Detox Cleanse – Day Three – Fini! Next Challenge???

happy girlHurray! I just downed the last of my smoothie meals for the 3-Day Detox Cleanse.   When I wake in the morning, I’ll determine whether or not this challenge was beneficial; examining the pros and cons.

With all the extra fruits and vegetables I have on hand since my hubby declined to continue the program with me past the 1st breakfast, I’ll have to think of good recipes to use them up or freeze them.  It REALLY bothers me to waste food, so it’s time to be creative!

This cleanse was part of spring cleaning my health.   I’m still tackling chores in the household, outside and within. 

Winter wreaks havoc on the skin, especially for those who live in cold climates. To get my skin in shape for the warmer weather, I’ve been exfoliating and using body cream to keep it smooth and hydrated.  Lotions are fine to use for everyday hydration at other times of the year, but in the winter especially, body creams and butters work best at keeping the skin moist and smooth. 

It’s best to use body creams when the skin is still moist, after stepping out of the bath or shower and lightly towel drying.   Moist skin helps absorb the creams and lotions better.  Some of my favorites are:

For the Face:     Neutrogena

Neutrogena facial moisturizer

For the Body:   Mango Body Butter and Shea Cashmere Lotion

Mango body buttershea cashmere

foot cream

For the Feet:   Shea It Isn’t So

On that note, I think I’m off to a nice warm bath and then some more pampering!

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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caleb smith park“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” ― Henry David Thoreau
 
It’s been an uphill climb since my last post having succumbed to some serious back pain, specifically sciatica, for the past month.  So much for beginning my anticipated fitness and nutrition plan for the New Year.  On a positive note, I’m on the mend thanks to some valuable advice I received from experts in back therapy – without having to make a trip to the chiropractor…yet.  In my case, the key to healing was performing light aerobics coupled with gentle stretching. 
 
Armed with a medium weight resistance band and 5 lb. weights, I’m developing my own program incorporating the following exercises.  Before beginning any exercise routine, check with your physician first, which I did.  Second, do not push yourself to do more repetitions, lift greater weights or use more resistance than your body can comfortably tolerate.  To do so would stress the body and increase the likelihood of another injury.
 
sciaticaPain in the lower back may be caused by a number of ailments such as sciatica, lumbar herniated disc or spinal stenosis.  Be sure to obtain the correct diagnosis from your doctor.  Physical therapists and chiropractors alike agree that extension exercises or press-ups are beneficial for easing sciatica pain in the back of the legs and lower back.
 
 
The following extension/press-up exercises, recommended by Ron S. Miller, PT for Spine-Health.com, have been successful in helping ease my pain which at times, felt like someone was holding a branding iron on my lower back.

beginning liftLie on stomach (prone position), gently bring arms up – elbows on the floor, hands flat down in front.  Be sure to keep hips on the floor.

Hold position for 5 seconds at first.  Try and work up to 30 seconds per repetition with a goal of 10 repetitions.  Remember to start slowly at first to avoid injury.

When able to comfortably complete this exercise without feeling increased pain, move on to the next one.

chest lift2Once again, lie on stomach (prone position), gently lift yourself up on your hands while keeping pelvis on floor.  Be sure to keep back and hips relaxed, stretching gently.

Try and hold for 1-2 seconds then slowly lower yourself back to prone position.  Aim for 10 repetitions.

 

More advanced exercises are to strengthen the lower back muscles:

chest liftIn the prone position, clasp hands behind lower back and gently raise your head and chest, keeping eyes to the ground in front of you.  Remain low to the ground; do not try and arch up.

Hold position for 5 seconds, gradually working up to 20 seconds.  Your goal is 8-10 repetitions.

 

Another lower back strengthening exercise:

alternate lifts

In the prone position with head and chest on the floor, gently raise one arm and the opposite leg slowly off the floor.  With knee locked, raise leg about 2-3 inches off the floor and hold for 5 seconds.

Your goal is 8-10 repetitions.  As you feel stronger, try and hold position for up to 20 seconds.

Here are some strengthening exercises for your abdominal muscles which will also help to ease lower back pain:

Upper abdominal curl ups: 

upper absLie on back with knees bent, arms folded across chest and pelvis tilted to flatten back.  Curl up slowly, lifting the head and shoulders from the floor.  Hold for 2-4 seconds then gently lower back down to floor.  If necessary, place hands behind neck for support.

Your goal is 2 sets of 10 curls.

 

Lower abdominal exercises:

lower absLie on back, keeping hips on floor and raise one leg straight up 8-12 inches from the floor.  Hold for 8-10 seconds then slowly lower leg to floor.   Repeat with other leg.  If necessary, place hand under hip for support. 

Your goal is 2 sets of 10 lifts.

 

 

redhead cartoon

 In addition to the above exercises, walking, gentle aerobics and water exercises are a great way to ease lower back pain.  Again, it is imperative to contact your doctor for a diagnosis and approval of any exercise program prior to starting.  The exercises in this post are gradually helping relieve my back pain (sciatica).  I hope they will benefit you as well.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On! – Turbo Cardio Day 3

PainWhen the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~ Author Unknown

The past two days of workouts have been quite challenging. Damn change-ups; I’m used to 4-8 repetitions at a time, not every other move. I’d like to set up an old laptop with a webcam to record my workouts. This way I can see my form (insert joke…now!). While I take the exercise and nutritional part of this program seriously, I won’t fool myself into believing I’ll look anything like Chalene Johnson after 90 days of Turbo Fire. I’m a strawberry blonde, after all, with a few more years under my belt!

Don’t worry, you’ll see my video soon. I took a photo prior to starting this intensive cardio plan but will not be posting it until after I complete the full 90 day workout. At that time, I’ll post the “before” and “after” photos. It seems that’s what most people do. Side by side, I can examine the results of my efforts, provided I’m still standing by then.

As far as meals go, I haven’t really changed them in the past few days except for dinner. The other day I made a large turkey for dinner, froze most of it for future meals (soups, warm salads, low-fat casseroles) and that’s what I made last night. I served the turkey over rice with a little gravy for my family with some stuffing and vegetables while I ate it plain with just vegetables.  Tonight it was flank steak. 

Fitness Pal (2)

The “Fitness Pal” gives you an idea of the type of entries I’ve been making daily.

What a huge change from the previous Sculpt and Tone video I used for weeks. They don’t even compare. I have to have a new mindset and new moves for this type of workout. Thankfully, I’m practicing now before I begin my official 90-day program on Monday. BABY STEPS….’cause I can’t keep up…yet.

In the meantime, here are some healthy snacks ideas to help satisfy and energize during the day. Choose to stick with snacks that are about 100 to 200 calories with 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates. Try these healthy options.

Salty Snacks
Kale Chips1. Cheesy kale chips Tear kale leaves into large pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil and bake in a 350°F oven until crisp. While still
warm, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

2. Tamari-seasoned rice crackers A salt lover’s best choice for scooping up low-fat tuna salad or another healthy dip; punch them up with a squeeze of chili sauce. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of crackers.)

3. Mediterranean artichoke hearts Drain canned artichoke hearts and sprinkle
with lemon zest, capers, chopped fresh basil, and olive oil.

Pumpkin Seeds4. Five-spice pumpkin seeds
 Toss salted pumpkin seeds with sesame oil and Chinese five-spice powder; bake at 350°F until crisp.

5. Buffalo popcorn
 Toss air-popped popcorn with olive oil, chili powder, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

6. Spicy wheat pretzels
 Whole wheat pretzels (which boast 4 grams of fiber
compared with 1 gram in the regular kind) become irresistible when slathered
with spicy mustard (only 5 calories per teaspoon). Add a couple of low-fat
cheese cubes to make this snack extra filling.

Crunchy Snacks
Chickpea Poppers7. Chickpea poppers Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, then dry them with a paper towel. Spritz with extra-virgin olive oil, season with dried oregano and garlic alt, and roast at 400°F until crisp.

8. Veggie chips with tangy yogurt Dunk root veggie chips (such as Terra chips) nto plain low-fat yogurt seasoned with hot sauce and orange zest.

9. Cheesy dip Dunk sugar snap peas into 1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese.

10. Easy salsa Chop up tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, beans, and onions in a
mini food processor, then scoop on melba toast.

11. Tangy pear boats Fill endive spears with chopped pears and season with a
dash of balsamic vinegar. Add 12 almonds for extra crunch and some heart-healthy
unsaturated fat.

12. Veggie yogurt dip Combine finely chopped broccoli, multicolored bell
peppers, and scallions with fat-free Greek yogurt and onion flakes. Use it as a
dip for baby carrots.

Sweet Snacks
Cottage Cheese Fruit13. Fruity cottage cheese Fold chopped ripe nectarines into low-fat cottage heese, and spoon onto a couple of gingersnaps. (Read the label to make sure you tick to a single serving of gingersnaps.)

14. Chocolaty pears Minimalist, yet amazingly delicious: Sprinkle cocoa nibs on canned pears.

15. Sweet yogurt dip Stir a little diet maple syrup or agave nectar into fat-free Greek yogurt, and dunk slices of apples or pears.

Fruit Kebabs16. Fruit kebabs. Spear the sweetest fruits—strawberries, mango, grapes, and pineapple – with bamboo skewers.

17. “Banana cream pie” Spread graham crackers with vanilla fat-free Greek  yogurt, then top with a handful of banana slices and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of graham crackers.)

18. Grapefruit brûlée Transform a simple grapefruit into something decadent: Halve it; drizzle each half with a little dark honey (use concentrated sweets sparingly), and broil until bubbly.

Creamy Snacks
Mashed sweet potatoes19. Easy mashed sweet potato Microwave a small sweet potato, split it open, and mash a little OJ and cinnamon into it. Eat it right out of the jacket.

20. White bean dip Mash canned white beans with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary. Pile onto radicchio or lettuce leaves.

21. Creamy pita Spread baba ghanoush, crushed avocado, or hummus on a whole wheat pita or whole wheat English muffin.

Scrambled Eggs22. Soft-scrambled egg It’s the most sublimely simple protein-packed treat.

23. Spicy potatoes Baby red potatoes become blissfully soft when you microwave them for 3 to 5 minutes (leave the skin on for its nutrients). Sprinkle with pepper and dried seasonings. Add a pat of Greek yogurt for a healthy sour cream replacement.

24. Italian antipasto Raid the supermarket antipasto bar for some lusciously creamy slow-roasted red peppers. Pat the oil off with a paper towel, and eat with a mini bocconcini or two. Delizioso!

(Thank you Readers Digest and Thinkstock for the wonderful snack tips and photos!)

Surviving Intense Cardio – Turbo Fire-Day 1

“Endurance is patience concentrated.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

turbofire into the pit

Today I began my metamorphosis – from a slightly round to what I hope will be a slimmer, firmer woman, full of more energy than I’ll know what to do with! This afternoon I attempted my first Turbo Fire workout. Here’s what it should have looked like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Um-IViGL6M

In actuality, I’m surprised I made it through alive! Really though, it’s a challenging workout not only because of all the jumping, punching and twisting, but the sequences change quickly, a little too quickly. I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was so I’m starting off this week, at least until Sunday, practicing only, according to the Class Schedule included with the program. I’ll begin my OFFICIAL workout, you know, the one that lasts the full 90 days, this coming Monday.

stretchingSorry, but the holidays threw me off course a little and I like to begin new things at the beginning, which will be MONDAY. Additionally, I’m taking a huge leap and recording my workouts for posterity, maybe uploading them to my YouTube account. Hopefully my sessions will be safe to upload, meaning my cursing won’t be audible and I don’t kill myself in the process. Trust me, for someone who spends too much time in front of the computer and not enough time “getting physical,” this workout is a killer!

I’m looking forward to seeing how tomorrow’s routine appears on video. Why, you ask? I’m a glutton for punishment. (I’ll post it here as well.) What I’m actually interested in is seeing my first days’ routines compared to my last few; my metamorphosis! Okay, maybe the difference won’t be that drastic but I certainly expect to see some change in appearance. Hopefully the change won’t include a leg cast or back brace.

Here are my meals for Day 1: They were a little different from the plan suggestions, but in line with the type of foods I will be eating on a regular basis. I’m using an online Fitness Tracker to record my meals, calories, exercise, measurements, etc. That’s almost a full-time job; wish I were getting paid for this semi-torture…

DAY 1

Breakfast:  Light Whole Grain English Muffin w/1 tsp. peanut butter, ½ banana
Snack 1:  6 walnut halves, 3 almonds, 4 oz. fat-free Greek yogurt
Lunch:  Salad w/romaine lettuce, celery and plum tomato, 4 oz. water packed tuna, drained, 2 Tbsp. fat-free dressing
Snack 2:  ½ banana, 2 oz. fat-free Greek yogurt
Dinner:  3 slices turkey breast, steamed broccoli w/lemon

I’m hungry; can’t deny it.  This too shall pass.  Can’t wait till my head hits the pillow tonight!

Beat the Holiday Bulge!

Holiday weight It seems to happen every holiday season.

You attend parties and office gatherings to share a few festive moments with family, friends, colleagues and lots and lots of food. But when the holiday season is finally over, the bathroom scale reveals that you’ve gained some weight again, much to your chagrin.

Research studies show most adults gain some weight over the holidays. But don’t despair because this year can be different.holiday fat (2)

“I recommend to my patients that they just try to keep their current weight, as opposed to focusing on losing weight,” says Julia Renee Zumpano, RD, LD, registered dietitian, Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation. “Even though it’s hard to resist temptations all around you, there are simple steps you can take that can keep the extra holiday pounds off.”

How can you try to maintain your weight and heart-health during such a tempting time? Thanks to the Cleveland Clinic, these guidelines will help you survive the holiday hoop-la – this season and in the future ones to come.  

1. Get moving

One of the most effective ways to maintain or lose body weight is to engage in regular, sustained aerobic activity (*).To burn off those extra calories, kick up your exercise. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day, increase it to 45 minutes. If you exercise three times a week, move it up to five times a week.

Exercise is a great way to burn those extra calories you may be taking in this time of year (remember those iced reindeer cookies you had with lunch?). Here are some ideas to get you moving:

  • If you have a stationery bicycle or treadmill at home, dust it off and put it in front of the television or radio for some background entertainment while you’re exercising. Why not watch your favorite television show and exercise at the same time?
  • Go to the library and get a book on tape or CD, listen to it and read (so-to-speak) as you exercise.
  • Haven’t used your gym-pass in awhile? Hire a personal trainer to teach you effective calorie-burning techniques, or join that kick boxing class you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Go for a morning or evening walk alone or with a friend.
  • Put a little kick in your cleaning technique. Fire up some music and dance while you clean. Who ever knew cleaning could be so fun?
  • Have bad knees or other joints? Don’t worry – water aerobics or swimming is your answer! The water prevents your weight bearing down on the joints and is an effective way to burn calories.

(*) If you haven’t exercised in at least 6-months, check with your doctor first before starting.

2. Aim for seven-a-day healthy holiday food (2)

Making sure you eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to help fill-up your stomach but not your calorie level. When compared to other snack foods like chips, crackers and cookies, gram for gram, fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories and tons more nutrients. What’s more – the fiber in fruits and vegetables fill you up faster than traditional snack foods. Pack your refrigerator with bags of cut-up vegetables and whole or cut-up fruits. Grab a bag while on the go or at work. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll eat your five-a-day before you snack on any cookies or other holiday treats. You’re sure to take in fewer calories overall.

3. Control the risk for temptation

Controlling even the slightest chance of coming in contact with ‘tempting’ foods is one way to effectively reduce your intake. While you won’t be able to control all situations, focus on the many ones you can. For example, do you keep candy or cookies at your desk or workspace? Do you frequent the dining room table or pantry where you store all your holiday goodies? Make a mental note of tempting places and try to control them. For example, make a pact with co-workers that goodies will be kept solely in the break room, not at the front desk or in various offices. Mentally plan out how you will avoid tempting situations. If you can’t avoid them entirely, see number 4.

4. Limit to one-a-day

While you can’t control every situation, you can control how much food goes into your mouth. If you are constantly bombarded with holiday parties and displays of desserts or candies you can still effectively help prevent overeating and weight gain. One way is the one-a-day method. Allow yourself one small serving of a cookie or piece of candy each day during the holiday season. Remember that you may have to compensate for it later in the day by reducing your total caloric intake or by burning a few extra calories while exercising. If you aren’t confronted with holiday foods that day, just skip your one-a-day – but don’t compensate and double-up on your serving the next day.

5. Always plan ahead – Never go to a party hungry

Before you go to a holiday party, eat a healthy snack such as a serving of your favorite fruit, fat-free yogurt or a low-fat, whole grain granola bar. When you arrive at the party, you won’t be craving hors d’oeuvres.

“If you’re going to a potluck dinner, bring a healthy dish to share such as a salad, veggie or fruit tray, or a low-fat pudding, Jell-O or fruit dessert,” says Zumpano. “That way, you’ll know you have at least one healthy item on the table spread.”

6. Be in charge of your party choices:

  • Small plate, please
    Be wise when choosing appetizers – a small portion of some appetizers may help you from overeating at dinner.
    “Pick up a small plate, and stick with vegetables, but limit or avoid the creamy dips,” advises Zumpano. “Restrict your intake of butter crackers, chips, cheese and meats. If you must have a deep-fried appetizer, eat only one small serving. Never go back for seconds. For dinner, fill half of your plate with salad and vegetables, one quarter with meat, and the final quarter with starch,” Zumpano says.
  • Avoid the sauce
    Avoid sauces made from cream, half-and-half or meat drippings. For salads, use oil and vinegar, vinaigrette or low-fat dressings. Broth -based or vegetable sauces are fine.
  • What about desserts?
    The best low-calorie choices are fruit, Jell-O, pudding, an unfrosted mini muffin, shortbread cookies, ginger snaps or angel food cake. If you must have a dessert with frosting, butter cream, cream cheese, or chocolate chips, limit yourself to one small cookie or one thin slice of cake.
  • Watch the drinks
    “Besides restricting your alcohol to one or two servings, you also need to restrict the type of alcohol,” says Zumpano. “For example, instead of high-fat eggnog, have a light beer or wine. After that, stick with calorie-free drinks such as water, unsweetened ice tea, hot tea or coffee.”

7. Say No Politely

Many times you feel forced to eat foods because people keep putting it in front of you. Learn to say no politely, such as “No thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything was delicious”, or “I couldn’t eat another bite. Everything tasted wonderful”. You’ll find saying no isn’t so hard to do after all.

8. Focus on socializing

Don’t stand around the food table when you are at a party – focus your energies on making conversation with others instead of focusing on foods. Conversation is calorie-free.

*9. Take a healthy snack with you while shopping

If you spend a lot of time shopping, away from home, you’re sure to encounter hunger pangs during the day.  Bring a water bottle and healthy snacks with you while you shop such as walnuts, almonds, dried sugar-free fruit, veggie sticks, etc.  With something to nibble on while shopping, you might find it easier to avoid fast-food temptations at the food courts or elsewhere.

*my own personal recommendation!  Helps me pass by my two mall  favorites…Starbucks and Cinnabon!

holiday bulge (2)Remember, the holidays are meant to celebrate good times with family and friends. Enjoy the holidays and plan effective strategies to help you achieve your weight loss goals. Achieving what you sought out for will give you one more good reason for holiday cheer! Happy Holidays!

Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic 2009

“There is no rest for the weary .” Prov

Another of my father’s favorite quotes…

It’s November; the weather was unusually mild and Thanksgiving is only 11 days away.  What happened to August?  It seems as though yesterday we were driving our daughter to college and now I’m scheduling her trip home for the winter holidays.  Did the days always fly by this quickly or am I only beginning to notice it as I grow older?

The phrase “grow older” doesn’t agree with me.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m still in my early thirties raring to go.  Actually, when I was about 42, I was in the best shape of my life; lean and mean.  I am trying to stay on the right path as far as nutrition and physical exercise are concerned but now it seems like such a chore.  What happened to all the fun I used to have raking leaves, shoveling show, trimming shrubs and bushes, painting, decorating and cleaning?  I suppose I’m in a new life cycle, or so I’ve heard.

Today was a busy one for me, which is always a good thing.  While my husband was cleaning up debris from the yard and blowing leaves, I helped by clearing out our pond, trimming bushes and cleaning up the flower beds.  When I paused to prepare lunch, I decided I’d bring all the Halloween storage bins that had yet to be put away, back up into the attic by myself.  It wasn’t that I minded so much, lifting all the boxes up the narrow stairs to the attic, what concerned me was I felt I had no arm strength.  This was the first time I ever felt weak and I didn’t like it.

I can still lift the 42 lb. package of cat litter fairly easily.  I carried the heavy Halloween props in and out of the house and onto the lawn by myself.  Yet I had trouble lifting the boxes up into the attic.  It occurred to me that I need to incorporate a lot more strength training in my workout routine.

After the boxes were stacked in the attic, I figured, since I was already up there, I may as well bring down some Christmas lighting.  The weather was calm and my Christmas decorating usually begins in a couple of weeks anyway, so what the heck.  I managed to put up several strands of lights around our garage and a couple of trees as well as assemble our outdoor music light show.  All the lights worked however I won’t be turning any of them on until the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It felt good to get some of them up before the colder weather sets in.

Between doing yard work, decorating and cleaning, I feel I got a lot accomplished today.  The first day of my Low Cholesterol meal plan is going well:  ½ Grapefruit, ½ English muffin with lowfat spread and tea for breakfast, lowfat yogurt, banana and walnuts for lunch and a large salad with 2 hardboiled egg whites and lowfat dressing for dinner was pretty satisfying.  My husband had somewhat more substantial meals today: Oatmeal w/skim milk, yogurt, melon, turkey sandwich, baked flounder with LF/LC dressing, brown rice and green beans were on his menu.  Not too bad for the first day. 

The box-lifting incident motivated me and I think I’ll change up my exercise routine tomorrow.  I still can’t believe Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas right on its tail.  There is still so much work I would like to finish before mid-December including the traditional decorating, baking, shopping, gift wrapping and writing cards.  I’d really like to have the foyer painted before my daughter comes home to make it more welcoming.  I just wish sometimes, there were more than 24 hours in a day. 

I have to say that I am satisfied with what I accomplished today.  It’s now time to relax for the remainder of the evening.  Fuzzy slippers, green tea and two soft furballs on my lap sounds like a plan.  I am surely blessed.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” ~ Ovid

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish ~ Antoine de Saint Exupery

First, I’d like to apologize to any readers who may have noticed I’ve been somewhat sidetracked lately.  This blog is about living life to its full potential.  Occasionally other passions put me off target.  Having said that, I’m back to writing about things in my life which I have limited control over but are important to me: love, family, good health, proper nutrition and exercise, fond memories, good friends, spirituality, adventure and community.

 Notice I did not mention weather.  We were hit with another Nor’easter today; however it’s not nearly as bad as the hurricane was.  Our first snow fell this afternoon and actually the sight of white snow blanketing our green lawn and orange pumpkins was quite pretty.  Pretty does not mean I want it to linger; I hope it will melt soon.

Now back to concentrating on the next meal plan I’m going to tackle.  I’ve done quite a bit of research and found a site (U.S. World and News Report) that summarizes some of the best plans to date.  I’ve decided to try the TLC Plan (#2).  Notice the numbers at the end of each diet indicating whether or not people found the plan to be effective.  Of the first ten diets, only three, 2 Vegetarian and Weight Watchers, had more positive feedback than the others.

 The remaining 15 on the list, which I am not illustrating here, were:

  • Eco-Atkins Diet                      Abs Diet
  • Flat Belly Diet                         Medifast
  • Jenny Craig                             Nutrisystem
  • Macrobiotic Diet                    Glycemic Index Diet
  • South Beach Diet                   Atkins Diet
  • Raw Food Diet                        Paleo Diet
  • Slim-Fast Diet                        Dukan Diet
  • Zone Diet

The challenge for me is finding a plan I believe I can stick with.  If I have to avoid a certain type of food that I’ve enjoyed all my life, it will only make me crave it more.  That’s part of my addictive personality I suppose.  Of more concern is trying to find a plan which my husband can manage, as he needs to keep his cholesterol under control.  As it is, convincing him to eat more fruits and vegetables will be no easy task.

Here is an overview of the TLC Diet:

  • Type: Low-fat.
  • The aim: Cutting high cholesterol.
  • The claim: You’ll lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent in six weeks.
  • The theory: Created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC) is endorsed by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy regimen that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cutting back sharply on fat, particularly saturated fat, (think fatty meat, whole-milk dairy, and fried foods), strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, can help people manage high cholesterol, often without medication.

Our goals are to both lower LDL and lose weight.  Therefore, I’m planning daily caloric intake of approximately 1,800-2,000 for my husband and 1,200-1,300 for me.  Saturated fat intake will be less than 7 percent of daily calories and no more than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day.  On TLC, we’ll be eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish, and skinless poultry.  I’ll be working with a dietitian to formulate daily meals that are feasible for our lifestyles as well as working in an appropriate exercise schedule we both can enjoy.

The goal is to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 8-10 percent and lose between 10-20 lbs. within six weeks.  At least with this plan, we’re in it together.  I won’t have to prepare separate meals all the time.  My biggest challenge is being creative; incorporating fruits and vegetables into meals without being obvious. 

I have a few more days to prepare my meals and get ready to begin anew on Sunday.  Thank goodness for whiteboards; they’ll come in handy to chart daily meals and weight loss.  I’m looking forward to engaging in another plan which will help encourage healthy eating and physical exercise.  Time to get out the ball, band and weights again!  Just as long as I don’t have to get out the shovel…yet.

“To lengthen your life, shorten your meals.” ~ Proverb

What Not to Eat After a Workout

Here I am on Day 5 of my Gluten-Free meal plan.  Aside from going through bread-withdrawal, I imagine I’m doing okay overall.  Weigh-in is on Monday morning and even with the exercise, I don’t feel much has changed.  However, I’m hopeful that if I keep it up, something is bound to make a difference, one way or another.

I came across an interesting article today about what NOT to eat after a workout.  That thought never really crossed my mind.  After reading what Dina Aronson, RD had to say on Ivillage.com about this topic, I thought I’d summarize her findings.  Too bad my workouts aren’t strenuous enough to break a sweat; at least not for the time being.  Maybe I’m not pushing myself enough.  I’ll add a few extra reps or minutes with the jump rope tomorrow.  For now, here are a few pointers:

Foods to Avoid after a Workout

High-Sugar Energy Bars.  They may cause a spike in blood sugar.  Try low-fat yogurt with fruit instead.

Raw vegetables.  They aren’t substantial enough to help your muscles recover, keep your metabolism active or maintain energy levels.  If you want to snack on them, eat with hummus or yogurt dip.

Cheese is usually processed and high in saturated fat.  An alternative would be cheese-flavored soy chips.

Soda and fruit drinks.  Need I say more; may as well drink battery acid.  Sugar spikes blood levels and artificial sweeteners trick the body into craving more sugar.  Try iced herbal tea or water with fresh lemon or lime for a refreshing drink.

Salty snacks disrupt the body’s water/salt balance.  Low-sodium baked chips would be a better substitute.

Bread.  Here we go.  I didn’t even want to mention it.  I’m such a bread addict, it kills me not to be able to have it.  Bread has starch that quickly turns to sugar.  Choose a nutrient packed whole grain tortilla or bread slice with a little nut butter and a few banana slices instead.  Gluten-free choices are also available from health food stores.

Pizza.  Again, similar to bread dough, pizza has too much saturated fat and salt, not to mention white flour with little nutrition.  Try half a whole grain English muffin or pita with some sautéed veggies and a sprinkle of low-sodium cheese.  I’ll pass on gluten-free brands because they’re packed with additives and sugar as well as being expensive.

Candy or Chocolate.  We all know candy elevates blood sugar levels after a workout.  If you crave chocolate, have a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of skim chocolate milk (regular or almond).

Cereal.  Again, some contain too much sugar.  Substitute 1/4 cup low-sugar granola with fruit and nuts; no-sugar-added trail mix with 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk; or a 1/2 serving of unsweetened plain cereal, like shredded wheat or Grape Nuts.  I’ll skip all together for now.

Doughnuts and Pastries.  I know, but these were also on the list of foods to avoid, like we wouldn’t know that!  They’re high in saturated fat and sugar.  Try whole-wheat toast and peanut butter instead.

Pancakes.  Old fashioned ones sure taste great but between the white flour and typical toppings of syrup, butter and powdered sugar, fuggetaboutit!  Go for whole- grain, oatmeal or buckwheat pancakes toppings like bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, or toast a whole-grain frozen waffle served with nut butter and a few banana slices.  Again, there are gluten-free varieties but one needs to be careful for an overload of additives.

Fried eggs.  Anything fried contains too much saturated fat.  Try boiled eggs (I keep several hard boiled on hand in my fridge regularly) or an egg-white omelet with a few chopped veggies (sans butter) instead.

French fries.  Sounds counterproductive to exercise and then have French fries.  But they are a weakness of mine.  Thinking “grease” will make you change your mind.  Half a baked white or sweet potato with a tiny scoop of black beans and salsa would be a better choice.

Smoothies.   I love smoothies, especially after working out.  However, you’ll need to replace juice with skim or low-fat milk, regular or almond, some frozen berries or ½ banana with a small handful of walnuts, cashews, almonds or unsalted pistachios.  Blend well.

Bacon & Other Processed Meats.  These can be linked with the other foods high in salt and saturated fat. Try a fresh turkey or chicken wrap either in lettuce leaves or in a whole grain pita with tomatoes and a little seasoning.  Stay away from cold cuts or processed meat though.

After putting all the effort into maximizing a workout session, the last thing you would want to do is replace all the calories you just burned with unhealthy food.  Although it didn’t sound like I had many options, most of the above foods are readily available in my refrigerator and pantry.  I spent almost $20 more on my grocery bill last week from purchasing specific gluten-free products which seem to be extremely overpriced. 

Sixteen days remain.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Now, if I could only have just one OREO cookie!

In the Beginning – My 3-Week Gluten-Free Experiment – Day 1

As I stated in previous posts, I am formulating a new meal/exercise plan based on my uniqueness; age, gender, physical health and ability, time, motivation, finances (yes, that’s important too) and future goals.  When most people decide to “go on a diet,” most of the previous considerations are not taken into account. 

With the thousands of “diets” on the market, I have not yet come across one which targets anything resembling a personal experience.  You’ll find plenty of plans for those with common medical conditions such as high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, celiac disease, lactose-intolerance, asthma or diabetes but none of them address the entire individual.  I’m proposing to address physical, medical, mental and emotional conditions simultaneously.  Since I’ve experienced occasional digestive problems for quite a while, I’m initially choosing a Gluten-Free approach to evaluate for several weeks.  

I’m not currently able to splurge on a gym membership so I’ll be starting my exercise regimen at home; with hand weights, jump rope, hula hoop, exercise band and workout video.  I had to laugh when I pulled out my selection of videos to determine which one I was going to use.  Three of the four were in VHS format from the late 80’s.  I cringe when I think I used to work out in coordinating leotards, tights and legwarmers.  The sad part is that they are making a comeback!  

I will be following the Biggest Loser series first.  Who knows, maybe I can sell the others on eBay.  The video begins with a 30-minute basic sculpting workout.  It offers two additional levels of intensity to add at your own pace.  I’m augmenting that program with two 15-minute routines using either the jump rope, hula hoop or exercise band throughout the day.  Motivation will be the most challenging part.  Hopefully, my determination and perseverance will overcome procrastination on the days I just don’t feel like moving too much.  I know I’m not alone in those occasional moments. 

Next is the cost factor of new ingredients I’ll need to purchase which I don’t normally stock such as dried beans and legumes (peas, green beans, edamame, etc.), rice pasta, quinoa, gluten-free baking products, condiments and canned items (which can be pricey).  I’ll incorporate these with the typically gluten-free foods I keep on hand such as dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables.  The most important factor in selecting gluten-free foods is to have a plan that incorporates the necessary amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats on a daily basis. 

Having just returned from a six-day trip in the wee hours of the morning, I wasn’t feeling overly enthusiastic though I managed an exercise session.  Fortunately, after scouring the refrigerator for permissible foods without having to run to the grocery store, I was pleased to find I had enough items on hand for the moment.  My meals for the day consisted of yogurt, walnuts, fresh fruits & vegetables, eggs and ground turkey. Two of my favorites were the smoothie and turkey burger (minus the bun).  I’ll still need to shop for fresh produce and lean meats along with some pantry items so that I’m not left salivating over at all the prohibited foods that reside in my cabinets.  After all, I’m the only one on this gluten-free plan and don’t expect my family to suffer through this process with me, at least not for the time being.  I’d have a mutiny on my hands.

Sifting through the myriad of gluten-free related articles and blogs I discovered online, I spotted a post which I found amusing and a bit ominous.   After their name, the person included the following:

  • Born and raised in OR; Currently living in UT
  • Gluten-free since June 2006
  • Also living with Hypoglycemia since 1991
  • Dairy-free for good since summer 2008
  • Started IBS diet and probiotics at GI’s recommendation – Fall 2008
  • Also avoiding: potatoes, beans, crucifers, popcorn, most red meat, coconut milk 😦
  • Started eating a Paleo diet Spring 2011. Love it

At first I wondered what the heck this person ate during the day.  Then I realized I am among friends of a feather and certainly not alone in my endeavor.  On a separate page, most likely in the next day or so, I will be posting a feasible weekly meal plan I can live with and summarize my results at the end of each week.  Daily postings would be boring.  Believe it or not, my stomach still feels heavy even without having consumed wheat today.   I realize I’m looking for instant gratification.  Yes, I’m a bit impatient but excited nonetheless.  This journey is definitely going to take some serious resolve.  Here we go! 

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Whose Body is That and Why is it Wearing My Head?

It was almost two years ago that I took a straightforward review of my naked body in the mirror.  Weird, I know.  It looked okay then; maybe just a little bit larger than it was the last time I checked; and when was that?   Probably the last time I went away on vacation: 

to a lake house, with my family, where I wore a bathing suit…in 200? 

The fact is, I don’t spend loads of time checking out my body in the mirror.  Usually I find just enough time each morning to shower, fix my hair and make-up, put on some clean clothes and begin my day.  So imagine my surprise when I decided to do an accurate assessment of my body recently.  Something(s) changed over the past few years (biggest hint… my clothes weren’t fitting properly) and I wasn’t pleased.

Fortunately, I’ve always been interested in the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise.  Those are the core ingredients of longevity.   However, as we mature (which sounds nicer than “age”), our bodies go through a series of changes.  These are inevitable.  Not even Joan Rivers can deny that fact.  My focus is on what changes need to be made and how I plan to accomplish these changes.  I’ll start by affirming that everyone is different and no diet or exercise plan is right for each person.  In addition, physical ability, medical condition, environment, emotional health and even financial position are issues that must be carefully examined prior to selecting an appropriate plan if one is to achieve long lasting success. 

It took me a decade to be where I am today; and I dutifully earned every spot and wrinkle that may appear to the naked eye.  The changes that took place within me did so gradually so I can’t expect a miracle overnight.  I needed to assess a few things before embarking on this journey into developing a method of making a committed change; similar to the “Biggest Loser” but without all the drama and fleeting fame and fortune attached.   Personally, I want to lose about 15 lbs. and tighten/strengthen my muscles.  But these pounds have been difficult to lose so far and I’m currently unable and unwilling to spend money on a gym membership.

I researched countless diets, meal plans, online programs and the like for a long time and have found all these plans to be lacking in certain areas.  Very few of them are individualized.  It may be well to divide people into categories for age and health conditions which the majority of programs do but that leaves out some crucial factors that, without given proper consideration, puts followers at a disadvantage.

I subscribe to numerous newsletters regarding this subject however I did not expect to discover the massive amount of propaganda marketed to the public.  On one site alone (I won’t mention the publisher), they had 210 books, journals and DVD’s, in their media repertoire.  Here are only a few of the titles I found:

  •  Big Book of 15 minute workouts
  • The Belly Melt Diet
  • Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight
  • Slim Calm Sexy Diet
  • Turn Up Your Fat Burn
  • Grill This Not That
  • The 17 Day Diet Expanded Edition
  • The Vitamin D Diet
  • The Carb Sensitivity Program
  • Eat This, Not That! 2013
  • Cook Yourself Sexy
  • 7 Day Slim Down
  • The Hunger Fix
  • Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight Journal
  • The Paleo Diet for Athletes
  • The New! Abs Diet for Men
  • 400 Calorie Fix
  • Walk Off Weight
  • Turn Up Your Fat Burn
  • Flat Belly Diet
  • And so on – 210 total!
  • LL Cool J Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle

The Diet Detective’s All-American Diet offers a “Build-A-Meal” approach to selecting food from supermarkets and restaurants and they say, “It’s that simple: Readers can simply go to the supermarket and start shedding pounds.”  https://www.rodalestore.com/weight-loss/the-diet-detective-s-all-american-diet.html  Wow, what a statement!  Can you imagine the overload sifting through the remaining titles?

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating boycotting these diet plans, I’m only cautioning you to take a good, hard look at YOU; your age, health condition, exercise motivation, occupation, family background, financial position and the like.  There is so much more to achieving health and fitness success than following directions in a book.  Plus, what the heck fun is that?  I know from personal experience that the key factor for success in any plan is motivation.  That’s not achieved solely by following orders.  How to achieve it is another topic which I’ll be posting soon.

My health and fitness directive is in its infancy and will be featured in upcoming posts.  I’ve been researching with experts in the dietary/nutrition/medical fields and I’m brainstorming for now.  Most of my ducks are in the water and I’m on my way to achieving my goals.  I hope those of you who would appreciate a different approach will follow along with me!

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  ~ Mark Twain