Monday, February 28, 2011

Take the First Step to a Healthy Body

Are you ready to take the First Step to a Healthy Body?  
It seems like such a simple one, but it's one so many of us ignore: 
    Get up off that sofa, out of that chair and move! Start with just 5 minutes. You can walk, run, walk up and down the stairs, dance, swim, bike, or just walk in place.  The key is to get your body in motion. 

    Activities that move large muscle groups through motion repetitively are aerobic exercises. This type of activity works to strength your heart, increase lung function, burn calories, increase metabolic rate, increase oxygen flow,  and can even increase the flow of endorphins--those "feel good" neurotransmitters in your brain.  And it's usually time when you aren't snacking on Cheetos! After you're done?  You feel great that you've done it, proud, and maybe even a little virtuous.

    Are you already a regular in exercise-land?  Work toward moving for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity 5 days a week, or 3 times a week at higher intensity. Do it one day, rinse, repeat!

    Today's Action Plan:  Get your body in motion with aerobic activity for at least 5 minutes. 
    Fire Up! You can do it!

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Jambalaya--My Way

    I've had several requests for more healthy recipes.  Today, I'm sharing a recipe that I created a long time ago, and it's one of my husband's favorites.  It's really great leftover, too.  You may notice that this has lots more veggies than other recipes, and that's intentional. You can use this trick for many of your recipes. More veggies mean higher fiber, more filling, higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants...and a bigger serving size. 

    Saute until tender:
    2 tbsp. olive oil
    1 cup celery, diced 
    1 cup onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 green pepper, diced
    1 red bell pepper, diced

    1 quart (32 oz) diced canned tomatoes (low sodium preferred)
    3 cups (24 oz) chicken broth (low sodium preferred)
    1 1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
    2 tsp. dried basil
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    3/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
    2 bay leaves

    Simmer for 1 hour.  Add:
    1 cup diced lean ham
    2 cups chicken breast, cooked and diced
    8 oz. frozen shrimp, peeled and de-veined

    Cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until rice is done. 


    1 1 1/2 cup is one serving 
               =2 breads, 2 protein, 2 veggies and 1 fat
               =268 calories, 3.6 g fat, 0.9 g. saturated fat, 79 mg. cholesterol, 564 mg sodium, 
                 33.5 g carbohydrate, 4 g. fiber, 25 g. protein              

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Gotta Have Chocolate!

    Sometimes, I just want chocolate.  A piece of fruit won't do the trick, not water, not sugar free gum. It has to be chocolate! I'm sure many of you can relate to this chocolate urge, or maybe it's some other food that you occasionally obsess over.

    There are some experts who feel it's a learned behavior---we indulge in chocolate in certain situations (for example, when under stress) a habit develops, and we end up craving that food whenever we are in that situation.  Others point to research showing that eating chocolate actually stimulates the release of neuotransmitters in the brain known to improve mood-- happy hormones. Whether it's behavioral or chemical makes no difference to me.  I just know that occasionally, I've gotta have chocolate!

    For years, I told myself that chocolate was bad for me, really bad.  I would refuse to let myself have any if I was trying to lose weight because I couldn't stop eating it.  But eventually, I would give in and take one bite, which led to two, and then it was all over...and so was the diet.  Since I lost control of chocolate once again, it proved that chocolate was bad, and if I ate it, I was bad, too.

    Then I hit on a revolutionary thought:  chocolate was just a food.  It was not good, bad or anything in between.  About 17 years ago, I decided to have something chocolate every day while I was losing weight.  Really.  It was hard to get my brain around the old negative chocolate thoughts, but over time, it worked.

    I started out with non-candy chocolate every day:  a cup of light cocoa, a double-chocolate pudding cup, a frozen chocolate fudge bar, or a Skinny cow ice cream sandwich. I enjoyed it in the evening, after the chaos of the day.  After awhile, I added an occasional chocolate candy, maybe a few Hershey kisses or an occasional small candy bar.  I let go of the negative image of chocolate, incorporated it into my eating plan, and I lost weight doing it!

    Making peace with chocolate was important for my sanity and my health. Don't get me wrong, I still have times when I gotta have chocolate, but I listen to the urge instead of deny it.  Then,  I choose what I want, eat a small portion and I'm OK---most of the time. Sometimes I eat more than a small portion, but it doesn't make me bad, a failure or an evil child.  It makes me human.  If I don't lay on the guilt, I can let it go and continue on my quest for a healthy me.  And, it's good...

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    How's YOUR Attitude?


    Today, take time to consider your attitude... 

    Decide to have a positive attitude that will empower you to act in positive ways and become what you truly want to be--- healthier, stronger, thinner, or even happier.

    Start by taking one positive shot at a time.  Be proud of yourself for getting up to exercise, eating fruit for breakfast, or for simply choosing to have a positive day. The more we hit that shot--that positive basket--the easier it becomes to be positive with yourself and make positive changes for your health...

                             BILLY DONOVAN'S ATTITUDE PLAN

    Always making today my best day
    Taking pride in a job well done
    Treating others with respect
    Isolating my negative thoughts
    Treating tasks as opportunities
    Utilizing my talents every day
    Doing the job right the first time
    Expecting positive outcomes daily
    Speaking well of others every day

     Head Basketball Coach for the Florida Gators

    Fire Up!  You Can Do It!

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    14 Strategies for Healthy Grocery Shopping

    Mike's Grocery Cart
    The grocery store is ready for us, but are we ready for them?  The battle is on. Foods are strategically placed for temptation.  Aromas of freshly made breads and donuts waft passed our nose.  Super-sale specials are piled on the end caps encouraging us to grab and go down that aisle.  Samples are often served as we walk by. Be aware:  the grocery store manager has a different goal for you than I do!

    The grocery store manager and owner want us to spend as much money as possible.  We can't blame them, they are a business.  Studies have shown that the longer a shopper stays in the store, the more money they spend.  To that end, stores are set up to keep us there and to encourage us grab extras along the way.  Perishable foods are carefully placed along the perimeter of the store:  produce, meats, milk products, eggs, juices and breads. These are the foods we need to replace often, so that it pulls us into the entire store. Some items are actually priced below cost (loss leaders) to entice us to get in the store with idea that we will buy other things while we are there.  Booby traps abound; it's time to take control!

    12 Strategies for Healthy Grocery Shopping:
    1. Make a list of what you want to purchase, and be sure to take it with you when you go (I've been known to leave the list on the kitchen table...) Little notepads work great for this, or use an envelope where you can tuck in coupons as you use them.
    2. Take any coupons you have that match the items on your list.  Be careful with coupons; many of them are for more highly processed, less healthy foods. Many times the store brand foods are a better buy even if you do have a coupon for the name brand.
    3. Have a healthy meal or snack before you go.  Nothing spells impulse buys like an empty tummy.
    4. Take a pen to cross off items on your list. Go for a fun color if it makes it seem more like a game.
    5. Pop in a piece of long lasting sugar free gum to chew.  Keeping your mouth busy can help with the free sample temptations. If a sample tray looks too tempting, I think about someone Having sneezed on the tray---it work every time!
    6. Focus on the perimeter of the store.  These are the foods that tend to be the less processed and more healthy for you:  fruits, veggies, meats, milk products, and breads.
    7. Theoretically, at least half of your cart should be fruits and veggies. Keep this idea with meals, too: every time you fill your plate, half should be fruits and veggies.  Results? Lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and great portion control!
    8. Be cautious around the end cap displays.  Sometimes you'll get a great deal on canned tomatoes or beans, which is great.  But, when you see great buys highly processed, low nutrient dense foods such as Oreos or Lays chips, these are not good buys for your health! Choosing them occasionally is fine, but don't stock up because you think they are a great price.  When you stock up on them in your body, the cost rises...What is the real price of your health?
    9. Look high and low in the aisles:  stretch high and squat low. That's where you'll find the healthier choices:  brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, dried beans, whole grain cereals. What's at eye level? Captain Crunch, white rice mixes, cookies, etc.  The next time you are in the store, take note of where the healthy choices are placed on the store shelves.  
    10. Stick to your list. Cross of the items as you pop them into your cart. If there seems to be a great buy not on your list, think it through carefully before it goes into the cart. What will happen when you bring home those bargain Hershey's kisses?  Can you stay in control and eat one or two each day, or will they control you?  If you really want a bit of chocolate and fear your control, decide to make a date to go out to a candy shop and buy one special piece to enjoy.
    11. Be aware of the candies and chips at the check out aisles.  This is a last ditch effort by the store to get us to impulse buy.  You are stronger than that
    12. When you get home, unload your groceries with pride.  Chew a new piece of gum if you need help not nibbling the new supplies.
    13. Get those veggies prepped and into the fridge, putting some of them on a shelf right at eye level to encourage yourself to eat them.
    14. If you need a reward for a great shopping trip, try a skinny latte, a cup of tea, bubble bath, or something you love that has nothing to do with food---you've earned it!
    I'm visiting my oldest son and daughter-in-law in San Francisco right now.  The first trip we took was to a grocery store, and I was so proud of the food choices my son made, I took a photo of his cart.  With a list in hand, his cart was perfect with whole grains, lots of fresh fruits, and non-fat dairy.

    I know we can all do better at the grocery store. What we choose to bring home from the grocery store sets up our food choices for the week.  Take initiative and bring home healthy foods for a healthy you.

    Remember:  you are worth what it takes to be healthy!

    Fire Up, You Can Do It!

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    It's a Break from Winter for Me!

    My Sister and Mickey
    It's been a LONG winter. It was starting to get to me. I was starting to wonder if the snow would ever quit and if the temperatures would ever again warm up above freezing. I was noticing signs that I needed some change.  Recognizing this, I tried to change the furniture around in the living room, but our set-in-his-ways yellow lab was not too pleased when his bed got moved. So, I tried a couple new recipes. That helped a little, but not much.  Luckily, my husband decided that he wanted to attend a conference in California, and he had enough frequent flier points to land a free ticket for me.  Perfect! A way to get out of town and get a break from all this winter.

    My Niece Emma Lee
    I really am savoring this visit with my sister and her family on the first half of my "Get Away From Winter" vacation. The sun has been shining every day, and even though we've gotten hit by a few Santa Ana winds, just being here, feeling the warmth of the 68 - 78 degree days and seeing the sun is enough.  I feel rejuvenated already. And a little time in the jacuzzi today for my tight neck muscles worked wonders.

    My sister and her family definitely put physical activity on their list of priorities.  She works out with an incredibly demanding trainer 3 times a week and my brother-in-law has started hitting the gym for early morning workouts 2 times each week. My niece is in the master's Ti Kwon Do program, and my nephew is in a running group, takes tennis lessons, Ti Kwon Do, and goes outdoors to play. This active family certainly gets top points for setting the stage for developing exercise habits that will stay with them forever.

    My Nephew Adam Lee
    So far, so good for my activity.  I joined my sister at her trainer's session once this week, toning down the program to be more user-friendly to my body.  Another day, I did my 3 mile run/walk while she worked out. We hiked the Townsley Canyons together---narrow, winding trails, breath-taking scenery and a great time to chat with my sister. Her dog loved it. Yesterday, my husband and I walked along the beautiful Pacific Ocean on a sandy beach for 2 hours. The legs were tired, but the soul was well nourished.

    Use my sister and her family as an example:  put physical activity as a top priority in your life.  When you do, your body and mind will thank you...even when you are on vacation!

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    10 Steps to a Healthier Super Bowl

    Wow. It was crazy.  We went to the grocery store twice today (forgot 3 things!) and both trips were the same.  It was just like the day before Thanksgiving or Christmas. Aisles were jammed with unsmiling people and their carts at all angles. I watched a little boy reaching for a can of Pringles on the end-cap display saying, "But it's the Super Bowl tomorrow, Mommy.  We need these." And into her cart they went. There was lots of that going on. And the check out incredibly long.  Patience was the name of the game today. But tomorrow's game is the big one. From the looks of all the bags of chips and boxes of beer in the shopping carts, we need to get our game plan ready!

    Maybe you're one of the ones excited to watch the football game.  Maybe you just love watching all the new commercials or even the Puppy Bowl.  But one thing is certain:  we ALL love chowing down the chips and other nibblies at home or during the parties as we sit around the big screen TV's. It's time to get your head in the game if you don't want to end up feeling stuffed and sluggish tomorrow.

    10 Steps to a Healthier Super Bowl:
    1. Eat a good, healthy breakfast and lunch.  This helps keep your blood sugar level steady all day. Don't even think about skipping meals to save room for the party food.  When you get too hungry, most of us lose control of our eating choices.
    2. Drink water throughout the day.  Stay well hydrated. 
    3. Get your walk or workout in before the game.  Burn a few calories, zip up your energy level and feel good about yourself.
    4. Before the game, have a healthy snack.  Grab a yogurt, an apple or a banana with a little peanut butter.  This fills up your tummy and gets that blood sugar to a good place before you are faced with the chips.
    5. Provide some Healthy Food Choices. Whether the party is at your house or at a friend's, be proactive.  If you are going to someone's home, surprise them by bringing a healthy tray or two:                      
      • Veggie tray with low fat dip. Try carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, cucumber, olives and grape tomatoes. For easy dips, start with plain Greek yogurt as a base and stir in powdered ranch dressing or onion soup mix (go light on the mixes as they are high in sodium.) Or be creative and try mixing the yogurt with fresh dill, basil, minced garlic or whatever sounds good to you.  
      • Salsa.  Serve a variety of flavors for fun and they count as a veggie!
      • Fresh fruit kabobs with pineapple, grapes, strawberries or kiwi stuck on toothpicks. Make sure to make LOTS of these and watch them disappear.
      • Hot bean dip:  One can fat-free refried beans mixed with 1 cup of salsa.  Nuke  until hot. (I love the black bean refried beans.) Serve it with tortilla chips and veggie sticks.
      • Baked tortilla chips are a great whole grain choice.  Grab your favorite or make your own:
        1. Cut corn tortillas into 6 wedges and place on cookie sheet.
        2. Lightly brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray.
        3. Sprinkle lightly with salt (sea salt if fun to use.) Use a little chili powder, cumin, garlic powder or seasoned salt, if desired.
        4. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes. Turn and bake another 7 minutes or until lightly brown.
        1. On a platter, spread 1 can of fat-free refried beans.
        2. Mix 8 oz of Greek yogurt with 1/2 package of Taco Seasoning.  Spread on top of beans.
        3. Top with shredded lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes, sliced black olives, diced avocado (toss with a little lemon or lime juice first), and drained green chilies, if desired.
        4. Sprinkle a little reduced fat cheddar cheese on top. 
      • Hummus and Whole Grain Pita Bread.
      • A case of chilled bottled water. Just leave it outside to get cold!
      1. Sit out of arm's reach from the "Danger Bowls" that are filled chips or other less nutrient dense nibblies that encourage mindless eating. Sit closer to the fruits and veggies.
      2. Have a glass or bottle of water with you at all times.  This keeps one hand occupied and less likely to reach for food, and keeps you well hydrated.  Grab 2 bottles and hold one in each hand if you really can seem to stop the drive to nibble. 
      3. Eat Mindfully. Plan your eating strategy and try to stick with it. Perhaps you'll plan on filling your plate only once for each half of the game or once for the entire game. Or, maybe you'll stay with the veggies and fruits during the game and fill your plate with your other choices during half time.  
      4. Chew gum while you watch the game if you have trouble with mindless eating.
      5. Alternate your light beer or other alcohol choice with a non-caloric beverage to minimize empty calories, maximize hydration and keep your head in the game better so you can remember to make healthy choices.
      Think about how much better you'll feel about yourself if you exercise, choose health foods and stay in control of your food this Super Bowl Sunday...

      Your mantra of the day:  The first bite tastes the same as the last!  

      Fire UP!  You Can Do This!  

      Wednesday, February 2, 2011

      White Chicken Chili for a White Winter Day!

      SimonHowden/FreeDigital Images

      This Sunday is, as most of you know, Super Bowl Sunday!  We'll talk about developing a good strategy for healthy eating during the big football/food fest in the next post. But, Sunday is also the day when some of us will focus on the Souper Bowl of Caring.  This week at our church, I'll be in charge of guiding lots of teens and pre-teens as they learn to chop, peel, dice and stir---creating 2 wonderful homemade soups to eat-in or take-out. It's such a great fundraiser to fight hunger and poverty, and a terrific way to get the kids cooking healthy foods.  One of the recipes I choose every year is an all-time favorite:  White Chicken Chili.  Since it's certainly been soup weather where we are, I thought you may enjoy this recipe, too.

      White Chicken Chili

      2 cups onion, diced
      1 Tbsp. olive oil
      3 cloves garlic, minced

      1 pound of chicken breast, cubed
      6 cups of chicken broth (low sodium is a good idea!)
      1 -48 oz jar of Great Northern Beans, drained

      Stir in:
      1 small can diced green chilies
      1/4 tsp. pepper
      2 tsp. cumin
      2 tsp. oregano
      1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
      3-4 drops Tabasco sauce

      Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 hours.  It will thicken more the longer it cooks.