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Learning Healthy Snacking Habits

This unofficially goes with my series, if you will, on “How to Lose Weight While Obese and In Pain“. While I haven’t yet started writing about my “diet”, I have started to change the way I eat. This actually started a bit before I even  joined a gym.

I started working at my current job a little over a year ago. One thing about this place, they always have food. Once a week someone brings in goodies for the whole office, which usually consists of bagels or donuts from a nearby bakery. Occasionally someone gets either creative or lazy and stockpiles cookies, muffins, or other goodies from a grocery store. Once in a blue moon, someone brings fruit. (It’s usually the last thing to be eaten.)

Even on other days, people will bring bags of chips, $5 containers of some 50 or so cookies, candies, anything that they feel like bringing. Sometimes it’s someone being generous, other times it’s to share something that others haven’t likely tried, other times it’s…because it’s been sitting around their house too long. *Cringe*

Regardless of what or why, it eventually gets eaten.

Naturally, that also means that temptation is lurking around constantly when I am at work. It’s bad enough to walk into a store or restaurant and not grab something I know I shouldn’t, but when it’s around me 8 hours a day… Sheesh!

To make matters worse, I have a slight oral fixation where I always like having something to chew or crunch on (meaning having “a handful” of something doesn’t always work for me). If only ice wasn’t bad for your teeth!

Snack 1: Sunflower Seeds

One day, I bought a bag of sunflower seeds on a whim, for no other reason except that I like them. What I didn’t expect was to figure out just how well sunflower seeds worked as a snack for me.

I have this eating theory – basically if you had all your day’s food in front of you somehow (excluding temperature, storage and convenience issues), you could technically eat it however you wanted, at whatever times you wanted. Right? Using the calories in, calories out way of thinking, you could measure out 2,000 or so calories and you could spend the entire day eating if you so chose. At the end of the day, it would still be the same number of calories.

Well, I feel the same goes with a serving of sunflower seeds.

An approximate serving of sunflower seeds is a few tablespoons or, about 1/4 cup. In a 1/4 cup serving, there are around 170 calories (and lots of nutrients). Now, I could toss them all in my mouth in a few pinches and be done with it. But that’s not the way I eat! I play with my food! Wait, I mean… I… No, I guess I did mean that.

This may sound a little OCD but I loved to take a single (hulled) sunflower seed, bite off the pointy edge, pull the skin off of it with my teeth, separate the two halves, and then eat it like that.

Now, imagine doing that for almost every single seed in a quarter cup and you will understand why I sometimes couldn’t even finish 1 serving of sunflower seeds in a whole, 8 hour workday.

What’s that got to do with the office snacks, you may wonder? Simple. My mouth was so busy pulling apart individual sunflower seeds that I didn’t care so much about the cookies, chips or other things that might be available. Yes, I still gave in at times, but on the whole, I was much less susceptible.

Should I have just exercised more discipline, instead of creating a substitution? Sure. But it’s more important to me to not be so tempted than to pretend that I have more discipline than I really do.

So what’s another way to make the most of my snacks?

Making snacks out of things that typically aren’t!

Snack 2: Roasted Chickpeas

Beans, beans, the musical fruit… The more you eat, the more you… Have difficulty finding new and exciting ways to prepare them?

Outside of chili, I’m not a big fan of beans. OK, maybe chili and split pea with ham. Navy beans with ham. White beans with ham. I guess that means (insert bean here) and ham, eh? That, and mushed into a paste mixed with far too much sugar and rolled into a mochi. Anyway, I know they are super good for you, high in fiber and other nutrients, and everyone should eat more of them.

But they are just so mushy! I don’t like the texture of them at all, except as stated above.

Insert garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). These are mushed into a paste and turned into hummus, which is delightful, but otherwise they too are still just a bean.

Or are they???

Roasted Chickpeas to the rescue!

I found a recipe (or several) for roasted chickpeas and got intrigued. It is one of the simplest recipes ever.

  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (low sodium or no added salt is best)
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Other seasonings to taste

Now for the complicated cooking methods!

  1. Open the can.
  2. Strain beans.
  3. Rinse beans to get rid of the starchy can water.
  4. Dry beans thoroughly (either by draining or with paper towel).
  5. Place beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  6. Toss in olive oil and seasonings.
  7. Bake at 400F for 30-40 minutes (mine took about 35).
  8. Let cool and store at room temperature.

You can add more seasoning after they are done if you want. These can be made sweet, spicy, salty, herby, whatever you want them to be. They still taste a little like a garbanzo bean, and I suspect that beans not from a can would be even milder, but for the most part they no longer look or taste like a bean.

Actually, from a distance, they look to me like Reese’s Puffs cereal.

That said, this is a high fiber snack with a crunch similar to one of the generic Corn Nuts knockoffs.

Another amazing, high fiber snack with technically less preparation and no cook time?

Snack 3: Jicama

If you’ve never tried jicama (also called yambean or Mexican yam), it looks like a piece of raw potato, but it has a mild sweetness and a crisp bite similar to a water chestnut.

It’s also low in calories, high in fiber, and has a low glycemic load. It’s a great, crunchy and tasty vegetable to “mindlessly” snack on.

No preparation is needed other than to slice off the outer skin. Only the white inside is to be eaten. Apparently the skin is toxic.

So there you have it – 3 of my current favorite snacks that don’t require any dips to be great and only one requires refrigeration. Obviously carrot sticks or baby carrots and celery sticks are also great, sugar snap peas, etc. But these are the crunchy, simple snacks that I can just grab a bag of and start munching.

What about you? What sort of simple and healthy snacks do you munch on? What helps you steer clear of temptation? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

In Somber Remembrance

Now that I have some time to write again, it won’t yet be an update to my last post.

If you read the first part of my weight loss program that I’ve began, I mentioned my best friend’s mother. I talked about how she inspired me, in a way, to not let myself get past a certain limit. She motivated me to never go too far down the spiral. I’ve never told her that, since it was more about learning from her mistakes than from her leadership. But I couldn’t tell her now if I wanted to.

She passed away earlier this week, in her early 60s. She didn’t even make it to 65.

I have been reflecting a lot, but more so, I have been thinking about how my friend must have felt. It’s not my place to give out personal details for either of them, but one of the things that disturbs me most is that she didn’t merely slip away.

She was in the ICU for a long time. They tried many different things but ultimately, it was the machines keeping her alive.

When they turned them off, she only lasted a few more minutes.

Her family had to watch her pass away.

It is truly agonizing to imagine watching a loved one struggle to take their final breaths, as their life slips away before your very eyes. Tears begin to well up in my eyes every time I try to envision what those final moments must have been like.

Her husband stayed by her side, kissing her and reassuring her of his love. My friend held her hand, crying and waiting for it to be over.

Her family was not surprised at losing her, due to her already poor health, but they didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Like with most things, they always thought that it would be next time. But this time, “next time” was now.

Without her knowledge, she has once more inspired me – and much more so now – to do something to get myself in better health.

For that, I would like to thank her.

If only I still could.

How to Lose Weight When Obese and In Pain (Part 1)

Let me start with the standard disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist, a nurse, pharmacist, etc… This should be construed as nothing more than my personal suggestions based on my personal experiences to date. As usual, consult your physician before starting any exercise program, etc, etc… Use common sense above all else.


This is written to and for other fat people. These posts (hopefully) will be the written progression of my efforts. If you have scrolled through a few of my previous posts (well, one of them really, I guess) you will know that I am fat. Well, and I just sort of gave it away a sentence ago. How fat… I do not yet wish to divulge. Let’s just say, I’m huge, but functional. More on that in a minute.

The Back (and Knee, and Hip) Story

I’ve been fat all my life that I can remember. Almost every photo ever taken of me shows me fat. The only exceptions are photos taken when I was maybe 5 years old? I am not sure my exact age since I didn’t have enough self-awareness at it. All the clothes I remember wearing when I was growing up in school were large. I shared clothes with my mom at a relatively young age, and not at all in a good way. (My mom is overweight, though she’s lost a lot of weight in recent years and was never as large as I am now.)

I got teased about my weight only twice in school. Both times were during middle school. I was a loner and extremely shy for most of my young life because I knew that I wasn’t “normal” (other reasons for that too, but weight was a primary one). Since I couldn’t wear clothes for someone my age, I often had to dress in “women’s” clothes. If you have ever compared “women’s” fashions to “junior” fashions, you’ll see why that was a big deal (especially when I was of school-age).

I was mostly left alone, but occasionally I had well-intentioned family members occasionally trying to tell me what I could do to lose weight. I had multiple people around me who were thin and attractive and I could never compare. In high school, it was as to be expected with guys. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to take note of what types of girls guys usually are seen talking to and realize you’re not one of them.

I was depressed off and on throughout my life and again, other contributing factors to that, but at one point weight was one of the largest (har, har) factors. I remember thinking in my dramatic, teenage mind that no guy would ever love me based on various things and one of the main ones, weight. I felt suicidal at times. Dramatic thinking, yes, but again I was a teenager and I didn’t know any better at that point.

It wasn’t so much that I thought “What guy would ever want me?” that made me feel suicidal as it was “Who would ever love me?

Occasionally in my life, I have felt as though I’m viewed as some sort of monster.  (It’s kind of weird admitting this on the internet but hey, that’s what blogs are for, right?) That lends heavily (har, har, har) to the way of thinking behind “Who would ever love me?”

Nevertheless, I still obviously made friends (and influenced people?). My best friend is still my best friend to this day, I love her like a sister, and she is a wonderful asset in my life. However, it was her mom who actually and unknowingly planted a thought in my head that I’ve kept for over 20 years now.

My best friend’s mom was very large when we were kids (still is/is again). She “couldn’t” do much of anything except walk short distances, such as to and from the car. I found out later that she actually was capable of doing more than that, but chose not to. Nevertheless, being around her stuck with me. I decided long ago that no matter how fat I ever got, I still had to be able to function.


Let that sink in for a minute.

The Problems

If you go back to the previous post I mentioned, you’ll know that I have had knee problems for over a year now. It started when I worked at a job that required me to walk a lot and initially I lost weight. Later on they changed the position and I walked a lot less, but still ate as if I walked a lot. One day, while descending a flight of steps, my knee began to hurt. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I stopped using the stairs.

Early last year, before leaving that job and before moving, I developed a case of sciatica. I wasn’t sure at the time that it was sciatica, but I developed pain in my left leg that started around my hip and radiated downward. Sitting, laying, everything was OK except for walking. Walking would hurt unless I limped. It was weird and a nuisance, but it wasn’t intolerable. I didn’t think much of it.

The limp stuck around. At one point, I walked around the neighborhood for about an hour and over the course of that time, the limp would go away and I could actually walk normal. I did that a few times, but not consistently. I was also eating out a lot.

Things got worse.

Much worse. I don’t remember exactly how it transitioned, but within a few months my annoying limp turned into a virtually unusable leg. Pain became vastly more intense constant. It began to hurt when I stood up for any time period. Sitting was better, but still painful. Only laying down was tolerable, and eventually even that was difficult. I am a side sleeper and if I rolled over in a certain position, or moved my leg a certain way, pain would shoot from my hip down to my shin.

When I stood, my lower back, hip, and my shin would be in intense pain. My shin would feel like it was burning. My hip felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife. My lower back has given me problems off and on for years, but I think in this case it felt painful too because of everything else going on.

And I still had the knee pain.

Eventually I got over the sciatica (I might write another post just for that, though it was nothing new or shocking). However, during the time that I had it I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t stand long enough to cook for myself, so I ate out constantly. This was detrimental to both my finances and my health. I still walked with a limp and now, if I stayed on my leg too long it would shake from the pain. I had virtually no other option during that time.

I was barely functional.

When I came out of it, I still had the knee pain and now it was worse. I originally only experienced knee pain going down the stairs. Now I experienced it going up or down them. It was much more preferable than the hip problems, sure, but it was still very aggravating. I developed a bizarre fear of stairs because I knew that it would hurt. It didn’t matter if it was 3 flights of stairs or just 1 lone stair, it would hurt.

Eventually I just sucked it up and resigned myself to the idea that it would hurt but I still had to do it. I live around stairs. There are stairs where I live. There are stairs where I work. There are stairs, curbs, sidewalks, and other things to step onto or off of almost everywhere you go. Sure, there is usually a spot for wheelchairs or shopping carts where it is a small ramp instead of stairs, but that isn’t the case everywhere. It also began to hurt when standing up or sitting down. It hurt more often than not, any time I had to use my knees.


Quite a mess, right? I know that’s long, but I wanted to give you an idea of just how far down I am coming up from. When I read about people who have 30 extra pounds and are complaining about how they feel, I want to smack them. And then, I want to smack myself. Without divulging my exact weight (yet), I will say that I am carrying a full additional (overweight) person. 30 extra pounds is what, a toddler? Can you carry a toddler? Try carrying yourself.

As I said, I am writing this to and for other fat people. I use the word fat because I hate the word “obese”. Clinically, I am “morbidly obese”. But you know, “obese” sounds worse than “fat”.

O… B… Even the letters used in the word are fat. The O is like someone’s belly, and the B is like someone standing from the side. Right?? Seriously, is that a coincidence? Does it come from some Latin word or was someone trying to be “cute”?

Anyway, I want you to know that I am not some thin person or some athletic type who has never lived a day in your shoes and wants to tell you “It’s easy, just do _____”. Hopefully the person reading this is in a similar boat – maybe not as far out in the ocean as me (or perhaps, even farther) – but someone who knows where I am coming from.

So here is the laundry list of problems I have been battling (TMI WARNING AHEAD):

  • Knee pain – when squatting/crouching, going up or down stairs, sitting up or down
  • Lower back pain – occasional intense flare-ups but mostly mild, especially occurs when waking
  • Hip pain (sciatica) – included because it set off a lot of other issues, and also because I have had other mild flare-ups since the first intense episode
  • Pre-diabetes (I’m seriously amazed I’ve never been diagnosed with diabetes)
  • Skin issues (due to skin touching other skin where it shouldn’t)
  • Digestive/gastric issues – frequent experience stomach pain after meals, won’t mention all the other fun
  • Mild asthma – primarily exists as exercise-induced asthma, but also when I get sick
  • Irregular menstruation (I don’t usually consider this a “problem” though, to be honest)
  • General fatigue/low energy – though sometimes “lazy” was also “avoiding pain”
  • Sugar cravings/strong cravings for sweets – you might not consider this a “problem” but when you’re experiencing it, it certainly is!
  • Depression
  • Plus other stuff I can’t think of off hand! (It’s late, sorry.)

As the title says, this is only part 1. In fact, this is the tip of the iceberg.

So before you say, “This tells me nothing about ‘how to lose weight’! Where is ‘part 2’?” here is piece of advice number one:

What works for one person may not work for the next, so focus on what works for you.

PS – Keep that in mind since there will be a quiz later! That is the most basic focus and motivation of my entire “program” I’ve created for myself. More on that next time! Gift Certificate Warning

You may have heard friends, family, or coworkers raving about gift certificates. Perhaps you got an email or two about them. If you haven’t tried them before, they aren’t a bad deal at all. The gift certificates can be a great way to save money (sometimes large amounts of it) and a good reason to try other places.

Also, the gift certificates do not expire. Also, they can be reprinted whenever you need – so don’t worry if you print a copy and accidentally throw it away.

However, since you don’t purchase them the way you normally purchase gift certificates (i.e. give the store/restaurant $50.00, get $50 worth of food/merchandise), I figured they wouldn’t be accepted exactly the same way, either.

Although they generally are accepted and taken the same as other gift certificates, be warned that the restaurant automatically tacks on 18% gratuity to your bill.

You don’t get a choice in the matter, they add it to your bill when they bring it to you and then offer you the chance to give an additional tip.

If you had lousy service or just planned to pay 15%, too bad.

This isn’t usually a problem if you are eating at a cheap establishment, but if you are dining fancy – be prepared to shell out a few extra bucks.

Overall, still a good deal and very worth the money.

Those Red Plastic Cups

If you live in the US and have ever hosted or attended an informal party, you’ve probably seen those those red plastic cups. Dixie cups. They hold about 16oz (500 grams) of whatever it is you’re drinking.

I have seen them many times and never thought twice about it. They’re cups.

Apparently, they are an iconic American symbol of some sort outside of the states.

I have a friend who came from New Zealand and recently moved to Japan. (She leads are far more interesting life than I do.) While still in New Zealand, she mentioned an “American store” near her that may have sold those plastic cups. When she first mentioned them, I kept thinking she was talking about something different.

As she continued, it became clear that she was indeed referring to red, Dixie brand plastic cups. The kind that won’t break through if they are left sitting out too long, but not sturdy enough to wash and reuse. Disposable red drinking cups.

Now she is in Japan as a JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program), and she told me about a party that some American JETs were having. She was excited about the party for all sorts of reasons – fun, friends, etc, etc. But she was also excited over the prospect of seeing those cups.

She sent me some pictures from the party.

Red Plastic Dixie Cups at a Party

Yes, these ones.

I have cropped out the people, but make no mistake – these are not “party photos”.

Dixie Brand Red Disposable Plastic Cups

I hope this makes the Dixie company very happy…

They are cup photos.

I never would have guessed anyone was this intrigued by our disposable dishware, but she has indicated she isn’t the only one.

Are you also this intrigued by these cups or any other innocuous, mundane item?

I feel like I am missing out on something. 😛