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Balancing Foodie/Health Issues

Waaah... I'm almost 50, and have never had to seriously contemplate the food/health thing... about weight.

No more. Though I've embraced a pretty low-carb way of eating - because I genuinely FEEL much better, even that isn't working as well as it did in my forties, and I actually enjoy eating healthy fats, LOVE veggies, eat meat maybe once a week... but there's still a slow gain.

How do y'all reconcile that? I'm a generally active person, but LOATHE regimented exercise.
There's no happy answer, and I'm going to have to buy an infomercial thing, because I don't have time to go to the gym (working single parent), right?

Damn it!


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  1. I hear you. I'm starting to really hassle my sweetie to cope with big piles of veggies some days. I do my best on just meat and veggies, no grains, but...

    Hey, random exercise idea, since I just came from the dojang - my taekwondo class is full of parents whose kids are the kids class in the next room. Everyone gets their exercise and goes home together. Pretty nifty and cheaper than a lot of gyms/daycare.

    1. have the fridge stocked with low cal food that is cooked and ready-to-go.
      two of the things in my fridge now--vegetable soup made without beans or grain or fat.
      cucumber salad made with no sugar nor fat.

      i try to have a serving of some of these very low-cal foods BEFORE eating anything that is more calorically dense.

      1. It sucks but our body's metabolism naturally slows down as we age. Blah. Personally, I'd rather exercise more and continue eating how I eat (which like you is pretty healthy). However, you can also just cut back a little on those extra calories which you may not miss that much. Healthy oils are good for you but they still pack calories (100 per tb). Try halving the amount of oil you use when cooking. Limit the amount of juice you drink. Healthy yes but quite caloric if you drink more than a very small glass. Another strategy is eating 6 small meals throughout the day, limiting low glycemex carbs which you seem to be doing already. If you stick to it you may be able to get away with not cutting your calories because eating that way raises your metabolism. Unfortunately for me my work schedule makes it almost impossible to do that, which I suppose is most people's excuse:) good luck!

        1. I eat healthy, try to count calories and take at least 5 classes a week at my gym. All that's done is stop the gain! My last resort is going to be cutting out my before-dinner drink, even though I count the calories there too. Now I found out I have high cholesterol (runs in my family) but with all this snow, I can't even lose weight with doctor's orders. I need some inspiration...like a class reunion maybe?

          The counting of calories really works, but it takes time to look each thing up so I just guess sometimes. Obviously I'm not doing a perfect job there!! This has been going on for five years, since I turned 50 myself, not to discourage you or anything. I'd love to have a magic answer myself. PS My gym has a kid's room for the little ones, and once they hit teenhood they often start working out with parents.

          1. Simple: Eat less, take in fewer calories; exercise more, burn more calories.

            12 Replies
            1. re: beevod

              That's my belief, it's not rocket science. Obviously some people have physiological issues that make it harder to maintain or lose weight. I've embraced the concept of accepting that sometimes I'm going to be hungry. For some people, that is inconceivable.
              If you overeat by X number of calories, you have to account for that by cutting back on subsequent meals and/or exercising enough to use some of those excess calories.

              1. re: BeeZee

                Too many people are of the belief that just because they're hungry, they must eat.

                1. re: beevod

                  And sometimes when you think you "feel" hungry, a glass of water will suffice.

              2. re: beevod

                Yep. A little "Eat less, move more" with a dash of "Think before you consume" works pretty well for me too.

                1. re: beevod

                  It sounds like the OP is aware of that but is asking for hints on how to do it, in the life of a single parent who loves food.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I think that is the point - there is no secret, no "tips" that aren't pretty well known to many. If, for whatever reason, an individual elects to be fit, then a certain amount of balance when it comes to diet and exercise is mandatory.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      Yes, but people do it in different ways and if you polled all CH or gym rats even, you'll get different answers on how people fit it in and what works best for them. And, maybe some of the answers will work for the OP which I thought is the reason she asked. As a personal trainer, I find it's more helpful for clients to set concrete plans rather than just saying "cut back on calories and burn off more than you take in." Everyone knows that.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Yes, but, in the end, what's more important: the plan or the commitment to the goal?

                        The way I see it, we're 'hounds, right? If that means the price of the prime NY strip I intend to eat tonight is shovelling a few driveways, then let me grab my gloves.

                        1. re: MGZ

                          The plan is the commitment to the goal. Concrete goals are what get the best results. I can tell someone to work out 5 hours a week, or I can say, on Monday do xxxx, Tuesday do yyyy and that's more helpful. Even your example is helpful--if she pictured working out in exchange for a nice piece of steak, that might be more motivating, and give her a place to start, rather than just saying calories in, calories out which she already realizes.

                          1. re: chowser

                            While I am sure your approach may be successful for many, it may not be best for all. The goal and the plan one devises to reach it are not the same. Just as the destination is not the same as the path one travels; some may prefer to climb the mountain then follow the trail.

                            Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht.

                            1. re: MGZ

                              My point in responding to this whole thing is the OP has said she watches what she eats and knows she should work out so does anyone have advice on it, from a CH perspective so it seemed redundant to tell her to watch what she eats and exercise. I think she's aware of that.

                  2. I am 48 and know exactly what you mean. I try to eat healthy and succeed most of the time but I do like a treat now and again. I also love to cook and with 3 teenagers I do a lot of it. It's such a struggle!

                    I have found that the only thing that works for me is vigorous exercise and lots of it. I am at the gym 5-6 days a week doing cardio and weights. At first I absolutely hated it. Now 5 years later it is just part of my life. It takes up a lot of time but has enabled me to stay slim without a starvation diet.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: baseballfan

                      Here, here. No one likes regimented exercise, but it's one of the many things that we do for other things (in this case, health and the right to eat more).

                    2. Wait--you say you've "embraced a low-carb way of eating" but you only eat meat once a week? Are you eating eggs? Do you count fish as meat? Cut down on the veggies. WAY down. Stick to the green ones. Vegetables still turn to sugar in the end and the older we get the less we can tolerate sugar. As far as exercise goes, lift weights, don't kill yourself with cardio. I'd also suggest picking up Gary Taubes' "Why We Get Fat," which is a more streamlined version of his book "Good Calories, Bad Calories." It's not about how many calories, but what kind.

                      1. dearcallie--sounds like you WANT to exercise more...how about walking with a friend after work? or before work? just throwing out an idea...if you are moving around with someone you like it's more enjoyable... Also, how about walking for part of your lunch hour at work? With a co-worker who also wants to exercise more? Not always practical, I realize, but when I need to take the mail across the street for work, I tack on about 15 minutes. (weather permitting, we're in sultry SWFL)...taking the stairs as many times as possible during the work day is great also, and I usually run up 3 flights as often as I can during the work day. heh.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Val

                          or walk to work!
                          Also, walk to grocery store, with backpack. If kid is age-appropriate, let them carry stuff home too. Kill three birds, one stone -- spend time with kids, weight lifting, and prepping food for the next week.

                        2. You didn't say how old your kid(s) is/are, so I don't know if you ever have any 'me' time at home.... BUT how about putting together a playlist of your favorite dance songs and twist, shimmy, or bop your way through an hour of that in your own living room? I know it sounds silly, but I find that it's much more enjoyable (and easier to accomplish since you don't even have to leave the house) than zombie-ing it on the treadmill or such.

                          I only got this idea b/c I spent the better part of our new year's eve party dancing (it's a 7 hr. playlist), and realized that one can work up quite the sweat while having a blast. I don't just dance, but do all kinds of kick boxing moves, etc., to get a good schwitz going.

                          The bonus is that you can choose the songs YOU like, as opposed to taking an aerobic class where you're subjected to mindless Euro trash. Unless you love Euro trash, then of course you can dance to that in your own four walls :-D

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: linguafood

                            That is a great idea, Linguafood - dancing with the tots!
                            I was also going to tell the OP that you might want to think about sacrificing a little sleep (i know, you're probably tired being a single working mom) and get up even half an hour earlier than you do now, than your kids do, and force yourself to exercise. Maybe make a commitment to yourself that it is something you will do 3 times a week for the next 3 months. After that 3 months I'll bet you'll feel so much better that you'll find other ways to fit in the time. I never found the time (but don't have your constraints) when i was not in the work-out groove. Once it became something i felt i HAD to do, it was much easier to fit in, just like you fit in doing laundry, brushing your teeth, etc. you do it because you need to (and of course brushing your teeth feels so good after - but so does exercise!)

                            This may seem impossible to imagine, but if you have children and a job, the only time you can realistically cut into is your sleep (other than sneaking in walks from further away in the parking lot here, taking the steps there instead of the elevator - which are good things to do). getting in shape will give you energy and you won't miss that half hour after awhile.

                            good luck, it is not easy, but working out as you get older HAS to become a necessity for you.

                          2. Sometimes losing weight isn't just about eating less or exercising more. If your thyroid levels are low, you can add weight despite doing everything 'right'. Find a doctor who will check your thyroid levels AND knows that just looking at yourTSH levels isn't enough- you also should check your free T3 & free T4 levels. Many thyroid problems go undiagnosed- check out the symptoms of hypothyroidism to see if they sound familiar.

                            1. If you're active, you may not need regimented exercise, but it really does help to build and maintain lean body mass when it comes to weight and health maintenance, especially if you're already getting physical activity in in other ways. I have maintained weight and improved my health with a very low carb diet for many years even without exercise for long periods, but over 55 now, I'm finding that while I prefer chuck pot roast, cutting back to sirloin in terms of fat content, or to 2$ from full fat Greek yogurt helps a bit, though nothing is as helpful for me or my husband as cutting out starches and sugar.

                              If there's room to dial back starches and replace with a lot more leafy, high fiber, colorful veggies and salads, that can help. Also, fat doesn't stimulate the hormone that raises blood sugar after a meal nor insulin that signals your body to store fat, so strict calories in/out does not apply to human metabolism the way it does to machines, but at some point, especially close to your goal weight, calories do matter.

                              I, too, wonder how you can eat truly low carb without meat, unless you just mean animal protein from the hoof? Adequate protein is also key to lean body mass maintenance and also satiety/lack of hunger after eating.

                              As an aside, an awful lot of people of all ages seem to really love playing/working out with Nintendo Wii Fit.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: mcf

                                I'm sorry, I wasn't really specific. By meat, I meant red meat. I do eat chicken and fish, eggs and also nuts for protein. No sugar, potatoes, white bread, chips, crackers - with the very occasional whole grain version as a treat. I don't drink fruit juice, and eat a lot more veggies than whole fruits.

                                I guess it's just frustrating that eating this way for several decades has been enough to not have to think about my weight, but it's no longer working. I guess it's just an age/general metabolism thing creeping up on me.

                                Thanks for all the suggestions - clearly I'm going to have to re-think things, including actually exercising. In the morning. Before coffee at the office. (we have a local coffee roaster client and it's so good, I wait until I get there to grind beans and make a fresh pot).

                                Ah, well...

                                1. re: dearcallie

                                  Life is so full of rude awakenings, innit? ;-)

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    Yes, yes it is. :-D

                                    I'll quit bitchin'... I know I've been spoiled with stupidly healthy peasant genes. It's just... a bit of an unpleasant surprise to realize I can no longer get away the lazy way out...not a big complaint in the scheme of things, I know.

                                  2. re: dearcallie

                                    As metabolism slowing down goes, a part of that is losing muscle mass which we do post 30. Strength training will help in that aspect, though not related to CH.

                                2. I was 285lbs when I was 20 - I'm 175lbs now through diet and exercise.....along the way I also got my MD and a minor in nutrition.......and developed a serious love for fine dining.

                                  In general the answer lies in calories in/calories burned - I run daily, it is something I love or else I wouldn't do it. The key is finding that exercise you love and doing it, regularly.

                                  For my diet - in general I focus on protein and fibrous veggies - I also don't eat packaged foods or fast food as a rule. It doesn't satisfy the "foodie" part of me and it certainly doesn't do any good for my health.

                                  Like everything else it is about finding a balance.


                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: uhockey

                                    Congratulations on that--impressive. You probably make a great role model to your patients, too.

                                    "The key is finding that exercise you love and doing it, regularly."

                                    Ding, ding--that's the best answer.

                                    1. re: uhockey

                                      Wow, your efforts have paid off! You sound a bit like my internist who specializes in lipids...he looks a lot like a gymnast and I don't think I've ever seen him in a white coat. He also likes the lean protein/fibrous vegetable focus and gave me a link to www.dailyburn.com
                                      In the waiting room, they play exercise videos, not crappy news or talk shows and I *LOVE* that.
                                      When I first went to him for a check up, he was elated that I do my own cooking and grow (some of) my own vegetables. Yes, we ARE all different but finding that balance is very important for diet, exercise and let's not forget, stress-relief & good rest via meditation, prayer, etc. Some of us get that from exercise, I realize, too.

                                      1. re: Val

                                        Yeah, I do cardio/step and weight lifting for three classes, but then yoga and Pilates the other two to counterbalance. With Zumba thrown in for fun sometimes; the time of the class isn't convenient, later than I like, but it's a nice change. I don't love working out, and neither do most of the other ladies in my classes, we watch the clock like crazy, but the way you feel when it's over is great.

                                        1. re: Val

                                          Very nice. I'm actually an endocrine fellow with primary interest in lipids and metabolic management. I love the idea of exercise videos in the lobby.


                                      2. I'm going to have to buy an infomercial thing, because I don't have time to go to the gym (working single parent)
                                        how about taking walks with your kids? or finding a Mommy & Me activity you can enjoy together? a friend of mine (single mom who works full-time) takes martial arts classes with her daughters, and they all love it. there's also the DVD option, or get yourself some resistance bands and/or free weights to use at home. higher lean mass = higher resting metabolic rate.

                                        the reality is that our metabolic rate drops progressively as we age. the only ways to counteract it are to decrease calorie intake and/or increase exercise. so if you REALLY can't find a way to get moving more regularly, i suggest cutting back slightly on *portion size* instead of giving up foods you love completely. and if you don't already bring your lunch to work, start doing it - that's one of the easiest healthful changes anyone can make.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Even caloric decrease has less effect as we age - the key is exercise. Obviously the calories in are important - it takes a lot of work to burn off a single slice of cake - but in terms of maintaining BMR and BMI, one must commit to activity.


                                          1. re: uhockey

                                            the key is exercise
                                            not always an option. i've had older clients who were immobilized due to injury or illness, and still helped them take off weight with dietary adjustments. but i *always* recommend increased exercise when it's viable.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I have to agree that while exercise is always optimal and desirable, I've been able to completely control my weight and diabetes, reversing neuropathies and kidney damage, with low carb diet alone for long periods of time. Just gets harder with age unless calories are also restricted. So for me, the key is diet modification, not exercise. My husband, OTOH, must exercise a lot in addition to eating low carb to lose weight these days.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                I guess that argues to a different population, though - what is the goal of that weight loss and does it have clinically meaningful effects? I'm certainly not saying diet is not important, but if a person is entirely incapable of exercise of any form then I rather doubt it is in their best interest to be on a hypocaloric diet as they are clearly recovering from a significant insult.


                                                1. re: uhockey

                                                  but if a person is entirely incapable of exercise of any form then I rather doubt it is in their best interest to be on a hypocaloric diet as they are clearly recovering from a significant insult.
                                                  i'm not talking starvation diet here. as long as intake of essential nutrients is sufficient and the patient is consuming enough protein to support tissue repair, a slight reduction in energy intake can be beneficial...particularly if you focus on decreasing foods that can contribute to inflammation.

                                                  but we're getting way off topic here. (speaking of which, i don't know if i've ever mentioned this but i enjoy your restaurant reviews!)

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Good points for sure, the benefits of healthy fats (back on topic) are something most folks do not focus on nearly enough. Not only are they quality calories, but I think research is only scratching the surface on their benefits in decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.

                                                    And thank you for the compliment, I quite enjoy your posts here as well.


                                          2. Smaller portions.

                                            Bechemel with skim comes out great. Pureed cauliflower is ever better than potatoes. (imo)

                                            I got a dog. Walking kept me from gaining any weight last year.

                                            I agree on the "having low fat snacks ready to to". Bean dip and hommus have become standard fare in our house.

                                            Also, get rid of "junk" in your house and save it for a treat, that you have to go out for. Preferably, walk to your treat.

                                            1. I'd say you were on to something with the original notion of listening to your body better. You can avoid the time and mental anguish of calorie counting, by starting with a few basics:
                                              1. Eat real, whole, satiating food.
                                              no boxes, no cans, no salty low-call soup, no fake-sugar low-cal yogurt. No 100 calorie snack packs.

                                              2. Eat more fiber.
                                              It blows me away that no-one advertises the connection to excess cholesterol in your blood stream to fiber. Whether consumed or generated. Chol. is a building block sent out to repair tissue damage. Your body tries it's best to flush it. But give it some help. Eat high fiber foods, oats for breakfast, more hard vegatables or give your body a boost by supplementing Psylium husk etc.

                                              3. Find someway to be more active. This doesn't have to be regimented exercise that you loathe, but walk more, ban elevators, drive less, take walks at work, etc. and seriously, add one dedicated activity to your week.

                                              4. Eat what you want, but focus on quality / provenance of ingredients and quantity. Eat for taste, not the feeling of being full.

                                              5. Throw in some supplemental whole food products here and there: Flax seed meal, pro-biotics, chlorophyl, psylium husk, macca.... just a lil' every once in a while to give your body some of the trace chemistry it may be missing in our empty calorie culture.
                                              There are loads of small things.

                                              ps: my wife is a clinical nutritionist and a holistic health practitioner. She eats ice cream daily. She can change your life if you want.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: sagerussell

                                                Well, here's the thing... I already do a lot of what has been suggested. I eat no fast food - or *maybe* once or twice a year, don't eat processed foods, bring lunch - generally a big salad with proteins or a baked sweet potato, LOVE veggies - one of my favorite dinners is a big plate of Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil, seasoned salt and a glass of white wine... and it's just not working the way it used to.

                                                Fitting in exercise is tricky. I drop my 10 yr old of at before-care at 7:30 to be at the office at 8. I leave work at 5, pick him up from after-care about quarter to 6, get him home and fed by about 6:30, then it's 2 hours of homework. (he has ADHD and very mild Aspergers, and it takes a LOT of monitoring to get him through assignments). By then I'm BEAT. I have a very client oriented job that takes a lot of mental energy. I love it, but it's exhausting.

                                                Anyway, all of the responses have been really helpful. I'm just going to have to suck it up, and realize things aren't working as well as they used to. I actually did buy an "infomercial" thing, lol. It's a down-sized elliptical type apparatus, and the plan is to get up earlier and use it for a half hour every morning while watching the news. I'm actually kind of excited about it's arrival.

                                                Not as excited as I would be about an invitation to a really great restaurant, but still... ;-)

                                                1. re: dearcallie

                                                  While I do not have children and cannot empathize on that aspect, I will note that I have to be to work by 6:30am daily and I often don't leave the office until 5:30 or 6:00 - and by then the last thing I want to do is exercise. I overcame this by getting up an hour earlier than I once did and going to the gym then (my apartment complex fortunately has a 24-hour gym.)

                                                  Being healthy is hard in modern America, but it is worth it.

                                                  I'd also consider keeping a food journal for 2 weeks - EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth - and then sitting down and figuring out how many calories you are really eating. Many would be shocked.


                                                  1. re: uhockey

                                                    Yeah... BC and AC are two entirely different things. Haven't had much luck... OVER focusing on food intake -and don't own a scale - but I know that works for some.

                                                    Thanks for your input - success stories of any stripe are always inspiring! :-)