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January 2014

Get Fit Friday: Detox update, Fitbit upgrade, exercise uptick

It's Day 5 of the Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet test group and I feel great and learned somethings about myself, like the fact that I'm a "sweet addict." Not really a sugar addict, mind you, just craving something sweet -- even as simple as a banana or a smidge of honey in my tea.

As for the stats, I'm down a pound and a half, my fat mass dropped a percent and my lean mass rose a percent, so that's cool.

Someone on the Facebook group had posted a smoothie recipe from the first go-around of the detox plan and I like it a lot more than the smoothie I had been drinking all week, but apparently it's not part of our current plan. The "offending ingredient" is half a banana, but it made a huge difference in turning the smoothies from bearable to enjoyable.

But, hey, if just half a banana can satisfy my need for sweetness, that's a win for me.

Detox saladLunches, snacks and dinners haven't been as problematic because they're not supposed to be sweet. I've been having a big salad full of protein, veggies, avocado, olives, avocado and a homemade dijon vinaigrette. Really good and filling with all those healthy fats.

(At right is my typical lunch.)

The snacks are really good -- a small handful of nuts midmorning if I need it, and a homemade dip, like tapenade or tahini dip with raw vegetables in the afternoon. Dinners are some combination of a lean protein and a nonstarchy vegetable but cooked in super yummy ways. Last night I made a ratatoullie, which I served with a chicken I cooked in my Ninja Kitchen System.

But about the caffeine -- I tried, I really did, but the first few days I found myself falling asleep at my laptop in the mornings, which is ridiculous. So I have been sneaking in 8 ounces of plain, undadulterated coffee in the morning, which is about a third of what I'd been drinking.

Let the Force be with me

Fitbit forceAfter a year or so of reliability, my Fitbit One started having connectivity issues so I figured it'd be an opportune time to buy the new Fitbit Force, which I've been coveting since it came out. I ordered one from Brookstone last week (found a shipping discount) and it arrived a couple days ago. I really like having the reading at the ready on my wrist, and while it's not the sexiest bracelet on the planet, its matte black strap looks far less gadgety than other fitness trackers.

As chance would have it, I also won a Withings Pulse a couple weeks ago from a Twitter contest the company held so I've been using both to see how accurate they are, since I've heard that wrist-based fitness monitors have accuracy issues. When I compare the two, they come within 100 steps of each other with the Force on the lesser side, so I don't think there are any issues with accuracy.

And while I really like the Withings Pulse and how it uploads info through my phone to the Withings Health Mate phone app, it doesn't have any alarms you can set for buzzing you awake in the morning. But it does have a little pulse monitor on the back (hence the name), which is useful.

One thing that no fitness monitor does (except a heart-rate monitor) is give you a good reading for non-cardio activities, like strength training, which I've been doing twice a week now for the past few weeks. But you know what does?

Shrinking saddlebags, that's what!

On my walk today, as my hands brushed against my sides, I realized that I was "bumping into myself" a lot less and that my saddlebags seem to be slimming down, which makes me very happy.

So I guess I'll have to change my choice of DJ nickname -- I tell people that if I were a DJ, I'd be DJ Saddlebagz.

And in other fitness news, the Rafflecopter robot chose Felicitia as the winner of the Planet Fitness membership giveaway. (I've emailed you -- congrats!)

A detox? Me?

I'm not fond of the word "detox." Usually a detox plan involves not eating much and quaffing some sort of sweet and sour spicy pancake topping or a bunch of smoothies that look like the contents of a lawnmower bag.

10DayDetoxBut a few months back I agreed to take part in Dr. Mark Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet , which comes out at the end of February (you can read a sneak peek here). The big thing about this detox is that you eat food -- three meals and two snacks a day.

Here's the detox part -- no grains, no dairy, no sugar and no caffeine. Yes, no caffeine as in no coffee.

I'm not an all-day coffee guzzler but I do enjoy a big ol' mug every morning. But this plan is aimed at breaking your addiction to sugar and starches, and caffeine is one of those triggers since it messes with your insulin balance.

That's the biggest part of the plan where I'm going to struggle so I made one concession today -- I had half a cup with a spoonful of coconut manna instead of my usual soy creamer. It was kinda Tomorrow (I swear!) I'll skip the coffee.

The morning smoothie was nice but not my usual, ie, it wasn't very sweet. It consisted of frozen strawberries, walnuts, almond butter, avocado and flax. It took a bit to get over the lack of sweetness but after awhile I got used to it and even liked it.

The plan is high in good fats and that's frankly scary for me, a reformed "diet food" eater. But darned if that smoothie kicked in 10 minutes after I drank it. I felt my hunger shut off like a faucet.

The lunches and dinners sound great -- big salads and lettuce wraps with clean protein, salmon and ratatoullie, condiments like olive tapenade and pesto.

And Dr. Hyman says it's not a "forever thing" -- this plan is a shock to your system to straighten out your hormones and brain chemistry to break your sugar addiction. It's basically a plant-based diet with some clean protein.

I just talked with Dr. Hyman on a conference call this morning to confirm one of my fears, which he says is common when you really have an addiction. You have to tough it out with the sweet thing -- no artificial sweeteners, no honey, not even stevia. It's all about turning down those reward centers in your brain, and if you're trying to make concessions like begging for stevia then, yeah, you've got a problem.

So, yeah, I've got a problem. :)

I'll let you know how it goes.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but I did receive an advance copy of the book and some nutritional supplements.

Exploring a new Planet (Fitness): South Florida giveaway! (CONTEST OVER)

Nothing like a new gym to get your motivation juices flowing. Everything's new, everything works and everything's clean. That'll keep you coming back for more.

Last week I and a group of South Florida bloggers got to check out a new Planet Fitness in Pembroke Pines. I've seen the equipment on "The Biggest Loser" and its TV ads are hilarious. I also love the "Judgement Free Zone" (if not the spelling of the word judgment). And the membership prices can't be beat -- $10 a month for a one-club membership and $19.99 for the Black Card membership, which lets you work out at any Planet Fitness across the country, lets you bring one guest every time you go, gives you a half-price discount on beverages and lets you use the massage chairs and awesome aqua massage tables and tanning beds.

Behold, the fleet of cardio machines.

The club, which is in a Winn-Dixie shopping center on the corner of Johnson Street and Palm Avenue, is heavy on the cardio machines -- treadmills, ellipticals (my favorite LifeFitness ones!) and arc trainers are plentiful and you won't have to stand in line to get your sweat on.

Weight Floor
There's a good selection of free weights, Smith machines, barbells and benches, and contrary to what some muscleheads would say, they go plenty high in poundage. There's also two of everything in the strength-training machines, which should mean you won't have to "work in" to someone's set. And see that "Lunk Alarm" in the photo? That will go off if someone screams, swears, drops weights or otherwise acts a fool. (And in South Florida, well, you know ...)

Express workout
And if you're pressed for time or want a foolproof, quick workout, there's a separate 30-Minute Workout room, which is where we got our sweat on last week. There's a light on the wall which changes from red to green every 60 seconds. Every 60 seconds you switch from a machine to a cardio step until you get to the end. It was a really efficient workout and blasting from one exercise to the next keeps your heart rate up. The equipment is the same as ones you'll find on the general gym floor so they're not stripped down or "sissyfied" machines.

The club is open 24 hours a day on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. 

And now, a giveaway!

So here's what I've got for one lucky person -- a 1-year Black Card membership to Planet Fitness. Since this is courtesy of the South Florida franchise, the winners have to live in South Florida. (I'm using Rafflecopter for the first time so hopefully this thing will work! Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget.)

And if you don't win, you can join online by visiting There's a $1 sign-up fee special going on through January 29.

The giveaway starts NOW and goes through Friday, Jan. 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure:  I was given a free Planet Fitness 1-year Black Card membership for myself and a reader.

Tunes for Tuesday: Flashy and Fresh mix by Rock My Run

I set out yesterday to do my usual 3-mile walk but this Rock My Run mix (plus another one) turned my workout into a 4-mile run. I run to the beat -- what can I say? I was going to feature one of the songs -- "Ricky Ricardo" by Kaptn -- but the video was kinda nasty, so I play it safe and add Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven," which is also in the 130bpm mix.


It's the little things

Was cleaning up a pile of papers in my kitchen and found a printout of a blog post by The Healthy Hausfrau that I really, really needed to re-read last night. It's titled A Bite Here and There: What's the Big Deal? Here's a snippet:

Though seemingly insignificant alone, when added together, these random bites can total up to an unwanted energy surplus. So if your weight continues its mysterious upward creep, it’s worth it to employ your detective skills. 

Peanut butter caution
It then goes on to tally up the spoonfuls, bites and random nibbles that we ingest throughout the day. It can be a lot. (You've really got to read her post.)

While my weight has not been creeping upward, it does stay frustratingly stable, give or take 5 pounds.

If I was at a healthy weight, we'd call that maintenance, but I'm not ready for that yet.

And this, my friends, is my Achilles heel -- all the things that don't get journaled because they're "too small to count."

And having slammed the front door on my Achilles tendon last year (I blame the dog), I know how hard it can be to "heal the heel." (I also had a stroller slam into my Achilles a few years back at a theme park, which took months to heal.) So I know this habit may not resolve itself overnight but one day at a time, right?

While I have made huge strides over the years in:

  • Making exercise a regular part of my weekday
  • Reducing processed foods
  • Eliminating artificial sweeteners
  • Drinking more water
  • Eating reasonable portions at meals
  • Curbing nighttime grazing

The dribs and drabs are blocking me from making sustained weight-loss progress.

So that's my next project: To stay out of the kitchen when it's not meal or snack time, because getting rid of all the spoons in my house would be highly impractical.

I'm still on track with 52-52-52 (52 pounds, 52 weeks, 52 years on Earth) but that headstart cushion is getting thin.

Side note: As I was writing this post, I orginally wrote that "huge strides" section as a paragraph but when I changed it to a bulleted list, I liked that I was able to see how far I HAVE come in a veritable lifetime of trying to get to some sort of goal. So in honor of that (and because it's now stuck in my head), please enjoy The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done":  

I looked at myself in the mirror and liked what I saw

Smiley face in the mirror
(Presented to you without selfies because I pretty much don't do selfies.)

  • Maybe it was my new eyeglass prescription.
  • Maybe it was the fact that I figured out how to camoflage the damage I did to my hair after using a DIY keratin treatment I had under my bathroom sink (don't ask).
  • Maybe it was my jeans, which fit me properly. (I really need to toss the baggy stuff.)
  • Or maybe, just maybe, it was the progress I'm making on my fitness.

But this morning, I looked in the bathroom mirror and thought to myself "Hmmm. Not bad!"

I really haven't lost all that much poundage. I've been at my lowest weight since before my nearly-16-year-old was born for a few weeks now, but I'm much healthier than I was back in the mid-1990s so there's probably more muscle and less fat.

Whatever it was, I looked at myself in the mirror and liked what I saw. I didn't pick myself apart. I didn't zero in on my saddlebags (which I had as a teenager so I think that's just how I'm built). I simply liked what I saw.

I'm not done -- not by a longshot -- but I can finally see the progress others have seen in me.

Food guilt and food love

No food should make you feel guilty.

Food does is not a moral compass.

-- Kelly Boaz

Yes! Exactly!

(I found her quote in a Google image search.)

image from

This time of year, all your screens (TV, Internet) are filled with "guilt-free recipes," "guilt-free snacks," "guilt-free frozen meals," "guilt-free desserts" ... and on and on.

I hate that term.

Like that quote above states, food should not make you feel guilty. There are no good or bad foods, only good or bad decisions.

Want a chocolate chip cookie? Have one -- just make sure it fits into your eating plan somewhere and enjoy it. Don't sneak it in your car. Don't deny it all day and then cave and binge on a whole box after everyone goes to bed.

And don't try to approximate a cookie with, oh, I dunno, wheat bran, diet soda, egg whites and melted crayons (NOT AN ACTUAL RECIPE, but you get what I mean).

Eat the cookie, enjoy the cookie, love what you're eating.

That said, there are some foods that aren't good or bad but they are pretty ridiculous, like that new Starbucks Caramel Flan Latte.

I don't care if you were giving them away for free this week, Starbucks -- no one needs a 330-calorie cuppa coffee with 39 grams of sugar and 8 grams of saturated fat (that's for a grande). Take it down to a short (the size nobody orders) with skim milk and no whipped cream, and it's 100 calories, but then it's not worth drinking now, is it?

Beverage calories are sneaky little buggers -- the stretch receptors in your stomach don't really respond to liquid calories so your body doesn't register them very well, so it just wants more of that liquid candy. What do I get at Starbucks? A grande coffee with a splash of half and half. Boring, I know, but frankly, I'd rather get that and perhaps have one of their yummy little Petite Vanilla Bean Scones for 120 calories if it's snack time.

Are you loving this or just enduring this?

I asked myself this question this morning as I slogged through a bowl of "power oatmeal" -- that concoction where you mix protein powder and assorted superfoods into plain oatmeal. I made it last week with vanilla whey protein, a sprinkle of walnuts and a teaspoon of honey and loved it, but this morning I pulled out the tub of plant-based protein powder that I am determined to use up. I don't like the protein, though. It has a vague split-pea soup aftertaste that I can't get behind.

Bye bye protein powder
So I dumped the rest of the protein powder and vowed not to "endure" any more mediocre meals. Gotta love them.