Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lose Weight Over the Holidays? Yes I Can!

How many times have we heard (or said) that it is impossible to lose weight over the holidays?

Granted, if we look at it on the surface it would seem to be pretty darned hard. What with all the extra treats around. People are giving food, bringing it to the office, making special meals...and everything this time of year seems to be packaged with extra fat or sugar--or both.

So how does one lose weight over the holidays without coming across as the next big Grinch or feeling like we totally missed out?

The first step is to decide that it truly is possible. Yep, your attitude about it is crucial. As long as you say and believe that you cannot lose weight over the holidays, then believe me, there is no way that you will. Oh, you could starve yourself and have a slight dip but it won't last.

On the other hand, if you repeat often enough "It is possible to lose weight over the holidays" or better yet, "I can lose weight over the holidays" then you will actually begin to believe it. You will even start to see ways that make it possible and perhaps even easy!

Does this mean that you can eat gallons of ice cream covering plates of pies, platters of meats and cheeses and all the food you can possible stuff into your face? Well...I've never tried those affirmations!

What I do know is that when you start to believe that something is possible, it becomes possible. Maybe you end up eating less, while still enjoying your special holiday favorites--just in smaller quantities, or you end up moving your body more, or maybe your body processes the food more effectively...or maybe your focus is shifted off the food and put somewhere else. Don't really know the "how" at least not for everyone. For myself it seems to be a combination of all the above.

When I remind myself that it is possible to lose weight (or maintain weight) over the holidays...or at any time, for that matter...I become more aware of my health choices. I crave foods less. I move my body more. I'm certainly not dieting--they don't work anyway--I'm enjoying my favorite treats and even some that aren't my favorites. I know that when I have a positive attitude about losing weight then I am in control and life is just so much easier...and no one thinks I'm a party pooper either!

Here are some affirmations for losing weight over the holidays:

It is possible to lose weight over the holidays
My body craves foods that nourish it
I can enjoy holiday treats and still lose weight
I move my body and feel good
The holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy friends and family
I am loving and loveable and I feel great
My body sheds excess fat easily
I love this time of year because it sets me up for success for the new year
My body naturally reaches the weight that is healthy for it

I was reminded of this simple shift in thinking when I watched Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life again recently. You don't have to be "sick" to benefit from the film although people with a variety of illnesses have benefited from Louise's teachings. I used her affirmations and inspiration in my own 125 pound weight loss journey and so I totally recommend her book and film, but I'm partial to the film. I own and suggest the complete set that has the affirmation toolkit and extra interviews.

Hay House, Inc.

Happy Healthy Holidays to You!Link

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weight Loss Pledge: Making and Keeping It

Have you noticed we tend to make the pledge to lose weight at night (again? finally? once and for all? for real this time?)? Okay, maybe it is mid-afternoon...but it seems like we never pledge to lose weight early in the day. And when we do make the pledge we always want to start "tomorrow."

I figure we make the pledge to start the next morning because we want the fresh slate of a new day...or maybe because we want the head start not eating while we sleep gives us!

But how many mornings arrive where we find our resolve has vanished. Maybe we wake up hungry, or maybe it is something else.

My theory is we feel fatter later in the day. Our bellies distend a bit further from food not yet digested. We swell from water retained in our not properly flushed systems.

We wake feeling less bloated and gravity hasn't worked its black magic on us...weighing us down all day long yet. This can lead us to thinking that maybe our situation isn't really that bad. Poof, our best laid plans from the night before disappear on the cool morning air.

So why is it that there is an abundance of weight loss pledges made and so few kept? It has got to be more than the difference between evening and morning.

I believe one of the reasons the pledges slide away so easily is because the night before we were committing to a diet and all the negative connotations behind that word hidden by the shadows of darkness are strong in the light of day.

Instead of dieting, (we do know that diets don't work, right?) let's commit to Refusing to Diet.

And let's do it right now.

No matter what time it is. Don't say "tomorrow."

If you are feeling compelled to say "I really want to lose weight" then the time to start is NOW not in the morning. Not tomorrow. Not Monday. Not on the 1st. Not next year. It is NOW. This instant.

Because it isn't about a diet. It isn't about restricting yourself for chunks of time known as days or weeks or months. Losing weight successfully is about making small changes that you can live with--for a healthy lifetime.

So raise a big glass of water and toast to your health--from this moment:

I choose to regain my health and drop this excess weight. I Refuse to Diet and here's to my healthy, energetic, slender body--I deserve it!

Cheers to that!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Diet Nightmares of Thanksgiving Past

Today as I was making turkey soup (one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities) I flashed back to past Thanksgivings when I would deprive myself of foods I loved because I was dieting.

Particularly memorable was the very first Thanksgiving that I made on my own, in my apartment.

I was a sophomore in college and had been cast in a theater production (Boccaccio Rhythm Theater…a bawdy collection of stories based on Boccaccio’s Decameron from the 1350’s…yes, this was a musical based on the era of the Black Plague.) OK, so that’s a long side note, the point was we were required to be present for rehearsals the day before and day after Thanksgiving. Since it was 100 miles each way and I didn’t have a car, there was no way I could go home for Thanksgiving.

Thus my first Thanksgiving away from home, my parents came to see me, and I prepared the full feast. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie (from fresh pumpkins) and a mock mincemeat pie for Dad, his favorite. I don’t remember what else I made, but there was ample food for probably dozens of people even though there were just 4 of us—but that’s part of the Thanksgiving tradition, right?

Sounds like a pretty good memory right? Everything turned out well, to my recollection.

The thing was, I wouldn’t eat a bite of it.

Because I was dieting.

You see, that summer I had gone on the now-infamous “liquid protein diet.” I drank less than 400 calories a day. I was coaching and teaching swimming, so I swam my laps and was in the water pretty much all day long. It worked. I ended up losing over 60 pounds by the time I was done—about 15 more than I should have as a matter of fact.

At the beginning of November that year I weighed in at 110 pounds. I thought I was still fat and I was determined not to gain the weight back. So when I was up to 113 pounds right before Thanksgiving I decided that I wouldn’t eat again until I lost the 3 pounds. This was actually the method the diet prescribed and boy, did I follow it to the letter.

But I couldn’t stick to it. Not for long. This is one of the very real reasons diets don't work. Because I never dealt with the emotional reasons behind my eating, I was destined to ultimately overeat and gain weight.

I’m not saying I’m perfect these days, but I’m sure a lot better! I eat for health and for pleasure…and, yes, sometimes I eat for emotional reasons even though I know that’s not the healthiest choice. Taking of the mantle of perfection has really been liberating for me and allows me to love myself as I am now and allows for me to grow and become even better in the future.

That is something I am extremely grateful for!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Course in Weight Loss for Less

If you are a fan of Marianne Williamson, then you might know about her new book "A Course in Weight Loss" which Oprah was touting on her show recently. I've learned it is available in book (hard cover only) and CD (6 CD set) formats.

List price for the book is $24.95, for the CDs $29.95

You can get the book here and save yourself $5, or get the CDs and save $6.

This is new stuff, so I haven't yet read or listened, but love Marianne's other works so I'm betting it is great. Plus, if Oprah likes it... ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank God I'm Not Dieting

This is absolutely the worst time of year to try to diet. The sights and smells of food are everywhere, and the association of food with good times and family are so deeply entwined during the holidays that start this week and wend through December that it seems if you diet you are eschewing family not fat.

So what is a person to do? After all, studies show that the average American gains 5 pounds between roughly Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Do you give in and decide 5 pounds isn't so bad, I can get rid of that in the new year? Or do you manically cut calories wherever possible in the faint hope that you will be thankful to be "below average" for once in your life?

How about neither of those options?

Look, in the "old days" if I only gained 5 pounds over the holidays I would have been ecstatic! Geez...I was known to gain 20 pounds in a weekend--and it all seemed to land on my hips, overnight, just by looking at food much less eating it.

So how do we avoid packing on pounds without missing out on the holidays?

First make sure you don't label foods as off-limits or put them on some list titled "Forbidden Foods"...that is a path to disaster, if not now it will come back to bite you in your thighs later. By making favorite holiday treats taboo you just want them more...the little kid inside of you feels deprived and so you, at some point, when you least expect it, go off the deep end into the binge pool.

Instead, make sure you have lots and lots of healthier choices that you love as well. Make it easy to snack on those and to have flavorful, healthy choices available during meals. For example, I love grilled asparagus...so I splurge and got this vegetable I normally associate with springtime and will have it with my turkey. Notice I said, that you love! This isn't about having healthy choices that feel like punishment...if you hate brussel sprouts this is not the time to try a new recipe with them in it just because it is "healthy"!

Take what you like but leave the rest. If you are like me, there are some Thanksgiving traditions that you can do without. If you are the cook you might actually get away with not serving them...but if your least favorite is the apple of your honey's (or parents' or kids') eye then, guess what...you know you are going to have it around. Just because it is on the table doesn't mean it has to end up on your plate!

I might be brought up on charges of treason, but I really am not a big stuffing fan. People have told me I "have to" try their recipe...that if only I find the right recipe I will be a convert. I finally figured out that it is okay that I just don't like it...I don't "hate" stuffing, but I'd rather have my calories in the form of more mashed potatoes or pie...but that's just me.

Remember, this is not the last time you will have this meal, or this dish! In our age of convenience we do not have to relegate eating turkey and pumpkin pie to only Thanksgiving. When you reach for the cranberry relish or the sweet potato casserole or other treat, take a couple bites knowing that even if the unthinkable happens and there is no more that day, you can always get more!

Make it about people, not food. Connect with the people at the table more than the food on your plate. Holidays are about stories, about family, about friends. Yes, we share good food, but make the food the garnish while the "main course" is the conversation. And if you are talking and listening and obviously having a good time, chances are good no one will notice if you skip the seconds--including you!

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I have given up dieting. It didn't ever work for me...so why stress about it? Instead I focusing on what is really important. I'm going to savor the food I do eat and be grateful for its abundance; I will have some healthy food and some pie and ice cream too; I will eat comfortably knowing that there will always be more where that came from; and I will really connect with my loved ones this holiday season. That's a lot to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eating Ice Cream and Losing Weight Successfully

Everything is relative...and so, relatively speaking yes there is healthy ice cream.

This article from Shine gives you some choices: America's Healthiest Ice Creams and Yogurts

They give you all sorts of numbers....calories, fat grams, etc, if you are into that.

What is super important to keep in mind is the portion size. The article is citing buying a serving in a ice cream shop--not a container in the grocery store. A "serving" or scoop is about 1/2 cup.

It is tempting to say for the same money I can buy a pint at the store (when it is on sale)...but if you find that you would eat the entire pint then you are better off paying more per bite and getting a cup--or you will find yourself emptying the container. In that case multiply the calories quoted by 4. Yep, there are 4 servings in that pint.

Whether you choose one of the lower calorie suggestions or you are like me and really are a dark chocolate fanatic, buying a scoop instead of a pint can help us savor a favorite treat without throwing our sugar senses totally out of whack.

I know some people like to buy low-fat, or low-sugar, or ice milk sorts of desserts. That's fine if you honestly like the taste. If not, you are better off enjoying smaller portions of foods you really like. That keeps you from feeling deprived, which is a direct, "do not pass go" ticket to a binge!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weight Loss Tip: Go for Color

One of the easiest ways to make sure you are getting a good balance of nutritional elements is to have lots and lots of color in your diet. That is a super tip for losing weight, too, because in general if it is naturally colorful it tends to be lower in calories and fat.

Of course there are exceptions...like my personal favorite, ice cream...it can often have a lot of color to it, even if it is all natural. But the added sugar and fat doesn't make it the healthiest choice...at least not for every meal, every day!

The point is to move away from the bland, beige meals. Enjoy the rainbow...either in a meal, a day, or over the course of several days.

Today was a "red letter day" for me...

What do I mean by a red letter day? Well I had lots of red foods, of course. This gave me great taste, good complex carbohydrates and lots of lycopene for good measure!

I had broiled Provencale tomatoes and beets for example. I love how easy they are and how you can take advantage of a hot oven created for one to make the other!

If you've only ever had pickled beets, give baked beets a try. I'm not fond of pickled beets but I love beets baked or boiled.

Baked Beets
Heat the oven to 350.
Wash the beets and clip off the greens, leaving about an inch or two on the beet. Do not remove the root.
Place the beets into an oven proof dish (with a lid) in a single layer.
Add a small amount of butter or olive oil and salt & pepper if desired...or just leave them plain.
Bake in the oven until tender. The time will depend on 1) the size of the beet and 2) the age of the beet. The younger the beets the less time it will take (maybe under 1 hour) Older beets will take longer.
Once the beets are done, I like to cut off the root and the remaining top and peel them before serving. But beets are great cold, so if you cook extra leave them unpeeled and store in the frig. They can be added to soups, salads, salsa...just about anything you want a little color on.

Provencale Tomatoes
Turn oven to broil.
Slice tomatoes into thick pieces.
Place on a broiler pan.
Brush a very light bit of olive oil on the tomatoes.
Sprinkle with herbs and spices. I love Herbs de Provence and a little pepper, but you can try Italian Seasoning or salt-free Spike or any herbs you prefer. Since tomatoes are naturally high in sodium I do not recommend using any salt on your tomatoes.
Place the tray in the broiler for about 10 minutes.
Keep an eye on the tray as everyone's ovens are different.
Serve the tomatoes hot.

You can serve the tomatoes as the main vegetable or sprinkled with feta cheese for a light lunch.

Maybe tomorrow I'll "go green".

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weight Loss Challenge: Swinging on a Moody Star

An important factor to our weight loss success...one that people often forget about or totally disregard...is our mood or mindset.

How we feel about ourselves, our bodies and even how we feel about food directly impacts our ability to lose weight.

It is extremely common to gain weight when we are feel depressed and to lose weight when we are happy. While that may be common, there are many people who gain weight when happy and, like my mother, lose weight when depressed. This demonstrates that there is no one "diet" or eating program that will work for everyone...not even in the same family. We all react differently to different foods, moods, exercise programs--everything!

If you are the type of person who, like me, tends to gain weight when depressed or stressed (or mad, or sad...or whatever) there is a way you can combat the trend!

Believe it or not, the real problem is not the food. If it were the food, you wouldn't be able to have it around ever...you'd eat it and gain weight all the time, not just when you are depressed. The problem is eating food in response to the emotion.

That is why substituting a lower calorie version of your favorite food or even substituting a healthy food doesn't solve the problem, because, I repeat, the problem is not the food...it isn't the calories.

By eating low-fat frozen yogurt in place of ice cream when depressed you are not changing the eating in response to emotion behavior. The behavior you changed was the one in the grocery store! Now, not only are you eating when depressed, you are probably less satisfied, but feeling deprived and yet martyr-like so you actually might eat MORE than before! Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

Replacing the chips with carrot sticks doesn't work either. Sure it is a healthy food, but we are still reaching into the frig (or pantry) and stuffing down our problems, rather than reaching into our heads and hearts and working on the real issue.

Don't want to work on your "issues"...don't think you have any? Fine. Whether you are numbing your feelings with food or not, you are engaging in unconscious eating.

Instead of eating, come up with a list of things that you can do that will help you feel more joy without getting you into the vicious cycle of eating and then gaining weight and therefore feeling bad again...which makes you want to eat, etc!

Everyone's list will be different...mine includes enjoying the sunrise, spending time in my studio, reading, doing puzzles, going for a walk and enjoying the fresh air, riding in the country...it could be playing with animals, playing on a swing, listening to music...the list can go on.

Write down YOUR list and keep it on the frig or the pantry...wherever the food you tend to reach for is stored...to help you remember your goal and give you some choices. It totally puts you in control...rather than eating unconsciously you begin to eat thoughtfully and that makes all the difference.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weight Loss Secret: Treat Yourself Like Your Car

I recently heard from a young man who said he knew he would lose weight even if he ate snacks and treats all the time as long as he burned more calories than he ate. He went on with some extensive math calculations on how many calories the average sedentary person burns and how he will be able to lose weight by adding some additional exercises and dropping his calorie intake to under 2000 per day.

My first reaction is, Heaven help this guy...I wonder if he has ever tried to diet before?

Begin healthy and losing weight is not just a math equation...and certainly not a simple one! First of all, there is no "average" person...we are all unique and we react differently to different foods, exercise and moods.

Second, even if you caloric intake is low, you can not heal your body and create healthy, lean tissues if you eat junk food all day long.

Rather than counting calories and trying to figure out the math of losing weight, treat your body at least as well as you would your vehicle. You wouldn't put sugar in your car's gas tank and expect it to run, would you? No, you give your car the proper grade gasoline and oil that it requires. You keep the radiator filled. You check your battery. You inflate the tires to get the best mileage.

Your body is a fantastically complex machine and deserves similar treatment. Give your body good quality fuel, as in lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats. Drink plenty of pure water (filter it yourself and save money and the environment) to help keep your system flushed and well regulated. By eating small amounts fairly often you keep your battery charged and like putting your car on cruise-control you can keep going and going without the roller-coaster ride of sugar rushes and crashes.

Quit counting calories and keep yourself on the highway of life, looking good and cruising by eating the right foods every day!