Monday, January 31, 2011

It Definitely Get's Harder as You get Older

Kim Cattral, who played the slutty, sex siren Samatha on Sex in the City, talks about how it gets harder to stay in shape as she gets older, particularly because she loves to eat. Read it here:

I can relate. I grew up in a big Italian family, were food was always the central focus of every celebration. That instilled in me the idea that food was indulged in whenever you celebrated (along with copious amounts of wine).

Yet, my family also had some very good attitudes about food. Junk food was never allowed, everything was always cooked from scratch. My little old Italian grandmother, who lived with us, would scoff at the idea of Tomato Sauce from a jar. Nana was a bit ahead of her time and pointing out the crap that made up the bulk of store bought processed foods. "Read the label," she'd say, "you really want to eat that??"

In other words, we ate a lot at times, but everything we ate was made with fresh, real ingredients. We also balanced out our overindulging with modest meals. Since Nana lived with us, most meals were cooked by her, and Nana cooked like an Italian peasant. Meat was a rarity, most meals were vegetarian, although we never thought of them that way. Beans and pasta was a typical meal. When there was meat, it was almost a condiment for week-day meals. If we had any kind of a roast, it would be something along the lines of a leg of lamb at Easter.

Since Nana did the shopping as well, we never had processed snack foods in the house. On occasion we'd get a bag of chips, or candy bar as a treat when we were out, but if we ate cookies (which we actually did quite a bit), it was because we made them. Cookie baking was actually a big family affair prior to any holiday (and we had a lot of them).

That way of cooking and eating led to no one in my family having a weight problem other then my Dad who indulged in junk food like donuts and cake at work. Even his weight problem wasn't significant (and he's still going strong in his mid-80's).

I never weighed more then 98 pounds the whole time I lived at home. I never broke the 100 pound mark until I went away to college, where I experienced the same thing my older sister did. My weight shot up over 20 pounds in one year. The food in the cafeteria was typical American fare and there was too much of it.

I learned to master my eating habits, and exercise more to control my weight in college. But even when I went out on my own, in my own apartment, my diet was still "Americanized." I ate more processed and junk foods.

I was able to maintain my weight through exercise for years, until I hit menopause when I suddenly gained close to 45 pounds in three years. I'm only 5 foot 2 inches, and small boned so this was significant.

I was still exercising (I never stopped), but the only way to lose the weight I found, was to un-Americanize my diet and go back to my food roots. No processed convenience foods and no junk food. The bulk of my diet became raw fruits and vegetables, meat a rarity, and I learned to eat a lot fewer calories.

The bulk of the weight came off.

But I have to get real here, because of my age, keeping it off is a bitch. As you get older, you just can't eat the way you did when you were younger and keep any semblance of a figure.

Yes, losing weight after 45 is a bitch, and the only thing you can do is accept it, eat less and exercise more.

The Perfect Breakfast Food

A nice little piece about my favorite breakfast food--oatmeal. Read it here:

Now, I've sung the praises of oatmeal before. You can scroll down through my blog and see I do and ode to oatmeal at least once a year. It fills you up for the entire morning with few calories, and the fiber is wonderful for your health.

But there's oatmeal and then there's oatmeal. If you eat those pre-flavored, quick cooking packages of oatmeal, well, you might as well eat a bowl of Captain Crunch. You'll get about as much sugar and almost no fiber.

My favorite oatmeal these days is Bob's Red Mill's organic extra thick rolled oats.

Making it is simple and takes less then five minutes. Simply measure in 1/3rd of a cup of oatmeal, 2/3rds of a cup liquids (I use 1/3rd cup almond milk, 1/3rd cup water). That's the basic recipe. Then I add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a handful of raisins, blueberries if I have them on hand and a drizzle of real maple syrup. I microwave for 2 minutes and 45 seconds, and I have a hot, steaming bowl of weight loss goodness.

This morning I had fruit for breakfast, but they are predicting yet another major snowstorm. We're supposed to only get 5 to 6 inches here in Connecticut, but it's nice to know that if I get struck with a major storm again, I can at least have a hearty breakfast before I go out and shovel again.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Managing Calories at the Outback Steak House

My son's 16th birthday was Wednesday, but because of the latest blizzard, we didn't get around to celebrating it until last night.

And how did we celebrate it?

When asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, my son said he wanted to go to the Outback Steak-house.

So off we went. Now, usually I order salads or fish at Outback, being mindful that sometimes these are not the best options. I always find it best to check calorie counts at the restaurant's website prior to going which is here: I can't wait until calorie counts on menu are required, so I can avoid this step.

I don't know if it was the blizzard, the cold weather or what, but I didn't want to hear about fish or salad last night. I was in one of my rare red wine and red meat moods.

Now, ordering food at restaurants can be a caloric disaster. Particular at a chain. If I order ordered the New Zealand rack of lamb dinner, as is, it would have totaled a whopping 1,778 calories.

Now, because of my age, weight and size, I can only consume about 1,700 calories in a day without gaining weight so this was not going to fly.

So here's what I did. The rack of lamb by itself is 1303 calories, but most of those calories are in the sauce and the seasoned butter they put on top. I ordered it sans butter and with the sauce on the side. That got the calories on the entree down to around 540 calories (the calories in a 9 oz. rack of lamb). I shared some of my lamb with my husband, shaving off a few more calories.

The steamed seasonal vegetables as is are 108 calories. By ordering them without the butter they are a mere 48 calories.

Finally, the garlic mashed potatoes have 367 calories. I substituted a sweet potato without the butter and brown sugar (I just used Cinnamon and a little salt.) That got me down to 180 calories.

So the grand total was 1,264 calories. Still high and I'll have to do some make up eating and exercising today, but I still managed to shave 514 calories off the meal.

Now, I still would have done better by ordering something such as the salmon which comes in at 525 calories (411 calories without the butter), the seared Ahi tuna (an appetizer I order as an entree) only has 479 calories, but this was basically an infrequent indulgence (we all need that once and a while).

I also avoided any appetizers or desserts (we never order dessert, but my husband and I do usually share and appetizer), so overall, I did good. Could have been better, but we can't be saints all of the time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Turn down that Thermostat??

I don't know what to make of this:
In a nutshell, new research is showing that warm houses in the Winter may be contributing to obesity. Here's what the article had to say:

TUESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Higher indoor temperatures during the winter may be contributing to rising rates of obesity in the United States and other developed countries, according to a new British study.

Reduced exposure to cold may affect the ability to maintain a healthy weight by minimizing the need for energy expenditure to stay warm, as well as reducing the body's capacity to produce heat, said the researchers.

They found that winter indoor temperatures in the United States and the United Kingdom have increased over the past few decades, which means people are spending more time in milder temperatures.

"Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life and reduce the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress -- meaning we're burning less energy. This could have an impact on energy balance, and ultimately have an impact on body weight and obesity," study author Fiona Johnson, a researcher in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said in a UCL news release.

Here's my 2 cents. I've noticed that when it's too comfortable indoors, you don't go outdoors. If you stay indoors, you're more likely to sit and eat. If you go outdoors you're more likely to move. So maybe it's the lack of movement that is actually leading to the weight gain?

I've written in the past that I've gotten into the habit of leaving the air conditioning off for most of the summer. With it on, neither me or the kids went outside. With it off, I go out and putter in the garden, the kids will play on the swing set, etc.

As far as Winter goes, I live in a 19th century New England farmhouse, and there's just no getting the place warm. People always comment about how cold it is in here. I've adjusted by having warm sweaters, etc., but I always laugh at women who show up here wearing nothing but a thin silk blouse when it's 20 degrees or less outside.

"Nice" Processed versus "Scary" Processed

I cook from scratch as much as I can, using whatever fresh fruits or vegetables I can find. But let's get real here, it's Winter in New England, and we just had yet another huge dump of snow, so there's no way in hell I can't fall back on processed foods to feed my family.

The issue is, of course, that there are "good" processed foods and bad processed foods. A difference explained here:

There are a number of pantry staples I fall back on when cooking at home. To the extent I can, I try to only by organic products that come in BPA-free packaging. Here are just a few of the "good" processed foods I keep in my kitchen to get me through a long, cold, snowy Winter:

  • frozen peas
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • cans of beans and lentils
  • whole wheat pasta
  • brown rice
  • whole wheat couscous
  • frozen corn
  • sweet potatoes
  • frozen shrimp
  • canned tomatoes
  • different kinds of flours
  • raw almond butter
  • dried fruits such as raisins
  • nuts

The point is, of course, that it's nearly impossible to eliminate all processed foods from my diet. Nor, would I want to. Coming from an Italian back-ground there's no way I'm giving up my pasta!!!

But, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to make the distinction between foods that have been minimally processed so that they can be preserved, and those processed to the point that they're barely recognizable as food.

As the article correctly pointed out:

On the other end of canning field are pre-packed lunch "kits" that typically combine cardboard, plastic, crackers, cheese flavored rubber, glue, cellophane, "luncheon meat," brick-like cookies and something called a juice box. (If I believed in the devil, I'd consider these products the work of its hands.) And of course, there's ordinary junk food (cheese popcorn, pretzels, crackers, chips, candy, cookies, soda), canned spaghetti with sauce, Spam, Vienna sausage (unheard of in Austria), cake mixes, frozen burritos, microwaveable sandwiches and an endless array of boxed cereals and protein bars (some better than others).

Unfortunately, the latter group creates so many health problems in children and adults -- from type 2 diabetes and obesity, to run of the mill sugar and salt jonesing. Devoid of nutrition and brimming with all sorts of chemical preservatives, highly processed foods are seductive to people of every economic level from middle class families and the working poor who find temporary emotional comfort from the crap that fills their carts. Next time you're slogging through the free sample offerings at Costco or the grocery aisles at a Walmart Supercenter, live in the moment and look at your fellow shoppers' baskets. And then look at them -- but don't stare! Maybe it's not scientific but on the ground observation contains a lot of truth.

Just remember that you'll weigh what you eat. Eat "scary" processed foods and you'll weigh more then you should and have health problems to boot. If your diet is mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, and minimally processed foods, you'll weigh less and be healthier.

So clear out and restock your pantry today.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dr. Atkins was not an original

It turns out that someone else came up with the low carb diet 150 years earlier then him:;_ylt=AvCWWrFuYvKfuad3oSOJMRjVJRIF;_ylu=X3oDMTMyODFtb2kwBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMTI1L3VzX21lZF9oZWFsdGhiZWF0X2RpZXRpbmdfaGlzdG9yeQRjcG9zAzMEcG9zAzYEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yeQRzbGsDMTUweWVhcnNvZmRp

Yes, fad dieting has a long history, so it's amazing that people haven't caught on that they JUST DON'T WORK.

Sorry, a eating a special cookie for six weeks isn't going to do anything for you weight-wise, if you go back to eating fast food and doing nothing but sitting on the sofa all day.

If you really want to lose weight, and keep it off, you have to make real permanent changes to how and what you eat. You also have to learn to move more.

It's that simple. No one said it better than Jack LaLanne, so in homage to him, we'll let him explain it.

Mental Health Break

Just eat a goddamn vegetable:

Good advice.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Tribute to Jack LaLanne

Stop Being so Tired.

His advise made sense then, and still makes sense today.

RIP Jack LaLanne

The Godfather of working out and eating healthy, Jack LaLanne is dead at 96.

Among other things, LaLanne was at the forefront of eating naturally to be healthy long before Michael Pollan and others came on the scene. He is credited with saying: "If man made it, don't eat it."

Another notable quote: "The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," LaLanne said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."

If you go to YouTube and search for old Jack LaLanne clips from is old show, what really strikes you is just how sane his advice was to lose weight and be fit. He essentially said, move more and eat better.

His advice is just as relevant now as it was thirty years ago.

Which makes it so sad to think that we, as a nation, have gotten lazier and fatter since then.

We miss you Jack!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Menopause and Weight Gain

I don't have a lot of time to comment, but I found this interesting:

I found that once I started going into menopause I had to eat about 20% fewer calories and exercise a lot more intensely and longer just to maintain my pre-menopausal weight. And, to be perfectly honest, I really need to lose another 5 or 6 pounds just to get back to my pre-menopausal weight (never mind my pre-kids weight).

If anything, I'm less sedentary now then I was 4 or 5 years ago, and I still seem to put on weight much more easily then I did ten years ago. And, I'm also drinking less alcohol now then I did then as well because I have to watch every calorie that I consume.

So, while the advice in this article was good, it still doesn't explain the reasons for the weight gain.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Post-boomer Female Mid-Life Crisis

It seems that when men reach that certain age, they get mistresses and fast little cars. Women, on the other hand, when they begin to feel the ennui of middle age, practice yoga. At least that's the theory of the New York Times. You can read about it here:

I was somewhat astonished to find out that my devotion to a 2,000 year old practice had more to do with middle age then enlightenment. The Times wrote:

"Today the daughters of these runaway moms, having arrived at the shores of middle age, are taking flight, too. But they’re not, by and large, dumping their husbands. They’re not looking to the job market with expectations of liberation.

Instead, they’re fleeing to yoga, imitating flight in the downward-gazing contortion called the crow position. They’re striving, through exquisite new adventures in internal fine-tuning, to feel more deeply, live more meaningfully, better inhabit each and every moment of each and every day and attain “a more superior, evolved state of being,” as Claire Dederer puts it in her just-published book, “Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses,” the latest installment in the burgeoning literature of postboomer-female midlife crisis."

Of ocurse, my mother never "dumped" my father. They've been married over 50 years, thank you very much. I also had my day in the sun in the job market, having worked as an attorney in one of the largest, most prestigious, law firms in New York. Indeed, I still work as a freelance journalist which has more to do with economic necessity then liberation.

I also found this tidbit from the Times interesting, although I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

"The values and beliefs and practices that go into sustaining and maintaining the way right-thinking, highly educated, generally affluent folk go about living their lives today ­— and that have made yoga a multibillion-dollar-a-year escape from the crush of modern life — are not rejected. Rather, as ever, the women question themselves. They can always be — must always be — further perfected, their performance of selfhood more highly refined."
Gee, what would I have done without the Times to explain my decision to practice yoga to me?.

OK, this is the reality. I started practicing yoga when I had severe back pain seven years ago. I am naturally quite stiff, particularly in the hamstrings, quadriceps and hip region, and that led to a lot of pain due to sciatica. I was told to practice yoga, focusing on stretching out this area, and it worked. The pain went away.

Along the way, I also discovered it was a phenomenal exercise practice for strength and toning, and I enjoyed the spiritual aspect of it as well.

Women, as we age, lose muscle, and less muscle means fewer calories that we can consume, which leads to more fat. Yoga, particularly the more strenuous practices like Ashtanga, help to build and retain muscle, so naturally, they're great toning and weight loss (although you still need an aerobic activity ).

Plus, when you're a working mother with an autistic child adding exercise into the daily routine can add stress to an already stressful life. So doesn't it make sense to practice yoga which is proven to reduce stress?

While the idea that practicing yoga is just the latest incarnation of women seeking an outlet for their mid-life crisis is an easy, pat explanation for the current popularity of yoga, I think it's hogwash. Anyone who has devoted themselves to the practice of yoga can tell you it is so much more than that.

Besides, how does it explain all the dudes doing yoga?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'll Believe it when I see It

Wal-Mart announced that they will make and sell healthier foods. Among the changes they've announced is a reduction of salt and sugar in processed foods, and a reduction in produce prices.

You can read about it here:

Personally, I think that if you're serious about losing weight and eating healthy, you shouldn't be shopping for food in Wal-Mart. However, I realize that in many parts of the country, you really don't have a choice. It's Wal-Mart or nothing.

I'm also somewhat dubious as to Wal-Mart's actually doing what they promised. It's one thing to announce that you're going to do something, and quite another thing to do it. If Wal-Mart begins to think that making food "healthier" is negatively impacting profits, you can bet dollars to dimes that they'll go right back to the old formulations and pricing.

If, however, Wal-Mart does carry through on its promise, it will be a good step in the right direction for the whole country's waist-line problem. It certainly won't fix the problem, but it will help.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Los Angeles, Let Jamie in!!!

Jamie Oliver wants to bring his Food Revolution to LA, but the LA school district authorities don't want to hear about it. They're claiming that they don't want the "drama" (reality check, isn't this Hollywood?)

Jamie is still going ahead in LA, but let's get real here, it just won't be the same if Jamie is not interacting with Lunch Ladies. Read about it here:

Come on LA, we need more Jamie on TV. Not only is he absolutely adorable to watch, but he really knows how to get the good eating message out.

Plus, you're LA. You must be used to reality TV crews by now. And, as far as drama is concerned, you probably get more of it from teen-age drama queens.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yet Another Reason to Go Organic

New research suggests that organic milk is healthier:

Mental Health Break

Working out circa 1945, although something tells me that these women didn't lose any weight nor tone any muscles despite grinning and bearing it.

Is it just me or does this video remind you of the Shake Weight TV ads? Same kind of crazy device promising weight loss and toning with no real effort.

One thing that has improved a thousand-fold since the 1940's--work-out outfits. Even if the 1940's babes were toning anything, how could you tell under those lumpy grey sweats?

BTW, did you notice how the camera lingered on that pointy bra set? The video may have been targeted to women, but obviously filmed and edited by a guy.

The Good Thing about Being a Skier is . . .

The good thing about being a skier is that you can look out your window to the 26 inches of snow falling in your yard and get psyched for the weekend.

In case you haven't heard, New England has been getting socked with snow this winter.
The storms this year have been coming one on top of the other.

There is so much snow piled up in my drive-way, that we're running out of room to park the cars. My children had 2 days off from school last week, and now they 're off again today.

But, unlike many of my friends and neighbors, I'm not in a constant state of grousing due to the snow. Because I ski (and have a house in New Hampshire), I see snow as a good thing.

Last night I just came back from three glorious days in New Hampshire. I cross-country skied one day, alpine skied the other, and on the third day took a walk on my snowshoes across Lake Sunapee.

All three activities are fabulous calorie burning exercises (and I worked quite a few muscles as well), but, they also get me out of the winter gloom and funk that most people seem to work themselves into every year.

So, instead of looking at snow as a negative, think positive. There are plenty of activities you can do to get yourself (and your family), outside and enjoying the snow. Strap on a set of skis, snow-shoes, or ice skates or grab a sled or a tube and get yourself outside and moving.

The snow and ice is only here for a few months, get outside and enjoy it!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Losing Weight Starts in the Kitchen

Just an interesting little piece which agrees with what I always say--If you want to lose weight and keep it off then you need to make your own food:<

Frankly, I don't understand why people don't cook from scratch more. It really takes less time and effort then constantly driving around looking for prepared food. You go to the grocery store a couple of times a week, stock up, and then just cook.

One habit which continues to baffle me is people who leave home to get coffee, then bring it back. It takes me less then 5 minutes to make a cup of coffee that's 20 times better (and hotter) then anything that takes a 20 minute round trip of driving (and waiting in line for).

If all the people who drive to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts for their morning cup of joe just made it themselves (I use one of those ceramic cones that makes one cup at a time), they could use that 15 minutes they save to make a healthier breakfast. Instead that Starbucks Blueberry scone (460 calories) and Caffe Latte (190 calories), if you just made yourself a nice cup of coffee with milk (15 calories) and a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal (150 calories) you'd save 485 calories a day. That would mean you could potentially lose 1 pound a week just from the breakfast shift alone. Plus, it would still take you less time then your drive to Starbucks.

And, just so you know, even the "skinny" drinks at Starbucks have over 100 calories each. The Skinny flavored lattes are 130 calories. That's 115 extra calories a day over just your home-made joe. Just change that you you could lose 12 pounds in a year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Even Food Company's Don't Expect You To Believe Their Claims

Only an idiot would actually believe that Vitamin water is a healthy beverage. That is essentially Coke's defense in a lawsuit they're facing because, it seems, Vitaminwater actually contains so little vitamins that the sugar content more then offsets any perceived benefit.

Coke actually asserts that "no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage." So, I guess only unreasonable people are stupid enough to believe?

Read about it here:

Which gets us back to one of the top rules for losing weight and keeping it off--If a product promises health benefits or to help you lose weight then DO NOT EAT OR DRINK IT. The reality of "healthy" or "weight loss" products is that they're usually unhealthy or actually lead to weight gain.

Vitaminwater, it turns out, is nothing but a sugar-filled soda in a deceptive package. People trying to lose weight and get healthy wouldn't drink it if they knew it was no nutritionally better then a can of Classic Coke, so let's pretend it's got vitamins.

Here's what some dude over at HuffPo had to say:

How many people with weight problems have consumed products like vitaminwater in the mistaken belief that the product was nutritionally positive and carried no caloric consequences? How many have thought that consuming vitaminwater was a smart choice from a weight-loss perspective? The very name "vitaminwater" suggests that the product is simply water with added nutrients, disguising the fact that it's actually full of added sugar.

The truth is that when it comes to weight loss, what you drink may be even more important than what you eat. Americans now get nearly 25 percent of their calories from liquids. In 2009, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finding that the quickest and most reliable way to lose weight is to cut down on liquid calorie consumption. And the best way to do that is to reduce or eliminate beverages that contain added sugar.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You Know you Shouldn't be Drinking it . . . .

. . if you can run your car on it. Producers are turning the now banned Four Loko beverage into ethanol:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Guide to Navigating the Supermarket

I love this flow chart. It's been bumping around the Internet and I think it nails the point. In case you need some additional guidance, if you want to get real about weight loss then don't eat:

•Anything with more than five ingredients becuase then its too processed,
•Anything that contains an ingredient you can’t pronounce (ditto)
•Anything artificial (ditto)
•Anything that makes a health claim on the front (these are always about marketing, not health)
•Anything with a cartoon on the package (it’s being marketed to kids)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lunchables will Not Make Your Kid President

I saw this over at Fed Up with School Lunch and was appalled:

"Princess today. President tomorrow?
Kids are full of potential. And
unlocking it starts with a great lunch.
Now LUNCHABLES has mandarin
for a full serving of real fruit.

it doesn't get better than this"

Um, actually, it can get considerably better then this were kids' nutrition is concerned. Even with the "Mandarin oranges" (which are no doubt preserved in copious amounts of sugar, Lunchables are a foul substitute for a healthy nutritious lunch for kids. Lunchables are full of fat, sodium and dubious man-made chemicals. Plus, feeding your kids this kind of processed crap puts them on the road to bad life-time eating habits.

If you really want your kids to have fruit, peel and section a fresh clementine for them instead.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Habits that Pack on Pounds and shed them

Losing weight can be simpler then you think. Sometimes just making small changes can help you lose an extra pound or two over the course of a year. Here's an article that gives you seven habits you can change to shed pounds:

Beyond those suggestions, I have a few more.

First just get into the habit of moving more. I don't mean going to the gym every day for a sweat producing work-out. Just by taking a few extra steps. Stop avoiding stairs. Whenever you have the opportunity to go up or down stairs, take it. Walk to the mailbox instead of waiting until you drive by it. Take a walk to get your lunch or to a friend's house instead of driving.

Second, get into the habit of acting like a kid. Don't sit and watch them as they play tag, join in the fun.

Third, turn your bad habits into good habits. I'll admit it, I am a massive TV addict. I have my "shows" I've just got to watch, and I'm also a news junkie. When I decided to lose weight for good, I realized I had to confront my TV addiction, but rather than fight it, I embraced it. I bought a treadmill and a new TV and set it up in the guest room with a DVR. Then I made a rule, I can only watch my favorite shows if I'm on the treadmill. Even if I have it at a low speed with no incline, I'm still burning more calories and toning muscles then if I was sitting on my sofa watching. I also eventually put a TV in my kitchen. Now, I can get my news hit while I'm cooking or cleaning the kitchen--again I'm moving and watching TV as opposed to sitting.

Which gets me to my next point.

Fourth, get out of the habit of sitting. Don't sit unless you have to. I now have a rule for myself that when I attend any kind of party, I don't sit. I stand and mingle. Standing also leads to walking which leads to more calories being burned. I've gotten to the point that I can stand for 3 or 4 hours in my Manolo Blahniks with 3 inch spikes.

Fifth, get into the habit of going outside in all kinds of weather. Too often we shut ourselves up in the house because its too hot or too cold. Instead of avoiding the weather, learn to love it. I spent an hour yesterday afternoon snowshoeing with a girlfriend. It was 30 degrees outside, but we were quickly sweating. Also, turn off the damn air conditioning in the summer--you'll be doing yourself and the environment a favor. I've found that with the air conditioning on, we sit in the house. With it off we all go outside. The kids run around in the yard, and I putter around the garden.

Losing Weight Starts in the Kitchen

This article confirms what I preach--If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then you have to learn to make your own food from scratch. Check it out here:

Here are some stats:

"What separates average-weight Americans from the overweight? For one thing, they spend 6.8 minutes more per day shopping and preparing their meals, which contain 6 percent less fat than eat-out food."

Read more:

And, when I say "make food from scratch" I mean exactly that--no pre-packaged mixes, etc. You start with raw fruits and veggies, meat, fish, eggs, spices, herbs etc. and you chop, cut, heat etc.

Making food from scratch does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as peeling a banana and eating that for breakfast instead of a bowl of packaged cereal that has been processed to the point that it's calorie dense and provides no real nutritional value despite the health claims on the box.

This morning my breakfast consisted of half a cantalope and a banana. Making a salad and dressing from scratch is also a breeze, so that will be my lunch (I generally try to follow the vegan before dinner rule).

I'm also always looking out for simple, easy to prepare dinner recipes. My main prefererance is that everything be cooked in one pan (I hate cleaning pots and pans.) I found this recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website an am trying it for dinner tonight:

There's a grocery store with a wonderful fish market right across from where I practice yoga, so I can dash over right after I finish my practice and pick up all the ingredients to make this Alaskan Halibut Cioppino (although something tells me I'll have to substitute another firm, white fleshed fish for the Alaskan Halibut).

The point is, that if you're serious about watching your weight for the rest of your life, you have to get off convenience foods, take-out food, restaurant food and frozen foods. Going out to dinner or getting take-out now and again is OK, but every day for all your meals or most days is going to expand your waistline. That's just a fact.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Resolutions to Lose Weight

I've still got New Year's Resolutions on the brain. I'm constantly thinking of what I can do to further improve my eating habits and get myself moving more. I know this is a big topic right now (losing the weight put on over the last month is a big topic everywhere I go). I thought I'd share some ideas for resolutions that are not all that difficult, but can get anyone on the right track to losing weight.

1. Go Vegetarian one day a week. Pick a day, any day. Meatless Mondays have become all the rage, but just pick one day a week and resolve to eat vegetarian that day. And, by vegetarian, I mean focusing on eating mostly plant-based food. If you want to get really serious, go vegan for the day.

2. Get yourself some gadgets. I bought a pedometer this year, and it really made me aware of just how much (and how little) I was moving and burning calories. It inspired me to both move more, and eat less. Besides pedometers there are a whole slew of weight loss gadgets on the market these days, but I say keep it simple.

3. Learn to cook from scratch. I say that losing weight starts in the kitchen, the more you cook for yourself from scratch (no Sandra Lee cooking here), the more weight you'll lose. You'll also be eating cleaner since you won't be eating as many chemicals and preservatives. It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking a few cooking classes may be the best thing you can do to put yourself on the road to long term weight loss. Plus, once you get the hang of cooking from scratch, all those processed convenience foods start to taste pretty awful.

4. Read the labels of everything you buy, and if it contains ingredients you can't pronounce, don't buy it. The closer you stick to "real" food the more weight you'll lose.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm Ba-a-a-ck!!!

Back from a week of Winter fun in New Hampshire, but the skiing hasn't stopped. Tonight is the first night of Special Olympics' practice. I'm head coach for the local Alpine team, and my son is one of the athletes competing on the team. Every Monday for the next two months we head up to a local ski mountain to train.

It is, of course, a new year, and that means resolutions. So here are my resolutions:

First, I'm going to continue to strive to practice yoga every day. As those of you who follow the blog know, I'm an Ashtanga practitioner, and I'm training to be a yoga instructor. In the Ashtanga tradition you practice six days a week, taking Saturdays off, and you also take "Moon" days off. A full primary series practice can take 1 hour and 45 minutes, so needless to say, I won't be doing that daily. Ashtanga tradition, however, says that a "practice" can be as little as six sun salutations and three seated closing poses--which takes ten minutes. So while I do try to fit in the full primary at least once a week, most days I'm doing a shorter practice. I've gotten good at fitting in a ten to fifteen minute practice on those days I can't make it to the Shala, but I do need to improve.

Second, I want to continue to work on improving my eating habits. Over the past several years, I've made incredible progress in eliminating junk food from my diet, but improvement is still needed. My biggest weakeness is junk sugar. Put a bowl of peanut M&Ms or Reeses Peanut Butter cups in front of me and I'm a goner. I've learned over the years that willpower is cumulative. It's better to set short term goals of eliminating junk foods from your diet then just go cold turkey. I think the goal this year is to totally avoid eating Reeses Peanut butter cups. Maybe next year I'll work on peanut M&Ms.