My name is Neale Bacon. I have lost (so far) 200 pounds with no pills, potions, shakes, short cuts or surgery. Join me for tips and tricks I learned on this journey. There may even be a laugh or two along the way.

This very well may be my last blog post. I have been doing this for quite a while now and frankly am a little burned out and discouraged. No matter what I have done I have not been able to increase my followers.

This tells me that either what I write is not of interest or in the bigger picture, because I don’t offer a magic bullet to overnight weight loss, people don’t bother following.

I have shared bits of my own journey as well as tips and ideas that I thought would help others, but as I look around I see the obesity epidemic getting worse (even with people denying it even exists at all).

When I worked in the additions field, one of the first things we were taught is that you can’t help people who don’t want help.

I am up to my ears in excuses I hear from people – it’s too hard, it’s too much work, it takes too long and more, and frankly need to take some time to refocus and me and my journey.

I will leave the blog up for those who want to read past posts. I certainly will not be back until the new year at the earliest.

Thanks to the few of you who have stayed with me, and sorry if you feel I am abandoning you or the ideals I started with. Take care of yourselves.

For possibly the last time – have a healthy and happy day

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Are kids leading the way?

13048445I have noticed something very interesting lately. As many of you know, in real life, I am a family entertainer, specifically a ventriloquist. I perform for many children’s events throughout the year, and this is where I noticed this something interesting.

I have been noticing that at kid’s birthday parties, the days of hot dogs, chips and pop seem to be a thing of the past or almost anyways. I am seeing a trend towards fruit and veggie trays, finger sandwiches and instead of pop – water or juice.

I mentioned to one of the birthday moms one time, “Don’t the kids miss the hot dogs and stuff?” and the answer made perfect sense. “They don’t miss what they’ve never had”

Either the kids or the parents or maybe even both have caught on to a new healthier way of eating. I am seeing it at daycares and preschools too with much healthier snacks.

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Even with the major candy holiday approaching (Halloween) there is a change. Many people are looking at alternatives to candy. Some are giving toys or as we did last year, we gave out these small bottles of water that had glow in the dark labels.

The kids really liked them because they had walked a long ways and a drink was appreciated, though I have gotten flack from the politically correct folks who told me I should not be giving out bottles of water because they end up in the landfill.

Just goes to show that some people are never happy. Oh well.

Could it be that the next generation will skip the curse of the obesity epidemic? So many have said that the generation coming up will live a shorter lifespan than the previous but maybe this is a new hope.

Why is this a big thing? I think it is a big thing because the earlier children catch on to healthy habits, the better.

Simply put, the need to ensure kids’ health is one of the most important obligations of parents. In today’s world where many adults tend to live with unhealthy and inactive lifestyle, it is crucial to teach your kids the essentials of health while they are still young or better yet, lead by example.

While you can still guide them, you need to help them understand the different aspects of their health. In doing this, you do not have to sound as if you are giving a sermon or a lecture. Through your nurturing and care along with their other daily activities, you can ensure that your kids have healthy and balanced lifestyle. And this is why starting with the basics and maintaining some basic aspects will ensure you raise a healthy kid!

Developing the Right Habits

The habits that kids would develop will surely be carried on through their adult years. While they are still young, it is every parent’s duty to help them develop the right habits. Along with character development, you should also take into consideration the daily habits of your kids. For instance, the foods that they eat, their physical activities, their relationship with other people and even their perceptions on things and the environment.

Kids do not have ample knowledge about the world. Most of the time, they get easily enticed with foods or even with activities they think are fun and enjoyable without taking into consideration the negative effects. The media often pushes unhealthy food choices at our children, especially when it come to fast food places. To their credit, some of them have tried to offer healthier choices in kids meals, offering milk for example, instead of pop.

They still have a ways to go because some offer a health item like sliced apples, then offer caramel to dip them in.

In order to help them, you need to instruct your kids in such a way that they grow to become individuals who are responsible, health conscious and mature.

Healthy Diet

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Many parents if not all will encounter problems when it comes to feeding their children. After all, even adults are having a hard time eating a healthy diet for the main reason that by doing so, they have to eat nutritious yet tasteless meals. The appetite of kids can be highly sensitive. Young children would often be easily enticed to eat foods that contain too much oil like fried chicken, French fries, etc. Sometimes kids just cannot refuse to eat chocolates, candies and other products that contain too much sugar. There is really nothing wrong with this, but everything that is too much can also be dangerous. As a parent, you need to monitor the foods that your kids eat. There are ways for you to provide creative meals that are both delicious and nutritious.

 Don’t Forget Physical Activities

Apart from their daily eating habits, kids also need to exercise. Considering their age, you cannot compel them to exercise if they do not want to do so. In guise of sports or other activities that involve playing with other kids, you can ensure that your kids if physically active. Not only does he/she enjoy the company of other kids, your child also gets the chance to exercise without him/her knowing it.

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Start taking note of how your kids are going in each of these three areas and start making improvements where you need to. As always, I am here to support you and your family on your journey to health.

Here are some Healthy Snack Tips for Kids

I shared these (and a few more) on my Instagram account for my performing but seemed to be worth sharing here as they fit well with today’s topic.

These are in a slide show. There are 6 that will play through.

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Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!

Time for some real honesty

I am discouraged. Not by my weight loss journey as it is continuing and things are good. Why am I discouraged then?

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Just recently I was awarded a very nice honour. For the second time I have been included on a list of inspirational blogs.

That should be encouraging right? Well, it got me thinking about how many peoiple I am reaching and helping/

Apparently I have a lot of drive by’s. In other words, I post to social media that my latest blog is up. People drop by I assume to read. I get the occasional like on the social media platforms, but I see very few signing up to follow this blog. In fact, I believe my total followers is less than 100.

anyone out there

This is making me wonder if it worth continuing this blog. It was the same thing that made me give up on being a weight loss coach.

Either no one cared or no one wanted to put in the work needed, but were more than willing to tap me for free information. Hey – I said I was going to be honest.

So this will be a shorter blog than normal but I want my readers or my followers to let me know if it is worth continuing. Does it help you? Is there topics you would like me to cover?

Would you recommend this blog to others? You can comment here or email me at gethealthywithbacon@shaw.ca

I hope this didn’t come off as a pity party but I am just looking for your honest feedback.

In the meantime, I still wish you a happy and healthy day.

Super Healthy Snacking!

Are You a Super Snacker?

SuperSnackerNo I don’t mean THAT kind of super snacker. Snacks in and of themselves are not bad. As my readers know, I don’t believe in the bad food label. There are healthier choices and less healthy choices. This guy has definitely made some unhealthy choices.  I want to look at a few healthy snack ideas for you to consider when the cravings come calling.

What kind of snacker are you?

I find snackers fall in 2 groups, sweet and savoury. That is – those who like chocolate, candy, ice cream etc. Those are the sweets people. I am in the second group – the savoury. We prefer chips, nuts or almost anything salty and crunchy.

Super-Power Snacks

Imagine you can choose between two snacks. They can be crunchy or sweet but both are tasty. One of them will make you stronger, happier and fuel your brain power. The other will make you weaker, slower and more reduce your immunity.

Which Snack Would You Choose?

Store-bought and packaged snacks, chips, crisps, cookies and candy are snacks that sap your power despite our thinking they boost energy with a “sugar high”. It can be hard not to choose them. They are fun, and hit the taste sensors! But they are often full of sugar and chemicals that cause havoc in your body and destroy your health.

The good news is that snacks can be fun and tasty too while still being healthy. Even better, they are full of vitamins and other great things you need for a strong body and mind that ages gracefully.

Fun Fruit

Fruit is the ideal snack. Firstly, it tastes great! Also, there are so many different fruits to choose from: Apples, grapes, cantaloupe, raspberries… There are even fruits you’ve probably never heard of or tried, like star fruit, dragon fruit and jack fruit.

star-fruitThis is star fruit. It is a bit tart and very juicy.

 

 

And this is dragon fruit. It’s flesh is kind of like a really big kiwi.dragonfruit

There is one you may have seen in supermarkets that looks like a coconut on steroids  durianwith all kinds of pointy bumps.This is called durian and is for the adventurous only. It looks and smells and kind of tasty like smelly feet. Kind of like the Limburger cheese of fruit.

When you eat fruit for a snack, you can count on it giving you energy. This is because fruit is made of natural sugars. Natural sugar isn’t like the chemically laden bad sugar that can give you cavities. Fruit’s sugar is like nature’s energy reserve created specifically for your body.

Fruit is also full of vitamins such as:

  • Vitamin C (boosts your immunity)
  • Vitamin A (increases eyesight and skin health)

If you aren’t crazy about the fruit you’ve tasted so far, head to the farmers market and try some new fruit that is in season, or you can buy frozen fruit which is almost as good.

How is that possible? Well fruit that is picked to be frozen is picked when it is fully ripe and has had a chance to gather all the nutrients. Fruit picked that has to be shipped 100’s of miles is picked before it is ripe and does not have all it’s nutrients. It doesn’t ripen on that journey, it just changes colour.

One of my favourite snacks is pairing fruit with a little cheese.

Victory Veggies

jicamaVeggies can be hard to love because on their own they can seem bland and tasteless. But did you know that there are more than 400 different kinds of vegetables? Surely you can find a handful you like in all of those!

The veggie on the left is one of my absolute favourites. It is Jicama (pronounced HICK-a-ma) It tastes very much like peas or peapods and is really sweet and juicy.

Veggies are the goldmine for nutrition and make for some pretty delicious snacks.

Here are a couple of good things veggies have plenty of.

  • Protein is what your body is made of—your muscles and your hair. You need it to grow. And you can get it by eating veggies, like beans and broccoli.
  • Fiber keeps everything inside your digestion in check and your body working like it should. It also helps you to feel full. Veggies are chock full of it.

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This doesn’t have to be complicated

We tend to gravitate to what’s easiest. Most fruit and veggies are just pick up, quick wash, and eat. It just takes a few minutes to put together a really healthy snack.

Supermarkets sell baby carrots in bags or even in snack packs, though those are usually combined with high fat dips. Don’t like the baby carrots? Cut up carrots and celery. Celery also goes great with a little nut butter.

sweet-potato-friesDid you know you can make fries with sweet potato?

Here’s a recipe you might want to try.

Sweet Potato Chips

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato (yam)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or other spices if you are watching your salt intake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Wash the sweet potato slice it as thinly as possible, or cut into french fry type pieces. Try to keep all your slices the same thickness so they’ll bake evenly. Soak them in water for about 10 minutes.

Pat your slices dry and put them in a bowl with the olive oil. Toss them with a fork until they’re coated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put a cooling rack on top of it. Lay your sweet potato slices on the cooling rack and sprinkle them with salt. Put the whole tray in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes to an hour until the chips curl up a bit and just turn brown a little. Enjoy! 

So, the next time you need a snack, remember to reach for something that doesn’t come from a package and see how you feel after eating it!

Remember, if it comes from a plant, eat it. If it made in a plant, don’t.

Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!

 

Landmines in your Mind

cheat-days (1)I have talked about this on different occasions, but it bears repeating. We are often our own worst enemies, particularly by how we talk to ourselves. The negative messages we feed ourselves can slow down and even stop our weight loss journey and can’t stop us from reaching other goals as well.

One of the most dangerous seems like an innocent phrase. It’s Cheat Day or a Cheat Meal. You see, the word cheat implies guilt. If you cheat at something, you don’t usually feel good about it. When we apply this to our weight loss or healthy eating plan, it can totally derail us.

Try this – It’s Treat Day or a Treat Meal. What’s the difference? A treat is something you have now and then. Maybe you earned it, maybe you just feel like it but you have to acknowledge it without adding a layer of guilt.

Remember the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy and on point 80% of the time and you can have the 20% to be more forgiving with, and that’s where treats can still fit in.

The-only-person-you-need-to-be-better-than-is-the-person-you-were-yesterday_1079x1068The next biggie is comparing. I am just as guilty as any of you on this one. I go to the gym and I see guys who look like they could bench press a Buick and I think “I will never be like that guy.”

I mean first of all, I am 58. He is in his 20’s. He’s been doing this a lot longer than me. I will never be there.

Well maybe not, but I am slowly but steadily moving towards my goal. I am around 200 pounds lighter than I used to be. I am that guy that would fake PMS to get out of gym class, and now I like going to the gym. If that is not an improvement on my old self, then I don’t know what is.

I dont have time to exerciseHave you ever said this one? “I don’t have the time.” Really? You have the same 24 hours as the rest of us. How much of that 24 hours do you spend in non-productive time like scrolling Facebook or Twitter or watching The Dancing Bachelorette or whatever? If you just took ONE of those hours, you have time to get in some exercise. It could be going to the gym, but it could be going for a walk, playing with the grandkids, gardening or other things that get you moving.

Even the word DIET can be a landmine. “I can’t have that. I’m on a diet” “I don’t want tono diet  go to that party because I’m on a diet.” Richard Simmons once said “Diet’s don’t work. You go on a diet to lose X number of pounds and as soon as you do, you go back to your old eating habits and the weight comes back.”

 

You have to change out the word diet for eating plan or for my healthy eating plan. You see, again going back to the 80/20 idea, you can eat anything you want, but what I have found is once I discovered how long it takes to work off that junk food, I just don’t WANT to have it (most of the time).

Instead of criticizing yourself with negative words, start to encourage and empower yourself by switching from a negative to a supportive mindset. Be your own cheerleader. Negative thoughts and words will hold you back in life and will make it difficult to reach your goals. Only think supportive thoughts and cheer yourself up, you don´t need others for this!

Your thoughts not only affect your mood but also affect your health and overall wellbeing. If you only focus on what´s not good in your life or what could go wrong, you most likely miss out on some amazing and positive things happening around you while attracting even more negativity and worries into your life.

Your thoughts are powerful – more powerful than you may think.

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Until next time, have a healthy and happy and positive day!

Actually, I am talking about Sugar by Any Other Name

sugarAs a diabetic and someone on a weight loss journey, I am a label reader. One thing I discovered was the many names sugar travels under.

You know by now that sugar is something you can always do with less of. So you’re checking the ingredient labels on your favorite packaged foods. That’s smart. But beware; ingredient lists can be far from forthcoming with the actual ingredient.

Just because SUGAR isn’t at the top of the list—and it likely won’t be—doesn’t mean whatever food or beverage you’re perusing isn’t packed with it.

Sugar’s Many Shapes

Sugar comes in many different forms, and in many different levels of unhealthy. You may be surprised to find huge amounts of it in foods specifically labeled as “healthy” or “low fat” or “sugar free” like yogurt or energy bars.

You will find forms of sugar listed by up to 61 different names on various packages and labels. YES 61!

Sometimes, it will be listed by three of its names as the fifth, sixth and seventh ingredients. Don’t let this throw you off. Combined, those slightly different forms of sugar may outweigh all of the ingredients listed before it.

Depending on your country, most manufacturers may not be required to specify how much of the sugar contained in a given item is naturally-occurring (such as in fruit) and how much is added. The less added sugar you are consuming, the better a product is for your body.

By being aware of sugar’s most common forms and names, you will be much better armed at working out the good from the bad.

Following are some of sugar’s aliases, complete with distinguishing characteristics.

  • Sugar, Sucrose, Cane Sugar, Cane Juice Crystals, Beet Sugar

This is basically plain white sugar, also called table sugar. White sugar is a product of sugar cane or sugar beets. In its original, or “raw,” state, it is less toxic and better able to be used by your body. But most white sugar has been genetically modified, and is linked to a wide range of auto immune diseases and health conditions.

  • High-fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Sugar, Corn Sweetener, Glucose-fructose

These pseudonyms of sugar are even worse for you. To produce high-fructose corn syrup, the sugar molecule found in corn is broken down into its separate parts, glucose and fructose.HFCSblog

Absorbing fructose like this causes obesity, blood sugar problems, and promotes diabetes, cancer and heart disease to name only a few.

  • Brown Sugar, Confectioners’ Sugar, Glucose Solids

These are also all forms of processed sugar. Brown sugar also contains molasses. Confectioners’ Sugar contains corn starch.

  • Agave Nectar, Xylitol

Although these are often marketed as healthy alternatives to regular sugar, there is some controversy about these two. Agave nectar, like corn syrup, is almost entirely made of fructose which has shown itself to be the most dangerous part of sugar.

Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol, often promoted as a sweet sugar-substitute. However, it is difficult for your body to digest, causing unpleasant problems like gas, and it’s often highly processed, making it unnatural and toxic long term.

Sugar’s Many Substitutes

Processed sugar, in all of its forms, provides absolutely nothing good for you, and can even be detrimental to your health. It is basically empty calories with a whole range of unwanted side effects.

The following natural sweeteners on the other hand, will satisfy your sweet tooth and your body’s needs. It’s important to remember though, that sugar should only be consumed in moderation. Your body only needs and responds to very small amounts of even the most natural of sugars.

  • Honey

Honeycombs with spoonHoney is not only satisfyingly sweet and completely natural (especially if it’s labeled “raw”), it’s even good for you in small amounts. It contains amino acids, electrolytes, antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds.

1 to 2 tablespoons of honey per day is a good amount. It works well for sweeting tea and oatmeal as well as baked goods, although it may take some trial and error to get amounts right.

  • Maple Syrup

Maple syrup also works well for general sweetening, baking, making granola bars, etc. It does have a strong, though pleasant, flavor, which may limit what you choose to use it in.

  • Stevia

Stevia is a sweetener extracted from the leaves of a flowering plant, meaning it is not “sugar” at all and contains no calories. Because of this fact, it is an especially good choice for people struggling with blood sugar or weight issues.

The original stevia extract was somewhat disliked because a bitter, licorice-like after-taste, but that has been dealt with in later brands like SweetLeaf and Truvia.

Remember that with Stevia, a little goes a long way.

  • Coconut Sugar or Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut sugar is an easy substitute for sugar, as you can use it cup for cup; that is a cup of regular sugar can be replaced with a cup of coconut sugar but I usually use only half of the required amount in a recipe.

Its low glycemic level means it is not nearly as likely as white sugar to cause sugar highs and lows, and coconut sugar is packed with healthy minerals.

  • Dried Fruit, Fruit Jams, Pineapple Juice and Banana Puree

Dried fruits like dates, raisins and cranberries are great sweetener choices for protein bars, pies and desserts. Not only are they completely natural and tasty, they provide important dietary elements like fiber, vitamins and minerals.

strawberry jamReal fruit jams, with no added sugar, will add flavor as well as sweetness to any spread. Pineapple juice is often used as an additional sweetener in all-fruit jams, and can also be used on its own with practice.

Bananas are a naturally sweet fruit, and one may be all you need to sweeten up a fruit smoothie.

Processed sugar and manufacturers who fill their goods with it, can be tricky.

Just remember to give ingredient labels a double check, and don’t let sugar sneak into your diet under unsuspectingly.

Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!

 

References:

www.sugarscience.org

www.webmd.com

stress-2379631_640Stress sucks! That’s something we all know. It can cause acne, hair loss, weight gain, weight loss and a host of other health problems. Put simply, it can make you feel crazy and  overwhelmed at EVERYTHING! But, there is a way to combat stress.

Routines and organization is the best way to deal with stress throughout the day. What better time to start with a routine, then first thing in the morning! Setting the tone for the day starts the minute you open your eyes. If you aren’t careful, stress can rear it’s ugly little face into your sights before you can do anything about it.

So just how do you combat stress first thing in the morning? Well. I’ll tell you!

Here are my top tips to get you started in creating your own morning routine to help alleviate stress.

Stop Hitting Snooze

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If you’re one of those people that keep hitting the snooze button in an attempt to get more sleep, you’re probably not going to like what you’re about to read. When you press that snooze button over and over again, you are causing yourself to have less time to prepare for the day. That alone can cause some stress. I am fortunate in that I very seldom, if ever, have to set an alarm for morning unless I am up super early for a flight or something. If you need five or six alarms timed to go off 15 minutes apart, try setting them a little earlier than when you actually need to wake up. This will allow you to be able to hit that snooze button (once or twice – not 10!) and still get up on time. Having to rush in the morning is a breeding ground for high stress levels throughout the day. That snooze button is just not worth it.

Don’t Constantly Check Your Phone

phone-1209230_640Constantly checking your phone, whether its social media or emails, can cause those stress levels to heighten. Checking your phone right after waking up, and in some cases before you even get out of bed, overloads your brain causing stress by trying to wake up faster. Try not checking your phone until you’re up and having a healthy breakfast. It will allow your mind the time it needs to wake up on its own and do it calmly.

 Breathe

We often forget, but good quality breathing is so important. Learning to calm yourself girl-2176513_640through breathing exercises will help fight away the stress that hits in the form of panic attacks and anxiety attacks or plain old stress. Take in deep breaths while counting to five and then exhale counting to five. Doing this helps to gain control of the situation which alleviates the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed by everything going on around you. Doing this in the morning before you even get out of bed is a great way to prepare your mind for all the tasks you need to tackle.

 Repeat An Affirmation

I am not a big new age or touchee feelee kind of person, but sometimes saying kind things to yourself about yourself will definitely make you happy and keep those pesky stress levels at bay. We also tend to be our own harshest critics, so it helps quiet your inner critic. It can be anything that makes you feel positive like “I am grateful for my life”, “I begin my life today”, “I am kind”, or “I am beautiful”. It really just depends on you and what you need/want to hear. The moment you start to feel like you’re being flooded with too much and become overwhelmed, take a breath and repeat your affirmation. This will help calm you and also help keep you positive and motivated to get through the day.

 Eat A Good Breakfast

cereal-898073_640You heard me say this before but it’s a fact that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but there is science and plenty of studies that can prove it. In fact, A British study taken in 2012 found that “people who ate breakfast reported feeling 89% less anxious in challenging situations later that day, and were able to deal with dilemmas 7% faster than on days they skipped their A.M. meal” (“12 Morning Tricks To Set Yourself Up For A Much Less Stressful Day”). So, make sure you not only eat breakfast, but that you eat a HEALTHY breakfast. A healthy breakfast does not mean grabbing a coffee and a breakfast sandwich as you rush to work. Having a healthy breakfast and taking the time to enjoy it will increase your brain function and reaction and allow you to focus more on the tasks you need to tackle each day.

 Make A List for Productivity

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Early on in the morning, try to focus on all your high-concentration tasks. This includes things like writing reports, seeing patients, managing finances or anything else that might require more focus and/or creativity. The best way to put those things in order of how much concentration they require is to make a list. After you complete one of the tasks, cross it off. Doing this will alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed and flooded with tasks throughout your day.

This also applies if you are a stay home mom or dad. Having a list will still help you get more done. Looking back at a completed checklist will make you feel like you actually accomplished something today, and that can help reduce stress in itself.

So, there you have it.

If you are fighting stress each day or even every once in a while, you can decrease the amount of stress you feel just by sticking to a good healthy and quality morning routine.

Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!