My #SoleStory: Ice, stim and good shoes

This is a promotional post for Vionic Shoes' #SoleStory campaign. I was provided a pair of Vionic sandals.

This is my post-aerobic life for the time being:

Ice and stim

I'm coming off a month of physical therapy for IT band inflammation and patellar tendinitis so I'm trying to ease back into aerobic activity (I kept doing the strength training the whole time because that didn't bother me). But me being me, I tend to push myself probably a mile too far, so I've been doing the post-walk "ice and stim" that I got every time at PT. Under that towel are the electrodes to my mini electrical stimulation device and my thigh and knee area zapping away.

As I ended my walk last week, there was a box waiting for me at the front door from Vionic, which contained the lovely Floriana flip-flop sandals. I immediately put them on, because SHOES!


(You really don't need to see any more of my goofy feet.) Just take a look at these in all their bejeweled glory. The toe post is fabric, so they're super comfortable, and the teal goes great with my uniform of jeans, jeans, and more jeans.

Sure, they may look like flip flops but they're much more. Vionic shoes are podiatrist-designed for orthotic support, so your feet are realigned in a natural position. I have super flat feet, so I need extra help in the arch department. I have a pair of custom orthotics, but I'm a flip-flop girl and orthotics just don't work with sandals. That's why I love Vionics. I have a couple other pair and they're great for post workout, or really anytime. 

My sports med doctor (and I'm guessing all orthopedists) are not fans of super-flat flip flops because of the lack of support. But I LOVE being barefoot or darn near it, so I really appreciate Vionic for the added support.

So that's my #SoleStory -- making exercise an important part of my life and making sure to take care of myself before, during and after.

I'm on sugar patrol

Had another meeting with my dietitian and I handed over a few days of My Fitness Pal logs. I've been using it the past week just so I can see how my food intake is shaping up, calorie and nutrient wise.

(I'm still all about my Fitbook but periodically I need to do a geeky spot check.)

While I'm doing better, my sugar content is still a bit too high. I had highlighted some areas where I knew I should have eaten something else, but Meryl found even more. 

Those date-sweetened protein bars? Too sugary. Gluten-free granola? Too sugary. That smoothie I grabbed while running errands? Yep, too sugary.

She gave me a guideline: If a food has 5 grams or less of sugar per 100 calories it's considered low sugar. Ten grams of sugar or more per 100 calories is a high-sugar food.

"So if I keep my total sugar grams below ..."

That's when she stopped me and corrected my thinking. I was figuring that as long as I kept my sugar grams below a certain amount a day I'd be fine. 


With that thinking I could eat spinach and jellybeans all day and come out just fine.

What she wants me to do instead is to look at each food and make a judgment whether it's low sugar. Now of course, I don't have to do that with things like protein or fat or non-starchy vegetables (remember, we're breaking me of my diet mentality). It's mostly for packaged foods. And seriously, I didn't really think about all those dates in the protein bar because I figured it wasn't "added sugar." But for the most part, sugar is sugar is sugar, and the bars are kinda high. 

Blue diamond dark chocolate almondsLet's take these almonds for example. (And I need to interject that this post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.)

While the words "Oven Roasted Dark Chocolate Almonds" might sound totally decadent, it turns out that these babies get a big thumbs-up as a low-sugar snack. 

An ounce of the almonds is 160 calories and 4 grams of sugar, not to mention the 5 grams of protein and 13 grams of healthy fats. You also get 30 percent of your vitamin E, 6 percent calcium, 8 percent iron, and 15 percent magnesium. 

And, no, there's no artificial sweeteners. the almonds are sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia extract. 

Most importantly, they're delicious.

I've tried other cocoa-flavored almonds and the icky aftertaste kept me from trying them again. But there's no aftertaste at all with these, and an ounce is a great afternoon snack.

There's also an Oven Roasted Sea Salt flavor with only 1 gram of sugar per ounce. And while those are really good, these dark chocolate ones are my new faves.

So my homework for the next two weeks is to be more sugar aware and look for ways to flip the script when it comes to my old go-to's. I need to think vegetable before I think fruit. Hard-boiled eggs instead of protein bars. Hummus and bell peppers instead of popcorn.

Wait, popcorn is a sugar?

No, but it's a starchy food and I need to keep an eye on those as well. When I first started with Meryl I drastically cut back on my starches because I was all gung-ho on cutting out sugar, dairy and wheat. In the ensuing months, I've been sliding back into old habits, albeit wheat-free ones. Starchy carbs and sugar tend to hold onto water and spike insulin, creating bloat, extra weight and cravings.

So my complex carb servings will be twice a day, ideally earlier in the day.

As you may have guessed, I haven't been focusing on the scale the past month because I've been focusing more on my digestive health, and lemme tell you, I am so much better!

I won't go into particulars but I will say that I haven't had to reach for the Rolaids in a month, and I am far less "irritable" than I've been in ages. My stomach doesn't make weird noises and tummy aches are gone.

So now that we have healed my gut issues, I can focus back more on getting the rest of this weight off. 

The gameplan is to stick to around 1,600-1,700 calories but not to obsess over those calories. If I'm eating the right way (for me, not for you or Gwyneth Paltrow or anyone else) and sticking to that range, the scale should start moving again.

Better an overuse injury than an underuse one, right?

I haven't really talked about this much but I've spent the past month cutting back on my exercise and going to physical therapy twice a week. 

Yesterday was my last session (we had a ceremonial tossing out of the "stim" pads), and I'm happy to say I'm much better. I went back to the gym this morning and did a top-to-bottom strength workout and made sure to stretch when I was done.

That's what caused the problem in the first place.

I get so obsessed with RESULTS! that I tend to ignore things like stretching, rest and recovery. (Where's the fat burning in that?)

My PT just shook his head when I told him of my old mindset. Apparently thinking like that is what keeps that office in brisk business.

But I learned many valuable lessons in my month of twice-weekly physical therapy.

  • How to do squats properly. I've been doing them wrong forever! In my zeal to go straight down, I've been starting with my knees instead of sticking my butt out first.

Graduated from PT today, but this will remain a friend for life. #fitbloggin #fitfluential #sweatpink #stretch

A photo posted by Gail Gedan Spencer (@ggspencer) on Apr 30, 2015 at 12:27pm PDT

  • That this strap is better than a yoga strap. I ordered this OPTP Stretch Out Strap, which came with a booklet, on Amazon, and I am committed to using it every day. It's like a yoga strap but there are a bunch of hand-holds throughout it so you can get a better grip.

Is Prince still calling himself this? #fitfluential #sweatpink #fitbloggin #kttape

A photo posted by Gail Gedan Spencer (@ggspencer) on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:23am PDT

  • How to tape myself. I've had this roll of KT Pro tape for a couple of months but I've been too intimidated to use it myself. The physical therapists showed me how to do it and it's fairly easy. They also mentioned that I don't have to keep it on all the time, just when I feel like I need some extra support. 

And I also surprised myself yesterday. I hadn't weighed myself in quite a while and was feeling a bit nervous since I haven't been obsessively counting calories or balancing macros or any of that "diet mentality" stuff. I stepped on the scale and found that I was actually down a pound from the last time I checked.

Right now, it's not as much about losing weight as it is about undoing DECADES of diet damage and restrictive thinking. 

Kinda like rest and recovery for my brain.

A nutty apple pie smoothie

Nutty apple pie smoothie labeled
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

Right now I am all about the smoothie.

(OK, I've always been all about the smoothie.)

I started going to a dietitian a couple months ago, and she initially had me using smoothies for two of my three meals a day, which is totally fine with me because I love smoothies.

But when you make all those smoothies you need to switch things up – and not just for boredom. My dietitian (Meryl Brandwein, RD) suggests that you switch up the ingredients at each meal to get a variety of nutrients. If you’re using hemp seeds at breakfast, use flax seeds at lunch. Blueberries for breakfast? Peaches at lunch – you get the drift.

After I exhausted the variety of frozen fruit at the grocery store, I spied a can of apples on the closeout shelf (I love the closeout shelf!). Specifically, it was a can of Comstock sliced apples packed in water, and yes, they’re pretty darn bland. But here’s what I did – I drained the can and spread the apple slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet and stuck it in the freezer. After a few hours, I put the frozen apple slices in a plastic bag and had another fruit to play with for smoothies.

I also had another “alt milk” to play with when Blue Diamond sent me its unsweetened Almond Coconut Almond Breeze. Unsweetened milks aren’t great for drinking straight up but they’re fabulous for smoothies because you’re also putting lots of other ingredients in the mix. The combination of coconut and almond is a creamy, slightly coconutty milk that goes with pretty much anything you dream up for your next smoothie.

Since I had my frozen apples, I came up with an apple pie-inspired smoothie that was a welcome change from my usual.

Nutty Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 1 cup Almond Breeze unsweetened Almond Coconut Almond Breeze
  • 1 scoop vanilla or cinnamon protein powder (I used Perfect Fit Cinnamon Roll protein by Tone It Up)
  • 140g frozen apple slices
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ cup crushed ice

Blend and enjoy!