Pack On The Pounds With A Stressful Job

stress causes obesity

Which button do you hit the most at work? I opted for the green button and focused on getting healthy. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and

Want to lose weight? Eliminating job stress can help. I came across an article in Scientific American that describes the biology of stress and how our body releases hormones, like insulin.

Insulin stores fat in our cells. And elevated blood insulin makes us hungry.

So not only do you store fat when you’re stressed, but you want to eat too. Great!

Why did I leave my job? The 16-hour days, weekend work, hourly crises and daily frustrations with management. How did I compensate? Vending machines and happy hours.  Not the healthiest way to relieve stress.  

Walking away was the best thing I did for my health.


Roasted Red Pepper Soup For Start of Fall

Fall's almost here? That means it's time for soup.

Fall’s almost here? That means it’s time for soup.

I’m seeing fall colors on our trees. The turning of the leaves signals the start of soup season for me.

I love making my own stews, soups and stocks. Mixing and matching my own ingredients…creating great flavors…how could you not love that?

The real beauty of home-made soups? Soup is hard to screw up. It’s very forgiving.

So what’s on tap for the weekend?  Roasted Red Pepper Soup. Yum.

Recipe Changes
Today, I’m working on converting my soup recipes from high to low carb. Most are easy to alter.  Just replacing one veggie with another.

For other recipes, I’m looking for ways to replace flour and cornstarch as thickeners. Slimy, bad tasting low carb thickeners are plentiful.  It looks like pureed vegetables and heavy cream will be my thickening staples.

But I might experiment with two options I’ve come across on the Paleo Diet forums – vegetable gum, and nut butters and meals.

  • Vegetable Gum – Gums like xanthan and guar suck out moisture and leave a gel. A little goes a long way. Too much gum and soups and sauces become gooey rather than creamy.
  • Nut Meal and Nut Butters – My friends following the Paleo Diet swear by their nuts. Nut meal doesn’t clump like flour (bonus).  However, both the meal and butters increase my carb count. So I’ll need to use caution.

I’m not sure if I’ll play with these two options just yet. Pureed veggies just seems fresher (they are!) and easier to control the carb count.


Grocery Shopping + Hunger = Stupidity

Never shop while hungry. If you do, always go for salad or produce to splurge!

Never shop while hungry. If you do, always go for salad or produce to splurge! Your waistline will thank you.

I was running very late this morning and didn’t head out to the grocery store until 11:45. I ate celery and 1 ounce of cheese before leaving the house. I thought that would tide me over.  By the time me and my cart hit the produce section, my tummy started to grumble.

I knew I was in trouble.

Armed with my trusty grocery list, I made a mental note not to buy anything not on the list. That lasted 30 seconds. In produce alone I picked up 5 extra items. Hey, at least it’s produce.

I stayed away from the bakery where samples were a plenty and everything looked delish! However, when I hit the meat department, my stomach started cursing me out…very loudly.  How loud? Five different people mentioned it. I loaded up the cart. I surveyed the damage and spotted a few items not on my list that magically appeared in my cart. I promptly put 2 rotisserie chickens and the pot roast back.

It seemed as if anything that caught my eye, my tummy got louder. Of course, everything did catch my eye since I was hungry.

I decided to buy a pre-made salad. At least I could count on a level of healthiness. Bonus, the dressing is in its own container so I can use my own at home.  So I picked up the salad and zipped through the rest of my list in 15 minutes.

Mexican Avocado Salad with Steak. Tasty and pretty.

Mexican Avocado Salad with Steak. Tasty and pretty.

When I got home, I put everything away and stared at my packaged $6.00 salad – a Chicken Caesar.

I tossed it in the fridge, chopped up a bit of lettuce and avocado and added the tomato, onion and cilantro mix I had left over from last night. A quick Mexican Avocado Salad with 3 ounces of left over steak.

I’m proud that I took control of my hunger and just plucked some left overs on a plate for lunch.  Too bad it didn’t happen before I spent an extra $20 at the grocery store.

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Grocery Shopping While Full vs. Hungry (The Oatmeal)

Going Grocery Shopping While Hungry Could Make You Purchase More High-Calorie Foods (Huffington Post)

Fighting The Belly Fat: 30-Day Sit Up Challenge

The 30-Day Situp Challenge: Because losing 113 lbs. to get to my goal weight isn't enough of a challenge!

The 30-Day Situp Challenge: Because losing 113 lbs. to get to my goal weight isn’t enough of a challenge!

I’ve decided to do fitness challenges each month. I’m not able to target specific areas of my body for weight loss, but I can pick areas to tone.

Also, I worry about sagging skin. I’m in my 40s, so I know as I get older, my skin loses its elasticity.  Slow weight loss and toning my muscles can help with my skin snapping back.

So this month, it’s the 30-Day Sit Up Challenge. It’s the area of my body where have the most jiggling and the source of major health issues – my big, fat belly!

I know that belly fat brings with it serious health risks – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Belly fat doesn’t just jiggle around. It churns out hormones and inflammatory junk. Abdominal fat breaks down easily into fatty acids, flowing into the liver and muscles. When they go to the liver, they trigger a chain reaction – increasing bad cholesterol and insulin resistance. When your hit insulin resistance, you gain even more weight. Blood sugars go out of whack. Fats and clots get into the bloodstream.

It’s not a pretty picture!

The nice thing about the 30-Day Sit Up Challenge, it’s just one exercise. The bad thing about the 30-Day Sit Up Challenge, I have to do sit ups.

Right now I can do 20 sit ups. That increases to 35 by the end of the week.  At the end of the month, 140 sit ups.

The belly fat battle is one I intend to win!

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Weekly Weigh-In: Down 1/2 Lbs

Finally got the scale moving in the right direction. I’m now 254.7, down 1/2 lbs.

I think my Texas trip was a bust. I didnt weigh-in during the trip, so how do I know? Just too many temptations (chips…lots of chips!) at the house.

So this week I stuck to my low carb plan and didn’t go over my daily points. Even though I had dinner out (twice!) with friends, I didn’t tap into my weekly allowance points either. Awesome.

Just need to keep it up. Plus, with the yoga starting back up, I’m confident that I’ll hit that damn 250 mark soon and put an end this plateau once and for all.

The Missing Link

I am not a seafood lover. In fact, I hate it. Always have. The overly fishy taste and funky texture always freak me out. Salmon i find especially horrid.

But one of this year’s resolutions is rating more fish. So I’ve taken to eating tuna fish once a month for lunch. Yuck!

Last night the family wanted to hit a local seafood haunt. Not wanting to spoil plans, I agreed.

The shrimp and grits dish caught my eye. But thanks to the high carb count of grits, I decided to find the most mild fish on the menu.

With my waiter’s help, that turned out to be a fish called Link. A lean fish, it has a firm texture and a slight lemony taste. Topped with tomatoes, jalapeños and onions, it was amazing.

No freak out happened. My only problem with the fish was I wanted more.

Now I don’t think this makes me a lover of seafood. But it does give me encouragement to keep trying more mild flavored fish.

Who knows? Maybe same time next year I’ll be eating salmon.

Shake It Up! Protein Powder And Weight Loss

No longer sitting on top of my fridge, I'm cracking this puppy open after my next workout.

No longer sitting on top of my fridge, I’m cracking this puppy open after my next workout.

For some reason, I’ve felt hungry the last couple of days.  Seriously, I just want to eat non-stop.

Yesterday I decided to track not just what I’m eating, but when I felt hungry. Immediately after my walk, I was starving and a bit dizzy. I grabbed an apple, sliced it up and spread 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter on it. That did the trick…for 20 minutes. I got an early lunch – a hamburger patty and a small salad.  Hungry 45 minutes later.  I ended up eating a sausage link to keep the hunger at bay until time for my afternoon snack. Starving at snack time, I devoured my celery and cream cheese.  I then drank a ton of water to keep the stomach grumbling to a minimum until dinnertime.

My workout is the hunger-triggering culprit.  I’ve upped the intensity. A week ago, I averaged 2.5 miles on my walks. Now I walk 4 miles a day, but on the 3rd day I walk 2.5 miles as fast as possible.  Clearly I’m burning more energy and I’m not refueling my body accordingly.

My husband suggested a post-workout shake. I picked up a low carb shake powder back in mid-April. I left for Arizona and completely forgot about it. I found the powder on top of my fridge, unopened.

I opted for a low carb shake with whey protein. The high protein levels help with rebuilding my muscles and the low carb aspect won’t escalate insulin, which keeps my blood sugar level in check.  Nice!

Today is my recovery day, so no workout and no shake. I’m still tracking when I get hungry to see if something is going on other than just the exercise. So far so good.

Tomorrow I crack open that jar.

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Today Is A Glass Half Full Day

I've hit another freakin' plateau. Time to shake things up.

I’ve hit another freakin’ plateau. Time to shake things up.

I hoped that I would hit the minus 75 lbs mark today. Instead I’m up a 1 pound.  I felt amazingly frustrated after getting off the scale. The last month I’ve been going up and down…up and down. Clearly I’ve hit another plateau. Crap!

But I refuse to mope around. While the fickle finger of fate fu….ah…toys with me, I plan to kick it up a notch this week. I’m going back to my week one menu that jump started my weight loss. Also, when it comes to measuring food, I just haven’t been militant.  That stops today.

As for exercise, this week I’ll walk 3 miles/day and start muscle workouts back up.  Amazon kindly delivered my exercise bands a few weeks ago. I promptly took the bands out of a box and tucked them away in a drawer. Time to christen the bands and break a sweat. I think 3 muscle workouts a week is a good start.

Time to kick this plateau’s ass and blow past that 250 lbs mark.


Went On A Minor Bender Last Night

These are tastier in pie form.  Photo courtesy of Paul and

These are tastier in pie form. Photo courtesy of Paul and

Yesterday I spent the morning cooking food for a BF and her family who are mourning a loss. It was my first serious attempt making gluten-free food so it was a bit stressful. After delivering the food, the last thing I wanted to do was spend even more time in the kitchen making dinner.

Normally I would have lots of cooked food in the fridge for days like this. Well I had the wonderful brainstorm to cook a turkey this week to help save on the groceries. I planned to cook the turkey yesterday, but the sucker is still frozen after 4 days.

So while I was on the way home, I called the hubby and we decided on pizza for dinner.  Now a funny thing happened on my way home. I felt compelled to make a pit stop at Trader Joe’s grocery store.  I would like to say that I got a salad or some veggie dish to make sure I would only have 2 slices of pizza. I would like to say that, but that would be lying.

I got a blueberry pie.

And whole milk.

And wine.

Not one of my finer moments. But no use beating myself up. What’s done is done and I won’t do it again (at least not for a while).

On The Road Again

Today I’m off to the Big Apple for a weekend of fun with the hubby. I’m going to do my best to stay on program. So yes, I will be counting carbs and points…well mostly guestamating. I have no idea why, but eating healthy and traveling don’t always go together for me. I think when I’m on vacation I give myself permission to go off program. That’s just crazy.

The last vacation we took, I was in complete control. We rented a house with a kitchen and I cooked most of our meals to save money. I was able to plan our meals and not go over my daily points allowance.

This weekend I’ll have no kitchen. No grocery shopping. No food plan. Since I just got back from Arizona, I haven’t even had a chance to pick up a few safe snacks for the train ride. Ugh!

So for trips like this weekend (where we eat out all the time), walking a lot was my way to help guard against those little treats you can’t resist. Well walking may not be an option as NYC is having lots o’rain this weekend. So lots of pressure on my food choices.

Hopefully they will have fruit on the train.