Monday, January 27, 2014

Diet and Excercise Update

I wanted to give a quick update on how our diet and exercise program is going.

Yesterday was our first trip back to the state park since Toddlesworth's tumble into cactus. I have done something terrible to my back and not been able to exercise like we have been for about a week. I had a doctor's appointment today to try to get my spine realigned. None the less, we wanted to try to make a go of it, even if we had to turn back quickly. Toddlesworth got onto the path and stopped before the first (trodden,  skeletal) cactus on the trail. "Cac'us!" he remarked, concerned. "It's ok," we told him, "as long as you stay on the path, you'll be fine! You can do it!"  He stared at the ground the entire time he carefully walked over the cactus, then proudly proclaimed "I did it!"  We congratulated him, and he continued to carefully make his way over other mashed cactus, saying "I did it!" every time. Eventually my back started acting up and we had to turn back, and he even wanted to continue forward. It was awful to see how well he remembered and feared the path, but great to see him conquer his fear a couple steps at a time.

We have each gotten an app to track our calories for each meal/the day, and counting calories has become something of a game, albeit not a terribly fun one.  Technically, the specific type of 'diet' my app prescribes is called "volumetrics."  Basically, you can eat 400 calories of chocolate or 400 calories of apples, but you're going to feel fuller on the apples.  We have been gaming the system just a bit by researching low calorie foods and trying to fill up on them.
We've tried a few new foods; Toddlesworth picked out a butternut squash and a head of red cabbage the last time we took him to the store. Lord C was pleasantly surprised by the sweet and sour cabbage I cooked up, so much so that we have since bought more cabbage!  Last night I tried cooking anise, another very low calorie vegetable. It has promise, but I undercooked it, not wanting to overdo it. I'll be trying it again the next time we go grocery shopping.
I have also been avoiding added sugar whenever possible, and for the first time in my life I have been trying sugar substitutes. I have been pleasantly surprised by the results. We purchased xylitol and stevia, and have been using those in recipes. I conducted a coffee taste test to discover that out of all the standard non-sugar sweeteners, I prefer sweet 'n low. I find this amusing, since I always thought they were disgusting as a child. I even found that it has less of an aftertaste than the stevia substitutes I purchased. I may switch over to those after I've gone through the other packages.
We are finding places where we can use different products with lower calories without losing (any, or much) taste. One place we have done this a couple times is with breakfast. We made oatmeal for more than a week in a row, without getting sick of it. We started with adding dates (another new food-mejool dates are excellent!), two to a serving of oatmeal. Dates are delicious but high in calories-about 67 for one date, so we fairly quickly cut this down to two total, and then I decided to switch it out with the zero calorie sweeteners in my serving. The next time we were at the store we compared calorie content of all of the non-dairy milks. We were stunned to find that while soy milk might have as much as 120 calories a serving, unsweetened almond milk came in at just 30 calories for a cup.  We switched to using this as our oatmeal base, using half almond milk and half water, and our morning meal went from as much as half our calories in a day down to 1/6th or so.  This leaves more wiggle room for 'treats' later in the day. 

I have gone over on my calories a few times, but for the most part I have kept to where I'm supposed to be. It is important for me to come in a bit under so that I can have some sort of treat at night, even if it is just a square of chocolate. (Or a breadstick, like last night!)
We have hidden each others problem food. I have stashed fritos away, and Lord C hid my breadsticks, so that we can have a serving without gorging on the entire container. Bread products are my biggest weakness, but I have been doing a pretty good job of avoiding them-I even resorted to (tofutti) cream cheese and jam on rice cakes instead of a bagel--about a 190 calorie difference. Another great weakness is fried potato products. I plan to avoid those altogether, and have been successful so far.
One of the calorie gaming tricks we have learned is using those bags of noodles that you can find in the tofu section of the super market--Shirataki noodles. Those things can be as low as 6 calories a serving.  (rice noodles are more like 200 per serving) Occasionally it is nice to be able to fill up on a warm meal, rather than salad.  We can make our macaroni and cheese sauce as fatty as usual, (Daiya and margarine are very high calorie foods!)  and add a negligible amount of calories with these noodles, even if we eat four servings.

My success story for the last couple of weeks was probably when I made cake for Toddles. We went to a baby shower where there was cake, and Toddles wanted some. Of course, it was not vegan, so he couldn't eat any, but I promised I would make him some the next day.  The next day I looked at the box of cake mix. I looked at the glass baking pan. I looked at the calorie content---210 calories, 10 servings. I knew I would eat the entire freaking cake if I baked it all, and man did that sound appealing... but I decided to make the better choice and mix up a single microwave coffee cup cake for Toddles, and only ate the two bites he insistently shoved into my face. I felt good about the choice after it was done, and now I feel like we are both conquering our issues a few steps at a time.

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