Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make Your New Year Resolutions Stick This Year!

The first month of the new year makes us feel full of so many possibilities, and at this time of the year we are so gung ho to begin anew, making the best and biggest changes possible. Now find out how the way you state your resolutions can mean the difference between following through, or tossing them out the window after just a few days.

Think about some of the most common resolutions you hear: "I'm going to lose weight"; "I'm going to exercise more"; or "I'm going to eat more healthy". The problem with each of these is that they are too general. They don't give you any direction or any solid steps to follow. So after a few weeks when your excited phase starts wearing out and the gym becomes boring, you just let the good intentions drop away until, say, bathing suit season.

What can you do to turn these good ideas into good habits? Decide on what steps you can take to incorporate healthier eating and exercise habits into your life. Here are a few examples of how to re-word some new year's resolutions so you will find them easier to stick with:

1. I'm going to lose weight: Decide what steps you can take to make this happen. What can you incorporate into your daily routine to result in a decrease in calorie intake? How about, "I'm going to have fruit or sorbet after dinner instead of cookies or ice cream", or "I'm going to start keeping a food journal and set a goal of eating only when I am hungry or really want a certain treat once a week". These are behaviors you can perform, without watching the days go by with the scale not budging.

2. I'm going to exercise more. How are you going to be sure you actually follow through with this resolution? Some people work better with a schedule, or with an exercise buddy. "I'm going to find a class I like at the gym and find a buddy to join me so I'm sure to keep my appointed time on three days each week", or "I'm going to go for a 30 minute walk after dinner four nights a week" holds you accountable to a friend and to a schedule. It's a very concrete way of including exercise into your regular routine and you can keep this up literally for the rest of your life!

3. I'm going to eat more healthy. This statement is far too general. What does "healthy" mean to you? Will you stop eating processed foods? If you stop for fast food one day will you believe you've blown the whole 'healthy' resolution and pounce on a new reason to give up right away and pig out? "I'm going to make sure I eat at least three fruits and three vegetables each day", or "I'm going to avoid foods that contain more than 30% of the calories from fat" will direct you to a concrete action you can take. If you miss a vegetable one day, you can easily start over the next, knowing that you are doing better this year than you were last year.

Plan on some specifics that help you define what you really mean by "healthy" or "weight loss" or "more exercise", and give yourself the steps you can take to start those new habits. You'll be on your way to becoming a healthier you in 2009!

Friday, December 19, 2008

All About Truvia; the natural sweetener

A plant by the name of Stevia has been getting a lot of attention recently. It seems promising as a new generation of no-calorie sweetener: Great news for people watching their waistline as well as people with diabetes who limit their intake of sugar. One company, Cargill, manufactures a product made from Stevia under the brand name, Truvia. Here's the scoop:
Truvia is a combination of the compounds Rebiana and Erythritol. The first of these comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. The companies that manufacture it (Cargill and Coca-Cola) report it "only consists of the best-tasting components of the stevia leaf". The sweet leaf of the stevia plant is dried, steeped in water, and further purified to provide a calorie-free sweet taste.
The second compound, erythritol, is a sugar alcohol which acts as the carrier for truvia. It is a sugar alcohol with a digestive pathway that results in very little of it remaining in the large intestine (as happens with some other sugar alcohols), reducing the likelihood of gas or bloating.
The Truvia product has been studied and found not to contribute calories, or to affect blood sugar of people with type 2 diabetes. It has also has claims of "no aftertaste", even though many products containing Stevia do have a lingering aftertaste for many people.
Coca Cola is ready to release some beverages containing Truvia, even while the compound is pending FDA approval. Cargill and The Coca-Cola company are working together to bring rebiana to consumers around the world as an ingredient in a variety of foods and beverages. Look for it on grocery store shelves real soon!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Portion Control Tips From a Successful Client

I was speaking to one of my clients the other day and she has progressed so far with the changes in her eating habits since we first met in September. I wanted to pass along some of the tips that have worked for her because she is losing weight and feeling great, so I thought these ideas would work for someone else out there!

1) The first change Lucy made was to use smaller plates in her home at dinner time. Many have extremely large dinner plates that can easily measure nearly a foot in diameter. At the time I suggested she change to smaller plates, she hesitated and said to me, "but I only put food in the middle part--not all the way out to the edges". Then she realized how much plate was still being filled as she compared the size of her usual serving plates to the smaller 'salad' plates. "I'll try using these and see how it goes," Lucy agreed. And ever since then she has been dining with the smaller ones, feeling satisfied and not stuffed.

2) The other trick Lucy tried for dinner meals was to reduce the amount of food she was cooking. "It's just me and my husband for dinner, but sometimes we cook enough for four or six people--then we just keep taking more helpings because the food is in front of us." Now she and her husband start with just enough food for two, and they both get just enough and never overeat at dinner.

3) When dining out, Lucy and her husband share a main entree with an additional order of a side salad. Or sometimes they'll each get an appetizer instead of a full meal. "They really give you so much food when you eat out, if you don't stay aware of how much you're putting away, it can be gone before you remember to ask for a take-out container!"

4) At the recent buffets Lucy has been going to around the holidays, she's come up with a couple of tips of her own that she shared with me: "Since I can't get a smaller plate wherever I go, I just leave more plate showing than I have covered!" What a great idea that is: Instead of saying to herself, "I'm at someone else's house now so I'll just fill up my plate like all the other guests," Lucy remains aware of eating reasonable portion sizes to help continue her weight loss and meet her goals. She makes sure there is plenty of space on the plate because that means it's not overflowing with food--translation--calories!

5) And the last tip she shared with me was another useful one when going through buffet lines: "I just take one spoonful of each item on the line--a spoonful of turkey, a spoonful of mashed potatoes, a spoonful of sweet potatoes, and so on. I'm not missing out on anything and it's plenty of food by the time I reach the end of the line. It's just so easy to take too much. Reminding myself to stick to one spoonful of each food works out just perfectly."

Thanks to Lucy for all the great tips, and congratulations on the 15 pounds you've shed so far!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Eating For Your Eye Color

Undoubtedly you’ve heard of the popular book, “The Blood Type Diet”. In fact, blood types are identified in case you need to receive blood one day to prevent you from having a serious reaction.
There is absolutely no significance as related to your diet, your food tolerances, allergies, or reactions to food! The fact that someone wrote a book called “Eating for Your Blood Type” is akin to writing a book called, “Eating for your Eye Color”. So, I will tell you now how to best eat for your eye color to help you lose weight:

There are groups of people who have blue eyes, others who have brown eyes and some who have green. If both of your parents have blue eyes, so will you--just as if both of your parents have type O blood, you will. Therefore, these characteristics can be seen among others in your family—just go ahead and ask them!
Okay, so first of all, any of you who have blue eyes, listen up! You have light colored eyes and you really like snacks; especially those high in carbohydrates. Am I right? You enjoy having a donut or coffee cake late in the morning. It acts as a real pick-me-up to keep you going until lunch time, and of course, donuts taste so good to you (because your eyes are blue!) You love having some chips or cookies in the afternoon from the vending machine. You just get a craving for something sweet or salty a couple of hours after lunch, and that little munchable treat satisfies you until dinner time. Finally, you often crave something to snack on in the evening while you are watching television. How do I know this? Your eyes are blue! Mine are too. I like to snack.
How can we lose weight? Here’s how: find a lower calorie substitute for the snacks you are presently consuming. There are fantastic 100 calorie snack bags so you can have a hostess mini-cake package late morning, some wheat thins or cheese nips in the afternoon, and a skinny cow ice cream bar in the evening. Yes, even though you have blue eyes and you like to snack, you can still lose weight --just get your snacking under control.

Now for those of you with brown eyes: you like sweets, especially chocolate. And you like peanut butter. Of course you do; I know that because your eyes are brown. I have friends with brown eyes—they like chocolate and peanut butter. So, you like to eat peanut M & M’s, snickers candy bars, chocolate ice cream with nuts in it, and other treats that have a lot of calories. This makes you gain weight. You gain weight when you eat chocolate and peanut butter because your eyes are brown! And because these are very high calorie foods. What can you do about it?

First of all, realize that liking chocolate or peanut butter is not really a physiological craving. You do not need chocolate. You just like it because it tastes good. So you need to know that if you can wait until the craving passes and not wolf down a king-sized Snickers bar or double Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, you will be okay. For every 300 calories you can pass up (check the labels on those candy bars), you’ll lose three more pounds by the end of the month. This could be nine pounds a month if you’re indulging three times a day!

If you still want the taste (of course you do!) then learn to control the portions. Again, many of the 100 calorie snack bags are foods you would enjoy; chocolate covered pretzels, nutter-butter cookie crisps, and chocolate chip cookies. There are lower calorie brands of ice cream and you need to measure out a ½ cup portion when you eat it, instead of scooping ice cream into the bowl until it’s full (yes, I know that’s what you do, because your eyes are brown).

And, finally, we get to the smaller percentage of the population—those with pretty, green eyes. Unfortunately, you are predisposed to a taste for foods that have fat in them! This is unfortunate because fats have twice the calories of carbohydrates. You like donuts, potato chips, cakes, and pie. Cookies, brownies, and ice cream are also sources of fat, as well as sour cream, butter, and salad dressing. You have green eyes, so I know you are not someone who likes a dry baked potato or an undressed salad. You usually order French fries or a milkshake when you go out for fast food.

What can you do to get that weight off? Start limiting your portions of these foods. Write down everything you eat for a week. See how many times each day, on average, you indulge in one of these high fat foods. Now make the decision to reduce this to only one time a day, at most. If you have a donut, you do not also get a milkshake later that day; if you get fried fish you do not also have French fries; if you have pie after lunch you do not also get ice cream after dinner. You have green eyes: you need to find other ways to treat yourself during the day besides eating these high-fat foods!

To everyone with colored eyes, best of luck with your weight loss efforts! I’m confident you will be able to lose weight after you choose lower calorie snacks, reduce your portion sizes, decrease the calories consumed from treats, and find other ways to de-stress besides eating high-calorie foods.
I must add here, that this is a spoof, just in case someone believes these tips are true. The good news is these tips actually will work for you no matter what your eye color!
Have I gone too far? Let me know!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Blood Type Diet

I have seen more hype recently about this diet than the year the book was published. It's still a load of absolute hogwash, and I came across this fantastic and scientific review of why it makes no sense at all to "eat for your blood type". This manuscript is a bit lengthy, and the author is clearly biased against people eating meat, but other than that it is the best evidence I've seen to explain how incorrect the basis is for the blood type diet!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fat Blasting Boot Camp at Home!

Today I want to tell you about an exercise program developed by a colleague of mine, Angie Schumacher. I'm no exercise expert, but she is! And she has developed this program for you to use at home to work your body into a fine specimen. Here's more:

The Fat Blasting Boot Camp Program was designed by Angie Schumacher, a Certified Personal Trainer, for her boot camp class in Colorado. She wanted to ensure that her members received a total body workout in just 30 minutes-3 times a week.

With the Fat Blasting Boot Camp Program, you will start out with 2 weeks of "Get Started" workouts that will get your body ready for the upcoming 12 weeks of workouts. Each workout is linked to a video demonstration that will show you how to correctly do each exercise.

The Fat Blasting Boot Camp Program consists of 3 circuits—Strength, Cardio and Core. You begin with the strength training, which includes 4 exercises that will hit every muscle in your body. This will sculpt and tone your upper and lower body and elevate your heart rate, making sure you are burning tons of calories. The cardio training consists of 3 exercises that elevate your heart rate and boost your metabolism to ensure maximum fat burning. You then finish off with core training, which incorporates 3 exercises that will hit every inch of your abs, creating lean, sexy abs. After each workout, your body will continue to burn calories for the next few hours! No matter what fitness level you are at, all the workouts are easily suitable to meet your needs.

Not only do you get the most amazing and effective fat burning workouts, you will also receive Fat Blasting Meal Plan Ideas, which help you to plan your meals and help you achieve maximum results with this program. A copy of simple, Energy Producing Recipes that Angie has used over the years, will also be included. Lastly, you will get a private invitation to the FREE Fat Blasting Boot Camp forums where you can ask questions about the program, blog about your experience, chat with other women who are using the Fat Blasting Program and receive one on one attention from Angie Schumacher.

Why is this program different from the others? This is a program that can be used right in the comfort of your own home, with little to no equipment! No universal gym machines, cardio machines or gym membership is needed. What you WILL need is a medicine ball OR dumbbells OR a kettlebell , stability ball, a chair or a step. That’s it!
No need to spend tons of money on diet pills or diet programs or to be confused over all the contradicting information about fitness and weight loss, the Fat Blasting Boot Camp Program is your answer!

The Fat Blasting Boot Camp Program is backed by a 8-week money back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied, you will receive your money back, no "ifs," "ands," or "buts." So you really have nothing to lose.

Click here to order. Let us know how you're doing each week!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Favorite New Products

One of my very favorite snacks just came out in 100 calorie bags! Sold in a box of 5 packs, they are only slightly smaller than the vending-machine sized pouches. Same great tasting cheesy popcorn in just the right serving size! You just stop when the bag is empty and you've had a hundred calories. Cheesy, and easy--hard to beat.

Celestial Seasonings has brought out their holiday line of teas. Yum! My new favorite is gingerbread spice. I also have SugarPlum spice and plan to go back for egg nog and others. The egg nog package suggested pouring a little milk in with it. I tried that with the gingerbread spice this morning and it is really delicious.

Let me know what your low calorie favorite foods are and we can post them here to share with others :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hot Cocoa Recipe to warm you up!

I just got in from out of the snow (brrr!) and decided to try a new hot cocoa recipe a friend passed along the other day. She used a blender but I did it in my magic bullet and that worked out just great. Here it is:
Mix 1/3 cup non-fat dry milk and 1 Tbsp cocoa with 1 Tbsp sugar (or no-calorie sugar substitute if you prefer) and a dash of vanilla or almond extract. Pour in 1 cup of very hot water and blend for 15-20 seconds. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Enjoy the foamy hot treat knowing I did a nutritional breakdown for you :)
The non-fat dry milk provides 80 calories, the cocoa has 20 calories, and a tablespoon of sugar has 45 (Equal, Splenda, or Sweet-n-Low will give you less than 5 calories.) That's 100-145 calories for the final product, and it includes at least 25% of the daily value for calcium, Vitamin D, and riboflavin from the milk! Not bad for a mid-morning snack to warm you up.
Let me know how you like it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What is Fattening?

You hear people say, "I can't have that, it's fattening" all the time. What does fattening really mean? Presumably it means that the food you are eyeing is likely to add fat to your body. But how do people define 'fattening'? Is it a certain number of calories? A certain amount of fat?

Just about any food can provide you with an excess of calories if you eat too much of it. Likewise, there may be a very calorie-dense food (like chocolate cake or pecan pie) that won't really add on the pounds if you choose to consume a small portion of it.

I'd like to challenge you to re-define your use of the word. Think about foods in terms of portion sizes. Realize that apples may be fattening if you eat 10 of them at one time (total calories: 600), and a three-musketeers bar is not fattening if you have one fun sized bar (total calories: 60).

There are virtually no foods prohibited from a weight loss diet when consumed in moderation. Find out which of the foods you regularly eat are very high in calories (butter, salad dressing, ice cream) and reduce your portions of them or find lower calorie alternatives (spray butter; low-fat or low-calorie dressings; ice milk or low-fat ice cream). Fill up on the low calorie foods that you enjoy (carrots, watermelon, rice cakes, low-fat yogurt) to satisfy your hunger. Remember that foods themselves are not fattening, but rather it is how much you eat of them that makes them higher in calories.

What can you eat a smaller portion of this week to save on calories? Let us know!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Tips on Weight Loss During the Holidays

Have I told you all about the website It's a place you can go to log your food and exercise online, and you know by now what a big fan I am of food and exercise diaries! The site tracks your calories for you, provides a printable meal plan for each day based on the calorie level suitable for your weight goal, and sends you helpful tips every day. There are blogs to read--and you can write your own--and forums to browse and add your comments. You can join with others as individual friends, or join some of the groups that are already there to welcome you. Here's a very timely article that was in my mailbox today... I couldn't have said it better myself!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hydration is Important in Cold Weather, Too!

Now that cold weather is upon us in many areas of the US, it's still just as important to stay well-hydrated. We can lose water from our bodies without noticing, particularly when we aren't sweating as much. So what are some good ways to keep the fluids coming in if you aren't crazy about drinking eight glasses of water a day?

1) Soup can make a nice and filling lunch, but there are also versions that make good snacks. Remember "cup-a-soup"? You can boil a cup of water and have some hot chicken noodle soup in just about one minute as an afternoon pick-me-up. Some of these are a bit salty. So to be most effective (and not make me thirstier later on) I hold back some of the seasoning powder--which contains most of the sodium--and just use about half of it along with all of the noodles.

2) Like the warmth of coffee but not caffeine? The sweetness of the frothy cappucino from the vending machine but not the calories? Remember decaffeinated coffee provides no caffeine and no calories, but still gives you a source of fluid. It can count as one of your glasses of water and also warm you in the wintry weather.

3) Hot tea. What a variety there is available today: It's not just plain tea anymore but hundreds (literally hundreds!) of flavors. Many come in individually wrapped packages so they're easy to carry with you and you can have a cup wherever hot water is available. Still no calories; still counts as a cup of water. My favorites: Constant Comment (a spiced orange flavor), Jasmine, Rose, Cinnamon Apple, and Caramel. You can also find mint flavors, berry flavors, lemon, even licorice!

4) Flavor your water. Just because it's cooler this time of year doesn't mean you wouldn't like a cool glass of water once in a while. If you find it too boring or tasteless, just add some flavor. Squeeze in a bit of lemon or orange; add an ounce or two of fruit juice to sweeten it, adding only 20 calories added; or use one of the zero-calorie powdered drink mixes. It all still counts towards your recommended eight glasses of water.

Wherever did the "Eight Glasses" requirement come from? The medically suggested need for appropriate hydration is based on one's size and calorie intake. In scientific language, a person is estimated to need one cc (or one milliliter) of water for each calorie they consume. An average calorie intake is 2000 (that's the level on which the daily values are based on food labels). When translating the metric 2000 milliliters to ounces, you get 66 ounces, or just over eight cups of water! So if you take in 2000 calories a day you need about eight, 8-oz cups of water. If you are larger and consume more calories and are more active you will need to adjust upwards. Likewise, if you are a smaller person and consume fewer calories you might be fine drinking just six glasses of fluid each day. Any extra you take in is easily excreted by your kidneys so unless your doctor has suggested otherwise, eight glasses is fine for everyone.

Got any great ideas for tasty hydration? Let us hear them--leave your comments here!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How To Relax on Thanksgiving Day (even if you're the hostess)

Holidays can be so stressful. Especially if you are hosting company, cooking the meals, arranging for everyone to be comfortable, and feeling like you need to do all the entertaining. Here are a few tips to help yourself relax a little and let yourself enjoy the special day, too!

1. You don't have to do everything yourself. It's okay to ask people who are coming over to bring a dish! Some may even like to come early and help out with the cooking. If you can get someone else to handle the appetizers or the drinks or the desserts, that's one less thing you have to worry about.

2. Ask your company to keep the area neat. Having the kids who are over keep their toys or jackets or boots all in one set location will keep your living area clean for everyone to enjoy. If there's a designated area for luggage, laundry--whatever tends to pile up in the way--will keep your house appearing more organized and keep you more relaxed.

3. Enlist help. Try asking for help. You'll probably be surprised at the positive response! Many times people would like to help you but don't know what you need. So asking someone to carry a tray of food into the dining room, having a few people help bring the dirty dishes into the kitchen, asking your family to help wash dishes while you prepare dessert, or hiring help for the occasion can all be a great relief for you.

4. Take Shortcuts. Get wild and crazy with these ideas: use disposable dishes and flatware; use paper napkins; buy the desserts instead of baking them. Go out on a limb and figure out how you can save precious time to spend with your company instead of cooking and cleaning for them!

5. Remember the meaning of the holiday. Remember that people aren't really coming over to eat delicious food off of fancy china and be served homemade pumpkin pie. People are all coming together to see each other and the eating is just the icing on the cake. Let some things go. Do what's important. And remember the famous words of Dr Seuss, "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter".

Make it a great one :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Impossible Pumpkin Pie

I'm trying something new here today, so let me know what you think! Today I'm posting a recipe I love because it's so easy and so timely.
This "Impossible Pumpkin Pie" gets its name from the fact that the crust part is made simply by mixing the ingredients all together and letting the layers fall naturally into place as it bakes. This picture was not taken by me, personally, but is an accurate representation of what the final product looks like. So here it is:
Impossible Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients: 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
2 tbsp. butter
13 oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
16 oz. can pumpkin
2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. vanilla
To reduce fat and calories, I substitute a lower calorie spread for the butter, and a fat free evaporated milk. Egg beaters can be used in place of the eggs (use 1/2 cup of egg substitute).
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pie plate.
Beat all ingredients until smooth; 1 minute in blender on high or 2 minutes with hand beater. Pour into plate. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.
That's it! Impossibly simple, and I can tell you it's delicious :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plan Ahead for Thanksgiving Mealtime

With Thanksgiving upon us, thoughts of huge and bountiful dinners come to mind. Many of us will be indulging in all-you-can-eat buffets, hosting meals for friends and relatives, or visiting other's homes to eat with them. I even know a few people who are attending more than one gathering for a celebration meal that day (one at her family's at 2 pm and then to his family's home at 6 pm). I get stuffed just thinking about it!Planning ahead is your best weapon to doing the right thing this Thursday. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Decide ahead of time what you will eat and how much. A fantastic guideline is to fill your plate 1/2 with vegetables, 1/4 with turkey, and 1/4 with starches.

2. If there are appetizers, focus on the raw veggies and stay away from cheeses, crackers, and dips. Fill yourself up with the high fiber, nutrition packed snacks.

3. Choose a little bit of everything you like to put on your plate once. No returning for seconds! Remember you do have to save room for dessert :)

4. Try to get slivers of dessert: a very small slice of pumpkin pie and a very small slice of pecan if you're having both. You can taste just about everything and savor the flavor. Just don't pile your plate with the high calorie sweets, and you'll thank yourself later.

Thanksgiving is a day to be shared with loved ones. It's a day to be thankful and celebrate with food. Just enjoy the tasting, the sharing, the company, and don't get carried away with overdoing it on the calories!

What strategy works for you on this special day?

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Year's Resolution: "Lose Weight!"

Are you starting to think about the new year yet? Probably not; there's Thanksgiving just around the corner, and then time to start shopping and decorating for Christmas and other December holidays. With all of the planning and traveling and parties and dinners, it's all most of us can do to try to get through the holiday season without gaining weight.

But, hey, here's an idea ... what if you could actually lose weight by the end of the year? That's right, start changing your diet now instead of waiting to make it a New Year's Resolution. What will this mean to you? Well, you'll have a head start on everyone else six weeks from now. And, oh, there's that little black dress that would look so cute on you to wear New Year's Eve!

So what can you do now to get started:

1. Start writing down everything you eat from now until New Years. I tell you this repeatedly, because it's such an easy thing to do and it is definitely effective! Writing everything you eat in a log makes you aware of the 'extras' you're picking up--a cookie here, a chocolate kiss there--and can stop you in your tracks, saving you hundreds of calories a day.

2. Write down three reasons you would like to lose weight. Why would it be important to you? Get these fresh in your mind each day to keep you on track when you're tempted by the office treats or the party platters. Passing up on those cute little quiches can help you fit into that little black dress, and if you keep reminding yourself of this, it will work!

3. Be sure to drink plenty of water. You already know this. Now make it a habit! Whenever you think of it, have a glass of water or iced tea or other unsweetened beverage. This is especially helpful after a meal when you're craving one more thing, or in between meals when you're likely to seek out a snack. Sometimes we look for something to eat and what we actually need is a little hydration. Take a drink first, and then see if you are still hungry in 15 minutes.

Now, I haven't said one word about cutting out chocolate, or not eating fast food fries, or monitoring your portion sizes. These all help as well. But if you're not in the mode to change your eating habits in ways that will make you feel deprived--especially over the holidays--then try adding the first three to your daily regimen instead. They'll help too! And see if you don't lose a few pounds over the next few weeks.

Let us know how it goes--come back to post your comments here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr Meltdown is melting right along!

I was so happy to see Mr. Meltdown's video this week! Not only has he lost another 3 pounds, but his video shows all the healthy foods he has found to enjoy :)

He found low-fat turkey sausage muffins for breakfast on days he wants a change from his 4-grain cereal; he enjoys steamed vegetables to help keep him feeling full, and has a can of water-packed tuna or Nature Valley snack bars when he wants a snack; he found lower calorie frozen dinners for when he doesn't have time to cook a meal; and my favorite part is that he reads the labels. Not just the calories per serving, but what a serving size is! That is the most important part that too many people miss--they see "120 calories per serving" but don't notice that part that says, "6 servings in this little bag that looks like a single serving size; eat all at once and take in 720 calories when you imagine you are eating 120". It doesn't actually say all that--but it should!

I must confess I am flattered because I know that he got some of these ideas from me :) But I am so happy to see him staying motivated; finding healthy foods that he likes; staying within his calorie level (for his size he can have about 2600-2800 and lose weight at a healthy rate), and continuing his posts to keep us updated on what new finds he can share with us, and how he continues to lose--slowly but surely--towards his goal of being a healthy man with healthy eating habits.

Way to go, Mr. Meltdown :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can Online Weight Loss Programs Work?

With everyone having such a hectic schedule nowadays, there isn't always time to devote to attending diet classes and meetings in person. There are a variety of programs to help you lose weight that are conducted online, ranging from a specific membership through Weight Watchers, to my own Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight six week email program. But do these programs work if you are basically doing it without meeting a sponsor or leader in person?
Research says, "Yes it does"! There are several advantages to online weight loss programs and it might be a system that works for you. Consider the following if you find yourself too busy for a weight loss program that includes face-to-face meetings:

1. The convenience. Users can access the information from home, work, or even while on vacation. If one travels frequently and scheduled meetings are missed, the in-person system will not work for long. If there aren't meetings in your area, or you work odd shifts, the online system is still available 24/7 for you.
2. The cost. Without having to pay for an instructor or a meeting room, online programs can be offered for less money. Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight packages start at under $60! Many sites, such as Spark People and The Daily Plate, help by offering free membership if what you want is a place to go and log your intake, exercise, and calories, and to chat with others who have things in common with you.

3. Easy to stay in touch. Since people email back and forth in these programs, you don't have to be available to meet at the same time as you do in person or on the phone. Some programs have instructors that can answer your questions or evaluate your meal intake: You send them your information, they send you back comments and suggestions later in the day.

4. Anonymity. For people who require privacy, no one ever needs to see you, or know who you are! All they have is an email address to send information to. This allows weight loss clients to be more open and honest.

Any disadvantages to the online way to lose weight? It's not for everyone, and complicated cases such as people who require prescribed modified diets for medical reasons still need more individualized attention.

If you are really ready to start a weight loss program--ready to commit to making the changes in your diet to lead to a healthier life--but do not have the time to schedule weekly appointments, drive to a destination, and weigh in each week, consider that online weight loss programs may be the answer for you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spray Yourself Skinny

Some new versions of butter and salad dressing save calories not just by changing their formula, but by changing their method of application. What a great idea this is: Spray butter on your toast and save at least 100 calories; spray dressing on your salad and save over 150 calories!
Here's how the numbers add up in a few examples:
Salad Dressings
-Wishbone spritzers variety salad dressings come in delicious flavors like French Flair, Raspberry Bliss and Caesar Delight. You only get 15 calories in 10 sprays. That is enough to wet a good portion of a small salad with flavorful dressing. Even if you usually pour a "light" raspberry vinaigrette over your salad you get 80 calories in two tablespoons. This is what they call a serving, but try measuring two tablespoons some time, then put it on your salad. Does this cover enough lettuce, tomato, and cucumber for you to be satisfied? If not, you might be using two, three, or even more 'servings' when you dress your salad! If you're still using regular dressing, fasten your seatbelt-Creamy Caesar dressing contains 170 calories in the same two tablespoons. Measure how much you use on your next salad to figure out how many calories you'll be saving by switching to the spray method.
You don't even have to buy this particular brand. You can use any light dressing you like and put it in a convenient spray bottle to help yourself cover more area of your salad using less dressing.
Butters and Spreads
-Do you like real butter? If that's what you use on your toast, or to fry an egg, keep in mind that a tablespoon of regular stick butter provides 100 calories. Spreads that come in a squeeze bottle (the more liquid, the lower in saturated fat) provide about 60 calories per tablespoon. Whipped butter comes in lower at only 50 calories per tablespoon. But the lowest of all is the "I can't believe it's not butter" spray with less than one calorie in five sprays. Now, it may take you 20 or 30 sprays to cover your entire bagel in the morning, but you know that can't be more than 5 or 6 calories, even if there were one entire calorie in five sprays!
If you've never heard me talk about the "100 calorie rule" let me summarize it here: For every hundred calories you save each day, you can lose nearly a pound in one month. This means if you change to spray butter and save a tablespoon of butter a day (100 calories) you can lose a pound this month. If you frequent restaurant s you should know that one tablespoon equals three pats of butter. How many do you use at a meal? On bread, potatoes, corn? By the way, margarine contains exactly the same number of calories as butter, pat for pat.
If you are used to pouring several tablespoons of salad dressing on your salad and you switch to spray dressings (or even just put diet dressing in a spray bottle of your own) you save 300 calories or more. This will mean up to three pounds lost at the end of 30 days if you usually eat salad every day. Restaurant portions of dressing (often served in a small gravy boat) can easily exceed eight tablespoons on a large salad. If you're counting, that means eight calories of spray versus 420 calories of light dressing, or 680 calories of regular dressing!
Think about how many calories you consume by covering your food with fats like butter and salad dressing. Try the new sprays, eliminate hundreds of calories a day from your diet, and join the "spray yourself skinny" club today!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Evaluation of Popular Diets

Check out the website for reviews of all the popular diets.
Ever wonder what The South Beach diet is? How the Atkins diet works? If the Cabbage Soup diet is healthy or easy to follow? This website reviews the popular diets: What they entail, how they work, and whether or not they are healthy. And probably the biggest question, "do they work?"
There is also a diet blog, on which I am a guest blogger--so I can attest to the accuracy of the information there :)
A question and answer area lets you pose questions to be answered by the community. I will be answering some there.
And remember I also have a blog site called Ask The Dietitian where you can post your questions from me and return to see them in print. So ask away and I'll have your questions about nutrition and diet answered promptly!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mistaken Identity

One mistake many dieters make is identifying too closely with their diets. They get their behavior and self-esteem closely tied in with the progress they are making on their diet, and this is not a good thing.

You see, it's very common and to be expected that one day this week you will eat something that you had determined you would not eat. And this does not make you a bad person. It is not a reason to feel guilty. Furthermore, it will do nothing to assure that you revert back to the 'good behavior' of eating healthy. It generally leads to beating yourself up, feeling like a failure, and then comforting yourself with food. That's not helpful is it?

Keep your identity separate from what you eat. Keep reminding yourself of your best qualities and what you are good at. It will help you stay in line with the healthy eating you aim for. When you slip and have a donut at the office, try telling yourself something like this: "I slipped and had a donut without thinking about it seriously. I am still a good person, a good mom, and good at what I do in my job. For the rest of today I will be conscious of what I eat and be sure to include healthy choices. And later today I will be sure to get in some extra stair-climbing or walking to be sure I burn off some of those extra calories".

There. Problem solved. You are still a good person and you will make more good choices today. You can burn off some of the calories (or even all!) that you had not planned on eating today. It is not a tragedy and you are not off track. Just a little blip in your plan.

Keep up the positive thinking. And remember that your eating habits do not define who you are!

Let us know about a time you ate what you hadn't planned and how you got back on track that very same day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Today I'd like to introduce Mr. Meltdown. We met each other on line and we are working together to achieve his weight loss, which he is very ready to do at this time! We have been chatting for a few weeks and I have been sharing some information with him about healthy eating, lower calorie food choices, and the truth about low carb diets. Today will be his first installment of the "Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight" program, so I'm interested to hear his reaction to all the information provided and how he will respond with actions.
The really fantastic news is that at this time he is willing to share with you his trials and tribulations. It will definitely make for some interesting reading: He's going to keep us posted on what works for him and what doesn't, what he is going through, how it feels to be where he is and where he's heading.
He has an entire blog with posts, products, podcasts, and videos! He is an excellent writer, and very in tune with his feelings and his relationship with food, so it is a rare chance to travel along with someone on this journey.
Visit him at and see his progress on both our blogs over the coming months.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

5 Proven Weight Loss Behaviors

How are they proven?

Researchers surveyed people who had lost weight successfully to find out how they did it. These people all had several characteristics in common. If you can develop these it will greatly increase your chance at reaching your goal and maintaining your healthy weight.

1. They had previously acheived their weight loss goal. Even though they later gained weight back, they knew they had reached their goal before and knew they could do it again!

2. There were several dietary components of successful losers, including eating breakfast regularly, eating lower fat foods, and having meals at regular times on a daily basis.

3. They incorporated physical activity into their lifestyle.

4. On a personal side, they like themselves, their lives are stable, they have effective coping methods, and they have the confidence that they can lose weight!

5. Self monitoring was very prominent: people who lose weight successfully write down what they eat every day; keep a log of their physical activity; and weigh themselves frequently. These habits keep them keenly aware of when weight or behaviors are moving away from ideal.

Try adding these behaviors into your life, one step at a time. What can you do this week? Start a food diary? Simply write down what you eat! Can you take a few more minutes to be active during the day: a ten minute walk in the morning and the evening? How are your coping skills and your self-confidence? If these need help, get the guidance you need to set yourself up for successful weight loss.

Remind yourself every day that you can do it! Decide on an affirmation that will work for you and repeat it while you are getting ready for work, on the way there, while you wash your hands for lunch, on the way home--whenever you have a moment during the day. The more your brain hears that you can do it, the sooner you'll begin to believe it. And that's an important step to beginning your weight loss journey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Increase Your Chance of Successful Weight Loss

How can we figure out what works to help individuals lose weight? One way is to study people who have lost weight successfully and see what they all have in common. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found some key behaviors people practiced which increased their odds of keeping off the weight.

1. Flexibility with the diet they follow: If it's easy to make changes and substitutions, people are more easily able to adhere to their diet plan. When you follow a diet that is very strict and does not allow flexibility, it's hard to stay on it. Simply going out to a restaurant with friends could sabotage your efforts if menu items are not exactly what is 'on' your diet.

2. Structured timing of meals: When people eat their meals at regularly scheduled times they are more successful at losing weight. Eating at erratic times or forgetting to eat a meal altogether does not help develop healthy eating habits that lead to weight loss.

3. Food choices: Dieters who have more food choices are able to stay with their regimen longer. If you try to follow a diet that is too restrictive it can get frustrating early on and lead you to stray.

4. Physical activity: Like it or not, the fact is that increasing physical activity helps weight loss. This does not mean you have to start jogging or going to the gym every day. Find ways to increase your activity like parking farther away to increase your walking distance, taking stairs instead of the elevator (even for one or two floors if you're going up several), and discovering an activity you enjoy such as tennis or dancing.

5. Coping with stress. Those who are successful at losing weight have found coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Instead of eating they have figured out what helps them to relax: calling a friend; going for a walk; taking a bubble bath or reading a good book. Learn what helps you calm down instead of turning to food when the daily fires throw you for a loop.

How does your weight loss plan fit in with these successful strategies? Make a serious effort to find a plan that allows you more food choices and flexibility. Be sure to get on a regular meal schedule and be consistent with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks that are included in your meal plan. Do some thinking about what you can try when you find yourself turning to food for reasons other than hunger. Get out there and enjoy a new activity, and see your success at weight loss soar!

Friday, October 31, 2008

What Is A Calorie?

Calories are actually a measure of energy; scientifically, the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius. The term we use as Calories are really kcals or 1000 Calories. We use kcal because if we didn’t, a Three Musketeers Bar would have 285,000 calories and no one would ever eat one!

Calories are measured by an apparatus that burns the edible portion of a food and measures the energy that is released. Calories people burn are measured by monitoring the amount of oxygen taken in and carbon dioxide released during certain activities.

In grade school we learn that oxygen is what we breathe in, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is what we breathe out. Where does the carbon come from? The Carbon (C) that we breathe out comes from the energy yielding nutrients: Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The other nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and water—neither contain carbon, nor provide Calories.

People burn most of their calories by their continuous body functions (heart beating, breathing, regenerating new cells, etc). This is called your Basal Energy Expenditure and accounts for about 2/3 of the daily calories burned by most people. When you add to this your movements and exercises during the day (even the process of digestion), you find your total calories expended.

How do we calculate the number of calories in a food? There are a few basics to begin with: Carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram. Protein provides 4 calories per gram. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. The only other substances that provide calories are drinking alcohol, and sugar alcohols (such as sorbitol, found in sugar-free gums and candies).

You can calculate the calories in a food by reading the label that shows grams of carbohydrates, grams of protein, and grams of fat. The gram weight of a food will be more than the total of the carbohydrates, protein, and fat, because of water weight. Water can compose of up to 90% of some foods (fruits in particular) but is present in very small amounts in high fat foods, such as butter.

For example, a teaspoon of sugar weighs approximately 5 grams. Only about 4 grams are carbohydrate (the rest a little bit of water). If you multiply 4 grams x 4 calories/gram, you find 16 calories in a teaspoon of sugar! Let’s try to calculate butter: a teaspoon of butter weighs about 5 grams. There are 9 calories in a gram of butter (fat). Take 9 calories/gram times 5 grams and find that there are 45 calories in a teaspoon of butter. Hmmm, butter sure has more calories than sugar!

Try doing the math on food labels you find around your house: On a label of bread you might find 12 grams of carbohydrate (x 4 is 48 calories) and 3 grams of protein (x 4 is 12 calories) and the total calories in a slice will be near 60 calories. The slice of bread weighs 30 grams, but the rest of the weight is from the water content.
I hope you enjoyed this little nutrition class :)