Hummus: Dipping blind vs. dipping smart


I’ve been eating hummus like crazy this summer, and this week inadvertently tried a yummy new flavor – olive tampenade from Saba – that I might like even better than roasted red pepper.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but here’s the problem: Though I checked the label early on to get a rough calorie count (70 per 2 T. serving),  I mentally assigned this taste treat to the “mashed beans” category of food – but it’s really quite a bit denser than that.

Though a serving of regular hummus is just 1 Weight Watchers point, same as fat free refried beans, I can eat half a cup of refried beans. If I do that with hummus – especially this new flavor, which is 80 calories per serving – then I’m looking at 320 calories.

I’m not giving up hummus (which I now prefer to cheese, as it’s tangier and creamier). But I’m no longer going to merrily dip celery sticks in it to my heart’s content, either, because it’s WAY too easy to put away half a cup of the stuff — or even more, if I’m not careful.

So it’s simply a matter of putting the amount I want on a plate and sticking to that portion, rather than dipping blind. It’s not hard, just an adjustment.

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Wish I had this guy’s problem …

Ryan Vezina is a founding member of the band Recycled Percussion, which, like Stomp, makes music out of everyday objects like vacuum cleaners and, in this case, silverware. Not very surprising that these perpetual drummers always seem to be skinny. In addition to being distracted from eating, they’re probably constantly in motion…

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6 months without Diet Coke

Funny how six months have come and gone since my last sip of Diet Coke without my even noticing that milestone, which would’ve been July 7.

The only real temptation I can think of in that time came on our drive to Tennessee last month. I’d been napping in the car and woke up hot and dry and irritable. Heading into a convenience store for a bathroom break, knowing my turn behind the wheel was coming up, I had the impulse to revert to nearly three decades’ worth of conditioning and mark this “pit stop” with an ice cold Diet Coke.

Even in my fuzzy state of mind, though, two things stopped me:

  1. I knew this impulse was an “error message” from my brain, an echo from a previous existence that had since been overwritten with a superior program, even if I was having trouble accessing it just then.
  2. Caving in would amount to a very public fail. My husband wouldn’t give me any grief about it, especially since he remains a Diet Coke addict. But Ben and Colleen would never let me hear the end of it. And as a blogger, I feel obligated to report my failures as well as my successes. Would that fizzy cold caffeine taste as good, knowing I’d have to write about this transgression?

I got coffee and a bottled water and moved on with my life.

There are two morals to this story: Never underestimate the power of accountability, obviously, but inertia plays a huge role as well. Momentum along our current path in life is what keeps most of us from making positive changes. But once we do make that switch, it’s almost easier to continue that forward motion along the path you’re now on as to shift back to your previous, now tainted route.


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Sitting out the Swiss Days Race :(


Dad prepares to start the kids' 1-mile race during the 41st Swiss Days Race on Saturday in Berne, Ind.

Dad prepares to start the kids’ 1-mile race during the 41st Swiss Days Race on Saturday in Berne, Ind.

After all of Saturday’s agonizing about whether to attempt walk/jogging the Swiss Days Race or just watch from the sidelines, I put my injured hamstring to the test on Sunday when I burned my thumb in a backyard fire. I dashed across the yard to the house without a thought as to what effect that might have on my leg.

At this point, it looks like I came out pretty well on both counts: A smallish blister and renewed confidence that my hamstring is healing pretty well after taking just a few days off.

In retrospect, I wish I would’ve rested the leg when I felt that first twinge a couple of weeks ago while doing intervals with my sister. But I didn’t, and after a couple of hill sessions coupled with the most intense cycling I’ve done all summer concentrated in a span of just 3-4 days had me wincing even during low-key jog/walk sessions with Colleen.

I had a sense of foreboding when Traci and I attempted a 5K time trial a few days before the Swiss Days Race, feeling the hamstring tighten up as we increased our pace. Then it cramped up into a screaming knot around the 2-mile mark, and I was done.

From what I’ve read on various websites since then, this injury could’ve been a lot worse. Tear your hamstring up too badly, and you can’t even walk without crutches. Even right after whatever it was that happened – maybe a slight tear but more likely just some inflammation – I was at least able to walk without too much discomfort. Ice and a compression wrap helped quite a bit. I hope to test the leg out in a day or two with some light jogging.

As for the Swiss Days Race, it was initially disappointing to watch from the sidelines – especially because Ben also sat this one out with leg issues of his own. (For the first time in several years, our extended family was represented by a lone runner: Colleen, in her last year of competing in the kids’ 1-mile race.)

I kept thinking I should’ve just walk/jogged the race. There were more walkers this year than at any point in the race’s 41-year history. But it remains a runner’s race, always has been, and it was hard to picture being content with holding down the pace when I’ve always associated this race — my sentimental favorite — with going as hard as you possibly can.

Once the race started, though, I got caught up in the spectacle of watching some of the area’s top runners go at it. As my cousin Jeff noted – his boys are grown and off pursuing their goals, running and otherwise, elsewhere — it’s just fun to come out and watch the race and see familiar faces in the running community.

To which I must add: How about that Doug Bauman, still running just over 25 minutes in his 41st Swiss Days Race?

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A kid’s point of view: A new running coach!

By Colleen, age 11

Since Mom and Ben are both injured weaklings right now, Aunt Traci offered to be my running coach to help me get ready for cross country.

colleenAt first I was scared she would be too tough on me. Wednesday we did 2 miles together after Mom did something to her hamstring. She wasn’t actually too hard on me, but I set higher goals for myself because I didn’t want to disappoint her. I didn’t get a pr but I did run pretty hard at times and it was a good run.

Yesterday Mom still couldn’t run and when she woke me up she said, “Guess what, you are doing 4 miles with Traci today.”  I wish she wouldn’t have told me ahead of time because I worried about it all morning. I was afraid Aunt Traci would “crack the whip” on me. It was pretty hard, but I was surprised that I could go the distance and do it about the same pace as my 2-mile runs. I still walked some, but not too much.

Aunt Traci is fun to talk to during our runs. Also, she and I decided to text each other when we do planks at night. I think Mom is starting to be jealous that her two favorite running partners are running without her!

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Cheaper, low calorie ‘ice cream sandwiches’

icecreambarpaintScoop 2 T. of fat free whipped topping between two halves of a chocolate graham cracker, then freeze for half an hour or so. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it tastes exactly like a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich, but it’s in the ballpark — for only 85 calories and 2 Weight Watchers points plus.

Did I mention it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to boot?

I got this idea off a blog called From Spud to Stud, written by a Texas guy who’s just starting his weight-loss program.  Stocking his freezer with low-cal treats like these will surely help in those weak moments when you need something sweet.

The problem, of course, is making sure you don’t do what I did and dunk a bunch of graham crackers in the whipped topping while you make up a batch of these guys. While one serving of fat free whipped topping is only 20 calories and zero Weight Watchers points plus, there’s 500 calories in that container — and way more than that in the box of graham crackers.


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Taking crappy food out of circulation

Why is it that even though we see people all around us trying to make healthier food choices, the food we most often tote to a potluck or deposit in the office break room tends to be calorie-laden crap?

I suppose for most of us it’s a socially acceptable way to indulge in “a little something” without having to keep it around the house where it would completely derail our diets. The reality, though, is that the calorie bombs we foist off on the crowd usually aren’t as welcome as we think they are. How many times have you been doing really well on your diet, only to have someone invade your space with a temptation you weren’t prepared to defend yourself against?

I know I’ve been guilty of this on several occasions. But it wasn’t until I read Tom Rath’s take on this that it really hit home.

eatmovesleep“The problem is, most of us want healthy options for ourselves but assume incorrectly that others prefer less healthy foods,” Rath writes in Eat, Move, Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes. “Change this trend in your networks, and start bringing healthier foods to gatherings. If nothing else, it will tell your friends you value their health as much as your own.”

I picked Rath’s book up on impulse at the library the other day. It’s really just a collection of little improvements he’s made over the years rather than an all-encompassing philosophy, so it’s easy to flip through and pick up ideas you like while discarding those that don’t sound appealing or workable. (Which is pretty much how I approach every diet book I come across these days.)

Here are a couple of other useful tips I’ve gleaned from this book:

  • No matter how much you think you exercise, eliminate one hour of “chair time” from your daily routine.
  • Aim for foods that have no more than 5 carbs for every 1 gram of protein. (I’m not going to embrace this, but it’s an interesting filter to look through.)
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