Saturday, March 31, 2012

The First 5K for the MM Groupies!

Marcia, Jean, Kristen, Barb, & Patty
A couple months ago, the Tuesday evening MM Group decided they wanted to work toward an exercise challenge that they could participate in together. With Kristen's encouragement, the local Iron Dog 5K fundraiser was decided on. All the proceeds would go to suppport the advanced medical and surgical care of animals at Michigan State University whose owners cannot afford their treatment. This pet loving group decided this race was perfect.

Congrats, P
Today's Race Day brought a cold, gray day, but it was anything but dreary around there. Jean, Patty, and Marcia her dog Dobby, were all fired up for their very first race. What a great atmosphere with music pumping us up as people got their numbers pinned on and dogs settled down for the start.

Dobby Rehydrating 

Since we each had someone to walk with who would be going a similar pace, no one was alone throughout the 3.1 mile route through the Michigan State University campus. Patty noticed how fast the time went by since we were chatting the entire time. A good moderate pace increases your heart rate and breathing pattern to a point where you have the ability to talk but you aren't not pushing so hard that you don't have the lung power left to sing (that, of course, assumes that you can sing to begin with!) This pace is a great level to work out at for your health, but lessens the risk of injury that high intensity brings with it. Either level will burn calories. Patty and I used our Endomondo apps and recorded burning about 300 calories during the walk. Good stuff!

At the finish line, there was nothing but joy. Our entire group finished and did a fantastic job! Dobby showed no sign of fatigue, certainly in good doggie shape. Patty actually placed 5th in her age group, and that included the runners, too! She was so fired up, she immediately started talking about her next race. Love it! Both Marcia and Jean said they would have never done this without the motivation from the group and appreciated that push to just do it. I am so proud of this group. I have nothing but admiration for all they have done for themselves with their weight loss, exercise and perseverance.

Great job, gang! Fired UP, we DID IT!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Too Hard and I'm Ready To Give Up!

Yep. No question from me. It is really hard to lose weight. It's easy to get frustrated and want quit even trying. Been there, done that. But, it is possible to successfully lose weight and keep it off. And giving up is not the way to win at losing...

I had an email from Mary, a desperate follower, who is trying to make good healthy choices to lose weight, but those changes just aren't happening. Trips for soft serve ice cream with the warmer weather, fast food stops while running the kids everywhere after work, and too tired to shop, cook or even think about healthy food choices. And she's ready to throw it all in.

This is the time to dig in your heels, Mary. If you quit trying, what will happen next? Most people end up gaining back the weight they've lost, and add more, feeling horrible the entire time. I know. That used to be me: either losing and feeling good about myself or gaining and feeling like a failure. What finally worked for me was to focus on accepting mistakes along the way, but knowing no matter what, I was going to keep on trying...

The first step is clear: Don't give up! Never quit trying. And don't wait until tomorrow to start anew. The trouble with tomorrow is that you can always use that as a put-it-off technique.

It's time for a 3-step fix:
  1. Take a big, deep breath. Relax and pull yourself together. You are OK.
  2. Now, choose one small healthy focus, a goal that you can fairly easily achieve for the rest of day: drink a glass of water before every meal, walk for 15 minutes at lunchtime, get in 5 or 6 fruits & veggies, or perhaps aiming to sit down before every meal or snack.  
  3. Do just that!
The beauty of this fix is that it takes your focus down to performing one simple task at a time. Something you can do. When you can do it, you do do it. Woo-hoo! Then, you feel one little positive spark about yourself. Each step you take toward that goal makes it easier to take the next. And another. And another. A wonderful chain reaction occurs that helps topple that negative attitude like a line of playing cards standing on end and turn it around into a confident, "I am doing this!" 

Most everyone who loses weight successfully has times when they are ready to give up. It's normal. Your old behaviors are easier, require no thought...but they are what got you to the point of needing to lose weight in the first place. Developing new healthy habits takes focus, energy and time, but it's worth it. You are worth it!

I learned it a long time ago: It's all about perseverance, not perfection.
Fire UP!!! You CAN do this!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St.Patty's Day Springtime Supper

As the weather gets warmer, thoughts of soups and stews sound less appealing, and salad and sandwich meals sound more like it. Be sure to listen to what sounds good to you. If you keep eating those cold weather meals when you don't really feel like eating them, you'll start feeling deprived or bored. And that will just lead to ice cream...

Today was another beautiful sunny day in the 70's. Leftover chicken chili certainly didn't sound good to me, so my husband popped that in the freezer.  I decided corned beef and cabbage sounded fun and perfect for St. Patrick's day. But a traditional dinner of hot corned beef, steamed cabbage and boiled potatoes wouldn't cut it on a day like today. Grilled Reuben sandwiches and a cabbage salad sounded more like it! Before we hit the grocery store,  I grabbed Ellie Krieger's cookbook Comfort Food Fix and found her recipe for Colorful Coleslaw that Cindy, a MM Groupie, provided rave reviews for.  Then I took a quick look at the recipe for Grilled Turkey Reuben's.

A great place to go for some lean corned beef is the deli counter where you can order exactly the amount you need. Since meats such as corned beef are loaded with sodium, getting just enough for one meal provides great portion control.  I love the Boars' Head brand that is available around here. Two ounces of this corned beef is only 60 calories and 2 1/2 grams of fat. But it also brings with it 490 mg of sodium. Since the recommendation is to stay under 2300 mg each day, this meal was a bit of a splurge and not one to partake in too often.

As I often do, I did alter the recipes a bit. Our Reuben sandwiches were made on Pepperidge Farms' whole grain rye bread, since that's the only rye or pumpernickel I could find that is made with whole grain flour listed as its first ingredient. Rinsing the sauerkraut and draining it well before patting it dry helps to get rid of some of the sodium there. We also used a bottled light Thousand Island dressing since I had it on hand already, using just 1/2 tablespoon per sandwich. Easy. I guess Ellie's recipe was more of a guideline!

For the coleslaw, Cindy suggested just using the bagged pre-grated coleslaw mix which already has carrots in it. That was a great time saver. Since I failed to buy fennel, our salad just had that much more slaw mix in it. The only chopping was a little cilantro and slicing up a little red onion (we used half the amount of onion, since a little raw onion goes a long way for my tastebuds!)

And the results? Amazing! The cold salad was simply wonderful with all the colors and fun flavors. And the sandwich was just perfect. The only thing missing was the grease dripping down your fingers and chin from the fatty version of the sandwich I've had in restaurants before. Which is a good thing!

It's important to really enjoy eating healthy foods that taste good. Trying at least one new recipe each week can really help prevent that boring food rut. If you don't have one yet, be sure to pick up a copy of Comfort Food Fix at the library, bookstore, or order it from the My Favorites list in the left hand column of this blog page where you'll find it listed. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Ahead With a Positive Attitude

Beautiful. As daylight saving time greeted us this morning, the weather did a quick turn around. Practically perfect in every way: 63 degrees and sunny all day. Even though our winter was milder than the norm, it still felt long, dark and closed in. A day like today brings with it a refreshing, renewing attitude that we need to really take advantage of.

My husband and I took our 8 year old yellow lab on a 2 mile walk in the park today. Nothing matches the enthusiasm of a dog checking out new territory with fresh scents everywhere! As I walked along the path and felt the sun on my face, I couldn't help but smile. So many people were out walking, running and playing. Many, many more people than I saw while walking all winter long, and they were smiling, chatting and enjoying every step.  We must have seen a dozen or more happy dogs trotting along side their owners. Happy, active beings. Good, healthy stuff.

A change in weather can change your attitude and your actions. When I was done with today's walk in the park,  I felt healthy, happy, and ready to take on the world...well maybe not the entire world. The rest of the day was a day filled with a positive attitude, healthy foods, water and all things good. This is the way it usually works for all of us...

Start tomorrow with one positive action toward your health goal. Drink a glass of water before your coffee, walk during your coffee break, or choose a big apple instead of those chips. Absorb how good that feels. Now watch how the next step toward a positive action is easier. It's a trickle down effect: one positive action spurs on another, and another, and another.

Be in charge of your attitude. Do something positive for your health and watch what it does to your attitude. As Charles Swindoll said, "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes." 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Disney's Habit Heroes

American bodies are getting bigger, and so are the kids. These days, one out of every 3 kids in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Kids carrying extra body fat don't just run the risk of being teased and bullied. Many of these kids develop high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes which is no longer known as adult onset diabetes.  More and more kids are experiencing devastating health problems directly related to obesity. Even First Lady Michelle Obama is crusading for obesity awareness and change with her "Let's Move" campaign.

I love kids. I keep trying to help them learn about good nutrition and healthy habits in fun, easy to understand ways. And, I think Disney was trying, too.  Disney teamed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company to create Epcot's new Healthy Habits interactive exhibit. It opened last month for a "soft launch," but closed temporarily in reaction to negative response.

The idea to create a fun and educational experience is a great one. Small groups travel through rooms with Habit Heroes such as Will Power and Callie Stenics, working to fight bad habits and evil villians such as super-sized Snacker and Lead Bottom. Good vs. Evil. It usually works...

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, NAAFA, is not a fan. "We're appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination." They claim shame is a major message used in the exhibit. Since most of the negative habits are depicted as obese characters, discrimination against overweight people comes into play. The NAAFA also claims that the exhibit failed to tackle the fact that obesity itself is a disease, one of which is not alway simply a matter of changing habits. Genetics, illness and depression can all play a part in obesity. It's as if fat animated characters wear the villianous black hats, and thin characters get the white ones...hmmm...

I have not personally experienced this exhibit. Though I usually applaud most every attempt to help get this message of healthy lifestyle habits across, I am going to side with the NAAFA on this one if they are correct in the way the Healthy Habit characters are depicted.  Keep in mind that there certainly are kids of all ages who do maintain a normal weight and who are eating tons of unhealthy foods and lay around with video games and TV all day. And these kids would improve their health tremendously by seeking out those healthy habits, too.

It's all in the delivery. If kids are eating cookies or chips when they feel bad, making them feel worse about their body image may backfire by making them feel like eating more cookies. 

We all need to work together to teach these kids the habits that we all need to improve our health for the rest of our lives.