Posts filed under ‘tips & techniques’

Active Hair Coloring?

We’ve all heard of active sitting: where you incorporate some sort of physical movement, no matter how small, into your sedentary job or homelife.  I do it myself, by sitting on a stability ball as my office chair.  I also do it by performing various arm movements during the day, or sometimes using my FLOW software, which prompts me to do exercises at my desk every hour or so.

But, tonight: a first!  Active Hair Coloring!  I ate too much today and wanted to get more cardio in to compensate, at least a little.  I also needed to color my hair.  I’m a home hair colorer, so the ideal solution was easy to find.  While I was waiting for my hair color to process, I did 30 minutes on the Gazelle.  Voila… active hair coloring!  I was so pleased with myself for coming up with it.  I love combining necessary or fun activities with fitness.  It makes me feel efficient, and it makes onerous tasks seem more purposeful and worthy.

It also turns potentially “risky” situations into opportunities for success.  For example, tomorrow morning, my husband and I are going to a pancake breakfast at the airport hangar.

  • We are pedaling our bicycles to and from the airport, which means we’ll get in at least a six-mile ride.  🙂
  • I normally dread being confronted with the white-flour pancakes, syrup and sausage they serve.  The food is always yummy, but it’s got no redeeming nutritive value.  This time, along with getting exercise by biking back and forth, I’m also bringing PB&J pancake batter, made with white whole wheat flour, Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, Smart Balance Omega 3 Peanut Butter, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  The topping will be reduced-sugar strawberry jam.  It’s fun… and healthy!
  • Plus, I’ll be too busy cooking to have much time to eat.


March 6, 2010 at 5:21 am Leave a comment

Work Break Workouts

In addition to doing stairs, I also try to do mini workouts during the day on my breaks.  This week, I tried two new ones:

1) Pure Barre Workout –

2) Women’s Health Mag Ab Workout –

The Pure Barre workout was perfect for the office.  Very doable in a cramped space and in work clothes, even a dress or skirt and blouse.  That doesn’t mean it was a low-key workout, though.  It was surprisingly challenging!  The small, concentrated moves quickly grew tiring; I could definitely feel it and was somewhat relieved when I finished up each exericse.  This one is going to become part of my regular repertoire.

I was excited about the Ab workout because many of the exercises use a stability ball, and I sit on one as my office chair.  I didn’t have a medicine ball in the office, so I had to improvise with a door stop (that a friend had made for me) as my hand-held weight.  Yowsa!  This workout was SUPER tough!  I couldn’t get through half the moves.  Plus, it was hard to do them in the narrow confines of my business crib while wearing a dress and pantyhose.  In fact, I was pretty discouraged after doing the workout yesterday, and I’d basically decided that I could only do this one at home.  Interestingly enough, today, some of my ab muscles are sore; I can feel that the exercises – that I did manage to do – worked.  That made me smile. 🙂  I think with a little tweaking, I’ll be able to do this routine here at work, too.

Breaks at work are so important, particularly breaks for movement if you are in a sedentary job.  If you can make the most of those breaks by getting in a workout, you’re way ahead of the game.  Try every possible workout you can and be open to customizing them for your ability and surroundings.

March 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment

Do it and then feel it

I was feeling glum, distinctly ho-hum.  I did NOT want to do my stairs. My stairs are only one component of my workout regimen, so I can get away with not doing them.  However, my Scale the Strat is coming up on March 13th, so it’s critical that I keep up my “training” for that event.

All of a sudden, the motto “Do it and then feel it” popped into my head. I got off my stability ball, changed out of my suit jacket, and proceeded to do 20 sets of stairs: 1520 up and 1520 down, for a lovely grand total of 3,040 stairs.

The endorphins are flowing, and I do, indeed, feel it now. Yay!

February 22, 2010 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

Are we ever “cured”?

In September, I will have been doing my lifestyle change for seven years.  That’s a long time, and it seems like it should have gotten easier.  Unfortunately… not so much.

I have been struggling for the last few months with a 7-pound weight gain.  I know why: I’ve got a huge amount of stress in my life right now.

1) I’m planning a wedding.  Even though it’s an untraditional wedding, low-key by wedding standards, it’s still a big event, and big events require a lot of work.

2) I’ve branched into doing TV for my work.  It’s extremely difficult to see myself on television.  To me, the flaws are glaringly obvious and exacerbated by the medium.  I’ve been fighting not to get depressed over it, but it’s tough.

3) I’ve been doing a lot more public speaking on evenings and weekends.  I am so excited to be doing this outreach because it’s critical to get the consumer protection messages out there.  But, there’s a lot of pressure when you’re dealing with people face-to-face who’ve been victims of fraud or are losing their homes.  They want answers, and they want those answers from you.  It’s also tiring to prepare and to work the extra hours.  It’s definitely worth it, but it takes a toll.

4) My fiance and I have been doing a lot traveling, off-roading and camping with various mishaps occurring along the way like wheels falling off vehicles, getting lost, flying at weird times of day, etc.  Lack of sleep and anxiety bring out my desire to munch.

Most of my stress is “good” stress, coming from positive events in my life.  But, when I’m stressed, no matter where that stress comes from, I want to eat.  When I get tired, I want to eat.  At times, that urge to eat is nearly irresistable.  In fact, it’s proven to be irresistable for me a lot recently, which is why I’m up seven pounds.

Do we ever get “cured” of overeating?  Will I ever be “normal” in how I approach food?  I don’t think so; I think I’ll always have this yoke around my neck.  It will be lighter sometimes, but it’ll always be there.

It’s an issue that obesity researchers continue to explore.  Irene Rubaum-Keller’s article “What is recovery from addiction?” asks, “If you are an addict, can you ever really get well or are you just destined to manage your tendency to be addicted to things/people/substances forever?”.  My experience tells me I will not “get well”, that instead I’ll just be managing the situation for the rest of my life.  And it bums me out that experts, people who’ve been researching this problem for years, don’t have any answers for me.

Rubaum-Keller says:

The bottom line is; we don’t know the answer to that question. The definition of recovery the committee came up with was this “a voluntarily maintained lifestyle composed characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship.” It involves trading the easy drug/sex/gambling/food/shopping/alcohol high, with something more difficult to attain that is also more meaningful and lasting. Recovery does not just mean sobriety. It is a more holistic experience that involves improving one’s life in various ways.

I am committed to the path I’ve chosen, and for the most part, I’m glad I made the choice.  But voluntary maintenance is HARD.  I keep expecting it to get easier, and it just doesn’t.  That’s my reality.  For now, I can’t change it, so I’ve got to be aware of it and work with it the best I can.

In my current situation, I’m trying to focus on the fact that all I’ve gained is seven pounds.  I’m also proud of having taken on a very intensive exercise program with P90X.  My body is really strong; all my clothes still fit.  I’m having the adventure of a lifetime.  I’m managing the food situation successfully for the most part.  That’s the best I can do, and it has to be good enough for now.

July 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

Pink Lemonade Poundcake, made healthier


Sandra Lee’s semi-homemade cooking philosophy really resonates with me.  I love the idea of tweaking pre-packaged convenience items and making them into something extra special.  To me, it strikes the perfect balance between being Suzy Homemaker and the Drive-Thru Queen.  I no longer get to watch Sandra Lee on TV because I only subscribe to basic Cable, so imagine my delight when I learned she was publishing a magazine!  I signed up right away and recently received my first issue.  It was jam-packed with good items, one of which was a yum-o-licious Pink Lemonade Poundcake. 

I decided to make it for my friend Jen’s birthday party.  Naturally, I had to modify the recipe a touch to make it healthier.  I also had to come up with a glaze.  The picture in the magazine shows it drizzled with some sort of icing, but the recipe doesn’t list it.  I created my own using a store-bought tub of frosting and adding some drink mix and almond milk.  It came out great!


  • 1 package white cake mix
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 12-ounce container frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tubs sugar-free pink lemonade drink mix (1 1/2 tubs for poundcake, 1/2 tub for frosting)
  • 1 package fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tub vanilla frosting
  • a few tablespoons of unsweetened vanilla almond milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Mist two 8-inch loaf pans with nonstick baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine cake mix, sour cream, pink lemonade concentrate, drink mix, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla.
  • Beat at low speed for one minute. 
  • Increase to medium-high speed and beat for two minutes.
  • Pour into prepared pans, smoothing the tops.
  • Bake for one hour or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool.
  • While cooling, mix frosting with 1/2 tub of drink mix and a tablespoon or two of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (toget the consistency you want).
  • Drizzle over cooled poundcakes.

March 8, 2009 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Supersizing hits home

CB005656 The enormity of restaurant portions is well known, and countless strategies have been developed for dealing with them: ordering only appetizers, immediately putting half your meal in a to-go bag, even staying home rather than going out to eat.

Now, it turns out that eating in may be as dangerous to your waistline as dining out.  A study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that cookbook recipes have significantly higher calorie counts than in the past.

“The study, which looked at how classic recipes have changed during the past 70 years, found a nearly 40 percent increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed, about an extra 77 calories.”

Although the trend has been noted in other cookbooks, the study focused primarily on the classic “Joy of Cooking” cookbook, first published in the 1930s, discovering that…

“Only the chili con carne recipe remained unchanged through the years. The chicken gumbo, however, went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in the 1936 edition, to making 10 servings at 576 calories each in the 2006 version.”

“And changes in “Joy of Cooking” have been going on for a while. Increases in overall calories per recipe have been gradual, but portion sizes tended to jump, first during the ’40s, again during the ’60s, and with the largest jump in the 2006 edition.”

Add a decade, expand a portion.  A brownie recipe that yielded 30 brownies in the 60s now delivers 15 brownies.  A chocolate chip cookie recipe that made 100 cookies initially now provides only 60.

So what do you do about it?  Unfortunately, being aware isn’t enough.  You have to be as vigilant at home as you are on the road.  Make smaller cookies or brownies.  Or, adapt your restaurant strategies for home: don’t eat a full portion, saving the extra for another meal.

February 19, 2009 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

“Stay with it and find a way to make it work.”

I strongly believe in the power of positive thinking. I read a lot of affirming books and subscribe to blogs and newsletters that emphasize uplifting messages. One of my favorite e-mail newsletters is from Betty Mahalik of Dynamic Solutions Coaching & Training. Every Monday, a couple of inspirational paragraphs are delivered to my in-box, guaranteed to give me food for thought on how to improve my life and achieve my goals.

This Monday’s newsletter especially resonated with me. Betty shared a quote from one of her yoga instructors, who was advising Betty’s class to stay focused on the class and not get caught up in executing the poses. The instructor said, “Stay with it and find a way to make it work.”

So well said! That, in a nutshell, is what all we have to do to make any lifestyle change successful. We merely need to stay with it and find a way to make it work for us. That’s exactly what I’ve done in the last six and a half years, and it’s what I continue to do. I remind myself daily to keep at it, no matter how imperfectly, and to adjust my plan as necessary – finding a way to make it work according to my needs and life circumstances.

So simple… and yet so powerful.

February 18, 2009 at 7:08 am 1 comment

Talk about pork barrel!

bacon650_33 Yowsa!  The meaty monostrosity that is the Bacon Explosion is all over the web, having caught fire online like pork drippings in a BBQ pit.

The Bacon Explosion has developed a cult following, becoming so popular that it was recently written up in the New York Times.  We Americans are nutty sometimes in our rebelliousness.  Tell us to eat healthy, and we’ll laugh in your face while creating a flab-o-licious carnivorous treat like this one, “containing at least 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat.”

I’ll probably be banned for the planet for good, but I suggest that we could create a healthy version of this decadence by using turkey bacon, vegetarian sausage, bacon bits, and low-carb/low-calorie BBQ sauce.  I may just have to give it a go myself and see how it comes out.  You never know; it may develop its own cult following.

February 2, 2009 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

Mastering the movies (and more)

moviefood3 What to eat at the movies? If you’ve gotta go with what they’re selling there, here are your best bets according to Glamour online.

  • Soft pretzel – 310 calories, 4 grams fat
  • Milk Duds (3 oz.) – 371 calories,13.1 grams fat
  • Edy’s strawberry iced-fruit bar – 120 calories, 0 grams fat
  • Small Popcorn, no butter – 400 calories, 27 grams fat or Kid Size Popcorn, no butter – 300 calories, 20 grams fat
  • Sour Patch Soft & Chewy Candy (3.5 oz.) – 375 calories, 0 grams fat

Personally, I prefer to sneak my own items into the theatre. I bring 1-cup servings of Kashi GO LEAN cereal, a Z Bar, or some free trade dried mango from Whole Foods.

I also frequently sneak in my own veggie/salmon combo. That’s right. I microwave the Green Giant Health Blends veggies, mix in a pouch of wild-caught salmon, and tuck the entire container deep into my purse. Of course, preparing a hot meal presumes that you know you’re going to the movies beforehand. But, you can keep the other stuff in your bag so you’re always prepared… no matter what you end up doing.

January 30, 2009 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

Getting happier

So much of why we overeat is linked to our emotions.  So, it would make sense that if we are feeling happier, we will probably eat better and may even exercise more.

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., from Prevention magazine, offers some ideas on how to improve our moods through productive socializing.

  • “Team up for chores” – It’s like barn-raising for the modern age. Get a group of friends together, pick a tough chore, and alternate helping each other out getting that chore accomplished.
  • “Hold a swap meet” – Before donating outdated clothes and shoes to charity, gather everything up and invite your pals over for a swap party.
  • “Have a dinner exchange” – Exchange dinners with friends once a week. Keep it simple by making the meal a surprise. No pre-planning necessarily required.
  • “Share a journal” – Write letters or free-form entries in a journal that you then pass along to family or friends. It can be a great way to keep in touch if your support system is far away.
  • “Retreat once a year” – Take an “adopted family” trip once a year where you and your like-family friends get away together someplace fun.

January 27, 2009 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

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