Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Love... Water?

In the epic battle between soda and water, my heart has always sided with soda. Even though I know the more soda I drink the worse I feel, I still crave it. It never fails.

I will drink a soda and tell myself, that is it. I’m just having one. But after that one, I’m still thirsty. So guess what? I have another one. But that is it, I try to convince myself, two is the limit.

An hour will go by and I will start to get tired. So in order to keep going I will have yet another soda, telling myself I need the caffeine to keep me awake. Once again, I have tricked myself into believing it is helping me, while the reality of it is I have now had at least 3 sodas and I am still thirsty and tired. 

By the 3 o’clock slump, I’m so tired, all I want to do is go to sleep. Since that isn’t an option, I’ll have another soda. Now you would think all that would be a good wake up call not to jump into that vicious cycle the next day. Yet almost every day I do.

Except for Monday, I woke up and told myself I was not going to be tempted and I cracked open that first bottle of water. The first one is always the hardest, mostly if you are not a fan of it. But I managed and the most amazing thing happened, I felt great!

Throughout the day I continued to drink water. And by time 3 o’clock came around, no slump! I wasn't tired at all! It was like all the water I was drinking gave me a burst of energy. I felt like I could conquer the world, or at least the rest of the day.

To most of you this would be a no-brainer: 
soda = tired and thirsty
water = wake and not thirsty

So why would anybody choose soda? The same reason most girls choose the bad boy over the nice guy. We know it’s bad for us, but sometimes bad feels good.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z = Zombieland

One of my favorite movies is Zombieland staring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. If you have yet to see the movie here is a brief summary:

A mutated stain of mad cow disease has turned most humans into zombies. A college student, Columbus, is on his way to see if his parents survived when he encounters Tallahassee, who is on a quest to find the last Twinkie on Earth. While on their journey they come across two sisters, Wichita and Little Rock, who con them more than once while on their way to Pacific Playland, which is rumored to be zombie free.*

I learned some great lessons from this movie. Right now you might be wondering what kind of lessons you could learn from a movie called Zombieland. Well, if you’ll trust me, I’ll let you know and tell you how to apply them in everyday life.

In the movie, Columbus comes up with a list of rules for surviving in the zombie-infested world. Granted, we are not being attacked by zombies, but I find these rules will do you a lot of good, regardless.

  • Cardio – We have talked in a few posts about exercise and how we don’t have to like it, but we should really do it. Good cardio will keep you healthy and happy. It will also keep you alive if zombies do attack.
  • Limber up – We haven’t mentioned the importance of stretching before exercise, so I’m tell you now, it’s important. You would hate to pull a muscle while exercising and if that should happen while running away from zombies, well I think you know what would happen.
  • Get a kick ass partner – For those of you who have been following this blog you will know that I have not written this alone. I have a kick ass partner. She is my muse and without her a lot of my ideas wouldn’t be what they are. But if zombies attack I will be on the hunt for another partner, sorry Amy you just don’t have good cardio.
  • Enjoy the little things – In life I think we sometimes take the little things for grant, but it’s all those little things that take us to the big things in life.
I think it is safe to believe zombies won’t attack us anytime soon, but it is a great movie that taught me some important lessons in life. I hope it will do the same for you.

*summary taken from Wikipedia

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y = Yes

I recently watched the movie Yes Man starring Jim Carrey. In the movie his character is required to say yes to every opportunity that comes his way. I think it is a good idea to stay open to new things, but I wouldn’t go so far as to agree to do everything.

I can’t say yes to everything, there just isn’t enough time in the day. So I figured out a way to determine which opportunities are meant to help me with my goals and which ones are meant to distract me. The trick I use is the rule of three.

If I come across something three times, I’m convinced it is something I need to try. I’m not talking about something presenting itself in an over-the-top way. An example would be hearing about something, like a book, through a friend. The next time I might read about the book on someone’s blog. And the last time, it might be talked about on TV.

It is just a matter of paying closer attention to those things trying to get your attention. I don’t believe in once in a lifetime opportunities. If something is meant to be, I believe it will continue to present itself. Now it probably won’t work its butt off for eternity, but I think it would at least make the effort three times.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X = X Games

Growing up I loved riding my bike. I remember my uncle holding the back of the seat while I peddled my little heart out around the driveway. He taught me to ride a bike, however, he did not teach me how to stop. So I would just stop peddling, and once it got to a safe speed, I would swing my leg around and jump off being prepared to run next to the bike until it stopped. This is one of the many reasons why I do not compete in the X Games.  I don’t think they give out metals for jumping off the bike and running next to it until it stops.

As I got older, my best friend and I would go for bike rides around the neighborhood. One day we decided we wanted to do something dangerous so we settled on riding our bikes to the library. After much planning and calculations of the route, my best friend’s Mom told us we weren’t allowed to cross one of the busier streets. We could have been rebels and just went for it, but I was too afraid of getting in trouble. Another reason I don’t compete in the X Games, I’m too afraid of what might happen.

A few years later when skateboards became popular, of course, I had to get one. My idea of skateboarding was to have my best friend push me up and down the street while I stood on the board. I know for a fact I wouldn’t win a metal for that in the X Games. And that yet another reason I’m not competing.

The talents it takes to compete in these games I just don’t have. I will never be the next Tony Hawk, Travis Pastrana, Mat Hoffman or Shaun White just to name a few. I’m okay with that. I say, let the professionals do what they do best and the rest of us can just watch in awe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V = Vision Boards

Growing up I loved making collages on poster board, I didn’t realize at the time I was creating vision boards.

If you’re not familiar with the purpose of vision boards or how to make them, I found a great post on Christine Kane’s blog. She explained it best:

What: “A vision board (also called a Treasure Map or a Visual Explorer or Creativity Collage) is typically a poster board on which you paste or collage images that you’ve torn out from various magazines. It’s simple.”

Why: “The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of who you want to become, what you want to have, where you want to live, or where you want to vacation, your life changes to match those images and those desires.”

I especially loved her article because she talked about the three different types of vision boards. She broke them down like this:

1)      The “I Know Exactly What I Want” Vision Board. On these boards you know exactly what you want. If you have a dream car you want to own, you’d paste a picture of that car on your board. Or if there is a place you’d like to vacation, you’d paste a picture of that destination on it.

2)      The “Opening and Allowing” Vision Board. On these boards you only have an idea of what you want. If you’ve live in the Midwest and had enough of the weather here, you might select pictures that include palm trees and beaches.

3)      The “Theme” Vision Board. On these boards you focus on one area of your life. If you want to get healthy, you might select a picture of someone doing yoga. Or if you’re looking to lose weight, a picture of an outfit you want to wear.

The key in all three is to pick the pictures and words that feel right to you.

To get details on visions boards, please visit Christine Kane’s article: How To Make A Vision Board.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U = Unhealthy Foods

Most of us have a pretty good idea of what foods are unhealthy. Yet we still continue to eat them. Maybe if we took some time to understand why they are unhealthy, we wouldnt be so quick to eat them. I find if I can pause long enough, sometimes, my will power will win over my craving.

I found a great article on National Health Restored. It explained what causes a food to be considered unhealthy:
  • They have little or no nutritional value. These types of foods are typically high in calories, but they are empty calories because of their lack of nutrients. Good examples of this type of food can be found in the bakery section. “If you eat one standard donut, you will get about 200 calories – mostly from fat and sugar. There are little or no vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in donuts.”
  • They take nutrients from the body. Soda is the best example. “They are full of caffeine, sugar, and phosphorus, which cause your body to lose calcium from your bones.”
  • They cause damage to your body. Any food containing hydrogenated oils would meet this criteria. “When oils are hydrogenated, they form trans-fatty acids. Trans-fats do damage to a number of systems in the body and are linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.”
The article also provides a great list of unhealthy foods to avoid and why. I was surprised to see these two on the list: canned soup and foods that give you too much protein.

For more information, please follow this link to read the entire article: Unhealthy Foods What NOT to Eat.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T = Tea

We’ve all heard how there are benefits to drinking tea. Today I wanted to share two of my favorite:

1) Tea can help fight against bad breath. MSN published an article stating the University of Illinois in Chicago found, “Polyphenols, chemical components found in black and green tea, can prevent both the growth of the bacteria responsible for bad breath as well as the bacteria’s production of putrid smelling compounds.”

2) Tea can help you burn more calories if sipped before a walk. An article on Prevention stated, “The caffeine frees fatty acids so that you burn fat more easily. And the polyphenols (antioxidant compounds) in green tea appear to work with caffeine to increase calorie burn. (If you have high blood pressure, skip this tip.)”

Friday, April 22, 2011

S = Smoothie

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Running, most morning I'm running late. Which means I dont have enough time in the morning to make myself a nice healthy breakfast. I could grab a donut on my way out the door, but I like to think of myself as someone who is somewhat healthy. The occasional donut is okay, but the quick breakfast I usually turn to is a smoothie.

Here is a great recipe I found on

1 banana
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/3 cup plain yogurt             
1/2 cup orange mango juice
Combine everything in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Check out for more great recipes. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R = Running

Some people run for sport, some run for exercise, some even run for fun. There are few occassions I would choose to run and they all involve chasing money. So unless Im running down the winning lottery ticket or a twenty dollar bill the wind is trying to take away, you wont find me partaking in it.

But not everyone shares my opinion. My best friend wakes up every morning at 4:00 a.m. to go running. She thinks running is fun and likes to do it. I will admit, I do admire her for it. I wish I had that much drive to wake up early enough to do something I love. But to tell you the truth, Im lucky if I wake up with enough time to shower, feed my dogs and make it to work on-time.

I know running is good for you. Ive even heard you burn more calories when you run a mile vs walking a mile. But Id rather spend the mile relaxed and walking than stressed because I dont enjoy running. The bottom line is chosing the exercise right for you and not right for the number of calories youre looking to burn. In the end, the lack of stress will do your body better than burning those extra calories.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q = Quiet Time

Everyone needs a little alone time once in awhile. Whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours, any amount of quiet time is good for the body, mind and soul.

In the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

The cliché, stop and smell the roses, didn’t become one because so many people were doing it. Rather so many people thought it good advice to share with others.

So the next time:
  • You go to the store, instead of trying to find the closest parking spot, take one farther back and enjoy quiet time walking to the store.
  • You have the choice between the elevator and the stairs, choose the latter. It will take longer, but the quiet time (not to mention the exercise) will do you good.
  • You need to let the dog out, get out yourself and take him for a walk.
Time is going to tick down whether you’re enjoying it or not. So take the moments you can steal and spend them reflecting on your life and the lives around you. You’ll be glad you did.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P = Prevention

Prevention is one of my favorite magazines. It always has great articles ranging from tips for losing weight to getting more energy. Each magazine covers five departments: health, nutrition, beauty, fitness and recipes.

I can always count on finding great information in the News and Trends sections. Like in the December 2010 issue in the Health Hearsay box, someone asked the question: "Isn't food poisoning usually caused by the last thing you ate?" The answer: "Not necessarily. Many of the 76 million annual episodes start 2 to 6 hours after eating spoiled food, but it can take days - or even weeks - for symptoms to strike."

They also provide a variety of feature articles. I'm still benefiting from a great article back in the November 2010 issue called Flower Power: Botanical beauties that put the bloom back into aging skin. Another terrific one was from the October 2010 issue called Hidden Diet Disasters: From veggie chips to yogurt, "healthy" foods that really aren't. 

If you're an animal lover like me, you'll enjoy the Pet section in each issue. I especially found the information in the October 2010 issue called Germs and Pain Explained helpful.

And Prevention isn't one of those magazines that makes it a challenge to find their table of contents. It also isn't impossible to locate a story they advertise on the cover. In the contents they provide a picture of the cover along with a page number next to each of the headlines.

Their website also has a lot of great information if your interested in checking out the magazine, I'd start there. Here is the link:

Monday, April 18, 2011

O = Outrageous Diets

Outrageous diets are as effective as get-rich-quick schemes. Neither work because you can't get results without hard work. But no matter how many people fail at either, more line up thinking it will work out differently for them. So far I have yet to meet anyone who lost weight or got rich doing either, but I won't put it down as never.

Today, I wanted to highlight a few of the more outrageous diets I've heard of:

1) The Cabbage Soup Diet - The name says it all, literally. The only thing you eat for 7 days is cabbage soup. Yuk!

2) The Tapeworm Diet - Again with the name being literal. This one does actually have you swallow a tapeworm that lives inside you for 10 weeks. After the 10 weeks, you take prescription medicine to kill the littler bugger.

3) The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You To Know About - This gem of a "diet" has you getting injections of pregnant women's pee. Yeah, I'm thinking I wish I didn't know about this one.

So anyone try any of these? Know anyone who did? Or maybe you've got something more outrageous to share!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N = No

“No” is one of the easiest words to learn, yet sometimes it can be the hardest word to say. Especially when it comes to food. I think at some point, we all wish we had the willpower to say no to an extra piece of cake or a candy bar. No matter how many times we say no in our head, we open our mouth and say yes.

“Yes, I would love another piece of cake.”
“Yes, another scoop of ice cream would be great.”
“Yes, I’ll take another helping of cheesy potatoes.”

All the while the inner voice in our head is screaming, “No!”

Here are a few things I like to do to make saying yes okay:
  • Take a smaller helping the first time around. When I’m at a birthday party and they are cutting the cake I try to find the smallest piece. So later when I’m offered another piece, it is okay for me to say yes.
  • Try to eat slow. When I’m eating a bowl of ice cream I take my time by taking small bites. I find when there is still something in my bowl no one forces more on me.
  • Offer to take some for later. When they come around with those cheesy potatoes, before they can plop more on my plate, I do some fast talking. I say something like, “I would love more, but I had a huge lunch. Maybe, if you don’t want the leftovers, I can take some when I leave?” This way I’m not eating more and I’m not making my host feel bad.
For anyone who doesn’t have a problem saying no, I applaud you! For the rest of us, I hope my tips work for you as well as they do for me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M = Meal Planning

When I was growing up my best friend’s Mom use to have a desk calendar on her kitchen wall so she could plan what they were going to have for dinner for the whole month. I could never understand why someone would want to plan out meals that far in advance. Even though it made it very convenient for my friend and I when we were deciding who’s house we wanted to eat at that night.

I always told myself when I grew up, I would never do that. I would decide what I was going to have for dinner that night. And I would go to the store after work and buy it. Needless to say, going to the store after a long day of work everyday got old quick.

The more I thought about it, I realized my best friend’s Mom was on to something (after all these years, she still uses a desk calendar). Now I try to plan at least two weeks in advance and do all my shopping for those two weeks in one trip.

Here are a few tips to make your meal planning a success:
  • First and foremost, be realistic. The sooner you accept the fact you aren’t going to want to make a home cooked meal every night the better off you will be. Don’t be afraid to buy those frozen pizzas, fish sticks and family size lasagnas.
  • Second thing to keep in mind is to buy what you eat and eat what you buy. If you know you aren’t going to make and/or eat fish then don’t buy it. You might be able to fool others into thinking you eat healthy, but you can’t fool yourself. It’s just going to be a waste of time and money for you.
  • Last, and certainly not least, it’s okay to pull the ole switch-a-roo. If the calendar says chicken and rice and you feel like steak and potatoes, it’s okay to eat that. Life isn’t set in stone and neither is dinner.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L = Lemons

Who hasn’t heard the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?”

Well, hell, if life is going to be that harsh on me by handing out lemons, I say forget the lemonade and make lemon vodka. Before you stop reading to run off and get your pen and paper, believe me, it won’t be necessary. This will be one of the easiest recipes I give you.

What you need: an airtight jar, lemons, vodka and time.

Slice the lemons thinly and place them in the jar. You don’t need to pack them, just fill the jar. Then add vodka, fill it up to the top. Next tighten the lid, place in the fridge and forget about it for a month. Yes, I said a month.

So after the longest 30 days of your life has passed, it is time to break out the lemon vodka. Now I do realize that they make lemon flavored vodka and sell it at every store under the sun, along with almost every flavor you can think of. But, hey, they sell lemonade at the store too. We all know nothing beats homemade.

It’s time to start thinking outside the box and have so fun with lemons.       

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K = Kind Diet

I’ve been reading Alicia Silverstone’s book, The Kind Diet. I really love the way she took diet back to it’s original definition. She said back in the mid-1600’s the English language defined diet as, “a way of living, or thinking, a day’s journey.”

It might be from a time long ago, but it’s a fresh way of looking at it today. By giving the word back its original positive meaning, it might make following a different way of eating more tolerable. Because if we think our journey will be miserable, it will be.

I also love how there isn’t an all or nothing way of doing it. She has the book set up in three different levels:

  • Flirting - this plan is “simply sticking your toe in the pool of the Kind Diet.”
  • Vegan - this plan is for those who “want to commit to a plant-based diet.”
  • Superhero - this plan “emphasizes whole grains, organic vegetables, and sea vegetables.”
I’ll admit I’m on the ground more than I’m on the vegan wagon, but her book doesn’t make me want to give up. Because every time I fall back on an old meat or dairy habit, I remember she wrote: “When you make this journey in your own way, there’s no such thing as failure.”

She goes on to say in a later paragraph: “There’s no right way. As long as you continue to make good choices, one choice at a time, you will learn, and grow, and feel better.”

How many other plans are patient with you when your trying to change the way you eat? I’ve never tried others so maybe they are just as encouraging. But if they aren’t and you want to dabble with going vegan, I would highly recommend The Kind Diet.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J = Junk Food

I’m addicted to junk food and I desperately want to kick this habit. If I could manage to be free of junk food long enough to feel some of the benefits, I might be able to resist it. But the eight hours (of which I’m sleeping) that I abstain doesn’t give me the results I need to break away.

It is especially challenge when you reside in a household with junk food. Right now there is a bag of the most delicious double chocolate cookies sitting on the kitchen counter. In some households those cookies might not last the night. In mine, they will sit there for days haunting me until I can’t take it anymore. Thankfully, I can stop after one, but the next day comes around and the whole struggle of not wanting to eat it, but can’t resist it, happens all over again.

Now the solution isn’t to tell my family, please don’t buy any of the devilish good snacks I have a hard time saying no to. That would be wrong because my quest to give up junk food is not their quest. They should be able to eat what they want and I should be able to believe in my choice enough to withstand eating it.

Lately it has been much harder than normal to stay away from junk food. This might be an indication that I’m trying to do too much at once and my body is starting to panic. And in it’s panic, it’s breaking out some fierce cravings.

So maybe instead of trying to go vegan and give up junk food, I should compromise. Instead of eating all the store bought junk food that has a bunch of ingredients I can’t identify, I could make my own. And maybe I could even swap out some of the ingredients for ones that align with my want-to-be-vegan decision.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I = Italian

I'm Italian and always eating the Italian food I love can be fattening. If you love pasta and bread like I do, the only way to keep off the extra pounds is to exercise. As I previously posted, exercise is not my favorite thing, so I try to make my pasta and bread as healthy as possible. The best way to do that is by making it homemade.


There are three different methods of making homemade sauce:
  • The first is to buy a jar and add some extra spices, and voila, you have homemade sauce.
  • The second requires more initiative. You have to open cans of tomato puree and tomato paste, add water and spices, and then let it cook until you have the perfect consistency.
  • The third, for the over achievers, starts by growing everything in your garden. Your sauce is made by boiling the tomatoes and removing the skin. Then mashing them through a mesh screen in order to get all the tomato juice and none of the seeds. Next you cut your homegrown onions and peppers. Along with fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano and marjoram) from your herb garden. No one will think less of you if the last four ingredients are store bought: garlic, salt, sugar and red wine.

There are a ton of different types of pasta. Everything from common spaghetti and rotini to the less familiar cavatappi and mafalda. What's the difference between buying from the store or making it from scratch?
  • I found I couldn't pronounce and had no idea what 95% of the ingredients were on the store bought box.
  • The ingredients to make homemade pasta, according to my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, are: flour, basil, eggs, water and olive oil.

I love it! I know it's full of carbohydrates, just like pasta, but I love it. Whether I eat homemade or store bought, it is going to be full of carbs and there is nothing I can do about it. Like the store bought pasta, there are going to be ingredients on store bought bread that will be a mystery to me. While homemade bread is going to require simple ingredients I understand.

The other option to make a pasta meal a little healthier is to eat whole grain pasta and bread. The bonus is you'll get much needed fiber out of it. If your like my sister, who said in her fiber post how much she didn't like whole grain pasta, you can take one of her commenter's great advice. Dafeenah suggested to mix half whole grain and half regular. That way you'll have some of the fiber, but not all of the bland taste. Great tip! Thanks, Dafeenah. You can check out her blog here.

My best advice: you should eat what you love and love yourself regardless of your size. You only have one life to live, you won't enjoy it as much if you don't have those two ingredients.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H = Hummus

How many of you know what hummus is?

Up until recently I had no idea. I knew it was a very popular food throughout the Middle East, but I never ate it before. Mostly because I had never been to a place that served it. Then, about 8 years ago, I went to my first Middle Eastern restaurant.

The food was amazing! There was so much flavor in everything. I was instantly a fan, but still had no idea what hummus was made of. I decided right then and there I didn’t want to know. That might sound a little strange, but I find 1) when I know what something is made of, and 2) it has something in it that I don’t like, all of the sudden... BAM! I don’t like it anymore.

Now I feel I've eaten it enough to know I'll like it regardless. So I did some research and found a great recipe.

On I found: Everything You Wanted to Know About Hummus but Were Afraid to Ask by Saad Fayed. He said, "hummus is a dip/spread that is made from chickpeas. In fact, hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas. You may notice that many hummus recipes call for garbanzo beans, not chickpeas. Don’t worry, garbanzo is the Spanish translation of chickpeas."

And the best part, it's good for you too! Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C, not to mention that chickpeas is a good source of protein and fiber. Here is one of the recipes Saad Fayed provided in his article, but make sure to check out the link above for more.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ - ¾ cup roasted red peppers (depending on taste)

In a food processor, combine beans, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add red peppers and garlic until desired consistency.

Whether you are a herbivore or a carnivore this is a tasty treat and very simple to make.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G = Garden

What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word vegetable garden?

I use to think, boy, that sure does sound like fun. I remember all the summers I spent in Alabama having fun picking tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans. Although if you asked my aunt, she would say I ate more than I picked.

I never thought about how much work she put into her garden. I was young and thought it took care of itself. Boy was I wrong. I found out the hard way the first year I decided to plant a garden.

First it seemed like it took forever to get anything to grow. When it finally did, I was suppose to pull the weeds and trim the plants so they didn’t grow out of control, neither of which I did. And once the vegetables started to come, I had to go into the garden and pull them out.

The picking was the part I was most excited about, until I realized I didn’t have a big open garden like my aunt. Mine was in a small confine space, fenced off so the dogs couldn't get in. I entered the garden area and was greeted by things that crawled, flew and stung. Yes, I'm talking about insects. I failed to plan on those in my garden.

All summer I battled the bugs and weeds and swore up and down I would never, ever plant another garden in my life. It was too much work and it wasn’t worth it. Until November came and I couldn’t just go to the backyard and pick a cucumber for my salad, or grab a tomato for my sandwich, there were no peppers for the salsa. It was then I realized all that hard work was worth it, because nothing taste better than something fresh from the garden.

I've come to appreciated the little things in life after having planted those seeds and watched them grow into something that has helped me survive.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F = Fiber

As I said in my earlier post, B = Benefiber, fiber is a friend to anyone who is trying to get healthy. A few of the benefits, I found on, are:
  • Because fiber demands that food be more thoroughly chewed, it slows down the eating process and helps contribute to a feeling of being full, which in turn can help prevent obesity from overeating.
  • Fiber makes food more satisfying, probably because the contents of the stomach are bulkier and stay there longer.
  • Fiber slows digestion and absorption so that glucose (sugar) in food enters the bloodstream more slowly, which keeps blood sugar on a more even level.
So how much fiber should you get? According the American Dietetic Association, a healthy diet needs 20-35 grams of fiber per day. It is important to include both soluble and insoluble fiber in that amount. A great tip on how to identify whether a food is considered fiber, also from only plants produce fiber.

My favorites are fruits and vegetables. I can tolerate eating some whole grains, like bread and cereal. What I can’t eat is whole-grain pasta and brown rice. They just taste too bland to me (so if anyone has a recipe that incorporates these to make them tastier, please share!) And finally what I would rather starve than eat (okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but it disgusts me nonetheless): beans. I haven’t tasted a bean by itself or in a recipe that I liked.

But like all things, it is best to ease into increasing fiber. The website suggests introducing high-fiber foods gradually, over two to four weeks. And to drink plenty of water. They say eight glasses a day, but I’ve never been able to reach that amount so I’m not going to push it here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E = Exercise

Exercise: a love story.

Exercise is not my friend, at least not anymore. If it’s anything, I would say it’s my nemesis. It’s not that’s it hard, because really it’s not, but for me it’s so exhausting. Just thinking about it right now literally makes me tired. But like most things in life it’s something you have to do.

Many of us were first introduced to exercise at a very early age, grade school to be exact. Just like a good love story, at first it’s new and exciting. You get to run around and burn off all the energy you have. It’s fun.

I remember this big parachute we use to play with by running under it in grade school. Just like any new relationship, you don’t have to work at it. Yet. Then came middle school. There was still some fun involved, but as you start to grow your body starts to go through some changes. In this love story the same thing happened. 

Next comes high school. Anyone that went or is going knows peers can be cruel. So there you are, in gym class, dreading that awful game called dodge ball. This is the worst form of exercise I can think of. Who, in their right mind, thought it would be a good idea to hurl a ball at someone purposely trying to hit them. You are running for your life as the gym teacher just sits back and watches. This is the point where exercise became my nemesis and this love story ends.

Nowadays, I try to get my exercise by walking my dogs. My co-pilot on this A to Z Challenge, Amy, must have had a similar love story with exercise. Because she gets her exercise the same way I do. You can follow her adventures on her other blog: If Barking Burned Calories.

So whether it’s running under a parachute for fun or running for your life from a ball hurled at your head, it’s all exercise and we all need it. Just find what is best for you and create your own love story.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D = Dog Days

The dog days of summer are known as the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, aka “Dog Star,” in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather.*

If you ask me it should be called, “It’s to damn hot to cook or do anything else for that matter” days of summer.

The Farmers’ Almanac lists the traditional timing of the dog days as the 40 days beginning July 3rd and ending August 11th.

So what are we suppose to do for these 40 days, not cook? No, of course not! We have to eat, so instead of heating up the house with the stove or oven this would be a good time to roll out the ole grill. Whether you prefer gas or charcoal this is a nice alternative to still making a good, home-cooked meal.

Now here are some basic, common sense do’s and don’ts to grilling: 
  1. Don’t lift the lid unless you are turning the food or checking to see if it’s done.
  2. Do keep the lid closed to prevent flare ups.
  3. Don’t use a spray bottle with water to control flare ups if they do occur.
  4. Do use long handled utensils and long BBQ mitts to protect yourself from the heat.
  5. Don’t wear excessively loose clothing while grilling, it could catch on fire.
  6. Do leave the lid open while lighting a gas grill.
  7. Don’t use metal handled utensils on the grill, they will transfer the heat to your hand.
  8. Do make a pyramid with your charcoal briquettes in order to light them.
  9. Don’t use lighter fluid to light the charcoal, instead use crumpled up newspaper or a fire starter cube.
  10. Do clean out the ash catcher beneath the charcoal before lighting to allow proper air circulation.
 Always remember just because your being safe doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun!

*definition courtesy of Wikipedia

Monday, April 4, 2011

C = Choice

In an earlier post, A = Affair, I spoke of having an affair with becoming vegan. I specifically chose the word affair because I don’t know if I could commit to being vegan for the rest of my life. Like many of you, I love meat and dairy. It just doesn’t love me back.

My plan is to just worry about the meal in front of me and not every meal I’ll ever eat again. I’ll make every meal a choice and try to chose vegan over non-vegan as much as possible. From this standpoint the whole decision to be vegan isn’t overwhelming, because it’s not like I’m saying I’ll never eat meat and dairy again.

I guess my approach is similar to the “one day at a time” method, except I’m not trying to stop from doing it all together. I’m just trying to length the span of time between eating vegan vs. non-vegan meals.

The goal is to extend the time between the two. Right now I’m lucky if I can go a week without eating meat and dairy. Hopefully, as I discover acceptable substitutes, that time will expand. And one week will turn into only having meat and dairy every two weeks, and so on.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B = Benefiber

Benefiber - it isn’t just for old, constipated folks. Unfortunately that stigma will prevent a lot of people from buying the product. Fiber is a friend to anyone who is trying to get healthy. The benefits of it will be discussed at a later letter, “F” to be exact.

This post is about getting passed the judgment that comes along with buying it. At the store you are bound to run into a least one person who sees you with it and has a laugh at your expense. Whether they have an audible giggle or hide it behind a smile, it happens. Even those that manage to do neither, you’ll catch the look -- the one that says a snide remark is going through their head.

Who cares? Well, actually, most of us do. But we shouldn’t let it stand in our way of buying it. So here are a few tips:

1) Who hasn’t heard the one about... if someone is laughing at you, be happy you made their day - or something along those lame lines? True story: A cashier at the store, who was previously grumpy with everyone in front of me, gets a huge grin when I hand him my box of Benefiber. Now this poor guy has a boring job, which I can say with the confidence gained from doing it and knowing it’s boring first hand. The job gives him little reason to smile. Hell, you don’t know him, his life might give him little reason to smile. But, guess what, your purchase did. So take your purchase along with a big load of good karma!

2) If you are stock full of good karma and want to avoid the cashier... many places have self-check out. Just be careful that you use the self-check out probably so as not to set off the dreaded red light. Once that thing goes off you not only have a cashier come over, everyone around is looking to see what product the idiot at the self-check is buying that set the thing off.

3) Another option, now that many stores are open 24 hours, is to go in the wee hours of the morning. You probably won’t run into too many people and those you do will either be dead tired or drunk. Avoid the drunk ones, they will show you no mercy.

4) If none of the above work and you must brave through the purchase. Relax, take a deep breath. A stressed look will only make you appear constipated.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A = Affair

I’ve been having an affair with becoming vegan for awhile. My long, monogamous relationship with meat and dairy has had more downs than ups, but I can’t bring myself to walk away. Like most affairs, I fear, the idea of it is far sexier than the actual act.

There is really no one holding me back from making the change. I could turn my back on meat and dairy and there would be no hard feelings. I’m sure the cows won’t be putting up their hooves in protest saying, “Please stop and think about what you’ll be missing.”

I’m usually not one to take things slow, but in this case I think it would be better to ease into it. I could go cold turkey off meat and dairy, but it might not be a long lasting change. The better route would be for me to educate myself on why turning vegan would be better for my health. Trying some recipes would also fall under a good idea.

I’ll be utilizing Alicia Silverstone’s book, The Kind Diet. I’ll also spend some time on her website, I’ll revisit the position of my commit after that.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is the books you had to buy, but haven't read yet. Instead they are just sitting on your shelf. I've got plenty of these so this list was easy. What wasn't easy, coming up with excuses for why I haven't read them yet.

Here is my list:

1) Life's That Way by Jim Beaver - This book chronicles the author's wife's battle with cancer. I wanted this book because I'm a fan of the author. He is an actor from my favorite TV show Supernatural.

2) Spook by Mary Roach - I loved the first book I read by this author, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. It had a lot of interesting facts and I suspect this one does too.

3) In The Woods by Tana French - A friend recommended this book so I jumped to get it. I think there a second book in the series now so I'm behind.

4) Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss - I've read Dreaming True by this author and loved it. Enjoy dream analysis and thought this would be another great read.

5) Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair by Laurie Perry - Crazy Aunt Purl is a blog I enjoy reading. I couldn't pass up the book just based on the title alone.

6) Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell - Again read another book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, from this author and loved it. Had to get this book when it came out. Now he has another book, Outliners: The Story of Success, which I have forbidden myself to buy until I read the Tipping Point.

7) It's Your Time by Joel Osteen - Apparently getting this book hasn't given me the time to read it yet.

8) Don't Give It Away by Iyanla Vanzant - This was an impulse buy while walking through the bookstore.

9) Practical Intuition by Laura Day - This was recommended by Oprah. Laura Day was on her show. Need I say more?

10) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - This was listed as a recommended book.

Hopefully I'll get around to reading these, even if only a couple this year.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not Up To The Task

I had to raise the question of whether the pedometer was accurate.

The answer: probably not.

I think my pedometer is better suited to count the steps during a walk. But when it comes to counting all the steps taken in one day, it isn’t cut out to handle that kind of responsibility.

I’m not just speculating here, I have actual facts to back up my conclusion. I tested the accuracy by enlisting the help of my favorite co-worker. She has a pedometer too. So on the first day she wore both hers and mine. And at the end of the day the results were: hers at 6703 and mine at 7787. So on the second day I wore both. And at the end of the day the results were: hers at 2644 and mine at 1849.

When you compare that on the first day when my favorite coworker wore them, mine was 1084 higher... and on the second day when I wore them, hers was 795 higher... these results leave me with nothing, but a headache so the great pedometer experiment will have to be reevaluated. Perhaps I’ll take it back up in the warmer weather when I can use it strictly for walks.

What the heck did I expect for $15.00?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Great Pedometer Experiment

I thought a good way to approach the exercise thing was to figure out how much I was getting while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Why overlook the many steps I take during the day? They are no different than if I were walking them in a park or on a treadmill. So I decided to wear a pedometer to see how many steps I took during my workday.

The first workday I took 4,685 steps. Not bad considering I just did my normal work routine, disregarding the few extra steps I had to take because my favorite coworker decided to HELP by taking my closer parking spot.

But a number wasn’t enough. I needed a scale to measure it on. I searched and ran across this good one*:

1) Under 5,000 steps/day may be used as a “sedentary lifestyle index.” (blogger thought: okay, I just feel they want to say lazy, because honestly when you see “low active” in the next one - what else is there to conclude?)

2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered “low active.”

3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some volitional activities (and/or elevated occupational activity demands) - (blogger’s thought: this is just the 50-cent version of someone choosing to exercise or their work requiring them to exercise more) and might be considered “somewhat active.”

4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as “active.”

5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as “highly active.”

Keep in mind I only counted steps taken during work, so to say I’m in the “sedentary” category seems a little harsh. If I were to breakdown my steps by hour, I averaged 625 steps/hour. Times it by 15 (average hours I’m awake) and you get 9, 375 steps/day. Now I’ll keep in mind I don’t walk as much when I'm at home, so that number is probably high. But I don’t necessarily think its sufficient grounds to bump me out of the “somewhat active” category.

I think the only way an accurate conclusion can be made is if I wear a pedometer for a complete day. Problem is, the second day I tried to wear it to work, I accidentally knocked it off my pants. After it hit the floor, it didn’t want to count for me. I guess it figured if I was going to be careless, I didn’t deserve its services.

I’ll give it the weekend to go over its options: working for me or the trash.

*Sports Med 2004; 34(1):1-8
“How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health.”
Tudor-Locke, C and Bassett DR Jr

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Right Way Isn't My Way

I want to say since my last post I’ve come up with a brilliant plan on how I’m going to tone up, but that would go against my procrastination tendencies. Instead I’m going to tell you why it is okay if you made a New Year’s resolution to (insert yours here), but haven’t done anything to achieve that goal.

Too often we say we are going to do something and if we don’t instantly start doing it the “right” way, we give up all together. But sometimes doing things the “right” way doesn’t last.

For instance, the “right” way to tone up might be to watch what I’m eating and add in some exercise. This would probably warrant fabulous results, except it goes against my lazy nature. And while I might be able to force myself to do it for a few days or even a few weeks, I would burn myself out over it. At that point, I would stop and never look back.

So what is the “wrong” way that might actually work, at least for me? I’m going to ease into it. I’m sure some form of exercise would be beneficial. Besides being a useful technique to engage in when the desired outcome involves getting into shape, I saw this tidbit in a magazine article:

“The simple act of exercising – regardless of your weight or fitness level – can make you feel better about how you look, possibly due to the release of feel-good hormones, finds a review of 57 studies on exercise and body image.”

And who doesn’t want to feel good?

So the first step is to examine what types of exercise I have at my disposal and what would work within my time restraints. I’ll get back to you with all that.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Less Than Physical

"Roaming" the internet uses a verb that gives the illusion of movement, yet you are sitting in front of a computer going nowhere. With all the miles you travel visiting blogs from across the US and overseas, could you imagine the shape you would be in if you walked those miles? And no, I wasn't thinking sorry or dead - although I do see your point.

When I started my blog, it was a fear that too much time sitting in front of the computer would cause me to gain some extra weight. I found my fear wasn't unfounded as many bloggers posted New Year's Resolutions about losing the 10-15 pounds they gained after starting their blog.

If you met me you wouldn't say I needed to lose weight and I would agree with you. A more accurate statement would be I need to tone my existing weight. The number that shows up on the scale is far from horrible, but the way those pounds are situated on my body needs some improvement.

For anyone who is seriously struggling with your weight, please put the pitchfork down, I'm not trying to offend. My blog is about staying healthy while engaging in an activity that is less than physical.

So join me, if you will, as I try to transfer some mush into muscle. And keep off those extra alien pounds that are waiting to jump on me from cyberspace.