Cabbage for breakfast

Just back from a four-day writers’ conference in Oxford, on the campus of Ole Miss under both rain and sunshine, I am almost overwhelmed with urgency. My mind spins as I try to determine which of my many gotta-do’s is most important today and whether I can delay “real life” tasks such as unpacking, tidying the house, paying the bills, and setting my calendar for this week so that I can just delve into my writing world. I want to write new blogs, develop my new website, promote You Can Fix The Fat, and get back to Katrina. My Virgo Self with tendency to be deliberate, focus on the now, and aim for perfect struggles with my Artist Self to breathe, let the words burble and flow, and craft fine scenes with structure and information. . .

But first, a woman must eat. So after Sunday’s brunch at Big Bad Breakfast and my Cinco de Mayo dinner of lean beef and Argentinian Chimichurri with spring mix, guacamole, and roasted salsa, I am ready once more for clean consumption. Clean means the early-evening-into-late-night cocktail parties with fellow writers and getting by on five or six hours sleep are once more boxed and hoisted to the closet’s top shelf. Clean means backing off grits with butter and tortilla chips laced with lime. Clean means protein, low glycemic index carbohydrates, and cold pressed extra virgin olive oil with ounces of water equivalent to half my  body weight. For this morning’s breakfast, clean means scrambled cage-free brown eggs, ripe on-the-vine tomatoes with sea salt, and cabbage. Left-over steamed cabbage.

Hey! I am an artist; I can be quirky; I can follow my own lead.

So today I shall try once more to move forward with balance of work and play, with clear vision of both domestic upkeep and writing ambitions, with confidence that I can. This week offers both opportunities and challenges. And unexpected gifts — my friend Harvey just called for help to take down Sunday’s altar flowers and preserve them for a special Sparkle event coming Tuesday evening at St. James’ . . . so much for carving writing time and not answering the telephone!

By the way, the cabbage was delicious. Weekend-on-the-road left little access to fresh, clean, home-cooked vegetables. When I opened the refrigerator door this morning, the cabbage called loudly, and I responded positively. Tasty, nutritious.

And now I am buoyed to accomplish much, to help others, to live abundantly as the artist I am and I aspire to become. Special blessings today to family — especially the two segments of my McAlpin family mourning the loss of loved ones — and to my nearby and far-flung friends. Peace.


Living into the circle: QWL

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” – words attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1908 – 1990) and translated to “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

True. As the self-proclaimed poster child for fat-to-fit, with congratulations, high regard, and apologies to Marshall Ramsey, et al, I write today toward closing the circle to my personal and earliest-ever-remembered dieting/releasing the pounds strategy.

From my previously posted “detox, cleanse, & choosing a lifestyle,” I’m happy to report that I released about eight pounds – trouble is, five of those were muscle pounds, and that’s not good; but the loss buoys me no less. I’ve broken one of those “milepost weight barriers,” and I can advance.
Now I’m on to yet another nutrition plan, under the able supervision of Enhanced Wellness, and – Voila! – it’s essentially the same diet I followed four decades ago, successfully and happily though not as healthfully.

For many months, except for interruptions of vacation, holidays, and detox/cleanse, I’ve done the FirstLineTherapy® Therapeutic Lifestyle Program, which promises to “dramatically reduce your risk of chronic diseases.” Those chronic bad-guys-of-accepted-everyday-living include high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Please, God: I don’t want any of those diseases, ever!

Now that I’ve successfully transitioned to a new phase of my healthy lifestyle, and now that I’ve completed the protocol scientifically designed to provide nutritional support for healthy metabolic function, specifically targeting the gastrointestinal-neuroendocrine-immune system, I’m ready for a new program.

Turns out that program’s almost exactly what I practiced during and for about 10 years after college, sometimes more successfully than not. Kelly Engelmann sent me home Wednesday with three dozen single-spaced pages titled the “Empower U Get Fit Plan.” Words of motivation, detailed information on how the program works, foods and beverages to eat and to avoid, suggested menus, and pages plus pages of recipes. Over the past two days, I’ve carefully hole-punched and bound those pages into a green three-ring binder with a custom-designed cover page that includes the motivational blurb from Girlfriend Susan Marquez: “Doing It For The ‘Holy S***! You Got Hot.” We all need inspiration, and that works for me.

Beyond, I’ve read and studied the content, boiling it to the succinct and overarching daily plan: four proteins, six low-glycemic index vegetables, five ounces greens, only one cup of coffee or tea and half my body weight in ounces of water plus a “medical food” shake and one scoop of Fiber Boost after dinner. The unstated protocol also involves snacks both morning and afternoon to avoid “sugar slump.”

So, I’ve thought about it and planned menus and shopping lists only to finally realize this morning – and thank goodness I can still remember some things from my early days! This is essentially the high-protein diet I did in the 70s. Created by Irwin Maxwell Stillman, MD, in 1967, the diet gained fame as “The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet” and featured a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. My goodness, I could drop 30 pounds a month on that regimen! Can I still? We’ll see. I’ll call it my QWL diet.

Knowing I can do the QWL diet, except for a VERY few planned lapses to enjoy fruit-of-the-vine, I also know I must ramp up the exercise, and I have a new tool to help me do that, too. Yes, I’m investing in me.
My sister (sister-in-law if you must quibble) got one for her birthday and sings the praises of FitBit One. The company promises their family of products can motivate users “to stay active, live better, and reach goals.” MizrizBaboo’s definitely in!

Yesterday marked my first fling with my own FitBit, and I’ll officially start the QWL Sunday or Monday – more to come on progress after the next official weigh-in on tax day, April 15. Today I’m off to The Club to resume treadmill time, to get in my 10,000 steps today!

More later, but let me know about your health and nutrition efforts. And, oh, help me get the word out about You Can Fix The Fat From Childhood – & Other Heart Disease Risks, Too; we all could have avoided this and must assure our grandchildren do!

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Detox, cleanse, & choosing a lifestyle

Coffee – celebrating Day 22 and 23 of my 21-day detox and cleanse effort with cups of hot, strong coffee. Ahhhhhhh.

Going first for the coffee surprised even me. Surely, I would kill for a food or beverage with more obviously sinful properties!

For 21 days, I forewent “foods to avoid:” high sugar, syrup-packed, and artificial fruits and juices; corn, canned vegetables in sauces, and soy; refined flour and gluten-containing grains; peanuts and soy; milk and dairy-based products; fats except extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and nut oils, except peanut; beverages beyond purified water, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices and organic green or herbal tea; processed condiments; and eggs, fish and shellfish, non organic meats, fried foods, and all artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Partnered in the detox/cleanse with fellow writer friend Susan Marquez, I started with a three-day fast. We “held hands” and bolstered each other’s efforts via email, Facebook, and phone calls. For the first three days, we had no solid food. Instead, every 10 or 15 minutes we sipped what I called our “jungle juice,” a mixture of purified water or organic green tea, Grade B organic maple syrup, and organic lemon or lime juice. Sounds awful, tastes fairly good. And except for sinking spells near the end of days one and three, not terribly much hunger!

Why did we choose to do this intensive program? The protocol is scientifically designed to provide nutritional support for healthy metabolic function, specifically targeting the gastrointestinal-neuroendocrine-immune system. All this we accomplished under the supervision of Enhanced Wellness.

Clinic Provider & Owner Kelly Engelmann explained: “This three-week elimination diet can help clients avoid commonly antigenic foods that might otherwise cause inflammation and blood sugar issues, including adrenal gland physiology. Secondly, by eating a whole-food diet, clients will likely have an easier time consuming glycemically balanced meals, which can support a healthy blood sugar balance. Lastly, after the three-week elimination diet, many report having an improved relationship with food and fid it easier to comply with a healthy diet.”

The next seven days we consumed nutritional supplements sold as Core Restore BT, a powder-based drink mixed with purified water, Alpha Base capsules, and PhytoCore capsules. On Days Three through Seven, we added vegetables only. Fortunately, the Core Restore kit came with a patient guide that gave both a solid list of foods that increase detoxification and tasty recipes. Finally, we could add fruits, grains, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil as well as organic beef and poultry; I decided to forego the meat.

So what happened on Day 22? I had coffee: hot, strong, black coffee, decaf. But it did not taste nearly as delicious as I had anticipated. Day 23 I added some caffeine. Still, not so wonderful. Have my tastebuds changed? Independently, both Susan and I decided to continue the whole food, clean eating routine. This is a lifestyle, a choice, a deliberate decision to eat foods that benefit bodies for good health.

Did we lose weight? Probably yes, but that’s really not the point. The objective was to position ourselves for a comprehensive diet, lifestyle, exercise, and supplement program designed to support healthy metabolic function. How much damage can a few cups of coffee do? A glass or two of wine on occasion? And how much better will we be with exercise added?

Time will tell, and MizrizBaboo will report more progress in a few weeks.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

My starring role on stage came early: fifth grade at Mize Elementary School, Etoyle Glisson’s Class. Mrs. Glisson her very own self wrote the play, “I Wish I Were Single Again,” which starred my “boyfriend” of the time. Harold was the quintessential Boy Next Door, and he really did live “next door” to my family’s dairy farm in rural Smith County, Mississippi.

No surprise that he got the starring role: without doubt, his dark black hair and blue eyes plus robust body earned him “most handsome” status. And he was also just plain nice. We rode the school bus together, started piano lessons together, got the mumps together. In real life, I think I had him.

But on stage, I competed with girlfriend classmates to catch his eye as Harold “interviewed” us prospective brides. My strong suit, ominous though I never then recognized it as such, touted my culinary capabilities. Strolling in from stage left to Harold’s prominent position center stage, I wore a frilly new apron my mother had sewn and carried a cup-shaped mixing bowl with a solid handle, one unbroken egg inside, and an egg  beater in my right hand.

Approaching the desired suitor, I winked and confided to the audience, “Everybody knows that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” Great laughs from the audience, but no cigar from the could-have-been boyfriend. Nope; he chose the cutest little red-haired girl in the world. And I went back to the kitchen for more practice.

In the 50-plus years since that inauspicious start, my culinary skills have improved more than a little, and to this day, I court best from the kitchen. A good ol’ boy I dated in the 70’s was amazed that the rice I cooked to accompany Sweet-And-Sour-Sausage did not stick to itself. Another friend said if he’d known the sweet cream I used for Bourbon Milk Punch could taste that good he would never have left the farm. R. Livingston feasted on many char-grilled chicken breasts during our courtship but firmly announced post-wedding and after dubbing me MizrizBaboo that he would never again eat another grilled chicken tit, and he did not. Current man-of-my-heart suggests we’ll dine in my widow’s kitchen instead of buying $550 per couple tickets to an upcoming fund-raising dinner – says the decision has nothing to do with the price of admission and everything to do with my Crawfish Pie and Bread Pudding With Whiskey Sauce.

Oh, how I do love to cook. And eat. And drink. And not gain more but actually lose excess pounds. That’s what love’s got to do with it. Loving to cook and eat but, more, also loving to be healthy and – dare I say it? – hot as a quasi-cougar once more on the dating stage.

As the co-author for what could become the go-to source for families who want to ensure heart-health for parents and children, You Can Fix The Fat From Childhood – & Other Heart Disease Risks, Too, and also as a “poster child” via VIP Jackson for Enhanced Wellness, I choose to cook healthy fare for myself and all guests who dine with me.

Though I myself will start an intensive, three-week dietary detoxification program tomorrow, I’m pleased to offer you a favorite vegetable dish that can serve as the main course with a great-greens-salad or as a side for such a low-fat protein as grilled or baked boneless-and-skinless chicken breast. Many variations exist and I most often clean, chop, and toss in the ingredients handy from my fridge, but here’s the River Roads Recipes II version for Ratatouille – thanks to contributor Mrs. Oran Ritter. This is the basic from which I vary.


1 medium eggplant [she says peeled; I don’t]

2 zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices

2 teaspoons [sea] salt

½ to 1 cup olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 green [bell] peppers, cut into thin strips

2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves [I use more], pressed

3 tomatoes, peeled and diced [I use canned, diced]

Black pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon basil, fresh if possible

½ teaspoon bouquet garni or ¼ teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning or ¼ teaspoon parsley

½ teaspoon McCormick’s Salad Supreme seasoning

Toss eggplant and zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and let stand 30 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels. Heat ¼ to ½ cup olive oil in large skillet and lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining oil to skillet; cook onions and green peppers until tender. Stir in garlic. Put tomatoes on top; cover and cook 5 minutes. Gently stir in eggplant, zucchini, and remaining seasonings. Simmer, covered, until desired tenderness. Uncover and cook 5 minutes, basting with juices from bottom of pan. Serve hot or cold. Serves 8 to 10.

Let me know how you like it!

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Southern Writers: “Eat My Valentine”

You are cordially invited by the She Writes Southern Writers
DATES: February 8-12

A handful of our ladies are going to serve up recipes they love to serve to loved ones, from romantic repasts to family favorites :

February 8Patricia Neely-Dorsey – Peach cobbler

February 9Sally Whitney – Pecan pie, and scalloped oysters

February 10: NancyKay Wessman – Ratatouille

February 11: Amy Neftzger – “Broken” Rice Krispie Hearts

February 12: Trisha Faye –  Dr. Pepper Pork Chops and Pecan Broccoli.


We’re stopping the tour on February 12 to give y’all time to buy ingredients so you can try them too!


One person will be picked at random from all the comments left during the tour to be eligible to win the “Grand Tour” prize donated by author/editor Zetta Brown. With every comment you leave during the tour you increase your chances!

Zetta will be offering a food-inspired “surprise” prize to one person who leaves a “thought-felt” comment during the tour. This means the comment needs to have some “meat” to it. It cannot be just a one word comment like “Great” or “Yum” or “Thanks” or “Great! Thanks for the yummy recipe!” To receive the prize, when chosen, the winner must provide their legal name and address. It will NOT be shared with anyone or put on any mailing list. It’s only to facilitate shipping the prize.

Good luck, have fun, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day

Forty Years & Four Months

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Observations based on scientific evidence gathered over time lacks the punch of “Forty Years & Four Months,” and “Lessons Learned from the Bogalusa Heart Study” never seemed quite as sexy as “You Can Fix The Fat From Childhood – & Other Heart Disease Risks, Too.”

Four months advanced from previous post, Mizrizbaboo continues to tout the new book. You can buy it here:, or you can order it from Amazon. With self-confidence and a solid sense of humor and, you might even ask your independent bookseller for a copy; promotional information went to about three million bookstores, but who knows whether any bought in to helping sell the book that could become the go-to source for individuals who want and need to lose weight, for people who need information about obesity related to heart diseases, for families who need insight and inspiration to prevent early disability and death from heart disease?

Reviewers like the book.

MPB’s “Southern Remedy” host and University of Mississippi Medical Center professor Dr. Rick deShazo said the book “is must reading for every parent, grandparent, teacher and other caregiver attempting to raise healthy children in our fat, sugar, salt-rich food environment. Weight control is not only essential for good health, but is achievable when children and adults understand the implications of bad choices and have a toolset to make good ones. This book provides both. I highly recommend it and suggest it be shared with all friends and family interested in stopping our epidemic of obesity related bad health and early diabetes.”

Author and book reviewer Vicki Liston of New York likes the book, too: “Authors Dr. Gerald S. Berenson and NancyKay Sullivan Wessman, MPH, utilize their extensive wealth of knowledge gained from the Bogalusa Heart Study and lay out the facts in an organized fashion and in understandable language. The book’s format ensures that the reader gets exactly what they need to implement a healthier lifestyle without overwhelming them with hundreds of pages, difficult medical terminology, or extended explanations. You can literally pick it up, read it in a day, and get started on the road to better health right away. Dr. Berenson and Wessman write with an authoritative yet playful tone – they may be medical professionals with years and years of practical experience but they are also relatable and likable. They convey intelligence, empathy, and encouragement, and I felt like I was getting the best advice from true experts in the field.”

Producing the book took some seven years – well, 40 years going all the way back to the beginning of the Bogalusa Heart Study. Berenson began the Study in 1972 at Louisiana State University as a national Specialized Center of Research. The study continues through Tulane University and National Institutes of Health funding. BHS remains the only long-term cardiovascular, community research program in the world in which both African American and Caucasian individuals have consistently participated from early childhood through adulthood and middle life into old age. The Study encompasses clinical, epidemiologic, and experimental programs on atherosclerosis, essential hypertension, and diabetes as they relate to later coronary and hypertensive heart disease – and also how these begin in childhood. Before, no comprehensive examination of all children in a total biracial (black and white) community had been undertaken with this detail.

Why seven years? Most of the data already existed and a first-attempt draft had emerged in the late 1980’s.  A New York-based writer revealed Berenson’s findings of increasing obesity and “superobesity” (morbid obesity) among youngsters two decades before most people observed the bulge, the beginning of The Obesity Epidemic. America’s children even then were growing fatter, not fitter.

Berenson and Wessman connected in 2005 and dug out the old manuscript, buried years earlier upon the demise of its writer. Through various creative yet scientific-sensitive revisions to the original draft, the co-authors finally agreed in early 2012 that the work met their aim to write a book that can help families achieve healthier lifestyles, lose weight if needed, and prevent the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“Why even write, much less self-publish, a book like this?” Berenson asked. “We have been at it for over four decades. We practice clinical medicine and see the ravages of heart disease. We know the cost. We see and have endured the emotional trauma. We have done the research and are beginning to understand prevention. We can’t cure heart disease or prevent death – that is the natural course of living. But we can delay that eventuality and perhaps improve quality of life.”

With his determination to spread the word about primordial prevention – knowing about and following healthy lifestyles before bad risk factors begin and result in heart disease and such related issues as diabetes – and Wessman’s knowledge of the publishing industry, the two turned the carefully crafted and neatly polished manuscript into a self-published book. They’ve only just begun.

The real reason to write a book is not publication but actually getting people to read the book. That’s where Mizrizbaboo fits, having announced publication four months ago and now revving the marketing engines to get the word out about the book’s messages and availability. Despite the title, this book offers not a diet of nutrition and exercise but a style of deliberate health-conscious living.

“You Can Fix The Fat From Childhood – & Other Heart Disease Risks, Too” can guide your family to discover risk factors and understand how you can avoid or reduce the effects of those risks through childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and the late years of life. Adults can learn to change the health of children and teens positively before disease becomes an issue. Importantly, children can learn to achieve a healthy existence for life!

Reclaiming optimum health – losing extra pounds to achieve “normal” weight – requires a complex recipe of attitudes and actions. Losing weight can feel like hard work and involved change; it’s not fast or easy, but Mizrizbaboo is doing it and you can, too!

Reporting benchmarks, continuing

Two big achievements this week ― well, three, if  celebrating the 37th anniversary of my 27th birthday on September 5th counts as a big achievement.

  • Yesterday’s weigh-in at Enhanced Wellness revealed I’ve finally dropped 60 pounds of scale weight: hooray for me! OK. But that’s not how the nurses see it. They look at fat pounds and muscle pounds, and I also have begun to not only understand but strive to reach goals based on that scale. For now, though, 60 pounds is 60 pounds, and I claim it! All four pounds a month for this trip, which started in April 2011.
  • And, drum roll please, “the book” nears completion. Two months ago, I wrote about the business of developing a book, my book with and for Dr. Gerald S. Berenson, founder and principal investigator for 40 years of the internationally famous Bogalusa Heart Study. I announced the title first here and posed a question: You Can Fix The Fat From Childhood ― & Other Heart Disease Risks, Too. Will that stand out in a world of 211,000 self-published books in the past year? Is that really the title? The book deals with fatness as one of the top six contributors in children toward development of adult heart disease. Fat’s a potential killer.

As I said then, I know from personal experience and observation that most people who are overweight or obese forever seek the sure-fire formula, the magic bullet to lose excess weight and fit the Western world’s ideal body image: slim, trim, toned, healthy. To entice some of those other fat people as buyers and readers of our book could be huge! To encourage myself is big.

So, tell me: will this sell?

Berenson’s 40 years of research show that individuals can learn about and practice behaviors that result in appropriate body weight for good health. Learning to adopt healthy lifestyles – that’s prevention! His hope is that prevention beginning in childhood will become an acceptable and common practice. Through that, individuals and families can address quality of life from its origin and, maybe, extend quality to the end of life.

His intent to push primordial prevention ― prevention before bad risk factors begin and result in heart disease and related diseases, like diabetes ― and mine to both contribute to public health and realize financial gain, well.  .  . We are here.

Already available at the publisher’s website,, and soon from other online and (we pray!) brick-and-mortar booksellers, check it out!

Will you visit, buy, read, recommend? Good, not-so-good, awful – let me know! Future posts likely will feature excerpts, certainly a review of some lessons learned, and probably some recipes that can help you and me fix the fat – recipes for what I call “attitude and action,” recipes for learning to like exercise and for preparing “Hero” food, another concept I’ll discuss more later.

Thanks for reading; please leave your card or a comment!