Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cold, Tired and Sore

I'm cold, tired and sore, but having a great time. I skied for two days in frigid weather and snow, and then spent today snowshoeing. I think just about every muscle in my legs aches!

But, it's all good here in Sunapee, NH. The kids are enjoying themselves, and are out in the fresh air for a few hours a day. If we'd stayed home, they'd probably never venture outside.

It's good for me as well. I'm hopefully burning off some of my holiday weight gain through exercise, and, because my husband hasn't come up to NH yet, I've been focusing on eating light. I've had a salad for dinner every night this week in addition to salad and maybe some soup for lunch (you need that warmth when you've been out in the cold).

I'm also feeling so much better than I was last week. I was starting to feel lethargic, and now I'm re-energized.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Eat Organic, Lose Weight

Read about it here:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Slow is Fast and Fast is Slow

This is a pretty good article explaining why only losing 1-2 pounds a week is actually faster if you permanently want to lose weight then any starvation/fad diet:

Better to only lose 30 pounds in a year and keep it off then lose 30 pounds in 2 months and gain it all back plus some.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Post-Holiday Ski Trip-Working off the Holiday Pounds

The east coast got socked with snow yesterday. We had eight inches, but it snowed upwards of a foot of snow further south.

I'm not one of those snow adverse people. As long as I don't lose power, I love to get snowed in. It's great to have an excuse not go anywhere. Everything just kind of stops, and it gives me time to breathe, read and catch up on all those nasty little chores around the house I haven't been able to get to.

But I have to admit, I'm somewhat bummed that it snowed down here in Connecticut and they didn't even get an inch up in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Right after Christmas I'm leaving on my annual "the kids have a week off after Christmas and I don't know what the hell else to do with them, so we might as well go skiing" trip.

This trip is to be distinguished from my annual "the kids have a week off for President's week and I don't know what the hell to do with them so we might as well go skiing trip."

Since I'm leaving to ski in New Hampshire for a week right on December 27th, it would have been nice if they had gotten some snow. But c'est la vie.

Still, it should be a nice trip. I genuinely love to ski with my kids. And, its great for working off some of the caloric indulgences of the holiday season.

There is great site were you can estimate the number of calories you burn during any activity. Check it out here:

So, I thought I'd calculate how many calories I'll burn skiing. Now I usually down-hill ski a total of 4 hours, but the reality is between lift lines, waiting on the slope for the slow pokes, etc., running into the bathroom etc., I'll probably actually only ski 120 minutes out of the four hours.

Calories burned down hill skiing for 120 minutes is 1,029. I'll be down-hill skiing 4 days so that's 4,116 calories.

I'll also go cross-country skiing with the kids two days (your legs need the break from the down hill skiing). Again, between having to run in because the kids are tired, cold, need the bathroom, hungry, etc., I'll probably actually only ski for 120 minutes. Cross-country skiing for 120 minutes burns 1,341. Multiply that by 2 and you get 2,682 calories burned.

Potential calories I can burn on my post-Xmas Ski trip is 6,798. That can be almost 2 pounds of fat loss if I eat smart and stay away from the apre-ski hot chocolate and nachos.

Friday, December 18, 2009


The Burger King Triple Whopper Sandwich with cheese and Mayo packs a whopping 1,250 calories. I can only consume about 1,650 calories a day, so you add a side a fries to this, and I just packed on some additional fat.

And, that's not the only caloric disaster-burger. Yahoo health has a list of the six worst fast food burgers.

Regifting the Gift of Food

Food is high on the gift giving list, and also on the gift getting. Every year I get tins of cookies, boxes of chocolates, and baskets of fruit, cheese, bottles of barbecue sauce and other goodies.

In previous years, I used to either eat the food or had it rot in the house. Two years ago, I started re-gifting most of it.

Now, before you jump down my throat for engaging in tacky behavior, I should explain that don't re-gift to unsuspecting friends, co-workers or household help.

Instead, I re-gift to the local food pantry. Every year after Christmas I take a trip to the local food pantry and drop off any of the food gifts I received that are acceptable to donate. This usually means pantry stable items that are canned, in boxes or jarred.

I'm doing good, while doing myself good.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sorry for the Short Sporadic Posts

But it is the holidays, and like everyone else I'm running wild trying to get everything done that needs to get done. Christmas cards have been sent out, presents bought and wrapped, cookies and Stollen baked, the Christmas tree bought and decorated--you get the idea.

Plus, I've actually had quite a bit of work to do. You can tell the economy is coming back when freelancers like myself start getting busy.

The other thing keeping me busy is holiday season entertaining. Friends have invited me over, I've invited friends over, and I've gone to several holiday parties.

Getting together is part of the holiday festivities. The only issue is that when people get together, food is always involved, and alot of that food contains copious amounts of sugar and fat. There's always a fine line to walk between watching my weight and being the holiday Grinch.

As always, I try to stick to some simple rules this time of year. First, I enjoy myself within limits. It is the holidays, and eating is part of the fun. It's OK to indulge, although it's not OK to over-indulge. Second, I try to work in extra exercise whenever I can to offset the extra calories (made all the more difficult by overloaded holiday schedules).

In the end, I realize that trade-offs are necessary. The artisanal hand-made chocolates were worth indulging in, and I limited myself to just two. Yes, I'll have to spend some extra time on the treadmill for the indulgence, but they were worth it.

I can easily pass up store bought candy canes and mass manufactured candy, but the roast goose with orange Madeira sauce my friend served up at a holiday dinner party was not. Going extra light calorie wise for a day or two after the roast goose was not too taxing. Besides, I didn't want to insult my hostess by not eating the wonderful meal she prepared.

In the end, I'll probably put on a few pounds this month (I haven't dared step on the scale since Thanksgiving.) It's inevitable, like death and taxes.

The point is to put on as few pounds as possible. And, get right back on the diet band wagon as soon as I can. Perhaps even a post-New Year's cleanse.

I think I know what my New Years' resolution will be this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Special Holiday Edition Work-Out

Splicing together your Christmas lights and Guitar Hero.

Setting up this deal has got to burn a few thousand calories!!!

And, it keeps you away from the holiday cookies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

For the Love of Cinnamon

I love cinnamon. Love it, love it, love it.
I sprinkle cinnamon over my coffee every morning, use it in my oatmeal, add it to baked goods even when the recipe doesn't call for it, and, if the recipe calls for cinnamon, I know I'm going to love it.

What's really great about using cinnamon is that it adds great flavor with almost no calories. One tablespoon of cinnamon has just 17 calories, so a sprinkling of cinnamon adds just a few calories to anything you're eating.

And, according to this article,, cinnamon has lots of health benefits to offset those calories.

Yummy, and good for me too.

Gotta love cinnamon!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Save the Planet, and Lose Some Weight

As all of you know, I'm a big advocate of reducing processed foods, meat and dairy from our diets to lose weight. Now it turns out it can help save the planet:

Its a UK report, but notes that eating less processed, meat and dairy products will help reduce greenhouse gases.

So, you'll be doing both yourself, and the planet good.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If 1 is Good, 4 is Better

I found some interesting marketing research from the Wharton School. You can find it here:

Essentially, the researchers found that if you increase the number of healthier options for people, they're more likely to choose them over the less healthier options. Here's one of the experiments done:

In another study, a tray with fruit and baked goods was placed at two entrances of a building, with a sign reading: "Please help yourself to one item." At one entrance, the researchers placed a tray containing a small selection: two types of fruit and two types of cookies. They put a tray with a larger selection at the other entrance so that passers-by were presented with
six types of fruit (bananas, red and green apples, pears, tangerines and peaches) and six types of baked goods (assorted cookies as well as croissants and banana nut muffins). While 55% of the participants chose fruit over baked goods from the smaller assortment, 76% did so when choosing from the larger

I had blogged a while back that one shopping rule to follow is to have the majority of your food purchases be fruits and vegetables. You can find the blog here:

It only makes sense, if you surround yourself with a great selection of fruits and vegetables, you'll eat mostly fruits and vegetables. If your kitchen is laden with crap, you'll eat mostly crap.

The same thing goes with restaurants. If you go to a restaurant with only one salad on the menu (and its a salad in name only), you're not likely to order a salad. Go to one with a wide selection of salads, and chances are you'll order a salad.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Craving Substitutions

In my post about Trail Mixes, a commenter stated she was impressed that I analyzed that the"hit" I was looking for from cookies was the crunch and the sweetness.

When trying to reach a goal, I always think its a good idea to really analyze why you are doing what you are doing.

I smoked for years. I started in High School when it was cool, and started my efforts to quit right after law school by which time smoking was decidedly uncool.

Now, I was never one of those people who was truly "addicted" to cigarettes. If the situation called for it I could go for hours without ever having a smoke, and didn't have to run out to the parking lot immediately afterwards to light up.

But, none-the-less, I found quitting difficult. When I analyzed why, I realized that it wasn't the nicotine in cigarettes I craved, but the actual act of smoking.

There where a number of situations where I would always automatically light up. For example, if I got on the phone to speak with someone I always had a cigarette in hand. I also always smoked when I was studying. Anytime I went to a bar or a party, I basically hung in the back with a cigarette (I'm not much of a drinker or a party animal).

I came to the realization, that I needed something different to do with my hands and my mouth when I was doing these activities. Kind of like Pavlov's dogs, when you rang the bell, my hands and mouth expected that cigarette.

My solution was to drink water. Holding a bottle of water gave my hands something to hold and my mouth something to do during those times when I normally smoked. Once I started doing this quitting smoking was a breeze, and I never looked back.

I think it's a lot like that with eating. If you're craving a certain food item intensely, it might not really be the food that you want. For example, if you always ate potato chips while watching a football game, it may not be so much the chips you're missing, but the activity of eating during the ball game.

Or, like me, if you crave cookies, it may be the sweetness and crunch you're looking for.

Once you analyze why you're craving, it becomes easier to find the healthier, low-cal substitute that will satisfy that craving.

So, don't try to just ignore your cravings. Really think hard about them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Trail Mixes

I love cookies. I absolutely adore really good store bought cookies, or home-made cookies from some old, secret family recipe. I can easily pass up cake, chocolate, ice cream, etc., but put a plate of fresh, home-made chocolate chip cookies in front of me, and I'm a goner.

So, now that I pretty much swear off cookies except for special occasions, I had to find a substitute for those times when I just really crave one.

The substitute I found is trail mix. It provides the "crunch" of a good cookie, and dried fruit provides the sweetness. If I'm tempting to hit the cookies, I just grab a handful of trail mix and I'm satisfied.

Now, most store bought trail mixes are loaded with all sorts of junk you don't need--such as salt and sugar. Plus, I like to keep my mixes "raw." So instead of store bought trail mix I just mix my own. It's easy. I just buy dried fruit, raw nuts and seeds, mix and viola--trail mix.

My favorite combination is raw pumpkin seeds, raw almonds, raisins and dried cranberries. I just mix it all in a resealable container (I don't use any measurements), and keep it in the pantry for those times I need something sweet and crunchy. I have to go easy, however, since nuts and dried fruits have a lot of calories.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our National Eating Disorder

Any of you who have been reading Losing Weight after 45 is a Bitch for a while knows that I'm a huge fan of Michael Pollan. One of my commentators directed me to this excellent 2004 article by Pollan:

I actually read this article when it was originally published in the New York Times but it was great to read it again.

No country obsesses over food the way we do here in the US. And, what has it gotten us? We are the fattest country on the planet.

That's because our obsessing leads us to crazy fad diets and eating synthetic over processed foods that promise to make us skinny, but only lead to making us fatter.

The message is clear, if you want to lose weight, eat sensibly. That means focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and leave the overly processed foods behind.

It's simple. There's no need to obsess over carbs or fat, just eat real food. As Pollan says, food your great-grandparents would have recognized.

Eating a bunch of grapes will do a whole lot more for your weight-loss/weight-maintenance efforts then a bag of low-fat, low-calorie, low carb cookies.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Now this Is Just Not Right

Last year my in-laws got my kids a Wii Fit Board to go with their Wii gaming console. I thought it was great because I'm all for anything that gets the kids moving.

Throughout the year my daughter sporadically has been doing yoga, running and other exercises on the Wii. The reason why she didn't use it more, I reasoned, was that the the work-out activities were really geared to adults.

Since Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner, I thought it would be great to get her some new Wii work-out regimes geared to children. Specifically I wanted a kid's yoga routine.

So, off I went to the local GameStop in Westport this morning. Guess what? There is no Wii Kids Yoga program. In fact, there are no Wii Fit exercise routines specifically geared to children. There are games for kids for Wii Fit, but nothing emphasizing exercise and the importance of working out.

Now, that is just not right. My daughter will do the adult work-out routines from time to time, but you know she would exercise even more with the Wii if they actually produced yoga, running, etc. specifically geared to kids.

I did purchase her the new Wii Fit Plus disc, but its still geared to adults.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To Jack Sh*t, Why I Bake

In my post Upping the Ante, my fellow blogger Jack Sh*t asked why I continue to bake for holiday gifts.

Well Jack, it's all about remembrance. Proust may have needed to take a bite out of that Madeline to send him on his journey of remembrance of things past, but for me its the actual baking that does it.

You see, my Grandmother was a holiday baker extraordinaire. Nana would bake at least a dozen different types of cookies every December. There were sugary cookies with an orange glaze she called "Aunt Louise's Cookies" after my Grandfather's aunt, rum balls, Jewel Cookies that were crusted in nuts with a dab of jam, these amazing almond meringue cookies that were covered in pinoli nuts, and so on.

Nana never used a written recipe. Although she only baked each cookie once a year, she kept every recipe in her head. Me, my mother and my sisters often baked alongside her, and had the foresight of actually writing most of the recipes down. We'd ask questions like "how much flour do you use?" and Nana would answer "about three handfuls." From there we had to concoct that "a handful" generally meant about 1/2 a cup.

Nana also made Fruitcakes which were actually baked as early as October and were an alcoholics delight. The process began by soaking dried fruit in rum for a week. After the fruitcakes were cooked, they were wrapped in cheesecloth and carefully tended to with generous douses of rum to preserve them every week for two months.

And she also made Stollen, which is a bit unusual because Stollen is actually a German Christmas bread. My Italian Grandmother usually never diverged from the Italian repertoire, but for some reason, which nobody understands why, she made Stollen at Christmas and not the more traditional Italian Panetone.

I often made the Stollen with her. We'd start the night before by making a starter of yeast, flour, eggs and butter. The next day we'd form the dough by adding more flour, then adding raisins and currents soaked in rum or brandy, dried fruits and nuts. Then we'd need the dough until it was soft and silky and left it to rise. It was then formed into loaves and allowed to rise again. Then we'd bake it, and when cooled dust the bread with powdered sugar.

None of us bakes the repertoire that my Grandmother did. My mother, me and my sisters all seem to have inherited a few of the recipes.

I bake two or three different cookies a year and have become the official Stollen baker (the Stollen is then passed out among family members). Whenever I do this baking, my Grandmother comes alive again. As I knead my dough, I can still hear her voice over me, guiding me, to make sure I get it right.

So now when I bake I bake with my children. It's through them that my Grandmother, and our traditions will survive.

I've often heard weight loss referred to as being a journey. But I think we need to remember that although moving forward is progress, we can't forget where we came from.

I doubt that for any of us Twinkies, Big Macs or crappy over processed foods really connect us to who we are, and our families.

But, if there is food that connects us to our past and our loved ones who have passed on, then we shouldn't give it up simply because we are trying to lose and maintain weight.

Eat less of it for sure, but if it's part of who we are, then we shouldn't just leave it behind.

Savoring the End of the Season

The local Farmers' Markets closed up shop two weeks ago, but my refrigerator is still filled with produce that I stocked up on. I've got butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, onions, leeks, cabbage and other veggies just waiting to be enjoyed over the next few weeks.

I'm also still getting fresh herbs from the garden--parsley, cilantro, sage and thyme.

Since I know that its only a matter of weeks until this end of the season produce is gone, I'm savoring it whenever I can.

It's also comforting to know that I can throw together a meal in less than an hour based on locally grown, organic produce.

Last night was one of those nights. My daughter had ballet from 5 to 6 which meant I had to begin preparing dinner prior to leaving (I'm not a big fan of eating past 7). In the afternoon I opened the refrigerator and realized that I had better use up a head of cauliflower I had bought at the last Farmers' Market.

I cut up the cauliflower into 1 inch florets and spread them on a large cookie sheet. I tossed in some coarsely chopped red onions and some organic grape tomatoes from the market. I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the vegetables, sprinkled on a little salt and pepper and tossed the entire concoction with my hands. I then roasted the vegetables at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.

When I got back from ballet, I cooked up some whole wheat pasta and tossed it with the roasted vegetables. I sprinkled on some fresh parsley and sage from the garden, and dinner was served.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Upping the Ante

Two weeks ago I added another mile to my outside walk. That gets me up to 4.5 miles and takes me about an hour and 20 minutes to complete. I can't do it every time I go out for a walk (we all have time constraints), but my work load has been light and I thought it would help with holiday season weight gain.

Despite my best efforts I always put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. I've already been cheating like mad. I limited myself to just one piece of pumpkin pie (and two chocolate covered pretzels) on Thanksgiving, but even that tends to be too much these days, particularly when you consider the heavy meal I ate before the pumpkin pie.

Christmas time has its own vices. Every year I make a gingerbread house with my kids over Thanksgiving weekend, and every year a few too many pieces of candy wind up in my mouth and not glued with icing on the house.

I also bake to give as gifts, etc, and you just have to taste what you bake to make sure that those cookies, Stollen, etc., are worthy of giving.

Then, there are the parties and the entertaining.

I try to balance off the extra eating with being really good on other days, but I always put on weight.

But then, I'm a post-menopausal woman who's giving birth to two children. If I even look at a piece of pumpkin pie, I'll put on weight.

So, when I can, I'm committing myself to doing more cardio this holiday season.

I'll probably still gain weight. I'm just hoping that the effort will allow me to gain less weight than usual. That way I'll have less to lose once January comes around.