Mamavation Monday: Bring in ‘da Food, Bring in ‘da Funk

For may of us who struggle with our weight, this week is very stressful. For me, cooking a huge meal for the people I love is awesome. I enjoy showing those I love and care about how much they mean to me, and creating a special meal of Thanks Giving is one way to do that. At the same time, though, there is anxiety about seeing all. that. food!

It starts in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Food shopping, food prep, baking, chopping, organizing, and making sure there are plenty of hor d’oeuvres in addition to the plethora of main dishes, sides, salads and desserts for the big meal. Oh, and let’s not forget that we actually need to eat on those days leading up to Thanksgiving, lest we pass out long before the turkey-coma sets in on Thursday.

Making Thanksgiving dinner is one way many of us actually exert our control over the day. We use all the knowledge we have to plan a menu that incorporates skim milk instead of heavy cream or full-fat milk, we sauté in heart-healthy olive oil instead of butter, we make sure there are plenty of veggies and that the desert options include something we can partake in even after a full meal. But the realty is that sometimes we throw our hands up and convince ourselves that one meal with butter, extra helpings of sweet potato casserole (never mind that the nutritional value went out the window when we added the 5 eggs, 1/2 cup of white sugar and brown sugar and the pecan streusel topping) and bread and dressing and that cheesy-broccoli-rice bake that everyone loves (in which there really wasn’t much broccoli hurt in the making of it) won’t really hurt.

But it does. We think about this week and what it will mean for us, constantly. We ‘eat right’ on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and don’t lick the bowl on the cheesecake and brownies and fudge and cookies – until about 9pm Wednesday evening when panic sets in. How are we going to get it all done? Maybe no one will like our sugar-free casserole or our fat-free mashed potatoes. Maybe we should taste them ‘just to be sure’. And darn it, they do kinda suck. Ugh! It’s just one done. One day won’t hurt! So off to make more food, to make sure everyone knows how much we love them. And the butter. Need more butter!

So let’s step back a moment. We cook for our families almost every day. They know we love them. And yes, Thanksgiving Day is special. It’s a day set aside to make sure that those around us, and even ourselves, know how grateful we are that they are part of our lives. And that, my friends, is our motivation. Being healthy ensures we are around. Active. Involved. Part of their lives. Enjoying ours.

Thanksgiving began as a feast, as was customary when welcoming guests. Just as today, we create special meals when we welcome guests. But unlike then, we didn’t trudge miles nor did we hunt and gather our own food (although, grocery stores this time of year can be treacherous). Our Thanksgiving day consists of doing nothing but eating, hanging out and watching TV. Sure, there may a walk, a hike or a workout in there. But, in general, it’s food, food and more food.

Just writing this stresses me out. I want to be here for my friends and family for years to come. Overflowing table of food or not, remembering the importance of this Thanksgiving Day is key to maintaining focus an truly enjoying the reason for the day. It’s not about the food. Never has been. Never will be. It’s about the people in our lives who love us, who care about us and who want us here for years to come.

This year, I’m still not sure what I’d going to do for Thanksgiving. I have a huge Turkey already defrosting that no one wants to eat. I just came back from a terrific vacation and don’t feel like going to the store. I am grateful that I have the choice not to make a feast if I so choose. And I’m grateful that I have the willpower (even if it is weak some times) to say not to foods I really don’t want or know I really shouldn’t have.

We all look forward to Thanksgiving to be around people we love and care about, to be thankful for the many gifts we have been given so far this year. If the day was more about the people and less about the food, would it stress you out as much?

Photo Credit: Public Domain

This post was written for the cash giveaway by Successful Blogging and RocketFuel who connect brands with bloggers.


Mamavation Monday: Lunch at Epcot

As I mentioned last week, meal planning for Disney World can take a lot of the worry out of what to eat. When you’re looking for something quick so you can get back to the rides and attractions, often it’s easy to find a place that serves burgers. One advantage of planning ahead is knowing what park I was going to be at so I can figure out where we’d eat lunch. BabyGirl had a chemistry class at Epcot so I knew we’d get lunch when she was done.

One of my favorite places in Future World at Epcot is Sunshine Seasons because the focus is on using local ingredients. It’s not all local and natural but one of the new offerings for lunch is this beautiful beet salad. As a lover of beets, I was so excited! The field greens are lightly dressed with a light orange vinaigrette. It was so light that there was no sign of dressing on the plate. And the goat cheese was just the right amount to add something creamy and tangy to the sweet beets and crispy greens.

So it is possible to have a tasty lunch that won’t break your calorie bank! It does take some planning, but like going anywhere new it’s just a little extra time. I had to think outside the box a bit for my lunch and be willing to look at all the options. And because the online menus are not updated since Disney changes things up periodically, I had to take time to check out everything at this restaurant before settling on my lunch. But, just like trying something new at home a little investment of time can pay off big dividends.

Don’t fear vacation dining! Know your limits and be willing to be flexible and you’ll find success too!



Mamavation Monday: Planning Ahead for Disney World

I’m in the final stages of vacation planning. The suitcases are out and the packing list actually has things checked off and there are piles of clothes, toiletries and extras waiting to be organized so there are no over-weight baggage fees. See, even my luggage needs some mamavation!

I’ve spent the past several months planning out this vacation. We’re making our annual trek to Walt Disney World and with that comes making sure many of our meals are arranged in advance. Unlike most vacations where you can almost always find something to eat within a few minutes, Disney World requires planning. Restaurants are often full at peak dining times and unless you are lucky, it is a real possibility that you’ll be eating fast food (or Counter Service or Quick Serve meals, as it is known at the House of Mouse). I don’t eat burgers, chicken nugget and hot dogs too frequently when I’m at home so I’m definitely not going to eat them for multiple meal when I’m on vacation. Besides, I think vegetable should be involved – and no, iceberg lettuce and hot house tomatoes on a cheeseburger don’t count.

Since it’s not our first trip to Disney I’m pretty familiar with most of the restaurants where we’ll eat. And, again, this year we’re not on the dining plan because I have a really hard time with most of the kid’s menus having high fat and fried foods. Also, we’ve found that we either eat too much or waste food. Neither of which are good.

One of the biggest concerns I hear about people vacationing at Disney is they worry about what they eat. It’s very easy to be tempted. I know where every churro, Dole Whip, Chocolate Covered Mickey ice cream and frozen coke stand is located. And let’s not even mention that I’ll be there for the final weekend of the Food & Wine Festival and will be surrounded by such deliciousness that just typing this makes my mouth water.

Family vacations can often be stressful, and a full day at the Disney Parks is right up there. Eating a healthy meal should not add to the stress. With a little planning ahead, I know where I can get quick snacks to tide me over without breaking my calorie bank. I also know that Disney is supportive of my healthy eating so I can ask for modifications to my meal to help me stay within my allotted points budget.

I look forward to the favorites such as Le Cellier, Crystal Palace and Citricos as well as all the new booths at the Food & Wine festival at Epcot as well as Saana at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Even more exciting is knowing that I have a plan that will work not only for me, but also my family. And one that does include Dole Whip, Mickey Waffles and Pretzel Bread.

When you’re on vacation do you make sure you stay on plan or do you give yourself permission to throw caution to the wind?


Mamavation Monday: Everything In Moderation

The saying goes, Everything in Moderation. Even Julia Child believed that any food could be enjoyed regardless of what your dietary needs were in terms of calories. Fifty years ago no one was really all that concerned with fat grams, calories, trans fats, fiber content, or carbohydrates. Really, these are concerns of the excesses left over from the 1980s and 90s. I’m not sure what the impetus was that got us focused on these things, but I’m not sure it was a good thing.

So here we are now, turning over packages and reading labels very closely. This, I’m all for. I think it’s made us more aware of the stuff in our food that isn’t real and has gotten many of us to return to fresh foods. At the same time, we have more dining out options than 20 years ago and are faced with the uncertainties of that experience. In addition, we socialize more with friends and family, thus requiring us to eat food prepared by others who may not be as focused on their daily food intake as we are.

This is where the idea of everything in moderation comes in. Sure, when we’re at a restaurant we can ask for our veggies steamed with no butter and push the bread basket aside. We can ask for no sauce or gravy and pass on the dessert menu. We can go to our friend’s house and no have wine or a cocktail, instead opting for club soda or sparkling water. We can restrain ourselves from the ooey-gooey, cheesy side dishes by loading up more crudité or fruit.

The reality though is it’s not alway easy. We don’t want to offend a friend who has made a delicious meal. We may want to share an entree with a family member. And, really, we want to enjoy our food and not feel like our only option is some rabbit food and a glass of water.

This is where everything in moderation comes in. No one said we had to eat a man-size meal, have 3 cocktails, or take one of everything from the buffet. If we’re not sure what’s in something and we need to manage calories, fat, points, grams or whatever we’re allowed to take a very small amount. And if it appears to be swimming in butter, oil or something we’re not willing to try then pass it up. But we can’t feel paralyzed by the choice in front of us. We’re strong! We can make good choices! And it’s not the end of the world if we do have 2 pieces of cake or fried chicken or mashed potatoes with butter and cream.

Every day we make hundreds of choice. For 90% of them we don’t think twice, we just decide and move on. It’s those 10% of the choices that we spend 90% of our day beating ourselves up for. We second, third and fourth guess ourselves about choices, especially food choice, that we can’t take back. Can we offset some of the food choices where we’ve strayed? Absolutely!

Being mindful is an important part of every day. Besides remembering that we’re not in this alone, if we remember the little phrase everything in moderation success is just a decision away.

I’ll leave you with this little gem my first Weight Watchers leader said (frequently): Nothing tastes as good as the first bite.

How will you feel if you remind yourself that nothing is off limits, everything in moderation.

Image: public domain


Mamavation Monday: Size Lies

You know that if Barbie was real she’d be like 8 feet tall and have a waist the size of your wrist, right? And bewbies the size of a small Hawaiian island. Yes? I know that’s not totally true, but it’s close. But we’re on the same page, correct?

When you last went shopping did you have to try on 5 different sizes, depending on the store, designer, piece of clothing? I went shopping this past weekend – I know, it was a miracle – and got so frustrated. I’m no skinny-minnie and I’m working on being more comfortable in my skin. But, seriously, nothing is more dejecting than grabbing the same size I’ve been wearing for 3 years only to have to wriggle and squirm to end up looking like a kielbasa gone wrong.

Spanks couldn’t save this experience. I’d have to wear something more akin to a spanks-atard from my neck to my knees. Talk about wanting to cry. And I won’t even discuss those fun-house mirrors they put in women’s dressing rooms. It was terrible. I tried on a dress that I knew should be too big because I have a hard time fitting my hips so it doesn’t look like it’s pulling. Instead, it was horrible! The cut was huge on top and could barely fit the bottom half of me.

What’s wrong with designers? I’m not sure what kind of fit models they’re using, but I’m not sure if they’re real women. I know we all come in different shapes, but this fit model must not have hips or a butt or thighs.

So I put the dress back on the hanger knowing I won’t be buying it, despite it being pretty, purple – my favorite color after black – and on super amazing 65% off clearance. It was going to be great! Until it wasn’t.

Next up was a casual dress from a designer I already have one dress from. In the same size. So imagine my surprise when I put on what I had hoped to be another dress which would kept me off ‘What Not To Wear’ for at least another month only to be disappointed and left wondering if maybe I grabbed the smaller size. But I didn’t and I’m left feeling down. I’m trying to lose weight. I’m seeing result and then I’m left feeling dejected by a letter or number on a tag.

Who are these people making clothes? Why can’t a size be a size be a size? Why do I have to play ‘Fit or No Fit’ in the dressing room?

This is why I buy shoes!

Image: photostock /


Mamavation Monday: Foiling the Need to Nibble

Every great chef tastes as they cook, right? As long as it’s not a ‘double dip’, tasting is just part of cooking. Go ahead, just nod in agreement. It’ll make me feel better.

But what happens to all those fractional calories from tasting, nibbling, and licking the spoon? They’re free! As in free to go to my hips, that is.

Years ago I used to chew gum, constantly. Not smacking or anything, but just chewing gum as a way not to feel the need to eat. And in giving up chewing gum, long story but I no longer chew gum regularly, I’ve found that when I cook or bake tasting has become more and more a part of food prep.

As I begin the weekly challenge of stepping on the scale I am more mindful of what I eat. Especially that all those little nibbles can add up. Sure, I know there has to be some tasting along the way so I can get the seasoning right. But, it seems that there is a bit more ‘one for you, one for me’ going on than there should be.

I watch that show Next Food Network Star and get totally skeeved out when I see them tasting and putting the spoon back in. It’s starting to make me more mindful of my tasting. And it’s making me realize that there are times when I’ve tasted what would likely be more calories than I’m willing to admit?

Are you a taster? How do you stop yourself from eating as you cook?

image credit: public domain


Mamavation Monday: Food Rewards

As a child, good behavior usually meant being rewarded with food. It created a strange relationship with food. I knew food was everyday sustenance. But I was also learning that if you achieved something, had a great day, pushed through something hard to finally accomplish it then there would be some type of food at the end. Usually, it was sweets or some type of ‘treat’.

I’ve had an odd relationship with food since childhood. It is not my friend. I like good food, don’t get me wrong. I like sweets and savory foods. Bitter and salty too. A lot of foods don’t like me. But I keep trying new and different ones.

Food is so much a part of our culture – from birth to death, nearly every event is punctuated with food. Good day – celebrate with food. Bad day – drown it with food. Bored – nibble away. Excited … you get the picture!

The problem is that most of these events don’t include ‘healthy’ food. It doesn’t have to be a rabbit food fest, but I’m often left looking for healthy alternatives. I understand that it’s not everyone else’s responsibility to provide ‘good’ for me food, it’s my responsibility to make good choices. But some times it’s so hard when every event is punctuated with food. Tempting sweets, dips, chips and oh so delicious morsels.

There have been times when I’ve conquered the food demons and have walked away feeling like I’m winning. Although, just as food may have a tight grasp in the hand-to-mouth process there are times when I feel like I had the upper hand, yet I still don’t feel in control.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who saw food for what it was, nourishment and sustenance. I want to embrace what one of my Weight Watchers leaders said years ago – nothing tastes as good as the first bite. It’s often really true. We just want that one bite, but can’t stop. I know that’s true for me some time.

The relationship with food is something we learn. That mean we can also unlearn the unhealthy part. Unlearing is sooooo hard! It takes something like 23 bazillion times longer to unlearn a habit. I think I’m about a tenth of the way there on some things. I’ll keep plugging away, though. Maybe it’s an exponential thing and one day it’ll all fall in to place. Until then, I’m like Dory in Finding Nemo and I’ll just keep swimming!

What is your relationship with food? Do you feel that food sometimes just looks at you and mocks you? (or is it just me it’s mocking?)

image credit: photos8


Mamavation Monday: Connecting The Dots

I started out writing these Mamavation Monday posts as a way to support my friend Heather, who has now lost inches and pounds and is looking quite svelte. Me? I’ve made strides. I am more conscientious of my water intake, especially when I spend hours at work on the computer.

Dots image I’m feeling the need to connect many of the Mamavation dots – water, food choices, taking care of me, slowing down. I tell myself all the time that I’ve done this before, I can surely do this again. I wasn’t given food, I was taught how to garden. I know how this thing works. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, relax, enjoy life. Sounds really simple, right?

Yet here I sit on a Sunday morning at the local coffee shop trying to get ahead, while feeling like I’m actually playing catch up. BabyGirl is at religious school and instead of just relaxing with a book or going for a walk I’m getting all wound up because the week is starting and I’m already feeling like I won’t be able to do everything I want.

Last week, my friend Carrie suggested a book she’s been reading. Named for the number of hours in a week, 168 Hours, You Have More Time Than You Think is supposed to help you see where you spend your time and cut out the waste. My first thought was “do they have this on audio book?”, which they probably don’t because that’s kind of counter productive*. My problem isn’t so much where I spend my time, though. I will grab a copy of the book to check it out and glean some insight into determining how I can pare down my un-productive time.

As I’m in the coffee shop I start wondering if maybe I should just load up some music and for these few hours go for a walk. Sure, sounds great! It’s even tolerable outside now that it’s only in the high 90s. Will I do it though? Or will I just move down ‘exercise’ on my To Do list because other things are ‘more important’. Other things that are more important than ME, like grocery shopping or re-writing my To Do list because surely there are more things I should be doing.

Instead, I actually looked up if there was a Weight Watchers meeting during this time. I’m a life member so I may as well just go full circle and head back to where the buck stopped five years ago when I hit my goal weight of 144 and kept the weight off through my of my emotional angst. I obviously need something other than a weekly post or hanging my head in shame for not eating breakfast.

Now, to just suck it up and realize that going back to Weight Watchers doesn’t mean I’ve failed. All it means is that I’m returning back to my village. The village that won’t judge me for what I did while I was away. The village that thinks I’m already beautiful. The village that makes healthy a priority.

Like Hansel and Gretel who left bread to find their way back home, I’ve left clues along the way so I can find my way back to where I felt the best. I’m sure you have those clues too. How are you getting back to you?

* nope, as a matter of fact, there is an audiobook version of 168 hours – which I did not buy.

image credit: public domain


Mamavation Monday: Slowing Down

Treadmill photo by

photo credit:

For the past few months, I feel like I’ve been on a treadmill that has slowly started getting faster and faster to the point where I feel like I can’t keep up. I’m not a runner, but when it comes to taking care of myself, my family and my businesses I’m at a full on sprint. Yet the finish line is no where in sight. I’m running a marathon at a 50-yard dash pace. And I need to slow down.

Problem is, I’m not a slow down kinda person. Although, I guess I will be when something happens because I won’t slow down. Also, well, I don’t know how to slow down. I’ve been going all my life. Even on vacation I get agitated just ‘being’. Ask CycleGuy and he’ll even tell you that long before the interent and social media I was a go-go-go type of person.

I am realizing now that I can’t keep doing this. I’m not enjoying my life. It’s all work. And I hear everyone else out playing. I feel like a balloon that’s been blow up to either the point of breaking or, hopefully, being let go to fly around the room like to be left limp and exhausted wherever it happens to land.

In talking to my homeopath last week she looked at me with a stern look, straight into my eyes and told me I need to stop. That I’m not helping myself by feeling I need to be all things to all people. And while I consciously know this, my irrational unconscious self talks smack to me all the time.

So, what to do? Well, slowing down the treadmill should be the logical decision. But all the ‘what if’ scenarios start to play out. What if I don’t return emails within 73 nanoseconds will I been seen as a slacker or unresponsive? What if I give realistic timelines rather than just figuring I’ll stay up until 2am doing work to get it out sooner, will I lose clients? What if? What if?

I know that taking time for myself is important. I encourage others to do it. I, sometimes, even find time to do it myself. I say no to projects, I try to be present. But even with all that, the treadmill seems to be on cruise control well above my set speed limit.

I guess it wont’ matter ‘What if’ if I keep up this pace. But how can I slow down without being a disappointment or failure?


Mamavation Monday: You Can’t Do It Alone

photo credit: public domain

Recently Bookieboo put out a call to husband and wife teams for the newest Mamavation campaign. I thought it was a great idea because it’s something I hear about often – my husband doesn’t support this new lifestyle or even my husband is sabotaging my weight loss efforts. It makes me so sad.

It makes me sad because I’m so fortunate that CycleGuy is right there to help whenever I need. When I joined Weight Watchers years ago and came home with books filled with points information, he actually read them and even encouraged me to buy the book with the dining out information. He knew the menu items that would work for me.

Even better, he was supportive at home. He was willing to eat all the veggies I prepared. And night after night of chicken and fish. I was lucky he didn’t ask me to bake cookies or buy tempting snacks. If he wanted ice cream he’s get it at lunch so I wasn’t tempted. He knew I didn’t have a lot of will power.

Fast forward to the present. For the past four years I’ve been battling myself. That I’ve gained weight isn’t a surprise. That I am having a hard time getting my brain and body to understand each other is understandable by most people, except me. The frustration doesn’t help the anxiety I feel because I can get myself moving.

Once again, my wonderful husband is my biggest cheerleader. He’s a cyclist, riding almost 200 miles every week. In addition, he works out at lunch. Me? I forget to eat breakfast. Some days I wonder if I walk 200 steps in a day.

For me, I don’t do this alone. But I do this for me. In addition to the Mamavation community I am very fortunate that within my own home I have an amazing cheerleader. I wish everyone’s spouse supported them as much as CycleGuy supports me. Now, if I could support myself a little bit more.

How do you find motivation to make fitness a priority? And can you send some my way?