Hot Pink, High Heels, & Explosions

Lap Band Food and Fitness

So this lap band and I have had one long strange trip.  As I’ve written about before (look HERE and HERE) I am, in reality, a lap band success.  I’ve dropped about 10 clothing sizes give or take (I currently range from a size 10-14/M-XL depending on the brand, cut, and make of an article of clothing); and I’ve lost at least 125 pounds and kept it off.  Like all women (er most at least) I bounce around with my actual weight — fluctuating 10-20 pounds depending on the season and how many craps I have to give (currently, not many FYI).

However, while I have found out that my dress size does not equal happiness (in fact, when I was at my smallest I had a nasty tendency to have mini-blackouts while teaching fitness classes and even literally hit the floor one day) during my retirement as a fitness instructor — I have also realized that I simply am not healthy.  I don’t eat, I don’t feel well, I’m quite tired.  Now grated I also do have quite a bit going out outside of fitness, but you just know when something is off.  So to see if it would help — I gave in and tried the Herbal Cleanse only portion of the Advocare 24 Day challenge.   The Advocare 24 Day challenge starts with a cleanse period where you take a set of pills, drink a fiber shake, chug lots of water, and eat as healthy as possible.  I’ll review that later — but one word of advice I would give is to not try to do a cleanse during a month where you are going to not one but TWO out-of-state conferences.  Not wise, but do-able.

The second portion of the Advocare 24 Day challenge is called the MAX phase.  Here you keep eating clean, but add in a bit of dairy, a meal replacement shake, and the MNS Max3 supplement strips.  While not ideal, I decided to try out the MAX phase separately once I was back in town and on a more regular schedule.  I’ll do a separate review of the Meal Replacement Shake — but this one is just on the MAX3 supplement strips.

Another thing I should say — I am not doing this perfectly.   As a lap band patient I am not a normal challenger.  I am not nom noming on Twinkies and McDonalds.  I am not eating potato chips while watching the teeevee.  Not that all challenges are like that — but I say that because many of the success stories you may see are from folks who had really really bad eating and fitness habits.  And just like on the Biggest Loser — if you start eating better and working out, you will most likely feel better and see weight loss.  I have a band that prohibits me from eating like a normal person, but enough vanity where I manage to keep my favorite Oreo’s out of my house because I will eat them and gain weight.  My band is also why I am plateaued for weight loss — I don’t eat.  Here me now — to lose weight you still must eat!  So,  again I say this simply so you are aware — I am not eating the way you should on this, I have not weighed myself, I did not take a before and after photo –because right now I am trying the supplements to feel good enough to try to rework my diet and fitness.  I have to make it to the starting line first, before I begin the race.

 

Now that I’ve taken care of that…lets tackle this:

 

 

Oy. ve.

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advocare

 

*sigh* so yeah. I know I know. This is a bandwagon. Everyone knows SOMEONE who’s tried SOMETHING from Advocare and usually that person is its biggest fan. Super fan. Fan of the Month. They chat happily about things called Slam, Spark, Catalyst, Herbal Cleanse (but only the Peaches and Cream, apparently universally everyone things the Citrus is gross), Max. And it comes on suddenly. BAM! They are a convert!

Usually I try and avoid things that faddish — yes yes I know I am a Zumba(R) instructor. Got it, and I’m retired people.  And I have had an iPhone since version 1….and. Okay okay so sometimes I DO adopt a fad. But when it comes to diet and fitness, I really do try to avoid faddish products. Wheat Belly, Zone, Adkins, blah blah blah. Really if any of these were the panacea they try to make them out to be wouldn’t all of us have been vegan, blood-type, gluten-free, low-carb, high healthy fat eaters by now? To me, the key with diet and exercise is that you MUST MUST MUST find what works for you. Because if you don’t like it, or believe it in it — if you slip up you will crash fast and hard into a pile of your favorite foods and a Law & Order marathon.

As a weight loss surgery patient, I know how to go to extremes for thinness er…health. Yeah. Health. *smirk*  I literally had life altering surgery, that installed a random piece of hardware into my body to try to achieve some source of dietary control. (and thinness, don’t forget the American dream of thinness)  More on that in later and previous posts (like say HERE).   So when I saw this whole Advocare mess, I just sigh and scroll right past it in my news feed.   Well…until a high school friend joined the bandwagon.  She’s one of the most honest and trustworthy folks I know…so when she started talking about it.  I kinda started to listen.  She had been really really tired….hey wait.  I’m REALLY REALLY tired (which could be due to said lap-band, but…).   She said this whole 24-day program had given her great energy, and on top of that she happened to slim down.  Hrm.  Really.  Now the key to this is that this girl is beautiful anyhow, and did not need to lose one pound.  But she felt better.  And that is what was very intriguing for me. Then I found MORE trustworthy friends who tried Advocare and loved it.  Both friends are Advocare distributors, but never tried to push a sale.  They just told me

I’ve felt like crap for a while.  I don’t eat horribly,  and even though I don’t teach fitness classes any longer I do still take my own butt to the gym to work out in ways that makes me happy.   But I just couldn’t shake the “I feel like crap and I’m tired” feeling.   I tried doing a regiment of supplements, and though I did feel better I also felt like I was eating pills all day.  And with a lap band, pills aren’t your friend.

So my friend had a few boxes at her house and I scooped up just a box of the Spark Energy Drink and the Herbal Cleanse which is the first 10 days of the 24 day program .  The website lists Spark as:

AdvoCare Spark® Energy Vitamin & Amino Acid Supplement.  KEY BENEFITS: Enhances mental energy and focus; Provides support for long-lasting energy; Helps fight occasional drowsiness; 21 vitamins, minerals and nutrients; Sugar-free and only 45 calories

They list the Herbal Cleanse as:

Herbal Cleanse Metabolic Cleansing System.  KEY BENEFITS: Helps rid the body of toxins and waste; Supports improved digestion and thorough internal cleansing; Provides 10 grams of fiber per day; Helps remove impurities from the body; Supports healthy weight loss; Recommended every 90 days.

Now for my one soapbox.  Yes I know the word cleanse is a fad word, and so is “eating clean”.  Both terms come with some nutritional mumbo-jumbo and lots of dietary shame (so if I don’t eat clean, I’m dirty?!).  However, just know I am aware of this while I try these products out.  Know I’ve read articles about this company (yep its a multi-level one, just like any other Direct Sales program (including one I am a member of), about the products (amazon.com is great to hear the real deal on products), and about nutrition (like this great article HERE).

SO, with all that being said — how about we get ready for my journey in seeing if this fad-appearing program works for me.  Word of caution — this will be about a real person taking these supplements.   A real person with a real lap-band.  I plan to modify the program when I need to, and I know I’ll mess up.  I have a real life — one filled with work meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, conferences, angry lap-band days, and so on.  My life will never have 10 fantastic days where I can follow this to the letter, but I’m going to give it a try.

So here I sit in one of my local paneras. I had a lunch meeting where I talked more than I ate — so I decided that food before teaching fitness might be a good idea. I also have a homework assignment due in my nonprofit management class that I intended on completing while here— yeah that clearly is not working out.

However, after my blah review of the blah Panera Summer Shrimp Salad sandwich (see that HERE) a reader asked what I normally eat. Well that is a great question. So I really do kinda eat the same five things at Panera. As a lap-band patient at any time leafy greens, raw veggies, and breads may or may not work. However, I do stick mainly with cafe salads (greek specifically and cafe soups here at Panera. I tend to get the “Pick 2” option as well. However, today I am not only starving but not feeling well. A dangerous combo for a band-ster. So I decided to pick the lowest calorie soup option and pair it with a very boring sandwich.

So today’s Pick 2 is — Vegetarian Low-Fat Black Bean Soup and 1/2 a classic grilled cheese. I also treated myself to a shortbread cookie (horrible stats, just horrible — but then again I haven’t eaten today) and an unsweetened Hibiscus Iced Tea (with one packet of equal in it — I know I know fake sugar will kill me — but I saved calories to eat the REAL sugar in the cookie).

I had intended on photographing the fresh plate with my phone — but my buzzer malfunctioned so I missed the original call. And by the time I looked up from my work (e.g. Facebook and downloading the new Nathalie Maines album (of Dixie Chick fame) it had been sitting there for a while and I was ravenous. So the photo is of a mostly demolished plate. I also like dipping my bread chunks in the soup — so yeah thats a hunk-a burning carbs sitting in a bowl of carb goodness.

Unlike a lot of people who are in fitness — I eat like a normal person. As a lap band patent I throw up so much food, I just go for anything that might stay in my stomach. So I eat rice, and black beans. A LOT. I eat bread sometimes — certainly with delicious cheese and my fiance’s homemade garlic olive oil. I drink full sugar sodas, and I put white sugar & real half/half in my coffee (there are somethings I can do fake sugar with – like diet coke or in ice tea — coffee is sacred and deserves the good stuff). And even with ALL OF THAT on a normal basis my doctor is disappointed in my diet because I am starving myself. Not on purpose — but just because I forget to eat — or something doesn’t work and out it comes. So sometimes in a day I might have had a bowl of cream of wheat and a Starbucks coffee drink. So yes world — fat (since size 10-12 is clearly HUGE media and internets :P) people can suffering from malnutrition!

Anyhow so back to my carbalicious meal. I didn’t even think how carb heavy it was until now honestly, but that will be good as I will have fuel to take a fitness class AND teach one. Here are the stats [it is 22 TOTAL Weight Watcher Points for everything listed (soup, sandwich, shortbread and ice tea (which is 0 poins)]:

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So I get 35 points a day and I STILL have 13 points left over not counting any activity points. I suppose the point of this is not only to talk about kinda what I may get on a random rainy Thursday at a quick service place. But to discuss how sometimes you can eat what you like — and still be okay. Again, I have 13 points left because what you see above is ALL I’ve eaten today minus a few bites of another bowl of soup. Now this is not idea — and normally I would have eaten some sort of morning meal and a real lunch. But life got in the way. Anyhow, I plan to do a few more of these random postings about things I — as a real person (who likes carbs) eats. Until then…enjoy my massacred plate!

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What’s in your food that’s good for you?

Wahhhh!   No seriously.  Wahhhha! What are we doing to ourselves women?!  After reblog of this post from Kate of “This Is Not A Diet” — this is so timely.

So raise your hand if you do this?   Raise your hand if you describe yourself as a hag — when you really are beautiful.  I know my hand is up.  When I look in the mirror most days all I see are the lumps of fat, the imperfections  the should be’s.  What are “should be’s”?  This “should be” tighter; this “should be” thinner; this “should be” smaller; I “should be” working harder.  But the thing of it is — I am healthy, I am strong, I am smaller than I’ve ever been in my life — but it still isn’t good enough.  I still am so ultimately critical of myself that I can’t see what others apparently do.  I can’t see how proud of me my family and friends are for my commitment to loose the weight I have lost; to be the person I am; to have achieved everything that I have outside of the size pants I wear.

Despite the CLEAR differences I can see when I make myself in the two photos below — I still see the 325+lb woman on the left when I let that critical eye wander down my image in the mirror– not the clearly thinner and trimmer person on the right. [Disclosure — the photo on the left was taken around 2005 during my first year in law school.  I’m pretty sure I got heavier than this.  The photo on the right was taken in Cozumel in March of this year — so yes it is recent, and its a pretty candid photo as well.  I have on no make up (which is my norm) since we were on our way to snorkel reefs — and the t-shirt features Baby Godzilla (from Threadless) in case you are curious!)

This negative eye is an epidemic, this is problematic — and I’m not sure how to solve it. How can we make women see their worth, in a world that mostly sees only their beauty as being valuable.  When all you hear about Hillary Clinton is how tired she looks or her bad dress pants, not how smart she is — we know we have issues.

But, what I can do is to  be honest about my own issues, and hopefully that will at least make someone feel a bit of comfort — to know that they are not alone, and that LOTS of us are struggling with body image issues.  LOTS of us are wondering if we will ever be satisified.  So you aren’t alone — don’t throw in the towel, but just work every day to give yourself and your body credit on being fabulous.  Whether you keep loosing or regaining those same 10lbs, no matter if you are overweight right now, no matter if you wonder if you’ll ever stop judging your worth by the size number in your pants — you’re fabulous!  Yes!  YOU!  Right there!  Someday I’ll believe all the time that I’m fabulous too 🙂

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This is NWS for language issues (unless you have headphones on, or an office with a door) but the point remains truthful in my opinion.  Why is this a pre-emptive video break — because today you get TWO posts for me — and this one is the lead in.  So what do you think — was the joke justified or below the belt?  Did the talk show host cross any lines himself?

 

Don’t be these guys 🙂  The Coach amused me because they come in women form too….”I see that you’re walking, you should run.”  “Why don’t you try power yoga, it could jumpstart your clearly stalled weight loss.” — The Show-Off also comes in female form…..

*as usual, I get no kickbacks from any of the food products that I talk about …but if any company wants me to try their products, let me know!

So I have a selective sweet tooth. I’m not a candy girl, I hate icing. But I do really enjoy a good cup of ice cream. The worst part of living in the South at this point are Cook-Out restaurants. If you don’t have one — your lifestyle change/diet thanks you. At Cook-Out they have the most incredible milkshakes. There is one that is a Pecan Pie Milkshake — where I swear they literally throw a piece of pie in the blender, pour it in a cup, and hand it to you. Don’t judge me, you know it sounds delicious.

And it is. Junk food is some tasty tasty stuff. Yet it is made for occasional indulgences; or stretchy pants. I refuse to deny myself the deliciousness of that shake next Fall (Thank Goodness it is only seasonal!), but in the mean time — what can satisfy my taste for creamy delicious ice cream that fits into my plan?

While wandering around my local Fresh Market I came across a frozen non-dairy treat that might fit that bill. I always am looking for alternatives — I am not anti-dairy. In fact I love cheese — really I do. I also love a nice bowl of cereal with cold milk. But I was vegan for a period of my life, and I appreciate dairy alternatives. My favorite being soy and almond. Coconut milk is good too — but I find it lacking the creamy mouth-feel of the other alternatives that mimic milk.

That being said, when I ran into the So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk Cherry Amaretto Frozen Dessert, I decided to give it a try. I was going for the Blood Orange sorbet — but I thought I would try something else today. One serving is a 1/2 cup of the non-dairy treat, and it is calculated at 4 Weight Watcher’s Plus points for that serving. Comparatively, a serving of most premium Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (my favorite is Late Night Snack, full disclosure) ranges from 5-7 points. It also only has 6g of Sugar (which is nearly unheard of in a premium ice cream that is not marketed as low sugar or sugar-free). The ingredients list is mainly understandable, which also is a plus.

The Verdict:

Taste: The frozen dessert is lacking that rich creamy mouth feel. However, its ligher consistency is a bit refreshing. It reminds me of what my Grandmother used to buy and call Ice Milk. It’s sort of thin, but flavorful. The Cherry Amaretto is a good flavor, and makes me feel more like I am indulging in a decadent treat when I bite into a rich chunk of cherry, which are liberally swirled around the product.

Overall, I think it will be a great option for those going dairy free (vegan, no-soy, no-dairy, gluten free) for whatever reason, and something different for those of us who enjoy ice cream or frozen treats. I also am finding that I haven’t eaten my 1/2 cup serving. Right now at least, just a few bites is working out well to soothe my desire to have a frozen creamy treat.

What is your favorite frozen treat? It can be dairy or non-dairy! Let me know!

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Thank you all so much for dropping in on my little part of the internet!  I am so excited to be writing about my life, and maybe having a positive impact on someone — or answering someone’s questions about fitness, weight loss, reluctant wedding planning, and politics!

I’m still a beginning blogger, and casual — so while I get the hang of this thing, bear with me!  As you can see above I am a full time student, so I’m getting back into the swing of school while trying to figure out what YOU dear reader enjoy most.  What I’m seeing is a high interest in fitness, food, and wedding post — so they will be coming at ‘cha!  However, there will still be the continued focus on African-American women during the month of February  and political discussions too!

If there is something about fitness or wedding planning (certainly from a full-time student/African-American perspective) that you would like for me to write about let me know!

Back to our regularly scheduled post tomorrow! And I’m off to finish my homework for the 9am class I’m supposed to be at *ugh!*

–Ash

If you can’t tell already, Panera is my go-to fast(er) food restaurant. There at least incorporating a veggie or fruit is made easier than at most joints, and you can craft your meal to be healthier than normal. The downside in my opinion is that:

  1. The dressings for salad’s at Panera are tasty and delish, so I eat them — I know I could cut major calories going with a oil/vinegar combo — but my tastebuds aren’t having it. I believe that as long as you account for those extra tasty calories, then eat them. I do get extra dressing mostly because raw veggies do not work well with my Lap-Band (see THIS previous blog post for more information on the lap band and eating issues), and if I have to take a calorie/fat intake hit to get real veggies in my system — then that’s what I’ll do.
  2. The bread: some folks are low/no-complex carbs people. They shun bread, the white potato, crackers, chips, et al. I am not that girl. My grandmother onetime was consoling me when I was having a down day as a child due to my weight. She pointed out a very thin fit person and asked me if I knew what was going to happen to her in old age. I rattled of something about her being fit and trim and healthy. To which my grandmother responded that yes — she ate well, worked out, refused to eat things that might have given her a bit of pleasure all in persuit of health and a great body. But in the end — she was going to die just like all the overweight folks. What Grannie was trying to say is that for some of us, maybe giving up ALL that we love is a silly concept. If you like cupcakes, go to your local baker and get ONE — don’t bake a dozen in your home that you might eat all yourself during an episode of Scandal (best show ever, FYI). My fiance and I did that yesterday — we are in the process of picking favors of wedding cupcakes with our baker, so we went in and each got one we hadn’t tried. We don’t do this ever week, maybe once a month at most. But when we leave — there are two cupcakes in a bag. For us to share, and see if it makes our cut. I’m happy because not only did I get a tasty treat, but then once it’s gone — it’s gone. I count it into my Weight Watchers’ tracker as best I can, and then I move on. So if you like that portion of baguette at Panera with your meal, over the apple (me and raw apples usually don’t work sadly) then get it — count it in your Tracker, and move on.
  3. The cost: Panera is quite expensive folks, in comparison to other dine and dash restaurants. On one meal, a person could easily spend $10+ depending on the choices that they make. As a PhD Graduate Student, I know all too well about counting costs and watching what you spend. However, what I have decided is that if I *can* afford Panera over some other restaurant — then I will choose it. However, I have a list of other healthier options from places for when I’m on a tighter budget or not close to a Panera (e.g. the Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s with a side salad or baked potato as the side + Diet Coke) .

So along with the Hidden Menu launch nationwide, Panera also used January to relaunch their Salmon offerings, and to launch a Spinach Power Salad. According to the website, the new salad contains

fresh baby spinach, roasted mushrooms and onion blend, diced egg, Applewood-smoked bacon, frizzled onions & smoky Vidalia onion vinaigrette.

They suggest using it in the “You Pick 2” offerings with the Bistro French Onion Soup. The “Pick 2” program pairs a 1/2 salad, cup of soup, or 1/2 a sandwich together at your choosing. Prices are lowest if you pick cafe styled foods (think the basic greek salad, and a turkey sandwich) and rises with every premium or signature offering you select. And that is exactly what I had for lunch last snowy Friday afternoon.

I did make a few changes. First, I did add a second serving of dressing. I still appreciate this method because it is measured out. Instead of dumping half a bottle on my salad, I know I am really just adding 2 additional tablespoons. Second, I added a serving of salmon on my salad. I happen to love salmon, but my fiance does not. So when I can have it while dining out — I typically choose to do so. It adds a punch of protein, which is a focus of lap-band patients — and helps keep me full longer. When the salmon is not available at Panera, I tend to add chicken to my salads.

The Verdict:

I am actually in love with this salad. Again, the appearance was a bit lacking — and we do eat with our eyes, but that pretty piece of salmon worked wonders.

Weight Watchers Points Values (keep in mind that you can tweak your intake by asking the staff at Panera to remove some items like the cheese in the soup, or choosing an apple over the baguette):

Taste: The dressing is great, a little sweet which pairs nicely with the rest of the dish. I am a big fan of raw spinach, because it actually 8 times out of 10 works with my band. The addition of roasted mushrooms and onions is a big hearty plus for me, and I loved the crunch of the “frizzled” onions (which reminds me quite a lot of those french fried onions that top holiday Green Bean Casseroles in my humble opinion…). Oddly enough, I am nonplused about the bacon. Take it out, leave it on — I didn’t feel like it added to the salad, but it didn’t detract either. I might consider leaving it off honestly.

This is a salad that I would order in the full size happily. I just hope they keep it around for longer than a season (if you’re reading this Panera Executives — please keep this salad, seriously. And salmon on the menue as long as possible. Thanks!). If not, I think the next salad I will try is the hidden menue turkey one, since it also uses spinach as a base. Does anyone know if you can order spinach as a salad base on a regular basis?