Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lessons About Exercise DVDs

I have purchased my fair share of home fitness DVDs and have recorded exercise programs straight from the T.V. as well. The T.V. screen speaks to us daily, but it doesn’t always motivate us to get up off our feet and moving.

Here’s what I have learned about exercising in front of the T.V. screen:

1. Exercise requires discipline.
Any form of physical exercise requires motivation and effort. Whether you get up and go to the gym or get up and move furniture in your living room, you just need to do it.

2. Some DVDs work for home exercise and some just don’t.
• The first exercise tapes (yes, I said tapes) I ever purchased were Tae Bo tapes with Billy Blank. They had enough variety to appeal to me and the boxing moves were unique enough to keep my interest. I actually used those tapes frequently and even go back to them occasionally today.
• The DVDs that do NOT transfer to living room exercise include the likes of Zumba. Something about dancing and whooping it up by yourself in your living room just doesn’t work. Zumba is a group workout. Part of the fun of the Zumba Zoo is squealing along with other dance-crazed individuals. Another DVD theme that just doesn’t work in my living room is a Walking Workout. I was recently given a Walking DVD as a gift and found it to be boring with a capital B. I love to get outside and walk and I just can’t figure out why I would want to march in place in my living room instead.

3. The instructors leading the DVDs should be in AWESOME physical shape.
If I am being led by individuals who look as out of shape as me, I wonder how effective the workout is. The same is true when I go to aerobics classes. If the teacher in the class isn’t in fantastic shape (and I know SHE is doing the workout 4-5 days a week), I question the results I can expect. If you are a trainer, aerobics instructor or DVD coach, your personal fitness sells your product and/or services. Motivate me by example!

4. Some homes accomodate exercising in front of the T.V. better than others.
I have always had to move furniture in order to exercise at home. None of my living rooms have ever been easily transformed into workout areas. Some people are blessed to have basements or rooms devoted to working out. Others require some challenges finding the space you need. But in most cases, there ARE ways to accommodate your spacial needs.

5. Children and pets can create challenges.
When my children were small, they always saw my exercise time as fun time for them. Almost every DVD or T.V. fitness show includes high energy music, which every child loves. Additionally, there are few children who don’t want to try leg lifts or arm stretches for themselves when they see mommy doing it. Pets can often get worked up by the music and activity levels too. Unless your pet is used to seeing you moving all over the living room, you may find that Fido thinks it is playtime too.

Every ‘at home’ exercise program is going to have challenges. Getting up and getting started is the key.
Speaking of: Time for me to put on my walking shoes and head outside for a long walk.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Apple a Day Keeps the Pounds Away

For years doctors have been touting the benefits of apples. Apples have healthy advantages that many other fruits do not provide. Apples contain less sugar than many other fruits, and are also high in fiber.

Many people crave crunchy foods and the texture of apples often satisfies that desire. Additionally, the lower sugar content in apples helps keep insulin levels balanced. In turn, apples may help individuals avoid the ‘need to eat’ syndrome that is created by sweeter fruits like bananas. The fiber content in apples helps improve cholesterol levels too. Some studies even show that people who eat an apple before meals tend not to consume as many calories during meals. Individuals who eat 1 or 2 apples a day have been shown to consistently lose weight over time.

Apples are great portable snacks that can be taken and eaten anywhere. They are tasty additions to salads, cereals and meals. I happen to bake a mean crumb apple pie, but it packs a lotta mean calories!

Since I also love treats like apple crisp, I have found a good low calorie alternative to pie as follows: Peel and slice about 5 granny smith apples. Layer the apple pieces in a square baking dish. Combine, about 3 T. sugar, 3 T. butter, 1/3 c. rolled oats with cinnamon and vanilla to flavor. Layer mixture on top of apples in baking dish. Bake at 350° covered about 30 minutes, then uncovered about 20 minutes more. Makes about 8 delicious servings, each about 190 calories. Top with lowfat frozen vanilla yogurt for added delight.

Go Green- Apples!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You Can Be Fit over FIFTY!

There are many inspirational individuals who have healthy bodies to motivate all of us. I suppose there aren't as many publicized photos of people 50 and older who have superfit bodies, but they ARE out there.

We are exposed to many of the most attractive 'bodies 50 and over' by the media, particularly magazines. Recently, Valerie Bertinelli lost 50 pounds, celebrated her 50th birthday and got married. She looks great and seems happier than ever.

Christie Brinkley is over 50 (actually closer to 60), as fit as ever AND claims not to have had plastic surgery. She attributes her healthy, good looks to great genes, an active lifestyle and a wonderful dermatologist. Whatever she is doing, it's working.

And then there are the men. It is a well known fact that men tend to lose weight quicker than women. They also have more muscle and usually know a lot about toning those muscles. I remember being shocked when I saw 62 year old Ricardo Montalban in the movie: Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn. Montalban was a long way from his days on Fantasy Island. He had an amazingly buff chest and physique. People challenged his appearance, but movie producers confirmed that he did NOT wear a prosthetic chest. Montalban was simply in great physical shape for his age and had the chest to prove it.

The days of accepting that we are too old to be in great physical shape are gone. It is time to start looking ahead so that we can adapt healthy lifestyles for tomorrow.

The average life expectancy today is between 75 and 80 years of age. Additionally, it is thought that 1 out of every 5 people may live to be over 100 years of age. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives!

Whether you are 20-30-50 or 70, what you do today decides how you will live tomorrow.

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Cake Zone!

Note to Self:

You cannot watch ANY television shows that have the word 'CAKE' in the title.

That includes Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, Amazing Wedding Cakes, Wedding Cake Wars and anything related to cake baking. The allure of cake is too great. The taste of cake lingers too strongly in your mind. The smell of cake is too easily brought to life by the sight of any bakery environment seen on T.V.

Just be thankful you didn't have any cake in the house this time.

Next time you may not be so lucky!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Traveler's Poem

There once was a woman
from Spring Hill,
Who set out on a course
To find Thinville.

She ate less and less,
tried to decrease her stress,
and discovered the pathway
to true happiness.

She learned that the journey was daunting
Thinville often seemed far, far away
The path was uphill and uncharted
So easy to detour astray.

But onward the woman did travel,
The end of her journey in sight.
She followed the road map to Thinville
And her waist reappeared overnight.

Her body began to trim down.
No longer did she wear a frown.
From morning to night
She was a new sight,
And she worked it all over the town.

She continues her journey to Thinville
Determined to stay on the road.
When it comes to the calories and cookies
The traveler must lighten her load.

And now as she looks to the future,
She knows in herself she must trust,
There’s certainly no turning back now-
Cause it’s either Thinville or Bust!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good Calories vs. Bad

Calorie counters have many opinions about the types of calories they consume.

Some individuals focus only on the amount of calories they take in at each meal. Others choose the quality of the calories contained in their foods. What counts is keeping track of what you eat and how much food you eat. However, deciding what types of calories you eat CAN make a difference.

Many of the foods that we bring into our kitchens are processed. Processed foods last longer. They are more convenient to store and eat for busy families who are often on the go. BUT staying away from processed foods is a smart decision. Not only are highly processed foods low in nutrition, they don’t satisfy hunger. There is a reason ‘nobody can eat just one’ potato chip or cheese curl. Processed foods also have large amounts of added salt, sugar and fat in order to compensate for the taste that is lost during the refining process.

Natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are absorbed slowly in our bodies and satisfy our feelings of hunger. Foods in their most natural state also have the highest nutrient and fiber contents. Apple or orange juices without pulp have less fiber and nutritional value than in pure juice form. Boiled vegetables have less vitamins than those eaten in raw or steamed form.

If you want to increase your weight loss potential, pay attention to the quality of the calories you eat. Eating less salt, sugar and fat is always wise. Natural foods always benefit our bodies most.

All foods are not created equal. Go natural!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Works For Me

I am still amazed at my ongoing weight loss and devotion to this journey. Since I started this trip on Jan. 1, 2011, I have managed to stay focused on my destination: Thinville. I don’t know why I have remained vigilant, but I know what I am doing differently.

The formula is simple. Added calories = added pounds. For every 3500 calories consumed, we gain 1 pound of fat. Eliminating 500 calories a day will contribute to 1 pound of weight loss each week. Everyone has success stories and my story is not unlike many others.

Some reasons for my current success:

1. No Quick Fixes.
I decided from the beginning that I did not want short term success. I’ve tried quick fix methods in the past hoping to achieve big losses in short amounts of time. Unfortunately every time I tried to starve myself or follow rigid diet plans, I failed. This time, I just started out taking small steps.

2. Set reasonable goals.
Since I wasn't looking for a drastic change immediately, I set manageable goals for myself. I first decided to try and lose 1-2 pounds a week. This is not an overwhelming goal and it allows me to easily get back on track if I veer off a little from time to time. Ultimately, I hope to be 25-30 pounds lighter by summer.
I also hope to build a regular exercise regimen into my schedule. Thus far, I have not been as disciplined about exercise as I have been about my food intake. Still, whenever I eat more than I know I should have, out the door I go for a long walk. You could say exercise is my safety net, when my taste buds go astray.

3. Keep good foods in my kitchen.
Starting on the first day, I went to go to the grocery with a list of foods that would get me started on the right track. I have continued to shop regularly for more produce (including frozen fruits and veggies), nuts, whole wheat products and low calorie snack foods.

4. Count calories.
I read all my labels and keep track of every calorie I eat now. I’ve even started separating good calories from bad. I now focus on eating more high protein, high fiber foods. At the same time, I have cut down on salt, sugar, processed foods and fat.

5. Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day.
Eating small amounts throughout the day has helped me to balance my eating patterns. I do not feel famished after work and I can focus on good calorie choices. Most of my meals include vegetables and/or salads. When our bodies feel starved, our cells instinctively want to store fat. Eating small amounts of food keeps our metabolism working and that is where long term results show up.

6. Eat breakfast.
I used to just grab a cup of coffee and head out the door each day. Now, I try to eat something before starting my day. My favorite breakfast food has become oatmeal (See POST: The New Man in My Life). It is natural, high fiber and low calorie. I can add milk, fruit, nuts and even a little honey or sugar without feeling guilty. It also fills me up and carries me through the morning hours. AND it gets my metabolism started!

7. No more random snacking.
I used to come home from work and eat 200-400 calories in snacks before sitting down to dinner. Sometime after dinner, I usually had a snack as well. Now I’ve learned to limit my snacks and focus on healthier choices like nuts, olives, low fat cheeses, hard boiled eggs or low calorie snacks.

Part of making changes in my eating habits was asking myself ‘How did I get here?’. The easy answer is that I was eating more and exercising less.

I am still working to establish an exercise plan that I can stick with. I continue to read up on exercise tips frequently, but my main focus right now is still food intake. I am thrilled that the above steps continue to propel me towards my ultimate destination: THINVILLE.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Walk This Way

Spring weather is bringing more beautiful days to enjoy. Today was no exception.

After arriving home from work, I took advantage of daylight saving time and took my dog, Snickers, out into the spring sunshine for a walk. Walking is one of the easiest ways to keep fit and it doesn’t cost a thing. You can walk anytime- anywhere- and travel as near or as far as you choose to go. Experts recommend 30 minutes of physical activity daily. A walk can be 30 minutes long or it can be broken up into shorter walks.

Studies show that physical activity, like walking, can benefit our mental health as well. It can reduce anxiety or depression and help in handling stress. Walking can increase energy levels and help improve sleep habits too.

The physical benefits of walking are well known. Walking helps keep bones, muscles and joints healthy. The heart is one muscle that is always strengthened by exercise. Walking builds endurance and strength. Over time, most people are able to walk faster and can gradually increase their distance and speed. Trails can lead up hills, through neighborhoods and into sunsets. Walking offers variety and gives us a new view of the world every time we venture out.

Walking is not only great for our health and well being, but it burns calories too. Less calories means less weight. Grab a good pair of shoes and enjoy a good walk.

What can be better than feeling great and looking great!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fattest States announced recently the results of their Fattest States analysis. They ranked the 'most overweight' states in the U.S. and the percentages of obese adults in each of the 50 states as averaged over a 3 year period.

Although the results ranked the most obese states, I found the obesity of our entire country to be of greater concern. A three year average obesity rate was used and only one state, Colorado, was less than 20% overweight. Over half of all states are more than 25% overweight and nine states have obese populations of over 30 percent. In most states, at least 1 out of every 4 people were determined to be obese during the three year averaging period.

Our country eats a lot and we eat what is convenient. Many of us are too busy to cook or even shop for good foods. As a result, we have learned to rely on fast foods that we can eat on the run. Our snack foods are mostly processed and most of our children would eat junk food every day if we allowed it.

For those of us who grew up spending most of our days outside, times have changed. We are lured indoors by the temptations of cable T.V., computers and video games. Our children are mesmerized by every square screen they encounter. Bike rides and hikes have become special events. It is no wonder that many of our states are actually increasing their average obesity rates.

It is time for change. Many of us want to change our eating and exercise habits - and we can!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Find Your Own Way...

Tonight I read yet another weight loss plan in a fitness magazine. I’ve read tons of weekly menu plans, and I usually decide that most plans are not for me. Most of the time, I survey all the food ideas to find some recipes or snacks that might be worth putting into my own weekly diet plan. I rarely find an entire week’s worth of daily menus that I can follow rigidly.

The same is true of exercise routines. There seem to be endless supplies of step by step instructions for calorie burning. There are walking and running schedules, weight training guides and even instructional photos showing the best 10 minute exercises for toning and firming.

I know that it seems easy to have a pre-arranged plan for eating or exercising, but that is not always the case. I like variety. I get bored easily and just can’t follow a rigid routine. Instead, I have learned to find new foods and exercise tips each week. Every day is a little different and the key is to stay within my calorie limits.

If I had a weight trainer or a chef who could keep me accountable, things would be different. But in my world, I have to work, manage my family AND find creative ways to lose weight and stay on course.

For most of my life I have been a planner. I set goals, make lists and plan for tomorrow. This journey has been about planning with flexibility. Boundaries are always necessary, but everyone likes to have choices within their boundaries. My preferences aren’t always what the magazines or weight instructors recommend- so I have learned to chart my own path.

With a small amount of discipline and the right limitations, I am finding that my ways aren’t all that bad.

Find you own way and then stay on the road.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weight Loss Websites

There are an overwhelming amount of websites devoted to assisting others in the process of losing weight. In my quest to discover a variety of worthwhile recipe ideas and healthy food choices, I have become an avid user of search engines.
Many of my posts do include links to related weight loss websites. Today, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite websites. These are many of the sites that I have personally found to be valuable during this first part of my journey. I hope that others will find something useful at these sites as well. Thinville or Bust! Love this site! The free food logs, exercise logs, and weight loss tracking tools are what got me started on this journey! There are tons of extra resources that list exercise and recipe tips too- all free. The Hungry Girl states right on her website that she has ‘great recipe tips and tricks for hungry chicks’. I have found lots of low calorie recipes, low-cal substitutions for recipes and lots of added cooking tips!(See 'Have Your Cake and Eat It Too' post) Need guidelines for choosing what to eat? Here they are- spelled out for you: what to eat, what not to eat, and what to eat instead. Part of a great book series too.

Ginny’s lowfat recipes: Lots of ideas and resources for cooking up interesting and delicious lowfat recipes. . Great details about diets, products, methods for losing weight and extra tips. Want to know how many calories to eat each day? This site will guide you through steps for plugging in your weight goals in order to receive details and steps for how you can lose your desired weight. Multiple topics and lists for losing weight like “8 Tips to Slim Down Now” or ‘Lunches for 400 calories or less". Found this site while searching for motivating before and after stories. Has great healthy diet and food tips too!

Happy Surfing!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Time to Change It Up

I am still losing weight steadily, but I feel like I need to add something to my trip at this point.

Keeping a steady course doesn’t seem like enough anymore. I knew the day would come when I would have to make a commitment to exercise and today is the day. Writing down goals is always the best way to accomplish objectives and since I am blogging- here goes.

I have decided to choose some specific activities that I will accomplish 3 days per week as follows:
1. 15 pushups (girl style at first)
2. 30 minutes of cardio
3. Work arms using weights or weight ball- 50 reps each arm/various moves
4. 50 situps/ varied

Since I will need accountability, I will post completion of these goals each day that I satisfy the 4 requirements.

I am a little intimidated by setting such definitive goals. However, I am encouraged by the fact that I have managed to stay on track with my diet so far. The best part of adding exercise is that if I can complete these goals 3 days a week, I will start to get my body toned too.

Thin AND toned is definitely the best way to arrive at Thinville.
What have I got to lose- except bulges?!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Before and After Stories

I love to hear success stories and see before and after pictures of people who have lost weight.

Today I found many weight loss success stories on .

I love Jennifer's story (pictured here) because I can relate to her weight. It started in the same range as mine. She was 180 and I was near it. She ended up at 135 and I would LOVE to end up there too! She is much younger than me, but nothing is impossible these days- even for a 50 year old.

Jennifer did not describe her turning point, but I know mine happened when I realized that I never wanted to see 180 lbs.- and I was close. For me, I couldn't keep heading in the direction that led to more unhappiness. I had many things happening in my life, and I wanted some control back.

I like success stories because they demonstrate that we can all achieve our goals, no matter where we are or how impossible the goals seem. When I read success stories, I like finding out what each individual did to stay on track during their journey. Most people have tips from their own experiences about exercise, food, or what kept them going.

I hope to eventually have a kick butt after picture one day too. Maybe somebody else will be motivated by my experience too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Goin Fishin'

Years ago, I had a fleeting interest in the benefits of fish oil. I even had a bottle in my cabinet when I decided to re-investigate this dietary supplement. I am now more serious about vitamins and supplements that contribute to my diet regimen. Fish oil has beneficial effects that are worth consideration.

Fish oil has many health benefits associated with its Omega-3 fatty acid content. The benefits include reducing the risk of heart attack or coronary heart disease . Not only is fish oil beneficial to physical health, it is also beneficial to mental health. The omega-3 fatty acids are known for combating depression, bipolar disorder , schizophrenia and the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Fish oil can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your healthy cholesterol (HDL) numbers. It has even been shown to help a person lose weight when taken along with a sensible diet and exercise plan.

The ability to reduce inflammation also makes fish oil effective in reducing the symptoms and pain of arthritis. Morning stiffness and joint tenderness has been shown to decrease with regular intake of fish oil supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil provide an anti-aging benefit related to their ability to prolong the life of cells. Fish oil has even been shown to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness in the elderly.

My daily diet regimen now includes a multi-vitamin and fish oil.
Bring on the benefits.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Celebration Day!

Today it happened. I got on the scale and it read 165! My magic number has finally arrived. I have arrived at my first milestone goal and I am very excited.

I feel so motivated to stay on track and work towards my next goal. Having small achievable goals really helps me take things one day at a time. My next goal is 159. I haven't seen the 150's for a long time. I think I can make the trip in less than two weeks if I put the pedal to the metal - or my feet on the treadmill!

I promised myself that I would indulge in a few oatmeal cookies when I arrived at this milestone. Rewarding myself with food seems counter- productive, but I might have just one cookie.

Make small goals and stay on course.
Thinville is just over the horizon!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rest Stop Ahead!

Today I discovered that I am within 1 pound of my first milestone goal!!

I have lost 12 pounds during these first 65 days of 2011. I had hoped to average a loss of 1-2 pounds a week on my journey and success feels good. I am traveling a little slower than I had hoped. However, as long as I am heading in the right direction- it's all good.

I am hoping that tomorrow I can take an exit to my first rest stop and celebrate the loss of one more pound. Yes, it will be time to celebrate if I lose 13 pounds.

Sooo exciting!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Failure is Not an Option

There are many successful people in the world who failed on their way to success.

Many wealthy people lost everything they had before gaining their wealth. Some companies, like FedEx, were on the verge of losing everything when circumstances suddenly changed. Fred Smith started FedEx in 1973. The company lost $29 million during the first 26 months of operation. Smith's investors considered removing him from the helm of the fledgling company, but company president Arthur Bass backed the young founder. By late 1976, the company was carrying an average of 19,000 packages a night, and by year's end it was $3.6 million in the black.

Some people became rich and then lost everything before regaining their wealth, like Simon Cowell of American Idol. In his twenties, Cowell had some success in the music business and lived a lavishly rich lifestyle. But by thirty, he lost everything, and was forced to move back to his parents’ home. He didn’t give up. Fame came late and suddenly to Cowell. He was unknown at forty-two, nationally infamous by the time he turned forty-three and internationally famous only a few years later.

Steve Jobs, of Apple, dropped out of college before ever starting his computer company with a friend in his garage. But ten years after starting his company, the board at Apple fired him. He stated in a commencement address to Stanford University in 2005, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that ever could have happened to me.” Jobs turned a humiliating career loss into an incredible success by changing his attitude and beginning again.

We can’t all be Steve Jobs or Simon Cowell, but we can all turn failure into success with our attitudes. Like Steve Jobs says, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition.”

We learn from failure. Every time a batter strikes out, he learns what not to do next time. Such is life. Without failure, we would never be motivated to improve. Without failure, we would never appreciate success.

Failure makes us work harder to avoid mistakes in the future. With my track record, I should be able to avoid lots of mistakes in the future.

Bring it on- cause failure is NOT an option!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

I am still losing weight AND I am still happy!

I've never stayed on any disciplined eating plan for this long - 62 DAYS! At first, I wasn't even sure I would keep up with a food log. I found a free food and exercise log on and thought I would give it a try. Since I didn't have to pay for it, I thought, "What the heck?" It occurred to me that since I wasn't paying into my weight loss investment, it might not stick. I was wrong. I have faithfully logged in everything I’ve eaten since January 1st.

The second thing I decided to do was write this blog. Actually, keeping up with this blog has been one of the more difficult challenges I have faced on this journey. I realize that nobody is really reading this blog, but part of me feels like I need to keep it current. Still, keeping this daily journal has helped me discover invaluable facts and tips about food, nutrition and exercise. I believe that without writing this blog, my perseverance would not be as great. Don’t get me wrong- It would be wonderful if I had some feedback and encouragement from others, but I'm satified that this web page is helping me work towards my goal.

I think timing has played a big part in my newfound happiness too. I was finally ready to make a change in my life. I came to a fork in the road and realized it was time to take a different path. I was tired of not being able to wear the clothes I love. I also found that I was embarrassed to take pictures or have old friends see the bigger me. Discouragement CAN BE a great motivator.

And here I am: happy. I feel very comfortable with my eating patterns and the foods I am now choosing to eat. It is still tempting to veer off the road, but I am trying to keep focused on my destination:
Thinville or Bust!

Color me happy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bumpy Road

Most long journeys ultimately lead to encounters with roads that are under construction or are in need of repair. My current journey happens to be riddled with bumps, potholes and delays.

Every time I seem to be speeding up, I run into a bump in the road that slows me down. Sometimes it is bad weather that prevents me from getting outside to exercise. Other times it is giving in to a food that I just can't resist. Once in a while, I just get lazy and want to coast down the road. Most of the time it boils down to the fact that I am not staying self-disciplined enough to stay on the smooth part of the road.

I can't seem to avoid the areas that slow my pace.

Still, I am certain that I will not turn back or give up on this journey. I refuse to give up. I need to set my GPS for Thinville and follow the directions that lead me to my destination along the fastest route. It's all about avoiding the bumps that hinder my progress.