7 Ways to a Better, Happier You. Yes. Really.

laughter, joy, laughing, joke, comedy

Courtesy of Microsoft Clipart

I’m having one of those days. You know the kind of day when, despite the fact the sun is shining and the temps are warm you’re still in the dumps.

Day started out fine, with a trip to my dietician and her giving me a big thumbs-up on my progress this past month on my exercise/food plan regimen. But  kinda went downhill from there.

Sooooo,  I’m glancing around my desk and I spy this little booklet I must have picked up while standing in line at the grocery store. You know how they have those stands filled with spearmint gum and breath mints, candy bars and celebrity mags along with those glossy covered books of crockpot recipes? They also sometimes have these glossy-covered mini-editions of the For Dummies book. This one was titled 50 Ways to a Better You for Dummies. I still have no idea why I picked it up.

I feel like a real dummy today. And I definitely want to be a better me. So I glanced through the book and thought I’d share seven of the suggestions I found at random. Maybe you’re having a bummed out day too.

1. Talk to Someone – Talk to a happy person and see if you can find out what his/her secret is to happiness. Hmmm, well, when I find someone happy I will talk to them.

2. Think Positive Thoughts. Okay, let me try this. It is a lovely day outside. The sun is shining. I’ve lost seven pounds and, over all, I’ve lost close to thirty the past two years. Okay, feeling a little bit better. I can solve my problems. I can do better. I will do better. I may have to think more positive thoughts about thinking more positively.

3. Identify Who or What Makes You Smile – Hmmm, the Marx Brothers. They make me smile. Babies make me smile. Especially when they’re somebody’s else’s baby. The green I saw when I went walking early this morning. Green shoots pushing up through the ground and budding on the tree. That made me smile.

4.  Pursue What You Want, Not What You Have Explore life, question life, examine life and ponder life’s possibilities. I’m definitely trying to do that. I need to open my mind to different ways of seeing and thinking. I don’t want to get stuck in a status quo business as usual rut.

5. Fight Negative Expectations – Ah, this is one I should write in bold, black letters on the wall. Pessimism is a learned response. I don’t have to think that everything’s going to turn out bad. Remember, it’s the second thought that counts. For every pessimistic thought I need to come up with an optimistic one. “How am I going to pay these frikkin’ bills?” Counter-attack. “You always do, don’t you? One way or the other.”

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Happy – Sometimes I think I am afraid. Like I’m fearful I’m going to be punished for feeling happy. That’s messed up, isn’t it?

7. Stick with the Right People – Oh, yeah, definitely need to cut loose the Debbie Downers, Two-Faced Tommy’s, Negative Nellies and Stressed-out Steves.

Oh, darn. Why didn’t I think of this first ? This always makes me HAPPY!

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5 More Low-Carb Snacks!

I was going to do my customary Monday review of Game of Thrones, but not only did I try to watch the episode at midnight when I got home from work, but something was wrong with my darn cable signal so it was terribly pixelated. (I called cable company today and they’re supposed to send someone out to fix it). It was quite annoying. Also, I was pretty tired. Yes, this is the job with the a-hole of a supervisor. But I’m still there. For the time being. Anywho, I’m going to have to watch the episode again tonight to really comprehend just what the heck was going on!

So, instead, I’m going to post more low-carb snacks. Why? Because today I was able to get into a shirt that I’d bought some time ago and planned to return (and forgot to do so) because I couldn’t wear it. Now I can!

So, here we go. 5 Low Carb Snacks!

Tuna Salad on Tomato

I like tuna and having it on a tomato instead a piece of bread sounds good to me. Can also add pickles or cucumbers.

Avocado with Sunflower Seeds

Never had this particular combo, but I’m game!

Five Minute Sweet Spiced Pecans

I’ve yet to try these but sounds delish! You can link to the recipe above.

Meat Jerky

I  keep seeing this mentioned as a low-carb snack. I’ll have to explore it more.

Drained and rinsed garbanzo beans tossed with bacon bits

I like beans and bacon bits so will give this a try.

 

5 More Quick & Easy Low Carb Snacks

I posted 5 low-carb snacks yesterday. Figure I might as well go for 10. 🙂

Greek Yogurt – I love yogurt, but the yogurt I had been eating had a few too many carbs. Greek yogurt has 6 grams. Regular yogurt can have twice as many carbs and greek yogurt has more protein. It’s also a bit more creamier I’ve noticed.

Walnuts – Walnuts have fewer carbs than other nuts. I cup of walnuts has 11 grams of carbs. A cup of almonds has 20 grams and a cup of peanuts, 24 grams. I bought almonds yesterday, but fortunately it was a small can. I’ll get walnuts instead.

String Cheese – I’ve never eaten string cheese before. I’ve seen it in the store, and I love cheese, so I’ll give it a try.

Kale Chips – Okay this is a another new one which I plan to try. You need two large handfuls of chopped and washed kale, toss them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. One cup of kale contains 35 calories and 7 grams of carbs. I’ll let you know how they taste. 🙂

Pear and Cheese – A light cheese stick and a small pear. Can stick that in a lunch bag for an on the go snack. Can’t get any easier than that.

Happy Easter! It’s lovely here today, with sunshine and warm temps. Couldn’t ask for a prettier Easter Sunday especially after the long, long, cold, COLD, winter we’ve had.

5 Quick & Easy Low Carb Snacks

Doc made an appointment for me last month to see a nutritionist, who then put me on a low-carb food plan. Can’t have no more than 30 carbs at breakfast, 30-45 carbs at lunch and the same at dinner. I can also have two snacks per day, but they can only be 15 carbs each.

Yeah, I know. 15 carbs isn’t a lot. For example, the average bagel (a snack I used to eat quite a lot ) has 48 grams of carbs. One bagel is more than I can currently have for both snacks.

So I went on the hunt for low-carb snacks.

Here are five that I found:

Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups

Cut one part-skim mozzarella cheese stick in half lengthwise. Roll about 1 ounce of sliced roasted turkey breast around half of a part skim mozzarella cheese stick and repeat with the remaining cheese and turkey to make a total of two roll-ups.

Each serving contains: 3.5 grams carbohydrate, 0.3 gram fiber, 144 calories, 17 grams protein, 6.6 grams fat, 3.8 grams saturated fat.

Side Salad Topped with a Hard-Boiled Egg or Avocado

Top a typical side salad with a hard-boiled egg or 1/4 chopped avocado, drizzle with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar or 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette.

Each serving (with egg) contains: 3 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 146 calories, 11 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat

Each serving (with avocado) contains: 6 grams carbohydrate, 4.4 grams fiber, 120 calories, 4 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat

Peanut Butter & Celery Sticks

Serve 3 celery stalks with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter.

Each serving contains: 8.5 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 208 calories, 7 grams protein, 16 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat

A Handful of Nuts

A handful, depending on the size of the hand, can be the ideal snack portion: a quarter cup. You can keep roasted, unsalted mixed nuts on hand or choose any variation of nuts.

Each serving (1/4 cup roasted almonds) contains: 6.7 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 205 calories, 9.5 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 1.4 grams saturated fat

Carrot Sticks and Hummus

Cut one large carrot into sticks or coins and serve with 1/4-cup hummus.

Each serving contains: 15.8 grams carbohydrate, 5.8 grams fiber, 133 calories, 6 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 0.9 grams saturated fat

I forgot to add that I’ve also lowered my cholesterol significantly and my blood pressure has also gone down since starting this food and walking plan. And I feel better too!

If you’re thinking about eating healthier and exercising  more, I highly recommend it. As I stated in a previous post, I still have a loooong way to go weight-wise, but if I can do it (lazy as I am most times) anyone can! Don’t be like me and have to be scared straight into eating better and exercising more by the threat of a diabetes diagnosis. Do it.

Three Things I’d Like to Share Today

Still wondering if I even still have a job. Guess I’ll find out when the big boss comes back on Friday.

Oh, well, life must go on.

So, here are three things I’d like to share today.

First. I finally saw the movie The Great Gatsby. I resisted seeing this movie when it came out because The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels and I’m always a little suspicious when a book I really love is made into a movie. Plus it was directed by Baz Luhrmann. Now, I’ve got nothing against Mr. Luhrmann. I enjoyed Strictly Ballroom, his version of Romeo + Juliet (which also starred DiCaprio) and Moulin Rouge. But sometimes his movies are like a really big box of really rich chocolate which has been left to melt in the sun. A tasty, delicious but sometimes gooey mess.

The Great Gatsby

But I enjoyed The Great Gatsby. I thought Luhrmann did a fantastic job of capturing the giddy, chaotic, insane tenor of the roaring Twenties, and I think DiCaprio brought  just the right touch of charm, vulnerability and underlying tension and danger to the role of Gatsby. The other actors, which included Tobey Maguire as the narrator Nick Carraway and friend to Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, the object of Gatsby’s infatuation, and Joel Edgerton as her bullish husband, Tom, were excellent also. The movie is gorgeous and I was drawn along with it from beginning to end. I’m sorry I missed it at the theater, but at least I still got a chance to see it. I’m giving it four popcorn boxes.

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings

 

 

 

Secondly, I want to share a book on writing fiction that I think is one of the most interesting I’ve read in a long time. It’s called Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron. I’ve read this book twice already and took copious notes. Here’s some quotes from her website about the book.

  • How – and why – story and the brain developed in tandem.

  • Why we use story, and not facts, to make sense of the world.

  • What it is that gives story it’s unparalleled power.

  • What the brain craves in every story it hears.

  • How to create stories that hook readers from the very first sentence.

  • How to create stories capable of moving people to action.

I highly recommend as it’s not only a treatise on why we as a species are so drawn to stories, but also on how you as an author can tell compelling stories.

Thirdly, and last but not least, I had a visit with my doc today and she told me that since I’ve started my low-carb nutrition plan and went back to walking (40 minutes a day, five days a week), in a month I’ve lost seven pounds! I’ve still got a LONG way to go, but it’s start.

Now, I’m doing low-carb because my blood glucose was starting to inch up and I needed to cut back on the carbs. Not everyone would probably like doing low-carb, but I’m not not eating certain foods. If I do eat something that’s a bit high in carbs, I just cut back on it. One slice of bread instead of two. Soy milk instead of regular milk. And light, non-flavored soy milk at that. I love mashed potatoes, but I only eat about a 1/2 cup or less of it.

Counting carbs is a lot easier than I thought it would be and I’ve found that I don’t even miss all those high-carb foods so much. I feel better physically and I’m definitely going to stick with the program.

Now, if only I could finally say goodbye to crap job, which I hope to be doing soon, I’ll definitely be on the right track. 🙂

Portions! – Can You Guesstimate Them?

Portions. How much, for example, is a cup of pasta? Or a cup of green salad? Or a cup of ice cream?

Well, if you’re at home you can easily measure out a cup. But what if you’re not at home? What if you’re out for dinner or at a picnic? How do you determine what a portion is?

Never fear. Over at Calorie Counts, you can get some guesstimates for portions for some foods.

Let’s take one from each of the groups listed.

The Grain Group

1 cup of pasta/spaghetti (2 ounces) —- a fist 

 

 

 

The Vegetable Group

1 medium baked potato (1 cup) —- computer mouse or a fist

 

 

The Fruit Group
1/2 cup of grapes (15 grapes) —- light bulb

 

 

 

The Milk Group

1 cup of ice cream — baseball

 

 

 

The Meat and Beans Group

3 ounces cooked meat, fish, poultry —- your palm, a deck of cards or a cassette tape (remember those!)

 

 

Snack Foods

1 ounce of pretzels —- two handfuls

 

 

 

The website has more examples and I’m sure you can find other examples on the web. It does put it in perspective, doesn’t it, just how much a portion is.

Why am I so interested in portions? Well, I had a nice little chat with a dietitian last week and she pretty much read me the riot act. Eat better, move more or else.

So I’m paying more attention to portions. The food regimen she put me on doesn’t necessarily prohibit foods, although, of course, I must avoid high fat, bad fat, high carbs, bad carbs, etc, etc, etc, but watching portions is a key factor.

You can read more here about how the much larger portions you find at your local restaurant or fast food joint are a contributing factor to the obesity problem in this country.

For example, twenty years ago a bagel  was 3 inches. Now it’s twice that size. 6 inches. A cheeseburger was 4.5 oz. Now, it’s 8 oz. The website also advises keeping most food portions, if you really have no idea how much to eat of something, no larger than the size of your fist.

Belly Laugh Day

laughter, joy, laughing, joke, comedy

Courtesy of Microsoft Clipart

Today is January 24th, which means it’s Belly Laugh Day  Unfortunately, I’m late celebrating it because at 1:24 p.m. my local time I was supposed to smile, throw my arms in the air and laugh. At that time I was running some errands and I can’t say I was smiling, much less laughing.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t find a reason to laugh 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to some researchers, laughter might just be the best medicine around . According to their research, laughing and exercising cause some of the same changes in our body; that a good laugh is similar to a mild workout, and we know that exercising releases endorphin, that feel-good hormone that makes us feel especially fine and good.

Laughter can affect our blood flow, blood sugar, immune response and help us relax and sleep better.

So tell a joke, read a humorous story, watch a comedy or a funny video, or just find some good friends with whom to share a laugh. You’ll not only feel better afterwards, you might also be improving your health in the process.