the flavor out and give you more volume. This recipe filled two 16oz tumblers and a 12oz tumbler, so even thicker it still made quite a bit.

Make sure you use pureed pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling which is full of extra sugar (and calories). Also, this shake isn’t super sweet. If you like sweet pumpkin pie, you will want to add more syrup or non-caloric sweetener. But I like my pie only slightly sweetened.

HMR Healthy Solutions Pumpkin Pie Shake

  • 2 HMR 800 Vanilla Shake packets (or your favorite HMR Vanilla shake)
  • 1.75 cups of pureed pumpkin (it was one can of pureed pumpkin)
  • 2 ounces Torani SF pumpkin pie syrup
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 16 ice cubes

Blend pumpkin, syrup and water together until combined. Add cinnamon and shake packets and blend again until combined. Add ice and blend until smooth.


HMR Healthy Solutions Carrot Cake Shake

I have had a weird craving for carrot cake. And I can’t deny that a giant piece would totally hit the spot right now. Creamy icing. Sweet carrot and fruit flavors.

But I know I would feel pretty gross if I ate a slice of carrot cake. The sugar crash and high calories would be disadvantageous to the lifestyle I strive to maintain.

So I created something that honestly, I wasn’t sure would work. However after having a shake for breakfast and another in a thermos for an afternoon snack, I am already planning on making this again tomorrow!

And laugh if you want, but this is the first HMR shake I have added any fruits or veggies to. I know! I am shocked too! I won’t do it a ton because I like to chew my produce but I will definitely be playing around some more in the future!

Feel free to adjust the amount of syrups and cinnamon to your taste. This is definitely a sweet shake!

HMR Carrot Cake Shake

  • 1 HMR Vanilla 800 packets (you can sub in your HMR vanilla shake of choice)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small apple
  • 5 pumps Torani sugar-free vanilla bean syrup
  • 3 pumps Torani sugar-free vanilla cinnamon syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 8 ice cubes

Blend carrot, apple and water together first to break down the produce. Add shake mix, syrups, and cinnamon. You may need additional water depending on how pulpy you want it. Add ice cubes.

I use a Vitamix which breaks everything down very nicely. Results may vary with blender choice as to the consistency.


Habits: Emotional Eating and Food Substitutions

Definition of Habit

Last night in my HMR Phase Two class, we talked about habits. What they are. Discovering our motivation behind the habit. And how to work to break bad habits while establishing supportive habits.

A topic that was almost too timely for me.

Earlier in the day, I had fallen into an old habit that was surreal but vaguely familiar as it is one I thought I had broken but found myself rediscovering recently. The habit of eating until I was sickening full with no real hunger preceding it.

I have had several recent occasions where I have found myself falling into this habit and I have been journaling to figure out the triggers. It was thus interesting to participate in last night’s discussion as it solidified what I had been realizing about myself.

The eating starts when I am tired and stress. I feel rushed with too much on my scheduling plate and what seems like too little time. I know I need to eat, so I grab supportive foods.

This falls in line with what some people suggest. That when you want to eat, you should replace non-supportive foods like potato chips with supportive foods like carrots. Because then you can satiate your hand-to-mouth desires.

However, what I am slowly learning about myself over this past year, is that this doesn’t satiate my emotions and I end up stuffing myself until I am sick to my stomach. Even with supportive foods that might not cause too much damage, I feel gross and still unsatisfied.

Which means I feel gross. I am unsatisfied. And now I still want unsupportive foods. And while feeling full should keep me from eating those unsupportive foods, I still go for them. And maybe right now it is just small bites. But it’s small bites of high calorie foods on top of the massive bowl of beets and the banana and the bowl of cherry tomatoes and it all adds up.

comfort-eat-all-the-things

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Because as I reflect on my successes this past year, I realize that the times I have wanted to eat and I didn’t take the first bite, I was able to alleviate my stress and anxiety in other ways.

When I have been angry and stressed, I have found that dropping down and doing 5 push-ups (or more) immediately gives me a physical relief that is far more satisfying than a bowl of lettuce. And if I have more time, lacing up and going for a walk or run allows me to process my thoughts away form food.

When I am sad or feeling more of a low-energy emotional need to eat, journaling about why I want to eat helps me find the trigger without pulling it. And then I can figure out a solution to this need – do I need to feel pampered? Do I need a hug? Do I just need to cry without a reason?

While some people may be able to find a solution through replacing high calorie foods with low calories foods when they have an emotional trigger to eat, I am realizing that this won’t work for me.

So the new habit I am working to develop it to not take the first bite. To continue to work to recognize my triggers and to use my non-food toolbox to process my emotions.

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How do you summarize a year? 2014 in review.

As another year comes to a close, I surf my Facebook feed and read through emails attempting to digest and reflect on all that has happened in 2014. Everything that was lost and all that was gained.

I wanted to write that “this is a year that will go down in my history as a special year” but then I stopped myself. Because every year should probably be a special year. In fact writing that sentence reminded me of a short post in 2011 that I wrote when this blog was just a collection of randomness (oh wait, it’s still sort of that way, only more consistent!).

The fact that we highlight a specific timeframe. That we measure things based on a calendar. It’s always bothered me and yet motivated me.

Health class yesterday centered around this idea of timeframe. And more specifically about resolutions. About setting S.M.A.R.T. goals to help accomplish what we set out to do in the coming year. Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound.

I set my goals for 2015. I want to run a full marathon (Portland look out!). I want to get under 150 pounds and stay there (the plan is to stick with a Healthy Solutions based diet). I want to journal at least once a week as writing has and will continue to be a release for me. I want to continue to raise money for community organizations. And I want to continue to strive for a better work-nonwork life balance which I will begin to accomplish through continuing to ensure I have “me time” through fitness and journaling.

As I set those 2015 goals out for the Internet to digest, my mind wanders back over everything 2014 brought to the table. I honestly don’t think I had any resolutions for this year. I just knew I needed to stick to the HMR Diet (I was still in the first months of Core) and that I just needed to continue to take small steps that would build upon each other towards the “yellow brick road to Oz” (sorry I just giggled and imagined an HMR class linking arms and skipping down a path to the Emerald City of Healthy and couldn’t resist sharing).

In January of 2014, I took a rare weekend off work. I traveled with friends. And I learned to put my needs out publicly rather than giving in to those who pushed back. Oh and on a whim, I signed up for the Disneyland Half-Marathon in August. I should probably note I had never run a full mile at this point.

In February of 2014, I ran my first mile (hmmm was there a motivation connection to the previous month? lol). It was at 4.0 mph on the treadmill. I stopped after one mile. But I ran a full mile without stopping. I also tried out every single group exercise class my gym offered at least once. And the ones I hated, I forced myself to revisit again later in the year, just to make sure I really didn’t like them.

In March of 2014, I celebrated my birthday at the gym. I invited all of my friends and we did BodyCombat and Zumba and it was so much fun!

In April of 2014, I ran a 10k. And I loved it. I felt strong. I felt empowered. I felt alive.

In May of 2014, I ran two 5ks with friends and learned how social running could be. I hit the 90 pounds lost mark after 6 months on HMR and blogged about it.

In June of 2014, I ran my first sub-30 5k. A number I had only dreamed about. And in a tutu! I also finished in first place in my Boxing Fundamentals class final exam. I LOVE boxing! Oh and I hit the magic 100 pounds lost.

In July of 2014, I introduced my mother to her first 5k. And she finished under her goal time. I ran a 6-mile race with my husband (the self-proclaimed “non-runner” in the family) by my side. I also ran through the streets of New Orleans after an impulsive race-day sign-up. And I stayed in the Decision Free box the entire time I traveled.

In August of 2014, I RAN TWO HALF-MARATHONS and finished both in under two hours and thirty minutes – one of which was the Disneyland Half. What?!?!?!? No but really… WHAT?!?!?! I also transitioned to Healthy Solutions.

In September of 2014, I ran a sub-60 10k. Can you tell how freakishly proud I am of my running? Probably because it’s super easy to measure compared to so many of my other accomplishments and because it’s something I used to try to get out of doing in high school gym class. I also transitioned to Phase Two.

In October of 2014, I completed the Rock and Roll San Jose Remix – PRing my 5k on Saturday and conquering my mental behemoth (and PRing) at the San Jose Half Marathon on Sunday.

In November of 2014, I hit my one year anniversary since starting HMR. And I ran with friends on Thanksgiving and scored a new 10k PR!

In December of 2014, I shaved some more time off my 5k (post coming in January) at the Santa Run. And I learned a LOT about myself. I spent the holiday season fighting in the gap. And I survived without too many bruises.

I am leaving 2014 on a high note. I know I have a lot of self-improvement still to do. A lot of goals I want to accomplish. But a renewed sense of self-determination and body full of energy (despite today’s 5:15am OrangeTheory class).

So in short, 2014, thank you for everything you taught me about myself and about the world around me. I am truly blessed to have gotten a chance to experience everything you contained and I look forward to jumping feet first into what 2015 has in store!


Easy HMR Chicken Creole Soup

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It’s super cold and windy out and I KNOW I am going to want comfort food after running errands today. So I threw together a standby favorite that I will nosh on for most of the evening (for only 420 calories for the WHOLE stewpot!).

The secret is the spices. Amping up a broth-based soup with flavor makes it go a long way. And really you can throw any veggie-entree combo together with the right selection of spices to make your own cold-weather goodness.

My Creole favorite:

4 cups of chicken broth (two cans)
1 16oz bag (1 lb) frozen okra (I like the whole pods)
1 HMR Chicken Creole entree
Granulated garlic (I use about a tablespoon)
Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning (I use about a half a tablespoon)
Louisiana Hot Sauce (I pour it in but I really like spice if you can’t tell?)

Throw it all in a pot and cook it low and slow until you just can’t stand how good it smells. For me that’s between twenty minutes and two hours.

Are you a broth soup fan? What’s your favorite HMR entree to make into a soup? Share your ideas because I could always use some more easy combinations!