Why Cheat Days (And A Few Other Things) Are A Bad Idea

I hear a lot about cheat days when I’m talking to people that are trying to lose weight.

Many people say one cheat day a week keeps them motivated to stay on the diet on the other six days. If you’re truly seeking long-term weight loss, being on a deprivation diet where the reward is one day when you can eat anything and everything is a bad idea.

Cheat days are a sign that your relationship with food needs some work and keeps you stuck on that wheel of using food as a form of punishment and reward.

Dog with bone

If you are someone that is engaged in a lifelong battle with your weight I’m willing to bet you follow a pattern that goes something like this.

1.  Is That Really Me? - Something happens in your life and you decide you have to lose weight right now.  Maybe the decision was brought on by a trip to the doctor where you get some not-so-good news about a health condition related to your weight, or you see a picture of yourself and can’t believe that’s how you look. Maybe there’s an event like a wedding or high school class reunion coming up that you want to look great for. You’re ready to get started and your motivation is high.

2. It Worked For My Cousin’s Mother – You share your plans to lose weight with a friend or co-worker. They tell you about a diet their sister-in-law is on. She’s lost 20 pounds in three weeks.  You say “sign me up”.

3.  Game On – You start out on the top of the wave.  You’re losing weight, maybe drop a pants size or two, and are having no trouble adhering to the diet. It doesn’t bother you that you can’t join your friends once a week for lunch or meet your co-workers for a cocktail after work on Friday because the slightest digression could blow everything.  There is no temptation strong enough to come between you and your goal.

4.   Victory – After several months of weekly – maybe even daily – weigh-ins and the highs and lows that come from that practice, you reach your goal weight.  You. Win!  No one really knows or understands how much you’ve had to sacrifice to get that scale to display the arbitrary number that you selected six months ago.

Now What?

You look great. You feel even better. Three or four weeks go by and you decide an occasional splurge will be okay. You shouldn’t have to deprive yourself forever. That would just be wrong.

You go to lunch with your friends and order the creamy shrimp alfredo that you’ve so missed and join your co-workers for the Friday happy hour drink specials once again. You begin to slip back into living your life the way you did before that moment in time when you vowed that things were going to change.

The pounds creep back on, and, as disappointing as that is, you can’t find the motivation you need to go back to ‘the diet’.

What Does This Have To Do With Cheat Days?

Cheat days are a sign that you are participating in a process that is unsustainable. Having a cheat day means that you feel that you’re giving up so much on days one through six that on day seven you deserve a treat so you’ll be able to keep doing the deprivation thing on the other days. You’ve made a deal with yourself.

Rather than trying to keep your promise to be good six days out of seven, why not put some work into figuring out how important it is to be at that oh so coveted weight and what you’re going to have to do different from now on to stay there? Getting there is easy. Staying there is much trickier because, over the years, you’ve developed habits and eating patterns that make gaining weight inevitable.

Although you may not recognize it, you’ve also developed this internal belief that having to eat right every day and exercise at least a few times a week to stay healthy and look good in your black dress isn’t fair.

Don't reward yourself

It’s Not Your Fault (but it’s up to you to fix it).

Dr. Phil says that you are not to blame for what happened to you as a child.  But, as an adult, despite whatever took place back then, you have to take responsibility for your life now.

The same is true of your battle with food. We live in a society that is obsessed with high calorie, overly processed, yet highly satiable foods.  These tempting foods are on every street corner. Super market rows are stocked full of them. Indulgent foods are at the center of every social event.

We ignore that the purpose of food is to provide fuel to our bodies. Most of the foods that are consumed today don’t fulfill this primary objective.

You’re not to blame for the obsession our society has with food that has led to obesity for 35% of American adults.  There is nothing you can do about the endless deluge of foods that test your willpower each day. That’s all way bigger than you.

You’re also not to blame for the prevelance of the idea that healthy, nutritious whole foods that provide vitamins and fiber along with a bunch of ther nutrients that our bodies actually need are tasteless. Or that ’clean’ eating (forgive me for using that buzzword) is nearly impossible to do for any length of time. Neither are true.

I hope you will begin to re-think your truths about food, what you’re eating, why you’re eating it and whether or not you should be on a diet where the incentive is a day of eating ‘bad’ foods. The reward for even the most heroic of acts should never be a cookie.

What do you think? Do cheat days work for you?

If you liked this article, you might also like Do It Right The First Time So You Won’t Have To Do It Twice.

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What You Can Learn From B.J. Fogg: B = mat

“I’m obsessed with how behavior works.  Even on vacation I’m thinking about behavior, I’m watching behavior, I’m reading stuff on it.  I’m trying to understand it systematically.” — B.J. Fogg

What desired behavior change  are you struggling with?  Maybe you want to lose those last 10 pounds or get to the gym three times a week.  It could be that you just want to increase your productivity at work or keep the house from being so cluttered.

It’s all about getting and staying motivated, right?

Not according to B.J. Fogg, the Director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University.  Fogg says that long-term behavior change doesn’t have as much to do with motivation as you might think.  It’s more about establishing tiny habits that are anchored to already established ones.

Fogg Behavior Model 2

Motivation applies to temporary behavior change, but not long term.  Fogg says “Relying primarily on motivation to change your behavior long term is a losing strategy. Motivation is very slippery. If you set yourself up to do something really hard and you have to somehow sustain the motivation, the motivation is going to drop down and there’s going to be a point where you won’t do it.”

He says the same is true of willpower.

In Fogg’s Ted Talk, Forget Big Change, Start With A Tiny Habit, he shows you how you can change your life and change your behaviors by making a series of tiny changes. He believes that if you design your goals around the outcomes you’re deisgning at the wrong place.  You need to focus on the behaviors that lead to the desired outcome.

For example, if the desired outcome is weight loss, there are many, many behaviors that lead to that losing weight.  As we create these tiny habits, little by little we will approach the health outcome in a very reliable way.

B = mat

Fogg has created a behavior change formula that consists of three elements:  Motivation. Ability. Trigger. There has to be some level of motivation present.  You have to have the ability to do the habit. There has to be a trigger to get you to do it.

In the Ted Talk he explains how the trigger is the key to the behavior change process and explains how to set up the triggers so that they work.

About B.J.

Fogg devotes 50% of his time to his Persuasive Lab at Stanford and 50% to industry innovation.  At his lab they focus on methods for creating habits and automating behavior change.  Over the years, improving health outcomes has become a theme.

Another focus of the lab is peace innovation and they are investigating how technology can help change attitudes and behaviors in ways that bring about global harmony. While they realize that is this an “idealistic project, and [they] may fail, given the state of the world, choosing not to pursue this line of research would be irrational.”

He has a body of work that includes a Behavior Design Boot Camp which is a two-day event that takes place at his guest house in Northern California and  a book titled Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do.

Fogg was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of 10 New Gurus You Should Know.

Join Tiny Habits

B.J. can help you create new behaviors through his Tiny Habits program that he has shared with over 20,000 people around the world. This 5-day method starts every Monday and he will check in with you via email Monday through Friday of the week you’re registered for to see how you’re doing.

Space is limited. The current session is sold out, so if you’re interested in joining, you will need to check the web site on a regular basis in order to get in.

What tiny habits are you working on?

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What You Can Learn From Star Trainer Michelle Bridges: Just Friggin Do It!

“Success is all down to how badly you want it.  Nothing will ever be handed to you, and if it is you never appreciate it anyway. Successful people are hard workers.  Period!”
– Michelle Bridges

There’s a lot you can learn from Michelle Bridges. Not just in relation to reaching your health and fitness goals, but about life in general.

Michelle has been a trainer on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser since 2007. She is the author of eight bestselling books including Crunch Time: Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off, and Losing the Last 5 Kilos: Your Kick-Arse Guide to Looking and Feeling Fantastic.

Michelle Bridges

She started the on-line 12 Week Body Transformation program in 2012 and has helped people around the world lose over a million pounds.

Michelle has been a go-getter since she was 14 when she began teaching fitness to the other teenagers at her school.  At the age of 26 she realized that it was time to take her fitness career to the next level and moved to Sydney, Australia where, with $275 in the bank, she began her own personal training business, became a freelance group fitness instructor and a trainer for Les Mills.

The business that she began with $275 is now a multi-million fitness empire that reaches people across the globe.

Her enthusiasm for health and fitness is infectious and engages millions of people around the world. Much of her inspiration comes from her “don’t overthink it, just friggin do it” mantra.

Besides, “just friggin do it”, here are five things that you can learn from Michelle:

1.  Motivation Is Like A Bad Boyfriend – Michelle is shocked by the obesity epidemic that is facing many countries and says that people are eating their way to the grave.  She believes part of the problem is that people are hung up on motivation and if you’re waiting around for it, it may never come. Losing weight isn’t about motivation.  “No way.  Motivation is a crock, you see.  I’m in the motivation business; but motivation is like a bad boyfriend.  He’s never there when you need him.”  Michelle says being healthy is about forming good habits and practices.”

2.  No Matter What Exercise You’re Doing, Go Hard In the End – Michelle calls this the Final Blast and says it’s what you have to do at the end of every workout.  “Leave it all on the field.  Hold nothing back.  Go all in.”  Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s running, doing ab crunches or squatting, the final push at the end will help your fitness go up and your weight go down.

3.  Don’t Let Low Temps Keep You From Training – Michelle answers the age old question, “How do you stay motivated to exercise in the winter?” She says she likes to look at winter exercise as “a time of careful preparation for the coming spring and summer.” If you’re not sure how to approach exercise during the winter months, consult with a personal trainer who can help you put a plan in place. Whatever you do, don’t use the winter months as an excuse not to exercise.

4.  Unless You Change Your Mind Set Your Weight Loss Endeavors Will Fail – One of the biggest challenge Michelle faces in helping people achieve their weight loss goals is getting them to overcome the victim mentality and the blame game.  They say “It’s not my fault, it’s my children’s fault.” Or, “It my husband’s fault. When the truth is staring back at them from the fridge.” Her advice is to ditch the victim mentality and start accepting responsibility for absolutely everything you do. Everything.

5.  Accept Your Body For The Things It Can and Cannot Do – Comparing ourselves with others isn’t just bad.  It’s disastrous. You probably heard your parents tell you when you were young that there will always be someone better looking, smarter, and more athletic than you.  Michelle agrees.  “Put the work into your emotional self to get to a state of truly accepting your body as the gift that it is – the way it looks, and the things it can and can’t do.” It’s okay to be you.

Globe Trotter

Last year Michelle came to the United States to launch her 12 Week Body Transformation and is quickly becoming a fitness celebrity here too.  She is in the business of changing lives and works to help people conquer their mental barriers about weight loss, food and exercise.

According to Michelle, “The whole yo-yo—up-down, off-on, in-out is far more damaging than being overweight will ever be because that stuff messes with your head.  It’s almost like psychological obesity.  Then I come in with a sledgehammer and go, “Right. Let’s get real!”

For more information about the 12 Week Body Transformation, click here.

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Sugar Is Bad For Your Waistline and For Your Heart

Sugar doesn’t just make you fat, it also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.  And, according to Quanhe Yang, a senior scientist with the Center for Disease Control, a recent study shows that the more sugar you eat the more your risk of death from cardiovascular disease increases.

Sugar

Flickr photo by Umberto Salvagnin

Yang was the lead scientist on the largest study to date that shows a link between sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease.  For the study, Yang and his colleagues reviewed data from more than 31,000 people that participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The goal of the survey was to look at trends in added-sugar intake and evaluate dietary habits based on personal interviews. According to the study, most adults (71%) consume 10% or more of their daily calories from added sugar.  Nearly 10% of adults consume 25% or more of their daily calories from sugar.  In a typical 1,600 calorie-a-day diet that amounts to 160 and 400 calories of sugar, respectively.

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories a day (6 teaspoons) and men no more than 150 calories a day (9 teaspoons) of added sugar.

More Sugar Means More Health Risks

At the conclusion of Yang’s study, the following findings were published in the online JAMA Internal Medicine article:

  • People who consume more than 21% of their calories from added sugar are at twice the risk of dying from heart disease than people that consume less than 10% of calories from added sugar.
  • People who consume between 17% and 21% of their daily calories from added sugar have a 38% higher risk of death from heart disease than people who consume less than 10% of calories from added sugar.

The study also showed that even if you eat a healthy diet, and keep you weight under control, the extra sugar still takes a toll on your health.

“I could be eating a 2,000-calorie diet, not overeating, not overweight. But if I just drink a can of soda a day, I increase my risk of dying from [heart] disease by one-third,” said Laura Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine who wrote an accompanying journal commentary. “I think people would assume one can of soda a day would not have that kind of impact over the course of their lives.”

But it does.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

You might not be washing down a Krispy Kreme with a McDonald’s sweet tea but that doesn’t mean you’re not consuming more sugar that you should.  Many foods and beverages are marketed and labeled as ‘healthy’ but aren’t.

An innocent looking 16 ounce bottle of Minute Maid orange juice has 48 grams (10 teaspoons) of sugar. One cup of Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart cereal has 14 grams (3 teaspoons) and a 5.3 ounce container of Chobani blackberry Greek yogurt has 15 grams (3 teaspoons).

Sugar can add up very quickly so it’s good to get in the habit of reading food labels and tracking sugar consumption. The three items in the paragraph above could easily be consumed in one day which would supply a total of 16 teaspoons of sugar.  Then, eat  a couple of foods with minimal amounts of sugar and you’re way over the top and into the unhealthy range.

Need Help?

Some experts believe that sugar is as addictive as cocaine so kicking the habit is easier said than done.

Margaret Wertheim, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist and author of the book Breaking The Sugar Habit has 10 tips to help you break up with sugar. Giving up soda is the first step but beyond that there are many things you can do to limit sugar in your diet.

Below are some tips Margaret shared with me to get you started:

1. Never eat sweets on an empty stomach. This is a recipe for a “carb coma”: high blood sugar with an energy rush followed by an energy crash that leads to subsequent sugar cravings. The earlier in the day you start eating sweets, the more likely it is that you’ll continue to eat sweets throughout the day.

2. Always eat desserts from a plate instead of  the container. Eating out of the container is a surefire way to overeat desserts. Use small bowl and plates for small servings of desserts. If you use a large plate or bowl, your portion is likely to be too large.

3. Brush your teeth after eating. Sometimes the sweetness of the toothpaste is enough, and the act of brushing your teeth means that mealtime is over, helping you move on to other activities. Also, ice cream or a cookie just doesn’t seem quite as appealing when you have a minty taste in your mouth.

4. Get enough sleep. It’s more difficult to make good decisions when you’re sleep deprived, and inadequate sleep is associated with decreases in levels of the hormone leptin, leading to decreased satiety and increases in ghrelin, which in turn increases appetite.

Keeping your sugar intake within the recommended guidelines is the key to maintaing a healthy weight and heart so taking the steps to get the sugar out of your life will be worth it in the end.

Breaking The Sugar Habit is available for $3.99 at Amazon.com.

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Ten Healthy Strategies For Easing The Winter Blahs

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Sunday so that means we have six more weeks of winter to survive. The groundhog-sees-his-shadow thing might be a myth but the winter blues aren’t.  They can be very real, and even debilitating if you live in a wintery part of the world.

photo posted on post-gazette.com

When Phil sees his shadow it’s bad news for sufferers of SAD.  Flickr photo by Gail DuPont

If the winter blues are getting to you, it’s possible you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  SAD hits millions of people at this time every year and unless you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to a place where you can drink in natural sun light you may find yourself a few weeks away from a remedy. At least that’s what Phil predicts.

If you plan to power through on your own and without the help of prescription medications to ease your symptoms, there are some things that you can do that will help.

Below are 10 tips for you to try that will push back the winter blahs, enhance your mood, and increase your energy level.

1.  Mood Foods – Researchers that have looked at which foods increase levels of serotonin (the mood enhancing chemical that regulates hunger and the feeling of well-being) haven’t come up with an exact list of foods proven to work. What nutritionists do know is that following a balanced diet of lean proteins and lots of colorful vegetables and fruits will help you feel better because your nutritional needs are met. This means you’ll have more energy and less dips in blood sugar. Chicken, fish, and an abundance of fruits and veggies will make you feel better and more energetic on the dreariest of days.

2.  Avoid Sugar – Eating simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, rice and pastries will cause a surge in blood sugar followed by the inevitable crash.  When your blood sugar drops your mood will go with it.  In fact, according to the Brain Bio Centre, poor blood sugar balance is often the single-biggest factor in mood disorders amongst the people that seek the center’s advice.

3.  Increase Levels of B Vitamins – The B’s play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Research shows that low levels of B-12, B-6 and folate is linked to depression. Foods high in B12 and folic acid are organ meats, legumes, wholegrain breads and fruits and vegetables like spinach, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus. Oranges, bananas, almonds, and egg yolks are also good sources.

4.  Limit Alcohol Consumption – Drinking alcohol is one of those things that often ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’.  But the after effects can be disastrous on our mood.  Alcohol is a depressant and many people have an unexplained feeling of lonliness and depression after a fun night of drinking. Plus, alcohol acts as a diuretic and flushes nutrients – like B vitamins – from our system which makes us worse off. If you like to socialize and drink alcohol, drink a large glass of water after each alcoholic beverage and limit your consumption to two or three drinks.

5.  Music – The American Music Therapy Association’s web site lists 57 pages of articles touting the research that proves that music is successful in treating depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and chronic pain. Music can boost your mood, make it easier for you concentrate, and assist with motivation to exercise.  What you put on the play list is a personal choice.  I like up-beat, rhythmic music but you may find that classical music or old rock-n-roll tunes works best for you.

6.  Exercise – This should probably be number one on the list because of the direct correlation between exercise and mental health.  The steady stream of endorphins that are released when you exercise helps reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression.  Plus it boosts self-esteem and makes you sleep better. So, beyond the positive physical benefits of exercise, the mental ones are just as important; maybe even more so when we’re in the middle of a cold, dark winter. Pick a physical activity that you like to do and aim for at least 30 minutes four to five times a week.

7.  Check Your Vitamin D – One of the primary causes of SAD is a lack of vitamin D. Our bodies create Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.  During the dark winter months, our supplies of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ diminish and lead to depression and a lack of energy.  Your doctor can take a blood test that will tell you where your vitamin D levels fall and prescribe a supplement if needed. You can, or course, self-prescribe by purchasing Vitamin D at the local drug store, but if your levels are real low, you still may not be getting an adequate amount.

8.  Light Boxes – I know more and more people who are purchasing light boxes and benefiting from their effects.  Light boxes come in various shapes, sizes and price ranges. The time you’ll need to spend in front of the light to get the desired benefits varies, but it is usually around 30 minutes a day.  Light boxes are a good investment if you have persistent SAD symptoms.  A quick Google search or a visit to Amazon.com will provide you with numerous options.

9.  Boost Your Colors – I wear black. A lot.  And when I’m not wearing black, I usually have on gray or neutral colors.  The colors that you wear can have an impact on your mood and wearing bright colors, as opposed to drabs or darks, can give you an unexpected boost.  The psychology of color show that blues are calming, purple is associated with wisdom and green is a symbol of nature.  Wear a bright blue, orange or purple and see if cheers you up.  It may even perk up those around you.

10.  Socialize (even if you don’t feel like it.) – Get out from behind your desk and chat with a co-worker for a couple of minutes, invite a friend to lunch, join a group fitness class at the gym instead of spending all of your time on the treadmill. Studies show that people that socialize live longer and are happier. The winter months leave many people feeling isolated and lonely.  Even short bursts of socialization can do wonders for your mental health.

Typical symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include tiredness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, body aches, irritability, overeating, weight gain, and depression.  The Winter Blues Coach dedicates her web site to helping people find remedies for the SAD and she has an abundance of ideas that can help.

If you’re unable to find relief for your symptoms using natural remedies, or you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or bouts of severe depression, call your doctor for help.

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New Study Shows Avocados Are Good For Appetite Control and Weight Loss.

For anyone trying to lose or maintain weight, the hunger factor can be a big problem.  Diets always start out great. You’re following the plan, tracking calories and the pounds are melting away.

Then you hit a wall. You’re hungry. No, not hungry.  Famished!  You’ve been hungry for days, or even weeks, and you’re over the diet. You can’t live like this any longer and into the bag of kettle chips or tub of rocky road ice cream you go. You’re on a bender and there’s no stopping it.

Once you’ve recovered from the food coma you have a couple of options.  You can pick up where you left off and get back on the diet and deal with being hungry all of the time.

Or, you can think about your diet in a different way.  Instead of thinking about how many calories are in the foods you eat, you can pick your foods by where they fall on the Satiety Index.

Avocado

New studies show that avocados may be a natural appetite suppressant.

Solving Your Hunger Crisis

Some foods – potato chips for example – are irresistible.  It’s true that no one can eat just one.  The crunchy saltiness of a potato chip is one of those foods that can destroy a day of dieting because we can eat a ton of them before we feel the least bit full. Combine that with the fact that they are high in calories (20 chips has about 147) and have little to no nutritional value makes them a dieter’s disaster.

Watermelon, on the other hand, is a dieter’s friend.  It is sweet and crunchy, loaded with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.  It is low in calories (one cup has about 46).  Watermelon will fill you up quickly and keep you full much longer than the chips will.

Researchers have been studying satiety for year.  The results?  Some foods fill you up quicker and stay in your stomach longer and therefore do a better job of holding off hunger.

Avocados: Friend or Foe?

A recent study on satiety found that consuming half of an avocado leads to a greater feeling of fullness and less of a tendency to snack between meals.  Since the study, the internet has been aflutter with stories about how avocados can help people lose weight.

The avocado is a fruit rich in nutrients that is high on the Satiety Index.  Oranges, bananas, apples and proteins like lentils, cheese, fish and beef also rank high on the index.

In a detailed study, led by Suzanna Holt from the University of Sydney, researchers fed human test subjects fixed-calorie portions of 38 different foods.  They recorded the subject’s perceived hunger following each feeding.

From this study the researchers determined that satiety is “most strongly related to the weight of the food consumed”.  Foods that weigh the most, satisfy our hunger the best, despite how many calories they contain. The study also found that high amounts of certain nutrients, protein, and dietary fiber improve satiety.

Low In Calories/High In Satiety

The key is to consume generous amounts of those foods that rank high on the satiety chart, but are low in calories and, at the same time, avoid high calories foods that have a low satiety rating.  Potato chips, for example, have a satiety score of 1.2.  Watermelon is at 4.5.  A roasted chicken breast is at 3.4 while a Snickers bar is at 1.5.

You can spend a lot of time trying to find out where all of the foods you eat rank on the Satiety Index. If you purchase whole foods and make your meals at home you’re sure to consume foods higher on the scale.

Fast foods and heat-and-eat convenience meals have, through processing, been stripped of most their nutrients and fiber so they don’t leave much for your digestive tract to do once you’ve eaten them. Processed foods are on the Satiety Index along side the potato chips and Snickers Bar.

Meals that you create in your own kitchen have the most staying power. I love this video, How Cooking Can Change Your Life.  It says it all in two and a half minutes.

You can learn more about where some of your favorite foods rank on the Satiety Index, and get help calculating meals using the Fullness Factor at Self Nutrition Data.com.

What’s your favorite filling food?

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This Diet Is Making Me Hungry!

I gave a presentation at a lunch and learn last week on the topic of nutrition.  My goal was to provide information around some of the key points such as the link between poor nutrition and chronic disease which many people know is there, but most don’t realize the full extent.

I also provided some solid information on label reading, sugar and salt intake, and portion control.  These presentations always provide me with an opportunity to encourage people to eat whole foods, get off of the fast-food train and cook their meals at home. This can be a challenge because nutrition is a huge topic. It’s impossible to do it justice in a 40-minute presentation.

At the end of the hour we had time for a quick question and answer session and – you guessed it – people wanted to talk about weight loss and appetite control.

Diet

Forget about dieting and eat for your health. (Flickr photo by Thrice 18/3)

The specific question was, “What can I do about always being hungry?” Before I had time to answer, one of the participants piped up with his own answer, which went something like this:  Yeah. You know people aren’t going to stick with a diet or ever be able to lose weight if they’re hungry all the time.  You might as well forget it.

Did I say anything about a diet? I talked about eating nutritious foods. I showed pictures of how we’ve supersized everything – even our refrigerators – over the last 20 years so that we don’t even know what a true potion is.

I displayed pictures that showed how many teaspoons of sugar is in popular soft drinks and talked about the bad fats lurking in fast food.  This should be enough [I thought] to discourage everyone in the room from ever going through the drive-through again!

I provided the dietary guidelines for sodium, sugar and fat and provided tips on how to stay within the guidelines.  And, I gave an abundance of links to healthy recipes, nutritional information, and  on-line food trackers.  I was [I thought] inspiring people to buy and prepare the foods that will provide adequate fuel and nutrition for their bodies.

Nowhere in the presentation was there any mention of weight loss, dieting or deprivation. But, clearly, that is what people think about whenever the topic of ‘eating better’ is discussed.

By the end of my presentation I realized that there is a real disconnect between eating for health and eating to lose weight when there should be only one conversation taking place.

Food Related Illnesses

On the radio show that I listen to on my morning commute the dj’s were interviewing Dr. Travis Stork, author of the The Doctor’s Diet.  At the start of the interview he made this statement:  Ninety percent of all hospitalizations are due to food related illnesses.

What? You mean like food poisoning? (one of the dj’s asked?)

Nope.  Not food poisoning. Dr. Stork, who was an emergency room doctor, said that most emergencies are related to food. He’s talking about illnesses related to poor nutrition:  Heart disease. Diabetes. Metabolic Disease. Cancer.

The doctor contends these are the fatal risks associated with an unhealthy diet.  You can be robbed of good health by a poor diet, and, in many cases, your health can be restored by a good one.

Eating For Health Not Deprivation

Of all of the topics that were covered at the lunch and learn, being hungry getting in the way of weight loss was the one that held everyone’s attention and opened the floor for a good conversation about processed foods and why we should avoid them.

But what about the prevalence of this notion that if you want to lose weight you have to starve yourself and end up being hungry all the time? That’s simply not true if you’re eating the right foods. Plus if your only focus is on losing weight rather than eating for health, you may find you’ve lost pounds but are still at risk for the food-related illnesses that Dr. Stork talks about in his book.

A recent study that explored the feelings of fullness, also known as the Satiety Index, has found that there are healthy foods that can make you feel full longer and may be the key to effective weight loss.

Tomorrow We’ll Talk About The Satiety Index

Check back tomorrow because I’ll be discussing the Satiety Index study, and talk about what foods you need to eat to feel full, satisfy your nutritional needs, and lose weight at the same time.

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What You Can Learn From Olga Kotelko: Winning At Any Age

“It’s not how old you are; it’s how you get old.” — Olga Kotelko

For people needing motivation to stay active, eat whole foods, and not stress out over the little things, you have a role model in Olga Kotelko.

Olga is a 94 year old retired school teacher from West Vancouver, Canada that entered her first “masters” track and field competition at the age of 77. At age 85 she broke 20 world records in one year.  Now, at 94 she is the only woman in the over 90 age group that still competes in the sports of both long-jumping and high-jumping.

Olga

Minister Ralph Sultan and senior Olympian Olga Kotelko talked about her world record success over her cover of McGill’s Headway magazine.  Flick photo by BC Gov Photos

What’s her secret?

Olga shared six ‘lesson’s in a recent interview with Parade Magazine.  While Olga seems to have found the fountain of youth, there is nothing out of the ordinary in the lessons:

1.  Swap the Sudoku For Sneakers – You might suspect that Olga thinks it’s important to keep moving.  Olga has been active throughout her life and hasn’t slowed down in her golden years.  At age 75 she was playing baseball with a rag-stuffed ball when she got ‘tackled’ by an outfielder going after a pop fly.That experience spurred her to look for a safer activity.  That’s when she joined the masters track program, hired Harold Morioka, one of the most gifted masters athletes ever, to coach her, and began breaking records in her age group.

2.  Stay On Your Feet – Lesson number two is to spend as much time as you can out of that death trap known as The Chair.  She climbs the stairs in the home that she lives in with her daughter and son-in-law about 50 times a day. Beyond that she keeps busy with hobbies and activities that help her avoid a sedentary lifestyle.  Olga hasn’t given in to spending the majority of her day in front of the TV which, unfortunately, is where most people in Olga’s age group spend much of their time.

3.  Eat Real Food – Olga isn’t vegetarian, vegan or Paleo. She eats a balanced diet based on whole foods and consumes carbs and red-meat in moderation. She eats four to five times a day.  Her lighter meal in the evening.  She doesn’t skip meals or eat fast food. Olga doesn’t take vitamin supplements but does take a baby aspirin each day to prevent blood clots.  She takes glucosamine daily for joint support.

4.  Be A Creature of Habit – Olga is a creature of habit and has a schedule that she follows each week. If it’s the day when she goes to the track to run, she goes to the track and runs.  She has a stretching routine that she does each morning, bowls on Tuesdays, and goes to bed at the same time each night. Certainly being disciplined and not simply relying on motivation or the ‘mood’ to hit you will help you stay on top of your game.  The people that I know that are extremely disciplined (okay, sometimes I refer to them as anal) are the ones that seem to get the most done.

5.  Cultivate A Sense of Progress – I love this lesson. It’s easy to get stuck in those things that we didn’t accomplish, but Olga applies the “move the yardstick” strategy to her life. Moving the yardstick means that you gauge your progress by where you are now.  If you’re 50 you’re not going to be able to compete with a 20 year old. Accept that and set your goals accordingly.  Olga’s not trying to be 50.  She’s trying to be the best 94 year old she can be.

6.  Lighten Up – Stress will kill you.  We all know that stress is bad for our health.  Olga says she doesn’t have time to stress out over every little thing. Her motto is to enjoy life and not be ruled by stress.

Does One Lesson Stand Out?

If you had to pick the one lesson that has propelled Olga to do what no one else her age is able to do, what would it be?

That’s the question that struck me as I read about Olga.

When I first read the article in Parade Magazine I thought something would stand out as the ‘ah-ha’ factor.  I thought there would be one or two things that would jump out and I would think “that’s it”! That’s her secret. But nothing did. Olga is doing things that I think many health-minded people do at any age.

Maybe it’s that she is combining the healthy habits that she has practiced for her entire life and they are working for her.

Or maybe she was dealt a good hand genetically and is just lucky.

I’m certain part of it is the ‘can-do’ attitude that keeps her competing in – and winning – track and field events at the age of 94.

But, above all, Olga has a wildly competitive spirit. That is her secret.  Olga may not be competing with anyone but herself.  Olga might not  recognize that she fiercely competitive.

I do know that not many women at the age of 75 hire a top-of-the-line coach to help them fine tune their running skills unless they want to win.

Olga wants to win.  She wants to win at track and field.  She wants to win her age group. Most of all she wants to win at life.  That, my friend, is Lesson Number 7.  That is Olga’s secret.

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Do It Right The First Time So You Won’t Have To Do It Twice

“People don’t have time to do it right the first time, but they always have time to do it twice.”
– Dr. David Hunnicutt, CEO, Wellness Council of America.

Attacking your weight loss goals like you’re a contestant on NBC’s Biggest Loser may be one of the worst approaches for long-term success.  When you dramatically limit calories, sacrifice eating real food for pre-packaged shakes and heat-and-eat meals, and push yourself to lose five to six pounds a week, you’ll see drastic results the first couple of weeks.

After that you burn out and stop losing weight before you reach your goal.  Most people gain the weight back, and many put on more than they lost.

Blackboard

You’re Not In A Contest

Unless you stand to win a large sum of money for losing a lot of weight fast, slow down. You’ll have better success at dropping pounds, and keeping them off, if you approach weight-loss as a long-term project that will lead you to better health.

Don Moffitt, a state representative that lives near Peoria, IL, accomplished a personal goal of losing 100 pounds by doing just that. He tackled his 100 pound weight loss goal ten pounds at a time.  He lost the weight slowly, established new and healthier habits, and has kept it off for more than a year.

“I never looked at it as losing 100 pounds.  I just looked at it as taking off 10, and then repeated it nine more times,” Moffit said.

Don also put some other tried and true practices into play.  He tracked calories and tried to not consume more than 1500 a day.  He also set a target goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, which is about three miles.

Before losing the weight he was on medications for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and was told by his doctor that he would soon need medications for diabetes.

Not only did he shed pounds, but he is now being phased off of all medications, no longer has sleep apnea and has “kicked diabetes to the curb”.

Setting those small, realistic goals that we discussed in Forget About Lofty Resolutions and Set Achievable Goals applies to losing weight.  Whether you have 10 pounds or 100 to lose, a weight-loss goal of one to two pounds a week is realistic.

Take time to establish different eating patterns, find the options for physical activity that work best for you, and allow some wiggle room for an occasional set-back. Do it right the first time and you won’t have to do it twice.

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Forget About Lofty Resolutions and Set Achievable Goals

Have you seen this e-card that has been circulating on Facebook?

New Year New Me

It appears some people are fed up with New Year’s resolutions.  And for good reason.

We start out the New Year with aspirations to change all of the things we don’t like about ourself. We want to lose weight, get organized, eat better, exercise more, be more productive at our job.

But by mid-January or the first of February we aren’t giving much thought to the resolutions we made a few weeks ago.

If you’ve given up on resolutions and have decided you’ll never be able to do those things that you dream about on January 1, you’re wrong.  You can change.  You can achieve many of the things that you fantasize about. You just need to apply a strategy that will work.

Here are five steps to help you put your resolutions into action.

1.  Establish Your Resolution Goal. Lose the word resolution and replace it with the word goal.  The word resolution smacks of something that’s unattainable. Resolutions are big lofty ideas that would be great if you could make them happen, but you never take the time to put a smart action plan in place to actually get them done.

Instead of resolving to change your life, set one goal that will move you towards making the change that you desire.  For example:  A resolution would be “I’m going to get in better shape this year.”  A goal is:  “I’m going to do three 15-minute workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday this week.

2.   Write it down.  Put your goal in writing.  Write it on a sticky note and put it on the fridge. Enter it as a reminder on your Smartphone.  Keep it in on a memo pad at your desk at work.

Goals that are written down are twice as likely to be achieved. There’s a sense of commitment that takes place when you put your goal in writing.  Writing it down means you mean it.

3.  Evaluate How You Did – If you’ve set attainable, realistic goals it is easy to evaluate how you did at accomplishing them.  If your goal was to do three 15-minute workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, establishing how well you met the goal is simple.

On a scale of one to 10 (with one being not at all and 10 being you hit a home run), ask yourself how you did.  Write that number down by the goal and move on.

4.  Reset the Goal Every Week – Once you’ve evaluated how you did with the goal, either reset that goal and do it again, or establish a new goal. Resetting and repeating goals will establish a pattern that, over time, will become habit to you.

Once you find that you’re easily completing the three 15-minute workouts a week, you’ve formed the habit of getting those done.  Now, it’s time to establish a new goal to challenge yourself further.

5.  Set Achievable Goals – Success breeds success which is why it is absolutely vital that you set goals that you can achieve.  The success of reaching one goal is the springboard to conquering the next one.  Over time, you’ll develop confidence in yourself and know that you are able to set goals and achieve them.

New Year, New Me Can Be Yours

Remember, there are plenty of people that do change their behavior patterns and live their dreams.  It takes hard work, commitment and a strategy beyond clinking a glass of champagne and uttering a few words on December 31.

Are you ready to make this the year for reaching your goals? Try steps one through 5 in the action plan above and see how you do this year.

If you like this article, you might also like: How To Set New Year’s Resolutions That You’ll Keep (Part 1) and How To Set New Year’s Resolutions That You’ll Keep (Part 2).

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