Fast Food Choices

Sometimes you just can’t avoid it: you are out longer than you planned and get hungry or even with the best of intentions, you forgot to pack something for while you were on the go.

kaboompics.com_Two apples on the board

I have been in this situation plenty of times throughout my weight loss journey so far, and would like to share with you some of my fast food go tos:

  • McDonald’s: grilled chicken patty by itself around 120 calories, grilled chicken sandwich or salad 310-350 calories, side salad with light or vinegar based dressing should be around 80-100 calories max, apple slices 15 calories, and fruit & yogurt parfait 130-160 calories (depends if you add the granola). As a bonus the ice cream cone makes a good low calorie treat for 170 calories, less if you get the kiddie cone. (mcdonalds.com)
  • Burger King: whopper Jr. 300 calories or 240 without mayo, tendergrill sandwich 460 calories or 350 without mayo, apple slices as a side 30 calories. They also have a cone which is 160 calories. (burgerking.com)
  • Wendy’s: grilled chicken wrap 270 calories, small chili 170 calories, side salad with light or vinegar based dressing should be 80-100 calories at most, crispy chicken sandwich 350 calories, and 4pc chicken nuggets 230 calories. (wendys.com)
  • Taco Bell: fresco shredded chicken soft taco 170 calories, fresco burrito supreme with chicken 340 calories, and bean burrito 370 calories. (tacobell.com)
  • Culver’s: snack pack buffalo chicken strips with small fry and diet/0 calorie drink 470 or snack pack with regular chicken strips and small fry and diet drink 510 calories. (culvers.com)
  • Dairy Queen: grilled chicken wrap 290 calories. (dairyqueen.com)

Obviously I didn’t list all fast food places or even all of the healthier choices at each place, but these are the ones I personally choose most of the time… There are always good or at least “better” choices when you have to eat away from home. If you have a way, such as on your phone or asking for a copy from the restaurant itself, look up nutrition info before buying your food.

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Sweet Tooth Sweet Attack

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Anyone who has any touch of a sweet tooth understands that from time to time, we all crave something sweet! How to handle such a situation when you’re working on your health and trying to lose weight? Calories are precious commodities in our plans, as is the fat and carbs we try to limit to some degree in order to meet our goals!

So here are some of the things I’ve used for under 200 calories:

  • Apple sliced up with cinnamon on it.
  • Apple sliced up with a tablespoon of peanut butter to dip.
  • Banana with peanut butter to dip (obviously the banana’s slippery lol, so you might need a spoon or fork!)
  • Peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, strawberries, basically any fruit that has a satisfying sweet taste is great!
  • Fruit with low calorie whip cream on top!
  • Canned fruit mixed with applesauce, yum! Low calorie too with lite syrup or water based canned fruit and unsweetened applesauce, around 100-120 calories. Even diced fresh strawberries in applesauce is delicious!
  • Unsweetened applesauce with a little bit of cinnamon mixed in.
  • Yogurt (regular/Greek) either with fruit or other dessert flavor or with fresh fruit added in.
  • Greek yogurt with peanut butter and/or bananas mixed in.
  • Low calorie pudding with fresh fruit mixed in, I prefer vanilla with diced banana.
  • Fiber One brownies occasionally since they are only 90 calories and really hit the spot for me.
  • Granola bars/Nutrigrain type bars.
  • Skinny Cow ice creams, which come in a variety of flavors and kinds with low calories.
  • Ice cream sandwiches, I personally use any brand and usually just regular or chocolate for 160-170 calories.
  • Ice cream cone from McDonald’s is only 170 calories, less if you get the kiddie cone!
  • Whole wheat/whole grain toast with honey nut or strawberry cream cheese for around 150-190 calories total.
  • Dry cereal occasionally if I’m desperate such as Life, Cheerios, or other relatively low calorie choices. This depends on what we have in the house.

The honey nut cream cheese was actually something my brother got but when I was craving something sweet and we didn’t have anything in the house, I tried that thinking the toast would fill me up and discovered that the honey taste really hit the spot. I used it another time when I was craving something sweet too. I haven’t had any strawberry cream cheese recently but I know from past experiences that it can hit the sweet spot too.

Most of these packaged foods are only occasional as I don’t keep many of them in the house on a regular basis, but they are good on the occasion that we do have them. I especially like the Fiber One brownies because I can keep them in my own space (away from grabby hands) and eat one as needed. I have by no means cut out processed foods entirely, and still turn to them pretty regularly. That is something I will work on as I continue my journey, but I do try to at least make a good effort to eat healthier options that are natural or minimally processed. Sometimes I do better than others, but it’s a process.

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Some of these could even serve as dessert with your dinner, or as an evening snack as most are really low calorie and/or healthy on some level.

So when you’re having a sweet attack, try something from this list and see if it works for you!

What are your go-to sweet treats that are low calorie and/or healthy? Do you have anything to add to this list? I know I didn’t list everything, because there are so many options so feel free to share! Passing along what you turn to can really help others in their own journeys.

~Bonnie~

Super Easy and Simple “Recipe”

Do you ever have a strong craving for something sweet, but you don’t want to blow your whole plan? I do and honestly pretty often. I have a huge sweet tooth and sometimes it is just too hard to tame it!

Here is one of my go-to’s to satisfy the sweet tooth:

Fat free and sugar free vanilla pudding mix
2 cups milk (I prefer 1% personally)
Half of a diced banana

The vanilla pudding tastes delicious even without the sugar and fat. I have eaten it by itself as well as with the banana and it hit the spot.

So what you do is prepare the pudding as per the directions on the box, using whatever milk you have available to you. Then after it has set in the fridge, serve yourself a half cup (one serving), dice half of a banana, and mix it together. Sit down and enjoy the sweet and complimentary flavors!

pudding and banana

It’s a dessert, but at least half healthy! Made with 1% milk and half of a small banana, it totals around 115-125 calories for the whole treat! What a lovely low-calorie way to fill your sweet tooth’s cravings! Plus it has the added bonus of 4 grams of protein from the milk!

You could also try other fat free, sugar free pudding flavors mixed with other fresh fruit or even canned fruit and find what works for you if this doesn’t sound good. There are so many options!

~Bonnie~

Are You Struggling to Eat Enough Protein?

Are you getting enough protein?

Protein has always been something I’ve struggled with in the past, and still do some days. It’s an important part of our diet as it helps repair our muscles from strenuous activity and gives us energy, and can also help keep you fuller for longer than carbs. Pairing it with fiber is even better if you can since that is another one that helps keep you fuller longer.

Now before you turn to protein powder or shakes, try these foods:

  • Lean pork, chicken, turkey. Bake it or grill it and limit your oil or try healthy alternatives to keep it low calorie/fat. Most of these choices pack a whopping 20-25 grams of protein for 100-150 calories.
  • Ground turkey or the leanest ground chuck you can get your hands on. Usually 19-20 grams for 160-170 calories.
  • Greek yogurt, which is almost like having a dessert! 12 grams for 90-100 calories, and some even have more than that.
  • Regular yogurt usually has about 5 grams per serving, calories depend on the type you get. I like to get Yoplait light or store brand versions of that for 80-100 calories a piece. It tastes good to me though, and for some it won’t!
  • Cottage cheese. Sometimes this means you have to acquire a taste. I personally love Dutch Farms brand because it tastes the creamiest. 12-13 grams for 80 calories if you get the low fat version.
  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts. Check the nutrition facts and make sure to measure before eating, calories vary 160-200+ calories per quarter cup serving, but have 7-8 grams of protein. Also has significant fiber. This is a high calorie choice but healthy!
  • Nut butter. I have only used peanut butter but that has 7g of protein for 180-200 calories. This is obviously another high calorie choice.
  • Eggs or egg whites. Usually 6 grams for 70 calories or so.
  • Beans, any kind: kidney, black, etc. Most have 6-7 grams for 100-130 calories per half cup serving. Also high in fiber!
  • Milk. All dairy milk should have 8 grams, but calories vary from 90-130 per one cup serving.
  • Cheese. You can get anywhere from 4-7 grams for 60-110 calories.
  • Protein rich cereals such as Kashi GoLean or Special K Protein. These vary 10-13 grams per serving before the milk is added in. There are some others that are 10+ grams after milk is added in but the cereal themselves aren’t as rich with protein as some others. Some protein cereals also have significant fiber.

Keep in mind food can vary a bit in the nutrition facts, and I am just sharing my experiences with these high protein foods so that you know where to start if you’re also struggling with protein.

Of course, this isn’t everything and I couldn’t possibly list it all but these are a few that I personally turn to, some more often than others. You can also make recipes with some of this food to increase protein content mixed with other foods. Play around with it and even find your own high protein foods if you can. Find something you enjoy as well! We should enjoy the foods we eat especially when we’re eating healthy!

Try new foods as well, sometimes you find things that you like and wonder how you lived without knowing it existed before, and that goes for healthy foods as well! As I have mentioned in a previous post, our taste buds change as well so remember that you might like something now that you never did before. This list is definitely a good place to start if you’re unsure though!

~Bonnie~

Tip Tuesday- Tracking Food and Exercise for Weight Loss

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A very big piece of advice I would like to pass along to you is to track your food and exercise, in some shape or form. It has a lot of benefits, more than I could ever list. So here are the highlights.

These are just a few methods of tracking:

  • Online or through an app: Spark People and MyFitnessPal are just a couple that I’ve had personal experience with and have found work well. There are likely countless others.
  • Computer: some programs such as Microsoft Works and Microsoft Word have food and exercise logs. You could also create your own custom food/exercise logs with simple tables or other buttons within some of these programs.
  • Paper and pen: go old school and use a notebook to write down what you have eaten and done for exercise or print logs from programs and use them to write them down.

journaling

Now you may want to know what is so important about tracking food and exercise when you are trying to improve your health and lose weight. I’ll tell you why I believe it to be so important:

  1. To see where you stand throughout the day as well as at the end of it, such as eating within your calorie range, getting enough fruits and vegetables, getting enough protein or fiber, not getting too many carbs or too much fat.
  2. To measure physical capabilities and see how much more you can do compared to when you started or even a couple weeks ago. Some ways to see progress would be with time (minutes), distance, speed, repetitions of strength training exercise, increasing the weights for strength training, etc.
  3. To see what works for you as well as what does not. That way you can repeat what does work and cut out what doesn’t. You will be able to look back and see trends to help you decide your course of action going forward. If you weren’t keeping track, how would you know?

As you track your food and exercise in one form or another, you will also find that it gives you accountability to yourself. It provides you with the chance to see what you’re doing each day in relation to your goals and progress. Keeping track of what you eat and what exercises you do, as well as possibly even how you felt about it if you want, will help you to continuously move forward.

Then as you go along, you will know how to change things as needed and find what works for you. A lot of this weight loss thing is finding what works for you personally. Sure, you can get a million and one ideas from the internet, but some things will work for you and others won’t. Some of it won’t interest you and some simply doesn’t work for you or your body, and this is one way to keep track of that as well.

~Bonnie~

Tip Tuesday- Enjoy Your Journey

The biggest tip I could possibly pass along may actually seem like the simplest:

Enjoy your journey!

This is your journey, and it is so important that you enjoy it as much as you can. The simple part is that in order to enjoy your journey and to keep feeling motivated to continue, all you have to do is find ways to be active that you enjoy doing, and to find healthy (or at least healthier) foods that you enjoy eating.

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Now I’m certain we can all realize that is easier said than done. Sometimes it’s really hard to find things you enjoy doing when you’re building a healthy lifestyle for yourself. My best advice when it’s hard is to experiment and start with the something small. Maybe make a list of things you would like to try or have just never tried before and find interesting, both exercise and food wise. Then give them a try.

Doing a little research beforehand might save you some time and get you off to the right start. I personally love to gather as much information about something as I can without driving myself crazy at the same time, before I delve into an exercise or food. If I don’t do it before, I do it shortly after trying it. Knowledge is power as the saying goes, and it will help you to be prepared so you can get the most out of said exercise or food.

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Another way to enjoy your journey is to realize it is just that, yours. Stop comparing what others are doing to what you’re doing. You have to find what works for you. There is really no one size fits all to weight loss and health. We need to find what works for us individually, things we can stick with long-term. So do things at your own pace, do or don’t do what others are doing, and stick with what works for you.

Lastly, but just as important, is to look for all the positives in each day. From the very beginning I started looking for positives wherever I could. This in no way means that I didn’t feel down or discouraged, because I did and honestly pretty often too. However, I kept searching for the good in my life and in my days. If I couldn’t find anything or I still felt down, I looked forward to the fresh new day that tomorrow would bring. I thought of things I was looking forward to in the near future. It’s tough to retrain our brains to think like that but oh so worth it!

The moral of the story is to find ways to enjoy your journey, make it your own and do your best each day. Keep trying to find what works for you.

~Bonnie~

Foodie Friday- Delicious and Filling Breakfast

My go-to breakfast for quite a while has been this:

  
Toast with peanut butter and sliced banana on top. Yum!

Bread: I personally use Aunt Millie’s whole grain white bread because that’s what we always have in the house and it’s healthy and tasty! Two slices have only 100 calories but 5g of protein and 5g fiber. It’s the best kind nutritionally without spending an arm and a leg on each loaf, as we go through bread pretty quickly here.

Peanut butter: usually Great Value creamy peanut butter, which is 90 calories per tablespoon. I use 1.5 tablespoons most of the time.

Then there’s the bananas of course! We usually only have 5-6″ bananas which are 72-90 calories apiece.

The whole breakfast is 325 calories, 10g+ protein, and 5g fiber.

My experience with it, especially accompanied by coffee, is that it keeps me full a minimum of 2-3 hours and sometimes content as long as 4.

It’s also so delicious too! It hits the spot in the morning, and calms my sweet tooth while also being healthy.

Thriving Thursday- The Wonders of Energy

Image source: www.photofacefun.com
Image source: http://www.photofacefun.com

Our energy is truly the best thing we have to offer ourselves and others. Without it we wouldn’t be able to work, go to school, keep up with our children and other loved ones, keep house, and so much more. Yet it can be so hard to come by for a lot of us.

It seems like no matter what I do, I still feel tired or fatigue on some level each day. This causes me to absolutely relish the times where I have even some significant energy, because it makes me feel so much more alive! I can accomplish so much more and am more efficient, not to mention just feeling happier and more content because feeling more rested is simply amazing!

There are so many factors that affect our energy that I could never even begin to list them all. However, I will list some that I personally have experienced or have observed in others:

  • Sleep, the obvious first culprit. Anything from an issue with not getting enough, to going to sleep too late or too early, and issues with sleep quality.
  • Diet is another issue. Some foods legitimately leave us feeling sluggish. Particularly processed food or foods with a lot of fat/sugar. The sugar rush might be awesome at first but once it wanes, you can come crashing back to the fatigue.
  • Health issues ranging from allergies to chronic illness or pain. These are a real drain on our energy because it takes a lot out of us to deal with these things since our bodies are fighting themselves or other organisms.
  • Weather: too hot or too cold can drain our energy as well since our bodies have to regulate their temperature.
  • Spending time with others and/or not spending enough time with others, depending on which one you thrive on (introvert or extrovert). We need to spend a good amount of time with others, either just enough or more depending on our personal needs.
  • Not spending adequate time in the fresh air and sunshine. Of course there is the good ol’ Vitamin D that we absorb from sunlight, but there is something so special about being outside in the beautiful outdoors, with nature and animals all around us that is so good for our mind, body, and spirit!
Image source: ME :)
Beautiful Nature. Image source: ME!

Now that we know some of reasons why we are so tired, all we need to do is the opposite of what we’ve been doing. Eating a diet rich of foods with healthy carbs such as whole grains and fruits, as well as protein, can provide us with the right amount of fuel. Water ties into diet and drinking more water can also help with our energy. Treating our allergies or other chronic pain and illnesses as much as we can, given what we have access to, can minimize the effect of those on us. Taking advantage of air conditioning and heaters, or fans, can help our bodies regulate temperature without as much work. And spending the right amount of time with others, as well as outdoors in nature, will benefit us all around.

Sounds simple, right? Well, we all know that these things are easier said than done. I’m a total advocate of taking things as slowly as you need to in order to better your health. So take baby steps, slowly add in more whole grains, fruits and veggies, and lean protein. Slowly increase the amount of time you set aside for sleep each night until you’re getting enough. Spend five or ten minutes outdoors if you can’t tolerate more at first.

Image source: www.bluemountain.com
Image source: http://www.bluemountain.com

Slowly but surely you will get there. You will see increases in your energy. I know when I follow these rules as best as I can, I see such a difference in my energy. With my allergies and joint pain, I know I’ll never be abounding with energy, but I’m going to keep trying to have more energy. Like I mentioned earlier, feeling more rested is an amazing feeling. It’s like a breath of fresh air!

~Bonnie~

Steady Saturday- Baby Steps

As we set out to lose weight or pursue a dream of ours, we want everything to happen now. So we jump in and start off at a run to reach our goals. The thing is though, when we start out at a run instead of taking things slow, we sabotage ourselves. A lot of us have this “all or nothing” mentality that works against us… unless we can learn how to move past it.

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My suggestion to all of you is to start slow, start small. Remember the saying “Slow and steady wins the race.” Yes, it’s really true. When you begin your weight loss journey, starting out small and slow and building your way up is the best way to go.

One way to go about this is to start with a moderate exercise form. Like I mentioned in this blog, walking is a great start out exercise. You can set how far you want to go or how much time you want to walk, and adjust as time permits. You can also vary your routes and times of day you go to keep things fresh. The sunlight in the morning feels and looks different than in the evening, and both are amazing to experience while taking a tranquil but brisk-paced walk. Varying your routes will ensure that you don’t get bored of the same scenery as fast.

Some of the other exercises that fit the bill include riding a bike whether it be stationary or an actual bicycle, swimming, dancing, hiking, and some cardio machines. Anything that allows you to customize in some shape or form so you can start out slow, is a good exercise. Be aware of your own limitations if you have some sort of physical issue and adjust your first workouts accordingly.

Besides exercising, we also need to take baby steps with our nutrition. Setting small goals that we feel are doable will carry us farther than setting goals that are too big or take too long to reach. Maybe instead of jumping right in with the “5 a day” rule of fruits and vegetables, you could set a goal to have three a day at first. Or you could just break it down throughout the day and tell yourself “I will have a fruit or a vegetable with each meal and snack.” That makes the goal seem that much more achievable. If you don’t do it or don’t reach the goal, keep trying. None of us achieves all of our goals everyday at first and even later on too. It’s all a process. Other nutrition goals work the same way, start small and work your way up.

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I personally have a joint problem that affects all of my joints as well as my neck, ribs, and back. So I started out with walking as I’ve mentioned, and worked my way up with both that and walking indoors with videos. It helped me a lot to start out like this. With my nutrition, I set a 3 a day goal for myself, and some days still struggle with it. Other days I get 5+ a day. It depends. I do my best though and continue to learn how to make this work for myself.

~Bonnie~

Foodie Friday- The Deliciousness of Melons!

The title says it all: melons are delicious. If you like melons, you might be thinking, “of course they are.” However, if you don’t like them, you should definitely read this blog.

When I was a kid and even up until a few years ago, I didn’t like melons. I tried them a few times, as a side to a meal at a restaurant usually, just because they were there and I figured they might suddenly be enjoyable to my taste buds.

Well, four months ago while on vacation in California, I went to IHOP with family friends the first night I was there. It was a healthy egg white, turkey bacon, whole wheat toast meal with a small bowl of fruit. There weren’t just melons in the bowl, but I decided to try the melons yet again and… yum! They tasted so good! In the bowl was cantaloupe and honeydew melon pieces mixed in with the other fruit.

I ended up having more melons later at the family friends’ house where I was staying, particularly some watermelon. That tasted really good to me as well. I was astonished! Who was this girl who used to avoid melons whenever they were brought into the house because they never tasted good to her before, now not only liking melons but loving them.

When I returned home, I kept craving the melons. So pretty soon I found myself buying the three different kinds of melons at the grocery store. I cut up half of each and mixed them together for three servings in the fridge for easy grabbing. I did both halves with a total of two sets of melons. Every time I had my them, it felt like a treat. They aren’t super filling, but they certainly are tasty!

The moral of the story is our taste buds change, so if you haven’t liked something in the past… try it again! Your tastes may surprise you like they did me. There are other things I have found I like now that I didn’t before too like a certain kind of cherry and peas! There are still plenty of things I don’t like that I hadn’t in the past too, but I want to keep retrying things to find out if my tastes have changed since I last had that particular food.

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~Bonnie~