Tag Archives: lean

Day One of My Shakeology Cleanse

I’m technically 10.5 hours into my 3 day Shakeology Cleanse as I write this, and so far, so good!  A Shakeology Cleanse consists of 3 servings of Shakeology made with water instead of milk or juice, a couple pieces of fruit for snacks, and one large meal comprised a leafy green salad with fish or chicken and minimal dressing.  Beverages are all the water you want, and decaffeinated green tea. As it turns out, the morning portion isn’t a lot different than what I do every day anyway.

Most mornings, I have a cup of black half-caff coffee and a serving of Shakeology made with skim milk or orange juice (chocolate and Greenberry, respectively.)  Some time around the middle of the morning I have a piece of fruit or an Odwalla bar or some almonds for a snack.  The morning portion of the cleanse is pretty much the same as what I already do.  After that, it will get interesting.  I did stick to the one cup of black coffee I pick up on my way to work each day.

So why am I doing this?  There are several reasons:

  • I’ve been stuck on a weight loss plateau for a couple months, trying to lose the weight I put back on last November when I was ill.
  • The cleanse will give my digestive system a bit of a break and allow it a minor reset.
  • The cleanse allows your body to purge sugars, toxins and accumulated contaminants like preservatives.  Although I minimize my intake of highly processed food, it’s tough to avoid it altogether.

Stay tuned!

Shakeology Tropical Strawberry, Chocolate, and Greenberry.

Shakeology is the healthiest meal of the day!

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Calories

Many people equate reduced calories with reduced portion sizes and reduced enjoyment. Reducing the amount of food you eat is certainly one way to approach the issue of calorie reduction. But I have to tell you, I don’t suffer well, and I sure don’t suffer in silence. Here are some tips to help you reduce your calorie intake while not making yourself feel deprived. These work for me and I am sure they will work for you! (The calorie counts I list below came from caloriecount.com, a really handy resource.)

  1. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk, for 95 calories versus 175 calories per half-pint. (Reduced fat milk still comes in at 125 calories per half-pint.)
  1. Use unsugared all fruit spread on your toast (whole grain, of course!) instead of regular jam or jelly, for 40 calories* versus typically 74 calories per tablespoon.
  1. Put mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on your burgers instead of cheese, mayonnaise, and ketchup. This can shave off as much as 180 calories (based upon 1 tablespoon each of ketchup and mayonnaise and 1 slice of American cheese).
  1. Season steamed vegetables with pepper or salt-free blends instead of butter or butter substitutes, to save 100 calories per tablespoon.
  1. You know deep frying adds calories, right? Substitute a baked skinless chicken breast for one that’s deep fried with the skin on, for 110 calories versus 225 calories.
  1. Exercise portion control and have half a slice of pie or cake, or share your dessert with your significant other, either of which easily reduces the calories by 50 percent. One method is obviously more fun than the other!
  1. Avoid super-sizing when eating out for significant savings-in calorie intake!
  1. Ask for a dry baked potato at restaurants, not a plain one for 161 calories versus 375 calories for a medium sized spud. A “plain” baked potato usually comes loaded with butter or margarine. If you must have a topping, ask for it on the side and be stingy with it.
  1. Indulge a chocolate craving with a couple of dark chocolate minis, at 42 calories** each, rather than an entire bar at 510 calories.**
  1. Ditch soda and other sweetened drinks in favor of flavored sparkling water for 0 calories versus as much as 110 calories per ounce. (I like Poland Springs’  flavored water.) Watch out for flavored water loaded up with additives and artificial sweeteners.

*Cascadian Farmsbrand

**Dove brand

Boost Your Metabolism

Boosting the metabolism is something for which many of us strive,  but how fast your body burns calories depends on several factors.  Some people inherit a speedy metabolism.  Men tend to burn more calories than women, even while resting.  And for most people, metabolism slows steadily after age 40.   You can’t control your age, gender, or genetics, there are ways to get a boost.

Our bodies constantly burn calories, even when we’re doing nothing, sort of like a pilot light in a gas fired water heater.  This resting metabolic rate is higher in people with greater muscle mass, so by increasing the amount of muscle you have, you increase the calories you burn all the time.  Every pound of muscle burns about 7 to 10 calories a day just to sustain itself, while each pound of fat burns only 2 to 4 calories daily.  That small difference can add up over time.  In addition, after a session of weight lifting or resistance training, muscles are activated all over your body, increasing your average daily metabolic rate.

Aerobic exercise may not build big muscles, but it can rev up your metabolism in the hours after a workout.  The key is to push yourself hard and for an extended period.  High-intensity exercise delivers a bigger, longer increase in resting metabolic rate than low- or moderate-intensity workouts.  To get the benefits, try a more intense class at the gym or include short bursts of jogging during your regular walk, or work out with programs like TurboFire or Insanity.

The body needs water to process calories.  If you are even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down as your body compensates by hoarding water, including by diverting it from your digestive system.   In one study, adults who drank eight or more glasses of water a day burned more calories than those who drank four.  Also, ice-cold beverages prompt the body to burn more calories during digestion, simply by warming it to body temperature.  Research suggests five or six glasses of water on the rocks can use up an extra 10 calories a day.  Hey, it all adds up!

A young lady doing a kickback with a dumbbell.

Increase your metabolism by increasing your muscle mass.


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, my thoughts are turning to roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and candied yams.  Oh yeah, it would be so easy to blow months of hard work away in just one afternoon of culinary indulgence and televised football.  I’m not planning to go overboard, but neither do I plan to much on celery sticks instead of pumpkin pie.

One of the big lessons I have learned this past year and a half is: portion control.  I used to eat an entire large double pepperoni pizza all by myself.  I know, disgusting, right?  Now, I can content myself with one or two slices.  I’m going to approach the Thanksgiving meal the same way.  I don’t need to eat an entire drumstick and drown half a pound of spuds in a quart of gravy.  OK, perhaps I exaggerate a wee bit, but you see my point.  I’m going to have some white meat, minus the skin, go easy on the portion sizes, and use gravy as an accent rather than its own food group.  I’m going to emphasize lean protein and vegetables, and minimize (but not totally eliminate) carbohydrates and fats on my plate.  And yes, I am going to enjoy a slice or two of pie for dessert!

Because, here’s another lesson I’ve learned: you have to allow yourself to have some fun once in a while!  Sure, I am proud that I’ve been able to modify my eating habits into something a lot less likely to lead me to an early grave.  But that doesn’t mean that I now eat like a pauper.  I think that if I’m going to live longer, it would be far preferable if I were happy while I’m doing so.  I do not subscribe to the theory that self-denial and deprivation makes you stronger.  I think that they make you grumpy and resentful.   So, on Thanksgiving Day, have a nice, sensible dinner with people who matter to you, enjoy the meal, and be kind to yourself.

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News

Over the past 18 months or so I have lost 36 pounds, dropped five inches off my waist, and gotten my total cholesterol under 200 through a combination of better nutrition, modified eating habits, and between an hour to an hour and a half of exercise six days per week. This has worked wonders for me!  I feel better, I have more energy, and I’m far less embarrassed by my body.

before Beachbody and after Beachbody

My Before and After shots.

But, there is a reason you see all these disclaimers advising you to consult a physician before beginning any exercise program-other than contingency fee attorneys!  Simply, so many Americans are so sedentary that suddenly putting the cardio-vascular system into high gear, without a gradual ramp up, is just asking for trouble.

Imagine a car that hasn’t been driven for more than 20 miles a week, any faster than 35 mph, for several years.  Stomp the gas pedal to the floor and run it flat out, and chances are pretty good something will break.  Well, the same thing can happen to the human body.  Talk to your “mechanic” before you start anything strenuous if that’s a new course of action for you. Go see your doctor first if you are starting out!