Friday, October 31, 2008

Plan to Emotional Challenges

Following up on yesterday's post about "Falling Off the Wagon" and facing emotional challenges when losing weight--

I recommend coming up with a plan of things to do when feeling emotionally challenged. When I feel stressed/angered/sad/happy (whatever your emotional trigger(s) is/are) I will ______ . Create a list of options for yourself. The list can include lots of options. I suggest some really quick items that you can use anywhere, and some longer/bigger choices.

For example you list could be something like this....
...I will:
count to ten before grabbing a food or drink item
drink a glass of water
take a walk around the block (or the building, to the mailbox, whatever)
scream into my pillow
take a 5 minute break from what I am doing
look at a picture of one of my favorite places
close my eyes and focus on my breathing for one minute
gently pinch myself
think of a laughing baby
pet my dog/cat
watch a short inspirational video on my computer or television (be sure to have one or two ready on your desktop if you want to use this option)
do 10 jumping jacks
stretch my body
repeat a positive affirmation (again, be sure to have some ready)
write or speak about 5 things/people I am grateful for---and be specific
splash water on my face
smell a rose (or other flower)
send a quick email to someone I care about letting them know I thought of them

These are a few things that come to MY mind...your list will be different, but feel free to borrow from my list!

By making one of these choices you are creating a "pattern interrupt". By interrupting your old patterns for 30 days you literally make new neural pathways in the brain and make new, healthier patterns!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Falling Off the Wagon

I recently got an email from someone on the Mars/Venus Solution and she mentioned that she was on a business trip and "fell off the wagon." I know this is a common way to looking at our eating behaviors--I've said it often enough myself.

When you feel this way, be sure to be gentle with yourself about "falling off the wagon" can happen. Remember, we are making life changes, this is NOT a diet. Therefore there really isn't any falling off the wagon! How liberating is that?

For many of us, losing weight is a multi-dimensional challenge. I believe that people may become overweight because they simply like to eat more calories than they can burn off. I also believe that those of us who have become obese or extremely overweight get that way in large part because of the emotional triggers and habits we have developed. In other words, we are using food as a way to self-medicate. For me, ice cream was my drug of choice.

I don't know if any of this will resonate with you--I used food (in particular, but not limited to ice cream) as a way to numb out the world. It was a way that I could not feel what was going on, but not endanger others by driving while intoxicated, and not participate in any illegal behavior. For someone who likes control, overeating was a way to exert some control over my life when I was feeling completely out of control.

Therefore the challenge comes in changing my behavior to better suit my health goals.

The Venus Solution helps with that because by balancing my brain chemistry, the cravings are gone--or when not completely gone--they are manageable because I can now recognize that they are emotionally triggered and their strength/power is greatly diminished.

It is not that I never want to eat foods that are fattening and/or "comfort foods". It is that I am better able to be in the driver's seat rather than just being pulled this way and that.

This has made all the difference for me.

Did this happen immediately, day 1? No. It did happen pretty quickly however.

It is also important to acknowledge that changing habits takes time. So let the Venus Solution assist you so that you don't have to struggle and at the same time, be aware of your feelings and the food that you take in. The awareness, now supported by balanced brain chemistry, will allow you to change your habits of eating for emotional reasons and thereby break the cycle.

Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about a plan of action for when we are feeling emotionally challenged!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What do you say when Someone has Lost a lot of Weight?

There are lots of people who don't know what to say when they see me. Losing 100 pounds is not a "little" weight--so it is doubtful that they haven't noticed.

I've been thinking about this a lot. To be honest, I don't think there is any one single answer that is right for everyone.

Most of us are thrilled with our results and will be glad that you notice.

That being said, we don't necessarily want the focus to be on our appearance. Yes, improving my appearance is part of losing weight, but that wasn't my primary goal.

Even still, "You look great" is probably a very acceptable reaction. Or try something like "You look like you have lost a lot of weight--you look great", or you could follow it up with "how did you do it?", or another question if you are interested.

Please, don't feel like you HAVE to ask a lot of questions. If you want to know more about my journey then ask, but otherwise, don't. I'll be happy to talk to you about what I've been doing but I am very sensitive about boring people!

I would love to hear someone else's point of view on you want people to comment on your weight loss? What comments and/or questions do you like to get? Are there any that you do not want to hear?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coffee on the Road

I love coffee. I used to drink a lot of coffee. Now I drink it from time to time, so when I have coffee I want it to be really good.

I was at a conference a few days ago and having dinner with some colleagues. After dinner we were going to have coffee so I decided to order a cappuccino as a nice treat. This was in a resort so I thought it would be a good cup. Boy was I wrong!

Rather than drinking it I returned it. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but for me it truly was! In the past I might have finished the coffee (not wanting to make a scene or hurt anyone's feelings--how ridiculous is that????) or just let it go cold and not drink it but pay for it (even more ridiculous!) So I am proud of myself for returning the coffee, politely but firmly.

I have had some really good coffees while on the road--mostly from big chains like Saxby's and Starbucks. I was really disappointed that I had an opportunity to have a coffee from a place that was not a chain and it turned out to be so bad.

Oh well, there will be a chance for more really good coffee elsewhere!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Walking at the Beach

I love the is one of the few things I really miss living in my beautiful land-locked Colorado.

Walking at the beach is one of the best things ever. I love feeling the sand underfoot and the water as it laps at my toes.

Something about walking in the surf and moving through the water and on the sand that I forget that I'm actually getting exercise!

The combination of moving and fresh air, along with the rhythmic sounds of the surf bring me such a sense of peace.

Why am I talking about all of this? Because I am realizing how important it is to really appreciate the things that bring me pleasure.

Let's face it, food was something that brought me a lot of pleasure (and a lot of pain and confusion and....) so it is critical that I have other pleasures in my life. These are things that I can do when I get a craving or an emotional pull to eat, when my intellect is saying, no I don't want to eat, but the little kid in me is not sure what else to do!

Another thing I have to face is that I have been working very, very, very hard and not recognizing or allowing myself a lot of time for pleasures. Therefore I am reminding myself that balance in life is crucial and I deserve to have fun and enjoy my life. Heck, if I don't enjoy my life then there isn't much point, is there?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Do I Have to Avoid Alcohol to Lose Weight?

Alcohol is not all bad. Like most things should be used in moderation...especially if you want to drop some fat.

Alcohol is a sugar and the fat you get from it will be stored around your abdomen. That's where the phrase "beer belly" came from! There is also evidence that indicates that if you are already overweight, drinking alcohol will make it easier for you to gain additional weight.

I don't know if that is because of the alcohol itself or because when we drink our inhibitions drop and we become more relaxed and it is easy to eat more.

What about the health benefits to drinking wine or even beer? You've heard that having a glass of wine or beer may reduce your chance of getting heart disease. If you don't have wine, how else can you get those benefits?

The best way is to eat foods that have those same compounds--blueberries, apples, onions, grapefruit, black tea, peanuts and 100% red grape juice (no added sugar, of course) all will do you as well as the glass of wine. These other foods provide you with other vitamins and nutritional components that wine or beer won't, so you are ahead of the game! You can cut your risk of heart disease even more by including fish, garlic, nuts and a little dark chocolate in your diet.

I haven't given up alcohol entirely. I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer upon occasion, but it isn't very often these days. Certainly not often enough to gain any heart health benefit in the sense we've been talking about. In the bigger picture though, because I have lost so much fat, my heart health is much better, and my risk for heart disease is much lower.

Bottom line, I suggest you limit alcohol because it is mostly empty calories. But remember, I don't believe in forbidden foods--that goes for drinks, too! When you do chose to imbibe, make it really count! Drink your favorite beverage and really savor it. Sip it. Enjoy the social environment. Enjoy the flavor of the drink.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Traveling and Exercising

While driving vast distances, it is a challenge to get any exercise at all. I find it a perfect chance to practice isometric exercises. Whether you are the driver or passenger, you can clench muscles of any group. Start with you buttocks, holding them about 10 seconds, repeat about 10 times. Then move to another muscle group.

By doing this I have strengthened my abdomen, my leg muscles and my biceps.

At each stop we stretched a bit...but with little time we didn't get much "real" exercise in.

We did out 15 minute "bounce and shake" work out every morning. That fits right in to the traveling schedule.

Once we reached our destination we tried to get in walks when possible. Since our first stop was a conference where we started our days early and ended late, we frequently didn't get much of a walk in--from the conference room to our room and back a few times and that was it.

Our next stop did allow for a nice walk and we have been able to have a walk every day since then. Felt really good to get some extra stretching in after days in the car and days in a conference room!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Visiting Family and Maintaining Health Goals

For me, visiting family is a wonderful and stressful time. I love my family, but at the same time a lot of the triggers I have about food involve my family. So visiting family and maintaining my health goads is not always easy.

It helps that they are very proud of the success I have had with my health goals. I've now dropped 100 pounds and am smaller around than I have been in almost 20 years. Woo Hoo!

There is ice cream here in the house--normally my biggest weakness--and plenty of wine, chocolate and other goodies. None of them are appealing to me, which is incredible. The emotional pull is still there. Again, like at the truck stop, I have stopped and listened to how I am feeling about the food and determining if I really want it.

My mother's 79th birthday is coming up and I am sure that I will partake in some birthday treats. And there may be more treats than that. And that is OKAY!!! It is important to celebrate and enjoy life. I don't believe that never having a treat is being in control of it--that is avoidance.

So far I not had any treats. I have been feeling really great and I have even been feeling slender. However, I feel fat today. I am looking at myself and instead of seeing the successful changes I am seeing the fat person. Amazing how the brain works! It is a challenge to remind myself that my clothes are many sizes smaller and that I am doing fantastic.

The good news is that the cravings are not coming back! There have been a few emotional pulls, but because I feel so balanced chemically they have been pretty easy to recognize and not be controlled by them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Road Trip Challenges and Tips

Road trips can be killer on any healthy routine. Sitting still for long periods of time combined with boredom and numerous opportunities to feast on junk food make for a challenge.

I'm on a road trip right now and have made some really good choices (hurray!) and I'll share with you some tips that really have helped me to keep my intention to be healthy.

First I prepared ahead. That is really the biggest key!

Because I am traveling with only one other person and we have ample room in the vehicle and we both are determined to be healthy, we packed a cooler. Cooked chicken, a variety of vegetables and sliced apples filled that cooler. Healthy and still easy to eat--real "fast food". A traditional salad takes too much time to eat--not exactly something you can chow down while driving! Fresh cherry tomatoes, green beans and other favorite vegies gave us all the same nutrients and were easy to eat on the road.

One other thing we had in the cooler were some very special cookies that we make from our Venus shake. They have to be kept cold. Delicious, rich chocolate cookies. Yummy! Tastes like you are eating something bad for you (or "sinful" as my mother would say) but they are completely balanced and make a meal.

In addition to the cooler we had raw almonds, pine nuts and plenty of water.

So we did eat while we drove, but we are also eating consciously while on the trip as opposed to the "old days" (like last year!) when we would have snacks that were less healthful.

I believe that one of the challenges too is breaking a habit--of eating to keep oneself awake and to combat boredom. Rather than constantly snacking on even healthy foods, we filled our time with books on tape. We purposefully chose books that would stimulate conversation so we were active participants. This really has helped pass the time and I've had little desire for the junk food filled road trips of the past.

That's not to say that there is zero temptation! At least I can recognize it as a habit rather than a real desire or need for a food, but there were times when going through the truck stop aisles to find the restroom I was tempted by a package of this or that. What was truly awesome was that I wasn't hungry or even having the munchies, but I still felt myself drawn to this junk.

Fortunately because I have determined I am going to be healthy and at the same time have given myself permission to have ANYthing that I really, really want, I had the freedom to assess how I was feeling. Did I really want that candy/snack food/ice cream? So far the answer has always been "no" I really didn't want it. That process of thinking about it, searching how I felt about the food and being in control feels AWESOME!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hang Around with Like Minded People

If you hang around with people who think exercise is reaching for a doughnut or doing the 12 oz curl after work, you might want to reconsider who you hang out with.

Does that mean you have to change all your friends? Of course not.

If you have a strong desire to change you life and you can be around others who don't support that, then good for you. For me, I find it much easier to make healthy choices when I surround myself with people who are also interested in being healthier--and do more than just talk about it.

It doesn't mean you can't see your friend Sue or buddy Bob ever again. I'm suggesting that you cultivate some additional, new relationships. When you are out walking, say hello to others. If you see them regularly, you could suggest you walk together for a bit.

Or it may be that there is someone you work with or who lives down the street who has also been talking about wanting to be more healthy. See if he or she would be interested in being a walking partner, or how you can support one another in a different way. That support might be in sharing tips you learned, a great recipe you tried, a great place you went to for a walk over the weekend.

Don't be surprised if, as your body starts to change along with your new habits, people don't start approaching you and asking what you are doing. These just might be some great new support buddies!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Put Yourself First to Lose Weight

It is a common problem that people face--particularly common among women. We tend to put ourselves last.

I'm here to tell you, you cannot successfully achieve you health and weight loss goals if you continue to do that.

You have to make some changes in your life. You know that. We all know that if we don't make changes we will continue to get the same results. We do all know that, don't we?

The changes include taking better care of yourself. In order to do that, you have to put your needs ahead of those of some other people. I know that sounds scary and maybe it even sounds selfish.

Let's think about it logically though. If you take better care of yourself, you will be happier and healthier, right? That's a good thing. A happier and healthier person will carry that attitude forward. Whether you are "Mom", "wife", "daughter", "sister", "employee", "boss", "student" or whatever other label you have (including Dad, husband, & brother!) the people will be better served by your increased health and joy. And they will be happier too! And enjoy your company more. That sounds like a win-win-win all around to me!!!

What better example can you provide for your children, your students, your employees than to demonstrate how important it is to care for yourself--and allow them to see how it benefits all of them, too! That's pretty un-selfish when you look at it like that!

So don't make it a huge change. Give yourself 30 minutes a day. Take that time for yourself and start stretching and moving your body. You might have to tell someone else "no" but, trust me, it won't be the end of the world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Is the Financial Crisis Affecting Your Weight?

Seem like a crazy connection? It isn't if you stop and think about it.

Are you worried about losing your house, your job, or just concerned about rising costs? Well, if you are, you aren't alone. And a lot of us when we are worried, scared, or otherwise stressed reach for food to comfort us.

These comfort foods do temporarily help us to feel better. Until we realize we overate (again) and then we get to "enjoy" the guilt feels of having "gone of our diet". Then that guilt feels bad, so we reach for more of our comfort foods.

That's one of the reasons I refuse to diet in the first place! I know all to well that vicious cycle. Instead of reaching for food to comfort me, now I work on meditation, or I watch an inspiration clip, or read a chapter in a book that lifts me up, or I go for a walk.

By changing the automatic response behavior I have changed my waistline! Remember, you are in control of your life and your thoughts and especially how you react to things. It takes practice and it isn't always easy, but we created the habit of reaching for food to make us feel better--and we can uncreate it!

It is definitely easier to substitute a behavior you want to encourage (like taking a walk or meditation) than trying to resist the urge to eat all by itself. Enlist the support of someone in your family or a friend or coworker. You are definitely not alone in reacting this way--nor are you alone in wanting to change this behavior!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nuts are Great Foods for Losing Weight

I used to hear that nuts were foods to avoid when trying to lose weight. The rationale was they are high in calories.

Well, they are a nutritionally dense food, so yes they pack some calories. They also have a great blend of protein, fiber and the good kind of fats.

The "good" fats in nuts can help lower your cholesterol levels. Eating nuts on a regular basis may also help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes!

Nuts can help us in our weight loss goals, too. The fiber and protein help provide a fuller feeling and when eaten before high-carb foods can help prevent your blood sugar from soaring. The fats provide satiety. You just don't feel like you are on a diet when you are eating nuts!

Two tips on nuts: how they are prepared and the amount.

The best nuts are raw nuts. Avoid the roasted ones. Roasted nuts have added oils which are not needed. The heating of those oils creates partially hydrogenated oil.

An ounce of nuts is pretty much a serving. That's not handfuls, but it is plenty. Obviously, the number of nuts in one ounce depends on the type of nut. Here's a rough estimate-- 24 almonds, 14 walnut halves, 20 pecan halves or hazelnuts or about 30 peanuts.

I find the key to eating nuts and not going overboard is to dole out my portion before I start to eat. I typically enjoy less than 1/2 ounce at any one time and I find that very satisfying. I put them in a small dish to eat plain, or put them in my foods. I love nuts in my salads and even mixed in my yogurt. Chop up some nuts and add them to vegetables, or to your main dish.

Nuts add textural variety and additional protein and fiber. And it doesn't take much!

If you are allergic to nuts you can get the "good" fats (monounsaturated) from avocados, olives, canola oil, olive oil and yes, dark chocolate. All of these foods are going to be high in calories because they are high in fats, but if you stick to small portions the benefits are fantastic!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fighting Osteoporosis by Walking

I've talked a lot about the benefits to walking, but with the rise in gas prices it is good to remind people that walking is pretty darned cheap. Good shoes, like good tires for your car, and you are ready to roll!

Walking is one of the best ways to combat osteoporosis. That's because walking is a "weight bearing exercise". In other words, when you walk, you are putting weight (your body weight) on to your feet. Walking also uses the larges muscles and joints in your body--the lower body.

Remember to start small--do a short walk, then maybe a couple short walks a day. You want to build up your bones as well as your muscles.

By gradually increasing your endurance you will gain strength, increase your lung capacity and have more energy!

There is also some evidence that walking may help delay or perhaps prevent dementia and Alzheimer's!

So find some interesting places to walk, like I do. Whether it is your neighborhood, a trail, or the older district downtown, just get out and move!

If you want more info on walking for health, you can join the Step Up to Slim Down Community Challenge (hey, it started Sept 29, but I figure it is never too late to start)

Friday, October 17, 2008

More on Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially hydrogenated oils are also known as "trans fats". They are heated up and thereby chemically altered to they don't melt as readily. That's why you find them in a lot of items that do not require refrigeration.

This altering of the chemical structure is what makes them bad for us. One expert told me that their molecular structure is closer to that of plastic than the original food they came from. That sounds appealing!

Advertisers and those who label foods have found a "loop hole" and can actually claim their food is "Trans Fat Free" even though it has partially hydrogenated oils in it.

How can this be? The regulation is that if there is less than 1/2 gram of trans fat in a serving, the food can be labeled Trans Fat Free.

Is 1/2 gram that much? Hmmm...well, I have two thoughts on that question.

First, look at the serving size. Is the size they are calling a serving what you would really eat? Or would you be eating 4 or 5 servings?

Secondly, I wouldn't eat 1/2 gram of rat poison, would you? Sometimes a tiny bit is too much.

Look, there are plenty of wonderful food options for us. Ones that will actually help us be healthy, energetic and lose weight. Let's do our best to stay away from the ones we know are toxic! If I'm going to eat something "bad" for me, I can choose wisely and, as always, watch my portions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why are Refined Carbohydrates Bad For Me?

If you are wanting to lose body fat the best way to do that is to have your body burn fat. If it doesn't burn fat then you really can't lose what is already on your body, right?

Well, eating refined carbs produces lactic acid. Lactic acid contains an excess of free radicals.

When you are creating free radicals you are not burning fat, you are burning sugar.

When you are in fat burning mode you don't create free radicals.

So, keep you body in fat burning mode and avoid refined carbohydrates. Instead, enjoy plenty of complex carbohydrates and burn that fat away!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whole Grains in Our Diet

Complex carbohydrates, including grains, are an important part of our diet. They help fill us up, give us energy, lend variety to our meals and provide nutrients that are good for us.

Whole grains play a big part in losing fat and maintaining healthy weight--and cholesterol and blood pressure levels too.

Just be aware that "whole grain" is great fiber--but if the label reads "made with whole grain" that is not the same. It will typically have less than 1/2 the fiber--for the same calories! Be sure to look for "100% whole grain", or "100% whole wheat" or whatever grain you are looking for.

100% wheat flour is not the same as 100% whole wheat!

So read the labels when you want to enjoy grains, whether in breads or pastas. Get the most out of food and take in the least calories!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hormone Free and Free Range Chickens

It is a common misperception that our poultry is laden with growth hormones. In the US, hormones have been banned from poultry (and pork for that matter) since 1959.

In other words, all chicken and turkey is "Hormone Free" whether it is labeled that way or not.

The distinction should be made between Hormone Free and Antibiotic Free. Antibiotics are given to animals for at least 2 reasons--1. to cure an illness and 2. to promote growth!

Most of our chickens do not live a long life...less than 2 months. I'd prefer if I'm going to eat chicken to eat one that had a healthy life and one that grew up without any outside "help"! I was not aware of this distinction until recently, but you can bet from now on I will look for Antibiotic Free poultry.

Another thing that suprised me was the "Free Range" label...I thought it was a great label. That's when I learned that fryers only live 6-8 weeks and they are so weak and vulnerable for the first 5 of those weeks they have to stay indoors.

I still think that "Free Range" is important for eggs. And eggs are a great food for those of us watching our waistlines.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is Organic Food Worth the Extra Money?

Most of the time, yes! It is ideal to have as few hormones, pesticides and other chemicals put into our bodies as possible.

Even though we wash our produce, it is next to impossible to get all the chemicals off. And for those of us who eat any animal products, what they have eaten and been injected with ends up in our bodies! Give yourself a fighting chance and eat as naturally as possible!

There is a strictly regulated process that has to be gone through in order to put "Organic" on your label.

Some farms are in the transition phase between traditional and organic. This means you might want to give them a try. Talk to the farmer (if you can) and see how long they have been working at the change. (It takes years to become certified they may have been following the principles for several years already but cannot call themselves organic.)

Wild fish (which is generally the best type of fish to buy) can be labeled "Organic". Since you really can't control or regulate the ocean...especially the specific place in the ocean from where that fish originated...not to mention they swim around, a lot (!) it isn't worth paying extra for "Organic" fish. Do look for the "Wild caught" or "Wild" label.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What is "Natural" Food?

My mother taught me to read food labels growing up...maybe yours did, too, or maybe she didn't.

Either way, there are new things to look for when reading labels...things that weren't in the foods we ate growing up!

One of the terms you see applied to food is "natural"--do not let that term lead you to believe it is good for you!

Even though high-fructose corn syrup is chemically processed (from dextrose, which comes from corn) it can be labeled "natural".

So can partially hydrogenated foods--which by now most people have at least heard off.

Both of these "foods" are really bad things to ingest.

Just because a food has a big "Natural" across it does not mean you shouldn't read the label. Read it and if it has partially hydrogenated anything or high fructose corn syrup, don't buy it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Have You Looked in the Mirror Lately?

It is important to look in the mirror and really see yourself. I don't mean the cursory I'm washing my face or brushing my teeth kind of looking--mostly at the face. I mean really look at your body.

Why? It is critical to have your brain recognize the changes your body is going through. Especially if you have been larger than you want for a long time. Otherwise, your brain will continue to believe that you are that larger person.

So as you are changing size, take it in. Notice the changes and appreciate them. Say loving things about your body and the changes it is going through.
  • My butt is getting smaller--looking good!
  • Wow, there's a waist showing up, giving me nice curves
  • These "new" collarbones will really show off necklaces nicely.
  • I like how my cheekbones show off my eyes
You want to be able to recognize yourself when you reach your goal. I know from personal experience that if you drop weight really quickly and/or you don't give your brain the chance to "keep up" then you will not recognize yourself. I literally was dancing with a woman as we each tried to get out of the other's way--only to discover it was me in the mirror! That experience was a long time ago and my brain never did accept that I was that slender person, so I gained back all the weight and more.

This time, things are different. I look in the mirror and recognize and appreciate my body. It has gotten me through a lot! It deserves some love and respect and admiration for what it has done and is doing now!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Healthy Apple Crisp Fall Day

OK, it isn't really apple crisp, but it is a crisp fall day and I am enjoying a baked apple!

So, why is that relevant to this blog?

1. Most people don't think of baked apples as healthy food choices
2. It is important to enjoy food
3. I have a special recipe

So, here is the "recipe"

Take an apple (I use small ones for myself or if I have large ones I generally eat half)
Cut and core the apple...slice it into about quarters
Place in microwave safe bowl

Sprinkle very lightly with:

Ground Cinnamon
Ground Nutmeg
Ground Clove
(other spices to taste)

Heat apple in the microwave for about 1 minute on high (times will vary depending upon your microwave and the number of apples. For 2 dishes today it was 3 minutes. Try one minute and rotate the apple if it needs more time.

Let the apple stand for a couple minutes. Voila! You have a delicious, healthy treat!

*Stevia is a fantastic zero calorie, natural, sweetener made from plants. It is super-sweet, so you just need to use a little bit. You can cook with it, add it to your drinks, etc, anywhere you would use sugar. You will want to experiment with the quantity though so you don't over do it! Look for Stevia in the health food store, a lot of regular markets don't carry it. If you don't see it, ask!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Had to Buy New Clothes!


I am going to a conference next week and all my clothes are literally falling off, so I had to buy some new clothes. I was risking being arrested for indecent exposure by appearing in public in the pants I bought this summer...they were threatening to settle around my ankles...fortunately I made it through the store without an incident!

Since I'm not at my ultimate goal I didn't want to buy a lot of clothes, but two pairs of pants and a couple tops, and new bras. All much needed.

It is AMAZING the difference in how I look in the mirror. Same size body but new clothes and foundation garments...WOW!

I'm especially happy because I very comfortably fit into size 16 jeans! It has been more than 15 years since I could say that!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nutrition not Calories

Nutrition is the key to successfully shedding those pounds of fat--not counting calories.

Calories are not all equal. So many people get caught up in counting calories that they ignore what those calories consist of.

I am a proponent of indulgences--it is so important to not feel deprived. So rather than having little 100 calorie this or that snack, I focus on being nutritionally sound and then really enjoying it when I have a splurge. I have found a couple of benefits--I splurge less because I don't have the cravings for the foods; I have broken the sugar and carb habit; when I do have a treat I typically share it with a friend because it is just too much for me alone--so I save money, too!

Even Dara Torres (41 year old woman who one 3 medals at the Beijing Olympics) is keen on nutrition. Here is a woman who can pretty much eat anything she wants because of the amount of exercise that she does, and probably her metabolism. So we're not in that league, but we can take some pointers from her.

She says she drinks a nutritional drink every morning--and before each race. This drink provides her with the nutrients and protein that she needs from a meal.

I don't know what product she uses, but I know what I have been using with great success. The Mars Venus Wellness Solution shake gives me all the nutrients including amino acids that I need in a meal and to optimize my brain chemistry.

Why is brain chemistry important? It is the brain chemistry imbalance that got me into trouble physically. For some people the imbalance leads to drug addiction or alcohol abuse. My drug of choice was food--especially ice cream. I couldn't have ice cream in the house, it "called my name" so loudly that I would eat whatever was there, even when I didn't want it!!!

Thanks to Dr. John Gray's Mars Venus Wellness Solution I no longer have those cravings. I am finally in control of my eating and have what I call a "normal relationship" with food.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Boost Your Walking

As great as Bounce and Shake is, I actually enjoy my walks, so here are some tips for folks like me who want to get out in nature and move (walking is something John Gray fully endorses by the way!)

If one of your excuses for not getting out is that you have little kids, you can actually use them to assist you in your fitness goals. If they are small enough to ride in a stroller then push them. The extra effort you expend to move them along burns calories and helps you to build strength. Just remember, you don't want to feel the burn or get out of breath. Too many kids to push...enlist the help of a friend or two. If you have extra adults you can trade off pushing the strollers so everyone gets the benefit and no one gets overly tired!

Plan a route that includes some hills. Start with some gentle hills. Later as these become easy scout a route that has more incline in it. Don't have the entire walk be just up and down. Have some flats in there too. Mix it up.

Go to your local animal shelter and become a dog walker! This can boost your serotonin too because you will definitely get lots of affection from the dogs and appreciation from the shelter staff! This is great for animal lovers who live in apartments and can't have a dog, or live with someone who is allergic, or for whatever reason have chosen to be "between" pets for now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Getting Stronger

What can you do to create more strength...without building huge muscles, without pumping iron and without taking a lot of time?

Here are a couple easy, no cost (or free) tips on building strength...

Take a 2 cans from the pantry...try soup cans at first. If they are too heavy, try cans of tuna. Hold the cans while you are doing some bounce and shake exercises or walking or dancing around the house. Or hold them while you stretch and reach. If cans aren't comfortable try water bottles. You can increase the size of the cans or water bottles as long as you can comfortably hold them in your hands.

Isometric exercises: squeeze the muscle and hold for a count of ten and then release. These are great for post-surgery and beginning to get back into condition. Isometric exercises focus on specific muscles rather than an overall conditioning.

Clench your thighs, calves, butt muscles and even your abdomen while seated at your chair, or on the couch, or lying on the bed. If you don't scrunch up your face you can even do it at work and no one will be the wiser!

Arms require a bit more obvious motion--so reserve them for break time if you are at work. Easy to do while watching television though, take advantage of a commercial break or two--bend your elbows, place your palms together and press them together. Start with them at chest height. Do a couple sets there and then move up to shoulder height, face high, and over the head. Final squeeze is with arms straight squeezing against your head. Repeat the process on the way down.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Exercise Made Easy

One of the best ways to exercise is something Dr. John Gray has developed and calls "Bounce and Shake". Take 15 minutes a day and follow his example and you gain energy, strength, flexibility, drop fat and balance your body chemistry.

Sounds unbelievable, doesn't it? Check out the video---he gives you several different routines so you don't get bored doing the same thing every day. Each routine works a different part of your body chemically.

I'd love to hear back some of your results! Keep me posted.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Exercising and Dropping Fat

If you ever participated in sports you know about working out. It does some great things for you--but it is definitely hard work, great if you want to be in the Olympics or on a team or run a marathon, but not necessary for health or dropping fat.

In fact, that kind of working out can make it more difficult to drop fat, unless you are starving yourself. Gentle movement that burns fat is what we are looking for. If you work too hard you are burning sugar and you won't lose fat like you want to.

The goal is not to be dripping sweat. Be easy about this. If you can't talk while you are moving, you are working too hard! If you feel a burning sensation in your legs you are working too hard!

No matter your size, make a decision that you are going to move your body more. Start off easily--maybe walking to the mailbox is all you can do. That's fine.

Do you do better at exercising if you have a workout buddy? Then find someone or join a class. Don't know anyone? Just by going to the gym or pool or park at a certain time every day you will start to meet people who will encourage you--even if it is just the staff!

Don't want to be seen in public, afraid of what other people will think? You can do plenty of moving even in your own home, even if you only have a single room! When I first started this journey a year ago my back, hip and knee hurt so badly that it was a challenge for me to walk. Some days I sat on the edge of the couch or my bed and just bounced and shook my hands and arms and tapped my feet! That was a start.

If you like the water, get to a pool. Walk in the water. The resistance of the water is good for you and the buoyancy makes walking in the pool easier on the joints than walking on dry land. I used to swim regularly even when I was almost 300 pounds. I like exercising in the water because it is cool and it feels light.

Do some little things--park a little further from the entrance when you go to the store or to the office. Adding a few steps every day can help, really! Take a walk around the office or the block after lunch. In a building with an elevator--take the stairs once a day.

Try some yoga. Take the time to really stretch. Instead of meeting friends for coffee, meet at a park and walk around in the fresh air. Put on some music and gently dance to it.

By doing a few little extra things every day, getting some good stretches in and making a conscious decision to move 15 minutes a day you will start to drop fat and it will be easier and easier!

The Olympic event you are training for is Your Life!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Do I Have to Exercise to Lose Weight?

People ask that question and I can tell from their voice and body language that they really hate something about exercise--as they know it.

For some people it is memories of high school gym class. For others it is the thought of being seen in exercise clothes at their present size/condition. For still others exercise has always been a chore-- a thing one "should" do, not something anyone in their right mind would chose to do. For a large group of people, exercise means strenuous work involving lots of sweating and time.

Exercise is a word that deserves to be redefined. Exercise does not need to be painful, strenuous, a chore, take a lot of time or involve bad uniforms or public humiliation!

Think of exercise as simply moving your body. Give yourself the gift of moving every day for 15 minutes.

Can you imagine any time that you were moving your body that you actually had fun? Maybe it was playing hopscotch as a kid, walking in the forest and smelling the pine needles as you walked through them, playing at the local pool, riding your bike to the park, playing on a swing...

The best exercise will be something that fits YOU. Your personality, your style and your current body and health. Depending upon your physical condition, the best exercise may be some simple stretches and deep breathing! Discuss your health with your doctor and then start to move more.

Check in tomorrow when we'll talk about ideas for moving and easy gauges to know how hard to be going at it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Drink Water to Lose Weight

Drinking water is one of the biggest tips I can share with anyone trying to lose weight.

Invest in a filter! It is important that your water taste good and not have a lot of chemicals in it. A filter, whether on your faucet, a counter top container, or one in the frig, will pay for itself in a short period of time instead of buying bottled water.

Most tap water in the US is considered "safe" to drink. And it may be. For me, the taste and smell of the chlorine was too much. Not bad for an occasional glass, but I drink almost a gallon of water a day and it was upsetting my stomach.

If you think you don't like water--try some pure, filtered water. It can make all the difference.

You don't have to drink a gallon like me, but it won't hurt you either! I actually prefer water to just about anything else. And I used to drink a 6 pack of diet soda a day!

Why does water help you lose weight? One reason is that we eat less if we are drinking water. Many times when we eat it is because we are actually a bit (or a lot) dehydrated. In other words, we are thirsty! So rather than eating to get the water content out of the food, go direct to the source. At zero calories that is hard to beat!

We also eat less when we drink water because we feel fuller. The water takes up some space in our digestive system, so we have a comfortable sense of fullness and don't feel the need to fill up on food.

Another reason drinking water helps us lose weight is it helps to flush our systems. It keeps things running smoothly and cleans out the bad stuff. Just like flushing your car's radiator, drinking lots of good water on a regular basis keeps our systems nice and clean and our body is better able to regulate itself!