Friday, October 24, 2008
If youíre looking for alternate ways of fixing some of your favorite foods, give this a try. It just might surprise you:
Cooking with cream
Soy, rice, or almond milk; pureed tofu works well too
Cream to thicken soups
Pureed potatoes or vegetables (add water or veggie broth to get your desired thickness)
Citrus juice or flavored vinegar (you can add your own flavor to regular vinegar)
Small amounts of olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable broth
Soy-based or rice-based cheese substitute
Brown rice, bulgur, kasha, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous
Meat or poultry for stir fry
Tofu (extra firm, cubed) or try adding more vegetables
Ground finely chopped vegetables; crumbled tofu, tempeh, or soy crumbles; beans
Flour and grease (or fat or oils) for making gravy
1 teaspoon of corn starch to about 8 ounces of vegetable broth. Also is good to thicken other liquids, like tomato sauce, stews, soups, etc.
The best ideas are not always something you will find in an expensive book. I find that some of the best ideas youíll use will be things you discover on your own, and most of them will be something simple. The more you do, the more great ideas you will have that will make your kitchen experience better - and HEALTHIER!.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
You get home from work feeling tired and frustrated because your boss gave you a last minute special project that will require you to work over the weekend. No sooner than you get your foot in the door, your son races to you asking for a snack before dinner and your daughter is upset because the other girls in school excluded her from a small clique. Your spouse dumps on you about a promotion he was passed over and how the person who got it was the bossís nephew. If all that werenít enough, the dog had an accident and pooped on the living room carpet and everyone else in the house is acting as if it didnít happen, leaving you to clean it up.
Stress can come in many shapes and sizes and it affects us all in different ways. If youíre on a quest to improve your health by losing weight, too much stress can adversely impact your progress. The key to a happy and healthy well-being is coping with stress appropriately. The following five tips are things you can do to at any time and in any place to help you push away the stress and tension youíre feeling.
First, take a deep breath. This is not just some exercise in futility. Breathing deeply in and out can have some very therapeutic effects on the level of tension youíre feeling. Close your eyes and deeply breathe in, holding it for 10 seconds before exhaling. Repeat this three times.
Second, make a list of the top three things that are stressing you out. If itís your husband or wife, write it down. If itís your daughter, write it down. If itís your parents, write them down. Instead of merely writing down the name of the person, write down specifically what it is the person has said or done that has made you feel stressed. This takes focus off the person and places it on the behavior.
Third, go for a treat. Grab a small piece of chocolate or some fresh strawberries. Some people keep jelly beans or other sweet candy at their fingertips for those stressful times. If thatís not possible, try a cup of hot tea. You should find something that you can have to take you away from the moment and indulge in a quick pleasure.
Fourth, take a walk. If possible, find a stairwell and walk up and down a flight or two. Exercise helps to boost your adrenaline, which can help knock that stress right out, or if nothing else the exercise may help ease the stress a bit.
If these tips donít work, create some things of your own. Some people draw while others play the piano. When I was a kid, my mom, a self-made part-time seamstress, made her own clothes. When I saw her with a bunch of new outfits, I new she was having a stressful week. You have to find the outlet that helps you deal with your own stress.
The only thing prolonged levels of stress will do is keep your focus away your life, your family, your job. Get rid of the stress so you can put your attention where it is most needed.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Earlier this year, Oprah went on a 21-day detox diet. Many people do this from time to time to rid the body of harmful toxins. This can be particularly beneficial to those on a weight loss diet. Impurities can build up in the body and focusing on your eating habits and limiting certain foods or certain groups of foods can be good. There are some products on the market that bill themselves as a detox elixir; however, those are unnecessary and whose safety is questionable. You can have a successful detox just by focusing on foods alone. Oprahís detox diet excluded sugar, gluten, alcohol, meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese. But there are many ways to detox the body.
Equally as important for your overall health as well as to charge your weight loss progress is employing strategies to detox your mind. Many people on diets have the wrong mindset. Some people will say, ďIíve tried everything and nothing works.Ē They also may tell you that they cannot lose weight, listing all the different diets they have tried, feeling destined to remain obese forever. Those who think this way are the perfect candidates for a mind detox.
It is their thinking, not the diets they have tried, that is the reason for their lack of success. Their success or failure is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They tell themselves they canít do it, and thatís exactly what happens. If this is you, here are three simple steps to practice that can help you rid your mind of this type of destructive thinking. If practiced regularly and routinely, this can have some very positive effects on your weight loss progress:
First, decide on a detox period. A week is a good time period because it isnít to long, yet itís long enough to be a challenge. Then everyday for the week, look in your mirror and say uplifting things to yourself. Even if you donít believe it deep inside, tell yourself anyway. Say things like, ďI am beautiful; I have the willpower to lose this weight; I will succeed.Ē Say things like this everyday over and over again all throughout the day. Saying these things everyday will help to flush out those negative thoughts.
Second, pay attention to what you are thinking about yourself. If you find that you are thinking any discouraging thought, stop yourself. Donít allow those thoughts to linger in your mind.
Third, and most important, envision yourself at your desired weight. In your mind, see yourself 10, 15, or 30 pounds lighter. If you were ever at your desired weight and have photographs of yourself, post them around your house as a reminder that you were there before. This can help you focus more stringently.
A mind detox can be helpful if employed on a regular basis. Doing this can really help to improve your physical body. Working on one without working on the other can make your progress twice as difficult. So, give it a try. You might be surprised just how much your own wrong thinking can stifle you.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
So now, youíre determined to lose a few pounds and get rid of that mid-section and those love handles. You know you need to make some changes in order to have a healthier life. Just be sure you donít do things that might decrease your likelihood for success - and a key to this is improper goal setting. Here are three things that I think are important things to consider.
First, be sure your timeline is realistic. If youíre overweight, establishing a plan to lose say 35 pounds is excellent; however, if you expect to lose that much weight within the next month Ė safely Ė for your high school reunion, then youíre setting yourself up for a big disappointment. The average healthy man or woman should lose approximately 1 to 3 pounds per week, give or take a pound depending on the individual, their amount of muscle mass, and their metabolism. Losing much more than that could have negative health consequences and may do more harm than good. But more than that, if you set goals too high and you donít meet those goals, that can be very discouraging and ultimately sabotage your progress. That is when many people give up and quit.
Second, your exercise goals can either help or hurt you. Itís noble to want to exercise everyday. But if youíre like many people who are not accustomed to a regular exercise routine, working out everyday may be quite a lot. In addition, you might be a little disappointed if you can only exercise 4 days in stead of everyday. Set doable exercise goals to help ensure you meet them.
Finally, be sure you donít allow other activities to interfere with your fitness and nutrition plans. Itís easy to let family demands get in the way of your exercise, or your hectic work schedule might prevent you from eating a healthy meal. Other times, your three-year old son or daughter having a tantrum might make you feel too stressed to have dinner. While these things are significant and do require your focus, they are no more important than your health goals. You must make a plan and stick to it, remembering to have a back-up plan too.
Make plans to have full meals; however, always keep healthy snacks on hand in the event you canít eat when you want to. Donít think that since you didnít have time to go to the gym today that youíll just get in your exercise tomorrow. Be creative and design a regime that you can do at home. If you belong to a gym, take a few minutes to ask one of the fitness instructors. Many gyms charge for a formal consultation. But youíd be surprised just how far a little kindness and a smile will get you. I have had some very good luck with getting advice from the fitness instructors at my gym just by being pleasant and asking nicely. If that isnít an option for you and you are unable to think of anything on your own, go online. The Internet has information on anything under the sun. A few carefully constructed search queries will give you lots of things. If you donít find what you want (or like) on your first try, revise your search terms by using synonyms of the words you used. If you canít do that, take a look at your cable or satellite programming. There are some channels that feature exercise shows. In addition, if you have some type of On-Demand programming such as what Comcast offers, look for a Fitness channel. Other cable and satellite companies have similar programming too. You could also grab a broom or a mop or a dust rag or the vacuum and clean your house. Activities around cleaning can be great because if can require your use of many different muscle groups Ė upper and lower body workouts.
If all else fails, pop in a CD or put on your iPod and start dancing around the room. The type of exercise you can get at home is only limited by your imagination.
Your health is important. You have to work hard, set realistic goals, and treat them with just as much importance as anything else in your life. Keep at it and in no time at all, youíll be proud of yourself for the progress you have made.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I have been reading a lot about ways to help us live longer. In fact, when I read any newspaper or magazine, my eyes tend to gravitate toward those kinds of stories. Too bad I didnít focus on that when I was a teenager. Then, I mostly read comics, if I even did any leisure reading at all. Now, health and nutrition matters make up the bulk of the things I read.
When I think of the many different things I read, there are some basic things we can do to prolong our lives. There are probably dozens of things I could recommend; however, here are a few of the basic ones that should be easy for everyone to do:
First, get plenty of exercise. The ideal is 3-5 days of rigorous exercise of at least 30 minutes; however, it doesnít need to be so regimented. Even moderate exercise, such as walking or riding your bicycle or taking the stairs rather than the elevator, can have profound effects on your life. Seize any opportunity you have to be more active.
Second, reduce (or preferably, eliminate) meat from your diet. On average, people who maintain a meatless diet tend to live about 20% longer than those who do eat meat. Whether you want to avoid just red meats, all animal products, or anywhere in between, reducing the amount of meat and meat products can have many positive health benefits.
Third, make sure your plate is colorful. The food pyramid is a guide to help encourage people to maintain variety in their diet. Consuming foods from several of the different food groups (mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans) provide an added nutritional bonus. The more variety you have within these parameters, the better off you are. If your plate looks like a rainbow or the color spectrum, youíre good to go.
Fourth, get lots of sleep. There is no magical answer for the amount of sleep that every should get. The optimal amount of sleep needed for the average adult is about 7.5 hours of sleep per night. If you arenít getting that much, join the club. Many people get only about 4.5 hours. But if you want to improve the quality of your life and health, try to get a little more sleep at night.
Finally, keep tabs on your stress. It is impossible to live completely stress-free. But, the important thing is in how you cope with it when it happens to you. How are you channeling your stress? Do you absorb it, or do you allow it to eat you up, leaving a knot in your stomach? If it is the latter, find more productive ways of dealing with your stress. Handled properly, the stress in your life can roll away from you like water off of a duckís back and leave no residual effect.
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