Thursday, August 30, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Fear and Love in Miami

   Last week, very close to the 20 year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, South Florida prepared for another storm- Issac. For days,  TV was filled with coverage of the Tropical Storm and what residents needed to do to prepare, whipping us all into a fearful frenzy. Well, as it turned out, Issac was a wet, soggy mess, but not much else for those of us in Miami. I lost a banana tree that flopped over and had a bunch of branches, leaves, twigs scattered across the yard and pool. But it kind of made me mad, how the news stations feed on the fear of the citizens of Miami, many of whom lived through Hurricane Andrew and had already seen a Big, Bad Category 5 Hurricane. While I absolutely believe in preparing- buy what you need to buy, put up shutters if necessary, evacuate if ordered to do so- after that, what's the use of worrying? Do what you need to do and put the rest in God's hands.
   Some people say that Fear is the opposite of Love. There was an experiment where two jars were filled with cooked white rice, and sealed. One was labeled Fear, the other Love. The Fear jar was talked to about scary messages and set in front of disturbing videos. The Love jar was spoken to about how much it was loved and set in front of beautiful music playing. At the end of the experiment, the Fear jar of rice was brown and mushy, while the Love jar relatively white and clean.
   I am not sure if the opposite of Love is Fear, but I do believe some people make bad decisions and react defensively, when they are afraid. But fear can also be a great motivator. If you are overweight and afraid you won't live long enough to see your children grow up, you might decide to exercise, diet and get into shape. If you're getting older and are worrying about how you are going to support yourself when you retire, you might start saving and set up a retirement account. I suppose both these decisions could also be made because you love yourself, or your loved ones, enough to initiate a change. Change is another thing that makes us afraid. Sometimes, even when someone we know decides to change for the better, it is scary. It is easier to deal with a known quantity, even a dysfunctional or painful one, than to leap into uncharted territory.
   FDR said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Jillian Micheals says "You feel that pit in the bottom of your stomach? That is fear leaving your body." If we have faith, absolute faith, I suppose we would never be afraid, because we would know, like Bob Marley sings "Don't worry 'bout a thing, every little thing's gonna be alright."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Breath- Your Best Friend

   I started thinking about breathing the other day when A.J. mentioned she went for a run and felt like she could run forever simply because she was concentrating on breathing in and out of her nose. Is this possible? I researched it and, according to Military .com, "breathing properly can mean the difference between actually completing the exercise more efficienctly and losing more weight in the process." Sacre Bleu! Breathing properly not only allows you to improve your athletic performance (faster times, further distances), it actually helps you burn more fat. After all the searching for a miracle pill to help us burn more fat, it was with us all along! While running, you should inhale for three seconds, exhale fully for two. This allows oxygen to get to all of your muscles and clears your body of carbon dioxide. When I listen to a deep relaxation video on You Tube, the soothing voice instructs to "Inhale fully and exhale fully"- both are important. While lifting weights, you just remember to exhale on the exertion part. And while doing ab work, Tony Horton (of Power 90 X fame), tells us "Don't forget to breathe" because you can't get through ab exercises without it.

   Yoga is "active meditation", so the breath is very important and you would think we would all be breathing like banchees in there, but such is not usually the case. When you are doing a difficult posture, the tendency is to hold your breath (like you do when enduring something painful), but this is actually counter productive, so we are constantly being told "It all comes back to the breath" and "Breathing is your best friend in Yoga". Breathing in and out in yoga helps us hold poses longer, get through challenging poses and balance better. Indeed, breathing is our best friend- our magic bullet to jump higher, run faster, go longer- so don't forget to invite your best friend to the party next time you work out.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Sneak Some Veggies In

Spaghetti Squash

Lean Cuisine with SS

Side salad of Arugula

You know that cookbook where the idea of it was to sneak veggies into your kid's meals? Well, obviously we all need to eat more veggies, so I sometimes "sneak" them into my food as well. If  I'm making a Lean Cuisine with pasta and sauce, I'll toss a handful of spinach leaves in, after it's cooked so it wilts and gives me a little veggie boost. I had a Spaghetti Squash sitting in the fridge from my no-pasta HcG diet. My plan was to eat the spaghetti squash as pasta, with tomato sauce, but never got around to it. I cooked it (prick all over with a knife and nuke for 16 minutes), sliced it, scooped out the seeds to roast, and scooped out the flesh. It is really cool the way the squash separates like spaghetti! I was going to eat it with a Chicken Parmesan Lean Cuisine, but it already had spaghetti with it, so I just tossed some of the spaghetti squash in with the pasta, mixed the sauce into it and Voila! a great veggie boost, and at 42 calories a cup, it's still a lean cuisine. Warning: Spaghetti Squash does not taste (or have the consistency) of real pasta. It is squash, after all. I have some left over and was thinking it would be good with some of the leftover Bar-B-Que pork stirred into it. One thing I love that I see a lot of restaurants doing lately is serving a little side salad with your meal. With this lunch, I cut some arugula from my garden, spritzed it with olive oil and a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and it added a nice little side touch to my meal. Arugula is super easy to grow, you can even just grow it in a pot and after it's gone, just re-seed and you'll have more in a couple weeks. Mesclun (mixted lettuces) works the same way and the baby lettuce leaves are especially sweet and tender.
The Incredible Edible Egg with Flax Seed
   Another thing I am trying to eat every day (from the Lean book) is flax seed. I toasted some and either sprinkle it into a smoothie, on top of yogurt and fruit or into cereal (hot or cold). It's nutty taste adds a little extra crunch to many things. I even had the ingenious idea of sprinkling it on my sunny side up egg. I have also put herbs, like chives, into the white of my egg, where it is suspended and adds some flavor. So, don't fool yourself! Add some veggies or flax seed to your diet every day and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Mount Rushmore! Keystome, South Dakota
   Back from an awesome Road Trip! Had a great time with Kate and got some good ideas for new blogs. I just weighed myself and (drum roll please!) I am the same weight as when I left! which is pretty amazing considering most of the choices in the Wild West were meat, meat and more meat, with some fried food thrown in for good measure. We ate at a great vegan restaurant in Fort Collins, but after we left Colorado, it was slim pickins for healthy fare. I tried to make good food choices and exercised a couple times, and I guess it paid off.
   "For where your treasures be, there will your heart be."
   This quote from the bible reflects that we spend money on things that mean a lot to us. I have always found money to spend on a good trip. Zeke says I'm a trip junkie, and I guess he's right. Traveling offers a new way to see the world, people and new experiences and for me, is worth every penny.
   Lately, I have been swimming a lot and so, have been thinking about re-doing our pool. I just got it converted to salt water, so now while I'm swimming don't feel I'm poisoning myself, but as I see the holes in the finish and feel the sandy sides that need to be re-done, I keep imagining a nice, new pool with a smooth blue finish and new tile. Also, have thought about getting solar panels to heat the pool in the winter months and am thinking about taking a Master Swimming Class in the fall.
   Education has always been a top priority and is where a lot of our money (two daughters in private school, one starting college) goes these days. I believe as long as we are learning, and open to learning, we stay young and have always found money to take classes I really wanted to, whether they be Astrology, Photography, Spanish or getting my Masters in Screenwriting at UM (still paying for that one.)
   When I was a flight attendant with little money to spare, I spent my money on furniture, things for the house, books and music. I am still one of Amazon's best customers (books and music), so that hasn't changed and, while I hate shopping for clothes, I love shopping for things for the Home.
   During my first marriage, when I got a job at US Air (travel again), my husband disapproved and cut off all money to me. What did I spend my meager, minimum wage salary on at that time? Healthy food (since he was doing the shopping) and plants for my Garden. This gave me happiness, so this is where I invested my hard-earned cash.
    Also, I have always enjoyed going out to dinner. This month and next is Miami Spice, where you get an appetizer, entree and dessert for a set price. It is a great way to explore and experience restaurants that you could otherwise not afford. Last year, having little money, we did not go. This year, I hope to try at least a couple. Eating out is expensive, but you are paying not only for the food, but for the whole experience. You can discover new cultures with their cuisine.
   At the sermon where I heard this bible quote, Father Frank asked if what you are spending money on reflected what your values are. What do you spend most of your money on? Does it reflect properly who you are? If not, change it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Spread the Good News!

Kotor, Montenegro
Wow! How did ten days go by without blogging? Some good news to report: Number one, almonds are not as fattening as they were previously reported to be, so you can eat more of them. Apparently they made a mistake when calculating how the calories were used as fuel. I love almonds, so this is good news.

 Number two, Sex burns calories. Well, we all knew this, but it has been broken down as follows:
  • Making out 30 minutes: 230 calories
  • Foreplay, 20 minutes: 87 calories for women, 107 calories for men
  • Unclasping a bra with both hands: 8 calories
  • Unclasping a bra with one hand: 18 calories
  • Unclasping a bra with your mouth: 67 calories
  • Strip tease: 60 calories
  • Oral sex: 100 calories (this doesn't specify men or women)
  • Missionary position, 10 minutes: 250 calories
  • Woman on top, ten minutes, 300 calories for women, 130 calories for men (I always knew this was a lot of work)
  • Sex standing up: Up to 600 calories for both people
  • Masturbation: Up to 150 calories per session
  • Orgasm: Between 60 and 100 calories
According to the Miami Herald (which got this from Chiara Atik of, instead of doing 30 minutes on the elliptical at the gym (around 335 calories), you can do a strip tease, have sex for 10 minutes and unclasp a bra with one hand for the same amount of calories! And we all know this is more fun than the elliptical. So get your groove on and Do it, do it, do it till your satisfied!

Kate in Montenegro last summer
Good news number three: I leave for my Road Trip with Kate today. We are going to Cheyenne, Wyoming, Custer, South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, and Deadwood! This is my graduation present to her for graduating from University of Colorado in the Spring and I can't wait. I will be crossing off two more states (Wyoming and South Dakota) on my list of states to see and checking off an item (Mount Rushmore) on my bucket list! Kate just got her first real job, so we have a lot to celebrate!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Think Outside the (Culinary) Box

Fiber Filled Veggie Burgers
   Along with "Fishy Fridays", I am going to try and do "Meatless Mondays." On a quest to put more fiber in my diet (we should have about 25 grams per day, most of us have 11 or so) I made a veggie burger filled with every fiber-rich food I could get my hands on. I wanted to think of it as the "makes you poop" burger (although that sounds gross) so mixed together: mashed potatoes, pureed peas, grated zucchini, Bulgar, flax seed, black beans, corn and added corn meal, ground whole wheat bread crumbs and egg whites to bind it together and cumin, garlic, onion, scallions, chili powder, jalapeno and hot sauce to season it. I put it in the food processor and gave it a little whirl (before I added the corn) to get it to bind as well. This was a total experiment, I kept adding things as I went along, especially to get it to hold together in a patty that could be pan sauteed in Pam. My daughter A.J. tried them, and declared them a success. I feel like it would benefit from a fresh sliced tomato, sliced sweet onion and some greens. Since I couldn't eat that many veggie burgers in one sitting, I baked them in the oven and will freeze them for lunch on "Meatless Mondays". I love making soup on Mondays, so will experiment with vegetarian ones in upcoming months. Grilled cheese sandwiches are an easy, meat-free, accompaniment. Although some people don't like being restricted to Dietary boundaries, I feel it pushes me to be more creative, culinary-wise. Like, when we were in school and I took Creative Writing, I loved it when we were given a topic to write about (as opposed to when the teacher said "write whatever you want"). It nudges you in a certain direction and spurs you on. Here's to "Meatless Mondays", "Fishy Fridays" and all the days in between.

Packed and ready for the Freezer

                                                  "Do or do not. There is no try." Yoda

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Weight Loss in My Back Pocket

   A slight detour into HcG Diet again. After attaining my weight of 117 at the end of Phase 2, I went off for a vacation in Washington D.C. Although I tried to be "good", it was hard without knowing how many calories I was consuming and without a scale to weigh myself. When I returned home and weighed myself, I had gained 4 pounds- a pound a day for each day I was gone. I immediately went on the protocol for losing 1 or 2 pounds on the HcG and that was: Skip breakfast, lunch and eat a big steak and tomato for dinner (after 7 p.m.). Voila! I lost 2 pounds the next day and eventually got back down to 117, just in time for a 5 day vacation to Club Med. Although I was trying to be "good" at the beginning of the trip, by the end I had surrendered to all the free wine and delicious bread Club Med had to offer. Once again, I gained 4 pounds. My solution? I did the steak day, but with modifications, because skipping breakfast and lunch gives me headaches. I had a protein shake (125 calories) for breakfast, hard boiled egg and 3 Melba toast (120 calories) for lunch and a medium apple (60 calories) for a snack, with a large steak and slice raw tomato for dinner. Result? Lost 2 pounds the next day, and this was with me drinking 2 glasses of red wine! Awesome! With this easy solution available, I feel the HcG weight loss is very easy to maintain.

   When Jeff Bridges had to portray a singer in Crazy Heart, T-Bone Burnett wrote him some songs that he told him he would have in his "back pocket"- aka songs that were within his range of singing, not that hard. With the steak day, I feel I have the solution to gaining weight "in my back pocket". I have one more vacation before the summer ends and I have a good feeling I will be back on the steak day when I return. That's fine, and my apologies to Bruce Springsteen for the take off on his Born in the USA album cover.