My Green Smoothie Variation!

Tired of my healthy blogs yet? Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple of restaurant food blogs coming up soon. My diet has loosened up considerably since I started, but I’ve lost a total of 10 pounds now! Yayyy.  It took me almost two months, but that’s because I pretty much stopped exercising about a month ago. I knoow, booo me. But, I have switched to a healthier (food) lifestyle. I don’t eat fast food anymore, and I’ve been drinking exclusively water for about two years now, save for the occasional tea or alcohol. But since moving away from Toronto, I don’t find myself drinking (alcohol) every weekend or every other weekend. I’m mostly a hermit.

I never thought I’d become one of those people, but I actually caught myself saying, “Ugh, is it organic though…?” the other day, and I found that weird. But I’ve been trying to buy organic food when my budget allows and when it’s available. I’m not too strict on it. I’ve heard people say that generally, the things where you don’t eat the peel (oranges, watermelon, etc) you don’t have to buy organic, but other things you should (lettuces, veggies, etc) or at least wash very very thoroughly before using.

So, in accordance with this healthy (food) lifestyle, I either have my oatmeal for breakfast or this smoothie that I’m going to share with you. For the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve been having this smoothie exclusively because it’s so darn tasty. This smoothie gives me tons of energy and usually keeps me full for 4-5 hours! I’ll have it in the morning before I go to work and then by the time my lunch break comes around, I’ll have just started to get hungry.

I first heard about green smoothies from one of my favourite vloggers, itsjudytime, on her daily vlog channel called itsjudyslife. Her husband, Benji, does a green smoothie/juice recipe on his channel, BenjiManTV. I made up my recipe by watching them make their smoothies, as well as doing my research on green smoothies (it supposedly makes your skin glooooow), and adjusting it to my own taste preferences. So without further ado, here we go!

Alright! This is what I put into my smoothie on a pretty regular basis. Well, except for the mixer.. that’s just what I use to mix them all together… jeez.

So I start off with half a banana (~50 cal.), as much spinach as I can fit (~10 cal.), and some almond milk (~25 cal), just so it’s not too thick. You can adjust the amount of almond milk to how thick or thin you like your drink. You can also substitute for water if you want to lower calories, or coconut water for a delicious flavour. I actually added fresh coconut water with some coconut flesh the other day, and it tasted super fresh! As you can see, after blending, the drink is a wonderful bright and alien green.

Please forgive my typography here. Next, I put in one stalk of celery and a few slices of apple in there (~15 cal.). I like to mix my ingredients in batches because it doesn’t overwork my magic bullet. If you have a full-size blender, it can probably handle all the ingredients in there at once, but I like how I just have to wash the “cup” I use after I’m done with it instead of a whole different container (I hate dishes).

Now this is where it gets… sludgy looking. I add in 1/4 cup of my frozen berries (~40 cals.) and 1/4 cup of my frozen fruits (~40 cals depending on the kinds of fruits). You can easily do this with all berries, or even no berries at all. I had a berries and mango mixture going on for a while. Yum yum yum!

I add some more spinach for good measure. A cup of spinach is only 7 calories, people! And you can’t even taste the spinach. You can also add kale, which is a known superfood, but I’ve never had kale before. Once, my brother bought me a spinach blend instead of just spinach, and it had radicchio and arugula in it. Usually, I love arugula, but I found its flavour in a smoothie much too overpowering.

I only add half a scoop of whey protein in to save calories. Also, if you follow my vlog, you will have seen that the first time I ever made a smoothie, I added a whole scoop, and though it made me very very full, I really disliked the sickly sweet flavour. I use the vanilla flavour from Kaizen 100% Whey Protein. For more information about protein, what protein he uses, and for more health and fitness information, check out my friend Edmond’s blog. Boy is cut as heck!

Here’s the nutritional information for the protein that I use:

So, half a scoop of protein is about 75 calories. You can skip it, but I feel like this is the thing that really keeps me full throughout the day. Though it’s a lot of calories for one ingredient, it keeps me from eating more later on. I mix everything up after adding the whey protein.

Next step you don’t really have to add, but I like to put in a third to half a package of plain oatmeal (20-25 grams) which equals 65-95 calories. I would usually add just bulk oatmeal but I had some packages leftover. If you’re watching your calories, I would exclude it, but I wanted to have more fibre. That’s about 25% of the reason. The other 75% is because with the berries, there are those really annoying raspberry/strawberry seeds that are left and you have to chew and get stuck in your teeth. So I add in the oatmeal (and shake, not blend!) so that I have something that I can chew and distract from the annoying seeds because I added the oatmeal on purpose. Plus, I like chewing something substantial in my smoothie. The best way to add oatmeal in is if your smoothie is relatively thick. If it’s too juice-like, it’ll just sink to the bottom. Ew.

So in total, this smoothie comes up to about 330 calories. About 250 if you omit the oatmeal, and 175 if you omit the protein too. Anyway, I like it because it’s healthy, tastes good, and you don’t even have to add any sugars because the banana, berries, and protein add enough sweetness. You even get some veggies in there without having to taste them! I completely recommend you trying it out! :)

How I Keep On Track

Another healthful bloggy blog! This one is about the apps I’ve tried and used to keep my eating habits on track. I’ve used quite a few over the years and they’ve always been super helpful in helping me lose weight. I am currently using Calorie Count and it’s the best one that I’ve found so far, so this post may be slightly biased towards it. I’m going to be comparing three different apps. They’re all available on both iPhone and Android, and if you don’t have a smart phone, they all have websites where you can track your calories, exercise, and water intake.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a phone junkie, but I love having the apps on my phone so that I can input all my information as I’m doing it. It also helps with me being able to keep track of everything and not relying on my shoddy memory to remember everything at the end of the day.

The three contenders today are: Calorie Count, Lose It!, and MyFitnessPal.

All three apps are great (and free!), and it’s just my nit-picky nature that makes me choose Calorie Count. They all come highly recommended though.

  • Calorie Count has been talked about in Today, Self, TechCrunch, and PCMag.
  • Lose It! is so popular that it has it’s own book out and has been talked about in the New York Times and Macworld.
  • MyFitnessPal seems to be the most publicized, appearing in Today, the New York Times, BBC, the Guardian, USA Today, Marie Claire, Wall Street Journal, PCWorld, and more.

The Encourager

This portion of the app is meant to give you a support group to rally around and keep you motivated. As everyone knows, it’s always easier to diet when you have someone to diet with you because then you are held accountable by that person. For me, that person is this app because I’ll feel guilty if I type in a 1000-calorie meal into it.

If you’re dieting with friends, you can use the same dieting app and add each other as friends. This helps keep each other accountable, as well as celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

If you, like me, don’t have friends, this part of the app is completely pointless except in Calorie Count. CC gives you the published records of random users (who enable their feeds as public) and it’s just a feed of positive people accomplishing their goals. Not only that, but they’re real people who sometimes miss a work out, over eat their daily caloric limit, and ultimately, just completely relatable. Sometimes when I’m feeling the diet blues, I’ll read through these either for motivation or for commiseration.

Food Log

The food logs are pretty standard across the board. I like that CC gives you the carbs, fat, and protein breakdown at the top, as well as a grade for each food you eat. Some things that you think are healthy might actually surprise you with just getting a B rating. However, I give points to LI and MFP because they give you the remaining calories you’re allowed to eat at the top, which is really helpful.

Searching for Foods

Again, these are pretty standard. My only complaint is that the variety in LI and MFP aren’t as large as in CC. CC is partially user generated so it may be off, but a lot more brands are available. The information may be slightly less reliable, but as the great mantra of dieting goes: overestimate your calorie intake, underestimate your calorie output. Those are in my own words, but I’m sure someone out there has a more elegant way of saying it. A problem I noticed this morning is that I couldn’t find my Almond Breeze almond milk or my Whey Isolate in MFP, so there’s 150 calories that are unaccounted for because they weren’t available to me!

What I also like about CC is that if you’re easily obsessive and can’t find the certain food that you are eating, CC allows you to enter your food under “Custom Foods” and input all the nutritional information in, to keep your food analysis accurate. That information is then saved for the next time you eat it. I even put my special oatmeal from the last post into it. I’m not sure if it uploads that information so that other users can search for it though. If you’re using CC, let me know if you can find Judskii’s Oatmeal! in there. :)

Daily Nutritional Breakdown

I love this part. At the end of the day, it takes all the things you ate that day, and you can see what you’re eating a lot of, what you’re missing in your diet. What I like about it is that it doesn’t focus purely on eating less calories to lose weight, but also eating better and healthier for your body. You could be 700 calories a day, but 3x the sodium, fat, and sugar that you should, and that’s not going to get you anywhere.

I find Lose It! pretty lacking in this area, showing just the basics. CC and MFP break it down for you, showing quite clearly what percentage of your daily suggested carb/protein/fat/sugar etc intake you’ve already had, and how much you need for a balanced diet. Again, I’m slightly more biased towards CC. I find their information clearly laid out, the bar graphs instantly give you an overview of your day’s nutrients. MFP has the same information, but their pie chart is on a different page than the nutritional breakdown. Again, not a huge deal.

Activities Log

These are pretty standard. There’s not much difference, except again, I think CC has more choices and relatable content.

Weight Log

And last but not least, the weight log that allows you to track your weight from the beginning. This is the only place that  I really feel CC was lacking. It looks as though it was made only for people with large amounts of weight to lose, and it really only shows your trend after a long time of using it. That little dip at the end is after a whole month of me using it. Very disappointing.

Lose It nicely lays out your information as well as your diet plan at the top. The only thing is though, that it is not generally recommended for women to be eating less than 1200 calories a day in order to lose weight. CC doesn’t allow it, and the minimum setting you’re allowed to have is 1200 cal/day. For men, it’s 1500 cal/day. I mean, people are generally going to eat a little under anyway.

I feel like MyFitnessPal comes out on top with this weight portion. The layout is clear, you can see what you’ve lost clearly, without extra information above or below the graph, and you can toggle to see what you’ve lose in the last 1, 2, and 3 months.

And that’s all I’ve got on the subject. Choose the app that’s right for you. If you don’t want to be tethered by technology, whether it’s on your phone or the computer, you can always get one of those calorie counter books with all the nutritional information of most foods, and a dollar store journal and record your food there. It’s a great way to keep you on track, and you’ll be surprised at where most of your calories come from!

Some stand out points I’ve picked up during my journey are:

  • A cup of spinach (raw) is only 7 calories.
  • A medium banana is ~100.
  • A meal at A&W, I should have known this. I think I did, but didn’t want to admit it. A teen burger (500), fries (300), root beer (200). That’s 1000 calories in a single meal. QQ
  • Veggie soup is awesome (put that through an immersion blender and you’re ready for fall) and ridiculously low in calories. Allows me to splurge my calories on croutons and garlic bread to dip.
  • Make butternut squash fries (baked) because they are ridic low in calories and super duper yummy.
  • Counting calories may sometimes be tedious, sometimes fun, sometimes heartbreaking, but the results are always evident.

Hope you gleaned some good information from this post. :)

Cheers,

Judy

What is this “exercise” you speak of?

People who know me know I don’t run. Hell, I barely walk if I don’t have to. The last time I ran was in 9th or 10th grade. Almost 10 years ago!! And since then, I don’t run. Not for busses, trains, love, or anything. I may power walk to good food. I am eternally grateful for the genetics that have allowed me to keep a thin(looking) figure because without it, I would probably be upwards of 250 pounds.

This post is about my current plans, and for anyone who wants to follow along with me at a beginner’s attempt at taking up running!

My weight has always fluctuated but never have I stayed at 130 lbs for such a long time (5 ft 7 in for reference). I would love to be back down to 116, but I would settle for 118. For about the last two years my weight gaining schedule was as follows:

  • Sedentary lifestyle; weight plateaued at 123 lb.
  • February 2011: Start working 9-10 hour days. No car, sometimes no metro pass, so more walking. 120 lb.
  • June 2011: Body gets used to more active lifestyle; effects of working at a bakery add up. 126 lb.
  • August 2011: Get a second job. Start working 16 hour days. Go to school on days off. 122 lbs.
  • December 2011: Body gets used to it again. 126 lb. 
  • July 2012: Move back in with parents. Leave both jobs. Go from working 60-70 hour weeks, to barely 10 hours a week. 131 lb.

Now the reason my weight hasn’t gone super crazy is because I’m very self-conscious about my flubby flub belly, so when I feel it get a bit bigger I start crash dieting, cutting calories, and basically going on a low-calorie binge, and when I lose a few pounds, I see that as a green light to start eating unhealthily again. It’s a destructive cycle.

Now, all that background leads to the very exciting decision to take up running! I know, big surprise. Coming from the girl that responds to, “Hey, do you want to go for a hike?” with “Wow, it’s like you don’t even know me.”

It’s horrible! :D I dislike it. Granted, I’ve only been running for one week, but I still dislike it. From what I gather, most people hate it before they love it. It’s a lot of moving and sweating and heavy breathing and chest pains. But that’s what I get for being inactive for most of my life. I thought my childhood asthma had gone away after childhood, but nope, it’s just because I haven’t forced myself to breathe hard to test it.

What I do like about running however is that because I started so badly, even just on the second day, I saw immediate improvements on my stamina. And I guess because I’m a poke-the-bruise kind of person, I revel in the next-day muscle pains. It reminds me that, yes, I am working hard. The pain is proof that my suffering the night before was not in vain. That I am seeing results. My first day, I came home with jelly legs, having to walk up and down stairs, barely able to take a shower, and my arms hurt so much that I had trouble shampooing. Yes, apparently your arms hurt when you run! The next day was sore legs, arms, and obliques. And it felt, GOOD.

I’ve always drank a lot of water. During the height of my 2 jobs & school days, I would go through about 1.5 L of water a day. Now, I am actively trying to drink even more than that, usually about 2L a day, up to 3L. Drinking more water coupled with my new running regimen, I have already lost 4 lbs in one week! I’m sure most of it is water weight and since I’m peeing at least 6 times a day, the first few pounds are super easy, but it’s a nice confidence boost to see all my effort actually culminating in something.

My current path is only 1.5 km long, but I figure that’s a good start for me. Also, the distance from my house to a major street happens to be 0.75 km, so it’s convenient for me. Right now I’m taking it very slow, walking when I’m tired, which for the first day was more than half of it, but I am loving how quickly you see results. Here’s the difference in my first and second run!

Day 1:

Day 2: 

 

Once I am able to run the whole 1.5 km, I’m going to change my route into something longer. That first day, oh man that last leg was rough! But my iPhone decided to give me that one last push I need in the form of Childish Gambino. It served as my “Eye of the Tiger.”

Right now, I’m running every other day. Beginning with light jogging in my driveway to warm up the muscles, followed by some stretching, and then my run. Here’s to keeping up with the plan and hitting my goal weight of 116 lb!