Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nomming My Way Through July

I was looking through my phone recently and found a BUNCH of food photos that were too pretty/yummy looking to not share with y'all. So, without further ado...

What did Jillian eat in July?

Super easy to make at work and has a high protein content, very important to me.
Kashi Go Lean Original - this has the best protein content of any cereal I've tried
Vanilla whey protein shake - gotta have "milk" with your cereal ;)
Fresh sliced peach - peaches are my absolute favorite fruit! I have a peach cobbler in place of birthday cake on my birthday each year.

World's greatest avocado! Look at that teeny weeny pit!
 I made, and ate, a lot of guacamole in July. It was awesome! I made fresh from scratch guacamole, I had some premade guac from Trader Joe's, and I had some guac that you make with the premixed seasoning packets you buy in the grocery store. Lance and I had it on eggs for breakfast, on chicken for dinner, Emily and I had it with baby carrots at the beach. You cannot go wrong with guac!

I had half of two different flavors of cupcake. S'mores (right) is my alltime favorite, but I had to try the Banana Split (left) too!
 Mom did bring in cupcakes to work on my birthday. They were delicious. Banana Split cupcakes were so tasty, way better than I expected.

Mmmmm, more unhealthy food. :)
 I ended up celebrating my birthday for almost a week this year. My birthday was on Tuesday, I celebrated with my family on Wednesday, concert on Thursday, company Giant's game on Friday, beach with Emily on Saturday, Giant's game and dinner with girlfriends on Sunday.... it was so much fun! It also kept me really busy, so I deprioritized my diet a little and let myself eat whatever sounded good at the time. I kept it healthy for the most part, but when you're at the Giant's game, you need a hot dog and garlic fries.

This is a recreation of what Emily made to bring to the beach!
 Back to work on Monday! I was feeling full from everything I had eaten the day before, so I kept lunch super light and recreated what Emily had made us for lunch on Saturday. She has an absolute killer dressing recipe that I've been copy-catting ever since. Maybe if we ask her nicely, she'll let me share it with y'all.

Mid-afternoon treat
 My snacks tend to be very fruit based. This was an awesome one that was just a large peach, half a cup of fresh blueberries and then a tablespoon of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Drenched Cacao Nibs. So...darn...good.

One of the fussier snacks I've ever made.
 This was a "fancy" snack I made for myself at work. Fage 2% + a cup of raspberries, each raspberry was stuffed with one of those chocolate covered cacao nibs I mentioned above, and a half cup of pomegranate arils. Such a fancy-pants snack and it was sooooooooo good. Best part? It only took 5 minutes to make. Woo!

This might be a future recipe on the blog.
This guy was a pre-workout breakfast that I made over the weekend. It ended getting me through an hour and a half long lifting workout. I took Dr Boyfriend to "my" Gold's and we ended up spending way longer working out than we normally do.

I might do this on a regular basis, I take so many pretty (I hope??) photos of the food I eat...but never share them with you guys. What do you think of that idea?

How do we feel about that big breakfast in the last photo, do you guys want that recipe?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WTFitness - EGCG, that compound in Green Tea

EGCG - those four letters you hear in combination with green tea; it's supposed to be a miracle substance, right?

Oooh, molecules. Source

Epigallocatechin gallate is a potent antioxidant that is touted for it's anticarcinogenic properties. It has also been linked to weight loss, a boost in energy, lowered LDL (the bad cholesterol), and has been linked to lowered risk of heart disease.

Green tea Kit Kats! Not the best way to get the health benefits of green tea... but fun! Source
Sounds amazing, right? Should you take a green tea supplement? You could if you wanted. I think it's much more pleasant (and cost effective!) to just drink a cup or two of green tea than to pop a pill. But if that's what you're into, you should ALWAYS check with your doctor.

An example of what a green tea supplement might look like. I am in no way recommending you take one! Source
Full disclosure, I can't get the text for the article "Avoidance of bioflavonoid supplements during pregnancy: a pathway to infant leukemia?", but the title suggests that you might want to avoid green tea supplements and other bioflavonoid supplements while pregnant. I realize that the title is worded that way in an effort to be inflammatory and sensational, but I would so not take that chance.

EGCG has also been shown to block certain drugs, including one that treats cancer. EGCG binds to the receptors of the drug in your system, rendering it useless against the disease it is fighting. Yet another reason to consult your doctor before starting a green tea supplement!

Another example of what a green tea supplement might look like. Source
So, now that I've terrified you about the supplement (sorry), how the heck does this EGCG stuff supposedly prevent cancer? Kind of in the same way that it can block drugs. The EGCG compound binds to a substance called urokinase. I know, another weird word.

Urokinase is in your bloodstream and in your extracellular matrices, the exoskeleton type structure that provides structure to the animal cell since it lacks the rigid cell wall found in plant cells. Research has shown that elevated expression levels of urokinase are related to tumor malignancy, and metastasis by extension. Metastasis means the cancer has spread, or metastasized.

So, when EGCG binds to urokinase, it blocks the expression. Less expression of urokinase means (theoretically), that cancer shouldn't be able to grow. Hurray!

Bonus points for a beautiful teapot like the one above! Source
Is it proven? No. Is it a good reason to enjoy some green tea throughout your day? Absolutely. Just watch out for that caffeine content. An 8 oz cup of green tea clocks in at about 24-40mg of caffeine. A normal 8 oz cup of brewed coffee (not espresso) has between 95-200mg of caffeine. That's a big difference, but I find that green tea has such a light taste that I drink it so much faster than I would coffee.
One of my favorite green teas

I'm a huge fan of drinking my green tea "black" or "green" as it were. (hah?) I've seen people put sugar in their green tea and I've had it with honey. Green tea and honey is a delicious combination, but it completely horrified the tea-purist who was introducing me to green tea... so watch out for that.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments! Do you drink green tea? What's your favorite? If you supplement, which one do you use and what have your experiences been with it?

If you want to read some more:;jsessionid=gQEtCJHSjMJzafdyIMOt.2

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Glycemic Index versus Glycemic Load

This post has been a work in progress for a while. I learned the difference between glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). After being informed about glycemic load, I was instantly disappointed in a number of people I followed through various forms of social media for touting GI and completely eschewing certain foods because of a high GI value.

On somewhat of a side note, the idea of ignoring or completely eliminating a food or food group bothers me on a fundamental level. Mostly because it leads to a restrictive way of approaching food and health by extension. That restrictive mindset is where a lot of people, myself included, develop unhealthy relationships with food.

Like this lady, who looks like she could use a biscuit. Who am I to judge, maybe she has Celiac disease.
Back to GI vs GL.

We're all aware that certain foods affect our blood sugar more than others, yes? E.G. you eat a candy bar, we'll make it a Snickers, and your blood sugar levels skyrocket and you start running around and aroundandaroundandarounduntilyoucrash. That food greatly increased your blood sugar levels. Another example, you eat a small banana (6-7in) and feel a lesser energy boost, but still enough to get you through the afternoon at work but with no awful crash. That food moderately increased your blood sugar levels.

According to (and it pains me to say I could not find a better source of info on GI content of the following), the average GI of a Snickers bar is 55 and the average GI of a banana is 52.

At this point, I imagine you sitting back in your chair, papasan, whatever, and looking at the screen thinking "ummmmmmmmmmmmmm......those two numbers are the same and now I want a Snickers."

Au contraire my dear dear friend. Hold onto your socks, I'm about try blowing them off.

glycemic index: a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0-100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels 
glycemic load: a measure of glycemic response to a food which takes into consideration serving size
GL = (GI* Xg carbs per serving)/100

If we apply that to our Snicker's bar and our banana... we find that a Snickers bar has a GL of 19 and our small banana has a GL of 12.

I know Jackie, I know
So, while the GI of certain foods can be important if you're diabetic or if you've been informed by your doctor or a nutritionist to watch that specific number...the rest of us are better off paying attention to the GL of a food since it actually takes into consideration the amount of that food we're eating.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this next photo as well as the accompanying text...

instagram: @itsjillianmcl
Glycemic load of a food looks at the way A SERVING of a particular food affects your blood glucose. Glycemic index looks at the amount of food that contains a standard 50g of carbs. 1 serving of carrots has a GL of 1.3, the GI of carrots is 16. 50g of carbs in carrots = 1lb of carrots. Are you eating 1lb of carrots?!?! ­čÉ░

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Breakfast Burritos for Two

Happy Saturday everyone!

Know that feeling when you're about halfway through a cup of coffee and realize you don't know for sure if you've got breakfast supplies? You kind of shuffle to the fridge and open the door with your eyes half shut, hoping against all hope that you managed to leave yourself enough ingredients to make a killer breakfast because... let's face it... you're kind of starving.


I'm happy to say I squeaked by again this week. WOOHOO!

I had mine with some tortilla chips to add back in a few carbs, I'm working out in a bit and need the fuel! Side note, how rad are those pants?!

Breakfast Burritos for Two, serves 2 (10-15 minutes)
1 T Smart Balance
4 large egg whites
3 jumbo egg whites
3 jumbo eggs
1/2 container of Garden Highway Pico de Gallo (you can find it at Safeway)
1/4 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 medium haas avocado
4 La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Tortillas

Melt Smart Balance in a pan over medium heat.
Add eggs and scramble with a spatula, cook until desired doneness
Take off heat and add pico de gallo and cheese
One quarter of the egg mixture goes on each tortilla and then you divide avocado slices evenly amongst the plates

Super easy, super delicious!

Nutritional information (got this by entering all the ingredients into MyFitnessPal)
Per serving: 525 calories, 31g carbs, 29g fat, 45g protein

When I make this again, I think I'll leave out the cheese. I'm finding myself liking it less and less in dishes. By itself, I could probably eat it by the pound. But with eggs, I'm starting to not be a huge fan. Leaving the cheese off this recipe changes the macros as follows: 470 calories, 31g carbs, 24g fat, 42g protein.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8

Good morning y'all! I have to ask, is there better night's sleep than the one you get after setting a squat PR?

Hurray! (I track my workouts electronically with Fitocracy) Seeing that little green star when I was done felt so good.
What's the deal with that 5th set? Well dear friends, that's when I fell on my butt in front of a large group of people. Sounds embarrassing, but I promise it isn't. I no longer feel embarrassed when I go down to the floor and am accompanied by a 145lb crash. That's precisely why I squat in one of these babies:

Ours is red, but that's besides the point. The point is, I have all those amazing safety rails in place for no reason other than to fall safely. Falling while holding something that weighs more than you is terrifying the first few times, but you learn to trust your equipment. After speaking with Dr. Boyfriend, yes I would have ideally had a spotter...but I absolutely detest spotters. Especially random people in the gym who will grab onto the bar and half-lift it for me while screaming "ALL YOU, ALL YOU".

So I squat in a cage. I feel that my rigid iron "spotter" does a way better job of keeping me safe than another person would. Sure, people approach me in the gym offering to spot me (which I still think is a little bizarre), but a simple "no thank you" is all I ever need.

Apparently, this is a Japanese proverb. I had totally chalked it up to Muhammed Ali. Epic fail on my part.
Like I said before, I was embarrassed the first one or two times that I fell. When I say embarrassed, I felt so down on myself and felt like the people around me in the weight room thought so little of me that I had to leave that area of the gym immediately. Now I know better.

I fail lifts on a regular basis. I've learned that failure means a multitude of different things; I'm not ready for that weight, I didn't sleep enough last night, I didn't eat enough today (this one affects me most), I haven't eaten enough this week, my mind is otherwise occupied...  Point being, I've failed enough times now (and seen enough people fail their lifts) that I now accept it as a regular part of my training.

How you react to failure says a lot about you as a person. Do you want to be the person who sits there, staring at the bar, beats themselves up and then gives up? Or do you want to be the person who sits there for a second, stands up, resets the bar, and then goes on to smash their PR? I'd rather be the latter, I was the latter last night. Let me be the first to tell you, it feels good.

Moral of the story: be safe and don't give up!

PS - if you were curious what the rest of my workout looked like...
Barbell Squat
Warmup - 8 reps at 65lb
Working - 1 set of 6 reps at 135lb, 3 sets of 6 at 145lb

Seated Leg Curl
4 sets of 8 reps at 152lb

Seated Leg Extension
4 sets of 8 reps at 91lb

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (with dumbbells)
4 sets of 6 reps with 30lb DBs

Stairmaster Intervals (10 min)
Alternate 40 seconds of a very fast climb with 40 seconds of a very slow climb.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why it's Good to be the Birthday Girl and Why You Shouldn't Go Nuts with Dark Chocolate

Hello all!

I've been celebrating my birthday this last week and it has been a blast! My actual birthday was on Tuesday, I celebrated my birthday with family on Wednesday, I went to the Counting Crows concert on Thursday, my company outing to the Giants game was on Friday, Emily and I went to the beach yesterday (there will be another post about that), and we're going to the Giants game today!

Birthday cupcakes at work! I wanted to try banana split (left) and also have my all-time favorite s'mores, so I had half of each

My new food scale!

Ingredients for a huge grilled salad at my parent's place

The beautiful America's Cup Pavilion where Michelle and I got to see The Wallflowers and Counting Crows

Our amazing seats at the Giants game

Our post-workout feast on the beach! Tomato & mozzarella salad, smoked salmon, steamed baby carrots with guac, berries, an assortment of smoked meat (not pictured), and some amazing birthday cupcakes (not pictured)
All of that was just so amazing, thank you to all my family and friends who are responsible for making me feel so lucky and loved.

I'm sure you can imagine that with a week like this one, it was a little difficult to track what I was eating and make it to the gym on a regular basis. I tried to stay as active as possible, didn't beat myself up about not being able to exercise, and I didn't pay too close attention to what I was eating. I tried to keep my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks as healthy as possible. But dinner, I allowed myself to go a little nuts.

It was great, but it's not sustainable, so back to the norm (on tomorrow/Monday) for this girl! Which should be easier with the food scale that Lance gave me!

[food scale]

Using this food scale will make it soooooo much easier for me to determine just how much of my beloved treats I'm eating, like dark chocolate. (smooth and fluid transition, whaaaaaaat?)

I can imagine some of you sitting there like "ummmmmmmmmmm, dark chocolate has antioxidants and is a health food, I thought I could eat as much as I wanted...."

As do most of us.
Well, yes and no. It's a double edged sword. Yes, dark chocolate has antioxidants. Yes, dark chocolate is a great indulgent treat. Yes, there has been a study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) that says dark chocolate can lower blood pressure. But there's also the small matter of the fat in dark chocolate, namely that half that fat comes from saturated fat.

Um... what?
Saturated fat is something to be consumed in moderation and it's in a surprising amount of stuff. Meat contains saturated fat, cheese contains saturated fat, chocolate contains saturated fat. Saturated fat is the type of fat that is solid at room temperature, making it a popular choice (along with trans fat) for manufacturers who sell prepackaged foods that might sit on the shelf for a while. Fat will go rancid after a period of time, so food manufacturers like... Nabisco.

Nabisco is responsible for Oreos, and I am not here to argue that you should never eat Oreos because I think that Oreos are absolutely delicious and I do have one or two from time to time. Oreos can sit on the shelf for a long while, maybe on your shelf and not on the supermarket's shelf, but if those cookies go rancid, Nabisco will catch a lot of hell and the brand would suffer. So they cram them full of these resilient fats to postpone that awful reality as long as possible.

So, why is saturated fat  supposedly bad for you? This is where the research is divided. Some say that saturated fat does not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, or heart disease. Some say it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. But you do have to view these claims and realize that when you're restricting saturated fat, you're replacing it with other macronutrients, including different types of fat. You can find abstracts for other studies on saturated fat and cardiovascular disease here and here.

Your best bet? Don't cut out saturated fat, but don't over consume it either. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (last published in 2010) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend getting less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat. Assuming you're on a 2000 cal diet, that means 22.2 g of saturated fat per day. We'll call it 22 g for the sake for whole numbers. Assuming you're into Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate (because it is available almost everywhere), you can have 1 2.6 oz dark chocolate bar per day since it clocks in at 21.4 g of saturated fat.

That's great! 2.6 oz of dark chocolate sounds amazing.

I hear ya buddy
Yes and no. 2.6 oz of chocolate should be enough to satisfy the chocoholic above, but that is assuming you don't consume any other sources of saturated fat. That means no meat, no cheese, full fat dairy, butter, etc.

Oh good, I'm suggesting a sliding scale. Ugh.

Consider the fact that a serving of dark chocolate is 1 oz. That gives you 8.2 g of saturated fat (again, assuming Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate, each chocolate will have different numbers). That's just over one third of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat! You can totally work that in, right?

You can indulge in dark chocolate, daily if you want, but you have to remember to work it into your nutritional plan for the day.