Archive for August, 2010

Find A Role Model, Any Role Model

August 17th, 2010 No Comments Tags: ,

Look there’s one….While I was doing my daily walk an old woman rode by on a bicycle. Not just a “regular” old lady, one who looked like she recently stepped out of the crypt…with a bicycle helmet on….and might have decayed a day or two – THAT old. I was dragging my butt along then seeing this lady gave me a proverbial kick in my pants to get a move on and take it up a notch.

Let’s face it sometimes we’d like do away with our “just for today” list, just for today. This was written about on June 14.

Keep your eye out for these health mavens among you. You may be surrounded and not even realize it. You know, those people who never seem to age. It just might be the pickle juice they use to soak in at night! But take a page out of their lifestyle and attitude book, because it seems to be working for them.

My Mom has an aunt we call “Si Mary”, Aunt Mary. She’s over a hundred years old by now and has more vim in vigor than a lot of 50 something year olds I know. She lives in her house on her own. She has an extensive garden she plants and cares for with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, fruit trees – you know the drill, she’s Italian…. She climbs a ladder to pick the fruit then preserves it. What an inspiration!! There are some evenings I stand in front of my refrigerator scratching my head saying, “hmmmmm what am I going to make for dinner tonight”. All the while, Si Marie probably made a big batch of home made pasta noodles and sauce, 3 loaves of bread and 5 pies just to keep busy. I’m sure her RealAge would score amazingly low….well under a 100 or 90, probably lower. Check out the link on the right to find out your RealAge.

So I take my hat off to the lady on the bicycle today for motivating me to walk a little more briskly and for Si Mary who lives every day to the fullest with vim and vigor. In Italian we say “Cin ann” meaning 100 years. How do you say “120 years”?

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Follow the Loser – Being Fashionably Attentive

August 16th, 2010 No Comments Tags:

It’s interesting to delve into juicy details about how “successful weight losers” keep motivated to maintain weight loss. As we all know, losing weight is one part of the weight loss success puzzle, keeping it off for good is a whole other piece. Continuing on the “successful weight loser” theme written about weekly since July 6 here are more stories. In the survey we conducted, we asked our respondents if they paid attention to what they wear and prompted them to explain further. They told us “absolutely yes!” with stories to boot. Here’s what our material girls told us:

  • I always have and probably always will! How one presents themselves is very important and gives a message to others what you think of yourself, regardless of your shape/size. Now that I’m 20 (!!!) dress sizes smaller, I have many more choices in clothing and this makes going shopping even more fun! I also love how I look and feel and must say I enjoy getting looks and comments from others re: my appearance.
  • Shopping for new clothes was very inspiring/rewarding. I’ve always been heavier/curvy (at heaviest – size 14, on average size 12 – I’m 5’2″). I’ve never thought of myself as a “small” person, but to buy a size four was really shocking. It forced me to re-think my beliefs about my size.
  • I started to, only after I lost weight. It made big difference to my ability to maintain my weight.
  • Yes, I think people should dress in a way that makes them feel good about themselves and wear clothes that suit their body type and have them fit properly.
  • If I dress a bit nicer and put more effort into my appearance, I feel better about myself, which in turn helps me to stick with my workout and diet routine. Funny cycle!!
  • When I was really heavy I dressed in layers, to hide the bulges (who was I kidding?) I also wore dark coloured clothes. The theory is that dark colours are slimming. I still prefer loose clothing, but I wear much brighter colours now.
  • I always choose clothes that are flattering to my body and make me look slim and emphasize my assets.

As I always say, “accentuate the positive”…. I wrote about this March 29 so give that a read. Are you fashionably attentive to keep you in the game? Tell us all about it. Who doesn’t LOVE to chat about dressing for success??!!

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Accumulation Nation

August 15th, 2010 No Comments Tags: ,

Back on April 16 I did a post on Conquering Clutter.  It truly is an exercise in itself, isn’t it?? I was thinking about the accumulation of things while putting the laundry away today. You know the drill. I was putting socks away in hubby-boy’s (aka The White Wizard) drawers. If you remember the old Star Trek episode of the Tribbles you’ll know what I’m referring to. By the end of the episode, these little fuzzy things were multiplying all over the place, falling out of overhead bins and storage closets on the Starship Enterprise. Hmmmm perhaps this was a foreshadowing of our current situation becoming the “Accumulation Nation”.

Ok I know this fall will be a busy time, so it’s time to get The White Wizard to go through and purge some of his stuff. I organized our basement on a rainy spring weekend and got rid of obvious junk – wallpaper rolls from the 60′s with paint cans, old musty door mats, etc. I did stage some of The White Wizard’s stuff to go through. Being a professor he has sets of old exams from the ’90′s (and probably earlier), graduation class photos framed from the 80′s (taken annually of course), along with an accumulation of boxes. Ok everybody’s got their dirty little secrets and that’s his. Yes, The Whiz keeps boxes from every technological device he has purchased since the beginning of time (it would seem) – small ones, big ones, flat ones, square ones, ones with handles, ones without. Ok, I’m exaggerating….a little.

The line I’m certain to get when I tell him about what’s next up from the job jar is “well is it hurting anyone?” And my answer to that is “NOT YET”!! Then I’ll break into my best imitation of Ralph Cramdon and threaten “to da moon”!! I don’t know about you, but I get a sense of calm getting rid of old junk. My friend Joan and I have talked about this a number of times and she feels the same way.

I’m at the stage in my life where I crave serenity now. I now realize that accumulating more stuff isn’t going to get me there, but cleansing and purging will. The bonus of spending a few hours doing this is that it burns extra calories to boot, so it truly is an exercise in itself.

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Eat It, Write It, Think It, Change It

August 12th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

There’s been a lot of talk about the census lately. The long form, the short, choice, no choice. Census, shmensus! I say if you don’t have to complete the census then keep a 1-day food record instead. Yup, get a piece of paper and pen, bring along your memory and conscience and write down everything you eat and drink for 1 weekday and 1 weekend day. Every sip, nibble and nosh – yes the candy from the dish from your secretary’s desk, that ice cap from the drive thru, the food prep nibbles, clean up munches, and the night nip – simply e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

It’s interesting you know. Eating is one of those habits that’s built into your robot (which I wrote about on May 26). It’s so automatic. You could be in the middle of an eating vortex and not quite realize it. Get yourself a copy of the Food Pyramid or Guide and compare how you faired out on a few fronts. Welcome to the Republic of Hungry!!

  • First look at the Food Pyramid/Guide’s recommendation for your age group and gender, then compare the food groupings with your records. Have a look see of the serving sizes. Have you had food from all of the groups? Has anything fallen short?
  • Next take a gander at any extras. You know, the stuff that doesn’t fit into any of the groups like a jumbo slushie perhaps, gummy bears, fudge syrup to top ice cream, frappa-macha-latte….you know what I mean .
  • Then zero in on what drinks you’re guzzling. We often forget that beverages are food too – juices, punches, soda pop, coffee, tea, milk, alcohol (wine, coolers, the hard stuff, slebovich). Those that fit into the Guide/Pyramid, do the amounts fit in. Just cause something’s good for you, doesn’t mean you drink it in unlimited quantities. As for the other drinks, are those calories piling up in that department?
  • Now, zero in on how the foods were made. Even if you’re having a lot of pre-prepared foods it was cooked at some point. Was it fried?
  • Take another look at the salt content. We’ve been talking about this so you may as well have a look see on that while you’re at it.
  • Gauge your caffeine intake – focus on your drinks – coffee, tea, colas, energy drinks, plus chocolate. If you’re wondering why you’re not sleeping well, having too much caffeine could explain why.
  • Finally, how do you eat? Is it on the run? Is it reading? Watching the boob tube? Driving the car? This is starting to sound like Green Eggs and Ham!

If you’re interested in having a better idea of your eating try this once or twice a year. It’s difficult to prioritize how to eat and drink better when you might not be fully aware of what’s getting into your pie-hole. Even better, hire a dietitian for 1 hour to review your record to help you prioritize. Visit the website on the left to help find you one (American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada). You owe it to yourself.

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Food Revolution “You Complete Me” Pasta Salad

August 11th, 2010 No Comments Tags: ,

I think the humidity has infiltrated my memory bank. What memory bank??!! I forgot about making this super easy-peasy pasta salad. Hubby boy asked me to prepare this for his staff luncheon. It’s really a snap to make and tastes oh so yummy.


1-  500gm (1 pound) bag three colored rotini (spiral) or penne pasta boiled ’til done then strained

1 – 540mL (28gm) can drained and rinsed chic peas

1 – 200mL (12oz) jar drained and rinsed quartered marinated artichokes

1 – 200mL (12oz) can drained and rinsed pitted and sliced black olives

1 bunch cleaned boiled and cut in thirds green asparagus spears

1 small bag mini carrots boiled and cut in half

Chopped green and Spanish onion (to taste)

1 piece feta cheese crumbled

1 small bottle of salad dressing (oil & vinegar based)

Optional (in place of the feta cheese)

1 tin of deboned tuna or deboned salmon OR

Few hard boiled eggs chopped OR

Shredded cheese (any kind, to your liking) OR

Cooked cubed beef OR chicken OR pork OR

Any combination of the above

Instructions & Commentary

Once each ingredient is prepared add it to your salad bowl. Once everything has been added gently stir, combining all of the lovely ingredients – yummy-yum-ba!!

I like to make this a day in advance in order to up the coalescing factor of the ingredients and to rid myself of the mess the day I’m planning to serve it. Truly, you can sub in any other veggie or protein of your choice (i.e. whatever needs to be used in your refrigerator, perhaps?!). Just make sure you use all of the colors of the rainbow. A true taste explosion. This can be used as a meal accompaniment or as the meal by itself. Yes, a nearly perfect food!! Like Mini-Me moaned to Dr. Evil “You complete me!!” but this is truly better :-)

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You Don’t Need a Circle to have a Circle of Friends

August 10th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

I live in a unique neighborhood where our motto is “Circle of Friends”. Sounds corny, huh? Smack dab in the middle of it is well, a 2 mile road that’s kind of a circle. This year marks our neighborhood’s 50th anniversary. Hmmmm, at least something’s older than me!!

They are planning to have us make a human chain around our circle and beat the world’s record. I’m proud to admit the symbolism of friendship by doing this does exist in my neighbourhood to some degree. When I take my daily walk people say “hello” with a smile. Sounds like something out of The Prisoner series, doesn’t it??!! The guy who walks all year round with cross country ski poles says “hi”, the lady who reads her prayer book while she walks says “hi”, the gals all talking at once stop to say “hi”, the old Polish couple who saunter around the loop say “allo”. When Uncle George and Auntie Peggy are in their kitchen that faces the sidewalk, they’ll wave “hi” as well. (For the record, we’re not related!!) Everybody does. It’s really heart warming.

Ok ok, so my neighbour’s van was stolen out of her driveway while warming up one cold winter’s day. So it’s not perfect. It’s friendly but not like that Seinfeld episode where everyone in Jerry and Kramer’s apartment building got way too friendly….

There is a neighborhood executive that plans many activities from the garage sale (when we swap each other’s junk), children’s fun days, river clean up, dinner social and the my favourite the Christmas Caravan. For the same Sunday in December year after year adults, kids, Santa and a donated moving truck meander around every street in the neighborhood collecting food, clothes and toys for charity while Christmas carols play aloud. How joyous!! I look forward to this day with delight.

I know one thing for sure, you don’t need a 2 mile street that runs in a circle smack dab in the middle of your neighbourhood to have the spirit of friendship where you live. You can have it by smiling and saying hello when you walk in your neighborhood today. I’ll bet someone started that 50 years ago and it eventually stuck. Give it a try and tell me how it goes. You’ll be glad you did.

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Follow the Loser – Testimonials to Be Inspired By

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

Everybody has a story. Our successful weight losers whole-heartedly shared theirs. If you’re feeling a little discouraged trying to get started with a new regimen or dealing with a plateau, you may find it helpful to hear about how others have endured and succeeded. Continuing on the “successful weight loser” theme written about July 6, 12, 19, 26 and August 3.

Here are a few inspiring true stories:

  • I have been overweight for 25 years through kids and my adult life. I’ve always been active and although I wanted to lose weight I never took serious steps to do it. On a visit to the doctor all of my once normal readings had changed slightly and it inspired me to take a look at myself. I just did it on my own and starting monitoring everything that went in my mouth. I have not seen good results with other people on very strict commercial plans and I needed to work a lifestyle plan that I could live with forever. I just reduced calories and fat and started to read labels on food. Some of the choices were so easy, like choosing soup with 2gms of fat instead of 8. I wasn’t aware of these little things before. I didn’t notice the difference in taste but the weight loss was noticeable. It took me a year to lose 35lbs but it was steady. I have gained about 5 lbs back as I’ve had 3 surgeries in the last year which has slowed down my exercise, but I am well now and intend to take off the 5 lbs again the same way as before.
  • First 5 pounds….and then 20,25, 50 and 100! Sense of pride and accomplishment that I was taking control of my weight, actually joining a gym, actually enjoying going to the gym, and actually continuing to go to the gym daily for 3 years!! Fitting into a size 6, then 4 and even sometimes a 2 for the first time ever! This is wonderful, given I’d never been these sizes even when I was a teenager.
  • I was in a car accident in 2005 that left me laying on the couch for a loooong time. I gained about 60 pounds, and I was devastated. I saw a dietitian who really helped me learn to change my eating patterns and which foods I didn’t think were bad but were hurting me. I felt tired, lazy and gross, so I really tried hard to follow her eating plan, and I slowly started to add in exercise that I enjoyed, like swimming, walking my dog, etc. Before I knew it, my clothes were baggy and I had a lot more energy. So I’ve lost about 55 pounds and have kept it off for just over a year now, and in fact I’ve even lost a bit more over the past year.

Feel free to share your stories, trials and tribulations. We’re all in this together right – Through Thick & Thin!!

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Start Me UP

August 7th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

Don’t get me started. Maybe I was more self aware today, but while on my walk I felt my thighs rubbing, my leg flesh was moving in the opposite direction than the way I was moving and when I waved my hand the skin-flap under my arm waved in unison, more than usual – AHHHHH!!

Ok I confess, I’ve fallen off the wagon since the spring. My easy peasy matt and weight routine reported on April 28 have all been collecting dust since summer started. I feel like sneakily peri-menopause (you know him?) is taking hold of my body big time. The only ab crunch I’ve been doing is getting out of bed in the morning. My resolve along with my body has gone soft.

I know I passed my physical written about on June 25 but I feel like the jiggle factor is up as I’m turning into a bowl of Jello and the Pillsbury Dough Boy – Tee Hee – not so funny. You are what you eat so my morning porridge seems to be settling in on my upper thighs of all places. My spaghetti arms are turning to linguini…

WELL THAT’S IT!! I’m back on my matt routine as of this moment. Only 5 minutes here and a few more there will all help to firm up so I will be having all body parts move in unison in no time!!

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Label Reading 101 – Tally to Reality

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

Continuing from last week’s post on label reading on July 29, I want to build on this important skill of reading the food label focusing on sodium. Let’s continue doing this in the comfort of your own home, shall we?? Now take out a pen and paper and your trusty calculator.

Let’s begin by writing everything you ate and drank yesterday in a list, estimating amounts. This is between you and your conscience so now’s a good time to spill the beans. Write down every sip, nibble and nosh on your list. Now looking at the food label serving size create a column to the right indicating how many servings you had according to the defined serving size of that food on the label. For example, say you had 2 cups of cereal for breakfast and the serving size on that Nutrition Facts Table says 1 serving equals 1 cup. You had 2 servings, right? Making another column to the right,  jot down sodium intake from each food on your list. Using he label seeing as you had 2 servings of cereal, look for the sodium on the label, times that by 2 and write in your total for each item on your list.

Try to estimate amounts if you added salt in cooking or at the table knowing that 1 teaspoon of salt = 2,400mg of sodium. If you ate out look up foods you had and see if the nutritional information is available on the internet. Many restaurant chains have this information is available. Some of the food choices have astounding amounts of sodium, it really is worth looking up and being aware of.

Ok, now let’s take the total of your sample day – Ta Da. Are you surprised?? Data of daily diets taken by various governments shows sodium intakes are through the roof – often more than double the recommended amount and well above the suggested upper limit. The upper tolerable level of sodium for adults is 2,300mg/day. The suggested amount is 1,500mg/day. This is why so much attention has been paid to this topic. There is a significant body of evidence linking high sodium intake to elevated blood pressure, which is the leading preventable risk factor for death worldwide. High blood pressure is the major cause of cardiovascular disease and a risk factor for stroke and kidney disease. There is also evidence to suggest that a diet high in sodium is a risk factor for osteoporosis, stomach cancer and asthma.

I suggest you make this a family exercise now that you’ve finished in order to wake up everyone in your household. Band together as a team to work on lowering the sodium you and your family consume over time. I don’t suggest tracking this daily, but I do suggest doing a spot check once in a while.

Next week I’ll focus on the calories using the nutrition facts table. Let me know how this goes for you.

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Sugar Hits a Sour Note

August 4th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I read about a movement afoot to ban sugar-sweetened soft drinks in vending machines in some government jurisdictions in the US. When I hear this my automatic reaction is to call my broker to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” the stocks of these products.

Humans are an interesting yet predictable species. When something’s threatened to be taken away (no matter what their age), they want it 10 times more. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but only just a little. When junk food is removed from schools, kids consumption of it doesn’t really change much. You know why, because they get it some place else.

This act of “protecting” people from the food they eat merely reinforces the opposite behaviour. In fact it does so much more damage, it’s actually disturbing. Firstly, the removal of, let’s say soda pop sends a message that “soda pop is bad for me”. Then the user thinks, “hmmmmm, but I really like soda pop and want to get some”. Unfortunately when they do, they feel guilty about it. Great, just what we need is a hang-up superimposed on another hang-up.

The other thing this does is paste the “bad food banner” on a food. Many people feel they are indeed “bad” when they consumer these foods. Hey, wait a second, all foods fit, right? When are we going to all start singing from the same song sheet on this. Moderation is key. The last thing consumers need are more problems and mixed messages about their food.

We live in a free country so let’s equip people with the information to make their own food choices. The food label and nutrition facts table is such a resource. When people put thought into their consumption, many are able to make better choices. I was part of a study where one of the exercises we asked our participants to do was to write down what they ate for one day. A few days later we asked them to reflect on this. Interestingly, some noted that they needed to change a few things to eat better and felt they were more aware to do so.

Just for the record, 1 teaspoon (5mL) of sugar has 15 calories. The same volume of fat/oil has 40 calories. Nothing should be consumed in unlimited amounts, but if we’re picking our battles on what to focus on, let’s bark up the right tree, don’t you think?? And oh, they still sell cigarettes, those nasty addictive, cancer causing things, while the focus is to remove soda pop from vending machines…..but I digress.

What I’m NOT saying is drown yourself drinking soft drinks. Learn what’s in your food and decide what a reasonable amount is to have and how often. If your energy economics (i.e. calorie intake) is limited because you are sedentary (or my age) you might choose sugar free alternatives. And in the heat drink water to keep well hydrated. We don’t have to make this into a mammoth issue when it doesn’t need to be. Really, it’s too humid outside to get all hot and bothered over!!

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Foodie Fundamentals, Francy Rants, Nutrition News, Policy for the People | No Comments »