Friday, June 25, 2010

Thank you to all of you who follow my blog! You may never know how much you motivate me. I will be taking about a week off from blog writing. God's blessings on you all! Kimberly

Thursday, June 24, 2010

W is for Water

We all know that drinking water is healthier than drinking anything else, right? In fact, drinking water is healthy period. Here are other ways that water is healthy for us that we might take for granted.

Water keeps us from getting sick. It is the best cleaning agent on earth. Can you imagine soap or toothpaste without water? Water is the most important ingredient for staying clean.

Water makes us feel good. You know that feeling when you step into a deliciously warm shower? Or maybe you’re hot and sweaty and need a dip in a refreshing pool or lake? Water is a luxury we all can afford.

Water looks beautiful. The sunset over the ocean, a mighty waterfall, a quiet stream—we could spend hours looking at such beauty.

Water sounds beautiful. The trickle of a running fountain, the rain on the roof, the roar of the ocean—it’s like music to our ears.

It might be easy to forget the value we have in something so free and available to us. Let’s enjoy and appreciate the wonderful blessing we have in such a common commodity.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

V is for Vegetables

One of the nicest things about summer is the way I can walk into my back patio and pluck a fresh tomato off the vine. Of course, it’s more likely that my daughter has beaten me to it and all the ripe ones are gone! Maybe in a few weeks we’ll have more than we know what to do with. Until that moment comes, I’m content to know that my daughter is getting some fresh nutrients.

This year we planted snap peas that are to die for they’re so sweet, tomatoes, juicy strawberries, summer squash, zucchini, and green beans. We also have onions and herbs for cooking. We’ll see if the bell peppers and watermelon make it. So far they’re not doing so well.

Fresh vegetables and fruit not only taste better, they’re also healthier than frozen or canned. Even if you don’t have a garden, summer is an easy time to find locally grown produce. I’ve heard it said that summer is the easiest time to eat healthy because there are so many healthy options available. And the options are so delicious!

If you have a loved one who is struggling against eating healthy, perhaps summer is the time to have them try a new set of foods. Vegetables might not be as appealing when you dump them out of a can or cook the frozen lumps into tasteless sponges. But sweet, aromatic, and freshly plucked? They won’t be able to resist. Now is the best time to show how good eating right can taste.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

U is for Unashamed

Succeed always has a starting point. When it comes to eating healthy, losing weight, or exercising, some of us may start multiple times! Of course it is best to keep a healthy lifestyle for the rest of our lives, but the message for today is this: whether it’s the first time you start or the hundredth time you start, don’t be ashamed!

It is never a bad thing to try again. What’s bad is giving up because we failed. I’m sure that even the most consistent eaters and exercisers at some point have failed to follow through. Those who can claim victory in maintaining their healthy lifestyle could probably write a book about how many times they didn’t do so well before they found their own recipe for success.

There have been times in my life when I have been thinner than I am now, but still I am not ashamed of what I am today because I am continuing to try. Fortunately for me, I have found success, and slowly the weight from my last pregnancy is dropping off. I can’t deny that sometimes I am a little shy to see someone I haven’t seen for awhile because I know I’m heavier than the last time they saw me…but I am not ashamed. I am working toward a goal. I am succeeding. Even when I have a rough day or two, I refocus and try again. There is no shame in trying, only a possibility of success.

Monday, June 21, 2010

T is for Tracking

What if I told you there was a 15 minute task you can do every day that would guarantee success in healthy eating? Would you believe me? Think it’s too good to be true? Dismiss it as a gimmick?

This task works. Without fail, every day that I track my calories and enter them into my daily bank, I eat well. Without fail, every time I get lax in this task, I start to allow unhealthy foods in and excess portions—and I don’t eat well.

The neat thing about keeping track is that even the days with special events when we have more than our usual amount of calories, we still eat better. How many times have we gone “off the deep end” in our eating because we had a piece of cheesecake. Our thinking might be, “I already blew it. I may as well make this a doozy.” But. If we track even during those special days, we’ll be much more likely to stay in the safe end a majority of the day.

Tracking is easy to do, but it’s also easy to not do. How many days have I though, “I don’t need to track today. I’m in a groove. I’m doing fine.” And how times have I lapsed back into unhealthy eating, one extra bite at a time because I stopped tracking.

When it comes to tracking, whether using calories, points, or grams, I’m a believer enough to say it will guarantee success. Here is the challenge: Try it strictly for one month. I have the feeling you’ll say I’m right.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Foods

Chili Chicken and Basil
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Thai bird chilies or serrano chilies
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 cloves garlic
½ tbsp peanut oil or canola oil
½ tbsp red-chili paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Directions
1. Finely chop the garlic and chilies, then use the side of your knife to press them together into a rough paste. (Add a pinch of salt to make this process easier.)
2. Preheat a wok or stainless-steel pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the garlic-chili paste you just made, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes (be careful not to burn the garlic). Chop the chicken into small pieces and add them to the pan, cooking until they're lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, red-chili paste, and sugar, and continue to cook until the chicken is done all the way through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the pepper and basil, and cook until the basil is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

recipes.womenshealthmag.com

Thursday, June 17, 2010

S is for Snacking

Snacking is one very effective strategy for healthy eating. Eating every 2-3 hours boosts metabolism. It also keeps a person from getting too hungry—and we all know the horrendous foods we’re capable of eating when we get too hungry! If we want our healthy diet to stick and work, we need to incorporate healthy snacking into our daily routine.

Below are ideas for healthy snacks. I usually eat a snack midmorning and midafternoon, 10:30 am and 3:30 pm respectively. I try to eat a snack that has protein included, since it helps me to avoid sugar lows before my next meal.

1 fruit and 14 peanuts
Protein bar
String-cheese
Milk
Fiber bar
Rice cake and 12 almonds
Whole grain crackers
½ avocado
1 egg and tomatoes
Frozen peas
Greek yogurt
Fruit smoothie with protein powder
Tuna fish and pickles
Cottage cheese
Grapes and cheddar cheese
Pumpkin seeds
Carrots and hummus

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

R is for R & R

I am sitting on the couch typing out my daily blog, and sitting next to me my daughter Eden is watching one of her favorite movies. It’s sounds restful and relaxing, but Eden is really supposed to be taking a nap right now. The fact that she is not sleeping, among many other things that have transpired today, have proven to make this day anything but restful!

Usually mid-afternoon is my time for a little R & R. After a hectic day of changing diapers, coaching toilet training, monitoring outbursts, a trip to the park or running errands, and a chaotic lunch, I’m able to relax and breathe as my little ones fall fast asleep in their beds. I usually sit down and write my blog. It’s usually a time of peace and tranquility.

A little R & R is so important if I am going to maintain a sense of sanity in my life! It’s not as if I’m totally unproductive, either. I can still work toward goals, like writing, and feel like I’ve rested.

Too much R & R is like eating too much frosting or going on vacation full-time. It’s not only unhealthy, it’s also boring! There are people I’m sure who need to cut-back on the R & R. However, many people don’t take enough time to relax. We need some tranquility daily to be healthy. Even if our two-year-old refuses to take a nap! Perhaps putting our kids in front of the TV every now and then isn’t such a bad thing.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Q is for Quitting

There are times when I have felt like quitting…and fortunately I did just that!

Several years ago I quit being so inactive.

Several months ago I quit consuming hydrogenated oils and unhealthy additives in food.

Several weeks ago I quit giving up on my dream of being a writer.

Of course, when it comes to achieving our dreams we shouldn’t quit. We hear that often and it’s right on.

But there are definitely times when that urge to quit can bump us into a healthier life—when it comes to quitting our negative inclinations. So for all of those self-imposed obstacles and bad habits that have possibly crept into our lives, now is the time to say, “I quit!”

Monday, June 14, 2010

P is for Prayer

No matter how hard we try, we all fail sometimes. No matter how smart we are, we all have unwise moments. No matter how confident and sure we feel, we all get discouraging setbacks. Whether we hit a bump or hit bottom, sometimes it feels like there are no solutions left. Success isn’t everything, but sometimes failure can feel like everything!

There have been a few pivotal moments in my life when I have reached a place I don’t want to be, sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically, sometimes spiritually. In each case the place I reached cause me to reach out for help.

There are many ways to get help—from friends, family, spouses, and parents, to name a few. But the most difficult times are the ones that feel like there is no one who can help. No one understands. No one can fix the problem.

I have been there and I did find somewhere to turn. I turned to God and asked for help. When I really connected with Him, something changed. It literally turned my life around. I went from despair to hope, from failure to assurance, and from aimlessness to having a purpose. I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to God for my successes and my happiness.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

O is for Oxygen

Sometimes cravings are good. I am specifically talking about exercise cravings! Have you ever had a craving for exercise? Do you miss working out when you take a few days off?

One of the reason I experience a physical craving to exercise is that I am longing for the oxygen that a good aerobic workout will give you. If I go a couple of days without taking in the deep, accelerated breathing that comes with exercise, my lungs start to feel weak. My legs start to feel cramped. My back starts to ache. I go through major withdrawals!

There are great physical benefits that come from oxygen. By inhaling increased oxygen, we strengthen our immune system and lessen headaches and sinus problems. We reduce stress and relax the body. We strengthen and maintain good muscles and limbs. Also our concentration gets a boost by our increased energy and alertness.

Exercise is addicting. How often does an addiction work in our favor? I think exercise is one of those blessings we have in life, and I love taking full advantage of it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

N is for No

I can say no to cookies—most of the time. The exception is whole wheat dark chocolate chip cookies. If I bake these little round desserts, you can almost count on a vacation from sensible eating for a day or two! Even when I freeze them, they call me from deep down in the freezer. “Come and get me!” they say. “I’m delicious! Who said you can’t enjoy me? I’m whole wheat after all. Aren’t I healthy?”

Another distant voice nags at my consciousness that I could and should use one of the most powerful words in my vocabulary: No. “No” may be the sensible thing to say to unhealthy foods—but it’s not always easy.

Part of the problem is that it’s hard to see the benefit of saying no immediately. Sure, in a few days the scale might show it a little. In a few months it will make a difference. But sometimes I need immediate gratification.

If you have recently said “no” to a temptation you’ll know that there is an immediate reward. It’s called satisfaction. After saying no, meaning it, and sticking to it, there is a thrill that I get. It’s a feeling that says I can take charge of my decisions. I can use the head knowledge I have and apply it. I am strong, committed, and capable. I am successful.

If we’re looking for immediate gratification, it doesn’t get much better than a warm glow of self-approval. Saying “no” really does give heaps of rewards.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

M is for Milk

If you are like me, you might experience a mid-morning or mid-afternoon energy lag. These dips in energy get bad enough at times that I get shaky and light-headed. The best thing I have found to give me a quick recovery is drinking a cold glass of milk.

Milk has a healthy balance of carbohydrates and protein that makes it the perfect snack. It also is packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients. One cup provides almost one third of our daily recommended intake of calcium. Milk is attributed to reducing the risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. Regular consumption is also known to increase fertility.

Another benefit I have found from drinking milk is that it helps control unhealthy cravings. There are times when I think I want a milkshake or ice cream—and all I really want is a glass of milk. And here’s another benefit—milk helps me feel full.

I have heard great advice in this statement: Don’t drink your calories. The exception I think would be milk. As far as health foods go, it’s the cream of the crop.

Monday, June 7, 2010

L is for Light

I grew up in lush, green Portland, Oregon. You will hardly find anything as beautiful as the Northwest—or as rainy! It may have had gorgeous views, but after the 300th cloudy day in any given year, I went a little insane. I like sun!

Sunshine has many benefits for us. It gives essential vitamin D, which may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. Sunlight has other hidden benefits—like protecting against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system.

When I lived in Oregon, I often suffered from seasonal depression. The gray skies made me feel low, as well as the tendency to stay indoors. I used to try all sorts of ways to kick the depression—from going on hikes in the rain to sitting in front of a mood light 20 minutes a day.

The best solution I found was to move to sunny California! There are many things I miss about Portland, but the clouds did not make that list. I am thankful for light streaming in my windows and radiating down on me while I take walks or work in the garden. Almost every day. Light makes me healthy and happy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Foods

Avocado and Yogurt Dip with Jalapeño and Cilantro

Ingredients
1 16-ounce container plain nonfat yogurt (scant 2 cups)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño
1 small garlic clove, minced

Preparation
Set strainer over medium bowl; line with double layer of cheesecloth. Place yogurt in cloth-lined strainer. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.

Discard liquid drained from yogurt. Transfer yogurt to processor. Stir cumin in small dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cumin to processor, then avocado, 3 tablespoons cilantro, jalapeño, and garlic. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer dip to small bowl. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Press plastic wrap onto surface of dip and chill.) Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro.

(Recipe from epicurious.com)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

K is for Kitchen

It’s likely the most-used room of the house. We make food, eat, shuffle through the mail, and talk about our day in it. You can add “get on the internet” to my list as well, since my laptop is usually hooked up in the kitchen.

A kitchen is the fastest room to get dirty, and the most often cleaned. I can honestly say that I spend half my day in the kitchen—and no, I am not eating the whole time!

Let’s look at kitchens from a health perspective. The most popular room in the house is where we fight many of our health battles. Here are a few tips that will help make the fight turn out in victory.

1. Keep the counters clear of pantry food. What is out on the counters we’re much more likely to eat. In sight—in mind and in our bellies, so to speak.
2. Openly display a bowl or basket of fruit or vegetables. This looks appealing and whets our appetite for the right foods.
3. Get smaller plates for meals. Small plates will help keep portions down.
4. Freeze leftover desserts. We are much less likely to eat cake for breakfast the day after our birthday if it’s stored away in the freezer.
5. Display positive messages and personal goals. Reminding ourselves to stick with our goals is especially important when we’re starving a half-an-hour before dinner. Seeing a well-placed message will help keep us on track.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

J is for Jazzercise

One of the best ways to get motivated to exercise is to get together with friends. Form a buddy walking schedule, plan to meet a friend at the gym, organize a team to do a long-distance run, get a canoeing partner, or meet up for a Jazzercise class several days a week.

Friends push us when we’re sluggish—and we push them when they’re sluggish! Friends make us show up. They take our mind off the chore of exercise. They make exercise a time of connecting and building relationships.

Life can easily feel like a list of chores. Gotta do this, that, and the other thing—and then I can crash into bed, exhausted. Why not make one of the must-dos also a time of renewing girl-time? It works for guys too. They might not be so interesting in Jazzercise (although some do!) but they sure like to let off steam with their buddies on the basketball court.

Certainly, we all have those days when we need to push ourselves to exercise because we don’t feel like it. But if we have to force ourselves to work-out like it is a horrendous chore day after day, then exercise is no longer working as a positive force in our lives. The very thing that is supposed to give us more energy and lift our spirits can actually cause more stress and make us feel down.

That is why I enjoy buddy work-outs. It is fun and reviving—and a little addicting too.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I is for Incentives

Recently I asked my husband to make a deal with me: if I lose a certain amount of weight by the end of the month, he will buy me a gift. Actually, I asked that he buy me Photoshop for my computer. I know, it’s not romantic or terribly exciting, but I wanted something that I would never buy for myself and wanted badly enough to give me incentive to really work hard.

This is a contest against myself, really. Am I strong enough to defeat my propensity to eat a little too much? If so, soon I’ll be doctoring photos to my heart’s content.

This scenario reminds me of contests I’ve joined in the past. You know the ones I mean—everybody throws in $20 and sees who will win the grand prize at the end of a three-month diet. Those contests have always worked for me—that is, they helped me to lose weight quickly. It’s not even the money that motivates me, it’s more the competition and the desire to win.

Losing weight is only half the battle, of course. Keeping weight off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the primary focus of my daily writings. Still, if you’re anything like me, sometimes the weight won’t come off without a little nudge—a spark of incentive. If weight is falling off simply by your healthy thinking, then a great big round of applause for you. I hope your motivation lasts. For the rest of us who struggle to keep our enthusiasm, try creating incentives for yourself. It works for me!