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Habit #4 Prep ahead.

This habit helps with two challenges. This first being what to cook especially on nights when you are tired. The second is produce that can be pricey, dying in your refrigerator before you get a chance to eat it. The answer is planning your menus and prepping your food right after you bring it home.

When I had to feed four children on a budget I used to plan out my menu for about 2 weeks, shop for food every two weeks, buy in bulk as much as I could and then I would do a marathon cooking day, prepping the ingredients and freezing or storing them in the refrigerator. It was a grueling day but it saved me lots of time and money. Plus we ate healthier meals.

I took the same approach with my new healthier eating plan. I plan out two weeks worth of menus then make a list with the needed ingredients. I take my list to the grocery store every two weeks and yes stick to a budget. Then every other Saturday afternoon I spend about 2 hours prepping the fresh produce. One big help is dividing romaine lettuce into leaves, washing and drying them then placing them in a large baggie or container for salads. A second head of romaine is torn and washed and spun dry then put in a second container. I am more likely to make a salad if the greens are washed and ready.

I also travel to my favorite farmers market and pick up produce in season. Here are some ideas on how to prep and preserve it from spoiling. Corn can be shucked and placed in a large baggie. Do not wash it ahead of time. I chop the tops off of beets and cook them until they are fork tender then slice and store in the refrigerator for salads. Tomatoes should sit on a window sill until you are ready to use them. Cucumbers can be peeled, sliced and refrigerated. Carrots, celery, scallions, peppers and radishes are cleaned and cut into dipping sizes. I usually make some hummus and black bean dip to accompany them. Chopping and slicing red onions and garlic are really helpful for quick dinners when I’m tired. Lately I’ve been cutting up a small watermelon and refrigerating it. It makes a great dessert on hot nights.

Finally I make sure I have a healthy sweet snack available. Fresh blueberries and a cut up pineapple are satisfying. Also, I portion almonds and raisins, 1 ounce each combined in a baggie for snacks when I want something sweet. Remember a craving only lasts for about 15 minutes so if you have something healthy prepared you are less likely to run out for ice cream.

The time is well spent because when I need ingredients for a shake they are ready. When I’m craving something sweet I have cut up fruit or an almond raisin snack. Salads are easy. This prep has really helped with sticking to my eating plan.

Try it and share your recipes and prepping techniques. I would love to hear from you.


Habit #3 Responsibility vs Resistance

All healthy habits require action but the action originates in your mind. You think of it before doing it unless you are touching a hot stove and then the recoil bypasses the brain and becomes automatic.

I am a food addict and when I stuff my emotions with food it is hard to take personal responsibility for my actions. I blame my obesity on my genetics or on the eating habits that I learned from my parents. The choice to eat is mine but I feel pressured into it by circumstances and feelings.

Conversely when I am building healthy habits around food and exercise it is always someone else’s idea to give up sugar and refined flour and get up in the morning to go to the gym. The resistance l feel when starting a new eating plan comes from putting the responsibility for success on the plan, not owning it as my idea, my choice.

I am 67 years old. No one is making me do this, not my mother or my children, my trainer or society. I choose to be a healthier version of myself. These are my plans, I own them and will follow them because I am committed to a new life with new habits. When I take full responsibility for my life choices and totally own my day, my resistance melts away because no one is making me do this but me.


My Forever Journey

The last two years with COVID have been a wake up call. I am 67 years old and have survived a bout with the disease however that was not the challenge for me. The staying at home with two hungry grandchildren led to my undoing. We had way too much fun cooking, baking, eating and ordering out. I gained 18 pounds over the last two years and developed inflammation in my joints.

So fast forward to February of 2022. Ever since menopause I have had what I call an allergic reaction to chocolate, especially dark chocolate. I react to it with migraines which is so unfair. This year post Valentine’s Day after consuming too many chocolate covered almonds I ended up in the ER with confusion and high blood pressure. These can be symptoms of a Transient Ischemic Attack in vessels of the brain. Sometimes a precursor for stroke.

Talk about a wake up call! I knew that when I got out of there I had to make some drastic changes. Life as I knew it was over. After being scanned, poked and prodded I found out the results of all the testing: high cholesterol, moderate build up in Coronary arteries, migraine, and obesity. Time to take control over my health.

First step was agreeing finally to take a Statin drug to lower the cholesterol. That worked beautifully and brought my LDL down to healthy levels. Second step was to find some help. I asked a close friend and coworker who has a large health and wellness practice to mentor me in diet and exercise. I also enlisted the support of my family. My husband is going on this journey with me for which I am grateful.

The third step was beginning a journal during my prayer time in the morning. Asking God for His guidance with why I’m overeating and using food as a drug. Food has been a source of pleasure, reward, solace, entertainment, and basically an emotional crutch as far back as I can remember. I have examined why I overeat during other times in my life and I have learned a lot about myself but there are still places within that need healing. I know that as I learn and grow personally food will become just a source of fuel, not my go to friend.

That brings us to today. This series of posts will be about my journey to optimal health and I invite you to come along. Maybe you need healing in this area too. I will share my successes and failures and the forever plan that I’m following. We can be healthy at our stage in life. In fact, it’s been my experience that once the kids are out of the house I now have time to focus on me. For those of you who are younger, start taking care of your health now!! For once your health is gone, life becomes a huge struggle.

I welcome your comments just know that I will be approving what is published here.


Day 7 Detox

This isn’t for weight loss though it can be a great side effect. The 21 day plan is for detoxification. Ridding your body of pollutants, preservatives, and helping your cells to work better. It’s also a great jumpstart for a healthy eating plan. Having said that, I weighed myself at the beginning which everyone should do and then I weighed myself this morning just for some extra encouragement and that’s what I got. I’ve lost 15 pounds!


Holistic Health or Turn off the TV

Back in the day, holistic health referred to the whole person, an undivided approach to wellness. I had a professor in nursing school who taught the theory that all illness is caused by emotional reactions. For instance, since cold germs are always present, we “catch a cold” when our immunity is weakened by grief or stress. I agree with her, that human beings are made up of physical, emotional, and spiritual selves and they cannot be divided for the purpose of treating disease.

This theory was brought home to me this winter. I have joined an exercise class made up of women who are older than I am. The main topic of conversation is ailments, MRI’s, physical therapy, acupuncture and the latest health report on the news networks. The prevailing attitude is negative about life in general. Granted, getting older is not for the faint of heart, but this stage of life is no more difficult than any other stage, it’s just different.

Now I ask you, if we are a whole person and wellness comes from being well in every aspect of that person, why do we treat the physical and neglect the emotional and spiritual parts? These women spend a lot of money on the latest treatments for their physical ailments, yet they ignore the stress caused by watching the nightly news or the anger that has not been addressed in decades, or the grief and hurts that have not been resolved or the basically negative worldview.

Western medicine seems to diagnose and treat the physical ailment without considering what emotions, or spiritual beliefs lead up to it. Stress, we are finally acknowledging is a contributing factor but is there a concerted effort to treat that as well? I think if we payed attention to the mental state, emotional history, and all the body systems that contribute to disease we would have more keys to treatment and prevention.

If the women in my class delved into their emotional state, worked to change their mental outlook and turned off the TV, I believe their physical health would improve. The atmosphere in our class would be more upbeat and optimistic. Am I the only one who thinks like this? Weigh in, let’s continue the conversation.


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Biking in December

IMG_0382Living in the Mid- Atlantic region means temperatures are in the 30’s and 40’s in December. Everyone I talk to puts their bikes in the shed and looks for indoor exercise venues. My advice, don’t be so quick to table biking outdoors. There are always days when the temperature moderates and warm biking gear works well. I even found a pair of heavy weight biking pants at WalMart. Old school lined leather gloves with tapered fingers are great for changing gears and keeping hands warm. If you are prepared you can still bike until Christmas.


Treating the Holiday Food Hangover

You know how the movies always treat a hangover with some weird concoction that is based on raw eggs and worchestershire? Well food hangovers during the holidays beg for treatment as well. After the Thanksgiving all-you-can stuff buffet which ended with trying every dessert on the table you feel horrible the next day. Your stomach is crampy and your eyes are puffy. Food hangovers can be every bit as painful as alcohol hangovers.

So, I’ve developed a quick reboot that settles down my system and prepares my body for the next holiday onslaught. Hopefully, it will also dampen the temptation to overeat rich food again.
Invest in a basic juicer. Anything that will handle raw fruit and vegetables with the peels. Then follow the recipes the next day after a night at the buffet.

> First major tip, drink lots of water with fresh lemon throughout the day.

> Breakfast with Pear Nog which was published a few years ago on this blog. Search for it under Healthy Recipes. It’s a combination of greek nonfat plain yogurt, two ripe pears, plain soy or almond milk and a scoop of plant protein powder. I like to flavor it with vanilla and cinnamon.

>For midday I like to eat a clear soup with chicken broth, tofu, carrots, and snow peas. Our local Chinese eatery makes a great soup like this without msg.

> When I’m hungry again I combine peeled limes and oranges with a handful of fresh cranberries, carrots and apples in the juicer. Experiment with the combinations and quantities. I like to drink at least 2 cups worth.

> Then, dinner is a spinach salad with lots of fresh vegetables and if I’m really hungry some steamed pasta or brown rice. More juice works before bedtime and add some fresh mint leaves if you have them available.

I’ve found that this formula restores my sense of wellbeing and I feel so good that I don’t always want to eat every rich concoction that I see. So try it and give me some feedback on how it worked for you.


Menopause – What to Do After the War

For those of us who have made it through menopause to the other side or have lived with someone who has made it, this post is for you.  Do you feel like you have battled in a war with your own body for years?  For me, there were nine years when I was uncomfortable in my own skin and my emotions were volatile.  I was definitely in warrior mode.  Always spoiling for a fight and feeling like I had to wear body armor to deflect the hurts that were flying toward me.

It was like being in a battle.  Of course, it is also the stage in life when your children are separating from you with all of their hormonal tactics and your husband is going through his own losses.  This war absorbs who you are and your purpose in life until all you are doing is fighting to survive.

Well, now the battle is over, your body has changed and it’s time to clean up the battlefield and help the wounded.  You can take off the armor and put your sword in the corner. Bring the pain, disappointment, anger, bitterness and lack of forgiveness to the surface so you can heal and move to the second half of your life.

Restore the relationships that you slaughtered.  Reassure everyone that your emotions are stabilizing.  Express your feelings, taking responsibility for them.  Ask for forgiveness and in turn forgive.  Call your children and let them know that you love them.  If you still have a husband, let him know that you love and respect him as well.  Take time to think about who you are and what your purpose in life will be from this day on.

It is also a good time to check your level of physical wellness.  Maybe it’s time to put your body back together.  Begin with a physical exam and face the changes that you need to make for optimal health.  Building a life of no regrets is the next task. .  Have you done all you can do to improve your well-being?

These are the issues you will be dealing with until you can free yourself from the past. You can overcome.  Living in peace is the reward.  Admit that you were gone but now you are back and the menopausal war is over.


Owning My Skinny Genes

The genetic results are in.  I am what is known as a Fat Burner.  In order for me to reach an optimal body weight I need to keep my Fat consumption under 30% of my total calories per day and I need to workout intensely at least 3 times per week.  The MET total for the week needs to be a minimum of 13.  The MET is a value assigned to different exercises.  For example, riding my bike outdoors with hills for 45 minutes is an 8 MET activity.

So, what does all of this mean?  That for me fat is the problem, and lofat eating is the way to stay healthy.  This genetic test has confirmed some things that I already knew about my body and has given me a definite path.  No more stabbing in the dark, wondering if I should go hi-protein, lo-carb or a balanced approach or Mediteranian or Asian, or fasting for 2 days per week, etc., etc., etc. It is such a relief.