August Salad Days

My goal is to return to having a salad for lunch at least three days and ideally four days a week.

In the heat a salad can’t be beat as a great no-cook choice for lunch or dinner.

The key to liking your leafy greens is to toss in a ton of extras for texture.

A salad chock full of crunch tastes better too.

I buy Boston lettuce.

Salad toppings:

diced onions

diced carrots

blueberries or raspberries

chickpeas

olives

cashews (you can use walnuts or almonds)

Other extras:

peppers

avocado

feta cheese

hard-boiled egg slices

mushrooms

corn

My preferred dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

When it’s hot you should turn on the air conditioner if you have one.

It can be hard to get the motivation to cook or to compose a salad when you’re living indoors.

It can be hard to exercise or to do a lot of things when your joy has tanked.

My take is that it might help to use the “if/then” technique.

Link an activity to the time of day you’re going to do it as in:

If it’s 2:00 on a Sunday I’ll exercise. If it’s noon on a day I’m off I’ll make a salad.

Years ago I used to show up to the gym regular like clockwork between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. every Sunday without fail.

Of course this might be harder to accomplish when you have no energy.

Anxiety and depression have been on the rise in the time of the pandemic.

This is no joke. That’s why cutting yourself a break is warranted.

This is why making a salad when you can’t cook is perfectly fine.

I find that holding myself accountable to my readers enables me to practice what I preach.

The choir keeps me going.

Living Lively

Haile Thomas is the 19-year old author and motivational speaker of this book.

Per her Amazon sales page:

At 16 she was the youngest to graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. 

Her empowering guide offers 80 recipes plus exercise pages you can write in to activate your power.

She talks about 7 Points of Power:

Wellness

World perspective

Media and societal influences

Thoughts and mindset

Education

Relationships

Creativity and community

In keeping with the 8 Dimensions of Wellness on the homepage of this blog Haile Thomas breaks down Wellness into:

Spiritual wellness

Emotional / mental wellness

Physical wellness

Intellectual wellness

Environmental wellness

Social wellness

Financial wellness

I’m a 55-year old Generation X woman who is not in the target market for this Generation Z author’s book.

Yet I’ve bought this book which was just released this week in the market.

I’m keen to see whether the recipes feature healthful snacks that can replace chips and pretzels.

In my own life the only snack I’ve been having lately is a jar of Petit Pot chocolate pudding twice a week.

I’ve fallen down on eating fruit though I’ve been having a banana. And I have organic cherries that are in season right now.

When I make a salad I mix in blueberries or raspberries with olives chick peas carrots and cashews.

I’m not a big fan of fruit.

Yet I try my best to have 2 servings of fruit every day. An organic navel orange for breakfast. And a different serving of fruit for a snack in the afternoon.

I’m excited to start reading Living Lively. My take is that reading it could benefit individuals of all ages and stages of life.

Summering in Place

The COVID-19 outbreak is still in effect.

New York State has gone from having the highest number of cases to having the lowest number of infections as of today.

Where I live in Brooklyn people walk outdoors with open faces not covered with a mask or bandanna.

I walk far far away from these yahoos to get where I’m going.

It’s going on four months that everything shut down around here. We are now in Stage 3 of our reopening.

In this time I have achieved my goal using the Changeology 90-day action plan. My new goal is to cook my own dinners 5x per week.

I would like to talk in the next blog entry about imposing a structure on daily activity and automating a weekly routine.

Has anyone else found like I did that during the pandemic when you’re indoors you have whole chunks of time with nothing to do?

I would like to talk in the next blog entry too about what I’ve learned living through this pandemic.

More Ways to Get Energy

Today more than ever it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves.

Engaging in protest could drain us of energy. We don’t have time to wait to see progress. Today everyone’s tired of being told to wait. It takes a lot of physical stamina to march in the streets.

On the radio this week the disc jockey told listeners to take care of ourselves.

Each of us is possessed with a power bigger than our pain.

Yet sometimes the pain we feel–whether about injustice or our own illness or other things–can be overwhelming.

What do I think about how to take care of ourselves?

It comes down to conserving our energy for the tasks that are essential. Letting everything else slide.

I wrote in here recently about how to get energy. A Real Simple issue titled Find Your Balance has an article on The New Rules of Eating for Energy:

Eat protein for breakfast.

People who have a high-protein meal of about 30 grams first thing in the morning with low glycemic load food had the highest energy level.

Drink plenty of water.

I wrote about this in my last blog entry on getting energy.

Fatigue sets in when you get dehydrated.

Have a healthful snack during the day that has fiber protein and healthy fat.

This could be a handful of almonds or cashews or walnuts.

Eat more calories earlier in the day.

You have a food circadian rhythm. Having a moderate-sized meal for breakfast and lunch and a small meal for dinner could be the way to go.

Nix sugar as a source of energy.

After the initial blood-sugar spike you’ll be left drained.

Dine with friends.

As per the Real Simple energy article:

Social interaction has been shown to help people manage stress pain and sadness all of which are drains on energy.

There is a cookbook titled Protest Kitchen.

If I remember it caters to vegan recipes. You might be able to check it out of the library where you live. It’s available from the library system in Brooklyn NY.

Changing Habits

My epiphany with food and exercise occurred when I moved into a new apartment nine years ago.

In the 1q90s my weekly menu consisted of Velveeta mac-and-cheese (marginally OK when I added broccoli to it), hot dogs, hamburgers, frozen TV dinners and other cheap crap.

Not surprisingly I was 20 pounds overweight. That was my typical diet for too long. I kid you not I used to eat unhealthful food every week for years and years.

This hungry woman used to “treat” herself to Hungry Man TV dinners all the time.

So I can tell you that my story is living proof that it’s possible to change your exercise and eating habits at any point in your life.

I was 46 when I first started to lift weights and eat organic food.

I’m 55 now and feel better than ever.

I tell you this story to give readers hope.

I’ll end here with this:

Our lives are going to be too long not too short to put off doing what gives us joy and makes us feel good.

We should not have to live one minute longer in pain than we absolutely need to.

As a therapist once said: “Suffering for the sake of suffering is bullshit.”

The point is not that you have to be skinny or have six-pack abs.

The exclamation point is that feeling good feels so much better than being out of shape.

Good food as said can put you in a good mood.

I’m going to talk in the next blog entry about slowing down and focusing on the present moment.

A new documentary about Michael Jordan–the Last Dance–talks about 3 tactics he employed to win championships.

I’ll talk about them here because they can assist us in real life.

The Real Deal About Pasta

Once I told an M.D. that I wanted to lose weight.

“Lay off the pasta.” He laughed.

As an Italian person I should not be against eating pasta.

However most white food like rice pasta and potatoes is not healthful.

I’ve decided to have pasta at most once or twice a month.

The health coach I hired told me whole-wheat pasta isn’t a heck of a lot better than regular pasta.

The solution to maintaining your weight is to understand that having a “treat” like pasta every so often–as opposed to every week–could be fine.

Thinking in terms of having a “cheat day” when you’re “on a diet” is a mistake.

Thinking in terms of food being “good” or “bad” sets you up to fail.

In this blog years ago I touted my own strategy: the 80 percent rule: to eat healthful food 80 percent of the time.

Which for me hovers at 90 percent right now.

I’m the odd girl out because I love vegetables.

And I’m odd because I’m Italian and I rarely eat pasta.

My contention is that food that’s good for you can taste good.

How do I feel after eating pasta? Sluggish.

In a coming blog entry I’ll talk about ways to get more energy.

Weekly Menu

I thought I’d share with you my food menu for one week.

In the hope of corroborating the research on how eating healthful food can improve a person’s mood.

This was the menu I recorded for last week.

The items on this week’s menu were different on most days except for the snacks. Breakfast is the same every day.

My experience having eggs for breakfast every day shows that eggs are OK to have every week as an alternative to a box of cereal

I don’t think you’re going to harm your health by having eggs. Step away from the Skinny Bitch diet book that tells you not to have eggs.

The alternative–chocolate Special K with artificial flavors–I beg you please no.

Breakfast:

Two or three organic eggs with diced tri-color peppers and mushroom slices.

Monday:

Lunch:

Amy’s Organic butternut squash soup.

Snack:

PetitPot organic chocolate pudding.

Dinner:

Shrimp ring with cocktail sauce and salad.

Tuesday:

Lunch:

Organic lettuce chock full of raspberries, chickpeas, olives, carrots, and cashews.

Dinner:

Salmon filet with cauliflower.

Wednesday:

Lunch:

Again a salad like the one on Tuesday.

Dinner:

Maple-glazed turnips-and-carrots recipe.

Thursday:

Lunch:

Ditto for the salad.

Dinner:

Scallops with roasted root vegetables.

Friday:

Lunch:

Roasted butternut squash.

Dinner:

Again a salad chock full of goodies.

Saturday:

Lunch:

Amy’s Organic Chunky tomato soup.

Dinner:

Chicken cutlet with green beans.

Sunday:

Lunch:

Salad.

Dinner:

Tofu and broccoli in sesame oil.

Daily Snacks:

Organic raspberries or blackberries.

Organic Fair Trade bananas.

Organic Fuji apples.

Other fruit when in season.

After a workout:

Fage plain Greek yogurt full-fat kind with organic blueberries and a drizzle of raw honey.

_____________________

I don’t believe the beef industry hype that red meat or any kind of meat is good for you.

The most I eat is chicken and turkey and fish and seafood.

I don’t like that Driscoll’s seems to be the only option in town for berries. As I’m aware that Driscoll’s might not treat their farm workers fairly or justly.

I’m in favor of giving so-called “migrant” farm workers U.S. citizenship and a livable wage.

In the coming blog entry I’ll give the Maple-glazed turnips-and-carrots recipe.

I was surprised to find turnips for sale in a food market. So they might be available where you are too.

Healthful Food Improves Mood

I write about healthful eating in the spirit of motivating readers to feel good.

With so much stress in life it’s nice to know that simply changing what you eat can reduce anxiety and depression.

The benefits of healthful eating extend to a person’s mood not only their waistline.

A 2010 study “found that women who ate diets high in vegetables, fruit, fish and whole grains with moderate amounts of red meat were less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders than those who followed a typical Western diet: processed foods, pizza, fast food, white flour and sugary sodas and other sweet beverages.”

This according to research by Felice Jacka, PhD reported on in the TIME magazine special edition The Science of Nutrition.

The role of nutrition in mental health has seen the trend in Nutritional Psychiatry to focus on how food impacts mood.

The ideal “diet” might be the Mediterranean diet: “rich in vegetables, salads, fruits and legumes–such as chickpeas, lentils and tofu; whole grains and raw nuts; fish and lean red meats; and healthy fats like olive oil.””

Step away from the 700-calorie frozen meals passed off as Lean or Smart.

Pick up a frying pan and saute vegetables instead.

I’m constantly baffled by the pseudo-healthful behaviors women engage in to try to lose weight.

Not once did I go on a “diet” and I lost 20 pounds and kept off the weight. I’m 55 and I weigh 115 pounds–the same as when I was 29.

Pick up a dumbbell. Put down the diet books. In the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar an article talked about weight loss: it’s not a “one-and-done” activity.

You need to keep up these healthy habits for the rest of your life. Not just while you’re trying to lose weight.

Again I’ll refer you to the books Atomic Habits and Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

Alas, nothing worth having comes without effort.

No one wants to hear that it will take permanent effort to maintain weight loss.

Yet my life experiences are the living proof: I lift weights 2x per week for 30 to 45 minutes in each session. And I cook my own healthful dinners 5x per week.

My father had Stage 3 colon cancer that spread to his liver.

This accounts for my commitment to healthful eating.

You can live to be 81 like my father did. Yet if you’re in ill health how will you be able to enjoy your long life?

More about my typical eating plan in coming blog entries. With a few of my favorite  recipes I like to cook for dinner.

 

Status of 3-Month Challenge – Update

Hmm _ forgot I scheduled this blog entry and wrote 2 entries with the same title 🙂

On January 14, 2020 in this blog I wrote about the 3-Month Challenge I wanted to achieve.

My goal was to cook my own dinner 4x per week and do a walk-run on the treadmill 1x per week.

On March 17, 2020 the gyms in New York City were forced to shut down along with the retail stores.

As far as my goal of cooking dinners 4x per week this has been achieved.

In the time of the pandemic and living indoors it has been easier to cook dinner nearly every night.

My concern is how the changed nature of living life during the pandemic had disrupted anyone who was using the Changeology 5-Step 90-Day Action Plan to realize our goals and resolutions.

In this extraordinary time each of us needs to act kinder and gentler towards ourselves and others.

I live with the belief that everyone living on earth is doing the best we can with what we were given in life.

No judgments–that is the way to move forward–to live with no judgments.

Before the pandemic hit I had started to use the treadmill. I continued to lift weights.

Now that everything has changed I understand what it feels like to have your life upended by a circumstance outside your control.

I will talk about this more in the next blog entry.

Status of 3-Month Challenge

In January I wrote here my 3-month challenge:

To cook my own dinners 4x per week. To do a walk-run on the treadmill 1x per week.

On March 17, 2020 the gyms in New York City shut down because of the coronavirus.

My goal of using the treadmill was put on hold. I had been using the treadmill before that.

Since January I have been cooking my own dinners. Since March 15 I have cooked my own dinners at least 5x per week.

Forced to stay indoors it has been the perfect time to cook my own dinners.

It’s healthier to cook your own dinners. That is it’s healthier to cook nutritious food.

Red meat and other meat should be avoided.

I have chicken once a week. A salmon filet twice a week. Scallops once a week when I’m able to get them. Tofu-and-broccoli once a week. Some kind of squash once a week. That gives me one free night. With this main dish I have some kinds of vegetable.

I don’t ordinarily eat a lot of whole grains. I have a container of full-fat Fage plain Greek yogurt with organic blueberries and some honey after I do a workout routine.

In the morning I scramble organic eggs and veggies for breakfast. For lunch I have a salad–I try to have a salad at least 4x per week–or 5x per week when I’m able.

For a snack every day I have organic fruit–berries or a banana or a Fuji apple or a pear when in season.

In the coming blog entries I will talk about the current research that proves what I’ve been writing  in here all along: the food you eat can improve your mood.

For more on this you can buy the TIME special edition magazine The Science of Nutrition.