Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Great work on your weight loss!"

TW writes:

Great work on your weight loss! You are well on your way to becoming a fitter person! I have struggled with my fitness for quite some time, and something that has helped me out in the past year is intermittent fasting and HIIT workouts. I found that I was able to lose a lot of the "hard to lose" fat with this method, all while building muscle. If you are interested, I would highly recommend checking out www.drsarasolomon.com. There are a lot of different research articles and books out there, but she has condensed it all (with references) and has a great way of explaining it and keeping it simple. No, I'm not a bot and I'm not a spammer, nor do I work for Sara, I promise! I just see how hard you are working toward your fitness goal and wanted to offer another option that has worked really well for me and wanted to pass it along. :)

Also, I've been following your adventures for a long time and I have to say it takes a lot of courage to admit to a world full of strangers that you failed. Kudos to you.

Hi TW,

I've been looking at a few HIIT workouts on Youtube, but I haven't tried them yet. I can't really make a lot of noise where I'm at right now. I could probably just find a quiet corner in the gym in the gym or something and hog some weights. And it does feel great to be in better shape; still not in perfect shape, but I was pushing 200+ pounds at the time I got of the island. (I honestly don't know exactly how much I weighed. I was too embarrassed to get on a scale.)

As for me failing, it's heartbreaking. That happened a while ago, so it's not that bad. But the worst part is that I'm still trying to get my life on track to this day. I posted a few times about some of my current goals and where I'm at and I wish I had more to share and report on this blog and I really don't -- but I hope I will in the future.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Orange Chicken Recipe (Healthy)

On my quest to be a healthier, better person in 2014, I said I would share a few healthy recipes on this blog. The recipe that I'm going to share in this post is from Nicko's Kitchen and it's my new favorite, simple recipe:


It has some cholesterol from the sesame oil and a lot of sodium from the soy sauce + salt, but it's also completely steamed skinless chicken breast with some veggies. I've already cooked this recipe twice.

The first time I followed his recipe almost exactly and it was pretty good. But what I did the second time was switch the bok choy with asparagus and cut down on the chicken until it was about 2 parts asparagus, 1 part chicken. (I also chopped up my chicken into bite sized pieces instead of leaving the breast whole.) Also, for the last 2 minutes, I tossed in some chopped up cucumber. This keeps the cucumber mostly raw, but heats it up just a little to keep it consistent with the rest of the dish.

The whole process takes literally 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes to cook.

I was able to cook 4 servings of Orange Chicken with $10 of ingredients.

I'm definitely going to be cooking this a lot, maybe once a week.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

175, 174, and dropping.

I haven't posted in about a month, so I thought I would give an update in my 2014 goal of being a stronger, healthier version of myself. Last time I posted, I said I was having a lot of trouble breaking through the 179 pound wall, even with continued diet & exercise. It's definitely getting harder to lose weight, but still feel like I'm making progress as clothes are an easier fit these days and I even had to start tying the draw strings on my gym shorts. I was stuck at 179 for a few weeks, but I continue to build muscle and lose fat overall.

I took a break from the gym for about a week and became even more strict with (what I feel) was an already strict diet. I hit 175 pounds 10 days ago, 174 two days ago, and wouldn't be surprised if I were 173 if I stepped on a scale right now. It looks like I may be able to get down to my 165 goal after all.

Here are the rules I follow for my diet:
  1. Water only. No soda, no diet soda, and no juice. Earlier in my diet this year, I always used to bring home of orange juice with me from the grocery store. The thing is that orange juice isn't necessarily "bad" for you, but you could be doing better by volume by just eating actual oranges. I've read before that the amount of fructose you get in 12 ounces of orange juice is equivalent to eating 7 whole oranges. It won't kill you if you drink orange juice, but you'll be getting a lot more fiber and naturally cut down on sugar if you eat the real thing. So, I just buy and eat a lot more oranges these days, at least 10-15 per week.
  2. Avoid all processed foods if possible. This includes the obvious stuff like frozen dinners, canned food, fast food (with exceptions), and cold cuts. But this also includes things like white rice, tortillas, cereal, and all bread. It's hard to avoid processed foods completely, but I've probably eliminated at least 90% of all the processed food I used to eat.
  3. Cut down on meat in general, but when I do eat meat, it's limited to chicken, fish, and ground turkey. Again, like processed food, it's hard to eliminate it completely, especially when you're eating out with other people or when someone else cooks. But again, for the past few months, at least 90% of all meat I've eaten are either chicken, fish, or ground turkey. When I eat chicken, it's usually skinless, chicken breast. When I buy ground turkey at the grocery store, it's always lean turkey. And with fish? It's hard to go wrong. Fish of all types is generally very good for you. My favorite fishes are probably tilapia and pompano.
  4. Eliminate fried food completely. There are so many ways to cook food that I wonder why it took so long to make the change. Most of the cooked food I eat is either steamed, baked, or grilled.
  5. Subway, El Pollo Loco, and a local Phở restaurant are basically the only places I go for take-out. Subway does use processed meat for their cold cuts, but in general, I think they're pretty healthy. And everything I get is with flat bread and no mayonnaise. "El Pollo Loco" is mainly a California food chain, but I think it's really good because they grill the chicken right in front of you. If I'm only ordering for myself I usually order a "Black Bean Bowl" which is only 340 calories and packed with grilled chicken, black beans, broccoli, avocado, and some salsa. That's one of my favorites.
The rest of my diet is the same as ever. I'm still drinking 1 green smoothie a day and getting in a lot of veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts. I've converted the majority of my fat intake to either coconut oil, avocados, and nuts (a.k.a. the good fats). A lot of other fruits I really like are mangos, watermelons, and cantaloupes. (My taste for mangos in particular come directly from my time in the Caribbean. I ate a lot of them while on the island and I kind of never stopped.)

As far as exercise goes, I took a week off to rest, but then went straight back. I still run a lot and am usually doing 3 sets of 10 of various exercise machines every time I go. The biggest change I made to my routine is to avoid the ab machines completely. I did this after watching a Youtube video (forget which one) where they really explain that the ab machines in the gym are some of the most worthless pieces of equipment you could find, mostly because they are assisting you too much as they cradle your body as you pick yourself up off the ground with other muscles. I'm sure there are some work out stations that can still work for you (mostly the ones that just hold your feet in place), but for the past couple weeks I've been doing all my ab workouts at home.

Last month, I posted a video for an ab workout that I kind of struggled in my first few attempts, which I can now complete without much trouble at all. I'll have to put together a new exercise because my body is getting too comfortable, but the point is that I've made a lot more progress on my own, at home, with a simple exercise mat than I ever did with all the ab machines at the gym.

Anyway, that's my update for my progress. Hopefully, someone out there found this informative and maybe I'll hit 170 if the next couple weeks. It's been getting harder and harder to lose weight, but I think I'll get there if I stick to it.