Sunday, January 26, 2014

Teach Me How To Be Fat

I've had the pleasure of attending webinars by  Bill O'Hanlon, a professional mental health counselor, who has presented some ideas I find applicable for my weight-loss clients. He treats patients with depression and shows them how they continue to keep themselves depressed by their actions: they isolate themselves, stay in bed, avoid exercise, ruminate, and basically perpetuate their depression by keeping themselves in it. While the advice for people suffering from depression includes getting some exercise, fresh air, and human contact, he uses a "reverse psychology" technique, asking them, "Teach me how to be depressed. You are so good at being depressed and knowing how to stay there--if I wanted to learn to be depressed, what would you tell me to do?". The patients can realize their predicament as they explain how to stay depressed, telling Bill to 'stay inside, don't answer your phone so you won't even speak to people who reach out to you, remain in your bed clothes for most of the day and don't brush your hair or do anything to improve your appearance'. The light bulb goes off over their head as they see how they've been feeding their depression, and see that if they do the opposite they may help themselves out of their situation.

He asks his patients who are overweight the same thing: Teach me how to be fat. 
So let me ask you: You're an expert--you've been overweight your whole life--if you wanted to explain to someone how they could stay heavy and not lose weight, what would you tell them?

You might say, "Take every opportunity to eat! Even if you aren't hungry, if someone has cookies or candy out, take advantage and eat it.
When there is food left, finish it. Even if you've had enough for dinner--even when you feel stuffed!--be sure to have the rest of the food so it won't go to waste.
Use high-calorie foods and cooking methods: Never bake or broil, but fry most of your food. And add butter or oil to everything you can.... potatoes, salad, bread, and even vegetables which are naturally low-calorie.

Before bed time when you're relaxing, don't let this time go by without something to eat! You shouldn't have any down time when it comes to ingesting calories. A nice bowl of ice cream or a piece of cake will help you settle down to sleep.
Never plan ahead when it comes to meals. If you bring your lunch to work it might be something portion-controlled or healthy. Wait until it's time to eat and then grab whatever is fast--it will usually be something from a fast-food restaurant and these are normally high-fat and high-calorie selections. They also don't have anything to choose from for side dishes except french fries or onion rings, so you'll be sure to get an extra 400-calorie item.
Don't cook at home! You can control your cooking methods and portion sizes when you do that. Eat all your meals in restaurants where they add lots of fat (read, calories!) to make the food taste extra rich and creamy. Always include a beverage like soda or punch that has extra sugar-laden calories, and be sure to order dessert and not to split anything with anyone! Eat it all yourself and clean your plate!

The other side of the equation is exercise, of course. Don't burn calories if you want to stay overweight! Never set foot in a gym. As a matter of fact, it helps not to even own a pair of comfortable shoes so you won't be tempted to walk very much.
Use elevators and escalators instead of stairs, even when going down. Park as close as you can to your destination. Some stores have those riding carts so you don't even have to walk and push a shopping cart!
And forget about doing anything remotely "sport-like". Don't ride a bike, play frisbee or catch with your kids, pick up a tennis racket or even go to a bowling alley.
Automate everything you can: Riding mowers, snow blowers, leaf blowers, heck--pay the neighbor kid to rake leaves so you don't have any more activity than just sitting if you can help it!

Of course, the list goes on. How do you stay fat? Keep doing things that increase your calorie intake and decrease any calorie output. Make a list; post some of your ideas here to share.
When you realize what you're doing that's keeping you overweight, you'll be able to target some changes to make to get the weight loss results you've been looking for!

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Let's make life harder" ... it might be good for you!

I love this guy, Dr. Mike Evans, and his entertaining YouTube videos showing us how moving a little more and sitting a little less can increase our health and fitness by leaps and bounds. He's an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael's Hospital.

Here, in his latest video, he talks about making life harder.  What does that mean? It refers to not making things as easy as possible. What have we come up with that makes life easier, and how can we get the 'work' back into our day? Walking mowers instead of riding ones; standing up to change the channel on the TV instead of using the remote; getting out of your car to close your garage door. Things we used to do when obesity was not a national epidemic! 

Advances of all sorts have made it easier to move less:  text someone rather than go down the hall; email instead of walking to the mailbox; see your messages, favorite shows, and reference ideas on your tablet instead of going to another desk or bookshelf. We basically don't stand up and take steps anymore.

Remember the ideal number of steps to shoot for daily is at least 10,000. This is about 5 miles of walking (whether it's done at once or in small increments) and can help you lose nearly a pound a week if you were previously barely moving. Try out a pedometer if you haven't before, and see how you can change your daily steps by taking the stairs, parking a little farther away, and not doing things that are automated during a typical day.

I'd love to hear what you found! Leave your comments.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Are You Confused by Nutrition Information?

Many people find themselves constantly baffled about what is considered "good for you" and how to compose a healthy diet. Part of the reason is that science is constantly providing new discoveries. To compound this issue is a more insidious one: Every time an article is published, someone grabs and runs with it, posting "dangers" or "must have's" across the internet and news stations. Every day you see some article announcing "the 5 foods you must eat every day" or "an element found in coconut water prevents cancer" or "a byproduct of diet soda causes cancer" or "orange juice linked to diabetes".

If you paid attention to all of these contradicting announcements you'd find little continuity as far as figuring out what to eat: in fact, there are probably numerous foods on both the "must have" lists as well as the "avoid this or die" lists.

So what's a person to do?
A news report citing one article is nothing to get alarmed about. For every study showing the ill-effects of too much fruit juice you can find several on the merits of a variety of fruits; for every claim of the downside of drinking milk you can find benefits of a healthy dose of calcium and vitamin D. And for every claim that organic is necessary you'll find evidence that the non-organic counterparts are no different.

Adequacy, balance, and variety still appear to be the keys to a healthy diet!
There is no one good food or bad food.
There is no one must-have or must-avoid.
The guidelines set forth by the USDA (my are still good guidelines, as are the recommendations of the American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society, The American Diabetes Association and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: eat a variety of foods; limit fats and sweets; get plenty of fiber from whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
None of these health organizations say nutrasweet causes cancer or you should be buying organic, or you must eat a tomato every day!

Here's an article by a reputable MD about the abundance of nutrition advisors who contribute to the confusion.
Feel free to post your comments or questions below and they will be addressed by a Registered Dietitian!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weight Loss is My New Year's Resolution... Again!

If you find that "lose weight" is your resolution New Year after New Year, it might bring some choice "F" words to mind because it's not working, right? I've come up with a list of  choice F words myself--'do's and 'don't's that will assure you stay on the right track first thing this year, and make sure next year allows you to come up with some really good resolutions that don't involve losing weight again!

Some things you need to do differently this year:

First, Don't be fooled by empty promises of "losing weight while you sleep" or "no diet or exercise needed!" If there were really a magic pill you could take and lose weight with zero effort, we wouldn't see any overweight people on the planet, would we?
Don't put yourself in a financial bind by desperately pouring money into a weight loss scheme that's expensive. It doesn't cost any more to eat healthy, when all you might actually have to do is stop buying soda, chips and sweets.

What you have to do will take some work:

Focus is of utmost importance. In order to start eating differently and being more active, a lifestyle change will have to be a priority in your life. It helps some people to make a list of the top five reasons you want to lose weight. If you can't think of that many, it's not going to be important enough to you to pass up on the snacks and desserts when a craving hits.

Form new habits: If you keep going on a diet--and then going off it when something upsets your normal schedule--it's time to think about making more permanent changes. Learn to incorporate healthy foods, smaller portions, pre-planned meals and more activity into your day. Don't worry about what you "can't" eat--instead, pay attention to things you can add to your diet that will be filling and satisfying. Drinking more water, eating more high fiber foods like fruits and vegetables, and finding more ways to be active during the day will keep your calorie intake lower and your calorie burn higher--this is the key to weight loss, after all.

Consider keeping a Food Diary. Simply writing down what you eat has been shown consistently over decades of research to promote weight loss. Of course, the way this works is by helping you think about what you eat, and often helping you realize you aren't really hungry whenyou impulsively reach for something. Writing down the 6000 calories you consume isn't magically going to lead to weight loss!

Set short term goals and rewards to keep feeling good about your accomplishments, no matter how small. If you started eating fruit or walking every day, these are habits to be rewarded, regardless of what the scale says today. Try to make it fun with games and contests, even if you're just playing against yourself. Check out my Healthy Eating Line-up game that plays like bingo: cover a square when you do something to be rewarded and try for a win every day!

Find a plan that's flexible. You should be able to exchange one food for another or one day for another. A diet that says, "this is your lunch on Thursday the 10th" doesn't allow for things that come up: what if you didn't get to the store yesterday or don't like beets?! Rigid diets are difficult to follow and just give another excuse to go off them when the going gets tough.

Finally, look for a plan you could potentially follow forever. Eating balanced meals, cooking at home more, incorporating activity into your day--these are actions that don't require going on and off a diet. If you learn to live healthier you'll naturally achieve a lower body weight and stay there.

Consider joining our Lifechanging! Weight Loss series of teleclasses. We'll follow along with the Beck Diet Solution workbook to learn new skills and techniques, support each other, and think thin. Call in once or twice a week from anywhere in the world, or participate on our chat board. Click here to register and get more information.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Surprising Small Changes Add Up Over Time

Earlier this week I was walking from my hospital job to my car, parked in a lot about 4 blocks away. It was a lovely day, and I was happily thinking about the extra 200 steps I was getting in! Recently the hospital had re-evaluated some of their contracts and decided to eliminate leasing the lot I had been parking in until last month. The lot I now park in is about a block further from the hospital than the other lot. A quick calculation had me figuring I was burning close to an extra 20 calories a day walking back and forth to work. Could this add up over time? It most certainly could. 

Take any example of a small, seemingly insignificant change in your work environment. Maybe you changed jobs and now park farther from your office than in your former job. Maybe your company moves to another floor in the building and you walk up 2 more flights each morning (and possibly each afternoon coming back from lunch). Perhaps there's a change in some email policy, or a restructuring of the chain of command that has you going just another 30 steps further back and forth to your boss's office several times a day. You may actually find yourself more fit over time, one day wondering how this miraculously happened.

The downside is the change occurring in the opposite direction. Beware!!

If you've had a change in the number of steps you take each day because of your office proximity to others or the number of flights of stairs you take, or the number of blocks you walk to and from the parking lot, this can really effect your weight over time. I can't tell you how many people call me out of desperation with a story like this: "I've gained 20 pounds over the past 2 or 3 years and I can't fit into my clothes anymore. I have no idea how this happened. Nothing has changed in my life, absolutely nothing!"

But who remembers that week in 2010 when the office moved to the first floor from the third (and you had been taking the stairs like a conscientious health-minded person)? It was just nice to be in that newly designed suite with modernized computers and beautiful carpet. You didn't miss taking those stairs ....

Who remembers that in 2009 there was a new parking lot constructed closer to your building? You may have been excited at the time, thinking "it's so long to those horrible rainy days when I'd be soaked on the way in from walking so far" but not noticed the number of steps you cut out of your typical work day....

How easy it is to forget that we moved to another part of the building in 2008, because nothing has changed (since then)!

Think hard: Have you made a minor change at work (or some other part of your daily routine) that could have eliminated 200 steps (about 10 calories) from your day? Pick a moment today while you're walking somewhere and count 200 steps--it's not much at all! Yet 10 calories a day works out to one pound of body fat a year (3650 calories). One pound of fat melted off, or one pound more stuck on!
Thirty calories a day is 3 pounds a year. Barely noticeable to anyone, since our weight fluctuates 2 or 3 pounds week to week anyway. After 3 years, though--9 pounds may be enough to notice your clothes are suddenly tight!

What's changed in your life that you didn't notice before?
How about sharing a change you can make that will help you lose weight over time? Make the commitment now and tell us about it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eat Or Be Thin: Must We Choose?

A dietitian posed a question on a professional chat board the other day. It went something like this:

 "If you had to choose between eating what you like and being overweight, or giving up foods you like to stay at your ideal weight, which would you choose?"

She was looking to start a fun and interesting back-and-forth between people who said things like

"I would never give up my wine and my cheesecake no matter what--even if I was 100 pounds overweight I wouldn't be as miserable as if I had to give up the foods I love"
or people who said,
 "I would give up everything but water if I had to in order to stay at my ideal weight. Food is never as important as looking and feeling my best 24/7".

But those responses never came.
Because the chat board was for dietitians.

So the responses came in (including my own) like this:

"People don't have to choose one or the other. They can eat foods they like in moderation, and add in a little more exercise when they take in more calories" 
"No one has to give up all their favorite foods forever; it's a matter of limiting them to occasion, planning ahead, and eating more carefully in the days that follow indulgences"
"This is a choice I make each day: some days it's most important to me to eat healthy, exercise enough, and know I'm maintaining my best. Other days it's about a little bit of slack; having dessert or skipping a work out -- and knowing if I don't work a bit harder tomorrow my pants might not button at the end of the week!"

The woman who posed the question made another entry. She expressed her disappointment in us for not having fun with the questions; for making comments that were essentially what she called "slogans we learned in school".

But the fact is, no one has to choose one of these sides and live with it forever.
Many people feel they do have to, and that is so sabotaging to their health, their weight, their diet, and their attitude.
Because they choose to eat with abandon, feeling no other options are available; they feel guilty every time they eat a "bad" food; they feel discouraged every time they get on the scale; they feel out of control when their clothing gets snug; and they feel a sense of failure with the whole cycle.

No one has to make the choice of either/or, all or nothing, fat or hungry, healthy or happy.
And that is one lesson we, as dietitians, are still trying to teach everyone who struggles with their weight.

Now, you know there are three choices: Which do you choose?

(1) Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, never exercise and be overweight and possibly unhealthy

(2) Exercise often, restrict what you eat constantly, avoid any of your favorite indulgences for the rest of your life and maintain an ideal weight

(3) Limit your treats to 4 or 5 a week, eat reasonable portion sizes, exercise 3 to 4 times a week, and be happy, healthy and at a comfortable and pleasing weight


Saturday, September 8, 2012

How to Lose (or Gain) 70 Pounds in One Year

This afternoon I was driving home from visiting my brother who lives less than 2 hours away. As I pulled into a gas station to fill up my car, the passenger with me (who shall remain nameless) dashed into the gas-mart for a snack. The first thing I noticed as we pulled back onto the road was, of course, the caloric content of the purchases. Now it seems they are putting calories in even larger print on labels (which I think is a good thing). Here is a closer view:
As you can see, there are 260 calories in the lemonade, and 240 calories in the M&M's. If you look even more closely, you'll see underneath the 240 calorie label "per serving" on the M&M bag that there are 2 servings inside! 
Consuming this little snack on the way home costs 740 calories.  *Gulp*

A little snack.
One which, over time, adds up.
Ten days of this and you've gained 2 pounds. Literally.

Wake up and look at your labels people! Back away from the candy bars! Drop the soda and run! Take the time to think before making a snap decision like picking up something that looks yummy.

Because the good news is, if you can figure out what you're eating which, like this example, is dumping hundreds of extra calories into your body every day, you can LOSE 2 pounds every 10 days. 

What's packing the weight on you:
Large order of fries? 
Coffee drink (with cream, flavored syrup and whipped cream)?
Little pint of Haagen-Dazs? (hint: that is 4 servings!)
Second helpings at dinner?
Appetizers at the restaurant?

The list goes on and on.

Enjoy a good breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snack. Have a Skinny Cow ice cream treat for less than 140 calories, a 100-calorie bag of kettle corn, a smoothie with fruit and yogurt.
There are plenty of satisfying treats that taste good that don't cost you another pound this week!

Start reading your food labels and replacing 250+ calorie foods with 100-calorie alternatives.
Even just some of the time.
And write me next year when you've lost 50 or 60 pounds :)