Monday, February 24, 2014

Time To Dust Off The Exercise Bike

            We probably still have a bit of winter to suffer through before we get to spring and the "spring cleaning" it invites, but I AM going to send you into your attic, garage, overstuffed closet etc. for this week’s challenge.
            It seems our dreams and enthusiasm often get us started on a path of fun and exercise. We buy a treadmill, a mini-trampoline, a tennis racquet, swim goggles, a treadmill, road or exercise bike, jump rope, hula hoop, Wii exercise game, some hand weights, a yoga DVD, a softball and glove etc. etc.
            But somehow life and all it asks of us, so easily comes between us and the fun we’d like to have.  We meant to toss the ball with our kids or go for a ride on our bike or jump rope for a few minutes but we never seem to get around to it.
            You guessed it. This week’s fitness challenge requires you to get out some of your fitness toys and equipment and actually use it. You can use the same equipment every day or choose something different for each day of this week. I’m not even going to set a time requirement because so often all we need is something to get us started!
            So for every day this week that you use some kind of fitness equipment or tool (that you have NOT been regularly using)  you can claim the daily bonus points.
            And if you are one of those people that honestly has never purchased any fitness equipment check with friends and neighbors as I am sure they have something you can borrow. Or run down to Wal-Mart and invest in a jump rope. But keep moving ladies

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Real Foods do not have a long list of unpronounceable ingredients!

         Years ago when my youngest daughter was in high school she decided to go on a diet of “no processed foods.” It was one of the busiest weeks of my life! In an effort to support her I was baking bread, cutting up fruits and vegetables and even tried my hand at making crackers. Yikes!
         Luckily for me the phase only lasted about a week but it was a good reminder to me that a healthy diet is a diet rich with real food—food your grandma would recognize, food without a long list of ingredients that you cannot pronounce.
         Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added salt, carbohydrates, or fat. Examples of whole foods include unpolished grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and non-homogenized dairy products. Originally all human food was whole food
         Diets rich in whole and unrefined foods, like whole grains, dark green and yellow/orange-fleshed vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, contain high concentrations of antioxidant phenolics, fibers and numerous other phytochemicals that may be protective against chronic diseases. "A diet rich in a variety of whole foods have been recognized as possibly anti-cancer due to the synergistic effects of antioxidants and phytochemicals common is whole foods.
                       A focus on whole foods offers three main benefits: they provide greater nutrition for being a source of more complex micronutrients, they provide essential dietary fiber and they provide naturally occurring protective substances, such as phytochemicals.
         You  may be staying within your daily calorie allowance and even getting in your 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables but you may still be relying too much on highly processed foods.
         In general foods with really long shelf lives are the most highly processed foods. You have to wonder about the freshness and nutritive value of something with an expiration date 18 months from today! Yikes!
         I love Michael Pollan’s (I LOVE his book Food Rules) reminder that fried foods, pastries and even soda are treats and should be very occasional treats. He goes on to share that potatoes became America’s favorite vegetable only when the food industry did all the work of peeling, cutting and frying the potatoes—and cleaning up the mess. His theory is that if the only time we ate French fries was when we made them from scratch ourselves they would be the occasional treat they were intended to be. He purports that the same is true of fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies and ice cream. He advises to enjoy these treats as often as you are willing to prepare them yourself from scratch and he guesses that will not be daily.
         By now I’m sure you are worrying about what our weekly challenge is going to be and this is it:
         1. If you want the big challenge eat only pure whole foods this week supplemented by home made foods  (bread, crackers, ice-cream, protein bars etc.) you have made from scratch.
         2. If you are not up for that you can also earn the 5 daily bonus points if you set aside one meal a day that you eat ONLY whole foods. That’s right if you want a poached egg on toast you made the bread. If you want a garden salad with grilled chicken you grilled the chicken and made the salad dressing from wholesome ingredients. And while there are easy options (a smoothie made out of whole fruits and vegetables, scrambled eggs with fresh herbs and veggies etc.) I want you to notice and be mindful of what whole, fresh, healthy foods taste like so that you will make them a bigger part of your daily diet.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Think, talk and BE Positive!

         I don’t know about you but I can be a real grumbler. And the grumblier I feel and the more I actually grumble the worst it all seems.
         On the other hand there is incredible power in positive thoughts, positive self talk and positive comments. About 10 years ago I trained for and completed a marathon with my oldest daughter . One of the tools I used in the weeks of demanding training runs was positive affirmations. I would notice myself start to think “Oh I’m so tired. I haven’t run yet today. I need to do ____ miles. Oh I am dreading it. Oh it is going to be so hard. Oh maybe I can skip tonight.” And I would stop those thought right in their tracks and replace them with some made up thoughts that honestly weren’t coming from my heart. “Oh I haven’t run today. I can’t wait until I get to run. It’s going to be so rejuvenating. I am going to love it!”
         I know that sounds a little whacky but after continually halting the negative thought and replacing it with a pretend positive thought I actually began to bend my own thinking. I really did start to look forward to and think positively about my training runs.
         You too can use positive daily affirmations to direct your thoughts, focus and beliefs. You can conquer your past and present fears, more thoroughly enjoy your present and create a wonderful future by harnessing the power of positive affirmations. Affirmations can redirect your values, help formulate your goals and prepare you for a variety of challenging situations.
         In general you can say your positive daily affirmations silently or aloud to yourself. For our weekly challenge however we are going to be saying them out loud with enthusiasm. I would like you to write your affirmations on a card ─ and carry it in your pocket, tape it to a mirror, or place it somewhere where it is always visible to you. Repeat your positive affirmations at intervals throughout your day, to reinforce the positive belief and to maintain a positive state of mind.
         You should state your positive daily affirmations in the present tense, that is, use "I am..." rather than "I will be..." Saying things in the present tense will program your subconscious mind to believe that what you affirm is already fact. When the subconscious believes that, it will start arranging for bringing what you affirm to you. In other words, the subconscious will drive you to perform the actions needed to live out what you affirm; and, acting thus, you will create the circumstances that make them actually happen for you.
         Another important guideline in formulating your affirmations is to write them in the positive state. Many people have the tendency to write affirmations in the negative state (ie: I am not going to pig out on candy anymore!) ─ which immediately defeats the purpose and the effectiveness of the affirmation. Affirmations written from the negative perspective will never work.

To earn your daily 5 bonus points this coming week you must write at least 3 positive affirmations, place them somewhere that you will see them often and repeat them out loud and with enthusiasm several times each day throughout the day (Do not forget all day and then blurt them out 10 times before jumping in bed!)
A few ideas for positive affirmations :
1. I love to exercise! Moving my body relieves my stress, calms my mind and is just plain fun.
2. I love fruits and vegetables. I notice when I eat them I feel full of energy and life. They are my favorite treat.
3. I am in control of my health and wellness.
4. I have abundant energy, vitality and well-being.
5. I am always able to maintain my ideal weight of _______.
6. I radiate good health.
7. I sleep soundly and peacefully.
8. I have abundant energy, vitality and well-being.
9. The more I honor my health and body the better I feel.
10. I love clear clean water. It is my favorite drink and I love sipping it all day long.
11. I am a sweet treat gourmet. I love waiting and planning all week for one special dessert.
12. I am a record keeper. I enjoy writing down my exercise and meals. It reminds me I control the destiny of my health.
Please feel free to share your positive affirmations in the comment area of this blog. And have a positive week!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

First you plan, then you record.... then you eat!

One of the most effective strategies for losing weight and sticking to your diet is to plan ahead. I’m sure some of us have had that disappointing experience of finally sitting down to enter what you’ve eaten that day into only to discover you ate more than your allotted points without realizing it or meaning to.

There are some things you can do to better pre-plan and even pre-enter what you are going to eat.

Establish a routine and record your food BEFORE you eat
1.  Most people have success when they reduce the number of food choices they have instead of having too many choices. For example, you may want to have two or three choices that you often eat for breakfast or lunch.
2. Entering your food choices into myfitnesspal BEFORE you eat them seems to enable healthier eating.
3. Have any of you used the Quick tools link when entering what you’ve eaten each day on To do so go to your food diary page and right next to Add Food you will see Quick Tools. This gives you the option to REMEMBER A MEAL (which means it will show up in the future under the My Meals tab and you can add the entire meal to your daily diary with one click)
4. Note quick tools also allows you to copy meals or what you’ve eaten over an entire past day as an entry for today.
5. Have you used the “My Foods” Tab? This tab displays the foods that you have added to the general food database. Whenever you partake of locally produced, homemade or unusual foods and add them into the data base it save the information you have shared under this tab for your future easy use
6. Have you used the Myrecipe feature (I love this one)? This recipe feature allows you to list multiple ingredients, so that MyFitnessPal can automatically calculate the correct number of calories and nutrients in your recipe. These recipes you enter will be saved under the my recipes tab so that you can easily click on them when filling out your daily food diary.
7. All of these tools can make the daily pre-planning of what you eat each day easier. Why not sit down in a relaxed spot either the evening before or morning of a new day and plan out what you are going to eat all day? This allows you to see the day as a whole and to make sure you are picking a good variety of healthy foods.

Don’t choose your meal off the menu. If you’re planning to go out to dinner go on-line BEFORE you get to the restaurant to choose what you will order. In many cases the caloric information is available on If not they are often able to be found on the restaurants website or by googling. Worst case scenario you find a similar sounding entre on’s data base to enter as you record what you will eat at the restaurant before you actually go to the restaurant. This kind of planning before you even leave home can enable you to make an informed decision concerning what you are going to eat in a relaxed setting and before you even leave the house.

Satisfying Snacks. Make sure that you have access to healthy snacks at all times. One of the disappointing things that can happen when you’re dieting is that you get extremely hungry and your low blood sugar leads you to eat too much of foods that are not good for you. A sparkling clean refrigerater filled with pre-washed (and sometimes pre-sliced) fruit and vegetables along with some low calorie dips placed front and center invites  good food choices.  Keeping some healthy nuts, dried fruit, or even a granola bar in your purse so that you’ll always have something to keep you from getting excessively hungry is another good strategy. And be aware of places along your daily route that sell healthy snacks. Not sure if you have WAWA gas stations where you live but I finally checked one out the other day and was SHOCKED by the many healthy low calorie fresh snacks they offer. It’s awesome.

Use the freezer. If you don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking, try cooking large portions of your favorite healthy foods and freezing them to eat later. Then you can just pop a serving out of the freezer and heat it up when you’re too tired or busy to start from scratch.

Premeasure Special Treats I have a few special treats (dried fruit, nuts etc.) That are so yummy that I don’t even want my hand going in and out of the bag—the only safe way to eat these are if I pre-weigh or pre-measure. I often bring the bag home from the grocery store- get out the scale (easier to “count” broken chips or crackers by weighing) and weigh and measure out individual portions. The food item then goes straight into the cupboard prepared for me to grab on the go.

Sunday & Wednesday Method. Set aside some time on Sundays and Wednesdays to chop, grate, mix, cook and pack whatever you can for your meals and snacks. It’s amazing how even doing something simple, like chopping vegetables for your scrambled eggs, can save you time during the week and inspire healthy eating.
A little pre-planning can save you time and energy. More importantly it can help you to reach your weight loss goals quickly!

Your challenge for the week is to make greater efforts to pre-plan what you are going to eat. Please experiment with some of the tools on And to earn the 5 bonus points each day you must
1. Make a great effort to pre-plan everything you will eat the evening before or in the early morning of each day. Make a plan for the entire day of what you will eat and drink—including snacks and before you eat it enter it into
2. If you are absolutely too swamped to write down the entire day worth of meals ahead of time at least make sure that you don’t put one bite in your mouth until you have first entered it into