Cravings

EXCUSES- You Might Just Have to Eat Them to Lose Weight!

 

It’s a good thing we have excuses isn’t it? And, OH! How we rely on them! I mean, really! Where would we be without them? The simple answer is…"without an excuse." That’s where we’d be. And that’s one thing we humans do not like — to be left without excuses. For some of us, we cling to our excuses like an old friend. Always keeping them close by our side, knowing we can rely on them if we get in a tight spot.

We use excuses all the time for various situations. It’s something we learned how to do even as a child. One of those situations where we find it especially handy to reach into our bag of excuses is to justify why we can’t lose weight. And we all know there's no end to the excuses for not eating right and exercising. Listed below I want to go over just a few of them that are used quite frequently:

  • I have bad genes
  • Eating healthy is too expensive
  • I’m too busy
  • I’m too tired
  • I have a slow metabolism
  • I’ll start tomorrow

Let’s take a look at the word, excuse. We all pretty much know what it is. But just for kicks and giggles I decided to look the definition up. And where else would I go for this but my ole friend Google and here’s what I found:

  1. An attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify.
  2. Release (someone) from a duty or requirement.

Whelp, there it is, in black and white. We use an excuse to release us from the blame. In essence, we are stating, “It’s not my fault I can’t lose weight, there’s a reason!” Oh really? You don’t say? Well, let’s back the train up just a little shall we? Lets dig a little deeper into some of the excuses I listed above.

Bad GenesYes, you might carry an inherited predisposition toward (have and increased risk factor for) obesity. There are studies that have identified more than 90 genes associated with body fatness. The gene with the biggest effect is called FTO. This gene is suspected to increase the likelihood that a person with this gene will be obese by about 23 percent. However, that doesn’t mean you are off the hook and here’s why. Studies have also shown that individuals carrying this gene still respond to weight-loss treatments that use diet, physical activity, or medication. So the bottom line is, Genetics may influence weight, but it doesn’t dictate what you can do about it.
Healthy eating is too expensive - Let’s be real! It’s expensive to eat today period! BUT it’s more cost effective to choose your food wisely. Natural healthy food such as fresh fruit and vegetables can be the cheapest food around. Especially if you buy what is in season. You can usually get a 3lb. bag of apples for 3.99 anytime of the year. How does that compare to an 11oz. bag of potato chips or cookies for the same price? Eating artificially sweetened, overly sugary, over-processed and nutrient deficient foods will in the long run always be more expensive when it comes to your health. You can’t afford not to eat healthy!
Too busy - What? Come on. Let’s just cut to the chase. What you really mean to say is that you didn’t take the time to think ahead and plan, right? We are all busy. If you will be honest with yourself, you will have to admit that when you think something is important you somehow find the time to make it happen. So make healthy eating and exercise a priority in your life and you will find the time!
Too tired - Well, really, this is all the more reason to eat right and exercise! Our bodies rely on the energy and nutrients we get from food. A healthy diet of high-quality protein, carbohydrates and fat from whole, unprocessed food over the course of any given day combined with exercise will go a long way in giving you the energy you need. So when planning your meals, ask yourself this question, “Will this food drain me or sustain me?” to help you make the right choices.
Slow metabolism - Sorry folks but contrary to common belief, a slow metabolism is rarely the cause of excess weight gain. (Shoot! I’ll bet you thought that was a good one huh?) Although our metabolism influences our body’s basic energy needs, it’s our caloric intake through food and beverages and our physical activity that ultimately determines how much we weigh. Even though some people seem to be able to lose weight more easily or quicker than others, everyone will lose weight when they burn up more calories than they take in.
I’ll start tomorrow - Remember that song “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie? In the chorus she sings, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love ya tomorrow it’s only a day away.” The people that use this excuse could just as well be singing, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll diet tomorrow, it’s always a day away!” So, unless it’s 11:59 pm when you find yourself wanting to use this excuse, you need to be honest with yourself and just start TODAY!

You know I could go on and on to discuss all the excuses we make to justify ourselves regarding this subject. But I think you get the point. The fact is, the practice of making excuses can be the biggest barrier to successful long term weight loss and stability. Do you really want to lose weight once and for all to improve your health? Then the first order of business is to stop making excuses and just do it!

Granted, it might be easier said than done. But if you stop right there? — Well, you will have just used another excuse. So I am going to encourage you to adopt a “can-do” attitude to make healthy eating and exercise a priority. I believe you can do it! And if you need some help to get started, please give me a call at (616) 516-1570 or click on the “Contact” tab to make an appointment. And let’s try to change those excuses of “why you can’t” into reasons of “why you CAN!”

 

 

 

Are You Addicted to Food? / Here’s How to Find Out!

In my last blog titled, “Cravings - Who Hasn’t, “ I mentioned that addiction could be one of the reasons behind the cravings. And because I was only able to briefly touch on the subject I wanted to dedicate this entire blog to address it more fully.

Typically when you hear the word, “addiction,” your thoughts go immediately to substances that are potentially harmful or illegal, such as, alcohol, tobacco, street drugs, or maybe a behavior like gambling. So it might seem strange that you could actually link addiction in the same sentence with food. However, in some cases it’s true. The brain and body can become dependent on a healthy substance like food.

Whereas an individual would have to purposely seek out a source as to where and how to purchase a street drug, food on the other hand is everywhere. We need food to survive, that’s just a fact. It's also used as a source of pleasure and a means of social interaction, holidays, and special events.

We not only use food to comfort ourselves but we also use it as a way to nurture our loved ones. For example, I have many memories of my dear beloved grandma coming over to our house to drop off cans of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and an eight pack of Coca-cola whenever me or one of my sisters was sick. Of course this was also the same grandma who would let us have ice cream for breakfast because she said there was eggs in it, but I digress. The point I want to make here is that because we have to have food to survive we can’t just abstain from it like we could with any other substance or behavior that is addictive — that’s why it can be difficult to control.

When the need to consume food becomes compulsive and uncontrollable, that, is when you know that food has turned into a source of addiction. Even though the person might try to control the addictive behavior through dieting, they usually will fall back into overeating in response to emotions and stressful life events. However, when they take this course of action, the initial rush of pleasurable sensations or the release from emotional distress will quickly be followed by feelings of shame, guilt, and physical discomfort.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS                                                                

Food addiction can be recognizable by many signs and symptoms. The following are just some of the possible symptoms:

  • Obsessive food cravings, going out of the way to obtain and consume certain foods.
  • Continuing to eat even though you are no longer hungry.
  • Eating to the point of feeling ill.
  • Eating in secret, isolation.
  • Repeated attempts to stop overeating only to relapse into addictive behaviors.
  • Needing to consume more food in order to get the same sense of emotional release or comfort.
  • The behavior is having a negative impact on family, work, finances, or social life.

CAUSES OF FOOD ADDICTION

So how does one get to be addicted to food? Well, it’s likely the culmination of several factors that interact in the overall cause of this disorder. It may be the result of biological, psychological, or social reasons.
Emotions and stress - Responding to stress by eating, even when not hungry. Eating to enhance positive emotions and to reduce negative emotions. Often turning to high-calorie or high-carbohydrate foods that have minimal nutritional value as a “reward” for an accomplishment or when something bad happens because the individual feels, “they deserve it.” Emotional eaters often crave “comfort foods or feel good foods” like ice cream, cookies, pizza, french fries and chocolate, etc.
Brain chemistry - Foods that are rich in fat and sugar can change the reward centers of the brain in a similar way as drugs and alcohol. In fact, in some studies it has been shown that sugar might actually have a stronger effect on the brain’s reward system than addictive drugs like cocaine. Eating these kinds of food prompt a part of the brain to make endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals can trigger binge eating. The foods also spark dopamine which motivates feeding behavior and the prefrontal cortex which influences decision making. In some people, the actions of these brain chemicals that regulate the reward systems can overcome hormonal signals and any conscious attempts to stop eating even though they are full. And the strong pull of wanting the high-calorie foods wins out over the knowledge that what they are eating is damaging to their health.
Genetics - According to the National Institutes of Health about 40% to 60% of addiction risk is attributable to genetics. However, a persons DNA is not their destiny. Lifestyle and environment can influence how a gene functions. That means that everything from the food we eat, our activity levels, stress levels, and the pollution we’re exposed to can change a gene’s expression. Dr. Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH a science and nutrition expert explains that poor choices, such as eating a lot of sugary snacks, for example, have the potential to “switch on” genes related to obesity and addiction in her book, The Hunger Fix. But she also states that efforts to improve your diet and environment can enhance the functioning of good genes and dampen the bad ones.
Trauma - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious potentially debilitating condition that may occur as a result of experiencing or witnessing events such as a natural disaster, sudden death of a loved one, violent personal assault such as rape or other life-threatening events. PTSD and eating disorders often co-occur. Individuals suffering from an eating disorder usually report a history of trauma. It is suggested that the engaging in the behaviors of an eating disorder may be a way of controlling or coping with the troubling emotions and experiences linked with PTSD.

At first glance, people may think of food addiction as relatively harmless compared to an addiction to alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin. However, compulsive overeating can take a severe toll on physical and emotional health. Professional treatment is often required to break the cycle of addictive overeating and restore a healthy relationship to food. If you recognize that you are dealing with a food addiction, don’t ignore it, please call (616) 516-1570 to make an appointment. I would like to help you break that cycle and help you live a more healthy and fulfilling life!

Food Cravings? – Who hasn’t?

 

There I was going about my business one day and I started to get the “urge.” I pushed the thought to the back recesses of my mind and carried on with the business at hand. It worked for a little while and then, there it was again. This cycle repeated itself several times over the next couple of hours. Now, I don’t know how or when it happened but the next thing I knew I looked down at my desk and there was this pile of silver Hershey Kiss wrappers laying in a most accusatory fashion. I looked around for someone to blame — really hard! But, my door was shut and since no one had entered my office I eventually had to come to the conclusion that I, yes I, had caved to the crave.

Cravings — If you are alive, chances are pretty good that you have experienced them. People can crave all sorts of things such as attention, drugs, alcohol, etc. But in this blog I will be discussing food cravings.

I’ve never met a person who hasn’t had a food craving. And whether you have a sweet tooth or you tend to reach for a salty snack, I’m sure it has hit you at one point or another. And when you do succumb to your cravings, you probably feel guilty for having strayed from your otherwise healthy lifestyle habits.

Have you ever noticed how we can crave certain foods, even when we are not hungry? What’s up with that? Well, there is not just one answer that fits all people. So, below I will offer a few possibilities that are the most common reasons why we get food cravings along with some tips to help fight them:

SIMPLE CONDITIONING
One of the biggest psychological reasons people crave certain foods is because of conditioned responses to things such as certain activities, people or places that act as a trigger. Many of these can be from childhood where they learned through experience that certain foods made them feel better or made them feel emotionally satisfied. As an example, when you were young you were always offered something sweet after you had finished your chores or after losing a baseball game your family headed to the nearest ice cream parlor. If this practice became more of a daily occurrence instead of a once in a while one, it set up a pattern that you probably carried into adulthood where you find yourself rewarding yourself with the same kind of “treat” because you feel that you deserve it. Conditioned responses go hand in hand with emotional eating.

Tip: If you can figure out what triggers your craving, you will be better able to control the temptation. It’s actually a simple concept albeit a tough one to carry out. But it can be done. So to break the “habit” that has been established, the first thing to do is to identify when the food craving hits so you can see if there is a pattern. Second, take note of what specific foods you crave at those times. Think back on life experiences in which food was connected to a specific food. What emotions were connected to the food? (happy, sad, upset, anxious, fear) When you figure out the “why” behind your food cravings you can then start to actively fight them. Remember, tell yourself that your body does not need the food you are craving only that it has been conditioned to crave it, therefore, you can also condition the craving to stop!

ADDICTION
Have you considered that you might be addicted to the foods you crave? It’s entirely possible. Let me explain. While you can be addicted to any food, most of the time it’s going to be foods with a high sugar, fat or salt content. Eating these foods stimulate the reward center of your brain by producing endorphins in your body. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals that are naturally manufactured in the brain. They are called the natural opiates of the body. Opiate drugs, such as morphine, codeine, heroin, and opium, are powerful painkillers derived from the poppy plant. These drugs alter pain perception, making it easier to tolerate, and elevate mood. Now isn’t it interesting that the human body produces its own opiates, called endorphins. So when we eat these kinds of foods and experience that, “feel good” feeling we want more—similar to the way drug users get addicted to narcotics. In fact, there are studies that show sugar can actually have a more intense feeling of reward than cocaine.

TIP: No real easy way to do this but if you are serious about wanting to break this habit, the first thing you need to do is “detox” your body by not eating the foods you are addicted to. That’s easier said than done because you will go through a withdrawal process. But if you can hang in there for about two weeks you can reset your hormones and break the food-addiction cycle. After the detox period, you can begin to introduce some of the foods back into your diet very slowly.

PHYSIOLOGICAL CRAVINGS
Some food cravings can be physiological or biochemical in origin, and could be caused by hormonal and chemical imbalances in your brain and nervous system. For example: Serotonin is involved with the regulation of mood and impulsive behaviors. Many studies have identified links between mood changes and low serotonin levels with food cravings. When serotonin levels drop or are deficient, you can develop cravings for carb-rich foods. Unstable blood sugar levels can be also be a physiological trigger. Whether from eating large amounts of carbohydrates, especially high-glycemic carbohydrates causing your levels to spike quickly then come crashing down or experiencing low blood sugar from not eating because of a too restrictive diet.

TIP: Keeping your blood sugar stable and eating high-quality carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables instead of high-glycemic carbohydrates (cakes, cookies, processed foods, etc.) can help. Also, once again, exercise is good for you by increasing your serotonin levels and it might as well help to decrease your food cravings. Instead of totally cutting out certain foods (which can sometimes cause you to crave even more) try to substitute with a lower-glycemic food that is similar to what high-glycemic food you are craving.

So, as you can see, there really isn’t a “simple” answer as to why we experience food cravings. We are all different and each persons cravings can be caused by one factor or multiple reasons. But, if you can learn the basics of how your own body works, then you can make better food choices to control the cravings instead of the cravings controlling you. If you would like help in doing just that, please give me a call at (616) 516-1570 or you can also click on the “contact” tab in the upper right hand side of the page. I look forward to your call!

Breaking the Cycle of Weight Gain and Depression

People are always looking for ways to lose weight. And for some, they will try every pill, gimmick, drink, etc., trying to drop those unwanted pounds. Only to discover after much frustration that nothing they buy or try will work. And as their weight hangs on or even keeps going up depression sets in—or could it possibly be the other way around?

What comes first, weight gain and then depression? Or depression first and then weight gain? Unfortunately, the experts don't know. But one thing they all agree on is that weight problems and depression are both heavy burdens to bear and they often go hand in hand. While some people experience weight loss with depression, weight gain is much more common and can lead to serious health issues.

So the question is, why, are depression and weight issues so closely linked? Well, to put it simply, the part of the brain responsible for emotion also controls the appetite. And when this emotional part of the brain gets disturbed in someone who is depressed, their appetite gets disturbed as well.

EMOTIONS AND APPETITES 
Emotional eating is when you eat not because of physical hunger but rather emotional hunger. When a person eats in response to their emotions, they are trying to soothe themselves by the food as it changes the chemical balance in their brain. Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content may make you feel better, but only temporarily. And because the person associates the “feel good” feeling with the food, they want to eat more which leads to weight gain which in turn makes them feel bad about themselves which then leads to more eating and the vicious cycle has begun. Breaking that cycle can be quite challenging.

Because depression and weight are so closely linked, it is important to tackle both problems in order to get the upper hand on the situation. It’s not so important to figure out which problem came first but rather which one should get the most attention initially. If someone is severely depressed and overweight, the depression should be the primary focus. However if someone is exhibiting an eating disorder such as bulimia, and their eating is out of control, that would become the primary focus.

So assuming the person is depressed, overweight and is looking for help, what do they need to do? It might be surprising but the same tactic to control weight applies if you have depression—Decrease calories and increase physical activity. Now we know that when a person is depressed, they probably find it harder to muster up the energy to just get out of bed in the morning let alone make wise choices on what they are going to eat. However, it is critical to find a way to do both despite the effects the depression is having on them. So below I will offer some tips on weight management that will also help with depression.

BE MORE ACTIVE
Get moving! Most people with depression and weight gain have over time reduced their amount of physical activity. The low energy that comes with depression can be debilitating. But exercise is so key to treating not only the weight but the depression as well. Look at it as something you can do for yourself. And by taking an active role in caring for yourself it makes you feel good which in itself can be therapeutic.

And keep in mind that every bit of physical activity helps. It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and lift weights or run on a treadmill—unless that’s what you like. If you are struggling with low energy start out small. Set a goal to get out of bed in the morning and doing some stretches for a few minutes every day for a week, then add a walk and then other activities that bring you pleasure. By building on these small changes, overtime you will feel more in control, have a more positive outlook, and become more motivated to exercise.

MAKE GOOD CHOICES
Depression and food unfortunately results in unhealthy eating choices. People with low self-esteem often use food as a way to stuff their feelings of inadequacy and depression. So to turn this beast around examine the relationship between your depression symptoms and food. Consider the feelings you have about your weight and be mindful of how and when you use food. Food should be seen and used as a source of nutrition, not as an outlet for depression.

To help you start each day with the intention of eating healthy, I am going to give you a list of affirmations I found in an article by Self-Esteem Experts that I really like. Each day pick an affirmation from the list below or make up your own and repeat it to yourself throughout the day.

  • Today I choose to eat healthily because I love myself.
  • I eat for nutrition, not for boredom.
  • Today I replace sugary food with healthy choices.
  • I forgive myself for overeating. I will make healthier choices today.
  • I eat food that is good for me.
  • I make wise food choices.
  • I nourish myself with water, exercise and healthy food.

FEEL BETTER
Ahhh, that will be the reward!—To feel better. By taking charge of your life a step at a time and addressing the relationship between your weight and depression it will help to create a better body image. And as you decrease your weight by eating healthy you will also find that it will lead to higher self-esteem and a feeling of empowerment and content.

If you would like some help as you journey through this process of making the connection that by feeding your body you are also feeding your mind I encourage you to make an appointment with me at (616) 516-1570 or clicking on the “connect tab.” I look forward to helping you down the path of emotional and physical well-being.

ON YOUR WAY TO HAPPY AND HEALTHY!

 

There’s a well known drugstore whose advising slogan is that you can find their stores at the corner of “happy and healthy.” I know it is implying that they have what it takes to help you to be just that—happy and healthy. I get it — it’s a catchy slogan. The store fills much needed prescriptions, vitamins and other health related aids. And I even frequent their stores quite often. However, we all know that we need more than the corner drugstore to make us truly happy and healthy.

I know, I know, it might seem like I’m making too much out of it but just bear with me a minute. I want to ask you a question. Who or what really has what it takes to accomplish what the drugstore is advertising? What’s your guess?

I’ll tell you where I found the answer just in case you are wondering on where to look. In fact it’s super easy for anyone to find the answer. All I had to do and what everyone else needs to do is look in a mirror. Yep! That’s all there is to it. It’s me, it’s you. Okay, I hope I didn’t just pop someones bubble right there but it’s true!

Now let’s go back to the drugstore for a minute. I’m glad we have them because they are much needed. But let me point out something to you. To get a prescription, bandaids, cold medicine, vitamins or what ever else might be needed from there, you have to go to the store to either pick up a prescription or buy what you need right? Now if you wander around in the store a little it won’t take you very long before you come across some items that might be on the temporary “happy” list but are definitely not on the “heathy list”

And don’t even get me started on the after holiday candy sales! Ugh! I say, “Will power don’t desert me now!” It really should be against the law to sell chocolate at 50 or 75% off. Isn’t it ironic we can go into a store, buy a weight reducing product and then get tripped up on the way out by those “great” deals we just can’t pass up. Go figure!

But getting back to the point. Sure the drugstore is filled with good and healthy items for us to use and that’s great. But you can also pick up not so healthy items. So you see in the end the responsibility lies with us.

Now! Even though I pointed out that the ball falls in our lap, it doesn’t mean that we can’t use some help along the way. Nor did I say that it’s a cakewalk either. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have use the word “cake” in my statement. Sorry about that!

Living a healthy lifestyle is a choice. It’s not a “one and done” kind of choice either. It’s an ongoing commitment we have to make to ourselves and for ourselves. A commitment that involves maintaining healthy eating habits and engaging in regular exercise. So let’s break those two commitments down into practical daily living.

HEALTHY EATING

  • I think we tend to forget a very simple fact. And that is that food is fuel for the body. I’ve said this before but it’s good to repeat it. “We don’t put junk fuel into our vehicles so why do we put junk fuel into our bodies and then expect our bodies to run efficiently?” Not going to happen!
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products. These foods contain the most vitamins and minerals that will provide you with quality energy for the least amount of calories.
  • Limit processed and prepared food such as take-out, fast food and convenience foods which usually contain high amounts of calories, sodium, added sugars and fat. Ironically these types of food contribute to health related problems which could eventually require a trip to the drugstore I mentioned earlier to fill a prescription.
  • Learn and practice eating what the appropriate portion size is for the various foods you eat. In the long run it’s not always the best deal at a restaurant when they give you enormous portions for the price paid. It might be cheap food but it is an expensive price to pay if it leads to bad health.
  • Make note of when and why you eat. Are you truly hungry? Do you eat when you are bored or stressed? Or perhaps you are happy or sad? Practice mindful eating which is paying attention to your hunger cues and your level of fullness.

ACTIVE LIVING

Contrary to some peoples opinion, the word “exercise” is not a dirty word. Rather it is a “healthy” word. Physical activity is an important factor in healthy living. I’m not saying you have to run a 5k but most everyone can walk around the block. Whether it be by aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening (very important to the over age 40 crowd) or any other activity that gets your body moving regularly, staying active helps with the following:

  • Weight control
  • Minimizes stress level
  • Maximizes energy level
  • Improves sleep
  • Enhances mood
  • Reduces risk for chronic disease
  • Strengthens bones and muscles to prevent injury

So if you desire to lead a happier, healthier life, making the necessary choices are up to you. If you can wake up every morning and incorporate eating healthy and staying active into your daily routine it won’t be long before it becomes a good habit. And then, you will realize that you've arrived at the corner of happy and healthy.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – BEAT THE STATISTIC’S!

 

 

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone! Yeah, I know, I’m rather late. I’m going to blame it on a very busy last couple of months for me, okay? Come to think of it though, the time from mid November through the first part of January always seems to fly by in a blink of an eye for me every year. So I guess this past year was no different. It’s probably the same with everyone else too. During that time of the year there is always so much to do and I might as well add right here, so much to eat. And then, all of a sudden, your spinning world comes to a halt and you find yourself in January standing in front of your closet looking for your “after holiday” clothes.

Ugh! So you stand there and berate yourself because you realize that, “Once again” you didn’t take care of yourself (health-wise) like you promised yourself you would do. Or maybe it’s the bathing suits that are now hanging in the stores that has abruptly brought it to your attention. That’s where the New Year’s resolutions come into play — not that that’s a bad thing. But if they are made more so of a knee jerk reaction because of a momentary sense of regret then you will probably find yourself in the percentage of people that don’t stick to them throughout the year. I know I’ve talked about this before but it bears going over again.

Even if those resolutions are made with good intentions, let’s be honest. Research shows that it doesn’t take long before they are gone by the wayside. Let me share with you a couple of statistics from the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

  • According to research done in 2016, the number one resolution made in the new year was………you guessed it, to lose weight and or to eat more healthy.
  • 72.6% maintained the resolutions through the first week. By 6 months that percentage had gone down to 44.8%.
  • People over the age of 50 were less likely to achieve their goals than people in their twenties.
  • Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution.

Now the reason I show you these statistics is in no way to give you an excuse for NOT making a health related goal for the new year. Rather it is to acknowledge that it’s obviously not easy or else the percentages would be higher. Right? And also to encourage you that if you did make a resolution to lose weight to push through so you can be counted amongst those that do make it! Those people are out there and you can be one too!

So what do we take away from this? Yes, people make resolutions and sometimes are not successful. Okay! So what? I’m going to say that at least for a little while they had a goal. They tried! Maybe this year will be the year that they stick with it. Maybe you will be one of those in the 9.2%. One thing is for sure though, you 100% of the time won’t reach your goal if you never make one in the first place. So let’s give the people in this research props for at least attempting to complete their goal.

And besides, you know what these statistics really show don’t you? It shows that a large percentage of people gave up and quit. That’s what we DON’T want to do! Think about all the achievements you have in your life. Aren’t you the most proud of the ones that took some struggle to bring about the results that you wanted?

Really, to be successful at this “getting healthier” thing, you have to retrain your brain into a new
way of thinking — to create and carry out good habits. And let’s face it, just like an unruly kid, your mind doesn’t always want to mind either. When we feel like we might be deprived of something, sometimes we turn into that little kid at the grocery checkout throwing a fit because he can’t have what he or she wants! You know what I mean?

We also live in a microwave society where we expect everything to happen fast in mere minutes. But there’s nothing fast about weight loss. You’ve heard the old saying, “A pot watched never boils.” Theoretically, we know it’s going to boil, but when you stand over the pot and wait, it seems like it takes forever. So don’t get discouraged and give up when you don’t see immediate results. Resist the tendency to slip back into your old habits. Stay the course!

And just a note on slipping back into old habits. From one of the statistics above we see that it’s even harder to lose weight the older you get. Maybe it's because it’s just easier to follow your old habits having  done them for so long you don’t have to think about it. But I also know for us women in the pre/menopausal years it can be quite challenging to lose weight. Our bodies do not respond in our 50’s like they did when we were in our 20’s. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.You just might have to go about it in a different and more determined way.

So, let’s wrap this up. We are now in the latter part of January. And even if you made some resolutions and you haven’t followed through with them, it doesn’t matter. You can start over. In fact, today is a good day to start, don’t you think? Start out by making a daily goal, then a weekly goal, a monthly goal and so on. Don’t let the time frame of a whole year intimidate you. And if and when you blow it, don’t let it be an excuse to totally give up. Forgive yourself, square your shoulders and get right back on the path that you need to be on to reach your goal. Do it for yourself, you're worth it!

 

Holidays, Menopause – No Need for Weight Gain!

holiday-food

Well, here we go. I can’t deny it any longer. Time obviously did not get my memo to slow down. Thanksgiving is really knocking on my door now and I guess I am going to have to answer it and quick!

Now once I open that door I know what’s going to be on the other side. Temptation! That’s what! Do you know what I mean? It’s really the start of a two month long food fest known as the “holiday season” Literally! Whether it is well meaning neighbors sharing their goodies or office parties, family gatherings, you name it. But I am determined to remain strong and still enjoy the holidays! Who’s with me? — Hey! Where did everybody go?

COME ON! We can do this! This advice can be for anyone, but today I’m going to focus on us women who have entered the middle age era of our lives known as menopause. Yep! Those of us who have gone through it or are going through it. Gone are the days of nibbling on that yearly tradition of eating the 5 lb. tub of Grandma’s homemade chocolate fudge that she keeps making for you (bless her heart) without some lasting consequences.

Something happens to our metabolism as we approach that time of our lives. It mostly sneaks up on us gradually until one day we look into the mirror and we think, “Well, how in the world did that happen?” It can be quite frustrating because you know you haven’t changed the way you eat and yet either the pounds kind of crept up on you slowly or the pounds you have always carried somehow have shifted to other parts of your body where they are not supposed to be.

I have heard from women who say they had never had a weight problem until they turned 40. And the weight just doesn't want to come off like it used to. It can be depressing, or cause anxiety, anger, and even lead some into falling into an attitude of “why bother?” and give up entirely. So today I am going to give us all a pep talk (myself included) and say, “Don’t fall into those kind of temptations (attitudes) either.”

Besides, there is way more to enjoy about the holidays than what we eat or can’t eat! You know, it’s crazy if you really think about it. But for some reason it can be hard not to indulge in everything laid out before us. But, if we really put it into perspective there’s nothing on the table that can’t be made any other time of year. We don’t have to gorge on all of it right now. Sometimes I find that’s when I have a talk with myself and say, “What do I want more, that piece of whatever, or do I want to feel good about myself later on?” This year, it’s going to be that I want to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from me making smart choices. Choices that benefit me in the long run.

We are not getting any younger. And sometimes you just have to make a stand and say, “today is the day, I am going to take charge!" So if that’s you, I’ll list a couple of tips to help you through the next couple of months.

LIMIT THE ALCOHOL AND SUGARY DRINKS
It’s inevitable. Where there’s a party, there is usually going to be alcohol, sugary punch or soda. And people usually drink more alcohol during the holidays than other times of the year. Those calories really add up fast. Something else to keep in mind is that alcohol actually reduces the amount of fat your body burns. So don’t drink your calories.

LIMIT THE APPETIZERS
A lot of times these little bits might taste great but can add up to 1000 calories before you know it and you haven’t even sat down for the meal yet. Look for a low calorie appetizer that will take the edge off your appetite so you eat less of the rich food offered.

PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. Pause to enjoy and really taste the food you are eating. Don’t get so caught up in the festivities that you are just mindlessly eating what is on your plate and before you know it, you look down and it’s all gone and you didn’t listen to your body telling you that you might have had too much.

BE CHOOSY
Go ahead and enjoy your holiday favorite but be choosy with the rest of the meal. Look for a tradeoff, if it’s a high-calorie side dish you really want then go easy on the dessert or vice-versa. Make your portions smaller and don’t load your plate with all the “sinful” pleasures.

SNEAK IN SOME EXCERCISE
Yes, it is possible! I don’t know about you but it seems like I am always going to the store for something. Park your car farther away from the door. Bundle up and go for a brisk walk even if it is for 15-20 minutes before a meal. It will rev up your metabolism. Watching a movie? Don’t sit the whole time, do some sit-ups or push-ups, lunges, or squats for 20 minutes. And the best way of all? Play with your grandkids. They have a way of helping you to burn energy you didn’t know you had in the first place!

In closing, I would like to say that maybe us women might face some challenges, such as hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain, loss of bone and muscle mass during this time, but you know what? People of all ages face some sort of challenge throughout life so let’s not make that an excuse not to do something about it.

As long as we are still up and kicking we can make a decision to educate ourselves and take the bull by the horn and tackle it. AND be successful! So when you open that door on Thanksgiving Day, focus on your family and friends coming through the door. Be thankful for the good things in your life. Even be grateful for the time of life you find yourself in. It has it benefits too! So, have that piece of Pumpkin Pie (with whipped cream even). Sit around and take a moment to relax, laugh, revisit memories with loved ones. Whatever you do, ENJOY the moment! Thanksgiving Day only comes around once a year! And one more thing, don’t forget to send the leftovers home with someone younger!

Eat Hearty but Healthy This Fall

pumpkinmuffin1

Happy Fall Y’all! I can’t believe it's that time of year already, but alas, here it is. Now that we are pretty deep into the fall season, we find ourselves spending more time inside the house don't we? And when the time changes next month and we lose that precious hour of fading daylight it will be even more so.

Our daily habits are a lot of times related to the time of year it is and especially can be dictated by the weather outside. So as it gets colder and darkness comes earlier we find our evening routines changing dramatically. One thing that seems to change big time is the way we eat and even prepare dinner. I think you would agree with me that throwing some chicken on the grill for dinner sounds a lot more appealing when it’s 76 degrees and sunny than when it is 45 degrees and dark outside — and it’s only 6:00p.m.

So while there are brave souls out there who do not mind shivering around the grill waiting for the meat to get done, the majority of us tend to start turning to the oven or crockpot for dinner. And when the temperature drops we tend to turn to what we call comfort foods — foods that make us feel warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this usually means high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods like casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, stews, mac and cheese, etc. And unlike a hot summer day, we don’t give it a second thought to put the oven on to bake something sweet and you know what that means. Tempting cookies, cakes, brownies, and other warm desserts.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some of these dishes from time to time, but if you can take a recipe and make it healthier I say, “Why not?” Taste of Home’s used to have a magazine called, “Light and Tasty” from which I found some recipes that have become favorites. So, in honor of the season that we now find ourselves in, I would like to share with you a couple of those “healthier” recipes that my family really enjoys. I hope you enjoy them too!

Chicken with Jalapeño Sauce - 4 servings (Sauce is very mild)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups hot cooked rice

Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken in oil on both sides.
Add the onions, broth, jalapeños and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Remove chicken and keep warm.
Stir cream cheese and sour cream into onion mixture until blended. Stir in tomatoes; heat through.
Serve with chicken and rice.

Tomato Corn Toss - 3 - 3/4 cup servings
1 medium tomato, diced
1 - 2 banana peppers, seeded and chopped (banana peppers are not hot)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 tablespoon butter

In a 1-quart microwave-safe dish, combine the tomato, peppers, water and seasoning. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute: stir. Cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in corn and butter. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through and butter is melted.

Makeover White Texas Sheet Cake - 20 servings
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
FROSTING
1/3 cup reduced-fat butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat; stir in the flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, applesauce, salt, baking powder, extract and baking soda until smooth.
Pour into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
FOR FROSTING, in a small mixing bowl, beat butter ad extract until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Add milk; beat until smooth. Spread over warm cake; sprinkle with walnuts. Cool completely. (Tastes even better the next day.)

Now it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a recipe that had pumpkin in it. Why? Because it seems like EVERYTHING right now is all about the pumpkin right? Fall = Pumpkin I do believe. So here’s a recipe that I am sure you will love.

Low-fat Pumpkin Muffins - makes 12 - 18 muffins
1 box Spice cake mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I like to add extra cinnamon)
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)

Combine dry cake mix with rest of ingredients. Mix with beaters for approximately 2 min. Batter will be really thick. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups. Scoop muffin mix into cups. Muffin cups will be almost full but they won’t overflow.
Bake at 350° for 15 - 18 min.

Well, if you try these recipes you will see (and taste) that healthier cooking can taste good too! If you have some favorite dishes that you like to make when the weather turns colder, take a look at them. Use your imagination and experiment to find ways to create a healthier version such as:

  • Reducing the amount of fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Eliminate or cut back on some of the not so healthy ingredients.
  • Find a healthy substitution.

So here’s to a happy and healthy fall season to you. Bundle up and take a walk outside amidst the beautiful fall colors. Eat some hearty but healthier foods.Your family won’t notice the difference but your health sure will!

 

Healthy Fats Have Calories Too!

 

healthy-fats-600x450Fat. Now there’s a word that can have a multitude of meanings. And, I’m probably not being grammatically correct in using it as a one word sentence but since I’m just blogging and not publishing a book I’m going with it okay? Now, the kind of fat I’m talking about today is dietary fat.

In ages past, I imagine the hardest part of anyones diet was knowing that if you wanted to eat you had to go out and actually catch it or grow your own food. And then trying to find a way to preserve what you had so it wouldn't go to waste. These days even though we have food conveniently surrounding us even down at the corner gas station (and I use the term food lightly here) I think the hardest part of eating today is knowing what to eat. It seems like one day something is okay and then the next day it’s not.

I have this picture in my head of a wheel like the one they use on the game show, “Wheel of Fortune.” Instead of money and prizes to be had when they spin the wheel this wheel has various foods, methods, diet plans, latest fads, etc. Every once and awhile the diet and nutrition industry spins it and wherever it lands, that becomes the latest and greatest new product, health advice or method that every magazine, social media, morning talk shows and food manufacturers tout until it has run its course and then the wheel gets another spin to start it all over again.

Over the years dietary fats have been added to that wheel. Those of you who are old enough will remember your grandmothers using lard, saved bacon grease, and butter. It’s what they had and I don’t think they gave it a second thought if it was “healthy” or not to use it. Then the powers that be determined that those products were a no-no and came up with the inventions of products like oleo (margarine), Crisco, Spry and numerous oils through unnatural means.

Well, lo and behold somebody has spun the wheel again and now we are starting to see a swing back to some of the old fats that our ancestors used as being more healthy. Go figure! Honestly, it makes my head hurt! On a side note, I did run across an interesting fact about how Crisco came about. Supposedly, it’s because the Procter's (Procter & Gamble) were looking for an easy way to store soap fat. YUP! And now people cook with it.

One might think that all of our weight problems could be solved if we just eliminated fat from our diet right? Wrong! It’s really not that simple. In all reality, we actually need fats, (to which we all sigh a happy sigh of relief). In fact, we can’t live without them because they are an important part of a heathy diet. Fat is a nutrient that our bodies need in order to function. If you were to restrict fat too much you could encounter serious health consequences and even mental health deficits like depression and vitamin deficiencies could occur. But that doesn’t mean you should make it one of your main food groups either.

You’ve heard it said that all calories are not created equal right? We know that 1500 calories of wholesome food will affect our bodies differently than 1500 calories of processed and junk food. This is true on a large scale. But gram for gram, carbohydrates, fats, and protein all have different caloric values.

Carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram which means that 100 grams of protein, carbohydrates, or a combination of the two will equal 400 calories. But fat has 9 calories per gram which is more than double the carb or protein measurements!

EXAMPLES:

A 1-ounce serving of walnuts which is about 1/4 cup contains 185 calories and 18.5 grams of fat.
A medium avocado has 232 calories and 20.5 grams of fat.
One tablespoon of olive or coconut oil has roughly 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.
One tablespoon of butter has 102 calories and 11.5 grams of fat.
Two tablespoons of almond or peanut butter has 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.

A tablespoon here, a tablespoon there, a handful of nuts (or two), etc., you can see how you might be eating a high fat diet and not even know it. And even if your portions are small, chances are by the end of the day you could be eating more calories than you think.

Finding the balance — Oh, how that little statement applies to so many areas of life. And so it seems we can also apply it to dietary fats too. So, what do we know? We know there are several types of fats — some good (healthy) and some bad (unhealthy). We also know that we should try to eat mostly the good and try to stay away from the bad. One thing they have in common however is that they both contain calories. Just remember that your fat consumption should be proportional to your weight. If you are trying to change your body or become healthier, it should be proportional to your goals. You will want to look at how many calories you need to consume daily to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight (yes, there are those people out there) to reach those goals.

So in wrapping up this blog, I want to say that I can’t tell you which fats to use or not use. You will have to do your own research on that. But the message I really wanted to get across is that no matter what kind of fat you do use, just be conscious of the calories they contain. It’s so easy to think just because something is healthy and good for us that it doesn’t matter how much of it we eat — But it does! Calories matter as far as weight goes. Or should I say as far as weight comes and goes?

EVERYTHING we put in our mouth has a calorie. And sometimes those calories sneak into our diet without us even thinking about them. They say that knowledge is power so knowing where our calories are coming from puts us in the drivers seat of being in control of our diet which is a good thing!

If you struggle with eating a healthy diet and feel like you just don’t know where to start, I would love to help you get on the right track. There is no better time than right now to get started! Please call me at (616) 516-1570 to schedule an appointment or click on the blue “Contact” tab on the upper right portion of the page and “Let’s Talk!”

Eating Healthy for Life

 

family-eating-together

This might have been out there for a while but I just recently saw for the first time a meme on Facebook that said, “ Apparently you have to eat healthy more than once to get in shape. This is cruel and unfair.” I laughed because I thought it was funny and got what they were meaning but is it true? Well, it probably depends on your concept of eating healthy, getting in shape, cruel and unfair treatment. I will try to break this to you as gently as I can okay? YES, it’s true! Well,… at least partly. You WILL have to eat right (healthy) more than once and sometimes it will SEEM cruel and unfair to get in shape. There, I said it!

I think the cruel and unfair feelings come into play when we think about the people we may know that seem to never struggle with weight no matter what they eat. You know, THOSE people! Where do they come from and how did they get to be so lucky? I do not know the answer to that. But they are out there and we hate them don’t we? No, not really, I’m just being a little facetious right now. Just to put things into perspective, EVERYBODY at some time or another will have their own issues to deal with. So if your struggle is weight, rest assured THOSE people are wrestling with their own problems. Nobody gets through life without struggles of some kind. So keep that in perspective okay?

They say we are what we eat. Oh boy! For some of us that is quite scary. But really, if you really think about it, if we continue to eat unhealthy and neglect our bodies by getting and staying out of shape, couldn’t you classify that as being cruel and unfair — to yourself? Ouch! That should make you get up off the couch put the Snickers down, huh?

Now, back to the issue of eating healthy more than once. Yes, most of us are not so blessed to have the metabolism to eat whatever we want and instead have to choose wisely what we eat on a consistent basis to get AND stay in shape. And yes, sometimes it can seem hard but being out of shape can be hard also don’t you think? The choice is yours to make — you determine which way you want it. Either become disciplined with healthy choices right now and start to enjoy the benefits of being in shape or enjoy every morsel of food that comes across your path no matter if it is good for you or not and have a hard time later on as you huff and puff your way through life. Does that make sense to you?

You know, I actually believe most people do want to get in shape and eat healthy but let’s face it, it takes motivation, determination and discipline. And there’s the rub. That can be the hard part. We’ve all jumped on a band wagon at some point in our lives to start some new diet that came along and thought, “This is it!” We probably went to the store and bought all the foods and supplements that were suggested and allowed. Or, we plunked money down on some kind of exercise equipment that was recommended. And then after all the excitement and expectation died down, the day of good intentions was met by the days of reality and pretty soon the fresh vegetables turned moldy and the equipment eventually found its way to Craigslist. So how do you find the motivation, determination and discipline?

MOTIVATION

Motivation is what gets you going. It’s the daily spark that ignites a change in the way you think about a situation. It’s what gets you up and off the couch to make you take the first step to do what you want to do. The best way to get and STAY motivated long-term wise is to find a lot of different reasons that are specific to you to eat right and get in shape. Your reason for getting in shape might be different than someone else. Some examples are:

  • Wanting more energy
  • Being at your ideal weight
  • Eliminate or decrease health issues
  • Wanting to be able to be more active and be able to keep up with family, (kids,grandkids)

Figure out how eating healthy benefits you and make your own list. That way you will have more than just a vague idea of “getting in shape” to help you stay on track.

DETERMINATION

Determination is what keeps you going after the spark of motivation. It will help push you through the hard times. Even though you might want to give up, determination makes you dig deep and give it your all so you can succeed at what you are trying to do. Some helpful tips to stay determined:

  • Give yourself a pep talk - Be positive, write or state your goal and cheer yourself on.
  • Find a support system — Family, friends, online support groups for encouragement.
  • Reward yourself for successes along the way - Think pampering or money jar, not cake.
  • Focus on the benefits of reaching your goal.

DISCIPLINE

Self discipline is the number one trait needed to accomplish any goal and especially when we are talking about eating and exercise that will lead to long-term success. Self-discipline allows your choices to be made by informed, rational decisions instead of by impulses or feelings. Some people might find this surprising but self discipline is actually a learned behavior. It requires practice and repetition in your daily life. Some methods to help you to be successful:

  • Be realistic in setting short term and long term goals - Short-term goals should be benchmarks that lead up to long-term goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, set a six month goal, but break it down into smaller pieces, such as losing one pound every two weeks. When you reach the mini-milestones it helps to keep you motivated which in turn then helps to maintain your self discipline.
  • Remove temptations - Why have junk food sitting around calling your name. Removing the distraction from your environment is a crucial first step while you are working to improve your self-discipline.
  • Plan ahead and have a schedule - Don't leave your eating up to chance. Waiting until you are hungry is not the best time to figure out what you are going to eat. Know what you will be eating and have it ready.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice - Think of any great performer that you admire. Even if they started out with natural talent they still had to practice to perfect it. The more they practiced their talent, the easier and better it got. The same applies for self-discipline. You will find the more you practice it the better you will be at it.

So, how’s your motivation, determination, and discipline? If you need some help to get you going or keep you on the right path, call me today at (616) 516-1570 and soon you will be making the changes of eating not WHAT you want but eating FOR what you want and that is, “Eating healthy more than once and getting in shape!”