Guilty Pleasures in the Midst of the Holidays

Friday, December 29, 2017

We all need a day off every once in a while. In fact, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, surrounded by stress and long hours, we really need to take a day off from time to time. Down time is key to our health.

There are actually many benefits to having a day off. Research shows time off can boost our immune system, add years to our lives, increases our capacity to cope, and even improves our short-term memory.  We all know, when we take the time, that we feel better when we nourish our soul.

When I have been putting in long hours I start craving a “lounge around day.” It is a way to reboot.  You can let go of all the thoughts, concerns and worries looping in your brain, let your body luxuriate in a day of rest and allow your stomach a day off too.

This is particularly true during the holidays. After all the work, partying, planning, shopping, cooking, feeding, decorating, wrapping, delivering and clean up I long for a day to just curl up in my pajamas with a dog on either side of me while I sip tea, read a new book, and watch my favorite classic movies. No cooking is allowed, only easy reheating of leftovers, hopefully in healthy portions. The week between Christmas and New Years is ideal. Most of the world is quiet then so you can squeeze in some “me time.” Not only do we need it, we deserve it!

I call this kind of lounge around day one of my Guilty Pleasures. It truly is a guilt-free day, we’ve earned it, but somehow by framing it as a day of indulgence, we can enjoy it that much more. It frees us up to do the activities we like to do—no need to negotiate the movie you are going to watch, no need to fix an extra cup of tea or plate of food, this day and all you do is just for you.

You may not end up with an entire day off if you have family with you but you can organize activities for them while you hang out at home. Plan now so you can have a morning or afternoon off. And then, at the end of the day, fix your favorite night cap, fill your bath tub with steaming hot water with bath salts, light a candle or two by your tub, turn on some relaxing music, close the bathroom door and ease into a long soak. You can’t beat the feeling of this guilty pleasure!

Enjoy! And Live Wise!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Healthy Gifts for the Holidays

Monday, December 25, 2017

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How to have a Bari-friendly Holiday

Friday, December 22, 2017

Having a happy and memorable holiday should be something we look forward to every year. Unfortunately, the holidays also bring added stress and many more expectations than we would like. Some of those expectations can influence not only how we feel about the holidays but they can also have negative consequences to our health. When our health is closely tied to what we eat and how much we eat, when we find it difficult to follow our usual routine we can really get into trouble. It is not as much about weight gain but the impact eating the wrong foods in the wrong quantities can have on our mental and physical health.

Before we get sucked into the “same ol’ same ol’” of negative patterns, it is important to realize we have support. It is amazing how our Facebook friends and those we chat with on twitter can be a great resource for us….and then there are also the blogs we follow! We are not alone in our struggles! And sometimes we just need to refresh our bandwidth and get reminded of the power we have to make choices and avoid downward spirals that will take a lot of effort to get out of.

I recently reached out to Livliga’s Facebook followers and asked this question: The holidays are upon us and it is always a challenging time to stay on track. I am wondering, especially from our bariatric post-op friends, what tips you have and tricks you use to help manage all the hoopla and food choices...share your good advice please!

Yvonne Burns McCarthy (bariatricgirl) was nice enough to respond and gave this great advice:

  1. Eat before you go to any place you will be tempted to do damage to yourself. 
  2. Don’t bring things you don’t want to eat home. 
  3. Last, if you fall off the wagon...drop the shame, hold your head high, and get back on the horse.

In a recent email to her followers Liz Bull offered her advice for Holiday Survival:

  1. Plan your meals to include the special holiday items.... but, first, analyze them. Do you really enjoy them? Or is it just tradition? Could you adapt the recipe? Take those sweet potato dishes with the gooey marshmallows on top, for example. Personally, I prefer mashed sweet potatoes with smoked paprika sprinkled on top. You could try having only one kind of stuffing instead of three. If the Holiday just isn't the Holiday without Aunt Mollie's Super Fluffy Coconut Dream Cake, by all means, enjoy the treat... especially if she only makes it for this Holiday. On the other hand, she might be tired of making it and thrilled to make something sweet potato pie... or something with fruit. 
  2. Avoid drinking your calories. Remember that the buzz can also lead to poor eating choices. A glass of wine - 80-150 calories; beer - 140-200 calories; shots - 150-200 calories; mixed drinks... ooh-la-la. 300 - 800 calories.... and eggnog 440-540 calories. 
  3. Bring a healthy dish to parties. That way, you KNOW that there will be something you can eat without derailing. And, you will be amazed at how popular healthier options are. If bringing something is not appropriate, consider eating before the party. Then you can spend the party socializing instead of balancing your drink and plate. 
  4. Learn the art of the gentle decline. It's inevitable. You will be encouraged to eat things that are not on your eating plan, to eat more than you want, to eat things you just don't like under any circumstances. Here are some handy phrases: " Oh, thank you. Those look so good... and I'm saving room for some (fill in the blank)." or "Thanks so much. I am just stuffed! May I take some to-go?" or "Thanks. I just can't eat another bite right now.... perhaps later." or "Thanks for offering. I don't want to hurt your feelings. Truthfully, I've never cared for (fill in the blank) and they don't seem to like me much either." Remember, it is NOT your job or obligation to make anyone happy at your expense. 
  5. Have a plan for leftovers! For many of us, just being around food makes us run the risk of overeating. It is best to deal with leftovers right away. Wrap them up and freeze them for use in future meals (like ham cubes for quiche or soup). Make up to-go boxes for your guests. Dollar stores have those boxes; keep them on hand. If Aunt Mollie's Super Fluffy Coconut Dream Cake is your undoing, be sure to use this strategy. Ditto for any other food that "calls" to you.
  6. Help spread the holiday cheer. Have a plan for those huge cookie-platters and gift boxes of candy that guests will bring. Re-gift gift baskets, cookies and candies. Check with your local senior center, homeless shelter, food bank. Holiday treats may not be within their budget.  
  7. Make some new traditions! Consider that holidays are about reconnecting with people you love. Meet family/friends for something active... like sledding, skating, snowball battles... or walking the neighborhood enjoying holiday lights. Watch holiday movies. Play board games. Take the focus off the food. 
  8. And finally, I believe that special treats are for special days. Plum Pudding is for Christmas, right? Latkes are for Hannukah, right? So keep them special. And, remember that a holiday is a holy-DAY, not a holy-MONTH. Even those ancient revelers stopped after 12 days!

Another favorite resource is the BariatricFoodie (aka Nikki Massie). She has written a book called The Bariatric Foodie Holiday Survival Guide. You can’t beat the good advice you’ll find and can refer back to when you need it most. Like other experts who face the holidays and know that we all need help to navigate, Nikki believes first and foremost, you need a plan! Nikki walks us through the issues, how to confront them head on and then how to make a plan to embrace the way you want to be during the holidays.

On Twitter there are monthly and/or weekly chats with groups that really help us focus on what is important to us and our health…all year long. Right now those talks focus on the tips and tricks of thriving healthfully during the holidays. Here are two great monthly chats focusing on health, nutrition and healthy tools:

#obsm chat
Obesity Social Media Chat #obsm Second Sunday of every month at 9 pm EST All who are passionate about #EndingObesity are welcome! Tweets ≠ medical advice

All things food and nutrition on Sundays at 9 pm EST

And make sure to check out the ideas, tips and tricks offered on the Livliga Live Vibrant blog! Here is an example we hope will support you in having a bari-friendly holiday:

Making Happy and Healthy Memories for the Holidays

Happy Healthy Holidays to You!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Health Magazine Subscriptions

Monday, December 18, 2017

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Cut Up Veggies in the Fridge

Monday, December 11, 2017

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2017 Christmas Health-Minded Gift Ideas

Friday, December 8, 2017

Having a healthy lifestyle company and being a devoted foodie, I enjoy checking out products that help enhance our health, ease our lives in the kitchen, and make our eating experience even better. I also think the greatest gift we can give the ones we love is the gift of health. Giving that gift in the form of a fun new kitchen gadget, health focused foods, neat new cookbooks and healthy lifestyle products is a great way to do it. Here are some ideas to consider for great health-minded gifts this year:

Nifty Kitchen Gadget

The Negg—finally a gadget that actually makes peeling eggs easy!

Wine with Your Health in Mind

FitVine—who knew there was a way to make wine healthy for you (and with less calories) …and tasty!

Classy Cookbook to Start the New Year

Whole30—is a cookbook providing a great way to jumpstart your health in the New Year.

Gorgeous Dishes that are a Just Right Set™

JustRight Set™ bariatric—was designed with the bariatric community in mind. About time dishes were designed with specific people and their needs in mind!

Still looking for some gift giving inspiration? Check out the Livliga Holiday Gift Guide!

Psst...Rumor has it there will be a Livliga Flash Sale next week with FREE SHIPPING and SPECIAL PRICING on our 16 piece dinnerware sets! Just in time to order your healthy lifestyle gifts AND get them delivered in time for Christmas! 

Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Printouts of Healthy Recipes

Monday, December 4, 2017

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Diabetes-Friendly Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Egg

Friday, December 1, 2017

There is nothing better than leftovers to inspire creativity. Before I discovered roast turkey as a great year-round food, I relished the leftovers in order to make my favorite comfort foods like turkey tetrazzini and of course, turkey hash.

Turkey hash is easy to prepare and is perfect for breakfast, brunch or a Sunday supper. My version is packed full of healthy ingredients that not only include high quality protein but also vitamins, especially vitamin C; minerals, like potassium; and antioxidants found in foods like garlic, onions and cauliflower used in this recipe. Providing comfort food that is also health promoting is particularly welcome during the colder months when we are combatting flu and colds. It nourishes our soul and our bodies. Below is my favorite hash recipe that is perfect for using up leftover turkey.

Diabetes-Friendly Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash with Fried Egg 


  • 1 medium sweet potato, cubed and roasted
  • 1 ½ cups cauliflower, chunked and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups cooked turkey, diced
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking Spray, olive oil flavored


  1. Prepare the cauliflower and sweet potato, placing them on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Roast for 15 minutes at 375°. 
  2. Next, spray a cast-iron skillet with cooking spray and add olive oil at medium heat. Add onions, peppers and salt. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add garlic, paprika and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. 
  4. Add the roasted vegetables and turkey, stirring occasionally until the turkey is heated thoroughly, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, heat a skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat. Add eggs and fry for 3 – 5 minutes, or until they are cooked as you like to serve them. 
  6. Divide the turkey hash to serve 4. Top each serving with an egg. Sprinkle evenly with pepper and serve immediately. 
Serves: 6
Calories per serving: 221
Total Fat: 9g
Carbohydrates: 13g
Sugars: 5g
Sodium: 430mg
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 21g

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Board Games

Monday, November 27, 2017

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Making Happy and Healthy Memories for the Holidays

Thursday, November 23, 2017

So many of our happy memories are wrapped around the holidays. We remember special conversations, gifts that were given, an activity unique to the occasion and, of course, the smells of delicious foods from the kitchen, the wonder of the dishes presented and the tastes of our favorites bringing smiles to our faces. These memories compel us to want to repeat them and make those memories into traditions we can look forward to year after year.

The challenge comes when we want to live a healthy lifestyle and know that some of the traditions, particularly around food, need some changing.  We are afraid of the resistance we might get from others, including ourselves, when the time honored family recipe is updated (like my beloved poppy seed bread) or the holiday fudge doesn’t appear. The reality is we can’t be afraid to change things up, make new traditions, and share our desire for healthy living with others, even during the holidays.

Making happy and healthy memories does not mean giving up those special foods only made during the holidays or giving up being with the ones you love or throwing away that ugly Christmas sweater you get a kick out of wearing to the family gathering.

What it does mean is creating an environment setting you up for success. It also means being fully present at each occasion. Additionally, we need to consciously make choices and be mindful as we drink and eat, purposefully choosing. And who says we can’t make the slices of poppy seed bread a little thinner?…who will even notice? And maybe instead of making that extra sweet potato casserole so everyone can have second and third helpings, we make just enough for everyone to enjoy.

Then consider the possibility of adding a healthy new tradition into the mix. What about a new festive drink that is tasty and lighter in alcohol and calories like a Rosemary Tequila Lime Smash? Or provide FitVine wine that is lower in calories and healthier for you. Another fun tradition is to participate in a local holiday Walk/Run or go to your local YMCA to join in on a free Zumba class (they offer free workout classes from kickboxing to spinning to Zumba each Thanksgiving).

These are simple examples of how we can add “healthy” into our holiday traditions still focusing on making happy memories and holding on to the importance of traditions…just making them ones we can enjoy long term, as healthy and happy people.

Wishing you the happiest and healthiest of holidays!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--No TV in Your Bedroom

Monday, November 20, 2017

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Healthy Lifestyle Combats Diseases Triggered by Obesity

Friday, November 17, 2017
When I was the executive director of the American Heart Association (AHA) in Denver, I became acutely aware of a significant fact. We were taught at AHA that 20% of heart disease is due to genetics and other uncontrollable factors, while 80% is because of our lifestyle. It is both a burden and at the same time incredibly encouraging to realize we have the ability to affect and improve our health through the actions we take.

There is nothing worse in life than feeling helpless when confronted with a problem and feeling you have no tools in the toolbox to fix it. For chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity there are no quick fixes. The truth is that in order to improve and manage these conditions we need a holistic, long-term view. It comes down to how we live our lives—including what we eat, what we do and who we do it with. It is all about having a healthy frame of mind and lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle, adopted at any time in life, can and does improve our health and the quality of our lives. It is both preventative and the best tool in the toolbox to help us improve and manage chronic conditions we may be living with. It is truly about how we live our lives. But how do we do it successfully?

We have to create an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle…day in and day out. Most importantly it is about organizing a life that focuses on and supports an active lifestyle, not just exercise but also taking walks with friends, going to a farmer’s market with the kids, going bowling with your colleagues, or having a date night that has you singing karaoke or square dancing. These are just examples and are intended to get us thinking about the ways we can plan a life that incorporates healthy activities as a way of living life.

The environment also has to embrace healthy eating. For many of us that may mean fixing more meals at home instead of eating on the go. There are so many options available to us to help us do this from ordering meals kits from companies like The Blue Apron that are already pre-planned so all you have to do its assemble it or preparing “hack” meals from the grocery store where many of the ingredients are already prepped for you to use with out all the washing and chopping required. And don’t forget there is cooking from scratch which is a wonderful healthy lifestyle activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

What is most often forgotten, or left to last, is working to create a physical environment in your home and at work that supports you in the healthy lifestyle you are committed to live. This means literally setting up your house and work space to support you. This includes no TV in front of the dinner table, swapping a fruit bowl for the candy bowl, investing in right-sized dishware and glassware to right-size your serving sizes, putting the healthy foods in the front of your refrigerator, organizing your bedroom so it is cozy and relaxing for sleep, cleaning out the garage so you can easily reach the bikes, badminton set and sports balls for fun activities to pursue in and around you neighborhood…and beyond. This list is endless.

The proof is in, living a healthy lifestyle makes a big difference to our health and longevity. Having fun by getting up and out reduces our stress, and can improve all number of health issues. Eating right can reduce inflammation, boost our immune system, improve our mood, and lower the risks for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many cancers. It is all about feeling better and doing better, because when you do, you have more energy and the possibilities for your life begin to soar.

The name of my company—Livliga—means “lively, vibrant and vivid,” which is what we wish for everyone’s life, because when you eat better, you feel better, and have more energy, so you can get to your bucket list.

Here’s to your health and bucket list! Live vibrant!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Workout Playlists on Your Phone

Monday, November 13, 2017

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5 Tips for Living a Life of Gratitude –for our Health and Happiness

Friday, November 10, 2017

When it comes time for the holiday rush of celebrations it is always a good time to reflect on our mental health as well as our physical health. As we count the days until Thanksgiving and our annual holiday season we can experience intense emotions. More and more we understand that how we feel emotionally directly influences our health. The holidays tend to bring this especially to light, as we feel pressured to do more, spend more, and eat more. We may even dread family gatherings and the possible conflict that may occur among family members.

Gratitude, in particular, has been shone to have a powerful effect on our outlook on life and our ability to manage the stresses and strains of our everyday lives in addition to the extraordinary circumstances of the holidays. The list of positive effects of gratitude is long. It includes improved heart health, reduced stress, improving our sleep, enhancing our relationships, fortifying our resilience, and boosting our self-esteem. It also helps us with our stick-to-itiveness, allowing us to keep to our exercise routine and other good healthy habits. It helps us with our overall sense of life satisfaction.

When we talk about living a healthy lifestyle we are taught that it means eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and now we know it also needs to include a positive outlook, which is reflected in the gratitude we express. As we see with the list of healthy habits above, we succeed in living a healthy lifestyle only if and because of our attitude of gratitude.

The challenge can be getting in touch with our gratitude. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with the problems in our lives, the difficulties in our relationships, as well as the stresses and hassles in our everyday lives. How can we identify what we are grateful for in the midst of the chaos in our life?

  1. Start a Gratitude Meditation. Take a few minutes out of each day to think about the kindnesses people have shown you within a 24-hour period. Come up with at least 3.
    • It can be as simple as a smile
    • It can be someone starting a conversation at the grocery store or in line to order coffee.
    • Or it can be acknowledging a specific kindness
    • What about being grateful for the great workout you had?
  2. Think about the beauty that surrounds you.
    • Did you see the sunset or a sunrise? How did it touch you?
    • Are there birds in your neighborhood or trees that are changing with the seasons you can look at and see how they are beautiful?
    • Is there a scarf, handbag or garment you have seen online or in a store that you see the beauty in?
    • Or what about a beautifully designed new gadget that makes your life easier or more fun?
    • Is there a song or artist whose music you love listening to because it inspires you?
  3. Find ways to be present. If we are present it is easier to be aware of all the good in our lives.
    • The meal you are eating...what does it taste like? Is it warm or cold? What are the textures?
    • Take a walk and feel the pavement under your feet, be aware of the it sunny or or there a breeze?
  4. Create gratitude. Do something thoughtful and nice for someone else. This can have the effect of making us feel more grateful too...and make you more aware when others show the same kindnesses to you.
    • Treat someone unexpectedly to a cup of coffee
    • Let someone with a few things in their cart go ahead of you in line at the grocery store
    • Reach out to someone by email you haven't connected with in a while
    • Hold the door open for someone, especially if you see their hands are full
    • The list is limitless!
  5. Start writing things down that happen to you or you see and experience that have a positive or grateful effect. Then keep referring back to it to be reminded of how in each day there is good in it, regardless off the hardships.
Gratitude is everywhere. We simply need to take time to discover it, acknowledge it and then practice living it each day. It may be good for our health…but we can’t beat what it does for our heart and soul.

Live vibrant!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--LivSpoons in your Kitchen

Monday, November 6, 2017

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Weight bias is real...and very personal

Friday, November 3, 2017

I remember feeling different from a very early age. I made a joke of it saying “I was born big." In fact, I was tall from a young age and therefore bigger than any of the kids in my class, including the boys. I stayed the tallest until high school when I then shared being tall with a few others. My body developed early. I will never forget my second grade teacher having a meeting with my mom and telling her that I needed to wear a bra. Second grade! Then in fourth grade I got my period. All of this made me feel different; but what caused people to be cruel was my weight.

From about age six on I was slightly wasn’t until after college and the Peace Corps I became obese. I recognized I was a very imperfect human from a very early age. It was made clear to me just how imperfect I was by how I was treated, the derogatory comments people would make about my size and weight, and the negative experiences I had because the world around me didn’t know how to include a big kid like me. I got the message loud and clear.

During second grade my best friend and I were picked up for lunch from school so we could be taken home and served “diet food.” Oh how I remember having to eat grapefruit and choke down calves liver. I hated every minute of it. My friend and I felt like flunkies... and we were only 7!

Probably the worst and most humiliating experience I had was when I was thirteen. My mom, out of apparent exacerbation and probably in hopes of shocking me into weight loss, took me to a maternity store to buy me clothes, including bathing suits, prior to going on a spring vacation. Describing my reaction as mortified doesn’t come close to how I felt. It seemed so wrong, and I was so hurt. But I deserved maternity clothes, right? After all, I was a fat person and deserved what I got.

As someone who has looked differently and felt differently I have always empathized with the underdog or those who have been ostracized or treated unfairly. I want to protect those who need protecting, fight for what is right, and take action to make things better. It feels wonderful to be part of a growing community of like-minded individuals. Each of us is taking steps to promote change and make a difference.

I started Livliga to make a difference and help people live healthier lives. In order to achieve this goal means supporting a world free of weight bias. Each of us deserves to live in a world where we can live our lives to the fullest in our healthiest form...mentally and physically.

National Obesity Cares Week is all about fostering a community that raises a unified voice rejecting weight bias while demanding those living with obesity receive the care, support and access to information that can make an important difference in their lives.

Like so many, my experience may have scarred me but it has also empowered me to not want someone else to be treated in the same horrible way. Each of us can make a difference. Each voice matters. There is so much good we can do together.

Let’s not have one more generation suffer from teasing, bullying, abuse or ignorance. Let’s help each child live well and live vibrant! Let’s start by making a difference now. Take the pledge.

You can join us and take action to change the way that you care about obesity by taking the Take 5 Pledge. The Take 5 Pledge is intended to inspire action by addressing the 5 reasons to care and encourage us to change the way that we care about obesity Visit to take action and change the way that we care about obesity.