Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Surprise Workout CD of the Week!

Like most people I know, I love working out to music. When I was teaching spinning (more on that in a later post) I would spend days putting together the perfect play lists.

Sometimes, however, I’ll stumble across a perfect album – that is, one that’s just made for working out.

The first one I found (not a week ago mind you, as suggested by the title of this post, but rather a couple of months ago), was Stop Making Sense, by the Talking Heads. There are actually two versions of this album, which, technically, is a soundtrack. I prefer the first release, which (it’s only fault) is only 50 minutes.

The general gist of the film is that then lead vocalist David Byrne comes out solo with only a boom box and is joined by another member of the band with each song. Thus, the music gets more intense, more driving, with each successive phase. This is a great workout CD precisely because it was such a great dance album! In fact, Stop Making Sense was often considered in the ’80s as the dance album. It starts slow, builds to a crescendo and brings you back down again.

Because I usually do an hour of cardio (which includes a warm up and a cool down) I actually loop the album to start again. Because the first song, Psycho Killer, makes as good of a cool down as it did a warm up!

But my find this week is even weirder than that. Get ready: Disc 1 of the Grateful Dead’s Nightfall of Diamonds. Unlike the preceding mention, this puppy is 64 minutes with a convenient tuning break 42 minutes in which gives you plenty of opportunity to catch your breath and hydrate! Unlike Stop Making Sense which is a soundtrack of a concert, Nightfall of Diamonds is actually a live album. I’m beginning to appreciate live music as a way to work out, because if the recording is good (that is, there are no artificial pauses between the songs put it in my helpful music industry suits who seem to have no appreciation for the music itself) there is an energy that is inherent to live performance that can pull you along in terms of your workout.

Interestingly enough, I did not grow up listening to Talking Heads or Grateful Dead. I grew up on Duran Duran. And, just in case there’s any question, my current workout iPod contains, given my age, an embarrassingly large collection of P!nk, Britney Spears, the Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Linkin Park, etc. However, no one would be that surprised if I showed people what is on my standard workout play lists, because lot of people work out to that stuff.

But I thought it was worth sharing the stuff that doesn’t necessarily seem that intuitively obvious. And to encourage you to approach your record collection (or in my case, someone else’s record collection) with new ears, as well as for new motivation.

Regardless, I’d love to hear what you’re working out to these days. There’s nothing worse than getting bored with your music. So send it on! I’ll be happy to check it out!

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Light and “lively” entertaining: simple dinner party ideas

MJ and I love to throw dinner parties. Typically, we end up cooking Indian food or something else that’s equally complicated or heavy.

Last night we had people over and I decided to go simple.

1) I didn’t have all day to prepare (it was sort of last minute on everyone’s part)
2) Our guests, while foodies, tend to be more snackers than big meal type of people
3) I’ve been working really hard to get my body back from it’s unnatural post-vacation state and I didn’t feel like having a big meat-, carb-, or sauce-heavy meal was going to get me there any sooner.

I really wish I had taken a picture to show you how gorgeous this ended up being. And, more importantly, I can’t even explain how easy it was to put together.

Essentially, we had a local food party. It consisted of freshly picked spinach and arugula, mushrooms, yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, tabbouleh (made with fresh mint and parsley), roasted golden beets, heirloom tomatoes, raw organic almonds (okay, not so local), locally baked bread, locally made cheese (one goat and one made from raw cow’s milk) organic extra virgin olive oil, baba ganoushe and hummus from the local Coop, corn on the cob, and some Quinoa Peruvian Stew that I happened to have in the fridge.

Instead of making a salad, I put out everything in multicolored mix-matched bowls that facilitated not only custom meals, but also easy snacking.

I served the snacky stuff on a wooden tray table out on the deck (before it got chilly and we were forced to move indoors for the main course, which was comprised of the tabbouleh, the stew (served in tiny little bowls) and the corn.

I also served the wine, which meant that I controlled the pours. Since MJ and I are in the process of tasting some of the wine we bought in Mendocino, I did have a single glass of each of the bottles; however, I split the difference between MJ and our guests. Everyone was happy. And because there were so many vegetables (all of which tasted great with the wine), it was easy to munch without feeling bad about it or (God forbid) feeling deprived!

It was really delicious and really easy. Normally when I invite people over, I always think that you have to really do something hard or impressive. Though, in all fairness, that’s probably because I’m a bit shy and would rather be in the kitchen instead of in the conversation.

This time. with a few exceptions, we ate what we normally eat: salad, soup, corn, and sometimes (though not often) bread. Granted, we normally don’t have goat cheese or wine with dinner, but we were having guests. Although I enjoy the big dinner party, there was something nice about just having someone over for a meal. In some ways, it’s way more intimate, as you’re inviting someone for the company, not necessarily the food. It was also easier for me to just enjoy the evening.

So next time you invite someone over, keep it simple. Put your energy into the conversation and put the preparation on the back burner. And if you have other simple entertaining strategies, please pass them on!

heirloom-tomatoes

Photo Credit: Rock Walker

Tired of water? Mix it up (and drink it down)

No matter whether it’s six or eight glasses a day, it’s common knowledge that the body needs water to function properly – it is primarily made of water after all! When you’re dieting or trying to lose fat, it’s even more important to drink water, as it’s the water (and the associated lymph) that carries all of that fat out of the system! When you drink lots of water (another recommendation is half of your body weight in ounces), you’re also less likely to be hungry, less likely to overeat or to fill up on junk in order to feel more energetic. The latter is especially true because water actually gives you energy by removing all of the toxic stuff out of your body! And if that wasn’t enough of a why, it also improves skin elasticity and makes you look younger!

Even though I know that drinking water is just as important (if not more so) as maintaining a healthy food diet and getting regular exercise, it tends to be the first thing I let slip when I’m tired or stressed. It’s ridiculous. Why would I stop doing something that’s so simple, especially when it gets me such great results? It’s particularly stupid because I’ll exercise and not drink enough water, which leads to an even more advanced stage of dehydration. Now a lot of people think that they’re not dehydrated because they’re not thirsty. Thirst is a warning sign! When you start feeling thirsty, it’s too late. Most nutritionists recommend that you take a sip of water every fifteen minutes! Whether you feel thirsty or not!

So why would I not drink water? Why might you not be drinking enough?

Personally, I get bored. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of water; I do. But then again I have a well and am not dependent on city tap water, which does (unfortunately) come in a variety of flavors, largely based on your location! But filters do work wonders and there are a number available all at varying price-points for sale on-line.

But, when I am legitimately tired of water, I do sub in other options that still count as water. So, how to get more water into your diet?

As I mentioned before, I make protein shakes. I tend to mix the protein powder and liquid with two trays of ice cubes; although frozen, ice does count as water! You even burn more calories because your body has to bring it up to temperature!

Another way to make water more exciting is just to simply make up a pitcher of ice water and cucumber slices and let the flavor seep in. I had this at a spa recently and it was fabulous! Unbelievably refreshing! Since then, I’ve seen people do the same thing with fresh mint, fresh blackberries or fresh raspberries.

My personal favorite, especially in the winter months (which, unfortunately are back on the horizon) is to drink caffeine-free herbal tea. Stay away from decaffeinated coffees or black tea, which contain marginal amounts of caffeine, as well as all of the residual chemicals that it took to decaffeinate it to begin with! This works especially well for me because you can really mix up the flavors and you can mess with the intensity and sweetness by varying the steeping time as well as the amount of sweetener (if any) that you use. My favorite sweetener is Stevia Plus, by Sweet Leaf. Stevia Plus is an all natural supplement that contains no saccharin, Nutrasweet, aspartame, refined sugar, maltodextrin fructose, or any artificial sweeteners of any kind! It’s called plus, because it also contains inulin fiber (F.O.S.) which selectively nourished the friendly bacteria (lactobaciilus and bifidobacteria) in the intestines!

During the winter I tend to drink eight to ten cups of herbal tea a day! I drink a number of brands, but my house tea is Celestial Seasonings. 1) It’s cheap (as am I). 2) There are a ton of flavors so I am less likely to get bored. 3) There is minimal packaging – they are the ones that don’t use strings or tags!

And for those who can’t imagine drinking hot tea in the summer (or are too impatient to brew it hot and then ice it), they have just come out with a product that steeps in cold water in just five minutes! Unfortunately only of of these is caffeine-free, but I’m hopeful they’ll expand the line if it’s a success! Or with enough push-back from interested buyers!

Another way I get my water in is to drink my green stuff mixed in 24 ounces of water! Again, cold improves the taste. Sometimes I toss the glass into the freezer for 15 minutes or I mix it with ice.

And, finally, a fourth way I get water in when I’m bored is to drop in a couple of nuun tablets in a quart sized Sigg bottle. Nuuns are electrolyte-enhance sports drink tabs, which I drink while I exercise, especially if I am doing something that is going to involve a lot of sweat. Six calories per tablet; all are caffeine free with the exception of the cola flavored one, which has about as much caffeine as a cup of green tea. So, although it doesn’t count as water, per say, because of the caffeine, it does actually taste enough like cola to kill the craving (that is, if you have craving for cola). Personally, the lemon-lime and ginger orange are my favorite!

So, if you find yourself feeling sluggish or overly hungry during the day, ask yourself the following question: How much water have I had today?

And if you’re not even close to 1/2 your body weight in ounces, drink some water! If you don’t like water (or think you don’t) because it doesn’t taste like anything, try something new to jazz it up. And you’d be surprised. Just as it does with sugar, the more water you drink, the more your body will want.

Let me know what you come up with!

Scale-less dieting

I realized the other day that I haven’t been on a scale in two months. Actually, the last time was June 17, so technically it’s been a little over two months. That’s the longest time I’ve been off a scale in years! Does that mean I’m not dieting or watching my weight or maintaining (or whatever you want to call it)? No; it means I am dieting/maintaining/releasing without being tied to a meaningless number!

Given that most people who are actively involved in monitoring their own or others’ weight either propose weighing once a day or once a week, why would I choose to do it without a scale? More importantly, why would I suggest that you try it as well?

Practical whys first:

  • I don’t have a scale. I always used one at the gym. When I started working out at home this summer, I decided that it just seemed silly to waste the gas and the time to go to the gym just to weigh myself.
  • I also didn’t want to buy a scale, because I know that the one at the gym – which I have used diligently for the last five years – is at least consistent! I also have to wonder how many scales find themselves either being used as a doorstop or at the bottom of a landfill!

Once I got past the weirdness of not weighing myself, I found myself looking for other markers of success. Did my gut look bigger in the mirror? What are my measurement? How are my clothes fitting? Was the yoga easier or harder today? Was my heart rate up or down since the last time I did this workout DVD? How many days out of the last 7, 14, 21, 28 or even 100 did I have a calorie deficit (I may have stopped weighing, but I love counting calories; I am a total calorie geek)! When was the last time I had a high fat, high sugar dessert? How many weeks in the last 3 months have I had wine two nights in a row? How many times last month (I am also a big proponent of keeping track of exercise) did I do weight training in addition to cardio? Once I stopped focusing on the one number – which fluctuates like a demon depending on what I eat and the time of day, not to mention the time of the month! – it opened up space for me to also realize what really matters.

So, onto the quasi-theoretical whys:

  • Once I gave up the scale, I was able to get real on what mattered and why. Does it really matter if I weigh 145 pounds instead of 140 or 135? Not really. What really matters is whether my clothes fit and the degree and frequency I am putting junk into my body. What also really matters is that I continue working on being as fit and flexible as I can possibly be.
  • Giving up the scale makes it easier to forgive yourself when you make choices that don’t necessarily support your goals. That doesn’t mean that giving up on the scale automatically signs you up for a crash course in self-acceptance (as my post earlier this week revealed), but it does force you to seek out signs of progress, rather than setting your sights on a single number, which may or may not be attainable in a week or even ten days!

So, how do you diet without a scale? Easy. If you have a scale, toss it. If you don’t have a scale, don’t get one.

Now, I realize that if you’re going to Weight Watchers or some other organization that requires weekly weigh-ins, you have to weigh. But have you thought about asking your leader to write it down without telling you and leaving your card at the meeting place? Or could you trust yourself not to look and to put the booklet into it’s plastic sleeve (do they still even have those) and chuck it into your glove compartment?

I remember doing this when I was at Weight Watchers as a teen – mainly because I couldn’t stand it if I gained weight. I hated it and I hated myself (more on the dangers of self-loathing later). And, not surprisingly, when I was in that emotional space it was easier to want to give up.  It was also easier to self-sabotage, because even though it was me I was talking about, why would I want someone I hated to actually succeed?  Further, during the weeks that the weight was climbing no matter how rigorously I stuck to the plan (and there were many of those during my 90 pound weight loss if for no other reason than the body is very smart and extremely efficient at adapting to dietary changes and – you guessed it – storing fat!) there was something powerful (and not in a good way) about seeing the numbers – usually written in indelible ink – steadily rising. There was something about actually seeing the numbers get bigger that led me to believe that that’s just the way that it was.  The plateaus seemed more real somehow. More insurmountable.  But I digress.

So, once you’ve figured out how to be scaleless (if not in reality, than in consequence) pick the outcomes you really want to achieve. Do you want to consistently use more calories than you consume? Do you want to improve the quality of your skin? Do you want to add muscle mass and get stronger?  Do you want to look good in your clothes or wear a different size? Do you want to be healthier or have more flexibility? Do you want to be able to walk up the stairs without being winded or to turn heads when you walk in the door? Do you want to get off of your high blood pressure medication or lower your risk of type II diabetes?  Do you want to have a better hip to waist ratio?  Do you want to run a half maraton – or a marathon – before your 40th birthday?  Or do a triathlon before you turn 50?

These are the things that are important.  These are the things that matter and therefore the things that will keep you on track!  The number on the scale?  That’s just cultural conditioning.

What’s really more motivating, weighing 135 or having the energy to chase your grand kids (assuming you have grand kids) around the park?

Then do what you need to do in order to meet the goals that matter to you.  It may be counting calories, it may be consistently exercising.  If you’re already dieting, just try taking a break from the scale.  Don’t take a break from the diet, just ditch the scale for a while.  And pick things that matter as your new source of accountability and motivation!

So, last Sunday, I told you that I’d tell you how bad it was  – that is, my own diet detour into Mendocino County.  You might be thinking, how the heck are you going to do that if 1) you haven’t been on a scale in two months and 2) don’t have access to one?

Easy.  My gut looks smaller than it did on Sunday.  My KJ Jr.  size 16 girls Lands End pants are tighter than they were when I left.  My sixes still fit so it can’t be that bad; however, to be honest, I haven’t bothered with the fours.

My American Eagle short shorts with a 2 (maybe 3) inch inseam still look like crap (so nothing new there).

I just bought a super cute form fitting Ann Taylor dress at a consignment store to wear to my cousin’s wedding.

My yoga routine was pretty darn good this morning and my heart rate seemed to be a little bit lower today during my cardio workout than it was on Monday.

And, yes, I told you I am a calorie junkie, a quick glance at my food diary tells me that out of the last 21 days, 17 had calorie deficits that ranged anywhere from -13 to -1016!  Not too shabby!

I had been thinking about this post for a while but I held off from writing it because I thought, no one is going to throw their scales away!  But then I bought this amazing book (title withheld until I have finished it) where the woman starts off with a pretty simple message: Get rid of the scale!  I thought, awesome, I like her already!  Her thing is that it’s not about losing weight fast, it’s about keeping it off for a life-time.  As it turns out, this book seems to be full of little gems, many of which resonate with my approach, but many of which seem to supply the missing pieces that I’ve been looking for.

Once I finish it, I’ll review it and probably end up recommending it!  It’s fun, it’s easy to read, and it’s only $27.00!  And in terms of the quality of information?  I got my money’s worth in the first three pages alone!  When was the last time you could say that about a book?

So, off to read and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Regaining momentum (and finding my focus)

Maintaining positive momentum is absolutely crucial when you’re trying to achieve or maintain a goal.

When you have positive momentum, it’s just easier to do what’s right. It also tends to easily and effortlessly override both internal and external sources of resistance. You know the ones, the little voice that says, ‘Well, you’ve already blown it, why not?’ Or the well intentioned friend who offers you a brownie to help you ‘feel better.’

Further, when you have positive momentum, you know deep down inside that you will be successful. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when, which is in and of itself an incredibly powerful personal resource. It really is as simple as that.

What’s equally simple, though it doesn’t seem like it when you’re in the thick of it, is that the opposite is also true of negative momentum. So if you ever find yourself in a back slide situation (or a tail spin) such as the one that I was in night before last as my vacation wound itself to a close, it’s crucial that you put on the brakes, turn it around, and pick up speed (heading in the opposite direction, of course) as soon as possible!

One way you can put the brakes on negative momentum and start creating (or rebuilding) your positive momentum is to focus on the positives, while keeping the negatives in perspective.

For example, it is true that while I was on vacation I picked up a few bad habits: I got sloppy with my food diary, I started taking small bites off of MJ’s plate (“just to taste”), and I found myself with a glass of California red wine in my hand on more days that I didn’t! I also didn’t get nearly enough sleep! Now any one of those transgressions has the potential to undermine a maintenance program, let alone a program designed to actually release weight! But add all four of them together? It’s no wonder that my clothes are a little tight!

But that said, there were also a lot of things that I did right. And given that I have a 10 hour travel day yesterday, my goal for myself was to set forth an honest accounting of all of the little things that I did right as well as the relatively small number of pretty big things that I did “wrong.” And my definition of wrong here is that they simply derailed my health and fitness goals. And, I can tell you right now that the list of rights overshadow the “not quite rights.” But it was important to include both so that I can remember what I need to keep doing as well as what needs to get ditched or modified now that I am back home.

As my mother is so found of telling me (and I am even fonder of ignoring), life (and any other important transformation) is really about the journey as opposed to the destination. That may be true, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’ll be much more appreciative of maintenance once I make my way back there! Because despite my earlier post, maintenance is looking (and feeling) pretty darned sexy, in comparison!

Just one more note about forward thinking, positive momentum, and focus. Peak performance coach, Anthony Robbins often tells a very funny – and profound – story about his experience learning to drive Indy 500 cars. My relative lack of charisma aside, the gist of the story is this: when you lose control of your car and you start heading toward the wall, whatever you do, do not look at the wall. Allow me to repeat:

DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. THE. WALL.

If you look at the wall, what happens?

Simple, you hit it!

So, when your momentum starts to slip, put your attention where you want to go (i.e. I am a firm, fit fabulous, four!) and just know that eventually, with enough sustained, positive momentum (which, of course, may mean changing tracks on occasion of you find yourself in a rut) you will get there!

I’ll post my list of rights and not-so-rights later on just to give you a better idea of the types of things I consider to constitute success. Did I have any “perfect” days in the course of the last two weeks when it came to food and exercise? No, not really. But I did have thousands of successful moments and, after all, isn’t that what vacations are for?

Strawberry banana smoothies at Starbuck’s

Surprisingly not so bad. A little sweet; I’m sure their definition of real strawberry purée includes sugar, but with soy milk it’s a relatively dairy free protein bomb (it is however made with whey powder) in a sea of nutrition free airport junk! It boggles the mind that HMS still hasn’t figured out that there is a large portion of travelers who would be willing to pay upwards of ten bucks for anything that even remotely resembles whole grain! (Obviously health food hasn’t made it to PHX.)

I ordered a sandwich earlier with no bread, no cheese, no mayo, no fries, sub a small cesear salad with no croutons or dressing.

Luckily the waitress had a sense of humor!

Airport Food

I am totally impressed! I just toured through one of the gift shops at SFO and there were four – yes four – displays of health food snacks and other nutritious options! Hopefully this trend spread east soon! Of course there were also displays of non-healthy snacks (actually fewer relatively speaking), sourdough bread, chocolate, and wine (the latter two are officially superfoods, but I’m not buying it at the moment).

Anyway, totally impressed, very envious, and more than a little hopeful given that there were a lot more Chips Ahoy left on the shelves than there were dark chocolate and flaxseed biscuits!

Setbacks (otherwise known as vacations)

I must admit that I am completely bummed! I caanot believe how much my body has changed after ten days of no k-bells, four days of no cardio, and a six stop winery tour! I barely recognize myself! I look five months pregnant! I mean seriously, I am trying not to use the word “disgusting,” but it is a close thing.

It is at moments like this that I understand how and why people give up on their diets! And this was with me being a pain in the ass about having to make a spiru-tein shake most mornings, eating mostly vegan (when available), and exercising every other day! Not to sound bitter, but if I had known it was going to be this bad I wouldn’t have even bothered! How do people survive who don’t watch what they eat? As I stated earlier, I am most bummed! (And I am sharing it all with you, in all of its gory technicolor detail, because some have suggested to me that I am sanctimonious and that it’s easy to be so when everything’s going okay)! It’s not going okay, but I’m pretty sure – if not absolutely positive – that I can get it back to good.

So what’s the plan?

Well, most likely it will be lose the last ten pounds yet again! I hope it is no more than that but it is hard to say standing naked in front of a mirror beneath the flourescent lights of the airport Hampton Inn! Ugh.

I keep hoping that at least half of it is water because it is well known that your body retains water in order to protect its vital organs from the acid in alcohol. But not even I am delusional enough to think that my body felt so threatened that it decided to hold on to a body of water the magnitude of the Russian River!

Enough, KJ! It would be all too easy to beat myself up over this (and, hey, I’m doing pretty good without even trying), but what I really need to do is develop a reasonable and sustainable plan. Step one: stay off the scale for at least one week after resuming my normal diet and exercise routine. Step two: drop back down to 1200 calories a day. Step three: no matter what, don’t do anything extreme (like try exercising 8 hours a day) or give up. Overkill in either direction at this point, would be a very bad idea!

Who knows? This could be the best thing that happened to my weight loss endeavors!

How so, you ask? Well now that there can be no doubt that I’m taking in enough calories, the weight should just roll right off when I start exercising again, right? Well, it could happen! And, theoretically, it should, holding all else constant.

I’ll keep you posted. And once I’ve been back at it for a week I’ll even tell you how much damage was actually done!

I had a great time, but suffice it to say that I’m glad to be on my back home. I missed my routine, I missed my cats, and I missed having steady Internet access!

And just as an FYI (as if this whole post has been anything but), given the quality of airport food, something tells me that I’ll be having at least one of the new smoothies at Starbuck’s (complete with fiber powder – at Starbuck’s, can you believe it?) all for a mere 280 calories each! Now that I’m back in the real world, I’ll also be sure to let you know how they taste!

10 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing That Weight

via Women’s Health!

thanks for the tip, Laura!

The best laid plans of mice and men

Well, my intentions were good.

I’m writing this, really, as penance and to simply put it out there that I have off days (weeks) just like everyone else!

I missed exercise for two days. The first day was just insanely busy and then yesterday I stupidly let myself be talked into going to conferences and meeting people. You know what? I would have been much happier working out and I am pretty darned sure that my eating would have been better as well!

I suppose that when one is at a professional conference, you should take the opportunity for professional development and for social and professional networking. And it is true that I made a lot of contacts with publishers and got some great ideas for future projects while I was not at the gym. In that sense, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But not going to the gym seemed to invite over eating (and, in some cases, over drinking).

Prior to this conference, I hadn’t had more than two glasses of wine in a month, but it seems like I’ve developed a three glass minimum these days ;( Alcohol is a slippery slope when it comes to diet. Why?

One, alcohol is full of empty calories!

Two, alcohol lowers your inhibitions when it comes to food!

Three, alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which causes you to store fat (always a plus – not)!

Four, alcohol is highly acidic and once you start creating an acidic environ in your body, your body craves additional acid! In other words, you crave things like white bread, sugar, alcohol, etc. Essentially, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

I haven’t managed to stop entirely, but I have managed to put on the breaks.

After a pretty indulgent day on Sunday, yesterday, I had my normal shake breakfast (even though hotel ice blends much quicker than ice cubes from a tray, the people next door hate me!), a bagel (highly acidic, but decidedly yummy), a beet salad with avocado and feta cheese, some cashews, a Lara Bar, a salad, some whole wheat bread sticks, and a plate of fabulous veggies (sauteed spinach, baby carrots, and grilled asparagus. (And , uhm, a third of a bottle of pinot noir – nobody’s perfect and we are, after all, in California).

I’ve been drinking my highly alkaline green stuff daily (sometimes three times a day!) but I feel like I’m losing the battle.

This morning, I decided no more excuses. Instead of procrastinating (or networking) I immediately rolled out of bed and went to the gym. All of the machines that I liked were full, but I hopped on the StairMaster anyway. An hour and close to 600 calories later, I realized that for the first time in two days, I felt like myself! I’m not saying that those 600 calories are going to change anything when it comes time to step on the scale when I get back home, but the psychological benefits were definitely real!

I literally danced my way back to my room, still plugged into my iPod shuffle! And even though tomorrow is our last day in a hotel with a gym, I am re-committed to move my body even if it means – poor me – a long walk on the beach!

(Notice, I said nothing about reducing the wine)!

Surviving conferences with your goals intact

Conferences are great eating opportunities! For example, I have three breakfasts scheduled today, a lunch, two drinks, and dinner! It is nuts! One strategy I’ve been trying to maintain is my daily appointment with my colleague “Jim” otherwise known as “gym.” It’s in my schedule and when people ask why I’m not going to such and such session it’s easy to say, “Sorry, I have a meeting!” They don’t need to know that it is with an elliptical, a bosu, a pair of hand weights,and a yoga mat!

The other strategy is to eat half lunches and drink lots of tea! I’ll let you know.

Traveling Tip: Fresh Veggies in a Bag!

Before MJ and I left for our trip, I decided to clean out the refrigerator! As it turned out, we had a lot of fresh veggies: zucchini, carrots, broccoli, some spinach, red peppers, etc.

Instead of just binning all of it, I cut it up and threw it in a ziplock bag (no dressing). Instant snack mix! It was great. I also fixed up some healthy pita breads with a teaspoon or so of hummus (three loaves cut into six halves).

It was wonderful, as well as wonderfully economical, to have a huge bag of fresh veggies to snack on all day and to make sandwiches with using high quality ingredients.

I commonly pack fruit when I travel, but from now on, it’s me and a gallon ziplock bag of veggies. Personally, I would recommend sticking to less “wet veggies” and avoid things that are likely to squish or make things too wet. For instance, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers (given their super high water content) would be more likely to get messy and to also make your other veggies to go bad more quickly. As it was, my less wet veggies made the trip no problem. Cauliflower would also be a natural win in this regard!

If you’re going to take tomatoes or fruits such as grapes or cherries, just fill up an old quart yogurt container. They’re nice enough that they will product your precious cargo, but not so nice that you’d feel bad about ditching them as the trip progresses.

The hidden plus in all this is that by the end of your trip you’ll have more room in your luggage (as you’ve eaten your way through your “stuff” ) and you’ll have saved lots of money.

More space and more money doesn’t have to mean more space and resources for guilt-free shopping, but it certainly could do! I am writing this from the Apple Store by the way (and trust me, I’m not talking produce)!

Stay tuned for more travel trips!

Finally, a Real Age tip I can get behind!

For all of those people who have laughed at my monster salads and shakes!

I’m leaving on a jet plane….

Sorry about the lag between posts; it’s been crazy albeit with a minimal amount of nervous eating! That’s something to celebrate.

MJ and I are heading off for twelve days! Part of that is business, while the other part is pleasure.

In terms of maintaining my regular eating habits: impossible.

In order to not completely get off track, I am not only packing clothes (including fast drying exercise clothes and good sturdy cross trainers; it’s very hilly where we’re going!), but also food.

‘You’re going on vacation!’ you might be thinking. ‘Why the heck are you packing food?’

I am packing food precisely because I am going on vacation!

One reason is that I am cheap; there is nothing worse than spending $15.00 a day on a hotel breakfast when all I’m likely to eat is a bowl of oatmeal, some fruit, and maybe some tea.

A second reason is that I like what I like for breakfast: protein shakes made with bananas and soy milk. When I have this breakfast, I can predict (at least in terms of food) what my morning is going to be like. Don’t you hate it when you eat about 500 calories worth of pancakes only to be hungry 30 minutes later? I know I do! So, by packing a blender and all my stuff (purchasing the bananas and soy milk when I arrive) I’m in better control of my day. I also save a lot of money.

A third reason is that I like to snack during the day, whether I am at home or out and about. By taking my favorite snacks with me (that is, apples, green stuff, baby carrots, pita and hummus), especially on flying days, I can assure that I have healthy options readily available. This doesn’t mean that I won’t stop at Cinnabon and scarf down close to 750 calories in four bites, but it does mean that I won’t be able to use the excuse that there was nothing else to eat!

So, with all of the issues with flying and carry-ons, how do you go about packing your own in an economical and healthy way?

If at all possible, fly Southwest! They let you take on two bags for free, whereas most of the other airlines charge you for one! I have one bag that is dedicated solely to food – natural peanut butter, Ezekial bread, Chai Latte Spirutein, cashews, Lara Bars (my favorite is pistachio, but MJ likes Apple Pie, Cinnamon Roll, and Ginger Snap!), Emerald Balance travel packets, vitamins, etc.

If you are planning on mixing anything in water – like the Emerald Green stuff – then pack an empty bottle and fill it up between flights at the water fountain. I use a Sigg bottle and it’s wonderful.

Also, if you like tea, most Starbucks will give you a venti cup of hot water for free! Carrying your own tea if a great way to save $4.00 between flights! Or every morning if you find yourself near a Starbucks!

Depending on the hotel where you’re staying, request a refrigerator in your room. It may cost you $50 for the stay, but it will save you money in the long run (especially if there’s two of you), not to mention calories.

When I am traveling, either for business or pleasure, I usually say okay to one “serious” meal a day. I try to keep it as close to normal as I can at breakfast and snack times, have a light lunch (usually a salad or something that is vegetable based) and then go out to dinner, where I usually start with a salad, go for the lightest entree I can (all sauces, etc. on the side) and skip or share a dessert.

I also try to exercise every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes. Luckily, during the business portion of the trip, there is a gym and I am committed (and committing, here, in writing) to go every day. The other days, I will do yoga or go for a walk. I also bought Jillian Michael’s Hot Bod in a Box, which I’m sure if I actually did would kick my butt! I’ll let you know!

What’s your best tip for staying healthy while traveling?