Three Things Thursday: Alyssa’s Wellness Check Up

Hey everyone! Is today your Friday? It’s mine, and I’m so psyched to head out to Paso Robles with Matt for a quick trip. I first explored Paso Robles on Fitcation, and I can’t wait for some hiking, hot spring soaking, and olive oil tasting.

I had a couple random things about my health I wanted to tell you about, and because “Random things about my health I wanted to tell you about” doesn’t seem like a very good blog title, I decided to add some alliteration (copywriter’s favorite) and call it Three Things Thursday. So without further ado, here are three things on my mind this Thursday about wellness, health, weight loss, and my general state of being. In the spirit of full Alyssa disclosure, I did receive complimentary Blue Diamond almonds for free in exchange for discussion :)

1) About two weeks ago, something clicked for me that to be my best self, I need to be active every single day. I decided to make a small promise to myself — on days I wasn’t doing yoga, cardio, walk training, or hiking, I needed to walk at least one mile every day. That doesn’t sound like much, but on days when I literally walk only the distance from my bedroom to my kitchen, it will help. I ended up racking up about 14 miles over my weekend in Savannah, and I’ve come to realize how much I *like* walking. Especially when I can be with a friend, sight seeing, or talking on the phone — walking is a very calming thing! I’ve been making good on my promise, logging at least 1.6 miles consecutively every day for the past four days, and tonight, my Yoga Meltdown dvd from Jillian Michaels. Hooray for change!

2) Another thing has clicked for me, and that is that I don’t eat enough. Let me rephrase that. There are times when I eat too much. But then, there are times where I eat only my three square meals (or worse – I skip), and for someone with near PCOS insulin resistance, that’s no good, because hunger makes me cranky, shaky, and anxious. I’ve turned into the girl who carries a snack in the back pouch of her purse – something small, like a Health Warrior bar, or lately, Blue Diamond Almonds. You guys know about my love/hate of almonds – I am sad to admit that on their own (raw, unsalted), I’m not a fan. But dress them up in sexy clothes like Rosemary Black Pepper, Smokehouse seasoning, Coconut, or Blueberry, and I’m all good. These in particular taste like Fruity Pebbles! I’m down. So down — they taste like junk food with minimal sugar — and how patriotic, red, white n’ blue almonds!

IMG_0102

3) I’m stating here for accountability that in addition to being active every day and eating more regularly, I also need to get back to taking my vitamins. I’ll do really well for a few months and then get super lazy. Lately, I’ve noticed I’m battling some day time fatigue — just a general sense of low energy. Well — I forgot about my ridiculously low Vitamin D levels, and then remembered the fact that I haven’t taken my vitamin D in… oh, several months. DUH. So now, all my vitamins are stacked up eye level on the bathroom shelf, staring at me every day. I’m taking a high quality women’s multi, Vitamin D, Biotin, EPA, and soon, some Horsetail extract to help with the tons of hair I lose (thanks, PCOS).

4) I lied — I have four things to tell you about. I got mentioned in a rap!!! My awesome friend Dre from Mission Meltdown celebrated Fitbloggin’s birthday by creating a hip hop blog soup. You’ll hear an Alyssa shout out mid way through. I’m so sad I missed this in person – I was running late for the key note session because I had just come back from a long 5 mile walk of Savannah and needed to get a shower in. I’m so glad it’s on video. Watch for my Fitbloggin recap soon, in addition to a fun giveaway for you all for some non-GMO, non-chemical stevia SweetDrops, a natural soda replacement.

HAVE AN AWESOME FOURTH OF JULY!

xoxo

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

The Double Chin Diary ExpoWest Recap

Hi there! I had a fantastically busy weekend, which combined with the time change, has me doing a little bit of yawning. but I’d rather be tired and busy than tired and bored, ya know? On Saturday, I picked up the fabulous AJ from Confessions of a Fat Girl and we were on our way to Anaheim for ExpoWest, a natural food and product show with over 2,100 exhibitors and last year, over 63,000 attendees. I had a list of brands I wanted to connect with based on previous reviews here on the DCD, but I also had a few new ones I wanted to meet. Below are some of my favorites from the show, and stay tuned in the next few weeks for some reviews and giveaways for you. I promise, there’s some good stuff comin’! (Note: I’m writing this post of my own desire. This is not sponsored in any way, though I did eat my way through most of these booths on free samples!)

IMG_0048

Alyssa’s personal heaven with Jeff’s Naturals.

1) You guys know how I love olives. A relatively new joy of mine, I embraced the olive when I first went low-carb and was looking for something deliciously salty without any sugars. I started with Kalmata olives and then graduated into the green olives, and finally found my briny passion, the Castelvetrano. I splurge every now and then on a tub of them from Whole Foods, but the price point makes me try not to go wild on ‘em. I always thought Whole Foods Castelvetrano were the cream of the crop, but I was wrong — it’s the Castlevetrano olives from Jeff’s Naturals. These things are buttery, nutty, rich and delicious! They were kind enough to send me home with a jar and I actually sent an awkward selfie of myself and the jar to my husband with the caption “day made.” Even cooler? It was a happy coincidence when I noticed the company is based in Petaluma, which is where I grew up! I’m hoping we can do a giveaway soon, because you guys have to try these. Deeeelish! (The jar is already half gone. For reals. I have an olive problem!)

2) Remember how I had a weird fear of ‘fish burps’? They were enough to keep me away from fish oil for a long time, and I finally got over it after trying some Nordic Naturals on Fitcation. For the past few months, I’ve been diligently taking Nordic Naturals Omegas. The reasons for wanting to take omegas are plenty; they reduce inflammation in the body, can help lessen stress and anxiety, improve arteries, lungs, joints and bones… all good stuff. While you pay a little more for a premium fish oil brand like Nordic Naturals, when researching fish oil and learning about how the oil is harvested, I’m happy to plunk down a few more coins for a fantastic fishy experience rather than something that just stinks like a dead fish. The folks at Nordic Naturals dressed up me up in this lovely Gone with the Wind get up, and then I got to try some of their new products, like gummy vitamin D-3s, which are mixed berry flavor.

IMG_0043

Did Scarlett O’Hara like Omegas?

3) You know I couldn’t go to ExpoWest without paying homage to the ruler of the snack world… POPCORN! I had to stop by and give some love to SkinnyPop, who have recently introduced a black pepper, cheddar, and sweet popcorn to their mix. The cheddar popcorn was my desired crunch snack of choice during the trafficky drive home. Thankfully I had yummy corn and AJ’s fantastic rendition of “Let It Go” to keep me from going bonkers at 10 miles per hour. I also popped my top for:

  •  Pop Gourmet, who had a mind-blowing parmesan garlic popcorn and SRIRACHA POPCORN! Respect the rooster! They also had a “Rogue Blue” blue cheese popcorn which I didn’t try (was trying to conserve my belly space), but rumor had it it was pretty fantastic.

    PopGourmet's offerings include Sriracha, Garlic, Kale, and many more!

    PopGourmet’s offerings include Sriracha, Garlic, Kale, and many more!

  • Quinn Popcorn, which has a notable new snack in that its the first “do it yourself” organic microwave popcorn with cool flavors (hello, herb and olive oil). The paper microwave bag is fully compostable, and after you pop the corn, you toss it with the included oil packet and then add the seasoning packet. I got to meet the founder of the company, and I loved that he started the company with his wife, and named it in honor of his son Quinn.
  • Kettle Pop, which started as kettle corn in Farmer’s Markets and is now packaged. This corn is 100% organic and has a lovely lightly sweet, fluffy taste. I have a couple bags in my pantry now and I love that they come in 100 calorie packs — giving me my popcorn fix without the “Oops, I just ate 1,200 calories worth of popcorn in one sitting” problem. (True story.)

There were a bunch of other popcorn peeps I missed, but that’s ok — I’ll catch them next time, when I haven’t eaten 10,000 olives.

4) I was on a mission to discover new teas, and discover, I DID! Did you guys know Numi makes savory teas, in wild flavors like Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice and Beet Cabbage? I tried both the Carrot and Fennel, and it wasn’t bad at all. They reminded me of broth based soups. Not necessarily what I’d go for for my cuppa, but as a pairing to a meal, I could definitely see it working. While I’m a little more traditional with my tea, I loved the creativity of it. I tried a super yummy Cacao Earl Grey, and I need to get my hands on some “Emperor’s Pu-Erh”, which was a really earthy, full-bodied tea that some use as a coffee alternative. Mighty Leaf also opened up my eyes to some delicious Arnold Palmer recipes, in addition to their organic African Nectar.

4.5) Some other notable people I met with that I can’t wait to learn more about? BioRay, who has a detox product I’ve been using for quite awhile that I love and will share about soon, New Chapter, which are vitamins you can take on an empty stomach, and Oregon’s Wild Harvest, high quality organic vitamins and tonics.

5) The best thing about ExpoWest wasn’t the things: it was the people! I was so happy to get to meet my friend Jody from Truth to Being Fit, and then catch up with my pal Annabel from Feed Me, I’m Cranky, Monica from My Life is a Journey, and Angela from Nine More Months. It’s always so wonderful to see the faces of people you interact with all the time online. Hugs just aren’t the same virtually :)

 

 

IMG_0054

Top left: Me and AJ from Confessions of a Fat Girl. Top Right: Angela, Monica and Me. Lower Left: Me and Jody. Lower right: Me and Annabel.

So as you can see — ExpoWest was a fantastic whirlwind experience. I have no idea how some people do it for four days — after one day and 11,000 steps, my dogs were barkin’ and I was ready to sit on my duff and eat popcorn and olives. However, I didn’t have much rest before my next adventure… waking up at 4:00 A.M. to bring my husband to the Los Angeles Marathon! Stay tuned for the next post about his courageous 26.2, and I’ll be talking to you soon. Have a wonderful day!

 

All or Nothing

Hello! Can you believe it’s November already?! I can’t. It feels like just yesterday that 2013 was starting and I had all the hopes in the world of being at my goal weight by the end of the year. Well, erm… *scratches head* So maybe that hasn’t happened, yet, but in all reality, some things just take time. More time than you imagine. But, I digress.

Today I want to talk about “All or Nothing”, or, what happened to me with food this weekend! The past few weeks I had done a Doublechindiary_popcorngood job eating low-carb. I did meal prep for breakfasts, making scrambled egg whites and pan fried lean chorizo. I ate salads with chicken for lunch, drank water and snacked on persian cucumbers. Sadly, since I’m scaleless, I have no idea if I lost weight. I need to schedule a follow up with my doctor and can weigh in then. I was on track!

Then, Halloween came. That meant pizza with friends for dinner, and a few Almond Joys accidentally fell into my mouth. Halloween passed and I resolved to get back on track to the low-carb eating. Instead, we went out with friends to Dia de Los Muertos, where Matt and I split three tiny tamales. Not satiated by the corn husk wrapped burritos, I smelled the unmistakable smell of popcorn, a treat that had eluded me for the past few weeks, as buttery corn doesn’t really fit into a low-carb lifestyle.

Hunger and the thought of “a treat” got the best of me, and I was in popcorn heaven. We hung out at the festival for a few hours longer, then went to a 24 hour diner where Matt and I split a cheeseburger and onion rings. Thankfully, I was too full before I could do major damage on the onion rings.

I forgave myself for my few days of foodie misgivings and vowed to get back on track today. But then, I saw the open box of Count Chocula and said I’d “start tomorrow”. How could I tell myself that after last week’s blog?! Haha. But, these few slip ups have reminded me of why a low-carb diet will probably be my key to success. When I can’t have a certain food group (in this case, sugar or bread), I stay away from it. It’s All or Nothing. Where I get into trouble is when I am eating a little bit of everything, and trying to pretend that I’ll have the power to say no. Tomorrow is a new day, and it’s back to the low-carb lifestyle. No sugar, no bread, no onion rings. And that’s ok. Because it’s not that I’ll never be able to have them ever again; it’s just that I’ll do better refraining entirely for the next little bit of time. I’m not sure how I’ll navigate the holidays, but I’ve noticed I feel better on low-carb. More energy, less stomach issues, and hopefully, less bloating and weight gain.

Do you notice when you splurge on something (and it doesn’t have to be food), that’s it’s ALL or NOTHING?

 

Crash n’ Burn: Navigating Highs and Lows of PCOS Insulin Resistance

All last week, I did a commendable job staying on my low-carb eating plan. My lunches were things like turkey breast, string cheese and crunchy persian cucumbers. I had raspberries with a drizzle of cream for dessert. I stuck to perrier and water (ok, fine, the occasional Diet Coke) and even managed to stay away from the yummy cookies at work. I could feel this eating plan working. Slowly, the “wheat belly” that I so often have, de-puffed, and I could feel my jeans getting a little looser. I was feelin’ good. Then, I got busy. Really busy. Busy enough that I didn’t notice yesterday that I had only eaten two egg whites, some chorizo, and a few persian cucumbers. It was 6:00 pm, but I knew I was heading to a party where I could eat there, so I held out on eating. I felt kind of shaky, but knew I was just hungry. I got to the party and there weren’t many low-carb options, so I had tortilla chips, a piece of chocolate cake, a few chocolate raspberry sticks. Towards the end of the party, my stomach started doing that rumbling that only makes you think “Uh-oh… I need to go home!”. Sure enough, I got home and immediately regretted my lack of planning. Not fun. But I forgave myself, went to sleep and moved on, knowing that tomorrow would be a new day to plan better.

Lofthouse Sugar Cookies — Image from TriadCouponing.com

You’d think I’d learn after all that. But apparently I didn’t, because I started my day today with scrambled eggs and bacon. A few hours passed. I kept working on freelance projects. I didn’t eat. We stopped to go to an open house, and there they were, on the table: my crack. Other than movie theater popcorn, there’s something about these disgusting, fake, sugar-y cookies that rocks my world. Before I knew what was doing, my hand was wrapped around one, and the first powdery bite was in my mouth. Mmmm. mmmm. nom nom nom. The house wasn’t a good fit for us, but that cookie felt like a sugar vacation. The texture alone was carb-tastic, enough to rock my world into a hypoglycemic rush of sugar and glucose. I felt fine, as we made the not so smart decision to get frozen yogurt. We got frozen yogurt; my favorite, coconut yogurt with dark chocolate chips. I made it through half when I started getting the heebie-jeebies. I felt nauseous, tired, warm and just GROSS. It took me a little while to figure out what was going on. I was crashing. My body has adjusted in the past week to being a lean, mean fat burning machine. Very few carbs have passed my lips. All of a sudden I went from practically carb-free to carb-overload. I can’t do this to my body anymore. I need to plan. I need to focus on being prepared for the weekends, when all bets are off, when sometimes, yep, I sleep till 11 AM and skip breakfast. My how the times have changed, when weekends used to be binge-fests. Now I’m not eating enough, and not often enough.

I think this year has been an interesting one in terms of learning why my body does what it does. A large part of that is realizing and recognizing that I have insulin resistance, a happy little side effect of PCOS. There’s a reason my doc put me on metformin; to help me process sugar the way a normal person would. If I’m eating a low carb diet, my body doesn’t have to deal with the huge blood sugar highs and lows that my usual diet causes. Now, I keep the blood sugars happily in the middle with a low or reduced carb plan. By eating the party food and cookie, I basically shocked my system. It wasn’t fun. This week, I need to take better care of myself. My deadlines and projects will only be excellent if the person working on them is also feeling excellent. Who’da thunk that a few little carbs could so drastically affect my blood sugar balance? Beyond sugar and carbs affecting the way I feel, I need to be more mindful of this, as my insulin resistance puts me on the fast track towards diabetes. While my fasting blood sugar tests are all still great, as I’ve seen this year, my body is a fickle, delicate little (or not so little) thing. I need to take better care of myself by taking better care of my food.

Do you find that when you eat really sugary things, you get either a “crash”, or feelings of hyperness? Which is it? I think I can now confirm I’m definitely the “Crash n’ burn” type of gal!

 

Appreciating my appetite

Many moons ago, I explored acupuncture, hoping to have an answer to my weight problem, allergies and stress. Before my first session, I remember the acupuncturist was very interested in my appetite. I answered like I usually do when someone asks me how my appetite is, “It’s big.” What the acupuncturist said next surprised me. She said I should be grateful for a good appetite, because many people struggle to eat on a daily basis. That blew my mind. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve ever experienced a bad appetite, and now, one of my telltale signs of being too stressed is when I’m not thinking about what I’m going to eat next. There’s the type of stress that makes me want to cram everything crunchy into my mouth, and then, when I get really spastic, I don’t want anything to do with food. Thankfully that doesn’t happen too often anymore now that I’m learning stress management techniques in therapy, but isn’t it interesting that an appetite is actually something to be grateful for? You could have a lack of appetite from illness, or just never really be hungry. I can’t imagine it!

One of my coworkers once told me if there was a pill he could take instead of having to eat three square meals, he’d do it in a heartbeat. He found the whole act of eating annoying — the cost, the preparation, the time factor, the having to chew it. When he said that I was shocked, because I find unreasonable joy in food — the preparation, the smells, the tastes, the textures, the social aspect. In fact, one of the positive parts of the detox was that I cooked a lot, roasting vegetables, pureeing fruits, experimenting with new squashes. I love food, beyond just the taste and the fact that it fuels me, but how it’s a hobby, a learning experience and a form of medicine.

My husband has a healthy appetite, I’d say, but it’s nowhere near as robust as mine. I’m usually the one finishing my meal at restaurants when he diligently takes home half. My mother is the same way; she can out eat most grown men any day of the week. I’ve moved past the shame factor of having a big appetite because there’s really nothing to be ashamed about, as long as you stop when you’re full and eat things of reasonable nutritional value. However, my big challenge is always “Am I finishing this because I’m still hungry, or am I finishing it because I feel like I should?” It’s these things that are important to realize about appetite, learning how to fine-tune it to keep it in control, to acknowledge the differences between hunger and emotional eating. It’s an art I’m still working on.

How would you rate your appetite — big, small, non-existent? Do you see what I mean about learning to appreciate your appetite?

Diet to Go Week Three!

Hello everybody! Let’s start off with some good news – Elisabeth G. won the KalorieBox Giveaway! Congrats, Elisabeth – watch for an e-mail!

I wish I could start this week’s post with another awesome weigh in like last week (Remember, 3.7 pounds?!), but unfortunately, it’s one of those times of the month *cringe, I know, this is awkward* and evidently my body is acting like a camel (ie so much water floating around my body I could hydrate an army). So we’re just going to skip the weigh in this week to give myself a couple days to um… dry out. (I weighed in and I’m up a couple pounds from last week – but I’m staying optimistic and know that I’ve done the work I need to do, and as KJPugs says, you always get the week you deserve eventually!) But on the positive side, I am still absolutely loving this week’s Diet to Go meals! This week was a mess of meetings, appointments and deadlines – so I was happy to see that the meals are truly “to go”, especially when I scarfed a smoked chicken sandwich in between stop lights as I drove to an offsite meeting. You can see photographic proof of that, here.

Diet to Go Omelet Pomodoro

Diet to Go Omelet Pomodoro

I had a lot of favorites, food wise, this week. Let’s talk about breakfast. Several years ago before I started this whole get healthier thing, I never ate breakfast. But now, it’s like “Whee! I get to eat!” when I wake up. Diet to Go has mastered the use of cheese and tomatoes when it applies to eggs. Today, I had this amazing omelet pomodoro (220 cals) – a basil spiced omelet with cheese oozing out of the middle and sicilian flavored asparagus tips. This breakfast was amazing – I even forced my husband to taste it as he was walking out the door to go to work.

Yummy Grilled Cheese French Toast from Diet to Go. Note the Fitbloggin post-its!

Yummy Grilled Cheese French Toast from Diet to Go. Note the Fitbloggin post-its!

Here’s one of my fav lunches from the week – a french toast style grilled turkey cheese sandwich with apricot pudding and a mushroom artichoke salad (560 cals). The apricot pudding was more like ice cream, and the bite I had of my mushroom artichoke salad was refreshing and tasty.. but then I couldn’t eat the rest because my cat licked the bowl and stole a mushroom out of it. Since I’m not a fan of sharing my meals with cat-breath (do you KNOW where they lick?!), I disposed of the artichoke mushroom salad but happily nommed on the rest.

Black Bean Soup and Pretzel from Diet to Go

Black Bean Soup and Pretzel from Diet to Go

This lunch is easily another one of my favorites- see that little pretzel there? I would like to raid the pretzel factory that makes me, because I’m pretty sure I could just lay in my bed and eat soft pretzels all day and be perfectly content. Add an iced cold raspberry lambic and I’m in heaven. Booze, carbs and bed… what could be better?! Anyways, I’m off topic. This lunch was super yummy because it’s something I wouldn’t normally pick for myself but I really enjoyed it. The black bean soup had a nice spicy touch, with lots of smokiness (probably from cumin), some juicy strips of bell peppers, and a lightly salty broth. I dipped the pretzel in it and enjoyed a peach pudding for my dessert. This meals comes in at 700 calories but includes a string cheese which is not shown here since I saved that for a snack. The thing is, when you look at some of the calorie counts for the meals, your instinct might be “My god! That’s a lot of calories!” but when you factor in the portion sizes and the fact that you’re pretty much full all day long, it all equals out. I’ve actually ended up coming under calories a lot in myFitnessPal, simply because I’m too full to eat the “extra” like the string cheese or yogurt that comes with the meals.

Diet to Go Turkey Dinner

Diet to Go Turkey Dinner

This meal does not photograph beautifully, but it was delish! Has anyone ever tried the SmartOnes Turkey and Gravy Dinner? It used to be a favorite of mine, but now that I’ve had this one I can see that was a weak favorite, for sure. These mashed potatoes were REAL – no instant junk here – and the turkey was lightly seasoned with a simple brown gravy. This was truly a comfort food meal.

If you’re interested in trying Diet to Go for yourself, check out their website here. You can use coupon code FEB15PERCENT to save 15% off any meal plan, and you can also enter next week for your chance to win a week worth of free meals!  /

Does anybody have any questions about Diet to Go? Have at it! :)