Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I resolve to do the following...

Not to brag or anything, but today is my last day in the office until 2010. Woot! If Mother Nature cooperates, I'll be landing in Chicago around 11 p.m. tonight. Don't fret, though. I'll be back in early January armed with insight on how to shed those holiday pounds. Speaking of, I've already started to compile a few realistic New Year's resolutions. After all, this is the best time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make in life and I'm determined to follow through on some of them. So here are a few of my goals, some of which are subject to change by Jan. 1.

1) It's all about exercise. Now that I'm in my early 30s, it's more important than ever to adopt healthy habits and physical fitness is a big part of that. Studies show that regular exercise helps reduce the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure and helps with weight loss and maintenance. Although I'm no stranger to the gym, I'm determined to shed a couple more pounds and start training for triathlons.
2) Get out of debt. I don't know about the rest of you, but money has been a major source of stress in my life the past year. Between the struggling economy and a packed travel schedule due to weddings and family reunions, 2009 was a bit of a wash. Thanks to my accountant-boyfriend, I've already started working out a budget for next year and WILL stick to it in order to get a handle on my finances.
3) Find new hobbies and talents. I never thought I would say this, but I miss those college days where you learned something new every day. My plan in the new year is to tackle a new skill - whether it be learning a foreign language or ballroom dancing or jewelry making. Or maybe I'll take an art class or Web design course. The possibilities are endless!
4) Don't be such a worrywart. Yes, I often stress over silly, insignificant things. As a result, I get grouchy more often than I should. All in all, life is good so I need to stop sweating the petty things and problems I can't control. Perhaps more frequent yoga classes or massages could help to accomplish this, hmmm?
5) Organization is key. If I have to dig through my closet one more time to find my favorite belt or pair of shoes or blouse, I just might have to scream. From home organization to reducing the clutter on my desk, I need to make some changes.

And there ya have it, folks. Keep in mind, this isn't just lip service. New Years resolutions have definitely helped me make some life improvements in the past including weight loss, upping my volunteer efforts and quitting smoking. So it can be done. What are some of your resolutions this year?

On a different note, here are two sucralose sweetened recipes for anyone in search of a low-calorie holiday treat.

Gingerbread Cake
Elegant Eggnog

Finally, here are clips from two of my favorite holiday films. Happy holidays and see you next year!



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dieting within reason...


As most of you know, I consistently preach the value of a low-calorie lifestyle. That being said, when a friend recently informed me that he had joined a weight loss plan that curbed his eating to between 600 and 800 calories per day, I got extremely worried. For starters, he only had to shed about 30 or so pounds - which in my opinion, was not a significant enough weight loss to require this type of drastic change. Second, he was following the diet plan without help from anyone in the medical community. Folks, do NOT try this at home! These types of weight loss methods should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. Fortunately, my friend ditched the diet after a few weeks in starvation mode and has since embraced a more reasonable and healthy weight loss plan. But not everyone has been so lucky. Take Samantha Clowe, a 34-year-old British woman who died this fall from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Clowe had been following a diet plan called LighterLife and was consuming a mere 530 calories a day. An inquest determined that Clowe most likely died from cardiac arrhythmia and raised the possibility that her death "may be related to her low calorie diet and weight loss."
So what's the deal with these very low calorie diets? After all, they can be effective and have been used to help obese and severely obese patients lose weight for more than two decades. They use a process called ketosis to prompt the body to burn stored fat for energy while being fed anywhere from 500 to 800 calories a day. Patients may eat or drink only manufactured food, shakes, and snack bars especially created for and sold through specific programs. The products are designed to supply the patient with adequate nutrition without offering excess calories.
However, diets of less than 800 calories can lead to numerous complications including heart arrhythmias, which could lead to death. Because of this risk, experts say the low-calorie program must include the involvement of a medical professional and incorporate lifestyle changes, exercise, and enough calories in order to be effective and safe for the patient. Extreme dieters are also at risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, low blood pressure and high uric acid, which could lead to gout or kidney stones. Also, losing weight quickly could lead to gallstones and thinning hair because dieters are getting the minimum amount of nutrition, which can affect hair and bone density.
So here is my suggestion. If you really want to lose weight, either seek the advice and guidance of a medical professional for a drastic change or make more reasonable choices to adjust to an overall healthy lifestyle. Eat right, maintain a food diary and regularly exercise. That's the best way to shed - and keep off - those pesky pounds!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Daze...

Anyone been watching the coverage of the Midwest blizzard on TV? Hot dang. That's a lot of snow and cold! Hailing from Chicago, I grew up dealing with brutally cold winters. My freshman year of college - at the University of Wisconsin - temperatures actually dipped to 30 below zero, meaning the wind chill factor made it feel about 60 below. That kind of weather spurred my eventual move to the South. Speaking of my alma mater, I heard they cancelled classes yesterday for the first time in 19 years. That led to a massive snowball fight on Bascom Hill involving more than 3,000 students. Good times! Back when I was in Madison, students would snag trays from the student union and go sledding down the hill in honor of the first snowfall of each year - so I'm glad to see the kids still enjoy snow days in style.

Moving on, nothing beats the winter blues (for me, anyway) than a piping hot beverage, whether that be a mug of hot cocoa, tea or coffee. For those tired of the same-old recipes, here are a few sucralose-sweetened recipe variations to help warm up those frozen fingers and toes. Have a great weekend and stay warm, wherever you are!

Winter White Hot Chocolate
Holiday Spiced Tea
Hot Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle
Spiced Apple Mulled Cider

Friday, December 04, 2009

Sweet News: Jones Zilch, sweetened with Splenda

Seeing as how I lurve me some Jones Soda, this news just made my Friday! Jones Soda is unveiling a new soda line - Jones Zilch - that features no-calorie beverages. According to the company, the healthier versions are enhanced with 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and sweetened with Splenda. They will be available in four-packs and singles in three flavors: Pomegranate, Vanilla Bean and Black Cherry. Jones Zilch has already started to hit some grocery store shelves and will continue to pop up in other locations in the coming weeks and months.

In other good news, today is National Cookie Day. And thanks to our friend sucralose, we can indulge in the sweet treat without major remorse or weight gain. Wooot! Here are a few of my favorite sugar-free cookie recipes, courtesy of Splenda.com.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookie Bites
Apple Cookies

Now, for a little Friday happy, here is a video of the forever-awesome Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Enjoy!