Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Everyday Loaded Oats

I am not a food blogger.

I just wanted to get that out there right away. I don’t have lots of pretty pictures, this isn’t going to be like going to epicurious.com or anything. However, I do think about food in a way that I think others might not, so once in awhile, I have to talk about it. I have mentioned my oatmeal to others, and have gotten requests for the recipe, so I thought I’d put it out there. It isn’t just a recipe for a meal, so it takes some explanation.

Food is more than taste, but taste is important.

I eat based on health, for the most part. I am not an ascetic, I will indulge in a variety of deserts from time to time. I try to plan my meals ahead of time, and pick healthy and tasty items. Breakfast for me is a no brainer. Partially because thinking before coffee in the morning is almost impossible. (Insert laughing emoticon here.) I started with oatmeal. I didn’t want to add a lot of sugar, but unsweetened was unappealing. I started with molasses, so I’d get some good things in my sweetener. I added cranberries for sweetness and texture, and a drop of fiber. Walnuts for taste and omega three. After reading about green smoothies I started blending kale and cooking my oatmeal in that. I like to lift weights, and don’t eat much meat, so I started adding plain, unflavored protein powder.

You can see where this was going. My quick and easy breakfast was turning into a twenty minute project every morning. Not to mention the calorie creep as more and more ingredients kept being added. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. I believe in front loading your calories: a big breakfast, smaller lunch and a snack like dinner, but I also want to be in control of how much and when.

Voilà!

So this went on for awhile, then at some point I got the idea to dehydrate my blended greens, turning them into green powder. Adding that was easier than blending them up fresh every morning. My latest epiphany came after I bought another batch of protein powder. They had a deal on getting oatmeal with add ins already mixed in. Eureka! MIX ALL THE INGREDIENTS AHEAD OF TIME! Then all I would have to do is scoop out a serving and add the liquid. I could also measure and be consistent.

It took some experimentation. I started by selecting a quantity of oats, figuring out how many servings that was and multiplying all the other ingredients by that number. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. When you make one serving the old way, you measure a half cup of oats, then add 1 tablespoon of this, and one of that. With the all in one method, if your serving is going to be 1/2 cup, you have everything together in that 1/2 cup, so you have less oats and more everything else. This means your consistency, no matter what, is not going to be quite the same. Having said that, I like it, especially as overnight oats, where you don’t cook it, you just let it soak in milk or water overnight.

Here’s the recipe that I am currently using. This is such an elastic recipe, play with it to your taste. If you don’t like the first serving, add something to change the taste. The rest will be better.

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I told you I wasn’t a food blogger!

Loaded Oats

  • 6 C. Old fashioned oats
  • 2 C. Protein powder- unflavored, unsweetened
  • 1 C. Cranberries
  • 1 C. Hemp seeds
  • 3/4 C. ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 C. chia seeds
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/3 C dried, unsweetened coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 C. dried greens
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg

Mix all the ingredients and store in a moisture proof container.

To make: scoop ½ cup, add water or milk ( just use enough to cover, I don’t measure, sorry.) You can cook it right away, or let it soak overnight for a cold dish. I prefer it soaked right now.

Makes 26-28 servings, approximately 270 calories each. Substitute and change as you like. Use raisins instead of cranberries, add sunflower seeds, dried peanut butter, whatever floats your boat. Make sure you use ground flax seed, whole ones can make you quite gassy.

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What is a setpoint? I hear a lot of talk about your “setpoint”, which is the weight you gravitate towards over time. What I just said should tell you it is not one number. People started talking about it when they started to explore yo-yo dieting and people who regain weight after losing it. It […]

Normally, I’m not big on “rules”.

However, people seem to like them. I have to admit, I feel so strongly about some things, I would have to almost consider them rules. Here is a list of the “rules” I eat by.

1) The #1 vegetable rule

This one is a no-brainer for me. If possible, I try to make the focus of my meals the vegetables. There is no downside to this. It keeps your weight under control, maximizes your nutrient intake and gives you lots of healthy fiber. In fact, it’s what inspired me to post tonight. I made salmon patties for dinner, and served them with a salad, as well as roasted veggies. Three quarters veggies, one quarter protein. When I successfully follow this rule, we usually have a variety of vegetable dishes at the same meal, making it feel like a feast.

2) Make in bulk to make it easy

Again, going back to tonight’s dinner, I had previously washed and torn a head of romaine lettuce, making it like the bagged stuff in the store. Yesterday, I made a variation on a Caprese salad with tomato, onion, basil and ranch dressing. I took the leftover tomato salad and put it over some of the lettuce, making the easiest salad ever. I cooked up half a head of cabbage while I was cooking the salmon patties, that we can either eat as is, or use for cabbage lasagna or stuffed cabbage. Try and make enough of anything you cook to go for the next meal(s). If you might get sick of it, freeze it.

3) Treat starch like a condiment.

I’m not anti carb, but if it isn’t a vegetable, go lightly. For example, never eat spaghetti without a big salad, and make it a small portion of pasta , same with the meatballs, compensated with lots of sauce, preferably with tomatoes added.

4) Try to make it homemade, or half the portion.

I’m specifically thinking of coleslaw, potato salad or other quasi-healthy foods. The store bought kind are generally swimming in dressing and sparing on the vegetables.

5) One starch per meal.

Many of you might consider this sacrilege, but if you are having pasta, skip the bread. Ditto a potato. In fact, I usually only eat bread if I am having a sandwich or if the bread is the focus of the meal some other way.

6) Go ahead and treat yourself, but be honest.

A treat is something out of the ordinary. It isn’t a treat if you go out to breakfast, then have a desert after lunch. Or if you go out to eat three times a week. An occasional treat won’t mess up your eating, but you have to be honest in the frequency of your treats. If you are going with frequent, they have to be small.

7) Consider the impact of what you are eating.

Sure, we all are influenced by tastes and cravings. But ask yourself, “Is this food going to benefit me, or make me sorry?” Most of us have a good idea of what’s right. Why eat something that you’ll be sorry for? This starts in the store. You can’t succumb to cravings if the junk food isn’t in your house.

I know I focus on food a lot on this blog. As soon as I tell people I’m a personal trainer, the conversation almost always veers towards weight control. The person often justifies their current eating pattern, then complains about their weight. Or, complains about their eating, but then offers reason why they can’t change. This post is incorporating facets of many of those conversations. You have to make consistent choices of what you eat if you want to be healthy. There are no other options.

…And here’s reality from a guys perspective! Thanks JR!

Straight Talking Fitness

Apparently you ladies want to have your own thigh gap?

Apparently it represents health, happiness and even sexiness?

Apparently if you’re a chick without a thigh gap, you’re less of a woman, right?

That’s the thigh gap fad talking. Not me. 

Enjoying the company of some girls the other day, they referred to a magazine image that supposedly portrayed “feminine perfection” – or words to that effect.

I’m not sure of the exact image, but it looked a little something like this……………

Okay okay, maybe I’m stretching it a touch…………….

Yes. That’s more like it! There’s your classic, stereotypical thigh gap magazine type image.

“Wouldn’t it be great to have legs like that?!”

“Oh HELL yeah! Guys love it!”

Hang on a minute!

Being a relatively young and heterosexual guy, if there was ever a time my input could or would be relevant, it was now. And if that didn’t…

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Rant

Today is just a rant. I’m reading a book “The Cure for Everything” by Timothy Caulfield. He didn’t say anything I didn’t already know, but he reminded me of all my favorite hobby horses, leading to this rant.

purple and white laser blasting rings

Ouch! Don’t do this!

First of all, you can’t burn fat, melt fat, zap fat, or do anything but slowly lose it. Well, ok, you can melt or burn it, but it involves fire or lasers, not something I want to do. Fat is made up of fat cells. Cells. You know, the stuff you body makes? It isn’t some foreign substance that got laid over your hips. Your body made it to store the excess calories you ate. How do you get rid of it? Basic laws of thermodynamics – reduce the intake, increase the output. Your car can’t get fat, it only can hold whatever the tank holds. The gas nozzle shuts off when it is full. Unfortunately, we don’t have automatic shut offs.

So stop getting disgusted with yourself, going on some weird diet, taking pills, or exercising till you fall over. Instead, take an honest look at what and how much you are eating, and change it. Trade the sweet tea for unsweet. Stay OUT of the bakery department. OUT. DO NOT GO IN. Don’t buy loaves of bread, or keep them in the freezer. While bread is not evil, it is a lot of empty calories. Buy smaller plates. In fact, go in your kitchen right now and measure your plates. If they are greater than 9″, go find some 9″ diameter plates and use only those. Make half of that plate vegetables. Do all that and see where you are in three months. You didn’t get in this mess overnight, you won’t get out of it overnight. And even if you could, you’d just go back to your original size because you wouldn’t have changed anything. Eat lots and lots of veggies. Low in calories, high in everything that will make you live long and prosper.

Last, not everyone will be happy at a size 8. If you love food, and won’t give up certain things, make peace with it and be happy. It’s healthier to be a size 12 and stay there, than it is to yo-yo back and forth. Fitness and health is about a lot more than just weight. Most people will not look like swimsuit models or Brad Pitt. Get over it and get happy. Oh, and unless you are anorectic, you will probably have some cellulite.  And even if you work out, the back of your arms will jiggle a bit too. It’s not a crime and people won’t judge you for it. If they do, ask them to jiggle theirs. Join the party and jiggle with us.

Boost Your Metabolism

boost your metabolismOk, now that I have your attention.

This is what everyone wants to hear, right? “I want to burn more calories, without changing what I’m doing.” But can we be honest, and talk about what metabolism is, and what we are doing when we are “burning calories” ?

Metabolism is just the sum of all the chemical reactions that happen to make you alive and mobile. Your metabolism consists of your cells dividing, your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, tiny muscular contractions keeping you upright, secretions being produced, etc. Approximately 90-99% of all the calories you burn each day are spent just keeping you alive. All large skeletal movements are added to that, so the more you move, the more calories you use one top of the basic ones.

You are not above the law.

The math is pretty basic. The laws of thermodynamics do apply to living things. However, all measurements are approximate as we are all a bit different. For example, most measurements are based on men having more muscle mass than women. That may or may not be true. Most good calorie trackers currently tie into fitness trackers or allow you to put your activity range in, allowing them to dial in better. Until we get to the point where we can perfectly register every bite you put in your mouth and all your exertions, there will be some discrepancy. Having said all that, I will not believe you if you tell me you are eating 12oo calories a day and not losing weight. (Unless you are a child or child sized.)

Eeek! Starvation mode!

Which brings me to my next point. Actually, to my whole point in writing this. When we talk about “starvation mode”, or raising or lowering our metabolism, what we are actually talking about is increasing or decreasing movement. Remember the last time you were literally starving? Like after having the flu, or when you fasted? You feel like you can’t move. The effort to lift an arm feels like too much. That is all we mean when we talk about lowering your metabolism. If your body doesn’t have enough for the “keeping you alive” part, you certainly won’t have the energy for a 20 minute cardio workout. So you want to eat enough to feel capable of doing exercise. (Willingness is another issue.) Your metabolism isn’t some magic engine that is revving up while you are sitting in front of the computer. It is you deciding to walk to work, run on your lunch, hike after work, or get to the gym. Your metabolism revs up as it is required to, by moving. You can’t make your cells divide faster, or secrete more, the only part of your metabolism you have control over is skeletal movement.  And, if I may speak from personal experience, moving makes you more energetic. No one gets more energized by sitting on the couch. People who say “I’m resting up” don’t ever seem to get rested enough to do anything.

Take home message:

Use a decent calorie tracker, know your limits and move, Move, MOVE! (And don’t fall for hype. If you take something to “boost your metabolism”, then use it to move!)

(But don’t take anything to boost your metabolism, they are generally useless.)

A Walk in the Woods

Myself and a friend, looking at the map.

It’s always good to know where you are going.

Since fitness is my passion, most of my posts are commenting on articles I run across pertaining to fitness. However, I just had the opportunity to backpack for the weekend, and I feel it was worth writing about. I find it ironic that I’m getting into this hobby at the time when “Wild” and “A Walk in the Woods” are in vogue. I was told to read both those as I started doing this. I don’t think I’ll ever be a through hiker, the term for those who stay on the trail from start to finish. When I was younger, I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, but now that I know what that entails, I find I’m happy with just doing weekend hikes.

I have experienced many facets of fitness – aerobics, weight lifting, biking, kayaking, swimming and walking. I’ve worked out in the gym and at home. I’ve participated and taught classes, and done fun things that were incidentally fitness producing. I’ve done indoor rock climbing and learned how to climb trees safely. Having done all this, I’ve discovered that fitness is a positive circular cycle. You have to exercise to be fit enough to do active things, and doing active things increases your fitness level. A way to demonstrate this is how you feel the first time you go for a bike ride in the spring, vs if you keep it up all winter on a stationary bike.

a picture of me going down the stairs.

Down is worse than up.

So, I had to train to hike, and hiking was what I did to train. It is excellent for fitness. There are all the benefits of walking, and many of the benefits of weight training, since you are carrying 30 lbs on your back. Unlike walking, most trails are rather challenging, like the one I just went on that had an uncounted number of stairs. The first few times I did it around my neighborhood, I was so sore the next day, especially my calves and feet. I quickly adapted. The heat was an issue, we had one seasoned member bow out after the first day, opting to get a boat home. (We were hiking along a lake.)

We left on a Friday, and did 8 miles (roughly) the first day. We did shorter hikes the next two days, roughly 6 miles Saturday, and five on Sunday. Since I had not trained on consecutive days, I was concerned that there would be some adaptive stress to daily hiking, but there was none. My right knee and foot got sore the second day, after all those stairs, but seemed completely recovered the next.

Hiking and backpacking aren’t for everyone. If you have physical limitations, or just aren’t sure of your

a group picture, including the dog.

Our merry band

footing, it can be daunting. Backpacking means carrying everything you need on your back, which can be physically too much for some. It also means accepting a certain amount of risk, being organized and learning new skills. Of course, it also means eating, sleeping and peeing in the woods, which can be a gross-out for overly fastidious people. Having said this, many state parks have shorter, flatter trails for the less able. My husband hikes on shorter hikes. Also, you are in control of your hike. You can decide how many miles you want to do. You can always turn around and go back. Many trails are loops, of set mileage, which helps determine if they are something you’d like to challenge.

I do think most people would benefit from some sort of hiking. Getting out in nature, getting your vitamin D, socializing (you should never hike alone), and, of course, exercising, are all benefits of it. I like backpacking because of the feeling that I’m tied to all of human history. Most people lived their whole lives in a fashion similar to how we camp. It gives you great respect for our forebearers, and deep gratitude for all our technological advances.

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