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April 14, 2006

Old Man Winter - Take a Hike!

It has been unseasonably rainy where I live - breaking all kinds of records. People are going nuts. But today, thank heavens, they opened up and the sun came out. Spring was sprung (for at least today) and so was I.  I couldn’t wait to get out and take a walk. Not because it would be good for me and not because I should, but because I wanted to. 

Here are some of the simple pleasures I enjoyed once I stepped outside my front door…

I got to stretch my legs
I explored
I looked at the beautiful blue sky and felt the sun on my face
I breathed deep (the kind of deep breath that gives you goose bumps)   
I patted the head of a beautiful dog  Nice_doggie
I stood on a bridge and watched the water rushing by
I smiled and said ‘hi’ to strangers (and they smiled and said ‘hi’ back)
I picked some lemons and wild flowers
I tossed a ball back to a child
I smelled warm, fragrant fresh air
I smiled without even knowing it

Sunny_trail_3So, take a walk - just because. It could make you happy.

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Posted by Cindy on April 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2006

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Take the stress out of entertaining with this great do-ahead dish for your next breakfast or brunch get-together. Our Easy Breakfast Casserole can be made 1-2 hours ahead or even the night before. Also, the recipe can be doubled easily for bigger crowds. Experiment with other vegetables such as sliced mushrooms or chopped tomatoes and/or other fresh herbs.

(Makes 4 servings)

2 cups crusty white bread, cubed
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
11/2 cups fat free (skim) milk
2 tablespoons chopped scallions (use both green and white parts)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons diced roasted red bell pepper
2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
Pepper to taste

Grease 8 x 8 inch baking dish.* Arrange bread cubes on the bottom of dish and sprinkle with cheese. Mix together eggs, milk, scallions, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Pour mixture over bread and cheese. Sprinkle with red pepper, bacon and basil. Season with pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or over night.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake 50-60 minutes until top is golden and eggs are set. Cut in four squares and serve.

*If doubling recipe, bake in a 9 x 12 inch dish.

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

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Posted by Laura on April 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2006

Managing Middle-Aged Spread

I recently received Miriam Nelson’s monthly e-letter that cites results from the SHE study (Strong,Weight_training  Healthy Empowered).  It was done to determine whether regular strength training would prevent increases in total body fat and intra-abdominal (belly) fat in women.  It grabbed my interest because after going through menopause, let’s just say I’ve noticed a slight (?) increase in my waist size.  As I look around me, I notice I’m not alone.  Women I’ve known who have been at healthy weights all their lives suddenly develop a belly at this time of life.

I’m all for self and size-acceptance and accepting this marker of aging.  There is some thought that a little extra fat around the middle might be protective for aging women.  One theory is that belly fat produces estrogen that’s more available to the body, and a little bit of estrogen throughout life might help us live better, if not longer.  There’s also the notion that a little extra fat is good for us in case we get ill and can’t eat.  It’s like we’ve got a little store on hand that will nourish us for a short while at least.

Still, we’re only talking about a slight increase in waist size.  And for many of us, that middle-age spread goes beyond slight.  Plus, there’s real evidence that too much belly fat increases our risk for things like heart disease, diabetes, etc. The good news is that the SHE study produced some encouraging results.  It found that already overweight and obese women who regularly attended strength training classes decreased their total body fat percentage by 3.7 percent, and their belly fat only increased by 7 percent.  That may sound discouraging, but when you compare it to the control group, which was advised to get at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week but didn’t have any counseling about strength training, it’s not at all discouraging.  Belly fat among the control group increased by 21 percent!   

This really isn’t news to me, and I suspect to many of you either.  When I get serious about strength training, I notice a difference in my body right away.  It’s not only stronger, but it just feels like it’s working better.  And it’s obviously not working at its best when it’s laying down unhealthy fat. 

It’s hard, though, for me to stay on track with weight training all the time.  I find it simple to walk regularly, but I can get sidetracked easily when it comes to weights.  That’s why I’m a fan of personal training.  I take breaks occasionally, but when I find myself skipping self-directed sessions too often, I call the trainer back up for a series of sessions to get myself going again.

I gotta go now…the weights are calling.

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Posted by Marsha on April 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2006

When More is Less

Glasses_1 This past weekend I took a wonderful break at a resort spa. The most exciting and fulfilling thing I did? I sipped coffee from exquisite china, while seated by the wall of plantation shutters, reclining in my white spa robe on the exceptionally comfortable loveseat with ottoman at the perfect height and reading the Boston Globe that was delivered to my door.

And despite the indoor waterfall, superb spa treatments and amenities, and top-notch service, the thing I will remember most is that moment above, when I didn’t have to feel guilty about all the other things that I was not doing that moment, and I wasn’t making a mental list of things I had to do.

I came across an article in the Boston Globe, which discussed “Entertainment Overload” by Joseph P Kahn. He discusses the phenomenon of having so many ways to self-entertain, from digital music streaming from your computer, IPod, several different ways to view movies (TiVo, pay-per-view, video-on-demand movies, NetFlix, Internet, etc), and the overall saturation making for less satisfaction.

Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore College psychology professor and author of “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” was quoted in the article – “what these devices allow you to do is experience almost infinite variety of cultural events.” But having more choices than ever “means you get less satisfaction out of whatever you choose.”  And the best quote of all, “You can smell it all, taste it all, feel it all, but not experience it all.”

Of course, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about this phenomenon in relation to too much advice about “health” and the “obesity crisis” and “dieting” has made us less satisfied with our bodies and our lives. Many contend that our lifestyles – madding pace, feeling constantly harried, “simple” solutions that really steal the joy of simplicity – are really the traits of a culture that is “obesogenic,” a newly created word that describes conditions that generate obesity. Holding food and those that eat responsible for overweight bodies is not the idea – it’s about the entire lifestyle and culture of western industrialized nations.

The following essay, The Paradox of Our Age, was written by a pastor of a church in Seattle over 10 years ago. It’s been circulated through the internet in many different incantations, but is a great description of an obesogenic culture.

I thank the essay for helping me realize that relaxing and enjoying the moment is about stepping outside the obesogenic lifestyle, and is more helpful than 30 minutes of high-kicks in an aerobics studio.

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The Paradox of Our Age

We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; we have more gadgets but less satisfaction; more medicine, yet less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much; smoke too much; spend too recklessly; laugh too little; drive too fast; get too angry quickly; stay up too late; get up too tired; read too seldom; watch TV too much and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realize fewer profits; we talk too much; love too seldom and lie too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space, but not inner space; we've done larger things, but not better things; we've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we've split the atom, but not our prejudice; we write more, but learn less; plan more, but accomplish less; we make faster planes, but longer lines; we learned to rush, but not to wait; we have more weapons, but less peace; higher incomes, but lower morals; more parties, but less fun; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort, but less success. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; drive smaller cars that have bigger problems; build larger factories that produce less. We've become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, but short character; steep in profits, but shallow relationships. These are times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; higher postage, but slower mail; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes, but more divorces; these are times of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, cartridge living, throw-away morality, one-night stands and pills that do everything from cheer, to prevent, quiet or kill. It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stock room. Indeed, these are the times!

Posted by Gina V. on April 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006

The Big Secret

Many years ago I quit smoking. Of course, when you conquer something that monumental, people want to know how you did it. The simple answer? I never let myself believe I couldn’t have another cigarette; I just tried to see how long I could go without one.  One day at a time.

The way I quit smoking is in many ways analogous with how I lose weight most successfully.  When I gave up on the idea that I’d never have another ice cream cone, I didn’t care so much. I didn’t feel so deprived. As many of us know (from experience), depriving ourselves of the things we believe we want or need can lead to over-indulgenece, especially if the thing we’re giving up is food.

Quitting the nicotine habit is about abstinence.  Giving up our favorite foods is made more complicated because we have to eat to live and we don’t want to feel cheated or deprived every day.  We want and need to eat well.   

Although, it’s from a couple years ago, I ran across this blog post from Margaret Cho the famously outrageous and bawdy comedian.  It relates to some of this thinking and the success she had losing weight by giving up 'dieting' and giving herself permission to eat. 

Read here, at your own peril (she loves to use the ‘f word’ - alot), but the sentiment is worth taking a look at…

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Posted by Cindy on April 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

Cohabitation Can Make You Fat

Ok, that title may be an oversimplification, but at one time or another haven't you lamented, “If only I had a personal shopper, chef and trainer like the movie stars do, I’d definitely lose weight!”  I know I have. Unfortunately, as we've seen, having all these professional folks at your beckon call doesn't always do the trick. Even for mega stars like Oprah - but apparently cohabitating with Oprah may help keep her Stedman slim and trim.

A new study suggests that men who move in with their lady fair are likely to lose weight.  Women, who cohabitate, are unfortunately more likely to gain. The report, by dietitian Amelia Lake and published in Complete Nutrition, reviewed studies done in Britain, America and Australia of the lives of cohabiting and married heterosexual couples.

Why this disparity? Hmm, let me think...

• Let’s guess who does the shopping? Better for him, as he now eats healthier foods.

• Who does the meal planning? Better for him as he now eats a more balanced diet.Couple

• Who does the cooking?  Well, even in 2006, that role still typically falls to the woman.  (Do we really know how to cook and shop better than our partners, or are they just pulling the wool over our eyes?) 

• Who’s more likely to participate in emotional eating?  The woman!  (Of course, she’s probably stewing about being a chef, nutritionist and professional shopper in her 'spare' time!)

I wonder if the statistics would at all have been reversed if the male were doing all of the above on a regular basis and bringing home the proverbial bacon? 

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Posted by Cindy on April 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

Garden Pizzas

This recipe, courtesy of Quakeroatmeal.com is a high-fiber yet great-tasting twist on the typical pizza dough - and the kids will love it, too!  It's a perfect way to keep the family on a healthy eating lifestyle, and it's also fun to make together.

(Makes 4 Individual Pizzas)

2/3 cup warm water (105°F-115°F)
One  1/4-ounce package (about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
    quick-rising yeast
1  tablespoon olive oil
2  teaspoons sugar
1-1/3  cups all-purpose flour
3/4  cups Quaker® Oats
   (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)*
1/4  cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2  cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella
    cheese, divided
1/2  cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
1/2  cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4  cup chopped fresh basil or 4 teaspoons
   dried basil leaves
2  cloves garlic, minced
4  plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

Heat oven to 425°F. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or oil lightly. In small bowl, combine water, yeast, oil and sugar; mix. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. In large bowl, combine flour and oats. Add yeast mixture; blend on low speed of electric mixer until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead 1 minute. Shape dough into ball; place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in warm place 20 minutes or until nearly doubled in size.

Punch dough down; divide into four portions. On cookie sheet, pat each portion of dough into 6-inch circle. Top with Parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, bell pepper, onion, basil, garlic and tomatoes, in that order, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

    * or other brand available

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

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Posted by Laura on April 6, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

I'd Rather Be Thin Than....

After years of working with women who come through the doors of Green Mountain at Fox Run, worried about their weight while they’re going through treatment for life-threatening illnesses such as breast or other cancer, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  But this from a Washington Post interview of Jill Carroll after her release from kidnappers in Iraq does make me throw up my hands in despair:

“Three months without exercise had made her face round. Her captors had treated her well, she said, and she never dared turn down their offers of meals or candy for fear of giving offense. I'm fat, she said.”

As a journalist covering a story of international interest, I know that’s a subject to which I’d devote a whole paragraph out of a relatively short piece (NOT).  Other topics covered:  her telephone reunion with her family, her shock over the world-wide prayers on her behalf, her shock that Iraq still hadn’t formed a government.  Yeah, I guess that’s right – her weight is a topic of equal import (NOT).


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Posted by Marsha on April 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2006

Do you Love your Scale?

GScale_3 You'd always be able to say that you love your scale and it loves you, particularly if you have a YAY Scale (rhymes with “weigh scale”).

What’s a YAY Scale?

YAY Scales were originally created by Marilyn Wann, author of the wonderful book Fat!So?  and creator of the Fat!So?  website.  There are many projects that have utilized YAY scales as part of self-acceptance projects. A YAY scale is made by replacing the numbers dial with compliments…so you might weigh “gorgeous”  or “a rare beauty” on any given day.

Here are some projects that have used YAY scales to help women and men love their bodies. (you may have to scroll a bit find the articles and pictures on the YAY)

Photo that appears above is from the Find Your Voice Project

Love Your Body Day

Marilyn Wann speaking events (this from the University of Colorado)

Body Positive

NAAFA 2004 Annual Meeting (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance)

Positive Body Image College groups

Posted by Gina V. on April 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 03, 2006

Finding Your Fitness Bliss

Goddess_cards_1 Last week Gina posted her views on trying to find the joy in physical activity - the way we did when we were kids.  I loved her post and agree with her wholeheartedly.  But I must admit I find it hard sometimes - especially in an environment like my local gym. 

Everyday I walk up to the entrance to my gym and pass a red faced compatriot on their way out and think, ‘you lucky bugger…you’re done!’  Now, I ask myself, is that any way to look at my new physical fitness routine? Not a lot of joy there…

When I enter my gym, I’m usually greeted with expressions that are not unlike those of inmates working on a chain gang.  A crowded room full of sweaty grimaces, huffing and puffing their way to the end of their workout.  I know there are plenty of people who love going to the gym.  I just don’t happen to be one of them.  Unfortunately, due to an injury, I’m going to be there for a while. So, I look at it this way, the gym is a great place to get fitter IN so you can eventually get OUT. Because I'd rather be hiking up a beautiful Vermont mountainside, or playing a game of tennis with my friends, than be cooped up with 50 sweaty people I don’t even know. 

Bottom line, participating in physical activity I enjoy allows me to work out in the name of pleasure and fulfillment. I don’t want to involve myself in exercise for exercise sake anymore. I don’t think that’s where it’s at. But I do appreciate that the fitter I get, the more things I can do that I actually love doing.  And that's worth hitting the gym for. 

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Posted by Cindy on April 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack