Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Posts tagged ‘diet’

Scrooged

man shaking his finger at you.

You are hereby absolved from your Christmas baking. Yup, you don’t have to do it. I know what you are thinking, “I was enjoying this lady’s blogs, but now I’m wondering if I’m reading stuff from a nut job. I mean, here it is August, why are you talking about Christmas now?” Well, I figure if I say it now, you’ll have time to let it digest. Plus, if I say it any closer to Christmas, I’ll probably get hate mail.

So back to the Christmas baking. Either you are the Nana, MeeMaw, Gigi, Grandma, Granny, Mom, Aunt or other producer of the family Christmas goodies, or you are the recipient. If you are the recipient, pass this on to the producer. You know who they are! They are the martyrs who tell you, “I was up till midnight last night making three dozen pfefferneuse, two dozen chocolate chip and two batches of kringles.” They are the ones who bring the huge plates of cookies to the office parties or give them as gifts. They strive to outdo each other as the preeminent cookie supplier. Points are given for both quantity and quality. They wouldn’t dare have less than three kinds of cookies on hand for any occasion from November 30 to the end of January.

They are also the ones who complain that they can’t lose weight, or they gained x number of pounds over the holidays. So stop it. Just stop.

I can hear the screams of outrage now. “I can’t, my family expects it.” “What fun are the holidays without goodies?” “Lighten up, you have to live.”

So how serious are you about your health? Do you really want to lose weight, or do you want to just complain without really doing anything? How about that family? Do you really want to set your children and grandchildren up to be overweight as well? Do you seriously want to train them to be unhealthy? It scares me how we have this mindset to give our children food that is bad for them, simply because it is not making them fat at the moment. What do you think happens when they stop growing? Also, if that food is unhealthy for you, why do you think it is any less so for children? While it is a topic for its own blog post, we are training our children to be unhealthy by giving them the white flour, sugar, salt, processed meats, and fats that we know we shouldn’t eat. Our society is a bit schizoid as well in its competing beliefs that we should party for two months and not gain weight. Generally, people gain 1-5 lbs over the holidays, and never lose it. Half of that is alcohol, so there is another part of the equation, but telling people to not drinking is even less popular than telling them to lay off the baked goods!

If you can’t stop, may I suggest modifying. Instead of baking two or three kinds of cookies, bake one batch of one kind. Do not bake another till the first is gone. When you have multiple kinds, people feel obligated to take one of each, encouraging over-consumption.

Think about it. All the time you save not baking all that stuff will give you time to go for a walk or to the gym. If all this is causing you to have a glassy eyed look of horror pasted on your face, well, you have a few months to adjust to the idea. And when you come out of hibernation in the spring a few pounds lighter instead of heavier, you’ll thank me. Really, you will.

Advertisements

Your Weekly Pep Talk

I know some of you out there are really struggling with your weight. I don’t like to make weight the main issue, health is far more important, and while there is a correlation between the two, most people focus on weight for appearances. I like to refer to it as healthy eating. Healthy eating usually leads to weight loss, since most people don’t get too overweight on eggplant and okra, even if it is fried.

I’m here to give you a pep talk.

All the right information is already out there, it’s just so much easier to succumb to the “lose weight fast” garbage. So I’m just going to give you another reinforcement of the good stuff so you can renew your efforts this week.

Reassess

What are the sticking points for you? Quantity? Feeling hungry? Favorite foods you don’t want to give up? Psychological need to treat yourself? Everyone is different. Take a piece of paper and write down your problem areas. Be specific. Write “Every night I REALLY want a bowl of cereal. I can’t go to sleep without it”. Or, “Going out to eat makes me so happy, I can’t give it up.” “I won’t or can’t cook.”

Make a plan

When it comes to food, planning is everything. Like spending, it is the impulse items that get you every time. Even if you don’t count calories, you need to control portions, and decide  what you are going to eat when you are hungry ahead of time. Plan breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus any snacks you need. If you need a good quantity of food, plan to add a large salad to each meal- yes, you can eat greens for breakfast. Really clamp down on the starch and fatty foods, and decide how you can increase your vegetable and fruit intake. Swap hot dogs for fat free ham or turkey, add 2x as much lettuce, tomato and onions to your sandwich.

Some things are a given, if you are still eating white bread or pasta, swap it out for whole wheat immediately. No one should be eating white bread any more. Make sure your pasta and potato servings are 1/2 cup. Put that potato in your one half measuring cup. If it won’t fit, eat half. Buy one box of “white wheat pasta”, whole wheat or Barilla’s protein plus. Cook your pasta, rice and potatoes ahead of time and reheat- it makes more of the starch resistant, meaning it won’t raise your blood sugar as high. A lot of starches are empty calories, and cause bouncing blood sugar that makes you hungrier sooner. Empty calories mean they don’t have any nutritional value other than calories.

If you can’t or won’t cook, read menus and labels carefully. All restaurants are supposed to have their calorie counts available. Choose carefully and stick with it. Be ready to ask for a “to-go” box early in the meal and place 1/2 in it, or split it, if the meal is over your calorie limit. Remember the 1/2 cup for starches? Most restaurant potatoes are double that, so don’t eat the whole thing. Many supermarkets have salad bars and take out items, again, choose carefully. Cheese should be a condiment. Olives are high in fat, hence calories, so go sparingly on them. Treat breaded and fried things like the plague.

Address your needs.

If you are a sweets lover, don’t sit here and say “I just won’t eat them.” You can try that, but it won’t work for long. Instead, find healthier sweets by making or baking your own, or buying less harmful ones. Portion control on sweets is hard for people. My husband and I will cut a Klondike bar in half to make it more reasonable. Make sure you are eating till full of the good food, so you aren’t eating sweets when you are hungry. Don’t keep “trigger” foods in your house. I can’t have trail mix in my house. Every time I do, I eat 2-3 portions a day. Find a sweet that satisfies you without causing binging.

I hope something I’ve said here resonates with you, and that you will feel empowered to make some constructive changes or get back on track. Eating isn’t black and white, it is a continuum. Don’t get discouraged, at any point you can improve, and that’s all you need to do.

Laurel’s Rules for Healthy Eating

Normally, I’m not big on “rules”.

However, people seem to like them. I have to admit, I feel so strongly about some things, I would have to almost consider them rules. Here is a list of the “rules” I eat by.

1) The #1 vegetable rule

This one is a no-brainer for me. If possible, I try to make the focus of my meals the vegetables. There is no downside to this. It keeps your weight under control, maximizes your nutrient intake and gives you lots of healthy fiber. In fact, it’s what inspired me to post tonight. I made salmon patties for dinner, and served them with a salad, as well as roasted veggies. Three quarters veggies, one quarter protein. When I successfully follow this rule, we usually have a variety of vegetable dishes at the same meal, making it feel like a feast.

2) Make in bulk to make it easy

Again, going back to tonight’s dinner, I had previously washed and torn a head of romaine lettuce, making it like the bagged stuff in the store. Yesterday, I made a variation on a Caprese salad with tomato, onion, basil and ranch dressing. I took the leftover tomato salad and put it over some of the lettuce, making the easiest salad ever. I cooked up half a head of cabbage while I was cooking the salmon patties, that we can either eat as is, or use for cabbage lasagna or stuffed cabbage. Try and make enough of anything you cook to go for the next meal(s). If you might get sick of it, freeze it.

3) Treat starch like a condiment.

I’m not anti carb, but if it isn’t a vegetable, go lightly. For example, never eat spaghetti without a big salad, and make it a small portion of pasta , same with the meatballs, compensated with lots of sauce, preferably with tomatoes added.

4) Try to make it homemade, or half the portion.

I’m specifically thinking of coleslaw, potato salad or other quasi-healthy foods. The store bought kind are generally swimming in dressing and sparing on the vegetables.

5) One starch per meal.

Many of you might consider this sacrilege, but if you are having pasta, skip the bread. Ditto a potato. In fact, I usually only eat bread if I am having a sandwich or if the bread is the focus of the meal some other way.

6) Go ahead and treat yourself, but be honest.

A treat is something out of the ordinary. It isn’t a treat if you go out to breakfast, then have a desert after lunch. Or if you go out to eat three times a week. An occasional treat won’t mess up your eating, but you have to be honest in the frequency of your treats. If you are going with frequent, they have to be small.

7) Consider the impact of what you are eating.

Sure, we all are influenced by tastes and cravings. But ask yourself, “Is this food going to benefit me, or make me sorry?” Most of us have a good idea of what’s right. Why eat something that you’ll be sorry for? This starts in the store. You can’t succumb to cravings if the junk food isn’t in your house.

I know I focus on food a lot on this blog. As soon as I tell people I’m a personal trainer, the conversation almost always veers towards weight control. The person often justifies their current eating pattern, then complains about their weight. Or, complains about their eating, but then offers reason why they can’t change. This post is incorporating facets of many of those conversations. You have to make consistent choices of what you eat if you want to be healthy. There are no other options.

The Truth Doesn’t Change

It’s harder and harder to blog lately, because I feel like I’m always saying the same things. The trouble is, I am. Why? Because the truth doesn’t change, despite what people say. If you are reading this and getting a visceral reaction of “What do you mean it doesn’t change? One week fat is bad, the next it’s good, etc.” Let me elaborate before you start ranting. Oh, you wouldn’t rant? Sorry, must just be me.

First, take everything you hear in the news with a grain of salt. If researchers do a study and find that omega-3’s have benefits that omega-6’s don’t, the media says “Omega-3’s good, omega-6’s bad”. Then the scientists do a study to see what the role of omega-6 is, and the media screams, “Omega-6 good for you.” When they do enough studies to see what ratio would be good, the media goes back to “Get rid of the omega-6 in your diet”. Research isn’t black and white, it’s nuanced. It leads you in a direction, it doesn’t usually hand complete answers on a silver platter. BTW, you do need both, but the American diet is lopsided.

However, certain facts crop up over and over. Olive oil good for you? Check. Vegetables the royal family of nutrition? Check. Processed food bad? Check. Red meat? Maybe not as horrible for you as we thought, but still not good.

I read three articles this morning. None of which had anything in them I didn’t already know. “5 Drinks You Had No Idea Were As Bad As (or Worse Than) Soda”. How many of you have been waiting for the Pumpkin Latte at your favorite coffee shop? I’ve been reading and saying “don’t drink your calories” for at least a decade.

9 Foods that Fight inflammation“. Ok, there was one surprise there, maple syrup. However, that still follows what I say about less processed foods. To get white sugar from cane juice, you have to remove anything remotely good. I use molasses as much as possible, as it adds flavor and still has minerals. Everything else on the list are pretty much standards that have been touted for years. inflammation is greatly impacted by your diet, and being overweight produces chronic inflammation. Get lean, eat your veggies, fish and whole grain, avoid sugar and white flour. Hmmmm, sound familiar?

“Foods that are healthier than Kale”. When you see this list, it’s all green leafy vegetables. Maybe that’s a hint? “Eat your vegetables” is what I repeat like a robot.

Why do I do this? Because the while the text of the message is out there, people aren’t incorporating it into their lives. I realize most people aren’t going to add spinach to their oatmeal, (yes, I do) but they can make an omelet with peppers and onions. No time? Sauté up a batch when you do have time and freeze or refrigerate in individual servings. Eggs take 30 seconds in the microwave. Still can’t do it? Have fruit instead. Just get off the white flour breakfast. And don’t tell me about all the protein, breakfast or granola bars. I have yet to find one with less than 12 g of sugar, and most have double that. Sugar is not good. Blend a smoothie instead. By now, you all know what to do. None of this should come as a surprise. When are you going to live it out? Want to go on a radical diet? Ok, ban deserts, pizza, hot dogs, and white flour. Don’t eat anything with added sugar ( I can’t do that, I love chocolate). Eat either fruit or vegetables with every meal. Make the major portion of each meal the vegetable. Radical enough? See how you feel in a month.

Don’t want to go on a radical diet? Fine, eat 1/2 a slice of pizza with sautéed vegetables on it and a large salad. Hate salad? Make a big batch of soup with tons of veggies and have a bowl of that first. Have to have that hot dog? try a whole wheat bun, smother it in onions. I love the sautéed onions and peppers, have that on it. Still avoid the white flour like the plague. Following that keeps you out of the bakery department, the cookie and cracker aisle, the soda and sweetened drinks, etc. Make the easy fixes first, then dig down and get more serious. Don’t forget to eat your beans.

Has the Whole World Gone…Sane?

Normally, I’m prompted to write a blog post by how nuts the subject of an article is. This time, to my great joy, I’m writing because there is some common sense. I’m talking about this article I read on Yahoo Shine. Just like the bible says, “can anything good come from Nazareth?”, I wondered when the title was “Celebrity Diet Craze That Doesn’t Sound So Crazy”. However, I had to eat my skepticism (mmm, yummy and low cal) after reading it, because there is nothing in it I disagree with. I can only vouch for what Andrea Howe, the author of the article says. I did not read the actual book.

The only thing I might quibble with a bit is that, according to Andrea, not measuring food is ok. I say that’s fine at first, and if you it is working for you. However, if you hit a plateau, or are not seeing any results, measuring can help you see where your calorie intake really is. While this style of eating is what I heartily endorse (endorse, endorse, can I endorse it again?), measuring and tracking calories is the only way to know how much you are eating. As a whole though, if you are “eating clean”, or not eating processed foods, with a concentration on fruits and vegetables, while you might not be a stick, you shouldn’t be very heavy. It takes ice cream, donuts and cake to really put the pounds on. Or lots of cheese and nuts, but most heavy people I know didn’t get that way on cheese and nuts.

So, go read the article and breathe a sigh of relief. For this five minutes there isn’t any nuttiness running around.

Is McDonalds the Devil Incarnate?

Can you tell I like controversial titles? Anyway, two things have happened to make me want to write about the icon of all that is wrong with the American diet. The first is the story about the teacher who lost weight eating nothing but Mcdonalds, the second was a friend who claimed that McDonalds puts cotton in their burgers. I’m no friend of Micky D’s, but I aim to be ruthlessly fair and honest. I would never recommend eating there, but you can eat there and still eat healthy.

As to the claim that McDonalds puts cotton in their meat, while it is theoretically possible, the odds are against it. On their website they claim:

We don’t use any binding ingredients. Our burger patties are made from 100% pure beef, with no binders or fillers.

Could they be lying? Sure, but then how did the person who is spreading the idea of cotton find out, and no one else did? In this sue happy society, McDonalds is too savvy to risk everything lying about what is in their food. If they did and it was proved, they’d be sued to the ends of the earth.

Lets assume for the moment that what they say is in their food is really what’s in it.

Is it evil? Is McDonalds really what’s wrong with us?

Did you watch Supersize Me? I loved the movie, since it played into my favorite tropes, that we are responsible for our choices, and that they do matter. Do I think that it was a fair presentation? No, it wasn’t meant to be. Remember the ossified french fries? Fry some at home and see if the same thing happens. Morgan Spurlock was trying to show what people are doing to themselves, and made McDonalds his scapegoat. He purposefully overate at every meal, and cut his exercise in half or less.

The Iowa teacher who lost weight eating at McDonalds did the opposite, he counted the calories, and made the healthiest choices available. He did also eat all the “bad stuff”, but kept the calories around 2,000 by balancing those choices. Here is one link to an article on his diet.

Here’s a quote about the details:

His students planned three meals a day for 90 days with a 2,000 calorie daily limit in mind. They did their best to stick to the daily recommended allowances for carbohydrates, protein, fat, and cholesterol.

Cisna was allowed to eat anything on the menu — even Big Macs and French fries — as long as he balanced out more fattening foods with lighter ones at other meals.

His favorite meal plan consisted of two Egg White Delight McMuffins, a maple oatmeal bowl and 1 percent milk for breakfast, followed by a grilled chicken salad, fruit parfait and apples for lunch. For dinner, he enjoyed a grilled chicken wrap meal, complete with fries and a diet soda.

Cisna also added exercise to his routine, walking 45 minutes a day, four to five days a week.

“Not everybody can lift weights. Not everybody can jog, but everybody can walk,” he said.

Of course, I would argue that everyone can lift weights, but that’s another article. He made many choices that fall within all good recommendations: oatmeal, apples, salads, chicken. Most importantly, he counted calories. Since they post theirs, it does make it easy to do the math. They do have quite a number of reasonable choices. However, if you have a big mac, fries and a shake, you’ve used up 1/2-2/3 of your daily calories. And, he’s a big guy. He can lose weight on 2,000 calories. I couldn’t, I would gain weight on that. So it isn’t as simple as it looks, and this is why you need to figure things out for yourself.

That isn’t the point, is it? The point is, McDonalds isn’t making us fat, we are. Twinkies aren’t making us fat, we are. Remember the guy that lost weight on the Twinkie diet? I went out to dinner with several couples, and watched people get the salad bar, appetizers, bread and an entrée, plus drinks. Most of them easily consumed most or all their daily calories in one meal. We weren’t at a fast food joint, and they were eating relatively healthy. Except the appetizers, those were  monstrosities of fat. It was just the quantities that were way out of line, and that counts.

I will say, over and over again, if losing weight is your goal, count calories, since calories count. Having said that, I’m convinced that for good health, what you eat is the most important. Dr. Katz, who wrote the article on the Twinkie diet makes a great point:

As for the changes seen in the lipid panel, these are likely by-products of weight loss per se. An excess of body fat is associated with increased inflammatory responses, and often, increased levels of insulin. Both inflammation and hormonal imbalances in turn affect cholesterol and other blood lipids. When body fat is lost, these effects are reversed — and improvements in blood lipids are likely.
The mistake is to think this means better health. For one thing, health is a composite of far more than BMI and LDL. For another, its relevant time horizon is far more distant than two months.

Severe illness of all kinds is associated with sudden drops in total cholesterol. Drug addiction, chemotherapy, cholera and advanced HIV are all associated with weight loss. Cancer rather predictably leads to declines in both weight and lipids as it advances. These associations are more than sufficient to show that health cannot be summed up by weight and lipids. An overwhelming body of research shows what dietary patterns do produce lasting good health — all emphasize wholesome, mostly plant foods direct from nature. None emphasizes Ho Hos.

Please take the time to read the whole article, all the points he makes are good. We want to see those markers change, but for the right reasons. We want to teach people to eat correctly, so they gain more than just weight control, they gain optimal health. By eating right, you are more likely to maintain a correct body weight, without having to count calories. I could lose weight by eating 1400 calories of straight chocolate a day, but that doesn’t mean I should do that.

I don’t think McDonalds is evil, and they do appear to be making real efforts to offer better choices, but it’s up to us to make those choices. They do offer a lot of really appalling choices, but so do every other restaurant, which is why I suggest not eating out if you want to lose weight. I live in Western New York, in a small town. We have two donut shops. We need two? What are you likely to pick at a donut shop? I don’t think it’s the egg white special. If you want to lose weight, you have to put effort into it. Plan you choices and stick to them.

It’s a New Year

Is losing weight part of your New Year’s Resolution? Was it part of last year’s? Are you trying to turn around years of habit, or possibly an entire lifetime? I’m here to encourage you.

Walk

Anything you do will help. Walk 30 minutes a day. Walk 15 minutes if you can’t make 30. Of course I’d like you to do more, but if you are doing nothing now, start doing something. There are many reasons to join a gym, but you don’t have to. Joining a gym gives you motivation, accountability, access to more equipment and exercises, and community, but if you are reluctant, don’t let that stop you from exercising.

Eat

Don’t snack. I don’t mean don’t eat, I just mean don’t eat snack food. There are very, very few good snack foods. If you buy something for the sole purpose of a snack, you are in all likelyhood sabatoging your diet. Protein bars, granola bars, etc, are LOADED with sugar or artificial sweeteners. The supermarkets are filled with snack items, and most have too much sugar, salt and fat. If you are hungry, eat real food. Need it to be portable and convenient? Carrots, celery, hard boiled eggs, cheese ( in moderation), fruit, sandwiches, Triscuits, and hummus are all easy choices.  A yogurt sunday, with plain lowfat yogurt, banana, walnuts and cranberries is 242 calories, and will keep you full for hours. I usually make two dishes for lunch, the yogurt sunday and a bean and rice dish. I eat one at 11:00, the other later, and I don’t get hungry, and everything I eat is benefiting my body. I will tell you if you like sardines, you are in luck, they are a great snack and one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Just don’t do it at the office, you won’t be popular.

Persist

You don’t go “on” or “off” a diet. You just eat better or worse. Persist in trying to eat better every day. Same with exercise. Try and throw something in every day, everywhere. Throw in an extra trip across the store, run up the stairs for no good reason, or shovel your neighbors walk.

Think

Need motivation? Do you know how many extra pounds you are carrying? Carry them. Find something that weighs that much and try and carry it. Please do this with caution if you are more than 15 lbs overweight, and don’t try it if you are more than 25 lbs overweight, unless you are trained in weight lifting. Just pick up something heavy, and realize you are carrying more than that every day, pounding your knees, making your back ache and causing you distress. Think about how much easier life will be without that extra weight.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: