How many of us get the bad news from our doctor that our cholesterol is high, or starting to creep up there? The same goes for our weight. How many of us could stand to lose a few pounds? It’s not terribly scary news but if left unchecked these two things could lead to additional health problems and even a shorter life. Luckily both can be controlled by diet and exercise, before they get too far out of hand. My goals are to lower my LDL (“lousy level”), raise my HDL (“healthy level”), and lose 30 more pounds. Yes I know that’s not what they stand for but it helps me remember.

The exercise part is pretty straight forward. Get up and move. For me this means at least 30-40 minutes per day to start seeing inches being lost. Because we know belly fat is the most dangerous kind of fat to have, we want to lose inches around our waist.

The food part is a little more complicated. I must watch portion size and calories consumed. Fiber must be on the high side or I will feel miserably hungry all of the time. I know I must concentrate on lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and whole grains, while really limiting the grains. I tend to lose a lot if I limit myself to two carb servings daily. While I do want to see the rest of this weight come off fast, I know I’ll gain it back if my strategies do not become a change in lifestyle. Finally, knowing myself as well as I do, I have to incorporate some sort of treat or I’ll fall completely off track. While I’m somewhat satisfied with a weekly indulgence, there are days I need just a little something to calm my chocolate craving. I used to eat an ounce of 70% cocoa dark chocolate, and that can be a healthy and frugal choice. So what’s on the menu?

Breakfast

Oatmeal is a whole grain and a good source of fiber. To increase my success I chose a high-fiber variety. I added diced prunes, which I prefer, and are higher in fiber and lower in sugar than raisins. Some toasted walnuts were sprinkled on top. These added crunch and some omega-3 fatty acids as well as some additional fiber. I chose to not have any other beverage with breakfast except water because I wanted to get a jump on my water intake for the day. If I have a cup of tea I am satisfied with the cup of tea and then have to force myself to drink the water. I’d rather skip the tea and feel that I need the water.

For a mid-morning snack a had one of those chocolate high-fiber bars and a cup of decaf coffee. It was good and I got most of my recommended fiber in by 10:30 a.m.

Dinner

Salmon is a heart-healthy choice. It’s higher in fat content so the smaller portion is still satisfying. Yes, I like mine well done. Salmon goes great with salad. Notice the baby spinach leaves. My husband prefers the iceberg/romaine mix with the shredded carrots and red cabbage. I do enjoy the crunch and the added veggies, but I add baby spinach leaves for added nutrition. Both were on sale this week too. There’s hardly any starch at all in the zucchini cakes. They are mostly veg. There was very little olive oil in the pan when I “fried” my cakes. I drank water again with dinner. I find it difficult to get the recommended six to eight glasses of water in me in the wintertime.

After dinner we took the puppies for a walk. It started to get windy and then started to snow. The pups enjoyed it and maybe that icy wind helped burn an extra few calories.

While thawing out we decided on a movie and had popcorn for an afternoon snack. Popcorn is another whole grain and you can have around 2 cups for 100 calories. I find it a lot more filling than other snack choices.

Around 5:30 I was ravenously hungry again. I blamed it on the icy, windy walk in the snow squall. I decided to scramble an egg plus an egg white. I knew I needed something to bulk it up a little because I didn’t want to be hungry again and eat anything later in the evening. I decided on mushrooms and some canned green fire-roasted chiles. I poured it all into a whole grain tortilla, ate my southwestern egg creation and was satisfied. I enjoyed a small 4 oz glass of pineapple orange juice with my “breakfast supper” and was good the rest of the day.

I must have done something right. The scale was down two pounds this morning.

What are your weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering strategies?

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