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Sunday, February 24, 2013

How To Plan: Helpful Planning Tips

I thought I'd take the time to share with you today on the topic of planning.  How to develop a detailed plan, how to research the plan  how to plan your steps and how to execute the plan   Yes, today, you will be the great beneficiaries of a lifetime collection of tips and tricks to successful planning  

I shall call this "How to Plan instead of WINGING it, by Carly"

Ready ?  Here are my proven nuggets of planning wisdom, as lived by Carly, in no particular order:

Any questions?


"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Adore The Core

Okay, so the title today is hokey.  That's how I roll.

Everyone hears the buzz about "core training" and "core strength" and "you gotta work your core." Back in 6th grade during the early years of the President's fitness challenges, we called that "doing sit ups." I was the female sit-up champion for our elementary school in 1976 for what that's worth.

Anyway, when I used to think of "core training" I would automatically visualize "flat abs that I will never have." I would think of "bikinis that I will never wear" and didn't really see the point in worrying about my "core." And then I got schooled.

Core strength includes the abs, but not just the abs. Building up the core includes strengthening the glutes, the abs, the obliques (side muscles) and, even deeper, the muscles that support the spine. A strong core helps you sit, stand, walk, lift, fact, it helps all your motion every day. Furthermore, it creates a solid foundation for other forms of exercise to use your muscles more efficiently and in better form.

Further-furthermore, as we age a strong core can help with mobility and independence. I like the idea of being mobile and healthy when I am a Golden Girl. (Blanche or Dorothy, I haven't decided.) The time for me to strengthen my core is not when I am 70 years old. It is much more realistic and favorable to strengthen my core now, and work to maintain that into my golden years (you know, many decades from now.)

I have slacked off on doing any core exercises because of a torn rotator cuff (more specifically a torn supra-spinatus) which means I can't put weight on that shoulder. This makes doing core work difficult. But today I am going to research ways around that.

In the meantime, here are just a few good core exercises I was doing regularly (most taught to me by my personal trainer two years ago). We even did these at my last job as part of our hourly exercise break. They don't take long, but they do make a difference in agility, mobility, overall strength and ability to perform many other exercises and activities  I highly recommend you spend a little time every day or every other day working your core. You'll be happy you did.

Plank Exercise

V-Sit Ups

Back Bridge

"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Friday, February 22, 2013

By George, I'm In Love!

I am in love....with..... George Foreman Jumbo Size Grill!

I used to own the old-school grill but it was a pain.  The grill plates didn't detach so you had to clean them while attached to the machine.  It was awkward, cumbersome, and depending on how bad your grilling technique, next to impossible to get clean.

Not long ago I saw this model on sale for $29.99.  It doesn't have the bells and whistles of adjustable temperature control and it is small (fits two large chicken breasts at one time, or 4 kebabs) but it's just the right size for me.

I went from being a grilling nightmare, to being a grilling dream overnight!  My new favorite is to buy flash frozen chicken breasts, take two out in the morning, throw them into a ziplog baggie with a marinade (Lighthouse Orange Citrus is my current addiction) and let them marinade and unthaw in the refrigerator during the day.

At night, I just plug in the machine for 8 minutes (they recommend this warm up time), toss the chicken on, close the lid, and a few minutes later (7-8) ... voila! Perfect chicken.  There is no turning them over because both sides cook simultaneously.

Clean up is a breeze, too.  The plates detach and can be washed. Yay!

A few of tips I have discovered:

  • If you spray a touch of Pam spray, clean up is easier.
  • If you get off the excess marinade, less stuff will stick to the cooking plates.
  • If you do have baked on crud, wet some paper towels, put them on the plates, close the lid and let the water steam off the set-in mess.
  • Dawn Power Dissolver  is a dream.  Spray a little on, wait a few minutes, wipe off anything burned or baked on. 
  • There is no timer, so set one yourself.  Overcooking happens quickly when the food is cooking on both sides at once.
  • Don't try to cook from frozen.  The outside overcooks while the inside undercooks.  Always unthaw your meat first.
  • If you try cooking meat and grilling veggies at the same time, you may need to remove the meat first while the veggies finish.
  • This works GREAT for panini.  Of course, I'm not eating the bread/carbs right now, but my son is and it's perfect for that.
  • Most of the fat drips out and down the slope.  Much better than grilling in a pan where the food hangs out in its own fat. :-)
This has been the best investment for my healthy eating plan.  It makes home cooking easy, fun, hassle-free, easy clean up, and FAST cooking.  I use it several times per week.  I use it for turkey burgers, veggie burgers, pork chops, steaks, chicken, salmon....anything you want to grill that is fairly flat (so all of it can be evenly touching the cooking plate.)

I don't get any kind of endorsement (I wish I did!)  I just really think this is a worthy investment in your healthy eating regime.  I may come back on another day and add some interesting recipes and marinade ideas.

Bon Appetit!

"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Beautiful Ones

How many times have I looked at people from a distance and thought (and judged) them to be one of the "pretty ones," the "lucky ones," the "beautiful people."

I have sometimes been a little angry or even jealous.  Why were these people just given the keys to the kingdom since birth?  You know...the "beautiful" people - they get doors opened for them (literally and figuratively.)  They are given more opportunities.  They are more easily believed and people are more likely to strike up conversations with a pleasant face and confident demeanor.

In fact, I spent a good bit of my life, since high school, thinking that there was a kind of "chosen" group of the beautiful people who had it all (the money, the good marriage, the great jobs and opportunities, the good house, everything coming pretty easily to them) while the rest of us struggle and fight for everything we have.

My outlook has matured (or is maturing) and I am gaining a deeper, more balanced world view these days.

In the most recent years, in part because I have worked to lose weight and become more fit, and in part because I have embraced who I am and am a lot less apologetic for being me, I have had a few people refer to me as "beautiful."  Some referred to the insides, some referred to the outsides, and in any case, my first instinct was to reject the notion.  I am not one of the "chosen" ones, right?

It got me wondering about what they see. It got me wondering about how someone who is struggling right now with weight, who didn't know my story, would perceive me the first time they met me.  Would they think I had an easy (or easier) life than they did? That I wouldn't get it? That I had a great job, great home, great family, because I looked "put together" and confident?

We see things on the surface and make a whole lot of assumptions.  Or at least I do.

No one who meets me when I go out my door today will see the issues I had with my teeth, the way I didn't bother with makeup for years (and didn't really know how to apply it very well.)  They won't see the 320 pound girl with no self esteem who wore sweat pants every day because nothing else fit right and anyway, why bother?  I didn't do my nails, I didn't care about my appearance, I didn't know what foods were healthy (I really didn't); I didn't know about baby steps.  I had two wretched marriages which ended very dramatically and badly, and I suffered major clinical depression. I didn't leave my house unless I absolutely had to for months at a time. My teeth were a wreck and I chain smoked while eating to numb myself from the pain of living.

But if we meet today, I will smile brightly through the lip gloss, and radiate my new-found happiness despite all that has happened.  I will toss my hair (that is neatly combed and styled) and flash my whitened teeth. I will be carrying my Coach bag and have an energetic zip in my step.

And I will blog to tell people they can be anything they decide to be in this life....their next right choice at a time they can turn it all around. And not knowing anything about me, but stumbling onto the site, they may think, yeah, easy for you to're one of the "chosen" or the "beautiful" people.

They may not want to know all the steps it took to get to this place, how much hard work, self examination, shedding of beliefs, and false starts.  Instead they may want to think success is easy for a chosen few, while they sit on the butts and do nothing to improve their situation.

I think it will be part of my mission to explain...we are ALL the beautiful people and the chosen ones.  We just need to get up and walk into it.


"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Walking The Talk

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn with one mission in mind - WALK THE TALK.

Since I started this journey, I have written a lot about fitness, exercise, getting moving, hopping on the treadmill...and I know I have motivated some of you because you have written me (thank you!) and told me. That is awesome! Meanwhile, despite my very diligent "clean" eating and my 100% commitment, I have been a slacker about getting off my butt the past couple of weeks and exercising. Twice a week for a half an hour isn't going to get me where I want to be. I don't even reap the cardiovascular benefits if I don't do it at least 3 times per week, according to every official medical recommendation I have ever seen.

Besides, I am a much happier, much more capable person when I am working out. There is something powerful that is triggered when I work out (particularly, for me, in the morning) that creates a sense of wellness, competency, calmness and pure joy in me. Medical researchers know all about the endorphins that are released - but for today, I just want to identify that working out FEELS good. It makes me FEEL capable of handling what comes at me during the day. It makes me FEEL more balanced and less out of control.

This morning I did a Kenpo workout (modified because of a torn supraspinatus muscle in my shoulder.) It is a lot of kicking and moving and it's one of my favorite workouts of all time. AND IT FEELS GOOD!

I can tell myself to work out because it is healthy.

I can tell myself to work out because it will get my heart working better.

I can tell myself to work out because I will lose more weight, faster.

I can tell myself to work out because it sets a good example for my son.

I can tell myself to work out because ...... whatever.

"Telling" myself to exercise means that the only exercise I am actually doing are my "diddly squats."

 I need to remember how good it feels, regardless of any of the things above, and do it because I like to do it. And I really, truly do! The afterglow lasts all day and it does something to my innards that only exercising can do.

Thinking about, analyzing, preparing for, talking about and blogging about exercise is all well and good, but has absolutely no effect. Walk the walk, don't just talk the talk. Why? Because it feels good. Pep talk to self to hit the shower and glow all day! Yay!

"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Got Calcium?

Many people do not get enough calcium each day.  
Are you one of them? 
And why does it matter?

Who Is Not Getting Enough Calcium?

The following groups are not getting enough calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health:
  • Boys aged 9 to 13 years
  • Girls aged 9 to 18 years
  • Women older than 50 years
  • Men older than 70 years

Two categories of women face particular challenges:
  • Post-menopausal women suffer rapid bone loss and do not absorb calcium as well as younger women
  • Women who eat too little or exercise too much do not absorb calcium as well and to make matters worse, lose much of the calcium they do get in their urine.   

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

Children 1 to 3 years Children 4 to 8 years Youth 9 to 18 years Adult 19 to 50 years Adult 51+ years
500 mg 800 mg 1300 mg 1000 mg 1200 mg

Why Is Calcium Important?

Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth, for cardiovascular health, to help our muscles move, and for our nerves to carry messages from our brains to every single body part. Insufficient calcium does not produce obvious symptoms right away because the body will take the calcium it needs from the bone to maintain proper levels.

Over time, intakes of calcium below recommended levels do have health consequences, such as increasing the risks of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Symptoms of serious calcium deficiency can include numbness and tingling in the fingers, convulsions, and abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to death if not corrected.

How Do I Get More Calcium?

There are many food sources with high calcium content, but they are not all diet-friendly. Quiche, eggnog and ice cream are loaded with calcium, but they are also high in fat and calories and won't help with weight loss.  Fortunately, there are many lower calorie alternatives.

Low fat or nonfat dairy such as milk or yogurt are good sources. Salmon and almonds are also calcium rich and have many other health benefits.

Additional sources include:

Soy beans
White beans
Some fish, like sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout
Foods that are calcium fortified, such as some orange juice, oatmeal, and breakfast cereal

I just found a kale smoothie recipe that looks very good. If I try it an like it I'll let you know. I have a real hard time choking down kale, regardless of its amazing health benefits.

There are also calcium supplements in most health food stores, pharmacies and grocery stores and antacids such as Tums are calcium-rich.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Click Here:  Google Is Our Friend. :-)

"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Serrano, E. (May 1, 2009). Calcium: Build Strong Bones. In 348-019. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Author Unknown. (August 1, 2012). Calcium Quick Facts. In Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet:Calcium. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Whack-A-Mole Game

Finding balance for healthy eating is a constant whack-a-mole game.

  • We need to eat carbs, but not too much, and not the wrong kind. 
  • We need to have the right amount of protein.
  • We need to drink water every day.  Not too much, not too little.
  • Fiber.  Oh, how we need fiber. Soluble, insoluble.  Which is which? Which did I just eat?
  • Fat fat fat.  Good fat.  Not trans fat.  Not saturated fat.  Not hydrogenated stuff.  Olive oil, coconut oil, flax - we need those omegas and essential oils.  But just a dab'll do ya. Polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated. Plain ole unsaturated. But fat is a lot of calories, so to make a daily calorie limit, something else is going to have to go.  We can't skip those essential oils.
  • We need to have our "percent daily values" of calcium every day.
  • It's all a juggling act getting enough of what we need without going over.

Tracking on My Fitness Pal has been so helpful in this regard.  For starters, I added calcium to the list of nutrients that it tracks, because it really is so critical for me. I had the baby factory removed in 2001, so I'm technically post-menopausal and in dire need of calcium.

As you can see below, this week I had some days that fell pretty short in the calcium department:

Add in calcium on some of those days and I might go even further over in protein.  It's a juggling act, for sure.

I have done some research on ways to increase my calcium and will share that in another blog post.  There are many other options besides milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products.  Of course they are loaded with calcium and I do like them.  But sometimes they don't fit my plan.

The more practice we get with planning variety, and the more educated we become about what ingredients and nutrients are in our food, the better control we have over the balance.  And once we get the food running on auto pilot, have no fear, something else, like exercise, will pop up in need of our attention in this great whack-a-mole game of life.


"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Keep Moving

“Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” ~Will Rogers

So you've researched all the best exercises to work those thighs, tighten those abs, get rid of the flabby batwings under your arms and get those buns of steel. You either bought a treadmill, or joined a gym, or printed out copies of exercises to do at home, or maybe you bought P90X or Turbo Fire or some other DVD program. Awesome.

You've gotten rid of all the junk food in the house - it's now a candy-donut-Twinkie-ice cream-free zone. And you've added in tons of new healthier choices like whole grains, fresh fruits, veggies-a-plenty and lean meats and dairy. Way cool.

You've created an account on My Fitness Pal or Weight Watchers online or got yourself a fancy new journal and are tracking every single bite of food that goes into your mouth. Every bite accounted for and logged. You, my friend, rock.

You bought workout clothes and a shiny new water bottle - prepared to sweat and re-hydrate as needed. All is well in your healthy, new world. You start the process, and you start seeing results. Before you know it, you are feeling so good, you are victorious!

If you are like me, you may have played out this drama a time or three in your life and had success. Maybe you reached your weight loss goals or lost significant weight and were feeling so much better. And then, without realizing it, worked your way back up the scale to where you were before, or higher. That has been the story of my teens, the story of my twenties, the story of my thirties and hopefully it won't be the story of my forties.

To me, you have to keep moving. You can't rest on your prior knowledge, on your past accomplishments, heck, you just can't REST period. This is a lifelong process where in order to win the war you need to win the daily battles of motivation, focus and discipline.

You can be on the right track, get just so far in the process, and then get completely derailed or run over by the old patterns, habits and lifestyle.

My pep talk today is for me and it is twofold. I think, for me, it will be the key to staying on track and moving forward, and hopefully the key to my success:

  1. Write down my health goal every day in the form of an affirmation "I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life." (I may sign off every blog post with this, come to think of it!)
  2. Keep moving. Every day. Find a way to incorporate physical activity every day. Tennis, biking, swimming, walking, jogging, treadmill, hiking, caving, obstacle courses, in-home DVD, yoga, spin class, Zumba, heck, if all else fails...jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, planking, lunges and squats in the house while watching Big Bang Theory....get my drift?

Stay on track, my friends. Your life is like a Choo Choo Train, and you get to determine the size of your caboose.

"I am fit, active, healthy, and enjoying life."

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