Archive for February, 2012

I love this recipe at Savory Simple! I plan to try it soon and to change it up every time I make it.

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I planned to post about stress management today, but nothing inspirational was coming to me and I couldn’t find anything particularly interesting on the subject that I wanted to share with you. Fortunately, as I was looking for good information for a post about stress management, I visited An Associate’s Mind (on my blogroll) and saw a post entitled “Perfection is an Illusion, There is Only Process.” This caught my attention.

perfect blocksI tend toward perfectionism, and many of the people in my daily life are more perfectionistic (is that a word?) than I am. Since having a baby about a year and a half ago, my perfection attitude has slowly diminished as I realize — sometimes to my dismay and disappointment — that I cannot achieve the perfection that I once thought was possible. So I thought I would share this post with you. Keith Lee, the blogger at An Associate’s Mind, writes the following:

I noticed a post over at Bnet recently entitled “Perfectionism is a Disease.” It offers three tips to ward off Perfectionism:

1. Allow yourself to be wrong in front of others.

We learn by making mistakes. The only way we understand ourselves is to test our limits. If we don’t want anyone to know we make mistakes, which is how perfectionists tend to behave, we are actually hiding our true selves.

2. Be a hard worker rather than a perfectionist.

Smart people cut corners. The art of being a star performer is knowing which corners to cut. Focus on your goals, and be honest with yourself about whether your goals require perfectionism along the way. A lot of times perfectionism is a way to avoid focusing on goals. Real goals, after all, almost always require a little bit of luck and assistance along the way — factors the perfectionists tend to dismiss.

3. Spend your energy making yourself likable.

Tiziana Casciaro reports in the Harvard Business Review that people are not all that interested in you being super-good at your job. They care if they like you. And, Casciaro found that if someone does not like you, he or she will decide you’re incompetent whether you are or not.

Read the full post here.

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I keep granola bars around at all times. I keep them in the house. I keep them in the car. I keep one in my purse. I do this so that I always have something relatively healthy to eat if I find myself out and about with little time and lots of hunger. So I was happy when my friend Darci showed up at our recipe club with a recipe for chewy granola bars. I’ve never made my own granola bars, and, honestly, I didn’t see any reason why I’d want to take the time to make my own. But I have had a couple bags of rolled oats in our pantry for a while and I haven’t eaten them. Since this is the main ingredient in the recipe, I thought: what the heck?! I’m all for saving money by eating what we have in the house and I really don’t like to throw food out (so wasteful).

ingredientsWell, am I glad I made these! Darci was right; they really are easy and it’s virtually impossible to screw them up. Unlike many things that you bake, you can mess with the ingredients willy-nilly and it still comes out great! And this is the way I like to cook: a little of this, a little of that! I think these would also be a great breakfast on the go. They way I made them, they taste like cinnamon raisin oatmeal, but in a bar. How awesome is that?! And I can control the amount of sugar and sodium so I know exactly what I am eating. Also awesome!

Here’s the recipe for Darci’s Chewy Granola Bars:


  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup butter softened (I substituted 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup honey (I just drizzled a bunch in without measuring it)
  • 1/3 brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup white sugar because my brown sugar was rock solid and I didn’t have time to deal with it)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used a small package of raisins instead)
  • chopped nuts (I used a bunch of pecans; sorry, again, no measuring)
  • optional: 2 eggs (I didn’t use eggs)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 9×13 pan (I used cooking oil spray).

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool (at least 10 minutes) before cutting into bars.

And VOILA! Yummy homemade granola bars. I think next time I’ll make them with peanut butter instead of apple sauce and chocolate chips instead of raisins. Then after that, I’ll use craisins and almond slivers. And after that….

What do you think would be good?

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Time and money balanceIf you are like me, you are constantly trying to find that ever elusive BALANCE in your life. That (apparently unattainable) place where you are able to spread your time and talents across all parts of your life and take care of yourself, eveyone you love, be a great person, and never feel like your TO-DO list is longer than a piece of paper stretching around the world four times! One thing I have learned — especially since becoming a mother — is this: if I want to get closer to balance (and not feel overwhelmed), then I need help.

Of course, asking for help is not part of my DNA. I have to work at it. Sometimes it doesn’t even occur to me that I could ask for help. I could spend lots of time trying to figure out a way to fit just 30 more minutes of productive time into my day, rearranging my schedule, staying up later, skipping the gym, or many other unfruitful ways to make 24 hours into 24.5 hours. But how about this?

Instead of trying to figure out how you can do even more, how about trying to figure out who can help you so that you don’t need to do more?!

For example, who can I ask (or pay) to:

  • clean the house
  • do my shopping
  • watch the baby
  • do my administrative tasks
  • organize my closet
  • cook dinners
  • pick up dry cleaning
  • walk the dogs

These are just some of the things that I could use help with. I could ask my husband, babysitter, friends, and neighbors to help. I could pay them, or barter. Or I could hire someone who does these things for a living, like  a cook or virtual secretary or dog walker. Get creative!

What can you use help with, and who can help you?

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So how did you do with your food diary? I hope that you were able to learn something about what you eat, when you eat, why you eat (not just because you’re hungry, right?), and what you are doing well and where you could improve. Now that you are getting a grip on what you are eating, let’s talk a bit about how much you should be eating. This is the next step in any health and fitness goals supporting or sabatoged by food.

CaloriesThere is no magic quantity of food that is right for everyone.  While counting calories is not something that everyone will want to practice, it is the best, most straight-forward, and most accurate tool for determining the right quantity of food for each person.  The bad news is that it involves some math and actually counting every calorie that you consume. The good news is that you only need to do the math once, and you only need to count calories meticulously for about two weeks in order to gain a basic understanding of the amount of calories you need.  Plus, since our diets are generally repetitive, after a few weeks of counting, you will be able to accurately estimate the number of calories in most of your foods.

So how do you Estimate Your Caloric Needs?

Using the Harris-Benedict principle, you can estimate your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy that your body needs to function.  This number is influenced by the number of calories needed for basic bodily functions, and by height, weight, age, and gender.

Using this number, you can estimate your daily caloric needs in order to maintain your current weight.

Calculate your BMR

655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

When I do this calculation, I get 1347.6 as my BMR.

Now Calculate Your Activity Number. 

If you are sedentary: BMR x 20 percent

If you are lightly active: BMR x 30 percent

If you are moderately active (exercise most days a week.): BMR x 40 percent

If you are very active (exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods.): BMR x 50 percent

If you are extra active (hard labor or are in athletic training.): BMR x 60 percent

I do two calculations because some weeks and months I am lightly active and others I am moderately active.  My two numbers are 404.28 (1347.6 x 0.3) and 539.04 (1347.6 x 0.4).

Add this Activity Number to your BMR.  When I add these numbers to my BMR, I get approximately 1750 and 1885.

The result of this formula is the number of calories you can eat every day and maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight, then you will need to either reduce your caloric intake, or burn more calories by exercising, or both. So, for me, based upon the Harris-Benedict calculation, in order to maintain my weight, I want to eat between 1750 and 1885 calories per day.

Of course, this is only one method of calculating caloric intake.  There are many online calculators as well.  For example, there is a great, and simple, online calculator at www.shapefit.com.  When I enter my information (gender, height, weight, age, activity level), I get 1995 per day for weeks that I am moderately active and 1725 per day for weeks that I am lightly active. I can average those out to approximately 1850 calories per day and try to stay within 150 calories on either side of that number.

There is a similar online calculator at www.NutritionData.com that gives me a number of approximately 2100 calories.  And another one at www.CalorieKing.com that calculates my daily caloric intake at 1625.

Then Experiment! With all these differing numbers, how do you know which number is the right one for me?  Experimentation.  I have to try out the varying amount of calories over the course of a few weeks and see how it makes me feel, and if I gain, lose, or maintain weight.  I have done this and know that if I eat 2100 calories per day, I gain weight, but if I only eat 1625 calories, I am hungry, tired, and lose weight.  Between 1750 and 1900 calories per day works for me as a maintenance diet.

Experimentation is what you need to do as well. Use the Harris-Benedict calculation or the online calculators as a guide on where to start in determining the right quantity of food on a daily basis for your body, metabolism, and lifestyle. Keep up your experiments for two weeks. Then we’ll discuss how the kinds of foods you eat can help you reach your goals without feeling deprived or hungry!

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Food Diary Challenge

When we have a goal, it is important to track our progress so we know how to succeed and when we succeed. If you have a food-related goal — for example, to eat more healthy foods, to significantly cut back on junk food and sugar, to lose weight — then keeping a food diary is a very important tool that I challenge you to use for the next 10 days.

The food diary is a powerful tool to bring awareness to our eating patterns. So often, we eat mindlessly. In order to reach any goal that is related to food, we must start eating mindfully. The food diary will make you aware of what you eat because you will be required to write it down. I encourage you to write it down when you eat it because if you wait til the end of the day, you will forget things. As you write down what you are eating, also write down how that food makes you feel: too full, satiated, bloated, headache, tired, distracted, alert, focused, hungry soon after, irritable, hyper, etc.

For some people, the idea of keeping a food diary makes them uneasy because sometimes we don’t really want to know what we are eating. We can keep denying any problems that we have with food or our diet if we don’t pay close attention to what we are eating. While writing things down may sound silly and unnecessary, it is not. In fact, you may be surprised at the feelings you attach to your food. You may even be surprised that food has an even bigger emotional charge for you than you realized.

So, keep a food diary for the next 10 days to get a handle on what you are eating. Once you do that, I’ll challenge you to evaluate what you learned and develop goals to make the changes you want.

Here is a Sample Food Diary Page; print numerous copies. You can also use the many online food diaries (just do a Google search). Or just use a small notebook that you keep in your purse or pocket.

This food diary process is designed to be fun, informative and free of negative judgments. If negative feelings arise, or you feel guilty for eating something “bad.” just remember that recording this information will help you later see the connection between what you eat and how you feel.

If you forget to write a meal or even several days down, just keep going. It’s all fine.

Sources: Institute for Integrative NutritionPotatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD, Simon & Schuster.

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