Saturday, December 20, 2008

How to Clean Celery Properly for your Holiday Guests (and Yourself)

The ladies over at eDiets, my fellow Atkins ("Strictly Atkins") ladies, gave me the idea for this post. Turns out, in a discussion about eating more fruits and vegetables, that a couple of them had never peeled celery before.

I mentioned that because I am appalled when I go to a party and see that the celery has not been peeled. Does the host actually like green organic dental floss in their teeth after each meal? (Does this bug anyone besides me?)

Celery strings are thicker and tougher on the toughest stalks of the celery bunch . In addition, I learned that the tenderer stalks are the tastier ones and the tough ones should be pulled off the stalk and discarded or used for soup.

So now I'm going to tell you how to clean a bunch of celery so you can discover this wonderful vegetable which requires more calories to eat it than it actually provides! How cool is that!?!!

Celery is also a good thing to give to kids with cream cheese, peanut butter, or "bugs-on-a-log" -- raisins embedded in peanut butter.

I recommend using a paring knife. I knew someone who actually uses a vegetable peeler to do this, but it takes off more of the celery and is more difficult to do (the strings catch in it) yet that method may be quicker, until you learn how to do it with a paring knife.

A paring knife is that little bitty knife - about a 4" knife blade - that is sold anywhere kitchen stuff is sold. They come cheaply, but try not to get one that is so cheap it bends. Your fingers will thank you.
  • So, first remove the outside stalks from the celery bunch and wash the dirt off them. Set them aside for soup or discard (it's kinda fun to watch them spin when inserted whole, and in a standing position, down the garbage disposal, but the strings can cause problems for the garbage disposal -- I've heard-- so try not to have too much fun).

  • Then, cut off the bottom hunk of celery (where it all comes together at the root). You can use that for soup too, if you like, or toss it. Clean it a bit better if you keep it because there are more crevices there for dirt to hide in.
  • Now all your stalks should be "free" and independent of each other. One option is to cut the ends off (just scant) to clear the ending of dried, dirty stalk. Another is to cut it off just below the "joint" and use the top parts for soup (some will be longer than others).

  • The center stalks of the celery are the tenderest, but some of them get to be very leafy. These look pretty in Bloody Mary's but I haven't found a liking for the leafy stalks otherwise, so if you do, enjoy. (My xh, who taught me all this stuff (and came from a fresh foods family), loved that part and ate it. Not me.)
  • So, now we have the parts of the celery we might actually want to eat. Let's clean them up and get rid of those nasty strings.

  • I use water and my hands to remove dirt - these parts are not that going to be as dirty as the other, so this is easy to do.

  • Then I remove strings. The strings can be found easily with your fingernails but they (the strings not the nails) will break off a lot if you do it that way. The fingernails will also get gunky, so now is a good time to get out your paring knife.

  • Putting your thumb on the back of the celery, you place the blade in the end of the celery (think how a vegetable peeler's blade needs to get underneath the peel) and cut in gently until you can pull back the celery flesh, squeezing it with your thumb against the blade. Your other finger is holding the blade firmly against whichever strings your blade located. Normally, you will find a lot of strings the first time, then look for stray strings later.

  • Pull firmly but gently all the way down the stalk and the strings will be the only part of the celery being removed, not the flesh. Once you've gotten this to work, you'll see how easy it is. Go back and pull the other strings out.
You will find the toughest parts/stalks have the thickest strings. The tenderer pieces sometimes have next-to-nothing in the way of strings. Taste them to see which ones suit you best and now you know which celery you like the most.

The de-stringed celery may look a little odd to you, particularly if you mangle it a bit the first few - or dozens - of times you do it.

I recommend cleaning (de-stringing) the whole bunch of celery, then putting it back in a bag in the fridge so whenever someone wants one - straight-up or with PB or cream cheese (Atkins-friendly for Induction with CC or plain) - it's ready to go.

Put the other saved celery in a different baggy so you can just toss it in whenever you make a homemade soup like Chicken Noodle (which Mo made) or Chicken Soup. (Hmmm maybe we should go ahead and make chicken soup the same day and freeze it.)

Do you have any vegetables that you just don't like? Let me know and I'll publish some recipes or hints of ways that can maybe help you like it a little bit better, or maybe even learn to love it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Road Trips or Car Trips - Heaven or Hell?

ROAD TRIPS - Doesn't everything fun just scream "Road Trip!" ?

I love car trips, but after a while they can get boring, and boring can be B-A-D for my hips...because then I want to eat FUN food - the kind that gives your mouth some interesting textures and flavors to deal with...we all have our faves, so I won't get your mouth watering over mine.

What to do? Most holidays have a trip in there somewhere.

Bring plenty of water, but plan that you may have to buy some while out. Make those stretching breaks and stretch them out a bit.

Take a stretch when you stop at the gas station. Cross your ankle over your knee (like a guy crossing his legs), then either bend forward or lift the other leg up to your chest. I like doing this with the steering wheel helping to hold the leg up to my chest. This is a great "opener" for the opposite hip. Do both sides, breathing and relaxing your muscles, particularly those that are trying to tighten. In yoga, this is called "breathing into (that muscle/joint)" and after a while, it feels just like that's what you're doing. You'll feel the muscles relax and the joint will limber up. Great for car trips that make you stiff.

Dance in the car - can be done driving or riding, but is easier if you control the music you hear ;) Arms are a little difficult, but you can contract your buttocks in traffic - at lights, or just by bouncing on your seat a bit. It's a different form of drumming your fingers. Think of it as being enthused by your music. Just don't lose your grip on reality or the wheel, and keep an eye on all your mirrors and the traffic around you. Choreograph the music in your head.

Buy new music for the trip - this is always good for making me feel less bored.

Vary the music. Use the radio when you go thru a town which has a wider choice of stations.

Try driving to country music when out in the countryside - the beat is interesting, the lyrics at times unbelievable and funny, and the talent is there, too. Or try any music you don't normally listen to - for 1/2 hour or so at a time to break up the monotony of the same-old same-old.

Stop for a real meal instead of drive-thru - treat yourself to a to-go salad at Applebees or another sit-down place that you find- either sit and eat it, or take it on the road - but make sure you're doing something you don't normally do on road trips.

Sometimes traditions are good for road trips, too. If you've got some that work for you in keeping the "bad foods" at bay when boredom sets in, post them here in comments. I usually do a lot of driving alone, so I can control the music and that helps me a lot. For others, having a crowd along may help. What kind of things have worked for you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eating Your Weight Thru the Holidays

I've added a Twitter feed to my blog and if you've noticed that, then you know that I'm baking holiday cookies this week, and Barry has an office party at our house this Friday. It just cannot be complete without making a lot of sweets and a lot of carbs!

So how do I handle all this?

1. I have an emergency plan if I lose control. Call this your back up plan.
  • Stop at 3 (3 cookies, 3 candied things) if I do get into the goodies.
  • Call a friend or check online with a support group who can give you encouragement to drink some water instead and wait 15 minutes to see if you can control the craving.
  • Leave the house; take a walk or a drive. A walk is good because it also increases your metabolism. Be gone for at least 15 minutes. If you go on a drive, drink water and go where there is no food - the gym or the library or a walk in a park/woods. (Avoid the mall, Target, Wal-mart and any other store that has any food in or around it - the smells won't help you even if you think you could kill two birds with one stone by getting some errands done.)

2. Increase your exercising during the week by 5-15 minutes a day...for the week, this will give you 30-45 minutes more for the week.
  • If you're short on time, take the 5 minutes to run up and down the stairs somewhere or dance like crazy in the kitchen when a great song comes on (they're only about 3 minutes - I did 3 different songs during the big bake-a-thon).

3. Its winter, so double-duty: Increase your water - add 2-3 cups a day.
  • Another cup when you wake up, one while you dance or run the stairs (when you finish) and another before you go to bed, or wherever you can find the time to suck another one down.
  • This will help you feel fuller when you do eat, and helps hydrate your skin during these drier months, too.

4. Make extra portions for yourself of things you can have on your program and reward yourself by having more of those and limiting your other indulgences.
  • I like veal sauteed with mushrooms and asparagus and maybe crab meat (veal oscar). I use chicken breasts usually for this, and parmesan and egg for the "breading" and maybe italian seasoning.
  • Leftovers can go into an omelet for breakfast the next day and it's really a snap to whip up a one-person hollandaise sauce.

  • If you haven't tried this, you owe it to yourself. A good whisk and the
    microwave - watch the "pot" - does the trick and if not, throw it into the
    blender to eliminate any lumpy mistakes.
  • The blender then goes into the
    dishwasher - easy clean-up (yay!).
  • Crab and asparagus omelets with
    hollandaise - now there's a real holiday treat!

With these methods for reducing your hunger, keeping your metabolism up, and avoiding the worst cravings as much as you can, you can enjoy the holidays and maintain the weight loss you've already enjoyed, and be ready afterwards to kick it into high gear for the spring bathing season coming up....

All you're doing then (since you've increased your metabolism and your exercise and your water) is stop indulging in carbs and sweets (again). Think you can do that? Sure thing!

Friday, July 25, 2008

5 Ways to Get Back On Track

"I've paid twice for this already" has another great blog up, this one good for those working toward a goal, any goal, particularly those with personal endeavor and a need to change personal habits.

She writes about 5 ways to get back on track when your finances go astray and you wonder, "How did this happen?"

This is how I have felt before regarding food and eating. I pretty much knew the answers, as do most of you, about why we just ate what we ate. It's multi-layered, and like Shrek say, "I'm like an onion" and like an onion, we need to pull back the layers and look at each.

For us, we need to look at the emotional layers of WHY we did something, but sometimes we also need to take a deep breath.

I'll bet each of you can come up with a dozen rationalizations. How about these I came up with: My boss didn't see me when he walked down the hall; my MIL is a B----; I have to be on this stupid diet while everyone else is eating pizza...yadda yadda yadda... You get the drift. On some days, it's easy to complain about everything and easy to find reasons to eat.

Even with legitimate complaints and the need for self-soothing talk, we often allow food to be our primary method of self-soothing. For this, we must find other ways, other personal ways. What works for me might not work for Sue or Joe or Chelsea or Elbert.

The five ways laid out by "Paid Twice" help you get a grip when you just had an emotional binge and used food to soothe yourself.

The five given were:

1. "Keep records."

2. "Reassess your goals."

3. "Remind yourself that a set-back is not a cause for failure."

4. "Take small positive steps in the right direction."

5. "When all else fails, institute a 5-day spending freeze."

Succinct. Good money advice.

I'd like to expand on those by tailoring them to weight loss goals.

#1 - This should help you see that maybe things are not as bad as you think. Maybe, yeah, you ate too much, but you also forgot to drink water, or you could have exercised more, or you exercised a lot yesterday, so you're probably okay today.

#2 - Do you see the whole elephant whenever you think about your "diet"? Do you have a huge goal of 40 or more pounds to lose? Does it just seem impossible to do all the things people keep saying you need to do? Cut that elephant down to bite size pieces then.

Focus on something smaller and shorter, and reassessing it later perhaps? That's another way to reassess your goal. Maybe you say - I'll lose 10 lbs and then see where I am. If that takes 3 months instead of 4 weeks, but you reach that goal in 3 months, would you be happier? Or would you like to keep saying every month, "10 lbs off THIS month" and repeat it monthly?

Whatever works for you is all that matters, but it never NEVER hurts to rethink of what it is that you are ultimately trying to achieve. EVERY project, to be successful, must keep revisiting its goal in order to ensure that success can be achieved! That includes yours as well.

#3 - This is simply the truth. Set-back is not failure. Not even a bunch of 'em!

#4 - This is back to finding the right bite size for whatever elephant you are trying to eat.

#5 - "Institute a 5-day spending freeze!" For most of us dieting, this is going back to what the Atkins Diet calls induction, but on a short-term easy-to-commit-to basis. Usually if we get to 5 days of being strict with ourselves, we can see progress and be remotivated to keep that momentum going.

Don't let the set-back upset your commitment, and let this short intense re-commitment get your momentum going again. If nothing else, it may purge our system of the extra pounds or simply stop our gaining more, both of which are good!!

Using these 5 ways can help you get back on track with not only your personal finance goals, but also your weight loss goals. What else can we apply them to?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Planning Vacations

Recently someone on E*Diets reported she was on Day 3 of Atkins and doing well, then mentioned her upcoming vacation in August where "everyone (would be) eating pasta and drinking wine" and wondered how she'd deal with that. Here's a reply I wrote to help her, having gone through that myself - in more ways than one - during my own journey to drop 40 pounds; perhaps it can help you plan for your upcoming vacation, too!

"Hi Jazzee*,

You are right to think about the trip and vacation with everyone else eating pasta and drinking wine. Now is the time to develop a plan that works for you and that will deal with that. If you are very strict with the induction and continue til vacation time, including increasing your exercise a little bit each day (and taking a rest day or two per week so you don't feel you are killing yourself), plus drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water, you will have more leeway in what you can do while on vacation.

I would suggest the following:

1. Make a plan to ensure you get enough water per day THAT YOU CAN DRINK and work on a plan that will ensure you DO just that.

For example, if the tap water is not drinkable, can you buy bottled water for each day or the entire week or so that you are gone and label them for each day so you can keep track without having to think about it while on vacation?

If you CAN drink the tap water, do you have a system in place for vacation-time that helps you keep track of how much you drink without having to work too hard at it during vacation? I find - must be the golfer in me :) - that I cannot count past 3-4 and remember. With things that "look the same" in my memory (like the same bottle or glass), this holds true anyway.

So, I buy 32-oz gatorade bottles and either save the gatorade in a pitcher for my son or others, or empty it, so that I have a good wide-mouthed container which fits in MY van's cupholders (not my fiance's SUV unfortunately) easily.

I started needing to drink 3 per day and am down to 2-1/2, tho I am trying to up that to 3 since I am trying to lose weight (10 lbs I regained falling in love and the effects on all three areas with time constraints mostly).

2. Food - do you like chicken or steak Caesar salads? These, and those with meat/cheese primarily and caesar, blue cheese, ranch, and some italian dressings are easily found at italian restaurants (tho I can't speak for Italy itself if you're going there!). Chicken wings, meats, eggplant parmigiana, etc, can work well ESPECIALLY if you can FORGO the pasta itself.

Italian restaurants did me in back in January, starting at New Year's Eve and going to 3 such places within a month. The first one I did pretty good at, but then I gave in to the pasta.

3. Find a way to exercise daily - 10 min of stretching in the morning, racing (for you) up and down flights of stairs for 3-5 minutes at some point during the day (or just walk an extra one til your heart or breath feel it, then maybe one more if you can), and then 15 min of stretching at night.

If you can turn on a song and dance like it's 1999 thru the whole thing (i.e., full gusto of joie de vivre involved, no matter which beat you choose), try that once a day too.

If you can go dancing, do that and choose water to drink instead of alcohol.

4. Try to limit your wine to 6 oz of red wine per day, enjoying it thoroughly while you do. There are heart benefits to this, even tho it's verboten during induction. Only 4 carbs for red wine - more for the others.

5. Game plan alternatives to staying OP (cause we all know you won't, the above are ways to LESSEN the effects):

a. goal is to maintain weight loss (no gain)

b. goal is to say the heck with it, and start over when you return (remember day 3 of Atkins is the hardest, but you will eventually beat the cravings).

Remember, we do this so we can enjoy the things that matter the most to us. Weigh each bite against the enjoyment obtained with the work it will take to get that off again, assuming you want to work it off, too. Some things are worth it; some are not.

Have a great time! When do you leave?"

*Name changed.

Another thing I did not mention in my reply to her - because she had not mentioned it in her own post - was dealing with car trips, where boredom on the road can lead to road munchies and crunchies (my favorite are Carb-heavenly Combos and Gummy Bears). I learned that I needed NEW MUSIC to keep me entertained. With a child in the car, that means (s)he might need headphones so the adult(s) can play their own music without listening to whining, too. Always have back-up water sources in the car, too, in case of highway stalemates that come up in the middle of nowhere and lead to road/block parties for 1-2 hours or more. Plan for potty breaks as well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Drinking Water

One of the frugal blogs I try to keep up with (I've Paid Twice for this Already - see related articles in the sidebar) brought up the question of whether or not anyone drinks tap water anymore. Good question!

Since water is one of the three legs on the footstool of changing to and then maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and since we are all getting more and more worried about paying for everything, I thought it would be a good time to discuss water. If you check out the "I've paid twice for this already" blog, you'll see many of these comments already mentioned in my comments there.

A few years ago, I was a member of a team of MBA students doing a consulting project that dealt with water fountains. Our research steered into the marketing area and we looked at how people (target audience) were viewing water. At that time (2002), water was just beginning to replace sodas as the money maker for the soda manufacturers, and its price was beginning to equal that of soda. As an international team, we took a worldview of the market, but also were pinpointing the US which was where the manufacturer we were working for was located.

The water that you buy in bottles is not strictly tap water, but is tap water with some flavor additives (such as sodium) added in. Given the cost of transporting water, most sodas are postponed in their manufacturing so that the major liquid element is added to the soda closer to its intended audience. In other words, water is obtained and added to the soda mixture very close to home - i.e., it's the stuff that you get out of your tap, too.

Some areas of the country will have hardened water naturally, and most homeowners deal with that by adding a water softener if they can, at least to their drinking and cooking water (who wants to scrub out a lime deposit from their pans? Or think about that stuff going into their stomach?) Bottling plants will also adjust the tap water to a palatable mixture of their own choosing, but nothing that is added tends to add those unwanted things like extra sugars, sodium or calories, and if they do, it is noted on the bottle. So be sure to become a label reader!!!

Other than that, I think one's like or dislikes of tap water are based on what they are most used to - we can pretty much adapt to anything, but decreasing our luxury level from necessity to nice-to-have is harder than increasing it in the other direction. You will have to go through a little pain to make that gain and be happy with less than what you could have (a sugary caffeinated soda that has you zipping around the office for a few hours before you hit that afternoon "lull" that is probably caused from the sugar high from lunch (sugars, carbs ingested there) suddenly being depleted.

This is why I like Atkins: Atkins avoids that by limiting those and increasing the proteins ingested because they take longer to digest (6 versus 4 hours, generally) and will keep you feeling "not hungry" longer. Using water to "fill in the gaps" in your stomach and in your mind is a great way to bridge some of those moments, but cannot overcome a sugar/carb low period. You just have to suffer through those - like a hangover - and vow not to do it to yourself again!!

So, start drinking the tap water and treat it like both a vitamin pill ordered by the doctor (in huge quantities and throughout the day), and be glad it also helps you on your pocketbook. Few restaurants charge for water, and you'll be glad for the extra $1-2 per day if you've been paying for soda. Try it iced, chilled, and straight up (sans ice) to see which works best for you. Good restaurants will suggest, but many can also provide this if you ask, adding a lemon slice to it. This might help you in your transition.

Remember that this is a transition. Your taste buds will need to change, and your bladder will also be undergoing changes. In addition, your body becomes accustomed to the increase in water, which it desperately wants, and will initially hoard the water (increasing weight temporarily, and perhaps bloating) until it accepts the fact that you are going to give it more water regularly.

Your body will then stop hoarding what you give it and release the increased water and weight. If you start to decrease later, you may be able to pick up on this when you start craving salty foods. This is a sign your body is wanting more water (salt retains water). So, drink about 8-16 oz of water within the next hour and see if the salty craving has passed yet before repeating.

If you still crave salty foods after 4 hours, then you might give in and find something healthy but with salt. The salt will affect your blood pressure, though, so it might be best to resist it completely if you can. If not, at least you tried to decrease the craving by increasing the water content of your body.

Cheers! Chug-chug-chug

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Purina Diet

You have to have a sense of humor about all this, or the stress will kill you (and your changing eating habits), so with that in mind, I offer this to all (all credit to Author Unknown):

"Yesterday I was buying a large bag of Purina Dog Chow for
Butters, the wonder dog, at Wal-Mart and was waiting to check-out.

'A woman behind me asked if I had a dog. What did she think I elephant?

'So since I'm retired with little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, but was starting the Purina Diet again.

'I told her I probably shouldn't, because I'd ended up in the hospital the last time, but had lost 50 pounds before I'd awakened in the intensive care unit with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IV's in both arms. I told her it was essentially a perfect diet and the way it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and every time you feel hungry, you simply eat one or two. The food is nutritionally complete and I was going to try it again. I have to mention that practically everyone in the line was enthralled by now.

'Horrified, the woman asked me if I'd ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I'd stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's butt and a car hit both of us.

'I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard.

'Wal-Mart won't let me shop there anymore."

Friday, April 25, 2008

3 Ways to Deal with Stress and Carbs

It's been a rough week at work - not the stress level from dealing with the personalities as just having deadlines looming and knowing we have a lot of information to process in order to produce some spreadsheets. Finished them today - but we ended up estimating something entirely different after a come-to-Jesus meeting on Tuesday. Hallelujah!

But, the point is that after my 10-day hiatus from exercising, eating right, and drinking enough water, I am still dealing with the carb addiction! I wanted something to munch on constantly.

So what did I do?

Looked for substitutes which would give me the crunch, but fewer carbs. Not sure how I did - the wasabi peas are all gone.

Kept emergency food on hand again. (So, I did keep my chocolate intake at work down to one hershey bar today. Yesterday I ate half a pack of thin mints!)

Three more things I can do and will do:
  1. My own zumba at home (working on new choreographies to teach)
  2. Mow the lawn (another good workout usually, not too bad, either).
  3. Put air in the bike tires and hit the trail.

So, let's schedule those events.
  • Mowing the lawn - if I can get the mower fixed Saturday - on Saturday.
  • Air in the tires - Saturday if time, else Sunday
  • Zumba choreography - Sunday

Maybe I can do the zumba choreography on my back patio. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday's What I Ate Today

So far, I've had:

2 cups of black coffee
Low-carb hot cereal with blueberries, cinnamon, splenda and milk

A handful (large) of wasabi peas (they're all gone now)

Chicken soup, 1 cup (dubious nutritional value, top ingredients had potato and sugars)
PB&J Sandwich - 1-1/2 (Low-fat PB & no-sugar-added Strawberry Preserves on low-carb bread)

4 cups - 32 oz so far

Monday, April 21, 2008

Today's Menu

What I ate today:

Coffee, 3 cups? - black (I can do that with good coffee, or good-enough coffee)
1 cup Yogurt with diced strawberries (1/2 cup?) and some Fiber One Cereal (1/2 cup?)

Steamed Tuna & Broccoli in pats of butter, lemon juice (bottled), and dill weed

I used the steam bags that are new to do this - someone at work had done it and told me to zap it for 2-1/2 min, which I did. The tuna was wa-a-a-a-y overcooked for me, a sushi lover, so I will cut it back a lot. Also, the broccoli came out good (from raw, mind you) and so I will leave it and remove the fish next time, then add the fish back for the last minute.

After that, I didn't eat so well. But, I did stick to ONE diet soda, and ate some Wasabi Peas, which would have been fine if I hadn't had so many of them. Two many factors, and even then, I went and got a small bag of chips (about 20-25 carbs, so with my metabolism up, I can normally handle them) and discovered the frozen Thin Mints my co-hort had forgotten. He offered them to me, and I had been craving chocolate (it's stress week at work), so I got 4 for him and 4 for me, then he brought the box back into the office, not knowing I'd already brought us some. He took a few more, but the box was done for - or at least that foiled half.

My list is getting away from me. A handful of barbecue chip crumbs when I got home later, then a cup of yogurt with Fiber One cereal and some sugar-free strawberry preserves thrown in for the strawberry/splenda mix I had used for the morning (too tired to cut strawberries).

How does your daily menu compare? What did you do right, what can you improve? C'mon, inquiring minds wanna know!! Post a comment below - it may say it can't be anonymous, but it can - just make something up ;)

Things I Did Right Today

I got a little lax lately, knowing I shouldn't, spending time with a special special man in my life. I should have managed the water at least, but even that got away from me. I didn't exercise for 10 days - we all know how hard that can be to recover from! - and worse, my metabolism dropped. Big Bummer!!

So, today, what I did right (WIDRT):

1. Had yogurt and fiber and strawberries (vit C) for breakfast (recall that I was on MAINTENANCE, not OWL, tho I may need to cut back to OWL if the exercising and other corrections don't get my weight back to a couple of weeks ago).

2. Drank lots of water - all that I needed to, in fact

3. Went to a Zumba class, where Christine proceeded to try to kill us. I survived, but how embarrassing to be an instructor and feel like a beginner after a class! And I did 2-3 classes last week, so I don't think I was that bad off.

Granted, I came after working 11 hours at work, but still.

The class was over-packed, too - about 45 students where 20-25 is a good class size for the room. I know I work harder on each of the routines because I know what muscle groups we're supposed to be working, and I work them. But still.

But still.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Low Carb Recipes Found

I love to cook, and I love to play around with various seasonings and spices in my cooking.

What I don't like are low-carb recipes that taste yucky! Having traveled a lot in my life (not as much as some, but more than most), I have a low tolerance for some of the substitutes we make in the low-carb dieting area. For instance, I have a lot of difficulty with the chocolate recipes in the Atkins book.

I was browsing some of the blogs that Cleo (see sidebar) has listed on her blog and came across this one on recipes. Not a blog, but a website with a bunch of recipes, sorted and with pictures, that have that yum-yum appeal to good eating! Atkins should be good eating. We just need to remember that as we come off of weight loss and go into maintenance that we need to also move farther toward healthy choices and reducing some of our easier choices which might be higher in cholesterol and fat.

Wherever you are - induction, weight loss, on-going weight loss (OWL), or maintenance, you are sure to find something here to keep you going, happy, smiling, and losing!!

For myself, I see that I can learn something about almond flour use for baking!

Happy eating!

Ediets Community DOWN

The community support groups on E*diets have been "down" for a few days now.

Is anyone out there needing to vent about this? Drop your comments here now.

What's been going on with you today? Here's the list of 3 things we should all be doing daily:
  1. Drinking water: 1/2 our body weight in ounces of water (up to 100 oz daily).
  2. Staying "OP" or "On" program - within our carb level, our calories, sodium, whatever each of us tracks to see how we are doing daily with our energy/food intake.
  3. Exercising - 20-30 min a day usually. I like to do about 250-300 min/week and put it into about 3 days a week rather than daily.

Been a bit lax on that myself lately. I did get all my water in yesterday.

Stress has not been my friend this week - coming at me from all directions, and I see it in the food choices I am wanting to make. Forcing the water in yesterday helped me. Taking my supplements helps me. I will get back on track; just knowing that gives me strength.

The "demons" that tempt us to eat badly, neglect our exercise and neglect our homes, family, and friends, and ourselves most of all, do come back to visit from time to time. Know that you do not need to let them stay long. Use the 3-day rule (both company and fish goes bad after three days?) and send them packing after you've had your little visit.

Going into work today this Sunday, planning to take off tomorrow to take in an opening day major league ballgame - I hear they are pretty fun.

What are you doing for yourself today?

I'm eating the elephant, one day at a time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Loves to Exercise: Zumba Zumba

For all that my blog is titled "Luvs2Zumba," I haven't much discussed it here.

The point about zumba for me is that it is something that resonates with me, speaks to my soul, and makes me want to get up and move.

I think exercise should be something that we like to do. I also think that we need to make those things we enjoy and which get our heart racing more a part of our life!

Too often we are tired and out of time and energy to devote one more second to something we don't need to do. I mean, we have to do the taxes right? And we have to do the laundry and the dishes eventually. But if we skip exercising, no one's gonna notice or mind. I mean, we might mind - a little - and then after a while, we are w-a-a-a-y too tired to mind.

So what if you chose something you would LUV 2 DO???

Here are some of the things I LUV 2 DO:
  • Bicycle
  • Rollerblade (had to learn)
  • Whitewater rafting - looking to do whitewater kayaking now, and take my sons along with me as they've been with me on the other two.
  • Hiking in the woods - much more interesting to me than walking through my neighborhood. But don't discount what good a short 15 min walk outside can do for your mental and physical health! It will get you started on doing more. The more you do, the more you want to do because the MORE you ENJOY it, IF you pick something YOU LOVE!

I've added a
You Tube clip of Zumba

to the top right of the blog. The first one is from the Tampa Bay area - there are three instructors at the front of the class and one is leading.

The first and the third songs are very familiar zumba songs, as is most of the choreography the instructor uses for these songs. The middle song is very representative of a lot of other salsa/merengue songs used in zumba, but is not familiar to me.

Notice how much fun those trying this "demo" class are having (one guy REALLY gets into it ~ it cracks me up!).


Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Lighter Side of Low-Carb: Better-Than-Ever-Best-Yet Revoloopsie Rolls!

Some ladies on my e*Diets Atkins support group - one of several support groups I had to help me through trials and tribulations in the past year - had found this website, which I want to share with you. With a sense of humor, and a tremendous weight loss just in 2008, this blogger shares with us all her OOPS-I-goofed-the-recipe-but-yum!-aren't-these-better? low-carb rolls.

I'll also add her to the sidebar for easy finding later!

The Lighter Side of Low-Carb: Better-Than-Ever-Best-Yet Revoloopsie Rolls!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Keeping a Sense of Humor

Not everything we do works out the way we plan. That's when "Plan B" - a sense of humor - comes in handy.

We try; we fail; we get back up and try again; we fail again. It can deplete your patience and your sense of humor. But stepping back and laughing, recognizing that as humans we really are allowed to err, allows you to move on and succeed.

I have always thought I was not good enough. So I tried harder. Failure was not really an option. Being less than perfect was embarrassing for me. When I took up quilting, I learned both patience and the release that comes from allowing myself to not be perfect.

I still push myself, but I also have more patience with myself, recognizing my "adult" side must be the "parent" to the "child within" me who seeks approval and wants to be accepted, even with my failings. So I accept that I am not always perfectly "on program" as we call it on my e*diets support group, and that is not going to stop me from being "on program" another day, even if it is not tomorrow.

I find a sense of humor, being able to laugh from time to time, helps me with that.

A friend sent me a link to this YouTube video by three young men. It's called "Carlos Man of Love" and it always makes me laugh. I hope you find something that always makes you laugh or otherwise find contentment and make peace with your frustrations. As they say, this too shall pass. Try to laugh today, while it's happening, rather than tomorrow when you look back. (P.S. It helps your stomach muscles, too!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Creative Visualization, and Getting What You Want!

There was a story about a person who wanted something so badly (s)he would pray to g-d, just begging g-d to let them win the lottery.

In disgust that none of their praying does any good, this person begins scorning g-d's way, saying "What good does praying to you do?"

Finally g-d shouts down at them, "I'm doing all that I can. Can't you please go buy a lottery ticket?"

The moral to this story (for me) is that of "G-d helps those who helps themselves," but more to the point of: you can't get your dreams to come true if you don't get out there and put yourself on the line to make it happen!

I'm reading all about that again now in a book written by this guy named Peter (Peter Bowerman to be specific (see link on the sidebar)) who may have had such an opportunity thrust upon him.

Some of the lessons he learned and that he shares in his book The Well-Fed Writer apply to all goals, like weight loss: You have to be able to visualize what you want.

This is part of being able to believe that it can happen. Your dream has to be visual and specific.

Mark Victor Hansen (see link on the sidebar) added the specific part. He said to write your dreams down, but be specific. For example, saying you want a big house is not specific. Saying you want a 5000 square foot house with a butler, a maid, and a cook who live in their own quarters out back on the 5 acre lot, back behind the retangular swimming pool and the flagstone patio and professionally landscaped backyard .... I think you get the idea. You would probably want to specify the number of bedrooms, size of the garage and kitchen, etc., as well.

But that would be visualizing it so much you can taste it. For someone I know who's actually auditioning today for Canada's version of American Idol, his dream might be appearing on Canada Idol and maybe then appearing on American Idol, or it could be actually winning a recording contract.

But he just did the 2nd important thing that Peter writes about in his book: he went for it!!!

Just as we are going for the weight loss, if we simply don't do anything - or if my friend chose not to go - then we won't be able to lose weight, and similarly he won't be able to appear (at least this time) on Canada Idol, the same outcome as the person in the story who can't win the lottery this week because (s)he didn't buy a ticket.

The second thing to do, after being able to "see" it being real, is to go for it!

My goal this week - as I am out of town on a business trip - is to keep eating foods I would eat at home, allow myself one special meal that I can't get anywhere else, drink all my water daily, and to get exercise - cardio - at least 3x this week.

My reward? Not having to work extra hard next week to make the weight loss and toning continue!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Big Decision (Do You Really Want It?)

It took me a couple of months last year to realize I wasn't really committing myself to the idea that I would lose the weight, increase my energy level and generally get myself back in shape.

If there is nothing else I am capable of, I know when I am BS'g myself.

Why should you wait and wade through two months of posts to learn what I can share with you right now? Before I tell you, think about this:

  • How are you doing on your goals this year?
  • How many goals do you have?
  • Are you focused or committed to making any one of them happen?

Here's the key ingredient to making anything work for you:
You have to decide you're going to do it; i.e., you have to be committed to it.

It's that simple and that hard. If you aren't ready to commit to it, you probably will not achieve it. It's that simple and that hard.

I found a couple of related posts this week which I have posted on the sideboard. One speaks to bloggers (Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life) and the other to writers (Commitment Contracts 1), but you will see that each took its ideas from the world of weight loss. (I've retitled the articles to provide a focus for what inside the article pertains to creating change in your life.)

Another suggestion is to read and heed the following from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition by William H. Murray:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness . . . [But] the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way."

So what do you really want to do this year? Decide and focus on those things; save the rest for making progress and perhaps for tackling next year. Biting off more than one bite at a time will certainly guarantee that you can't eat the elephant. You're more likely to gag, balk, and throw it (and your hands) up in the air.

Just Do it! (or, Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!)

Yesterday reminded me a lot of a year ago.

Getting off the extra high carb foods lately - dinners out for the New Year's and then with friends to celebrate my birthday in January - has been difficult.

I buckled down all last week. I had three things going for me:

1. I knew I could do it.
2. I knew how to do it.
3. I was tired of being tired (so very motivated to do it).

All I had to do was decide to do it.

What else did I know?
  • I'm a procrastinator. I know this about myself.
  • I may have adult ADD - that's my sister's working theory on me and her, shared by our Mom to explain why she couldn't train us to be more organized and neat. I do get distracted easily. I think that's just a sign that I don't really want to do something, but hey if we can blame it on something other than me, who am I to argue?
  • Or is my distraction just a way of procrastinating? Wouldn't that make all procrastinators part of the ADD crowd? Sounds like profiling to me!

Okay, so the point of knowing this about myself is that I know if I am going to do something, I just have to decide to do it -- as our venerable first lady Reagan once said - "Just do it!"

I apply that now to many things. If I think of something I meant to tell someone, I'll call right then and leave them a message (unless it really is the middle of the night and I know this friend won't appreciate a call between 12 am and 6 am. In that case, maybe I should call my office and leave myself a voicemail to remind me to tell them "this thing" I need to tell them. More than likely, tho, I will be on the computer and will email myself a note to do so (if I can't just email the information or thought to them). I have to do it now.

Yesterday, I had excuses why I wasn't exercising:

  1. It's too cold at 10:30 in the morning to meet up with friends and go for a hike.
  2. It's too early at 10:30 on a Saturday morning to get going and out the door.
  3. My son didn't want to go hiking.
  4. It's past 10:30.
  5. My hip is hurting too much, better not go to the 11:00 Zumba class.
  6. It's past 11:00.
  7. I'll just read one more thing on the internet.
  8. I'll leave after I finish this.

Does this sound familiar?

My brain starts its arguing in the opposite direction:

  1. I'll "Just DO IT" and then I won't have to think about it anymore.
  2. I'll go at 2 pm.
  3. The dog needs it.
  4. The park is not far away.

Again, the son doesn't want to go, my hip is hurting, I am finding so many interesting things to read online - I can't keep up with them! I need folders and files. There's so much to do around the house. It is my day of rest.

Eventually I look up and it's 3:15. So, finally, I just put down what I am doing (which I didn't want to leave) and I force ACTION.

Guilt is gone. Pain in the hip didn't disappear, but I did have hope that moving would "oil the joint" a bit.

Sometimes last year, this was all the exercising I got - a lot of arguing with myself to just "do it" and arguing against myself just as well. Do you find yourself arguing with yourself a lot?

So, I wasn't exercising much in January and February last year, but it was better than long nights at the office spent with vending machine goodies and pizza delivery which I had done the January and February before.

How are you doing this year compared to last year?

    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    Keep It Keepin' On

    It's been a few days since my last blog. Last year, when I first had the notion that I was going to finally do something about losing the weight I'd gained back, it went like this as well.

    I didn't have time sometimes this week - I'm pretty busy during the week now, exercising. I have a son who likes to see me from time to time, but he also had injured his arm last week and couldn't exercise, so I exercised at home. I don't work out at home as well as at the gym, tho I did work up a sweat!

    Excuses you're familiar with? These are why I didn't sit down and write a blog. PLUS - and I hate to admit this - I was a little intimidated by you guys. What if I didn't write something that made sense, or I let my thoughts just scatter across the board? I surely don't want to be laughed at, up here at the "front of the class" talking about how I lost weight!

    Have any of you ever tried (or even seen) a Zumba class? I didn't see one until March - late March - 2007. So, in January, I at least didn't have that intimidation. But I did have the knowledge that I was out of shape. No way could I exercise for an hour.

    To be honest, I had ridden a bike for 20-30 minutes before, but no one I rode with rode very fast, so that was hardly exercise if I had company. I could get 20 minutes of rollerblading with the boys in IF I sat down after the first 5 minutes. I have weak ankles and that hurt! But after the 5 minutes, then I could go for another song. And sit down. And drink some water. And then after awhile, do another 5 minutes. Eventually, I could get in 20 minutes of exercising this way, and lots of good water.

    If you're not drinking water, start now - find a temp you like and a way of tracking how much you drink. Back then, I was going with the common admonition to drink 8 glasses a day. I wasn't always doing it, but I knew I should drink more than I was. I like the 32 oz Gatorade bottles. Even then, I'd already discovered this from buying them for the boys. Now I buy them and empty out the Gatorade if I lose mine. The wide mouth is great for guzzling; the size fits in my minivan's cup holders, and I don't have to count past 2 to get 8 cups in. Drink one; refill it once. Drink it. I can manage to keep track of that during the day - usually.

    But exercising. It's like this blog. I'm starting slow. I'm learning. And one thing I knew about me and exercising - even last January! - was that I will not do anything for long if I don't love it. So, no jogging for me. Same for walking - I just get bored. I get bored easily, too.

    So, I made a list of things I like to do, and that is why I had started bicycling and rollerblading. I like ice skating and am not very good at it, but my oldest son had nixed it completely early on. So, he has "quads" for rollerskates, while I and his brother have rollerblades. We just don't get out anymore (their choice, not mine). I also don't get much exercise bicycling with the younger one who has smaller tires which require a lot more work to pedal. That takes about as much energy as walking, tho it is a bit less boring.

    So, what else made the list? Dancing! I've always liked dancing, but I realize this might not be your cup of tea. Find what works for you!!!

    What did I do for dancing? First, and this was when the boys were babes, I requested (and was gifted from my Mom) a clock-radio for the kitchen so I could "dance" while I cooked and spent time in there. (Also keeps me from wandering away when I'm bored and letting something burn - oops!)

    In January 2007, I used my love for dancing while I was out of town on a business trip. I played a song on my computer (but could have been the radio in the room) and tried to dance to it - joy de vivre and all - for the entire song. Guess what? I didn't quite make it! I thought it was 5 minutes long; turned out to be 3-1/2, but I'll round up and say 5 minutes, who cares?

    But it was fun! And a bit of a point to me to say - Hey! Despite all the fun in your love life, you need to get back in shape for other things, too!

    Yep, was not having trouble attracting men with the extra 30 pounds on, nor any of those bedroom activities which at our age goes on for hours, but couldn't go full-steam on a dance song for 5 minutes. I knew I had some blood pressure problems with stress the year before (my doctor had wanted me to come in and get it regularly checked, but I was nixing the idea of any BP meds. I knew how it affected men's sexual "abilities" and did not want the same effect on my own libido. (There are some aspects to blood pressure that I enjoy!)

    I also knew both my Dad and my sister have diabetes and have sleep apnea. My Dad had also had a heart attack within the past three years, tho minor. His Dad had had triple-bypass surgery (no heart attack) in his later years, and one of my grandmothers had had a lot of strokes, particularly in the year before she passed away. These are the things I knew I was in danger of succumbing to, if I didn't get my health back.

    How many of us have NOT seen a relative (usually male) who is out-of-shape then gets a visit in his 50s or 60s or even 70s from the death-doctor - a big scare that usually does something to cause him to finally lose weight and become thin again? I decided I didn't want to wait and do it later. I wanted to do it now.

    But for now, I just decided that I would try another day to try and dance to the song and maybe not try to do it like a teenager next time.

    And so, I am writing a blog a week later, and perhaps the next one will be in another week, or maybe I'll write tomorrow. I'll try not to let you readers intimidate me. Maybe I'll tell my family I'm writing a blog, but probably not yet. I won't tell til I really feel like I'm doing it. For now, it's my secret, shared with those who lose weight with me (and are my support network) and with those other zumba enthusiasts who understand how doing something we love really helps make it a lot easier! (As Beto says, "Ditch the workout, join the party")

    For me, it is finding whatever YOU like to do so that you know you enjoy these things that help you get into the healthy shape and state you want to be in....and that too is personal for you. And then, don't give up just because you weren't successful the first time you tried, or even if you waited a week and you're tired and don't feel like doing it, just go try it a little bit. Do half a commitment. See if it makes you feel better. See if it makes you smile.

    If you ever did this before, or if you give it a try now and it works for you (maybe it takes a month to see that it worked), please post a comment (where it says "comment" below, it is really a link to how you can post a comment to this particular blog post) and let me and the other readers know about it!

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Losing Track

    Yesterday I said I would tell you how I regained 30# after losing it 3 years ago. That's important because if I don't identify the habits and triggers that I ignored before, I am going to repeat that, right?

    Initially, I started the Atkins diet because my boyfriend had wanted us to do it, so I dutifully got the book and read it on the plane flying to see him. The relationship last one more week, the diet continued - because the weight loss was amazing!

    I spent the second week of induction at my Mom's. It turned out she had almost all the books, so it was an easy thing to do. Generally speaking, other people are what will turn your plans upside-down. Mine started out well, but other people's influece is part of how I let the 30# lost start to creep back up.

    "Creep up" is another way it gets us. A pound or two here or there, clothes still fitting, and we think we're still okay and we're busy.

    We're busy. That's another way it gets us. We become too busy to take care of ourselve first. Pretty much that is how I gained it the first time after my sons were born. There was no time for me, so I just left it there and called it "baby fat" and tried to laugh it off. (That method of dieting obviously didn't work.)

    Back to the thread of regaining. I had been dating someone regularly and that did not affect the weight loss (I was still losing) as he worked out quite a bit. Although he and I didn't do workouts together, the support for doing so was still tacitly there. That relationship ended and I next had a boyfriend who had boys the same ages as mine and we started spending time together, taking the kids on bike rides.

    Even before this time, I tended to spend a lot of exercising time with my sons - taking them to the rollerskating rink, teaching them, then also skating. Teaching them to ride bicycles, then going bicycling. One son finally decided he didn't like riding the bike paths because they were straight. When he got roller skates for a gift, his brother got jealous and refused to go skating. This was part of the demise of my personal exercise plan.

    The other part of the plan was with the new man in my life. We would stay on Atkins pretty easily when we went out - chicken wings with a caesar's salad, blue cheese, and celery, are pretty easy to find in most sports bars nowadays. Then he would have beer and I would have wine. And again, that would creep up in how much we allowed ourselves. Then as most couples do, we would have "special" meals where we ignored the dietary rules. Eventually, we were eating a lot more "normal" food, and I had stopped counting carbs for the day and had no idea how many I was eating.

    Occasional "special" meals normally would work okay, except for two things: I had stopped counting my carbs (and therefore didn't know how many I could eat and still maintain the weight loss) and the exercise plan was under attack as well. Because I was only about 5# higher than where I had gotten, I felt I was okay. Yet I did not know what I had to do to stay there (how much exercise? how many carbs?), and I was slowly moving completely back to the previous lifestyle and I didn't know it. I thought I was just maintaining at 5# higher. I could live with that.

    The next thing is that I had no back-up in case of an emergency, and work provided the emergency. I suddenly had a lot of work and a lot of stress at work, which made me MORE busy and had me calling the local pizza place for deliveries of calzones for dinner. And while they were delivering, might as well bring a pizza. I'd eat one of them now and save the other for another day. I felt efficient. I'd also avoided the vending machines in the building which were the only other way I could get food without leaving. I should have brought something for the fridge, but I'd get caught up in work and want to keep working until I finished something, and I was starving by then. I should have checked the number of carbs in pizza, but I was eating other foods with carbs in them, so why bother?

    The pounds went on quickly then. So I capitulated, took out the safety pins holding my pants to a smaller size, appreciated that I didn't have to buy a new wardrobe, and kept doing my best with work, my love life, and my sons, but let my personal needs go - once again.

    Warnings to look for:
    1. Exercise level dropping
    2. Excuses (yours)
    3. Increased straying from diet
    4. Not knowing how far you can stray from diet and recover
    5. Not adjusting so you do recover
    6. Stress at work
    7. Effects of being around people who are not exercising/dieting as you are (creeps up on you as you give in more and more as part of the socialization needs in our lives).

    Have you seen any of these signs in your life? How did they affect your ability to take care of yourself first? Post your comments below.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Fresh Starts in 2008

    Today is the first day of the rest of forever, right?

    Well, guess what! So is tomorrow!!!

    No, not trying to encourage you to procrastinate - it's easier not to forget to do things if you do them right now - but you need to know that mistakes today don't mean you give up tomorrow!

    Every once in a while we all fall off the proverbial horse and get told to pick ourselves back up. I kind of like the image of the donkey stuck in the hole with all the crap from his life. And more crap was being shoveled in on him. He just shook it off and stepped right up, using the pile of crap to build the hill that helped him climb out of his hole!

    Each day, I'm going to try and help you learn how I climbed out of my hole and lost 40# last year, when I really thought it would be nice to lose 30, since I knew what that looked like after having done it 3 years before. So how did I get it all back that fast? That will be tomorrow's post!