Friday, November 4, 2011

Kay Loughrey leads new weight management seminar
After months of planning, today, I’m announcing my new business, Whole Mind Wellness, LLC, a weight management educational services company.  I’m now completing the pilot of my new model weight management program, Slim Down and Win that will soon be offered to Americans across the country.

What is Slim Down and Win?  This new weight management system is designed to help adults shed excess weight permanently without giving up their lives.  The transformations include training clients to find their joy, enhance their vitality, and avoid diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Along with my new business and weight management system, my blog will be moving to On the blog, I’ll share with you ways to use the body, mind, and soul wellness strategies to win at weight loss. I’ll offer you more tips for shedding excess weight permanently without losing your life. Blog posts will be published on Thursdays. Please join me on the new blog and share your comments and thoughts. I love hearing from you!

I’d also like to invite you to join my FREE Teleseminar, Body, Mind, and Soul Secrets to Lasting Weight Management Success on December 1, from 7 – 8 pm, Eastern.  On this exclusive teleseminar I will share my top strategies for celebrating the Holidays without gaining weight and jump-start your weight loss plan in 2012.  Click here to register.

I’m so excited to announce that we have even more great ways to stay connected! I launched my Facebook Fan Page and Twitter profile today.

I invite you to visit all these wonderful ways to connect often, to receive timely ideas for using Body, Mind, and Soul secrets to fuel your lasting success at weight management.

Yours in Joy and Health!

Kay Loughrey, RD

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baked Apple Simplicity: A Treat from the Orchard

Jake eating a Pink Lady apple

What can you do with all of those luscious apples you’ve picked from the orchard?  

Here’s an easy recipe idea that will support your weight management goals courtesy of my husband Jake. He made baked apples the other day in such a simple way.  These baked apples taste as good to me as apple pie and they’re low in calories!.

Baked Apple Simplicity

Serves 4

  • Wash 4 apples (Pink Lady) and cut each in half 
  • Core apples by cutting them out in diagonal wedges
  • Top each apple half with 2 teaspoons of honey and ground cinnamon to taste
 Cook in a toaster oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and tender.

Bon Appetite!

What’s your favorite way to make an apple dessert that's not loaded with calories?

Yours in Joy and Health!

Kay Loughrey

Apple Picking at Homestead Farms, Maryland

Friday, October 21, 2011

Clearing Away Negative Thinking to Help Fuel Weight Loss

Kay at Impact & Influence Intensive
I’m with about 300 people right now in San Diego who are taking the Impact and Influence Intensive with with Lisa Sasevich.  I’ve joined many other workshop participants in making a commitment not to complain, criticize, and gossip for the next 21 days.  I made this decision because I knew from past experience that negative thinking affects my well being and that of those around me. 

What does staying positive have to do with losing excess weight permanently?  It’s no secret that losing weight and keeping it off takes resilience and a focus on meeting cherished goals.  Carping and negative thinking is like throwing a wet blanket on the joy and motivation that are so vital for shedding excess weight permanently without giving up your life.

The idea for making this commitment came from The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, A Simple Guide to Unlimited Abundance a book by Edwene Gaines that Lisa Sasevich sent to each of the workshop participants as a gift to read before the workshop began on Thursday.  Thanks Lisa!  In the book, Gaines issued a 21 Day Challenge as part of a “life changing” process for learning how to set goals.

How about joining me in making a commitment not to complain, criticize, and gossip for the next 21 days?  Please let me know how it goes.

Yours in joy and health!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Forgotten How to Relax? Try T’ai Chi

James Mao, T'ai Chi Master 

What was your earliest memory?  More than likely it was a time when you were carefree and didn’t fret or worry.  You played, ate, slept, and focused on what was before you.   Then challenges came along (after age 10 most likely) and you began to gradually forget how to relax. 

Are you interested in regaining this kind of relaxation?  If so, T’ai Chi Chuan may be for you.  I interviewed my T’ai Chi teacher Master James Mao for this blog post because of the many ways it has helped me achieve a greater inner resilience and feel healthier.

Master Mao has practiced the Yang Style of T’ai Chi for 12 years and martial arts for 35 years. During our interview, Master Mao observed that relaxation is the most important principle of T’ai Chi. The more relaxed you are, he said, the more you can tap into a universal energy.  This energy comes from using Chi that comes from the Dan Tien from just below the navel. 

Master Mao mentioned that he gained more energy, his body became stronger, and his tendon system was enhanced once he practiced the form correctly each day.  His students most often mention to him that they have a better temper, more energy, their muscles are stronger, and they feel healthier from doing T’ai Chi.

How did Master Mao get started with T’ai Chi?  He grew up in Asia where T’ai Chi is known as a very powerful martial art.  He studied a number of martial arts like Judo, karate, and wrestling. Then he studied with T’ai Chi Master Julian Ju whose internal power was so strong that James Mao became curious about how he could acquire this level of internal power. 

T'ai Chi Class with Master Mao
T’ai Chi is most beneficial when practiced the form 4 – 8 times each day.  The form comes with a warm up and a meditation (called Universal Standing).  The meditation is a way to harmonize with the universe by emptying your mind.   During the meditation, the head is suspended as if from the sky.  Your mind is expanded and freed to see things from many different angles.  Imagine you are in a 3 or 4 dimensional environment.  For example, “It’s as if you are in a park and see a tree, you become the tree, and then you see the tree again,” reported Master Mao. 

What you learn by observing things from different perspectives can be used in other areas of life such as in resolving disputes.  When two persons each insist on their respective point of view, they find no resolution according to Master Mao.  Minds become focused, limited, and can’t be calmed.  Resolution comes when you no longer insist on your opinion and can release the narrowed perspective.    

How to get started with learning T’ai Chi?  Master Mao advises that, “You need to be patient.  T’ai Chi isn’t a cure all, and is a long-term commitment.  Don’t expect to learn it quickly,” he said. He also mentioned that you need a teacher as a role model so that you can aspire to reaching his/her level. 

What are your comments or questions about T’ai Chi?

Yours in Joy and Health!


T'ai Chi Practice with Master Mao 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Be Choosy: Walking the Talk on Weight Loss

Kay working out

I just came back from the Saturday Farmer’s Market.  I bought home some baby Italian kale.  What I didn’t bring home was the Gluten-Free Chocolate Overload iced cupcake I bought and ate at the market.  Some people may think that I should feel guilty about this indulgence.  Yet, I savored every bite.  In fact, I have the Weight Watchers Points Plus available this week for this kind of splurge.  By now, I splurge like this with “a significant dessert” about once a month.

A premise of my approach to weight management for myself and those I coach is that we can include our favorite foods in our weight management program.  The challenging opportunity is to “be choosy.”  Being choosy means picking and choosing what, when, and how much to eat and drink.  And how wonderful it is to savor every bite and eat without guilt.

So, how am I doing on my own weight loss?  It’s been an all out effort since we came back from France in August to lose the 4 pounds I gained.  I’ve cut back on desserts, alcoholic drinks, and snacks.  I’ve really stepped up my aerobic physical activity, now just over an hour on most days.  

What do I have to show for all the effort?  As of this week, I’ve lost 5 pounds, and am within the normal range for my height.  I’m losing about ½ pound a week, my usual rate of weight loss. My goal is still to lose 3 more pounds, though not by October 15.  

I’m pleased about my own weight loss progress at a time when I’m starting a new weight management educational services company.  It’s my job to walk the talk! 

The first session of my new weight management seminar for Adventist Health Care System was last Tuesday.  Now, seminar participants are busy making time for weight management, establishing their food and physical activity goals, and monitoring what they eat.  So exciting!

How are you “being choosy” about what you eat and drink to manage your weight?

Yours in joy and health!


Friday, September 30, 2011

What Does Active Aging Mean to You?

This week is Active Aging Week, an annual event initiated by the International Council on Active Aging.  It is a great time to try new activities that will help you stay energetic and healthy as you age.    

By the way, aging isn’t just for older people.  Aging is something we’re all doing every minute, whether we’re 5 or 85 years old.  Have you thought about physical activities that you’d enjoy but haven’t yet started?  Why not have some fun and do something today?  It can be as easy as grabbing a neighbor and going for a walk or taking those dance lessons you’ve been considering.

This year’s theme for Active Aging Week is Expand Your Experience.  It encourages you to try something new.  “Active Aging Week is a great time to connect with other people and activities,” advises Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging. “The week’s focus is on what older adults CAN do, not on what they cannot or ‘should not’ do. By expanding their experiences, participants find the activities that have meaning for them, and maintain their health so they can pursue their avocations.”

What new physical activities will you begin this fall to reduce your stress, keep you vital, and help you stay healthy?  For more ideas check out the Be Active Your Way Tip Sheet.

Yours in joy and health!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fast Food is Cheaper?

Krakow, 2011

I just can’t help but highlight Mark Bittman’s insightful New York Times article published this Sunday, “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?”  The short answer is no.  Generally speaking he said, processed foods are more expensive than food cooked at home.  He showed that a meal for 4 persons at McDonald's is more expensive than 2 other meals prepared at home. Two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, 6 pieces of chicken McNuggets, 2 medium and 2 small fries, and 2 medium and 2 small sodas cost $28. Contrast the fast food meal with a home cooked roast chicken and vegetable dinner with salad and milk that cost about $14 or a home made meal of canned rice and beans flavored with bacon, green peppers, and onions along with milk at about $9.

True enough, one has to make wise choices when buying foods on a budget to cook at home.  But the food is not only cheaper as Mark Bittman observed, but it usually tastes better and can be prepared quickly. 

And as Mr. Bittman so aptly pointed out, the argument that persons on a budget need a cheap source of calories is wrong when more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. These Americans need fewer rather than more calories!  Overeating also is costly in medical terms. The more than 40 diseases and conditions that are obesity-related cost an estimated $147 billion per year.  Now that’s expensive!

Check out the New York Times article for a thorough debunking of the myth that fast food is cheaper than real food.

What are your favorite low cost meals that you prepare at home?

Yours in Joy and Health!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup, a Harvest Recipe for Weight Management

As fall begins and the weather cools, vegetable soup is warming and a terrific filling food that you can eat to help support your weight management goals. 

In the next few weeks, I’ll feature some of my favorite soup recipes starting with Butternut Squash soup.  I often make this recipe for dinner guests who often say how much they love the taste.

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

The original recipe is a bit spicy and calls for chilies.  These can be omitted for a milder soup.

2 T       Olive oil
2          Medium onions, chopped
2          Carrots, chopped
2          Cloves garlic, chopped
2          Fresh hot jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 cup    Tomato puree
2 ½ lb  Butternut squash, peeled and cubed*
5 cups  Low-sodium chicken broth (remove fat)
Pepper to taste
Lime wedges

In a large non-aluminum saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Stir in onions, carrots, and garlic.  Cook for 3 minutes and then cover the pan.  Lower heat and cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are very tender.  Stir in the tomato puree, chilies, squash, and chicken broth.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  Mash squash with a potato masher or back of a spoon.  The soup does not need to be completely smooth.  Serve with lime wedges to be squeezed into each bowl of soup.  Serve with cornbread.

This recipe was adapted from the Healthy Hispanic Recipe booklet, published by the National Cancer Institute.  Original recipe entitled Winter Squash Soup is from Paraguay.

What is your favorite fall soup?

Yours in joy and health!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Losing Weight to Reduce Your Risk for Diabetes

What a shocker to read that 79 million Americans aged 20 and older are likely to get diabetes (because they have pre-diabetes).  These are whopping numbers!  It's a sobering fact that 35 percent of adults 20 years old and older and 50 percent of persons 65 years or older are at risk. 

On Thursday I attended The Ultimate One-Day Diabetes Course seminar in Columbia, Maryland on trends in diabetes prevention and treatment.  I was even more thunderstruck when I heard that 1 in 4 Americans have diabetes when persons at risk are included. 

Why find out what your chances are of developing diabetes?  You'll lower your likelihood of having heart disease, stroke, and the other complications of diabetes by taking steps to prevent the disease.

How can you find out if you are at risk?  Take the Diabetes Risk Test.

Lose just a small amount of weight and lower your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes (or delay its onset) if you're at risk.  All that is needed is to lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight. 

Here’s how:

  • Get 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 days a week; and
  • Reduce the number of calories you eat a day to lose weight.  How? Eat a variety of foods low in fat and calories.
Please find out whether you are at risk of having Type 2 diabetes and share this information with a loved one.  Learn more about how to reduce your risk at the National Diabetes Program Web site.

What are you doing to find whether you're likely to develop diabetes?

Yours in joy and health!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Go Green AND Lose Weight

Fruit and Vegetable Market, 2011 

Making choices that are environmentally friendly can help you lose weight—if you keep in mind that portion sizes and total calories still count. 

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research lately on the food supply and global warming. I was astounded to learn that the food system may be responsible for almost 30 percent of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions generated by the consumer economy in industrialized countries. 

Did you know that the contribution of the food system to global warming is so large that making more environmentally friendly food substitutions can make as much difference in one’s carbon footprint as driving a super efficient hybrid car? 

Here are my top 7 tips for persons who are interested both in losing weight and in protecting the planet. 

  1. Double the amount of low-calorie fruits and vegetables you eat (unless you already eat way more than most Americans).

  1. Eat red meat from cattle, sheep, and goats less often.  Substitute fish, seafood, poultry and eggs, or choose meatless protein foods like legumes. Eat smaller amounts:  3 – 4 ounces cooked.
  1. Eat more whole grains.

  1. Eat what you buy to avoid waste. 

  1. Store foods in an energy efficient refrigerator.

  1. Eat fewer foods that are heavily processed and packaged.

  1. Buy and eat less food. Burn off more calories doing physical activity with a purpose.  How’s that? Walk to the grocery store for a few items.

Some diets are more environmentally friendly than others.  What are your thoughts about choosing a weight loss diet that is environmentally friendly?  Would you do it?  Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Big Potato Fight

Yes, the Center for Science in the Public Interest makes a good point that French fries shouldn’t be served everyday for school lunch and that other vegetables deserve a chance.  So true! Yes, it’s also undoubtedly a fact that many of us eat too many fries and potato chips. 

But really, the potato itself isn’t to blame.  White potatoes are getting a bad rap.  The real white potato as nature made it offers a number of key nutrients.  The problem begins when a potato is loaded with salt and fat (especially saturated fat).  Food manufacturing turns a respectable real food into an industrialized product designed to hyper-stimulate our taste buds, as David Kessler discussed in his book, The End of Overeating.

In June a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that eating potatoes is responsible for weight gain. Chemist Joe Vinson, made an interesting observation on the NPR blog, Can Potatoes Give Your Heart a Boost:  A Chemist Thinks So. Vinson claimed that this study unfairly combined fried versions and other potatoes.  

There are plenty of other places to look for the excess calories Americans consume.  For Americans (Ages 2+), the 10 top sources of calories don’t include potatoes at all.  Instead these foods top the list:

  1. Desserts (grain based)
  2. Yeast breads
  3. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
  4. Soda/energy/sports drinks
  5. Pizza
  6. Alcoholic beverages
  7. Pasta and pasta dishes
  8. Tortillas, burritos, tacos
  9. Beef and beef mixed dishes
  10. Dairy desserts     
Yes, I may be biased because I was raised in Idaho, the Famous Potatoes state.  Or maybe it’s that I like the taste of unadorned potatoes.  At home, we just microwave new potatoes and eat them plain or splashed with a bit of vinegar. 

Still, as a nutritionist, I believe we’re looking in the wrong place by bashing specific foods in their natural state instead of industrialized versions of foods in general.  We eat too many food products that are high in sugar, salt, and fat and compound the problem with hours of passive screen time each day.

What’s your take on the role potatoes play in weight gain?

Yours in joy and health!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can Physical Activity Make A Difference?

The scale finally budged.  I’ve lost three pounds.  Weighing and measuring almost everything I eat has been a wake up call.  And I’ve bumped up the amount of vigorous physical activity I’m doing.  I’ve added 15 minutes on most days. 

Did you hear the news, that a bout of 45 minutes of vigorous physical activity can boost the amount of energy you burn for up to 14 hours according to a study published by the American College of Sports Medicine?  

Seems like doing 45 minutes of vigorous physical activity a day is doing this body good. Now the challenge is to keep up the momentum!

Tip:  Check out ways your can increase your physical activity using the Be Active Your Way Tips widget.

Please share your insights in the comment box on ways you’ve added physical activity to your life and the results.

Yours in joy and health!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting Unstuck: Lifetime Member Returns to Weight Watchers

Kay at Weight Watchers, August 2011 

In one of my last blog posts I mentioned a plan to go back to Weight Watchers. Yesterday I did it!  I attended my first session in more than a year.  The subject was how to get unstuck.  Timely topic!  The scale has been stuck at the same weight for two weeks.

The leader mentioned that some people who’ve been on Weight Watchers for a long time no longer have a good gauge of how much they are eating.  Sounded suspiciously familiar.  So, I bought a food scale and today measured the amount of cheese I use on my favorite sandwich.  Wow, what a surprise.  I thought I’d been eating 1 ounce of cheese.  Instead I was eating 2.5 ounces.  Instead of the 100 calories I was counting, I was eating 250 calories.  No wonder I’m not losing weight!

Tip:  Weighing and measuring foods can give you a wake up call about how much you eat. What you’re eating is likely different than what you think!  Want another eye opener?  Then read Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating for a shock or two.  Even nutritionists had difficulty accurately estimating what they ate in his studies.

What tips do you have from your own personal experience about how to get unstuck with losing weight?

Yours in joy and health!


Kay and Session Leader, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Loving It? McDonald’s Seeks to Improve Nutrition Image

MdDonald's Restaurant, Rest Stop, France, 2011

Seemed like everywhere we went this summer in France, Krakow, and Prague we saw McDonald’s fast food restaurants and signage.  While in France I read that McDonald's corporate earnings were up for the second quarter of 2011 in the US and in Europe by 5%.  Not a surprise.  

Reminds me of other rates that are going up.  Overweight and obesity have doubled globally in the last 30 years to nearly 1.5 billion people.  And where there are larger numbers of fast food restaurants (in the US) people are heavier.

Interest in promoting good nutrition has finally reached a tipping point, enough so that McDonald’s has jumped on the bandwagon.  Is the commitment genuine? 

In July, I received an email from Today’s Dietitian addressed to nutrition professionals and dietitians.  The email message was from McDonald's and described its “commitments” to “improved nutrition choices.”  

What improvements has McDonald's planned?  They've promised to:

  • Include produce every happy meal with a resulting 20% fewer calories in the most popular happy meals and promote nutrition awareness in all national kids communications by 2012;

  • Reduce sugars, saturated fat and calories by 2020 and reduce sodium by 15% in national menu items by 2015; and

  • Increase access to nutrition information for customers and employees.

McDonald's Restaurant, France, 2011
Is this change for real?  I’ve been mulling this question over for awhile. I keep coming back to a Mark Bittman article about McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal offering published in a February NYT blog.  What Mark found out about McDonald's oatmeal recipe wasn't pretty.  

With 11 ingredients, this recipe is oatmeal turned into industrial food.  Bittman discovered that the McDonald’s oatmeal contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and about the same number of calories as an Egg McMuffin.

Fast Fact:  “The strongest association between fast food consumption and obesity is when one or more fast food meals are consumed per week.” (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010).

Tips:  Save time: make oatmeal at home.  Reconsider how often you eat at fast food restaurants.  Go less often if you eat in one regularly.  Look beyond the surface. What you learn may startle you. Look online or ask for nutrition information to help you find healthier choices if you decide to eat at a fast food restaurant.  

What have you learned lately about offerings in fast food and chain restaurants that surprised you?

Yours in joy and health!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Go Green: Spicy BBQ Tofu and Bok Choy Recipe

Spicy BBQ Tofu and Bok Choy

Looking for ways to go green these last few weeks of summer?  I just created a new super tasty recipe to share with you.  It’s packed with nutrients and in case you care, it’s a recipe that will help you reduce your food carbon footprint.  How’s that?  Well since it’s a meatless dish, this new Spicy BBQ Tofu and Bok Choy recipe, doesn’t require nearly the energy to produce as red meat (think beef and lamb).

This recipe is so lip smacking good and simple to make that I’ll make it again real soon.  

Spicy BBQ Tofu and Bok Choy Recipe (serves 4)

1          Block Tofu, firm, drained
1          Bunch Bok Choy, washed, medium dice
2 T       Hoisin Sauce (Asian BBQ)
1          Clove Garlic
3          Dried Red Hot Peppers (adjust amount to taste)
3          Slices Fresh Ginger
4 T       Peanut Oil
1 Tsp.  Sesame Oil

2 cups  Cooked Multi-colored Whole Grain Rice (1/2 cup per person)

Directions (5 easy steps):

  • Cut tofu into 1/3 inch thick strips.  Brown in 1 T peanut oil over medium high heat in sauté pan until brown (or scored, if sauté pan grill ridges).

  • Place cooked tofu on cookie sheet and brush all sides lightly with Hoisin sauce.

  • Heat wok to high heat, add 3 T peanut oil and hot peppers then cook for 2 minutes.  Add garlic, and ginger slices and cook about 1 more minute.

  • Add Bok Choy, stir continuously using folding motion, until leaves are wilted and evenly cooked. Cover wok, reduce heat to low, and cook until lid is very warm.

  • Uncover wok, add tofu and sesame oil, gently combined.  Cover until lid is very warm, about 3 minutes.
Nutrition content (per serving):  Calories: 386; Sodium: 114 mg

Voila!  Serve over warm rice, and you’ve got a complete meal.

What’s so special about Bok Choy?

Besides it’s vibrant color, crunch, Bok Choy is filling, low in calories and sodium, and is packed with potassium and vitamin A (as betacarotene), and also contains calcium, and vitamin c.

What’s your favorite meatless summer meal?

Yours in joy and health!


Spicy BBQ Tofu and Bok Choy Served with Rice

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back from Provence: Back on Track with Losing Weight

Vegetable Appetizer, 2011
I weighed myself today and I lost a little more than one of the four pounds gained while in France.  I’ve recorded what I eat for the last week and we’re substituting luscious farm raised white peaches or a Weight Watchers ice cream sandwich for desserts (most of the time), and enjoying the good summer produce. 

I just came back from a workout on the elliptical and bicycle in our gym downstairs.  I’m gradually building back up to the 30 minutes on the elliptical, my favorite workout.  I’m mixing it up though.  I started swimming again in our pool two days ago because of the gorgeous weather.

Tip:  Did you know that the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest doing moderate level of physical activity (like brisk walking) for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week?  There’s also a booklet to show you how to get started or increase your physical activity.  The Guidelines suggest building up gradually.  The idea when getting started is to slowly add more time to your routine.

What are you doing this summer to lose or maintain your weight?

Yours in joy and health!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Return from Provence: Gearing Up to Lose Weight

Summer Fruits, 2011
Last blog entry, I admitted that I slipped up. I didn’t maintain my weight during our summer in Provence.  Instead, I gained four pounds!  Extra wine and desserts were too much of a good thing. 

What am I going to do now?

The first step is setting a target. My goals are to:

  • Lose the weight I gained; and

  • Lose four more pounds by the end of October and then maintain this weight loss.

I can use some encouragement just now. “Success is never final.  Failure is never fatal.  Courage is what counts.”  Thanks Peggy Murrah for putting this quote from Winston Churchill on Facebook today. 

What else am I going to do?

  • Resume writing down what I eat and drink daily.
  • Walk, bike, and exercise on the elliptical for an hour a day. 
  • Fill up on low calorie food and drinks like watermelon, other summer fruits and vegetables, and iced mint tea; 
  • Drink less alcohol (2 glasses of wine a week instead of 7) and eat fewer desserts (a slice of tart once a week instead of one a day).
  • Go to Weight Watchers and weigh in weekly with my buddy Judy.
Like many others, I’ve struggled with my weight over a number of years. 
I’ve been on a weight maintenance plan for the past 3 years after having lost 12 pounds on Weight Watchers. 

Weight management tips:

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 cites these behaviors with the strongest evidence for helping manage body weight:

·        Focus on the total number of calories consumed.
·        Monitor food intake.
·        When eating out choose smaller or lower-calorie options.
·        Prepare, serve, and consume smaller portions of foods and beverages especially those high in calories.
·        Eat a nutrient dense breakfast.
·        Limit screen time.

What steps have you found most useful for managing weight?

Yours in joy and health!


Summer Tomatoes, "The More the Taste, the More the Pleasure," 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back from Provence: Getting Over Jet Lag

Today, I’m grateful for two nights of solid sleep.  Still everyday about 4:00 pm—BAM…exhaustion hits, and I feel like someone has just switched off the lights.  The timing is perfect because it happens at about 10:00 pm French time.  I conclude that it’s jetlag.

We returned from Provence on a hot Monday evening, at 101 degrees in Washington, DC.   Tuesday, when the effects of jetlag struck, I exercised on the elliptical machine in the gym downstairs at our condo.  Afterwards, I was more alert and surprised at my renewed energy.

Kay doing T'ai Chi, 2011 
On Wednesday the jetlag won.  I was just too tired to do anything in the afternoon but take a nap.  After a full night’s sleep I felt energized on Thursday until jetlag struck again.  This time I was determined to make it down to the gym instead of crawling off to bed.  Once more, after15 minutes on the elliptical, my focus sharpened. I felt completely transformed and invigorated. So I rode the exercise bike and did some T’ai Chi.  Could physical activity be a cure for jet lag?  Who knows.  But working out gave me just the boost I needed.

A local beer from Marseille, 2011
Apple Strudel, Prague 2011 
On the weight management front, I weighed in on Tuesday and indeed I gained four pounds on our two-month trip to France, Krakow, and Prague.  Ouch!  Even the times we shopped at the outdoor markets and ate in, shared a meal in a restaurant, and exercised (walks, hikes, and T’ai Chi), weren't enough.  We usually ate reasonable portions at meals.  Still, I had over indulged pure and simple at about 245 extra calories a day. Too much alcohol and desserts.  I can't drink a glass of wine or beer and a tart or pastry everyday without gaining weight.   If I keep this up, I’ll gain 24 pounds in a year.  Oh my.  It’s time to take action!  In my next blog post I’ll talk about how I plan to lose what I gained by the end of Labor Day weekend and another four pounds by mid October.

Yours in joy and health,


Lunch of Fresh Water Shrimp Salad in Gigondas, 2011 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Days in Provence: The Wine Country of Gigondas

Wine Country, Gigondas

We are leaving for the Marseille airport in less than an hour.  Now the wine country of Gigondas is a fond memory. The winds of the Mistral whooshed through the plane trees in the afternoon and evening.  In the morning it was calm at first.  Then the Mistral gently rustled leaves, stopped for a breath, and blasted through trees and hillsides.

Lunch in Gigondas, 2011
Yesterday morning we hiked along a marked path that goes from the jagged Dentelles de Montmirail to Gigondas, a wine Mecca of the Côte de Rhone.  The breathtaking village is full of "caves pour degustation" (cellars wine tasting) and restaurants where we ate a lunch.

We spent our last three nights of vacation in the countryside for rest and relaxation before the trip home.  The first night we went to a jazz piano concert in an old quarry in Rognes, a quiet little village.  Tigran Hamasyan played avant-garde piano music that was stirring especially when listened to in the open air of a quarry surrounded by cliffs and with outstanding acoustics.  We celebrated my birthday with dinner at the restaurant Ma Cuisine in Rogne with a grand finale of Crepes Suzette “pour les dessert.”

We stayed two nights at Les Florets, Hotel Charme with a restaurant in a garden nestled into the hillside with their own vineyards.  Thankfully Monsieur Bernard and staff were jovial and caring.  The food was exceptional and thankfully the portion sizes modest.

Three days in the wine country could not have been more peaceful or bucolic.  This is the kind of vacation we’re already envisioning for next year.  This summer we have had a grand tour of the many places we had dreamed of visiting.  Next year will be a vacation for rest and relaxation in the countryside for a mental health break.

This has been a summer packed with eight concerts, trips from Aix to the cities of Paris, Krakow, and Prague and the countryside of Provence.  We are grateful for all of the adventures, and are now ready to go home for a rest and to get back to our routines.  All of the good food and wine has added up, and I’m a little worried about what the scale will show when we get home.  My dress jacket feels a little tight, not a good sign.  I’ll give you a full report when we get home.

Yours in joy and health!


Dentelles Montmirail, 2011 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Afternoon, Evening, and Morning Walks in the Streets of Prague

Walk to Wenceslas Square
Jake drinking Turkish Coffee

We’re coming to the end of our stay in Prague.  Yesterday we walked all day beginning with a "health walk" in the morning.  From our apartment we briskly strode to the tiny Franciscan Gardens, then up a pedestrian walkway to Wenceslas Square and the National Museum.  We took a brief break for Turkish coffee and mineral water and stopped by the apartment briefly for a change of clothes.

Old New Synagogue, Prague 2011 
After a quick lunch along the Vltava River (poor quality even for tourist food) we made tracks to the Old Jewish Quarter.  After gazing at the outside of the Maisel Synagogue, we paid 200 Czech crowns each to visit the Old-New Synagogue.  This simple early gothic style synagogue is the oldest functioning Synagogue in Europe.  Dating from 1270, it also is one of the oldest buildings in Prague.  The structure has survived fires and pogroms, and is the religious center for Prague’s Orthodox Jews.

The nearby Spanish Synagogue showcased elaborate interior decoration.  The Spanish design surpassed the many baroque style churches we visited as a true work of art.  Within its walls we learned of the many famous Jews born in the Czech Republic including the writer Franz Kafka, composer Gustav Mahler, and Sigmund Freud, founder of Psychoanalysis.

A good meal in Prague was a real find.  We capped off our last evening in Prague by eating at the King Solomon Restaurant in the Jewish Quarter, and relished superb kosher food of vegetable soup and roasted lamb served over spinach.

Jerusalem Synagogue, Prague 2011
This morning we dodged several tour groups on a walk to the Jerusalem Synagogue during our last few hours in Prague.  A sight to behold!  This hidden jewel is in a Moorish style and is awesomely decorated with Art Nouveau flourishes.  Art Nouveau may have started in France but certainly reached a height in Prague. 

Royal Gardens, Prague Castle, 2011
Who wouldn’t fall in love with Prague with all its architectural beauty?  Besides the hordes of summer tourists, my only reservation was that almost everyone smoked.  The smell of stale tobacco hung cloyingly in the air of most bars and restaurants. The lack of indoor air quality made me all the more grateful for peaceful open spaces like the Royal Garden of the Prague Castle.

Travel tips:  Use restaurant recommendations in a good travel book (wish we’d followed this advice).   There are lots of mediocre tourist restaurants that we should have avoided.  Another useful tip: There’s a small supermarket inside the Prague Airport with plenty of good fruits and vegetables and lunch food.

Weight gain in Prague?  Unfortunately yes.  Too much apple strudel (though we shared) and three days of rainy weather with little exercise!  Will I arrive home with extra pounds?  It’s going to be a squeaker now with only one more week to go! 

Yours in joy and health!


View from Prague Castle, 2011
Hotel Europa, Art Nouveau Prague, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dinner at Home in Prague

Havelská Market, 2011

It’s raining right now.  Luckily we arrived back to our apartment from food shopping last night just as it began to pour.  We shopped for the first time at Tesco, a local supermarket three blocks away for meat and staples.  Earlier in the day we walked to the Havelská open market that sells fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs.  Everything looked so fresh and the cherries were humongous.  We left with arms laden with fruits and vegetables. 

Pan Grilled Chicken
Green Salad 
Last night for dinner, Jake grilled chicken with fresh garlic and thyme and made new potatoes in the microwave while I prepared a salad.  We each had a small piece of a simple cherry cake for dessert. We enjoyed the cake, and because it wasn’t super sweet we weren’t tempted to eat another piece. As David Kessler discussed in the book The End to Overeating, the food industry has hyper-loaded our foods with sugar, fat, and salt as a way to hyper-stimulate us to overeat. 

Living Room of our Apartment
Travel tip:  We’ve rented an apartment for a week in Prague.  We prefer this to staying in hotels when we travel.  Why?  We love to prepare some of our meals at home to save money, eat less, and enjoy our favorite foods. Smaller portion sizes to the rescue! We can spread out more in an apartment than with a hotel room, and it’s usually not much more expensive.  

Our apartment is so gorgeous that we want to move in for good.  Our one bedroom apartment in the Residence Karolina is modern, light, and quiet.  It’s located close to the National Theater and the Moldau (the Vltava) River in the Old Quarter.  I highly recommend a stay at the Residence Karolina in a beautifully renovated renaissance building if you’re coming to Prague.

I just finished doing T’ai Chi and am enjoying the afterglow feeling of peace.  We’re resting indoors today because of the rain. 

Municipal Hall, Prague 2011
Tonight we go to a concert at the Smetana Hall in the elaborately decorated Art Nouveau Municipal House.  The Prague Dvorak Symphony Orchestra will play pieces by Mozart, Liszt, and Dvorak.  They will play the New World Symphony by Dvorak which is one of my favorites.

What are you doing today to find your joy?

Yours in joy and health,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Provence: Lavender Fields Forever

Lavender Festival, 2011
On Sunday, we joined the festivities in Valensole for the Fête de la Lavande (Lavender Festival) as we drove back from the mountain village Moustier Sainte Marie.  Turns out it was a Marché where everything sold was made from lavender or had a lavender theme.  Goods ranging from lavender soap to lavender jelly were on sale.  My favorite is the lavender honey that I like to eat as a dessert spread on whole grain bread.  We bought cookies flavored with lavender (sables) that tasted extraordinary.

Lavender fields near Valensole, 2011
Lavender Bouquets, 2011 
Young girl carrying lavender, 2011
Free lavender was available for the taking and the festival included displays of lavender distilling equipment along with claims that the traditional method is better.  We loved taking pictures of people in costume and the lavender fields around Valensole (about an hour north of Aix) where the aroma of lavender perfumed the air.

Now that we're in Prague, the search for a vegetable market tops today's agenda.  Vegetables are few and far between here.  We savored fresh local raspberries with yogurt this morning for breakfast that tasted like the kind my great aunt Elsie used to grow in her backyard.

What summer produce do you especially enjoy this time of year?

Yours in joy and health,


Traditional lavender distilling equipment, 2011 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Celebrating Bastille Day in the Mountains of Provence

Moustier Ste. Marie, 2011

In the mountain village of Moustier Sainte Marie the crowds arrived all day on July 13 for the Bastille Day celebration that evening in  The fireworks pierced the night sky in an explosive display much like the Fourth of July.  We could see their large arcs of dazzling sparks from our bungalow that became our mountain retreat for the week.  The village of Moustier drew us in with its dramatic cliffs which loom above and as a gateway to the Grand Canyon of France, the Gorges du Verdon and Lac St. Croix. 

Marché in Aups, 2011
Jake hiking around St. Moustier, 2011

Three hikes later, we’re getting rest and relaxation in the clear mountain air.  What luck that the wind and rain swept away the haze and heat of a couple of days ago.  Yesterday we discovered the old city gate on the les Claux trail, an easy hike through old olive groves over looking the village.  A day earlier we walked the Sentier botanique de Trégulier trail marking the local flora.  The trail led us to a panoramic view of Lac St. Croix.  We also explored a couple of nearby villages including the pretty and quiet Cotignac and Aups where we bought olives, sun dried tomatoes, and tapenade at the local Marché along with other provisions.

Kay, Marché in Aups, 2011
Now for a progress report on the weight gained in Krakow.  From the way clothes fit, I’ve lost the weight put on in Krakow.  But wait, there’s more!  Next week we visit Prague, and they have a similar cuisine as Krakow (lots of meat, dumplings, and beer).  It’s time to do some advance planning.

Portion sizes make all the difference.  As Brian Wansink discovered in his studies at Columbia University, when they feed us more, we eat more.  Portion sizes in restaurants are moderate in Provence.  The food is well prepared so we are satisfied without going overboard.  In anticipation of the trip to Prague, Jake and I have discussed ordering an appetizer and sharing a main meal as a way to prevent another bout of weight gain.

What is your advice? 

Gorges du Verdon, 2011