February 28, 2011

What Do You Do?

What do you do when...

You feel like eating really bad food and the craving won't go away?
Sometimes I give into the craving. I do it a lot more now than I used to. {I am losing a lot less weight now than I used to.} I also have to take into consideration how often I am giving in to the cravings. If I just gave in to a pizza craving last night, I know I can't give into an ice cream craving tonight. I rest in knowing that occasionally I am able to enjoy indulgent treats. Sometimes just going to sleep takes care of the craving, though.

You gave it your all and the scale didn't reflect it?
I try to stay objective. I try to remember that it always evens out in the long run. I try to remember that the scale does not have the ultimate say about my health and well-being. I try to focus on what I did right and I try to press on. Notice I used the word 'try' a lot. Sometimes I just have a pity party. But I always move on.

Your legs feel like dead weight when you are running?
I focus on something else. I try to come up with blog posts while I am running. I have taken prayer requests before. Once my phone died and I had no music. So I prayed for every single person that I know (It seemed like) out loud while running down the highway. I have a great play list and each song has a special message that I can focus on while I am running. Sometimes, no matter what, it still hurts and it's hard. Everyone would be doing it if that weren't the case.

Your efforts are not being noticed by others?
For people who have quite a bit to lose, like I did, it can take up to 30 pounds or so for others to really notice. I have always been a fan of taking pictures so even when others weren't noticing, I had the confirmation of my pictures to assure me that things were definitely changing. Once you have lost a lot and the weekly losses begin to taper off, people quit noticing as much. The compliments are fewer and further between. Even though that hasn't necessarily been the driving force in my weight loss, you do get used to hearing the remarks and the positive feedback. It can leave you wondering if it is worth going on if no one notices. Well, it is.

You have no motivation
First, I pray for my motivation to come back. I depend heavily on a steady supply of God's grace for my motivation. There is not an ounce of me that likes exercise. I am convinced that's Jesus in me who likes the running from time to time. I also read blogs and look back at my old posts. I go shopping :) I focus on where I've been and where I am now. I'm not gonna lie, sometimes I don't do the things I know I need to. I wait for the motivation to come back and try not to fall completely off the wagon in the meantime. The motivation alway returns, eventually. Just remember: the motivation will return!

You don't feel like exercising?
Oh boy. Let's see, there is this tennis shoe company...they have a saying....it goes along with a little swoosh logo. Hmm....what is that they say? Oh, yeah. JUST DO IT.

You gain weight?
Tough one. I am on a mission to lose weight and yet, I gain? I know there are people who have had different experiences, but honestly I've never had a mystery gain. I can always pinpoint the reason for a gain. I have had plenty of "up weeks" in the past year and the only thing you really can do is just build a big 'ol bridge. I remember the very first time I had to post a gain for a weekly weigh-in on the blog. I didn't like it. I never like it when I gain. I think as long as you have a healthy dislike for gaining it will be okay.

You have to eat out a lot?
I come up with a plan and stick to it. I don't allow my mind to wander. I don't think about all the food on the menu. I am not afraid to ask for child's portions and give special instructions (no butter, dressing on the side, sub veggies for potatoes, etc.) Most importantly I am prepared for unexpected results on the scale. No matter how "good" I am when eating out, especially if it is a lot in a short amount of time like when I'm on a trip, I know that if anyone other than me is preparing my food I forfeit the benefit of knowing exactly, 100% what I am eating.

You are in the middle of a binge and you wish you hadn't started?
I stop. I spit food out, I throw entire cartons of ice cream and pans of cake away. I toss chips and pour water into casseroles. I embrace the idea that half a binge is better than a whole binge. I look at myself in the mirror and see the food smeared on my face and my jaws moving at warp speed. I stop. In dealing with this very irrational disorder I know that any moment of rationality has to be grasped. If there is a small window of clarity--JUMP! I have never regretted cutting a binge short.

You have to cook for people who don't like healthy food?
Sometimes I just make the healthy food and hope they like it. If they don't I think, "oh well, I just added a day to your life." :) Sometimes I make the unhealthy food for them and the healthy food for me. Sometimes I eat the unhealthy food too. I just do the last one less than the other two. Most important--I quit letting this be an excuse not to take responsibility for my own well-being.

You totally blow an entire day?
Ah, well. You know, worse things could happen. I could be dead. I could be starving. I could be living in a war zone...I don't dwell on it. I just briefly wish it didn't happen and then I move on. I try not to let it happen again for a while. I remember that one day doesn't matter as much as a whole bunch of days so I try my best to make the most of most of my days.

You want to quit?
I can't quit. It's not even a thought that enters my mind. What am I going to do? Go back to eating bacon burgers and doing steady intervals of sleeping and watching TV!? That's not living. That's dying a very slow, sad, empty death. I know in my "knowing place" that this is life for me. Forever and always; for better or worse. Quitting is off the table.

February 27, 2011

Progress Pics

Cleaning out drawers today and this is what I found! One of the first pair of jeans I was trying to "work my way" into. If you've been following for a while, you may recall my How To Dress Your Muffin series...


Yes, the muffin top jeans would now probably hold two of me inside!

Ahh. The face.

The first face is when I still weighed over 200 lbs. The second face was taken just a few days ago.

The thing is, I already had "the twinkle" in the first picture. I already knew where I was headed and most importantly that I would get there. I still have the twinkle and it still represents the same thing--hope for what is to come.

And I'm not just talking about the hope of smaller jeans.

1 Corinthians 15:19
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

February 26, 2011

Every Party Has Its Thorn

It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since I began the pursuit to lose weight and victories such as the one I had last night are still so important to me. One might think (I would have thought) that by now going to a party and being able to control myself would be easy. Well, it's not.

A few weeks ago I went to a different party. I took my healthy food contribution which stuck out like a sore thumb compared to all the other delectable items. All of my favorites were there: sausage balls, cheese dip, spinach artichoke dip (hot and cold varieties), hot ham and cheese sandwiches with buttery mustard topping...okay I'll stop. But you get the idea!?

I went in there thinking I got this and left thinking I SO don't "got this." You know the term falling off the wagon? Well, I actually jumped off head first and dove into the stone cold ground of gorging. Ouch. (literally--I was up most of the night. Ugh.) That jump, which would have been a catalyst for giving up in the past, was just a brief albeit painful reminder that I am what I am by the grace of God. I have not arrived. And I need those reminders.

I should not be surprised because I have already established that the thorn in my side will probably always be an inclination toward over-eating. That is a far better than what I used to think my thorn was! <---One of my all time favorite posts.

But it's still a pesky thorn and it is ever before me. (Psalm 51:3) I'm not sure why I think I'm going to wake up one day and just be done with it. God has already assured me that His grace is sufficient. God is in the restoration business. That's WHO He is. I just need to accept it happens on his timetable, not mine.

Now, back to last night's party. It went great! Safe and secure inside the wagon all night long! I had a HUGE salad on the way to the party. The Lord had provided this for me (my "way out" 1 Corinthians 10:13) just about an hour before we left. My mom had leftovers from a luncheon and brought the beautiful veggie-ful salad to me. I ate it on the way and then when I got there, I focused on people.

I realized that it would have been difficult for me to focus on people a year ago because I was so self-conscious. I wouldn't be able to strike up a conversation for lack of confidence. I would have been focused on my own awkwardness and discomfort. I'm sure my jeans would have been too tight. I would have wanted to sit down and hide away but the waist band would be cutting into my skin so I would be forced to stand. I would be thinking that every one was looking at how gross I was. I would have ended up doing the thing that has always been able to take my mind off of all those things--eat.


My clothes fit. The jeans (size 10 , lest you forget) were even a tad bit loose! It was easy to sit down. It was easy to focus on others because I wasn't focused on myself. I was even able to eat a single mini cupcake and a single chicken fajita. And to see the Lord's hand in all of this just brings an overflow of gratitude and joy from my heart. Why would I want to take my mind off of that!?

Now, I have to leave you with this powerful Tullian Tchividjian post from January 22 about Slavery and Freedom...

“In my book Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, I make the point that ‘those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs’ (Jonah 2:8). In other words, when we depend on anything smaller than Jesus for justification, love, mercy, cleansing, a new beginning, approval, acceptance, righteousness, and rescue we consign ourselves to ‘the restless futility of bewilderment’ because nothing and no one but Jesus can provide those things we long for most.

I close the book with a story from Civil War days before America’s slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, ‘You’re free.’

With amazement she responded, ‘You mean, I’m free to do whatever I want?’

‘Yes,’ he said.

‘And to say whatever I want to say?’

‘Yes, anything.’

‘And to be whatever I want to be?’


‘And even go wherever I want to go?’

‘Yes,’ he answered with a smile. ‘You’re free to go wherever you’d like.’

She looked at him intently and replied, ‘Then I will go with you.’

Jesus has come to the slave market. He came to us there because we could not go to him. He came and purchased us with his blood so we would no longer be a slave to sin but a slave to Christ—which is the essence of freedom. And now there’s no freer place to be in life than going with him—with the one who is himself our true liberty.

Remember: In the person of Jesus Christ, God came into this world, not to strip away our freedom, but to strip away our slavery to self so that we could be truly free.”

I always thought a healthy lifestyle would strip away something that I cherished in my life--food. And so I resisted it. I I ran from that lifestyle, just as I have run from the grace of God for much of my life. I have run from a list of do's and don'ts that I knew I would never be able to keep up with, on both accounts. When a person like me thinks there is no way to be perfect at something, it is natural to just run (or sit, as the case may be).

We need to realize this very important thing: We CAN'T be perfect. There, the pressure is gone! Perfection is an impossibility; it's off the table. Now, there are boundaries, guidelines, restrictions and requirements to be found on the pathway to health as well as the pathway to Christ. But they are not to be grasped, rather to be reached for. I surrender to reaching along the path of righteousness. Yeah, I guess you could say I'm a slave.

But make no mistake--I. AM. FREE.

Romans 6:19-23
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

February 23, 2011

February 21, 2011

Something New

I'm trying out a new app on my phone that let's me post blogs on the go. It's called Blogpress. I guess I will decide how I like it after I post this.

Here is the photo test. Me at the outlet mall today. Bought a cute little sundress at Gap outlet, size medium. (another test)

It has been so beautiful and warm and SUNNY here the past few days. It has really helped with getting my half marathon training going. As I finished my 4 mile "long" run for the week on Sunday it kind of took my breath away to realize I was only 1/3 of the way done with a half marathon. I thought There is no way I will ever be able to run 13-something miles. No way.

You know what they call that? Stinkin' Thinkin!

That's the same thing I thought about being able to run a whole mile just a few days before I did it. That's the same thing I thought about being able to run a 5k a few weeks before I did it. That's the same thing I thought about being able to maintain a healthy life style long enough to escape obesity just about a year before I did it. No way.

Well, turns out I was wrong all those other times and chances are--I'm wrong about this, too. The pattern points to success so I'm just going to keep putting in the miles and trust the process, as Jillian says.

Okay. Time to publish and see what I think about this new app...no spell check, sorry!

February 16, 2011

Weigh In: .8 lb Loss

168.8 lbs (What happened to my arm?)

A loss! I'm doing the happy dance! Yes, it's a .8 lb loss. I figured Why not count every little bit since it's pretty slow going around here? Slow as it may be, I am very happy, or perhaps content is a better word, with the rate I am losing. I know that this is doable.

Many days I am tempted to go crazy with calorie counting, look for other options, etc. but then I settle down and remember that this is just my life. I know I am eating a healthy and balanced diet. I am exercising regularly. This feels right. So what if I'm not losing 2 or 3 lbs a week anymore? What's another year or two of losing going to hurt me? I have the rest of my life to maintain.

Thought of the day:

Change is not an event, it is a process. Trust me on that.

NSVs (in photos)

Did 30 minutes of cross-training by walking uphill with a 55 lb son on my back. Good times:)

Had a wonderful Valentines Day complete with flowers.

Tied an apron in the front as I cooked soup this weekend. I've always wanted to be able to tie my apron in front like Giada. Now if I could just get my boobs balanced and perky Italian pasta names down. Gosh.

February 10, 2011

How To: Recipe Makeovers

One way to continue eating some foods that we love, but maybe aren't so healthy, is to modify recipes. This can sometimes seem very complicated but it's really not.

Another skill that everyone needs to have is the ability to figure out per-serving nutritional information, for these recipes. Although I am really bad at math, I think I have a handle on how to do this and thought I would share.

I am converting a soup recipe for a FP4H gathering tomorrow night. I've never made this one before but I love to eat it at Olive Garden--the Zuppa Toscana Soup. It's the one with sausage and potatoes, yum! I found the "original recipe" online and it seems pretty legit.

Original Ingredients

*1 lb ground Italian sausage
1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
2 tsp garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
*1 cup heavy cream
*1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
*¼ of a bunch of kale

Okay, so what I did was first go down the list and highlighted in pink the items that I know are on my "junk list" so that I could come up with a suitable replacement. Full fat pork sausage is not really something that any of us need. Neither is heavy cream. *sniff, sniff* Second I went down the list and highlighted in blue the things that I needed to and/or could alter the amounts. I want a LOT of that kale and don't need quite as many potatoes to get the effect I am going for. So now we have:

Made-over Ingredients

[700] *1 lb Butterball Sweet Italian sausage links (remove casings)
[none] 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
[none] 1 large diced white onion
[100] 4 Tbsp bacon pieces (Hormel Real Bacon Bits)
[none] 2 tsp garlic puree
[none] 10 cups water
[50] 5 cubes of chicken bouillon
[152] *1 cup fat free half &half (Did you know that was even a thing!?)

[300] *1/2 lb chopped Russet potatoes, or about 2 small potatoes (chop smaller for better distribution)
[100] *1 whole bunch of kale
(doesn't just mean a lot, you know--it grows in "a Bunch" ;)

1.Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
2.In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
3.Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
4.Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5.Add the half &half and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6.Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. Delicious!
*Serves 8

Now, for the calorie part...you might have noticed that I added a number inside brackets beside each ingredient on the made-over list. That is the number of calories in the entire called-for amount of each ingredient. You can figure that by looking at the labels or using a website such as Calorie King, like I did. Then you add the total number of calories in the ENTIRE recipe (yes it will be a lot) and divide by the number it serves, which in this case is 8.

So I took the total number of calories in this recipe [1250], divided by the number of servings [8] which = [apx. 155 calories]

So this amazing soup is going to be 155 calories per serving. The trickiest part is figuring out how much an actual serving is. Casseroles, etc. will be easy because you can cut them into pieces and know exactly the right amount. For instance, if this soup could be cut up, I would just cut it into 8 equal pieces and know that is one serving. Since this is a liquid with solids in it, I will have to make the recipe and divide it equally into 8 bowls. Then I will measure the amount from one of the bowls to know the serving size.

I know that seems very complicated, but once it's done the first time it never has to be done again. Just make sure to write it down somewhere!

**Update**Thanks to a very helpful comment, we have a less messy way to do this ( I knew there had to be one!)

From Tina: To figure out how much a portion is on pot meals...with less dishes (ha ha)...is take my 4 cup measurer and 1 extra large bowl...scoop out until I know how many cups are total. I make that total of portions...so 1 cup is always a portion for me, and easy to scoop with a measuring cup to serve.

***Note, the calories I figured for this soup with 8 servings will probably not be accurate using the 1 c. serving method:

Okay. I think that covers it. I know some of you are thinking--DUH. Sorry. Some people probably haven't figured this out yet, though. It was a good review for me anyway...

Please feel free to share links to your posts of recipe make-overs! I will be sure to let you know how this Zuppa Toscana turns out.


P.S. Just went back and figured up calories in the original recipe--this modifications saves us about 150 calories per serving!!! It's worth it!

February 9, 2011

Weigh In: 1.5 lb. Gain

171 lbs.

Am I shocked? No! This is pretty typical. I will bounce up and down on the 170s/160s border for a few weeks, I'm sure. There were plenty of challenges last week as we were trapped inside for 4 days straight! I did good for the first 3 days but the last day I started to slack off. Then we had a Super-Bowl/Birthday party on Sunday and I made the decision to eat whatever I wanted. I don't really have any strong feelings one way or the other about the decision. I would probably still weigh 169.6 this week if I hadn't done that but it's not worth beating myself up over.

Even though I brought this gain on myself, I have been thinking about the weigh-ins where we do everything we can and still--no loss. That's tough. When you try so hard and at the end of the week there is nothing on the scale to show for it, that can be a devastating and debilitating feeling. The quicker you can get past it, the better.

I've been at this for over a year now and the weeks I stayed the same or gained probably out-number the weeks I've lost. I'd venture to say that is the norm.I think I have finally gotten used to the feeling you get when you don't lose. I can finally say that. Since I am committed to a lifetime of eating this way, it seems kind of silly to get mad about one week's weigh-in anymore. It's about Persistence--NOT Perfection!

It can be a roller coaster, no doubt about it. As long as I am moving forward (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually)though, I am happy to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

NSV's for the week:
  • I committed to run a half-marathon in May!!!
  • Learning so much about the GRACE of God in my Bible study.
  • Focused on renewal of my mind--memorized 5 verses of scripture, becoming ever-dependent on my time in The Word.
  • Got to see my FP4H girls last night even though bad weather tried to keep us from meeting.


Update on Lilly

This is Lilly. I am praying for her this afternoon as she is visiting a doctor (oncologist) to get some answers about a tumor that was found in her leg. Will you join me?

Lilly is in the 3-year-old class that I help teach at our church on Sunday mornings. She is a little burst of sunshine. The sweetest thing Lilly does is that anytime we ask a question, no matter what it is, she always answers with an emphatic, "JESUS!" So in keeping with Lilly's example, my prayer is that no matter what uncertainty, no matter what questions may arise for this sweet family that the over-powering answer for them will always be JESUS.

Lord--please cover this family in your grace today. Fill Miss Lilly with courage and strength as she goes to the doctor. Give mom and dad peace and courage as well. I pray that you will show yourself strong to all who are watching and waiting. We are trusting you! Amen.

***Update--Yesterday at the doctor's office they re-did Lilly's X-rays and did blood work. The orthopedic, radiologist and oncologist could not diagnose. Lilly will have an MRI Monday and another appointment on Tuesday with oncologist. Please keep praying if you will--that all will cling to God's grace for each day--He is in the waiting. Thank you, sweet friends! I will keep you posted on Lilly.

February 7, 2011

Putting It Out There

I have made a big decision.

This is a big decision for me because what I am committing to is a LOT of... commitment for a girl like me. Someone who never finishes what she starts. Someone who has almost zero self-discipline. Someone who is really partial to the snooze button. Someone who is actually pretty weak underneath her new size 10 clothes...

With all of these strikes against me, I've had some serious inner-debate going on. Should I? Could I? Would I?

But as I was talking to an old pal tonight the answer became perfectly clear to me. It really goes back to what my whole "journey" has been about from the very beginning. Doing the thing that is impossible for me to do. Doing the thing that, when completed, has no plausible explanation other than God.

So, yeah. I'm going for it. I've got my 12 week plan and I'm ready to get started training for my first Half Marathon!

I'm just putting it out there...

February 3, 2011

My Man Asked for CFS

Chicken-fried Steak. It was his birthday and he wanted some. I haven't cooked it in over a year. Wanna know why? CFS is a tenderized cut of meat called cube steak. In order to "chicken fry" it you dip it in flour and then an egg/milk mixture, then back into flour and then you fry it in vegetable oil. It is often served with gravy and other fattening sides such as mashed potatoes (and they aren't mixed with cauliflower or made with chicken broth). Probably one of the top ten most unhealthy meals ever. But ohhhh, is it good! If I had to choose a last meal--this would be it.

Confession: I ate Chicken-fried steak tonight. It has been over a year since I have made or eaten CFS. It was really fine. I had two small pieces but I hadn't had much protein or fat for the day. I had some whole grain brown rice and green beans to go with it. I passed on the homemade, to-die-for chocolate pie and banana pudding made by my mother-in-law. I wasn't stressed about what I would or wouldn't eat. I didn't have to make a big deal out of not having dessert. It was just a normal dinner only we were celebrating my love. He was definitely happy and he deserved whatever meal he wanted today.

Only recently did it dawn on me that this man never, not once, has ever said a thing about my weight. Nothing negative about my body, my bad habits, lack of good habits, my poor attitude...nothing...ever. That really blows my mind. I know when we married we made a commitment to one another and it was for better or worse and in good and bad and all that. But over the past 9 years I have really put him to the test. And can I just tell you? He passed.

What makes me feel really horrible (and like a total jerk) is when I think about how I would have reacted if he had been the one to let himself go. I would have been nagging and complaining non-stop for 9 years. I would have been impatient and rude. I would have been...heck, I would have been embarrassed. Resentment, anyone? Let's just say it would NOT have been pretty!

Just keepin' it real...

You know what this is? This is another one of the copious, and perhaps the most cherished example of God's grace in my life. As good a guy as he is, the grace of God is the only explanation for the unabashed love Justin has always shown me. He could not have done that in his own flesh. There's no way.

I have been undeservedly, unconditionally and relentlessly loved by this man. Even in my weaknesses, he has always accepted me. Not only has he accepted me--he has pursued me.

Why on earth? I have no idea, but it kinda makes that whole "submission" thing an easier pill to swallow ;)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:21-25

Happy 30th Justin! I promise to spend the next 30 holding up my end of the deal.

All my love,

February 2, 2011

Getting the Family on Board

Complaining, gagging, eyes rolling--every time you cook up a new and healthy meal. Sound familiar? This kind of response to our new way of eating is not uncommon. Sometimes the frustration and discouragement that builds from the negative attitudes around us may seem like good reasons to quit. Don't.

There are always excuses for me to give up. Daily it seems there are roadblocks, detours, etc. But I know that a healthy lifestyle is the right thing for me and my family. Ultimately I have to figure out a way around these obstacles. In the past I would quit way too easily, but patience and adaptability have become my friends. There are ways to compromise and slowly (but surely) get your entire family on board with a healthier way of life.

Here are some suggestions:

Don't be unreasonable--Just because the light has come on for you doesn't mean it has for everyone else in your family. They may not be ready to make the change yet. Nagging and scolding someone about their lifestyle and eating habits (ones that until very recently you SHARED) will likely have an adverse affect. Focus on you, not them.

Ask for help-- Have a heart-to-heart with the ones who don't seem to understand what you are doing. Share your goals. Let them know that you are serious and explain how important a strong support system is for your success. Together, make a list of a few specific things that the other person/people can do to help you along your journey. A little communication will go a long way.

Stay Committed--Make sure you are in this 100%. Once others realize that you are serious and fully committed to this (not just another one of your diets) they will be more likely to support you in any way that they can. Your example will also be the best way to encourage others toward a healthier lifestyle. Actions speak louder than words--so make sure you are giving it your all.

Research Substitutes--Look for new and creative ways to cook foods that your family loves! Some easy and hardly noticeable changes to make are:

  • Skim milk instead of 2% or Whole
  • Whole wheat bread instead of white/enriched breads (look at first ingredient)
  • Whole wheat pasta instead of regular
  • Fresh veggies instead of canned
  • Extra lean ground beef instead of higher fat ground beef
  • 2%(or lower) cheeses instead of regular
  • Parkay butter spray instead of regular butter
  • Natural peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter
  • baked proteins instead of fried
  • fruit canned in natural juice instead of heavy syrup

Also try substituting healthier ingredients in the recipes that your family loves. You don't have to go buy a new cookbook. (Although you certainly could!) Just find a couple of ingredients in your prized recipe to sub with a healthier option.

Offer options/variety--Remember that this is not a lifestyle that can be adopted by all, overnight. You may need to accommodate other family members by preparing some of their old-favorites from time to time and (GASP)--refrain from eating them! You can also experiment with making a "base meal" and offering several different sides, sauces, etc. For example: My family likes pasta with chicken and Alfredo sauce. We prepare the chicken and whole wheat pasta separately. For the husband and kids we add a jar of Alfredo sauce. To my pasta and chicken I add some prepared frozen vegetables and a tsp. of pesto. This is hardly any extra prep for me and everyone is happy! Of course the Alfredo sauce is not the healthiest, they are still getting the whole grains and a lean protein.

Make it fun--The way a healthy diet is introduced to your family is up to you. If you come across negatively or unhappy about the foods you are eating, how can you expect everyone else to be on board? Find ways to make this change fun. Put a positive spin on it:

  • Let the whole family participate in making your meals.
  • Look through magazines/online for healthy recipes with your family.
  • Make it look "fancy"--presentation is everything!
  • Offer healthy snacks throughout the day in fun ways--specials containers, in a fun place, etc.
  • Try new things as a family!
  • Make family dinner a fun time--more about the relationships, less about the food

Don't feel sorry for yourself--I think this is the most important thing. A healthy way of eating is not a punishment. Don't allow negative self talk. Don't focus on what you can't have. Don't let others talk you back into unhealthy habits. When you see others eating unhealthy things that you used to enjoy, just take a minute to be thankful that you are changing. You are doing the very best thing for yourself by taking steps toward a healthier you. That is something to celebrate--not pout about.

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to share ways you have successfully included family and friends in your journey!

February 1, 2011

Getting to Know the NFP

NFP stands for Nutirtion Facts Panel. For those of us who truly want to change our way of life forever, understanding how to read and apply the information on the NFP is super important.

For a long time I would just look up the foods I wanted to eat in a little guide that was provided for me. It was really helpful because I could choose the foods that were deemed "healthy" and I knew that I was making a good choice without having to do much thinking. These types of resources can be very helpful in the intial stages of weight loss, as nutrition can be a very overwhelming science to tackle.

However, without understanding the reasoning behind my healthy choices, I was doing myself no favors. It's kind of like a phenomenon I have discovered with my children. If I just tell them to do something without any explanation as to why, they have a hard time being motivated to do it. But when I explain the WHY (And yes, I am fully aware that I am not obligated to explain the why to my kids! Lol!) behind what I am asking them to do, they are usually much more willing to cooperate.


Becoming educated on the "why" of the foods we should be consuming is not only our responsibility, but it puts us in a position of control rather than one of just following rules because some book "says so." There is a certain freedom in that.

Okay, enough teacher/preacher talk. Grab something with a NFP on it (so you can follow along)and settle in. Here are some practical and easy-to-understand tips for making the most of the NFP :

  • Look for items with fewest ingredients and ingredients you can pronounce!
  • Look for key words: whole-wheat flour, soy and oats, oil, canola, peanut oil
  • Avoid key word: Hydrogenated
Serving Size
  • Be aware of the number of servings in a particular food. Sometimes foods come two servings to a single package. Pop Tarts and Little Debbie snacks are examples of this--just avoid those all together though. Cans of tuna and canned fruit are a couple of examples that may trick you.
  • Divide the "Calories from Fat" by the total "Calories" and multiply that number by 100. This is the Percentage of Calories from Fat. For the most part you will want this number to be 35% or less. For the most part.
  • Compare the calories per serving to the nutrients they offer. Choose the most nutrient-dense foods you can.
Percentage Daily Value (%DV)
  • Remember two important percentages: 5% and 20%. 5% is considered low and 20% is considered high.
  • For the "good" nutrients (fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron) you want to see the number be 20% or higher.
  • For the "not so good" nutrients (fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium) you want to see the number be 5% or lower.
Total Fat
  • There are up to 4 subcategories under "Total Fat"
  • 20% to 35% of your diet should come from healthy fats (mono-, polyunsaturated)
  • Just because a food is labeled "low-fat", "reduced-fat", or "light" does not automatically make it healthy. Check the over-all nutrition of the item by analyzing the NFP. Sugar and calories are often higher in such products.
  • Saturated fats are one of the "not so good" nutrients you want to be 5% DV or less in a product. Saturated fat is one of the worst things for your health and it adds up fast. Be AWARE.
  • Trans Fat: "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" are RED ALERT words. Do not consume.
  • Our body makes enough cholesterol on its own; you don't need more than 300 mg per day.
  • Cholesterol is found in organs (which are low-fat, incidentally), meats, poultry, dairy, shellfish, egg yolks
  • Foods of Plant origin (read: VEGETABLES!!) contain no cholesterol. Eat in abundance.


  • High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure and hypertension
  • Look for key words: "low sodium" or "sodium free"
  • Another nutrient to look for 5%DV or less


  • Fiber lowers cholesterol, keeps your gut happy and fills you up!
  • Daily goal fiber intake is 21g to 38g
  • Whole grains are an awesome choice for fiber.
  • Fruits and vegetables also provide a great source of fiber. If you are cutting back on your grains, make sure to up your fruits and/or veggies!
  • Added sugars (brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltose, sucrose, sugar, or syrup...to name a few) = EMPTY CALORIES. Avoid these.
Vitamins and Minerals
  • Goal is to consume 100% of each of the vitamin and mineral nutrients daily
  • By selecting a variety of nutrient-dense foods, you can achieve the proper intake of most vitamins and minerals without needing supplements
If you are still reading--good for you! This is not rocket science. A little overwhelming, yes, but with some practice and study we can all be well-educated and in complete control of the foods we are consuming. Taking ownership and responsibility for our health is a huge step toward a life-long change. Take the step!