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For the past 10 years, I’ve had a garden.  I usually do raised beds with tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and other vegetables.  I also do some herbs and spices…along with chamomile.

Why do I garden?

It’s certainly not because I’m awesome at it!  In fact, last year, I lost my entire tomato crop to some sort of fungus, which is making me wonder if I want to plant again as the risk of the same fungus affecting this year’s plants is pretty high.

It’s certainly not because it feeds my family – because, truth be told, I’m pretty much the only one who eats the stuff.  My daughter will eat tomatoes and my son love garden carrots.  But I’m the only one who likes the rest of it.

It’s certainly not because I have an abundance of time on my hands during the summer months and I just have to come up with a way to spend it.  Ha!  I wish!

It’s certainly not because it saves me money.  By the time I buy the plants and have my tomato plants attacked by fungus, have my zucchini plants attached by squash bugs…the yield is pretty low overall.  No money saved, really.

I’m in love with the process

I garden because I love the process of gardening.  I love watching things change and grow.  And….at the end of a very long, hot summer I get to have the fruits of my labor on my dinner table.

Cucumber vines attaching themselves to the supports. Nature is so cool!

I garden because it’s something my husband and I do together.  He eats nearly nothing from the garden!  Yet, he’s right beside me picking weeds and making sure we get the tomatoes out of there before it’s too late.  He also reports the first sign of critters, or anything else, that may be attacking my beloved plants.

I garden because my children are watching….they learn where real food comes from and how to grow and harvest it.

What has gardening taught me?

Gardening has taught me PATIENCE for what is possible if enough care and planning is put into something.

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It’s taught me that it takes a long time, and a lot of work, for the final result to be worthy.

I’ve learned there is always next year….if a fungus attacks my tomato plants.  And, that I may need to do some research to find out how to prevent, or deal with, it if it happens again.  (Fingers crossed it doesn’t!!)

I can pretty much count on the fact that I’m going to be quite sick of the garden by mid July.  That the sweaty, sticky mess I become in the back yard most evenings will become something I dread but find oddly satisfying.

Why am I telling you any of this??

Because, like gardening, the weight loss journey is one of love/hate.

There will be times you are motivated and nothing can stop you.  But, there will also be times when a fungus attacks your tomato plants and you have to pull the entire crop.  There will be others who won’t eat vegetables from your garden and you must tend to it by yourself….drawing support from the simple fact that you are doing something great for yourself.

You will put in weeks to months of work for very slow, if any, yield.  Watching the plants slowly sprout and grow daily over the summer months, you’ll wonder what kind of success you’ll have when they start to produce.

There will most certainly be times when you must drag yourself off the couch to go pick weeds, or do some watering.  But, you make yourself…knowing that the end result will be worth it.

Finally, there will be times when you are ready to till it all under and just be done with it.  The effort it takes to maintain, even WHEN producing great fruits and vegetables, can become overwhelming and you just want it to be OVER.  Yet….you persist until the end of the season.

In the end…

In the end, the most important thing to know about gardening is how long it takes to get the results you want.  For example, even if you plant tulip bulbs, you will wait an entire YEAR to see those tulips bloom year after year.  For whatever reason, you are patient and understand the process.

If you grow a vegetable garden, you will wait months for most of your vegetables to produce something that you can actually eat.  Yet, you forge on – you put in the time preparing the soil, watering, weeding, pruning, etc.  You UNDERSTAND there’s a process involved to get the RESULT you want.

If you garden, you KNOW the fruit (the thing you want the most) comes at the END of the work.  You also know that to keep GETTING that fruit, you must continue to take care of that plant.  You don’t just pick tomatoes once and call it done.  Day after day, you do what it takes for that plant to keep producing for you.  You are A-OK putting in the time and effort to get the results what you want….knowing they are NOT immediate….but come after weeks to months.

By this time…..

It’s probably obvious what I’m trying to do here.

Everywhere I look, I try to see parallels between what we do in life and the weight loss journey.  What lessons can we learn?  What skills that we already KNOW, or already DO, can be applied to our efforts to lose weight?

Friends, this is what I try to do – show you that weight loss doesn’t have to be anything that starts from scratch.

I guarantee we all have things within our lives, like gardening, that require many of the exact same skills it takes to be successful at weight loss.  And, remember, that has nothing to do with “you didn’t tell me what to eat.”

It has to do with routines…habits…mindset!

It’s all about how you LOOK at the task at hand.

If you’re ready….

If you’re ready to learn more about what skills you already have that can help you with your weight loss journey – book a call with me.  If I can’t help you, I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction.




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The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s usually found close to the ingredient listing.

Two versions of a nutrition Facts label, the old and new version.

The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to choose healthier foods, right?

Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!

Here’s my four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts table.

Step 1: Serving Size

The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it’s tricky.

All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. So, for example in the label we see above (the one on the right), the serving size is 1 cup. This means when you eat 1 cup of this food, you’ll be eating 7 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein, etc. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.

You may purchase this product and essentially memorize that one serving contains these particular nutrient values. However, if you purchase another brand – that brand may have the serving size be 2 cups. WOAH! If you aren’t careful and don’t notice that EVERYthing has doubled on that label, you may be under the impression that you can eat twice as much of the second brand. NO! Not the case at all.

In Canada, in the next few years (between 2017-2022), serving sizes will be more consistent between similar foods. This will make it easier to compare foods. The new labels will also have more realistic serving sizes to reflect the amount that people eat in one sitting, and not be artificially small. I’ve not heard if this is the case with U.S. labels.

Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco. 

As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.

FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).

Step 2: % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day. 

NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.

The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule. It means most of the population will not be DEFICIENT in this particular nutrient if this DV is met.

You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.

NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.

Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)

Calories are pretty straight forward. Look at the walnuts label, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.

Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat.That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).

Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made/packaged foods, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).

Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.

Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.

Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)

The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional. 

Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.

Conclusion

I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful. While you can take it or leave it when it comes to making food decisions, it’s here to stay. And it will change slightly over the next few years.

One of the best things about reading labels is truly knowing what you are putting in your body. Many food-tracking apps, such as myfitnesspal, have the ability to scan the bar code so this information gets transferred right into your food log! All you have to do is tell it how many servings you ate. It’s pretty nifty.

And don’t forget my general rule for SUGAR on these labels….If it has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving…consider it CANDY! Many health bars, cereals, etc are marketed as “healthy” when, in reality, they are the opposite! So, labels are of tremendous value if you are truly interested in optimizing nutrition for health.

Take a look at a couple labels of processed foods that are marketed as healthy and look at their labels!

My book Weight Loss that Works: Secrets to Restoring Confidence and Reclaiming Your Body is now available in the KINDLE STORE! Woot!

Recipe (walnuts): Delicious and Super-Easy Walnut Snack

Serves 1

8 walnut halves

4 dates, pitted

Instructions

Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Try with pecans instead.

References:

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/changes-modifications-eng.php
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/understanding-food-labels/percent-daily-value.html
http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/regulatory-guidance-directives-reglementaires/daily-values-valeurs-quotidiennes/guide-eng.php#p1