Tag Archives: Health

Fun Exercise and my friend, Ox E. Moron

2013 August 106       Children are the best exercise motivators in existence because they trick you.  If you don’t believe me, go for a simple walk with a few small children.  They enthusiastically skip and talk and explore the first quarter mile and you think, “Yes, this is nice! My body feels good!”  They wait until you’re at the furthest geographical point from the house to fall apart and then you get a surprisingly good workout carrying, dragging, or threatening them all home.

A friend of mine from church – let’s call her Lean Jean – is the most creative gym teacher I’ve ever met, so I asked her for some exercise ideas.  She suggests riding bikes around the neighborhood or jogging together.  I’m not a jogger, but jogging with my kids might work; I mean, how fast can they go, right?  I hope I have enough pride to pump my legs faster when my three year old passes me!  In our family we make the kids earn their ice cream or popsicles by riding bikes around the one mile loop of our neighborhood.  (Bribery you say?  Yes, yes it is.)

10           Her next suggestion is Mailbox Races.  Start at your mailbox and race to the neighbor’s mailbox, then back to yours.  Let the kids choose a different movement each time: hopping, skipping, ski jumps, walking backwards, sashaying sideways, galloping.  “The kids love to pick silly movements. Keep it fun.”  She makes the point that you’re in front of your house the whole time, so if one kid needs a break or a bathroom, they can take a rest on the lawn.  And when Mommy lies gasping on the grass, the kids can fetch her water from the house.

I was put to the test yesterday evening.  My children drew a big wobbly race track on our driveway and wanted to run races.  SIGH.  The very thought of running made my legs and arms turn to lead.  But this week’s blog was echoing in my head and I thought, “Am I going to talk the talk only or am I going to Nike it up and Just Do It?”  The races were fun once I started!  I felt a little silly, but what are the neighbors going to do, move away?  Not in this market!

2013 August 121Some other great ideas she had are to make an obstacle course or to crank up the music and dance.  Ever dance like a toddler?  It’s all jumping and wiggles and kicks and some pretty cool hand motions.  Lots of fun, but suddenly all of the songs feel so loooooooong!  Let the kids lead the dancing and copy their moves; you’re guaranteed not to be stuck doing the awkward head bop I pull out at every wedding.

No “good” time for crunches or weights?  Do 15 pushups leaning on your vanity before your shower, says Lean Jean, and do lunges when you’re on the phone.  “Just remember that if it’s not fun, you won’t want to keep doing it. Change it up, interject it in small doses throughout your day.”

If you don’t have children readily available or you don’t feel comfortable borrowing some, I recommend you try a KISS walk, Keep It Simple Stupid.  Throw on some sneakers and go.  No special outfit, no gear, no reason to wait.  Ten minutes here, twenty minutes there; it all adds up.  How does it add up?  Let us count the ways!

2013 August 122Walking briskly for 10 minutes: 45 calories

Dancing for 10 minutes: 90 calories

Jogging (12 minute mile) for 10 minutes: 100 calories

Push ups for 10 minutes: 40 calories

Bike riding for 10 minutes: 95

House cleaning for 10 minutes: 30 calories

Carrying, dragging, or threatening children for 10 minutes: 50 calories

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork.” Job 39:13

We may not look graceful or athletic when we exercise, but we can move our bodies with joy!


Salad Sunscreen?

Attention all pale people!  Here’s a new reason to eat salad!  I thought I’d pass along a new reason to love lettuce.

Am I There Yet? Goal Setting 101

P1010303We’re sleeping more, exercising more, eating more vegetables, and eating less of everything else.  Our initial motivation is wearing thin and the looming question is: how long to I have to do this?

Forever!  (Bwa-ha-ha, I have you now, my pretties!)  No, wait! Come back!  I’m half kidding.

The healthy habits we’re forming should be for life.  You want to be healthy when you’re 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, right?  I’m going to be one of those cool grandmas who roller skate with snow white pig tails. And my grandkids won’t be embarrassed at all.  The healthy habits you form now will help you stay healthier longer.

So how long do I have to keep this up?  The VERY good news is that once you reach your weight goal, you can stop losing and just maintain.  Losing is hard; a “low calorie” diet for women is 1200 -1500 calories per day depending on how quickly you want to lose the weight.  You can eat more when you maintain; around 2000 calories per day to maintain a weight of 150 pounds. That’s why portion control, vegetables, and general taking care of your body works so well…it’s a “diet” that you can live with forever.  (Forever…bwa-ha-ha!)

So what should your goal be?  A number on the scale?  A pant size? (Based on which clothing, brand, right?  I can be three different sizes in one outfit!)  Let’s explore our options and choose the goal that fits us best.  We’ll start with the scale; pounds, kilos, or stones.

Confession time: I hate the weight chart doctors use; always have.  I never fit into them the way I should.  Even at my thinnest in high school, with sports practice five times a week, I was “overweight” on the chart.  Could I have been thinner?  Probably.  Did I look overweight?  No.  Let’s check the chart.

Click HERE for the surgeon general’s chart; I tried to include it, but technology failed me.

So, at 5’4” tall, when I reach my weight goal of 150 pounds, I will still be “overweight”.  Yup, I still hate that chart.

P1010305Okay, moving on to BMI!  To calculate your Body Mass Index (Body Mass?  Who comes up with this stuff, aerobic instructors with the bone density of a sparrow?) To get BMI, you multiply your weight in pounds by 700. (For me that’s 167 pounds x 700 = 116900) Then you divide that number by your height in inches twice. (For me that’s 116900 ÷ 64 inches = 1826.56 ÷ 64 inches = 28.5)  The healthy range for BMI is 19-24.9, so once again, I’m way off target.

If I want a healthy BMI, I need to weigh a maximum of 145.7 pounds.  Not going to happen.

Sigh.  See why I just ignored the scale and my weight for years?  It’s like telling me I’m officially healthy if I become fluent in Chinese.  Yes, it’s possible, but it’s not going to happen in this lifetime.

So how do I choose a goal that’s right for me?

I’m aiming for 150 pounds.  Why 150?  It’s close to where I was back in college (I’m not sure exactly what I weighed; we didn’t have a scale) and it feels reasonable.  As I get closer to that number, I’m refining my goal.  Muscle weighs more than fat, and sometimes the number on the scale won’t budge but my clothing fits more loosely…using only the scale can be tricky.

My new and improved goal is this: to stand up straight and have NO back fat indentations.  I don’t care what the scale says, when I have that smooth contour again, I’ll be happy!

Knowing your numbers (ideal weight, BMI) can be useful for measuring your progress; if you know where you started you can see how far you’ve come.  But you should set your goal based on what’s truly important for you.  Your goal can be a lower cholesterol number, the size of your jeans, or weighing less than your fridge.  Maybe it’s back fat.

When we’re aiming for our goal, it’s important to keep a proper perspective on our progress. This is especially true when we see no progress for a few weeks! When I started dieting, I searched for verses on food, diet, etc.  There’s a lot about God’s provision and blessing, but the Bible doesn’t talk about weight loss because most people throughout history were worried about having enough food to feed their families, not restraining themselves from overindulging.  My favorite verses for inspiration were and are 1 Corinthians 6: 12-13a. 2013 Summer 603

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.  You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.”

I paraphrased it like this: “I can eat whatever I want!  But I chose what will benefit my body.  I can eat whatever I want! But food will not be my master.”  When I overeat, I’m not really free; I’m a slave to my appetites and to my body’s limitations.  If “I have the right to do anything”, then I have the right to feel good in my own skin.  This is the call to battle, the challenge to have my body serve me, rather than the other way around.

The last part is the perspective part: someday my body, food, and everything physical will be destroyed.  It won’t matter what I weighed or how slim I looked; only eternal things will matter.  When I’m fat, God loves me.  When I’m thin, God loves me.  When I fail, when I succeed…God loves me.  So why lose weight?  Because I’m tired of complaining to God that I’m fat and tired and have high cholesterol.  I’m tired of my weight getting in the way of focusing on serving Him.  “I have the right to do anything”…so I chose to have a body that’s an asset, not a liability.

Phew!  How’s that for deep and preachy?  Quick, swim up to shallower waters while I think of a joke!

I’m starting a new program, called the Pasta Diet! The Italians have been using it for centuries. Here are the few simple steps:

1)You walka pasta da bakery.
2) You walka pasta da candy store.
3) You walka pasta da Ice Cream shop.
4) You walka pasta da table and fridge.

From KikiPeepers (http://www.youthink.com/jokes.cfm?obj_id=445816).


Naked Veggies

Jenn had a great question this week and I thought I’d pull it out of the comments and post it just in case anyone else had a similar question and didn’t see it.

Jenn: “You said after you are done, don’t go get seconds, but I always thought you could eat as many veggies as you want. So could you go back for green beans but not the rice and curry?”
Great question, Jenn! And the answer is: it depends on your veggies.

If your veggies are naked (no butter, no dressing, no extra calories) and low calorie, then by all means, fill up! Green beans, zucchini, carrots, celery, lettuce, etc are all in this category. (Peas and corn, on the other hand, are high-ish in calories (for a veggie) and can add up fast.)

The problem is in the flavor, the “good” stuff, that we add to the veggies to make them taste better. An extra helping of green beans is no problem, but the extra butter and salt can be.
If you’re maintaining a healthy weight and going back for seconds on veggies works for you, then do it. But if you’re trying to form new habits, then breaking the habit of RE-filling your plate with anything, even veggies, is essential. You can always get the beans out for a snack later on!  When I have the munchies at 10pm and I can reach for leftover stir fry, that’s a good thing.  A better thing would be if I just went to bed at 10pm.  “Oh, Honey…”

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)

Nuts, now I have to do it.

I’d known for years that I needed to lose weight.  I postponed the inevitable by having four babies in six years. (Can’t lose weight when you’re pregnant, right?)  I did my research, I came up with a simple plan, and then I thought, “Nuts, now I have to do it!”  I was petrified  of two things: 1. Not being able to lose weight.  2. Losing weight and then gaining it all back.   But the only alternative was to stay overweight and that future scared me more.

100_9009P1000960One year later and thirty pounds lighter, I’m ready to share my plan and encourage anyone out there who’s on a similar journey.  I’m still on the journey, by the way; I have about twenty pounds to go to reach my goal.

The plan is simple.  Every week for three weeks, we focus on one aspect of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.  On the fourth week we put it all together.  Then we repeat the pattern every four weeks, building on the changes we’ve made and making them permanent elements of our new lifestyle.

Start with Sex

Two key elements of a healthy lifestyle are united in sex: sleep and exercise. Sex is exercise and it induces sleep. No matter which diet route you choose, if you don’t get enough sleep and you don’t get your butt off the sofa, research shows that your body is going to fight you every step of the way.

Maybe you don’t have the will power to turn off the TV and get yourself into bed at a decent hour. But you have at your disposal one of the most powerful forces in nature: your husband’s desire for intimacy.  Here’s how you tap into that power.  Pick a night (or several nights) of the week and say this: “Husband, I want you to seduce me at nine o’clock tonight.  I will say yes.  I need to be asleep by ten.”  Your husband will remember.  He might be incredulous (after all, it sounds too good to be true) but he will remember.  Nine o’clock comes around and badda-bing, badda-boom – a good night’s sleep!

Research shows that people who get a full night’s sleep lose more body fat on a diet than those who don’t.  Science has also confirmed that when we’re tired, we eat more. (Google “weight loss and sleep” and you’ll see what I mean.) If you want the hormonal explanation, check out Dr. Oz’s website; he explains the connection between REM sleep, hormones, and weight loss.

Better yet, do your own research.  Ready?  Get eight hours of sleep two nights in a row.  Does a salad sound appetizing?  Do you have the energy to make one?  Good.  Okay, now get six hours of sleep two nights in a row.  What are the chances you’ll exercise today?  Are fat and sugar your new best friends?  Bingo.

Psalm 127:2 says that God “grants sleep to those he loves”.  Sleep is a blessing!  A gift!  Not a necessary evil.

On to exercise!

Exercise burns calories and builds muscle, which burns more calories.  It keeps your heart and lungs healthy, releases endorphins, yadda yadda yadda.  It also makes you feel better wearing a bathing suit even if you’re not up to Kate Upton standards yet!  Ask anyone who has lost weight what they did to be successful and 9 out of 10 will say, “Exercise more and eat less!” (More on eating next week – one thing at a time!)

How do you exercise more?  With concerted effort.

My favorite exercise is swimming laps.  It combines cardio and muscle toning in one workout and you’re wet, which means you don’t have to figure out how to look cool using dumbbells and you don’t feel sweaty.  The real breakthrough came when I started swimming with a friend.  We show up because we want to talk, but we make ourselves do laps first.  I’m motivated to go because I want to hang out with my friend, so I go more often.  I used to walk on a treadmill while reading a book because I love reading. (In fact, I avoided the pool for a long time because you can’t read in the water.)  It was a pain to get the kids out the door and to the YMCA, but I got to read uninterrupted for an hour – totally worth it!  The point is, if you make it fun, you’ll do it more often.

If, for you, the word “workout” is akin to “pap smear”, then start small.  Go for a walk after dinner.  When you’re on the phone with a girl friend, pace the room and do squats like a nut.  You know that pile of things at the bottom of the stairs that needs to go up?  Take them up; all of them, one at a time, up and down, up and down.  Challenge your kids to a race.  You may be ready to quit after one lap around the yard, but they’ll ask for more and enjoy beating you as you move slower and slower and finally bribe them back into the house with a treat.  The type of exercise doesn’t matter at this point in the journey: if you’re moving your body, it counts.

Isaiah 40:29 says that God “gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak”.  Ask God to help you do what you know you need to do.

So, get eight hours of sleep at least two nights this week and move ten minutes extra each day.  Have faith – the things you do TODAY are affecting your weight and your body, even if you can’t see it yet.