Archive for Weight Management

THE DETRIMENT OF DIETING

Many of you know how I feel about diets: I HATE THEM. I know this is a strong statement but I would feel differently if they worked. They don’t. In fact, chronic images.pngdieting wreaks havoc on your psyche and on your body. Emotionally, unsuccessful dieting can make you feel like a failure, full or shame and self-hatred, and/or utterly frustrated. Physically, chronic yo-yo dieting can slow down your metabolism. In addition, it can change your body composition leaving you with more fat and less muscle.

Here’s another huge problem with dieting: You become so focused on the rules of the diet that you lose the  connection that you have with your body. You learn to accept feeling hungry, cutting out food groups, or eating foods that you don’t really enjoy. This is not conducive for long-term success.

A client of mine, let’s call her Jane, has been a chronic dieter her whole life. She’s a woman in her mid-forties, who came to me because she wanted to lose weight. After talking with her and understanding her long diet history, I knew she was looking for me to solve the problem. She would have been ecstatic if I handed her a sheet of paper, telling her exactly what to eat. In essence, she was looking for another diet.

I had to set Jane straight. I wanted her focus NOT to be dieting or weight loss but on other factors that were keeping her from losing weight—her real barriers. One of Jane’s barriers was her erratic work schedule. Often, she would go for long periods of time without food. By the time she had a break, she was “starving”, so naturally, when she sat down to eat, she ate too much and too much of the wrong foods.  However, when Jane’s work was more predictable, her eating was mindful and healthy. She had time to shop, prep and cook. Most importantly, she had time to figure out when she felt hungry (and not starving) and when she had enough (satiety). This is what mindful eating is all about.

My strategy for Jane was to have her armed and ready for the erratic days. She had to make sure she had healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts, to keep that “starving feeling” at bay. She is starting to see how this is making a big difference rather than following a strict diet, feeling strangulated with restrictions, and then  throwing in the towel because it’s just too hard. I am encouraging her to focus on her body to see what it’s telling her and to act accordingly.  In her case it means that she can’t ignore the hunger. This is a long-term strategy rather than, in the short-term,  counting calories on an app, and ignoring her body’s signals.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE:  If you want to lose weight, and have not been successful, DO NOT try another diet.  Instead, try a DIFFERENT approach: Take the focus OFF of weight loss and look for the underlying barriers that are sabotaging your progress.

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DON’T HAVE A TIRE BLOWOUT

Imagine this: You’re driving your car and all of a sudden, your tire light goes on. You are not in the mood to deal with it and figure that the light went on because the outside temperature dropped. You ignore the light.  You get away with it for a while until one day, you have a blowout and need a new tire. Of course, this hassle and expense could have been How-to-Handle-a-Tire-Blowout_615x330prevented, if you just paid attention to the tire light.

We all ignore things that are unpleasant. One of the easiest things to avoid is getting on the scale. As many of you know,  I am not a huge fan of the scale for several reasons: 1. I hate when we define ourselves by “that number” 2. The scale has great limitations because it does not tell us anything about “that number”.  Your body composition, which tells you how much muscle and fat you have, is the most important factor.  3. The scale causes a great deal of anxiety in some people.

HOWEVER, figuratively speaking, the scale can prevent a tire blowout. I have several clients who have gone for their annual physical only to be SHOCKED at how much weight they have gained in the course of one year.  Let’s face it–denial is a wonderful thing. We all go there and we are all pros at making rationalizations.  (It must be that damn dryer again that keeps shrinking my clothes!)

I know it’s scary but I think it’s worth it to take the plunge and hop on the scale once a week. Keep a log of your weight so that you can catch yourself before you have a larger issue.  I find that my clients, who weigh themselves weekly, are able to maintain their weight much easier than others who don’t—the scale keeps them honest and in check.

So, unless you are paralyzed with anxiety, give this a go. Rip off that band-aid, face the music, smell the coffee, bite the bullet or as Nike says JUST DO IT. As unpleasant as it seems, you’ll be glad that you did.

 

 

 

 

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THE JAR TELLS ALL

When I lived in London, there was interesting nutrition show on TV with a very catchy Soviet_mayones_jar_250_mltitle that I can no longer remember. (Maybe it was, “You Are What you Eat”?) A nutritionist went into the home of a very unhealthy eater and had a detailed discussion of what the person was eating on a daily basis. At the end of the week, the nutritionist came back and laid out all of the food that the person was eating for the entire week. On paper it didn’t seem all that horrific. But seeing the mounds of pizza, chips, soda, bacon, chocolate, and fried food all together, was shocking.

Often I have clients who eat very well, yet are not losing weight. When this happens, we take a closer look to see what’s going on. Often, we discover that there are “nimbles” in between that are sabotaging progress. Licking the wooden spoon when making a cake, having a taste of your husband’s pasta, having a few of you friend’s French fries or eating the crust of your child’s grilled cheese shouldn’t count. But it does. And, unfortunately,  it all adds up.

If this is your issue, you can try a visual experiment similar to what the nutritionist did on the British TV show. Take an empty jar and put it on the  kitchen counter. Every time you take a nimble or bit of this or that, put it in the jar instead of your mouth. Take a look at that jar at the end of the day. You might be VERY surprised. This could be the perfect visual aid that will give you the information that you need to see.

And who knows……..maybe just having that jar out on the counter will enough of a reminder!

 

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WANNA LOSE WEIGHT? IT’S NOT JUST DIET AND EXERCISE

When it comes to weight loss, think of this acronym: DESSstatic1.squarespace

  1. DIET
  2. EXERCISE
  3. STRESS CONTROL
  4. SLEEP

You need ALL FOUR of these to lose weight. Most people focus on only the first two. Unfortunately, diet and exercise are simply not enough. If you are overly stressed and/or are not sleeping enough, these last two will sabotage the first two.

Stress is a physiological response to what’s going on around you. Unfortunately, our bodies have not evolved or adapted to our new, sedentary way of living. When we are stressed we still produce those “fight or flight” hormones, just as the cavemen did. The problem is, we are no longer fighting or fleeing. Hormones like adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol and produced. They are part of our sympathetic nervous system and designed to turn on temporarily to get us through an acute situation of stress. When cortisol production is elevated chronically, due to stress, it can wreak havoc on the body causing an increase in blood pressure, blood sugar, and obesity as well as a decrease in immunity. Stress really messes us up hormonally, making weight loss virtually impossible.

Sleep is crucial for our well-being. While everyone needs a different amount of sleep, if your alarm is waking you up from a stupor, you are not getting enough sleep. Often when you feel sleepy, you reach for a “pick-me-up” to feel better– things like coffee drinks, or comfort food, which, of course, contribute to weight gain. Another problem that happens when you’re sleep deprived is that cortisol  increases. We now know how dangerous that can be. (See *Note)

So if you’re one of those people who have a very high tolerance to stress, be careful. You can’t hide from it even though you may try to convince yourself that you can! It might be what’s sabotaging all of your great efforts.

 

*Note:   I’m sure many of you know friends or family members who have had to take a steroid, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation.  Prednisone is a synthetic drug similar to cortisone. When taken for long periods of time, it will cause weight gain. This is similar to what happens in the body when there is too much cortisol….the side effect is weight gain.

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DIET AND EXERCISE? 3 QUICK TIPS

Happy 2016! Since it’s a new year, we will see a plethora of articles, in Diet-Exercise-Resourcesnewspapers, magazines and blogs, giving advice on how to get into shape and lose weight. I suppose I am no different, as I have a few things to say. However, I will keep this short and sweet and stick to just 3 quick tips.

  1. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you need to start exercising AND change your diet, start with the exercise. Exercise will make you feel better immediately. Armed with this sense of well-being, you will able to focus, more easily, on eating healthier.
  1. If you want to lose weight, exercise alone will never be enough. For those of you who like to exercise, this is disappointing. However, the bottom line is that you can never exercise away a bad diet. If you want to lose weight, you have to watch what you eat.
  1. If you’ve tried to make changes in the past and have not been successful, don’t try the same plan again. (This is similar to re-booting your computer over and over with the same result.) Be a problem solver. Create a different plan or try something totally different. Either way, you must be flexible along the way.  Focus on what is working and fix the things that are not. If you view weight loss/exercise as a process instead of a goal, it might make things easier.

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WHY CAN’T ANY DAY BE MONDAY??

I am extremely fortunate to have a diverse client base. However, when it comes to my clients, who are perpetually watching their weight, I’m seeing very similar behaviors, regardless of how different they are. Here are the top two behaviors that I keep seeing repetitively:

  1. If a “bad” food is eaten, such as a delicious chocolate chip cookie, there is an immediate trigger: The brain says “I blew it ! I might as well just eat whatever I want today and start over again tomorrow.” The reality is, you didn’t blow it. And the only way to realize this is to take a minute to stop, think, and to use logic. One cookie, a piece of cake, or a piece of candy will NOT ruin an entire day of healthy eating. However, eating anything and everything with abandon certainly WILL.
  1. When it comes to being mindful with food, there seems to be something incredibly MjAxNC01MWI4ODExMjZjZTNlZTkyspecial about Monday. Clients who eat poorly on Wednesday or Thursday will wait until Monday to start anew. What’s with Monday? Most people dread Mondays—it’s the end of the weekend and back to work. Why make Mondays even harder? Instead, start thinking that ANY day can be Monday. In fact, your next meal can be Monday!

So if these behaviors are familiar to you, you CAN change them. It won’t be easy but it will be wonderful to drop these typical “dieting” behaviors. We know that diets don’t work and that dieting behaviors are destructive. Think bigger picture—committing to lifestyle changes is the only way to go. This means that one cookie eaten on a Wednesday afternoon won’t sabotage your day or your week. No need to wait until Monday!

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THE FRUSTRATED TRAINER (NOT ME!)

I know a great trainer (let’s call him Tim): he’s knowledgeable, compassionate and dedicated to his clients. He also knows a lot about nutrition for exercise and gives his clients sound advice. The other day Tim told me a story about one of his clients, and once he did, I realized that we differ tremendously on our philosophy about weight loss.

Tim had a client who was overweight. He was training with Tim for years and Tim did imgreseverything in his power to motivate and educate his client so that he could lose weight. Nothing worked. The client recently stopped working-out with Tim for several months (he had a personal project to attend to) and when he came back, Tim was shocked: his client had lost 25-pounds.

While Tim was thrilled for his client, he was also very frustrated. He was so annoyed that his client didn’t listen to HIM…..that after all of those years and all of those talks, he never did what Tim said.

Here’s where Tim and I differ: I don’t get frustrated. I’ve come to realize that as a trainer, I have a lot of control over getting someone strong and physically fit. However, when it comes to weight loss, I have no control. Sure, a client and I can talk about good nutrition, eating strategies, how to shop, how to cook, how to plan, how to eat when traveling, how to read food labels, how to fuel prior to exercise and the best way to order in a restaurant. Even armed with all of this, it is still VERY difficult to lose weight. The only way it will happen is when someone is EXTREMELY motivated. The motivation will create focus and with that focus the person will be able to do whatever it takes.They will be unstoppable.

To sum up my feelings about weight loss:

  1. Weight loss CAN happen (you can do it!!) if and only if you are motivated.
  2. Seeing a personal trainer and/or nutritionist is a wonderful first step.
  3. Ultimately, the professional can’t make it happen for you……you have to make it happen for yourself. After all, it’s your life and your journey.

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