The strangest yet best advice from my doctor….

Quite a few months ago my doctor asked me why I exercised and I told him so I could eat what I wanted and/or lose weight. He told me he wanted me to stop exercising for weight loss. To stop going hard core 5 times a week like I did. For I was having a tendency to over train and injure myself. He said to slow it down to 30-60 minutes EVERY day of moderate exercise (hockey not included). I gave him (hopefully most of you are old enough to get this reference the “what you talking about Willis” look). And he handed me a pile of literature.

He showed me quite a few studies (I’m one of THOSE people). He had me read an article from Time magazine:

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn’t as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.
The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.”

I thought surely I would gain weight. And I did (6 pounds). Except I can’t really tell if it’s because I don’t go gung ho hard core exercise anymore or the large amounts of Prednisone. I’m leaning towards the meds based on past experience. What I have noticed is that I’m not as hungry. In fact usually the only days that I want to rip a Snickers bar out of a small child’s hand is on the days that I play ice hockey…which falls into the major calorie burning category. So I burn it but I get so hungry that I eat all the calories back and then some usually as we always go out after the games.

I no longer base my activity on which machine can I burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time on. I base it on what activities do I enjoy the most? Ice hockey (duh), pilates, walking (outdoors), swimming, and dancing. That’s it. I don’t really like any of the other stuff. I laugh when my friends claim they love to run…yet all but like three of them do it all the time. The rest go through spurts. They will run for three weeks and then nothing for three months. Then complain how much they miss it as they send me an invite to play Candy Crush. Want to know how long I’ve been playing hockey? 13 years. Want to guess how many weeks off I have had (injury not counting)…never. Know why? I love it. If they really loved running they would do it. End of story. So please pick and exercise that you want to do. That you can do every day of your life and not think ugh, I have to go run on the treadmill to burn my 500 calories for the day.

People tell me that they do it for the challenge. To push themselves and to prove they can do it. So do something you don’t like, won’t stick with, but can say gee I did that. Seems silly if you ask me. If you pick something you like you won’t need motivation to go do it…you will just go do it. People ask me all the time how can you play hockey at 11pm at night? Or how do you get up at 5:30 am to go to stick and puck (like hockey practice). Simple. I love it.

And for the love of Pete stop punishing yourself for eating something by doing extra time on the treadmill. If you want to do extra time on the treadmill because you are enjoying it then by all means keep going but DO NOT do it because you ate two chocolate chip cookies and now think you are a fat cow. Only cows can be fat cows. Food is fuel and not something that needs to make you feel guilty about.

This is a salad from the archive from back in 2007. So I am going to guess that most of you have not seen it. It is my go to salad for entertaining. I am not sure I have ever met someone who didn’t actually like this salad with the exception of the picky eater which was fine because I just ate his instead.

So make the salad and then think about an exercise you really like to do. One you would want to do every day of the year for 30-60 minutes…and then go do it. And if you tell me you don’t have time I don’t believe you.

In none related salad news congrats to Kristen of Washington Farmer Chick for winning the Harry and David Giveaway. She’s already been contacted. If you didn’t win no worries I have a feeling I will be working with Harry and David again soon.

Poached Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Spiced Caramel Walnuts and Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette


Salad greens
poached pears(recipe follows)
blackberry jam vinaigrette(recipe follows)
spiced caramel walnuts(recipe follows)
blue cheese( however much you like)

Poached Pears

2 ripe Green Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
1 ½ cups Pinot Gris(I used A to Z from here in the PNW)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Port wine
2 whole cloves

Bring wines, sugar and cloves to a boil(making sure the sugar dissolves) and then bring to a simmer. Poach pears for 15 minutes. Remove ¾ cup of the liquid and reserve. Leave the pears in the liquid while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette

¾ cup poaching liquid from the pears
2 TBSP cider vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp garlic
¼ cup blackberry jam

Cook reserved pear liquid(make sure no cloves are in there) until reduced by half. In a blender or Cuisinart mix reduction with blackberry jam, vinegar, garlic and some salt to taste. While blender is running, slowly add the oil.

Spiced Caramel Walnuts

1 cup walnuts
½ cup sugar
½ tsp chile powder
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp sea salt

Combine sugar with the spices. Place into a saucepan and turn on medium heat. Watch carefully to see the sugar start to caramelize around the edges of the pan. When that happens throw in the walnuts and stir. When they are coated in caramel spread onto a pan that has been covered in parchment paper. Once it is completely cooled, break into pieces.

To put the salad together:
Place a little bit of vinaigrette onto the bottom of the plate(this insures that the bottom greens get some of the good stuff too). Slice poached pear half in half. The slice each quarter and fan out placing it in the middle of the greens. Garnish with walnuts and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle desired amount of vinaigrette.

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  1. I feel kind of lame saying this now, but I actually DO love to run. :) I’ve been doing it for over seven years now, I do it three days a week, and I get up at 5:30 A.M. to beat the heat (ah, the southwestern summer) or to beat the wind (ah, the southwestern winter…). Part of it is because I like the challenge. I like to push myself, to see how fast or how far I can run. But part of it is because I love the motion. I love the feel of my feet slapping the ground, the air blowing against my face, my leg muscles starting to burn as I near the end. THAT is why I exercise. Because I love it and it makes me feel good.

    This salad reminds me of one my mom used to make thatI loved. It had a traditional vinaigrette, romaine, walnuts, pears…and breaded, fried goat cheese rounds. I eat salad because I love it too. Psh at doing it to lose weight. :P

  2. KB- but see you love to do it and you do it year round. I’m talking about people for example someone I know has a swim, bike, run bumper sticker on their car. They’ve done one triathlon and it wasn’t even a full one. She doesn’t like to swim. Why the heck would you do that then? Because she likes the “status” of saying she trains for triathlons….yet she doesn’t. Just pretends she does.

  3. I have SO many friends who say they exercise so they can do the other things they like to do in life, like hike, backpack, etc. I don’t like to exercise, I like to knit, watch TV, papercraft and read. Not much exercise I should be doing so I can enjoy those things! (plus I think it is just a silly idea)

  4. This. Just….. This. I am not overly fond of exercise. I do it in spurts because its not fun. However, I have managed to lose 19 lbs in spite of this, and people are confused. It’s almost fun to watch. :) I have discovered, however, that I do enjoy walking, generally, and I’ve also started kicking around a soccer ball (although not playing soccer itself).
    Thank you for your post. Always the first blog I go to when I need inspiration.

  5. I hands down agree and this makes so much sense looking at me and how I exercise. I truly love my elliptical – I do it for 60 minutes a day while I watch tv. I don’t sit we’ll, moving makes me happy. I don’t go hardcore, I don’t run (unless someone asks me to join the,) or it I’m at a hotel and need to move. Other than that Pilates and flow yoga I’m not really interested.

  6. Sad thing is, I’m not good at anything, or at least anything I have tried. I trained for a 10K once, and that was kind of fun, but running is not something that I want to do 24/7. I hated gym and every single sport we played. I tried yoga once with my dad and that was very painful and in no way relaxing what-so-ever. The only thing I enjoy is walking. I should probably walk more.

  7. Thank you for your recent posts. I recently moved from California to Vancouver BC and gained some weight. I am surrounded by people who are very concerned with their weight and exercise all the time and when they are not exercising seem to constantly talk about weight loss and exercise. Your posts have been the reminders that I needed, that my health is what is most important, not the pounds on the scale and that walking daily for an hour and a half is perfectly acceptable. I do not need to push myself to run 10K a day or bike 20. So thank you, thank you for putting it out there, in writing. Thank you.

  8. What you eat definitely contributes more to your weight than working out. Lovely salad btw!

  9. Tracey C says:

    There _isn’t_ anything I like to do that I’d do every day. Between the chronic foot injury (that weight doesn’t help, but it sure hurts trying to fix that problem) and chronic tendonitis in my arms, even the stuff I don’t mind doing (cycling) is stuff that I can’t do every day or I’ll hurt myself. Everything else hurts or sucks (or both). Walking included.

    So yeah, it has to be entirely diet-oriented for weight loss. The two times I’ve managed to lose significant amounts of weight (90 lbs, and 20 lbs respectively) I basically did it by having an eating disorder (vegetarian low carbing). I only gained weight back when my doctor told me to quit eating soy and dairy for two years – there isn’t much left, at that point, and I never could get into anorexia (I’ve tried, but I hate feeling hungry all of the time).

    It’s not always simple, and the answer isn’t ‘just find what you like doing!’. What I like doing is sitting and reading books. Or cooking desserts and posting tasty pictures on my food blog. Or reading books with cats in my lap. None of those are exercise, and there isn’t anything that is exercise that I find pleasant or tolerable enough to contemplate doing it regularly, much less every single day. Most of the time, I’m perfectly happy in my life regardless. I just wish things fit better :)

  10. I don’t love to exercise but I do love how I feel after. I’ve been working out 30min 6x a week in the mornings and love the energy it gives me the whole day. I chase kids for the rest of my exercise ;)

  11. well said !

  12. And this is why I’m torn. I agree with the (newish) theory I’ve seen bandied about that “chronic cardio” is actually BAD for you. But, after a lifetime of NO exercise (I had a “bad hip” which was replaced with an implant 5 years ago) I’ve discovered that I LOVE THE ELLIPTICAL. LOVE it. I feel like I’m flying. I can’t run because the impact hurts my hip and joints (despite having lost 80 lbs in the last 2 years, I am still 50 lbs overweight – tough on joints) but on the elliptical — I am superwoman. I don’t hang on to the bars, but use the same motion as regular running – just none of the impact. I do it 30-60 minutes every single day the gym is open. On days they aren’t open, I hike (also low/no impact.) But now I’m worried I might be making my weight loss and health benefits less because I technically follow the “steady state chronic cardio” program that I’m hearing is bad. What to do? “Go with what I love to do” or switch to something I don’t love but is “better” for me??

  13. @tonya I would say as long as you aren’t getting injured doing the same thing over and over I say do what you love

  14. I totally agree with every part of this post! Many years ago I used to be obsessed with exercising, like in the gym every day for several hours. But like everything in life, too much of anything is not good. Then I stopped exercising altogether but felt tired and sluggish. Now (the past few years) I do some sort of physical activity every day for 40-60 minutes and I feel great and am so happy. Some days it is just an evening walk with my dog around the neighborhood, other days it is yoga, or maybe it using the elliptical or canoeing at a local lake. I love that I am doing something fun and getting a little work out in at the same time! And I love every component of this salad! Delish!

  15. It’s so true. Strenuous activity often gives us the license to eat a big meal…eating it all back. It’s so hard to find the balance but looks like you are on the right track.

  16. This salad is gorgeous :) I’d love to serve this when I entertain, it is perfect!

  17. I’ve seen this salad before! And made it! And love it. It’s in my notebook as a keeper (frequently asked for salad) so thank you for that one :-)
    On the exercise… it does make sense… need to think about it but it does make sense! A lot!

  18. This is such a great post, and so true. It is an endless & unhealthy cycle… use exercise to justify eating more, actually eat more because of exercise, exercise to burn off extra eating … you are so right in that it should be something you actually enjoy doing, not some kind of punishment for which food is the reward. it feels good to move our bodies but it shouldn’t control who we are!

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