Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Healthy New Year!!

New Year’s resolutions – sigh! We make ‘em then we break ‘em. How are you doing so far?  Well how about a little “food for thought” as we continue on into a fresh and exciting 2012. For starters, if you have serious health issues, you must consult a doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program. 

When making personal health resolutions, many of us have an all or nothing approach. For example, “I will go to the gym five times a week to get back into shape” or “I will not snack at all ever again.” What we all know deep down is that these ultimatums only end in one result: failure.  A better approach is to consider your overall health goals and take manageable baby steps toward those goals.  The desired result is a happier, healthier you, and you want to do what is necessary to accomplish that as a lifelong goal, not just be swimsuit ready in May, or July as it were here in the North Country.

Recently, former President Bill Clinton was on the Rachael Ray show to talk about a program they are working on together to fight childhood obesity and make school lunches healthier. During the interview, Clinton mentioned that he had changed his eating habits after having a quadruple heart bypass in 2004, and later having stents inserted into his arteries to keep them from further blockages in 2010. He maintained that he eats, drum roll please, a mostly vegan diet.

Clinton went on to tell Ray, the studio audience and thousands of viewers at home that he does not miss eating meat or cheese at all. What does this former Rhodes scholar and Commander-in-Chief know that we don’t know? How was he able to return to his high school weight and reverse his symptoms of heart disease? Bill Clinton is fortunate to have Dr. Neil Ornish, a pioneer in the field of reversing heart disease and diabetes through diet, as a close personal friend. However, that does not mean that the rest of us can’t start our new year off on healthier footing.

Important lifestyle changes can come in small packages. If you realize that eating meat at every meal is not the healthiest way to feed yourself and your family, but you can’t go cold turkey on removing meat from your dinner table, sign on for the new “Meatless Monday” approach. At a loss for delicious, meatless recipes? Log on to http://www.relish.com/ and sign up for their weekly food newsletter. You will receive a recipe every Monday for a yummy, meatless entrée that your whole family will love. Recent recipes include Chilequiles Verde, a combination of tortillas, salsa, vegetables and cheese in a terrific potluck dish and Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna, a satisfying lasagna with sweet butternut squash and béchamel sauce.

With regard to exercise, choose a fitness goal that works with your lifestyle, and start out gradually so that you don’t burn out or injure yourself right out of the gate. Get your family or friends involved in your fitness goals, the more the merrier, and the better to motivate each other when one of you isn’t feeling the love on going out for a walk, run or spinning class. Keep a record of your exercise outings: how long you worked out, how far you ran/walked/biked and how you felt. Use an online printable fitness workout log, like the one at http://www.answerfitness.com, or create your own. Watch as you gradually improve over time, and give yourself credit for small victories.

Losing weight, getting in better shape and reducing your need for certain medications are worthy goals not just for a new year, but for a lifetime. Good health is a gift that can be achieved over time. Be patient. Just by considering making changes to your eating and exercise habits you are taking a step in the right direction. Happy New Year, and Happy New You!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yes, pun intended. The title of this blogspot is "Who Cares", and we would all like to think that we care, about something or someone, right? But how hard is it to take the time to do something to show that we care? Have you volunteered lately? Me neither. Donated to a favorite charity? Not recently. But what if I told you that there was a very simple way to demonstrate that you care to your family, and even to the global community at large? And what if I told you that you wouldn't even be mildly inconvenienced by this display of caring?

In my search to uncover a way to live a healthy lifestyle while still participating in modern day life, I have been drawn to vegetarian eating practices.  I have always loved to cook and eat good food, I even went to culinary school to learn to bake like a pro.  And to most onlookers, especially those who knew me in my more dedicated running days, I appear to lead a pretty healthful lifestyle.  But something was not quite working for me, and over time, I slowly began to eliminate meat products from my diet. It began with anything pork related. I can already hear the collective groan-yes, no bacon! no pork chops! no ham at Easter! It disappeared from my diet, and I never missed it.  

Slower to go was beef.  I have always loved a rare, yes, you heard me, rare burger, with fries, or a rare filet mignon.  But somehow, that too, was ordered out and cooked at home with decreasing frequency. Much harder to part with: birds.  I felt torn at Thanksgiving over the past few years (eating with a family that has its share of vegetarians who were offered the yearly meatless ziti as a consolation prize) about whether I could really pass up turkey. Tradition! And what fun was putting all the fixins' on the plate: stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry, gravy, if the main attraction wasn't there?  Also, those packages of sliced Sarah Lee turkey breast (with no fillers!) have been a lunch staple for my ten year old. And don't get me started on the roasted chickens from Hannaford, so easy, so...dinner is served. 

What is this crazy vegetable lover getting at? I have been meatless for about a month, I feel like I am in the confessional booth: Forgive me, readers, it has been four weeks since my last animal product..

The point is, it is not just this fairly new, mostly plant-based diet that agrees with me, but the things that I know are a by-product of my declining consumption of meat.  One is that no animals are being harmed so that I can eat meat, and the second is that the damage to the environment caused by the livestock industry is just that tiny bit lessened by my lack of meat consumption. I am showing that I care about my health, my child's health (she wants to go full on vegan but, damn, that vegan mayonnaise is expensive), the pain that is caused to the animals by inhumane factory practices, and the overall health of the environment just by eating differently.  

I am not going to be perfect at this lifestyle change, there is a high probability that I may go off the wagon on occasion, and you will be entirely within your rights to rake me over the coals when I do, but by attempting this, I am making a difference.  If even one person were to read this and say, "One day a week (okay, a month for starters) I will cook without meat as the main item on the plate for myself and for my family" you will be making a small difference, too.  You may like it so much you will up it to two days a week.  Okay, I am getting ahead of myself. I am not going to come to your house and mash tofu into the shape of a lamb (like the "Spam Lamb" on M*A*S*H) and make you eat it. What I am going to do is publish one recipe a week on this blogspot that is delicious, satisfying, oh, yeah, and meatless.  I know it's scary, I will hold your hand (ew, sweaty). You can make a yummy, healthful meal for you and your family, and show that you care. It's really that easy. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recyle or Just Throw the Darn Thing Out!

     I am a hard and fast believer in the benefits of recycling, however, not when it comes to old flames. Some time ago I attempted to breathe life, not once, but twice, into a relationship that had effectively outlasted its' usefulness. Again, the definition of crazy comes in handy here: to continue a certain behavior and expect a different outcome.

     You may think this sounds harsh, that it holds no room for hope in the ability of people to change. Maybe I seem cold-hearted and ruthless to want my friends to be happy (!) and heed this advice. Of course I believe people can change, but when they don't mention that they want to, I don't hold them to it..

So, here are a couple of reminders why old relationships should stay out of the recycle bin:

If he was always cheap, he will become cheaper. But then you never minded paying for EVERYTHING, right?

The chewing sound that he made at breakfast gets worse each time you get back together. I do not know how they measure decibals, but you must believe that it will go up exponentially each time you take him back.

The things about you that he was not feeling the love on and wanted you to change while you were together, well, he hates those things more each time you reunite. Equal time here, people.

     Now, this rule of the inherent dangers of recycling also applies to former employers. Sorry to say that there is no going back here, either, and you know why, but because I care about you I will now remind you:

See above regarding the inability of people to change, especially when they have not mentioned they want to change. Multiply 1000 times in the case of a former boss.

If you did not get that promotion the last time you worked for him/her, you sure as heck are not getting it on round two. He/she likes you right where you are. Awww, that almost sounds sweet!

You probably have not given your new job a fair chance because that awkward new job phase sucks so badly and gives you time to have totally unwarranted nostalgia about your former place of employment.

You have totally blocked out the feeling of dread you had every day that you trudged up to that building to work. This is a condition called “Employee Amnesia”. It is extremely serious and you should talk to close friends immediately if you feel yourself experiencing this. They will remind you of how often they had to listen to you complain about your old job.

     Recycling is good for the environment, and I urge everyone to continue to look for that little number on the bottom of every container you purchase and dispose of the item accordingly. Old jobs and exes are not conveniently marked with a triangle with a number inside to guide you on whether you should recycle or not. You're going to have to figure these out on your own. I know you can make the right decision. And don't feel guilty, sometimes it's okay to just throw things out.

'Til next time,

Saturday, September 18, 2010


    Remember the old "I Love Lucy" episode about Vitameatavegamin?  "Are you listless? Do you poop out at parties?"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m1Nubw8XJw If that description fits you, my guess is that an alcohol-laced tonic parading as health food will not be the cure for what ails you! What you may be in need of, however, is a "change in your trajectory", to quote my primary care doctor!
    What if someone could tell you exactly what direction you were supposed to be heading, or what you should be doing with your life? How much would you give for that information? Well, you would need to pay yourself, because that is where the answer lies.  

    But what do I really want to do, you ask? We all have different areas where we will achieve "self-actualization", or realization of our full potential. Over the years many of us have a tendency to put our dreams of our ideal job or lifestyle on hold, and eventually discard them.  We may have listened to negative thoughts swirl around our heads:  "I'm not good enough",
"That's unrealistic", "What will my parents/spouse/friends think?", or even "I'm too busy now to attempt that".  

    Step one to a more fulfilling life is to imagine a giant vacuum cleaner hose sucking out all those negative thoughts (don't miss any spots!).  Then all that is left are those little floaty specks of dust that sparkle in the sunshine!  Now you can begin to investigate, think and, yes, dream again. Desire for a gratifying life is not a bad thing, contrary to popular belief.  We are not talking about world domination here, people! 

    And what if a secondary benefit to you making positive changes in your life's direction had the domino effect of benefiting someone else?  One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Think of the world we live in as the "closed system" in Einstein's theory of relativity: Were you to make a change in your life, say, leave your current job for something more in line with your values/lifestyle/monetary needs, your vacated position would be filled by someone whose needs that job fit perfectly. 

    Whether your spiritual leanings are Christian, multi-theistic or secularly based, you have to know that God/gods/goddesses/The Universe want nothing less for all of us than to realize our fullest potential while on this earth.  And with some introspection and a little effort, we can move ourselves closer to a life we love living.

    Use the resources cited here to put down on paper the desires you may have forgotten you ever had: 


Art of Achievement Tom Morris
Something-More-Excavating-Your-Authentic Self

     We all deserve a shot at the life we want, now go for it!

'Til next time,





Saturday, August 28, 2010

Are you going to eat that?

    What is food?  Please see definitions below:


-noun 1. any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.  (dictionary.com)


Food is any substance or material[1] eaten to provide nutritional support for the body or for pleasure. (en.wikipedia.org)

     People eat a lot of foods that are non-nutritive: I know two year old's who eat paste, glue and crayons for pleasure. What about people who have pica? Those who have this disorder eat dirt, paper, clay and soap.  

    I would never tell you what to eat, and this is not about eating healthily (phew, thank god, you can keep reading!).  However,... I care about you, and I have a very important question to ask: Are Pringles food?  A few years back there was debate about whether Pringles were indeed a "potato chip", as they are made up of less than 50% potato product.  The majority of the starch in Pringles is wheat, so Proctor & Gamble was forced to change the name to "potato crisp".  Pringles are actually made of dehydrated potato flakes, and a special machine was developed which molds them into their now famous saddle shape.

     So, does a Pringle fit the definition of food? (I am going so easy on you,I haven't even mentioned the Olestra debacle, that had folks on the "run" (yes, you remember!).  Could Pringles  sustain you on a desert island until help arrived? Probably, yes. Could you make better food choices when not fighting to survive? Please say yes, please say yes!

     I do not have it in for Pringles.  I think they are cute, and I remember the ads from the '70's.  However, I want to make good food choices, and buying a "food" that isn't even made up of the item it pretends to be is not me at my educated consumer best.  When I have a craving for potato chips I would reach for a bag of Cape Cod Chips that look like real potato slices fried in oil (yum!).  (I do not work for Cape Cod Chips, I swear!)

     How cool is this blog? I am not telling you to stop eating potato chips, I am asking you to eat real potato chips, or real whatever else it is that you want to eat.  Get the real deal.  We have the airline industry, the auto industry, the food industry?!!  Yes, that's right, the industrial revolution changed the way we made our food.  And there is a whole industry in place that will keep making up new "foods", fats and sweeteners as long as we continue to buy them.  

     I don't want you to pound your own corn and make your own tortilla chips.  We have busy lives and we need a little help. Just think before you buy, go for the least processed, most real food you can find.  To paraphrase Michael Pollan "If your grandmother wouldn't recognize it, it's not food." http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/ 

     Now, get out there and make me proud! Eat real food!  

'Til next time,






Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tomorrow is Another Day

    I was reading an old journal I kept of my daughter Ava's antics that I wrote in regularly when she was little.  When she was a year and a half old I made the following entry: "Today you unraveled 75 feet of waxed paper-rather than get mad, I scooped it up in the air and screamed "Wheeeeeee"!! and you (Ava) joined in! We wore it as boas around our necks and carried it like flags 'til it was ragged." 

     I read this to Ava (now nine and a half, going on seventeen) and she said, "Mom, you would never do that now."  And I knew she was right!  I needed to figure out why. It is not as simple as the fact that she is growing up and I expect more from her, it's actually not about her at all.  It's about getting so bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life that you cease to find joy, or even a mild chuckle, in the situations and predicaments life hands us so regularly.

    Now, whenever a day is going particularly awry, I use my Scarlett O'Hara mantra, "Tomorrow is another day".  Life has an amazing capacity for offering us "do overs".  We can go to sleep, get a good night's rest, wake up and vow to do better the next day, even if just a little bit.   This is a little bit of a cop out, but it has worked for me in the past(!)  

    However, imagine if rather than waiting for the next morning to start fresh, we accept life's little challenges as they arrive on our laps and greet them with a fresh perspective. What if we laughed when the cat tipped over the milk, we sang that song playing on the radio instead of cursing at the slow car in front of us, or we apologized for snapping at our kids or our spouse for something of relatively little importance. 

    I have just read an amazing book that chronicles the ability that we all have within us to begin to greet life's challenges with a positive attitude and increase our joy, hopefulness and gratitude exponentially in a way that will truly change our lives.  It calls to mind the concept of "mindfulness" in Buddhist traditions that has been associated with alleviating anxiety, depression and a host of physical ailments. (No, I do not get a commission!) Check out the link below and read a few pages from this true pioneer in the field of psychology, for free!

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive by Barbara Frederickson 


   Okay, let's face it. This book is not going to walk your dog for you, and it won't cook dinner for your family when you come home from work completely worn out.  But you may look at your neighborhood in a different way while you are out walking the dog, and you may feel immense gratitude as your family eats the meal you cooked that they are all healthy and chewing with their mouths closed.  Works for me!

    I think you get the idea, and I hope you are smiling even if reading this made you late for work.  If not, revert to the wisdom of Scarlett O'Hara and let me know how it goes...

'Til next time,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We Can Make it Better-Yeah!


Everyone knows we need to slow down, stop and smell the roses, eat healthy, excercise, be kind to our family, find meaningful work, spend time with friends, right? And when we do even one of the above things, we feel good, right? Then why aren't these things that are good for us easier to do on a regular basis? 

It begs that old adage about the definition of crazy: You are crazy if you constantly engage in a certain behavior and expect a different outcomeWhy would we expect to feel better on any given day if every night we come home and eat a microwave or takeout dinner, drink a few beers and slouch down in front of the tubeThere is an old Buddhist proverb: To wish is to want what is the opposite of our existence (paraphrasing, people!).  We cannot "wish" for life to get better, we have to actively participate in making it happen. Ugh, that sounds like it is going to require effort! Truly, thinking about making things better, no matter what that thing is, is the first step toward making it better 

I am not a Pollyanna and I know these are tough times for many people, myself included, but little things do really make a difference, in your own life and the lives of others.  In this blog I will share everything from books, movies, and music to recipes, and your stories if you will share them, of the baby steps that we can all take toward living lives that we feel better about.  There is no magic pill, we have to do this the old fashioned way, but when you connect with other people and the scales start tipping in your favor in a way that has you smiling, we all will benefit.  We are all in this together (no, that is not a "High School Musical" quote!).

So, come back again and check out this blog. I promise, it won't hurt a bit.

Carpe diem, or maybe just carpe a few minutes,