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To Carb, or Not to Carb?

Monday, August 09, 2010

In the 80s, low fat diets were the rage. Americans were eating too much fat, so we were warned we could lose weight and live longer with low fat diets.

Now we're warned away from carbs. There's nothing in recent history more controversial than carbs. To carb, or not to carb?

The truth is, we are eating too many fat and carbs. We are also eating too much protein, sugars, and salt. The western diet is too much of EVERYTHING. (Except fruit and veg, but I'll talk about that in a separate blog.)

Carbs are good for you, and essential for good health. Unless you're eating only meat, you're eating carbs. Veggies have carbs. Fruit have carbs. No one will say, "Don't eat veggies and fruit! Too many carbs!!" What people usually mean by 'no carb' or 'low carb' is reduced refined carbs. A white bread roll is an example of refined carbs.

A typical western diet has way, way too many refined carbs. Let's look at a spaghetti lunch at the Olive Garden.

Salad - fiber, carbs, fat and sodium from salad dressing
Breadstick - carbs, fat, sodium
Spaghetti - carbs, protein, sodium

If you are what you eat, what's your main ingredient? Carbs, fat and sodium!

Even a salad at the Olive Garden you should go easy on because it is coated in salad dressing. You can make this better by skipping the breadsticks, eating half of the spaghetti, and taking the rest home for tomorrow's lunch. Tada, you just reduced the carbs and fat!

What's a typical southern dinner? Spare ribs, cornbread, mashed potatoes, corn, and maybe some collard greens. Carbs, carbs, carbs, fat, fat, fat. Have ONE of the following carbs: cornbread, mashed potatoes OR corn. NOT all three!

I've maintained my 30 lb weight loss mostly by cutting almost everything I normally eat in HALF. I do not avoid carbs and fat, but I do pay attention to them. If I'm given the choice of corn, bread roll, or mashed potatoes, I chose one, not all. If at all possible, I load up on the biggest plate of salad I can get, dressing on the side. I try to limit my sugar intake. I used to drink 3-4 cans of fully leaded soda per day. Now I drink maybe one a month. Most of my sugar comes from fruit. I do not eat a lot of processed/packaged food that is loaded with sugar and salts.

I've done this over 6 years now, and can confidently say I wouldn't have it any other way. I think I do have a 'reduced carb/fat' diet, but only because I was eating way too much before. These are 'lifestyle' changes that comfortably fit with my lifestyle, and I don't have to put a lot of effort into maintaining.

So to answer the title question: LESS carbs is plenty.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARCHIMEDESII 8/10/2010 9:39AM

    Hear hear ! The potato has been a much maligned vegetable. People think that eating potatoes made them fat. No, eating French fries on a regular basis is what packed on the weight.

Potatoes, rice and even pasta can be very healthy options. Now, I understand that people who are diabetic have to watch their intake of carbs. that's something they have to do to maintain their blood sugar levels.

However, most people didn't get fat because they ate potatoes, pasta and rice. They got fat (as you rightly noted) because they ate too much of everything. Although, I will say that most people don't seem to want to over eat their spinach. LOL !!!

I tried a "low carb" diet when they first came out. It made me sick. Too much protein was just no good for my body. I do much better on a high carb diet that is loaded with fresh fruit and veggies. That's what I really thrive on. Of course, you won't see me refuse a chicken wing or two. I do love a good BBQ.

Moderation, all things in moderation. Watch the portions... I've been to Europe several times and I tell you, they do not eat the portion sizes we do here. American portions are practically on steroids. People want a deal. they want the most bang for their buck. Well, look at what eating all that extra food got them i.e. it got them an obesity epidemic.

You're right, people need to watch their portions. Eat less of everything, except their fruits and veggies. gotta love those fresh veggies !

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

-- karen

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ANDYLIN90 8/10/2010 1:08AM

    You are right on target and it is no mystery why you are maintaining your weight loss.

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JUST_SIMONE 8/9/2010 7:07PM

    Thanks for posting this. After losing almost 90 pounds, I've sort of stalled and was questioning whether I should start viewing carbs as the enemy, as I see others do. But when I don't get enough carbs, I feel like crap! Thanks for the reminder that carbs aren't evil as long as they come with plenty of portion cotnrol.

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Should I just get the Wedding Dress?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

My fiance and I have been going in circles about our wedding plans. We plan on the date to be in 2012, so we still have some time. At first we wanted a small, intimate destination wedding somewhere in the Caribbean. Our families live halfway across the world opposite each other, and we thought that might be a good midway point for our friends and family. However, it is quite remote, so we don't expect a big turnout, which is ok with me. I like small and quiet.

Then his parents said it was too far to travel and weren't coming. My dad is on an oxygen tank after a bout of pneumonia damaged his lungs a year ago, and has arthritis in his back, so he can't go. So the only family we have coming are my mom and his brother. We thought maybe we should change to location to my home state of Colorado since my dad can't travel, but that meant a traditional wedding, which neither of us are terribly enthusiastic about. When I found out how much a traditional wedding with a location, reception, and photographer cost, I was shocked. We could get our destination wedding AND a head start on our honeymoon for the same price.

I guess the tipping point was when my dad said that we should just have the wedding we want to have. Breaks my heart to think my dad won't walk me down the aisle, but if his health wasn't an issue, we would definitely have the destination wedding. We have his blessing, so we're going to back to our original plans, even though I tear up at the thought of my dad not being there.

So while we haven't exactly settled on a location/date yet (though it will be 2012), I've been procrastinating on the dress. After we first got engaged, I made a digital scrapbook of internet clippings for dresses that I liked. I haven't tried on any dresses because in my mind, I keep saying that I'll lose 10 more pounds before trying on a dress - teehee. But I'm wondering, should I just get the dress, and in the event I lose 10 pounds, have it taken in?

Anyone have thoughts on this? Is taking in a wedding dress that easy or no?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SNOWHIT 8/9/2010 4:26PM

    Congrats on the wedding and dealing with all the family/guest issues that come up. I'm in the waiting camp. Your body could change in a number of ways and you shouldn't set yourself up to feel bad about that.

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VHALKYRIE 8/5/2010 11:24PM

    Thanks everyone!

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JILLWILSON2102 8/5/2010 4:11PM

    I do suggest waiting as well, but always order the dress a little bit bigger for tailoring. Most wedding stores will actually order a little larger unless your wedding is very quick. Good luck.

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55WALKER 8/5/2010 3:46PM

    I would wait. How many things have you had shifting views of over the past two years? Even the wedding location! How relevant is that?!!! You can't know now which dress will suit you in two years.

I bet you could set up an electronic connection that would allow your dad to "be at the wedding" wherever it is. Travellers everywhere talk to their families with visual connections too.

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READNKNIT 8/5/2010 3:32PM

    I'd wait. 2012 is two years away. Look on the bright side of that: Maybe your dad's health will improve and he'll be able to go with you! Maybe you should offer him that as an incentive to work hard to get better! Tell him how much you really want him there. It'll make a difference, I'm sure. And two years is plenty of time for things to improve. It's possible after he gets used to the oxygen that he'll see that lots of other people travel with their tanks, too. Good luck!

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LIMASTAR 8/5/2010 2:33PM

  2012 is still a ways away and things might change. So, I'd at least wait till 2011 before getting a wedding dress. That will give you time to see if you can get your weight down a bit more and maybe relieve some of the hurry up stress.

To motivate yourself, I'd try on a few dresses you think you'd like to wear to at least see yourself in one and see how it actually looks on you. Looking at dresses and actually having one on are two very different things. Sometimes what you think will be fantastic might not actually be so fantastic looking once you have it on.

Good luck & hope things work out for you and your fiance.

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BAILEYS7OF9 8/5/2010 2:25PM

    I would wait personally. 2012 is a long way from now. Unless you are close to 5' I have a dress for ya!

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GOCELTICSGO 8/5/2010 1:35PM

    Just get it!

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Overeating During Pregnancy Puts Baby at Risk

Thursday, August 05, 2010

It is necessary to raise calories when pregnant, however, I was shocked when a pregnant friend of mine said she can eat whatever she wants, as much as she wants - fried chicken, hamburgers, cakes, whatever. The strange thing is, she had a pretty healthy diet before she got pregnant, but seems to think a junk food diet during pregnancy is ok. From what she was saying, it sounded to me like 'eating for two' was interpreted as doubling her daily calories. I tried to gently point out to her that a developing baby needs good nutrition. An article I read recently said pregnant women should increase their calories intake by 300 per day - that's it.

An article today on MSNBC suggests that overeating while pregnant with a weight gain of 50lbs or more may put the baby at risk of obesity troubles later in life.


I hope I remember this when it comes time for our family planning. 6 years after my 30lb weight loss, occasionally I still talk myself into overeating. I can see the temptation during pregnancy to be a very real worry for me...

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

READNKNIT 8/5/2010 3:36PM

    You're absolutely right! She should not be eating that way!

I just read an article today in the AMA daily email that my husband (family physician) gets. It said that mothers who gain a huge amount of weight during pregnancy set their children up for obesity later in life. In fact, it said that mothers who are obese to begin with should not gain more than 15-20 pounds during pregnancy. It's not good for them, and it sure isn't good for their babies either.

I can't imagine that her family doctor is telling her anything different.

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CARRIE1948 8/5/2010 8:32AM

    That poor unborn child. Imagine being nurtured with junk food in utero.

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Beautiful in Our Own Skin

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I saw an blog article today about Ann Taylor's website accidentally displaying unretouched models instead of their photoshopped 'enhanced' versions. Take a look for yourself.


There's absolutely nothing wrong with the original photo, and the photoshopped version is actually a bit distorted. She's beautiful, and in great shape without the 'touchup'.

While I'm sure many of us have celebrity inspirations on what we wish our bodies could be, remember that what you see in magazines and online are artistic renditions. It used to be called 'airbrushing'. These days, photoshop is able to do things the airbrush was never able to do.

Here's an example. Watch this YouTube video on how to get a virtual 'diet' with photoshop.


Now don't get me wrong. Visuals can be great motivators. If I had a wish for an ideal body shape, then I would love the physically athletic form of Janet Jackson back in the Rhythm Nation days. Cindy Crawford was my hero - curvy, but toned. And I'm totally stealing these photoshop techniques to touch up my own beach photos - LOL.

While the model on the cover of Shape or Cosmo magazine may look fantastic, they are a digital sculptor's interpretation of a goddess. None of us can compete with that, not even the models these are based on.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LADYROSE 8/4/2010 5:10PM

    This is great!

I just got a mailer from Victoria's Secret - been at my house for 4 years and STILL getting mail for the previous residents! - and the 'shop job on those ladies makes them look freaky!

They're beautiful women to begin with - heck, we are ALL beautiful - why do we insist on messing with it? Yes, the top in the untouched photo 'accidentally' released has more wrinkles, and *gasp* the model looks like a size 2 instead of a 0... But as you said, we can't compete with the photos in the magazines. Even the models have said they can't compete with their touched up photos!

It's tempting to say 'why bother?!' if we can't look like our motivation photos, but that's missing the point! We're all out to make better versions of ourselves and I'm so glad you had this as a reminder!

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Lady Gaga, Petite and Fit

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I'm a petite woman at 5'0" tall. My goal weight is at about 120-125lbs. I arrived at that number because that was what I weighed in high school and college at the peak of slimness and fitness. I was very active with soccer and later martial arts. My waist size was about a size 4, but my hips were a size 6 (I've got the J-lo hips going on).

So I'm often surprised when I hear of other petite women with goal weights of 110 or less. The last time I weighed 110 lbs at the same height, I was 12 years old.

While we are all shaped and proportioned differently, I can't help but think there are unrealistic expectations based on so called 'supermodel' ideal.

Take Lady Gaga for example. She is 5'1" tall and weighs approximately 126lbs. By runway model standards, that's fat. So how in the world does she have that superflat belly most of us covet?

It's simple. She is very fit. She has a lot of muscle. Muscle on women doesn't make them bulky; it makes them tone and sleek, like a cat (meow).

Fat makes bulk, not muscle.

She doesn't eat a runway model diet of water and crackers, either. The July 2010 issue of Shape magazine has a small blurb about her tour diet which comprised of 5 meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 snacks.

Breakfast: Frittatta made with 3 egg whites, 1 leek, 1/2 zucchini, 1/4 cup basil, and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese.

Snack #1: Peach-rasberry smoothie made with 1/2 cup peaches, 1/4 raspberries, 2 tbsp nonfat yogurt, 1 tbsp OJ, and ice cubes.

Lunch: Fresh herb falafel made with 1/3 cup chickpeas, 1 tbsp minced onion, tbsp whole-wheat bread crumbs, 2 tsp each of parsley, cilantro, and cumin cooked in 2 tsp canola oil and served with 4 tbsp tzatziki on a bed of romaine lettuce.

Snack #2: 1/3 cup citrus yellowfin cerviche with lime tortilla chips.

Dinner: 5oz halibut with Chinese five-spice powder and 3/4 cup brown rice.

I calculated the calories and it comes out to approximately 1200 calories. It is a whole lot of very nutritious calories, and spacing out the calories staves off hunger. There are only a few refined carbohydrates (tortilla chips), and no refined sugars. From my estimates, the ratios of carbs/fat/protein are approximately 40/30/30.

Her fitness routine is working out five times a week doing cardio, weights, and core exercises. Plus all that dancing in concert - whew!

Weight is just a number. If you really want to be healthy, then go by measurements and body fat ratio. Lady Gaga weighs more than she looks, but there's no denying that ironing board flat stomach.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LADYROSE 8/4/2010 5:15PM

    There was a great email sent out by Rachel Cosgrove by a woman who weighs about 150, and is a size 4... (not sure about her height but I'm 5' 6", 140, and a size 8) It's all muscle! Who cares what the scale says when you're able to look that good and, most importantly, FEEL that good?!

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SHEENANASH1 8/3/2010 4:06PM

    Heres the article i was talking about, it was in Vanity Fair, not GQ, oops!


No doubt she looks really good and I bet she does have a good diet and works out like crazy for her concerts and whatnot. I agree with you there. I just find it sad that she seems to have led her fans into thinking she healthy and a role model when in reality it seems she very naive about her own health. And that she would talk so nonchalantly about using drugs is so upsetting!

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VHALKYRIE 8/3/2010 2:13PM

    Sheena: After your comment, I went back and did a little more research.

This was 126 lb Lady Gaga during "The Fame" tour. the-fame.org/albums/photoshoots/200

New Gaga: twitpic.com/16lwki (unknown weight?)

So...perhaps she's not doing this any more. I was just going off the Shape article, which was about Rock and Pop stars diet and fitness. They don't promote unhealthy diets, and certainly not drug use, so maybe things have changed since when they first did the interview and publication.

I think she looks much better during "The Fame".

Comment edited on: 8/3/2010 2:14:14 PM

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JILLWILSON2102 8/3/2010 1:52PM

    I agree with the unrealistic expectations. You are a wise woman! emoticon

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SHEENANASH1 8/3/2010 1:36PM

    I hate to burst any bubble but i just read an article about lady gaga today in which SHE freely admitted in a magazine interview that she has an "occasional" drug habit that consists "mostly of cocaine", but no worries she only does it "a few times a year". So if that is being fit, Ill take a pass! Id rather be flabby with a gut that have to snort coke to stay trim. She is no role model for fitness or beauty, sadly.

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VHALKYRIE 8/3/2010 10:49AM

    I love Pink too! Unfortunately, I didn't have her meal plan available for this example! The same article of Shape, though, says she has a workout routine of treadmills, group cycling, and Bikram yoga. She eats organic fish, veggies, and tofu.

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KAYOTIC 8/3/2010 10:33AM

    Thanks for the info, thought provoking...I'm 5'4" and my goal range is 130-135, keeps me in a BMI of around 22-24, (I think) and I wear a size 4. It really isn't about the weight, but more, as you say, the composition of the weight. Fat takes up more space than muscle, so more muscle = more weight, but a leaner body.

I actually raised my range after struggling to stay lower (127-132) and not being successful at it. I found when I accepted my reality, that my new range is not all that hard to maintain, and I feel great and look pretty good too!

(and Karen, I agree, Pink is great!)

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ARCHIMEDESII 8/3/2010 9:58AM

    Shakira is another singer, dancer who's petite. Which is interesting because when you see pictures of her, she looks like she should be 5ft7" or taller. She's well proportioned. How does she stay fit ? Belly dancing. She's a big proponent of belly dancing.

Of course, my hero is Christine Hendricks. She has a fabulous "old fashioned" curvy figure reminiscent of Rachel Welch, Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe. Curvy is coming back into vogue because of this actress.

You know who I like better than Lady Gaga ? PINK !! I love Pink ! She's in fabulous physical condition. She was a former gymnast. It shows.

-- karen

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LISSIE88 8/3/2010 9:47AM

    I never knew that about Lady Gaga. Very interesting. I'm 5 foot and shooting for about the same weight as you. If you look at the charts, being 5 foot you should weigh 115 lbs. To me that's just unrealistic. I'm glad to see that weighing on the upper range of "normal" is still being thin.

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