Thursday, October 7, 2010

Portion Right Before Each Bite!

Our culture seems obsessed with the 'bigger is better' attitude. Bigger televisions, larger SUV's, even spacious homes. It's no secret that this mentality has even translated into our food options. Supersize, Upsize, Kingsize, BIGGIE seems to tempt and satisfy. Nowadays our food portions could easily be two to three times the proper portion size and yet we justify it by cost savings. But it's our waistline and emotional self-worth that often pays the toll. Do we have any idea what a proper portion size looks (or tastes) like anymore? Are we out of touch - suffering from portion distortion? In this supersized world, we may feel cheated by practicing the proper portion size and yet portion-size is the secret to sustained weight loss over time.

Our world seems to thrive on an abundance of cheap, tasty fast food conveniences of monstrous portions while boasting good economical choices. I'm just as guilty as the guy ahead of me in the drive through line and occasionally believe I need to eat large quantities of food to feel satisfied, but then indigestion and my bloated body remind me that, although I can make room for these foods in my meal plan as a treat or indulgence, it is not wise to supersize on a regular basis.

And I wonder if I even know what a truly satisfying portion is anymore? Do I even remember the last time I ate mindfully and really slowed down to taste - and enjoy - what I was eating? Did I take note of the texture, temperature, aroma and flavor of my indulgence?

When my impulses are out of control and my portions become distorted, here are my top 10 tips for regaining control:
  1. Use smaller plates, bowls and cups at meal times - you will eat less without realizing it.
  2. Buy pre-packaged/pre-portioned single-serve snacks (or buy in bulk and divide items into single-serve baggies).
  3. Keep a kitchen scale on your counter and measuring cups within reach - and use them!
  4. Weigh and measure all of your food on the first week of every month as a reminder of proper portion sizes.
  5. Note the difference between serving size and portion size. (a portion is the amount of food/drink you choose to consume. A serving is a measured amount of food or drink. There are 2.5 servings in a 20-ounce bottle of soda).
  6. If you follow the Weight Watchers plan, use a Sharpie marker to write POINTS values on packaging so you don't have to go through the trouble to recalculate every time you use the item.
  7. Order kids meals at your favorite drive-thru. Small yet satisfying.
  8. At the restaurant - share your meal with a friend or ask the waiter to serve half of your entree on your plate and bring the other half in a to-go box.
  9. Avoid the buffet entirely to avoid temptation! (or at least until you have a good idea of practicing portion control) - or order from the menu.
  10. Choose whole foods (apple, banana, boiled egg) for satisfying staying power and proper portion size.
Accept that it is possible to feel satisfied by eating smaller portions, plan ahead, pause to enjoy each bite and try a few of these tips to take charge of your weight loss and management efforts. Soon you will feel empowered and confident with your choices. And the results will be evident on the scale.

CHALLENGE: choose two days this week to weigh, measure and track everything you eat and drink. Notice how you feel physically and emotionally.

And remember...Portion Right Before Each Bite!

Healthy Blessings,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stuck Toad

The neighbor kids came over to play in the kiddy pool today.

They found these...

One tiny toad thought he could escape little hands by climbing into a bottle.

Owen and I tried to rescue him but we couldn't cut through the bottle with scissors.

So we waited...

And the tiny toad found his way out...

...and back into little hands again.

The end.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Freezer Jam on a Budget

I have a one gallon ice cream container of fresh blueberries in my refrigerator that needs my attention. I am determined not to waste them. But one can only eat so many fresh blueberries until well...a' has to buy more toilet paper...

I've been mildly curious about learning to can things. (You know, big gardens, glass jars, preserved produce, yummy jams - jellies - salsas).

In the past I've developed an interest and rushed to the store to purchase ALL of the necessary supplies (think: scrapbooking, rubber stamping, jewelry making) only to find most of them still in the plastic sacks in a neglected corner of my office. I'm committing to financially easing into this new hobby. So I ran to the store to oogle all the canning supplies and admire the shiny jars.

Wow! I thought canning was simply to shove goodies in a glass jar, fill with spices and liquid, then stick it on a shelf for later use. Evidently I have a lot to learn.

There are TONS of jar options. Regular or wide mouth?, quilted crystal or plain glass? 4 oz, 8 oz, 12 oz, 16 oz, 32 oz, 64 oz.? Even glass or plastic. Gees!

I knew I had a box of 4 oz. and 32 oz. jars at home (from a previous brief hair-brained canning idea) so I opted to purchase the box of 12 oz. quilted crystal regular-mouth jars (because they looked pretty). On a whim, I also purchased the box of 64 oz. Mason jars because I imagined them as awesome iced tea pitchers in my refrigerator. (that has nothing to do with spending - see how this manic spending spree starts?). After I placed a packet of freezer jam pectin and plastic freezer jars with purple lids in my cart, I pressed on.

(side note: I laughed out loud when I read the official canning website for Ball Company. Visit for recipes, tips, etc. That is my new favorite oxy-moron!)

When I arrived home I turned on the SIRIUS radio to the 80's Hair Bands station (really?) and rocked out while I taught myself how to make freezer jam.

The first year we were married, I tried to be a dutiful wife and make strawberry freezer jam - but didn't know to add pectin as the magic ingredient. So we had really good ice cream topping...I haven't tried it again until now, 15 years later.

The directions read 4 cups of "crushed" fruit. That sounded harsh. Hmmm. What to do? So I dug out my blender (that is 15 years old; a wedding gift), cleaned it up, and dumped six cups of rinsed berries into the thing. Then I had another decision to make - beat? blend? puree? chop? crumb? mix? There wasn't a selection for "crush" so I opted for "blend" which sounded like the gentlest speed. As I was blenderizing the berries it occurred to me that I probably could have used the potato masher to accomplish the same thing without a major clean up. Live and learn...

I mixed the crushed berries with pectin and sugar and ladeled them into the freezer containers. (it would be nice if ladel makers would consider left-handed ladelers. Us south paws either have to get used to dumping contents onto ourselves or stand on our heads to ladel).

I stood back, admired my accomplishment and slathered some onto a bagel thin. Not bad for the first time. I deemed it suitable for gift giving and placed it in the refrigerator.

Then Ben came home and asked me why it's in the refrigerator if it's called freezer jam? Oy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Bermuda Triangle of Weight Loss

We are quickly approaching the temptations and distractions of the holiday season.  Seekers of healthy eating habits run the risk of slowed motivation and lost effort while traveling through the Bermuda Triangle of Weight Loss (Halloween - Thanksgiving - Christmas/New Year). 

This can be one of the most challenging times of year for weight watchers.  Routines can be shaken up and can easily sabotage our pursuit of wellness.  Creating a simple Flight Plan can help navigate you safely through the joys and challenges of the holiday:

Having a clear destination (setting realistic goals)
Take a moment to set a realistic weight-related or behavior-related goal for the season. Whether you commit to a regular exercise routine to combat holiday stress or aim for a number on the scale, goals are an essential strategy for success. Be sure to record your goal in a highly-visible area as a friendly reminder to keep you on track.

Monitoring your in-flight status (tracking food and beverages)
If you bite it, write it! If you drink it, ink it!  Tracking and journaling provides a valuable (even magical?) habit that adds honesty, commitment and historical value to your health plan.  Have you ever recorded your feelings along with your food intake? Do you see a correlation between your food choices and your mood?  This is especially helpful if you are an emotional eater.

Check in with the flight tower regularly (staying connected with your weight loss program)
Support is essential in weight loss and maintenance and staying connected with your weight loss program (attending meetings, participating in online chats and message boards, leaning on friends and family for support), can help you maintain control of your eating habits and motivated right through the holidays.

Whenever you are struggling and tempted to give up throughout the holidays, take a minute to revisit your Flight Plan.  There is no immediate danger and no need to overreact.  The object during the holiday season is to keep your weight loss efforts flying!  Without one, who knows where we will end up on your weight loss journey.

Don't take a holiday from your weight loss efforts this season.  Make room in your calendar now to take time for yourself by planning ahead and staying connected right through the new year!

Healthy Blessings,

P.S. If you are considering a weight loss program, please join me! I lead Weight Watchers meetings in Fremont on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at the First Reformed Church on Hillcrest.  New members are always welcome. Attend your first meeting for free!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yeah, that's why I love him!

Saturday night we ate at "the Peanut Place" (Logan's Roadhouse) in Muskegon. Soon a gentleman dressed as a farmer was seated across from us. He was acting anxious and kept jumping up to find his wife. Sure enough, soon she joined him. She was dressed sort-of as a clown. We concluded they had just come from a Halloween party.

Then they began blowing up balloons and sculpting them into flowers and swords. The boys watched curiously and soon were holding black swords in their hands. We chatted with them briefly and they told us they were new to ballooning and had just spent four hours as balloon twisters at a party for mentally-challenged kids. They were beaming!

When I returned from the bathroom Ben and the boys had made their way over to the balloon-twisters table and Ben was patting the gentleman on the back and grinning from ear-to-ear. We finished our conversation and said our goodbyes to our new-found friends. When we got in the car, Ben said "Well, I did something tonight I never thought I would do." Bracing for the worst, I asked him what?

"I bought those nice folks dinner." He paused and continued "After I heard that they had spent four-hours making balloons for mentally handicapped kids, something touched me and I wanted to do something nice for them." By now I was too choked up to ask anymore questions. Suddenly it didn't matter that we were carefully counting our pennies. He was proud of himself, and I was proud of him. Yeah, that's why I love him!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Little Boys and Urologists with Hiking Boots

During a routine check-up in May, Owen's doctor discovered that he suffers from "meatal stenosis" (interpretation: his pee hole is too small). She reassured us that this is a common condition in 3-and-4-year old boys and she diagnoses it at least once a week. So she referred us to a pediatric urologist in Grand Rapids.

Monday afternoon, Owen and I visited Dr. Steinhardt, a curt, middle-aged man who wears hiking boots with his shirt and tie.  We waited in his waiting room for over 40-minutes, and visited with him in his exam room for exactly 12 minutes. I was under the impression he would examine Owen and complete a simple, uncomplicated procedure to fix the problem.

Dr. Hiking Boots is a man of few words and has a well-organized drawer of information.  He spoke entirely too fast, used words I didn't understand and left no time for questions.  Does Owen experience daytime wetting? No. Nighttime wetting? No. Urinary Infections? No. Does it take him longer than 25 seconds to pee? I don't know...I haven't timed him!  Is the circumference of his flow more like a base string on a guitar or the high string? Huh?  He demonstrated with an expandable pocket pointer. I smiled but didn't get it.

Next he examined Owen, and invited me to watch. I sheepishly stepped to the table and smiled at Owen, who was being such a good patient, and far to young to be embarrassed.

The doc promptly finished his exam, washed his hands, opened his drawer of knowledge and thrust an information sheet about Owen's condition in my hands.  (Apparently he sensed I wasn't following completely and thought if I saw the big medical terms on paper I would suddenly understand).  He concluded that, although the hole is smaller than normal, the procedure wasn't "medically necessary". Owen doesn't display any symptoms of discomfort or danger.  He assured me that now that Owen is out of diapers, the hole will remain this size. Now how about his bowels and constipation? (I really should be a more observant mother). Doc produced another useful handout that described constipation in youth.

I was afraid to ask whether this would affect Owen in the long-term - you know - reproductively.  There is probably a handout for that too.

So, in sum, Owen's pediatrician recommended an unnecessary procedure that only becomes necessary if your four-year-old takes longer than 25 seconds to pee, should be peeing every 2.5 hours, the circumference of the flow should be more like that of a base guitar string and he should not suffer from constipation.  Parents with little boys take note.

I'm thankful Owen didn't need to undergo the procedure. (We could always visit again if he develops "problems").  I'm also thankful Owen can't read this blog, as I'm sure he will be utterly embarrassed when he reads it at upon graduation. Just kidding.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vacation Ends - Back to Reality...Home Sweet Home

After six days on the road and over 2,400 miles in the van it's back to reality for the Wolfsen family.

We traveled through eight states in all: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.

We had the best night's sleep yet last night at a Country Inns & Suites hotel in Marion, Illinois.  We slept in, ate a nice continental breakfast at the hotel and began our trek home around 11 a.m.  The nine-hour trip was uneventful. The boys were great!  I downloaded an audiobook onto my iPod before we left this morning and Ben and I listened to it.  It was One For the Money by Janet Evanovich.  It was a cleverly written mystery, and Ben even liked it!

Simon and Dawn reached Fremont late this afternoon. Deb, Dave, John and Sarah followed a few hours later. We pulled in the driveway around 8 p.m.  Amy, E and Leo decided to stay another night on the road and visit the Museum of Science and Industry and the Aquarium in Chicago before they return home Wednesday.

I forgot to mention a very HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY to my favorite middle nephew, Ethan, yesterday. Happy Birthday Buddy!  Sorry we weren't home to celebrate with you.

My favorite oldest nephew, Noah, age 9, is away at Camp Henry this week.  We sent a postcard to him from Memphis Zoo. I hope it reaches him before his session ends on Saturday!

We may spend the afternoon at Silver Lake with Simon and Dawn tomorrow. Our plans are still undetermined.  Sometime I need to prepare my lesson for Weight Watchers on Thursday.  Oh yeah, I suppose I'd better get groceries so my family doesn't starve!

Back to the grind...laundry, workouts, housework, eh.