The Saturday Skinny: Find exercise where you can to lose weight

Healthy choices are critical to success
By: Don Chaddock, Gold Country News Service
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For me, the key word for losing weight is activity. If I?m not active, I?m not losing. As of this morning, I?m down to 206 pounds, meaning I?ve lost 97 pounds and am only three away from my goal. When I hit that goal, I will re-examine where I am with my weight and might set another goal of 10 pounds. EXERCISE There are times when dedicated exercise time just isn?t available. A 10-minute walk, an extra lap around the store pushing the shopping cart or parking my car in the last stall at the end of the row are sometimes as good as it gets. A great way to get in some exercise is to do something you enjoy. For me, that?s yard work and gardening. The last two weekends have found me with shovel in hand digging up my side garden, expanding my herb garden and turning the dirt in the upper garden. For a few hours, I?m outside (wearing sunscreen and a hat) really working up a sweat. This year?s garden includes tomatoes and corn, which I?m looking forward to harvesting in a few months. We also planted basil (sweet, Thai and purple), lemon grass, shallots, Italian parsley and cilantro. They accompany our purple sage, thyme, lavender, rosemary, mint, green onions and oregano. Some people have asked me for specifics regarding food choices. Staples in my house include quinoa, brown rice, fresh fruit, baby spinach, hearts of romaine lettuce, broccoli slaw (easily added to any salad or smoothie), chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), nonfat plain and nonfat vanilla yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, egg whites, sweet potatoes (yellow or white), yams (red or orange), large portabella mushroom caps, canned black beans (I eat them drained and rinsed, atop salads or in wraps), Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal (90 percent of your iron per serving), Grape Nuts (or the Raley?s brand knock off, Nutty Nuggets, which has less sugar), Belvita breakfast crackers (lots of iron), whole wheat pasta (for the occasional treat), grapes (frozen, for my 1-cup bedtime snack), lots of frozen fruit (mango, strawberries, raspberries, etc., as they can be added to smoothies) and plenty of frozen vegetables (which can be packed for lunches). I avoid alcohol, bread, potatoes, soda, sweets, chips, ice cream, cake, sugar, pasta, ?creamy? foods and anything that is calorie-dense. A good example of healthy food choices is easily demonstrated by my well-meaning parents. During a visit while on vacation over Memorial Day weekend, they cooked a prepackaged ?vegetarian lasagna? believing it would be something I would eat. One thing I?ve learned to do over these months of healthy eating is to read the label. Just one cup (which isn?t much) contained 350 calories and 140 of those were from fat. Sodium was also sky high. I thanked them and ate something else. I didn?t want to be rude, but I?m not going to jeopardize my weight loss with poor food choices. I?ll reiterate here and now that I?m not on a ?diet.? Those end. I?m eating healthier and making better choices for the rest of my life, not for six or nine months at a time. On a diet, when finished, most people revert to unhealthy behavior and ultimately undo all their hard work (at least I did, for 20 years). For me, this is a lifestyle change, not a short-term fix. There is no magic pill or easy solution to losing a significant amount of weight. If I stay focused, I know I will never again lose control of my waistline. On a recent shopping trip to buy new clothing, I realized I'm down to a 32-inch waist (from my heaviest at a 44-inch waist). I'm never going back. * * * Recipe of the week Quinoa is a great source of protein and can easily replace rice on your dinner plate. I had never cooked quinoa before and found it to be very easy. The recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis at The Food Network. Herbed quinoa 1 1/2 cups quinoa 2 3/4 cups chicken stock (low sodium) 1/4 cup fresh lemon (or lime) juice Dressing 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup fresh lemon (or lime) juice 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves 2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional) Freshly ground black pepper Kosher salt (optional) In a saucepan, add chicken stock, lemon (or lime) juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer and cover until liquid is absorbed (about12 to 15 minutes). In separate bowl, stir together ingredients for dressing. Season with pepper and/or salt to taste. Pour dressing over quinoa and toss until coated. Serve hot or cold. Reach Don Chaddock at or follow him on Twitter @anewsguy. He welcomes your tips, questions and weight loss success stories.