Trick of the Trade: How to Survive a Buffet

A friend on Facebook posted that she was going to a party where there would be a buffet and said she wanted to be in control.  Whenever we have a plan it puts us more in control of our situation because we are prepared.

I’ve used this over the years and, while I may eat more than I normally would, it is reasonable and easily fits into my daily menu:

First Plate: Just salad, with as many veggies as I want.  No croutons, no cheese.  Drink 2 glasses of water with this and enjoy visiting with people.

Second Plate: I divide my plate according to the diagram on the left.  Go for the dishes that are prepared without – or with little – sauces.

This particular trick works VERY well:  whenever possible eat with you back to the buffet table so you can’t see it.  If there is no seating position yourself standing with your back to the buffet.


Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

If you’ve read any of my previous posts or pages you know about something I like to call the Fitegic Trilogy:  Meaning, Motivation, and Method.

How you do it = The METHOD you are using

Your incentive for doing it = Your MOTIVATION

The underlying purpose for doing it = MEANING

My experience is that most of us pay all too much attention to the first two.

Not that the methods we use aren’t important.  First (although unfortunately many would put this second) our methods for attaining and sustaining a healthy weight must be healthy.  Second, they need to work.

Additionally, we certainly need to maintain a level of motivation strong enough to fuel our ability to continue to engage in the behaviors (our methods) that result in attaining and sustaining a healthy weight.  Unfortunately, many if not most of us, think that reaching (or maintaining) a certain number on a scale, or clothing size, or our physical appearance will have the power to keep doing what we’re doing to attain and sustain a healthy weight.

Even if our motivations don’t rest on physical appearance quite often, only 1 out 5 keep the weight off, we still relapse back into our old behaviors and gain the weight back.  For instance, say you wanted to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.  You lose your weight, your Doc takes you off your blood pressure medication.  You breathe a sigh of relief, you did it, your journey is over …

You know the rest of that story.

I know I sound like a broken record – but in order for method and motivation to have the power to drive us to “stick with it” they MUST be meaningful to you NOW.  Today.  This minute.

Don’t go a day without examining your purpose.  Question yourself.  What exactly is it that I intend to do here?  What exactly do those size 6 jeans represent in my life?  Am I looking to be self confident enough to enjoy myself when I socialize?  Am I looking to have the confidence to get a better job?  Do I want to get married?  Am I afraid of dying of a heart attack?  Do I miss being able to do things I used to enjoy?

However, even when we understand our purpose, that purpose must be in agreement with the values and principles we live by.  I guarantee you that, if it isn’t, those size 6 jeans will just be a memory before too much time goes by.

We hear a lot about how much of the “weight” we need to lose takes place in our thinking.  How we think about ourselves – and it is my experience that this is very true.  But that’s just one side of the coin.  It goes much deeper than that.  I believe that attaining and sustaining a healthy weight successfully is a metaphysical process – and by that I mean this process transcends the physical.  In other words, it takes place in that part of ourselves that we cannot physically observe.  The part where the very principles and values that direct the kind of person we strive to be live.

The part of ourselves that we don’t see in the mirror.

We’ve all heard about the person whose goal was to get rich – and then did only to find they were living an empty life.  Their lives are empty because their goal was superficial.  Being able to buy a big house in and of itself is not meaningful.  Being powerful in and of itself is not meaningful.  Social status in and of itself is not meaningful.  Of course, those people don’t necessarily behave in a way that causes them to lose their fortune.  But I believe that they suffer an even worse fate – an empty life.

The same is true when it comes to reaching a goal of attaining and sustaining a life-long healthy weight.  Even if you DIDN’T gain the weight back (which you probably will) – what you look like in and of itself is meaningless.  Even losing weight for health reasons is meaningless unless it co-exists with the goal of living your life according to your principles and values.

I’m certainly not trying to convince that you shouldn’t celebrate achieving your weight loss goals.  God knows I literally scared the woman in the next fitting room half to death when I screamed in triumph after zipping up a size 4 instead of a size 20.

What I am saying is that I would certainly be back into those size 20s these 30 years later if I hadn’t continued to match the meaning of sustaining a healthy weight with the principles and values that guide my behavior towards myself and others.








Music Does More than Keep Us Moving

The other day my BFITW (Best Friend in the World) posted on Facebook that she’d joined her local gym – which caused memory synapses to fire in my brain bringing me back to the time we’d been very serious work out partners.  This was years (and years) ago – we worked out together until life brought me a big surprise and I found myself living hundreds and hundreds of miles away – which I have ever since.

These were great memories though – and what came to my mind first was moving to the music “back in the day” – in particular to The Pointer Sisters – even more particular “Neutron Dance”.

I got to thinking about how important music can be when it comes to attaining and sustaining a healthy weight.  Seems to me that music can do three things for us:

  • Motivate Us
  • Enhance Our Mood
  • Set Our Pace

Setting our pace is perhaps the most obvious.  For instance, walking at a pace of 4 miles per hour translates into about 140 steps per minute.  Having music that moves us along at the proper pace just makes sense as it gives us something to measure our pace to.  I think music also causes our bodies to, in a sense, get “lost” in the music and can make our level of effort seem “easier” or less “uncomfortable”.



The fact that music can motivate us is equally obvious. Think “Rocky”.  Actually, think of the scene in the first movie where Rocky runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art  – but just for a moment imagine that there was no music accompanying that famous run.  Now think of it the same scene with the music – I don’t know about you but just having “Gonna Fly Now” running around in my brain makes me want to stop writing and run up a few flights of stairs – or at least walk up a few flights of stairs really really fast.

The ability of music to enhance our mood is a tool many of us overlook when it comes to weight management. Too often we relegate music’s usefulness when it comes to losing weight (and keeping it off) to our workouts.  But music not only sets our physical pace as well as motivate us to keep that pace up – it can also life our mood, inspire us, reduce our stress, and release our creativity.

Feeling a little down?  Listening to a happy, upbeat song or piece of music reminds us of the joy of living.

Stressed Out?  Listening to certain types of classical music such as Baroque can actually lower your blood pressure – if you don’t like classical there are many other types of music from other cultures and genres that have the same effect – you’ll know it when your hear it.

Uninspired?  I dare you to listen to “Chariots of Fire” from the movie of the same name without coming up with a few good ideas.  Speaking of ideas, just listening to music engages not only our ears – but our imaginations which, in turn, inspires creative thinking.  All of these things are an important component for those of us on the journey to a life-long healthy weight.  How?

The fact that music communicates meaning to us puts us more in touch with why attaining and sustaining a healthy weight is meaningful to us as at a given time – and we all know that successfully attaining and sustaining a life-long healthy weight flows from whatever your  “meaningful why” is at any given time. (If you don’t know this, click this link to learn about the “Fitegic Triology”:  Meaning, Motivation, and Method.)

A few interesting links along these lines: (Exercising Pacing and the Use of Music) (Health and Stress Reduction Benefits of Music, discusses Baroque)

Today’s Post #21211

Here we are – the Saturday you’ve been looking forward to all week.  Time to put our feet up and relax.  Only problem are those pesky chores we’ve got to get done before Monday comes!

But there is a silver lining here when it comes to attaining and sustaining a healthy weight:


As a matter-of-fact, I once had a client who absolutely REFUSED to engage in any sort of exercise program.  She insisted that she got no pleasure out of any kind of physical activity.  Suggesting a walk or bike ride on a beautiful day was fruitless.

But I did not give up – there had to be something physical she enjoyed doing.  Something physical that could give her a sense of satisfaction and that she’d be willing to do regularly.

Turned out it was housework and gardening.  Now, if she was doing housework and gardening already that would mean she was active already – right?  So, she should be losing weight and adding muscle – right?

Well, it also turned out that she was using every tool known designed to take the “effort” out of it.  So, we made a few changes:

  • She got down on her hands and knees to wash and wax her floors instead of the electric gizmo she was using
  • She swept her lino and hardwood instead of vacuuming
  • She started using a non-electric carpet sweeper during the work week
  • She did mini-lunges while vacuuming on the weekend
  • She washed dishes by hand
  • She cleaned her windows, mirrors, walls, and woodwork more often
  • She bought a push mower
  • She raked leaves with a rake instead of a blower
  • She swept her porch and deck with a broom instead of a blower
  • Instead of gathering things to be taken upstairs to reduce the number of trips, anytime she saw anything that belonged upstairs – she took them
  • I encouraged her to do her chores without taking a break for 30 minutes at a time (cardio)
  • I encouraged her to apply as much “elbow grease” as she could (strength training)

Believe it or not – doing chores became this woman’s workout program.  And it worked!

Now, not all of us are going to embrace such a plan.  I like a clean house, but it certainly isn’t my workout of choice.

On the other hand, if you’re stuck doing chores that cut into you workout plans on the weekend or during the week it’s nice to know that you can burn calories getting your chores done – and you want to do it the “old-fashioned” way to burn even more calories when getting things done means NOT getting your exercise in.

Here are a couple links regarding the subject:

This calorie calculator includes common chores around the house as well as other home maintenance activities:


What’s On Your Radar Screen?

“If you want to make God laugh – tell him your plans.”

Woody Allen

Obviously Fitegic Planning is about just that:  planning – specifically planning related to attaining and sustaining a healthy weight.  But whether you’re trying to lose weight, or stay within a healthy weight range, it seems that life gets a kick out of ruining our plans.

I don’t care what your situation or circumstances are:  rich or poor, young or old(er), stay-at-home Mom or working parent – they have a tendency to get the way, or completely keep us from, doing the things we need (want) to do – especially when it comes to weight loss and healthy weight.

Life just seems to be too complicated to add all the “more things” necessary to successfully obtain our objectives and goals.  This isn’t only true for those whose schedules are packed.  Even semi-retired Empty Nesters like myself with what must seem like all the time in the world to a young working parent with three kids has to deal with life throwing them unexpected curve balls.

Keyword:  “Unexpected”

When we plan to achieve objectives and goals – we must “expect the unexpected” in order to succeed.  But how can you plan for something you don’t know is going to happen?

Queen of analogies that I am, try thinking of it this way:

At any given time there are over 4,000 planes in the air over the United States and between 8,000 and 13,000 world-wide.  Each one of these planes follows a plan and schedule for take-off, flight pattern, and landing.  The plan for the individual planes is designed in the context of all the other planes’ plans and schedules.  Obviously, each plane has a specific objective:  get to where it is supposed to be going.  Each plane also has a specific goal:  get to where it is supposed to be going on time.

While we generally always get to where the plane is supposed to bring us (at least eventually) – quite often (some would say most often) we don’t get there on time.

But we get there – and we get there thanks to Air Traffic Control – and these technicians are experts at expecting the unexpected.

Not only do all those planes have carefully constructed flight plans – those thousands of plans are constantly monitored by Air Traffic Controllers via radar, computers, and radio transmitters.  These tools allow them to adjust flight plans when some unexpected variable occurs.

At all times Air Traffic Controllers must maintain a safe distance between planes – not an easy task when things are constantly changing and not “going according to plan”.  For instance, the hated “holding pattern” that keeps us in the air ad nauseum is what’s keeping us from crashing into another plane on the ground if our pilot attempted to land without the requisite safe space.

Some of these variables are outside the abilities of human control – such as the weather.  Some of these variables are the result of human decisions – such as an airline deciding to hold a plane until they get enough passengers on the plane and delay take-off (we know they aren’t supposed to do this, but we also know they do this all the time.)

That plane we are getting on to take us to a specific destination represents our objective:  to attain and sustain a healthy weight.  Having that plane get us there on time represents the individual goal (such as sticking to our menu consistently) that results in achieving our objective over time.

All those other planes represent all the situations and circumstances that we juggle in the process of following our plan to attain and sustain a healthy weight.

And that holding pattern?  You guessed it, that represents the inevitable “weight loss plateau” where our scale refuses to budge ad nauseum.

But the point is that the plane gets us to our destination.  Maybe not on time.  Maybe it had to change its flight plan and fly over Idaho instead of Arizona and that took a little longer.  Maybe we got stuck in a two hour holding pattern (“I can SEE the airport, if only we could LAND at the airport!”)

Plane crashes, while huge news, are extremely rare and this is thanks to Air Traffic Controllers.  On the other hand, either “giving up” on losing weight or “gaining it back” is unfortunately all too common – a 1 out of 5 success rate is the most positive statistic I could find.

We certainly wouldn’t accept 1 out of 5 planes crashing just because something unexpected came up and the Air Controller said “Oh well, that plan didn’t work out.  I should have known it wasn’t worth the effort of trying.”

The point is that we must all, in a way, be our own Air Traffic Controller when it comes to achieving our objectives and goals.  We must monitor and manage our plan constantly.  The tools we use to do this may be different than those of the Controller, but their function is the same.  In essence our plan must include the tactic of regular and consistent scanning in order to identify, and make the necessary adjustments.

It may require a detour:  “I can’t go to the gym after work due to an unscheduled business meeting.  I’ll substitute marching in place while I watch the 7 o’clock news.”

It may require establishing a holding pattern:  “OK, so the scale isn’t budging.  I’ll make a renewed effort to be more honest when I keep my food journal and put $10 into my new wardrobe fund for every week I keep to my menu.”

What’s on YOUR radar screen?

Take a minute to scan the rest of your day right now.  Do you see any blips on your radar screen?  If you do, consider what adjustments you need to make – and make them.


Today’s Post It Note #21011

A long, long time ago in a high school far away lived a girl who just knew her life would work if she could just grow her hair out to all one length.

There was plenty of evidence that achieving her lofty goal would bring her the results she so desired.  After all, it worked for Peggy Lipton on Mod Squad.   There she was in all her glory week after week on the television screen.  All the boys adored her, all the girls wanted to be her.  And, it worked closer to home as well.  Take Sabrina in biology with the all-one-length tresses.  With just a toss of her head, she could get the attention of any boy – including the teacher.

Of course you’re reading this post as an adult which means you that, even if I did (yes, it was me) have the patience to live through such trying times, you’re sure that this monumental achievement  did not make my life work.

Many of us have similar feelings – or should I say hope – about losing weight.  If we could just lose the weight then our lives would work.  We’d get that promotion.  We’d meet our soul mate.  We’d be better parents to our kids.  We’d write that book.  We’d buy that house.  We’d take that vacation.  We’d get more organized.  We’d manage our time better.

We’d….fill in the blank.

I can tell you that, when I was obese, I certainly entertained ideas similar to “if only I wasn’t fat my life would work.”  Or, even more often, I felt certain that the fact that I was fat PROVED that I did not have what it took to live a “normal” life which, of course, meant that my life would “work” in the ways I desired but were not present in my life at the time.

Losing the weight did not make my life work – or did it?

If you think about it, even something as mundane as going through what it took to grow my hair out does, in fact, contribute to “making my life work.”  Why?  Because every experience life brings us brings with it the opportunity for personal growth.  I wasn’t an exceptionally patient teenager – growing my hair out meant I had to practice patience.  So, while having long, one-length hair did not result in my becoming a popular Home Coming Queen, it certainly wasn’t a useless experience.

Losing weight in and of itself will not get you that promotion, or be a better parent.  However, successfully making it through the life-long process of attaining and sustaining a healthy weight in and of itself requires that you develop or improve characteristics and qualities, as well as live according principles and values that do indeed “make your life work.”


Today’s Post It Note #2911

Most of have heard the news about lowering salt intake – and dismissed it thinking we were already on a low salt program just by putting the shaker down.  But what if I told you that paying MUCH more attention to your salt intake can show up by lowering that number on the scale or how easy it is to continue being able to zip up those “skinny (or skinnier) jeans”?

The other day I was talking to My Best Friend in the Whole World (other than my husband).  She’s working towards attaining a healthy weight and has been doing great.

However, she kept “going up and down” – not a lot, she was averaging a pound or more a week – but couldn’t understand the up and down routine.  She wasn’t “plateauing” as she was losing a reasonable amount of weight per week – she just seemed to be taking two steps forward and then one back – which was frustrating.

Then she took a good look at what she was eating – specifically sodium content.  She’s the kind of person who generally “goes on a kick” and eats the same thing every day for a period of time – so it wasn’t hard to identify the main culprit.  So she stopped eating that.

Next morning she got on the scale and more than 2 pounds were missing from her body.

I’m skipping the health benefits of lowering our salt intake this post – let’s just say that we all agree it is a given that too much salt is bad for our health – very bad.

Some of you reading this may have as their “meaningful why” for losing weight regaining or sustaining a state of good health – but I’m pretty sure that ALL of you reading this have a goal of attaining and sustaining a healthy weight.

And getting rid of too much salt is a good method to add to your tool box.

The new recommendation says we shouldn’t have more than 1500 milligrams if we are in a “high salt sensitivity” group – like me:  over 50.  This means no more than about a half teaspoon a day.  If you’re not in one of these groups it is 2300 milligrams (about a teaspoonful.)

(See links below for more info on risk groups as well as things to do to lower your salt intake.)

If you look at that can of soup you might be contemplating having for lunch today, you might notice that your cup of soup has almost 500 mg – even though it might be labeled as low sodium.

Fact is:  salt has been added in dangerous amounts to generally EVERYTHING that is “pre-packaged” or manufactured for our consumption.

“See?” you might be thinking, “I don’t have control over how much salt I eat.”  To a certain extent you’d be right – which is why you MUST take as much control as you can.

I gave that can of soup as an example because I’d pulled one out of the pantry while I was talking to my friend.  We too lamented about how much salt was present, and then my friend said:

“Well, I guess we could make our own soup.”

Yes Virginia:  The simplest solutions are usually the best — So are the most obvious.