Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Blog Address

My blog has moved  -- Click here!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Updated Blog!

I just updated my blog (see my last post below for the details on my switch from Brady Bunch Mom to Food + Fitness).  I was never really able to figure out how to get my graphic design just right. (Kind of silly since my husband is a designer :) ).

On Mother's Day, my oldest daughter wrote me and said that she wasn't that great at choosing and buying gifts for people, but she loved doing service for others.  So for Mother's Day, she offered to redesign my blog for me.  How sweet is that?

I gave her a few links to other blog designs I liked -- all simple and easy to look at.  My favorite was probably Kath Eats Real Food.  But I cherry picked what I liked about 4 different blogs and gave her some photos to choose from in designing my new header.  I absolutely love what she came up with.

Thank you, sweet Cebre!

So if you haven't already followed me to my new blog, please do now. And sign up to be a follower!  I only have a handful of followers now and am missing the rest of you!  TTFN!

Photo courtesy of Alice Lim

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Come follow me to my new blog!

Come follow my lead!  I've started a new blog.  Well, it's really just the same blog in a different spot. (I've even imported all of my posts from this blog to the new one). 

I decided to have the NAME of my blog match the subject matter better.  So I've changed the name of my blog to Food Plus Fitness (or Food + Fitness).

The blog address will be  Hope it's not too confusing!

Please go there and sign up to follow my blog.  I have some exciting plans for my "new" blog and hope you come join me!

Photo by Tree Leaf Clover

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to avoid those Christmas cookies!

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cookies.  I love to eat them!  Oh, how I love to eat them.  But I hate that I can't control my eating once I eat them.  And I hate that I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning when I eat them.  And I hate that I gain weight when I eat them.  And I hate that my feet get all achy at night and I can't go back to sleep when I eat them.  I'm sure I could think of more.

So I must strategize to keep myself from eating them.  As cute as they are, they need to be part of someone else's holiday tradition, not mine.

Here are a few tips I've found for avoiding the Christmas cookies:

  • Out of sight, out of mind.  Hopefully they aren't even in your home, but if they are, keep them where you can't see them.  I know, I know.  You can find them if you want.  But if you don't see them, you are more likely to not think about eating them.  I don't crave what I don't think is there. But if I open a cupboard and see some sugary treat, my brain starts thinking that's what I need. It's funny that way.
  • Don't buy any cookie making ingredients.  I used to have to avoid going down two aisles at the grocery store -- the ice cream aisle (I can finally handle that now without any temptation) and the chocolate chip aisle  (still an issue from time to time).  I tend to tell myself myths in the chocolate chip aisle like "I'll make these for the classroom."  or "I need these for that pumpkin bread next month -- I'll just buy them now while they're on sale."  They never last until that later date and I end up either making cookies (and eating them myself) or just eating them out of the bag.  So the best thing is to win the battle in the store and you never have to fight it at home.  
  • Tell yourself a new lie.  You may think that you don't lie to yourself in the first place, so how could their be a new lie?  Well if you ever tell yourself that you'll just eat one or that the cookies won't do you any harm, those are lies, right?  Tell yourself a more helpful lie.  Tell yourself that the cookies are stale or that they have been sitting in your grandmother's freezer for months.  Tell yourself that they've fallen on the floor or that ants have been crawling all over them.  Do whatever it takes to help you resist.  I've tried these ploys.  They work!
  • Fill yourself up on something better!  There are so many yummy good-for-you foods that you can enjoy.  Eat those first!  Start associating Christmas joy with eating baked apples or pears with a bit of pumpkin pie spice on top.  Or just eat fresh raspberries or pomegranates plain.  There are so many fruits that can fill you up in body and spirit!  Oranges and tangerines are super tasty this time of year.  Read "Christmas Oranges" for a bit of perspective on how blessed we are to enjoy fresh fruits year round. 
  • Light a candle.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't need to eat around the clock. There are other things that fill my soul like lighting a candle and seeing that flame glow.  Lighting a fire in the woodstove is something I love to do, too.  But I know that not everyone has a fireplace or stove.  Candles are pretty easy to come by, though.  Hot baths are nice, too.
I think I'll go light a candle now.  I may just take a hot bath while I'm at it.  TTFN!

Cookie Photo by OCVA

Friday, October 5, 2012

Great abs are made where?

Fill in the blank.  Great abs are made in the ____________.  You know the answer, right?  Not in the gym.  Not in the Pilates studio.  Not with your favorite abs workout (I think my favorite ab workout is the stability ball segment on Cathe's Pyramid Upper Body, if you are even the least bit curious -- skip to 4.30 into the video clip below).

But back to my question, the most common answer is "in the kitchen!"  Yes, those inches around your waist are due far more to what you eat than by what workout you do.  But let's not stop there!  The answer is also "in the car,"  "in the restaurant," "in the grocery store," and wherever else you eat or purchase the food you eat.  Your thoughts determine what you eat and you need to turn those thoughts around to get your body into shape.

Workouts are important and you won't have strong abdominal muscles without plenty of core work, but you also will never see those muscles if there is a layer (large or small) of fat covering them.

So as vital as exercise is, what you eat (or you DON'T eat) is even more essential. If I didn't have a stainless steel fridge, I'd make a magnet with that saying to remind me that "Great Abs are made right here!"   Perhaps I'll just have to use a little tape and make my own sign.  I surely need the reminder from time to time!

(I wrote about this in greater detail four years ago -- my time flies!  Click here to read that article).

P.S. (The photo above is of my friend, Jocelyn, who lost over 80 pounds with Beachbody workouts and changing her eating.  Here's her success story.  We were fellow cast-members in the Slim Series Express workouts and she's now my upline Beachbody Coach.  She's still going strong!  )

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Destressing and avoiding the Distractions in life

When I was younger, I used to chuckle to myself at those who said they were "SO STRESSED!" or were "SO BUSY!"  I thought they were either over-reacting, wanted attention or weren't managing their lives very well. Little did I know that the older you get, the more that can pile on both time-wise and emotionally.  My dad used to tell me, "Renee, life will never be as easy for you as it is right now" and in many ways he was correct. There are ways to destress, though, and separate yourself from the distractions of life.

Recently, I've learned a few ways to identify my biggest sources of stress:

  • Thoughts during Exercise  When I wake up in the morning to start my workout -- whether it's sweaty heart-pounding cardio or serene yoga postures, as I begin, my mind is flooded with what is worrying me or causing me stress.  I used to think this was interruptive to my workouts and now I see it as an indication of what I need to either cut out of my life or work on.  Often the workout will leave me less stressed, but the issue is still there and even though more relaxed, I need to work on it or it will resurface the next day (or when I lie down to sleep -- Oops!  I just gave away the second one). 
  • Sleep Deprivation: If I'm overworked, sometimes my body responds by falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  But other times, thoughts swirl around in my head for hours and I just CAN'T get to sleep (or I wake up in the middle of the night for hours tossing and turning).  Annoying to say the least!  When your body needs the sleep the most, it sometimes can't get it because of stress.  So what do you do?  Give your brain new messages.  Tell yourself all of the things that went well that day.  Think of all that you accomplished, even if it's as simple as laughing with a friend and bringing her joy.  Balance out the negative by recognizing all the positive that happens in your life.  Counting your blessings is another way to recognize the good.  
  • Declining Mood:  Maybe this sounds oversimplified, but if you're no longer enjoying your days, then something needs to go.  Not all of life can be rainbows and prancing ponies (I stole this phrase from my niece who once complained about all of us "glass half-full" types), but we should be happy or content at least most of the time.  If not, you need to identify if you are indeed over-scheduled, if you have friends or relatives who are draining you instead of supporting you.  Cut out what you can that causes you stress and your mood will elevate.  Not everything is on our control, but do what you can and you will see a difference.
  • Negative Media:  We all know it. The media isn't in the business to cheer us up or bring us joy. They may not even be there to entertain us.  Their bottom line is making money, which is often obtained by what will get our attention.  I'm sure there are plenty of artists and journalists out there fulfilling their life-long passions, but the decision-makers for news and information choose what will make them money or promote their ideas.  Often this leaves us overwhelmed with the imbalance of misery and contention paraded before our eyes.  Do what you can to avoid this cause of stress. Listen to your own music (may I suggest Sting?) instead of a radio, play your favorite DVD when you want to unwind instead of watching the news.  We play plenty of carefree sitcoms from the 60s in our home and absolutely love it.  
  • Personal Media:  Our ever so portable computers (laptops, iPads and smart phones) can also be a major distraction to the simplicity and joy in life. I learned at the middle school Back-to-School Night last week that it takes 7 minutes for our brains to focus back on what we were doing before we stop to read a text.  Sometimes texts are happy interruptions.  Other times they are adding to our To-Do List or mental stress and need to be paced.  I could write a whole post about this (and likely will), but just be aware of the complications a handy dandy notebook can be and try to not make it quite so available to yourself so you can keep your focus on your family and friends right in front of you and what you need to get done throughout the day.

The older, wiser me now believes that stress is like pain -- it's a signal to our bodies that something is wrong.   Just as a painful burn tells your hand to stop touching the flame, the stress is trying to tell us that we need to make some changes so that we can be at ease once again.  Listen to your body and do what you need to do to help your body and mind enjoy life.

Top Photo by loop_oh 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Challenge with Eating Addictions

I know everyone has said this at some point when it comes to dieting  -- if we didn't HAVE to eat, it would be so much easier.  I've never smoked, drank alcohol, or done drugs, but I know that those who have to break those addictions have a tough time.  Addictions have their name for a reason.  BUT those who stop smoking, drinking and doing drugs don't have to smoke, drink or have the drug once a day (or even 3 to 5), but no more. When we eat, we do just that.  We have to curtail our eating, but we have to keep eating.

One of the strategies for eating healthier and breaking our food addictions is to not have any of the foods that can tempt us in the house.  This is helpful because sometimes just the sight of the food can make us think "Oh yeah, I want to eat that!"  But even if the addictive food isn't in the house, sometimes we still go ravaging through the kitchen thinking things like, "Where's the chocolate?  There's got to be some SOMEWHERE in this house!"

But the more we go without the foods we are addicted to (sugar, refined flour), the less we miss it.  It truly is a physical addiction and the longer we are away from it, our bodies get cleansed and don't crave it.  The tricky part is when we make connections for needing that food with holidays, family occasions, events, emotions, etc.  It's a hard thing to shake, but it is possible.  And your brain does get healthier as your body gets healthier.  So eventually, you can control those thoughts and urges.  There is hope for those with food addictions.  Don't give up!

P.S. (This photo is from my daughter's wedding reception this summer.  TONs of fruit, salad and several sandwiches were served.  Very yummy!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My very own Pumpkin Smash a la Jamba Juice!

I've attempted to make my own Pumpkin Smash many times since I first tasted it at Jamba Juice.  It's so incredibly yummy, but only available part of the year.   First I tried making it raw.  Didn't ever come up with anything resembling tasty.  Then I tried several recipes I found online.  They were okay, but never delish.  So I tweaked and I tweaked and I FINALLY came up with a winner.

Jamba Juice-like Pumpkin Smash 

1 c. pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)

1 c. almond milk or your choice of milk (I use   unsweetened vanilla by Blue Diamond)

3 c. vanilla soy creamy (Trader Joe's soy ice cream, you can use vanilla frozen yogurt, soy, coconut or ice cream)

1 c. ice

1 t. pumpkin pie spice

1 t. cinnamon

Blend like crazy in your Vitamix, BlendTec or other power blender.  Super yummy!

(If you want it a bit healthier, you can sub frozen peaches for 1/2 of the soy creamy.  It's still yummy!)

 I love Pumpkin Smash smoothies, but my daughter Terra loves them even more.  Maybe it's because it matches her hair color or that she loves EVERYTHING pumpkin.  But it truly makes her as happy as she was on this rainy day.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Guess which band wagon I just hopped on?  Yes, it's Shakeology!

I will admit to two things first though:

  1. I thought the name "Shakeology" was kind of hoakie when I first heard it.  To an English Major, it doesn't exactly roll off your tongue or seem like a legitimate word.  Maybe it's just that silent "e" next to the "o."  Seems strange to me.
  2. I didn't trust that Beachbody would actually use THE most nutritious ingredients to fill up their shakes.  I thought it would be some protein and a bunch of garbage like so many other fitness shakes.  But no! Beachbody delivered BIG time!  When I heard they had a Vegan option for Shakeology, I decided to give it a closer look.  After all, I do have a background with Beachbody and they treated me well.  (See previous posts on filming Slim Series Express with Beachbody if you want details -- 1, 2, 3 plus QVC and another infomercial).

So I read the Vegan Chocolate label and it's made from whole foods -- whole plant foods!  That's it!  And some pretty nutritionally powerful ones, too!  You may have to take out some reading glasses, but take a look at the nutrition label yourself:

(If you want to see this nutritional chart a little bigger and clearer click here).

I'm drinking Shakeology daily right now to hopefully get off these stubborn #% pounds (that's a symbol protecting myself from revealing how many I need to lose -- I wasn't swearing, I promise!), but I'm also excited about the fact that I can add it to my diet after I lose the weight to get all these nutrients that I'm not going to grow or travel around the world (or at best, around the aisles of the health food store) to get individually. Exciting times!

I have a website now (since I signed on with Beachbody as a coach -- to get a 25% discount on their products, mostly, and to help share it with others).  Check it out and if you want to order some retail price, do it through my Shakeology site.  Or if you're interested in getting a 10% discount by being a TeamBeachbody Member or a 25% discount (and later on, more) by being a Coach, go to my Beachbody Coaching site.  I'm still trying to find my way around there, but if you have any questions, let me know!

Shakeology has a 30 day guarantee, too.  You can drink it for the full 30 days and ask for a refund if it didn't live up to your expectations.  It's like the Costco of nutritional shakes!  (I love that I can return anything at Costco -- less risk in life that way).

Oh, and I guess I'm getting over the whole "e" next to the "o" thing.  If it helps me get through my afternoons without ravaging the kitchen, I'm fine with it!  And besides, it looks kind of cute with that leaf over the "o."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Inching Your Way to Waking Up Earlier

Do you wish you could wake up earlier without being tired?  Improving your diet will help.  So will going to sleep earlier.  But sometimes going to bed earlier doesn't help if you aren't tired and can't fall asleep.

Inching toward your new wake-up time can help your body to adjust gradually. If you are planning to travel somewhere with an earlier time zone or just want to wake up earlier so you can fit in your workout before your day takes off, try setting your alarm just 15 minutes earlier.  It's not hard to do the math, but within 4 days, you'll be getting up an hour earlier without your body rebelling.  You'll also be able to fall asleep earlier because the shift will be gradual.

Watching the Olympics until midnight this summer got my sleep schedule off a bit and I'm inching my way back before school starts again.  The thought of waking up 2 or even 3 hours earlier seems crazy, but with a gentle step-by-step approach, I'm sure I'll be fine.  It's worked well for me in the past and I'm happy to have this little trick up my sleeve!  TTFN!

Inchworm photo by Glen Edelson Photography.  Olympic photo by JustinTime.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Perfectly Healthy Eating . . . Possible?

If I could only make my vegetables look (and taste!) this good every day, I think I could base my diet on them, don't you?  I've started many healthy eating plans and do so well for so long, then somehow veer off a little.  It's quite frustrating.  I start to wonder -- can I ever stick to my eating plan perfectly?

I heard a friend speak a few weeks ago about perfection.  She said that she can be perfect with her new goals just fine for a few days, even a week, maybe two!  But life's unplanned glitches somehow disrupt her plans and she finds herself back where she was before, where she is no longer perfectly aligned with her goals.  She said she stopped telling herself to do her best because she'd do her best for awhile, fall off, then go back to mediocre.  She decided to tell herself to "do her better" because she could keep up with that all of the time and wouldn't keep going back from trying to sustain perfection to slipping back into her old habits.

I'm trying to sort this out with my eating because in my mind, I want to eat the most nutrient dense foods that I can.  But I don't always stick with that plan.  Switching away from "black & white thinking" isn't easy.  It's pretty common, actually.

I often hear b&w thinkers say things like, "If I could just stop eating, then I could stick with that easier than trying to stick with my diet."  Yes, couldn't we all?  But we like our food and we NEED to eat.  We need to keep eating and to find the balance within that eating realm.

I don't believe that eating everything in moderation is the answer.  Even toxic foods in moderation are toxic. Perhaps adopting the Line Upon Line precept (from Isaiah in the Old Testament)  -- learning and improving a little at at time, may be more helpful over all.  I know I'm all about results if I'm going to change my eating.  But I can get non-weight loss results from healthy eating changes, even if just gradual.  That can sustain me until the weight loss comes.

Marilu Henner had a great mantra in her weight loss/healthy eating books -- "Progress, not perfection."  I kind of forgot about it until just this minute, but it's a great motto to remember as you work toward eating healthier. If you aren't perfect, just be happy with the progress you're making and continue forward.

Top photo by musical photo man.  Bottom photo by vistavision.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beauty Tips with Conditioner

My favorite conditioner right now is the Kirkland brand from Costco.  It's super thick (could be watered down to save more $ if you'd like -- same with the shampoo) and keeps my hair really moist and feeling wonderful.

I learned a few beauty tips with conditioner over the years that have become helpful for me.  

I credit the first one to Marie Osmond.  My aunt had a book about Donny and Marie in the 70's and in one of Marie's chapters, she wrote that whenever she took a shower, she would comb out her hair while the conditioner was still in it.  Combing it while the conditioner was in was much easier than after because the conditioner makes your hair more slippery and the comb doesn't take out as much hair. No more tangles!

The next conditioner tip is something I learned from Marilu Henner.  She was the first person who taught me the health benefits of cutting out dairy in her Total Health Makeover book.  She included money-saving beauty tips throughout her book and one of them was to use conditioner in the place of shaving cream when you shave your legs.  You don't need much and it really does give you a slippery surface without having to lather up.  

Here are the ingredients for the Costco conditioner if you'd like to see them:

Kirkland Signature Moisture Conditioner Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Stearalkonium Chloride, Propylene Glycol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Hydrastis Canadensis (Golden Seal) Extract, Algae Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Protein, Polyquaternium-37, Fragrance, Decyl Oleate, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone