Archive for the ‘pleasure principle’ Category

Easy Black Bean Salad

This salad is so delicious.  We ate it as a side dish one night, for lunch the next day, and as a snack with crackers on day three.  It’s super good for you, totally vegan, and comes together in about 10 minutes.  Great for hot summer days.

This is what you need. I got this out of the Forks Over Knives book you see in the background.

Black Bean Salad

2 cans of black beans, rinsed well (if you don’t rinse them well, they’ll turn the salad grey)

1 large tomato, diced

1 bag of frozen corn

1/2 red onion, diced

the juice of 1 lime

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Mix all the ingredients and serve!  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

It makes a great side dish for anything grilled.




Hey, Look at Me! I’m Trying to be a Blogger!

I am a goal-oriented person.  I like setting them, planning my strategies for achieving them, and bragging about them later.  My affinity for goals is probably my primary source of self-esteem.  So, in order to boost my flagging self-image, I’m setting a couple for July.

July will be the month of “Dogs and Blogs.”

Here are my goals:

1.  Exercise my dogs several times a week.  I live in the deep South with a good, fenced-in backyard.  My dogs live outdoors.  It’s stinking hot.  Too hot to walk a dog.  But, I’m going to even if it’s just a little.  My dogs are out of shape.  They’ll tire quickly.

2.  Blog more.  My goal is to blog 15 times this month.  I’m also going to take more pictures.  I don’t usually take my own pictures, but I’m going to.  Otherwise, how will I ever get better at it.

I think that getting a little more exercise at night with the dogs and being a little more conscienscious (did I spell that right?) with my food, I should see my dogs become more pleasant company and my food get interesting again.  (I’m pretty sick of humus and crackers, pasta, Boca burgers and canned minestrone soup.)  I may even see the 3 pounds I gained in Disney World magically disappear.

Jumping off the Diet Rollercoaster: Change Your Mindset

Are you or do you know one of those people that lose weight on a diet and then gain it all back?  Do you have 3 sizes of clothing in your closet: your normal size, your been-on-a-diet size, and your need-to-get-back-on-my-diet size?  Are you starting to feel like there is not way to maintain a healthy weight for your whole life?  If you’re wondering what diet will work for you, the answer is probably all of them and none of them.  Let me explain.

My sister made an excellent observation years ago when we were all doing the Atkins diet, scarfing down lunch meat and eschewing carbs.  She said, “No matter how long I stay on Atkins or how much I lose, I’m never going to forget that ice cream tastes good.”  She really got me thinking.  What diet will ever work if it requires me to go my whole life without enjoying the food I really love?  I know myself well enough to know that I will eat what I want eventually.  I might be able to deny myself something sweet or buttery for a while, but eventually I’ll be at a wedding or a party or a movie, and I’ll let loose.  I’m not ready or willing to be on a diet that restricts my ability to have the food I love for very long.

I, and I think a lot of others, can watch what I eat for several weeks, maybe even months, and see some weight loss.  That’s why any diet will work.  If you become conscious of what you’re eating and eat less, you’ll lose weight.  But, I can’t live like that forever.  I don’t have never-ending willpower, and that’s why diets don’t work.  Whatever weight you or I lose by restricting our diets dramatically will inevitably return when we relax.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t fight that war forever!  I quit.  In fact, I quit a couple years ago.  No more dieting.  No more fat-free creamer, sugar-free cookies, lite bread, food journals, diet pills, cheating or binges.

The only thing that will make me a thin person for the rest of my life is behaving like a thin person for the rest of my life.  Eating good food (as in healthy and appetizing) when I’m hungry and finding something to do for entertainment other than eat are the keys for me.  Being vegan has helped me to learn to enjoy healthy food.  (I still love sweets, but I have a new appreciation for fruit salads, grilled pineapple, and vegan baked goods.)  I’m less addicted to junk food and crave it less often.  But, I’m not on a “vegan diet.”  I’m not waiting until I go on vacation to “cheat.”  I’m not planning what I’ll eat when I’ve lost my weight and I can go off my diet.

I guess what I’m saying is that before you can change your weight, change your mindset toward food.  Read these success stories from the National Weight Control Registry and see if you see what I saw.

I identify with this guy’s food addiction. Maybe that’s why both of us found help in being vegan.

The change in food (and subsequently their weight) came after the changes in the way they thought about themselves.  They took an objective look at what and why they ate.  No gimmicks.  No diets.

How to start your day like a rockstar

I love these thoughts.  We should all tap into our inner celebrity!  this post is brilliant.  i only wish I had thought of it.

How to start your day like a rockstar.

Better Food Can Boost Your Weight Loss

If you’ve been reading lately, you know that I’ve been suggesting resolutions that have nothing to do with dieting.  I’m going to waver just a tiny bit today.  Today I want to suggest that you resolve to eat the highest quality, most natural food you can afford.  It’s kind of a diet, but not like you’re used to.  You’ll lose weight, but you will have to think about food and your body differently.

First, your body knows what to do with real food.  Your body is from nature and your food should be too!  You have a digestive system that is fully capable of digesting potatoes and bread.  A healthy human can successfully metabolize natural sugars from the sugar cane plant or honey.  Carbs, like the kind in rice and grains, are natural and beneficial to your body.  Fats, like the kind in olives, avocados, and nuts, are natural and beneficial to your body.  Your body has the most amazing ability to extract the nutrients it needs and combine them in ways that are useful.  You don’t have to count your grams of protein or obsess about calories.  Your body can get what it needs from natural food.  In fact, it can get what it needs from plants(!) 95% of the time.  (That’s what I mean by vegan-ish—my goal is for less than 5% of my diet to come from animal sources.)

Also, food made in a laboratory is not natural.  If the ingredient list looks like the answer key for a chemistry test, it’s not natural.  Don’t eat it!  Real food is not designed to sit on a shelf for 6 months without going bad.  If bacteria don’t even want to eat it, why would you?  Besides, switching to artificial sweeteners will not help you in the long run.  Buying everything fat free will not help you in the long run.  You know how I know this?  Because every fat person I know drinks diet soft drinks and eats low fat mayonnaise.  You will undermine your health by turning your digestive system into a chemical treatment plant.  Eat food make in a kitchen, not in a laboratory!

Lastly, trust that your body can regulate its own weight.  Remember that feeling of hunger and satisfaction?  That’s your body’s way of letting you know when and what and how much to eat.  For millennia, human beings ate according to what was available and what their bodies wanted and they managed to stay thin.  My grandparents have lived to ripe old ages in good health by eating regular food when their bodies required it.

With those thoughts in mind, resolve to eat the highest quality, most natural food you can afford.  Don’t worry if you can’t buy organic produce.  Buy produce.  Don’t worry if you’re not shopping at the bakery for your breads.  Just buy bread with the fewest fake ingredients.  (Watch out for high fructose corn syrup.  It’s fake no matter what the corn sugar folks tell you.)  And quit ignoring your urge to eat peanut butter and bananas because peanut butter is high in fat and you read somewhere that bananas have too many carbs.  Eat guacamole.  (It’s great on a salad.)  Order the hummus and olive plate even though they serve it with extra oil.  Just eat when you’re stomach growls, savor each bite, and stop before you have any regrets.  It’ll be the best non-diet diet you’ve ever lost weight on!

Don’t Diet–Pursuit Pleasure for the New Year

The second in my suggested list of non-dieting resolutions was to pursuit simple pleasure.  I need to clarify this before someone gets the idea that I’m advocating hedonism.  We should review a few principles about true pleasure.

First, simple pleasure does not come back to haunt you.  There is a difference between pursuing pleasure and making mistakes.  You could enjoy the sensation of quitting your job and telling your boss what you’ve always thought of her.  That moment would bring you great pleasure. But…the aftermath would be bad.  If you’re overweight then you’re in the habit of choosing a pleasure that comes back to haunt you.  You’ve been choosing to eat junk for the good feeling of it and suffering the consequences later.  That’s not the kind of pleasure I’m talking about.  The pleasure I’m talking about isn’t stuffing yourself with food to gratify an immediate appetite.  I’m talking about something that enriches your mind and spirit. 

Second, simple pleasure does not have to be elaborate.  Sometimes the best things are the simplest.  In fact, to me, the best pleasure is the satisfaction of a job well done.  (That’s how I’ll feel after I post this J)  Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because something is small that it’s not special.  I have a bouquet of flowers on my dinner table right now that bring me pleasure.  Reading a good book in a bed with clean sheets is a great pleasure.  There are lots of non-food pleasures that you may have overlooked.  Find them.  They will be unique to you and they will be worth the effort.  You should try to have something pleasurable every day, no matter how small it is.

Third, simple pleasure will help you be happier and being happier will help you be healthier.  I believe that the world was made beautiful because God wants us to enjoy it.  He gave us taste buds, olfactory lobes, musical octaves and nerve endings that register tastes, smells, harmonies, and sensations because he knew we would need them.  Enjoying these things brings us to a state heightened peace.   You need to cultivate pleasure to escape from the stress of life.

Pleasure is one major reason why I will never diet again.  Dieting and Pleasure are mutually exclusive.  Dieting is about removing from your life the foods that bring you pleasure.  I do not want to do that.  What I want to do is add more pleasure to my life that has nothing to do with food.  I plan ahead of time (and I use visual imagery to help—more about that in a later post) to find pleasure that doesn’t involve food.  For example, when I get home at night I put on comfortable clothes and relax on my front porch for a few minutes if the weather is nice.  When I fix dinner, I think about the beauty of the food and the satisfaction of feeding my family the old-fashioned way—sitting down at a table full of homemade food.  In the evenings I think about the warmth of a cup of hot tea and the contentment of stretching out on the sofa.  I can fill an evening with simple pleasures that have nothing to do with food.  And, pursuing that kind of pleasure is a much better resolution than dieting.

Non-Dieting Resolution: Release Stress

Research shows that elevated stress levels cause an increase in the body’s production of cortisol and that cortisol promotes weight gain by slowing your metabolism and storing fat around your belly.  It also affects your body’s ability to control its blood sugar.  So it could be making you tired and crave sugar!

My personal research is much less scientific.  Stress makes me fat.  It makes me crave food for comfort and entertainment.  It makes me much less likely to coerce myself into exercising.  And, it makes it nearly impossible for me to concentrate and keep my priorities (good health and the pursuit of pleasure) in line.  Unfortunately, stress is unavoidable.  To help manage your stress level, mull over some of these thoughts and suggestions.

First, determine what stress-causers are changeable and unchangeable.   Pardon me for stating the obvious, but make a list of what you can and cannot change!  For example, having to work 40 hours a week and take care of multiple children is stressful, but there’s nothing I can do about it.  However, having to pack lunches in a cluttered kitchen every morning while rushing said children to school is something I can change.  Two years ago I came to the conclusion that watching what I eat is a stress-causer, but one I cannot avoid.  I have to watch my weight to keep it down or I’ll watch it go up.  Either way, I will experience some level of stress.  I decided I’d rather have the stress on the front end and make healthy, albeit less convenient food choices, then on the back end and never have any clothes that fit or self-confidence.

Second, develop strategies for coping with your stress.  As I mentioned before, I have to pack lunches.  My strategy is to de-clutter the kitchen, pack lunches at night and make the kids pack their own a couple days a week. For my weight, I adopted a vegan-ish lifestyle. As a vegan, I still have to watch my food, but I don’t have to watch my calories.

For the stress you cannot avoid, find something relaxing to do.  I find deep breathing helpful.  For more information about breathing for relaxation, read Dr. Andrew Weil’s book Breathing:  The Master Key to Self Healing.  His techniques were designed to reduce the effect stress has on the body and to open the mind to helpful, constructive suggestions.  Let me also suggest wine and a pretty porch.  Nothing melts stress for me like alcohol and the great outdoors.  You may prefer a bubble bath or tunes on the iPod.  Whatever works works!  Just don’t leave your stress relief to chance.  Take control of your health and happiness in every way you can!

Third, if you’re really overwhelmed, consult an expert.  Don’t rule out the value of a few counseling sessions or hypnotherapy or a life coach.  When stress starts to get ahead of me, I scour the library’s website for help.  That’s where I found Dr. Andrew Weil’s book.  Whatever you do, resolve that you will not let stress steal your health this year.  Make relaxing one of your new priorities.

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