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.

veggie-protein

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.)

eggs

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.

peanutbowl2

 

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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Sep 302014
 

A friend posted this article on Facebook and I clicked over to read the article–expecting something else entirely. What I read was the complete opposite of what I was expecting and I found myself saying “YES! I feel the same way, too!” several times. Here is that article: 5 Things I Miss About Weighing More Than 300 Pounds. Take a look because it’s a really well-written post.

She listed a few of the things she missed about weighing over 300 pounds. The first was power. I had to laugh because I could relate to that as well. When I was 250+ pounds I, too, was stronger in a lot of ways. My girth made my calves and quads pretty strong because it was supporting my weight but like this author, I could also move heavy furniture or help people move heavy things and it was no big deal.

“Being fat gave me natural physical strength. As a thin person, I have to go out of my way to be strong. Despite daily strength training I’m nowhere near as powerful as I used to be. Once upon a time I could confidently lift a couch into and out of a moving truck (a U-Haul, not a truck in motion — being fat never did give me super powers). Today, I labor under the weight of heavy things.”

I lift weights and I do what I can to build up my strength. While I’ve made leaps and bounds, I’d be lying if I said a really really strong wind couldn’t knock me over. If someone pushed me as a joke, I would seriously stumble and possibly fall (and have a few times) which is such a huge difference from when I was 250 pounds and couldn’t be pushed over. It’s a very strange idea to suddenly feel like you are “frail.”

chicago2

This next observation hit really close to home for me, especially right now with trying to lose the last few pounds before my wedding. It’s about weight fluctuations:

“When I was fat I understood that most weight changes are fleeting and insignificant. At 300 pounds, I wore clothes forgiving enough to accommodate ten pounds lost or gained, so I didn’t think much of it. Sadly, going from a size 6 to an 8 makes me nuts in a way that going from a size 26 to a 28 just never did. I miss the freedom I once had from noticing and obsessing over Every. Single. Pound.”

I admit, I teared up a little bit with that one. She expressed just how I feel (often) and it’s hard for people to understand who haven’t been obese. When the scale starts to tick up and I feel a little down because of those few extra pounds, most people don’t understand why I feel stressed or depressed about it. They say, but you’ve lost so much, it’s not a big deal. Or they say, you can lose that weight in no time! Not true, losing weight at this stage is much harder and WAY slower than it ever was when I was overweight. It takes twice the amount of work and diligence to see even 1 pound gone on the scale.

chicago1

I would also add this to what the author said–clothes fit differently now. When I was over 200 pounds I wore bigger clothes because I was bigger, obviously, but “plus” sized clothing is just built differently. It’s baggier. It’s usually got some elastic in the waist. So you don’t always notice when you go up a bit. Now? When my size 6 jeans start to feel a little tight I feel it immediately. Clothes that I buy at this weight are obviously smaller and form-fitting. When that pesky 5 pounds appears you can see and feel it!

What about this one?

“When I’m lying on my side, the feeling of knee bone on knee bone is enough to keep me up all night. I could write a whole post about how awful it feels to sit on a hard surface with a bony butt. Tail bones and hard seats: never the two should meet. “

Yep, yep, yep. I am so freakin’ bony. Seriously, I thought I was the only one that felt this way and reading that this woman experienced the same exact thing made me sigh with relief a little. I wasn’t alone. When I lay in bed at night, on my side, my knees bug me because they feel like just two knobs rubbing against each other. Russian Twists? Forget about it. I can’t do that exercise unless I have a little padding under my butt (be it a towel or pad at the gym) because it hurts my tailbone so much.

az1

This last observation is something I’ve written about in the past. I had a few surprising twists with friendships and relationships as I was losing my weight. But you don’t expect that it will actually happen…

“Starting and maintaining friendships was easier when I was fat. Women rarely saw me as a rival and were less self-conscious than they are around me today.”

I dated someone who tried to sabotage my weight loss every chance he got. I lost a few friends along the way that just couldn’t be happy for me, for whatever reason. The good news? I also found out just how encouraging and how supportive friends and family can be. They helped me reach my goal and gave me positive feedback that kept me going when it was really hard.

Something else I’d add to this topic…One of the things I miss about 250 pounds is being unaware. I have no idea anymore what it feels like to be carefree, worry-free and easy going when it comes to food. It’s too late to turn back. I already know how many calories are in most foods. I can take a look at something and while the Demon on my shoulder is saying Oh that looks so great EAT THAT! The Angel on my shoulder is reminding me how hard I worked to lose the weight and just how many calories are in that. It kind of takes ALL THE FUN OUT OF IT.

I talk a lot about moderation and not denying myself foods–just being smarter about what I eat and paying attention to portions. But damn, sometimes that SUCKS. Sometimes you do want to eat some ice cream and not regret it!

skinn1

Do I regret losing the weight? Hell no. I’m happier and healthier and living a life closer to my values than I ever did before. I cherish what I can do now. I feel proud of the events I’ve participated in and I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep the weight off for 6 years now. The problem is–there’s no manual for weight loss. Not really. No one tells you the changes you’ll go through, the issues you’ll come across. There aren’t any self-help books out there about how to adjust your brain and thinking after losing a massive amount of weight (I know, I’ve looked). It can be very isolating. I am the only person on the planet that feels like this…Yet, this article spoke to me in ways I didn’t even have on my radar. For that I am so grateful. I’d love to hear what experiences other people have had too!

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