I got a well-deserved slap from the universe the other day. Well, it wasn’t as much of a slap as it was a gentle nudge. I’m grateful for the reminder to step outside of own head… And happy to share it with you — just in case you can use one yourself (a nudge, not a slap).
It all began one morning while driving to my favorite coffee place in town. While I usually make coffee at home, every couple of days I treat myself to a stronger brew that I didn’t make myself. To get to this spot during the morning hours, one has to deal with rush hour traffic — something I don’t normally have to contend with since I work from home. Adding to the journey is an awkward (yet legal) left hand turn into this local coffee place’s parking lot.
On a recent outing, as I waited in my car to make my turn, I noticed an older man and woman walking across the driveway entrance. Thus, I waited to turn, even though there was no oncoming traffic.
“Look at me,” I thought to myself, “Being nice to the walkers.” (Sure, the law dictates that pedestrians have the right of way, but I was still mentally applauding myself.)
Only it turns out that the man was taking his sweet time walking across the driveway entrance. And we’re talking about a short distance here. Minute turned into minutes turned into… Well, more minutes.
Don’t worry. I didn’t honk or do anything crass like that. But I did have a little passive aggressive hissy fit in the confines of my brain, wondering why the man was lollygagging and/or why he just didn’t check to see if a car needed to enter the parking lot and wait if he was going to be so slow about walking across (and therefore blocking) the entrance.
After what seemed like an eternity (one song had ended and another had started on my car stereo — a true mark of time passage if ever there was one), the man finally made it across, which allowed me to make the turn (after some oncoming traffic went by). No big deal, right? Except that once in line at said coffee place, I happened to start talking to the woman who was with the man.
This wasn’t my choice. I saw them both in line in front of me, recognizing them from what would forever be known as “The Great Slow Walking Incident of 2014″ and thus I judged them harshly in my brain. After all, they’d robbed me of 2 to 3 minutes of turn time.
(Yes, I know I’m being ridiculous here… But please, stick with me!)
After the man left the line to get a table, the woman turned around and offered me a smile. What could I do but smile back? And after that, a conversation ensued (how dare she!). During the course of what turned out to be a surprisingly nice discussion, the fact that my dog, Latte, is a trained therapy dog came up. At which point the woman started raving about therapy dogs and how much they had helped her husband who had just gone through a series of surgeries and lengthy hospital stays.
Universe. Slapping. Me. (In a gentle, nudge-like fashion.)
Yeah, Gregg… This man had taken a longer than usual time period to walk across the parking lot entrance. And what a celebration that may be have been for him (and his wife). After several surgeries and multiple hospital stays, he was up and walking — and even enjoying a sunshine-y day while out for coffee with his spouse.
And yet, when in my car, observing all this, I made it all about me.
I’m tempted to shame myself here. But we all know (or at least are hopefully learning) that shame doesn’t do much to encourage change. So instead, I’m admitting my ridiculous response to what I thought was dilly-dallying man and celebrating the fact that I was not only able to learn why he was “walking slow” (by my silly standards), but also that his situation offered cause for happiness… Not just in regard to his health and his wife’s appreciation for it, but also for my own mental health and inner joy.
It’s often when caught up in life’s to-do list (or quest for a stronger cup of coffee) that we can also get caught up in our own mental interpretation of what’s going on in the world around us — and then make it all about us, when in fact, it has nothing to do with us. And if we would instead take a moment to breathe and observe, we just might learn something and/or find a reason to count our (and others’) life blessing(s).
I probably don’t have to tell you that my coffee tasted even more delicious that day. And that now when I see someone doing something that I don’t understand, I do my best to stop myself from decoding what they’re agenda is and lamenting about how it’s affecting me. Instead, I think of this older gentleman and his wife and send out a nonverbal thanks to them. Not only for the valuable reminder, but also for not being as caught up in their own mental drama (as I had been) so that they were able to unknowingly share a valuable life lesson/reminder with me, the guy who really needed to slow down that day.
Photo Source: Exchange3D.com
Lately, there’s been a common question that I seem to be asked over and over again. And that question is, “Why aren’t you a professional model?”
No, wait… That’s not the common question.
The question is actually one that lots of people ask me: “How do you eat all those baked breads without gaining any of the 250-plus pounds that you lost back?”
The question comes as a result of me posting pictures of my freshly-baked bread creations to the Just Stop Eating So Much! Facebook page – usually on weekend mornings when I’m in the mood to explore my inner Martha Stewart. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-baked goodies wafting through the house. My latest was a loaf of Sour-Cream-Blueberry Bread. And when enjoyed fresh out of the oven with (heaven forbid!) cream cheese, it makes for a wonderful treat that delights almost all the senses.
Did you catch the key word in the paragraph above? Treat.
Fresh-baked bread with cream cheese is not something I eat daily. Sometimes not even weekly. But it is something I enjoy in moderation. Even if I’m being strict with my eating plan (something that, for the record, I’m always paying close attention to, even when “treating” myself).
When working to get or stay healthy, any food and drink requires portion control. This is as true for green beans as it is for fresh-baked breads. That’s what moderation is all about. And whether you incorporate moderation into your lifestyle before, during or after a diet, it’s something you’re going to have to master at some point.
The reason I keep drilling the concept of moderation into your heads is because I’m constantly drilling it into my own. Believe me, I’m human. I get it. I want to take the whole loaf of fresh-baked Sour-Cream-Blueberry Bread, put it in a big bowl, add a vat of vanilla ice cream and find a big ol’ spoon. But this is when I quickly remind myself that this is what 450-pound Gregg would do. Not 175-pound Gregg.
The differences build from there. 450-pound Gregg, while eating every last bite of the full loaf, the ice cream and whatever else could be used as a topping (a package of Oreo cookies, for example), would be telling himself that “this is the last time I’ll ever eat foods like this.” 450-pound Gregg would devour every last bite — perhaps even while standing up or watching TV. (In other words, he wouldn’t go to the trouble of putting out a placemat and making for a nice presentation and a relaxing eating experience.)
450-pound Gregg would then be in great physical pain from eating so much all at once. And he’d likely repeat this same ritual (“last supper before starting the diet”) the very next day — if not the very next meal.
Contrarily, 175-pound Gregg would let the bread cool, then immediately slice it up, based on reasonable serving sizes. In this case, he would cut about 12 slices into a nine-inch loaf. He would then go a step further, and put the unused portions into individual containers for future use. All without lapping up any crumbs. These containers with the separated portions would be saved in the fridge or even the freezer. And since the slices are stored in portion-sized containers, the temptation to overdo it is greatly minimized — both now and in the future.
175-pound Gregg would place his current portion on a cute bistro-style plate and sit down and eat the reasonable portion (even with a small amount of low-fat cream cheese and with half of a banana, sliced up). 175-pound Gregg would enjoy this eating experience for all it’s worth. Afterward, he would realize he’s full and, more importantly, satisfied, and look forward to enjoying this treat again in the future. It should also be noted that 175-pound Gregg also got his butt to the gym at 5 a.m. — yes, even on a weekend morning — before he mixed up the batter and baked the bread.
I’m going to stop talking about myself in third person now because I don’t want to be one of “those people.” But hopefully you get the point. One person’s routine vs. another’s. Only, in actuality, it’s the same person — with only about 250-plus excess pounds separating these two different ways of enjoying fresh baked bread.
Small differences? Maybe. But consistent differences? Totally. Differences that result in better thoughts, better digestion, a better body and better health. And that, my friends, is the recipe for something most delicious indeed.
The other morning, while working out at the gym, I had a work-related stress playing on an endless loop in my head. Even though the incident had happened a week earlier, I was still obsessing over the whole ordeal (wishing I’d said things I didn’t say at the time, wishing the other party would come to their senses, wishing the whole thing would go away, etc.). Needless to say, my worrying about this incident only made things worse in my mind and even though I’d had a productive workout, left me in a gloomy state of mind as I left the gym.
It was while driving home from working out that I remembered one of the key commands I picked up during dog training that I use pretty frequently with my puppy, Latte.
As anyone who has a dog probably knows, our canine friends occasionally come across a smell, a chicken bone or some other foul object that excites their senses to no end. It’s at this moment that we must command them to “Leave it!” in a terse, authoritative way so that they don’t get into trouble, hurt themselves or (heaven forbid!) end up rolling in something disgusting.
Even though I had been expertly trained to use this command with Latte, I realized after my workout of mental duress that perhaps I needed to use this command on myself. After all, as mentioned, this particular stressful situation had happened a week earlier. So at this point, no one else (not even the offending party) was responsible for my stress and worry other than yours truly. On a virtual level, I was “rolling” in something disgusting. In this case, my own self-defeating thoughts.
So in this case, I was the one who needed to “Leave it!”
When Latte is told to “Leave it,” he usually jumps (having been “caught” doing something that he should know better than to do) and then quickly moves away from the offensive object and is soon distracted by another smell, a passing pooch or some other form of whimsy. Similarly, by telling ourselves to “leave” something that’s weighing us down (figuratively or otherwise), we then, too, have the opportunity to move on to other things — more pleasant things, and with a cleared mind, perhaps even a potential solution to whatever we think we can’t solve while in the throes of “Why me?” We can’t undo what’s transpired. But we can move on if we choose to.
I imagine that, like myself, many of you reading this are sometimes plagued by situations, incidences or predicaments that sometimes can’t be washed away from our brains — as if obsessing over them might offer a solution (which, really, the obsessing never does). Instead, we need to just let it go, move on and welcome another scent (or situation) that can offer us not only new ideas, but also peace.
All together now: “Leave it!”
I’ll conclude by adding that if you ever see me working out with a scowl, feel free to walk over and tersely tell me to, “Leave it!” Like my puppy, Latte, I might jump (having also been “caught”). But I’ll appreciate the reminder that some things need to be left where they belong… In the past.
Have you ever wondered which is healthier for you — wild-caught salmon or farmed salmon? Or when at a restaurant, wondered what visual references you should use to determine how much to eat during one sitting?
Here, I’ve compiled some of your recent “Most Asked Questions” with my answers – along with some exclusive “Just Stop Bonus Tips.” Think of each of these as a calorie-free bonbons (of sorts) – each meant to enrich your life, not to mention help further your quest toward feeling and looking great.
Question: Which is healthier for you? Wild-caught salmon or farmed salmon?
Answer: Wild-caught salmon is healthier, because it contains less pollutants than farm-raised salmon.
Just Stop! Bonus Tip: If only farm-raised is available, remove the skin from the farmed salmon (since most of the pollutants are stored in the fat) and cook the salmon all the way through.
Question: Is bottled water better for you than tap water?
Answer: No. Although popular, a recent 4-year study reveals that bottled-water offers no more benefits – or even purity – than tap water. Plus, plastic bottles pollute our world and use up natural resources (not to mention cost way more than simply going to the kitchen sink).
Just Stop! Bonus Tip: Drink from the tap – but be sure to investigate your local water supplies health ratings and even install a filter on the sink itself for when using it for drinking water.
Question: Which is the better choice? Butter or margarine?
Answer: Butter – hands down. Although equaling about the same calories and saturated fat found in butter, margarine also contains dangerous trans fats – usually about 2-3 grams per teaspoon.
Just Stop! Bonus Tip: The less processed and more natural a food product is, the healthier it is for you – even if it’s higher in calories and/or fat.
Question: When you can’t control portion size at a restaurant, what visual reference should you use to determine how much of a single serving of meat you should eat at one sitting?
Answer: About 3-4 ounces – approximately the same size of a deck of cards.
Just Stop! Bonus Tip: When your food arrives, cut off the portion you’re going to eat and take the rest home to enjoy at another meal.
Question: Which fruit juice is better for you – one that’s virtually clear, or one that appears “cloudy”?
Answer: The murkier the juice, the more antioxidants it contains.
Just Stop! Bonus Tip: The more “clear” the juice appears to be, the more processed it is (and therefore has had much of the actual fruit removed).
The more we know, the more successful we can be. And that’s something to make our heart happy (not to mention heart healthy) every day of the year.
Have questions beyond the ones you see above? Use the contact portion of this blog to let me know what they are and they might be used (and answered) in a future post! (Thanks!)
Photo Source: All Things D
As people who are either working on losing excess weight or making sure we keep it off, it should be our goal to be healthy across the board. This means skin that glows (in other words, skin that reflects how healthy we are on the inside) — no matter how cold it is outside. So here are some helpful tips on making the most of your winter skincare:
H2O a go-go
Just because you’re not feeling as hot (temperature-wise) doesn’t mean you should ease up on the necessary amount of water you should drink per day (depending on your individual needs). Consuming water is good for your internal system year round. When that’s operating at peak capacity, your skin (and everything else) is going to reflect it with a healthy glow. So even if you’re not feeling as parched as you might in the middle of July, keep up the water drinking habit 24/7/365. (Well, not while you’re asleep — but you get the idea.) To help calculate how much water you should be drinking a day, click here.
When it comes to protecting your lips, not all lipbalms are created equal. Look for a formula with shea butter, which goes on soft (as opposed to waxy). If you’re wearing color on your lips, choose a lipstick with lip balm built in (you want to moisturize while you glamorize).
Most hairstylists will tell you that during the winter your hair doesn’t need washed as often as it does during the warmer months of the year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t “clean” your hair. But try using shampoo on one day, conditioner on the next and then just hot water (along with a vigorous scalp massage) on the day after. Try this routine out and your hair just might thank you for it — by looking healthier (please don’t expect a verbal thank you from your hair).
Give Yourself a Hand
Hands have fewer oil glands, which means they get drier faster than the rest of your body. Thus, it’s important to moisturize your hands often during winter months — especially if, like me, you’re constantly washing your hands (sometimes with harsh soaps) in order to avoid winter-related germs. And if the temperatures are especially frigid outside, don’t forget the gloves (needed as much for comfort as they are for protection).
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave the house without your SPF in place on your exposed skin. Look for moisturizing formulas with an SPF of 15 (a more reasonable amount recommended for winter months, as opposed to SPF 30, which is recommended by dermatologists during the summer). Don’t forget that when the sun is shining, cancer-causing UVA rays can even pass through car windows — no matter how cold it is outside.
With moisturizing lotion, that is. This reccomendation applies to your face as much as it does to your body. The same moisturizer you use during the summer doesn’t offer the necessary protection you need for winter’s chill (and winds) — no matter what your home turf’s version of winter is. When it comes to a skin moisturizer for the body, (again) look for something with shea butter listed in the ingredients. As for the face, skip the gel-based formulas you might use in the summer and look for something with a creamier base.
Most skin care specialists recommend not painting your toe nails if they’re going to be covered up during winter months (more to give your toe nails a break from harsh polish removers than anything else). A sweet evening footcare routine can include moisturizing your tootsies with foot cream and then putting on your favorite pair of wooly socks to help encourage the cream to do its best work.
Do you have any winter rituals you put into play for your own skincare routines at this time of year? If so, I’d love to hear them. Until then, please stay warm — weather you’re facing a Southern California winter (like me) or something a little more extreme.
Photo Source: 7 Beauty Tips