I keep a file of articles that make big promises for health and wellness. Here is an example. The article, “Best Way to Lose Weight” suggested that we can shed surplus pounds to become healthier, happier, and feel better by changing a single habit.
Ready for this?
Tada! “Turn off the TV and take a walk.” Hmm, let’s think this through. If watching less TV, and walking more could guarantee weight loss, who wouldn’t want such a simple solution?
Most would agree that walking is a healthier lifestyle choice than sitting down watching TV (and munching on snack food). But should we jump on a single activity as the “best way” to get rid of holiday weight gain?]]>
Paging through a book of nursery rhymes, a legacy from a grandmother, was like traveling in a time machine to a distant past.
This passage caught my attention: “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice!” Ouch! at many levels, but let’s stay focused on sugar.
Sugar in many forms is added to most packaged and processed foods, even in foods we assume are sugar-free – like ketchup and salad dressing. Because our DNA and taste receptors are hardwired for sugar, many of us are attracted to such foods. Food manufacturers have capitalized on that!
Refined sugar is not a food, and the body does not treat it as such. For one thing, it provides only empty calories, devoid of any nutritional value. Depending upon your constitution, you may experience wide swings in blood sugar levels, or your body might trigger inflammation.
Some people find sugary foods and drinks addictive. During my 30’s I felt addicted to a soda called TAB. It was hard to stop drinking it and I felt withdrawal symptoms when I avoided it.]]>
Are you tired of losing and regaining the same weight … over and over again?
If you have lost and regained weight for years, you know that achieving and maintaining optimal weight at the age of 40 and beyond is not easy. You know that effective weight management needs to be a holistic process, (diet, stress, sleep and exercise all come into play), which includes building a healthy relationship with food.
A decades-long weight problem
I began dieting when I was 11 years old. At one point my weight crept up to 230 pounds. The yo-yoing up and down, the on again/off again diets seemed to indicate I was weak-willed.]]>
Magazines directed toward women are filled with teasers about weight loss, the “right” diet and life and body makeovers.
• Lose Every Bulge: Flat Belly, Toned Legs, Great Butt!• Exactly What to Eat to Get Slim! Secret Weight-Loss Soup!• Feel Amazing 24/7: Burn More Calories, Boost Brainpower, Sleep like a Baby!
Magazines tend to exploit our inner concerns that we are not inherently good enough and there is something wrong with us. Articles, adverts and celebrity endorsements can leave us filled with self-doubt.
To live up to the media’s vision of success, we would need to be at a perfect weight, have perfect skin and the body of a 20 year old. We would be totally confident, fearless and successful at work and at home.
Apart from scanning popular health magazines to keep tabs on what is happening in the health industry for my work, I choose to read magazines that empower, inspire and help me grow. (Send me an email if you would like my recommendations).]]>
Overeating is surprisingly common
Nearly 40 percent of Americans report stress eating or eating unhealthy foods when stressed (The Impact of Stress, American Psychological Association, 2014).
Many of us have identified “comfort foods,” as foods that can help us find relief from emotional stress. These are often high fat-high sugary treats, such as ice cream and chocolate, or highly processed fatty foods (junk foods).
Although stress eating can provide temporary relief, there is a well-known downside to comfort foods: excessive calories plus unwanted weight gain. Diet plans often call for the elimination of high fat/high sugar foods – No more chocolate brownies!]]>
Most of the diets I've tried in my "past dieting life" restricted the number of calories I could eat, but gave me one loop hole. I could eat all the so-called "free foods" I wanted - cucumber, celery, carrots, sugar-free candy, popsicles and chewing gum. And I took full advantage!
Looking at these "free" foods from a strictly caloric perspective, this idea makes sense. Most diets are based on a reduced calorie intake. Once you've eaten your quota for the day, and you still want to put food into your mouth, what do you do? Eat calorie "free" foods, of course!
I've found that these "free" foods are not as innocuous as they might seem, especially for those of us who have an issue with overeating or emotional eating, and who want to break free of these behaviors.
Here's a suggestion: The next time you eat a "calorie free" or "reduced calorie" or "low calorie" food option, let it pique your curiosity.
Some mindful questions to ask are: "What am I feeling?", "What's going on right now?", "Am I truly hungry?", "What do I really need in place of this food?"]]>
Does your life seem to be moving so fast that short-term solutions to vexing problems like not enough time or weight gain are tantalizing?
Many of us on the upswing of a yoyo diet lost weight, only to see lost pounds come roaring back, sometimes multiple times since our teen years. Rather than considering that the dieting process may be at fault, we might blame ourselves for not having the willpower to stick with it.
We keep trying the same solution over and over but in different guises - high protein diets; low fat diets; low-calorie meal replacements - looking for the quick pay off.
What is this "quick fix" mentality all about and why is it so enticing?
I think it promises hope that we can change quickly, it allows us an immediate strategy. It takes our minds off what's really going on.]]>
It's January and the Internet is full of recommendations to manage holiday weight gain and the winter blahs.
Are you, as I am, being bombarded by these types of "I know what's best for you strategies on how to lead a healthier life?"
Here are some examples of what I've seen. "Set realistic goals", "Shift your thinking", "Cut back", "Keep track of your progress", "Develop a positive attitude", "Watch portion sizes". I don't necessarily disagree with any of these prescriptions in themselves, but two things bother me:
The first - someone is telling me what to do from their particular viewpoint without understanding my particular situation. And the second, it just isn't possible to plunge into such advice all at once.
Attempting to make too many changes at one time can be a recipe for failure... and this we want to avoid at all costs.]]>
I will be upfront about this: I do not recommend using rules about eating to lose weight or to maintain weight loss for many reasons. Here is an example.
Let’s say that you want to fit into that cute dress you bought for your best friend's wedding. It's a teeny bit tight. You think, no problem! I will go on the "trim your belly fat diet". The fine print sets you up. Do not eat more than 1200 calories per day. You are doing great sticking to your 1200 calorie/day rule, then life intrudes to throw your plan off.
The weekend arrives and your family goes on a 6 1/2 mile hike. Here's the problem:You’ve burned through your 1200 calories and feel famished by the time you get home.
Now what? Here are some possible scenarios:You might refuse to eat even one calorie over your limit. You tell yourself, “I am on a diet!” and go to bed ravenously hungry.You might “give in” to hunger pangs and eat far more than 1200 calories. Oops, guilt sets in. “I trashed my diet, so I might as well eat up. I can always start dieting again on Monday.”Alternatively, you understand that 1200 calories simply is not enough to compensate for the extra physical exertion and you take along a healthy snack to avoid a drop in blood sugar. At dinner you feel a usual level of hunger - nothing drastic - and you are able to eat slowly and calmly. Your hunger is satisfied before getting stuffed.
Which of these outcomes rings true?]]>
Dieters and non-dieters have a difference of opinion about when the week begins. For non-dieters the week begins on Sunday.
Many women with a dieting history and recurrent weight loss (and I was one) begin a new diet on a Monday. There are several reasons for starting a diet on Monday:
For example, the dieter may feel she can eat whatever she wants on weekends confident that on Monday she can begin dieting with a clean slate. It's Monday. Hurray! I'm off to a fresh start!
Now it's Wednesday. Hopes for a quick result dips. Does stress build-up? Then Friday arrives. Spirits rise. Might I even relax a little? So my diet slips and I eat too much. It's okay though because on Monday I can start dieting again - another fresh start!Questions like these might help you understand why you chose to diet: Am I dieting because I want to be more sexy, attractive, beautiful? Am I dieting because I want to be more loved, nurtured and cherished? Am I dieting because I want to beat mid-life aging?
When you look at the dieting mindset this way, does starting a dieting week on Sunday or Monday make any difference?]]>
It's mid-afternoon. You’re not actually hungry, but you’re feeling a little bored, tired, maybe even frustrated or stressed. So you decide to munch something, but you want a healthy snack. An apple is a good choice, right?
Now suppose you eat an apple a day for a month, as a healthy snack to mask those unpleasant feelings. That seems innocent enough: Everyone knows an apple beats salty, crunchy fatty snacks any day.
Yet each apple supplies at least 150 calories. That’s an extra 150 calories a day, or 1050 extra calories per week, an extra 4200 calories a month. If nothing else changes, these extra calories will probably end up as fat. If it takes burning 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat….. You can see where I am going with this.
It’s helpful to remember that all foods, “healthy” or not, provide calories. If you are not losing the weight you want, you might cut back on snacks when you aren’t hungry (even healthy ones).
Better yet: Try exploring the stress that prompts you to snack in the first place.]]>