A Journey to Better Health

Eat Healthy, Shop Smart with Ashley. www.cobornsblog.com
Ashley

Well, it has officially been two years since I joined Coborn’s as their supermarket registered dietitian!  I can honestly tell you this has been such an amazing position to have; my favorite part; I am able to work with a variety of people in the community, like YOU.  So, instead of me writing another one of my blogs, I thought it would be a nice change to allow someone like YOU to write a guest blog for me on the ups/downs, challenges and ultimate successes with eating right and dieting.  I was so inspired by the story below and I know you will be as well!

I met Leni as he was cruising thru the aisles of his local Coborn’s scanning food items using the “lose it” app.  I introduced myself as the supermarket dietitian and asked him if he needed any help.  He was very excited to hear that I was a registered dietitian and began telling me about his current health situation and how he wanted to lose weight. After discussing his current eating habit, we set some obtainable goals.  I took Leni on a shopping tour pointing out the most nutritious foods and explained how we all should be eating at every meal.  Leni kept track of his daily intake with his app and would check in on a very regular basis, updating me on his progress throughout his weight loss journey. It was very motivating to see Leni not only reach his goals, but to see a more cheerful and happy person breaking through the wall of being overweight.  Now, that was incredible!  Leni wasn’t just focused on eating healthy, but living a healthy lifestyle that included regular exercise and being surrounded by positive people encouraging him along the way!  Now, that whole package was nothing but a recipe for success!!

Let’s give it up for Leni, here is his story…

A Journey to Better Health – by Leni DiMancari

A Journey to Better Health by Leni DiMancari - www.cobornsblog.com

I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could influence so many people to take better care of themselves and become healthy. I thought the only thing I could do to influence people was to be a better guitar player and manager. I didn’t realize that I was on the road to a shorter life because of the foods I was eating, the life I was living and not caring about what I put in my system. Here is my story that led up to my decision to live.

The choice to get healthy or die. www.cobornsblog.comIn the beginning

My journey to better health began in October of 2013 after finding out that I was on the road to heart issues and diabetes. There is a history of heart ailments in my family; my father and two sisters were both diabetic. I had consulted a physician about a lack of sleep and series of health issues that were starting to plague me. I was experiencing twitching, body aches, numbness in my fingers and shoulder, snoring, waking up every two hours, and not being able to focus at work. I was lethargic, unmotivated, and eating without thinking. At one point, I was drinking eight cans of Mountain Dew a day and eating fast food eight times a week with salt on everything. The doctor and I dug deep to find the root of my problems.

I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself physically until I found out that I was battling a lot of demons back then; I was swallowing a lot of depression. I began hating life and not caring if I lived or died, slowly poisoning myself with unhealthy foods, seasonings, soups and sugary treats. I didn’t realize that my eating was the problem until I went from a size 32 waist to a size 36 in just seven years.             

Over the course of 10 years since a divorce and quitting smoking, I had put on 60 lbs. I would un-tag myself in photos on Facebook, I would hide pictures of me on my timeline, and I would constantly graze. I would hide in my apartment with a case of Mountain Dew, a bag of chips, the TV, my PC and too much time on my hands. I would rarely go out in public.

 A turning point

It wasn’t until August of 2013 that I had a long talk with my sister about the negative effects of certain chemicals in food that could be a cause of the health problems I was starting to develop. She reminded me of her, my sister and Dad battling diabetes and heart issues, and after a long talk about the things I was eating and drinking, she thought I should talk to the doctor about how I was becoming. The doctor basically told me to “fix it or die.” I was depressed, lonely, and fat.  

I was overweight and on the road to the end. I had no idea of the amount of garbage I was putting in my system because you don’t think about the foods you eat sometimes; in turn, you just eat. I was physically inactive. My clothes were all oversized to hide my gut. My socks would tear, my pants didn’t fit, and my face was round. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my food choices at the time, but I was wrong.

Quit Soda. Quit Liquor. Quit Smoking - www.cobornsblog.comI decided to make the changes. The doctor and I had a long discussion that really helped. He reminded me that I had already proven I was a strong-willed person when I had given up alcohol and cigarettes. If I could make those changes, I could certainly take on this challenge and win. Without health insurance, I was basically on my own and had to figure it out.

Meeting Ashley and beginning my journey

I then discovered that we had a registered dietician for free available through our grocery store. I went out to the store and met with her, and in two hours, I learned more about the negative influences of our food. I decided then that it was time to take the challenge head on and I did. I had a long talk with one of my close friends about smart phone apps, and then I downloaded the LoseIt.com program. 

I registered with the service, I picked up a mixed martial arts DVD, and I set out on a ten-month journey to a better life. The app keeps you in check, plus gives you a plan to work and goals to reach. It also sends you email stickers and awards for you when you reach peaks.

Ashley (the supermarket dietician) and I would look at the foods that had the worst issues on my list, and soda was the first to go. I tapered it down to zero soda by October 1st. I had no idea that the chemicals in soda were having such a negative effect on my health, until I had my first eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in years. I had no idea that my hypertension was caused by the amount of sodium I was ingesting daily. OMG, I was digesting over 4000 Mg a day; no wonder I was such a wreck. I cut my sodium levels down to under 2200 a day (less than the RDA). I was wide awake in the morning and I liked it a lot.

I eliminated the trans-fats and fried foods, too. I was starting to see changes, little by little. I also realized that I wasn’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. V8 doesn’t count; it’s too high in sodium. With the help of our dietician, the Lose It program, and a newfound confidence, I was ready to try and reach my target weight of 170 lbs. I was at 230 lbs. 

My goal

I wanted to be at that weight where I felt most confident (I wanted it to be the 1980s all over again). It was a huge goal, but I knew if I stuck with the program, dieted, exercised, made healthy food decisions, and eliminated the garbage foods, I could reach it within 8 to 10 months. Here’s what I did: I listened to our dietician. I took all of the high-sodium foods out of my diet and dumped the soda.

Coborn's Customer, Leni, shares his Journey to Better Health. - www.cobornsblog.com

The changes I made

Here’s what I changed from my diet:

I started my body furnace moving with breakfast: eggs, toast, turkey sausage, low-sodium cheeses, spinach, low-sodium tomatoes, flax seed, onions, and jalapenos. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

In the graphic below is the short list of foods that will never be in my house again.

13 Junk Food Alternatives - www.cobornsblog.com

You have to be willing to end your relationship with bad food, in order to appreciate all of the good food. I kept five foods that I still love in the mix, knowing now that my metabolism furnace can handle it now: Five Guys little burger, Culvers mushroom and Swiss, Ciatti’s (Because I’m Italian and it doesn’t taste corporate), La Casita (Mazatlan burrito with pulled chicken, artichoke and spinach), and my treat is the Dairy Queen small chocolate malt (high calories, but still high in protein). 

I calculate every meal based on calories and intake, along with a solid exercise program. I started slow to get into the groove so it became a routine daily, beginning with 15 minutes of cardio, and 30-second body planks to tighten my core. Since then, back aches are non-existent. I now do a routine of 30-45 minutes a day of cardio and kick boxing/MMA training, and I can plank for up to 25 total minutes, combining the first 15 minutes starting at a 5-minute hold, and going downward at 5-4-3-2-1. Then 5 minutes cool down planking (2 @ 2minutes, 1 at 1 minute.) The final 5 minutes is a combination of a circular plank that uses forearms, sides, back, alphabet abs and a mountain climber.  

In ten months, I’ve now lost 61 lbs. and have a new confidence, a girlfriend who works out with me, an entire new wardrobe (I was happy to donate all of the oversized clothes to charity) and a better attitude. To think back to where I was and to see where I am today, I will never relapse into food problems again. My biggest advice is to not be afraid to fix it and ask someone for help. READ THE LABELS on everything. If you slip, its ok, just get back on task, and always believe in yourself that you can do this, and you will feel great about yourself. There is nothing better than to have people you haven’t seen in a year tell you that you look great.

Here is the workout routine I use six days a week, with a light workout on the off day. I walk everywhere and I usually park far away from the door when shopping, rain or shine.

Mixed Martial Arts 30-40 Minute Workout Routine - www.cobornsblog.com

Leni DiMancari
Coborn’s Customer

I hope that Leni’s story was able to inspire you to make some positive changes in your diet and workout routine. Remember, if you ever need anything from me, I’m just an email away. Click Here and click on the “Ask Our Dietitian” button to connect with me today!

Peace and Wellness, Ashley
Coborn’s RD Supermarket Dietitian

Click Here for more articles written by Ashley
Eat Healthy Shop Smart with Ashley - www.cobornsblog.com

 

Lighten up your meals without compromising flavor

Lighten up your meals without compromising flavor. www.cobornsblog.com

Eat Healthy, Shop Smart with Ashley. www.cobornsblog.com
Ashley

Happy spring, everyone! Whenever it rolls around to this time of the year people are usually looking for ways to increase their activity levels outside and ways to lighten up their meals in hopes of losing any of that extra winter “insulation” as I like to call it. Here are some of my favorite ways to lighten up your dishes without compromising any flavors.  You know me; I won’t eat it if it doesn’t taste as good as or better than the original versions.

Change your cooking method

First of all, before you even change the foods you are preparing, the cooking method and cookware that you use has a significant impact alone.  For example, instead of frying, try grilling.  This method of cooking allows for the excess fat and calories to drip off of the foods.  Also, a new item that has been recently added to the market is ceramic cookware.  This cookware has nonstick properties without Teflon.  In fact, it is so nonstick that you can literally fry an egg with NO oil.  I own this cookware myself and can’t image using anything else.  See what I mean by just the method and cookware already having the ability to lighten up your meals?

Simple substitutionsLighten your meals by using Greek Yogurt instead! www.cobornsblog.com

So now let’s get into ways to lighten up the recipes or foods themselves….

  • Instead of using butter use light butter by Land O’ Lakes; it’s real butter, but half the fat has been removed and there is good fat in the butter via the addition of canola oil.
  • Low sodium turkey bacon instead of regular pork bacon
  • Tomato pasta sauce instead of Alfredo pasta sauce
  • Portabella mushroom in a bun instead of a large burger
  • To thicken soups, gravies, and sauces, use puréed vegetables, mashed potatoes or a slurry of cornstarch and cold water instead of cream or roux
  • For fried chicken take off skin and use whole wheat bread crumbs in oven
  • Make your own pizza using thin whole grain pizza crust with lots of veggies
  • Use whole grain sandwich thins instead of bread
  • Choose small bagels over the regular sized bagels… did you know the proper portion for bagels is the size of a hockey puck??
  • Add more veggies and fruits to your grilled kabobs instead of mostly meat
  • Try chicken/turkey brats instead of pork or beef brats
  • When making Alfredo sauce, use whipped cream cheese, light butter, and Greek yogurt with a little skim milk. Always used whipped cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese.
  • Greek yogurt can be used in place of SOOOOO many different items such as cream cheese, mayo, butter, oil, eggs, you name it – it can be substituted. Check out the chart above.  You will notice it says Chobani… feel free to use your favorite fat free Greek yogurt. The main reason for doing this is to cut out the saturated fat, because you will be using fat free Greek yogurt of course.

As you can see, there are so many items that can be substituted for Greek yogurt.  The same goes for avocados… a heart healthy fat.  For example, you can use avocado slices in place of cheese as it still has that creamy texture.  You can use it as a spread instead of mayo, you can add it to smoothies and even make an avocado CAKE! See, the possibilities are endless!! Speaking of avocados in place of mayo, you can also use mustard in place of mayo! If you ask me mustard has a way stronger flavor with only a small serving and low sodium and no fat…perfect!

I scream for ice cream

For those hot summer days that we are about to see…. believe it or not…. be refreshed with a scoop of Kemps fat free, no sugar added frozen yogurt.  This has the highest NuVal score out of any of our ice creams! Add some ground flax seed, walnuts, berries, etc. – how does that sound for a delicious and nutritious snack?

My love for Ranch dressing

One of my absolute favorite guilty pleasures is RANCH… OH EM GEE! I use it on EVERYTHING! So I decided I needed to change it up a bit and as I always say, let’s make everything we eat as nutrient dense as possible: here is what I do…

I buy a pack of the ranch seasoning and add one cup of fat free Greek yogurt in place of the mayo… it’s fat free, low sodium, and it has protein, calcium, and hopefully vitamin D.  Then I pour in a cup of skim or 1 percent milk, again this is adding protein, calcium, and vitamin D.  Now compare that to the average bottle of ranch! If ranch isn’t your cup of tea, try to use more vinaigrettes; at least they are the heart healthy fats and they tend to be lower in sodium (not always.)  Heck, just make your own… extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and your favorite dried herbs.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Three ounces of chicken breast meat with skin has almost 150 calories; three ounces of chicken without the skin has 50 fewer calories. www.cobornsblog.comSay No to skin. Three ounces of chicken breast meat with skin has almost 150 calories; three ounces of chicken without the skin has 50 fewer calories. Tasty as it might be, the skin contains mostly heart-unhealthy saturated fat. You can cook with the skin on to retain moisture  (add fresh herbs or citrus zest underneath it to really bake in some flavor), but be sure to remove the skin before you enjoy your meal to save on calories and saturated fat.
  • Sauté—the skinny way! A couple of tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth can be used instead of oil or butter in your stir-fry or as the basis for a sauce. This method will add a nice flavor to your dish as well as a little moisture—and you’ll save calories to use elsewhere. To get a dose of unsaturated fats, serve your broth-sautéed veggies with a side salad, and pour an olive oil-based dressing over the top.
  • Squeeze on the citrus. To add a powerful flavor punch with minimal added calories, use citrus on steamed veggies instead of butter or over a salad instead of a dressing. It’s even great on fruit salad in place of sugar and adds some zip when squeezed onto a pasta salad. Don’t forget to use the flavorful zest of citrus fruits as well! Wash a lemon, orange or lime, then use a zester or grater to add the zest to dishes such as baked seafood.

I hope you learned a few ways to lighten up your meals just in time for spring! Happy cooking!

Peace and Wellness,

Ashley
Coborn’s Supermarket Dietitian

Click Here for more articles written by Ashley

Eat Healthy Shop Smart with Ashley - www.cobornsblog.com