Living Lite

A Simple & Proven Method for Becoming Happier

February 25, 2019

Can you live a happier life, with a heightened sense of well-being? Yes! And science proves it. Start with this simple exercise.

You can change from being a pessimistic person to an optimistic person, says Martin Seligman, professor of positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. You can become happier, more likely to achieve your life's goals.

The Dalai Lama is well-known for his joyfulness, despite being banished from his own country (Photo by: Wikipedia.org) The Dalai Lama is well-known for his joyfulness, despite being banished from his own country

Decades of studies have found being more positive improves your feelings of well-being, your chances for success in life - personally and professionally, and even increases longevity. I know that feeling optimistic may seem impossible if you're going through a tough time, feel depressed or anxious, or have health concerns. But there is hope. The well-being of those who do this simple exercise is better, and can last months, in fact, the rest of your life.

After years of placebo-controlled testing, the gold standard of scientific study, Seligman suggests this simple assignment to start with:

"Every night for the next week, write down three things that went well today and why they went well."

"... Turns out, six months later, if you start to do that, you statistically have less depression, less anxiety and higher life satisfaction. And importantly, it's addicting. People like doing positive psychology exercises, and they are self-reinforcing," said Seligman in a lecture on positive psychology.

You may have heard about this technique before; I admit it seems simplistic and corny. I never took it seriously until I learned how strong the scientific evidence is. The exercise is basically a form of cognitive therapy, which states that thoughts, feelings and behavior are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses.

Psychoanalysis can go just so far... Once you've unearthed your demons, ultimately, cognitive/behavioral therapy needs to take over so you can make real changes in your life. It's brave and open-minded to be willing to let go of your skepticism and try to change your thinking, emotions, and behavior. And it may not always be easy... But it works! Please give it a try.

I'd love it if you would contact me and let me know how you feel after one week of doing this exercise. I will be sharing more about the science of becoming happier in my upcoming series of articles ...


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Let's Play Some Football! Super Bowl Chili, Fresh Salsa & Guac

January 31, 2019

When The Washington Post was considering doing a feature story about my book, Diet Simple, among the recipes they tested was my chili. They loved it!  The whole-front-page "Food" section feature was written. No one would ever guess my chili is healthy. That's why I call it "stealthy healthy!"

Katherine’s Chili Non Carne
(excerpted from Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press)

Try making this recipe a day ahead of time so the flavors and textures have a time to develop. I love this simple, quick chili recipe.  It’s meatless but you don’t miss the meat because it’s so flavorful and the meat-like texture is deceptive.  You should use the amount of garlic or chili powder that appeals to you.  I like it hot and spicy! I double the recipe, using a whole pound of dried black beans,  so I have plenty for the week.  I use this dish as a lunch or dinner alongside a green salad.  I also serve it at parties as a dip next to my fresh tomato salsa, nonfat Greek yogurt, and guacamole.  It’s perfect rolled up in a tortilla or stuffed in a taco with some reduced fat cheese.  

Serves 4 as a main course, 8 or more as a dip or topping

1 Tbsp Olive or Canola Oil, or more
1 Large Onion, Chopped
3 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced (more or less)
3 Tbsp Hot Chili Powder (try 50/50 Chipotle Chili, maybe a dash of smoked paprika, called "Pimentón," and just a pinch of Cinnamon)
1 Large Fresh Green Pepper, Chopped
1 28- oz. Can Italian Plum Tomatoes, chopped, including the liquid
1 Pound Can Kidney or Black Beans, whichever is preferred
1/2 Cup Water (To Hydrate the Bulgur)
1/2 Cup Bulgur (Cracked Wheat)
2 Seeded Jalapeño Peppers, chopped, if desired
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil over low heat in a large pot until soft, 15 or more minutes.  Add the chili powder and simmer for a few more minutes.  Add the Fresh Green Pepper and cook until al dente.  Meanwhile, soak the bulgur in the boiling water for 15 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients including the bulgur and simmer slowly over low to medium heat until flavors are well blended and vegetables are cooked to the desired consistency ... a few minutes or longer, if desired. Adjust seasonings to your preference.  Since many canned items were used, additional salt will probably not be needed.

Calories per serving 320, Total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Carbohydrate 59g, Fiber 13g,  Protein 12g

Katherine’s Spicy Fresh Mexican Salsa with Mild Guacamole
(excerpted from Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press)

Fresh salsa - Pico de Gallo - doesn't really need a recipe. These are proportions I have found pleasing. But you may want your salsa, with more or less onions, spice, sweet (try adding watermelon), parsley instead of cilantro... The options are endless.

22 servings

Ingredients

1 large onion, peeled and chopped (about ½ pound)
2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (start with about 3-1/2 lbs) (Use canned tomatoes, if good tomatoes aren’t available)
3 – 4 jalapeño peppers (1 – 2 ounces), to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp salt, or to taste
3 – 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice or the juice from 1 – 2 limes (optional. I often skip the limes)

Add the onion to the tomatoes. Finely chop 2 of the jalapeño peppers to start with. Taste. If you desire more heat, add 1 – 2 more jalapeños. Mix in the cilantro. Add the salt depending on your taste. Mix in the lime juice. Best served within one or two days.

20 calories, 0g fat, 5g carb, 1g fiber, 1g protein

Katherine's Guacamole

There's a million recipes for Guacamole. You can keep it mild, or make it hot by adding hot peppers. Throwing in fresh salsa makes it chunky and yummy, too.

12 Servings

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice (optional)
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut avocados in half lengthwise and pull out the pits. Scoop out the meat. Place in a medium bowl and mash, keeping some large chunks. Mix in the cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning. Serve the same day.

50 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 3g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein


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7 Steps For Realistic, Achievable New Year's Resolutions: A Second Chance!

January 27, 2019

The new year is a valuable opportunity to improve the quality of your life and happiness... Lose weight, eat healthfully, exercise... But most of us make impossible new year's resolutions, and have given up by now. Does that describe you?

Exercise (Photo by: Wikipedia.org) Exercise

Don't get me wrong. Resolutions are good. For instance, losing weight, eating more healthfully, being more physically active, are often essential life goals leading to increased energy, health and happiness.

But "losing weight" - or achieving any goal - means nothing without deciding on shrewd, small, concrete changes which can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Look for approaches that complement, not dominate, your life.

Setting Goals, Keeping Goals
excerpted from "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations" by Katherine Tallmadge

I can't stress enough that goals should be fun and liberating, not just another ball and chain that weighs you down and reminds you of your failures. (We all have them, believe me!)

Everyone's goals are different, of course. I don't presume to have a one-size-fits-all set of goals that works for everyone. Over the years, however, I have developed some goal-setting strategies that I think will make a real difference.

For success, your goals should be:

Realistic. Perfectionistic goals set you up for failure.

Small, behavioral steps. You can't set a goal of losing 2 pounds, but you can set a goal of doing the things that will cause you to lose 2 pounds. For instance, bringing a yogurt snack to work or adding delicious vegetable dishes to lunch and dinner.

Choose Realistic, Achievable Goals to Reach Your Potential (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Choose Realistic, Achievable Goals to Reach Your Potential

Positive. Instead of stating what you won't do ("I've got to stop eating chips every night"), state what you will do ("I'll prepare a delicious fruit salad to snack on in the evenings").

Flexible. Setting a goal to "exercise every day" may not be possible because of unforeseen circumstances. But saying instead, "I will be physically active 5 out of 7 days," or "I will increase my daily pedometer steps by 2,000 this week," is certainly do-able.

Measurable. "I'll eat more fruits and vegetables," is a noble goal, but how will you know when you reach it? Give yourself specific criteria so you can reward yourself for a job well done. "I'll make a delicious vegetable batch recipe this weekend," or "I'll add a vegetable soup or salad to lunches this week."

Important to you. Your goal must come from your heart, not your spouse's or parent's.

In a supportive environment. Does your home and work environment make healthful behaviors easier or harder? Do you need to have healthful, tasty, ready-to-grab foods in your refrigerator? Do you need your spouse to participate more fully with your healthy lifestyle? Take a look at your environment to determine if it is supportive enough and you have the tools you need to achieve your goals.

The battle of the bulge will be won at the margins. Sweeping changes are impractical and won't work!

This article is excerpted from my book, "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations" (LifeLine Press)


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