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June 2009

I love you, TheraFlu!

Cold remedy montage

I'm on Day 4 of some sort of flu (swine or otherwise) and because of that I've been swigging down the TheraFlu (at least during the day). One of the ingredients is decongestant, which absolutely kills my appetite. So far I'm down nearly 5 pounds since the weekend, which is great, seeing that it's almost vacation time.

I've been eating my Nutrisystem-D plan faithfully but not eating a whole lot more than the entrees. I know you're supposed to add in fruits, veggies and dairy but I'm just not hungry. I am adding in the fruit, since I figure the antioxidants and vitamins are good for me and because my husband went grocery shopping and got a little carried away in the produce department. We've got a bowl of blackberries in the fridge big enough to feed a football team.

I've also been skipping the evening graze, replacing it with a big cup of decaf tea.

As I start to feel a little better I'm adding back food but still I'm not that hungry. I'm going to use this as a teaching moment to see that I really can stick to the Nutrisystem plan and not feel hungry.

Get Fit Friday: Dancin' Abs by Jazzercise DVD

Jazzercise Dancin Abs DVD My regular Jazzercise class has been shoved into a tiny conference room for the summer. Besides the fact that it smells like an armpit halfway through class, it's far too small and the acoustics seem to magnify the infantile shrieking of some of the participants (I don't mind an occasional "whoop!" now and then but this is ambulance-style noise).

So while I wait for the return to the rec center gymnasium, I'll happily be working out to the new Jazzercise DVD. Just out, it's called Dancin' Abs by Jazzercise and it's fantastic.

Dancinabs The lead instructor is Jazzercise VP Shanna Missett Nelson (Judi's daughter) and she takes turns leading the workout with the energetic Young McCarthy. There are also 4 background exercisers who are Jazzercise instructors.

It's basically one workout, like nearly all Jazzercise DVDs are, but you can choose whether to do a 60-minute or 30-minute workout. Both workouts include an active warmup and cooldown. There's also a little behind-the-scenes video of the making of the DVD.

The workout is innovative in that it's designed to work your core without the traditional floorwork. There are lots of standing crunches, oblique work and core-strengthening work. But it's all done in a funky dance-oriented way. You won't realize your toning your midsection until the next day when your core will feel tightened and activated (I know mine did).

For Jazzercise class enthusiasts, you'll recognize routines done to the songs Repeat Performance, Love Will Save the Day and the reason I bought the DVD, Text Me. It is an awesomely funky routine and works the core like crazy. Plus you'll pick up some mad dance-floor skills.

Couple of important points: The workouts are modified a bit for the home workout, so you won't need a lot of floor space (it's not a "floor hog"). And like any dance aerobics workout I suggest doing it on a hard surface if possible. It really helps with the moves and can prevent knee injuries from bad twists.

The DVD is available at (HERE) and it's $16.99 plus $5.95 shipping, which is extremely quick. I got my DVD within three days of ordering. It's also available from Collage Video for the same price.

All-Bran rolled fiber wafers rock and roll!

Allbranfiberwafers While grocery shopping over the weekend, I spotted boxes of Kellogg's All-Bran Rolled Fiber Wafers. They look just like those cereal straws that Kellogg's makes but the big diff is that three of these tubes are packed with 10 grams of fiber. So I bought a box.

Pirouettes that make you poop!

I got the chocolate ones, and yes, you can slurp up liquids with them just like the kiddie varieties. They're really tasty, and three wafers are 130 calories and 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams sat fat. They're a good size, about the length of a pencil and the thickness of an index finger.

So no, they're not health food, but if you have a hankering for crunchy chocolatey cookies, at least you'll get a load of fiber in these.

Get Fit Friday: Hit the pool for a water workout

Most of the time, the backyard pool is something to clean, stare at and occasionally throw buckets of money at to repair.

So why not use it?

In many Sunbelt states a pool is standard equipment for many backyards and we tend to take them for granted. So last week, with the kid home from school, I decided I'd take the plunge with him instead of watching from the sidelines.

I jumped into the pool and quickly realized that I was wearing the wrong suit. The two-piece "jogkini" (fitted waist-length top and boxer-style shorts), is fine for hanging around the beach or the pool but not good for jumping in and swimming. Too many air pockets made me look like a Macy's balloon.

I swam some laps, did some underwater handstands, paddled on a float and jogged across the pool a bunch of times.

But I'm on the prowl for a SWIMsuit. And thanks to Biggest Loser season 7 contestant Laura Denoux, I found a great place. Over on Twitter, she tweeted about a photo shoot she was doing for, so I surfed over and was really impressed with the selection and the prices. (What's up with the price of women's swimsuits anyway? Guys can get a pair of swim trunks for $10 and women can't find a decent suit for under $50 most of the time.)

Swirlsswimsuit At right is an example of a suit from Swimsuits For All that's great for serious swimming but still looks cute. It's from Longitude and it's $49. It  has a sexy mesh top and the neckline is high enough for diving in without things going all kablooey. I noticed that certain styles are very limited in size (this one's only available in sizes 18 and 20), so you have to move quickly.

And if you have issues with your thigh area (yikes, who doesn't?) just get a breezy sarong to wrap around your waist when you get out of the pool. They have them in black, brown and navy for a measly $12.

'Order like you give a damn about losing weight!'

Server taking customer orders

"Order like you give a damn about losing weight!"

That was the verbal smackdown I gave myself before we went out to dinner tonight. I usually do OK at restaurants but often look the other way when cheese, bacon, fries or some other junk finds its way onto my plate. I try not to succumb but "just one" turns into " a little bit" and even a little bit can throw off your calorie count.

I knew the place offered turkey burgers, so I planned on ordering one. I also brought along my secret weapon -- an Arnold's Sandwich Thin, in a Ziploc bag tucked into my purse.

If this place was uncharted territory, I would have checked to see whether it had a menu online -- I Iike to know what I'm getting myself into.

I ordered the turkey burger, which came with either fries, onion rings, cole slaw or pasta salad. "Can I have salad salad?" I asked.

"Sure, but that'll be an extra dollar," said the waitress. And pay I did. Actually my parents paid.

I made sure the dressing came on the side and did the fork trick (dip fork in dressing then into salad), I swapped out the big, fluffy bun for the Sandwich Thin, and had a perfectly lovely dinner. And mooched an onion ring from my kid.

What made dinner taste even better was the fact that I stuck to my guns and did the right thing.

Get Fit Friday: Evening workout, gossip sesh and perfect squats

I had a session left with my trainer, and because I had a previous appointment (which ended up canceling on me), we made the training time for 6 p.m.

I'm a big fan of morning workouts, simply because it's a quick check on the to-do list and you don't have the whole day to come up with excuses not to work out.

I also like to think that the theory of the post-workout metabolic rev-up is correct. But hey, any time you work out is the best time.

Young Women Gossiping

The gym was packed with the after-work crowd, but we stuck to the cable machine and the training room so crowds weren't an issue. Actually the crush of people made the workout more fun because my trainer loves to people-watch, as do I, so we spent the time commenting on the workout crowd.

  • "Why are those women working out with their hair down? Sweaty hair is gross."
  • "That woman has eyebrows tattooed on!"
  • "Oooh, not a good outfit for her."

Sure, it's catty but this is South Florida where there is no shortage of colorful characters.

Aside from the people watching, I did learn a great way to do squats. By holding on to the waist-high handle on the cable machine, I was able to go down 90 degrees while keeping my back straight, maximizing the effectiveness of the squats.

Jammin' with the superfruits


I'm not a big fan of those "all fruit" spreads that claim to be all natural. Be it strawberry, blueberry or peach, they pretty much all taste the same because they're usually full of clarified grape and/or pear juice.

But there's a new quartet of fruit spreads just out that blows the big guys' selections out of the water.  Crofter's Organic Superfruit Spreads are made with berries from all corners of the Earth:

  • North American blend: Cranberry and Blueberry
  • South American blend: Berry Maqui and Passionfruit
  • European blend: Pomegranate and Black Currant
  • Asian blend: Yumberry and Raspberry

All the varieties are blended with Morello Cherries and Red Grapes and organic Fair Trade sugar. They're also 30 calories a tablespoon, which is 10 fewer than the regular supermarket fruit spreads.

There are big chunks and sometimes whole berries in the fruit spreads, and all of the featured fruits are extremely high in antioxidants, so it's all good.

In addition to the usual uses (toast, PB&J), they're fantastic swirled into plain yogurt or spread onto waffles.

You can find the spreads in Whole Foods nationally and also at specialty natural and organic grocery stores.

5 things I have learned while doing Nutrisystem

Nutrisystemfood I've been doing Nutrisystem for the past month, trying out their new Nutrisystem-D program for diabetics. I'm not diabetic but the program can be great for anyone hoping to get their blood sugar down to a healthier level.

I'm switching over to the regular women's program this month, to see the difference.

Problem is, I'm a notoriously bad dieter. I think it's because I have an "all or nothing" approach to plans. Either I'm on 100 percent or I'm off -- and I need to change that mindset. So I'm going to do that this month. I did lose a few pounds in May but not the kind of results that make me happy. June will be better because I feel more in control now. But here are 5 things I've learned while doing Nutrisystem:

  1. Eating more fruits and vegetables is the key to happiness. Sure, some of the entrees may look dinky but if you mix them with a cup of cooked veggies your entree will be far more filling. For instance, I mixed my Pasta Parmesan with Broccoli with a cup of cooked broccoli and turned that little cardboard cup of lunch into a pretty big meal. Plus, the added produce adds to the already substantial fiber content of the Nutrisystem food, so I'm rarely hungry.
  2. I have a whole new appreciation for portion control. Ever since I've been doing Nutrisystem, I've realized that I can get by on smaller meals.
  3. Make the program work for you. This is what I wasn't doing the first month. If we were going to a baseball game and I couldn't smuggle an entree into my handbag I would consider the whole day shot. Now, instead, I think about the day ahead, plan out my meals, and if I can't do a Nutrisystem meal, I plan out a balanced substitute meal.
  4. Dairy products are very filling. For my dairy/protein addition to the plan, I usually reach for 2/3 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt or those great little individual 3/4-ounce pieces of Cabot 50 Percent Reduced Fat Cheddar. Occasionally I'll use an ounce of deli turkey breast wrapped around a carrot or celery stick.
  5. I feel more in control of my diet when I have limited choices. The night before, I grab a breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner from my Nutrisystem stash and know that I won't have to think too much about my eating plan for the day. And even though my day is planned out, I still make sure to journal what I'm eating, because all the add-ins (fruit, veggies, dairy, fat, protein) can add up.