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 10 – How to Snack on the Cheap

It is my biggest downfall. Snacking. Some days, the snack monster is following me around from dawn til dusk, forcing me to eat those cookies, or crackers. Really, it is. Others, not so much. I have no idea why the difference, but it’s there. Maybe on the days the monster’s not with me, my secret ninja skills scare it away! Right.

Anyway, snacking in and of itself, it not necessarily a bad thing. What you eat matters almost as much as how much. My issue,well, I love to cook. Tell me, what do cooks do? Yep, they sample the food. Ever heard the phrase ‘never trust a skinny chef’? I mean really, who wants to serve something that tastes bad? Nevermind the fact that sometimes I’m sampling the pretzel from the pantry, or a cookie from the box as I’m making the salad and grilled chicken. Bottom line, every bite you take adds up to your daily calorie allotment and when you’re ahem, sampling as you’re cooking, especially if it’s something you really love, you could’ve already had a portion by the time you get to the table and not even realize it. No, maybe not the protein, it’d be hard to eat half a chicken breast and not know it. But mashed potatoes? Oh yeah, they go down so easily! Yummm.

My solution? To not do it. Period. To not sample the food as I’m cooking. We are all friends here, I have no secrets from you (that you know! wink wink), but that’s my bad habit I have to change. I have to tell you though, I really do believe that snacking a bit during the day will help you not be so hungry you’re ready to chew the finish off the table at dinner, therefore help you stay on course with your portion control. What happens when you skip a meal, like breakfast or lunch? The next time you eat, let me guess, anything that’s not nailed down is fair game, right? I thought so. Me too. In order to prevent this from happening, a well planned and thought out snack is a great solution.

Something for you to chew on (pun totally intended), the next time you think you’re feeling a bit snackish, drink a full glass of water first. A fun physiology fact. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you are actually thirsty, but your body’s sending the signals, but they’re really not very clear. Have you ever had a pet hamster or gerbil? Many animals like those get much of their daily water through their food: lettuce, carrots, etc. But for some reason, our brains get all discombobulated and think it’s a hunger signal when it’s really a thirst signal. Before you grab that bag of whatever, down that glass of water, and wait 10 minutes or so, and do something else. If you still feel hungry, I mean really feel hungry, not just think you’re hungry, then have a snack. Not just eating because you’re bored and there’s nothing else going on. Only eat when your body tells you it’s hungry. If you’re like most people, you have not really listened to your body’s cues in a while, you get on a clock or in a habit of doing something.

Now, my suggestion for snacking on the cheap? Oh, that’s easy. Super easy, in fact. You’ve seen the 100 calorie packs all over the grocery store shelves and commercials. Can I let you in on a secret? That stuff is crazy expensive for the quantity you get. It may be 8 packages that are maybe 1.2 oz  for a grand total of  9.6 oz (I’m totally winging this part), but a regular box of those cheese its/pretzels/whatever is going to be more in the neighborhood of 15 to 16 oz and cost pretty close to the same amount. Maybe a bit more, but you’re getting more. This is what you need to do: Spend a couple of hours on the weekend making your own 100 calorie packs. Get a box of snack bags. Then buy your favorite snack, goldfish, cheese its, whatever and read the label. It will tell you 23 crackers = 130 calories, or whatever, you can do higher math, right? Or at least own a calculator? See, you break it down and see how many of those whatever-it-is-you-love add up to 100 calories, put them in the plastic snack bags. Make enough to have them handy to grab on your way out the door during the week. Heck, get the kids involved, help them learn healthy portions too. I mean they are watching what you do and learning how they are supposed to behave, the earlier we start teaching them healthy eating habits the better. Do the same thing with baby carrots, celery or whatever else you like to snack on, apples, bananas (well, obviously you don’t want to put them in baggies, but keep them handy and where you ‘ll see them), etc. Buy some small containers and put a single serving of cottage cheese in it, or hummus, other great healthy snacks. The best snacks are the ones that include protein and fiber, which digest slower and keep you feeling fuller longer. Cottage cheese w/a sprinkling of garlic pepper and baby carrots (my fave light lunch), nut butter and an apple or celery, hummus and veggies, pretzels, string cheese, reduced fat yogurt.

I can’t believe I nearly forgot, when I”m home, my absolute fave munchy crunchy snack: air popped popcorn. Straight outta the popper, bare, naked. It’s really yum and incredibly low in calories for the volume you can eat. Oh? Do I have your attention now? Three cups, yes, you read that correctly THREE CUPS popped is less than 100 calories! If you want to add some taste, you can get some flavor sprinkles (our fave is white cheddar) I use an oil mister with olive oil, squirting a really fine mist of olive oil on it, sprinkle the cheddar and shake it all around. You get the good flavor, but way fewer calories than the regular kind. Oh, one more thing, it’s cheaper too! The 100 calorie packs of microwave popcorn, they’re about $4 for a box of 6. But a bottle of Orville (the best I’ve found so far) popcorn kernels that makes a TON, is about $5. I mean really? I’m a tightwad by nature so it’s a no-brainer for me, on both sides, calorie-wise and cost effectiveness.

Of course fruit is a great grab and go snack and you have different selections during the year. Like right now, clementines are in season and I love love love them! They are so cute and tiny and easy to peel, they just like a really fresh burst of summer. You know why fruit is great, so I”m not even going to tell you how low cal it is and how you can eat two apples or three clementines or a large banana for your 100-120 calorie snack. Or that the fiber in them helps you ‘go’ more often like you’re supposed to. Or that the fiber in fruit can help lower cholesterol.

If you have purged your kitchen (like I hope you have), keep these healthy options at hand and in view, so when you get the munchy-crunchies, you’ll see those clementines and go, ‘hmm. you know those are sweet and juicy and I think I’ll have a couple’. If it’s handy, you don’t have to think twice about it, thereby increasing the likelihood that you’ll be able to stay on target for your daily calorie count which will help you stay on track for your -3500 calories over the week.

As you are planning out your day, be sure to keep the calories for your snacks on your count. Alright friends, I think I’ve given you enough to think about today. Is your brain hurting yet? 😀

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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 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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Don’t call me a crybaby!

Alright, alright. I heard what you said. Oh, and don’t pretend you didn’t say it, I totally heard it and I know who you are….You said, ‘suck it up and stop being a crybaby. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, did they?’

Yeah, I know, losing weight isn’t for wimps. It’s tough. If it was easy, we’d all be thin and fit, right? The easy way out is to just sit here and cry in my latte about how hard it is. WAAAAH. Yeah, suck it up and get off your arse and just do it already!

Geez, people! Get off my back! I get it! Really, I do. In fact, rather than sitting here being a flabby, squishy, crybaby, today, I did something I’ve only done a couple of times before: an exercise DVD.  Jillian Michaels “30 Day Shred’. Oh.my.God. You know, I’ve been exercising and doing stuff every day. Yesterday I walked just under 3 miles in 30 minutes. I was hoofing it. So when i started it, I was a bit cocky thinking, ‘I got this.’ Yeah, right. Now I know why the people on ‘The Biggest Loser’ hate her!  She really makes you work for it and won’t let you slack off. In that 20 minutes, I think I got the best work out, the hardest work out that I’ve had in years! An hour later, my legs still felt like noodles!

So, like she said, it isn’t easy. It takes work. So, I’m gonna give it a shot. There is no crying in exercise/weight loss. So…here I go. Sucking it up and getting it done! And one of the things I noticed this afternoon after, I was not hungry in the least, I didnt’ get my late afternoon munchies like normal (which is my downfall). How awesome is that??

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