Healthy and Sane

I feel so free

July 22nd, 2010 · 33 Comments · breakfast, salad, sandwich

I’m done with my work, I’m done with my work, I’m done with my work!!!!! It was a long day on Wednesday (I just really wanted to crank through it) and I was done with my projects by 3pm today (Thursday). My deadline was actually Friday but I really wanted to finish it the day before, even if it meant staying in all night. I didn’t need to, though. I kicked butt and I am just beyond excited. I can enjoy Friday and then the weekend in Maine we’ve planned for for weeks (I had to cancel it last weekend but we are SO going this weekend. 😉 ). This feeling is amazing. The best part is that I not only delivered it but that it was very well received. I love feeling smart. haha 😎

Ok, so let’s start this post again by saying that I really missed you guys. Did you miss me? Thank you for sticking around with me these past few weeks (I loved reading every comment – reminded me I have a life outside of work too!). It was rough (if you couldn’t tell already) but yeah, it’s all good now. Insert happy dance here. Is there a special smiley face for that? I think the world needs one. :)

All right, silliness aside, I do have a serious question for you. But first…


2 ww waffles with Barney Butter, 2% greek yogurt and fresh blueberries


I went to the kitchen to grab some cottage cheese and dates and ran across some amazingly delicious looking brownies. So I had a brownie instead. No picture. That’s my dessert for the day :)


Iggy’s tomato mozzarella baguette sandwich. This is a reused photo (I originally was planning on having lunch at home but wanted to crank through work so I grabbed lunch out around 3pm. Yeah, you bet I stuffed it in my mouth as fast as humanly possible. oy)


Late (and big) lunch = full stomach for a long time. Also = no workout and dinner almost in the dark. I kept it light…

Mixed greens, 1/4 avocado, chickpeas, rosemary almonds, shredded carrots, goat cheese and a lemon vinaigrette (dressing recipe is from The Best Light Recipe cookbook)

This salad was actually quite fantastic. Soon after I wanted something else though – enter Siggi’s orange & ginger yogurt. Can you see how thick it is?

This was my first time trying this flavor and I am a giant fan. Basically up until now vanilla was my go-to and this awesomely unique flavor is giving it a run for its money. It was decisively orangy with real ginger flakes inside. Tart, a little spicy. Delicious. Try it! 😀

So here is the serious question for you. I read The New Rules of Lifting for Women upon some of your recommendations. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d learn much and I certainly did not want to start another diet. But after hearing about it several times I added it to my library queue and it came up this week. Surprisingly, I was really into it from the very first page. I LOVE lifting and haven’t done enough of it in a long time. Sure I do some lifting at bootcamp (and thankfully I’m still pretty strong) but nothing too pro-longed and nothing that’s just pure lifting. I’d say I didn’t learn much after all, but the idea of concentrating more on lifting again, really excites me. I keep thinking about starting to run again but end up canceling my workouts when they are on the schedule (something always comes up… or am I just subconsciously not into it?) but I am itching now to get to the gym to pump some iron. Workout A has my name on it. Here is my dilemma (3 dilemmas actually)…

1) I do not want to start another diet. I don’t want to count calories or protein grams. I am finally happy with trusting my body. Letting it choose (for the most part) what and how much fuel it needs (of course, don’t forget the treats!). Will this program work without their specific diet?

2) The book is VERY clear about eating a lot of protein. I would estimate it is 2 or even 2.5 times as much protein as I’ve been eating ever since incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet and letting meat take the back seat. I am very happy with trying to focus on more protein rich foods (see a protein packed siggi’s yogurt as an example for a snack) but I’m on the fence about protein powder. It actually sounds like fun. I can think of all these ways of incorporating it… into smoothies, pancakes, my own protein bars, muffins but is it “real food?” Again, I’ve come a long way from gimmicky diet foods and learned to balance my meals “the right way.” Is protein powder cheating?

3) The book recommends maximum 3 workouts a week. Is that really enough? My instinct is to supplement (the workout don’t seem that tough, maybe I’m being silly right now. I may speak differently once I actually do them). Should I or is my brain getting in the way? Over-training is something they warn about.

Dilemmas, dilemmas. Tell me, blog friends – what are your thoughts on the subject?

PS – as mentioned we are going away for the weekend – there is no cell or internet reception at my PIL’s house so you may not hear from me again until Monday (I may be able to do a quicky post before we leave tomorrow… no promises though. I will be back for real next week). Would LOVE to hear your thoughts. Oh, it’s so good to be back. I’m freeeeeeee. :)

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33 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Meghan@traveleatlove

    Yay for you! Don’t know about all of the weight lifting stuff. I don’t follow a plan, just do my own thing st the gym 2 or 3 days a week and have seen results over the summer. I love muscle tone and feeling strong. I probably don’t get enough protein though. I have a hard time finding sources other than shrimp and siggis that I like!

  • #2 - Kerstin

    Yay – congrats on being done!! I hope you have a fabulous getaway!

    I’m interested to see what others say about that book too. I love lifting but only have time to do a full body workout once a week with all this triathlon training.

  • #3 - Shannon

    ah, sounds like maine is a PERFECT way to end this work hectic-ness :)

    my guess is you get more protein than you think. although i don’t know what the routine is, but challenge yourself with the weights and i’m sure 3 days is appropriate.

    i’ve got more thoughts about protein powder, but i need to get to bed now, we can chat later :) have a great weekend!

  • #4 - Katie @ Health for the Whole Self

    YAY!!!!! Congrats on being finished!!!! We’ve definitely missed you around here!

    Unfortunately I don’t think I can answer your questions, but I’ll be interested to read the other comments because I’ve wondered similar things.

  • #5 - rachael

    I don’t know anything about that book, but I do agree with the previous comment that you probably get more protein than you think. I am always surprised by my protein intake when I do a 1 day dietary analysis.

    Have a wonderful weekend! I love Maine!

  • #6 - Elina

    Thanks for all that already weighed in. Just wanted to clarify something – when I counted calories I also counted protein grams (it was automatically calculated for me in sparkpeople) and I know I was usually around 70 grams. Granted I may be eating more calories these days but I need to eat at least double that (shooting for 150 actually) for this program so I will need to really step it up in that dept. I’m going to try to watch today and see where I land with “real food.”

    Kerstin – he author definitely would not recommend this program for anyone training for races. He says that indurance workouts train you to lose muscle while getting more effficient where his program is training your body to gain muscle so they contradict each other. Good luck with all the tri workouts! :)

  • #7 - Lauren

    Sounds like a HUGE weight has been lifted off of you shoulders… hallelujah!

    In terms of your question about protein, here are my two cents: I’m currently reading “Food Matters” by Mark Bittman and so much of what he writes resonates with me. First of all, he writes that vegetable protein is more beneficial to our bodies than animal protein. Bittman goes on to claim that most of us are eating too much protein overall! I’m sure that recommendations are going to vary widely according to who you ask, but I’m leaning closer towards a heavily plant-focused diet with moderate amounts of meat. (This is also Michael Pollan’s viewpoint).

    When it comes to protein powder, my opinion is simple but strong: it’s not for me. I’d rather eat that scrumptious Siggi’s yogurt or a spoonful of peanut butter with fruit than a powdery substance that neither looks like nor tastes like real food.

    That being said, I can’t tell you what is best for your diet and lifestyle, so I’ll just say research a bunch of different experts’ opinions on the matter and reach your own conclusion. Good luck!

    Have a wonderful time in Maine this weekend!

  • #8 - Lauren

    As a side note, Bittman mentions in his book that the USDA recommends we consume 1/3 of a gram of protein per pound of body weight. In other words, a 150 lb person “should” be eating 50 grams of protein a day.

    Just some food for thought!

  • #9 - Elina

    Lauren – that’s actually how I originally got comfortable with lower protein totals. So much research was saying that most of us eat enough of it (and I was – certainly based on figures you use) but you definitely need more if you are active and this is a program that focuses on gaining muscle, which is why the requirements are even higher. As to the protein “type” – to be honest I go back and forth about which kind is best (animal vs. soy vs. plant, like pea protein) but it sounds to me like most people that are omnivores highly recommend whey protein (it’s supposed to be easier absorbed) despite the fact that they can also consume any other type; while vegetarians (or vegans) provide a lot of reasons as to why plant based proteins are better for you. I feel like their view is already quite biased. Is Bittman a vegetarian? I think this could be a whole other post since I’m now writing a novel in the comments section …. :)

  • #10 - Shannon

    First, congratulations on getting through your projects! You work so hard, you deserve a completely relaxing weekend :)

    I wish I had good advise about lifting. I need to commit to a strength training routine. I have always been the cardio queen and have hated lifting. But I know how good it is for me and need to make the commitment. Maybe I should get that book. I keep reading about it.

    I use protein powder sometimes….usually in smoothies so it has more staying power.

  • #11 - Cara

    Hey Elina! I was ridiculously excited for you to see that book in the picture. whoo hoo!

    To answer your questions:
    1) I think the question “will it work” in regards to exercise always depends on what your goals are. Everyone is different. If you want to get totally ripped and into competition shape, then I think you need to follow a very specific diet. But for the more average among us, if you want to build some strength and see a little more definition, I don’t think you necessarily need to be so concerned with the numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said it many times that I’m one to track my intake very carefully. But lately I am making an effort to eat more intuitively, and I think I’m still getting plenty of protein because I’ve come to naturally gravitate towards higher-protein foods. I will be honest – from what I see in your diet, I think you eat enough calories, but you could focus on swapping out some carb-y choices for more protein, to get a little more success with this.

    2) I don’t think protein powder is cheating. I’m a big fan. I love coming up with new protein shakes, and I’ve finally discovered “the gums” and I’m loving my protein soft serve ice creams! I also add it to oatmeal quite a bit. This morning was 1/3 cup oats with 3oz cottage cheese and partial scoop of cookies & cream protein powder, for example. I know there are some brands that do not contain artificial sweeteners, so if that’s important to you, you can seek that out.

    3) I’ve stick to 3 lifting workouts per week, yes. But I’ve always added cardio workouts, it’s just my nature and I can’t give that up completely. But you’ll figure out what works for your body. I try not to do anything too long at a steady state – so for example if I do 50-60 minutes on the arc trainer, the first 25-30 is HIIT. The most steady state work I do now is a 5 mile run on most weekends.

    If you have any more questions, feel free to shoot me an email!

  • #12 - Cara

    And pp’s are right that the recommended protein intake for the average person is much lower than this book recommends, thoguh as you stated, the author gives clear evidence as to why someone trying to build muscle needs MORE protein.

    Back to that recommended protein intake for most people. There’s really not much evidence that having more protein is a bad thing, and I’ve learned that my body is much more satisfied on a higher protein diet vs. one higher in carbs. So that’s another reason I make the effort to eat more.

    On second thought, maybe it would be worth your while to track just for a few days, just to get an idea of how much protein you’re eating and to get a sense for which foods give you the most bang for your buck. For example, if you wanted to get equal grams of protein from peanut butter instead of protein powder, you’d need to consume 3 servings, or almost 600 calories’ worth!

  • #13 - Mellissa

    NROL works. It is so important to lift and have a good program! You don’t need to follow the diet but I do recommend upping your protein intake when doing heavy lifting.

    And heavy is the key to the program, challenge yourself to work hard and increase the amount you lift.

  • #14 - Rae

    I love that you brought up this questions. I’m a registered dietitian and Certified Sports Science Dietitian – and in all honesty, I never recommend eating more than 1.8g of protein per kg of body weight, and that’s the max!

    For someone like yourself, who is a healthy eater and just wants to get into more weight lifting (not muscle competitions or football!), then I would recommend for you to aim for about 1.2g of protien per kilogram – which should be not too much more than what you’re eating right now.

    A simpler way of doing this, as I know ‘counting’ can be a pain and unnecessary (espcially if you’re finally trusting your body to be healthy!), then just try to add about 3 more ounces of a lean protein everyday above what you eat now. 3 oz of chicken is about the size of your palm (no fingers included!). This should be definitely enough to help you get into lifting again.

    But it’s not just protein that’s important, carbohydrates are also a key to increasing lean body mass and tone. If you simply increase protein, it will be used partially for energy and not muscles. But if you make sure you fuel your workouts well, then you’ll be using the carbs for energy and protein to support your muscles.

    So here’s what you should do: Have a simply carobohydrate before working out, something will very little fat because this will slow down how long it takes to leave the stomach. You don’t want to work out with a rock in there, right?! Examples of this are: granola bars (like Nature Valley Crunchy), 1 oz pretzles, slice of toast with jelly, etc.

    After you work out you should have a snack as well to help ‘refuel’. The perfect thing to have within 3o minutes of working out is low fat chocolate milk. It has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein (4:1) that helps your body recover.

    Good luck!
    Rae MS, RD, LDN, CSSD

  • #15 - Annie

    I think if you are going to start an intensive lifting regimen, then you should up your protein. My dad lifts a lot and doesn’t eat much meat. His protein mostly came from PB & J and cottage cheese. My brother finally talked him into using protein powder. My dad noticed a difference.
    Your protein source is up to you.

  • #16 - sister inna

    hey congrats on being so smart 😀 we all knew you could do it!!!
    i’ve never heard of this book, reading the comments here is pretty interesting. i’m intrigued 😉

    also… ginger in yogurt? sooo not my cup of tea. the only place i will take ginger is with my sushi thankyouverymuch

    have FUN in maine!!!! eat lots of yummy things :)

  • #17 - Hilary @ Purelicious

    Wow, I have had some of the EXACT same questions lately! I also just recently read the New Rules book, and so I have been trying to increase my protein lately, but as I am mostly meat and dairy free, it has been tricky! I have been using a LOT of Sun Warrior, and incorporating it into almost everything – in the milk in my cereal, mixed into coconut yogurt, in smoothies, in pancakes, in cookies, in french toast, you name it! But I also feel like this is “cheating”… I’m not sure if it’s really the same as getting protein from animals/dairy/legumes. I will be following these comments closesly to see what others think! So glad you posted this Q!

  • #18 - Tiffany

    I don’t really know anything about protein powders other than the information I got from Kyle back in college when he and Adam used to go to the gym and drink the stuff like crazy. Protein powders have never really been my thing, so sorry in that regards.

    However, you are one smart cookie! Awesome job on kicking your project’s butt!! You should feel proud of yourself, because working ’round the clock like that is a tough task. Good for you! :)

  • #19 - Beth @ DiningAndDishing

    I think it’s great to read different health and fittness materials and take away different tips and ideas from them. However, I hate the idea of “rules”. I think they always backfire! I would maybe take some things from the book but like you said, listening to and trusting your body is always best!

  • #20 - Kelly

    I think Rae’s comment was really helpful and she sounds like she has the qualifications so I would trust her. :-) My feeling about everything is it doesn’t matter if something works if it’s not something you can or want to commit to.

    You could always try counting protein grams for a couple of days to get a rough idea of where you would need to be to get at what you want. But view it more as an FYI, vs. a new regime.

    It’s funny because I go back and forth with how strict I want to be. I’m definitely 10 pounds heavier than I would like to be and some of my clothes are tight. However, I’m not sure I want to live like I did when I was at my lowest weight. And weirdly people still think I look great… Hmmm, dilemmas dilemmas.

  • #21 - Laura

    I can’t answer your questions really as i’m not expert..i just think if you are having doubts at may not be worth it and may not be the best thing for you! Plenty of amazing advice already given:)

    I just wanted to say your lunch looks amazing;)…reused photo, or no reused photo! x

  • #22 - sassy molassy

    Elina, I’m not sure what book you’re reading first off, but a few thoughts on your dilemmas…

    Protein powder can be a good supplement, but not something we should rely on. Also, do some research to find the one that seems right for you (rice, whey, soy, etc). I do agree it is TOUGH to find ways to up the protein. A few ideas: greek yogurt, add nuts/pb to cereal and smoothies, Snack on cheese, tofu/tempeh grilled can be great on salads or rice dishes.

    3 days a week doesn’t seem enough to me. It could be that they are pointing this workout to the less physically active, I’m not sure. Perhaps 3 intense workouts a week and 2 easier ones would work better for you.

    Good luck!

  • #23 - Lara (Thinspired)

    I can feel your relief through this post :)

    Question: what brand of ww waffles do you buy? Or are those homemade? I can’t seem to find a 100% wholegrain kind of frozen waffles.

    Oh, I don’t know what advice I can give on this subject. My inclination is to say, stick with your current “diet,” (i.e. intuitive eating that you worked so hard to master) and just incorporate basic principles from the book. That’s just my two cents though!

  • #24 - Elina

    Lara – these are by our local grocery store’s brand. I prefer to make my own but shortcuts had to be taken this week :)

  • #25 - D

    hi! congrats on work, i bet your weekend will be THAT much more relaxing and appreciated now!

    i dont follow a specific weight training program, but i have been trying to increase my strength training, tone up with lean muscle, and increase protein…and i follow an almost-vegan diet (no meat, dairy or eggs, but VERY occasionally some seafood). i felt EXACTLY like you about the protein thing…is it necessary? what type is best? how much? etc. my solution has been to just consciously add a little in to each meal, where i might not have otherwise, and then replace part of a meal with a protein. the key for me is to not reduce calories at all, but to increase the percentage of protein. also, i try not to worry about the best type, or how much.

    for example,

    for breakfast, instead of a waffle sandwich (vegan) with banana and pb, i will slice some tofu and put it in with the pb instead. or, i will add some brown rice protein (its a compromise – i use a protein powder but try to stay as natural as possible) powder to my oatmeal, or maybe have some nuts and a soy latte for breakfast one morning instead of fruit. they are really small changes, but i find that every small decision i have made to increase protein has really helped. for lunch, i might have beans and green veggies instead of a ton of roasted vegetables (which tend to be more carb-y), and then instead of fruit for a snack, ill eat a serving of tofu or edamame with some tomatoes. after dinner i might have a cup of soymilk rather than fruit, or something like that.

    i think the key is recognising that you might never eat the huge amount of protein that weight lifting competitors do, but as long as you make changes to YOUR current diet, you will see results. i have been doing this for a month, and i DEFINITELY see results. i think it also encourages me to switch up meals and actually have more “meal” type food (like edamame and veggies for the equivalent calories as a luna bar) which is great.

    sorry, i didnt mean to write so much, but i definitely know how you feel about being conflicted about a “plan”. good luck, i hope you update about your decision and thoughts!

  • #26 - Diana @ frontyardfoodie

    When I have my baby I plan on incorporating a lot of weights into my work out (with running) because only just before getting pregnant did I really discover how much I love weights! Then I had to stop because of my back and pregnancy.

    I feel the protein powder isn’t really real and even though I have recently tried it again because my doctor said I wasn’t getting enough protein to grow a baby. I stopped though and focused on centering my meals around protein. I struggle a bit with that since I don’t eat meat or soy products. It’s been working well though using dairy, beans, rice and greens.

  • #27 -

    of course we missed you!!

    you have ur head on straight girl. i love how u challenge the diet beliefs and ask urself “is this real food?” thats so important, and following that mentality will help you create an even better relationship with food, health, body and mind <3


  • #28 - RunToTheFinish

    a lot of people believe you need high amounts of protein for muscle building, but we’ve also seen that isn’t true. continue eating as you are and just enjoy the lifting, you will lean out and build muscle

  • #29 - Jen

    Congrats and I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

    I am on the fence about protein powder as well, but I do use it. I make sure that I use organic, raw protein – normally, I just use hemp protein powder or ground hemp seeds because they are the same thing! And, they give you tons of protein. I like smoothies with hemp protein after a workout to make my body absorb protein quickly, then you can make sure you eat real food protein the rest of the day. Although, in my opinion hemp seeds are real food!

  • #30 - Elina

    Thank you all for your comments. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do – we’ll see in time :)

  • #31 - Alice

    Girlfriend – just try it! Try two weeks of the lifting program. You might find that it’ll break through a plateau for you.

    As for the protein – yup, I’ve found it hard to eat more protein. Protein powder is definitely an easy way to do it. Just go for the natural whey protein powder (someone might have already said this, sorry if so).

    But honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about not hitting that 150g. You may find that the workouts and just a small increase of protein will give you the benefits you want anyway.

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