Archive for September, 2010

Waiting for the Shoe to Drop….

September 17th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

What is it about we women and our shoes? An unsuspecting question posed in mixed company some weeks ago. I think the new phenomenon of hoarding all started with one woman’s shoe wardrobe getting out of hand. For some reason needing yet another pair makes total sense for we double-X-ers. But somehow those men from Mars just don’t get it. Maybe it’s because their feet are so big all they can handle is 3 pair. There aren’t cubbies large enough to store them.

Take the black footwear category alone. If I ever find myself shopping with hubby-boy aka Gandolf the White he’ll utter “don’t you have a few (…cough, cough….too many) black pairs already….just like those?” Often spoken when I haven’t even asked for an opinion! Where’s that voice coming from….la la la la la la la…

Now, let’s see, let’s review the black shoe category, shall we – there’re black evening, black walking (with heal), black flat (for walking on cobble streets), black flat (which are nicer looking, good with  jeans), black for a suit/interview, black for wearing with nice trousers, black summer – sandal, flat, little heal, high heal, then black winter – lowrise with treds, higher rise with treds (for those of us who endure winter with snow)…..and that’s just the black section ladies. I think I missed a few subcategories, but you get my drift.

Just between you and me, I have developed a money counting system called “shoe equivalents”. It’s based on my average cost per pair of shoes. Let’s say I pay on average $80/pair of shoes (I excel at finding a great deal). Now, let’s compare this with say, a big screen TV for instance that costs $1,200….also on sale. Hmmmm let’s tally this up shall we…..cha-ching, that would be 15 shoe equivalents. It really creates a good visual to get my point across. Wouldn’t you agree??

Now, take these diva delights in the photo here – my too-high blue-swede shoes. Yes, these are the ones I blogged about September 6. Why would any femme-fatale-of-footwear or Sultan-of-shoe pass up a pair of these puppies? I still have calluses on the balls of my feet from dancing on the ceiling with these. But let me tell you ladies, it was worth it.

What a new pair of shoes means to a woman is like what comfort food means to a man. The only difference is you don’t add another ring around your trunk from an over indulgence of bella scarpi (nice shoes). Nosh on that notion fellas, nosh on that!!

Got a shoe story, come on out with it…….

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Food Revolution Beef and Cheese Nachos

September 16th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , ,

As summer meanders into fall and the temperatures begin to dip I’ll admit I doing a seasonal change-up. I begin craving heartier meals. This is certainly one of my soul-food stand-by week night dinners that’s SOOO fast and easy to make. It’s as comforting to eat as putting on my piggy slippers to wear. Funny when I chat with hubby-boy, aka Indy about “what’s for dinner” he always shouts out “Nachos!!!!!” when I tell him this is on the menu. I love it! With that kind of response I don’t know why I don’t prepare it more often.

Ok I know why. Even though I use all of the low fat and low salt ingredients for this I can find, it still ends up being relatively high in sodium. So, I make this once in a while and love it to bits!!


1 lb (454gm) extra lean ground beef

3-4 peeled, crushed  garlic cloves

1 onion peeled, sliced

7-8 large mushrooms, washed & sliced (buying large ones means there are fewer to wash!!)

salt & pepper to taste (err on the side of less for the salt)

1-180gm or half pound bag baked, low sodium nachos (yes Doritos makes ‘em)

low fat, old shredded cheddar cheese

Serve with 0-2% low fat sour cream and salsa


In a large skillet on low add 1 tbsp of canola oil. Once heated, add the garlic and onion and cook to soften. Add the mushrooms plus a mini-dash of salt and pepper, then raise heat to medium-low. Once cooked half way add the ground beef and simmer until cooked thoroughly (i.e. get the red out… just like Visine!!).

Meanwhile in a large baking dish add 1 package of baked, low sodium nachos to fill the bottom of the dish. Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon add the cooked beef and mushroom mixture over the nachos. You don’t want to soak the crispy nachos with fluid. Sprinkle the grated low fat cheddar cheese over the top, to your liking. Pop in the oven and bake for ~5-10 minutes to heat through thoroughly and melt the cheese.

Serve with super low fat sour cream (0-2%) and speecy-spicy extra hot salsa. Ole!!

I always make a bigger batch as it’ll heat up well in the oven the next day as a leftover. Give this a try and let me know how it works for you. Enjoy!!

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You Don’t Need Force to Have the Power

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

Power is an interesting thing. I picked up the October issue of The Oprah Magazine and that’s the theme this month, so it got me thinking about it. Although the word denotes the notion of strength in the physical sense there really is so much more to it.

We live in a society where the masses equate power with strength, with someone or something bigger, perhaps more aggressive, someone who goes further, harder, faster, better, stronger. Someone who pushes the envelope.

People sometimes feel to get ahead they need to burn the candle at both ends. They need to do more. You end up becoming time-starved and reach the brink of exhaustion loading up the days with more, more, more. Living with too many balls in the air simultaneously can end up being counter productive to what’s important. Sometimes less is more.

Think about the power of rest for example. When I think of rest I think of calmness and serenity. The notion of power doesn’t even come to mind. But when we get that much needed rest we end up becoming rejuvenated and fresh. Rest results in having more energy where we feel we can take on the world. We become powerful because of it!!

In various circumstances some people feel if they speak louder and forcefully they’ll have a better chance at getting their point across. You know this person?? I’m related to a few….I’m Italian, remember??!! On the contrary, there is a power in silence that only those who seek it understand. Often it can be the meek and gentle that exude the most power. A few of these people come to mind – Ghandi, Nelson Mandella, Mother Teresa……

For me, I find power in silence. Having some quiet time. When you think of quiet time though you think of stillness and tranquility. A far cry from anything that’s powerful. During my quiet time comes wisdom, inspiration, ideas and solutions to life’s dilemmas. I find when you try to force yourself the develop an idea you come up empty handed. But when you put your faith in silence, ideas just flow.

So rethink what power means to you because there’s a lot of muscle in the meek. Speaking of which, do you think Jackie Ivanko’s going to win America’s Got Talent tonight?? I sure hope so :-)

Alas, even though Jackie didn’t win, she is surely the superstar of the bunch…..Prince Poppycock is the runner up….congratulations to all!!

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Business Travel Bupkiss

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

Ahhh business travel. There are mine fields galore that can wreak havoc on your eating and activity regimen. From sitting on your butt all day long, to having too little time to work out to being tempted by the catering gods. All can interfere with your long range health goals. Take heart you keeners, we can overcome!! With a bit of planning you can stay on track and get back to your regular “healthy” business upon your return home.

Right out of the gate your sleep pattern can fly off course with a different schedule than usual. You know the drill – waking up every few hours to take a peak at the time so you don’t sleep through the alarm….. so you don’t miss your flight.

Then comes the airport shuffle – check in, security “pat down” then finding some extra strong coffee to give you the jolt you’re looking for. Try to remember to bring a few high fibre breakfast cereal bars and use one as a stand-in breakfast on the run or handy snack, just in case.

Then you get to the meeting where you sit all day and turn into a chair fixture if you don’t make a concerted effort to move around at the scheduled breaks. Your meeting hosts order goodies galore plus fruit adding temptation to your meeting’s agenda. Ok, avoid this “I deserve” a treat bupkiss because you’re really burning fewer calories than a regular work day presumably. Say “ni” to the Naomi bars!! Keep your fluids up (like water) and nibble on the fruit.

Ahh then comes lunch with platters of choices you would rarely partake in on a normal Monday. It’s important to watch your serving sizes. Load up on the veggie and fruit options and have a little something of the main course. Err on the side of little, i.e. itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, got it! Just because they’ve scheduled an hour for lunch does not mean you’re at the eating olympics and you can eat for the duration. In the extra time network, catch up on messages and move around to get your circulation moving. If you eat too much at lunch you’ll be fighting the biological need for an afternoon nap when the meeting’s issues reach a crescendo.

Do partake in the dinner if invited. What are you there for anyhow? It doesn’t mean though, that eating on an expense account absolves the calories from counting. They count in spades my friend!! Try to go for a smaller portion if available, which may still be a generous serving size and avoid the bread and even an appetizer. Try to limit your alcohol intake by nursing 1 glass of wine to pair with your dinner while drinking water all the while. Extra alcohol adds so many more calories and may result in you saying or doing something you might regret when it wares off. You’ve got reading to do to prep for tomorrow’s meeting nonetheless – ug.

Aim to set the coffee machine in the room at night and get up early. Who can sleep well in a hotel anyhow?? Bring exercise attire for a visit to the gym in the morning. This makes a lot of sense. A half hour on one of the machines helps get you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to discuss the strat plan at the coming day’s meeting.

It’ll be back to your home routine resulting in being relatively unscathed upon your return. You surely will be feeling behind the 8-ball by doing your best by trying to stay on track. Click your red heals Dorothy, “there’s no place like home”, that’s for sure!!

Staying on top of your eating and activity regimen takes some extra planning and attention and is certainly worth the effort. If I can do it, so can you.

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Follow the Loser – Focus on What’s Important

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

I’ve done a lot of talking about finding and emulating role models. Well if you want to be a successful weight loser, it all starts with acting more like them. I thought you’d be interested in the sample details as it might help you understand them better.

Important factors contributing to their long-term weight loss success:

98% said eating breakfast daily

95% said physical activity

95% said eating fewer calories

95% said paying more attention to their physical appearance (clothes, hair, make up)

86% said planning ahead

82% said maintaining a consistent pattern on weekdays and weekends

81% said eating low fat

79% said setting goals

78% said having low cal drinks

77% said monitoring their weight

77% said working on improving self esteem

76% said behaviour change (with our without therapy)

75% said rewarding their successes

75% said eating at home more often

73% said keeping a journal

71% said support of family and friends

67% said bringing food and being more prepared wherever they go

Well there you have it. The list of what factors were identified by successful weight losers as important to them and their long-term weight loss success. Do you have any thoughts on this? I’d like to know…..

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Hey Silly Wabbit – Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food

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

Apparently there’s a major campaign mounting in the US aiming to encourage kids to eat more carrots. What’s up doc??!! They’re working on slick packaging and smart distribution in vending machines and such. Of course there are the naysayers criticizing this initiative. That’s not exactly a surprise. I think before anyone criticizes anything they should be charged with the task of coming up with one or two solutions first, don’t you think??

This is an admirable quest and I give the carrot pushers an “A” for effort. Being a former paediatric dietitian by trade I think it’s great to give this the old college try. I didn’t really agree with Jessica Seinfeld’s idea of sneaking veggies into every day foods in her recipe book. That simply goes against my professional approach. If you want my opinion on this, getting kids to eat vegetables needs to start when they’re first introduced to food in the high chair when they’re wee munchins.

We adults self impose our own food attitudes on infants by simply squenching our faces when we spoon out the Gerber-gunk. We forget that our taste buds are adultered and blunted from years of noshing on everything from dopio espressos to chipotle chicken wings to double hot salsa – ole!! For infants, their food sensory experience is fresh and new. A far cry from ours. If you’re dishing it up like it’s something that needs to be dumped into the recycling bin, they’ll turn their nose up at it too.

Researchers have also shown that when we adults reinforce eating one food by rewarding it with another, little tikes clue in lickity-split that they SHOULD like the reward the most. I was on a plane once with a lovely family with young children. The parents eating credo was “if you eat your vegetables you can have your brownie”. Uh oh, let’s face it folks this is more common than a common denominator. This approach has been passed down from the caveman I think and has been interwoven into our social and cultural fabric.

Knowledge is power right, so let’s try to stop ourselves the next time we try to utter these words. Also, being a good role model helps more than you realize. As far as the Carrot Campaign goes they need to keep one mathematical question in mind:

If a kid is sent to school with 3 bucks for lunch and the bag-o-carrots cost 4 your campaign’s gonna fizzle right out of the gate. When I counselled kids I often asked them how they decided what they’d buy for lunch. They looked at me as if I had 10 heads and said “….well, I wanna eat enough to satisfy my hunger and have some money left over for a snack, just in case….” DUH. Good point little Johnny!!

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Pre-Fall Balls – GO Team GO!!

September 9th, 2010 No Comments Tags:

When I think of this time of year visions of balls dance in my head. Baseball end-of-season play is reaching a crescendo. The US Open tennis has us following the fluorescent yellow bouncing ball. Then the dawning of football season, just like the song that never ends. Well there’s another ball I’m referring to and that’s the cheese ball….

Yes folks, a good friend of mine sent me this photo of her mother-in-law’s Rosh Hashana dessert. I think it’s still in her tum-tum digesting. How innocent can the sport of whipping up a master dish like this be? Apparently, not very!! Dessert-making for HER Mother Dearest is, well, an olympic sport. Dare I post this into my “Food Revolution Recipes” section. I fret I’ll be stripped of my professional RD designation for doing so!!

I hear it’s based on the idea of the innocent cheddar cheese ball served with crackers. We are all familiar with this happy appi, right? Only this is the dessert version with decadence infusion to the MAX. This is a cheese-ball morphed into a cheeseCAKE ball. Now you’re talkin’!!  Yes, seriously. It is cheesecake and chocolate chips coated in Skor bars, served with Nilla Wafers. Oy oy oy he shoots he Skors!!  Let me get my endocrinologist and dentist on speed-dial. I’m told it was SOOOOO sweet the family has a permanent pucker on their faces today.

I compare this to the high-pitched dog whistle, so high that we mere humans can’t hear it, but the dogs come running. Well this sweetness factor is so high-pitched all the honey bees in her neighbourhood have their little honey bee faces stuck up on the dining room window trying to get at it. Ok and so Bubby wins the gold medal in this year’s dessert making contest. Congratulations Bubby!! If your pancreas was in borderline functioning condition before noshing on this, it will certainly be in overdrive after.

What can I say – viva Velveeta!! Happy New Year!! Shana Tova!! I love a family celebration :-)

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If You Don’t Snooze You Won’t Lose

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

We have heard about a wide array of causes of obesity over the years. Here’s one that doesn’t involve me needing to lecture about food OR exercise and activity. It’s getting enough sleep. Yes-sir-ree folks, it makes you want to curl up and have a celebratory snooze to catch up on some much needed zzzz’s.

Evidence is emerging that suggests there’s a direct relationship between sleep and obesity. Some studies have shown that persistent under- or oversleeping results in considerable weight gain over a prolonged period of time. Scientists say that the average nightly sleep has been declining steadily over the past 40 years. This is a phenomenon for tweens, teens and adults alike having 1-2 fewer hours of sleep than required per night on average. It’s recommended to have 6-9 hours/night.

This makes me wonder how the caffeination of our nation has had an impact on this issue. It seems everywhere you turn are drinks laden with caffeine – in hot drinks, in cold drinks and even in some foods we eat. Even young kids are getting their fill of it. This could affect sleep patterns. Do some reflecting on whether you and your family sleep enough or not. Also track your caffeine intake. Take some time to review information on food labels. You might be surprised by how much caffeine you and your family are consuming.

The other thing to consider is whether your kids are going beddie-byes with their cell phones. The texting craze certainly has gone bonkers. So when you say “nite nite” do the same with all technological devices in your home.

So, sleep on this notion. If you find yourself burning that candle at both ends trying to get ahead while having difficulty getting behind the 8-ball where your weight is concerned, reflect on your sleep routine. Because if you don’t snooze you won’t lose :-)

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Protein Power for Optimal Repair

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

I’ve been mulling over the power of protein recently. Since dancing from 10pm ’til past midnight at the family wedding recently in too-high blue swede shoes, the magic of protein for muscle repair has been on my mind. I must say that my older sisters out lasted me after I hit the wall. Bravo!! Funny, after I decided to stop and my party-hearty was over I’ve tried to catch up on sleep and follow my eating instincts for optimal bodily repair. What was my craving of choice?? Well, two things really – eggs and milk.

Talk about two nearly perfect foods. Both incredibly naturally nutrient rich. Both pretty much win the prize. Take the egg for example. It’s a food loved by people of all ages from toddlers to elders and everyone in-between. Easy to prepare. So versatile. So diverse. And SOOOO economical, fitting everyone’s budget. I posted a recipe on June 15 as an example.

And milk in all of it’s diverse and yummy forms – to drink (as milk or smoothie) or to eat (as yoghurt, cottage cheese, pudding, low fat sour cream) and so much more. I did a post on dairy May 24 so that’ll give you more scoop on this nearly perfect food.

The other thing I love about all protein food is their ability to satisfy hunger for a generous duration of time. That nutty carb craze we all went through years ago just sent us into eating overdrive. Although the craze was to consume “low fat”, every hour or so we’d feel hungry again because carbs don’t level off your blood sugar for the long haul like protein does.

What did we learn during that era?? We learned we need balance and we need all macronutrients in proper proportion – protein, fat and carbs.

Yes, my feet and muscles are feeling much better now that I am no longer the dancing machine extraordinaire. I would have made Dick Clark of American Bandstand proud…..maybe!! And my nieces and nephews, well probably not!! DJ Rouge is certainly a devil for sustaining such a fab beat ’til the wee hours of the night :-)

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Follow the Loser – Delving into the Devilish Details

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

I’ve done a lot of talking about finding and emulating role models. Well if you want to be a successful weight loser too it all starts with taking on and acting more like one. I thought you’d be interested in the details about the women who answered our survey questions “the sample” that I’ve been writing about weekly since early July.  It might help you to understand them better and relate to them as well. We had about 60 respondents who took a lot of time to answer a wide array of detailed questions. Here’s the scoop:

About Their Age

30% were 20-30 years of age

30% were 31-40 while

40% were 41+ years of age

When did they lose weight?

44% lost while in their 20′s

28% in their 30′s and

28% in their 40′s plus

How much weight did they lose (in pounds)?

30% lost 20 pounds

32% lost 21-30 pounds while

38% lost more than 30 pounds, 5% of these lost over 90 pounds

What strategies worked most successfully for them?

74% did a combination of things – exercise plus low cal or high protein or low fat

62% followed a commercial program (Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig)

75% said they included behaviour change

About Exercise Regimens

0% did NOT exercise therefore 100% DID exercise

-> many admitted that they didn’t consider walking an exercise :-)

16% exercised daily

61% exercised 2-4 times per week

23% exercised 5-6 times per week

85% did weight training

86% did walking

Handling Holidays & Vacations

40% admit to getting off track during these times

On Eating Out of the Home

-> They do it but not frequently

Dealing with Saboteurs

35% admit to dealing with challenging people around their diet

>90% of them have strategies to deal with these situations

I feel we had a representative sample of women in our study sample who lost weight successfully. They spanned a cross section of ages and life stages plus amounts of weight lost. They also kept it off for at least a year. This sort of undertaking is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of time, energy, planning and commitment to sustain the changes made and weight losses achieved. My hats off to all successful weight losers and to those of you working diligently on trying.

Remember, life is a journey and you’ll never waste your time trying to do things to make yourself better. Persistence pays off.

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