Tag Archives: healthy living

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!

2014 March 005When 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.

P1010687About 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.

037newThere’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

Advertisements

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

Plan Your Produce

imageCooking meals at home helps your family eat healthy and save money, but if you don’t shop with a plan, you can end up throwing expensive produce away. It’s happened to most of us at some point. You head to the grocery store with good intentions, buy a lot of random produce,—because with ten pounds of broccoli in the house, you can’t fail to lose weight, right?—and then half of that produce spends the next two weeks being nudged closer and closer to the back of the fridge before it’s finally tossed in the trash. It’s frustrating and discouraging. For you and for the produce.

2014 June 003The solution to this problem is to plan your produce. Here’s how.

  1. Choose one day a week to sit down and plan your meals for the week. If you’re new to cooking at home, pick one or two meals. Baby steps, baby spinach, baby bellas, baby got back on track. Try to choose menu items that share common vegetables. For example, a bag of spinach can make a spinach salad and a mushroom spinach omelet, or one head of cabbage can make Mu Shu Vegetables and Fried Cabbage. As you plan, make a shopping list of what you need to cook the recipes you’ve selected.

 

  1. 2014 March 007Take your list to the store and don’t stray from it. There are going to be produce items that you always keep on hand like garlic and onions, and items that you only buy when you need them like bell peppers and broccoli. It all depends on your family and your preferences. For example, I always have carrots in the house. My boys like to snack on them (when given the choice of carrots or nothing), I like to mindlessly crunch them in front of the TV, they’re cheap, and they’re useful in a plethora of recipes. It’s a staple. Cauliflower, on the other hand, only comes home with me when I have a plan for it. It’s like the out of town relative you enjoy having over, but feel like you have to entertain.

 

  1. End the week with either a batch of homemade vegetable soup or veggie stir fry. Take your leftover bits and stems and combine them into something wonderful. Now your fridge is reset for the week to come and nothing goes to waste.

 

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. Genesis 25:29 (NIV)

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.

 

Images are from:

http://www.starwarsreport.com/tag/yoda/

http://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/2012/10/classic-image-wisdom-never-dies.html

http://imsdemons.pvp101.net/2013/12/guide-herding-cats-or-brief-guide-to.html

Escargot Go Go!

snail-tshirtRight or left? Chicken or fish? Stairs or elevator? Sneak a piece of chocolate now when your kids might catch you and you’ll have to share or later when they’re asleep but you’ll probably end up eating the whole bag?

Decision making is part of life and a new study could shed light on how exercise helps us make decisions more quickly. I say could because the results might take a while: scientists are studying snails to try to pinpoint the link between exercise and decisiveness. That’s right, folks, snails. You know, the first animal you think of when you hear the word “exercise”.

snail-exercisingThe scientists put the snails into uncomfortably shallow water,  “forcing” the shell-haulers to walk around the tank looking for deeper digs. Then they put the snails on dry land to see how long it takes them to make a decision (right or left? stairs or elevator?) and act on it. Apparently, snails who have been walking for a couple hours decide faster than snails who’ve been been soaking in deep water for hours. Why study Speedy Gon-mullusks? Their nervous systems are simple and straightforward so scientists can draw conclusions quickly.

snail-quoteThe thought of snails with sweatbands and Spandex shell coverings is funny, but do you have a better reason than that for bringing this up, Katie? Barely. I mean, yes! And here it is: if exercise can improve the mental capacity of a snail, then imagine what it can do for us! Exercise-even walking at a snail’s pace-not only strengthens bones and muscles, helps fight heart disease and a host of other medical woes, improves sleep, and boosts energy, it also  increases blood flow to the brain which helps the brain work better and-as the snails will testify-faster. Some of us feel like snails when we exercise, but this escargot study is showing that it’s not the speed that counts, it’s the fact that you’re moving. If you don’t want to exercise for your body, do it for your neurons.

One more cool thing and then I’ll share a snail joke.

strong-road-radio-hostI learned about this snail study on a radio show called The Strong Road (think Car Talk but about the Bible). I was a guest on the show on Sunday September 18th (you’ll need to know this when you look up my interview in their archives). The snail story was part of their (tongue in cheek) Biggest News Story of the Week. You can listen to the show anytime on the APH Radio app (download, look for The Strong Road, then choose 9-18-2016) and more info is available on The Strong Road Facebook page.

We talked about my Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating book and how the Bible plays into weight loss. I come in around minute 16, but they discuss the book earlier than that as well. They seemed to get distracted after reading the first word of the title: “We have a special guest coming up on the show today. She’s written a book called Sex….I love it already, who cares what the rest of the title is.” Funny guys. I have a new favorite radio show to listen to while I cook!

And now for the joke, courtesy of http://www.manandmollusc.net/jokes.html.

A guy goes to a Halloween party with a girl on his back.
The host asks him, “And what are you?”
The guy says, ” I’m a snail.”
The host says “And who’s that on your back?”
“That’s Michelle!”

 

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8

 

http://www.popsci.com/scientists-forced-snails-to-exercise-to-see-if-it-affected-their-decision-making

Images courtesy of: www.popsci.com (snail), http://www.pinterest.com (t-shirt, quote), https://www.facebook.com/thestrongroad/photos (The Strong Road radio host)

Autographed Books and Two Fisted Eating

Autographed copies of Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives are now available through SquareUp!

And here’s a classic post on 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.

foodballYour 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.

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).

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.)

2014 Aug 2 006

I’m so excited about kale, you can see my dental work!

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!

“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)