Sunday, March 27, 2011

Know This Woman

This is Jan. Isn't she beautiful?! She has the most self-discipline and focus of anyone I have ever met. I have known her for a long time, nearly 46 years to be exact ... she's my mom!

Jan/Mom is always enthusiastic about sharing her well-earned tips for diet and healthy living. She lost a good amount of weight many years ago, and defied the odds by keeping it off FOR FORTY YEARS. I know she has been a motivating influence for many women, and I want you to have the chance to learn from her too.

The photo above was taken last week in her lovely, cheery living room ... her decorating style is as darling as she is. Come and sit down with us. You can have the cozy plaid chair with matching ottoman ... I'll ask the questions, Jan/Mom will answer, and you can listen in!

Question: Tell me about your one and only "real diet".

Answer: Well, in 1972 I moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles with you and Dad. I was 25 pounds overweight and quickly realized that I wasn't going to be happy living in sunny California while being afraid to wear a bathing suit! I like to do things fast, so I made up my mind that I was going to get those pounds off, and once that mental decision was made, I did it quickly.

The first thing I did was get rid of all the baking supplies in my kitchen (brown sugar, chocolate chips, etc.) because I had gotten into a habit of baking pies and brownies too often. You and Dad would leave for the day, then I would eat what was left! I even temporarily got rid of my cookie sheets and pie plates, because I wanted to do what I could to remove all temptation from my kitchen.

I have always loved sweets, though, so I allowed myself a small sweet roll in the morning at breakfast, and I looked forward to those! The rest of the day, I cut my portions in half. I would eat half a small sandwich and a few apple slices for lunch, and for dinner I would make our regular dinners, but just enough for two people. I would have a few bites, a very small dinner, then not go back into the kitchen the rest of the night. There were no leftovers to tempt me to eat more.

Q: The amazing thing about you, Mom, is that you have kept those pounds off for nearly 40 years. What has been your motivation to do that?

A: (laughs) Vanity and health, in that order! (Oh, don't put that! But I guess it really is true!) I have always loved clothes and felt that I looked so much better in them when I was thin. Also, my mother was a nurse and taught me much about the importance of a healthy body, and that has been a huge motivating influence over the years. I try to do EVERYTHING I can to be my healthiest self.

Q: How would you describe your current, day-to-day diet?

A: Well, I live alone, so I now have total control over what I prepare and eat. My favorite dinner is a bowl of soup and a piece of artisan bread with butter. I try to eat tuna once a week, and salmon every other week. I eat a salad and fresh fruit daily. My morning breakfasts always include a bowl of cereal (a combination of Total, Shredded Wheat or Go Lean) with a small sliced banana and frozen blueberries. If I don't have any of these parts of my breakfast cereal, I will drive to go get them! I love my cereal and fruit in the morning. If I'm especially hungry, I'll add a piece of toast or a biscuit. I eat a later lunch so that I won't be as hungry for dinner, and lunch is usually a half-sandwich, fresh vegetable sticks or apple slices, and a few potato chips.

Sweets are a battle for me every day! I try to have quick substitutes for a dessert on hand: a marshmallow or two, a tiny taste of brown sugar, or a small piece of fruit when I really want something sweet. I WILL have a goodie when I'm out at a meeting or party, though, but I try to have just one! I just don't believe in bringing them into my house. Now I'm not perfect at this, but it's something I try to do most of the time.

Q: Do you have any other "tricks" or methods for staying so healthy and thin?

A: Well, I like to eat my meals on a salad plate. There is less room to fill up with food! Also, I like the feeling of going to bed a little hungry. Especially if I know I've gained a couple of pounds, I will skip dinner for two or three nights, to get back to where I like my weight to be. I have learned to like the feeling of being a little hungry at bedtime!

Lots of people overeat when they go out. I guess they feel like that is the experience, the eating. I trained my brain to think of eating out as enjoying sampling new foods and being with people I liked. I always have a mental plan before I go to a restaurant! I will usually choose salad or fish. The fun of going out is going out, not coming home stuffed!

I don't keep cream or chocolate or much sugar in my house. If it's there, I will eat it! I love to enjoy a special goodie when I'm out, but then again, just a small portion.

Q: Tell us about the importance of exercise in your daily routine.

A: I have done yoga daily since the 1970s. I love the way it makes me feel! It gives me an overall good feeling, and I'm much more limber than I would be without it. I live in a pretty neighborhood, so I try to take a good walk each day, too. I go up and down a hill several times. Also, I lift my little 5-pound hand weights while I watch TV.

Q: What advice would you give to women like me who are trying to make positive health changes in their lives?

A: I would tell them to do a lot of mental thought and research as they are starting out. You have to make that connection in your mind ... that's where the first change needs to be. You need to decide that you are going to lose the weight no matter what the cost! There is great power in keeping your kitchen free of temptations: if it's not there, you won't eat it! Have good substitutes on hand for times of weakness. You'll think about this a lot at first, and that is okay ... sometimes every hour or even minute! There is a lot of mental energy that goes into changing habits. But remember, you have control over your thoughts! You CAN tell your body what to do!

Your body is going to scream out for a while, "I want what I want!!" Losing weight or changing any physical habit is like going to war! You have to kill that other self that is telling you to do things that you know aren't good for you. Put on your armour! You are stronger than you think!!

Isn't this some great advice? And given from a woman who "practices what she preaches"! It has taken me many years to really appreciate the goldmine of wisdom my own mother is. You probably noticed several common threads of "Mom's Wisdom" that I have incorporated into my health plan ... I didn't realize how much of my own guidelines actually came from her until this little interview!

Tell me, what have you learned from YOUR MOTHER that has helped you live a healthier life??


  1. Well, let me tell you. Since I'm most focused on my diet right now, I'll list some ways my mom has ingrained the right food habits into me.
    My mother has taught me by example that food planning and preparation are fun! She is always quick to point out the beautiful colors in fruits and vegetables, and displays those colors proudly in the middle of the kitchen table. Mom has found successful ways to make healthy food both tasty and appetizing. My dad has always said that eating at home is much better than eating at a restaurant. I never knew how true that was until I left home. Now I see myself implementing my mom's habit of sitting down as a family to a homecooked meal each night, a meal that you can bet did not come from a box or a mix. My mom cooks REAL food. And now I do too!