Thursday, September 15, 2011

Zing Away The Monotony! A Guide to Spicing Up The Essentials

Not what my lunch looks like.
When someone first finds out about my weight loss, one of the questions I'll hear inevitably in that first conversation is: "Isn't it really boring eating the same foods all the time?"  The martyr in me begs to reply immediately with a resounding "Yes!"  When I take the time to think about it, though, yes, I have to be more disciplined than probably 95% of the population, but I don't think I have it all that bad.  Having recently started a full-time job as an instrumental consultant with a music company, co-workers have observed my a-typical habits of bringing my pre-made meals in with me every day, consisting of some plain brown rice, broccoli and a chicken breast.

On first glance, okay, yeah, I get rice and veggies don't smell as appetizing as the Spicy Chicken and Cheese Hot Pockets that went into the microwave before my lunch, and the aroma certainly doesn't linger tantalizingly for hours like the pizza the percussion guys ordered for lunch.  Yes, it does look pretty plain sitting there in the clear plastic Tupperware I use, no sauce or visible accoutrements to arouse any food-lust.

To me, this is the essence of today's food dilemma...the popular convention is to dismiss healthy, or whole food as boring.  The fewer ingredients, the more ordinary the dish, right?  Not always the case.  Problem is, our food culture has conditioned us to react favorably to certain food features, and unfortunately, many of those features aren't desirable ones.  I, like I imagine the vast majority of the population, get excited about foods that look cheesy, saucy, or have a ton of ingredients, but when considering the amount of extra calories that are being stacked on top of the dishes' foundation, I lose my appetite a bit.  

Here's my solution--spices don't give you a major hit in the caloric department, and as long as you use them in reasonable moderation and monitor the ingredients in the hot sauces (sodium, sugar are the usual culprits to keep in check), really give you that extra flavor you look for without the caloric load of typical "binders" such as sauce and cheese, etc.   I hold an arsenal of spices and hot sauces at my disposal during every single meal I prepare and eat.  Let me introduce you to my favorite weapons:

Spice:  McCormick's Smokehouse Maple Grill Seasoning

Love this!  Have to thank my friend Jordan for inadvertently introducing me to this one, I tried it on breakfast eggs while house-sitting his dog this summer, and loved it.  I use it primarily as I did the first time, on eggs with my breakfast, and it gives you a little of that "smoky" flavor, like you're eating eggs on a plate with bacon and pancakes with maple syrup, three foods which aren't ever a part of my morning diet but have a tantalizing flavor nonetheless!  Great on chicken or ground turkey as well.

Spice:  Weber's Smokey Mesquite Seasoning

I have to credit another friend, graduate school roommate Ben, with the discovery of this one...I've used this on chicken, steak, ground turkey, vegetables, in soups, on eggs, and as fertilizer for my window plants.  Okay, not quite, but the point is, this Smokey Mesquite has a flavor which lends itself to just about anything, and it has become one of my favorites!

Hot Sauce:  Sriracha

Wish I could say I discovered this as a diamond in the rough, but this one's no secret...gaining more and more popularity in the US market, the Sriracha brand is a chili-based pasty hot sauce which has with no doubt the most "heat" of any hot sauce I use.  Recommendation here: try it on a bowlful of brown rice and grilled vegetables, with a little lean grilled meat.  Don't bother adding salt, the Sriracha kick is all you'll need!

Hot Sauce:  Trader Joe's Sweet Chili Sauce

A new favorite, I add this one to my daily pre-packed lunch of brown rice, chicken breast and broccoli, with great results!  Adding a tablespoon (I try not to add more, only 25 cals. per tbsp. but a few grams of sugar) really complements the three unspiced elements of my lunch very nicely!


Enjoy!  A few other hot sauces I've tried and enjoy:  Tabasco Chipotle and Original Pepper Sauces, and Cholula Sauce, as made famous by San Francisco Giants' pitcher Brian Wilson on Showtime's "The Franchise" this summer.

Link of the Day:  A good friend just started a blog on healthy (and mostly vegan) eating and excercise, it's worth a read!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mid-Week Update: May 6, 2011

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 271.4 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 31.4, Past week's weight loss (May 2011): -3.2 lbs, 2011 weight loss: -18.4 lbs, total weight loss: 112.3 lbs.

Now that I've gotten the admission of my month-long falter out of the way, it's time for a real update!  After coming clean last week, I got to work, and thanks to my renewed inspiration, this past week's results have been much improved...

I managed to knock off about 3 lbs. last week, with the help of Lose It (see previous post), tracking my caloric and nutrient intake.  So far, this current experience using the Lose It app has proved to be a really positive one.  Again, I'll reaffirm my take from previous posting about the importance of understanding that staying within a calorie limit won't singularly cause the body to become healthier.  Understanding the simple math of calorie intake can help lose weight, but the most important aspect to keep in mind is the quality of the calories eaten.

That's the thing to remember, and when I'm tracking food intake with Lose It, that aspect becomes painfully clear!  As an example, I can eat several heaping bowls of seasoned vegetables for under 100 calories, while a  Mini-size Snickers ice-cream bar (a delicacy in its own right!), consumed in two bites, checks in at 90 calories.  I don't think I even need to answer the question of which will leave me feeling more full.  Keeping this in mind becomes increasingly important when the calorie limit drops with each weight loss.

Stay tuned, hopefully I'll have more good news on the way!

- Dan -

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lose the Pounds with "Lose It!": A Practical Weight and Nutritional Tool (For non-iPhone/iPod Touch users)

About two years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to an iPhone/iPod Touch application (also available for usage as a web site for those without an iPhone, see the address above) called "Lose It!" which helped him count his daily calories on his way to losing about 40 lbs over the course of several months.  The app, which is FREE, by the way, helps users enter everything they eat each day into a simple system which tracks both the nutritional and caloric content of each food item, then stores the information in the app to track the daily, weekly and monthly averages.

The program is designed to help users determine a caloric limit based on their gender, age, height and weight (basically the BMI scale), which in turn provide a basic metabolic rate (BMR).  The Lose It formula gives each user the option, whether they want to set up their caloric limit to maintain their weight, or lose anywhere from 1/2 pound to 2 pounds per week.  The formula then determines how much of a caloric deficit each user need to run per day to lose however much the user specifies.  The caloric limit will adjust based on weigh-in figures, which will lower or raise the caloric limit according to the weight trend.  Users can also enter any variety of exercises they might do, which will be figured into each daily log.

I've had several friends do very well using this application, the one I mentioned earlier used this program exclusively and lost about 40-50 lbs, and another good friend of mine has been using the program for about 4-5 weeks and has lost nearly 20 lbs.  

It's been helpful for me too, and I'll post some updates about how things come along as I continue to use the program.  Laurelin decided to start an account too, to track her food intake (though she needs far less help than I do!).

If you create an account, feel free to add me as a "friend" by searching using my name or email, ddnesbitt (at)

Check it out!

- Dan -

The Ups and Downs of Weight Loss

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 274.6 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 31.6, Current month’s weight loss (March 2011): +4.8 lbs, 2011 weight loss: -15.2 lbs, total weight loss: 109.2 lbs.

Hello friends!

Sorry I've been away; if I said I had been busy, it would be the understatement of the year.  Let's just say it's been a pretty hectic month, and I'm glad to be back on to share and update and some thoughts with you all.  First of all, it's time to come clean.  If you check out my update chart above, you see that, yes (*GASP*), in fact, this month I've gained almost five pounds.  In fairness, the weight I posted on March 26 was only one day, and I was really probably around 270-271 instead of 269.  Nevertheless, yeah, I've gotten lazy.  No excuses.  Let me share some thoughts about it.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was on a roll due to the stringency required of me in order to pass a military physical for which I needed to measure at 26% body fat.  Well, long story short, the day of the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station), I tested at 27%, which failed my physical, and was disqualified from the audition for which I was preparing.  Needless to say, it was a huge blow, and for a few days I was very bitter after all my hard work and deprivation seemed to be for nothing.  Projections for my physical (unofficial measurements by other military personnel working with me) showed that I would pass, and I was shocked and quite upset that things came out the way they did.

I won't try to work around the idea that failing that physical didn't stop my progress dead in its tracks.  The MEPS process seems to have the vibe of being rather cold and uber-official, and no one there understood my situation or how far I'd come (not that I could expect them to), and in the moment, it's a helpless feeling.  Making the final round of an audition in the professional music world is a major achievement, and to be denied the opportunity to showcase my musical skills because I was 1% body fat over the military limit on the day they measured me was a very upsetting result.

So yeah, I lost a lot of steam due to that experience.  It's hard not to, I think...when you've had a disappointing experience such as what I went through, it's hard to get yourself to say "It's just a temporary setback, you need to keep hitting the gym hard and eating nothing but vegetables and lean protein," without having a reason for doing so other than just getting healthier.

Not that it makes getting lazy excusable, I don't think there's ever a time for that for someone like me.  I've been reminded through my experiences time and time again that my body can't support diet relaxation.  I have to be very careful 90-95% of the time.  I fell to about 60-70% for a while, and I've paid the price.  Thankfully, yeah, it's only a couple of pounds, but it's time to get back on the proverbial horse.  Laurelin and I went on a good run today, and that was great for both of us.  Time to keep it up!

Several years ago, when I was at my heaviest, I set out to lose almost 150 lbs.  I've knocked off 110 of that, almost a THIRD of my original body weight, and now it's time to finish the job.  No excuses, no more relaxation.  From now on, I stick to my plan and I'm going to get there.

As Charlie Sheen would say, "Failure is not an option."  Thanks, Charlie.

- Dan -

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26 Progress Report

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 269.2 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 31.1, Current month’s weight loss (March 2011): -7.2 lbs, 2011 weight loss: -20.0 lbs, total weight loss: 114.0 lbs.

My repeated problem of absence: Again, I have to apologize for the's not from lack of progress or motivation, I still am having plenty of both, thankfully!  I'm a month away from graduating with my Master's Degree from Carnegie Mellon, and I'm making sure to tie up all the loose ends takes more effort than I would like, but that's the way it is!

Progress and Changes in Diet: A few things have changed lately for me, and I'll share my findings briefly.  As I found out a few weeks ago that I'm a finalist for a position with the US Military Academy Band at West Point, I am obligated to meet their physical standards before the final audition round, which is mid-April.   Therefore, I've been, let's say "prodded" into speeding up my progress a bit!  One of my good friends, Mike, recently did something similar, dropping 30-40 lbs. in several months to qualify for a military audition with the US Air Force.  His approach was to cook for himself from the South Beach program, and he shared a few principles with me which have helped me zero in a little on my program.  On his recommendation, I've eliminated some non-vegetable carbs for the short-term, and I'm only eating green vegetables, no corn or carrots anymore for the moment, as they carry a little more sugar than do broccoli and green beans, for example.  This has been positive for me so far, and I've dropped a little quicker as a result.

Here's hoping I'll be able to post a little more frequently!  As always, please post questions and comments, I'd love to hear from you, and if you have questions, that gives me a little more reason to be faithful with my regular posting!

Thanks for reading!

- Dan - 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 5 Progress Report

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 275.2 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 31.8, Current month’s weight loss (March 2011): 1.8 lbs, 2011 weight loss: -14.6 lbs, total weight loss: 108.6 lbs.

Catching up: For those of you who faithfully read my blog posts, I have to apologize for my absence the last week and a half.  In my defense, I've had some fairly significant unexpected developments in my professional life, and I've had to commit some focus to that.  

Good several weeks of progress: I've lost a few pounds, and am seeing some good results.  Laurelin and I usually make a weekly exception to our normal diet, going next door to the theater to get some bulk trail mix from a whole food market before our movie date.  This seems to be alright so far, it hasn't made a difference in my weigh-ins, and since my body feels fine, I should assume it's okay.  Thankfully, I haven't been suffering many cravings lately, my brain is definitely in weight-loss mode, I don't even consider buying unhealthy food at this point, it's a subconscious decision.  I need to keep that up as long as last summer, once I push that conscience out of the way a few times in a row, it's a very slippery slope!

Updates/Improvements: I've added a small box on the right sidebar where you can share my posts on Facebook and Twitter, along with a few other popular sites.  I'd encourage you to do so, and I'd really appreciate it!

- Dan - 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reader Feedback Q&A : Biggest Struggles

About a week ago, I invited you all to submit some comments in response to last week's poll about biggest struggles in health/weight loss.  Thanks to all who posted, and I want to hold up my end of the bargain by responding as well as I can!  I want to re-emphasize, I'm not a nutritionist or a medical professional, these suggestions are just things I've found while on my own long weight-loss journey.  I'll provide my best advice, and some variety, hopefully, you'll be able to find something that works for you!  Here we go...

Q:  What are some ways to navigate the lack of healthy things I would actually eat on restaurant menus?

This is a great question, and something I've had to learn to reconcile myself with as well.  It's not impossible, but it's tough, and if you're determined to stay away from eating unhealthy food but are forced to eat in restaurants frequently for whatever reason, it makes it more difficult.  First of all, there are things you will have to avoid if you're actually concerned about making healthy choices.  Anything fried is pretty much out.  The unhealthy fat used to fry food items, not to mention the empty carbs in white flour used for breading, make this a sad reality, but a reality nonetheless.  Just avoid it.  Period.  Grilled meats are great, the leaner the better, and chicken is best.  Try to stay away from heavy sauces or marinades, at the very least be aware of what's going on it.  If you order a sandwich, I would try to minimize the damage by ordering a side salad or steamed vegetables (these usually come at no extra charge as a substitute) instead of chips or fries.  Salads are great, especially with some grilled lean meat for protein, but be careful, dressings are full of hidden calories and unhealthy fats.  Ask for balsamic vinegar and olive oil, most restaurants will have them.

Q:  There's usually a certain amount of peer pressure involved in eating out with friends, how to I manage that?

It takes a lot of mental toughness, for sure.  This is one of the reasons I kept gaining weight in college, if my friends wanted to get a pizza late at night or go out for food after I had already had dinner, my social side told me I needed to take part or I'd be missing out.  Giving in to these temptations became a norm for me, and that did me in.  I had to learn to tell myself, "you'll feel better about yourself, about your body and about your progress if you just go, have a glass of water and enjoy your friends' company."

Q: How can I teach myself to NOT like certain kinds of food? If I see some candy, a bag of chips, I go for it. Why? Because it's delicious and I don't see its bad side right way. I know it is a terrible way to live/eat, but how can I teach myself to go for the carrots and celery instead of the wings?

It's impossible to explain why we like certain kinds of food, we just do, and for me to think that someday I won't like Italian food (though I haven't eaten it in months), it's just not going to happen.  Here's the thing: you won't someday look at the celery and carrots and forget about the wings.  However, the trick is to flip a 180-degree turn on your instincts.  You really want some wings?  Eat some wings!  But be sensible about it, don't drown them in sauce, and don't eat them again for a while.  Eat foods that are whole and filling and tasty in their own right.  Eventually, I promise, the craving will ease.  A few months ago, if I got the urge to buy a frozen pizza, there's no way I would have been able to hold off, because wasn't in the proper place with my eating.  Now, all I can think about when I pass the DiGiorno case is what it might do to my progress, and I can walk by.  A few tips that have worked for me, but I don't necessarily recommend to everyone; 1) I weigh-in every single day.  This discourages me from making bad choices, because I HATE seeing my weight go up...however, this works for me only because I use it to gauge progress over the long-term.  Do NOT place too much stock in your day-to-day weight...just the trends and the way your body looks is important to understand how much progress you're making...2) I hate spending excess money, so realizing that I can buy a healthy bag of dried black beans which will last me several days for the same price as buying a bag of chips.  That makes my decision a lot easier in the moment of temptation.

Q: I struggle with consistency! I'll be ultra motivated one day, super hyped for my exercise routine, and then the next day I'll eat cheesecake and not do anything physical at all. How do you keep yourself on task?

Consistency is tough for us all, you're not alone!  My suggestion: give yourself a goal for the week, eat well all week, and you can have that piece of cheesecake on the weekend!  Also, schedule your workouts!  It's easy to avoid working out when it's just a hap-hazard thing you'll decide to throw into your day, especially if you're busy and you reach the end of the day and lack the motivation to get to the gym.  That's just unrealistic.  Set a goal, 4 days, 5 days in the week.  Intentionally leave out your busiest days!  That'll give you a better chance to get there.  

Q: I totally self-medicate with food. For example, I've been having a crap-tastic day today and the only thing I wanted was some kind of cake/baked good. I knew that if I had something, it would make everything better (at least for a little while). And I had a small cupcake with dinner, and everything was at peace. This was good, because I only had one, very small cupcake. However, I will totally destroy a package of Oreos if left to my own devices. I just need to build my confidence to be able to deal with problems without resorting to food.

Listen, I understand completely...there's a reason we have a whole section of our cultural diet labeled as "comfort food."  However, having been there, this is the sort of cycle which leads down the wrong path.  I'm susceptible to binging on junk too, that's why I just don't keep it around.  I understand how this all feels, but I have to say, this was me during a dark time for my health.  It wasn't until I started taking pride in feeding my body the right food that I was able to learn how to keep food in its rightful place.  My simple advice: if it's going to be tempting, don't bring it into the house.   Absolutely and positively don't even push it to the back of your shelf, you will know where it is, and when you're tempted, your body's desire will be stronger than your conscience.  I stopped buying peanut butter, because one of my favorite indulgences was to grab a spoon and get a spoonful of PB...long story short, one becomes two and soon I've eaten 50% of my daily fat allowance in three bites!  There's no way I'd drink olive oil, so there's my temptation-free healthy fat which I use on most of my meals.  My wife has started drinking tea at night, to give her something to look forward to...I eat fruit when I go on the prowl...having harmless food around that you learn to look forward to is the best option.  Please comment further if you have any further questions, this is tough!

Q:  I overeat, but instead of eating potato chips, I try to make enormous salads. I think I find a basic satisfaction in putting fuel in my body, but of course I'd prefer pizza to brussel sprouts. I also use food as a reward, i.e., if I'm studying, I want Sour Patch kids, etc. So, I just try to eat a ton of carrots or big fruit salads or something healthy. Other relatively guilt-free snacks include Cheerios and air-popped popcorn.

Not a question, obviously, but this warrants discussion.  To tie this in to the previous question, I think I satisfy my "comfort food" craving with a lot of healthy food, like this poster is suggesting.  I love making a huge salad, rich in vegetables, a little protein and a little fiber.  My afternoon snack is often several servings of vegetables, with a little salt and pepper.  Not your typical snack food, but I promise you, it's just as satisfying, and eventually you'll learn to look forward to that instead of Oreos.  You're right on the money, food can be a reward, and you're right in making healthy choices.  Food is our friend, processed junk is our enemy.  Eating good food is and incredibly rewarding feeling, and so guilt-free.  Enjoy it!

I believe that God put food on this planet for our enjoyment, not just our nourishment.  Try explaining to me how tomatoes, garlic, onions and fresh basil can all go together so incredibly otherwise.  He didn't have to make it tasty, bland food could have nourished us just as well!  However, such a huge percentage of the food our culture eats is man-made, and that's what makes it dangerous.  We've twisted the food consumption culture into a money-making and flavor-craving venture, and we're paying for it...I don't believe we should have to feel guilty for eating anything, it's unfortunate that our food industry has created the entire problem of food guilt, and the reasons behind it.

As always, your questions, comments, agreements, disagreements are welcomed!  This is, and hopefully continues to be a forum for edification of everyone involved, and your contributions make it possible!

- Dan -

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back On The Losing Edge: February 19th Progress Report

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 277.0 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 32.0, Current month’s weight loss (February 2011): 2.6 lbs, 2011 weight loss: -12.8 lbs, total weight loss: 106.8 lbs.

WEEKLY WEIGHT LOSS  from February 5-February 11: -1.0 lbs

You say you want proof?
Today is a blog first: I am writing and publishing this update while on an exercise bike in Carnegie Mellon University's fitness center (where I work out when I'm stuck at school and not able to go to our next door neighbor YMCA)!  Technology is amazing, and something about putting into practice what I preach as I preach it makes it seem more it's infinitely more productive than surfing the Internet or listening to music while I work out.

Good week: I lost a bit, and generally felt like I was back in the routine a bit after my previous week's indiscretions.   I was held back from making more progress, since I was in crunch time for some big projects having to do with finishing my Masters, which obviously took precedence over heading to the gym in my "free time."  I made it to the gym several times this week, but hopefully I'll be back in the groove from now on.

Food cravings: There were a few, namely last night when driving an hour back home from playing a concert in Wheeling, WV, where I had eaten the salad I brought for dinner at 5:00 PM and was driving past numerous fast food joints at 10:30 PM, feeling like I could eat a horse.  I reminded myself of my impending progress report day weigh-in, and was able to stave off the cravings until I got home and had a banana, my daily dark chocolate and a few almonds.  Not by any means my ideal time to eat, but I had to have something, and that was some minimal damage!  Victory...

Coming later today: my editorial on health/weight loss obstacles, in response to your submissions on my Q&A call earlier this week.  Thanks again for those of you who responded, and I'll look forward to doing my best to help you out!

- Dan - 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Cookbook, New Recipe!

Good's that time of the week! Time to feed the hungry with something new, healthy and delicious. To my faithful readers, I'm sorry my posts have been a little late, I've been caught up with finishing some graduate school projects which have required my attention (or no degree!) lately...

Get this...
Lucky for me, this week's recipe post has been made easy...I celebrated my birthday about a week ago, and Laurelin got me a new toy, the UltraMetabolism Cookbook!  A quick flip through the book looked very promising, and I'm looking forward to trying a bunch of these recipes, which are all compliant with the UltraMetabolism eating parameters...

About a week ago before a concert, I had a bowl of spicy black bean soup at a local restaurant, and I was immediately hooked...I've been eating beans for a while now, but this was a great, fresh-tasting spin on the fiber-rich carbs which I've been eating.  I found a recipe in this cookbook which looks very similar, and I wanted to share it with you all.



(makes 4 servings)

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
4 cups cooked black beans
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tsp. minced jalapeño pepper
2 tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. minced oregano
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh minced cilantro
2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch over or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the beans, broth, tomatoes, red pepper, jalapeño pepper, molasses, oregano, cumin, coriander, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Enjoy this recipe! I'll look forward to sharing some more of these as I try them...

Thanks for reading!

- Dan -

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Results Are In...I Need Your Feedback!

Thanks to all 36 of you who participated in this week's poll!  Glad to get you all involved, and now I want to go even further in interacting with you on these poll results.

The VERDICT:  Based on the poll votes, the top 3 obstacles preventing us from becoming more healthy and/or losing weight are...drumroll, please!

#1 - Eating "trouble" foods (52%)
Honestly, no surprise there, our food industry promotes all the wrong products to us, and it's no wonder we all fall for the junk every so often.  Some more often than others, I've been there!  Some of this stems from food cravings caused by chemicals in processed food which is everywhere around us, some due to self-control issues....the are a number of ways to get around this, we shall discuss this in depth.

#2 - Finding motivation to exercise (41%)
Yes, this is tough, especially if working out isn't a habit, or hasn't ever been a habit.  It's also very daunting if you're quite out of shape or overweight, it seems like a big obstacle to overcome.  I've been there too, and it can be overcome, I've got some great suggestions, stay tuned, I want to hear from you all first.

#3 - Overeating (33%)
I also would have this in my personal top three...I've been there, and it's so easy to get there.  I've mentioned before, I love food, and if it's there, chances are I'll eat it...soon enough, you feel overstuffed, and all you've eaten is junk.  SO, there are steps to take to get away from this too.  There are definitely reasons for this tendency, and I'll get into that.


What I need from YOU! - I really want to get the blog readers interacting here...especially if you voted, but even if you didn't, leave a comment on this post, describing your struggles...leave the comment anonymously, or if you feel like leaving your name, that's fine too.  All in the name of honesty, and getting issues out there and discussed.  I'd love to be able to address comments individually, so PLEASE leave some feedback here about how you may be struggling or have struggled.  Any comment, however short or lengthy, will be beneficial!  Let's start the discussion!

Looking forward to hearing from you all!

- Dan -

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Let Your Exceptions Be Exceptions: Progress Update

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 278.0 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 32.1, Current month’s weight loss (February 2011): 1.6 lbs, 2011 weight loss: -11.8 lbs, total weight loss: 105.8 lbs.

WEEKLY WEIGHT LOSS  from February 5-February 11: -0.0 lbs

The second week of February couldn't have been more different from the first, and I'm writing this update, not because it's fun, but because honesty makes what I'm writing important and real.  It's not like commercials on TV, where you see just the great success stories and guarantees of weight loss, this is real life---there are ups and downs, and the point is to learn from mistakes.  That's how I got this far in the first place, by understanding, mostly, what NOT to do.  

One of Fat Head's Saloon's gigantic salads
Laurelin and I had planned for a while that we were going to take a day-long exception to enjoy a Super Bowl party with a bunch of friends, as our current city's football team, the Steelers, happened to be in the big game!  Well, as it turned out, I went out the night before with a couple of friends, had a beer, a Jalapeno-Cheddar Salad, and about a dozen fries off a friend's plate.  

The next day, there was plenty of delicious food to be had at the party, and I didn't hold back.  While I didn't go absolutely nuts, I did indulge in everything, not worrying about avoiding anything on the food table.  I had some meatballs, spinach artichoke dip, hummus, baked pasta with sauce and cheese, chili, a personal favorite which I brought - Barefoot Contessa's Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread, among other dips and dishes.

The damage?  My Saturday morning weigh-in was at 277.4 lbs.  My Monday morning weigh-in after 24 hours of reasonable indulgence?  284.6.  My body held in 7.2 lbs of (mostly water) weight from a 24 hour period of eating!  It took me until today, almost a full week, to get back to my last week's weight.  Now, I understand it's only temporary, but any sort of drastic spike like that should provide me with something to learn!

Forgive the Chandler Bing-esque answering my own questions to make a point, but here it goes.  Do I regret what I ate last weekend?  No, it was a great time with good food and good people, and I can make exceptions for those events.  Do I understand the profound impact that eating foods like those on a regular basis could have on your body, as delicious as they are?  Absolutely.  

Would it be smart to make such exceptions (like, "I feel like getting a pizza" or "let's go get some beers and food") without a legitimate cause?  Only if I feel like losing a week's worth of momentum.  My diet right now is 100% satisfying, and I'm getting every nutrient I need, without the added junk.  

So let your "yes" be "yes," your "no" be "no," and let your exceptions truly be exceptions.  Don't throw off your momentum for a momentary craving, they'll pass, but the momentum you lose if you give in won't be nearly as easy to get back.  

- Dan -

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Twitter Account!

Follow 3XL And Back on Twitter,


I'll post quick updates and thoughts when I don't have time to post on the blog...

New post coming later today!  Read about my post-Super Bowl weekend difficulties, and how I'm struggling through it, not all progress is exponential, there are ups and downs....

- Dan -

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recipe Wednesday: Veggie-Heavy Curry Skillet with Rice

One of my favorite lunch recipes is just a mix of a bunch of delicious vegetables, a little protein, some beans, and of course, spices!  This is a very versatile recipe, you can add as much or as little kick to it as you like, and it's pretty quick to throw together.  I love this one because I can use my precooked and refrigerated ingredients (rice/quinoa, ground turkey and beans) and throw some frozen veggies in, very easy!


(Recipe serves two)

1 large onion, slices in thin wedges
1 large green pepper, sliced into strips
1 cup mixed frozen vegetables of your choice (corn, peas, green beans, carrots)
1 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 cup browned ground turkey (equivalent to 1/2 pound uncooked)
1 cup beans of your choice (garbanzo, black, black-eyed, kidney)
1 cup (cooked) brown rice or quinoa
Season to taste with: garlic or ground granulated garlic, curry powder, salt, pepper and chili powder.

1) Cut up the onion, green pepper, and throw them in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil.

2) As the onion and green pepper start to soften, add some spice to cook into the mix.  Add the frozen vegetables.

3) When the vegetables are all soft and thawed, add the beans and ground turkey, and season again, mixing all the ingredients together.  I like spicy food, so I like to add a mixture of hot chili sauce (Sriracha) diluted with water, really gives it a nice kick!

Serve over or on the side of a portion of quinoa or brown rice, and drizzle a little olive oil on top.


- Dan -

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tasty and Healthy Bread Recipes, Anyone?

If any of you are like me, a warm, hearty slice of bread is a great treat, and if you can find a healthy recipe, you can get some nutrition out of it as well!

3XL And Back reader Emily has devoted some of her time over the last few years to a project, providing healthy bread recipes as well as vegan dishes, at her blog site, which you can find at:

While I'm in a gluten-free stage of the UltraMetabolism program right now, and bread is off-limits for the time being, a healthy slice of bread with the whole ingredients that Emily uses can be a great way to get healthy grains in your system.  She even has several recipes which incorporate my personal favorite grains, quinoa and brown rice!

Check it out!  Thanks Emily!

- Dan -

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Quiz/Poll Results and This Week's Poll Introduction

The VERDICT: Good news!  For the second straight week, the vast majority of the voters nailed it!  Almost 75% of the 27 voters this week correctly answered that the second and third options, "Counting Calories" and "Eliminating fat to lose body fat" are indeed the least effective ways of the four options in the poll, in health-checking your diet!  Good work!

The FACTS:  While there are a lot of diets, methods, opinions out there, and it's impossible to list them all and provide commentary on them one-by-one, I'll do my best to provide answers for the ones in the poll.

1) Tracking Nutrient Balance - Absolutely, this is effective.  Monitoring ratio of carbohydrates, fat, and protein is very helpful in determining if your diet is out of balance.  A good ratio to follow is a 40%-30%-30% ratio of carbs-fat-protein.  Remember, this is still useless if you're eating bad fat and bad carbs, the nutrients are a non-factor in that case, rendering the entire method useless.  If you're an iPod or iPhone user, or have frequent access to a computer (of course you do, how else would you be reading this blog?), there's an application called "Lose It" (web address: which allows you to log all the food you eat and it automatically tracks nutrient summaries for you.

2) Counting Calories - While it's good to be aware of approximately how many calories you're consuming in a day to avoid overshooting or not reaching your daily requirements, the simple number of calories you eat in a day will not alone be able to tell you how healthy you're eating.  Why?  To quote Dr. Mark Hyman, "not all calories are created equal."  In other words, since a calorie is a measurement of energy in food, it does not provide you with all the information to determine whether or not it is a calorie packed with healthy nutrients or whether it's a sugar calorie which will be absorbed directly into your blood stream.  Is eating 2000 calories of candy equivalent to eating 2000 calories of lean chicken meat or vegetables?  Obviously not.  This is the inherent problem with using calorie counting as your only source of checks and balances.  

3) Eliminating fat (from your diet) to lose body fat) - Not helpful.  Why?  You could say "not all fat is created equal."  There is good fat and bad fat, and if you eliminate the good fat from your diet, you'll be missing out on some essential metabolism-boosting nutrients your body desperately needs.  Where should your fat come from?  Nuts, flax seed, healthy oils such as almond, olive and coconut, even a little occasional dark chocolate.  What should you avoid?  Trans fats (essentially, processed fats), hydrogenated oils, butter, basically anything you find in processed food, pastries, and junk food.

4) Monitoring Food Ingredients - Yes!  Learn to read food labels!  It will be a great change in the way you shop for food, as you'll become aware of just how much goes into what you see in the grocery store.  You'll be appalled at most...even a seemingly harmless box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will have you scrambling for the fresh produce section, if you care about what goes into your body!  In general, look for products with the least amount of ingredients on the label, but be sure to check those as well.  The quality of your life depends on what you put into it, and that all starts with the food you decide to stock at home.

NEW POLL:  This week, I'm going to have an actual poll, as opposed to a "quiz," which is what I've really been posting until this point!  This week's topic: What is the biggest area of difficulty in your personal health life?  Which of the following is the hardest obstacle for you, preventing you from being healthier or losing weight?  I'll do a post this weekend based on the results from the quiz this week, to try to help you all out any way I can!

As always, thanks for reading!

- Dan -

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pittsburgh Skyline On A Cold February Night

This, admittedly, has nothing to do with weight loss, other than we were taking our UltraMetabolism-suggested after dinner walk to this location, but Laurelin and I took a photography excursion tonight, and this was our best effort...hope you enjoy!

Weekly Progress Update: January 28-February 4

THE STATS: 6’6” (78 inches), 278.0 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 32.1, Current month’s weight loss (February 2011): 1.6 lbs, 2011 weight loss: 11.6 lbs, total weight loss: 105.8 lbs.

WEEKLY WEIGHT LOSS  from January 28-February 4: 1.6 lbs

The first week of February has been a good one!  I feel like I'm really gaining positive momentum both with my food intake and with my exercise routine.  I'm consistently dropping several ounces per day, often up to a half-pound, and I'm getting back into familiar territory, where I can almost predict where my weight will be from day to day.

The last time I was on this type of roll was in the summer of 2009, when for 10-12 weeks, I could predict that I would drop a pound per day for three days in a row, hold steady for two days, increase in weight a half or a whole pound, then drop several pounds the next day.  This kind of routine and predictability is what I thrive on, and it's nice to be back in that position!  

I've been eating well, the only exception in the past week was a frozen yogurt outing with Laurelin where I'm guessing I consumed probably 300 calories of non-fat yogurt, which isn't terrible, but an exception nonetheless, and I won't do that again for a while.  I was able to get to the gym 4-5 times in the past week, the past two of which I spent over an hour on the exercise bike, along with a little weight work.

Here's a little something I've found to be helpful in starting out my day the right way: they say "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper," meaning eat your biggest meal at breakfast, second-largest at lunch, and your lightest meal at dinner.  Well, it's true.  At least it has been for me, and I think it's worth a try for anyone who hasn't given it a shot.  It helps me avoid massive food cravings, as a feel satisfied throughout the day, especially with my small mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.  Eating my lightest meal at night, usually a nice, big yet veggie-heavy salad, helps me avoid carrying too much food waste in my body overnight, without getting too graphic and into the TMI danger-zone!

- Dan -

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Recipe Wednesday: Fresh Southwest Salad

THE STATS: 6’6” (72 inches), 278.4 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 32.2, Current month’s weight loss (February 2011): 1.2 lbs, 2011 weight loss: 11.2 lbs, total weight loss: 105.4 lbs.

Responding to requests from my readers, I'm going to serve up the inaugural Recipe Wednesday post: my evening meal staple, a home-concoction that Laurelin and I have discovered which I'll call the Fresh Southwest Salad.  This is a great quick one to pack up and take with you to school or work, and I'll get into some tips for that at the end of the post.  And I promise, it'll satisfy and fill you up!


(Recipe serves one)

1 large handful of fresh lettuce (I prefer romaine) or fresh leaf spinach
1/2 cup cooked black beans*
1/2 cup thawed frozen corn
1 large Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded deli turkey breast
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon flaxseed

Dijon-Balsamic Dressing: equal parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar and Dijon Mustard

Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a large salad bowl, and if you're taking it with you on the go, pack it into a large tupperware.  You can make several servings of the dressing at once for convenience, pack as much as you'll be putting on your salad in a small container to take with you, and refrigerate the rest.  Adding the dressing just before you eat the salad instead of while mixing the rest of the ingredients helps keep the salad from getting soggy.

* - We use dry black beans which we soak overnight and cook in bulk.  Try to avoid using canned black beans, as there is added sodium in the "juice" from the can.  If you have no choice but to use canned beans, make sure you drain the beans completely, and rinse them to remove as much excess salt as possible.

That's it!  Max prep time: 10 mins.  It's an incredible, fresh-tasting mix of ingredients, and I'm sure you'll enjoy!

As always, questions, comments, and advice are welcomed!

- Dan -

EDIT: Thanks to reader Matt-O for suggesting something I forgot to include...salsa is a great alternative to the Dijon-Balsamic dressing if you're looking for a more Mexican flavor!  Try it once with the Dijon dressing, however, you'll love it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why So Salty?

ABC News reported today that the U.S. Agriculture and Human Health Services departments have come out with a new stance on how much salt intake is safe daily (

It's about time!  In our incredibly under-and-misinformed society, the government needs to help educate the population on food dangers and where these dangers hang out...

It's no surprise that the United States' life expectancy rate is ranked 28th in the world, despite the incredible advantages we have as far as resources are concerned.  The average American consumes over 5000 milligrams of sodium per day, more than TWICE the recommended daily amount, which itself is in question!  Where is this salt coming from, you might ask?

Easy.  As a population, we are obsessed with several dangerous habits.  1)  Eating away from home, in restaurants and fast food businesses, where essentially, as far as nutrition is concerned, all bets are off.  The ingredients used in their seemingly simple, and undeniably "fast" food are absolutely the photo caption link below to enlarge....if you dare!  The ingredients for TACO MEAT, of all things which seem simple enough, could be used as a filibuster in a session of Congress!  And here's the are all these ingredients preserved, refrigerated or frozen for quick reheating and serving?  SALT!

Exhibit A: Taco Bell's packaged pre-prepared taco meat.  Should be simple enough, right?  Think again...

2)  We are a culture obsessed with ease and convenience, hence, what food does much of the population choose to buy at the grocery store to make at home, when they're not dining on preservative and chemical-heavy at McDonalds and Applebee's?  Pre-packaged food at home!  Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, DiGiorno's frozen pizzas, hot dogs, and for snacks, chips, soda and cookies...if they're feeling really fancy, maybe a frozen dinner from Bertoli...  These foods are absolutely loaded with unhealthy preservatives and chemicals, not to mention how little nutritional value any of this actually has!  

And this is what we're eating.  It's not nutrition, it's attrition.  

That's why America is getting unhealthier by the cheese puff, and that's why it's time for the USDA to come down on "food" companies and restaurants who make a profit by selling the public what is essentially poison---food that will eventually kill us.  But for now, we need to take matters into our own hands.

- Dan -

Poll Results and First Weekly Monday Poll

Okay, well, the first poll I posted was just a warm-up. For the record, you all killed it, 85% of you chose brown rice, which is absolutely correct.  Why?

The FACTS:  It's really quite simple.  While there are plenty of healthy types of grain to eat, eating a grain in its whole form (unprocessed in any manner) is the most natural and health-safe way to take advantage of healthy proteins and carbohydrates in grain.  Wheat, oats, barley and rye, among others, contain a protein called gluten, to which a portion of the population is allergic, causing unhealthy inflammation in the body, and consequently, resistance to weight loss.  You can read a lot more on this subject in UltraMetabolism, where you can get a more in-depth explanation.  The majority of the carbohydrates in products containing gluten, come from gluten itself.

Brown rice, a fiber-rich, gluten-free whole grain
The bottom line is, all the foods in the poll besides brown rice will contain gluten, which is not an essential nutritional element when determining which kinds of carbs to eat and which to avoid.  The majority of the carbohydrates in brown rice, however, come from healthy fiber, making it the best option on that list based on the nutritional content and the fact that it's a whole grain.  The caloric differences between the options are negligible, and the quality of the calories in brown rice wins out.

If you disagree with my answer, please leave a comment!  I'd love to discuss, and maybe I'll learn something!

NEW POLL:  I'm going to post the weekly poll on Mondays from this point on, get your votes in!

- Dan -

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog Improvements and Expansion

Hello all!  Thanks for reading, your comments and readership participation keep me going…I’m very glad to be able to share all of this with you, and especially since I feel this information is all relevant to improving quality of life and health for everyone, not just those struggling with weight issues specifically, as I have. 

Blog update: I’m working on developing the site a bit, adding a menu bar which links to some additional pages I’m going to be adding over the next few weeks as I have time.  I’ve already completed the “Links” page where I’ll post links I find important or relevant for one reason or another.

Track My Progress: I’m going to keep posting my “stats” at the beginning of each blog post, but I’ll also be posting a weekly update on my newly completed “Track My Progress” page.  This is interesting for me to be able to look back at where I’ve been along this long journey, and I hope it will be for you as well!  I’m not going to pretend this is a process which will be 100% successful and forward-moving all the time, like any other permanent change, it has its ups and downs, and it’s important to keep a record of both the triumphs and the speed bumps!

- Dan -

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Getting Started

THE STATS: 6’6” (72 inches), 279.6 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 32.3, Current month’s weight loss (January 2011): 10.2 lbs.

Introductory note: Whenever I use the word “diet” it is meant to be understood in the “food that you intake” sense, not to be confused with crash dieting or deprivation methods; my concept is one of balance, not elimination of any essential food elements.

The first step in “fixing” your diet, that is, eliminating any food that is not helpful to your body’s nutritional agenda, is a very simple one: get rid of everything you won’t be eating.  When we got home from our Christmas vacation a few weeks ago, we loaded up trash bags with food items we wouldn’t be using, simply because of the added sugars and hydrogenated (manufactured) oils.  We threw out mayonnaise, virtually every sauce we had around, coffee creamer, anything which had non-whole ingredients, that is, any product that didn’t come straight from a whole food product. 

Next, stock up on foods that will fill you up, and at the same time provide you with proper nutritional elements.  For us, the new food, as I mentioned last post, was beans.  If you buy dried beans, soak them overnight and cook them up.  Beans are incredibly high in fiber, which makes in a great detox food, it cleans out your system naturally, while providing the carbohydrates your body actually needs, as opposed to empty carbs you’ll find in white bread, potatoes and sugar.  You can also experiment with other whole grains, like quinoa, a new favorite of ours, which cooks similar to rice.  Frozen vegetables are quick and cheap, and we have a freezer-full. 

Some fresh vegetables which are cheap to buy in bulk and have around to add to just about anything: tomatoes (we buy Roma, they’re usually one of the cheaper varieties, and have a great fresh flavor), green pepper, cilantro, onions.  Frozen vegetables: broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas, carrots and corn.

I can’t sufficiently emphasize how helpful this next bit is: cook meal elements up ahead of time.  We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and it’s pretty incredible, in terms of how easy it is to put together a healthy meal in minutes.  Storing containers of cooked beans, cooked and seasoned ground turkey and cooked brown rice in our refrigerator gives us lean protein and healthy carbs all set to go as a base for most of the meals we eat.  Throw a little of each in a bowl with some cooked vegetables and seasonings of your choice, or a few tablespoons of salsa, and you have a healthy, whole meal at your disposal with just a few minutes in the microwave.


This would suffice for a 5-day week’s worth of meals:

1 bag (uncooked) Garbanzo Beans
1 bag Black-Eyed Peas
5 cups Brown Rice
3 lbs. 93% lean Ground Turkey

The full amounts can be cooked at the same time and stored.
So, this week’s poll must have been way too easy, because you all seem to have a consensus!  I won’t go so easy on you all next week…be warned!

Next post: Some basic principles which make too much of the food our culture throws at us so dangerous.

Thanks for reading!  As always, please feel free to post questions in the comments section, I WILL answer them!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

With apologies to continuity….

Today's weight:  280.6 lbs. 103.2 lbs lost, 40.6 to go!

Well, it’s somewhat embarrassing to visit the blog today, and realize that my last post was 10 months ago!  I hope I can be excused, however, as I had some pretty significant things happen in that time.  For one, I got married!  A wonderful event, so much fun and so memorable, but incredibly time-consuming!  It’s the type of thing you only want to do once in your lif
May 28, 2010e, for various reasons, but I suppose probably the least of which is how much time it takes.  Married life is great, and it’s a wonderful advantage to be living with someone who is as health-conscious as I am—it just makes things that much easier, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.  I can only imagine what life would be like if I were married to a junk food addict!  It’s hard enough to stay away from that stuff as it is!

It’s time to come clean, however.  As I look back to my last post, I see I had weighed in at 269, under 30 lbs away from my goal.  I was flying high, and it was hard to see what could get in my way.  Well, life got in the way, as it so easily can.  The amount of great food in the time surrounding our wedding was pretty astounding, and for a once-in-a-lifetime event life that, I felt like taking part in everything.  Then there was the honeymoon.  We were in Panama City Beach, FL, where there was a lot of lying on the beach and good eating!  Every meal was in a restaurant, and I can’t remember not finishing a plate the whole time we were there.  I’m not ashamed to say I’m a food lover, but I am ashamed to admit, as I have in previous posts, that I have a weakness in the area of controlling myself with a lot of good food surrounding me. 

To me, that was the beginning.  The indulgence, while I don’t regret it, as we were on a wonderful trip of which good food was a part, broke down the momentum I had been building for the previous 10 months, in which I had lost 90 lbs, and had kicked my metabolism into high gear.  We worked once again in upstate New York, where we were provided each meal.  While my weight stayed down, hovering around 270, a back injury I suffered limited my mobility, and I could feel that while my weight was staying steady, my body composition was changing, and my metabolism had slowed.  It’s quite amazing, actually, how incredibly different your body feels when it’s functioning correctly as opposed to when it’s just surviving whatever you choose to do with it. 

Returning to Pittsburgh in the fall, my motivation was pretty much gone, as my body just didn’t feel like going through the effort of getting back into gear.  I cruised through the fall, gaining anywhere from 5-10 lbs by the time the holidays came, weighing in near 280 by the time we left to spend two weeks in Nebraska.  A bad time to be on the upswing with your weight is heading into a holiday, because you know you’re going to come out a little heavier anyway.  Well, heavier I was indeed when we returned to Pittsburgh.  I weighed almost 290 by the time we got back on January 5, just three weeks ago. 

Laurelin and I listened to the UltraMetabolism book on CD during our two-day drive home, and picked up some much-needed inspiration.  In the past three weeks, we’ve gotten rid of all sugars and unhealthy fats from our cupboards, and added a few things to our pantry.  We’ve started eating a ton of beans, of all sorts: garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, red beans, kidney beans…beans have an incredible amount of healthy fiber, and replacing some of your everyday gluten-heavy carbs such as pasta and bread, even of the whole wheat varieties!  Beans are very filling, too, and have been a great addition to our diet!

We’re now working our way through Phase 1 of the UltraMetabolism program.  After our detox period (eliminating bad fats and sugar of ALL kinds), the Phase 1 eliminates gluten (including pasta, bread, anything with wheat or gluten), eggs and all dairy, among other elements.  It’s a big adjustment, as I love to make eggs with just about every breakfast, but I have had one savior thus far…salsa.  It’s the one food I would consider an “indulgence” which is allowed in Phase 1, and I’ve been using it pretty much for breakfast, lunch and dinner with rice, beans, meat and vegetables. 

Here’s my current typical day of eating under Phase 1, so the reader can get an idea of what this looks like:

Breakfast: A serving of brown rice with some beans, maybe a little lean ground turkey, and salsa.  Laurelin has a sweet variation which is brown rice, flax seed, soy milk and cinnamon, which I have yet to warm up to, but I may yet.

Lunch: We try to eat our heavier meals at lunchtime, so lunch is brown rice, beans of some variety, ground turkey, and several servings of vegetables.  I’ve started trying different spice combinations with my vegetables, and I’ve found that mixing curry powder, garlic and chili powder works as a nice variation on your typical vegetable dish!

Dinner: We’ve been buying large bags of Romaine lettuce to speed up our salad preparation, as that is our typical evening meal.  Mine is a large salad, with a little ground turkey or shredded deli turkey, garbanzo beans, flax seed, corn, chopped Roma tomatoes and cilantro.  For a dressing, either we use salsa or a homemade recipe I really like, which is two parts olive oil, one part Balsamic vinegar and one part Dijon mustard, with whatever spices you feel like adding to the mix!

That’s it for now, please keep reading!

Next post: Tips on getting started…the great thing about eating healthy is that you can start at any time, all you need is determination!