Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Peek Inside My "Toolbox"

I love tools.  I salivate at the mere mention of Harbor Freight, can spend hours wandering home improvement stores, and am pretty sure my Fein Multimaster would be one of the first things I'd rescue in a house fire.  I love tools because the right tools can get the job done faster and more efficiently, and can help produce optimal results with minimized stress.  And like any project, this one is no different; it requires the proper tools to help it get done, and the right tools make it easier. So I thought I would offer some of the tools that I've been using to keep me on track.  Obviously having had 85% of my stomach removed is a pretty reasonable incentive to behave, but that's only one tool.

I'm usually pretty motivated by financial incentives AND I can be a little competitive by nature.  Now, I'm not the type of competitive where I mow people down and feel an incessant need to be the very best at everything.  But contests where I compete ultimately against myself, particularly when my money (of which I don't have much most of the time) is involved and I stand a chance to make a little cash - that's more my speed.

So the first thing I did was join a Dietbet last month.  Dietbet is a contest where you pay in a determined amount of money (the one I joined was $25) to lose a certain amount of weight (4%) and at the end of the month if you've succeeded, you get a share of the pooled money with the rest of the winners (or losers, as it were).  In June there were over 1000 people who participated, bringing the pot to more than $25,000.  I ended up winning $43.60.  I rolled $25 back into the next month's bet and came away with $18.60 I didn't have before.  All for doing what I'm supposed to do.  Not bad!

Another incentive tool I use is an app called Gympact.  You pledge to work out a certain number of times per week and attach a monetary value to your workouts.  Gympact uses location services on your phone for check-ins to verify your workouts. At the end of the week if you have missed any workouts, Gympact takes the money from you and then distributes it to the folks who met their pledges.  I have pledged to work out three times a week with a $10 value on each workout.  I've been Gympacting for 2 weeks, and both weeks I met my pledge.  The first week I earned $1.65.  Last week I earned $1.35.  That's an extra $3.00 for just doing what I do.

Granted I'll never get rich doing DietBets and Gympact, but if I can stay on track and meet my fitness and nutrition goals AND earn a couple extra bucks in the process - I don't see the harm in that!!

Some of my other tools include 1/2 cup plastic containers, pre-fab protein drinks, an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack,  Balance Bars, and Isopure Plus clear protein drink.  The plastic containers are great for portioning out just about anything from snacks to meals to protein powder.  I have a few Rubbermaid ones which are a really convenient and compact square shape, but Glad also makes some disposable ones which are great for taking to work and on the road.  I'm famous for forgetting to take my containers home with me, so if I leave one behind it's not the end of the world.  I will often make a dish and then portion it into these small containers and freeze them.

My freezer is full of these things!

I have a few different favorites when it comes to protein shakes.  Obviously when I'm at home or at work where I have access to a blender, I make my own.  But if I'm traveling or just out and about, a pre-fab shake can save the day.  I like Muscle Milk because it doesn't need initial refrigeration.  Not that I would drink it at room temperature, but it's an added bonus to not have to worry about keeping it in the fridge all the time.  You can also find it in the cooler at just about any convenience store on the road, so if you don't have a way to keep it cold you can just stop off at an A-Plus or 7-Eleven and pick one up for about $3.50.  But if you have one of my other tools - an insulated lunch bag - then you can buy it a little cheaper at the grocery store or mass merchandiser and tote it along with you.

I've also recently discovered Shamrock Farms' Rockin' Refuel, which does require refrigeration because it contains milk, but has more protein in it than Muscle Milk and is a little less expensive (my local supermarket sells it for $1.99).  It's also 12 ounces, which is easier to get through than the 14 ounces in Muscle Milk.  Yes, two ounces really do make a difference when that's half of what your stomach can hold!

The downside to this stuff is that it only comes in one flavor.  But maybe after it's been out awhile they'll branch out.  :-)

And finally, Balance Bars.  Really, any protein bar will apply here, and I do buy many different varieties, but I happen to really like Balance yogurt honey peanut flavor the best.  I also happened to stumble upon a stellar deal in a store that was discontinuing them, so I have a plentiful supply to plow through before they all expire in August.  Ha.
I'm guessing by the end of my third box I'll probably be really frickin' tired of these things. But they ARE delicious.

I can only eat half of one before I'm full, but I always have at least one whole bar with me at all times.  I keep the half-eaten one in a plastic bag to avoid contamination by purse flotsam.  In hot weather, it's best to keep these in your insulated bag, though, because I found out the hard way what a melted protein bar looks like.  It's not pretty.  And it's inedible.  The whole point of having bars with you is to be able to eat them!  I find it's really helpful to have one on hand just to take a bite of to take the edge off.  Sometimes I'm hungry but I don't have time or opportunity to sit down and do the whole meal ritual.  So I eat a bite or two of the bar, I feel better, and I have taken in a few more grams of protein.  And now that I'm supposed to take in at least 80 grams a day, I have to get it wherever and whenever I can.

I also like Oh Yeah! bars because they taste more like candy bars than meal replacements.  Met-Rx also makes a protein brownie that is pretty tasty, but contains way more sugar in the form of sugar alcohol than I'd prefer to consume.  But it's not bad for an occasional treat, especially if I'm running low on my protein quota for the day.  And it satisfies my sweet tooth.

And finally, Isopure Plus protein water.  I like the Alpine Punch flavor.  The Grape Frost is disgusting.  A friend once described it as "sandy, grape-flavored vomit," and she wasn't far off the mark.  Nasty.  But the punch isn't bad - especially if you throw it on ice and sip it throughout the day.  The awesome thing about this stuff is that it not only provides 15 grams of protein, but it also counts as eight ounces of fluid, so I'm killing two birds with this stone.  I'm hydrating AND taking in protein.  I just wish I could get it more easily.  It's available online, but the shipping charges are outrageous because it's liquid.  So I go out to Synergy every week or so and buy whatever they have in stock.  I may start asking them to order more!

So there you have it.  My favorite tools, the stuff that helps me stay on track and get closer to my goal every day.  I know a lot of people have asked me what I use to help me, and I'm always happy to answer questions. Even if you're not a WLS patient, any of this stuff can help you with your health and fitness program.

Now I wonder if I could get any of these companies to get me an endorsement deal.  Hmm...

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