Tag Archives: God

What kind of water is best for weight loss?

drink-waterThe wet kind!

Most things you consume in a liquid state will keep you hydrated; some just have extra benefits or extra pitfalls that come with them. For example, juice has all of the vitamins and sugar found in fruit, but none of the fiber and mandatory chewing that slows down calorie consumption.

So here’s a quick 4 question quiz to see if you know how to keep your body hydrated and on the track to good health! I’ve included a few hints to help you along the way.


1. What percent of your body is water?
a. 30% like a gila monster after a day in the desert sun.
b. 60% One man actually lost 25 pounds of water weight in 48 hours to “prove” that scales are useless. That’s approaching gila monster humidity and he was promptly rushed off to get an IV drip.
c. 90% like a jellyfish.

water glasses2. How many ounces (total) of water should you drink each day?
a. 8 ounces – your blindingly bright yellow or orange colored pee should tell you that this is not the correct answer. Bad blog reader, bad! Most water bottles aren’t even that small.
b. 8 8 ounce glasses – correct, but don’t be lazy, do the math.
c. 64 ounces. Correct! (8oz x 8 glasses = 64) That’s 8 cups of water, or 4 pints, or 2 quarts or one half gallon, or three hours sipping at a water fountain. (I’m glad fountains exist, but when you’re thirsty, they’re maddeningly slow to drink from. Some sort of wall hose would be preferable.)

coffee3. Which of the following beverages count towards your 64 ounces?
a. Coffee and tea. It’s water with natural brown food coloring. Don’t believe me? Check out this myth-busting research.
b. Juice and lemonade. It’s still mostly water, just watch the sugar intake. Sip and savor, but save the chugging for water.
c. Soda. Nope, not even close. It’s liquid, but your body has to use all the water it contains to flush out all of the chemicals it also contains, so you end up not hydrated.

4. Which of the following are benefits of drinking enough water?
a. Flushing out toxins. This is obviously good, right? No commentary needed? Why am I still typing?
b. Energized muscles. Not feeling up for a little exercise? Drink some water; dehydration causes muscle fatigue.
c. Hydrated skin that looks good. Eat your heart out, Maybelline! Moisturizers create a barrier that helps keep moisture in your skin, but if the moisture isn’t coming from the inside out, that barrier is ineffective.

Two footnotes:
drop1. If you need an answer key, leave a comment and I’ll contact you; I have some magic beans I’d like to sell you.
2. Gila monsters have more like 70% water in their bodies, not 30%, but they LOOK so darn dry! And in the dry months they survive by not urinating for months. Gross, but so very cool too. The point is, you are not a gila monster. Raise your glass and drink up! A toast to your health!

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14


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Yoda’s Yoga

images (5)“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Oh, if only I had a little green linguistically challenged trainer who could hang on my back, spouting guru encouragement and inspiring me by lifting spaceships out of ponds. Instead, I have four little beige people I must dress and cobble and herd out the door like protesting cats. I feel like Luke when he sizes up that spaceship: I don’t think I’m strong enough. herdingcatsAnd why am I herding booger spurting beige cats wearing Spiderman masks into the spaceship stuck in a pond? To exercise. Be it rounding the block or driving to the YMCA, I am determined to burn a few hundred calories.

But I must be my own Yoda. “Use the Force, Katie.”

It’s great advice, actually: Do or do not, there is no try. Don’t think about it, just do it. When I think about going to the Y, I often talk myself out of it. I’ll go later. I’ll do some crunches while I watch TV tonight, I promise. It might rain. It’s raining. It did rain. Ooo, my weekly StumbleUpon email just arrived. I should probably clean instead. Pitiful.

There was one day just before Christmas when I finally tired of the filth that was my house (why clean in December when you can shop for presents?) and I cleaned for 3½ hours straight. That was a good workout. “The Force is strong in this one.” Unfortunately, that kind of cleaning bug only hits me on a solstice.

bigyoda2So I try not to think about it. Just do it. (Yes, Nike, I will accept sneakers as payment.) There is always something else I could do with that time, but nothing else I should do. And all of the stuff that needs to get done still gets done because exercise increases my energy. It’s kind of magical. Like Yoda.

“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

He is the REAL Force.


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Jurkey and Junesgiving

One time per year; that’s it.  Pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey are limited to one day out of three hundred and sixty five, but I say “NO MORE!”  (Or should that be “Please, sir, I want some more.”?)

June TurkeyI’m starting a new holiday: June Turkey.  (Jurkey, perhaps? Or Junesgiving?)  Thanksgiving dinner is so good, we need to eat it more often, and eating it in the summer might be even better than November.  Here are the benefits as I see it:

1. It never hurts to be thankful.  The USofA would be a better place if we gave thanks more and ate less.  Chew on this for a moment: If your family income is $10,000 a year, you are wealthier than 84 percent of the world.  We’re struggling to eat healthier in the face of an overabundance of junk food; much of the world is struggling to eat enough in the face of an under-abundance of any food.

Maybe Gratitudiet should be a new diet craze: write a thank you note to a farmer, grocer, or God before you eat…EVERY time before you eat.  The eventual hand cramps will limit our ability to use forks or spoons and slow down our caloric intake.

2. No more pressure to stuff yourself silly on Thanksgiving Day.  You only have to wait 182.5 days for the next turkey instead of 364; ie the world will not end if you don’t eat another mountain of mashed potatoes.

It’s actually a great idea to fill a second plate, just make sure you save it to eat later (hours later, people, not minutes!).  Sometimes knowing I get to repeat a great meal helps remove the temptation to go for seconds NOW.

P10103703. Better veggies.  Let’s face it, summer is the time of year when vegetables are growing, so it’s easier to find them fresh and cheap.  Instead of green bean casserole, you can have fresh green beans.  Peel and cook some turnips and mix them with the potatoes for some extra nutritious mashed tubers.  Take the recipe for sweet potatoes and cut the “good stuff” (butter, sugar, marshmallows) in half, or try roasting them with olive oil and cinnamon.  The more vegetables you add to your meal, and the closer to “naked” you eat them, the more you can fill your plate, fill your belly, and stay on track for a healthy lifestyle.

4. Practice, practice, practice.  Ladies of my generation, if your mother, grandmother, or mother-in-law usually cooks the turkey, then you probably have no clue how that sucker gets from fridge to table.  But your day is coming!  Granted, by the time we’ve become the matriarchs, we’ll probably be able to click on a turkey on Amazon and it’ll be shipped directly to our oven fully cooked, but it’s still a good skill to have so you can brag to your grandchildren that you cooked your own bird back in the “good old days”.

I used to think it was really complicated, but one day I saw turkey on sale for 69 cents a pound and thought “It’s just a giant chicken!  At 69 cents per pound, I’m willing to take a risk and try it.”  I discovered it’s pretty easy.  The hardest part is manhandling the slippery carcass.  Rinsing the bird is like giving a one year old a bath in the sink, just less messy.

Turkey KitchenHere’s what you do: buy a turkey now while they’re on sale.  If you’re an awful cook, buy two: you need the practice.  Put it in the freezer.  (I once forgot about a turkey in the back of my freezer for a year and it cooked up just fine.  Make sure you grease the chain saw with olive oil before you slice it.  Just kidding :))  Check the weather in June and pick the hottest, most humid day you can for your Junesgiving; you’re not going outside anyway, so you may as well make the house smell good!

There are two traditional Thanksgiving dishes that I haven’t found a healthy “fix” for: stuffing and pecan pie.   I made a sweet potato-pecan pie last year that my husband loved because it wasn’t sickly sweet, but I can’t call it healthy.  And stuffing is stale bread baked in turkey grease; if you remove the grease part, you’re left with bad croutons instead of turkey-belly-ambrosia.  I think this calls for some experimentation!  What if it were zucchini cubes baked in turkey grease?

That’s what’s so great about Jurkey!  You can try new ways to eat great food without 17 relatives critiquing your stale bread and turkey grease!  I’ll let you know how the zucchini stuffing turns out.  I’m off to buy my June Turkey; it’s on sale today for sixty EIGHT cents a pound.

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

Be A Better Loser

I’m a pretty good loser, but with help, I’m a great loser.  Help can be an app, a website, a book, an accountability partner, a support group, or a lock on the fridge.  For me, it was Loseit.com.

2013 Summer 605When I first started losing weight, I didn’t want help.  Don’t give me a list of rules.  Don’t tell me any foods are off limits.  Call it stubbornness, call it arrogance, call it refusal to let go of a baking addiction…the point is, I wanted to do it on my own terms.  Also, on my bad days, I did NOT want to have to tell someone how bad I was.  My shame is my own, thank you very much!  But after four months of losing weight and two months of plateau-ing, (P.L.A.T.E.A.U. stands for Please Let my Attempts Take Effect…ARGH!! U’ve got to be kidding me!  Really body?  All this effort and the scale doesn’t budge?) I was ready for help.

P1010980Loseit.com is a free, easy, online calorie diary of sorts.  You know it’s quick and easy if a stay at home mom with four computer-crazy little kids can use it.  When I sit down at the computer, I have about 70 seconds before the boys swarm all over me, asking for a turn.  One of them will actually climb up the back of my chair and onto my shoulders.

Anyways, you create an account, telling them how much you weigh now, your weight goal, and if you want to lose 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds a week.  I love the realism here; notice that you may not choose to lose 20 pounds per week.  They calculate how many calories you should eat each day to reach your goal.  You type in a food and it tells you how many calories that food has and adds it all up for you.  So easy!  No math skills needed!

P1010979You can also create custom foods (such as a favorite homemade soup recipe or how you take your coffee) and name them.  Whole meals can be repeated with one click; useful if you eat the same thing for breakfast five days a week (like coffee, juice, and oatmeal), and previous meals are automatically saved and available to add; useful if you have leftovers for lunch the next day or you cook similar dinners every week.

You can also enter any exercise you do which ADDS calories to your daily allotment.  They even include housework and gardening.  If there’s chocolate in the house, my home gets a good cleaning!

Loseit even has a community feature where your friends and family can join as friends and see one another’s progress and leave comments.  It’s a great way to stay encouraged and be held accountable….as much as you want to be!

P1010981By the way, I am not being paid to talk about Loseit.  I wish I were.  If anyone would like to pay me, I would enjoy that.

So, how does this help?

Imagine that you’ve lost fifteen pounds and need a new outfit to go out with your girlfriends.  You have $80 to spend on clothes and your favorite brand of jeans is on sale for $40. At the store you find a fabulous shirt that you love, but it costs $60.  If you buy the shirt, you can’t buy the jeans.  So, you have to choose: marvelous shirt and mediocre jeans OR spectacular jeans and second rate shirt.  No, put those credit cards back in your pocket!  In this metaphor, debt turns into love handles!

That’s what Loseit does for me; it helps me budget.  I want to eat marvelous everything, all day, all the time.  But that’s how I gained my weight in the first place.  So, a budget example: After entering my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and exercise, I have a whopping 150 calories left for snack time.  I want to have a brownie and a cappuccino, but I can’t do that and stay within my calorie budget, so I have to choose: a brownie and tea OR carrots and cappuccino.

Not so bad, is it?1

Loseit has shown me where my calorie bombs were hiding; those foods that seemed innocent, but in reality have a lot higher count than I imagined.  Muffins, for example, and spaghetti.  The first time I entered my breakfast of muffins into Loseit, I cringed: the muffins used up almost half of my allotment that day!  Score one for the learning curve.  And over time I’ve learned which foods I can fill my plate with and still have room for treats.  (Vegetables!  Not surprised?  What, have you been reading my blog or something?)

Loseit is not the only website out there, but it’s the one I know.  The point is, at some point most of us will need some help, be it encouragement, accountability, or a dose of reality.  So, when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to get help!

“Note this: Wicked men trust themselves alone…and fail; but the righteous man trusts in me, and lives!” Habakkuk 2:4

Halloween Battle Plan

2013 october 013Do you have your battle plan draw up yet?  Halloween is almost upon us, and even if you don’t participate in the festivities, chances are good that your home will be awash in high fructose corn syrup and yellow dye #5.  If you prepare your mind ahead of time, you can avoid that fistful of wrappers “ARGH! What have I done?!” moment.

Here are a few tactics you can try:

1. Buy candy only at the last minute.  Who are you kidding?  How many times have you purchased your Halloween candy at the end of September and had any left on the 31st?  You end up buying a replacement bag on the 29th  anyway, so skip the 15,000 calorie bag of temptation until you absolutely can’t avoid it.  (40oz bag of assorted non-chocolate candy = approximately 15,000 calories = approximately 4.3 pounds of weight gain.  How much in chocolate candy?  I was too afraid to look!)  The stores will not run out of candy.  They will run out of bread and milk before they run out of candy.  They may even have it on sale.

2. Donate extra candy to charity.  Samaritan’s Purse runs Operation Christmas Child where volunteers pack shoe boxes with toys, hygiene items, clothes, and/or school supplies and give them away to poor children around the world, many of whom have never received a Christmas gift before.  The collection week for this enterprise is, conveniently, the second week of November – ie, AFTER Halloween.  If you don’t want your family to eat that entire bucket full of sweets, take the extra goodies to one of the drop off locations.  They’ll be happy to portion the candy into little baggies to add to the shoeboxes.  (They do not accept chocolate; it tends to melt on the way to the Equator.)

P10106823. Hide under the bed.  Or in a closet.  For the month of October.  Maybe December too.

4. Fill a bowl.  Every time you run errands, fill one pocket with candy.  Many offices have a bowl of candy on the front desk, but instead of taking a piece, leave a handful.  Secret Agent 00Sweet!

5. Give a handful to the child of the unfriendly mom who made a snide comment about your bathrobe at the bus stop.  Then repent, forgive, and…oh, come on, people, it’s a joke, lighten up!  It would be funny, though….

5. Make yourself a rule.  For example, you can eat a snack sized Twix only after you’ve done ten pushups and thirty sit-ups and jogged up and down the stairs twice.  Whatever balances you out calorie-wise so that your net intake is zero.

6. Human Piñata.  Fill all of your pockets with candy and go to a play date with your children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews.  Be the first ones to leave and as you walk past the children on the way to the door, “spill” the candy.  If you want to make a little show of it, put headphones in your ears and groove to the music; the extra shaking makes it more believable when Starbursts and Milk Duds leap from your jacket pocket.  Just be careful not to leave the room until you’re positive that your pockets are empty; you don’t want any unsupervised children following you home.

P10106897. Candy Filter Giveaway.  We’ve done this a few years in a row; it works great.  Trick or treating is generally 6-8pm, so we go out with our costumed kids and collect candy from 6-7pm.  We let the boys chose a piece of candy to eat and send them out onto the front porch while my husband and I quickly separate the chocolate from the non-chocolate candy.  The non-chocolate, with very few exceptions, goes into the bowl with the tracts to be given out to trick or treaters from 7-8pm.  (Why tracts?  Because if you come to my house and ask me to fill your bucket, I choose to give you something of value.  Candy rots your teeth for a day, but Christ saves for eternity.)  By 8pm the bowl is empty and we only have a little bit of chocolate to contend with using #5.

Prepare yourselves for battle, Dessert Snobs!  The victory is yours!

 “For the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
 Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.”

Psalm 149:4-5 NIV

How To Force Your Spouse To Lose Weight

You can’t.

End of post.

Why are you still reading?

Unless HE chooses to lose, it’s not going to happen.  You can lead a spouse to water….

So, if you can’t sit on his chest and force feed him carrots, what can you do?

2013 Summer 603There are a few things you can do to help him get healthy, just remember to treat your spouse like a grown up and not a child who can be tricked into eating asparagus because you call them “magic wands”.

1. Read this blog to him.  (Not necessarily today’s entry unless he’s familiar with me; start at the beginning with Sex, then move on to Soup and Two Fisted Eating.  Starting any conversation with the word “sex” makes your husband already like where the conversation is headed.)

2. Get him to bed on time.  It’s very simple and similar to the method we discussed for getting yourself to bed on time.  An hour before he should be asleep, step between him and the TV and strip.  Then smile and walk upstairs.  He will follow.  If you have “wobbly bits” (best Bridget Jones’ Diary quote ever) that haven’t seen the light of day since birth (yours or your childrens’), it’s okay to remove one or two selective articles of clothing to give him the general idea.  For some men, this can be as little as a sock.

3. Stop buying donuts.  And any other junk food he can’t resist.  If he asks you to buy a certain item, buy it, but buy the smaller package.  Men thrive when they are respected; treat him like the grown man that he is.

If your man is overweight, there’s nothing wrong with having an “I’m concerned for your health and I want you to join me on this weight loss journey” conversation; in fact, you probably should have one of those.  But if he’s not ready, don’t push it.  No one wants to live with their personal trainer.

2013 Summer 6104. Exercise together.  Ask him to take a walk with you.  If your spouse doesn’t exercise often, keep it simple, sweat-free and short.  Ten minutes, maybe twenty.  After dinner walks are also a great way to release some gas without him noticing.  Or perhaps it’s without you noticing his.  Either way, it’s great.

If he’s competitive, ask him to hold your feet while you do sit ups while watching TV.  If you brag a little, he’ll probably try to beat your record.

5. Add more vegetables to his meals.  He won’t fall for the “magic wand” gimmick, but neither will he notice if an extra veggie is added to his casserole.  Speaking of casseroles, try making it in two small pans and freezing one for later.  It’s hard to go back for seconds if there are no seconds.

6. Offer water.  Don’t take offense if he doesn’t drink it; he’s not rejecting you.

7. The Number One best thing you can do (which is, of course, why it’s listed as #7) is to be a good example.  When I began to serve myself smaller portions at dinner, I also began to serve my husband smaller portions.  It was easier to dish up two identical plates and if he wanted seconds, he went and got them.  He discovered that he liked the smaller portions, re-started his habit of working out in the mornings, and dropped twenty pounds in three months…less than half the time it took me to lose twenty pounds.  SIGH.

2013 Summer 607But the point is that my example helped get him started, and now his example helps keep me on track.  If I’m on my way to the kitchen at 9:30pm for a cookie and pass by my husband eating an apple, I think twice about that cookie.  If he’s playing badminton with the kids, I’m likely to join in.  If he offers me a drink of his water, I find that I’m thirsty.

Do what you know you should do, and let him follow at his own pace.

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7a

Dessert Snobs

P1010682The one thing that has made the biggest difference in both my body and my lifestyle is savoring my food.  Paying attention while I eat leaves me satisfied after every meal, even with smaller portions on my plate.

Imagine a moist dark-as-night piece of chocolate cake is placed in front of you.  Most people take one bite, emit some sort of grunt of delight, and then shovel the rest of the cake down their gullet in less time than it takes for a toddler to discover how to unroll toilet paper.  When they finish the last two bites, slowing down at last because they see the end is nigh, they sigh and wish for more because “that was so good!” This is how I used to eat cake.  And lasagna, and fries, and ice cream, and cereal, and steak and everything.

Next time you have cake, try this instead: savor every bite.  That’s right, EVERY bite.  Take a bite, emit grunt, take a bite, make mm-mm-mmm! sound, take a bite, paint the inside of your mouth chocolate with your tongue, and so on.  Pay attention to the texture, the flavor, the contrast of cake and icing.  I guarantee that by the time you’ve finished your piece of cake, you will not want a second piece.  Why?  You’re bored!  Seriously.  Five or ten minutes of thinking only about cake is way more time than you need to cover all the bases.

The definition of savor is to “taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.” Food as entertainment; what an interesting thought!

P1010685When I savor my food, I find myself feeling grateful for my abundance and for my taste buds.  If you look at the anatomy of the human mouth, we were created to enjoy eating.  Carnivore teeth can bite and swallow, but not chew.  Herbivore teeth can chew, but really, how many taste buds would you want if you were chewing lunch for the fourth time?  Don’t get me started on jellyfish; their mouth is also their anus, so you know they thank God that they don’t have taste buds.  (And I thank God that I’m not a jellyfish!)  The point is, God created food to have flavor and our mouths to detect those flavors.  Just as I realize how blessed I am with my family when I pause and think about it, I am more thankful for my food when I pause and think about it.  (If I’m inaccurate with the biology lesson, forgive me; I’m still convinced that humans have the best deal meal-wise.)

Paying attention while you eat is harder than it sounds.  I never used to sit down to eat without something to do: talk with someone, read something, watch TV.  It still feels weird to sit at an empty table and focus on my food, but I enjoy what I eat so much more now.

P1010684About a year ago my mom said something that sounded crazy to me at first.  She said, “I’m not going to eat Hershey’s chocolate anymore.”  But Mom, that reduces your chocolate options by, like, 90%!  What kind of insanity is this?!

She loves Harry and David’s dark chocolate truffles and she has good reason to: they’re awesome.  They’re so awesome, in fact, that Mom decided not to waste her time, money, or calories on sub-par chocolate.  She became a chocolate snob.  And she should be applauded!

We need to learn not only to enjoy our food while we eat it so that we don’t wish for more when it’s gone, but we also need to learn to stop eating foods that are not worthy of our time, money, and calories.  At church potlucks and family dinners, I used to finish anything I put on my plate, whether it was fabulous, fairly good, or future compost.  Now I try many things, but only finish what tastes fabulous, especially when it comes to desserts.  If I’m only supposed to consume X number of calories per day, I’m not going to waste them on mediocre food.  Does that make me a snob?  Yes it does.  But I’d rather be a food snob than eat like a garbage disposal as I used to.

P1010688There’s one exception to savoring your food, of course: vegetables!  Feel free to shovel your veggies in like you’re stoking the engine of an express train.  Don’t get me wrong, vegetables can be fabulous (if yours aren’t, try adding garlic) and they should be savored.  But if you don’t particularly like veggies and you’re only eating them because they’re good for you, then don’t savor them.

You know how sometimes you just want to plant yourself in front of the TV and stuff your face?  You’re not hungry, particularly, but you want that repetitive plate-to-face action happening?  Choose a veggie.  It’s mindless eating, so do it with a food that won’t hamper your goal when consumed in large quantities.

 P1010356So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15

Homemade Soup in Twenty Minutes

P1010166A disclaimer before we begin: if you don’t own a food processor, the only way your soup will be ready in 20 minutes is if you use pre-chopped frozen veggies or went to culinary school and earned the nickname Flash for your chopping ability.

Don’t despair!  You can still make homemade soup that is healthy, cheap, and delicious.  You just might take a little longer to get it ready.  Or you can plan ahead and chop the day before.  Or the month before and freeze little baggies of soup-ready veggies.  Or the summer before when vegetables are super cheap at the farmer’s market and you start September with three gallon sized Ziplocs full of chopped zucchini and potato and onion.  You, too, can live like medieval peasants, working from dawn ‘til dusk during the harvest season and then reaping the benefits during the long cold winter.  But I digress.

You have two options.  The first option is Clean Out the Fridge Soup, one of my favorites.  With a plethora of random leftovers, the resulting soup is different every time and you get to wash twenty little Tupperwares when you’re done.  The second option is Planned Soup where you think about it ahead of time and try to match ingredients that will go well together.

P1010196Let’s get started!

Step 1: pull out all of your vegetables and meat, especially the ones that need to be used up because they’re going bad quickly.  (Be brave, but not stupid.  Pull it out from the back of the produce drawer; if it’s less than 50% mold, you can work with it.)

Step 2: Put the soup pot on the stove and turn the burner on to medium or medium high.

Step 3: Chop up a medium onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.  Don’t worry, it’s only raw garlic that make you unkissable; you can still ask your hubby to get you to bed on time!  (See post from August 4th) When the soup pot is hot (no, don’t touch it, just let your hand hover and see if it’s hot), add some fat: oil, butter, bacon, your choice, though olive oil is the healthiest. When the fat is hot, sauté the onion and garlic for a minute.

Step 4: Chop your meat up into tiny pieces and throw it in, raw or already cooked.  Remember that you can mix your meats…one serving of meatloaf, a chicken leg, half a pork chop, etc.

4Step 5: Chop up your veggies; smaller is generally better, but go with whatever you prefer.  Sauté the veggies for a minute or two.  My dad likes to add the veggies by length of cooking required so that the garlic doesn’t burn while he waits for the carrots to cook.  He does carrots, broccoli, potatoes first and onion, pepper, garlic last.  Soup is not an exact science; figure out what works for you.

The vegetables in soup are like a contemporary music band; the right combination creates beautiful harmonies.  Onion and garlic are your lead vocals and your keyboard or guitar, water and salt/seasoning are the sound wave vibrations that your ears translate into music.  Without these, it’s just not a band. (If you’re not a fan of onion and/or garlic, you need remedial eating classes.  You can never have too much garlic!)

Celery, carrots, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale, etc are your drums.  You can make a band without it, but why bother?  If the point of soup is to give your body nutrients, don’t leave out the colored plants.

Corn, meat, okra, turnips, etc are the violins and harmonicas.  If you like them, they add a special flare to the band.  If you don’t like them, don’t add them; no harm done.

5Beets are a diva with control over the volume of her own microphone.  I like beets, but I don’t add them to soup unless I want beet soup.  You will only taste the diva.

Step 6: Add water.  Finally, right?  You boil your soup just as long as you need to in order to cook everything in it.  If you chop your ingredients small, they cook quickly.  Ten minutes should do it.  (If you add uncooked lentils or beans or rice, you just added 20-30 minutes to the recipe.  Not a bad thing to do unless you want to eat in 15 minutes.  Leftover cooked lentils or rice?  No problem!)  I add about eight cups of water.  If that feels like too much for your family, start with less.  If your soup gets crowded, you can always add more water later.

Step 7: Add the secret ingredient: salt.  I used to have trouble making soup.  At first I would throw a lot of things into a pot and serve it.  My husband got a few nasty surprises since he was generally the first one to taste it, so I started sampling dinner before dishing it.  If a soup didn’t taste right, I’d add a little of this or that or those and my husband would ask “did you add salt?”  It only took me five years to start listening to him.  Before you despair, add a little salt and taste. Add a little more and taste.  It’s very hard to take extra salt back out! If you over salt, try adding potato.

3The easiest way to do this is to add chicken bullion cubes or packets.  Bullion gives you seasoning and salt all in one easy step.  Just as with the salt, you should add one, taste.  Add one, taste.  This is also when you can add herbs, pepper, or spices.  When in doubt, let Simon and Garfunkel guide you: add “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”.  When it tastes good, soup’s done.

Now I know some of you are panicking right now!  NO recipe?  That’s ludicrous!  Anarchy won’t help me, Katie!  Calm down and start by clicking here.  It will lead you to a recipe for Potato Chicken Cheddar Soup.  Experiment when you feel comfortable.  Anarchy comes with practice!

The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for … I myself will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:23 (Taken completely out of context!)  Be courageous to change your life!

Two Fisted Eating

Grab a brownie with one hand and a slab of pecan pie with the other…now stuff them in your mouth!  That’s what you pictured in your head, right?   We’re going to keep the joy of eating that you’re imagining, but lose the mess.

Your stomach is the size of your fist…or maybe two fists; depends on who you ask.  Yes, it’s that small, and yes, it can stretch out a LOT! (Do you know how much food I’ve managed to squeeze in there?  I always thought my stomach was the size of a football!)

Your stomach can expand to hold 1.5 quarts (okay, so I wasn’t too far off with the football idea).  One quart = four cups and my fist is about the size of one cup, so I can cram 6 fists into my football, er, stomach.  (Still with me, math majors?)

So what do I do with this information?  Cut a football in half and use it as a plate?  (We can call it the “Foodball”!  What do you think, marketing people?  Weight loss gimmick for men?  Only $19.99 if you call now!)

So, Two Fisted Eating.  At each meal, your goal is to put 4 “fists” on your plate.  TWO fist sized portions of “real food” (as I like to call it) and TWO fists worth of vegetables (remember Veggie Rule #1?).

Let me give you an example; this is the Turkey Curry recipe.

P1010173P1010175The plate on the left is what my plate looked like a year ago.  Notice that the green section looks more like a decoration – an afterthought – than a part of the meal.  The picture on the right is what I ate for dinner this week.  TWO fists of “real” food (rice and Turkey Curry) and TWO fists of veggies.

Now, THIS IS IMPORTANT: RED ALERT! RED ALERT!  Ready?  When your plate is empty, you stop eating.  It’s that simple and it’s that hard.  Drink some water, drink some tea, start the dishes, lick the plate and cry… whatever works for you, just don’t get seconds (unless it’s vegetable soup, then you can go back for thirds for all I care).

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12, NIV)

The math majors have all noticed by now that I said our stomachs can fit 6 fists and we only put 4 on our plate.  We have room for two more!  Yes, yes we do.  But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. (For example, I can post a daily photo of my poodle….)

We’re re-training our brains, not our stomachs.  For years, my brain equated “full” with my stomach being stretched to capacity: 1.5 quarts or 6 fists.  That turned out well for me, didn’t it?  So, now I’m training my brain to say “full” when my stomach has 1 quart or 4 fists in it.  It takes a while for this to happen (like months), but it will happen.  (By the way, a better goal is to stop eating when you feel “not empty” rather than waiting for “full”; still working on that goal.)

Years ago I had my neighbor over for dinner and she said she felt “stuffed” after her second piece of pizza.  Stuffed?  I was doing my best to limit myself to three slices!  I could fit four or five before I felt “stuffed”.  Now I feel “good” full after two slices of pizza and bad “stuffed” if I take a third.  (I normally stop at two.)  Her brain and my brain were trained to say “full” at different stomach capacities.  (And yes, she’s a petite blond bombshell.)

When you look at the food on your plate, especially if it’s less than the amount you’re used to eating, what problem comes to mind?  I’m going to be hungry in two hours! (News flash! I feel hungry two hours later no matter how much or how little I eat!)  Don’t fear the hunger; you know it’s coming, so be ready.  Eat TWO fists of fruits or veggies as a snack.

By the way, I push vegetables rather than fruit simply because fruit has more sugar and therefore more calories.  Fruit is good.  Very very good.  Eat fruit when you crave something sweet, but vegetables are our new best friend.  Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?  My definition is this: if you wouldn’t bake it into a pie, it’s a veggie.

So, a meal is TWO fists of regular food and TWO fists of veggies.  A snack is ONE or TWO fists of produce.  Slow down as you eat and enjoy what’s on your plate.  (More on that later.)

Okay, math majors!  When does TWO plus TWO not equal four?

When they add up to negative numbers on the scale!

Second Week Is Soup

2013 Summer 593Just as sex combines exercise and sleep (read my last post if that came out of nowhere for you), SOUP combines two more elements that I believe are essential for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle: water and vegetables.

Our bodies are 60% water, so let’s start there.  A research study showed that drinking 16oz (one bottle) of water before each meal helped people lose more weight and keep that weight off.  It makes sense, right?  If your stomach is full of water, there’s less room for food.

But water is so boring!  Yes, yes it is.  Dress it up with lemon if you have to, but chug it down.  Because if your pee is still Crayola Crayon Laser Lemon Yellow after lunch, you’re not drinking enough water.

Another great reason to drink water is that if you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking soda, juice, tea, coffee, etc.  Calorie-wise, that’s HUGE!  Now, I love my coffee.  And I love it about as close to melted coffee ice cream as you can get.  So, I’m not saying that you can never drink anything other than water; I am saying that most of what you drink should be water.

 “ You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20, NIV)

And now, the moment you’ve all been dreading…. Time to eat your vegetables.

Yes, your mother was right. 2013 Summer 605

At a family reunion a couple of years ago, I looked around at the plates of all of my skinny relatives and noticed two things when I compared their plates to mine.  1.  They had less on their plate.  2. Half of their plate was covered by veggies.

Vegetables (or “rabbit food” as my siblings and I used to call them) have lots of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins and very, very few calories.  (Which means you can pig out on them and that’s a good thing!) They, along with whole grains and legumes, were the original menu planned by God in the Garden of Eden.

One theory I heard is that your body will continue to crave food until all of its nutritional requirements are met.  That means that if you fill your body with crap, it will ask for more in hopes that it will get the nutrients it needs.  If you fill your body with vegetables, your body gets what it needs and stops asking.

So, here are a few rules for vegetables:

Rule 1: Half of your plate should be full of vegetables at lunch and dinner.

Rule 2: It is ALWAYS okay to snack on vegetables.  10am, 3pm, midnight, I don’t care…eat them until you’re sick.

Rule 3 (The Rule of Thumb): If you can do plain ol’ naked veggies, please do.  I rarely can.  I eat a whole lot more of them when they have a little extra flavor (read that “fat and salt”) added.  So, the Rule of Thumb.  Look at your hand; your palm and four fingers represent the amount of veggies you’re preparing and your thumb represents the maximum amount of “flavor” you can add to it.  Bowl of green beans?  Thumb of butter and salt.  Baby carrots?  Thumb of Ranch dressing.  Keep in mind, the less fat and salt you add, the better.  Perhaps it should be called the “Rule of Half a Thumb”?

2013 Summer 592You will learn to like vegetables, I promise.  After eating them all the time for months, I actually started to crave them.  (Don’t worry, I still like chocolate; the insanity hasn’t spread that far!)

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.” (Proverbs 15:17, NIV)