Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Almost the new year!

As the new year approaches, the store ads and magazines start showing weight loss products, fitness equipment, and healthy eating advice. I was just looking through Costco's magazine yesterday and although I enjoyed reading the health & fitness articles, I thought it quite a flip from all the sugar and unhealthful, fattening foods geared to Christmas they sold and promoted the last few months.

Usually I wait until after New Year's Day (even until the children are back in school) to get myself focused on my health goals I typically veer away from to some degree each Christmas season. (I am getting better each year, I think, but still don't adhere to my plan completely as I set out to do).

This year, however, I just can't wait that long. Once Christmas was over, I thought "I'm done! I can't eat this stuff anymore!" I'm ready to focus now, not later. So I have. It took me until Monday to get prepared for my eating plan, but I'm doing it. I'm actually doing it amidst everyone home from school, relatives in and out, etc. And instead of feeling like "but there's this party coming up" or "there's still some cookies in the cupboard," I'm fine with focusing now. My health is so tied to how I eat that I don't want to endure the pitfalls anymore. And even when I am fortunate enough to eat something unhealthy and not feel an immediate problem, I know of the long-run problems that can ensue. I'm not willing to take those risks. I've got to be smart about my health.

So what are your goals? I'd love to hear them. For me, I want to eat mostly raw with whole foods for my cooked. I've been dependent on too many high-sugar foods that health food stores carry, so I've told myself they're healthy, but they really aren't. Even if they're made with unrefined sugar or organic ingredients, they are addicting to me and aren't what my body needs. So that's an overall plan for me this 2010 -- to get away from those foods once and for all. Once I'm eating steadily that way, my workouts will improve. When I eat well, I get up at 5:00ish no problem, with vim and vigor and keep up with my fitness rotations just fine. When I don't eat as well, I sleep longer and don't leave enough time for powerful workouts or even meaningful yoga sessions. I miss spending 90 minutes doing yoga.

Off to sleep on this a bit more. I'll share more for the new year in a few days. TTFN!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do what you'll keep doing

There's this phrase that keeps showing up on the Video Fitness forum whenever someone asks "Which workouts help you lose weight the fastest?" or "Which workouts have made the biggest changes in your body?" The answer inevitably comes up "the ones that you'll do." I know many people have had great results with P90X. I will never be one of them. I can't stomach Tony for more than a few minutes in those workouts. I've met him in person and he's really a great guy and certainly an expert in fitness. I could talk to him for hours, I'm sure. But he has this wacky humor and this competitive style that I can't handle for long in a workout. I've tried doing a P90X workout and later his P90X+, but neither appealed to me. So for ME, those workouts would not make a dent in how I looked because I'd never do them.

On the flip side, I've had great visible results with the Slim Series and the FIRM and I love what yoga does for me physically and mentally. Would that work for you? Maybe, if you liked them enough to do them. Some people say it's a body type thing (different bodies respond to workouts differently), but I think the biggest factor is if you'll do the workouts long enough to let them make a difference.

Now of course I relate most everything to eating, so I was thinking the same thing this morning about diets. Someone asked me just yesterday what to do about the weight she'd just gained. Someone else wrote a few weeks ago and asked how she could lose weight fast, like in less than a week. I gave them both answers that I've found to work for me, but realized today that although these are healthy approaches, they will not work for them if they don't stick with it.

So how do you find out what you'll stick with? You do have to experiment. You do have to try a different way of eating than you're doing right now if you want to lose weight. But what will you be able to stick with? I had a friend once tell me that she was doing certain workouts because she needed to lose weight, but she was not willing to change how she ate. She didn't lose much weight. She didn't keep off what she did lose.

You have to be willing to make changes that you will keep doing once you change. No going back. People don't like to hear that. They want to go back. They want to think once they reach their goal, the process can end and the results will stick. I used to be the master at that kind of thinking. I thought as soon as I lost weight or got rid of a health problem by changing my eating, I could abandon that regime and start eating like all the naturally thin and seemingly healthy people do. That never worked.

In looking for your ultimate way to eat, keep in mind that your body will run better on supreme fuel. If the quality of food and nutrient density is high, then your body will be more satisfied and able to stick with your new habits. I am amazed at how little I miss certain foods that I used to eat all the time and thought I would feel deprived without. There are certain foods that haunt me from time to time, but the longer I go without them and the more I learn to love more vegetables, the less room in my life I have for those foods.

Extreme diets don't work because you don't want to stay on them. I heard once when I first looked into eating a high raw food diet that this was the only diet people couldn't wait to get back on when they got off because they felt so good when they were on it. Whole foods taste better and better the more you eat them, too.

Now, I'm sure it sounds like after telling you to do what YOU'LL keep doing, that I'm telling you to do what I do and to eat like I eat. I sort of am. But what I really want to tell you is to find a plan (or eating style) that works for you (making menus or just winging it, planning out snacks before you leave the house or just always having water or a green smoothie with you when away, only eating every 4 hours or eating all day long) amidst the realm of eating a majority of whole foods. You will have a greater chance of sticking with your changes in eating if you get nutrient-dense foods in your body to help you feel as strong and sane as possible.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making changes until they feel normal / The Seat Belt Analogy

The other day I was driving home from taking the children to school. I pulled into my driveway, unbuckled my seat belt, and was about to get out of the car. I saw that I'd forgotten to put a letter in the mailbox a few hundred yards back. I started the car again and drove back down toward the mailbox. As I headed down the hill (seeing wild turkeys running out of my way - - always a fun sight), I realized that I felt a little more free than usual, but not necessarily comfortably, like I was walking with my shoes untied. I'd forgotten to buckle my seat belt. I decided just to stay that way since I was just going down a private road. Nothing illegal about it, no cars around to run into. (I'm sure I could have run off into the ditch or hit a turkey, but I wasn't too worried). But it felt weird to not have my seat belt on. I could feel every bump in the road. I just wasn't feeling as secure as I usually do. I was used to being strapped in and now that I wasn't, it felt strange and uncomfortable. I kept evaluating this uncomfortable feeling because it wasn't always that way.

I thought back 20+ years ago when I was in college and the seatbelt laws went into effect in California. I was going to school in Utah, but would go home during the breaks to California and was aware of the seatbelt law. Not too many people wore seatbelts regularly back then. I'm not sure what my guideline was, but I know I didn't wear them all the time. It wasn't hard for me to remember to buckle up when I was in California, but I remember when I was back in Utah, that I'd feel kind of strange once I did buckle it into place. I felt a bit confined. There was even a mental aspect. When others were in the car and I buckled up (and they didn't), I wondered if they thought I was unnecessarily afraid of crashing. No one ever said anything, but I remember that thought crossing my mind several times. Did they think I was being overzealous? Did I really need to buckle up when I had ridden without a seatbelt for so many years? I was more comfortable without a seatbelt anyway. Why shouldn't I just ride without it?

As the years passed and seatbelt laws became the standard in every state, buckling up became as routine as putting the key in the ignition. It became the norm. I didn't have to think twice about doing it. I didn't mind it at all. I felt completely comfortable with it on.

As I pondered all this a few days ago, I thought about how I shifted from one habit to the other. How what once was normal became a thing of the past and what was once uncomfortable or undesirable became easy and the preferred way. It should be as simple to shift my thoughts about eating as it was for me to shift them with wearing my seatbelt. What is uncomfortable and strange to do at first may very well later become the norm and what I prefer. I've learned this with many eating habits (and with exercise too). I have fought many needs to change, then later realized I preferred the new way. I'm glad that I understand this concept -- that change can feel normal later on. I have more room to change and am glad to know that it's not as difficult to do as it sometimes seems. I've talked with many people who say, "But I don't like to . . . " or "I can't live without . . . " and I think that may be the case now, but we change. We really do. We have adapted over the years and centuries from eating whole foods to processed foods. We can adapt and change right back to enjoying and preferring whole foods if we just work at it for awhile. We have adapted from living physically demanding lives to living with motorized transportaion, indoor plumbing, and jobs that require us to sit all day instead of lift and move. We can teach our bodies to enjoy a physically active life once again.

As you set your goals for healthier living, don't thwart your progress by thinking you can't take a leap like that. Don't fear your ability to adapt to a healthier way of living. Think of the seatbelt analogy and how what was once so standard in so many lives later became obsolete and a new preference took its place. I'm amazed at this whenever I walk down the ice cream aisle and am no longer tempted. I used to have to forbid myself from even going in that aisle because I knew if I saw a sale sign on the Breyer's or a new Girl Scout flavor in the Dreyers, that I was a gonner. I couldn't depend on myself to stick with my goals. But now I can. I have other foods that I prefer and I'm just fine without it. Now to just get that way with Clif bar products. That's one aisle I truly need to keep myself out of for awhile. Best of health to all of you! -- TTFN!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Take advantage of the time change

Spring forward, fall back. I love falling back! Springing forward is okay too, but it's rough getting kids to bed on a school night when it's still light outside and they want to play. What's wonderful about falling back is -- well, the obvious, that first day of getting an extra hour. How cool is that? Who wouldn't love an extra hour to sleep, get ready for church, or just relax on a Sunday morning? I also find it absolutely wonderful each fall when my body is used to getting up at that same time, but now the clock reads an hour earlier. I have been bouncing out of bed at 5:15 for the past few days with absolute ease. This is the moment I've been waiting for since we've moved! I've had the hardest time getting myself excited about getting up early in our new house. I haven't quite figured out why, but it's been a struggle. I've played the resetting the alarm game far too many mornings. It's so nice to be waking up before my alarm sounds off once again and thinking "oh good!" when it finally does go off and I can get up to turn it off. (It's not like I can't get up before that, but for some reason, I just kind of hang out in my bed and think about life until I hear my alarm).

I've loved having ample time to work out. I feel like I'm getting that great start to my day -- no guilt for cutting my workout short because I slept in (or skipping it all together). It was tough fitting my workout in later on, even though I did manage to muster that up magic a few times. If you haven't been taking advantage of this wonderful time of year, hurry and do it before your body adjusts. If you live in Arizona or Hawaii, then you don't get this opportunity. But you could always pretend! I've done that before when preparing for trips to the east coast. I start adjusting my alarm in 15-30 minute increments to get closer to the time zone I'm about to travel to in order to make it not so tough when I get there. Maybe that's not pretending, but if you don't actually go on the trip, it would be, right? Speaking of sleep, it's feeling like it's closer to 11:00 than almost 10:00 p.m., so I'm heading off to bed. TTFN!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hazel's Healthy Halloween

My 10 year old daughter was just looking through our Halloween picture books and told me this is her favorite. "Hazel's Healthy Halloween" has mixed reviews amongst parents (in fact, I remember my mom reading this to my kids once when she was visiting and she said, "Oooh, this is disgusting!") but we've always loved it.

I guess if you've grown up in the dieting era and have seen all the extremes that people go to in order to lose weight, you can see the humor in it. Hazel is an overweight witch who is invited to the Halloween ball and decides, after trying on many dresses that don't fit right, that she will go to fat camp to lose weight.

Hazel's regime and diet is so extreme that it's even understandably absurd to children. She does over a thousand reps of this and that and is only rewarded with cardboard replicas of her favorite, much-missed desserts. After a week at camp, she does lose the desired weight and fits into the sleek dress for the Halloween ball. (I love the rhythm and rhyme of "Hazel is greeted by Boris the Boar, he's never seen Hazel so lovely before.") When Boris asks her to dance, Hazel sees "the spread" over on the table with a giant cake in the middle and decides to go for the food instead of Boris. To which the narrator says, "Hazel, what manners! Don't you care? And look, your dress is beginning to tear." This is the part that grossed out my mom because it is pretty unsightly to see Hazel on the floor stuffing herself with cake, with her dress completely ripping around her stomach -- but I give her the benefit of being a witch -- she can be scary and horrible looking if she wants. She actually wasn't any *prettier* when she was slimmer :)). Anyway, the ending is where it all comes together.

The narrator says, "Dear friends, I'm sorry. It's no use pretending. This is what I call a happy ending." The narrator had given the reader the option of ending the book after Boris had told Hazel that she was so beautiful there at the ball. But the ending the narrator enjoyed was Hazel not starving herself for the man -- just being herself. Granted, she could have gone for the giant bowl of fruit off to the side of the cake, but it's still a fun look at the absurd means many go to in order to lose a few pounds for some special occasion, when it's not going to last as long as the habits aren't solid and sound. And how many of us have dieted to the point of just unleashing and making worse food choice in the end? Certainly, most children won't see any of that in the story, but they enjoy the rhyme, the story, the watercolor pictures and the humor of Hazel going a bit crazy at the end.

On the back cover, it reads:

"Gentle Reader:

Accept yourself the way you are
And you'll be happier by far.
Remember though, whatever you do,
That exercise is good, and
Too much food is bad for you."

I'd probably add in some little blurb about the difference in healthy and unhealthy foods, but it's true that too much food is bad for you, too. This book was written in 1988, a few years before my youngest daughter was born and that was pretty much the focus of dieting then at the time. Calories. Too many vs. really cutting back. I got this book when she was a baby in 1990 (because I sold Discovery Toys for about a year while managing apartments so I could stay home with my daughter). We get it out and read it every year when Halloween rolls around. It's still a family favorite after almost 20 years.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What to do for Halloween

Just the other day, I heard a friend say, "How can anyone NOT like Halloween -- it's centered around candy!" I'm sure that's how most kids look at it. I used to LOVE that we had candy in our home for at least a few days after Halloween. My mom never bought candy unless it was a holiday and even then, it was minimal. In our stockings, we got a candy cane along with a variety of nuts that needed to be cracked and an apple and an orange (in my dad's sock, no less). In our Easter baskets, we got some jelly beans. I used to look at my aunt's chocolate bunny each year with the hope that I'd get one someday (little did I know they were hollow and didn't have 1/2 the chocolate they appeared to have).

On Halloween, my mom bought candy to give to the trick-or-treaters and we'd get as much as we could as we went around the neighborhood. I had four brothers and we ate up the candy as fast as we could. I used to envy my friends who had Halloween in their lunch pails a week, two weeks, or even a month after Halloween was over. Ours was gone so fast.

Now it seems like Halloween candy is available before, during, and after in abundance. The stores start selling Halloween candy before school even starts. I used to be a sucker for holiday colored M&Ms -- I thought they looked so great in fall colors in a glass candy dish. At school, they have candy and a variety of sugary-spooky looking treats in the class and at the carnival (there's something so fun about seeing kids walk around the cake walk to "The Monster Mash.") I'm always impressed with the teachers who keep the candy to a minimum (or not at all) in their parties since they know the kids will get more than enough that night anyway. Our church often has a Halloween party too, as well as other activities with sugar "refreshments" at the end. Then there's the actual Halloween night.

Maybe my memory is fuzzy, but when I went trick-or-treating, each grown-up at the door gave me one candy to eat. It didn't matter if it was little like a tootsie roll or not. We got one piece. Now the people at the doors give a handful to my children, even if it's the good chocolate! I'm amazed. Some people even give out full sized candy bars! Then there's those that set up BBQs and serve hot dogs or hot chocolate in the cold misty weather. I used to love that when I didn't care about what I ate.

About 4 years ago after trick-or-treating with my children, I went back to my friend's house in the busy neighborhood (we've always lived where there weren't trick-or-treaters, so we liked to go where we knew someone so we could come back to their house with our younger children to rest while the older ones kept running around with their friends). We often use this opportunity to dump out the candy bag, sort it into groups of chocolate, favorites, gross candy, toys, and whatever. We had sorted out the candy and I was eating the "good" chocolate right and left. It wasn't long before I had indigestion to the point of embarrassment. I started feeling sore-throatish and by the time we left, I wondered why I succumbed to eating sugar when I knew it wasn't doing my body any good. I was sick for the next few days (flu symptoms) and vowed to clean up my eating once and for all. That's when I explored with eating raw foods and saw tremendous improvements in my health.

That was the year I conquered my battle with candy and Halloween, but I've never been able to figure out how to convince my children to do the same. Some people let their children eat their candy the first night only, then throw it all out. I have such good memories of finally getting candy in the house when I was a child, that I struggled with doing that. Yet, I also have childhood memories of horrible allergies and severe asthma and frequent colds and flus. So how great is that? I don't want to contribute to their health problems if I can help it.

Here are a few things I've done. I'm not saying it's my ultimate. I wish they'd just be happy to do without candy like I am, but this is a start:

* Let them eat their candy for a few days, then tell them to choose their favorites to save for Christmas stockings and the rest gets tossed. They've been pretty willing to do this and don't really end up with that many favorites in the end. Maybe they get tired of eating it too since the candy fest begins before Halloween at school and church festivities. By Christmas, we end up using some of it for little gifts they get asked to bring to school (white elephants or Secret Santas), so very little of it ends up in the stocking).

* After Halloween, offer them a dollar a day for each day they can go without eating ANY sugar up through the end of November. They can use the money for their Christmas shopping. My kids have really enjoyed this tradition. They've even turned down pumpkin pie! They've gotten to where saying "No, thanks, we're not eating sugar" is pretty easy for them. Now to just stretch that out into the rest of the year.

* Talk to them more about what foods are good for them and why artificial foods like candy are so bad for their health. They seem to like the power of knowledge and see food through different eyes after our discussions, even if they don't always turn sugar down.

* Fix more homemade healthier versions of traditional fall treats to fill them up - - banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, cooked apples, baked potatoes (we love those when it's cold!), whatever fruit is in season (especially pomegranates), berry/oatmeal muffins, green smoothies, spiced apple cider. Okay, I realize that green smoothies aren't traditional treats, but they're becoming that way in our home, thank goodness.

* Focus on non-eating ways to celebrate Halloween -- carving pumpkins, lighting the pumpkins or luminaries outside, cutting out bats and other decorations out of paper, making window art decorations, stuffing a scarecrow, singing songs (Gorkin was a Goblin by Tim Cain is a HUGE hit with kids), or just watching a movie together. Hocus Pocus is a family favorite, although that song Sara Jessica Parker sings creeps me out; my older girls used to love "The Worst Witch" -- corny, but fun; my boys loved the Magic School bus about the bats and sound. Or we get out an old sit-com like the Brady Bunch where the kids try to convince the realtor that their house is haunted so their parents won't sell it, or more obvious magical TV shows like Bewitched, The Addam's Family or Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. And the greatest of all Halloween kids movies ever made -- the Charlie Brown movie about the great pumpkin! So fun.

If you have any ideas to share, let me know. I know some parents don't have their children go out trick-or-treating anymore. I just love seeing all the children dress up and go from door to door. I love seeing how excited the people at the door are too to see the childrens' costumes. It's just such a fun community event. Maybe someday I'll move on from that, but for now, we'll continue on and try not to let the candy-eating go too far.

Here's a post that Dr. Fuhrman's wife wrote on this subject a few weeks ago. I wish I'd started as early with my children so they didn't even desire sugar, but I am where I am and I'm glad to be this far in my own journey with healthy eating. My hope at this point is that I can continue to teach my children by example and conversation the benefits and essential-ness (I know, I made up that word, but I can't think of a better one) of healthy eating so they can improve their eating ways as they grow up and teach their children from the start.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wheat Recipes -- Peanut Butter Cookies -- Non-Dairy, Non-Hydrogenated, Unrefined

A few months ago, I promised a good friend of mine (Hi Chris!) that I'd give him my Peanut Butter cookie recipe, made with fresh ground whole wheat flour, unrefined sugar and non-dairy, non-hydrogenated butter. They're super hearty and very tasty! I'm finally getting to writing up the recipe and thought I'd share it with you too. One of my sons says that they taste like you're eating grass (I first thought he said they tasted like "rats" and was offended, but once he clarified, I figured grass wasn't half as bad as rats). He does eat them, though, and the rest of my family loves them (and so does Chris :)). They're a little more dense and crunchy than regular peanut butter cookies and they taste pretty wonderful, especially right out of the oven. (Well, actually, they're pretty good the next day too).

Basically, I sub wheat flour for white, unrefined sugar (evaporated cane juice and/or sucanat) for the white and brown sugar, and Earth Balance buttery spread for real butter or margarine (so as to avoid the dairy and the hydrogenated fat). It's what I do for most of my favorite cookie recipes and they turn out great.

Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance buttery spread (or 2 Earth Balance butter sticks)
1 cup Peanut Butter (I use Costco's organic or Marantha)
1 c. evaporated cane juice (can be found in bulk in most health food stores -- sometimes they'll let you buy it by the huge bag and get a 10% discount)
1 c. sucanat (also in bulk food section of the health food store or in little pkgs. -- the pkgs. get pricey though. If either are very expensive, I just use 2 c. of the other sugar)
2 eggs
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Mix butters and sugars together first. Add in eggs, then the 3 small ingredients. Gradually add the wheat flour until blended well.

Form balls (or use a cookie scoop like Pampered Chef makes ) and place onto cookie sheet or baking stone. Press a criss cross with a fork to flatten out a bit. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Try not to eat too many!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dehydrated Pears -- New Delight

About a month ago, I bought two lugs of pears from a pear farm. The one canned food my children will eat out of the jar is canned pears. So even though I've only canned apples before (successfully anyway, I've tried blackberry jam and it looked like juice), I decided to can the pears too.

I love dehydrating and thought I should dry some of the pears too. But I had this memory of bad textured, bland tasting dried pears from the store. This kept making me throw more pears into the pot for canning. Near the end, I decided just to dry one tray to see how different the pears might taste if I dried them, knowing that the store uses sulphur dioxide and who knows what else to mess up the flavor (and keep them looking less brown). I also dehydrated a bunch of peaches (since I KNOW how heavenly those are) and loaded the rest of the trays up with fruit leather *YUM!*

The surprise of the next day was that the pears were absolutely delicious. Really, really tasty. Nothing like the bland ones in the store. I cut mine thinner than the store's. Theirs seem to be 1/2 pear (although they don't look all that thick). I cut mine into maybe 1/4 inch slices, probably even thinner -- about 5 slices on each side of the middle of the pear, then little thin strips from the 2 sides left over.

I dehydrated them at about 106 degrees overnight and into the next morning. They're okay warm, but are really great cooled down. (I only mention that because peaches, apricots, and mangoes are super yummy warm too -- like eating pie out of the oven).

I was kicking myself for not using a whole lug of the pears to dry. But live and learn. I've bought pears at Costco twice since and have dried them. I took a picture before they went into the dehydrator the other night to show you the before and after, but you know what? I finished them off today before getting a picture of the after. Sorry! I'll add one on here the next time I make them. And for some agonizing reason, my before picture won't download from my camera right now, so I'll have to save that for later too.

Until then, try them for yourself. They're great to just have in a ziploc while out and about or just nice to have handy in the kitchen to nibble on. Such a sweet treat!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dr. Furhman in Italia!

Dr. Furhman, my favorite nutrition expert and author of my favorite books on eating -- Eat to Live and Eat for Health), just wrote on his blog that he took a trip to Italy with his wife of 27 years for their anniversary. It's a wonderful story of how they managed to eat healthy abroad. What was fun for me to read was that it even was a challenge for them. I'd think Dr. Furhman, with such knowledge and experience in healthy eating would breeze through any vacation. Then again, Italy is a land of cuisine with cheese.

Anyway, here's the link (in case you missed it in my hyperlink above). Enjoy!

Blog of Dr. Furhman in Italy

Sunday, September 27, 2009


No, this isn't some profound discussion on how people tend to label others (although that might be a good thought to explore later on). I'm just excited because I've finally found a way to help you find things easier on my blog. I knew there must be a way, that Blogger wouldn't leave us stranded like that.

Look to the right of my blog page and you'll see a little area that says "Labels" and it lists how many posts have that label next to it. Just click on any label you're interested in and it will show you all the posts under that heading.

I wish it gave a mini-directory of them so you wouldn't have to sort through the ones with many, but at least this will help a bit. Those who are new to my blog can start where they are interested and read a variety of posts on the subject, whether it be video fitness, healthy eating, or looking for a few good raw or whole wheat recipes.

There's still the archive that's listed chronologically if you just want to see all the titles, but that can be cumbersome to click on each month individually now that I've been writing for awhile. It's still a resource though, so that's nice. I'll get some more recipes on here to share now that I know you can find them more easily. TTFN!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Overcoming temptation by thinking twice -- my first little trial on my 90@90% challenge

I went shopping today with my youngest 2 children (after taking them to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" -- very cute movie -- not many whole foods falling from the sky, however :)). Anyway, I told them they could each pick out a treat at the health food store. My daughter chose one of my favorite "health food" goodies -- Paul Newman's (or is it Newman's Own?) Double Chocolate Mint Chip cookies. Now I've been known to eat a whole bag just on the way home from the store before. Sometimes I have enough sense to stop part way and roll that bag down with the little sticker that comes with it (like I need it to keep them fresh because I eat them up so fast), but I always finish them up later that day. So it's all the same.

Well, I've taught my daughters that this is a super tasty treat too, so this was her choice. And she said, "I'll share with you, mom. We can eat them together." Not only have I taught her to eat them, but to add a nice memory to them -- togetherness with mom. So while I was processing all that, I was thinking, "Do I turn her down or just have a few as my 10%?" At first I went with, "Well, I won't be able to eat too many" (like that would hurt her feelings), but as I perused the aisles, I knew that wasn't a good choice. If I have 10% cooked, it should still be whole foods or something pretty close. So I told her that I shouldn't be eating any of them since I'm mainly eating raw foods. She was fine with that and I felt a big relief. I knew I couldn't trust myself to eat "just a few" and didn't want to see what that may snowball into. I didn't want cravings for them later either. I truly wasn't craving them then. I was just thinking it would be fun to eat them WITH her.

I ate a Cameo apple on the way home and it was absolutely delicious. That was my treat, it filled me up, and I enjoyed every single bite. I love it when I overcome temptation, even if it's slight. So many times I've done the opposite and have fallen from achieving my goals.

My husband has taught our children a little method of "thinking twice" whenever they want to do something wrong. He talked about how thoughts can just pop in your head and you have the choice of either acting on them, or thinking twice and creating a new thought to replace the old one. I guess that's what I did today -- I started with fearing I'd offend my daughter or miss out on a sharing moment if I didn't eat those cookies. But I replaced that thought with the realization that this wouldn't be good for my progress and that she would be just fine without me eating the cookies. My second thought won. Sometimes I baby my first thoughts because I want them to win so much. But deep down, I know there is room for a better thought. I'm glad I did that today. Onward and upward with my 90 days raw @ 90%!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

90% Raw for 90 Days -- Anyone up for the challenge?

I just heard about a challenge to eat 90% raw for 90 days and I'm going to do it. I've attempted 100% for 30 days so many times I can't even count it, but I do well at 90%. I think I can smooth out the kinks of my high raw eating if I really focus on it this time.

One plan I have is to make sure my diet is high in vegetables. I plan to juice greens and have plenty of green smoothies. If I do this, I won't feel hungry or crave sweet foods all the time. I'll also feel satisfied (and energetic) since vegetables are so nutrient dense. I will have some days when I eat all rawto allow for special occasions (days when I eat more than 10% cooked like going out to lunch with friends), which will be my 10% over the span of a week. Other days, I'll have my 10% within that day and will have several days in a row like that.

I'm going to start this Monday. If anyone wants to join me, let me know. It would be fun to do it together and share our successes. I'll most likely post my daily progress on my other blog (reneeonrawfood -- let me know if you want access), but I will give updates occasionally on here too. If any of you need to start later, I'd still love to hear from you. I'd love to hear what we can accomplish in 90 days. If you're thinking "I can't eat that much raw food," try for 50% at first and gradually increase -- maybe 50% for the first 30 days, 70% for the next 40 and then 90% for the last 30. (Or if you think "50% is good for me" and don't want to budge from there, that still may be a great improvement to your eating). And don't fret if you're estimating the percentages. I'm not going to go crazy over that. If it seems close, I'll be happy with that in my eating.

If you're not the least bit interested in doing this yourself, but want to cheer me on from time to time, I'd love that too. (But my secret wish is that you will join me sometime :)).

My schedule will take me almost to the end of December, just before Christmas. Hopefully by then, I'll practically be on autopilot and will continue on through the holidays and into the new year. What a great way to start the new year!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Collage Video -- Most complete source for Fitness Videos

Long ago (well, let's think -- probably 13 years ago), I was at a friend's house and was thumbing through her Fitness magazine. I'd started doing Denise Austin videos at the time (a few from her Hit the Spot series that I'd found at K-Mart) and found that I was loving doing exercise videos at home. I saw a full page ad near the back for Collage Video, a catalog specifically for exercise videos. There was no internet at this time (that I knew about anyway), no websites for mail ordering. Catalogs were the way to go. This catalog claimed to have videos by fitness experts that never made it to the big chain stores like K-Mart. At the time, the only videos I'd seen at the store were Denise Austin, Kathy Smith, The FIRM (which looked intriguing, but they cost twice as much and my funds were minimal), and some by models like Cindy Crawford and Kathy Ireland.

I asked my friend if I could tear out that page and later called Collage to request a catalog. I've been "in the know" of fitness videos ever since! The catalog rated videos by level of intensity, choreography difficulty, and gave precise details on length and style. They also tell you which are their staff favorites. No more guessing about what the video was like before breaking open that plastic wrap. And Collage had a guarantee that if you didn't like a video, you could return it (I only had to do that once).

Immediately I latched onto the success stories featured in each catalog. I loved seeing the before and after pictures, hearing which videos they used (now they don't mention that specifically) and how working out to videos helped them. I decided right there that I'd be a Collage Success Story. Only weeks before, I'd come to grips with the fact that I'd had 4 babies and my body would just look "like a mom" with the lower belly fat and all that. But the stories in Collage gave me hope that I could break out of that mold. And I did!

I continued on with the videos I had and added a few more to the mix as months went on (Donna Richardson's Donna-Mite, and Karen Voight's Streamline Fitness, still 2 of my favorite videos ever -- truly, these videos are timeless). Eventually I lost that baby weight, took some pictures, sent them in and became a Collage Video Success Story (which not only gets your picture and story in the catalog, but also gives you $100 in free videos). After my next baby was born, I took before and after pictures again and was featured this time on the cover (which got me $200 in credit -- very fun). (If I can get our scanner working again, I'll post the before and afters from those catalogs).

I still get their catalogs (and actually have a Rubbermaid box with all the Collage catalogs I've ever received because they're a great reference for workout details and video fitness history -- plus their just fun to keep). And I frequent the Collage Video website often. Now they have video previews which are great because you can see the set, hear the music and see the style of workout for yourself before even buying. Click on this clip for one of my favorite dvds by Cathe Friedrich if you want to see a sample IMAX2 & Cardio & Weights. If you are ever shopping for fitness videos, Collage is a GREAT place to go.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Faux Plum Green Smoothie Recipe

I don't know if you like to eat baby food, but when my children were babies, I had my favorites. I loved the apricots and the plums. Peaches were pretty good too. But the plums have always been a treasure of a snack.

On Saturday, I made green smoothies at breakfast to stretch the last 2 cups of juice to feed all of my family plus my friend and her 3 children. As I was savoring every single sip as I got to the end of drinking it, I realized that it somehow tasted just like that plum baby food. Not a plum in it, but it truly did. Here's my recipe:

Faux Plum Green Smoothie

2 cups Apple Peach Passion Fruit juice (Kirkland brand from Costco *)
2 big ripe peaches
20 (?) frozen strawberries (maybe more -- enough to fill up about 3/4 of the Vitamix pitcher)
1/2 bunch kale

Blend it up and enjoy!

*If you can't find this juice, any juice with a tang will do. When I've made other smoothies, if I use pineapple juice or any juice w/pineapple or juice w/1/2 fresh lemon, the results are similar to this juice.

Slim Series -- week 1 update

My first week went pretty well. My plan was to do 5 Slim Series workouts and 1 yoga workout. I didn't quite reach my goal. Mid-week, I woke up with a sore throat and a big headache, so I rested up a bit, took some herbs and apple cider vinegar and was better by that evening. I did 4 Slim Series workouts last week, but didn't do my yoga on Saturday (drat!) One of my best friends and her 3 children came to stay with us and we were up way too late and all the kids were sleeping in my workout room (aka the family room) -- so I just called all the walking we did that day my workout. Not good enough, but this week will be better.

As for my stats, they stink! Not a single change in my measurements. I thought I ate pretty well too. So I'm just calling last week a dress rehearsal (although there is some saying about life not being a dress rehearsal). But last week was. This week is the start of my 4 weeks of Slim Training and the inches will fall!

The good news is that I'm finally back to my mega-early morning workouts. Last week I started off with exercising after I took the kids to school. Then I progressed to getting 1/2 the workout done before school and the other half after. By Friday, I was up at 5:15 and finished my whole workout before they got up -- woo hoo!

Today I did the same, so I'm off to a great start. Tone It Up today, probably Mix It Up tomorrow. Back for more later!

Edited to add (9/27/09) -- I took a detour from this Slim Series Rotation. I kept getting sick (maybe I overtrained?) and didn't get many workouts in the next week and didn't feel like coming back to them after that. After doing some cardio and some yoga, I decided to do a similar rotation with Cindy Crawford's workouts for a month. I'll come back to the Slim Series later on and will update then).

Editing again! (11/18/09) -- I started a Slim Series Rotation again a little over 2 weeks ago and have been doing just great! My clothes are getting loser and I am loving each and every workout. After my 4th week, I'll post results. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obstacles for Exercise

Everyone who doesn't exercise has excuses for why they can't exercise. Today, I'm no exception. I haven't worked out in over a week because of this move (see, there's my excuse) and today was to be the day I started my Slim Series rotation.

I could have gotten up at 5:30 to make that happen, but I wasn't ready to start my day quite that early after an abrupt end to our summer (another excuse). My plan was to get the kids off to school for their first day of school, come back home, and work out. I even dressed in my workout clothes first thing this morning so I wouldn't forget.

I took the younger kids to their K-8 school and it started out just fine. My 5th grade daughter ran off to find her class on her own. My 8th grade son took off in another direction. I went in with my 1st grade son to meet his teacher. He loved his class, his own desk, seeing his name on his desk and immediately sat down. I took a few pictures and had him get up so I could get the traditional "1st day of school" photo with his teacher.

I left to find my 8th grade son. I wasn't sure if he'd find his class easily since those rooms aren't marked with the teacher names. I entered the upper grader hall and it was PACKED with very excited and loud chattering young teens. I had to "excuse me" my way through and asked a few stray boys where Mr. Wilkinson's room was. I walked in and found my son and a few other boys in the class. After introducing myself to the teacher and taking a few pictures of my son in his desk (he kept telling me not to -- I would have stopped at one, but he had his hands covering his face, as usual). I overheard the other boys saying "that kid's in my seat." I've never seen bullies in action before, but these kids fit the bill. I would have loved to have said "Hey, he can sit there if he wants" but I know that meddling moms aren't an 8th grade boy's idea of being helpful. So I just watched a bit. The boys wore black with skulls on their shirts. The one talking actually had a wide black wrist band with metal studs. Ack! I didn't see these boys as a threat -- just little punks who probably didn't understand much about their value in life.

Eventually my son got up from his chair and kind of looked around for where he should be. I asked the kids as they wandered over, "Do you have assigned seating in this class?" and they said they did. The teacher corrected them and said, "You can sit where you want now, but I'm going to switch you around later" to which they moaned and acted like they should be able to because that's where they sat last year. He told them he knew them well enough to see where they should sit.

My son recognized another boy from church coming into class. He walked towards him, but that boy didn't notice and started talking to someone else. I wanted to make it all work, but knew I had to leave. My son sat in the back by himself and the bell rang. I left and immediately burst into tears. In all our years of thinking of moving, this was my only concern. This particular child has thrived in the nurturing country school where we used to go. He was there from Kindergarten until last year and I took him away from all that. He doesn't make friends easily. He's meek and wonderful. It just broke my heart to walk out, knowing that he wasn't cared for in any way. The nurturing environment was gone.

I tried to go take a picture of my 5th grade daughter, but her door was closed and class was beginning. Being a new mom, I didn't know the teacher at all to just peek my head in (like I'd do at our old school) and say "I just need to take a picture" and would do it super fast. So I just walked away, compounding my sadness.

I decided to go look at the 8th grade class one more time to see if anyone sat by my son. I walked back down and looked through the classroom door window. No one was sitting by my son in the back. I managed to find my sun glasses as I walked out the second time so I could hide my sadness. The first day of school has always been such an exciting day for our family and I could see it in the other parent's eyes. I didn't want them to see my eyes today.

So I've been crying & praying most of the morning. I don't feel like working out. I'm drained and I'd rather just take a hot bath or go back to bed. But you know what? I'm not going to do that. I still have on my workout clothes. I know where my weights are. I have my Slim Series dvd in the dvd player ready to go and I'm going to do it. Debbie will smile and help me through this next hour and I'll be glad to focus on something else. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. We shall see if I'm glad I did it or not.

Edited to add: My son is doing much better in school. He's been hanging around a good group of boys from church and seems pretty happy when he comes home. He never tells me much about it, but I've heard from the other moms (and one teacher) that he's been having fun with these boys, jokes around with them, and feels quite comfortable. *phew!*

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Slim Series time again!

I've done the Slim Series rotation 4 or 5 times, that I can recall. (I'm referring to the 4 week Slim Training rotation, if you're familiar with the booklet -- there are a few to choose from and this one is the most advanced, consisting of 5 Slim Series workouts each week plus one stretch day. They provide Cool It Off, but I usually just choose a yoga dvd instead). The first time I did this rotation, I needed to lose 25 pounds after having my last baby (and who knows how many inches). I measured at the beginning and continued to measure each Monday morning for the 4 weeks. I didn't weigh myself until the end. I've since lost the record of my measurements, but I remember losing between 3/4 and 1 1/2 inches in various areas every single week. It was the most motivating news I've ever had with a workout.

By the end of the 4 weeks, I did some other workouts for variety and came back to the Slim Series a month later to lose the rest of the 25 pounds. It was gone and that was great!

When I did my interview for the Slim in 6 interview (which they didn't use on the infomercial, besides my little "I lost 25 pounds!" blip), they asked me to mention that I'd kept the 25 pounds off for 2 years afterward. As always, I like to explain away any thought I have. I wasn't content to just say "I've kept the weight off for 25 years" because for me, that's not as simple as it sounds.

When I was younger than 38, I could lose weight, keep exercising, and keep the weight off without too much fan fare. It wasn't like I was just reverting to old eating habits, but if I got off track a bit, I wouldn't gain weight. It was pretty magical and wonderful. As long as I kept going with my workouts, I was fine.

After my last baby was born (at 38), that all changed. Yes, I lost weight with the Slim Series and by integrating a host of other workouts afterward, BUT if I wasn't completely careful with my eating, I'd gain 5 or so pounds without even realizing it. This especially happens when I eat foods with flour, even wheat flour. This also happens when I get off track while travelling or by baking too much over the Christmas holidays (even with seemingly healthy ingredients). Now I get to add "during a move" as another way that weight can creep on. So MY definition of keeping the weight off is taking it back down as soon as it goes up. It's never very steady. Well, I shouldn't say "never," but it's not always that steady. I want it to be. It's my goal to make it that way. I'm sure eating is key. But exercise plays a big role too.

With all that in mind, it's time for me to do the Slim Series rotation again. I've been doing Cathe's Shock Training System (STS) for the past few months and was hoping to do her Meso 3 cycle next (with her 4 Day Split dvd set). But as much as I wanted to keep up with that in this move, I wasn't able to with all the boxes and furniture that got set up where I imagined they wouldn't, with all the chaos that comes with moving, no matter how much I tried to prevent that. I feel like my post-STS body has left me and I'm starting from scratch again. Hopefully that isn't the case and I've kept my strength gains. I'll see if that's true when I start on Monday. But I need to start with some workouts very familiar to me (I've done these workouts over and over for 6 years now), that take minimal equipment and space, and that deliver results so I can feel good in my clothes again.

I've never chronicled my results with the Slim Series on my blog before because I haven't done the rotation in full since I started blogging. I just mix them in here and there. However, every time I've done the Slim Series rotation, I've gotten amazing results. I'm not sure how it works for me, but it works better on my body than any other workout series. As much as I love Cathe's workouts (and do them often), they've never caused me to lose inches or weight like the Slim Series has.

So I'm ready to share my progress with you as I go. I'm not going to tell you my starting measurements, but I will tell you how many inches I lose each Monday in each area and how much weight I lose at the end of the 4 weeks. I'll also let you know how my eating is. I plan to keep the raw food ratio high and drink my green smoothies. Less baking and refined foods (yeah, even health food store versions, which seem to be my mainstay in this packing/unpacking process).

I'll be back on Monday just to let you know how the first workout went. I'm sure it will be great to work out with Debbie again. Love her!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Moving, moving, moving

Yes, I'm singing in my head:

"Movin' movin' movin',
though they're disapprovin',
Keep them dogies movin',

Okay, enough of my singing, but yes, we're in the midst of a move. Somehow my eating is in check. I'm not making as many green smoothies as I usually do, but I'm eating lots of fruits, some vegetables and mostly whole foods.

I've researched the city in which we'll live and have found they have a Whole Foods store, a Trader Joe's (yay!) and a locally owned natural food store. I love the locally owned health food stores here in our area, so I e-mailed the manager of the one there and asked how it compared to the 4 stores here (we're just 3 hours away on the coast and many people inland come here, so I thought there was a chance she'd be familiar with our stores). She wasn't, but she told me they have 12,000 sq. feet of groceries, supplements, bulk foods, produce, etc. I'm excited. She also told me that when I get there, I should ask for her by name and she'll give me a personal tour of the store. I'm sure I don't need a tour, but it was such a sweet gesture after our e-mailing back and forth that I'm definitely going to take her up on it.

I did a Google search for a Farmer's Market there and they have several running from April through December. So that will be fun.

As for my workouts, I've packed my exercise dvds in plastic boxes that I can easily access in my closet right now. I've only packed the fitness equipment that isn't used in the workouts I'm doing in my current rotation (Cathe Friedrich's 4 Day Split series). I figure with the U-Haul truck getting loaded on Friday, they'll most likely disconnect the stereo system and TV and put it on the truck. However, I could use my laptop for my Saturday morning workout (even though the sound won't be all that great). I'll load the dvds, weights, barbell, step, mats, etc. that I'm using in the back of our Denali so it won't get lost in the process of others unloading the truck. Then when we get to our new house, I can personally take my fitness gear into the room I'll use for workout (we have THE MOST GIANT family room in our new house -- I'm so excited to have ample room for stepping!) and can just pick up with my workout on Monday as usual.

It all takes a little forethought, but it can be done (and it will keep me sane :)).

Happy trails to you all! I'll be writing more in a week or so after we're all settled in our new home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Timesaving Yoga Sessions

A friend asked me yesterday if I knew of any dvds that had quick yoga sessions (20 minutes at the most, preferably 10 minutes if possible). I thought I'd write about it in case more of you are wondering the same thing. I told her about my very favorite, but I'll list a few other options, in case you want to explore or have variety. I mentioned these briefly in a previous yoga post over a year ago, but here's a bit more:

My top pick is Quick Fix Total Mix Pilates/Yoga with Tracy York and Suzanne Donegan. The front cover shows Tracy York, but not Suzanne -- they show a model instead (I don't know why Quick Fix often does this on their workouts), but you can learn Suzanne's names in the credits if you're curious like I was. I already knew who Tracy York was. She does many other workouts with Michelle Dozios (formerly Nevidomsky) like the Breakthru Step workouts. But Tracy isn't my favorite. She's okay, but her voice is a bit high and I got tired of hearing her instruction for something peaceful like Pilates -- I like her better for cardio. Plus she spends a lot of time building up each move and I just wanted to get to work.

Suzanne, on the other hand, is a wonderful yoga instructor. She cues enough to let you know what proper form is (like teaching that your feet should be placed with all 4 corners evenly balanced) and her demeanor is peaceful and pleasant. The music is nice and the moves are just right. There are 4 yoga segments at 10 minutes each: Yoga Energy, Yoga Strength, Yoga Flex, and Yoga Challenge. You can do one alone or click on them in succession in the order you like for a combination. It's not super challenging, more soothing and restorative. I don't know how to gush over a yoga instructor, but I either like doing yoga with someone or I don't. And there are a few with whom I just love doing yoga. Suzanne is one of those very few.

I've used this dvd most either for a 10-20 minute add-on to a workout or with all of them in a row for a longer yoga session. I used to own it on VHS before we had a dvd player. It was called Quick Fix Core Yoga then. I like it better on dvd though because I can customize my own workout or skip around. This dvd is no longer available retail, but you can still find it used on Amazon, half.com, ebay, etc.

Another great add-on or brief yoga session is a bonus feature on Crunch Candlelight Yoga. The main yoga session is about 45 minutes long (and is just wonderful -- it's about the least challenging yoga dvd I've done, but it still feels great and definitely worthwhile to do). This is one of Sara Ivanhoe's early yoga productions (she did Crunch Joy of Yoga and Fat Burning Yoga earlier and has since done her 20 Minute Makeover series and her recently produced her own dvd Yoga on the Edge.

The bonus is called Yoga Energizer and it's only 15 minutes long. Its title suggests it's an energy boost for the morning (and it can be), but it's also a nice add-on to any workout or as a stand-alone at night.

Yoga Zone dvds are also fun short yoga gems. They have a slew of Yoga Zone dvds in the 2 -20 minute session format. The first Yoga Zone videos were an hour long (and are led by Alan Finger, my favorite being Conditioning & Stress Release) and are filmed indoors, much different than the following series. The shorter ones I really like are filmed in Jamaica outdoors in a beautiful bright setting with upbeat, yet soothing music. The dvds are made up of 2 segments from a Yoga Zone tv show (which I never saw). You can buy a boxed collection (or this one), but I would get them individually, because I have some favorites and some that just left me thinking I wouldn't care if I never did it again.

My favorite Yoga Zone dvds are: Yoga Sculpting, Evening Stress Release, and Sunrise & Sunset. I didn't really care for: Total Body Conditioning (too many prayer poses), Gentle Yoga for beginners (way too gentle), and Introduction to Power Yoga (I wanted to like it -- I love power yoga, but the poses just didn't feel right to me). I think I've tried Yoga for Abs and Yoga for Weight Loss and have liked them, but it's been awhile and I can't remember. I've loaned out many of these and haven't gotten them back and it's hard to keep track.

The only other short yoga session that I love, but I didn't think to mention before because it's the only yoga on this dvd (and is just 10 minutes long) is the yoga on the original 10 Minute Solution with Michelle Nevidomsky-Dozios. There are a ton of 10 Minute Solution dvds now, but the original one that stood alone for many years was a combination of 5 different exercise methods (going off of memory, Bootcamp, Kickboxing, Ballet, Pilates, and Yoga). I had this back in VHS-only days and had to FF and rewind all the time because I mostly liked the latter two. This was my introduction to Pilates and it's still one of the most challenging 10 minutes of Pilates I've done. Doing it back to back with the yoga is just perfect because after working the core and legs with the Pilates, the yoga is a calm and relaxing (as well as helpful for your flexibility). I still use this yoga to add onto other workouts and it never gets old. Pretty good for a video that is 10 years old!

Now you have some quick yoga options. No more excuses if you don't think you have enough time!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Conflicting thoughts

The other night something stressful happened. I'm not sure what it was. It could have just been the daily chaos that comes from my children running around, all needing me at once, etc. This feeling swelled within me that I really needed to eat some ________ (fill in the blank) - - chocolate, homemade bread, SoDelicious "ice cream," homemade cookies, whatever. This seemed like it would help solve the situation, make things balanced and peaceful again.

At the same time, I had a conflicting thought. If I were just ____ pounds lighter, life would be better and I wouldn't even care if this stress arose.

I realized the contradictions in my thinking, not to mention the lack of logic. I also recognized how often these kinds of thoughts enter my mind throughout the day. Part of me is thinking that so much in life would be better if I could lose a little more weight and the other part of me is thinking that I would feel so much better if I ate more, more food. If I did the latter, the former wouldn't be possible. If I wanted to do one, I'd have to give up the other. One has to win out. I have to give up the other. Which will it be? If I hold onto both desires, I'll forever be disappointed. I'll never be content. I've battled this out in my mind since. (Yes I do lead a normal life amidst this and even accomplish some things, but my mind is a busy place :)).

I'm thinking the eating response needs to change. It's probably not healthy (or sane) to have either thought all the time, but I need my eating to come from a desire to nourish my body, not cure my emotional needs.

I'll do an update post at the end of July and will let you know how I do with changing my conflicting thoughts. TTFN!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I must have eaten 6 or 7 peaches today. They were so ripe and sooooo good. These were from the store, but we used to live where peaches grew right behind our house. Some nights, I'd go pick a bowl full of peaches and we'd just eat them all for dinner. The sugar content was so high right off the tree. But today's peaches from the store were pretty wonderful too.

I just realized as I wrote this that I planted a peach tree today too. I bought a bare root peach tree from Costco a few months ago (maybe even as far back as February). I'm not that great at keeping up on gardening, but saw that they were selling peach trees and thought maybe I could get it to grow here (even though I only know of one person in the whole county who has peach trees that produce -- and she says it's only once every 4 or 5 years). I guess I was hopeful though, so I bought it. Then I let it sit on the side of the house in it's little root ball bag and wondered if it would survive. It rains enough here that it seemed to do well. We had a spell of sunshine and my gardening friend told me I should move it to the side of the house. I did and it's lived there since.

This morning, however, I saw that the leaves looked dry (see, I'm not completely oblivious to the needs of my dear plants, but pretty close, actually). I had a big bag of top soil and decided the time had come to plant it in a big pot. I would have just put it in the ground, but our house is for sale and I'd like to take it with me. It's not like I don't think I can buy another one when we move (and the thought that this might not survive a move did cross my mind), but I seriously doubt it ever will produce fruit here, so it's probably better off going with us to Southern California.

So I ate a bunch of peaches and I planted a peach tree. How peachy is that? Here are some nutritional peach facts (for just 1 peach) in case you're curious:

One medium peach (with skin) contains 1 gram dietary fiber.

Potassium - 193 mg
Phosphorus - 12 mg
Magnesium - 6.9 mg
Calcium - 5 mg
Selenium - .4 mg
Also contains trace amounts of iron, zinc, manganese and copper.

Vitamin A - 524 IU
Vitamin C - 19 mg
Folate (important during pregnancy) - 5.5 mcg
Niacin - .97 mg

This chart doesn't include all the phytonutrients recently discovered (and rarely listed on labels), nor those yet to be discovered.

I also love dehydrated peaches. They are so yummy warm out of the dehydrator -- they're better than peach cobbler! They're excellent days, weeks, & even months later. I just have never had them last for more than a week. We eat them faster than we can make them. Just slice them and dehydrate at 108 degrees over night. Make sure there aren't any moist spots left or they will mold (learned that the hard way my first time). I throw sliced peaches into my sprouted wheat cracker recipe too. (I can't seem to find that recipe on my previous blog posts, so I'll post it tomorrow.)

Peaches are also great in green smoothies. I often throw one in place of a banana in my smoothie recipes. Gives that sweet, creamy taste and texture. They're also good just blended by themselves. When I was 12 (I only remember this because it was the bicentennial year 1976), my aunt got married and I helped cut up fresh fruit for her reception. They had us peel peaches and blended up the peelings for us helpers to drink. It was amazingly good and something I've never forgotten. TTFN!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Writing a book!

Well, it's official -- I'm writing a book! I just wanted to let you know so you could say you knew me when :). My husband is an artist and I love to write. We have 6 children and feel like we're pretty good experts on what kids love.......and I've always wanted to write books. So I'm going to merge that desire, his drawing talents, and my undying passion to help others eat healthy foods by writing some children's books that somehow teach children to eat real food, but in a fun way.

I've been wanting to do this for awhile, but have been afraid of failure. Pure and simple. That time is over. I may still fail (at first anyway, and maybe over and over), but I'm going to get my pen rolling and will keep going until I find a way to make it work. Fun stuff!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vacations and Weight Gain

Vacations and weight gain -- do they have to go together? They seem to want to. I'm not sure what it is, but most of the time when I go on vacation, I gain weight. I've tried all sorts of things to remedy this -- bringing produce in the car for snacking, bringing my step, weights, yoga mat, videos (even TV/VCR combo to one reunion back in the days before portable dvd players or laptops). I usually do pretty well the first few days, but somehow that "I'm on vacation" mode tried to extend to vacationing from my healthier ways of eating and I get off track.

Fortunately, I don't travel that often. My mom is a school teacher and travels most of the summer and on each holiday break. She ruins her weight loss progress every time. I only do it maybe one or two weeks out of the year. Still, it's enough to frustrate the process and interfere with my journey in health.

I just drove through 3 states to get my daughter back to college for summer term. I didn't plan all that well. It was my "rest week" in my exercise rotation -- so that worked well. I was supposed to do less intense workouts all week, so I brought my yoga mat and went for walks as much as possible (went swimming one day). Driving 15 hours each way (divided into 2 days each time) certainly doesn't help though. I was sedentary and was eating much more than usual to keep myself awake and from going stir crazy. Visiting friends and relatives can present challenges too, but I think I'm getting better at handling that. I still didn't do as well as I'd hoped though and came back to my scale 5 pounds heavier.

I have one more vacation planned later this summer and am going to do the following to prevent the weight gain and to ensure I stick with my eating ways:

  • Bring a cooler with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies
  • Continue to replenish cooler as trip progresses with fresh foods
  • Make green smoothies beforehand and freeze several to take in cooler
  • Drink plenty of water (I found myself dehydrated 1/2 way through this last trip)
  • Use that yoga mat every night before bed or each morning before shower
  • Question self if the fake foods are worth it. Stick with whole foods, fresh if possible.
  • If I eat out, split a dish or just get the side order.
  • Stay away from bread -- it causes weight gain abroad just as much as it does at home.
  • If the *vacation* mindset starts to creep in, chase it away with a dose of reality.
I'll let you know how I do at the end of the summer. I've practiced many of these tips before and have done well. For now, I'll endeavor to get these extra weight off well before that next trip. TTFN!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fat pants -- to keep or not to keep

Definition of "fat pants" -- the pants you used to wear before you lost weight or had to buy because you gained weight. There isn't a particular size that determines pants to be "fat pants" -- they are just the bigger pants in your closet that you have to wear when you gain weight or have on hand in case you gain again.

Now the question often comes to me, "Should I keep my fat pants or get rid of them?" Some people (we could call them experts, but what exactly is an expert in the fat pants field?) say that as soon as you lose weight, you should get rid of your fat pants. Otherwise you are just keeping the option open to gain weight -- making it easier because you know you have the wardrobe for it. Some say if you wear your fat pants when they are a little roomy, it may make it so you don't notice when you do gain weight. I doubt that though. I always can sense how my clothes fit and when that's changing whether the pants start out baggy or not.

Others say that you should wear comfortable clothes when you gain weight. I know when I gain weight, it's twice as discouraging to walk around in tight pants (not to mention uncomfortable). After I had my last baby and was 20 pounds heavier than usual, I heard Dr. Phil say that when you're trying to lose weight, you should wear clothes that you feel good in so you are in a positive mode. You'll succeed when you feel good about yourself. I actually went out and bought a few new pairs of "fat pants" that I could feel good in after hearing this and it did make a difference in how I felt until I was able to get back into my other clothes.

Now I have a bit of both. Mostly I have my weight loss clothes -- the ones I wear when I'm at the lower end of my weight range. (I tend to fluctuate up and down 5 pounds all the time -- sometimes up to 10 if I'm not careful around the holidays). Then I have a size up of pants that I have to wear when the weight has crept on and the others are too tight. I don't enjoy being that size, but it sure is more comfortable to wear them.

And yet I wonder . . . would it be better when I am at the lower end of my weight to just give the bigger sized pants to the thrift store and vow to never need to wear those clothes again? It would be nice. But I just fear I would gain the weight for whatever reason anyway then have only snug clothes to wear. Hmmm. Perhaps I should go a whole year without going up a size first just to see if I can do it. It's not like my clothes are so trendy that someone will miss out on the fashion of the season if I wait that long.

It would be nice to have weight maintenance mean always sticking with that particular weight, but for me (at least for the last 5 years), weight maintenance has been more like a pilot flying on course. He's not really on course the whole time, he's veering off, then getting back on, winds blow the plane off a bit, then he gets it back on the path again. I'm not really yo-yoing, just steadying myself to stay about where I feel most comfortable and healthy. Maybe that steadying range will get smaller and smaller, so I don't have to hold onto quite so many clothes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The good, the bad, and I hope nothing ugly

Well, I thought about just deleting yesterday's post -- that would be an easy way of getting out of writing what I ate today. I could also wait a day or two (or three) until I got it right before I posted and hoped that no one minded. But that wouldn't be what I said I'd do. So I'm writing to share the good and the of what I ate today.

The Good:
Morning -- Apricots and some apple, fresh raspberries,
Odwalla Superfood
Noon -- See "the bad"
A few hours later -- Veggie sandwich on this new whole grain round bread that's very fibery (see pic -- this bread, but my own veggies and no cheese or bacon -- I should have just taken my own picture, huh?) with avocado, spinach, romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, red onion, carrots, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and pepper.
Night time -- Odwalla Superfood
Later -- a few peanuts

The Bad:
Noon -- Chocolate Mint Builder Bar -- not super bad at the outset, but after eating it (which I only ate because I'd been at a school concert practice at the school, came home, had just an hour to clean the house before a house showing, so I ate something I didn't have to prepare), I just wanted more and ate another one -- so 2 in a row. Not the best thing.
Afternoon -- Remember those new little Oroweat sandwich rounds? I ate two more of them after eating my sandwich. What was I thinking? I was full! (but they were good, so that's probably what I was thinking)
Later -- Nuts over Chocolate Luna Bar -- more chocolate -- I ran errands while being a bit hungry and ended up eating one from the car on the way home unplanned. It tasted so plastic-y sweet to me that I determined I wouldn't want one next time. We shall see if I remember that. I had one oatmeal cookie (the healthier version that we make here at home -- whole wheat, Earth balance butter, unrefined sugar -- but still -- it all adds up)
Tonight - - I don't think I ate much before the Spring Concert, but came home and decided to have some SoDelicious Soy Ice Cream because . . . well, no good reason. I wasn't tempted by any of the desserts at the concert, but came home and thought "now would be a good time to eat that SoDelicious" since I didn't have any of the dessert at the concert. Not very logical.

So the over all pattern I'm trying to break here is not eating all these Clif bar products and soy ice cream -- too many grains too. Dealing with the first problem first, if I'd stop buying the stuff, that would make it easier. But if I do have it handy, I need to go for the fresh whole foods first and leave those for rare moment or at most, once a day.

I'm going to post again when I have an ideal eating day. My morning really was good. It just unravelled later on.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Everyone needs accountability in sticking to a goal that they've set. That's particularly true with fitness goals, whether it's eating or exercise. People like to have exercise buddies -- someone to go on a run with or to check-in with online or on the phone to report their workouts. With eating, it helps too to have a friend or relative to either compete with (one friend of mine is having a "Biggest Loser" contest with her brothers and sisters right now) or to motivate. My mom once said she'd pay me $100 if I lost my college weight . I've checked in with friends on the Video Fitness forum for years with my workout. I've e-mailed friends about my eating goals, working side by side with them. Sometimes I can do it alone, other times it's extra helpful to have someone to be accountable to.

Well, guess what? I need you to help me with my accountability. In the past (well recent past -- since I've really improved my eating habits), I've found that once I get going with eating better, I do really well. It's almost effortless. But those first few days are crazy hard. I've been experiencing this crazy hard phase for the past few months. Ever since I was sick in February and my appetite came back, I've struggled with eating healthy consistently. Oft times I'm eating healthy foods, but am eating too much of the grains and healthy sugars. Too much of a good thing is still too much. I've been gaining weight and I don't like having my pants fit so tight.

So I bought a new scale at Costco this afternoon. My friend (the one doing "The Biggest Loser" with her family) borrowed my scale over a month ago and I've found it has been easier to ignore the weight gain without *really* knowing the facts. That time is over. I'm weighing in tomorrow morning and my glory days of eating too much are gone. Time for glory days with self-control.

I don't want to do this, but I'm going to *ugh* plan out my eating before I eat it. I am so bad with saying "this is what I'm going to eat tomorrow" or even the next meal in specifics. I like the freedom and the whim of eating whatever whenever. I don't think this chaotic approach is all that helpful. So I'll write in here each morning, noon, or whenever what I'm going to eat and what I do eat for 30 days. Think I can do it? I'm thinking now I may be a little crazy, but I've got to do it so I can get back in the driver's seat. I love self-control more than I love to just eat what I want when I want it.

I'll log the first day on this blog (and copy it to my reneeonrawfood blog so I can have it all recorded there). After that, I'll do the details on that blog and will just comment on aspects of what's on my mind with it all on here. If you want to have access to the other blog, just let me know and I'll add you on. I restricted it a few weeks ago because I started feeling like I was writing that out to the whole world and for some reason my lack of perfection there seemed like something to keep more private -- like any of us are perfect. But those were my thoughts and hesitations at the time. Perhaps I'll change it back later on.

See you tomorrow on here. *Hanging my head like "what have I done?"*

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sleepiness as Motivation

Yes, this is another post about eating. It's what I think about. It's what I write about. This morning I could not get my body out of bed. I could not even get my head to move to look at the alarm clock. I didn't want to move. I managed to reset my alarm and then I didn't sleep much in all that time because my daughter's cell phone alarm went off over and over for the next hour. Did that make me think "Just get up!" No, not at all. I couldn't. I was in a fog.

I thought about how easily I'd gotten up yesterday and the day before. I was eating really well all week. But yesterday I got off track a bit -- I can't even remember with what right now -- oh yeah, a Kashi apple cereal bar and some Kettle Chips. This may not sound all that major, but for my body, it makes a big difference in my energy and sleep needs.

When I came back home from taking my children to school (our school is so little it doesn't have buses), I crawled back under my covers and slept for 2 more hours. I didn't feel like working out after that either. But after a day of eating well (mostly raw foods, a few green smoothies, a ton of veggies on a toasted wheat roll for dinner -- yum!), I felt good tonight and finally got to my workout that was planned for this morning.

I was tempted a few times today to eat some snacky things like Annie's Chocolate Bunny Grahams (they taste like the tops of Oreos to me -- but even better), but my mind went to how I felt early this morning compared to how I felt the mornings before. I didn't want to feel so groggy again tomorrow. I wanted vim and vigor to start my day off right. I've seen this connection in my life for months, even years. But it takes time to get it instilled in my brain. Why is that?