Weight Loss And Salads

Another came rolling through again. The obligatory salad post with some “diet” caption attached to it.

I see them often.

The person is usually getting on the diet wagon and where else do you start, but by eating salads, right?

Now hear me out.

I’m not knocking salads. I love them. They are often my lunch of choice because well, I simply enjoy eating veggies, they fill me up, don’t make me feel sleepy, and leave me feeling energetic.

Salads done right are a wonderful meal and offer endless amounts of creativity with them.

Sadly, some I see, I’m left thinking that the poor person will be starving soon ( no protein in salad) and often lacking a good variety of veggies in it.

We have also been conditioned to think of losing weight and getting healthy in forms of deprivation.

Nothing fun or tasty.

A boring iceberg salad mix with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in, a bit of cucumber, and maybe some shredded carrot.

Yay. Go to town on that.

After all to lose weight, you gotta suffer right? Be miserable? Hungry all the time?

No, not really. Not at all.

Well, what works then?

There are many things on the market promising weight loss. There are lots of “trendy” new diets you can commit to if that’s your thing.

None of them are magic. None of them have some super power over the other. Some offer restrictions, others take food groups away from you, some have you eating gobs of fat, some give you barely enough calories to operate on, some offer “meal replacements”… gosh the list can go on….

At the end of the day it’s simply science.

We lose weight when we take in less calories than our bodies need for daily functioning.

You could achieve it on an Oreo and milk diet although I wouldn’t recommend that…. mainly ’cause I’m not into Oreos  😉

You create a deficit  by calories and activity level and in a slow and steady way weight loss will occur.

You need to reduce your daily calories by about  350-500 a day to lose weight.

How the heck do I do that?

I’d say start with things that might not matter a lot or that you could easily reduce. Do you stop for some sugary drink at Starbucks or the local coffee shop?

Do you have any idea of the calorie, fat, or sugar content of it for the size you buy?

Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Google it up and look.

Are you shocked? Most people are.

How much sugar or creamer do you add to coffee?  How many sodas or sugar drinks do you consume? Alcohol?

I’d say the best thing to do is simply write down all you eat in a day for about a week.

Be honest. Don’t try and hide anything from yourself. This will give you a guide of what you eat.. the good and not so good.

This will be your starting place to look at where to weed out those 350-500 calories a day.

We often mindlessly stuff things into our mouths without recognizing that yeah, those calories do count.

So do an honest assessment with yourself if you want to see where you can reduce or cut out to help lower those calories while keeping the more nutritious foods in place.

Speaking of nutritious foods…..

Consider foods you like that are healthy and offer your body good nutrition. You know I don’t really like to label foods, but let’s be honest, there are many foods that offer more to our health, feeling good, being energetic and losing weight than others.

Whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean meats, dairy products all offer an abundance of goodies for us to choose from to plan our daily nutrition needs.

Vegetables and fruit… consider this…

On average, only 14 percent of American adults consume at least 2 servings of fruit and at least 3 servings of vegetables daily.

14%.

Sadly, in my communication with people I’m always staggered at the truth of that. The very idea of vegetables is something repugnant being offered to them.

You can eat a whole lot of veggies that fill you up, keep you feeling energetic, and come in really low on the calories.

They can be eaten raw or cooked in all kinds of ways that are delicious.

Here’s the deal… if you’ve trained yourself to eat not so nutritious foods, you can train yourself to eat foods that support good health and weight loss.

And you have trained yourself to eat and drink the way you do now…..

It just will take some time and intentional effort on your part…. you know… that habit thing I always blab about….

I was at a dinner party recently and the couple across from me were, well honestly, really over weight. The wife was telling me how she was trying to get him to eat vegetables and he was telling me about ones he had been “trying” and she said “I’m even trying to get him to eat brussel sprouts!”

I said “Oh, how are you preparing them?”  (Help me. I already knew the answer before it came)

“Oh, I boil them!” she said smiling at me

I tried to contain my face and not imagine them boiled and rolling around the plate like little green heads… boiling them is like the kiss of death. Boiling them is the reason people rebel against eating them 😉

I told her for a change, that would be tasty and healthy, to slice them up, toss them with a little olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt then roast them till they started to get crispy.

Her hubby definitely perked up to that.

Seriously though. Learn to experiment with vegetables. Roasting brings out the best flavors in them. Some do better lightly steamed but most anything can be roasted.

Now about those salads….

 

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Pure deliciousness. Writing, iced coffee and this new amazing salad from a local fast food joint of all places.

 

 

Just a few tips on making a good salad for your meal.

~include a variety of colorful veggies. Peppers, radishes, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, broccoli, really anything can be added.

~ don’t be afraid of tossing some fruit in. Blueberries or strawberries can make a good addition to a green salad.

~ Don’t forget a healthy dose of protein… this keeps you from getting hungry soon. Feta cheese, grilled chicken, canned tuna, boiled eggs etc can be great options to add in.

~ healthy fats like avocados or walnuts are a good addition to your salad

~ go easy on salad dressings or this will negate all the good efforts of your salad. Be mindful of calories and fat and the fact a serving size is usually like 2 tablespoons… yeah.. go ahead and measure that out…  look for low calorie ones or better yet learn to whip up your own healthier alternatives.

I’ve found the more creative the mix of my salad, the less I really want any dressing or at best just a minimal amount.

So post those salad pics…..

Seriously, if you’re on the road to dropping some weight, good for you! Salads offer a fun, tasty and super healthy way to get there. Make them satisfying to your tastes and share your creativity. It’s ok to enjoy your fruits and veggies.

Keep in mind as well, a balanced nutrition plan, with a small daily reduction of calories,  will lead to weight loss and keep your energy level up in the process.

What is the way you find most successful to lose weight? Are you good at eating your fruits and veggies?

Why Do You Want To Lose Weight ?

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Your Monday morning thought provoking question :

No… it’s not “should you get another cup of coffee” that… is never a question 😉

It’s this…

Why… do you want to lose weight?

Seriously, I want you to stop and think about it. Assuming, you, like many of my readers have a goal to do so. It could be as little as 5 lbs. or as much as 50.

If you are one of the rare, and few readers who doesn’t need to/want to/ or has hit their goal… you might want to just go grab more coffee and head into your day…

Or read along with us.. choice is yours… 😉

But why? Why do you want to? I don’t mean it in a flippant way, but more of a thought provoking way.

I recently overheard someone saying she wanted to lose weight for her boyfriend and it was all I could do to keep my big mouth shut and tell her she was doing it for the wrong reason then.

At the starting point of thought… weight should never be about someone else. And by that I mean, that you are doing it to please them.

So.. the question.

Why?  It’s important that you really understand that because the idea will be what helps motivate you, keeps you going, gives you something to center your goals around.

If you just have a blind thought like this… “I need to lose weight! I need to lose 30 lbs!”

It’s just vague. There is nothing connected to it to help you get to the goal of losing 30 lbs… or 5… or 10.

It’s abstract with no solid plan to get there.

So may I suggest if that idea has been rolling through your head, you take steps to make it more of a concrete thought with reasons why you need to?

I’ll give you an example.

8 years ago when I was at my yearly appointment with my doctor he simply told me.. hey… you look good.. your labs look good… but you could lose some weight.. it will help you in the long run..

When I left his office that day I had to think about some things and make a decision for myself. I certainly knew what my family history was ( Grandmother and Mom both in the obese categories. grandmother had heart attack at 50 and a dad who had health issues and chronic diseases who died of heart disease)

That should be enough to make anyone sit up and take notice with their own health, right? So roughly at the age of 44, I needed to make some choices. I needed to examine how I was living and did I want to follow the paths I’d seen in my family already?

I had to ask myself… why do I want to lose weight?  What was going to motivate me to get the job done? How would I do it?

I didn’t want to live like my family. I didn’t want health issues. I wanted to be strong and healthy for my husband, kids and ( now) grandchildren.

Please note.. I wasn’t losing weight to please them… or make them happy…

it was about wanting to continue to have a good quality of life and take care of the body I had that was still free of any chronic diseases I could prevent.

You understand don’t you, that most chronic diseases, we have the ability to prevent in ourselves?

I’ve seen the ugly toll they take on people you love. I wanted no part of that… I want it even less at this point in my life.

For me, that was the “why” question answered.

From there, I had to be proactive about making things happen. No one was going to do it for me. I had to have a plan and goals and day by day make them happen.

The goals were small and attainable. In the beginning I set out to walk, every, single day.

2 miles. No matter what. I did it.

I also began slowly adjusting my eating… day by day… choosing better foods and learning portion and moderation sizes.

I didn’t beat myself up if I had a day I felt wasn’t “spectacular” I just kept going.

I made weight loss goals small too. I focused on 5 lbs at a time. I celebrated when I’d hit the next “5” or “0” number on the scale.

Pretty much it’s what I did for awhile as the scale slowly crept backwards and my clothes started getting to big.

As time went on, I kept readjusting my goals and ideas of what I wanted for myself.

I eventually lost the weight I wanted and my goals continued to shift.

A stronger, leaner body led to me running more which led me into running big events like marathons and a 50K to celebrate my 50th birthday ( yes, crazy I know)

My goals and desires are still flexible and changing. I run and cycle now. I love spending a couple days inside lifting heavy stuff and doing strength training.

My “why’s” have changed a lot.

Yes, I wanted to lose weight for a healthy life. Yes, I wanted to lose weight to not have health issues. And honestly, yes, I wanted smaller jeans 😛

But the other things that came along with it were just as valuable.

Losing weight and gaining confidence in what I can do athletically is empowering!  Learning about myself and taking on new challenges showed me  what I’m made of.  The mental muscle and internal strength I’ve gained can’t be measured. Being strong in my daily life is another huge payoff. I love having lots of energy for all I do in my day!

As time has moved on, I’ve also been able to teach, encourage, and mentor others on the same road. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing others be successful at the same thing.

Now, I don’t feel a need to focus on weight or losing it. I did however, have that starting point.

I had the “why” question.  I then took steps to live it out.

You… ask yourself the question… then make a concrete plan to see it through.

You’ve got all you need in you to be successful and accomplish it 🙂

 

Common Weight Loss Questions

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I get asked a variety of questions when it comes to health, exercise and weight loss. For the record though,  let’s establish I’m not some “professional something or another” .

I am however, a normal (ish) middle aged woman who has had 8 years of plugging along on this journey.

I’ve lost my weight and kept it off.  I’ve gone from being non-athletic to doing more than people half my age consider doing.  I get asked often “who I train with”… I train myself and I guess I’m fairly motivated to keep pushing harder and working towards new goals.

I’ve learned a lot about food and more importantly nutrition and how important that is for us in the context of living active, strong, healthy lives.

I experiment on myself, if it works, great. If not I toss it. I read tons and am always trying to learn.

I don’t buy into hype and commonly pushed weight loss products, supplements, enhancements etc.

My take on things in regards to weight loss and health is that it should be sane and sustainable… meaning you can keep at it for a lifetime.

I never assume that what works for me, works for you. Mainly because biologically, we are wired differently and secondly our daily activities and exercise will greatly vary.  Put all of that together and it will have a different impact on our weight loss and fitness goals.

All of that being said…

People still ask me questions 😛

I thought I’d field a few of them here ’cause they are pretty common to most people.

Here we go … buckle your seatbelts boys and girls….. ready ??

I’ve been exercising but I’m not losing weight.

Here’s the deal. Exercise is great. I love it. I highly endorse it for a wealth of reasons. Please, keep doing it no matter what. If you’re exercising you’re well ahead of a lot of people who haven’t gotten to that point yet. But if you aren’t losing weight it simply means…. you are eating to much. A negative people get with the exercise idea  is that they can eat (more) or have (treats) ’cause they walked some that morning or hit the gym for 30 minutes.  It means, you greatly over estimate your actual calorie burn. Without creating a deficit at the end of the day, you won’t lose weight.  Eat good food, in moderation. Know the calories you need to operate on in your day.  To lose weight try reducing them by maybe 20%. For example if you can eat 1800 calories a day ( this includes calories for purposeful exercise and just being alive) that means you’d subtract roughly 360 calories.

As long as we’re on this topic…. you won’t lose as quickly or much if you eat crappy food…to put it bluntly.  You must not only learn to listen to your body and eat in moderation, but stop when you’re hunger is satisfied, not till you’re stuffed. Learning to eat healthier foods is definitely going to put you on a faster track to weight loss. Exercise alone will not do it.

I’m not losing weight, so I must be gaining muscle.

Oh boy. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here… but….if you’re starting on your journey or even if you’ve been at it for a little while.. you probably can’t count “muscle gain”.   If you’re a guy reading this, yeah, you have an advantage over your more feminine counter parts ’cause you’ve got all that testosterone roaring through your body helping the process. If you’re a woman, you still have the ability to gain muscle. But here’s the deal… very few people are going to work with the all out intensity required and eat in the manner necessary to accomplish muscle gain that fast. At best, even if you are committed to actively lifting heavy stuff and eating well, it could be a solid 6 months ( and longer)  before you could think you’ve “got gains” that affect your weight.

Consistency to it is key. You have to work and stay with it several days a week.  The next part of that is working your muscles to the point of fatigue ( meaning you cant do another rep).  And then of course, feeding your body adequate protein and enough food to build muscle. You have to eat plenty of food to build serious muscle.

Yes, long before that happens you will start to see a difference in your body, but to claim weight gain as gaining muscle when you either a) don’t lift enough/do enough strength training consistently b) or  haven’t been at it long enough is well, just lying to yourself.

But for heavens sake. don’t stop what you’re doing! You’re exercising and that is great. If you’re working at it, the muscles will show up, in time.

I don’t really like veggies/ green foods. What do I do?

This one, I always want to say, I’m sorry! Why don’t you??? I mean seriously, I think veggies are the cats meow.  They offer fiber, vitamins, minerals, are low in calories ( there are tons even referred to as “zero” calorie foods) and you can eat so many of them and not have to even worry about it all the while, staying full and satisfied. How can you go wrong with that??

Usually, there are a variety of reasons what I’m told.  Everything from ” I just don’t THINK I’ll like them”, “I never had to eat them (bad mom)”, “I’ve tried some and they are gross” and the list  goes on….

First, if your idea of “good” veggies is from a can… you need to expand your horizons to the real, fresh produce department where there is a plethora of tasty things.

Or, if  your veggies were always steamed to death until they were totally unrecognizable, then again, you need learn about cooking them in tastier ways.

I’m telling you… nothing.. is better than roasted veggies with some olive oil, and cracked pepper and sea salt.

Bottom line: you’re going to have to be willing to experiment and open yourself up to new things.  You’ve learned and trained your body to eat junk food, you can train it to eat good food.

Start small. Find what you like. Look for new recipes. You might surprise yourself at what you come across and actually enjoy. But, you have to be willing to try or it will never happen.

I don’t have time to exercise. How do I do it?

OK. This one. We’re all given the same amount of time in a day, it just comes down to, how do we use it? Obviously, we have necessary things in our days that demand our attention.

Jobs, families, house keeping, shopping etc.

But then, you have free time as well. If you have time for computer play, surfing the internet, playing games on your phone, watching shows on TV etc… then… you really do have time for some exercise.

It just becomes a matter of where your priorities are.

Exercise is work so I get that it just seems easier and more relaxing to just lay on the sofa instead of heading out the door to sweat. Exercise takes a bit of will power and intentional determination in the beginning to make it happen until it becomes a habit to you.

I always suggest making your exercise time a daily appointment with yourself. Schedule it like anything else. You know your day and you know what times you have that there are lesser demands on you to get it done. I’m up in the morning, my workout clothes on, my brain is already preparing for what’s about to happen ( although now it’s simply something I do and look forward too) I figured out a long time ago what time worked best for me to get it done. Doing it in the morning is a great way to clear my head, get my blood moving and my body warmed up for the day.

Do something you like and will stick with. Find your time. Schedule it. Make no excuses to get it done.

I know I need to drink water but….ewwww! Ideas on doing it?

I get it. If you’re used to sugary drinks, this will be a big jump for you. I’ve lived off it for so long that I actually crave it now. Do you know we all have a natural thirst? Over time, it’s quenched by the other things we feed it ( i.e. sugar filled drinks). Start by drinking some water when you wake in the morning. Try and keep it with you at all times.. you will drink it. If you drink sweet stuff, it will be an intentional practice to drink water.  Start with reducing one sugar drink a day with a bottle of water.  With a little practice, you will be increasing your water intake in no time. If it helps, you can add fresh lemon or lime to give it some flavor. Again, this is something you will need to be intentional about doing until it begins to feel more natural to you. With practice, you’ll be drinking more water in no time 🙂

 

Ok that’s it for today! I’ve used up my word allotment.  ( well just kidding on that.. I never run out of words 😉

If you have any questions or comments feel free to add them or contact me 🙂

Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight

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Weight loss. The thing that one person or the other is pursuing at any given time. Some are easily successful at it while maybe you, are over there struggling and wondering why it’s not working and what you might need to do differently.

There are a few things that you might be missing so let me offer up some ideas. Hopefully, you will find them helpful.

Ready? Here we go.

You aren’t eating enough. Ah boy am I pointing the fork at myself when I mention this one! And women are far more guilty of this. If you’re actively working out and burning off some serious calories and only eating say, the normal “prescribed” caloric content for women ( 1200) then your body will hoard and hold onto fat like a bear going into winter hibernation. Even if you’re workouts aren’t arduous, know what you’re caloric needs are for the day and eat them! It is most likely more than 1200 calories. You should strive to eat plenty of fruits, veggies, lots of greens, lean meats, eggs, nuts and whole foods which will fill you up. Eating adequate and healthy foods will keep you full and you’ll be less likely to binge on junk food.

You’re doing all cardio and no strength training. ok I’m a self professed cardio junkie. I love running. And cycling. And the crazy rowing machine.  And all of them together. I love the physical outpouring that goes along with it. I love moving my body. But I’ve also learned the value of building some muscle. Cardio does burn fat but muscle mass burns calories, even when you rest. Lifting weights keeps your metabolism revved. Your plan should be to add some weight work to your cardio activities.  You can use machines if you have access or free weights. I always prefer free weights over a machine. Use weights heavy enough you have to work at it.

You play the diet game and don’t do make it a lifestyle change. No one wants to think they need to always be on a diet. Or that they must live on one. What a total drag.  When you’re on a diet you mentally view it as you are “on it” or when you’ll “be off it”. Adapting to the thought of a lifestyle change means you live each day making intentional choices to feed and nourish your body in good ways.  This slow, steady process will lead to weight loss that will stay off.  Your new focus should be to get the word “diet” permanently out of your vocab and just focus on making good nutrition and exercise choices. The thing that works will be what’s sustainable for you… not what your neighbor does…or what you read in the magazine. What works for you and your body.  It will be sustainable allowing you to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

You don’t have a good support system. I’ve been a social media fiend for a long time now posting my athletic shenanigans, my goals, my foods, my struggles. Throwing it out there has not only been something that makes me accountable, it also lets people stop me in the store and ask about how it’s going.  To be successful, I believe you need to have a few friends, family or shamelessly use social media to hold you accountable and offer support and encouragement. Find what works for you. Have someone you can call, ask questions of, or who will overall be your cheerleader and hold you accountable.

You don’t have specific goals.  One thing that keeps me SO focused in my training is knowing I have an event coming. It puts an element of intensity to it and it keeps me focused on what I’m chasing. When I was losing weight I had specific short term target goals… 5 pounds at a time. 5 pounds was short, doable and easily attainable. it didn’t leave me feeling overwhelmed saying I needed to lose… “30” pounds…in that vague kinda way.  You can make specific food or drink goals. Maybe cutting down on sugary drinks or increasing your green veggies.  Perhaps it’s just getting off couch each night for an evening walk. Make each thing you strive for specific and take steps to go there.  Small steps over times, lead to bigger victories.

You think your morning workout sesh burned a ton of calories. I’ve always been cautious about how I eat after a workout. I know it doesn’t give me open season to eat whatever ( ok maybe after a 20 miler 😉  For instance, doing a 3 mile run, burns a loose average of 300 calories. That can vary depending on size and speed of runner…but close estimating. You can see it wouldn’t take long to easily negate that 300 calories with a “treat” drink at the local coffee shop. Don’t over estimate what you do. It’s important you keep your nutrition on point as you increase your physical activities and monitor your portions.

You aren’t consistent. Personally, I think this is one of the biggest things I’ve seen working with people. They start off motivated, propelled with the excitement of starting, yet as weeks move on I see them slipping back and not doing what they need to do for success.  In the beginning it is hard to keep pushing forward because you aren’t seeing results yet and you think that what you’re doing isn’t changing anything. It is crucial you stay committed to your exercise and nutrition.  It is consistency that will yield those long term results you want.  It’s important to keep moving, every day.  There will be times or days that it can’t happen. It’s like that for all of us. You just get back at it the next day. If you make excuses, it becomes easier to fall into that trap. Treat your workouts like any other important meeting you have in your day.

With a careful examination of what you are doing ( or not doing) how you are eating, and what your purposeful exercise looks like, you’ll be moving closer to your goals of weight loss.  And one final thought, don’t give up. Just because you don’t “see” results right away doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. Change takes time. Let the process happen 🙂

 

Do You Need Supplements From Door To Door Salesmen?

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So before I dive into todays topic, I will preface it with this side note.  I started my morning off with a HITT workout ( high intensity interval training) I had been pondering a rest day… which is never easy for me to do… instead I pick a quick 22 minute HITT sesh as my other option 😛

Anyway, I’m now at the local coffee shop writing as it seemed like a fair thing to do, give the legs a rest.  But then I decided to wear these cute little heeled booties with my new sweater dress and my legs are asking… “why?”… but hey… fashion before function, right ? 😉

Have I ever mentioned, next to fitness stuff, I love fun fashion? yeah.. well maybe that’s a future post waiting to happen…

But for now… on with the show!

Todays topic.

It was generated by some articles I was reading the other day that got me once again to thinking and pondering what was being said and then, well here I go again, climbing on my  “snake oil pedaling” band wagon.

I’ve talked before about all the hype of “health and wellness” companies, the products that are offered, the claims that are made, and the money it costs for these items.

Some of the propaganda is quite enticing to people who are desperate and wanting something, anything, to fix the health and weight issues.  Something other than exercise and eating better…

I’ll tell you… so much of it hurts my heart that they are going to throw their money away on stuff and still be in the same boat they are 6 months or less from the time they started shoveling it out.

Now listen, if you’ve got something that works for you, great. If you’ve found something that works alongside what I refer to as the basics ( eating good wholesome food, in the right portions, minimal crap food, and plenty of exercise) good for you.

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My issue is sales people that tell you that you “need” stuff in the products to be healthy or to lose weight.

For instance, here’s what tripped me up….this article was saying how you needed to take chromium because it’s not produced in your body.

Ok first of all… most people are not really going to care or know what it is much less feel like they need to run out and buy if cause their body is in desperate need of it.

Well… here’s a little lesson on this mineral our body needs that wasn’t included in company info…

Chromium is actually a trace mineral that our body uses in very small amounts for healthy functioning.  Chromium plays a role in the insulin-signaling pathways that allow our bodies to control the amount of sugar we take in, it balances blood glucose levels and gives us stable energy.

Here’s the kicker though… it’s easily found in the majority of foods that we consume… whole grains, cereals, meats, potatoes, vegetables, etc ( please don’t buy into the “our ground has been stripped and our foods have no good nutrient value anymore” nonsense) … you can also get more from cooking in stainless steel and drinking tap water. Since we use so little of it for natural functioning most people take in more than adequate amounts to sustain what they need. Meaning, a supplement is not necessary and the body only “washes” what’s not needed.

The only people found to (possibly) need a supplement might be those with diabetes or the elderly.

Like any supplement it is possible to take more than you need for a healthy body and although overdoses are rare to much can cause toxicity and some serious side effects. It is always best to consult your doctor when considering certain supplements , vitamins, and minerals or other products  you are thinking to add to your daily diet.

Todays thinking has become “if a little is good, more is better” and that’s not true. Our bodies are beautifully wired to work in a perfect balance and throwing in more than we need is often not helpful or can cause health problems if dosage is to much.

And a final reminder… no matter how well meaning your family member, co-worker, friend, neighbor etc… who are selling “health products” … they are often only sharing published information the company has generated that they in turn feed to you.

Keep in mind they are not your doctor, a nutritionist, or health care specialist and you should always seek advice of professionals before taking products you may not need

Be your own advocate. Do your own homework. Know what it is you are considering  putting in your body before you invest your money into something you may not need or benefit from.

Those Bad Habits

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Lots of things in life inspire me to write. One of the things that compels me is talking to people out in the real world and hearing from them.

You bring questions. You have struggles. You wrestle with many of the same things the rest of the human race does. You wonder why you trip and fall over the same issues….again…and again….

Todays post is driven by something I’d say more people can relate to than not… it was a question casually posed to me in the grocery store the other day…

“Why do I keep going back and doing the same thing over and over again?? I (intellectually) know better.”

Meaning, making poor food choices. To much of it. The wrong kinds. The binge. The mindless eating. The food “rewards”.

Oh do I hear you. Loud and clear, I hear you.

I’m on a journey, but I haven’t arrived and I have my weak areas too that can be stumbling blocks.  The only thing is, I’ve had some time and practice that helps me be more in control and maintain  those weaker areas.

Most of the time…..

As I listened this week ( actually this topic has come up a few times with different people) I reminded them that the reason we do.. the reason why when things get rough in life, or we’ve had a stressful day or whatever we revert to the habits that have ( most likely) been ingrained in us for a lifetime, or maybe all of our adult life.

Listen up… don’t fool yourself…. food and drink are as much of a medication to us as drugs and alcohol can be.

They act in the same place in our brain where we receive pleasure… which can be comfort us under stress or when we want to feel good.

I don’t drink sodas but as I’ve talked with people and listened I’m blown away at the dependency so many have on soda. And I don’t need to preach that a steady, daily diet of pure sugar will lead to a nice weight gain. And don’t be fooled by diet ones either. They promote the same dependency and often contribute to weight gain too.

It might not be soda but maybe a trigger food… often it involves sugar or salt. Both of which seem to feed off the other, triggering a desire for both.

Sometimes it’s just slipping back into eating more than you need. Eating beyond being satisfied to that overly stuffed feeling.

Whatever your poison is, you know it. You know exactly what it is.

But back to the question… why? Why do we fall into these things again?

Habits my friends. Habits that we’ve built, coddled and maybe if we’re honest with ourselves, zealously held on to, unwilling to give up.

Habits built over time that feel comfortable so when the day goes haywire, we naturally feel comforted by something old and familiar to us.

We need to make a practiced discipline at rewiring new habits in ourselves.

Yes. It might take some time. Yes. You might flop and fall on your face more than you want to. But the important thing is you keep getting up and you keep moving forward and making a better decision each time.

Because you’re building new disciplines, new habits, and these things just don’t happen overnight. It takes a bit of time.

I can tell you, moving into my 9th year of my health and fitness journey that there are so many things that have become second nature to me now that I don’t think about anymore.

It wasn’t like that when I started out.

But over time, building new habits, things got easier.

I offered up this same advice in my one on one conversations. I understand the frustration and the, well, disgust, you can feel for thinking you’ve “failed” again.

Hear me.. you haven’t failed. The sheer fact that you’re aware of what you did and want to keep getting better at it means you haven’t failed at all.

Get up. Keep moving forward. Repeat as needed until you develop new skills for your weakness.

Some ideas for you on your journey:

Know what things are your personal weakness.  Understand what you’re triggers are. What makes you reach for those things?

Think about how you’ll feel after. Will you feel good about the choices you make? If you can, then maybe that “thing” is ok. Will you feel defeated again and have that self loathing for not being “stronger” or more “disciplined”?  Will it be worth it?

Consider how victorious you’ll feel making a better choice.

Call a friend, go for a walk,  whatever it takes to refocus your mind. If you wait it out, the feeling can pass.

Do you have goals? Will this habit keep you from reaching them?

Learn a new thing to do when those feelings come. Practice it.

Developing an awareness for what triggers you is the first step to building and reshaping habits and new skills in your life.

There is nothing more satisfying than reshaping your mind with a new habit or discipline. Just don’t quit the process before you get there.

Have you learned ways to cope with negative behaviors? Have you built new habits that have replaced old ones ? How has that made you feel ?

Salad Bar Strategies

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I heard a news story come on the other day that caught my attention. The announcer was rattling off “come back and see how salad bars can be diet sabotage.”

My first thought was… “Seriously? everyone knows what a nutritional trap those are” but then it was followed by the thought that, no, not everyone who is in the world is aware that salad bars can be the total downfall for their nutritional goals.

People with the best of intentions wanting to make better nutritional choices fall into a quagmire at the salad bar.

But first, let us also establish this. Straight up… not all salad bars are created equal. If all you’re offering me is iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, shaved carrots, some mushy looking tomatoes, with dessert offerings of bland chocolate and vanilla pudding, I’m totally passing it by.

You know what I’m talking about… you’ve seen those too 😉

I remember a couple years ago being with my husband at a popular deli restaurant which also happened to have an amazing salad bar. At this point in my health and fitness journey I had already figured out what to leave behind and what to load on my plate. A woman walked by our table with, I think? a salad, I couldn’t be sure it was covered in a sea of creamy white dressing . I could see no visible vegetables.

I wanted to jump up and yell “Salad intervention!!” so very bad but my husbands restraining hand kept me in my chair. ( Nah, not really. I can honestly behave when I have to 😉

I did want to tell her… “do you know how many calories and fat you have on that plate in just dressing alone??” or that you could’ve made a much better choice having a sandwich with lean meats and veggies, and probably even some chips for less calories?

First lesson in salad bar strategies: Watching out for those dressings. Ranch which is one of the most popular has  73 calories per tablespoon with 94% of those calories being fat calories.

Let that breathe over you for a second….

1 tablespoon. Have you measured out 1 tablespoon? it’s nothing.  Yet most people use far more than that . All those calories for dressing.

ranch
Each bowl containing 1 tablespoon

 

And not just Ranch, dressings in general are a nightmare. Opt for light vinaigrette, oil and vinegar or even dressings that might be more reduced fat ( although I think those are gross and would rather do without) if you really want Ranch, portion into a small container and dip your fork in the dressing before you grab some salad.

Second Lesson: Avoid all those pre-made salads. You know, the kinds made with mayo  or unidentifiable oils? This loads up the calories.

Third Lesson:  Beware of toppings. Croutons, bacon bits ( which most of the time aren’t even real bacon),  and other assorted items people pile on, again, not realizing  a tablespoon or two is a lot of calories.

Fourth Lesson: Beware hidden sugars.  Fruit served on salad bars is often served in heavy sugary syrup. Also watch for dried fruits which although not overall bad pack lots of calories. Always look for fruit served in it’s more natural form.

So you’re reading this thinking… “Well, super awesome! What exactly CAN I have??”

I’ll tell you. Let’s build it from the bottom up so that your salad bar trip really is good for you.

Grab your plate and layer it with lettuce. And by that I mean, the dark green leafy kind. If you know anything about me then you might know I have little use for Iceberg lettuce. It’s just so…boring… and has virtually no nutritional value compared to the darker kinds.

However, if that’s all that’s offered then you don’t have a choice. Even better? If they have fresh spinach, mix some of that with your lettuce. For me now days, spinach has become my lettuce for salads.

So once you get your lettuce/spinach in place, feel free to add any colorful veggies onto your plate. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, broccoli… you get it. Whatever fresh colorful veggies are offered, take them.

Veggies are your friend 😉

Once you get that built, you want to consider whatever lean protein is available. Select enough that is roughly the size of a deck of  cards. Hard boiled eggs can also be included with meat.

Then you look for “healthy” fats… avocado, nuts, cheese, olives etc. Select these sparingly, like golf ball size amount.

If you want a few “extras” on top, croutons or seeds or whatever floats your boat, do it mindfully.

Finally, when you have your colorful, fresh looking salad prepared, if you want some type of dressing, assess that carefully. As mentioned earlier, a single tablespoon full can pack a whopping amount of calories and fat to your healthy built salad.

Consider servings of dressings in marble sizes. Meaning, go sparingly.

Following a few simple tricks, and knowing what to avoid, will let you have a healthy, satisfying and nutrient dense meal without piling on tons of empty calories 🙂

Tell me, do you have any healthy tricks or tips you use at the salad bar?

The All Or Nothing Approach

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So as I eagerly shared with you in my last post, I have jumped more into the world of cycling with the purchase of my first professional cycling bike ( I wanted to sleep with it after I brought it home. Put it outside?? haha)

In the week that I’ve had it we’ve been getting acquainted with one another. I have to take a little time to do that.

Being on a new bike is like buying a new car.

You simply have to spend some time with it to see how it responds, and how it handles under you. You learn how much you can push it and how fast you can stop when you do push it. You learn how fast you can go on curves 😉

Actually, I’m being good and haven’t really pushed the speed a lot yet.

There is also time for your body to adjust to the differences as well. Being on a bike that is sized and adjusted to my body, obviously positions me very differently from my other bike that I had adjusted as much as possible for my arms and legs.

Therefore, I’m feeling it in different ways after a ride. As much as I’ve wanted to take off and go ….for miles…. in this week I’ve kept the rides short… usually between 8-10 miles.  It gives me enough time to settle in and adjust but not so much that I’m uncomfortable later.

It’s hard mentally knowing what I can do, but keeping it in check to allow myself time to adapt to the changes with the new bike. If I jumped in and took off on my usual route which hits somewhere between 20-25 miles…. I might not be feeling so great the next day and left feeling like I wanted to do nothing because I hurt.

I cannot take an all or nothing approach to conditioning myself for new athletic adventures.

To continue strong  in my training means being practical to my approach in training if I want to make consistent progress.

Yet… so often when I’m talking with people about health and weight loss there is an “all or nothing” approach to it.

I must give up everything to be successful. No fun. Nothing good.  Lots of exercise.  Rice cakes and celery sticks, here I come.

OR

I will just eat whatever. Exercise doesn’t matter so much. I’m ok the way I am. I’ll get to it…someday… maybe… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it.

An all or nothing approach to weight loss and fitness never works either.

In fact, it’s designed to fail.

For instance, things that make me cringe. You’ve seen those “30 Day Challenges”?  You know, something like get up to 3,000 squats by the end of the month or a zillion pushups?

Ok, I might be slightly exaggerating but the effects would be the same.  If you crawled off the sofa and just started pushing your body hard with activities it wasn’t used to, well, most likely by day 2 you’re gonna be so sore you’ll be using that challenge chart to start a fire.

Maybe you just decide you’re going to go start running and try a few miles.. and you haven’t even done walking miles yet. It could be anything.

When you just throw yourself into it with no preparation, your body will let you know it’s not happy about it.

You had that crazy moment of going after it “all” approach… and now you are paying for it… which is when you decide the “nothing” approach is probably better.

What a vicious cycle!  No wonder so many give up frustrated and discouraged with the process and quit.

What if, you built a plan, that was gradual, consistent and sustainable?   A plan that allowed your body to adapt to the changes you were putting it through?

Much like I cannot just get up and run a marathon without months of training or do a really long ride on a brand new bike without some adjustment, you cannot just jump in to extremes and expect long term success.

Beginning with a few days a week, alternating days with low intensity exercise will allow your body to adapt and prevent extreme soreness with will sideline you. Each week you can add a little more to what you do.

Learning to slowly make daily dietary changes will keep you from feeling deprived and then later binging because you’ve restricted yourself so much.   A slow steady approach adding in new healthier choices, cutting back on not so healthy choices, learning to eat enough to satisfy your appetite, but not to much, as well as learning to eat when you’re truly hungry are all positive habits to building nutritional success.

Implementing these things gradually and consistently will take away the “all or nothing” approach, which will lead you to permanent and long term success.

Tell me… have you done that in your quest to lose weight or develop an exercise regime? Have you taken on an all or nothing approach? Did that work?

 

Snacks, Treats, And Weight Loss

snacks[1]

Peanut M&M’s. French fries. Homemade chocolate cake. BBQ potato chips. Homemade sugar cookies with powdered sugar frosting. Apple pie. Sweettarts.

Kinda sounds like a menu for PMS, doesn’t it ?

Actually, those are some of my most favorite treats.

I remember sharing in a Facebook post one time about my craving and subsequent consumption of some Peanut M&M’s and someone commented they were so happy I was “normal” and that I had shared that. Meaning I didn’t live off of a steady diet of nothing but veggies and nuts 😉

Yes, I’m a fit woman, and yes, I still enjoy treats.

I think that’s one of the things that’s really important when you start working on losing weight and getting into a healthier lifestyle… that you don’t set yourself up for deprivation and serious restriction from all things you love.

Now hold on… I’m not saying  freely indulge in treats whenever…it’s about learning  balance.

I think that’s what allowed me to be successful in my weight loss journey. Well, there’s a few things but this specific one we’re talking about today is treats.. things we love… and things by darn, we wanna have when the mood hits us.

As I developed my own plan to successfully lose weight one thing I mentally determined was that nothing was “forbidden”, “bad” or “off limits”.

Now you might be thinking… “whoa… like then you’d go off the deep end and eat everything!”

No. ‘Cause I’m not dumb.

But it did remove ( for me) all power of food. If nothing was forbidden, it had no tempting power. It knew all food was available (IF) I wanted something.

It was important to me that I could still enjoy celebrations and those things that make life…enjoyable. I wasn’t going to be one of those poor people at a family gathering looking miserable in a corner not having what everyone else was because I was “dieting”.

No way.

So I began my slow journey. Some nights, I desperately wanted something chocolate. I found a few Hershey Kisses, savored, met that need but didn’t sink the work of my day.

If there was a birthday party I allowed myself a small piece of cake. If I didn’t want the cake, I took some ice cream. Sometimes, a little of both.

If I wanted a burger and fries, I had them.

Mind you, this wasn’t often, but when I did want it I had it.

My mental mantra looking at foods, especially treats, was “does this support my health and fitness goals?”

I learned to find balance on my journey to get leaner.

I also learned to be super selective about what I would put in my mouth. As in… “Do I REALLY love this? Or is something that doesn’t do so much for me?”

Learning to really assess what’s important to you is a huge step to controlling the random “treats” you might consume.

For me it works like this…

Things I can pass up and/or don’t tempt me:

Store bought sheet cakes with that greasy frosting.

Pretty much any store bought cookie.

Cakes made with a mix.

Cokes.

Almost anything sold in a gas station.

Things that are totally worthy of eating:

My homemade three layer chocolate cake

Ice cream with nuts.

Amazing sugar cookies I make during the holidays that have  butter and cream cheese in the dough.

Homemade cinnamon rolls.

French fries.

Obviously, there are other things on both lists. What I want you to begin to do is really think about your own list of “things not worth eating” and “things worth eating”. When you begin to get really selective about what matters to you, and what doesn’t, you are making forward progress.

Not everything out there needs consumption. And really, if you totally don’t love it, why eat it ?  Don’t mindless shove whatever is around in your mouth… especially if it’s something not so important.

Those treats, whether they are things we eat or drink can wreak havoc on our attempts to lose weight.  Being aware is crucial to your success. It’s entirely easy to go through a day and think you really don’t have that many “extras”. But if you’re having trouble making the scale move, a serious assessment of those other foods will help see where the weak places are in your day and week.

Writing down all extra snacks and food will give a look at your snacking habits. This isn’t to beat you up or make you feel bad, but to help you gain awareness of where extra calories come in that are hindering your weight loss progress.

Have a handful of chips? Write it down. Glass of wine? Yep, write it down. A couple Reeses Peanut Butter cups? Creamer in your coffee? Sugar?

Write everything.

You’ve got it. No matter how big or small, write it down. Do it for 2 weeks. Be honest. This is all about awareness.

At the end you might be able to see habits or patterns you need to work on. Then, you can begin to also have your list of “worthy to eat snacks” and ” not so worthy to eat snacks”

Doing this, and getting real with yourself in this area will have positive long term benefits for your health and fitness journey.

And you’ll find you really can have your cake and eat it too 😉

Have you made intentional choices on being picky with your favorite snacks or treats? How has that effected your weight loss?

 

 

 

 

 

Tips For A Healthier You

weeks of fitness

Hello beautiful people of the world =)

As I shared in a previous post, I’m working with a client. A big part of what we’re doing is looking at habits and learning, or re-learning them some of them in regards to behaviors with eating and food.

She is learning the importance of getting meals at balanced times through the day, learning to listen to her body’s natural signals for being hungry ( as well as when it’s comfortably satisfied) avoiding snacking between meals, and focusing on more whole foods.

Whole foods meaning 5 ingredients or less or as close to their natural state as possible. We aren’t being crazy about it, just making it more of a focus.

These are all pretty big things to “re-learn” when you might not be used to eating normally or maybe just grabbing food randomly through the day.  Many people have forgotten or don’t listen to their bodies natural hunger and satisfied signals so these things have to be intentionally practiced.

This week we are taking a look at snacks or extra foods in our day that might be hindering weight loss. My client will be charting pretty much every bit of everything, including any drinks with sugar, alcohol, or anything with caloric value.

She wants to see the scale continue to drop and I want that for her too.

I have her also considering what she is eating at meals. Sometimes stopping with just a little left on your plate is enough to cause more calorie deficit in your day.

And of course, exercise. If you want to get rid of fat, cardio is your friend. Yeah, I know most people hate it.

You sweat. Your heart beats fast. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable. It’s the place you realize that you really are horribly out of shape… which is why it’s so easy to quit… ’cause you don’t like all that.

Don’t quit. Even if you have to work your way up till you can do a full 30 minutes to an hour… you’ll be getting stronger in the process.

Ok… so some tips or suggestions for you … they can be almost painless… and you can drop a few pounds in the process.

Practice eating balanced meals 3-4 times a day ( 4 if you’re more physically active or athletic) eat enough to comfortably satisfy your hunger.

Try not to snack between meals. (when you eat adequately at meals you will find the need to do that will diminish)

Learn to listen to your bodies natural hunger and satisfied signals. Allow yourself to become truly hungry 30 minutes  or so before your next meal.

Try to eat more whole foods ( meaning less stuff out of a box, bag etc)

Be aware of your snacking. To find weak places in your day/week be vigilant and write down everything so you can see where you’re hindering your progress.

Move your body more! Not only is it good for you physically, it’s good for your mental clarity as well.

Learning to listen to your own body and having awareness of how and what you eat are huge steps towards losing weight and getting into a lifestyle change 🙂

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