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“I can’t lose weight.”

25 Jan


Mayday! Mayday! Its a plateau! (SHRIEK!)

The first key is to figure out what made the scale stop. Are you actually watching what you are eating? Are you exercising like you are supposed to? Are you doing your cardio in your target heart rate’s fat burning zone?

If you have been pretty sedentary, you will find it relatively easy to drop a few pounds by only adding light cardio and watching what you eat when you first get started. Eventually though, your body gets used to it and the scale gets…well, stuck. I completely understand how frustrating it can be to continue doing all the “right” things and still…nothing. I am currently at that point right now. It is disheartening…and discouraging…and it can even cause the weak-willed to give up on their weight loss goals completely.

Here is the bad news: You have to stick with it.

Here is the worse news: You might just have to try something new. GASP!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

Provided you really have been exercising and eating right (and, no, that late-night Twinkie you ate because you were STARVING does not count as “eating right”), you may have to break out of your comfort zone and try something different. When I first started on my journey to a fitter lifestyle, if you had told me all the things I would try on my path to improvement, I would have given you the stink eye. At the time, telling me that I would eventually try things like diet cleanses, drinking my greens, and rock climbing all seemed like “hippie” stuff and I probably would not have wanted any part of them. But when you want to reach your goal badly enough, you are willing to at least TRY new things.

Over the years, I have tried what feels like almost EVERYTHING to get my body to a point where I can look in the mirror and say, “I have worked hard and I am proud of this.” Lots of things did not work, but along the way, I found a handful of things that work really well for me. It is high time that I share them with you.

If you find yourself hitting a plateau with your weight loss, at least consider trying some of these things. You never know, you might find something that works for you!

You think you are eating well, but are you SURE? If you are not already, try keeping a food/exercise log. Write down every single thing that you put in your mouth and try and estimate your caloric intake. You might find out you are snacking a little more than you think. Also, reviewing your food choices might help you find alternatives for cutting a few more calories or incorporating a more well-rounded diet. If you do not want to do this old-school style with a notebook, there are plenty of free online tools that are available. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. If you sign up, look for my username (katiemkey) and add me as a friend! We can hold each other accountable and encourage each other! I have been slacking for the past…oh, several months…but I am back on the wagon as TODAY!

Don't hate. You know the wallpaper in my office is AWESOME.

I am a steak and potatoes kind of girl. Growing up in South Louisiana, our staple dinners revolved around things served with or on white rice or with or on white French bread. Refined sugars, much? I knew I needed to balance out my diet but the thought of downing broccoli made my stomach turn. One day, while complaining about eating carrots, a friend of mine (who happens to be the founder of LiveLong Nutrition) suggested I start drinking my greens. At first I was a little skeptical, but I knew I needed the balance. I ordered some and I have now grown to love drinking my greens! I am not going to lie, it takes some getting used to. When I first tried them, I had mix them with blueberry juice and water (the blueberry juice was strong enough to “hide” the taste of the greens), but now I just mix them with water, shake, drink, and go on down the road! You get used to the taste, I promise. I find that when I drink them I have more energy and increased mental clarity. I also feel like they keep my system flushed of junky stuff.

Body cleanses are not for the faint of heart. Different diet cleanses effect your body in different ways and you have stomach that churns easily, you will need to choose wisely. There are all kinds of cleanses ranging from 7 days to 2 months. I have tried many of them and I have finally found one that works great for me. I absolutely LOVE the 2-Part Cleanse and Flush Detoxify and Eliminate from Smoothie King. It is a 21-day cleanse and I can absolutely notice a difference in my body when I start this program…even within the first couple of days. In fact, when I quit breastfeeding, I could not wait to get out and pick up this cleanse to help flush my system. I have tried the cleanses that are in the 7-14 day range and they are just too harsh for me. I would go into more detail here, but suffice it to say, they are ROUGH on the system. I find that this cleanse, in particular, is effective and mild on my stomach. I have done it at least a handful of times now and I am currently on it now. I highly recommend it and for less than $25, it might be worth trying.

So, obviously I like to run, right? But did you know that I also love cycling, rock climbing, hiking, and Zumba? I did not know how much I would love these things until I forced myself to try them. In fact, after switching out one run per week with a workout on the bike, I have never trimmed inches and gotten faster with my running so quickly. Plus, the added advantage was that I was training myself for a duathlon without even realizing it! If you are in a running rut, consider adding a new type of cardio that challenges your body in a new way. Here are some things you might like:
• Cycling I swear it will help your speed!
• Zumba So long, muffin top!
• SUP (stand-up paddling) or YOLO boards This can be so relaxing and works out the core and shoulders big time!
• Boxing If you are leery, lots of boxing gyms offer at least one free class so you can try it out!
• Hiking Check out to find a place near you!

Looks fun, right?

If seeing the scale stuck on a number is getting you down…find something or someone that inspires you. There are stories all over the internet of people who have worked hard and lost 10, 20, 100, or even 200 pounds! Want to complain that you are too tired to push it in your work out today? Read a story about Serena Burla, a runner who defeated cancer and went on to the Olympic trials earlier this month. Or just check out the millions of YouTube clips of people competing in marathons and Ironman competitons with prosthetics. If they can overcome, so can YOU!

Okay, okay, so this one is obvious. You think you are already drinking enough? Drink a little more. I cannot reiterate this enough. Water helps replenish all those fluids you lose during exercise and helps you keep your energy up. And if you do decide to do a diet cleanse, drinking water will help you see even better results. I promise.

When all else fails, seek professional help. If you really have tried everything under the sun and you feel that absolutely nothing is helping, there might be some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. A registered dietician or other healthcare professional might be able to see something that you are not and might be able to get you over the hump and moving on to a fitter YOU!

As they say on Celebrity Fit Club, the scale doesn’t lie. Calories in have to be less than calories out. That is just the way it is. However, keep in mind that the scale is not everything. In the past, I have been 140 pounds and wearing size 8 jeans and I have been 140 pounds wearing size 4 jeans. Yes, muscle is denser than fat and therefore weighs more but do not use that as an excuse. Be conscious of the scale and be conscious of how you feel.

When you feel “stuck” or that you can’t push through, how do you get over the hump? What advice would you give to someone who feels stuck? What tips, products, or techniques work for you?

Running Fuel: Peanut/Nut Butter

31 Oct

“When it comes to the food choices runners can make, you can’t do much better than peanut butter.” – Nancy Clark, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

I have a serious addiction to peanut butter. Looking back, I think I have eaten peanut butter (at least a spoonful) in one way or another every single day over the last several years. Well, let me back track…I love not only peanut butter, but just about any type of nut butter.

Not only is peanut butter tasty, but it is one of the satisfying foods a runner can add to his/her diet. For example, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter on it will make you feel fuller than a plain piece of white toast. This fullness lasts much longer than if you had consumed simple carbohydrates alone (like pretzels, bananas, etc.). Simple carbohydrates spike your insulin levels for energy, but can quickly drop off half-way through your workout. Peanut butter and other nut butters provide a slower, more even release of energy. Extra protein is most beneficial for runners seeking to repair muscle damage caused by intense training. In addition, protein and fiber in peanut butter pack quite a punch and fuel you better without adding lots of “bad” fat. The type of fat in peanut butter is called unsaturated fat. It can help lower cholesterol and, in general, make the heart function better…also great for runners!

The first step in adding peanut butter to your diet is to find the right type of peanut butter. Be sure and find the most natural or low-sugar kind that you can, with the fewest ingredients. Often, very natural nut butters will separate in the jar a bit, with oil forming on top. This is okay and should not scare you off. This just means the nut butter you are eating does not contain anything funky like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as a binder. (This is good.) You might have to stir it up a bit before eating it, but the health benefits of fewer ingredients are worth the 5 seconds you spend stirring it up.

Here are some of my favorite choices for peanut/nut butters:

Usually, I just grab a spoon and scoop out a spoonful for a little extra energy or before heading out for a run. The individual packets are extremely handy for snacking on-the-go and are not messy at all. I can typically find all of these brands at my local Whole Foods, Super Target or Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

When incorporating peanut butter into a snack or a meal, I like to get creative and try and add in some other ingredients for extra carbohydrates and vitamins. Here are some of my favorite concoctions.

Peanut Butter + Honey + Banana + English Muffin = Breakfast of Champions!
I start out by toasting the English muffin. Once it gets warm and toasty, the peanut butter spreads on really easily. This usually lets me use less peanut butter (saving a few calories) with still getting the same flavor. Drizzle a little honey and then topped with little sliced rounds of banana.

Peanut Butter + Honey + Red Delicious Apple + Whole Wheat Bread = Best Sandwich EVER.
I never thought this would be a yummy sandwich until I actually ordered it at a vegetarian restaurant several years ago. It was so delicious and I was determined to make it at home, though healthier with lower sugar peanut butter and much less honey than they had used. The key here is slicing the apples thin and putting a little peanut butter on both pieces of the bread so that everything sticks together. I’m not a huge fan of tart apples, but I have been told it is delicious with those as well.

Peanut Butter + Strawberry or Grape Jam or Jelly + Reduced Fat Plain Graham Crackers = Unconventional Chilled Treat.
I first had this yummy delight while walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. You basically make a PB&J but with graham crackers instead of bread. The kicker here is to then wrap them in wax paper or saran wrap and stick them in the refrigerator or freezer for a little while to get it good and chilled. It is delicious, especially when the graham cracker starts getting a little soft from the moisture in the peanut butter and jelly. It is pretty important that you chill these to make the PB&J mixture firm. If you eat it right away, it will just squish out the sides. Just trust me on this one and try it!

Andre the Giant!

NEW PRODUCT ALERT!!Did you know that Gu Energy is now making a peanut butter flavor energy gel? Yes! I have not been able to find it yet, but I can assure you that all hell might break loose when I get my hands on them! Must. Find. Them.

Are YOU a peanut butter fanatic like me? How do you eat your peanut butter? What are YOUR favorite brands and flavors?

Running Fuel – Long Run Cake

20 Sep

The other day I finally got around to cracking open my October issue of Runner’s World magazine.  Normally I do the happy dance boogie all the way from the mail box across the street through my front door when it arrives, but lately I have been so busy that I did not have time to read through it until the other night.

This month’s issue has a fantastic section called “Secrets of the Marathon Chefs” where different chefs who are also runners share their favorite recipes for pre-race and post-race snacks and meals.  Being a wannabe foodie, the pages that followed got me all excited!  I love, love, love to cook, but growing up in the South has left me with an arsenal of recipes of super cheesy casseroles and deep-fried…well, ANYTHING.  Delicious comfort food? Yes! Fuel for my running machine? NO.

The recipe for the Long-Run Cake really piqued my interest.  For one, it is a cakeHELLO!  Secondly, its chocolate cake! (Chef Gesine Bullock-Prado, you are speaking my language!)  Then I started going down the list of ingredients.  I am sure the look on my face went from sheer excitement to utter confusion with ingredients like black beans, oat flour, and coffee.  I could not have ever imagined that a chocolate cake made with black beans could possibly be tasty, but always looking for an adventure, I decided to give it a whirl.  Off to Whole Foods to get my ingredients!

Ingredients! Ready to bake!

To get started, you can either check out the recipe in the October issue of Runner’s World (Page 67) or you can view and print the online version here!

Specifically, the ingredients I used were:
1 cup all-natural (no sugar added) Archer Farms applesauce (Target, already had this)
1 15.5oz can 365 black beans (Whole Foods)
1 ½ cups Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour (Whole Foods)
1 cup Ghirardelli cocoa powder (Whole Foods)
2 teaspoons baking powder (store brand, already had this)
1 teaspoon salt (Morton, already had this)
1 cup Madhava Agave Nectar (Whole Foods)
2 eggs Organic Valley Large Brown Cage-Free (Whole Foods)
¼ cup Maxwell House coffee (already had this)
1 teaspoon McCormick vanilla (already had this)

I wanted to use ALL organic/natural ingredients as I thought this might produce the best output, but I also did not want to be wasteful, so I did use some ingredients that I already had.

The first step was to blend the applesauce and black beans in a food processor.  I was VERY wary about this step, but the black beans blended pretty smoothly and, when combined, the mixture did not smell like anything other than applesauce.

Black Beans + Applesauce

Next up was to mix the agave syrup and eggs with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  My (heavy) electric mixer was on a high shelf and I could not get it down by myself, so I mixed this the old-fashioned way…by hand.  I could not get the full fluffiness an electric mixer would have gotten, but the ingredients were mixed nonetheless.

I continued down the recipe, finally combining all ingredients to make this super yummy-smelling batter.  Look, it even LOOKS like regular cake batter!  (I don’t need no stinkin’ Pillsbury!)

Yummy Long-Run Cake Batter!

The recipe said to pour the batter into 12 mini loaf pans, but I do not have those, so I used a silicone 9” x 9” KitchenAid baking square.

And into the oven...

20 minutes later at 350° F…


My first thoughts on seeing it come out of the oven…

  • Its pretty dense and not nearly as fluffy as the photo.  However, I know this is most likely my own fault for not using the electric mixer.  Next time, I will think ahead and have my husband take it down for me.
  • It smells delicious!  I used a high quality cocoa (as suggested in the article) and I think that made a lot of the difference.  It smelled so chocolately!

My first thoughts on tasting it once it was cooled…

  • My cake falls somewhere between cake and brownie on the chewiness scale.  It was definitely chewier than a cake, but still fluffier than a brownie.  The texture was definitely not a deterrent though!
  • It was GOOD!  You have to approach a cake like this knowing it is not going to taste like a chocolate birthday cake from the bakery.  For being a high-protein pre-run snack, it really hits the spot!  I think it has just the right amount of sweetness to make it tasty, but certainly not so much so that it leaves your body (and brain) craving more.  To me, it was just right!
  • The amount of chocolately-ness and flavor remind me a lot of the chocolate VitaMuffins VitaTops or one of the Chocolate Brownie Clif Kid ZBars.

I opted not to make the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing that was also suggested in the recipe.  That part of the recipe was only available online and I was working out of the magazine, though I still do not think I would have made it.  While it does sound crazy delicious (and I would definitely make it in the future), the goal here was to master a gluten-free, high-protein, high-fiber snack.  SUCCESS!

Last night, I covered the leftovers with aluminum foil and put it in the fridge.  This morning I cut a square to take with me on the road to eat for breakfast.  STILL YUMMY!

My overall thoughts…
Should you try this?  Yes.
Should you follow the instructions and use an electric mixer? Yes.
Should you keep an open mind about baking with black beans?  Yes.
Should you expect that this cake tastes like your grandma’s that she makes with sour cream, butter, and lard? No.
Will I make this again?  YES!

Have you seen this recipe in Runner’s World?  If so, what did you think of it?  Will you be trying it?

This is NOT a runner’s diet.

30 Jun

There are articles GALORE about foods runners should absolutely incorporate into their diets. I read them all the time. In fact, here is a really great article I found in the Runner’s World archives.

I really do try hard to incorporate more eggs, nuts, whole grains, etc. into my diet. I REALLY do. But I am human, and sometimes I just want something bad for me. (And being pregnant certainly doesn’t do a thing to quell these cravings…) I run almost every day, and when I am not running, I am cycling, swimming, strength training, etc. Sometimes I just give in and eat my “bad” foods…even though I know I shouldn’t…because I feel like I deserve it. I know this is a bad way of thinking too and it is and attitude that I am also trying to adjust.

I am really trying to stop this though. Once upon a time, when I was training really hard, I thought about food solely as fuel. I was at the point where I did not even care what something tasted like, as long as it was the right fuel at the right time of the day. These days, I am at a different point in my life (though I look forward to training that hard again one day) and my relationship with food is a bit different.

So, today, I have decided to expose myself. (No, not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter!) On some level, I feel like if I share with you these “bad” foods I eat that I will manage to shame myself into staying away from them. Let’s see if it works.

Here are some things I love. Feel free to be shocked. Now that I see them all in one place, I know I am.


Please keep in mind that I’m not saying I eat these things often. However, I know I just should not eat them AT ALL. It makes me **shuddercringeshudder** to even take a peek at how many calories or bad ingredients are in these things. High fructose corn syrup? Sodium? FAT??

Certainly I am not the only one who indulges in “bad” foods, right?

What are some foods you eat that might shock your training buddies? What do you indulge in that you know you shouldn’t? I promise not to tell.  😉

Day 1: Operation Dairy-Free

10 May

Today I have decided to start a journey into being dairy-free.  My decision to go dairy-free is based on nothing more than personal choice.  I am not lactose intolerant and I have not developed any medical condition that is insisting that I do so.  I do love me some meat though, so don’t go getting all crazy and thinking I’m giving up the occasional steak.

I have several runner and triathlete friends who have gone dairy-free (including my IronMan brother).  All of them have had great results in getting leaner naturally and feeling a lot better athletically.

Being the science geek, I’ve decided to experiment with my body to see how it works for me.  After all, that’s what I did when I started running.  I tried out different foods, energy bars, electrolyte drink mixes to find out what worked and what didn’t work.  I know that experimenting with my nutrition during pregnancy might strike some people as a bad idea, but if I know my body better than anyone else and if I feel like anything at all is out of whack, I’ll go back to doing what I’ve been doing.  But for now, game on!

I’m excited! (I think.)  Since I know it will be more important to focus on things I CAN eat instead of things I CAN’T eat, I’m going to make this one long list of things I’ll miss just so that I can get it out there and not think about them again.  Here goes…

  • Ice Cream/Fro-Yo
  • Mexican Restaurant Queso
  • Sour Cream
  • Eggs
  • Cheese of all flavors and varieties
  • Yogurt
  • Cheez Its
  • Graham Crackers

(Please note that I reserve the right to add to this list at any time and for any reason.) 🙂

Okay, so the list wasn’t as long and terrible as I had imagined. And I know that these days there are some awesome non-dairy food substitutions…I just have to find what tastes good to me.

So far, my food choices today have been in-line…peanut butter/honey/apple breakfast sandwich on an English muffin, 3oz of ham, and a Clif Kid Organic ZBar Chocolate Chip.  I’m about to eat some popcorn, which I’m pretty sure is allowed too.  At least I hope so. If not, I’m screwed.

Have you ever tried eliminating things from your diet? How did it work out effect your running, cycling, etc.?  What non-dairy “must try” foods to you suggest?