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Top 12 Easy Food Tips & Swaps for Weight Loss

Posted by Catherine Morgan on October 25, 2013

My Top 12 Easy Food Tips & Swaps for Weight Loss — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted catherine-morgan.com)

If you are the kind of person who loves to take the time to cook and try new healthy recipes — that is great (I honestly wish I were like that).  If that is you, then you are super lucky, because there are thousands and thousands of healthy eating cookbooks (and just as many of them are free on Amazon with Kindle Reading App).  But, if you’re like me, and you don’t have the time or the inclination to go out and buy specific foods and ingredients to whip up exciting healthy recipes — then you are in luck.

Here are some of the ways I eat healthy without following recipes.  For me it’s all about having my staple healthy foods always available so I can easily make quick and healthy meals.

My top 12 easy food tips and swaps.

1.  We all know how important eating fish is.  It is a high protein food that is also very low in fat and calories.  My problem was that, whenever I bought costly fresh seafood, it either didn’t seem very fresh or I didn’t eat it quickly enough…so I ended up wasting a lot of money that way.  Then one day, I found out that most (or all) of the so-called “fresh” seafood was merely thawed-out frozen seafood.  I also found out that I could get the exact same fish still frozen, and then I could keep it frozen until the time I wanted to eat it, so I would never waste any of it.  Now what I do is buy individually wrapped frozen fish (I like salmon, tilapia, cod, mahi, and shrimp), I thaw it when I am ready to use it, season it, wrap it in foil, and then cook it in the toaster oven.  It is quick and easy, and it always turns out tasting wonderful.

2.  I also like to buy 97-98% lean ground turkey.  If I have time, I make it into patties and cook them on the grill or frying pan, and then I put some in the freezer and some in the fridge to be heated up whenever I am hungry.  If I don’t have time to cook the ground meat all at once, I separate it into single servings and place into storage bags and freeze.  Then I can quickly make one burger by thawing out an already portioned amount of ground turkey.   Once I have my burger ready, I put it on one of those low calorie roll-thins, and top with spinach, salsa, and avocado.

3.  I try to keep several low calorie frozen dinners on hand for times when I feel I need something fast, but have little time to cook.  Of course, it is much healthier to avoid processed foods, but a low calorie frozen dinner is still better than fast food or other high fat/high calorie foods.  These meals are also great to take to work for lunch when you don’t have time to prepare something. TIP:  Whenever possible, add fresh or frozen vegetables to your frozen meal (this will make it much more filling, as well as add to the nutritional value without adding too many calories).  Keep an eye out for sales on these meals, rather than paying full price.

4.  Chicken breast is another easy and lean meat you can prepare ahead; keep some in the freezer and some in the refrigerator.  You can do so many things with chicken breast: add to salad, heat with vegetables, make a hot or cold sandwich on a low calorie bun, or just keep bite size pieces in the fridge to munch on when you need a healthy snack.  I often get my chicken breast frozen; this way I always have some in the freezer.  Like I said before, one of the best tricks to eating healthy is never running out of healthy food.

5.  Instant oatmeal is a quick and easy meal.  You can eat it alone or with fruit, and it is basically one of the best sources of fiber you can get.  It’s also something you can easily bring with you to work.  TIP:  Eating breakfast is the best way to get your metabolism started in the morning, and studies show that people who eat breakfast lose more weight than their breakfast-skipping counterparts.

6.  Pre-washed lettuce, spinach, and other greens can come in handy if you are too busy to clean and chop it yourself.   And if you are hungry, being able to make something fast can be critical.   You can also buy cleaned and chopped bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and more.  IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SPINACH: Most experts say that if you can’t get organic spinach, then don’t get it at all (chemicals and pesticides make most spinach unhealthier for you than healthy, so the benefits of eating it don’t outweigh the risks). I’ve been buying organic spinach from my grocery store, and it is a bit more costly, but worth it.

7.  I like to buy fresh and frozen vegetables that come in microwavable bags.  This way, they can be quickly added to any meal with very little effort.  You can also get frozen rice that cooks in just a few minutes in the microwave.  TIP:  Keep an eye out for sales; I like to stock up when they are buy one, get one free.

8.  What about bread, pasta, rice?  On many diets, you are encouraged to eat little or none of these foods, but as long as you are keeping track of your calories, these carbs can be eaten in moderation as part of your healthy diet.  However, you NEVER want to eat the “white” version of these foods.  Don’t eat white bread; find a whole wheat bread.  Don’t eat regular pasta; take some time to acquire a taste for whole wheat pasta.  

9.  Mrs. Dash seasonings have many flavors, and they are all salt-free.  Using these specially combined seasonings is the easiest way to add a wonderful flavor to your food.  My favorite is Hot & Spicy (I add it to just about every meat and fish I cook).  And, if you Google “Mrs. Dash.” you will find an unlimited number of recipes.

10.  If you haven’t already, try some of the Laughing Cow spreads.  They are very low in calories and fat, and can really enhance a plain sandwich that you might have previously used mayo or cheese on.  There are at least a half a dozen different flavors to choose from.

11.  We all know that salad dressing can quickly add to your calorie and fat intake.  Always buy light dressings…and if you can, water them down even more.  I try to keep an empty bottle or two, and then make my own dilution depending on the dressing.  You may be surprised at how quickly you begin to enjoy the watered-down versions of your favorite dressings.  TIP:  When you are out at a restaurant, you can discretely dilute your dressing by using lemon wedges.

12.  Avocado is a great way to add healthy fat and omega-3s to your salads and sandwiches.  The problem is that avocados are often expensive, are hard to peel, and go brown quickly. Instead of using avocados, I have been buying fresh guacamole I find in the produce section…the one I buy is 95% avocado.  It’s just another way you can get the benefits of a healthy food without the time-consuming preparation.

Update:  If you are a South Beach Diet Fan, you have to check out Kalyn’s Kitchen (she has the best healthy recipes around).

So, there you have it.  I hope you find these tips and swaps helpful.  Do you have any personal food swaps or tips for losing weight?  If so, please share them with us in comments.

**If you like these tips, you will love my new book (coming in November) Love the Diet, Lose the Fat.  For a pre-release offer to get the book for $1, go to the Love the Diet website and sign-up with just your email address.

Posted in cooking, fitness, food, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, lose weight, nutrition, weight loss, women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Best Health & Wellness Blogs

Posted by Catherine Morgan on October 25, 2013

Fantastic Health & Wellness Blogs Friday — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted to BlogHer)

Since I decided to start blogging much more, and one of the things I like best about blogging is featuring links to other bloggers — I am starting a weekly series called Fantastic Health & Wellness Blogs Friday.  Hope you will take some time and check out these wonderful blogs.

Here are some blogs I featured  way back in  2009, and they are still going strong…

A Merry Life

Hi! I’m Mary. Welcome to my blog.  I lost 40 pounds, fell in love with being active, and learned how to cook healthy food, all in the pursuit of being healthy and happy.

Cranky Fitness

Cranky Fitness is a health blog, sort of. It was started by Crabby McSlacker in 2007, and has also featured co-bloggers Merry, Gigi and Jo. Regular publishing ended in March of 2010, but the blog has been semi-resurrected!  New posts come out approximately weekly, but there are over 1,000 posts in the archives, so feel free to browse.  There’s a search bar on the right sidebar that may come in handy.

Blog topics at Cranky Fitness include general health, fitness, nutrition, personal development, disease prevention, aging, and whatever else the authors happened to feel like whining about on a given day.

 

Fit & Inspired Living

After losing all of my blog content from 2011, and a lack luster posting schedule in 2012 (I did manage to post more regularly on my other blog),  I’ve decided that 2013 is going to be a great year for Fit & Inspired Living.  I have already taken a few steps towards that end – updated my blog design, created a content schedule and most importantly, made up my mind to make it happen.

Raise Healthy Eaters

After having my first child in 2006, I found feeding to be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. Much of the struggle I felt — and still do sometimes — comes from the modern-day pressure we all face to get our children to eat a certain way.

As a registered dietitian and family nutrition expert, I’ve come to realize this view of “getting-children-to-eat-healthy” not only leads to feeding mistakes, it leaves parents in a constant state of guilt, blaming themselves when their child eats less than perfectly. And worst of all, children eat less well with this kind of approach.

Hungry Hungry Hippie

Hi! I’m Elise. I’m a nurse. An exercise lover.  A whole foods connoisseur.  A health enthusiast.  And I have IBS.  No need to cue the sappy violin music yet…

I’ve found that eating a low FODMAP, mostly plant-based diet has allowed me to continue to live and love life to the fullest.  Although moderation isn’t something I do well, I’m 100% devoted to giving my body pure, wholesome, quality food. Nutritious and delicious, all the time.  Hungry Hungry Hippie is a way for me to share my daily dealings with food, fitness, and everything in between.

Fit Mama Eats

I counsel and teach about 100 people every week, which is rewarding hard work. My greatest hope is to make a difference in people’s lives and motivate them to live strong and be healthy no matter what life’s challenges are. My work isn’t all roses as I often connect with discouraged and very ill people and sometimes there is only so much help one can offer. But if I’ve convinced someone to take one positive step forward that forever changes their path, I’m satisfied.

I don’t live to eat but I cook and eat to live vibrantly. FitMamaEats offers my two cents on Boston-area restaurants, new food products, easy healthful recipes, and general health trends. You may also see product and book reviews related to food and fitness or a write-up about a health-related business that I strongly believe in.

Girl Get Strong

My name is Melanie (aka Crazy Legs) and I have been friends with Sian (GoGo Girl) and Susan (Pink Panther) since our eldest children were all in kindergarten together. I hope I’m not dating myself too much here, but it has been a few years and 11 kids later (between the three of us) since we first met! That kindergarten year was the year we each decided it was time to reclaim a bit of “me” time to shred the weight and get in shape (and perhaps it was also an escape from the craziness of mommy life!).

Broccoli Cupcake

I began blogging in 2009 to share our family’s journey to overcome a host of health issues including anxiety, allergies, eczema and chronic upper respiratory infections. By changing our lifestyle, we’ve improved our health and overall quality of life, but the journey is far from over and we’d love for you to join us.
Since launching Broccoli Cupcake, I’ve worked with leading brands including Seventh Generation, Applegate, Nintendo and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. I’m a former healthy living expert for FOX 17 Tennessee Mornings and have been a freelance writer for outlets ranging from Yoga Journal to SavvySource.com.

These are just some of the blogs I featured back in 2009, I have many more that are still going strong, and I will feature more of them in upcoming Fantastic Health & Wellness Blogs Friday.

Now here are a few I just happened to come across this week…

The Happiness Project

In just 21 days, you really can take steps to make your life happier—without spending a lot of time, energy, or money.  I’ve created four premium 21 Day Happiness Projects for you to follow, if you want to tackle one of these common happiness challenges.

Sodium Girl

Faced with kidney failure and a handful of other medical complications, I decided that nothing would stop me from having a full life and a full belly.  I discovered that a well controlled, salt-free, low-sodium diet was key to staying healthy and active. But it took time and years of experimentation to achieve the delicate balance of eating well while maintaining a busy schedule and a budget.  With a few years of salt-free cooking, eating, and living under my belt, I started this blog to give others a jump start in their own journey.

Healthy Food For Living

I am a 30 year old living outside of Boston with my wonderful husband, beautiful baby daughter, playful dog, and cuddly cat.  I have degrees in both psychology and guidance counseling, and have worked in a variety of school settings.  I strive to find a balance between the two basic food philosophies of “eat to live” and “live to eat“.  I believe that food should be (and is!) one of the great pleasures of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Marc and Angel Hack Life  –Practical Tips for Productive Living

Marc and his Angel both share a great passion for inspiring others to live to their fullest potential, and they honestly feel best when they are inspiring others to be their best. They started their blog with the goal of inspiring as many people as possible, and they work passionately every day to fulfill this goal through the thoughts and ideas they share online.

oh she glows – vegan recipe blog

I’m Angela. Welcome to Oh She Glows – an award-winning vegan recipe blog featuring over 400 healthy recipes! For the past 5 years, I’ve shared wholesome, energizing recipes that I eat on a day to day basis as well as oodles of drool-worthy photographs. My goal is to inspire others to embrace more plant-based foods in their diet without feeling deprived. Get ready to glow!

So, there you have it, my first list of Fantastic Health & Wellness blogs.  Come back every Friday to see more health & wellness blogs that I think are pretty fantastic.  

If you have a health & wellness blog that you would like to have featured here — please leave your link in comments, and I will check it out. 

**Coming in November, my book Love the Diet, Lose the Fat.  For a pre-release offer to get the book for $1, go to the Love the Diet website and sign-up with just your email address.

Posted in blogging, BlogHer, family, health, Health & Wellness, healthy living, life, self help, women, women's health, women's issues, writing | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Top 10 Tips To Help You Look and Feel Healthier

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 3, 2013

These days we need to do everything we can to help ourselves look and feel healthier. We have more work, more worries, more responsibilities — and all of this can take a real toll on how we look and feel.  But there are simple things we can do to rejuvenate ourselves inside and out.  Here are my top ten tips for looking and feeling healthier.

READ FULL POST  — TOP 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU LOOK AND FEEL HEALTHIER.

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Healthy Low-Fat Chicken Recipes

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 3, 2013

Healthy Low-Fat Chicken Recipes — by Catherine Morgan

Here are some great low-fat, low-calorie chicken recipes from Love the Diet…Lose the Fat.

Chicken Salad Wrap

chicken salad wrap

Calories per serving:  180

Fat:  4g

Sugar:  4g

Protein:  27g

What you need…

4 ounces cooked chicken (cubed)

¼ cup baby spinach

2 tablespoons tomatoes (cubed)

2 tablespoons frozen peas

1 tablespoon light ranch salad dressing

What to do…

Combine chicken, spinach, tomatoes, peas and dressing.  Wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla.  Enjoy.

*Change it up and try kale instead of spinach.  Kale is an excellent source of antioxidants.

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli

Calories per serving:  285

Fat:  8g

Sugar:  6g

Protein:  40g

What you will need…

4 ounces chicken breast

1.5 cups steamed broccoli

½ cup low fat cheddar cheese

¼ cup water

What to do…

Just chop your already fully cooked chicken breast into cubes and place in small sauce-pan.  Add steamed broccoli, cheddar cheese and water.  Heat on medium-low until warm, and serve.

You can also add spinach and other vegetables you enjoy.

*I like to boil my chicken in sodium free chicken broth until it is fully cooked.  When you do this, you keep a few pieced in your refrigerator for use with both cold and hot chicken recipes.

Posted in blogging, cooking, dieting, food, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, nutrition, recipes, weight loss | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Fitness: Exercises You Can Do At Home to Lose Weight

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 3, 2013

 

Exercises You Can Do At Home and That Don’t Really Feel Like Exercising — by Catherine Morgan

DanceIt’s as easy as turning on the music and just doing it.  Jump around and have fun, if you have kids, they will love doing this with you.  Some of my favorite memories with my kids were us dancing around the living room to Alanis Morrissette (inappropriate lyrics and all).

Avoid the close parking spotsWe all do it, we drive up and down parking lots looking for the closest spot, and feel like we’ve hit the lottery when we get the best one.  But you can really burn a lot of extra calories by just parking a little further away.

Take the steps instead of the elevatorIf you work in a building or shop at a mall that has an elevator, try taking the steps instead.  Steps are not the enemy; they can actually be our calorie burning friends.

Exercise while watching televisionFor the most part, watching television is a sure fire way to become a couch-potato.  Aside from not watching television at all, the best way to avoid becoming a couch-potato is to do some exercises while you watch.  Here are six easy exercises that you can do while you are watching television:

Exercise while watching televisionFor the most part, watching television is a sure fire way to become a couch-potato.  Aside from not watching television at all, the best way to avoid becoming a couch-potato is to do some exercises while you watch.  Here are six easy exercises that you can do while you are watching television:

A) With your feet hip-width apart, take a large step forward with your left foot. Plant the foot, then slowly bend the left knee to a 90-degree angle with your back knee lightly touching the ground.
(B) Push up with your front leg to return to the starting position, and then repeat on the other side.
Do 10-20 reps on each side.

A) Lie on your back, knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck.
(B) Without pushing your head with your hands, contract your abdominal muscles to lift your right shoulder from the ground and bring it to your center.
Do 10-20 reps each side.

A) Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and press into your heels to raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
(B) Pause. Then slowly lower back to the starting position.
Do 10-25 reps.

A) Sit cross-legged and stretch your arms out in front of you, with your fingertips touching. Take a breath in.
(B) With your hips square and abs tight, let the breath out and slowly rotate your upper body about 45 degrees to the right. Return to the center and repeat on your left side. Complete 10-20 reps.

Hold your arms straight out to the sides with palms facing up. Circle forward 10 times, then backward 10 times. Flip your palms so they are facing the floor, and repeat the sequence.
Do this 10-20 times.

(A) Stand with your feet together and your arms straight overhead. Clasp your hands together, with your fingers interlaced and pointer fingers extended. Inhale as you reach upward.
(B) Breathe out as you bend your upper body to the right. Take five slow breaths. Slowly return to the center. Repeat on left side.
Do each side 10-20 times.

*Illustrations by Nicole Petro

Find more fitness information in Love the Diet…Lose the Fat

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Weight Loss Book: Love the Diet…Lose the Fat

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 2, 2013

My first book is completed and will likely be available by the end of September.   The book is all about healthy weight-loss.  Anyone who would like to be notified of the day the book will be available for just $1 can add their email to the Love the Diet…Lose the Fat website.  The day before the book goes on sale for $12.99, people on the list will be able to get the Kindle version for just $1.

I will post more about the book in the coming days.

Posted in blogging, dieting, empowerment, food, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, life, lose weight, nutrition, recipes, self help, weight loss, women's health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Healthy Recipe: Greek Yogurt Parfait (low-fat)

Posted by Catherine Morgan on September 2, 2013

Greek Yogurt Parfait

Healthy Recipe: Greek Yogurt Parfait (low-fat) — cross-posted from catherine-morgan.com

Easy to make, low-fat, low-calorie Greek yogurt parfait recipe.  This is a great recipe for losing weight and eating healthy.

Here is some nutritional information for this Greek Yogurt Parfait recipe…

Calories per serving:  215

Fat:  2g

Sugar:  31g

Protein:  13g

Here is what you will need…

1 cup Greek Yogurt

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

¼ cup sliced bananas

1 teaspoon ground flax-seed

What to do…

Simply layer the yogurt, blueberries and bananas.  Sprinkle ground flax-seed, and enjoy.

Try this with just about any combination of fruit you can come up with.

FYI:  Greek yogurt has about twice the protein as regular yogurt.

Posted in dieting, food, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, life, nutrition, recipes, self help, weight loss, women, women's health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Health Benefits of Yoga

Posted by Catherine Morgan on April 5, 2009

When you hear the word “yoga” what do you think of? You may think you know all there is to know about yoga, but there is a good chance that you don’t. Let’s take a look at some of what women are blogging on the topic of yoga.

Have you heard of Hot Yoga?

From Fat Fighter TV – Hot Yoga

Benefits of Bikram Yoga are said to include:

  • toning, strengthening, and lengthening your muscles
  • strengthening your spine
  • increasing flexibility
  • improving circulation
  • flushing toxins from your body
  • improving digestion
  • reducing stress
  • improving cardiovascular health
  • helping with weight management

READ FULL POST AT CATHERINE-MORGAN.COM

Posted in body image, Coaching, daily life, health, Health & Wellness, healthy living, life, lose weight, meditation, motivation, Positive Thinking, weight loss, women, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Link Wrap-Up of BlogHer Good Health-A-Thon

Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 24, 2009

The BlogHer 2009 Good Health-A-Thon is coming to an end, but your good health choices can still continue. I hope we’ve been able to help you get on the right track to better health in 2009, I would love to hear how you’ve been doing in comments.

I thought I would take this opportunity to do a little wrap-up of our Good Health-A-Thon…

We started off talking about setting goals. Did you set any? Have you stuck to any of them?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in blogging, BlogHer, chronic illness, Coaching, daily life, dieting, family, goals, health, Health & Wellness, healthy living, life, lose weight, motivation, nutrition, parenting, self help, weight loss, women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Tao of Healthy Living and Weight Loss

Posted by Catherine Morgan on January 14, 2009

A few weeks ago I was flipping through the million channels on my TV trying to find just one thing worth watching (which isn’t an easy task).  Luckily I found Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS.

I read my first book by Dr. Wayne Dyer (Real Magic) about twelve years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  So when I watched his seminar on PBS that was based on his latest book, of course I had to run out the next day and buy it.  This one is called Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life, and it’s his interpretation of the 81 verses of the Tao.

tao[The Tao Te Ching was written five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, and offers advice and guidance for living a balanced life.]

As I read, I came across aspects of this wisdom that are helpful in my quest for better health and weight loss.  So, even though I’m no philosopher (obviously), I thought I would share some verses that stood out for me.  They offer guidance for healthy living and even weight loss.  Here are three.

[Keep in mind that I am only pulling the parts of these verses that I find most relevant to good health, this is by no means a complete look at any of these verses.]

Verse 9Living HumilityTo keep on filling is not as good as stopping.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in awareness, body image, change, chronic illness, Coaching, daily life, dieting, empowerment, goals, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, inspirational, life, lose weight, meditation, metaphysical, motivation, nutrition, opinion, Peace, Positive Thinking, self help, spirituality, success, thoughts, weight loss, women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Goal Setting Success

Posted by Catherine Morgan on January 8, 2009

This is the time of year that many of us are setting goals in hopes of achieving success with our New Year Resolutions. And setting realistic goals can be what makes or breaks a good resolution.

Have you set your goals yet?

There are many theories about how to set realistic and achievable goals. But it’s not always as cut and dry as all that.  As with everything in life, something that works for one of us may not work for all of us.

Here are some ideas that may help you find success.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in body image, Coaching, dieting, empowerment, goals, Happiness, health, Health & Wellness, healthy living, inspirational, life, lose weight, motivation, opinion, self help, success, weight loss, women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on November 2, 2008

Are you drinking enough water?   Are you sure about that?  Believe it or not, most people are not drinking enough water.  Do you get headaches, suffer from fatigue, or sometimes feel a little weak or dizzy?  If so, you may just need to start drinking more water.  So, before you reach for the pain medicine for a headache, try drinking a tall glass of water, it may be all you need.

But remember, not all hydration is created equal. For example; one cup of coffee is not equal to one cup of water. That’s because coffee is a diuretic – so are many other beverages, such as tea and soda.

How do you know if you are drinking enough water? And how much water do you need to drink.

Use this Hydration Calculator from About.com to help figure out how much is right for you.

Obviously, staying hydrated is essential to any good exercise program…I found an interesting recipe for making your own sports drinks at WebMD. It’s as easy as mixing one can of frozen concentrated juice with nine cans of water (instead of three).

Click here to read full post on hydration at catherine-morgan.com

Posted in daily life, food, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, life, nutrition, self help, women, women's health | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Did You See Mama Mia The Movie? It’s the best ‘feel-good’ movie I have ever seen.

Posted by Catherine Morgan on October 27, 2008

Can a good movie reduce stress? I’ve always believed that smiling and laughing is healing in some way. And, there is a lot of evidence that supports that theory. I also know that for me, music can deeply affect my mood. Some songs are sad reminders of the past, and others are happy reminders of experiences I never want to forget. Seeing the movie Mamma Mia with my daughter, and listening to all the music, is definitely going to be a lasting and happy memory for me.

This is what happened. My daughter has been wanting to see the movie Journey To The Center Of The Earth in 3-D, and we’ve also both wanted to see Mamma Mia. So, on Thursday, we decided to see Journey To The Center Of The Earth. But, when we got to the theater we found out it was only in 3-D at “selected” theaters, and we weren’t at one of those. Mamma Mia was showing in the same theater about 15 minutes later, so we decided to see that instead.

To tell you the truth, I really didn’t think that either one of the movies was going to have much of an impact on me. I was feeling quite depressed, and was only taking my daughter to the movies because I thought that was what a good mother would do.

So, since I was feeling like a failure as a mother when it came to my son, I thought I shouldn’t let my anxiety affect my daughter. However, I didn’t think anything, much less a movie, would be able to take my mind off of my troubles.

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.

Posted in empowerment, family, health, inspirational, life, movie, music, self help, thoughts, video, women, women's health, YouTube | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Posted by Catherine Morgan on October 7, 2008

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  So, I thought I would start this post with something I wrote about ovarian cancer, over a year ago.  The Sad Reality of Ovarian Cancer.  Why It’s Important To Know The Early Symptoms

One of my saddest cases working as a nurse was on the oncology unit. I had a young woman as my patient (she was in her late twenties, only a few years older than I was at the time), and she had been diagnosed with end stage ovarian cancer. I had been working on the oncology unit for over a year, and many times patients came to my unit in the last few weeks or days of their lives, mostly so they could be given large doses of pain medication to keep them comfortable. Everyone knew these patients were coming in not to be cured, but to die. It was always hard and always sad, but this time the woman dying was so young.

Unlike many of my other patients, I would never get to know this woman. She would only live another few days, and during that time she would be mostly unconscious from all the medications. But even so, I will never forget her. What I remember most was the sadness that surrounded her, her family standing and sitting around the bed, just waiting for her suffering to finally be over. Among all of the darkness and grief, a little girl (maybe two or three years old) was happily playing and skipping in and out of her mother’s room, blissfully unaware. Every time I saw the little girl I thought how painful it must have been for her mother to know she would be dying and leaving her beautiful baby girl. How sad she must have been knowing she would miss all the important moments of her daughter’s life. And how sad it was going to be for that little girl, growing up without her mother, never getting to know her. How could something so unfair be happening to this family? It seemed unfathomable to me, but I was watching it happen with my own eyes, I couldn’t deny it. That was almost twenty years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday.

I didn’t know it then, but only a few years later I would come eerily close to being in a similar situation as that young woman. And it was the thought of not being there for my children that was the hardest thing to deal with. The thought of not being able to see my babies grow up (my son was 3, my daughter just 4 months), of not being able to be their mother, not being there for their birthdays, their graduations, and their weddings, not being there to protect them from the world…Those were the thoughts that haunted me, even more than any fear I might have had of dying.

I would need to have surgery quickly and have the tumor removed, only then would I find out if the cancer had spread. Even though I was referred to the best oncologist in the area, I knew the outcome wasn’t good if it had spread. I don’t think anyone (unless you have personally been through it) can understand the horror of being put under anesthesia, knowing that when you wake up you might be told you are dying.

The last thing I remember just before I was put under, was my doctor telling me that because I was so young he would try to save my uterus and one ovary. I told him I was blessed to have two beautiful children, and that the only thing that mattered to me was being able to be a mom to my children. I pleaded with him not to take any chances, if there was even a remote chance it had spread, to please take everything and not leave anything behind. At this point, I was crying, and I grabbed the doctor’s arm before he turned away to let the anesthesiologist finish putting me under…and I said; “Promise me, promise me you won’t leave anything behind.” I don’t remember what he said…I just remember waking up in the recovery room. I remember calling out to everyone who walked by, “good or bad, good or bad, good or bad?” I said it over and over, but none of the nurses would tell me anything. Moments later my doctor was again standing over me, and he told me that he was able to get it all, and that I was going to be okay. I asked him if he was sure, and he said he was sure. I would be one of the lucky 19% of patients diagnosed early enough to survive, but even more importantly, I would get to be a mother to my children.

There will be 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer in the United States this year, and 15,280 women will die. Maybe awareness of these few early warning signs will help raise the percent of women who can be diagnosed early, and be successfully treated.

I want to add something today, that I didn’t mention when I wrote this original post…

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Posted in health, Health & Wellness, healthy living, life, medical, women, women's health, women's issues | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Movie: Lost Horizon (1937) – The Story of Shangri La

Posted by Catherine Morgan on July 26, 2008

This is a movie I remember watching when I was very young. I always thought it was called Shangri La.

Here is the movie in its entirety.

Lost Horizon (1937)

Posted in dreams, faith, Happiness, inspirational, life, movie, Peace, spirituality, thoughts, video | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »

Lasik: Do The Benefits Outweigh The Risks?

Posted by Catherine Morgan on May 1, 2008

Is Lasik Surgery Worth The Risk? — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at Qvisory)
I recently did a post on the news frenzy surrounding Lasik Eye Surgery. It seemed like the alarms were sounding, and we were going to soon find out that this procedure was much more risky then once thought.The Los Angeles Times points out that the FDA is going to review reported side effects from Lasik eye surgery:

Almost 8 million Americans have had the procedure, and most ended up discarding their eyeglasses or contact lenses without long-term complications, according to doctors and health officials. But a small fraction complain of serious side effects that have left their eyes painfully dry and their vision marred by ghostly shadows or starbursts of color. Some say their sight is so poor they can’t watch a movie or drive at night.

But after researching the news and facts on Lasik surgery, I came to the conclusion that the benefits of this surgery (at least for me) far outweigh any risk. Every person who I’ve talked to that has had this procedure was happy with it. Even the people who suffered with side effects for months after their surgery, still had no regrets.

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Posted in daily life, health, Health & Wellness, healthy living, life, news | Tagged: , , | 27 Comments »

Get Motivated To Diet and Exercise With SkinnySongs

Posted by Catherine Morgan on April 5, 2008

Get Motivated With SkinnySongs — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

heidi3.jpgMotivation is the number one thing we all need if we are going to be successful at losing weight. But, it’s also the number one thing that tends to slip through our fingers and land us back in the cookie jar. Now, thanks to venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, staying motivated is as easy as popping a disk into our CD player. That’s because, when Heidi couldn’t find music to help her stay excited about dieting and getting back into her skinny jeans, she decided to write her own. She began to write motivational lyrics on losing weight and getting in shape…And that is when the idea for “SkinnySongs” was born.

Last week I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Heidi a couple of questions about SkinnySongs…

1. How did you come up with the idea for SkinnySongs? What was your inspiration?

I got on the scale one morning, after a big night out, and much to my horror I had hit an all time high — at 190 pounds I was 45 pounds more than I was when I got married, and I weighed more than my husband, who is a pretty big guy! I was facing my 50th birthday a few months off, and knew I did not want to enter the ‘back 50’ feeling or looking like that. Unfortunately, I knew I would be facing a challenge ( a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, to be exact) at the first meeting I was going to. I got in my car to head to the meeting, mentally steeling myself for resisting the cookies, and the CD player came on. It was then I thought, that there must be great music to pump you up about taking care of yourself and sticking to a plan, like “I will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor got me through a few breakups, or more recently, “18 Wheeler” by Pink got me through a few tough work situations. So I went looking for it… But I couldn’t find what I wanted. I found weight loss meditation, podcasts, audio books — but what I wanted was fun, upbeat, current music, that sounds just like what I listen to on the radio — but with lyrics that would speak to me and reinforce my goals. I didn’t find it, so got inspired to do it myself!

2. How long did it take you to get from idea to realization?

I thought of the idea in May and we had the CD mastered just two weeks before the end of the year. For the first few months, I was experimenting with writing lyrics (I ended up writing over 40 songs to get to the 10 on the CD) and of course doing the most important thing, pitching the idea to the peole whose involvement was critical — the producers George Daly and David Malloy. I knew that in order for the music to work, it had to be just as good as top quality hits, or people would chose to listen to other things instead. Both George and David are longtime music industry execs, leaders in their fields, with tons of music awards, gold and platinum records, and hits to their names as both producers and songwriters. They were the ones who took my lyrics and worked with me to turn the ideas into reality.

3. Were shirts part of your original plan?

Actually, I had made up the ‘do not feed’ shirt years before this, as well as one that says ‘kick my a**’ (not in the lineup!) that I wear when I work out with a trainer. So the shirts seemed a natural extension once I got going. Just like it surprised me there is no music for this topic, it surprised me that there is so little choice for shirts to wear when exercising that reinforce the message you’re trying to stick with. All the shirts in the SkinnySongs lineup are intended to be fun reminders of what you are doing and why, and in the case of “Do Not Feed”, it usually gets a laugh from your friends, but maybe also, they won’t try to force that second piece of pie in your direction.

4. You created Skinnysongs as a motivator for your weight-loss. Have you met your goals?

It has been a great motivator for me. I have lost over thirty pounds as well as increasing my muscle mass. It took me six months to reach my goal, but I went from a size 14 to a size 8 and am back in my skinny jeans. I really do listen to the music every day, it puts me in a great mood and gives me the positive reinforcement about sticking to the plan and not letting food control my life.

5. What advice do you have for other women who are looking to begin a weight-loss plan?

I wish all you had to do was listen to SkinnySongs and you’d reach your goals, but sadly that isn’t the case! It is, of course, all about diet and exercise. For me, it was also about making a series of small but important, permanent lifestyle changes — I didn’t gain 40+ pounds because I had a bad week, and I wouldn’t have taken it off either (nor kept it off) by just ‘going on a diet.’ I committed to getting control over my emotional eating by following a schedule of eating five small meals a day, three hours apart, and not touching food in between, just because it smelled good or I was having an emotional moment. I incorporated strength training and walking into my DAILY routine, I do at least one of these things every single day. I keep myself motivated through celebrating my successes with a nice clothing item here or there, that I couldn’t have worn a year ago. And I read about other success stories as well as listen to SkinnySongs to keep the motivation up, since this is not something you do and then be done with, rather it is a part of how you live your life going forward from here on. I’m happy to say I turned 50 a few weeks ago and I look better and feel better than I did at my 40th birthday!

Heidi also has a great website for SkinnySongs. Where you can listen to samples of each of the songs, learn about the artists involved in the making of SkinnySongs, and even get some really cool shirts to workout in. There is also a clip of Heidi’s appearance on the Martha Stewart show. It’s a great site, you should really check it out.

Anyway, the music on this CD is great, and just what the motivation doctor ordered. I imagine the only thing missing, would be subliminal messages telling us that cookies taste like cardboard and dieting is fun. But, if you’re not having any fun with your current weight-loss and workout plan, or you just need more motivation to stay on track, then you might want to give SkinnySongs a try…Because, Doesn’t music always make everything a little better?

Also see posts from…

Jacki at That’s Fit

Amy at Diabetes Mine

Heather at The Well Mom

Posted in body image, dieting, health, inspirational, life, lose weight, weight loss, women, women's health | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Eating Healthy in Three Easy Steps

Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 25, 2008

Top Three Tips For Eating Healthy — by Catherine Morgan

I am a firm believer that the number one thing any of us can do to promote good health…Is to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. Regardless of your weight (even if you are thin or at an ideal weight), it’s important that we all try to eat healthy. Unfortunately, that is sometimes the hardest thing for many of us to do.

It can be overwhelming for someone with “questionable” eating habits to make the changes necessary for good health. But, it’s also the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and chronic illness. So, what can we do? Well, I recommend you take it slow, and not put too much pressure on yourself.

Don’t decide today to make radical changes in your eating habits. If you do that you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, let’s look at what I believe are the top three changes you can make that won’t be hard for you to stick to. Once you have conquered these three things, you will become empowered to continue taking a step at a time toward healthier eating habits and a healthier life. So, let’s give it a try.

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Posted in cooking, dieting, empowerment, food, health, Health & Wellness, healthy foods, healthy living, life, lose weight, nutrition, thoughts, weight loss, women | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

BlogHer Health and Wellness Roundup

Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 15, 2008

BlogHer

BlogHer Health & Wellness Blog Roundup — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

Tonight I am surfing the BlogHer Health and Wellness Blogroll. So many great blogs, I wish I could tell you about every one…But you could always do a little surfing yourself.

So, in no particular order, here are eleven blogs that are new to me.

Delicious Wisdom

Delicious Wisdom was created by a person who wants to help you get processed food out of your diet. And,because it brings about such good things, keep it out of her own.

About Nicole…

Nicole deVries, HHC is a natural foods chef, non-practicing artist and certified Holistic Health Counselor. After eating this way–with the more than occasional cookie or Waffle House break–for over a decade, she’s figured out how to turn basically any unhealthy, processed food recipe into a whole food one. Follow along and you’ll be able to do it too.

Eat, Pray, Run

The title of this blog is inspired by the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat, Pray, Love is Gilbert’s story of how she found contentment during her journey across Italy, India and, Indonesia.

This blog is my first Elizabeth Gilbert-esque step toward discovering, and rediscovering, myself — someone who I seemed to have lost touch with a bit somewhere along the way. Join me in discussions about health and nutrition, inspiration, fitness and, of course, good food to eat!

Mirror Image – Healing The World From The Inside Out…

What’s wrong with the world is what’s wrong with me. That’s why “there are no accidents” and “everything happens for a reason.” Instead of judging external problems, it’s my job to see them as a reflection of the internal me, and act accordingly.

Family In Shape

Are you looking for new ways to get your family in shape? This blog is to inspire families, like yours, with ideas that will get you on the right path to a healthier lifestyle. I am a military spouse and busy mom of four and a Certified Group and Personal Fitness Trainer, but you can call me Spin Diva. Finding the time to exercise, energize and revitalize is not easy, but we can do it together. I am passionate about teaching others how to reach their fitness goals and bring the kids along with them.

Get on board and spin along with me. Turn your wheels my way again soon and see what new ideas are cycling through this site!

We Are One World Healing

To help individual heal their own immediate world first, this blog covers alternative health therapies, such as aromatherapy, chakra balancing, crystals, healing energy, reiki, wicca, etc; spiritual topics, inspirational healing stories and healing ‘how to’s.

Nicole’s Weight Watchers Journey

Join me as I get healthy, lose weight, overcome depression, nurture my family, open my mind and generally try to do my part to make the world a better place.

Weight 1 Day – Fabulous @ 50

Sharing my story of weight loss, and gain, and loss… as I work my way through a 200 lb weight loss on my way to becoming and fabulous at 50.

Taking Care of Ourselves – A Small Person;s Guide To Self Defense…

We can take care of ourselves. Self defense isn’t limited to those with the talent and fortitude for mastering the martial arts, nor is it the sole domain of certified “tough guys.” Anyone can learn the basic skills of self protection.

And while learning a few strikes or blocks can be useful, self defense rarely requires a fight. By paying attention and trusting their instincts, most people can protect themselves without punching someone out.

This blog challenges the myths that leave far too many people scared and helpless and provides information to those interested in practical self defense.

Non-Toxic Kids – Helping Your Kids Stay Safe, Healthy, and Smart…

Americans make the assumption that all products on our store shelves have been tested by someone, somewhere. Well, obviously in light of the recent recalls, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We here at Non-Toxic kids are researching products, data and information that will help you make your consumer choices healthier for your kids, families, and our environment. From sippy cups and baby bottles, to baby carriers and sleepers, we will give you a summary of an issue or concern, product reviews and recommendations, and where to go for further information. From my family to yours, in good health.

The Body Chronic

Life, love and laughter with insulin resistance, PCOS, pelvic floor dysfunction and everything else my body cooks up. Daily inspiration and new insights.

Autismville

I’m the happily-married, forty-something, retired CPA/mom of one drama-queen/second-grader and a preschooler with autism. I write a blog for Parents.com about parenting a child with autism. The view here in Autismville is guaranteed to refocus your perspective in ways you never imagined. Stop by and take a peek.

Thanks for taking this stroll down the Health and Wellness Blogroll. Have a great weekend. :-)

Posted in Blogroll, body image, Coaching, cooking, daily life, empowerment, goals, Happiness, Health & Wellness, metaphysical, nutrition, parenting, Positive Thinking, self help | 9 Comments »

Are You Stressing Over Money? It Could Be Making You Sick.

Posted by Catherine Morgan on March 13, 2008

debt_stress.jpg

Stressing Over Money Can Make You Sick — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

Do you stress over money? I do. With the way the economy is going, if you’re not stressing over money now, you sure could be in the near future. Gas prices are going up, home values are going down, and what money we do have is buying less and less. The thing about stressing over money is…It doesn’t pay the bills. What it can do is make you sick.

Yes, stressing over money (or anything for that matter) can and does make you sick. How sick? Here is an excerpt from an article at About.com, that addresses Health Problems Associated With Stress

Science is constantly learning about the impact that stress has on your overall health. Stress is or may be a contributing factor in everything from backaches and insomnia to cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome (many people believe that CFS and fibromyalgia are the same illness).

Stress is often a key factor when women experience either absence of menstruation or abnormal bleeding. Hormonal imbalances caused by stress may proliferate the symptoms of fibroid tumors and endometriosis, as well as make pregnancy difficult to achieve for couples with fertility problems.

Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. High blood pressure, heart attacks, heart palpitations, and stroke may be stress related cardiovascular conditions. Some women experience changes in their sexuality and encounter various sexual dysfunctions such as loss of desire and vaginal dryness as a result of stress.

Often people feel the effects of stress as fatigue, various aches and pains, headaches, or as emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. Stress affects others by causing gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers, lower abdominal cramps, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Frequently people under the effects of over stress will have more colds and infections due to lowered immune system responses. Stress can initiate dermatological conditions such as itchy skin and rashes.

Wow. That’s a lot of problems. So, what is a person to do? Well, learning to control the things we can control, and letting go of the rest, is a good first step…and potentially, the hardest step. Maybe we can find something that will help…

Here is a post from ChEsKa’S pRiDe — The 10 Essentials for Relieving Stress

Also check out WebMD’s Letting Go of Stess.

Everyone feels stressed these days. But do you really know what that means? Do you understand what daily stress does to your body, mind and spirit? Over the next four weeks, you’ll learn to identify exactly what causes you stress. Equally important, you’ll find out how to manage your stress and become more relaxed.

From About.comMoney, Stress, and Happiness

If you stress about money, you’re not alone: a significant amount of Americans are deeply in debt, living beyond their means, don’t have a clear plan to solve their financial problems, and stress about it quite a bit. The fear, stress and conflict associated with money issues can also impact your personal happiness. The following resources can help you to create a plan for yourself to get out of debt, if necessary, make your money go further, and plan for your future. Once you have a plan, you should feel significantly less stressed about money. When money is less of an issue, rather than being enslaved by it, you can use it to do the things that make you truly happy.

Also See:

Your 6 Biggest Money Problems, Solved.

Are you stressing over money? Is it making you sick? Is there something special you do that helps reduce your stress?

Posted in BlogHer, chronic illness, family, health, life, thoughts | 1 Comment »

 
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