Author Archives: Kris

Breaking the Cycle of Weight Gain and Depression

People are always looking for ways to lose weight. And for some, they will try every pill, gimmick, drink, etc., trying to drop those unwanted pounds. Only to discover after much frustration that nothing they buy or try will work. And as their weight hangs on or even keeps going up depression sets in—or could it possibly be the other way around?

What comes first, weight gain and then depression? Or depression first and then weight gain? Unfortunately, the experts don't know. But one thing they all agree on is that weight problems and depression are both heavy burdens to bear and they often go hand in hand. While some people experience weight loss with depression, weight gain is much more common and can lead to serious health issues.

So the question is, why, are depression and weight issues so closely linked? Well, to put it simply, the part of the brain responsible for emotion also controls the appetite. And when this emotional part of the brain gets disturbed in someone who is depressed, their appetite gets disturbed as well.

EMOTIONS AND APPETITES 
Emotional eating is when you eat not because of physical hunger but rather emotional hunger. When a person eats in response to their emotions, they are trying to soothe themselves by the food as it changes the chemical balance in their brain. Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content may make you feel better, but only temporarily. And because the person associates the “feel good” feeling with the food, they want to eat more which leads to weight gain which in turn makes them feel bad about themselves which then leads to more eating and the vicious cycle has begun. Breaking that cycle can be quite challenging.

Because depression and weight are so closely linked, it is important to tackle both problems in order to get the upper hand on the situation. It’s not so important to figure out which problem came first but rather which one should get the most attention initially. If someone is severely depressed and overweight, the depression should be the primary focus. However if someone is exhibiting an eating disorder such as bulimia, and their eating is out of control, that would become the primary focus.

So assuming the person is depressed, overweight and is looking for help, what do they need to do? It might be surprising but the same tactic to control weight applies if you have depression—Decrease calories and increase physical activity. Now we know that when a person is depressed, they probably find it harder to muster up the energy to just get out of bed in the morning let alone make wise choices on what they are going to eat. However, it is critical to find a way to do both despite the effects the depression is having on them. So below I will offer some tips on weight management that will also help with depression.

BE MORE ACTIVE
Get moving! Most people with depression and weight gain have over time reduced their amount of physical activity. The low energy that comes with depression can be debilitating. But exercise is so key to treating not only the weight but the depression as well. Look at it as something you can do for yourself. And by taking an active role in caring for yourself it makes you feel good which in itself can be therapeutic.

And keep in mind that every bit of physical activity helps. It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and lift weights or run on a treadmill—unless that’s what you like. If you are struggling with low energy start out small. Set a goal to get out of bed in the morning and doing some stretches for a few minutes every day for a week, then add a walk and then other activities that bring you pleasure. By building on these small changes, overtime you will feel more in control, have a more positive outlook, and become more motivated to exercise.

MAKE GOOD CHOICES
Depression and food unfortunately results in unhealthy eating choices. People with low self-esteem often use food as a way to stuff their feelings of inadequacy and depression. So to turn this beast around examine the relationship between your depression symptoms and food. Consider the feelings you have about your weight and be mindful of how and when you use food. Food should be seen and used as a source of nutrition, not as an outlet for depression.

To help you start each day with the intention of eating healthy, I am going to give you a list of affirmations I found in an article by Self-Esteem Experts that I really like. Each day pick an affirmation from the list below or make up your own and repeat it to yourself throughout the day.

  • Today I choose to eat healthily because I love myself.
  • I eat for nutrition, not for boredom.
  • Today I replace sugary food with healthy choices.
  • I forgive myself for overeating. I will make healthier choices today.
  • I eat food that is good for me.
  • I make wise food choices.
  • I nourish myself with water, exercise and healthy food.

FEEL BETTER
Ahhh, that will be the reward!—To feel better. By taking charge of your life a step at a time and addressing the relationship between your weight and depression it will help to create a better body image. And as you decrease your weight by eating healthy you will also find that it will lead to higher self-esteem and a feeling of empowerment and content.

If you would like some help as you journey through this process of making the connection that by feeding your body you are also feeding your mind I encourage you to make an appointment with me at (616) 516-1570 or clicking on the “connect tab.” I look forward to helping you down the path of emotional and physical well-being.

Celebrating Easter with Spring Flavors in a Healthy Way!

IT IS FINALLY SPRING! I do not know how to express to you how happy (and relieved) I am that at long last, the calendar has finally rolled around to this time of year. But you know you've had “Cabin fever” pretty bad when you feel like hugging all the robins that come flying into your yard like long lost friends. Okay, it was bad, but maybe not that bad!

Anyway, with Spring now here the official first holiday that will kick off the season will be Easter. And in fact it is only a couple of weeks of way, (STAY AWAY FROM THE PEEPS!) It’s a time where the temperatures start to warm up and we start switching out the winter wardrobe for more appropriate “Spring” type apparel. However, it’s not just the wardrobe we think about switching out—but also our menus we’ve been relying on to get us through the winter. Somehow that big pot of chili that sounded so good in November does not entice me at all come April. Ugh! I’m so over that! How about you?

So in honor of the first holiday of the season I am going to take a little break from my normal type of blog and I am going to share some recipes that I think sound good for Easter dinner. After all, holidays are for celebrating and I plan on doing just that. However, anyone who regularly reads my blogs knows that I don’t think it wise to throw all self control out the window and overindulge either.

Now, in my household Easter dinner wouldn’t be Easter if it didn’t involve a ham so I will share my favorite recipe that I found somewhere on the internet years ago that I like to use. Also, I will share a tasty and healthier version of Deviled eggs to help you use up those extra colored Easter eggs you might have left over from breakfast.

AWESOME BAKED HAM
Ingredients

  • 15 lbs whole bone-in ham
  • 1 lb brown sugar (approx. 2 1/4 cp)
  • 1/2 cp yellow mustard
  • aluminum foil

Directions

  1. In a medium size bowl mix yellow mustard and brown sugar until it is a thick paste.
  2. Take all wrappers off of ham and trim away excess fat.
  3. Line baking pan with Aluminum foil for easier cleanup.
  4. Connect 3 large pieces of foil together securely along the long edge of each piece to make one very large sheet.
  5. Place ham on large sheet of foil and spread brown sugar/mustard paste on top. (Yes, it will seem like a lot of mixture.)
  6. Bring sides of foil up around ham and fold edges down and seal securely.
  7. Place ham in baking pan.
  8. Bake at 350° for 4 hours.
  9. Let ham set for about 1 hr. then carve. (DO NOT OPEN FOIL UNTIL AFTER 1 HR.)
  10. Enjoy one of the best tasting hams you have ever had.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS
Ingredients

  • 1 bunch thin asparagus spears, washed and trimmed.
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil. (or less according to diet)
  • sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Place asparagus on baking sheet with sides
  3. Drizzle olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake 15 min. or until tender.

* This is a basic recipe. However, you can play around with it and add other seasonings such as pepper, garlic, Parmesan cheese, etc. I only use olive oil and salt because that’s the way my family likes it and we bake it longer also because we like the heads of the asparagus to be crispy.

DEVILED AVOCADO EGGS
Ingredients

  • 6 hard boiled eggs (peeled)
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tsp. fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. minced red onion
  • 3 tsp. lime juice
  • pinch of salt/pepper
  • paprika

Directions

  1. Halve the eggs length-wise, remove the yolks and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mash the avocado and 3 whole egg yolks with a fork until desired consistency.
  3. Mix in lime juice, red onion, cilantro, salt and pepper according to taste and mix well.
  4. Spoon or pipe the mixture into the egg white halves.
  5. Sprinkle with dash of paprika for color.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*This also is a basic recipe so if you like to spice it up go ahead. Try adding some garlic, cumin, or even jalapeño.

SPRING STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD WITH POPPY SEED DRESSING
Ingredients for salad

  • 1 bunch of spinach, rinsed, drained, chopped
  • 10 large strawberries, sliced
  • toasted pecans
  • red onion, slivered (amount depends on taste)
    Dressing (You will not use all of the dressing, remainder lasts 2 weeks in fridge)
  • 1/2 cp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 cp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Directions
In a large bowl, mix salad ingredients. For the dressing: In a blender, place all dressing ingredients except the poppy seeds and blend until smooth and thick. Stir in the poppy seeds. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad.

*Just a friendly reminder to go easy on the dressing or it will quickly turn into a not so healthy salad.

And now, I am going to share a dessert that I have had for years that I believe was originally shared by somebody in Weight Watchers and is usually a big hit whenever I make it. I hope you will enjoy it too.

BANANA SPLIT CAKE
Ingredients

  • 16 graham cracker squares, finely crushed
  • 1 large (6-oz) pkg. sugar-free vanilla flavored instant pudding mix
  • 2 3/4 cps. milk
  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • 1 (8-oz) carton “lite” whipped frozen topping, thawed
  • 2 cps. sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 (8-oz) cans crushed pineapple
  • 4 oz. flaked coconut

Directions

  1. Spread cracker crumbs evenly in a 13 x 9 inch pan.
  2. In medium bowl, mix pudding with milk approx. 2 min.
  3. Pour mixed pudding over crumbs.
  4. Layer sliced bananas over pudding.
  5. Cover with whipped topping.
  6. Add layer of strawberries, then pineapple. Sprinkle with coconut.
  7. Refrigerate until serving time. (Tastes better when allowed to chill at least a couple of hours.)

Well, there you have it — An Easter dinner full of “Spring” flavor. And while it’s not all totally low-cal, there is an abundance of nutritious and healthy food for the choosing. By keeping in mind portion control and being wise with your other meals throughout the day you will be just fine enjoying these dishes. And, even more so if you incorporate a nice brisk walk into the days activities. So with that being said, I wish you a “Happy Spring and a Happy Easter!”

ON YOUR WAY TO HAPPY AND HEALTHY!

 

There’s a well known drugstore whose advising slogan is that you can find their stores at the corner of “happy and healthy.” I know it is implying that they have what it takes to help you to be just that—happy and healthy. I get it — it’s a catchy slogan. The store fills much needed prescriptions, vitamins and other health related aids. And I even frequent their stores quite often. However, we all know that we need more than the corner drugstore to make us truly happy and healthy.

I know, I know, it might seem like I’m making too much out of it but just bear with me a minute. I want to ask you a question. Who or what really has what it takes to accomplish what the drugstore is advertising? What’s your guess?

I’ll tell you where I found the answer just in case you are wondering on where to look. In fact it’s super easy for anyone to find the answer. All I had to do and what everyone else needs to do is look in a mirror. Yep! That’s all there is to it. It’s me, it’s you. Okay, I hope I didn’t just pop someones bubble right there but it’s true!

Now let’s go back to the drugstore for a minute. I’m glad we have them because they are much needed. But let me point out something to you. To get a prescription, bandaids, cold medicine, vitamins or what ever else might be needed from there, you have to go to the store to either pick up a prescription or buy what you need right? Now if you wander around in the store a little it won’t take you very long before you come across some items that might be on the temporary “happy” list but are definitely not on the “heathy list”

And don’t even get me started on the after holiday candy sales! Ugh! I say, “Will power don’t desert me now!” It really should be against the law to sell chocolate at 50 or 75% off. Isn’t it ironic we can go into a store, buy a weight reducing product and then get tripped up on the way out by those “great” deals we just can’t pass up. Go figure!

But getting back to the point. Sure the drugstore is filled with good and healthy items for us to use and that’s great. But you can also pick up not so healthy items. So you see in the end the responsibility lies with us.

Now! Even though I pointed out that the ball falls in our lap, it doesn’t mean that we can’t use some help along the way. Nor did I say that it’s a cakewalk either. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have use the word “cake” in my statement. Sorry about that!

Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice. It’s not a “one and done” kind of choice either. It’s an ongoing commitment we have to make to ourselves and for ourselves. A commitment that involves maintaining healthy eating habits and engaging in regular exercise. So let’s break those two commitments down into practical daily living.

HEALTHY EATING

  • I think we tend to forget a very simple fact. And that is that food is fuel for the body. I’ve said this before but it’s good to repeat it. “We don’t put junk fuel into our vehicles so why do we put junk fuel into our bodies and then expect our bodies to run efficiently?” Not going to happen!
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products. These foods contain the most vitamins and minerals that will provide you with quality energy for the least amount of calories.
  • Limit processed and prepared food such as take-out, fast food and convenience foods which usually contain high amounts of calories, sodium, added sugars and fat. Ironically these types of food contribute to health related problems which could eventually require a trip to the drugstore I mentioned earlier to fill a prescription.
  • Learn and practice eating what the appropriate portion size is for the various foods you eat. In the long run it’s not always the best deal at a restaurant when they give you enormous portions for the price paid. It might be cheap food but it is an expensive price to pay if it leads to bad health.
  • Make note of when and why you eat. Are you truly hungry? Do you eat when you are bored or stressed? Or perhaps you are happy or sad? Practice mindful eating which is paying attention to your hunger cues and your level of fullness.

ACTIVE LIVING

Contrary to some peoples opinion, the word “exercise” is not a dirty word. Rather it is a “healthy” word. Physical activity is an important factor in healthy living. I’m not saying you have to run a 5k but most everyone can walk around the block. Whether it be by aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening (very important to the over age 40 crowd) or any other activity that gets your body moving regularly, staying active helps with the following:

  • Weight control
  • Minimizes stress level
  • Maximizes energy level
  • Improves sleep
  • Enhances mood
  • Reduces risk for chronic disease
  • Strengthens bones and muscles to prevent injury

So if you desire to lead a happier, healthier life, making the necessary choices are up to you. If you can wake up every morning and incorporate eating healthy and staying active into your daily routine it won’t be long before it becomes a good habit. And then, you will realize that you've arrived at the corner of happy and healthy.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – BEAT THE STATISTIC’S!

 

 

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone! Yeah, I know, I’m rather late. I’m going to blame it on a very busy last couple of months for me, okay? Come to think of it though, the time from mid November through the first part of January always seems to fly by in a blink of an eye for me every year. So I guess this past year was no different. It’s probably the same with everyone else too. During that time of the year there is always so much to do and I might as well add right here, so much to eat. And then, all of a sudden, your spinning world comes to a halt and you find yourself in January standing in front of your closet looking for your “after holiday” clothes.

Ugh! So you stand there and berate yourself because you realize that, “Once again” you didn’t take care of yourself (health-wise) like you promised yourself you would do. Or maybe it’s the bathing suits that are now hanging in the stores that has abruptly brought it to your attention. That’s where the New Year’s resolutions come into play — not that that’s a bad thing. But if they are made more so of a knee jerk reaction because of a momentary sense of regret then you will probably find yourself in the percentage of people that don’t stick to them throughout the year. I know I’ve talked about this before but it bears going over again.

Even if those resolutions are made with good intentions, let’s be honest. Research shows that it doesn’t take long before they are gone by the wayside. Let me share with you a couple of statistics from the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

  • According to research done in 2016, the number one resolution made in the new year was………you guessed it, to lose weight and or to eat more healthy.
  • 72.6% maintained the resolutions through the first week. By 6 months that percentage had gone down to 44.8%.
  • People over the age of 50 were less likely to achieve their goals than people in their twenties.
  • Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution.

Now the reason I show you these statistics is in no way to give you an excuse for NOT making a health related goal for the new year. Rather it is to acknowledge that it’s obviously not easy or else the percentages would be higher. Right? And also to encourage you that if you did make a resolution to lose weight to push through so you can be counted amongst those that do make it! Those people are out there and you can be one too!

So what do we take away from this? Yes, people make resolutions and sometimes are not successful. Okay! So what? I’m going to say that at least for a little while they had a goal. They tried! Maybe this year will be the year that they stick with it. Maybe you will be one of those in the 9.2%. One thing is for sure though, you 100% of the time won’t reach your goal if you never make one in the first place. So let’s give the people in this research props for at least attempting to complete their goal.

And besides, you know what these statistics really show don’t you? It shows that a large percentage of people gave up and quit. That’s what we DON’T want to do! Think about all the achievements you have in your life. Aren’t you the most proud of the ones that took some struggle to bring about the results that you wanted?

Really, to be successful at this “getting healthier” thing, you have to retrain your brain into a new
way of thinking — to create and carry out good habits. And let’s face it, just like an unruly kid, your mind doesn’t always want to mind either. When we feel like we might be deprived of something, sometimes we turn into that little kid at the grocery checkout throwing a fit because he can’t have what he or she wants! You know what I mean?

We also live in a microwave society where we expect everything to happen fast in mere minutes. But there’s nothing fast about weight loss. You’ve heard the old saying, “A pot watched never boils.” Theoretically, we know it’s going to boil, but when you stand over the pot and wait, it seems like it takes forever. So don’t get discouraged and give up when you don’t see immediate results. Resist the tendency to slip back into your old habits. Stay the course!

And just a note on slipping back into old habits. From one of the statistics above we see that it’s even harder to lose weight the older you get. Maybe it's because it’s just easier to follow your old habits having  done them for so long you don’t have to think about it. But I also know for us women in the pre/menopausal years it can be quite challenging to lose weight. Our bodies do not respond in our 50’s like they did when we were in our 20’s. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.You just might have to go about it in a different and more determined way.

So, let’s wrap this up. We are now in the latter part of January. And even if you made some resolutions and you haven’t followed through with them, it doesn’t matter. You can start over. In fact, today is a good day to start, don’t you think? Start out by making a daily goal, then a weekly goal, a monthly goal and so on. Don’t let the time frame of a whole year intimidate you. And if and when you blow it, don’t let it be an excuse to totally give up. Forgive yourself, square your shoulders and get right back on the path that you need to be on to reach your goal. Do it for yourself, you're worth it!

 

Holidays, Menopause – No Need for Weight Gain!

holiday-food

Well, here we go. I can’t deny it any longer. Time obviously did not get my memo to slow down. Thanksgiving is really knocking on my door now and I guess I am going to have to answer it and quick!

Now once I open that door I know what’s going to be on the other side. Temptation! That’s what! Do you know what I mean? It’s really the start of a two month long food fest known as the “holiday season” Literally! Whether it is well meaning neighbors sharing their goodies or office parties, family gatherings, you name it. But I am determined to remain strong and still enjoy the holidays! Who’s with me? — Hey! Where did everybody go?

COME ON! We can do this! This advice can be for anyone, but today I’m going to focus on us women who have entered the middle age era of our lives known as menopause. Yep! Those of us who have gone through it or are going through it. Gone are the days of nibbling on that yearly tradition of eating the 5 lb. tub of Grandma’s homemade chocolate fudge that she keeps making for you (bless her heart) without some lasting consequences.

Something happens to our metabolism as we approach that time of our lives. It mostly sneaks up on us gradually until one day we look into the mirror and we think, “Well, how in the world did that happen?” It can be quite frustrating because you know you haven’t changed the way you eat and yet either the pounds kind of crept up on you slowly or the pounds you have always carried somehow have shifted to other parts of your body where they are not supposed to be.

I have heard from women who say they had never had a weight problem until they turned 40. And the weight just doesn't want to come off like it used to. It can be depressing, or cause anxiety, anger, and even lead some into falling into an attitude of “why bother?” and give up entirely. So today I am going to give us all a pep talk (myself included) and say, “Don’t fall into those kind of temptations (attitudes) either.”

Besides, there is way more to enjoy about the holidays than what we eat or can’t eat! You know, it’s crazy if you really think about it. But for some reason it can be hard not to indulge in everything laid out before us. But, if we really put it into perspective there’s nothing on the table that can’t be made any other time of year. We don’t have to gorge on all of it right now. Sometimes I find that’s when I have a talk with myself and say, “What do I want more, that piece of whatever, or do I want to feel good about myself later on?” This year, it’s going to be that I want to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from me making smart choices. Choices that benefit me in the long run.

We are not getting any younger. And sometimes you just have to make a stand and say, “today is the day, I am going to take charge!" So if that’s you, I’ll list a couple of tips to help you through the next couple of months.

LIMIT THE ALCOHOL AND SUGARY DRINKS
It’s inevitable. Where there’s a party, there is usually going to be alcohol, sugary punch or soda. And people usually drink more alcohol during the holidays than other times of the year. Those calories really add up fast. Something else to keep in mind is that alcohol actually reduces the amount of fat your body burns. So don’t drink your calories.

LIMIT THE APPETIZERS
A lot of times these little bits might taste great but can add up to 1000 calories before you know it and you haven’t even sat down for the meal yet. Look for a low calorie appetizer that will take the edge off your appetite so you eat less of the rich food offered.

PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. Pause to enjoy and really taste the food you are eating. Don’t get so caught up in the festivities that you are just mindlessly eating what is on your plate and before you know it, you look down and it’s all gone and you didn’t listen to your body telling you that you might have had too much.

BE CHOOSY
Go ahead and enjoy your holiday favorite but be choosy with the rest of the meal. Look for a tradeoff, if it’s a high-calorie side dish you really want then go easy on the dessert or vice-versa. Make your portions smaller and don’t load your plate with all the “sinful” pleasures.

SNEAK IN SOME EXCERCISE
Yes, it is possible! I don’t know about you but it seems like I am always going to the store for something. Park your car farther away from the door. Bundle up and go for a brisk walk even if it is for 15-20 minutes before a meal. It will rev up your metabolism. Watching a movie? Don’t sit the whole time, do some sit-ups or push-ups, lunges, or squats for 20 minutes. And the best way of all? Play with your grandkids. They have a way of helping you to burn energy you didn’t know you had in the first place!

In closing, I would like to say that maybe us women might face some challenges, such as hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain, loss of bone and muscle mass during this time, but you know what? People of all ages face some sort of challenge throughout life so let’s not make that an excuse not to do something about it.

As long as we are still up and kicking we can make a decision to educate ourselves and take the bull by the horn and tackle it. AND be successful! So when you open that door on Thanksgiving Day, focus on your family and friends coming through the door. Be thankful for the good things in your life. Even be grateful for the time of life you find yourself in. It has it benefits too! So, have that piece of Pumpkin Pie (with whipped cream even). Sit around and take a moment to relax, laugh, revisit memories with loved ones. Whatever you do, ENJOY the moment! Thanksgiving Day only comes around once a year! And one more thing, don’t forget to send the leftovers home with someone younger!

Eat Hearty but Healthy This Fall

pumpkinmuffin1

Happy Fall Y’all! I can’t believe it's that time of year already, but alas, here it is. Now that we are pretty deep into the fall season, we find ourselves spending more time inside the house don't we? And when the time changes next month and we lose that precious hour of fading daylight it will be even more so.

Our daily habits are a lot of times related to the time of year it is and especially can be dictated by the weather outside. So as it gets colder and darkness comes earlier we find our evening routines changing dramatically. One thing that seems to change big time is the way we eat and even prepare dinner. I think you would agree with me that throwing some chicken on the grill for dinner sounds a lot more appealing when it’s 76 degrees and sunny than when it is 45 degrees and dark outside — and it’s only 6:00p.m.

So while there are brave souls out there who do not mind shivering around the grill waiting for the meat to get done, the majority of us tend to start turning to the oven or crockpot for dinner. And when the temperature drops we tend to turn to what we call comfort foods — foods that make us feel warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this usually means high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods like casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, stews, mac and cheese, etc. And unlike a hot summer day, we don’t give it a second thought to put the oven on to bake something sweet and you know what that means. Tempting cookies, cakes, brownies, and other warm desserts.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some of these dishes from time to time, but if you can take a recipe and make it healthier I say, “Why not?” Taste of Home’s used to have a magazine called, “Light and Tasty” from which I found some recipes that have become favorites. So, in honor of the season that we now find ourselves in, I would like to share with you a couple of those “healthier” recipes that my family really enjoys. I hope you enjoy them too!

Chicken with Jalapeño Sauce - 4 servings (Sauce is very mild)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups hot cooked rice

Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken in oil on both sides.
Add the onions, broth, jalapeños and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Remove chicken and keep warm.
Stir cream cheese and sour cream into onion mixture until blended. Stir in tomatoes; heat through.
Serve with chicken and rice.

Tomato Corn Toss - 3 - 3/4 cup servings
1 medium tomato, diced
1 - 2 banana peppers, seeded and chopped (banana peppers are not hot)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 tablespoon butter

In a 1-quart microwave-safe dish, combine the tomato, peppers, water and seasoning. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute: stir. Cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in corn and butter. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through and butter is melted.

Makeover White Texas Sheet Cake - 20 servings
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
FROSTING
1/3 cup reduced-fat butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat; stir in the flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, applesauce, salt, baking powder, extract and baking soda until smooth.
Pour into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
FOR FROSTING, in a small mixing bowl, beat butter ad extract until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Add milk; beat until smooth. Spread over warm cake; sprinkle with walnuts. Cool completely. (Tastes even better the next day.)

Now it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a recipe that had pumpkin in it. Why? Because it seems like EVERYTHING right now is all about the pumpkin right? Fall = Pumpkin I do believe. So here’s a recipe that I am sure you will love.

Low-fat Pumpkin Muffins - makes 12 - 18 muffins
1 box Spice cake mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I like to add extra cinnamon)
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)

Combine dry cake mix with rest of ingredients. Mix with beaters for approximately 2 min. Batter will be really thick. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups. Scoop muffin mix into cups. Muffin cups will be almost full but they won’t overflow.
Bake at 350° for 15 - 18 min.

Well, if you try these recipes you will see (and taste) that healthier cooking can taste good too! If you have some favorite dishes that you like to make when the weather turns colder, take a look at them. Use your imagination and experiment to find ways to create a healthier version such as:

  • Reducing the amount of fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Eliminate or cut back on some of the not so healthy ingredients.
  • Find a healthy substitution.

So here’s to a happy and healthy fall season to you. Bundle up and take a walk outside amidst the beautiful fall colors. Eat some hearty but healthier foods.Your family won’t notice the difference but your health sure will!

 

Healthy Fats Have Calories Too!

 

healthy-fats-600x450Fat. Now there’s a word that can have a multitude of meanings. And, I’m probably not being grammatically correct in using it as a one word sentence but since I’m just blogging and not publishing a book I’m going with it okay? Now, the kind of fat I’m talking about today is dietary fat.

In ages past, I imagine the hardest part of anyones diet was knowing that if you wanted to eat you had to go out and actually catch it or grow your own food. And then trying to find a way to preserve what you had so it wouldn't go to waste. These days even though we have food conveniently surrounding us even down at the corner gas station (and I use the term food lightly here) I think the hardest part of eating today is knowing what to eat. It seems like one day something is okay and then the next day it’s not.

I have this picture in my head of a wheel like the one they use on the game show, “Wheel of Fortune.” Instead of money and prizes to be had when they spin the wheel this wheel has various foods, methods, diet plans, latest fads, etc. Every once and awhile the diet and nutrition industry spins it and wherever it lands, that becomes the latest and greatest new product, health advice or method that every magazine, social media, morning talk shows and food manufacturers tout until it has run its course and then the wheel gets another spin to start it all over again.

Over the years dietary fats have been added to that wheel. Those of you who are old enough will remember your grandmothers using lard, saved bacon grease, and butter. It’s what they had and I don’t think they gave it a second thought if it was “healthy” or not to use it. Then the powers that be determined that those products were a no-no and came up with the inventions of products like oleo (margarine), Crisco, Spry and numerous oils through unnatural means.

Well, lo and behold somebody has spun the wheel again and now we are starting to see a swing back to some of the old fats that our ancestors used as being more healthy. Go figure! Honestly, it makes my head hurt! On a side note, I did run across an interesting fact about how Crisco came about. Supposedly, it’s because the Procter's (Procter & Gamble) were looking for an easy way to store soap fat. YUP! And now people cook with it.

One might think that all of our weight problems could be solved if we just eliminated fat from our diet right? Wrong! It’s really not that simple. In all reality, we actually need fats, (to which we all sigh a happy sigh of relief). In fact, we can’t live without them because they are an important part of a heathy diet. Fat is a nutrient that our bodies need in order to function. If you were to restrict fat too much you could encounter serious health consequences and even mental health deficits like depression and vitamin deficiencies could occur. But that doesn’t mean you should make it one of your main food groups either.

You’ve heard it said that all calories are not created equal right? We know that 1500 calories of wholesome food will affect our bodies differently than 1500 calories of processed and junk food. This is true on a large scale. But gram for gram, carbohydrates, fats, and protein all have different caloric values.

Carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram which means that 100 grams of protein, carbohydrates, or a combination of the two will equal 400 calories. But fat has 9 calories per gram which is more than double the carb or protein measurements!

EXAMPLES:

A 1-ounce serving of walnuts which is about 1/4 cup contains 185 calories and 18.5 grams of fat.
A medium avocado has 232 calories and 20.5 grams of fat.
One tablespoon of olive or coconut oil has roughly 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.
One tablespoon of butter has 102 calories and 11.5 grams of fat.
Two tablespoons of almond or peanut butter has 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.

A tablespoon here, a tablespoon there, a handful of nuts (or two), etc., you can see how you might be eating a high fat diet and not even know it. And even if your portions are small, chances are by the end of the day you could be eating more calories than you think.

Finding the balance — Oh, how that little statement applies to so many areas of life. And so it seems we can also apply it to dietary fats too. So, what do we know? We know there are several types of fats — some good (healthy) and some bad (unhealthy). We also know that we should try to eat mostly the good and try to stay away from the bad. One thing they have in common however is that they both contain calories. Just remember that your fat consumption should be proportional to your weight. If you are trying to change your body or become healthier, it should be proportional to your goals. You will want to look at how many calories you need to consume daily to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight (yes, there are those people out there) to reach those goals.

So in wrapping up this blog, I want to say that I can’t tell you which fats to use or not use. You will have to do your own research on that. But the message I really wanted to get across is that no matter what kind of fat you do use, just be conscious of the calories they contain. It’s so easy to think just because something is healthy and good for us that it doesn’t matter how much of it we eat — But it does! Calories matter as far as weight goes. Or should I say as far as weight comes and goes?

EVERYTHING we put in our mouth has a calorie. And sometimes those calories sneak into our diet without us even thinking about them. They say that knowledge is power so knowing where our calories are coming from puts us in the drivers seat of being in control of our diet which is a good thing!

If you struggle with eating a healthy diet and feel like you just don’t know where to start, I would love to help you get on the right track. There is no better time than right now to get started! Please call me at (616) 516-1570 to schedule an appointment or click on the blue “Contact” tab on the upper right portion of the page and “Let’s Talk!”

Is Menopausal Weight Gain a Trick?

life tricks 2

 

I have come to the conclusion that life likes to play little “tricks” on us. How so you ask? Well, it starts out when we are little. We want something such as candy, ice cream, etc., when we are young and our parents say, “No, it’s not good for you!” Now, our little minds really can’t understand that and so we say to ourselves, “When I grow up I am going to buy all the candy I want” or “When I grow up nobody is going to tell me how much ice cream I can eat.” Do any of those statements sound familiar?

Then we get a little older and one day we’re given some money from Grandma or some chore done around the house and when somebody finally takes us to the store we sadly find out that we don’t have quite enough money to purchase all the candy we want. However, in all of our 7 year old wisdom we know that when we grow up and get a job, THEN we’ll have enough money to get that candy.

Well, you know how that works out. By the time we get that job in our teens we aren’t thinking about the candy anymore. We have moved on to important things like clothes and movies. (wink-wink). And so goes the “wants” and “means” as they evolve over time going through many phases.

So I was just thinking one day on how as kids we want something and an adult tells us we can’t or shouldn’t have it and we have no choice but to accept it either willingly or kicking and screaming at the check out . And then fast forward to the day when we find ourselves being the adult and having to tell ourselves, “No, you can’t have that, it’s not good for you” even though we have the freedom and the means to buy it for ourselves. This being one of the many little tricks that I was talking about.

Wow! I said all of that to say this. I am now considered a “mid lifer.” That is someone of middle age for those of you that don’t know (yet) but hold on you will eventually. And with that middle age comes something called menopause for us women.

Now when we are let’s say in our mid to late 30’s we might be thinking, “Come on menopause!” It’s time to move on from “certain issues” in our lives and we think menopause will solve some of those. But au contraire, anyone who has truly reached menopause knows that in fact your so called “certain issues” have just been traded for “other issues.” Hence this being another little (or big) trick depending on what’s going on and how your body has reacted to the “change of life.”

But for the sake of this blog I’m just going to talk about one of the new issues that seems to pop up, (or should I say pop out) and that is weight gain. Even though we know we haven't changed our eating habits we wonder in frustration what in the world is going on when we try to fasten our favorite jeans.

Menopausal weight gain has been reported to be one of the most frustrating symptoms of menopause. Have you noticed a change in the size and shape around your abdomen? Maybe a bulge above your waistband that you didn’t have before? Some people refer to it as the “Middle age spread.” This is usually caused by a change in your hormones.

Even if you have never had a weight problem in the past, you might find it harder now to manage your weight when you find yourself approaching menopause. Many women gain around 10-15 pounds during the perimenopause to the actual menopause period at a rate of around 1 pound per year on average. And you will probably notice that your weight is not distributing itself the same as it used to be. And while some women might not see an actual weight difference on the scales the proportion of body fat has increased. Can we all just say, Yippee, Yippee Yay?

Now remember when I said that the weight gain could be attributed to hormones? Well, that is just partially true. Our hormones do play an integral part in influencing menopause and weight gain in relation to our appetite, metabolism and fat storage. However, there are other factors as well.

Age and lifestyle are the main culprits. Aging is associated with slowing of the metabolism. In fact most women experience a 5% decrease in metabolic rate per decade. And because metabolism slows as women approach menopause, they need about 200 fewer calories a day to maintain their weight as they enter their mid to late 40’s. Our lean body mass also decreases with age while body fat accumulates throughout adulthood. Another Yippee Yay right there right? Also, women generally become less physically active as they go through their 40’s and the years beyond. So it’s really not hard to see that because we are less active our weight and fat mass increases and with decreased activity our muscle mass decreases.

So, what are us “mid lifers” to do? Do we have to accept that it is inevitable we are going to gain weight? Not necessarily. Although there’s no magic formula to avoid weight gain as we age, the strategies below can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight:

  • Be proactive. Get ahead of the game. Knowing that weight gain is in the cards don’t wait for the weight to add up before switching to a healthier lifestyle. One interesting fact is that menopausal women who manage to retain their “youthful figure” are usually those who have always been active and continue to do so. They might notice a change in the distribution of their weight but overall they look trim, fit and healthy.
  • Increase your physical activity. Find an activity that you enjoy (think aerobic) such as jogging, dancing, cycling or good old fashion walking, and do it on a regular basis for at least 45 to 60 minutes four to five days a week thus boosting your metabolism which aids in burning fat.
  • Do strength training. Exercises such as weight lifting can boost your metabolism as well as increase muscle mass and strengthen bones. Use resistance bands or use your own body as resistance and do push-ups, squats, or lunges. Even heavy gardening such as digging or hoeing weeds can be classified as strength training. Building muscle mass is also more likely to protect against future weight gain.
  • Watch your diet. You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Take a good look at your diet and see what you can do to improve it. I’m sure you can find some refined carbohydrates hiding in there somewhere that can be cut out. It doesn’t hurt to look at portion sizes either, remember, women need about 200 fewer calories a day just to maintain their weight as they enter their mid to late 40’s. But don’t forget to keep up with the daily calcium requirements if you are simultaneously trying to lose weight though as women are at an increased risk of bone density loss at this age.

Whew! that was a lot of information. Hopefully you are not dealing with menopausal brain fog and you got all of that. Okay, a little humor there! Well, that’s it. I guess we have more control over weight gain than we would like to admit. We can’t just blame it on menopause. We have some responsibility too.

So if you are nearing or in the “change of life” time frame and would like some coaching to help you put these strategies into motion to ward off menopausal weight gain, please call me at (616) 516-1570 and together let’s just see if we can’t play some tricks of our own on menopause.

Get Moving on Diet and Exercise!

 

get movingPeople, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the squirrels are having fun playing, “Tag - You’re It!”  (At least I think that is what they are doing.) So why then are you inside sitting on the couch? Watching T.V? Come on — our spring and summer season is so short for us Michiganians you need to seize the season and take full advantage of it.

I know, it’s easy to get in a rut though isn’t it? You work all day, come home and just want to veg on the couch. But if you find that you are sedentary for most of the day and you know you should be exercising I am here to encourage you to get up and out and get moving. That’s right, get moving! If you are someone who hates to exercise, now, is the perfect time to at least be more active. Try to change it up and enjoy new outdoor activities. There is SO much to do out there. Besides, if you work inside all day wouldn’t it be more fun to go for a walk outside than back inside on a treadmill?

Think about where Michigan is located. You know, Michigan is surrounded by the five Great Lakes and for us who live in West Michigan we are only minutes away from the beautiful Lake Michigan shore. If you don’t like to swim, go for a walk along the waters edge. Or, go to the park and play Frisbee Golf or take up gardening. Just find something you enjoy outside and then—well, enjoy it!

Remember, changing your exercise routine is good for your body and increases the calories you burn. Because your body and muscles are working harder it challenges your muscles and increases your metabolism.

Now with that being said, I must bring to your attention though that if you are looking to lose weight you can’t do it with exercise alone. You still have to be mindful of what you eat. There’s a reason that the phrase “diet and exercise” seem to always go together. While many people might try to do one without the other it is just simple math that if you are not burning off more than what you consume you will not lose weight. And that is especially true if you need to lose more than just a pound or two. You might be best friends with your treadmill but if you eat more calories than you walk off, basically what you end up doing is just taking your extra pounds you carry for a daily walk.

Now don’t get me wrong. Exercising does help you increase the calories your body is burning, but, It’s often not nearly enough compared to the calories you’re consuming. So if you are willing to cut back on food and exercise you will see a much better result faster. And just to be clear, I’m not necessarily saying to eat less food but to be mindful of what kind of food you are consuming. However, if you know that you do overeat then it’s a given that you need to eat less.

Studies looking at different weight loss methods such as diet-only, exercise-only, and a combination of both have concluded that programs based on physical activity alone are less effective than combined BWMPs (behavioral weight management programs) in both the short and long term.

Maybe there are behaviors that you have regarding eating that you don’t even realize you have. For some, it started in childhood whether it was being told to always finish your plate even if you were full or were punished or rewarded by food. For others, food has become a way of dealing with stress or a way of comforting themselves in bad times.

If you can accept that your habits or behaviors have contributed to your weight gain, then you can realize that it is more than just a matter of reducing calories to lose weight. To make a permanent change you must change those behaviors that caused the problem in the first place.

That is where Behavior Modification Therapy which has been shown to be very successful can be helpful to reduce or eliminate behaviors and habits that are destructive, unhealthy, or undesirable and learning more appropriate behaviors. Just because there is a saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” doesn’t mean that it is true. And just because you might have learned a defective approach to diet and exercise somewhere along the way does not mean that you can’t unlearn those behaviors and replace them with a new and healthy way of thinking.

So, enjoy your summer and all of your new outdoor activities. And if you decide to be more active by traveling our beautiful state and hiking, walking, swimming or whatever, just be mindful of the goodies you might find along the way. You know, like Coney dogs, ice cream at Captain Sundae’s, Mackinac Island fudge (no, I did not just say that. Okay, just a little piece!) Who knows, by the time the cold and snowy weather comes back around you just might be in better shape to go cross county skiing or tobogganing with the kids… OKAY! Maybe I shouldn’t have brought that up now? Summer people, yes, let’s focus on summer!

Weight management involves adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a knowledge of nutrition and exercise, a positive attitude and the right kind of motivation. If you would like to explore the idea of Behavior Modification Therapy and how it could help you with your eating and exercise habits please give me a call at (616) 516-1570 or click on the “Contact” tab at the upper righthand corner of your screen. I look forward to meeting with you!

Eating Healthy for Life

 

family-eating-together

This might have been out there for a while but I just recently saw for the first time a meme on Facebook that said, “ Apparently you have to eat healthy more than once to get in shape. This is cruel and unfair.” I laughed because I thought it was funny and got what they were meaning but is it true? Well, it probably depends on your concept of eating healthy, getting in shape, cruel and unfair treatment. I will try to break this to you as gently as I can okay? YES, it’s true! Well,… at least partly. You WILL have to eat right (healthy) more than once and sometimes it will SEEM cruel and unfair to get in shape. There, I said it!

I think the cruel and unfair feelings come into play when we think about the people we may know that seem to never struggle with weight no matter what they eat. You know, THOSE people! Where do they come from and how did they get to be so lucky? I do not know the answer to that. But they are out there and we hate them don’t we? No, not really, I’m just being a little facetious right now. Just to put things into perspective, EVERYBODY at some time or another will have their own issues to deal with. So if your struggle is weight, rest assured THOSE people are wrestling with their own problems. Nobody gets through life without struggles of some kind. So keep that in perspective okay?

They say we are what we eat. Oh boy! For some of us that is quite scary. But really, if you really think about it, if we continue to eat unhealthy and neglect our bodies by getting and staying out of shape, couldn’t you classify that as being cruel and unfair — to yourself? Ouch! That should make you get up off the couch put the Snickers down, huh?

Now, back to the issue of eating healthy more than once. Yes, most of us are not so blessed to have the metabolism to eat whatever we want and instead have to choose wisely what we eat on a consistent basis to get AND stay in shape. And yes, sometimes it can seem hard but being out of shape can be hard also don’t you think? The choice is yours to make — you determine which way you want it. Either become disciplined with healthy choices right now and start to enjoy the benefits of being in shape or enjoy every morsel of food that comes across your path no matter if it is good for you or not and have a hard time later on as you huff and puff your way through life. Does that make sense to you?

You know, I actually believe most people do want to get in shape and eat healthy but let’s face it, it takes motivation, determination and discipline. And there’s the rub. That can be the hard part. We’ve all jumped on a band wagon at some point in our lives to start some new diet that came along and thought, “This is it!” We probably went to the store and bought all the foods and supplements that were suggested and allowed. Or, we plunked money down on some kind of exercise equipment that was recommended. And then after all the excitement and expectation died down, the day of good intentions was met by the days of reality and pretty soon the fresh vegetables turned moldy and the equipment eventually found its way to Craigslist. So how do you find the motivation, determination and discipline?

MOTIVATION

Motivation is what gets you going. It’s the daily spark that ignites a change in the way you think about a situation. It’s what gets you up and off the couch to make you take the first step to do what you want to do. The best way to get and STAY motivated long-term wise is to find a lot of different reasons that are specific to you to eat right and get in shape. Your reason for getting in shape might be different than someone else. Some examples are:

  • Wanting more energy
  • Being at your ideal weight
  • Eliminate or decrease health issues
  • Wanting to be able to be more active and be able to keep up with family, (kids,grandkids)

Figure out how eating healthy benefits you and make your own list. That way you will have more than just a vague idea of “getting in shape” to help you stay on track.

DETERMINATION

Determination is what keeps you going after the spark of motivation. It will help push you through the hard times. Even though you might want to give up, determination makes you dig deep and give it your all so you can succeed at what you are trying to do. Some helpful tips to stay determined:

  • Give yourself a pep talk - Be positive, write or state your goal and cheer yourself on.
  • Find a support system — Family, friends, online support groups for encouragement.
  • Reward yourself for successes along the way - Think pampering or money jar, not cake.
  • Focus on the benefits of reaching your goal.

DISCIPLINE

Self discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish any goal and especially when we are talking about eating and exercise that will lead to long-term success. Self-discipline allows your choices to be made by informed, rational decisions instead of by impulses or feelings. Some people might find this surprising but self discipline is actually a learned behavior. It requires practice and repetition in your daily life. Some methods to help you to be successful:

  • Be realistic in setting short term and long term goals - Short-term goals should be benchmarks that lead up to long-term goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, set a six month goal, but break it down into smaller pieces, such as losing one pound every two weeks. When you reach the mini-milestones it helps to keep you motivated which in turn then helps to maintain your self discipline.
  • Remove temptations - Why have junk food sitting around calling your name. Removing the distraction from your environment is a crucial first step while you are working to improve your self-discipline.
  • Plan ahead and have a schedule - Don't leave your eating up to chance. Waiting until you are hungry is not the best time to figure out what you are going to eat. Know what you will be eating and have it ready.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice - Think of any great performer that you admire. Even if they started out with natural talent they still had to practice to perfect it. The more they practiced their talent, the easier and better it got. The same applies for self-discipline. You will find the more you practice it the better you will be at it.

So, how’s your motivation, determination, and discipline? If you need some help to get you going or keep you on the right path, call me today at (616) 516-1570 and soon you will be making the changes of eating not WHAT you want but eating FOR what you want and that is, “Eating healthy more than once and getting in shape!”