Tag Archives: exercise

Book Review: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano is a fabulously simple concept of enjoying quality over quantity in whatever you eat…or do. With over 265 pages of tips, tricks, recipes and hilariously helpful stories, Guiliano shares the secrets of her healthy heritage, while convincing you to drop whatever fad diet you might be most recently deceived by.

Guiliano is a high-power, working woman and best-selling international author, who grew up in France and is at the top of her game as the CEO of an American branch of a French company. She talks about being an exchange student in high school and coming to America, where she picked up much of the typical American high school food fare, along with the pounds to go with it. After returning to France, she worked with a Dr. Meyer (whom she refers to as “Dr. Miracle” throughout the book) to regain her ideal body weight and lead a healthfully satisfying life of enjoying food, fitness, friends and family.

She talks about basic concepts like eating smaller portions of higher quality ingredients, making sure you have a good variety (recommending at least 20-30 different types of food each day, so you get a full gamut of nutrients), not depriving yourself, eating slowly and mindfully, and shopping daily and at local markets as much as possible, so you get the freshest, in season, local ingredients.

She also recommends drinking plenty of water, keeping moving (even if it’s just walking, stairs, and a few light weights), getting proper sleep (not too much, not too little), and adding yogurt to your daily menu. And over and over again she says, “Faites simple,” meaning, “Keep it simple.”

Here are some of my favorite moments from the book:

  • “Consider all the things you consume regularly. Which of them is giving you real pleasure and which are you having to pointless excess? One thing French women know is that the pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites; we rarely have seconds” (p. 31).
  • “Part of living like a French woman, then, will mean searching out and paying a bit more for quality, whether at the open-air market or at least a good grocery shop with market suppliers. …French women live on budgets, too, but they also understand the value of quality over quantity” (p. 77).
  • “Visual variety, color, and presentation are underestimated factors in food pleasure” (p. 119).
  • “French women know any regimen you can’t maintain for long stretches of life is bound to fail you, just as they know that boredom, not food, is the enemy” (p. 206). “For me, walking remains the ultimate time for freedom of thought” (p. 210). “The body spends about 60 calories an hour sleeping; if you swim, you’ll do better at 430 calories; but climbing stairs consumes a stunning 1,100 calories per hour. Vive l’escalier!” (p. 211).
  • “The only purpose of withholding some pleasure is so we can more fully enjoy everything else for having it in proper balance” (p. 224). “Our troubles with weight have as much to do with our attitudes toward eating as they do with what we are ingesting. We are seeing a growing psychosis that I believe actually adds stress to our already stressful way of life. It is fast erasing the simple values of pleasure” (p. 225).
  • Speaking of laughter: “It’s both a physical and psychic pleasure: it is relaxing, stimulating, liberating, and sensual. It’s a pleasant response to emotion that heightens the emotion itself” (p. 228). “Marcel Pagnol believed that God gave laughter to human beings as consolation for being intelligent. I prefer to believe he made us intelligent so we could appreciate a good laugh” (p. 229).
  • “The answer is never ‘dieting’ in the American sense, but rather little alterations made steadily over time. So when we do lose the excess weight, not only does the effort seem painless, the results are much more likely to last. If my fellow Americans could adopt even a fraction of the French attitude about food and life (don’t worry, you don’t have to sign on to the politics, too), managing weight would cease to be a terror, an obsession, and reveal its true nature as part of the art of living” (p. 252).

I highly recommend this book if you are trying to lose weight for the first time…or if you have given up and need this to be the last time you lose weight…or if you just want a few good tips and recipes to spice up your weekly menu repertoire. Fortunately, I took French in high school and still remember un petit peu (since she likes to throw in some of her native phrases), but even if you don’t know French, she translates most of her phrases for you…and then, there’s always Google translate for the ones she doesn’t. A quick read, and a relief to the typical American trying to become healthier. So, pick up this book, adjust your attitude about food, and then adjust your lifestyle and start enjoying the good gifts of fabulous cuisine. Bon Appetit! 

2013 Journey Journal: Days 1 and 2

Day 1: January 1, 2013

Wow! Is it really already 2013?! Where did 2012 go? Today, we slept in. Brunch was a Multi-Grain Cranberry Pecan Pancake recipe from my aunt, with a tiny bit of pure maple syrup, a handful of fresh blackberries, and a tablespoon of whipped cream, with a cup of coffee and a small glass of orange juice. No lunch today, as brunch wasn’t until noon. Set off for our first 3.1 mile walk! Made it in less than an hour, despite the freezing rain, so that’s encouraging on the first day back. Dinner was homemade egg rolls, filled with lean pork, shredded brussels sprouts and carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, and ground ginger!  Read Genesis 40, as I continue studying the Biblical View of Food and Drink in Scripture. And in bed by 11PM!

Day 2: January 2, 2013

Yesterday went so well, that I’m motivated to not give up yet today! Ate 2 small multi-grain pancakes again (thankful we made a batch big enough to cover breakfasts for the rest of the week). Had a cup of iced coffee this morning. Went for a walk with my friend Shannah and her dog Mr. Sanders over lunch break today–another 3.1 miles! Had 2 leftover egg rolls for lunch with plenty of water. Dinner will be a slice of pork loin, a large leafy salad with some carrots, and a baked potato with just a bit of butter and sour cream. I plan on finishing Genesis in my study tonight…we’ll see how far we get before my hopeful bedtime of 10PM. Hoping to shift my bedtime up, so I can rise early to walk before work.

2013 Journey to Lean Begins: The Year of the “Vegivore”

For the McKinnons, 2012 was a year of change, as you can see in our annual Christmas letter (or maybe I should say “tri-annual,” as it’s been a few years since we actually mailed one out). With all that change, we were pretty busy…and with that busyness, we added on a few extra pounds around our waistlines, so I’m hoping that 2013 is a year to lean out again.

Goals for 2013: 

  • Keep count of calories, fitness, and water intake using LiveStrong.com’s My Plate app.
  • No pop, soda, soft drink…whatever you call it!
  • Drink between 64 and 128 oz. of water each day! (This does not included coffee or caffeinated tea intakes, for the record.)
  • Walk or run a 5K five times each week! (A 5K is only 3.1 miles, so it’s not as huge as it might sound.)
  • Do weight-bearing exercise and/or yoga three times each week in addition to the walking!
  • Limit sugars, and when I do have them, make sure they’re either raw cane sugar or local honey!
  • Continue to eat as much all-natural and organic foods as possible.
  • Eat three healthful meals, full of vegetables and fruits, and only snack when I’m actually hungry!

There’s a new term floating around the Food Blog strata: “Vegivore.” That’s right! You’ve heard of vegetarians and vegans, you’ve heard of the famous omnivore who enjoys it all. Well, the vegivore enjoys everything too, while focusing on plant-based foods. And this year, I’m jumping on the bandwagon with Michael Pollan and eating “mostly plants.”

It doesn’t mean I’m eliminating meats or dairy or grains, but I am going to make sure that the majority of my plate is covered with plant-based foods first. I started a “Plant-Based Foodie” board on Pinterest.com. Feel free to check it out. It’s got some really colorful, nutritious recipe ideas–from Vegetarian Taco Salad to Sweet Potato Burgers to Cheesy Quinoa Bites (okay, so the cheese isn’t plant-based, but it’s still yummy in small quantities!) We’ve also started experimenting with different curry dishes and egg roll recipes! The possibilities are endless!

Also, I’m going to hide the “Workout Log” and “Bible Reading Log” pages from the site for now, as I’ll be updating you on those things in regular blog posts. While these pages were helpful in their infancy, they quickly became just one more thing to update. So, in an effort to simplify, I’m eliminating them for now. I hope you won’t miss them too much.

I’m excited to start this journey anew, with a fresh perspective during this New Year! Won’t you join me?!

Getting Back on the Wagon

The last year or so was a little hectic, to say the least. And a few pounds have found their way back to my waistline. Things have slowed back down and become far less stressful, so it’s time to get back on the wagon!

Last night I went through my “Exercise & Health” board on Pinterest and wrote down about 50 different exercise routines on 3×5″ cards. Each day, I plan on picking a random card and doing whatever routine is on it. Sometimes it’s as simple as “walk 1 mile” or as complex as a full 90 minute routine. I even threw in a few “rest day”s!

So, this morning, I used the following video: Fit Sugar TV’s Sculpt Your Core in Just 10 Minutes with Core Fusion! on Hulu.com. Then I had a small glass of orange juice and some shrimp and grits. Lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich on cranberry walnut bread and another 20 minutes of walking and squats. I had a handful of nuts and a square of dark chocolate for a snack. Then a simple dinner of toast, chicken breast, swiss cheese, and carrots.

Tomorrow is a new day. One baby step at a time. Who says you have to wait until New Year’s Day to make a change?! Who’s with me?


Happy October! The Times They Are A-Changin’

I love fall, and this fall brings more than a changing season. It’s an autumn full of change. First, this week is my last week as Executive Assistant at the finance company I’ve been working at for the last seven and a half years. I only have two days left (kind of surreal, and I’m definitely going to miss a lot of folks). I am thankful for the experience and growth, both personally and professionally, and know that my  time there has prepared me for this next adventure. Starting next week, I’ll begin as Office Manager at Frontline Missions International. I love the organization and am very excited about this opportunity!

With the new job comes new responsibilities, new things to learn, new ways to grow. The hours are similar, but the location is closer to home–close enough to go home at lunch! I have high ambitions of taking time to read more and practice a little yoga on my lunch breaks, at least a couple of times a week.

I’m also committed to exercising more, beginning today (October 1st seemed like a good starting point). I started by heading to the gym with my good friend Ashley. We started with a little cardio, then moved to kettle bells, about 30 minutes of strength training, and finished with some core strengthening and stretching. Life has been so busy between weddings, wrapping up projects at work, and other activities and responsibilities. I’ve been lazy and lethargic. Today, I chose to sweat. And I want to continue.

Another thing I started back with today was tracking my calories using SparkPeople.com. I’ve put on a few pounds in my time of stressful busyness. It’s time to get those off. Anyone can feel free to ask me, “Have you tracked your food today?” More important than calories, I want to make sure that I’m eating whole foods–fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, organic meat, etc.

So, those are the things that are changing around here. What changes does fall bring for you?

23 and 1/2 Hours: What is the Single Best Thing We Can Do For Our Health?

This presentation is less than 10 minutes long and worth the watch by Dr. Mike Evans (@docmikeevans). Will you join me and take this challenge?!

Exercise Any Time and Any Where!

A recent Good Morning America Health clip gives some examples of how to exercise anywhere, using a park bench or your natural environment as your fitness center. Check it out here.

I was inspired, so while running my 3 miles downtown today, I stopped by an empty park bench and did some tricep dips and push-ups! Great way to break up the run!

New studies show that even 15 minutes of exercise can increase your life expectancy by up to three years! This doesn’t mean you should reduce your exercise if you’re already doing more than 15 minutes. In fact, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults work in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week (i.e. jogging or running) each week.”

Rodale (“where health meets green”) also posted an article on “7 Easy Ab Exercises You Can Do Just About Anywhere.”

Don’t forget to pre-hydrate, hydrate, and rehydrate! Water is essential to maintaining your core body temperature.

The “Back on the Wagon” Routine

Last night was the first night of the new year that both of my clients were able to train with me at the same time. It was a blast! Here’s what we did:

Warm-up with Yoga: 30 seconds per pose

  • Warrior One
  • Warrior Two
  • Triangle
  • Plank

Strength Training: 20 reps each, they used 5 lb. weights, while I used 10 lb. weights.

  • Alternating Dumbbell Bicep Curls
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
  • Lateral Flys
  • Front Punch Boxing with Weights
  • Chair Pose with Pulsing Weights (straight arms toward the back of the room)

Core: 20 reps each

  • Crunches
  • Right Side Crunch
  • Left Side Crunch
  • Crunches

Legs: 20 reps per side per exercise

  • Lying Abduction
  • Lying Adduction

Strength Training, Round 2: 20 reps, they used 5 lb. weights, while I used 10 lb. weights.

  • Lying Chest Press
  • Lying Dumbbell Flys

Legs, Round 2: with or without weights in hand, 20 reps per exercise

  • Wide Leg Squats
  • Forward Lunges

Cool Down:

  • 1.5 minute Plank
  • 30 seconds Downward Dog
  • 30 seconds Upward Dog
  • 30 seconds Child’s Pose
  • 3 Deep Breaths with Namaste


Short Routine

Here’s a good workout routine I did with my clients a few weeks ago. We did 1 minute of each exercise and did the set 3 times.

1. Knee Lifts: walk in place with your arms by your sides, bend your arms at the elbows, and keep your hands straight out in front of you. Make sure to hit your knees on your hands with each step. This gets your heart rate up.

2. Squat Run: get into a low squat position and run as fast as you can in place in that position. Every 10 seconds jump and rotate 180 degrees. Remember to keep your back straight; leaning forward slightly may help as well. I keep my hands out in front of me for balance. Feel free to hold a weight in front of you while doing this for an extra challenge.

3. Jumping Jacks: you know the drill.

4. Pushups: If you can’t do pushups for a minute, at least hold a plank position for the whole minute. For an extra challenge, do a pushup, then while in plank position, tap one hand to the opposite shoulder (holding the weight of your body up with one arm), return to plank, do another pushup, then while in plank position, tap the opposite hand to its opposite shoulder, and return to plank position. Repeat.

5. Bicep Curls: use whatever weight will feel difficult by the end of the minute. Feel free to pick up a heavier weight or find a lighter one in the middle if you need to.

6. Tricep Overhead Lift: Take one dumbbell in both hands and lift straight up above your head, bend elbows and lower dumbbell behind your head. 5 to 10 lbs. may be enough on this one.

7. Lunges: front or back, it doesn’t matter, just get moving and get low, alternating legs as you go. Remember not to let your front knee extend past the toe of the same leg, as this could cause knee injuries. Keeping weights in your hands while you do this will add stability.

8. Hook Uppercut: just like the boxers do…hook with your right hand, uppercut with left for 30 seconds, then switch. Feel free to keep weights in your hands for an extra challenge; just be careful not to hyperextend your elbows.

Repeat set 3 times. You may need a 1 minute break between 1, 2, and 3, but do them as close together as possible. Without breaks, this gives you a 24 minute routine. Stretch for 3 minutes before and after, and you’ve got a 30 minute workout. Enjoy!

5 Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

The following post is information from Stacy’s blog at Stacia222.wordpress.com.  Great information! Read below and check out her “150 of the Healthiest Foods Challenge” blog here. From Stacy:

image found on Stacy's blog

“Over five million people have Alzheimer’s disease and it affects over 10 million women as the primary caregivers, advocates and caregivers. Alzheimer’s is currently the 7th leading cause of death and mortality rates will continue to rise as the baby boomer generation ages.  Alzheimer’s is particularly challenging because it is a progressive disease, in which the symptoms gradually worsen over time and there is currently no cure. Research has come to light in recently that show treatments that can temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms and improve the quality of life for both those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

“Unfortunately there is not a clear-cut prevention strategy for Alzheimer’s, but recent studies do show certain foods, diet and lifestyle that can be therapeutic for treating Alzheimer’s and contribute to prevention. Here are the top five things you can do to help prevent and even treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s:

1.       Eat a Mediterranean diet

“Researchers found that people who regularly consumed a Mediterranean diet were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. A Mediterranean diet is rich in nuts, healthy fats (from salad dressings, avocados), tomatoes, fish, cruciferous vegetables, dark and leafy vegetables and fruits. A Mediterranean diet is also known for being low in red meat, organ meat, butter and high-fat dairy.

2.       Quit smoking

“A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that smoking is directly linked to dramatic increase in dementia in later years. The study found that those who reported smoking two packs of cigarettes a day had a 100% greater risk of dementia diagnosis than non-smokers.

3.  Eat celery and green pepper

“Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at the effects of luteolin on the brains of mice, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Luteolin, which is found in celery and green pepper, was found to reduce brain inflammation caused by Alzheimer’s and can ease symptoms of memory loss.

4.       Drink coffee

“The European Journal of Neurology found that those with an increased caffeine intake had a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who with little or no intake of caffeine. Another study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that caffeine significantly decreased abnormal levels of protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease and 50 percent reduction in levels of beta amyloid, a substance forming sticky clumps of plaques in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s. This means that not only have these studies found that caffeine can be a critical in preventing Alzheimer’s, but it can actually be a therapeutic treatment for those already diagnosed with the disease. This is a huge development! This is also a great excuse to continue your daily latte habit.

5.       Exercise

“Several studies have shown the benefits of exercise in persons with Alzheimer’s. The Journal of the American Medical Associatepublished a study that found that exercise training for patients with Alzheimer disease not only improved physical conditioning and extended their independent mobility, but it also helped improve depression. Independent mobility is important as we age, especially for those with Alzheimer’s, because one symptom of Alzheimer’s that is often not discussed is the lack of balance, falls and tripping. This leads to injury and the need for constant supervision in Alzheimer’s patients. By incorporating 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, and “active” days of rest, one can greatly improve their mobility as they age.

“While there is not a “cure” for Alzheimer’s today, that does not stop researcher’s from working hard to find new ways to prevent, treat and cure the disease. I am passionate about contributing to finding a solution to this rapidly growing diagnosis. I am walking in the Memory Walk in Charlotte, NC on Saturday, November 13 to help raise money to fight against this devastating disease. Visit Memory Walk 2010 to find a Memory Walk in your area. You can also find out more information about Alzheimer’s disease and prevention at Alzheimer’s Association.”