Monday, December 31, 2007

My New Years Resolutions

Ya know every year we sit down right before the new year and set grand plans for all the things we are going to change in our life but for most of us (including myself) do good to make it to February before we start back sliding. My biggest goal for 2007 was to lose weight & I ended up gaining 3 pounds. I know that doesn't sound like a lot but considering how hard I worked throughout the year to get it down ... well, it just sucks that I ended with a gain. I am back on weight watchers as of yesterday & I'm already taking off a few ounces which is making me feel better. I have exercise 3 days in a row which is great since I basically took the whole month of December off. I do think my body needed the break ... just not that much of a break.
So anyway ... this year I'm not making huge resolutions that I will end up bombing on ... I'm making them sweet & simple.
1. Shed 10% of my weight in 2008 ... that's only 20 pounds but I feel confident that I can do it. I'm ending 2007 at 199.6 ...
         A. get in 5 fruits & veggies a day
         B. get in 30 min. of cardio no less than 5 days a week.
         C. Do strength training 2 days a week
         D. Drink no less than 8 cups of water a day
         E. journal daily with progress reports
2. I've attempted for the last 3 years to learn a new language but I always give up on myself ... not this time!
        A. Download Rosetta Stone
        B. Decide on a language ... I'm thinking Spanish since many people in the area speak it.
        C. Schedule a block of time for just me ... it will be my language time.
3. I love the fact that I have the ability & smarts to homeschool my children but lately DH & I have been questioning this choice. DH asked the kids about the preamble to the Consitution & they didn't have a clue what he was talking about. He also asked them when was Independance day ... they got the day right, but not the year.  History (although I detest it) is something that is very important to know.
Plan of action: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
         A. School hours will run from 8am - 1pm now. That's an additional 2 hours
         B. The kids will now have assigned reading on top of free reading
         C. They will now have homework 4 days a week (who cares if they hate it)
         D. They will learn a new language right along with me.
         E. They will do weekly reports on assigned History themes.
I don't care if they hate me for all the additonal work they will be doing. I've lost sight of the fact that I'm not only their mother but their teacher & it is not only my job but my duty to see that they have the best education possible. Letting them talk me into easy days may be fun for all of us but in the end it will only hurt them.
What are your New Years Resolutions?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

5 Steps to a Workable New Year's Resolution

Article from Weight Watchers

If your wishes and plans for the new year are just a fuzzy memories by February, perhaps you need a more robust resolution process. Follow these five steps to make keeping your resolution easier and more rewarding.

For many people, a new year's resolution is a highly personal goal that, if fulfilled, becomes a "private victory." But whether you keep things quiet by accident or by design, you are giving yourself an out: You can fall off track, and no one will be the wiser.

On the other hand, you are more likely to follow through with your resolutions if you share them with the significant people in your life.

Which brings us to our five-step resolution-reaching plan:

1. Make your resolutions public.
Share them with one or more people so they can help you stay on track. If you let your friends and family in on your dream, you can use their support to help you make it a reality.

2. Write down your resolution.
But don't stop there: Also include the steps you will take to keep it. According to Laura Hess, a Nevada-based personal and business coach, having a clearly articulated goal and a plan of action is vital for success.

3. Keep things simple.
Break a big goal into a series of smaller goals. Want to lose 50 pounds? Shoot for losing 10 percent of your body weight first, or set five 10-pound incremental weight-loss goals.

4. Mark your achievements.
Each time you make a small lifestyle change aimed at reaching your goal—adding 5 minutes to your daily walk, for instance—put a star on your calendar so you can see your progress.

5. Make small changes.
If weight loss or a healthier lifestyle is your goal, put a bowl of fruit or vegetable pieces front and center in the fridge, and hide the cookie jar behind the oatmeal. Each week, try a new low-fat cereal or an exotic fruit or a vegetable you haven't tasted before. Stash away your car keys for a weekend and challenge yourself to walk wherever you need to go. Lose the deep-fat fryer, too, and steam, bake or microwave your food.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Taking the first Step

Any kind of exercise can be intimidating for someone who has been sedentary for a long time. Taking the first step can be as simple as literally taking a few steps. Here are some guidelines to getting started.

1. Just get moving. Exercise two or three times a day, but for only 10 or 15 minutes at a time. This gets your blood flowing and gets your mind wrapped around the idea of being active. Drink plenty of water.

Stop your activity if you:
•  Have pain, tightness or pressure in your chest.
•  Feel dizzy or sick
•  Break out in a cold sweat
•  Experience muscle cramps

2. To reduce stress on joints such as knees and ankles, you may want to avoid a lot of weight-bearing activities.

Some suggested activities:
•  Walking - start slow, this is a weight-bearing activity
•  Dancing - either standing or seated, if standing, this is a weight-bearing activity
•  Shallow- water (waist to chest-high) exercise
•  Deep - water exercise - works entire body
•  Weight-training - be sure to use correct posture and slow, controlled movements. Start in a seated position and work your way up to standing.
•  Bicycling - start with a recumbent bike to avoid joint stress

3. Wear form-fitting clothes, especially on your legs. This is probably not the kind of fashion advice you are used to, but tighter, synthetic clothing wicks away sweat and reduces chafing of the skin. After your workout, use an antibacterial soap and be sure to leave no body part damp.

4. STRETCH! Stretching before and after any physical activity helps prevent injuries during your workouts. However, obese newcomers should avoid stretches that strain the lower back.

5. Buy some new shoes. Running shoes offer the best support and it's good to buy them a size larger than normal since feet swell during exercise.

*Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health website. Click here for additional information.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

10 Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Are You Beginning to Look a Lot Like Santa? -- By John McGran, Food Writer

I don’t want to be the Grinch who stole Christmas dinner, but we have to ask. Just when did holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas morph from messages of love and giving to ones of food and gorging?

Whether it’s one, three or seven pounds, experience says that most of us will gain weight between now and New Year’s Day. So it bears repeating that moderation is the key to enjoying a fun and healthy holiday season.

This year, shake off the ghosts of food-crammed Christmases past! Fill up instead on family and friendship rather than food and feasting. Make a concerted effort to fill your heart with love—not cholesterol—and you’ll start the New Year with a brighter outlook instead of a desperate resolve to shed pounds!

So, in the tradition of giving, I'm offering you a very special gift: the 10 ways to avoid holiday weight gain. It’s one size fits all, so feast your eyes on this easy-to-follow advice before you feast on that second slice of Aunt Edna’s holiday pie.

  1. Keep your eye on the prize…a slimmer you! Mindful snacking is one way to weigh less without stress. Mindless snacking will prevent the weight loss you’re working so hard to accomplish.

   2. Imbibe with caution. Alcohol accomplishes two negatives: extra calories without nutrition, and a relaxing of inhibitions. You need all your willpower to resist the cheese dips and fried snacks, so staying sober is a good strategy. Check out these diet-friendly alcohol choices for more tips.

    3. Don't go wild. Hey, it’s a party! So it is. Enjoy a beer, glass of wine, or even a cocktail (made with club soda or diet soda, of course). Spend the rest of the party walking around with a full glass of club soda with lime. Keeping your hands occupied accomplishes two purposes: first, the hosts will not ask if you need a drink (you have one), and second, it’s harder to eat with one hand wrapped around a glass.

    4. Host your own party. Cocktail parties are so easy to make healthy. Too many hosts toss together a menu of fried foods, fatty cheeses, greasy chips and snacks, and unlimited nuts. There are plenty of great alternatives like grilled chicken and crudités with yogurt dip, baked chips and pretzels. Get more healthy party food ideas.

   5. Stay active. Nothing helps your reach (and maintain) a healthy weight like physical activity. If you’re like most, holidays keep you busier than ever, leaving you with less time for yourself. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, stay fit by walking daily. Get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and walk briskly. Repeat just before dinner.

   6. Make the reservations. Social obligations often mean dining out. But if you pick the restaurant, you’re guaranteed to be able to eat healthfully. Choose an establishment that offers a variety of foods so everyone is guaranteed to find something they enjoy. Use these dining out tips to keep it healthy.

   7. Choose to lose. Many people feel that if they don’t partake in the holiday feasting tradition, others will perceive them as rude or ungrateful. Hey, it’s your diet, your way. You have the right to eat what you want, where you want and in the amount you want.

   8. Just say NO…tactfully! You can say to your host, "Oh, I’m sorry. My plan doesn’t include (name the food) but, I surely thank you!" Or, "Oh, thank you so much, I’m sure it’s wonderful! I’m too full right now, but thanks for asking!" Firmly exercise your right of refusal, but be sure to graciously thank your host for offering.

   9. Prepare for a party and take the edge off your appetite. Eat a small, healthy snack before the party. A half-sandwich of turkey in a whole-wheat pita stuffed with sprouts and tomatoes will fuel you nicely. Then, at the party, you can pick and choose wisely without being driven by hunger.

  10. Get support. Sometimes you just need to talk to a friend or buddy, and get some support and motivation to resist the holiday temptations. Post on the message boards, call a friend, or bring along your diet buddy for emotional support!

Monday, December 17, 2007

MAgic Reindeer Food

Have little ones who would get a
Kick out of leaving reindeer food?
Here's a simple recipe!!

1/2 cup Dried Oatmeal
1/3 cup Glitter
1 Heartfull of Christmas Hope

In a bowl, Mix together the Oatmeal
And Glitter. Fold in Christmas Hope
Put into a seal top plastic bag or if you
Use a baggie, use ribbon to tie it shut.

Tell the kids:
On Christmas Eve, sprinkle Magic Reindeer
Food on your lawn before "Bedtime"
The Glitter will "Shine in the Moonlight"
And lead Dear Santa to your house before dawn.
The "Smell of Oats" will lead the
Reindeer to your Rooftop.
The "Christmas Hope" and "Magic Reindeer Food"
Guarantee Dear Santa will be there.

(If you have little ones that you think might
Want to sample this recipe for Magic Reindeer
Food simply substitute the Oatmeal with
Cherrios and substitute the Glitter
With Sugar for the Sparkle)

Calories Are Coming to Town

You Better Watch Out! -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered DietitianIs your holiday eating already in full swing? Have you sampled the foil-wrapped chocolate at the bank, dunked the office Christmas cookies in your morning coffee, or taken your famous dessert to the neighborhood gathering?

Among the most cherished of holiday traditions is sharing special foods—especially desserts and sweets. While many of these favorites are heavy on sugar and fat, you don’t have to feel guilty about splurging. You can still enjoy those special dessert recipes by following these tips.

Healthy Holiday Substitutions:
  • Use canned applesauce or plums in cake and pie recipes as a healthier alternative to butter, margarine, or oil.
  • When muffin and quick bread recipes call for fat (such as oil), try reducing it by one-third to one-half. You won’t even miss it.
  • In ice cream desserts, use ice milk or low-fat frozen yogurt.
  • Save the fat by using cocoa powder instead of chocolate. Substitute three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder for each ounce of unsweetened chocolate in baked goods such as cakes or cookies. For chocolate fillings, you may need to add one or two teaspoons of oil in addition to the cocoa.
  • Replace heavy cream in puddings, cheesecakes, and cream pies with evaporated skim milk.
  • Use nonfat yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Two egg whites can be substituted for each whole egg in many baked recipes.
  • Since much of the fat in cake comes from the frosting, try topping cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.
  • Use Splenda brand sweetener in place of all or part of the sugar in baked goodies. It works great in pie fillings and puddings too. Follow the baking tips on the box and visit for ideas.
  • Decrease the amount of nuts used in a recipe by half, substituting it with Grape-Nuts cereal to keep the crunch and texture.
  • Reduce the amount of chocolate chips or nuts in a recipe by one-fourth. No one will even notice!
  • Use fat-free whipped cream in place of regular whipped cream.
  • Substitute skim milk for regular milk.
Cut Even More Calories by Cutting Down On Size:
  • Cut pies into 10 slices (instead of the standard 6-8 slices).
  • Cut cakes and brownies into bite size pieces.
  • Bake bite-size cookies and muffins.
To savor the flavorof every bite, slow down and enjoy your dessert with a cup of herbal tea, flavored coffee, or low-fat, sugar-free cocoa. Enhance the flavor by using fat-free half and half, fat-free whipped cream, colored sugars, and sugar-free sweeteners. Yummy! Now that’s a taste of heaven!

Traditional Egg Nog

What would Christmas be without egg nog?
Give it a kick by adding 8 tbsp of rum if youd like.


6 eggs
1/4 cup sugar (or substitute)
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 quart low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In large saucepan, beat together eggs, sugar and salt (if desired); stir in 2 cups of the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and reaches at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Remove pan from heat.
2. Stir remaining 2 cups milk and vanilla extract into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; several hours or overnight. Just before serving, pour the egg nog into a bowl or pitcher.
Makes 12 (1/3 cup) servings.

Nutritional Info
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 92.7
  • Total Fat: 4.0 g
  • Cholesterol: 112.5 mg
  • Sodium: 117.1 mg
  • Total Carbs: 8.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
  • Protein: 5.7 g

Top 5 Reasons to Love A.M. Exercise

  1. Exercising early in the morning "jump starts" your metabolism, keeping it elevated for hours, sometimes for up to 24 hours! As a result, you'll be burning more calories all day long--just because you exercised in the morning.

  2. Exercising in the morning energizes you for the day--not to mention that gratifying feeling of virtue you have knowing you've done something disciplined and good for you. (Much better than a worm!)

  3. Studies have shown that exercise significantly increases mental acuity--a benefit that lasts four to ten hours after your workout ends. Exercising in the a.m. means you get to harness that brainpower, instead of wasting it while you're snoozing.

  4. Assuming you make exercise a true priority, it shouldn't be a major problem to get up 30 to 60 minutes earlier--especially since regular exercise generally means a higher quality of sleep, which in turn means you'll probably require less sleep. (If getting up 30 to 60 minutes earlier each day seems too daunting, you can ease into it with 10 to 20 minutes at first.)

  5. When you exercise at about the same time every morning--especially if you wake up regularly at about the same time--you're regulating your body's endocrine system and circadian rhythms. Your body learns that you do the same thing just about every day, and it begins to prepare for waking and exercise several hours before you actually open your eyes.
Exercise Extra: More than 90% of those who exercise consistently have a morning fitness routine. If you want to exercise on a regular basis, the odds are in your favor if you squeeze your workout into the a.m.

Friday, December 14, 2007


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Ok ... I have to say that I'm so very shocked at this number. I ahven't eaten the best this week. Mostly skipped meals for one reason or another. Either my tummy was feeling queezy or I was playing on the computer & just didn't eat. I know!!! I gotta eat!!! For the first time in a long time I have taken a little over a week off from my cardio. I know I'm gonna be paying for it when I get back into it but for now it feels nice to not have to worry about fitting it in.

So ... because of my past battles with weight loss & if I didn't exercise I would gain ... the shock is ... I lost a whole pound with no cardio at all. Whoo hoo. I haven't lost this much in a week in a while. I like losing!!!

Ok, I'm off to clean ... lost of family will be here a week from today. Cheers. Have a blessed holiday season.

Sensational Substitutions for ...

Cooking and Baking Make Your Favorite Foods Diet-Friendly -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered DietitianNew Year’s Resolutions…always made and often broken.

Is your motivation waning? Are you already feeling deprived because your favorite recipes are off limits? Making meals count is important. Meals should be satisfying, good tasting, pleasing to the eye, nutritious, and have a texture that is pleasing to your palate. Otherwise, you WILL feel deprived. The good news? It is easy to modify some of your favorite recipes by using the sensational substitutions listed below. You don’t have to eat a sparse and boring "diet meal" any longer.

Cooking Substitutions

Instead of…

1 Cup Cream

1 Cup Evaporated Milk

Cream to thicken Soups

Pureed Potatoes or Vegetables

Oil-based Marinades

Citrus Juice or Flavored Vinegar

Stick Margarine

Small amounts of Olive oil, Canola oil, or Broth

2 ounces of Mild Cheddar Cheese

1 ounce Reduced-fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese

White Rice

Brown rice, Bulgur, Kasha, Quinoa, Whole Wheat Couscous

Meat or Poultry for Stir Fry

Tofu (Extra Firm, Cubed) or more Vegetables

Ground Meat

Ground Turkey Breast; Finely Chopped Vegetables with Less Meat; Crumbled Tofu, Tempeh, or Soy Crumbles; Beans

Baking Substitutions
Instead of…

1/2 Cup Oil, Butter or Margarine

1/4 Cup Applesauce + 1/4 Cup Canola Oil, Butter, or Margarine

1 Egg

2 Egg Whites

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Nonfat Sweetened Condensed Milk

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated Skim Milk

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips, Chopped Dried Fruit, or Chopped Nuts


Sliced Fresh Fruit with a dusting of Powdered Sugar

Sour Cream

Nonfat Sour Cream, Low fat Sour Cream, Pureed Low Fat Cottage Cheese

Whole Milk

Skim Milk

Cream Cheese

Low Fat Cream Cheese


Artificial sweetener for some or all (follow manufacturer’s directions); 1/4 to 1/2 Less Sugar in the recipe

Friday, December 7, 2007

Weigh In Day

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It feels like I'm just spinning my wheels, getting no where on this weight loss journey. I should have a boat load of motivation to get it off with Christmas parties coming up & the mother coming. No matter how I try to spin it I just can't seem to motivate myself to look better for her. I guess it's because I know that no matter what I look like on the outside I'm so much prettier than her on the inside. I preach to my children that inner beauty far out weighs the outside ... maybe I'm listening to my own advice without knowing.

I did manage to lose 2 oz from last week ... still up from Thanksgiving though. I've lost my drive to do cardio or something. I don't know what the deal is. I walked a mile yesterday & then 4 miles this morning. I just want to get back to my perky self ... just don't know how.

TC Challenge

Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Start from a seated position on the Swiss ball. Slowly walk out until your head and shoulders are supported by the ball. Your feet should be slightly further than hip width apart. Hold dumbbells and extend arms above your head, palms facing inward and elbows in.

Lower dumbbells to 90 degrees at the elbow, so that the dumbbells are at both sides of your head. Return to the starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.

Special Instructions
It’s important to keep your elbows in as you lower the dumbbells for optimal isolation of your triceps.

Muscles Worked: Triceps

Thursday, December 6, 2007

TC Challenge

Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Begin by lying on your back with a resistance band wrapped around your feet. The band should be snug around your feet, but not too tight. Lift your legs off the ground so they are perpendicular to the floor.

Keep your legs straight (but not locked) and spread your legs apart pushing against the resistance band. Go out (wide) about as far as you can without putting too much strain on your lower back. Slowly release to bring your feet back together. Try doing 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Special Instructions
Make sure to push out just as much with your non-dominant leg as your dominant leg – keep it balanced. You can spread your arms out to your side, palms down or near your buttocks to help with balance and lower back strain.

Muscles Worked: Outer thigh, Hips

Fighting Holiday Fatigue

Small Changes make Big Impacts -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered DietitianFrom Goblins, to Gobblers, to Gifts and Goodies…this time of the year can be draining! Some days you can be so low on energy that you are drowsy by lunchtime and in need of a nap by midafternoon. Think about all the extras you have been adding to your already hectic lifestyle—office parties, gatherings with the relatives, costume shopping, trick-or-treating, holiday shopping, extra cooking, entertaining guests and visitors from out of town, school parties, religious celebrations…

The list seems endless. If just thinking about it is already wearing you down, then it’s time to make some drastic…okay, small but helpful…changes this year. Take a quick inventory of the things that might be responsible for your exhaustion. Whatever the cause, once you discover what’s draining your energy, you can take these steps to put the vitality back in your life and survive the holiday blitz.
  • Time to downsize? If you are running from one task to the next without a break, it is eventually going to wear you out. You do not have to stay to the end of every party or even attend every gathering. Look at your list of events and obligations and see where you can cut back on time, energy, and money.

    • Do you have to prepare a seven-course meal yourself, or can each of your guests pitch-in?
    • Discuss the gift-giving routine early. Most likely, your family and friends are probably feeling just as overwhelmed as you are. Can changes be made? Instead of buying for all, how about drawing names from a hat or giving to a local charity in someone’s honor.

  • Lack of sleep. You don’t have to pull an all-nighter or miss several hours of sleep to feel negative effects. Getting just ONE hour less than what you normally need can leave you drowsy and unable to handle the increased chaos.

    • Avoid eating, reading or watching TV in bed.
    • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
    • Stick to the same sleep schedule daily. Naps are fine, take them earlier in the day and keep them short—a 4-hour snooze is not a nap. Sometimes all you need is 10-30 minutes to reenergize.
    • Exercise at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.
    • A small evening snack may help you drift off to sleep, but large late-night meals can keep you tossing andturning all night.

  • Horrendous eating habits! If you are not eating properly or drinking enough water, your body is not getting the fuel and fluids it needs. Using caffeine as a jolt will only backfire. So start your day with a low-fat, high-fiber breakfast including whole grains and fruits for energy. Stay away from sugary cereals, sweetened drinks and caffeinated drinks.

    • Do NOT skip meals. It may be necessary to go with 4-6 mini meals that include whole grains, fruits, veggies, low fat dairy, and protein. Examples include turkey on rye with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes; soup and salad; peanut butter on whole-wheat toast, milk and an orange; or cottage cheese, bagel and carrot sticks.
    • Low carbs, and extremely low calories are guaranteed to zap your energy levels.

  • Inactivity. Don’t mistake being "busy" for being "active." You still need to get some exercise. After fatigue sets in, you are too tired to exercise. And when you exert yourself you tire more easily. Exercise is vital to improving your mood, your muscles and your energy level. You say you don’t have 30 minutes? Start with 10 minutes at a time.

    • When shopping at the mall, take one extra fast-paced lap before you leave.
    • While waiting to pick up the kids from practice, wear your tennis shoes and circle the parking lot or sidewalk.

  • Alcohol. Be aware that alcohol depresses your central nervous system and acts as a sedative, making you tired for hours after consuming no more than only a drink or two. It may also disrupt your sleep if you drink before bed.

    • Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks with a meal or dinner— at least 4 hours before bedtime.
    • If you’re drinking later at night, you may be more fatigued the next day. Look at your schedule in advance and plan a way to catch up on sleep if needed.

    The holidays are just around the corner. By making a few changes in your lifestyle you can turn drudgery into delights and fatigue into festivities!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Home made, no bake fudge

Want to learn a cheap, very fast, no-bake fudge?  :)
Fast Easy Fudge - 3 minutes with 2 ingredients. (canned frosting & chips) I made one layer with peanut butter chips and cream cheese frosting and the top layer with choc. chips and coconut/pecan canned frosting.

Additional information:
The directions for frosting & chips fudge is simple. I have used Hershey & Nestles chips, and they both turn out. The difference there is Hershey's are 12 oz and Nestles are 10 oz. but it doesn't seem to make a difference. The directions are: using a microwaveable dish, spread the chips over the bottom of dish and cook for 90 seconds. Then put the whole can of frosting on top of the chips in the dish and cook that for 90 seconds. The frosting will be melted. Now stir it real well to mix and pour into an 8x8" pan that has been buttered. I put foil in the pan and buttered that to make it easier to take out after it set. This is so cool and I thank the person who sent it in. You probably saved me days of standing to make the candy for Christmas.

Nancy’s Easy Fudge
1 (12-ounce) package of baking chips—chocolate, mint, butterscotch, white, or peanut butter
1 (16-ounce) tub of prepared frosting
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon extract of your choice
3/4 cup nuts of your choice

1. Lightly butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or a 9-inch diameter pan. Set aside.
2. Melt the baking chips in the microwave in a medium bowl.
3. Stir in the frosting, salt, extract, and nuts until well combined.
4. Scrape into the prepared pan and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour or until firm. Cut it into squares to serve.

Baker’s notes: Your baking chips need to be of the finest quality. You may substitute wafers. Try these suggested combinations: Chocolate Walnut Mint, Butterscotch Vanilla Pecan, and Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cheese.

In our testing we used both Betty Crocker® and Pillsbury® brands of frosting. We preferred Betty Crocker frosting since it made a firmer fudge.

Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge
Put one bag of Reese's peanut butter chips (I believe it was 12 ounces) in a glass bowl, and spread them so that they are not all in the middle of the bowl and they will melt easier.
Cook in microwave for 1 minute and a half.

Get out and stir, then stir in one can of vanilla cake frosting, stir real good and put in microwave and cook for 1 minute and a half, get out and
stir, then put in 9 x 9 grease plate or pan, let cool, cut and eat.
Enjoy-Carolyn from Loveland

Another member added this comment:
I also used milk chocolate and cream cheese frosting very, very good.

Also 3rd member added this comment;
Just a note about the frosting fudge. I have made several different flavors in the last few years. I add 1/2 to 1 teasp. vanilla and a pinch of salt to the melted mixture. It gives it a fresher, more homemade taste.
Carolyn in Loveland

I just tried the fudge with German chocolate (coconut & pecan) frosting and milk chocolate chips, plus a little vanilla. It is set up and looks good. My husband is going to "sample" it tonight before I send some to a friend.

To Roz in Indy, newsletter
11/3, I was going to try the chocolate and coconut pecan frosting and I was going to call it German Chocolate Fudge. I am making this for my husband later this week. It will be a surprise for him. I was going to get white chocolate chip and cream cheese frosting and chop up red cherries and green ones for Christmas. You will need to drain the cherries very well and put them on a couple of paper towels to get the last drop of liquid out of them. This fudge will be called Christmas Fudge.

Also the recipe for the easy fudge is 1- 12 oz bag chips, melt 90 seconds in microwave, take out & stir, add 1 can white frosting, (not whipped) stir, microwave another 90 seconds, take out, stir well, pour into a greased pan (8x8 is size I used) chill till set, about 1/2 hour. Perfect every time. Experiment a bit and have fun, use chocolate chips with chocolate frosting, butterscotch chips with vanilla frosting...peanut butter chips with chocolate frosting, chocolate chips with cream cheese frosting...peanut butter chips with white frosting..etc .It's not as complicated as everyone is making it! Use your imagination a bit!

From Becky in Magnolia, Arkansas: Since so many of you out there are making that easy and delicious Canned Frosting Fudge, I thought of an idea that could be lots of fun for either a group of friends or family members at a holiday gathering: Have a Different Flavored Fudge Swap! It would work just like a Cookie Swap, except that everyone brings a different flavor of fudge, cut into small bite-size pieces. Then everyone simply swaps pieces of fudge with everyone else and they each take home a variety-plate of fudge to enjoy. I've listed below some of the variations you might make - I'm sure there could be more! :)

-1/2 - 1 c. of chopped pecans, walnuts or peanuts can be added to any of the variations
-Chocolate chips/chocolate frosting – this is for the die-hard chocolate lovers J
-Chocolate chips/vanilla frosting – not as chocolate-y
-Peanut butter chips/chocolate frosting – tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
-Mint chocolate chips/chocolate frosting – tastes like an Andes mint
-Cherry chips/chocolate frosting – tastes like a chocolate-covered cherry
-Vanilla chips/any flavor frosting
-Vanilla frosting/any flavor chips

Try layering two different flavors for two different colors: make a batch with chocolate chips/vanilla frosting and let it harden; make another batch of any other combination and spread on top of the first one.

I bought some of the coconut-pecan frosting today, and some butterscotch chips and some toffee/chocolate chips. I will use one or the other of the chips to make this fudge.

I tried the chocolate chips with chocolate fudge icing and pecans this week. It is incredibly good and so easy it's almost sinful. I have a friend who absolutely doesn't cook, but she does have a microwave; I told her about this and gave her the recipe. She is so excited that she can "cook" homemade Christmas gifts for her friends.

I have tried the white frosting with white chips and added coconut and slivered almonds. OH MY GOSH!! Better than my favorite Sees candy.

AnneE from PA asked about suggestions making Coconut-pecan icing candy. I just made a batch adding dark chocolate chips and pecans. It was great. I made 5 different kinds to take to a party and people couldn't believe how simple it was to make or how good it turned out. Now I'm going to make some and freeze it for Christmas gifts.

I made the easy fudge last night with my mother. She is 74 ( I am 56) and she just had to see if it would be good. I used milk chocolate chips and vanilla frosting and added 1 teaspoon vanilla. After it set in the fridge about 15 minutes, my mom and I tried it. I was surprised myself at how good it is. My husband loves it, so it will be a keeper.

I would like some cherry chips. Anyone know where I could get them. My grocery store doesn't carry them. Thanks in advance.
Shirley in Tyler, Texas

Shirley in Texas (I thinK). I have been collecting goodies to make the 2 ingredient fudge for Christmas presents. I found a bag of dries cherries at Target. They are not 'chips' but I think the fruit will be good in a vanilla fudge. Probably would be good in chocolate too but I am not fond of chocolate. I am known as the crazy one amongst my friends.
AnneE from Pa.

Yesterday I made a batch of that two ingredient fudge. I used milk chocolate frosting and semisweet chocolate chips since our family loves chocolate. I was a bit skeptical about how it would turn out, but my goodness, it was fantastic! It was so creamy, dreamy, and chocolaty that you would never have known it wasn't made from scratch! I finally found a fudge recipe I couldn't flunk, LOL. Our whole family loved it. Thanks so much! I will definitely be making more.
~Anna in MO

Milk choc frosting & mint chips
Coconut pecan frosting & special dark chips-taste like mounds
Chocolate fudge frosting & semi sweet chips & nuts
Vanilla frosting & peanut butter chips

Lemon Fudge:
1 can lemon frosting
1 pkg white or vanilla chips
crushed lemon drops

Melt the chips in the microwave for 90 seconds, stirring after 60 seconds. Add the lemon frosting and microwave again for 90 seconds stirring after 60 seconds. Place in an 8 or 9 inch greased pan and cool. When set, form into small balls and roll in crushed lemon drops

1 (12oz) pkg (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can Chocolate Fudge Creamy Supreme Frosting
1-1/2 cup miniature marshmellows
3/4 cup chopped mixed nuts

Line an 8" square pan with pil, extending foil over edges, and lightly butter the foil. Melt chips in large saucepan over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in frosting. Add
marshmallows and nuts, mix until well coated. Spread in buttered pan, and chill until firm (about 1 hour). Remove from pan by pulling up foil, cut into squares.

Pina Colada Fudge
1(12-ounce) package (2 cups) white vanilla chips
1 (3.25-ounce) jar macadamia nuts, chopped, toasted
1 (16-ounce) can Creamy Supreme Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple
1/2 cup coconut, toasted
1 teaspoon rum extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

Line 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Place chips in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 15 seconds until smooth.
Reserve ¼ cup nuts for garnish. Add remaining nuts and all remaining ingredients to melted chip mixture; mix well. Spread in foil-lined pan. Sprinkle with reserved nuts. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Remove fudge from pan by lifting foil. Remove foil; cut into squares.
Makes 36 squares.

NOTE: To toast macadamia nuts and coconut, spread on separate small cookie sheets; bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes, or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Candy Bar Fudge
1 can Chocolate Frosting
2 Snickers bars(3.7 oz.) ,chopped
1 (12 oz) pkg. semisweet chips

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil, extending over sides. Spray with non stick spray, and set aside.
Melt chips in a microwave and stir in frosting. Pour half of this mixture in pan. Place all candy except a few pieces to garnish over this. Pour remaining chocolate over and garnish with remaining
candy. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Toffee Butterscotch Fudge
1 12 oz. pkg. butterscotch chips
1 can Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Caramel Pecan Frosting
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup almond brickle bits

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil, extending over sides. Melt butterscotch pan in a saucepan over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Add peanuts. Remove from heat; stir in frosting. Add brickle chips and
stir well. Pour in pan and refrigerate 1 hour.

Favorite Cookies and Cream Fudge
1 (12 oz.) pkg. vanilla chips
1 can cookies and cream frosting
10 oreos, cut in quarters
3 oreos, crushed

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil. Melt chips over low heat. Remove from heat. Add frosting. Stir in quartered oreos, and mix until well coated. Quickly spread into pan. Sprinkle with crushed cookies.
Refrigerate 1 hour until firm.

Funfetti Fudge
1 (12 oz.) pkg. vanilla chips
1 can Funfetti Frosting
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil, spray with nonstick spray. Melt chips over low heat. Add frosting and marshmallows. Stir until blended. Pour in pan. Sprinkle with funfetti sprinkles. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cut
into squares.

Hope this is a help to all requesting the Easy Fudge Recipes.
Sunshine in South Texas

To Nancy all the "Fudgites" out there,
I'd like to add a comment about the fudge as I have made 4 different combinations since this great and EASY recipe was posted in the newsletter and plan to make more to give to my neighbors for Xmas. I had no trouble at all and all four kinds came out creamy and delicious.
I made one batch using Cherry chips and White Chocolate Almond frosting. I added a few toasted pecans to this batch. After it set, I made a batch with the dark chocolate chips and chocolate frosting and put it on top of the Cherry batch. If there's anyone out there that likes Choc. Covered Cherries this is one to make! Today I used Peanut Butter Chips and Choc. frosting. Another winner! I have been freezing my fudge in plastic baggies which really does it no harm. In fact, it doesn't freeze too hard and you can eat it right out of the freezer. I know this for a fact. LOL!

My baking cupboard has all kinds of baking chips and now it's time to go to the store and check out the different frosting flavors.

Isometrics Build Strength Anytime, Anywhere

Do you sometimes find yourself skipping the strength training you know you should be doing, just because it’s hard to squeeze it into your hectic schedule? Sure, it’s possible to do a very effective strength training routine at home with minimal equipment, but even that can take time and energy that, on some days, is pretty hard to find.

Well, there is a way to work your muscles effectively with no equipment at all, even while you’re busy taking care of other business at the same time. If you’ve got 10 seconds you can spare, you can squeeze in one exercise. And over the course of a day, you can get in a full body workout without interrupting your busy schedule.

This muscle training method is called isometrics, or isometric exercise. As you’ll soon find out, it’s not a complete substitute for more traditional forms of strength training, and for some people with specific medical concerns it may not be appropriate at all. But it could be just what you need when you can’t do your regular routine, or when you want to give your training a little boost by adding an additional element.

What Is Isometrics?
Isometric exercise is your body’s answer to the question, "What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” The answer is that your muscles will get stronger without actually moving. If you’ve been doing your homework and reading up on strength training, then you already know that your muscles gain strength when you challenge them to produce more force than they're used to. This is typically done by forcing them to move against resistance or weight, like when you do a bicep curl while holding a dumbbell. As you gradually increase the weight or resistance, the muscle responds by getting stronger.

But muscles don’t actually have to move this added weight in order to get stronger. If the resistance is so high that they can’t make it move, they can still get stronger just by trying. There are three ways a muscle can contract to produce force (and eventually build strength):
  1. A concentric contraction occurs when a muscle is contracting while getting shorter. This is the contraction your biceps do, for example, when lifting a dumbbell up during a bicep curl.
  2. An eccentric contraction occurs when a muscle is contracting while getting longer. This is the contraction your biceps do, for example, when lowering a dumbbell back down during a bicep curl.
  3. An isometric contraction occurs when a muscle contracts without changing its length or causing any movement of the bones to which it is attached. The best example of this is pushing against a wall, or pulling up on a window that is stuck. This is the contraction your biceps do, for example, if you were to pause anywhere along the lifting or lowering phase of a bicep curl—your muscles are working without shortening or lengthening.
To see some examples of isometric exercises, check out these SparkPeople Exercise Demos:

Why Include Isometrics?
There are several very good reasons to include isometric contractions in your strength training program. For one thing, real life situations often require the ability to hold yourself in a certain position—carrying several bags of groceries, squatting down to scrub a floor, holding a baby in your arms—and isometrics is a good way to train your muscles to get better at handling those specific positions. For another, isometric training usually involves exerting maximum force, which will activate and train all of the available muscle fibers and lead to more significant improvements in strength in less time.

But perhaps the most significant benefit for many people is that isometric training can literally be done anywhere, without any special equipment at all. All you need is about 10 seconds to do a single, effective isometric exercise, and you can probably do it without anyone noticing you’re actually exercising.

Let’s say, for example, that your day is just too busy for you to break out the dumbbells and do several sets of bicep curls. If you can find 10 seconds, a couple of times during the day, to press your palms together as hard as you can, you can still exercise your arm muscles effectively. If you can sit in a chair with your abs engaged (tightened) and your feet held just slightly off the floor, you’re giving those core muscles a good workout. If that’s too easy for you, just push down on your knees with your hands while trying not to let your feet touch the floor. To work those upper back and neck muscles, clasp your hands behind your neck, elbows wide, and push your head back while trying to push it forward with your hands. With a little creativity, you can think of ways to use one muscle or limb to oppose the opposite one (or find some immovable object in your environment to push or pull against), so that you can give most of your muscles a good isometric workout. As long you exert as much force as you can for at least 10 seconds for each exercise, you’ll get the training benefit.

The Limits of Isometrics
The biggest limitation of isometric exercise is that each isometric hold only increases your muscle’s strength in that exact position—not through a full range of motion. In other words, if all you do to strengthen your arms is press your palms together with your elbows bent at right angles, you’re arms won't become stronger at lifting things when your elbows are straight (or at any other angles). Therefore, it's impractical to make isometrics your primary form of strength training—you’d need to do many exercises, each at a different joint angle, in order to strengthen a muscle at all points in its full range of motion. Talk about time-consuming!

Isometric contractions also restrict blood flow and can cause sharp rises in blood pressure during the exercise. This means that isometric exercises can be unsafe for anyone with heart disease or high blood pressure, and women who are pregnant. If you fall into one of these categories, do not try isometric exercises without the consent of your doctor. If you experience any unusual symptoms (headache, nausea or dizziness) while doing isometric exercises, stop immediately and don’t use isometric exercise without clearance from your doctor.

For everyone, it is very important to remember to breathe properly during any intense muscular contraction, especially the maximum contractions of isometric exercise. Never hold your breath during the contraction, and try to maintain a normal breathing rhythm. And avoid extending the time of maximum muscle contraction much beyond 10 seconds.

Adding Isometrics to Your Program
Supplementing your concentric and eccentric strength training exercises with some isometric exercises is ideal. In addition to using isometrics when you don't have time to do anything else, as described earlier, you can also add them into your regular routine, to make sure you’re really working your muscles to the point of maximum overload.

There are many ways to do this. For example, you can easily turn a regular exercise into an isometric one by simply pausing and holding, somewhere along the range of movement, for a few seconds. In general, it will be harder and result in greater benefit when you hold closer to the very top of the lifting phase or the very bottom of the lowering phase (without actually getting there).

Here are a few examples:
  • When doing bicep curls, tricep extensions, chest presses and similar resistance exercises, pause halfway through your lifting (concentric) phase and hold the weight steady. Make it harder by pausing just before you lower back down to the starting point of the exercise.
  • When doing squats, lunges, and pushups, pause after lowing yourself down (at the end of your concentric contraction) and hold your body steady.
  • When doing crunches, pause at the top of your crunch and hold. Make it harder by pausing just before you reach the starting point of the exercise (shoulder blades just hovering above the floor).

It's also good to vary the holding point from workout to workout in order to maintain strength through the whole range of motion.

You can also use isometrics to involve additional muscles in some regular exercises too. For example, if you’re doing a plank exercise to strengthen your core muscles, try adding a few isometrics to engage your upper body. Instead of keeping your elbows straight and locked, bend them just slightly and try to hold that position. That will give your arm and shoulder muscles something to do, along with your core muscles.

These SparkPeople Exercise Demos combine lower body isometrics with upper body exercises:

Now that you know all about isometrics, get out there and do your best to NOT move a muscle!

TC Challenge & Video

Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Begin by standing with both your feet shoulder width apart and your upper body erect. There should be a slight bend in the knees.

Bring one leg behind your back and grab it with your arm on the same side, behind the buttocks. Hold for 12 seconds and switch legs. Repeat this stretch twice.

Special Instructions
Make sure that your knee is pointed directly into the ground and not out to the side.


Leslie Sansone - Walk Away the Pounds Express - Super ChallengeThe "Super Challenge" DVD is a great addition for in-home walkers. If you are a veteran of the Walk Away the Pounds workouts and you're looking for the next level of working out, this is your DVD.

Leslie uses steps that are easy to follow, this is not about aerobic dancing. The steps on this DVD are:
- Walking (of course!)
- Side Steps (single and double)
- Knee Lifts
- Kicks
- Kick backs (leg curls)
To add some variety to this workout, Leslie uses double side steps, double knee lifts, and even brings back the fabled 80's Grapevine.

The walkers on this DVD are sure to get you motivated. There are women in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, and even a man in his 70's. People of all ages and all levels of walking can use this DVD. If you're just getting started, only do the first mile.

The thing that I appreciated most about this DVD is that there are no exercise "extras" you need to buy to do it. There is no "stretchie", no weights, no belt, nothing but your own two feet (and sneakers). Not using extras makes this DVD accessible for everyone.

The music for this DVD is contemporary techno. There is even one song with a little Latin feel to it. The music continues to build in pace until you reach the third mile where you level off for the fourth mile. The pace at the end of the second mile into the beginning of the third mile gets very, very brisk. Hang in there for a great workout.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Thanksgiving Scrap

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Yes, I know ... Thanksgiving is over & it's only 23 days til Christmas. So I'm behind on making my family scrap pages. Thanksgiving was quiet & it was just the 4 of us. I don't think it has been just the 4 of us during a holiday in some time. It was nice. We were contemplating going out to eat but the cost for one meal just didn't make any of us feel all warm & cozy. I knew we would have left overs but I knew I would be able to keep myself from going back until I felt like I was going to bust. I was right ... I didn't go back for 3rd ... 4ths ... 5ths. I had my dinner around 1pm & then again had a serving of everything around 5. I was good. Hope Christmas goes as well.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cardio Tunes

Get Your Body Movin' -- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer

“My uptown girl!  You know I’m in love with an uptown girl!”  As these lyrics pump through your headphones, it’s easy to forget that while Billy Joel sings to you, you’re actually running on the treadmill.  This is the power of music during a workout.  While Billy’s girl is looking for a “downtown man,” you’re busy burning calories as the minutes just fly by…
Music can be an important addition to your workout routine, something that can make a good workout great.  Often, if you are concentrating on music, you can workout at a higher intensity than normal.  Tunes can distract you from mild pain and muscle fatigue, allowing you to push your body harder.  Just like it is important to customize your workout routine, it is also beneficial to tailor your musical choices to fit your tastes.  If you are lucky enough to enjoy the music played in your gym, then it isn’t any extra effort to enjoy this source of motivation.  If, however, your gym’s choices leave much to be desired, simply create your own mix and tote your headset to your workout. 
If you don’t have a workout buddy, use your “mix tape” to psych yourself up and get the energy flowing.  You might try listening to fast-paced music on the way to the gym just to get into a better mindset.  Once you are there, that beat can help you ease into a comfortable rhythm while running, walking, or biking.  For some extra variety, switch-up the pace (or even machine!) every time the song changes.  Do this for 30 minutes, and you’ll have completed a great cardio workout.
There is a lot of technology that makes listening to custom music choices much easier.  From portable radios to CD players, you can bring an entire music library with you to the gym.  Perhaps the ultimate, however, is a personal MP3 player, which can often hold thousands of songs that you pick and legally download.  All you need to do is put on the earphones and hit play. 
There are countless CDs available that are specifically mixed for working out.  Some are specific for different workouts, from syncopated songs for kickboxing to disco-themed melodies for step aerobics.  Try one that fits both your musical and workout tastes.  80’s music might motivate you, while hip-hop is better for your workout buddy.  Expect to pay anywhere from $15-25 for any given CD, available online or even at your local music store.
Perhaps the best option is creating your own custom CD or MP3 playlist.  Start with a slower song, work up to several more up-tempo songs, and then include one or two tunes to cool down at the end.  Coordinate your workout intensity with each song, picking up pace as the beat speeds up.  Depending on the length of each song, expect to listen to around 10 different songs during a 30-minute cardio workout. 
The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale will help you move through the following playlist, created by SparkPeople for approximately a 30-minute cardio workout.  As the RPE moves with each song, you should adjust the intensity of your workout accordingly.  Feel free to create your own mixes to make your workout tunes truly your own.  Enjoy!

Click here to learn more about exercise intensity, including how to use the RPE scale.

 Title  Artist Duration  RPE
 The Sign  Ace of Base  3:12  4
 Caught Up  Usher  3:44  6
 Uptown Girl  Billy Joel  3:16  7
 Ain't Too Proud to Beg  The Temptations  2:33  8
 Lose My Breath  Destiny's Child  4:02  8
 Take Me Out  Franz Ferdinand  3:57  7
 Rock Your Body  Justin Timberlake  4:27  6
 Respect  Aretha Franklin  2:25  6
 When It's Over Sugar Ray   3:40  4

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Video of the Day

Yoga Booty Ballet Live: Cardio Cabaret, Burlesque Style!I love the "zen, in the moment, let's enjoy working out, enjoy your body" feel of Teigh McDonough & Gillian Marloth. This is about the same easy pace, easy to mimic as their Light & Easy & Latin workouts.
It's set like the picture with at least 6 other women & 1 in good shape guy <-- pretty cute to watch him shake his thang! all in their 20s or early 30s. Most of the women are in great shape or only a few extra pounds so that their excitement & enthusiasm is high & contagious. In the Easy or Latin workouts, the ones who were more then say 30 lbs overweight got tired & barely moved which put a damper on your own enthusiasm.
It starts with only a tiny second of kundalini yoga (much too short), then it's all mostly cabaret dance. There is a woman in the row behind between Teigh & Gillian who looks to have dance school experience & since she doesn't have to teach like them, she seems to get into it the most with a lot of grace & makes the moves look more hip then they are. The moves are very simplified, cutsy, silly, only a few moves that would be considered sexy.
I loved the end point of the small amount of ballet & end stretching. I hope they have workout with that emphasized.
This is great for beginners/those who are out of shape & low endurance or those who are looking for something light, easy & fun. Doing this will make you feel more positive & even want to workout more!
I hope Teigh & Gillian put out more of their Master series or more workout with ballet or balancing exercises.