Discovering the ingredients of our food – By April

One of the most valuable things I learned while working at the women’s gym years ago was about nutrition and the way our bodies process our food.  I never really thought much about what went into the food I was eating.  Cheese could come in powder form within a dulled silver bag and I would eagerly dump that package of happiness into my already melted combination of milk and butter.  I would slowly stir my sauce and watch the electric orange color of the cheese slowly fade into a golden and buttery sunset over the ebony darkness of the pan.  Oh Kraft, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.  Literally, because I bet a few of my overweight pounds are thanks to my adoration of Macaroni and Cheese.

My nutritionist taught me the art of reading labels and how our bodies respond best to products with the LEAST ingredients.  As in applesauce that is made of apples or peanut butter that is made from peanuts.

For example,  here are the ingredients of a popular peanut butter brand: ROASTED PEANUTS, SUGAR, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN AND RAPESEED) TO PREVENT SEPARATION, SALT.

The same company that makes that particular peanut butter also makes a “natural” version that lacks the funky hydrogenated oils but still has added sugar and palm oils.  If you spend some extra time checking out the other brands, you’ll probably find a peanut butter than only consists of peanuts.  It might cost more but it could end up helping your health which to me, is very worth the extra $1.

Once I learned to cut out the products in my life that had ingredients like hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, my health dramatically increased.  I suffer from heartburn and on the days I manage to go without anything that has either of these food additives, I don’t get heartburn.    Plus, once I lost weight the heartburn was one of the quickest things to go as well.

I also discovered that products made with aspartame and other sugar substitutes seemed to have a direct correlation to these weird headaches I would get.  They were very particular and unlike any other headache I had before.  I noticed this problem when I was drinking a light lemonade every day for four days in a row.  While I do get headaches often, this just seemed wrong. I finally figured out it was because of the lemonade I was drinking and the artificial sweetener that was replacing the sugar.  There has been times when I had eaten baked goods or even broccoli salad unknowingly that this particular sugar substitute was included and would end up with a raging headache soon afterwards.

Learning about the ingredients in my food opened up a whole new world of obsession for me.  I would say knowing what I am eating is one of my top priorities in life not only because it greatly affects my health but because the direction the American food system is heading just plain FREAKS ME OUT…

::For the sake of not writing 1,000 words right now I am biting my tongue on everything I could say on genetically modified food::

With the help of amazing books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and the education I have gotten from my nutritionist and sustainable agriculture classes, I have a very deep passion for learning about our food.  My passion is so strong that I plan on volunteering next summer to do some WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) around Europe so I can further learn about our food. For those of you who don’t know, I am working towards a degree in environmental studies and sustainable agriculture so I look forward to being able to take my passion even further.

I tend to go off on this topic as you can plainly see so I would like to start writing some separate blogs about a few of the things I mentioned like high fructose corn syrup and the genetically modified foods.  My environmental studies courses expose me to a lot of worthy information that people just aren’t being told and I would love the opportunity to share that with all of you.

Have you ever had any health experiences when it comes to the foods you put into your body?  Does anyone else get heartburn from high fructose corn syrup products?  How about headaches from artificial sweeteners?

I’d love to know!

Peace and Monkeys,

 

 

 

A post by April – Starting Again – Getting Back on the Weight Loss Train

Hi everybody! I have some exciting news. You know how this blog is called the DOUBLE Chin Diary? Well – it’s not just double because of the amount of rolls under your chin, it’s double because now there are two bloggers at the Double Chin Diary! Please give a warm welcome to my older sister April. Here’s some things you should know about April – April is 29 years old, an animal lover, a major environmentalist in that she spends her free time picking trash up off the beach (seriously saintly), loves working with kids, and she travels to all kinds of cool places all the time. April will be stopping by every now and then to chronicle her journey towards losing 30 pounds by the time she turns 30 in April. (That’s a lot of Aprils!) I’m looking forward to seeing how our stories match – and how they differ. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

 

Here I am on my 29th birthday – celebrating with yummy food.

Seven years ago I managed to lose 50 pounds with the amazing and classic style of eating right and working out more. It was irritatingly hard the first few months that I struggled through workouts and eating whole grains and it wasn’t until I had a break down on the scale that I finally started to see a change. The change surely wasn’t on the scale since I was in tears, the change was within myself.

A friend that I had met at the gym consoled me as I cried about my disappointment in myself and questioned why I wasn’t losing weight yet. My friend then stepped on the scale and showed me how she weighed almost exactly the same as me. Being the same height as myself too, her simple action made me A LOT better about myself. I had never thought of my friend as a fat woman so seeing that we weighed the same meant that surely my body couldn’t be THAT horrible.

I decided that I would just work harder on the exercise and keep at it. I even managed to get a job working at the small women-only circuit training gym. After that initial break down on the scale, my weight started to creep off pound by pound. I would go down two pounds one week then gain back a pound in the next. That pattern continued for a solid four months until I had lost fifty pounds. I hit a plateau and it seemed like no matter what I did to lose weight, no matter how much I worked out or how wonderfully light I ate; the weight just wasn’t leaving.

I managed to keep the weight off for a few years until I started to go back to my old ways of eating fast food, drinking soda, and working out MUCH less. As it tends to happen, that kind of behavior only resulted in me packing on the pounds until one day I noticed I was a mere 11 pounds from the heaviest I had been before I ever lost any weight at all.

That is where I am today.

I feel disappointed in myself for letting my weight come back but I have hope in knowing that I did it once before and now I’ll just have to do it again.

I’m starting small and cutting back on my sugar intake. I’ll give up my precious Taco Bell again that has been my treat of the summer. I’ve begun taking walks and hikes again. I have even been pretty routine about my doing my weighted hula hoop. It will take some time and a lot of effort but I know that eventually I’ll get back on the road I need to be on.

How do you deal with getting back on the “weight-loss train” when you’ve been off it for so long?

Guest Post: Jennifer’s Weight Watchers Success Story

Hi everybody! I work with an amazing gal named Jennifer P. who has been an awesome success story in our Weight Watchers Meeting. I asked her to guest blog since I love hearing the “success stories” in regards to weight loss!  It’s a good reminder that anything is possible as long as you work hard for it and stay focused. Please read her story below and show her some comment love!

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My journey to a skinnier me began on April 15th, 2010. Weight Watchers was being offered through work and I immediately jumped on the opportunity to join. I had been on Weight Watchers before between 2003 and 2004 and had lost 65 lbs. before I stopped going and eventually gained everything I lost and then some. The entire time I had been away from the program, I knew in the back of my head what I should be eating but my desire for delicious food almost always won out and I reverted back to my old habits quite easily.

Jen's awesome weight loss!

When I started Weight Watchers this time, I took a different approach than I did before. I followed the program as best as I could and I wouldn’t let my little mishaps affect me on a larger scale. If I happened to gain weight one week I would, and still continue, to tell myself that I can lose it again and it’s not the end of the world. I had lost 10% of my starting weight by Aug 2010 and by the end of 2010, I had lost 50 lbs. There were a few months in between Oct and Dec of this year in which I has lost my motivation and the only reason I was maintaining my weight loss at the time was because I was going to the gym on a consistent basis. After the holiday season, I decided I needed to get back on track and by April of 2011 I had hit 60 lbs. I must say, I was extremely proud of myself. I still ate whatever I wanted, but in monitored portions, and limited myself to snacking only if it was within my points for the day and/or week. This was a new accomplishment for me and I found I had completely changed some old habits that I had. I’m the main food preparer at home so I got quite a few cookbooks and magazines that contained nutritional information and utilized Weight Watchers online for additional recipes and cook foods that are within reasonable point’s values on a daily basis. My family has never complained about any of the, as some people would consider, “diet” recipes.

Now, since April of 2011 through Feb of 2012, I have fluctuated between 55 and 62 lbs of weight loss. Believe me, it is still an accomplishment to have come so far but I want to reach my final goal and I only have 25 lbs more to go. I’m a little aggravated and I’m personally trying to figure out why I have been stagnant in my weight loss. I’m trying not to let this plateau affect my motivation and I do continue to struggle daily. I have noticed that my clothes continue to fit differently, however, and I’m becoming more tone. I continue to attend the gym on a bi-weekly basis and also attend a pilates class to focus more on my core strength. Before these past couple of years, I despised any sort of physical activity and would never in a million years have considered working out and being a member of a gym. Now, I can’t live without it and the amount of physical energy I have now from both the weight loss and the additional exercise that I’m getting is a phenomenal feeling. I’ve even contemplated doing a 5K, which is also a first for me. I feel younger than I am (even though when I wake up in the morning I feel like I’m 80…so much for getting older) and it has increased my self esteem as well. I am continuing with the new “me” and I hope I can share my 100% success story once I reach that final goal.

Guest Post from Alycia at Wonder Wall – “I Don’t Do Diets”

Hi everybody, give a nice warm welcome to my friend Alycia over at The Wonder Wall! Alycia and I know each other from way back in junior high – and she’s recently lost almost 50 pounds! Read about her wonderful success below, and stop by her blog to say hello!

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I don’t do diets.

I love food and hate diets and I always figured that was going to be my eternal problem when it came to losing to weight. I could never do a cleansing ritual or rely on pills to curb my appetite – I’ve tried before with no success. In high school, as an attempt to lose weight, I started using a diet pill that only ended up making me nauseous and jittery. From that point on I knew I would forever struggle with weight loss. I maintained gym memberships that saw me lose more money than weight and occasionally would go to some extreme to help my body shed its excess weight with little to no success. So by the time I got married in 2010 I figured it was something irreversible and unchangeable.

In early 2011 I started walking with a friend of mine in order to get in the routine of getting off the couch and getting at least some exercise. I had twisted my ankle a few months before and when the injury flared up again, I decided to go to the doctor- a place I had avoided for a long, long time. As we were talking about my ankle the dreaded topic of my weight came up… I asked the doctor if there was something wrong with me medically because I was always tired, suffered from constant headaches and seemed to just keep gaining weight no matter what I tried. She agreed to run some tests, but suggested a program she thought might help me: Weight Watchers. I remember leaving the office and not knowing whether to laugh or cry- my doctor’s miracle advice for weight loss was a diet program? Puh-lease! I sat on the idea for a few weeks before I decided to give it a whirl and see what this whole thing was about. I’d heard before that you could “eat whatever you want,” but I knew that had to be a mistake. There was no way you could eat whatever you wanted to still lose weight- that’s why it’s called a diet, right?! Diet= suffering!

Luckily I wasn’t alone on my WW journey as my friend decided to get back into her WW routine and work with me towards our weight loss goal. It was very important for me to have someone who was going through the process with me- someone who I could complain to if needed and someone who could keep me in check. My husband is a fabulous cheerleader, but he also would never deny me any cheat should I whine enough. So with my friend’s encouragement and support, I began working towards a skinnier, healthier me. Six months later I am down 47 pounds and up 100 tons of confidence. I now know I am not powerless against food- food does not rule me, I rule food. And I don’t have to have a treat every single night. Weight watchers has taught me a new outlook on food.

So what have I learned??

The first thing I realized is that Weight Watchers isn’t really a diet- it’s a way of life. You learn valuable life skills with this program that you don’t learn with your typical “diets.” I think this is the biggest key to success. If you accept the fact that you are changing your life- and changing it for the better- then you will continue to see positive results on the scale each week and tracking doesn’t become tedious, but a way to keep yourself in check. And you have to learn the system and make it work for you. I utilize the online tools instead of going to meetings. I use the app for my iphone to track and calculate foods while I am on the go and since I know a majority of fruits and veggies are 0 points, I don’t spend an ample amount of time tracking them. I also got into a routine during the week- I usually plan out our dinners on Sunday morning and go shopping that day so that I know I will be good to go each night when I get home from work. During the week I know I am staying within my points so if I do want to splurge on the weekends I am not killing my progress.

Weight watchers also helps you become more active. I hate exercise- always have and probably always will. But with weight watchers you get points for going out and working up a little sweat. And you don’t have to start by running the NYC Marathon. A 10 minute walk around the block will suffice [and is actually encouraged by WW if you are just starting a workout regime again]. For me, I walk once a week with a friend of mine, play tennis with the hubs when the weather is cooperative, play on our Wii and do the fitness ondemand videos on Comcast and Netflix. I don’t make it about “exercising,” but about having fun. Again- finding what works with for me.

It has been an amazing run so far and while my journey is not yet complete I now have the confidence and the will power to know that I can do this. So, thank you Weight Watchers for not being a diet.