Sunday, January 22, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 22

I have been having the best weekend though I have no idea why.  All weekend I have been in the most incredible, upbeat and happy mood for no reason at all. If I could bottle this and send it to you I would.  Who knew that a few snowflakes could have such a profound impact on my mood?  ;-)  Actually I don’t know that the snow had anything to do with my mood but it was a change and I do love snow so maybe that was the reason.  ;-)  I hope your weekend has been equally good or better than mine.

As I am writing this I noticed that the days are growing noticeably longer now.  It is after 5:30pm and the sun is just setting.  Mother Nature is putting on an interesting show this evening. The sky is cloudy but with the prettiest red/purple popping up between the clouds. Sorry that my photos didn’t do it justice.  It was fascinating to watch as the fast moving clouds were changing the sky quickly.  I get the biggest kick out of watching the sky change colors.   It fascinates me that the older I get the more easily pleased I am with the little things in life. 

What have you thought of the posts so far this month? Do you have any favorites yet? The reason I am asking is so that I know what topics you would like me to write about in future posts. If you have something that you would like me to write about don’t be shy.  For those of you who are just joining us here is the recap of what we have accomplished so far to remind us all of how much we have covered during the first 21 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

What did you think of yesterday’s post about facing your fears?  I hope seeing my fears caused you to reflect on your own and to make a plan to tackle at least one of yours.   Please try to remember that we all need to continue to learn and grow or we will start to wither inside.  If any of us continue to do what you have always done then we really shouldn’t expect anything in our lives to change.   I have tried many diets during my life, probably more than I can count. It took me years to figure out what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.  Once I gave up dieting then my health dramatically improved and I want the same thing for any of you who are looking for change.

I realize that many of the things that I have written about recently may be too close to home for some of you. My reason for writing these posts is to shake you out of your comfort zone because I know from personal experience that this is necessary to get results.  Everything I have been writing this month comes from a place of love and wanting to help and I hope that you all know that. 

Give Up the Diet Mentality:

Today’s topic was inspired by a conversation that I had with a friend.  That interchange has been rolling around in my head for the last 48 hours and I think it is very important which is why I wanted to write about it in this post.   There is definitely something that all of us can learn from this concept, me included.  

January is the time when almost everyone tries to make changes to improve their health.  We are all conditioned to make resolutions on January 1st.  I imagine many of you are either looking to lose weight or to improve your health, this is what we do each January.  Most of us start off the month with a new diet or heading to the gym every day.  However as gung ho as we are all early in the year most people fall off the bandwagon by the end of the month.  Why does this happen?  I have spent a lot of time pondering this and I think I know part of the reason why.

I am sure that each of us has a friend who struggles with their weight or we have or continue to struggle with our own weight. If you listen to people who are struggling with their weight you will find that they have a few things in common.

·         They are always going on or off a diet.

·         Each new attempt at dieting starts with a bang and somehow fizzles out.

·         We seem to believe that the current quick fix (diet) will solve our problem right up until it stops working.  This is driven in large part by the diet book industry IMO.

·         Diets are seen as something that we do until we get the result that we want.

When you read this list do you see the problem?  I think that it is always easier to see a problem when it isn’t ours (when you are on the outside) but much tougher to see when you are inside.  When any of us pin our hopes on the latest diet we have set up a temporary situation that may work in the short term but won’t work in the long term.  In order to achieve long term results you have to willing to make long term change. No one wants to hear that but it a fact of life.  The problem with any diet (it doesn’t matter which one) is that most people view them as a short term solution, I will eat this way until:   I lose 20 pounds, after the wedding, after my class reunion, etc.  We plan to go back to our old habits once we have lost the weight.  In order achieve lasting success you need to be willing to make long term changes.  The specific changes are not what it is important, what matters is your commitment to long term change.

The first thing to reflect on is what is the result that you are trying to achieve?  Do you want to be a healthy weight for life or do you want to lose weight for an event or situation?  Many people think they can lose weight on a diet and then go back to eating the way that they used to and yet they expect to keep the weight off.  I refer to this as having their cake and eating it too.  However how many of us has either been on that diet roller coaster or know people who have and we all know it doesn’t work long term.  This is the reason that the statistics are so horrible for people losing weight and keeping it off.  Here is the bottom line; if we aren’t willing to make permanent changes we won’t see permanent results. This is not difficult to see in other people or with other situations however for some reason most of us want to believe that diets are exempt from this law of cause and effect.   Diets don’t work specifically because we see them as a “short term” solution.  However no other long term problem has ever been solved by a short term solution and why would weight be any different?

Let’s look at some of the specifics to help this make more sense.  This time of year diets are everywhere. Almost every magazine that arrived in my mailbox this month has had a diet in it.  Grab one of those magazines and flip to the diet.  What do you notice?  The plan tells you what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  What is wrong with that?   None of us can live our lives eating what and when someone else tells us to.  Life doesn’t work that way.  What if you are not home and don’t have access to tuna and whole wheat pita for lunch and that is what you are “supposed to eat”?  There is also the obvious problem of what if you don’t eat tuna, or if you just don’t feel like tuna that day for lunch?  Do you see how this isn’t sustainable for the long term?  No matter how disciplined any of us are we will grow tired of eating what someone else prescribes for us.

In order for any of us to improve our health we need to be able to make decisions for ourselves in the moment. We need to learn which foods are good for us and which ones are harmful.  The idea is to eat more of what is good for us and less (or preferably none) of what is bad for us.  The goal is to learn to consistently make good decisions when it comes to fueling your body.  This sounds complicated to anyone who struggles with their weight/health but it is actually very simple.  I have very few “rules” around what I eat which probably surprises many of you who think the way we eat is very restrictive (I hear that from many of you by email BTW).    Here is the only thing that I keep in mind when deciding what to eat:

What is the healthiest thing that I want to eat right now?

That doesn’t seem very complicated does it?  At some meals the healthiest thing that appeals to me may be a big salad, savory oatmeal or a green smoothie. Other times the healthiest thing that appeals to me is veggie sushi, whole wheat pasta with red sauce or tofu chocolate mousse.  I recognize that my mood changes and that some meals are healthier than other meals and that is okay.  Overall I am happy with my choices and feel like they generally serve me well.

However this is not to say that I don’t reevaluate my choices often because I do.  I monitor my results and make adjustments all the time, but these adjustments aren’t big so you would not necessarily notice them.  I will give you an example.  When Dan was in the hospital my food choices were not as healthy as usual (veggie subs) and as a consequence I put on a few pounds.  Once we were both home I made a few adjustments so that those extra pounds came back off.  This is the reason that I find it helpful to get on the scale every morning. It isn’t the absolute number that matters; it is the trend of the numbers. Example if the scale is rising I know that I need to make changes immediately.  Other people may need to make changes if the scale is not falling or if it is falling depending on your baseline and goal.

While I am not a fan or diets I am also not a fan of the concept of moderation.  One of the reasons that I always rail against moderation is that the concept is incredibly vague.  No one actually knows what moderation means yet everyone claims that the practice it even Paul Deen.  Really?  *scratches head* This just doesn’t make any sense to me.  If we all think that we practice moderation and over 65% of this country is overweight or obese how any of us can actually think that moderation works?  Is it just me or do you see the same problem that I do? 

Moderation is all about having your cake and eating it too. Another way to look at moderation is that we are giving ourselves permission to eat food that we know isn’t good for us, because we are eating it moderation and we want to believe that somehow makes it better.  Would you eat arsenic in moderation? Would you use heroine in moderation? Would you give your children alcohol in moderation? Do you see the inherent problem with moderation?  Can you tell that I really don’t think much of moderation?

I hope that what I wrote about the diet mentality and moderation causes you to ponder these concepts.  I used to believe in both diets and moderation too.  However giving up on both these has improved my health and happiness and I think that it will do the same thing for you.

I am sure a few of you are thinking, okay so diets don’t work and neither does moderation but what should I be doing?  Easy!  The next time it is meal time just ask yourself what is the healthiest thing you want to eat now. Continue to make each meal decision with that thought in mind and you will improve your health.

Something tells me that some of you still want more suggestions.  Here are things that you might want to keep in mind. 

·         Fresh (raw) produce (vegetables and fruit) are always good.  Any time that you can add fresh produce to your meals you should.  Raw produce is low in calories, high in fiber and high in micronutrients.  Go produce!

·         Increase the amount of protein that you get from plant sources.  The beauty of plant protein is that it comes without saturated fat and with fiber. Whenever you can add beans to a meal instead of animal products you are doing your health a favor.  I try to eat beans in some form each day.

·         Concentrate on eating whole unprocessed plant-based food.  Try to eat at least 50% of each meal as whole unprocessed plant-based food.  Once 50% is easy to achieve increase the percentage.  I try to eat 95% of my food as whole food but I didn’t get here overnight.  Examples of processed foods for me include:  anything made with flour, sugar, oil, as well as things that come in packages.  When you eat mostly whole unprocessed plant-based foods everything about your health starts to improve.

·         Drink more water.  Our bodies are predominantly water and they need water to function properly.  Most Americans are chronically dehydrated.  Instead of reaching for a diet soda or a cup of coffee drink water.  If you don’t like water make it green tea, or you can add cucumber, fresh herbs or citrus slices to your water for flavor.

When you put these ideas into practice you will naturally crowd out the unhealthy foods.  If you don’t think you can make all these changes at one time pick one and concentrate on that. Once that change becomes a habit add another change.

Today’s exercises are:

1.      Record what you eat today in your journal. At the end of the day review the list and reflect on your choices. Are you happy with your choices?  If you are happy with them wonderful!  If not identify the choices that you would like to change in the future and think about healthy substitutions so that you are prepared the next time. Write those new choices down too.  Here is an example to give you an idea:

Veggie subs from Subway could become fresh fruit and nuts from home or hummus and crudités (both of which I did after a while at the hospital but not initially).

2.      Select one of the items above to add to your diet.  Most people find it easier to add things that to take things away.  However by adding more nutritious items you are less room for the unhealthy stuff.  Look carefully at your diet and start with the change that will have the biggest impact for you. For example if you eat a lot of pasta substituting quinoa might be the right choice and would definitely be a great way to reduce your processed food impact.

I know that I need to eat more mushrooms. We got out of the habit of having them when Dan was in the hospital.  In order to make this easier to incorporate I am going to get back into the habit of preparing flavored mushrooms a few times a week to have on hand for salads.   Sorry that I couldn’t come up with a better example here but I have been working on my food choices for a while so there isn’t much left for me to change in our dietary habits.  ;-)

What did you think of this section on ditching the diet mentality?  Did I explain it in a way that makes sense?  I hope that I did.  Like always if anything that I wrote is unclear or you think that it requires clarification please don’t hesitate to let me know either by commenting or sending me an email.

Progress on my goals:

1.       Newsletters – Saturday was another productive day for me which feels great.  I love being able to see the progress that I am making.  *woo hoo*

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

3.       Date with Dan – The hubby and I have spent a lot of time together this week.  With the weather we have stayed fairly close to home but we can have fun anywhere home or out.  ;-)

4.        Measuring calorie dense food – I am making a little progress on this but I really need to focus on it with every veggie meal to help my body absorb the fat soluble vitamins.

5.       Working on my business – Saturday I took the day off from working on the business.  The January posts are taking me many more hours to write than usual. As much as I love these posts I will be happy to see February arrive since I really need a little time back to work on other things, the business being one of them.

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:

When did people stop cooking in this country?  I was looking at a recipe on Real Simple today for samosas and it called for refrigerated or frozen mashed potatoes.   What?  People buy prepared mashed potatoes.  My first thought was this was a joke but no they really exist.  When I looked up the ingredients I was surprised that I couldn’t find it detailed.  Hmmm, I wonder what is in there that they don’t want us to know about.   Is it any wonder that people in this country struggle with their health?  *sigh*

One of the toughest things in life for any of us to do is to be true to ourselves.  Human nature means that we all want to conform, to be included in the group, basically to be accepted.  However when you have beliefs that are counter to what the rest of the world believes it is difficult to “fit in”.  This was one of the scariest things about changing our diet initially.  I knew that on some level everything about life would change.  Many of our social activities would change (cooking class for example), and friends would not understand why they saw us less.  However we both knew that we had a choice to make, do what we believed was in our own personal best interest health wise or compromise ourselves for others.  I think you know us well enough by now to know what we decided to do. 

If you are worried about how eating more like us will impact your life I won’t mislead you it is difficult at first.  People will not understand your choices and they will try to convince you that “a little bit of ……” won’t hurt you.  My question is where do you plan to draw the line?  Is one unhealthy meal a week okay?  What is the point at which you have gone too far?  Dan and I follow a diet that most people consider extremely restrictive. The funny thing is that neither of us perceives it that way. We both think of food and fuel and most people don’t.  When your focus is on your health making the best choice is very simple.


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

·         We have had a very good weekend.   We got out of the house for exercise even though it was icy.  I took this picture to try to give you an idea. Sorry it doesn’t really do it justice. I was pleased with us for getting out despite the weather, that is when you know you are committed, is should that be you should be committed?  LOL

·         The split pea and barley soup that I made on Friday was a bit hit this weekend.  Is there anything better than a thick bean soup when it is cold and snowy outside?  *pats self on back*  ;-)  I describe the soup in more detail below in case you want to make something similar at your house.

·         We finally took all the Christmas decorations down. We had planned to take them down the evening that Dan ended up in the hospital.  While the decorations were up much longer than usual, and longer than they should have been, at least we were able to enjoy them more this year which was nice.   I can almost always find a bright side to everything you know.  LOL

·         Other than to check the weather we haven’t had the TV on in days.  I love that we are able to talk, read and enjoy the other persons company without the distraction of a TV set.  J  I am one lucky woman to have married my best friend.  I guess this proves that good things are worth waiting for.

·         My hubby is such a sweetie. He walked to the store on Sunday, just to get out and move around, and called to see if I needed anything. He came home with a beautiful bunch of kale (better than flowers) and bananas.  J


Breakfast for Dan was wild blueberry oats with goji berries, a few cranberries, cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, stevia, raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds and hempseeds.  Can sweet oatmeal get much healthier than this?  Probably not much healthier LOL.  ;-)

You will not be surprised to hear that I had savory oatmeal.  This time I flavored it with nutritional yeast (to make it cheesy), cumin, paprika and no-salt seasoning.  I add in frozen organic veggies (corn, peas, carrots and green beans) and stirred in some fresh organic spinach right at the end of cooking. I topped it with a little of the leftover red sauce with mushrooms and finished it with a few of the smoked mushrooms that I made for the split pea soup.  Delicious if I do have to be the one to say so.  ;-) I never get tired of savory oatmeal in case you hadn’t noticed. There are so many different flavor combinations yet to explore.  LOL

We took our time getting breakfast so I ended up skipping lunch. Dan polished off the remainder of the healthy tofu chocolate mousse experiment so that I could work on the next batch and get the recipe “right”.  Dan is just a giver isn’t he?  LOL

Dinner was a bowl of the split pea and barley soup topped with the smoked mushrooms.  It was the perfect cold weather meal.  J  For those of you who are curious I pressure cooked a pound of beans, then added the ½ cup barley and cooked that normally until the barley was soft.  I seasoned the soup with bay leaves, a touch of Dijon mustard, dill, caraway, onion, garlic and no-salt seasoning. The smoked mushrooms were even easier. Take dried mushrooms and rehydrate them in water, then squeeze out the excess liquid and move them to a sheet pan.  Add a little liquid smoke (maybe ¼ - ½ teaspoon, some no-salt seasoning and toss to combine.  Bake the flavored ‘shrooms on 350 degrees until they are just starting to get chewy.  The exact time will depend on your oven and how dry the ‘shrooms were when you started to bake them. Mine were in about 30 minutes.

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:

·         The mystery fever has been gone for almost a week now. We are both convinced that whatever caused it is now gone.  Good riddance I say.  J

·         The ice covered tree branches were beautiful last night when we were out.  I am sorry that I couldn’t get a good picture of it with me phone.  The trees seemed to be covered in diamonds when the street lights shined on them.  It was definitely a gorgeous sight, but one that I was happy to walking in rather than driving in.

·         Saturday our friend Jackie (Walid’s wife) stopped for lunch and saw Ian. I am not sure how it came up but she mentioned the trip to the hospital and not long after that I had an email from Ian.  Are you starting to see what a small group we all are?  It is sweet that everyone at the restaurant worries about us but I wish that they wouldn’t.  *ugh*  While it is nice to have so many people care about you but it also comes with responsibility.  I hate to cause people to worry.  Looks like I need to go out to lunch one day this week and fill the gang in. 

·         Sunday morning I received a nice email from Lauren (the very sweet nearly vegan nurse we met at Hopkins).  We hadn’t run into each other on the street and she wanted to let me know that she was definitely interested in getting together for lunch.  It is always nice to make new friends isn’t it?  Who could have imagined that I would find a new friend from literally around the corner while at the hospital?  Life does seem to work in mysterious ways sometimes.

·         Have I said recently how nice it is to be eating my own food again?  I feel so much better then I eat things that I had made from scratch.  The weight I picked up while Dan was in the hospital is almost gone (it should be completely gone by tomorrow), and I feel fabulous.

·         Next week we are expecting temperatures in the low 50s all week. *woo hoo*  You know I will be spending as much time outside as possible right?  I love getting outside to breathe the fresh air.  *happy dance*

·         Binky was adorable today as we were taking down the end of the Christmas stuff. He had to get into every box and investigate each item we were putting away. I love that our cats still act like kittens though they will all be 11 years old this year.  Our three fur children certainly bring a lot of love and laughter into our house.

Signing Out:

I haven’t even thought about dinner yet.  It needs to get off the computer and get my behind into the kitchen soon otherwise we will starve! Okay we would never really actually starve because we both like food too much, but I tend to have a flair for the dramatic.  ;-) Since Dan brought home a big bunch of kale that may make its way into dinner tonight.  Then again I am fickle so I am sure another dozen ideas will flow through my head before I actually make dinner.  Who knows what we will end up eating.  See why I don’t bother to pretend that I am going to write a menu for the week? There would be no point since I would never stick to it.  LOL

I have been shocked by the flood of emails that I have gotten about IIN. I had no idea so many of you were interested in this.  If you are interested and you yet sent me an email at please don’t be shy I promise that I don’t mind answering any questions that you have.  It would probably be easier for us to talk by phone so that you can get all your questions answered if that works for you. Send me an email so that we can exchange phone numbers and set up a time to chat.  However if you are shy and would rather communicate by email that is fine too, whatever works for you is okay with me.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.  I hope you had a fabulous weekend and are rested and ready to start your week, assuming you do the 9-5 thing like my hubby that is.  ;-)  Talk with you again soon!


  1. Hi there,
    Just wanted to let you know I stopped by! :) I'm glad you are doing well and that you were in a good mood today. The chocolate mousse looked super yummy, as did the rest of the food! And your kitty is certainly cute. :)

    1. Hi Alycia,
      Just wanted to let you know, I'm almost vegan for one week. Thirst, I wanted to loose weight (29 pounds for 3,28 feets = too much) , I realized I slept better and woke up earlier naturally. But my all body is hitchy, perhaps because of the toxins to eliminate.
      I've tried a lot a your recipes. The lasagnas were a bit hit at my house this week end ! I also made variations of soups with a bean base (red lentil, garbanzo, split peas...) .

      Thanks a lot , you gave me the energy to start all this .

    2. Eliza,

      Yay for being vegan for a week. I think that is very exciting. :-) We definitely sleep better now too. I agree with you that the itching is probably your body removing the toxins. It should go away soon.

      Dan had the lasagna tonight too he loves that. I am glad it was a hit at your place too.

      If there is anything that I can do to help don't hesitate to ask.

      congratulations again,

  2. I love the suggestion to ask myself, "What is the healthiest thing I can eat right now?" I'm going to start putting that into practice. Thank you, Dan, for taste testing for us! Lucky you!
    I married my best friend too, Ali. We'll be celebrating 25 years together this year.

    1. Christy,

      If you liked that suggestion I think you will enjoy today's post. I had an epiphany that I think might apply. Please let me know.

      Dan is a giver LOL. He was taste testing lasagna tonight. He suffers a lot for others.

      Awww, that is nice that you are married to your best friend too. So few married couples really seem to like each other, I am happy to know there are more than just us. ;-) We will also be celebrating 25 years together this year. 1987 must have been a good year.

      enjoy the rest of your evening,

  3. Hi Angel,

    Thanks for stopping by. I have no idea where my mood came from but I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Binky is cute, it is a shame he isn't well behaved. ;-)



Related Posts with Thumbnails