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February 28, 2006
The 15-Minute Miracle
I believe I’ve battered down the last bastion of all or nothing or “the diet mentality” that I’ve been harboring.
For me, exercise has always been the doorway for “all or nothing” to assert its insidious ways…“why should I exercise if I can’t do 45 minutes of cardio and 55 minutes of strength training“….“I can’t make a difference unless everything is perfect.”
I try to remind myself of the metabolic health improvements that exercise provides, regardless of how long or how perfectly it was done. I’d try to confront the all or nothing mentality head on by forcibly rejecting those thoughts from my mind. But I’d still find myself saying, “it’s not enough, long enough, good enough, etc to make any difference.”
Then two things happened in succession, I re-read "When Enough is Enough" by Mimi Francis, Green Mountain’s health behavioral therapist, on this blog. And then the number “15” jumped into my head…as in “just do 15 minutes, you can stand that, who can’t fit 15 minutes into their day?”
And it worked…I’ve been able to be much more consistent because I’m only committing myself to 15 minutes - if I want to do more, I can, but if that’s all I can spare, or let’s face it, if I’m bored or not “feeling it” I can stop without shame or blame. And since it was a positive experience, I’m ready to go again without reservation!
So I do call this my 15-minute miracle, and because I discovered the solution that works for me, it feels very natural and easy to do. Work at thinking simpler today, and discover a solution to something that troubles you.
PS It doesn’t have to be anything to do with weight, food, exercise or eating!
February 27, 2006
Do These Genes Look Good on Me?
I love that!
Did you know this week is Body Image Awareness Week? Well it is, and it’s making quite an impression on college campuses all across the nation. I’m so hopeful when I see how many young women are standing up for such an important cause - and dealing with it in such creative and thoughtful ways.
Here's just a taste of some of the courageous efforts taking place on a college campus near you. Hoorah ladies!
At Kansas State!
At Bryn Mawr!
So, this week and every week hereafter, let's honor these women by giving credence to their cause. Think about what you love about your body - and give that critical head a break. Remember, your body hears everything you think!
Picture: Norman Rockwell's - Girl in Mirror
To All The Green Mountain Gals
I just spent the last two weeks in scenic Vermont, immersed in the Green Mountain at Fox Run program for women. I reacquainted myself with where I am on my life long journey to be fit, healthy and happy. I ate great food (prepared just for me – what a luxury!), walked in the crisp New England air, talked to bright and beautiful women from all over the world, laughed a lot and even shed a couple tears.
As I looked around me, I saw women of all ages, shapes and sizes, visiting from as far away as India, Turkey and England – yet there we were, weaved together like long lost sisters in our mission to feel good, be happy and discover our very best selves – starting right from where we were. Right there. Present.
Although, it could be argued that touting the wonderful gifts of Green Mountain on our very own blog might seem a bit self-serving, I do so from the heart. Not as a woman who is associated with this wonderful organization, but as a sister and a friend. Whenever one has a positive experience they want to share it. I only encourage you, dear readers, to take whatever steps are necessary for you to find your own road to health, happiness and hope. Wherever your journey may take you.
Best wishes and hugs to all the wonderful ladies I met over the last few weeks. I hope our paths cross again soon. I wish you the very best on your own personal journeys. I hope for all of us that we get to where we’re going, safely and gracefully. Until we meet again! Cindy
February 23, 2006
This Jamaican recipe will have your spirit floating away on the warm trade winds. It one of many family recipes from immigrants, brought to you from the Library of Congress Recipe Section, which are accompanied by personal stories: "I remember as a little girl, my mom, who was very active in the church would season the chicken from the Saturday night, and the spices would fill the whole house. Then early Sunday morning she would cook the curried chicken and we would be so tempted to steal a piece of chicken before we left for Sunday School. Almost every Sunday my mom would invite someone over from church and we would enjoy this delicious dish, along with other native Jamaican dishes." We hope that you, too, will enjoy your house being filled with wonderful smells and memories!
3 lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
1/2 cup curry powder (hot, mild or regular)
1 stalk green onion
1 medium onion
1 tsp. thyme salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. Jamaican pimento (optional)
1 tbls. cooking oil Preparation Clean the chicken well, and cut into nice size pieces.
Add all of the spices to the chicken and marinate for no less than 3 hours. Brown the chicken slightly, while leaving some of the spices in the bowl. Add water to the bowl then pour into the pot. Make sure there is enough water in the bottom of the pot for the chicken to simmer in. Cook on medium heat until the liquid starts to thicken and becomes like a gravy. Make sure the chicken is well cooked (no hint of pink). Serve with rice and a green vegtable and enjoy.
If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.
February 22, 2006
Exercise, Depression & Feeling Good
I had an unbelievably busy weekend, and my motivation to do anything this week – from making breakfast to making my bed – is at an equally unbelievable low ebb. As I sat at my desk yesterday, making a half-hearted attempt to straighten things up, I ran across a piece I tore out of USA Today last month. The title: ‘Short workouts lift depression.” I don’t think I’m depressed (at least in the clinical sense) but as I re-read the article, I realized what I needed to do to lift myself out of my ennui. Get active.
The study reported in the December 2005 journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (from the American College of Sports Medicine) showed that depressed people who walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes reported feeling more vigorous and had a greater sense of psychological well-being for up to an hour after the workout. The group who exercised was compared to a group who sat quietly for 30 minutes. The quiet group did report reduced negative feelings such as tension, depression, anger and fatigue. But it was the exercise group who said they felt good after being active. The study was considered notable because it is among the first to show that exercise can have a positive effect on depression right away.
I knew that. But it’s easy to forget. So I’m closing now. I have to go take a walk. If walking doesn’t appeal to you, maybe some of these ideas about winter fitness will.
February 21, 2006
I got one of those email forwards - you probably have one in your inbox right now - that ultimately asked for prayers for the leader of this country, regardless of political affiliation. The preamble is what got my attention though:
“Try to imagine yourself in this man's shoes, being verbally assaulted with hatred and venom on a daily basis at his job. Try to imagine if you did the very best you knew how to do, and STILL, you were despised and hated without reason. How would you feel? How would you be able to function on a daily basis at your job? How would you feel every time you went out in public, knowing that people despised you and there was nothing you could do to change their minds?”
I thought they were describing me in junior high!
I’ve always known why overweight children become overachieving adults - they’ve lived through the worst, and it’s prepared them for anything - those that survive the daily humiliations, commonly referred to as “school”, are literally prepared for anything, and able to succeed under conditions that are not tolerable under the Genova Convention.
Just to add to the “school daze” theme, there’s a new study out that found that “overweight” children are more likely to be teased than non-“overweight” children, and that weight prejudice begins pre-age seven. Wow, what a shock.
February 20, 2006
Nature, Nurturing, and Gertie
I’ve been thinking about the idea of retreats lately - from my usual idea about them, like the healthy weight and lifestyle retreat that first came to as a guest 7 years ago this month - to all the one’s that I’ve learned about since. With incredibly diverse agenda’s (from yoga and spirituality to white water rafting and adventures), what struck me suddenly was that almost always they were set outdoors in a place of great natural beauty. A place to say, “stop the world (for a week or so) I want to get off and find where I left me.”
As I considered and pondered this observation to try and clearly define what it is about nature that makes self-reflection easy, stress melt away while the spirit soars, I couldn’t really find a definition that worked. Then I was chased by Gertie, and began to see things more clearly.
Who is Gertie? Well, first her full name is Gertie the Birdie. She’s a female tufted grouse that has adopted Green Mountain’s staff and guests as her own. Showing up one day with a odd aura of tameness about her, she likes to sit with participants, cooing softly while they speak to her, follow you anywhere - around the track and trails, and would come into the building if we let her. No one drives off without a lecture from her to be safe and come back soon.
Gertie has quickly become the most popular “instructor,” with her own fan club and a long list of women that ascribe a lot of emotional healing to her “classes.” It finally hit me why nature “works” - the raw honesty of nature works as a crucible on the human mind and spirit to refine you to your essence. Your roles strip off one by one - not a wife, mother, daughter, employee, employer, just a person; material wealth or possessions are of no consequence to a grouse, or a mountain, or a sunset; intellect has no influence on a waterfall….so you become you - the real, unadorned, essential you.
Much time and effort goes into seeking ideas, experiences, or things that will make us feel like “the real you.” I suggest that you go outside and say “hi” to the sky, the trees, and maybe a bird or two. Gertie and I both wish you a peaceful day.
February 17, 2006
Pink Making No Apologies
As I get older I find myself sounding just like my father, “What is wrong with kids today!?” He would harangue me over my choice of music and all the artists of the day – many of whom I worshiped. All that long hair and talk of drugs, sex and rock-n-roll was enough to make any parent reach for their Rolaids. That being said, I still worry about the images our young women are faced with today. Everywhere they look it’s all about sex, bustin’ bodies and the power they’d have over the world inferred by having both.
Where are their Joni Mitchell’s, Carole Kings and Joan Baez’s? I do think there are still some female artists out there (although not many), who at least have something to say, but is anybody listening? I just read this article and thought I’d post ‘Kudos to Pink’ for standing her ground, having a great self image and sounding off to her peers:
Pink is making no apologies for her video ‘Stupid Girls’, in which she bashes young starlets. "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care," she said about the possible negative reaction. "I've never had a problem being burned alive for my feelings. I feel like so many women have been out there fighting for our independence and our equality and to further our rights, and girls like this come along and wipe out all of our progress and they push this size-zero image that's unattainable for the average person. No girl needs any more reasons to think that her boobs aren't big enough (because of) this mindless, unquestioning consumerism. I'm not a professional athlete but I like being fit. But in every tabloid (has been the headline), A Chubby Pink Walking Her Dogs, and I laugh at it because I don't, at the end of the day, (care) what these people (think)," she said. "They're not feeding me, they're not clothing me and they're not having sex with me ... and they're not my dogs."
Rock on girl!
Source: The Edmonton Sun
February 16, 2006
Veggie Egg Focaccia
Eggs are designed for quick mealtime solutions. Scrambled eggs are a perennial favorite for good reason. They're quick, easy, and adaptable to a wide range of recipes. Does your family balk at eating vegetables? Tempt them with this fabulous open face sandwich from the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension. Stack up slices of sautéed veggies on thick chunks of focaccia. Top it off with a scrambled egg. This version uses zucchini, onion, and roasted sweet red pepper, but you can substitute your favorites.
(Makes 4 servings)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 Lengthwise slices zucchini, about 1/4-inch
4 Thin slices onion
2 Large pieces focaccia bread, cut in half crosswise and toasted
1 Jar (12 oz.) roasted sweet red pepper, drained and patted dry
1/4 Cup skim milk
2 Teaspoons dried oregano, or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
Salt and pepper, optional
1 Tablespoon butter
Tomato slices, optional
Fresh oregano sprig, optional
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add the zucchini and onion slices and cook until tender. Remove from the skillet.
Cut zucchini in half crosswise and arrange on focaccia. Top with onion.
Add the pepper pieces to the skillet and cook over medium heat until heated through, about 1 minute. Place ¼ of the peppers on each sandwich.
In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and oregano. Add salt and pepper if desired.
In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Pour in egg mixture. As mixture begins to set, gently draw an inverted pancake turner completely across bottom and sides of skillet forming large, soft curds. Continue cooking until eggs are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly.
Divide egg mixture evenly and arrange over veggies. Garnish with tomato slices and sprig or oregano, if desired. Serve immediately.
If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.
February 15, 2006
The Metabolic Syndrome, Weight Loss & the DASH Diet
There’s a difference between “diets” as they are commonly thought today and “eating plans.” While technically a ‘diet’ is just another word for ‘eating plan,’ most of the time we think of weight loss diets when the word ‘diet’ pops up. As a result, calling healthy eating styles (such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet) ‘diets’ does them a disservice. Just thinking about a ‘diet’ causes a lot of us to shudder.
When it comes to the Mediterranean and DASH diets, though, I encourage moving beyond such prejudices. Genuine Italian fare (not the Americanized meatballs-and-pasta version) is one of the best examples of how great the Mediterranean diet can taste – not a drop of deprivation in sight! The DASH diet might not be so familiar but it’s essentially a Mediterranean-type eating plan that was devised by researchers looking at how to reduce high blood pressure. It’s characterized by plenty of vegetables, fruits, lowfat dairy products, whole grain cereals and legumes such as beans. While many people turn this type of eating plan into a weight loss program, and can successfully lose weight on it, it offers so much more to our ultimate health and fitness.
For example, a study highlighted last December in Medscape Medical News showed the DASH diet can help with metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by excess abdominal fat, high levels of blood fats, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and a pro-inflammatory state, all of which can increase risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The study showed the DASH diet to be superior to typical reduced-calorie weight loss diets in its ability to improve various biological markers associated with metabolic syndrome, such as reduced triglyceride levels, increased HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) levels, lower blood pressure and – what inevitably catches the eye – reduced waist circumference. Analysis also showed that the reduction in these risks was not due to the weight loss alone that occurred but was affected by the composition of the diet.
So on this day after Valentines, in the month famous for its heart themes (including National Heart Month), let this post serve as a reminder that being healthy and feeling great is about more than a number on a scale. We can actually reach the numbers by a variety of means, but it serves us well to be particular. Eating Mediterranean style not only tastes great but it’s something we can stay with, thereby avoiding the fits and starts of typical diet programs.