Charting My Weight – Gaining Perspective

A friend, Tish MacWebber, manages the blog Trust Your Gut. This past week, I have been a guest blogger and am glad to share the post HERE. Just click and have a look at “Charting my Weight – Gaining Perspective.” The post looks at my learnings from over 40 years of weight charting. All my best … Alexandra


keeping busy in the evenings

Well, two weeks into my new wellness challenge, I have lost two pounds.  This makes me happy because loosing the weight slowly is the best way to allow my habits and body to adjust.  My morning blood glucose readings have also been great for these two weeks, always less than 8.0 .


I attribute my loss to limiting my evening eating.  Instead of sitting, watching TV and making trips to the kitchen every five minutes, I have focussed on making small lap quilts.  These are easy to handle, quick to do and the finished quilt helps me stay warm on a cold evening.

I think this works to curb my evening eating because:

  • it keeps my hands busy
  • the work demands my whole attention
  • snacking as I am sewing is almost impossible
  • the result (the finished quilt) is very satisfying


My quilt-making would not win any prizes.  As you can see below, my stitches are quite irregular.  But it ‘works for me’ and the result is quite durable.  I start with a small fleece baby blanket (30″ by 36″) and sew small patches on one side, using top stitching.  Then I add a backing and sew the layers together with more stitching.  By the time a quilt is bound, it has taken about 5 evenings or 15 hours.




Best always, Alexandra

a healthy eating plan for me

My dietician has always encouraged me not to think in terms of following a ‘diet’.  Diets are somewhat defeatist.  They imply ‘temporary’, ‘drastic’ and (sometimes) ‘failure’.


A better approach is to think in terms of a healthy eating plan that will last a lifetime.  I certainly like to keep track of what I eat, and a healthy eating plan gives me a guideline for comparison.


I decided to design my own healthy eating plan.  I started by looking at Canada’s Food Guide to see how many calories I should eat per day.  Calorie intake varies by age, activity level, gender,  For my age, and low active life style, the chart says I should use 1850 calories per day.  I know from tracking my calorie intake on MyFitnessPal‘  app on my Ipad (, I am maintaining my weight with about 2200 calories per day.   I have decided to base my healthy eating plan on about 2000 calories per day.


In designing my plan, I want to include the following things I know about myself:

  • evening eating is a huge problem for me
  • I have trouble keeping my morning blood glucose levels in check and so evening eating has to be minimized
  • my dietician told me a snack in the afternoon will help me combat evening hunger
  • I find I have more energy when I include protein in my breakfast
  • I like to have a snack mid-morning
  • I am in good control of my eating for both breakfast and lunch
  • I often don’t get enough milk products during the day
  • I have trouble limiting portion sizes
  • ‘red light’ foods for me are ice-cream, chocolate, chips, and (!) Greek yogurt


Breakfast – usually cereal with milk or toast

Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 ¾ cup cereal
Milk  1 1 c milk
Fruit  1 banana, apple, pear
Protein  1 2 tbsp peanut butter


Lunch – I usually have leftovers from dinner, soup and toast, or a sandwich

Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 1/2 hamburger bun
Fat  1 mayo
Fruit  1 ¼ c dried fruit; 20 grapes
Vegetables  1 sliced red pepper
Protein  1 ½ c tuna packed in water


Dinner – we have a healthy meal with potato, meat or fish, lots of vegetables and fruit for dessert.  At least once a week we have chili (good-for-us tomatoes and high fibre) or a salad-as-dinner  (green vegetables and fibre)

Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 ½ cup canned corn, small potato
Fat  1 1 tsp olive oil margarine
Fruit  1 1/2 cup canned fruit
Vegetables  3 1 c lettuce, ½ c brussels sprouts
Protein  1 chicken breast; ¾ c beans


Snacks – for me, a good snack is yogurt and crackers, a smoothie made with milk and fruit, crackers and cheese, or vegetable sticks

For my three daily snacks, I can choose from A, B,  or C:

Evening Snack A B C
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  1 7 crackers
Milk  1  1 8 oz milk, 1 ¼ inch cube cheese,   yogurt
Fat  1 salad dressing
Fruit  1  1 1 cup strawberries; 20 cherries
Vegetables  1 1 carrot, ½ c broccoli


Please note: my serving sizes may not be exact; for serving sizes, see Canada’s Food Guide (for example:


To summarize, this is my healthy eating plan for one day (approximately 2000 calories):


Healthy Eating Plan Meals Snacks
Food Group Total Number of servings Breakfast Lunch Supper A B C
Bread  7  2  2  2  1
Milk  3  1  1  1
Fat  3  1  1  1
Fruit  5  1  1  1  1  1
Vegetables  5  1  3  1
Protein  3  1  1  1


Best always, Alexandra


eating more fish – results

In January, I set a goal to include more fish in my diet …




I did fairly well, eating fish eight times during the four weeks.  I also ordered fish when I went to a restaurant during the month.


We tried a couple of recipes.  The Hearty Salmon Chowder is always good.  The Tuna-Kidney Bean Salad was a bit bland for my liking – good ingredients could be improved with some mayo.


The path to wellness is never easy and I discovered that I have to modify my enthusiasm sometimes … eating more fish than usual gave me a flare-up of gout.  Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood and results in attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis.  In my case, the joints of my toes become inflamed and sore.  Sources say fish can cause a flare-up.  I also have had gout attacks from eating asparagus.


I intend to keep eating fish, just in moderation.  From this adventure with eating fish, I have discovered:

  • a better diet begins with the grocery store
  • use ‘eating out’ as a way to make better eating choices


Best Always, Alexandra


eating more fish – update

Two weeks ago, I pledged to eat include more fish in my diet for the next month.  I thought I’d do a mid-goal review of how I am doing.




For the first two weeks, I have included fish in my meals more often (at least twice a week).  We’ve bought more fish than usual at the grocery store and tried some new recipes.


I went out with friends last evening and took a different approach to ordering in keeping with my goal.  Usually, I order some sort of chicken dish.  Last evening I had a good look at the fish menu choices and picked the ‘Arctic Char’.  To quote the menu: ‘a Nova Scotia fish to fall in love with, seasoned Cajun style and dressed with a citrus hollandaise sauce serve with charbroiled carrots, zucchini and rice pilaf’.


Well, I am so glad I tried something different!  The Arctic Char was so good, similar to salmon.  Delicate taste, no bones and so good with the charbroiled carrots!  I went away from the table feeling satisfied but not over-stuffed! This is a good choice from an environmental point of view too since Arctic Char is a sustainably farmed fish.


My learning from my fish-eating challenge so far …

♦ to try something new when I go out to eat – a great way to increase the fish in my diet


Best always, Alexandra


keeping track

I am convinced, one of the best aids to aiming for wellness is ‘keeping track’.  This includes keeping a record of my weight and daily exercise.  It also includes making a list of what I have eaten during the day.

At the present time, I am using the food and exercise records in the MyFitnessPal‘  app on my Ipad (

In the past, I have used other ways of keeping track of my daily eating.  I thought I’d share a few of these.  Perhaps one will work for you!

For almost a year, I kept track using index cards.  On one side, I fixed a label printed from my computer.  On the other side, I recorded my food choices for each meal.


For a pdf file of the labels I used, click here: dietlabels

For a while, I used a small booklet of ‘strips’ showing the various food groups and checkboxes to keep track.  I used my own ‘diet’ of 5 servings of vegetables, 5 of fruit, three of meat and fish, 3 of milk and milk products, 5 of grains, 3 of fat and 8 of water.  To make the booklet, I cut strips from a printed sheet (see the pdf file below) and stapled them together.

a booklet of strips for keeping track of the day’s food groups

For a pdf file of the strips, click here: food journal

Sometimes, just to bring myself under control, I have taken a rather manic approach to food and activity journaling.  For example, here is a week-end journal I used for a while a few years ago.

a sheet to help keep track of eating on the weekend

Have fun using any of these food diary ideas, or invent one of your own.  Keeping track works!!!!

Best always, Alexandra 

what did I eat?

evening eating – results of a month’s monitoring

From November 27, 2013 to December 27, 2013, I kept track of my evening eating (see the tab ‘evening eating’, above).  Evening eating has been a problem for me for years.  After a good supper, I frequently begin a frenzy of trips to the refrigerator, to see what might be good to eat.

As a result of keeping track earlier this month (, I know that I can help my evening eating by:

  1. keeping track of my eating for the day
  2. planning to eat a snack from a food group where I did not eat enough (example: milk)
  3. keeping occupied during the evening with a diversionary activity (example: knitting, drawing, reading)

This approach seemed to work for me during the month.  I did not have any evenings where I lost control, although I did eat more than my planned snack on a couple of evenings.  Also, I knitted most evenings and finished a multi-coloured cowl I can wear on my winter walks outside.

the cowl I knit during the evenings in December
the cowl I knit during the evenings in December

I am going to continue to record my evening eating strategies in MyFitnessPal‘  (  I’ll be sure and show you the results of my next ‘diversionary activity’ project!!!!

Best always, Alexandra 

Alexandra reading, not eating
Alexandra reading, not eating

what I’ve been eating

I began my weight loss and wellness program on November 23, 2013.  Since then, I have been tracking my eating on most days using the ‘app’ called MyFitnessPal‘  (  The ‘app’ helps me record what I have eaten and tracks nutrients so I will know at the end of the day if I haven’t had enough calcium or fibre.  Gradually it builds a dictionary of your usual foods, so entering the food gets quicker with time.  The ‘app’ also allows you to track exercise and the water you drink.

what did I eat?
what did I eat?

Last evening, I decided to have a look at what I have eaten to try and identify some patterns, to see where I have gone wrong, and to know what I have done right.  Since November 17, 2013 (one month ago), I have kept a record of my eating on 19 of 30 days.  A simple look at what I have eaten during those days shows me some interesting facts that I can put to work in my future wellness endeavors:

◊ during those 19 days, I ate ‘out’ on five occasions

on three of these, I kept my calories at the restaurant below 500 🙂

on one night, a dinner with friends, I made a bad meal choice followed by a high calorie dessert – I suffered with salt overload for the next five days!

one lunch meal – you won’t believe this one – we had a best poutine challenge (Dairy Queen versus McDonalds) – over 1600 calories wasted on ridiculousness!!! 😦

why do I do rediculous?????
why do I do ridiculous ?????


◊ I was within 200 calories of my goal for the day on 8 days 🙂

◊ on several days I could have saved about 300 calories by limiting my cheese serving size – if I had only 1 ounce of cheese instead of 3 to 4 ounces, I would still have met my calcium goal for the day and saved the calories, salt and fat.

◊ foods I seem to have a hard time limiting: chocolate, potato salad, chicken pot pie and cheese

we have developed a habit of eating salad once or twice a week, and chili con carne at least once a week – good choices, high in fibre and nutrients 🙂

◊ as I’ve reported before, I went to two parties during this time and ate responsibly at both 🙂

my potassium intake is below what it should be on most days – an increase in fruit and vegetables should fix this

choose foods rich in Potassium (K)
choose foods rich in Potassium (K)

Keeping track of my food intake has value beyond the day – weeks later, I can use the food diary to help me make better eating decisions!

Do you keep a food diary?  What has it taught you about eating well? 

Best always, Alexandra


enjoying a party

In my program of weight loss and healthy eating, I have come up against the biggest challenge of the season – the Christmas party.  I have been to two and although I did better than I would have if wellness weren’t foremost on my mind, I realise seasonal eating can put major hurdles in the way of weight-loss.

First, I need to remember that the purpose of the Christmas party is not to gorge on party food, but to spend time with friends.  Conversation, not calories should be my focus when I go to a Christmas event.

Second, I need to have a plan:

  1. eat properly before I leave home
  2. know that this is not the last time I will ever be able to sample good food
  3. enjoy the company and don’t think about the food all the time
  4. select an item that looks delicious and have only one serving
  5. choose a healthy food that I know I can eat guilt-free
  6. don’t sit near the food but find a spot at more than arm’s length from the table
  7. tell someone at the party I am trying to limit my intake of high-calorie foods

At both events, the party hosts were good enough to include low-calorie and healthy alternatives in their fare.  A fruit tray with grapes and melon saved me at the first party.  Baked apples, stuffed with raisins were a good choice at the second gathering.  It made me realise that when I bring something to a dinner as a pot-luck contribution, I can make my contribution both calorie-wise and healthy.

Holiday eating at home has not been as successful.  As a result of almost 60 years of training, I associate the holidays with eating.  Over the last weeks, we have included several foods in our grocery cart that should never have made it into our home.  In this case, the best strategy is – do not buy foods I cannot resist.  Good news folks, we have eaten it all.

Best always, Alexandra

unhappy Alexandra
Alexandra, ashamed, after the cheesecake is all gone.

evening eating – my results

Two days ago I set a very short-term goal:

Goal #5: In two days (on November 25) I would like to be able to say that I have been more mindful about my evening eating, deciding beforehand what snack I will eat and finding other ways to occupy myself.

This is the notebook page where I kept a record of how I approached this goal:


You will notice the stickers I’ve added to the page.  Perhaps this is childish, but I respond very well to rewards, even something as simple as a sticker.  Stickers are generally inexpensive and they decorate my otherwise boring spiral notebook.

This may seem a lot of work for two evenings of being in control of my after-supper eating.  But I hope to learn from this and continue to work on this bad habit of excessive eating during the evening hours.

From now on, I am going to plan my snack, based on the food groups I have remaining at the end of the day.  Usually these are fruit, vegetable and milk food groups.  By choosing to eat from one or two of these groups, I put myself in control and I round out the nutrients I need.

I am also going to keep a book and my knitting nearby so when I feel the urge to eat, I will divert my attention with another enjoyable activity.

Alexandra reading, not eating
Alexandra reading, not eating

In my wanderings around the Internet, I found an excellent discussion about eating mindfully in the evening hours at

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow I will be choosing a new short-term goal.

Best always, Alexandra