Monday, March 30, 2009

Living and Raw Food Recipes

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A website I stumbled across today titled vegan recipes and vegetarian recipes - living and raw - uncooked! claims they are the "home of the largest collection of Living and Raw Food recipes online". I don't know about that, since I haven't searched the entire internet, but they certainly have a large collection of recipes to choose from.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stress Weight Loss

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I was leafing through an old calendar this morning and realized something important. A year ago, I weighed 15 lbs more than I do right now. I haven't done anything significant in the past year that may affect the weight loss other than one thing: I reduced my stress. I had a major stressor in my life, something that irritated and pricked at me daily. Now it's gone and I feel happier on a soul-deep level. I didn't realize at the time how much the stress was affecting my weight or my waist size, which was 2.5 inches larger. None of the other measurements changed significantly. This has prompted me to evaluate my surroundings, what I have chosen to do with my life, and how it has affected me physically. Are there other stressors I can work to resolve? How can I find ways to better handle my stress? These are questions I will ponder in the next month.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The 20 Healthiest Foods for Under $1

Image by qousqous via Flickr
The 20 Healthiest Foods for Under $1
Food prices are climbing, and some might be looking to fast foods and packaged foods for their cheap bites. But low cost doesn’t have to mean low quality. In fact, some of the most inexpensive things you can buy are the best things for you.
The downward spiral of the economy has hit many of us very hard. Eating healthy is expensive on the best of days. I appreciated this article that highlights some healthy foods that can be found for less than the price of a burger at a fast food joint.

Friday, March 27, 2009


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I feel that rewarding myself is an important part of achieving difficult goals. Here is a list of some of the items I will use as rewards:
  • StepMania. StepMania is a rhythm game for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It features 3D graphics, keyboard and "dance pad" support, and an editor for creating your own steps. It is the open source PC equivalent to Dance Dance Revolution. I first learned about StepMania from Coding Horror. Since StepMania is open source (and free!) all I really need to purchase is the dance pad.
  • Speed Rope. The jump rope I have is just to clumsy. It doesn't straighten out properly and tangles at the bottom. I've tripped on it a few times and the last thing I want to do is get hurt while exercising.
  • Chin-up bar. Okay, I might not use this one as a reward, because I'm not the only one who wants it. It will probably be a "gift" for a significant other. (Was that cheeky of me?)
  • Pedometer. For counting steps. Yay! I rewarded myself with this one for logging my food for an entire week. That was hard, especially on the day I ate 1/2 a Cinnabon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is it real? Or is it Martha? - Is it real? Or is it Martha?
Stewart obviously isn't available for photo shoots, so Newsweek had to improvise.
This article clearly shows the problem with aspiring to look like the people in the magazines. Newsweek created an "illustration" of Martha Stewart and hosted it on the front cover of their magazine. The illustrator, Michael Ellins, took a head shot of Martha Stewart by Marc Bryan-Brown and pasted it on the body of a model. The problem with the illustration is that it doesn't look like an illustration at all. It looks like a photograph.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MyPyramid Tracker

USDA - CNPP - MyPyramid Tracker
MyPyramid Tracker is an online dietary and physical activity assessment tool that provides information on your diet quality, physical activity status, related nutrition messages, and links to nutrient and physical activity information.
This website is not very intuitive and clunky to use, but it's sponsored by the USDA so it has to be factually correct, right? Well, according to the trackers on this website, both my diet and my exercise levels are perfectly fine for the most part. I even scored a perfect score on the exercise scale despite the fact that I sit on my butt for 8-10 hours a day doing office work and have no identifiable exercise plan. Of course, using the potty is an exercise, according to the website. It's a good thing I ate my raisin bran this morning!

As if this weren't bad enough, it is not intuitive to use. To enter food for a different day, you actually have to go to the log in page and change the date there. It took me quite a while to notice this.

While I admire the USDA for trying to educate the population, this tracker is inefficient and not very accurate, in my opinion. If you want a good tracker for diet and exercise, head over to

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mediterranean Diet For Heart Health

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Mediterranean diet for heart health -
The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy eating plan combining elements of Mediterranean-style cooking. Here's how to adopt the Mediterranean diet.
This website breaks down the Mediterranean Diet and explains how to use the concepts to improve your health. I like that MayoClinic points out that the success of the Mediterranean Diet might come from factors external to eating habits such as exercise and social habits of the residents of the Mediterranean areas. The article is a good read, and I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Am I Getting Enough Water?

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The quick answer to that question is going to be no. Historically, my records show I drink an average of 2 glasses of water a day. I am supposed to drink 8 glasses a day. I don't know how much water I get from the food I eat, but I'm sure it's nowhere near enough. I know for a fact I am chronically dehydrated and yet, I still don't drink my water.

It isn't because I don't like water. I love a nice glass of filtered tap water with a spritz of lemon. I actually prefer a glass of water to soft drinks that burn my throat or fruit drinks that just make me thirstier.

One reason I skip drinking water is convenience. If there is a glass of ice water on my desk, I will drink it when I think about it. I can reduce the temptation to reach for a soda or coffee by leaving those off my desk and keeping a tall glass of ice water there instead.

Another problem getting all the fluid I need is inattention. This one is more difficult because I rarely interpret the signals my body is sending me correctly. The early signs of thirst are lost in the bustle of the day. To solve this problem, I can use the breaks as a reminder to take a drink of water. Eight breaks during the day, one per hour, will ensure I get all the water I need.

I've identified a couple of the obstacles that keep me from drinking all the water I should. What about you? Are you drinking all the water you need? Do you have any tips to stay hydrated?

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Setup

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I have a home gym. A mini one anyway, but sufficient for anything I anticipate I'll need. It consists of:
  1. A weight bench and free weights. This was purchased in like new condition locally for $30 from a personal ad on Craigslist. These things are often on sale at yard sales also. There is really no need to pay full price for one if you can wait for a good deal.
  2. Several bars to use with the weights. I have long bars and wavy bars and small bars that you hold in your hand. I don't know what any of them are really for, but I suppose I'll learn how to use all of them later.
  3. Barbells. I have an eclectic collection. Some are vinyl coated, some are galvanized. I have a set of 1 lb weights, 2 lb weights, 5 lb weights, 10 lb weights, and an extra chipped up 10 lb weight that I'm not even sure where it came from. Most of these I've gathered from Walmart over the years.
  4. A jump rope. I really wanted a plastic speed rope, but I only had a few dollars so I purchased a cheap $2 nylon rope from Walmart. After a few uses, I've realized that it will work for a short while, but it's awkward and not easy to use. Upgrading my jump rope is one of my rewards.
  5. A jingle coin belly dance scarf. I like to bellydance, what can I say? It's a great workout for the abs and thighs. I do it on occasion for fun, but since I like it so much I'm going to incorporate it into my normal routine. I'm just not going to let anyone watch me yet because the coins aren't the only thing that jiggles!
  6. Stretch bands. These look like gigantic rubber bands but they are very strong. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder the last time I played with them. I've never used them to actually work out.
  7. Balance ball. Mine is a large green one that I actually used when I was pregnant. I haven't used it since.
I re-located all of the exercise equipment in my office, where I spend the greater portion of my day. I installed Workrave on my computer to remind me (and sometimes force me!) to take a break. I intend to use these breaks to take care of "hard" housework and do some light exercise.

Some items I intend to purchase in the future are:
  1. Chin-up bar. I have a high doorway I would like to install one of these in. I have next to zero upper body strength and I think this would help.
  2. Yoga mat. My office has a carpeted cement floor, so the floor is much to hard to do exercises like crunches on. If the exercise requires putting any part of my body other than my hands and feet on the floor, it will have to wait until I can get a foam mat so I don't risk bruising.
  3. Pedometer. I have no clue how many steps I take each day, but I'm pretty sure it's no where near 10,000.
I do not have (and don't plan on getting):
  1. A treadmill, elliptical machine, bowflex, rowing machine, or [enter other single purpose machine here]. I had a treadmill in my office up until a few weeks ago. I gave it away. I found that it hurt my knees and ankles where running outside did not. All of these machines would take up too much room in my office. I'd rather have the open space for dancing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit.
If you're like me and don't realize when you've spent too much time on the computer without a break, this little program might be the answer to your problems. I use Workrave daily. I don't use the mini-break feature, because I found that it made me unproductive, but I use the rest break feature extensively. It alerts me when I've spent an hour on the computer and blacks out my screen (at my request) so that I have to get up and do something else for ten minutes. I've gotten a lot of laundry done this way!

I love love love this program. The best part? It's FREE!

Friday, March 20, 2009


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I am a mostly sedentary person, and that has affected both my weight and my risk for diseases.

Physical appearance is a strong motivator, of course. It's a common reason to start a physical improvement program. It's not my only motivator, though. Some days I can't stand the way I look, but other days I don't think I look that bad.

Feeling good is as important to me as looking good. I want to feel like I could be one of the action stars I love to watch, even if I never actually have to dodge speeding bullets or outrun an avalanche. In short, I want my body to function at peak capacity. Right now it hovers around 10% from the feel of it.

Reducing the risk of disease is important to me as well. I am terrified of cancer, and I recently found out that obesity is a major risk factor in cancer diseases. I had no idea. I knew it contributed to heart disease, strokes, hormonal issues, and other bad diseases, but cancer? I don't know why, but it surprised me.

So those are my current motivators. I wish I could exercise because I like to, but right now I just don't. I don't know if I ever will. This is part of the problem. I was in very good shape and physically active as a kid, but I never really enjoyed getting out there and moving. I developed asthma in my teenage years, and now exercise is always a painful chore.

My goal is to find some type of exercise that I can stick to either because I have to (housework) or I want to.

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