Category Archives: Losing Weight

Little Extras for Help with Weight-Loss Success

The two basic things you have to do to have a successful weight-loss journey is consume fewer calories (eat less) and exercise more.  It is a pleasure to report that it is possible to do both of these things without feeling deprived or overwhelmed. Just add these two little extras for help with weight-loss success.

Add a Little Extra Exercise to Your Daily Routine

Little Extras for Help with Weight-loss Success
Image by AndreyPopov

A simple way to increase the level of exercise during your week is by adding a little more effort into your daily activities – the things you are going to do anyway.

For example, we all have to do housework right? So, that is an easy one! Instead of taking your time and working at a leisurely pace, work faster.

As you sweep and mop the kitchen floor, put some oomph into it. Work at a steady, brisk pace. Stretch your arms and use your muscles. This will definitely increase your heart rate, and burn more calories.

When it’s time to clean the windows, reach up as high as you can – stretch to the top of the windows and be sure to get into the corners. Then, buff the glass to a high sheen, which will involve a little more elbow grease than normal.

When you scrub out the tub and the shower, do it with energy and a song – make those tiles shine.

Play fun music and dance when you sweep, mop or vacuum.

Work for longer periods of time – 20 to 30 minutes of active cleaning is much better than 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. It gives you more time to get your heart rate going and a better boost to your metabolism.

These are things you can do to keep your house sparkling and build the new you. So, start throwing in an abundant amount of gusto for extra calorie burning and body shaping.

Add Two Healthy Snacks to Your Daily Meal Plan

A great way to focus on success with your weight loss journey is to plan what you are going to eat in advance. When you shop ahead and know exactly what you will be eating, temptation to fall into old eating patterns – and indulge in foods that will throw you off track are taken out of the equation.

Be sure to include at least two healthy snack options in your daily plan. They should not only be healthy choices, but foods that are easy to grab when you are feeling a little out-of-sorts – and also handy when you are on the go.

Planning ahead ensures that you will eat healthy snacks that you enjoy as well as satisfy your hunger. Make sure they are nutritious and satisfying, and fit in with your diet all at the same time.

You can find suggestions for healthy snacks everywhere – in books, magazines and all over the Internet. Just be sure that they are in keeping with your diet of choice and give you the nutrients you need.

You can find a few good options at the more health-focused stores (Trader Joes, Sprouts, or Whole Foods), but read labels VERY CAREFULLY if you are buying pre-packaged snacks. Many of them have hidden sugars, additives and empty calories, which will NOT be good for your weight-loss journey. Try to stick with fresh fruits, veggies, raw nuts (use roasted peanuts) and seeds, etc.

One of my favorites is my version of mixed nuts (macadamia, almonds, pecans, and pistachios) with a few dark chocolate chips in the mix (use the chocolate chips sparingly).

Make small snacks packs of two tablespoons each and keep them available. Toss ONE into your lunch bag each day. It is a also good idea to have one in your car cubby for a quick pick-me-up when you need it – a much better choice than a candy bar.

Another excellent choice is a generous serving of fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries with a dollop of Crème Fraiche (or plain Greek yogurt with a little organic honey) – YUM!

It is important to find your own preferences that fit your personal taste and dietary needs. Set aside time each week to prepare home-made options that can be stored and used whenever you need them.

In Summary

Try these two little extras for help with weight-loss success. Adding a little extra exercise and adding two healthy snack options each day will make a big difference on your weight-loss journey. They will help you reach your destination – a healthy, fit and happier life.

Mediterranean Diet – Excellent Choice for Women

Lead researcher, Cecilia Samieri, DVM, PHD, Boston University School of Medicine stated, “Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40% more likely to survive to age 70 or over.” That is proof that a diet does affect your longevity. But you already knew that.

But, why is the Mediterranean Diet specifically an excellent choice for women?

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by lunamarina

The average American woman’s diet is filled with highly-processed foods, high in unhealthy fats, high in refined sugar and white flour, filled with additives, and low in nutrition.

Continual consumption of such an unhealthy diet wreaks havoc on a woman’s skin and her body.  It causes her to age more quickly; it weakens her muscles; her energy levels drop; inactivity sets in; and she eventually loses her natural sense of well-being.

The Mediterranean Diet is primarily a natural food diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, and a little red wine. It is high in monounsaturated fats due to the use of extra-virgin olive oil which is extremely beneficial to the body. Processed foods, fast foods, high sugar content and unhealthy fats are not part of the eating plan.

A Different Way of Eating

The Med-Diet is a different way of eating – you will be feeding your body natural foods that are healthy for the body and mind!

Most women who are struggling to lose weight generally reduce their food intake and start exercising vigorously. While both of these things can be helpful, reducing your food intake, but continuing to eat unhealthy foods is not a wise choice.

It is much better to choose a healthy diet and to eat in moderation to lose weight.  You could possibly eat junk food in moderation and stay slim; but, think about what are you would be doing to your body in the process. You may be choosing to lose weight at the cost of your good health.

It isn’t difficult to see that it would be much better to eat healthy foods like salmon drizzled in olive oil, Greek yogurt with a little honey, stir-fried broccoli, or Quinoa Pasta Primavera, etc.

That is what makes the Mediterranean diet so fantastic. The food you get to eat is actually delicious, nutritious and beneficial to your health.  No more forcing yourself to eat another bland steamed chicken breast or chalk-like protein shake – or caught between feeling half-starved or binge eating when no one is looking.

Reap the Rewards

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits will ensure your body has adequate fiber and vitamins.
  • Calcium rich foods such as kale, Brussel sprouts and spinach will prevent the dreaded osteoporosis.
  • Legumes and potatoes, which are rich in potassium, will prevent you from losing muscle tone and will also lower your blood pressure.
  • Olive oil will reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish that you eat will do wonders for your health. The modern day diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet will reverse this awful trend.
  • Honey as your natural sweetener along with generous servings of fruit will help minimize your sugar intake and help avoid Type 2 Diabetes.

Unlike the Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet, the Mediterranean Diet is not too restrictive, which makes it much easier to follow and to sustain over the long-haul.  You will be able stay on the diet because you will be enjoying yourself rather than suffering and staying on track through pure will power.

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It will work wonders for your health and peace of mind. All it takes is a desire to be healthy and a willingness to prepare and eat the wonderfully delicious foods in moderation and daily exercise to start living a healthier lifestyle.

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by Mike Baird

To all women, I say, “ Make this choice as soon as you can and enjoy the health benefits and sense of well-being that come from being on a nutritious, well-balanced diet.”

Mediterranean Diet and Eating Gluten-Free

Eating Gluten-Free

Eating Gluten-Free
Image by Zerbor

Over the past few years the word gluten has become a common household world. Gluten-free foods have become a big business for the food manufacturers, and celiac disease is well-known, although not well-understood.

When it comes to the use of gluten-free foods, there are two camps regarding who should or should not eat them. One group says it is unhealthy to maintain a gluten-free diet if you are not suffering from celiac disease. The other group says that a gluten-free diet is good for everyone.

My goal is not to convince you one way or the other. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, then avoiding gluten in your diet is absolutely necessary. If your body handles gluten with no problem, you can make the choice whether you want to go gluten-free, or not.

It is a fact that some people cannot tolerate gluten and when they indulge, they suffer with upset stomachs, sinusitis, headaches, leaky gut syndrome, and other health issues.

If you are struggling with undefined health issues, you could eliminate gluten from your diet for two to three months to see if you feel better. If you do, you will have narrowed down your problem and can continue with a gluten-free diet for better health.

Mediterranean Diet and Eating Gluten Free

One thing I love about the Mediterranean Diet is its flexibility. It can be gluten-free if you choose. It is very different from other diets like the Atkins Diet or Paleo Diet, which are very rigid in what you can and cannot eat.

As I have said in previous posts, the Mediterranean Diet is more of an eating plan with a variety of choices than a “diet.”  Also, the majority of foods recommended are natural and do not contain gluten.

According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center,

Fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, dairy products meat/meat alternatives are gluten-free. Other gluten-free components of the Mediterranean diet include nuts, wine without preservatives or added dye and fresh, frozen, dried or canned vegetables and fruits without thickening agents. Aged hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, Edam and Parmesan are gluten-free. Yogurt, olive and canola oil are also gluten-free.

There are other foods such as pasta, bread, couscous, barley, etc. that contain gluten and should be avoided if you are on a gluten-free diet.

The Celiac Sprue Association recommends a number of grains and starches to replace those derived from wheat, rye or barley.

People on the Mediterranean Diet who are gluten-sensitive can safely eat white or brown rice flour, potato, tapioca, arrowroot, corn meal, corn flour, soy flour, flax, wild rice, quinoa, millet, hominy and flours that are labeled 100 percent gluten-free. When purchasing a new product, it’s important to read the label carefully to make sure gluten was not added during the manufacturing process.

No Hard, Fast Rules

There are no hard and fast rules with the Mediterranean diet even for gluten-free diets. The process is fairly simple. Avoid all processed foods and purchase gluten-free Mediterranean foods by educating yourself and carefully reading labels.

If you are prone to food allergies of any kind, consult your doctor to ensure that the foods you are consuming are suitable for you. For example, some people may be allergic to shell fish or seafood which is a part of the Mediterranean diet.

If that is the case, it is a simple fix – use poultry instead. If you buy certified organic chickens without hormones and antibiotics, you are still consuming a natural, healthy food.

Chicken nuggets are NOT good for you! They are artificial and detrimental to your health. REMEMBER – always stay as close to nature as possible.

Gluten-Free vs Grain-Free

Important note: Gluten-free and grain-free are not the same thing. You can consume grains and still be on a gluten-free diet.

Cynthia Harriman, Oldways’ Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies and Manager of the Whole Grains Council, understands that the whole grain aspect of this healthy diet can be difficult for those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity. She explains, “Grains such as brown rice, millet and corn are gluten free and are whole grain. They’re at their healthiest if not overly processed.”

To Summarize

The Mediterranean diet can be gluten-free if you choose. Do your research so you fully understand what you can and cannot eat in order to be gluten-free. After that, it is easy. Purchase the right foods and begin cooking all the wonderfully tasty Mediterranean dishes that you can make using natural, delicious ingredients. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Vs Paleo

Which Diet Is Right For Me?

Losing weight seems to be a national activity today. As a result, the question that often arises is which diet is the best to help me lose all my extra weight? Mediterranean vs Paleo? Or, some other diet?

Comparing diets is like comparing apples to oranges – it is almost impossible to do so because they are all different. When trying to compare the Mediterranean Diet to the Paleo Diet – they are worlds apart and both have pros and cons to consider.

Popularity and media hype should not be the factors that determine your choice. The choice should be based on your personal preferences and what is best for your overall health.

Yes, the Paleo Diet is currently extremely popular. Everyone from your TV repairman to your best friend is considering this diet. Coupled with the popularity of Crossfit and its ardent enthusiasts who endorse the diet, it has been given an extra boost in popularity.

Regardless of its popularly and vocal supporters, the real question you must ask yourself is:  Is the paleo diet right for me?

Paleo Diet – Sacrifices and Changes Required

Mediterranean vs Paleo Diet
Image by Szakaly559

For me the term “paleo” (from the “Paleolithic” age) conjures up images of dirty, uncivilized cavemen hunting and eating raw meat, which I suppose has a certain appeal to the masculine gender.

However, the diet requires huge sacrifices and changes that are not particularly good for your health beginning with lots of meat, animal organs such as the liver and heart – all prepared in a specific way. You will probably need a freezer to store your meat. Personally, it makes me shudder to think about the stress a heavy intake of red meat will put on my body.

Eating dinner in a restaurant will always be a hassle since most restaurants do not prepare meals in a paleo manner. I doubt you mainstream American cities you will be able to find a restaurant that uses pure coconut oil to prepare their dishes.

Mediterranean Diet – Easy and Natural

Mediterranean vs Paleo
Image by lunamarina

The Mediterranean diet on the other hand is uncomplicated and easy to follow. Even the name makes you feel good – bringing pictures to mind of sun-kissed beaches, good food, beautiful women, etc. Nothing even remotely related to a hairy caveman.

The diet is rich in olive oil, fish, fruit, nuts and other healthy fats. Eating out is easy because. It does not create a problem when you ask the chef to prepare your fish using extra virgin olive oil.  Any good restaurant will be happy to accommodate you.

Another big plus for me is that I am not required to develop a taste for animal organs. Yes, the Mediterranean diet can be potentially more fattening than the Paleo Diet. But, you can lose weight on any diet if you exercise regularly and take in fewer calories that you burn – moderation is key!

So, if you like tasty, healthy, natural foods that are easy to prepare and do not include large quantities of red meat and animal organs, you will definitely be better off with the Mediterranean diet.

A diet that is restrictive and has demanding preparation requirements is difficult to sustain over time, which is all true of the Paleo Diet Recipes.

With the Mediterranean Diet, the recipes are much simpler and easy to prepare – using basically natural foods that can be purchased at any good grocery store, which makes it much easier to follow and stay with over time.

Adapting to the Paleo Diet takes time and some serious adjustment in taste preferences.  When trying to lose weight – watching your calorie intake and establishing a good exercise routine is difficult enough. Compounding those challenges with a complicated diet may defeat you before you really get started. It requires too many changes – too fast!

The Mediterranean Diet is simply a healthy eating plan that eliminates the normal processed and junk food diet that most people have adopted.

The Choice is Yours

Mediterranean vs. Paleo . . . Of course, ultimately, the choice is yours.

Just be smart about your choice and give it careful consideration.  Do not allow yourself to be swayed they media hype. The Paleo Diet will not make you stronger. The Mediterranean diet will not make you an oily creature.

Both diets can be effective. The main question is – which will work best for you, which will you be able to sustain long-term, and which will give you the long term results you want?

Examine the pros and cons and make a decision based on your body and your habits. Knowing yourself and taking care of your health are more important than the diet you choose. 

25 Common Mediterranean Foods

Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea

There may be unfamiliar words in the recipes included in the Mediterranean Diet that you do not understand. Uncommon words and ingredients do not have to be the reason that you skip some of the wonderful recipes from that area.

I have compiled a list of 25 common Mediterranean foods so you won’t miss out on some exceptional dishes. The list is in alphabetical order and also includes the pronunciation.

If you come across an ingredient that you do not recognize and it’s not listed here, you can always Google it.

Let’s get started:

  • Arborio Rice: [ar-BOR-ee-o]

An Italian short-grain rice, named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, where it is grown.

  • Arugula: [ah-ROO-gah-lah]

An edible plant, commonly known as salad rocket, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, roquette. Great addition to salads.

A Levantine dish of cooked eggplant (aubergine) mixed with onions, tomatoes, various seasonings. May also be called baba ghanoush, baba ghannouj or baba ghannoug).

A traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille.

  • Bruschetta: [broo-shet-uh]

An Italian dish consisting of toasted Italian bread drenched in olive oil and served with garlic or tomatoes.

  • Couscous: [COOS-coos]

A traditional Berber dish of small steamed balls of semolina, usually served with a meat or vegetable stew spooned on top. (Semolina are granules of durum wheat.)

  • Dukkah: [DUE-kuh]

Ground roast nuts and spiced sprinkled on meat or used as a dip.

  • Falafel: [fuh-LAH-fel]

Middle Eastern dish of spiced mashed chickpeas croquettes made with ground chick peas, seasoned with toasted sesame seeds and salt, usually served with pita bread.

Middle Eastern salad dish consisting of tomatoes, cucumber, and other vegetables mixed with toasted pita bread croutons.

  • Feta Cheese: [FEH-ta]

White salty Greek cheese made from goat’s milk.

  • Foul Mudammes: [MOO dah mess]

Egyptian dish made from fava beans.

Cold Spanish pureed soup made from tomatoes, cucumbers, long green peppers (not bell peppers), onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar (preferably Spanish sherry or red wine vinegar) and salt. Bread, if you insist. That’s it – served cold.

  • Hummus/Hommos: [HUM-us]

Thick paste or spread made from ground chickpeas and sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, and garlic (used as a dip with vegetables and bread).

  • Meze / Mezze: [MEZ-ay]

Variety of hot and cold dishes, served as an hors d’oeuvres

  • Moujaddara: [moo-JUD-a-rah]

A tasty dish made from pureed lentils and spices.

Moussaka is an eggplant or potato-based casserole, often including ground meat, originated in the Middle East and Greece.

A classic and very popular dish made with seafood, sausage, and rice, originating in Valencia, Spain.

A traditional Italian soup made with “pasta and beans” plus other veggies.

  • Pesto: [PESS-toe]

A sauce traditionally made with crushed garlic, European pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, and pecorino sardo (cheese made from sheep’s milk), blended with olive oil typically served with pasta.

  • Pita: [PEA-tah]

Arabic, Lebanese or Syrian slightly leavened flatbread made from wheat flour. They can be split open to hold a filling.

A vegetable dish consisting of onions, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, fried and stewed in oil and sometimes served cold.

A North African stew of spiced meat and vegetables prepared by slow cooking in a shallow earthenware cooking dish with a tall, conical lid. Can be made with lamb, chicken, other meats, or vegan style.

  • Tahini/Tahina: [tah-HEE-nee]

A Middle Eastern paste or spread made from ground sesame seeds.

A Provençal savoury paste or dip, made from black olives, capers, and anchovies. You can make your own, or buy one of the delicious varieties available at the market.

A Greek side dish of yogurt with cucumber, garlic, and often mint.

That pretty much wraps it up! Most of the descriptions above were obtained just by searching for the term on Google. Wikipedia has pretty accurate descriptions, as well.

Now it’s time to create those amazing Mediterranean dishes.