Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Die"... With a "T"

Because you have to learn to live with the body you have, not the body you wish you had

Yes , it's true. Like most Americans, I struggle with my weight and have done so for most of my life. Yet, unlike some, I've also lost it all, shedding more that one hundred and fifty pounds some years ago. At one point in time I was actually down to my ideal weight and managed to keep off the extra pounds for more than two years. And how, you may ask, did I do that? Well, it wasn't easy.

Past experience has convinced me that the formula for weight loss is simply Reduced Calories + Increased Activity. I also realize there are other variables, of course, such as the type of calories and 'making your calories count' by increasing your intake percentage of whole grains, low fat/lean protein, fresh vegetables and fruits, etc... But the basic formula remains largely unchanged. And it's such a simple formula, isn't it? NOT!

Because the reality is that, while the formula itself may be simple, executing it is not. Exercise regimens, for example, require that you establish a consistent routine, something my former '9-to-5' government job (where I worked during the two years I managed to keep the weight off) allowed me to do. Sadly, the unpredictable schedules and workloads common in 'Corporate America' today are significantly less 'routine friendly'.

Beyond the exercise element though, I also believe that the significant challenges related to maintaining a 'daily diet' are commonly underestimated. For example, we're led to believe that, in a world where instant gratification of a dietary nature is available on every street corner, we can somehow achieve a sort of 'dietary balance' simply by avoiding the 'prepared foods' we choose to buy in the course of our plus-twelve hour days... When we'd otherwise be cooking 'healthy meals'.

Which leaves the most important factor in any weight loss regimen... Motivation. Without proper motivation, you'll fail before you even start. In my case, I'd just become a new father, taken on a new and highly stressful job I was untrained and unqualified for, and ended up working eighty hours a week at said new job with little time to even think about food... Which helped me lose thirty pounds in only a few weeks!

Motivated by my initial weight loss and a new daughter (and, truth be told, with the help of an over-the-counter weight loss medication that's since been removed from the market), I continued to lose weight. And when the eighty-hour a week IT conversion I'd been working on ended, I was further blessed with '9-to-5' work hours that enabled me to start and maintain a regular exercise routine. So, in reality, I didn't lose the weight due to superhuman will power, but rather due to a 'perfect storm' of events. That said though, I did prove (to myself, at least) that it was possible.

All of which brings me back to the fundamental challenges of managing one's own diet... A task that, in the long run, I failed at miserably (having regained all I'd lost and more). Establishing a new life style is hard, and anyone who tells you differently is either lying to your face or is a 'celebrity endorser'. Still, that doesn't prevent us from continuing to try and 'find the balance'. And, in support of that goal, I've created another recipe to share...

Tim's Quick & Easy Low-Fat Stir Fry

Inspired by my cousin, Marc Frigard, a professional chef who taught me the proper use of sesame oil


1.5 oz. of Japanese-style buckwheat/whole wheat noodles
PAM-branded cooking spray
8 oz of frozen, stir-fry veggies
3.5 oz. (i.e. 1/2 can, net) of Kirkland-branded canned white meat chicken (NOTE: Vegitarian substitution: Your favorite flavored tofu, cut into small, bite-sized cubes)
2 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. teriyaki sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil


Bring 4c. of water to a boil, add noodles, cook for 5 min, then drain and rinse with warm water to remove any excess sodium. Spray a large pan/wok with PAM cooking spray, bring to a high heat, and wait until the PAM has either begun to discolor slightly or you can smell oil. Then add veggies and stir-fry, stirring continuously, for approximately 3 minutes. Add chicken, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and sesame oil, stirring for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Makes approximately 2 - 8 oz/1 c. servings.

Nutritional comparison:
For those curious as to whether or not this recipe is healthier than processed alternatives...
Tim's stir fry (1c. serving) (1)

La Choy-branded Chicken Chow Mein w/Chow Mein Noodles (1c. serving) (2)(3)

Calories: 203.5, Fat: 5.125g, Sodium: 865mg

Calories: 230, Fat: 16g, Sodium: 1470


(1) Note: The amount of sodium is likely lower than shown due to the rinsing of noodles, but I have no way to measure the reduction.

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