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Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

I hear from a lot of people that they do everything under the sun to try to lose weight and yet it still just doesn’t seem to be happening. They eat all the right foods, they go to the gym as often as possible, they seem to be getting a decent amount of sleep. But what did you eat in between all those angelic meals you had? What did you do when you went to the gym – were you sweating up a storm or talking to people and maybe grabbing a machine for a couple minutes?

It’s easy to miss the details. I know, for example, that I tend to eat a lot more when I’m eating with my husband. Or any guy 1.5x my size for that matter. I was recently on vacation with some girlfriends and when we went out to dinner I would find myself wanting so much more than they were eating. Frankly, I think I do tend to eat more than the average female adult, but I probably could do with a little less sometimes. The point is to pay attention to how much you’re eating, not how much your company is eating. When you are with someone who eats a lot more, ie your spouse who may be bigger than you are, you don’t need to eat as much as they do.  Or when you go out to dinner with a bunch of people – alcohol gets mixed in and your portion sensors go haywire! Especially because the people around you indulge. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the same food but just have a little less. You savor each bite just a little bit less and less after the first one anyway! At what point will you realize that you are going to enjoy the next bite that overstuffs you a lot less than the last one.

When you’re cooking, do you pay attention to what you add to the dish? An extra stick of butter might be overkill, but if you throw in a chunk here and a slice there, it seems like less. A pinch of salt may bring out the flavor, but several mindless pinches take over the dish. (If you’re drinking a glass of wine – or two or three – while cooking it’s especially easy to lose track.)

Is this what you have on hand for snacks?

What about snacks? Do you reach for snacks during the day without thinking about it? You eat healthy meals but forget to pay attention to what happens in between? Maybe you think the food doesn’t count if you’re standing up or doing work at the same time? Or maybe you do reach for the healthy bag of mixed nuts – they’re raw and unsalted – but you keep reaching and reaching until you’ve eaten the whole bag? It’s a lot easier to keep your portions in check if you only give yourself the amount you want to eat. Take the nuts out of the bag, stick them in a little dish and close the bag before you start eating. Speed counts too – if you wolf them down, of course you aren’t going to be full after the 2.5 seconds it took to swallow them. Try to eat them slower and actually pay attention to what they taste like. Condiments too. You may be eating what seems like healthy fare, but sticking tons of sugary ketchup (catsup?) on it. Or oops, I’m eating farm-fresh vegetables but I accidentally deep fried them before they got to my mouth! Fresh produce is so delectable but it’s difficult to really taste it if it’s covered in who knows what. Pay attention to the amount and the flavors of the food you put in your mouth.

One thing I should note about portion size: do make sure you eat enough. Starving yourself is NOT going to help you lose weight, it’s only going to slow down your metabolism, give you less energy than you need and make you moody and irritable so nobody wants to hang out with you. Not only that, you generally reach a point where you realize you haven’t had enough food and suddenly you’re ravenous and have eaten everything in sight before you know what’s happened. Again it’s about paying attention. Your body will tell you when it’s still hungry. I don’t mean bored and wanting to munch on things, I mean genuinely hungry.

This may be SLIGHTLY small for an entree

Exercise works the same way. You can do it reluctantly or you can do it well. You know what I’m talking about, you see those people at the gym who are really only there to socialize with the other people at the gym. The women in the locker room who look like they are getting ready to go out to a fancy dinner and then you realize they are in their workout clothes and they are actually beautifying themselves to go out on the gym floor. You know who you are! It’s fine if that’s what you want to do, but don’t tell me you are working out every day and can’t understand why you aren’t getting more fit. Muscle definition happens when you actually pick up the weight – and hopefully put as much effort and concentration as you possibly can into it! There are days when I just hop on a treadmill or run around the park with a thousand other things running through my mind – I think you need those workouts too. Part physical benefit, part mental. But I think you get so much more from exercise when you put your mind to it and really pay attention to what you’re doing. If you’re going to work out, do it well! PUSH yourself! Get the most from it! Maaaaaybe even enjoy it? Try new things! Pay attention to what they feel like, what parts of your body they work.

Do you remember what you just read? Did you pay attention? 😉 I challenge you to really notice your body next time you are exercising – how does each muscle feel and how hard are you really pushing yourself? Pay attention to your food and how much you really need to be satiated. Is the next bite really going to make you a happier person? Or is being satiated as opposed to over-stuffed going to make you feel better?

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As someone with a whole lot of digestive trouble, it’s a good thing I went in to Nutrition. Who knows if I would ever have figured out (and solved) the issue! And thankfully this has come in handy with clients, as digestion seems to be a very popular enemy these days. Go figure, with all the crummy processed food out there. Not to mention the things sold as food that really, by my definition, don’t qualify! There are soooo many things that can cause an imbalance in your system and the cause is generally a puzzle. People are plagued with these problems for years or even decades because they can’t get to the source of them. (Come see me!)

In any case, one of the most interesting things I noticed with my own experience was not something I was expecting. I’ve tended to be a creature of habit – actually not really, but I definitely have been where food is concerned! I would go through phases where I would eat the SAME EXACT thing for breakfast. EVERY day. Sometimes I would even crave it again for dinner! This can be (though is certainly not always!) a sign of a food allergy. For one reason or another your body can become addicted to something and by the time you wake up in the morning, after hopefully several hours of sleep, you are practically suffering from withdrawals! I had a pancake phase, a toast with nut butter phase… there have been a few iterations. No matter how much I told myself the night before that some healthy kale would be a welcome change, I would wake up the next morning with no power over the usual starchy craving.

In the course of my return to health, one of the things I did was temporarily give up a lot of the foods that I craved and the foods I believed were causing me problems – wouldn’t you know there was a lot of overlap! It was tough at first, but it quickly got a lot easier. And by the time my gut started to heal and things began to work properly, I realized something. I craved variety for the first time I can remember. If I had something for breakfast one morning, I would not want it again for a few days. This forced me to come up with a variety of different things to eat which, of course, provides a variety of nutrients for a healthy body. One day it would be egg whites and veggies, another veggies and nuts with yogurt and another day oats with all sorts of fun stuff thrown in. And on and on.

To bring a long story to an overdue conclusion… this is the way it’s supposed to be! You need to eat a VARIETY of foods at every meal. Try not to eat the same thing twice within a 4-5 period. Whatever makes you include veggies, go for it, I am not going to complain – but if you can, try to eat different ones each day and throughout each day. And if you are craving the same thing day in and day out, well… you might want to think about why!

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A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. 50 calories of gummi bears is very different from 50 calories of vegetables, and I don’t just mean the way they taste. Are you someone who pays more attention to how many calories you are eating than where those calories are coming from? It’s OK if you count calories if that’s what you need to do to help you lose weight or maintain it, but there are a few other things that are crucial to consider.

You need to make sure you are eating a wide variety of foods, this is the only way you can hope to get all the nutrients your body needs. Your body needs vitamins and minerals, it needs fat, protein and carbohydrates, it even needs specific types of fat, protein and carbs. There is also the consideration of what happens to the calories you eat once they enter your system. This is why I urge you to eat REAL FOOD. Sure, there may be less calories in the fake version, but how much better off are you if you eat less calories and slow down your metabolism? Not much and maybe worse!

Cheaters never prosper, right? You can’t fake out your body by eating the diet version, it all evens out in the end. Just like if you cheat in a workout – who really loses when you aren’t getting in to the shape you want or don’t seem to be getting stronger? Well it works the same way with food. You can eat a nonfat version or you can go for real butter – one has less calories but it also slows your metabolism, not to mention a host of other issues it causes. That’s not going to help you lose weight and be healthy in the long run!

We are what we eat! Our brain is made of fat, as are our cells, proteins make up the enzymes we need to break down food and the neurotransmitters that serve as the communication system for our whole body, hormones are made from things such as protein and even cholesterol and so on. Do you want to have your body made up of fake ingredients like preservatives and additives and chemicals that don’t let your system function properly?

When you eat artificial sweeteners, they can’t communicate with your brain to let you know you’re full, they can’t balance out your level of insulin – basically they make you just want to eat more. The oils that get processed into margarine and similar “foods” just deplete vitamins and minerals you need from your body, create free radicals that give you even bigger problems, create a mess of your digestive system… nothing good, let’s put it that way!

In any case, you need fat for your body to work right. It’s good for you! As long as you are eating mostly good ones. I think we’ve all heard about the dreaded trans fats by now and there is no amount of those that is small enough to call healthy. Yet another benefit of REAL food – no labels to deceive you! (Trans fats can be included without mention on the label as long as they don’t exceed a certain amount. So guess what, the portion size just gets reduced so the trans fats don’t need to be mentioned!)

So, eat food! Real food!

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Sometimes it seems impossible to work out. You know how good it will feel afterwards but you just can’t get yourself to do it. Maybe you need a break! Had plenty rest days already? Well then maybe one of these motivation tips will help you:

1. Set detailed goals. Write out ahead of time a list of daily and weekly goals.

2. Tell yourself you just have to go to the gym and get on a machine for five minutes. Or fifteen. Or whatever it may be. Chances are you will not quit before doing more than that. Maybe get on the treadmill and start out just walking. Or start with sit-ups.
3. Plan your visit to the gym around your favorite TV shows.You can watch TV while you work out and the time will go by so much faster. Make sure it’s not too funny, you don’t want to fall off the treadmill. Watch Biggest Loser – if they can work out ‘til they puke, you can at least work out!
4. Try something new! Try a class you’ve never tried before! Do an activity that you don’t usually do. Maybe try a new workout DVD at home.
5. Make a great iPod song list. Change it often so you are always excited to listen to it. Right now I love listening to P!nk, Madonna’s Hard Candy album, and anything JT or MJ gets me revved up!
6. Train for something. Sign up for a 10K or marathon or triathlon!
7. Be accountable to someone. Work out with a friend – tell each other about your daily workouts or schedule workout dates together. At those tough times it is really nice to have someone you can call that will motivate you, even if they are not a workout buddy. You can also publicly log your exercise at places like www.strands.com. You can follow other runners and they can follow you – how lame will it be if people are following you and you never do any workouts! Hey, you can even make a bet! Set the stakes, sign up for www.stickk.comand make it official!
8. Give yourself a reward afterwards. Give yourself motivation by telling yourself you can get a massage if you work out. And think how much better that massage will feel! But do make it a non-food reward.
9. Sometimes you just need to have that food splurge. Fine. Once in a while, and if it gets you moving, maybe it’s worth it to tell yourself if you get out there and work your butt off, you can have that treat. Hey, if it gets you in the routine of working out… Just make sure it’s REAL FOOD.
10.Think how much energy you will have! I know it sounds corny, but visualize yourself after the workout. You know how good it feels. You know how much energy you always have afterwards. Talk about a reward!
11.Look at magazines for motivation. OK so the pictures may not be realistic, attainable goals of real people, but they do motivate you!
12.Write about it! Lots of people are blogging these days. It turns the exercise in to a fun project. You get to share it with all sorts of people and even get feedback if you want it. Also you can look back and see what you’ve done!
13.Look at what someone else has written. Check out another bloggers’ web site and get inspired! When you see all the workouts they are doing and see the photos of how great they feel and how much energy they have, you will want to do it too!
14.Feel like you don’t see your family enough as it is?Involve your kids – exercise with them!
15.Just do it! It may be difficult to motivate at first but it WILL get easier. The first week or so you may have to just suck it up and get out there. Ignore your inner excuse-maker!

See how far you’ve gone!

You might find some new exercises to try here:

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What is the single best thing you can do for your health? Hire a Health Coach, of course! Ha, gotcha. No really… it’s making sure your digestion is on track and working properly. Most of your immune system is located around your gut. How else would most of the things that make you sick get in, right? Through your mouth! You breathe, you eat, you drink… you get the picture.

Well, it’s surprising how many people suffer from poor digestion. It’s not always as hard to fix as you might think. And it is well worth the effort! The lining of you gut determines what gets absorbed into your body and what gets eliminated. Ideally, you want the vitamins, minerals, molecules of healthy fat, etc. to get in and the bad guys like toxins and bad bacteria to stay out. To make a long story relatively short and readable, you need a few basic things.

Well first of all, you need a strong supply of enzymes to break down foods so they can be absorbed properly. These come mostly from raw fruits and vegetables. Our diets tend to be full of things that wipe out enzymes, so you need to get enough to overcome this abuse. Digestive enzyme supplements can be easily bought to help you get on track (but you, of course, might want to do this with the help of a Health Coach).

You want to make sure you have a full supply of good bacteria. You get this from things like yogurt and fermented foods and if you need extra help you can take a probiotic supplement.

The best food on the planet and probably the one most lacking in our diets is the leafy green. Popeye knew what he was talking about. Spinach, kale, the whole lot of them. Get as many of these inside of you as possible. If you like them raw, even better! Green juice is a popular way to do this, but I think it’s best to make sure you also get them in their solid form because…

Fiber is crucial to proper digestion. Of course it is! Where do we get fiber? Well, leafy greens for one! All sorts of other fruits and vegetables in their non-juice form. Whole grains are a fantastic source as well but some or all of them tend to give some people problems, so pay attention to how they make you feel. Beans as well. One thing to note about beans and grains is that soaking them will make them a lot easier to digest. I never cook them without first soaking them for as long as possible. (It helps get rid of the phytic acid but that’s a conversation for another time.)

Thirsty? Water is probably the easiest AND mot important element to this whole digestion conundrum. I think you know where to get that.

Let’s not forget essential fats, otherwise known as Omega 3’s. They are, well, essential for healthy digestion. Everyone can benefit from a supplement. The best source is wild fish and lots of it. You can get it from nuts like walnuts, but it’s not as easy for our bodies to use. I take a fish oil supplement every day.

Of course this list is not exhaustive. There’s stress, eating too fast, a never-ending list. But we covered the basics The gut is a massive territory with a whole lot of room for complication. If you feel like you do everything right but you still have issues (you know that they are!) then you can take further action like an elimination diet or even get tests of your blood and stool samples. And yes… working with a professional is advised!

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Ah food cravings… why can’t they ever be for things like steamed kale or raw broccoli spears? No no. Of course, the most common craving known to man – actually it seems to be more often woman, no fair! – is for something sweet.  I suppose there are evolutionary reasons behind it but that hardly helps us now, does it. Well, the good news is there are plenty of current, easily explained reasons for it now too. This is especially good news because it means there are ways to manage these cravings and use them to our benefit rather than let them be our downfall. With a little practice it’s not even that difficult! If I can get over my cravings for sweets, trust me, anyone can.

The truth is that cravings really are – no, really – our friend. They do happen for a reason, our bodies are trying to tell us something! We just need to figure out what that message is. If you just ate something salty, your body may be trying to compensate with something sweet to balance itself out. Heck, maybe you just ate something sweet – sugar is addictive so having some doesn’t help much in alleviating the craving, it just makes you want more! You could be craving nutrients that you aren’t getting or your hormones could be out of whack. Have you ever tried drinking water when you crave sweets – maybe you are just thirsty. Maybe it’s not even biology-related, perhaps you are just bored! Sometimes we crave that immediate satisfaction that we know we are going to get from that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cupcake. And sometimes it’s a much bigger issue, something we are missing in our lives on a deeper level. All of these are things we can deal with!

The biggest problem today is that what was once sweet is no longer so sweet. Our ancestors may have had sweet cravings, but I think we can be pretty sure they were not looking for Jelly Bellies or Coke. They found sweetness in fruits and vegetables, even grains. Well, we can too! It’s just a matter of adjusting how we eat. Try adding more fruits and sweet vegetables to your diet. OK, sometimes you just really want a tasty dessert, try using a replacement for sugar like raw honey or agave nectar. (Try the recipes below!) Are you just bored? Try doing something else that will bring you pleasure without taking in calories! There are tons of strategies for overcoming that overwhelming desire for candies, cookies and other desserts. It really is worth it for your health. Despite their bad name, there is increasing evidence that sugar may be more of a culprit than dietary cholesterol and fat when it comes to cardiovascular disease. You only get one body, take care of it!

Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1. In a mixing bowl whisk egg whites and salt until stiff
2. Fold in agave, vanilla and coconut
3. Drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, one rounded tablespoonful at a time
4. Pinch each macaroon at the top (like a kiss)
5. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned

Raw Brownie Bites

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup flax seeds or flax seed meal
2 T coconut oil
1 small pinch of vanilla extract
1 small pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Place all ingredients in food processor until combined, roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze for storage. Serve cold from the fridge.

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