Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fresh Fitness Focus For February

Okay…so here‘s the deal.  As you know January is almost behind us and February is on our heels, and sometimes we use specific benchmarks as a starting point or a deadline for something we want to do or accomplish (like losing weight).

As dieters a specific benchmark we tend to use is “Monday mornings” – especially after a weekend of joyfully eating our way through social gatherings, or baking up a storm because it’s cold outside.  Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ll start my diet on Monday morning” and then what typically happens by Thursday?  You get my point.

You can’t start to diet without first figuring out some of those psychological issues you have about dieting/food first.  Part of it is dealing with the mindless eating that we all partake in and having strategies to help you deal with mindless eating.

The way you think about dieting has to change first before you think about what diet you’ll be on (which should be second).  If you’re interested in learning more about that, the TrainYour Brain ecourse might be what you’re looking for.

But in the meantime, how about a fresh start for February!  And I love the fact that February doesn’t start on a Monday, so starting on a Tuesday will be different than what you‘re use to.

Have your focus be on what you can do right this month with your eating, diet and exercise, and not what you’ve been doing wrong.

Focus on one small change you can make this month.
Focus on having a new dieting language this month
(No more “I can‘t do this,” or “It’s too hard to do this consistently.“  Change to thinking more like this – “I‘m doing this for the rest of my life, if I made one mistake right now I can start over right now, and not wait until Monday”).

Focus on you this coming month!

Dieting and Depression

(this is a long one – bare with me – the topic was on my heart and mind)

So the question begs – are you depressed because you’re overweight and should be dieting, or, has your unsuccessful attempts at dieting caused you to be depressed?

This time of year can be hard for a couple of reasons:  Number One, it’s Winter (need I say more) and some individuals really struggle with more inactivity and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) issues.  And Number Two, we seem to be deluged with diet books, diet commercials, weight loss tv shows and feel we should do something about our extra pounds.

Now, real depression in and of itself is a tricky thing, and there’s all kinds of reasons for it.  What might get one person down, another individual takes that same event, situation, or feeling and runs with it and doesn’t give it another negative thought.

There are many reasons for depression – there are biological reasons (genetics and biochemical factors), psychological reasons (your coping style and temperament), and social reasons (your family and presence of – or lack of – support systems).

And maybe you wouldn’t personally tell someone that you’re feeling depressed because of biological or psychological reasons (usually that’s not how we talk), but maybe things aren’t going well, or you’re not feeling your physical best and you might tell someone you’re not sure why you’re feeling down, sad, lonely, frustrated, you just know you feel that way.

Some times it’s easier to look at our circumstances as the cause for ‘depression’ – maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom and the daily routine of dealing with kids and kid “stuff” is just getting to the point where it’s overwhelming.

Or what about the job you have that’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and you feel frustrated.

Or what about the relationship with (insert one of the following: your husband, your friend, your sibling, your wife, your child, your whatever) is fragmented and you’re at a loss as to how to fix it anymore.

Or what about this one – the weather is too hot, cold, bright, dull, cloudy, gloomy, sunny, barren or whatever other adjective you can think of.  By the way, as I already mentioned, this time of year (also known as Winter) is very tough for some folks and the weather can be an emotional deal-breaker for some!

Believe it or not, I can relate to all of the above. At some point in my own life, I’ve had to deal with moments of despair, feelings of worthlessness, and some things have just left me feeling boxed in.

Have you ever felt like any of the above? And one thing leads to another, and maybe you put on a few pounds as the years go by, and the image you have of yourself starts to suffer, and those heavy, very real feelings and emotions take over your thoughts.

Here are some tips or ideas to get you thinking differently:

1.  If you’re feeling bad about your body size, I want you to think about one thing you can start to do differently today. Just one thing.  It seems too simple to only do one thing, and, I’m just going to guess on this one, you feel you have to be making more of an Herculean effort to lose weight.

Good research on weight loss will tell you to start small and focus on one goal, as you are more likely to feel you can accomplish one goal and be successful at it before you move on to other weight loss goals.

Can you start drinking 6 glasses of water a day? Can you start exercising for 10 – 12 minutes a day? I don’t care what it is, just start climbing out of the black hole of weight loss attempts and DO SOMETHING – anything.  But start small!

2. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely or isolated, find a good support system.

Sometimes nothing can take the place of properly used medication and good solid counseling, but there’s also times – even when you don’t want to – that you have to reach out to others.

I was listening to John Tesh the other day (he’s always very interesting) and he said  research shows that when you reach out to other people (in spite of your own circumstances) that feel-good chemicals are released within your brain and becomes like a shot of the serotonin (for the person who was initially feeling ‘depressed’) when you reach out and help others.  That made sense to me.

Support systems are always an invaluable resource to have in your life. There’s nothing like a nonjudgmental ear to listen to you, or just good people that you can hang with, have fun with and forget about yourself for awhile.  Laughter is good medicine.

3. Surround yourself with positive mantras (self-talk) – at work, in your home, car, wherever you spend time. A mantra is just commonly repeated words or phrases.

For example, throughout the last several months when I have found myself wondering and questioning things in my life, I have quoted a very specific scripture that keeps me focused, and my spirit quiet.  Repeating scripture in my thoughts during doubting moments has helped me to refocus.

I also like specific quotes. For those of you who know me, you know I have used this one -  “Don’t trade in what you want most for what you want at the moment.” It’s just a short easy quote that I can repeat when faced with temptation, or I need motivation.

Positive self-talk (or mantras) can help you find peace, helps clear your mind, and keeps you from feeling stuck.

Try these three things to get you moving in the right direction. And never ever give up!

Best Diet Ever!

I think I found the best diet ever. I’m kidding of course.  I’ve been sick the last couple days and I’m amazed at what happens to our appetite when we’re not feeling our best.

I mean, where does it go – where does your hunger go?.  How does it happen that you don’t even feel like eating (one of those rare moments in life), there’s just absolutely no mindless eating at all.  Yea!  It seems effortless.

And when you do feel like you should eat something, nothing sounds good.  How often does THAT happen!! There’s not even a growling stomach, and if there has been, I haven’t been aware of it.

I’m not a scientist, not even a doctor, so part of me is interested in the physiological part of why our bodies do what they do when we’re physical ill.  On the other hand, I know I should just “ride the wave” and be excited about a potential 2 pound weight loss.

I know, I know….it will come back as soon as I start eating “normal” – can’t you just let me enjoy the moment!

So while I’m weathering the storm, I’m enjoying a reprieve about not worrying about food, what I should eat, how many calories are involved, or when I’ll be eating.

Some things to keep in mind however when you’re sick:

Stay hydrated, slurp on some soup, maybe munch on some toast, and just get rest.  Getting sick is your body’s way of telling you something.  Slow down, do what you need to do for you. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you are no good to anyone else.

Who’d thought that something good could come out of being sick.  Here’s to better healthier days ahead.

King of Exercise

There was the King of Pop. The King of Rock and Roll. And now the King of Exercise.  For those of you who have been under a rock, fitness guru Jack LaLanne died this week at the age of 96. Un-be-lievable!

I remember watching him as a kid, in his one piece leotard, holding on to the side of the chair while raising his leg up and down, up and down all the while encouraging those watching to take heed of his advice about the value of moving your body.

I guess he showed us all what living a healthy life was all about.

In the many tributes to Jack this week, I caught a glimpse of an interview he did and he said that “….people don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity…”

And that got me thinking about my post on January 17th called Exercise: Booty, Sweat & Tears (lot of tears) – check it out again – Jack was right, OUR BODIES ARE MEANT TO MOVE!

Exercise tells our cells to grow, and gives us psychological benefits, and just generally makes us feel better and look good.  I encourage you today to “move it move it” – any way you can.

Visualize Weight Loss Success!

I was watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show and she had New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees as a guest. Ellen asked him (I’m ab-libbing now) how he feels and what he’s thinking when there’s an important play to be made, there’s two minutes left, and you know that what you do in the next play is critical to either winning or losing the biggest game of your life – how are you feeling at that moment?

Drew responded saying that because he has gone over that play countless times (throughout the week) in his head, that when he gets to that stressful moment, he’s not thinking, he’s just doing because he’s already visualized a thousand times what the successful outcome will look like.

And of course me being me, I related his comments to our weight loss attempts. You hear of professional athletes using visualization all the time. Do you think “visualizing” is beneficial for athletes only? Heck no!

Think for a minute what he was doing – He was visualizing what he had to do and how he was going to do it ahead of time so when he’s feeling the stress of the moment, he doesn’t buckle.

How many times do you start your day without a plan and the first time you were hit with a growling stomach, or a pain in the neck co-worker, or the children grumping about something, or anything else that goes wrong in your day (I could keep listing if you wanted me to), that you buckle and find yourself grabbing food to soothe whatever feeling you were having at that moment.

Let me challenge you to do this – visualize yourself how you want to look.  Go on….take a moment to do that.

Now visualize yourself taking the steps to do it (there are many, I realize). See yourself actually doing the first step that you need to take. Just start with the first step.

Now, the most important thing, visualize how you’re going to respond when stress creeps up, boredom creeps in, icky life situations creep around, and you just want to pop something in your mouth.  In your minds eye, visualize what you will do about that sensation, that feeling.

Visualize yourself putting down the food.
Visualize yourself walking away.
Visualize yourself giving yourself a pep talk (you may need it at this point).
Visualize how you are going to achieve weight loss success.

Visualize success. And every time your thinking wonders back to “I’ve never been able to do this long term,” visualize yourself having a new weight loss language.

What YOU do in the next play of the game is critical to either winning or losing the biggest game of your life. Visualize winning!

Changing Your Health Behaviors

Food for thought (no pun intended):

I just read something from RUHBC (Research Unit in Health & Behavioral Change), that I think you might find interesting. The evidence from people who have changed their health behavior suggests that there are certain minimum conditions required for that change to take place:

1. The change must be self-initiated: Some people react adversely or wish to contain any attempt to look at their ‘food use’ (by a doctor, therapist, diet coach, etc). To some people, their behavior may not seem unhealthy at all but may constitute as a clear source of well being, its benefits far outweighing its risks. There is a clear message here – people will only change if they want to or feel they need to.

People are more likely to welcome change if it’s something they initiate, not something they’re told they have to, or should, do.

2. The behavior must become salient (noticeable, outstanding): Most health-related behaviors including smoking, alcohol use, eating and exercise are habitual, and built into the flow of everyday life such that the individual does not give them much thought.

For change to occur, that behavior or habit must be called into question by some other activity or event so that the behavior becomes salient (noticeable, outstanding, prominent).

3. The salience of the behavior must appear over a period of time: The habitual behavior needs to become difficult to maintain. The new behavior must, in turn, become part of everyday life. For example, one reason why people on diets often resume their previous eating patterns is because they are made constantly aware of the diet and it is never allowed to become a habit.

Similarly, exercise is often not maintained because it requires effort, hence the advice to reluctant couch potatoes to build physical activity into their daily life by walking to work or running upstairs rather than going out to exercise at a pool or gym. The new behavior must be made as easy as possible.

4. The behavior is not part of the individual’s coping strategies: People have various sources of comfort and solace and will resist change to these behaviors.

For example, some people may use food as a way to escape and not realize they’re using food as a coping strategy. It would be helpful then for the person who wants to initiate change to learn how to identify alternative coping strategies.

5. The individual’s life should not be challenging or uncertain: There is a limit to a person’s capacity to adapt and change. Having to make changes in their health behavior may be too much to expect for people whose lives are already challenging.

6. Social support is important: The presence and interest of other people provides reinforcement, accountability and keeps the behavior salient. Changing one’s behavior can be stressful and individuals need support.

The ability to communicate with others who are struggling with change in their life is critical to success.  Please join our network of support here at Thinking Thin Lifestyle and tell us how YOU are making changes (big and small) with your health behaviors!

Mind Diets vs Food Diets

In the push and pull of our desire to win the battle of the bulge, I am convinced that the answer lie’s not so much in the correct “food diet” you are on, but with the “mind diet” that you have

A mind diet is an acquired taste for sure! You have to experience it repeatedly to become a new fan of this mindset. And at first it can seem unpleasant (or hard) because you’re not use to it but shifting your mindset is one of the best weight loss tools you will have.

So put aside how many fruits or vegetables you should be eating today, or how many carbs, calories or fiber grams you should be ingesting and just think about this – how does someone change the way they think about losing weight?

Hold on a minute, I know what’s going through your mind right now, “I know how I got here, I eat too much” but it’s bigger than that. You may know how to lose weight (the best diet of the moment) but do you know the why or what of losing weight?

One of the best books I’ve read recently is Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. book, Succeed – How We Can Reach Our Goals. Among many things she addresses about goal setting is the following:

Goals can be thought of in relatively abstract, why-am-I-doing-this terms or in more concrete, what-am-I-actually-doing terms.

For example, dealing with your unwanted pounds can be thought of as “getting healthier” (why) or “shopping, cooking, and eating better” (what).

Think about your goals in why terms when you want to get energized, stay motivated, or avoid temptations.

Think about your goals in what terms when you are dealing with something particularly difficult, unfamiliar, or anything that takes a long time to learn.

I encourage you to start your mind diet today and know the why and what to help guide you on your weight to a thinner YOU!

Eating Protein in Your Daily Diet

Admittedly I am not a dietician or nutritionist but I know the importance of having protein as part of your diet. I know that protein helps our cells to grow and repair, and plays all sorts of roles in maintaining our health, and protein can give us an energy boost.

I also know there are days when my ‘whole diet’ is less than desirable and while exercise has really been helping me with my energy levels, there are moments throughout my day where I can feel zapped (thankfully not every day). So before I start “stupid eating” (another term I use with myself for MINDLESS EATING) I’ve been grabbing this quick snack and it seems to really be holding me over until I can get to a healthy lunch or dinner.

I just want to share with you about an All Natural Nutritional Bar that I recently discovered while cruising the aisles of Costco and I absolutely l-o-v-e them. These bars are high in protein and they seem to really help suppress my appetite.

I’ve been looking for a good, ‘complete’ bar that would be easy to snack on when I was pinched for time and help to eliminate that gnawing feeling of hunger – that can sometimes get you into trouble with mindless eating!!

I am not an expert with all the choices of protein or nutritional bars on the market, I’m simply sharing with you my experience. They’re called Classic Zone Perfect and I particularly like Fudge Graham (14g protein) and Chocolate Peanut Butter (15g protein).

Let me know if you have found a protein or nutritional bar that has worked for you – my other criteria is it has to be moist/fresh and actually taste good!

www.commonsensehealth.com is a good resource to get a complete printable list of foods high in protein and foods with calorie, carbs and protein content – very helpful for those of you who want more protein in your diet.

Exercise: Booty, Sweat & Tears (lots of tears)

“3..2..1..give me 8 more…” the exercise instructor screams into the mic, as the music is pounding, and the sweat is pouring.  Off of me, not so much her.

In the meantime, I’m screaming in my head “…are you kidding me…you said the same thing 8 counts ago…come on”

You see, I’m standing here looking at the beginning of my 50th decade, and moving this body isn’t always as easy as it once was, but thankfully I do place a high value on the importance of exercising my body and so that keeps me plugging along at what I know is best for “the ol‘ girl” (aka “my body”).

Then there’s also that other little thing that you feel, that other little thing that gnaws at you with the slight intimidation factor that you have about going to a gym when you’re brand new to your 50th decade.  Sometimes I have those same thoughts you do “…are you kidding me, how can I compete with all the cute little outfits on the cute little body’s that the 20 and 30-somethings have…just forget it, I won’t go…”

But when I can recognize why I’m there, and I know deep down in my soul I’m not there to impress anyone anyway – the only person I really want to impress is ME.  I mean, good grief, I’m always really impressed with myself if I can exercise for a full hour and live to tell about it and be able to walk out the door in an upright fashion!

Yes, it’s true there are times when I feel as if I’ve gone 10 rounds with Floyd Mayweather (especially the next morning upon awakening and realize the lower half of my body won’t roll off the bed easily due to a lot of lunges and squatting the night before) but there’s nothing better then the ability to be able to move your body – and live to feel it!

Dr. Henry S. Lodge from Columbia Medical School wrote one of the best articles about our aging, changing bodies.  As he points out, the research says we can help our cells to grow and build healthy, vibrant bodies and sound minds by moving our bodies.  Our body’s are meant to move. He states that “Exercise is the master signaling system that tells our cells to grow instead of fade. When we exercise, that process of growth spreads throughout every cell in our bodies, making us functionally younger. Not a little bit younger – a lot young. True biological aging is a surprisingly slow and graceful process. You can live out your life in a powerful, healthy body if you are willing to put in the work.”

I think 50 is the best age ever.  And if exercise is the thing that prompts my body’s master signaling system to keep my cells growing, therefore making me function younger then I say bring on the kick boxing classes, and the Rumba classes, and the spinning classes, and any other thing that helps me MOVE MY BODY!  Are you willing to put in the work?

Mindless Night Time Eating

It crept upon me without even realizing it. Oh sure, I could blame it on restlessness (I was!), or I was bored (I wasn’t), or that it was a cold winter night and there was reruns on tv so I just wanted to check out what was in the cupboards. And the fridge. And husband’s secret stash area (that he doesn’t think I’m aware of).  But NOOOO, I was in a full fledged mental fog.  I tasted this, I took a bite of that and before I knew it, I was about 230 calories in to an outright craving.  Ugg.  It was truly mindless eating at it’s finest.

Thankfully I took control of my senses before any more collateral damage occurred.  I literally had to reverently bow my head just to break the stimulus to my visual senses.  It helped me take a deep breath and immediately re-assess what the heck I was doing.  I needed to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and regain control. Just when you think you have control….BAM….you wonder how you lost consciousness for a brief moment and woke up with crumbs on your lips.

I suppose it shows that I’m just as human as the person reading this.  I know the “tricks of the weight loss trade” and I found myself in a weak moment myself. A very weak moment.  I was also thinking I know how long it takes me on the treadmill to burn about 230 calories – so that helped me put an end to the nonsense eating too.

So remember this next time you find yourself mindlessly eating at night:

1. Do not get discouraged and start self-sabotaging thoughts and allow yourself to keep eating. The key is to make a MINDFUL decision about eating.

2. When you feel the intensity of a craving, distract yourself at all cost.  Journal your little heart out. Take a walk (away from the kitchen). Start a load of laundry (yes, I said that).  Basically do anything that doesn’t involve chewing and swallowing.

3. Take inventory of what’s going on emotionally and mentally within yourself when you’re mindlessly looking for something “little” to eat.  Don’t soothe emotions with food.  For example, if you’re bored, recognize it, admit it out loud (always very helpful to hear it said out loud, you hear it differently then just ‘mentioning’ it inside your head) and tell yourself that just because you’re bored doesn’t mean it will change with a little bit of food.

By the way, I left the kitchen and went back to my reruns!