Friday, March 30, 2012

You Can Walk It and Then Come Home and Fly It

Silent Sam did fix the treadmill and started back walking each night when he comes home.  The daughter is back with her trainer a couple times a week working out.

So that left me.

The fact that we all signed up for the May 5th 5K Walk to Remember is a motivating force.  I don't want to be the one who has a hard time finishing. 

In our town, there is a sculpture park and it is set up in 1/2 mile segments.  So, if you park and walk from one end to the other and back, you have walked a mile.  So, I met a friend and walked for a mile.  It was okay - it didn't really sell me on the exercise concept but I was worried about the race. 

Then I remembered. 

I went to the Lake and walked early one morning.  Going to the Lake to walk makes my heart sing.  Okay, that is hokey.  But I love it.  I get out of the car, look at the beach and the Lake and am awed by the beauty. 

Funny, I still think that if I had to walk a mile to do something else, it would seem like a chore and I would avoid it. 

I have made it all 5 days this week.  I have really pushed to get faster and longer.  In all honesty, it was only about 40 degrees most days and it is easy to go faster when it is that cold.  By the Lake, it is not just the temperature - it is the wind.  The first day, I thought my face would freeze.  But I did it. 

I then come home and use my favorite toy.  I go to and see how far I went.  I can save the information and keep track of my daily walks.  There is also a feature that I find really cool.  (Okay, I am an official DORK!)  After you have your route mapped out, you can do a aerial view of your walk.  So you can walk it and then come home and fly it!  What a hoot!

So, I have 35 days to get up to 3.2 miles.  This week I have done 1.6 miles.  This seems doable to me.  I think I will get up to 2 miles next week.  Then perhaps I will have to work on speed....

How is your exercise routine going?  Have you found a way to exercise that feels good for you?  I am open to new ideas.  I am not a hot weather exercise fan so maybe you have something I can switch to when it gets hot and humid.  Please let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Results of the Sleep Experiment

We started this experiment two weeks ago because Silent Sam and I can fall asleep but not stay asleep.  There is some evidence that indicates that lack of sleep can hinder weight loss.  I really want to tell you that the sleep experiment went great. 

I can't.

The part that really surprised me was that it was probably worse for me than for Silent Sam.  He slept the first two nights and I woke up many times.  Then he started waking up many times also. One night/morning we were both up and out of bed by 3 a.m.  And getting up in the middle of the night is just not that much fun. 

While we did try and keep to the rules, there were a couple nights that one of us worked later than 9 p.m. Also, SS really missed watching the 9 p.m. news.  We stayed up in the living room watching the news until sometime between 9:30 and 10 p.m.  We usually did not make it thorough the whole show. 

We did not turn on the TV in the bedroom at night. 

I will confess that I did not count weekends into the experiment.  I didn't because I have read in numerous places that having an alcoholic beverage will make it easier to go to sleep but will often wake a person up when the effects wear off.  I think this is right - at least for me. 

So what will we try now?  After perusing many web sites for suggestions, I think I will suggest that we incorporate the following into the experiment.  (Silent Sam will love this....) (Actually, he should be thrilled - you should see some of the nutty ideas I found!) 

1.  Just like what you did with your kids - set a routine that will make you think it is time to go to sleep.  Follow the same steps each night to get ready for bed.

2.  Have the temperature in the room between 60 - 68 degrees.

3.  Make the room as completely dark as possible - not only blackout curtains but cover digital clock faces.

4.  Jot down the top 5 - 10 things on your mind and set it aside for the night.

5.  Wear socks to bed.  (seems that your feet get cold first during the night)

6.  Don't drink anything within 2 hours of going to bed.  (this is to avoid those nightly bathroom trips)

Silent Sam objected to #4 during the last experiment.  I will try to get him to try it this time. 

Do you have any suggestions for us?  Please share ideas and things that have worked for you in the comment section below. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bad Habits Creep In

I know that I mentioned in a previous post about the book The Power of Habit. I have been re-reading it slowly and enjoying it. (I read fast and sometimes - especially on nonfiction, a second read reinforces the concepts)  I suggest that you read it.  It is fascinating for the stories that he uses to illustrate his points but also for the idea of how to break or make a habit.  I have been trying to implement his theories in my quest to change my eating and exercise habits. 

Some habits are hard to break.  Silent Sam and I went away for the weekend.  I thought that instead of going to the restaurant Friday night that we would have some wine and snacks in our room. This is one of our habits that we have been trying to break or at least improve.  In our previous life, on Friday nights we would sit in the living room, have a drink or two, and have snacks for dinner.  Oh and it was NEVER veggies as snacks.  So on our way out of town we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some things.  Somewhere between leaving home and getting into the store, I forgot that I meant to get veggies for snacks.  I don't know what happened.  Old habits kicked in - I went straight for the cracker and chips aisle.  Also, I did not take any bowls with us - so that we wouldn't eat straight out of the box. I needed to have given this more thought.  As a result, we had a bottle of wine and a box of crackers and most of a bag of Pirates Booty and part of a bag of pretzel chips.  Could it have been worse?  (Yes, it could have been a variety of potato chips and M & Ms...) If I had only given it more thought, I would have picked up veggies, brought bowls, and saved a lot of calories. 

I am not weighing in this morning....

It is hard to stop working on auto-pilot and move to intentional eating.  It takes work to plan for meals.  While we have been doing our Saturday morning meal planning/grocery shopping list every week now for 4 months, I still hate sitting down to do it.  I am trying to make one new thing a week but that is not always working out.  Life does not always seem to fit into my meal planning schedule. (Hard to believe, huh?)  I have been scheduled to make "Baked Chicken Parmesan" for the last 3 weeks.  Somehow on the day that I am supposed to make it, something happens and that is not what we have for dinner.  It is on the schedule for tonight - we'll see....

Thanks for reading....

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Slow and Steady Wins

What do you do when the doctor tells you news that you are not happy about?  Do you think, "Well, I will show him..." and get on the internet to see what you can find or do you think, "Okay, I will deal with it." Or do you opt for the third choice, "I will ignore this and hope it goes away."?

I am thinking about this for two reasons.  The first is that we had a conversation with and about Silent Sam last night.  It seems that many of the people that he works with know that that he was in the hospital for a few days in November but they don't know that he was diagnosed with Diabetes.  They have noticed his considerable weight loss.  One of his co-workers approached "the daughter" (she works part time for the same company as Silent Sam) and asked if SS was doing okay.  It seems that without any other information, there is an assumption that he has cancer. (Okay, in our own sick way, we may have made a few jokes about "yea, he is dying and wants to spend whatever time he has left at work")

How interesting that the assumption was that he was sick rather than that he was taking care of himself. 

It seems from my reading that it is not uncommon for diabetics to keep their disease a secret.  It seems that particularly with Type 1 diabetics there is a strong desire to seem just like everyone else and that it doesn't feel like they are just like everyone else.  I think that with Type 2 diabetics, there is a combination of denial and embarrassment that wrap themselves around the disease. Silent Sam has taken the attitude that he can beat this. Fortunately, he has a "team" to help him.  I think that it would be very hard for him to fight if the rest of us weren't on board and basically in need of an overhaul.  He is also fortunate that his body has responded so well to low levels of insulin.  We have not been at this very long - just 4 months.  I think if you constantly looked at this as "the rest of your life" you could be beaten before you started.  We are looking at today.  We are looking at trying to remember to "shoot up" and take medicine today.  We are working toward getting to the point where SS is off the shots and just taking medicine.  We are working toward the 5K walk in May.  We have goals that we look forward to achieving.  But like the AA creed, it is one day at a time. 

We are doing well.  But if given an option, we would not have wanted this to happen.  I urge you, if you have someone in your life who is pre-diabetic, please take the time to find out what this means and what needs to be done so that you can delay the onset of diabetes.  This disease will affect you whether you have it or not.  There are a lot of scarey things that can happen when diabetics don't take care of themselves. If your doctor told you that you were pre-diabetic and did not tell you things you should do to take care of yourself (besides the normal - lose weight and exercise).  Please find a dietician and go for a consultation.  You don't need a college education on what to do - you need some simple things that you can implement.  You need to create some new habits.  Start small and work up.  If you don't exercise at all, start by walking 10 minutes a day for a week or two.  Then move to 20 minutes a day for another week or two.  Give yourself a reward when you finish your walk. Not a hot fudge sundae - how about an apple cut into small pieces and eaten slowly?  Or a glass of ice tea while sitting looking at a catalog?  Something small that is a special treat for you.  Start slow and work up but mostly just start.

 (Another idea for the computer minded - there is a web site:  You can sign up there free and they will keep track of your distances. You can then follow how far you have gone and how you are progressing.  You satisfy your computer geek side and your blossoming athlete. )

We do seem to have a problem remembering to take medicine.  Silent Sam is supposed to "shoot up" before dinner and we just seem to forget.  Do you have any tips for helping this become a habit?  Please leave me your suggestions in the comment section below. 

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cinnamon - My Daily Spice?

Cinnamon has been touted for years as a way to improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with Type 2 Diabetes.  It has been said that a teaspoon a day will help regulate these levels. Cinnamon may do this by decreasing insulin resistance.  This theory has not really been proven on a wide scale.  The study that has brought attention to this theory was performed in Pakistan in 2003 and it was a very small study (60 people).

There are two kinds of cinnamon.  There is Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon.  Cassia cinnamon is the kind most of us use for baking and cooking.  It is also the variety most researchers have used in this research. 
The main conclusion is that cinnamon seems to be safe for diabetics; beyond that, there is debate.  Interestingly, people with liver damage should be careful because large amounts of cinnamon may increase liver problems.

As with much scientific research, I am sure they will keep at it and discover that it does and doesn't help. 

Anyway, this does seem to have spawned the "Cinnamon Challenge".  Oh those daffy young people....  It seems that they challenge each other to eat a teaspoon full of straight cinnamon.  Apparently it can't be done.  Your mouth does not have enough saliva to take in that much cinnamon.  It can lead to serious breathing problems and even eye irritation. (i.e. you choke and clouds of cinnamon get blown out of your mouth and go into your eyes)   Interestingly enough, I saw a clip on TV of the Governor of Illinois eating in a teaspoon of cinnamon without a problem.  I am not sure what that says about him.  I wonder if when you talk to him you notice excess saliva.  (“It's like being in a shower....”)

Have you ever tried to use cinnamon for health reasons?   Please let me know why and if you thought it worked.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Does Cleaning and Organizing Your Cabinets Make You a Better Person?


It does give you a moment of satisfaction and perhaps a second of superiority that your cabinets are cleaned and organized....

When Silent Sam was first diagnosed, the dietician recommended a cookbook.  I will suggest this cookbook to you if I ever decide that I like it.  Anyway, during those first days, I read through the cookbook.  It talked a lot about organizing your kitchen.  Really, I had no idea what we were doing and if Silent Sam was okay and this person thought that organizing my kitchen was important? 

Okay, she was right but not right then. 

I finally had to admit that if the corner cabinet in the kitchen was organized instead of being a black hole, that it might be easier to put together a shopping list and perhaps even make cooking easier.  So bright and early on Saturday morning,  I started with the cabinet.  Wow!  There was a lot of junk in there.  I was amused by some of the expiration dates.  While I didn't think it had been that long since we had cleaned out that cabinet, I was wrong.  But it felt good to pull everything out, wash down the shelves and put things back so that items can be found again.  When I finished, there was a lot of extra space in the cabinet. 

So now if I need tomato sauce, I can find all the cans of it that I have in one place.  Amazing. So perhaps taking a few minutes to clean and organize your cabinets is a big help in planning meals.

Let's see how long it can stay that way....

What have you found that helps you get your grocery list done quickly?  Please share any hint that you may have in the comments section below. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

What's Irish and sits in the back yard?

Pati O'Furniture!

We are getting set to celebrate the big holiday tomorrow.  If you don't know what I am talking about, you don't live in Chicago.  Tomorrow is one of the holy days, a serious celebration. 

St. Patrick's Day.

It is the first amateur night of 2012.  What?  Amateur night?  Yes, it is one of the two nights of the year to absolutely stay off the roads.  It is a night, along with New Year's Eve, that everyone thinks they should drink.  There is a tidal wave of inexperienced drinkers.   The green beer flows and the throats open.  The bars are crowded and hot which produces a thirst somehow quenched best by green beer.

So with our new lifestyle, how will we celebrate?  Each year, starting on March 1st, Silent Sam will ask if I have started boiling that "stuff" yet.  This is an indication of his feelings toward the very special corned beef and red potato dinner I used to make.  Needless to say, the kids found it easy to incorporate his feelings into their feelings on the matter.  

Corned beef has been dropped from the menu. 

It hit me a few years ago that lamb is also an Irish favorite and since lamb is also a favorite in this house that we could celebrate St. Patty's Day with a lamb dinner.  This is much more to everyone's liking.  I did try one year to make Irish Soda Bread but I was not successful.  So tomorrow we will search for a good loaf of Irish Soda Bread.  Not sure where to find it but it may involve some taste tests. 

One of the first things that we learned when we had to change our habits was that Guinness is the lowest calorie regular beer.  Well, faith and begora, we have a winner!  Guinness it is for the gent tomorrow.

So there is our St. Patrick's day - a little lamb, a little soda bread, lots of green (vegetables) and a wee dram of Guinness.

How are you going to celebrate?  What is your perfect St. Patty's day?  Suggestions for where I get a good loaf of Irish Soda Bread?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News

I hate going to the doctor.  Why do I hate going to the doctor?  Because at some point in the process, the doctor will look at me and say something like "You are a fat slob and you need to lose weight".  Now we all know that he doesn't say that but it feels that way.  Weight is a very touchy issue.

 Do you think that having a doctor tell you to lose weight will motivate you to lose weight?

I would be amazed if that would motivate you to lose the weight that you need to lose.  It might work better if the doctor then suggested something you could incorporate easily into your life. You know, like, stop drinking more than one Coke a day.  Or how about, stop eating french fries.  If he gave out one easy suggestion that you could do  and feel better then you would want to go back to crow about your success.  Then when you went back, he could give you another suggestion that you can then incorporate - like take a 10 minute walk twice a day.  You could build on each step and feel great about yourself.  Instead, you get the "lose weight and exercise" admonition and it just isn't specific enough to help. 

Silent Sam was telling me at dinner last night that one of his co-workers asked him about his weight loss.  He wanted to shed some pounds and asked SS how he was doing it.  SS explained that he takes his plate and divides it into quarters.  One quarter of the plate is lean protein, one quarter is starch,  and then the other half of the plate is non-starch vegetables and salad.   The guy was repulsed.  He asked SS if he was hungry all the time and couldn't believe that he wasn't.

( I did, of course, bring up the 9 inch plate.  We think that it makes a difference.  You can still belong to the clean plate club with the 9 inch plate and lose weight. )

Granted, we adopted this because we were at a medical juncture where our choices were limited.  But what an easy direction to give people.  It is understandable - after all the information that they gave us, it was the one thing we could remember and implement easily.

So, does the doctor telling you that you need to lose weight motivate you?  Please let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sleep - Can you affect my weight?

I have heard that sleep can make a difference in weight loss.  All I can think of is (time for the wayback machine again) in the book, Valley of the Dolls, the stars would go to Switzerland and sleep away their weight.


So, we all know that you can't really do that now.  But it seems that your sleeping patterns can affect your weight loss.  It does make sense - when you are tired or stressed it is much easier to grab that snack that calls your name then when you are rested and raring to go. But why?

Well, it seems that there are two hormones that are affected by your sleep patterns.  Ghrelin is produced in the intestinal tract and stimulates appetite while leptin is produced in the fat cells and it signals the brain when you are full.  In a study at the University of Chicago, they found that when they restricted sleep, the subject's  leptin levels went down and their ghrelin levels went up.  According to the study, the subject's desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods increased 45 percent!  So if this information is correct, then all I have to do is start sleeping a lot and I will slim down in no time. 


It seems that it is not that easy.  It is NEVER that easy.  More researchers have found that people with sleep apnea may have very high levels of leptin but when the apnea is treated that the leptin levels drop and those patients lose weight.

What they are suggesting is that if you have sleep apnea, you need to go and get it treated.  That alone may help your weight loss.  If you are trying to lose weight, work on getting a good night's sleep.  The scientist's definition of a good night's sleep is about 7.5 hours. 

Silent Sam and I have poor sleeping habits.  Both of us will fall asleep but then wake somewhere in the early hours and toss and turn.  This is not good for either of us - especially him.  His body needs to have time to recoup from his stressful day.  So I have proposed an experiment.  For the next week we are going to take the following steps:

1.  Stop working by  9 p.m. each night
2.  Have a light snack - Sam will have a sugar free pudding and I will have a small frozen yogurt
3.  Read, meditate, pray, or take a warm shower. This activity will not take place in the bedroom.
4.  In bed with lights out at 10 p.m. Also, we will block any blue lights (digital clocks). 

Supposedly, this will help us sleep better.  We will see. The information that I have found has stressed that the bedroom is only for sleep and sex. No TV, no reading in bed, nothing but sleep.  All this is like when your kids are little and you have a bedtime routine.  We will try an adult bedtime routine. 

I will let you know if this seems to make a difference in our sleeping patterns.  It couldn't make them worse! Oh and maybe this will be the key to my miracle weight loss!  (a girl can hope...)

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meatless Mondays

I know that is it not particularly the politically correct thing to say but I like a giant hunk of beef cooked rare.  Yes, it is my comfort food.  I don't even need any wonderful sides with it.  Just the beef is fine.


I will eat too much of it.  And we all know that perhaps it is not the best thing I can do for myself.  Except of course if I haven't had any in awhile and I am really stressed out....

And this takes me to...

Meatless Mondays

What, you go from giant rare steaks to Meatless Mondays?  Hey, the mind works in strange ways.  Cut me some slack.

The concept of Meatless Mondays was resurrected in 2003 by the John Hopkins School of Public Health's Center for a Livable Future.  The idea is to get people to make healthier decisions at the start of every week with the thought that perhaps it would carry over to the rest of the week.  A campaign like this  was actually started during World War I but it was born out of food rationing.  There is a web site for Meatless Mondays at  There are celebrity endorsements but more to the point, there are recipes and tips.  

Do you do Meatless Mondays?  I don't.  But we do at least one meatless dinner a week.  I never thought about doing the whole day - if I go meatless for dinner, that seems like a big thing.  Since I do not have the best eating habits, I probably do go meatless some days. (those days that I have animal crackers and a coke for lunch)   I just don't work at it.  Anyway, the concept is not bad.  I do know lots of wives who will say that their husbands won't go for a meatless meal.  My answer to that is - "Don't tell him."  Really, I am not sure he will notice if the meat is missing.  One of the guys I work with is repulsed by the idea of a meal without meat.  It is actually pretty funny to tell him what we had for dinner.  He is very theatrical with his reaction.  He will put his hand over his heart and start gagging.  Luckily I mastered the eye roll response years ago. 

And the point of all this?  I though I would share one of my favorite new recipes that happens to qualify for Meatless Mondays.  It is relatively easy (of course, I make it) and I think it tastes great.  Also, the portion size is pretty generous.  

Provolone Ziti Bake

1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves minced
2 cans (28 oz. each) Italian crushed tomatoes
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 pkg (16 oz) ziti or small tube pasta
8 slices of provolone cheese

1.  In a Dutch oven, saute onion in oil until tender.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, wine, sugar and basil.  Bring to a boil; remove from the heat.  Stir in the ziti.

2.  Transfer to a 13X 9 inch baking dish that is coated with cooking spray.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Top with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 4-6 minutes longer or until ziti is tender and cheese is melted.

This recipe is from Taste of Home/Healthy Cooking Magazine and was submitted by Vicky Palmer of Albuquerque, NM.

Notes:  I use Pam instead of the olive oil.  I know that the olive oil is good for you but I make the substitution anyway.  I have only made it with dry red wine so I don't know if the chicken broth makes a difference.  You can also use reduced sodium provolone cheese.

This recipe makes 8 servings so you get a pretty generous piece.

So go forth and enjoy Meatless Monday.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Think You Might Say - Kind of Random...

So there comes a day when I am not sure what to talk about.... 

Regarding the skunk issue.  The dog smells fine.  The Downey really left him smelling fresh - there would be little wafts of Downey in the air whenever he scratched himself.  But, he was a little sticky - perhaps there was a bit of Downey that didn't get washed out.  The faithful mobile groomer came Tuesday afternoon and gave him another bath and a vinegar rinse.  He smells fine.  If only I could say that much about the house.  There is a lingering odor of skunk!  At least we think it is skunk.  There comes a time when telling the vinegar smell from the skunk smell is difficult. I have repeated spritzed the carpet but have gotten to the point where I am sick of the perfumed "air freshener" air also.  I remembered a product called Fresh Wave, which is used to absorb smells but doesn't have much of an odor onto itself.  I have used this product in a commercial setting and it was great.  It really takes care of musty smells.   I think it might be better but I am an optimist...

As far as exercise goes - I did walk twice last week.  Not so great and I haven't walked this week.  Very sad.  The treadmill is still out of commission.  So this week is a bust as far as exercise goes. 

Ever feel like you are cheating but you really aren't?  That is the way I feel.  I am behaving myself but I just don't feel as upbeat about it.  I think we are at that point where our old habits really want to surface again.  I think we need  a kick in the pants but I am not sure exactly how to do it. I suppose that just by recognizing it, I am ahead.  I talked to Silent Sam about it last night and I think he agreed but sometimes with Silent Sam it is hard to tell. 

Silent Sam has been working a lot and I am concerned about his stress level.  So, I drive him crazy trying to find a way to "de-stress" him. (I just drive him crazy period!)  I told him that he had to have a date with me Wednesday night as a way to give him a break from work.  So Wednesday night rolls around and it is raining and I am tired from my stressful day (it can happen). We ended up sitting on the couch watching TV.  Not so great at getting him thinking about something else.  This weekend we are going to escape with our friends for a night at their second home.  That should be at least something different and he can hear someone different talking.  I sometimes think that my voice must sound like the adult voice in the Peanut cartoon shows - Waa Waa Waa...

BUT - I read this fascinating book that I highly recommend!  It is called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I really had a hard time putting it down.   Not too surprisingly, it talks about habits - personal and corporate habits.  The book starts out talking about personal habits and the study of the brain in response to a change of habit and things that have made people successful in changing their habits.  In the second part, it gives lots of examples about changes made in corporations and what changing those corporate habits meant to the company.  He explains that every habit consists of a cue, a routine in response to the cue, and the reward.  There is interesting information about when you go to change your habit that to be successful you should write down a plan that will change your habit - how you are going to do it and what to do when you encounter resistance.  I have decided that I will use this as inspiration to change my non-exercise habit.  If you have the time, I really suggest it.

As a sidenote to those of you who watch Castle on TV.  There was a two-part episode a few weeks ago involving the CIA and some murders.  The show talked about the lynchpin event - a pivotal event that changes history.  Something that seems inconsequential on the outside but by changing that one thing  it leads to a series of events that make huge changes.  The book The Power of Habit talks about the keystone habit in the corporate environment.  It is the same theory - a small change in a corporation can make wider and wider ripples though the organization. 

I have been getting some great suggestions from you wonderful readers!  Thanks so much.  I will share them as soon as I have had time to test them out for myself.  

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Serving Size Blues

I will freely admit that I never paid much attention to serving sizes.  When I would cook, I would put the main course on a platter or in the case of pasta, a large bowl.  I would then put it on the table and everyone could help themselves.  With snacks, we would laugh about some snacks being single servings.  Yea, tell me that you have never finished off a package of Milano cookies. 

If you pay attention to serving sizes, you will be amazed.  The first place to look is at your breakfast cereal.  I will bet that the serving size is 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup.  Measure that out and look and see how much it is compared to what you would normally put into your bowl.  The same could be said for the milk to go with your cereal. 

Serving sizes make me sad.

So what have we done to combat the serving size blues?  Well, first off there is the 9 inch plate. (such a great phrase, huh?)  When you put a single serving on a smaller plate, it looks bigger and you won't feel like you are being deprived.  We now put the main course on the plates in the kitchen and then put them on the table.  That way I will see how many servings there are in a recipe and serve the right size serving.  Again another surprise - the correct serving is usually plenty of food. I will also put the starch part of the meal on the plate in the kitchen.  The serving sizes of those are also a lot smaller than I would normally have eaten but  still plenty of food.   I do put the bowl of vegetables on the table along with the bowl of salad.  Depending upon each family member's likes and dislikes, they can fill their plate with the vegetables and salad.

It seems that most of the recipes that I have found are for 4 servings or more.  Rather than cut back on the recipe (which might be the better choice...) I make the recipe and then divide the leftovers into the correct serving sizes.  That way they are all set in the refrigerator or freezer to be grabbed and put into a lunch bag.  Now, if the recipe is for 4 chicken breasts, I will usually just make the number that I need for that particular meal.

It probably goes without saying, but do not take the bag of pretzels with you in front of the TV and think that you will eat only the serving size.  Take a bowl out of the cabinet, put the right number in the bowl and take that with you.  Eat one piece at a time.  I seem to have taken a particular shine to Chex Mix.  I now know that about half of one of my small bowls is a serving.  It sure doesn't look like much but I eat it one piece at a time.  It lasts longer and it is enough.  After all, it is a snack.  (my new mantra...)

So take some time to check out those serving sizes.  I think you will be surprised.

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

What Happens When You Go On Vacation?

If you are Silent Sam and I, you blow your "new lifestyle eating".  Yes, we did.  We did try and at parts we succeeded.  But the scale doesn't lie.  Also, the glucose monitor doesn't lie.  Really, I wish they would.  Can't you imagine the scale thinking "Oh, she is having a bad day, I'll lighten it up a little for her."  Yea, that never happens. 

This trip was planned before the diagnosis (Dum Dum Dum - ominous sound effect).  We had planned a 7 day cruise in the Caribbean.  When we planned it, we thought that we would need to get away - little did we know how much we would need to get away.  Silent Sam voiced his worry that I would be perhaps a bit too strict with the rules while we were gone.  I promised that he was an adult and I would not hover and preach.  Everyone we told that we were going looked at us and said "How are you going keep your momentum on a cruise?"  We assured everyone that while there is plenty of food available on a cruise that they don't really overload the plates in the dining rooms and that we would be just fine. 

Yes, we were fooling ourselves.  We both really tried not to eat things that we knew were really bad for us.  I think we both probably would have said that we didn't misbehave "that much".  Oh, the power of the mind to deceive! 

On the good side, we did exercise almost every day.  We went to the fitness center on board and used the machines.  At least we could feel virtuous about that. 

I think that we were both careful at breakfast.  Breakfast is a buffet meal and it is easy to load up that plate.  We would both start with fruit and yogurt.  Not bad except we didn't stop there.  We should have stopped there...  Lunches were probably okay - lots of salads.  Oh did I mention the pretzel rolls?  Okay, I think pretzel rolls are one of God's favorite foods that he gave us as a treat.  So good!  They had fresh pretzel rolls at lunch each day.  Then came dinner.  We were wrong.  They served more food than we thought.  We ate more food than we should have eaten.  Oh, it was really good. 

There was some, hmmmm..alcohol. The drinking thing is a bit of a problem.  It seems that Silent Sam should only have a drink with a meal but really, who drinks scotch with a meal.  It is sort of a pre or post meal drink.  So we would have some snacks and drinks before dinner. On the plus side - not drinking without food - on the minus side - eating more.  Of course, not drinking would solve this problem but that is not going to happen.  Check that box for another area of  needs improvement.

When we got home, Silent Sam weighed himself.  He had gained 11 pounds.  (HUGE GASP, please)  I didn't have the backbone to step on the scale.  One week after the trip, SS had lost all the weight.  I finally got on the scale and was up one pound from pre-trip weight. 

While we did get back on track when we got home, it still means that we have not truly made "the great transformation".  It is still really easy to go back to our old ways.  I think it is called being human.  We had been on our new routine for about 9 weeks when we went away.  We slipped up.  We got back on the routine.  Know what?  We will probably screw up again.  As long as we find our way back before we are too bad, it will be okay. We are changing a lifetime of behavior here.  It will not happen without some bumps in the road.  At least we have each other to lean on. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Adjusting Family Traditions

Since Silent Sam was diagnosed and our journey started the week after Thanksgiving, we had to make some changes in our Christmas traditions.  It seems that some of the foods that we would normally have around the house for Christmas were not exactly the type of thing that we should be eating.  (Once again, no food is forbidden - it is an individual choice.)  Things that we were better off not having were foods like French Silk Pie, Christmas ribbon candy, a 6 gallon bucket of three-way popcorn, and Christmas cookies.  We also get some food gifts through work - most seemed to be candy this year, ironically enough.  We sent off the items that arrived  either to work or to neighbors.  (One neighbor told me that we were not to send anything else to her house...) 

When the kids were little, we would set aside a Sunday night in early December and put up the Christmas tree and decorate it.  After we decorated it, we would turn off the house lights leaving on only the Christmas tree lights and sing Christmas Carols.  Somehow, as the kids got older, there was no way they were going to sing with us.  Sadly that tradition went away.  But the tradition that grew in its place was the annual decorating of the Christmas Cookies.  Please note - not the making of the Christmas cookies but the decorating of them.  On a designated Saturday night before Christmas, the kids would invite friends over  to decorate cookies.  It seems that my kids usually turned this into "who can make the funkiest color and worst looking Christmas cookie" while their friends would be making works of art. 

We decided that we needed to change this particular tradition.  None of us needed the decorated Christmas cookies.  BUT being the insecure Mom that wanted the kids to still come home, I felt I had to think of something else.  We decided on a tree decorating/game night.  On the designated Saturday, we picked out the tree in the afternoon and then decorated it that night.  After we finished with the tree, we played a game. We played for several hours and had a great time. 

I think that it is hard to change family food traditions. It takes work to think of something to replace the food.  The game night worked well for us.  We laughed, we teased each other, and I lost.  All great fun for everyone. 

Easter is rolling toward us now.  We do have one Easter tradition that will not change.  Every Easter, I make a lamb cake.  It is awful looking.  It always needs a straw to prop up the head.  Someone usually sneaks in gives the lamb pink eyes made of jelly beans. Then the lamb falls over.  As my Mother-in-law said one year (with great wonder in her voice) "Despite how it looks, it tastes good."  I will make the lamb cake this year - it isn't really that big and everyone can afford a small piece.Who knows, this could be the year it is a masterpiece.  (right....)

I do still (don't roll your eyes at me) give the kids and their significant others an Easter basket.  I will probably not give candy this year.  I am thinking more of a tee shirt that says "Mom's the best!"  I am sure they would be thrilled....

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Hairy Stinky Mess - a post not on topic

You see before you a happy family shot from a couple of years ago.  See that dog in the picture?  That is Kirby.  He is hairy.  Really hairy.  In fact, he is named for the vacuum cleaner.  We have had Kirby for 10 years.  For 10 years I have vacuumed like crazy.  We picked up Kirby from a shelter when he was three years old. He came to us with an assortment of quirks.  Some have gotten better over time and some haven't. 

Sometimes his plate shifts.  When that happens, we just sort of back away. 

Kirby had a new experience today.  Kirby got sprayed by a skunk.  Did I mention that he is really hairy?  Before we figured out that he got sprayed, he was back in the house rubbing his face all over the carpet in the dining room.  Ohhh the smell.  We were not really sure what had happened except that the smell in the house was overwhelming.  Silent Sam and daughter went off to work.  I opened all the windows and turned on fans in every room.  Did I mention that it was 30 degrees out?  It really stunk.  After about an hour, daughter called to say that she and SS were getting kicked out of the workplace because they smelled.  About that time, I decided that it was the dog that really smelled and that probably the carpet did too. 

Thus started the internet search for remedies.  And, in case you were wondering, it was cold and it stunk.  Most of the postings gave the same mixture to cure the dog part of the problem.  As far as the carpet goes, there was some consistency there also. So off I went to the grocery store.  I bought 7 boxes of baking soda, 9 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, a large container of Dawn dish soap, a jug of Downey fabric softener,  2 Febreze candles, one Febreze plug in, 2 Febreze stand alone air fresheners, 2 Febreze air fresheners for the car, and 2 quarts of white vinegar.  I might have gone a bit over the top.  Really, I should have read the amounts of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and Dawn needed for the concoction.  Daughter volunteered to wash Kirby.  I started on the inside.  I sprayed down the carpet with the vinegar.  I sprayed down the carpet with Febreze. Then I did it again.   And again.  In the meantime, Silent Sam and daughter washed the dog three times with the mixture.  They could not tell if the smell was gone.  They then used the other method that I read about.  They used Downey fabric softener.  I was called outside to check on the smell factor.  He smelled like Downey so we decided that he could come back in to dry out.  To prepare the house for the return of the dog, I closed the windows and turned on the heat.  I happened to take my shoes off.  The carpet was, shall we say, saturated from the sprays.  Also per suggestions, I  have dishes with vinegar located throughout the house.  Supposedly the vinegar will capture the skunk smell.  You just have to live through the vinegar smell. 

On a positive note, to try and warm up the soaking wet (did I mention, hairy) dog, we cleaned the oven.  Did you know that when you clean the oven that it heats to about 500 degrees?  Yes, I now have a clean oven.  And a wet dog in the kitchen.  

My house still smells.  I am not sure what it smells like at this point but it smells. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

When is a vegetable not a vegetable

All of you who think that corn and peas are vegetables, raise your hand.  Well, guess what?  Corn and peas are actually starches. This means that in both the diabetic plan and Weight Watchers the quantities are limited.  We had eaten a lot of peas and corn in the past.  This left a HUGE hole in our vegetable repertoire.  At first it meant that we ate green beans (cut and french style) and broccoli.  How often can you do that?  Well, apparently you can switch off almost every night until you get really sick of them.  We did intersperse some fresh asparagus and then some frozen asparagus. 

Then someone told me that cauliflower can be made to look like mashed potatoes and it was quite tasty.  So, I found a crock pot recipe for cauliflower that looked like mashed potatoes.  The first hint of a problem came from the smell.  It was not exactly enticing.  But I didn't let that stop me - I served it anyway.  It was, without question, the grosses thing I have made so far.  I could only take one bite.  UGH! 

(Going for a spin in the "wayback machine"...  My Dad's job was to sell advertising space in magazines.  One of the magazines that he represented was for the food technology industry.  He would attend their convention once a year and bring home samples.  The one I really remember was salt water taffy that tasted like ham.  This should have taught me a lesson in trying to have food look like one thing but taste like it is a another.)

I did try some of the recipes in the cookbook.  They were good but since I don't give enough thought to the vegetable portion of the meal - too used to pulling a bag of frozen out of the freezer and throwing it in the microwave - they took more time than I usually allotted for vegetable preparation.  But those recipes did at least get me thinking.  I actually have a new love - I think of it as refrigerator vegetables.  I go to the vegetable bin and "whip up" (such a joke!) a stir fry with whatever is there.  It starts with my good friend Pam then in go the onions and a bit of garlic (cuz it smells so good cooking) then mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, fresh spinach, tomatoes, and peppers.  The recipe varies by what is actually in the vegetable bin that day.  I could eat this most of the time but I do restrict myself to fixing it once a week.  It seems that others in my house remember what they ate and are not interested in eating the same thing each night.  So picky...

I do truly miss my old friends corn and peas.  Yes, we can have them and we do occasionally but usually in a blend with other vegetables.  I like that they are now blends rather than the old "mixed " vegetables.  Really, whose brilliant idea was it to mix peas, corn, carrots and lima beans?  All across America there were children picking lima beans out of their vegetables each night. The lima bean growers truly found a way to sell their product.   

I know that there is a whole world of vegetables that I have yet to work into our lives.  Since this is our new normal, I will be investigating this wonderful world.  This summer will include perfecting grilled vegetables. 

Thanks for reading!