Friday, August 27, 2010

Weight Loss Success Defined

I have talked to lots and lots of people about weight loss...and weight gain...and the challenges that we face in truly having long-term success in achieving our health and fitness goals. We all have one thing in common--the desire to have this success, that most of us find to be elusive.

This common desire got me thinking about how I define "weight loss success." In discussing the idea with others I have heard so many different ways we choose to define success and I wonder how YOU define it.

  • Is succeeding at weight loss only realized when you reach a specific number on the scale or clothing size?
  • Is success lowering cholesterol or percent body fat?
  • Is success for you fitting into a special outfit--your wedding dress, for example?
  • Do you measure success with a tape...your waist or hips have gotten smaller by so many inches?
  • Does success mean that you have more can walk or run or swim or bike more easily? further? faster?
  • Is success only achieved when you can eat whatever you want without gaining weight?
  • Do you deem it a success because of how others view you--that others think you are more beautiful? healthier?
  • Is your success about how you feel physically? emotionally?
  • Is success only achieved at the reaching a specific goal? by reaching and maintaining it (for how long)?
  • Or is success the daily journey, seeing healthier habits evolve, maybe even before you see results on the scale?
  • Can you deem your weight loss efforts successful if you reach your goal even if others think you weigh too much?
What is your definition of weight loss success...and why? Let me know how you determined what gauge you are using to measure your success (or lack of it!)

I don't know that there are any "right" or "wrong" answers or is, as one of my cyber-friends and fellow recovered dieter, Karen Anderson, says..."whatever works" I do think it helps us to look at how we define whether or not we are successful--and how we measure whether we have achieved that definition or not.

Are we placing such a tight definition on the term that it is next to impossible to achieve? Are we setting ourselves up to fail because of how we define success? Or is our definition a kick-in-the-pants goal that inspires us to make healthy choices? Or is our definition so relaxed we don't make any changes in our lives at all?

I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to the meantime, I'll think about my own definition of weight loss success!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confessions of an Emotional Eater

One of the best ways to avoid emotional eating is to plan ahead and have other outlets for your emotions. That way you are ready and able to deal with emotions in a healthier way. One of my ways of dealing with emotions is writing on my computer, whether it is articles or blog posts or connecting with people on Twitter or Facebook or through email, I have found the computer to be a great tool in my weight loss success plan. So imagine my dismay when I am without a computer because it crashes. Then imagine, after buying a new computer, less than 2 months later the NEW one crashes--the morning I am leaving for a trip to help my 80-something mother through a surgery and multiple doctors’ visits.

Whew. I was not a happy camper.

Sure I had some other alternatives such as going for walks and talking to my family back home, but the computer and writing are such an integral part of my process that losing that outlet was a big blow for me. And I confess: I ate. A lot.

But the point isn’t really about what I could have done differently, what I could have done better; it isn’t about pointing out my flaws; it certainly isn’t about beating myself up for not being perfect.

The point is just that…I’m not perfect…and that’s okay! We don’t have to be perfect in order to be healthy. Truth is, being perfect is not only not possible for mere humans, it isn’t really healthy to strive for perfection as the goal. I know this because for many, many years that is exactly what I tried to do. And when I fell short of that goal I was really hard on myself and I either was super-critical or I just gave up on all attempts to be healthy…usually I did both! While I was labeling myself as a “perfectionist” I was really setting myself up for failure and then getting mad at myself when the inevitable happened.

My mother’s surgery went well (thanks for asking), I’m back home now, my new (and newly repaired) computer is as well, and I have brought a few extra pounds with me as a souvenir of the trip. It isn’t the end of the world…it isn’t even the end of my wardrobe, although things are a bit tighter than I’d like.

So now I can get back to dealing with my emotions in a more healthy way than by eating. But you know what? I’m not kicking myself about the eating…it definitely was a tool I used to help me through a challenge. Whether there were better tools available or not is actually beside the point. Now that I am home in an environment where I feel a bit more in control, I can go back to doing the things that I know work for me in the long run.

This trip was the perfect storm for me…allowing me the chance to eat for purely emotional reasons…and I came out of it, a bit battered but intact! I know that there will be more storms in the future and some I will weather fine and others will toss me around a bit. That is part of what life is about…it is about the long haul, not the single storm.

Ironically, by letting go of the need to be perfect I am able to accept who I am and realize that I am still a good person who deserves health…a person who can take it one step at a time, even if once in a while those steps run a little backwards! The journey to permanent weight loss is not a straight path. This experience reinforces for me that I am on the right path, that by loving myself enough to be gentle with my transgressions I will come out of it faster and healthier…and weighing less, too!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dump Diet Soda for Health and Weight Loss Success

It may seem to some that the suggestion to dump the diet soda goes against the idea of losing weight. The truth is that diet sodas do NOT help you lose weight. The reasons why may be controversial, but here are some of the facts behind and non...that might just burst your soft drink bubble.

Bone Killers: some sodas will actually take calcium out of your bones. Sodas with caffeine seem to be the biggest culprits here...whether the soda is diet of regular doesn't seem to matter.

Diabetes Risk: even one diet soda a day is linked to a increased odds of risk of both Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Research has not conclusively shown why, but one possibility is the caramel flavoring in cola, which actually affects the boy at a molecular level and inhibits the ability to process sugar.

Weight Gain: yep, diet sodas can actually lead to weight gain because they increase carbohydrate cravings and get us used to taking in super sweet substances.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup: switching to regular soda is not necessarily healthier...most are filled with HFCS which is complete void of nutrition, spikes the body's blood sugar levels and get us on the simple carb roller coaster ride of wanting more carbs to help fight the fatigue caused by the inevitable sugar crash.

The healthiest solution is to drink lots of clean, pure water. Although tap water is "safe" I filter mine to get rid of the chemicals that municipalities put in it to make it safe.

Sometimes plain water is just not enough though, so if you want some flavor to your drink here are some of my favorite suggestions:
  • Add a splash of 100% fruit juice
  • Toss in some fresh berries (or frozen if you want a chill)
  • Squeeze in a little lemon or lime juice
  • Throw in some ice cubes made from juice or with berries hidden inside
  • Brew some green or herbal tea...chill it for a summertime treat
If you absolutely want the bubbles then try club soda or naturally bubbly water. While I don't recommend drinking lots of it (after all, the bubbles are from Carbon DiOxide...a gas that our bodies consider a waste product) as an occasional treat it gets my green light. Mix it up with the suggestions above or try adding a sprig or two of mint for a zero calorie refresher!

Don't think you can cut out the soda habit entirely? Try cutting it in half! Get your taste buds used to less sweet by splitting the soda pop with club soda or Perrier. Alternate plain water with a bubbly drink to reduce the number of sodas in a day.

Remember, improving your health and losing weight permanently is a gradual process. Don't expect to make the change in a day...keep at it and find the balance that works for you...and don't be surprised to see you have actually lost weight once you've dumped the diet soda habit!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reject Aspartame by Any Name for Weight Loss Success

Seems the manufacturers of Aspartame have gotten a new marketing that has figured out that American consumers have realized that Aspartame is not a healthy substitute for sugar.

Have they reformulated the product to make it safer? No.

They've given it a new name!

Now on the shelves is "AminoSweet" but while it may have a new name, it is the same old Aspartame. NutraSweet is one of the old names...still found on many shelves.

Aspartame has been out for many years...and some people believe that it is safe...but the truth is that even back in 1991 reports showed at least 62 side effects from ingestion of Aspartame. These side effects include:
  • Joint Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Cravings
  • Weight Gain
Yes, you read that of the side effects of this zero calorie "diet product" can be weight GAIN! This is mostly because Aspartame actually increases cravings for carbohydrates and it gets our taste buds used to super sweet foods. In other words, the more diet foods you eat/drink that contain Aspartame, the harder it will be to stop eating other high calorie foods with sugar and processed flours...the simple carbohydrates that provide our bodies with zero nutrition!

That is one of the reason I tell you if you are going to have something sweet, have the real deal!

Most of us know that Aspartame is in diet soda (which, again, do NOT help you lose weight...even Dr Oz and his partner Dr Roizen agree with me on this one!) Did you know that Aspartame is also in many diabetic products, diet foods, and even breakfast cereal???

Aspartame can also be found in OTC and prescription medications, vaccines and even vitamins!

You may not be able to control the intake of Aspartame in medicine, but you definitely can make sure you aren't getting it in the food and drink your purchase. Read the label and avoid Aspartame by any name!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweeter Than Honey Weight Loss Challenge

Many folks in efforts to be more health conscious and consume fewer processed foods are making the move towards honey rather than white sugar.

This is a good idea in that honey has small amounts of minerals, enzymes, amino acids and even vitamins as well as being very easy to digest. Consuming honey from your local area can also help you fight allergies.

Eating honey after a workout can actually help refuel your body when combined with a protein...and adding small amounts of honey to the water you drink during a grueling workout (not a walk around the block) can help keep your energy up.

Honey doesn't seem to put most of us on the roller coaster ride of the massive sugar high and subsequent crash that refined sugar does...although I wouldn't eat massive quantities to test that theory!

So what is the weight loss challenge with this sweet foodstuff? It isn't with the real is with the faux honey...the imposters out there.

I'm a big label reader, but when it comes to the "honey bear" I always assumed he (she?) was filled with the healthy nectar. Turns out that may not be the case...

According to the National Honey Board packages that are strikingly similar to the real honey bear are making their way onto our grocers' shelves...filled with honey-flavored syrup--there may be little to no honey in them thar b'ars!

Is nothing sacred?

Sugar always poses a big challenge to folks wanting to reach their health, fitness and weight loss goals...and we read lots of labels knowing that sugar is hidden in so many packaged products...but we may have been lax when it comes to reaching for the bear or other honey packages.

The good news is reading a label to check for honey purity is easy...if it's real there's only 1 ingredient: honey!