Nov 112014
 

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

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A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

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Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

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The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?

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Nov 102014
 

I had a pretty good weekend. To be honest, the last few weekends have been a struggle for me. The weather was ugly, the darkness was making me tired and I was feeling very distressed about my weight. I was starting to get into the “must restrict” mentality and when I ate something I deemed to be “not healthy” I felt like a failure and would beat myself up about it. All weekend long. One slip-up, even if I hadn’t gone over my calories, felt like I failed. It sucked. It was kind of a dark place to be. I felt resentful of (seemingly) everyone else on the planet that could eat and drink whatever they wanted and not worry about their weight. I felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I actually broke down and bought some clothes in one size up because I was tired of crying every time I put on my pants and they felt skintight.

So that’s where I was the last few weeks. This weekend I didn’t feel like that too much. I was on track with my food. I was feeling more positive. I wasn’t feeling STARVING all the time like I had been for the last month and a half. And I had some good workouts. This was the Warrior Room on Saturday (and I went up in weight in the kettle bells!):

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It was a great workout and I am reminded just how important the Warrior Room routine is to my knee health. I noticed that when I took time off when I was sick, then the wedding, then the honeymoon, my knees started to bother me. But when I go to the WR consistently my knees are happier. It really does show how unbalanced my body is naturally. I need to work extra hard to keep those glutes strong to keep my knees strong!

This was Sunday’s workout — despite feeling a little stiff and sore I was able to get in a 2 mile run on the treadmill before yoga class:

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The yoga teacher seemed to psychically know that I needed extra hip stretching because most of the moves in that particular class worked on the hips (thank goddess!).

I also ate really healthy foods. I wanted to share one of the finds because it was so delicious. Years and years ago I was a vegetarian but I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t eat in a healthy way, I just didn’t eat meat. There also weren’t a lot of options for vegetarians 15 years ago. The faux foods weren’t good and I think the only option was Morning Star, which I’ve never liked.

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I got these veggie burgers at Trader Joe’s on a whim and I’m so glad I did! They were amazing! I loved them. For dinner on Sunday night I cooked up one of these veggie burgers and had some sauteed Brussels Sprouts with onions (cooked in coconut oil) with some cottage cheese on the side. It was a really filling dinner and it was only around 400 calories. I loved these burgers!

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If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I highly recommend you give them a try. I will be buying more of them and working them into my meal rotation. The only downside is that you have to cook them in a skillet. I don’t know if they’d turn out in the microwave, so I don’t know that it would be a feasible option for lunches at work. But on the weekends it would be a great lunch option.

The weather was also really nice on Saturday. I got so much stuff done–a lot of the usual chores in addition to a bunch of yard work (and planted some plants from a neighbor). I also went through a bunch of stuff and got a box and big bag full to donate. Plus, Michael and I took Bella to the dog park.

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(That picture was actually taken by our dog walker in the backyard but it’s too cute not to share.) The dog park was packed with dogs because it was so nice out! Bella had a blast running around playing and chasing dogs and there were two rambunctious puppies (one pitbull and one mutt) that were super spazzy and Bella loved them. They all had the same crazy energy.

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Once Bella was done playing (she stopped paying attention to the other dogs) Michael and I walked with Bella around the park. It’s a huge park with trails and a few different fields, there was even a fenced horse area! Crazy that this huge park is so close to our house and we had no idea.

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It was just a really nice way to spend the afternoon–sunshine, blue skies, fall leaves and a nice walk.

Back to the food. I was under my calorie goal every day for the weekend AND I had some leftover Halloween candy too. It just goes to show that I just do not do well with restriction and moderation is what works. For weeks I tried to restrict and NOT eat any of the foods that I deemed on my “no list”. No pizza. No dessert. No “fun” foods. Just eat whole foods, fruits and vegetables. But denying myself these things just made me want them more and made me feel more miserable and frustrated with my lack of progress. It just goes to show you how much of weight loss is MENTAL.

I haven’t weighed myself to check in for two weeks. I will do it this week and see if I’ve made any more progress.

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