Winter food cravings

Day #90. Finish Strong. The first 100 days: A journey to health & wellness.




Day #90

 We did not post an update last week because we realized that somewhere along the way we got 1 week ahead of ourselves (human error). Today Monday April 21, 2014  is in fact day #90.

Today we are volunteering our time and skills at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Our assignments will keep us busy until 7:00pm, we will post information about our experience in our day 100 update.

Kristen’s assignment: Licensed Massage Therapy, providing massage services for runners post-race.

Sean’s assignment: Registered Nurse, providing medical services on a course medical bus.

Weight loss/management Progress:

We continue to lose weight and lose inches at a slow and steady pace. At this point in our journey the nutrition portion of this program is a breeze and we are getting better at exercising 4+ times per week. (Check out our picture updates above.)

There were many weeks we didn’t lose weight, but we did lose inches from our chest, waist and hips. Here is some information about muscle vs. fat:

 Muscle vs. Fat

The key here is to understand the difference in muscle and fat. Because a pound is a pound no matter what you are measuring, one pound of fat is equal to one pound of fat. The common saying, “muscle weighs more than fat, ” is wrong. A pound is a pound, no matter what you measure. However, fat and muscle are composed of different substances, look different, have differing effects on the body and take up varying amounts of space in the body. Fat takes up more space in the body and has a lumpy appearance. Muscle, on the other hand, is lean and smooth. For visual purposes, picture a lean steak equal to the size of a regulation sized baseball. Now, picture approximately three times that much jello in a bowl. If these ingredients were placed in your body, would you prefer the lean, compact muscle or the jiggling bowl of jello? A person weighing 150 pounds, with 14% body fat will look much leaner than a person who weighs 120 pounds with 35% body fat.

Losing Inches Instead of Weight

 Now that you understand the different characteristics of fat and muscle, you are probably likely to reconsider your weight loss goals. Losing inches doesn’t seem so shabby when it’s put into perspective. The most common culprit for a loss of inches rather than a loss of pounds is that of muscle development. When fat is burned and muscle is replaced, your body may stay the exact same weight. However, you have replaced lumpy, jiggly and unhealthy amounts of fat with lean, solid muscle. An equal amount of muscle will take up approximately half as much space as the same amount of fat. (Source:

For more information about losing inches but not losing weight:


 The remaining 10 days:

We want to finish strong. We made a commitment to ourselves and this project to give 100% for 100 days.

Because we continue to have weigh loss results, we will follow the weight management plan as planned. Eating our bigger meals at lunch time and eliminating starches from our evening meals has made a big difference in how we feel as well as overcoming the weight loss plateau. We are currently exercising at least 4 times per week, our goal is to exercise 5-6 times per week.   

See you in 10 days!

Week 5 (Day 31 – 38) Make healthy food choices while on vacation. The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness



Week 5 (Day 31-38) : Learning how to make healthy food choices and create new habits while on vacation at Disney World.

This week was our first weight management test. Up until this point, minus the initial 7 day detox we have found it fairly easy to follow the weight management plan. Each day our nutrition and exercise routine got easier. Although there are times when it is difficult resisting temptation(s), saying “No, thank you” has also gotten easier.

For most of week 5, we vacationed at Disney World. During our vacation we did the normal Disney Park adventures and we also ran in a few races at the parks. We ran a 5K on Friday, a 10K on Saturday and a ½ marathon on Sunday. We ran a total of 22.4 miles over 3 days. Although we are proud of those accomplishments, we are equally as proud at our ability to make healthy food choices about 85% – 90% of our trip. It was not easy, but it was worth it. We saved money, we felt great and didn’t gain any weight.

Kristen and I have been running together for years, even before we became a couple. Over the years we developed a few bad habits, one of the bad habits is a food reward system. We would reward ourselves with delicious treats (high-calorie/high fat foods) after completing a long run or race. In the past year or so, we would “reward” ourselves for days at a time. We began to eat many more calories than we had burned, defeating the purpose of our hard work.

Bad habits, are hard to break. This trip we did not want to go back to our old habits, but instead wanted to create new long-term weight management habits for exercise and for vacations. **You may not be able to relate to our running reward system, but are there other accomplishments in your life in which you reward yourself with unhealthy foods?**  

Here are some tips that helped us make healthy food choices while on vacation:

  • Bring healthy food choices. We brought about 3 days’ worth of snacks – homemade protein bars, almonds and apples. Having healthy snacks within arms reach helped made it easy to not buy unhealthy foods that are offered along the way during travel.
  • Buy groceries and make your own meals. The first few days of the trip we stayed in a room with a full kitchen, we bought and ate healthy meals for breakfast and dinner in our room. We also packed many individual bags of healthy snacks that we could enjoy throughout the day. The remainder of the trip (3 days & 3 nights)our hotel room had only a small refrigerator. We were determined to do the best we could. We bought hard boiled eggs, Ezekiel bread and organic fruit preserve for breakfasts. For lunch we made turkey and avocado sandwiches on Ezekiel bread and for snacks we had almonds, apples and oranges. For dinner we made healthy food choices at local restaurants. We did enjoy some unhealthy treats, but we limited ourselves to one time per day. Not one “cheat” meal, instead we would have one “cheat” serving. For example, we would eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner but we would split a piece of key lime pie for desert.
  • When dining out look for healthy alternatives. We ate at a popular restaurant that offers a buffet, the evening before our ½ marathon. We needed to eat a big meal that would provide us a lot of nutrition and energy needed to run 13.1 miles. We loaded up on lots of raw and cooked veggies and one type of lean animal protein (canned chicken, offered at the salad bar). We were a bit surprised that there wasn’t more of a variety of healthy food options and the experience saddened us because we seemed to be the only people in the restaurant who were making healthy options. **Note – There were many foods that appeared to be healthy but because the way the food was prepared, the food was not healthy (example: baked chicken or fish = healthy, baked chicken or fish that is smothered in a butter sauce ≠ healthy.)
  • Make healthy substitutions. Many of the places now offer healthy sides or healthy alternatives (ex. Baked not fried). It wasn’t always easy to ask for carrot sticks instead of French fries, but we did.
  • Don’t forget to exercise. Many hotels/resorts have a pool and/or gym, use it. Look for fun activities in the area. You may not lose weight during a vacation but if you make healthy food choices 80%-90% of the time and exercise, you won’t gain weight.

 Goals for week 6:


NutritionIn an effort to reduce food cravings after having all sorts of sweet deserts and also to “reset” my digestive system, I will follow a 5-day food detox during week 6. There will be two modifications from the initial detox: (1) I will follow the detox for 5 days, initially I followed the detox for 7-days. (2) I will eat one serving of animal protein per day, initially I did not eat animal protein during the detox.

ExerciseI will run 3 miles per day and weight train 3 days (40-60 minutes each day).  


 Nutrition –  Getting back into our normal routine will be much easier once we are back home and in our normal environment.  I will too following the modified 5-day detox that Sean plans on doing.  After vacation I want to get back into our normal eating/exercise routine and I think doing the detox for 5 days will help us our a lot. 

Exercise – We have another half marathon (NYC Half Marathon!!!!) in 3 weeks so my focus will be on maintaining my endurance and strength training.  I didn’t train well for the races that I ran at Disney and I do not want to get to run the NYC Half under trained and under prepared! I realized that the strength training that I have done recently has improved my running performance and recovery. I wasn’t sore from running 13.1 un-trained miles and I only have the strength training to thank for that!!

Day #30 Progress Update. The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness

We have 10 weeks left to go for this project – The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness.  Going forward we will post an update each Monday (instead of daily) and we will continue to post progress updates (including pictures and measurements) every 15 days.

Each week we will post:

Our goals for the week, healthy recipes that we like and some weight management education, relevant to our experiences.

 Day #30

                                 Progress update and weekly plans and goals.

 Progress update:

On day #15 we were on such a high because we had lost a total of 25 lbs. During week 3 and week 4 we became discouraged because even though we were following the plan, we were not losing any weight. Fortunately, we stuck to the plan because now we can see results in our pictures, in our measurements and a bonus, after 30 days we also see changes in blood pressure and resting heart rate!


I was really bummed that I did not see any changes on the scale. I followed the weight management plan nearly perfectly, I didn’t “cheat” with my food or at the gym but as the days went by I started to wonder, am I stuck at this weight forever?

This was a good lesson for me: I didn’t start this journey to merely lose weight, I am learning how to manage my weight and improve my health for years to come.

**Advice that I would give to others who start this weight management plan or something like it:

  • Every two weeks, track your progress using a scale AND taking measurements. The measurements allowed us to see that our bodies were getting smaller despite the numbers on the scale.
  • Every two weeks, take pictures. As much as you might hate the thought of getting your picture taken, the differences you will see can motivate you to even higher weight loss goals. And those “before” photos can be a huge wake-up call!

Review of last week’s goals:

Lose 3 lbs. = Goal not achieved, but I did see results in my measurements.

Exercise at least 5 days and I will incorporate 30 minutes of fat burning cardio into each of the sessions at the gym this week = Goal achieved. I mixed it up, 3 days +45min cardio and 2 days weight training.

 Goals for the week (Feb 17th – 23rd):

We are going to Disney World this week to vacation and run a few races. My goal is to continue to make healthy food choices even though we are on vacation. I do not want to do anything that will set me back.

Plans to achieve goals: –  


I will make healthy food choices for the majority of our trip. I will allow myself to 4 “cheat” meals over the course of the trip.


We are running a 5K, 10K and ½ marathon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Before those races I will do at least 20 minutes of core exercises each day.


 Review of last week’s goals:

Add 30 mins of cardio into my workouts 3-4 days this week. Goal = Achieved.   

Goals for the week (Feb 17th – 23rd):

My goals for the week are to eat as clean as possible while on vacation. 

Plan to achieve goals –


While dining out, I’ll make healthy food choices.  We’re bringing some snacks and homemade protein bars so if we get hungry we won’t make poor food choices.

I will allow myself a cheat meal after the half marathon and maybe another cheat meal throughout the week.

Exercise: For this week my goal for exercise is to enjoy my races! This is the start of a heavy half marathon schedule over the next few months.  With one half marathon each month from February to April.


Day #26 Valentine’s Day. The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness

Day #26

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Every holiday I make Kristen a holiday themed breakfast. I had to search a bit to find a healthy Valentine’s Day breakfast recipe. (A lot of recipes claim to be healthy.)

This morning I made Kristen Ezekiel bread French toast topped with berries and mini egg and veggie muffins that I arranged into a heart shape. Success!

 Why Ezekiel Bread?

 Here is a fun video we made for Valentine’s Day. ”Better Shape Up”


 Ezekiel Bread French toast:  (adapted from


4 slices of Ezekiel Bread

1/4 cup Egg White

1/4 cup Almond Milk

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 cup Blueberries

1/4 cup Blackberries

¼ cup Strawberries


1. Mix together egg whites, almond milk and cinnamon in shallow dish.

2. Soak 3 slices of Ezekiel Raisin Bread in mixture.

3. Cook in pan on medium heat until golden brown, then flip. (lightly spray pan with oil)

4. Top with berries and sugar-free syrup.

 Egg and veggie muffins: (adapted from

Ingredients: (Yields 6 egg muffins or 12 mini muffins)

2 eggs

3 egg whites

 Diced onion

 Diced green peppers

 Low fat Shredded Mozzarella (Optional)


 1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

 2. Beat the eggs. Add cracked black pepper. A pinch of salt if desired.

 3. Choose and put in your fillings. I did a little bit of each.

 4. Pour egg close to the top. Leave a little room for it to rise and puff up.

 5. Add cheese on top if desired.

 6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Day #24- #25 Healthy comfort food. The first 100 days: A journey to health and wellness

Day #24 – #25

It isn’t easy sticking to the weight management plan on a Snow Day. We both really wanted to eat comfort food and snuggle under a blanket all day.

We made Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili, a healthy alternative to typical comfort food. We forced ourselves to exercise too, besides the snow shoveling we also a variety of core exercises for 30 minutes.

The chili was DELICOUS. Our new favorite healthy comfort food. We followed the recipe below and added 1 cup of cooked quinoa to make it a little more “hearty”.

Check out this short video about Fresh vs. Frozen food. We were surprised to learn that fresh isn’t always the most nutritious choice.

 **If you want start your own weight management journey, check out the NMR Facebook page tomorrow. NMR is giving away a FREE weight management session with Dr. Sferra.**

 Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili (from


 20 oz 93% lean ground turkey

 kosher salt, to taste

 1/2 cup onion, chopped

 3 cloves garlic, crushed

 10 oz can Rotel mild tomatoes with green chilies

 8 oz can tomato sauce

 3/4 cup water

 1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste

 1/4 tsp chili powder

 1/4 tsp paprika

 1 bay leaf

 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

 fresh cilantro, for garnish



In a large skillet, brown turkey over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks into smaller pieces and season with salt and cumin.

 When meat is browned and cooked through add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the can of Rotel tomatoes, sweet potato, tomato sauce, water, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and bay leaf.

Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are soft and cooked through, about 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup more water if needed. Remove bay leaf and serve.

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