Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finding The Time

When was the last time you were bored? The last time you had a handful of precious, unaccounted for moments with which you had absolutely nothing planned to do? A gap of time when all of your tasks and chores and obligations were, miraculously, completed, finito, no longer looming over your head like your father at your bedroom door giving you the stink eye on a Saturday morning while the front lawn beckons to be mowed.

Me? I consider myself very lucky to never seem to have a dull day, strewn with large chunks of nothing-to-do time, peppered with bouts of ennui and salted with hours of endless emptiness. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself craving the simpler things in life, like lounging with a cold beverage by the ocean with no decision more pressing than where, oh, where will we dine tonight? Or holed up in a secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere with a hundred books I’ve been putting off and dying to read. But, alas, those scenarios only exist in my fantasy dreams and a few weeks a year during my much needed and very much appreciated vacation time.

Back to reality. I like to keep busy, enjoy it, actually. But it goes beyond that. You could say that I am driven to succeed, to accomplish as much as I can in the short amount of time we have on this earth. And while that's a good thing, it can present challenges. Of course, keeping ones balance amidst all the madness is a must, but finding the time to do all that needs to be done is equally, if not more, important.

“It is a vital necessity to do all the things that you have to do to be able to do all the things that you need to do.”

Walking and Talking with Mike: Finding The Time

I love a life filled with activity, of as many positive endeavors you can shake a stick at, especially those that enhance, improve, grow, shape, and drive you as a person. The key is finding the time to do as much of all this good stuff as humanly possible. Here are some tips:

* prioritize…then prioritize again
* multitask
* eliminate “empty” activities
* turn that boob tube off!
* learn to juggle
* don’t bite off more than you can chew
* practice patience
* at the end of the day, pat yourself on the back and…
*…write a new to-do list
* do it all over again

Remember, it’s good to be busy, but also just as important to find the balance to do other things unrelated to deadlines and pressures, tasks and chores, goals and obligations. I understand the importance of living a balanced life, but also the necessity of living a fulfilled one. The key is:


Until next time…



Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Key to Losing Weight

These days, just about everyone needs to drop a few excess pounds; for some, even more than a few. But let’s face it, losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off is sometimes even more of a challenge.Hey, if losing weight and getting into swimsuit shape was easy, we’d all look like models and movie stars. Sadly, this is far from the case.

But there is good news for those of us (yes, me too; I am constantly working on my weight. Even though I am at a very healthy weight right now, I know that if I didn’t work at it I would be overweight and unhealthy very fast) looking to lose weight and keep it off; help is on the way. The key is to COUNT YOUR CALORIES AND MAKE YOUR CALORIES COUNT!

Sounds simple enough, and it is in theory. So then why are six out of ten people overweight? And over 30%, and growing at an alarming rate, considered obese? As I stated earlier, if it was easy to lose weight, we’d all look like Brad and Angelina. But we don’t and it’s not, but there is hope. Read on…

Any successful weight loss program, be it Weight Watchers or Atkins or Slim Fast or South Beach (the list goes on and on, doesn’t it?), has one thing in common: you must burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. There is no getting around this; it is a proven and steadfast fact.


3500. That is the magic number. In this day and age, people are looking for a magic pill, something to pop in their mouths to make all of their problems, like being overweight, go away. Here’s a scoop for you: THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL!

But there is magic!

* Magic foods! Foods rich in fiber (like fruits, nuts, whole grains, beans, soy, vegetables) are not only extremely healthy for you (most are loaded with antioxidants, tons of vitamins and nutritious minerals that help combat heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal maladies, and lots more), but WILL help you lose weight. Why? They remain in your stomach and digestive system longer, helping you to feel full longer, thus keeping you away from snacking and overeating. Fiber also promotes regularity and is a natural colon cleanser.

* Magic numbers, like: 3500. As I previous mentioned, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you ingest. And the only way to lose a pound is to burn 3500 calories more than you ingest. It’s that easy; the math at least is. The rest is up to you. Here’s a simple suggestion: set daily caloric goals. An example: limit yourself to consuming 2000 calories a day. Then set a goal to burn at least 2500 calories each day. That will give you 500 net calories burned each day. Multiply that 500 x 7 days, and you have 3500. Using this formula you are guaranteed to lose at least one pound per week. Could it really be that easy?

YES!…and no. Because if it were that easy…ah, you know the rest.

But it can be done, and if you put your mind to it, are really motivated and really want to lose weight, as well as being ready to change your life, then it is that simple…you just gotta do it! And I’m here to help.

Let’s go back to my key to losing weight: COUNT YOUR CALORIES AND MAKE YOUR CALORIES COUNT!

The Key to Losing Weight

The first thing you need to do, literally, is to start counting. Everything that goes near your mouth, including: tasting while cooking, finishing a few bites from your kid’s plate, any and all beverages, all snacking and any sneaking. Remember, you want and need to lose weight, right? Then you’re only kidding yourself if you sneak a few bites here or there…right?

Back to the counting. Get yourself a nutritional book that lists content of all food that you think you will ever consume. I like this one: The Complete Book of Food Counts. Also, the Internet has several excellent sites that offer calorie counters for free (I offer several on the links page at my video site, A few tips: dining out every night will make this task that much more difficult. Why? Because you will have a tough time estimating the caloric content of what’s on your plate at your local diner, thus making it that much more of a challenge to count your calories. My solution: make your own during the workweek, and then, maybe, treat yourself to a nice dinner or two on the weekend. In fact, I encourage you to cut yourself a little break on the weekend, especially if you had a good week of calorie counting and weight loss. Ya gotta live, too, right?

Okay, so you have a goal of 2000 calories per day and you have been counting EVERYTHING that you’ve been consuming. I bet you’re finding it difficult to stay within that 2000 calorie threshold, right? Believe me, I feel your pain. This is where the “make your calories count” part comes into play. It is essential to make each calorie you consume while on a limited caloric diet. Why? Because you need to eat a balanced diet of fruits and veggies, carbs and proteins, fats (yes, fats! The good fats, that is) and dairy. And if you’re limiting yourself to only 2000 calories, those will add up quickly. The key:


This is why keeping a journal of everything you consume daily is important. Write it down and keep score, making sure that you not only watch how much you’re consuming, but WHAT you are consuming. The sad fact is you could eat a diet of nothing but potato chips, limiting yourself to only 2000 calories, and if you burn over 2500 calories a day, you WILL lose weight. But you won’t be doing it in a healthy way. And why is this a bad thing? Your body will rebel, you will be unhealthy, tired, vitamin, mineral, and nutrient deprived, and eventually breakdown. So, again, the key (for those of you who have not been paying attention):


When I lost all my weight, I kept a daily journal, listing EVERYTHING I ate. I also loaded up my plate with fiber-rich foods. Here is a typical day:

Soy bar
Orange or peach
Soy chips (snack) with hummus
Either almond butter or peanut butter on whole grain bread, or a high fiber and high protein whole grain cereal with soy milk
Baked potato (no butter, just a splash of olive oil)
Mix of veggies: broccoli, soy, beans, carrots, cauliflower, etc.
Large salad (lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, cukes, with some type of bean: garbanzo, kidney, black). Low-cal, no-fat dressing

Believe it or not, all that food rarely exceeded 2000 calories. Notice there is no animal protein on my list, but feel free to add fish or poultry to your list. Just make sure you limit your caloric intake. I choose a vegetarian lifestyle for many reasons, improved health being a major factor, but the lower caloric intake and extra fiber are equally beneficial.

I’m not suggesting you become a vegetarian, I’m just giving you a glimpse of what worked for me. Your list may be far different than mine, and that’s okay, as long as you count your calories and eat a complete, well balanced diet.

Remember, if you are reading this then you are probably interested in discovering new ways of losing weight. My way, my key, worked, and continues to work, for me. I know it will work for you too. But you have to be ready, willing, and committed to doing what it takes to be what you want to be. Hey, what have you got to lose…except all those excess pounds. Good luck, I’m pulling for you.

Until next time…



Friday, July 17, 2009

Exploring New Paths

The other day I took my first walk around my new homestead. Being an avid walker, and a creature of habit, I was intrigued and mildly concerned during this reconnaissance mission. Why, you ask? Because I am programmed to take a half-hour walk every day. I don’t feel right whenever I miss my walk, have a tendency to gain some unwanted pounds when my feet aren’t traversing pavement, dirt, gravel, and path. But most of all, I LOVE walking because of how it clears my head, soothes my soul, and exercises my body.

So, why the concern, then? It all goes back to my recent move. One of the paradoxes of moving is sacrificing one comfort with the hopes of discovering something even better. While we used to live in a wonderful home and nice neighborhood, and were comfortable and established there, the desire for a change, especially (and hopefully) for the better, outweighed our need to stay. One of the things that moving disrupted were some established routines, like my daily walking ritual. Or better put: the move changed my walking path.

I knew when we bought this new home that I was going to have to establish new routines, which, in its own way, is both a good thing and a not so good thing…another paradox, if you will. Again, why is this? Because while routines offer comfort and familiarity, they can also become stale and mundane. The solution is to seek balance between the dull and ordinary and new and unknown. Leading me to:


Several days have passed since I recorded that video and since that time I have been able to establish a semblance of a walking routine that I am getting used to and becoming happy with. But exploring new paths isn’t just about discovering a new place to take my daily walks. It is about stretching yourself, embracing change, seeking new challenges, and, always, living your life every day in every way.

Sometimes we need to make changes in our lives, our routines, to shake up the same old/same old. And other times bigger changes are a necessary result of carefully planned actions. Either way, they are forms of self-growth, which is essential if your goal, like mine, is to become a more complete person.

I hope you enjoy all of your new explorations and find health, happiness, and growth for your mind, body, and spirit.

Until next time…



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Healthy Snacking The Foster Way

For the past few weeks my routines have changed as often as New England weather. My lovely wife and I recently moved from our house in the valley to a home in the foothills. While this move has been well worth the time and effort moves like these entail, the aftereffects are often discombobulating. Adding to the chaos, my main source of income—AKA: my day job—has also tossed some new wrinkles my way.

For the past decade, I have worked at home as a telecommuter. I have enjoyed the freedom and less pressurized working environment that telecommuting offers, as well as the convenience of having my own kitchen (and bathroom) only a room or so away. As a self-professed health nut, I take my eating seriously, and my snacking even more so. In fact, I don’t consider myself a snacker at all, opting instead to call my style of eating several small, healthy meals throughout the day as, for lack of a better phrase, The Foster Way. I don’t profess that I invented this healthier way of consumption; it has been well documented by nutritionists and those in the know that to maintain your weight and encourage weight loss, it is better to eat several small meals throughout the day rather than three big ones.

But getting back to the recent changes in my life and habits. On top of moving and attempting to establish a new workplace, home, lifestyle, and routine, I now also find myself commuting into the office several days a week. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just another new change I need to embrace and deal with. The good news is I am actually enjoying this change in routines, but I have also noticed a few things while away from the comforts of home and my telecommuting life and having been dropped into the middle of office life.


Now, again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if what they are eating is healthy. Remember The Foster Way. It’s okay to eat every hour or so as long as the portions are small, you only eat until you start to feel full, and what you are eating is high in fiber and lots of other good stuff. Sadly, this if far from the case.

One of the motivating factors of my starting this blog and my video site,, was to share my weight loss and healthy lifestyle successes with as many people as possible. Why? Because I know the statistics, read the newspapers and websites, watch the news, and have seen firsthand that there is an epidemic of obesity and weight problems troubling this country and the world. Sitting amongst my working brethren, I can now add that excessive snacking is a major offender. But help is on the way!



If you are going to snack, or graze all day, then instead of reaching for a handful of candy or another slice of that breakfast cake try a carrot stick or broccoli spear. Now I understand the desire to then dip that healthy sliver of veggie into some fattening dressing, like ranch, but try to resist. Instead, eat an apple. Or banana. Or orange or peach or nectarine or any of the dozens of nutritious raw options available. I usually brown bag a banana and apple and some cherries just about everyday. Add to that some almonds or other nut choice, and you’re well on your way to healthier snacking.


If the snack you’re choosing has more than a handful of ingredients listed on the packaging, then it’s probably not good for you. If many of those ingredients are big words that are impossible to pronounce, then it is most definitely not a healthy option. Processed foods, and snacks especially, are loaded with excessive amounts of sodium, saturated and trans fats, sugars and carbs, but more importantly, calories. Empty calories. If you are trying to lose weight, or just trying not to gain, then you need to limit your caloric intake. And if you find yourself in an office setting where you feel the urge to snack, then you will be battling a constant weight struggle if you consume empty calories: i.e. processed foods that have little nutritional value. The challenge is avoiding that giant bag of tortilla chips and salsa that one of your kind coworkers brought in to share, or those homemade brownies. Dive in and eat…but only if you want to gain unhealthy weight.


What works for me is raiding my fridge and cupboard and brown-bagging it. When I am (forced to be) in the office, my reusable, recycled bag is never far from reach. In it I have fresh fruit and other healthy snacks like soy protein bars or almonds or even a almond butter or peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread (a surprisingly healthy food choice, by the way). While others munch on Sally’s homemade breakfast cake throughout the day, I pop a few cherries into my mouth and keep right up with them, only guilt-free and happily healthy.


Exercise cures a lot of what ails you. When working in an office, or engaging in any other sedentary-like vocation, the opportunity to move around is sometimes limited. If not limited, the desire to move as little as possible versus getting that blood moving through you seems like the only option. I sit in front of a computer all day and often most of the night, but I get up and move around all the time. I try to get up at least 3-5 times an hour, if only to stretch my legs on a short jaunt to the kitchen for some green tea or almonds. I also take a walk just about every day, usually for at least thirty minutes. While at the office, I walked the perimeter of the building I work at during every break and lunch. Ten minutes here and there adds up—so do those calories burned. Remember: burn more calories than you ingest and you WILL LOSE WEIGHT!


Nobody ever said you HAD to eat those brownies just because Sally stayed up half the previous night baking. In the perfect world, or at least the Foster World, all snacks would be good for you, and you could cram as many of them into your mouth as you wanted without suffering any adverse consequences. Alas, the Foster World does not exist (yet!), and constant consumption of unhealthy foods will cause all sorts of health problems. One solution is to replace that deli platter or nachos and salsa with something healthier—veggie platter, whole grain breads, vegan or low-calorie cookies, and fruit bowls. A huge bowl of fresh cherries is a delicious option to Sally’s brownies any day.

Hey, I love to snack as much as the next person. As I stated earlier, I eat several small meals throughout the day, opting to consume my daily caloric intake this way rather than eating three larger meals with snacks in between. The thing that keeps me happy, healthy, in shape, and living life 365 is following The Foster Way of Snacking. You should to…but only if you want to lose weight and live a happier, healthier life.

Until next time…



In case you need a refresher on how to eat a few healthy foods:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Settling In...Finally

To move or not to move?

That was the question I asked myself (and when I say "I" I mean my wife and I) several weeks ago. The answer--Yes, let's move!--seemed like a good idea at the time, but, man, in retrospect:


Actually, what I (and when I say "I," I, naturally, mean my wife and I, or, better put, "Yes, dear, whatever you want") was thinking was: Hmm, wonder what it would be like to move to a nicer, larger, more secluded and scenic homestead, with more land and less hassles? Not really considering the horrific and humongous effort and cost this undertaking entailed, I (and, of course, I mean "we") jumped in with both feet, blindfolded, on a wing and a prayer, wishing and hoping for the best.

The good news: I love this place! (and when I say "I"...oh, you know what I mean!)

The move was well worth the days and weeks of preparations and questions, of costs and cautions, of doubts and dreads. Am I exhausted? You betcha! Is there lots and lots more to do before we are back to normal? Undoubtedly! Was it all worth it?

You be the judge:

The Move! Before, During, After...and Why

I've said before that moving is a paradox, often juggling the upheaval, chaos, cost and frustrations with the hopes, changes, dreams, and plans for a better life. This move was no exception. I am thrilled and beat up, excited and exhausted, looking forward to many wonderful years in my new home (and when I say "my" I most definitely mean "our," meaning my lovely wife and the not-so-lovely Mike Foster) while dreaming of the day when my garage is uncluttered, my books are back on their shelves, and I can feel normal again.

That said, I wouldn't change a thing.

Stay tuned for several new posts and videos about health, personal development, and entertainment, and no more about moving. Thank you for your patience and continued support.

Until next time...