Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Poem for Perseverance

I've always loved the message in this poem, and it just may be a perfect time of year to share this one with all of you. Food for thought...

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lemon Sweet Potatoes

Janel wants to know if I have a recipe for the light colored yellow sweet potatoes she found in the grocery store. Absolutely! I found this recipe for Lemon Sweet Potatoes in a Gourmet Magazine over 30 years ago, and have lightened it up and tweaked it a bit over the years.  Our family loves them so much that we make it for every Thanksgiving and Easter. It's sometimes hard to find these Jersey White sweet potatoes, and they tend to be a bit more pricey than their more orange-y cousins...but well worth it!  Since I couldn't find them anywhere last spring, I had my son who lives in Pennsylvania buy them at his Wegman's grocery store and drive them all the way to Michigan for Thanksgiving! I think that says it all...

Lemon Sweet Potatoes

Scrub 4 pounds yellow sweet potatoes (Jersey Whites or other light
colored variety)
      Place in a pan with just enough water to cover them.
      Bring to a boil, then cook on low until tender, about 30 minutes.
      Drain well.
      Peel and place in mixing bowl.
      4 Tbsp. lemon juice (or to taste)
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1/4 tsp. white or black pepper 
      1 Tbsp. butter
      2 egg yolks
Whip until light and fluffy.
Lightly coat 2 quart casserole with cooking spray.
Place sweet potatoes into dish.
Decorate with thin slices of fresh lemon.
Bake at 325 for 45 minutes, or until steamy hot.

Nutrition info:
Makes 12 servings (about 2/3 cup)
144 calories, 3 mg cholesterol, 62 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 1 g fat, 3 g protein. 3 units.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanks-giving or Thanks-gobbling?

Thanksgiving.  Does anyone remember what this holiday is really all about? I'm afraid that many Americans have forgotten the origin of the day and instead have ended up obsessed about food, food and more food. We start the day gobbling and never seem quit---Thanks-gobbling?

This year, it's time to change the focus. Thanksgiving. What does the base word "thanks" actually mean to you? Once you define it, try to keep that idea of thanks in mind as you proceed through your week.

Now for a little reality check.  Many people I know just let loose when it comes to eating the entire week of Thanksgiving.  They take the attitude that it's so hard to control themselves around such an array of good food that they don't even try. And guess what happens? The food feast keeping going, and going and going...right through the next holiday. And when New Year's day arrives and they are another 5 pounds heavier. Think. Is that what you really want this holiday season?

How many times have you gone shopping for new jeans, sweaters, coats or shirts without looking at the price tag? If you are like me, that is one of the first things I check out.  Why?  If it's too expensive and I can't afford to buy it, I don't want to waste my time looking at it. I have to stay within my budget.  Yes, I could put it on a credit card.  But, I still have to pay for it at a later date.  Buying clothes isn't free,  unfortunately.  I did raise a daughter after all!

The same is true for the food you'll see this week at your Thanksgiving gatherings.  Every item has a price tag. Just because you eat it quickly, standing up, or with no one seeing you, doesn't mean you don't have to pay for it, one way or another.

Thanksgiving Food "Price Tags" 
Turkey, white meat, 3 oz     134 calories    3 units     3 protein
Turkey, dark meat, 3 oz       168 calories    3  units    3 protein
Stuffing, 1/2 cup                  177 calories    3 1/2 units
Mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup    120 calories    2 units
Gravy, 1/4 cup                      30 calories     1 unit
Butter, 1/2 Tbsp                    50 calories     1 unit
Roll                                     120 calories     2 1/2 units
Cranberry sauce, 1/4 cup     110 calories    2 units
Winter squash, 1/2 cup          40 calories    1 unit        1 vegetable
Sweet potato, baked, 1        102 calories    2 units       2 vegetables
Mixed green salad, 1 cup      10 calories    0 units       1 vegetable
Green beans, 1/2 cup             20 calories    0 units      1 vegetable
Vinaigrette, 2 Tbsp                80 calories    2 units      2 healthy fats
Wine, 4 oz                             88 calories    2 units
Pecan Pie, 1/8                      460 calories    9 units
Cherry Pie, 1/8                    304 calories    6 units
Apple Pie, 1/8                      277 calories    6 units
Pumpkin Pie, 1/8                 265 calories     5 units
Whipped cream, 3 Tbsp        30 calories     1 unit
     I am going to challenge you this week to be aware of the price tags. When it's meal time, choose what you want to eat, and put it on your plate.  Sit down. Eat slowly and mindfully.  Enjoy what you choose. And, be thankful...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reflections On A Walk In the Park

Things are looking brighter today. Both literally and figuratively. We certainly had crummy weather last week. Gray and dreary with lots of wind and rain. And then the first snowfall of the year came along with 2 days of temps that didn't get out of the low 40's. Fun. Unfortunately, I have one of those heads that works like a barometer and senses all those atmospheric pressure changes, better known to me as migraines. Gotta love Michigan.

But, back to today. Early this morning, I taught my 3rd "Lose the Fat; Find the Fit" nutrition class at the Y, which was really fun. On the way home, I decided to stop at the park and take advantage of the nice weather. Seriously: sunshine, warmth, light breeze, and blue sky...yes.

I turned my Endomondo app on, and started to walk. With no headphones. Just my own thoughts.  I started observing lots of wonderful, healthy things going on. It's a great park with a paved 1 1/2 mile loop, going around a lake, through some woods---just really beautiful.

I smiled and said hello to people as they passed by.  You know, every single one smiled back and responded. Not one person failed to smile back.  Maybe the world is better than it seems some times. It felt that way today.

And people were really out there exercising. A woman in her 50's had her mother out for a very slow walk.  She was holding onto her mom's one good arm, the other held in place with a sling.  I was thinking how wonderful it was that they were out there together, strolling as they were able, and not just sitting at home eating donuts.

There was a dad jogging and a girl on a little pink bike pedaling and weaving along as they held a constant conversation. Well, she was doing most of the talking. Daddy/daughter time and learning the value of exercise at a young age.

A very tall male Spartan fan was all decked out in his team sweatshirt and green shorts, sporting ear phones as he ran at a good pace. The away football game was going on, and decided he must be listening to the game while he was running. He ran past me 3 times, so I went with that idea.  I was proud of him!

And then there was an extended family of 5, all walking along at their different paces, talking and enjoying the natural areas along the way. Some able to walk better than others, but all out there moving.

I passed a couple in their 20's walking arm in arm. I decided they must be on a date (that's the beauty of being alone with my thoughts...I was free to create my own story line!) I was able to pass quite easily, since they were not out there for speed.  I really liked that they chose going for a walk in the park over sitting at a movie or going out for ice cream.

There were 2 dogs and their owners, one walker and one jogger who went by.  Interesting that neither pet nor owner was overweight. Did you know that vets are having a hard time convincing some of us as dog owners to keep our pet's weight down?  I guess the human obesity rate is spilling over onto our pets.  Bravo to those pet exercisers!

And, of course, the 2 men who were biking.  One was really pushing it and the other obviously had trouble with his knees.  A perfect alternative for them both.

When I finished my 3 miles, I was in a really good mood. And why wouldn't I be? At least these people, around this small lake, in this park, in this area of our country, are exercising, taking care of themselves, and striving toward better health. And I am downright proud of them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stop, Drop, and Roll

First it was the weeks leading up to Halloween.  Aisle after aisle in every store were bulging with fun size black and orange wrapped sweet treats. Some of you shared remorseful tales of having to "re-buy" Halloween candy since it never made it to Trick or Treat night. Alas. I remember those days.

And now, these same stores have diminishing displays of discounted Halloween candy at the back of the aisle while the bright green and red candies of Christmas and a sprinkling of Hanuka blue sweets take center stage at the end cap displays.  Is there no hope for our pursuit of healthy eating?

Those of you in the work place have been struggling with decorative dishes galore of all things candy and weekly food feasts that start in November and don't end until January. Food, food, food.  It's as if we can't walk, drive, talk or turn without seeing foods that tempt us into the dark side.  Does the evil Chocolate Devil show up before Halloween and follow us around prodding up with his sharp little brown pitch fork  until we slide down that slippery, gooey, sweet slide into the endless chocolate pit where souls are apt to be lost until January 2nd?  Sometimes I wonder.

Whatever is going on with these overeating spells, we can get back on the path to wellness! It just takes an ACTION Plan.

All I can think of is a phrase my kids learned in case of fire: Stop, Drop, Roll!

  1. Stop.
  2. Drop. 
    1. Write everything down that just went wrong with your eating and exercise plan for the last hour, the last day, the last week or last month.  Get it all down.  Then look at it.  Now, crumble it all up into a little ball and throw it away.  Just like that. Gone.  Let it go. It's over.
    2. Perform one simple physical action. Snap your fingers, clap your hands, roll your wrists back and forth, whistle, stomp your right foot or breathe in and out forcefully. While you do this, think about bringing yourself back under control.  Repeat whenever you need to get control back.  Research has shown this type of sensory training can help in developing behavior changes like these. Keep practicing this one.
  3. Roll.
    1. Take one positive step. Go out for a walk. Drink a glass of water. Go to the gym. Cut up an orange, put it on a plate, sit down at the table and eat it mindfully with a fork. Once you do this, you are going to feel so much better. It's almost as if the power starts filling you up once again. Your own power of self control.
    2. Take another positive step forward.
    3. And another step. 
    4. Repeat...

Fire UP!!  You CAN Do This!!