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Archive for the ‘Turning 50’ Category

WE HAVE NOW PASSED the six months to 50 mark!    This is the final countdown to my 50th birthday and my end goal of being perfectly fit and healthy when I turn 50.   I can do this!

I spent some time getting super organized for the next six months of blogging.  I’ll be posting according to this weekly schedule:

Saturdays — Bread baking & recipes
Sundays — Soup recipes
Wednesdays — Vegetable recipes
Thursdays — Fruit recipes
Fridays — Fitness reporting

And my hope is that some of you will jump on and report your fitness activities for each week in the comments section. Either way, you’ll hear about all I did (or didn’t) do for exercise every seven days.

I’ve already found 35 delicious soup recipes and I’ll make one every Soupy Sunday, just like we did early in the year. I’ve also bought Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the second book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I don’t know about you, but months of fall and winter weekends filled with fresh-baked bread and homemade soup sound completely heavenly to me. I can’t wait to get started!

The Facebook page is still going strong — I hope you can recommend it to your friends!!   I usually post links and share videos and recipes on the page.   We also get photos posted from our friends on the page, along with links to the wall, which anyone can post at any time.   I’m all about sharing ideas, information and recipes.

I’m also still going strong on Twitter (@14monthsto50), approaching 900 followers, which I know is total babydom in Twitworld, but for me it seems like a big deal.  All I know is so much information passes over Twitter every day that I’m still astounded by it!   I love it as an information-sharing source. 

On the weight and fitness front:  I’ve lost 17 lbs. since I started this blog in January.  I want to lose at least 10 pounds more, and you know how that goes.  When I get there, I’ll probably want to lose a few more.  I’m so happy with my improved diet and health — this has truly been a lifestyle change and it is something I completely prefer.   I wish I could make everyone eat the way I do!  

I’ll be back here tomorrow with a veggie dish or two, some photos (if I can remember how my camera works) and we’ll kick this thing off!!   See ya then.   And thank you all so much for sticking with me through my hiatus — love ya!

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I woke up with so many things on my mind today, things related to this blog and the reasons I started it, that I just had to share. 

On the food front, I am still very much guzzling the purple kool-aid of the organic “real food” movement.   There is a difference between organic and non-organic food, and I think it’s important to avoid chemicals, hormones and other awful things in food.   I think the thing that makes it hard for people to embrace the “bad food” idea is that nothing bad happens to you immediately when you eat bad food.  Any ill effects will be later in life, like cancers.  And since you can’t point to it and say “Oh, I got that pancreatic cancer from eating _______ for 10 years,” then it just goes on and on.   A friend of mine (to whom I’ve been talking about bad food for six months) said a couple of weeks ago (about some food evils), “This is really bad, these companies need to be held responsible, the government should be involved, people need to be told what’s going on!”  And then I told him, people ARE being told what’s going on.  But until having a healthy dinner becomes more important than getting to the kid’s soccer practice on time, no one will care.  And then he said “No, I mean they need to REALLY be told, it needs to be all over the evening news and in the papers.”  Well, guess what?  It is!   All of the bad meat stories, e-coli stories, food recalls, health issues, good documentaries, websites, groups — how many times and ways do people need to be told something before they HEAR the information?   So then we concluded it does come down to taking care of your own family and conscious purchases/lifestyle.  When enough people are doing that, then it becomes a real movement and creates real change.

So, I continue to beat my friends over the head on Facebook and Twitter, and use my dollars to vote at the checkout stand – my small way of trying to make change.  

A fun thing I’m getting to do this week is to revamp a friend’s pantry.  He’s finding it complicated to sort out his diet, and I’ve accepted the challenge.  So I first assessed what he normally buys for home, and I’m going to have him replace his unhealthy choices with healthy ones as he needs to restock.  I’m pretty excited about it for a couple of reasons:  I can blog about it and help others do the same thing with their food, and it helps me document exactly how I eat.  I’ll end up with a very good view of my exact food choices, something I’ve sort of internalized lately as it has become habit.

On the fitness front, I’ve joined a gym with a friend where I do stationary bike, rowing machine, a couple of arm machines, and a crunch machine that is KILLER.  It’s a pay-as-you-go place, perfect for me when I just don’t want to work out at home or outdoors.  I’m also still walking, my usual five mile walk a few times a week.  I bought a Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred dvd and it punishes me regularly.

I have also signed up for a couple of challenges through Twitter this month, both for dieting and losing weight, to try to keep on track for a month at a time.  Here’s what I’ve learned from that:  if I think someone else is making me do something, or even paying attention to my success at all, I won’t do it.  It’s a personal flaw, seems like.  So, while I have slowly lost a few pounds, and while I am weighing on the scale more often which I think is a good thing, I think I am more successful when left to self-monitor and not report to anyone. 

Which leads me to my next idea:  I think I am reverting to only fruits and vegetables for the next seven days.  Those of you paying any attention to me at all will remember I’ve done this before.  My reasons are 1) it’s easy to remember what to eat and grab whatever I want, whenever   2) I get plenty of nutrition, while eating no wasteful calories  3) I LOVE fruits and vegetables, and I care less for grains and nuts and legumes.  I have always been a bit of a hobbyist dieter, and evidently if I’m not manipulating, restricting, or otherwise jumping through some kind of food hoops, I’m not happy.  This will keep me entertained for a while, and I hopefully will see some quicker weight loss.  I only want to lose around 10 to 15 pounds, and you would think that would be the easiest thing in the world to do, but as I add muscle (just go along with it) my weight has reached a true plateau.  So seven days of fruits and veggies it is!

And lastly, please friends, do everything you can to be more GREEN.  Cut back on packaged products, try to use recyclable packaging, no plastic, and use responsible home and body cleansers.  Bicycle and walk places with your friends and families.  Buy local food to save on the transportation energy usage.  Read, read, read online about being green and really implement the things you read about.   The environment is not outside of us, it IS us. 

And now I bid you adieu – I’ll be back in two weeks to pick up my regular blogging schedule.  I hope you and yours are well.  Big hugs to you all!

(Forgive any typos or nonsense, I’m on an 8″ netbook in a very cold coffee shop. )

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I will be working on a couple of other web projects for the next four weeks.   So when I return here with new articles and activities, I will be five months from turning 50!    

As you all know, the fall is a very busy time, and mine will be no different.   I will have plenty of football, holidays and perfect weather to write about.   I’m also starting a new indoor garden, using hydroponics to grow food during the winter – so more about that.   This month I will get my fitness on track, too.  I’m off to a good start so far — yay for me!

In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter (where I live) — my twitter name is @14monthsto50.  On Facebook, I post great links, photos and videos.  All of my followers are allowed to post to the wall, too.  The page name on Facebook is, aptly, 14 Months to 50.   Please feel free to email me at 14monthsto50@gmail.com

Enjoy the rest of your summer!   Stay healthy and be good to yourself.

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This weekend I attempted to give a boost to my exercise and healthy living routines through shopping.   I picked up a couple of pieces of workout clothing, a new gym ball and dvd, an interesting little heart health kit from Dr. Andrew Weil.  (Non-contributing things bought were two pairs of shoes and a cute sweater from Eddie Bauer – you can’t keep a girl down.)

I’m totally excited about the gym ball — I did the dvd routine this morning and it was surprisingly strenuous.  I’ve been using it as a chair at my desk, too, which requires me to balance and use my leg muscles rather than just sit here like a lump.  I’ve found that I need to switch out to my regular chair after about an hour, more for the need to lean back and rest my back than anything to do with my legs.

I’ve been walking an hour every other day for a few weeks now, but it’s not enough.   I’m trying to add things to my daily life so that just living causes me to exercise.  I have my standing desk, too, which I hope to get painted this week so I can put it to use.   Between the ball sitting and the desk standing, maybe I can turn being at the computer all day into something a bit less sluggish.

I picked up two shirts for walking/biking.  One is just a cute brown hoodie, but made of very lightweight cotton, so I won’t have to worry about getting too hot.  It has a cool kind of hippy-ish flower print on the front and back, too.  The shirt I’m most excited about has pockets!  Woohoo!   It turns out that I do not own one single pair of gym shorts, workout pants, or any t-shirts or biking shirts with pockets.  So when I walk, I have my keys in my hand, or tucked into my waistband, which is not ideal.  Sometimes I take my phone, too, in case a nice photo op presents itself (you know, like a really still squirrel or nice tree blossoms – important stuff that must be blogged).    Shirts with pockets rock!!

The Healthy Heart Kit by Andrew Weil is in a nice little box and has a 52-page workout, 2 audio CDs and 25 heart health cards.  I just got it for fun and because it was on deep sale, since it’s been for sale for a couple of years.  But, it’s also kind of cool.   The cards are made up of six diet/exercise cards with varying topics.   Other card categories are heart inspirations, mind body, and self care.   That will be something fun to play with and look at when I need a boost from boredom. 

Tonight when the temps cool down a bit (expected high of 94 today), I’ll go for my regular walk.   And I did the ball workout already, so I feel good about today’s bit of exercise.   I announced today on Facebook that I want to lose 10 pounds by July, which means dietary restrictions for me.   The plan is to eat only fruits and veggies, and my two eggs for breakfast.   Which leaves me with my usual coffee dilemma.  Coffee = sugar in my world.  We’ll see how it goes — I think my best option would be an “every third day” plan or something similar, where I have coffee every few days as a treat. 

Wish me luck!  I’ll keep you posted on the success or failure of my weight loss over the next month.

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This is part of turning 50 - juggling glasses (AND I wear contacts)

I HAVE HAD A VERY INTERESTING 3 months.   What a ride!  I started out on a diet and exercise plan and have ended up mostly vegetarian, almost vegan and raw, and completely wrapped up in agriculture, organics and going green.  But like a friend said who was at my house for a viewing of Food, Inc., one thing leads to another and another and before long, here you are. 

I am so glad I started this “get healthy by 50” plan as early as I did.   A slow evolution takes place on the road to health.   I have so many aspects I want to control along the diet/exercise/healthy living spectrum.   Just the eating and food aspect has taken up most of my time so far.  Only in the last couple of weeks have I truly started to exercise regularly.  I’m still wondering where my diet will end up, as I work my way through foods that make me feel good and are beneficial. 

Right now I eat vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.    I don’t eat anything processed (if I do I guarantee it has few ingredients and only good stuff)  unless it’s a whole grain organic product, and grains are proving difficult for me, even though an occasional whole grain pasta is very satisfying.   I eat oatmeal with maples syrup and cinnamon.   And I eat eggs every morning.  That will never change – I love my eggs, they give me strength.  I don’t use any butter.  I eat vegetables plain and the flavors are so good!  I do eat organic chocolate occasionally, peanut butter, apple butter, and juices.    Lately I’ve tried some very high quality canned tuna and canned salmon.  When I eat out, I make concessions but I try very hard to be true to myself, knowing my body won’t react favorably to most restaurant processed foods. 

Lifestyle changes in the kitchen have been the result of reading about food contaminants such as plastics and BPA.  So I eliminated plastic from the kitchen, removing plastic cooking utensils and buying things in glass containers.  I stopped drinking water bottled in plastic and buy it bottled in glass.   We have high levels of arsenic in the water where I live, so the water is a concern.  

I stopped drinking diet coke, totally and permanently.  I still drink coffee in the morning, but not every morning.  I use evaporated cane sugar in my coffee and vanilla almond milk.  I also drink hot tea with honey or iced tea unsweetened.  I can’t give up caffeine — it’s my drug.  My brain goes crazy when I can’t have it. 

Exercise:  I walk an hour every two days.  I plan on increasing that to an hour every day (starting today? lol).   I want to get back to biking by the end of the year – love it.  Can’t wait to go on some long rides.  I used to do around 18 miles a trip, three times a week.  And that wasn’t even really pushing myself too much.  I look forward to being back at that level and maybe beyond.    I also found a good gym to go to, and that’s next on the list.  I think it’s important to keep the options open for variety.  I get bored soooo easily.  I hate routine.

This summer I want to grow food on my patio.  In fact, I need to get that going this weekend.  I’m going to go visit some gardens of friends and family for inspiration.  Naturally, I’ll share with you what I find.  I’m already behind for gardening here in Oklahoma, but it IS only April, for Pete’s sake.  I think I can still grow a tomato by October. 

I guess that’s about it on the update.  Not much to talk about — just living.  It takes a lot of planning and a lot of thought in the beginning,  but I enjoy making these changes.  I do feel better, I sleep better and I have more energy.   So, the odds are good for me reaching a great level of health by 50, but I do have 11 whole months to go . . . I could snap any minute.  We’ll see.

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IF YOU HAD SUGGESTED SIX MONTHS AGO that I would be almost totally vegetarian by April, we would have had a good laugh.   How did this happen anyway?   I think anyone’s evolution with food happens naturally, as you educate yourself about how food works in the body and as you experience it.   Those of you who have been with me all along know I started this blog because of “You on a Diet”, by Dr. Mehmet Oz.    In the book and on his show, Dr. Oz is so good at breaking down the functions of food in the body, how the body reacts and processes food, and how we experience those processes.   He really does give you pause with his explanations — food for thought.  

As I do with most things, I ran with the info from Dr. Oz.  I did his pantry cleanout, removing anything bad from my house (although I do still have bags of white flour – who can throw out whole bags of flour?).    So my first steps were to remove sugar and flour from my diet.   Most of you probably realize this, but when you remove flour and processed sugar from the normal American diet, you’re kind of left with fruits, vegetables, meat, whole grains, nuts and that’s about it. 

You also still have things like diet coke and coffee to wrestle with.   I am against artificial sweeteners; I just don’t think they are good for people.   Some studies show artificial sweeteners have a neurological effect on long-term users.   I’m a long-term user (30 years) and  I have the worst memory of anyone I know.  Soft drinks also contain bone-destroying phosphorus-something-or-other — bad.  That’s scary.   So I tried to eliminate diet coke, but I do backslide and still have one occasionally.

My next step was trying to eliminate all caffeine, which I now know is impossible for me.   I still have coffee a few times a week, and after experimenting with agave nectar and honey, I find that coffee with a spoon of raw sugar and some organic skim milk is my thing.  I tried almond milk in coffee and it just wasn’t the flavor I was going for.   But I do drink hot tea with honey and almond milk.

So around the same time I was getting into Dr. Oz, I saw the movie Food, Inc.   And a couple of things really hit me from that movie.   First, Monsanto patenting genetically modified seeds, spying on farmers, and suing anyone who saved seed struck me as being so crazy, far-fetched and sci-fi that I really carried that with me for a long time.  Monsanto controlling almost ALL of the soybean and corn seed really bothers me.  And Monsanto creating a Round-up resistant soy plant bugs me.  Think about that.  Round-up resistant.  No, this does not mean that Round-up does not get on the soy.  This means they can pour Round-up over the plant, and it will kill all plants around it but not the soy plant, which probably means the soy plants are covered with Round-up regularly.  Soy – our healthy bean, able to be doused in Round-up.  Oh, goody.  And about that corn:  almost all farmed creatures are fed corn now, even farm-grown shrimp and fish.  So even when you eat fish, you are being touched by genetically modified corn!  Fish don’t eat corn!  Fish and corn would have never ever even met on this planet!  If these things don’t freak people out, then we’re sunk.  They astound me.

The second thing that stuck with me in Food, Inc. was the treatment of the chicken farmers by the big companies.   Pursuaded to open these huge facilities by Tyson (or whichever company), enticed by the company paying for certain things (providing the chicks, lending them money beyond their means to build facilities) the farmers do all the work and pay the company back with all their profits.  I think the quote was that a farmer makes $18,000 a year income raising hundreds of thousands of chickens.   Pathetic.  Sad.   The third thing was the chickens themselves.  The growth hormones cause them to grow so fast that their bodies and organs can’t keep up,  all they are is huge breasts.  So they can’t walk, or move, and they are literally wall to wall in the HUGEST buildings.   It’s disgusting.   And knowing all of that, how could anyone support it?  How could you bring  yourself to go into a store and buy chicken from one of those companies?   I can’t – so that’s how I got to where I am.   

So now I eat fish once every couple of weeks and that’s pretty much about it for meat.   I would eat organic beef, or any organic meat, but today it’s just easier to eliminate meat.   I haven’t really missed it, so it’s not a huge sacrifice or something I really wish I could have.  I just don’t need it or want it.

So, where was I?  I watched Food, Inc., and I was following Dr. Oz’s diet, and then suddenly I was evolving into my own food rules.   I realized that health was taking the forefront and weight loss was not an issue for me.  I started trying to buy only organic, and I am proud to say I eat mostly organic.   If I’m at the store and I have limited time and the juices aren’t all organic, I’ll just buy what is on the shelf.   I’m reasonable afterall (mostly).  The step to organic was easy for me.   No one has time to research every company, to hear the horror stories of every bad food, how it’s made and all the awful things in it.  But we can reasonably assume if we can’t pronounce the ingredients, it’s bad.   We can also stick to purer foods that have no ingredients.  And we can simplify and just make sure we get the best possible food we can, without all the work, and buy organic.   That’s what I do.

I had stopped eating grains because I have a problem with starches (as in I love them with butter and cheese) and it was easier for me to eliminate all bread and all pasta and all cereal.  So I did.  For two months, I had no grains.    I have always loved fresh fruits and vegetables, so living on them, along with juice and nuts, eggs and milk, was not that difficult.   I’m still doing it!   I’m slowly adding grains back into my diet, but it’s happening naturally.  I eat things like a slice of bread or some whole wheat pasta when I need a more filling meal. 

I had noticed when I would eat a piece of bread or any kind of starchy thing after not having them for a couple of months, that they were SO filling — so ridiculously filling!   And it was a different kind of full.  When I eat fruits and vegetables, I feel satisfied and “done.”   But I have noticed that old uncomfortably full feeling, that feeling of heaviness and what I used to think meant feeling full, can only come from eating flour and starches.  They are amazingly good at making the stomach feel all loaded up.  Once you’ve gone without feeling that for a long time, it’s uncomfortable to feel it again.   I think I’ve bought one or two loaves of bread in three months and I only bought butter yesterday for the first time since December.   And last night I made 100% whole wheat spaghetti for dinner.   It’s a start.   I know grains are necessary so I’m working on it.

Another thing I’ve learned is that fast food (and almost all restaurant food) is really bad – and your body knows it and tries to tell you.    It is a rare thing to walk into a restaurant and find something TRULY healthy.  This is fodder for another blog entry, but the short story is, if you stop eating out for even one month — and I mean eat nothing but food from your house — then go out for one meal, anywhere, at almost any restaurant or fast food place, you will know what I mean.  Your body will freak when you hit it with that food.   You’ll be thirsty for days from the salt,  you’ll have intestinal reactions,  it will feel awful in your stomach.  You will taste sugar in bread, sugar in sauces, things will be so salty you can’t keep them in your mouth.   It’s enough to keep you from going back.   And when you DO find a good healthy place to eat and find a good healthy meal at that place, try it.  Your body will tell you if that place serves good food.  I guarantee it.   And then, like me, you’ll be amazed when you look around and realize how many people eat truly bad food, every meal, every day,  and for years.    And then you’ll look at kids and what they are eating — at home as well as at school — and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.  And when you see a small child putting a Chicken McNugget in their mouth, you’ll cringe.

And speaking of grains . . . I have to get that bread baked today.   I’ll be back with that later.

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Well, let’s see, what am I eating these days?   I am eating mostly vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, but light on the grains.  I try very hard to eat as many organic foods as possible.   I am having coffee a few times a week, with either raw sugar or agave nectar in it, as well as skim milk or almond milk.  I have to say, coffee with agave nectar and almond milk is a different coffee to be sure, but it does taste good.  It’s just a different good.  I also eat an ounce of chocolate on occasion, 70% of course.  And I’ve had some popcorn here and there this week, cooked on the stove in canola oil, salted with sea salt. 

And I would say that is pretty much all I eat, other than an occasional trip around town to one of the approved restaurants in which I am willing to dine.   And I have to say I have come up with some excellent restaurant meals at places I definitely trust to serve good fresh food. 

I have to hit the sack now — super sleepy.  I sleep very well these days and when I hit that wall, I hit it hard.  See you tomorrow, my friends.

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