Nutrition is polarizing. Nutrition is not black and white. Nutrition can not and never should be the same for everyone. These statements are the reason we have so many diet books, nutritional questions and a population of people that have analysis by paralysis on trying to eat “healthy.”
As I have written before, not all proteins are created equal. Some contain more essential amino acids than others. To keep from rehashing old material click on the link above to read about the differences in proteins.
The biggest question I get is “How much protein should I take in?” This is a great question and one that has been researched for the past 50 years. The results may be slightly different but the one fact that stays the same is “it depends on your activity and level of intensity.” Meaning in order to know how much you should take in, you need to align your intake with your activity and how vigorous that activity is.
In a normal untrained person, the recommended protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). This recommendation is for sedentary people and only is a bare minimum to keep from protein degradation or the burning of muscle as fuel. In this example a 150 lbs person would take in 54 grams of protein per day. Obviously not enough to build muscle tissue.
For individuals participating in high intensity training, protein needs to go up to 1.4-2.0 g/kg (or around 0.64-0.9 g/lb) of body mass. In our 150 lbs example, this person would need to take in 95-135 grams of protein per day. A much more ideal percentage of protein.
Hold up there is more…
Beyond the basics of preventing deficiency and ensuring a baseline of protein synthesis, we may need even more protein in our diets for optimal functioning, including good immune function, metabolism, satiety, weight management and performance. In other words, we need a small amount of protein to survive, but we need a lot more to thrive.
We can only store so much protein at one time.So in order to optimally supply your body with much needed protein, you must eat it periodically throughout the day. Eating a 16 oz. steak and calling it a day, is not going to give you the overall effects that eating 5-6 servings of high protein foods will.
Can you eat too much protein? Possibly, but it would be hard. Protein can be converted to sugar and stored. However, it is an inefficient process and not one the body wants to undergo. Studies have shown that a high amount of protein intake (up to 1.2 grams per lb) has no health risks to the kidneys.
So which protein is best?
Research has shown that foods high in the essential amino acid, leucine, increase protein synthesis (breakdown of protein to be stored) higher than the other two essential amino acids. Foods high in leucine are spirulina, egg white, fish, poultry, and meat.
Take home points…
1. Shoot for at least half your body weight in grams of protein per day. If wanting to gain muscle increase to your body weight in grams.
2. If weight loss is a struggle, evaluate where and how much protein you are getting. Odds are it is not enough for your body weight and fitness goals.
3. Try to eat protein in every meal.
4. Choose whole foods over supplementation. However, choose supplementation over nothing at all.
5. Can’t stress this enough, if you want to get leaner you must consume more protein!
I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. What’s not to love? Food, family, and football are three of my favorite things. The prodromal smells of homemade cooking pervade the house which means turkey and pecan pie are only days away. Smiling is easy this week while making sure everything is perfect for the welcome cacophony of our kids and grandkids returning home to our empty nest for a holiday visit. Thanksgiving spirit warms the soul.
The best part of Thanksgiving is taking time to reflect on the things we’re most thankful for. It’s a strange tumultuous time and yet it seems as if there is more to be thankful for than usual. Perhaps it’s during trying times, with so many people suffering around us, that we are grateful for things we otherwise would take for granted. I am thankful for many things and thought if I shared them openly perhaps others would share what they are thankful for too. Who knows, maybe the Thanksgiving spirit will catch on.
Here are eleven things I am particularly thankful for:
1) A wife who is my best friend and the love of my life. I met her 40 years ago on December 7th, a day that will live on in infamy! She is a saint for tolerating this innovation junkie.
2) Three great children who despite our parenting have made us proud by becoming incredible young adults. They learned their lessons in irreverence well and are all exceeding my one expectation, to be interesting. (I should say four great children, including our son-in-law who makes us a better family and fires well on the aforementioned irreverence and interest dimensions.)
3) Incredible twin granddaughters, now three years old, who light up everything and everyone around them and give me incredible hope for the future. Being a ‘Papa’ is the best.
4) The Business Innovation Factory (BIF) team who keeps me young and continues to stick by me while I keep reinventing myself. I learn by hanging around them every day and I intend to stick by them. Together we are catalyzing an inspiring movement to transform our important social systems. I can’t believe we just celebrated our tenth anniversary together.
5) A growing network of smart and passionate people that remind me every day that social isn’t something you bolt on to the way your life currently works but an entirely new way of living. Connections seem an impersonal way to describe it. More like friends and fellow innovation travelers.
6) Living in a time when so much innovation is possible. We are blessed with the tools to enable purposeful networks to work on the real social system challenges of education, health care, and government. Transformation seems within our reach.
7) The temperament to thrive on steep learning curves and the confidence to realize how much I have to learn. The goal is to get better faster.
8) The blessing of time to write and for a network of innovators who encourage me to write more.
9) Twitter, Facebook, Medium, Google, and Apple for enabling this free agent to punch above his fight weight. Self-organizing is no longer an oxymoron.
10) Being surrounded by people with an incredible sense of humor who make me laugh every day.
11) The opportunity to do what I love and to love what I do. Passion really is the secret sauce.
Happy Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?
A Citizen’s Morning Weather and Trafffic Report (with a few more observations)
It’s quiet and cold outside. The city seems sleepy but eager (eager for something like a day of rest with a lot of good food — and a side of family time).
I only saw one car accident and it was’t really an accident. Just a flat tire. And a police car stopped to help.
There was a mid-sized car with antlers placed on the backseat windows and two men inside laughing about something that was probably nothing in particular.
A couple, probably in their 70’s, were getting gas. Both were outside the car helping pump gas and clear ice off the windshield. They appeared to be preparing for a long drive and got back on the road without incident.
The manager of the gas station seemed in an especially helpful and pleasant mood. The ATM machine inside worked fine and the pastries are fresh and taste good.
Stores are closed but hearts seem mostly open. People who normally wouldn’t speak to one another are saying hello as they pass. Hitchikers who are genuinely down on their luck are more likely to hitch a ride today.
A man parked at a Starbucks parking lot texted his wife to see if she wanted a coffee and she texted back that she was already in line at another Starbucks and could get him a coffee and meet him at home. He texted her back thanking her and added a capital “L” at the end of his text for “love.” And so did she.
All in all, it is a pretty good morning for a Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is an under-achiever as holidays go.
Halloween has costumes and all the candy you can eat. Easter has a magic bunny who travels the world leaving gift baskets for children. Heck, even Groundhog Day has Punxsutawney Phil who predicts future weather for the country.
Thanksgiving doesn’t offer up a magic turkey with a name like Phil or provide gift baskets with bunny shaped candy. We don’t even get to dress up in funny costumes.
For Thanksgiving we just dress in our nice cloths, spend time with family and give thanks for all the abudance we have in our lives.
That just doesn’t seem like enough. But maybe somehow in a weird way it really is. If we have the right attitude. And a turkey.
Starbucks new holiday special “Turkey and Gravy Latte” is surprisingly good.
Thanksgiving Dating Tips
27 years ago this week Rebecca and I had been dating for just over 6 months and Thanksgiving was just around the corner.
We were having dinner at a nice restaurant in Lexington and Rebecca told me one of the things she liked about dating me was going to nicer restaurants. She said with other guys she had dated every meal she ordered came with french fries.
I took that as a compliment and talked about how the Dinner Card I had bought was a good deal and then Rebecca segued into a new topic.
“So, do you have any plans for Thanksgiving?”
I answered reflexively, ” Yeah. Probably just the usual — go to my grandmother’s in Central City on Thursday and my Dad’s in Lexington on Friday. How about you? Any big Thanksgiving plans?”
Rebecca looked down and mumbled, “Nothing big. That’s for sure.” She stabbed hard at her entree before adding, “Just the usual, too, I guess.”
“What’s wrong? Do you not like your dinner?” I asked.
“It’s fine.” Rebecca answered.
“You want some of mine?” I offered. ” You sure something isn’t wrong with your dinner?”
Rebecca paused and explained, “My friends are having Thanksgiving together with their boyfriends.”
“Oh!” I exclaimed. “Are we at a point in our relationship where we are supposed to go to Thanksgiving dinners together? I didn’t know. I have never had a serious girlfriend for this long.”
Rebecca said, “I don’t know. I guess it depends on how serious they are.”
“Well, come on then! Go with me. Or I can go with you. Or whatever or however it is supposed to be done. Was just totally over my head. I didn’t know about the Thanksgiving dating rules but now that I do I want to get it right for sure!”
Rebecca said OK and her dinner seemed to taste a lot better after that.
And I learned a valuable dating lesson and my future wife learned to give an absent-minded boyfriend the benefit of the doubt when you really are convinced your absent-minded boyfriend is a good guy but genuinely clueless.
I am a very lucky man. And I am inviting Rebecca again this year –for the 27th year in a row– to spend Thanksgiving with me. And our family.
Thanksgiving is about more than just food. Family, gratitude, fighting over ancient resentments…it all plays a role. When a bunch of people (whether related or not) gather together over a holiday, there will be quirks. And possibly arguments. But, mercifully, there will always be food. Lots of delicious, button-popping food. And while life may be as unpredictable as your Aunt Suzy’s newest hair color, you can always depend on your favorite stuffing.
While I’m a big supporter of experimenting with food and beverages, there are times when tradition reigns supreme. It can be fun to try eccentric twists like apple cider risotto or curried carrots, but ultimately, many of us crave the classic sides that filled our childhood plates this time of year.
That’s why I turned to Kahlil Arnold, the chef of Arnold’s Country Kitchen based in Nashville, Tennessee, for several of his signature creations. Arnold’s is a mainstay of Nashville, known for its meat and three, country-style cooking and warm atmosphere. Patrons range from politicians and lawyers to construction workers, who return again and again for dishes like squash casserole and banana pudding.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, Kahlil shared recipes for several of his most beloved side dishes: southern greens, mac and cheese, and sweet potato casserole. If you prepare these for your gathering, get ready to become the family legend, the keeper of the Thanksgiving flame. Or at the very least, up for consideration of graduating from the kids’ table.
Arnold’s Southern Greens
2 pieces of applewood smoked bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons margarine or rendered bacon fat
1 turnip bulb, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 (8 to 12-ounce) ham hock
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
4 tablespoons ham base
6-10 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pound collard greens, washed, stemmed and chopped
1 pound turnip greens, washed, stemmed and chopped
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, add the margarine, onion, bacon and ham hock. Sauté until onions seem translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients with six cups of water, except the greens, and whisk together. Add the greens and cook on medium heat, partially covered until tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes-1 hour. If necessary, add more water. The longer you cook the greens down, the more flavor the greens will have. Taste to see if more salt and pepper is needed. When the greens and turnips are tender, it’s time to eat.
Arnold’s Mac & Cheese
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons margarine
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups shredded American cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
2 cups of macaroni noodles
2 tablespoons of canola oil
Pinch of salt
8 cups water
In a medium pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 2 cups of noodles. Cook for 20 minutes, or until noodles swell and are soft. Drain in colander. Meanwhile in a double broiler, melt 2 tablespoons of margarine. When melted, stir in flour and cook for a few minutes until browned. Slowly add milk, whisking vigorously. Next add 2 cups of shredded cheese and stir until melted. Whisk in black pepper, mustard, and parmesan cheese. Taste, to see if a pinch of salt is needed. In a small casserole dish, add noodles and stir in cheese sauce. Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded cheese in top. Lightly sprinkle paprika on top. Put in preheated oven at 325 degrees. Cook for 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling around edges.
Arnold’s Sweet Potato Casserole
6 pounds sweet potatoes
2-3 cups sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
For the pecan topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup chopped or whole pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the filling: Roast the sweet potatoes on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet for approximately one hour, or until tender. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and cool until able to touch. Peel and mash the sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher. (This should yield approximately 8 cups.)
In a large bowl, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, cream, butter, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon the sweet potatoes into a lightly greased 2 quart – 4 quart casserole dish.
For the pecan topping: In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar and flour. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut the butter into the brown sugar mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the pecan topping over the sweet potato mixture. Bake the casserole until the topping is golden brown and bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Cook’s Note: The sweet potato casserole can be assembled the day before and kept in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
This week has been a hard week.
As most of you know I have been planning my own studio for a long time and this week a lot of my hard work has come to fruition. I am very close to opening my own business, through hell and high water.
But what I learned about myself this week is it is easy to lose enthusiasm when going through hard times but you must persevere. Soon, my dream of having my own business will come true and for that I am thankful and enthusiastic. So why not talk about enthusiasm and the components of during Turkey Week?
So I went back into the archives and brought back this piece that I wrote three years ago for a magazine in Pittsburgh. It fully explains how I feel enthusiasm is created and how greatness can be pulled from us.
Give this a read and please have a Happy Thanksgiving (eat and drink responsibly). “There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” I bet that got your attention.
So does enthusiasm really separate those that are mediocre and those that are great? Is it passion? Is it hard work? What is it? Well, let me rephrase the question; what separates those that get results and those that don’t?
I’ve pondered this since I started working out as skinny, 18 year old kid. Why did I get results and others didn’t? Why did some of my clients get results and others didn’t?
Here is the deal there are many attributes that separate the haves from the have not’s:
- Fun- those that get results do not look at working out like a chore. In their own way they make exercise fun. Whether they work with a trainer, take a group exercise class or just make their workouts enjoyable to them. If you enjoy something you will do it. Take it from me you can make exercise exciting and fun or dreadful and boring, you make that decision in between your ears.
- Attitude- those that get results have a great attitude. They don’t let minor setbacks deter them or keep them off track. They stay positive always and they encourage others to do the same. Remember, your mind if stronger than your body, if you feel a negative towards something odds are you won’t perform well. Conversely, if you take a positive approach the outcome will be much different.
- Hard work- Make no mistake about it getting results is hard work. It takes time and you must dig deep and be persistent. When you get to the gym you have to work hard. You never can skip workouts and you have to always make them count.
- Perseverance- there will always be obstacles. There will always be flat tires, babysitters can’t watch the kids and you have to stay late at work. The best look at obstacles like opportunities, conquering them towards becoming a better person. At all costs never, EVER give up. Keep moving!
There are more attributes that contribute to success in a gym setting but these four are what I commonly see in people that overcome the odds and shatter their own personal goals. Remember this, life is all about wins and losses; some days you win, some days you lose but as long as you learn from the mistakes and keep a level head on the wins you will be ok. Momentum is all you need to carry you to the finish line. Tell yourself 2015 will be the year of YOU. No more excuses, no more procrastination, no more obstacles. This is your life, you chose what you do with it. Choose wisely.
This weekend I have been away at Disney World, learning from the best in the fitness industry. Most of what was covered was very simple and based on habits. So it got me to think about the fitness journey and the impact our habits have on our success or failure.
What are the habits that successful people have? In my humble opinion, here they are:
- Eat Whole Foods What is the ultimate secret to fitness success? Eat like you want to be successful. Eating non-processed, non-packaged, non-shit (sorry for the language) is the secret. Cleaning up just one aspect of your diet will make a huge difference. Focus the next 30 days on something, whether it is to eat more vegetables, cut out alcohol or eat more protein. We will call this the Aspire30. A 30 day whole food challenge. Are you ready?
- Stay Consistent No matter what you do, consistency will always be key in success. No one needs to workout every day. Decide upon a frequency (preferably 3-4 days per week) and commit to it. Again, let’s institute the Aspire30. 30 days straight of at least 3 workouts. That’s 12 workouts per month. Commit and execute. Also, stay consistent with your nutrition. Pick a focus and go for it for 30 days. This turns into a habit.
- Get Plenty of Rest Work + Rest= Success. You only gain muscle and lose fat during rest. Sleep is vitally important to that body fat loss. 7-8 hours per night. Focus for 30 days and see what happens.
- Lift Weights This is a no brainier. People who want to be in the best shape of their lives lift weights. The road to success is not on the treadmill or elliptical. It’s in picking up heavy things multiple times for a long stretch of time.
- Stay Hydrated Being properly hydrated effects your results…period! Those who don’t get results are not hydrated enough. Drink at least 100 ounces of water each day to maximize your goals and feel better.
- Have Laser Focus Focus on each task at hand with laser precision. For every problem there is a solution, your solution is to focus on the weak areas without being distracted. Do not cancel on yourself!
- Never Give Up Sometimes it doesn’t come to us as easy as it did. Sometimes we need to evaluate our habits to see if that is the problem of why we don’t results. Regardless, you should never give up. Never stop fighting and sure as he’ll never stop believing in your dreams.
- Bonus: Have Non Negotiables Set times periods you devote to workout. If you schedule a session, don’t cancel it. Make every effort to commit to the time you set aside. To take yourself where you want to go or have never been, you must focus on the habits you form. Your thoughts become your reality, rid yourself of clutter and unnecessary static. Use the habits above to build a healthier you and look the best you can.
Dear Mr. President,
This is your future Ebola Czarina checking in. You’ve been pretty busy lately, so if you missed my blog about Ebola, you can read it here: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ebola? Seems like we have Ebola under control at the moment, so kudos to the current Czar, but if you would like to write in a succession clause, I’m your girl.
But I digress, Ebola is not why I am writing. Earlier this week, exactly 56.2% of the 46% of Kentuckians who even bothered to show up to vote sent Mitch McConnell to represent them in the United States Senate. (Note: let’s be fair, Lexingtonians and Louisvillians are excluded from this statistic, they actually voted to send Alison to the Senate in the same proportions)
I have to believe that a certain percentage sent him back, not because they liked him, but to bring home the “pork” to Kentucky, as Senate majority leader, because after all, it’s the American way. I’m not sure how I feel about those people as it is this logic that has completely bastardized the resource distribution of our democratic government but that’s a letter for a different day.
Those Kentuckians didn’t send him to represent me, as I promise you that the votes he will cast will never reflect anything that I stand for. And you know that saying, “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”. Yeah, well let’s just say that too many Kentuckians will fall for anything, and evidently that disease is pretty contagious among the voting electorate in the mid-terms of 2014.
On Wednesday, after those Kentuckians who cannot see that they are being lied to and their votes and souls are being bought by fear mongering billionaires, decided that Mitch McConnell, after 30 abysmal years of legislating, was yet again their man, you invited him over for some food, fun & fellowship at the White House. You said, I quote, “I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell.” Now Mr. President, I will take you at your word that you meant what you said, but I have to assume it would be the bourbon that you would enjoy with Mitch McConnell, rather than the discourse.
In this state, bourbon flows like water. We drink it in any manner you can imagine, we’ve built a trail around it, we make candy out of it, we have even been known to light it on fire when served as part of a decadent dessert or two. In a few hours, I myself will be tailgating with it at the UK vs. Georgia game, but I think you get my point.
But Mr. President, this Kentucky girl is here to tell you…there isn’t enough bourbon. You could push Bourbon through the veins of Mitch McConnell intravenously and he still wouldn’t see what you and I see.
- To see that people are people, and Corporations are NOT
- To see that inconvenient truths not addressed for decades, could become species ending nightmares at the end of the millennium
- To see that legislation passed in his name is often exactly what Jesus WOULDN’T DO! (not WWJD!)
- To see that choosing “Pork” in Washington, in the long run, harms the men and women bringing home the bacon
- To see that profit maximizers don’t self-regulate
- To see that ending the “War on Coal” fuels a war on clean drinking water and irreversible environmental damage
- To see that access to healthcare makes us all healthier
- To see that Student Loans are as important, if not more important, as Business Loans
- To see that Planned Parenthood serves low income women in ways they will never understand
- To see that birth control pills are used for dozens of women’s health concerns, only one of which is preventing birth
- To see that being Pro Life should mean feeding, clothing, and nurturing these children long after the birth is over
- To see the importance of funding Sesame Street instead of Wall Street
- To see that tomorrow’s criminal is today’s abused, neglected, and broken child
- To see that neediest children come to school to be loved as much as to learn
- To see that Head Start isn’t just an academic start, it is the ONLY start for many of these children
- To see that choosing butter over guns is not only the right thing to do but the smart economic thing to do
- To see that love is defined by the heart, not the type of genitalia
- To see that government can and should reduce suffering, instead of inflicting it
- To see that as Americans we are, and should be our brother and sister’s keeper
So now that the Bourbon Summit is over, keep fighting the good fight, please get back to doing what you have gotten really good at, rebuilding a country and economy you inherited 6 years ago that was decimated by 8 years of the policies of the same party that just dropped by for a bite of lunch.
And while these next two years are going to be a nightmare of preventing the passing of legislation that will undo the economic growing, deficit & governmental fraud reducing and consumer protecting accomplishments of your presidency, please know that history will be kind to you.
And Mr. President, if Mitch didn’t bring the Pappy Van Winkle, he brought the wrong stuff.
This morning had an awesome start. The 4 1/2 minute drive from my house to the coffee shop rocked — literally. I really nailed Eddie Vedder’s voice and the air guitar solo in a Pearl Jam song playing in my car.
But while in line for coffee and waiting to meet a business associate, I couldn’t stop looking at two very distinguished looking businessmen about to meet with each other. While I was stirring half-and-half into my coffee …at the condiment bar an even more impressive third member joined their party and they decided to take the “large table in the back.”
The guy I was waiting to meet wasn’t as impressive as these three and I was secretly hoping they would notice me at the condiment bar and invite me to join their table and their meeting. I even asked one to pass me a stir stick and gave a very confident and “important” look as if to say “We have a lot in common. More than the guy I am waiting to meet.” But nothing.
I sat down at a tiny table that hadn’t even been wiped off and tried to look like I was thinking about about a large financial deal. Finally, my guy shows up. But walks past me to say hello to the three guys at the back table.
What if they invite him to join their table and I am left all alone at my small and dirty table? That would really suck. As great a start as my day got off to it was now cratering.
I tried to think of a way to make my table, as I sat by myself, look cooler than the other tables — but feared it wasn’t working. And the worst part of all is I don’t think anyone in the coffee shop even knew about the Eddie Vedder song I lip-synced so flawlessly just a few minutes earlier.
November is here and so is the holiday season. Holidays are the worse when it comes to temptation to eat foods we ordinarily wouldn’t. But that does not mean we should throw our fitness goals out the window til January. Here are a few statistics and helpful hints to keep you working towards your fitness goals during the holidays.
1. Average person will gain 10-15 lbs between November 1st and January 1st
2. 75% of all candy consumed in the United States will be consumed on Halloween
3. There will be 180 million pints of alcohol consumed on New Year’s Eve
4. Average meal for Thanksgiving is 3500 calories
Halloween- The Sugar Holiday. Where Insulin and Glucose run rampant.
Thanksgiving- The Overeaters Anonymous Holiday. Trytophan the cause of Nap time?
Christmas- The Sugar, Fat and Santa Holiday.
New Years Eve- The Adult Beverage Holiday.
Client Survival Tips
Be active, everyday. Do NOT cancel your workouts. Now is not the time to cancel your workouts, it is the time to squeeze them in if you are busy. These are important, each one is a momentum builder. Lift weights, do a little cardio, walk your dog…something. Everyday.
Control stress. Stress makes everything worse.
Focus on weight maintenance vs. weight loss during the holidays. If you are currently overweight and want to lose weight, this is not the time to do it. Maintenance of your present weight is a big enough challenge during the holiday season. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic goals for yourself.
Plan on NOT dieting after the New Year. Anticipation of food restriction sets you up for binge-type eating over the holidays (“after all, if I’m never going let myself eat this again after Jan. 1st, I might as well eat as much as possible now!”) Besides, restrictive diets don’t work in the long run. They increase your loss of lean body mass vs. fat, slow down your metabolism, increase anxiety, depression, food preoccupation, and binge eating, and make weight re-gain more likely.
Eat a light snack before going to holiday parties. It is not a good idea to arrive at a party famished. Not only are you more likely to overeat, but you are also less likely to resist the temptation of eating the higher fat and higher calorie foods.
Choose your beverages wisely. Alcohol is high in calories. Liquors, sweet wines and sweet mixed drinks contain 150-450 calories per glass. By contrast, water and diet sodas are calorie-free. If you choose to drink, select light wines and beers, and use non-alcoholic mixers such as water and diet soda. Limit your intake to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per occasion. And, watch out for calories in soda, fruit punch, and egg nog as well.
Enjoy good friends and family. Although food can be a big part of the season, it doesn’t have to be the focus. Holidays are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to give thanks. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures, in addition to the tastes of holiday foods. The important thing to remember is balance and moderation. It’s OK to eat too much once in a while.
Maintain perspective: Overeating one day won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight! It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. If you over-indulge at a holiday meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt or despair.
Now that the ballots have been counted and the concession speeches have been delivered, it’s time to rest those campaign-weary feet and kick back for that age-old tradition: the post-election martini. Whether your candidates of choice emerged triumphant or disappointed, we can all breathe a sigh of relief at the end of another grueling election cycle. There were highs and lows, from inspiring policy ideas to soul-depleting ads. Nonetheless, it is always an affirming sight to see friends and neighbors lining up to put their thoughts into action on Election Day.
You should take this opportunity to have a bit of a breather. Before the next flurry of debates, ads, and fundraisers begins (probably much sooner than we’d all like), take a little time to sit, reflect, and enjoy a rejuvenating treat. For that, may I suggest the Moonshine Martini, a bracing refreshment. Whether you’re taking a victory lap or need a nip of comfort, this taste of Appalachia combines rural and urban elements as a reminder of the enduring power of both constituencies.
If your style of imbibing lies along the sweeter lines, I have something for you as well. In the spirit of fall, try this ginger cake. The fragrant spices will soothe the senses, and the ginger will settle your stomach from the nausea-inducing spin. So kick back and give a “cheers” to surviving another political season; you’ve earned it.
3 ounces (1/4 cup) clear corn whiskey
1 teaspoon dry Madeira, dry sherry, or dry vermouth
1 pinch of kosher salt
3 boiled peanuts or 1 pickled onion for garnish (optional)
- a) Combine the whiskey, Madeira, and salt in a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- b) Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the peanuts, if using.
(Source: The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee and Ted Lee)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a little extra for the pan
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1 cup unsulfured light molasses
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 packed cup of dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup finely grated fresh ginger
A stand or handheld electric mixer
an 8-inch springform pan about 3 inches deep
an 8-inch circle of parchment paper
- a) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and position a rack in the middle. Grease the springform pan very well with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment paper circle, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
- b) Sift the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl and stir well. In a small pot, stir together the boiling water, molasses, and baking soda until the molasses has completely dissolved.
- c) Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, you can use a handheld electric mixer.) Mix on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Occasionally, scrape down the butter and sugar that clings to the sides. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, add the egg, and mix until incorporated. Then add the grated ginger and mix some more.
- d) Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until well combined. Do the same with about one-third of the molasses mixture, and repeat the process until you’ve used up both mixtures. Stop the mixer from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- e) Pour the batter into the springform pan and place the baking sheet (pan and all) into the oven. Bake just until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out almost clean and no longer wet, about 1 hour. Before you remove the ring of the springform, let it cool a bit.
(Source: A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield)