timefliesTime lately has been flying and I’ve been super-busy, though I know, that is no excuse. I’ve been slacking on my writing duties and even slacking on my weight-management a bit too. I had a birthday, we took a vacation, then my husband turned 40, which resulted in a party and vacation, and now, I’m ready to write and get my waistline back on track. I have put on a few pounds (13 to be exact), nothing anybody likely notices. My clothes still fit, they aren’t tight to the eye, but I know what the scale is supposed to say. I’d been neglecting my own rules as related to partying, anticipating extra food consumption and planning for my day or an event. It is amazing how quickly the body reacts to these thoughtless moments, as additional pounds come and just as easily, as I’d started implementing these in my rotation again, the pounds go. Below is a list of things that I became lax on but have reinstated: 

  • When drinking alcoholic beverages, do not just sit and drink. Stand, circulate around the room and talk to people. This burns more calories and the drink lasts longer, thus I consume fewer calories.
  • If I know about an event in which I’m going to allow myself to indulge, I need to do extra workouts a week before and possibly (depending on how much I indulged) a week after the event. For me this is typically adding a 30-minute bike ride and/or 2-mile walk to my day. Since normal workouts are in the morning, I do the extra workouts after work, which actually helps me wind down for the day.
  • Dance off extra calories when at a club or party with music, as this burns calories, keeps me from eating and is just fun!
  • Plan the day. Recently, I went to the state fair, planned what I was going to eat and actually ate less food. I did some extra workouts earlier that week to make sure I had the calories for my favorite foods. Once I got to the fair, I didn’t really want all that I’d planned. The result was a 1-pound loss for the week.
  • Even plan for snacks. I’ve gotten back in the bad habit of being at home and noshing. Now, I make sure to plan for any snacks, “extra curricula” food, or even a nightcap on those days I know I’ll have a lot of down time.
  • Write everything down. I started keeping a few things in my head and well, in my head or not, they did end up on the scale, as it is quite unforgetting. When I first started my journey, I put down 5-calorie gum and 2-calorie espresso beans. Then, I started thinking those were minimal calories so I didn’t need to do that. I started making allowances/excuses for 20-calorie items here open and paperr 30-calorie there. Over time, this really does add up. So now, back to, “if I eat it, I write it.” 

I’ve already started seeing the results of my restored roadmap for weight-loss and management. Soon, I will be back to my 172-175 pound self and this will be yet another closed chapter in this long and continued journey.

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Over July 4th weekend, I was reminded of how “easy” it is to lose weight. As the conversation went on, we all know what the problem is. We either eat too much or don’t exercise enough, or both. I was asked what I did to lose weight and everyone already knew what the simple answer would be, “I eat less and workout.” Yup, so easy, so simple, and yet… not! That’s what we all laughed over as we contemplated health, wellness, weight-loss, and weight maintenance. 

In our conversation we realized that knowledge or know how might not be the problem. The problem for some is sticking to the plan. The problem for others is resisting the need for instant gratification. The problem for others is prioritizing exercise. My initial problem actually was expertise, as I wanted to know how much I should eat. I wanted to be accountable for the calories in and calories out. Once I gained that knowledge, came up with a plan, stuck to it mountainsand prioritized my workouts, I lost the weight. Perfection, right? Nope. Now of course, to maintain weight loss, there are other problems, which, as our conversation developed, we realized is likely always going to happen. It’s called “moving mountains” for a reason as it’s not just one mountain. Just as one is moved, another will appear. 

What I’ve learned recently is that once I recognize there is a problem, I don’t have to know why or define it. What I can do is create rituals or good habits to combat those problems. Hearing this made me feel like a lightbulb had gone off. The best example I was given for this behavior involves a person that might be a workaholic and doesn’t spend as much time at home as they’d like. Instead of trying to figure out why this happens, they should create a ritual and stick to it. Be home for dinner at 6pm at least 2 nights a week (to start). They can later change it to more days and over time, the problem is solved. There wasn’t time wasted on trying to figure out why the problem existed or complicated steps to fix the problems. Setting rituals and sticking to them became the new behavior.    

lightbulbA ritual I have created is to always order the small size, even if that means the kids size. I’m getting used to it as sometimes it is hard to remember but I have found the smaller size to be plenty. I now get kid scoops, small or kid size fries, a cup instead of a bowl, etc. It allows me to still eat what I want, get wonderful flavor and food, but without the guilt or as many calories. 

Another ritual I’ve started is to use the small plate, regardless of the food size or amount I think I’m going to get. This is for home, restaurants, the buffet, etc. Sometimes I think the food will not fit but it does. Sometimes I also think I would not get satisfied by what I put on the plate but I do. The truth is, if I had more on the plate, I likely would have eaten it. There is no harm in going back if I’m truly hunger but typically, that doesn’t happen. I don’t know why I sometimes overeat or don’t stop while there is still food on the plate but getting a smaller plate keeps me from caring so much and eating less. 

I plan to add a few rituals in my personal life that have nothing to do with food and exercise as well. I do ponder too much about the why, as opposed to coming up with action items to obliterate the bad behavior. Quite honestly, rituals is not something I think I would have come up with as a solution on my own, so I thought I’d share it as others might find it equally useful.

flag with fireworks

I was going to do a 4th of July blog on what to eat, what not to eat, good tips and tricks and well it appears, I’d done one already, which is still quite relevant (click link below). The only addition I have, which is what I plan to do this holiday is to stay focused. Focus on what I really want and not just what is in front of me. I want to spend time with friends, hang out by the pool and relax with a few choice beverages. Just because food is there doesn’t mean I should eat it. And if by chance I do munch a bit, I will take some laps in the pool. Hopefully my plan to stay focused on what I really want will keep me from what I don’t want… extra pounds on the scale. Happy 4th everyone as you Celebrate Your Independence.

I do love summer. It’s warm, people always seem friendly and there’s so much to do. With that said, summertime for me sunshinehas its difficulties as related to health, wellness, and my eating regimen. The warmer weather makes me want to go out and do more; however, that’s not necessarily a good thing. I like to sit on patios at various restaurants and watch the passersby. I like to head down the street to grab a bite of ice cream and sit in the park. Sure, I walk to all these events, which add to a healthier me, but eating, drinking and possibly staying out late, those aren’t helping my wellness cause. I try to do a mixture of things to balance my summer fun. 

I love salads. As a cold natured person, I don’t typically eat salads in the winter, as I need food that will warm me up. However, in the summer, I crave salads all the time. This is a good thing as I can have a light dinner salad with a glass of wine (or two), sitting on a patio. This keeps the calories low and helps me soak up some vitamin D through the sun. Since we frequent many establishments in our neighborhood that are in walking distance, I do burn off a few more calories in the summer than usual, so that’s a plus as well. If I walk to get a salad and a couple of glasses of wine, I’ve likely walked off at least one glass of wine. 

sushi rollI also love sushi. For some, sushi in the summer is not desirable as there is the risk that it’ll go bad quite quickly, but again, I’m cold natured so the best time for me to eat it is in the summer. Sushi, at least the sushi I eat, is extremely low in calorie and very good for me. I don’t get sushi with excessive ingredients or with crunchy, fried, or saucy accompaniments. I like most of my sushi au naturel, with wasabi of course. If I get it with rice, I try to get brown rice. I try to mix it up a bit with some nigiri (but typically don’t eat the rice) and a few bites of a sushi roll. Luckily, I finally have my husband into eating sushi so we can get a couple of different small rolls and some nigiri to get the most bang for our buck and save our waistlines. 

 As I stated, I do try to walk more during the summer. Many places that we frequent are within walking distance (less than 2 miles), so regardless of the weather, if I know I’m going to eat and drink, it’s time to walk. If I do eat any excess calories, it’s possible I’ll burn them off. For example, my birthday is next Sunday. On Saturday, we’re doing a 5k event and then hanging out with friends that afternoon, likely bar hopping. I figure the 5k gets us started off with a good calorie burn (this is after I already do my 2-hr normal workout for the day). From there, I’ll be sure to watch what I eat. We’re going to a Mexican place, so I’ll get a couple of tacos with everything on the side so I can control the sour cream and cheese, along with no chips and salsa. When we bar hop, I’ll sip slowly (thus shooting for no more than one beverage per establishment) and make sure I only eat if I’m hungry, and even then, it’ll be low in calorie. In addition, we’re making sure to walk everywhere. This will certainly keep my metabolism in overdrive, as I’ll wake up, workout, do the 5k, and never stop going, thus burning numerous calories.

picnic ants, noWhether or not this plan works next week, we’ll see but as I’ve always said, having a plan is at least a good start. Moreover, knowing my weaknesses and setting boundaries is quite helpful too. Luckily, I do like low-calorie foods such as salad and sushi and I live in a walking neighborhood that helps offset my need to be active when the sun comes. This summer, I hope to continue having plans and ideas to ward off the pounds like Raid against ants at a picnic; I’m going to squash all these summer temptations like a bug.

With Memorial Day being the official kickoff to summer, I thought I’d repost this blog. It’s one of my favorites and is in my top 10 of blogs with the most views. Enjoy and have a great Memorial Day weekend all!!!

Summertime! The time of year many people eagerly wait for and loudly cheer for once it is here. Various people find they exercise more in the summer as the weather lends itself to walking and running. It is a great time of year to be out, active, and enjoy the surroundings. It is also that time of year for backyard BBQs, family reunions, and potlucks. Let’s face it, even the increase in exercise doesn’t equal the possible increase in food available in the summer. 

I already gave a few points on the BBQ in my Independence Day post, but here are a few more to help guide you: 

When attending a BBQ:

  • Ask the host for the menu prior to attending.
  • Plot a “food course” based on that menu.
  • Plan to eat and drink every hour or so while there. For example, let’s say you plan to be there for 4 hours and want to have 2 ribs, 2 chicken wings, some baked beans, a small salad, and a piece of dessert. Once you arrive, get a drink and mingle for about 45 minutes, then grab a salad. About an hour later, get another drink and have the 2 ribs and a spoonful of baked beans. An hour after that, have the wings and one more spoon of beans. About 30 minutes prior to leaving, have some dessert.
  • Use a dessert plate to keep portions in check, or even use a napkin or just a fork (unused fork of course) if appropriate. (Last BBQ I went to I already ate before arriving, but my sister-in-law makes the world’s best macaroni and cheese. I had to have a bite so I got a fork, dipped it in the mac and cheese, and had one heavenly bite. Had I gotten a plate, I’d have gone hog-wild. The one bite really was all I wanted and needed.)
  • Never take anything home. If you go over calories, at least it is limited to one day. Don’t even take veggies (unless raw) home with you as you never know how much olive oil, butter or other high calorie flavoring was used.

 When hosting a BBQ:          

  • Cook some good for you, healthier food (i.e., grilled fish and chicken with no sauce, green beans, etc.), along with food your guests will expect. This gives you something flavorful and lower calorie to eat and food to store for later.
  • If you have food left that you don’t usually keep in your house, give it to your guests. Only leave food in your house that you’d normally eat. However, if you’re guests have read my blog, they will not take the food with them, in which case donating the food to a church or shelter is recommended.
  • Keep in mind that you’re at home. If you want to snack or nibble, choose your usual snacks and not the chips, dips, or desserts you set out to make your guests happy.
  • Be sure to use the timing pattern and small plates as mentioned when attending a BBQ.

 If attending a potluck: 

      • Don’t go hungry. Be sure to eat just prior to the event so you’re not tempted to scarf down everything.
      • Wait at least an hour prior to eating, as to wait for the arrival of all the food. No sense in figuring out what you want to eat, eat it, and something new arrives. Wait so you can “size up” the entire smorgasbord.
      • Determine the “must-have” dishes. This should only be a few foods. Those items you have a taste for or may never get a chance to sample again. Be honest about what you truly crave and “can’t live without.” Once you know what you want, plan your attack just as you would a BBQ. Save a bit of room/calories for a “must-have” late arrival.
      • Again, don’t take anything home, including the dish you arrived with, and use small plates. 

 (Note: never host a potluck as you want to be able to control the type of food at your gathering and you don’t want to be left with the remaining items people don’t eat or take with them)

I hope this helps in maneuvering through what can be a challenging season and allow you to enjoy the long-awaited summer.

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about, as I had a couple of topics running around in my head. Therefore, I figured a short synopsis or a few quick tips might be useful to pass along. 

huge waistMore waste might equal less waist – I really don’t want to waste food or advocate it, but when served too much food, that’s what I have to do instead of eat it. If I eat it and know I’m no longer hunger or don’t have the calories for it, my waistline will not be happy. I’d rather waste the food than see the food on my waist. 

Volume speaks volumes on the scale – When I’m at happy hour, my preferred drink more often is wine. A glass of red wine has 125 calories for a 5-ounce pour. Sipping that glass throughout the evening goes a long way. I do love bourbon but with at least 140 calories per 2-ounce pour, if I’m going to be out for a long time and drinking, wine will keep the calories (and morning weigh in) down. I still drink my bourbon but usually more when I’d like a nightcap, am only going to have one drink, say for an hour-outing, or when I want that calming/soothing one-glass sip. I drink my slightly dirty martinis on rare occasions as they have way too many calories. Luckily, I don’t like beer and thus can avoid a beer gut.

Ask, and you shall receive – I customize my restaurant orders all the time and restaurants have no problem providing what I have asked. I can pick apart a menu like nobody’s business and look for ingredients that I might like. Then, I figure out how those ingredients can make a composed lower calorie, great tasting dish. With so many people having food allergies, chefs do not seem mind preparing food requested in the manner preferred. It’s almost as if the Burger King Slogan fits anywhere – Have it your way. 

Little changes can make a big difference – I used to drink a large white chocolate and caramel latte with skim milk every morning, for a whopping 530 calories. This is how my day started every weekday. Now, I drink a medium half-and-half shot of sugar-free white chocolate and sugar-free caramel latte with skim milk for only 130 calories. Honestly, the first couple of days it took getting used to but now, I love it. A new person made my coffee once (forgetting the sugar-free) and it was horrible… way too sweet. One sip and I knew it was wrong. My taste buds adjusted and that one change dropped 400 calories from my daily diet. I used to drink that coffee with a 400-calorie muffin and now I have a Vitatop, a Weight Watcher Muffin, a Granola Bar, etc. or something similar for less than 200 gbtasterscalories. Just a tweak here and there, still eating good food but saving myself tons of calories. The same is true about those shooter desserts in restaurants compared to their full-size counterparts. I still get the sweet flavor and indulgence without a bunch of regretful pounds.

I hope these few tips are helpful, as they sure have helped me continue to enjoy life while I eat wonderful tasting food, socialize with friends and maintain a healither weight.

hold hostageMy husband came up with the idea for this blog and the title because of a salad I ordered last Saturday. We went to Gordon Biersch, who has many salads on their menu. I love salad; I’m just too lazy to cut, clean, and put them together the way I want. When I go to restaurants that have a smorgasbord of salad toppings, I frequently order a salad for my meal. The problem for me is that they usually don’t have a composed salad just the way I want. Therefore, I have to “make” a customized salad, or as my husband put it, give my list of demands. This particular trip I ordered a well-chopped salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, pears, craisins, artichoke hearts, gorgonzola cheese, spiced pecans, and light balsamic Italian dressing on the side. 

I’ll admit, I do this quite a lot when I go out to eat as I figure it’s my waistline and my money so I should have it my way. Restaurant establishments can turn me down or not give in to my hostage demands, but they’ll also not get my money as I can go elsewhere. I’ve been ordering tailored food for years now and have not come across any problems (knock on wood). There are times when I order vegetables with no oil and the waitperson comes back to tell me their vegetables are pre-seasoned and oiled when they arrive to the location. It is not that they do not want to compile with my wishes, they just can’t. In this case, the staff might recommend I get the vegetables but they can request no additional oil be used (sad but true; many restaurants have oil already on the vegetables, then put more oil on to reheat, roast or whatever for preparation). Sometimes I’ll move forward as suggested, other times I’ll opt for a salad or something without oil. 

I don’t just do this with salads or vegetables. I’ve become very good at picking a menu apart. Many ingredients are served with one dish but I want them with another. For example, if salsa is served with the nachos, I know they have salsa. I might want my fish prepared without the buttery sauce described on the menu, so I’ll ask for grilled fish with little to no oil and salsa on the side. Or, if they use apple slices for a drink on the bar menu and I want lightly grilled apple slices with my pork chop instead of the gravy it comes with, I’ll ask for it. Most things can be done and modified, they just might cost a bit more or take more time to cook but it can be done. 

Another thing I pay careful attention to is the kids menu. There are usually smaller portions and simpler offerings for these little tikes. Sometimes the waitperson will alert me that they have to charge me a higher amount than what is listed on the child’s menu, to which I respond, “that’s fine, I just want to get the kid size meal and not waste or be tempted bythink outside the box the food.” I’m always courteous and open to suggestions so the servers are genuinely helpful and typically want to accommodate my requests. 

While you might not be dining at Burger King, keep in mind you can still have it your way. Take charge of the menu and caloric intake. Be polite in the request and be ready to offer solutions for any problems that arise. You might want grilled fish but they only have utensils to bake their fish or so they tell you. If they have a grill and some foil or even a heavy pan/skillet, it can be done; just some out-of-the-box thinking needed. Before exchanging your calories and money be sure you’re getting what you want and need for continued success in your weight-loss or maintenance journey.