It’s a new year


It’s a new year. I feel rejuvenated. I feel – fat. Like most Americans, I did a fine job of eating my way through the holiday season. I managed to sniff out every chocolate truffle in town. That’s the bottom line and it’s sticking to me.

Now it’s time for the mother of all New Year’s resolutions – getting in shape. I’m going cold turkey on the junk food and sitting down with local nutritionist Linda Prout, the only person who can think clearly on these “weighty issues”.

“How are you feeling?” she asked me the other day. “A little bloated,” I admitted, “and my brain is kind of fuzzy.” We talked about breakfast and the way it primes your body for the day ahead. I thought I was doing well, eating a half bagel with a spritz of margarine and a banana. The coffee with chocolate, I felt, was my only vice. Turns out, the sugar in the coffee, bagel and banana are setting me up for sweet cravings all day long and the “buttery” spray has nasty hydrogenated oils. “Not only that, breakfast should be savory and satisfying,” she says. “Something warm with protein, like an egg and meat, fish or beans.”

Prout’s book “Live in the Balance” shows you how to listen to your body’s signals and eat to satisfy them. When you feel chilled and low on energy, like we typically do in winter, eat warming foods like chicken, lamb or beef stew. Cook your vegetables instead of eating them cold or in salads, which can add to abdominal bloating. In my case, I was told to cut out foods with white flour like breads, cereals and pastas. That little “tweak” in my diet will help me increase my energy, decrease my weight and lighten my mood.

Here’s the best advice of all: get rid of any snacks that have poly-unsaturated or partially hydrogenated oils and fats. That’s between 70 and 90% of the cookies, chips, crackers and other stuff on the supermarket shelves. Instead, get nuts. Add nuts and seeds to your diet and your body will thank you with a steady supply of energy.

With much of the country overweight, this is good food for thought. Want more? You can reach Linda Prout at the Claremont Resort and Spa, where she’s the resident nutritionist. Or email her at

Don’t Be Fueled! This is the slogan a Bay Area broadcaster is using for her campaign to get moms out of Minivans and SUVs. Betsy Rosenberg has been on a crusade since she started her environmental radio show, Trash Talk, at KCBS in 1995. First it was recycling – now it’s pollution, and she’s targeting cars as the culprit. “Automobiles are the second leading cause of carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas buildup,” she says “and the heavy reliance on foreign oil puts our country in jeopardy.” The irony, according to Rosenberg, is that women feel they’re doing something good for the family by driving big vehicles. They don’t realize the bad far outweighs the good in terms of their family’s health and safety, not to mention mileage. To heighten awareness, this Marin mom has organized a group of 40 women who call themselves MPG’s or “Moms preferring gas sippers”. Each member drives a Hybrid or electric car. I’m proud that I’ve been asked to join. The goal, here, is not to beat women over the head with this message. It’s a much different approach than the “What would Jesus Drive” campaign that’s getting so much flak today. For more information on this “gasroots” effort, you can log on to

Speaking out: Regarding my recent piece on Mike Lydon, the Oakland neighbor who has voluntarily swept Piedmont Avenue since 1979, there’s this response from Alan C. “If humans weren’t so unaware of the environment around them, there wouldn’t be all that litter and garbage to pick up each day.” Very true, Alan, but until that day comes – people like Mike lead by example.

Recycle This: I hope you’re recycling this column. It makes great fish wrap, or you can do what my neighbor does: put it in the worm composter, where it gets turned into liquid fertilizer. Now here’s another recycling tip. The Post Office in the little town of Canyon is giving out postage paid mailers for your ink jet printer cartridges. Just pop them in the bag and they get mailed to a recycling center in Tennessee. The Postmaster tells me this is an experiment at select branches, nationwide. If it flies – you’ll see more of it.

Remembering Reagan: Thanks to Richard Vannucci for filling me in on the preservation of Ronald Reagan’s former ranch. The Santa Ynez property was part of the original Spanish Land Grant. President Reagan bought it in 1974, and took me on a tour of it (with a handful of other journalists) in 1980. I’ll never forget the pride with which he showed us the house he’d built by hand – the trees he felled for the walls and much of the furniture inside. Today, the ranch is a center for Republican studies, with speakers and retreats held on the grounds. Vannucci is a financial backer, saying it’s his way of supporting Reagan’s legacy. “It helps give him the respect he deserves, especially since the liberal press looks on him as a bumpkin,” Vannucci says. He adds that President Reagan helped bring down the Soviet Union’s “evil empire”, he quieted Libya and he brought pride back to our military.

Savvy Senior: I’m always amazed at how much our seniors do in the hills. Without their volunteer work, we’d have to rely on the government for dozens of programs – and you know what the result would be. Our taxes would go up and we’d get little in return. So it didn’t surprise me when Ruth O’Sullivan said she’d been tapped to do last fall’s campaign spots for a bond measure on senior/disabled bus service. 500 spots ran on Oakland Cable, along with billboards and mailers – all with Ruth’s picture on them. She was even asked to record an automated phone message to voters. The measure passed and Ruth became rich and famous. Well, famous anyway. But as for the payment? Ruth’s been promised a copy of the video and some huge posters with her picture on them. Imagine her excitement.

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