Countdown to 48

It occurred to me the other day–I have about 5 weeks until I turn 48. Not so old really, but I am using it a motivational goal–to consistently eat better and exercise to enter that year as my healthiest yet.

So starting tomorrow I will be posting daily thoughts and actions on the blog as a “Countdown to 48″….join me by sharing your thoughts on the blog—keep me motivated/ hold me accountable to do this awesome thing: give myself the Gift of Health!


I actually started yesterday so I will count it toward my goals……

This week:

Tuesday/ Thursday / Saturday–minimum 30 mintes fast pace walking plus minimum 100 ab repetitions ( combination of 4 @25 rep each)…this should work out to about 100 minutes of exercise this week.


I took a pre-work nap and then got up and hit the treadmill:

30 minutes of active time  with a warm up at 3.5 mph/1% incline and then worked at 3.8-4.0 mph/ 0-1% incline.

1.94 miles / 216 caloric burn per machine

Podrunner “Easy Does it” at 139 bpm


Abs–with Bender Ball:

crunches with ball under / at base of spine–1 set 25 reps

reverse curls -squeeze ball between knees with ankles crossed–1 set 25 reps

“rope climbs” (Does anyone know the real name?)–lay on back, legs up/feet flat and reach up to outer edge of feet with opposite arm while squeezing ball between feet–1 set 25 reps

obliques–ball under side of ab and do oblique crunches–1 set 25 reps


I have to confess–my outer glutes are sore today!!  I also walked a lot at work last night and use  Reebok Easytones as a RN to keep my feet comfortable–double workout!


So–motivation and accountability are welcome. Feel free to offer advice, suggestions and thoughts!! I’ll try to get some pictures done so you can see the progress and results!! ~Janice


Smart Choice Method: Guideline #4–Eat Food you like!

The  way to stay motivated about eating right is to eat the things you enjoy!

I mean it–really! who in their right minds would stay on a food plan (aka diet) that restricts you from the things you like and makes you eat strange food and sometimes weird food combinations that you don’t enjoy? I know I would not last long at all.  I think that may be the main reason that I don’t identify my eating plan with any one “diet”–I think they all have good points but are too restrictive for most people.  One thing to remember: this is MY understanding and perception of how nutrition works.  I’ve been looking at “nutrition” for a long time and have seen fads come and go, most of which make no sense in hindsight.

Our bodies are meant to be balanced with carbohydrates, proteins and fats along with fluids.  When we eliminate anyone one group or focus on any one ‘nutrient’ or ingredient it throws things out of balance. We needs carbohydrates for immediate energy, its the easiest source our bodies have. Yes, our bodies store the excess unused energy in our muscles and as fat but its a little harder to get easy access to. Protein is a great source of repair for our muscles but doesn’t really offer a quick way to get energized and sometimes slows down other bodily functions because it takes longer to break down and digest. Fat is great for neurological function, healthy hair and nails but also has its negative effects when the harmful fats are out of balance.  When we balance these out in the right proportions our bodies can do more than we ask of it!

#healthy snacks#smartchoiceshealthyliving.comBut I digress, the point is that if I told you that in order to lose weight you can only eat vegetables–and no forms of protein- for the next two weeks you just might be able to do it. Maybe. But are you learning how to properly supply nutrition to your body? I think if I were to say, ok–you can also have some protein( peanut/ nut butters, eggs, cheese, hummus) that you would be able to last a bit longer.  But are you happy with these limitations? Not for a long term way of eating, not for good! By being so drastic with something that should be giving us both nourishment and pleasure we’ve already created an major road block.

Guideline #4: Eating should be fun and enjoyable.

There are so many healthy and good tasting foods –and ways to make them so they are enhanced– that you should never have to be bored with eating! You can take the most mundane foods–say broccoli, carrots and cauliflower and add a little olive oil and spices and roast them in the oven–they are totally changed in character and taste than when they went in the oven!

#roasted vegetables

Vegetables roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and spices–delicious!

There is truly no reason to eat something you dislike! There are multiple options when you eat healthy. There are some foods that no matter what you do to them I still have no interest in them. That is ok though–find something else that gives you similar nutrition and you are back to being balanced. My daughter has become a vegetarian and has no interest in animal protein–I am fine with that so long as she eats food that will give her the things she needs to maintain her health; she eats nut butters, eggs, yogurt and occasionally tofu.  She does not like dairy milk so she has almond milk instead.

Eating Healthy

One of the nice things with her becoming a vegetarian is that I have also learned alot more about “alternate” nutrition sources and we’ve found many recipes that we can share or alter to fit our needs. Cooking does not require a fancy degree or education, just a willingness to try something new and be open to options. I can tell you not all of our recipes have been winners–some because of personal taste preferences and some just because they are not something we are willing to make again but by being open to things I’ve found a whole new world of food choices. Grains are a huge untapped source of nutrition most of us never even think of: quinoa, wheat berries, lentils, and barley just to name a few.

So the point: find things you do like to eat and make them a part of your plan. Don’t eat the things you don’t like but  find alternates to replace them. Easy as that.  Eat real food, not food products. Learn what food tastes like in its most natural state and you’ll understand better how to improve on it. Eat what you need to keep your body functioning, not eat to excess.

Have you been eating food you enjoy or just food to survive? Do you abide by ‘the rules of your diet’ or do you “cheat” because they are restrictive? Are you eating for Life and making Smart Choices?


Image Disclaimer: the food images are my own but the first and last image were obtained on Google Images, my thanks to their creators!

Smart Choices, Healthy Living….will return tomorrow

Pardon for the delay this week in posting. Hurricane Sandy put a slight dent in my plans. No we did not lose power or have dramatic damage done to our home. Mine is more of a personal nature–I had a minor surgical procedure planned for Monday which got cancelled by the hospital for safety reasons. I did have the procedure but on Thursday so I am just a bit behind in posting.

Guideline #4 and some reflections about being a woman tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!!~Janice

The Smart Choice Method of Healthy Living

I’ve always believed that it is not the person with the loudest voice that gets heard, but the one who quietly shows others by example.  The person who lives what they say actually speaks the loudest of all.

I’ve really been focusing on living healthy, not dieting, for the last 8 months or so. I’ve developed my own eating plan, not liking any one “diet plan” enough to ‘name’ my way of eating. Its a kinda  “modified clean eating- almost vegetarian-make ahead-portion aware-no rules” way to eat. I guess the biggest thing is that I don’t like absolute rules for eating  because rules lead to cheating and cheating leads to guilt.  Confusing maybe, but its been working for me.

I had someone ask me this morning “where to find my diet plan” since she decided she needs to lose weight.  She had overheard a conversation where another person had asked me how much weight I had lost and I had to reply I didn’t know, I had been focusing on eating healthier and lost the weight as a ‘side effect/benefit’. When questioned further I emphasized I had cut out processed foods and focused on fresh foods, pretty much the basis of my focus.

As we talked this morning it got me to thinking and I offered a few quick pieces of advice to get her started but it made me evaluate my own Guidelines for Healthy Eating…..and I started working on this blog–only to find I had way too much to say for one blog. So, this will actually develop into a series of posts about how I’ve gotten more healthy and lost weight along the way.

Lets call it  The Smart Choice Method of Healthy Living. Each of the next posts will focus on and explain one of these things that has guided my sustainable healthy life.


Smart Choices Review: Crockpot Oatmeal

I Love Oatmeal! Yes it is weird but I really do–hot, cold, cookies, breads or whatever, it just has the power to draw me in.

Imagine when I saw this recipe from The Yummy Life!!   It combines Oatmeal and Pumpkin and its pretty much a leave it alone recipe, perfect!

I did make some minor changes, just for preferences, and I used the double boiler method since I had originally planned to do this overnight so I wanted to see how long it should actually cook to avoid drying it out.

Crockpot Oatmeal and Pumpkin Bake

1 3/4 cup 1% milk ( or milk of your choice)

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup steel cut oats (NOT old fashioned or quick)

1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or sweetener of choice)

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix, unsweetened)

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used my homemade kind)

1 tsp pure Vanilla extract

2 Tbs pumpkin pie spice (it seems like a lot but it isn’t)

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 Tbs ground flax meal (seeds)

 My suggestion is to combine all dry ingredients together first then add the moist ones–I think the pumpkin pie spice would blend in easier this way–mine took a bit of whisking to get it off the top of the milk/water. If you are using the  Crockpot/slow cooker directly spray with non-stick spray just for easier clean up–my bowl  cleaned up really easy.* I put my recipe into a Corningware oval bowl and put it inside the Crockpot. I had put in water before I started mixing the ingredients to start heating it on high. When I put the bowl in I had to add just a bit more water to get it to come  halfway up the side of the Corningware one. Cover and walk away after you turn it back to low heat. Mine was done in about 4 hours , it might take less if you don’t use the chia seeds (they are really good absorbers). Cooked through but still moist.

You can top it with many options at this point–I added just a drizzle of maple syrup and some chopped walnuts but I could see adding brown sugar or honey as a sweetener or almonds for a bit of crunch.

Yes its THAT good!

And it warms up great the next day! I had put it in my Mason jars and it the fridge overnight. I warmed it for about 45 seconds , added just a touch of milk, stirred and heated for another 30 seconds (this was for about a 1 cup portion). I added a drizzle of maple syrup…..delicious second round.

Review: Definitely worth making again! If I did it overnight I would probably use a ‘delay timer’  so it turned on it the night rather than get up early. I also work night shifts so it would actually be perfect to set up when I get home and have ready to go when I get up. Hey–that’s a great idea!

*for easy clean-up–if you use the double boiler method, and you put the oatmeal away in portions, use the hot water in the crockpot to clean up–just dump it in the second bowl and it cleans up super easy!

Yardwork kicks butt!

Well it does! Just ask anyone who works outside, whether a job or ‘hobby’–yard work IS exercise!

Yesterday I just couldn’t figure out what video I wanted to do and then it dawned on me: why am I exercising inside when it was nice outside? (Plus then the dog gets exercise too) I need to clear an area in my yard big enough to transplant a whole flower bed or two and had decided earlier in the year to move it to the area by my bird feeder. At that point I moved all the flat stones I had used for a bed I had torn apart last fall to get a perimeter to work on.

OK–so this was the Spring–its grown alot since then–I mean really alot–some of the wild flowers and weeds are over 3 feet tall. So this has been my project to remove it all and add soil to raise the bed up higher. I don’t have a working rototiller so this has all been done with either hand tools (like a ‘Garden Claw”) or just pulling them by hand and carting it away in a wheelbarrow.

                                                                                   It is hard, sweaty work!

But I digress–so for 45 minutes in the heat and humidity I pulled weeds, tilled and carted. It is about halfway done, thankfully!  I have to say when I plugged it into MapMy Run I was pleasantly surprised–I had burned approximately 279 calories! I can verify I was sweating and my heart rate was up (I had on my monitor) in the 130s so I know I was working hard–but just knowing I had burned off that much will make me more apt to do it again.

Just for a quick comparison–these calorie burns are based on a 30 minute time frame for someone weighing about 150 lbs–kinda cool, huh?

So tell me again, still think “yard work” doesn’t burn enough calories? My loose shorts beg to differ.

Peanut Butter–the Smart Choice review

I love peanut butter!! It truly is one of my go to foods and comes with me to work and on vacations–really!

Why do I like peanut butter? Despite having some fat (about 72% in ratio to protein and carbs for a regular one) it is primarily healthy fat. It  has a decent amount of protein (about 4 grams/Tbs) as well as some important vitamins and minerals;Vitamin E, niacin & folic acid and magnesium. When pared with a whole grain bread it fills you up for a while which helps slow down the jump in glucose levels and keep you ‘steady’  until your next meal.

According to this Livestrong article “Peanut butter is rich in mono and poly-unsaturated fats, which are the “good,” cholesterol lowering fats. While these fats have heart-protective benefits, they also are what make peanut butter a high calorie food. So, as with most delicious foods, moderation is key. A general guideline is to try to limit yourself to 2 tbsp, which weighs in at about 180 calories.”

But the confusing thing is that there are so many “peanut butters” to choose from: regular, “Natural”, dehydrated (aka peanut flour), flavored, reduced fat….you get the idea. Well, I have tried a few and I am happy to share with you  what I have found.

OK– starting with the Basics

Skippy Natural

OK, maybe just a little bit basic. “Natural” in that there are no artificial ingredients, but more than just peanuts. It is pretty much your basic full fat, creamy peanut butter. “No need to stir”–generally but not always. Its a good basic, maybe just a little on the sweet side but very spreadable and does not rip your bread apart. Melts really easy on toasted breads.  This is great for use in baking since it blends and melts so nicely when combined with baking ingredients.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 2 Tbsp (32 g)
Servings Per Container 13
Amount Per Serving
Calories 190
Calories From Fat 140
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 150mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 4%
Vitamin E 10%
Niacin 20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Naturally More

OK–this is really a natural PB–you really do need to stir this one! I probably stirred this for about 5 minutes until it was fully combined.  You can really taste the peanut flavor! It was also like old fashioned peanut butter–it sticks to the roof of your mouth!  Although PB normally has good fats the addition of the flax seeds adds a bit more nutrition. I like flax seeds, just not whole ones. I think if they were ground I would’ve liked it better.  It did spread easy and melted nicely without the runny-ness of the Skippy  Natural.

Ingredients are a little more than just peanuts also: soy protein, flax seeds, evaporated cane sugar, salt and molasses.

Update: After I tried this I put it in the ‘fridge (optional) upside down…I really like it now!! Very creamy texture with the oil fully incorporated. I also figured out a way to deal with the whole flax seeds–use chia jam!

Next–Dehydrated, Reduced Fat and Powdered Peanut “Butter”

PB2 and PB2 Chocolate

This is probably the easiest to use for adding into recipes, smoothies, oatmeals. It is a dehydrated peanut butter, essentially a peanut flour. It has about 85% less fat than peanut butter so it is a great option for those looking to watch calories without loosing the option of having peanut butter. You can rehydrate it to use as a spread but I have just added it to things at this point. It does add the PB flavor to what it is added to without having the ‘gloppy-ness’ when you add it to a smoothie. It has become something I add to all my fridge oatmeals for added protein and taste.

Nutrition Facts

PB2: Powdered Peanut Butter


Roasted peanuts, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 13

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1.5 g 3%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat < 0.01 g
  • Cholesterol < 0.01 mg 0%
  • Sodium 94 mg 4%
  • Total carbohydrate 5 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 2 g 8%
  • Sugars 1 g
  • Protein 5 g
  • Vitamin A < 1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 0%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate PB2


Roasted peanuts, cocoa powder, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 10

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1 g 1.5%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium 70 mg 3%
  • Total carbohydrate 6 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 1 g 4%
  • Sugars 3 g
  • Protein 4 g
  • Vitamin A <1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Better’n Peanut Butter

I’ve had this one in both the dehydrated and the spread form. The spread form has a slightly gritty texture but you get used to it easily. It is not as ‘peanutty’ as I would like but it spreads well and melts nicely on toasted breads without being runny. It has less fat than the traditional so I can understand the difference in taste. Right now, I use this one almost every day. As you can see it it not really a true peanut butter based on the other ingredients.

  • 85% Less Fat
  • 40% Less Calories
  • No Cholesterol
  • No Preservatives
  • No Refined Sugars
  • Natural Soy Lecithin
  • Non GMO Peanuts
Regular Creamy
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving

Calories from Fat

% Daily Value*
Total Fat


Total Carbohydrates




Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Low Sodium

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving

Calories from Fat

% Daily Value*
Total Fat


Total Carbohydrates




Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Flavored Peanut Butters and Nut Butters
 Peanut Butter and Co
These are actually my daughters and I have tried them but they are generally too sweet for my taste. I have found as I have gotten older that I just don’t like (or tolerate) the high sweetness. That being said, the PB& Co has a variety of flavors: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Maple, White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Honey and Spicy to name a few. They are nice for a change of pace but I see them as a treat more than a staple in my life. You can find all the nutrition data here, but these are an example. The Speculoos Cookie Butter is just that–ground up cookies and blended to be spreadable.

and who can forget Nutella? Nutella is a Hazel nut based spead with cocoa. It is very rich and I really do view this as a treat rather than something to eat daily. It is very thick and does spread nicely. Very chocoaltey taste, you really can’t taste the hazel nuts at all. Still, for once in a while…its pretty good.

I tried to copy the ingredients but it was blocked but the first one is ….sugar.

SO–what to do with all these choices?  Which is the best for you, what tastes best, what to buy? Alas, it really is highly personal and depends on your needs and dietary restrictions.  I would say to try a few and see what you like. I will continue to use my PB2 on a regular basis and probably vary the rest based on what I am using it for–baking or eating or adding it to a smoothie/oatmeal.

All the nutrition facts came directly from the individual sites. The images are my own.

Can you recommend any of these or can you suggest another brand or version?

Keeping Track of it all: Accountability

Accountability is a huge thing in being motivated to continue something you may not really want to do. I’ve tried writing food and workout specifics down in notebooks, printed journals  and different online sites. I think that sometimes I get too technical for my own good in recoding things so that it becomes a burden rather than just a journal of achievement.

But ‘writing’ it down does work so I will be starting to keep track of things here. Please feel free to comment and critique as well as offer advice–I know a lot about food and nutrition, and I think about the basics of exercise but by no means am I an expert. Research constantly changes what we know about food and nutrition so it is an ongoing process of learning.  I am not a trainer, although it may be a path I choose down the road, but there is much to learn before that time.

How do you keep track of eating and activity?

Keep making Smart Choices–Janice

Yes, I CAN eat that…but is it worth “the price”?

Its really amazing what can happen when you think about things differently! Living a Healthy Lifestyle is not about restrictions but about balance. You can eat anything but it all has a price.

Granted there are some foods that are better for you than others. The thing I’m learning though is its all a matter of balance. Sometimes it IS worth the Price to have that piece of cake or candy instead of the ‘healthy’ stuff. Sometimes it is what allows you to stay on track the other 80% of the time. Deprivation is not required for healthy living.

So what is “the Price” I speak of? Something that recently occurred to me is that all our actions–eating choices, activity choices and our ‘mental game’ all give us credits or debits in our Healthy Living bank accounts. I’m sure you’ve heard that to lose 1 pound of weight you need to eliminate 3500 calories either by cutting back on food eaten or through increasing exercise/ activity. To maintain your weight you need to balance calories in with calories out. Simple enough. SO–that Price is determined by what you have in your account–do you have ‘extra’ credits to have that piece of cake? Can you balance your account if you have it? Exercise should not really be used to counter a bad balance but to help create a positive one. To build the credits needed to splurge on the high calorie (high cost) items you can be more active on a regular basis, thus adding to your account for special times, or choose to really eat well to account for the high spending. Either way, to maintain or lose you need to keep your account balanced. Healthy Living does not have “charge accounts” to offer.

Sometimes the best way to keep your Healthy Living bank account in the ‘black’ is to plan ahead. If you know you have a special event or social activity where you may be tempted to splurge you can eat “cheap” for several days ahead or bump up the activity you do normally to create a surplus in your accounts. One great way to do this–prep your food, especially fruits and vegetables, so it is ready to grab when you may otherwise choose something quicker and easier. Lately I have been cutting up and storing carrots, red and green peppers and celery to grab with single serving containers of humus. While my hubby munches on chips or other snacks I am able to get my veges just as quickly and suffer no “overdraft” fees for choosing to go the easy (but more expensive) route. And you know what? I don’t feel deprived because I like veges and humus. If its not your thing, find something that works. My daughter opts for Greek yogurt, nuts or fruit.

Choosing to live healthy is making the most of what you enjoy, not what you think you ‘should’ have–its about versatility and balance and just having fun being healthy.

Best wishes for Smart Choices, Healthy Living! ~Jancie

Disclaimer: Images are from Google Images–my thanks to their creators!