Friday, October 30, 2009

The Key to Keeping Weight off Once You Lost it


"After a year long study by exercise physiologists it was found that only those who continued exercising kept visceral fat from returning.
These results were tracked after participants went on a strict diet and lost an average of 24 pounds. They split the study participants into 3 groups of aerobic exercisers, resistance exercisers, and non-exercisers. After seeing great results in weight loss maintenance from the exercising group, the achievements of the non-exercisers were discouraging.
The group that did not exercise after losing the initial 24 pounds averaged a 33% increase in visceral fat within the next year. The point of the story is that exercise + diet is the key to long term success – not dieting alone."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

So, am I "Indoctrinating" My Children????

A little ways into this almost incoherent rant about climate change, Fox News' Chief Clown in Residence claims that the Baltimore school district is "indoctrinating" children by not serving meat on Mondays. You can watch the farce here:

Huh?? Making kids eat a vegetarian meal ONCE a week is somehow "indoctrinating" them? Indoctrinating them into what?? I make my kids go meatless a couple of days a week (in an effort to teach them better eating habits), so am I some kind of a Nazi-Mamma or something?

Did you notice the grill with ribs and hot dogs in the back-ground while he's ranting about the school district's mission to try to teach children healthy eating habits???? What in God's name is that supposed to represent? Everything that's good and pure in the American diet?

A couple other questions/points. Beck seems to be arguing that if you are a climate change activist, then you're a hypocrite if you eat meat (at least that's the argument I'm assuming he's making).

Now if the argument is if you are a global warming activist, then you shouldn't be eating meat, then why should Al Gore have to give up chocolate chip cookies? I understand the argument that he should give up cheeseburgers (and if you saw how tubby Gore is lately, if he is still eating cheeseburgers, who should be giving them up in any event).

However, I don't ever recall adding meat to the batter when making chocolate chip cookies. I agree that Gore should be giving up the cookies, for his health, but what does that have to do with the global warming activists who eat meat are hypocrites argument?

Also, I'm not a big fan of PETA, but how can it be "consistent" on climate change when it's an animal rights organization?????

I don't know what I'm more embarrassed by. The fact that Glenn Beck is an American, or that there are Americans who watch this Bozo and agree with him. There's probably some dufus out there now arguing that Al Gore is a hypocrite because he eats chocolate chip cookies.

Your Right to Know Who's Shoveling the Sh!t

You know all those ads you see on TV telling you that you don't have to worry about mercury in fish, that there's no difference between high-fructose corn syrup and honey, and that you really don't want a tax on soda so that you can get cheaper health insurance?

Well, most of those ads are from an outfit called the Center for Consumer Freedom, or some outfit affiliated with CCF. And, just who or what is CCF? A marketing/PR arm of big agribusiness. Check it out here:

In a nutshell:

"The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) (formerly called the "Guest Choice Network") is a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries. It runs media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them "the Nanny Culture -- the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who 'know what's best for you.' "

So, the next time you see some ad telling you that something that's bad for you really isn't bad for you, just remember where it's coming from--people who want you to spend your money on their products, even though those products will make you sick and fat.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Scale or Not to Scale, That is the Question

T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain has ditched her scale (

I usually agree with what T-Rez writes, but this time I have to disagree. I'm a big believer in keeping track of one's weight when trying to both lose it and maintain it afterwards. I weigh myself several times a week religiously, and note any trends.

Note, that I say "trends." I don't obsess every time it shows a pound or two gained. Weight fluctuates a lot of a number of reasons, including water retention, so if I see I'm up a couple of pounds, I usually give it a day or two to see if it's an anomaly, or sign of a permanent weight gain.

And, tight fitting jeans aside, watching the scale tells you a whole lot faster if you've been gaining weight and need to make exercise and dieting changes than not weighing yourself regularity.

That said, I also back up my scale watching with measurement. I take my measurements regularly, and actually have records going back over ten years. It's easy, just keep a note-book with a measuring tape someone in your bedroom (or where you get dressed) and note down your measurements every couple of weeks or so. I record the following:

Under Bust:
Right Thigh:
Left Thigh

Just to give you an idea the last time I took my measurements, my stats were as follows:

Weight: 126.6 pounds
Bust: 38 inches
Under Bust 29 inches
Waist: 27 1/2 inches
Hips 35 3/4 inches
Right Thigh: 20 inches
Left Thigh: 20 inches

Back in May 2007 when I finally got serious about losing weight and toning up my stats were as follows:

Weight: 156 pounds
Bust: 39 1/2 inches
Under Bust: 31 inches
Waist: 32 Inches
Hips: 40 inches
Right Thigh: 23 1/2 inches
Left Thigh: 23 inches

Just to go back further in March of 1999 (which as before I had my second child), my stats were

Weight: 120 pounds
Bust: 36
Under Bust 29 1/2
Waist 28
Hips 37 1/2
Right Thigh: 21 1/2
Left Thigh: 21

Notice that although I weighed less, I actually had bigger measurements in the waist, hips and thighs then I do now. That's because muscle weighs more than fat, and I'm certainly more muscular than I was then (I'm also packing a couple of fibroids which I'm sure ups the weight as well).

So, it's not that I think the scale should be the end all and be all of measuring your weight loss success. It's just that I believe that using the scale, in conjunction with other guideposts (which can be a set of jeans), is still a good idea.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Praise for the Lowly Almond

There's a really good article on the weight-loss benefits of eating almonds here:
Raw, organic almonds are a regular part of my diet. I use them on salads, in place of croutons, to add both protein and crunch. When I'm feeling a bit peckish between meals, almonds make a great snack.
Almonds can be an important source of both protein and calcium--something all of us older gals need. They also pack in fiber and Vitamin E.
Most importantly, almonds fill you up and leave you satisfied. I find that eating a small handful of almonds when I'm feeling hunger pangs is all I need to keep me going for another couple of hours until meal-time.

What to Make For Dinner--Dijon-Crusted Fish with Roasted Asparagus

Last week the topic of making dinner for the family came up when you're trying to watch your own weight. I'm always trying to create new recipes that are healthy, low calorie, easy, quick, use no process foods, and, most importantly, are a breeze to clean up after.

I like to serve fish at least once a week because it's a great, lean, protein source and the Omega 3 in fish has many health benefits.

I usually have no idea what fish I'm going to serve when I go into the store. Rather than go in with some pre-conceived idea of what fish I'll buy, I like to see what looks good, and, most importantly, what's on sale. Why serve halibut if it's $20 a pound and looks like it's been sitting in the case for several days???

So, I developed a few recipes that can be used with a wide variety of fish. Dijon-Crusted Fish with Roasted Asparagus is what I made for dinner last night. It's a great recipe that can be made with a wide variety of fish (last night it was cod), utilizes any left-over bread I have in the house, and it's all baked on one big cookie sheet which I line with aluminum foil, so clean-up is a breeze.

Best of all, I can make the whole dish, from start to finish, including a big salad to serve on the side, in less than 40 minutes.

Dijon-Crusted Fish with Roasted Asparagus

1 1/2 pounds firm fleshed, boneless, skinless fish fillets such as salmon, halibut or cod
salt and pepper
Dijon Mustard
Bread Crumb topping (see recipe below)
2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and line a large, rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange fish on one half of the cookie sheet. Salt and pepper the fish and spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on each fillet. Spread the Bread Crumb topping over the fish and press into the Dijon mustard.

2. Arrange the asparagus spears on the other half of the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss with your hands to evenly coat each spear.

3. Cook for 15-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish) until the fish is cooked.

Bread Crumb Topping

1 six-inch piece of whole wheat, whole grain or multi-grain baguette, sliced in half lengthwise and toasted
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Break the bread up into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then add remaining ingredients. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Family for the Weekend

My family lives 1 hour and fifteen minutes away from me in NJ. Now, if I lived an hour and fifteen minutes away in NJ, this would be no big deal, and Mom, Dad and my sisters would be popping in and out of my house all the time.

But, because I live in another state, where they have to go through another state (NY) and over a big bridge (the Tappen Zee) to get here, my whole family just freaks out about visiting me. It's like I live in some different and exotic country (which is partially true).
So, when family visits, they often stay overnight (hence, the reason for the guest room and extra beds in the kids' rooms). This weekend, Mom and my one sister came Saturday and stayed overnight until Sunday. So I had overnight guests.

Saturday was predicted to be a wet, cold, miserable night, which proved accurate. Being the good daughter/sister, I planned a meal that was hearty, healthy and filling. I made Coq au Vin which is essentially braised chicken cooked in red wine and cognac.

Of course, I didn't want to make Coq au Vin without trying to "health it up" a bit. So I took the recipe, reduced the meat, and doubled some of the vegetables. I served it over brown basmati rice, and made a roasted beet and arugula salad on the side.

The meal was an outstanding success, and it made enough so that my husband and I had enough for leftovers on Sunday. The kids had basic baked chicken.

Here's the recipe:

Coq Au Vin

Olive oil
6 ounces good bacon
1 4 pound chicken cut up into 8 pieces, plus 2 split chicken breast cut into 8 pieces
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac
1 bottle dry red wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 bunch thyme leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons flour
1 pound frozen small white onions
2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat approximately 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy and lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon. Scoop out some of the bacon grease and leave approximately 3 tablespoons.

2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and salt and pepper. Brown in a single layer in the Dutch oven (you'll have to do batches), turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to a plate as its browned.

3. Add the carrots, diced yellow onions, celery and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add salt and pepper, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the Cognac and let cook until the alcohol burns off. Put the bacon, chicken and any collected juices back into the Dutch Oven. Add the wine, chicken stock, thyme and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the over for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven back to the stove (note you can get to this stage and stop several hours ahead. Just bring to a simmer and reheat on top of the stove prior to beginning the next step).

4. Cook over medium-low heat. Mash 2 tablespoons of the butter and flour together and stir into the Dutch oven. Add the frozen onions and mushrooms and simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and onions are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown basmati rice and sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lunch with the Girls

A very, very good friend who had breast cancer 20 years ago, was just diagnosed with Thyroid cancer last week (I'll call her M). Next Thursday she is having surgery to have her thyroid removed.

Now this friend is part of a "group." Fourteen years ago six of us started a playgroup for our then 3-5 month olds. The playgroup lasted until the kids were 4, the friendships are on-going. We still get together for birthdays, holidays special occasions, and just because we feel like.

So needless to say, one of us going into surgery is cause for support lunch. I had gone for an excellent hike this morning with another girlfriend (not part of the group), and had actually discussed M's diagnosis with her. I commented that the "group" was trying to get together prior to M's surgery to show support.

I guess what they say about Karma is true. Just as I walked into the house another member of the group (I'll call her M2), telephoned and asked if I could do lunch at noon. I have Tai Chi at 1 pm on Fridays, so I didn't think I could do it, then M2 mentioned that lunch was at a local pub right next to my Tai Chi studio.

Destiny was obviously at play here. How else could six, busy Moms all be able to make lunch on a moment's notice?

At the Pub I didn't have a lot of time, but ordered the "Pub Salad," (lettuce, cranberries, apples, walnuts, croutons and warm goat cheese with Raspberry Vinaigrette). I remembered to tell the waitress to hold the croutons, but forgot to ask for the dressing on the side (at least it was a vinaigrette). I also managed to leave most of the cheese and nuts on the plate before I had to leave.

M really appreciated us making the effort to see her, and all the offers to make dinner for her, her boyfriend and her boys. I unfortunately had to leave to get to my class, but feel blessed that I could spend that time with M (who's very into local politics and is still busy working prior to the election on November 3).

I just now have to get cooking.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Go Jack Go!

Jack LaLanne turns 95, looks great, is in perfect health and mentally alert. I loved the "fruit cake." I'd like to get one of those on my next birthday.

I remember my mother exercising to Jack LaLanne back in the 1960's, and even joining in with her for some of the exercises.

But Jack and Elaine LaLanne are prime examples of how good your life can be if you eat right and exercise.

My favorite line "You're fat because your father taught you to eat junk food."

I Didn't Know That!

I was reading this excellent opinion piece in USA Today arguing for a calorie added tax when I read this line:

"Add to these facts a recent study in the journal Environmental Health that found samples of the corn syrup also contained mercury — a metal that can cause neurological damage, especially in kids. A subsequent and more recent
industy-sponsored study at Duke University found no such contamination."

Because the Duke study followed the one that found the mercury in corn syrup, I'd like to find out who funded it. Chances are it's probably some outfit with financial interests tied to corn syrup.

I'm all for eliminated corn syrup from my family's diet, but if there's even the slighted chance that corn syrup can contain mercury, then I'm really going to step up efforts to do so.

BTW, you can read the rest of the opinion piece here:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Secret to a Good Night's Sleep

Earplugs. That's the secret.
I'm a big believer in getting enough sleep. I always try to get eight hours a night, and, if I've missed out on some sleep during the week, I try to make it up over the weekend.
There have been studies showing that people who don't get enough sleep, wind up craving more food during the day. I know that if I don't sleep well the night before, I want to go on a carb-feeding frenzy.
But I've been having problems for the last few years, getting quality sleep, because my husband started snoring. There are nights when I get nine or ten hours of bed time, and I still wake up exhausted because he's woken me up four or five times with his snoring. And then there are the nights with the steady snoring which send me into the guest room.
Last week my husband was on a business trip and I got to enjoy several blissful nights of totally uninterrupted sleep. I couldn't believe the increased energy, stamina and mental clarity I experienced.
Now I love my husband, but I was really considering decamping to the guest room permanently just to escape the night-time noise.
Then I had a revelation at the pharmacy. As I was paying for a prescription the other day I spotted a display of Mack's Pillow Soft Earplugs.
"Aha," I said, and took them off the rack to inspect. Just then another woman came up behind me and said, "I'd never sleep if it wasn't for earplugs. My husband snores like a bear."
Well I took them home and tried them that night, and the night after that, and the night after that.
What a difference!!! I slept soundly every night and was completely oblivious to my husband's night time rumblings.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What to Make for Dinner

T-Rez over at Queen of My Domain posits a question that all of us trying to watch or weight who have kids and husbands ask "What do I make for dinner?"
My general rule of thumb is to eat raw vegan for breakfast, lunch and snacks, but eat anything I want for dinner. That means that I'll generally eat fruit for breakfast, a salad or raw veggies and dip for lunch and fruit, veggies, raw nuts or dried fruits for snacks.

Now, I don't go hog wild and pile on the calories, fat, etc. for dinner. I try to make a sensible dinner for me and the family.

But, as T-Rez laments, when you have to please a family, you have to make compromises to your weight-watching regime.

Here's a few of the tricks I've picked up over the last two years to make sure that I eat sensibly at dinner while keeping the troops happy.

1. Start with salad. With bagged, pre-washed greens making a salad is easy as pie. I usually cut up red onions, cucumbers, peppers etc. in bulk once or twice a week and sprinkle them on my salads over the course of the week. I also avoid bottled dressings (two many chemicals, sugar etc) and make a big bottle of homemade dressing once a week. Here's the recipe for one of my favorites: I also like to thin out hummus with a water and fresh lemon juice for a creamy dressing. The kids may not eat the salad, but when I do, I eat less of the stuff that isn't so great for me.

2. Add veggies. If a recipe doesn't include any vegetables then just add them. I don't cook Mac & Cheese but you can easily steam and add fresh broccoli or add thawed frozen peas. Sliced cherry tomatoes are fantastic to add to a lot of pasta dishes as is baby spinach or arugula.

3. Increase the veggies, reduce the meat. I often make family favorites but with less meat and more veggies. For example, tonight's dinner is sausage and peppers. I used to use over two pounds of sausage when I made sausage and peppers. Tonight I'm using just a pound. I more than doubled the amount of peppers, tomatoes and onions I used to fill the family up, and serve it all over brown rice. I'll also generously sprinkle fresh parsley over the finished dish. If making chili, use less beef (and maybe switch to turkey or chicken) and more beans and tomatoes.

3. Cut calories where you can. My family loves breaded, fried foods, like chicken cutlets, fish, etc. When I make cutlets, e.g., I dip floured chicken in egg then the bread crumbs. Instead of just whole eggs, I now use just one whole egg and two egg whites. I also "dip lightly" and apply less breading than before. I also follow the "eat salad first" rule when breaded, fried foods are on the menu. Baking foods that are normally fried also works well in cutting calories.

4. Add a little raw to every meal. Whenever I can I try to add raw fruits and veggies to what I'm making. Meals like grilled tuna, pork or chicken with Mango salsa (see or Crispy Skin Salmon (see work well.

5. Make Dinner a salad. There are many salads that work for dinner. Things like Chef's Salad (see or Tuna or salmon Nicoise salad. The Barefoot Contessa also has a great recipe for a Warm Duck Salad I like. You can find it here:

A Morning Yoga Hike

This morning I went on a Yoga Hike led by two local gals. We started with 15 minutes of standing yoga postures, followed by a vigorous 1 1/2 mile hike (mostly uphill), and then finished with another 15 minutes of standing yoga postures.

Let's just say I'm wiped. I've hiked for 1 1/2 hours before, but not at the pace these gals took us through. I had to run at times to keep up.

I loved it. They're suggesting a 2 hour hike next week. I already told them to sign me up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Year's Resolutions, and How to Keep Them

This year I made the resolution to practice yoga every day. A full Ashtanga primary series practice, however, can take 1 1/2 hours to complete and, because my yoga studio is 15 minutes away, doing a full practice would mean two hours a day.
Doing that 7 days a week was obviously an impossibility. I'm lucky if I can fit in a full primary series at the studio once a week. The reality is that often all I can fit in is a 45 to 60 minute practice at the studio, and I was doing that at least 3 or 4 times a week. I knew that the only way I would be able to practice every day would be to practice at home on the days I couldn't get to the studio, and do whatever I could do, even if it was only 15 minutes of yoga.
But even that wasn't happening for most of the year. I usually keep my yoga mat in my car, which when it's not parked by the Arbor to my yard, is parked in the red and green barn beyond that. Yes, antique homes can be charming but they usually don't have attached garages, so I used to have walk a couple of hundred yards to get my mat out of the car to practice.
That didn't happen too often. Particularly on cold, wet days, I preferred to stay snug in the house then run out to the car to get my mat. And, trying to bring the mat into the house every time didn't work because there were always other things I needed to bring into the house, or out to the car.
Needless to say, I was doing a really poor job at keeping my resolution.
Finally, a couple of months ago I broke down and bought a second yoga mat. It pretty much made all the difference in the world.
I'm still not practicing every day, but I am practicing at least 5 times a week, and at least once a month actually do practice all seven days.
I've actually become really fond of my home practice. I still get to the studio 3 or 4 days a week for a half or 3/4 primary series practice, but at home I mix it up a bit. Sometimes I'll do an Ashtanga practice, and at others I'll do something completely different.
We have an on-demand service from our cable company, and one of the "free" options is "Mag Rack" which has, among other things, yoga and fitness shows. The line-up constantly changes and, depending on the week, there are 15,20, 30 or 40 minute options. Saturday, I did a 20 minute Radiant Heart yoga practice with Shiva Rea.
Other days I'll just do part of the Ashtanga series at home. Yesterday, I practiced three-quarters of the Ashtanga primary series.
Often, all I can squeeze in is a few sun salutations and hip openings.
I roll out my mat in my bedroom to practice, and, to further set the mood, light candles that I've arranged in my fireplace (it does work, but I've only actually burned logs in this fireplace twice in the time I've lived here).
So, while the goal of 7 days a week every week hasn't been met (yet), I am on the path in the right direction. And, if I can only spend 15 minutes in my bedroom alone, in front of a hearth glowing with candles, it's still better than nothing at all.

BitchCakes Does it again

BitchCakes has a truly inspirational post over at her blog. In it she talks about how exercise has become so important to her after years of being sedentary.

Check it out here:

You go girl!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thwarted, but Redeemed

Most weekday mornings I'm up at 5:15 to get my hour of cardio on the treadmill. There are those days, however, when I like to break up the routine (and get some extra sleep). This was one of those days.

In the summer I power walk outside first thing in the mornings. But once school starts and I have to get up at 5:15 it's just too dark. On the mornings when I sleep in, however, I still like to walk outside.

Unfortunately, I live in New England, and the weather does not always co-operate. We had a Nor'easter blow through here last night into this morning which brought cold rain and sleet. It looked like a walk outside was not in the cards (unless I wanted to get extremely cold and wet).

Wanting an alternative to the treadmill on bad weather days, a bought a dance cardio workout video several months ago. My girlfriend Maria, had been raving about The Tracy Anderson Method Dance Cardio Workout, so on her recommendation, I bought the DVD.

The first time I tried to use Ms. Anderson's workout, the DVD player in my bedroom didn't work. This week I finally got a new DVD player, and spent 45 minutes setting it up in my bedroom this morning.

But, it turns out the Tracy Anderson Method DVD didn't work. It's defective, and I probably can't take it back now since I've had it over three months.

The good news is that after I spent the 45 minutes setting up the DVD player, I looked outside and saw that the weather cleared up. So, I took my power walk outside.

I guess that all's well that ends well.

Now, I just have to buy a work-out DVD that actually works.

Exercise to live longer

I happen to like to exercise and be active. It's just my personality, I'm not all that sedentary by nature. But, in addition to weight loss, there are many, many health benefits to regular exercise.

And, according to new research it can extend your life. Check it out here:

CHICAGO – Even in the "oldest old," a little physical activity goes a long way, extending life by at least a few years for people in their mid- to late 80s, Israeli researchers found.

The three-year survival rate was about three times
higher for active 85-year-olds compared with those who were inactive. Getting less than four hours of exercise weekly was considered inactive; more than that was active.

The results "clearly support the continued encouragement of
physical activity, even among the oldest old. Indeed, it seems that it is never too late to start," the researchers wrote in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, which published the study.

They noted that exercise reaped benefits even for previously sedentary 85-year-olds; their three-year survival rate was
double that of inactive 85-year-olds.

Oldsters didn't have to be super-athletes to live longer; walking at least four hours weekly counted, even if it was just in 15-minute strolls a few times daily.

So, get up off your butt and move a little.

My Body, Myself

I've been somewhat loathe to post pictures of myself here for several reasons. For professional reasons, I prefer to retain my anonymity. Additionally, as you have all probably gathered, I'm not all that tech savvy, and taking and uploading photos to a blog is really not my forte.

But I was inspired by my fellow blogger Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit's big reveal this week (looking good Jack!), and thought I'd at least try to show part of myself. You can check Jack out here:

So I pulled out the digital camera, donned my Lucky jeans and a form fitting top and stood in front of several mirrors in the house taking pictures.

I learned a few things. First, if you leave the flash on when taking a picture of yourself in a mirror, the flash reflects in the mirror rendering the image unusable. Second, if you turn the flash off when taking a picture of yourself in a mirror and there's not enough light in the room, the image comes out blurry, rendering it unusable. Third, if you turn the camera sideways to get a full length shot, I have no idea how to rotate the photo so that it displays correctly here on blogger.

So, out of the 20 or so photos I snapped, only one was usable here. Next time, I'll try for a full length shot so you can get a better idea of my results. I'll also try to find a "before" snap one of these days, and if I can figure out how to blur my face or cut off my head, I'll post that too.

As to the photo above, as you can see, I'm not half bad looking for a 48 year old. My biggest disappointment in my weight loss/fitness/health journey is the stubborn refusal of my post-menopausal, post-pregnancy "muffin top" to dissipate no matter how much cardio and mid-section toning I do. While I won't stop trying to lose that mid-section roll, I guess it may be a permanent feature, and I'll have to live with it.

Yep, losing weight after 45 is the biggest bitch of all, but if I'm healthy, fit, have a good BMI, and feel good about myself, that's all that matters.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This is Why I don't Watch Paula Deen

I am a cooking show addict. When I switch on the TV looking for something to watch, the Food Network is one of the first channels I check. I'm always looking for new recipes and new things to cook (I love cooking), as well as just learning more about how to prepare really good food.

But, I have to admit there are a number of shows that I don't bother to watch. Sandra Lee bases her whole show on using processed foods, so I don't bother with her. Everyone else may think Rachel Ray is adorable, but she annoys the hell out of me.

And, the few times I've bothered to watch Paula Deen, I was just appalled at what she was making.

Well folks, the above creation of Paula Deen is exactly the reason why I just continue flipping through the channels when her show is on. It's a bacon cheese-burger on a buttered crispy Kreme donut. If you really want to pack on the pounds and increase your risk of a heart attack, you can add a fried egg.

I kid you not. Paula has made this caloric disaster on her show and serves it in her restaurants.

The health statistics of this cardiac arresting abomination are just outstanding. The donut bacon cheeseburger packs in a whopping 1,500 calories and 45-70 grams of fat (depending on whether or not you add a fried egg).

To burn off 1,500 calories, I'd have to walk on my treadmill at a 3.2 miles an hour at a 7% incline for 3 1/2 hours. I don't think it's worth it. Do you?

In case you think I'm besmirching Ms. Deen's name, here she is making it:

It's Not About Looking Like an Anorexic Teen-ager

I've been thinking about my previous post--the one about Ralph Lauren firing a 23 year old, five foot ten inch model who weighed 120 pounds for being too fat.

Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight shouldn't be about trying to look like the photo-shopped images of almost adolescent girls we're bombarded with in the media.

Losing weight and maintaining that weight should be about feeling good. Feeling good about ourselves, and feeling good health wise.

The reality is that carrying excess weight is bad for us health-wise. It can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a host of other problems.

And, there's something to be said about making ourselves feel good about ourselves. I was not happy with myself 40 pounds ago. I avoided mirrors and never let myself be photographed unless I was hiding my body behind something.

I worked hard to lose those 40 pounds not because I wanted to look like a model in a Ralph Lauren ad, but because I just wanted to feel more attractive. And, the only person I wanted to please was myself (sorry hubby).

I now feel good about myself, and I feel better than ever. I have the energy to tackle projects that I couldn't when I was lugging around 40 extra pounds of flab.

So Mr. Lauren, get real. I don't suggest using any tubbies in your ads, but at a minimum if your model is 120 pounds and 5 foot 10 inches, you don't have to photo-shop her to make her look even thinner.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If She's too Fat, then What the Hell am I???

Ralph Lauren fired this 23 year old 5 foot 10 inch model that weighs 120 pounds for being "too fat:"

What does that make me at 5 foot 2 inches and 128 pounds?? Obese??

Even more amazing, is how the Ralph Lauren people digitally distorted her image to look emaciated for a recent ad. Check it out at the link above. It's pretty obscene.

Rethink that Snack

I was reading an opinion piece concerning adorable Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver (Jamie, if I wasn't a happily married gal, you could cook for me anytime!) when I came upon this interesting factoid regarding snacks:

Oliver wants to change the way low-income communities approach meals. The problem is that the evidence suggests meals aren't driving the rise in obesity -- snacks are. A 2003 paper by economists David Cutler, Ed Glaeser and Jesse Shapiro looked at an array of different ways to measure caloric intake, and found that most meals aren't getting much bigger. Dinner, in fact, might be getting a bit smaller. The big increase in caloric intake actually came between meals. In 1977, Americans
reported eating about 186 calories outside of mealtimes. By 1994, that had rocketed to 346 calories. It's likely even higher now. That difference alone is enough to explain the changes in our national waistline. And it won't go away if we begin cooking dinners but still are purchasing 20-ounce bottles of Coke at
the office.

You can read the entire opinion piece here:

I have to admit to being a bit of a "grazer." I like to much all day. Recognizing that this was unlikely to change, I made a conscious effort to change what I was munching on. I now usually have carrots, grapes or something similar to snack on throughout the day.

Repulsing the Monkey

I've taken several tai chi classes, and I'm really enjoying them. I studied ballet until I was sixteen, and the slow, flowing movements of tai chi are reconnecting me to my inner child-hood ballerina.

What I particular like is the "homework" you're given at the end of class. The instructor gives each student a series of movements to practice at home until the next class.

I've gotten into the routine of doing ten to fifteen minutes of tai chi practice most nights before I climb into bed. I do a short warm up, then practice my tai chi movements a few times. It's calming and relaxing and the perfect pre-bed routine.

Plus, tai chi burns approximately 230 calories in an hour, so if I do ten minutes a night that's approximately an additional 270 calories burned a week which could mean an additional 4 pounds lost or not gained in a year!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apples in the Air???

Funny, I blogged about apples this morning and then came upon two articles touting apples health and weight loss benefits.

You can read about how apples are one of the five healthiest foods for Fall here:

Here's a piece touting research on how eating apples helps with weight loss:

The Apple of My Eye

My attempt to take the kids apple picking on Friday was thwarted by the weather, but the rest of the weekend was beautiful so we went apple picking on Sunday afternoon.
We took a long leisurely drive through Litchfield County to this beautiful orchard set high on a hill top. We picked Rome, Red Delicious and Green apples with a backdrop of New England foliage.
What can I say? It was just one of those perfect days.
But picking apples was about more than just enjoying the scenery. Apples are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. There is a reason for that old saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."
A large apple has just 115 calories, but is loaded with fiber, Vitamin C and has 0% fat.
Just one large apple fills me up for most of the morning, and two large apples is a breakfast that gets me through the entire morning.
I also love to juice apples--either alone or in combination with other fruits and veggies. Apple/carrot juice is surprisingly yummy.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Someone on my local board of education thought it would be just peachy to turn Columbus Day into a 4 day weekend by giving the kids today, the Friday before Columbus Day, off. I guess the board thought it would be nifty that we could all take four day mini-holidays.

The only problem is, of course, that my husband doesn't get Columbus day off (does anyone other than school or government employees get the day off anymore?). That means we're not going anywhere, and it also means I have to entertain the kids, by myself, for two full days.

So, I had a whole day planned out of hiking and apple picking today. The hike would be hearty exercise, and the apple picking would (hopefully) inspire the kids to actually eat the apples we pick.

The weather, however, wouldn't co-operate. The report this morning said chance of rain. Being the optimist I took the kids out early for the hike. Twenty-five minutes in, however, the rain started coming down. We managed to get 40 minutes of hiking in prior to the real heavy stuff coming down, and the leaves on the trees provided somewhat of a natural umbrella for us.

By the time we got back to the car, apple picking was definitely history, so it was off to the stores to get some errands accomplished.

Now we're back and it's only 2:30 in the afternoon!!! Suggestions anyone???

Maybe we'll make a gingerbread haunted house.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Really??? Soy Can Make you Fat???

I found this article on the Estrogen-Fat Connection incredibly interesting:

I of course knew that excess estrogen is one reason why women gain weight as they age. But it was when I got to the recommendations as to what to do to avoid excess estrogen that I got blown away. I already knew that synthetic chemical were a culprit in spiking estrogen (a good reason not to use them in your home and to eat organically.)

But she also recommends cutting back on soy intake.

Now I don't eat a lot of soy because it makes me congested (another side effect of soy is mucus production just like dairy)--but it adds to estrogen???

Now that's something I didn't know.

Weight Nags

You have to love this--a website that nags you once a week about losing weight. Check it out here:

Here's what they have to say:

"Tired of not being motivated to work out?

Face it, Fatty, you need someone to bug you about it every 15 minutes don't you? Otherwise, you wouldn't be looking for an online personal trainer.

You need to be motivated and WeightNags will do what you can't."

And for those of you who want a bit more tough love, for $4.95 a month they'll text nag you.

I think I'll sign up for the once a week free nag. After all, I loved "Skinny Bitch," which was one long harangue.

Call Me Fat and You Die

To me being fit and losing weight is about making myself happy and being healthy. I'm too often reminded, however, of the external pressures that society puts on us, particularly if we're women, to meet some idealized standard of beauty which may not actually be healthy.

After all, we all can't be anorexic teen-age girls who live on cigarettes? Yet, that's exactly what many models are, even though they're wearing clothes meant to be worn by women who are considerably older.

Here's a good example of what I mean. Nicole Eggert used be be one of the Baywatch Babes. Here she is years later, after having put on a few pounds. From what I gather, she's been getting heavily criticized (excuse the pun) for doing what we women do naturally when we get older-we get heavier.

Now, after watching this video I have to say that Ms. Eggert should definately scrap the too small bikini, but she would still be quite attractive in a nice Tankini that covered her stomach. Another thing about getting older--you have to dress your age.

Ms. Eggert looks healthy here, and while she could stand to lose a few pounds, she certainly isn't "fat." I love her sense of humor in answering her critics. You go girl!!

There seems to be some problems in viewing this video via Blogger, so check it out here at this link:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Culture Clashes

My husband and I are one of those argumentative couples. We both like to argue, and whether it's politics, the media, fashion, who should sit next to who at a dinner party etc., it's bound to an active debate between the two of us.

But probably the biggest area of clashes revolves around food--both how we should eat and how to feed the kids.

I grew up in a somewhat unusual situation. My mother, most unusual for the 1960's, worked full time. My grandmother, who lived with us, actually raised my sisters and I and did all the cooking, cleaning etc.

My grandmother, being an Italian immigrant, cooked like an Italian immigrant. Everything was cooked from scratch, there was little meat, and most meals revolved around vegetables, beans, eggs and pasta. She also did the shopping and never brought home what she called "American Food" meaning boxes of processed cookies, cereals or candy.

This was, of course, the food my mother grew up with so she had no complaints. My father, the son of Italian immigrants, was substantially older than my mother (and was in fact only a few years younger than my grandmother), so it was also the food he was used to eating.

We never ate "dessert" in the traditional sense, other than on Saint's feast days, holidays or at a party. Our "dessert" consisted on my father bringing a bowl of food to the table every night, cutting and peeling that fruit, then distributing it amongst the rest of it.

Thus, the only time I was ever to eating steak for dinner or processed foods like Hamburger Helper was if I ate at somebody else's house. It was a huge treat to get chocolate pudding at a friend's house.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a Jewish household in a family that had been in this country for several generations already. He routinely ate meals like pot-roast, steak, and brisket. He says he couldn't remember a single meal growing up that dinner center around meat. Additionally, his mother kept boxes of sugary cereals, like Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops, in the pantry along with boxes of Chips Ahoy and Oreos. Candy was a frequent treat and no one regulated how much or when he ate.

Once I left home my diet "Americanized" somewhat in that I started buying and eating processed food. But I always seemed to focus on what was "healthy" and "natural." Once I started living with my husband, while I gave in and cooked meat more and more frequently, I still refused to buy what I thought of as processed "junk food." My husband, bought it for himself, because I didn't even want it in my home.

Now that we have children, the real culture clashes have begun, and though I was losing for a while, I think I'm finally making headway with my husband. My husband often takes the kids for ice cream (sorbet for my son who's allergic to milk), candy and other treats (like going to fast food restaurants which I abhor).

For years I've been arguing with him that he's doing his children no favors by filling them with junk, and that he makes it harder to introduce them to food that's good for them. Why eat a healthy plate of baked potato when you know Daddy will get you French fries tomorrow? His response has always been "They're kids, they should be able to eat like kids."

But I always say that what you teach your children now, carries over into adulthood. Why teach them bad eating habits now that they'll have to unlearn later?

Now that my husband is having his heart scare, he seems to be finally listening to me. Maybe finally, I can convince him to just stop buying the junk.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Theme

I've been pretty busy with work in the last week, so I've been somewhat derelict in keeping up with my daily reading of my fellow diet bloggers. When I do get around to it, I seem to pick up running themes.

This time I noticed that Jack Sh*t Gettin' Fit, and Queen of my Domain both wrote about sticking with your weight loss routine even if things aren't going exactly as you had hoped (i.e., your weight loss isn't what you wanted it to be.) Check out Jack here:, and QOMD here:,

I remember when I started my weight loss journey I had all these crazy goals to lose X pounds by this event. Well, it didn't happen. In fact, for the first two months despite increasing my exercising and cutting back on my eating I lost a grand total of two pounds. It was very frustrating and I seriously thought about just giving up.

Setting goals to lose a certain number of pounds by a certain date can do more to discourage your weight loss efforts than to encourage them. As the name of my blog says, Losing Weight after 45 is a Bitch. It takes a lot of real hard effort and self control to even lose 2 pounds a week, never mind five (which really is an impossibility if you want to lose it long term).

Realistic weight loss for the long term may only be 1/2 to 2 pounds a week. And, many weeks you won't even lose that. So instead of focusing on losing 10 pounds in 10 weeks, just focus on losing 10 pounds, and set up a reward for yourself when you finally reach that goal. When the day comes when you step on the scale and you've gone from 150 to 140 pounds, go get a massage at a fancy day spa, or get that Blue Dress you know will show off your new figure.

By focusing on losing pounds, instead of focusing on dates, you don't set yourself up to be discouraged when you don't meet those goals. And, attitude is everything when you're trying to slim down and get healthy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Food Shopping Rule

I've frequently seen the advice to "shop the perimeters" of the grocery store because the interior aisles contain most of the unhealthy, over processed crap that hamper dieting goals.

Well, I thought up a new rule--make the majority of your food-related purchases (cleaning products don't apply) fruits and vegetables. In other words, more than 50% of your food purchases in any given grocery store visit should be from the produce aisle.

Of course we all need to make non-produce food purchases, such as pasta, rice, etc., but if you really make the conscious effort to fill your cart with mostly produce, you'll eat mostly produce.

Try it on your next shopping jaunt.

Drink Up!!!

Turns out that moderate alcohol consumers (about 1.5 glasses of wine a day), exercised more, on average, than light or moderate drinkers. Check it out here:

A recently released study proves that moderate female drinkers, those who imbibe more than 45 drinks a month (which seems like a lot of drinking, although it really only averages out to
just shy of 1.5 glasses of wine a night) exercised 14 more minutes per week on average than those light drinkers who drank one to 14 drinks in the month. These women also reported exercising on average 20 minutes more than those who abstained from alcohol altogether. Also, drinkers of both sexes were 10 percent more likely than their sober peers to exercise vigorously in any given week.
I have to admit that I'm one of those people who likes a glass of wine or two at the end of the day. I grew up in one of those Italian households were the adults drank wine every day and insisted it was good for you to do so. It seems that they are now being proven right in study after study demonstrating the health benefits of moderate wine drinking.

My husband and I often sit around sipping a little vino at the end of the night and just talking. I almost never drink hard alcohol or never developed a taste for beer (which is good considering the calories in both).

So, I guess my end of the day wine habit may be, in actuality, a good thing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No, I'm not Stupid, But You Must Think I am

The New York City Department of Health has a new campaign trying to convince people to drink less soda, because it leads to obesity and obesity leads to health problems. The campaign features posters which say "Are you pouring on the pounds."

Here's what the NYC Department of health had to say:

"On average, Americans now consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 30 years ago. Nearly half of these extra calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks. When Health Department researchers surveyed adult New Yorkers about their consumption of soda and other sweetened drinks, the findings
showed that more than 2 million drink at least one sugar-sweetened soda or other sweetened beverage each day - at as much as 250 calories a pop.... The Health Department advises parents not to serve their kids punch, fruit-flavored drinks
or "sports" and "energy" drinks.... If you order a sugar-sweetened beverage, ask for a "small."....if you enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages, make them an occasional treat and not a daily staple.

Now you don't think that Big Food would take that lying down do you? I mean, if the NYC health department actually convinces parents to think twice about serving that sugar laden chemical concoction to their kids, it could cut into profits.

So, the above ad appeared in today's New York Times. A full page ad, I should add. The ad plainly states that it was paid for by the Center for Consumer Freedom. Well, who the hell do you think the CFF is? It's a rather nefarious group set up in a way that allows its donors to remain secret (

Gee, I wonder who would want to fund an attack ad against a city-wide campaign trying to get people to limit soda consumption and keep it a secret? Maybe Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

Come on guys, you asked if we're stupid, and lucky for us we're not. If you really believe in your ad, then have the balls to fund it in a way that allows people to see who's funding it.

Normal Food

You're just fooling yourself if you think eating low-cal, low fat, ultra processed foods is really going to help you lose weight.

I was watching Dr. Oz the other day on the Morning Joe show, and he commented that when you eat eat nutritionally devoid food, your body absorbs the calories and turns them into fat, but then still craves more food because it didn't get the nutrients we need to survive.

So, eating a 100-calorie pack will not satisfy your hunger, because its nutritionally dead.

I came upon this little piece in a newsletter which further emphasizes the point . It's rather short so I'll paste the whole thing here:

Article compliments of Letter from the Editor, Jurriaan Kamp, Editor and Chief of Ode Magazine, June/July 2009 issue

'There's an old Dutch expression that says, "Act normal; that's crazy enough!" I'm not a big fan of this proverb, so characteristic of the modern mentality in my homeland, where anything different, creative or fun tends to be disparaged. But when it comes to eating, I'm all for it. In the past century, processing food has turned into an industry. Cooking has
become much less laborious.

It used to take all day to make supper; now you can have it on the table in the blink of an eye. That's the good news.Slowly but surely, however, the corporate food giants started to add and subtract all kinds of things. This led to confusion at the supermarket. Sugar was considered bad, so sugar-free products were invented (even as fluoride was added to toothpaste to protect our teeth). Alcohol and caffeine were undesirable components of beer and coffee, so we came
up with alternatives. Carbohydrates were cast as too much of a good thing; Thus, we were presented with low-carb products. Fat was no good either because it led to high cholesterol, which was tied to coronary artery disease, hence the proliferation of low-fat items. These "smart" products were hugely profitable but haven't made us healthier. Obesity is rampant, the
incidence of diabetes is exploding and these trends go hand-in-hand with our changing eating habits.It's better not to manipulate food. It's healthier to eat it as it is, without additions or subtractions, without artificial
ingredients, colors or other craziness. Tomatoes are healthier than ketchup; sugar - in moderation - is better than the substitute aspartame, which has been linked to cancer. Flour, too, is better the less it's refined; it's more nutritious with vitamins and minerals intact. Even fat isn't as
bad as we've been told. We need fat, the good old-fashioned stuff we've been eating for centuries, not the manipulated variety. Ordinary fat (again, in moderation) is healthy.

The simple message is: Stick as closely as possible to the original food. That means no chemicals, such as
fertilizers or pesticides. It doesn't mean there's no place for
convenience. You can make a pizza without odd ingredients; check out your natural foods store. The trick is to eat "normally" - which is crazy enough.'

So eat real foods if you want to be healthy and lose weight.