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Saturday, September 28, 2013

More on walking

What a lovely day for a walk in northern Michigan!

In case you need more incentive to get out and take a stroll, check out this article listing eight ways walking can benefit your health. Some of these may be new to you.

I know that I'm particularly blessed to live in a spot friendly for walkers. My neighborhood has sidewalks, pleasant tree-lined streets, and trails by several bodies of water within a couple of blocks of my house: Grand Traverse Bay, Boardman Lake and the Boardman River. I can also walk to downtown shops, the best movie theater in the world, and numerous excellent local eateries. The only downside is winter, when the sidewalks are clogged with ice and snow and walking can be hazardous. Then, I put cleats on my boots and slow down a little.

Hopefully, your neighborhood is conducive to walking, but if not, check out local parks or trail systems. If all else fails, pacing around your house is better than sitting all day. Even with my walk-friendly neighborhood, I resort to this sometimes when the weather is bad, and I always pace when I'm on the phone.

For anyone contemplating relocation, you can use this nifty website to scout out your proposed new home's walkability.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Meetings with friends and food!

Now that I've deposited one child at college and established the other in another year of high school, my schedule is settled enough to begin the dinner/lunch meetings promised in the welcome post.

The dinner meeting already has been happening with a couple of test subjects for a few weeks. The time for that is set at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays at my house. I have room for two or three more, so let me know if you're interested in that.

For those who prefer a lunch gathering, I'm thinking Tuesdays at noon may be a good time, but if another day or time would be better, let me know. It would be a quick, express lunch chat and we could start on Sept. 24.

Food will be light, nutritious, and nearly always vegetarian.

Obviously, this is a hyper-local event. I'm a decent cook, but I'm not good enough to warrant a trip from Russia! Distant readers, I'll post menus, recipes and all of the good suggestions from the meetings.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Portion control

Of all the potential villains to blame for humanity's expanding waistlines, restaurants have so far been pretty low on the totem pole, with the exception of the universally reviled fast-food chains.

Restaurants can be fabulous and worthy of their high approval ratings. Eating out is fun and relaxing. The food may be expertly prepared, and someone else will be doing the work, including the clean-up. What's not to like?

Yet, with more and more meals being eaten in restaurants, we should probably consider what's on those plates. The short answer: way too much.

Restaurant owners say they serve gigantic portions because customers believe large portions offer more value. If a table of four people were to split one restaurant serving, that might be true. Certainly I've been served plates in restaurants that could've come pretty close to feeding my family of four. But usually, few diners are splitting plates with their table mates.

I've tried to get in the habit of bringing my own take-out container when dining at a restaurant, and when I remember to do this, I immediately put about half of my food in it as soon as it's served. When I'm not prepared, I have to rely on restraint, which can be challenging with tasty food before me.

What are your strategies for eating out?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Striiv to walk more

Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. Sometimes you can harness this pressure as the wind in your fitness sail.

I've been using the Striiv device and mobile app for several months, but recent updates to the system have increased its effectiveness, largely due to the motivation of not disappointing strangers in cyberspace.

The new "Relay" feature is simply ingenious. It's an optional mini-game that has two people walk a total of 200 steps, passing a "baton" between them after each 50. So, I start a relay race, walk 50 steps, and the app passes the baton to my partner, who walks 50 steps and passes it back to me. The partner can be a pre-existing friend or, lacking that, it can be a "wildcard" -- a random Striiv user.

What this boils down to is that sometimes I'm sitting on the sofa reading and I get a message on my phone that someone is passing me the baton. So in the middle of a paragraph, I get up and walk 50 steps because "Lou A", whoever that may be, is waiting on me.

If Dr. James Levine is correct, these little interruptions to my sedentary ways may turn out to be the magical cattle prod of weight loss. Dr. Levine, a professor of medicine at the famed Mayo Clinic and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot, suggests the crucial factor in weight management and other fitness markers is how often a person moves, rather than intensity of exercise. In other words, it may be that simply staying out of the chair for most of the day is more effective than an hour on the treadmill.

I'll experiment with this theory and report back later. Gotta go. Pam is waiting for me to grab the baton.