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11:59 am - Posted by Gregg

Visiting the farmers market during summer months is always a delight because one of my favorite farmers picks out a watermelon for me to enjoy during the next week. When fresh, crisp and sweet, I find watermelon as enjoyable as a bowl of ice cream. And yes — I still enjoy naturally made ice cream or frozen yogurt from time to time. But I balance those treats out with fresh fruit. And during the summer, I do everything I can to enjoy watermelon for all it’s worth.

Studies have revealed that besides being delicious, watermelon delivers several health benefits, including being an excellent source of Vitamin C as well as a good source of Vitamins A and B6. It also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lycopene, which can help neutralize free radicals and help prevent prostate cancer. Watermelon has been shown to reduce the risk of other types of cancers as well. Plus, its high water content makes it great for hydration. What’s more, it’s a terrific dessert or snack for kids and can help them understand that not every “treat” has to come covered in fudge.

When given the option at the farmers market, I always go for seedless watermelon. I’m not a happy camper if I must interrupt my chewing with spitting seeds into a nearby napkin (even though I suppose it burns a few more calories).

According to produce specialists, Mid-June through mid-August is when watermelon is at its ripest (with July being the most prized month of all). So let’s go watermelon shopping, shall we?

When picking a whole watermelon, size matters since 80% of a watermelon is water. Pick one of the largest you can find, while making sure the exterior doesn’t have any visible cuts, bruising, dents or soft spots. Experts also suggest looking for a yellowish area on the melon’s exterior, which indicates its ripeness after sitting in the sun.

Next, do what you’ve likely seen other shoppers do — knock-knock on the exterior with your knuckle. You’re listening for a slight echo to your knock, which indicates that the fruit is ripe. A dull thud could indicate otherwise.

When preparing watermelon for guests, or myself, I make sure to make the eating experience as relaxed and “special” as possible — therefore I don’t usually serve it in wedges. Giving food a more delectable presentation is something I strive for almost every time I eat. This helps my brain, eyes and other senses know that I’m eating, which helps ‘up’ the enjoyment factor — and, therefore, the satisfaction and fullness factors.

I suggest slicing watermelon into quarters, length wise, then taking a quarter and carefully running a knife along the red center’s outer edge and the whiteness of the rind. Cut all the way around on both sides, so that the whole quarter of the red stuff could slip out. But don’t slip it out just yet. Next, cut the fruit from side to side, on both exposed sides of the quarter. Finally, cut across your long slices, from left to right, leaving about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch between each slice.

Next, slide your perfectly prepared chunks into serving bowls. But before you serve the fruit, put the bowls into the freezer for 5-10 minutes to give the fruit an extra kick of crispiness.

When time to serve, pull the bowls from the freezer and serve with a napkin underneath (to keep the bowl from being too chilly to the touch). The watermelon chunks should have a minimal layer of frost that kicks up the flavor and the crunchy quotient, making for a texture-y, sweet and delicious eating experience. (Careful not to keep the chunks in the freezer too long or the pieces will freeze and require a little defrosting before being comfortably edible).

Saving the uneaten portion of the watermelon can be handled two ways — either by “chunking up” the remaining portion and putting it into airtight containers and storing in the fridge; or wrapping up the other half or quarters (rind and all) in cellophane wrap and then wrapping them in an additional plastic bag before putting into the fridge (to avoid having to clean up leaked watermelon juice at a later time). Plan on consuming the leftover fruit sooner rather than later to enjoy it at its freshest.

Watermelon. When enjoyed at its peak, it can kick ice cream’s butt anytime. Or, at the very least, tie it in deliciousness.

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July 14, 2017

Live a little

12:40 pm - Posted by Gregg

One of the reasons I love this quote by Oscar Wilde is that it reminds us to be present and live in the moment. Too often those of us with a dieter’s mentality “punish” ourselves by thinking we don’t deserve to live life to its fullest potential even before we reach our goal weight. And yes, living life out loud (AKA being happy, doing what you want to do and even eating what you want to eat) can actually bring us closer to our goal weight than denial can.

And yes, you read “eating what you want to eat” correctly. The trick is to not eat too much of it. And before you poo-poo this idea, why not try it out at least once or twice? Sometime this weekend, you can walk into your favorite ice cream shoppe and order one single scoop of your favorite flavor. Do it with a friend or two. Then eat it slowly, one scrumptious bite at a time. You can even lick the cup it comes in (I won’t tell). Then, don’t have ice cream for the rest of the weekend. See what you did there? You ate something decadent without hurting your psyche, without harming your body and without deterring your overall goals of reaching a lighter, healthier weight. You can have what you’re craving as long as you have it in smaller portion sizes.

Similarly, you can try online dating, you can take a class that might lead to a new career, you can audition for community theatre or even buy a new favorite outfit. So what if the outfit comes in a size that will require you to donate or sell it in the near future? This moment is all we (you!) have. So why not live it to its full potential?

You are perfect now. You are beautiful now. You are amazing and your life is full of possibilities now. This doesn’t have to mean you don’t eat healthfully, exercise often, drink plenty of water and get enough rest to help your body reach your goal weight. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t live life in the interim either.

So read the quote above as often as you need to. Download the meme and save it as your “lock screen wallpaper” on your phone. Remind yourself as often as you need to that you don’t deserve to be punished and don’t have to put off anything you’re dreaming of just because you’re carrying around a few extra pounds.

Live. Laugh. Love. And enjoy that single scoop of ice cream (or whatever) every now and then. You deserve it.

Photo Source: Pinterest

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July 10, 2017

Thought for the day

8:27 am - Posted by Gregg

Instead of starting a diet, why not start listening to your body and eating fresh, clean foods in healthier portions? Life changes don’t have to be painful and don’t have to require saying “No” to some of your favorite foods. Remember, whatever you choose to do to benefit your health is a gift, not a curse. The less we think of ourselves as victims, the greater chances we have of reaching all of our goals. (I believe in you!)

Photo Source: Pinterest
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June 26, 2017

Let go, let new

12:04 pm - Posted by Gregg

Guess what? What happened yesterday, last week, last month or last year (or even a decade ago) is permanent history. That’s right – permanent. None of us own time machines (and believe me, I’ve looked for mine exhaustively). Similarly, none of us have magic wands. We can’t undo what’s already transpired. So what does that mean to you and me? We’re here now. At this starting point. So why not take the next step (in whatever direction that is – health, career, love life, family relations, etc.) with an attitude that embraces what’s new (without shaming ourselves for what’s in our past)?

The goals you reach may be your own. I believe in you (I really do). So take a deep breath and let the next minute, day, week, month or year unfold. You’re beautiful. You matter. And you’ve got it goin’ on. And if anyone doubts that, you can tell them I told you so!

P.S. If you do happen to have a time machine or magic wand, please contact me!

Photo Source: Instagram

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8:56 am - Posted by Gregg

Like many reading this, I’ve been struggling to understand the high level of divisiveness that’s permeating our national mood as of late. It was only recently that I discovered an even greater lightning rod for inciting strong opinions and, in some cases, public outrage. And no, I’m not referring to how you may or may not have voted for in the last presidential election, but to my… (dare I admit having it so publicly?) man bun.

At the risk of sounding defensive, I feel compelled to share that growing my hair long enough to entertain having a man bun was never my intent. At least not originally. But after sporting a new style that my barber suggested, I found my hair getting longer and longer. I enjoyed the length when out, socially—but needed a way to keep it out of my face while working. Thus, my first attempt at man-bun-ding took place. And I have to say; it proved to be an effective method for not having to deal with long hair during the work day.

But never in my life would I have predicted that public reaction to said man bun would be so resolute and even vindictive—often from people I’d never met before. I also received a lot of flack from friends, many asking, “Why?”—as if I’d done something to purposely insult them.

Between you and me, it was never my intent to keep my man bun as part of my “look” for very long. But with every outcry I received over it, I felt more and more compelled to keep it around for a while. Not so much to upset people, but because I was fascinated with peoples’ overt reactions. It was as if the hair on my head, when tied up with a small band and curled into a bun (yes, much like the style sported by one Pebbles Flintstone) was being done to intentionally ruin their day.

The parallels to other life disagreements have not been lost on me. With the advent of social media, we’ve all become a little more courageous in regard to sharing our opinions loudly and proudly. But is doing so really “brave” when hiding behind a 140 word-count on Twitter or similar platforms offered by facebook and other online pulpits? What’s happened to “Live and let live?” Much less “Acceptance?”

I know that, for myself, when I don’t accept the circumstances of life, I can come undone, mentally. This often plays out in the confines of my head, hidden from public view—until someone shares an opinion I disagree with (often on TV), which can sometimes make me spin out of control. I then (mistakenly) believe I have the power to not only prove that my viewpoint is more right than someone else’s, but also to instantly change the opinion of the person who doesn’t share my point of view.

Of course, I acknowledge that political, religious and other strongly held beliefs are important to us (and carry much greater impact than whether or not someone likes my hairstyle). But does it really matter to anyone if I have a man bun or not? And does it really matter if someone has different beliefs than I do? Can’t we coexist in a peaceful manner and even draw some comfort from the fact that having different opinions, beliefs and ways of doing things can offer more flavor to everyday life?

While on the topic of hairstyles, I’d be remiss if I didn’t nod to the “perm” I had back when I graduated from college—the same time period during which I weighed over 450 pounds. As shared in my book Weightless: My Life as a Fat Man and How I Escaped, I was a virtual recluse during that part of my life. I was terrified of being judged for not being able to successfully take off the excess weight (no matter how often I’d tried to). And yet somehow I got the courage to venture out of my apartment to get a “perm” hairstyle. I marvel at this now. Because no matter how afraid of people I’d become or how convinced I was that my life was over, I must have had a little hope—symbolized by wanting to affect my looks the only way I could at that time (by getting a new hairstyle).

There may be one day when I look back on having a man bun and shudder. But perhaps it will represent a little bit of courage or—if nothing else—a great sense of humor. (That’ll be my story anyway.)

Looking back aside, I don’t expect my man bun to inspire world peace. In fact, just last week someone assured me that I was encouraging deviant behavior in the form of today’s version of the mullet. That may or may not be true. If so, I’d be the first to laugh. If there’s a way to be a goofball in this life, I’m usually the one to go there (often unintentionally, I assure you). But if having a man bun can remind me to show the same kind of compassion to others that I’d like to receive myself, then everyone wins.

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