Happy Thanksgiving to My Faithful Readers!

I am thankful for you!

This month is my one year blog-versary. Is that a word?

I can’t believe it has been a year already since this blog was born. This blog started out as a lark because I like to talk about health and fitness as I strive to be healthy and fit as well as being able to wear smaller sizes, and it is fun to share with like-minded individuals. Life is to be enjoyed and it’s best enjoyed being fit and fabulous!

I’ve always been fairly active throughout my life and became more dedicated on this quest when both my parents had heart attacks a couple of months apart. I watched my Dad is in nursing home hospice care and I saw so many of the residents who are only a shell of what they used to be. I was thrilled to find the article about Ruth Kobin, the woman who is 100 years old and still exercises. This encourages and inspires me, enough to go to the gym on Thanksgiving Day!

This year had been a joy, and you have been my joy and I want to thank you for that! Much appreciation to all of you who have taken the time to write me lovely notes about the site. My goal is to be able to share, encourage and inspire and according to the wonderful feedback I have gotten from you, things are going in the right direction. In 2012, I will see what I can do to expound upon what we are doing with even more articles.

I want to say a big THANK YOU for reading, commenting and sharing my site with your friends. It is my hope that you come back and enjoy my posts in 2012 as much as you have in 2011.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING,
Joy

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100 Years Old and She Still Exercises!

Whenever I see young children exercising, it makes me feel good because I started being active when I was young also and this has served me well in my adult life. When my generation was growing up, we were naturally active. I consider this fortunate, because the act of being active as a child started a good life-long habit.

This is important, because knowing how I am, had I not started early, I would have never started at all. If that were to be the case, then at this part of my adult life, I would be in horrific condition. I am forever grateful for my active youth for getting me on the right track. A secondary but still very important catalyst was that when I was 18, my mother signed our family up for a health club membership. She exercised 2 or 3 times a week and this set a very good example! So moms, kids pay attention to what you do more than what you say, so set a good example for them because if you do, you will be healthier and fitter also.

I stress these lifetime good habits again because I ran into the most wonderful article online about this amazing woman: Ruth Kobin, who is 100 years old and still exercises. She even does Pilates. She is amazing and inspiring and she’s just like the rest of us: some days she doesn’t want to exercise, but she goes ahead and do it anyway! She eats sensibly and has been active ever since she was young and look how well these good habits have served her. At the age of 100, she has a nimble body and she has a nimble mind. Contrast Mrs. Kobin to the people I saw in a nursing home who are 25 years younger that Ruth, I am motivated to keep exercising.

Please take the time to go to this link and read this article*** about Ruth Kobin. Her exercise philosophy embodies all of the basic principles of good health and good sense. Hopefully you will be encouraged and inspired. Because if you don’t use it, you will lose it. When I grow up, I want to be Ruth Kobin! Thank you Ruth for being a good role model and for your inspiration. You go girl! Enjoy this article and it is my hope that she encourages and inspires you as much as she inspires me. I know there are days like today where I need that inspiration, since I don’t always want to go to the gym either. =)

http://tinyurl.com/RuthKobin

***If you read this article at work, please put your speakers on mute first.*** This page has loud advertising that plays repetitively and you can’t turn down the volume when on the page.  Still, this article is a must-read. Enjoy!

Posted in Aging, Exercise, Health, Lean Diet, Tips, Toned Body, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Delicious Vegan Pumpkin Soup

I love autumn and especially all of the wonderful food associated with this time of the year! One of my favorite things on a cold day such as this is pumpkin soup. The only pumpkin soup I have eaten was at the food bar at Whole Foods, so a couple of years ago, I decided to make my own soup and went on a recipe hunt.

This recipe can be adapted for non-vegan if you prefer. When I had first made this recipe, I was not a vegan. I just enjoyed some pumpkin soup from a batch I made a couple of hours ago that was vegan and it tasted every bit as good as the non-vegan original. This is an easy and tasty recipe that only takes about 15 minutes to throw it in the pot and heat it up. My vegan recipe is low-fat and low calorie. The non-vegan adaptations with cream or half and half will add calories. Or depending on the kind of chicken broth you use, you could be adding unwanted extra sodium. Read your labels.

Ingredients
2 15 oz. cans of pumpkin
1 16 oz. veggie broth (chicken broth/non-vegan)
1 cup almond milk (milk, half & half, cream/non-vegan)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp maple extract
2-4 pkgs of Stevia (Splenda, etc)
2 tsps brown sugar/dark brown sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Nutmeg for garnish

Pour all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat and cook until heated through. Sprinkle on nutmeg on top as a delicious garnish.

Yield: 5-6 cups
120 calories per cup (not a mug, a cup which is appx 1/2 of a mug)

Cook’s Notes

  • The original recipe called for 32 oz of broth. I made it that way and made it too runny for my taste. I like soup that is thick, so I used half of a carton (16 oz) instead. If you use less broth, then you don’t have to worry about using cream or half and half to thicken up the soup. (non-vegans)
  • The maple extract is not required, but I wanted to jazz up the maple taste without adding more maple syrup and extra calories.
  • I put probably 1/8 tsp of salt on mine and approximately 1/4 tsp of rainbow peppercorns.
  • Stevia is something else I added because hey, I have a sweet tooth!
  • If you aren’t a vegan and want to add another touch to this soup, then put a dollop of whipped cream on top and then sprinkle with nutmeg.
  • Either way, don’t forget the nutmeg!

Enjoy this soup that is thick, delicious, good for you and will stick to your ribs. You know they always say that people that have soup for an appetizer before a meal will eat less. Enjoy!

Image in the header for this post is by vic15

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How to Eat Tortilla Chips without Blowing Calorie Budget

The Crunch and Oral Fixation Satisfaction of Tortilla Chips
I admit it, I love the crunch when eating certain foods, and although I love my veggies, the crunch from a piece of celery sometimes just doesn’t get it.  Yes, sometimes, I will cut up several pieces of celery and have them with my favorite salsa, but I bet, like you, it is hard to resist going to a Mexican restaurant and resisting the bowl of warm chips and salsa that they put on the table. That is the best part of the meal! Although I personally rarely step foot in a restaurant anymore due to both my calorie and checkbook budgets, those chips are quite satisfying to me, a wonderful temptation. A basket of pre-meal chips can easily run you 750 calories and that doesn’t include the Queso. There is nothing like a tortilla chip!

Solution to Over-Eating Tortilla Chips
I found a way to get satisfy my tortilla crunch fixation without breaking my calorie budget, it’s both easy and cheap. Go to the store and buy a package of tortillas. Take one tortilla, and cut it up in wedges like a pizza and put it in the toaster oven for a few minutes.  I use tortilla wraps bought from Costco, which are whole wheat based with flax meal added.  These are oblong and one large wrap is 100 calories.  Bring the tortilla wedges from one tortilla to the table, and be sure to stop there! Be sure to go slow and savor each chip.

Benefits of Making Your Own Chips
If you fix your tortilla chips this way, then they are baked and not fried, saving on trans-fats and lots of extra calories. Another benefit is portion control! Eat one tortilla and you can stop. Who can stop with an open bag of chips or a basket of chips on the table? I know I can’t!  You can also experiment on how to dress them up while being able to control the tastes and potential of added calories.

Ways You Can Dress Up Your Chips

  • Toast them plain, eat with salsa or your favorite low-cal dip
  • Toast them with Pam, then sprinkle a tad of Parmesan Cheese
  • Toast a white tortilla, spray with Pam, then sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sweetener
  • Toast and then drizzle with Agave Nectar or Honey
  • Toast then spread a thin layer of your favorite low sugar jam/jelly
  • Toast them with a Pam and add your favorite herbs/spices.

Even if you dress them up with a little Parmesan, Agave/Honey or jam or jelly, you are still saving a massive amount of calories while still enjoying the similarity of restaurant tortilla chips without blowing your caloric budget. So next time you get the munchies and want some chips to crunch on, fix your own chips to your liking where you can maintain caloric control.  Enjoy!

***Image used in the header of this post is by  waitscm

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Diet Temptation: How to Handle “Halloween Candy”

Happy Halloween!  That dreaded time of the year has arrived for those of us who are trying to diet and or not add any extra weight.  It starts with the Halloween candy, which is not only at our houses, but at our offices as well, that seems to linger.  The next thing we know it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day.  Not to mention the ever-present tailgating and football parties.  Because I don’t participate much in football, the end of the year slump begins in my mind with the Halloween candy.  Here is my strategy for dealing with the temptation.

Halloween Candy Isn’t Even Good Candy!

For anyone who is a connoisseur, or who has any standards in regards to their desserts and treats, remembers this one thing: Halloween Candy is not even good candy!  Just because it is expensive, does not make it good quality.  Halloween Candy is mass-produced with the children’s palate in mind.  Come on, Sweet Tarts, Candy Corn, all of it, it is substandard, even the chocolate doesn’t taste all that good.

Low Quality Sweets Don’t Satisfy the Sweet Tooth

I don’t begrudge my sweet tooth and neither should you.  But when you taste a low quality candy, such as Halloween Candy to satisfy it, you aren’t going to be satisfied or satiated.  In order to satisfy your sweet craving, you’ll go for another piece and another piece and your sweet tooth will not be truly happy, meanwhile your stomach and you diet-conscience will feel that nauseating feeling of “Why did I eat that, I didn’t even enjoy it?”

Give in to Your Sweet Cravings, but with Quality not Quantity

I am a believer in giving in to the sweet cravings.  Even when I dieted, I would have my daily sweet treat, so as not to feel deprived.  I chose something that I knew would satisfy my senses and would have a controlled amount of it.  This way, you satisfy your craving, but you aren’t going overboard, this makes you a winner in the diet game!  Personally, I would rather have a taste or one piece of something wonderful than to have a handful of something that is not.  I have gone as far to develop more of a gourmet palate when it comes to desserts in general.*  When I eat my sliver of cake, I want it to be truly magnificent.  There isn’t hardly a grocery store cake anywhere that satiates my sweet tooth.  A sliver of something wonderful is better than an entire piece of something mediocre.  Same thing goes for Halloween Candy.

Substitute the Mediocre Stuff and Replace it with Something Delicious

The best way to remove the temptation of going overboard with the Halloween Candy is to remove it from your reach.  Take it to the office or give it to somebody else or if you have kids and they are eating it, put it out of your sight and replace it with a delicious substitute that you have in a controlled amount.  Some of my past treats were: York Peppermint Patties (2 of the snack size = 100 calories), Lindor Truffles (70 calories apiece) and double chocolate biscotti (smaller size, where 1 piece was 100 calories).  Put your treats where you can see them so that that you know when it comes time to have your dessert, so you will be going for the good stuff and not the Halloween Candy.  And when you are at the office, walk by the bowl of candy on the front desk and indulge in your private stash in your desk drawer, “the good stuff”.  That way, you won’t give in to the temptation of over-indulging.  Remember, one bite of something good will satisfy, where as many bites of something mediocre will not satisfy.

Good Decisions & Preparation Eliminates the Temptation to Overdo Halloween Candy

By choosing ahead of time what you can have and by saving your sweet calories for something that really pleases you, you are less likely to over-indulge and that which you do eat for your sweet craving will satisfy you. In a silly analogy, choosing your sweets is like choosing someone to date or marry, not any person will do, it must be special; and it if is special, it is worthwhile.  Remember, when it comes to making all choices, you deserve the best!

*For more on this, please read my post in November 2010, “Gourmet or Gourmand?”

Halloween Candy Image on blog header is by:  Rochelle, just rochelle

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Are You Committing Suicide with Your Fork?

Please forgive the shocking title. I don’t mean to sensationalize and sound like a tabloid blogger, but this is something to think about. Every bite of food that you take is either something that contributes to your health and well-being or it takes you further away from your goal.  This sounds dramatic, I know, but please stay with me.

On my annual visit to my doctor a couple of months ago, who prescribes my hormones and supplements and who treats me holistically, I was describing to him the eating habits of someone that I know. His response was, “They are killing themselves with their fork.” In the past couple of weeks, I have heard this phrase used a couple of times, so hence the inspiration for this post. I do sincerely believe that you can set yourself up for good health or for not so good health by what you eat.

Eat Healthy Always
This should be your goal anyway, not just some of the time. Do you take supplements for your health? If so, are you going to stuff yourself with French fries at lunch?  I hope not, but some people do. The goal is to eat healthy things most of them time with a variance once in a while. Yes we are human and can’t eat like robots. If you are eating 95% good things 95% of the time, a little treat won’t kill you every now and again. If you are eating junk or processed food 95% of the time, then it is time to reevaluate your methodology.

Analyze Your Food Intake
The point is to look at your total package health-wise and begin to analyze the fuel that you are putting into your body each day. What are you feeding your body? Are you feeding it processed foods full of fat and sodium additives or are you feeding it whole foods?  It’s a garbage-in, garbage-out situation. You can look at someone’s body shape and probably get a pretty good idea of what they eat or drink as the case may be and probably guess the state of their health.

This morning at the gym, I observed a fellow who was wearing a muscle shirt. His arms had good muscular tone as did his legs, but he had a belly. Not a huge belly, but it was out of proportion with the rest of him. I could imagine him swilling beer to possibly wash down the red meat that he was more than likely eating. Even if you exercise and drink too much beer, it will show up around your middle.

You Are What You Eat
This is something else I believe, because everyone’s body tells a story. I observe those both younger than me and older than me. Some bodies are very flabby, weak and lethargic looking and some are lean and powerful looking. It underscores the message that whatever you do today is sowing the seeds for tomorrow. Any of you that may be in your 20’s and have stumbled across this blog, this message is for you too. How difficult it can be to be 40-50-60 years old and see that your body is a mess and then try to begin good habits later in life that they should have cultivated while you were younger as it is much harder to overcome a lifetime of inertia. Good health  and good habits begin now!

Eating Healthy & Enjoying Life
I’m not advocating that your “healthy habits” become so sterile that you aren’t enjoying life. The opposite is true. I love to eat and I love life! In fact, look forward to what I get to eat next. The food that I eat is good for me and it tastes good too. Eat healthy foods and believe it or not, your taste buds will change. The overly processed sodium-laced food will no longer be desirable to you. Your healthy food tastes even better when you are paving the way to a healthier tomorrow.

Let the fork be your friend and not an instrument to dig your grave. I encourage you to pay attention to the food you consume so that you can enjoy your life, eat wisely and be healthy!

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Love Your Workout

You know when you are in the dating world, it’s not all a bed of roses. It’s work. You meet this person and that person, trying to determine who is the best for you and if they fit in with your life’s routine. Of course, if you intend to get serious and get married one day, then love, responsibility and commitment factors in too. There is a lot of adjusting and a lot of trial and error in the process, but once you find the right person you look forward to spending time with them and the search for a good fit becomes worthwhile.

As silly as it may seem, your workout is the same way. Workouts aren’t always convenient and face it, we don’t always look forward to them. It is horrible that they can become another item on your already crowded to do list. Workouts are important for all ages, but the older you get, the more crucial a workout becomes. If you are over 40 and certainly if you are over 50, then exercising for your health no longer is an option. The more you exercise though, the closer you will become to having your body turn into a fat-burning machine rather than a fat-hoarding apparatus.

This morning, while I was doing my workout, I felt very blessed that I actually enjoyed it and it actually felt invigorating to me and I felt glad to be there. Being glad to be there did not happen over night, it was an evolution of trial and error. About 7 years ago I decided to learn how to eat healthier and 5 years ago, that I began exercising again regularly.  At this point, I am probably on my 5th incarnation of my workout plan.

The big goal here, is to find the workout that you love, so you will enjoy it and look forward to doing it. If your schedule is not allowing you to workout regularly, then some reevaluation is in order to find balance in your life. When you get to the point of loving your workout, then health and fitness will not only become less of a battle, it will become something that you enjoy and look forward to and being healthy and lean will just become second nature.

Posted in Exercise, Health, Tips, Toned Body | Tagged | 2 Comments