Archive for April, 2010

Kids, Parents, Screen Time vs Face Time

April 15th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Did you hear that Ronald McDonald is getting his walking papers? Who’s next Captain Crunch….Snap, Crackle and Pop….The Pillsbury Doughboy?This has come on the heals of much heated debate on advertising to children. Whether it’s billboards, television commercials, logos, fun-loving caricatures, games, web-sites – advertising is everywhere. It’s 2010 folks. The dotted line in the sand has been drawn between childhood obesity with this advertising.

There has been a lot of study on the concept of screen time. Screen time is the amount of time spent in front of any type of screen – the television, the computer, hand held devices, you got the picture? Research also shows that screen time is higher than ever. In fact people who have more than 2 hours per day of screen time are more likely to be overweight. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think you need to be Einstein to make that association.  Let’s face it, we live in a world with so many conveniences that we now need to make a concerted effort to use more energy and get our kids to do the same.

Do we need to do a study looking at parental face time with their kids versus kids screen time and obesity. Let me guess. The results will probably show parents who are more engaged with their kids’ daily activities – hence spending more face time, have kids less likely to be overweight or obese, especially when the parents limit screen time. Eureka, I’ve split the proverbial obesity atom!!

I’m not about to lay blame on anyone for the obesity statistics. I think it makes good sense for parents to set limits on screen time and a whole lot of other things kids do. The principle is fundamental. My Mom was a masterful limit setter when I was a kid. She used to get my sisters and I to step in line with the mere mention of the dreaded “wooden spoon”. I don’t remember ever seeing it, other than when it was being used to stir something she was cooking. But she got her point across.

She would allow us a certain amount of time watching “the idiot box” then we had to go outside to play – whatever season it was, no matter the weather. Just go outside. Spending more face time with your kids may result in decreased screen time. Makes good sense to me.

I don’t think retiring these characters is the answer to the obesity conundrum, unless they’re not towing the party line at work. Maybe we need the Green Giant to keep them all in line!!

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Let’s Start a Movement Movement

April 14th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

One of the key cornerstones of successful losers is doing regular exercise. Call it what you want to – activity, exercise, moving more or being homo erectus, getting up off the couch and moving around is so good for so many reasons. I’m not suggesting doing the hokey-pokey and moving all about, but if it turns your crank, then do it!!

This aspect of your lifestyle, is about as newsworthy as hearing that Ricky Martin came out of the closet. Somehow we all knew!! You’re probably getting tired of me talking about finding a 15 minute interval at a time to burn a few extra calories. This link has a listing of a number of activities with calorie usage to use in your artillery of strategies for weight management:

What’s great about adding these little nuggets into your day is they add up on the “calorie usage” side of your energy equation. We’ve all heard that to maintain weight we burn as many calories as we take it. If we want to lose weight slowly we need to burn more energy (calories) than we take in. It’s that simple. It’s a perfect time of year to work this in to your daily routine as the lovely weather is approaching.

Many people feel inertia with getting started exercising. They harbour memories of the old days of gym class wearing funky uniforms playing dodge ball, scaling up ropes and scampering around the school track. It doesn’t have to be that anymore – out, out, bad memory!!

What’s so great about getting moving??

  • You burn a few extra calories – turn up your internal furnace
  • You get yourself occupied and busy
  • You eliminate boredom which sometimes plagues the senses with a want to eat when you’re not even hungry
  • You can better process a problem or idea which is a constructive use of your time
  • For many activities you don’t need to dress the part, so people don’t even need to know that this is part of your regimen
  • You get energized, believe it or not!
  • You sleep better

Well, a stroll here, a saunter there, walking a floor or two of stairs in place of taking the elevator – every little bit adds up. You don’t need to sign up to a class, buy an exercise tight or special shoe…that is if you don’t want to. Being a discreet exerciser is a perfect way to balance all of your efforts to feel better and be better. Give it a try, all you have to do is take the first step.

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Take the Test – What’s Your RealAge??

April 13th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

People get all hung up about aging. I’m 49 and am constantly reminded about my age when I can’t read a map without my reading glasses, when a young sales person calls me “Ma-am” or when I better understand the physics of gravity. Now let’s not go there. I used to work at a children’s hospital and realized early on that aging is a gift. It sure beats the alternative!!

There is a comprehensive test you can take to find out your Real Age, found on . I discovered it when I turned 40 and have kept tabs on mine ever since. From an extensive list of questions about your diet, exercise, smoking, connectedness and other important lifestyle factors it calculates from your actual age what your lifestyle is doing to your physiological age. It’s simply brilliant. In addition to informing you about your estimated RealAge it provides a list of practical suggestions you can consider improving upon.

So, take the test at

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Grocery Shopping Gamble – Foundation of Success

April 11th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ahh grocery shopping, it’s that time of the week again. This one activity is the cornerstone of your family’s eating regimen. It can be a blessing or a curse – a blessing if you take a few minutes to plan what you need to get  for your week, or a curse if you gamble on figuring out your plans on the fly. You decide.

I’ll admit, I used to be a gambling grocery shopper, feeling like I’d rely on my food and nutrition prowess and good memory. After stocking up on 5 tubes of jumbo tooth paste week after week when I really needed soap I decided to start making a list. Besides, my memory isn’t as good as it used to be, so why fight it!!

I’ll also fess up that when I was much younger I had a difficult enough time organizing my “to do” list never mind my grocery list of what I was going to eat all week. It was a slog at first, but I got better at it as time went on. Now it’s a snap.

Make a List and Check it Twice

I keep my handy notepad in my kitchen for when I’m close to running out of anything. Before I head out on my grocery shopping trek I review the family activities and make some flexi meal plans. I dig in the corners of the fridge, freezer and cupboards like Wayne Gretsky in his prime and do my darndest to use up what’s there. I really hate wasting good food. It a sin, and an expensive one too.

Running lists are perfect when you want to manage your budget better as you can scan the newspapers or web-sites for specials and include those as well.

It helps to get the whole family involved in the process from start to finish. This is a life skill that your children will thrive on forever. They’ll learn about planning, budgeting, choosing foods, label reading, preparing lunches and dinner if you allow it. Ownership is key. You’ll hear “let’s order in” less often once you’ve committed to buy groceries. This will help your budget and limit waste.

I Say Tomato You Say “Tomoto”

Funny when was a kid  I remember grocery shopping with my Mom (sometimes with all of my sisters in toe….4 of us plus Mom). She got us involved, making sure we behaved before we got out of the car and had us help pick some items out. I’m Italian remember, so we grew up calling some foods by their Italian dialect names. We would call escarole “shkadole” and got funny looks by staff in the produce department when she sent us out for some on our own!! Sometimes we came home empty handed :-(

Something’s Amiss, but Let’s Make it Right!!

What’s up these days parents? I toddle around the grocery store every week and see kids SITTING in the grocery carts. I don’t mean the little bambinos or toddlers who are supposed to sit there, I’m talking about kids 4-7 years olds, sometimes older. Hello McFly!! The grocery store is a perfect place to help kids learn about and actively participate in this life skill. If it’s too much of a bother for you as a parent now to get your kids involved, it will be a huge hassle later when your child grows up and doesn’t know a Spy Apple from a donut’s hole. Do yourself and them a favour and get them involved.

Enjoy the video clip :-)

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Say You Want a Revolution

April 9th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is all the rage these days. Like Waldo, wherever you look he’s there – shazam!! I don’t know about you, but the statistics on obesity and nutrition related illnesses are enough to make me sick. I DO want a food revolution and I believe we’re ripe for the picking – the time is right for change!

I caught a snippet of an episode when Jamie was meeting with a mother and they displayed what the family typically eats in one week on her kitchen table – OUCH!! I think we can all do some thinking and self evaluation on this before Jamie shows up on OUR doorstep. What would be on that table next week?

I think we do need extreme measures like this to get people out of neutral. We don’t have to move a mountain, just take the first step and make one small change at a time. Researchers say it takes 28 days to master a new behaviour. That means in one year you can master 13 easy steps toward better eating and health. You do the math. All you have to take is the first step. Here are a few steps to help you get started:

  • Take stock of where you’re at with food and eating in and outside of the house
  • Do you have some basic elements to eat at home available? Dishes, cutlery, basic spices, a few easy recipes.
  • Is the family involved? Have a family meeting to talk about your plans and get everyone involved. Remember, the parents set the tone and the limits. Make it fun.
  • What would be one or two easy changes to make? Write them down then stick to it for the next month.

To view a presentation by Jamie, visit the link below:

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Be a Weather Warrior – Weather or Not!!

April 8th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Does a gust of wind and a brisk temperature send you back inside from heading out for a walk?? How about an April shower?? The only kind of weather you ought not face is that which could put you in danger – such as a thunderstorm. Luckily, they don’t stick around for hours on end.

Dress the part for whatever Mother Nature sends your way then get outside and play!! If a clipper-from-Canada or Jack Frost blows your way bundle up. Don’t let the weather outside be a deal-breaker for you sabotaging your exercise routine.You’ll feel a sense of victory when you’re done. Put on your dry woolies and get on with the rest of your day.

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Keeping Connected, Making it Easy

April 7th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I used to avoid having people over and entertaining. With the pace of work paired with setting the bar too high, the thought of it would send me into procrastination paralysis. I’m a foodie and so are my friends and the thought of “making the grade” was pressure I didn’t want. A few years ago I did a paradigm shift on my approach and am happy I did.

What’s important in life, it’s people, not stuff right?? Over the past few years I’m happy to admit that I’ve done my share of entertaining, MY WAY. My main goal is to enjoy the company and not give myself consternation around it. What’s my strategy:

  • I uphold the KISS principle – very simple, always
  • What I make is often an “old standby” dish or two that I can accomplish in my sleep – easy peasy is the order of the day
  • I can’t help it, but it’s usually healthful – you know the line “in my house it’s my rules”, ok I stop at giving everyone their multi-vitamin and dose of Vitamin D
  • I set the table simply yet beautifully (ahead of time) which makes even the simplest of dishes look great
  • I pump out the “spa channel” tunes to set a lovely mood
  • I usually have a nice fruit for dessert with a small dish of chocolates
  • If anyone wants to bring anything I’m not too proud to say “no” and welcome it
  • I don’t invite anyone who’s gonna give me “the white glove treatment” and check for dust bunnies
  • Making time to connect with old friends and family is much more important than any concern for my diet.

You know a good friend and colleague of mine passed away in an accident in March. This highlighted the importance of making time to connect with good friends. I’m having my two great friends and colleagues I worked with long ago this week for a weeknight dinner to catch up. All I’m making is a few salads, simple calzones and ending the meal with fruit, and serving a rich BC red wine. How nice it will be to get together and catch up again. If I was in my old mode of worrying about it I might still be putting off making the date.

Cheers to getting together with old friends and keeping it simple!!

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Dishing Up Information – Calories to Go!

April 6th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Knowledge is power. The more we know, the better equipped we are to make better food choices. Moving toward legislating calorie information on the food of chain restaurant menu boards is a step in the right direction. This movement is taking place in the US and hopefully it migrates north to Canada with the return of the Robins.

I was in a Starbuck’s in Seattle last fall with my Husband who’s a mocha-frappe-latte kind of guy. I heard angels singing when he said “OH, I didn’t realize how many calories is in my frappo-x, so I’ll choose something else!!” Eureka, there is a God….and a nutrition one at that!!

Ok I’m a bit of an idealist and believer in the notion of Naturally Nutrient Rich whereby you judge food on the entire nutritional content. But I’m a foodie and most people aren’t. Knowing there is an obesity epidemic and people do a lot more eating on the run in the fast food frenzy environment, displaying calories could definitely help consumers, don’t you think??  Also, the real estate of menu board space is at a premium. I don’t know about you, but without my reading glasses I can barely focus on the food options and price let alone any nutritional information.

If we did live in an ideal world it would be super for people to know content of calories, fat and sodium and more if we could provide it for the food we eat. Something tells me though that if people were nutritionally minded they wouldn’t be caught at the fast food drive-through to begin with. So, taking this step of providing calories could heighten consumer awareness to make a little better choice while eating on the run.

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An Eating Strategist’s "Must Read"

April 5th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

If you’re interested in “cracking the code” of your eating issues then you must read Mindless Eating: Why we eat more than we think by Dr. Brian Wansink. I might have been under a rock when it came out a few years back. My good friend Cara gave it to me at our last visit while I gave KC a flowered dress she has not yet taken off. I am well aware of his research but in all honesty I thought, hmmmm a diet book written by a PhD guy will spell one thing – b-o-r-i-n-g. Gladly it didn’t, it was just the opposite!

The bottom line is that he provides very practical information stemming from his research in a most engaging way. What’s golden about it is that the suggestions don’t discuss “what we eat” but “how we eat”. As I’ve said before “how we eat” is as important as “what we eat”. And it’s true.

When I think back to what helped me most when I lost weight for good, the key for me was behaviour modification. Just focusing on the food was only part of the equation, how I approached the “activity of eating” was another important component. I also worked on a third component – awareness of hunger and satiety. I find from time to time I forget to focus on this important key to success during holiday eating times, eating while travelling, changing time-zones, etc. However I try to remind myself to refocus my attention on that, which helps get my eating back on track. Ok, I digress.

Here’s is a list of why I feel this book unlocks vital keys to weight loss success:

  • He suggests to only focus on making and mastering 3, count ‘em 3 small changes at a time. If you keep this up for months on end you will develop better eating habits over time.
  • The changes you make will elicit a very gradual weight loss. Slow weight loss is easier to maintain than changing 15 aspects of your life at once that implode the night of your class reunion. Hello Cinderella!
  • The premise is that “all foods fit”, as I’ve said before if you “black list” a food, you’ll want it 10 times more.
  • If you’re stuck in a state of inertia whereby you want to begin shaping up but are literally and figuratively fed up with conventional diets, this is the approach for you.

As you reengineer your environment over time while losing weight slowly, you’ll probably start feeling better about yourself. At this point you can consider learning more from “successful losers” and build in some of their strategies as well, such as working in some physical activity, eating breakfast everyday and more. Isn’t it better to lose weight slowly once over a year or two rather than doing it quickly, over and over again? There’s a lot of wisdom in forming new positive eating habits. After all, what do you have to lose?? Maybe that muffin top. It’s worth a try.

Visit for more information.

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Easter Feasts & "Fasts" – Debrief

April 2nd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Easter is before us. Ok so you have your game plan ready to implement at the various meals, brunches and feasts. Good for you. Remember, when you  build in this artillery of strategies you can draw from them whenever the need arises, whatever the circumstance. However you celebrate the feasting, be it lamb, turkey, ham with all of the fixings, the wine the traditional foods, the Easter bunnies and eggs, taking time to plan ahead certainly helps with your springtime eating regimen. Bathing suit and shorts season is upon us!!


What we’re trying to promote here is some degree of peace and harmony while you balance control of enjoying the festivities and family in your favor. We’re not promoting saying “yes” all of the time to loving relatives by eating more to demonstrate how much you love them. In fact, we’re promoting just the opposite – you taking charge of the situation “your way” and showing love without food. You can build your artillery of strategies before the feasting and fasting even starts and can execute with finesse, politeness and respect.

The Post-game Show – The Morning After

So Monday will be a new day. After the yams, turkey, dressing, Easter bread, chocolate eggs, wine, coconut bunny cake and more it’s time to face the morning after. Remember the line “just for today”, well it’s back-on-track-time on Monday. Your temporarily stretched stomach receptors might have your tummy rumbling to fool you into overeating override, but it’s time to take charge and get right back on track. Have your usual weekday breakfast and lean lunch. Load up on the fruit and veggies and get your fluids in – unfortified!! Keep up your vigilance with your exercise regimen and your body will be back to where it was before Good Friday. You’ll be glad you did. Trust me ;-)

Enjoy the photo. It’s a picture of my Mom, sisters and I on Easter from the old days. My Mom sewed all of our outfits!!

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