Quick Review: VEGA Essentials Shake

I’m not one to jump on a diet or health-trend bandwagon. Despite having lost 40 lbs at one point in my life, I’ve basically tried to lose weight with a general policy of cutting calories and increasing activity. However, something that has always been a struggle, having a desk job, is reducing my hunger level throughout the day. It’s really easy to keep walking over to the vending machine and grabbing something new every couple of hours. Especially at my current job where we have an awesome self-serve market that filled with all kinds of goodies.

Something I know about myself is that if I can get a decent amount of calories in me, first thing in the morning, I can stave off my snacking till later in the day, or even until lunch time. For a while I was grabbing a breakfast sandwich at the gas station each morning, since it had protein in it that would help satiate me longer However, it was also loaded with cheese and other yummy stuff that probably was self-defeating. So, I decided to try a meal shake for breakfast.

One of the brands I had sampled in the past, and enjoyed is VEGA. In particular, their chocolate flavor is rich and smooth, and doesn’t taste cloyingly sweet. The price isn’t too bad, $36 for 18 servings, which with the addition of milk and a banana, I’m getting breakfast for around $3 each morning. I’m not a huge dairy milk fan (doesn’t always agree with me), so I’m using coconut milk, which gives the shake a bit of a tropical flavor. I could blend my banana into the shake, but I’m trying to be efficient with my time, so I just eat that on the side.

Apart from the solid flavor, I’ve found the texture to be quite pleasant as well. It’s not chalky, and when I shake it in a blender bottle, I’m able to get it pretty smooth. As with most shakes like this, it’s a thick substance, when made to recipe. There’s just no getting around that, but I’ve never felt like the texture is off-putting in any way. One of the reasons I chose their Essentials Shake is because it’s also loaded up with lots of vitamins and is more well rounded than just a simple protein shake. I’m not looking to bulk up, so having a more balanced mix works well for me.

It’s now been a couple of weeks since I started this routine, and yesterday I weighed in at my lowest weight since August of last year. I’m finding that I’m able to keep my hunger more in check in the mornings, and have been able to push my lunch later in the day. I still do some snacking at work, but in general I’m keeping it to just 1-2 per day instead of some times when I’ve been visiting the snacks every hour and a half.

I want to be clear though that I’m also needing to be smart with my other eating. This isn’t some magical diet drink, but a tool that I’m using to get my weight back down where I want it. I still need to keep up my exercising, and watch my calories the rest of the day, but having a solid start has helped a lot to keep me in a routine that works.

If you’re looking to use a shake to supplement your diet, I’d recommend giving VEGA a try. I think it’s a great mix, with good flavor and consistency. It’s reasonably priced, easy to make, and does the job I want it to to.

Weight and sick update

One of my goals for the new year was to get back down to the weight I want. It’s never easy to lose weight, no matter how successful you’ve been in the past. It doesn’t matter that I lost 40 lbs. back in 2010. When you gain 15-20 of it back, it’s just as hard to remove it again.

So the wife and I have been trying to get back on track, counting our calories and being more active. I’ve never been one for strict calorie counting, but I’m trying to use it occasionally to keep track of things. I’m happy to report that in the first couple weeks I’m down close to 5 lbs., which always makes you feel better about your efforts. Those first 5 are often the easiest to go though, and the next part will be the more difficult one.

One of the things that we’ve found, as a couple, is that when we’re trying to lose weight we have very different needs. What helps keep one of us on track, just doesn’t work for the other. What this means, is that even if we eat dinner at the same time, we have to eat different things. What works for me for a light dinner, doesn’t work for Lisa, and vice versa. Therefore, we’ve been finding a lot of success in just doing our own thing and supporting each other in that.

One thing that hasn’t helped me is my inability to get a lot of exercise while I’m recovering from being sick. It feels like a carbon copy of last year in February when I got sick and then ended up with days and days of breathing issues. I’m on my final day of my prednisone dose, and we’ll see if I need to get another one. Thankfully, things seem to be heading in the right direction, but things like running (especially in -15 F temps) just aren’t in the cards. I’ve been trying to walk more, which has been good, but it’s obviously not quite the same.

I’ve got a trip to Vegas next week, and I’m looking forward to getting in a lot of exercise. If things keep progressing well, that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m ready to get this year back in gear and get my fitness goals back on track!

In the meantime, here’s a couple of pics of cats enjoying a lap.

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Weight loss quick update

It’s been a long couple of weeks, watching my diet and counting calories, but the results are paying off. I’m down about 5 lbs. in the past three weeks, and I’ve started to figure out which eating strategy works best for me.

When I was losing weight the first time I was single and living alone most of the week. That meant that my eating strategy was to have a decent size lunch, and then just a minimal dinner with an early bedtime. Now that my life and living situation is different, I realized that this strategy doesn’t work. Too often our main meal of the day is dinner, and if I’ve already consumed my calorie allotment by that point, I’m screwed.

So now I’ve been trying to enter into the dinner time-frame with a solid 700-1000 calories to spare. That way I can enjoy a beer, and a decent dinner with the wife and friends, and not worry so much about destroying my calorie deficit. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but it’s paying off. I’m down to averaging 171.5 lbs. in the morning, and I’m on a good roll with the habit of limiting my calories during the day.

Here’s to hoping that I can keep it going a bit longer to hit the mid 160’s!

Back to calorie counting

When I started losing weight in 2010 I got down to the low 160s. I was happy with this weight for the most part, and was able to maintain it without too much trouble for many years. Then along came Christmas 2014, and for some reason I over ate far more than I realized, and within weeks had shot up 10lbs. That’s where I’ve been sitting for almost 18 months. Recently, I’ve also packed on an additional 3-5lbs that I am fighting to get rid of.

So I’m back to counting calories again, and being careful about what I eat. It’s always nice to see the first 3-4lbs drop within a day of dieting, but I know I’ve probably got a good two months ahead of me to get back to where I want to be. If things are going well, I’ll try to keep going and stabilize in the upper 150s, but I’m not going to hold my breath that I’ll be able to get there.

I’ve also decided to add in some step tracking, so for the past couple days I’ve been wearing a watch that can track activity. I want to make sure that I’m walking every day as much as I think I am. I worry that in my desk job I might not be getting up and moving around as much as my body would like. Not sure if I’ll keep up the daily activity tracking, but for now it could provide some useful metrics.

Been writing for a bit here, so it’s probably time get up and move 😉

Playing the calorie game

When I first lost weight in 2010 I didn’t use any type of calorie tracking tool. I simply ate a lot less and started running and walking a lot. Because I was single at the time, and 4 out of 7 nights a week I was all alone without my kids, it was easy to control my eating. I would have a coffee and danish for breakfast, hit a Chinese place for a small portion of rice and chicken for lunch, and then some yogurt and a grilled cheese or pasta salad for dinner. It’s a method that worked for me because I could simply stay in at night and go to bed early.

I managed to keep the weight off for almost 5 years, until this last winter when 10 pounds snuck up on me and refused to leave. I’m not 100% sure what happened, but I know that I can maintain a lower weight than what I’m at now. So it’s time to pull out the diet hammer once more.

Life has changed for me significantly over the past 5 years, and being married again with multiple kids living in my house full time now, makes it a challenge to try and make my old method of losing weight work. I’ve tried MyFitnessPal for calorie counting on and off in the past, and sometimes I stick with it, but a lot of times I just get frustrated. I decided to give it another go though, and for this past week it’s actually stuck. It’s helped that my wife and I have had a schedule this week that is conducive to less eating as well.

One of the cool things about calorie counting though is how you can link your fitness accounts with MyFitnessPal and earn more calories per day by doing more exercise. Even more than losing weight, it can be a real motivator to get out there and keep moving. Tonight my wife and I went for a trail run at a park, but the wood ticks were out, and we forgot spray, so we cut the run short. However, I knew I had a dinner engagement this evening, and I wanted to enjoy a beer when I got home. So I kissed my wife on her way out of the park and I did another 4.2 mile loop on some paved trails. I wanted to enjoy my dinner and beer and that fact alone pushed me into earning another 500-600 calorie deficit through exercise that I needed to do anyway.

I’m sitting at my desk enjoying a nice Surly Hell and happy that I made the choice to push myself to get in more fitness this afternoon. Hopefully, the scale tomorrow morning will be happy with me too.