Coming Clean

One woman’s honest quest to clean up her unhealthy life for herself and her family.

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Experience Life Magazine

Fish Stories

Last weekend’s record-threatening snowfall allowed me some free time to try a few new recipes. Kyle made lasagna and pot roast, both classic winter comfort foods, and I tried out a recipe for cajun rainbow trout I found on Whole Foods Market’s Web site.

CompleteMeal.jpgI’ve been shopping around Minneapolis and St. Paul for the best organic and most-nutritious ingredients, and have split my time between Whole Foods Market, the Seward Co-op and Mississippi Market, which is where I found this great trout from Star Prairie Trout Farm.

Trout.jpgI had heard about Star Prairie before and tasted their fish at local restaurants, but usually find myself a little anxious to cook fish at home. Will I overcook it, thus rendering it dry? How do I clean it? How do I season it? To broil, bake or grill? With so many questions, I usually avoid bringing fish into my kitchen. This is a shame, as particularly fatty fish, such as salmon, offer health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, which provide an array of benefits, including boosting cardiovascular health and lowering inflammation. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that two weekly servings of fish rich in omega-3 fats could replace a daily fish-oil supplement. I already take a daily multivitamin, B vitamin complex, vitamin D and vitamin C (in the winter), CoQ10 and fish oil, so it would be nice to take one less pill. I’m looking to add a fish dish every week, so send me your recipes and I’ll give ‘em a try. My favorites will make the blog!

If you are looking for more guidance on shopping for fish, check out “Good Fishing” in our June 2010 issue of Experience Life, or find recipes in Fish Forever by fishmonger Paul Johnson.

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Experience Life Magazine

Snowed In

For those living in the Midwest or Northwest, a good, heavy snowfall gets the top slot on the evening news. I’ve grown up in Minnesota, so I’m not usually startled by a deep freeze, and this weekend’s record-threatening snow accumulation — while nothing to sneeze at — didn’t do much to upset me. Some inconveniences in travel, yes, but, in fact, I was all for it Saturday: Kyle had made a trip to the grocery store on Friday before the snow started so we had food and supplies, including pet food, kitty litter and toilet paper. We had heard estimates between 12 and 24 inches, so many people had taken similar precautions. If you saw extreme weather this weekend, I hope you found shelter and safety, and limited your travel. Many people canceled their weekend plans — two of the three parties I had planned on attending were called off. Even Life Time Fitness closed its Minnesota locations early, at 6 p.m.

We pulled the cars into the garage early, and kept up with the shoveling while the dogs played in the snow. With no place to go, we just sat and watched it fall, and it really was a beautiful sight.

It’s times like this that remind me to slow down, relax and, most importantly, be flexible. I would have loved to visit with friends and family this weekend, but Mother Nature had other plans. In the end, it was nice to catch up on some housework, read, and watch a movie. With the busyness of the holiday season, it was a welcome respite in my hectic schedule. And a good reminder to take a moment every day to breathe deep and go with the flow, because we can’t control everything — and that can be a wonderful thing.

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Experience Life Magazine

Holiday-Season Slimdown

Last year’s Thanksgiving meal was a turning point in my holiday-food consumption. Historically, I’d use the holidays as an excuse to eat anything and everything in sight. Thanksgiving, in particular, was about how much food I could get onto one plate and how many times I could return to the buffet. And I wasn’t going back for salad, oh no: stuffing, brown-sugar-and-butter-coated sweet potatoes or another slice of pie were the only foodstuffs I could see.

However, after last year’s meal, I’ve changed my approach. I’ve lost that voracious appetite and replaced it with a desire to eat homemade, from-scratch, nutritious recipes, allowing myself to savor every bite. This year I shared cranberry sauce with candied ginger, Especially Good sweet potatoes and green beans with shallots and almonds, all of which were a hit. (Thanks to Whole Foods Market’s recipe box for those tasty and healthy dishes!) I still enjoyed a slice of pie and a scoop of stuffing, but I kept my portion sizes small.

Part of my influence came from the diet I was on at the time, part came from leaner times for my business, but mostly, I think I had just started to look at food differently last year. The points-based diet I was in 2009 had me looking at the food in front of me as a number; my work this year with our magazine now allows me to see my meals as nourishment and has encouraged me to seek food that will be filling, energizing and healing. It’s been a welcome change for my relationship with food — we get along much better now, thank you.

Still, while making peace is a huge step, I feel like this holiday season needs to be different. With all the parties and events, family get-togethers, dinners out with friends, is it possible to actually lose weight during the holidays? We’ve all heard that the old report of an average 7- to 10-pound weight gain this time of year is bunk, and that it’s really only 1 pound, on average. However, a study from Tufts University found that people who were already overweight gain more, closer to 5 pounds, in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. (Although, can that be attributed to our current habits — if we’re overweight and like food, wouldn’t we eat more as it becomes available to us? I know I do.) With 34 percent of American adults overweight, that 5-pound possibility can be really discouraging.

So I think we need to make a new plan. I say we need to use this time as motivation — this is a season to lose weight. Think of it as the ultimate gift: a healthier body. (Quite frankly, I think this is why I struggle to name what I want for Christmas when my family asks: I usually say snowpants or long underwear or snowshoes, items that will support my healthy outdoor activities, because all I really want is to be slimmer and fitter and feel better in this body. It’s the only gift I truly want, but only I can make it happen.) I’m using today to kick-off my Holiday Season Slimdown! Who’s with me?

If you’re on board but find yourself struggling with food temptations, check out this month’s “Holiday Food Frustration” article. I also picked up some tips in today’s live Twitter chat with our fitness editor, Jen Sinkler, and @MizFitOnline, who suggested to shift the focus to friends and family and the non-food and non-drink experiences of the holidays, and to make a plan, list your stress triggers, and create non-food ways to deal (find their chat on Twitter under #ELfit).

Let me know how you are doing and how you’ve coped with challenges during this busy time of year. Another great gift: support from our awesome community of readers! Let’s help keep each other on track!

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