Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't Give Up the Dream of Ideal Health

I was talking to an acquaintance of mine today. She mentioned that she had pretty much settled in to her body, and although she would love to be healthier and carry less body fat, she just doesn't think it is a realistic expectation for her at this point in her life.

I have got to say that at our age (we both recently turned 50) it is more important than ever that we take care of ourselves. I want to live a healthy old age, not be crippled from any more years of excess weight pounding my joints and back. Not to mention the other complications that can arise from not living and eating in a healthy manner.

As we talked, I recognized some of the thought processes that I had a couple of years ago. It really reinforced for me that, although we can encourage one another to be healthy and take care of our bodies, it is completely up to the individual whose body it is to make the decision.

It is possible to achieve ideal health and an ideal body. Because of my genetic makeup I will never be a long limbed, delicate boned Miss America type, but I can have a very healthy, strong, athletic build that will carry me very well.

I have been working with a coach in the area of my health. She encourages me to eat well and make good choices, but she also knows it is up to me. Since she is in the medical profession she points out the risk factors if I don't take care of myself, and she empowers me to take control of my own life.

Dr. Linda has helped me with my mental attitude first. That is where it had to start. I had to believe that it was possible, which for a long time I didn't. After years of attempting to lose weight and failing I, like my friend I saw today, was pretty resigned to being overweight. Only thing is, I was almost 300 pounds--and probably wouldn't have stopped there.

One of the reasons I love my coach, Dr. Linda so much is because I have worked with my doctors in the past and had very different results. Some doctors would criticize my weight but give me no guidance on how to change it. Others would "put me on a diet" and then if I didn't lose weight accuse me of cheating. So many of them seemed to think there was one approach to achieving a healthy weight. With Dr. Linda, she is there to answer questions and be a cheerleader if that is what I need, but she helps me keep my head right and has steered me to a point where I am continuing to lose weight and I do not feel like I'm on a diet at all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Best Omega 3 Supplements

I realized that I did not follow up on the Omega 3 supplements entry I made a few days ago.

I found it very interesting that the day after I posted that blog entry I got in the mail an advertisement for a health food store, and it had an article about Omega 3 also and how it can help people lose weight--they referenced the same study that I had found elsewhere.

So, eating the right kinds of fat actually help us to lose our own body fat. I love it! What are the best supplements? My friend, Dr. Linda Larson (you can visit her blog and get some additional tips for your health, says that a supplement needs to be tested for potency, effectiveness and safety. Apparently most supplements aren't really tested. The manufacturer might buy the components that make up the supplement without testing the shipment. Why is that a problem? Because mistakes can happen, for one, and for another, pollution and toxins also happen.

So when buying supplements, be sure they are actually tested with every shipment that goes to the manufacturer. That will give you the greatest assurance of purity, lack of contaminants and strength.

So whose products meet those standards? There is a company out of Utah that tests every shipment of every item before they make it into their supplements. If the component doesn't pass their strict tests, the shipment is rejected, and (presumably) sold to someone who isn't as stringent in their standards.

This company actually has two Omega 3 products. One has a higher percentage of krill than the other. Both go through the same rigorous testing process. The company is called Pharmanex and is a division of NuSkin Enterprises. You won't find these supplements in any store--they are only available through independent distributors.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Starving is Not the Answer

One of my good friends, a guy who happens to be about 6 feet tall, has been trying to drop a few pounds...mostly around his middle. He has that lanky build that no one in my family has, so instead of chunking out all over like we do, he was developing a little pot belly. Or beer belly. Literally.

He finally gave up the beer because of some health issues and he is looking good. When I saw him last he mentioned that he had hit a wall though. Hmmm...I think we call that a "plateau", and practically every woman on earth, or at least in the US knows that.

He told me he was frustrated because he was taking in less than 1000 calories a day and not losing weight.

If you are like my buddy, thinking that by dropping your caloric intake to extreme lows you will lose weight, then you too are in for a rude shock. Frankly, I thought he knew better than this, but he didn't.

If you reduce your calories you will lose weight at first. But if you do it by too much for very long your body thinks you are going through a famine period and will actually retain weight! Your metabolism will slow down and, because it won't be possible for you to maintain a ridiculously low caloric intake (especially if you aren't getting rewarded with dropping fat)you will start to eat more. So now if you eat a healthy amount of calories, say 1200-1500 for a typical woman wanting to drop some fat, more for a guy my friend's size, you will actually GAIN fat back.

I know this from personal experience. I tried the Liquid Protein Diet back in the 70s. I lost a lot of fat, sure, but it didn't last. And when I put the weight back on, it came on super fast and even more than I had lost. AND I had years and years of a whacked out metabolism making maintaining any kind of healthy weight extraordinarily difficult.

I have found that by mixing it up, I feel better and my body responds much better, too. Some days I might eat less than 1000 calories, but other days I eat over 2000. As long as I keep the variety my body stays in a healthy balance and my fat level is dropping. Not that I'm actually counting calories--but after decades of dieting, you start to get an idea of how many calories you are taking in, even without counting. Kind of like cooking without a recipe.

So my tip for the day is mix it up. Don't pig out all the time, but don't let your body think it will be starved either. You'll be able to enjoy life and you will be a healthier weight while you do!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Inspirations

Being a former swimmer, I watched the swimming events with my usual fervor, even though I had to scale back my Olympic viewing in other areas. Of course I was blown away by the successes of all the swimmers, including Michael Phelps, but most especially Dara Torres.

One of the things that was impressed upon me was how much the sport has changed from my day (hey, I'm more the Mark Spitz era!) and what I can take away from those changes to apply to my life today. Specifically my own health and fitness routine.

Of course there is no way I am going to spend the hours every day working out that they do. However I can increase the time I spend stretching my body. I watched mesmorized as "Team Torres" massaged, pulled, stretched and munched that body. So I spent an extra few minutes getting a really good stretch in before my morning walk the last few days.

Guess what? It helped this 50 year old get a better walk. I was able to go further, faster with less fatigue!

So if you aren't stretching, or you think a minute will do it, I suggest you stretch twice as long (or longer) and see what that does for you!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feeling Satisfied and Full While Losing Weight

So many times when we are trying to shed a few (or more than a few) extra pounds, we stumble because we don't feel full. Or even if "full" we aren't feeling satisfied.

One of the reasons for that is typically a "dieter" will not eat enough fat. Sounds funny, but it is important to eat some fat, of the right kind, if you want to lose fat--especially long term.

A brand new 2008 study supports this--but goes into more detail about the types of fats we need to ingest to feel that fuller, satisfied feeling. It is important to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements. This is true whether you want to lose a little weight or are morbidly obese.

I find this especially interesting as women in particular have targeted low-fat eating as the idea, when for a woman's chemistry, she actually needs proportionately more fat than a man does to maintain ideal health.

This study documents that the omega-2 fatty acids help control hunger "signals"...hmmm, I think that could also be cravings perhaps? And lasts at least two hours after the meal is eaten, so it isn't just the immediate post-dining sense of fullness.

How do you know that you are getting enough fat, and the right the study they suggest at least 1,300 mg per day. Where do you get it--well you could eat a lot of fish. But make sure it is wild caught. Were the waters where it was caught clean? And what if you don't want to eat that much fish? You could go with canned. Still have the clean water question, and I had a friend who got mercury poisoning from eating too much canned tuna!

So if eating enough fish is too challenging--which for me it is, and I actually LIKE fish, but I live in Colorado...not known for oceans...try supplements. I caution about supplements because they currently are not regulated. There are some good ones out there, but a lot of them could be ify at best.

So I consulted with a friend of mine, Dr. Linda Larson about what supplements to use. She gave me a great education on supplements and how they should be tested for efficacy, safety, consistency and quality. Most companies don't do that, she told me.

Stay tuned to hear the recommendations made by Dr. Linda Larson--because I'm going to share them tomorrow!

(study reference: Parra, Ramel Bandarra, Kiely, Martinez, Thorsdottir, June 14, 2008)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Importance of H20

Keeping hydrated is sometimes underrated. I happen to actually love drinking water, so it generally isn't a problem for me. However, I have talked to many people lately who say they don't "like" water, or they can't drink as much as is recommended, or they think drinking water will make them bloat so they stay thirsty, or they think drinking coffee and soda all day is the same as drinking water.

Starting from the back of the list, coffee and sodas are not water. They may be mostly water (or sugar) but they have other ingredients that actually can cause worse dehydration. Ingredients like caffeine and sugar, for example. For me, I gave up sodas years ago when saccharine was banned. From time to time I will have a sugar-laden soft drink, but it is so rare that I doubt my overall health is affected. Just like anything else, you can have it once in a while, it is the habitual consumption that really causes problems. And, I do drink water--about a gallon every day!

That leads to the next belief, that drinking water will cause bloat. The opposite is actually true. If you restrict your water intake then you body will hold onto the water it has. That is what causes bloat and swelling. The best way to combat the bloat is to increase your water intake!

If you are one of those who just doesn't "like" water, I have a couple of suggestions. First, it could be that you are drinking tap water, and while it is probably safe, it may have chlorine and other chemicals in it. These chemicals are added to our water to make them "safer." I have found that I am very sensitive to the smell and taste of these chemicals. So even "really good" tap water is difficult for me to drink.And remember, I LIKE to drink water! Real water should actually have no taste to it.

So try filtering your water. I use a Brita filter and find that it works great. There are other fancy options for purifying or oxygenating your water. They may be worth it, but for me right now, the price puts it into a "not at this time" category.

If that doesn't work for you, try adding a little squirt of lemon into your water. Or try another fruit juice...just add a little splash. Don't buy the premade drinks in the store. They'll have more sugars and cost you lots more money!

Finally, check the temperature of your water. I like water about room temperature, I find that I cannot drink as much water if it is very cold--it will actually upset my stomach. The exception is if it is extremely hot and I will be outside. Then I will want my water chilled--but that is only partly for thirst, it is also for temperature control and replacing the water I have been sweating out!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Technorati Profile

Joy is Key to Healthy Weight

When I feel less than joyful (whether that is sad, angry, anxious or even depressed) it is a big challenge for me to retain my physical health. It is more than just the fact that these "negative" emotions cause me direct harm. If I allow myself to wallow in them, my attitude about myself in general begins to spiral downward, making it harder and harder for me to care enough to make the effort to live a healthy life.

Therefore, I find it important to resolve to do something every day that brings me joy and allows me to feel good about myself. Some of these things are daily routines, like my gratitude journal or going for a walk in the fresh air.

I also make the effort to do something "special" every month that brings me "special joy". These are the things that are not routine. It could be getting away for a couple of days--either to the mountains, like I did recently, or to the City to catch a show. It also includes taking advantage of seasonal events in my neighborhood. For me this weekend that was attending 2 different sculpture shows. I spent an entire day at each show, the "Invitational" and Sculpture in the Park

Attending events like this feed my spirit. I get to meet lots of wonderful, friendly and talented artists and see fantastic pieces of all styles and media. I am in hog heaven, as it were. For you it may be the County Fair--it is that time of year, folks!

When you attend the events, there will no doubt be lots of opportunities to eat! If there is a "treat" that will absolutely make the fair for you, but you "shouldn't have it"...see if you can share it with a friend (or 2 or 3!). Even if no one will share it with you, commit to eating only 3/4 of it! You will be surprised at how good that makes you feel as it puts you in the driver's seat.

When you ask yourself if you are going to have the treat be aware of a couple of things, 1. the fact that you are even asking yourself if you are going to have the treat means you are gaining control--that's awesome, pat yourself on the back! 2. If you want it, but it isn't going to make the event for you, try walking around for a while and see if the desire goes away. Sometimes it is just seeing the stand that makes it seem so appealing! 3. If you decide you are going to have the treat, under no circumstances should you beat yourself up over it. Have it and enjoy it, and resolve to keep moving and making the best healthiest choices every day.

Remember--it is NOT A DIET, IT IS YOUR LIFE!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Time Away and Celebrating

I took a few days to escape the heat and went to the mountains. It was in the high 80s even there and in the sun that felt quite warm. Fortunately for me, a few minutes out of the sun really helped cool the body down!

I was pleasantly surprised at my healthy eating while away. Things really are working! I am changing my eating patterns!!! I had a wonderful time and shared two treats (separate days) and didn't set off any binge eating even upon my return home. I'd say that is a huge success!

Instead of wanting to be in "vacation mode" and eat only special treats, I was very happy eating my vegetables. No, I didn't feel deprived--that is the point. It felt really good to be able to eat like a "normal" person. Have a little wine, have a dessert, and not feel like I needed (or wanted) to drink the entire bottle or eat the entire store's worth of chocolate.

Took a couple nice walks, too, so the body got to move a little bit.

A very good get away--only thing that would have made it better was a bit longer time. Oh well, next time!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Enjoying My Walks

It has been so very hot here that being active can be quite the challenge. So we have taken to short and quick walks in the morning and evening. Gone for only perhaps 20-30 minutes each outing.

I'm pleased to recognize the pace is definitely picking up and going the same distance is getting easier.

Soon we'll have to add some distance!

An added benefit is I'm getting to know some of the people in the extended neighborhood. At least well enough to recognize and wave.

I particularly have been enjoying seeing all the beautiful flowers this summer. Gives me all sorts of ideas.

And I get a chance to talk about ideas with my walking partner. I definitely suggest having a workout buddy, even if it is just for a stroll. You can encourage each other and inspire each other to do better. Sometimes just having that other person waiting for you to go for the walk makes it that much more difficult to bail!

Don't feel that every walk has to be with a buddy--and you can certainly have more than one buddy. Keep in mind that the goal is to have fun but also to move your body!
That being said, if you can't have a conversation, a bit strained, but a conversation, then you are working too hard.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cleanse is Over

Here are the results of my 9 day cleanse:

I lost 12 pounds. My body fat went down another %. I lost about 9 inches overall.

Those are the objective measures. From those one would say that it was a success (because how do I know if I'm any "cleaner" on the inside?)

Here are some of my thoughts on the process:

I was hungry. A lot of the time.
I felt deprived. A lot of the time.
It felt like being on a diet. Which you know I am not in favor of.
I did not feel energized or have more mental clarity than before--but then I have been eating very healthy foods and drinking lots of fluids.

Would I do it again? No. Would I recommend it to others? Perhaps if they have not been eating well already. This could be a good "jump start" for someone.

I am glad to be back on my normal program now. I knew I could do just about anything for 9 nine days, and I did. But for me, this is about my life longterm and I didn't feel like it was a program I could or would want to continue regularly.

Nope, I'm back to my healthy routine of great nutrition and gentle exercise. And I don't anticipate trying anything else!