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January 31, 2006

Vermont - Winter Wonderland

Snow_5 It may look trite in writing, but Vermont never ceases to amaze me - truly a winter wonderland. Coming from the mid-west where I thought I knew snow and winter, I'm awe struck by the "freshness" of new snow on the landscape, but the most amazing thing of all is the smell and feeling that negative ions give you. (The negative ions are the good ones).

A few mornings ago, I opened my door to a wonderful blue sky and bright sunlight that glinted off the newly fallen snow - and it was my favorite kind of snow, where each branch of the trees are covered in white. Taking a deep breathe of the wonderful negative ions swirling around was something you can't get out of a bottle!

There's something about the temperatures here that make you want to go out and enjoy the beauty first hand. My guess is the lack of humidity, so although the temperature is low, it doesn't cut through you, which was always my objection about the winters in the midwest (or worse yet, has anyone ever been in Florida when they have a 20 or 30 degree temp? It feels like -40 degrees, positively bone chilling!).

I must not be the only one that has these thoughts about winter in Vermont - Ludlow (the town where Green Mountain at Fox Run is located) is hosting the Winter Carnival 2006, "50 Years of Winter Fun" - which celebrates the 50th birthday of Okemo Mountain.

I hope you can experience euphoric feeling that beautiful, newly fallen snow in the mountains gives you, and the surprising desire to get out there and experience more of it...the first one's out there are always the ones from Florida or Arizona!

Posted by Gina V. on January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

It's All About HEART!

Wow, this month just flew by! The good news is, we’re moving into one of the most romantic months of the year…traditionally known for chocolate, valentines and at least one romantic date. 

Or, maybe not. :-)

For those of us not expecting to get a dozen roses or a big box of chocolate covered cherries this year (and even if we do), here’s something else we can get behind.  The start of National Women's Heart Health Month! Not as sexy maybe, but what could be more important than having a healthy heart?  All the better to love someone with…

American Medical Women's Association states that heart health can be greatly improved with awareness of heart disease risk and our willingness to reduce those risks. Like most things regarding healthy lifestyle change, the earlier you start, the greater the benefit.  So, why not start today?

Lifestyle improvements each of us can follow include finding pleasurable physical activity that you enjoy and will continue to do regularly – because you love itHeart_health . Efforts made toward reaching and then maintaining your own healthy weight, which features normal eating (while paying attention to low cholesterol, low saturated fat diet, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables) and managing life stresses and positive thinking.  Nothing, new there!

In honor of our hearts, this coming month we’ll try to focus some of our posts around tips, news, resources and best practices, in relationship to your heart health…and maybe even a little bit on romance, just for fun!

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Posted by Cindy on January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Southwest Grilled Chicken Soup

On chilly and sometimes gloomy days, this southwest grilled chicken soup can perk up the taste buds and leave us dreaming of sunny vacations south of the border. It may take a few ingredients we don't have in our cupboards, but it's simple to make.

(Makes 4 servings)

    Grilled chicken
    12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast halves
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
    2 (14-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
    1 (11-ounce) can Mexican corn
    1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder)
    1 teaspoon lime juice
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    1/4 cup chopped avocado or 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese (optional)
    Lime wedges
    Baked tortilla chips (optional)

Place chicken breasts in a flat dish and sprinkle with lemon pepper; add oil and lime juice and marinate for about 20 minutes. Grill on medium high about 8- 9 minutes. Remove from grill and cut in cubes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown. Add broth, tomatoes, corn and chiles and simmer about 5-10 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.

To serve, divide chicken among 4 bowls (about 1/2 cup per bowl). Ladle soup over chicken and garnish with chopped avocado or shredded cheese. Serve with wedge of lime and baked tortilla chips, if desired.

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on January 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 25, 2006

After the Vacation: Should We Trust Intuitive Eating (Mindful Eating)?

I just returned from a week’s vacation that included plenty of meals out with all the trimmings.  Perhaps it’s needless to say, but my pants are a tiny bit more snug than when I left.  So if I’m an accomplished intuitive eater, why did this happen?  According to intuitive eating ‘rules,’ I shouldn’t be eating more than my body needs if I’m listening, right?  Right.  But vacations present several situations that can interfere with successful intuitive eating.

First, vacations often don’t last long enough for one phenomenon that’s important to intuitive eating to occur.  It’s called sensory specific satiety.  In our everyday lives, we’re subject to that.  We get used to eating the same foods, even if we generally include a wide variety.  When we’re hungry, we look forward to eating those foods, but we often reach the point where we’re satisfied just a little bit earlier in the game than if the food is new, as it usually is on vacation.  When everything is new, it may take a few more bites to achieve satisfaction (if it’s tasty food).  If we continued eating these foods, then we’d eventually find them less interesting, and find our stopping point sooner.

Second, vacations generally mean eating out a lot.  When we eat out, we usually have a lot more courses than we might have at home.  Sensory specific satiety can play a role here, too, because with each new flavor, we often want to eat until we’re satisfied with that flavor.  That doesn’t mean eating a lot if we’re intuitive eaters because other factors that stop eating are more powerful.  For example, if we’re getting too full, then we stop because we don’t want to be uncomfortable, even though the taste might be something we really like and would like more of.  Still, we may often eat just a few more bites than we would at home when we don’t have as many choices, or again, when we have the choices as often as we like. 

There’s also another phenomenon with eating out that’s not well understood, but it has to do with portion sizes.  Studies show that when we have larger portion sizes, we tend to eat more.  And of course, restaurants – especially American restaurants -- are generally known for larger portion sizes. In theory, this shouldn’t affect an accomplished intuitive eater, but because eating out is generally a social occasion, it could have an impact. Studies suggest that we eat more when we eat in groups than when we eat alone.  Probably has to do with not listening as closely to our cues, and the social role that food plays in our lives.  It’s a good time, but at the end of such an event, we might find we ate a bit more than we really want to.

So it makes sense all that can add up to tighter fitting pants when we return home.  What to do about it?  Nothing, really.  If we return to our usual intuitive eating or mindful eating behaviors, our bodies will take care of any extra energy (calories) we’ve stored from vacation.  We won’t be as hungry as usual, and will find ourselves eating a little less – maybe not noticeably less  but it will be less – until our bodies normalize at their healthy weight.  It generally doesn’t take more than a week or so.   Now that’s something to come home to!

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Posted by Marsha on January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

When You Don’t Want the Doctor to Stay Away

Apple_2 Like most women, I’ve had problems communicating with my doctor - both in being understood and  being taken seriously.  When I started writing this post, in the back of my mind was a statistic that I’d read about women not seeking medical care for fear of being chastised about their weight. In looking for the exact study (which I didn’t find) I came across some other statistics from the Commonwealth Fund from a survey done in 2004 that were just as startling.

  • Most appointments are 15 to 20 minutes unless the patient has specifically scheduled a longer time.
  • Just 44 percent of patients think their doctor always spends enough time with them
  • Almost a third (31 percent )of adults with a serious illness said they left the doctor’s office without getting an important question answered

This made me appreciate even more the program that Green Mountain runs in concert with Joslin Diabetes Center, where participants have several hours with a board certified diabetologist, and the heads of behavioral science, nutrition and exercise physiology. With the white coats off and in a dynamic educational and experiential setting, women that saw themselves as “patients” transform into the “captain” of her healthcare team. It’s been phenomenal to watch as well as experience during the past 4 years of this unique program.

Here are some crucial tips to help you be a better “captain” when you visit a member of your healthcare team….

A. Prepare and rehearse a concise description of your symptoms.

B. Make a prioritized list of your health concerns - pain first, general changes in your body, and the stray hair on your chin last (remember, visits are only 15-20 minutes long, so most worrisome first).

C. Record the names and doses of all medications you take and why you take them.

Posted by Gina V. on January 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

The State of Your Health - Getting Answers

Up to this point in my life I visited a doctor maybe once a year (for the annual gyno appointment) and that was about it.  But this year I had to have some surgery and have been having a few other issues (I think perimenopausal in nature), but annoying and disruptive none the less.  So, I’ve been tossed into the world of doctor appointments, diagnosis (or lack there of), insensitivity, condescension and mad, mad frustration.

I’ve never been one to jump on a symptom by calling my doctor, in fact, quite the opposite.  So, when I reach out to my healthcare provider, it’s because I feel convinced something’s awry.  I was surprised by several things.  How long it takes to get an appointment with a doctor (especially a specialist), and how limited a time you have with your doctor when you finally get in to see him/her.  Let’s just say the days of Dr. Welby are looong gone.  Once you do get in to see a doctor, you’re lucky to have a good 15 minutes of their time. Worse, once I discuss my symptoms and concerns, I’m met with a quizzical look (which I guess were attempts to convey empathy), that felt like I just shared I’m seeing pink elephants.

When you leave your doctor’s office and feel your questions weren’t really answered, you think…how did that happen?  We’ve all heard about how the quality of good medical care is suffering, but unless you’re dealing with an illness, or symptoms of some sort and trying to find answers, it’s hard to appreciate how difficult and emotionally taxing it can be. Talk about having to take charge of your own health!

At least I can confirm there is an upcoming opportunity for women to get all their questions answered about Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes. LIVING WELL: A Women's Program For Mastering Type 2 and Prediabetes Through Lifestyle Changeis a very special week designed by diabetes experts who are frustrated from the lack of time, personal attention and education provided patients after diagnosis. They understand the desire to learn what lifestyle changes really work and how to do it. How to do it? Whoa, what a concept!!

Here are some excellent suggestions for being a good case manager (scroll down) of your own health, provided by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

LIVING WELL is running February 12th - 18th. For more information you can call 1.800.448.8106.

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Posted by Cindy on January 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Orange-Glazed Carrots and Asparagus

The image “http://fitwoman.com/images/blog/carrots-asparagus.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Did you know that last week was National Folic Acid Awareness Week?  I guess I missed that memo!  Luckily, Florida's Folic Acid Coalition is on the ball with some healthy and - of course - 'citriousy' recipes. What's all the fuss about folic acid, you ask?  Folic acid is a B vitamin used in women's bodies to make new cells and is especially important before pregnancy to help prevent major birth defects.   So keep frolicking with these delicious veggies from the sunshine state!

(Makes 4 side-dish servings)

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, or one 10-ounce package frozen cut asparagus
1 cup baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise, or 2 medium carrots, thinly bias-sliced
¾ cup frozen Florida orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon dried dillweed
2 cups hot cooked brown rice

In a covered medium saucepan, cook asparagus and carrots in a small amount of boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Keep warm. In a small saucepan, stir together ¼ cup water, ½ cup of the thawed concentrate, cornstarch, honey, garlic salt, and dillweed. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir into vegetables. Stir in remaining orange juice concentrate. Serve with rice.

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on January 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

The Fat Tax - Paying Our Way Out Of Obesity?

I don’t know how much attention the fat tax (sometimes referred to as a ‘sin tax), is actually getting these days, but I do get the sense that federal, state and local government officials are being pressured to ratchet up their efforts to create remedies to deal with the increase in obesity among Americans – particularly children. The fact that they’re talking about a tax as a ‘real resolution’ to obesity in American is concerning, to say the least. What does a tax really accomplish?  Although, I do know these things are never as simple as they seem, when I ran across the proposed fat tax, these things popped into my mind: knee jerk, shaming, diet obsessed and basically – clueless.

What is the real intent of the tax?  Read more about the tax here.   

In brief, this tax proposes trading revenue on taxed high fat low nutrition processed foods for incentives toward healthier food choices. But, is this really where we want the efforts of our government to be focused? Anyway, I’m not sure that making food with lower nutritive value more expensive will deter consumers, regardless of their income level, from giving up their fast food.  In fact, the focus on bad foods creates for me thoughts of guilt and shame. If I'm going to eat a bag of M&M's its because I've given myself permission to do so. I don't need the government subliminally waving their finger at me. Gimme a break.

If such a tax could produce an intelligent media campaign which encouraged healthy eating, instead of paranoia and misinformation,  we might be able to create a demand in our food supply for fresh, healthy and more wholesome foods – without all the extra cost. I invite you to look to our neighbors to the north for their thoughtful program VITALITY a positive approach to healthy eating, since we can't seem to figure it out.

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Posted by Cindy on January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

What Does "Healthy Weight" Mean to You?

As you read yesterday, it’s Healthy Weight Week, a breathe of fresh air amidst all the weight loss chicanery of the month - well, the year. It's an outgrowth of the Health at Every Size (HAES) philsophy, which I understand and believe in.

However, I can still remember and sympathize with the reactions of my pre-HAES self, when reading about Healthy Weight Week or HAES....something along the lines of, “what ARE you people talking about!!  I am FAT, I’ve always been fat, how the hell could I possibly be healthy or fit AND fat??!!” And I do wonder if the principles of HAES, while appealing to the logical side of us (it’s got to be about lifestyle, ‘cause dieting sure hasn’t worked), can offer comfort during the immediacy of standing in your kitchen, vowing to “be normal” and then realizing that you really don’t know what normal is. Well, that’s what I used to do, and I certainly didn’t know what normal was, nor could I have internalized and understood the concept of "health at every size" at the time.

I had the idea that healthy lifestyle meant eating raw foods only, lot’s of seaweed and supplements, while spending several hours in the gym every day. This would last a day or a week or let’s stretch it and say a month, then it was a much longer period of worse health habits (not to mention weight gain), because the only thing I had learned from my foray into "getting healthy" (read “thin”) was that it obviously was not possible. Some people were born one way (thin and healthy), and other people are born another way (fat and unhealthy), and neither the twain shall meet, or so my thinking went.

It is my sincere hope that the posts on this blog, as well as the Fitbriefings and Updates on the Green Mountain at Fox Run website will help you in those moments. For me, I really did need to make a break from everyday life to not only learn and experience what a healthy lifestyle was, but to gain some perspective – about myself, what weight really means, and what was really out of balance in my life.

Whatever the path you choose to become healthier, it will be the one that is right for you, you’ll learn and grow whether you are “successful” or not; if it's "not" you'll still have learned something that will make you ready for the next step. While I wish I would have grown up with these principles, or learned about them in my 20’s, I do believe that I had to do all the other pointless diets, weird opinions about health and abuse myself with these notions to be in the stage of readiness to make the changes that I really needed to. “Better late than never” is an expression that we’ve all heard, but I always like to think, “Better today than tomorrow.”

I hope today is thee day - in terms of readiness and understanding - for someone. Peaceful eating to all.

Posted by Gina V. on January 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2006

It's Healthy Weight Week!

Yesterday marked the start of Healthy Weight Week, an event organized by the Healthy Weight Network led by our good friend and visionary nondiet activist Francie Berg, M.S., LN.  Quoting from the press release, “Healthy Weight Week celebrates a nondiet healthy lifestyle for people of every size, and encourages sound habits that prevent eating and weight problems instead of intensifying them.”  You go, Francie!

My favorite part of Healthy Weight Week are the Slim Chance awards.  They’re awarded every year, and it’s worth the time to take a look.  It might help you decide whether the latest and greatest weight loss scheme really holds water…I mean, carries any weight…uh, you know what I mean.  (If I were funny, these phrases would make a great topic for a post – are you up to it, CeBe?)  The Healthy Weight Network says the products that win these awards are not only ‘completely ineffective,’ but they may cause harm.    This year’s top Slim Chance awards go to the Shape Up with Dr. Phil 22 pills a day plan (ohmigod) and Jana Skinny Water. 

Our FitBriefing this month deals with one of the major aims of Healthy Weight Week – to help us stop dieting and start taking care of ourselves.  For our tips on that, read Stop Dieting & Get Fit!  And run as fast as you can from the continuing onslaught of weight loss products that are more effective in reducing your bank account than helping you get healthy and fit.  Hey, that’s one way to get some exercise, too! 

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Posted by Marsha on January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack