Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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I Won’t Lie…..

Wow. Happy New Year! The new year is always a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I’m happy b/c it’s a shiny new year, full of promise. Goals to reach. Milestones. Adventures. And on the other hand, I really love the festivities of Christmas and packing it all away, makes my home seem dull.

My last post I shared with you my new challenge. I gave up grains/sugar/alcohol. I won’t lie. It was difficult at first. This gal loves her pretzels/popcorn/crackers/bread. Within a couple of weeks I really noticed some changes. My clothes fit better. I slept straight through the night, none of the random waking up for no reason, unable to get back to sleep. My cranky knee and tummy troubles were gone. Unbelievable! It seemed I dropped upwards of 10lbs simply by making those changes.

Then Christmas happened. I thought, what could happen if I have just a little? Have you ever tried to eat just one chip? Just one cracker? Yeah, it so does not work. My one cheat one day lead to cheats every day. While I have not packed on all of the lbs, I have noticed a return to many of the issues I had previously. The cranky knee, cranky. Tummy troubles, boo. Random 3AM waking, yep, that too.

And while it is not easy, I am determined to get back to that state of well being. Sometimes, we have to realize that health is not simply the absence of disease, but all body systems functioning at maximum capacity and if those systems are battling within themselves, they cannot operate as they were designed to do. While I did not completely go overboard on my cheats, a few here and there have made their differences known. I will make alterations to my menu, and feel better for it.

If you are considering making changes to your life to better your health, don’t hold back, and don’t give up. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on.

http://www.wheatbelly.com

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A New and Daunting Challenge

Hello my friends. Yes, I have been M.I.A. of late, and I really do hate that. I haven’t forgotten about you. Life gets crazy sometimes, I’m sure you can relate. Thankfully, it’s the good kind of crazy. Kids growing up, work busy, life busy. Just the usual.

This new and daunting challenge. What is it? You’re asking. If you’ve been with me for a bit, you know I love to cook, and eat. And one of my most favorite things to cook is, well, indulgences in the form of cookies and pastas. I have a friend, a former classmate, who is a natural health care practitioner in California. She has been sharing information with her friends and patients about not just the gluten-free lifestyle, but a grain-free lifestyle. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I said. I’m fine. I’m perfectly healthy. Except when I try on the jeans I haven’t worn in a while and they’re more snug than ever. Hmmm. I guess I’ve been naughtier than i thought.

So, about three weeks ago, I decided to give this whole grain-free lifestyle a go. I thought, I’ll just do it for a week and see what happens, right? What’s the worst that can happen? I certainly won’t be hurting myself by eliminating these things. Let me preface this by saying I’m a girl who loves pretzels, tortilla chips, popcorn, cheez its and freshly baked bagels. I am a bread loving girl of the worst sort. Whenever I’d buy a loaf from a local market, I literally could not stop eating until I hated myself for it. My favorite, a crusty batard with whole cloves of roasted garlic baked inside. Mmmm. This is something that was difficult for me to envision or attempt. I mean, how do you have PB&J w/o bread? How do you eat salsa without chips?

Yes, it was tough, I won’t lie. I eliminated all grains, including oats, quinoa, wheat in any form, as well as sugar and alcohol. I’m not a huge drinker (a glass of wine or two maybe a couple of times a wk) but alcohol alters the way your body metabolizes and uses calories from food.

At the end of this first week, I noticed my clothes were fitting better. Hm, I thought. That’s a good thing. Ok, let’s see what happens if I continue this. I had already been eating eggs for breakfast, and many times my lunch was grain free, cottage cheese and fruit or grilled chicken, or whatever we had leftover from dinner the night before. But when I got home from work, I’d go for my favorite snack of air popped pop corn, or pretzel chips w/hummus or cheez its. Finding different snacks has been an adventure, to say the least.

An interesting note. Maybe a week in, on a whim, I grabbed a couple of cheez its from the pantry. Just for grins, ya know? I have to tell you I was really surprised that they didn’t taste good to me any more. Not even remotely. They tasted fake and plastic. Seriously. Right? I was shocked too.

I am here to tell you, if you are experiencing health issues, such as diabetes, IBS, reflux, arthritis, or maybe just a general feeling of bleh, you really should look into this. The book “Wheat Belly’ was written by a cardiologist and gives very detailed information on how wheat, and grains, affect the body. He’s also come up with recipes, even for baking, that are grain free.

My daughter who is 11, is not keen on this ‘diet’. I told her that I don’t look at this as a ‘diet’ but a lifestyle. It’s me working to get really, truly healthy and to me, the word ‘diet’ has a negative connotation, as well as sounding like a short-term proposition. My family has not totally jumped on board with me on this adventure, but I am easing them into it. My biggest challenge for them right now is finding a suitable lunch replacement for their PB&J sammies.

I am now three weeks into this lifestyle, and I’m down around 10lbs. I say ‘around’ because I don’t own a scale, I’m basing this on how my clothes are fitting me now. My favorite jeans that I was completely unable to button before I began, I can wear now. Losing the lbs is not the only benefit I’ve noticed. I sleep better. I used to wake up randomly, in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep for a while. Not now. I have one knee that had been getting crankier with each passing month. Not any more. I had been having some intestinal disturbances on a regular basis. Not now. The mid afternoon nap that I always wanted because I was exhausted when I got home from work, yeah, that’s not an issue anymore since my energy levels have returned to a more normal level. I aim to drink close to a gallon of water a day (not all at once, but during the day) and I have made it a priority to move more. Just walking, nothing major. Rather than sitting at my desk at lunch, I walk between 15&20 minutes. And that’s the biggest thing. I’m 40-something, but I don’t want to look or feel it. Some things I don’t have control over, but those that I do, I want to make work for me as long as I can, and if it means not eating something that is truly detrimental to my health, I’m all about it.

If you’d like to learn more about what I’m doing, and how it might help you feel better, check it out. I would really encourage anyone who is dealing with autoimmune issues, weight, or any number of other problems to just take a look. Check out the book and read for yourself.

http://www.wheatbelly.com

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Lifestyle Changes: Day 12 – The Weight is Over

I know, I know, the whole pun thing, I can’t seem to stop it. Or is that considered a double entendre? I have no idea, but it sounded clever. In my feeble mind.

I was reading a facebook post yesterday from a friend’s brother and thought it would make a good post for us today, since I really haven’t talked about it. Are you sitting down? Take a deep breath because I’m going to say it. Are you ready? Scales. And I don’t mean the kind you get in your bathroom tile from hard water. I’m referring to the kind you step on and then throw out the window in a fit of rage when you see the number staring you in the face. Or the one you step on, see the number, and then turn the little dial so it’s 20-30-50lbs lighter. That scale.

I will tell you up front, I do not own one. I get on the scale once a year at my doctor’s office. Rather than using a scale to judge my weight, I use the fit of my clothes. In particular, my favorite jeans that make my butt look like gravity hasn’t begun to take effect. Even though I totally blame the dryer trolls for turning up the heat and shrinking my clothes, there’s a little voice in my head telling me I really shouldn’t have had that second slice of supreme Chicago-style pizza. Boo. But it tasted sooooo good. Great, now my mouth is watering.

If you own a scale, this is what you should do. Don’t chuck it out the window, or turn the little dial. Use it as a tool, but don’t obsess over it. Your weight can vary by up to 3 lbs from day to day, simply from water, what you’ve eaten, etc. So you’ve been working hard, eating well, getting more exercise, and step on the scale only to see you’re a pound or three higher than yesterday, or even the same. What could possibly be more discouraging? Or misleading?

This is how to use your scale in your efforts to lose weight: Weigh yourself at the same time of day, the same day of the week, wearing the same clothes (your birthday suit will help you remember). And only do it on that day, say Friday. That will give you a more consistent view of what your weight is. You’re doing it this way for a couple of reasons. If you do it the same day every week, it will be easier to remember. And if your brain is like mine, I’ll take all the help I can get in that department. If you do it at the same time of day, your body will be in the same state of hormone production, etc. because your weight can fluctuate throughout the day.

Take your weight and use it as a baseline, a guideline, so you know where you are starting from and can better plan where you’re going. Seriously, don’t obsess over it. Oh, I just remembered something else, when first getting on the scale, make sure it’s balanced, meaning the little line straight on the ‘0’. My bestie, Lisa, nearly had a heart attack last week when she got on a scale for the first time in a long time. She was shocked and really disappointed in the number staring back at her. Later that day, her boy who’s nearly 11, got on the scale and said, ‘Mom? I think there’s something wrong.’ It was weighing him at almost 120lbs. Um, yeah, he’s maybe 80lbs. That was when she checked and found the error in the scale. Whew. that was a quick way to lose 50lbs, but not good for the nerves!

Remember a few more things. Like my friend’s brother said, he had been working hard, eating well and getting exercise and was discouraged to see he’d only dropped 2lbs. I’d take that any ole day. Here’s the thing, you didn’t gain it all at once and you can’t possibly lose it all at once, 1-2lbs a week is a realistic goal to make it go away and stay away for good. When you drop significant amounts quickly, you are setting yourself up for the yo-yo ride. Your brain has to reset itself to your new weight. Meaning, your body has something almost like a thermostat with a set point. have you been hovering around the same weight for a long time? It’s because of that set point. when you lose weight, your body is going to try to get back to that set point, which is why losing it slowly works better. You have to stay at a weight for a period of time to reset that switch in your brain. Be patient with yourself, and just keep it up.

Oh, and one more thing. If you’ve been diligent about your exercise and eating habits, your clothes are fitting you better, but you get on the scale and it doesn’t show any loss, don’t give up. Muscle tissue is heavier and more dense than fat tissue. What the scale is telling you is that you’ve been building muscle which is a good thing and what we’re going for. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. that is one time when the scale will really deceive you and you have to take all things into consideration, don’t simply go by what the scale is telling you.

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Lifestyle Changes Day 11 – Water Water Everywhere

No, unfortunately, I don’t live on a beach, I would so live on an island if my hubby didn’t think he’d feel ‘claustrophobic’ (I know, I know) on an island. No matter how many times I tell him the island is bigger than the little circle he normally lives in. Oh well.

Where was I? Oh, right. Water. I know you’ve seen the recommendations to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. The question is, how many of you can actually do it? some times you have to drink whether you feel thirsty or not, especially if it’s not something you’re in the habit of doing. You HAVE to drink water. It’s time for your daily physiology lesson. I know, it’s Monday, but your body doesn’t care what day it is, does it?

In case you missed some of those really cool commercials a few years back, the human body is made up of approximately 75-80% water as babies, and declines throughout life, to between 50 and 65%. Now that you know that, it shouldn’t surprise you that need to replenish it. A lot. Every day. In fact, water is so important to life, the human body can go nearly a week, maybe even a bit more without food and still survive. Water, that’s a completely different story. After only three days of no water consumption, organ systems begin to shut down. Sheesh, I know, sorry to be Debbie Downer here, I just want you to know how incredibly important it is in the grand scheme, including your weight loss goals and your new lifestyle changes. Your mom and your doctor had good reason to  make you drink more water.

Fred, if you’re reading this, I mean you too. I don’t care how smart you think you are, you still have to drink water. And no. Soda does NOT count. I’ll get to that in a moment. The human body is a truly amazing adaptable machine. Do you change the oil in your car on a regular basis? Of course, you do. Now if you’re doing that, I like to think you’re at least taking as good of care of your body as you are your rusting hulk of metal sitting in that parking space. Why do you change the oil? To keep everything running smoothly, right? Because if you don’t the gooey trolls will come and gum up everything and your car won’t go anymore. Or if it does, it sounds really bad.

That’s what water does for your body, it keeps everything running smoothly. Our brains are nearly 85% water. Blood, 95% water. NINETY FIVE PERCENT! So….if you have only had a single glass of water in a day or two, do you think that might make your blood get all kind of sticky and hard to move? Yeah, you’re right if you’re thinking syrup. It won’t get to the molasses stage til later.

Not only does it help your brain work better and your blood move better, it helps your body rid itself of toxins (both liquid and, ahem, solid form), it keeps things moving smoothly (wink wink), it will help suppress your appetite, especially when consumed before a meal. Water will help your skin stay hydrated and prevent you from becoming bloated. Well, let me explain the whole bloated thing because it’s really a twofer. By keeping things ‘moving smoothly’, it helps prevent the dread stomach bloat. You know what I’m talking about too. Don’t pretend you don’t. It’s what you had after eating all of those heavy, fat-laden foods over the holidays and not enough fiber. The ‘other’ bloat I was referring to was in your fingers, maybe even your face, and you may find yourself the proud new owner of cankles. Water is a very precious thing to your body and it will do whatever it must to hang onto what it has, particularly when it senses it is not receiving enough to sustain itself, resulting in swollen fingers/cankles/face. What I want you to do the next time you are a bit puffy and think you’re ‘retaining water’, drink more water, that is the problem. You definitely shouldn’t cut down on it. Ever.

Soda, tea, coffee. Yes, I love them too. And after reading this I hope you will really, seriously consider if not cutting out, really truly cutting them back. I’ll start with soda. Any soda, any kind, is bad for you, for so many more reasons than you already know, but choose not to pay attention to. There, I said it. Yes, you already know about all the extra added calories you add to  your day just by drinking a 12 oz coke, 144 calories, or 196 calories for a 16oz bottle. I just did a little math, one 12 oz can a day during the work week is an additional 720 calories, and you didn’t even eat anything. Oh and the sugar equivalent of the contents of the 12 oz coke is ten teaspoons. Yes, you just read that correctly, TEN teaspoons. At any point in your life would you just sit at the table and eat 10 teaspoons of sugar? Ok, maybe when you were about 7, but now? Yeah, I thought not. Don’t get me wrong, I do have an occasional soda, but it’s just that: occasional.

Here’s the other part of what soda does to your body: it alters your blood chemistry. What? I know, I know, bear with me, I promise I’m not going too deep on the science terminology. Just know that when you drink soda, diet, regular or otherwise, it prevents your body from absorbing many minerals from your diet, including calcium. In fact, it’s even been known to leach it from your bones. Well, the soda doesn’t leach it from your bones, your body’s trying to balance the effects of the phosphoric acid and it pulls calcium from the bones, or something like that. Wanna go have a soda now? Me neither.

And don’t think you’re being any better if you’re drinking sweet tea. That has historically been a southern thing, but it seems to have spread recently and I don’t know why. I can’t stand it. I like my tea au naturale, well with some ice, but no sugar. I love my iced tea, as well as my coffee, sadly, they are both (as is sugary soda) diuretics, meaning they cause your body to throw off  more fluid, which is not good.

Ok, I know this has been long and I so appreciate you sticking with me thru the whole physio class today. I hope you have learned something and really take into consideration next time you choose a drink, something that will do your body good. I do have a suggestion, or two, for you. First of all, cut down immediately, and work toward completely eliminating soda from your diet. And next, add more water. One way I like to suggest for ppl to add water, for each glass of tea or coffee, drink at least that much water before drinking more tea or coffee. If you are drinking caffeine free herbal tea, that is as good as water in my book. As far as I know, it’s not a diuretic and you can even find some that are naturally sweet just because of what they’re made of.

Ok my friends, I really hope you begin to add more water to  your life and make the other drinks an occasional thing.

So, my next question, feedback, what’s working for you?

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Lifestyle Changes Day 9 – Reading Lesson

So here we are my friends. we’ve tackled plate geometry, calorie counting, exercise, and many other topics. One thing I realized I haven’t shared with you all is a reading lesson. I’m hoping you know how already, since you’ve been reading my page!

When choosing foods, you have to read the nutrition facts. I know I know, more of that boring stuff. But I’m here to tell you, it will help, really it will. If you want to make your goals, you have to read the portion size, calorie content and the ingredient list. Sometimes it’s gonna actually require measuring your portion, like with cereal. I heard that. I just heard what you said and I can hear what you’re thinking too. ‘aw man, really? why can’t I just pour the cereal in the bowl already?’ Ok, just like I tell my daughter, you are not the only one doing it, I’m doing it too. Seriously, I just had my measuring cup out to pour my cereal. The reason, what you think the portion size is, I’m guessing, isn’t quite what it really is. The portion size of your favorite cereal (mine is Cheerios, yellow box), just for example, is probably one cup, not one BOWL. What? Yes, I said it, you don’t fill the whole bowl, although my brother used to think that was his portion size, repeatedly.

Portion size is key in the goal to lose weight. If you eat twice as much as the listed portion size, you’re obviously going to be getting more calories than you want. The other part of the nutrition label you have to pay attention to is the size. Yes I said it again. Why? because you can’t simply read the calorie part. Sometimes you look at just the calorie count and don’t really see the size. It could be 150 calories, but the portion size might only be 1/2 C and without knowing that, you may inadvertently double your intake because, let’s face it, 1/2C of pasta isn’t much. And even though you think it’s something healthy, until you read the facts, you don’t really know. Case in point. A friend of mine was eating some really delicious ‘all natural’ granola clusters. She let me try one, and yes, they were really delish, but the serving size was 1/4C I think, and it had over 300 calories. She hadn’t read the fine print, only the part that said it was all natural and healthy. And while it may have been all natural, it was loaded with sugar and extra calories. I’m just saying, don’t be fooled by the outside of the package.

So, really, just take a moment before making your choice and really read the label so you know what you’re eating.

Now to the ingredient list. They’re not always really what they present on the package. You know the words ‘reduced fat’, ‘light’, ‘good source of fiber’ or whatever they want to put on it, can be a bit misleading. Now I’m going to give you another reading lesson. When you are looking at the listing of ingredients, they are in descending order of prominence in the product. For example, if sugar, of any kind, is listed second on the list, orfirst, that food is not necessarily going to be the best choice. Caveat: things like Wheaties, a regular player in my cereal cabinet, I believe sugar is listed second, but when you look at the nutrition label, and the total sugars for each portion size, it’s only in the neighborhood of 4g. If you want to convert that into a relatable portion size, that’s approximately 1 teaspoon.  when you weigh the benefits of the fiber and other health benefits of the cereal, a single teaspooon of sugar isn’t a deal breaker. That said, when sugar is the second ingredient out of a short list and on the nutrition panel you see 15g, or even more, sugars, that’ going to be one you want to avoid. A 12oz can of Cola has approximately 22g of sugar.

What I’m getting at is essentially the thought that knowledge is power. In order to make the best choices for your new healthy lifestyle, you have to know exactly what you’re choosing.

Today is a bit better, thanks for asking. Tomorrow, I”m going to share my suggestions for saving money, and still eating well.

Let me hear from you, what’s working for you, not working for you. Have you tried any of my recipes?

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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 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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Skinny tacos?

Well, maybe I should call them ‘skinnier’ tacos. As in thinner than their all beef counter parts. So, here we are in the new year and everyone is all ‘I’m going to lose weight’ or “I’m going to duct tape my mouth shut’ or ‘I’m never eating anything cooked/fried/dead’.  Right. I’ll get right on it.

Forget all that nonsense I say! don’t make ridiculous statements that you can never live up to. Then you feel bad and dive head first into a pint of Blue Bell to soothe your guilt. Don’t set goals for yourself that are unattainable or over the top. If you truly do want to lose weight/diet/change your life, you have to start with the idea that you are changing your habits and life style. NOT diet. That is the word you have to eliminate from your vocabulary all together. Why? There are a couple of reasons that should be simple to remember: 1. ‘diet’ is a four-letter word. What did your mom tell you about saying those? and 2. The first three letters of the word are ‘d-i-e’. Now tell me, which of those sound like good vocabulary to use when you are trying to set and reach goals? Neither in my book. ‘Diet’ has a negative connotation to it and in my book = deprivation, no fun, eating rabbit food and cardboard. And, well, ‘die’, I think that one is self explanatory.

My suggestion? Hmm, I actually have many and if you’d like, we can work on some lifestyle changes together to achieve these goals. but first, my suggestion is to change the words you’re using initially. You don’t say or think ‘I’m going on a diet’. Who wants to set themselves up for failure? it’s a tough thing to stick to or live by. Here’s what you need to think/say, ‘I’m changing my habits and life style.’ That gives you much more flexibility in what you’re doing and people will be more willing to support you, I think. It sounds serious, like you’re in it for the long haul, which you need to be, if you want to make long-lasting change.

Am I a diet guru? Nope. A life-style expert? Nope, not that either. What I am, is more educated than the average bear and wiling to share what I know. Here’s my backstory: 1991, I”m 24 and get on the scale at the dr’s office. My eyes nearly explode out of my head when I see the numbers on there. I knew I’d put on a few lbs, but not that many! I hadn’t ever thought I’d hit that number unless I was preggo. And I knew for sure I was not preggo then. What did I do? I drastically altered my lifestyle. Notice I didn’t use the four letter word? I eliminated all of the processed/fried/fatty foods that were favorites of mine and instead went for fresh fruits and veggies, grilled/baked chicken, lean meats and proteins and I began to exercise on a regular basis. Granted, I had higher metabolism back then, but in the first month of my new lifestyle, I dropped 10lbs. That was all the inspiration I needed to keep it up. I ultimately lost more than 25lbs and have managed to keep it off for 20 yrs. Only in the past yr have I noticed my pants slowly getting tighter. yes, the holidays are difficult, which is inspiring me to get back into my good habits, i.e. eating better and exercising more and on a regular basis. And I have a friend to do it with who will keep me accountable, and I will do the same for her. Not make her feel bad if she slips, but to support her and help her get back if she does. And she’ll do that for me as well.

Today I had an idea. My kids wanted tacos for dinner. While they’re delicious, they may not necessarily be the healthiest thing ever. My kids won’t do chicken tacos, so it’s always ground beef. I had some browned ground beef in the freezer, probably only half of what the recipe called for. I took a can of black beans, drained them, heated them in the microwave and smashed them as best as I could, then added them to the ground beef. Yummy! It gave the ground beef a creamy texture, as well as giving us added fiber and protein, and it stretched my beef in a healthy way. And guess who was completely clueless about the addition that I snuck in? yep, they had no idea and chowed down!

Here it is again in short hand:

Skinnier beef tacos

1/2lb lean ground beef browned, and drained

1 envelope taco seasoning

1 can (15oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

taco toppings/shells/tortillas/etc that you prefer

1. After browning and draining the ground beef well, put it in a skillet and follow prep instructions on the packet of taco seasoning.

2. Place black beans in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 1:30. Smash with a spoon as best you can and add to ground beef. Stir well.

3. Serve as you normally do and enjoy, knowing that you have increased your fiber intake and gotten one over on your family! Unless of course, your spouse sees it and asks ‘are there beans in the meat?’ like mine did. But he was totally ok with it, and said he liked it even better!

Enjoy! If you are interested in lifestyle info, please to let me know and I’ll gladly share my knowledge.

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