December 30, 2008

Turn, Turn, Turn

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 3:24 am by Debra

Remember it?  It’s a  pretty famous song, with some very famous lyrics:

To everything
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under Heaven

Living now in the midwest, my husband and I have a renewed appreciation for the seasons.  We moved here in the spring, then watched the freshness of spring fade into the fun of a nice, warm summer.  Then, before we knew it, summer transformed into the amazing beauty of fall colors everywhere.  Which brings us to now, we are in the throws of winter.  Spring, then summer, then fall, then winter. Like clockwork.

Turn, turn, turn.

When so many things in life nowadays seem totally disrupted and upside down, and seemingly out of control, one thing is for certain.  As surely as night turns into day, one season will turn into another.  The beauty of fall will always be overcome by the harshness of winter.  But, just as surely,  we know that winter will soon fade, and it will be spring again.

It made me think of the many difficulties our country is going through right now.  So many families are struggling financially, ours included.  Foreclosures, bank failures, and bailouts are the order of the day. People out of work, or worried about losing their jobs. Our financial security is no longer. No doubt about it, this is one extremely bad winter.

American history has taught us, though, this is but a season.  Even though we are all experiencing a really bad winter, we must live each day knowing that this season will eventually give way to a new season – spring! We will have some relief, and many of our challenges will, at some point, relent.  After all, we never know exactly when winter will cease, we just know that it will.

Turn, turn, turn.

No family is immune to the effects of a down economy, not even our own.  So, I’ve told our family,  let’s do our best to help one another, tighten our belts, and look forward to those first signs of spring –  things like new opportunities, new people in our lives, and new challenges to meet. We’re not going to just “get through” this bad boy of a winter, we’re going to use this time to grow wiser, become better people, and lean even closer on one another.

And, maybe after such a tough winter, we’ll come into the new seasons with a little more wisdom, a little less wastefulness, and a much more intense love for one another like never before, having bonded through a crisis together.  It’s a choice, and I’m chosing to make this season and all the rest of the seasons to come, my best ever.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracings

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

Olive U.

December 3, 2008

My Ten Tips For a Healthy Holiday

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:15 pm by Debra

Dieting over the holidays is not only a smart idea, it’s a necessity! I’ve found it is the only way to discipline myself with all the amazing goodies everywhere. But, not only that, it can give us the motivation we need to jump start a healthy eating plan that will carry us well into the new year.

Here are my tips, that really do work, for a healthy holiday (and beyond):

1) Portion control. I know, DUH, right? Easier said than done. But here’s my tip – you can only control your portions by eating MORE frequently. Set your phone alarm to go off every 2 hours between breakfast and dinner. I learned this from a personal trainer I worked with. She told me I wasn’t eating frequently enough to speed up my metabolism or to control my food portions. I found the more frequently I ate, the smaller my appetite became. Crazy, I know. But it works.

2) Appetite control. Eat foods that DECREASE your appetite, and avoid eating foods that INCREASE your appetite. Some foods activate the hormone that tells your brain that you are full, some foods activate the hormone that tells your brain that you need more food. Samples of foods that INCREASE appetite are processed sugar, corn syrup, white flour, white rice. Nuts, on the other hand, work great to DECREASE appetite. Everytime I eat some sugar, I’m thinking, oh no, this is going to make me more hungry! Just what I don’t want. I take one more bite and then I’m done. You can read all about this concept in Dr. Oz’s book YOU ON A DIET, and also on his website http://www.realage.com.

3) Fiber. Fiber keeps your colon healthy and working well. By eating lots of fruit, whole grains, legumes, you are giving your body everything it needs to process the foods you eat, absorb nutrients, and get rid of all the unwanted. Breakfast is the easiest meal to get all your fiber down – eat whole grain oatmeal, pile on the fruit and nuts, eat only whole grain breads, and brown rice. Check your labels, though, for that pesky corn syrup that sneaks into so many of our baked goods. If it has corn syrup, don’t buy it.

4) Maximum 5 g sugar, 5 g fat per meal. Sugar from fruit is not counted in the 5g because of the huge benefit of the fiber in it. Watch your prepared foods (sauces, diet dinners, etc.) where the sugar and or fat count can be very high. Again, by limiting your portions, it’s a lot easier to minimize fat and sugar totals.

5) Olive Oil. Olive oil is your friend. It’s a “good” fat, with lots of antioxidants. Find ways to put a little olive oil on your food everyday. Salad dressings are the easiest, but also use it for a “dip” for your whole wheat bread, pour a little over your whole wheat pasta, add it to your bake potato instead of butter. If you cook with it, just add it in at the end of your cooking or serve broiled hot veggies with a little olive oil poured over them. (Olive oil looses all its good properties when heated to a high temperature.)

6) Your plate. Downsize your plate. The bigger your plate, the more food you’ll eat. Also, put your salad on your plate, not in a separate bowl. Fill half your plate with salad, the rest of your meal on the other half. (more portion control!). You will have a full plate of food, and you will think you are eating a lot!

7) Walk. Move. Everyday. No exceptions. No excuses. Get your heart pumping, to burn calories, and de-stress! If it’s too cold to walk outside, head for a big store, like Walmart or Target, and walk from one end to the other. Several times. Just leave your wallet in the car so you aren’t tempted to spend! When at home, pull out the vacuum, mop, or broom and work it! If you have stairs in your house – even better, a few trips up and down and your heart will get a good workout. Try to increase your activity level every week.

8) Fill up on good stuff first. Before you head to a holiday party or event, fill up on the “healthy” foods at home, so you’ll be “full” when you arrive. Appetite control again. Also, bring a lovely holiday dish full of mixed nuts to share. You’ll have your nuts there to help you with appetite control, so you’ll be free to sample some of the holiday treats.

9) Agave Nectar. A very healthy sugar substitute, available at most health food stores. Use it when you feel the need for a sweetener in your food or drink. It’s very sweet, you only need a few drops, and it does not increase appetite.

10) Fish Oils. Strawberry flavored are my favorite. These have so many benefits, good for your heart, your metabolism, your skin, your everything. The best formulas also contain EPA which significantly helps your mood! Can you believe it? It’s true. Changing eating habits can be stressful, give yourself some help with a few fish oil capsules each day.

Try these simple steps, and watch your appetite and portion control improve. Watch your clothes start to fit much better, especially around the waist and hips. Watch your holiday fun level increase as you thoroughly enjoy the holidays without the guilt feelings. And then, after the holidays, keep it going, you’ve created a new set of very good habits that will help you achieve the healthy body you’ve been wanting. NOW is the best time to start. Let’s do it!