Better Choices, Better Results

Archive for May, 2011

Bugs in an Organic Garden

Mickey and I are trying to be as organic as possible in our garden.  We want to stay away from chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  We are, so far, keeping up with the weeding and watering. 

I went to the garden after our seminar on Saturday to check things out.   I noticed that our potato plants had quite a few bugs on them, so I started knocking them off and trying to squash them.  The ground was soft, though, so I really was just kind of pushing them into the mud; I wasn’t sure if they were dying. 

The common "Tater" Bug. THese evil little creatures can strip a potato patch in no time!

My next thought was to pick them off by hand.  It’s not hard to pick them off because they don’t have a good grip on the plant.  Really, it’s as easy as giving the plant a little flick; the bugs fall right off.  However, if I don’t get the bugs out of the garden, they’ll get right back on the plants!

I found an empty soda can in my car.  I picked (or flicked) the bugs off the plants and put them in the can.  Easy-peasy.  Then, for good measure, I put water in the can to drown them. 

I got in the car, stuffed a paper towel into the opening and went to meet friends for a little lunch.  After about an hour, I got back in the car and there WERE BUGS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!!!  Those little monsters didn’t drown.  They didn’t suffocate.  They managed to pull the paper towel down into the can and use it as a launching pad to the outside world!

OH!

My!

Goodness!

Ack! Bugs in my car! *shudder*

Bugs all over my car!

Plan B – go to the car wash and vacuum them out. 

Three days later, I’m still finding the occasional bug. 

Plan C: find a new way to dispose of tater bugs.

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So THIS is what the Other Side Looks Like!

Eating better and exercising are agreeing with me, because I’ve lost over 43 pounds since December.  I can’t even describe how much better I feel! 

  • I’m more confident.
  • I sleep better.
  • I have more energy.
  • I don’t get as hot as I used to.
  • My skin has cleared up.
  • I’m losing inches as well as pounds.

Last week, I did something that I’ve NEVER done in my entire adult life.  I shopped in the regular section of Kohls.  Not the Women’s section.  Not the Plus Size section.  Not in a shop that caters to larger women.  I shopped in the regular section…because I could.

No one looked at me like I didn’t belong there, either!

I left with an outfit that might be a little tight in places, but fits and will get looser as I lose more weight.  I also left with a sense of accomplishment, a renewed determination and tears in my eyes. 

Happy tears.

Look at that big cheesy grin! This is the 1st outfit I've ever bought in the "normal sizes."

Now it’s MUD Between my Toes!

Toiling away in the soil...

Look! I look like a farmer! (Well, maybe not...)

Mickey and I went out to the garden on Sunday to do a little maintenance.   A little weeding, a little more planting, and spreading out some hay were on the agenda.  We got a little rainstorm shortly after we started but decided to wait it out.  Of course, this made the garden muddy, but a little mud never hurt anyone.

Mickey and I got to work.  We planted a few more pepper plants, scattered hay between the squash mounds and tilled up between the rows.  Here’s where it got fun…Mickey has this great little tiller that’s the perfect size to grind up the weeds between rows!  I’d never worked with a tiller like this.  It was so much smaller than the monster my dad used to have.  I remember trying to work that one and having it drag me all over the place, with daddy trying to catch up to me to cut the power.   Ahh, memories.  Anyway, this one was small enough for me to handle.

Almost everything is coming up.  I think I’m going to have to thin out the corn a little, and we’ve got plans to put out more corn and beans later in the season for a late crop.

I hope that we have a good harvest!

After a brief spring rainstorm, Mickey and I work the soil...(I'm so dramatic!)

Salmon Caesar Salad

My latest and greatest…Salmon Caesar Salad.  I started with Romaine Lettuce and added onion and parmesan cheese.  I grilled a piece of salmon on the old George Foreman and placed it on top.  Then I topped it all with this homemade dressing that I found on A Veggie Venture.

Salmon Ceasar

I'm becoming such a fan of salmon!

CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4 (and dressing leftover for another evening)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 egg (if you don’t eat raw eggs, don’t!)
1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard
4 anchovies (don’t even think about skipping these! without anchovies it might be salad dressing but it’s not Caesar salad dressing)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
Salt if needed

It wasn’t bad, although I thought the dressing was a little too vinegar-y.  I’d make it again with less vinegar.  The salmon, though, was excellent!  Tons of protein and I stayed full for a very long time. 

What’s your favorite low-cal/low-fat dressing?

Bad Brownies!

Bad Brownie Photo

It looks good...that's about all I can say about it.

It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?  A chocolate brownie…no, let me correct myself…a bariatric-friendly chocolate brownie!

This brownie is chock-full of goodness; it’s made from whole wheat flour, cocoa, Splenda, peanut butter and… black beans!

I thought this recipe would be perfect for my next cooking demo, so last night I whipped these up.  They rose nicely and had a great aroma.  However, they are lacking…in taste!  Ugh!  They aren’t good, and I can’t demo a recipe that I don’t think is worthy of our patient’s time and effort.

It’s back to the drawing board for me.  I’m on the search for bariatric baked goods (or perhaps bariatric desserts) that are:

  1. Good
  2. Low-Carb
  3. Low-Fat
  4. Good
  5. Easy to make
  6. Have at least SOME protein, and
  7. Good!

Stay tuned for more updates on this quest.  Mark your calendars…the next cooking demo will be on August 11th at 6:00 pm.

If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  Keep our parameters (listed above) in mind, though!

The World of Walking

I have been walking at least 6 days a week for a few weeks now.  I’ve been walking 3 miles per day at a pretty fast pace.  Well – I thought it was a fast pace.  I’ve been walking to music from The Biggest Loser workout CD’s and also a 70’s Disco Workout CD. 

I’ve been working up a sweat, so I estimated that I was walking a 15-minute mile.  I was WRONG!

I timed it this morning, and I’m only doing a 20-minute mile.  Twenty minutes?!?!  No, no, no.  I must do better than that.

Since I need music to help me keep pace, I went on the search for new workout CD’s.  But first, I needed to know how fast the music needed to be.

All the music on The Biggest Loser CD’s are less than 130 beats per minute.  I found out from The Fitness Walking Guide  that my music needs to be at least 137 beats per minute. 

I logged on to the internet to find faster music.  I found a site called Workout Music Video  that had CD’s for Power Walking!  I now have 2 CD’s on the way to my home.  One is a Disco CD with music at 140 – 145 beats per minute and a Pure Rock CD with music that ranges from 134 to 156 beats per minute.

I’ve been enjoying my morning walk, and so has Daisy, although I’ve not made her do more than one loop around the neighborhood yet.  The poor thing is so chubby that I need to slowly work her into a longer walk as well!

Did you know that walking for exercise is more than a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood?  (Please note: see your doctor before starting any workout routine.  There – the legal stuff is covered!)   Walking for exercise means that you get your heart rate up!  For some “how-to” tips of fitness walking, visit The Walking Site.

Want to know just how much good you can get out of regular walking?  Take a look at this list that I got from The Fitness Walking Guide:

Live Longer. Yes, you read that correctly! A recent article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that how fast you walk is related to your life expectancy.

Increase your resting metabolic rate. This helps to burn off extra calories and keep them off permanently. Fitness walking revs up your metabolism and you will burn more calories all the time, whether you are sleeping or watching TV!

Because it is considered a low to moderate impact activity, fitness walking is easy on your joints and bones and doesn’t cause injuries as often as high impact sports like running.

Prevent or control coronary heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes. There have been many studies that have shown that walking can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and diabetes.

Improve your moods and reduce anxiety. A psychology professor at California State University, Long Beach studied individuals over a 20-day period and found that the more they walked, the higher they rated their overall mood, happiness and self-esteem. Other studies have found that exercise can help by reducing the symptoms of major depression.

Reduce the risk of memory loss and brain deterioration. In 2001, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that women in their seventies who walked at least one mile a day were less likely to lose their cognitive abilities than women who walked only a half a mile a week.

In 2007, researchers from the University of Illinois found that exercise, such as brisk walking, reversed brain shrinkage and increased brain volume in older adults, ages 60-79.

Slows the physical signs of aging. Exercise is vital to keeping your body feeling younger. It can strengthen your bones and improve your circulation. Keeping your body in good physical condition makes you look and feel younger.

Boost Brain Blood Flow. The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas found that women age 60 and older who walked briskly three or four times a week improved blood flow to the brain by 15 percent in just three months

So – now that you know the benefits of walking, get out there and give it a try.  If you are just starting out, start slowly and work your way up.  I’ve found that I love it, and I hope you will, too!

Does the “Want” Ever Go Away?

I just had my lunch.  It was good.  I had a bowl of homemade chili and a sandwich with homemade pimento cheese.

It was filling.

I’m not hungry.

Why…why am I sitting here fighting an urge to find something sweet?  Does the want for sweet and unhealthy foods ever go away?

I have struggled with my weight for my entire life.  I was a chubby-cheeked first grader and an obese college graduate.   Many times during my life I’ve wondered why I am on this path.  There are so many whys.

Why do I love sweet foods?

Why does it take more to physically satisfy me?

Why do I eat so fast?

Why don’t I get sick from over-eating?

Why does so much of my life revolve around food?

I’m trying to reinvent myself when it comes to my relationship with food.  I love it, and while I am often jealous of people who eat to live instead of living to eat, I know that I wouldn’t be as happy as I am without my drive to cook and test and preserve foods.  So where does this leave me?

In a perfect world I wouldn’t crave the foods that are bad for me.  It’s not a perfect world.  I don’t want to become one of those people who scours the world for sweet-food substitutes.  I’m not sure I completely trust artificial sweeteners, even though I do use them on occasion.  Isn’t it better to eat a little bit of a more natural food than a lot of an over-processed, artificially-sweetened food?  I believe it is. 

So where does this leave me?

Well, I know the road to better health is a journey.  I’m not going to get there overnight.  I’m beginning to realize that this is a journey with no end.  If I stop on this journey, it’ll mean that I’ve stopped trying to make better choices.  It’ll mean that I’ve stopped striving to be a healthier person.  It’ll mean that I’ve stopped trying to reach (or maintain) my healthy weight. 

This journey can never end.

I just learned something else.  When I sat down to write this, I was tormented by the demons of sugar, and now, just a few minutes later, my cravings have lessened considerably.  My never-ending journey just took a detour; a detour that has allowed me to stop thinking about how much I want something sweet.  Yes, this journey will have lots of twists, turns and detours as I figure out what works for me.

For now, my craving has gone away, thanks to this blog and my desire to be honest about what I’m thinking, feeling and doing about getting healthy.

What demons do you battle, and what works for you?