Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Over the last couple of months, I've been trying to change some of my bad dietary and exercise habits. I've been doing it largely because it makes sense, but mostly because I need to lose about 50 lbs. I'm not going whole hog here and quitting everything bad cold turkey and taking up everything good overnight. That never makes sense and rarely, if ever, sticks. I've started with simple and obvious things and am working my way up the food and exercise chain.

For example, about two months ago, I gave up Dr. Pepper. Decided I no longer needed the caffeine, which was affecting my sleep. Before I gave it up, though, I was consuming 4 - 8 cans per day. I started drinking more water--up to 64 oz. a day--and, if I wanted a soda, I went with something like Orange Crush or Squirt. I've also limited myself to one can or less per day. In the last eight weeks, I've had maybe 24 cans of soda total. The result? I've lost 10 lbs just by eliminating unnecessary calories.

Another thing I've started doing is walking more. I've started combining it with my photography--something I really enjoy doing, with my walking--something I really need to be doing. The result has been an increase in stamina, less aches and pains, and some damn cool pictures. The other day, I walked from National Airport to Memorial Bridge and back. That's a good four miles!

Finally, I've been trying to reduce or even eliminate salt from my diet. I love salty foods. A lot. But I know over time they're going to do more harm than good. I've found several products that are low sodium or no salt and frankly, they're just as tasty, if not tastier, than the overly salted versions.

Among the low/no-salt products I've switched to, the best no-salt product ever is a lovely little item called True Lemon. Did you know that lemon is a good substitute for salt? It stimulates the taste buds in a manner similar to salt without deadening the flavors of foods and it's better for you. True Lemon is crystallized lemon concentrate that comes in a shaker bottle. You can find it in the spice aisle. A sprinkle of this stuff in lieu of salt and you're good to go. It also comes in True Lime and True Orange. If you're trying to cut back on salt or looking for a good salt substitute, check this stuff out. It's really good!

And now, back to our regular programming already in progress...


lacochran said...

Congratulations on the changes you've made and the success you've had. I love lemon in/on almost everything. We always have fresh lemons and limes in the house and use them liberally!

Gilahi said...

My brother was a huge Pepsi drinker. He cut them out of his life and claims that he lost about 30 pounds with no other change in his routine.

By the way, juice of half a lemon, teaspoon of sugar, shot of gin, shake it up and pour it over ice. Top with seltzer. Terrific Tom Collins. I really like lemon too. :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice ideas!

- Phoebe

Di said...

Good on ya, Tewkesy! I have such a hard time picturing you sans Dr Pepper...what a change that is!

Good ideas. I would like to try those and lose 10 lbs. Of course, I have never been a drinker of sugary drinks, mostly varieties of sparkling water and a few Cola Lights here and there. Sigh.

Salt is probably an issue for me, too -- and I have zero idea what to do about it here. Everything here is VERY salty, like really salty. It seems to be their taste to have it that way. But sometimes my feet, hands and face get all puffy and I know that's why. Alas.

I walk quite a bit, I could probably do more. I should probably eat more breakfast and less dinner. That might be something to try.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Lacochran: Thanks! Lemon and lime are the best. Fresh is best, definitely.

Gilahi: I'm not surprised by your brother's claims. Americans consume an average of 600 12 oz. bottles of soda per year! And consumption of soda is now being linked to increased incidence of childhood obesity and a rise in type II diabetes in children, increased gastrointestinal problems in adults and children, decreases in bone density in children, disintegration of teeth, and a host of other health problems. Not to mention, the amount of sugar and sodium consumed is astronomical! As one friend said to me, "Soda is empty calories. You get nothing for it, so why bother?"

Your drink sounds marvelous!

Pheebs: Thanks! I'm trying.

Di: Me, sans Dr. Pepper is HUGE! I have nothing to drink now when Mr. Swizzies asks me to drink with him! :-) I didn't realize the Swiss were so into salt in their food! I thought they'd be more like the Austrians: low salt, all-natural. Salt is, of course, a great preservative and does enhance the flavor of foods, but not enough, IMHO, to justify its voluminous infusion in everything.

Cele said...

Way to go girl. I am proud of you, it's not easy making such changes, but now is the right age to do so.

I am going to have to check out your True Lemon, I perfer lemon wedges with salads when I go out instead of dressing - a habit when I picked up body building. The lemon habit stayed, the great gluts and hammies not so much.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cele: Ironically, sometimes the only thing I like on salad is a sprinkle of salt, no dressing. I suppose now I could substitute lemon.

As for overall fitness and physique, I should have never given up playing tennis and exercising years ago while I was still young, nimble, and energetic.

ME said...

Good for you, Tewkesy! I keep encouraging Mike to give up Diet Coke. I thought that living somewhere with palatable tap water would help, but I found 3 new bottles in the pantry after he went shopping. :(

Balsamic vinegar is good on salads, too. For a sweet treat, I'll cut up strawberries and let them macerate in balsamic vinegar. Mmmmm.

Adriana Velez said...

I applaud your efforts!

Just wondering, why not just lemon juice?

By the way, I loved this article:

Also, I'm reading a book called "Fat, It's Not What You Think" -- fascinating! So is "Real Food" -- both go a long way in debunking what we've been taught about fats in foods. They're both kinda feel-good books, I think.

Adriana Velez said...

Here's an interesting post on salt:


j.m. tewkesbury said...

ME: Sometimes balsamic straight up is a bit too acidic for me, but you make an excellent point about adding fruit to it. I should start doing that.

As for the soda thing, I have the same challenge with Bee. She drinks 6-8 cans of Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper a day. I can't tell you the volume of soda we go through in this house. It's insane. I'm trying to get her to quit for the sake of her acid reflux (I can't imagine carbonation is good for that), but no good. :-(

Adriana: My first preference is fresh lemon or lime and when I have them around, it's what I use. I grabbed True Lemon, because it's a convenient substitute.

Interesting articles. Thanks for passing them along! I'm reading a book called Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat. I started it a year ago and never finished it, but I've picked up again recently. I'll add your two books to the TBR pile, too!

ME said...

When I try to get Mike to drink water instead, he insists that the first/main ingredient in Diet Coke IS water. Hence, there's no need for him to drink plain water.

I've never heard a health care professional, dietician or nutritionist say, "Drink all the diet soda you want; there's no harm in it." I've always heard the opposite.

But Stubborn Man insists there's nothing wrong with his habit and that as a scientist, he doesn't see any causal links between poor health/weight gain and soda consumption in the literature. I wonder how much extra poundage he'd drop if he gave it up for a couple of months.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

ME: Bee says something similar, but I still think the carbonation, the sodium, and the caffeine are just as bad as the sugar. That said, though, she also drinks a fair amount of water, so I can't complain too loudly. As for the mister in your house, he is a stubborn cuss, isn't he?!

ME said...

Gawd, yes.