Saturday, January 9, 2010

Healthy eating, one day at a time

By Anne McFarlane

For the past 10 years, every New Year’s Day I vowed to lose the 30 or 40 pounds I’d gained over the years. Surely I didn’t eat enough for me to be this big? Oh, I started the year off right. I’d lose 10 pounds then put it all back on. One summer I even lost 20 pounds. Fortunately, I only gained 10 of those pounds back by the end of 2008. But my blood pressure was high and my hips were aching. If I didn’t want to end up on medication or having surgery, I needed to make permanent changes.

2009 started off with that same promise. I had to lose 33 pounds. I weighed more on Jan 1, 2009 than I did on Jan 20, 1990 -- the day before my daughter was born. When I was nine months pregnant!

The promise might have been the same, but my attitude wasn’t. This year there would be no rigid cutting back on food so I was hungry all the time or heading to the gym and exercising until I couldn’t move. I was going to view the weight loss as a healthy lifestyle choice. Rather than trying to shed the pounds as fast I could I would treat it as a year-long project. Every day I would try to make healthy choices and move more. If I had an off day or an off meal I wasn’t going to let it sink the ship. So many times in the past if I fell off the wagon I would give up. The new promise I made to myself is that there would be no giving up. No matter what I ate an hour ago, last night or all day yesterday, it was done. Over with. The only thing that mattered was the next meal in front of me.

Do you know what happened? When I gave myself permission to fail without beating myself up, I succeeded. A little bit like writing a book, isn’t it? You can’t write a whole book if every time you choose the wrong word or plot twist, you give up.

I lost 34 pounds last year. For the first time in years, I dressed for our RWA chapter’s Christmas potluck without trying to squeeze into something that didn’t fit – and wearing a loose jacket or cardigan over pants because I couldn’t do up the button.

Jan 1, 2010, I no longer had to make a resolution to lose weight. That doesn’t mean the struggle is over. Keeping the weight off is a new journey. Every day I have to choose wisely.

One of the big challenges is finding meals that are healthy and taste good. Eating salads and baked chicken and fish everyday can be boring. Sometimes we crave a certain food, maybe something sweet or crunchy. Substituting food with similar textures can help. I love nachos with toppings. I substitute baked chips, salsa, low fat cheese and sour cream. Or, if I have pita bread that’s a little stale I cut it in triangles, use an Olive Oil spray and bake them until they’re crispy. Team those with the salsa and sour cream and it makes a low-fat snack. To replace dessert I team low-fat yogurt with one of those low-ca, individually wrapped cakes or frozen fruit.

An additional challenge is healthy food that appeals to my daughters. And since my girls are teenagers, getting them to eat breakfast before they fly out of the house is tough. Here’s a recipe that started out as light banana loaf and I’ve changed it up to make banana muffins – and added whole wheat flour for a little more fiber and just a few chocolate chips to keep the kids happy:

Healthy Banana Muffins
Makes 16 muffins.

1 cup mashed bananas
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

In small bowl, stir mashed bananas and baking soda together. Set aside. Beat eggs in small mixing bowl until frothy. Cream margarine and sugar in large mixing bowl. Add ½ of the eggs. Beat. Add second ½ of eggs. Beat. Stir in mashed banana. Add additional dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Stir just to moisten. Don’t over stir. Spoon into medium lined muffin tins. Bake at 400 F for about 15-20 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.


Michelle Butler on January 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM said...


Congratulations on the weight loss! Promising yourself a year without giving up makes such a difference, doesn't it?

The Banana Muffins sound absolutely yummy! I'm going to try this recipe soon. In one of my many WW cookbooks, there is a really tasty banana bundt cake recipe that I've been thinking about lately. I might make these muffins instead. :)

Anne MacFarlane on January 9, 2010 at 1:43 PM said...

Thanks Michelle. I love trying new recipes but just wish I could get my daughters to be a little more adventourous with food.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on January 9, 2010 at 2:32 PM said...

Hi, Anne! Thanks so much for contributing to the blog. Congrats on your success. Like Michelle, I think these muffins sound yummy. I'm a great fan of banana muffins. Michelle, that banana bundt cake sounds fab, too.

Julia Smith on January 9, 2010 at 7:19 PM said...

Great post, Anne - one success leads to another. Staying the course with your food choices and exercise, and 'showing up' regularly to write 'crap' which of course becomes gold - both of your roles are cheering each other on. You're definitely inspiring me!

Anonymous said...

happy new year............................................................

Anne MacFarlane on January 9, 2010 at 9:09 PM said...

Thanks for having me Trish.

MaryC on January 10, 2010 at 5:37 PM said...

Congratulations, Anne! Getting dressed for the party this year must have felt so good!

One tip I can add is that I usually substitute a light olive oil in recipes that call for margarine - like your muffin recipe. I've been making a banana bread recipe for years and a little of the light olive oil goes a long way. The light one is especially made for baking and doesn't alter the flavor at all.

Anne MacFarlane on January 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM said...

Mary, that would make the recipe even healthier. Thanks for the tip.

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