Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for April, 2014

Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know

The first thing to catch my eye this morning was an article decrying the lack of accuracy of fitness trackers. I personally use a Fitbit Flex. Anyone who has one of these devices for any length of time realizes they aren’t perfect. They use gps and some kind of motion sensor to make a good guess as to what you are doing, and how many calories you are burning. Just like the machines at the gym make a good guess at how many calories you are burning. They do serve a purpose, and as long as you aren’t slavishly dependent on them, they do their job.

The first thing I noticed is mine underestimates active minutes. I believe that is measured by rapid arm movements, since you wear the device as a wrist band. So when I am bench pressing and doing flys, it doesn’t count. However, I often hit my goals knitting! Since I don’t rely on the device for all of this, it is just a humorous moment.

The author was saying the one he tried wasn’t good at tracking his sleep. I track mine, and it seems fairly close. If I have a bad night, it reflects that. A friend of mine has one and says her’s does not do well tracking her sleep. So maybe it works better on some kinds of sleepers than others.

So why do I use it if I know it isn’t totally accurate? For the reason the article states. I will take an extra walk to hit my goal. If swinging your arms counts as active minutes, I’ll get up and do some arm exercises. I think that reason alone should keep their popularity up until the technology is perfected. We all need motivation.

I would love to hear about it if any of you use trackers. What brand do you use, and how accurate do you think it is?

A Whole Lotta Love

Sometimes I rant, sometimes I praise. Today’s a praise day. I already had a topic for today, but then I saw this article on how to have your carbs while diabetic and had to throw it in. I always get nervous when I seen anything that looks like “how to have your cake and eat it too”, but this is an excellent article. I wish I’d written it. Great graphics as well. If you aren’t diabetic, you should still eat like you are. None of us need all that sugar. Sugar and other simple carbs in mass quantities is what got us here in the first place. The article has a great graphic showing 1/2 your plate being a non starchy vegetable, and the other two quarters divided between fibrous starches and low-fat protein. Yeah, yea, woot woo. To top it off, they finish with recipes, which is where I fall down, because most people would not eat what I like.

….Which is a really good segue into my other topic for today. You know I make my own greek yogurt. If you don’t, see here. I have been trying to come up with more uses for all that whey, and, as I mentioned in that episode, I have been experimenting with using it in bread. My latest obsession is pita bread. The stuff from the store tastes so darn good. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I am certainly not an anti gluten or anti carb person. I’m using the whey instead of water. I tried a batch a couple of weeks ago that was nearly disastrous. Pita’s have to be cooked hot and fast. Those weren’t. I did much better this time:

IMG_1158They aren’t perfect, but the flavor and texture were spot on. I used “Peppy’s Pita Bread” recipe on allrecipies.com. I think this has shown me where my breads have fallen short. I’ve been too afraid of over baking, and I think being thoroughly baked is the key to really good bread. I let you know as I try my hypothosis.

Before we leave the topic of yogurt, I did try two experiments lately. First, I tried just using the whey to make the next batch of yogurt. It’s difficult to have the store-bought yogurt on hand to make the next batch, since I use it to make yogurt. It tends to go bad before I get to it. Plus, it rankles me to have to buy the very product I’m making. So, I tried freezing the store-bought, and only scraping enough off to inoculate the milk, but that was a royal pain. If I want to try that again, I’ll divide it in an ice-cube tray and freeze it that way. However, I took a small batch of milk and just added the whey I had been storing in the fridge, and it worked! The only down side was that the yogurt was more watery, since adding whey is adding water. For whatever reason, whey doesn’t get moldy like yogurt does, and I always have plenty on hand.

I thawed the rest of the yogurt I had frozen for that experiment, and found that it had separated from being frozen, but if I drained the whey off it was still perfectly good. If you are wondering why I am so yogurt crazy, I’m not, in that I don’t eat lots of it, but I now consider it an essential staple to have in the house. It makes a wonderful replacement to sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and, of course, is great for all its traditional uses. I have drained it enough to make a cream cheese type cheese. My next experiment will be to try to go further and make a fresh cheese out of it by draining it further.

For a snack today, I’m going to make a taco dip variation by putting a layer of humus, a layer of drained yogurt, salsa and cheddar. I have nothing against using beans to make the dip, I’m just trying to empty my cupboards, so it was humus this week. I also used the drained yogurt in tuna salad, along with some mayo and mustard.

I just think if you can replace things that are not all that good for you with things that are, and still find them enjoyable, that is a win-win-win situation. You do need healthy fats, but as Myfitnesspal keeps reminding me, I’m getting plenty without doing a lot of mayo and sour cream. To top it off, I’m not replacing them with ersatz food, which is one of my pet peeves.

Basic Eating- Beans and Rice

I am not a foodie, and never claimed to be. However, I have been told that my ability to throw stuff together is not universal, and several people have asked me what I eat. I thought I would give you my basic “go to” dish, beans, rice and whatever.

First, either soak and cook dried beans according to directions, or get out a can of beans, any kind, including baked, although they have a lot of sugar. I don’t use canned often, and if I do, I don’t rinse, since I like a lot of sauce in my food. Rinse and drain if you are worried about your salt intake. If you want to use lentils instead, cook them with the rice. Second,cook 1-2 cups of rice, according to directions. I have¬† a rice cooker, and never bother to measure any more. If you are using dried vegetables, or ones you want to have cooked, add them to the rice. Once these two ingredients are cooked, add any kind of tomato product; canned, fresh, dried. In a pinch I’ve used tomato soup or ketchup. Add vegetables, in any form. I like fresh onions and green pepper for the crunch. You can go southwest by adding cayenne pepper, chili powder, taco seasoning, or salsa. You can go asian by adding fish or oyster sauce, curry powder, soy sauce or whatever. This time I made rice and lentils with chili paste, dried tomatoes, dried red pepper, dried celery, and tomato soup. I’m going to add canned salmon and frozen broccoli to some of it. Or maybe all of it. You can add hamburger, tuna, chicken, whatever. You don’t need to add the meat, unless you are concerned about your protein intake.

Beans and rice can be the base for just about anything you’d like to add. I can’t think of too many things that don’t go well. Eggs are tasty in it too. Use your imagination, or use up your leftovers. You can cook up a big batch of beans and rice on the weekend, add different things to it each day and have lunch for the whole week. Don’t be afraid, if you think it’s really weird, take a half cup of the beans and rice out, add the odd ingredient and taste. If you like all the individual ingredients, you’ll probably like them together. When people complain about the cost or effort in healthy eating, I through this at them. You can’t get much cheaper than beans and rice, and since you can add any leftovers to it, you aren’t wasting any food.


Diabetes is a major problem nowadays. We could rehash all the reasons, but I have other reasons for bringing this up. To be clear, I’m talking about type II. Type one is so different in many ways we shouldn’t lump the two together. Type two is largely lifestyle generated, type 1 you are often born with. There are more distinctions than that, but it is enough for now to say we are talking in this article about type II.

First, there was this article, Health Care Law Targeting Diabetics. Don’t worry, this isn’t a “big brother is going to get you article”. In order for everyone to have health care, we will have to be stricter about taking care of ourselves, and our health care system will be more proactive. I know diabetics who know almost nothing about their disease. The doctor handed them a script and a handful of literature and sent them on their way. I know many others who educated themselves. Your doctor ought to be your primary reference, and in far too many cases, he’s not. This might be one positive result to the new health care law.

Then, there is this tantalizing article, Clues to Type 2 Diabetes Discovered on Mount Everest.¬† The more we learn about how our bodies work, the more we can target treatments. Let’s face it, life’s not fair, some people have horrible diets, and don’t get diabetes at all, or very late in life, and others get it very early. We know that genetics plays a role, being overweight does too, as well as diet. The more we can hone in on the interplay, the closer we get to being able to say to someone what their personal risk factor is, similar to heart disease.

Lastly, there was my experience lately with a diabetic. She told us she could not eat donuts because of it, but went ahead and had hot chocolate. She told us her daughter was diabetic, and she was an expert at “swapping carbs”, that the hot chocolate was her lunch, and that what she had was the equivalent of a sandwich and a beverage. That might work out, as far as her blood sugar is concerned, but it misses the point as far as good nutrition. It is hard if you are diabetic to avoid all sugar. There isn’t a one of us who doesn’t love desert. Not to mention bread and other starches. But outside of the fact that sugar isn’t good for any of us, and that cutting it back means you get more sensitive to it, so less really is more, there is also the question of what are you replacing it with. Food is fuel, and the better your fuel, the better you’ll run. I cringe when I hear of all the crazy things people are doing with their diets- whether it’s cutting carbs completely, no fat, no dairy, no gluten, etc. Those might be fine for a very small percentage of people- the number of actual celiac disease patients is still estimated to be 12%- but for most of us it is self-defeating and short-sighted. Food has things in it besides calories and carbs, that make you run well. Build the body today that you’ll be relying on a decade from now.

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