Saturday, April 18, 2009

How To Have a Great Day!

Have you ever heard the philosophy that you can expect three things to go wrong every day? Some days we get frustrated when things go wrong and forget about all that went right!

Take a new perspective: When things don't work out as you expect, plans go awry, or tires get flat, tell yourself "That's one--now only two more things will go wrong today".

So, this morning I was making my coffee--which I was really looking forward to--when I noticed coffee and grounds spilling all around the pot. Somehow I had rinsed the filter and forgotten to put it back in. I cleaned up the area and put on a fresh pot, thinking about how ready I was to sit and enjoy my nice, steaming cup of java. You see, it was before 7 am on a Saturday and I had been awoken early (about 5:30 am) to the sound of my cat throwing up. Unfortunately, before I could get it cleaned up, my dog ate it. So just as I was drifting back to sleep, the dog threw up.

Well, here I was, looking back on the morning that had already been off to a bad start when I realized, "There were three things that already went wrong today. This can only mean that the rest of the day will be glorious!"

There's no telling what will actually happen and there aren't really any rules of the universe saying exactly three things go wrong every day. But I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of this Saturday has in store for me, and I believe it's going to be a great one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stick To Your List: You Can Resist!

Surely you've heard the advice, "Don't go to the grocery store hungry!". It's good advice. When you are walking around all the aisles of food it's too easy to grab something you feel you want at the moment, and regret leaving the store with it (or eating it while you finish up your shopping)! Here are five more strategies to be sure you exit the store with what you know you wanted, and don't end up at home with bags full of junk foods that were calling your name and blurring your determination to eat healthier:

1. Shop with a list. The reason for this is twofold: You make a list of what you need before you leave the house so you don't forget anything, and you do not buy anything that is not on the list. Strolling through the aisles wondering, "what else might I want later" is a certain way to end up with unwanted high calorie foods in your pantry, calling your name late at night. Remember, if it's not on your list, don't buy it!

2. Resist impulse buys. The stores know how to market. They'll put displays out where you'll see them even if you didn't want to--a display of cookies on the end of the paper products aisle; a collection of salty snacks by the fruit section... yes, they know you might try to avoid the snack aisle, but they'll get those tempting treats in front of you somehow. You can resist. Check your list.

3. Realize the attractive and yummy foods will be at eye level. Check out the arrangement of the foods next time you shop--the more tasty foods will be place just at your eye level. Just as the foods tempting for kids will be at their eye level (Dora fruit snacks and Sponge Bob cookies are just about at the height of your knees!). Know that the job of the supermarket is to sell food, and they know if you see it there's a great chance you'll buy it. See number one.

4. Beware the check-out displays. Here is an especially dangerous place! You've made it through the store, pushing by the displays that called to you, sticking to your list, resisting impulse buys and tempting treats and have even saved some money this time. Now you're stuck. Stuck in the line while the people in front of you take their time, deciding on their method of payment, chatting with the cashier, demanding a price check, or waffling between "paper or plastic". And what is there to do while you wait? Either look at gossip mags or eye the candy bars. Candy and mints and chocolates and all things tempting. It's easy to fail now because you can't keep walking, and this standing and waiting is stressful. But this is your final challenge--you can do it! Do not give in and buy a candy bar--see number one.

5. You don't have to buy ten to get them for one dollar apiece. Now you will find out as your cashier rings you up, you do not have to buy all ten to get the "ten for $10 deal" or three to get "3 for $4". Almost 100% of the time, this is a way for the store to get you to buy more, but you do not actually need to get more than one to get the sale price. A product may just be on sale for a dollar, and the sign will say "five for $5" so you instinctively buy five. No need! Just take as many as are on your list (ask a manager if you like) and be sure to check when they are ringing up at the check-out line... if the sale price does not come up, you can ask. But I don't remember a time in the past five years that the sale price didn't show the same for one item as it was advertised for buying larger quantities.

Now relax as you unpack your groceries at home knowing you have made the healthy choices you planned and have a kitchen stocked with foods to keep you on target with your weight loss plans!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How To Save Calories In Your Coffee Drinks

Most people are aware that coffee itself has almost zero calories. Add a few ice cubes to cool it off and you're adding no calories. A little milk to lighten it up and a few teaspoons of sugar to sweeten it, and you're only talking about 50 calories--no big deal, right? But do you have any idea what's in the popular coffee drinks at the famous coffee chain, local coffee bars, or even the new fast-food coffee drink competitor? A lot!

For example, there are over 300 calories in the fast-food version of a medium iced mocha, and almost 600 in a name-brand frappuccino! In the hot drinks you can expect to consume about 300 calories in a serving of a latte. Where are these calories coming from, and is there any way you can still enjoy your coffee drink without sabotaging your dietary calorie balance?
Relax! Any of these places will make your coffee drink special-to-order so you can reduce the calories by hundreds!

First, let's take the milk that's used, whether it's heated or foamed. For every eight ounces of whole milk in your beverage there are about 9 grams of fat--close to 80 calories. Non-fat milk (also known as skim milk) has virtually zero fat so you can save 80 calories. And remember, that's for eight ounces--many of these drinks are using 12 ounces of milk, saving you up to 120 calories.

Now, look at the syrup that flavors your coffee--maybe hazelnut, vanilla, caramel, or chocolate. Many coffee bars put three or four squirts of sugary syrup in. How can you reduce the calories? They usually offer sugar-free varieties of any flavor. Personally I like the regular flavor, but can do without the extreme sweetness, so I'll ask them to cut the amount of syrup in half. Either way, you can save up to 80 calories by reducing the sugary part of the flavoring.

Finally, most coffee drinks--whether hot or cold--are topped with a rather large dollop of whipped cream. This can be easily adding more than 50 calories, depending on how generous the barrista! So, ask for less or do without, and save some more calories.

You've now found three ways to reduce the calories in your coffee drink: less fat in the milk, less sugar from the syrup (by using sugar-free or reducing the amount) and less (or no) whipped cream. Use your judgement and run a few trials to see what works for you and your taste.
A coffee drink needn't have more calories than a glass of skim milk (90 calories) with a little sweetener, and all the calcium and riboflavin you can get from what contributes as a serving of a dairy product in your daily diet!