Tag Archives: dieting

The workout routine that can save your life

I could have hurt myself this morning, but I decided against it.

I wanted to stay still, to drift back into sleep after the alarm sounded at 4:30 am because my husband thought that he needed his travel-alarm foghorn to start his morning shift.  Next time I’ll set my own, less jarring alarm and give him a brief slapping around instead.

Instead, I wobbled down the hallway as I usually do, made a strong cup of tea and got down to business.  I work out every day for 45 minutes before my incredibly sedentary 10+ hour shift.  It’s a four-day marathon, but it’s Monday, so I have a bit of sleep in the bank, and I promised myself that tonight I could brush, cuddle the kid and promptly stumble back into the Land of Nod.  (It’s likely that reality will prove this to be a lie.  Sometimes I live on a steady diet of delusion.)

I never used to work out in the morning.  I never used to get up early either.  Maybe you don’t want to do that, and who could blame you.  I didn’t either.  But you want to have the body and movement of a child, like my 65-year-old yoga teacher, who whips the hell out of us once a week.  She makes me feel both inferior and inspired.

Try five minutes.  Wake up five minutes early.  Just five, don’t get crazy and aim for more than that.  Do 5 minutes of exercise.  I do 60 crunches in that time.  Do 10 jumping jacks.  Reach up with both hands into a gentle stretch, then touch your toes (or knees).  Breath deeply.  There.  You’re all done.  Tomorrow curl a couple of soup cans for 5 minutes while you watch what the weather will be.  You can build your biceps while you decide what to wear.

I do my stomach exercises before bed, for five minutes or less.  I have great abdominal strength, and I know because in yoga class people 20 years younger than me were groaning when Ms. Lee beckoned us into a V, arms stretched forward, until time stood still.  I got to feel superior, if only for one moment.

Five minutes.  Do it tonight.  Do it tomorrow.  Who knows where it will lead?

FDA proposes sweeping changes for food labels

Well, I can’t wait to see the fighting on this one, because this is one of the best pieces of information-based legislation consumers have if they want to make good decisions regarding their food choices.  So far that’s not been saying much, since the Nutrition Facts label has been so difficult for most people to interpret that they largely ignore it.  These changes would be mighty helpful.  Here’s what the FDA is proposing:

Image

When you see what half that pint will cost you, they'll need smelling salts in the aisle.  *sigh*

When you see what half that pint will cost you, they’ll need smelling salts in the aisle. *sigh*

The press release may be found here.

The comment period, which will last for 90 days, will begin Monday.  Anyone can comment, and I highly suggest you do.  My first-read has me poised to ask the FDA to include calories from added sugar, not just grams (but in case you were wondering, it’s a teaspoon for every 4 grams  Currently, though, sugars from fruit and sugars from added sugar are included under the same category).  The Daily Values have not been updated in so long that the upper limit for salt (2300 mg) is LESS than the current daily value listed (<2400 mg — which to most people means 2400 mg.  The current recommendation for sodium is generally 1500 mg).  It’s way past time. Look for a food fight here, but Ms. Obama is building a serious legacy with this one.

Get your fingers on the keyboard if you like the idea of having quick reference to what is in your food.

How changing your diet is like the winter solstice

Image

The sunset on 12/20/13.

Today is the winter solstice — the start of the shortest day of the year.  According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, today we’ll see just 9 hours and 53 minutes of daylight.  In contrast, the summer solstice gave us 14 hours and 26 minutes of daylight.

That’s a lot of difference, right?

The amount of daylight we receive changes minute by minute, day by day.  Except during the period surrounding each solstice, and for periods of a couple of days where the amount of daylight remains the same, we either gain a minute of daylight a day, or lose one.  From today until June 21st of 2014, we will slowly, very slowly, gain daylight until we have amassed more than four extra hours of daylight a day!

What does that have to do with changing your diet?

Day by day and hour by hour, what we eat can change us, even if it’s by only a tiny change from what we normally consume.  If today you decide to eat one cookie instead of two, or take one piece of bread out of the restaurant basket instead of two or decide after overdoing it at a get-together not to keep overdoing it today out of self-loathing and a sense of defeat, you’ve inched a bit closer to success.  Eating better, exercising and taking care of ourselves are not about the big, dramatic moves, but about the little tiny ones that are less painful and therefore are read as less important.

Minute by minute and day by day, how will you be when the next solstice arrives?

What to eat at Starbucks

Starbucks Coffee Company

The official drink of The Voice, and my husband. They should have a platinum card for guys like him.

There’s a lot out there about what NOT to eat, but how about a post about what constitutes a good choice?

Starbucks has a lot of food and drink with under 400 calories, which is a good caloric neighborhood, beverage included, when you’re making a stop to fuel up.  If you’re watching your calories, it’s a good idea to choose a beverage very, very low in calories (iced tea with one packet of sugar or one pump of sugar, coffee with one sugar and a very small hit of cream) if you’re having a snack.  I would keep the snack at or below 200 calories; you need to save room for other healthful foods throughout the day.

I will assume you are looking for a drink and a nibble…

  • First, remember that whipped cream adds 45-100 calories depending on the size of the drink.  If you want whipped cream, the obvious choice is the smaller-sized drink (the short with whip is 45, give it up: a grande has 60 calories for the whip and is more realistic).
  • Each pump of syrup adds a teaspoon of sugar, which is about 20 calories.  Caramel drizzle adds 15 calories, and chocolate adds just 5.
  • Protein/fiber powder adds 30 calories and is entirely unnecessary (only adds one gram of fiber?!  Let’s have bakery instead!).

Beverages (200 calories or less):

  • Iced brewed coffee or tea.  Get it without the added syrup, or just one pump, and add milk or soy milk.  If you add the milk, and choose nonfat and Tall, it’s 80 calories.  If you’re feeling spartan, a plain iced tea or coffee contains 0 calories.
  • Continue reading

Small Change #13: Walk the walk (and the dog and the kid and the coworker)

Walk around the block at work or at home.    It takes about 15 minutes if you really move it like you’ve got somewhere to be.  

Are you really busy, and when you get home you know life will be too chaotic? Walk around the block after work or take a quick break.  Make it part of your lunch hour.  Grab a co worker and make him or her do it too.  Or strap an iSomething to your head and pop some tags or admit you knew he was trouble when he walked in or whatever.  Walking will burn off steam and get your body ready for dinner.

 Or go home and grab that dog and those kids and make them go around the block and find out about their day.  (The dog will always say: “It was good!  It was good!  Wee!  You’re home and we’re walking!  Awesome!”)

Think of it as 15 minutes that will improve your mental state and leave your cells hungry.  Which means you will respond to insulin better.  Which means you will have lower cholesterol and lower risk of diabetes (or better glucose control if you already have diabetes).  Walking daily: It’s a pretty good bargain for the time investment, I’d say.

Small change #11 Split dessert the selfish way

When we dine out and the server delivers dessert in the form of 1/4 of a pie, we have a tendency to abdicate responsibility for our ability to finish whatever is put in front of us (“I didn’t put that on the plate, I’m just the lucky recipient!”).   In fact, this is part of the reason many people enjoy dining in restaurants.

It’s probably a good idea to split dessert.  The caveat: Never share a plate. That thing where they deliver the enormous slab of cake and 4 forks inevitably leads to an eating contest to get the delicate sliver at the tip, then the icing off the back…you get the picture.

Ask for your own plate, or to have the thing pre-split.  Tell the server you aren’t good at sharing.  They always seem to believe me when I say it..

If your partner eats like a raptor and goes after yours, you can always stab at him/her a little with your fork, though I don’t recommend this on a first date (unless there won’t be a second date or they seem litigious about being assaulted with a fork).

What?  You are eating with someone on some diet who doesn’t want dessert or is just not really human and doesn’t have a sweet tooth?  Don’t forgo dessert because of them.  Order dessert and ask to have it split, with the other half placed in a to-go container.  Tomorrow there will be more dessert for you! If, while you enjoy your guilt-free serving, you notice sad-doggy looks, they won’t belong to your happy face.

Always leave a good tip for a server who goes the extra mile.  They’ll be thrilled to help you get that torte into a to go container next time.

Small change #10: Find out how many calories you need in a day

Once in a while I’m asked how many calories a person needs in a day.

It depends on the person’s height, weight, gender, age and activity level.

All of which you can enter right here to find out the answer quickly, along with how much you should eat in a day if you were being a perfect angel.  Click Create profile, and you will be prompted with boxes for the above information before the site will calculate your caloric needs.  If you want a quick estimate without considering exercise or the factors above, look here.

Even if you’re feeling a little less heaven-sent, this will give you guidance.  Moderation in all things, even perfection!