Gains and losses go beyond the scale

This was first published in The Nevada Appeal on June 18, 2003, but might give you a little insight into the motivation for my weekend Healthy Habits for Happy Humans series.

blog balancePerhaps this story begins in February of 2001 when I renewed my driver’s license. You know that space that asks for your weight? I told the truth for the first time in over twenty years. I came clean with the DMV and myself.
Perhaps the story begins much earlier. Like many women, I’d gained weight with babies, birthdays and bread machines. I had begun avoiding cameras, shopping at “the big girl store” and looking, well—matronly. For the past eight years, I hadn’t been able to lose more than a few pounds before giving up and gaining it back.
No, I am not new to dieting. I’ve been chubby since about sixth grade with only momentary glimpses of my hipbones in the intervening years. I’ve even lost forty or more pounds several times. So in September 2001, when a Weight Watcher leader agreed to come to school if twelve people signed up, I interpreted it as a sign from the universe that it was time to learn to manage my weight—once and for all. I was determined to figure this out. I would do it —not for a reunion or a cruise but for good, and for myself. Continue reading “Gains and losses go beyond the scale”

Healthy Habit #4: Size Matters

Serving size, that is.

blog portions-have-changedOur eyes have grown used to super-sized fries, big gulps, mega-muffins and bigger burgers. Consider what’s happened to our waistlines in the last twenty years. Do you see a correlation?

A good little exercise—yes, I said exercise—to try in the privacy of your own home is to get to know what’s already in your own fridge, freezer and pantry. Start by finding for the nutrition label on the package. Today we’ll look mostly at the serving size and the number of servings contained in the package. That information is listed near the top. I find it helpful to circle the serving size with a Sharpie as a reminder.

What do you notice? Does that bottle of soda, can of soup, or frozen lasagna contain two or more servings? How much you typically consume?blog nut label

For me, breakfast cereal was a huge eye-opener. Some of my favorites, especially those containing dried fruit, nuts or granola clusters, gave me a measly ½ cup. That won’t fill my bowl or my tummy. However, I learned they do just fine as a tasty topping for my yogurt.

There is also a big variation in crackers. Most crackers contain quite a bit of fat. That’s what makes them crispy and delicious. I have been known to pull several boxes of crackers off the shelf at the store and compare which box will give me more crackers per 100 calories, for example. 6 crackers? 14? Which one am I more likely to choose? Can I be trusted to only eat a few of the really calorific ones once I get them home? Probably not.

A kitchen scale, measuring cups and spoons are helpful tools to keep nearby at least until you retrain your eye. I don’t measure everything, but I do measure the more calorie dense items I’m adding to my salad, such as cheese, nuts, dried fruits, dressing. Those are also foods I’m more likely to overdo.

Another thing I’ve learned is that sometimes, a small amount of something very flavorful will satisfy me, whereas a larger amount of something not-so-tasty won’t. That’s why I sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of bleu or feta cheese onto my salad. Or eat a few of my husband’s French fries. Or eat one very good piece of dark chocolate after dinner.

blog_hand-guide-to-portion-control_thumbIf you are at home and inclined to actually measure servings, great. But if measuring sounds too restrictive or you’re eating away from home, here some–ahem–handy rules of thumb.

  • A serving of meat: about the size of the palm of your hand
  • ½ cup: what your cupped hand will hold
  • 1 cup: about the size of your fist
  • An ounce of cheese: the size of your thumb
  • 1 tsp.: the tip of your index finger to first knuckle
  • 1 Tbsp.: the end of your thumb to first knuckle

All are approximations of course. But this exercise may nudge you toward trying something new or perhaps eating a little less of more calorie dense foods. Remember, we’re after baby steps here, not an overnight transformation.

Please share what you’ve learned about portion sizes. Any “aha” moments?

Next week: Plate Geometry

100 Ways To Say – “Not The Brightest”

Just for fun. I know you are all the best and the brightest.

Don Charisma

Not pulling a full wagon.

Not the brightest star in the sky.

The lights are on but no one’s home.

Not the brightest bulb in the box.

A few screws short of a hardware store.

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

A few cards short of a full deck.

A few fries short of a Happy Meal.

About as sharp as a marble.

Only has one oar in the water.

Smart as a bag of rocks.

A hamburger short of picnic.

The elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor.

View original post 703 more words

Healthy Habit #3: Make breakfast a no-brainer. Almost.


blog coffee morningHello again! I hope you took a few baby steps last week and began finding ways to incorporate them into your daily routines. Routines are key to achieving long-term goals. The more happy, healthy habits we can establish, the better.
I’ve seen research saying that we make more than 200 food-related decisions every day. That’s a lot of brain power sucked up by a regular function. But think about how our day starts. Coffee or tea? Cream or sugar? Cereal or eggs? Apple or banana? White or wheat? Now or later?
While I recognize that breakfast is a pretty important start to my day, I also know my brain isn’t fully functional first thing in the morning. The few brain cells that are firing before that first cup of coffee takes effect are doing all they can to just to focus my eyes. For me it just makes sense to plan ahead and have a few healthy go-to options that require little thinking and few sharp objects. Continue reading “Healthy Habit #3: Make breakfast a no-brainer. Almost.”

Valley of Amazement

blog valley of amazeEpic. Over forty years and two continents. The need for a mother’s love and what happens to a child when it is denied or stolen. Sexual commerce in early 20th century Shanghai. Friendship. Loyalty. Hard choices. Cruelty. Disillusionment. Forgiveness. We shouldn’t judge a person by what we see or what they do for a living. The reality could be far better or worse. Perhaps a bit too long with a few too many colorful detours and erotic details along the way. And some very lengthy passages of monologue or letters. But because it is Amy Tan, I stuck with it and was rewarded. Probably not my favorite of her books, but she’s still better than most.

Healthy Habits for Happy Humans #2, Baby Steps

gentle to selfMost of us have watched a child learn to walk, roller skate, or play the clarinet. They didn’t start out proficient, did they? There were plenty of stumbles and falls and a few screeches along the way. Nonetheless, we didn’t criticize or belittle their efforts. We applauded and encouraged them, understanding the each little step was necessary to the next.
Unfortunately, we rarely give ourselves the same privilege when we set out to learn something new, like eating healthier or moving more. We call ourselves weak or stupid. Or worse.
I submit that the fault is not in ourselves, but in our expectations. We expect perfection of our very imperfect, very human selves. Perhaps the goal—perfect compliance with new learning— was too big.
Don’t get me wrong. Lofty, long-term goals are important and worthwhile, but so are all the steps leading to them. Break that big goal into smaller goals. How small? So small that you are absolutely certain of success. And when you achieve that little bitty goal, don’t belittle it, celebrate it. Soon, you’ll feel more capable and ready to take the next step. Success breeds success.
Start where you are, with what you have, just one small step from where you are right this minute.smallest step
Some examples:
Want be more active? If you can only walk five minutes away from home and five minutes back, do that. Then next week, add five minutes. If you are walking twenty minutes a day, make it thirty. Already at thirty? Make it forty.
Already hitting the gym three times a week for an hour? Add a day.
If you wear an activity monitor (pedometer, Fitbit, or the like), spend a few days seeing what “normal” is for you. Then bump up your steps a bit each week until reach the recommended 10,000 a day. Maybe your goal will be to find that pedometer and wear it. Or buy one.
Want to eat more fruits and vegetables? Start where you are. Not eating any? Replace one snack a day with an apple or banana. Already eating some but not the five-a-day? Include a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack.
Not sure what you’re eating? Keep a food diary for one day. Or two. Or a full week. Observe what foods, situations and times of the day trip you up.
Start small. Set a goal that is too small to fail, but not too small to matter.
What one baby step will you take this week? Care to share?

What If We . . .

A lovely little reminder to do one small, kind thing every day.I’ll bet you notice a change in yourself and your world.

Kindness Blog

Infinity Circles in Blue and Pink Photo Credit:

Ever since I began working with Mike on The Kindness Blog, I find myself constantly on the lookout for kindness everywhere I go.  Some days, I am overwhelmed by the love and kindness in the world, and other days, I wonder where all the love and kindness have gone.  One theme that I have noticed is how, quite often, the smallest acts of kindness can mean the most to the recipient.  Today, I found myself surrounded by examples of this theme that left me asking myself what if we. . .

  • smiled at, and made eye contact with, people we encounter, instead of looking down at our tablets, shutting out the world with our headphones, talking on our cell phones, etc.?
  • took time to thank people, instead of taking them for granted?
  • used social media to promote others in a positive manner, rather than shaming or humiliating them?
  • doled…

View original post 151 more words