Posts tagged ‘diet’

March Break Musings

Momma1MY MOMMA – I haven’t really written in detail about my Momma and her living situation on the Anishinaabe Blog.  Perhaps I’ll writing something more though-provoking in the future.  But illness is a private thing, and some conditions are more private than others.  You see, my Mom is in a fairly advanced state of dementia.  Although at 79, her small, frail body still isn’t failing her.  She hasn’t been sick in years.  No more strokes and no issues with diabetes whatsoever.  She can still walk, albeit she’ll insist that she needs her walker.  I’ve seen her do fine without it.

We had a nice lunch visit yesterday, although she doesn’t like the fish at Swiss Chalet.  She didn’t have much of an appetite either.  I’m guessing she gorged on a few of the candies that Phyllis brought her earlier that morning.

Here’s my observation.  Residents of nursing homes rarely get visitors.  When I look at the sign-out chart at the nursing station, it seems that our Momma is the only one who gets regular visits away from the home.  Sure, they are all well taken care of and have plenty of interaction with people in the home.  But nothing lights up my Momma’s face than having a visitor.  See, we’re not just visiting, we are a part of her life.

If you visit her, you’ll find that she is pleasant.  She only has her immediate memory, and memory of those who interact with her regularly.  But for the casual visitor, she will likely not remember you.  That being said, familiarity and interaction may trigger a memory or story.  Be prepared – you will hear the same story, over and over again.  Sometimes repeatedly.  She also has little rituals (i.e. she’ll ask you if the time on her wristwatch is right).  But other than that, you’ll have a great visit.  She’ll even walk you to the elevator.

March Break is a great time to visit with our Elders. If you want to go visit my mom, here are the details:

Dwyla Goulais
3rd floor, Room 306
Cassellhome, 400 Olive Street, North Bay.

MARCH BREAK NOSTALGIA – Do you remember March Break?  I sure do.  It meant time off school.  Some outdoor fun with friends and cousins.  It meant snowmobiling (the old 1976 Skidoo Citation) or four-wheeling across the ice one last time before the surface becomes too mushy.  It is also time for the Little NHL hockey tournament, where hundred of teams (tyke to midget) from across Ontario descend into the host community to play each other for native hockey superiority.  It’s a time to show your community spirit, re-connect with friends and foes from across the territory, and spend time with our larger Anishinaabeg family.  But I never did get to play in the Little NHL.  I only have one full year of organized hockey under my belt, albeit with a wicked single-axel.  They never did get to creating an March break competition for full-contact figure skating.

IT’S MY CLEANSE DAY – As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve taken up a regimen called Isagenix.  It’s a combination of meal replacement program with a cleanse program.  Today happens to be a “cleanse day”, which happens once-per-week.  So four times a day I drink 16 ounces of water, plus the “Cleanse For Life” product.  I get a small snack in between to regulate my blood sugar if necessary.  It is the hardest part of the Isagenix weight loss program.  But today I have motivation.  Following my last cleanse, (just after an eating binge-heavy trip to Arizona), I miraculously lost eight pounds.  I’m motivated to see more results.  I’m also working out everyday.

And how is your day?



Struggling, struggling to take off pounds


Do you know what the hardest thing in the world is to do?  Not climb Mount Everest or tame a wild Siberian Tiger, but to change mindless, life-long habits and a way of life.  To set aside a life spent in gluttonous bliss, consuming all matter of fats, creams, oils and sugar in satisfying quantities. To dismiss carbohydrate deliciousness, and eat limited portions of not-as-satisfying, lean protein and vegetable-based agony.

I’ve been on diets before.  About six of them… in the past three months.  You can probably guess how well I’ve been doing but my favorite diet is. venus factor diet.

The habits probably started at breakfast, long ago, with a well-oiled serving of either fried weiners or fried balogna and eggs, over-easy with buttered toast.  Pretty much every breakfast throughout grade school, with a few loaves of french toast to break up the monotony. I remember those breakfasts quite fondly and once in a while, I break down and have a nostalgic re-creation at home.

Success, I guess, comes down to habit, choice and desire.  Changing my habits.  Making conscious choices.  Having the desire and drive to live healthier. I started to study the effects of supplements. One purported benefit of MK677 is that it helps in the oxidation of fat thus preventing weight gain.

But it’s pretty friggin’ hard.

Last night I had a melt down. I called my support sponsor, my wife, who proceeded to listen to me rant, quite vigorously, on speakerphone, with Jasmine in the car.  I eloquently and soliloquely blubbered about my unsatisfying life, my ridiculous bird-like dinner in a downtown food court, with Burger “King”, the A&W bear and the Colonel staring me down in jest.  All this while I’m powerwalking, uphill, on rue Guy in downtown Montreal.

She spoke to me about friends like Waylon Scott, Candice Paul, Ljuba Irwin, her BFF Fiona and my brother Dennis Jr. who’ve all moved towards a more healthy way of life. They are all real life role-models. She encouraged me to keep at it.  To find that desire to make good choices. To try to stay away from those bad habits.

As I add sugar to my morning coffee, I remember that I need to tell the front desk to add that $3.50 Snickers bar to my hotel bill when I check out.

It’s a struggle, man. I long for my fried breakfast delight, lovingly made by my old-fashioned Momma. But I just finished my veggie egg-white omelet, dry whole-wheat toast with fruit.  I guess I’ll carry-on.

In the three weeks I’ve been back on Weight Watchers, I’ve only lost a few pounds.  But my blood sugar was 6.0 this morning.  At least my diabetes is doing well.

That’s a tangible benefit that I can celebrate over my tofu sundae and lettuce wrap that I know awaits me for lunchtime.

Movie popcorn has fat of 12 hamburgers

Megan Ogilvie
Health Reporter
Toronto Star

The Dish: January 28, 2011

  • DISH: Medium bag of popcorn with butter topping
  • RESTAURANT: Concessions at Cineplex Odeon Queensway Cinemas
  • LOCATION: 1025 The Queensway, Etobicoke
  • PRICE: $5.79 for the popcorn; $0.79 for the butter topping
  •  Serving size: 217 grams
  • Calories: 1,319
  • Fat: 97 grams
  • Sodium: 651 mg
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 96 grams
  • 26 Weight Watchers PointsPlus!!
  • 10 PointsPlus for the Butter Topping!!

Let’s cut straight to the facts: A medium-sized bag of popcorn with butter could get you up to 97 grams of fat, depending on how liberally the topping is applied. That’s more than what most men should consume in a day, and is between 130 and 200 per cent of the average woman’s daily allotment.

Cineplex Odeon disputes the 97-gram tally. Nutrition sites estimate a medium bag of popcorn without butter rings in at 60 grams of fat. Adding butter (especially without tracking the amount) sends the snack into the stratosphere. For some people, 97 grams is almost two days worth of fat — in a snack.

“I almost fell off my chair,” says registered dietitian Shannon Crocker, who provided comparisons to underscore just how much fat movie goers could consume while munching handfuls of popcorn.

“That amount of fat is the same as what’s found in 12 hamburgers from McDonalds. Or in 10 slices of sausage mushroom melt pizza from Pizza Pizza. Or in five large hot fudge sundaes from Dairy Queen.”

Cineplex Entertainment, which runs the Queensway Cinemas from which we purchased this bag of popcorn, is the largest movie theatre chain in the country with 132 theatres and 1,366 screens that entertain more than 70 million people a year. In 2010, Cineplex sold 7 million pounds (kernel weight) of popcorn.

Cineplex should get some nutrition kudos for switching its popping oil from coconut oil, traditionally used by movie theatres to pop kernels, to a proprietary popping oil called Vegetol. The company says this blend, launched in 2007 and which includes canola oil and artificial butter flavour, is lower in calories, fat, saturated fat and trans fat than coconut oil. Instead of going to the movies and eating their fatty popcorn, think about renting a movie and popping your own popcorn. Here are some popcorn popper reviews. It’ll not only help reduce the amount of fat you consume but also save you money.

“Regardless,” says Crocker, “97 grams is still way too much fat even if it’s a heart-healthier kind.”

The 1,319 calories — half a day’s worth for most people — is doubly offensive since one cup of plain air-popped popcorn only contains about 33 calories. People who make air-popped popcorn at home would have to eat 40 cups to equal the 1,319 calories found in this blue paper bag.

“I recommend popcorn, just not movie popcorn,” says Crocker, adding air-popped popcorn is a good-for-you snack because it is a whole grain that provides a hit of fibre. The high calories are due to the popping oil and the butter topping (Cineplex offers Lactantia clarified butter and Becel popcorn topping; we chose the real butter to test).

At 651 mg, the sodium is the least worrisome of the big three nutrition numbers. Though at about half of what the body needs in a day, 651 mg is not completely innocuous.  According to Cineplex, movie goers can get nutrition information for concession foods by asking the Guests Services team.

Few things will make movie popcorn healthy. But Crocker says there are some ways to make it a better option: Choose the smallest size. Skip the buttery topping to save between 200 and 300 calories. Steer clear of the salt shakers to avoid added sodium. Split the small size with a friend. And order water, not pop.

“A medium-size soda at the movies can run about 300 calories. You don’t want to do any more damage.”

  • DISH: Nachos with cheese sauce
  • RESTAURANT: Concessions at Cineplex Odeon Queensway Cinemas
  • LOCATION: 1025 The Queensway, Etobicoke
  • PRICE: $5.99

Compared to the bag of popcorn, the tray of nachos with two dipping pots of cheese sauce is a calorie lightweight. But with 485 calories, 25 grams of fat and 715 mg of sodium, it’s still not a healthy choice.

“It’s just not as high in calories and fat as the popcorn,” Crocker says.

The 500 calories is more than double what the average person should aim for in a snack. The 25 grams of fat is between one third and one half of what a woman should consume in a day. And the 715 mg of sodium is about half of the recommended daily allotment.

If you are a nacho lover, it’s probably best to split this tray, says Crocker. There’s not a lot of nutrition here, mostly just empty calories with fat and salt.

“It’s not the same as sprinkling cheddar cheese and chopped veggies on your nachos at home.”

Towards a Longer, Healthier Life

A couple of weeks ago I began Weight Watchers.  Deborah and I agreed to join together and support each other in our bid to live a longer, healthier life.  A noble goal, for sure but painful as all heck.

But I’m not writing this to gripe about hunger pangs but to share my good experiences so far.

As of this morning, I’ve lost eight pounds.  I’m far from being a slight man – but closer to my immediate goal of my last known football playing weight, circa 1994.

Weight Watchers is pretty simple plan.  Upon checking in at the tao of badass our weekly Weight Watchers meeting, we are given a weekly allotment of points to manage our daily food intake.  It’s important to track your food intake and stay within your daily points allowance.

“Points Plus” values are assigned to all foods based on their fat, protein, carbohydrate and fibre content.  The handy guidebook they provide has all the essentials.  The online “E-tools” has a fairly significant database of foods, restaurants and recipes and is a great way to keep track of your points consumption.  If you are unable to find the Points Plus value – you can always calculate it manually using e-tools.

Each and every food you buy at the grocery store has a mandatory nutritional facts label.  It’s good to know – even if you’re not on a diet – how much fat and other nutrients are in the foods you are eating.

I’ve had a couple of issues though.  For the last two nights, I’ve awoken to low-blood sugar.  As a diabetic, I’m used to regulating my blood sugar according to my old, less-than-healthy diet.  In a bid to accelerate my weight loss, I’ve been attempting to cope with eating less than my daily Weight Watchers point allowance.  Probably not the best idea.

Despite my recent blood sugar issues, it’s actually been a fairly easy ride for me.  Because of my weight, height, age and body mass index – I’ve been assigned the task of eating 62 points per day.  I feel bad for my Honey, who has to graze on a meagre 34 points.  But we are also given 49 weekly points as a supplement, or to use for treats and dining out, while I also tried to exercise a little more to help with this and even get some supplements online to improve my performance, go to the Quinnova site so you can find more about this.

I have had to give up the high-fat foods.  We have resorted to packing a lunch, mostly leftovers and low-point snacks, instead of dining out everyday.  It really requires a change of attitude but it’s still quite as fulfilling.

The best part of the diet so far are the new recipes.  Deborah has been cooking up a storm for the past two weeks, trying new things, fresh ingredients and new recipes.  I think she’s enjoying it as much as I am.  Deborah is an amazing cook, much like her mom, Wendy.  The incredible taste is second only to the Love that she puts into her cooking for the girls and I.

Last night, Deb prepared roasted chicken with fennel.  To be honest, I was sceptical of the onion-like look and texture of the cooked fennel.  (I appreciate the taste that an onion adds to cooking, but dislike actually eating them.)  However, I quickly got past the look and texture and rather enjoyed this new dish.  I’ve included the recipe below.

I can do without the potatoes on consecutive days though.

One of the best recipes Deb made was the 0-point vegetable soup.  When I first started Weight Watchers I lived on that stuff.  Not only was the soup delicious, it was hardy.  Full of cabbage, carrots, zucchini and all matter of assorted veggies.  It was what really filled me up, long after the single-cup portions of brown rice or whole-wheat pasta had disappeared.

Portion control is something that I’m learning.  Along with keeping track of the food and points you consume.  Thus far, these have been the keys to success.

This week I’m going to add regular exercise into my plan.  I’m going to start with some cardio, three times per week.  Just 20 or 30 minutes at a time.  Eventually, I’ll add some strength training – which I really enjoy anyway.

It’s been well over a year since I hit the gym.  It was so much easier when I was on the road and was able to use hotel fitness facilities.  These days, the challenge is going to be to fit exercise into our work and commuting schedule.  I think that’ll be the toughest challenge.

Roasted Chicken and Fennel

Chicken and fennel is a fresh, flavourful combination. Put some potatoes in the oven on another rack and you’ve got a delicious roasted meal.


  • 1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 Tbsp table salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
  • 1 large red onion(s), thinly sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb(s), (reserve greens for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup(s) white wine
  • 2 tsp olive oil


Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Rub 1/2 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes on both sides of chicken.

Place onion and fennel on bottom of a roasting pan; place chicken on top. Add wine and roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; stir vegetables and place back in oven. Reduce oven to 325ºF; roast vegetables, uncovered, until completely caramelized, about 35 to 40 minutes more.

Roughly shred chicken with two forks.

When vegetables are done, remove pan from oven and add chicken; toss well to coat. Drizzle with oil and season to taste with remaining salt; toss to coat. Garnish with fennel greens.

Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

For a more colourful meal, add 4 julienned carrots with the fennel and onions. Finish the dish with a sprinkling of minced parsley.