Tag Archives: water

This Summer, Follow Your Gut

5 Jun
archway at Descanso Gardens

An archway of branches at Descanso Gardens in Southern California. It’s a beautiful place to explore. What’s keeping you from exploring new activities and places this summer?

Summertime, like New Year’s, can be a great launch point for new goals and adventures. It’s not only a clean slate, but also a season that enables you to be more active and that inspires happiness and fun. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve reached a plateau. I’m at a point, physically, where I need to amp up my weight loss methods in order to keep my metabolism high and lose more weight. I’m also at a point, emotionally, where I feel like if I don’t get up and run with some of my project ideas, I’ll miss out on some great opportunities. With all that in mind, I’m kicking off summer with a reinvigorated mindset. I have all the tools necessary to accomplish my weight loss goals. It’s time to kick myself into high gear. Here are some of the plans I’m making for summertime weight loss:

  • I will follow my gut, take more risks, and try things I’ve never tried before. Experience can only be gained by trying something new…and if you fail in the process, you’ve learned even more. I’d rather see what’s on the other side of trying than to sit on this plateau and not try.
  • I will give myself a mini-makeover. I have an extremely limited budget. I mean, money is really tight these days. So doing things that cost money is usually ruled out for the time being. However, there are small, inexpensive ways to boost your self-confidence and have some fun. Like my budget, my old jeans are still too tight. Instead of getting hung up on what I can’t wear, I’m pulling out all of my skirts and sundresses and mixing them up with other clothes to make new outfits. I’m also thinking I’ll dye my brown hair blonde for the summer. That kind of change gives your system a real jolt and can help give your attitude a new spin.
  • I will listen to a record or CD every day. Instead of sitting down for an hour to watch a TV show or read articles online, I will choose instead to dust off an old album or disc and keep moving–standing, stretching, dancing, anything but sitting!
  • I will explore new places. I will find as many places I can to walk to or drive to (if they have free admission) so that I can see more, hear more, and feel more. Sometimes a different bird call or view can tap into a sense or memory that leads to new inspiration. I will also take my sketch pad with me and start drawing again. It’s so much more relaxing than vegging out in front of the TV.
  • Speaking of vegging out, I will dedicate this summer to trying new veggies and new ways of cooking them. Summer is probably the best time of year to take advantage of local produce markets and farmers. I realized yesterday that I pretty much only boil my veggies unless I throw them in the baking pan with some chicken or fish. I want to break away from this habit and learn new ways to incorporate veggies into our meals (besides my love for making veggie dip). My first experiment will be using the indoor grill to make different types of veggie skewers.
  • I will use the longer daytime hours to my advantage. One of my favorite things about summer is the longer days. I feel like the extended daylight gives me extra energy and opportunity. Now that it’s still light out even after we have dinner, I’m going to start suggesting we go for evening walks. It’s time together; it’s good for digestion; and we may learn something new about our neighborhood.
  • I will indulge in more fun and games this summer, including but not limited to hula hoop, jump rope, beach fun, and dancing. Anytime there is a chance or invitation for fun and physical activity, I will do myself and my body a favor and say yes!

What are your weight loss plans for this summer? How are you going to keep motivated to stay active? Share your thoughts, struggles, questions, or achievements in the comments section. Good luck!

–Michelle

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3 Ways to Eat Barley

22 May

Barley is an excellent source of fiber and essential amino acids (Google it or read the package it comes in). In addition to loving its taste and texture, I’ve noticed that it really has helped improve my digestive system. This fact is not only good news for my general health, but it also seems to have helped boost my metabolism. I feel like eating more yummy sources of fiber, like barley, is helping me lose weight in a really healthy way. Plus, barley is such a versatile grain. Below are just three ways I have incorporated it into our meals. I look forward to hearing more ideas from you readers! [Note: Barley does contain gluten.]

fried egg on barley

For a breakfast high in protein and fiber, throw a fried egg on some boiled barley and enjoy the yumminess!

Breakfast

By itself, boiled barley has a hearty grain taste. I like to cook it for a long time, stirring frequently (and occasionally adding extra water) so that the barley is soft and tender and the starch water thickens to a yummy consistency. Add a bit of salt while cooking. A bowl of this plain barley as a porridge can be a terrific alternative to oatmeal. Or, for extra protein and variety, throw a fried egg on top. It makes for a great-tasting, super healthy breakfast. By the way, in my experience, barley always takes longer to fully cook than the package indicates, so allow for extra boiling time.

Side Dish

The other day, I mixed boiled pearled barley with choclo cut off the cob. (Peruvian corn; for image and other uses, see this recipe). I boiled both separately first, then mixed them together and boiled them for an additional 30 minutes with some butter and salt (stirring every few minutes). The resulting side dish was one of the yummiest things I’ve made in a while. The texture of the corn perfectly complimented the barley. The taste of the extra soft barley with the potato-like corn and butter blended so well! I took some over to Vita’s apartment and we gobbled it all up. We started calling it kasha, which she taught me is a Russian word for a savory, hearty side dish like this turned out to be.

Main Course

I always cook enough dinner so that there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes there’s even more than that so I try to get creative and use the leftovers in new ways so that we’re not eating the same thing for three or four days in a row. For example, back in April, I made a giant batch of pea soup. There is still one small container of it in the freezer. Once defrosted, it will be enough for one big lunch or two small sides for dinner. However, I’ve also got some plain boiled barley left in the fridge, which can be an excellent ingredient in soup. So, I’m going to combine the leftover soup and the barley as a base for a stew. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I plan to add some carrots and maybe also some choclo. It’ll be one of the heartiest vegetable stews I’ve ever made. We also have some leftover pulled pork roast, which could be added since the soup was originally ham stock-based, but I’m not sure about that yet.

pearled barley

Barley is a great source of fiber and amino acids. This tasty grain can be used in many types of hot and cold dishes.

There are so many other ways to cook barley. I even saw some recipes for salads that mix barley with soybeans and other veggies, which sounds really yummy. For a salad, I would stop cooking the barley once it reached a sort of “al dente” texture so that it would blend well with other cold veggies because you wouldn’t want mushy barley in a salad.

I hope you enjoy trying it out in new ways in your life!

–Michelle

No Pain, No Gain

14 May

When you’re trying to lose weight, there are days when you’re hungry, cranky, and sore. I’m hungry and sore today…and I’d be cranky too if it weren’t so darn beautiful and sunny outside. Our perspective on healthy weight loss has been to not deprive ourselves of things we want but to instead focus on moderation and nutritious choices. But when you’re modifying your portion sizes and eating habits, inevitably there are days when you’re going to feel frustrated. To get through this mood without letting it sabotage my progress, I’m going to try this today: Continue reading

Avoiding Emotional Eating: How to Distract Yourself from Unhealthy Snacking

10 May
loco at computer

Just me and my cat today, hard at work at my desk. As long as he lays on my arm, I can’t use it to snack. ;)

Today isn’t easy for me. I’m stressed about my freelance work, I’m applying for full-time work with no call-backs yet, I’m still too sore to exercise much, and my friends are busy so it’s just me and the cat. I’m so tempted to gorge on candy, Pop Tarts, nachos, ice cream, or chili-cheese fries. Fortunately, we don’t have any of that in the house right now. I’m about to go run some errands and I know I’m going to want to stop at a fast food drive-thru, which I also know I don’t really want to do (see this post: Dropping the Drive-Thru). To help myself not eat my way through this stressful day, I’m making this list of distractions and reasons to avoid temptation. I hope it helps you too. Continue reading

How to Burn 2000 Calories in One Day at Home!

9 May
michelle's plants

Spring cleaning burns tons of calories. The only household task I can’t count is gardening because these are the only plants I have–one amaryllis and two black succulents.

Every little calorie burned helps me get one step closer to achieving my goal of losing 40 pounds. To keep me motivated, I decided to educate myself about how the little activities I do can add up.

Since I work from home, I structured my schedule this week to allow a day for taking care of household chores that have been piling up since my husband and I have been busy with work (spring cleaning!). All calorie-burning data is from the WebMD Fit-O-Meter (and all data is calculated based on my personal weight; you should enter your own weight to get the most accurate data for yourself). And, if you turn on some upbeat music while you’re doing stuff, it really helps your brain and body increase your activity level.

  • Make breakfast: Making breakfast takes about 10 minutes and burns 30 calories. Clearing breakfast dishes in 5 minutes burns 18 calories. In total, burns 48 calories.
  • Make the bed: Making the bed takes 5 minutes. Burns 15 calories.
  • Wash the dishes: Takes about 15 minutes. Burns 51 calories.
  • Go grocery shopping: Grocery shopping with a cart takes 20 minutes and burns 68 calories. Carrying a load of groceries to and from the car and the apartment takes about 15 minutes and burns 166 calories. Putting them all away takes about 10 minutes and burns 37 calories. Burns a total of 271 calories.
  • Dust the house: The entire house takes about half an hour to dust thoroughly (lots of bookshelves). Burns 111 calories.
  • Mop the kitchen floor: Takes 15 minutes to mop the kitchen. Burns 78 calories.
  • Vacuum the house: The whole apartment takes 30 minutes to vacuum. Burns 155 calories.
  • Scrub the bathtub: Cleaning the shower and bathtub well takes about 20 minutes of scrubbing and rinsing. Burns 112 calories.
  • Bathe and groom the cat: Takes about 20 minutes from the time I find the cat, scrub him with cat shampoo, rinse, dry, and brush. Burns 103 calories.
  • Reorganize the hall closet and file cabinet (includes some moderate lifting): Takes about 45 minutes. Burns 233 calories.
  • Fold the laundry: Standing while folding a couple loads of laundry takes 15 minutes. Burns 44 calories.
  • Make dinner: From prep to cooking to serving takes about an hour (standing and sitting). Burns 177 calories.
  • Do the dishes again: Takes about 15 minutes. Burns 51 calories.
  • Clean out the bedroom closets: Takes about an hour. Burns 310 calories.

TOTAL: Calories burned from all activities listed above: 1759 calories burned!

Add a stretch break! Whether you’re doing a lot of physical activity or just sitting around all day, your body can benefit in many ways from stretching. A total of 30 minutes of stretching burns 111 calories.

Count your walking! Light and moderate walking throughout the day between tasks counts too! Just one hour of general walking activity burns 266 calories.

Of course, no one wants or needs to do all of those chores in a single day on a regular basis. This was basically our spring cleaning. However, several of these daily tasks really do add up to make a difference in our daily dieting lives. Keeping these numbers in mind can help maintain a positive outlook toward daily weight loss activities. And don’t forget to drink lots of water and get a good night’s rest because both of those things help maintain your body’s metabolism.

Now that I know how many calories can be burned doing each of these household tasks, I can use the information to my advantage. If I eat a heavy dinner, I’ll work it off at the grocery store the next day. If I want a 100-calorie snack, I’ll bathe the cat afterward to burn it off. The cat may not think it’s funny, but I have to keep a sense of humor when I’m dieting! :D

Let me know what you think in the comments section!

–Michelle

Special Order with a Smile

7 May
Sally special orders her food

In “When Harry Met Sally,” Sally special orders everything to suit her personal tastes without any hesitation when making the requests.

When you’re dieting, it can be tough to have fun going out with friends who aren’t dieting. Instead of staring at a restaurant menu feeling guilty, get creative. If you’re polite and kind, pretty much any restaurant will let you special order something to suit your needs. (Check out this great scene from “When Harry Met Sally” when Harry first hears how Sally special orders everything. Love it!) Here are some ideas to help you special order when you’re out so that you can keep losing weight:

  • Order a combination of small items from the appetizer and side dish sections of the menu. For example, you can get an appetizer of shrimp or small pieces of chicken and combine that with a small side of a favorite veggie. This way, you’re not getting the huge entree-size portion and you’re only eating one side dish instead of also having a roll, soup, potato with butter, etc. Continue reading

A Single Serving at a Holiday Feast

9 Apr

I hope you all had a lovely Passover and Easter weekend!

Easter lilly

An Easter lily at my mom's house where we had dinner.

Dishing out heaping spoonfuls of all my favorite things is my usual modus operandi at holiday gatherings (especially gravy-soaked Thanksgiving). I certainly did plenty of overeating while visiting my husband’s family in New Jersey last week (more on that tomorrow). This Easter at my mom’s house in Los Angeles, however, I think I kept myself pretty well under control…even if I did start the day with a Cadbury caramel chocolate egg. That’s better than no breakfast at all, right? It would have been rude to not partake of gifts from the Easter Bunny. ;)

After a prayer, my family celebrated with a typical American Easter meal: a ham drizzled with a mixture of pineapple juice and golden (not dark) brown sugar; creamy mashed potatoes with butter; great northern beans; and corn bread muffins. In years past, we’ve varied our veggie choice (usually we have green beans) but this is what sounded good this weekend. As difficult as it was–because the food was so yummy–I only took one normal-sized serving of each item. Taking only one serving of  a holiday dinner is a big step forward for me. Diet Drop is about empowering ourselves to make healthier choices in order to lose weight by freeing ourselves of strict diet plans and supporting each other through friendship. I’ve described in previous posts (like this one) how our friendship has helped me immensely. Now, I feel like I’ve taken another baby-step forward in terms of making better eating choices. Maybe it seems silly to make such a big deal about only taking one serving. But, to me, it is a big deal.

Continue reading

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