Health & Fitness

By Juliet Brooks

I recently glanced in the mirror and had the usual stare-down:

I feel fat.

Do something about it.

I like food…

You look flabby.

Ugh.

But summer is ending, as we all know, and my window of opportunity for “artsy beach profile picture” is coming to a close. So I thought about it for a moment, bolstered myself with memories of “how quickly I lost weight ” and “went on a diet.” The goal was to lose ten pounds in 14 days.

I’ve always had a few problems with food. It’s easy to access; no matter where I turn, there’s food. When I’m at home, I can slip into the pantry on my restless walks from room to room. When I’m out, my friends want to go get frozen yogurt or Chipotle or something. People eat as a social activity, which is pretty unfortunate.

Perhaps even more problematic is the disconnect that I personally feel between eating food and the way I look. I think this is a problem a lot of people have — yes, mentally, we know that three brownies are not going to sit nicely on our hips, but the act of eating the brownie is wonderful, and so physically we do not make the connection between delicious chocolate treat and scale. In this, I found my smart phone a wonderful asset. I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app, and kept a calorie count every day. This app is great because you can look up the nutritional information — not just calories, but also fat, protein, carbs, and everything else — in any number of foods. It also forces you to stop and think about what you’re putting into your mouth; remembering to record everything I ate during that two-week period also reminded me to evaluate whether I was actually hungry.

I also used a pedometer app to keep track of how long I biked every day — biking was my chosen form of exercise.

I lost seven pounds, but I’m actually wary of recommending that people do what I did. I don’t think it’s likely that I will keep the weight off unless I continue to count every calorie that I put into my mouth — something I don’t like doing at all. As I counted calories, I also thought about my motivation for trying to “be healthy” — which in this case was synonymous with losing weight. I wasn’t unhappy with the weight I was at; I was unhappy with the physical capabilities I displayed at that weight. I will continue to “eat healthy” because I feel better when I avoid sugary, fatty foods. I will exercise because I like knowing that I am getting stronger, faster, more flexible.

Here is a log of what I ate and how I was able to acheive my goal weight.

Favorite foods:

1. 2% cottage cheese with fruit – delicious. This is a filling breakfast, and it’s aesthetically pleasing to boot! A half-cup of cottage cheese with berries, melon, and a teaspoon of honey is the perfect refreshing wake-up food.

2. There was some kind of juicing craze a couple of months ago, but I used the blender for simple smoothies on hot afternoons; fat-free yogurt, ice, a banana, strawberries, and any other fruits you like.

3. You can never go wrong with a salad; lettuce is something like ten calories a head, and a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and Equal adds a low-calorie kick. Carrots, tomato, onion, celery and pepper are summer health foods that taste amazing.

4. Pre-work out celery and peanut butter — giving up peanut butter was the most difficult part of this experience for me, so I added it back in by spreading 2 tablespoons (one serving) on celery. It’s great for an energy boost!

5. Eggs. Eggs are an amazing source of protein, and they can be cooked so many different ways that they’re never boring. Scrambled, sunny-side up, over-easy, in a basket, in an omelet, hard-boiled… My advice would be to get creative with eggs and see what else you can create in the kitchen.

Exercise:

I kept it pretty simple with my exercising; I had a bike, a couple of five-pound weights, and my body — but I explored a few interesting options.

1. Biking. I like the idea of biking places, like the market or a friend’s house, instead of driving. My only recommendation is that you get a bike lock.

2. Running. Meditative, but probably not an effective means of travel. Any runner, whether serious or just experimenting, needs a decent pair of sneakers. Without them—don’t bother. I reccomend Spira foootwear.

3. YouTube Yoga. Seriously. Go on YouTube and search “yoga videos.” Possibly one of the most intense workouts I got was from a yoga video I found on YouTube on a whim.

4. Stairmaster. Or what I like to refer to as my savior. I reccomend the new Stairmaster StepMill 3 Its a compact version of the stairmaster…Excellent for the home.

http://www.stairmaster.com/stepmill3
http://www.spira.com

Good luck and happy weight loss!

Originally published September 2013
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