Healthy Snacks? I’m Thinking Not–Part 1

Happy Tuesday, friends. Hope y’all had a great weekend. I’m working hard at getting back on the blogging track. Thanks for taking the time!

Pet peeves: a subject I can have so much fun with on such a broad spectrum, but I’m limiting it to one. (That’s so I don’t use up all my post ideas all at once! ;))

Weight loss, management, maintenance: call it what you like. I’ve had the questionable joy of struggling with it since childhood. Not where I’d like to be weight-wise—probably never will—but I still have to remain conscious of it daily just to tip the scale where I do so that my clothing fits and I feel good being in my skin.

I’ve done my share of reading on the subject and have learned to apply many principles to my eating and exercise as a result. I’ve blogged about my experiences. (Feel free to check some of those posts out; links are listed below.) And I still click on a headline here and there, just to see what the trends are in ‘healthy’ eating these days.

Last time I did I was terribly disappointed.

People, make sure you take everything you read with a grain of salt and look beyond the surface. I won’t link to the article that fired me up enough to write this post. I will, however, caution everyone who struggles with weight and/or simply adopting a healthier lifestyle to be aware of the traps that are out there.

Case in point: the post I read cited ready-mixed, low-fat yogurts, 100-calorie snack packs and some cereal choices. BTW, the oft-lauded pretzel can be a big-time downfall too.

Here’s my beef: every one of the choices listed was high-fructose corn syrup and/or sugar-loaded.  Unless you’re at an upscale market buying real whole wheat or the multigrain variety, pretzels, cookies, etc are most likely made from base flour products, too. Now there’s a recipe for weight gain, even if you do any of these in moderation, especially if you’re not big on exercise!

Am I saying you should never…? Perish the thought! Nor am I an authority on this subject, just someone sharing from personal experience. I just find myself more and more hesitant to pick up any of the above.

In the interest of keeping this short, I’ll do two posts. Look for my way of jazzing up the health-value of the snack foods listed above later this week.

And here are the links to articles I’ve written related to the above topic:

Newsflash! Bloghopping Can Result in Inspiration—Part 1

Newsflash! Bloghopping Can Cause Inspiration—Part-2

Real Life Game-On! Participant

Change My Self-Image? Uh Yeah!

Can One Book Change Your Life?

Until then, have a wonderful week. If you care to, please SHARE via one of the buttons below! Thanks so much!


Real-Life Game-On Participant!

Happy Thursday, people! Hope all is well with all of you! Looking forward to getting my life back once the US Open Tennis Championship winds down as well as a visit from a pair of Aussie cousins who happen to be in town! Always fun!

And, while we’re dealing in fun, this is why I love the internet. You just never know who you’ll come across, especially once you get yourself all a-Twitter! (Look for an upcoming post on how powerful a social media tool Twitter is, but be warned, I have yet to write it, lol.)

Moving on! Allow my newest on-line friend to introduce herself AND a fun approach to dieting I knew nothing about! Welcome!

Hi! My name is Joanna Clark Dawyd, and I’m excited for the opportunity to be Joanna Aislinn’s guest today.

While browsing on the internet one day, I came across a book, called The Game On! Diet, by Krista Vernoff and AZ Ferguson.  I read reviews, and I was intrigued by the concept. I posted an event on Facebook, inviting some friends I thought might be interested in making healthy lifestyle changes.  To my amazement, twelve people wanted to play!

Now, I must warn you that the book is full of swear words! Usually, I wouldn’t recommend something like that, but to me, the message of this book is worth overlooking a plethora of f-words.

The game involves making healthy choices, in food, exercise, and a few other areas.  But to provide motivation, it turns those choices into a competitive sport!

We began the game on May 16th, with two teams.  The prize at stake: a delicious dinner prepared by the losing team for the winning team. Not all the players knew everyone.  Some only knew one other person.  But one aspect of the game is building a support network, so we each got five points per day for communicating with both teams.  We sent emails back and forth every day, full of trash talk, support, and meal suggestions.

Throughout the four weeks of the game (my team lost, but it was a close race!), I lost about5 pounds.  I discovered that it can be fun to exercise!  Who knew? My kids and I had crazy dance parties, and they “helped” me exercise using the Wii Fit. I rode my bike a lot more than I would have otherwise, taking the kids along in the trailer. I even attempted running a few times.

The most important part of the game and the book is the flexibility.  Exercise is simply defined as activity that raises the heart rate and lasts for 20 minutes. And unlike other diets, this one allows for one entire day off, plus an additional meal off from the rules. ( I still can enjoy my Tim Horton’s Iced Cappuccino!)  The rules also allow 100 free calories of anything each day.  So I can have BBQ sauce on my steak, or butter on my toast if I want too.  This makes it much more likely that I’ll stick to the rules.  If you’re already on a weight loss food plan, you can use that plan and still play the game.

After our game ended, I decided to keep playing.  I printed out more score sheets, and my weight has been going down, for the most part, ever since. I do give myself a little more lee-way than I would if I were competing, but that’s ok!  It’s ok not to be perfect. It’s not about the score, or even about the weight or my size or shape.  It’s about feeling healthy.  It’s about having energy to play with my kids.  It’s about walking up the stairs without panting when I get to the top!

If you enjoyed this and want to read more of my rambling, visit my blogs! I write aboutbooks and writing as well as creativity and DIY home decor. (Here are some of Joanna’s creative works–love Crayons! Joanna is also find-able on Facebook and Twitter, too.)


Joanna, thanks for this opportunity!

So much fun to have you, Joanna!

And always a pleasure to have all of you stop in! The Game-On! Diet sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve found that the only way to keep up with exercise and fitness is to incorporate things you truly enjoy (i.e., tennis and walking for me) as well as easy, effective ways to see results. (That’s why I keep up and vary the small weight workout.) The ‘time off’ concept is invaluable too, as is allowing oneself the luxury of consciously letting self- discipline slip every now and again. Keeps me on track in the bigger picture.)

Now we turn the spotlight on you, visitor-friends! How about sharing what works for you in the weight/fitness/healthy lifestyle practices? Don’t be shy! If what you share resonates with one person, wasn’t it worth the comment? (Maybe even make a post out of that, too ! :))

A great day to all,


Djok-hold On the Grand Slams for 2011

Wanted to post this yesterday but didn’t want to take away from my previous engagement with the wonderful authors over at Reflections in Hindsight. If you missed my post about what I’d do differently given the knowledge I’ve gained in the past near-two years, hope you take a moment and read my thoughts on that subject here.

 Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

What a final stretch to get to the finish!

Via a physical display on both sides of the net that left the rest of us mere humans exhausted just watching, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal showed why each owns the ranking of Number One and Number Two, respectively. (When it comes to fitness and athleticism, though, I’m giving these guys a tie at top billing.) And when it comes to rooting for your favorite player? It’s to both these young guys’ credit that you felt badly pulling for either one at any time b/c that meant you weren’t pulling for the other guy at any given moment. (I know. It’s up there with keeping up with that ball going back and forth across the court.)

Beginning with Serbia’s Davis Cup win Novak Djokovic spent from then through today amazing the tennis world with his eye-popping record of 64-2. I’ll paraphrase what  Rafa Nadal so graciously said in his interview at the end of the US Open Tennis Men’s Final, where he came in as runner-up: he (Novak) has done something incredible that will be extremely difficult to repeat.

And that folks, is why The Djok deserves to hold that trophy high and revel in his moment. He earned it.

See y’all tomorrow! We’ve got Joanna Clark Dawyd, quite the interesting visitor. Stop in and show her some love!


PEM: Can One Book Change Your Life?

Hi all,

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I am so happy when I can keep content flowing–thrilled to be posting again! Here’s a follow-up to last Tuesday’s post.

As I stated in my previous post, I have never been ‘skinny.’ Chances are, I will never be ‘thin.’ My whole life I’ve yo-yoed anywhere from 20-40 pounds more than I ever needed and have probably been at the ‘ideal weight’ for my height and build twice (pre-kids, of course).

That doesn’t mean, however, I can’t take care of my body and feel good about the shape I’m in—by no means my best ever (that was pre-kids, too, lol) but maybe the best it’s been in a while. (And so far, I’m past the two-and-a-half-year mark for maintaining it—an absolute first for me! No secret methods, just regular exercise and walking while religiously wearing my shape-up shoes. Portion control and cutting back white flour and sugar products have made a huge difference too.)

Anyway, back to that ONE book that changed my perspective when it came to clothing: Style Is Not a Size: Looking Great and Feeling Great in the Body You Have by Hara Estroff Marano.

You see, I was raised by a mom whose pear shape I inherited, and whose one objective when it comes to dressing is and will always be: ‘hide that backside.’ That translates into this tiny woman—she may have hit the 5’0” mark and has long since lost ground—almost always wearing boxy shirts big enough to skim over hips, butt and thighs. These fill an awful lot of visual space. In the long run, she looks bigger, and to this day, if she could get me to wear the same types of shirts and pants, she would.

  Both these photos were taken the same day. 

Ms. Marano’s book confirmed and/or taught me techniques that helped me develop my style AND make me feel good about how I look. Skin-tight clothes are so not me, but nicely tailored, well-fitting pieces make me happy. I have a waistline, for goodness sake—how can not showing it off—to hide that backside again—make me look better?

  My thanks to my son, the photographer 🙂

Shirts and slacks that trace (and sometimes hug, given the right fabric and cut) draw attention to the positives instead of making me look like a box with arms and legs. BTW, tailored does not necessarily mean custom; I’m referring to clothing that has some shape and/or body shaping curves sewn into it (i.e., the opposite of a t-shirt). As per well-fitting, keep in mind that a pair of jeans that is too big can be every bit as unflattering as that pair that has to be zippered while lying flat on the bed and looks painful to wear. And let us not bother with ‘skinny jeans’ or ‘jeggings’—definitely not flattering on this less-perfectly-curved body.

Your turn: any particular book, movie and/or incident change your perspective by impacting your sense of self?

Have a great day and ttyl,


Talking Writer Wellness, Creativity and Balance

This review has been such a long time coming—thank you, Joy, for being so patient.

Way back in February, Joy E. Held, author of Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, guest-posted here. Later, she kindly offered me a copy of her book and asked if I’d share my thoughts on it when I was done. Being swamped with schoolwork at the time, I told her I’d probably be able to do so come June. Well…that came and went (as did July), and here I am trying to get this done before August (and summer) go.

         Direct from her website (and FYI): My online writer-friend Joy is a college educator and award winning published author who knew at age ten she was going to be a writer.

In a recent post about Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, I mentioned how I tend to be a reader of fiction. I’ll read self-help books here and there but unless there is a story tied in, I tend to wander to the latest novel I may have downloaded. (This is where print books have it over digital, especially on a Nook Color. With print book in hand, all I can do is read the book. Wi-fi connections feed seamlessly into the AADD (as in Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder—my made-up term, lol) and off I go…

See? Exactly like that. Okay, back to Joy…

Joy E. Held’s Writer Wellness outlines a simple but effective plan for overall wellness geared to those who write and/or create. She suggests a variety of very practical, easy-to-apply/adapt/adopt ideas, activities and exercises to promote creativity, balance, relaxed state and health of mind and body. (I am so not good at that ‘relaxed state’ part!)

Every chapter is a quick, easy, relatable read. Each is wrapped up with a summary (outline-style) that reiterates chapter highlights and “sends home” the chapter’s message. She follows this with simple “hands-on” tasks, some specifically geared for completion at the workplace. Joy also incorporates easy directions for creating great visual and/or tangible “aids” to help integration points made. Ideas for journaling, along with specific exercises, relaxation techniques, nutrition tips and activities for creating (at home and at work) round out each chapter. She also includes a chapter dedicated to hatha yoga (geared to writers) complete with photos illustrating key poses and followed by a typical yoga workout. (Think I might benefit from taking some time to look at this one in depth! ;))

What I liked best about this book was its simplicity. Joy offered support to those of us who believe we are “too busy” to adopt (and subsequently reap the benefits of) Writer Wellness principles and strategies. I felt particularly encouraged by her thoughts on writer’s block and loved the schematic approach for working through a problem via “trouble bubbles.” I also enjoyed reading “Sheila’s” story; how, over time, her circumstances changed via the guidance she followed during Ms. Held’s six week Writer Wellness Workshop.

Allow me to leave you with a quote from Writer Wellness (p. 67):

“The simple act of commending words to paper inspires the universe to cooperate with our minds and hearts to allow our dreams to find us.”

So glad Joy found me! Learn more about her at her website. While you’re there, take advantage of a special triple e-book offer including the wonderful resource we just discussed!

As always, thanks to all of you who took the time to drop by! Those of you already familiar with Joy’s work, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts and/or experiences related to Writer Wellness. Everyone else, just say ‘hi’ and if you would, kindly click on one of the share buttons below to help share the word about Joy and Writer Wellness!

Until next time,


Change my Self-Image? Uh…Yeah!

Hello friends,

Still recovering from last week’s change in family status, if you will, and working to get back on some kind of schedule. (Thanks so much to all of you who reached out. I posted a thank you yesterday.) This was meant to be a PEM post but we’ll put it up a day late and hope you enjoy it on a Totally Terrific Tuesday (TTT) instead.

Let’s get real, people: ‘skinny’ is something I’ll never be. It is, however, nice to have come to a new place in my life, one I sort of stumbled on by accident. (Seems I do that a lot. Something to be said for hindsight, I suppose.)

Anyway, having grown up overweight—and still there, though in a healthier place than two years ago—my mom never failed to look at something fashionable on a mannequin without stating, “That’s not for us. That’s for __________ (insert name of thinnest of my friends at the time).” Being pear-shaped has its supposed health benefits but isn’t fun when one is out looking for dresses or sets that are sold as a unit. (We pear-shaped girls tend to be a size bigger beginning at the waist and ending at the knees.) Over the years, I’ve learned how to spot styles that fit a little better, which makes for less frustrating shopping sprees. And recently, I walked out of the store with a dress fit for my favorite Fran Fine.  (An awesome day: perfect fit and absolutely no tailoring necessary!)

  I am so not model material, lol. Kept telling my son to make me laugh and look more natural but…oh well…

Okay, sidetracked as usual, but I’m soon to get to the point. Started exercising pretty regularly about two and a half years ago. Those small, consistent efforts have added up for my shoulders and down for the pear part, resulting in a more balanced overall figure. (For those interested, you can access that two-part article here and here.) Hey. The other day I actually saw some deltoid definition—imagine if I were REALLY consistent.

Post point? My body image has changed. I realized this during a recent casual exchange with some long-time male friends. I happened to be chatting with these guys while exiting a church function. (Quick backstory: these guys, who NEVER in all the years they’ve known me said a word about my weight had twice commented on me having lost some about a year prior.) While going down the stairs, I noticed some type of wire that spanned the width of one of the top steps and commented to the guys about how easily a woman’s spike-heeled shoe could get caught in that cord. Being male—and one in particular who prefers his ladies on the less-meat-on-the-bones-is-more type—they immediately goofed about how especially damaging this could be to the stairs should an overweight woman take a tumble.

Of course, I went into hands-on-hips stance coupled with THE LOOK. Their hands took on instant guard pose. “We didn’t mean you!”

“Didn’t think you meant me.”

Here’s the cool part: at that moment, I really got that they did not mean me. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that not only did they not see me as overweight, but for the first time ever yours truly did not see herself this way.

I still have those days when I wish God hadn’t mixed the top and bottom molds. But today, I have those moments when I feel like He didn’t. They took a long time coming, but they’re here. My consistent efforts will hopefully keep those good moments around.

How about you?  Has how you see yourself changed in a way you never expected? If so, when and what triggered your ah-ha moment?

Thanks again for all your support and have a great day,


Newsflash: Bloghopping Can Cause Inspiration! (Part 2)

Yesterday I talked weight, exercise, motivation and what’s been working for me for a while now. My goal is no longer the number on the scale, in fact I very rarely weigh myself. (I stopped bothering when the numbers held their place but my clothing was fitting better and even getting loose. And let’s not forget: muscle mass is denser and heavier than fat. ‘Nough said.) It’s keeping up this lifestyle of exercise and moderate eating for the rest of my life, one workout at a time. The second I decide I’ve “arrived”, I may as well toss my sneakers, weights and music. That’s the moment all I’ve done so far is doomed.

My other big change came in my attitude toward eating. (Mindshift, remember?) Let me state for the record I’d do pretty much anything to be one of those people who can eat whatever s/he wants. (And I’ll even come clean and state that cravings took over the other night and I packed away a lot more sesame sticks than I should have while watching my nasal girl.)  I’ve found that by cutting out a lot of white flour—I can live w/o bread (but not cake :)) and cutting back on starchy foods in general, I seem to have happened on a balance. And since I’d rather eat kettle chips every day, I keep a bag in the car and stick to a lunch of salad and half a sandwich, a smaller portion of something left over from the previous night’s dinner, etc. and eat those chips mid-afternoon. (I also break them into little pieces so that I can reach into the bag more often.)

I divide meals. Two years ago, I’d start the day with PBJ on two slices. By making it open-faced, I’d get two pieces out of one slice of bread for breakfast. If I’m still hungry a couple of hours later, I’d just make the second half. Adding fruit helps curb the appetite, as does milk or some other source of protein. Eggs rock.  And my absolute best trick of all? Whenever possible, BRUSH YOUR TEETH AS SOON AS YOU CAN ONCE YOU’RE DONE EATING. (Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse.) That changes the taste in your mouth and signals the brain in a most definite manner that food is done for now.

Back to mindshifts: Valerie Bertinelli, actor and Jenny Craig spokesperson, who lost at least forty pounds and so far seems to have kept it off stated in an article: “There are no bad foods, just bad food behaviors.”  That freed me. Cake, cookies and chips aren’t necessarily bad but eating three to four portions at once ain’t my best choice now, is it? Splitting up those choices and eating them over three to four days in another thing entirely. Now I literally get to have my cake and eat it too—right?

Then there is self-talk. A couple of years ago, I attended a workshop on sensory integration. Did this occupational therapist know the mouth is a center of arousal (as in alertness)? And in school, what do we use to get kids more awake and aware? Crunchy foods. BING!!! Suddenly, a puzzle piece falls into place. I, who would forego sleep in a heartbeat to gain more hours in a day, am chowing down on Cheez-Its at night to stay awake longer—now there’s a revelation! The self-talk part? At night when I do the wash-up routine I know if I brush my teeth I’m done eating for the night. Know how many times I’ve said aloud, “This is a choice,” when wavering about sticking that toothbrush in my mouth?

Anyway, those are some ideas sparked by Riley’s post. (Thanks, Riley! Can you imagine me posting all this in a comment at your blog, lol?) What works for you? (And I’d love to hear from those of you lovely lurkers who are always in the background being supportive—always MUCH, MUCH appreciated—but never make yourselves known. Use a pseudonym :)!)

Until next time!

Joanna (and Screwball, aka, Kitty)