Category Archives: Temptation

It’s Always Something

Christmas.  New Year’s.  Birthday.  Wedding.  Valentine’s.  Easter.  There’s always a reason to eat something with empty calories in it.  For me, the gauntlet was Teacher Appreciation Week.  My weakness is icing.

Cake Corner

When I walked into the teachers’ lounge, this was staring me in the face saying, “I waited just for you!”  I don’t know about you, but for me, cake is all about the frosting.  I’ve seen some folks scrape off the good stuff and eat just the cake.  I’m the other way around.  Give me just the sweet stuff, and I’ll be happy.

I didn’t eat any cake last week.  I didn’t eat any cookies, donuts, muffins, snicker doodles, or even fortune cookies.

IMG_2234

I did crack one open, but I didn’t care for the fortune it gave me.  I’m plotting my own destiny, here.  Why do I need to take instructions from a cookie?

The point is, there will always be something in your path shouting, “Eat me!”  There will forever be holidays, girl scouts with cookies, and even the random corner piece of cake staring you in the face.  Decide today how you plan to deal with that monster when it rears its ugly head.

While I’m in the weight loss stage of things, when calories call, I’m letting them go to voice mail.

Bypass

The Foodtritionist, whom I recommend you follow on Facebook for the humor as much as the sound nutrition and recipe advice, recently posted a cartoon that resonated with me.  “You have many weight-loss options:  gastric bypass, donut shop bypass, pizza parlor bypass, buffet bypass…”

Bypass Cartoon

For me, it’s gas station bypass.  Keeping foods that I would have difficulty consuming in healthy portions and at reasonable frequencies out of my pantry has long been a key to encouraging myself to make sound food choices.  Have you been inside a gas station lately?

I commute about an hour each way to and from work, so I get gas once every two or three days.  I am signed up for the rewards program that my gas station offers so I save between 5 and 10 cents per gallon.  When you burn fuel as rapidly as I do, every little bit counts.  With that rewards program came free treats.  A free fountain drink.  A free coffee.  A free Cadbury Cream Egg.

These freebies are designed to lure us inside.  Once there, they want to keep us inside.  Buy 6 fountain drinks and get the 7th for free.  Scan this QR Code and we’ll send you a coupon for something each Thursday.  Free donut.  Free hot dog.  Free coffee.  Free calories.

It wasn’t long before I was stopping into the gas station when I didn’t even need to get gas.  The people were very friendly.  The bathrooms were always sparkling.  The employees were so helpful — “You know, if you get another one of those it’ll only be 49 cents more.  They’re on sale this week.”  How can you turn away an offer like that?

Food addiction was never something I really thought was a thing.  Sure, people make bad decisions, but addiction?  When I drive past a gas station and my mouth begins watering, what do you call that?

I’m going to have a radical gas station bypass performed.  I don’t need the fountain drinks.  I don’t need the freebies.  I can pay at the pump.  When the receipt tells me that there are free things inside, I’m going to tear it up and drive away.  When the rewards system sends me a text message encouraging me to come inside to try a new product, I’m going to delete it.  When the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup calls my name, I’m going to let that call go to voicemail.

I can bypass the unhealthy options in the grocery store, but I seem to have difficulty bypassing them in convenience stores.  The answer is to bypass convenience stores.

What are you going to bypass?

70,000 Calories

I’ve gained just less than 20 pounds since my last official weigh-in.  Since there are 3,500 Calories in a pound of fat, that means that I’ve consumed just shy of 70,000 needless Calories in the past few months.  As one would do when getting a household budget in line, I sat down with a spreadsheet to think about where some of these needless Calories were spent.

Until my gas station bribed me into trying one with a free t-shirt, I had never tasted a “Whoopie Pie.”  It’s essentially two sweet, sticky muffin tops that sandwich a creamy filling that’s somewhere between butter cream icing and marshmallow goo.  You can get miniatures 5 for $1.99 or larger ones 3 for $2.49.  I wear the tshirt to the gym.  I wear the extra weight I gained everywhere I go.

Whoopie Pie Shirt

For the purposes of our budget, let’s say I had 17 of the miniatures.  That’s 3,400 Calories — just shy of a pound.

I have also developed a habit of eating Reese’s Cups.  I’m not talking about the cute miniature ones or even the two-pack classic cups.  These (plural) are the thick super-sized “Big Cup” variety.  They’re delicious, and do very little for me from a satiety perspective.  Why, then, did I find myself in possession of a case of them from Sam’s Club one weekend?  Because they’re cheaper in bulk.

Let’s add a case of those dudes into the calculation.  That’s 6,400 Calories.

I also discovered a product that didn’t exist when I began my weight loss journey — Snickers PB Squared.  It apparently won some awards last year.  It has the nutty-creamy quality of Snickers, and it also has the je ne sais quoi of peanut butter that makes it super double addictive.  The regular pack comes with two squares, but you can also get it with 4 squares.  I bought a bag of miniatures at the grocery store.  Again, cheaper that way.

I honestly have no idea how many there were in that bag.  Let’s go with 28.  If there weren’t that many in the bag, I know I’ve eaten at least that many at gas station stops alone.  7,000 Calories.

While we’re on the topic of peanut butter, I have been known to sit down with a jar of it and scoop it out on saltine crackers.  A similar motion also works if you’re holding a jar of Nutella and gripping graham crackers.  My rational brain knows that peanut butter is a very Calorie-dense food — one that must be consumed in careful portions in order to prevent consuming it in excess.  Those Calories don’t count if you’re wearing your Whoopie Pie shirt, right?

A cup of peanut butter contains 1,518 Calories.  Over several months, I know I’ve cleaned out more than one jar.  For our budget, let’s put 16 cups.  That’s a gallon — 24,288 Calories.  I know I haven’t eaten that much excess peanut butter, but I’m still shy some Calories to meet my 70,000.

If I were to fill in the remaining missing calories in terms of large pepperoni pizzas, it would take a dozen of them to tally up the remaining 28,000 Calories.

A taste here, a nibble there, a cheat on occasion, and endless promises to do better tomorrow.  That’s how weight is gained.  Establishing a Calorie deficit — consuming fewer Calories than are expended — is how weight is lost.

The momentary pleasure of eating that Reese’s Cup quickly fades.  The impact registered on the scale does not.  These are poor choices, and I know better!  Why, then, did I make them?

This fascinating podcast from Radiolab, which has long been one of my favorite shows to listen to on my commute, discusses the way scientists believe our brain makes decisions.  They describe it as bundles of neurons voting, as if on a committee.  I can clearly feel the struggle in my own mind.  “We want a candybar!” shout the pleasure-seeking neutrons.  “Those are empty calories,” scold the bookkeepers.  It’s not that any one set of neurons is me, rather they’re all me.  I just have to wrangle the electorate and make sure the votes fall the way I want them to — I’m like the Minority Whip.

Minority Whip.  Cool Whip.  Never mind.

 

 

Temptation Tuesday: LOL

This just made me laugh. Does that count as an ab exercise?

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Have a great Tuesday!

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Temptation Tuesday: Reese’s Krispies

Short of a peanut allergy, I’m not sure I’ve met someone who wasn’t fond of a Reese’s Cup. I wouldn’t do very much for a Klondike Bar, but in a former life I would have done quite a lot for a Reese’s Cup. Now, I’ve run across this recipe for a Reese’s-inspired Rice Krispie cookie. Tempting, indeed.

Reese's Krispies

Reese's Krispies
Serves 24
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338 calories
56 g
1 g
11 g
7 g
3 g
82 g
47 g
19 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
82g
Servings
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 338
Calories from Fat 92
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 3g
15%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 1mg
0%
Sodium 47mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 56g
19%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 19g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
2%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup Sugar
  2. 1 Cup Corn Syrup
  3. 1 1/3 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  4. 4 1/4 Cup Rice Krispes
  5. 1 Pinch Salt
  6. 4 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chopped
  7. 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter until smooth and evenly combined.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Quickly add the salt and cereal and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the chocolate chips and stir again. Wait about 1 min and add the candy, quickly folding the mixture together so as to not smash up the candy.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop rounded tablespoons onto the sheet. Let cool and devour!
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calories
338
fat
11g
protein
7g
carbs
56g
more
needlesspounds http://www.needlesspounds.com/
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It’s Hard.

They say that losing weight is the easy part, and that keeping it off is the harder challenge. I’m not sure who “they” are, but what “they” say is true. I’ve been struggling in the past days, and I feel it’s my duty to share honestly with you what’s up. Rather than analyze this, let me just state the facts and see, in the end, if some clarity comes from me relaying the facts to you.

    • I’ve lost a lot of weight — over 250 pounds. Much of it came off through the use of meal replacements, but I’ve shown continued weight loss success with “real” food.
    • I’m a huge planner. I keep spreadsheets that I use to plan and guide my food selection and eating patterns.
    • I have a deep-seated need to have accurate records of my caloric intake, my exercise, and my weight. Knowing what I’ve done, what works, and what I can expect is a big part of what keeps me going.  Some people have to have their checkbook balanced to the penny to sleep at night.  I have to have my caloric books balanced.
    • My home was broken into recently.  In addition to the usual items (television, blu-ray player, computer, and cash), items essential to my record keeping were also taken — my bathroom scale and my food scale. For several days, I had no feedback in terms of morning weights.  I have been unable to accurately portion “tricky” foods like peanut butter, yogurt, and berries.  I’ve been a wreck.
    • Not knowing that I’m eating “just right” drives me crazy, and it makes me feel like giving up.
    • There has been considerable feedback from those around me to stop losing weight.  “You’re done.”  “Stop.”  “You’re losing too much.”  “People are asking if you’re ill.”  “Be careful and don’t go too far with this.”  I hear it every day.
    • I chose my goal weight of 180 pounds arbitrarily back when I was closer to 280.  I’ve been shifting my focus from goal weight to goal body composition.
    • As I get closer to 180 pounds, I find that I am not in the shape that I want to be in. My body doesn’t look the way I would like it to. I have a gut. I have skinny shoulders. Some people say I’m too thin.
    • My exercise routine has long consisted of 3 days of cardio (60 minutes) and 3 days of resistance + cardio (60-75 minutes total).  I’ve been in this workout cycle since reducing from cardio+resistance (2 hours per day), which was unsustainable.
    • I’ve cut back on cardio days with the goal of slowing my weight loss while still building muscle.
    • I’ve become “addicted” to hot cocoa, which I believe to be around 25 calories per 8-12 oz cup. I limit myself to 4 of these per day, 2 at work, 2 at home.
    • I’ve consumed a very low sodium diet for quite a while.
    • I have lower than typical blood pressure; I have since losing my first 50-75 pounds.
    • I’ve been getting dizzy more and more lately, especially when I stand up. This happened last summer, too. I upped my sodium then, which upped my blood pressure, and the symptoms disappeared.
    • I had my gallbladder removed recently, which has altered my digestive system somewhat. My bowel movements have slowed in frequency.
    • I find myself getting bored at the gym. I’ve been trying different cardio machines. I like the Arc trainer.
    • My pantry is pretty “safe,” in that there aren’t a lot of foods I could eat that could do serious caloric/metabolic damage.
    • I am traveling for work this week, eating foods that I buy on the road.  The plan is to buy healthy foods at a local grocery store and limit my meals out. I have access to a car, a refrigerator, and a microwave.
    • Since I’m away from home, I’m not going to be back to the weigh-in clinic for a couple of weeks. There’s less accountability here.
    • After finding that I had gained nearly a pound at the last clinic weigh-in before my departure on this trip, I wasn’t in the best of spirits. Knowing this was probably mainly water weight from my increased sodium intake to help counteract my dizziness made me feel a little better. Very little.
    • The stress of having my home broken into, my things pilfered, and then having to be away for an extended period has caused me considerable anxiety.

Putting it all together, here’s one possible narrative that may explain this. After what seems to be an eternity of making good choices and eating right, I’ve lost pounds.  My body, as I perceive it, isn’t what I had hoped it would look and feel like at my goal. I’m almost to the end of the weight loss portion of my journey, and the way my body looks doesn’t make me feel good at all. I’ve decided that if I lose much more weight, I will look emaciated. My gut is going to have to come off through surgery, and that’s going to have to come as the funds become available. There’s nothing that can be done other than waiting. I’ve been good about saving, and I’m over a third of the way there. It is just going to take patience.

In terms of “systems thinking,” I usually change a single variable at a time. Maybe I’ll see what happens if I add in a different kind of protein. Maybe I’ll tweak my gym schedule and see how my weight responds. This week, multiple variables have shifted all at once — number of hours of workout per week, types of foods consumed, uncertain portion sizes, and amount of sodium consumed.  Without being able to keep up with my progress at home, it’s a gamble walking into the weight loss clinic.  I can typically predict within a half a pound how much I will weigh on the clinic scale.  It’s uncomfortable not knowing how my actions are working or not working.

While the multi-variable weight situation would normally be manageable, the stress of the break-in took me from being on the verge of losing control, pushing me to the breaking point.  I don’t feel that I’ve broken down.  I feel that I’ve been on the edge of the cliff with my arms flailing and my footing slipping.  At no time have I laid down face first in a cheesecake.  Many times this week, however, I’ve reached the end of my food budget and said, “I don’t care.  I’m going to eat that banana anyway,” or, “I know how much a portion of peanut butter is.  I can’t know for sure how much I’m putting on this piece of toast, but I know for dang sure it’s more than one portion.”

Because there are so many variables all mixing and mingling to make my weight what it is, it’s impossible for me to say, “It’ll be OK.  You kept your calorie expenditure and intake steady, so this is all water weight from the increased sodium intake.”  I can’t say, “Stopping cardio one additional day a week is too much — see how much it affected your weekly weight change?”  I’m just going to have to do the best I can do and hope my body cooperates.

Where I Stand Today

I’m in a hotel in Hickory, North Carolina.  I did a bit of shopping after checking in, and I’ve set up a little healthy pantry in my room with the goal of continuing my exchange-based meal planning, preparation, and consumption while on the road.  I hope to stick to my existing 1500-1600 Calorie level.  I chose this hotel specifically because it was the only one in my budget with a fitness center.  I intend to resume cardio and resistance training tomorrow.

I.  Am.  On.  The.  Wagon.

I never fell off the wagon, exactly, but my weight is trending in the wrong direction for a number of possible reasons, none of which I can point a finger to as the definite cause.  I am dedicated to reaching a healthy weight, whatever number that turns out to be on the scale, and working to exercise my body until it looks and feels more like what I want it to.

It’s Hard.

Mailbox Monday: Walk It Off

I was visiting with an old high school friend on Facebook when she shared this with me:

Thanks! I was having an especially stressful day and was wanting to turn to food (my lifelong coping skill). I saw your message and I was so encouraged! Instead, I'm going to take my nieces and kids to the Big Dam bridge to have a walk

I had sent Vallon a message the day before congratulating her on her weight loss success, and reminding her that she had been getting results because she was doing the right things.  I had no idea that she had been struggling, but I was delighted to find out that my note had come at the right time.

Please let the people in your life who matter to you know when you see them doing good things.  Sometimes, it’s the smallest messages that make the most impact.  I wrote about a time I was sitting at a banquet table trying to justify eating some cheesecake when the person next to me asked a simple question about my choice in salad dressing.  It was enough to nudge me back on track.  I hope the neighbor wasn’t aware of the vicious battle my inner voices were having with one another at the time.

Good work, Vallon.  Everyone keep those good vibes going.

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Temptation Tuesday: Rolo Cheesecake Bars

Temptation Tuesday was created to celebrate things like this. This is a Rolo Cheesecake Bar, and when I saw it on my friend’s Facebook wall, I nearly licked my iPhone. I have no idea how to healthify this. I’m not sure I want to try. Let’s just look at it, look at the recipe, and then look away. OK? Here goes.

Rolo Cheesecake Bar

Rolo Cheesecake Bars
Serves 12
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616 calories
68 g
116 g
37 g
5 g
22 g
136 g
189 g
52 g
1 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
136g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 616
Calories from Fat 327
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 37g
57%
Saturated Fat 22g
109%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 116mg
39%
Sodium 189mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 68g
23%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 52g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
21%
Vitamin C
6%
Calcium
6%
Iron
8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 3 Sticks of melted butter
  4. 2 (8-oz packages) of cream cheese
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1/4 cup flour
  7. 6 ounces chocolate chips
  8. 4 teaspoons of light corn syrup
  9. 2 packages mini rolo candies
CRUST
  1. Stir graham cracker crumbs, 1 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of melted butter together and press into a 9 X 13 pan lined with non stick foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes and cool.
FILLING
  1. Beat eggs, 1 cup sugar, flour, and cream cheese until smooth. Once smooth, add one package of mini Rolos (the unwrapped one) and pour onto the cool crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool and glaze.
GLAZE
  1. Melt in microwave: 1 stick of butter and 6 ounces of chocolate chips. Stir until smooth and add 4 teaspoons of light corn syrup. Pour smoothly on bars and chill overnight. Cut with a big knife! I added a chocolate drizzle and a half of Rolo on top! Enjoy!
beta
calories
616
fat
37g
protein
5g
carbs
68g
more
needlesspounds http://www.needlesspounds.com/
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