January 31, 2007

Weight Loss Versus Spiritual Retreats

Many people who want to lose weight will go (or dream about going) to a weight loss retreat for a week or two. These retreats are typically quite pricy and the emphasis is on low calorie meals, physical activities and nutritional counseling.

But another option that is often much cheaper and can be much more successful in the long run is to attend a spiritual retreat instead. I attended a Buddhist retreat several times a few years ago (in my pre-baby days). The objective wasn't to lose weight. At that time I didn't have any issues with my weight. My incentive for going was to work through and let go of some of my hang-ups and deeply ingrained habits and thought-patterns.

It was no holiday. It was a very rigorous schedule of group meditation for a seven day period. We had three meals a day. These meals were extraordinarily healthy and nutritious. I never failed to lose a few pounds on these retreats though I never felt hungry while there. And my physical body felt incredibly invigorated after returning home. Not to mention the mental and emotional breakthroughs that occurred at each retreat. If only I could do it again. My son just turned three so I am fantasizing about starting up a serious meditation schedule again and getting away for one of these retreats later this year.

Just as there are many different levels of weight loss retreats (some go as far as going entirely without food for a whole week, and some are quite indulgent) there are also different degrees of difficulty in spiritual retreats.

I wouldn't recommend anyone who hasn't got some experience with group meditation to the kind of retreat I went to. It would be almost impossible to handle mentally and physically if you have not had some prior practice. But there are many less demanding spiritual retreat options out there. A relaxed and easy-going scheduled yoga retreat would be a more realistic alternative.

The Buddhist sesshin I attended was non-profit and run by Zen monks. It cost only $350 for eight nights stay including meals and shared accommodation (four people to a room). The typical weight loss retreat, in contrast, would cost $3,000 or more.

So for those people who feel that a focus on mental barriers and hang-ups may assist with their weight loss struggles, this is just an idea thrown out there for your 2007 vacation plans.

January 30, 2007

Marathon Training for Extreme Fitness

Steve Bezner is a recent convert to marathon training. He used to make fun of people who ran. Two and a half years ago he weighed 330 pounds. He lost most of his weight by changing his diet and didn't start exercising till he weighed 200 pounds.

At that point he joined a gym for the first time in his life and started walking on their treadmill each morning for about 20 minutes. Once this was too easy he started to increase the intensity and length of his workout.

He started jogging outside (for just 1/2 a mile at the beginning) and began training for a marathon just months later. Today he is a committed runner. The before photo above was taken in August 2004. The after photo was taken a couple of weeks ago at the start of the Houston Marathon.

See his inspirational weight loss story here.

January 29, 2007

Smoking Adds Fat to Your Belly

Smoking cigarettes creates countless health risks and we all know that. But how many people are aware that smoking can change your body shape?

We do know that a lot of women continue to smoke because they think they would gain weight if they stopped. And in reality, most smokers do gain a bit of weight when they quit. The average weight gain in the short term is about five pounds.

What most people don't know however, is that smoking actually changes your body shape. As reported in the ASH fact sheet, the people who smoke, while they may on average be a few pounds thinner than non-smokers, tend to store fat around the waist and upper torso, rather than around the hips. This is because smoking effects the endocrine system and changes the normal hormonal composition and secretion process.

So smokers have been found to have a higher waist-to-hip ratio than non-smokers. A high waist-to-hip ratio is related to lots of negative health implications.

The good news is that this higher waist-to-hip ration need not be permanent. A Swedish study found that women who stopped smoking experienced less upper torso fat deposition than would be expected by their accompanying weight gain.

January 27, 2007

Do Celebrities Lie about their Weight?

Do celebrities lie about their weight? The short answer is a resounding yes. We can't really prove it without forcefully getting them on a weight scale but there is no doubt that many celebrities lie about their weight.

Someone made a comment here about Kirstie Alley where we wondered if she was telling the truth about losing 75 pounds and weighing less than 150 pounds. If Kirstie was five feet tall, this would be believable, but she is somewhere between 5'7 and 5'8. If you see her on the Oprah video here, and have a look at her legs, you too would probably doubt she is telling the truth.

Here's what one reader had to say about Kirstie's weight;
Most of your weight is in your legs, and man, she's still got some of those. It's hard to tell though. Some people can weigh very little and some people a lot; it's not all about size. I have a friend who weighs about the same as I do; she's a size 12, i'm a size 6, go figure and we are both about 145 lbs.

If you really want to crack-up on people who lie about their weight, check out Serina Williams, the tennis player, who claims she weighs about 130 lbs. One tennis commentator actually said... "what when she was 13?" Her sister has it right, Venus claims she weighs about 170 lbs.
So we went and checked it out and indeed it does say on Serena Williams profile at the WTA that her height is 5'9" and her weight is 135 pounds.

This really seems unlikely based on the pictures here. These photos were taken last week at the Australian tennis tournament. My guess would be she does not weigh less than 170 here based on her height and especially as she is so muscular. Muscles weigh four times as much as fat does.

I'd lie about my weight too if I was a celebrity. It's not a big deal except that it sets a very bad example for young women who might think they need to weigh a lot less than 135 pounds in order to look very slim.

For this reason I'm hoping people send in more examples of large discrepancies between celebrity stated weight and their true weight.

January 25, 2007

Fat and Seeking Love

Online dating is incredibly popular these days. And many people are much happier for it. Apparently for every seven couples who get married today, at least one met via online dating. I personally know several couples who met online so I don't doubt these numbers.

There are a lot of people who visit online dating sites who don't know what BBW stands for. Some people, especially men, think it stands for Big Breasted Woman. Other people think it stands for Big Black Woman.

But most people who have spent some time on the online dating sites already know what these terms mean;

BBW - Big Beautiful Women
BHM - Big Handsome Men
FA - BBW Admirers

If you are obese and think that you need to lose weight before you find love - think again. The regular dating sites are teeming with BBW's and BHM's and FA's and the demand is obviously very large because there are now an incredible amount of online dating sites that cater only to BBW's, BHM's and FA's.

Here are just a handful of them, along with their pitches;

Get out there and socialize!! Meet Large & Lovable singles near you. Free access. Browse and search thousands of photo personals of single BBWs and their admirers. Benefit from unlimited access to profiles and enjoy the freedom of anonymous contact. Get priority listing on search results pages.

BBWPersonals Plus
Meet BBW singles now! Detailed BBW personals and photo gallery, live BBW chat and more. Comfortable BBW dating community for Big Beautiful Women, BHM's

Plus Size Hearts
One-page registration makes getting started fast and easy. Upload up to 5 photos (free scanning available). Be online in minutes to start looking for the special someone. Be it a BBW, BHM or a sweetheart, with your FREE membership, you'll met good people and have fun. Romance is what we're all about!

BBW Datefinder
is an award winning, premier site for the large and lovely crowd and their admirers. BBW Datefinder offers top notch customer service, voice mail capability, over 200K members with ads, and absolutely no commercial or pop up ads. Your privacy and security is always top priority at BBW Datefinder.com.

BBW Singles
Big Beautiful Women, Big Handsome Men, Plus-Size Beauties, BBW, SSBBW, Sexy Full-Figured Women, BHM and their admirers can find romance, a soul mate, a best friend, a lover or just have fun chatting. Place your personal ad today

If you're new to online dating there are a few things you should be on the alert for. One is that people don't always tell the truth, and not just about their weight and height. Watch out for lines like this, as they could mean (that) ;

Athletic (Stupid)

Attractive Appealing personality (physically repulsive)

Bubbly (Bipolar)

Down-to-earth (Slob)

Educated (Condescending)

Free spirit (Raring to ravish your friends)

Honest (Brutally insensitive)

Must know how to treat a lady (Platinum cardholders only)

Prince Charming (Charismatic psychopath)

Recently single (Enmeshed in cut-throat child custody battle)

Shy at first (Embarrassingly boisterous after one drink)

Zany (multiple unstable personalities)

See more funny lingo here.

The photo above is by eye of einstein.

January 24, 2007

How to Become a Supermodel

In this one minute video we see an average woman being transformed into a supermodel. What's her secret? A ton of digital retouching and airbrushing.

Note how her neck is slimmed and elongated, her eyes are made much bigger, her eyebrows lifted and her face slimmed.

This ad was created by the Dove Self Esteem Fund to show young women that what they see on TV and billboards is not the true reality. See more examples here and here.

January 23, 2007

Orange Prices Soar: Some Vitamin C Alternatives

A severe frost has destroyed seventy percent of the current crop of fruits and vegetables in California. Prices of oranges and lemons will be very high this year.

If you're wondering how to get enough vitamin C from alternative foods, here are some ideas.

A typical orange provides 116% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.

Red bell peppers are still probably even pricier but for less than half the calories, a cup of red peppers provides 291%. And one cup of steamed broccoli provides 205%.

Other foods which provide well over 100% of your daily needs for Vitamin C include a cup of boiled brussel sprouts (161%), a whole papaya (313%) or one cup of cantaloupe cubes at 112%.

For superman vegetables that have very high vitamin C counts but also pack in the highest amounts of other vitamins and minerals check out kale and swiss chard.

WHFoods has a complete list of the best Vitamin C food sources. The photo above is by Carla216.

January 20, 2007

The Google Cafeteria Diet

One of the many extraordinary perks of working at Google are the free meals. The daily menu choices are astounding. There is no company cafeteria per say. Rather there are eleven 'cafes' for people to choose from. Most of the cafes serve breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.

The purpose of the cafes is to serve the most nutritious and delicious meals possible. Google doesn't appear to spare any expense in meeting this goal. Most of the food is organic and the meals are prepared with gourmet flair.

If a new employee who was used to a fast-food diet started eating all their meals at the Googleplex each day, it's very likely they would lose weight quickly, but even more importantly, they would likely lose any taste for enjoying fast-food ever again.

Here's one day's sample menu from just one of the cafes:


Ahi Tuna & Avocado Poke
Fresh line caught Ahi tuna diced with organic avocados and minced ginger, habanero chilies, cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds, tossed with a fresh dressing of orange juice, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, lime juice, tangerine oil, sambal oeleck and garnished with black and white sesame seeds.

Calypso Rice Salad
Perfectly steamed wild rice with Valencia orange segments, currants, diced red bell peppers, cilantro, green and red onions, mint, coriander and cayenne, tossed with orange juice and extra virgin olive oil.

Tuna Melt Salad
Al dente elbow macaroni tossed with mayonnaise, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and lemon juice, then topped with tuna salad, cheddar cheese and green onions.

Spinach Lentil Dahl
Tropical Shrimp Bisque
Wild Rice & Pork
Sweet Onion with Peas (chilled)

Eggplant, Tomato & Onion Skewers
Organic eggplant, tomatoes and onions, skewered, baked, and topped with cilantro chutney and yogurt sauce.

Stir-fried Cauliflower
Organic cauliflower stir-fried with mustard seeds, turmeric, diced tomatoes and red onions.

Greek Spinach Salad
Organic baby spinach, Greek feta cheese, roasted tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives and toasted pistachio nuts, tossed to order with a dressing of fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, oregano and minced garlic.

Pork Loin Steak
Berkshire Farms pork loin brined in marjoram, paprika, red wine vinegar and brown sugar, then seared to perfection. Served with a roasted red pepper sauce.

Eggplant Ratatouille
Organic eggplant roasted with Roma tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, white onions, bell peppers, garlic, basil, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Organic russet potatoes mashed with buttermilk, cream and butter.

Agua Fresca Mora
Blackberry infused water.

Pollo en Huerto
Free range chicken with garden vegetables: organic zucchini, onions, fresh corn off the cob, tomatoes, green, red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, jalapeños, cilantro, garlic and oregano.

Vegetarian Tamale Casserole
A casserole of organic zucchini, carrots, onions, green and yellow bell peppers, corn off the cob, green peas and diced tomatoes, with chili powder, oregano, cumin and garlic.

Snap Peas
Organic snap peas sautéed with garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

Seared Day Boat Scallops in Green Coconut Curry Sauce
Day Boat scallops seared to perfection and tossed in green curry coconut. Topped with a red bell pepper coulis and daikon sprouts.

Pad Thai Noodles
Pad Thai noodles stir-fried with yellow and red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, cilantro and Thai basil.

Broccoli, Cauliflower & Haricot Verts
Stir-fry of organic broccoli, cauliflower and haricot verts with garlic, ginger and Dave's special brown sauce.

Jasmine Rice
Jasmine-scented rice steamed to perfection.

Roasted Pork Loin
Berkshire Farms pork loin with mozzarella and bell pepper sauce.

Roma & Green Onion
Organic Roma tomatoes, green onions and fontina cream.

Arugula with Dried Apricots
Organic arugula with dried apricots, shaved Parmesan cheese, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar.

Herb Roasted Chicken
Free range chicken legs and thighs roasted to perfection with extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and herb salt.

Creamy Tomato Polenta
A lush blend of polenta, slow roasted tomatoes, cream and butter.

Wild Mushrooms
Organic shiitake, cremini, button and oyster mushrooms sauted in garlic and herb salt.

Capelin Pesto
Toasted pine nuts, basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and herb salt.

Red Velvet Cake with Bright White Frosting
Hazelnut Shortcakes with Plum Compote
Chocolate Coconut Cheesecake
Creamy Lemon Macadamia Nut Cookies
Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

January 19, 2007

Beer Belly Photos

Do you need more incentive to get out there and exercise today? Here's three beer belly pictures via Flickr.

There are many more great photos by people who don't allow republishing, so check them out at Most Interesting Beer Belly photos.

The photos here are by Malingering,Malias and LovingShiva

January 18, 2007

Alcohol Cravings and Weight Loss

For people who are addicted to alcohol and need more than the moderate one drink per day, this can certainly lead to weight gain and make it almost impossible to achieve dieting goals.

If the typical beer or glass of wine is about 150 calories and a person develops a habit of drinking three drinks per day this can theoretically result in gaining 47 pounds each year!

So if you suspect your reason for gaining excess weight is due to an alcohol dependence, what can you do?

Some interesting research findings have been released recently about the kinds of foods you should eat if you want to reduce cravings for alcohol. Nutrition can be a key for beating the bottle.

There is often a close link between depression and alcohol consumption. Many depressed people drink to self-medicate against their depression. And studies have found that omega 3 is helpful for beating depression. Foods high in omega 3 include oily fish (sardines, salmon), flaxseed and walnuts. Folate is also very helpful. Foods high in folate (such as legumes) are recommended for depressed people. Legumes have an incredibly high nutritional value. They also contain more fiber per cup than almost any other kind of food.

Regular exercise has proven to be effective in treating depression.

So if you are trying to lose weight in addition to cutting your alcohol dependency, a little reading on nutritional recommendations may be very helpful.

January 16, 2007

How Jenny McCarthy Lost 60 Pounds

Jenny McCarthy gained a lot of weight when she was pregnant with her only child back in 2002. Soon after she gave birth she needed to lose 60 pounds. She tried some fad diets for a while but this didn't work. She then took the advice of her mom and joined Weight Watchers. It took her just over six months to lose sixty pounds.

Weight Watchers approached her some time ago to be a spokesperson for them. She went ahead and signed a contract last year and now we're seeing the first commercials on TV, as in the video clip below.

McCarthy was born in 1972 and was thirty years old when her baby was born almost five years ago. She divorced her husband before her son was three years old.

McCarthy rose to fame when she became Playboy playmate of the year in 1994. She's been an actress since then. Her celebrity star status shot up a year ago when she started dating Jim Carrey.

Is this the first time Weight Watchers has chosen a Playboy centerfold to be their spokesperson? It's definitely a change of marketing campaigns for them, as they typically feature unknown housewives in their advertisements. It's likely they've noticed the extreme success of the Jenny Craig Kirstie Alley campaign and have decided to try the celebrity endorsement route in their new campaigns.

Update: Whoa... here we have a completely different view of Jenny McCarthy talking about weight loss. A reader found this video clip and she sums it up succinctly;

I wonder if the "sweet mom" in this Weight Watchers commercial is the same Jenny McCarthy that appears in this video calling people "fatso's" and saying sex with a fat person "is like having sex with a butch lesbian."

Given that video, her Weight Watchers commercial loses all credibility. They're trying to make into a wholesome, understand mom who struggles like the common woman, but in reality, she has the compassion of a thumb tack.

January 15, 2007

I'm Fat, You Watch Your Tongue

Skinny people should be a little more sensitive when they complain about their little fat deposits in front of fat people.

Here's what karaokekitty17 has to say about this;

I hate it when really skinny people complain about being fat. I especially love it when they complain right next to me. I often wonder what they think of me when they think of themselves as so fat. I must be like a continent to them! Anyway, I just hate it when they complain. "Oh, I look so fat in this belly shirt." "Oh my God, I could just die, my thighs are huge!" "Did you see my ass? It's, like, so big!" Can't stand it! Skinny chicks (who think they're fat) must die! I really hope as they age, these chicks really do get fat.

A Sure Way to Lose Your Appetite

I wasn't sure whether to talk about the horrible thing I just read, but in the interests of those who want to lose their appetite or want more incentive to eat more vegetarian foods, here we go.

There's an artist who recently served his guests spaghetti with meatballs and then told them that the fat he used to cook it with was his own body fat. He said it was fat that was recently extracted from his liposuction operation.

This story is so extremely gross.

And this extreme repulsed reaction is exactly what this artist is seeking. Marco Evaristti says he now wants to sell the leftover meatballs at $3,000 per can.

I will never be able to look at fatty meat dishes the same way again.

Via Metro News

January 13, 2007

Finding the Time to Exercise

I don't have enough time in the day to exercise regularly. At least that's my excuse. With a toddler around most of the time, and with my part time work and household chores, how am I supposed to find the time to work out?

It's a feeble excuse and I know it. I could probably find that one hour in a day if I was more motivated.

It seems that some of the most motivated people do their workouts while most of us are still sleeping.

Condoleezza Rice is one of these women. She's one of the busiest people in the world. She has a demanding career as Secretary of State, where she often puts in 14 hours a day justifying international killings here and there and everywhere. But she still finds the time to work out daily, almost without exception.

No matter where she is she gets up at 4:30 each morning and does a 40 minute cardio workout, typically on a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Next she does an ab workout. She does this for a total of one hour each day. See a video of her workout here.

If she can find the time, I have no excuse.

January 11, 2007

Tummy Tuck Jeans - Do they Work?

I find my jeans don't look so hot on me as they did just a few years ago. No doubt this would change if I would only get out there and exercise more. But based on my track-record the last couple of years, life might pass me by before that happens.

I recently heard about Tummy Tuck Jeans for the first time. A woman who is fortunate to have a father who owns a clothing business got the idea to make jeans especially for women who have some tummy bulge. She launched Tummy Tuck Jeans just two years ago. It's been phenomenally successful. Their sales were $7 million last year and are expected to be $40 million this year.

The jeans are designed with a special criss-cross front panel in the front and extra stretch in the back. The objective is to slim the lower stomach, contour the hips and lift the butt.

While many women sometimes wear girdles or other 'body shapers' under their clothes, it's difficult to do this with low-rising jeans. So this is in effect an invisible girdle built right into the jeans.

You would think someone would have thought of something like this a long time ago. It's not the minority of women who want to slim the lower stomach and lift the butt. At first I read that their jean invention is patented, but then I came across another article in the New York Times which made it clear that you cannot patent a clothing design. So competitors are rushing in to compete with Tummy Tuck Jeans under different name labels.

You can buy them at several major retailers including Nordstrom's, Macy's, Bloomingdales and Dillards.

The idea is much more appealing to me than an actual tummy tuck but despite reading that these jeans have incredible customer loyalty and word-of-mouth popularity, I haven't found any discussions online by real people raving about them. If any of you happen to have bought some recently, please let us know what you think.

Treadmill Dance Motivation - OK GO

Have you been working out on a treadmill as a New Year's resolution for the last few days? Here's some very fun motivation to get you going faster and longer.

It's a video of the OK GO band singing Here It Goes Again while dancing on six treadmills.

This has been a huge surprise hit on You Tube. It's been viewed over ten million times! Their sudden popularity has completely stunned the band members.

They wanted to do something wacky that would get attention on YouTube but they didn't think it would become this successful in their wildest rock band ego dreams.

The treadmill dance was choreographed by one of the band member's sisters. They had come to her saying they wanted to do something really different. She replied, "Well of course. Treadmills!" They say she is a complete maniac and obviously also a very talented choreographer.

My husband, who turns 50 this year, really likes the music. He was saying the sound reminded him of another band from way back. Then it came to him; this is The Clash remixed. Anyone else feel this way?

This is a super energized and fun video. Even if treadmills are not your chosen route to fitness, you will likely feel inspired to jump around after watching this.

January 08, 2007

Getting Rid of Baby Flab After Age 40

Mariska Hargitay was overjoyed to be pregnant with her first child at the age of 42. She went on to gain 54 pounds during her pregnancy and developed gestational diabetes. Her baby was born weighing almost 11 pounds via c-section six months ago. But now, half a year later, Mariska has already lost all her excess post baby weight. She did this by working out three times a week with a personal trainer, by breastfeeding and by focusing her diet on lots of vegetables, fruits and lean meats.

Here she is on the January issue of Self Magazine.

For women over 40 trying to get pregnant for the first time, see this personal success story.

January 04, 2007

Weight Loss Pills Get Spanked

The FTC has just issued fines to four marketers of weight loss pills. The fines total $25 million and are for making false claims about how effective these pills are for weight loss.

The four pills include Xenadrine EFX, One A Day Weight Smart, CortiSlim and Trim Spa. The pills will continue to be sold but the companies have been fined for making false claims about them and they have to stop that.

People who bought some of these pills in the past may be able to get their money back.

Some of the weight loss pill marketers contract with celebrities to help sell the pills. For example, TrimSpa hired Anna Nicole Smith. The FTC says; "Testimonials from individuals are not a substitute for science. And that's what Americans need to understand."

Here's an excerpt from an earlier speech by an FTC spokesperson;

With an estimated 70 million Americans trying to lose weight, it is not surprising that weight loss is big business. Unfortunately, too many of the weight loss products advertised to consumers are more likely to reduce the bulk in consumers’ wallets than on their waistlines. Products like “Fat Trapper” and “Exercise in a Bottle” promise fast and easy weight loss with claims that you can “eat what you want and never – ever – ever have to diet again.”

But wait, there’s more! One marketer even promised that its product would work faster than a hunger strike! “Even if you eat nothing you won’t slim down as fast,” the ad promised, claiming the product would burn off “more fat than running 98 miles per week.”

Over the past decade, the FTC has brought over 100 cases targeting deceptive weight loss claims like these, for a variety of pills, potions, patches, and lotions.

200 Calories in Pictures

There's a fun page that lists about eighty different foods and shows pictures of what they look like on a plate. The only thing these foods have in common is they have all been limited to 200 calorie portions.

See What does 200 Calories Look Like?

January 03, 2007

Weight Loss Surgery is Scary

There's a young woman who went ahead with a gastric bypass operation seven weeks ago. She is also one of the best writers I've encountered anywhere online.

She has been blogging about her weight loss struggles for over two years.

She made the decision to go ahead with weight loss surgery after much thought. And before she went through with it she had horrible second thoughts. But she went ahead with the operation on November 7th. A few days later she told us how painful it was. However, since November 20th she has not posted at all. Her blog seems to be abandoned and a lot of her readers (including myself) are very worried about her.

Her site is at Hello, I am Fat.

Update January 19th: Relief and good news. She's back and just posted on her blog again. She's lost a lot of weight already, still having a very hard time post-surgery but appears to be recovering and feeling better each day.

January 02, 2007

Losing Weight by Looking Outward

I made a strange New Year's resolution this year. Of course I want to lose weight, but that is a daily mind struggle; I know what I need to do. So I didn't make any specific New Year's resolutions around that this year.

Lately I've been having apocalyptic thoughts about the future of the earth. I really think that due to global warming we may be in danger of living in an almost unbearable environment very soon.

So I need to start making a conscientious effort to reduce my personal impact on the overall deterioration of the Earth's environment.

I want to use our car as little as possible. I want to try walking instead for many of the trips I would normally consider jumping into the car. For longer trips and some family outings, I am going to suggest to my husband that we take the bus for some of these. Although we do very few of them as it is, I'm also going to be less keen to do these longer car outings this year.

I will try to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits. I'll focus more on buying local and organic produce that doesn't require long-distance freight, freezer facilities and lots of processing, chemicals and packaging.

I want to consume as little plastic as possible this year. I don't usually give much thought to the plastic bags I collect in my regular shopping rounds. I use the grocery plastic bags for my garbage bags, and with a toddler in diapers, I find I'm filling up about two plastic bags of garbage per day but it would be a small but significant step if I declined bags for all my small purchases. For example, I went to buy some makeup the other day and the cashier went to put it in a small plastic bag and I just said I didn't need it and put it in my pocket instead. It's such a small step but over the course of the year it must make a bit of an impact.

I want to cut down on plastic in other ways. I want to forego more of the take-out variety of foods that are served in plastic or plasticky containers. I eat very little take-out food as is, but I want to cut this down to almost zero. I do tend to buy take-out coffee in paper cups with plastic lids quite often. I want to cut that down significantly.

I will also try to use up less of the clear plastic bags that I buy my fruits and vegetables in. They should be reused and I will try doing that.

I'm feeling in the mood to reduce my consumption in general.

I've been buying most of my clothes in second hand shops for many years now. In the city where I live we are lucky to have an incredible selection with designer labels galore. There's no need to buy the clothes new, especially as I am forever hopeful I'll be reducing my size a couple of times this year.

As far as my child is concerned, I want to focus on buying only used toys for this year. He's too young to know the difference anyway and by the time he's older maybe he will agree with my sentiment. His third birthday will be in a couple of weeks. We want to get him a nice tricycle. Our city has some great used sporting goods places. There is no need to get him a brand-new one. Am I weird or what? I actually feel almost repulsed when I walk into a place such as Toys 'R Us and see all the plastic and all the chemical goop that is being sold by the ton every day.

I think that if I follow through on most of these ideas (especially the walking bit!) I will lose weight as a side bonus to helping keep the earth's environment habitable for a few more years.

I'd love to hear other ideas people have in this regard.

Happy New Year everyone!