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My ideas and experiences in exercising, hiking, and healing, and reviews of products to help you stay healthy.
The Most Important Meal

Belvita Breakfast Biscuits

Do I Deserve Breakfast?

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that even when dieting, you should never skip breakfast. I get that. After starving for 8 or so hours throughout the night, I'm famished when I wake up in the morning. Skipping breakfast would be torture for me. How would I conduct Homeschool in the morning when I'm hangry?

I usually try to workout in the morning before breakfast. And this morning, I was wearing short workout shorts since we've been having a heatwave here in Seattle. As I was doing my side plank, I saw how my thighs hung down like big blobs of goo. And I thought, for that, I don't deserve any breakfast!

But remembering the old adage about breakfast being the most important meal of the day, I decided it was best to eat breakfast, but I would cut it in half. And I actually found it easier to do than I thought it would be. Lately I've been eating Belvita Breakfast Biscuits for breakfast. They are whole grain, not to sweet, contain a little protein, and not too high in calories. Plus, my son and I think they are pretty yummy.

Cutting Meal Portions

I've been eating one pack of these biscuits in the morning. They come 4 biscuits to a pack. It used to be that I would eat two packs. But I've since cut it to one. And today, I ate only half a pack. Will I survive? I think so. My plan is to just cut my meal portions at the same time as eating healthier foods. I am noticing my stomach capacity is shrinking as I am no longer cramming it full with everyone's leftovers. That way, I am feeling more satisfied with less.

I imagine Matt Damon on "The Martian" rationing out 1 small potato per day. Not that that's all I want to eat. But it's all about the caloric deficit. Eating a little less than what your body needs causes it to start using the energy stored as fat. That was really hard for me when I first started trying to do that.

Eating Until I'm Sick

My loose, stretched out tummy would be craving to be stuffed to the max. That feeling would bug me all day long. And honestly, I would break down at dinner and stuff myself a little. But then I would get that opposite feeling of being too full. A sick bloated belly suffering from food gluttony. I realized that feeling was almost worse than hunger.

I decided to try to pay better attention to my body and eat each meal until my body felt it was enough. Rather than eating until I was stuffed, beyond full. This was a little hard to get used to. I noticed that about 30-60 minutes after a meal, I felt like my tummy was empty again. But I fought through it until the next meal.

The Incredible Shrinking Stomach

After a few weeks of this, I started to get used to it and actually welcomed the feeling of hunger. It told me that I was doing my part in cutting down on my portions. Soon, my stomach started to shrink and required less food in order to feel satisfied. I still crave desert after dinner sometimes. But now, I'm noticing myself eating just a few cookies rather than the half the pack or the whole pack.

I think working out during dieting is very important. The body also uses energy stored in muscle tissue during your caloric deficit. Keeping the muscles toned keeps the muscle tissue building. Once I lost the bulk of my body fat, the weight loss slowed down. I'm sure part of it is a battle between burning stored muscle tissue verses fat tissue. The last several pounds of fat are probably the hardest to loose.

Losing Post Baby Fat

Eating for Two

When I was a teenager, I remember my mom complaining about how having four kids made her gain so much weight. I never really appreciated the truth in that statement until I myself had kids. When you get pregnant, your doctor and books tell you to eat well, which includes lots of protein and fats. Because you are "eating for two!" When you are breastfeeding, they tell you to eat even more because your body uses so much energy to produce milk.

Eating More to Produce Milk

I hadn't gained too terribly much weight after the first child. But not long after I had our first child, we had a second one. I vowed not to pig out this time during pregnancy. And it worked, I didn't put on as much weight during the second pregnancy. But I started to eat a lot while breastfeeding, which when on for almost a year and a half for the second time.

By the time our second child was 4, I started to notice myself continuously packing on the pounds, and for no good reason really. Mostly it was out of habit and probably the fact that my stomach was all stretched out and could fit and demanded a lot more food than my body needed.

Eating Everyone's Leftovers

I had a bad habit of finishing my kids' leftovers. Not just one kid, but both. I didn't want to throw the food away, so I figured if I eat it, it won't go to waste. Well, little did I know that it still did. It went to lay waste to my body, stuffing it unnecessarily  in my adipose tissue.

At birthday parties, I would finish off both of their snack plates and then stake a claim on the cakes they didn't finish. And that was typical of every meal. I would eat my meal, the unfinished portions of their meals, my dessert, and the unfinished portions of their desserts.

Time to Cut Back

I realized that something needed to be done. At this rate, I was going to continue gaining weight indefinitely. I decided to cut back on desserts. I planned to avoid desserts at all costs. Well, the costs were too great. I just couldn't do it. I love dessert and would eat it first before every meal if I could.

So I decided to stop eating their leftovers. Well, it broke my heart to watch so much food go into the garbage. Most of the time, I just didn't have the heart to go through with it.

I remember long ago, before kids and marriage, I would always make it a point to leave some food left on my plate for my dog. The clean plate club shunned me. But I was thin then. I didn't force myself to eat everything on my plate, as I later learned to do.

I figured I would try that technique. And it was hard to see that small morsel of food sitting in the corner of my plate looking lonely and wanting to be eaten in just a couple of bites. Most days I would go for seconds, let alone not finish my first helping.

Trying to Burn Calories

I thought maybe more exercise would do the trick. I had heard that if you get muscular, your muscle tissue will use up so many calories that you will lose fatty tissue. Strangely, it seemed the reverse was true. It seemed the more I worked out, the heavier and fatter I looked. Didn't make logical sense to me, but I didn't like the way I was looking at all.

I remember telling my doctor long ago that it is when I go walking that I lose weight. So I tried that. Turned out that all that walking only made me hungrier. My caloric intake increased, and I got nowhere.

The Caloric Deficit

Last ditch attempt was to "starve" myself. Just allow myself to go hungry. Sounds bad, doesn't it? I didn't think it would work because I've heard that if you starve yourself, your body will kick into storage mode, storing as much fat as possible in case of starvation.

But lo and behold, that was what worked. The caloric deficit. The body cannot use the fat reserves unless it needs to. And it won't need to unless you eat less than what you need. Then the body will start cutting into "savings". It is simple math, and it works.

Now, when I say "starving" in this context, it is not literal, like you are in nutritional danger. It just means to eat less than you need. Easier said than done. There is a lot of crankiness involved in doing that. I'm talking about being HANGRY all the time. Not good for the people around you. But think of it like any other addiction. When people quit smoking, they go through that phase where they are grumpy and anxious. Well, I believe I've had a food addition. My body has gotten so use to consuming massive quantities of food that it needs it to be happy and calm.

It is so hard to eat less than you need. I workout or walk, I still have to eat small quantities. Otherwise, what was the point of the workout or the walk?

When I worked my first real job, I remember getting done with school and going straight to work. I was always so hungry because I didn't have time to get snack or a decent dinner. I was quite thin then. I decided that was the feeling I would have to have if I am to lose weight. I have to live with that feeling of being hungry.

What Has Worked For Me

Fast forward to today. I have lost about 10 pounds of extra fat over the past year. It has not been easy. I still have a bit of fat to lose and muscle to gain. But I have become more used to practicing all the weight-loss techniques that I experimented with.

  1. Don't eat your kids' leftovers. Throw their leftovers away or save it for later.
  2. Skip or skimp on dessert. Maybe eat some fruit instead? If you must dessert, then just eat a small amount.
  3. Don't finish everything on your plate. Start by leaving the last bite "for the dog". Eventually you will stop when you have had enough no matter how much food is on your plate.
  4. Eat less than you need. Do the math. Let your body reach into "savings".
  5. Get used to being hungry all the time. It will be hard at first, but eventually you will equate that feeling with losing weight.

Open Back Workout Top & Colorful Crisscross Sports Bra

Baleaf Yoga top & Charmleaks Sports BraI never thought I'd wear workout clothes outside of the gym, which I no longer go to, since I workout at home now. I see lots of gals at the store and stuff wearing yoga pants and tops. I never understood it. Why would you wear that if you are not working out? And if you were working out, wouldn't you change out of your sweaty gym clothes before you went shopping?

But alas, with my son getting bigger, more active, and into sports and stuff, I found myself having to play ball with him and run around the track and obstacle courses. Phew, makes my heart start winding up just writing about it.

So I had to kick my gladiator sandals to the curb for a while and lace up my hardly used Nike Tanjuns. I even pulled out my old workout clothes from years ago so that I don't split my regular shorts running around.

My hubby decided to get me some new workout clothes. *Thank you* I picked out a black open back tank and a colorful sports bra that matches my Nikes :-)  Makes me feel a little like Jennifer Aniston in her cute running outfits that she wore on the Mother's Day movie.

The Black Tank Top

The yoga top he got me online is called Baleaf Women's Soft Lightweight Cowl Back Workout Yoga Sleeveless Shirts. I am 5ft 105lbs and got a size Small. It seems to fit pretty well.  It is long in the back and covers my whole bottom, and reaches down to my upper hamstrings.

Baleaf Yoga Top & Charmleaks Sports BraIt seems more slimming than other "yoga" tops, so I like it. Baggy workout tops me look big in the middle. The large opening hole in the back helps with cooling. And the drapey cowl in the back gives it extra style.

There are other colors of this cute yoga top, in case you've got enough black tops. These tops are so classy-looking that I think they would look pretty worn as a regular top, not necessarily just for working out. And while I was out at Target today, I saw some regular bras with pretty racerback designs that would look nice under this top.

The Criss-Cross Sports Bra

The colorful sports bra, also from Amazon, is called CharmLeaks Womens WorkOut Wirefree CrossBack Padded Running Yoga Sports Sport Bra. I would say it provides light support. Doing yoga and pilates would be fine. But training for a marathon, not so much.

The color and design is what sold me, though. It is very pretty and unique. It gives you a little shape so you don't flatten out underneath the tank top. Most of all, I love the purplish-raspberry color of the criss-cross strap in the back (my favorite color). A little bit of strap peaks out over the front shoulders as well, adding a little interest to the front.

From reading the reviews of the sports bra, it sounded like the cups were really small. I originally ordered a Medium, and it was waaaayy too big on me. I got a Small, and it fits fine. I am a 34B.

If you are in the market for some new yoga or workout tops, I would recommend this combination. But be warned, you might get some compliments! BTW, this top is great for hiking, too.

Must... Have... Water!

Red Town TrailI went on a little hike last weekend. Living near Cougar Mountain, there are so many trails, just minutes from our house. I decided to scope one out to see if it would be a good one to take my kids to. I brought our trusty little dog with me for company.

I parked at the Red Town Trailhead in Bellevue. There were several trails to take, but the one I was aiming for was the one that led to the waterfall. I kept following the signs until I got there. It was a fairly easy trail, except for one part that was pretty steep. I feel like all the elevation gain was in this steep switchback area. It winded me pretty badly, but it was exhilarating!

The waterfall was mostly dried up, with a small trickle that I let the dog drink out of. I should have taken a picture for you, but I was so disappointed in it, that I didn't think it would be worth it at the time. It would be interesting to see it in the spring after a little rain. But I read that the trail can get muddy, and that would be no fun to hike on.

Most of the trail was forested with nice cool shade from the evergreens above. The route I hiked took about 1-1/2 hours to the waterfall and back. Pretty quick in and out. I would definitely do this hike again, and maybe take some different turns and try out the different trails there. If I find a route without so many steep switchbacks, I might bring the kids.

Camelbak Hydration backpackI was glad to have brought my Camelbak hydration backpack on the hike. My brother gave it to me as a gift after he came back from Afghanistan. Apparently, it is what they used out there in the desert. He remembered how I would hike with multiple bottles of water for myself and the dog. The Camelbak is an enormous improvement. I've never left for a hike without it.

Dog Drinking from CamelbackIt gives you hands free hiking for dog handling, using a walking stick, or just tree hugging. It is pretty slim and low profile, carrying it on your back. It holds plenty of water for me and the dog. She got pretty good at catching the stream as I sprayed it into her mouth.

The Camelbak is also perfect for biking. You don't have to stop, pull out a water bottle, open it up, drink, close it up, and put it back. You just reach for the tube, bite down, suck a few gulps of water out, and drop the tube. Easy as that.

The drinking tube is fed by gravity from the main reservoir inside the backpack. The tube goes over your shoulder and down the strap of the backpack. Makes it easily accessible, as it drapes down toward your hip.

There are also a couple of small pockets on the pack. I put a couple of granola bars, dog treats, tissue, car keys, and my ID in it. That's all I needed on the hike!

Can a 5yo Run Circles Around a 44yo?

Nike Tanjun Running ShoesMy underarms are killing me this morning. I did monkey bars with my 5yo yesterday. Trying to keep up with him at the park made me rethink my workout routines!

We did an obstacle course around the play ground. I climbed up every climbing apparatus, slid down every slide, walked across the shaky bridge, and as you know, dangled across the monkey bars a few times.

I also chased him up and down the field as he kicked the soccer ball, threw a football with him, played frisby. And as the finale, raced him around the track.

Thankfully, the only thing that aches so far today are my underarms. I can thank my electric violet Nike Tanjun running shoes for that. I got them last year, but they still look brand new.

I've been a slacker all the previous times I've taken him to the park. As a bystander sitting on a bench, I haven't gotten much exercise at the park. My poor little Nikes have been benched too, sitting pretty in a little shoe box, waiting for an occasion to go running.

Colors of Nike TanjunSo yesterday, I decided would be the day to take them out for a spin. And they were definitely the right choice. The Nike Tanjuns are light as a feather and very well made. As I ran around the track, chasing after my son, I felt as if I could actually make it all the way around. The soft comfy shoes seemed to give me that extra lift and push as I felt my feet spring back off the ground with each step.

These running shoes are so soft all over the top, it feels like wearing socks. There are no areas of the shoe that push on my feet or toes. The soles are soft and springy. The shoes are weightless and great to run in. They made me realize how much I miss running. It's been over 10 years since I used to run regularly. I thought maybe I should get back into it. I won a free entry for a half marathon in a raffle. Maybe I should start training for it. Only if I can do it with my Tanjuns :-)

The only thing I wish these shoes had is better arch support. But this was easily fixed by adding little stick on arch supports. I love the Fab Feet ones from Target. They are light-weight and fit into every shoe I have, including sandals.

I love the violet color that I got. They especially stand out nicely when I'm wearing an all black workout outfit. But they come in so many colors of the rainbow. If I were to get another pair (or two), I would probably get the all black, the olive green, or the mango.

Foam Rolling

I kept getting talked into foam rollers by my trainer and chiropractor. Now I can't live without it.. I foam roll my back every morning. A big part of it is to stretch out my arms and chest after being in a curled up sleeping position all night. It's a great way to open up the posture.

Another huge reason I foam roll is to massage the kinks out of my back and shoulders. Ever since I turned 30, those kinks love to resurface as gravity pulls my posture into a pain-inducing slouched position. The foam roller helps with this immensely!

I got a foam roller from my chiropractor for about $25. It felt good for a long while. Until I borrowed my brother's foam roller at his house. It was a lot harder and more dense. Boy did that massage those kinks in my back. He told me he got it from Amazon. So my hubby got one for me, and lo and behold, angels singing, it works wonders. I'd be lost without my foam roller. It is a wonderful way to wake up the body in the morning, with a great stretch and back massage!

I use the foam roller every morning. I love to lie down on it on the floor and roll side to side to get a nice back massage. And then stretch my arms out to the side and up to get an amazing stretch.


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