Monthly Archives: December 2016

Want To Lose Weight? Just Be Kind

random act of kindnessThe new year is upon us along with the resolutions.  I heard on the news this morning that instead of the common exercise or weight loss resolution, many are choosing to focus on being a kinder person.  With all the tension from the election, no matter who you voted for, the past few months have created a lot of negative energy that continues to linger.  What a great way to tackle the negative news fog by lifting spirits through kindness.  And the irony in this is that by focusing on kindness, you might actually lose weight.

Kindness and Weight Loss Connection

Many of my clients struggle with negative self-talk like all-or-nothing thinking, reality distortion, or being overly self-critical.  This kind of negative energy can derail the best of healthy-eating intentions and lead to emotional eating.  This is how it happens:  The day starts off wrong with a late start due to a poor night’s sleep so breakfast is missed and no lunch is prepared to bring to work.  By lunch time, that person is famished and overcompensates for the missed breakfast by eating some sort of high-carb, high-fat, high-calorie fast food that leads to guilt feelings later on.  When that person gets home, the all-or-nothing, reality distorted, self-critical self-talk starts:   “Well, I’ve already ruined the day by eating all that junk at lunch, I may as well as eat these cookies and order a pizza for dinner.  I’m such a fat failure.”  Now, had that person decided to focus on executing a planned act of kindness to others, the positive energy from that could help with a better night’s sleep, brought contentment from bringing joy to another, and prevented excessive negative self-talk.  The chain of events instead might go like this:  good sleep, more clear-headed in the morning, more efficient use of time, time for breakfast, time to make lunch, fulfill an act of kindness, which leads to kinder self-talk, and so on….  Making lifestyle changes and breaking old unhealthy habits takes lots of mindfulness, kindness to both self and others.  The positive chain of events can be self-sustaining by focusing on being a kinder person to others and self.

Being Kind Creates Positive Energy

Barbara Frederickson, a psychologist who has done extensive research on the benefits of positive thinking, has a two-minute test you can take to assess your positivity ratio.  Her research has found when people have a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts they become more resilient to adversity, are able to change their thinking patterns and are able to accomplish more that they could ever imagine.  Can you imagine if one good act of kindness changes one’s perspective of food choices?  Instead of thinking, “I can’t eat this”, saying “eating more of this is going to help me lose weight!”  Changing perspectives can happen by being kinder.

Being Kind

I can think of no better way to being kinder than through doing one daily planned act of kindness.  It’s my resolution.  I’ve had the pleasure of being able to help out a friend more recently and I love how good it makes me feel.  Doing one kind act daily fills me with positive energy, lifts my spirits and carries over to other aspects of my life.  Some days it takes a bit more time to come up with an idea or it may take a bit more energy to fulfill, but the payback of witnessing someone’s contentment can really get me out of a rut in my thinking.

One good act of kindness done daily can create a self-perpetuating healthy mindset that can generate the flow of positive energy to fulfill your weight loss goals.  At the end of the day, as you are going to bed, think of how you can do an act of kindness tomorrow.  Thinking about all those positive possibilities as you prepare for sleep can change your brain patterns, make the world a better place, and even lose weight – one act of kindness at a time.

Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives.  Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word

Nutritional Vigilance Starts With These Simple Nutrition Steps

Eating healthy isn’t rocket science, but it can get you on a life trajectory of feeling and looking better.  There are simple nutrition steps you can follow to get you in orbit.  I often hear my clients say the steps need to be easy because they are either uncomfortable with meal preparation, don’t want to take the time or absolutely hate the concept of cooking.  With these kinds of conversations I emphasize that there are quick and easy meals and routines that can make this process easy.  The key is to keep a few essential ingredients always in stock and to shop with a list which includes these items.

Simple Nutrition Steps

A healthy meal should always combine lean protein, fiber and healthy fat.  With the right amount of each component, this magic combination will keep you feeling fuller longer, prevents your blood glucose from spiraling and keeps your energy levels high until the next meal.  There are simple nutrition steps that start with the shopping list below:

Grocery Shopping List

First, some important facts about food.  Most foods are a combination of the macro-nutrients protein, carbohydrates and fats.  Most are more of one macro-nutrient than the other.  For example salmon is high in heart healthy fats and is also a great source of protein.  Nuts are high in heart healthy fat but are also a good source of protein and fiber.  Cheese is a good source of protein, but it is very high in fat, especially the heart damaging saturated fat, which is why you want to focus on low-fat or moderate portions.  Beans are high in carbohydrates but also very high in fiber and have a reasonable amount of protein.   The fiber and protein prevents a spike in blood glucose unlike the “white” foods like rice, white bread and  boxed potatoes. Additionally, cutting back on foods high in fat, like cheese, oils and nuts, and eating more fiber especially from vegetables, will help you lose weight.

Other ingredients I always keep in stock and have on my shopping list are:

  • 2 quarts organic chicken broth
  • mustard (essentially no calories and a great addition to many recipes)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • garlic/onion powder

Putting The Puzzle Together In These Simple Nutrition Steps

The meal below is a great example of protein, fiber and healthy fat.  The protein is coming mainly from the sautéed scallops.  Fiber is coming from the half plate of veggies, the brown rice and the sliced peaches for dessert.  The healthy fat is coming from the canola oil the scallops were sautéed in and the olive oil the veggies were tossed in.

healthy plate

Simple and Quick Meals You Can Make From My Shopping List

Using my shopping list, here are some simple meals you can put together.

  1. Chicken Quesadilla                                                                                                                         Saute the chicken in canola oil (can handle a higher heat than olive oil).  Let cool and shred into pieces.  Place in whole grain wrap (like LaTortilla) along with shredded green cabbage, 2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup black beans and pour salsa and wrap up.
  2. Baked Salmon with broccoli and small sweet potato                                                                  Preheat oven to Bake 400.  Cut sweet potato into 3/4 ” pieces and broccoli in small branches.  Place in baking dish and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and small amount of salt and put in oven.  Place salmon (4-5 ounces per person) in greased pan.  Top with mustard, then sprinkle Panco or bread crumbs on top and put next to the veggies.  Bake for 15 minutes until salmon and veggies are done.
  3. Baked Haddock with cheese, spinach and brown rice.                                                                When I make rice, I usually make 3 times the amount and freeze the rest for another time or use it in another meal a couple of days later.  A serving of rice is 3/4 to 1 cup cooked per person.  Brown rice takes about 50 minutes to prepare.  Quinoa is a great alternative and only takes 20 minutes to make and is also higher in fiber and protein than rice.  In a greased square pan place 2 cups fresh pre-washed spinach per person.  Then place 5 oz of Haddock per person on top of the spinach.  Place one slice of light Swiss cheese per person, spread a thin amount of reduced fat mayo and sprinkle with Panco.  Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes.
  4. Chicken/Rice/Veggie Soup                                                                                                                    If you’ve prepared extra chicken and rice from the previous meals you can use them here. If not then put the uncooked chicken breasts and the brown rice in a large pot filled with about 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool.  Add 1 bag each of chopped broccoli, spinach and carrots and 1 can kidney beans and simmer for 15 minutes.  Shred the chicken and return to the pot.  Then add 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 quart chicken broth.  Then add a tbsp onion and garlic powder along with 1 tsp of salt and pepper.  Simmer for 15 minutes and serve with a slice of whole grain toast.
  5. Frittata                                                                                                                                                      I like to make this dish in a 12″ cast iron skillet.  Preheat oven to 400.  Take one dozen eggs and mix with one cup fat-free Greek yogurt ( to boost the protein) until well-blended.  In skillet saute one large diced onion in 1 tbsp canola oil .   Then add two bags frozen chopped broccoli and saute until broccoli is cooked.   Pour egg mixture in pan and stir in 1 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes.   Serve with whole grain toast.  I take the leftovers and place in a wrap with fresh spinach, some grated cheese and salsa to have for lunch or dinner for other meals.

Being Nutritionally Vigilant Starts With Planning And An Open Mind

Eating healthy starts with planning and a willingness to do things differently.  These simple nutrition steps of combining protein, fiber and healthy fats along with using my shopping list regularly will simplify your life, make you healthier, have more energy and lose weight.  Your freezer can become your best friend and allow you to eat healthy when you don’t feel like cooking.  Investing in portion sized freezer containers and freezing extra portions will save you from impulse buys on the way home from a long day.  You will find, after a few weeks that keeping these foods in your house will allow you to throw something healthy together in a manner of minutes.  And what’s not to like about a bowl of hot homemade soup and crunchy toast on a cold winter day, right?  That’s the way to launch into a healthy lifestyle!

hungry!

Constantly Hungry?

There are three different types of hunger:   hangry, hungry and what I will call “mouthgry” or mouth hunger.  Hangry happens when the body’s natural hunger mechanisms have long gone unfulfilled, the body’s glycogen stores have been depleted, and you feel irritable and foggy.  Hungry occurs due to fluctuations in satiety hormones, leptin and grehlin.  Leptin tells us we’re full.   Grehlin tells us we’re hungry.  Leptin levels decline and grehlin levels rise 4-5 hours after eating – motivating us to eat.  And “mouthgry” happens when the mouth is just crying for a little something-something, not due to any real hunger, but as a reward, a titillating mouth pause from life’s burdens.  If you feel you are constantly hungry, it’s important to know what kind of hunger you’re experiencing and to observe personal eating patterns if you really want to change it.

Hangry, Hungry, Mouthgry

Personally there is no excuse to ever experience hangry.  It is so easy to keep a protein bar or peanut butter and crackers at your work, in your car or on your person.  No excuse, it’s a no-brainer, period.  And mouthgry is much more complicated.  It could be from eating too many refined carbs that cause fluctuations in blood sugar, or it could be related to your personal level of life satisfaction and personal contentment.  This is a much bigger focus than what will be covered here and requires personal reflection, re-prioritizing and some serious de-cluttering, both physically and mentally.  So that pretty much leaves addressing feeling hunger.

How To Manage Hunger

The key to managing hunger is to make sure each of your meals contains a good amount of fiber from real foods, a good amount of protein from low-fat sources and just the right amount of fat from the heart healthy fats and to eat 3 spaced meals a day.  Personally, I’m not big on  snacking if meal planning is given its due diligence, but a snack prior to exercise certainly makes sense.  Here’s how you can keep hunger at bay.

  1. Don’t skip breakfast.  It’s the most important meal of the day and sets the pace for the day.  Focus on fiber and protein.  It is recommended that we get 25 grams of dietary fiber based on a 2000 calorie diet.  The best sources are from whole grains, beans, nuts and produce.  You’ll know something is whole grain if the first word under the list of ingredients starts with “whole” or “100% whole”, not “enriched wheat flour”.  Some good breakfast examples are a veggie omelette with whole grain toast, a smoothie, or plain fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with fruit and topped with 2 tbsp of nuts.  Oatmeal, teff or even quinoa topped with nuts and some Greek yogurt is another great breakfast that will keep you full until lunch.  If you don’t have the time to make an omelet, one of my favorite breakfast solutions is to take a slice of a frittata and put it in a whole grain wrap with some spinach and salsa.
  2. Reduce your high glycemic carbs.  These are the carbs that shoot your blood sugar up quickly.  This is a correlation between a high glycemic diet and low leptin levels.  Examples of high glycemic foods include donuts, fruit juice, corn, potatoes, white rice, pasta and bread and sodas.
  3. Include heart healthy fat in every meal.  Research indicates that getting adequate amounts mono- and poly-unsaturated fats raises leptin levels.  Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, soy, avocado, flax seed, olive oil, canola oil and nut butters.   These fats also will lower your bad cholesterol, LDL, and raise your good cholesterol, HDL.  Be mindful of portions by looking at the calories per serving size because fat is high in calories (9 calories/gram vs 4 calories/gram for carbs and protein).
  4. Boost your protein.  In this Psychology Today article eating sufficient protein caused rats to eat less:                                                                                                                                                             “They found that the regimen sparked production of glucose in the small intestine, and              that this increase, sensed in the liver and relayed to the parts of the brain involved in the          control of appetite, caused the rats to eat less.”
  5. Increase your volume each meal with nonstarchy veggies and soup.  Not only will this please your eyes, but it will fill your belly.  Adding nonstarchy veggies to eggs, casseroles, and soups will give you volume, without all the calories.  Make sure the soups are broth based without added cream or lots of cheese.  Here’s one of my favorite chicken soup recipes and using frozen veggies and canned beans makes this a quick preparation.
  6. Distract yourself.  Hunger does come in waves.  If you’ve eaten a balanced meal a few hours earlier, go for a walk, get a drink and know that it will pass in a few minutes.

Feeling hungry is normal.  I notice with my own hunger it can be uncomfortable at times.  It effects my thinking and makes me want to make quick food choices.  Even now, it’s been four and a half hours since I had my smoothie and I notice my hunger is a little uncomfortable.  I’m thinking about the half sandwich and extra salad I made for dinner last night.  I always keep quick meal ingredients stocked like my peanut butter or low-fat cottage cheese I put on Wasa crackers, a portion of last night’s meal or even the salad we make extra at dinner to have for lunch today.  I never let my hunger get to the point where I could eat a horse.  And I certainly don’t let myself get hangry.  It takes a little planning, but my body rewards me for my effort.  And that’s something to “nay” about!