Skip The Salad?

         

     Yesterday I went over my calorie goal for the first time since the new year. 29 days of successfully limiting my calorie intake to under 1600 a day and yesterday I went over by almost 40o calories? How did this happen? I blame it on the salads.

     I hosted a women’s meeting potluck event at my church last night and I ate just a bite or two each of several salads and a small piece of Weight Watcher’s Peanutbutter Pie. When I got home I looked these salads up on the web and did my best to estimate their caloric intake. The pie was only 120 calories but some of the salad were as much as 270 calories for a 1/2 cup serving. I sabatoged myself with the salad.

     I love Salad. I especially love salad with no lettuce, lots of cucumbers, carrots, onions, cheese, beets, ham, bacon, and ranch dressing. Needless to say, my favorite salad isn’t very healthy for me. So, more often than not, I skip the salad.

     Salads, done right, can be healthy, flavorful, and low-cal options – but only if done right and more often than not they are not. Early in my dieting days I would often choose a salad as my dinner when eating out. It sounded right. You always hear people talk about eating salad when on a diet. I thought it must be the low calorie option and I wasn’t alone in this misconception. An April 2011 Time Heartland article intitled “When Is A Salad Not A Salad” discusses this problem. 

     “Over time, dieters learn to focus on simply avoiding foods that they recognize as forbidden based on product name,” said authors, Caglar Irmak, assistant professor of marketing at University of South Carolina; Beth Vallen, assistant professor of marketing at Loyola University Maryland; and Stefanie Rosen Robinson, a graduate student at University of South Carolina, in a statement [PDF]. “Thus, dieters are likely to assume that an item assigned an unhealthy name (for example, pasta) is less healthy than an item assigned a healthy name (for example, salad), and they do not spend time considering other product information that might impact their product evaluations.”In a series of experiments, the researchers asked participants — some who were dieting, some who weren’t — to evaluate the relative healthfulness and tastiness of foods, and measured those ratings against how much people consumed. In one experiment, people were asked to imagine ordering from a lunch menu and to gauge how healthy either the “daily salad special” or the “daily pasta special” was. They were given ingredient lists and photos of the entrees, which were actually exactly the same — both contained romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, red peppers, pasta shells, salami, mozzarella cheese and a savory herb vinaigrette. Both totaled 900 calories, with 60 grams of fat. The only difference was that one was called a salad, and the other, pasta.

     The label alone was enough to influence the dieters’ — but not the nondieters’ — ratings. When the product was called pasta, the dieters rated it as significantly less healthy than non-dieters did. Interestingly, however, when it was given the “healthy” name, salad, it led to no difference in rating between the two groups. (But, overall, dieters believed the same dish, when called salad, was healthier.)

     As I began to count calories for myself, this truth became aparent. Often a “salad” offered at a resturant would have double the calories and fat grams of a similarly priced and more hunger satisfying meal option. For example, an Applebee’s Bruchetta Chicken Salad sounds healthy but is over 1100 calories while their entire Roasted Sirloin Dinner with portabella mushrooms and creamed spinach is under 550 calories. Is the salad really the better option?

     Clearly some salads are better options than others. The WebMD article Myth or Truth: Salad Is The Best Diet Food compares a couple of resturant salad’s and points out that the “fixins” make the diffrence.

ChickfilA-Chargrilled-Chicken-Garden-Salad

     “Consider: A chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s (loaded with salad dressing, croutons, cheese, and chicken) will set you back 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat. On the other hand, a Chick-fil-A chargrilled chicken garden salad with fat-free honey mustard dressing has only 230 calories and 6 grams fat.”

     Some of the salad’s I experimented with last night seemed harmless. One was bok choy with a clear dressing, some almonds, and a little bit of ramen noodles. It looke harmless but turned out to be over 500 calories a serving. It was awfully yummy but not filling enough to make an entire meal on.

     Many resturant salads also sound like a nutritious choice but then are loaded with topping like croutons, bacon bits, and high fat dressings. When unhealthy main dish meats like deep fried chicken and processed deli meats are poured over lettuce and presented as a “healthy option” you should opt out.  Think before you order. Weigh the options. If possible pre-plan your ordering looking at calorie count online ahead of time.

A personal favorite that I think is filling and every bit worth the 560 calories, Wendy's Apple Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad.

     I don’t want to discourage you from eating flavorful raw veggies in great combinations. Salads can be a healthy, yummy, low-cal choice but watch out for the “add ons”. If you decide you want a delicious salad stick to one that is mostly veggies with lean meat, egg, low-fat cheese, or other healthy options topping it. Choose a low-fat, low-cal dressing or skip the dressing and opt for salsa (available at most resturants and often as little as 10 calories for 1/4 cup) or sprinkle your salad with a little salt and pepper. If you love a creamy dressing and feel it’s a must, order it on the side and dip the tines of your fork in the dressing before picking up the salad. This way you get some of the flavor on every bite, with fewer calories than drowning the whole plate.

     Do you think you can pick a healthy salad option? Click on the picture below to take the Slick Salad Quiz at diet.com to check your diet IQ.

 

Weigh In Wednesday

    

     Weigh in’s! Love ’em or hate  ’em they are part of the weight loss process for most of us. I’m choosing to be optimistic. Woo Hoo! Weigh in Wednesday!

     Why Wednesday? Didn’t the new year begin on Sunday? Shouldn’t weigh in’s be each week starting from 1st? They could be and may be for you. That’s fine. Whatever works best in your life will be great! 

          I’ve decided to do weigh in’s on Wednesday for several reasons. Reason 1 – So I remember. I like the alliteration  Weigh in Wednesday. It makes it memorable and as I age I can use all the help I can get. Reason 2 – I began working toward additional weight loss on the 1st but based on the actions steps I was using I didn’t begin journaling my food intake and exercise until Tuesday the 3rd. Doing a Wednesday Weigh allows me to look back on an entire week of behaviors and evaluate the efforts and results. Reason 3 – Because of our family’s lifestyle the day of the week I am most likely to eat a little recklessly, taking in more sodium, larger meals, or “heavier foods” is Sunday. I don’t want my weigh in to be following the weekend because I think this would be a less acurate reflection of my progress.   Good reasons, huh?

     Yesterday, we spoke about not relying on the number on the scale as the primary measure of your progress. If you haven’t read “A For Effort“, please do so before proceeding to weigh. 

     Here are a few additional tips I wanted to add as we go into this first “Official” weigh in of the new year.

Pointers for Weigh-Ins

1. Weigh at the same time of day.

The fluctuation in morning to evening weight can be as much as 5 lbs. The best time to weigh is in the morning, after your first visit to the restroom and before breakfast.

2. Weigh on the same scales.

Scales aren’t always precise. Similar scales may vary by a few pounds and inexpensive scales are much less accurate. Weighing on different scales can give you a misleading view of your progress.

3. Weigh in the nude or wearing the same clothing.

Clothing brings weight with it. If I weigh in a bathing suit one day and in my hiking boots and jeans the next, those weights are going to be quite different. Weigh yourself, not your outfits.

     Now to step on the scales. Drumroll please.

     I am proud to announce that today I weigh 171. That makes the weekly weight loss total 6.2 lbs! Yay me!

     6.2 lbs for this leg of my 2012  journey and 61 lbs down from my highest weight of 232. Weight is lost one pound at a time. Celebrate each effort and each pound. Some weeks of this longer road there has been no weight loss at all for me, but if I had let that discourage me where would I be? If you don’t like what you see on the scales or haven’t started your journey yet, don’t be discouraged. If I can lose the weight, so can you. One step at a time.

     What did I do to lose this additional 6.2 lbs? Was I starving it off or killing myself for hours in the gym? Not at all.

     This week I was on the treadmill on 5 different days for a total of 9 miles. The goal was 4 days for 8 miles. Some days I could only spare 15 minutes at a time. Those minutes and miles add up. Adding them together, I exceeded my goal.

The weight was lost eating great meals like the one above. P.F. Chang's Pepper Steak With Noodles, Lean Cuisine Chicken Spring Rolls, and Del Monte Mandarin Oranges! Can you say, YUM!

     Looking back over the daily calories I consumed, the lowest intake of the week was 1264 and the highest 1591. My goal range was between 1300 and 1600 calories. I hit a little low a couple of days, but not my much, and still consumed enough to be full and healthy. I did not go over my 1600 calories at all. I feel good about my eating habits this past week.

     I am not new to weight loss, though my eating habits were not monitored as closely over about a 4 week period during the holidays and my exercise was nearly non-existent during this very busy time. My weight went up by 2.2 lbs over the holiday. My primary goal for this first week of the new year was to re-establish good behaviors and make them start to feel like a part of my natural routine again. When I was a teen my mother told me that if you do anything  for 21 days consecutively, it becomes a habit. This is true for good habits as well as bad. After 7 days you and I are 1/3 of the way there. What habits are you forming?

     I have decided to share with you the details of this first week of 2012 weight loss. After seeing the over 50 lbs of weight loss, I have people ask me, “How did you do it?” Here is what I have done this week. It is very consistent with how most of the 61 lbs was lost.

     A couple of small reminders before I wrap up today’s post and add the details of the week. First, let me remind you that I am not your nutritionist, your doctor, or your mother. I am not recommending a specific meal plan or trying to sell you anything. I have come a long way and have some great tips to share. I still have flaws and vices. As you read my food intake, you will see some of them. Among them, I consume way too much caffeine. Shame on me!

      The menus I prepare include a lot of variety, but when my family and I really enjoy something, we sometimes use the same menu more than once or use it with variations. You will see quite a bit of repetition. It was a very busy week and we ended up “unexpectedly” eating out because of special events and invitations from friends. Those days I simply altered previous menus to meet the goals. Another note, beverages are seldom listed. If I have unsweetened tea, coffee, water, or diet soda at a meal these are 0 calories and I don’t bother to list them. I want you to know that are great 0 calorie options. I personally drink all listed above liberally.

     My main objective in sharing the following is to help show that a “normal person” can eat a good diet of common and easy to prepare foods,  exercise in moderation and lose lots of weight. Enjoy your “Weigh-In Wednesday” and let me know how your journey is proceeding!

Cottage Cheese and Fruit Cocktail is very filling, sweet, and yummy!

Daily Journals

Sunday

January 1, 2012

Weight:177.2

Exercise: None

Food: Not Journaled – Family favorite holiday foods in Modest Amounts – calories not counted

Monday

January 2, 2012

Weight: 175.4

Exercise: None

Food: Unjournaled  – no calories counted

Tuesday

January 3, 2012

Weight: 173.8

Exercise: 1 mile on the treadmill before work

Food:

 Breakfast

1/2 cup of Kraft Cottage Cheese                                                                       

110 calories

1 Del Monte Mixed Fruit Cup                                                                               

70 calories

Snack

1/2 cup grapes                                                                                                           

50 calories

1 large cube of pepper jack cheese                                                                    

90 calories

Monster Energy Drink     

20 calories

Lunch

1 cup Select Harvest Sausage and Veggie Soup                                            

90 calories

1/2 cheddar cheese on sour dough bread sandwich                                 

200 calories

Snack

Cheddar Cheese Wedge                                                                                             

90 calories

1/4 cup of grapes                                                                                                      

25 calories

Dinner

1/2 Olive Garden Salad                                                                                        

175 calories

1 Serving Olive Garden Seafood Brodetta                                                   

480 calories

Snack

Zoic Nutrition Drink                                                                                             

100 calories

Daily Calorie Total   for 01/03/2012 =1500 calories

 

One of my favorite meals of the week was the Seafood Brodetta from Olive Garden. I'm so glad I decided to give this a try.

 

Wednesday

01/04/2012

Weight: 173.8

Exercises: 2 miles on the treadmill. One mile before work and one mile after.

Food:

Breakfast

1/4 c Kraft Cottage Cheese                                                                                    

55 calories

1 Del Monte Mixed Fruit Cup                                                                              

110 calories

1 Monster Lo Carb Energy Drink                                                                                         

20 calories

Lunch

1 cup Select Harvest Sausage and Veggie Soup                                           

90 calories

1/2 American Cheese on Sara Lee Wheat Sandwich                                

145 calories

Snack

1/2 cup grapes                                                                                                           

50 calories

Monster Lo Carb Energy Drink                                                                           

20 calories

Snack

1 cup Select Harvest Sausage and Veggie Soup                                            

90 calories

1/2 Cheddar Cheese on Sourdough Sandwich                                           

200 calories

Dinner

2/3 serving P.F. Chang’s Pepper Steak w/ Noodles                                  

280 calories

2 Lean Cuisine Chicken Spring Rolls                                                               

134 calories

1 Del Monte Mandarin Orange Fruit Cup                                                     

70 calories

Daily Total for 01/04/2012 = 1264 calories

Grilled Salmon is quite a treat! Two of my favorite meals this week had this as the main course. At The Farmhouse Restaurant in Christiansburg, I enjoyed it with green bean almondine and rice pilaf. At home we had Gorton's Grilled Salmon, Pictsweet Schezuan Asparagus, and Green Giant Honey Glazed carrots. Tony liked that combination so much that he asked me to add it to next weeks menu as well.

Thursday

01/05/2012

Weight:173.6

Exercise: 1 mile on treadmill before work

Food:

Breakfast

1/4 c  Kraft Cottage Cheese                                                                                   

55 calories

1 Del Monte Mixed Fruit Cup                                                                              

 70 calories

Monster Energy Drink                                                                                           

20 calories

Snack

Emerald Almonds with Cinnamon 100 calorie pack                               

100 calories

Lunch

1 cup Select Harvest Sausage and Veggie Soup                                         

120 calories

1/2 American Cheese on Sara Lee Honey Wheat Sandwich                  

145 calories

Snack

Zoic Nutrition Drink                                                                                             

100 calories

Dinner

Salmon w/ Dijon Butter                                                                                       

586 calories

Green Bean Almondine                                                                                        

130 calories

Rice Pilaf                                                                                                                     

168 calories

Snack

Monster Hammer                                                                                                     

90 calories

Daily Total 01/05/2012 =1584

Tony and Katie did not like this Kashi meal. The lemongrass flavor, Tony said tasted like "Lemon Pledge" furniture polish. I enjoyed it, but it didn't really fill me up. Hungry again soon after finishing I later returned to eat Katie's leftovers. It's not for everyone.

Friday

01/06/2012

Weight: 173.6

Exercise: 1 mile in the evening

Food:

Breakfast

1/2 Sara Lee Everything Bagel with 2 Tbsp Kroger Cream Cheese    

240 calories

5 Strawberries                                                                                                            

20 calories

Monster Lo Carb                                                                                                       

20 calories

Snack

Smoked Cheddar  Cube                                                                                       

90 calories

Lunch

1 cup Select Harvest Chicken Tortilla Soup

110 calories

1/2 Peanut Butter on Raisin Bread Sandwich                                              

175 calories

1/2 Apple                                                                                                                     

40 calories

Snack

Monster Lo Carb                                                                                                       

20 calories

Dinner

Kashi Lemongrass and Coconut Chicken with rice                                  

300 calories

Del Monte Fruit Cup                                                                                              

160 calories

Snack

3/4  Kashi Lemongrass and Coconut Chicken with rice                         

225 calories

Daily Total 01/06/2012 = 1400 calories

I love Activia Desserts Blueberry Cheesecake Yogurt! It's a lot of flavor for the 150 calories invested. Yummy!

Saturday

01/07/2012

Weight: 172.4

Exercise: 3 miles in the evening

Food:

Breakfast

1 pk Quaker Maple Oatmeal, 1/4 apple, and 1/6 c cranberries           

245 calories

Lunch

1 cup Chicken and Dumpling Soup                                                                  

180 calories

1/c Peanut Butter on Honeywheat Sandwich                                             

170 calories

Snack

Cinnamon Almonds, 1/4 Apple, and 1/6 c dried cranberries             

185 calories

Snack

Activia Blueberry Cheesecake Dessert Yogurt                                          

150 calories

Snack

1 cup Air Popped Popcorn                                                                                    

30 calories

Dinner

 Gorton’s Grilled Salmon                                                                                     

100 calories

1/3 bag Pictsweet Szechuan Grilled Asparagus                                           

45 calories

1/3 box Green Giant Honey Glazed Carrots                                                  

75 calories

Snack

Lo Carb Monster Energy Drink                                                                           

20 calories

Del Monte Peaches In Gel                                                                                      

90 calories

Daily Totals 01/07/2012 = 1290 calories

We attended a family gathering where the Colonel did the cooking. I was able to stay within my calorie goals by eating modestly but those fried food calories add up fast.

Sunday                                                                                                                    

01/08/2012

Weight: 171

Exercise: None

Food:

Breakfast

1 Sara Lee Everything Bagel with 1 Tbsp Kroger Cream Cheese         

190 calories

3 Strawberries                                                                                                            

12 calories

Snack

Teddy Grahams Snack Size Pack                                                                      

120 calories

Lunch

1 Beef Taco                                                                                                                 

221 calories

1/2 serving Spanish Rice                                                                                       

90 calories

1/2 serving Refried Beans                                                                                     

75 calories

15 Nacho Chips                                                                                                       

100 calories

1/8 c Salsa Blanco                                                                                                   

185 calories

Snack

Monster Lo Carb Energy Drink                                                                           

20 calories

1 cube Pepper Jack Cheese                                                                                   

90 calories

2 Strawberries                                                                                                               

8 calories

Dinner

KFC Chicken Breast                                                                                               

360 calories

1/2  cup KFC Mashed Potatoes                                                                         

120 calories

Daily Totals for 01/08/2012 = 1591 calories

Teddy helped keep me on track. I just know that snacking on the 120 calorie pack of Teddy Grahams saved me from going hog wild at the mexican restaurant where we had Sunday lunch. "Thank You, Teddy!"

Monday

01/09/2012

Weight: 171.6

Exercise: None

Food:

Breakfast

Taco

221 calories

1/2 serving of spanish rice                                                                                   

90 calories

1/2 serving of refried beans                                                                                 

70 calories

Snack

1 cube of Pepperjack Cheese                                                                               

90 calories

1/2 Apple                                                                                                                     

40 calories

Lunch

1 cup Clam Chowder                                                                                             

170 calories

1/2 Cheddar Cheese on Sara Lee Wheat Bread Sandwich                      

155 calories

Snack

Emerald 100 Calorie Pack of Cinnamon Almonds                                   

100 calories

1 cup of Cantaloupe                                                                                                 

60 calories

Lo Carb Monster Energy                                                                                        

20 calories

Dinner

1 Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish Dinner                                               

300 calories

2 Lean Cuisine  Fajita Style Spring Rolls                                                         

134 calories

Snack

1 Emerald 100 Calorie Pack of Cinnamon Almonds                                

100 calories

Daily Total for 01/09/2012 =1590 calories

The freshness and flavor of Sara Lee breads and bagels make them a staple at the Johnson house.

Tuesday

01/10/2012

Weight: 171.4

Exercise: 1.5 miles in the morning before work

Food:

Breakfast

1/2 Sara Lee Everything Bagel  with 1 Tbsp Cream Cheese                   

190 calories

Snack

1 Beef Taco                                                                                                               

221 Calories

1 Monster Energy Drink                                                                                         

20 calories

Lunch

1/2 Lean Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Fish and Rice Dinner                        

150 calories

1 serving of Schezuan asparagus                                                                   

4o calories

1 serving of Green Giant Honey Glazed Carrots                                           

75 calories

1/2 slice of American Cheese                                                                               

35 calories

Snack

1 Land O’ Frost Turkey and Pepper Jack Rap                                            

230 calories

5 strawberries                                                                                                            

20 calories

Dinner

V8 Red Pepper Soup

120 calories

4 pk of Peanut Butter Crackers                                                                            

80 calories

Snack

Activia Blueberry Cheesecake Dessert Yogurt

150 calories

Snack

Sweet and Salty 100 calorie snack mix

100 calories

Daily Total Calories 01/10/2012 = 14451

 

 

A for Effort

    

     As we go into the first official “Weigh In Wednesday” tomorrow I want us to all stay mindful that though the scales can help us see how we are progressing toward our goal they should not be the only, or even the most important, measure of daily success.

     Weigh-ins are often very encouraging at the beginning of a weight loss effort. After a day or two of dieting and exercise the scales can drop by pounds in a day. However, this rate of change is temporary. If you have tried loosing weight before, you have probably noticed that often the pounds come off more quickly in the first days or weeks and then the rate slows considerably. Why is that?

     Part of the reason is that “water weight” or bloating begins to drop off as we begin to eat in a healthier way and exercise. The water can be lost rapidly. Fat burning, however, is not a quick process. It takes effort and time.  3000 calories must be burned to lose each pound of fat. 1 hour of Zumba or skating burns about 600 calories and even if you cut your daily calorie intake by several hundred calories, losses of a pound a day are unrealistic. In addition, if you have gone from a somewhat stagnant lifestyle to an active lifestyle, you will begin to build muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Building muscle is a good thing. Keep this up! A muscular body burns more calories, runs more efficiently, and looks much better in a bathing suit.(wink)

     The above is not said to discourage. Quite the opposite. If you have seen weight loss be pleased! Celebrate! …but be mindful that as the rate of loss tapers off, that doesn’t mean you are doing something “wrong” or are “failing”.

     I want to encourage you this week to use a tape measure to take body measurements, if you haven’t already done so. Measure neck, bust, waist, hips, and thigh. As you go through the weight loss process and build a leaner body these measurements may prove to be a more effective means of noting your true progress.

     More importantly, I want you to shift your emphasis. Though you will continue to weigh and measure, I want your focus to be not on your perceived progress but on your efforts.

     The body can be unpredictable. Hormones, sodium intake, illness, and many other factors play into what the number on the scale reads. As long as you are eating a healthy reduced calorie diet and exercising at increased rates or frequency, you will lose weight. Start to measure your success not in pounds but in minutes, miles, and calories. Go back to your action steps. Review your journaling of calories or points or carbs or whatever you are using to measure your food intake. Take a look at what activities you finished from the blog suggestions. Did you write down what exercise you did?

     Each day that you met a goal give your self an A+! Seriously! Really! Right Now! Go to your journal and use a red pen or marker to give yourself an A.  Did you not meet the goal entirely? Give yourself a comment. “Good try!” “Getting Closer!” “Lots of effort!” Did you at least mark your results? Give yourself credit for that, too!

     When my kids were little I began to purchase stickers to encourage them in their chores. I liked the stickers, they were fun! I bought more for all sorts of reasons. I put them on envelopes, packages, in school lunches. I still have a bunch of those stickers. I have gone back thru my journal and have added stickers to celebrate success! Stickers that say things like! Awesome! Way to Go! You did it! I even have gold stars for extra special efforts!

     Got stickers? No. Got $1? Pick some up at Dollar Tree or Walmart. Learn to celebrate yourself, to give yourself credit for your efforts! Consistent effort IS an accomplishment and will lead to success!

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