Archive for: weight loss

The Great Debate

Bread

Given my Italian and Lebanese ancestry, I’m convinced I have bread and pasta flowing through by veins. From fresh breadsticks and pizza crusts to large flat breads, there was always a wholesome, delicious wheat treat available no matter which grandparents’ home we visited.  In fact, I never even knew white bread existed until I sat in a lunchroom at school and saw my Midwestern classmates role their doughy, lilly-​​white slices into chewy, starchy morsels.  It was no surprise that on every grocery store trip, my mom had four children pining for a loaf of Wonder Bread so we could be just like all the other kids at school.  Thankfully, she resisted our pleas.  Whatever you experienced growing up, there’s value in delving deeper into the great grain debate.

All Eyes on You

eyehealth

I have a unique problem in my home office, especially as I write this article.  You see, the sun is brilliant today, casting abundant light all over my house and yard.  The only challenge is that we are still heavily snow-​​packed around here so the sun’s intensity is magnified by the white blanket of snow in my backyard.  The reflection is so blinding that I’ve reluctantly had to close the shades so I can see the keyboard.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I’d rather have the challenge of a sunny day over the dreariness of an overcast sky.  It just made me realize how fortunate I am to have clear vision and healthy eyes.  Eye health, for many, is often taken for granted until something threatens our vision.   Maybe it’s time we put the focus on our eyes so they can return the favor.

Tuber Up

winterveggies

I have a true confession for you — this weekend I caught a case of the sniffles.  It’s probably been 5 years or longer since my last cold so I can’t complain too much.  Undaunted by my semi-​​disease ridden body, however, I bundled up and ventured out to the grocery store to restock our exceedingly barren refrigerator.  Perhaps influenced by my influenza, I loaded up my grocery cart with a refreshing variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.   Lengthy winter months often wither our resolve to eat fresh foods as many of us opt for comfort foods to warm us up when the cold winds blow.  What better time to turn up our internal temperatures with an abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables as we march into March?

Yes, You Can Eat That!

popcorn

Did you ever walk through a museum or past a static display that enticed you with its rich texture, glimmering sheen or perhaps its historical significance?  Instinctively, you reach out to indulge your tactile temptation only to find yourself recoiling at the sight of a “Do Not Touch” sign?  I hate those signs, don’t you?  It makes me obsessed to touch it at the risk of reprimand by the local curator or temporary incarceration in museum prison for my defiance.  So, now I’m feeling a little guilty for spending the better part of this month telling you what you shouldn’t do.  Maybe it would be helpful, instead, to hear what you can do when it comes to your heart health.  

Have a Heart

Heart Health Hand

Living in a rural state like Maine, it’s easy to get spoiled by the solitude.  With no traffic to speak of, nights are still and silent which makes for a perfect sleeping environment.  It also makes it easier to get startled when an errant noise jolts you out of bed with your pounding heart leading the way.  Isn’t it amazing how much we don’t think about our hard-​​working hearts until they remind us in a big way?  Since February is a month in which we celebrate the decadence of Valentine’s Day along with the prudence of heart health month, let’s find a happy medium to enjoy both!

Drink This Not That!

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet

Early in the 2013–2014 football season, I had every confidence that I would be watching my beloved Packers play in the Superbowl this Sunday only to see my hopes fade as Aaron Rodgers was out with an injury for several games and, of course, a playoff loss that quickly ended their season.  So, I turned to my runner up, the Patriots, and, yet again, my dreams were dashed as were theirs when they lost to the Broncos.  Undaunted, I pinned my faith to the fast & furious 49ers.  As you can tell, I don’t place any bets on my predictions!  At least my fourth favorite is playing in the Superbowl this year, although, I’d better not say to whom I betroth my allegiance for fear of jinxing the outcome.  The reason for my football rant is seated in what you’ll be doing this Sunday and beyond.  Drinks and snacks will be the norm for Superbowl Sunday and, while it’s okay to share good cheer, you may want to rethink your cocktail concoctions.

Can You Crush It?

sodacan

My first memory of soda, or “pop” for you Midwesterners, was a coca-​​cola machine my sister got for her birthday.  All the neighborhood kids crammed into our kitchen to witness the creation of this fizzy concoction formerly reserved for special occasions or the rare trip to McDonald’s for a burger and the drink of our choosing.  I guess I was just a weird kid, but I never acquired a taste for carbonated beverages which remains to this day.  Little did I know that my distain for such childhood delights would pay off in the long run.  How about you?  Are you a soda freak?  If so, the dangers of what you are sipping may surprise you.

Between the E’s

sunflowers

Did your grandmother ever have a tried-​​and-​​true remedy for whatever ailed you?  It usually came from ingredients she gathered from her backyard garden or root cellar that transformed into a stinky, sticky  concoction she would rub on your chest or stick under your tongue, right?  My grandmother’s cure-​​alls were cocoa butter and Vitamin E.  Regardless of the nature and severity of your complaint, she’d say,  “Just rub some Vitamin E on it and you’ll be all set,” with such a commanding tone that you were convinced it would work.  And, actually, it did more often than not!  Maybe Grandma was onto something after all and science is backing up her home remedies with even more E-​​vidence.

Baby Steps with Bob

Bill Murray

Bill Murray is one of my favorite comedic actors…I don’t know how he does it, but for me, he just stands there funny.  From iconic SNL skits to wacky movies like Stripes and Groundhog Day, Murray portrays an ordinary guy who comes out on top no matter the circumstances.   As we begin the new year with lofty resolutions and grand plans to transform our lives, I suddenly thought about Bill Murray in “What About Bob?”  Bill plays Bob Wiley, an off-​​centered but endearing phobic who receives misguided advice from Dr. Leo Marvin played by Richard Dreyfuss in the form of the doctor’s new book entitled Baby Steps.   Fearful of everything, Bob takes his book and his pet fish in hand and baby-​​steps his way to Dr. Marvin’s vacation home.  “Baby steps get on the bus, baby steps down the aisle…baby steps into the elevator…I’m on the elevator!”   Maybe we could take some advice from Bob and take consistent steps instead of quantum leaps to achieve our goals this year.  

Beat the Bloat

SALT AND SHAKER

For some odd reason, I never seem to have a very stocked refrigerator.  Maybe it’s my tendency towards minimalism or perhaps my propensity for reducing clutter behind closed doors like pantry shelves and closets.  Either way, more often than not, my cupboards tend to be on the bare side, that is, until my relatives arrive in town!  My mother has the opposite problem, a fridge so full that food and condiments spill out of ever door and shelf.  Growing up there was never an utterance of “there’s nothing to eat in the house!”  So, with the arrival of family this Christmas, it will be my turn to stock the  shelves, and overload the refrigerator — it will be a foodie’s paradise for at least a week.  While this time of year lends itself to over-​​indulgences, shaking the salt habit is one simple thing you can do to stay slim this season. 

The A,B,C’s of D

sunshine

Like most of the country, it’s cold and snowy today.  Hard to believe that it’s still officially autumn as winter won’t arrive for another few days.  Even though I grew up in the midwest and have lived in Maine for a number of years, I still get a little grumpy when the cold weather arrives.  I will say, though, that one advantage to living in Maine in the wintertime are the stunningly brilliant blue skies and abundant sunshine.  The problem is that by the time those golden rays hit us, they’ve lost their power to warm us up — not to mention the fact that the sun sets around 4pm this time of year.  Beyond frosty fingers, less sunlight means we have to work a little harder to get a very essential vitamin that is a dynamo at warding off disease.  Let’s find some ways to supplement our sunshine with dominating vitamin D.

A Mightier Multi

Fort Jackson, SC

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an investor, squirreling away my hard-​​earned lawn mowing and babysitting money in my passbook savings account at our local bank.  At a young age I knew the importance of compounding interest and the benefit of investing in my future.  The same rules apply to your health — the more you invest in it at an early age, the better return you’ll get on your investment in the future.  Are you well-​​invested?  If not, there are some simple investments you can make right now to ensure you’ll reap those healthy dividends. 

Hot Tamale!

Chilies

Now, I’ve never been one to dream about food but I have to say that after living in New Mexico for a few years working at White Sands Missile Range and Holloman AFB, I developed quite a taste for green chilies.  As a meat & potatoes midwestern girl, spicy foods seldom, if ever, made it to my plate.  So, it must have been the captivation of the high desert, the thin air, majestic mountain ranges, or even the expansive, clear night sky that drew me into not only the scenery but the culinary delights of the southwest.   Little did I know that my indulgence into these potent peppers was a healthy one!

Crustacean Crush

Lobster

For as long as I can remember, I have had an affinity for water. Maybe it’s because every state I’ve lived in from the time I was born was near a body of water.  From the expansive Great Lakes, the calm shores of the Gulf of Mexico to the rocky coast of the northern Atlantic ocean, I love the water.  As a sports enthusiast, water is the one medium you can enjoy year round.  Last Christmas, we had the rare occasion to skate on “glass ice” at my parents’ lake home.  In college, I lived on the shores of Lake Superior.  Chilly for swimming but an incredible snow maker in the winter.  Living in Maine, I have even bigger reasons to love the water…I can get lobster year round!  For those of you who love surf more than turf and think crab, lobster  and other crustacea are rare indulgences, it’s time to put it back on your plate!

You, Only Better

Eastport

Sorry to have missed you last week.  My parents were in town for a visit and we had a very full schedule of activities.  One thing I notice about spending time with my folks is how many characteristics we share.  I love working on projects with my dad as much as I love shopping adventures with my mom.  This photo is from a trip I took with my mom to Eastport, Maine — the easternmost city in the United States — how cool is that?   I’m fortunate to have amazing parents who are kind, loving, generous, fun and loaded with talent.  You may or may not be in the same boat with your folks — the good news is that you have the power to do something about it.  

Gettin’ Gourdy, Part II

zucchini

Like all good Italian families, we had a huge garden when I was a kid.  My inventive father cleverly created an outdoor carpet template with holes cut strategically to allow the plants to thrive while keeping the weeds at bay.  As a result, our garden was a veggie producing machine!  With an overabundance of produce, I learned about 100 different ways to prepare zucchini.  Little did I know just how good it was for me and can be for you too. 

Gettin’ Gourdy, Part I

Cucumbers

For most of North America, August ushers in the dog days of summer.  Here in Maine they usher in the beginning of autumn — I am not kidding you.  Our temps have already dipped and, just yesterday, I saw a maple tree whose leaves were already turning — come on, tree, seriously?   It would make sense then that you never find a parked car with the windows cracked this time of year.  Actually, it’s not the weather that keeps them shut.  Around here, if you leave your windows cracked open, you’ll be met with a seat full of cucumbers, squash and zucchini!  Every Mainer knows about twenty ways to use a zucchini and the rest leave a trail around the state.  The good news is that these healthy harvests produce some great nutritious dividends as well. Today, we’ll focus on the cucumber. 

Super You!

The incredibles

Did you ever see the animated movie, The Incredibles?  It’s about a family of superheroes who must keep their super powers secret in order to fit into a suburban lifestyle.  Of course, when evil threatens, you can’t keep good superheroes down!  My favorite character is Edna, or “E”, a tiny yet extremely high strung designer tasked with creating costumes for “gods” as she described the cast of super heroes she clothed.  Her biggest gripe was “no capes” after several super heroes met their demise with tragic wardrobe malfunctions!  As kids, I’m sure we all had fantasies about becoming superheroes.  Maybe a super you isn’t so far off thanks to the exciting new world of Epigenetics.

Crazy for Coconut

Cocktails

Have you ever caught a whiff of coconut and it immediately triggers an image of a tropical paradise with warm sandy beaches, waves lapping ashore, a chilled umbrella drink in hand, and steel drums playing in the distance? Or does that just work for me?  Coconut is obviously one of my favorite scents and flavors of summer.  Unfortunately, coconut is considered a forbidden fat-​​laden food found in rich, decadent cookies, pies and cakes.  Let’s bust through coconuts crusty shell to reveal some amazing health and fat-​​loss benefits.  

Rock & Roll Summer

PBband

In high school, my brother and his buddies started a band.  Not only were they a crazy-​​talented bunch, they also had an uncanny ability to throw a concert together on a moment’s notice and fill the room with 300 or more avid fans.  Last summer, they got the band back together for a one-​​night-​​only concert on the lake.  It was a blast and we’re looking forward to an encore this year.  It proved to me that you can go back and relive experiences from your past.  With summer in full stride, maybe it’s time to shake up your fitness routine, rekindle some passions of your own and maybe even cultivate a few new ones.