July 16 is Fresh Spinach Day: Healthy spinach recipes, plus a look at its health benefits

Celebrate! July 16 is Fresh Spinach Day.

Celebrate! July 16 is Fresh Spinach Day.

Today, July 16, is Fresh Spinach Day!

Years ago, when I was enjoying milk sweetened with chocolaty syrups and eating Snickers bars like no tomorrow, mention of this day would be as exciting to me as watching paint dry. But now that I’m on a healthier path that includes eating lots of fruits and veggies, I’m actually happy that there’s a day dedicated to this incredible green food.

Most of us remember Popeye, the cartoon character who was best known for getting into “take on the world” mode by devouring a can of spinach. It’s understandable; after all, spinach is listed on The World’s Healthiest Foods web site as one of the top most nutrient-rich foods, noting that it’s “Rich in vitamins and minerals” and ” . . . concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection.” (1)

Health benefits of spinach

Eating spinach does wonders for overall health, ranging from helping heart and eye health to reducing the risk of certain cancers and even improving brain function. (1, 2, 3) Bottom line is, it has all the good stuff that heals our body and fights damaging free radicals. What’s not to love?

Spinach is also a great food when it comes to weight loss or weight management. How’s that for a bonus? Just one cup has a mere 7 calories and it’s a good source of dietary fiber, so it helps provide a feeling of fullness without the worry gaining weight (3).

Ready to enjoy a dose of antioxidant-rich goodness?

Healthy spinach recipes

Salads:

I often have large spinach salads for dinner. Simply tear the leaves to make them bite-sized, then fill the bowl with other healthy choices. I love adding fennel, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, tomato, avocado and feta cheese. They’re all nutritious and won’t set you back in the weight loss department.

Spinach salads for dinner are filling and healthy. Top with nutritious ingredients . . . even better!

Spinach salads for dinner are filling and healthy. Top with nutritious ingredients . . . even better!

Smoothies:

One of my recipes on a site I write for, Raw and Natural Health, is for a blood pressure-reducing smoothie that involves combining handfuls of spinach with pineapple and oranges. It’s very good; I love to experiment with new (and sometimes unusual) combinations. I never know what mouthwatering results I’ll get and this one is tasty!

I also love to whip up a creamy smoothie that has almond milk, avocado, banana and you guessed it . . . spinach. It’s got the weight-regulating benefits of spinach, plus tons of healthy fats, potassium and a range of vitamins.

A spinach smoothie is easy to make, healthy and very tasty.

A spinach smoothie is easy to make, healthy and very tasty.

Steamed:

I know, “steamed” just sounds so *yawn* boring. But with a little bit of olive oil and some crushed fresh garlic, spinach goes from tasting good to tasting great.

What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate spinach in meals?

Happy eating!

Sources for this article include

(1) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

(2) http://www.naturally-healthy-eating.com/benefits-of-spinach.html

(3) http://www.livestrong.com/article/201263-how-to-lose-weight-eating-spinach/

Weight loss smoothie with sweet potato ideal for controlling weight, great for overall health

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While I was losing weight some seven years ago (and even once I’d gotten to my goal weight), the thought of eating carbs was practically enough to make me hide under the covers and stay there all day. Carbs? Keep them far away, I’d think, mentally giving them the overlapped finger gesture that’s thought to ward off evil.

Offers of breads, pastas, potatoes or anything that even sounded “carby” led to an immediate, “oh, no thank you” response wherever I went. The notion of eating them was, in my mind, akin to eating candy bars and bacon; carbs were wicked, pure and simple. Avoidance of them was a surefire way to keep maintaining my 70 pound weight loss.

Don’t fret! Carbs are not the enemy

Of course, I know better these days. My cabinets include a range of carbs, from grains like quinoa and freekeh to whole wheat pastas and spinach wraps.

So, my message is this: don’t fret. Carbs are NOT synonymous with weight gain. No matter where you are on your weight loss journey (trust me, even after reaching goal, even two or five years later, it’s an ongoing journey), know this: carbs, albeit the right ones, are OK. In fact, the right ones can even help with weight loss and maintenance.

In my newfound enjoyment of healthy carbs, as I’ve transitioned from avoiding them like the plague to incorporating them in my daily diet through the years, I discovered a recipe on Shape.com that includes sweet potatoes. In a previous life, I would have run. Sweet potatoes? No thank you.

But that was then.

I happily made the recipe recently and am addicted. I’ve made it almost every day now, enjoying my own variations of it for breakfast. It’s super healthy, tasty and an incredibly easy way to help with weight loss and maintenance.

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Weight loss and heath benefits of the sweet potato smoothie

Turns out, sweet potatoes have a high fiber and water content which is great for the body anyway, but when it comes to controlling weight, they help provide a feeling of fullness that keeps overeating at bay (1).

Additionally, sweet potatoes have a low-glycemic index which plays a role in preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. Irregular blood sugar levels have been linked to increased belly fat (2).

Not only can they help with weight loss and maintenance, but according to The World’s Healthiest Foods web site (one of my favorites), they’re rich in antioxidants, B-vitamins, and are a wonderful source of vitamin A (3).

What’s not to love about sweet potatoes?

The sweet potato peach smoothie recipe

Here’s the 4-serving recipe from Candice Kumai that appeared on Shape.com. Kumai has authored several cookbooks including Clean Green Drinks (from which this recipe was adapted from) and Cook Yourself Thin.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 frozen banana
3/4 cup sweet potato puree or steamed sweet potatoes
3 cups frozen organic peaches
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup (1 scoop) protein powder (optional)

Directions:

Put ingredients in a blender and mix to desired taste.

Don’t forget to experiment! Since making this recipe, I’ve tried swapping out some ingredients with other favorites of mine such as adding cacao powder and mangos (instead of the bananas and peaches it calls for). Delicious!

I made a hearty, healthy breakfast based on this recipe that included adding oats and mango with the sweet potato instead of the banana and peach.  I also added in some chia seeds and raw honey. Mmm!

I made a hearty, healthy breakfast based on this recipe that included adding oats and mango with the sweet potato instead of the banana and peach. I also added in some chia seeds and raw honey. Mmm!

Here’s to eating healthy carbs.

Happy sipping!

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/weight-loss/how-eating-sweet-potatoes-can-help-you-lose-weight.html

(2) http://www.livestrong.com/article/424496-sweet-potato-and-weight-loss/

(3) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

My not-so-glamorous story of dieting after the diet was over, and how I got back on track

Although I lost 70 pounds back in 2007, the real challenge was focusing on how to maintain the weight loss on my own, once I reached that goal. It’s a common cycle: people lose weight using a certain plan, book, trend or own personal method and once away from the helpful support groups and portioned meals, can easily fall back into the bad eating habits that led them to become overweight in the first place.

No way was I going back to that ever again.

Me, 70 pounds heavier.

Me, 70 pounds heavier.

To not have to be relegated to the basements or back sections of stores where plus-size clothing typically existed was thrilling. To no longer have rude comments made directly to my face was refreshing. To be called “tiny,” or even “stunning” was a joy to me, who lived for way too long with strangers’ ugly comments and those who engaged in friendship-shunning actions.

But . . .

Living in fear of regaining weight

Excited as I was, it was scary to be on my own, faced with a bevy of supermarket choices, fearing regaining the weight again and undoing all the hard work (mental and physical) that went into the initial loss.

I simply refused to be over 200 pounds again.

So strong was my willpower that I admittedly let my “on a diet” mode linger much more than it needed to, dieting after the diet was over and falling into a pattern of shunning virtually anything that looked, smelled or sounded like a carb, refusing to have seconds, and not touching sweets (even honey in tea was a no-no as was sorbet or one stinkin’ truffle) with a ten-foot pole. The offer of a breath mint, I remember, once sent me into a tizzy, my mind filled with anxiety over the open tin in front of me. Yet I simply would not give in to such a “treat.”

I also recall brining my scale on vacation. Seriously, I did.

Yet, I truly believed that I was following a healthy course that at the time, seemed logical. So long as there were veggies in the mix and most importantly, I wasn’t gaining weight, I was the epitome of health.

Yikes.

My determination to not gain any weight back overpowered my common sense, and so, I’d even pass on healthy foods just because they had such strong “fat” associations in my mind: any oil, dressing or bread was “bad.” Heck, almost anything was. And so, yogurts filled with aspartame and diet sodas typically graced the inside of my refrigerator.

The excess skin that comes with the territory of losing such a significant amount of weight compounded my out-of-whack eating behaviors, making me feel fat even though I knew full well, that although I’d gotten to a weight that fell even below my goal, I was anything but.

Looking svelte, but feeling fat, mainly  due to excess skin that happens when a person loses a lot of weight.

Looking svelte, but feeling fat, mainly due to excess skin that happens when a person loses a lot of weight.

And yes, the media, with its skimpily-dressed female models and smooth, strong-chested cologne-modeling men fueled it all too. But more than that, in fact, much more bothersome than that for me, are the ordinary folks like neighbors and colleagues and friends and significant others (who supposedly know about air-brushing, tact, respect and all of that “it’s what’s inside that counts” stuff), who often engage in hormonally-fueled conversations and blatant, disrespectful flirtations, especially while making references to someone in an ad, movie or involving a dangerous health tread (i.e. saying as a woman walks by that she “has the perfect thigh gap”).

I recall one male friend who used to be part of a group I used to associate with, who was so hung up on the female form, that every moment was filled with a picking apart of them while in my (and his own girlfriend’s) company, right down to what he liked and didn’t like about this waitress or that hostess’s stomach, rear and so on. To me, in the middle of a restaurant, in between his darting (and often lowering) eyes at those across the room, he said, “Don’t get me wrong, Jen. It’s great that you lost weight, but I just like them with butts more like, well . . . that .. . ” First of all, I didn’t really care about his so-called preferences, which frankly seemed to change with the wind anyway, but often wondered why he felt the need to pick the body apart with such scrutiny. Scrutiny that went well beyond fun people watching and more along the lines of bizarre, rude obsession.

Still, the “them” and the “that,” that he gestured to was a young woman, someone’s daughter, wife or best friend, who had just emerged from the restaurant restroom and who had, in his opinion, had a derriere so incredible that his love for it had to be conveyed both non-verbally and verbally . . . and even brought up in the conversation later.

Between it all, my head was spinning.

Mental and physical toll of dieting well after the diet is over

Not only did I feel pretty darn miserable and grumpy inside, envious of those who enjoyed bread with their soup or ate some peanut butter while still maintaining a perfectly healthy, trim figure, but it began to take a toll on my health.

Ironically, I chalked it up to just being par for the course for someone who wanted to eat, um, healthy. So, out of whack went my iron levels and then came some scary hypoglycemic incidents where my body was just as shaky as, I’m sure, my ability to reason well in many instances and life situations. Begrudgingly, I took the hospital’s crackers and juices and yes, I felt better. Even still, the silliness continued, the thrill of being “model thin,” as some said I was, well worth the mounting frustrations in my body and soul.

Eventually, all the people coming up to me ooohing and ahhing about teeny little me was becoming more annoying than exciting. I’d wonder what they ate that morning. Was is nothing, like me, who was saving a banana and fat-free yogurt for a breakfast/lunch combo?

The road to eating well: “Healthy carbs” is not an oxymoron

For about two years now, I can happily say I’m in a truly healthy place. I look at the times I’d mentally freak out when a server accidentally put the oil and vinegar ON my salad instead of on the side and can’t believe I had such thoughts.

It took some soul-searching, discussions with a few family members, friends and professionals, and sessions with a nutritionist to get me where I am now. You can imagine my surprise, how, one week after following the nutritionist’s meal plan he designed for me, when I was able to eat things like oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg (for breakfast alone . . . imagine!) and not gain any weight. I followed his plan and thought I was in heaven. All this time, all the worry about this calorie or that, all those thoughts that carbs being awful and so on . . . while I knew why I had such thoughts, I finally knew I didn’t have to give in to them.

I now know of course that “healthy carbs” is not an oxymoron and that oils like coconut and olive are wonderful for overall health and won’t lead to excessive, if any, weight gain. When healthy food choices are coupled with exercise (and yes, dare I say, even the occasional pizza slice or buttery bagel) people who lost weight won’t regain it. And if they do put on weight, it likely won’t be of Jabba-the-Hut proportions.

These days, I absolutely love the delicious food combinations fruits and veggies offer and even how simple things like baking versus boiling, or adding a sprig of rosemary can impart a drastically different and satisfying flavor. I actually enjoy making and eating meals, even ones with whole wheat pasta, rather than fearing them. I even check out healthy recipes on web sites (honestly, there was a time I wouldn’t be caught dead whipping up foods in the kitchen, or seeking out a recipe in the first place). I have a twinge of excitement when I go food shopping because I love to see all the options that exist, all the things I missed out on in the past for fear of gaining weight. However, these are all healthy options and that’s the difference from my potato-chip eating past. I’m in awe of all the flavors and healthy goodness around me . . . things like Ugli Fruit and fennel, farro (ancient grain), mangos and shredded coconut.

May 2014.  Happy and ready to head out to dinner with someone special.

May 2014. Happy and ready to head out to dinner with someone special.

I mostly eat fresh, whole foods like salads loaded with spinach, almonds, avocado, fennel, tomatoes and feta cheese (with dressing, and none of that low-cal kind either), or oatmeal with chia seeds, coconut oil and cacao powder blended in. There’s also plenty of salmon, eggs, quinoa, pumpernickel bread and spinach wraps loaded with turkey and tomatoes, along with mango smoothies and healthy chocolate puddings made with avocado. And yes, I’ve downed some pizza along the way.

These days, I provide recipes to some web sites like RawandNaturalHealth.com and am an author with Natural News, a site that promotes natural, healthy dietary lifestyles and overall health.

Am I as stick-thin as I was seven or even two years ago? Thankfully, no. But by no means am I obese or on the path that caused me to gain weight initially.

So, I will continue along this journey, one that still keeps my weight in check, but one where I choose to nourish my body and soul in the process.

That kind of happiness, I know for sure, is well worth gaining.

June 12, 2014 : )

June 12, 2014 : )

©Copyright 2011-2014, Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com, Flabby Road and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NYC education department calls third grade girl overweight: is this a body image disorder in the making?

Gwendolyn Williams, the third grader deemed overweight (by one pound) by NYC education department.  Photo: elitedaily.com

Gwendolyn Williams, the third grader deemed overweight (by one pound) by NYC education department.
Photo: elitedaily.com

Well, here we go again. One week, it’s all about obtaining a thigh gap (or, what my former group of male friends would refer to as “the perfect air-gap”), and the next, it’s about removing rib-baring mannequins from stores. Right now, recent headlines are focusing on Gwendolyn Willliams, a thin, 4-foot-1-inch third grader who was sent home with a “Fitnessgram” in which the New York City Department of Education deemed the child overweight (1).

But here’s the kicker. The girl only weighs a mere 66 pounds, one pound over the acceptable level. That’s right, a little girl is considered overweight because she’s 16 ounces over some one-size-fits-all “standard.”

Still, a pound is a pound and so that night, Gwendolyn’s mom observed her daughter grabbing at the skin around her waist (children aren’t supposed to read the letter before giving it to a parental figure, but curiosity got the best of Gwendolyn and therefore, she was aware of her new “overweight” status). As she pulled at her skin, she asked her mom if that was what the Fitnessgram was all about.

Sad, isn’t it?

Where is the line drawn?

I know, I know, I’m sure some fitness fanatics will get all serious about this and say that “the rules are the rules” and technically, whether it’s one pound or 40, little Gwendolyn is overweight. They’ll tell us not to get in a uproar over the rules. She just happens to fall on the low end. True.

And yes, I can imagine that while some people might agree that putting her in an overweight category for the sake of a pound is ridiculous, they’ll also ask where the line is drawn. Which I understand. After all, would it still be ridiculous if she were “just” five or 10 pounds overweight? After all, that’s how weight gain starts.

I know this all too well. Thoughts of “Ah, what the heck, it’s just a pound” make it easy to justify having another cookie and another slice and so on. Before you know it, you’re 70 pounds heavier, shopping for clothes in the plus-size section and out of breath going up one flight of stairs.

But this story is more than just documenting a number on the scale, putting someone in a category, and calling it a day.

Why this story is a body image and eating disorder issue in the making

Numbers aside, this story is about the emotional scars that have unfortunately already taken root in this little girl’s mind, as she’s already grabbing at and questioning her belly area, less than 24 hours after reading the fitness letter.

This, too, I know all too well.

Before you know it, you’re trying to get that pound under control, and in the excitement of doing so, can easily head down a path that includes bringing your scale on vacation, or fretting about having one measly mint just to keep it all in check.

Considering that about 80 percent of 10-year-olds have been on a diet and that, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, 70 percent of children ages 6-12 would prefer to be thinner (2), it’s likely that little Gwendolyn is already eyeing up her food portions a bit differently and wondering, needlessly, about whether or not she can do better when the next fitness assessment comes around. I wonder if she’ll look at mannequins differently, maybe even envy their hollow, plastic bodies. I can only hope she does not go down this road.

Apparently, the letter is part of a fitness assessment program given to over 800,000 school children in the city. This is actually a good thing, considering the growing obesity epidemic that’s sweeping the nation and affecting people of all ages. Assessing fitness levels can be a helpful, eye-opening catalyst for change among those who think french fries count as a healthy food because they are a potato. As an aside, it turns out that 60 percent of Americans eat their potatoes fried and consume just 1.5 cups of the recommended two to three cup intake of vegetables daily (3).

Perhaps, to some degree, fitness assessments can increase awareness about unhealthy habits.

However, it’s when a little girl starts exhibiting a sense of shame as she scrutinizes what one pound of “excess” skin looks like that “unhealthy” takes on an entirely different meaning.

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/23/gwendolyn-williams-fitnessgram_n_5381239.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046&ir=Women

(2) http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2012/07/02/study-finds-80-percent-of-10-year-old-girls-have-been-on-diet/

(3) http://www.naturalnews.com/045291_eating_habits_American_diet_nutrition.html

Non-Bizarre Gym Moments that Keep Us Coming Back for More

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I’ve seen some pretty strange, borderline disturbing things while exercising at the gym.

There was the man who took his gum out of his mouth and stuck it on the treadmill screen, only to put the wad of nastiness in his mouth post-run. I’ve seen spandex in the crevices of men and women (in shape or otherwise) that I never knew existed . . . and that wasn’t a good thing. There have been macho men who’ve greeted one another by fist bumps and women who have managed to lift weights with nails longer than their false eyelashes. Some sights have made me giggle to myself. Others, not so much.

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But rather than focus on all of the oddities at the gym, I started to think about the many things I’ve seen that have made me smile, supercharging my excitement about working out. These are the things that keep me coming back, even if others may think they’re not a big deal and even if Running Gum Man is still is a gym member.

Gym moments that keep me coming back

Weights still set at superhuman levels, and the little old lady who left it that way

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Now some may sit there and think, “How on Earth could that petite bit of an old lady have used this weight level?” Rather than let it bum me out, I’m inspired by her! Same with seeing someone’s treadmill screen after they just finished. Wait . . . they really completed an insane course filled with hills in under a half hour?

If anything, the competitive side in me comes out. Next time, I’m going to see if I can’t work my way up (gradually) to also kick butt in less than 30 minutes.

People who clean their equipment

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No, I’m not OCD. It’s just nice to know there really are people who care enough to wipe their drool and sweaty slop off the treadmill handles when they leave. They don’t know it, but I’m mentally thanking them and sending happy vibes their way. Thank you!

The person who goes for the gusto!

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Remember that obese person that came to the gym a year ago? How neat is it that they’re now fit and trim? When others childishly gave them strange looks, they persisted. Today, they no longer hide in the back of a group stretch class . . .heck, they may even be teaching it! Good for them.

The reader/listener

reading-girl

Scan the gym and most heads are all angled the same way: lifted upwards at any one of the 37 television screens. I’m always pleased to see the person who is (gasp) reading. Or even doing nothing. Today, we often feel like we have to be engaged in something else other than the moment we’re in.

How nice it is then, to read a book or even appreciate the sounds of our environment: the whirring of the treadmill belts, the occasional clang of weights, the faint din from the person’s too-loud ear buds next to us. You’d be surprised at how differently you see and perceive things by changing things up and resisting the urge to watch what celebrity just got engaged to what non-celebrity. All the sounds are good.

Well, just not the sound that involves a certain someone unwrapping a new piece of gum. I can do without that. However, he does clean the equipment afterwards, so he gets a partial good vibe from me sent his way : )

What gym moments inspire you?

©Copyright 2011-2014, Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com, Flabby Road and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Power of Weight Loss and Fitness Mantras to Keep Health on Track

The Power of Weight Loss and Fitness Mantras to Keep Health on Track

From inspirational posters in fitness centers to encouraging sayings shared on social media sites designed to inspire ourselves and others, health-related mantras can fuel the desire to eat right and exercise more.

Sigh. Where were they when I was unwrapping those Snickers bars and shopping in the plus-sized section seven years ago? Ah, they were probably there, if only I had been able to leave the vending machine long enough to notice. But I digress.

Motivational mantras can be a powerful way to keep us on track of our weight loss goals and overall health. I know they have been for me.

Motivating weight loss and fitness mantras

Personally, I have a few that I enjoy which not only helped me on my 70-pound weight loss journey, but that still stick with me to this day.

So true.  Keep on going . . . every step is  step closer than the day (or second) before!

So true. Keep on going . . . every step is step closer than the day (or second) before!

Now before you think all this mantra talk means you have to break out the lava lamps or repeat certain phrases by some glorious oceanfront property, think again. It’s all about summoning a key (or two, or five) phrases that have significant meaning to you so you can keep your health journey on track.

If anyone remembers the show Ally McBeal, John “The Biscuit” used to summon peppy, “you can do it” tunes from Barry White whenever doubt kicked in. It’s the same thing. Positive thoughts can squash those negative “I’ll never lose all this weight” thoughts.

Ah, couch sitting and chomping on Cheetos are days I remember well.

Ah, couch sitting and chomping on Cheetos are days I remember well.

Registered and licensed dietitian Kari Hartel, says “Developing and utilizing a mantra can assist you with your weight-loss or other health-related goals by reinforcing positive behaviors . . .  More specifically, a mantra can help you shift the focus from the actual number on the scale to the more permanent idea of adopting a lifestyle change, establishing a healthier relationship with food and developing confidence.”

Not just with fitness, but in life, waiting for the "right" time doesn't do anyone much good.

Not just with fitness, but in life, waiting for the “right” time doesn’t do anyone much good.

Is there a downside to inspirational mantras?

However, some experts warn that positive mantras can backfire and jeopardize our health. Move over, Barry White? The thought is that while embracing ourselves for who we are is important, certain mantras may be viewed as enablers that tell us it’s ok to reach for that third slice of pizza. After all, we have mantras that say: “real women have curves” and “love me, love my fat.”

The idea, at least for Dr. Azadeh Aalai, Associate Professor of Psychology at Montgomery College, is that when increased confidence through such mantras justifies eating another bag of chips, then America’s obesity epidemic keeps on growing.

And right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Dr. Aalai says that ” . . . our ever growing ‘protect self-esteem at any cost’ culture has led us to tip toe around the dire reality of how fat we have become as a nation, and the serious health implications that come with this.”

Hmmmm. It was tough to stay strong in the self-esteem department having been teased about my weight in junior high school and even later in college . . . and again years after that.

So I do think it’s important that society embraces their differences and protects their self-esteem (whether it’s about freckles or a physical disability), but at the same time, I don’t think it should become an excuse that justifies out-of-control weight gain, an obnoxious attitude or an uncaring mindset.

What are some of your favorite health and weight-loss mantras? Also, do you agree with Dr. Aalai’s comment about society becoming a place that protects self esteem at any cost? Leave a comment, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts!

Sources for this post include:

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-first-impression/201401/fat-denial-when-self-help-mantras-can-backfire

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/how-a-weight-loss-mantra-can-help-you-keep-fit.html

©Copyright 2011-2014, Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com, Flabby Road and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind.   Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lemons on our Elbows? Healthy Foods I Love that also Double as Beauty Products

 

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Healthy foods keep a body at its best.  From more energy to improved blood pressure and everything in between, healthy foods can keep us in tip-top shape.  But beyond all the goodness on the inside, plenty of foods double as topical beauty products so we can look great on the outside, too.  Let’s take a peek.

1.  Coconut Oil

traderjoescoconutoil 300x264 Healthy Foods that Double as Beauty Products

I’m a huge virgin coconut oil fan.  It’s one of the healthier fats that adds a mild coconut flavor to everything from oatmeal to a veggie stir fry.

Body bonus:  The oil has been shown to play a role in helping with weight loss and keeping blood pressure in check.

woman moisturizing face 300x199 Healthy Foods that Double as Beauty Products

Beauty bonus:  Put it this way . . . I’ve got tissues, a toothbrush and a jar of coconut oil on my bathroom counter.  It does wonders to keep my skin smooth.  Every night, I put a very small amount on my face and without fail, my dry skin goes away!

2.  Lemons

thINF8MRAL 300x196 Healthy Foods that Double as Beauty Products

Ah, the citrus scent is invigorating, but it’s also a great way to give everything from our water to our salmon some oomph.  I love to drizzle lemon (or grate the skin) on a variety of meals.

Body bonus:  Lemon helps cleanse our system.  Whether we had one too many drinks with our BFFs over the weekend or simply enjoy starting the day with a fresh lemon-infused glass of water, lemons keep our digestive and immune system on track.

images Healthy Foods that Double as Beauty Products

 

Beauty bonus:  Lemons can lighten areas of our skin.  I mean, what’s the deal with dark elbows?  It looks like I forgot to wash them!  Every once in a while, I’ll cut both ends off a lemon and sit with by elbows resting in them for a few minutes.

3.  Oatmeal

oatmeal Healthy Foods that Double as Beauty Products

Photo credit: Olga Mitsolva / Shutterstock

By now we know breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I have oatmeal with coconut oil every morning and love it!  Lately, I’m all about making no-bake cereal bars at home with a mix of healthy foods like oatmeal, agave nectar and sunflower butter.

Body bonus:  Oatmeal is loaded with fiber, so that means we feel full longer.  For fashionista’s looking to keep weight in check, that full feeling can fight the urge to have another piece of cake. Plus, it’s a great way to lower cholesterol.

face cleanse Healthy Foods that Double as Beauty Products

Beauty bonus:  When mixed with other foods like raw sugar (for the scrub) and honey (for smoothness), oatmeal is a great DIY body or face scrub.

What foods do you love for a healthy body and beauty one-two punch?  Leave a comment! 

(Note: this is a post I wrote that appeared on a women’s beauty and fashion site I write for, The Budget Fashionista, on 2-25-14. I made minor changes for the purposes of this Flabby Road post).

©Copyright 2011-2014,  Jennifer Lilley, FlabbyRoad.com, Flabby Road and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind.   Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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