Saturday, August 31, 2019

Noom: Elephant Dialogues--Anxiety

🐘 Elephant: We blew it! Weight loss is hard. We should give up. 😔
🕵️‍♀️ Observer: There is anxiety.
🏇 Rider: Take a deep breath, we know how to deal with anxiety, and we know how to burn off the weight, we've done it before.
🐘: But I RUINED it! ☹️
🕵️‍♀️: There is sadness.
🏇: It's no big deal. You can be sad, you liked having burned all the weight. Now we get to do some more.
🐘: We should EAT. ALL. THE. THINGS. today. We already blew it. 😟
🕵️‍♀️: There is all-or-nothing thinking.
🏇: How about we stick with the things that worked for us before?
🐘: OK. Let's skip eating, and go for a double-long walk. 😬
🕵️‍♀️: There is all-or-nothing thinking.
🏇: I like your spirit, but let's do the simple things we do every morning. Time to do Tai Chi.
🐘: OK. But we got up late. The morning is ruined. ☹️
🕵️‍♀️: There is catastrophizing.
🏇: We don't need to fix everything all at once. We just need to do the next thing on the list. What's the next thing we do every morning?
🐘: Weigh in. I don't want to know. It's going to be bad. I AM BAD. 😬
🕵️‍♀️: There is fortune-telling.
🏇: It is just a number. It will tell us where we are. And we get to update the graph.
🐘: ⚖️ ACK! We are up, A LOT. We ruined our goal. 😟
🕵️‍♀️: There is blame and shame.
🏇: Remember, we anticipated this. We know how to Noom. We got this!
🐘: What's for breakfast? 😋
🏇: We can have a breakfast sausage, eggs, carrots, and potatoes. We need to do a good job logging today. How does that sound?
🐘: Mm. Sausage. 😋
🏇: Great. Now let's meditate and do our yoga, then we can go make breakfast.
🐘: I don't feel like sitting. 😐
🏇: That's ok. You don't need to feel like it. You just need to do it.
🐘: 🧘‍♂️

Backstory: The previous day was an "oops". After walking 16K steps for a thing downtown, I got home hungry, and did my weekly big cook which got me in a cycle or cook a little, eat a little, cook a little, eat a little, .... 
But I still had meals and dessert. 
Then I stayed up late (6 hours later than usual) to watch a live event. I kept snacking on dark chocolate that was my go-to treat for this sort of event.
Good news: I only had one block—‒at a time (3 is a serving). 
Bad news: over six hours I had six blocks. 
So today, I was up (after getting up late) above my 50-pound milestone weight. I could feel the anxiety come on.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Noom it up: Salads

Salads are good; composed salads can be amazing!

My approach to salad construction is to layer in some order:
Fresh greens
Nuts (toasted)
A soft to medium cheese
Grated Hard cheese(s)
A small amount of dressing
Fresh Ground Spice (Coriander, Grains of Paradise, Pepper, ...)

Salads don't need to be boring.
Attending to the contrasts in shape and color, one can make a salad that is a pleasure to look at as well as to eat.

It doesn't add much time. Just prep the ingredients in the order you wish to layer them on the plate, and plate (weigh and log) as you go.
In this salad, I had some nice Feta cheese I wanted to
feature, so I made sure it was the
very last thing, even after the dressing.
If I'm going to spend the calories on
cheese, I want to taste it.
If your salad ends up more of a jumble, that's fine too.

Having many textures and an interplay of savory, sweet, and even some bitter helps keep the salad interesting to the palate. This is where even a few nuts and dried fruits can make a big difference.

Explore unfamiliar combinations: ham and strawberry? Give it a try. Take a hard look at leftovers in your fridge and things in your pantry and ask, "Is there a reason I couldn't use that in a salad?" You may find some great surprises.

Topping mixes can be pre-measured for speed of assembly and logging. Nuts, dried fruits, diced veggies... Anything that will keep and not make the other ingredients funky by the time you use them.

Similarly, greens and firm veggies could be pre-assembled. These make it easier to pull off a grab-and-go salad.

Carrots are one of the core veggies that I use in almost every salad. Since I use so many carrots, I like to prep two or three salad's worth at a time so I can batch the washing, cutting, etc. When in doubt, cut carrots into sticks (quartered down the length, then cut crosswise into a length that works in your storage container).

I try to mix up their treatment.
How to cut them: sticks, match sticks, sliced rounds, sliced sticks (little triangles), cubes....
Where to place them: top, middle, bottom, tossed with the greens, around the outside...

How to dress carrots: I often give carrots a quick marinade in good vinegar (white balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe's is nice if you want to keep the color), some lemon juice, and maybe a little toasted sesame oil, a little wine, port, or cider. Let them soak while you prep the rest of the salad. If you make extra, just keep it in the marinade until ready to use.

While I normally keep fruit in small pieces, if you have something worth showcasing at the peak of ripeness, make the pieces a little larger and give them pride of place: apricots, peaches, strawberries do well in this role.

Let's talk about dressing. My view (as a card-carrying member of the Red Rebel Alliance) is that it is better to have a small amount of a dressing you LOVE than any amount of a dressing that does nothing for you. Having some fresh or canned fruit in the salad further helps reduce the need for dressing by providing some juice.
I use between one and two tablespoons of dressing for a salad.

To minimize the dressing, take the greens and a few other ingredients that like to be well-coated (celery, carrots, ...) and toss just them in 1/2 Tbs of dressing per serving. Assemble the salad and drizzle another 1/2 Tbs on top.

For the greens, it is nice to have some variety, both within a single salad and from meal to meal. I like to wash and spin in a salad spinner enough greens for 4-6 salads and put any unused portion in a container with a little spacer in the bottom so the greens aren't sitting in any liquid that collects.

Red Rebel Alliance:
Count the red calories, and 
make the red calories count!

Nuts, cheese, egg yolks, bacon are all calorically dense (i.e., what Noom calls Red food). That does not make them bad but it does raise a warning flag to be mindful of the portions and if this item is really carrying its weight for you.

If it delights you, feature it, log it, taste it, enjoy it.

A salad does not have to be a whole meal. A smaller salad is a great companion to foods you love, but a reasonable portion size would not be filling. (I'm looking at you, Pizza. Did you know one serving of a Papa Murphy's Family Sized Stuffed pizza is one-sixteenth slice of the pie? True fact.)

When composing a salad, there is room around the outside to be creative: grapes, olives, berries, cherry tomatoes...

Let's talk veggies. Beyond the basic carrots, tomato, cucumber, and celery, the produce section is full of possibilities. Roasted potatoes, beets, fennel root, turnips,  parsnips, radishes, or Brussel sprouts all make lovely additions.

Avocado has a special place for its creamy texture and richness, especially if you are not using much cheese.

Consider Fanciful additions like this little hedgehogs (pork sausage, ginger, salt, with almond sliver spines, baked in the oven). Salads are a great way of having a little of something naughty without blowing the budget, and still being full.

Protein can make a flashy top layer and often provides a nice contrast in color, flavor, and texture.

When I use tofu, I like to marinate it in something to give a little flavor and variety. This works with turkey and chicken breast as well, especially if they are a little dry.

Hard-boiled eggs make an attractive source of protein.

Canned tuna, crab, or salmon are nice to mix things up.

There is no end to the variety.
Salad on!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Noom: Elephant Dialogues--Pizza Day

🐘: Could we have more pizza? 🍕
🏇: We've had our pizza. Wasn't it good?
🐘: It was yummy! 😋
🐘: Could we have more pizza? 🍕
🏇: We can have more tomorrow. Why don't we go brush our tusks so they are nice and clean?
🐘: But that will get rid of the yummy pizza taste. 🍕
🏇: Exactly! Then we get to lift weights.
🐘: That sounds hard. Why not just eat more pizza?🍕
🏇: Did you feel good the last time we finished lifting weights?
🐘: Yeah, it was better once we got started. ☺️
🏇: Good observation. What a good Elephant you are.
🐘: 🏋️‍♂️

Fun fact: a serving of a Papa Murphy’s Family Stuffed Pizza is a One Sixteenth slice — 450 calories
PreNoom I’d have had 8 servings in an evening.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Noom: I Lost Fifty Pounds with Noom

Salad from my first day on Noom
I'm in week 21 of Noom. Noom is an integrated weight loss app that incorporates daily articles, weigh-ins, food logging, daily steps goals, exercise logging, and social support with a group of Noomers who started around the same time, a group coach, and a personal goal specialist.

Most people on the program have a goal of losing one to two pounds a week. I went all-in with the program and have burned off 54 pounds. What drew me to Noom was that it was grounded in science and focused on long term sustainability. You are not on a diet you are focusing on modifying your diet to maintain a modest calorie deficit. Many lessons focus on hunger and the factors that contribute to the sense of fullness and all of the emotions and triggers around eating. Importantly, there is nothing that is off the diet, though you may decide that there are foods that "aren't worth the calories" for you. It's about choices and building better habits.

Adjust my shopping. More fruit, veggies, whole grains
For most of my life, 200 pounds was my hard upper limit that I would make sure never to cross. Then various factors conspired and I took my eye off the ball for a few years and blew right through that limit. For a while, I struggled to stay even, but every couple of years more weight would come on and I would settle into a new normal. When I hit 235 it was like a switch flipped and I was ready to commit to doing what it took, and I found Noom which was just the right approach for me.

50 pounds. Weight I was carrying all day, every day.
I've logged hundreds of meals in a row, walked 9K steps most days, plus one other active activity: weights, yoga, biking, gardening....

I've developed a new relationship with food and hunger.

I am more aware of the triggers within me, and in my environment, and developed tools to respond to them more mindfully and healthfully.

It has helped to focus on limits while avoiding the sense of deprivation. Nothing is "off the menu", though there are some things I've decided just aren't worth the calories.

Foods that I am still eating, but more mindful about portions: pizza, bacon, chocolate, my rich chocolate pudding, chocolate chip cookies, whole milk, cheese, donuts, cheesecake, crackers, chips, pasta, bread, rice, ....

Foods that are making a much larger part of my diet: FRUIT, carrots, potatoes, salads, soup, salsa, whole grains, avocado.