Happy Days Are Here Again!

It’s been almost two months since I sent off our heart rate monitors to get new batteries and be resealed.  It ended up taking that long because the place lost our stuff! 🙁 For weeks I was calling to get an update and find out when we’d be getting them back. The guy finally said he lost them. I was pretty upset by the news and delegated the issue to Michael. I knew I couldn’t keep a cool head. He thankfully called the guy and worked something out. The guy said he’d build us both new heart rate monitors free of charge and send them to us within 10 days.

Well they finally arrived! Just in time for the weekend workouts too. You have no idea how happy I was to get my HRM back. I love that thing. While I got used to working out without it, I don’t like that. I hate not knowing how many calories I’ve burned or if I’m in my heart rate range. I am so glad I have it back.

How I’ve been calculating my calories for the last two months: estimating. If I use a machine like the elliptical I go off what the machine calculates I burned and subtract about 100 or 150 calories from that number. For example, the elliptical typically says 650 calories burned in 55 minutes. I record that as 500 calories.

What I am most excited about is seeing the actual number burned with my heart rate monitor to see how far off my estimations were. I’m also curious about what that number is for spin class!

Saturday morning I went to the gym and started with the elliptical machine. I did about 60 minutes. The machine said I burned 653 calories.

What was the reality? My heart rate monitor calculated a much smaller number. 525!

So I was a bit off in my calculations but it’s not the end of the world. Especially since I’d been UNDERcalculating my weight lifting sessions for the last month. That’s always difficult to calculate without a HRM but I guessed I burned about 100 calories when in reality I was burning about 200. In the end it all evened out.

After my cardio I spent about 40 minutes doing some free-weight routines. Some of them were suggested by Suzanne and they are awesome. I love how the free weight routines wear me out more than using the weight machines. It’s almost like mixing in some cardio into it because of how high my heart rate spikes. Check out my progress photos! I’m so happy with my body right now. I can SEE the results of weight lifting.

Stomach is flatter and toner, my legs are toned (I think from both squats and spin class). I love it!

Time: 1:41
Calories Burned: 745

I finished my routine with a bunch of stretching and abs. I incorporated some yoga stretches for my lower back and calves. My calf muscles have been tight lately. Here is a photo of my progress in real clothes!

Michael and I went out to dinner Saturday night to use a Groupon that was close to expiring. We went to a fantastic restaurant called Iorio. I’ve been there once before for my birthday and the good was amazing.

We split the calamari appetizer, which was probably better than Jake’s (the best calamari in Portland) and Michael got the Caesar salad. I had a few bites of the salad and ordered a glass of Malbec wine. The wine was delicious; light and mild.

Michael got the fresine dish (pasta with fresh parmesan, sauce and sausage). I got the ravioli of the day which came with beef inside and was smothered in a spicy red pepper sauce. My sauce wasn’t spicy though, it was sweet. There were hints of nutmeg and cinnamon and maybe even pumpkin….? My dinner tasted like Christmas! It was fantastic though.

For dessert we split the flourless cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The dessert was kind of a joke. It was teeny tiny! But we split it (so we each got 3 bites?!) and it was pretty amazing. I just wish there had been a little bit more.

It was a really nice date night! Lots of decadent food and delicate flavors and I got to get dressed up a bit to got out with my honey. The highlights of my weekend.

QUESTION: How accurate are you in your calculations?

A Big Mouthful of Poison

Let me preface this post with a warning: there will most likely be ranting involved. Let me also say that it might also sound hypocritical because I lost my weight by eating “diet” food (i.e. processed junk).

Did anyone see the 60 Minutes piece on the “Flavorists” recently? It was about a company called Givaudan, the largest flavoring company in the world. They opened their doors to 60 Minutes and shared their secrets. Secrets that made my stomach turn. Secrets that I had NO idea about. (Read the transcripts here.) You can also watch a small clip of it here.

I hadn’t heard of this company, Givaudan, until I watched the show. Sure in the back of my mind I knew processed food was bad and engineering food was worse. However, it’s easy to ignore these things in your normal day-to-day life.

“Food companies know that flavor is what makes repeat customers. So they commission Givaudan to create what they hope will be a mouthwatering taste. Givaudan may be the biggest multinational you’ve never heard of. The Swiss company employs almost 9,000 people in 45 countries, providing tastiness to just about every cuisine imaginable.”

While I was watching this piece on 60 Minutes, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a company create a cancer epidemic. Of course this is based on nothing because I’m not a doctor, but I find it hard to dismiss the fact that eating a bunch of chemicals could lead to cancer. Seeing how they manufactured “chicken flavoring” was nauseating and it honestly just looked like poison to me.  It makes me wonder about these “flavors” and whether they are tested on lab rats? Is there information out there about the effects on the lab rats?

“It makes you want to eat this again, and again, again, okay? It’s like sex, okay? You know, you want to do it over and over again until you get a headache.”

“Ground zero for the food and flavor industry is the supermarket. Givaudan won’t reveal which brands contain their flavors, but in this aisle, almost every product on the shelves has been enhanced artificially or with so-called natural flavors. And not only that, virtually everything edible in a package, in a jar, or in a can is intensified with either fat, sugar or salt… or, all three of those little devils.”.


Dr. David Kessler, former head of the FDA, asked: “We’re eating fat on fat on sugar on fat with flavor. And much of what we’re eating with these flavors, you have to ask yourself, ‘is it really food?'” GOOD QUESTION. Is it really food? The flavors are false, manufactured. That “natural chicken soup” flavor in your soup is a creation, not really chicken. Dr. Kessler went on to say “We’re living in a food carnival. These flavors are so stimulating, they hijack our brain.”

Do they hijack our brain? Are we a nation of obese people because the food we’ve been eating has these manufactured elements in them that make us addicted to them? So we eat more? The Vice President of Givaudan went on the defense and said  “Our business is to make taste experiences pleasurable ones. So, I don’t think that the flavors create an overeating problem. I think that’s a different issue.”

Hmmm, easy cop-out if you ask me. Although, I don’t think placing all the blame on the food industry is the way to go. Sure I can blame McDonald’s and Burgerville for my obesity but is it REALLY their fault for providing fattening food? No. I drove myself there. I made the bad decision to overeat all the time and not exercise. Sure they enabled that behavior by making the food taste so good but I wouldn’t blame them. It was all on me.

At the same time I am highly disturbed by Givaudan manipulating all food with chemicals. During the 60 Minutes piece all I felt was disgust. Disgust in myself for eating processed food, disgust in myself for not really caring where my food came from. Sure my transformation from a processed-food junkie to a newbie-foodie has enriched my life but I still eat a LOT of processed food. And these “flavorists” have their hands in everything. The soup I eat. The salad dressing I like. The diet soda I drink. It’s even in WHISKEY.

I turned to Michael when the show was over, feeling very overwhelmed and discouraged and said “God, it’s in everything. There are no safe foods.” 

You think eating fruits and veggies would be the answer–but produce has been assaulted as well! Produce is probably genetically engineered. Just take a look at how huge everything is now. The tomatoes I grew in my garden this summer were small, sweet and perfect. They also didn’t last very long. The produce I buy in the store is big, less flavorful and lasts for much too long before going bad.

Who knew I’d want to become one of those types that wanted to grow all my own food and never eat processed, store bought food…I try to limit my processed food intake. I eat less frozen meals, I avoid soy products the best I can. I try and go by Michael’s rule of looking at ingredients and not buying stuff that I can’t pronounce. Am I becoming one of those people that want to live on a farm where I eat only my own food and meat from my farm? I have to admit, the idea is very appealing after watching this show.

QUESTION: Did you see the piece? What are your thoughts on it?