Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekly Goals for November 30th -- December 6th

I'm finally over the flu! -- just in time, as I've got a belly dance performance on December 20th. I maintained my weight over the Thanksgiving holiday, but with the house all decorated for Christmas, it's not easy getting back on track with weight loss. Nevertheless...

1) Drink 3 L H2O daily!

2) Work out for 1 hour every day: practice dance for performance/new steps for 1/2 hour daily; do 1/2 hour of cardio daily

3) Breathe every hour

4) Planner/Praise every day

So...what are your goals for this week? If you're looking to lose weight, how can you step it up a notch? If your plan is maintenance, how will you stay on track? Let us know :)!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thinking About Thanksgiving, Part II

"Gluttony and surfeiting are no proper occasions for thanksgiving." -- Charles Lamb

I'm sorry I wasn't able to post on Friday. I've been wrestling with the flu for over a week now! I'm feeling much better, and I'm ready to follow up on last Wednesday's post, in which we discussed some of the hazards that often trip people up during the Thanksgiving season. Today, let's consider some ways to make this a more successful Thanksgiving from a weight management perspective:

1) Focus on the journey, rather than on perfection. People often set themselves up for food failure with goals like, "This will be the year I eat only 1,200 calories the whole day!" Instead of setting an arbitrary goal based on what you wish was true for you, reflect back on last year. Set a goal that's both realistic--something you know you can do--and an improvement over what you did last year.

As the day progresses, your small successes add up, both nutritionally and psychically. Ironically, but not surprisingly, I've had many clients return to the office after the Thanksgiving holiday saying, "Donna! This was the first time I ever planned to eat 2,500 calories--and I actually ate just 1,200 like I've always wanted to!" Even if you do eat 2,500 calories, that's so much better than 3,500 calories--and you can use the same tool to improve a little bit more next Thanksgiving.

2) Interestingly, although food is a major focus for people during the holiday season, most people eat without really enjoying the food! Don't let that happen to you. When you're eating, really pay attention to how the food tastes. Pretend you're a food critic! Put your fork down between each bite, put your hands in your lap, and describe the food in your mind. Challenge yourself to make mental notes that are memorable enough so that when you have a moment, you can come back here and share with us what you ate and how it tasted!

3) One oft-overlooked element of holiday season weight management is exercise. People often think, "I can't keep up with my usual workout. Oh well! I guess I won't work out at all."

Yikes! If you don't have time, space, or energy to follow through with your usual workout, that doesn't mean you have to eliminate activity altogether. Instead, focus on getting as much activity as you reasonably can. If you can't go to the gym for an hour, try a half-hour. If you can't make it to the gym, try going for a walk or picking up a new exercise video. Go outside and toss around the football, play tag with the kids, or take the dog for a longer-than-usual walk. Don't worry about whether it's enough. Instead, ask yourself, "How can I do just a little bit more?"

I'm thankful for many things--among them this opportunity to connect with each of you here, and share our weight management challenges, successes, and experiences. Thank you for being a part of my weight loss journey, and allowing me to be a part of yours! Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day. See you next week!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's Up? Tuesday

That's right, it's Tuesday already. That means it's your turn to take the floor! How're things going for you this week? Have you enjoyed a success? Hit a plateau? Or maybe you've just got a question. Either way, it's all good. We're all here for education, encouragement and support, so please don't be shy--grab the mic and speak up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekly Goals for November 23 -- November 29

I'm still recovering from being sick and having a sick child at home last week, so my weight management goals will be modest this week:

1) Drink 3 liters of plain water every day!!

2) No PM TV -- go to bed instead!

3) Spend 15 minutes in planner every day

4) Planner praise

5) Walk with kids, housecleaning, rehearse for December performance

As always, if you'd like a little accountability or encouragement with your weight management goals this week, please post 'em!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Pasta in Garlic-Walnut Sauce

Here's another recipe that, like last week's recipe, calls for 6 ounces of silken tofu. It's very different from the Seafood Linguine, so you can easily enjoy them both in the same week.

Pasta in Garlic-Walnut Sauce

Serve this smooth-and-creamy pasta dish with grilled chicken or steak, with poached or grilled salmon, or place small fully cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp in the strainer before draining the pasta.


1 pound pasta (bow ties or linguine work well)
6 ounces silken tofu
1/4 cup 1% milk (or 1/4 cup water and 1 tablespoon oil, butter or margarine)
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
3/4 cup finely shredded strongly-flavored Italian cheese (or a blend),
such as Asiago, Parmignano, or Reggiano
1 cup walnut halves
1 teaspoon chopped parsley (or parsley flakes)
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper


Prepare pasta according to manufacturer's directions. Drain and set aside.

Combine tofu and milk in blender and puree until very smooth.

Microwave garlic for about 1 minute, or until just fragrant. Add garlic, cheese, walnut halves, parsley and pepper to blender, and combine until well-blended.

Combine pasta and sauce in large bowl, and stir to coat pasta.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are You Thinking About Thanskgiving?

"Thanksgiving is possible only for those who take time to remember; no one can give thanks who has a short memory." -- Author Unknown

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for many people, the thought of turkey and all the trimmings brings up not feelings of thankfulness, but fear and shame. Many people come up with interesting schemes to restrict calories, often with unfortunate consequences. Here are some common scenarios I've heard over the years:

"I nibble as I cook...and then I sit down at the table stuffed."

"I can't help nibbling on the appetizers...and then I'm stuffed before the turkey and trimmings arrive, and end up eating dinner anyway."

"I starve myself all day long..then stuff myself at dinner. My stomach hurts for hours."

"I plan ahead to overeat, and I always end up feeling sick for a day or two, but it's okay because I starve myself for a few days before."

"I behave myself while everyone's at the table...but then I eat the kids' leftovers as I clean up and put everything away."

"I behave while everyone's at the table...but sneak into the fridge later, just to have a bite, since I was so good while I was eating and everyone else was stuffing themselves."

One thing these scenarios often have in common is a desire to do weight management perfectly. Some people restrict calories before Thanksgiving day; others aim for not eating until dinnertime; while others expect themselves to behave while everyone's watching.

Whichever route people choose, it's unfortunate. The truth of weight management is that you don't have to do weight management perfectly--you have to do it consistently.

So, instead of planning ahead to do it perfectly this year, I encourage you to plan ahead to stay reasonably consistent with what you're currently doing now to lose or maintain your weight. I'll offer some specifics on Friday (sorry for the Blogger's Surprise spoiler!), but until then, I encourage you to consider looking back on previous Thanksgivings. Ask yourself these questions:

* What usually happens with food on Thanksgiving?

* Why?

* What one thing could I do differently this year that would make the biggest difference?

I'm wishing you an abundance of health and happiness this holiday season. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's New? Tuesday

It's that time of week again--it's your turn! Today's the day I set aside for you to share, so if you've enjoyed a success, experienced a challenge, have a question or a suggestion, please post away!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekly Goals for November 16 - November 22

I'm feeling a little congested this morning, and unfortunately, being less-than-healthy coincides with a busy week work-wise. So I'm modifying my goals slightly:

1) Spend 15 minutes in planner planning; continue with planner praise every day

2) Drink 3 liters H2O daily!!

3) Practice t'ai chi chuan breathing (3 reps) every hour

4) Exercise daily -- Monday belly dance routine/new steps; Tuesday routine/new steps or Wii tennis; Wednesday "Fat Burning" belly dance vid; Thursday Wii tennis; Friday run; Saturday gym; Sunday run

As always, if you'd like some accountability or support for your weight management goals this week, please post them below! And now, if you'll excuse me...I gotta get to 'em :)!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blogger's Surprise: New Book, New Video

I've had a happy, productive week, but it's been unusually busy. That's in part because I stopped by the library with my kids on Monday, and checked out an excellent book and an excellent video.

I've been interested in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's ideas about flow, sometimes called "being in the zone," or as he refers to it, optimal experience, for a while. I'm sorry I didn't follow up sooner! His book "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" is an outstanding book for anyone, but I particularly recommend it for anyone who struggles with weight management.

In the book, Csikszentmihaly (pronounced, according to the author, "Chicks-send-me-high") explains what flow is and how it is created. Using these ideas, it's relatively easy to create more flow in your own life.

I've been experimenting with it this week, with extremely good results. When you have more flow, you need less "nurturing" from food or other activities that keep you from following through on your weight management goals. It's also wildly empowering to plan ahead for flow -- and then experience it. That said, it can be overwhelming to find a lot of happiness all at once, so if you read the book and start creating more flow, consider pacing yourself!

I've also been interested in t'ai chi for a while. I took a t'ai chi class last year and I loved it, but I didn't continue on with t'ai chi because I couldn't find a video that supported what I learned in class.

I'm happy to say that Bill Douglas' video "T'ai Chi & QiGong: The Prescription for the Future" has me back in the groove of t'ai chi. Douglas' manner is casual and pleasant, and he explains both the hows and whys of the various exercises. My children (ages 7, 8, and 10) were able to follow his directions for the first three steps of the t'ai chi routine with very little coaching, and Douglas' tips make it easy to remember them, too. Here's a clip from the video:

You'll need to look for the second and third videos (which I haven't seen yet) to learn the complete routine, but the video is well worth the viewing just for the relaxation, breathing, and stretching exercises and suggestions that are provided.

If you check out the video or the book, I'd love to hear what you think of them. Let us know :)! Here's to a relaxing weekend of optimal health and happiness!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Seafood Linguine in Tomato-Caper Cream Sauce

In my online cooking class, we spend some time experimenting with tofu. One of the most popular of my tofu-based recipes is Fettuccine Tofredo, which uses tofu as a replacement for cream in the sauce. Students are so enamored with the recipe they often ask for more tofu-based cream sauce recipes.

So, by request, here's a recipe for tomato cream sauce that's tofu-based. If you've never tinkered with tofu before, don't be intimidated! If you have questions--and students in my online class usually do--feel free to ask. I'm happy to help!

If you're wondering what to do with the other half of that package of tofu, wait until next week to prepare this recipe. I'll publish a recipe for Garlic-Walnut Sauce that also calls for 6 ounces of silken tofu next Thursday.

If you can't wait, check out these Web sites for more info on what to do with tofu. These are my two favorite brands of tofu, so if you're looking for tofu for the first time, I suggest checking out their sites so you know what you're looking for:



Now...Let's get cookin'!

Seafood Linguine in Tomato-Caper Cream Sauce

This elegant recipe uses silken tofu as its base. For a more classic flavor, substitute a heart-healthy margarine or butter for the olive oil.


1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon capers
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 ounces (about ½ package) silken tofu (preferably Mori-Nu or House brand)
½ cup fat-free milk
2 dashes ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground peppercorn
1 pound fully cooked, shelled and deveined small shrimp


Prepare linguine according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and capers and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir well. Reduce heat to low.

Puree tofu and milk until very smooth. Add pureed tofu, cayenne, and pepper to tomato mixture and stir well. Add cooked linguine and shrimp, combine, and cook until shrimp is just heated through.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Do Low-Carb Diets Make You Grumpy?

I have many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and if I were my own client, I'd guess that a lower-carb diet would be more effective than a lower-fat diet. And yet, the reverse is true for me. When I tried the South Beach Diet with my husband, he lost weight rapidly and felt great while on the diet. Meanwhile, I was cranky and fatigued--and I didn't lose a single pound in a month!

So I was delighted to see this article heading in my e-mail this week:

Low-Fat Diet Makes People Less Angry Than Low-Carb, Study Says

The study found that people lost the same amount of weight on the low-carb and low-fat diets, but people on the low-carb diet were more likely to be angry, depressed, and confused. They weren't sure why, but observed that perhaps people were so acclimated to the carbs in a typical Western diet that they suffered withdrawls when they switched to the low-carb diet.

I think that's pretty unlikely, as the typical eating pattern has been carbohydrate-based for centuries (Native American and Native Alaskan diets being exceptions to the rule). And there's ample research to suggest the carbohydrate-based Mediterranean diet is a healthier (and perhaps, happier!) long-term alternative to lower-carb eating.

I probably shouldn't be so pleased by a study's results when the researchers fail to acknowledge that perhaps they saw these results because ketosis is a non-natural body state. The possibility that some people's bodies feel worse when they're in ketosis, or work harder to get out of ketosis, is a more logical reason low-carb diets make some people cranky than the possibility that they're addicted to carbs.

Nevertheless, the study backs up the perspective I share in my online class. Weight loss is about eating more healthfully, moving more, adequate hydration, getting enough rest, managing stress, etc. How you decide to eat more healthfully should be based on how you feel and how you fare when you change your diet's structure--not on the latest trendy diet.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's New? Tuesday

Tuesday is the day I've set aside for you to share what's new with you. Do you have a success to share, or a challenge to overcome? Feel free to tell us all about it!

At the very least, you're taking a step forward in your journey toward health and happiness as you surf my blog. Congratulations, and keep up the good work :)!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekly Goals for November 9 -- November 15, 2009

So far, so good. More of the same...onward march!

1) Drink 3 liters of water 5 days; 2 liters of water 2 days

2) Exercise every day (Monday Wii tennis, Tuesday dance class, Wednesday run, Thursday Wii tennis, Friday - Sunday run or dance video)

3) Get to bed by 11 PM -- begin bedtime routine at 10:30 PM

4) Practice breathing exercises before meals

5) Keep up the good work with planner praise :)!

As always, if you'd like a little accountability or support with your weight management goals for the week, feel free to post 'em below, then update us next week.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Blogger's Surprise: Joys of the Mediterranean Market

Last week I posted the recipe for "Indian Chicken with Sweet Potatoes." One of the more exotic ingredients is garam masala, an Indian spice blend. I've seen garam masala a few times in the spice section of larger grocery stores, but not often. The recipe also incorporates ginger, an ingredient that I know from my online class "Luscious, Low-Fat, Lightning-Quick Meals" can be challenging to find.

If you're looking for either of these ingredients, I encourage you to consider heading out to your local Mediterranean market. I used to think Mediterranean meant Italian. Italy is indeed bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, but so are several other countries, including Spain, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt. India isn't on the list of Mediterranean countries, but you're more likely to find garam masala at your ethnic market than at the grocery store.

At a recent trip to my favorite Mediterranean market, I ran across something I'd never seen before--dried gingerroot. Years ago, bottled minced ginger--similar to bottled minced garlic--was widely available and reasonably priced. In the past few years, however, it's become difficult to find (and pricey when I do find it, unless it's on sale). Fresh gingerroot isn't difficult to use--just wash it off and mince or shred it--but it lasts about a week in the fridge, and my favorite grocery store doesn't stock it.

So, I bought a good-sized bag of dried gingerroot for under $3. After experimenting a bit, I've settled on microplaning it and using it 1/2 dried:1 fresh. It's inexpensive, convenient, easy to use, provides that delightfully unique sweet-hot ginger flavor, and lasts indefinitely. What's not to love?

I enjoy hearing about others' adventures at local markets almost as much as I enjoy adventuring myself, so if you've been to your local ethnic market and found something interesting or unusual, I'd love to hear about it! Have a wonderful weekend, and happy cooking!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Greek Salmon with Orzo

Greek Salmon with Orzo

I developed this recipe when experimenting with orzo for the first time. Orzo is rice-shaped pasta associated with Greece, so I went with a Greek flavor profile. It makes about 10 cups, so if you're cooking for 1 or 2, you may wish to halve the recipe.


1 (1-pound) package orzo
1 pound salmon fillets
Water (about 4 cups)
½ cup bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon basil flakes
2 teaspoons oregano flakes
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 (6-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
1 (6-ounce) can black olives, halved or sliced
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water


Prepare orzo, following manufacturer’s instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, place salmon in large skillet. Add enough water to just cover. Add garlic, parsley, basil flakes, oregano, and rosemary to water, and gently stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until salmon is cooked through. Drain and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, drain out garlic and other seasonings and reserve with salmon.

In a small measuring cup, combine vinegar, olive oil, and water. Mix with a fork or whisk to emulsify. To prepare, combine orzo, salmon and seasonings, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, fresh basil, and vinegar mixture in large bowl, breaking up salmon into bite-sized chunks and mixing well to combine.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quote of the Day

"It's not called kidding--it's called parenting." -- Donna Acosta

As children, we learn many things from the people who raise us. Among the most important things we learn are how we should treat others, and how we can expect to be treated by others. We also learn what to expect from life.

If the people who raise us do a reasonably good job, we learn that we treat others with respect, others should treat us with respect, and life is worth living. Unfortunately, many of us had caregivers who weren't especially skilled in these areas...and now you may be treating yourself, or allowing others to treat you, the same way your caregivers did.

So how are you doing with parenting yourself? Do you treat yourself with respect, or do you neglect or indulge yourself? Do you treat others with respect, or do you neglect or indulge others? What do you expect from life? Are your beliefs about life positive or negative?

You can't go back and recapture your childhood, but you can commit to being an excellent parent now. I'm amping up my positive parenting this week by focusing on praise. Every day, as I use my planner, I praise myself. This morning I noted that I completed 15 of the 19 items in my planner list. In the past, I would have focused on the 4 items I didn't complete. Today, I'm complimenting myself on the 15 I did complete.

What can you do to parent yourself more effectively? Do you need to set limits in a more loving way? Be more consistent? Praise yourself for doing a great job, or just for being you? If you take one small step each day toward more effective parenting, you'll see and feel a significant change. Happy parenting :)!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekly Goals for November 2 -- November 8, 2009

I'm shifting focus this week toward weight loss, for several reasons (more on that in a later post). So, here are my goals this week:

1) Drink 3 liters of water 5 days; 2 liters of water 2 days

2) Exercise every day (Monday Wii tennis, Tuesday dance class, Wednesday run, Thursday Wii tennis, Friday - Sunday run or dance video)

3) Get to bed by 10:30 PM -- begin bedtime routine at 10 PM

4) Practice breathing exercises WITH FAMILY before meals

5) Keep up the good work with planner praise :)!

Whew! What are your goals for this week? If you'd like some accountability or support, feel free to share your goals. Don't forget to check back in with us next week, and let us know how it went :).