Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Lifestyle Changes: Day 13 – Don’t Forget to Balance Your Checkbook

I know you’re reading that title and thinking ‘wha?’ Just in case you haven’t figured out just yet, I like to use analogies and plays on words. I keep finding subjects to post on just in conversations with friends and things I see on a daily basis. In other words, I can’t keep my fingers shut!

What do I mean by ‘balancing your checkbook’? No, I’m not referring to your actual checkbook. Heck, I haven’t balanced mine in years. I just look at the online account balance and the bill pay to know what’s going on and I’m good to go. Is it perfect? hardly. There have been some ‘OH CRAP’ moments when my balance was suddenly lower than I thought it should be. SQUIRREL!

Oh. Sorry. I can be a bit distractable at times. I was talking with my bestie Lisa the other day, who’s doing this with me. She has been very diligent in keeping track of what she’s eating on a daily basis and working on the portion-sizing/plate geometry, well, all of it. She told me that she’d gone over by 200 calories for the day and she was unhappy about it. That was when I asked her if she’d accounted for all of her activity during the day. She looked at me and perked up. When you don’t account for what’s going out, how can you really know what’s going on? You must keep track of outflow, as well as inflow to get a true picture of what you’ve done an any given day.

And when you’re tracking your outflow (calories burned), don’t skip over things like house cleaning or grocery shopping because they totally count. If you are up and moving around, it counts. Obviously, some activities are going to be more labor intensive. Walking through the grocery store may not burn as many calories as vacuuming your house from top to bottom, but you still need to count it in your daily activity. I know, who wants to vacuum from top to bottom?  Certianly not me. I get my kids to do it whenever I can, even if bribery is involved. But, it’s really a twofer: you get exercise, and your house gets clean. And who doesn’t feel better when their house is clean? The cleaning part itself? Well, not so much, but the end result makes me happy.

So, when you’re walking the dog, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, showering even, write it in your journal. If you are using one of the online calorie-tracker/food journals, they probably have an exercise portion. The one at http://www.everydayhealth.com does. it has the calories burned per half hour, and you can alter it if you did 15 min instead of 30. I mean, really, I don’t know when the last time was that I had a 30 min shower, I’m normally out of hot water way before then, but 15 is more realistic.

If all you have time for is 10 minutes of real exercise, do it. And do it as often as you can. Say you’ve got 10 spare minutes in the morning, do some jumping jacks, squats, push ups, anything that is quick and easy. then do it again later in the day another time or two if you can. Stand up while checking your email. Anything you can do to have that overage, that difference between calories consumed and calories burned. Remember, 3500 calories equals one pound. The more you burn off daily, will add up to that 3500 calories, it is a cumulative thing.

Now I ask you, what’s your plan for tomorrow?

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Lifestyle Changes Day 8 – No Couch Potatoes Allowed

Agh. Today was really tough. I’m fighting some sinus junk and I”m not a happy camper right now. I’ve been saying this for over a year now, we really need to get Mother Nature a date with Father Time, she has been really cranky lately! Our weather has gone from one extreme to the other, and sometimes in a day! Last Sunday it was 70 here. Monday the high was ‘almost’ 40 with a wicked wind. See what I mean? It’s no wonder my head is full of goo.

I did start my day with my Quick & Easy Power Breakfast today. I was thinking, you can easily knock off 50 to 100 calories simply by using fewer slices of ham (I normally use 2) and leave off the cheese. Or use all egg whites rather than one whole and one white. You could do it on a sandwich thin and have it for lunch too.

I did walk about a mile today with my bestie. I think she was happy b/c I was slower and it was an easier pace. I made sure to include plenty of hot herb tea and chicken soup today. I encourage you if you’re not feeling well, do be sure and eat, even if you don’t feel like it, you have to keep up your strength, ya know. How is your body’s microscopic army supposed to fight the invaders w/o any fuel?

Ok, so, you know how important exercise is in this overall scheme, right? I’m going to share something that totally sounds counterintuitive, but it’s 100% true: when you exercise, you get more energy. I know, right? sounds kind of opposite of what you’d think, but when you get your metabolism up, you get energized. And when you build muscle mass, that’s even better b/c the muscle takes more energy to operate than the fat tissue

Another reason exercise is important, the disks, the cushions between your bones, don’t have their own blood supply and get their nutrition from movement. Have you ever been to a movie that’s oh, say, 2hrs +? You try to get up from your seat and you’re a bit slow, right? Yeah, me too. But once you get moving, you’re ok. Part of it is because the movement is what lubricates the joints. That includes your spine (there are 22 bones plus the disks between them) and your knees in particular, without movement, they get stiff, and actually can begin to compress and lose their springiness. Yes, that’s an actual word, I promise.

My challenge to you, the next time you say, ‘I can’t because I”m sore.’ get out there anyway and just do something for 10 minutes and I think you’ll find you will feel better. And then you can do 10 more minutes! Just remember to breathe and drink plenty of water! Oh, and another thing, find little ways to get more movement into your day. Example: when drying your hair (if you use a blow dryer), spread your feet just beyond shoulder-width, toes pointing out, squat down as far as you can comfortably, and come back up, squeezing your glutes at the top. It will help tighten your glutes as well as burn off a few more calories when you’d otherwise just be standing there. Or, when you’re in the kitchen, waiting for something in the microwave, do a few counter push ups. Stand far enough back from the counter that you have about a 50 degree angle between your body and the countertop when your hands are on the edge. Gently lower your body to the counter top and push yourself back up. If it’s too difficult, step closer in and try again. If at any point doing any of these exercises, you experience pain, stop what you’re doing. whoever said ‘no pain, no gain’ was a complete moron. No pain means you’re doing it correctly. Sore muscles after, well, that’s a different case altogether.

Alright my friends, let’s see how tomorrow goes, shall we? I hope I’m feeling better, this nose running, not being able to breathe stuff really sucks.

How is it going for you? If you’re playing along, do share how it’s working for you and what you’ve been successful with and what you’ve altered to work better for you.

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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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