NAVIGATING THE DIET MELANGE

NAVIGATING THE DIET MELANGE

This is the time of year when diet companies and weight loss plans, make promises to transform you — producing a better, fitter, and more amazing you.  Many suggest these remarkable changes will occur almost overnight, with little or no effort.  As with anything in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  I decided to do some research.  Every year U.S. News & World Reports puts out a list of the best diets.  I checked out those top rated.  Here is a link to the article:  https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall.

The left-hand column of the article provides ways you can customize a diet.  There are rankings (kinds of programs), or you can modify the type of regime, as well as specific preferences you desire.

When I started on my weight loss journey, I had 2 objectives:  1) Lose weight and 2) Not ever have another heart attack.  To be honest, there is no guarantee of the second goal. The reality is I have cardiovascular disease (CVD).  After my myocardial infarction (MI), stents were inserted, and it resolved an immediate problem.  It did not take away the CVD.  For me, this is a good-news, bad-news scenario.  The bad news is I could experience (and almost did) another cardiac event, the good news is I have learned and continue to learn how to listen to my body and take better care of it.

The top 3 diets overall, at U.S. News were:  1) The Mediterranean Diet, 2) The Dash Diet, 3) The Flexitarian Diet.  In all 3 plans, you do the shopping at your local market  — there are no premade meals to buy.  While they all recommend fresh fruits and vegetables, you might consider frozen vegetables, which are generally harvested in their prime and quick-frozen.  Be sure you get the veggies without sauces, butter, etc.  Plant-based proteins are advocated (legumes, beans, nuts), but you don’t have to give up lean meat.  There are hundreds of recipes available online and cookbooks dedicated to all 3.

I was listening to Dr. Jen Ashton, the Chief Health and Medical Editor, and Chief Medical Correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America, discuss the finding from U.S. News.  In addition to being a physician, Dr. Ashton received a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Columbia University in 2016.  Credentials in nutrition are a rarity among physicians.  One thing Dr. Ashton emphasized is that any diet has to be “sustainable.”  If any program is not easy to follow you will likely give up.  All 3 of these diets are easy to follow.

Since a primary reason for researching diets was because of my concern over heart health, I feel compelled to mention the Ornish Diet, which tied for #1 with the Mediterranean Diet in the Heart Healthy category.  A preeminent difference between this and the Mediterranean Diet is that it is incredibly restrictive with the use of oils (even unsaturated), foods containing cholesterol, animal products, etc.  The plan emphasizes stress management and exercise in addition to diet.  Both are essential to maintaining a healthy heart.

While I don’t follow it flawlessly, my diet most resembles the Mediterranean Diet.  Hell, I am Italian after all.  Of course, if you look at the European portion of the Mediterranean Sea, it encompasses Greece, Italy, France, Turkey, and Croatia — all with different kinds of cuisine.  Yet they all share a similar pyramid.  All meals include the base (this is where most of your food will come from) encompassing fruits, grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, along with herbs and spices.  Next up on the pyramid is fish and seafood.  These you have at least 2 times per week.  Next up is poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt which you have in moderate portions daily to weekly.  The tip of the pyramid contains meats and sweets — these foods, of course, are in limited quantities.

There is one other thing we must consider when discussing the Mediterranean Diet.  People from that region, do not hop in the car to go to the mall or market.  They walk just about everywhere or ride bikes (how un-American).  In other words, they are not couch-potatoes, they are active.  Don’t expect to lose weight, if you aren’t moving.  Think at least 30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous exercise.  If you’ve been inactive, start off incorporating physical activity 3 days a week, increasing your workout as you can.

So there you have it.  The top diets, according to U.S. News.  There are more.  Under best weight loss diets, you can find Weight Watchers, Volumetrics Diet; Best Fast Weight Loss Diets gives us HMR Diet, Atkins Program and Keto Diet; Best Commercial Diets include Jenny Craig and Nutritarian.  OMG, it goes on and on.

There are additional charges to join many of the Weight Loss and Commercial Diet Plans, plus monthly fees.  Some have group meetings, meetings with counselors (or a combination of both) and some are available online You need to choose what works for you.  Prepared food can be purchased directly from the company or at your local market, reducing preparation time for the user.  Just remember Dr. Ashton’s advice, whatever you select, IT MUST BE SUSTAINABLE.

Early on I tried Weight Watchers and dropped it because while it offered portion control and a pretty healthy approach, I didn’t know how many macro and micronutrients I was getting per meal or per day.  Was I getting too many carbs, too much fat?  It simply didn’t follow the lifestyle of a control freak.  However, others swear by it and if it’s working for you, stick with it.

Finally, I judge my diet results, not on a number on the scale, nor a dress size.  I look at my waist size (more on this in a future post) and most importantly on lab results, and maintaining healthy blood pressure.

Our obsession with diet has created a multi-million dollar industry, which is difficult to navigate.  We need to have a “buyer beware,” sign out there as we evaluate what’s in our best interests.

What do you do?  How do you measure your success?  There was a lot to this post.  I hope I didn’t discourage you.  Let me know your thoughts.

 

Taking the Die Out of Diet!

Taking the Die Out of Diet!

“Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.” Dear Officer Krupke, West Side Story

You’ve decided it’s time.  You’ve literally eaten your way through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s.  If that wasn’t enough — you consumed enormous quantities of calories attending all those holiday parties.  You are left with a widening waistline, little or no energy, and quite often a dip in your self-esteem.

When you think of the word “diet,” what comes to mind?  How about:

  1. Low fat (or no fat)
  2. No pasta, no bread, no sweets –NO CARBS
  3. Limited calories
  4. No Alcohol
  5. Salads, salads, salads (OMG, I hate green food)
  6. Gluten-free foods — What the hell is gluten?
  7. Starvation

If you can say “Yes” to one or more of the above, you are in deprivation mode.  Trust me, that inevitably leads to becoming depraved.  An example of this kind of depravity is simple.  I do not like coconut.  I’m not fond of the aroma, the taste, or the texture of those shavings placed on top of desserts.  If I am told I cannot have coconut, I will begin to crave it.  In anticipation of expected deprivation, I become depraved!

Like many of you, I’ve tried so many weight loss plans and had little or no success.  Maybe I lost some pounds, but stop the diet, and they would miraculously reappear.  In surrender, I’d thrown my arms in the air figuring, I’d never win in the diet arena.  As I stated in my previous blog post, what finally got my attention was a heart attack.  This weight problem was no longer a vague idea of looking better, my life was on the line.

My life is so often serendipitous.  It took 2 years to find my primary physician.  Incredibly, she is board certified in obesity medicine and has more than a nodding acquaintance with nutrition.  She provides seminars for her patients which include professional dietitians, psychologists, and physical therapists.  She started me on the path of my weight loss journey.  To date, I’ve said goodbye to 35 pounds.

In addition, I’ve taken on-line nutrition courses through edtogo.com.  This does not make me an expert, but I’ve found some things that have worked for me — and that may work for you.  Perhaps you can share some of your experiences that will help other readers.

There is no “one size fits all” diet out there.  Wish there was — bet you do too.  However, sharing what’s worked and what hasn’t might give someone else a “leg-up.”

The “Food for Thought” section of my blog will include suggestions, ideas, recipes (if from another source, there will be links to them).  I hope you are as excited about this section in my blog, as I.  Let me hear from you.

 

HAPPY 2019

HAPPY 2019

Hello there, readers.  Here we go again.  I don’t know about you, but the year 2018 seemed to be on a race to get to the finish line.  Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were ringing in “18, “and now it’s history.

Who out there has resolutions for 2019?  How many have already broken them?  How many of you have at the top of the list something to do with “diet?”  I heard on the news that approximately 80% of us are stressing over losing weight.

In the past couple of years, I’ve lost more than 35 pounds.  Someone asked me,  “how did you lose all that weight?”  My response was, “Well, I think it was the heart attack that got my attention.”   That’s a bit extreme, so during this year, we can explore what’s worked for me and also for you.  Keep in mind, there doesn’t appear to be a “one-size-fits-all” diet out there!

I’m thinking about a new Vision Board.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a collage of words, pictures, and aspirations for the coming year.  Once put together, it should be placed in a prominent place as a reminder of what you wish to gravitate towards.  As opposed to a “New Year’s Resolution,” this adds greater intent and resolve.

I plan to spend much more time writing…both on my blog and other venues.  Hopefully, I’ll be posting weekly, and plan to spend more time on health and wellness.  That being said, I’ve embarked on a “Dry January” challenge, the purpose is to enhance your health. It is said when doing this you are more focused, your skin (the largest organ of the body) is healthier, and you sleep better.

Those of you who know me well, are aware I love my wine!  I’ve written before, that I was born in Milwaukee, raised in Chicago, but grew up in the Bay area of California — next door to the wine country!

So here I am, with no wine in the house.   As I write this, we are only on day 7, and I can say I’m more focused.  Once the challenge is completed, I’ll let you know my results.

I’m excited about the prospect of 2019. Until my next post, have a great week and keep the “Happy” in your days!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Word came down from the Oval.  We shall no longer be PC when it comes to holiday greetings. However, when your family covers many different religions, and you send out a generic letter, it’s much easier to wish everyone a Happy Holiday.

How has your year been?  All in all, mine has been pretty good.  No cardiac events (I’m knocking on wood as I write this — the year isn’t over yet).

PAWS AND MEDITATION

The paws are getting older.  Gatsby and Scarlett are somewhere around 100 years old.  Gatsby is no longer a Black and White Tuxedo Cat.  He’s more charcoal grey and white.  Scarlett, who has been known to catch a bird in flight has become a couch potato.  Daisy is only in her 90’s — imagine being 90-something!  I’m relatively close, but can’t begin to picture myself at that age.

The remaining paws belong to Teddy and Gabrielle – the youngsters.  Incidentally, I wrote about Teddy’s resemblance to a Koala (see: A Rose by Any Other Name at SharondipitousMoments.com).  Actually, I discovered he’s at least part Maine Coon, a breed known for its VERY LARGE size.  Heaven only knows how he found his way to Florida.

I’ve been trying to practice meditation every day.  It seems that Ted found the activity particularly soothing.  As I walk through the house every day, I see him in deep meditation.

 

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

My brother, Harlley and his wife Betsy decided to migrate to California.  Years ago, he and I moved to the Bay Area but then (nomads that we are) traveled around the country.  The two set out from sunny Florida to sunny California.  Yes, that IS redundant — why not snowy New York or Windy and Snowy Chicago, or freezing Minnesota?

They settled into beautiful Calabasas – just across the freeway from Agoura Hills, where Kerry and Todd (their kids) live.  Then November arrived on the tail of Santa Ana winds.  Kerry and Todd vacated their home going to my brother’s place.  A few hours later there was pounding on the door followed by shouts of, “Evacuate!”   As mentioned before, my brother has some nomadic tendencies — Betsy, on the other hand, does not.  I’m happy to say everyone survived — maybe a little the worse for wear.  Better yet, their houses remain standing.  I’m knocking on wood again — the rains have commenced.

WHILE BACK IN FLORIDA

The Florida Panhandle barely survived Hurricane Michael.  Miami was much luckier, no major storm here.  I did get hurricane impact windows.  Three smaller windows and my utility room door are yet to be installed.  I hated the feeling of entombment when I used my old shutters, but don’t know that I want to see trees falling and all kinds of debris flying through the air. But, au contraire, if we have another hurricane in our area, I’ll be able to see the Wicked Witch fly by on her broomstick!

First, it was “chads,” now it’s counting ballots, losing ballots, finding ballots.  I recognize there are a large number of retirees in Florida, but it isn’t us!.  It’s the people who manage elections, who can’t seem to get it right.  We finally found out who our elected officials were more than a week after voting closed.  Maybe in 2 years, we can get it right.

Hope to hear from all my friends soon.  Last year I announced, I wouldn’t be sending my holiday letter out anymore, but would post it on my website.  I received complaints.  Therefore, I am sending some letters out with information on how to subscribe to my blog. This will be the last year of a post office mailing.

Until next year, my hope is you all have a great holiday and a new year filled with good health, happiness, and joy.

  Love from,

Gatsby, Scarlett, Daisy, Teddy, Gabrielle

and, of course, Me

 

 

 

 

Vintage

Vintage

My Mac’s speed has slowed, so I made a call to Apple Support.  I believe most of the techs are considerably younger than I, and therefore expect their frame of reference might be different from mine.  After accessing my computer, the technician looked at various potential problems, made some changes, rebooted my computer in safe mode, and then back again in regular mode.  As we were discussing the issue, the young lady said, “Of course, yours is a vintage Mac.”

I have a friend who has (what he calls) a vintage car.  It “came off the line” in 1960.  Many car enthusiasts would insist it is not old enough to be vintage since it’s post-1930.  I have some beautiful old jewelry, but it’s not 100 years old and cannot be defined as vintage.  I, too, have made it to my “golden years,” and I’m definitely not vintage!

How on earth did my 6-year-old Mac become vintage?  Should I ship it off to the Smithsonian?

In this wonderful age of technology, things age extremely fast.  Computer chips appear to age faster than anything.  The computer chip in my dryer died at the age of 3, and the chip in my electric range had to be replaced before it made it to one year.

Although advances in medicine have expanded human life expectancy,  this does not hold true for computers.  Fortunately, the techie was able to make my Mac function better.  It’s slower than it was a few years ago, but what the heck, so am I.

Remembering Cari

Remembering Cari

I was attending my first WomenHeart meeting two years ago.  The meeting was starting, and I quickly found a seat, sitting next to Caridad (Cari).  There were maybe 25 – 30 women present and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Sometimes, the meetings have speakers or activities, but this evening was dedicated to sharing.  I was to learn that taking the time to listen and learn from other heart patients, is an invaluable tool for all.  As it came time for Cari to share, she started to tear up.  In addition to heart disease, Cari had several other serious health issues.  Having an opportunity to express her problems was difficult, yet she did so with profound dignity.

She told us about her Vision Board. It had words of encouragement, pictures of loved ones, and a photograph of the beach – a place she associated with peace and serenity. The first thing every morning she would look at it.  It would lighten her load and help her start her day with feelings of thankfulness.  At the end of the meeting, I spoke with her and our group leader, Annie, about having a Vision Board party for our WomanHeart group.

In January 2017, we had our VB party.  What a great time.  After working on our boards,  we shared our completed projects with everyone.  Here is Cari with her Vision Board along with Annie de Velasco, Andee Weiner and me.  What a happy moment.

As I look at Cari’s Vision Board, I see pictures of her family and of course her beautiful beach.  Most prominently we find the word, GRATITUDE, something integral to her well-being.

Cari passed away early last week.  In the song, Seasons of Love, from the musical, Rent, we are asked, “How do you measure the life of a woman or man?”  The answer is, “Measure your life in love.”  Cari exuded love.  I am so grateful I had the opportunity to know her, if only for a brief time.

THE GOLDEN BOY

THE GOLDEN BOY

When he was young, he would tag after his big brother to a vacant field, where the neighborhood boys played softball. A towhead, he always seemed to end up playing outfield. Inevitably a long drive would head to the outer reaches of the park, and he would race after it. That is until he suddenly vanished.

Face it! It wasn’t the best ballpark in the world, and the “outfield” was a composite of high grass and deep holes. The last anyone would see of the young boy as he raced after the fly ball, arms outstretched, was his blond hair literally disappearing from view. It was no accident he played outfield. Yes, it was tough being the younger brother.

Years later, as Ted told this tale of his brother’s softball prowess, he bestowed upon him the moniker, “Golden Boy.” It stuck.

Good things happen to those who wait. As he was about to enter his teens, along came a younger sister and the Golden Boy began to nurture a side to his personality he had never displayed before. Now, he was the oldest and teasing his younger sister was his right of passage. While at the movies watching “The Wizard of Oz, he pestered her, pretending he was a winged monkey ready to fly her away. The theater was filled with a child’s voice yelling, “Stop it Harlley!” He enlisted a pal to pull dollars off our “money growing” elm tree. Do you have any idea how disappointing it was to find out that was not true? I’m still suffering.

Our lives were woven together loosely as many years were spent apart. During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, he was at Cornell, followed by graduate school at Purdue. I was in high school, then college and later working in downtown Chicago.

However, our lives intersected again in 1968. We both moved to California, he was up in Berkeley, and I was down in Palo Alto. While there, we visited often. Sometimes we went sailing in San Francisco Bay, on other occasions we enjoyed the pool at my apartment, and of course, there were visits to the wine country. We relished the freer culture that was northern California. Even after he moved back to Purdue, we managed to meet up for the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena.

We’ve had many adventures over the years – living both near and far apart — but we’ve always remained close. It’s been a long road from childhood to today. There have been wonderful happy times, and as life would have it, there were times of sorrow as well. Through it all, we’ve been each other’s support and may not have physically carried one another, but we did indeed lift one another emotionally.

With our long journey in mind, I’m reminded of Bob Russell’s lyrics.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRO’