Tag Archives: diet and lifesyle change

The Brain is Driving

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Many people fail to understand that losing weight STARTS in the mind.  Several of my clients have struggled recently with cravings, emotional eating, and other “roadblocks” that have derailed their progress on losing weight. They look for reasons to explain the lapses, blaming them on lack of will power, events beyond their control, etc.

The actual culprit is the mind.  When the mind is NOT engaged in building or changing a habit, then the habit doesn’t stick and despite good intentions, the body/person fails in reaching their goal.  The mind must be engaged in the process. It is the driver behind the wheel, the power behind the action. The body is just the luggage in the trunk of the car.

When building any habit, the process must first begin in the brain.

For example:  If you want to stop giving into cravings, you must:

1. Determine why you are having a craving.  Is it emotionally triggered, event triggered, or just a bad habit? Like eating ice cream while watching TV each evening after work.

2. Once you determine why you have a craving, you have to create a list of activities that will short circuit your craving. If you have a sudden craving for chocolate, instead of raiding your child’s Easter candy stash, put on some music and fold laundry, or take the dog for a walk, or leave the situation that is encouraging the craving (in this case, turn off the TV). Having a list of alternative reactions is a MUST!

3. When the craving hits, you have to follow through with the alternative choice. It’s not enough to just recognize the drive behind the craving. You have to actively short circuit it.

4. You must be consistent.  Within 21 days, you will have created a new, healthier habit and you will notice a marked decrease in craving “episodes”.

When you apply your mind and give it the power to change the body, there is nothing you can’t achieve.

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Importance of Staying on Program Through The Holidays

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Important information to remember…. Whether it’s an “Evening Weakening”, a “Weakened Weekend” or a “Holiday Splurge “… here are some very important reasons why you want to follow the program and not be “on again off again”.

The first reason is that you will get the best results.
In order for the program to be effective, you must be in the fat burning state. Why? Because when you are burning fat you have lots of energy, not tired, not hungry, and most importantly…you are burning fat, not muscle.

We want you to spare your muscle as it is very important in your metabolism, calorie burning ability, and strength.

It is very unhealthy to be going in and out of the fat burning state. This will cause a stress to your body whether you can feel it or not. You could start to burn muscle during this constant fluctuation of energy burn.
This “on again off again” behavior is not helping you to learn healthy eating habits, in fact, just the opposite. You will be teaching yourself a very unhealthy habit, possibly binging, and also weakening any will power you might of thought you had.
Drinking alcohol… Just say “no”. Alcohol lets your defenses down and fills you up with empty calories and carbs, which will kick you out of the fat burning stage.
When you kick out, it can take up to three days to kick back in. Causing you to be hungry and possible tired until you are burning fat again.
In other words…If you can’t do it right, switch to a maintenance-type program with more calories until you are truly ready.

What can you do if you really want to succeed?
Talk to your Health Coach and tell them that you are ready and want their help.
Read Dr. A’s Habits of Health and get the Companion guide along with self study video to help you stay on track.
Make a point to get on all the support calls
Sign up for Support in Motion…The interactive, internet support tool where you can learn about getting healthy, plot your goals and follow them on a chart, log your daily meals, chat with others, learn new recipes.

(To sign up go to your health coach’s website and click on the support in motion window and follow the directions.)

Keep a daily journal
Write a daily affirmation a say it often.
Have a clear set of goals and what you will need to do to reach them
Exercise when the time is right…3 weeks into the program for most beginners.
Follow the directions in your quick start book exactly.

-measure lean and green

-drink your water

-get all five MF meals plus lean in green in daily

-eat within your first hour of waking

-don’t over exercise in the first 3 weeks.

(Maybe Become a health coach yourself!? Our health coaches have a very high success rate…when you talk the talk you’ve got to walk the walk)

From Coach Potato to Active Living

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Most of us know we need to be physically active to be healthy. It’s not new information, but it leaves us with many questions and many opinions. There’s plenty of information about physical activity, but sorting through it and figuring out what to do can be challenging, especially if you are what we call a “coach potato”, someone who’s physical exertion is very low.

coachpotatoHere are some important questions:

What exactly does being physically active mean?

Is this physical activity or ‘exercise’?

How much do we need versus what can we do to get by?

Do we need to do it all at once?

Is there an easy way to fit it into our day, because life is pretty hectic already?

So many questions…

Here’s what we can agree on—I’ll give it to you straight: The basic, scientifically grounded information on physical activity. Then, we’ll begin to figure out how to balance this with your day and your lifestyle. Whether you are trying to gain, lose, or maintain your weight, physical activity goes hand in hand with good nutrition and overall health.

The basics

Science tells us that when it comes down to our overall health, adults, regardless of age, need to do two key types of physical activities:

  • Cardio or Aerobic?1 At a minimum, do moderately intense cardio activity for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
    AND
  • Strength Training! At a minimum, 2 days per week.

I am going to introduce a couple of terms that you may be less familiar with in this context—moderately intense and vigorously intense. By understanding how much effort you need to exert, you can begin to choose what kind of activity fits your available time, life, and needs. Here are some tips and examples to help identify whether physical activity is moderately or vigorously intense.

Cardio—What’s Your Intensity?

Moderate: While performing the physical activity, if your heart is beating noticeably faster—it’s probably moderately intense: We need to do this level of activity for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week.

Examples include:

  • walking briskly (a 15-minute mile)
  • light yard work (raking/bagging leaves or using a lawn mower)
  • light snow shoveling
  • actively playing with children
  • biking at a casual pace.

Vigorous: If you are breathing hard and fast and your heart rate is increased substantially during physical activity, it’s probably vigorously intense.

Examples include:

  • jogging/running
  • swimming laps
  • rollerblading/inline skating at a brisk pace
  • cross-country skiing
  • most competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer)
  • jumping rope.

You don’t have to do 30 minutes all at once…

To meet the goal of 30 minutes a day of moderately intense physical activity, you don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once. Scientific evidence shows you get the same health benefits from breaking 30 minutes up into three 10-minute or two 15-minute intervals throughout the day, if this better fits your lifestyle. Daily activities like climbing several flights of stairs or parking farther away from store entrances are a good start. But if you don’t do that activity for at least 10 minutes at a time, it doesn’t help you meet the recommendation for 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity. In addition, for most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or of longer duration.

What’s in it for me?

Part of it comes down to: Feeling better! Looking better! Not so bad, right? In the big picture, it also comes down to good physical health. If that’s not enough, there’s also that sense of well-being you get from regular physical activity—a constructive way to deal with the demands of the day, relieve stress, and simply feel better about yourself. Many people say that exercising regularly helps them have more energy, sleep better, and they enjoy taking time to do something good for themselves.With most everything, extra work really does pay off! Physical activity is no exception, and the more active you are, the more you benefit. For example, you can further reduce your risk for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and osteoporosis, by doing more than the minimum 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Incorporating up to 60 minutes of cardio activity may also help you to prevent unhealthy weight gain or to manage your weight, if that is your goal.

Different intensities and types of exercise offer different benefits. Cardio or aerobic activities exercise your heart and increase your ability to be physically active for a longer period of time. This type of endurance makes it easier to carry out harder tasks for longer periods of time—whether it’s keeping up with your kids or grandchildren, or playing basketball with your co-workers. Strength training or resistance exercises also contribute to muscular endurance. Strength training is especially beneficial as we get older. As we age, we tend to lose bone and muscle mass, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities: getting in and out of a chair, carrying groceries or laundry, or just walking. Together, cardio and strength training work your whole body. Vigorous physical activity (for example, jogging or other aerobic exercises) provides greater health benefits for physical fitness than does moderate physical activity and burns more calories per unit of time. Aside from all the health benefits, what a bonus that it also seems to make us feel better about ourselves.

How do we fit this into our life?

A lot of people have shared their thoughts with me. Here’s some of their feedback on what works.

Buddy System: Some days it’s hard to talk yourself into an activity. Working with others who are going through the same thing can be motivating, especially when you promised that you would meet for a walk in the park, or a tennis match, or signed up to take a yoga class together.

The Great Outdoors: Opportunities for physical activity may be closer than you think. Take advantage of public parks and pools. There are millions of acres to explore—walk, hike, swim, kayak, canoe, and bike.

Enjoy What You Do: If aerobicizing in a room full of people isn’t your thing, why do it? There are hundreds of activities to choose from. Find something you like and chances are you will stick with it. The key is not to limit yourself. Don’t get discouraged. Pick a few activities to try out, rotate them, and slowly you will figure out what works best for you. Trying something new can be fun and give you more confidence to pursue other activities.

Best of all, no matter what your age, physical ability or limitations, or physical activity level, it’s never too late to start! Some form of physical activity is right for everyone. physically_active

  Summing it up

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned about making     physical activity part of a Healthier You:

  •   Be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.
  •   All adults, regardless of age, need both cardio or aerobic, and strength training, for overall health.
  •   Cardio or Aerobic Activities: At a minimum, do at least 30 minutes of cardio or aerobic moderately intense activities (which can be performed in 10-minute intervals), most days of the week.
  •   Strength Training: Recommended at least 2 days per week. A goal, for example, might be 8 to 12 repetitions of 6 to 8 strength-training exercises.
  •   Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight. About 60 minutes a day may be needed to prevent weight gain.
  •   At least 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity most days may be needed to prevent regaining weight for the formerly overweight or obese.

10 Little Changes That Offer Big Results

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Weight control is all about making small changes that you can live with forever. As you incorporate these minor adjustments into your lifestyle, you’ll begin to see how they can add up to big calorie savings and weight loss. Here are my top 10 habits to help you turn your dream of weight loss into a reality:

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1. Evaluate your eating habits. Are you eating late at night, nibbling while cooking, finishing the kids’ meals? Take a look around, and it will be easy to identify a few behaviors you can change that will add up to big calorie savings.

2. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. You need a strategy for your meals and snacks. Pack healthful snacks for the times of day that you know you are typically hungry and can easily stray from your eating plan.

3. Always shop with a full belly. It’s a recipe for disaster to go into the grocery store when you are hungry. Shop from a prepared list so impulse buying is kept to a minimum. Eating right starts with stocking healthy food in your pantry and refrigerator.

4. Eat regular meals. Figure out the frequency of your meals that works best in your life and stick to it. Regular meals help prevent bingeing. Smaller, more frequent meals is the best option.

5. Eat your food sitting down at a table, and from a plate. Food eaten out of packages and while standing is forgettable. You can wind up eating lots more than if you sit down and consciously enjoy your meals.

6. Serve food onto individual plates, and leave the extras back at the stove. Bowls of food on the table beg to be eaten, and it takes incredible will power not to dig in for seconds. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your mind to get the signal from your belly that you are full.

7. Eat slowly, chew every bite, and savor the taste of the food. Try resting your fork between bites and drinking plenty of water with your meals.

8. Don’t eat just before bed. This is where lots of folks pack on the extra pounds. If you are hungry, try satisfying your urge with a large glass of cold water or a piece of hard candy. Brushing your teeth after your last meal helps reduce the temptation to eat again.

9. Snack during the day and treat the snack like a mini-meal. The most nutritious snacks contain complex carbohydrates and a small amount of protein and fat.

10. Start your day with breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. After a long night’s rest, your body needs the fuel to get your metabolism going and give you energy for the rest of the day. Ideally, you should eat within 30-60 minutes after you wake up.

6 Reasons To Drink Water

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z7There are plenty of reasons to drink water. In fact, drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to your health.

“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, agrees: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health,” he says.

When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in small children and older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp.

Here are six reasons to make sure you’re drinking enough water or other fluids every day:

1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, flushing of toxins, and maintenance of body temperature.

“Through the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for reserves,” says Guest, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University.

When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism. And unless you are taking medications that make you thirsty, Guest says, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee — anything but alcohol.

“Alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to dehydration,” he says.

2. Water Helps Control Calories. For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help.

“What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan.

Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.

3. Water Energizes Muscles. Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer,” says Guest.

Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. Follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for fluid intake before and during physical activity. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.

4. Water Keeps Skin Looking Good. Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. But don’t expect over-hydration to erase wrinkles or fine lines, says Atlanta dermatologist Kenneth Ellner, MD.

“Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration,” he says. “But once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids.”

You can also help “lock” moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in.

5. Water Helps Your Kidneys. Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine, explains Guest. “Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate,” he says.

When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.

If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates, Guest warns.

6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function. Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration — and the result is constipation.

“Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” says Koelemay.

5 Tips to Help You Drink More

If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:

  1. Have a beverage with every snack and meal.
  2. Choose beverages you enjoy; you’re likely to drink more liquids if you like the way they taste.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Their high water content will add to your hydration. About 20% of our fluid intake comes from foods.
  4. Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag.
  5. Choose beverages that meet your individual needs. If you’re watching calories, go for non-caloric beverages or water.

The Importance of Balance in Optimal Health

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Quick Reference to Dr. A’s Habits of Health:

  • Ch 8-12
  • Ch 9 Lists of the best foods in each group
  • Ch 10 Eating plans & 100 calorie fuelings
  • Ch 11-12 Principles of healthy eating for life
  • Living a Longer, Healthier Life Companion Guide: Lessons 9-10

HOH Books

BalanceHealthy Habit of the Week: 

Eat small, balanced meals every 2 – 3 hours

Eating small meals throughout the day is always going to be the healthy way to eat. We get to do that from day 1 with the 5&1 plan, and we learn the habit to continue for life.

What does “balanced” mean? It means protein/carb balanced. Each Medifast meal is perfectly balanced (that is why they are such a great snack for a life of healthy eating on-the-go). So is your lean and green meal.

Balanced meals mean weight loss and weight maintenance. They fill you up, keep you satisfied, and help you lose and then maintain your weight.

Here are some fun things you can try to help make this a life-long habit.

  1. Split your Lean & Green meal. 1/2 a lean and green is a great example of a small balanced meal. Experiment with something and have 2 smaller, balanced meals to get in some good practice!
  2. Track your meals: There are great apps like “My Fitness Pal” that you can plug your food into (and you can scan bar codes!). They will show you how balanced your day is, and if you are on the 5&1 plan, you will see the proof of how balanced your eating really is!
  3. Eat to be “not hungry,” in stead of eating to be “full.” Think about how you feel when you eat. When we eat every 2-3 hours, we don’t need to have a large meal.
  4. Practice sorting: As you come across foods, think about what category they fit in – protein (meat, eggs, dairy, beans, nuts…) or carb (fruit, bread, veggies)?
  5. Look at labels: Turn over your food and look the breakdown. How many carbs? How many grams of protein? If something is mostly carbs, what you you eat with it to balance it? Think of each meal like a scale. How would you balance it out? (bonus – look at the label of a Medifast meal)
  6. Balance others: Next time you make a meal for someone else, make it balanced. Or when you are out to eat, look at the meals around you – are others practicing this habit of health?

Even better?

  • Make your balanced choices from “low-glycemic” foods. They are even healthier, keep your blood sugars balanced, keep you more full for longer and keep the fat storage away. For instance, when eating low-gycemic, did you know strawberries are a much better choice than bananas? See Ch 9 of Dr. A’s book to learn more.