Snap Out of It!

Today, I'm shaking off the ridiculous depression I've let myself be imprisoned by over the past few days.  Anyone who's followed my rants and raves about food, dieting, exercise, blah, blah, blah, should know by now that I'm a stress induced eater.  If you don't, then let me introduce myself, hi, I'm Lisa, and I'm a stress eater.  I wish that had a more positive connotation, like "wow, she gets stressed and eats it for breakfast, what a champ!"  No, quite literally the opposite - if I get stressed, depressed, I am ready to rush over to Dairy Queen and drown my sorrows to the tune of a zillion calorie eating binge.  Difficulties with food and weight manifest themselves in a number of ways, this is the cross I have to bear. 

If you check out sites on stress/emotional eating, you'll find they'll give you an assortment of reasons associated with what drives this behavior.  Well, having gone through a divorce, losing my paternal grandmother in the past year, dealing with a stressful job, and a spiteful/vindictive ex-husband, it probably makes sense that I easily succumb to emotionally driven eating.

What to do then?  In my case, and speaking exclusively to such, I need to wake up, acknowledge the problem and resolve to do something about it.  While I still continue to work out 3-4 times a week, that's not going to be enough to keep my problem in check.  Here's my plan of action .....

  1. Water - Planning to practice what I preach here, water detoxifies, regulates body temperature, aids metabolism, to mention a few benefits.  And I'm suffering from all the symptoms of dehydration right now - migraines, tiredness, constipation, dry skin, etc.  It's not pretty.
  2. Diary - Yup, I've pulled out 'Losin' It' again and immediately saw my infractions and patterns emerging.  It's so hard to see what you're doing as you move through your day, I find this 30,000 foot perspective on my meals extremely revealing - I'll be planning the rest of my meals & snacks for the week through it.
  3. Vitamins - Yeah, vitamins.  I keep falling off the wagon with this one and need to take my vitamins more consistently.
  4. Random Acts of Activity - This is the fun one for me, it's like a puzzle.  Finding ways to incorporate activity through my day.  Started off the day with using steps only in my commute, accounting for over 100 steps!  I'll probably do some sets of 10 tricep push ups on the register in my office.  Little bits count too - try doing some sit ups while you're watching TV tonight.

The course of events in my life over the past few years resulted in a number of people that are openly critical of my choices.  Insecurity and self esteem has always been an issue for me.  In all objectivity, should I let the opinions of a few angry individuals influence my own perception of myself?  As I type this out, it's clearly ridiculous, but at those moments when I'm not feeling well, deadlines are pressing at work, and I'm pulled in several directions, logic and reason fly out the window.  Do you like yourself as a person?  When I ask that, I want you to not look in the mirror, but look inside yourself.  Are you a person you would be friends with?  There are redeeming qualities within everyone, I really don't believe anyone is inherently bad.  When I look inside myself, I like who I am, and it's taken years to feel that way.  That's the other, darker side to my emotional eating, the self esteem and insecurity.  Breaking the connection to feeding myself to fill that void, is another problem that runs concurrent with the stress eating for me.  I'm working to change that behavior, to not reach for food everytime I'm upset - a tough one to break if you had family members feeding you when you encountered tough times.  Food is such a comfort for me, but I need to break the connection to my emotions.

A friend once said to me years ago to "be a duck" and let things roll off my back.  It's a good piece of advice and one I should really try to put into practice more regularly.  Resilience is difficult for me, but a skill that will only serve to benefit me more, especially as it relates to my emotionally driven eating.  What to do when that next moment heart stopping stress arrives?  Instead of running to the vending machine, or pulling out a snack, my plan is to drink water, step back, take a breath and try to objectively put my situation into focus. 

Food for thought?  Definitely.  Am I (or we?) still works in progress?  Absolutely.  Remember, every day is a new opportunity to make a change.  Keeping my goal of a healthy lifestyle is what will help me get there. 

Hi-Ho Cherries!

For whatever reason, I've had a massive craving for cherries this summer.  It's a wonder my skin hasn't developed a cherry colored blush as a result.  Cherries are another fruit (of many in my own person experience) that just don't get enough play.  They're sweet, tart and tasty, and pack a really great nutritional punch.  For such a small fruit, they really are incredibly beneficial to our bodies.

Densely packed with antioxidents, I was amazed to discover all the health benefits of this fruit.  So, I ran out to grab a half pound of cherries, and sat myself down to extoll their virtues!  According to medical research cherries are one of the best multi-taskers of the fruit world.  They ease the aches and pains of arthritis and gout, as well as reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.  Because of their high levels of melatonin, they aid in regulating the body's regular sleep patterns, aid with memory loss and ease jet lag!  (hmmmmn, I wonder if they could do all this and pick up after my kids?)

But wait, there's more!  For those of us on the weight loss track, a diet that incorporates cherries may serve to lower total body weight, and could help to reduce that pesky weight around our mid sections (yeah, that one stopped me in my tracks too!).  According to the American Heart Association, cherries reduce inflammation and cholesterol, factors directly linked to heart disease.  One to two servings of cherries daily is all it takes to reap their benefits.  And if you're looking for a way to incorporate fiber into your day, look no further.  Cherries are an excellent source of dietary fiber.  How much is a serving?

  1. 1/2 Cup of dried cherries
  2. 1 Cup of frozen cherries
  3. 1 Cup of cherry juice
  4. 1 oz (or 2 tbsp) cherry concentrate

Before the summer's over, go red and grab some cherries while they're in season.  They're not just for pies anymore!  Here are some nutritional facts on cherries:

  • 1/2 cup Sweet Cherries provides: 46 calories, 0.7 g protein, 0.1 g fat, 9.3 g sugar, 1.5 g fiber
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cherries provides: 39 calories, 0.8 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 6.6 g sugar, 1.2 g fiber
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cherries provides: 136 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 27 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 30% DV vitamin A.
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry, canned, drained provides: 8 calories, 0 g protein, 0 g fat, 2 g sugar, 0.2 g fiber
  • 1/2 cup Ontario Red Tart Chilled and Pitted Cherries provides: 63 calories, 0.7 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 15.7 g carbohydrates, 0.8 g dietary fiber.

Skinny Girls Have it So Easy!

A few months back, my former (note the past tense) sitter and I were talking about the difficulties and frustrations with weight loss.  Now mind you, if you recall some of my earlier posts, I tipped the scales at 180 lbs right before I gave birth to my son back in 2002.  For someone with a 5'2" frame, I looked like a tick ready to explode.  My point?  I know what it's like to be overweight - been there.  The conversation continued and I offered some of my tactics and information collected during my own journey.  Then the she dropped the bomb on me ... "Well, it's easy for you, you're skinny."

Huh?  It's easy for me?  For a sugar addict that was 50 lbs above her post delivery weight, and struggled through depression and tears for about 6 years after the birth of her first child with an awful body image, this was a blow that sent me reeling.  My grandmother had a plaque in her kitchen that I memorized as a child with a great saying "Never judge a man (or woman!) until you've walked a mile in their moccasins."  It still holds true to me today.  Every person is unique and distinct with their own set of body challenges.  For me it came down to 3 specific things:

  1. Being honest with myself about the extent of my weight gain
  2. Becoming conscious of my intake versus what I would expend in any given day
  3. Realizing and acknowledging my own inherent issues when it came to food (all the behavioral stuff)

Losing weight is no easy task.  And if you think it's just a "task" you're doomed to failure.  Dropping "a few pounds for a special occasion is not going to translate into sustained loss.  It's going to come back sooner or later like a boomerang - take it from me, I've gained and lost 10 lbs repeatedly.  And it's a daily struggle for me, like it is for most people.  Operating under the misperception that your dissatisfaction with your body can be chaled up to being issued the wrong body type doesn't accomplish anything.  If you need to vent to make yourself feel better, I'll give you that.  But if you want to get down to business, make some serious progress towards a healthier life and well being, then get up and do something about your situation, it's in your hands.

For me, it was diagnosing a medical issue (my thyroid), taking a hard look at what I eat, and finding exercise and activities that I could commit myself to.  My Sensei, Craig Boone at Pace Karate in Wanaque is the person I credit with helping me to carve out the body I have today.  It's his constant pushing and challenging me that has inspired me to invest the sweat equity.  And guess what?  I looked so good at a recent music festival in my short skirt, that I was filmed by Sky TV!  Talk about a great ego trip!  I'm not suggesting that camera crews are going to beat down your doors if you get your body in order, but think of the pride in knowing that your body looks and feels it's best.  That's what keeps me going every day.


More Parfait!

Donkey in Shrek had it right, parfaits are just about the world's most perfect food.  Well, in my point of view anyway!  Here are a few delightful parfait recipes I picked up from First Magazine recently.  They're quick to make, and light on the calories.  These are a perfect breakfast or lunch on the weekend when you're dashing about.

Peachy-Keen Sunrise
(Makes 4 Servings)

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) sliced peaches in light syrup
  • 2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • 1 tsp chopped crystallized ginger
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Drain peaches in colander, but reserve 2 tbs. of the syrup.  In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, whipped topping, ginger, cinnamon and your reserved syrup.  Thinly slice 1/2 cup peach slices, set aside.  In food processor pulse remaining peach slices 3 times, or until finely chopped; divide evenly among 4 parfait glasses.  Divide yogurt-connamon mixture evenly among glasses and top with thinly sliced peaches.  Garnish with fresh mint if you like.

Per serving:  216 Calories, 5g protein, 39g Carb; 2g Fiber; 5mg Chol., 79 mg. Sodium;  4g Total Fat, 4g Sat. Fat; 0g Trans Fat

Bonus:  Ginger helps alleviate heartburn, and can calm the intensity of acid reflux by up to 40%

Razzmatazz Raspberry Mousse
(Makes 4 Servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 2 containers (8 oz. each) nonfat raspberry yogurt
  • 2 oz. low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbs. granola

In food processor, puree 1 cup berries and yogurt 1 minute.  Divide yogurt mixture evenly among 4 parfait glasses.  In bowl, combine next 3 ingredients; divide evenly among glasses.  Top with remaining berries, honey and granola.

Per serving:  221 Calories; 5g Protein; 40g Carb; 3g Fiber; 4 mg. Chol.; 75mg sodium, 5g Total Fat, 4g Sat. Fat; 0g Trans Fat

Bonus:  Raspberries may aid in reducing sun-induced age spots & freckles

Load Up on Strawberries!

There's nothing better than the summer time to me. Of course, I've spent the last six months panicking over my weight relative to the looming prospect of wearing a bathing suit. Well, now that the sun has emerged and melted offf all the ice and snow from a rather harrowing winter, I can't help but smile as the sun shines down on me.

Summer is a great time of the year for foodies - especially those of us who are particular about what is going in ultimately against our waistlines! Fresh summer fruit and produce beckons. It's a great time for berries in particular. If you check out my blog this week you'll find a tasty recipe for strawberry salad. As a matter of fact, my kids and I had a 4 lb. haul of strawberries from a pick it yourself farm in Wayne, NJ. With temperatures in the mid 80's and a nice breeze cutting across the field, we couldn't have a better day! Not to mention all the delicious strawberries we brought home!  And at 49 calories per cup, strawberries make for a tasty summer indulgence!  AND, besides a naturally low calorie content, strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C, a good dose of the oh-so-important dietary fiber, and a satisfying burst of sweetness.
And the best part about upping your consumption of summer fruits and vegetables is that it really does very little to your calorie count. If you check out the Weight Watchers points system, you'll see that many vegetables have very low point counts. Best of all, they're a great way to fill full - it's easy to get away with eating a larger quantity of fruits and veggies, without sending your calorie counts off the charts. Not to mention, all the good you're doing your body in terms of fiber, hydration and nutrition.

My thought for this week? Get thee to a farm market for some fresh produce this summer season!

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Quick, what did you eat today?  Stop for a moment, and think about all the things you ate today.  Can you honestly recollect everything that passed over your lips today?  It’s funny when I get to thinking about these things, because in general, I can barely recall what I did about 30 minutes ago without smoke coming out of my ears from deep thought.  But one of my dieting dilemmas was the eating amnesia I suffered from.  I could pack away piles of cookies, and then an hour later, I’m answering the grumble of my stomach with yet another delivery of snacks. 

One day I stopped myself after reading an article on “zombie eating” and charged myself with the task of recounting everything I ate that day.  I think it was well into the afternoon when I was inspired to formulate this list.  Once I got to really thinking about what I ate that day, I was mortified at the list I compiled.  “There’s no way I ate that much” I thought to myself.  I was doing some serious “gratuitous grazing” throughout my day.  A tray of breakfast goods would arrive for a meeting, and despite having my own breakfast prior to that, there I was, taking a few choice selections for myself.  Shortly after that, there would be leftovers out from another meeting – cookies, salads, fruit, you name it.  Of course, I’d make my way out for lunch, pick up another 1,000 calories on a sandwich and chips, pick up a bag of chips or candy as an afternoon snack and then find myself starving by the time I got home for dinner.  After finishing off my kid’s left overs and rewarding myself with a bowl of ice cream as an after dinner treat, I’d brush my teeth and proudly head off to bed with my glass of water, with 0 calories!  Yeah, like that lousy glass of water was my redemption for all my insane excessiveness

Do we really take into account all the calories we consume throughout the day?  There are some people out there who will make me feel as though I’m obsessive thinking so much about what I’m eating.  I try my best to tune them out - I worked damn hard to get where I am today, and I’m not going to blow that on “just one little bite!”  I do my best to explain to people that I’m a “sugar-holic.”  Some people fall off the wagon with a cocktail, for me, it can happen with something as simple as one Oreo.  Just the thought of that ridiculous cookie is making me drool on my keyboard as I type this, that’s how bad a trigger they are for me. 

It was the effort to think about what I ate through the course of the  day that made me realize what I was eating, and I was astonished when I saw the frequency at which I was eating.  I’ve talked about keeping food diaries in the past, and as much of a pain in the rear end as they are, they’re really worth the effort.  I keep my little “Losin It” application going on my iTouch tracking my consumption and activity, and when that scale starts to creep up in number, l can look to that log and see my infractions immediately.

If you’re really serious about losing weight, then make the effort to be honest with yourself.  When you look at what you’re eating throughout the day, and are REALLY honest about it to yourself, you may be just as shocked as I was.  “I couldn’t be eating that much” is what I always thought – but my perception was diametrically opposed to the reality of my actions.  Make a point today to stop for 5 minutes and think about what you ate.  If it’s really out of whack, you can begin to mend your ways.

Low Calorie Potato Salad

Next weekend marks the "unofficial" beginning of summer, Memorial Day.  With the summer comes warm weather, picnics and barbecues.  And what picnic or barbecue would be complete without potato salad?  I've avoided potato salad like the plague due to it's high caloric count.  A warm version from Eatingwell.com has put this summertime delight back on my plate this year!  Enjoy!

Warm Chicken, Sausage & Potato Salad


  • 1 pound small potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 5-ounce bag arugula (about 4 cups, gently packed)
  • 12 ounces precooked chicken sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Place potatoes in a steamer basket and steam, covered, until just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add arugula; cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Cook sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until browned and heated through, about 5 minutes. Add to the potato-arugula mixture.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in vinegar, maple syrup and mustard, scraping up any browned bits. Gradually whisk in oil. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until the arugula is wilted. Season with pepper.

Nutritional Value:

Per serving: 258 calories; 9 g fat (1 g sat, 3 g mono); 60 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 15 g protein; 2 g fiber; 483 mg sodium; 103 mg potassium.  2 Carbohydrate Serving

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (45% daily value).

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat 

Baking Light

Baking has always been one of my favorite past times.  Nothing fills the air like the aroma of fresh baked goods - mmmm, I can almost smell them now!  But they can also wreak havoc on my waistline, so when I came across these replacement options from Taste of Home Magazine, I just had to share.  These substitutions can help you cut corners on your fat counts without compromising flavor.  Stash this one away for later!

Applesauce. Fruit purees such as applesauce can replace up to half of the fat called for in baked items. The natural sugars and fibers in applesauce help to retain moisture.

Cocoa. Yes, you can have your chocolate and eat it too!  Reduce the amount of baking chocolate in a recipe with low-fat cocoa. Three tablespoons of cocoa plus 1 tablespoon of water equals one square of baking chocolate. Mix the cocoa into the dry ingredients and stir the water into the wet or creamed items in the recipe.

Confectioners' Sugar. Opt for confectioner's sugar as a replacement for fat and calorie loaded frosting from your grocer's shelf. A light dusting over cakes and brownies significantly cuts calories and fat compared to heavy frosting.  Also, confectioners' sugar can almost always be decreased in a frosting without missing the sweetness. One tablespoon of confectioners' sugar equals 29 calories. Sugar can often be decreased slightly without any substitute, especially with recipes that are 40 or more years old since they tend to be disproportionately high in sugar. Sugar packs on the calories quickly. One tablespoon of sugar equals 48 calories.

Nuts. Toast the nuts before mixing them into your batter or dough. This will give them a stronger flavor so you can use less of them.  And think about decreasing the amount of your mix-ins by chopping your ingredients like nuts, chips (use mini chips), raisins, coconut, etc.

Yogurt. Replace up to half of the butter in your recipe with half as much low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt. Not only does this decrease the fat, but it also helps create tender products.

Substitute egg whites for some of the whole eggs. But don't use all egg whites unless specified in the recipe since that can result in a spongy, tough end product.

If you have trouble with a tough, dense texture in a lightened-up baked good, try substituting cake flour for all-purpose flour the next time you make it.

Reduced-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat butter work well in place of their full-fat varieties, but since the lighter products tend to be more soft-set, the recipe may need noticeably less liquid.


  • It can be challenging to lighten cookie recipes and retain the original texture and shape. A better option is to prepare cookies as usual and savor a single serving.


Emotional Rescue

Ever have the inclination to reach for a bite to eat when things get bad?  Growing up, I got accustomed to reaching for food to soothe my jangled nerves.  Now how bad can things get for a kid?  Moves, new homes, changing schools and the divorce of my parents were enough to seal the deal for me.  As an adult going through a divorce, I've found it difficult to keep from reaching for that bowl of Haagen Dazs.  Yes, despite losing all the weight, it's still a struggle every day to counter some really bad, ingrained habits.  In the past 6 months of meets with my attorney, I've really fought hard to keep my sugar addiction from taking over - and with a 7 year old and a 5 year old in the house, sugar is ALWAYS around!  There are plenty of mental gymnastics I employ - like imagining the packages are sealed, or I visualize the package contents covered in cigarette ashes, anything to prevent myself from dipping into the kid's stash of cookies or chocolate.  I'm currently trying to prevent myself from slipping back into "zombie eating."  

Emotions are a powerful influence.  If you're like me, you use food to soothe, comfort and suppress negative emotions.  And it's something that was passed along by the women in my family "here honey, have something to eat, you'll feel better."  How could I turn down these loving, doting women who were so genuinely concerned about relieving my distress?  Major life events, and the hassles of daily living are enough to trigger emotional eating and derail our best efforts - even when you've dropped off a big chunk of weight like my 30 pounds.

Here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic that may help you curb those tendencies, and help you keep on track with your weight loss efforts....


  • De-stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as yoga, meditation or relaxation.
  • Wait it Out. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not really hungry. Give the craving a little time to pass.
  • Yes, a Food Diary! Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. I still love my "losin' it" iTouch application, but I try to think about the "why" behind my appetite.
  • Learn to Lean a Little. A good support network can help you refocus. Lean on family and friends or consider joining a support group.
  • The Art of Diversion! Instead of snacking when you're not truly hungry, distract yourself. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the Internet or call a friend.
  • Remove Temptation. With all the recent stress from my divorce, I've done my best to get the goodies out of the cabinets - those of you with kids know how difficult that can be!  
  • Don't deprive yourself. When you're trying to achieve a weight-loss goal, you may limit your calories too much, eat the same foods frequently and banish the treats you enjoy. This may just serve to increase your food cravings, especially in response to emotions. Let yourself enjoy an occasional treat and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
  • Healthy Choices. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a low-fat, low-calorie snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with fat-free dip, or low calorie yogurt.
  • Beauty Rest. If you're constantly tired, you might snack to try to give yourself an energy boost. Take a nap or go to bed earlier instead.
  • Try Therapy. If you're like me, and exhausted your self-help options but you still can't get control of your emotional eating, consider therapy with a professional mental health provider. Therapy can help you explore the motivations behind your emotional eating and develop coping skills. 




Food Fear

This week I'm attending a conference out in Salt Lake City Utah, sponsored by a web analytics company I use at work.  While I'm collecting a great deal of information for my business, conferences are one of the greatest diet sucks there are.  Talk about being a captive eater.  Around every corner, each session, breaks, meals, lurk large quantities of food!  Food pushers to my left, food pushers to my right.  And with barely an iota of nutritional value to be found.  These are the times that try a dieter's weary soul - cookies calling out to be eaten.  It's all too easy to fall into the trap of telling myself that I'll get on track when i return home.

Vats of candy and nutritionally deficit food at virtually every stop in the exhibition halls.  Is it any wonder that so many people complain about how much weight they gain if they're business travelers?  It takes some real steel willpower to keep from indulging yourself to the point of explosion.  If it isn't the casual food spreads in the conference halls, it's the meals out and entertaining that will get you. And the liquor!  Everyone wants to have a drink together, or wait staff is walking around passing drinks under your nose. 

I've done my best to make the best choices possible.  Maybe the solution is to just take cover in my room between sessions and during meals to really constrain what I consume.  Well, that may not be the best solution considering it's my job to mingle and collect information relevant to advancing the interests of my company at these functions.

If you're at the conference with me, grab me for a glass of water and a chat, and pull me away from the puddle of drool collecting in front of me while I stare down the cookie table!