Monday, November 30, 2009

What Are You Working Towards?

Even though I now have lost 30 or so pounds, I still hate the scale. The number it shows almost always disappoints me, and it’s not enough of a reward to keep going. I’ve worked on finding other ways to measure my progress and establish short-term goals to work towards. One of my favorites is clothing.

The outfit you see to the left is one that I worked towards fitting into the past 11 months. I got the size 12, Ann Taylor, A-line skirt in New York City during a visit to my sister a couple years ago, and I always thought it would look very sharp paired with a red shirt. It was one of my fantasy outfits I dreamed of wearing when I finally got thin.

When I first tried on this skirt, I was able to fasten only the top button if I sucked it in, and the gapping sides formed a large triangle. Whenever I reached a particular milestone in my journey to becoming a healthy writer this year, I’d try on this skirt and watch that triangle get smaller and smaller until I was finally able to close all the buttons. Once there were no gaps between the buttons and the skirt was no longer too tight to wear in public, I proudly and very happily donned this outfit and wore it to work Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. I even was able to top the outfit with a very stylish, size 12, Ann Taylor Loft, short, winter coat. I made a colleague take my picture so I could document this accomplishment.

I’ve used other pieces of clothing, such as the outfit pictured to the right, as ways to measure my progress this year as well. I discovered that once I started to fit into more and more pieces in a particular size, I needed to start using a size smaller pair of pants, skirt, dress or top to measure my overall progress. I still have plenty of size 12s that I don’t fit into: a lovely Ann Taylor pencil skirt suit, 3 Tahari pants suits, and several other pants, but now that I can wear several size 12 outfits, I need to have some size 10s to work towards.

I did not own any size 10 clothing until mid-October. It’s been a very long time since I could fit into any, and I did not keep my thin college clothes. I did have some clothing I’d bought massively on sale through the years to thin into, but I never dared to dream I’d get back into a 10. Contrary to the fact that I am admitting to how many pieces of clothing I’ve bought when they were still too small to wear, I really do have a frugal streak. I only ever bought clothes one or two sizes smaller than I currently was and only when it was really, really on sale. (Yes, the frugal Yankee in me does feel a little guilty about this.)

In the past month, I have bought three size 10 pieces of clothing: a size 10 Evan-Picone purple dress (very Michelle Obama), a medium (sizes 8/10) Ann Taylor green silk shirt dress, and a size ten Ann Taylor Loft pair of corduroys. All three pieces were bought massively on sale. The two dresses were in the 30s and the pants were $22.04. I even tried the clothing in a size that currently fit to make sure they would be flattering when I reached a size 10. For less than $90, I have great encouragement to keep going and something to measure my progress against. I think it’s worth it.

What are you working towards? Have you found ways to measure your progress other than the scale? What helps you succeed on your journey to becoming a healthy writer?

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Saturday, November 28, 2009


If you all are like me, you're recovering from the big meals of the past couple of days. We still have one more family gathering today, and then it'll be back to eating more sensibly. I haven't tracked my calories over the holiday, choosing instead to start anew tomorrow when I'm home. I also got my new pedometer, so I can start tracking my step counts again. I really want to challenge myself to see how much I can lose before Christmas. To be half way to my goal, I need to lose another 10 pounds by the end of the year. I think if I really dedicate myself to keeping the daily calorie intake to 1,200 and exercising a couple hours a day, I can do it. It will be a huge milestone, and I'll be at a weight I haven't seen for awhile. When I get to the 20-pounds-lost mark, I plan to do some before and after photos of myself here as inspiration to keep going.

This blog will also return to normal on Monday, once everyone is back home from visiting family and indulging a bit in foods we normally eschew. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and here's to all of us having a great rest of the year of healthy living and weight loss.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Here in the U.S., today is notoriously the biggest eating day of the year. A day of excess. Overeating, over drinking, over doing. How to keep from being an over-doer today? Here are 3 tips to stay on top of Thanksgiving overload...
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Biggest Loser, Week 11

We're down to the last day on the ranch and the final four contestants. Consequently, we had a lot of looking back and comparing where these people were when they arrived at the ranch and where they are now. We saw Rudy struggling with a 40-pound bar at the beginning and then lifting it like it was nothing in week 11. Same with Danny and a 30-pound bar. It really was awe-inspiring to see how far they'd all come in such a short time.

In addition to their physical health, they got a lesson in wealth health from Suze Orman (Michelle is on her way home for Thanksgiving tonight, and I know she's going to hate that she missed this). Orman shared some jaw-dropping statistics with the contestants, among them the fact that in the U.S. $147 billion is spent a year on obesity-related illnesses. O...M...G! That's just ridiculous.

The first challenge of the evening was a series of questions asked while the contestants were on treadmills. Get it right -- earn $1,000. Get it wrong -- your treadmill incline and speed goes up. The second challenge really appealed to the guys since all three played or coached football. Former NFL star Rod Woodson came by for a challenge in which the contestants had to pull a barrel with the amount of weight they'd lost on the ranch while carrying weighted footballs to set points on a football field representing the weeks they'd been on the ranch. Allen, the winner of the challenge, got two tickets to the next Pro Bowl.

At this week's weigh-in, no one had a weight advantage or immunity, and Liz and Allen fell below the yellow line. Amanda beat the odds and lost 7 pounds to ensure herself a spot in the final four. Her story really touched me this week, how she'd really made a breakthrough in learning to love herself. Her bond with Bob is so heartwarming, and it makes me smile to think that now she can live the rest of her life without those old feelings of self-loathing.

Rudy and Danny continued to be a weight-loss machines with Rudy losing 12 pounds and Danny 16 to help him set a new record of most consecutive weeks (7) of double-digit losses. Danny completely skipped the 290s to reach his new weight of 288. Liz's 5-pound loss and Allen's 8-pound loss put them below the yellow line, and Allen was sent home when swing vote Amanda voted to keep Liz on the ranch even though she potentially presented her with a bigger challenge.

Tonight there is a Biggest Loser special on in which we get to catch up with some former contestants, including one winner who has gained all the weight back. That makes me incredibly sad, but I'm hopeful I'll gain more inspiration for my own journey by watching the success stories.

What were your favorite parts of last night's episode?
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Living in the Land of the Unhealthy

During the past couple of weeks, I've seen so many news stories about poor health in the South, articles such as this one about obesity and diabetes rates. When lists of statistics come out regarding cancer rates, obesity and diabetes, the top 10 spots are overwhelmingly filled with southern states. These are the lists we don't want to be at the top of. But we are, and the causes are things we see from a young age. We see parents or other adults smoking or chewing tobacco; we deep fry anything that stands still long enough; and we consume way too many sugary sweets. We're the land of soft drinks, sweet tea and fried catfish -- the land of the unhealthy. I think this makes it even harder to commit to a healthy lifestyle. When you see everyone around you eating those yummy things that are, nevertheless, horrible for you, you feel left out.

Even views of exercise seem to be different here. Sure, people exercise, but it's not so obvious in the way communities are structured. For instance, I've been to Madison, Wisconsin, a few times to visit with my agent. I love it there because it is such a pedestrian-friendly city. There are paved paths and trails literally everywhere. You see people walking, jogging, biking and roller blading all over the city. In my subdivision, there are no sidewalks. I live on a cul de sac, but if I want to go walking around most of the neighborhood, I have to brave a short walk along a busy road (with no sidewalks, just drop-offs into deep ditches) to get to the main part of the subdivision where I can walk more easily. People who brave getting on their bikes here are honked at and the subject of much upset by those attached to their cars.

Some work is being done to create greenways around the city, but at this time it would take a drive to get to any access point. I got the feeling in Madison that you could hop on a trail with ease, like the city was a big wheel with many spokes shooting out from the center.

From my travels, I've noted that places like California and parts of Florida are better locales for those wanting to get into a healthy mindset, but I also know that we can't use the challenges as excuses. We have to just work a little harder and call on our willpower more to live the healthy lifestyle that will keep us out of those dismal statistics.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Can You Take a Break?

A very common complaint of dieters is that they get so sick of having to be aware of everything they put in their mouths and constantly counting calories or points. They want to be able to eat “like everyone else” and not have to work so hard at this. They’re particularly jealous of thin people who seem to be able to eat whatever they want and still stay skinny.

This is definitely a complaint I’ve thought, felt and said through the years. I’ve gone so far as to say I’m going to take a break from keeping a food diary and stop obsessing about how many calories I’m eating. I’d often do this for a vacation, a business trip, a holiday or just whenever I needed a break.

The problem with this was that my old, bad habits were waiting to embrace me with open arms and I almost always gained weight. Whenever I went home to Connecticut for the holidays or vacation, it seemed like open season on overeating started as soon as I hit the airport. The smell of Cinnabuns or Five Guys would call my name so strongly that I’d kick off my trip by eating almost my whole calorie allotment for the day in one sitting.

I don’t want to do this the week I’m in Connecticut for Thanksgiving or later in December for Christmas. I’ve thought long and hard about how I can prevent this. I don’t plan to count points/calories on Thanksgiving Day, but I do plan to do that on the other days I’m out of town.

There have been previous trips home for Thanksgiving when I did not gain weight, and that was when I got a travel pass for the gym and worked out at a local Gold’s while in Connecticut. I got my travel pass yesterday and plan to work out both in November and late December.

My accomplishments on my journey to become healthy have inspired my Mom to go back to Weight Watchers and my Dad to try to lose weight. I know my Mom and I can encourage each other to be good starting Friday. I plan to go to a Weight Watchers meeting with her after Thanksgiving to put a stop to the holiday.

To further counterbalance the fear that I’ll gain a lot of weight at home – something that I could obsess over too much and let ruin my vacation – I’ve also given myself credit for what I’ve accomplished this year. I have changed a lot of my bad habits. I just can’t eat as much as I used to. Even if I could, there’s no way I could regain 30 pounds in one week. The stakes aren’t that high.

Furthermore, I’ve paid attention to my “thin” friends when they were eating enough the past couple of years to realize that I typically ate more than them at any one sitting. For the most part, they practiced much better portion control and balanced their calories in and calories out better than I did. This allowed me to stop being so jealous of how easy it was for them to be thin because I realized that they weren’t thin because they hit some genetic jackpot. They were thin because of healthy behaviors.

Realizing this allowed me to concentrate just on myself and what I need to do to change my life in terms of diet and fitness. I can finally say that I am on a lifestyle change and not a diet. There is no break from that. Even if I do gain weight while home for Thanksgiving, I’ll lose it once I return. I really am changing my life here and a blip here or a blip there is not going to keep me from continuing my journey to becoming and staying a healthy writer.

Do you take breaks from your efforts to become healthy? Do you have any good strategies for not allowing a break to keep you off track? Do you have any strategies for not gaining weight while on vacation or during the holidays?

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bringing a Taste of Ireland Home

Last year, my parents, sister and I went to Ireland the week after Christmas. One of our favorite activities there was to have a bowl of vegetable soup and a piece of brown bread in the afternoon. Yes, we do travel around the world on our stomachs. But, in our defense, everywhere we went served phenomenal variations of vegetable soup and brown bread, and it was often chilly outside.

New Year’s Day, I was browsing the gift shop at the Cliffs of Moher (trying to get warm!) and saw Nuala Cullen’s cookbook Irish Soups & Bread. I couldn’t resist and very happily bought it.

I made my first soup just a day after getting back to the states. The recipe was for curried turnips and lentil soup, but you’ve probably figured out that I have no qualms about playing with recipes. I’m a New England girl and much prefer parsnips to turnips, so I substituted one root vegetable for another the very first time I made this.

Curried Parsnip and Lentil Soup

1 pound parsnips

1 cup dry lentils

1 large onion

2 large carrots

6 cups fat-free chicken broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp curry powder

2 Tbsp parsley

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp table salt


Cut the peeled parsnips and carrots into small cubes. Finely chop the onion. Heat oil in large saucepan, add onion and cook until soft. Add the parsnips, carrots and curry powder; cook for five minutes occasionally stirring until oil is absorbed. Add lentils and broth and cook until the vegetables are tender and lentils are cooked, about 40 to 50 minutes depending on how long the lentils were soaked. Check seasoning and add more curry powder, salt and pepper if needed. The soup can be pureed in a blender if a smooth consistency is desired. Add fresh, chopped parsley before serving

This yummy soup is 4 points per serving and hearty enough to be a meal.

Naturally, the first time I made the soup I had to make some brown bread to go with it, and I turned again to the cute little cookbook I’d bought in Ireland. I was still at my parents’ house then, and my mom was thrilled to pull out the extra bread pans that my grandmother had given her. It turns out my mom has great memories of her mom baking bread and rolls, and making this bread together was a way for us to feel closer to Grandma even though she is no longer with us.

Wholemeal Brown Bread

2 ½ cups coarse wholemeal flour

1 cup pinhead oatmeal (pretty sure I used old fashioned oats)

¾ cup wheat germ

2 eggs

approx. 1 ½ cups milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bread (baking) soda

1 ½ teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons sugar


Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Put the lightly beaten eggs in a measured cup, add the olive oil and make up to a pint with milk.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the milk mixture. Fold in the liquid quickly and thoroughly, incorporating all the flour, then turn into an oiled 2 lb loaf tin, smooth the top and make two diagonal cuts. Alternatively, put the dough on a lined baking sheet and shape into a round cake, making two cross cuts on top.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 degrees F for another 35 – 40 minutes. Check whether the bread is cooked by tapping on the bottom – if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Remove from the tin immediately, wrap in a clean tea towel and prop upright until cool.

I can guarantee that this soup and brown bread make a great lunch on a chilly fall or winter afternoon.

Do you have any recipes you’ve brought back from a great vacation?

Post Note:

You may have noticed that I posted pre-weight loss photos with this blog post. I thought they illustrated the points I was trying to make, and I think it’s healthier to post them than to not to do so because I’m fatter in them. I can’t wipe away the ten + years I was obese, and I had some great moments in those years. Ignoring them because I’m embarrassed that I was so big then is not a helpful thing to do in my opinion.

I am vain enough though that I feel the need to post a current photo of myself at the end of this piece. As of Tuesday’s WW meeting, I’ve lost 29 (28.8 to be exact) pounds. I can also fit into more of my 12s. I celebrated by buying a bunch of new, smaller clothes on Tuesday and by wearing a size 12, black skirt (bought to thin into a couple of years ago) with a medium red top for the first time on Wednesday. For quite a while, the outfit you see pictured here was my ideal of what a thin me could wear, and I topped it with a stylish, size-12-short-coat that I also had bought when it was massively on sale to thin into. I was walking on cloud 9 most of Wednesday morning.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tami's Lists -- The Healthy Side of Lists

By Tami Brothers

I’m a list type of girl. Don’t believe me? Just check out my post over at the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog last week where I blogged about how I found a series of books that feed this silly quirk of mine (Did you see the part about me charting the dates I put out Kleenex boxes?).

Seriously, I make lists for everything: grocery lists, to-do lists, bill lists, book lists, and there is even that Kleenex list I mentioned. My house is cluttered with little scraps of paper with some type of list written on it. But that’s not really the point here. As much as I rely on my lists, it wasn’t until I read this blog and looked at several of the sites Trish refers us to that I even thought about listing the food I eat on a daily basis. Honestly, I never dreamed it would really matter -- until I charted that first day.

Day #1 Food Journal
Banana and milk 250 calories
Sausage Biscuit 380 calories

10:20 snack
Chocolate donut at work 250 calories

Arby’s Chicken sandwich 400 calories
Cup of Sierra Mist 250 calories

Cheeseburger (with the works) 770 calories
Potato Salad 350 calories
Soda 240 calories

Fudge bar 100 calories
Total 2,990 calories

Okay, that was an eye opener! Here I thought I was doing fine eating a ‘healthier’ chicken sandwich and loading up the veggies on my burger. With these choices, I felt I could sneak in a few snacks throughout the day and they wouldn’t really be an issue. But 840 calories worth??? They definitely added up. And what’s with the 770 calories for a cheeseburger? I seriously had no idea I was putting this many calories into my mouth until I wrote them down.

Here is a more recent list.

Wednesday October 21, 2009
Bagel and light cream cheese 300 calories
Nips candies 150 calories
Fiber One Bar 140 calories
Healthy Choice Pot Stickers 380 calories
Flavored Water 40 calories
Fiber one Bar 130 calories
Salad with dressing 90 calories
Diet Soda 0 calories
Popcorn 50 calories
Slice of toast 60 calories
Total 1,340 calories

See what I mean? Much better. There is still some snacking going on. Considering this is one of those days where I leave home at 7:30 a.m. for class in the morning, work for 6 hours and then head to class in the evening, and I don't return home until around 8:45 p.m., this was still a pretty good day. I’m more aware of just how much these little snacks and sodas add up and take this into consideration when I don’t have access to healthier foods.

There are still days when my office is filled with yummy things people bring in and the little voice in my head whispers about how ‘good’ I’ve been. On the days when I cave in to temptations, I write this down in my food journal and flag them with little colorful stickies that stand out when I look at the book. Then the next time I’m tempted, I look at the number of little ‘flags’ and debate with myself just how much I really want that chocolate donut.

As simple as this may sound, it’s tough to remember to do. Just typing this post has reminded me of the multiple days I’ve skipped. But when I do remember to journal my food intake, it really works. Not only am I holding myself accountable for each and every thing I put into my mouth, but I’ve also started looking at food differently. I no longer eat something just to eat it. Because my calories are limited, I need to make every item count. Trust me when I say I’ve actually found myself enjoying my meals a whole lot more than I used to.

Before I go, I wanted to share with you guys a neat site I found. Not only does it have some great tips and tricks on eating healthy, but it has some awesome recipes!!! Definitely check it out. AND don’t forget to start listing what you are putting in your mouth. You might just be surprised…
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is it Really As Easy as 2+2?

I was reading a book the other night by one of today’s top fitness gurus and she says that losing weight basically comes down to math. A pound is the equivalent to 3500 calories. To lose a pound, we have to eliminate those 3500 calories somehow – either through food choices or through exercise. It’s that simple.

Or, well, not quite that simple. She also said we have to know what our daily base caloric rate is –how many calories we burn a day just by existing. Here’s the formula to figure that out:

655 + (4.3 x weight in lbs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

The last step is to factor in your activity level.

Sedentary – Multiply your result by 1.1
Lightly Active – Multiply your result by 1.2
Moderately Active – Multiply you result by 1.3
Very active – Multiply your result by 1.4

And that is your base caloric rate.

Keeping in mind that its not recommended that you consume less than 1200 calories a day, you can break your goals down with math.

Say your base caloric rate is 1700. You can diet down to 1200, cutting 500 calories a day (500 x 7 days in the week is 3500 – yay!!) to lose one pound a week. Want to lose two pounds a week? You’ll have to burn that other 3500 calories off in exercise!

What do you think? Is weight loss really just about the numbers?
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Biggest Loser, Week 10

We made it to makeover week. Tim Gunn and Tabatha Coffey showed up to transform the contestants -- new clothes, new hairstyles and colors, even a shave for Rudy. It's amazing what a good makeover can do for a person, even if they do still have a ways to go before they reach their target weight. Loved Liz's and Rebecca's new hairstyles. And I felt Rebecca's pain when she told Tim how awful it had always been to try on clothes because she was overweight. I've been there, experienced that feeling of wanting to look good in cute clothes and being so disappointed that shopping became depressing instead of fun.

The family reunions just before the contestants went out to give their inspiring speeches were touching. The speeches themselves were too. Danny talking about his love for his daughter, Liz encouraging women to take time for themselves, and Rudy revealing for the first time on the show that his weight problem went all the way back to when he was a child and his sister was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died at age 14. Later in the show, Jillian finally got Rudy to dig deep and realize that his feeling of abandonment at that young age was the root of his problems. For all her harshness, I feel Jillian does truly care about these people.

Because of the makeovers and the speeches, the workouts were less this week. We saw some gym time and a challenge in which the contestants had to pull themselves across a canyon suspended 200 feet in the air. Poor Liz is afraid of heights and had to grit her way through the challenge with her eyes closed. That'd be like me having to do some sort of water challenge.

When it came to the weigh-ins, steamroller Rudy kept on rolling, shedding another 16 pounds. He set a new record of most weight lost in 10 weeks on the show. Danny had a double-digit loss, and Amanda had her biggest loss ever with 9 pounds gone. It came down to Liz and Rebecca below the yellow line, and the contestants voted Rebecca out.

After the episode was over, I kept the TV on but muted so I could wait for Rebecca's interview on The Jay Leno Show. She looks fantastic! She weighs less than I do now. And she ran a half-marathon. She also revealed the tidbit that I'd read about online last week -- she's dating Daniel, who was eliminated last week. Lots of Biggest Loser love connections happening.

We've only got two more episodes before the big finale. Who is your favorite to win? What moments did you enjoy most on this week's episode?
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A weekend of contradictions

I was at the RWA Board meeting for the past three days, so my brain is a wee bit tired this morning. I was sitting here looking at the screen, wondering what I could possibly post about. But then I realized that in addition to a lot of board work this weekend, I'd observed some interesting things health-wise. On the positive side, there are a couple of other board members who have been on weight-loss journeys and who have had incredible success. I'm hoping I can have them guest here soon. But at that same board table, candy and cookies were passed around. And I'll admit that I ate some of them. Part of it is that I like Dove chocolate/caramel squares and Christie Cookies, and the other part was that my willpower wanes when I'm tired. Board meeting days are long and you have to be attentive and able to participate in the discussions, and that also contributed to a lot of caffeine being consumed -- tea for some, soft drinks for others like me.

As you might expect, there's a lot of sitting involved in board meetings. I chose to look at it as a positive that our hotel rooms were a good hike from the board room. At least I was walking off some of bad calories I was consuming. I wish I'd had my new pedometer I ordered so I'd know how much I walked this weekend. For those of you coming to the RWA conference next summer, bring your walking shoes -- literally. I think we should all pull a "commuter" and walk to workshops in our tennis shoes and change into our cute heels when we get there. :) But the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is gorgeous and unlike any other place I've ever stayed. I think conference attendees are going to love it. And they'll get in lots of steps while they're there.

It's back to the normal routine today, and that means better eating (I just had an apple for breakfast) and exercise that isn't just walking around the hotel. With Thanksgiving next week, I really need to lose some pounds this week.

Hope you all have a fabulous, healthy, productive week. Please pop by the comments section and let us know how you're doing on your healthy writer journey and what you want to accomplish this week.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

A Healthy BMI

What’s a healthy weight goal for you? In the last 10 or 20 years, health experts have changed that question to what is a healthy body mass index (BMI) for you? The BMI takes into consideration the amount of bone, muscle and fat in your body’s composition and is considered better than the more straightforward height and weight charts that insurance companies used years ago.

I’ve heard that those old charts said a woman should weigh between 3-5 pounds more than a 100 for each inch above five feet tall, so a 5’6” woman should weigh between 118 and 130 pounds. The newer BMI measure would say a 5’6” woman who weighed 118 was underweight.

There are easy ways and hard ways to measure BMI with the harder ways being more accurate but also requiring much more expensive technology. An easy way to calculate your BMI is a formula based on your weight in pounds and your height in inches.

BMI = (Weight in Pounds X 703) / (Height in Inches X Height in Inches)

The calculation for a 5’6” woman who weighed 140 (alas, not me!) would look like this:

22.59 = (140 X 703 = 98,420) / (66 X 66 = 4356)

A BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight while anything 30 and above is obese. Below 20 is underweight, and 20 to 25 is healthy.

Honestly, the formula results seem on the high side based on the results I’ve seen online from BMI calculators that take into account other measurements, but it may assume the woman is not very fit with a lack of muscle tone. (Or, I’m deceiving myself.) One online BMI calculator I like is on Body by Glamour, and I highly recommend you try that one.

You also can see some of the more accurate but also more expensive ways to measure BMI in the first episode of many of The Biggest Loser seasons. I believe one test measures the amount of water displaced when you get into a tub. I’ve never met anyone who got their BMI measured with one of these methods, but it could be an interesting exercise.

Weight Watchers now stresses a healthy BMI. Their healthy weight ranges are based on BMI but easily translate to a height/weight chart.

Height Weight (BMI = 20) Weight (BMI = 25)

4’9” 92 116

4’10” 96 120

4’11” 99 124

5’0” 102 128

5’1” 106 132

5’2” 109 137

5’3” 113 141

5’4” 117 146

5’5” 120 150

5’6” 124 155

5’7” 128 160

5’8” 132 164

5’9” 135 169

5’10” 139 174

5’11” 143 179

6’0” 147 184

6’1” 152 189
6’2” 156 195

6’3” 160 200
6’4” 164 205

6’5” 169 211

I can’t imagine thinking a 6’2” man weighing 200 pounds is overweight, but these are interesting guidelines to look at as you figure out what’s a healthy weight for you. I’m using the healthy BMI range as my ultimate goal in my weight loss journey. I’d like to get back into that range with perhaps a 10 to 20 pound cushion. I’m around 5’6”, and my healthy weight range is 124 to 155 or a BMI of 20 to 25. I’ve been throwing around the 135 to 140 pound range as my ultimate goal. That may be too ambitious, but I may get there if I keep working at it.

What do you think of the body mass index? Do you think it’s more accurate than the old height weight charts or a new way to talk about the same old thing? Does it influence what you think is a healthy weight for you?

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cake as Easy as...Pie

Despite the title of today's post, there's no pie involved. But there is some easy cake. I've mentioned before that I get daily e-mails from Hungry Girl, and one day is devoted to reader questions. This week, someone asked for the recipe for the chocolate cake Hungry Girl (aka Lisa Lillien) made on a recent episode of Rachel Ray's show. When I hear people say recipes are simple, I approach with caution. Simple to someone else is not simple to me. Cooking is not on my top ten favorite things to do. But this recipe is so simple. It only has two ingredients -- a box of devil's food cake mix and a can of pumpkin. That's it. Here are the brands I used when I made the cake this week.

Since you're not using the liquid ingredients it calls for on the cake mix box (which lessens the calories to 181 per 1/12th of the cake), the mix will be thick when combined.

But the cake turns out looking fine.

And tasting pretty good too, even without icing. :)

For the full recipe for HG's Yum Yum Chocolate Cake, with instructions, check out this link at Hungry Girl. Considering we're going into primo baking season, it's good to have some options that aren't loaded to the hilt with calories.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Superwoman I am Not

By Nicki Salcedo

Here is the first thing that you need to know about me: One week ago, I posted my age and WEIGHT on my blog. I haven’t even reached my goal weight yet, but it was liberating to admit how much I weigh. My weight has always been a dirty little secret. My driver’s license certainly doesn’t reflect my real weight. In fact, I’m proud to say that I’m only 13 lbs over my “stated” driver’s license weight. This is what we call a victory!

Here is the next thing you need to know about me: Even though I have three small kids ages 5, 4, and 2, I was 40 lbs overweight before I started having kids. My excuses for being heavy were that I liked food and I loved to read a good book. Food and the delicious luxury of reading is a dangerous combination.

I’ve lost almost 40 lbs in the past two years. I’ve gone from a size 18 to a size 10 (depending on the strength of my Spanx). I’m taking my weight loss very slowly, because I want it to last. I feel like I’m working very hard every day. It is more than a struggle or a battle. Those are outside conflicts. I am fighting myself. I am my best friend and worst adversary. All I can do is watch what I eat and try to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Every day!

Here is the final thing you need to know about me: Exercising and controlling what I eat has really helped me as a writer. When I have spare time, I’m supposed to do one of two things: work out or write. I’ve figuratively cut the fat out of my life. I don’t watch TV. I used to read several books a week, and now I’m lucky if I read one a month. I’m trying to stay focused. It isn’t easy. I still have a full-time job (As you are reading this post, I’m on a business trip in Minneapolis). I have a spouse (He is typing on his computer next to me as I type on mine). And it is NaNoWriMo (I’m writing longhand so I’m not even sure of my current word count).

Someone recently called me Superwoman, but Superwoman I am not. Superwoman would cook all of her meals from scratch. Her house would be clean. She would love exercising and eating healthy and would never struggle with setbacks or temptations. Superwoman would never have let herself get 80 lbs overweight.

I love Superwoman. She is sexy and cool. She is a fighter. But I do have one thing over her. Her triumph is in her perfection, but mine is in my perseverance. I hope you have a happy exercising day, a happy eating day, and a happy writing day. Your progress is never small. Always consider yourself super!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Exercise Endeavor - The Right Equipment

By Tawny Weber

Last week as I re-embraced my love for jogging, I discovered three things:

1. A once broken foot, even after 3 years, can still hurt.

2. Support is everything.

3. Sometimes an ugly shoe is okay (okay, I shuddered as I typed this one).

My sneakers were, well, old and worn. My first time back on the treadmill to jog and I was almost in tears, my feet hurt so badly (especially the foot I’d broken). But they were cute shoes! They were solid black, which meant they went with everything I wear, and usually there was a nice clean flow of color from my black yoga pants or black sweatpants or, well, any pants but jeans, since I have at least a dozen pair of comfy black pants that are meant for exercise but inevitably worn for writing (hey, can I call them ‘writing exercise’ pants? No? LOL).

The problem was, they didn’t offer any kind of support for jogging. And worse, since I’m trying to get back into jogging after a 3-year break and a broken foot, they weren’t helping my motivation at all. So I bit the bullet and went to a local running store to be fitted for the right shoes. My only requirement? That the new shoes not be blue.

It was so cool. They put me on a treadmill and videotaped how I run, as well as having me step on a pressure-pad that measured my arch and pressure points. From there they were able to recommend specific shoes that would offer me the right arch support, cushioning and fit. I tried on a bunch, all different brands. And fell in love with one. The cushioning, the support, the fit. It all rocked. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made in how my feet felt. I mean, I’m a gal who thinks nothing of stuffing my toes into 4-inch platforms if they’re cute enough. Wow. I had to have them. As soon as I got home, I tied them on and hit the treadmill. The result? Amazing. Suddenly, the workout was all about achieving, not enduring.

How about you? Have you ever gone in for a special fitting for sneakers? If so, were you surprised by the results? If not, would you ever consider it?

(BTW, the shoes? They’re blue. Sometimes comfort really is more important than fashion.)
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Biggest Loser, Week 9

Okay, talk about a roller-coaster ending to an episode, especially for Shay. She's on top of the mountain one moment when she lost 17 pounds to become the fastest woman in show history to lose 100 pounds. A few minutes later, she's fallen below the yellow line. Even with a big loss number, when you're dealing with percentages and you're the biggest person on the show, it's hard to beat out the other people. I have to say I was surprised when she was voted off.

During the weigh-in, I felt Amanda was going to be the one to fall below the automatic-elimination red line. But it ended up being Daniel. Even though I like Daniel, I was happy for Amanda. Though she consistently gets the smallest numbers, she works so hard for each and every pound. I can relate to that, as I'm sure many of you reading this can. Plus, this was Daniel's second chance.

The downer moment of the episode for me was when Daniel went to see his teammate from last season, who was still a really big guy and kept making excuses for why he wasn't focusing on weight loss. He said it wasn't a priority. Dude, seriously, it's a priority.

So, my question for those of you who've seen previous seasons -- do they stop showing transformation moments at some point because they didn't have one for Shay tonight. It made me wonder if they're saving a really big surprise for the finale, like she's met that goal of losing 213 pounds.

Biggest head-scratcher of the night -- what was up with that smack talk between Rudy and Shay? I've been a big Rudy fan, so I didn't like this at all. It made me wonder if something's been going on that we've not been privy to. It just seemed to come out of left field for me.

Oh, and I accidentally got spoiled on something that is going to happen at the finale when I was looking around online. Wish I hadn't. I shall say no more than that.

What were your favorite moments this week? Least favorite? Now that there's a smaller field, any guesses on who will win the overall competition?
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Preventive Measures

When I rolled out of bed this morning at 6:45, I wondered how I used to do this every day for years. When I left work full-time, my body went back to a more natural sleep pattern which is getting up between 8 and 8:30 and going to bed around 1. But this morning, I was on a mission to get my flu shot and I had to be over at my former place of employment (where I still do contract work) by 8 for the employee health day where I could get a seasonal flu shot. I'd gone by my doctor's office last week to get one only to find out that they were totally out and wouldn't be getting any in until after the first of the year. Hello, that's more than halfway through the flu season.

I think the concern with H1N1 has people going out in droves to get even the normal flu shot. I know that I've lived a much healthier existence in the winters thanks to regular flu shots, so I'm a big fan. And when you've got deadlines (whether self-imposed or contracted), you don't have time to be sick. I hate the trying to catch up after being in bed sick for several days.

I would have gotten the H1N1 vaccine if it had been available, but it wasn't and they didn't have any idea when they might get some. It's possible I already had it in early September, but I'm not sure. The swine flu is behaving oddly in that it's affecting people in atypical ways for a flu. Some people weather mild cases just fine, and then others die. And it's not the people who normal seasonal flu tends to kill. There was a 13-year-old girl near my hometown who died from it. And my sister told me that one of her high school classmates is in an ICU unit with double pneumonia, swine flu and in a medically induced coma. He can't be more than 35.

I'm not being alarmist, but I think it's good to take precautions, or preventive measures, during the winter cold and flu season. Remember to regularly wash your hands with hot water and soap, particularly after handling shopping carts, money, anything that others have handled as well. Get plenty of fluids, fruit, veggies and exercise. The exercise has the added benefit of keeping you warm.

What other preventive measures do you take during the cold and flu season?
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Monday, November 9, 2009

What's in a Number?

I’m in month 11 of my (latest) journey to becoming and staying a healthy writer. I started in the beginning of 2009 and promised myself I’d give it a year no matter what. I would go to Weight Watchers (WW) all year and go to the gym at least 100 times. I’m approaching the one-year mark, and I’m starting to obsess about what my total weight loss number for 2009 will be. Will the number be big enough?

I don’t think that’s healthy or helpful. When I first set my health goals for the year, I told myself that it would be a success if I just lost 20 pounds. Actually, losing 20 pounds and reaching size 14 seemed almost an impossible goal for years and years. I promised myself I would continue with my efforts if I lost almost no weight. If I lost 5, 10, or 15 pounds, I’d still go to WW every week and keep working out throughout the year. No matter what I’d give it my all.

I’ve now lost 25 pounds and gone down 2 or so sizes. I’m very happy to have accomplished that, but I can’t help thinking I want a bigger number for the year. There are ladies at my regular WW meetings who have lost so much more. I can think of at least 2 who have lost more than 40 pounds, and we started at around the same point. If anything, I started older and fatter.

I know it’s not healthy to compare myself to others. I can only do what I can do. I’ll never be perfect at this, but if I keep going, I will make forward progress. Knowing that still doesn’t mean I don’t entertain unhealthy thoughts.

For example, I've thought about staying in DC for Thanksgiving – partly as a money saver but also because I'd eat less than if I went to CT and might actually lose weight that week bringing me that much closer to a “big” number for the year. Not a really good reason, I realize, and I love going home for Thanksgiving, but it’s still tempting. It’s just another sign that I have to struggle against getting obsessed with what my total weight loss for the year will be. It's a great measurement, but I think obsessing about it is unhealthy. It just leads to negative feelings that can lead to overeating.

What does it matter if it's 30 pounds vs. 35 vs. 20 something if I'm ultimately heading to the same point? It certainly does not help that it encourages me to consider doing really stupid, unhealthy things like contemplating cutting back my eating to unhealthy levels for the next 2 months. I know that’s stupid, but it does still cross my mind at times. The only way the size of my annual weight loss number matters would be if I let myself think the number was too small and I should just give up. I’ll never make my goal weight so why should I continue?

I promised myself I’d give it my all for 2009, and I’m absolutely committed to that, but 2010 is a new year. Now, I’m leaning towards making myself the same promise for 2010, and in some ways, joining this blog did extend my promise further than Dec. 31, 2009. I’m trying to be aware of my emotions, so I can work them out and not let them convince me to mess this up and self-sabotage. I want to keep moving forward in a healthy way. That’s why I’m trying not to obsess about what my total weight loss number for 2009 will be.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Goals for This Week

I've been remiss in posting goals on Sundays, but that ends today. I've got lots of goals set up for different aspects of my life -- writing, health and home improvement. I like dividing goals up into separate areas so I can feel like I'm accomplishing things in various areas, not just one. That's how I divide my yearly goals I compile at the end of the year. So here are the goals for this week, ones I'm determined to complete.


1. Eat no more than 1,200 calories a day.
2. Exercise at least 1 hour a day, more if at all possible.
3. Update my tracking program each day.


1. Complete proposals for Harlequin and send to my agent.
2. Complete proposal for paranormal project and send to my agent.
3. Four blogs other than my own (two here at Healthy Writer and two others); update my personal blog every day.

All of this writing stuff needs to be done by Friday morning because starting mid-day Friday, I'll be tied up all weekend and the following Monday by the RWA board meeting.

Home Improvement:

1. Sit down with hubby to compile list of things we want carpenter to do around house.
2. Contact and schedule carpenter to do work.
3. One hour of yard work every day, Monday-Thursday. I'm in the process of redoing flowerbeds, weeding, raking leaves, cleaning out the area behind our back fence. Basically, it's an unending job, but a good reason to get some fresh air before it gets too cold to go outside.

So, don't leave me hanging out here alone. What goes do you have for this week? Share so we can cheer you on.
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Comfort Food

Trying to eat healthy does not mean you need to leave comfort food behind you.  You can find healthier versions of your favorite meals.  The eggplant parmigiana recipe of several weeks ago is a great example of one. 

There’s nothing more comforting than chicken soup, and it tends to be very healthy in all its forms.  A real staple of mine is chicken and dumplings, and it’s a pretty easy but very tasty recipe.

Chicken and Dumplings

4-6 cube(s) chicken bouillon cube 

1 large onion, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

3 large stalks celery, chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp table salt

1/8 tsp McCormick Ground black pepper

1 tsp poultry seasoning

4 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 cup fat-free skim milk

1 1/4 pounds Chicken breast, skinless, boneless, raw


Place chicken, bouillon, onion, celery, carrots and salt and pepper (for seasoning - to taste) in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Cook to boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken and when cool, shred.

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add the oil and milk, blend lightly. Drop by spoonfuls into the simmering broth. Cover and steam 15 - 20 minutes. Add the chicken to the soup and serve when warmed.

The version above is 8 points per serving based on 6 servings.  The poultry seasoning in the dumplings is one of the secrets to the success of this recipe, so don’t skip that!  I do sometimes mix dark and white chicken meat in this soup.  To my surprise, it also freezes very well.

This meal is a real favorite among my friends, and I’ve given the recipe out to lots of folks.  I’ve had the joy of some of them cooking it for me – proving they really do like it a lot.  Carol Elise Hayes likes to use roasted chicken instead of boiled meat, and that does really change the flavor of the soup.  You may want to give it a try.

What are your favorite comfort foods?  Have you figured out ways to give them a healthy spin?

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Everything I Learned About Managing Stress, I Learned From My Dog

By Amy E. Nichols

Stress is a strange thing. Each creature on this planet has a reaction to stressful situations. Most of these are life and death, survival of the fittest type stuff. All animals have adrenaline reactions. What makes humans so different when it comes to stress?

Stress is the common denominator in many health issues. High blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, even obesity can all be caused by stress and our management of it. It ages you as well. It robs us of our sleep. It can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks. It’s not good.

It’s not all bad either. Studies have shown that some stress is actually good for you. An example of a good stressful situation is the nervousness you feel before a performance, or presentation. Good stress can challenge us to do better, to take chances. Bad stress or chronic stress is the stuff that we need to be concerned about. The constant compounding of stressful situations repeatedly day in and day out with no relief makes humans different from the rest of the animal world.

Take the humble dog. We have a mutt that is one-half Australian Shepherd, half Labrador and 100% lazy. She gets all hyped up when someone comes into the yard. She barks, she growls, but as soon as she realizes that it's okay, she’s back to being a slug at the top of the stairs. The stress of someone coming into the yard is all forgotten.

Not so with us humans. We regurgitate a situation repeatedly, reliving our reaction. We repeat it all again, reliving the feeling, embracing the anger and driving our cortisol levels through the roof. For what?

It has taken me over a year to learn one key lesson on stress management. The only thing in any situation I control is my reaction to it. I can relive it repeatedly and whip myself up into a stressed-out frenzy or I can be like the dog. Bark loudly then forget it. I choose the dog.

What stresses me out the most is not having control of a situation. I am a peon at work, near the bottom of the pole in a place where gravity is proven to work as the stuff rolls down the hill. Sound familiar?

A study was done in England and determined that those at the top of the food chain or high up on the management chain experienced much less stress than those at the bottom of the food chain. I’m at the bottom as many of us are.

In a stressful situation, the only thing we can control is our reaction and how often we continue to react to the situation. Before, I would talk about it to anyone who would listen, reliving in vivid detail including all the blood pressure raising emotions. Now I’m like the dog. I may bark or growl when I don’t agree, and then it is forgotten. I take a walk. I fix a cup of tea. I call a friend and find something to laugh about. I choose to control my reaction.

It has been a subtle change. I don’t discuss work as much anymore. I find humor in situations rather than get all bent out of shape. I sleep better. I’m not in the cookie line at the coffee shop nearly as much. My average blood pressure is down. I control my reaction. I am learning to be like the dog. She has it pretty good.

Amy is an aspiring writer balancing a stressful day job with writing by night. She is currently finalizing her first novel, Unraveling a Gentleman.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Exercise Endeavor -- One Foot in Front of the Other

By Tawny Weber

For years, one of my exercise mainstays for first losing, then maintaining weight was my treadmill. I love to run. I love to run indoors even more because when I first started, I had an infant who slept very sporadically and poorly, so my only running time was during her naps. I’d worn through two treadmills by the time she was 6.

Then in 2006 I broke my foot. In 2006, I also sold my first book and discovered the wild world of revisions, line edits, real deadlines, promotion demands and writing under pressure. I’d like to say that if I hadn’t broken my foot, I’d have used the treadmill and exercise as a stress-release tool, but I’m not so sure that’d be the truth. We hauled the treadmill out to storage and I dabbled at a number of other exercise programs, but none seemed to give me that ‘you can do it’ motivation like running had.

So last weekend, I cajoled my ever-so-patient husband and my owes-me-for-years-of-free-babysitting brother into hauling that very heavy treadmill into the house and upstairs. I dusted it off. I spent a half hour searching for the power switch. Then... I was back in business.

After the first day and a minor shoe issue (next week’s blog) it was like coming home. I’d figured it’d take me awhile to get back up to speed –and it really will –but by day 3 I was up to a nice walk/jog interval combo and I can see that within a week or so I’ll be up to a walk/jog/run interval.

It just feels right. There’s no angsty mental whining that I ‘have to’ go force myself to workout. I just want to jump on and do it. Which is a huge relief, let me tell ya. Because I know exercise is the key to my losing this weight.

How about you? Do you run or jog? Any ‘here’s how to love it even more’ tips or hints?

Progress (Trish): Would you believe a second pedometer I had refuses to work? Ugh. Granted, this one was a freebie from the bank, but still. I'd never used it before. So, I need to do some research on pedometers, find a really good quality one that has good accuracy ratings. Anyone have one that you absolutely love? I really hate not having that step number to look at. It's something I can check throughout the day to see how I'm doing. I was going to go by a sporting goods store today after I finished some interviews for a freelance story I'm working on, but they took way longer than I anticipated (though the story is interesting) and I didn't make it to the store. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to get a new pedometer and do another healthy thing and get my flu shot.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Biggest Loser, Week 8

We had a change of venue this week, with all the remaining contestants going to Washington, D.C., to inspire others to think about healthier living. They met with senators, talked to strangers on the street, got as many people as they could to come to the Washington Monument to exercise with Bob and Jillian, and participated in challenges with the sights of the nation's capital in the background.

Observations from this week:

1. When I was a newspaper reporter, the thing I hated the most was called Man on the Street. I had to ask 4 random people a question of the week. I loathed it. So the challenge where they had to go up to complete strangers and try to get them to come exercise at the Washington Monument? Ugh! I thought for sure Alan was going to win with all the firefighters. Even though he didn't, it was pretty impressive showing all those fire engines rolling up to the challenge.

2. Rudy dipped down into single digits this week with 9 pounds lost, but that's still an impressive number when they didn't get to the gym as much as usual.

3. I was happy for Shay when she went under the 400-pound mark. There has been such a difference not only in her appearance but in her attitude and outlook on life. It makes me happy to watch it.

4. Rebecca was kicking it in the challenges. She was a woman on a mission in that step challenge. Poor Rudy tried, but he had a lot more weight to haul up and down on that step.

5. And yay for Amanda for having her biggest loss yet! I really think Bob is the kind of trainer she needs. It's like any other kind of coach -- some have methods that work for us, and some don't.

6. How cool was it that they got to pick veggies out of Michelle Obama's garden and make salads in the White House kitchen. I kept hoping for an Obama entrance, even though I knew the likelihood was remote. Still, it would have been really cool.

7. Tracey's actions finally came back to bite her, but here's the thing -- I'm really happy that she's been doing so well. She's come so incredibly far since that woman in the home video downing chocolate syrup right out of the bottle. It was great seeing her not only conquer a mile in D.C., but to go back and run that same mile that had sent her to the hospital in really bad shape in the the season opener was really inspiring. And she looks great.

Looks like two people will be eliminated next week. I think that will bring us down to 5 contestants.

What were your favorite moments this week? What did you find inspiring?

And who do you think will be the eventual winner of this season of The Biggest Loser?
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My New Calorie Tracker

I mentioned a few days ago that I was trying out a free trial of a computer program to track my food and exercise. I decided to buy this program from Calorie King tonight because I like how it allows me to click and drag many common foods into sections for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks. I can also customize foods and add them to my listings if they aren't in the system. Not only does it tell me the calorie count but also things like fat content, carbs, fiber, protein, etc. And it shows me in a chart how many units of each of these I've taken in for the day and how that compares to my limit as determined by what I input for my weight, height, rate of activity and weight goals (whether I wanted to lose or maintain). I actually shoot for fewer calories than it's telling me I can have, but not below the 1,200 limit that I've seen mentioned many places as the low end of the safety spectrum.

The program also allows me to put in what exercise I've done for the day, how many calories that has burned, and how that affects my allowable calorie intake. There's a check-in function that allows me to put in weekly weigh-ins and other info if I want. It also lets me track my fluid intake and lets me know how much more I need in the day. If it only had a place to keep track of steps, but that's okay. I'll put that in the check-in area.

After I've been using the program for awhile, there's a function that will let me see progress charts over time.

How do you all track your food intake, exercise, etc.? A computer program? Spreadsheet? Write it in a notebook?

Oh, and I killed a pedometer today. When I got home from running three hours of errands, I looked at it to see how many steps I'd tallied only to find it was dead, dead, dead. Luckily, I had another and strapped it on. I sure wish I knew what the step count was before the other one died. I feel pretty confident I went over 10,000 today. I've had more than 2,500 on the second one, and that's just been since about 3:30 this afternoon. Most of my walking was before that.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Cooking One Day for the Month

Years ago, I read an article about cooking one day for the month.  It intrigued me, but I never did anything about it.  My usual pattern was to cook two or three dishes for the week on the weekend, and it worked even if I often got sick of what I had made by the end of the week.  Then I bought the Oct. 2007 issue of Cooking Light.  It had a fabulous marinara sauce recipe that you could use as a base in 10 different recipes.   I finally decided to give the concept of having one marathon day of cooking for the month a try.

I chose a three-day weekend for my first attempt.  I planned out the menu and grocery shopped on a Saturday and then devoted Sunday to cooking.  I made that marinara sauce and used it for a chicken, pasta and chickpea stew; a Weight Watchers (WW) lasagna, and the base of a fabulous sausage, peppers and veggies pasta sauce I made up based on one served at Filomena’s, my favorite DC Italian restaurant.  I also made a WW beef enchilada casserole and a large soup.  I divided everything into individual portions and froze them.  I kept opening my freezer to admire the beautiful sight of all those stacks of plastic containers.

My first experiment was a huge success.  It saved time, it saved money, and it saved me from food boredom.  I loved how efficient it was, and it greatly increased the variety of my weekly diet.  Everyday, I could grab something different out of the freezer to eat.  I wouldn’t get sick of it, and it decreased waste.  I wasn’t throwing out food that had gotten too old, or I could not face eating again.  To increase variety, I might make one dish on any given weekend, but I also tended to freeze some of it so I wouldn’t get bored with it.  I also did not have to spend a good portion of every weekend meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking anymore.

Whenever my freezer emptied out after a couple of months, I’d do another session of cooking on a large scale.  I’d often start with some serious planning and play with what recipes I would use.  I might spend time cooking on one or even two days, but I’d then be set for two or even three months before I had to do this again.

It turns out that you don’t even have to spend much time pre-planning.  Three Sundays ago I woke up feeling the need for some productive distraction.  In less than a week, I was leaving for an annual conference I was putting on for work, and the work stress level was too high.  I had brought some work home, but I just couldn’t face doing it.  The night before, my 1995 Dodge Neon had broken down, and I feared it was the end of the line for that old car.  Buying a new or slightly used car was not going to be cheap, and 2009 just feels like a year that I should not spend much money for lots of reasons. 

By 1:00 p.m., I had decided I would do a marathon-cooking day as I had absolutely nothing made in my refrigerator or freezer.  I sat down, picked out 9-10 recipes to make, and made a grocery list.  I grabbed a cart and some bags and walked to my local Giant as I was without wheels.  I hauled all the groceries back and started cooking. 

By the end of Sunday night, I had made WW Bella Braised chicken with whole-wheat penne pasta, my version of a WW Kentucky Burgoo soup/stew, WW kielbasa-bean soup, quinoa beef picadillo (Mexican ground beef dish) and WW Middle Eastern lamb slow cooker soup.  Monday night after work, I made lentil stew, WW slow cooker lentil soup, WW red beans and barley and WW turkey burgers.

My total grocery bill was $122.31.  With the addition of some frozen chicken and other staples I already had, I made 67 individual meals and froze them.  I’ve been surprised by how much money this method of cooking has saved me.  As you can see from my list, I was in the mood for soups and stews and the meals are very Weight Watchers friendly. By doing this, I’ve given myself a great start on another successful two months in my journey to becoming a healthy writer.  I’ll supplement my freezer with some runs for fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products, but I may not cook much more until 2010.  Cooking one day for the month (or quarter) is always a great gift to myself.

Have you ever cooked one day for the whole month?  Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve this process?  Do you have recipes for healthy dishes that freeze well?



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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where's the Wagon?

First, I must apologize for not putting up a healthy cooking post yesterday. I got my weeks mixed up. I probably wasn't the best person to talk about healthy cooking or eating yesterday as I've misplaced the wagon again. The hubby has been off work for the past few days and, well, I've really slacked off on keeping track of what I was eating and eaten some things I shouldn't have. Bad, bad, bad. Amazingly, when I just stepped on the scales, they didn't reflect a weight change. Total shocker! I have to think it's because I walked a couple of the days. And since it's sunny again today (though chilly), I plan to do so today as well. My step range has varied between 6,000+ yesterday to 11,000+ a couple of days ago.

Still, I want to refocus my efforts beginning today -- doubling my exercise, keeping track of those calories. After all, today is a new day and the beginning of a new month. The beginning of the two most difficult months of the year for losing weight. But there are 25 days before Thanksgiving, and I intend to take advantage of them.

So, this week's goals:


1. Lose 2 pounds. If I can lose three, I'll hit a new milestone. We'll see how it goes.

2. Keep calories to 1,200 each day.

3. Buy version of computer program to track calories that I've been using on free trial.


4. Complete partial and two synopses for Harlequin.

5. Begin work on YA revisions for a publisher who expressed interest in my paranormal.

So, what about you all? What are your health and writing goals for the week?
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