Monday, January 30, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 30

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you had a fantastic weekend.  We had a wonderful weekend which included:  spending time with friends, time by ourselves to connect, healthy food and plenty of rest (just like Masi pictured above having a nap).  Generally it was a very good weekend and one that allowed us to relax and recharge for the week ahead. 

To remind everyone of what we have accomplished so far here is a recap of the first 29 days of January:

Day 1 – Defined Success and What is/was Holding Us Back
Day 2 – Determined our Purpose and Looked at Passion
Day 3 – Listed Our Goals for January
Day 4 – Listed the Things We Have Needed to Work on for a While
Day 5 – Looked at Optimism vs. Pessimism and Fear vs. Intuition
Day 6 – Practiced Conscious Eating
Day 7 – Hara Hachi Bu
Day 8 – Taking the Stress Out of Meal Time
Day 9 – Acknowledgments
Day 10 – No Excuses, Do it Anyway
Day 11 – Is it True?
Day 12 – Have You Really Connected With Someone Today?
Day 13 – Motivation is a Decision
Day 14 - Successfully Navigating Dinner at an Unfamiliar Restaurant
Day 15 - What Do You Want, Have You Asked?
Day 16 – Treating Others as You Wish to be Treated
Day 17 – Food as a Budget
Day 18 – Silence Your Inner Critic
Day 19 – Replace I Have to With I Want to
Day 20 – Identifying Your Rituals
Day 21 – Face Your Fears
Day 22 – Give Up the Diet Mentality
Day 23 – The Meaning and/or Purpose of Food
Day 24 – Trigger Foods/Situations/People
Day 25 – Words Have Meaning
Day 26 – Lose All-Or-Nothing Thinking
Day 27 -  Decide to live as if ……
Day 28 – Two-Bite Test
Day 29 -  Vision Board

What did you think of the idea of a vision board? When you saw mine did it make sense given what you know about my life from the blog?  I hope that seeing my board helped you to visualize how to turn your ideas into pictures. If there is anything that you would like to me explain differently about this or anything else just let me know.

Are You Hiding Behind Excuses?:

This can be a difficult question to ask yourself but it is critical if you are having trouble reaching your goals.  Everyone has excuses for why they can’t do something.  The reason that some people thrive and others don’t is that those who succeed know when to push through their excuses.  I have definitely been on both sides of the fence on this issue which means that I understand what is like to want something and yet it doesn’t happen.  I can now look back and see that I struggled because I allowed the excuses to stop me.  I want to teach you what I have learned during the process so that you too can improve your health.

The first thing to remember is that other people have accomplished whatever it is you want.  It is always great when we can learn by other people’s successes and mistakes because that can save us time.  There are people out there who have tackled everything that you are trying to do and they succeeded. The trick to your success is finding those people and learning from them. For example there are people who have gotten healthy at almost 50 years old (Valerie Bertinelli), survived cancer (Lance Armstrong), lost hundreds of pounds, reversed diabetes with lifestyle, really anything that you can imagine.  There are hundreds of people who have overcome obstacles bigger than the ones we are facing now.  If you want to succeed you can do so more quickly by learning from these winners.  What do they have that you don’t?  Most likely the biggest difference is their attitude. They didn’t let excuses get in their way.

The second thing to remember is that human beings don’t like change. We naturally gravitate toward our habits; we cling to them in fact.  When these habits are healthy like brushing our teeth they are great.  However if the habits are things like plopping on the sofa every night after dinner and watching TV than the habits are not healthy and they need to be changed.  Pay attention to your habits.  Remember you can’t change what you don’t know.  I am willing to bet the totality of your habits is what got you to where you are today.  I know that was true of me.  However you can change your habits and that will have a ripple effect that will begin to change everything in your life.  The condition that anyone is in currently is nothing more than the result of our recent few thousand decisions.  The impact of each healthy decision is cumulative and when as those positive decisions begin to outnumber and overwhelm the unhealthy decisions your health will begin to improve rapidly.  Don’t let an excuse like, my spouse expects to watch TV every night impact your health. There is always another choice that you can make.  It may sound silly but you can exercise while watching TV.  I know because I have been known to do this.  This way Dan and I were doing something together, but I was also active.

The third item to keep in mind is that when you plan to do something outside the norms of society you will meet with resistance. People are pack animals and they like to be part of a group, to be included. Whenever someone wants to differ from the group (example becoming a little “too granola”) the other members of the group feel threatened. This took me a long time to figure out.  I couldn’t wrap my head around why people would say things to me like, “it’s just a little parmesan, olive oil, salt, prosciutto, etc.”  Why were these people so vested in what I ate? Then I figured it out.  By my not eating the way they ate I was making them feel uncomfortable. It was inadvertently saying to them that their diet wasn’t healthy.  Of course it wasn’t my intention to criticize their diet though in retrospect I can see how they would interpret my actions that way.  If I were being completely honest I did feel that their diet wasn’t healthy enough for us and that they would be better off if they ate like we did.  No wonder people were reacting to our dietary changes as though it was personal because for them it was. However I did not allow these reactions to turn into an excuse for eating in a way was not the healthiest possible.  Here is the bottom line, what other people do and say only has an impact on your if you allow it to.  If your husband, friends, or family want to eat meat and cheese that is their decision.  Their dietary patterns should have no impact on your health.  If you are allowing their habits to affect you I would say you are hiding behind an excuse.

The fourth item to keep in mind is that if you aren’t happy with your health, or the rate of change in the improvement of your health than something you are doing isn’t working for you at the moment.  This is a tough concept for people.  Remember my friend who lost 50 pounds but now the weight isn’t coming off?   Clinging to the idea that practicing moderation will lead to the goal is extremely unlikely since the pounds have stopped coming off. In this case the excuse is “moderation works”.  Really?  I would say the truth is that moderation worked for the first 50 pounds and now something else is required to get the pounds moving again.  Maybe when 6 additional months have elapsed without additional weight loss my friend will be willing to let go of this excuse. *fingers crossed* We all need to be willing to hold ourselves accountable.  When the changes we have made aren’t getting the results that we want that just means that we need to do something different. Don’t get locked into a pattern that no longer serves your best interest.

The fifth item to keep in mind is that sometimes drastic action is required when the problem is big enough.  We all see articles every day that tell us that if we swap multigrain noodles for white flour noodles we have made a recipe healthy.  While this is an improvement it is only a very tiny improvement and not one that is going to make a big change in anyone’s health.  If you are battling a chronic disease (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, or have a lot of weight to loss) the changes you need to make will need to be much bigger than just simple swaps of whole grain for refined grain.  I hear lots of people say things like “but I read that if I do……, then that is enough.”  The bottom line is that most of us believe what we want to believe not what is actually in our best interest.  People want to believe that moderation is enough, but very often that is not the case.  If you have made changes but aren’t getting the results you want then bigger changes are required.   Don’t use things you read in the popular press as excuses. If what you are doing isn’t working then you need to do something different and most likely something more drastic.

What I hope you got from this is that we all tell ourselves stories.  By believing our own stories we are making excuses.  The problem is that we are only lying to ourselves.  No one ever improved anything by staying stuck in a rut that wasn’t moving them forward.  Don’t get me wrong if you rut is working (you are happy, a healthy weight, your lab results are good) then it means that you are in a good rut and you need to stay there.  However most Americans are in an unhealthy rut where they weigh too much, their blood pressure is elevated, and their blood sugar and cholesterol are too high. These are the people who need to step up their actions.  Remember our health is nothing more than a result of the accumulated decisions and actions in life.  The more healthy actions you take the healthier you will become. Once the vast majority of your decisions and actions are healthy you will be on the road to lifelong health.  People try to make “dieting” difficult but really is couldn’t be easier.  Eat as much whole natural plant food as you can, make these whole foods the bulk of your intake, be active every day and your health will take care of itself.

Like everything that I have written if this isn’t clear I would like you to let me know. I am happy to explain in a different way if that will help it make more sense.

Progress on my goals:

1.       Newsletters – Sunday was just as busy as Saturday for me.  This meant the newsletters didn’t get worked on.  I will be happy when January is over and I have more time to get things done.

2.       Body Bugg – I continue to wear my bugg and I have gotten back into using it the way I had intended when I purchased it.  Go me!  J

3.       Date with Dan – Dan and I had another quasi date, this one was dinner with Lauren as our chaperone.  ;-)

4.        Measuring calorie dense food – I am making progress adding nuts and seeds to our food. I

5.       Working on my business – My schedule got in the way of working on the business today. Sunday I was not able to fit in any time to work on the business, or to do laundry for that matter. Once January is over and I have more free time I will jump on this again.  I remember that I promised you the link to my second website on February 10th and I really, really don’t want to miss that deadline.  *eek*  Nothing like self imposed pressure.  ;-)

How are you feeling about your progress so far?  I hope you feel like you have made a few lasting changes this month.  J

Random Thoughts:

I want to give you plenty of warning that I will be taking a few days off at the beginning of February. I have a ton of things to get caught up on in my life including:

·         Homework for the Robbins-Madanes Training program
·         Filling my house with fresh produce (in other words stops at multiple grocery stores are in my future)
·         Working on my second website which I plan to unveil on February 10th assuming that I can stay on track
·         Cleaning my house since that was as the bottom of my list during most of January
·         Spending some me time in the kitchen working on recipes
·         Organizing the to-do list for the boat to get her ready for spring sailing
·         Taking the fur children to the doctor for their annual physicals
·         Getting back to the gym for morning workouts rather than exercising at home
Lots of things in my life went to the end of the list with the trip to the hospital and the added time writing the blog posts.  I need a little time to myself to get caught up so that I don’t feel as stressed out.  I really don’t do my best work when I am under pressure. I know lots of people do but I am not one of them.


Have you made any progress writing acknowledgements?  I hope you are working on this exercise and enjoying it. I find that it helps me stay positive and recognize the things that I do every day.  Here are my acknowledgements:

·         I am very proud of myself for sticking to my daily posts this month. When we had the unexpected week long trip to the hospital I thought for sure I was not going to make it happen.  However I am happy that I exceeded my expectations for myself.

·         Sunday evening I was able to wear a pair of pants that were too tight only a few weeks ago.  It is nice to have most of those 4 pounds I gained when Dan was in the hospital gone.  Have you ever noticed how the pounds go on much easier than the come off?  Life is just not fair.  ;-)

·         Lauren told me that a conversation we had with Samantha while at the hospital made an impression since she asked her about soy protein isolates after we were gone.  Don’t you just love it when you can talk with someone and make a difference?  J

·         I was very happy to have connected Michael with Lauren on Sunday.  Mike is a new grad and I know he appreciated hearing about the nursing profession from someone who has been in a little while.

·         One thing that really struck me this weekend was how much everyone at the restaurant cares about us.  They were so concerned about our trip to the hospital earlier this month.  It was very nice to know how much they all care but I also felt bad since we made them worry.  Lauren commented that we were all at the hospital talking about food, nutrition and recipes and other people were worried.  I need to remember to keep them in the loop the next time so there is no unnecessary worry.


Sunday was a good day, a little busy, a little laid back, time with friends and time to relax.  I was happy to get the vision board post finished since I knew that one would take a long time not only to write but to put together a board that would make sense to all of you.  I wanted to create something that you would see that would immediately make sense given our life. I hope that I was able to show you how to translate what you want to achieve into pictures.

Both Dan and I had quinoa oat blueberry bars for breakfast.  There are now only 2 left which means it is almost time to start a second batch so that I can work on the recipe.  Healthy baking definitely takes more time to perfect than healthy cooking.  However I am determined to get this recipe right.  We had these for breakfast because we hadn’t heard from Lauren yet so we wanted something light just in case we ended up at Jesse Wong’s for lunch which was our back up plan. Fortunately she saw her email and we were able to coordinate dinner instead but that didn’t happen until a little after noon.

Lunch for both of us was chocolate, cherry, kale smoothies because they are quick, filling and healthy.  I had ½ of one and Dan and 1 ½ which is how we usually do it.  This smoothie is very calorie dense due to the nuts so I try not to eat too much particularly when I know we are going out for dinner.

Here is the Vitamix stuffed before blending. 

After blending it becomes two glasses like this. 

Dinner was courtesy of Ian and you know that meant it was delicious. We met our new friend Lauren for a healthy meal.  She was very excited to get healthy food out since that can be difficult in this town.  But now she knows our secret….Ian.  ;-)

We all started with the vegan soup which has the kale, white beans and sweet potatoes.

Next we asked the kitchen to make a vegan version of antipasti plate.  I am sure this looks familiar because we order it all the time because we love it.  I neglected my photographic responsibilities and recycled a prior photo.  Lauren enjoyed the dill on the artichokes, which I also loved and the flavor intensity of the house-made pickles.

Dan and Lauren split a samosa.  You know Lauren must rate since Dan usually eats one of these all by himself.  LOL

Then the three of us split an order of the Thai vegetables in peanut sauce over quinoa which I am happy to say has made it to the regular menu.  We had this dish on New Year’s Eve and loved it and told Ian to keep some of the sauce in the freezer for us.  Clearly he figured out that we liked the dish since it is now available all the time.  ;-)  The spicy peanut sauce definitely makes this dish IMO.

There were a few pots of green tea as well as baskets of whole grain ciabatta and “red stuff” (sun-dried tomato and golden raisin spread).  You can see my healthier version of Ian’s red stuff recipe here.

Dinner with Lauren was a blast. We chatted for hours, nibbled on food and chatted more.  Lauren spent a lot of time talking with Michael (the 6’7” recent nursing graduate who we lovingly refer to as Shorty) about nursing opportunities where she works.   I know he appreciated talking to Lauren and that she was going to set him up with some of her contacts at Hopkins.  We also got a couple of local veg take out suggestions that we are going to follow up on.  I have high hopes since the guys at the restaurant know good food and how we eat.  *fingers crossed*  We will definitely be making plans to get together with Lauren again soon.  She definitely fit right in with everyone at the restaurant. J

Happy thoughts:

Have you gotten into the habit of writing your happy thoughts?  I find it helpful to remind myself how often things go well and that I shouldn’t take these things for granted.   As always there are so many things to be thankful for that I almost don’t know where to start. Here are my happy thoughts:

·         Dinner with Lauren was great. We chatted for almost 4 hours while eating dinner, European style.  Lauren met a lot the staff and made friends with one of the new nursing grads at the restaurant.  Overall it was a very nice night and we will be doing it again soon.  Isn’t it crazy how you meet someone under less than ideal circumstances (like an emergent trip to the hospital) and you get a new friend out of it?  I just love how life works sometimes.  There really is good to found everywhere, even when it isn’t obvious.  J

·         Finished my latest vision board which took less time than I had planned since I had taken care of the compiling a lot of images ages ago.  For those of you who want to do multiple boards keep images in files by category and that way you can put boards together quickly.  My next vision board will be focused on exercise. I want to change my exercise routine and once I have the specifics well defined I will be making another board. Let me know if you want to see that one.

·         It was a beautiful day weather-wise on Sunday.  Additionally I am thankful for the mild winter we have experienced to date.  We are both looking forward to the upcoming temperatures in the mid 60s predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday week. This is not the typical January in the Mid-Atlantic but one that I definitely prefer to our normal weather.

Signing Out:

Can you believe there is only one day left in January? I am shocked that the month is almost over.  As much as I have enjoyed writing this series and I am also glad that it over. I really need some downtime so that I can get caught up on my life.  However I would love to hear about your favorite posts from the month.  If one or two of them stood out to you please let me know what they were and why.  It will help me to know what to write about going forward.

Monday was a tiny bit less hectic than most of the month has been as that was a very good thing.  I was actually able to do a little homework for the new training and I signed up for which was good.  It would stink to be behind after only one week.  ;-)

I also took a little time to make a pot of curried red lentil and tomato soup today. Not only did it make the house smell wonderful but it was nice knowing that it is healthy (turmeric), filling and we have enough for a few meals.  Love that!

I hope your week has started off well and that you are looking forward to the start of a new month.  February is just around the corner which means Valentine’s Day, the anniversary of the day Dan and I met and the ramp up to sailing season.  J  I am looking forward to February. 

Now it is time for me to enjoy the beautiful orange sunset and then make something for Dan and me for dinner. Talk with you all again tomorrow.


  1. Oh my! That antipasto plate looks amazing!! Especially the chickpeas!

    1. Thanks Bianca it was! We are very lucky to have Ian. He takes good care of us. :-)

  2. Someday I'll have to make my way back to Baltimore so I can have dinner at Ian's restaurant with you! The food always looks incredible.

    I think it's interesting to see that you put your smoothie ingredients in almost the opposite of how I do. I don't have a high-powered blender, so I need to do greens on the bottom followed by frozen banana and fruit to get everything to puree.

    Oh, and I definitely don't blame you for wanting a few days off, though it's been nice to see you posting regularly again.

    1. Brigid,

      Ian is definitely a magician with food. Please do let me know if you get back to Baltimore, dinner sounds like a great idea! :-)

      You really need to get a high powered blender someday. I adore my Vitamix and use it every single day, sometimes two and three times per day. I would be lost in the kitchen without it. We have talked about buying a Vitamix for the sailboat but that seems a little wasteful. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we did it anyway. ;-)

      Thanks, it was nice to be posting regularly. However, I really need to get back to shorter posts. LOL

      talk with you later,

  3. that vitamix filled with kale, bananas and walnuts looks all too familiar : )


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