Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Lifestyle Changes Day 7 – How to Eat Out

So….how’s it going? Has it been easier or harder than you thought?  Something to always keep in mind when you’re trying to change habits, they didn’t just show on your doorstep one  night like your favorite uninvited in-law and turn into the moocher houseguests that refuse to leave. Habits aren’t created overnight and won’t change overnight (sorry, my magic wand is in the shop), it does take work and we’re doing it with baby steps. Do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I love that quote! The first time I heard it, I was like, ‘wha?” I’m not eating elephant! But then I heard the punchline. It’s so true. Sometimes things seem so overwhelming in the overall view, but if you break it down to smaller pieces, it’s much easier to deal with. That’s why we set our short-term goals on our way to our long-term goal, right? Yep. So…here we are again. And I have more suggestions for your new lifestyle! I’m just full of them, huh?

By now you’ve read my post about falling off the wagon, right? I am being totally honest with you guys, I have to be honest with myself too. I’m totally not Jillian Michaels, I”m not perfect all the time, I don’t go around in my exercise bra and bike shorts. I’m sure she has her moments too, but she’s not sharing that with us. How can she look like a pro if we know that she screws up like we normal people do?

If you’re like me, your favorite thing to make for dinner on occasion (some more than others) is reservations! I realize that not everyone enjoys being in the kitchen like I do, and that’s totally fine, I”m not downing you at all. We’re all different. I enjoy cooking, which is a good thing because I’m too cheap to eat out all the time! How do you eat well when you go out to eat? I have a plan for that. Many restaurants these days, particularly if they are chains, have the nutritional information on their websites. If you know ahead of time where you’ll be eating, look it up and see what you can eat that will not completely derail all of your hard work during the day. (Remember, we’re still going for minus 3500 calories during a week to lose one pound) And I’ll share with you a sneaky secret. I waited tables for several years in my younger days, at a popular chain steakhouse. One of the side dish items is ‘steamed vegetables’. sounds healthy enough, right? ha HA! That’s where you’re wrong, the wonderful fresh mixed vegetables are steamed with butter! I know! You think you’re doing something good, and you’re really not. The grilled chicken is basted with butter as well. In choosing grilled chicken and steamed vegetables you believe you’re having a wonderful healthy dinner, while they’re sneaking in added calories and fat and it’s just not nice! When ordering, ask for the chicken grilled dry and the vegetables steamed ‘dry’. Dry does not mean w/o flavor, it means w/o the additional calories they’re slipping by and trust me, you won’t the be the first or last to ask for your food this way.

Another way to cut added calories, and the hardest for me: avoid the bread basket! I don’t care how good it looks or how hungry you are, if you eat only 2 rolls <as if>, that’s going to be in the neighborhood of 400-500 calories, and you haven’t even had your entrée yet! Oh yeah, and the salads. I love a fresh salad of gorgeous greens, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. If you choose the salad, you don’t have to eat it dry, get the dressing on the side. Your salad shouldn’t be swimming in dressing. Rather get a bite of salad on your fork and dip it just a little into the dressing, or dip your fork before getting your next bite. You still get the flavor of dressing, but cut out most of the calories from it. Also, if the salad comes with bacon or cheese, ask to leave it off, the salad will still taste good, I promise.  If you’re having pasta, go for the tomato based sauces versus the creamy sauces. I know, I know, love me some alfredo, but think about this: a popular chain restaurant Alfredo sauce weighs in at 600 calories. JUST THE SAUCE! Then when you add pasta, you can tack on 340 calories for just spaghetti. Other types of pasta have more calories. Now, compare that to Pomodoro sauce, which is a tomato/basil sauce, slides in under the bar at 190 calories. Yes! The tomato-based sauce has 2/3 fewer calories than the alfredo. How amazing is that? So, have your pasta with a tomato based sauce and cut out a lot of calories. Do keep in mind if you add meat, that will also add calories, so choose the lighter end, such as grilled chicken or maybe shrimp.

Here’s another idea, have you noticed portions at most restaurants these days are large enough for two people? I mean really, when the bowl of pasta they serve your ‘single serving’ in, is as big as the bowl you use at home to serve the whole family, there’s something wrong with that picture. My tip: split the dish with a friend and save money and calories. Or, if your friend doesn’t want to share, ask the server to box up half of the meal before they bring it to your table. That will remove the temptation to continue eating just one more bite, until you’ve ‘just-one-more-bited’ your way through the other half of meal. Try it next time. You’ll save money and have lunch tomorrow!

Tell me, I really want to know how it’s going for ya! I know, I need to share some more recipes, right?  In a bit I’ll share my favorite breakfast recipe that is under 300 calories and packed with protein and is great to grab and go!

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Lifestyle Changes Day 6 – Eat the Rainbow

Happy Monday my friends. How was your weekend? You saw how mine was. Well, I did leave out dinner yesterday. I made Tuscan chicken with sautéed vegetables and salad. A really delicious, healthy and low-fat dinner. And yes, I was stuffed when I finished, which is not necessarily what you want to go for  when eating these days, but when you’re full of vegetables, that’s ok. Really it is. And it feels different than being stuffed from eating too much chicken fried steak or tacos.

I have a couple of challenges for you to tackle today. I know it’s Monday and you’re working and busy and all, but you can do this, even at work. Well, at least one of them anyway.

So, you’ve seen those old Skittles commercials that said ‘taste the rainbow’ right? What I want you to do is eat the rainbow. What the heck are you talking about?? This, eat as many colors as you can every day. Natural colors, not the fake red #40, yellow #3 or blue #4. Red peppers, green peppers, apples, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, etc. You get my point. These wonderful veggies get their color from the vitamins within them, like beta carotene that gives the dark greens and oranges their color. Beta carotene is a B vitamin and helps with energy and healing and many others. And I’m sure you can understand why you want these vitamins and minerals. And not only do you get the vitamins and minerals, you get da da da da FIBER! Yes, yes, I know. But this is how you want to get the fiber in your diet, not in a pill or a glass of water. Don’t you think eating a banana, an apple and some salad is much nicer than trying to down a glass of slimy, clumpy goo? Yeah, me too.

when you are grocery shopping, if you stick to the perimeter of the store, you will find the foods that are the least processed and the best for you, produce, dairy, meats, etc. Do your best to add more color and shop more on the outer edges of the grocery store. You’ll feel better and eat better. Oh, and one other thing, when you see something different at the produce section, give it a try, you never know what you’ll find. One time when I was shopping the produce, I found purple carrots. Yes, PURPLE carrots! Hmm, I thought, I think I’m going to try these and see what they’re all about. My children know I like to try different things from time to time and my girly is up for the challenge. when I brought them home, everyone was curious about them, but of course, it was my daughter and myself trying them. And here’s the funny thing, they looked like normal carrots, except in color, they tasted like carrots, just your normal carrots. Crazy! So I cut them up and put them in my big bowl of salad.

Alright my friends, do you have it so far? Great, because I’ve got one more thing that you have to do. This part is NOT optional. If  you want to truly change your lifestyle and drop some lbs, you have to have to have to do this. It might be painful, but only for a second, like ripping a band-aid off. I promise.

Geez, what is it, already? You have to purge your kitchen cabinets and fridge of all those tempting naughty foods. The chips, cookies, ice cream, highly processed, low nutritional value, worthless foods, and don’t buy them again. The best way to not be tempted by them is to not buy them. If you have a brand new package, donate it to a food shelter or pass it along to a coworker. I’m sure you wont’ have a problem finding a home for the package of Oreos. Just do it. Here’s the thing, if you LOVE your Oreos, I am not recommending total deprivation, but if it’s not in the house and it’s inconvenient for you to get them, you’re going to be less likely to eat them, right? If you have to go farther than the pantry or fridge to get your fave treat, what are the chances you actually will? Right, I thought so.

My solution? If you love Oreos, or potato chips, or whatever, rather than buying a big package, occasionally get one of the small, vending machine size packs. If you want a fresh chocolate chip cookie, go to the bakery and get one, not the entire roll of refrigerated dough. You get your favorite treat, you don’t feel completely deprived, and yet you don’t have that entire package staring at you willing you to over indulge. How’s that for a compromise? Maybe do it as a treat for reaching your first goal, or getting a big promotion. But not something you do every day. when you feel deprived of your favorite things, what are you more likely to do? give it all up and eat them all and say, ‘well, i’ve screwed it all up, I can’t do this’ and throw in the towel on all of your progress. I don’t enjoy feeling deprived of my favorite any more than you do. My compromise, I’ll have a small glass of wine on the weekend. I won’t buy the box like we’ve been known to do, I might have a glass at a restaurant, or buy one of the little bottles.  Oh, I just remembered, I have a suggestion if your thing is a mid afternoon coffee. I know, I love a mocha too, but it gets expensive and they are loaded, LOADED, with extra calories that you down in only a few minutes. My suggestion, buy a box of hot cocoa packets. use your office coffee and mix in a packet of hot cocoa mix, it’s only 100 calories and you get the afternoon caffeine kick you want, a taste of the mocha without the expense and calories. How about that?

Are you with me? Can you do this? You CAN do this! Eat the rainbow and clean out your kitchen of the foods that are going to derail your changes. Now go out there and make today count!

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Lifestyle Changes Day 5 – Get Back on That Horse!

Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! Do you remember those commercials? The little old lady has fallen and she’s pushing the button on her magic talking necklace to tell the emergency ppl to come and save her. That was me yesterday gang. And I’m here to tell you, if you fall off the wagon, if you trip or stumble and don’t do everything you’re trying to do for a day, don’t throw in the towel and just give up on everything you’ve done so far.

Yesterday, again, for some odd reason I was really tired. Even though many times I just push through it and do what I need to do anyway, I simply couldn’t. The siren song of my lovely couch was too strong and I didn’t have the strength to resist! So, not only didn’t I exercise (at all), I ate more than I should have for dinner, and was naughty enough to resume my terrible habit of late PM snacking. That has always been my downfall. It’s late afternoon and I”m making dinner, all the while I”m munching on something: pretzels, animal crackers, which I suppose is better than potato chips or cookies, but still, the calories do add up. On top of the too large portion of dinner, I met my folks to get my daughter, at a local fro-yo joint. And of course, I had to have some. I did go for the sorbet w/no toppings, but once again, the calories do count.

Yes, I felt awful for having done it. I was disappointed that I’d slipped up and done what I’ve been working to change. Were my transgressions serious offenses? Well, not really, I mean I at least didn’t go all out and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, but it still threw me off my plan.

What am I going to do today? Get right back up, that’s what. Just like they say, when you get thrown off the horse, you gotta get back up. I know I’m not the only one who screws up. Don’t break your arm beating yourself up. Have you heard the phrase, ‘What defines us is how we rise after falling’? I don’t know about you, but I’m so not into wallowing or feeling sorry for myself. I admit my screw-up. It’s not the end of the world, now it’s time for me to get back on track. I’m there. Today we are going hiking at a local nature park and I can’t wait, it’s going to be a fun afternoon with my fam.

What are you going to do? What have you done when you’ve stumbled? Do you stay on the ground and have a little pity party, or do you dust yourself off and get back up? We all make mistakes, but the difference is in how you respond afterward.

Go out there today and make it count. have an awesome day and do what you need to do to make it to your goal, be it weight or . We can get there, it just takes some work. Those habits we have didn’t get established overnight, nor will be get rid of them overnight.

Ok team, got it? BREAK!

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Lifestyle Changes Day 4

So, how’s it going? Is it easier or harder than you thought? Have you mastered the portion/plate geometry yet?

Just to recap our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Portions: divide your plate into 1/4’s. One half is for veggies, 1/4 is for your starch/fruit, and 1/4 is for your protein (which should be the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards.)

2. Don’t rush: Lay your fork down between bites and wait at least 20 minutes if you think you still want seconds. And if you do go for seconds, go for the veggies. The protein and fiber work together to keep you feeling fuller longer. When you are eating, don’t do anything else, i.e. watch tv, read, etc.

3. Higher math aka counting calories: you have to know what’s going in so you can know what’s going out. Remember, 3500 calories = 1lb. To lose one pound you have to burn 3500 calories more than you take in. There are simple & easy ways to shave 100 calories (or more) off of your daily intake.

4. Swaps: swap out higher calorie options for lower calorie items, that will still be flavorful and delicious, mustard for mayo, etc.

5. Exercise. Like Nike says, just do it. that’s how you burn more calories. It doesn’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment, just a pair of sneakers.

I bought a nifty little gadget a couple of days ago, called a pedometer. A what-o-meter? A ped-o-meter. Ped meaning walk. This little baby keeps track of how many steps I take as long as I’m wearing it. It will convert to calories burned or distance, or I can set it as a timer to see how many steps I take in a specific time period. It’s really handy and helps me know how much I’m moving, or not moving. It only cost me $10 and is another terrific tool to keep me accountable, besides the food journal. I know, another thing to keep track of My goal is 10,000 steps a day. Yesterday I only hit about half, which tells me I”m not moving enough. If you have a sedentary job, start off slowly. Wear it for a day and see what an average day for you is and work on increasing it incrementally. Set goals daily to increase the number of steps you take by 100. You can totally do it.

I just had a thought and I wanted to share it with you. We’ve been talking about all of these great things to do, changes in your lifestyle and habits to help get healthy and drop some of those extra pounds that we don’t want to keep. One thing I want you to keep in mind is your reason for doing it. If you do anything for the wrong reasons, it won’t turn out the way you want it to. In this case, if you are trying to lose weight because someone is urging you to do it, and not necessarily because it’s something you want to do, it won’t work. Example, have you ever had a friend/family member who smoked? I have. My dad smoked my whole life and I hated it. I hated the mess they made. I hated the smell, all of it. I don’t know how many times I asked him, he wouldn’t do it. It wasn’t something he wanted to do. You can want something for someone else all the live long day. but if it’s not what they really want, I can tell you now, it ain’t happening.  Do it for yourself, and what you want for yourself and your life, not because someone else is telling  you to. Unless of course it’s a doctor letting you know you’re on the verge of something catastrophic (which I totally hope is not the case). Then you really do need to. Do you get my point? Alright then, off my soap box.

I think I mentioned something before about drunken pedometers. Since I’ve shared with you about the pedometers, now to the alcohol. And I’m not talking rubbing, I mean the lovely adult beverage that I’ve been known to enjoy on occasion. Preferably red in a nice tall glass with a stem. yes, I love my vino and yes one glass a day can be a good thing. Unless it’s not. Wha? Play along with me, ok, I’m getting there.

Say you love to have a glass of wine with dinner regularly. Or a beer, or the occasional cocktail. That’s fine and all, except that it alters how your body uses calories. Pay attention people, this is your daily physiology lesson. Alcohol contains calories. Disappointing I know. We all knew that beer has calories, right? I mean why have ‘light’ beer if it didn’t? You can do a few things. The first is to limit your alcoholic beverage intake to only on the weekends and only have one drink. Your 5oz glass of red wine has between 120 and 150 calories. Who knew, right? A regular beer has in the neighborhood of 150 calories, and a light beer 90 to 110 calories. You have to tally that into your daily total intake to maintain calorie loss.

But wait! There’s more! More? Yes, more! Here’s the physiology part, the calories from alcohol cannot be stored as fat. Your body burns the calories from the alcohol preferentially. Meaning any calories still needed for your body’s processes will come from the alcohol, and any food you eat that is over the number needed, will be stored as fat. I had a boss a long time ago, his name was Sparky. I’m totally straight with you. Well, his name was really Jim, but he went by Sparky (don’t ask, don’t tell). When I started working there he was very thin and athletic. But over the course of time, Sparky became less, well, sparky. He was wining and dining and shmoozing the clients which frequently involved excessive amounts of alcohol (Stoli shots anyone?) which I saw with mine own eyes on multiple occasions. Good old Sparkster started dropping off in the exercise department and leaning more toward the life of the shmoozer and began to put on some excess poundage. Over the course of several years, he has become obese and developed diabetes. That happens when you don’t exercise, eat large meals and consume more alcohol than you should on a regular basis.  When your body’s daily caloric needs are met with a type of calories that cannot be stored bodily, everything else you eat beyond your needs, will become adipose tissue (fat).

For so many reasons, it’s not a good plan. If you want to have one, have that…ONE. If you can’t live without it on a daily basis, you need to do one of two things, seek counseling, or add it into your calorie count. My plan, I am going to limit it to one and only on Friday or Saturday. Or even none at all, that’s not a bad thing.

This is a day late, so I’ll share with you my day.

Breakfast: 1 C Kashi Go Lean Crunch w/1 C almond milk, 2 C coffee w/half n half & pure via

Lunch: Pei Wei teriyaki chicken w/brown rice (only half, other half is lunch today) and water

Snack: two clementine oranges and a fiber one 90 calorie bar

dinner: chicken/black bean/avocado wrap, 5 oz glass of red wine, and here’s the reason I saved up – brownie w/vanilla ice cream ( I didn’t eat all of it, I ate 3/4 of what she gave me and passed the rest to hubby.)

I didn’t check my pedometer, but my exercise consisted of grocery shopping, some housekeeping and general busy work.

Tell me, how was your day? Have you been journaling your food and exercise? Practicing your plate geometry? Keep me posted, k?

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Lifestyle Changes Day 3 – Goal!

Alright my friends. We’ve now conquered plate geometry and the higher math of making the swaps and calories in vs calories out. Are you ready for the next challenge?

Exercise. There, I said it. Yes, it seems to be the bane of our existence sometimes and i”m right there with ya. I mean really, I don’t have the time. I’m a busy mom with children in different schools that start and stop at different times. I have errands to run, I have hair to wash, I have lightbulbs to dust, yadda yadda yadda. I can make excuses with the best of them. But what I really need to be doing is reminding myself why I need to be doing it, i.e. my pants that don’t seem to fit quite right, and the jiggly bits that I never had before. Even though my hubby says he likes the junk in my trunk, when it bounces like a car w/no shocks, yeah, that’s really not too attractive in my mind. So, compared with the reality of needing to buy a new wardrobe for all the wrong reasons, getting my arse off the couch and going for a walk on a nice day, it’s not so bad.

Here’s the thing about exercising you may not know, it does more things for you than helping you stay in your favorite clothes. It releases endorphins when you do it, even for only 10 minutes at a time. Endorphins are your body’s happy pill, which = stress relief. And who couldn’t use some stress relief?

You don’t have to own exercise equipment or a gym membership. All that’s required is a pair of sneakers. if it’s been a while since you’ve done anything physical, start simple. Park your car farther from the grocery door than you normally do. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, even if you can only start out going down. Walk your dog around the block. Simple. A very important note, if you feel out of breath, slow down, go at your own pace, it’s not a race. And one very important thing to keep in mind: you didn’t get where you are now overnight, and you won’t get back to your high school weight over night either. Ok, well, maybe your high school weight isn’t your goal, but whatever your goal is, you have to take baby steps, literally, to get there.

I will tell you something though. If you are older, 40’s or above, your metabolism is slower than it used to be. (As if you hadn’t noticed already, right?) It will take more work on your part to get where you want to go. But, the other thing is when you begin exercising, if you are doing any strength or weight training at all, you will be building muscle mass. Yes, you will be building, but it’s a good thing, really it is. Muscle does weigh more than fat tissue, so don’t get discouraged if you get on a scale and you haven’t lost any weight. This is when you need to rely more on how your clothes feel. if your clothes are fitting better, that’s what you’re going for.

One of the biggest reasons building muscle mass is a good thing is that muscle burns more calories than fat tissue does. So why wouldn’t you want to make more of it? Not to mention, when you do strength training or weight lifting, your metabolism stays elevated for 24 hrs after you exercise. How awesome is that?? Oh, yeah, there is another tiny little thing called bone density. When you are strength training, you will be increasing bone density and if you have a family history of osteoporosis, you need to do all you can to counteract that predisposition. And stronger muscles=stronger joints. Doesn’t everyone want to have stronger joints?

So after reading all of that, are you ready to lace up your sneaks? If you are in a part of the country where the weather sucks right now (like here today- low 30’s w/a windchill in the low 20’s) you may have other options. Of course you know about the mall. if you do the mall, I’d suggest going early before it technically opens, that way you’re not dodging shoppers and the temptation to stop in your favorite shop, or the funky new boutique and spend money that you don’t need to spend.  One of the local high schools has a large multi-purpose center where they play basketball and have various other functions, the upper mezzanine walkway is a track that is open to the public for walking/running during certain hours. I love it because it’s a nice level surface, it’s not going to be frigid like outside today, nor will we have to dodge other people. There are other people there occasionally, but normally we are there alone.

And since we’re talking about goals, have you set your goals yet? You need to have well-defined goals, short-term and long-term. And they need to be realistic and attainable. I know, I hear ya. I’d give my left foot to drop those pounds instantaneously, but, since the only way I can lose those pounds is to REALLY lose my left foot, I guess, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. BAck to your goals,  I mean really, you can’t get where you want to go without a map, right? Your goals (along with your journal) will be your map. If you have 50 lbs to lose in total, it will realistically take you a minimum of six months to get there at a rate of 2lbs per week. If you want to lose the weight for good, it has to be done at the slower pace than the ‘lose 10 lbs in a week’ people tell you to do. Those people who sell you a product or plan that will help you drop that much that quickly are selling water weight loss, and only setting you up for failure ultimately. Why? when you drop the pounds that fast, you aren’t changing a thing. You aren’t changing your habits or your mind frame or what’s driving you to eat more than you need to.

Have you started the food journal yet? it’s really amazing when you see what you’ve been eating, in black and white in front of you. It’s easy to not think about it too much, the number of calories you’re eating. And once you do see it, at least for me anyway, you’ll get inspired to keep it up. And I think you’ll also realize you can eat well and not feel deprived or starved, and still keep your calorie intake at a reasonable level.

Ok, I think that’s enough for one day. And since I’m sharing, I’ll tell you my day today. (I started wearing a pedometer, that’ll be my next post)

breakfast: 2 cups coffee w/half n half, 1 C Kashi Go lean crunch cereal & 1 C almond milk

lunch: Healthy choice chicken tortilla soup w/whole wheat crackers & water

snack: 2 clementine oranges & air popped popcorn, hot herb tea

dinner: tex mex chicken chowder, tortilla chips & water

exercise: washing dishes, vacuuming, walking: 2miles, cooking (see, it all counts, really)

Now, I”m tired. My pedometer reads 5811 steps. My goal is 10,000 steps per day.

Next up, alcohol and pedometers. Yes, that means drunken pedometers. I’ll leave you to think on that! 😀

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Lifestyle Changes Day 2 – Swap and Drop

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, someone unplugged my charger and my battery went dead. Yes, MY battery, not my laptop battery. You know it’s really hard to concentrate when your brain has run out of batteries. Ask my daughter, she’ll tell you. That was her response when she got into trouble when she was about 5.

Ok, I’m back, charged up and ready to go. So, now that you’ve had a day to play with your food, well, the portions and dividing it up on your plate, how did you do? See, I told you it was easy. Did you do the whole ‘putting the fork down’ thing or the waiting to have seconds thing? Tell me about it.

That was the easy first step. The next few steps will take a little more, but you can totally do it. It doesn’t involve rocket science or higher math (thank God). What it does involve is reading and swapping. Can you read? Can you swap? Swap, trade for something, not shop. Well, it does involve counting too, I lied.

Here’s our next step: Reading the ingredient list on what you are eating, making lower calorie swaps for what you can, and counting the calories you consume. Yes, I said it: calorie counting. This is why I’m recommending calorie counting, not because I think you need the practice in higher math, but how can you really know what you’re consuming if you don’t add it all up? Basic physiology says calories in should = calories expended, otherwise, the extra calories will be stored as fat, which =expanding waistlines & behinds and those darned shrinking clothes. I know, I blamed it on the dryer gnomes, but in all honesty, they’ve likely had a little help from us. Myself included.

I think the best way to count your calories is to use a food journal or diary. When you write in it, be honest, this is for your eyes only and if you’re not honest with yourself, you will not succeed. There’s a great website where you can create an online food journal and track what you eat and drink and all of your exercise, including things like washing dishes, showering, house cleaning, and grocery shopping www.everydayhealth.com . Every bit of exercise you do daily will burn calories. The goal here is to burn off more than you consume, that is how you will lose weight. This website also has a smart phone app so you can do this on the go. You enter your height and weight and your goal weight. It will calculate what the calorie requirement is to either maintain, lose or gain weight. I know, not many people need help gaining weight, but this is a great tool. You should check it out and use it.

Once you get your profile set up and know how much you need on a daily basis, you can begin to do the reading part. Read the ingredient list on the food you are eating. For example, my box of Cheerios, a 1 cup serving is 100 calories. If you measure out your portion (come on, do it with me, it’s not that hard), you’ll see that a one cup serving is a good size portion, it is NOT  a full bowl. If you want to use a smaller bowl to appear to be fuller, go for it! I drink almond milk (can’t do cow’s milk, it’s really unpleasant, trust me) which is 60 calories for a one cup serving. If I start with 160 calorie breakfast, I’ve got a little room for something else, a piece of fruit, maybe some protein like cottage cheese or a string cheese for less than 100 calories, but good sources of protein and/or fiber.

I will tell you right up front, a lot of the foods that are ‘reduced fat’ or ‘fat free’, may not be as good for you as you might think. Read the ingredients carefully. Most of the time when they take out fat, they must substitute something else to make it still taste good, which is normally added sugars. so even though it may be reduced fat, or lower in calories, it’s not necessarily going to be better for you. You could simply stick with your original favorite, just use it more sparingly.

Now the swapping part. A super simple way to eliminate calories from your daily intake in a manner that you won’t even really miss them. How,you ask? Say you’re going to have a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Ok. If you look at your bread first, read how many calories are in a slice. Example: my bread is whole wheat bread (as yours should be as well, the least processed the better) and two slices of bread are 150 calories. You have some other options for your bread. The first is a thin sandwich bun. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but I really like them. You have a few choices as far as what they are, whole grain, whole wheat, etc. And they are 100 calories. There you’ve just shaved off 50 calories.  The other option is the thin sliced bread, as in Sara Lee’s Delightful, it’s essentially the same bread, sliced thinner and two slices are 90 calories= 60 calories shaved. How easy is that? Are you still with me?

Next, your condiments. I love mayo as much as anyone, what I don’t like are the added calories. A serving size of mayo is normally 1 tbsp for 90 calories. A serving of their ‘light’ mayo is still 60 calories for only 1 tbsp. Now, what if you subbed mustard for mayo on your ham and cheese sandwich? My favorite is the spicy brown mustard, it’s really very flavorful and a 1tsp serving is, are you ready? 5 calories. YES, 5 CALORIES. So, let’s add up. If you swap your regular whole wheat bread for the thin sliced bread, and mayo for mustard, you’ve just shaved off 115 to 145 calories (depending on which mayo you started with) without any pain at all! YIPPEE!! How easy is that? And I haven’t even gotten to the ham or the cheese yet! Oscar Mayer prepackaged deli sliced ham is in the neighborhood of 50 calories for 4 slices. And adding your cheese, prepackaged sliced Swiss cheese is 60 calories. Of course add some lettuce and baby carrots on the side and you’ve got a nice little lunch. let’s add, shall we? 90+5+50+60=205 calories. I didn’t count the carrots, in my mind, you can eat all the fresh fruits and veggies you want, they shouldn’t count against you because they contain fiber and vitamins & minerals. If you drink a calorie free drink, preferably water, you’re on your way to losing the weight you want to, and not feeling like you’re eating rabbit food.

One more thought to leave you with. One pound = 3500 calories.  Each type of food component has it’s own calorie count. Carbs=4 cal/gram. Fat & protein=9 cal/gram. The more fat you can cut from your diet, the more weight you will lose, in theory. Your body does need some fat for certain functions. But not the kind of fat that’s in a Big Mac. The best kind of fats are the kind you find in olive oil or avocados, or even nuts like pistachios or almonds.

Now that I’ve given you plenty to think about, I’ll save the whole water/soda thing for my next post.

Oh, and don’t forget to set up your food journal. It will really help you realize what you’re eating and feel accountable for what you’re consuming. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Lifestyle changes: Day 1 – Plate Geometry

My last post got some positive comments so, I’ll continue along the vein of changing lifestyle yield a new you! Not that the you you are right now isn’t great or anything, but if you’re tired of being tired, tired of the dryer gnomes shrinking your clothing when you’re not looking, tired of maybe feeling guilty for some habits that may not be the healthiest for you, let’s go! Let’s do it!

There are some simple changes you can make that will easily shave calories off your daily intake. And I feel I must tell you, small changes can yield great results, so if you’re not interested in making changes for a healthier life, come back in a few months and we’ll be over the hump.

The first thing you need to do doesn’t even involve buying food at all. It has everything to do with your dishes. The dishes you eat on specifically. Here’s a question for ya. When you have a big plate, what do you do? Load it up, right? I mean you’ve got all that space for food, there should be something on every inch of your plate, right? Right? Well, wrong actually. Now what I want you to do is use kid’s plates or salad plates. You’re about to use the Jedi mind trick on your own brain! It’s true, studies have shown that when you use a smaller plate, you will get smaller portions, but because of the proportions needed to make a smaller plate look full, you’re tricking your brain into thinking you’ve got this great big plate of food!

Next up, mentally divide your plate in to fourths. On half of the plate, you should have your veggies. Yes, HALF of the plate and I’ll explain it in a minute, just go with me here. In the remaining half, half goes a starch or a fruit, and half is your protein. Got that? One fourth protein, one fourth starch/fruit, and half veggies. When you are considering a portion size for protein, your lean protein (boneless/skinless chicken, lean red meat, fish) should only be 2-4 oz, approximately the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards, not the size of your own head or a football/basketball.

When you combine fiber and protein, as in fruits/veggies and your lean protein source, you feel fuller longer because it takes longer to digest them together. Which means you get the benefit of the fiber in your digestive tract to enhance, ahem, movement, as well as helping you feel full.

The second thing you need to do is turn it off… the tv I mean. Another question for you. How many times have you been on the couch watching a movie, munching on potato chips or something in a bag, and before you even have a clue what’s going on, you’re suddenly at the bottom of the bag and going ‘oh crap. I so didn’t mean to eat all of that!’? When you are sitting in front of the tv eating, it’s a mindless kind of thing, you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing or eating. So, here’s my next suggestion: turn off the tv while you are eating, and eat *gasp* at the dining table! I know, I know. Back in my single girl days, the dining tabel was for folding clothes, or catching stuff, not eating. No way, eating was done on the couch, in front of the tv. If you are paying attention to what you are eating and savoring it and actually tasting what’s going into your mouth, you will eat it slower. Got that? Turn off the tv while you’re eating, but you should also not be reading or doing anything else while you’re eating, it’s no different than the tv thing. If you have a signficant other, or children, have a nice meal and talk about your day or current events, or what Susie Jackson wore to school. If there are children involved, not only will it give you good time together without distractions, it will help them learn healthy eating habits as well, since you are their greatest role model.

Next, this one is really tough. My friend whom I’m doing this with has a real habit to work on. She said when she eats, it’s like she’s on a deadline and she has to get it done as fast as possible. My hubby is the same way. He sits down to eat and there are times when I think he hasn’t chewed at all and it’s gone. It’s almost a race sometimes w/him and our son. Well, my son isn’t racing, but hubby is done with his second helping before son is done with his first. I remind my boy that he is the normal one! Here’s what I want you to do: put the fork down and no one will get hurt. Seriously, lay the fork down between bites. Take your time chewing your food. this will help in a couple of ways. The more you chew your food, the better digestion will be, as the food will be broken down even farther in your mouth from the action of your teeth and the digestive enzymes in your saliva. And you will eat slower. Eating slower gives your stomach the time it needs to get the message to your brain. Even though it’s a short distance between your stomach and your brain, it takes nearly 20 minutes to get from tummy to brain. How many times have you finished your first helping, still felt hungry and gotten a second, only to feel overfull when you’re done? That’s because the first round happened too fast to let the message make it’s long trek.

Ok, my friends, what do you think? Is that enough to get you started on your way to the lifestyle changes? Ok great! I’ll save the rest for my following posts. We can do it!

Here’s what I did today:

Breakfast: coffee x2, two cranberry walnut scones that I made, 1/2C kashi Go Lean cereal w/1/2C almond milk.

Lunch: Healthy Request chicken noodle soup, whole wheat crackers & water.

Snack: two clementine oranges, a handful of pistachios and hot herbal tea.

dinner tonite is at Fuddrucker’s, but I”m going to have a grilled chicken sandwich.

I also walked 1.8 miles with my friend.

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