Gastronomic Coupling

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~ Virginia Woolf

February is American Heart Month as well as the time we celebrate lovers on Valentine’s Day. So what’s more appropriate than talking about food pairs for health! Physicians, nutritionists and dietitians alike tout the benefit of eating certain foods in combination for maximum health benefit. I’ve personally found combining specific foods satisfying as well as nutritious.

Below are some of the food combinations called “Dynamic Duos”* … for a good reason!

green tea_lemonGreen Tea + Lemon = A Healthier Heart

Green tea has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks, thanks to catechins, the brew’s powerful antioxidants. But studies show only about 20 percent of these healthful compounds are available for our bodies to absorb. The good news: Recently, when scientists added lemon juice to green tea, the availability of health-enhancing catechins skyrocketed to a whopping 80 percent.

Stay-Well Strategy: After brewing yourself a cup of green tea, squeeze in the juice of one whole lemon (you can also use an orange, lime or grapefruit, all runners-up in the study). Don’t want to DIY? Look for bottled green teas that list “ascorbic acid” (also known as vitamin C) among their ingredients. Scientists say the vitamin C in citrus fruits can also improve catechin absorption.

broccoli tomatoBroccoli + Tomatoes = Cancer Control

Broccoli and tomatoes are both cancer-fighting all-stars, but research reveals eating them together may offer even more protection. In a recent study, scientists found consuming tomato and broccoli at the same time was more effective at slowing the growth of cancerous prostate tumors than eating either vegetable alone.

Stay-Well Strategy: The amount of produce used in the study translates to about one and a half cups of broccoli and two and a half cups of fresh tomato (or one cup of tomato sauce). To tap into their potent powers, order a pizza generously topped with broccoli or sprinkle some florets over your next plate of spaghetti.

Red Bell Peppers + Black Beans = Improved Immunity

Eating more meatless meals lately to do your heart (and the planet) a favor? You’ll absorb more immune-boosting plant iron by adding in some red bell peppers. That’s because the iron in picks like beans exists in a form called non-heme iron that’s harder for your body to absorb than the iron found in red meat (heme iron). But, adding a dose of vitamin C-rich produce like red peppers converts the iron into a type that’s easier for the body to use, explains registered dietitian Heidi McIndoo, author of the book, When to Eat What.

Stay-Well Strategy: In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women absorbed nearly three times more iron from their meal by adding just 63 milligrams of vitamin C. This amount translates into about a half cup of chopped red bell peppers. To tap into their healing powers, toss these health-enhancing peppers into your next pot of chili.

eggs mangoEggs + Mango = A Firmer Facade

Want to improve the overall look and strength of your skin? Try consuming this power couple. Eggs are naturally rich in two special amino acids (building blocks of protein) that are essential for the formation of skin-plumping collagen. “And foods rich in vitamin C, like mango, work with these acids to boost collagen production. This helps build back lost stores in the body, which can significantly improve the appearance of skin,” explains Keri Glassman, a registered dietitian in New York City.

Stay-Well Strategy: To give a boost to your next breakfast, pair an omelet with a cup of fresh mango chunks, which supply nearly an entire day’s supply of vitamin C.

Green Tea + Black Pepper = A Whittled Waistline

Forget drastic diets: At your next meal, sip a cup of green tea and shake some black pepper over your entree. “A study recently found that the combo boosts the absorption of EGCG, a key antioxidant in tea tied to calorie burning, by a whopping 130 percent,” explains registered dietitian Cynthia Sass, author of the new book Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches. Bonus: According to research published in Nutrition Journal, people who drank green tea with their meal reported feeling more full and were less likely to want a second helping than those who drank plain water. Experts say the compounds in green tea can affect the hormones that regulate hunger and fullness.

Stay-Well Strategy: Studies say as little as a half-teaspoon of black pepper can increase the absorption of tea’s beneficial compounds, so brew a cup of tea to sip, then take out your mill and get grinding!

kale radicchioRadicchio + Kale = A Stronger Skeleton

Cup for cup, kale is the king of calcium (it contains three times more than spinach). However, food scientists say you’ll soak up even more of this bone-building mineral by combining kale with some radicchio. Why? The crimson veggie is a rich source of inulin, a carbohydrate that naturally enhances calcium absorption in the intestines, according to a recent study in the journal Nutrition Research.

Stay-Well Strategy: To shore up your skeleton, toss these tasty greens together in a salad.

avacado romaineAvocado + Green Salad = Complexion Protection

You’ll absorb more skin-protecting plant compounds called carotenoids from your veggie salad by adding a little avocado. “Carotenoids reduce free radical damage to effectively protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays,” explains Glassman. In a recent study at Ohio State University, people who ate avocado in their salad of lettuce, spinach, and carrots absorbed up to 15 times more carotenoids than those who didn’t eat their salads with avocado. Studies show carotenoids require some fat to be optimally absorbed by the body, which means avocados, which contain solid stores of healthful monounsaturated fats, healthfully fit the bill.

Stay-Well Strategy: To nab this nutrition perk, slice a half of an avocado into your next green salad.

Yogurt + Bran Cereal = Better Digestion

This breakfast is a natural immunity booster. Full of good bacteria, yogurt acts as a probiotic. It encourages healthy bacteria to flourish in your digestive tract, keeping sickness-causing bugs at bay. But probiotics work even better when paired with the prebiotics found in wheat bran. Why? Prebiotics act as nourishment for probiotics, helping them better thrive in the gut so they can do their immunity-boosting magic, says registered dietitian Dave Grotto, author of the book, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.

Stay-Well Strategy: To get in on this good-gut action, first look for probiotic-rich yogurts that sport the label “live and active cultures.” Then, mix one cup of this yogurt with three quarters of a cup of wheat bran cereal.

Apricots + Almonds = A Tip-Top Ticker

This power pair helps prevents LDL “bad” cholesterol from oxidizing, a process that happens whenever LDL reacts with free radicals. “And oxidized LDL is harmful because it encourages dangerous plaque build-up in the arteries,” explains registered dietitian Elaine Magee, author of the book, Food Synergy. But, in a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that the phytochemicals in almonds reduced LDL oxidation when paired with the antioxidant vitamins E and C, both of which are found abundantly in apricots.

Stay-Well Strategy: For a satisfying, heart-healthy snack, combine a quarter-cup each of dried apricots and raw almonds.

yogurt blueberriesYogurt + Blueberries = A Stronger Body

Spoon up this tasty snack after a sweaty workout. The reason: Research reveals blueberries possess brain-boosting benefits to keep you better focused during your fitness routine, while yogurt’s hefty stores of protein help repair the little tears in your muscles that naturally occur during exercise. As if that’s not enough, the carbs in both the yogurt and fruit naturally replenish your muscles with glycogen, a stored form of energy (dipping too low in glycogen can quickly trigger fatigue). Yogurt’s protein also stimulates a hormone that transports those energizing carbs into your muscles to give your next workout more get-up and go.

Stay-Well Strategy: If you’re doing intense exercise and need to be at the top of your game, be especially speedy about eating this recovery snack. Why? Your body’s most efficient at stashing away glycogen in the first 15 minutes after your workout, says Magee

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil + Tomatoes = Disease Defense

Tomatoes boast all four major carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene) plus three potent antioxidants (beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C) that may help fight cancer and heart disease. “You’ll absorb more of these protective chemicals if you eat them with olive oil,” says Magee. “It’s high in healthy monounsaturated fats and slows digestion so you can soak up more of them.”

Stay-Well Strategy: Mix a little olive oil in your next marinara. You’ll get a bigger phytochemical punch with cooked tomatoes (leave the skin on, since it’s loaded with them). Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed form, so it contains the most beneficial compounds, says Magee. Just store it away from heat and light to prevent it from going rancid.

oatmeal strawberriesOatmeal + Strawberries = A Healthier Heart

Oats contain two important phytochemicals called avenanthramides and phenolic acids. These compounds have been shown in research to work synergistically with vitamin C to reduce the harmful effects of “bad” LDL cholesterol and help prevent the plaque build-up that can lead to heart attacks, says Magee.

Stay-Well Strategy: Enjoy a half cup of sliced strawberries with your morning bowl of oatmeal.

Cinnamon + Whole Grain Toast = Increased Energy and Speedier Slimming

Sprinkling on this spice may help keep your blood sugar at a healthier level, which prevents dips in your energy and spikes in your hunger level, says Sass. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon was found to slow the rate of stomach emptying after meals and reduce the rise in blood sugar after meals to negate more noshing later.

Stay-Well Strategy: For a healthier version of that childhood staple, cinnamon toast, use whole grain bread, trans-free margarine and a study-backed teaspoon of cinnamon. Note: Experts say you’ll nab more protective compounds if your cinnamon is fresh: Whole sticks last up to a year, ground cinnamon for six months.

garlic onionsGarlic + Onions = Head to Toe Protection

These aromatic veggies both contain a number of organosulfur compounds; heart-healthy plant chemicals that help keep arteries flexible and free of plaque, says Magee. Some of these compounds have even been studied for their power to detoxify carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) in the body. Eating both at the same time means you’re “covering your bases” and boosting your chances of getting more of these healthful compounds, she says.

Stay-Well Strategy: Cooked together, they make a delicious base for soups and sauces or simply sauté veggies like broccoli in a mix of olive oil, garlic, and onions.

Enjoy your “coupling” … you’ll love the results!

*Material reprinted from ivillage.com by Sally Kuzemchak, M.S., R.D.

Advertisements

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

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