Category Archives: Mindset

apple pie

Successful weight loss requires a large portion of this

What do your pieces of pie look like? Does it come with a large slice of resiliency?

I don’t mean that steaming, flaky, buttery-crusted, apple pie. I mean another type of pie – your personal pie chart that will get you and keep you to your weight loss goal. You can still enjoy a slice of that apple pie, but you should know first what makes up your pie chart.

I believe the process of losing weight and keeping it off requires equal emphasis on each of these four components: Resiliency if important for losing weight

  • Eating three healthy meals with adequate protein, quality carbs and some healthy fat to keep you full.
  • Curbing unhealthy snacking.
  • Exercising 5-7 days a week.
  • Developing resiliency.

If you eat 3 balanced meals but snack a lot on chips at night, the scale won’t budge.

If you are a workout warrior but follow it by a Big Mac, fries and a soda, that scale won’t budge.

If you exercise regularly, eat 3 balanced meals and control your unhealthy snacking but are not resilient, eventually you will get bored, your negative self-talk will take over and gradually you will be lured back to old bad habits.

Resiliency is essential to permanent weight loss.

Eating three healthy meals

ChooseMyPlate.GovThe simplest way to put together a healthy plate is to use the ChooseMyPlate.Gov developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Their simple graphics and website give recommendations on how to create a healthy plate consisting of slightly more than a quarter of your plate consisting of non-starchy veggies, another slightly more than a quarter consisting of grains, and the other two slightly smaller quarters containing protein and fruits. Each meal should be accompanied by a serving of dairy.

The key to staying full between meals is the combination of protein, fiber from good carbs, and a small amount of healthy fat. Following the Choosemyplate method will achieve that magic formula.

Here are some examples of each category to complete your plate. Start with a 9” plate and choose one from each column – it’s like putting together a puzzle but you get to choose the picture.

Food Group Examples

 

 

 

 

Examples of balanced, healthy meals

Breakfast ideas:

  1. 1 cup steel cut oatmeal topped with 1 tbsp chopped nuts and ½ cup Greek yogurt.
  2. Egg/egg white omelet stuffed with sautéed spinach and 2 pieces of Ezekiel bread.

Lunch ideas:

  1. Salad topped with 3 oz chopped chicken, ½ cup kidney beans, and ¼ cup sesame seeds with 1 tbsp balsamic dressing.
  2. Turkey sandwich in wrap with spinach, tomatoes and ¼ avocado.

Dinner ideas:

  1. 1 cup chili with side salad and 3” square of corn bread.
  2. 4 oz of salmon with ¾ cup brown rice, 2 cups roasted cauliflower, and ¾ cup apple crisp for dessert with a side of 1 oz of cheddar cheese.

If your plate seems skimpy, then add more veggies. People don’t gain weight from eating too many veggies and part of losing weight permanently is developing a cozy relationship with veggies 😊

Curbing unhealthy snacking

There’s not a soul on earth who doesn’t love those tasty refined, crunchy, salty snacks or soft, moist, sweet cakes and doughnuts. But losing weight is about a strong offense and a smart defense.

On the offensive side get to the root of binging on bad carbs. Determine the variables and triggers that lead to the splurge.

  • Is it not eating 3 square meals?
  • Is it stress or boredom?
  • What are your triggers? TV, idle hands, being with certain people?
  • Is it a reward for getting through another tough day?
  • Is it loneliness?
  • Is it not having a healthier substitute?
  • Is because you’ve just “always eaten this way”?

On the defensive side you must make your environment safe. If your favorite munchie is in the house, no matter where you hide it, it will find its way into your mouth. If you don’t live alone, and your housemate (s) is not on board with keeping junk food out of the house, then find foods that will satisfy them, but won’t tempt you – find alternative cookies or chips (I love Utz potato chips, but hate Fritos), different flavored ice cream, or a can of walnuts instead of peanuts.

Find a good substitute that will work – maybe fruit, a cup of tea or a 100% fruit bar.

Go to bed earlier. It’s natural to be hungry 4 hours after eating dinner. If you’re eating dinner at 6:30, go to bed by 10.

Build in one day a week where you can ease up and eat some of your old favorites.

Exercising

Starting around age 40 you lose 8% of your muscle mass each decade. Muscle mass is what determines your metabolism. An exercise regimen that incorporates both aerobics and strengthening will not only burn calories during the workout, but will raise your resting metabolic rate – helping you to burn more calories at rest. These are the American Heart Association recommendations:

AHA exercise recommendations

There’s also evidence that exercise decreases inflammatory proteins that lead to heart disease and diabetes.

If you’re not someone who likes to go to the gym, walking the hills in your area, taking yoga classes and even participating in adult education fitness programs can get your muscles more fit. Weather should never be an excuse; there are walking, aerobic and even dancing DVD’s to get you moving.

Exercise must become as necessary as the air you breathe. Honor the importance of it and you will find the time to make it happen.

Developing resiliency

Losing weight and keeping it off requires being open-minded and optimistic. It calls for a curious, inquiring mind with a willingness to let go of old unhealthy habits and develop new ones. It’s that old saying:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

Start with the habits to which you have the weakest attachment and then either reduce the frequency, find a substitute or decrease the amount.

  • If foregoing a crunchy snack in the evening sounds like punishment, then try light popcorn and eat one kernel at a time.
  • If it sounds too onerous making a lunch on workdays, go to the salad bar at the grocery store.
  • If giving up the candy bar from the vending machine at work means missing out on a pick-me-up and mental break, then go chat with someone while you munch an apple.

Once you’ve addressed the low hanging fruit, move on to the areas where you have more resistance. Explore the reason you don’t want to change a certain habit and see if there is an area you should address first before making the bigger change.

Perhaps you hate to cook for just yourself but notice you make better food choices when you prepare your meals at home. One suggestion might be to cook a larger amount, but less often, and freeze the extra portions to eat on another day.

If you frame the new habit to replace the bad habit the right way, you will end up with a more positive picture.

Is your pie chart out of balance?

Too much snacking on junk food, despite regular exercise and eating 3 healthy meals

Low resiliency and weight lossIf your pie chart looks like the one to the left with a low-level of resiliency and a lot of unhealthy snacking, despite eating 3 balanced meals and exercising regularly, your weight loss may stall if your daily snacking consists of a bag of chips at night or a fast food excursion mid-afternoon. You’d have to sweat up a storm for hours to burn off those extra thousand calories. It raises the question of whether there is a larger emotional need not being met.

Not enough exercise or eating 3 balanced meals, but resilient and choose healthy snacks

Successful weight loss requires resiliencyThis is a great place to begin! Being open to change is half the battle.

Start small by gradually adding structure to one meal at a time. Start a walking routine by breaking it up into segments and find a partner or music to help you keep a good pace.

It takes a few weeks for a new habit to feel more natural. These changes will gradually feel less strained and you will start noticing your clothing is looser and the pounds are gradually coming off.

There are 3500 calories in a pound. Losing a half pound to a pound a week can take as little as cutting out one customary treat a day and walking a mile most days of the week.

Resiliency is as important as a balanced plate, exercise and curbing unhealthy snacking

The hardest part about losing weight is keeping it off. It requires flexibility in thinking and self-forgiveness. There will be days where you will make unwise food choices and that’s ok.  Get back on track the next day and don’t berate yourself.

Reconnect with why you wanted to lose weight and remind yourself how much you enjoy how you feel in clothes, your ease of movement and the pride of accomplishing what you did in losing weight in the first place.

Stay positive, be resilient and make sure your good habits are deeply embedded to your daily routine. Keeping to a schedule and finding ways to reward yourself without food is helpful.

Keeping lost weight off requires equal portions

Losing weight permanently requires a healthy meal structure, regular exercise and limiting unhealthy snacking. But the trait that keeps people on task for the long-term is resiliency. Flexible thinking, constructive self-talk and the ability to get back on track after derailment are the essence of resiliency.

Life happens, but how quickly you bounce back is the key to permanent weight loss.

Please share if you find this information useful.

 

 

Can you eat a very low carb diet forever?

No more sugar, no more grains, no more processed foods and no more potatoes; yes, to full fat and food products with no processing, just real ingredients. Does this low carb diet sound good to you?

I recently was asked about my thoughts of dramatically reducing carbs and following the above recommendations. This way of eating is essentially the message delivered by Dr. Sarah Hallberg, DO, an obesity specialist with her own patient research to back it up.

No grains or potatoes means no more pasta or rice, or baked potatoes with that steak. It means anything made with flour from grains or sugar is out. Good bye to crackers and cheese, pie and ice cream, all cereal and bread, including pizza. And that means no more Holy Donut…. Hmmmm.

Reducing carbs, reduces insulin levels.

The theory behind this way of eating is very logical: the goal being to reduce insulin levels. Almost half of this country has a condition called insulin resistance where the body makes extra insulin due to compensate for decreased insulin sensitivity. This is partly due to genetics and partly due to eating a high carb diet consisting of too many processed foods.

Insulin is a fat storage hormone so the more insulin on board, the more weight people gain. High insulin levels also raise inflammatory proteins that raise the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

So, reducing carbs, reduces the need for that extra insulin. Less insulin means weight loss and decreased inflammation. Sounds perfect on paper, but how about execution? I’d say daunting.

Why do we eat too many carbs, sugar, potatoes and grains?

If you look at each insulin spike caused by eating too many carbs as the enemy, then this shifts the solution to understanding the motivation for eating too many carbs. It’s emotions that drive our behavior. If you want to make behavior change, you should understand the “why”.

Why are so many of us eating too many white, processed carbs?

  • Is it from a lack of understanding of the consequences of food choices?
  • Is it from cravings from too little sleep, too much stress, loneliness or boredom?
  • Is from not knowing how to cook?
  • Is it from unwillingness to change eating patterns due to entitlement, denial, or plain stubbornness?
  • Is it from bringing tempting foods in the house that make it hard to say “no”?
  • Is it from watching too much TV with all the food commercials that trigger binge eating?

The solution lies in addressing both the emotional component of eating as well as the structural component of how to eat. Moreover, the stronger the reason someone has for not wanting to reduce carbs, the smaller the changes in eating patterns must be. It’s like asking someone to suddenly reverse direction going 60 mph. First, they must brake slowly, then down shift and then turn the steering wheel before they can go 60 mph the other direction. Cutting out grains, sugar and potatoes for most people is like being asked to reverse direction mid race. Mindset needs to be shifted first, then change needs to happen gradually before someone can resume usual speed.

If someone is an emotional eater, then it starts with addressing the emotions first and then the plate second.

Damage control

I don’t believe in drastic dietary changes. I believe in making gradual changes that fit the person where they are in life. If someone grew up eating boxed, canned, and fast food, it’s pretty unlikely they’re going to have success in the long run cutting out sugar, grains or potatoes. That’s all I’m saying.

There is another way. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s called damage control.

What if someone reduced their insulin spikes by eating well some of the meals, and eased up a bit on one meal each day. That would be a 50-66% improvement. Not perfect, but much better.

What if someone ate a lower carb breakfast consisting of plain Greek yogurt with some fruit and nuts, or an omelet with lots of sautéed veggies and one piece of whole grain toast, and a lower carb lunch consisting of a couple of hard-boiled eggs with a piece of fruit, a salad with chicken, or some cottage cheese with fruit and then had a burger, chips and dessert for dinner. That would be much better than a donut or muffin for breakfast, McDonald’s for lunch and eating the same dinner.

Making two out of three meals lower carb is much better than eating poorly at all 3. Even making just one of your meals lower carb is still a 33% improvement.

Or what if someone followed a low carb diet 5 days out of the week, and the other two days they ate “their way”? This is similar to the intermittent fasting diet.

A good place to begin

People with insulin resistance tend to have the highest insulin resistance in the morning. Skipping cereal and making breakfast low carb with focus on healthy fats and lean protein is a perfect place to start. My experience shows that people who eat this way at breakfast tend to stay full until lunch and be less likely to binge the rest of the day.

Psychologically, when people start off the day on the right foot, they have more confidence to make healthier choices the rest of the day.

Success builds success

From my experience, I also find that when people have success for a few weeks, they have the confidence and desire to take further steps as long as these three things are also in place:

  1. They must like what they are doing.
  2. They must not feel deprived.
  3. They must feel it is sustainable.

I’ve worked with so many people who think making drastic changes will get them into the size 10 pants forever. Some achieve their goal but end up regaining it once a vacation, holiday or stressful event happens.

Making gradual changes allows enough time to strategize, explore and understand what’s behind unhealthy eating. It’s not that people can’t reverse direction in life, it’s that the mindset has to be reversed first.

Cutting out grains, potatoes and sugar makes complete sense for the body, but the head has to be on the same page.

Barbara will work work with you for 3 months free if you make a donation to the St Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen 

 

 

addiction

Addiction Crossovers: The Striking Similarities of Food and Drug Addictions

This is a guest blog from Kevin Brenden in conjunction with Westwind Recovery, a sober living community offering support on the road to recovery

People unfamiliar with how substance addictions work falsely believe that people can only become addicted to drugs or alcohol. They fail to realize that food, especially sugary and carbohydrate-laden fare, can be a sort of gateway to drug and alcohol dependency.

As such, binge eaters often experience the same range of emotions, thought processes, and behaviors as people who are dependent on drugs and alcohol. Learn how food can be a crossover to alcoholism and drug addiction and what factors behind binge eating mimic those found with substance abuse problems.

Reward

People who binge on foods like ice cream, cake, doughnuts, chips, and other treats often experience intense feelings of satisfaction and reward. In fact, studies have shown that indulging in foods laden with sugars and carbohydrates trigger the same chemical reactions in the part of the brain responsible for reward and happiness found when someone snorts a line of coke, takes a hit of heroin, or uses a similar substance.

With that, binge eaters continue to stuff themselves with these kinds of foods to get the same sort of high and feelings of satisfaction. However, as with drug users and alcoholics, they eventually plateau and become tolerant to the amount they are eating. They must increase their sugar and carbohydrate intake to feel the same sense of satisfaction and reward, much like how drug users and alcoholics must increase the amount that they use to achieve the same level of high.

Cravings

People who are addicted to food also experience cravings that are as intense and distressing as those experienced by drug addicts and alcoholics. They are desperate for another scoop of ice cream, another bite of pastry, or another plateful of sugar and carb-filled foods. Some binge eaters will even become so desperate that they will resort to stealing or lying to get what they want.

Their desperation and sneaky behaviors are not unlike those that drug addicts and alcoholics will use to score more drugs or alcohol. Cravings are not reserved just for people who are dependent on drinking or using illicit or prescription drugs. They also are found with people who cannot stop binge eating.

Shame

Finally, people who are addicted to food will often feel ashamed of themselves, putting them in the same category of many drug addicts and alcoholics. Just as people who are dependent on alcohol or drugs feel ashamed of themselves, so do binge eaters. They realize that their behavior is abnormal and not acceptable in society. Even so, they cannot help themselves from binge eating.

Like drug addicts and alcoholics, binge eaters stand the best chance of recovering from their addictions by undergoing professional treatment at a dependency recovery center. They can learn coping mechanisms and benefit from professional care as they overcome their cravings for foods that are full of sugar and carbohydrates.

 

head

5 Steps to a healthy you – starts in your head

Making lasting lifestyle changes really does start in the head.  A house isn’t built with random placement of studs.  It takes a good foundation, a well thought-out design and careful construction.  Similarly, building a healthier you takes planning and good groundwork so that you will succeed.  If you follow these 5 steps, you will have a good foundation for building an awesome path to great health!

1. First you have to know what you really want.

What’s bothering you now about your current self and what do you need to change?  Most of my clients tell me initially they just want to lose weight.  I try to get beyond that.  With a little more probing I hear things like:  wanting to be able to look in the mirror with pride, being able to move more easily, gaining more confidence or having more energy.  Our emotions drive our behavior.  The more you connect with the emotions around making lifestyle changes, the more you will be able to resist the pull from old unhealthy habits.

2. Have a plan for obstacles

If your mornings are rushed, plan to make your breakfast and even lunch the night before.  If driving by a certain fast food place is a trigger, then take another route.  If seeing candy, chips, donuts or other junk food is a temptation, then find a way to get your work and home environment to support you.  If you know watching TV leads to snacking, then watch less TV and maybe go to bed earlier.  Do you come home famished in the afternoon?  Keep a snack size almonds in your car.  If you know a vacation or business travel is coming up, search on-line for restaurants that serve healthier preparations or buy healthy snacks like fruit and nuts once you arrive so you don’t go overboard when you eat out.  Know your patterns and triggers and make a plan.

3. Start small

Most people are overambitious by doing too many changes at once.  It can be overwhelming, lead to feelings of deprivation, negative self talk and failure.  The key is to make small enough changes so that you can feel confident you can follow through.  New to exercise?  Start by doing a little bit every day.  For new routines to become habit, it is better to find something small to do daily in order for them to become better embedded in your routine.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise weekly.  Doing as little as 10-11 minutes of vigorous exercise daily will not only boost your cardiovascular health and ramp up your metabolism, but won’t stress your schedule.  Examples of vigorous activity include: walking up a steep hill, biking at 10 mph, race walking or jogging, or even jumping rope.  I can remember my dad for years used to do 500 jump ropes most days of the week and would even bring his rope with him when he traveled.  The 7 minute workout app is also a great way to get vigorous exercise.  You can find many others on Pinterest.  Why not find a nice hill in your neighborhood and go up and down that a few times?

4. Link your lifestyle changes to your regular routine

Link you bedtime to your morning routine.  Get to bed earlier to allow for the earlier alarm.  Switching to a healthier breakfast?  Save time by letting your oatmeal cook while you’re in the shower.   While you are cutting up veggies for dinner, make extra for lunch the next day.  Trying to break the habit of hitting the vending machine in the afternoon?  Ask your coworker to go for a walk with you instead.  Trying to drink more water?  Put reminders in your cell phone and keep extra water in your car and at your desk.  While you are getting ready for bed, take your exercise clothes out for the morning.

5. Pay attention to what you notice

This is what is meant by mindfulness.  The scale is not going to change overnight.   But you will notice other positive changes beginning immediately.  The first day you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch and cut out the junk, you will have more energy.  That lull in the afternoon will disappear and you won’t need a pick-me-up.  After a few days, you will notice you have less bloating, you’ll think more clearly and you will feel better.  After a week you will notice your clothes will start to become looser.  You will sleep better and wake up rested. Your conversations will be more positive.  Your relationships will take a different direction.  You will see yourself with kinder eyes and you will start to feel more confident.  You will notice that your new ways of living will become more comfortable and require less convincing and more just doing.  You won’t even have to get on the scale to notice all the payback for your decision to get healthy – you will know you are heading in the right direction!

Success in forming new healthy habits is mostly in the attitude, the planning, the setting of realistic expectations and the awareness.  It takes about 3 weeks for lifestyle changes to seem more natural and about 3 months for them to become routine.  If you know what you want and you make a good plan, you will get what you want in the end – a better feeling and better looking you!

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

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

Weight Loss Success!!

weight loss journeyLosing weight is so much easier when you have the right weight loss expectations.   The focus should be on the process rather than the number.  Whether it’s a special event, a sexy swimsuit, or a little black dress, if there’s a deadline with a lofty pound goal, few achieve it and maintain it.  Once that deadline or event has passed, the motivation to continue evaporates.  It’s kind of like hiking:  If you only like the view from the top of the mountain, and not the climb, then the task can seem insurmountable.  But if you can go at a slower pace, enjoy the surroundings and views along the way, not only do you get to enjoy the view at the top, but you will enjoy the process in getting there.   Losing weight is all about making the process fun and interesting.

Setting Weight Loss Expectations

Here’s how you can enjoy the journey of losing weight while reaching your goal.

  1. Know that one pound is all anyone should lose in a week.  Aggressive weight loss requires too drastic a change in eating.  And losing more than two pounds a week will yield a loss in muscle mass, which will slow down your metabolism.  Each pound amounts to about 3500 calories.  If cutting out 500 calories a day sounds like a recipe for deprivation, then aim for a half pound weight loss a week.  Remember, this is not just a journey, but a destination you don’t want to leave.  If the changes feel awkward or tedious, they will not stick.
  2. Start by knowing where your calories are coming from.  Either use a tracking tool like Myfitnesspal or just track your fat grams which is much easier than tracking calories.  Tracking gives you information about your food choices.  Not tracking is like hiking a mountain without sign posts or cairns.  It’s going to take a lot longer to get to your goal and there’s a good chance you will get lost.  Tracking just fat grams makes is much simpler and helps rein in lots of calories since there are more than twice the calories in a gram of fat as there are in protein and carbohydrate sources.  The American Heart Association recommends getting between 25-35% of your calories from fat.  To determine what that looks like, take 25% of the average 2000 calorie diet, divide it by 9 to get about 55 gms of fat a day.   The Diabetes Prevention Program set fat gram goals based on weight with a minimum daily amount of 33 gms.  You want to consume at least 33 grams of fat to ensure  your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, especially vitamins A, D, E and K, but also eat enough in order to stay full between meals.  It’s a balancing act.
  3. Know your fat culprits.  The usual culprits are salad dressings, cheese, red meat, excessive noshing on nuts, chips, ice cream, full fat dairy and fried foods.  Small reductions can make a huge difference.  Skipping that piece of cheese on your sandwich will save you 10 gms of fat or 90 calories.  Cutting your salad dressing in half by adding more vinegar, low fat milk or water can save you another 100-200 calories.   Your heart will love you for reducing some of the saturated fats found in most of these.
  4. Eat 3 meals a day.  Do not skip meals.  Skipping meals slows down metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight.  Skipping meals will also make you hungrier and make you overeat at your next meal.  A meal can be as simple as a small low-fat Greek yogurt or a couple of Wasa crackers with peanut butter.
  5. Make sure you are getting enough protein at every meal, especially breakfast.  Don’t waste your time on cereal unless it’s whole grain.  Any other cereal will only make you hungry mid-morning because most cereals do not have enough protein and fiber.  Good sources of protein are fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, egg whites/eggs, lean meat, fish or tofu.
  6. Keep night snacking to a popsicle or a piece of fruit.  And keep sipping water, seltzer or some nice teas.  I’ve come to love my Wissotzky teas in the evening.  It gives me a unique ginger flavor and warm fluids that reduces my hunger and keeps me on task.
  7. Keep a supply of meals you can reheat in the freezer for those stressful days when you don’t want to cook.  Soups and small casseroles work really well and don’t take much time to make an extra one.
  8. Get family and friends on board!  Find and share recipes.  Get a Fitbit and have step challenges.  Reach out to them when you are stressed.
  9. Know this is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.  Weight usually comes on over many years, so naturally it should come off over a slow steady period of time.
  10. Weigh yourself no more often than once a week.  Weight naturally fluctuates depending on our activity, salt consumption and day-to-day food choices.  If you are someone who gets really discouraged if the scale hasn’t moved in a week, then weigh yourself every few weeks and use a pair of snug fitting pants to be your guide.

It’s The Journey, Not The Destination

Even if you just lose 5% of your weight, that could be as little as 8-10 pounds, you will have significant health benefits with improved:

  • blood pressure
  • blood sugar
  • triglycerides
  • LDL

You will notice you move better, you sleep better and your outlook will be better.  Life isn’t about getting things perfect; it’s about making things better, especially with you.  One step at a time on your journey to your future destination of a healthier you.

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.

Mole Hills, Not Mountains

This is the continuation in the series looking at the emotional side of the logistics of losing weight.

For some people anticipation is worse than realization.  The anticipation of starting a diet might as well be like climbing Mt Everest.  And in here lies the problem.   First of all, don’t think of it as a diet.  The word “diet” implies a beginning and an end.  You’re not heading for a destination; you are on a lifelong journey.  Secondly, if it feels like you are climbing a mountain, then you need to start back at the mole hills.

Get The Right Focus

Any change starts with a decision.  If the change is just for a destination, like looking nice in a bathing suit or for a wedding or for a reunion, then chances are one of two things will happen.  You will either not meet your goal or you will be like the 80% who regain their weight.  But what if your decision is not to reach a definitive destination but rather to feel better in your clothing, have more energy throughout the day and to take of yourself.  Imagine that, doing it just because you are worth it.  Shifting the focus from losing weight to eating healthier changes the perspective.  Making lifestyle changes to lose weight implies giving up and taking away, while eating healthier implies adding more and taking care.

Start And Stay With The Mole Hills

mole hillsThe second mistake that people make is taking on too much at once.  In my training as a health coach the emphasis was always on making changes based on the areas where a client feels most ready and confident to begin, and to start with small, action-oriented changes.  These are the mole hills that will take you down the path to taking care of yourself, while incidentally losing weight.

Examples of Mole Hills

What are some mole hills you could easily summit along your journey of taking care of yourself?

  • Find a buddy who will support you.  Spouse, friend, daughter or son, anyone who will take the journey with you and keep you energized and focused.
  • Start grocery shopping with a list and don’t shop when you are hungry.
  • Bring color to every plate through fruits and veggies.  Try to get at least 3 different colors on your plate.
  • Use a smaller plate, even a salad plate if you are not someone who likes fruits and veggies.
  • Drink at least 2 liters of non-caloric, non-diet fluids a day.
  • Shift to whole grain crackers, pasta, brown rice, and cereals.  If that’s too much to do all at once then go half and half.
  • Cut back on eating out.  This means being aware of how many meals you purchase over the week and reducing that number.  Instead, make a date night with a fun menu at home where you can control the salt and fat.
  • Wear a pedometer.  They do make people move more.
  • Keep your treats to the end of the day.
  • Watch TV less, read more.  Choose your shows and then turn the TV off.
  • Reflect back at the end of the day and recall what went well with each day.
  • Go to bed at a set time each night and get 7-8 hours of sleep.

Any of these steps will help you to take care of yourself.  You will notice a difference in how you feel.  You will notice a difference in your energy level.  You will gain more confidence as you realize that you are worth it and that it doesn’t have to be this huge production or insurmountable mountain.  Even these changes will help boost your immune system with its daily fight against cancer cells, reduce the workload on your heart, and help your mind think more clearly, more positively.  Now that’s a mindset that will take you on lifelong journey, not just a destination.

 

 

 

How To Fit Losing Weight Into Your Life

The next few blogs will focus on the most common emotional mistakes people make in their efforts to loss weight.  Today will focus on how to successfully lose weight for life.

FoundationYou’ve had some success with Weight Watchers or a low-fat or low carb diet, but now you’ve stalled.  The novelty of losing weight has worn off and now work and home life has caused you to lose focus in your efforts to lose weight.  This is a common mistake, it’s because you tried to fit your life into your diet instead of making your diet part of your life.

Mae West once said, “knowing what you want is the first step to getting it”.  The top two reasons people want to lose weight is for health and appearances.  Those are powerful reasons but keeping them front and center means addressing the issues that caused the weight gain in the first place.

What Works In Losing Weight

If you look at the National Weight Loss Registry that tracks participants who have lost at least 30 pounds for over a year, you’ll find that most maintain a low-calorie, low-fat diet and get an hour of physical activity – usually walking – a day.  Some have kept their weight off for over 65 years and have lost as much as 300 pounds!  Other findings are that participants tend to weigh themselves weekly, limit TV to no more than ten hours a week and eat breakfast daily.

How To Fit Weight Loss Into Your Life

There’s no getting around it.  Examining the patterns that lead to your weight gain is essential for lasting weight loss.  Yes, you’ll mourn some of those habits, but your weight will come right back on if you don’t address them.  The following are the three most common causes I’ve seen for weight derailment:

  1. Not putting enough value in a good night’s sleep.  People try to stretch the day by staying up late to finish watching a ball game, a late night show or playing internet games.  Before you know it, it’s been three or four hours since dinner and those high-fat, high calorie munchies in the kitchen are soon in your hand.  So not only to you go to bed full, but you wake up tired and not hungry for breakfast.  Lack of sleep is associated with a decrease in the hunger-blocking hormone Leptin, and an increase in the hunger-producing hormone Ghrelin.  Insufficient sleep causes weight gain.  Furthermore, waking up tired is not exactly conducive to wanting to work up a sweat.  At least during the work week make it a priority to get to bed at a decent hour, before you would be naturally hungry and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
  2. Develop a hobby instead of watching TV.  There is nothing more mind-numbing than watching TV.  And with all the food advertisements, it heightens the desire for snacking.  When you mind is busy, it’s off food.  Besides, having a hobby is a great way to cope with stress and boredom – the two most common reasons for non-hungry eating.
  3. Not believing in yourself.  Losing weight is not a sprint, it’s a lifelong marathon.  Anyone can lose weight quickly through a fad diet, but keeping it off means believing that you are strong, that you have willpower and that you are worth making the changes to the nonfood parts of your life that will help keep the unhealthy habits out of your life.  There will always be temptations, but they also diminish in intensity.  Have faith that you are strong enough to get through those moments and focus on what you are gaining.

Change Your Life And You Will Have Lasting Weight Loss Success

Losing weight begins with a strong foundation of getting to the root cause of your weight gain and going from there.  It’s not a diet, it’s a new way of living your life for the rest of your life.  It’s learning how to adjust your life in order to fit lasting weight loss, not fitting your life into a temporary diet.

 

Candy Cravings On Your Mind?

These next couple of blogs are part of the series of common nutritional and emotional mistakes people often make in the logistics of losing weight. Today’s focus is on candy craving.

There are times during the day when the brain just stalls and candy cravings call.   It gets fixated on something or quits making any creative breakthroughs.  That’s when the ole candy dish starts to look mighty fine….and if you grew up on the 70’s you might hum that jingle “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” and reach into that bowl for something chocolotey, coconutty and chewy.  Maybe some of you have been disciplined enough to still have some of your Halloween candy (or maybe you just stocked up when they went down 50% the next day).  So you open that piece of candy either from home, at work or in your car and you pop it in your mouth.   Mmmmm.  Can you taste it?  Bursting with flavor, little crunchy, little chewy, little chocolatey.  All kinds of sensations and textures filling every corner of your mouth.  You’re in heaven.  You just got that initial pick-me-up feeling.

Mintel’s report on Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015 found that many people are snacking in order to satisfy a craving or improve work focus.  But what you choose to snack on can either be a pick-me-up and keep me up, or a pick-me-up followed quickly by a put-me down kind of feeling.  My goal is to help you see how eating soda, cookies, candy or some other sugary snack is just a short-term fix, only for that mouth-filling moment, and then poof, it’s gone and you’re tired.

Candy Cravings, A Pick-Me-Up or Put-Me-Down

Feeling tired or unproductive at work is a frustrating feeling.  Add time pressure and boredom with a task and you have a magic recipe for a candy craving.  It seems logical that candy does rev us up, giving us all kinds of energy immediately, but you have to understand what comes next.  All that extra sugar tells the pancreas to make extra insulin which then causes our blood sugars to crash.  Soda, cookies, fruit snacks and other sweets do the same thing.  That’s what makes us tired – the fluctuation in blood sugar – especially from a candy craving.

Discretionary Calories, Not Much Room For Candy Cravings

A day's worth of food

Nutrition Action Healthletter visual

Discretionary calories are the “fun” calories we should only eat after we’ve eaten the nutrient rich foods our body needs.  For a 2000 calorie diet it amounts to about 200 calories for a sedentary individual a day.  They include the sugar in coffee, the wine with dinner, the candy for the afternoon pick-me-up.  The governor in our brain should say, “hold on, will your day’s worth of food look anything like the menu above?”  Are your candy and cookie choices using up the calories your body really needs to deal with the daily attack by cancer-causing cells,  building the good HDL to fight off the artery-narrowing bad LDL, wearing out your pancreas and leading you to type 2 diabetes, or aggravating inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis?  How is that short-term candy craving fix really serving you?  If you really want that candy, save it as a reward after you’ve eaten what your body really needs and then go for a walk.

Cravings Pass And There Are Better Foods To Improve Focus

That afternoon lull might really be a sign of boredom, tiredness or need for brain stimulation. Changing your scenery, talking to someone, doing a brain teaser or doing a different task might be what your brain really needs.  If you need a pick-me-up to really improve focus, choose something from the menu example above to check off some of those nutrients your body really needs and save those discretionary calories for later.  If your mouth still really wants that candy delay it by then first get a cup of tea, talking to someone and then see if you still really want that candy.  Cravings pass and will power gets stronger, one craving at a time.

 

Logistics Of Losing Weight

Bar Harbor Penobscot Trail

A good health coach will help you find the “cairns” to lasting weight loss

Everyone has a different pattern and flow of filling their stomachs.  There are many aspects that go into the act of eating, and understanding these individualized aspects are essential for unraveling the dynamics of losing weight.  I call it the “logistics of losing weight”.

By definition logistics is the management of flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet requirements of customers and corporations.  I take the liberty of substituting certain words of this term to get to my logistics of losing weight.

My definition of “logistics of losing weight” is the management of flow of things between an individual’s original weight to future goal weight in order to meet requirements of their physical and emotional well-being.  The more the client understands the flow of things, like eating patterns and variables impacting food choices, the more success the client will have at losing weight and keeping it off.

Factors In the Logistics of Losing Weight

There are many factors that impact the “logistics of losing weight” but they can be lumped into two categories:  the nutritive and emotional value of eating.  Losing weight is not just about eating less.  It’s a tug-of-war between fueling the body and satisfying the mouth in order to successfully keep the weight off.  And through it all, it means wanting it badly enough to forego immediate temptation in order to have long-term payback.

Nutritive Value of Eating

Nutritive value is the umbrella term for knowing how to plan, shop and prepare a healthy meal.  It means understanding the relationship between carbs, protein and fat and why they are each important.  It means knowing how to make substitutions that will still please your mouth, yet not compromise the end goal of weight loss.  It’s about finding the right foods that will keep you full.  It’s about knowing why eating whole, real food with simple ingredients is better than eating calorie free foods with lots of chemicals.  It’s about the journey in learning all these things over time, not overnight.

Emotional Value of Eating

Emotions play a big role in food choices.  Eating is a way people connect with one another and it often comes with expectations.  Addressing the emotional components of eating is essential for lasting weight loss.  This means being open to new recipes, putting time into planning and preparing meals and finding coping strategies to deal with temptation.   It also means exploring feelings of hunger and understanding what is real hunger, and what is mouth hunger and what is behind each type of hunger at different times.  It’s about continuously observing actions and patterns in order to gain “will-power” so you will get through temptation.  It also means becoming self-aware without judgement because this process is a journey and no one gets it right immediately.

A Good Health Coach

There is nothing like a good health coach to help you lose weight.  An impartial, supportive and knowledgeable coach will get you to your goal.  A good health coach will address both the nutritional and emotional components of eating by navigating you through your logistics of losing weight and keeping it off.

Barbara does personal health coaching in person or through Skype and can be reached at barbarahgroth@gmail.com.  Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AHealthyWeighTodayLLC/