Monday, March 28, 2011

What Makes for a Happy, Stable Weight...

I recently ran across an article titled "Surprising Findings on What Makes a Happy, Stable Marriage," an overview of a new book by Dr. Terri Orbuch. It caught my eye because my wedding anniversary was a few days away, but as I read the article, I couldn't help but see parallels between what makes a happy, stable marriage, and what makes for a happy, stable weight.

According to the article, Dr. Orbuch suggests couples "focus on what is working, not on what isn't." Focusing on what isn't working is the backbone of the diet mentality. Are you guilty of looking in the mirror and zeroing in on whatever body part you like the least, whether it's your arms, breasts, waistline, stomach, hips, or thighs? Does trying to motivate yourself by feeling bad about yourself really help? I'm willing to bet you'll be far more successful if you look in the mirror and focus on what looks good, and what you're doing right.

I laughed out loud when I read Dr. Orbuch's recommendation, "Do sweat the small stuff." It's all-too-easy to say, "I'll work out twice as long tomorrow..." or "Just one more bite..." Unfortunately, it's all too easy for a little slip to become a big slide.

So...let's sweat the small stuff that makes up successful weight management, like getting enough rest, managing stress, paying attention to hunger and fullness, exercising regularly, and drinking enough water. And don't forget to pay attention to what's beautiful and good about you, notice what you're doing right, and show yourself a little appreciation for all you do!

If you'd like to read more, here's a link to the article on

Surprising Findings on What Makes a Happy, Stable Marriage

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick Chicken Enchiladas

My husband and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday. It’s a long story, but to cut to the chase, he decided I was the one for him after tasting this recipe. He was stunned to discover it was a lowered-fat recipe! If you've taken "Luscious," you know I love making my own sauces and seasonings. Here, I make my own enchilada sauce. But if you prefer, you can use canned enchilada sauce.

Quick Chicken Enchiladas


Cooking spray
2 (14-ounce) cans tomato sauce, divided
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (juice reserved)
2 (12.5-ounce) cans cooked chicken, drained (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 (7-ounce) can sliced olives
1 (7-ounce) can diced green chiles
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
½ teaspoon ground clove, divided
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
10 flour tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 13” x 9” pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can drained diced tomatoes, chicken, olives, chiles, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon clove, and 1/2 cup cheese in large bowl, stirring well to break up chicken into small pieces and combine well. Place about ½ cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla and roll up. Place tortillas seam-side-down in greased pan.

Combine 1 can tomato sauce, reserved diced tomato juice, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon chili powder, and ¼ teaspoon clove in small bowl. Spread sauce evenly on enchiladas, making sure tortillas are completely covered. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Allow casserole to rest for 5 – 10 minutes after removing from oven.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Laughing All the Way...

You may have typed "LOL" today, but have you actually laughed out loud? Have you even smiled today?

I've been thinking lately about the power of laughter, and how it impacts healthy living and weight management. I watch TV with my kids, and lately, they're obsessed with "Big Time Rush." Unlike many kids' shows, there's little sarcasm. Instead, it's campy, unpredictable, and sometimes just plain silly. Even though it's geared for pre-teens, the show makes me laugh, and I genuinely enjoy watching it with my kids.

That's a good thing, as laughter really is good medicine. Among other things, laughing increases your levels of serotonin and endorphins. In other words, finding fun in your day changes your brain chemistry for the positive. Higher levels of serotonin and endorphins make it easier to prevent or recover from food cravings. And when your brain's happy, it's easier to follow through on your weight management goals.

So, I think it's smart to be proactive with laughter. If you're still not convinced, or if you need some ideas to get you started, this article is a must-read. Try smiling while you read it, and see for yourself how the simple act of smiling affects you:

Laughter is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of Humor

Experiment for a week or two. Naturally, I encourage you to focus on food- and weight-management related topics. For instance, try smiling while you prepare meals, or as you're choosing your clothes for the day. Enjoy a comedy while you exercise. Have fun!

Monday, March 7, 2011

This Is Your Brain...On Food

I read this article last week, and couldn't wait to share it with you. We talk in "Lose Weight" about how brain chemicals affect eating habits. Here's yet another study on the subject:

Binge eaters' dopamine levels spike at sight, smell of food

In short, researchers observed that there were changes in the brain levels of dopamine -- that "gotta have it!" hormone -- when binge eaters saw or smelled food. In non-binge eaters, there were no such changes.

If binge eating is a challenge for you, creating an environment in which you never see or smell food would be extremely limiting. Instead, you need a plan. If you haven't already begun working on a list of activities that you enjoy -- activities that lead to a release of the "whew, I got it!" hormone serotonin -- now's the time! What can you do instead of eating that really, truly, deeply nurtures you? Remember, it has to be something signficant. You're working against dopamine and your own brain chemistry.

If you're not a binge eater, take note: The researchers also observed a similar response in non-binge eaters after depriving them of food for 16 hours. In other words, if you eat supper at 7 PM, then skip breakfast and eat lunch at noon, you've gone a full 17 hours without eating...and set up your brain chemistry to encourage binge eating. Just another reason to make sure you eat a healthy breakfast!