How Whole, Unprocessed Foods May Save Your Life

I have long believed that the more whole, unprocessed food we can eat, the better off we are, the better we feel, the better our bodies will 'work'.  Friends on Twitter know that I often use the #Farm2Table hashtag to promote both farms and whole foods. When I read the following article from Dr. Dwight Lundell, a cardiac surgeon who practiced in Arizona, it all made perfect sense to me, so I am passing along his article for you to think about, too.  I contacted Dr. Lundell and asked his permission before I posted this and he said he'd be honored. : )

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience and having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labeled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader suc
h as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well, smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. You kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.
What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.
Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell – they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labeled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

Here's to our health!
Dream. Believe. Achieve!Jan/ HealthyLoserGal

This New Year: don't feel the guilt of unkept resolutions...

A repeat from 12/31/11 but just as true today as a year ago! : )

I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions... I am more likely to make a resolution in the Fall when the pressure to make them is off since I often feel like the Fall is when New Year *should start*.  :)   And when I do make a resolution, I don't make a lofty one any longer that I know I won't be able to keep.  I have kept journals and diaries since I was in my early teens and looking back on past resolutions is both funny and sad.

"I will lose 80 lbs. by the first week of June", I wrote in 2004.   I didn't.  I gained weight that year.  That was the year of my son's high school graduation.

"I will lose 100 lbs. by May 1st of this year" I wrote on January 1st, 2008.  I didn't.  I lost 12.  That was the year of my son's college graduation and I still wince when I look at the few photos of me on that joyful day.

In March of 2009 I wrote.  "I am going to reclaim myself.  I have 100 lbs. to lose.  I am going to lose 5 lbs. this month.  I am going to begin to walk again.  I will do this."  I lost 18 lbs. that month, I believe.  I began to walk 1/4 mile around the local high school track and was darn proud of doing it.  After the first five pounds were lost, and then the next five pounds, I celebrated 10 lbs. here on the blog.  And then the next ten pounds.  And then the next five when I hit 25 lbs. gone.  The small changes, the small goals, the rewards for small achievements gained worked for me.  I believe they will work for you, too, friends!

This year consider making just a small change.  Don't make a HUGE resolution.  Join me and my friends over at MeYouHealth and sign the Anti-Resolution Pledge.

Whatever your weight, health, or fitness goal is... I know you can achieve it this coming year if you believe in yourself and go for your goal by making small, sustainable changes and setting realistic milestones. : ) 

If you need help along the way staying the course, I'm only a tweet away and MeYouHealth has a great community of support at their Daily Challenge site and on Facebook. I joined the Daily Challenge community a year ago and have loved the small daily positive suggestions in my life. They're all about small actions making to attain big changes in the long run! :)

Happy New Year and New YOU, my friends!

Dream ~ Believe ~ Achieve!
Jan /

Health Is The Greatest Gift... December to Remember

Health is the greatest gift,
contentment the greatest wealth,
faithfulness the best relationship. 

December is going to hold GREAT THINGS for me and – if you want to join me – for you, too!  My intention is to jump back into the sane, planned, ordered life where I give as much attention to my own health and happiness as I do to those around me. My past two months of vegging in front of mindless television at night because I am just so exhausted from facing life’s challenges are OVER!  Done! Caput!  (Is that a word? lol)  I have had some major challenges the past few months and I am ashamed at the way I pushed my health and fitness to the back-burner and fell victim to old, bad habits.

But I am the only one in charge of my health and happiness.  No one else is going to make things different in my life besides myself.  Even December’s promise of Santa’s visit can’t bring a magical weight loss or present that will make me not need to get up off my lazy butt and exercise regularly.

There is only answer for me: REGULAR activity and DAILY monitoring of food going into my body!  Not once in a while going out for a walk.  Not walking down to the Post Office (1/2 mile round trip!) and thinking “oh, I got my walk for the day in!”.  Not watching what I eat and portion sizes four out of seven of the days in the week.  Nope.  REGULAR and PLANNED exercise and activity and EVERY SINGLE DAY of planned food and measured portion size.  I *KNOW* this works for me and I know it will work for anyone else who commits to their own success and health and happiness!

Okay, not THAT kind of Amazonian! 
I have had some exciting news in the past few weeks.   I am an Amazonian! lol  I have accepted a position with Amazon in their Cambridge, MA new office.  I will be out in Seattle for training and to meet some of my long-distance peers next week.  Am I concerned about being able to do the job? Nope!  I know I will rock the job.  What am I concerned about???  My WEIGHT!  Argh!!  I thought I was done with this… but slowly and surely I have had regained weight and now is the time to take it off.

I am turning my back to all the advertisements and articles about “Holiday Weight Gain” and turning on this incredible December gift to myself called WILL POWER!  In December of 2010 I actually lost weight during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas and was at my lowest weight, exercising regularly and loving life.  December weight loss and finding time for fitness can be done and I plan to do it AGAIN – come join me! J

Let’s make this December the month of our lives when we look back for the rest of our long, healthy lives and say, “December 2012 was the month when I really turned things around for myself.  When I regained myself and my will power.  When I became proud of myself again.  December 2012 is when I finally COMMITTED to me!”  How great will that be to say from here on in for the rest of your life?  Let’s DO THIS! 

Continue on to the December to Remember Challenge post (below this one) for details if you’d like to join in with me!

Here’s to our health!

Dream. Believe. Achieve.
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

December To Remember Challenge

How do I plan to make this coming month a December To Remember?

November 30th I will be writing out my goals for December.  I will write them in my journal.  I will put them in the Notes on my smart phone and I will be posting them on the bathroom mirror and the frig in my kitchen!   Front and center.  I will see them every day, multiple times a day so I can’t ignore them!

I will plan my food for the week and leave one day to “whatever I feel like”.  I know myself well enough to know that I cannot plan and stick to every single day of the week.  So, one day is ‘off’ but when I’m doing well and really rocking the rest of my goals, even that one day won’t be a free for all.  I won’t be pulling up to the barbeque all-you-can-eat, in otherwords! lol  When I lost weight and gained control of my eating through the Vtrim program I often used recipes from Eating Well Cookbooks and Eating Well Magazine.  Their online site is here  and it offers great low-fat recipes as well as a free treasure trove of healthy tips and information.   

I will go shopping to buy food for the week (since I will have planned it out) and I will STICK TO THE LIST! J I tend to be an ‘oh! This looks great, I should get THIS!’ shopper which helps neither my waistline nor my wallet! *grin* Today I saw a great slide show on AOL’s Live Better America that features healthy, filling foods – many of which I’ll be incorporating into my December food plan.

Measuring out food is so key to weight loss so I will continue to use my trusty little red food scale and my measuring cups and spoons and measure all food and snacks. It is amazing what restaurants will serve for portion sizes, so if I am eating out I will go back to my old habit of asking for a ‘to go’ box right when I order my meal so the waitress knows I plan to cut the portion in half (or thirds) and take the rest with me.  Don’t be ashamed to do this, it happens in restaurants all the time and the waitress or waiter will be glad to accommodate your request.

Let’s get our bodies moving in December. You must include some planned activity into 4 of your  7 days each week.  If you’re obese or morbidly obese, please check with your doctor and know your BMI score. Don’t overdo so that you’ll be so sore you want to give up.  Start slowly and work up. My own plan is to walk 2-4 miles 5 days a week (whether inside to DVDs like Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home or outside around my neighborhood or near my new office near MIT’s campus) and then to get to the gym or use my home WII Fit DVDs for weight and resistance training two days a week. photo credit
Also, I have found myself standing in a lot of lines in the holiday months and I have begun to do leg exercises in line… I rise up to my tiptoes (standing calf raise) and then back down… up and down… if I have the room, I do a few lunges and tighten up my core.  If you don’t interrupt those around you, no one seems to mind or notice and those who do notice are secretly admiring you!  : )

One final thing – accountability!  Please plan to check in regularly either through comments here on the blog, on Twitter using the hashtag #hlgDec2Rem or on the HealthyLoser Gal Facebook page!  Helping one another out through both the challenges and all the victories I know we will be having is so important.  You’re not alone – you have company on this challenge!  And (repeat after me…) we CAN and WILL do this!

So there you go – I hope you’ll join in the December To Remember Challenge.  #hlgDec2Rem on Twitter!  Let me know if you’re “in” and want to be part of the challenge. We will be giving ourselves the present that only we can give to ourselves:  the gift of weight loss, health, and self-esteem!

Dream. Believe. Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Ireland: Living Authentically & Transparently & Loving Life!

Please click to enlarge to see the full beauty!
Drombeg Stone Circle, Co. Cork, Ireland
And there it was again.

That complete feeling of being 'home' the moment I stepped off the plane and onto Irish soil.  I've felt it there before and the pull of my ancestoral roots was never stronger than the 17 days I spent in Ireland in September.

I went by myself, set my own schedule, did my own adventures, and soaked in every single second.  There wasn't a moment I was afraid in Ireland, nor was there a moment when I was lonely.  Every day was filled with adventure, exploration and joy.

 If I felt like climbing a steep cliff to explore castle or stone age fort ruins, I climbed it.
The castle of "the pirate queen",
Grace O'Malley
Outside of Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland

If I was hungry, I pulled over and went into a pub and tried delicious brown breads and stews or fresh-from-the-Irish-sea chowders.

I had the best salmon meals of my life while there.

 I met people at the pubs...

 and on boats, in the streets and in libraries and on country paths.

 I drank more Guinness (one pint or glass a!) than I ever have before (mainly because I don't especially like beer and don't drink it at all in the States!)

and, whenever I could, I stopped and listened to traditional Irish music sung in Irish (they don't call it Gaelic when you're there) and English and sighed with happiness when the ballads were over and clapped and whooped to the fiddles and pipes and bodhrans! 

And in the midst of it all, I took the time to pause and enjoy the moment.

The Irish in the small towns are so authentic, so openly transparent.  They don't try to put on airs to impress anyone.  They are who they are - farmers, shop owners, bakers, musicians.

They are deeply rooted to the towns they live in and are always looking for a better day, always expectant of good things to come and never forgetting, however, those that went before them.

Ireland is a land of myths and legends and astonishing history of overcoming those who have tried - again and again - to oppress them.

The Irish love a good story, want to hear yours, and want to tell you their's.  If you take the time to listen, to understand who they are, where they have been, where they want to be... you can't help but fall in love with the land and the people.

And - if you're very lucky - as I was - you'll find new friends who you can be your authentic self with, who will not judge you or try to sum you up, they are content to let you be you, whoever that is, wherever you are on life's journey.

I was 'home' for all 17 days I was 'away'.


PS:  This is only the 'tip of the iceberg' (yes, I went to the 100th Anniversary exhibit of Titantic!) on my Ireland trip. I'll be posting more photos with captions and other tidbits on my ancestoral blog: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are! sometime in the next few weeks.  :)

Part I: Think you're escaping and run into yourself...

“Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” 
― James JoyceUlysses

Click to enlarge, please!
Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland
September, 2012

I tear up a bit whenever I look at the photo above because, when I was taking the photo, I was profoundly aware of how incredibly happy I was in the moment.  I wanted to be no where else.  I wanted nothing more. I wanted to be where I was, experiencing what I was experiencing, and I soaked it all in and cried with the joy of it all.

So, my friends, here is what is going on with me. My life has changed profoundly in the last three months.  There is an old wive's tale that all things happen in threes and I have believed for a long time that the adage is true.  In the past three months - while I've been away from the blog and social media for the majority of the time - three life changing things have taken place.

I will list them in order of occurence:

My job that I have been so thankful for (see my last post on the blog) for the past going on seven years was 'dissolved' just before I went off on "sabbatical" and not later as I'd planned on.  (This was a good thing in the long run, though!)

I rediscovered the joy of living in the moment in Ireland and every moment of every day was profoundly thankful just to be healthy and happy and alive.

Even though she lives 200+ miles away, I have taken full responsibility for my elderly Mom who fell while I was away, was and continues to be hospitalized due to onset of dementia issues, and will no longer be able to be in her own home which means I have set about finding her a place to be as comfortable and content as possible as she "transitions from this life to the next" (as a dear Irish friend so poetically stated it to me).

In the past three months I have learned that life changes without a moment's notice.  You'll never be completely prepared for the onslaught of unexpected events. I don't believe we are meant to be always prepared.  But I do believe we are called to be 'present' in each moment... not to worry about the past or anticipate with trepidation what the future holds.

Longest way round is the shortest way home.

I am taking each step as it comes with decisions in my own life and in orchestrating what will be the remainder of my Mom's life.  I am not doing anything carelessly but I am not agonizing over each decision, either.  I am trusting in my gut, in what I have learned throughout my life, and in God.  In the midst of all the change, I am able to write this to you with a smile on my face and a feeling of contentment in my heart.

Oh, and here is a big a ha! moment:  I am not turning to food to get me through this time of uncertainty and change.  I am finally able to reach out and ask people for help and admit I am not able to do everything, always by myself.  Those who truly know me will understand what a huge transformation this is for "ms. independent me".

More to come here on the blog... in three additional parts on 1) my incredible trip to Ireland; 2) what I believe I have gained from not working; and 3) celebrating the good moments that remain with my mother and easing the not-so-great ones.

And last - but not least - HealthyLoserGal is oh-so-back!  I have a lot to share with you, pass along to you, and am so excited to hear about how YOU (yes, YOU!) have been doing, what is new in your life, and what challenges you've overcome while I've been away! So please update me in comments here and I'll be on Twitter and Facebook regularly again starting tomorrow, too!  Yay! : )

I've missed being here and sharing life with you, friends!

Dream ~ Believe ~ Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal 

"All In!" August Challenge

In a little more than a month, I will be flying to Ireland for 17 wondrous days as I start a six week sabbatical from work.  I am so grateful to my employers for giving me this paid sabbatical and so excited to explore Ireland for that many days and see sites that I have not been to before, revisit places I love and experience my favorite place on this beautiful planet on my own time schedule.  I leave on August 31st.

Between now and then, I have a month... the month of August to get back on track and where I want to be. To rejuvenate both my fitness routine and my health... and myself.  I will regain me again.  No excuses. No reasons that I can't do something.  I can regain my fitness and my positive energy and I will.  I am ALL IN for AUGUST!

Five days a week I will be in the gym.  I am fortunate that Fisique Fitness is in the Financial District in downtown Boston and right down the street from my relocated office. No excuse there.  I will be there daily during the work week and should be able to get 45 minutes of intensity in during my lunch hour or before the work day. I will be walking every day with my dog, Rauri, and on my own for a power walk.  Every day.  Rain or shine.  

I will continue to monitor my foods and try to eat whole foods (nothing processed) whenever possible. I will journal daily every meal and plan my foods in advance which is key for me because when I do not plan out my meals, I tend to grab whatever I want to grab.  My food will be low fat and low carb... and I won't be drinking my calories.  As much as I love Nantucket Nectars, they're high in calories and out the window for August for me. 

I'm hoping that you will join me in this intense month.. this month of ALL IN! You can do it, too.  You have some goal that you've been putting off - - maybe this is the month to commit to yourself, as I am committing to myself, and say "Yes! I can do this! I am worth this effort! I will succeed!"  And mean it.  And do it.

Let me know if you are 'in'.  You can set your own plan but to be in the challenge for August you need to do three things:  1) commit to 5x week of some sort of exercise that will get your heart rate pumping for at least 30 minutes 2) journal (your food and your emotions, your day food plan.. something) and 3) check in here through the Comments or on Facebook or Twitter with the hash tag of #hlgAugAllIn.

I will not going to Ireland feeling like I could have done more.  I will not have flabby arms in the photos I take. I will not be out of breath hiking up Croagh Patrick. I will try new things. I will be confident of how I look.  I will be satisfied with the effort I put in during August.  

Here's to our health, friends!


Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Speaking at Fitbloggin' : )

I have never been to Fitbloggin but have wanted to go badly for the last two years. This year, I am happy to say, the wait is over! And not only am I going but I am fortunate enough to have been chosen as one of the Ignite keynote speakers! :)  I'll be there in two months speaking on Staying POSITIVE on your journey wherever you are today. 

If you are not familiar with Fitbloggin, it is a fitness and health bloggers conference held in Baltimore under the capable direction of Roni Noone, one of the first people I followed on Twitter three years ago.  Not only do I get to learn from other, more experienced bloggers and be inspired by the speakers, I will be meeting in person for the first time many folks who I already consider friends! I really am excited to go!

In preparing my presentation (a Ignite Spark presentation... quick and 30 slides for predetermined amount of time... well, whatever equals 5 minutes total.. lol). I have wanted to ask others what for them is their worst stumbling block to losing weight, keeping the weight off, or execising (at all or regularly)?  What do you consider as your biggest and/or best reason you can't do some of the things you'd like to do?  Could you let me know what they are - from big to little ones - in the comments?  Thank you!

Here's to our health!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Simply Grilling: Oh-so-healthy new ways to grill!

The week of Fourth of July festivities is the perfect time to get ready for grilling season.  I recently received Jennifer Chandler‘s great “simply grilling" and have read it, cover-to-cover now, absorbed in the beautiful photographs and delicious looking recipes.

Jennifer Chandler has a simple, easy way with her recipes and grilling techniques.  A Food Network Dinner Impossible chef, she has also authored Simply Suppers and Simply Salads. You can follow her, as I do, on Twitter at @cookwjennifer.

For those of us with busy lives (read: EVERYONE! Lol) the cookbook gives many fast and tested methods that prove your backyard grill does not need to be a weekend-only activity.

I’ve already tried Jennifer‘s recipe for Lemon-Rosemary Scallops and they were "oh, MY! Delicious!"

When you are trying to keep food simple and use as many fresh ingredients as you can, simply grilling will give you inspiration and “how to”s that the most novice of grillers and chefs can easily prepare.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending me this great grilling cookbook – you’ve inspired me to break of out of my grilled chicken rut and experience new, delectable meals.

Here’s to our health~
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

The MBTA and Me and Staying On Track

So a new chapter in my life has begun this week!  I turned 54 (!!!) a few weeks ago and so –at this point in my life- I oddly seem to have a LOT of new chapters! *grin*  Luckily, many of them are of my own orchestration, but this week’s was a change in my work environs.  My company (I’ve been there for 6+ years) moved from a nearby suburban location to right-smack-dab in the middle of downtown Boston. (Cue “Ch-ch-ch-changes” music here, please!)

April, 2012 and up to 205 lbs. NOT GOOD!
My last ‘new chapter” began when I moved in January and I did that knowing that the quaint historic town I moved to was on the commuter line to Boston. Since that move in January, I have, blog-wise at least, been fairly “quiet”.  Right around Christmas time I came down with the flu (2 weeks before my move) and it then turned into one of the worst winters I have had as an asthmatic in a very long time.  I was ON prednisone more than I was off of it (prednisone is a steroid that helps reduce asthmatic inflammation) and, consequently, gained nearly 25 pounds since the New Year. TWENTY FIVE! 

It took me weeks and weeks to wrap my mind around what was happening in the midst of it happening!  I exercised only intermittently and, when I did, I was out of breath and felt out of shape. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to get into shape but it takes a relatively short time of no exercise or activity to lose the muscle tone and advantage you'd worked so hard for!  BLAH!  I went to a specialist in April and was given massive doses of antibiotics which finally knocked the chest infection out of my system.  By mid-May I began walking regularly again  - then considered a personal trainer – decided against it (I do KNOW what to do!) and rejoined the YMCA.

My energy has returned but I am certainly feeling the effects of the additional weight. There is a shame attached to the gain, too, of course, as I feel a bit of a fraud. : (  "Healthy (??) Gaining Gal" I considered using as an interim Twitter name.

Two summers ago when Geneen Roth's Women, Food & God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything was all the rage, I tried to love it (like everyone else seemed to) but I just couldn't get into it and finally gave up and put it down.

Three weeks ago I picked up the book again and was fairly sure my yellow highlighter would run out of ink before I'd gotten all the way through it! This time, I *ABSORBED* every word and Geneen Roth's lessons and words seemed directed specifically to me. I so identified with the verse below that I exclaimed, "YES!" at the little beach I was sitting and reading at - - loudly enough to turn a few heads in amusement.

"Compulsive eating is a way we leave ourselves when life gets hard. Its a way we distance ourselves from the way things are when they are not how we want them to be."   "It* is about the capacity to stay in the present moment.:"  *Ending the obsession with food.

Leaving North Station on the MBTA Train
So this new chapter I'm embarking on really isn't about riding the MBTA commuter rail an hour to and from the new office daily - although, that, too, is new - it is about embracing the continued challenge to do whatever it takes, despite the obstacles life may lay across your tracks, to stay in the present moment and get on with getting healthy. Oh! And losing weight! : )

I remain, therefore, Healthy Loser Gal!

Thanks for hanging in with me and supporting me, and - mostly - inspiring me!  I'm so grateful for you all.

Here's to our health, friends!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal

Let's all strive for this in our lives...

May Move It Challenge

Last night I recalled a playground song from when I was a kid in upstate New York. The person in the middle of the skipping circle had to jump around and/or dance wildly as everyone sang:

"Shake it! Shake it! Shake it!
Shake it if you can,
And if you cannot shake it,
Do the best you can!"

And then the person in the middle (yes, that's me in the middle of the photo on my 10th birthday! lol) would twirl around and around and finally stop and point to the next person as we sang:

"So round and round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows!"

I'm struck by "If you cannot shake it, do the best you can!"  I kind of love that line! : )  It says to me that we're not expecting you to be perfect... but, hey! Just do the best you can!  Get out there in the middle of the circle of life (cue Lion King music...) and shake it as best as you know how! 

And that, my friends, is what the theme of the May Move It Challenge is going to be.  Move it.. shake it... get out there and do it!

You've got to try something different this month, you've got to get up and out of your comfort zone and "shake it! shake it! shake it"... or in other words, let's 'move it to lose it'!

Why are you sitting at home in front of the t.v. for a few hours every night?  Couldn't you be out for a walk by yourself or tossing the frisbee with your kid?  How about remembering that favorite activity that you 'used to do' and trying it again?  The May Move It challenge is about baby steps to get you out there ready to make giant steps for your health and fitness.

This is going to be a very simple challenge.  I'm going to ask you (and myself) to commit to 30 minutes a day of movement five times a week.  If you really want to challenge yourself you'll realize that we're already 3 days into the month and count these past days as your "days off", committing to 30 minutes of movement for the next 27 days of May. 

I'm going to be walking every day but you can do whatever you  wish so long as you're moving your body for 30 minutes daily five days a week.  Who is with me? :)

Remember... if you cannot shake it, just do the best you can!

Here's to our health!

Dream. Believe. Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal