Monday, December 28, 2009

Stick To Your Guns - Make Your Resolutions Happen

How many times have you made the same New Year's resolution to lose weight and get into shape? And how many times have you watched your resolve and commitment evaporate by the end of January?

This year consider a new plan of action:
1. First and foremost ask yourself, "What do I really want to accomplish and is it realistic?" Yes it is possible to lose 100 lbs, lower your cholesterol, and find serenity all in one year but will that make you look like Angelina or Brad? Are you willing to work hard even though in the end you will still be just you?

2. What are you willing to do to achieve your goals? In the beginning you may think you will jump through any hoop to get what you want, but is your action plan sustainable?

3. Are you willing to be patient? Can you accept a pound a week weight loss? Can you handle weight fluctuations? Can you wait 10 months to lose 40 pounds? Can you start thinking "health" instead of "weight"?

Resolutions are just the beginning. They give you an idea of what you want. But to arrive at your destination it takes more than an idea. It takes ACTION. Your action plan is the road map and following the map is the key to success.

#1 Soul Search
Soul searching is important because in order to be successful you have to buy into your new belief system. You have to believe that the program or "structure" you set up is going to work. You have to believe that your program will allow you to successfully change the habits that have not worked for you in the past. You have to believe you can do this even after a bad day or two or three...or week....or month.

Are you prepared to have what you want? Are you really ready to do what it takes to lose weight? Will you be able to let go of using your weight as an excuse for not doing things? You need to ask the hard questions and then listen to your inner voice. If the inner voice (you) gives you grief, ask yourself again, what do I really want? Are you ready to take this on?

#2 Make a Sustainable Plan
Once you make the decision about what you want to accomplish, you have to explore the reality of making it happen. Remember we are not after perfection, but rather sustainability. You don't have to get it right all the time; you just have to do enough to see results. The key is to keep on going even when you blow it and have a bad day or week. Remember, once you stop you are out of the game, and when you are out of the game there can be no progress. So getting back to the plan as soon as possible is the key to success and paramount to achieving your goals.

Let's start with exercise. We know unequivocally that physical activity is one of the most important keys to long term weight maintenance. That means you have to find something you like or are willing to do at least four to five times a week. (The idea is to put into place enough healthy habits so you do not have to revisit the weight loss again.) Choose from yoga, weight training, walking, running, spinning, Pilates, or even the big game in tennis. The possibilities are endless. Find a good gym or health club with lots of options and/or enlist the help of a personal trainer. Exercise builds endorphins, fights depression, speeds up your metabolism, and is the key to longevity. Plus it takes on a life of its own and spurs you on to keep repeating the behavior. It is a gift that keeps on giving!

Next find a registered dietitian/nutritionist who can help you design a healthy eating plan. Remember it takes time to change life-long food habits. My successful weight loss and weight maintenance clients are those that no longer approach weight loss as a diet. Together we create a sustainable program where there is no demarcation between being on or off a diet. You are learning new strategies and constantly adjusting what works for you. You begin to find balance. Food is your friend and has the power to keep you full, healthy, and satisfied.

#3 Have Patience
One of the first things my clients want to know is how many pounds they will lose each week. They cannot get the weight off fast enough! The key is patience. You have to lose weight the same way you will maintain weight otherwise you will be at a loss (no pun intended) when the "diet" is over. Focus on the behaviors instead of the weight. When you lose weight slowly, you decrease the chances of revisiting the weight gain and making the same old resolutions next year.

If you stick to your guns now and enlist the help of a registered dietitian/nutritionist and exercise professional your chances of success are almost guaranteed. So strap on your holster and get ready for a showdown (with yourself.)

Happy and Healthy New Year to All,


Monday, December 14, 2009

Life is Short - Eat Some Chocolate

Some recent tragic, unexpected deaths have left the Health Nut feeling philosophic. Life's transiency is on my mind. The temporary nature of it all makes me realize how important it is to live for today yet still have an eye towards the future (just in case we make it until a ripe old age.)

Before I continue, I just need to say that my heart goes out to all my friends and their families who have been devastated by the recent loss of loved ones. May their memories give you strength and sustain you through these difficult times.

Death makes me question life. After I ask, "What's the point if in the end we are lying with our friends sleeping in the dust?" I am most often filled with a reaffirmation and a commitment to make each day the best it can be. For me that means to love my family and friends, do what I am willing to do to repair the world, and stay true to my beliefs.

Which leads me to why I still think it is worth it, even in the face of our eventual extinction, to eat well. I believe that eating well makes each day better because we are functioning at a level that allow us the energy to be our best and tackle what is our chosen earthly mission. Plus eating low on the food chain and more plant based is good for the planet.

Hopefully if we take care of ourselves on a daily basis, we will be more independent and less of a burden on our families as we age. Plus I want to be kicking up my heels and howling at the moon as long as possible and that requires being steady on my feet and having my faculties.

Will I regret not eating French fries, sometimes avoiding Godiva chocolate, or drinking less red wine when my final moments come? Maybe. But I strive while I am here to strike a balance between indulgence and sensibility where I can literally "have my cake and eat it too."

I think you only have to do enough of the right things to create homeostasis or equilibrium where your body, mind, and spirit all function in harmony. A bit of nourishment on all levels creates balance. For each person it will be a different mixture. And just like junk food binges, we all have moments or months or even years of being out of whack. Life is for figuring it all out.

So for this Health Nut, being a little less spontaneous and more focused on healthy eating actually allows me more spontaneity in other areas my life because I have the energy and desire to be ready for what comes my way. Does that make sense? Maybe about as much as one day we won't be around.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Training to Eat for the Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching. This festive time of year is filled with good fellowship, food, and fun...and lots of calories and overindulgence leading to weight gain and then to weight loss resolutions. How can we make this year different?

If you put some simple practices into play now, you can avoid that beginning of the year regret.

Tip One: Make awareness part of the holiday spirit. Ask yourself, "Where do I want my weight to be on January 2nd?" Jot the answer down on a piece of paper and post it where you can see it every day. For example, "I want to weight 135 on January 2nd." Now don't lose sight of that goal.

Tip Two: Set into motion actions that will lead to achieving your goal. For instance, continue your exercise program. If you don't have one, now is the time to start. Don't wait until the first of the year to begin. Exercise is a great calorie burner. Exercise also increases endorphins which promote a sense of well-being, something you will need lots of at this stressful time of year.

Tip Three: Set a carbohydrate limit for the day. Allow yourself a daily total of four to six carbohydrate servings. Since there will be sweets and alcohol everywhere, plan to make your meals lighter in carbohydrates. Here are some examples of one carbohydrate serving:

One slice of bread, one roll, one corn tortilla
10 tortilla chips
8 stick pretzels
One alcoholic drink (no matter what type)
3 Hershey kisses
1/4 of a medium order of French fries

Keep a food log. This helps you know how many carbs you have eaten and how many you have left. One plan is to limit carbs during the week and fill up on salads, fresh veggies, and lean protein with limited amounts of whole grains and healthy fats. Use two servings of fruit to satisfy sweet cravings.

Here is a sample menu:

Egg while omelet with spinach and Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese, topped with salsa and sliced avocado
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal or whole grain cereal with sliced fruit and almond milk plus 1 t. ground flax seed
2 slices (40 calories each) whole grain bread with 1 T. natural peanut, almond or cashew butter with Polaner All-Fruit
*Coffee or Skinny latte

Large salad with lean protein - grilled chicken, low fat cheese, shrimp, salmon, tofu. Add sliced avocado or dry roasted or raw nuts
Vinaigrette dressing (preferably made with olive oil)
Fresh veggies with 1/3 cup hummus plus 5 Triscuits or 20 Wheat Thins
If you did not have any carbs at breakfast (oatmeal, cereal, toast) sandwich on one slice whole wheat bread with nitrite-free turkey with olive oil mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle
(If non meat eater, avocado and Cabot 75% reduced fat cheese)
Chipotle bowl with chicken, 1/2 spoonful of beans, no rice, salsas but no corn salsa, grilled onions and peppers, no sour cream, lettuce and pay extra for some guacamole

Fresh salad with vinaigrette, lean protein of your choice (chicken, fish, tofu, low fat cheese), and steamed or roasted veggies (non starchy)
1/2 cup rice with roasted veggies and salad
1/2 cup of whole grain pasta with red sauce or garlic and olive oil, steamed veggies and salad

Use your two servings of fruit. Add 12 raw almonds or cashews or 1 T. natural nut butter with each fruit serving.
*Coffee is a calorie free food but can lead to hunger pangs, so limit intake.

Tip Four: Have a plan before you attend a party because once you get there good intentions can quickly fly out the window. Alcohol besides adding calories diminishes your ability to stay focused on your food goals. Set a number of drinks for the night and stick with it.

You never want to go to a party hungry. Telling yourself you won't eat all day so it is okay to indulge at the party is a formula for disaster. At the party avoid fried foods, any appetizer that sits on bread, creamy dips, and limit sweets and alcohol. That leaves veggies and protein. Save the carbs for your set amount of alcohol or a bite or two of something incredible.

Or you can always cast your fate to the wind and come the New Year begin yet again!

For more articles and resources about how to "Train to Eat for the Holidays" visit Washington Family Magazine at