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Posts tagged ‘weight loss’

Your New Normal

For the longest time I’ve struggled to find the right way to convey the idea of what it takes to go from living an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one. I found it the other day from an unlikely source.

I was sitting in my kinesiology class and we were talking about upper motor neuron lesions, and brain plasticity. My instructor said that people with these kinds of injury don’t get normal back, they get a kind of new normal.

While weight loss and fitness are COMPLETELY different from spinal cord injury or head trauma, the same idea does apply. If you want to get fit, you have to make a new normal. It is truly the concept of not dieting, but changing your eating habits for life. It isn’t going to the gym for a quick fix January first, and dropping out by February, but rather swapping post meal tv for a walk. It is making new choices at the grocery store, the restaurant, in our leisure activities and our social events.

We are the product of the sum total of our daily activities. If that involves more in than out, we gain weight. More out than in, we lose it. So, we have to make a new normal that pares down the in, while increasing the out. Every choice we make is part of creating the new normal.

The analogy to recovery from brain or spinal cord injury goes a bit further. Just as you would not get up out of bed and walk a week after suffering such a condition, but rather you would struggle, and work and have triumphs and setbacks, so it is with creating a new lifestyle for yourself. You set yourself on the path, and you cannot even see the destination at first. You just make one choice, then another. Eventually you pick up steam, the earlier choices are cemented in, and you layer on the new ones, until finally, one day, someone asks you, “how did you do it?”

If there is anything I hope you gain from this analogy is to change the mindset of quick weight  loss – THERE IS NO WAY TO DO THAT AND BE HEALTHY. They are starting to refer to the “Biggest Loser phenomena” because the people who lost weight on the show really struggle to keep it off. It has to be slow, incremental, permanent changes.

If anyone is offended by my analogy, I apologize, and I hope I’ve made it clear I am not saying the two situations are in any way the same in seriousness or pain.

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.

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.

Is Your Scale Lying to You?

How do you tell if your scale is telling the truth?

scaleIt isn’t too difficult. First and foremost, dramatic gains or losses. Unless you are Michael Phelps, you are not going into a 3,500 calorie deficit in one day. Similarly, while you might have gorged yourself last night, it would take a real effort to eat that same 3,500 calories in one evening. So, if you see your scale going up and down by pounds in a day, it isn’t fat that’s the answer, it’s water.The reason they suggest 1-2 lbs. a week as a reasonable weight loss amount is that, for most people, that is all that is truly achievable of real fat loss. People love to poo-poo the “calories in/calories out” advice, but the math doesn’t change. Just how you can get there does.

Water, Water Everywhere

Now for that pesky water. It is the culprit behind those dramatic weight loss diets and why people get discouraged when they can’t keep those big numbers going. I want you to do something for me tomorrow, if you are weighing yourself. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, right after you pee. Now, drink two big glasses of water and weigh yourself again. Do I need to say anything after that? There’s your proof.

Carbs Hold Water

The reason that people on low carb diets appear to lose multiple pounds in their first week is that carbs hold water. You store extra carbs as glucose (glycogen) in your body and with it, water. Strip that out, and *bang*, “I lost 5 lbs. my first week”. Of course, once you start eating carbs again, those 5 lbs. are the first ones back. It’s also why you gained two pounds after a night on the town eating or drinking carbs.

The only other dramatic weight loss/gain factor is how much food do you have on board. In other words, what is in your digestive system? Again, much of this is water, but if you haven’t pooped in a while…. You get the idea. This is also why people appear to lose lots of weight on quick loss diets. Once you empty your digestive system and don’t refill it, that can be 3-5 lbs. right there.

Where to Find the Truth?

First, remember the scale is only a tool. Like all tools, it isn’t the only, or even the best one. It’s only as good as how it’s used. If it is controlling your life, don’t use it.

Second,if you are a frequent weigher, you’ll see a range. I don’t recommend frequent weigh ins, as they can lead to mood swings and eating disorders, but in case you are, you’ll see the numbers fluctuate daily. Your true “weight” lies somewhere in that range. If the range starts to go up, or if it never gets down to where it used to, you’re gaining weight. If the lowest number is a new one, and it pops up over and over, you are losing.

Third, weigh yourself at the same time of day, under the same conditions. I recommend naked, first thing in the morning. Your clothes can weigh anywhere from 1-5 lbs. Your water content should be relatively stable first thing as well.

Fourth, no matter what the scale says, how are your clothes fitting? It is one of those truisms that if you are strength training, you’ll see the clothes change before the scale does. Muscle weighs more than fat, and if you are eating to fuel your workouts, you are holding more carbs/water than before.

Fifth, what direction is it heading over time? Have you seen new numbers that you’ve never seen before? High or low?

I hope this helps, especially if you are panicking. Remember, when it comes to weight loss, you need to take the long view. One spike or dip means nothing. It’s like the stock market. Daily fluctuations mean nothing, it’s the overall trend that you need to look at.

 

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.

What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance

This is a snippit of an article I read today, I can’t say it better:

“All Natural”

As businesses compete for eyeballs at the grocery store, they increasingly rely on aggressive marketing practices to entice shoppers to open their wallets. Food makers are especially prone to over-exaggerating nutritional benefits of their products for a simple reason — people are willing to shell out big bucks for it. The natural and organics food business brought in $81.3 billion in 2012, up 14% from the year before.

The problem is that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture actively polices “organic” claims on food labels, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t gotten around to clearly defining the term “natural.” As a result, food makers are free to slap the label on their products, but consumers can’t be sure the food is actually “from nature” as claimed. Arguably, any food, no matter what garden or local greenhouse it came from, is “processed” the minute it’s put in a box and shipped to stores.

It’s not that these foods are inherently unhealthy, but the fact that they’re often being sold at a premium and marketed as “better than” other alternatives is what irks regulators and consumers alike.

If you want truly natural foods, your best bet is to look for “100% organic” labels. By law, organic means foods weren’t made using pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered ingredients. But make sure to look for “100%” on the label — the USDA allows products to be labeled organic even if they aren’t entirely made using organic ingredients.

If you’re just worried about eating overly processed foods, the folks at EatRight.org have a nice set of guidelines on what ingredients to keep an eye out for on food labels.

“Weight loss fads”

The $61 billion weight-loss industry is also rife with opportunities for marketers to over-promote the “fat-blasting” power of certain products — from vitamins and supplements to exercise equipment and so-called “fitness-wear.” In January, the FTC fined a handful of health and beauty companies — including L’Occitane and Sensa — $34 million for allegedly making false weight-loss claims about products such as slimming body lotions and powdered food that was supposed to make people eat less.

If a weight-loss product promises it makes losing weight “quick, easy and effortless!” chances are it’s a sham. Anyone who’s ever killed themselves on the treadmill to shed a pound a week will tell you there are only two ingredients needed for weight loss: sweat and discipline, both of which are free.

The FTC cautions against trusting “before and after” photos in ads as well, as there’s no easy way to prove their legitimacy. See its guidance on “Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads” before buying into any weight loss product sales pitch. They also have a good Health & Fitness buying guides with tips on how to spot misleading advertising.

“Privacy”

For Snapchat, which has attracted millions of users based on its promise that the photo messages they send “disappear forever” and that their information wasn’t being collected, the FTC’s ruling is particularly jarring.

We could write volumes on the issue of consumer privacy in the age of Big Data (and we have). In a nutshell, we’d take any company’s promises to keep your personal data completely private with a large grain of salt.

If you carry a smartphone, chances are at least some of your apps are tracking you in some way. You should take time to adjust your privacy settings in each app by tapping into your phone’s privacy settings. The latest iPhone and Android updates also offer a new feature that stops apps from using ad tracking, which allows them to tailor ads to you based on your browsing history, but you’ll need to turn it on yourself. To do so, tap your “settings” icon, scroll down to ‘privacy’ and find the tab labeled ‘advertising’. Turn ‘limit ad tracking’ on.

via What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance.

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.

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